Slim, c. September 1992-28 June 2006

28 June 2006

Below, Slim on his first day with us, September 1993. Right, Slim’s last photo session, June 2oo6.

Today is one of the saddest days I’ve ever had. We put to sleep our beloved friend Slim, who had been with us almost 13 years. My students were in kindergarten when he was born.

I posted on him a while back, but I wasn’t even as ready as I thought I’d be for his loss. He was such a good friend and a tolerant, happy guy.

I was grateful to be with him for his final breaths, which came at the hand of our old friend and vet Matt. Nice to be somewhere where they understand how hard it is. It was also nice that Matt’s dog Chloe has separation anxiety and was in the room too. Somehow that gave life to a death situation.

Slim had been fading for a while, but just the past couple weeks were much worse. For a while he’s had trouble knowing when he needs to go out, but lately he’d had more and more trouble getting up and lying down. Just couldn’t seem to find comfort. But because he was still eating (and having snacks on our way in this morning), we just didn’t see the clear signs. But he’d lost a lot of weight, and it was painful to watch him as his legs struggled to hold him up, but unable to let himself down.

So E drove and I sat and hugged him in the back seat of the car, on his dog bed. He’s always hated being in the car, so the shivering was par for the course, but somehow it seemed worse. We left Denali outside for the journey, just not knowing what he’d make of the situation. As usual, Slim had trouble getting out and stumbled a little going in.

We hoisted him onto the table in the exam room, where they’d put towels to make him comfortable and, I presume, to absorb any fluids he lost. Matt explained what would happen, and we stuck around. After a few whispers of love, Matt started injecting the tranquilizer, which put him to sleep-sleep. As he faded, I told him what a good boy he was and how much I would miss him. I couldn’t tell him enough. Then he was asleep, and Matt said that he wouldn’t know we were there, so if we wanted to leave for the next step, we could. E went to the car, but because he didn’t seem any different, I stuck around and continued to tell him how much I loved him. Crying the whole time. Matt injected the “euthanasia solution,” then listened for a heartbeat and declared it over.

For a minute, that felt a little peaceful. But then I had to leave him, and I just didn’t want to. I knew he was gone, but I also knew I’d never see him again. It was crushing. Eventually, I said a final goodbye, rubbed his ear one last time, and thanked Matt for his kind service.

E and I hugged in the car, and I drove us home. I felt one thing I didn’t expect; I would have given anything for one more night with him. Not that I didn’t have a lot of nights with him already, and he’d stopped enjoying our time together as much as he once had, but I just wasn’t ready to be done with him. But I also knew that tonight would have been just as painful, and the next day would have been just as regrettable. So now I’m trying to come to terms.

We didn’t take any of the options of cremating him, saving a lock of hair, or any of that stuff. I’d kinda like a physical piece of him, but I have a million photos of him, and I know I won’t forget him. Still, my life is much different just today than it was yesterday. Because of something I initiated. I hope it was a gift to him; that’s what I wanted it to be.

So it’s been a day of mourning. I cancelled both my classes. I intended to teach the 2nd, but I knew I just didn’t have anything to give to the class. Energy and enthusiasm are my greatest classroom assets, and they’re in short supply about now. So I hope to be a better worker tomorrow, when the pain is a bit duller.

For now, it’s wonderful to have Denali’s beautiful spirit. When Atticus died, Slim’s company was a great help. And now Denali is a consoling presence. Life goes on, but it’s always so hard, and I start to wonder why I put myself through this. But the period of anguish is worth it for the many many gifts Slim has given us over the years, from 1993 to 2006. Or so I hope to believe tomorrow.

Slim, thank you for all you’ve done, and all you are. I will miss you forever and think of you often. Rest well, my friend.


