Jesus! Be safe out there, folks!
…I feel for you, lil buddy. Stay strong.
Wherever you go, there you are.
…you and I don’t appear to really have much anything in common, m’man—apart for our mutual love for whatever the hell it is we each individually think of when we think of “Freedom”—but you are a human untroubled by any insecurities of any sort, and I applaud that.
This lil mutherfucker is Lunchbox:
The vet’s records say Lunchbox is 13-years-old, but that’s not true. We’ve had him for 13 years, but he was full grown when we got him from the rescue. We thought he was a puppy—and he was marketed as such—but as he failed to grow any bigger, or loose any “baby” teeth, or need to be housebroken, it slowly dawned on us that he wasn’t a puppy, he was just a small dog some dipshit didn’t want.
Anyway, on Friday he really wasn’t feeling well.
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) August 12, 2016
We figured it was the heat; we live in Michigan, it had been 90 for a week, we have no AC—it was miserable. He mostly just moped around that week, looking at us with utter disgust at our inability to make the house work properly. By the weekend, he was lying on the hardwood floor in front of a fan, only going outside to potty when coaxed (or, on several occasions, carried).
Then the heat broke, but he felt no better. He was very listless, and seemed confused. He was having trouble standing up, and trouble navigating the steps, not that he couldn’t—he could be coaxed up with treats—but more like he couldn’t quite understand how steps worked.
This all seemed Really Bad, so I took him to the vet Monday. It turns out that he’s full of “masses” that are almost certainly tumors. One (are several) inside the membrane that surrounds his heart, and another maybe on his liver or spleen—which is in line with some elevated something-something levels in his blood (he had a lot of tests, and I was having trouble following, because the vet—who was a very nice, small young woman—was so obviously absolutely miserable to have to be telling me any of this). As a consequence of the tumors (and possibly the heat, and likely a variety of lingering infections permitted to slowly simmer in his failing, mass-ridden system), his pancreas had swollen enormously, and was smooshing his organs and distending his belly and generally making him miserable as fuck. Also, it was making it really hard to tell in the x-rays what masses in his guts were attached to what, and how severe they may be.
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) August 16, 2016
The upshot is that Lunchbox probably has 6 months to live, maybe a year, maybe less. The vet sold me anti-emetics and antibiotics, and instructed me to shift him to a very low-fat diet—which, absolutely no joke, is my diet: Cheap-ass, low-fat beef/chicken over steamed brown rice. I also had to pick him up a ‘scrip for controlled narcotics.
At the human pharmacy.
For my dog.
My dog is on dope. His name is on the bottle and everything: “
This is the face of the Midwestern opioid epidemic #America:
It’s now two days later, and he’s absolutely and 100% back to being his old self—mostly due to the anti-emetics (which killed his nausea, restoring his appetite) and antibiotics (which are bringing down the most obvious belly-distention), but infinitely bolstered by the fact that he’s absolutely elated to be on my diet.
From his perspective, this has all turned out terrific—because he doesn’t know what the future is, and therefore doesn’t know that he’s mostly dead.
I don’t know if that means he’s an idiot or a fucking zen master. I guess, all things being equal, I hope that I can begin to emulate his comportment in the face of death.
When I first started trying to find a way to talk about all this, I’d imagined I’d follow that bold-italics bit above with something like “I guess that means God is not a total dick sometimes.”
But then I realized: Lunchbox is a dog. God didn’t make dogs; we did. They are our first, grandest experiment in Genetically Modified Organisms, now in it’s 15,000-ish year. We are their God, and we made them in our image—or at least the best parts of it: We took wolves and foxes and selectively bred them until they became beasts mostly composed of love and loyalty, forever content, forever in the Now, perhaps somewhat easily Scared, but not cursed with Fear, because they aren’t cursed with thinking they have any fucking clue What Comes Next.
The Rabbi Jesus might have urged all-y’all to consider the lilies of the field and how they grow, neither toiling nor spinning, but I couldn’t tell a fucking lily from a mayapple or crocus or onion plant. Fuck lilies. As far as I’m concerned, consider the dog, how he loves, how he trusts that things will sort out OK, and food will come, and rest will come, and warmth will come, and affection will come. He doesn’t toil, he doesn’t fret, and yet he does OK, all things considered.
This arrived in my mailbox on Friday, August 12:
Lemme zoom in on the first graff:
And just one more time:
A postal truck “experienced a fire.”
My God, I love that! We have sentient postal trucks, out there having new and interesting experiences, and yet they don’t have the damned sense not to play with fire. It’s a self-aware 80,000 pound truck with the executive function of a toddler; O brave new world that has such people in’t!
At any rate, this does tend to explain the errant check for several thousand dollars I’ve been waiting for. *sighs* Guess I’ve gotta call a client later today.
Anyway, for the curious, here’s my mail burning up last month:
… I nod.
