Friday, July 31, 2015

Life, Work, Etc...

At some point the following day I had been contacted by workmates who suggested we meet up at 6:30 to go to Harlow together. I was all for it, setting my alarm for five. For some reason, the gym attached to the hotel didn’t open until 6 (in what world is that acceptable?) so I did an in-room intensive HIIT set that included burpees, squats, crunches and push-ups and felt mostly worked out by the end of it. The room came with breakfast, but that didn’t start until 7, so I instead, I went down to the lobby to meet the co-workers at 6:30. We grabbed Starbucks, and hit a cab to go to King’s Cross Station.

The trip to Harlow was a quite one through  the country and the day was mostly spent doing what I do in a build that was out in the middle of nowhere, but much like my own office building in New York. The views from the location were drab, really, almost like being in the middle of Indiana. Work went quickly and 5 p.m. arrived long before expected, at which time I said goodbye to my colleagues who needed to be at the office later, and headed out for the train on my own with assurances that I could figure it out. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Finding My Way About

At this point the square was awake and moving with liveliness. The afternoon was quick approaching and I was fairly sure that soon I’d be able to check-in at my hotel and that would be good. I wondered down the way a bit more, aiming for the river, where I could see in the distance a great turning Ferris Wheel and a bridge. I wasn’t sure where I was but I was enjoy the walk, the architecture, the feeling of being in a city that felt as old as time itself, and yet, I knew it wasn’t quite that old. Traveling, though, I had missed it.

I was on one of the Jubilee Bridges, and from there I was able to look out over London and see Big Ben glittering in the afternoon. The waters of the river were pretty, and overall, I was feeling fairly good about my adventure so far. But tired, very tired.

On the way back to my hotel I passed several police boxes that theoretically offered wifi and found a theater that was doing a special showing of 1984. Had I had more time I would most certainly have tried to take that in, but as it was I was going to be pretty booked up for the rest of my stay.

I wandered about and finally, wandered up the hill to whatever was going to pass for home for the next few days. It turns out I had used my time well, and it was now after three in the afternoon and I could, indeed, get into my room. I grabbed my bags, went up, undressed and promptly slept for about two hours, which was much needed.

I woke around 7 and decided I should venture out for dinner, as I didn’t want to be in London and not see anything. Since the morning had taken me down the street, I decided to go up the street for the evening. What I discovered in that direction was London’s version of China town, where I decided that must be some kind of sign that I needed to eat Chinese food. I found a place that looked good enough, ordered some food and read a book while thinking. Afterwards I managed to get the few knickknacks I wanted to buy for gifts and was promptly in bed, and fairly exhausted by 10 p.m.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The National Gallery

It was really very pretty.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My kinda trouble...

I probably need to update my idea of what trouble is, because when I walked down the street from the hotel what I wanted most was food. There was this thing called a Garfunkel's restaurant, which seemed like a quaint name for a pub, so that is where I stopped to get food. Turns out it's a quaint name for, what I can tell, is the British version of Denny's minus a grand slam. Eh, food is food.

While getting food I took some time to check my email, more free wifi!, and have a lot more coffee than is healthy for a human being after politely explaining to the waitress that I was there because the sign said free coffee. The food was passible enough and the free wifi gave me a chance to see what might be nearby. My phone insisted on telling me that I was near museums and that I like museums. Assuming my Google-overlords know me as well as I think they do, I figured I'd give this nearby museum a shot. And of course, the overlords know me well.

It turns our that I was quite literally around the corner from the National Gallery and the National Portrait gallery. I am vaguely aware of the National Museum, but that seemed like a fine place to while away the few hours while I was waiting to get into my room.

And boy, was it.

Honestly, the building itself was lush, and the entire plaza was a bit of a site, that site being Trafalgar Square. People were everywhere, draped over any exposed place that could be used as a seat. There was a row of buskers performing levitation illusions in various types of customs. There were magicians, and at one point there was DJ Grandpa, outlining a dance floor and broadcasting music to the tourist crowd. It dawned at me at this point that I had no British currency and only a credit card, but I figured it would be worth trying to see if I could get into the museum anyway.

