12.31.2001

I suppose it's a good time to review all of the good and bad of this year but it seems so hard. I struggle every day, every minute, with the loss of Alice. There is a huge gaping hole in my heart where my baby girl once was. I've put away many of her things, the humidifier in the bathroom while she was recovering from pneumonia, her bed in our room, the blankets that no longer smell like her, given away her medicine, put her raincoat on top of her ashes on the shelf. This struggle will not stop anytime soon.

But.... there are still some things worth mentioning about this year, starting with the beginning. Dec. 31, Elliemama has her puppies, including my Rainie Roo

January 5, we finally close on our house

The entire month of January we work our asses off getting our new house ready for us to move in (i.e. de-Guzman'ed, removing as many traces of the decoration style he preferred, but we don't like)

January 15 I join the absolute beginner league at Hockey Workout. With all the work we were doing on the house, was I nuts?
Yes.

Febuary 12 a baby falls on it's head at Hot Pot City. I also realize that I really hate my job and begin dreading going to work.

Early March 2001 I, for no apparent reason, die my hair blonde.

March 26 I learn that on the day I was born, Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack was the #1 song.

April 9 Amy and I make our long-awaited, much-anticipated trip to the fabulous 60 minute Hour of Power Price is Right!!!

April 19 Alice gets pneumonia again.

April 24 I reveal some truths about First Communion.

May 5-7 we go to Arizona for a hellish vacation as my brother breaks up with his wife but at the end we leave the group and meet Rainie Roo!

May 8 Andrea learns how to play with toys and puppies at the same time.

May 16 I tell the whole story of the last days of Ellie's life. Someday I may do this about Alice, but not anytime soon, it hurts too much.

May 21 my Jimmy Luxury CD arrives and it's worth every day that I'd waited for it. It's in my car CD changer still.

May 30 Alice eats a full bag of Funyons.

June 3 I realize that losing Ellie had effected me in a profound way and that it may have been why I got off on the wrong foot at my job.

June 5 I start playing hockey for real and having a blast. That was the early days, when the Snow Cones were fun.

June 14 I do not save a nice dog named Itakki. She dies at the shelter. Her death will haunt me always.

Sometime in June I lose my job. Why? Maybe I sucked at it, but more like it was a serious conflict between my (undereducated, overpromoted) new boss and I (I was supposed to be groomed for the job, that never happened). I tried to forget that she hadn't gone to college, was younger than me and spoke English as a second language (I was a writer of English as part of the gig) but I guess in the end I couldn't hide my disdain for her politicking ass. I woke up refreshed the day after and was able to use my severance to pay down my car loan. The company laid her ass off 2 months later and will shut down for good on Jan 12. Today is the last day I will harbor resentment towards her, it's a new year tomorrow and she's no longer worth my energy. But just to get it out of my system: bitch.

July 5 I start to realize Alice's approaching mortality.

July 7 I love my new job.

July 25 Rob makes me a fabulous picture.

July the BART adventures begin.

August 20 Alice has pneumonia for the 3rd time in a year. This time almost kills her and I become more and more aware of how fragile she is, that she will one day leave me.

August 28 I wake up with chest pains only to find that I've pulled a muscle in my chest that ends up taking 3 months to heal.

August 30 Murder suspect Nikolay Soltys is found crouched behind a desk with a potato peeler and a mpa of Sacramento. I laugh about this for weeks, okay, months, I'm still laughing today.

Sept 4 my fun company lays my ass off. We all cry and joke about me being found with a potato peeler and a map of Sacramento. The CEO says "thanks, and sorry."

September 6 Andrea and I celebrate 5 years together and for some reason I have nothing to say about the even in my blog. Happy anniversary, honey.

Sept 14 I get a new job.

Sept 24 Andrea and I see a young man become brain dead during a hockey game. He dies 5 days later. Chad Okimoto was 29 years old.

Sept 27 Gus arrives.

October 25 Alice turns 12 the same week that the folks who run the Corn Cam bring in the crop.

November 3 Alicepolooza. 63 beagles appear for the beaglefest celebrating MissAlice's 12th birthday. Did I know then that it would be her last?

November 21 Maybe I did. Alice starts to get sick. We thought it was neck problems, and only after her death found out it was a weird brain infection called GME.

November 29 Alice dies and my heart breaks. It's still breaking, can't you hear it?

December 22 Zeus celebrates a year of being with us. Since we don't know how old he is, we say he turns 8.

