Life and the Dead

Reflections on life and death and The Walking Dead

2 Haikus for Tonight…

Waiting for tonight

The answer to the question

At last, “Who is it?”


Neegan and Lucille

“Eeny meeny miny moe”

Smashed skull.  Someone died.






Deconstructing “Who is it?”

The season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead is scheduled for this Sunday, October 23rd. Most of us have taken a hiatus from ruminating over who Neegan clubbed to death, but now with fall in our midst and less than a week to go, the jarring Season 6 Finale once again enters our consciousness and we ask ourselves the ultimate question; “Who Is It?”

In deconstructing the Season 6 Finale, I have concluded that it is either Abraham or Aaron who received the mortal blows from Neegan and Lucille. Here is a summery of my reasoning:

None of the female characters could have fallen victim to Lucille because Abraham’s character would not have been able to sit idly by as Sasha, Rosita, Maggie or Michonne was repeatedly battered by Neegan. Abraham would have had a knee-jerk reaction and intervened on behalf of the ladies, without a doubt. In fact, I think he would have had that same knee-jerk reaction had Neegan began beating Daryl, Eugene, or Glen. We know Neegan spared Rick and Carl because he said so in “If anyone moves, take the kid’s other eye out and feed it to his dad.”

The only person I believe Abraham may not have had that reaction to is Aaron. And what was Aaron doing there anyways? He seemed, well, superfluous. Aaron was just a little too gung-ho that day when he insisted on being Rick’s “wing-man”, and Rick really didn’t protest.   Couldn’t Aaron have better served his community by staying behind and helping out on the home front of Alexandria? I think Aaron was allowed to join the others as the scapegoat. And sadly, I think we could recover from his loss. Don’t misunderstand me; Aaron is a great guy, and I’ve totally warmed up to his character in season 6. But would we miss him the way we’d miss the other kneeling cast members? I think not. So Aaron is a likely candidate to meet his end via Neegan., along with Abraham who seemed ready to “lay on the grenade.” He and Michonne were really the only two characters strong enough to intervene on behalf of their comrades, and they even postured as if to say, “Fine, take me, I’m ready.” But the show needs a strong woman, and with Carol compromised, Michonne has to remain alive.

Of course, this could all just be wishful thinking on my part, which leads me to wonder, could it still possibly be Glenn?  We all know by now that in the comic book version of TWD, Eeny-meeny-miny-mo lands on Glenn, and he is the recipient of multiple head blows from Lucille But my gut just says it’s not him. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but I have to go with my gut. Then there is the slight possibility that instead of Glenn, they sacrifice Maggie, and leave the entire clan so utterly devastated as to not be able to function. I honestly can’t go down that road, so I’ll stop here.

And Daryl Dixon? Like Abraham, Daryl would have reflexively intervened to save any of his friends’ lives. But he was compromised with a gunshot wound to his shoulder and wasn’t his old sturdy self. But could Neegan’s “you are it” have landed on Daryl? I still say no way. The show’s ratings would plummet and TWD’s fan base would drop by at least 50%. I just can’t believe the powers-that-be would let that happen.

So I’ll wait it out ‘till Sunday evening on October 23rd and watch as it’s revealed, and at last we’ll have our answer to “Who is it?” I’m ready. Bring it on.


When Did Des Moines, Iowa Turn Hipster?

The last time I visited Des Moines, Iowa, was about 4 years ago. Wow. Things have changed. Oh sure, on my previous visit, they did have Raygun and Zombie Burger, and there was always West Des Moines where you could shop at Trader Joes or hang out in the new high-end mall. I hear they even have a Whole Foods there now. But Downtown Des Moines has definitely turned hipster.

The first indicator that something has changed is the lack of availability of last minute hotel rooms in the Downtown. I asked my sister who works in Des Moines if there was a convention or something going on. Not that she knew of. “Try Des Lux”, she said, “It’s a relatively new boutique hotel.” Second flag that something was up…new boutique hotel. No go. Fully booked. Next step; try Airbnb. Score. Not that many available, but I did manage to book a really nice flat (and yes, the owner called it a flat…third flag something was up) overlooking the Des Moines River and Cubbies Baseball stadium. Highly recommend this Airbnb! Location was perfect and the ‘flat’ was awesome.

Driving around Downtown Des Moines, you notice a lot of construction, but nothing that gets in your way. You can find a parking place within a minute or two, if not immediately. As you walk along, you can’t miss a series of brightly painted pianos on various street corners around the city. 4th flag that something is up (I heard about a similar project in NYC), and low and behold, there were even people who stopped and played a few tunes on them. You may even forget for a moment that you’re in Des Moines and think you’re in NYC, but then quickly you realize there is absolutely no trash or debris of any kind in Des Moines. It’s even cleaner than Singapore.

