Monthly Archives: July 2012

…and cross your T’s.

When I asked about it, Grandpa used to tell me crazy Things (all true!) about how he lost his left eye.

  • Shark Took It @ Sea
  • Moths Ate It
  • Bird Attack
  • Wayward Fireball

My favourite: “Grandpa cried too much.  Grandpa lost it because I cried and cried and didn’t stop.  Ehhh?”

He never had a glass eye, or anything, Grandpa.  No rakish or stoic eye-patch.  Just the flap and a slight depression where the eye used to be, the combined effect not totally unlike the skin that forms on the surface of cooled soup.

Urges for all else be damned.


But there was no soup in there.

He wore black-rimmed glasses, Grandpa did, even though OK what other situation would be as good for a monocle?  Then again, maybe he just didn’t want to worry the point.

Could be.

Actually, you know, it never occurred to me to ask him how he felt about it – like, about having just the one eye.

But I liked that it gave us something to talk about.

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The Cruellest Month

Here is how April came and went.
The weather that day was probably lovely because I at least remember taking Louis down to the beaches before it happened, a pleasant 45-minute jaunt from the house and back.

It was as I was making dinner that I noticed the twitching; little jumps and spasms that ran up and down his legs and caused his dachshund back to bunch up in a kind of inverted “C” and forced his nose to the down to the tile even as he tried to look up at me with his eyes.  Then it passed and there he was, begging for food again.

The next day, the twitching started again.  Then it stopped.  Then there he was, getting up and down and up and down and up and down again and again and again and not being able to settle anywhere because, we later found out, it was painful for him and he was trying to figure Things out in the only way he really could…
The Saddest Place in the World
Toronto.  Home of the V-E-C, an emergency veterinary trauma centre.  With over 200 employees and over 20, 000 patients a year, the VEC is one of the busiest veterinary facilities in the country…

Going to the emergency vet is a lot like needing to buy a used Jeep that you already own from a car salesman you really want to sort of like.  But you can’t because he’s got this kind of power over you – a little condescending, nearly snide, unavoidable – and so your impression of him finally hardens to a mild contempt that you find increasingly difficult to control but surprisingly easy to suppress, considering.

It’s pretty much exactly like that.

We had been transferred to the care of Toronto’s Veterinary Emergency Clinic after two days of guesswork from another vet, who was actually kindhearted and accommodating even in the face of his spectacular and total failure to provide us with a viable diagnosis.  But that’s what referrals are for.

The VEC is a strange, strange place.  I had been there before when Lou had eaten something truly rotten in High Park and had blood coming out where blood must not ever come out.  That was a little over two years ago.

Standing there again in the foyer, the whole place smelling of ammonia and accented with watery-eyed portraits of spaniels and longhaired cats taken by a pretty good photographer, surely.  You can see grown men in tears at the VEC and women pacing outside, smoking cigarettes wedged between rigid fingertips. The first time I was there, at the VEC, I saw a small family by the doors, dressed in their Sunday best, crying silently, the boy clutching a tiny doggy bed.

I noticed they installed an aquarium since the last time, one of those flat, wide-screen tanks with the bright, impossible blue water that hang on the wall and are full of plastic articulated fish – all of it hermetically sealed from the inside out.

One less worry.

The two new vets put in charge of Louis’ care I have dubbed Dr. So-and-So and Dr. Liz Lemon.  Dr. Liz Lemon’s last name was something that sounded like “Lemon”. I can’t remember what his face looked like, but he had one.  It may have been unique, even, or at least I don’t remember him having a face I already know.

Not my Father.  Not the Pope.  Not Tony Soprano or Shaquille O’Neal.

Hence, Dr. Liz Lemon.

“Lizzing is a combination of laughing and whizzing.”

“And I don’t really think that it’s fair for me to be on a jury because I’m a hologram.”

Many people tend to think of crisis professionals as kind of saviours; more than hero-people who get interjected into the trauma at exactly when they need to be there.  In the moment, it’s hard enough to try to understand what’s happening. So in retrospect, maybe – maybe there are saviour-y people among us – saving us from circumstance as only fully trained and appropriately compensated personnel can.

So Dr. So-and-So was maybe not a hero, and maybe he was, but above all else he was a hard-nosed professional.

  • Clipped.
  • To. The. Point.
  • Detail Oriented.