December 31 Rainie turns 1 and Gus becomes a permanent member of our family. I decide to start my own hockey team in the spring and abandon the Snow Cones, who are becoming a bunch of bad-playing hotheads.

Happy New Year.

Please join me in wishing Ms. Rainie Roo-tabega a happy first birthday today.

Looking for pictures of the world's cutest baby and my good pal? Here are some excellent pictures of Leo.

12.28.2001

I've been feeling like I should have gone home for the holidays, God knows my mom guilted me about it enough but I just couldn't. Not because I'm working as a contractor and would lose money, not because we're still struggling to pay off the $3000 bill Alice's final surgery left us with (though that's certainly part of it) but because I don't feel remotely up to it and because I'm scared to fly.

I've been flying pretty regularly since I was in college and it's never been something that didn't make me nervous. I touch the side of the plane as I enter, for luck and I don't sleep, convinced that if I stay awake we won't crash. These days, if I stay awake, then what? So I can tackle some motherfucker who thinks he can take out another thing that means something to us? So I can watch in fear if I don't tackle him?

For now, I'll stay home.

Wow. My annual trip to the DMV took a grand total of 7 minutes, even though I had no, count 'em, no relevant pieces of paper to speed the registration renewal process. 7 minutes! And it only cost $154 this year. The nice man asked me if I wanted to pay more, I said no. The lesson here is to make an appointment.

Anyone in Ohio (or a nearby state) looking to do a good deed? Over 30 dogs are in urgent need of help from a crummy situation. A woman is getting divorced and will be relinquishing her flock of untended dogs, including beagles, ranging from 4-12 years old. They've never had medical attention (though the beagles look well-bred) and don't always eat because the woman can't afford food. Please help if you can, even if it's a few dollars to buy some food for them.

12.27.2001

Christmas was more fun than I'd dared to hope for. We got some wonderful gifts including a framed version of one of my favorite Alice photos from Melinda, surround sound from my brother and I got the Fossil watch I'd been hoping for. We hosted a nice evening of gift giving and food Christmas Eve and skipped midnight mass in favor of hanging out with Holly, Kevin and Leo. We also saw them the next day for a delightful Christmas dinner at Hot Pot City, where I cut in the beverage line because I told the nice man in front of me, "excuse me, but I'm choking" which I was. Other highlights included hanging the excellent stockings that Dena had sent us, then watching Rainie Roo stare at them from every possible angle, and seeing Ali, which pretty much kicked ass.

Yesterday (and still today) I got very sick and slept the whole day and most of the night. Today I'm back at work but moving at a very slow pace.

12.20.2001

Just one more disgusting reason why every pet should be spayed or neutered and why every pet deserves to be loved, and mourned. Outcry leads to changes in disposal of animals

Hockey has become my life. I'm addicted. Addicted to the rush of adrenaline when I pick up a pass, to the cheer of the crowd (okay, Andrea, my personal Athletic Supporter, and if I'm lucky another friend or two) when I take the ice or have a smooth move. I also like the fact that my carpal tunnel problems have pretty much disappeared and that my body is stronger and better defined, if not yet skinny like Kate Moss.

And right now, 3 weeks after her passing, 3 weeks to the moment after I sat weeping over her little body, I just don't want to slow down and think about how truly lonely and sad I am without Alice. She was the most amazing thing in my life, she could do no wrong. I do not see how I could go one day, one minute without missing her so much it hurts.

12.19.2001

I fully admit that I'm staying very very busy so I don't have to think about how empty my heart is without MissAlice.

Looking for some Bunky items from Big Brother 2? Hurry, there are no bidders on these fine items!

12.18.2001

In case any of my hockey-playing friends read this, I'm trying to put together a team for the 3 on 3 Adult Tournament at the Ice Center over Dec 29-30. If you're interested, please email me or IM me and let me know. It's only $240 per team so it's cheap!


I miss her so much. (Me and Alice at the Beaglefest in June of 2001)

Snow Cones: 2, Ice Men 1
I haven't written about the Snow Cones this season because we haven't won a game. It's been very depressing and really not that much fun. Being one of 2 women on the team has been a challenge, the guys assume that because I'm a woman and a bit newer at this whole hockey thing than they are, that it's really quite okay to ride me about 'do this, do that.' Most of the time I'm fine with that.