My destination on this walk is East Village, because that’s where Raygun and Zombie Burger live, both of which I’m familiar with. I’ll get a couple of clever-edgy-funny t-shirts, and grab a vegan burger at Zombie. But suddenly, I am completely distracted. There’s an element of Melrose Avenue in LA that comes to mind and I’m seeing girls with really good ink and guys with trendy hair and trimmed beards. I do a double take of the streets and see 6th and Locust, and then a stranger says hello to me and I’m instantly brought back to reality – I’m not in LA, I’m in Des Moines – the only capital city in the universe where a stranger will actually say hi to you in the passing. This is true. Iowans are among the nicest people in the world. It seems everyone has time for you and the check out person at HyVee will spend 5 minutes asking about your life, your kids, San Francisco, your relationship with your husband, all while he/she scans your groceries. You leave HyVee feeling like you had a 5 minute therapy session, and you do indeed feel better about yourself because it seems that someone actually cares…and it’s the grocery store clerk that you just met!

Back to EV (East Village). I could spend a lot of time here. I stop at Mars Café and decide I need a manipedi because I just came from SF where it’s 50 degrees in June and Des Moines is topping out at 85, hence the flip flops with my overgrown toenails. I’m scrolling through my phone reading reviews of several nail salons within a 3 block radius while drinking my almond milk latte (Yep. Des Moines got the memo about milk alternatives…5th flag). Bingo. Art of Nails. Right across the street from Mars. And they take walk in’s. I’m greeted by a very lovely Iowan native, Michelle. She gets me a bottle of water and shows me to my chair. Art of Nails has the best massage chairs of any nail salon I’ve been in.   Bill, born in Laos, but moved to the US when he was one, has lived in Des Moines since he was 4. “I’ve been to Vientienne and Luang Prabang”, I say. We then talk for 45 minutes about a lot of different things as he delivers a great pedicure. I move on to my mani, which is given by another Lao native, Lang. She’s my age and we talk about our kids, parenting, etc. When I leave, I see Michelle cutting Bill’s hair and next to them is a very handsome young man who looks part Asian. They’re all smiling and chatting with each other and I say, “Are you all related?” “Yeah, that’s my mom and dad”, says the handsome young man. Nice family.

Next stop. Blow-out at Bombshell Betty’s. On my way, I pass a swanky day spa called W. They have Aveda products lining the window and it’s all very modern. Again, reminiscent of something straight out of LA. Oh! Another stranger just said hi! I’m still in Des Moines. I pass several boutiques, and they look rather high-end. I step into one called Velvet Coat where I see some really cool sandles. They’re three hundred dollars, but I can see they’re well worth it. Made in Italy. I’m getting nervous because it’s right about now that I start feeling unwelcomed in high-end boutiques. You know, right when you turn the shoe over to see if it’s in your price range and you want the shoe, but you know your husband isn’t gonna want the shoe and the store clerk knows you’re one of “those” people who is not in ‘the disposable income’ category and they decide to not give you the time of day. ”Hi, how are you?” I hear someone say. I turn and see two beautiful sales women, Julia and Nadine. “Hello”, I reply. “Let me know if you need any help”, Julia says. “Thank you. I have an appointment to get my hair blown out, but wanted to stop in your store for a minute.” Nadine replies, “Oh at Bombshell Betty’s? They do a great job.” Which says a lot coming from Nadine who is stunning, with hair that has been painted, literally, by an artist friend. She was a dancer and like other hipsters in Des Moines, was sporting some fine ink. I left there thinking that these two ladies could be my new BFF’s and felt compelled to invite them to have a beer later with my sister an me.

On to Bombshell Betty’s. I walk in. This place is cool, and the two gals working here are even cooler. Now, it’s starting to look more like someplace in the Mission in SF. These girls both have serious body art, and I mean the tattoo artist is really an artist! I ask the one with green hair about hers. “Is that a zombie?” I point to the art on her sleeved arm. “It’s a zombie Snow White scene. I love Disney”, she replies. “Oh, do you watch The Walking Dead? I LOVE that show!” I overzealously chime in. “Haven’t seen it but hear it’s great”. Both of these girls, Sabrina and Holly, have that milky flawless skin that seems very prevalent in the Midwest. They are both beautiful, and smile a lot. They ask me questions about my children, places I’ve travelled. Everyone in this town seems to have time for you. And to be honest, I haven’t seen an excess of cell phone fixation. My hair looks great when Sabrina is finished washing, massaging, blowing out and styling my hair.

My sister picks me up at Raygun, the t-shirt shop whose owner only recently got a smart phone. The shop was featured on NPR during the Iowa Caucasus when hordes of candidates, their entourages, and the press descended on this city and state. Raygun really would be more at home in SoHo, NYC. Its t-shirts’ snarky commentary on conservative culture must have driven the republicans insane! One shirt reads, “Guns don’t kill people. People from Texas kill people.” Hmmm.

