December 31, 2009

one-eyed willie and the boys, part 1 of 3

By a fluke, three Sundays in a row I cleaned the boys’ building. The first Sunday I cleaned like I normally do, chatting with the dogs as I went. The next Sunday some of the same panting faces greeted me and we discussed some more. The third Sunday I was legitimate friends with some of the dogs in the boys’ building, like a tiny Pit Bull puppy with one eye. His name was “One-Eyed Willie” from the movie The Goonies, bestowed by the county dog catcher who found him. Willie was a brindle color and wore one of those huge plastic funnel collars that prevented him from pulling out the stitches in his empty eye socket, sewn up by the shelter veterinarian when Willie arrived. Willie was in good spirits, though his funnel collar was dirty and disgusting so I brought the little guy to the play area in the rear of the shelter and let him run around while I cleaned it. That night I laid in bed and worried that I might not have done such a good job of putting the collar back on him, which would have been unfortunate if the little guy prematurely tore out his stitches. The next afternoon I returned to the kennel and found Willie without the funnel collar completely. He pulled it off during the night, and in the morning kennel workers found he hadn’t pawed at his face so they decided he didn’t have to wear it anymore. So maybe everything worked. I told him so. He was pure excitement when I talked to him.
I figured Willie would be adopted before anyone. A one-eyed puppy in a dog pound seemed adorable to me, but I was wrong.

Here's the next part.

December 30, 2009

back as volunteer

after speaking with a decision-maker, la county will make an exception to its policy of prohibiting volunteers from working at animal shelters on sundays and allow me to continue working on sunday mornings. i'm very grateful. it's not often anyone is willing to make exceptions to policies designed to make life easier for officials with large incomes.

December 27, 2009

no more volunteering

i've volunteered on sundays for two-and-a-half years at an overcrowded los angeles county animal shelter where i help the undermanned staff clean dog kennels and fill up water bowls. i've volunteered on sundays because the shelter is closed to the public on sundays and thus county managers reduce staff in order to save money. this is typical in the business. reduced staff means animals sometimes wait for hours for their cleanings and food in excrement-filled kennels. it's sad but hey, that's why the county has a volunteer program: to help out what is obviously an overcrowded and underfunded shelter system. this morning, however, i was informed of a new policy at the carson animal shelter: no more volunteering on sundays. go home.

this is the same shelter sued recently by an animal rescuer  over deplorable conditions for the animals. unfortunately, those who make the decisions at america's largest animal shelter system aren't interested in what might benefit or hurt the animals and hourly staff hustling to keep up in back. decisions have to do with covering one's ass and reducing paperwork. i'm going to request an official explanation this week as to why i can't help with cleaning on sunday mornings and why other volunteers can't walk dogs on sunday afternoons. i can't wait to hear the forward-thinking reasoning behind the new policy.

December 23, 2009


for much of the day, festivus, from seinfeld, was the top yahoo search term. the episode was from 1997. frank costanza returns to celebrating the holiday he invented in order to protest the commercialization of the christmas season. then i found out there's actually a festivus party somewhere. what an iconic show seinfeld was that people are still watching the reruns -- not excluding myself, less periodically than i would ever admit to -- and making festivus a top search term 12 years later.

December 18, 2009

35 cents for a local call

at the moment, i'm living in room #33 of a family-run motel on the beach in hermosa. the phone in my room doesn't work so well, and i find myself making phone calls at the pay phone outside the liqour store down the street. i was so tickled to have found a working pay phone in 2009 that i don't mind at all a pocket full of change. maybe i ought to put some minutes on my my cell phone plan, but the pay phone routine is working well enough, so far. it's funny the things we find nostalgic. other things that surprisingly bring on that sweet, nostalgic feeling: the glenn miller band (the soundtrack of my early childhood), holding a baseball in my hand, jams, and the irritating feeling of putting my only dime in a pay phone that doesn't register the coin and keeps returning it in the change slot.

