Archive | March, 2009

Very, very weird…

26 Mar

Last night I was actually asleep for only the second time in over a week.  I was ripped out of my dream by my cell phone’s ring.  Blearily, I stumbled out of bed, following the sound of the stupid little song (I’ve never gotten around to changing the ringtone on this phone).  I didn’t bother to turn on any lights – it was pitch black and I fumbled around my purse, unable to locate the source of the ring.  I finally remembered that it was in the back pocket of my purse and pulled it out.

Now, by this time, my phone had rung – and rung – probably 15 or 20 times.  While I was standing there (not even while I was walking) it had already rung more than it ever does.  It’ll usually go through the song three or four times, max five, before switching automatically to voice mail.  It was already on ring SEVEN since I’d located my purse (since I was scrabbling around inside for such a long time) by the time I pulled it out.

Strangely, the display was not lit, even though the thing was still ringing in my hand.  I was slightly creeped out by this point, but more annoyed than anything.  I opened it up and said “Hello?”

Nothing.  Not heavy breathing, not sounds of being pushed around in someone’s purse, not “oops, this dropped into the baby’s crib.”  Just nothing.  I hung up, turned on the light, and looked at the display again.  I checked the missed calls.  Nope, not there.  There was an unfamiliar number on the “Calls Received” screen, though, an 858- number I’d never seen.  By this time, I was awake, having been startled out of sleep, and kind of pissed.

I dialed the number.

It rang four times and went to voicemail (Verizon, I think).  What sounded like “Accia Moreno” (I kind of missed the first name) simpered her name.  I left a message – squinting at the time display on the cable box – telling them that it was midnight and I’d just gotten a call from this number, and I’d appreciate it if they wouldn’t do it again.  After I hung up, I checked the time – twice.  11:58.

I just checked my phone again, to see if I could place the number.  Maybe a coworker or a Board member whose name isn’t programmed into my phone?  I couldn’t come up with a thing.  But I did notice something that gave me a case of the goosebumps.

The call log says that I “received” the phone call last night at 11:36.

My cable box and my bedroom clock both said 11:58 when I shut off the light.  I didn’t take more than a few minutes to leave the message for the person who called.  The time on my phone is correct right now, by the way, and I have no reason to believe that it was off by 20 minutes last night for some strange reason.

So why did my phone ring so many times?  Enough times to wake me up, allow me to walk blearily to the phone and search aimlessly through my purse, hold the phone in my hand and look for a display but not find one, and then to pick it up?  Why does it have registered no missed calls – but that I “received” a call 20 minutes before I woke up?  Why didn’t the display light up?  It’s never done that before…  And who called me?  I’m assuming it was a prank call/drunk dial/kid grabbed the phone/wrong digit dialed situation.  But why wouldn’t they pick up if I dialed them immediately after I hung up, even just to say “oops, sorry”?  For that matter, why was there complete silence on the other end of the phone?  I’ve heard plenty of heavy breathing, kids in the background, and bouncing around purse noises, even when I was getting all those phone calls a couple of years ago, all throughout the day (no one ever was on the other end, but there was always the sound of something happening).  Last night?  Complete silence.

I am seriously completely creeped out right now.  I know there’s probably a perfectly logical explanation for it all…  But what?



Edited the next day to add: I checked again the time logs on my phone.  And I did indeed “receive” the call at 11:36.  The outgoing call, however?  11:58.  Just as my cable and my bedroom alarm clock said.  So what happened?  Did my phone ring for 20 minutes?  How?  I can’t help but go down the “supernatural force” path of creepiness…  I’m quite disturbed by the whole ordeal.

Edited just a few seconds later: I’m not going to think about it anymore.  I googled “phone ringing for 20 minutes” and got all sorts of “paranormal” cell phone call hits.  So-and-so talking to their dead relative and such…  *Shivers*  I’m going to just try to ignore the whole thing!!!


