Chapter Five: Diego’s Second ChapterMay 20, 2015

Chapter Five: Diego’s Second Chapter

Dearest Dennis,

You called me Mama for a moment. Then they took you away.unknown2

Your brother stood in for you. We called him Diego.

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Then you left the earth. Along with the rest of Diego’s 8 brothers and sisters. It was so sad.

We did our best to cheer Diego up. Even entered him in a contest and he won!contest-finals

Diego grew up to be big and strong.IMG_6417

He had a lot of fun too. Sometimes too much.diegosofa

He loved to model for me.design-milk1

He got new brothers and sisters.groupfoto

One day I met these really nice people and their family._MG_2111-Edit

Then I saw them again when they fostered puppies going to Colorado a few months ago with Rescued Pets Movement. They are very special people. Beyond my words.robyn arouty-8591

In the meantime, I started not feeling very well. And I asked God for some guidance and help. So, he sent them back in my life again. They saw Diego on the computer. And had no idea Diego belonged to me. And it was love at their first visit.IMG_4119

It was how love was meant to be. Like how you & I were Dennis. For a moment in time.unknown3

Diego and I sat down for a serious talk. I made sure he knew how much I love him. How proud I am of him. How hard this was, but I was letting him go because it was the ultimate life for him. He was really worried about Mama. I told him I’d hold down the fort here and we gave each other permission to be happy. There’s an open invitation to visit in his new big house just a few miles away. And I will.IMG_0203

They are soulmates. I know this. And it’s ok and wonderful._MG_2526-Edit

Oh my, isn’t he handsome? He’s free to be even more of himself now. I’ve never seen him this happy before. And just like Charlie, Ozzy, and Harriet (Chapters 1-4), he’s moving on to spread our love to a new family. Please watch over your brother Dennis. I love you both.
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XO,

RA

Chapter Four: Fullest CirclesMay 10, 2015

Chapter Four: Fullest Circles

I used to volunteer at BARC, Houston’s animal control shelter, walking dogs & helping people adopt pets. And, because I was truly a glutton for punishment, at some point during my shift I’d usually make my way to the crowded lobby & strike up conversations with people in line waiting to surrender their pets. Looking for a fight, n’est pas?

One day about 6 years ago I was making the normal rounds & a young woman walked into the lobby with a laundry basket filled with puppies. In my charmingly aggressive way back then, I blocked her from walking further once through the door & asked her what she was doing?? She said, “I’m here to donate these puppies to the shelter.” WTF??? Donate??? It took a while to catch my breath & then I went on a radical tirade about how they’d never survive in the shelter & wind up dead one way or the other. She ignored my crazy ass & shuffled past to stand in the line anyway.

I was furious. Heartbroken. Depressed. Confused. I couldn’t control the situation, how she felt, her ignorance, and her behavior & the stress it caused on my system took time away from my life. My health. My relationships. My concentration, productivity, judgement. Just like all the other 1,000s of times I freaked about the same or similar things..

Something happened to remind me of the laundry basket puppies event yesterday. A woman named Laura saw my Ozzy’s adoption listing last week & fell in love with him on the spot. She’s retired & has a 1.5 year old sweet shih tzu puppy. I brought Ozzy over to meet them & the puppy kept bringing Ozzy toys & despite his blindness, he made his way around like a champ & even navigated the doggie door on his first try.

Her home was so beautiful with the calmest energy. At one point I mentioned I’d like to just stay & nap on her sofa. Turns out she used to own bed & breakfasts, so she is the primo hostess. We decided to see how it would go over the weekend & then talk more about adoption. I could tell her puppy was thrilled to have a playmate over.

Just like with Harriet, I drove away in tears.. But then a wave of peace quickly came over me. I love Ozzy enough to give him the life he deserves. I love Ozzy enough to let him be with a person who will take great care of him, pet him 24-7, buy him all the soft toys he wants to tear into & get to the squeakers without other dogs taking them away first.

