How to get your dog out of China.

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I also refer to this notebook as my PhD in animal logistics, it took 3 months and an unbelievable amount of luck. 

I had to leverage ever ounce of social capital, fledgling language ability, and straight up on- my-knees universal prayer to get this dog from his birth country to my birth country so that he could annoy me to open the door for him every 20 minutes for the rest of his life and bite my sisters new fiancé once. 

There was bribery involved, and a tricky situation where vaccine and quarantine dates  got either misquoted, misunderstood or changed. Luckily (and suspiciously) a dog of a similar breed and color had been rabies registered around the time that Murphy was supposed to have been rabies registered and so the veterinarian was able to politely forge some documents for an extra charge. A doggie visa was printed by a government employee who miraculously was in his office at the time and place that he was supposed to be. Two separate checkups from two seperate veterinarians in two seperate cities, the one that he was born and registered in and the one he would be flying out of, which was overkill but honestly worth it for the piece of mind. 

I scoured every pet market in the city to find a dog crate that was the correct dimensions and material, that would allow him to turn around and lay down comfortably, had wheels and could house a giant water bottle for the 15 hr nonstop flight where he would be held in an air conditioned pet cargo compartment. 

The airline, Korean Air, had the best record for not accidentally killing animals in flight. The time of year was a factor because this Frenchie breed is prone to overheating due to their adorable smush faced snout and therefore inability to cool down like a long nosed dog. 

And then, after hiring a van to drive us to the airport, a final nerve wracking check in and a snarling incident when the tags were placed on his crate, I bent down and looked him in the eye and gave him a pep talk. I said, “listen, you stay alive okay? No matter what happens, it’s going to be loud and scary and  you’re not going to like it. You just chill the fuck out and take a 15 hour nap and when you wake up we’ll be in LA and I will be there to take you out of this crate and give you some food and you can stretch your legs and then we’ll go home home where there is a backyard to play in and people who love us. I’ve got this, and you need to trust me, you snarling little shithead, and stop scaring these poor people for heavens sake.”

And then I got the plane and accepted the fact that the dog could die in flight and there would be nothing I could do about it. 

 

 

Imaginary fights I’ve had with people in my head

“Dude, I have depression. I didn’t always or I didn’t always know about it and once I did know about it I didn’t always manage it well. What the fuck makes you think that living alone in a shitty beige apartment, stressed about money and worried that my dog isn’t being loved enough is a good idea? You think I should be taking pride in independence, so that I can take care of myself, this IS me taking care of myself. This is what me taking care of myself looks like. I need to be around people who LOVE me, who care about whether or not I’m going to slit my wrists in the bath tonight. The fact that I’m not crying on a bathroom floor right now is huge win for me. The only thing I’m going to apologize for is allowing you to think that you’re entitled to an opinion about how I run my life. You’re not, so you can keep your unsolicited, patriarchal, misogynistic irrelevant thoughts to yourself. They only speak volumes about your own insecurities and illusions of security anyways.”

Mental Health Palate Palette, 2018.             Medium: anti-depressants, earplugs, lighter.  

Mental Health Palate Palette, 2018.             Medium: anti-depressants, earplugs, lighter.  

Scrabble

the scrabble story is the one where I’m supervising and assisting a game of scrabble in my English club and one kid put down the word “sex” and everybody lost their minds and after twenty minutes of uproar Everyone composed themselves and the very next kid puts a fucking Y down to spell “sexy” and then there was a riot and we got nothing done that day. 

 

 

if i'm going to work for a crazy bitch, it might as well be me.

july 2 - 10:45pm

 

i liked doing the military time. 

 

if i’m going to work for a crazy bitch, it might as well be me. 

 

Alora the psychic said that I needed to write. Before I do my laundry, before anything else. Immediately. She also said that Severus Snape (he doesn’t look like Alan Rickman) is one of the forms my spirit guides take. How cute, he and Albus Dumbledore, and the rest of the angels are waiting on me. Thanks you guys. She said I can play with the rest of the vampires, they’re cool with it. I don’t get left behind. i used to climb three flights of concrete stairs just to get to my bed everyday. i used to load my bike up with all kinds of garbage from Century Mart and then physically pedal my way home. I can’t believe Debbie lived there for so long dude. That place really brings the crazy out of you, but her crazy and mine too, is tolerating a bad situation for way too long. Putting up with too much bullshit. Too much poison for one life. i was happy with the amount of coffee i was drinking though. coffee and pastries and muslim noodles, i would like to see Debbie again. Maybe i’ll write her an email, and tell her about the art show. OCC Jim said “good for you, really going for it.” like there’s another option. They have no idea how painful not doing the thing was. When I’m doing not the thing, the voices are berating me. berating me in my own head. fucking ew. but when i’m doing the things, they stop. its not the same as the angels, the angels don’t interfere. If i don’t do the work, they get louder and louder and louder. but when i’m doing the work they go away and i can hear what i need to hear from the angels. it’s like they can’t even be bothered to raise their voices over the devils. they go get a drink while i manage my demons. 