Disaster Movies and Other Freaky Things

20 Mar

So yesterday on my drive home I passed by a high-speed chase.  Some drug dealers were fleeing from the police and decided to fling money out their car windows.  Of course, they were smart: the flying money caused all sorts of regular Joes driving North on the 805 to stop in the middle of the freeway to collect the cash.  I must have happened on the scene just a minute or two after they drove past (in fact, I think there was a point where I passed the actual car – going the opposite way – but didn’t realize it, since I noticed a police helicopter overhead around Clairemont Mesa Boulevar), because there were literally cars stopped on both sides of the freeway and people running across lanes of traffic to pick up the bills.  I don’t know whether I’m just a little dense, because I didn’t get it – I was wondering what all the commotion was about.  A few miles south, I heard the traffic guy on the radio describing the situation, and then I saw all the cars backed up in CHP traffic breaks.  It was a very strange situation – I don’t know that I’ll ever get out of my head the image of the affluent-looking, well-dressed, middle-aged woman scrambling across three lanes of traffic in heels, clutching a wad of something (now I know it was bills) to her stomach, her breasts flopping madly as she ran.  Or the one of the very overweight, balding man who was barely able to lift his stomach high enough to allow him to climb over the median (as I passed, he was sort of flopping over it like a beached whale).  It was utter chaos and a scene right out of  a movie.

So it got me thinking about other strange scenes and situations I’ve been in; two come immediately to mind.

The first was during the wild fires in 2003; I lived in Scripps Ranch at the time, and my roommate’s father had woken up early and heard about the first reports.  A retired Forest Service Firefighter, he and my roommate’s mother were down for the weekend visiting us.  Evidently, he decided to check it out himself and drove to a point where he could see the thing moving down a canyon.  As soon as he saw the column of fire leap across the (closed) freeway, he turned right around and drove back to our apartment and told my roommate to wake me up.  I took about an hour to pack up a few bags and my computer and sealed the doors and windows with rolled-up towels as instructed, and then I hopped in my car to head to the safety of my parents’ house.

The freeway was no option – the way North was completely closed and the way South was so jammed that it would have taken hours just to get anywhere.  I turned onto Carroll Canyon Road, to go the back way through Miramar Road – the way I took to work every day.  I got about a quarter of a mile from my house and realized that everyone else must have had the same thought.  Everyone was stopped, fighting for space leaving Scripps Ranch, just like you see in the movies.  I always had thought “Oh, come on – real people don’t panic and STOP like that!!!” but when there is no where to go, you have no option to get out.  After a few seconds of claustrophobic panic, I made an illegal U-turn and drove back the way I came.

The sky was almost black with the soot and the smoke, the sun obscured and looking eerily otherworldly.  Ash was falling all around me, like snow.  It was nightmarish – the smell of burning, the panic on faces as I passed – and no one seemed to know what was going on.  I turned left on Mira Mesa Boulevard, directly into another huge patch of traffic going nowhere.  I edged along for a block before realizing I knew another way to go.  I turned left towards the Junior College and then went through a residential area, thanking God and all his angels that I had a reliable map of San Diego and all the alternate routes I’d ever taken in my head.

For the record, my place was fine.  But a lot of people’s homes burned to the ground – and some of them were only a mile or so away from where I lived.  For days, ash fell as far away as 20 or 30 miles.  There was even a scare when a small fire started only two miles or so from my parents’ home, but it was quickly put out.  Still, I managed to take some photos of the “disaster movie evacuation” as it’s labeled in my head, and I’ll try to post them.  They’re very, very strange and very, very scary.  Especially for someone who, as a little girl, had repeated nightmares about her entire town burning to cinders around her as she desperately tried to get out.  Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t panic more, given my history with the “epic fire” scenario.


The second bizairre disaster movie scenario in my head is from July 2005.  If you remember, there were some really heinous bombings on London’s public transport early during that month and several people were killed.  My family had already planned a trip to England and Ireland, however, and so we decided to simply go and avoid the tube, the bus system, and pretty much any other place we might run into any potential terrorists.

