Angela Bocage

“The Other End of the Leash,” indeed!

Almost all my grand plans for the weekend went swirling down the drain very very quickly when on Friday morning, getting up earlier than I did at great personal sacrifice, my partner, whom I’ll call HB because that’s what the cute ex-quarterback with whom she played flag football calls her—got “clipped” by Aretha Exene the lab puppy.

Looking at a paperback containing all the football minutiae in the universe, she says, in a pained but kind way, “It’s also called crack-backing.” I think I typed that right; she groaned, “And I swear she did this little ‘sack dance’ around me when I hit the bricks of the patio.”

To me, ‘sack dance’ sounded rather kinky at first, but I think she probably meant when the other players “sack,” or knock down/jump on/bury-in-a-pile-of-themselves the quarterback. Even though she was, as I mentioned, the halfback. Football is sooo confusing.

But the girls who have played it. Oh dear God. Girls like that…the way they walk and dress and smile and the confidence they have. I feel funny inside…

ANYWAY…this post was supposed to be about dogs, after all—you know the research showing how having animal companions can improve humans’ health, on multiple levels? Everyone should know a lot about that by now. It’s been published so widely, one would think those wacky animal lovers have infiltrated, and control, the insidious secular humanist liberal media!!! (Why, I heard Rachel Maddow mention her girl partner the other day on television! And she sure gets flirted with a lot by that cute redhaired correspondent she frequently features!)

Well, there’s a backlash at work! This ridiculously sensationalistic article appeared all but blaming dogs for sending our elderly into tailspins of painful decline because people trip and fall over them. So odd—the actual findings of the study suggest that falls are rare, and confirm that no human in the study has died as a result. (One unfortunate feline did.) So, even with dog and cat companion populations as high as they are, only one percent of all falls could even be termed “animal-related.”  Not “animal-caused,” as no distinction was made between falls occasioned by human negligence and those more likely caused, like HB’s lateral collateral knee injury, by exuberant canine fun-seeking.

“Lateral collateral knee injury…intense sacral pain…multiple abrasions and contusions…probably torn ligaments…sprained abductor…” my poor spouse enumerates each of these excruciating results of exuberant canine fun-seeking. “Wish I’d read that article earlier…”


An independent little dog is scaring me

Berekiah, my heart’s companion, a glorious example of everything delightful about the noble Japanese Chin breed, turned nine in February. Last night I came home and rather than racing up, spinning around my feet to announce his news of the day, waving his plumy tail, he sat in one place, shivering, had trouble standing, wouldn’t eat. On the advice of our excellent nearby vet ER I brought him in. Though we knew he has cardiac issues, it seemed to be the back injury of last autumn that had made him miserable. He got good drugs, and an edict of quiet rest for two weeks. Unfortunately or fortunately, the good drugs are making the rest difficult to enforce. “Tsk, Eema, I’m fine already, let me go exploring.” I am guessing this is his message, as the little cuss just snuck down the stairs, maximally verboten, and is smiling up at me. Obviously not asleep!

I was so worried last night he wouldn’t even be coming home with us. My partner is such a rock, she communicated to the vets when I couldn’t, was so kind and patient and willing to do whatever Berry needed, even after a hard day/week at work. I am blessed to an amazing degree. I told Berry, please don’t leave me just yet, I have so much more to learn from you.

Scary stuff…people.

I have been on Facebook for several days. It reminds me of a wonderful gossip like Perez Hilton or the Go Fug Yourself girls, except it’s about people I know and like. So I’ve been fairly fascinated. Okay, obsessive. But it is also terrifying in a way. People I knew in San Francisco, and before that, Santa Cruz–undergraduate, for fuck’s sake–I can actually communicate with. Like time travel. Even though I have ALWAYS been absolute CRAP with people–awful at returning letters/calls/emails, awful at all those little ways of keeping in touch that my partner is so brilliant about. Not to mention saying things other people think is odd. I later thought it was probably because most of the people I knew day-to-day at UCSC were Southern California people and I was a Northern California person. But really I was just very weird. And even now I am capable of getting extremely shy and clumsy around people. I think I’ve gotten better in recent years…but still don’t always remain centered in groups of more than three max. My partner has been a great help; I just realized it today when a coworker took a picture of me and kind of channeling my sweetheart, I laughed and said, “Wait! You shoulda taken one where I’m picking my nose!” I told her about it later and she said, “Or you could’ve said, ‘Wait! You shoulda given me time to write ‘fuck you!’ on my forehead'”! See? THAT’S what I call real ‘people skills.’

