Friday, June 30, 2006

En Vacances

My moms are going to Paris for ten days. I'm not, but I'll have a little vacation of my own right here on Lincoln Avenue. Our friend Margie, founding member of the Society of Fabulous Women, is coming to stay with me most of the time, and then my brother Geoffrey, founding member of the famous a cappella singing group, Geoffrey and the Menopausals, will be with me for the last night or two. I may do some blogging, but on the other hand I might just kick back and party hearty with two of my favorite people on earth who aren't my mommies. I've been feeling pretty good recently, so I'm thinking some serious fun and relaxation are in order.

Oh, but the mommies will be blogging from Paris, so tune into their antics at M & M in Paris.

A bientot, everybody!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Thunder, Near and Far

I do not like thunder. I do not like lightning. Like many dogs, I suffer from Weather-Related Panic Anxiety Disorder (or W-RPAD, since every syndrome needs an acronym). If humans were prone to a similar disorder, there would be dozens of medications to combat it and long, melodramatic television commercials depicting the pathetic victims in gory detail and enumerating the hideous side effects of the medications with equally gory precision. (Moose's current favorite disorder is Restless Leg Syndrome, which may be real for some people, but is also a major marketing opportunity for GlaxoSmithKline, makers of a drug called Requip. Requip was developed to treat Parkinson's disease, but Glaxo got permission last year to sell it as a treatment for RLS--then spent $27 million to advertise the drug for that purpose. And so we have that barrage of commercials of people with creepy-crawly feelings in their legs. And we also have a lot of people becoming obsessive pleasure seekers, engaging in high-risk compulsive behaviors as a result of taking dopamine-boosting drugs like Requip for conditions like RLS. They become gamblers, serial adulterers--but their legs don't feel creepy-crawly anymore! Hooray, says Moose, for the triumph of clever marketing over common sense!)

Back to me and my W-RPAD, which is not listed in the veterinarian's diagnostic manual but ought to be. Like I said, I hate thunder and lightning, the mere anticipation of which can send me into hysterical fits of trembling and hyperventilation. I can spend hours in an unremitting state of panic, no matter how much my moms try to comfort or distract me. They rub me, they snuggle me, they wrap me in blankets. They speak in their sweetest talk-to-the-dog voices. Moose even wrote me a song on the piano called "Don't Be Afraid of the Rain." It doesn't have any words, but I have to admit it's pretty, in a really simple, key-of-F, lullaby kind of way. Still, I am inconsolable, until the thunder stops and the awful lights are gone from the sky.

As you can imagine, the last few days here in the Washington area have been hard on me, what with my raging W-RPAD. Actually, I imagine the past few days have been tough on a lot of folks who aren't afflicted with W-RPAD. Mother Nature has dumped phenomenal amounts of rain on the national capital area in waves of storms that started on Thursday and have barely abated since then. The thunder rattles the windows while the lightning flickers like a strobe light in the yard. Moose says she's only seen storms like this in the movies, really scary ones. Goose says we shouldn't sit next to the windows. I say we should move into the basement for the duration. The noise unhinges me. I can't eat. I tremble even when I sleep. I love my moms, but I don't think they're scared enough.

Which of course makes me think of Afghanistan. I don't understand why people aren't more worried about Afghanistan, where U. S. combat deaths are up, a violent insurgency is taking hold, and confidence in the American-picked leader, Hamid Karzai, is fading as fast as you can say "Taliban redux." Have you ever noticed how little attention is paid to the situation in Afghanistan? That's where "the global war on terror" was officially launched, and yet we seem only dimly, fitfully aware that we still have troops there and that things aren't going particularly well. The media dutifully report the milestones of American combat fatalities in Iraq--1,000, 2,000, 2,500--but when was the last time you heard a comparable report on Afghanistan? (For the record, the Washington Post recently published a piece on this issue. As of June 26, 2006, 245 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.)

Our forgetfulness is in part a tribute to the effectiveness of Bush administration propaganda. They assiduously avoid the topic, and so the media ignore it. They have plenty of dramatic video of the daily carnage in Irag, so there's no need to have a bureau in Kabul. Besides, everyone agrees that overthrowing the Taliban was good for the region and was justified by the clear evidence that the regime aided and abetted terrorism. (Everyone except for Goose. Goose is no fan of the Taliban, but she believes that the invasion of Afghanistan was, like most evils in this world, motivated by the desire for oil.) The consensus that the invasion of Afghanistan was justified and largely successful while the invasion of Iraq was dubious and fraught with complications is so strong that few bother to ask how the other war, the good little war we launched when the sympathies of the world were with us, is going. Perhaps we need to believe that the telegenic Karzai is an effective leader and that his people and the region are "better off" than they were five years ago. Perhaps that belief makes the daily carnage of Iraq easier to bear.

