Jul 4 2016

on liking the person you are

Human-Animal Intervention at work!

Human-Animal Intervention at work!

I’m minutes away from handing in the capstone project for my Animal Assisted Therapy certificate course, which has taken up the better part of the last 9 months of my life. It was a rigorous, challenging program (through Oakland University) and I derived much satisfaction from testing myself, academically. It’s been a long time.

Anyhow, I’m downright giddy about how good it feels to accomplish this! And I like that THIS is the sort of thing that makes me giddy, adding C.H.A.I.S. behind my name, when appropriate. That’s Certified Human-Animal Intervention Specialist, in case you were wondering. People get giddy about all sorts of things; some I get, some I definitely do not get. Hey, different strokes. But this is what gets this gal all a-giddy. I think it’s pretty cool.

1309788When I was around ten, I recall reading my mother’s “Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, about the Capricorn child:

The Sun Signs-loving author, former Capricorn Child, age 10.

The Sun Signs-loving author, former Capricorn Child, age 10.

“Tiny Capricorns do resemble miniature octogenarians. They look old in their youth and young in their old age. That little wrinkled prune of a face in the bassinet will someday be smooth and un-lined when other faces are sagging. Maybe it has something to do with being born in January-the old year going out and the New Year coming in. The odd turnabout does match the familiar image of the old man with his care-lined face beside the fresh infant of the New Year with his Ivory soap look.”

This made me giddy at age ten, instilling in me a feeling of “I’ll never really be ‘old’.” Of course I know now that to be not entirely true, as I am indeed oldER.

But still, this little achievement today, completing this project, earning this credential, has given me a bit of self-confidence and optimism I took for granted when I was younger. I’m going to cling like a motherfucker to this feeling today, hopefully longer!

May 23 2016

The Meaning — and Hypocrisy — of Life

Picard pays his final respects at the newborn bird's grave.

Picard pays his final respects at the newborn bird’s grave.

On our morning walk today, Picard was especially curious about something on the sidewalk. The kind of curious that makes me command, “Leave it,” because usually it means he’s about to ingest whatever it is, before I’ve had a chance to identify it. Last time that happened, it was marijuana in some form (see Picard stoned here). Which I only learned after a $400 veterinarian ER bill.

This time “It” was a tiny dead bird. I’ll spare you a photo, that’s what words are for: It was @ 1″ long, covered only in down, tiny beak, closed eyes, stiff claws. Through the thin, transparent yellowish skin on Its underside, you could make out Its tiny bluish and reddish organs — the sight of that really hit me. Vital organs which are evidence of a complex network that, to me, represents the  miracle of life. I have no idea how the poor thing ended up dead on a sidewalk; there was no tree above — though the winds have been high of late, so it’s quite possible it blew out of a nest nearby. Poor thing never stood a chance. I buried it as best I could on the spot, covering it first with leaves because I didn’t like the idea of It being under just the harshness of rocks.

I think about people, and life, and the meaning of life and the meaning of being “Pro Life” — and the belief held that God created life, therefore every life, even the unborn human, is sacred. But if God created life, not just human, but ALL life, then isn’t ALL life sacred? And if God chose us, humans, to have the superior intelligence, did he do so so that we’d invent ways to destroy the life He created? Or would He want us to preserve it, to be the stewards of this magnificent world He created?

People can make the hunting for food argument, and there is something to be said for the Cycle of Life. Of course, most people reading this are not going to starve to death if they don’t kill that deer (from afar, with a high-powered rifle and scope, yet) for dinner. Our superior intelligence has, over the years, led to our building Sprouts and Costco’s and Whole Foods and lots of other places that have lots of other delicious things to eat that don’t require you to take a life. So clearly some people enjoy killing — something I’ll never understand, but one topic at a time. Let’s get back to hypocrisy.

To say an unborn human life is sacred, then turn around cut funding for healthcare and food for the poor (and God forbid, undocumented) children of color —  or pull the trigger on an innocent animal, taking it from its own offspring, so that you might mount its head on your wall, or throw its coat on your floor, or sell its tusk to fund your war — I just don’t think that’s what God had in mind. But what the hell do I know?

