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Have a Pleasant Stalking…

Mood: Yawney
Drinking: Straight-up caffeine

For all of you bored at work, and all of you Internet stalkers, you’ll be pleased to know there’s an official MySpace page for cinepoetry. Check out This Blank Page Productions.

MySpace. Not just for drunken teenagers.

In other news, it was a super-crazy weekend. Boy’s birthday was on Friday, as was the awards ceremony at the Berkeley Film Fest. (A photo of the shiny award we received is on the pics page at the aforementioned MySpace spot.)

Then Saturday, in addition to being the silver screen debut day for “TwoFaced”, was also the day that Yoda went to meet Jesus. So it was a very rollercoaster sort of happy/sad day. I was torn between being completely freaked out to see my face all volkswagen-sized in the theater (with popcorn in hand) and being completely teary-eyed imagining Yoda frolicking about marshmallow meadows amongst the hamburger trees up in dog heaven.

Then on Sunday, because us cinepoetry chicks are gluttons for punishment, we shot our 13th cinepoem, “Delusions of Daedalus”. (Thanks to Angela for lending us her rooftop, her snake, and her camera skills. And thanks to the Tates for the hair-fixin’ and craft services.) Yes, I said “snake”. You’ll have to be patient to see that one, but you won’t be disappointed. (Unless you’re thinking of Anaconda, then you’ll definitely be disappointed, ‘cuz this snake was significantly smaller and more ladylike.)

All-in-all, it was a gorgeous, thrilling, jam-packed, emotional weekend and I am ready to sleep for a week.

-Lo, who agrees with Caroline that dog heaven also has king-sized beds made of cupcakes. You know, so you can eat AND sleep at the same time. Enjoy, Yodes. Enjoy.

Two Weeks

Mood: Teary-eyed
Drinking: A toast to the Yodes

When the phone rang yesterday at 4 p.m., and the display said my sister was calling, I knew even before I answered that something was wrong. Call it sixth sense, sister sense, women’s intuition, whatever. I just knew.

My sister’s teary voice confirmed it. She was sitting in her car in the parking lot of a vet clinic, calling with the worst news any dog lover can get. Her dog was dying.

My sister’s dog is not just any dog. And I know all dog owners are prejudiced in favor of their furry beasts. But seriously. You haven’t known adorable-gentleman-giant-pig-dog until you know Yoda.

My sister met the Yodes in October of 2004. She was a newlywed, and her husband had been shipped off to Iraq just weeks after the wedding. She was living in a new town, alone, far from family, with few friends. I told her she needed a dog.

As my dog LeeLoo’s favorite auntie, my sister was well acquainted with the Boxer breed, so she began scouring pet rescue websites for some sort of Boxer-ish pooch. In one of her searches, she discovered a picture of a big ham-headed white Boxer/American Bulldog mix named Yoda.

Even though he weighed in at a good 110 pounds, the Yodes was living with a slew of thimble-sized Chihuahuas at a Chihuahua Rescue in Burbank, CA. He had been there for two years, since nobody in LA-land comes to a Chihuahua rescue looking for a husky galoot of a Yoda dog.

Yodes’ story was a sad one…his previous owner had died suddenly, and Yoda, being the delicate flower that he is, was so upset, he lost all his hair. The relatives of the deceased owner didn’t know what to do with a bald, chubby sad sack, so they dumped him at the pound. Enter Chihuahua Rescue Lady, searching for unwanted pocket-sized dogs. She felt so sorry for the big grieving Yodes, she packed him in with the tiny dogs and away he went.

Two years in purse dog rescueland were not kind to Yoda. In addition to his depressed state, loss of hair, and all around tubby condition, he also had a thyroid problem that went untreated for a long time.

So when my sister showed up at the kennel to meet him, Yodes wasn’t looking his best. He was bald in patches, had icky sores between his toes and big goobers in his eyes. But in spite of all that, he had the love. And my sister saw it. She called to tell me about the gentle giant she had discovered, and on a roadtrip south a couple of weeks later for sister weekend, I saw him for myself.