But this season, I've been working my ass off, practicing at least twice a week, honing my skills, while very few of them don't play anywhere else, let alone take lessons. In short, they're staying the same while I'm improving. But they don't feel the need to harrass each other about this, they just pick on me and the other woman (who is also improving). They let the slow guy who consistently passes in front of the net continue doing so, they let the wing who thinks he's playing defense do that and yet they bitch at me because I'm not fast enough (last night I responded to this by skating faster than they've ever seen me. That stopped the comments.) even though I'm consistently play my position and challenge the other team when they have the puck, etc.

In short, I'm sick of it and not sure what to do. But I'm glad that we finally had a win.

12.17.2001

How nicePress Release - USDA Approves Loan to McDonald County K-9 Distributor Blunt Announces, meaning that the USDA is helping the puppy mill industry produce more unhealthy, poorly bred dogs to clog up our rescues and shelters in the coming years.

Are ya idiots?

My first Hat Trick
In last night's NCWHL game, there were some bad moments (we lost, 4-7) but for me, some truly great moments.

  1. We're in the offensive zone on a face-off, meaning that we're all lined up just feet away from the goal. I tell our center to win the face-off and send it right back to me, on right defense behind her, that I'd put it in the net. She did, and in a grand motion sent it back to me. I fired it right into the net and bam! The goalie was not expecting that. Goal #1.
  2. I get a breakaway and keep going. The key to this is to make sure the wing knows what you're doing and drops back to cover defense at the point (the corner at the edge of the blue line). I had told the wing to watch out and she did, I headed on into the zone, skated right up to the goalie's left side and tipped it over her stick into the net. Goal #2.
  3. We had the puck in the offensive zone. The wingers were bunched up in front of the net and the puck got loose. I ran for it (yes, you can run on ice skates) and got it. Took a second to get in place and launched it into the net. Goal #3 and my first hat trick.
A friend from the other team pointed out that the opposing right defense player isn't very good. Which she's not, but there were 4 other folks out there who could have blocked my goals, never mind the goalie. They didn't and regardless, the record now shows that I had a hat trick. I was given the puck and my teammates said I was the MVP. The puck is proudly displayed in my office.

Me. A victory in sports. I never would've imagined. Maybe I have some natural ability, but it's as much about the hard work I've been putting in (3 practices and 2 games a week) as anything else. It's paying off, I'm faster, have a more solid shot and as of Saturday night, can do backwards crossovers. I've come a long ass way since I started taking hockey lessons last year.

Why offering an animal as FREE TO GOOD HOME? isn't really a good idea.

12.14.2001

I had thought...
  • That I knew what grief was. That somehow losing far too many friends before their time and loving then losing Ellie had given me a taste of grief, of the bitter smell of loss of empty homes and wanting lives. But no. I had no idea.
  • That I was finally a grownup a few years ago. Maybe but somehow this has put me over the top. Not the mortgage, not the 5+ years I've been with Andrea, not the 401(k), but this. The loss of Alice has made me 5 years older overnight. I'm not surprised now if someone calls me 'lady' as in 'hey lady, you dropped this' or listens to me at work because now, I'm a grownup.
  • That I might be feeling better now but after a few days reprieve after we learned that Alice's death was in no way my fault and I was almost giddy to be free from that horrible guilt, today it washes over me once again. It doesn't matter if it was my fault, she's still gone. The one purely sweet and wonderful piece of my life is empty. Most of the time the other dogs seem like a chore, something I must attend to and I struggle to give them the kind of love and attention that they deserve, but at the moment seems I was only able to give to Alice or with Alice around.
At this moment I have no hope that I will ever heal. And I think is this what adopting senior dogs is all about -- loving and losing one each year, though surely none that follow will be to me what Alice was so the pain could not possibly be as great as this.

12.13.2001

Is Christmas really less than 2 weeks away? I have given into some of the commercialism because it seemed easier than explaining my lofty goal of not embracing that consumerist nature of what may at one time have been a magical day but now is a merely a reason to market conspicuous consumption.

And because I still very much care about impressing people who I love dearly but don't otherwise don't know how to show it, so I communicate in the native American language of things. We all understand things, the thought behind things, the effort and the thing itself. We don't understand donations (maybe more this year though) or the gift of time or anything that's not quite as tangible. But things. We all get things. So I gave some things.

But the holidays seem empty, my life seems empty without MissAlice.