He personality itemized the bill for us, which was, in its way, extremely thoughtful.


Everything on this costs money.

It was clear that the relationship between Dr. So-and-So and Dr. Liz Lemon was one of superior/subordinate, with Dr. Liz Lemon, I imagine, fetching pricey lattes for each of them during every shift even though, come to think of it, he never had a coffee habit before he started at the VEC…

Even heroes have to start somewhere.

Actually, they film a reality show at the VEC called ER Vets: 24/7 Animal Trauma Centre (narrated by the disembodied voice of singer/songwriter Jan Arden).  It’s a lot like the show ER from a few years ago, but with animals as patients instead of people and so much more thoughtful contemplation of indistinct x-rays. Having watched ER Vets: 24/7 Animal Trauma Centre a few times in that dead TV hour between 7:00PM – 8:00PM, I felt as though the voice should have been there during my episode too, setting up procedures and an embedding motives. Moving the plot along.
Four Options That Were Really Three That Was One Half of Everything 
*OPTION 1: It’s a compressed disc, a common aliment of the long-backed dachshund.  If treated immediately, the dog will return to 90% his old self. Pay for this.

*OPTION 2:  It’s meningitis, another genetic propensity of those wonderful dachshunds.   Treat this right now and the dog may survive, after a fashion.  Pay for this.

*OPTION 3:  It’s *OPTION 1 and *OPTION 2.  Pay for both.

*OPTION 4:  It could be one or the other, and treating one will not preclude the other if the other is in fact what is really happening.  Pay for both.

There was also the ***PERM-OPTION***: put the dog down and end it all.

If he had been untreatable and/or incurable pain then, yes, it would have been a considered Option.

My emptied savings account and newfound willingness to dance for money says that it was otherwise and that we, accordingly, chose otherwise.
Happy Birthday(s)
Stephen and I have our birthdays in April.  How about that?
Operation Option 4 (a.k.a. “Operation Disembodied Voice of Singer/Songwriter Jan Arden”)
A day after Option 4 was executed, Dr. Liz Lemon called to say:

“At this point, we feel it’s best for Louis to come home for his recovery instead of continuing his stay with us. He didn’t sleep at all last night. He just sat there…staring at us with his eyes.”

Later, I found out that Lou had quickly earned a reputation as perhaps one of the most difficult dogs the VEC has had to deal with in recent memory.

Good boy!
The Dog Is Leaking 
“…the fact is that dogs put on IVs can leak urine for days after the IV had been removed.  Possibility the leaking is from a urinary tact infection, which we neglected to warn you might happen after the kind of surgery your dog has had but, hey, we’re telling you now.  Just watch it for a while and we’ll do something if it persists.”
No Laundry
We had no laundry.  For the four-to-five days Lou was leaking, we could not do laundry because the plumbing in our building was backed up.  We were also paranoid of leaving the house in case something happened and we needed to go back to the VEC (a $60 round trip by taxi that required both of us to handle Lou, given his condition), so going out to shop for diapers and pee pads and whatever was not an Option.

Our solution?  Milk the dog.  Try to catch the drips before they hit the carpet or very soon after they hit he carpet.  Um, we used a lot of towels, turning them and hand-washing them in the bathtub in a constant cycle of >>> HOLY OH MY FUCK WHAT ELSE???

(what else?)

Our dog needs a towel boy.

They tell us now it tree roots that were blocking the pipes and oh my god!  Right now! Look how many fucks I give.
1 +1 = 0.5 Medication
The following transpired early Monday morning because getting an answer on Sunday evening is all but possible save for the Lord.  

(Lights up:  CINDY is sitting hunched over at the kitchen table, leaning heavily on her hand as her right arm rests on the surface, her other hand jamming an outdated Sony Ericsson “brick” into her ear.  The voice of DR. LIZ LEMON can be heard crackling intermittently from the phone.  From the window in front of CINDY’s tired form we can see that it’s, let say, overcast?)

CINDY:  “Yes.  I’m sorry I didn’t notice it earlier, but it seems Lou only has half of the little pills he needs for the pain.”

DR. LIZ LEMON: (a tinge of condescension, nearly snide in his voice): “Right. ONE Tramadol HCI (15mg capsule) by mouth every 8 hours for 5 days.  Then give ONE Tramadol HCI (15mg capsule) by mouth every 12 hours for 5 days.  OK?  That’s 25.”

