Monthly Archives: October 2012

10 Minutes of Dogma

There is no deep meaning behind this piece. I had to write a 10 minute play for school, and this is what my somewhat warped brain came up with. It made my family laugh, primarily because they maintain I *nail* my dogs ‘voices’.

(The curtain rises on a nearly empty stage. The only things visible are a reddish-brown boxer-bull mastiff, a pork loin, and a black Great Dane.)

Macky: (the boxer, his voice rough and gravelly) I’m the oldest, I should get it.

Bean: (the young Dane) I’m tallest. Besides, you ate the last one!

Macky: (shakes his head) No, I’m pretty sure that was you.

Bean: I was framed!

Macky: How could I frame you? You’re faster, taller and the perfect idio…I mean the perfect, uh, height!

(Bean bares his teeth): I knew there was a reason I couldn’t trust you! You set me up! Do you know what they did to me?? I had to eat half rations for a whole day!

Macky: (sneezing) You’re not starving! Now hand over the loin.

(Macky inches forward, head down.)

(Bean shakes his head. Strings of slobber fly everywhere.) Not a chance! I got this fair and square, off the kitchen table. Find your own food!

Macky: (whining) But my food is crunchy and my teeth are broken. That loin looks soft and squishy.

Bean: Too bad. It’s mine.

Macky: When did you get so mean?

Bean (growls briefly) When I learned you framed me! Why would you do that? I thought we were friends!

Macky: Friends? We’re not friends. You bark at me when I lay on your blanket, or in the hallway, or when I lie down outside! You’re a pest of epic proportions!

(Bean’s ears go back against his head): So…you really don’t like me?

Macky (ears perk): I’d like you better if you’d share that loin…

Bean: I knew it! (pushes the loin back between his paws with his muzzle)

Macky: It’s huge! There’s more than enough for both of us!

Bean (blinking slowly): I think your brain is fried. I’m 145 lbs, Mac. I heard them say so. This loin is barely a treat.

Macky (a single string of drool falling to the floor): Then there’s no reason for you to eat it in the first place. Besides… it’ll probably upset your stomach, anyway.

Bean: What do you mean? My stomach’s fine.

Macky (sneezing again): Then your nose doesn’t work properly, ‘cause those after dinner plates you get to lick make you *stink*.

Bean (getting defensive): And when’s the last time you got a bath??

Macky: They don’t need to bathe me as much ‘cause I don’t have fleas.

Bean: Yeah. Right. The fleas only like me. That’s why you scratch all the time.

Macky: You’re getting off point. Now…what about that loin?

Bean (looking innocent): What about it?

Macky (sighs): Share the pork, B.

Bean: But…it’s mine. I earned it.

Macky: You earned the pork? Are you telling me they wouldn’t be mad if they knew you’d swiped it?

Bean (ears down): Well…

Macky: You know they’ll know it’s you. Dog, you’re the only one here tall enough to snag it.

Bean: Now I know that’s not true. I overheard them once talking and laughing about the time you ate an entire five pounder! All by yourself! And that was before I even arrived!

Macky (shifting from paw to paw): That was a long time ago. I’m older now.

Bean: But not particularly wiser, since you’re willing to try it again.

Macky: If we split it, it’ll be 2.5 lbs apiece. That wouldn’t be nearly as painful as the 5 lbs was.

Bean (licking his muzzle): If I do this, I can’t be the only one taking the blame. You have to take your fair share, too.

Macky: Oh, I’ll take my fair share, all right.

Bean: Of the blame, not just the loin!

Macky (eyeing the pork): Yeah, right. The blame. Of course.

Bean: How’re we gonna split it in half? It’s not like we have hands.

Macky: I could always eat my half first, then give you the other half.

(Bean shakes his head): Nuh-uh. I’m not stupid. You’ll eat it all!

Macky: I wouldn’t do that…

Bean: Oh yes, you would. I’ve seen how you eat; like it’s the end of the world and they’ll never feed you again! You don’t take your time to actually enjoy the flavors. You guzzle.

Macky: It’s not my fault! You’d eat like that too if you’d been raised the way I was! You got lucky. They rescued you as a puppy. I was already full grown. My eating habits were set.

Bean: That’s an excuse. I know your food was stolen when you were a pup, but who’s gonna take it now? Me? I can’t reach your bowl; it’s too low to the ground! Nah, I think you just like eating.

Macky (defensive): So I like food, so what?

Bean: So that might explain why you look like a sausage with legs.

(Macky growls): I do not!

Bean: Well, maybe not exactly like that, but you’re not skinny, either.

Macky: Moron. Do you even remember what breeds I am? I’m naturally muscular.

Bean: Why’re we fighting again?

Macky: Look down.

Bean: Oh yeah. The pork.

Macky: If you don’t eat it, they’ll find it and then you’ll really be in trouble. With nothing to show for it.

Bean: Isn’t that the point? To have nothing to show them?

Macky (shakes his head): I guess you’re not as stupid as I thought.

Bean: Gee, thanks. Does this mean we can be friends?

Macky: I dunno. Does this mean you’ll stop barking at me incessantly?

Bean: You deserve it, you know. You lie on my blankie, you sleep in the middle of the hall and then you take naps right outside the dog door.

