We are all one

We are all one
Jennifer Varenchik

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Meeting of the Ndn Minds

Seattle rocked the house!

I had a moment to think about it, we had San Antonio, Portland, Oakland, Los Angeles (me, woo-hoo), Seattle, Phoenix, Albuquerque and Minneapolis- all representing urban Indian centers at the same table- how cool is that! Other centers wanted to make it, but they weren't able to this time. We officially were there to learn about the Earned Income Tax Credit, what it is and how to inform our communities about EITC. I already knew about it because I attended the conference in Chicago, I was there to hear about the other urban communities. I was so happy to hear that Minneapolis has a Native section in their city! That's one of my dreams for LA, to have a Native neighborhood- our own area in Los Angeles. Can you imagine it, going into the store and hearing pow wow music, or seeing pow wow flyers? I used to think that it was just a pipe dream (lol), but after hearing about it, I know it can happen.

The morning of the meeting, I got up early and ran about 6 miles. I have to say that Seattle is beautiful- it's so green. I saw the sun come up over the water, it was beautiful, even thinking about it brings a tear to my eye. I was never really into appreciating my surroundings, especially when I was younger. But now I do, I see how wonderful it is to be on this earth. But I digress.

So the meeting was good, met all the people representing the various ndn centers and then went back to the hotel. Afterwards I went out for sushi with the Phoenix and Seattle people. We talked and talked! It was so great! We all know a lot of the same people, ndn country is so small. We were all about the same age bracket, and we talked about how the face of our leadership is changing, both in the cities and back home. We talked about how a lot of the older crew still holds grudges against other leaders or organizations- so it's good that the younger ones are coming up (and that's true in LA- the old school leadership isn't too keen on building community). I wish I could just sit and talk to them longer, or more often. Being with other great Native people who really want things to change- I was so happy, I didn't want it to end. We then went to go play pool- which I'm not a real big fan of, but I was enjoying the company- so I tagged along. I was talked into playing teams- Phoenix/ LA vs. Seattle/LA (my partner in crime from LA). Seattle killed!

Soon we started to get tired, so Seattle drove us back to our hotel. I was feeling yucky, just tired and moody, drained- not very social. And wouldn't you know it, so was my friend. So we ordered Mr. and Mrs. Smith, neither one of us had seen it. We loved it! It was just what we needed- mindless entertainment. Once it was over it was time for bed.

Next thing I knew I was on a plane back to LA. I read a lot and worked on some things- that was good. Somewhere along the flight I fell alseep, and woke to gasps and semi-screams. We weren't bouncing around, so I was confused. I looked out my window, we were flying over lava! Well, we weren't really flying over lava, but it looked like it. I guess while I've been gone, all these fires have been spreading. We were flying right over this huge blaze. It was kinda scary. It was really smokey and you could smell it. We were landing in Burbank, which is where one of the fires was located- so when we landed all you could smell was smoke- it kinda burned my eyes. But regardless, I was happy to be back home.

I'm now home for the week, so that's good. I had an awesome weekend. Leia (my dog) and I ran about 7 miles today. Oh, and I caught that movie Serenity with one of my good friends, so that was cool. Oh, and I found out one of the people we were talking about, Kevin Grover, is going to be speaking in San Diego- so I want to go catch him.

Tomorrow I gotta prep for my upcoming entrepreneurship class.

Catch ya later!~J

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I’m in Oklahoma City- boy, it’s humid and hot! I’m here with UNITY (United National Indian Tribal Youth) UNITY website doing a Preparing Native Youth for Life’s Journey training. It’s going great- yesterday we did community assessment and action planning, today we’re going to cover personal mission statements. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I want for my personal mission statement. I had one that I carried with me for quite some time, but recently have forgotten about it (I still remember comparing lists with JL in Pasadena- back a few years).

OK, I’m back. I just took a break and did a personal Mind Map Mind map site for what I want to accomplishment in my life. I was projecting myself into the future and thinking about once my life is over, what are the things that I want to say I’ve accomplished….?

