Mia: Shaken Not Stirred


The true life stories of a NYC female.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Even Our Damn Squirrels Are Friendly



The big guy shrieked and jumped back crashing into me and dropped his soft pretzel. “Good gawd almighty that’s going to leave a mark.” I hissed as I patted my chest. He’d been startled by a couple of black squirrels running up to him. “I am so sorry. Are you okay?” he asked with a hint of an accent not native to New York. I waved him off and limped towards one of the benches with him stepping on my shadow.


I slid my foot out of my flip flop and rubbed at the skid mark his sneakers had left on the top of my foot and looked up at him. “Are you okay?” he asked again. “Yeah I’m fine. How about you, your heart returned from that trip it took to your butt yet? How are you doing?” I asked. He chuckled and seemed surprised that I was being civil. Being the genius that I am I quickly deduced that he was a tourist by his accent, the camera slung around his neck, and the tour bus parked in front of us. I figured he was part of the tourista crew that was scattered around the park’s benches munching on the food supplied from the street car vendors lined up on the block.

“I’m okay," he said, “I’ve never seen squirrels actually run at people, where I’m from they usually run away from people not towards them.” “Well you see these aren’t ordinary squirrels, these are Bronx squirrels. They’ve got a little bit of an attitude problem.” “Really?” “Oh yeah man don’t let their size fool you, they’ve got some deep seated anger issues. Those suckers will throw little fistfuls of nuts and twigs up at you in a minute. The ASPCA tried calling in some animal shrinks to talk it out with them but the little suckers refuse to lie prone on the benches.” He stared at me for a second before he realized I was joking and barked out a laugh.

He held out his hand, “My name’s Brian. I’m from Aberdeen…uh Scotland.” I took his hand and gave it a hearty shake, “Mia from The Bronx, New York and I’m really sorry you just got your pretzel jacked by a squirrel.” He ran his hand over the back of his neck and blushed probably embarrassed by his girly scream I thought. Who knew a guy could yell like that without being kicked in the cojones?

“Actually Brian the squirrels in this particular area are so used to being fed by people that they have no fear of humans. As you saw they run right up to you as soon as you come into the park.” He nodded his head and started taking pictures slowly moving around the squirrels. “I thought they were going to attack me.” I nodded my head. “A lot of that being reported in the Glasgow Daily Brian? You know bad ass squirrels running up and attacking innocent tourists in New York? “ No” he laughed, “not at all.” Hmm I see.” “Mia you have a lovely accent by the way.” I laughed and shot back “Brian my friend I’m not the one with the accent here.” He studied the squirrels that were busy tearing up his pretzel. “They’re black.” “Yes, yes they are.” “I’ve never seen a black squirrel in New York before.” “We like to trot them out to impress the tourists Brian. Actually I’d never seen one either until I moved to The Bronx.” I replied.


“Hey if you really want some fantastic pictures go up that path there stay to your right and after a block or so you’re going to see a stream and a little further up there is a beautiful water fall. You’ll see some non violent wild life as well. ” He narrowed his eyes at me looking at me as if I had just tried to sell him the Brooklyn Bridge. “ Brian I am not lying we have some lovely sights up here in the Bronx. It’s not just criminally minded black squirrels and Big Pun murals you know.” He laughed. “This is Pelham Bay Park the largest park in New York City.” “Bigger than Central Park?” he asked. “Pffttt Central Park’s 843 acres is puny compared to Pelham’s 2,700 acres.” He seemed surprised by that in fact the Bronx surprised him period he expected to see the burnt out gang infested crime riddled Bronx of the movies. I shrugged my shoulders and informed him that it was Hollywood stereotyping.

We chatted for a few minutes more and I suggested some non-tourist places easy on the pocket for him and his merry band of touristas to check out. He wrote them all down in his pad and seemed impressed with all the information I was giving him. Finally when it was time for me to leave he took my hand again and said, “You know people have this impression of New Yorkers being so cold and unfriendly but I’m finding that not to be true at all.” “Brian New Yorkers have a reputation to protect but now you know our secret... even our damn squirrels are friendly.”





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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oy! Happy Birthday Frum!


As of right now her birthday is 1 day…5 hours…15 minutes…and 52…51...50...49...48 aww screw it a day away.

