Nov 14 2016

An open letter to Melania and Ivanka: TALK TO HIM (ON BEHALF OF THE WORLD)

Dear Melania and Ivanka,

First, congratulations on your husband’s/father’s win in his bid for the highest office in the land. It was an incredible elections, and he now has a big job on his hands, uniting this increasingly divided nation. It’s good you’re both there, because he’s going to need a lot of support, as this will not be an easy task.

Now let’s get down to business.

after the forest

after the forest

I assume neither of you are experts on climatology, or the environment, or wildlife; nor am I — but I am very passionate about these topics. I do know that you are both mothers. You’ve given life. This planet is full of life; an intricate network, a miraculous web of life, where plants create oxygen and trees shelter orangutans, and shrubs feed insects, which feed spiders; where bees pollenate flowers and give us honey, etc. etc, etc. Not to mention ocean life, which, if you’ve ever seen underwater footage, is like a whole different, miraculous world!

Do you want to deprive your children a beautiful, thriving planet that gives life, as you yourself have done? A planet abundant with majestic flora and fauna that many believe surely is evidence of a divine being? Sadly, the flora is perishing due to our changing climate and deforestation; the fauna losing its food and habitat at alarming rates — many of those that do survive are being hunted by people who find killing to be pleasurable, or supply a lust for luxury goods? BTW, did you know there is a direct link between the poaching of elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns, and the funding of international terrorist organizations?

Got oil?

Got oil?

Many of those animals they kill, like you both, are mothers. And in this very real era of Climate Change, they are struggling to feed their own children. China is raping the natural resources out of Africa, destroying much of the natural habitat. We are doing the same here in the USA with fracking, destroying beautiful land and the habitat/shelter/food it provides animals — and the pipelines endangering water supplies, bursting and destroying ecosystems. Not to mention the droughts that are destroying crops and natural forestation areas, leaving animals hungry and searching for alternative food sources…

It’s the 21st century. We have alternatives. We have solar, we have wind, to replace our dependence on petroleum oil. Best part: there is no such thing as a “wind spill, or a “solar spill” — and the resulting damage to the ocean and death to wildlife. No Fukashima, and yet-to-be determined long term effects on the ocean, the environment, and our wildlife.

In local elections last Tuesday, measures were passed to protect the environment and protect animals. People are seeing that we humans need to live up to the word “humane” on every level. Now, let’s do it on a national and international level. HERE IS THE ONE THING I ASK OF YOU LADIES: Insist that the President Elect talk to, and listen to, the scientists. A lifelong friend of mine, a geologist who’s worked for UNESCO, NOAA and NASA, and who works closely with climatologist, assures me that climate change is very real. Please, if you’ve not already, watch Before the Flood. Take a heartbreaking look at how we are destroying the planet, wildlife, atmosphere, and our health with our mindless consumption of disposable plastic, at Plastic Pollution Coalition. Also, I urge you to read The Humane Economy, to learn more about the economics of animal exploitation. Finally, please read the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2016, which puts forth these three basic initiatives:

    1. Growing food without destroying forests
    2. Producing Energy from green renewable sources
    3. Financing development without supporting destructive projects
Does this plastic pollution make me look fat?

Does this plastic pollution make me look fat?

I’m not suggesting your research  begin and end with these four suggestions; I do ask that they be a part of it. I also ask that your research not include information from special interest groups, lobbyists, or anyone else who profits, directly or indirectly, from the production or transport of oil, factory farming, deforestation, the killing of protected and endangered species, poaching, or deforestation (especially for palm oil). For the President Elect to choose a climate change skeptic to lead the EPA transition is an atrocity. Insist he look beyond the pocketbooks, whether it be his own or his peers, and do what’s best FOR THIS PLANET.

Overpopulation is very real in some area. We hear of food shortages… while we waste 1/3 of the food we produce. All the resources used to make all that food… wasted. That’s shameful. I expect our President to promote the same basic principles my mother taught me: Do not waste. Food. Energy. Time. Money. Resources. Whatever it is, don’t waste it.

As for the sad state of our wildlife, 2/3 of the global wildlife population is on track to fall by 2020, due largely in part by loss of habitat: by man’s mining for resources or encroachment upon it, and by climate change. Do you want to tell your grandchildren about how there used to be magnificent animals on the planet — but no more, because man chose easy money and politics (and luxury goods, in the case of the poaching that is diminishing the numbers of elephants and rhinos at an alarming rate) over taking steps — such as the three listed above — that protected our environment and these animals?

So please, don’t you ladies waste this opportunity to be role models yourselves, to exert your power to make the world a better place, as you sit at the side of the man who holds the most powerful job in the world. People are waking up and realizing that more than ever, we need to talk to one another. So please, talk to him. We don’t need a woman in the highest office in the White House to demonstrate that women can lead and make a powerful difference. You have an incredible opportunity to make a huge impact. I have faith in you two. For America and all Americans, for the world, for your own grand children. Please, make us proud. Make them proud. It’s a small world after all, ladies. Please, please help preserve and protect it. Before it’s too late.

