I Dig Your Dog Blog

My nice friend over at Exiled from Contentment has honored me with an award! An award, I tell you! Hooray! Many thanks, E.F. Contentment, for the "I Dig Your Blog" Award! Phoebe extends her gratitude and best wishes, as well. Also, she requests an in-depth review of the 1993 dogudrama, Beethoven.

The conditions of my shiny new award stipulate that I must share three facts about myself and then pass the torch of honor (let's go ahead and call it an honor torch) to five other people. Since this blog is as much Phoebe's as it is mine, it's only fair that I share three things about the both of us. So, here are our three things, followed by the passing of the honor torch.

Three Lauren Things:

1.) I don't like soup. I feel a soup is more a chunky beverage than it is a meal, and frankly, I don't appreciate it. "Hi, I'm soup. I'm totally a food." No, soup, you're not. You're nothing but a warm, savory beverage filled with floating chunks of soggy vegetable medley. I can't drink you because your chunks would choke me. I can't eat you because your liquid gets in the way of your chunks. I believe your mind games are a symptom of a bigger problem, soup; one rooted in your inability to get close to people and be yourself.

2.) I love history. I think it's so neat that right now, I am sitting on the exact spot that someone once sat like eighty years ago. I mean, not on this couch, but in this apartment. Sometimes, I google old photographs of places that still exist, today, and I drive to those places and take pictures and put the old picture and the new picture side by side. Sometimes I think I believe in reincarnation and wonder if I was alive in another time.

3.) Johnny Cash is my hero.

Three Phoebe Things:

1.) An Aquarius, Phoebe was born on February 15th, 2007 to Maddie and Dura Max Diesel.

2.) Her ideal man: Barry, the great and noble St. Bernard dog of the North. Also, Hugh Jackman.

3.) She likes to hold hands.

And now, what we've all been waiting for... I get to say honor torch again! And present awards to the following blogs! Hells yes, boi! (Sorry.)

Hidden Los Angeles
Ghosts and shadows and stories.

Confessions of a CF Husband
A miracle family.

Very Short Novels
Less is more.

Shutter Sisters
Camera toting women, unite!

One Girl, One Novel
Wanda Shapiro: Author/indie publisher extraordinaire.

Fist bumps and secret handshakes to all!

Dear Phoebe

Ed. Note: I host a chat room on Starbright World, an online community for children with chronic medical problems. Each month, I hold a special workshop for kids who like to write. We share poems, essays, songs and stories, often intimate glimpses into the lives and times of some of the strongest people I know. At the end of each chat, I assign the kids a topic and a writing exercise to complete before our next meeting. Recently, I asked them to write a letter to their hero. This is Rebecca's letter.

A letter to one of my heroes ☺

The word "hero" is defined as, "a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal." So when asked most people would probably say their hero is someone close to them in their life or even a superhero or celebrity that may seem like they are indestructible. But when I think about a hero I think about someone who is the opposite, someone that has seen or experienced things others have not. When I think about who my hero might be it’s a tough call, I could say my hero is a family member, a friend or even a movie star. But in all honesty I think I would have to say one of my many heroes has to be Phoebe the service dog. Here is a letter I wrote to Phoebe.

Dear Phoebe,

I know you probably don’t get many letters since you are a dog, but I thought I would write you one even though you won’t be able to write back. When I looked at the definition of a hero online I was thinking of all the people who I could write a letter to but you came to mind because you are a true hero. You are not just an ordinary dog or even just a really good dog, you are a service dog and you are trained to help people. Although you help Lauren mostly, you are able to help people that you come across while you do something as simple as help Lauren walk to the store. You can spread joy, hope and happiness to everyone you meet even if it might seem like they don’t need it. More importantly you help Lauren walk after not being able to for many years. I am not sure that I have ever seen a human so dedicated to helping someone as much as you are to helping Lauren, so that is a truly special quality. In my eyes as well as many others you are the definition of hero. You work hard in order to help others, perform selfless acts everyday and spread joy to everyone you meet. I know most people just look at service dogs as regular dogs that are trained to do above and beyond but I look at you as a true hero and an equal. You may be a dog but you are one heck of a boss! I would like to thank you for all of your heroic work and dedication.


Old familiar places

"Don’t take any wooden nickels, young lady,” my grandfather reminds me as I hug him goodbye. I remember the smell of Waffle Crisp cereal in the kitchen and spending nights with my sister in a room that’s now used as an office. They store my grandfather’s oxygen tanks where I used to stand and spy on the grownups through a shuttered door after bedtime. There was a bed next to the window overlooking the lake and a doll collection that reminded me of Chucky and scared me to death.

My grandmother paints. I’ve always admired her artistic talent, (I can’t draw or paint to save my life) and once I asked her why she chooses to use watercolor over oil. She told me that watercolor changes. It starts off looking one way and it transforms into something else. You never know how it will turn out, the colors, the shapes, and that it’s a lovely surprise.

This trip feels important, special, like a good part of the story you don't want left out. We're here because my grandparents were married sixty years ago, today, and because their life together was a starting point for all of us. She was a schoolteacher; he was a high school band director. They raised four children, and later, they became Nana and Baboo.

I’ve always felt a special bond with my extended family. Though we don’t see one another very often and our lives have taken us in a million different directions, I’ve always liked them and I enjoy picking up where we left off. When we were kids, us cousins played together and ate yellow popsicles that melted faster than anyone could eat them. We pointed and laughed when our dads almost blew themselves up trying to light a cluster of fireworks in the front yard of our rental in Hot Springs. One year, we had a babysitter that wrote skits and commercials for us to perform in front of our parents. I adored my younger cousins and I thought my big cousins were the coolest people in the world. I remember vividly the time I read my much older cousin’s copy of The Death of Superman. I was traumatized, and I remember thinking, “If SUPERMAN can die, the rest of us don’t have a chance….”

When my illness was at its worst, one of the last trips we took as a family was to my grandparent’s house in Arkansas for Thanksgiving. Everyone was there, even my beautiful great-grandmother Ruth. Things were on a downward spiral and I was mostly bedridden, by then, but I was glad to be there. At the time, I wasn’t sure what the future held and being close to loved ones felt important. When I was sick, I always wanted everyone to sing to me, in the hospital, at home, in the car, everywhere. It comforted me and served as a gentle reminder that I was still here.

I wasn’t able to join my family in the dining room for Thanksgiving dinner, that year, but they all piled into my room afterwards and we sang and talked and told stories. Looking back, I think that though the experience of losing control over my body was terrible, it was also the greatest blessing of my life. It shined a light on what really matters so that I’ll never forget, forever etched into my mind like names on tree bark.

Standing in the kitchen with my aunts and my sister and cousins, eating watermelon and shooting the breeze, I feel lucky; lucky to be here; lucky to be a part of things and to have memories, both good and bad, that remind me to be grateful; lucky to have people who sang to me.

Today, I believe that God and love and energy are all around us. I believe we are angels to each other. I believe that we are made up of stardust and cells and atoms and science and magic and we will always be a part of everything. I believe in brains and chemicals and flesh and shadows. I believe in souls. I believe our role in the universe is ever changing, that what we are today is different from what we were yesterday and what we will be tomorrow. I believe that to live is to love and to wonder and to go away forever but never really leave. I believe that we are a fierce and delicate balance. I believe this is our time and we are lucky to have a turn.