She Didn’t Know What to Say

Freya with tummy ache
Freya with a tummy ache

Freya was sick a couple of Saturdays ago, so we called the vet and grabbed the first appointment we could get.

It’s always tough when a pet is sick, but Freya is probably the most difficult of all of the dogs we’ve had. She’s the most fearful at the vet’s office and a tough dog to read at the same time. So, making a call on when it’s time to put her through the stress of a doctor visit is like trying to see colors in the dark.

But it stopped being a tough call that Saturday morning. We packed her into the car and headed to the vet for a 1:00 PM appointment. My fears were confirmed when the doctor called it pancreatitis.

It took at least an hour from the time we arrived until it was time to go, so Dagmar took her out f the office while I waited to settle the bill and get Freya’s meds at the front desk. When I finally made it outside, I couldn’t find them because Dagmar decided to let Freya “walk it off” in the big church parking lot next door. While I was looking, another car pulled into the lot.

A woman got out of the driver’s seat and scrambled to the back door of her car. She made a bit of a commotion, so I paused to watch. A man got out of the other side and watched the woman fuss as she was leaning into the back of the car. A smallish black and white dog popped out and walked away from the vehicle, his leash dragging behind him.

I don’t like seeing this anywhere, but especially don’t like it as my vet’s office, because there’s a busy street on the other side of the building. The man finally grabbed the dog’s leash after a few seconds, though.

Then, an old dog got out of the car.

The woman kept fussing in the car, exclaiming that one of the dogs had relieved himself on the back seat. The man looked overwhelmed and stood there, watching.

The old dog made a beeline for the edge of the parking lot. I say “made a beeline” because it was clear he wanted to go there, but he was moving slowly and didn’t have good balance. This wasn’t a dog that should be wandering in a parking lot. I’ve mentioned before that I used to be a dog trainer. (Actually, I sort of am a trainer again.) One of the bad things about being a trainer is that you tend to see the worst case in many situations. An unattended geriatric dog in a public place presents a host of worst cases.

The man watched helplessly. The woman continued to fuss.

So I walked over, picked up the dog’s leash, and let him guide me to the edge of the lot. I spoke to him as he frantically searched for a place to go. I’m not sure if the old gent heard me, because he very much needed to finish what he probably started in the back of the car. I’m not sure he could hear at all.

My compassion for the old dog was the primary thing on my mind as I held his leash. I was upset because my dog was sick and seeing him, barely able to walk, probably blind, with a patchy coat, hit all of the feels. But I won’t lie. I was really annoyed with his owners. A mess in the back of your car is nothing. It’s not even nothing; it’s part of owning a dog. (Pro tip: seat covers.)

Right as he finished up, the woman approached me with a plastic bag to clean up the mess. As I gave her the leash, we made eye contact.

She didn’t know what to say.

I could see that she wanted to thank me, but she had no idea how to do it. I’ve been there. You have too. We did something we’re ashamed of. Someone helped us anyway. We know we should thank them, or apologize or just do something. But we couldn’t. After a few milliseconds looking into her eyes, the judgment fell away. She was having a crappy day. Just like me.  Probably worse. So, she screwed up. Good thing I was there.

I nodded and gave her the leash.

As I walked back to the car, her husband called to me. I looked over, and he said something like “Thank you. There are angels in this world.”

My turn to not know what to say.

We live in troubled times, but we’re all in it together.

(Freya is all better now.)




Brew At The Zoo

Yes, the band’s name is “Screaming Broccoli.”

Dagmar and I went to the Bronx Zoo’s “Brew at the Zoo” event last Friday. We had a lot of fun tasting different beers and enjoying a surprisingly pleasant evening compared to the weather we’ve had lately.

The gates open at six, and most of the exhibits were already closed, so we didn’t get a chance to see many of the animals. I didn’t get many photos, and most of them aren’t very good. The butterfly house was still open though, and I got a few shots there. Unfortunately, I’m not very good with an iPhone camera.

Even with the exhibits closed, the zoo is a beautiful place to walk around while sampling different beers, hard sodas, and ciders. The zoo also featured a better assortment of food trucks than the last time, and I was able to get my favorite Mexican dish: chorizo.

Here are a few pictures. I’ll do better next time.


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Jim Jarmusch Makes Me Want to Write


This is a trailer for the latest Jim Jarmusch movie, “The Dead Don’t Die.” Focus Features will release (or drop for those of you who think that “release” isn’t post-modern enough) on June 14th. The trailer dropped around April 1st. (Wow. That is a cool verb. I can’t get enough of it now.)

Jim Jarmusch is one of my favorite film creators. He’s written and directed all his movies, and each one has his unmistakable worldview stamped on them. If you’re not familiar with his work, start with Dead Man and Ghost Dog. If you enjoy them, try Only Lovers Let Alive and Broken Flowers. Then, you’re ready for The Limits of Control, Coffee and Cigarettes, Paterson, and the rest of his catalog.

Jarmusch’s films make me want to write. They’re character-driven, and they feel like I wish I could make my fiction feel. They’re the polar opposite of Hollywood blockbusters. His films are social commentary via character study. I suppose that this means I want to write library fiction? I’m not sure I agree now that I wrote that out loud.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy blockbuster movies or look down on them. Just like I can’t survive on popcorn and sushi alone, I don’t want every film to be Winter Soldier or Heat.

Watch the trailer if you haven’t already. Watch it again. Almost every character on the screen is, well, a character. They’re not vehicles for punchlines or moving targets for the next wave of gunfire. From a few lines of dialog or a single facial expression, we know who the players are and why they’re on the screen. It’s easy to see why talented actors like Tilda Swinton, Forest Whitaker, Adam Driver, Roberto Benigni, Steve Buscemi, and Isaach De Bankole work with him instead.

I want to create stuff like this. Of course, that also means that I need to get over my pathological fear of writing fiction.

So, unrelated to the fortuitous drop of this trailer (See what I did there? I’m almost hip enough to write for Ain’t It Cool News.) I’ve taken steps to force myself to get back to work on my Sixth Age series of books.

(No boring, old-fashioned, and coherent, verbs like release, issue, offer, or deliver were injured in the dropping of this blog post.)




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