Farewell to my sweet Sienna
I was 9 years old, no, maybe 10, when we first welcomed my dog Sienna to our family. She was 1 or 2 years old (we never really knew) when we rescued her from the pound. That was some 14 years ago. I’m 23 now. And Sienna, well, you can do the math for dog years. I still remember that day at the pound vividly, as with the day we finally got to bring her home. And along the way there have been countless memories I’ll always hold close to my heart.
It’s been 14 years of each other’s company. 14 years of pooping and peeing in the house and drinking out of the toilet. 14 years of beef with the neighbor’s cats that would rival only Biggie and Tupac. 14 years of mutual love and affection. 14 years of growing up together. 14 years being the sweetest, kindest, coolest dog you can ask for. 14 years I’ll never forget.
Sienna passed away on Friday. It’s with immense sadness and through many tears that I write this. But I can think of no better way to memorialize the dog I love so much than putting my thoughts and feelings into words and sharing these cherished memories with anybody who wants to read them.
Growing up I had always wanted a dog. But living in an apartment complex that prohibited pets prevented that from being anywhere near possible. Then after I completed the fourth grade, my family moved into a house. This was my chance, I thought. The shameless incessant begging began almost immediately after the move. My early attempts were shot down, with my parents citing reasons such as “dogs are too much responsibility” or “if the dog barks too much, the neighbors complain.” That didn’t discourage me, however. And after months of relentless and carefully-planned pleading and empty promises (“I’ll get up early every morning before school to walk the dog!”), and probably some timely tears along the way (I was an evil child), I finally got my parents to commit to getting me a dog. Or, at least my dad did. My mom wasn’t on board at first (that didn’t last long once we brought Sienna home). But one parent was all I needed.
Not long after, my dad finally took me to the pound to pick out the new member of our family. On our way there, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought we had to pick out a name for the dog. I remember considering names of my favorite Pokemon, which I was balls deep into at the time. Thank God the dogs already had names. I’m really glad I didn’t have to call my dog “Pikachu” in 2013.
The one condition my parents established from the beginning, however, was that the dog had to be quiet. We didn’t want to have a dog that wouldn’t stop yapping and bringing dismay to the neighborhood, a thoughtful consideration our neighbors through the years have brazenly ignored with their own pets.
We considered a few dogs before we finally came across a quiet and shy medium-sized dog timidly hunkered down toward the back of her kennel. As frightened as she appeared, she was also beautiful, with a lush black and brown coat of fur and paws that looked like they were dipped in vanilla ice cream. On the kennel’s gate, the nametag read “Sienna” and had “husky mix,” whatever that meant, listed as the breed (to this day we still don’t know what exact breed she was). We took her for a short walk outside of the building as a sort of “test run.” When she interacted with us we was very affectionate and gentle and exhibited no signs of being an aggressive- or hostile-natured dog. Sienna didn’t have a single mean bone in her body. Upon seeing Sienna outside, one lady who worked there exclaimed, “There’s my baby!” almost to give her stamp of approval to us. By the end of the walk, we knew Sienna was the one we wanted to adopt. I hope all the other dogs at the pound were able to find safe and loving homes like we gave Sienna.
When we finally brought her home, it became clear she was previously the victim of abuse wherever she came from. Her timorous state at the pound was an early indicator of this. She would also cower down and pee or hide somewhere when we would raise our voices while housebreaking her. The top of her right ear had a gimp to it, apparently from being harmed. She would also coil her ears back and slump her face downward when somebody was giving her love. She was just generally afraid of people. But after she saw she now had a loving family and home, she learned to trust us. Eventually that applied to other people as well. She was especially genial around kids who were eager to pet her. But the thought that somebody could ever be so heinously vile to an animal—especially a sweet and innocent one like Sienna—still makes my blood boil to this day.
There were some growing pains along the way, however. OK, a lot of growing pains. Like any pup, Sienna went through a habit of chewing through things she shouldn’t be chewing through. Furniture. Shoes. Electrical wires. Screen doors. Yes, SCREEN DOORS. (And, yes, plural.) There was also a lot of peeing and pooping indoors, even after she was housebroken. The constant shedding of hair was an unrelenting nuisance as well. Other times when she was being pest it was a little more endearing. Like how she wouldn’t eat her dog food unless we mixed in chicken or other leftovers from dinner. Or how she would also stand up on her hind legs and put her front paws up on people when she was nervous or excited. She’d also beg for food when you were sitting down at the dining table by repeatedly poking her face in your lap. Going away to a college eight hours away for four years was a tough time for me, as well. It was the first time I’d have to spend an extended time away from her. Whenever I came back home, Sienna was always the one I most looked forward to seeing. Sorry, parents helping me with tuition.