 

there. is that brilliant? 

 

lets go around the world together. lets fuck in every country. lets get into some bodies of water. we’re running out of time, something delicious and magical is being wasted. i just know it. 

 

ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh 

 

hung man - you’re being hung here whether you like it or not. You’re being held here, you might as well shift your perspective. You’re going to be miserable and uncomfortable either way. You might as well get something useful out of it, like something no one has ever seen before. something you have to be tortured to see. 

 

something you have to be tortured to see. something you have to be tortured to see. 

 

i know. don’t ask me to not know the things that i know. 

 

photographers explain life. 

    explain one of the following terms: 

    who is your favorite photographer?

    what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for a photo?

    where’s the best place photography has ever brought you?

    what’s wrong with the world today?

    a huge knowledge base is in danger of disappearing. photographers are the most interesting people, its like an OCD nerd and a spacey difficult demanding landscape painter had a lovechild. we’re survivalists and also haunted by dust. we’re not even participating in this world, we’re just straight up looking for good compositions, good light, good selfies all the damn time. I don’t really care what you guys are doing, I care what it looks like. I’m nonstop flattening scenes into 2D and then rearranging the objects until they’re optically superior. No wonder I am so intolerable.

 

feminist rant from 2016

Nobody thinks men and women are equal in ability. There are things men can do and things women can do as a result of the different equipment sets they’re handed at birth. What the feminist movement seeks is equality in VALUE. We seek to ensure that women and men are equally free from oppression. If men are 100% free from oppression and women are 95% free from oppression then even though both genders and a percentage free from oppression, they are still not equally free. What the fuck is so hard to understand about that? If women are being paid less over the course of their lifetime, then that’s all the evidence I need to know that the problem is men. I don’t need to know anything else. If women are making different choices in their lives because of their being women, then the problem is still gendered. Putting a personal decision in between two competing identities does not do anything to your argument. There is a way to be both a woman and a human who is paid absolutely top dollar for her skills and experience that is down to the cent equal to another human who is not a woman. There may not be a way to do that within our current system, but there is a way to do it. Get some nerds to figure out how, and then just do that. We don’t need to cling to a dinosaur work culture when the next big thing is MAMMALS, baby MAMMALS. And the craziest thing is, men would totally benefit from equality in the work force. They are stressed out and testosteroned up, why don’t you guys take a fucking break. Maybe 4 million dollars is okay. Maybe let a woman have 1 million of your dollars and see what happens to the world. It just might get better. And then we won’t have to start cutting dicks off.

In the year I came back from China.

 

In the year I came back from China I allowed you to break my heart three more times. By that point I just didn’t know of any other way to BE aside from heartbroken. My mother-in-law met us at the airport, and separately my brother, as it had been made clear to both families that we would not be cohabitating. I started crying as soon as I saw her. The stress of the long confusing flight (where we took a break from hating each other to hold hands and pass flirtatious notes) loosed an ocean of suppressed tears from my tiny human eyes. I still loved you. Even though I had already been crying everyday for a year, it seemed there were still 7 oceans more to come. I had become and still continue to be a person who cries unapologetically in public, another fun revelation. She told me, through her own ocean, that no matter what, I would always be her daughter. I have often wondered how on earth you could stand there, and see that, and not tear your own eyes out of your own head with your own hands. You must be a very strong person. 

 

In the year I came back from China I slept on an air mattress in the living room. The dog would bark and snarl at every noise throughout the night for months and months. It didn’t matter, I couldn’t sleep, and when I could it was like a cold disgusting coma that I couldn’t wait to get away from. I started slipping the loop handle of his leash around my ankle, so that when he startled at the sound of a car door closing down the street, I wouldn’t have to get up to quiet him. It was just easier to tie his rage, confusion and fear to my own. I didn’t leave the house for weeks, and when I did, I needed a sister to escort me. I was so fragile that even trips to beloved Target were too overwhelming and had to be scheduled, planned, rehearsed. 

