Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tadji R.I.P.

This morning I woke up to find that my oldest dog, Tadji, had died during the night. At first I thought he was just sleeping, from the way he was laying. So I believe (And fervently hope.) that he passed in his sleep, without much pain.

I began writing this by recalling his last few days, but have decided instead to focus on the eleven plus years of his life. I don’t know if it is society in general, the people I have worked with in the last few years or some change in myself, but it seems that it is so much easier to focus on the negative about people and situations rather than the positive. For all the tears that I have shed over his passing, I was not remembering all the smiles we had shared.

I got Tadji as a puppy of eight weeks old. I was working in a very small town in Northern Arizona. I was working at the Sunrise Ski Resort as a representative of Popular Outdoor Outfitters. (Which has since gone out of business.) It was the not the first Christmas that I had spent away from family, as I had been working retail for about seven years at the time. It was, though, the first Christmas that I spent without family or close friends. It was the first alone Christmas that I had spent. I had made a few friends in Springerville, but nobody that I was close enough to that I would spend my holiday with them. I was feeling pretty alone, which is very unlike me. Especially at the time, as I had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances when I was doing retail.

This is a bit of a build up, but I want to convey just how important it was when Tadji came into my life. It was the weekend of Valentine’s Day and I had run to the grocery store when I met a rancher who had three Border Collie puppies in a box outside the store. One already spoken for and I wanted to think a bit before I brought one home, so I got the man’s number and I went on about my day.

I couldn’t get the image of those cute little fur balls out of my mind and, after checking with my landlord, I called the rancher and made arrangements to go by his place that evening. When I got to his place, I got to meet the puppies’ parents and I got to play with the two puppies he had left. I was originally drawn to the other puppy, but Tadji, after looking at me for about a minute while his brother romped around the yard, came right up to me and started tugging on my shoelaces, furry little feet on either side of my foot. It was love at first sight. Or bite. In retrospect, I should have thought about the fact that I had just picked the puppy that was already chewing on my shoes before he had even been properly introduced.

He was so tiny; I could hold most of him in the palm of my hand, his back legs hanging on either side of my wrist. I took him home and let him run around he house a bit while I tried to figure out what his name was. He almost got named Zap, as he had a penchant for tearing around the carpet then coming up and giving me a sniff and a static shock. It wasn’t until after a week or so of being called “The Puppy” that one of my employees used the word “Tadji” which is Apache for “turkey” and it seemed like a perfect fit. I had to guess at the spelling, so any errors there are all mine. He didn’t seem to mind the name, but he never seemed to mind anything other than kids. And that was only because a girl I was seeing at the time had a son who chased him into a corner and kicked him. Needless to say she and I didn’t last long after that.

In fact, Tadji stood by me (Well, lay next to me.) through several girlfriends, five vehicles, as well as several different employers and jobs. We lived in the same apartment complex from when we moved back to Tempe from Springerville. He endured my weird taste in music, even when I would play Art of Noise because he would “sing” to it. He never barked at me no matter how weird I got with my hairstyles of facial hair configuration. He would always be by my side, to the point of being underfoot. He would always be waiting at the door, tail wagging, when I got home. As a matter of fact, he would greet those women who had keys as they came in as well and I had to fight my way to get a greeting of my own.

He was easy to train and could do many tricks, although his favorite was one that I never taught him. Anyone who ever started out scratching his ears and ended up at his butt as he bounced it around and smiled his big doggie smile at you will attest to that.

There are many, many things about the time we spent together that make me smile and I plan to spend my time remembering those, rather than focusing on the times that we won’t have now that he is gone. I hope when I am gone, those who survive me can do the same with memories we have shared, for it is the lives and times we lived together that matter over the pain of the things that never will be. I don’t want any more memories of a life as half unlived. I’d rather see them as only halfway done with.

Thanks to all of you for your support this week. It has been very touching to hear from those besides myself who have happy memories of Tadji.

Random fact: I still have some of his puppy teeth.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tonight on WTF Theater...

I got a call to see if I could come in early today, and, since I like to be able to pay my bills, in I came. Mind you, when the call came in I was sitting at home watching Tyra Banks be sympathetic to the homeless on her show. She even dressed up like a homeless person and went out on the street for a night. Well, her and her camera crew. It was kind of a traffic accident hour of television, I couldn't look away. She seemed touched by the whole experience, but the question I have is,"So what do you do now Ms. Banks?"

Wow, I got sidetracked in my first paragraph. That usually happens later on. I didn't intend to write about the pseudo homeless super model, I came to write about Schwarzenegger!