CINDY: (clam, persistent given task at hand):  “O-K.  Yeah.  But he has to take TWO of those a day, so it should be, like, 50.”

DR. LIZ LEMON: (not even slightly mollified):  “Oh. I see.  Well, I’ll write it up and you can just come down here and get it.  I’ll have it waiting at reception.  Don’t worry.  You won’t have to pay.”

CINDY: (who has already paid for the full prescription and realizing that the next three hours will be devoted to crossing the city to pick up the pills and, more importantly, that well-timed witty retorts are not something you can gainfully trade off on in real life):  “Thanks. So.  Much.”
Summer Plans
“Hey!  Aren’t you guys going away in, like, a few weeks?”

“We are no longer going away due to total lack of funds.  Spare change?”

“Huh?  What?  Whyyy?”

“Here is how April came and wen…you know what, man?  Just read the blog.”

“What blog?”

My blog.”

“You have a blog?”


“Is it any good?”
A Jan Arden Voiceover Is Going on Now
After a harrowing few days, full of tears and woe and heart wrenching decisions, Louis Jefferson Phan was finally able to go home. Thanks to the skill and care of Doctor So-and-So and Liz Lemon was there too and because of the well-motivated work of the staff VEC, the future looking bright for the little dog that could.
…In Other Words:
We’re back to being around even now, minus all of the above.




Filed under Dogs, Interruptions

A One Of Those

Collections horrify me, a little, sometimes.  I’m not entirely sure why.  But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s because of what they imply.  Questions of what, (sometimes) how, and why always why are always implied.  The kind that tend to zero in on matters of taste, identity and (especially) pleasure and in its many, many connotations.

(Loneliness is probably in there too).

Thimbles or belt buckles, Fabergé eggs or skin flakes, the answers vary but the questions remain the same.

Why? Why? Why?

I have tendencies that lead me to collect but I try not to collect, despite myself.  I don’t always succeed.  Being broke helps less than you may think, but it helps. Sliver lining.

Sometimes, though, collections are thrust upon you.  They just happen.

I am having a collection thrust upon me happening.

It started with this:

Jealous of the dog.  That's a new one.

This is what a dog’s life looks like. If he’s doing it right.

It – he – is a wirehaired dachshund (as far as I can tell and just to simplify everything already).   Then slowly, almost imperceptibly, came more.  And then they came at intervals: Christmases, birthdays especially.

And more.  So much more.

Not pictured: the one-foot chocolate dachshund that Stephen’s mother gave us one Easter, every birthday card from the last seven years with a dachshund on it (in other words, almost all of them), and the book I got for Christmas about the lady detective agency that had a picture of a dachshund on the back cover.

Perhaps eventually it will become a tradition.  A bon-a-fide ritual coming at me from the outside, needing really only my tacit permission in order to do what it is doing to me.

Am I complaining?  Not exactly.  But the next time I move, I’ll wonder, you know.  I’ll wonder about these all these little dogs and whether I have truly become a One of Those people:

  • A Dog Lady
  • A Dachshund Enthusiast[1]
  • A Doxie Lover
  • The Weiner Dog Girl
  • Der Hund Frau auf der Straße!
  • The Hot Dog Queen[2]

I’ll admit it is shaping up to be a quite handsome collection.  Beyond that, what to say about it, my/The Collection?  Does it give me a sense of pride or any kind of satisfaction?

Actually, I’m kind of flattered, which is probably closest to the truth.


[1] In particular I’d be a dachshund enthusiast, but more generally this would make me a “breed person”.  Not just a dog lady but a one of those people who for whatever reason(s) attach or devote themselves (sometimes entirely) to certain breeds of dogs, nicknames (i.e. “Doxie”, “American Gentlemen”, “Merry Cocker”) and all.  At a dog show I attended one time, there was this contingent of retried people who were all West Highland Terrier enthusiasts whose aim, as far as I could tell, was to psych out the competition with their incessant cheers and catcalls (HA!).  Actually, thanks to them, I’m kind of put-off “Westies” having conflated the two in my head.  The bastards.

[2] My favourite.


Filed under Dogs, Routines

The Olde Sexe Showe

I saw a couple having sex in Gatineau Park the other day, which reminded me of the couple I saw having sex in a ditch by the train tracks when I was a teenager.

They were teenagers too, the boy and girl that was the couple by the tracks.