Aug 11 2016

Rebel Rebel

The author, age 9.

The author, age 9.

Spring 1973, last day of 3rd grade. I’ve decided I want to get out of school ASAP and get on with my life, see the world. Toward that, I told my mother I want to skip 4th grade, going straight to 5th.

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 14 2016

Whiter Shade of Time

snow, two ways

I grew up with these mountains. I love these mountains. Every morning, I check in with these  snow_capmountains. When life doesn’t make sense, these mountains calm me. When nothing good seems to last, these mountains remind me that nothing could be farther from the truth. There are good things that last. Because they last.

I especially love the winter, when they are covered with snow. The sun setting behind them, there is no more serene sight. Right now there’s just this little cap of snow left, that little spot of white, and each morning it grows smaller. It makes me a little sad, but not too sad. Because I know the snow will be back next winter. And the next winter after that. Something I can count on.

Speaking of something I can count on, there’s Picard. He who has given me family, by being loyal. He has given  muzzleme a sense of purpose, by inspiring me to become an Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) volunteer team. He’s got a little “snow” going on too, just like my mountain top. His snow is in his muzzle. And while the snow on the mountain diminishes a little each day, Picard’s muzzle grows increasingly, permanently, whiter. His life, like our own, is linear, not seasonal. And I think about this so much; about the passage of time, and life, and All Things Must Pass and This Too Shall Pass. And the realizations that I’d give anything to slow it down. Not go back; just slow it down, just a little.

These mountains have been pulling me, a lot these days. The urge to go sit atop one in silence, and just observe, is a strong one. Maybe that will slow it down.


Apr 2 2016

This is Me (not meme)

BILLI’m not Bill. I don’t have a lot of money, like Bill, and I’m certainly not thin, like Bill. So why compare?

This is Diane.diane_desk

Diane was just woken up by a horrible dream, where her beloved dog Boris, a beagle/pitbull mix, disappeared in a big park with lots of hills and lots of other dogs and people after Diane had let him off the leash.

(Diane does not have a dog named Boris, though in her childhood, she did have beagle named Bella.)

Anyhow, Diane feels just awful about her dream dog running off… but then wonders: maybe Boris wasn’t happy. Maybe Boris needed new experiences. Maybe Boris wasn’t living the life he was meant to be living.

Which made Diane think, “Maybe I’m Boris.”

Diane worries every day that she is not living the life she was meant to be living, that her greatest gifts are going untapped. And that’s a shame. Diane know she was blessed with some pretty terrific gifts.

Diane is concerned at how fast time is going, and that the changes that need to be made — only she can make them. But she has a difficult time seeing clearly what is the best change to make first.

Diane sees friends share happy photos of their families or their creative accomplishments on Social Media and wonders, “How did I get to where I am now, so far from where I ever wanted to be?”

But then Diane remember it’s only Social Media, where, like in dreams, things are only sort of as they appear.

Like this photo of Diane. It’s her, but it was taken a very long time ago. Same eyes, same brain, same spirit… but a lot has changed since the taking of this picture.

Diane pours herself some coffee. She would love nothing more than to remain right here, and explore these thoughts, and hope for some clarity and insight into where Boris — or rather, Diane — would like to run to, if she were let off the leash that tethers her to current obligations and fears.

But she can’t, for it is time to walk her real dog, Picard, and read a chapter for school before leaving for her corporate job.

Be like Diane. Or don’t be like Diane. It’s your choice. You could do better, you could do worse.

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.

Nov 11 2015

Praise — the well-earned kind — to our Veterans

So young -- and already, seen too much.

So young — and already, seen too much.

My father, George Karagienakos,  is the only veteran I’ve ever known personally. He, like many of his generation, willingly enlisted in World War II, going so far as to write “18” on the soles of his shoes; so that when asked if he was asked if he was “over 18” (he was 17), he could honestly answer, “Yes.”

George Karagienakos was in the 82nd Airbourne, one of the paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines in Operation Market Garden. One of the few to come out of that alive. The bullet he took in the arm remained there until the day he died.

George Karagienakos neither expected nor wanted praise for any of his actions. Not for going above and beyond, and certainly not for just showing up.

Thanking him for his service to his country was as unwelcome to him as thanking him for putting food on the table. To him, that’s just what a man, a good man, does. There was no distinction.

That’s certainly not to say we should not thank our veterans for their service. We should, and we must.

But I can guarantee that were he here today, there would be smoke coming out of his ears hearing about the parents who reward and praise children for just showing up – parents who want reward and praise for doing the same. He would have a thing or two to say about a society that demands so little from its people, yet whose people expects so much be done for them.