We took LeeLoo along to the kennel to see how Yoda would react. LeeLoo took one look at him, walked over, sat next to him and leaned up against him. They both sighed. My sister and I looked at each other, wide-eyed, and I said, “You have to get this dog!”

It was easier said than done. Turns out that Rescue Lady was also a wee bit crazy and liked collecting dogs more than she liked letting them go. So even though my sister filled out all the paperwork, had proof of good dog ownership qualities and everything else, she didn’t get to take Yoda home for three more months.

Finally, in January of 2005, Yoda became part of the family. He got a bath, a trip to the vet, medication for his various skin conditions and thyroid issues, and some nutritious, yet delicious kibble. Over the next year, the Yodes only got healthier and happier, taking walks to the beach and trips to San Francisco to hang out with his cousin LeeLoo. My sister’s husband returned from Iraq in early 2006, and Yoda was there to greet him at the door.

Over the past two years, the Yodes has provided endless entertainment, usually beginning with a phone call from my sister, “So, guess what Yodes did today?”

The list of things he tried to eat just kept growing, ranging from tea bags to styrofoam to a Duraflame log. In person, he was like a walking cartoon, a giant marshmallow of a pooch who wanted nothing more than to lean his head against your leg, slobber all over your knee, and get in some sloppy tongue kisses.

The Yodes had many talents. He could blow a drool bubble like it was bubble gum, poop in a perfect circle, and snore in an exact imitation of a giant pig.

He’s the sweetest beast to ever walk the earth, having nothing but love for everyone he meets. He has friends all over my sister’s town, from the elderly residents at the nursing home, to the toddler down the street, to the homeless guy on the corner. Everybody loves Yoda. And he loves them back, no strings attached.

Which is why it’s incredibly unfair that he has only two weeks left on this earth.

The phone call yesterday came immediately after the vet told my sister and her husband that Yoda has an aggressive form of untreatable cancer. There’s nothing they can do to treat it, they can only make him comfortable and give him the best two weeks any dog ever had on this earth.

As any dog person knows, the dog who shares your life quickly becomes more than a pet. They are your friend, confidant, your baby, your pride and joy. So the news that Yodes is not long for this world is unbearably heartbreaking.

As my friend S put it,
“He’s such a big, goofy canned ham of a dog, and it’s just not fair. I do know that Yoda’s last weeks are going to be the happiest, steakiest, up-on-the-furniturest, most spoiled-rotten weeks any dog ever had. I’m going to miss his bald patches; his hard breathing and huge grin; the way he used to follow Leeloo around like an enormous, lovestruck linebacker. Yodes, we hardly knew you.”

So here’s to you, Yoda… We love you. We will miss you terribly. There will never be another pig-dog like you. We’ll always remember your smile, your stinky breath, your gigantic pink belly, and the way you brought unabashed joy into our lives every single day. May your last weeks be heavenly. And may dog heaven be even better.

And when (god forbid) the LeeLoo’s turn comes, please wait there for her at the Rainbow Bridge. I know you’ll take good care of her.

-Lo, who thinks that a world without Yoda is a very sad world, indeed.

The Littlest Bitch

Mood: Off-Duty
Drinking: Sodapop

For all you LeeLoo fans out there, I have a new little treat for you:
The Loo has her very own store.

See, it all started a coupla months ago when I was dogsitting for my sister’s pup, the Yodes. I had my friend M come over with her bullydog, Winston, and we had a photoshoot bonanza in my dining room that involved a lot of children’s halloween costumes, “sit” and “stay” commands, and nummy bribes of the hot dog and snausage variety.

My intention was to create a hilarious 2006 calendar for family and friends, which I have done (now you know what you’re getting for Christmas!). However, everybody who sees the costume calendar asks if they can buy a copy. And who am I to let the LeeLoo fans down?

So I trotted on over to Cafe Press and hooked ya’ll up with not just a 2006 “Gone to the Dogs” Calendar, but some magnets and mugs and memorabilia, as well. Click here to have a look-see.

-Lo, who once tried out the taste of Purina, but spit it right back out. (Oh, like you haven’t?)

Girl Gang. Bang!