Normally I bring movies in to work on the evening shifts, tonight I left home and forgot to grab anything. As we channel surfed, we found "Commando" coming up next on one of the Spanish channels. GREAT! I haven't seen this movie in a loooong time, but I always remember it as one of my favorite Arnie movies.

My brain has played tricks on me. This was not the movie I remember loving. The "Commando" of my memory was a gripping action movie with great fight scenes and a menacing bad guy. Granted, this version was cut for TV and was dubbed into Spanish, but it just wasn't what I remember. The "Commando" that I watched tonight was very 80's-tastic. Especially the soundtrack. Hoo boy was it annoying. And the end title theme was powerfully bad! Also, the main villain, Bennett, played by Vernon Wells, who I remember as being quite a badass? Yeah, turns out he's gay. Well, I don't know if the actor was in the closet with Doogie Houser, but the character in the film was flaming! Tight leather pants, mesh sleeveless shirt, fingerless gloves, and a dog chain and teeny padlock around his neck. All he needed to complete the outfit was a feather boa to try to strangle Arnie with. Cause Lord knows bullets weren't working. They must have had every available Hollywood extra touting a rifle and trying to shoot him down. These guys must have gone to the Keystone Cops school of shooting, cause they couldn't hit the ground if they were aiming at it. And the hand to hand combat scenes weren't any better. I can imagine the director giving the stuntmen their directions; "Okay, you five guys stand around holding your automatic rifles and wait for Mr. Schwarzenegger to come over to you and hit you. Don't worry, we won't show your faces on screen, that way you can still face your families with some dignity."

Maybe I have just become spoiled in the 20 years (Ouch, that long?) since this movie came out. There have been such amazing leaps in fight choreography and special effects that there is no way to watch this movie and take it any kind of seriously. Especially when you have eleven Hispanic kids who speak next to no English trying to pronounce "Schwarzenegger." And one of their first questions is "Isn't that the Governor who hates illegals?"

Sometimes I can't believe I get paid to be this entertained.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Emperor's New Costume

Okay, so Hallowe'en was last week, but this just happened yesterday.

Every Thursday my company has a lunch/happy hour kind of deal at the bar across from our office. Low key and only a few of us show up with any kind of regularity. The wait staff know us and treat us well. One of the waitresses was showing us pictures of their Hallowe'en party and I was reminded of the scene in "Mean Girls" where they make a comment about Hallowe'en just being an excuse to dress sexy. Sexy, in this case, meaning "clothing that you would normally not wear outside the bedroom." Or as a friend of mine called it, "Dress Like a Slut Day."

I'll get back to my real point in a minute, but let me digress by saying that I have been a big fan of Hallowe'en since I was a little kid. I loved to dress up and cruise the neighborhood with my friends to see what they had all come up with for costumes. I still love to see what costumes my friends come up with, but I think that is because I have smart, creative friends who also get into the spirit of it all. (The best in years still has to be Zach's "Zombie Jesus" from 2005. The line "He died for your sins, now he's back for your BRAINS!" will never cease to make me chuckle.) So, to recap, I appreciate a good costume. I really appreciate a creative costume.

Back to the story about the pictures;

Many of the people who came to the party at this bar (The Coconut Club) are attractive younger women. As is to be expected since the bar is three blocks from ASU. I have absolutely NO problem looking at pictures of attractive women in sexy outfits. However, I DO have a problem calling a pair of boy shorts, a mask and a couple of pasties a COSTUME. That is not a costume. That is someone stole your clothes. There is more fabric in a pair of tube socks than in her entire ensemble. And this girl won the prize for "Sexiest Costume." That being the case, the prize should have just been called "Closest to naked."

It may sound like no big deal to you, but I maintain my position that a LACK of costume should not be constituted AS a costume. And, while she was indeed yummy to look at, she was really nothing more than a stripper in the wrong bar. Maybe. She could have been earning her drinks, I don't know.

Let's try the no-costume-costume in another scenario;

Random person: How do you like my garden?

Me: What garden? All I see is a patch of dirt.

Random person: That's my garden.

Me: No, it's a lack of anything growing.

Random person: That's cause I pulled the weeds.

Me: Did you plant anything?

Random person: Nope. I just removed what was there and put up sticks around the dirt and tied string around it.

Me: So, nothing is going to grow here?

Random person: Nope. Especially not weeds.

So, to recap, not wearing clothing = not wearing a costume, either. You have whole year to think of something good for next year.