My sister drives me to Des Moines International Airport to meet my husband. It takes us 12 minutes to get from EV to the airport. Dollar Renta Car is the only car rental with a line. There are 3 people ahead of me. I’m checked out in less than 5 minutes, and I walk about 100 feet where my car is waiting for me. Toyota Yaris. Zippy. I pick up my husband and we drive straight to Zombie Burger where my whole family is waiting; Mom, Dad, my sister and her two boys, my brother and his wife and their two girls and son. My two boys are the only ones missing. Both on summer trips with friends. I am a TWD fan, which stands for The Walking Dead. I feel very comfortable in this place. And they even have a vegan burger, which I order. What flag are we on? I’ve lost track. They also have a variety of local beers and I say to my husband and sister, “I love this place! Check out the beer selection.” My sister gives me an update…”You have to go to the Iowa Tap Room. They have over a hundred micro brews”. Okay.

Washington and Oregon have nothing on Iowa in the way of micro-brewing. Iowa has entered the modern beer age, and the state has a huge advantage with soil and climate that support optimal hops growing. The line at the Iowa Tap Room was too long…a 50 minute wait. But luckily, it has a sister pub called El Bait Shop, which is conveniently located 1 block from our Airbnb flat. El Bait Shop serves over 100 different beers and a variety of food items. It’s casual and a perfect venue for a hot afternoon draft of beer. Our waitress, Melanie, like everyone else in Des Moines, was helpful, cheerful and very nice.

My husband really wanted to go bike riding, and let me tell you, there are a lot of bike trails in and around Des Moines. In case you’ve never heard of RAGBRAI, I’ll explain; every summer the state of Iowa hosts The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Riders from all over the world participate in this spectacle, and towns transform into massive shelters that provide tent space, sofas, beds, showers and home cooked food of all sorts to the riders. Over 25 thousand people participate in this week long ride, starting with dipping their back tires in the Missouri River and ending with a dip of the front tire in the Mississippi. My husband is gearing up for participating in Ragbrai one day, hopefully within the next couple of years.

For our last real stop in Des Moines, I met my sister and husband at Della Viti Wine Bar. My husband and I grow grapes in Sonoma, so we enjoy a good wine bar, and Della Viti did not disappoint. In fact, the selection of wines were worldly and sophisticated, our host, Bruce, seemed to know as much about wine as the any Bay Area Sommelier. I also need to mention that this is the highest tech wine bar I’ve ever visited. Wines are stored at optimal temperatures in dispensers. This seemed odd at first, but after listening to Bruce’s explanation we realized it was quite state-of-the-art. The ambiance of Della Viti was just what you’d want in a wine bar. Cozy, well designed, and they serve small plates to accompany your wine experience. I had a delicious glass of Langhe Barbaresco, and I can HIGHLY recommend it!

I told my husband and sister, the only thing missing from Des Moines is ‘the tude’. Everywhere you go, there seems an overwhelming absence of ‘the tude’. Very refreshing. We step onto the street and I notice a shiny new Indian motorcycle. “Nice bike.” I say. “I’d love to have an Indian motorcycle.” My sister adds, “They’re manufactured here in Iowa, you know.”   My mind is blown! No, I did not know. I guess the whole damn state is hipster!

As we get ready to leave Iowa, we enter the Des Moines Airport terminal. And, you guessed it – THERE ARE NO LINES AT CHECK IN OR SECURITY! I turn to my husband and say, “Is this heaven, or what?!” He replies deadpan, “No, Jackie. This is Iowa.” He’s funny. I’m definitely coming back here with my whole family on our next vacation. And yes, Iowa is like Heaven…Hipster Heaven!

A Letter to Carol

Dear Carol,

I’ve been watching your evolution on TWD now for 6 seasons. You have transformed yourself from meek, co-dependent, beaten-down housewife to zombie apocalyptic warrior goddess and I just want you to know, I’m damn proud of you. Your combat capabilities, and the solidarity you’ve forged with all your TWD companions are enviable and you have earned the title of matriarch of your clan.

But the last few episodes, it’s clear you’re struggling. Out of nowhere, you’ve been sideswiped with doubt, anxiety, depression and fear. And while you may feel like you’re losing your mind, I’m here to tell you, sister, you are not. What you are, plain and simple, is peri-menopausal.

While I don’t like to presume, I would estimate that you’re in your mid-40’s. This is the typical age at which most women begin experiencing the symptoms of peri-menopause. And while some women experience no symptoms, other women suffer severely and may need a handful of pills just to get through the day! I think you may be on the “severe” spectrum. But it’s okay. This too shall pass. As an OB-Gyn once explained, “It’s like someone that’s been given heroin all of their life, and then one day it’s suddenly taken away from them…A woman’s had estrogen her whole life and then, boom! Peri-menopause sets in and bye-bye estrogen.” You’re experiencing estrogen withdrawals. And my heart goes out to you.