Mood: Is it Friday yet? No, really. Is it?
Drinking: Absofuckinlutely

Short, entirely uninspired update:

Two things in the works that I’ll tell ya about just so you feel all in the know and stuff…

#1: Cinepoem #4 has been chosen and is in the works. I recorded about 16 versions of it last night at M’s house and my throat now hurts from yelling. Yes, there are yelling versions. It’s an angry poem. Angry, angry, angry. And rhymey. Yes, shocking, I know.

And little C, this is one of those times when I wish you still lived up here, b/c I could SO use your help with the upcoming shoot for this. You would have about 63 great ideas for it. Call me and we’ll discuss.

#2: I am now in two girl gangs. Well, one is a club and one is a gang. But “gang” just sounds more scandalous, yes? The first is the Bitch Club, which is basically a ring of bitchy blogs. You’ll find the link to all the other bitches at the bottom my home page. Enjoy.

The second girl gang is the Girl Gang Distro, a snazzy little web site full of zines and things. And they’re carrying my book! Go check ’em out.

LeeLoo is also in a gang. She goes to this doggie daycare place once a week (I know, I know, I spoil my dog). Anyway, she’s formed a girl gang with these other two boxer girls named Wilma and Ruby. The three of them apparently rule the school and push all the other pups around. Yep. That’s my dog! Maybe I should make them all Pink Ladies jackets?

Alright, I have to go suck down some more diet coke and get something done today. I am once again dogsitting my sister’s giant pooch, the Yodes, and he put me in a foul mood this morning, leaning up against my legs and covering my black tights in white pooch hair whilst I was strapping on my Mary Janes. I’m still picking out spiky little Yoda hairs. Grrrrrrrrr!

-Lo, who has read the 6th Harry Potter book and doesn’t have a thing to say about it.

Marco

Mood: Cloudy
Drinking: Lipton’s

There is a poster
on the park bench
shouting your name
in 24 point bold.

This is how I find out you are gone.

[DENIAL]
Your picture stares out
smiling
like you did in the flesh
just four days ago
when you saw me walking
toward you up the path.
Except that was your real smile
the one that came before
you called me sweetheart
before you buried me
in a bear hug.

The smile on the poster
is professional.
Frozen for keeps now.
You are on display this way
wearing that horrible mintgreen jacket.
White hair all windtossed.
Nika laying at your feet.

The poster is streaked and
wrinkled with rain.

I make a scene without meaning to.

[ANGER]
This is what happens when you are dead.
The world does not end.
The clock does not stop.

Your friends raid your apartment
and take away your fake cherry TV tables.
Your melted pomegranate candles.
Your best glass serving platter.
Your broken dresser.
They take what they can use.
They take what they want.
The rest resides in a landfill.
The apartment still smells of smoke and dogs.
The apartment still smells of you.

[BARGAINING]
If I had never seen the poster
I’d never know you were gone.
I could still call you and
leave a message.
And wait for you to call me back.
In my head, you’d be sitting
in your chair smoking
your cheap cigars.
You would still be within reach.

[DEPRESSION]
I attend the memorial service.

Standing in the wind
fog boiling up over the cliff.
An unattractive redhead talks about
putting a plaque on the bench
so everyone will know it’s yours.
“I just have to come up with some words,”
she says.
I have a collection

of all the right words, but I

do not want to share.
Her makeup is made up
of hard crayola lines.
Her roots are gray and brown.

Your brothers are here and awkward.
The fat one, he sits like you.
Pleasantries are exchanged.
Everyone speaks in cliches.
The dogs are here, too.
And Nika. She is dull. Diminished.
She pushes her great dark head
against my leg, against any leg
in her path, just so someone
will reach down and touch her.
But no one is you.

They scatter your ashes

on top of the dunes.
The wind spits gray flecks
into my face.
I think that they should
have flung your pieces
out over the ocean.
Now you are landlocked.
Mixed in with the dust
and the dog shit.

I cannot stand for it.
But I do not move.