I just wanted to take the time to wish a fellow sister and Kenyon minion the happiest of birthdays. Welcome to the club of 25 Frum...
Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go shawty
It's your birthday
We gon' party like it's yo birthday
We gon' sip Bacardi like it's your birthday
And you know we don't give a fuck ....

Frum this song's for you. I will make sure it get's played at least once tonight and I'll dance in your honor...



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I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.


My friends and I have a way of talking to each other that tends to shock outsiders. When we call each other bitches, heffas, and slores (slut-whores) it’s done with love never with malice. So if you’re easily offended by coarse language don’t read this post. Actually if you offend easily this is not the place for you b/c I never know what’s going to come flying out of my finger tips….


Now that my home girl Guay has gotten herself a steady boy toy she wants to lose some serious poundage. We were discussing her latest attempt at dieting when I suggested to her that rather than a diet all she needed to do was make some changes in her eating habits. I tossed a few menu plans from spark people her way nothing major, nothing too tofuish just something much healthier than what she’s been eating lately.

After looking over at the last menu she did her infamous screw face and said, “Ewww that stuff makes me choke!” “ So does sucking on a dick but you still do that every chance you get don’t you?” I shot back. “Ohhh shit Mia!” she yelled as she held her hand up to give me a high five. “Good one, good one!” “Thank you, thank you! I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.” I replied as I high fived her back.




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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why don’t you like my boyfriend?


As a teen my mother once said something to me that took root in my heart and became my personal mantra “Real friends tell you what you need to hear, not just want you want to hear.” To be anything but honest with my friends makes my stomach knot up and I get a killer headache. However I have come to the realization that not all of my friends can handle my honesty and sometimes for the sake of peace I’ve just got to let it go even if it ends with me downing some prescription strength ibuprofen .


--Why don’t you like my boyfriend?

I pinch the bridge of my nose in between my fingers. Ach! Shit. She knows. I thought I had been pretty good about hiding it. Fuck. Who the hell am I kidding? I’ve never been good at hiding crap.

--Mia?

-What?

--Why don’t you like my boyfriend?

The list is endless grasshopper. Let’s see can it be because of his control issues with women? Is it because he degrades you in the bedroom? Can it be because I caught him checking out my little sister like she was an all you can eat buffet and he was starving, not once, not twice but three times while you stood a few feet away? Or is it because you told me that he gets off on over powering you and choking you during sex? Never tell a forensic psych major shit like that about your man, it will never be erased from the mind. Never. I told you that what he does to you in the bedroom is a sign of trouble you laughed it off. Fine I don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s not like I’ve been studying deviant behavior for 7 years now. I don’t like him because I worry about you.

She stared at me waiting for an answer. I shrugged my shoulders as I continued looking for a shirt in my closet. I gave her the answer weeks ago she just doesn’t want to accept it.

-I don’t know him well enough to form an opinion of him. Besides you know me. No one is going to be good enough for you.

I hold up a white t-shirt for her approval

-What do you think of this one?

--Oh that’s nice! I’m not allowed to wear white shirts no more.

-Huh?

--He says my boobs are big so I can’t wear white anymore.

My hand goes over my mouth. The list of what she is allowed to do and what she isn’t is growing. He’s already started taking control over the little things in her life. Silly girl equates this with love. Shut up Mia, shut up. Take a deep breath.

-Your cup size is like a whole bunch of D’s right?

She nods her head

-Hmm and wearing any other color but white is magically going to shrink them? I’ve got news for you babe they look just as big in black as they do in white.


--Mia I want you to like him!

and I’d love to grow at least half a foot taller but that ain’t happening.

-My opinion isn’t important here. All that matters is your opinion of him.


--I love you Mia. You’re opinion matters to me!

Oh really? Here's one for you; you allow men to treat you like snot filled tissue. While i'm at it here's another opinion you need to stop settling and love yourself more. You've got alot to offer.

I rubbed the back of my neck I feel a headache coming on. It’s going to be a beauty, so huge a sledge hammer can only improve it. Shoot me, please.

-I love you too but this isn’t any of my business. Do you.

--Mia!

-What? Come on let’s be real. You’re going to do what you want to do anyway no matter how I feel, true yes?

--True.