Off in the distance, though, the storm clouds are gathering. Karzai, in a clear acknowledgment of his limited control of the country, raises the possibility of creating local police forces to protect remote areas, which to some sounds disturbingly similar to the Islamic and tribal militias that once ruled pockets of Afghanistan. I put my ear to the ground. In my old dog's bones, I can already feel the thunder. My sensitive ears hear the crackle of lightning, and I am afraid.

Why aren't you?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Right-Wing Satan Girls

Moose took me in to the vet today for a quick blood test to check on the diabetes possibility, but enough about me and my woes; let's get back to politics.

While I've been sick, a group of women whom I like to call the Right-Wing Satan Girls has been very, very busy doing their usual nasty toxic stuff in the name of their cause--which is, of course, promoting themselves. Who do I have in mind when I invoke the phrase "Right-Wing Satan Girls"? Oh, gosh, it's such a long list, headed by Satan's queen herself, Laura Bush. It's no wonder to me that Mrs. Bush is a closet smoker and drinker of bourbon. Being considerably smarter than her husband, she no doubt needs to anesthetize herself in order to go on about the business of promoting and defending the many acts of duplicity and incompetence perpetrated by his administration. My moms love it when they do things like send her off to Afghanistan to pretend that the war there was all about liberating Afghani women or stand her up at the Republican convention to paint quaint little domestic tableaus of an engaged leader reluctantly leading the nation into war. Fortunately, her sugary sweet image gets deservedly demolished every day out in the rough-and-tumble world of the internets. Check out what America's best Christian, Betty Bowers, has to say about Mrs. Bush, for example. She has an extensive collection of interviews and features related to the First Lady, including her invaluable tips on raising Christian young ladies when "you only have twenty minutes and two shot glasses." Another great resource along these lines are the wise guys (and gals) at White, which also has a wickedly witty set of First Lady links. We at Roxie's World think she deserves everything she gets in the way of parody. Just think of all the Iraqi women who have been "liberated" to death by the violence unleashed in the course of her husband's unnecessary war.

Like I said, though, there are a lot of Right-Wing Satan Girls out there, women who have sold their souls to a mean-spirited conservatism that is eroding women's rights and civil rights while systematically redistributing wealth upward. Not to mention ruining America's reputation in the eyes of the world. Oh, yeah, and destroying the planet by feeding our addiction to fossil fuels. My favorite Satan Girl is Ann Coulter, who is famous for nothing but spewing a lot of toxic waste about liberals and liberalism. Progressive radio talk goddess Stephanie Miller always refers to Coulter as "noted transsexual plagiarist Ann Coulter," which makes Moose laugh and feel slightly guilty because she doesn't approve of mocking or insulting transsexuals. She decided it was okay to laugh when she realized that Coulter was the butt of the joke. As an English professor, she is deeply opposed to plagiarism, and Coulter has been accused for years of stealing words and ideas from others and passing them off as her own. The Satan-Coulter link is nicely literalized in this bit from Huffington Post's Contagious Festival.

Actually, the Contagious Festival is a treasure trove of brilliant send-ups of Right-Wing Satan Girls. See also the fabulous "Who Will Cry for Mary Cheney?" as well as the pants-wetting "Rejected Katherine Harris Campaign Video." What are these girls thinking? What motivates them to embrace all these awful ideas, not to mention the truly hideous hairstyles? And more importantly, who are your favorite Right-Wing Satan Girls, and where are they getting trashed out on the internets? Roxie's World wants to know.

We ain't dead yet, and the blogosphere has gone to the dogs, so keep barking and stay in touch.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dog Bites Phone--Man Lives!

Because of my ongoing health problems, we have focused a great deal of attention here at Roxie's World on the heroic efforts of my moms to keep me alive and well. Hooray to humans for holding up their end of the companion species bargain, I say! Well, today we celebrate a noble canine holding up that bargain from the other side--Belle the beagle, who, according to this morning's Washington Post, saved her owner from a potentially fatal diabetic coma by dialing 911 with her TEETH! She had been trained to monitor her owner's condition by smelling his nostrils to check his ketone levels. When Kevin Weaver collapsed on the floor with a seizure, Belle grabbed his cellphone and pressed on the number 9 with her teeth. That button was programmed to dial 911. When the dispatcher heard nothing but a dog barking, an ambulance was sent to Weaver's home to see what the problem was. Belle hitched a ride to the hospital in the ambulance--and was treated to a steak dinner for her quick thinking and acting when Kevin was released from the hospital later that day.