He sticks his finger in his mouth, then draws the spit-slick digit out and, swift as a fencer, pushes it into my face. I instinctively rear back, as though moved by some sort of mystical energy field, perhaps one created by all living things—the sorta thing that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.
Touché, tiny nerd. You win this round.
There are three types of things you have to do in this life:
- Things you enjoy doing for entirely internally motivated reasons—those things that you simply find pleasurable or gratifying in and of themselves, without further social context.
- Things you enjoy doing because someone will give you money to do it.
- Things you enjoy doing because they please or help other humans whose opinion you give a shit about.
Note what is lacking here:
things you don’t enjoy doing
Everything that you do, you should be able to mentally reorient into one of the Three Things listed above. If there’s a thing you can’t do that with, then maybe you need to excise it from your life.
In short: Do Good Things.
I just learned that my Aunt Lola died last night–great aunt, technically, the wife of one of my father’s uncles. Although we’ve lived in the same town for twenty years, Lola and I, I had only seen her a small handful of times during those decades; there’s been bad blood in our family. Not with Lola and me, but elsewhere, and we wound up on different sides. That’s just how it goes.
I loved her very much when I was small. She was small–putting her at my level, as a tall dweeb in a clip-on tie and penny loafers–and glamorous and funny. She glowed. Her rich, thick Czech accent always reminded me of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, which is a not-super-insane association for a boy who watched a ton of TV in the ’80s. I remember one time, at a summer party at my Aunt Denise’s house, at the end of the party, she slipped off her shoes–fancy gold, sharp-toed, high heels. Her toes were twisted and calloused, almost as though her feet had been bound–which I guess they had, although by American women’s fashion, not some out-modded and backward cultural obsession with ideals of beauty (ha! Joke!)
I remember her gingerly stepping from foot to foot on the thick shag in her hose, “Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh!” as though it was hot as coals–and she wasn’t play acting; her feet were aching from the shoes and the standing and the heat of the day. She looked up to see me sitting on the sofa across from her, looking on in dismay.
“Oh David,” she smiled, “Sometimes you need to suffer to be beautiful.”
I didn’t know then that, at 16, she been shipped to Auschwitz like a crate of shoes–a slow three-day train ride, because of the congestion on the tracks created by shipping so many other folks to camps, like cattle or shoes or some other commodity. There she’d been disgorged onto a ramp, and at the bottom stood Dr. Mengele. He was making a selection. Some were sent right, other left. Her folks went one way, she the other. She became my aunt, they became ash. She was stripped and shaved and tattooed and beaten, and sent walking to her new life.
She ended up in the barracks closest to the crematory ovens, and so her job was to sort the belongings of the dead–the clothes, the luggage–searching for jewelry and food and blankets and meds and anything of use. To sort it, to box it up for storage, or to be redistributed to widows and orphans.
There’s more, there’s lots more–heck, there’s a second run-in with Dr. Mengele. You can read and listen to her testimony here.
But I didn’t know any of that when I was small–I mean, I knew all of that, because such stories were not rare where I grew up, nor such survivors. But I did not know her story until I was much older–older than she was when she was enslaved–and I’m still learning bits and pieces, because I never heard it from her.
Which I don’t take personally; there was never a good time to share it with me, and there was no bad blood between us. When I last saw her, even though the folks around her were shooting me and my sisters daggers–gosh, even though one of my cousins later sought me out to hassle me about that chance encounter–Aunt Lola was still as charming and gracious as ever.
And I still loved her very much. Let her name be a blessing.
Her name is Lola Taubman; she sorted the laundry in Hell for a time as a teen, and then lived 72 years more, largely here, largely in good health.
Little things like this are why I love and admire MLK and, by extension, humans in general. I’d like to suggest to you that the first eight items on this list would make an *excellent* daily substitute for the 10 Commandments. If you’re not natively inclined to be Of the Book, then please consider the possibility that this constitutes an acceptable non-sectarian Watchword (if you wanna strike “pray for guidance and” from Commandment #3, I’ve got no beef with that; it all amounts to the same thing as far as me and my Magic(k)al Sky Faerie are concerned).
Remember: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice—provided that we get up every morning and put our weight towards bending that mutherfucker. It ain’t gonna bend on its own.
The 8 Commandments might read:
- Not all people in power are opposed to Justice. Accept goodwill on the part of many.
- All resources are for the use of all people. Take a vacant seat.
- Pray for guidance and commit yourself to complete non-violence in word and action.
- Demonstrate the calm dignity of our people in your actions.
- In all things observe ordinary rules of courtesy and good behavior.
- Remember that this is not a victory for us alone, but for all humanity. Do not boast! Do not brag!
- Be quiet but friendly; proud, but not arrogant; joyous, but not boisterous.
- Be loving enough to absorb evil and understanding enough to turn an enemy into a friend.
These are our commandments now. Keep them in your hearts, teach them to your children, talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. Bind them as symbols on your arm. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Hear, and be careful to obey, so that it may go well with us and that we may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of our ancestors, promised us.
(document via Slate)