-True to the oo. So why should it matter what I think? Seriously.

--I want you to get to know him. I really want you to like him.

Like I said and I want to be taller. Wanna be a -- baller, shot caller
Twenty inch blades -- on the Impala ...A caller gettin laid tonight
Swisher rolled tight, gotta sprayed by Ike ...I hit the HIIIGHWAY, making money the FLYYYY WAY ...But there's got to be a BETT-ER WAYY!A better way, better way, YEAH-AHHHH... Oh snap I took it old school! Crap now that song is going to stay stuck in my head.


I force myself to smile.

-I know.

--How about we all hang out together?

-Okay we’ll plan something for next weekend.

She smiled, I’d made her happy. I shook my head.

My boy friend can do guard duty, protect your lover from me since you insist on tempting the hand of fate. I so see myself getting into it with him. It’s there on the surface. Trust me I feel it coming.


By the time she left the migraine had started a wicked drum solo behind my left eye one to rival the talents of John Bonham and Neil Pert combined. My stomach was so twisted I felt the need to hurl. I took a deep breath and reached for the 850 mg Ibuprofen.







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Monday, June 23, 2008

The Other Side Has Cookies


My brother was discussing the up coming gay pride week and how he and some friends had been invited by a lesbian friend of theirs to attend the parade that caps off the event. The girl “Cakes” and my bro have been best friends since they were kids and she wants him there with her for support. It’s one thing to let your friends know that you're gay it's another thing completely to march in the streets shouting it out to the world at the age of 18. That my friends takes huge cojones.


As I listened to my brother talk about the event with his friends on the phone it was obvious that they were wary of being around gay guys. It struck me as funny because these guys are totally accepting of their gay female friends and are very protective of them yet are terrified of gay men. When he was done on the phone he saw me giving him the eye.

Mia: Why are you so nervous? They're guys just like you.

Steven: I don’t have any problems with gay guys but I’m saying what if they hit on me?

Mia: Do you like men, are you curious, afraid you might be tempted to taste the rainbow?

My brother scoffed at that and started to laugh.

Steven: No.

Mia: You know I hear (doing finger quotes) “the other side” has cookies!

Steven: Mia! I’m saying what if a guy hits on me how do I act?

Mia: Look if a guy hits on you all you have to do is tell the guy you’re straight and you’re not interested. Take it as a complement, the same way you do when a female approaches you. Trust me on this it’s no biggie I get hit on by lesbians all the time. If I were to get offended every time it happened I’d spend a lot of time pissed off.

Steven: Yeah but it’s different for you you’re a girl.

what is it about this generation of urban males that allows them to be cool enough to count lesbians among their best friends but makes them leery to do the same with gay men?

Mia: How is it different Steven because I’m a straight female I’m supposed to be get hit on by other females? There’s no difference. Remember kid you’re defined by your actions.

Steven: Don’t you feel uncomfortable though?

Mia: Na man I’m secure enough in my own sexuality not to feel threatened by it. It’s like being hit on by a guy I’m not attracted to not a big thing. Whenever it happens I just tell the person that I’m not interested in them that way and they keep it moving. Whatcha think that they are going to force you to join the other side? Come on dude be for real. How is a gay guy any different from a gay female except that one sits and the other one stands to pee. You’re mad quick to accept and protect Cakes, Jazzy, and Strawberry and mind you they’ve all had crushes on Caity at one time or another. True, yes?

Steven: True that.

Mia: Yet a gay guy creeps you out. Don’t you think that’s kind of silly?

My brother let my words sink in for a few seconds. I could see the hamster on the exercise wheel in his brain working overtime. Finally he turned to me.

Steven:True.

Mia: True to the ooo. So what you gonna do?


Steven: I’ll talk to the guys.

Mia: That’s my good boy now run off and go play with your legos. I’ve got some work to do. Oh Stevie remember the other side has cookies!

He flashed his dimples at me and called me stupid. I let him go later on he’d pay for that remark. After he left I thought about the one time when a gay friend of mine had been bold enough to kiss me. None of my lesbian or bisexual friends had ever dared to cross the line. There was an understanding between them and me. I accepted thier sexual orientation and they accepted mine and that was that. None of us were tempted to dip our feet in the pool of each other's sexual orientation. This new friend however was feeling brave.