My own concern is that a generation that grows up being rewarded and praised for just showing up is far less likely to go above and beyond — and to do so because that’s just what you do. What a good person does.

I’m writing this to thank my father, George Karagienakos – so deal with it, Pops! Your service was appreciated. To all Veterans, your service appreciated. Words are not enough for the sacrifices you’ve made and continue to make. You deserve more than praise.

America, take better care of your veterans. Raise my taxes — if that’s what it takes to take care of them. Do it.


Aug 13 2015

The Universe as Diety

The Universe has become the go-to for good things in life.

My nephew — who’s only interest in life (at age 17) is money — recently asked me for referrals for his new financial service business (Huh?). I told him to remember to “give back” as his success grows. Whether it be for PR reasons, or (preferably) because it’s the right thing to do, find a way to do it.

His response was, “I literally just read about giving back and then you texted me that was the universe giving me confirmation on that topic haha”

I texted back “Confirmation comes from within, not without. Find it in your heart.”

To which he said “you’re right, that’s deep thank you”

I hope he remembers that.

little pink houses

little pink houses

I’m dogsitting in the outer Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco. Walking distance to the Legion of Honor, Land’s End, and Golden Gate Park. It is BEAUTIFUL here. Homes cost a fortune here. I enjoy stepping into other peoples lives for a spell, in the same way I enjoy acting. Living other people’s lives.

Yesterday as I was walking my Rottweiler/black Chow mix charge down 36th Ave., I spotted a woman across the street walking her purebred, pristine white Samoyed. She was blonde like me, middle aged like me. We waved when our dogs barked at one another from afar.

I saw her at the dog park today. She’s lovely. She and her husband live in the home they own (with their three children) just across from where I’m dogsitting. We talked a little. I told her how I’m looking (always looking) for work that is closer to my heart, but it’s been difficult; and at this age you just don’t walk away from full benefits, no matter how much the current job crushes your soul on a daily basis.

The white picket fence and 2.4 children alternative.

The white picket fence and 2.4 children alternative.

And she said, “If you just put it out there, it’ll come to you. I believe that! If you just put it out there to the universe, it’ll happen.”

Where is this universe of which you speak?

I didn’t want to tell her she’s wrong –hell, I really want her to be right — but after feeling like it’s been upstream swimming on every front — personally, professionally, you name it, I just can’t get behind this “The Universe Delivereth” belief system.

And then it hit me… what if she were me, or rather I were her, in an alternate universe? What if I had enjoyed my Las Vegas corporate job in my 20s enough to stay on that path, rather than abandon it in San Francisco to study creative writing and filmmaking while waitressing at night? What if I’d been drawn to the conservative guy with the 9-to-5 with 2.4 children gleaming in his eye, rather than the intellectuals and the rugged creatives that I found far more interesting (and fun!)? Might I have been that woman across the street for whom struggle was finding a suitable dog walker? Might I be happier than I am now? Might I truly now believe that the Universe truly doth deliver if ye merely ask of it?

But there are no do-overs, and I suspect that finding a suitable dog walker is far, far from her biggest problem. All in all it’s not bad. But I do envy her sense of optimism. Or do I? Would she be absolutely crushed by some of the things the universe has hurled at me at full force, things that I’ve managed to deflect (and still manage to look fabulous)? Who knows. She may be sitting at her kitchen table across the stree wishing she had the freedom that I have now to do pretty much as I like. The Grass is Always Greener is a Universal concept, after all.

Finally, I’ve been watching a lot of Amy Schumer lately, as I am obsessed with the thought of her playing the title character in my feature screenplay, “The Adventures of Vulva Fervor.” I’d originally written it with Charlize Theron in mind. But after seeing “Trainwreck,” I decided that the part called for a great comic actor, not a stunner (much like Mike Myers in “Austin Powers”). Apparently Ms. Schumer has some thoughts on the Universe as well, with a little help from Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Hey Amy, if you need a dogsitter, or a sexy action-adventure-comedy feature to produce/star in, CALL ME!

Just putting it out there, Universe.

Jun 21 2015

Father’s Day Tribute to my Father

My father, brother, family dog Bella, 1972.

My father, brother, family dog Bella, 1972.

My father didn’t raise me to be a happy person. He raised me to be a good one.

I’m so grateful he was my father. There were many times I HATED him growing up. He was tough. There were many times we feared him. Not that he ever raised a hand to us — no, not once. But if you did something he disapproved of (and you always knew beforehand if it was something he disapproved of), he’d give you this look, this gaze, that just shamed you to the core. There was no need to shame us publicly. When you have a strong parent like that, their scorn alone us all the humiliation you need.

So thank you pops. You didn’t make it easy, but life now is easier, because you taught me well. About respect, and self respect. And Family. You were a great father. I miss you. The world misses you.