From my observations, your symptoms seem to be severe anxiety, depression, mood swings, confusion, self-doubt, crying (am I missing any?). You’re probably experiencing hot-flashes and insomnia, but how would you know, really, when summer in Georgia is one giant hot flash, and most likely no one is getting 8 solid hours of sleep in the zombie apocalypse.

In the perfect world (which clearly you’re not a part of), you would find a compassionate therapist to vent (because peri-menopause really is just an amplifier of what we truly need to deal with in our lives and most people don’t want to hear us bitch about it), an understanding gynecologist who can prescribe you a bio-identical estrogen patch, some benzodiazepines, a sleep aid, and an ssri (I think you need all of these, given the severity of your symptoms) and most importantly, a great set of girlfriends. Sadly, you have none of these. I’m so sorry. If I were you, I would try and get a hold of some weed and alcohol and self medicate until you cross over into menopause land. Once you’re there, it’s easy. You stabilize.

There are a couple of advantages of being peri-menopausal in a zombie-apocolyptic world, however. First, no one will trivialize your symptoms or snicker as they chalk it up to ‘menopause’. It won’t be obvious to anyone that you’re experiencing hormonal fluctuation. They all have bigger fish to fry, so to speak. The other advantage is that you can routinely take out your frustrations on the walkers. Let it all go, girlfriend, as you thrust that knife into a zombies’s skull! Don’t hold back. You’ll hopefully feel a sense of relief, even if temporarily. And don’t beat yourself up over self medicating. No one will give a shit anyways in the world you’re living in.

And try and keep your eyes-on-the-prize! Once you’ve crossed over, you’ll never have to worry about pms, periods or pregnancy again! Although, periods never seem to exist in television anyways, so maybe it’s something you don’t think about.

I truly hope for your sake that you have a very short peri-menopause, or at the least that the severity of your symptoms subside. Your comrades need you back, Carol. They need their matriarch, their sister who always has their back, the girl that always pulls through from them at the last moment. She’s still there. Don’t lose sight of her, and don’t lose hope. In the meantime, fake it ‘til you make it…and have a glass of wine or two, if you can find a bottle in the crazy world of The Walking Dead.




Eeny, meeny, miny, mo….

Well, well, well. Eeeny meeny miney mo will never again summon the same childhood memory of innocently selecting a person or thing for some non challant random purpose. And then there was that eerie whistle used by the Saviors…a little too similar to Close Encounters…haunting. I’m only just now able to type something regarding last night’s episode because my hands have finally stopped shaking. Most of us knew it was coming. And I think it’s safe to assume that we all knew that Negan was bad, bad, BAD news.  Eeny, meeny, miney, mo…. BAD! But I have to be honest; I underestimated the impact that the 6th Season’s 90 minute finale would have on me. It was intensely anxiety provoking, from seeing Carol come completely unraveled, to watching roadblock after roadblock after roadblock of Saviors, to the final drawn out scene leading up to the lethal swing (actually more like sledge hammer blow) of Lucille, crushing down on “someone’s” skull…again, and again, and again.  The sound effects made my stomach wretch and left me with PTSD.

Hashtag: WhoIsIt? In the comic series, Glenn meets his end from Lucille and Negan. But as we know, the television series doesn’t always follow the graphic novel. I don’t think we the viewer will be able to glean any information on who died from watching the scene over and over again. TWD production is too sophisticated to let that happen in the finale. They want us to yearn for Season 7 Episode 1. But I just can’t help but speculate. And in speculating, I can’t help but worry….seriously worry. #WhoIsIt? I’ll eliminate Rick Grimes, because the show truly can’t go on without him. He is really the only one I can actually eliminate with confidence. And as much as I’d like to emphatically eliminate Daryl Dixon from being the victim of Negan’s pay back, I can’t do it with 100% confidence. First off, Norman Reedus was a guest with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, on The Talking Dead. There does seem to be a pattern of inviting deceased characters on that talk show. On top of it, Norman Reedus is starring in a new AMC summer series featuring himself touring around the U.S. on a motorcycle. Makes me suspicious.

Michonne: Much as I feel the show can’t live without her and the fact that they need a strong female character now that Carol is falling to pieces, Rick hasn’t had very good luck with longevity of love interests…Hopefully, for Michonne’s sake, third times a charm.

Carl: While it doesn’t seem like Negan is a fan of kids, I just can’t accept that fate for Carl.  And Neegan did say, right before he slammed Lucille down on someone’s head, that if anyone moved, to take out the kid’s other eye and feed it to his father, which I think pretty clearly indicates that Carl and Rick were “not it”.