In the front lobby was a large box for donations. Otherwise it was open to the public. The donations appeared to be in all currencies, so I dropped in 20 bucks USD and went on in.

My immediate feeling was to feel absolutely, completely, and immediately in love with this museum. The layout is much like a maze in that I was often doubling back on myself to see various works I had seen before. And what works. What art. The was one of the most beautifully curated collections of old and new pieces I have ever seen. The work going back long before the Italian renaissance, centuries before. Old art, beautiful art, art by so many varied authors, with so many names I recognized that to say that I was overwhelmed would be the politest of understatements. This wasn't just a museum, this was a museum. I thought of the Art Institute of Chicago and started to feel like I was cheating on the museum after my own heart.

I tried to explore all the varied twists and turns of the maze that was the first floor, eventually finding what felt like a secret passageway that lead me to a small room in the basement that magically was only open one Sunday a month and Wednesday. It just happened to be that Sunday. I stood in a room with paintings that were literally multiple hundreds of years old and just allowed myself to be absorbed by it. The entire place was beautiful, so many amazing pieces from so many artists that I simple didn't know what to do with myself in the end. Somehow it wasn't until almost the end that I managed to stumble into the impressionist room, and that was where I was forced to stop. The sense of cheating on AIC was too much when confronted with Monet and Manet, and Van Gogh, so that I had to excuse myself back to the paitnings of Saints from the 16th century and eventually back towards the Square.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Lost in London

The train, or is it the tube (I try not to stress about these things) disgorged me essentially where I needed to be, and now it was just up to me to figure out how in the world to get from where I had just landed to where I needed to be.

I had the address for my hotel, and my phone was still picking up the wifi from the underground well enough to let me use my map program. I was fairly confident I was walking in the right direction when I came to a five way intersection.

Because, of course.

A this point it was 11 a.m. on  Sunday morning, I was hungry, and I had no real idea where I was at, expect I knew I was theoretically not that far, my options were to pick a direction and walk in. With a bit of resignation, I did that and went left, as that seemed to be the direction I should head in.

Left was nice. The St. Martin's lane area is very pretty, and quite, and has lots of restaurants, and apparently boarders London's version of Broadway. All very interesting things. So I enjoyed taking in the scenery, the location of different restaurants, noted some bars and pretty buildings and then realized that there was a kiosk on the street with a map.

Map is good. Map is friend.

After about ten minutes of standing in front of the map with my bags, and my phone out, and my utter confusion, I realized I was going the wrong way and should have gone right. So I turned back down the street and headed that way, looking now for the St. Martin's Lane hotel. Fortunately, this was on the map. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to me, the St. Martin's Lane hotel was a sort of fancy Boutique hotel that was specially redesigned to be difficult to find, all while being smack dab right in the middle of London. Thanks to the most excellent camouflage I walked past the damned thing five times before I actually  managed to really locate the hotel and walked in to find smiling Brits with happy accents all very happy to help me.

Except with check-in. Check-in wasn't until 3.


After a few minutes of Q&A we finally agreed I could leave my bag and come back and check in later. This meant I would have some time to get some food, maybe do some sight-seeing, and be back in a room at some point in time in the afternoon to get a shower and feel more human. I decided this was a worthwhile plan and went out into London, free of bags, to see what trouble I could get into.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

And With Life, Flying

Planes I could handle. New adventures. Life goes on. And I had never been to London before so I was excited about it.

What I was not excited was to discover that first, my flight was leaving a LOT early than I thought from LGA. The second discovery being that I had an 8 hour layover in Boston.

No one…no one…wants an 8 hour layover in Boston.