[ACCEPTANCE]
Today my friend got a bulldog
named Winston.
He’s one foot tall and fifty pounds.
He looks like a furry brown tank.
He leans against his collar
like a sled dog straining for speed.
He pulls her down the sidewalk as if
she were a featherweight.
As if she were nothing.
Someone should teach him how to heel.
I start to recommend that she call you.
And then I remember.

So I meet her, instead.

In the park, by your bench.
I show her how to gather the leash
just so. How to stand. How to command.

I am sure you would tell me
I’m doing it wrong.

But I’m just trying to keep you alive.

-Lo, wishing they had payphones in the afterlife.

The Perfect Drug

Mood: Shoulder to the grindstone
Drinking: Working on that recommended daily intake of water

It’s been a grey February. Not so much with the weather, although California has been drenched, dried off and then drenched again. It is the rainy season, after all, complete with landslides.

But the grey that’s been hanging around has been more of the mental variety. I have two very dear friends who have been going through some incredibly dark times, sometimes barely able to keep themselves from going under altogether. Sometimes I’ve woken up terrified that one or the other of them might have finally given in, let go, disappeared from the face of the earth altogether. Thus: greyness.

But both of them are stronger than they look. Stronger than they know. And they are fierce fighters. So now that they both have their feet set on the road to wellness, I’ve been laughing a lot more. Laughing with relief, with hope, with the lovely realization that sometimes you can actually write a whole long list of reasons that you’re glad you are alive. And *that* is saying something. Because sometimes when the Bell Jar descends, you’re hard pressed to come up with even one thing to write down, one thing that makes dragging your carcass out of bed worthwhile.

So, to celebrate, I spent the weekend in SoCal with Boy & Dog and my sister and her newly-adopted beast of a dog. In spite of the thunderous deluge that spanned most of the weekend, we managed to find a few pockets of sunlight during which we raced down to the beach for some surf and sand. I spent most of the weekend laughing. Really hard. To the point that my stomach now hurts because my laugh muscles were so out-of-use.

In the two years since we’ve adopted the LeeLoo, I’ve discovered that dogs can bring out the best in people. I’m an admitted misanthrope, and usually stalk around town without really looking at people. I have an aversion to talking to strangers that borders on phobia. But when I’m with LeeLoo and meet up with another dog owner, I’ll stop and chat. We’ll let the dogs do the butt-sniffing thing and have a completely pleasant conversation, then go on our separate ways feeling better about the world in general. It’s really weird how that works.

It may be that LeeLoo makes me laugh more because she’s such a clown. Boxers are known to be dorks of the dog world. Their monkey faces and childish antics make them great entertainers. And this weekend, wandering around my sister’s neighborhood with my little brown LeeLoo and her fat white Yoda, we spent a lot of time doubled over with laughter.

First, you have to understand that I am a DORK when it comes to my dog. I have been known to dress her in ridiculous outfits (and I know my friend J is HORRIFIED, absolutely horrified, if he’s reading this). Dogs in clothes are just unacceptable, I know. But. So. Funny. I’ve created a profile for LeeLoo on dogster.com, because I’m that much of a dork. And so it has been with a great sense of satisfaction that I have watched my sister (who used to ridicule me constantly) become a dog dork, too. The day she created a dogster profile for Yoda was a great day in sister history. (See LeeLoo on dogster here.
And Yoda here.)

My sister has wanted a dog for a long time. We grew up with Beagles and Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels all over the place, so all those in-between years of college and roommate housing sans dog were just kind of missing something. Once she and her boy got a place of their own last year, they began their dog search and eventually found Yoda’s sad story on Petfinder.com.

(Note: If you’re bored now, you might as well just skip on over the rest of it, because it’s just dog, dog, dog and more dog.)

Yoda, who is part Boxer and part American Bulldog (a big boy), fell on hard times over two years ago when his owner died suddenly of a heart attack. The Yodes was so upset, he lost all his hair. His deceased owner’s family didn’t want to pay the vet bills to get Yoda better, so they dumped him at the pound. He was scheduled to be put down when some people from a Chihuahua Rescue found him. I don’t know why they decided to take a 90-pound naked pink dog when they were really looking for tiny teacup-sized pooches, but they did and in doing so, they saved his life.