I thought about several things, one of them being raising a healthy family with a strong “prayer partner”, a traditional, spiritual, healthy, educated, self sufficient, happy Native American man….many have remarked that’s a tall order- but I’m not worried, he’s out there somewhere.

Another thing that I want in my lifetime accomplishments is to establish a media empire- publishing and producing. I want to publish books on the history of the Los Angeles Urban Indians, the Native Youth Wellness Movement, and other inspirational/ informational Native subjects. I also want to produce a daily talk show and few motion pictures. So already that’s a lot, but it’s what I’m striving for in my life.

After my mind map, I talked with my mentor- looking at the things that I want compared to how I’m currently spending my time- there is a big discrepancy. I’m spending most of my time in projects that aren’t leading me to accomplishing my long term goals. It’s not that I’m not passionate about how I’m spending my time now- it’s just that nothing that I’m currently doing is what my heart truly wants. And I don’t think that this is just a fleeting desire, every time I do these types of exercises, it’s the same thing- I get the same results.

So I’m at a crossroads- with the limited time that I have, how do I start moving towards my heart’s desire? Did I mention that fear has a lot to do with what’s stopping me? Man, and this is what I do for a living. I help people identify what they really want to do with their lives, and then help them set up a plan to achieve it. So now I’m my own client. I’ve decided to take action now. I’m going to publish the LA community newsletter that I had going earlier in the year. I started last summer, and then kinda put it aside to tackle other things (distractions?). Facing a long flight back home, I think I’ll spend it working towards building my media empire, rather that checking out a movie.

Thanks for reading, just writing this out has helped me become closer to my dreams.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Only The Lonely

Today had to be my best day in Chicago. I'm for a national conference learning more about the earned income tax credit. I've meet lots of reservation folks that have started VITA sites- that's volunteer income tax assistance sites where people will do your taxes for you if you qualify for the EITC. This is a multi cultural conference, but we were able to have a special Native American caucus- so that was cool. It's really interesting, and I don't know anything about this world, so I was kinda feeling overwhelmed the first day- all these acronyms flying around- I was like wait- what the heck! What's a VITA, and IDA?! But now I'm more comfortable and I've picked up on a lot.

I'm sure I'll be writing more about my adventures of getting a LA native VITA up and running by January 2006- if that's what we decided to do. I'm working with the American Indian Children's Council, so I don't know if we are going to just refer people to already existing sites, or if we are going to go for it and start our own- we'll see.

Oh, and I heard a truly dynamic speaker- Mr. David Cay Johnston of The New York Times. He wrote this book called Perfectly Legal, The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich - and Cheat Everybody Else! Here's the link: http://www.perfectlylegalthebook.com/ He encouraged all of us to get in touch with our representatives. Well actually, he challenged us to make an appointment with them, call their office and ask for 10 min. of their time when they are in town. In all the speeches that he has delivered, he has never met anyone who has 1) actually followed through or 2) followed up with him. He gave us his personal email and direct line at the NY Times begging us to let him know what happens- were we denied, did we get a meeting, what happened when you called?! So I met with him afterwards and he knows my rep, says I won't get anytime with him, but I should still try. Hmmm, I love a challenge. He also said that when I call if they ask if I'm a contributor that's illegal- let him know!

After my big day of tax info, I decided to go run. I found the fountain that's in the beginning of Married with Children- ran by that. Then I ran along Lake Michigan- it was so awesome. People were everywhere- and every now and then a hottie would run by me- love the eye candy. I ran to the big ferris wheel on Navy Pier, and then turned back to the hotel. Once I got back I ordered Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and laughed at The Office and was on the edge of my seat to the Nip/ Tuck season premier. After chatting with my bud Jerry and talking about speed dial order (Seinfeld) I now need to turn in for the day.
Tomorrow I go home for a few hours, and then fly off to Oklahoma City.