Wait for it.. I felt like I donated Ozzy to Laura. This donation will change her life in beautiful ways she has yet to realize. Ozzy gets a new incredible chapter. Our time was precious together. But now our love is being recycled & spread farther. Yes, it’s heartbreaking, but I’m not focusing on that.. Thanks for all the loving support I have in my corner. They won’t let me lose sight of the reasons & the goals & the bigger pictures. I tell them I hate them & they’re bitches. But they just laugh & make me make another promise for the next step of the process.

So, I knew Laura had already made up her mind. And sure enough, the evening & this morning went better than either of us expected & she has already committed to adopting him & paid the adoption fee. Here is Ozzy with his new Mama & brother Baby!

XO,

RA

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Chapter Three: Love SmartMay 6, 2015

Chapter Three: Love Smart

“My 6 year old daughter is obsessed with dogs. She wanted to work at a shelter or rescue but they all said she was too young. I fear one day she’ll wind up like you. Saving dogs & neglecting her own health.”  —An Internist in The Medical Center to me today

Another week. With it’s own set of ups & downs. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been mostly downs. But I’ll start with some good news. Chelsea, one of my closest friends, took a strong liking to Charlie soon after he came to live with me. She & her pomeranian The Woz would visit often and the two dogs totally enjoyed each other too. When I made the decision to rehome some of my dogs, I texted her, “Do you love Charlie?” There were a lot of colorful iPhone stickers involved & the answer was Yes!

So, from being abandoned on the mean streets of Houston’s Fifth Ward, to living the life in River Oaks, one of the country’s most prestigious neighborhoods, Charlie has become quite the little ambassador! He’s a big hit on their daily walks & travels. Chelsea tells his story & preaches the adoption gospel every chance she gets. Here they are together in my studio a few months ago. It was meant to be.. And I can visit whenever I want.

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This week has really been about having more questions than I do answers. Aside from the health concerns, here are some other things I’ve been pondering..

If we’re supposed to work smart versus working hard, then should we also try to love smart instead of loving hard? If so, what does that look like? Can you love too much & spread it too far then there’s none left? Can love be exhausting? Should it ever be? Why would I love the cause so much but not love myself enough & neglect my own needs?

Two of my awesome dogs need more appropriate homes. Ozzy & Eldi. Please see their adoption listings below..

Ozzy:  petfinder.com/petdetail/32065972

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Eldi:  petfinder.com/petdetail/31962784

_MG_7116-EditXO,

RA

 

Chapter Two: From Rescuing to ManifestingApril 22, 2015

Chapter Two: From Rescuing to Manifesting

I can’t believe it’s already been a week since I wrote Chapter One: Rescuing Robyn.. (Yup, better go back & read that post first if you haven’t already).

Oh man, that evening is going to be hard to describe, but here goes… After I read several beautiful comments of love & support, I was still beating myself up for not being TheDoggieWonderWomanMama like I thought I signed up to be. That day was a living nightmare & I needed it to end. I brought the dogs upstairs so we could call it a day and go to bed.

Sometimes the dogs will watch something moving in the dark while we’re in bed. Their eyes & heads move in unison & I don’t see a damn thing. I was hoping they’d do it that night because I like to believe it’s Maya with my other angels watching over us. And Lord knew I needed them fiercely right then..

This time I yelled in the darkness for her to come. Somebody come help me! I can’t do this! Why me????! I went to horrible places in my head imagining life without them. The part about doing what was best for them was slipping away.. Real fast. OMG, where is Maya? Where are my angels? I can’t do this. They won’t be ok without me. They NEED me. How will I ever forgive myself for this?? First Maya, then Beau, then PJ & now them.. At that moment, I felt MY LIFE WAS OVER.

Not quite. Hold up. This was some really dramatical shit. I needed to pull it together. Damn. Then LOLA moved & got that look in her eye. That look she gets right before I feel Maya’s presence… and she was with me, with us again. It all sucked a second ago. But with her & the posse up above, I knew I was going to make it. Come hell or high water, so help me God.. I AM GOING TO MAKE IT.