Sienna’s favorite pastime was going for walks at a nearby middle school, which we referred to as “the Hill” because it’s literally perched on top of one of our town’s highest points. The school’s campus is expansive, complete with vast areas grass for half a dozen or so soccer fields and three baseball diamonds, along with other various walking trails. Some days Sienna would be the only dog there; other days there’d be as many five or six. Taking dogs off the leash didn’t seem to be an issue, either. The school grounds are so immense that even with several dozen brats named Tucker or Cody chaotically chasing a soccer ball while annoyingly overzealous soccer moms cheered them on, it was still safe in some places to let your dog run free. It was like the Disneyland of dog parks. It provided ample area for Sienna to let loose, poop, sniff around, meet other dogs and sometimes get into trouble. She would run and run and run and run until her tongue was practically dragging on the ground. It gave Sienna an abundance of exercise and kept her in great shape. But more importantly, she absolutely loved going there. She loved it so much that, not even three months after we first got her, she went there by herself when she somehow slipped out of our backyard one time. We didn’t even realize she had gotten loose until the school called us. Thankfully she wasn’t run over by a car, and thankfully we had our contact information on her collar. Eventually she would learn to associate the words “go bye-bye” with going up to Hill. Whenever my dad would get ready to take her up there, he would say those three words to her and she would go certifiably ballistic with uncontrollable excitement and anticipation. Watching her become so animated, you couldn’t help but to think about how smart she was to be able to so keenly determine the meaning of those three words. And then she’d accidentally run into a wall in her haste and make your reconsider everything. A few years ago, however, the assholes from school district banned dogs from coming onto the school’s grounds. Sienna, if she knew what was going on, would have been devastated. I will support any campaign that sends bags of dog shit to the school district’s offices.
Unfortunately, over the last few years, Sienna began showing signs of her advancing age. It became increasingly harder for her to get up the stairs or onto our couches to lie on. She would pee herself while sleeping. She became lazier than she already was. (So lazy that she started pooping inside more often than she was outside. Zero fucks were given on her end. Gotta give it up to her having the balls to do that.) She had difficulty getting up after lying down. Her hind legs were becoming weaker to the point where she could barely stand up while eating food. All of it was heartbreaking to witness, but we accepted that it was part of what came with her age.
The latter two were sadly the beginning of the end. One night a couple weeks ago, Sienna, as she always did, went to my parents’ bedroom to lie down for the night but never got back up. The next day I thought it was weird she hadn’t moved at all over the last several hours since I first saw her. Was she sick? No, her nose was still cold. So, I tried to pick her up to help get her active. But once I got her on her legs and let go, she immediately plopped down backwards. It was clear what had happened. The condition of her hind legs had finally deteriorated to the point where she could no longer get up and stay up on her own. She wasn’t crippled. She still had feeling and some movement in the legs; they were just very weak. It was surprising only in that it happened quite suddenly and wasn’t a more gradual process over time. Initially, the hope was that this was just a temporary spell and that she’d be up on her own and back to pooping next to the backdoor in no time. After all, it wasn’t the first time she had a problem getting on her feet under her own power; it was never something that rest couldn’t fix. But several hours turned into the next day and the day after that and a few more. Along the way we tried to keep her as comfortable as possible. We put her on extra fluffy bathroom rugs, which we switched out every time she went to the bathroom. We moved her around on all sides so she wouldn’t develop bedsores. And we gave her as much food and water as she wanted. There were mornings in which I wished I woke up and saw her walking around or heard her galloping on the hardwood floor downstairs as she so often did after proudly returning from going to the bathroom outside. Instead I would wake up and see her lying down in the same place with the same defeated look on her face. It became evident this wasn’t going to be something that would work itself out. We probably waited longer to contact the doctor than we should have. But the writing was on the wall. Chalk it up as being in denial or dreading news we didn’t want to hear. And so with immense trepidation over what would result, we finally took her to the vet last week.
The vet said it was ultimately kidney failure that was causing Sienna’s body to shut down. We opted to go for treatment in a last-ditch effort to see if her condition could improve. She spent the last three days of her life in the animal hospital hooked up to an IV. There wasn’t any progress. The doctor said, at her age, doing anything else was futile. It was time to say our goodbyes.