Unfortunately, nobody who comes to a Chihuahua Rescue looking for a waif-like Bit-Bit or Tinkerbell is interested in a big white brute who looks nothing like his greenish Jedi namesake but is instead polka-dotted with crusty bald patches and suffering from a severe case of doggie depression and really sour farts. So Yoda languished in the rescue kennel for two long years. And then my sister came along. And after much patience and paperwork on her part, Yoda had a new home.

And he’s loving it. He eats up the attention and is starting to drop a few pounds now that he has a girlfriend (that would be LeeLoo) and gets regular exercise. He’s made friends with the grannies and grandpas in the senior center next door and is proving to be excellent company for my sister.

So you put this big sweet nerd together with my little drama queen and you have a Vegas-level show on your hands. And all you can do is laugh.

Everything they did was funny. Sometimes it was the way LeeLoo got jealous whenever we paid too much attention to Yoda and so she would start doing all her tricks in a row on the other side of the room, as if to say, “Hey! Look at me! Over here! Look what I can do! Stop playing with that fat bitch and come over here and rub my belly!”

Other times it was the way Yoda snored like a fat old man. Or the way he tried to “romp” at the beach but ended up looking like an epileptic rabbit. It was the way LeeLoo shot Yoda incredibly dirty looks whenever he would stick his nose in her ear, which he did every five minutes or so, with loud and long snorting sounds. It was the way Yoda consistently poops in a perfect circle, looking over his shoulder to make sure he’s doing the job right.

It was ridiculous. It was stupid. It was perfect. The best kind of medicine for a weary and grey psyche. Double-dog therapy. I should do it more often.

-Lo, who knows she’s a total dog freak and refuses to be embarrassed about it.

Fare Thee Well

Mood: Waking up
Drinking: Toothpaste aftertaste

Yesterday my friend S and I took our dogs for a walk at Fort Funston. The Fort is not really a fort, not anymore. It may have been all soldiery and official at some point during World War I, but now it is just rolling dunes with rubbery ice plants, lots of twisted cypress and secret, sandy trails, and cliffs that fall off a hundred feet down to the beach below.

It’s the best place in the city to go dog-walking, because you can let your little pooch run free and wild with hundreds of other dogs. There are crows to chase and lots of butts to sniff and a watering hole with three or four perpetually filled bowls of water. There are caves and buttresses and a long run down a huge dune that leads to “Dog Beach” below. At dog beach you can cavort in the waves and fetch sticks and pee on driftwood–if you are a canine and you’re into that sort of thing.

LeeLoo loves it, and so does her boyfriend Nelson (S’s dog), and we were all having a grand old time–the dogs chasing each other in maniacal circles and S and I laughing at them until our stomachs hurt. I was especially looking forward to the highlight of every trip to Ft. Fun–stopping by the twin benches on the cliff path to see Dennis and his dogs Nika and Rocky.

Dennis is a dog trainer, and he worked miracles with us and LeeLoo when we first adopted her nearly 2 years ago. She was scared and aggressive toward other dogs and was known to try to rip balls off random men for no apparent reason other than that she didn’t like the shoes they were wearing. Dennis helped us turn LeeLoo into the lovable, happy, carefree little lump of a Boxer she is today.

He’s a grizzly looking guy–tall with a beer gut, a windswept white pony tail and a way of yelling that makes you toe the line like you’re in boot camp. He served in Vietnam with the K-9 troops and then ran a school of dog training in New York City for years. He also has a shady story about being on the lam and changing his name for awhile, but when we met him he had been living and training dogs in San Francisco for 20 years or more.

Dennis quickly became more to Bruce and I than just a dog trainer. He was like the gruff and burly uncle you hope comes to family functions. We invited him to dinner at our house so he could meet my mom and dad when they came to visit. He took us to his favorite taco place in the Mission. We’d talk about motorcycles (he used to ride) and sometimes we stopped by his house just to say hi. Despite how tough and hard he seemed on the outside, he was a big old marshmallow underneath. LeeLoo was his favorite pupil, and he’d would cry out in delight whenever we’d stop by the bench after a long walk at Ft. Fun.