We were in a calypso club dancing up a storm and all of a sudden she grabbed my face and laid one on me slipping her tongue into my mouth. I backed away a little in shock as she tried to deepen the kiss. When she released me she stared at me looking for a reaction. “Well” I said, “that’s going to take up a paragraph or two in my diary tonight!” She smiled at me and moved in to kiss me again and I held my hand up and shook my head. “Chill that’s not my thing.” At the time I had cut my long hair and was sporting a short do. "Don't let the hair cut fool you." I joked. She tilted her head and stared at me. “Oh my God Mia I am so sorry!”

I threw my arm around her shoulder and hugged her. “Relax it ain’t that serious. We’re cool. Let’s go get some water, I’m thirsty.” “Mia…” “I know, I know it’s my hips when they are in action they just enthrall the masses. It’s a curse what can I say?” I said as we walked. “You taste good by the way.” “Do I really?” I asked. She nodded her head. “It’s the cherry lip gloss. Not only does it condition my lips but it’s a low cal treat too.” She exploded in laugher and slipped her arm around my waist as we walked towards the vendor selling bottled water.

I Kissed A Girl





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Friday, June 20, 2008

I Never Realized He Was Listening



My brother (yeah that's him in the pic) approached my mother in the kitchen as she prepared dinner. “Ma I need to talk to you about something important but please don’t get mad.” I started to head out of the kitchen but he stopped me. “Mia stay I might need you.”

Mom looked up at Stevie and palmed his cheek with her hand “I can’t promise you I won’t get mad Stevie but if I do get mad I’ll just walk away and we’ll talk about whatever it is when I’m calm s’okay?” He nodded his head. He took a deep breath and then said, “Ma Jai is pregnant. I got her pregnant before we broke up last month.”


Her hand shot out like a martial arts master and grabbed my brother by the front of his t-shirt twisting it managing to get some of his chest hair caught in the clench. She dragged him down to her face, “Are you insane, you’re kidding right? No way in hell would you be dumb enough to get that girl pregnant. No way in hell. Especially with all the talks we’ve had and the fucking endless supply of condoms in the bathroom cabinet. No way.” “Ma…” “Steven William” “Ma you’re pulling out my chest hairs.” “I don’t care; wait until you see what I’m going to do to your balls.” He burst out giggling, “Mommy I’m kidding! I’m kidding! No one is pregnant!” She released him and smoothed his shirt down and pushed him away from her.

She leaned back on the counter and crossed her arms over her chest. "Spill it Stevie what is it you really want to tell me?" He reached down and pushed her curls out of her face. “Ma I want to join the marines after graduation.” My hands shot out in a repeat move of my mother’s. “Are you insane?! There is a war going on Steven. A. War. Iraq, have you heard of it?” I began to shake him, “What about college, what about becoming a fireman?" My mother stepped in and loosened my grip on him “Let him go Mia. You're going to give him shaken Stevie syndrome.”

The three of us headed to the dining room for a long talk with me glaring at him the entire time. He gave us his reasons for wanting to join but all I heard was blah, blah, and blah, and yadda, yadda. He told us his plan on becoming a fireman and college was not abandoned just postponed for a bit. This is just something he felt strongly about and had wanted to do for awhile and could not move onto one stage of his life unless he completed this one. None of his friends were supportive about his decision but he didn’t care because what mattered to him was our opinion. The look on my face said it all. He seemed distressed by my reaction which I guess he totally didn't expect. Mom reached over and patted my hand, "It's time to let go Mia. He's not a baby anymore. We've got to let him grow up." "No we don't." In the back of my mind I still see him as that adorable curly headed toddler that followed me everywhere and would jump on me every chance he got just to shower kisses on me.I reminded my brother that they will shave his head. His half way down his back beautiful hair will be a thing of the past. He shrugged his shoulders.

My brother looked at me and made his famous puppy dog face, "Mia please?" "Just give me some time to get used to the idea Stevie." I tell him. I decide right then and there that wherever my baby bro is stationed I will follow. “Does pa know about this? “ I asked. “Yeah he does," my mother replied “we spoke about this a couple of weeks ago.” My brother was shocked “You knew? He asked. “Yup, since you never asked him not to tell me he told me.” Steven chuckled, “I should have known. So what was that all about in the kitchen?" “You started it. I was just messing with you. I give as good as I get. Can't help myself.”