Sienna took her final breaths shortly after noon on Friday, May 10. She was surrounded by my mom and dad and me. Her family.
Now that she’s gone, it’s still all too surreal. Even after heartfelt and emotional goodbyes, I still can’t believe she’s gone. The house feels empty now. Every time I walk past my parents’ bedroom, her favorite place to lie down throughout the day, I still expect to see her sprawled out on the floor. I don’t think that habit will ever end. And I don’t want it to because that would mean forgetting about Sienna, even if just so fleetingly. A lot of people probably don’t understand the unwavering attachment some people have to their pets. Sienna was more than just the family dog. She was a family member. We grew up together. There exists a special connection between people and their childhood dog. For me, being an only child brought that connection to another level. So as I try to deal with all the pain right now, I’m still damn grateful I got to have that bond with Sienna.
It’s only been a couple days, but I already miss her so, so much. But anytime I find myself lapsing into grief or sadness, I just think of the wonderful, loving home we gave her and the long, good life she lived. And then I’m brought to tears.
2013 Oscar predictions
Presented without comment, here are my picks for the Oscars:
(picks in bold-italic)
Argo Fuck Yourself
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of a Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Best Supporting Actor:
Alan Arkin, Argo Fuck Yourself
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helent Hunt, something nobody cares about
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Behn Zeitlin, Beasts of a Southern Wild
Best Original Screenplay:
Moonrise Kingdom In My Pants
Zero Dark Thirty
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Argo Fuck Yourself
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
2012 in movies
I don’t know why I do this every year. I’m not a movie critic. I’m not a student of film. I guess I do it because, since I typically see a lot of movies, I feel like I need do some type of reflection on something I spent a lot of my time and money on.
Or maybe this is just me being an OCD weirdo, and subconsciously I can’t truly move on from any of these movies until I pass judgement on them.
Or maybe this is just me posturing. “Look at me! I saw a lot of movies and have something to say about it!”
Anyway, I saw 26 movies that were released this year, which may seem like a lot for an ordinary movie-goer, but it’s not even the most I’ve seen in one year. I saw 29 in 2011.
So here they are, ranked from best to worst. Typically when I do this, I order the movies based on how much I enjoyed each one. Did I leave the movie theater impressed? Did the movie live up to expectations? Was I entertained?
Or did I sit there thinking, “This is stupid,” every time something happened? (The Amazing Spider-Man)
A note before I get to the list: I genuinely did enjoy a majority of these movies, obviously to varying degrees. When you get to somewhere around Paranormal Activity 4 or Total Recall, my opinion starts to sour. And by the time you get to the end of the list, you’re looking at utter rubbish.
1. The Avengers
4. The Dark Knight Rises
7. The Hunger Games
8. The Bourne Legacy
10. Django Unchained
11. 21 Jump Street
12. Project X
15. This is 40
16. The Dictator
17. Taken 2
18. American Reunion
20. Paranormal Activity 4
21. Total Recall
22. The Campaign
23. Safe House
24. Men in Black 3
26. The Amazing Spider-Man
2012 song of the year
2012 was a breakout year for Frank Ocean. Helped by his well-received sophomore album “Channel Orange,” Ocean was able to launch himself into the mainstream. His music was even featured on an entire episode of “Gossip Girl”! (RIP Gossip Girl)
Frank absolutely deserves the wider recognition he’s getting for his work. He’s one of the realest, most talented artists in the music game right now. Frankly (pun fully intended), I thought the dap he got this year was overdue. I really enjoyed his debut album, “Nostalgia, Ultra,” which is simply fantastic and introduces Frank as a multitalented artist and acerbic songwriter with a diverse musical range. One of the songs on that album, in fact, was last year’s song of the year.
And yet, remarkably Ocean was able to top “Nostalgia, Ultra.” For me, “Channel Orange” was much-anticipated by the time it dropped in July. A few of the tracks were previously released as singles, which only peaked my interest. By the time I got to listen to the entire album, I was wholly impressed. Jam after jam after jam. A lot of people like “Thinkin About You,” or at least that’s the song that got the most acclaim (it’s nominated for Record of the Years at the Grammys; Channel Orange is up for Album of the Year).
But, for me, my favorite song from the album is the one I’m hear to talk to you about.
I would venture out to say that this song is my most-listened-to song this year, which is really saying something because it’s almost 10 minutes long. And yet every time I listen to it, I wish it were longer. I have no doubt it’s because of the dangerously contagious electronic nine-note synth beat that recurs throughout the first half of the song.