“LeeLoo, baby!” he’d yell “Come over here and give me a kiss.” And she would, butt wiggling in glee, and he’d kiss her back. “Look at this face,” he’d tell friends, new students, random passersby. “Now that’s a face only a mother or a dog trainer could love!”

About a year ago, Dennis asked Bruce and I to help him write a dog training manual. He had all the information from years of experience, so he’d get it on paper and I’d pretty it up and Bruce would lay it out and the book was almost finished and ready to go. We saw Dennis last week and he was all excited about it. We made plans to get together for dinner and finish it up.

But when S and I stopped by the bench yesterday, Dennis wasn’t there. Instead, there was a huge pile of flowers and candles and some posters with pictures of dogs. I thought it was weird that somebody left a bunch of crap on a bench, and I kept walking. But S stopped and said “Oh, these memorials always make me so sad. I wonder who’s dog died?” So I turned around to look, too. But then I saw that the pictures stapled to the bench were not just pictures of dogs. They were pictures of Dennis. My Dennis. And they said he was dead.

I’ve seen people cause scenes in public before, shaking and wailing. And I’ve always walked by them thinking, “Calm down, freak!” But suddenly, I knew why they didn’t calm down. They couldn’t. Because I was shaking and wailing. “Dennis! Not Dennis!”

Our friend, our grizzly uncle, died of diabetes complications on Thursday. He was just here, and now he’ll never be here again. He was just here and he was fine. He gave me the customary hug and scratchy kiss on the cheek, “Hi, sweetheart. So good to see you.”

Dennis, wherever you are, we miss you. We mourn for you. And we desperately hope that you have some dogs to keep you company until we see you again.

-Lo, who doesn’t care how maudlin this entry is. It’s something she needed to do.

Mattresses and Mutts

Mood: Percolatin’
Drinking: Cranberry Raspberry Diet Snapple (so koolaidy)

It was much too short, as weekends often are, but I had a wonderful weekend and am strangely perky on this Monday morning. Not cheerleader-perky, mind you. That kind of perky just isn’t allowed in ladonna-land. More like I-just-got-a-new-CD-perky. Or the Lip-Service-catalog-just-arrived-and-i-have-lotsa-shopping-money-perky. Know what I’m sayin’?

Perhaps I can chalk my good mood up to the FABULOUS sleep i had last night in a brand new California King mattress with a pillow top and memory foam. It was like sleeping on a really snuggly cloud. Without all the pesky condensation that clouds most likely have. Not that I’ve ever snuggled in a cloud. Ok. Let’s just toss that whole analogy out the window. It’s just a kick-ass mattress, ok?

I think you know that you’re a real adult when you spend 2 hours testing out mattresses in a SleepTrain store and you describe it to all your friends as “a lot of fun.” Good god. I’m getting that boring already! It’s just that my mattress history has not been all that scintillating. (Pee-proof crib mattress to not-so-gently-used Twin Bed mattress to $200 queen-sized mattress complete with big pink flowers.) So to graduate to a 2 foot-high, very expensive, oh-so-high tech California King is a pretty big deal, okay? And if you got to sleep in it, you’d be all delirious with delight the next day, too.

I had a first-experience this weekend. The Leeler and I were invited to a dog birthday party. Yes. An actual birthday party with party hats and party favors and stuff. It’s even funnier if you know that the birthday bulldog, Phinneas, is LeeLoo’s internet boyfriend. He saw her profile on dogster.com and they’ve been hooking up ever since.

Okay, well, “he” didn’t actually see her profile because I’ve yet to see a dog who gives a crap about a computer. Anyway, we call him her internet boyfriend. And he turned 2 this weekend.

So there were about a dozen other dogs at the party, all yapping and tangling up their leashes. LeeLoo was true to form and tried to kick a golden retriever’s ass. There was much splashing about in the waves and smelling of butts. And fun was had by all. But I don’t think I’ll be throwing the Ler a dog birthday party anytime soon. I’ll just keep making her wear ridiculous costumes.

-Lo, who is crazy about her dog, but is not yet a crazy dog-lady. (there is a huge difference, you know.)