Humans, think of this story the next time your dog puts some "foreign object" in his or her mouth. And dogs, let us raise our paws to Belle, brave and intrepid companion to a wise and loving owner. Let us eat steak!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Un-Dead Like Me

First, I'd like to thank all my fans and friends for holding me in the light, as our friend Katie puts it, during my recent illness. Your thoughts and good wishes helped buoy me and my moms up during some dark and scary moments. I don't know if love can heal a body, but it sure does a soul good, and we all felt surrounded by love in the midst of great uncertainty. Thanks to everybody for hanging in there with us. Here's some information on canine pancreatitis for those of you who might be interested or concerned.

My moms were amazed at the way I bounced back this week. My aunt Isa came and took care of me over the weekend while my moms made a quick trip to New York City for our friend Maya's bat-mitzvah. Aunt Isa prepared wonderful food that made me delighted to be eating again, and she used a number of extremely clever techniques and ruses to get me to take all the horrible medications I was on for pancreatitis. By the time my moms came home Sunday evening, I was almost back to normal. By Wednesday, I was acting like a puppy again, barking my head off for no apparent reason, eating with gusto, and playing in-door fetch with Moose in the long hallway that runs from the great room to the front door. Moose is a little concerned about the fact that in the past couple of days I've been drinking a lot and tinkling a lot, despite not being on Lasix at the moment. She's worried that I might have developed diabetes, which can happen after pancreatitis, so she's keeping her eagle eye on me again this weekend. Goose and I roll our eyes and say, "Well, worrying is one of Moose's jobs. Let's go outside and play."

Humans might be wondering if my brush with death carried me to the threshold of any wisdom or revelation. Dogs don't tend to see near-death experiences in such cosmic terms. My primary focus last week was trying to find places in the yard where I hadn't already vomited or had an explosion of diarrhea. Fortunately, we have a very big yard, so that wasn't difficult, which left me with a certain amount of time for brink-of-death revelations and visions. Here, in no particular order, is what I saw:

1. Dick Cheney really is the anti-Christ. He would eat small animals raw for breakfast if he thought he could get away with it, and since he got away with shooting one of his best friends in the face I'm thinking someone should keep an eye on him at the breakfast table.

2. Politics in the U.S. has become another form of infotainment. Citizens have tuned out because the "info" part is mostly lies or posturing or spin and the "tainment" part is less fun and compelling than even the cheesiest of the fake competition shows on TV. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" moment grows more ruinous to his presidency with every drop of blood spilled in Iraq. Deep in their hearts, viewers know that the spectacle is meant to distract them from the lies, the blood, the hundreds of crimes committed in our names.

3. Small bites of food are sublime when you haven't eaten in nearly a week. My brother Geoffrey fed me tiny bites of grilled chicken from his hand after I got home from the clinic last Friday. Moose kept saying, "In twelve years the only rule we've ever managed to enforce is that we don't feed the dog out of our hands or at the table," but she had a smile on her face when she said it. Me, I was the happiest dog in the whole USA. Moose should quit her day job and write a cookbook called Grilling for Dogs.

4. Infotainment doesn't have to kill democracy. It might actually save democracy if artists, musicians, and bloggers use their cultural power to re-awaken the citizenry, to inspire their fans to feel connected to one another and to some cause larger than themselves. That's why my moms love artists who speak and sing truth to power--artists like the Dixie Chicks, Neil Young, and, of course, Mr. Bruce Springsteen, who speaks eloquently about what he's trying to do in his new album of reinterpretations of folk songs, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, in an interview on NPR.

5. Love is like water. It always finds a way to get where it wants to go. If you get too tired taking long walks on the trail with your moms, you can take shorter ones and know that they'll turn around when you tug on the leash. They'll even carry you up the hill on Larch if they have to. And they'll keep finding ways to make you eat. They'll put a bite of salmon on top of canned food. They'll buy you your own loaf of bread and tear it up into tiny pieces. They'll save a piece of chicken just for you and let you eat all the leftover couscous from Tuesday night. Then they'll tell the story about how when you were a baby couscous was one of your favorite foods. They'd use it to lure you back into the house at night, standing on the deck shouting in a goofy voice, "Roxie, do you want some couscous? Come get some couscous!" They didn't even care when the neighbors asked what the deal was with couscous and why they were shouting about it late at night. Love finds a way to bring a dog and her moms together in the night.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rumors of My Death. . .

. . .have been greatly exaggerated--or are at least premature.

