No Ordinary Princess

For fucks sake 2016, Princess Leia??? You have got to be kidding me.

carrie_fisher_2013It took me weeks to work through my upset over losing David Bowie early this year, then I nearly, literally, fell down when my coworker announced to me that Prince —PRINCE! — had died. Leonard Cohen’s exit right after the election was an especially poetic touch from this gruesome year. I really thought the sucker punch of the death of George Michael ON CHRISTMAS DAY might be the end of a year full of tremendous, unfair, cruel losses. So many insanely talented people who made such a difference to my growing up. But no.

Today, it’s Carrie Fisher. Despite knowing about her recent heart attack, I am gob smacked. She was supposed to have The Force, after all! She was a PRINCESS, for crying out loud, a kick ass, tough-as-nails princess, the profound female role model of my tender formative years years, one that blew all of our young minds. In elementary school, she was the one all of us girls wanted to dress up as on Halloween (my friend Khajha was the only one who actually had the right hair – the hair we all coveted) — and the kids still dress up as her. That’s what a legend she was as Leia.

Fisher had another role that was really important to me: a writer. But as much as I appreciated her acting chops, her on-screen dynamism, her storytelling gifts, her directing and screenwriting, what I loved about her most about Carrie Fisher was that she was open about her tremendous personal struggles, especially in acknowledging she had bipolar disorder.

Fisher was one of the first famous people who lived it out loud, unapologetically, along with all the baggage she and everyone who suffers with this disease has to drag along: the self-medication with alcohol and (many, many) drugs, the antisocial behavior, the terrible messes it all makes. It wasn’t pretty princessy stuff, but then, she was never an ordinary princess. She persevered. And in doing so, she allowed others with mental illnesses to see that they could make amazing contributions, let their creativity shine, and be super successful while letting that all hang out.

I’ve been thinking about heroes a lot lately. All of these famous people who inspired and moved me were also really interesting, complex, generous human beings. They were all heroes of mine.

It’s funny that the last thing Fisher finally unveiled — through her newest memoir — was the juicy truth about her affair with Harrison Ford, the thing we all suspected and waited decades to know for sure. I’m glad she left us with so many truths. The others left us with some serious mysteries, and that’s always hard to sort. I will really miss her.

Dammit, 2016. There are four days left of this year and that makes me nervous about what else might happen. Where is Obi One Kenobi? He’s our only hope.

Photo: Wiki Creative Common, by Riccardo Ghilardi

A Corgi Named Hank

IMG_3501Our friend Cassie found the four-year-old tri-colored low-rider at a pound in Nashville. She sent us pictures of him with his big warm brown eyes looking up at her through the metal bars of his kennel. The dog looked happy despite his confinement, and we were immediately smitten.

My husband Peyton and I had talked about getting a dog for years and he desperately wanted a corgi, not because he had one growing up, but because “they smile!” he said. I volunteered at a local humane society and couldn’t bring myself to purchase a dog from a breeder with so many homeless ones out there. Cassie had gone on the hunt for us and became our hero for discovering a purebred canine we could save, fulfilling both of our needs.

Once Peyton drove the corgi back to Massachusetts, the dog ran into our house as if he already knew it was home. He excitedly sniffed everything thoroughly while the cats scattered like roaches when a light switch is throw, hiding in dark corners. His physique was totally foreign to me; his long back, barrel-shaped torso, stubby legs and lack of tail didn’t fit the picture in my mind of “dog.” Despite my online research when trying to find a dog to adopt, I had never seen a corgi in person before.

Hank weighed in at forty pounds during his first vet check-up, easily ten pounds chubbier than recommended. The regimen required for him to lose a quarter of his body weight made him cranky at first, earning him the nickname Mr. Grumbles, but then turned him into an avid fan of lettuce spines and baby carrots as well as tennis-ball-retrieving and long hikes in the woods.

In addition to his thick double coat of gold and white fur, Hank has a black “saddle” on his back and a thin white blaze that runs from the top of his forehead to halfway down his nose. “It looks like someone poured a little cream on him!” Cassie said in her sweet Southern lilt, while I looked at him, imagining an odd dwarf horse. One of Hank’s ears always stands up tall like a soldier on command, the other usually flops sideways endearingly. He has a black olive nose, looks like he is wearing Egyptian eyeliner and really does smile.

When Hank goes downstairs, he hops, his fluffy white haunches bobbing like a rabbit’s backside. When Hank is very excited, he not only barks excessively, he wags his nubbin ferociously and we try not to laugh. When he wolfs down his dinner in seconds, we often say, “Corgis don’t know how to savor.” When Hank sleeps, he snores softly in a way that makes me incredibly sleepy.

Sometimes, he falls asleep on his back, white and pink belly skyward. His foxy snout points, upside down, in one direction as his petite back legs point in the other, hovering a few inches above the ground. His front legs curl in front of his chest and it looks as though he is dreaming that he is flying.

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