Blog & Updates

Always Something to Worry About

Always Something to Worry About

I come from a family of worriers. My husband comes from a family of relaxers. One time we were flying to Hawaii. Mark, as usual, fell asleep the minute he sat down. I woke him up for safety instructions. “I’ve heard them a hundred times,” […]

Return to Coppertone Summer

Return to Coppertone Summer

My first summer out of college was a rude awakening. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, a Los Angeles suburb once known for orange groves and wide, open fields where they used to film Westerns. Our neighborhood was full of children. As soon […]

Passover vs Easter

Passover vs Easter

In the midst of Passover, a week-long holiday commemorating the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery, I’m having a little fun with the idea that Passover is the Jewish Easter. Well, if you were wondering, I can tell you it’s definitely not. However, there is some crossover… 

Both are at the top of the list when it comes to significant events. Both celebrate miracles. Both occur in spring. And as most holidays do, both involve food. Lots of food. Even some of the same foods, yet with subtle differences… Let’s take a look: (more…)

Has Oscar Lost His Sparkle?

Has Oscar Lost His Sparkle?

Early reports suggest the 2018 Academy Awards show had the lowest ratings ever. The pundits tell us it’s because viewers are tired of movements, political commentary, and perceived Hollywood elitism. They opine that the show is too long, the speeches boring, the jokes juvenile and […]

The Perfect Storm of a Thousand Mistakes

The Perfect Storm of a Thousand Mistakes

I’m not usually one to write about headlines, but this past week I’ve had trouble thinking about, and certainly writing about, anything else. The school shooting in Florida haunts me. It is yet another reminder that I, a mother, cannot always protect my children. No […]

Murphy’s Law of Pet Ownership

Murphy’s Law of Pet Ownership

It’s Murphy’s law of pet emergencies – if your dog or cat or bunny is going to get sick, it most likely will occur on a Sunday, because if something is going to be upsetting and inconvenient, it might as well be expensive, too…

Such was the case when Bogie, our ten-year- old boxer, got sick on New Year’s Eve day. It was a Sunday, the middle of the holiday weekend, and evidently a triple-time payday for those who work in the animal ER.

Bogie had been out of sorts for a few weeks, and we thought his arthritis was bothering him. His symptoms and behavior indicated he might have had a bad reaction to his anti-inflammatory medicine. He was wobbly and cranky and not eating.

By Sunday afternoon, my concern over Bogie’s condition increased. With our regular vet closed, I headed to the nearest pet emergency clinic, where they showed great concern, sincere compassion, and remarkable skill in the area of up-selling.

The process involved much paperwork and estimates and several “let me go back and talk to my supervisor to revise your potential expense threshold” type statements. Potential Expense Threshold, PET, how perfect is that? Listen, nobody loves her dog more than I do, but talk about sticker shock!

A few hours and several hundred dollars later, tests revealed our old boy had megaesophagus, a condition in which the esophagus stops working and can no longer push food and water into the stomach. Poor Bogie was dehydrated, hungry, and depressed. Who could blame him?

At 6pm on New Year’s Eve, I brought in Mark, my husband/money guy, and we were back at the emergency clinic negotiation table. The Senior Sales Manager, cleverly disguised as a veterinary assistant, presented our latest estimate. She opened her mouth to speak, but I stopped her.

“First things first,” I said. “Has the doctor started Bogie’s IV? He needs fluids.”

The Sales Manager shook her head. “We cannot do anything more until you approve the estimate and we run your credit card.”

Mark studied the estimate. “What’s this for? And this… and this… and this…”

“Medications,” she said. “Antibiotics, antacids, anti-nausea . . .”

“Over a thousand dollars’ worth?” Mark said, clearly incredulous.

“These are just estimates, sir. It depends on how long the dog is with us.”

“Excuse me,” I interrupted. “My dog needs fluids!”

The Sales Manager gave me a look that said something like: Hey lady, I’m waitin’ on you.

Mark drew a line, literally. He drew a line on the estimate and said. “Go this far. No more tests until we speak with our regular vet.” Mark tried to sign off on the paperwork, but the sales manager stopped him.

“Sorry,” she said, “but since you declined these services I have to print a new estimate.”

I lost my patience. “Seriously? Can’t we just scribble out this part and get started? My dog is dehydrated and miserable! He needs fluids now!”

She backed up, looking at me as if she thought I might choke her, which at that point I was ready to do just that.

“I’ll be right back,” she said. Then she scampered out to escape my menacing glare.

Bogie ended up spending 24 hours in the hospital (not a minute over — that would have started the clock on another twelve hour charge). We brought him home on New Year’s Day. He had a little more spring in his step after receiving fluids the price of Dom Perignon and medications more expensive than a pair of Jimmy Choos . . .

Some people say it’s crazy to spend that kind of money on an old dog. But it’s a tricky decision that must be made at a stressful time. You’re worried your dog might die, so you take him in. First you approve the diagnostic package, and it seems reasonable enough. But then the add-ons start. You figure you’ve already spent a chunk, what’s a few more chunks? And then a few more after that? Before you know it, you’ve cancelled your summer vacation. And that, dear friends, is Murphy’s Law of Pet Ownership.

Bogie is ten days out of the hospital, much better and happier. He’s home with his pack and back in the care of his regular doctor.

Bogie counting his “bogie-balls”

As for me, ever the  optimist and clever problem-solver, I’ve invented “Bogie-balls” and “Bogie-broth” and started posting instructional videos on Facebook. My new venture isn’t profitable yet, but once those clips go viral I’ll earn back that hospital bill ten times over. I’m sure of it. Forget champagne – I’m ringing in the new year with lemonade.

 

Here’s my instruction video on how to make Bogie-balls. He loves them and won’t allow the pups to have any! I’m considering an audition for “Dog-food Network.”  What do you think? 

https://www.facebook.com/julie.m.brown.10/videos/10154889891425672/

 

 

 

But You’re Jewish

But You’re Jewish

Who says a Jewish girl can’t enjoy Christmas? I LOVE Christmas ~ the smells, the songs, the decorations. My mother loved Christmas, too. When I was little we made Spritz butter cookies every year. We decorated half with blue and silver sprinkles and the other […]

Books, Breasts, and Why I Write

Books, Breasts, and Why I Write

It’s taken me a long time to write about this. Every time I sat down to do it, I fell short. I wrote in circles. I lost direction. It’s difficult to tell a story that is intensely personal, and so I’ve been avoiding it. Then […]

The Fine Line Between Grief and Guilt

The Fine Line Between Grief and Guilt

It’s been a year . . . 365 days . . . a whole bunch of hours and thousands of minutes, since my mom died. In some ways, it’s gotten easier, moments in which the intensity of loss dissipates, like a drop of black ink in a bowl of water. But in other ways, it’s gotten harder. When I revisit the last few months of her life, I question the many decisions I made on her behalf, and the “what-if” scenarios play out in my mind. I don’t know why I do this, why I create such angst —  why I torment myself with what might have been.   (more…)

Too (not two) Frequently Asked Questions

Too (not two) Frequently Asked Questions

When people find out a person is a writer, they’re intrigued. They ask questions. What do you write? Where do your ideas come from? Are you published? Do you have an MFA? Where can I read your work? Are you rich and famous?