This is Roxie. We'll keep Moose's beautiful tear-jerker of a pre-obituary up on the site for awhile, because it's nice to see what pretty things people will say about the nearly dead. Moments after she posted it, however, Dr. K. called from the clinic with some very encouraging news. They got a test result back, and it turns out that I do have pancreatitis. Dr. K. has mapped out a course of treatment (fluids, antibiotics, and narcotics for pain), so we'll start it tomorrow and see how I do. If I respond, hooray--I'm back on my trail by Tuesday! If I don't, well, I'll make that move Moose referred to earlier, and my moms will know they did everything they could to help me.

Actually, even if Dr. K. had come by tomorrow morning to play Dr. Kevorki-vet, I know that I have been showered with the best care and all the love in the world. My moms are poster girls for the old-fashioned kind of lesbian mothering: obsessive devotion to pets. We've had a great ride together, and I'm happy to know it will go on for at least a little while longer, though, frankly, at this very moment, I'm so weak from hunger and pain that I can barely hold my head up. I think I'll go curl up on one of the comfortable old towels my moms have placed strategically around the house to catch me and my bodily fluids when I fall.

Thanks for all your good thoughts and wise council, friends of Roxie's World. Stay tuned for updates on my health and the state of the world, which is much in need of my keen eye and rapier wit, if you ask me.


This is Moose, writing for Roxie, with a heavy heart. It appears that the sweetest girl who ever lived may soon be moving on to another part of "Roxie's World." She has put up a brave fight this week, but she hasn't responded at all to aggressive treatment for the violent gastrointestinal disturbance that hit her over the weekend. She hasn't eaten since Saturday and isn't even able to keep down water, though she continues to drink occasionally, even dipping her toes into our backyard pond to steal a sip or two from the fish. Our vet thinks she probably has the necrotic form of pancreatitis or tumors in her stomach. For a more certain diagnosis (but no clear outcome), we'd have to subject her to more time in the hospital, expensive tests, and a whole new battery of treatments. Given her age and pre-existing heart condition, we can't justify doing that. There just isn't enough certainty that such an intervention would restore her quality of life for enough time to warrant subjecting her to such an ordeal. We have talked to the vet about putting her down and will likely do so tomorrow, barring some miraculous improvement overnight tonight.

We still see glimmers of her joyous spirit. When Margie rang the doorbell this afternoon, she roused herself up for a semblance of the old leap-and-greet maneuver that visitors to 502 Lincoln have been subjected to for the past twelve years. Mostly, though, she sleeps, peacefully, and for that Goose and I are grateful. Her heart seems to be doing well, and her lungs are clear as bells--this despite the fact that she's been off all her heart medications since the beginning of the week. And yet we feel in our hearts that she is dying, that she is slowly pulling away from us and moving toward a space beyond physical pain and all the amazing technologies humans have invented for healing or managing it.

As Goose and I have walked through the process of this excruciating decision, we have both reflected on the deaths of our fathers--Lindy, who quietly starved to death at 60 because there was no drug, machine, or procedure that could fend off the cancer growing in his colon; Earl, who had a heart transplant at 71 and endured years of painful decline and medical ordeal before finally drifting off into oblivion at 81. My father went home on hospice care and days before he died sat down at the piano and played a glorious concert of his "greatest hits" for his family. If Goose and I are tasked with "choosing" the manner of our daughter's death, we feel we must choose one that will be more like Lindy's than Earl's. We want our sweet, strong girl to go out with her dignity and something of her spirit in tact.

What will happen to Roxie's World when Roxie has left this earthly stage? Will she continue to hold forth on politics, basketball, and the peculiar foibles of human beings from the afterlife of cyberspace? Goose thinks that she should. Moose is less certain, but I don't think so clearly with an aching heart. It could well be that Roxie will have a lot to say when she reaches her next destination and that distance will afford her still keener insights into the doings of homo sapiens. One thing is for sure. I know that she will always be with me--teaching me joy, giving me love, and urging me toward the pleasures of a 3-mile walk on a Tuesday afternoon.

May you all know such infinite pleasures.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Queasy Does It

I have an upset stomach today. I mean, really upset, as in icky stuff coming out of every orifice in my body for the last few days but especially in the last 24 hours; as in an emergency trip to the vet for a bunch of tests; as in a nasty accident on the floor of her office in front of everybody. At which point Moose got down on the floor beside me and cried because she was scared and tired and didn't know what was wrong. I let her pet me. I lay down and rested until we were called back to see the doctor. A nice lady with a cat in a crate let us go in ahead of her. The receptionist got Moose a tissue. It's possible that something I ate didn't agree with me. The something may have been a tennis ball, but that's merely a conjecture on Moose and Goose's part.