Maggie: If we look through the lens of the comic book series, Maggie would be one of the least likely candidates to butt heads with Lucille. But then if the television series wanted to do a 180 degree turn from the comic series, it would make her the victim.

The remaining quintet of Abraham, Sasha, Rosita, Aaron and Eugene could all indeed be possible victims of Negan’s sadistic behavior. Initially, when Negan began his taunt with Lucille, it was clear that Abraham was ready to lay on the grenade for his friends. He postured. But Negan didn’t seem interested in Abraham’s self sacrifice. Negan seems calculating enough to slaughter a lamb…someone innocent…someone unlikely…someone that will suffer just a tad more, while making everyone else watch.

And that frightens me. I fear it in my bones that it might be one of the cherished long term characters who I’ve grown to know and love over 6 seasons…someone I feel we can’t live without within the context of The Walking Dead. #WhoIsIt? Eeny, meeny, miny, mo…. Like Negan, “I simply cannot decide.”,,, I can’t decide.

The 6th Season Finale ended in a grand cliff hanger. Which is a good indicator that Episode 1 of Season 7 will open spectacularly. Not in fireworks fashion, but with intense emotions. We can breathe, we can blink, we can cry. But please, God, we can’t mourn Daryl Dixon.

Happy Valentines Day

First of all, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! And a fine one it was indeed. The opening scene of the mid season premier of season 6 of The Walking Dead could not have been better! Just when we thought we may lose Sasha or Abraham or both, our beloved Daryl Dixon saves the day with an RPG launched just in the nick of time, like cupid himself! Adios Negan’s amigos. Good riddance. No tears shed over that gang’s loss.

But then we switch back to Alexandria. Rick gives Judith to Father Gabriel to ‘keep her safe’. (pregnant pause) REALLY?!! ARE YOU OUTA YOUR MIND, RICK?!!! Then again, Judith does seem to have a really good guardian angel, so we hope for the best. Plus, the producers of The Walking Dead will almost without a doubt spare the baby. Odds are in Judith’s favor that she will survive the zombie apocalypse, at least until she becomes a full-fledged child.

Did a solar eclipse occur over Alexandria? It was light, and then all of a sudden it was dark. And when it turned dark, things all started to come unraveled. And where was everyone walking to anyways? I thought Alexandria was just a few blocks around a pond. But apparently it is a vast sprawling neighborhood that goes on endlessly. We all anticipated Sam’s tragic death. But Jesse? So soon? And Ron? No more branches on that family tree, sadly, partly because both Michonne and Rick seemed to have petite mal seizures simultaneously during that scene that prevented them from reacting to the situation at hand. When have we ever seen Rick or Michonne just stand by and watch someone they care about get eaten by zombies. I was a little put off, I have to say. They did seem to recover, though, when Carl got his eye shot out.

And what about Wolfman? I do believe he ‘changed’ in the end. We all heard him shout to Denise, “GO!” which was a clear indicator that his small heart grew three sizes that day! I think Carol Lu Who felt a few ounces of regret after she unloaded her pistol in Wolfman’s chest. Maybe Morgan was right after all…for a Wolf is a person no matter how small! And just when all seems lost down in Whoville for Glenn, the episode comes around full circle and Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha are there to save the day. Glenn is definitely wearing out his nine lives, but I truly hope that he survives until the very end of the show. In any case, I was relieved to see at least one couple reunite and survive till the end of the episode on this Valentines Day.

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!

Valentine’s Day is Approaching…

I love The Walking Dead marathons. The last few days of December, I was so grateful to turn on AMC and catch glimpses of episodes in between loading the dishwasher and dodging the multitude of commercials. My favorite scene (actually, it’s several scenes…) in TWD is in the last episode of season 4 when Rick, in an aggressive last resort move to stop a desperately bad situation which includes Daryl Dixon being beaten to death and Carl on the verge of being sodomized, bites a guys jugular in a manner that would seriously impress the Salvatore brothers. When I described the scene to my husband (who incidentally has never seen The Walking Dead), and prefaced my description by clarifying that it is truly my favorite scene in TWD, he looked at me with a blank stare before stating, “I don’t get it,” like he had missed the punch line or something. Then I attempted to explain; “It’s not the violence I’m focusing on. It’s the desperation that Rick is feeling. He’s desperate. He’s watching his son being assaulted and his best friend being beaten to death, and he does the unimaginable to save them. Wouldn’t you do that for your child…or me?” The blank stare was now morphing into more of a “you’re scaring me” type of suspicious glare.

This Valentines Day, I have a date with the Dead. We fans are all experiencing a hiatus from TWD, and I’m finding those AMC television flashes forecasting disaster in the second half of the season a bit disturbing. Is The Walking Dead becoming a remake of Apocalypse Now? It certainly seems to be floating deep down into The Heart of Darkness. And that guy who says that everything that belongs to everyone else, now belongs to Negan, well he reminds me of Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now, and Negan sure seems to be a reincarnation of Kurtz (Marlon Brando). And I think we can all recognize a bit of Martin Sheen’s character in Rick.