Politics, family, the friends we keep, our source for news; they all influence our morals, ethics, and how we treat one another. We all want the world, our community, to be free of its problems; the ones that affect us directly and indirectly. And think what you may about the behavior of others, at the end of the day, there are always going to be people in your community worse off than you. People who need help. And if you’re going to whip out a Bible when you fight for a fetus, claiming to be “Pro Life,” then you’d better be as passionate about protecting the Life of the hungry children who are already here, whether or not you approve of how they got here — in your town, in your country, and here on on God’s Green Earth.



Apr 1 2016

Community (and knowing what not to photograph)

Sometimes, it's what you don't see.

Sometimes, it’s what you don’t see.

Behind me is a group of men, big Harley/trucker-looking men, gathered around a picnic table, as they are every Thursday morning. I thought it was a work meeting. Right now, they are praying. So I suspect it’s a different sort of meeting. And it makes me happy, that they have this community. Community is good. I’m between communities right now, except of course for my online community. But it’s really not the same, is it?

I didn’t photograph these men, out of respect for their anonymity and dignity, and because it’s not necessary. Sometimes it’s better to let your mind fill in the blanks for you; to put yourself in the picture.

May 10 2015

Mother’s Day: Always changing and every change fabulous.

Just moments after our first encounter.

Just moments after our first encounter.

Ah, to be a mother.

I don’t have children, never had that strong drive, that ticking timebomb in my uterus. That said, I always assumed I’d have a daughter, and a second child (one of them would be a girl, because… well, just because). Two because being an only child seemed so lonely. And because so much life-learning comes about simply by virtue of being a sibling: sharing, choosing your battles, compromise, conspiracy, etc.

But it didn’t happen. I had my chance, was married to a wonderful man in the prime of my child-bearing years. But we were traveling, and being struggling artists, so the time was never right. We didn’t try for one, but we weren’t hell bent against it either. It didn’t happen and eventually we divorced and so it all worked out for the best, right? Right?

Then I got Picard. How he came into my life is a whole ‘nother story you can read about Here.

And, I got it. Motherhood… I got it.

This love, this – for lack of a better term, maternal (parental works too, but I’m sticking with maternal, as it is Mother’s Day) love that runs deeper and stronger than any love I’ve ever known. I’ve had crushes and gaga love that feels this intense – but the excitement wears off, the hormones wane, you look back and go, “What was that?” But this Maternal Love, this is hardcore. This is the Real Deal.

Queue the naysayers, with “Loving your dog is not the same as if it were a child.” You’re right, it’s not the same. Because my dog is pure, as a child is in its early, pre-verbal years. But children, being human, grow up, and learn to manipulate and say cruel things and test us and break our hearts. They learn to hate and they learn to hurt. Hopefully they outgrow that sort of behavior in their teenage years, but I know far too many adult assholes to know that not to be the case.

There are no asshole dogs.  They manipulate and test us and break our hearts – but never for that purpose alone. It’s always, only to get something they want or need from us, that they know we alone can give them. And they’re not a dick about it if we say, “No.”4th

Their love is pure, so our love for them is pure. They remind us of our own innocence. They have the power to reinstate our innocence. Their love is perfect.

My heart swells with this love for Picard every second I look at him: when he’s there staring sleepily as I wake up, when he’s waiting not-so-patiently for me to feed him, when he plays with his bunny (which makes this inane musical noise when he plays with it) because he KNOWS when he successfully makes that sound happen, I will drop everything, whatever I am doing, to DO THE BUNNY DANCE!!!


So yes, I am a mother, and this Mothers Day is for me. Mother’s Day used to be very sad for me, as I lost my own at 19 – you can read about that Here and Here. I could not be more proud of, more in love with my “child” if he came out of my uterus. I cherish every second with him more so than if he had come out of my uterus, because unlike a human child, I will outlive him.

Aye, there’s the rub. There’s the one thing that makes my love for him all the more intense and all the more painful: it has a short shelf life. His puppy years are over. He’s five. How the hell did he get to be five already? But he’s small and curious and extremely healthy and active (his well being is the most important thing in my life), so he still seems like a young dog. And I swear, all the love I have for him, he feels the exact same way about me. He lets me know. He’s the one thing in this world, the one decision I made, that I got 100% right.