Identity, illusion, death

I was very honored recently to be invited by a brilliant and cool new friend to write something for a project of hers on the subject, “Identity.” What a big old steaming hot mess that one is for me, right?! The cartoon caption, were it atop a visual panel of my most enthusiastically gross-&-disgusting pen and ink work, would be something like, “Angela’s brain crawls through the wreckage…” I have been changing my so-called identity since I was five years old, choosing and discarding names and traits like old boots, and have never been sorry. When the T. Heads sang, “I’ve changed my hairstyle—so many times now—I don’t know WHUT I LOOK LIKE,” the line applied to me, only add hair color and clothing style as well. I’m not exaggerating when I say age five; it may have been even earlier. I remember deciding to adopt as my own a phobia of having my picture taken at five, changing my name at five or six, and chopping off the long hair my mother had never ever cut at eight. By eleven hair color changed all the time and by fourteen I had had maybe five different sequential names. (A number rather larger now.)

Identity and I have, clearly, waged an old war. When I read Carlos Castaneda’s dubious and delightful Yaqui stories in junior high and high school, devouring them all repeatedly and dropping whole previous sets of friends to be besties with the publications geeks into Carlos—yep, sorry, I do that too, but at least nowadays I’m trying not to be quite so much of an asshole—his stuff about erasing identity again and again, like the dirt and sweat of each day, made so much sense to me. I feared my ego, wanted to lance it like a boil as often as possible, to which end I never save my published clips and don’t have most of my comics, whether originals or published versions. What’s the point—another thing in Castaneda’s mini-library of chaos magic that made sense to me even then was the imminence of death. It was true when I was thirteen and driving on Southern California freeways with my Alzheimer’s-addled grandfather and true earlier today when a migraine made me nauseated and I wondered whether this time it would be the genetically and environmentally vulnerable much-abused ticker.

Death is always imminent even if Death is extremely quiet and unobtrusive about it, too, of course; turns out that many apparent crazies show up in ERs all agitated and hallucinating  when actually they’re mentally normal individuals having their self-concept, cognitive abilities, and the whole bundle of qualities labeled “sanity” undermined colorfully by nothing more than one or more previously undetected tumors. And people get hit by cars or otherwise felled without warning all the time, as my grandfather (while I was living with him, age six) and my mother (while I was living with her, age eleven) exemplified. My, was I the auspicious child with whom to reside, or what?! With ego that poisonous, and death that near, it seemed like a splendid idea to stock up on identities: an old Jewish custom was to change one’s name to Chaim or Chaya when critically ill so Death might skip your checkmark on Its list.

Then, behind the personal, there’s the political. Or under, or encompassing, or whatever your concept may be of that contested relation. Anyway, politics and identity are of course a whole nother can o’ worms. I know the lefties, red diaper babies, and other kind and hopeful souls may be thinking that identity is a politically necessary concept.  I don’t, because it isn’t any particular identity—or even a human identity—which entitles beings to justice and peace! As long as injustice and suffering exist, it doesn’t matter upon whom they splat!  If identity is a useful tool, in some places, times and situations, to alleviate injustice and suffering, by all means use it. If identity is a fantasy, so are the little imaginary lines on maps, which have been known to cause difficulties from time to time…

I use the word “fantasy” or “artifact” because a shift in context, or in time, can change everything: in a painting or fabric or mosaic, the same color looks one way next to green, another next to gray, then changes a lot next to orange! If identity is no more or less real than that color painting or that fabric—it’s an artifact of situation, time, place, and as cynical law students are wont to say about legal rulings, “what the judge ate for breakfast.”

Tsk. I was meaning to write about how funny the book I was reading is, it’s Tanya Huff’s Smoke and Ashes and it’s super fun, but maybe tomorrow…

White Snow Black Dog Black and White Dog…

I just wanted to add that one of the most wonderful things about the trip to Washington DC last weekend, although SO MUCH was, was that I had my best  little male friend with me, Berekiah the Japanese Chin. His manners, as always were gentle and elegant. At one point, a small boy was walking towards him and then became shy. Berry stopped and smiled, and waved his tail—not wagged, not too fast, just a gentle greeting. The poor kids relatives dragged him off, through no fault of the pup’s. The way he is with little children is one of the sweetest things about him, which I noticed especially when we used to live in a very poor neighborhood where the kids tended to be scared of dogs! He’d even lie down on the sidewalk, smile, and be as nonthreatening as possible to invite them to touch his silky fur. He just turned NINE last month and I find that I want to spend every moment I can with him. He is so beautiful, with the liveliest most sensitive and expressive face. I even miss him when I’m @ work. 😦