So, I put my order in… To The Universe, to God, to my Guides.. Please bring Harriet a safe, loving home with a person or family she deserves and is meant to bless. (In my head it was a sweet little old lady who could spend all day with her watching soap operas & knitting). Whoa! Talk about manifesting! Less than 24 hours later an adoption application arrived… & it read just like my order. They turned out to be a lovely retired couple who only speak poodle, wanted to adopt (not shop) for the first time & THEY WANTED HARRIET! Please be clear..They passed the most rigid application process by me personally.

Here’s Harriet with her new Mama Janet.

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Harriet & I arrived at her beautiful new country home. In the meantime, this lovely couple found their way to my blog post..which horrified me..nice church folk seeing the curse words & all?? Oh, Crap! But it turned out that Janet also has an autoimmune disease & told me, “Ya know… Sometimes we say things when we’re in pain.” Yup, just when I’m in pain I do that.. 😉 They were too wonderful for words. I left crying, but it was bittersweet. Found out Harriet chased some light after I left then fell asleep on her new Daddy’s lap. I am grateful. I wish them all love and happiness.

I have my eyes on the big picture, the greatest good for all of us & I’m lifting us up to a new level so we can all grow, expand, love and breathe again. I have many sistas who are holding me up, omg, so blessed…& calling me on all my shit. Not fun, but necessary. I had to take the first step & the rest is trust in myself & God. I’ve already received the gifts of knowing what I know now. The gifts that now I can’t give back. It’s all a part of making me stronger & better.

Now it’s Eldi’s turn. She’s the next most sensitive dog in my home. She’s a terrier mix with tons of energy. I’ve put the order in for her to find a safe loving home with a person or family she deserves and is meant to bless. She loves kids & wants to learn how to skateboard. Here is her adoption listing with more information on petfinder courtesy of my friends at RPM:

petfinder.com/petdetail/31962784/

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“Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worst.
Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts.
Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worst.
We try to fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see.
It’s the soul that needs the surgery.” —Beyoncé

XO,

RA

Chapter One: Rescuing RobynApril 14, 2015

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Chapter One: Rescuing Robyn

This is very personal and as real as I’ve ever been & I don’t have the energy or desire to apologize for it.. It’s come to this.

The following is an excerpt from a note I wrote to a dog trainer recently:

“Hi,

It’s 2:36AM & I’m awake for the 2nd time tonite. Figured it’d be a good time to give you the information you requested about each dog & their behavior. But since I know that you’ll be here training me for the most part, it’s probably more fitting to first tell you why I’m awake..

Last nite I went to bed in severe pain from another rheumatoid arthritis flare-up. It’s getting worse & none of the meds seem to help, even the shots I have to give myself in the leg. Can’t even take any pain meds because they don’t work either. I woke up with an anxiety attack, choking, gagging.. Ran to the bathroom to throw up. Then I cried. Got back in the bed cursing out the dogs. They’re making it worse insisting on sleeping on top of me, all around, forcing me to contort my body to suit them. I wake up every morning not being able to move my hands & oftentimes my fingers stay asleep for an hour. It normally takes me about 3 hours to really function most mornings. These dogs I love so much were now fucking assholes & they had no idea why.

Auto immune disorders suck. This isn’t the old lady arthritis, btw. Best way to describe this pain.. Imagine thick liquid was poured into the tips of your fingers, filling in all the space down your arms into your shoulders, neck, etc. until there isn’t any more room & they feel as if they might burst. Now imagine every single joint in that entire area had cables tied in knots really tight around them. Then they were lit on fire. The liquid makes the joints lock up, sometimes staying stuck for days. The pain is debilitating & excruciating. The previous meds made my hair & teeth fall out. So now they’re experimenting with some new toxic shit.. But I’m desperate. So, yeah..