But for now, we celebrate Mother’s Day. Our 5th together. And I wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all the others out there who didn’t get the conventional Mother-Child relationship they thought was a guarantee: To the pet guardians, the single dads, the foster parents, and all the teachers/leaders/mentors/neighbors/friends/siblings who step up and give the world “That Mother Thing.” Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

Nov 21 2014

Touch Means So Much

Picard Therapy

Picard, in Animal Assisted Therapy action!

Everyone craves touch. We need touch. Touch means so much.

Yet so many of us are afraid to touch the elderly, even a little repulsed by the thought of doing so. The elderly aren’t cute & cuddly & warm & sweet-smelling. Quite the opposite, usually.

None of that bothers Picard. Picard says, “Bring it!”

Sep 7 2013


withoutI had dinner with a girlfriend the other night. She and I have a few things in common: We share the same birthday. We’re both writers. We’re both lefties. We’ve both had a shitty past few years. And we’re both getting it together now and feeling good. It was a great seeing her. She was radiant.

After we parted, I took Picard out for his evening constitutional. It was pretty late on a weeknight in the mission district of San Francisco, the only people out seemed to be twenty-somethings weaving their way home from the bars. I saw two young women walking toward me. They were adorable, holding hands, engrossed in a quiet conversation. It felt tender and sweet and intimate. I don’t know if they were lovers or just friends and it didn’t matter; what mattered is you could see there was love between them. It was pure. I was sort of swept away by them.

There were also two young men walking just ahead of me, also, I’m guessing, twenty-something. They were not adorable, just average looking. Maybe less than. Doughy guys. All beer, no gym. Nothing about them was notable, until we they passed the girlfriends — who were too engrossed in their own conversation, their own reality, to notice the guys noticing them. This must have upset the guys, because when we passed, one said to the other, “Probably fourteen year old lesbians.” At that moment, the only thing notable about them was that they were dicks.

I don’t know if they were annoyed that the girls they were noticing didn’t notice them back — and thus they had to cut them down (in their mind), or offer the only “logical” explanation, “The must be lesbians, why else wouldn’t they look at us?”

I do know that it pissed me off. I was caught up in my own “version” of these girlfriends, and these mooks came along and polluted my perfect stolen voyeuristic moment. I didn’t want the moment to end on that note.  So I took the moment back. I went after the girlfriends. I… had no idea what I was going to say, I just knew I wanted to remember that walk in a lovely way, not focusing on the snarky lads with mean things to say about people who they’ve never met and are minding their own business.

withI chatted the girlfriends up (Picard is a great ice breaker when I want to approach a stranger). They were indeed tipsy. They were a little bitchy when I asked to take a picture. But then I said the magic words, because when I told them I’m a writer, they instantly warmed up to me (as usual, Picard had already won them over) and wouldn’t stop talking. The only thing that could have made the encounter more perfect is if my own girlfriend from dinner were still with me for this encounter. That might have been like entering a lovely parallel universe, encountering these younger versions of ourselves (one blond, one brunette) out lighting up the night; still unacquainted with disappointment, but yet to learn that girlfriends only get better with age.

Dec 18 2012

Hey Instagram! Hey Facebook! I’ve got a comment for you.

News broke today that Facebook-owned Instagram has changed its privacy policy, and will be able to use or sell my — everyone’s —  photos, without notification.

"Like" this.

This is the last photo I posted on my account, D_V_K.

Aug 26 2012

My Bodyguard.

Picard makes little effort to hide his true feelings about the men who approach me.

Aug 25 2012

A typical bus ride with Picard.

These two flirted for the entire bus ride.

Dec 9 2011

I saw the ghost of Christmas Cool!

The happiest cab in San Francisco! Possibly the world! I wish I could wake up there on Christmas morning. It’s completely tricked out with Christmas bling. And the driver, my angel, has a coif that would be the envy of any 70’s pimp.

When I got in, Felice Navidad came on the radio. He turned it up.

I said “Are we going to sing?”

He said “Yes, we are.”

And we rolled down the windows and sang at the top of our lungs (he even taught me the Spanish part I never understood). I made him drive around the block until the song ended. I was sad when it did.