I’m worried. In the almost subliminal previews of the second half of season 6, Maggie screams out Glenn’s name and she is clearly terrified. Something bad is happening to Glenn. I don’t think I can take another possible bad thing happening to Glenn. We almost lost him earlier in the season and we all shouted “hallelujah!” when he seemed to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. And don’t forget his narrow escape in the first episode of Season 5 when he was next in line to have his throat slit over a large stainless steal sink! Please, TWD writers and producers, let Glenn dodge another metaphorical bullet (or Negan’s barbed wire-wrapped club). At least spare him for Valentines Day. But being Valentine’s Day, well, it makes me worry even more. Those individuals behind the television series of The Walking Dead have proven themselves to be clever people. The name Valentine comes from the word ‘valens’, meaning strong or worthy, adjectives that could definitely be used to describe Glenn. In the short version of the story, St. Valentine was sentenced to death by Claudius the Second, and (brace yourself) was CLUBBED and then beheaded. It does make one think. But would the writers/producers do that to us? On Valentine’s Day? I think not. For one thing, it’s too soon for Glenn to meet his end via Negan, since Negan hasn’t even been formally introduced yet. But there are still several episodes left in the second half of the season and I fear we will have to say goodbye to someone. I vote for a farewell to Negan. I haven’t even met the guy and I already loathe him. In any case, being Valentine’s Day, I would love to see Daryl Cupid Dixon take his bow and arrow and shoot it straight through the heart of someone really bad and evil. Wouldn’t you?




The Walking Dead; A Metaphor (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)

I can’t stop thinking about The Walking Dead in terms of a metaphor for our American culture. I can see several parallels between life in our continental United States and life in this hit television series. Perhaps on a subconscious level, that’s what makes all of us identify with the show. First, lets take ‘the dead’. I see the zombies as a generalization of radical extremists. The zombies in The Walking Dead are indiscriminate killing machines. Similarly, radical extremists are basically killing machines and while they may discriminate on the grounds of ‘we kill anyone who opposes our ideology’, it still becomes an ‘us vs. the rest of the world’ battleground for these individuals. And just like the zombies, radical extremists seem to have zero higher brain functions, operating with basically brain stem activity only. And, they’re usually ugly, just like the zombies.

Now, the living people in The Walking Dead are divided up into 2 very defined groups; the good people and the bad people. It’s very black and white. We all know who the ‘good’ people are, and we all know who the ‘bad’ people are. Here again, I see very clear parallels with our American culture. I like to believe that the ‘good’ people represent Democrats, liberals and maybe arguably some moderate republicans, like John Kasich. And the bad people represent, well, the right-winged republicans, members of the NRA and those who consider themselves conservative. The Governor or even perhaps Negan could definitely be a metaphor for Donald Trump.

While both groups without question want to kill the zombies, the ‘bad people’ (Conservatives/Republicans) want to kill the ‘good people’ (Liberals/Democrats) for no apparent reason. For the past 8 years we’ve watched the Republicans block almost every piece of legislation put forth by the Obama administration and then stomp and turn red like a bunch of Rumpelstilskins when G-d forbid, he passes something like the Affordable Care Act or the Iran Nuclear Deal. Or even worse, when he uses executive order to prevent the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants. It’s almost entertaining to watch those little Republican guys get so angry. And decades prior, we saw in the Clinton administration the Republicans try with great force to bring down a Democratic president and his party by spending millions of taxpayer dollars to dig up dirt on Bill. In the end, all they could come up with were a few transgressions with Monica Lewinski. And did most of us care? I sure didn’t. And isn’t it funny how most of the ‘bad’ people in TWD are white, while the ‘good’ people represent a widely diverse cross section of gender and ethnicity.   In the ‘good’ group, you have not only whites, but gays, lesbians, African Americans, Asians and Hispanics. The ‘bad’ people seem very heavy on male Caucasians with anger and control issues…sound familiar? Does “Republican” come to mind?

I keep hearing Rick’s words when trying to work out a deal with the Governor, “We can live here together, work together.” Haven’t we heard this before from the mouths of our liberal leaders? And what do the conservatives say? Just like the Governor, they scream, “You lie!” and they swing a sword and cut off Hershel’s head. And then we’re all devastated. Oh no. Now what. Back to the drawing board.

And our poor Rick. How much more can he take. We see him teeter and grapple with wrong vs. right, violence vs. non violence. Fortunately, he has his cabinet to keep him in line. Daryl Dixon, Glenn Rhee and Michonne are definitely the moral compasses of TWD. They seem to always know right from wrong, good from evil. They keep Rick in line, and continually save his ass.