For some reason, all of this makes me think of gay marriage. The icky stuff coming out of my orifices--That, of course, would be the loathsome bile being spewed out of the body politic by right-wing hate-mongers seeking to impose their narrow view of religion on the rest of us. Or, it might be the coy machinations of President Bush, who, as his poll numbers plunge ever further downward, proposes to amend the Constitution to enshrine the bigotry of homophobia while piously pretending to insist that "every American deserves to be treated with tolerance, respect, and dignity." Sometimes I wish the president could meet my moms and see how much they love each other and experience how much fun they are. Moose kisses my nose whenever I say something like but then goes on to explain that it wouldn't make any difference. There's no amount of love and no degree of "normalcy" we could show him that would change his mind, because he's not interested in concrete examples of gayness, such as Moose and Goose or Mary Cheney and Heather Poe or the thousands of men who lovingly cared for their dying partners in the early terrifying years of the AIDS crisis. He's only interested in the abstract threat supposedly posed to "the sanctity of marriage" by the kind of changes to the (always changing) institution of marriage that equality for same-sex couples would require. Or, more likely, he's only interested in the cheap political points he can score by whipping his base into a frenzy in order to distract ordinary people from the several disasters wrought over the course of his duplicitous, incompetent, misguided presidency.

That phrase, "the sanctity of marriage," drives my moms nuts. Every time she hears it, Moose thunders at the TV, "You're the president, you idiot, not the pope. Sanctity is not in your job description!" Then she and Goose are off to the races, talking about how if Democrats had any guts, they'd propose to make "Taliban Marriage" the law of the land to guard against the true and pervasive threats to the institution. Adultery would be a capital offense. Flirting with non-spouses at office parties would be a felony. And an attractive, single secretary of state who accidentally referred to her very married boss as her husband would be packed off to Gitmo before she could correct herself and say, "As I was telling the president."

I wonder if my boy Al would have the courage to stand up and say that same-sex marriage ought to be legal because inequality cannot be legal in the United States of America. The law allows no classes among persons. He could give a stirring speech about how this country has always been about expanding freedom and opportunity, not limiting it, not giving it to some and withholding it from others. He could wave the flag and surround himself with a bunch of cute little kids raised by same-sex partners (like my friend Aaron, for example).

Or, he could just go to the vet with me and my moms and watch how hard they work to get me well and keep our family whole.

Don't worry, fans of Roxie's World. The vet thinks I'll be okay in a few days. She sent me home with a bunch more meds to add to all the heart meds I already take. And Goose threw away all the rest of my tennis balls, just in case. Moose sends gratitude to the nice lady at the Takoma Park Animal Clinic who gave up her place in line to us. We hope your cat's okay.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Inconvenient Truths

The Al Gore love fest continues, as rave reviews of his new documentary on global warming roll in and citizens with a serious case of voters' remorse suddenly realize that a wonk might have made a better president than a C student after all. Roxie's World endorsed Al for president in 2008 two weeks ago, and we're annoyed with all those cringing Dems who think he'd still be a lousy candidate and that he can be more effective on his issue by staying out of the race than by getting in it. That's a load of scat, and not the kind that's fun to roll in on warm and sultry afternoon. Al can make a serious run as the candidate of passion and principle, the man who sacrificed his own ambition for the good of the country and then dedicated himself to what is arguably the cause that matters more than any other: assuring that the planet will be able to sustain life beyond the next fifteen minutes. Having been screwed by politics as usual and by a highly suspect voting system, Gore can run as the true reformer (as opposed to the fake, self-serving not-much-of-a-reformer, John McCain) and tap into the deep veins of anger and frustration in the American body politic. Further, if he's willing to give it another go, he lets people know there's no need to give up or give in to despair. There's nothing wrong with our system that can't be fixed by what's right in our system, he can credibly say.

So, Roxie's World says again, Run, Al, Run!

I do have my own inconvenient truth to report today, however: My moms started me back on Lasix late last night. We're not happy about it, but I think it was the right thing to do. I've had some shortness of breath recently, and last night at bedtime Moose noticed that my breathing was starting to get labored and shallow again. She went downstairs and wrapped half a tab of Lasix in some liverwurst, and I took it without complaining. No accidents overnight, but I made Goose get up twice to let me out.

It's a funny thing, this business of a broken heart. Some days I'm the same feisty girl I've always been, leaping at the door when Moose proposes an evening walk, even though the air is as thick as an old wool blanket. Some days I'm wobbly on my feet and wheeze just going from Goose's office to the great room. Moose puts her ear on my tummy to listen to my heart and lungs. I would say that's weird, but I know it's just her way of trying to mend my broken heart, and hers.