August 27, 2017

Notes on Jansen II

In the telling of a great love story, the natural impulse is to start at the beginning, or at the end. Yet the long middle is the true heart of a great love story. With Jansen, we don't have an end yet. There is a "nearing the end," and it's a phase that consumes me on a minute by minute basis. And of course I'd like to start at the beginning -- it was magical. Or maybe start at the beginning of this "nearing the end" phase; a period of time consumed by daily heartbreak and terror.

But starting at either endpoint doesn't do his life or our story justice. Because more than anything, the middle was almost always pure joy. It was adventure, and laughter, and so much love.

Those were the lines I wrote when Jansen was ill yet still alive. Now Jansen has been dead for a month. He was six years old and dying but now he is dead. I am supposed to feel grateful that I spent six years with him. And I am. But more than anything I am sad and angry that I only got six years. I wanted more. I want more. So I am caught again in that space where I don't want to write about the end but I come to that spot over and over and over and over and over and over.

August 23, 2017

Notes on Jansen I

Jansen was a crotch sniffer, a trait that Jarrad reminded me of the other day. It’s funny how quickly illness shifts and distorts behavior and perception. Jansen lived with us for six years, and the last two months of his life he had cancer. Two small months of illness loom large in the life of a dog that had over 50 nicknames, hiked for miles, and traveled internationally. How is it that a small tumor could take away so much from Jansen and our lives? It’s hard to understand and it’s painful to process. Which is all to say that in those two months of illness, Jansen never sniffed a crotch and I had forgotten this embarrassing characteristic. Because it’s not just that he would sniff a crotch – he would jump up on a person (and even then, only women), and aggressively bury his snout in between their legs. And sometimes I can’t help but think of the bitter irony (is it irony?) that Jansen got nasal cancer. This was a dog that used his “nose” on such a regular basis. He not only dug into crotches, but he’d push open doors and gates with it; he’d greet people in line at bars and coffee shops with a gentle nudge on the back of the leg with his snout; he’d poke me with it if he wanted – well, anything – and he’d furiously sniff in crevices for any lost and remaining shreds of food or treats. So this is the challenge that I face when trying to write about this love and this life – the loss is wound in up in it so tightly.


I really like seeing you, little lion,                                A little lion cub, morning sunbeam
walking under the sun                                                   drawing my eye like a magnet
I really like you, little lion                                             My heart is the sun, father of all color
To cheer up, little lion,                                                  when he gilds his coat aimlessly
my lonely heart, it’s enough just to run into you
I like to see you in the sun, little lion
to see you go in the sea
Your skin, your light, your mane
I like to be in the sun, little lion
To wet my mane
To be close to you and to go in


December 20, 2015

V. to the B. C.

I grew up along different points of the Mexican-American border until I was 15. It's impossible to ignore the influence the border plays in daily life, or to underplay the significance of Mexican culture in the region. Of course, the whole area used to be Mexico, and I am also Mexican, so this all created a heightened awareness of the uniqueness of those borderlands. All of this to say that after being just two hours from Canada for the past 10 months, I've yet to feel or witness any of those same border feelings or Canadian influence. What's your deal, Canada?

October 26, 2015

A Birthday in the Mountains

Generally speaking, for birthdays and anniversaries we like to go places and do things instead of giving one another gifts. It's always more memorable to take a trip somewhere than to purchase an item to commemorate a special day. I remember that last year I was struggling to come up with an idea for Jarrad's birthday because there just isn't much to do in the Houston area, and we spent a day in Wharton, Texas. Luckily, this year I had a hard time choosing because there were so many options! Ultimately, I went for the cabin in the woods.