Here are my cabinet assignments for TWD ‘good’ characters:

Rick Grimes, President

Daryl Dixon, Vice President

Glenn Rhee, Secretary of State

Michonne, Attorney General

Abraham Ford, Secretary of Defense

Carol Peletier, Secretary of Homeland Security

Maggie Greene, Secretary of Labor

Morgan, Secretary of Veteran Affairs

Sasha, Chief of Staff

Tara, Secretary of Health and Human Services

Eugene, Secretary of Energy and Transportation

Rosita Espinoza, Secretary of Education

Aaron, Secretary of Labor

Gabriel, Chaplain





With Gratitude

Last week’s episode (Season 6, episode 7) left us all with a wonderful feeling of gratitude just in time for Thanksgiving, and we were indeed thankful for the return of our beloved Glenn and his relentless determination to save people, which inevitably may get him killed. I was bracing myself in the last episode for something horrible to happen to Glenn, but quickly took comfort in knowing that the odds of the producers/writers/directors bringing Glenn back just to knock him off again would be highly unlikely.

But now it’s looking like Maggie could possibly be in serious jeopardy with the crash landing of the ‘tower’ and the storm of the zombies into Alexandria. This plot is turning into a role reversal of Romeo and Juliet (sort of…I’m a romantic at heart) with us and Maggie thinking that Glenn may in fact be dead, and then him actually being alive (YAY!!), and now Maggie possibly falling victim to the zombie hoard, only to be discovered all too late by Glenn. There is never a dull moment in this series, which keeps us all gripped and devoted. And where are Abraham, Sasha and Daryl?

I’m sure tonight’s mid-season finale will bring everyone together in what’s likely to be one big TWD cast party, no? And my ideal closure to this Thanksgiving weekend would be to have all of our most cherished characters survive and live on to the mid season premier in February. I would definitely be grateful for that.


Rosie and The Walking Dead (but mostly Rosie)

Rosie - The Best Horse Ever!

Rosie – The Best Horse Ever!

I began watching The Walking Dead on January 8th, 2013, the day my beloved horse died. Her name was Rosie. I had the privilege of riding and caring for her for 10 years. On the day that she died, I was standing in her stall with her veterinarian, Jim Williams, and he was examining her eyes when suddenly she began to sway and stumble and a moment later she collapsed onto the side rail of her stall, eyes rolling back in her head, mouth frothing, legs rigidly moving. Stunned, I said to Jim, “I think she’s having a seizure!” He said, “Yeah! Give her room.” It lasted for a couple of minutes and left me and Jim completely shocked. Witnessing a seizure in any species is disturbing, but to see a horse in a grand mal seizure is frightening.  I could tell we were thinking the exact same thing, when he turned and said, “Jackie. This isn’t good.” A few weeks earlier, Jim looked at her because she had torn a groin muscle, which wasn’t a typical injury for a horse like Rosie. She was 30 years old, in very good shape, excercised regularly, but never too rigorously.   About a week later, I was feeding her a carrot and it looked like she had bite marks on her tongue. I still hadn’t put two and two together until now. It registered, and then Jim confirmed it. “And this isn’t the first seizure she’s had. I bet that’s how she tore that groin muscle.” Rosie stopped seizing but lay in a state of semi-consciousness for several more minutes. The railing was bent and saliva was hanging from the side of her mouth. I leaned over and stroked her face and neck, wiping the drool from her mouth.  By this time, Monte, the owner of Willow Tree Stables had come over, hearing the commotion of the other horses around Rosie. “What happened?” she asked.   “Rosie just had a seizure,” Jim replied. We all stood there speechless. Monte, Jim and I eventually coaxed Rosie back up on her feet. We all knew what this meant. She was 30 years old.  It was most likely a brain tumor. The seizures would start coming more frequently and she had already had at least a few. Someone could be seriously injured by her or Rosie could get seriously injured and then I’d be scrambling for a vet at god knows what hour and watching her suffer while waiting for someone to arrive. Over the next 5 minutes, Rosie recovered from the seizure. During that time, we remained quiet but I could almost feel what everyone was thinking. So I finally said it. “She needs to be euthanized.” Monte and Jim confirmed that this was really the only alternative. I shook my head in desperation, “I can’t have her go to a rendering plant. What about cremating her? Or burying her up at our ranch?” Jim told me to take a few hours with her and that he would return with his neighbor’s truck to haul her up to our ranch after she was euthanized. I was devastated,relieved and grateful, all at the same time.