Weekend Whew

26 June 2006

Had a pretty unusual weekend, with E gone. Friday I laid low because I had the Katrina university benefit 5k on Sat am. Made it through in about 28 min, which wasn’t bad for me. I’m hoping to run regularly enough to pick up the pace, but I’m just glad I actually did it. Good turnout from Xavier as well as the other schools; much bigger than they anticipated.

Then I decided to bike to the car, which was getting wrapup work from the crash. I changed into my biking gear because I knew it would be a bit of a ride, but I had no idea what I was in for. My plan was to go down the levee to the Causeway, and then up to N. Causeway. Turns out, you cannot do that without getting on a highway with no shoulder. Not a healthy move for a bicycle. So I backtracked and went all over hell & back trying to find a way to get there. My last resort was to go up the Airline overpass (W. of the Tulane Avenue part), and that was ok, but still pretty treacherous.

My point is that it’s absurd to have so many people in NO without cars and to have insurmountable barriers to getting around. There’s no reason not to add a little bike/pedestrian lane to these highways, a la Jeff Davis Pkway. Really pissed me off.

Then I went to the Festival of Neighborhoods, which was hot as hell, but a nice scene, and with some very enlightening architects’ posters about the future of NO. Pretty interesting and innovative ideas, most of which will never be considered, I expect, but it’s nice to see some intellectual energy being expended on us.

So I was beat after all that, ordered a calzone, and tried to watch Gummo (sucked; couldn’t finish it)–one of my “disturbing” movies that E won’t watch. Then Sunday was Rosanne’s Juneteenth party and a nice time. Well done.

Looking forward to the couple days off next week.


As If It Isn’t Embarrassing Enough To Be From Louisiana

19 June 2006

I happen to be one of the firmly pro-choice people who understands and sympathizes with the position of pro-lifers, and who believes that the two sides are closer to each other than they realize. Some true dialog could go a long way.

But this is a mistake for several reasons. One obvious one is that we need to make sure that people born are truly wanted (see my post on Kids). Especially in Louisiana, which has more than its share of poor people. Another reason is that no one who’s raped, especially by a relative, should be forced to carry the child. Furthermore, the whole anti-abortion lobby is dominated by men, and they just don’t have the equipment to determine all this crap. Sure, Blanco is a woman, but she’s forced to buckle to the interests of the regressives in this state.

A friend told me this weekend that he regrets not voting for Jindal; we’d have the same right-wing crap going on, but at least the guy is sharp.

Good point, MR.

And then there’s just the question of why the hell we’re worrying about this stuff now, when we’re in crisis mode after Katrina (see my post on Vitter’s marriage position). We have bigger fish to fry, especially since this law is moot as long as Roe stands (hurry up, 2008).

So it’s another reason that I don’t know that I could stay in the US if I have to leave NOLA. Sigh.


Kids

15 June 2006

I’m not sure I’ve ever posted about E’s & my “Childless by Choice” (or Child”free,” as one of her colleagues puts it) existence, before, but it’s something I feel strongly about.

Not that I feel that everyone should be child-free, or even that I’m positive we should, but I certainly think it’s something that everyone should consider. The bottom line is that kids shouldn’t be the default; they should be a choice made by people who really want them.

That’s exactly why we announced my vasectomy in a Christmas card a few years ago (’99, I think):

But that’s [Slim, Atticus, WhoopyCat, Denali] enough of a family, we thinks;
A recent procedure insures we’ll stay DINKs.

Well, that announcement didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped. Mom was pissed, not, according to her, at the decision to have the operation, but at the decision to “herald” it, never mind the fact that we didn’t send that announcement to too many folks. My mom had always been my partner in relative progressiveness, until then. Now she uses her apparent “liberalness” as a license to correct me on my shallowness as a thinker, such as about gay marriage.

Well, E & I talk about this a lot. I had my procedure at 29, when friends told me no doctor would do it if I didn’t have kids. I can say that I haven’t regretted it for a day. That’s not to say I don’t see the benefits of offspring, but I don’t think it’s worth it FOR ME.