 

In the year I came back from China the thin perfect blue of our California sky kept me company and I spent hours marveling at how un-Chinese it was. I avoided all people who would inevitably ask, how’s your husband? Sometimes I would lie, “he’s fine”, and sometimes I would tell the truth, “I have not a single fucking clue”. The answer that worked the best was “we’re not really getting along right now” (accompanied by a small nervous smile). That one worked well because it put an end to the innocent yet highly personal line of questioning and still would illicit a small show of delicious pity from the other party. A pity that I soon learned to expect, demand and then became addicted to. Not like heroin addicted, or cigarette addicted, more like just a little teeny tiny weed habit. An addiction that could be reasoned with. The first person to call me out on my pity habit was David, in his bathtub, whilst rubbing my feet. But that’s really more of a second year story. 

 

 

 

 

Love letters - 2100T, 1 AUG 2010 - microwavable gross

Dear Sweets, 

I’ve come home from another busy day at the office. I should correct myself - not home, it’s Residence Inn Suites, from the folks that brought us Marriot. It’s all right, but it’s too bad I don’t get to stay in the Presidential Room. I wish I was with you. 

Right now, I’m really tired and I can barely write. I’m also complaining that I’m getting really fat because this stupid course makes me eat all fucking day long at restaurants. I’m going to strangle the next flunky that raves about Applebee’s or Outback Steakhouse. Did I tell you that Outback Steakhouse is microwavable gross. 

Anyway, are you mad that I still haven’t written anything romantic? I wish my letters we so good that you could rub one out from just reading them. 

Did I tell you that I hate the Army? Fuck.

 

Love, Alex

Love letters - 26 APR 2009 - unbelievable melodrama of men

Sweets, 

I’m writing from Reception Battalion, which is a week-long limbo-waiting-room before I descend into Basic Training. Most of my time is spent in long lines to process medical and administrative stuff, and if not there, I’m standing in formation for hours. With so much boredom teetering on torture, all the guys are begging to endure the pain of basic training. I try to deal with the anguish by remembering our good times, like the time you were using my feet as a trampoline, or the day we spent together on mini-honeymoon. I’ve been dying to hear your voice on the phone. 

My fear of running has completely subsided. My new fear is how I’m going to cope with the reoccurring missing-attacks. I can’t even begin to explain how much I miss you and I love you. 

To put aside my emotions, I want to touch on one specific theme of my training, rather than explain a million different themes. This letter’s theme is the unbelievable melodrama of men. I thought melodrama was something that mainly resided in the women. Out of the 60 man platoon, about one-third are wannabe alpha males that try to act out like a natural leader that can inspire us to be out best and utilize our fagfuck potential. These people will try to micromanage us every second about the dumbest crap - freaking out about the drill sergeant storming through the dorm, or telling people to put their canteen on the other left pocket, instead of the right pocket. Then the other one third of the platoon gets hyper-sensitive when being told what to do by a fellow peer. The other one third is fine. As far as demographics, you’ve got blacks from the hood, redneck and every other group you can think of. 

Sweets, I love you so much. My writing creativity is shot because all I think about is you. I know this is rough for you too, but just remember your husband is always thinking about you.

 

I love you, 

A

An elaborate sailing metaphor - part one

David, okay. I get it. You don’t even want to text me. Fine. You’re still mad at me, fine. It’s fine. You fucking idiot, fine. But you’d better be SO damn happy dude. This girl had better be “the one”. She’d better be sucking your dick just the way you like and rubbing your neck before bed. There had better be pancakes on the weekends and dog beach afternoons. If you ever hesitate to go home because you know she’s there, or pause outside in the hallway before unlocking your own damn door then you’re the biggest idiot in the world. Just because I wasn’t able to Amazon Prime myself to your doorstep in a neat tidy package with a bow in my hair. Just because I needed a minute to stretch my legs and fill my lungs full of air. Just because I’m on my own damn timeline and not yours doesn’t mean you can’t love me dude. You have no idea what happened to me. You never asked and I never told you. So here it is, not that you'd even care to know. 

Don’t get me wrong, this is still the story of a white girl from Orange County. There is no rape, no real violence and nobody dies (except a few grandparents). But within those parameters this is a story of a very real and precise pain followed by a long,  messy betrayal. It is also the story of how I found my way back into the drivers seat of my own crazy life; bad decisions, good decisions, angry animals and all. And like how I’m soooooooooooooo fucking happy about it.  