It was awful. I waited. I waited some more. Eventually I broke down and had a bottle of wine, because seriously, this was the worst possible layover in the worst possible airport possible. Getting on a 7 hour flight had never seemed like such a relief. I had not booked this mess, but this was the first time I was learning that it was possible for our travel agency to book incorrect tickets. Lesson learned.

The flight to London was uneventful. I watched some movies, did a bit of cat napping, realized that a flight to London was half as long as a flight to Korea. Wondered about potential future flights to this part of Europe. Was excited about the prospect of traveling again. I do like to go, go.

Unlike Australia, I knew a bit more about London than what I had seen in Harry Potter movies. So I was not disappointed when I did not see people flying around on broomsticks, children’s nurses dancing around under umbrellas singing, or a bunch of green haired punks singing “Anarchy in the UK.” I was disappointed by my first foray into coffee, but I overcame this by the need to figure out where I was going.

I figured the easiest thing to do would be to take the train to get to my hotel which was somewhere in St. Martin’s lane. Coffee in hand, I started following signs, which fortunately there were a good number of and well positioned to lead a person on their way. I had directions I had mostly downloaded so I had a fairly good idea of where I needed to be.

As I walked, I passed a person selling tickets so I walked up to him and told him where I was going, he pointed me further down the tunnel, where I figured out the ticket machine, and eventually managed to find my train. The local, which would be about 45 minutes but which would give me a very nice view of the countryside as we went.

The first thing I noticed on the train was the armrests on each seat. I don’t know what kind of genius happy country England is, but freaking separating the seats on the public trans was by fair and away the single most impressive thing I had ever seen. I was instantly in love with the trains. My bag between my feet, I settled in, sipping coffee and watching the green rolling landscape pass slowly by.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

And life goes on...

We went to a bar.

Tino, Hellion and I.

That really seemed like the only thing to do. At that point I hadn’t eaten all day. It was almost 5 p.m.  My dog was dying.

If every there was a good time to go to a bar, this was it.

Tino was riding on my back in this pack, the way he likes to ride. He was also still to drugged up to really be any the wiser.

The bar was quiet, still early on a Saturday afternoon as it was. There was no waitress. I ordered us some drinks and some food.

We sat.

I tried not to cry.

Hellion made some jokes and took pictures of us.

I spent some more time not crying.

I had a drink.

I held my hand against my puppets head.

I knew that the next few months were going to suck.

“I’m going to London next weekend.”

“I know.”

“I was going to pay you to watch the dog.”

“I know.”

“I already booked you. I’m going to pay you anyway. It’s not your fault this happened.”

“I can still watch the dog.”

“No, I’m going to have the boy come get him. Better he be at home with him, than with you until we have a good idea of what could possible happen here.”


“It will be alright.”

We both sit. Silent and drink our drinks. The dog gets a dozen complements on our trip back home across the city. I spend Saturday night at home with him in my lap, thinking.

Two days later, Tino took off with the boy for Chicago.

Three days after that, I took off for London on my lonesome.

My apartment had never felt quite so lonely as it did for those three days before London.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Give it to me Straight, Doc!

The vet eventually called me back into the back room, and I picked up the comatose dog from Hellion’s arms and walked back for the second round of talks. 

“Well, that took a bit because the x-ray tech and I had different views on the images. Do you understand what that means?”


“It’s like…”

“It means that you are looking at an x-ray scan of his cardiovascular and pulmonary systems and one of you is interpreting the data one way, and one the other. The question is what’s the interpretation you disagree on?”

The vet looks at me. I’m getting REALLY tired of the vet but trying to hold it together. 

“Well, we think there may be fluid on the lungs, but it is unclear. His heart is very large and it is pushing against the bottom of his trachea.”


“Well, this means…have you ever tried to breathe through a straw?”

I take a deep breath.