It took me a couple of days but in the end while still a bit wary I threw my support behind Steven because it’s what he wants and because the little chit keeps throwing my words back at me. Be a leader not a follower... Live your dream don’t let nothing get in your way no matter how hard the struggle. I never realized he was listening. I really need to keep my mouth shut around that kid.









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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Criminal On The Run


Recently I heard a one of my dad’s Greek friends call him “Gouliélmos”, William in Greek and it brought to mind a time as a kid when I was thought my dad was a criminal on the run.

In order to fully understand my story I have to divulge a bit of my dad’s personal history. Until the age of 12 when his parents finally regained physical custody of him from his grandparents and legally changed his name, my dads’ name had been John. Despite the name change my father refused to respond to William so his family was forced to continue to call him by his nickname of “Johnny”, something they still do to this day.

My mother calls my father “Willie” and up until he met my mother he had never allowed anyone to address him as such but they struck a deal between them. As long as she got to call him Willie he’d get to call her “little one”, “female” and “my woman” and keep his nut sack intact. It was their version of the bartering system at work. My parents are twisted people, what can I say?


One day when I was around 8 years old dad decided to take me to his office with him and let me play secretary something I loved to do as a kid. He was catching up on some paper work when his boss stopped in to say hello to me and as he spoke to my dad I heard him call him “Velvel”. That’s when it dawned at me that my dad had a lot of different names. His friends at the diner called him "Vilius”, Mrs.O'Cahan a tenant of one of the properties he managed called him “Uilliam”, some friends called him “Wilhelm”,the crazy Russians that lived a couple of floors above us called him “Vil'gel'm”, the super down the block called him "Viliam" his family called him “Johnny”, his co-workers called him “Bill”, my mom called him “Willie”, my mother's Spaniard grandmother called him "Guillén" and now his boss was calling him “Velvel”. I was one confused munchkin.

I remember staring at my dad as he spoke with his boss and thinking What is my daddy’s real name? I figured his real name must have been Johnny since that's what my grandparents called him and that all the other names were aliases. For a long time I thought my dad was running from the cops or in a witness protection program. Every time a cop car would drive by our block or one of the neighborhood beat cops would greet us I’d hold my breath expecting my dad to be busted and hauled off in handcuffs. Because of this whenever anyone asked me what was my dad’s name I’d reply “Daddy” out of fear that I’d reveal his true identity. Man,I was a nervous wreck! Of course people were starting to think I was type slow since it seemed that at the age of 8 I still hadn't managed to learn my dad's name. Months passed before I found out that his friends had been calling him William in their native language.





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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Slipper Room



As she glanced over her porno mag on stage the nun began to get hot and heavy. She popped a pill and then began to strip out of her habit as Jefferson Airplane’s Go Ask Alice played in the background and the crowd went wild!


My energy level was popping and I was throwing back the Tangqueray and Cosmopolitans’ back with no shame. For the first time in weeks school felt like it was really out and I was in heaven. I went to a Burlesque show this past Saturday at The Slipper Room and totally fell in love with the place. The music was pumping, the performers were off the hook and the crowd was lovely. A mixture of straight and gays, it was a pansexual dream. To quote Gen. Douglas MacArthur “I came through and I shall return".

“Holy Monkey! The nun is pulling rosary beads out off of her hoo-ha!” I screamed. “Good God that female must save a fortune on handbags!”

“Is that a female?” my friend asked.

“Of course she is hello she’s got a vagina. Girl I thought you would have known by now that hoo-ha’s are not standard issued equipment on men”.

“No”, she laughed “I mean is she a born female or a made female? I heard some of the performers in this place are trannies”.

I looked up at the woman in front of us “Seriously? I didn't know that. Ay who cares either way that woman has talent!” I replied. “Can you keep rosary beads in your hoo-hah?” My friend shook her head.

As the nun took to the floor and did a little bump and grind I put my hand in front of my eyes and splayed my fingers, “Let me know if she pulls a bible outta her ass because if she does I am so giving her a standing ovation.” I added as I took a sip of my cosmo.