Macky: You remember that you’re tall, right? You can step right over me, no problem. You have two blankies. I don’t see why I can’t have one. You’re younger than I am. My bones ache at night. I need the extra comfort.

Bean: I guess…but that doesn’t explain the dog door.

Macky: I like keeping my options open. If I sleep there, then decide I need to go back inside for anything, I don’t have that far to walk.

Bean: But I can’t go outside to pee!

Macky: You’re not a puppy. You can hold it.

Bean: That’s not the point. I shouldn’t have to hold it! That’s why they installed the dog door in the first place! So we could pee whenever we need to!

Macky: Fine. If you share the loin with me, I promise not to sleep directly in front of the dog door. Does that sound fair enough?

Bean (backing away from the loin): That sounds good. Now, how’re we gonna split this in half again?

(The curtain drops on the two dogs, still staring at the 5 lb pork loin in the center of the stage.)

 

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Finding God in Death

This one’s not easy…I had to write a Memoir Essay for school. I’m not sure why I tackled this particular subject, but it was akin to stabbing a vein and writing in blood. I am choosing to publish it here in the hopes that it may help someone, somewhere, deal with loss.

I was raised by a non-practicing Hindu father and a hostile, anti-church, anti-anything religious mother. As a child growing up under such circumstances, finding God wasn’t an easy task. In fact, it was a damn near impossible one, but that didn’t stop me from trying. I went to church with my friends and read the Bible, but without anyone to tell me what I was reading, it felt as though I was slogging through mud while wearing weights on my ankles.

I had my first experience with possibilities when my older sister went into church with a growth on the back of her hand and by the time she came out a few hours later, it was completely gone. So I knew miracles existed. I just wasn’t sure about God Himself, and Jesus wasn’t even a blip on the map.

When my father died many years later, it was pain-filled, traumatic and exhausting. I was barely three months pregnant and overwhelmed by his clinical insanity, my mother’s desperate need for him to survive and worry over a possible miscarriage.

But his release brought me to God.

A scant three months before he died, my father was on a six month sabbatical from his position as a professor at California State University, Northridge.  A very kind man, devoted to learning and to teaching others, he spent his sabbaticals teaching literacy in the villages in India. On this trip, he’d only been there a month before my mother called me to meet his plane in Atlanta, as he was coming home unexpectedly. He had, she said, suffered a stroke and wanted to come home for further testing.

That was the beginning of the end of his life.

What we believed was a stroke was, in reality, two brain tumors. One of them was growing at a frightening rate and already covered roughly half of his brain; the other was located at the base of his skull and, due to its location, was deemed to be inoperable.  The doctors told my father the tumors would kill him inside a month. He told my mother he wanted to go back to India; that he could cure himself of the tumors by meditation and willpower. My mother believed him, so they made all the necessary travel arrangements. Two weeks later found them staying with me for a week to say goodbye. I didn’t realize one of the tumors was pressing down so hard upon his brain pan that it completely changed his personality until after I’d picked them up from the airport and brought them home. It started almost immediately. He decided our couches had bad karma and threw them out onto the front lawn at 4 am, demanded fresh vegetables every single day (which meant additional grocery shopping) and spent money as though it was water.  The tumors he carried had turned off all his internal guidelines. He said, and acted, precisely how he felt. There was no tact in what he said, no sparing of any feelings in his words. It was hell. But there were nuggets of joy amid all that. The God I wasn’t sure existed gave me time with him, before the madness took hold, to say goodbye. I had the blessing of being able to tell him he did every single thing right, and of hearing him tell me he loved me, was proud of who I’d become and that he had no regrets in the type of father he had been. He was at peace with the circumstances of his death when he was lucid. It was only when the madness manifested itself that he couldn’t accept his mortality.

I prayed for a swift death during that week. Every night, I fell to my knees and cried out in prayer, turning to a being I wasn’t sure I believed in. Most people, when given such devastating news, pray for complete healing; a removal of the tumors; something to bring their loved one back to full health. I couldn’t even conceive of such a thing. I simply wanted it to stop. For all our sakes, but most especially for his.

God saw fit to grant our prayers. It took him three months to die, but it was a true blessing it didn’t take longer. There were other, smaller, blessings on the way to his death. He didn’t descend into full blown dementia until after my parents arrived in India. Even a single week later would have forced my mother to cancel the trip, as no airline in the world would have allowed him on board. He was able, inasmuch as he could, to say goodbye to his brother, sister-in-law and other relatives who were staying in a nearby village to support my mother. My mother was able to grant him his last lucid, dying wish: he had all the rituals and ceremonies associated with his Hindu Brahman upbringing performed at his pyre. He was able to die being cradled in the arms of the woman he’d loved deeply for thirty-seven years. I firmly believe God had a hand in every step of that pain-filled journey. My father didn’t believe in a Christian God, and I don’t know if that held any importance for him. But I know it held a tremendous amount of importance for me under those circumstances. Not because he became ‘saved’ in his final moments, but because even at his last breath, there was a blessing waiting.

He smiled and laughed in those final moments. My mother chooses to believe he saw his mother, father and older brother in that blink of an eye. I agree. Death, for him, became a release from a life that had grown unbearably painful and there was joy in that fact.

Because of my loss, I became a believer. God was at work… He worked in my life, to my benefit, to heal me and grant me the deepest wish of my broken heart: A death in the name of love.

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