“Look, I may look a little frazzled, but I’m a well educated woman with a Master’s in education, a lifetime in research, and a little more knowledge of anatomy than you probably deal with on a daily basis. I understand that if his heart has grown in proportion to the rest of his body that it will put intense pressure on his trachea making it difficult if not impossible to breath. Essentially this is heart disease. Normally this can be diagnosed in dogs by massaging the trachea, but though my dog is clearly suffering from heart disease he is asymptomatic. What I need to know now is how much time I’ve got and what the treatment is to keep him comfortable. “

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to…”

“I know, but my dog is dying and I’m a little upset about it. I don’t need to be condescended to on top of that. Just give it to me straight, like you would to another doctor. I promise you I will ask questions if I don’t understand.”

The prognosis was pulmonary edema and congestive heart failures. The prognosis is, with medication, 8 months minimum, possible two years maximum. The vet and I got along much better after he just started talking to me. We ran a body chemical panel next to make sure the dogs internal organs would hold up to the medication and after that there was a prescription, a request to return in a few days for a follow up and I was sent on my merry way. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Love that Breaks Your Heart

The emergency room is in Midtown, and not far from my own doctor, across from a place where I have taken in some lovely dance. We walk in. The young lady asks if she can help me.

“We were referred here by our vet.”


I turn around so she can see the dog chilling out in the backpack.

“Oh my gods, he is so cute.”


The put us in another little room and I coax the dog into my lap where I sit, read a book, and try not to completely lose my shit again, but I’m on the edge. I love this damn dog and I know that losing him is going to be problematic, but I also know that pets die. I keep remind myself that, but I all I want to do is cry and find some way to help my dog live forever.

The vet comes in and I lay the story down on him. He listens, takes it all in and finally recommends an MRI.

“It will let us know what is going on. We’ll be able to see things, though really what he needs is an ECG.”

I order the MRI first so we can get a look at what is going on. They come in and collect my dog, who has had a rough night already. Tino, usually so good for people when being poked and prodded is at about the end of his rope. I sit in the waiting room not knowing what is going on when Hellion comes in.

“Are you okay?”

“Not really.”

“Is he okay?”

“I don’t know yet.”

We sit, we wait. Finally they call me back in to talk to the vet. They have an x-ray.

“I’m sorry that took so long. I had to work things out with the x-ray technician and we had a long discussion.”

“So, what is the verdict?”

“Well, his heart is very large.”


“They are doing an MRI now and I’ll know more soon.”

The vet tech eventually comes back to me with a completely doped up dog.

“He kind of freaked out on the table so we gave him something to calm him down. It also stopped his cough right away.”

The dog was frozen with his tongue stuck half way out. He needed a haircut, and that was our original plan for today, he looked tired but calm, so calm. My heart was breaking for him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Best Laid Plans

I just got the dog insurance. This is all happening before his illness coverage kicks in. I’m going to London in 7 days. And, all of it, all of it, the looming visit to another vet, all of it screams only one thing for me.

My dog is dying.

The vet recommends an emergency room “This is the one I’d go to if it was my dog. I’d really go.”

And so, choice made, I walk the dog home where I call my love desperate and ask him to call me back, and then I promptly begin to completely lose my shit.

I’m tired, I’m crying, I need a shower, my dog is dying.

I try to convey everything on the phone when I get the call back, but it doesn’t really come out. Mostly the decision is calm down, go to the emergency room, get a second opinion. I take a shower, I send Hellion a text, even though he is out getting ready for a play.

H: Is he okay.

S: It’s not great. We are going to the emergency room.

H: Send me the address I’ll meet you there.

S: You don’t have to do that.

H: Are you fucking kidding me. I love your dog. Give me the address. I’ll head there when I finish.

I send the address, part of me feels guilty for telling the demon-child, but the rest of me doesn’t want to go through the day alone.