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Friday, June 13, 2008

Cleo's Boo-Boo Part 1


Memorial Day Weekend, Friday night: It was really late and I heard my dog Cleo throwing up. It sounded as if she was hurling everything she'd ever eaten in her life. I ran to see what was wrong with her and got there just in time to see her spew up a hair ball the size of a kitten. “Holy Monkey Cleopatra-Spartacus what the hell is that?!”

I parted what little fur she had left on the area and found a raw red spot, “It’s a hot spot.” My boyfriend informed me and then added that he had noticed her chewing at the spot for several days. I gave him a dirty look and flew at him ready to punch him in the Adam’s apple only to be stopped by my father. “Well, jeez Josh thank you very much for telling me now! Why didn’t you say something before she ripped her fur out? “I thought you knew.” He replied. Yeah sure, like I’m really going to see my dog suffering and not help her. Since it was late and no pet stores were open to get her some hot spot medicine I stood up with her all night to make sure she didn’t attack the spot again.

The next morning bright and early Josh showed up with some medicine for Cleo and instructions from his uncle a former dog trainer to cover up the area with a gauze bandage to keep her from licking it. Little did we know Cleo would turn cannibal on us. She didn’t pick at the spot while I was awake but oh ho ho the mutt went to town on it while I was asleep.

I woke up Sunday morning to the sound of Cleo whimpering. My bedroom floor looked like a crime scene, there was blood every where. Blurry eyed I jumped out of bed and ran towards Cleo and picked her up. Good morning sunshine! She had chewed a hole the size of a fist right through her upper hind leg. I could see muscle, tendon and whatever else had been under the layers of her skin. There was blood running down her leg. “Oh Cleo what did you do to yourself?” I moaned. When I looked into her eyes she looked utterly miserable. I screamed.

Twenty minutes later I was sitting in the back seat of the car with Cleo in my lap her hind quarters all bandaged up while my dad drove around in search of an open veterinary clinic on Memorial Day weekend, the gods were not with us. Naturally there were all closed, at least in the Bronx. As we headed towards Manhattan I glanced down at Cleo wondering what I would do if something happened to her.

When we adopted her nine years ago she was originally supposed to have been my dad’s but from the moment we got her she attached herself to me. I hadn't even noticed her as I looked her litter mates over at the shelter. She made sure I took note by waddling up to me and licking my fingers. She placed her paws on my wrist laying her claim on me even though we’d already decided on her brother. As I held her brother in my arms she barked at me demanding that I look her and when I did she sat and wagged her tail at me her expressive face appearing to break out into a smile. There was something about her eyes that pulled me in. Judging by the crowd they were drawing I knew her brother and the others would be quickly adopted. Cleo I wasn’t too sure about. She was the runt of the litter and not as cute as her siblings. Half St. Bernard and half chow at 7 weeks old she didn’t look like much even though her St. Bernard markings were evident. It wasn’t until she was a few months old that she morphed into this beautiful dog.

From the minute we got her home she started following me around every where trying to keep up with me on her short little legs. The thing that impressed me the most about her was her intelligence. She was house broken in less than a week and it took another few days for her to learn simple commands. I named her Cleopatra–Spartacus due to my love of history. Cleopatra because of her superior intelligence and regal bearing in addition to her expressive amber colored eyes ringed in black as if she had lined them with kohl eyeliner. I added Spartacus because even though she was smaller than her siblings she was warrior like, pushing her way to the front of the kennel over their little fat wiggly bodies making sure I saw her. She's lived up to her name ever since never backing down from dogs twice her size or menacing people when she's felt I was in danger. Her name truly suits her.

My thoughts returned to the present and I cursed every veterinarian in my boro for having the chutzpah to be on closed when my doggie needed them.I reached into my pocket wishing I had an altoid or tic tac to give her to take the taste of her own flesh out of her mouth. Sensing that I was upset she attempted to sit up and lick my face. I held her head in between my hands and despite my allergies buried my face in her neck and nuzzled her. When I was done sneezing she settled back in on my lap and wagged her tail as I ran my hands up and down her body. I felt guilty for not having heard her chewing herself up over night, for not having noticed the hot spot earlier.

