Friday, May 12, 2006

The joys of being an adult

There are certain things in life that you can look forward to as you get older. Getting to rent a car on your own, inviting your friends over whenever you want, drinking coffee. Having a glass of wine with dinner, planting a garden, shaking your head at kids these days with their weird haircuts. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are also things you can happily kiss goodbye: curfews, notes from mommy when you want to stay home, being forced to go to the doctor when you don’t want to. Report cards, only getting $1 a week for allowance, awkward pubescent years.

There are things you can only know about once you become an adult, and you cherish the ability to close this chapter of you life. The chapter including tantrums, angst, growing pains, and being misunderstood, over-analyzed and under-appreciated. There’s also experiencing something that makes you realize how difficult it was for you parents to raise you. This sort of realization can create wonderful conversations with your parents, where you tell your tale of how frustrating it is when your roommates don’t thoroughly clean their dishes but put them away for you to find later, and your mother says, “See, that’s how we felt with you as a child.” You chuckle, sigh, and and finally have that understanding, nay, a rite of passage, that took years to build.

I went to sleep the other night thinking about these things, an overconfident smile passing my lips. “Life is so good,“ I thought. But how was I to know that the very next morning I would be facing an agony that besets toddlers everywhere.

Teething. I am teething.

I am what people in the dentistry business call “an anomaly.” I’ve had braces twice, have had 2 mouth surgeries during which they pulled out 10 baby teeth that wouldn’t fall out (as well as remove a cyst and reposition a tooth that was coming in backwards.) I have had a spacer put in my mouth to correct a cross-bite, which involved breaking the cartilage of the jaw so it could be moved into the right position. I am also missing 4 permanent teeth- two molars and two incisors, which required the filing of my canines so they could be positioned where my incisors should be. One good thing about the latter is that they didn’t have to bother with pulling my wisdom teeth (I had plenty of room). But all of that pain and work pales in comparison to teething. Holy mother of god, growing a tooth in hurts like a motherfucker. I’m sorry for the language (I usually do not swear to god) but I’ve been in agony for at least a week while my final wisdom tooth is starting to poke out from my bottom right gum. It’s all I can think about, minute after minute, hour after hour. I can’t sleep on that side because I will chew up my swollen cheek, so I try to sleep on the other side but gravity forces my swollen cheek to fall into the path of my grinding teeth. My only recourse is to sleep on my back, which has never been comfortable for me.

I guess the good thing is that I have a new respect for what babies have to go through at such a tender age. I feel like I can empathize with their plight. But the best news is... I now have an abundance of wisdom that I didn’t have before my wisdom teeth grew in. Boo-ya.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

"How Could You?"

Sent to me by my dear friend, Dean...

A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan incredibly took out a $7000 full page ad in the paper to present the following essay to the people of his community. (Though a melodramatic story, its truth touches the heart at its core. Prepare to need a tissue...)

HOW COULD YOU? By Jim Willis, 2001

“When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect.
We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife is not a "dog person" -- still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate.

Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love."
As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch -- because your touch was now so infrequent -- and I would've defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told those stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject.
I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf. Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness.
You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers."
You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed
"No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life.

You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked
"How could you?"

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream... or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.

As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured
"How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry."
She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself -- a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my
"How could you?" was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

A Note from the Author: If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters. Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, which animals deserve our love and sensible care, and that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or make them sad, but it could save maybe, even one, unwanted pet.

Remember...They love UNCONDITIONALLY.“

Consequently, I am a member of a group called "Playwrights for Pets"- I have directed for them and am proud supporter. There is a show coming up Monday, May 22 (7:30pm) called "Duets"- a benefit reading of short plays by New York playwrights. All donations go directly to Animal Haven. To RSVP (or for info on making a donation) please email Sue Yocum, Executive Director.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The hits just keep on coming!

Ok, so I love being an actor and getting the chance to do all kind of performance and promotional opportunities. But sometimes things happen and I think, “Is this really what my life has become?”

This job opportunity just came across my inbox:

“To celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Maybelline mascara – Great Lash, we are seeking 2 energetic males or females to be Great Lash mascots and walk around Times Square. The costume is a pullover (meaning your body is covered, but not completely enclosed in a full body costume) with a screen for the face area. (In other words, you will be incognito). To ensure the costume fits properly, you must be 5’8” or taller and on the thin side.  Remember, you are a tube of mascara...“

Huh? Can you imagine walking around Time Square as a tube of mascara?!?

The sad thing is, this job pays more than most of the temp jobs I have been called for... if only I were 5’8“ (or taller)- I would snatch this job right up.

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