It’s been 3 weeks like this with no relief. The chronic pain is taking a toll. The fatigue has set in & my emotions are shot. You already know about the stress at my place, i.e. complaints about my dogs barking too much. I live in daily fear of being evicted & honestly don’t know how I’ve managed to care for them during this time at all, really. Been looking for a new place, another converted warehouse or the like, so the dogs won’t disturb anyone, but it’s really hard to find the right thing that’s affordable in this new competitive real estate climate. I don’t expect people to understand this weird lifestyle I’ve chosen, but I do feel a prejudice against it very strongly when trying to find a rental property in Houston.

And really I don’t blame them..”

7 dogs live with me. I have allowed them to rule me, define me, & take over my life & health in ways that were only apparent to everyone around me. I made excuses, justified, & continued to rescue more & more dogs in need. I needed to rescue myself.. A combination of writing the note above & a few Come To Jesus meetings recently has finally opened my eyes. There is so much to say about it, & I will eventually, but for now I’ll say that I’ve made the decision to rehome several of my dogs.

I put the needs of others including theirs in front of my own, ignoring the symptoms of my illness & other needs until the deterioration and pain forced me to finally address it. Their needs aren’t being met in a way they deserve..attention, emotionally, etc. I love each & every one of them. Period. But sometimes it feels as if I’m just dogsitting for 7 peoples’ pets.

I’ve been blessed once in my life already having the most beautiful pet relationship with Maya, so I know how it’s supposed to be. I have no idea what their favorite things are because there’s not enough time to cater to each one when there’s just one of me who has a time consuming business to run also. Somehow I’ve managed to maintain all their basic needs, gotten surgeries when necessary, vaccinations, but that’s taken a hard toll too. What about the families that are missing out on their love & blessings? I just can’t hold them prisoners here anymore. My decisions have hurt all of us.

So, after careful consideration over the last several months, I’ll be taking this one step at a time. Being honest about it publicly will not only make me accountable, but it’ll spread the networking net to find their perfect homes. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Harriet, a miniature parti poodle, is the first. She is the most sensitive to all the stress & chaos. Here is her listing on petfinder:

https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/31918331/

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Thank you for your love, support, & understanding..

XO,

RA

Puppies 911April 7, 2015

_MG_6519-EditTwo years ago I told you the story of Julia, a rescuer who was pinned in between 2 cars while trying to save a mama dog & her puppies. That didn’t slow her down, in fact, since she healed she’s been hittin’ the rescue ground running with a vengeance here in Houston ever since. Right now she’s having the fight of her life._MG_6558-Edit-Edit

Her group, The Love Molly Fund, rescued yet another mama dog & her 8 newborn puppies a little over a month ago. She named them Lady Bird & The Wildflowers.

ladybirdEveryone was devastated to hear that all the puppies contracted parvo (The canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs.) Julia’s friends, fellow rescuers, & supporters have been watching & praying over the past week as the daily reports from the hospital come in..

First they lost Bonnie.Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 3.24.35 PM (2)

Then Dandy & Indigo.dandy indigo

Two days ago they said goodbye to Violet.

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Then to Bane.bane

And Saffron.saffron

Two more are now fighting for their lives & they need our help. Meet Thistle & Clover.

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The vet hospital bills have exceeded $20,000 for their care & her nonprofit group has only raised about half of that. Let’s say a prayer for the brothers & donate whatever we can together.

“I am actually in a living nightmare. Behind Molly and my father, this is by far the 3rd worst day of my life. Yes. Worse than being hit by a car. At least there were drugs and sedation immediately after.” –Julia

Thank you. Link below:

youcaring.com/nonprofits/lady-bird-and-her-wildflowers/313895

A message from Clover last nite:

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Bon Voyage! Rescued Pets Movement Is Rollin’!February 20, 2015

Gorgeous animals. Kind people. Smart. Progressive. No bullshit. They love hard, so they hurt hard too. Here’s a glimpse of what Thursday mornings look like at the Rescued Pets Movement facility. Quite the story..

It’s Colorado transport day. 4 huge vans. A veterinarian. Organizers. Transporters. Countless fosters. A photographer. Drivers. Office managers. Assistants. Board members. They all show up because it takes all the parts of this primo engine to work. They all pull their weight. Because they know the alternative is that every single one of these animals would perish in the shelter. All 106 dogs and 15 cats.