Oh, and did anyone get my John Candy reference, the movie that was filmed here in Chicago. Or did you all think I'm gettin' lonely out here on the road? I love it out here!

Thanks for stoppin' by

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

So one of the on-line groups that I belong to is "Urban Indians". Someone posted a question about sense of community- does your city have it? Actually, I'm summing up their post extensively, but that's only because I went a little over board with my reply:

Los Angeles, CA- Urban Indian Scene

I would say that here in LA you can have a sense of community IF you know where to find it. I lived here for 2 years and couldn't find one Indian- no pow wows, sweats, pot lucks-nothing! Oh wait, I did see one in a Noah’s Bagels store, she was on her way to the set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (I’m dating myself here), she was wearing a camp dress, looking very stereotypical Native. I was working behind the counter and didn’t get to ask her for the hook-up on where to go, etc.

I had always heard that LA had THE largest urban Indian population, and I wondered where all the Natives were. This was back in '94-'95, and I didn't have the internet, so maybe that had a lot to do with it. And then one day I came across info on the LA Indian health clinic, and before I knew it, I was plugged in!

LA is home to over 138,000 natives, however in a survey of the 3 major ndn orgs./ centers in LA County, when they totaled the amount of clients they each serviced, it only added up to 6,000 clients for all 3. Some of those might be counted more than once, because usually if you are signed up with one organization, you are registered with another as well. Anyways, that means roughly 132,000 are out there like I was, maybe disconnected, wondering where all the Indians are. Or even worse, not wondering. Not identifying with their culture and heritage, but rather assimilating into the mainstream culture.

But back to the question at hand, do we have a sense of community here in LA. For me it’s an overwhelming yes, yes, yes! I have worked for all 3 ndn orgs., and I have thrown myself into the community. But then again, I made the effort because I needed a sense of community, I searched it out.

What about those that are out there that may be disconnected, how do we reach them? One big barrier is funding for advertising. LA is so big, and we don’t all live in one place. There’s a Chinatown, a Koreatown, Little Italy, even the Russians have their ‘hood- but no “Native Village” or “Indian Town”. A program would have to put up a lot of billboards, bus bench ads and have a PSA run at key time, in order to really make an impact. Plus, the above mentioned tools would only reach a small population- currently a “pocket” or concentration of Natives is 150 or less. LA County is broken up into 8 sections, and the largest Indian population in one of those sections is 25,000, the smallest is 7,000. So for every 100 or so that would see the ad, maybe 1 Native would see it.

Another reason is there has yet to be an organized attempt between all the existing programs to come together, pull their resources and make a push to let LA know we are here, there are programs and service to help. Money is tight and programs are very territorial about their clients and collaboration - which is why I believe that working with youth is the best way to go. They aren’t bitter, they don’t care about the politics, they just want to hang out and meet other Native kids. This year, one of the groups that I volunteer with, United Native Youth LA (UNYLA), will be doing a big media push to get the word out about our group. UNYLA is a coalition of the youth groups from the 3 Native organizations, and they specifically work to build a better sense of community for LA’s Native youth. I believe that through our youth we can create a stronger sense of community for the next generation of LA urban Indians.

I guess for those of us that got the hook-up, that were lucky enough to get involved in the LA Native scene, we can say that we have a thriving community here. They tried to assimilate us with relocation, they deliberately placed us in neighborhoods that are great distances from one another, but we found each other. In fact, this is how I know we are a strong native community- people will drive miles and miles and fight the traffic (which sucks big time) just to attend events. We have an ndn basketball league, various youth programs, tribally specific groups (Navajo, Creek, Cherokee and O’odham), churches, pow wows, weekly sweats, American Indian Chamber of Commerce, NAC meetings, dance workshops and of course just plain old get togethers. At each one of these events, you can see Indians from all different nations coming from all different parts of LA County, just to spend a few hours together. You know, there is something about chillin’ with other Indians, especially here in the big city.