 

Imagine you’re on a big beautiful old wooden ship, very rustic lots of potential, capable of a lot. Lots of ammo, lots of provisions, a capable captain (well educated, good family) and a dog who can’t swim. There’s an itinerary, a map, a compass, a plan, what could go wrong? There is a sky above us and clean blue water below, what is there to be afraid of? Sure, you don’t know how to sail, sure. Sure everyone you know thinks you’re crazy, sure. But there’s a fresh breeze and sunshine and a whole world to see and you’re in half in love with the man (surely that’s enough to go on???) and half in love with the adventure. (That’s 100 percent love you guys, the math checks out.) That’s it, so you just go. 

It’s a bit like jumping off a diving board. The most insane part physically is the part where you’re in the air, but the part where you’re in the air is the part where you have nothing to do and no control over your trajectory. It’s the most insane, but also the most peaceful because you’ve been relieved of all decision making responsibilities. All there is to do is fall. You couldn’t not fall, even if you wanted to. The part where you’re the most secure is the part where you’re the most freaked out, and the part where you’re least secure is the part where you’re most at peace. All the fear lives in the decision. 

So you go, and you sail far far away. At first, it’s easy, one of you navigates the other one steers, one of you cooks, the other one cleans, one of you fishes the other walks the dog, one of you does the laundry and other one mends the sails. And every day is bright and fresh and clean and the sex is good. You feel safe, even though you’re in the middle of nowhere and everyone thinks you’re crazy and you’re still learning how to sail but it’s coming together. 

Then a storm comes, fine, you expected it. NBD. The storm hits and it cracks the ship and water starts to leak in, by the time you notice it’s knee deep. Fine, you deal with it everyone warned you of this with all that “well, marriage is hard” shit. Captain does not seem concerned, as a matter of fact Captain is hard at work holed up in his quarters working on something amazing that will turn the ship into a spacecraft. And once the ship is a spacecraft, we won’t have to worry about the water leaking. But there is a bit of a problem, you see the spacecraft is really important and really complicated and you love him so you should help out, right? Right. He can’t cook or clean or fuck you anymore. He has to work on the spacecraft, he’s the only that can do it and his mother told him that her personal priest had a premonition from g-d that this spacecraft is important, it’s his purpose here on Earth and it’s more important than everything, even you. Really? Even you? Yes, yes even you. It’s sad but it’s true. He loves you, you believe him. He loves you, you believe him. Ok, you say, I can do this. I can sail the ship. I’m smart and I’m pretty and I’m strong. Why can’t I sail the ship? There’s absolutely no reason, I went to college. I’ll sail the ship and walk the dog and fish and mend the sails and negotiate with pirates and navigate by starlight and cook healthy meals and clean everything. And YOU will build us a spaceship, cool. Deal? Deal. 

Ok so you do all that, and it’s really hard. And the leak from the first storm is still there, and things start to slip through the cracks. First the laundry piles up, and then the sink with dishes and then the dark circles. You start to feel like a captive in your own life.
You’re never relaxed, you’re never pretty, you’re never clever enough or fast enough or comfortable. The hits just keep coming, another storm, another wave and once in awhile Captain emerges from his lair to berate you. The ships falling apart, the dog is sick and lonely and bored and destructive. There’s nothing in the fridge, no dry places to sleep, nothing warm to wear. You don’t know where you are or how you got there and on the horizon is nothing but pirates and dark clouds. Your eyes are always full of tears and your muscles always ache. The sharks circle closer. Another storm. The mast cracks, another storm. You limp along a little while longer. 3 years go by, just a little while longer. You cling to fantasy: the spaceship will be done soon. this is just a test. no one said sailing was easy. soon we’ll be in peaceful waters again. there won’t be any storms in space, only rainbows and good sex and warm clean beds with white sheets. In the very end only one of the fantasies comes true: one day you will look back on sailing and feel proud that you fought so hard for so long. 

Then one day, terrible like all the rest, your Captain appears with a big fucking smile on his face. He’s done it, it seems. The spaceship is ready and you can put all this shit behind you. It’s true he confirms, it is done. It’s done and it’s magnificent.

 

to be continued...

This is my personal Constitution - Max Ehrmann - Desiderata

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story. 

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism. 

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass. 

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore be at peace with G-d,
whatever you conceive Her to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy. 

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.