Unfortunately, the terrorists had other ideas.

I remember quite vividly the day – my birthday, of course – and where we were when we heard that there were more bombs found.  We had just gone through The Tower of London; my dad and I were ordering lunch at a chip shop and everyone just sort of stopped and stared at the television.  In the background of the city, we could hear distant sirens.  The first reports came in: no injuries, but they were trying to figure out if there were more bombs.  Tube completely shut down.  Police called out in force.

Everyone around us started moving slowly, as though underwater, in shock that this could happen again so soon.  We got our food and brought it to my mom and sister and explained to them what we’d heard.  We all ate in relative silence and thought about what to do next.  No cabs were nearby, but there was a water taxi – a tour of the sights visible from the Themes – that I’d been on a year before and was anxious to show off.  Plus, the end of the tour was a few miles downriver, closer to our hotel.

As we travelled downriver, we were passed by two police powerboats, going very fast in our same direction.  We departed the tour boat across from Big Ben and watched as a group of students streamed from the tube station, their teacher trying desperately to figure out how to get them home now that public transport was not working.  The intersection directly in front of Parliament was stopped – and all the streets leading from it – except for the occasional police car, driving up on curbs to get around everyone, siren screaming.

We decided to seek refuge inside Westminster Abbey and walked around a bit inside their grounds.  We stopped at the College Garden and marvelled at how quiet and serene it was; we could barely hear the chaos outside.

Eventually, though, we had to attempt to return to our hotel.  Public transit was right out – even had the streets magically opened up, my mother never would have been comfortable getting onto a bus with a bunch of other people after all we’d been hearing.  Likewise, cabbing it was impossible – the streets were still completely stopped – cars that we’d seen an hour before had only moved inches.   We decided to walk.

It was about five miles, and my poor parents both have physical ailments that made it a slow and painful hour, plus.  I had plenty of time to people watch – I just wish I’d thought to use the camera that was in my purse to capture the moment.  Because there were gobs of people roaming around, aimlessly.  It was as though every business let out suddenly and no one had any place to go.  Secretaries lounged outside offices, talking on their cell phones and smoking cigarettes.  Young Italians leered at my sister and me as we strode hotelward.  Three separate times, police came walking towards us, two unarmed officer flanking another – who was armed with an extremely large semiautomatic weapon.  It was a totally surreal, out-of-body experience, wondering if the city was going to start imploding and if we’d be fast enough to get away if it did.  Again, the streets were so full of cars and people that no one was going anywhere (although I had to wonder if the police were artificially keeping everyone in one place by closing them somewhere a few miles down, to sort of try to keep the suspects from going far).  It was scary and strange and the only time I’ve heard of London’s police carrying such imposing weapons.


I guess yesterday, while strange, wasn’t so bad.  At least there was no carnage, and there didn’t seem to be too much of a disruption (in comparison, at least) in traffic patterns (although rush hour on the Northbound 805 had to have been pretty rough), even if it did conjure up these memories in my head.  I will never again laugh at the poor stiffs in the disaster movie who are too stupid to make it out alive – because it’s a little too close for comfort – but perhaps I’ll pay a little more attention to the lucky bastards in the cops-and-robbers movies who happen to stumble upon the bad guy’s discarded cash!


4 Mar

Why is it that when we lose a person or an animal, the first thing we do is look through our photographs of them?  We invariably don’t have enough.  I’ve got almost no clear photos showing Indiana’s face.  We never took a video of her vocalization.  We somehow missed most of her puppyhood (perhaps we didn’t have film in the cameras?).  It’s always the same – even if we have a million photos/videos, we never took enough.   Regardless, I wanted to share.


Me in 2000 with Bella (left) and a baby Indiana (right)

Me in 2000 with Bella (left) and a baby Indiana (right) - sorry for the bad scan.