The couple in Gatineau was not a couple of teenagers, and they were on the beach right behind the wire fence that separated the sand from the pavement.

The Couple by the Tracks was hidden by assorted brush and foliage.  I only saw them, balanced rather precariously on an abandoned tire, because the dog started at them.  They saw me seeing them, and then I looked away.  I can’t speak for the dog.

The Couple on the Beach were nothing short of panoramic; everything in plain sight.  A vista of water, sunlight and sand and something resembling a fleshy oil-rig, drilling away in the right-hand corner of the frame.  I was in a car with some friends, and though it was Kris who saw the beach couple first (“Hey!  What are they doing?), it was Jacqui that slowed the car to BEEP! BEEP! BEEP![1]

Not that there wasn’t all that much to see.

They both looked up when the beeping started, but whether we spoiled their fun or helped them along, I’ll never know.   For that matter, I wonder what happened to the Couple by the Tracks?

Did it work for them?

“Whatever works” (sure), that classic non-answer – defensible and generally non-offensive – kind of dances around everything even as it holds it all in place, which is nice, but as for an answer a little closer to tangible, who really knows?

Even when you come from another side of it – change the site, alter the methodology, maybe add a little ethnography and a bit of participant observation – it’s hard to figure.

At The Everything To Do With Sex Show every-purported-Thing-to-do-with-sex is at the ready; your one stop sex shop X 10 and probably the closest Thing out there for at least a kind of sustained, first-hand inquiry.  Just be careful not to let your eyes cross.

The BIG THINGs the year I went (2009) were glass cocks and wood dildos,[3] half jokes in themselves but all half-kidding aside, they represented some serious hardware.

Splinters?  An issue?

What else to do with a lathe.

It's basically evolution, people.

Glass blowing would have eventually lead to this eventually.

But even they were merely parts of the whole.

There is a place for everything at The Everything To Do With Sex Show and everything, it seems, was firmly in its place.  Vendors with names like Tickle Your Pink Adult Products and The Screaming O, where the places to be for erotic cakes, penis pumps, plugs, sex swings, whips, rings, vibrators, cuffs ‘n collars, various lubes.  There were showerheads and lollipops at The Everything To Do With Sex Show.  There was a bubbling chocolate fountain and something called The Portable Cross.

There was one inflatable, passed-around penis, whose job for the event was not unlike that of a music festival beach ball.[4]

It's nice when couples shop together sometimes.

Downtime means time for causal shopping.

A Big ‘Ol Box ‘O porn.  A few of those.

Batteries, of course.

There were seminars, many special and free run and lead by industry professionals, a fashion show, ass contest, massage stations, body painting, tattoo booths, a “freak show”, d-d-dancing (!), cosplay, the Toronto Sun Newspaper[5] and a Dungeon.  No pictures allowed there, at the Dungeon, but if I had to describe it, I’d say the word play in there is immaculate.

Also immaculate: the ever-present yet cooled enthusiasm of patrons of all different shapes and sizes with tastes to match, averaging each other out under the dim, not-exactly-setting-any-kind-of-mood lighting.

You can get your hair done at The Everything To Do With Sex Show.  You can pluck your eyebrows and have your teeth whitened.

I was told, as I floated from one place to another, that The Everything to Do With Sex Show used to be bigger, grander.  Which may be true, but it seems to me to be a more matter of scope than range.  It seems that even though there was a lot, there was a threshold point at which there maybe should have been some or something more – or more to the point, at least there should, maybe, have been less of the same.

It's kind of, you know, meh.

Different booth. Same story.

$34.95?  Seriously??

Rather, “stories”.

None of it really worked for me and why it works – or does not work – for people not me or like me but still not me and whether for the many or the few is less empirical than actual.

But that’s what you get when you turn the whole Thing into an academic exercise.

[1] There may have been a group thumb’s up.  I cannot confirm.

[2] Mahogany, I learned, is the best wood.  FYI.

[3] But you know, a dick.

[4] It seems that there’s no Toronto Sun without its semi-iconic “Sunshine Girl” pinup feature.  You used to be able to find her on early on page 3 or 5, but now she lives exclusively at the back of the sports section.  The chance of you possibly knowing her from somewhere (High school?  Your dad’s business partner Carl’s step-daughter, maybe?), is the one Thing that is perhaps better than actually knowing her.

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