I had come out to the stables that morning as part of my routine. It’s what I did. I drove my children from our home in Sausalito to school, kissed them goodbye , and I continued out to Rosie. Most days lately, we would hike together on a 5 mile loop, just the two of us. Other days, I would ride her on the trail part of the way and then hike with her on the downhill. The last few years, it became uncomfortable for her on the downhill because of her arthritis, so we would just walk slowly together. She was like a reliable old friend.   In those last few hours, we walked around the stables to the grassy areas where I let her graze. She had many people come and pay their last respects with a carrot or a handful of hay. Rosie was a well known and well loved horse out at the stables. She was the mare that had been out at Willow Tree the longest and was one of the oldest horses there as well.

I had many magical moments with that horse, like cantering bareback through a fern and redwood forest that looked as if it was part of the set for Lord of the Rings. We would soar, she and I, and there were days where I could feel her laughing, saying, “Isn’t this fun? Let’s go faster!” We had no fear and we would go wherever we pleased, trail or no trail. One day, I saw Bambi’s father at the fork of a trail and we came within two feet of him and his magnificent antlers before he leapt over us and disappeared between the trees. We’ve had bobcats and foxes cross our paths, mother deer with their new born fawns, even cattle. But the best moments were those times of Zen serenity alone on the trail with Rosie, spring mornings, usually, with newly sprouted wildflowers and green moss and slivers of sunlight.   This was my heaven on earth. We trusted each other and I truly loved her. I had not anticipated having to say goodbye to her and I was feeling the joy being sucked from my soul through a straw by some unseen force.  To this day, I’ve never gotten that joy back.  It seems a chapter in my life that was written and read and then I had to move forward with the next chapter.

Jim came back, with the truck. And the pink juice. I’d been present for the euthanasia of my little dog, Gryphen, and our beloved cat, Bella. I would be present for the euthanasia of Rosie. The thing that’s so difficult is realizing that they have no idea what’s coming. In the case of my dog and our cat, they very quickly die in your arms, painlessly and with no trauma. It is as if they’re rapidly going to sleep. In the case of a horse, I knew what would happen, but had never witnessed it. They collapse. Jim explained exactly what would happen and that at the moment when he would administer the phenobarbital, I would not be able to stand close because in rare circumstances the horse bolts. But I was able to embrace her and say goodbye moments before, through tears and sobs…”Goodbye, Rosie…we have so many memories together…and I love you so much…goodbye.” And then I stepped away.

A friend from the stables, Natasha, held me and said, “You don’t have to watch,” and I said that I wanted to see her. She stood one moment, and then keeled over and hit the ground hard. It took my breath away. Jim bent over with his stethoscope and I came over and bent down, stroking her neck and mane. She was so beautiful. I think all horses are magnificent. Jim was listening to her heart and then said, “She’s gone.” Yes. Gone. And now what?

My husband met Jim and Rosie up at our ranch outside of Cloverdale. Our tenant Dallas had dug a large whole with the backhoe up by our pond. I wasn’t there when they buried Rosie. I needed to pick up my children from school, make them dinner, feed our dogs. At the end of the day, I put on my pajamas and sat down on the sofa in front of the television screen. And now what? I suddenly felt overwhelming grief at the loss of my beloved Rosie, and devastation at the loss of purpose and routine. I curled up on the sofa and cried. Both of my boys came to check in with me. “Are you okay, Mom?” “I’m really sorry about Rosie”. At the ages of 14 and 16 they had begun to detach from me which is completely natural and expected. But I was always searching for ways to engage them or reconnect somehow. And I cherished these moments when they seemed to care. “Thanks, guys. I’m okay, just really sad. Maybe I’ll watch something on TV.” Then I remembered they had been watching some zombie series, and there was a scene with a horse in it. So I asked, “What was the name of that zombie show you were watching?” My younger son said, “The Walking Dead, but I don’t know if you wanna watch that…it’s violent and people die in it.” “Okay. I’ll think about it.” They both said goodnight and when they left I decided I’d watch the pilot episode of The Walking Dead. At least it would give us a common topic for discussion. I found it ‘on demand’ and watched it from beginning to end. There was a horse that died in episode 1, and it did reminded me of Rosie. But this horse was anonymous, and it died while being ripped apart by zombies. I couldn’t help think about that poor horse…had it been loved like Rosie was loved? What was its history? How long had it lived? Of course nothing really happened to that horse. Zombies didn’t really eat it while it was still alive. But I wondered about it all the same. When the pilot episode was over, I watched the second episode. I spent the next week on and off the sofa binge-watching The Walking Dead and mourning my horse. There would be several other horses featured in The Walking Dead. None of them had very big roles, but I noticed them and thought about them. And I have to say that The Walking Dead has served as a legitimate platform for discussion with my sons, now 16 and 18. We watch it together and we talk about it together. Tonight is Season 6, episode 7. I doubt we will see any horses in this episode, but I’m hoping we find out the origins of the voice calling for help over Daryl’s radio. Of course my boys and I are hoping it’s Glenn. Aren’t we all?


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