Indy went prematurely gray; we think it was because she was always so scared of everything!

Indy went prematurely gray; we think it was because she was always so scared of everything!





Not the clearest picture, but you can see her sweet face.

Not the clearest picture, but you can see her sweet face.

Indy on her bench; she'd usually stand next to it and rest her head, looking inside the house sorrowfully.

Indy on her bench; she'd usually stand next to it and rest her head, looking inside the house sorrowfully.


Someone's Sleepy!

Someone's Sleepy!


Dad and the dogs (see how tall Indy was?)

Dad and the dogs (see how tall Indy was?)


3 Mar

On President’s Day weekend, 2000, I got a ride home from college from my dad.  I was living on campus at UCSD (yes, 5 miles away from my parents – that was the only way I’d consider going someplace so close) and came home almost every weekend.  My mom met me at the door with a grin, and I heard my sister’s voice calling my name from my bedroom at the end of the hall.  I walked to my bedroom door and saw my sister sitting on my bed, surrounded by stuffed dogs.

And one moved.

She was this adorable little round thing, all black, vaguely lab-shaped.  Seven weeks old, she was born to the purebred golden retriever of one of my mom’s students’ families who got out of the yard before she could be bred and ended up having a huge litter of puppies.  This wriggling baby dog was maybe eighteen inches long – the same size as the stuffed puppies around her – and gave vigorous kisses.  I spent the entire weekend in rapture of this sweet little thing (we’d adopted our older dog, Bella, about a year and a half before from the pound as a “teenager”), playing with her until she’d get so exhausted that she’d fall asleep right on my chest.  She’d chomp her jaw loudly as she tried to grab our hands with her razor-sharp teeth in a move we called “alligator mouth”, but even when she’d actually catch us her razor-sharp teeth didn’t actually hurt – she was always incredibly gentle.

Of course, we had quite a debate about what to name her, but my sister won out in the end.  A huge Harrison Ford fan, she insisted.  She kept quoting, “We named the dog Indiana” in a baritone Scottish accent.  This puppy loved to leap-run, ears flopping, tongue out, down the hallway.  My sister started humming the Indiana Jones theme song and the name stuck.  We named the dog Indiana.

The vet agreed that she looked like a black lab/golden retriever mix.  Weeks passed and she doubled in size, then tripled.  She got taller and taller, decidedly un-lab legs stretching out like crazy.  We discovered that she was one of the sweetest dogs ever – she loved nothing more than to be with us, in our laps or beds or wherever she was allowed – but she was scared of everything.  She got nothing but love for her whole life – she was just a big chicken!!!

I remember, for example, trying to take her in the pool.  It’s an important safety issue when you have a pool, of course, to show your dog how to get out in case she falls in.  And of course Bella loved the pool from the minute she got in.  So my dad and I took her in the pool as soon as we could.  Indiana barely bobbed there, shivering, and tried to climb on my head.  I pushed her off and encouraged her to swim with me.  Trembling, she got to me and hung on.  Eventually we just showed her the steps so she would have a way to get out if she needed it and left it at that.  Huh.  Some lab she was!

Another memory very clear in my head was when we had a party during the Miramar Air Show a few years later and Indiana’s big brown sorrowful eyes convinced everyone there to give her bits of hot dogs or chips.  When the Blue Angels first flew over the house, Indiana obviously stressed out.  Within a few seconds, she had lost every single tidbit she’d begged off all our guests all over their feet!

Indiana had a huge head with a knob on top that she often rested by her chin on the concrete bench outside the glass patio door, and she had a long thick tail that would leave a bruise if she were too close and excited.  A few years ago, my parents adopted a third dog, Tabitha, and Indiana loved playing tug-of-war.  But if she got around other, more unfamiliar dogs (like the next door neighbors’ two), she’d roll over on her back and play the classic Beta dog in the pack. 