Shortly, here’s why we didn’t do it:
For E: She raised her bro and sis (10 and 13 years younger) while her mom was doing “her own thing” and knows that’s it’s a 24-hour job she’s not into.
Pour Me’: There are enough people around, that I don’t need to add to the masses; plus, I likes my stuff.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, published an incredibly annoying piece this week on childlessness. I’ve about had it with Slate. They’ve been awful in their Katrina coverage, and they seem to get off on bucking the traditional liberal points, even though Kinsley founded it as a progressive mag.

My issue with Yoffee is that she could’ve told her questioner, “Say that right now you’re not planning on having kids at all.”

We made the decision for the procedure because we wanted to explicitly be intentional about our decision, not just put it off til it was too late. And it’s been the best thing for us. For us. Love the nieces and godkids, but we’re doing just fine. The smugness of people with kids is really tiresome. Fortunately for all of us, human nature (and dissonance reduction responses) lead us to justify our decisions and be happy with them. But it goes both ways. Chances are, E and I are going to think about all the great things about not having kids, and people with them will focus on all the great things about them. I know they’re there. I know it’s different when it’s your own; I don’t doubt that for a minute. But to have a kid, you should earnestly want to, and we don’t.


2 Down, 24 To Go

15 June 2006

I just checked the hurricane maps, and nothing’s brewing so far, so we’re about 7.7% done with hurricane season and are still standing. Does G-d favor us, or is it just too early? Hmmm…


Geez, More on Marriage

15 June 2006

Here’s the text of a letter I wrote to the paper today. Of course they won’t publish it.

 

Senator Vitter had me, then he lost me. As a �liberal� (he used the term 4 times in his diatribe against Stephanie Grace), I didn�t vote for him. Still, I�ve admitted to fellow liberal friends that I�ve been impressed with his work for the state following Katrina. In fact, I�ve sometimes wondered whether he got the memo that Republicans aren�t allowed to question the president and his handling of the situation.

 

But he�s back to form attacking the straw man of �radical� (he used that term twice) redefinition of marriage. If he�s so concerned about Ms. Grace�s alleged intellectual dishonesty, then maybe he should acknowledge a bit of his own.

 

Like many people who oppose gay marriage, he alleges the impending breakdown in values. He�s right that values, and their transmission, are not trivial, but nothing in the union of two people of the same sex inherently jeopardizes those values. What does jeopardize those values is treating some people in our society differently from others.

 

Vitter cites how we raise children, meet each other�s emotional needs, and transmit values as central to his motivation for his position. Those are fine motivations, but not for opposing gay marriage. Most gay couples I know would agree with his priorities, but not their outcome. Do gay couples who�ve been together for 40 years do a worse job transmitting positive values than the conservative heterosexuals who cheat or discard spouses for matters of convenience?

 

I suspect that Vitter�s real issue is either one of emotion�the idea gives him the creeps�or of expediency�he knows that the issue will score needed points in the midterm elections. I�m not sure which it is, but he doesn�t need to blame Stephanie Grace for pointing out that there are indeed far more pressing issues for our society and that his statement is an insult to the suffering people of our region.

 


Military Strikes

14 June 2006

I’m not a complete pacifist, but I’d like to be. I like the idea of being completely arms-free, but there are too many questions I can’t answer and situations that have no other solution that I can see. That said, I think W takes it all waaaay too lightly.

Now, we just killed Al Zarqawi. I guess that’s good, since he was a dangerous man, but from what I’ve been reading, he was dangerous because of us. Here’s what I’m surmising: W wanted to attack Iraq, 9/11 provided the window, but even he knew we needed a connection, so we portrayed Al Zarqawi as the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. So that gave AZ more power than he had before, and he played it up. Then when we killed him, we can say we killed this dangerous man.

Another case of the US creating a problem because it has the solution. Reminds me of the headline from Our Dumb Century by the Onion: Listerine Co. Invents, Cures Halitosis.