There’s just no pretty way to say it. I know it’s hard to volunteer at the shelter. RPM is a great alternative. Their fosters keep dogs for a week or two in most cases prior to their transport. And it saves their lives. Please contact them via facebook or their website if you are interested in learning more about fostering or donating to their cause.

And remember these faces. You just might see them again here. Playing in the snow.

XO,

RA

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The Story of Mr. Rio Bravo. He Was Just A Dog.February 3, 2015

_MG_7485-Edit-2 copybThe Story of Mr. Rio Bravo. He Was Just A Dog.

Just a dog.. of the young Anatolian Mastiff variety who, about 7 years ago, landed in a Georgia shelter where animals are killed to make room for others. They bounced him around from eager foster home to foster home. Despite his striking good looks, he was a huge wild child with no manners and apparently wore out his welcomes a little too quickly. Rio Bravo eventually caught the eyes of Denise & Dell Bryant, a retired couple in Houston, TX. They adopted him. Gave him the love, stability, and training that he needed. Enough to find his purpose.. & become a 150 pound certified therapy dog. (I took the photo above for an art installation at Memorial Hermann Hospital Medical Center in 2012 of the 19 therapy dogs & 1 cat who work in the hospital. I’ve been smitten with him ever since.)Lightroom (rio work.jpg and 14 others)

Just a dog.. who piloted an animal assisted therapy program for down syndrome & autistic children in Houston..of which the Kids Developmental Clinic’s program is based on today. Who worked weekly all these years assisting literally 1000’s of people and children to heal. “I can’t tell you how many stories there are. One time we were visiting a young child who had been in a coma. He laid his head gently on the child’s arm. It didn’t take long. First the fingers moved. And then his little toes. Then he woke up. It was amazing. But that’s just the power of Rio Bravo.” (Most of the photos above were taken by Rio’s proud Daddy Dell Bryant)._MG_7295_MG_7306 _MG_7496

Just a dog.. who dressed in silly costumes to do his work. Because it made people smile. Even when he got sick. And he was very sick. Aggressive bone cancer in his leg sick. He did his therapy work as scheduled on January 16th. His parents were so proud. Unbeknownst to them, it would be his last tour of duty. Helping heal the patients at Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Outpatient Cancer Center. Funny how life works, isn’t it?_MG_7490 4_MG_7364

Just a dog.. who “spoke” on command, but never barked for just no reason to his parents even though it is a common characteristic of the breed. He spoke to them a lot the last few days. Let them know it was time.. But maybe they needed one more sign.. It came in gorgeous rainbow colors of light soon after I arrived this morning.Untitled-1Untitled-2

And then, as planned, Denise & Dell said goodbye to Rio Bravo tonite. Even though their hearts are broken, the Bryant’s are so grateful for all their blessings by way of Rio Bravo & they so appreciate all their friends & those who loved him so. Just a dignified doctor, healer, counselor, soldier. Just a big brave guy with a gentle soul who did so much living & inspiring & kicking ass in his short time here. Popular on foot. No interwebs needed. Just a legend. Just my friend. I love you Rio Bravo. ‘Til we meet again..6

XO,

RA

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Donations in memory of Rio Bravo can be made to the following charities that mean so much to his family:

National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network

FAITHFUL PAWS Pet Therapy of Houston, Texas

Rio singing along with the band on the visit to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Dell said the band had a hard time keeping a straight face.

Dear Maximus.January 23, 2015

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Dear Maximus,

My face is wet tonite. Not the normal kind of wet, though. Like when you watch a super sad movie. No, not like that. I feel happy. But not the type of happy like when you’re getting handed that big fat Lotto check or something. For sure some tiny speckles are on the inside of my eyeglass lenses. So I know it’s real. And it’s about you..