Then there’s the Big Black Dog, Aretha Exene aka the Hellhound, A.E. or Ree. (And no, she doesn’t think her name is “GODDAMNITARETHADROPTHAT!”) She’s still a crazy puppy—her other mom tends to describe her as the canine equivalent of  “a six-foot-tall toddler that lifts weights and bites.”  I have a sprained arm, a probably-broken finger, and my sweetheart and I are ALWAYS bruised and scratched, but we can’t be angry at a puppy for being a puppy, especially, says Coach, “when the puppy is such a glossy-coated, limpid-eyed gargantuan-pawed, eager-to-please lolloping young’un!” 🙂 Also, Aretha Exene’s a lot better since she learned a lot in Taming the Teen (Puppy) class at our AMAZING local dog center, the Pet Campus. We learned even more. And the people there seemed so cool, and their attitudes so respectful and understanding towards the dawgs that when we knew we were going to DC for Coach’s birthday, we arranged for her to do her “first big girl sleepover” there at their boarding facility. They were super good to her, obviously, because she was all shiny and happy when we picked her up, and her report card (!!!!!) said she ate really well…and much to our joy and SHOCK, she also was “fun to play with” and…and...invited back! LOL!

In Washington, DC, living decades in about a square block

We returned this evening from a weekend trip for my beloved’s birthday. We went to dinner last night with two women who were her players when she coached college softball between undergrad and law school, while working as the college’s PR director, then brunch with two of her co-workers from that college, a small private Mid-Atlantic institution I have visited several times with her and each time been reminded of Norman Rockwell. It seems to have been such a wonderful time in my partner’s life and I love her stories of coaching—they’re like my favorite attorneys’ —Marc Steier, Ron Kuby and Michael Lumer, that would be you!—war stories, she was clearly so into it and so good at it and so careful of her “little hooligans,” as she usually refers to the student athletes in her charge. The coworkers, the former alumni director and a former science professor, were so gracious and lively and delightful and obviously adored their kids (a quality my family values highly—highest compliment my mother, grandmother, aunt could pay a woman was “She really enjoys her children!”) and were incredibly patient when I lauded my own spawn! 🙂 And silliest of all, the husband and I totally geek-bonded over comic books and weird geek attitudes, it was soooo hilarious we even fist-bumped! All the women I’ve met from that sports team are accomplished, eloquent, hilarious, kind, decent, smarter than the average border collie, forget bear, and kinda weirdly radiant, and since they also seem to get how unique and wonderful my girl is, of course they have excellent judgment. 😉  My partner spins my head more the longer I know her…she is so kind and funny and so verbally adroit and cognitively turbocharged she spins my heart, as well, it must I suppose be admitted. ❤ And then there are her huge blue eyes…her broad shoulders…her statuesque height…her arms that are so strong and make me feel so safe. Happy birthday, my darlin’, I don’t know why you would choose me but I want to be the person you want, it’s one of the highest honors to which I could aspire. I love you so so much. Even if you’re just about the first jock I ever knew. Maybe that was why I never had a girlfriend when I was a mopey punky countercultural artist-type?!  Wait,  ha ha, I’m STILL a mopey punky countercultural artsy type, but now I’m one that has a girlfriend! Wheeeeeeee!!!

A new theme song for 2009! And happy Darwin Day!

My beloved friend blogging at More Madonna, Less Jesus has changed her format and has a lot of fantastic pictures of…of a nice WARM climate…with beaches…and, and clear sky…and people not all #$@! bundled up in down coats! Sigh. Weep. Anyway, she also shares a fine moment from…”her favorite local band.” The link is pretty much like so:

It’s great not to be afraid. Boy do I know it. Now I do, yes, I know what it’s like NOT to live in fear every day.  I am so thankful for that: to the spirits, and also my beloved partner. ❤ Once nobody can threaten you with pain or death—or, as cited by that wonderful band, Prove It, from More Madonna’s blog, crocodiles—how free is that? Of course I have sooo long a way to go, because even more than death and pain, I fear the graceful arachnid…I’m trying to either think of them as tiny oddly shaped scorpions  or sort of remember the old Superboy comics where Lana Lang became the Insect Queen (thanks, I believe, to a ray gun built by an old-familial-wizard figure, either her uncle or her dad?). She could become a human-size version of whatever insect a given danger required for its neutralization! I feel affectionate kinship with scorpions, bats, rats, snakes, and can’t fathom how people are afraid of them—which I realize is RIDICULOUS! LOLZ!!! But Lana learned that since she could also become crustaceans and spiders, at some point she realized she was The Arthropod Queen or something…it was all pretty goofy! Comics are great for helping overcome fear. As a tiny leetle Southern girl in second and third grades in P.S. 59 in Manhattan, afraid to talk because if I did I had teachers and students alike thinking I was kinda special cause my accent was pure,  I was sooo often absolutely bewildered…until my mom started taking me to Bill and Rose’s newsstand on 2nd Avenue and I started hiding Thor and Batman and Daredevil and Spidey and the Legion of Superheroes in my nasty horrible math books! I can still remember how wildly delightedly I would smile thinking of my comic books when I was that age. 😀  😀  😀

Tasty vegan cookies, yummy book, & who is most suicide-prone?