December 16, 2009

to morning sun

the sun sets over the pacific and the sky god pulls out his paintbrush
the caterpillar settles down to sleep and will never wake up the same
who else can breath life into a tree in april in michigan?
in some way
the wheel keeps turning
my autumn love has turned
into my winter flame
where every beautiful woman reminds me of her body
i can see through a keyhole in the sky
to the outer wall of the universe
look what’s happening!
the dusting of sand on the sidewalk is really
fingernail filings from the god of love
sprinkling a holy carpet
for her feet
the wings on my back do not feel weird at all
my old friends from ancient times returning
for yet another incineration
and reincarnation of

December 9, 2009

Where's the size?

So Tiger Woods had a stable of gorgeous women, something like nine so far. What I don’t understand is, if a man has a rotation of nine women going, or a string of nine, don’t ya want a larger ass in there somewhere? I mean, I'm a fan of athletic bodies for sure, but over the course of nine women, how about a decent-sized ass in there somewhere? At the very least for a change of pace. Maybe more than one. And isn't Tiger part black?

December 7, 2009

Dreamland Christmas

I was playing with his army action figures in a battle over the oil stains on the garage floor when I looked upward toward the loft and knew—just knew—that my Christmas presents were stashed up there.
This was September. The sun was out. The garage was stuffy. Christmas wasn’t on anyone’s mind. I hadn’t figured on hunting for Christmas presents for another couple months, largely because there was nothing as exhilarating as finding Christmas presents on a November sweep. My yearly searches of the house included his parents’ closets, both of them, the attic, under their bed, under the basement stairs, behind the furnace and in the toilet tanks. I was thorough.
It had in fact been many years since I was surprised on Christmas morning at what I received as opposed to my normal routine of faking surprise because I had managed to locate the presents several weeks earlier. I was greedy in this way, clearly, but nevertheless wished it somehow possible to experience genuine surprise when opening presents on Christmas morning. More important than this seasonal daydream, however, was stumbling upon this new hiding place.
I hauled a ladder over and climbed up into the dusty loft where I found a giant robot that doubled as a storage case for ten brand new action figures. And then I found another ten action figures behind a present that appeared to be something resembling a book. Twenty-action figures! I hauled them down and began a massive war over the rich “oil pits” of the garage floor. It was a glorious battle featuring the new action figures versus the old ones. No action figures came back to life. When someone got hit, he was out of the battle. This was the sort of serious war to find out which set of action figures could claim dominance. An hour and 36 casualties later, the war was on the verge of being settled when my mother poked her head in.
“What the f--- Where did you get that?”
I had not yet developed an answer that would satisfy this question when mom matter-of-factly informed him that the toys would be returned to the store.
Without finishing the epic battle over the oil pits, I packed up the new action figures inside the robot and returned them to the loft. I didn’t even secretly pocket a single action figure and informed my mother of this good deed, a gesture I hoped would earn me the right to keep the presents I found that day.
Instead, my mother said, “You’re going to get nothing but books this year.”
“No!” I said. “Take the books back too! I was playing with the books too! I swear!”
No use. I watched my mother and father haul the toys out of the loft the next day and drive off. They returned and told me that the new presents were being stored in the loft, and if I wanted to ruin my surprise I could sneak a peek. So that’s what I did, later in the evening while my parents were watching TV. In the loft, I found a stack of books. But something didn’t seem right. It all seemed like a decoy.
I wasn’t an idiot.
The next weekend I did a more thorough search of the house, beginning with the toilet tanks. In my father’s closet, I found more books and two—just two!—action figures.
It was a gloomy day indeed. I moped around in sadness. A few weeks later I did another check of the house and garage to see if my parents had added anything worthwhile to the books, but they hadn’t. Final sweeps a week before Christmas revealed only that the stacks of books were wrapped in wrapping paper. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t deserve this. I was a good boy, for the most part. But I was also finally accepting that I had been defeated.
Maybe I was in fact getting what I deserved.
On Christmas day I woke up later than ever but still well before my parents. I moped downstairs and found a present under the tree that didn’t look like a stack of books. I ripped the wrapping paper off. It was the robot! With the 20 action figures inside! I screamed for joy as my parents staggered into the living room covering their ears.
“Where’d you hide it?” I asked.
“In the trunk of the car,” my father answered, more proud of the hiding spot than anything.
The rest of the day featured a big battle between the action figures over the property surrounding and including the Christmas tree. Old action figures versus new ones. For hours they fought. I didn’t notice my parents watching from the dining room. Only a wish come true can send a kid that far off into dreamland.