12.12.2001

Some really fabulous details about why MightyWords is dead, including:
Why is MightyWords shutting down?
MightyWords has opted to cease operations as of January 12, 2002. How is this an answer?
Did MightyWords run out of money?
No. So what the fuck? You're just shutting down for the hell of it? As if providing a shitty workplace then laying off most of the staff this summer wasn't enough!
So, you didn't run out of money, why did you shut-down?
This was a difficult business decision. Effective January 12, 2002 MightyWords, Inc. will cease operations.Yeah, so please go away and ask no more questions, we cannot be bothered with the likes of you.
Is MightyWords or any part of it (i.e. customer lists, etc.) for sale?
No, it is not. Well, that's nice of you
Were severance packages paid to the MightyWords employees? How many employees were terminated?
Yes. All 23 employees of MightyWords will receive severance. Again, you're so damn nice.
Farewell, last stupid idea place I worked at. I've moved on to greener pastures, where we have a product people want and revenue. Oh and a better life.

12.11.2001

Now that I know what was really wrong with Alice, I am even more grateful that she left this world sooner into the disease's progression rather than later. She had a bad couple of weeks but it could have gone on for weeks or months more, with her detiorating more and more each day. She knew that I could not bear to see her like that and left before it got too bad.

It's pet overpopulation information week:
HSUS Pet Overpopulation Estimates
  • Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year: 8-10 million (HSUS estimate)
  • Number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year: 4-5 million (HSUS estimate)
  • Number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year: 3-5 million (HSUS estimate)
  • Number of cats and dogs reclaimed by owners from shelters each year: Between 600 and 750 thousand (15% of animals entering shelters (HSUS estimate))

  • Number of animal shelters in the United States: Between 4 and 6 thousand (HSUS estimate)
  • Percentage of dogs in shelters who are purebred: 25 percent (HSUS estimate)
  • Average number of litters a fertile cat can produce in one year: 3
  • Average number of animals in an average feline litter: 4-6 In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats.
  • Average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year: 2
  • Average number of animals in an average canine litter: 6-10 In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs.
So please, have your pets (indoor and outdoor) spayed or neutered. Rescue workers around the world spend their lives worrying about careless breeding, why not spare us a moment of grief and do your part?

Most shelters offer low-cost spaying and neutering. Don't be afraid to ask about these programs. They also have low-cost heartworm and flea preventatives. That's where we stock up now.

Top Ten List of Shelter Excuses.

T'WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
T'was the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St.Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, with no thought of the dog filling their head. And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap. Knew he was cold, but didn't care about that. When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash,figuring the dog was free of his chain and into the trash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave the luster of mid-day to objects below. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Santa Claus - with eyes full of tears. He unchained the dog, once so lively and quick.Last year's Christmas present, now painfully thin and sick. More rapid than eagles he called the dog's name. And the dog ran to him, despite all his pain. "Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN! On, COMET! On CUPID! On, DONDER and BLITZEN! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Let's find this dog a home where he'll be loved by all!" I knew in an instant there would be no gifts this year, for Santa Claus had made one thing quite clear. The gift of a dog is not just for the season, we had gotten the dog for all the wrong reasons. In our haste to think of a gift for the kids, here was one important thing that we missed. A dog should be family, and cared for the same.You don't give a gift, then put it on a chain. And I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight, "You weren't given a gift! You were given a life!"
Author Unknown

Randy and Lee were very sweet to make this tribute to Alice. Thanks so much.

12.10.2001

Speaking of death: MightyWords bites the dust. Now that it's dead and my not-so-nice managers (that's not slander, sorry, but you both were very mean to me and somewhat mean to a lot more folks than you realize), I feel like I can mention that I worked there. It was horrible for me, I've never been treated so badly (except for middle school) or had such dread about going to work every day or the political implications of sending even the most benign email (literally, when my Evil Boss (now in beauty school) fired me, one of the reasons she listed was that I'd sent an email about my work schedule. Oh how I wish I was exaggerating on this...)

At any rate, I'm glad it's dead. The mean people can go on being mean and the good people can move on with our lives. I did learn to value kindness from those nasty ass people, which is a gift in itself. And that those overpriced design firms were full of crap. And I got to spend the summer with a wonderful cocker spaniel whose mom had also worked there.

But, I don't miss any of it and it's taken me this long to get my self-respect back.

I just learned more about what happened with Alice. The results of her spinal tap were negative at first glance (they do these before the mylegram) so they did the test and then the surgery. The vet who did the surgery couldn't figure out why she didn't come out of what seemed a routine surgery. The next day, her spinal fluid came back with clear indications of Granulometous Meningioencephalomyelitis(GME), a brain inflammation that would have eventually killed her (most likely in weeks or months at best), in a much more horrid way than the reasonably dignified way that she left us.