And while I got your ear (or, eye…ayyy!), I would just like to add that once we learn to put all the crap aside and come together as a people, we can start making some additional progress in this land of ours. Shooooot, one ethnic group was brought here against their will, yet a few hundred years later they dominate in sports, own their own cable channels, have their own radio stations, are serving in Congress or judges, they’re business tycoons and more. Yet we are here in our own land and we don’t have a TV station- what’s up with that? Here in California we can’t even get the casino tribes to come together to take a stand, or agree, with our current governor. Some tribes love Arnold, others are spending big bucks on commercials to speak out against him.

My people, my people, we gotta unite! We have to support one another. We have to love one another. Our ancestors did not die in vain for us to be petty about these things. They want us to come together and tell this country that we are still here!

So there you have it, a little more than just the LA Native Scene. I don’t know if anyone reads these things anyways, maybe it was just a good exercise in typing.

Comments, questions?

Friday, July 29, 2005

From Sore to Soar!

I’m aching, my body is so sore (how sore is it?).

Today was the beginning of a new journey for me- one that I have been preparing myself for, for quite some time. Today I signed up with a personal trainer at my gym. I know, I know, its' so LA. But I need to be accountable to someone!

Last weekend, while I was learning how to tie a hand drum, an image of the “better Jennifer”, the person that I know that I could be if I strived to be the best I could be, flashed before my eyes. How do I get there? Who is she? Why aren't I her now?

That’s easy, I would say because I’m lazy, I’m really lazy. Not all the time, but enough for me to put on quite a few extra pounds (a few….?). True, I’ve run 3 marathons, working on my 4th, but still, I do not look like a marathon runner. I don’t even think I look athletic.

I’ve been a gym member since 2003, but have not been a regular. I would rarely set foot in there, for various reasons (excuses, really). The lamest and biggest excuse is that it was my ex who paid for the membership, it was all his idea. I don’t need no stinkin’ gym! But the truth is I do. My work out routine is non existent and I need to be accountable to someone. So I made it one of my goals to call the gym and check out the personal trainers. I finally get around to it Thursday. They tell me I could come in today, if I wanted. I know myself, I need to take action ASAP or I won’t do it. So 45 minutes later I find myself at the gym asking for “Joey”.

Joey looks like a trainer, he’s Asian and probably in his late 20’s. He starts asking me all kinds of questions about why I’m there, what’s my goal, how active am I, etc. I start answering his questions, and then remember back to when I was in the best shape of my life. I was in high school; I had 2 personal trainers because I was in recovering from a torn ACL. I was a soccer star, I had one personal coach and one personal trainer that worked me out. I was fit and boy, back then, I looked good. I don’t even know what my body fat was, but it was low. Now all I have to show for it is a big scar on my right knee. Most people look at it and just get this blank stare, kinda like a “poor her”. Those looks are especially from “girly girls”. But I love my scar and I’m proud of it- and it’s a great conversation starter…lol.

So anyways, it turns out that the image that I had of myself was also part of my body memory, remembering back to when I was fit. As Joey was putting me through physical torture, he was telling me that my muscles will remember, they have memory. They will remember what it was like to lift weights and be pushed to the limit. After every exercise Joey would ask me, “How do you feel girl?” and I forced myself to respond, “Good!” I decided that no matter what he threw at me, I would do it, I wouldn’t complain and I would smile. Towards the end I wanted to quit, it was really hard, but then I closed my eyes and remembered back to my goal image. He was there all along, coaxing me “only 5 more girl, come on, 4,3,2,- you’re done!”

Crunches, sit ups, dips, squats, running laps (they have a track inside)- by the end of the session I felt good and tired. He told me to go home and eat. No problem there, that’s what got me into this situation in the first place.

So all day I’ve been drinking water and feelin’ pretty good. I got to hang out with my good friend Bel, she’s my hairstylist. We’ve been friends ever since I moved to LA. We were pretty wild back then, but now she’s married to Michael Dudikoff. He’s an actor best known as the “American Ninja”. So I got a hair cut and we agreed that next we we’re gonna hang out at the beach. Woo-hoo!