I was surprised to learn that Oreos, at least in the US, are vegan. But Newman-O’s are even more delicious, with a creamy and succulent chocolate filling, and give much much moolah to charity. Late July vegan cookies have organic ingredients and green tea and also taste quite nice. It has not proven difficult at all to adhere to my vegan choice, since I can look up any ingredient in a trice on Google on my Blackberry. Pom Wonderful, Quaker Oats, and Naked Juice also answered my questions about their ingredients readily, either via email or on the phone. Seems the thing to watch out for is that when they list “natural flavors,” that could mean something animal-derived.

For some reason, well, PMS, I found myself looking at all the women in the list of suicides on Wikipedia. I know, it’s hardly a representative sampling, but if it were, one of the most psychically hazardous professions ever would be South Korean actress. Also the girlfriend or wife of a male artist/writer/musician. Men outnumbered women at least four to one–again, like South Korean Actress Syndrome, this is skewed because it only lists self-slaughterers the Wikipeople consider notable–but I discovered a terrific photographer, Francesca Woodman, whom I am rather annoyed not to have learned of earlier. The work is so haunting, evocative, yet just as much disciplined and rigorous, I could see why so many people are moved by this art despite Woodman’s few productive years.

Spook Country, the latest novel by William Gibson, is just an absolute delight, like a sweet Diebenkorn painting, with all the elements everyone loves, plus generous buckets of imaginative abandon, technological inventiveness, humor, understanding, forgiveness, family at its best and worst, and a graceful postmortem of cult fame. If I were a betting woman, I’d wager you’ll enjoy it and want to pass it along

We are sick but the world is still beautiful

My partner’s sinuses flare up and cause us to get dizzy and yucky and migrainey and can’t-breathe-ish. I’m drinking green tea and we’re taking various medicine but still floaty feverish hurting. Yesterday evening I was coiled in pain in fetal position and felt like I was about to die, or as my beloved has described hangovers, “afraid I would live.” But much beautiful is happening: my son the poet got a standing ovation at San Francisco’s MLK day ceremony (check it out at,  my partner still loves me, people all over the country are so happy about the history President Obama has made, and I’ve seen four new kinds of snow in the past week—the big feathery flakes one hears about,  the huge clusters of smaller flakes, invisible snow (but one can hear it hitting one’s down coat), and snow that comes down so slowly each little unit of it seems to float. This is my eighth day of eating/drinking only vegan which I am extremely happy about–and I haven’t smoked in over 24 hours, because I had relapsed on smoking previously…so I hope to go to sleep soon and come back to life at least somewhat better suited for it.

“Owww my ass!!!”—or, thankful and hopeful…

Aretha Exene, our li’l Labrador puppy wolf-daughter, came home September 7, 2008. She was three months old. Now she’s seven months old, sixty plus pounds, and STRONG. My younger sister the veterinarian (yes, of course I’m inordinately proud! Empathy for animals has run in the family five generations or more) said my life would never be the same. So “it is no coincidence” that I have not blogged since before then…she most certainly has changed our lives. I’m only writing now because I got her reeeeeeally tired running, playing, tugging, doing her tricks, getting lots of love and lots of water and the proper amount of healthy food and she’s now snoring away in her crate! One major way our lives have changed is that we’re lots more exhausted! But learning so much! We’ve got an awesome teacher in our first puppy class at a local APDT-style training center, and Aretha Exene’s learning vast amounts, too. She’s very very smart, almost as funny as my brilliant spouse in her own crazy way, and with apologies to the Army, Puppy Strong! We, too, are quite a lot stronger from playing tug with her, throwing all kinds of different toys and sticks for her, walking her on leash–I kick balls for her but kicking her basketball for her hurt my wife’s foot, and in the immortal words of Cartman, “OWW MY ASS!” –I got all turned around, tripped over the leash and fell so hard on the frozen ground a few days ago not only does my behind hurt, it hurts to walk up stairs. But I’ll get better and life is full of firsts–the first time she saw snow, the first shoe she destroyed, the first time she gets each new corny dog trick, the first time she got a bath, the first  class of teenage puppy kindergarten…she is such a little hooligan & gives us hugs and kisses and she loves us and we love her! I fear that if we visited anyone with small children at this point she’d scatter them like ninepins though. We’re 5’9″ and 5’10” and she has certainly flattened, upended, decked, and generally knocked us about.  But we are (all) learning.  I had way more to learn than I thought about relating to canines–sure I have a jaimongous theoretical education about canine behavior and learning etc., but moment-to-moment is so different and magic with such a wildly energetic and clever and did I mention VERY STRONG?! pup…a lot of other wonderful stuff I want to write about but right now she’s back and my partner’s getting swarmed over by dogs…can it really be only two dogs?! 🙂

%d bloggers like this: