“…someday we’ll all start laughing…”

This is from my Myspace “blog”, circa 2007 or ‘8.

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Trekking home from my short hike this morning, I realized my dog was ignorantly enjoying a potentially life-threatening experience.  She bounds through the desert, chasing things, panting with exhaustion, dives into brush, yelps at chollas, etc.  I forget that this is Arizona, home of ridiculous heat, diamondback rattlesnakes, and prickly ground.  And the Valley Fever capital of the world.

Okay, I made that last bit up.  It may very well be the capital, but I don’t know.  There’s just…a lot of Valley Fever incidents in dogs out here.  In fact, my good friend’s neighbor’s puppy just died from it.  (Valley fever is a fungus disease that is transmitted through air, basically.  Dogs are especially susceptible because they’re low to the ground, where fungus spores float around and are breathed into dog’s lungs.  Once in the lungs, the spores turn into multi-cellular spherules that expand and grow and suddenly explode, releasing more spores into the animal’s body.  These new spores turn into spherules, and the sometimes fatal cycle continues… its actually kinda cool how it all works, if not a bit tragic.)

This should have served as a warning to me; do not take your pup hiking in dusty, spore-infected areas!!  There is potential danger! Keep her in the manicured, mowed-grassed back yard where it is safe and she can chase leaves and flowers.

Maybe I’m disillusioned, but that seems to correlate to a lot of human decision-making as well; if this be potentially dangerous, don’t do it.

This freaks me out.  I see 99% of America living their comfortable, clean-cut lives, with their 2.5 children, and their 10% tithe to their fancy evangelical church, and their fifteen cents a day to some charity group…

It horrifies me.  I want to be on the front lines, I want to be experiencing extreme cold and extreme heat.  I want famine and high cliffs.  I want meaningful conversation.  I want to suck the marrow from life and flip the bird to fundamental conventionalists.  I absolutely do not want to play it safe.

None of my heroes sat back and hoped for a comfortable, simple life; Jesus walked all over the place loving people and rebuking the self-righteous.  Rich Mullins made minimum wage, even at his most famous rock-star potential moments, and lived on a reservation in a trailer.  Shawn Mullins ( no relation to Rich) traveled the California coast in a van with his dog and wrote songs about the people he’d meet.  Chris McCandless took off into the back roads of America, and the hauntingly cold wilderness of Alaska.

    And so on and so forth.

Was it all safe?  Not at all, not even for a second.  Was it controversial?  You bet.  Were there times where each of them despaired?  Uh-huh.  Were they afraid?  Very often.  Did they find peace?  I don’t think so, but maybe.  Maybe they found something very like it, though, or at least some understanding.

So no, “I do not chose to be a common (wo)man”.  (-Dan Alfange poem-thing: look it up.)  Truth is out there, you guys; but because its so blatantly presented to us, we have to actually look harder to find it.  Make any sense?  Not really?  I know, huh, that’s the kicker.  And the thing is…what do you do when you find truth?  Theres so much about the quest, but what about the aftermath?  How do you go back to mindless materialism, self-centered consumerism, if you think you’ve got a glimpse into the Absolute??  How do you not live after such epiphany highs?  How do you shut your eyes, ears, and mouth in the name of comfort?  How could I do that?

“Hey sugar, take a walk on the wild side.”  -Lou Reed.

So, though there is an outside chance of my dog breathing spores into her lungs, she totally digs hiking and chasing rabbits.  I can’t deny the dog something so natural and so enjoyed, and I can’t deny my own natural inclinations to be out there.  It simply brings too much joy to pass up.

Its an introspective Saturday here at camp.  I’m resting from the past two days of zest, sorrow and exhilaration.  I’m processing Thursday night at Rage, all of Friday at Magic Mountain, and the death of Kira due to Valley Fever, as seventeen-year-old me so audaciously braced herself for.

I got the call Thursday evening from Meg that no, it wasn’t early-onset arthritis keeping the dog from playing with the kids anymore, it was a rather nasty case of the aforementioned infection.  Both weeping, we agreed that the best option was euthanasia.  (I get it if you could afford lifelong treatment for your fevered pup, but we here are not made of money.  Magic Mountain was covered by my boss and I ate granola bars I’d sneaked in, as I have a literal three dollars and forty-two cents in my account.  Please don’t tell me how you had the means to treat your dog’s illness.  I don’t want to hear it.  I cannot hear it.)

It is still a surreal and stomach-churning idea that Kira the Wonderdog is gone, and with all the distractions of the last two days I haven’t had much time to wail my friggin’ eyes out. I was, however, crying at the base of a roller coaster yesterday at the time of her appointment.  My camp friends (I was there with twelve of those lovely dorks) bought me iced lemonade and a batman cape and bear-hugged me until I couldn’t breathe.

All I can think about is sixteen-year-old me seeing this wriggling furball at Petsmart and knowing, that’s mine, and of all the haphazard adventures of the last seven years, including the heart-wrenching decision to give her to my friends last Summer.

When I was a kid we had season passes to Six Flags and I never touched a single ride, that’s how terrified I am of roller coasters and heights.  Yesterday, however, I rode every single one we came to and screamed my lungs out for Kira, for the tragedy and humor of life, and helplessness and bliss of it all.

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I don’t know.  I’m just sad about Kira and overjoyed about my camp friends and those roller coasters.

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