on innocence and being a falling tree...

Um, hi.

This is for the most part going to be a journal focusing on the lighter side of things. I recently came up with a theory that the 4 most important things in life are: love, sex, art, and laughter. I don't know... gimme a break. Just an notion. A stab at coming up with something quotable. Lately the only quotable thing I've come up with is to induce the wide usuage of the name "snaggletooth" for a girl we all know who, yes, has a crooked tooth. (No, it's not Jewel.) Regarding the 4 things, I don't know what order is best. That's for y'all to decide. Or maybe it changes - whatever you're not getting enough of becomes most important.

Three or so weeks ago I got a puppy. A beautiful, perfect puppy from the Animal Shelter in the same wretched neighborhood of LA where I bought my couch for ten dollars. A black and tan Lab/Rotweiller mix. I named her Stella. Yes, I had thoughts of yelling across the dog park some day, grande latte in hand, "Stella!!!!!!!".

My landlord does not allow dogs. But then again he speaks in a thick Filipino accent, so maybe he's just agnostic. (That was very stupid, sorry.) But after three years in this, my little fantastic blue and green apartment on the very bottom block of the Hollywood Hills, I decided to let the chips fall. I've always had a deep love for dogs. I grew up with a mean son-of-a-bitch golden/irish cross named Charlie. Took a chunk out of my leg once when I tried to take his food away. (Well, that was dumb.) Despite it all, Charlie was a good dog and I loved him. I have a great picture of little me, sleeping on the couch, mouth agape, and Charlie lying across my body, head on my chest. He died a few years back while I was at college. (New York University, for the curious.) My dad decided he had to have a beagle, so he found one through a beagle rescue service. Tanner. He's pure bred but would no doubt come in dead last at the Westminster. He has warts. He's fat. He smells. He has a sway-back. He makes very very strange noises. He snaps at the swarm of invisible bugs that constantly hover in front of him. On walks he has to mark every bush and tree. Seriously... EVERY ONE. A four block walk with Tanner takes 2 hours. And when he doesn't like the direction you're going, he lies down. Middle of the street? Yup, good place for a nap. My dad died soon after they got him and he still lives with my mom. And despite it all, yes, he is a good dog.

Stella was more than a good dog. She was an angel. Sure, she tugged at the leash and had to say hi to every single person or dog or cat or possum or blowing leaf she saw, but she was 11 weeks old, what do you expect.

From the sudden use of the past tense, I'm sure you've guessed: Stella died. Turns out she had what is a fairly rare virus called Distemper. She'd begun to eat less and less of her food. I would sit with her while she ate, saying "good dog", desperately trying to convince her to finish. I'd even stick my face down in the bowl like Nick Nolte in Down And Out in Beverly Hills, but it did no good. She had chest congestion, but we figured it was a cold. Then last weekend she began having mouth seizures - what they call Chewing Gum Seizures, because that's what it looks like - like they're chewing gum. Then Sunday night she had a full body seizure and me and my girlfriend (luckily, she was with me) took her to the emergency animal hospital. They diagnosed her right away and we left her there for the night, so they could keep her safe during any more seizures.

The next morning we came to say good-bye. She was asleep... and shaking. She was already leaving. We kissed her little head and kissed the already big paws that would never get any bigger, and wept silently. "Good dog", we whispered. Then we went to the beach and wrote her name in the sand and watched as a wave came in and erased her name completely.

I went home and cried for hours. I even did one of those film-ish moves I didn't know I was capable of: I fell to my knees, weeping.

This afternoon I threw away her food and her treats. Put her toys and leash and collar on the shelf and made a file for her papers.

She was pure goodness. Innocence, in the most real sense of the overused word. I don't know when I'll get another dog, but I'm sure I will. For now, I still have my Angel Puppy to mourn. Luckily I got some great photos. And a roll is still in the camera, taken two days before she died. Oh, and I'm getting her ashes mailed to me. That'll be fun:

"Bill. Postcard. Bill. Ad. Letter. Bill. Puppy Ashes. Bill."

Now I'm taking care of my girlfriend's cat. She's on my table licking a magazine. And yes, Olive, though she's fat and likes to lick the New Yorker, is innocent too.

Charlie Sheen was right, all dogs do go to heaven.

PS: I promise this space won't be as much of a bummer usually.

And who knows, maybe some day someone will even go back and actually read these early entries when I was nothing but a site in the forest. Unseen, except for me, secretly beaming while at work... and wishing I'd run a spell-check.