My dad interrupted my thoughts, “Are you okay there little one?” “I’m fine pa it’s just…this is Cleo… she’s never been sick a day in her life. What if this is something really serious? What if she…you know dies.” “Mia, she's not going to die.” “I’m taking her to Bulgaria with me when I leave for the Peace corp." “You are?” “Yeah, I told ma I’m getting my own place out there so I can have Cleo live with me. I don’t want her to go through what happened last time I was in Egypt.” “Yeah I know.”

Cleo had missed me horribly while I in Egypt, she was constantly whining by the door waiting for me to come home. Every time one of my friends came over she’d run past them looking for me only to come back and stand in front of them with a confused expression as if wondering where I was. Every night I’d call home and mom would put me on speaker phone and I’d hear Cleo barking and jumping in the back ground. After several days she picked up on the fact that if the phone rang late at night while everyone was asleep it meant that I was calling. Cleo then got into the habit of sleeping next to the phone and the minute it rang she’d start wagging her tail and barking. She had refused to eat while I was gone despite my dad force feeding her she was crack head thin when I returned home a month later. I vowed then never to leave her behind again. “You know pa ever since I came back from Egypt she’s had this separation anxiety thing going on. She even follows me into the bathroom now; she’s even tried to go into the shower with me. I don’t think she’d survive if I left her home while I lived in Bulgaria for a couple of years.” “I think you’re right on that one little one.” My dad replied. I scratched behind her ears, “I couldn’t take it if something happened to her while I was gone.” Visions of of having her stuffed like Roy Roger's horse Trigger floated through my head. I wondered if I could do that to my parents as well.

Dad dropped me off in front of the ASPCA's animal hospital while he went in search of a parking space, no easy feat in Manhattan let me tell you. Cleo didn't give me a chance to lift her out instead she jumped out quickly after me. Blood started pouring down her leg. God she was killing me. As she followed me into the hospital her bloodied bandage began to unravel and she stepped out of it stopping to look up at me and wagged her tail before she did. As I approached the reception desk several people asked about Cleo's breed and remarked on how pretty she was. She rewarded each of them with her best regal pose and a wag of her tail. When the receptionist saw Cleo she came out from behind her desk to admire her. As I explained to the receptionist my reason for being there Cleo being her typical self sat before her and held out her paw as if greeting her. I swear sometimes I feel as if the dog should be wearing a tiara. Once her paw had been accepted by the receptionist Cleo laid on her back and offered her tummy demanding a belly rub. The receptionist complied with Cleopatra-Spartacus's wish. The damn dog was acting as of nothing was wrong with her.

“We have no vets on call until Tuesday” the receptionist informed me and said she knew of no other animal hospital that was opened during the holiday weekend. My heart sank as I repeated the receptionist's words to my father outside. “We’ve got a full tank of gas, I’m off until Tuesday and your mom’s calling every vet in the yellow pages. Let’s head back home. If there’s a vet open we’ll find him.” he said as we drove off.





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Thursday, June 12, 2008

National Puerto Rican Day Parade


During the month of May Puerto Rican flags start popping up all over the city in an overt expression of nationalism in anticipation of the 2nd Sunday in June when the National Puerto Rican Day Parade takes place. Puerto Ricans are a very proud race of people. No matter how many generations removed they might be from Borinquen (Puerto Rico) when asked they will always say they are Boricuas. My father is a full blooded Boricua to question his patriotic pride is to basically take your life into your hands. He is also the strong silent type when he speaks it comes from his heart and the results can either make you want to piddle in your pants or hug him.


My dad was putting anti-freeze in my car when he was approached my one of our younger neighbors, the neighborhood smart ass. The young man took notice that the car did not have a Puerto Rican flag on it. He called out to my father as he approached him, “Hey there’s no flag on the car. Just because you look white doesn’t mean you have to pretend. What’s the matter William you’re not proud to be a Boricua?” and laughed. It was a joke gone bad. My father looked up from what he was doing, and stepped away from the car tilting his head at the guy. My mother winced. “Excuse me what did you just say?” my father asked. The young man repeated what he had just said and laughed again. My dad’s eyes narrowed and he pinned the man on the spot with the "death stare". He hiked up his pants, took a deep breath and walked over to the guy. On a side note here why do men hike up their pants when they get mad, do their testicles get heavier and droop more than normal with the extra surge of hormones produced from the emotion of anger? I'm just asking...inquiring minds wanna know.

