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Saturday, September 18, 2010


This is the sound of the planes in the night
Coming out of the darkness
And into the light
Shining alarmingly
Curiously bright

This is the sound of those murderous drums
The marching of footsteps
The twisting of thumbs
Over and over
Again here it comes

I’m on my way to San Francisco. An opportunity came up to travel with a group of people, some of whom I know quite well, and I decided to go for it. I have no specific plans in San Fran… I just want to go experience it. In spite of the fact that I lived in Cali for a period of time, I never made it to San Fran. I’m excited. I thought it would be the perfect closure to a summer that defied all my expectations.

I really expected to spend most of the summer on the Prairie, getting my brains fucked out, but that was not to be. The summer started out promisingly enough. I managed to get to the Prairie at least four days a week. It was shaping up to be my most social summer ever, with people talking to me like never before. I felt part of a community and while I wasn’t necessarily attracted to all of them, we all seemed to get along well. I thought I was really making friends for the first time in a long time. It wasn’t simply pleasantries that were being exchanged. Copious amounts of information regarding the gay community and what was going on in Minneapolis and Chicago was shared. The conspiracy theories were always my favorites, followed by gossip about any given individual that happened to appear on the radar of the Prairie die-hards. There was also a great deal of speculation as to the motivations of the Parks and Recreation department (or as I liked to call them, Parks and Wrecks) and their plans and maintenance of the Prairie. They mowed it once early in the season and everyone was up in arms about it. Fortunately that was the only time they chose to do that and, last I checked, the Prairie grasses were as high as an elephant’s eye.

For me, everything changed on June 7th, with the death of one of my Chihuahuas, Paco. I wrote about that in an earlier entry, found here:

His passing shook me in a way that I had not experienced in a long time, if ever. I rarely cried before that date, but since then tears have become an almost daily thing. A month later, I thought I was feeling better, well enough to return to the Prairie. But my return would be short-lived.

Mona, my three and half year old Deer Chihuahua had a genetic abnormality that needed surgical attention. Two weeks later, she had recovered sufficiently and I thought things were about to return to normal, but complications set in. Then she developed a series of severe reactions to the drugs she was taking post surgery, and then complications to the drugs prescribed to counteract the symptoms of the original reactions. Then she lost the use of her back legs.

Spoiler alert: It doesn’t end well.

It all came to a head at 3:00 am, on August 7th – two months to the day since Paco went away. I’m not going into details, but the experience – its tactile elements (the humidity, the stark of night, the silence, the terror) – haunt me to this day. She was only three and a half years old. I felt cheated. She was only in my life for six months. She was the most beautiful dog I have ever seen. The few photos I have of her simply don’t do her justice.

She came into my life at a time when I wasn’t sure I had room in my heart. Paco’s enlarged heart and faulty valve had just been diagnosed and I was hopeful that the drugs prescribed would delay the inevitable and improve his quality of life. Mona came with a lot of emotional baggage. She lived in an apartment and was never allowed to go outside, except to do her business. Her owner had to give her up because there was a three year old in the house who was hell bent on terrorizing the poor dog, to the point where injury to the animal was a distinct possibility. Naturally, she was less than thrilled when she first arrived at my house. She had never been around other dogs before and there was a definite period of adjustment. She was terrified of being outside, and walks were a new experience undertaken with great trepidation. But she did adjust. In fact, she and Paco got along quite well.

Then things began to go badly for Paco, which took a lot of attention and time from Mona.

In the end, it isn’t so much that I feel cheated because I lost her so soon, but I feel horribly guilty for having cheated her out of a great deal of quality time. She deserved more. Her beauty and elegance astounded me. I loved to watch her move and sit. In my mind and soul, she remains this beautiful ghost, an enigma I never got the chance to solve.

In the end… I will never know what exactly went so terribly wrong. It was a series of unfortunate events that seemed to feed on each other to the point of total annihilation. I will never know the true cause of her deteriorating health or if I made the correct decision when I put her down. That guilt kills me. It eats away at me, gnawing on the corners of my psyche. All I want is to have her back. All I want is a second chance. And so, I lapsed into silence, unable to write. Not really living, so much as existing while questioning that existence all the while.

For a brief time, it was just Beau, my 13 year old Chihuahua and I, left to sort through what remained in the wake of our losses. After Mona died, I told myself, no more dogs. Beau and I began to reconnect in a way that we had not been connected since our early years, alone, together. After all the drama of Paco and Mona’s deaths, I felt such relief, although I also felt the house had gotten much too quiet.

And then, along came Millie.

She’s two years old, weighs 4.8 lbs. and is blind. It’s a rescue that one of my sisters has been working on for over a year and a half. The circumstances and events of Millie’s first 2 years are rather horrific, to say the least. My sister was aware of the situation and kept asking if she could have the dog. Finally the owners relented and a week after Mona had died, I got a phone call. The timing sucked, but I couldn’t say no. I’m glad I didn’t.

Considering she is a full-blood Chihuahua and all that she has been through in her short life, Millie is an absolute sweetheart; so loving and sweet. I didn’t realize she was blind until three days after her arrival. I knew something was up, but it took a visit to the vet to confirm my worst fears. Amazingly, her condition seems to have no impact on her enjoyment of life and the people around her. She relies on her heightened senses of smell and hearing to navigate and her memory of spatial configurations is astounding..

I’m glad she’s part of my life. There remains a huge hole in my heart, but Millie now occupies a bit of it.

The night I took Mona to the emergency vet, as we descended into what felt like, not death, but the beginning of a lack of life, an Annie Lennox song came into my head and a month and half later, still has not left…

This is the sound of a baby’s first breath
The dying of foot steps
The touching of flesh
To hold in your memory
To keep by your chest

We’re lost…

And, now… we are found.