After the shower I pack up the dog and we head out to the emergency room.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

That Doesn't Sound Good

Sleep was fitful Friday night. I was up every hour to check on the dog. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I had a few suspicions. I tried to calm myself, to sleep, I knew I was going to need sleep. Finally at 6 I gave up, got up, and made coffee. I checked emails and graded assessments and checked the time of the nearby vet. Once I had confirmed that I could do nothing before 9 a.m. I had more coffee and prepared the backpack for the dog. 

This was about all I could do. At 8:45 I was out of the house with the dog, still coughing, still sounding like he was in great pain. I laid the backpack on the floor for him and he crawled in happily, because he loves to travel. We walked to the vet, went in, and talked to the girl at the counter. 

“My dog is sick.”

She asked for information and I informed that I had actually been in on Monday to get his shots and regular check-ups. My thinking was, my hope was, that he had kennel cough, which can be a side effect of the kennel cough vaccine. It wouldn’t be as bad a full blown case, but seemed likely. It’s not impossible. 

She took one look at the dog in the bag. 

“Oh my god, he’s adorable.”

“Yeah, we get that.”

She put us on the waitlist, since we didn’t have an appointment, but let us know about 10 minutes later that she might be able to get us in at 9:45. We waited. Other dogs came in, the men and women fawned over Tino, but suggested caution because I wasn’t sure if he was contagious. 

At 9:45 we entered the office. At this point the dog had mostly stopped coughing. The night had included a lot of coughing and spitting up of fluid, which again, struck me as most likely to be kennel cough. However, now, the dog was quiet and seemed to be happy to just chill in my lap. I was cool with that. I read my book. We relaxed on the uncomfortable vet bench. 

The vet came in, same as Monday. 

“So your back.”

“Yep. I think it’s kennel cough.”

“Let’s have a listen.”

She listens to him for awhile. 

“Ah, there is that big heart murmur. It makes it hard to here anything else.”

“Yes, I know, but this is most likely kennel cough, right?”

I want her to say yes. I want her to say right. I want her to say anything but what I am most worried she is going to say. Because I’m not stupid and I know that there is a good chance this is not kennel cough but something much, much worse. 


It’s going to be much, much worse.

“I really think you should go to an emergency room.”

“It’s not kennel cough?”

“I mean, we could start him on the antibiotics, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t think this is just a cough. I think I might hear crackling in his lungs.”

Fuck, is all I can think. Fuck, fuck, fuck. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Comedy that is Life

Friday night was eventful.

Friday night I had a friend offer me tickets to go to Gotham Comedy club for free. It was a two drink minimum, sure, in NYC, but still, free-ish. I took Hellion since that seemed like the kind of thing he would enjoy and he is my default date.

The comedian featured that night was Michael Molane, who a long time ago in my youth played a reoccurring character on In Living Color. Since that, it seems, he has been doing stand up. I figure good for him, at least he is working. And I know I’ve seen him in a movie here and there as a cameo actor.

We got there a little early and looked for Sassy who was our meal ticket. Sassy was there ahead, waiting in a bar downstairs from the club with a few interesting looking friends. Overall it seemed like it would be a good night.

I will say this. Gotham Comedy club comedians are fucking funny. They know how to work with the audience and how to tease the audience in a way that just skirts offensive, while still being funny. Our table was sitting front row center and there was a threat that we might be called out.

“If he asks what you do tell him you are a professional dominatrix.”

“Really? Like I can pull that off.”

Her friends don’t know me so they say nothing. Hellion smiles amused. We never got the chance, though to make something of a goldmine out of my unprofessed profession.

At midnight I took a cab home.

I came home to a dog in pain.

I could hear him through the door and that was the first thing that started to really upset me. I could hear him through the door and it sounded like someone was kicking him and that was not good. He sounded like someone was squeezing him to hard, like he was being hurt, like he was in pain. There were little streams of pooling saliva around my apartment and I knew it wasn’t good.

The vet, first thing tomorrow. This turned out to be the beginning of almost a 108 hour ordeal, the fact that I was leaving for London on Saturday only really made it worse.