However, there’s more to this song that just a catchy melody. Part club banger, part slow jam, it also exemplifies Ocean’s diverse musical range previously mentioned. I’m almost certain this song be your soundtrack for a successful night of passion—starting with your girl grinding on you in the club and ending with more intimate pursuits back in the bedroom. But then there’s the storytelling. Oh my lawd, the storytelling! Yes, there’s a story involved here, and it’s a deep one, chock-full of the literary-type of symbolism and foreshadowing you’d find being discussed and analyzed in a college-level English course.
But anyway, enough of this jibber jabber you’ve probably already skipped over anyway. Let’s get to the music.
Frank Ocean - “Pyramids”
Here’s the NSFW, hallucination-laden, borderline-softcore-porn, is-that-John-Mayer-yes-it’s-John-Mayer music video:
And for those of you in a hurry, here’s the short, under-five-minute version of the song:
On Mr. Feeny, the greatest teacher you never knew you had
So, apparently a “Boy Meets World” sequel series is in the works. It’s reportedly going to center around the now-preteen daughter of happily-ever-after husband and wife Corey and Topanga, a.k.a. the de facto prom king and queen of the 90’s. It sounds a whole lot like what “90210” is to “Beverly Hills 90210” or “Degrassi: The Next Generation” is to “Degrassi,” only presumably with a lot less drug use and teen pregnancies.
And yes, this also means Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel would likely be
finally finding work reprising their roles as eternal sweethearts Corey and Topanga, respectively (unless their daughter was orphaned after they died in some unspeakable freak accident since we last left them. In that event, RIP COREY AND TOPANGA).
It’s still not clear whether any of the other beloved characters from the original series will reprise their roles on what’s tentatively being titled “Girl Meets World.” (God knows they could use the work.) I’m mainly talking about Corey’s BFF Shawn, Corey’s slacker older brother Eric and, of course, middle school teacher/high school principal/college professor/next-door neighbor/guy with weird accent Mr. Feeny.
Seeing how “90210” and “Degrassi: TNG” handled old cast members reprising their characters, Shawn, Eric or any other members of the Matthews clan could easily have at least recurring roles or guest spots to satisfy the hopes of the nostalgic crowd. But, then again, this is just speculation on my part.
As for Mr. Feeny, upon hearing the news, the cynic in me immediately thought he’d be a lock to pop up in the new series: The producers/writers of the old show came up with just about every excuse to keep the one-time sixth-grade teacher around on a show that ended with the main characters in college (even though, looking back, it began to make Mr. Feeny look kiiiiinda creepy); what’s stopping them from pulling one more out of their asses? Ironically enough, on show that had so much cast turnover, a teacher stuck around for the duration of the show’s run, lasting longer than a lot of Corey’s friends and classmates (remember Minkus?). Mr. Feeny was even the last character seen on camera in the series.
But a Feeny return to the TV—at least in a permanent sense—could be wishful thinking. In a perfect world, Mr. Feeny would easily have a regular place in the new show. He left such an impression on Corey and Topanga’s lives, I don’t see why they wouldn’t want him part of their daughter’s own life. But let’s be real. William Daniels is 85 years old (that’s five years before turning 90, for those who desire context). The voice of KITT is still acting—he recently had a short stint on “Grey’s Anatomy” and, while I’m no expert on the well-being of 85-year-olds, he looked pretty good. But I don’t know if Daniels is looking to do anything more than a handful of guest spots these days. Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong.
A shame if I’m not. Mr. Feeny had such a significant presence on the original show. He was an educator, a mentor, a role model, a confidante. He was often firm and uncompromising, but only when it was to the pupils’ benefit. He cared about his students both in and out of the classroom. He knew he had a responsibility to better prepare kids for the world, to mold better human beings. He strived to change lives. He was everything a teacher should be. I mean, look at this shit:
But here’s the kicker. He wasn’t all of those things for just the characters on the show; he was also all of those things for those of us who watched the show as kids.
I know, right?! You watch a show and see how fortunate the characters are to have such a tremendous influence in their lives, when in actuality that exact same influence is serving you as well.
Anyway, assuming the new show gets picked up, I’ll probably check it out for curiosity’s sake and to catch up with some of the folks whom I spent my childhood Friday nights with. But I’ll be sad if George Feeny isn’t present this go around. Not because I seek to feed my own nostalgia. But because kids these days could use Mr. Feeny.