About two years ago, she started “talking”, imitating the two shepherds’ word-like howls with some of her own.  She’d screw up her mouth, purse her lips, and swing her head back with a mighty “a-WOOO-oooh!”  Last year, we discovered that she’d figured out that when my mom was spelling “C-O-O-K-I-E”, it really meant her yummy “cookie” treats (something neither of the other two dogs have done to this day), and my mom would start saying “C-O-O…” and she’d perk right up!

In January my parents took her to the vet for a routine checkup.  My mom had seen something on television about retrievers; how full-bred retrievers always had webbed feet.  Since Indiana was assumed to be half golden and half lab, she should have webbing on her toes.  But she didn’t – and my mom wondered if she could possibly be half Great Dane instead (she’d always wanted a Great Dane).  And the vet (who has Great Danes of her own) confirmed it – my mom had her Dane after all!

Unfortunately the vet called back a few days later with some abnormal liver numbers.  Indiana got an ultrasound and more checks.  Nothing.  A few weeks later, her numbers were better, but not normal.  She was put on a treatment for Cushings Disease, something the vet thought she might have.

Friday morning, my sister took Indiana to the vet for a “routine” blood test.  While she was there, Indiana collapsed in front of the doctors.  They kept her there for testing until the late afternoon, when my dad went to pick her up.  Indiana was sitting in a chair next to him when she collapsed a second time.  My dad cupped her head to stop her from hitting it on the floor.

He drove her to the specialty/emergency vet, where she had another test, all day, on Saturday.  My parents were afraid of her having another collapse if they took her home, so they decided to keep her there until her surgery, scheduled for today.  Because of course at the vet they did another ultrasound.  She had a tumor.

My family went to visit Indiana on Sunday, bringing cookies which she gobbled up and sitting with her for an hour.  It was heartbreaking – she wanted so badly to go home that later in the evening when my dad brought her more cookies she tried to lead him to the car (which she always hated).   But if she had another collapse at home, she would probably die without getting a chance to live.

Originally, the vets felt encouraged by where the tumor was – they said they only had a 4% mortality rate with this surgery and they’d done it before.  Unfortunately, this morning they did a Cat-Scan and found out that it was larger and more invasive than they’d thought.  But they still felt that it was best to do the surgery because without it she had no chance.

Unfortunately, she lost a lot of blood and a part of the tumor broke off and lodged itself in her heart.  She spent the afternoon “extremely critical”.  My dad called the specialty vet to see if he could go see her and was encouraged a little by the fact that she was getting some of her color back.

When he arrived, he called my mom on the phone so she could talk to her dog – she felt like she’d be too upset, so she stayed at home so she wouldn’t upset Indy.  Shortly after she got off the phone, Indiana’s heart stopped.

She was recussitated twice, but it was a losing battle.  Indiana was gone.

I’m heartbroken over losing Indiana – she was one of the sweetest, most selfless animals on the planet.  She only wanted love and to give love.  Yesterday when I last saw her, she wanted nothing more than to be cuddled up against me and to be away from the vet.  I don’t know whether we could have done anything differently – whether we should have brought her home for her last few days or been more aggressive in her original testing – but I wish we could have known.   This was a total surprise for my whole family, and to be completely honest the worst part wasn’t losing Indy but having to listen to my poor mother, crying uncontrollably on the other end of the phone, and not being able to do anything.

It’s bringing up all sorts of bad things – like the feeling of helplessness after my grandmother was misdiagnosed (with kidney stones instead of cancer; she subsequently passed away because of it) and the feeling of despair after my almost-lifelong companion Bat Girl the cat died in 2005.  But I’m also remembering the good things and trying to stay focused on the happy life of my family dog cut short this evening.  I want to thank everyone who prayed and sent good wishes – I know that I would not want her to be suffering any more and I know she had a good life. 

It will be very strange to walk into my parents’ house and not see the blurring tail wagging at me, the big smiling face.  Goodbye, Indiana.  I will miss you!

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