From prehistoric-mini-dinosaur-monster-looking-dude, to unbelievably gorgeous exotic beast, I marveled at your every valiant healing step. From foster home to permanent home, you lived well and loved even better. Each person you met since August experienced your wisdom and presence in seriously profound ways. I tried to be a good gladiator-in-training student too. Here’s what I learned from you Sweet Maximus..

1. Know when to battle & know when to surrender. Be brave for both.

2. Be kind. Even when you’re losing.

3. Feeling vulnerable doesn’t suck so bad. There are worse things.

4. Live large. And with a purpose in mind.

5. Fight for what’s right. Ok, I knew that one already. But you really drove it home.

6. If you love the one who’s in front of you, make sure they know it by the look on your face.

7. Do your job really well. It matters to more people than you realize.

8. Inhale the good stuff. Every day. Love heals and strengthens all things.

9. Honor your angels. They chose you for a reason.

10. Teach only to students who are ready and willing to learn. It’s energy well spent.

11. Ask for help. Make it really known that you need it. Even if you have to look like a prehistoric-mini-dinosaur-monster-looking-dude.

12. Be humble.

13. A safe and peaceful home is everything.

14. Be a gracious houseguest.

15. Make the best use of your time. Come in with a bang and go out the same way.

16. Know your value. Appreciate when others know it too.

17. Let them see you shine.

18. Be scared. And do all of the above anyway.

So, about the wet on my face. Thinking it’s my soul talking. You hugged it in the coolest ways and it cries tonite in your honor and memory. Sleep well. Thank you. ’Til we meet again..

XO,

RA

My Name is Maximus Decimus Martinez. Part One.

My Name is Maximus Decimus Martinez. Part Two.

State of the Union Super Bowl 2015 Sorry For The Wait 2 WTF.January 21, 2015

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Before facebook et social media al.. I wasn’t sensory overloaded. Didn’t care to understand the every finite move of 1000’s of strangers. Was ok with not being able to know the news headlines & whose bootie was biggest that day every second. Tickers and scrolling and trending, oh my.

I cared that we were friends because we both really earned it. And those friends sought help from real professionals when they felt down instead of blindsidedly pouring their yuck energy over the rest of us. But we chose it. WTF is IT anyway? And who the fuck made up all the abbreviations?

24-7. All knowing and watching and filling our heads with bootieloads of information. Useful? Useless? Before it was just Big Brother watching us. Now it’s Google and Amazon and a million more because they can and we let them and everything is upgraded and upscaled like the rotary phone never needed to be and we buy the shit and feel better and smarter and prettier and faster and more successful and loved and the selfie proves it and the LIKES prove it even more and it’s so exhausting that there is no word I know of that describes the angst and resentment and despair I feel longing for those days none of this shit mattered and you almost always knew the story was true cuz you heard it firsthand and not 32,456th hand.

What’s next? We turn into computers? Fuck. Too late. Cuz I already feel like a robot. Trying to communicate with a bunch of other robot computers. Each on their personal version of an operating system. Not compatible with mine and yours. Wires crossing in the clouds. Interpersonal my ass. Mary J had no idea about the drama that was to come.

No need to pray anymore. All your most important life questions can be answered by The Google God. There’s a Top 17 Reasons..blah, blah article for whatever your heart desires, sweetheart, and you will believe it cuz it glows from the slick screen into your eyeballs and then brain cells and it’s just all so shiny and what was that really important life question that mattered so much to me 9 minutes ago, again??

Maybe I’ve just been amazed too many times. Emotionally rollercoastered by the minute. My fingertips are magic now. For most of my life they were only good for turning pages. And even then they needed a little lick to work that corner of the paper right. I can travel the world and back with them now. In no time. Crazy and amazing. But not sure my robot can care about this much stuff.

When is it enuf? Too much? I want to hold a big vinyl record or a paper photo & cherish it like it was meant to be at the time it was created. Really important stuff. Not take it for granted because there are a bajillion more digital whatevers being spit out at that very same second. By every Jones and Harry and Dick. Of mostly little substance. That I’m trying to top so I will be more loved tomorrow. So I can fill that mystery space that’s empty. So WTF.?!