And I can stop feeling guilty that it was my fault for bringing those big dogs into our family.

A Santa Story
Not long ago and far away, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip...but there were problems everywhere. Four of his elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her Mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where. More Stress!

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.

Totally frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey. When he went to the cupboard, he found the elves had hit the liquor and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made from.

Just then the doorbell rang and Santa cussed on his way to the door. He opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said: "Where would you like to put this tree fat man?"

And that, my friend, is how the little angel came to be on top of the tree....

12.07.2001

Please remember to light a candle on Sunday for my Alice. I miss her so very much.

My life is in a state of disrepair.

Alice didn't feel well for weeks before she died. We were at the vet at least one day a week, usually these tripes began with me crying on the cell phone to the receptionist that something was wrong and we had to come in right away, Alice was in pain, Alice couldn't walk very well and finally, on the last day, Alice couldn't walk. She came to work with me during the day and hung out in our room at night away from the large wandering paws of Gus and Rainie.

I did nothing to keep up the house, save replacing toilet paper. I barely did laundry and didn't pay bills. All of my energy was focused on Al, on doing everything possible to make her well. Which of course didn't work.

Today I see what the lack of attention has done to our house. I've paid some bills, vaccumed the couch (unearthing the one toy Alice enjoyed -- the Buster cube that spits kibble when you push it around. I'd give it to her as I left for work and she wouldn't even look up to say goodbye.) swept the floor and did a long-overdue poop patrol in the backyard. I feel better about the house but still marvel that I'm functioning without Alice at my side. I may always marvel at that.

12.05.2001

From my BeagleBuddy friends:

Of course, we are continually sending out good vibes and wishes for all our ailing buddies....

This Sunday, Dec 9th, please light a candle for sweet Alice, so that she may find her way to the Rainbow Bridge (and to the buffet) and in support for all of the sick and trouble Beagle Buddies.

Hamas beats off Arafat's forces. I can just see a bunch of guys out there in the desert, gettin' busy.

On the other side of tears is a place so sad that you can't cry. Your eyes are dried out and painful, your nose is raw and your heart seems empty. The funniest things pass you by and everything falls into a world past pain, past feeling.

That's where I am today. At least in this place, my eyes are getting a chance to rest.

I realized that I hadn't slept through the night since that horrible night in August when I woke in the middle of the night to check on Alice, who was just home from a night at the vet's with bad pneumonia. She didn't move, I thought we had lost her then. Every night after that she slept in our room and I woke up at least 2, usually more like 4 or 5 times a night to make sure she was still with us. I wondered why I was so tired, why all I'd wanted to do for months was crawl into bed.

I'm sleeping better now but the house and my heart seem so empty without her.

12.04.2001

I am grateful that thus far, nobody has made comments like "she was only a dog, how can you be *that* upset?" Trust me, I am. I'll forget for a while then it hits me all over again -- all I have of Alice is memories and then I collapse wherever I am. Andrea has been terrific, running to me as I lay keening in the corner, on the bed, at my desk, on the sofa, hunched in front of Rainie's crate in the kitchen. I'm never far from something that reminds me that Al is gone.

I am so lost without her.

My fortune at lunch says: When one door closes, another will open.
I don't see how but I'll go with it.

The armpit of the United States features this monument: I hang a right off the highway at the base of the hill, which proudly proclaims, in giant letters:

BM

This is just bizarre: FBI, DEA, local authorities search O.J. Simpson's house. "The search was in connection with "Operation X," an investigation into the distribution of Ecstasy, the laundering of $800,000 and "signal theft" -- the distribution of fraudulent satellite access cards."

What's next for the guy? First murder, now satellite dishes. That's jacked up.

12.03.2001

Andrea has officially become a basset parent: (this on her hat that Rainie altered today) "I can still wear it, but there's all this drool now."

One funny thing: Rainie's brother Newman.

12.01.2001

Andrea made a wonderful album of the life and times of Alice: it's all here.

Sometimes I am fine. I realize how bad she was feeling and how much time I spent worrying about her health. I hadn't slept through the night since that night in August when she had pneumonia and I woke to touch her and she didn't move. Since then, she'd slept in our room, I'd rised several times a night to check on her. I wasn't ready to say goodbye then, I was more ready on Thursday than in August.

Other times, I collapse with grief. We came home from hockey today and the sight of her empty bed put me over the edge. How will I ever heal from this? She made the sun come up for me and now it does not rise.