My dad towered over the guy; he leaned down and pinched the Puerto Rican flag logo on the man’s t-shirt in between his fingers. A few people standing around them hissed and shook their heads.“Listen” my dad said, “unlike you I don’t flash Boricua pride once a year. I’m a proud Boricua 24-07, 365 days of the year. My dad then straightened up and pounded his chest cave man style, “Boricua de pura cepa (genuine) y de Aquadilla ( his family’s home town) pa que lo sepas.(just so you know) ” The man stood dumbstruck while everyone else hooted and clapped, “Asi mismo Willie! (that’s the way)!” someone shouted. My mom walked over to my dad and hugged him, “Are you happy now? You made the Puerto Rican go all cave mannish." she said to the young man. "Do you know how hard it is to calm down a pissed off Puerto Rican?” Everyone including the neighbor and my father burst out in laughter.








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Friday, June 06, 2008

Once Upon A Time In The Kingdom of New York


I love to read, something obviously inherited from my mom given the way she inhales books. As soon as I was old enough to walk by myself and hold onto a book with out losing my balance my parents got me my own library card and it turned out to be the most treasured possession of my childhood. My library card supplemented my Scholastic Book Club addiction and saw more action than a double jointed hooker at a sailor's convention and had the skid marks to prove it.



The other day my mother was standing in front of our book cases looking totally frustrated while trying to find a spot for Milton’s “Paradise Lost”,when she pointed out that we'd officially run out of space for our books. “Your dad is going to have to build us another book case” she announced. I looked up from my online book shopping and scoped out the book cases and nodded. The 8x4 twin book cases with shelves deep enough to hold two rows of books per their seven shelves were filled to capacity. Every so often despite my protests mom gives away old books in order to make room for new books, “It's a good thing to do" she always says, "passing on the love of the written word!” For me it's hard to part with the books so she does it when I am not around. Funny how I have absolutely no problem with giving money or clothing away but when it comes to my books that's another matter. I love my books. I read them over and over finding new things in them each time. They are more than just paper and binding. They are treasured friends each containing special memories for me so parting with them is hard. This year mom has no books she can bear to part with so my dad has no choice but to build another book case or watch her make good on her threat to evict a kid from their bedroom and convert it into a library. I’m not too sure she is playing when she says that and neither is my dad.


My fertile imagination, love of books and fairies for that matter sputtered to life when I first heard the phrase “Once upon a time in the kingdom of New York …” from my mother's mouth. As a kid my mother would make up fairy tales to keep us entertained. My siblings and me were always a part of her stories. Sometimes I’d turn up as a mischievous sprite, my sister Caitlin would be the princess of a village called Central Park and my brother Steven was the knight in not so shining armor due to his reluctance to clean and buff his armor in between his adventures. My uncles would always make an appearance as well as jesters, dragons, wizards, and kings. Sometimes our characters were goodness personified and other times we weren’t so great but we all had potential and by the end of the story we’d see the error of our ways. Between you and me I think the woman was trying to tell us something.


By the third grade I was reading Dean Koontz and books on the Third Reich much to the shock of my teachers who questioned my parents about my choice of reading material. I think they thought that I was going to grow up to be a serial killer or something. My parents never censored what I read. They were fully aware of what I was reading because my mom an avid reader would have her own copy of what I was currently into and read along with me. My parent's attitude was if I could put the letters together, sound out the words, and understand what I was reading well then go for it. No matter what I read my mother and I would discuss it after I was done. It's something we still do to this day.


Thanks to the magic of books I have slain dragons, witnessed Hamlet’s descent into madness, been lost in Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, touched by Shylock’s monologue in The Merchant of Venice. I was thrilled when Thumbelina finally got her wings, and for awhile had a healthy fear of the dark thanks to Stephen King. As an adult I’ve cheered for every Jennifer Weiner heroine, rooted for Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, Ann Rice's Lestat The Vampire, and have been moved by the likes of Esmeralda Santiago, Zora Neale Hurston, Harriet Jacobs,Jane Austen, and Lord Byron.

It’s funny though no matter how many authors I read and love my favorite stories still begin with “Once upon a time in the kingdom of New York…”



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