I’m set to meet with my regular trainer tomorrow at 7am. I requested 6am, but when he called to confirm, I changed it to 7am. I’m gonna hit the hay early tonight, sometime before midnight. I want change in my life and a part of it is getting my sleep patterns back on track- no more 3am bedtimes here.

Oh, and if I had a digital camera I would take one of those “before” pictures in a bikini- NOT! Come on now, I'm not about to do that! But I’ll be sure to prance around in much cuter clothes this time next year. :-)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Various thoughts from Dr. Jen

It’s now after midnight, this is the first time I have a minute to sit and think about the past few weeks.

Wow! I have been so busy! It all started in early June, with the Torres Martinez tribe in Palm Springs, CA. I was out there doing an entrepreneurship class, and then moved on to Elko, NV for another week long entrepreneurship camp. From there I went to Lake Tahoe to work with the Washoe tribe for Native Wellness Institute. Over the 4th of July I went home to the Tohono O’odham reservation- but that was a very quick visit. Let’s just say it didn’t go the way it was planned to go….I ended up spending the weekend at the Gila River Wildhorse Pass- which was an awesome alternative!

I was a little disappointed, more hurt by my biological family- but I guess that’s what happens when you are surrounded by unhealthy living. Oh, but the cool thing was that I got to spend time with my great aunt, who helped me with learning some O’odham language.

So, back to the road….After AZ, I was sent to San Diego for the UNITY conference. That was the best UNITY that I have ever attended! Mostly because I was able to hang with 2 of my most cherished friends- Robert Johnston and Kel Jones. Even though the hours were so long, every morning I woke up so jazzed that I was getting paid to work with 2 awesome people. To top it off, I was able to bring 2 up and coming leaders from Los Angeles, Sandra Sanchez and Shondiin Gonzales. I was happy to introduce them to my mentor, Jeri Brunoe Samson. So yes, UNITY was cool.

Oh, and I learned a really great lesson. I headed out to UNITY with the notion of working with the youth- but then was thrown a curve by being told that I was in fact going to be assigned to the ADVISORS! I was kinda upset. I didn’t complain or say anything, I just went to my room and prayed about it. I realized that if that was where the Creator wanted me, then that was where I was going to go. As it turned out, it was the best thing for me. I had a blast meeting all the advisors and chaperones.

So learned to always go with the flow- if I am truly to be an instrument of the Creator, then I relinquish control and let Him guide me where I am needed.

My travels didn’t stop there! Right after UNITY, Jeri and headed to the LA airport and flew into Spokane, WA and then drove over to Couer D’Alene, ID. We were there for another week, with White Bison. I was there for the Daughters of Tradition training. I almost got to see Randy Travis- but that’s a whole ‘nother story (huh, Mona). I also had Louella set up an intertribal arranged marriage for me. On the last day of training, one of the elders asked if her grandson, who is currently stationed in Iraq, could get a hold of me when he gets home- LOL! Our class was full of elders, they were there with the “Adopt a Grandma” program, that was cool. I sure learned a lot from them. And, hey, I may have gained a future husband- LMAO!

So all those travels lead me up to my proudest moment this summer- UNYLA’s youth summit. Because of the…hmmmm, what’s the word….animosity…? Well, let’s just say not all the Native organizations get a long here in LA. In October of 2004 we set out to change that by starting a youth coalition from the 3 main LA native organizations. We have been meeting for 9 months and this past weekend’s event was the culmination of their work. Our goal was to not have any adults on the stage, that it would be the youth in front, it was their show. Let me tell you, I had to fight back the tears as one by one the youth took the stage. Their words were so powerful! We could leave, move or even die, and UNYLA will still go on- they have taken ownership and have what it takes to keep it going.

Not only did I get to see the next wave of LA leaders born, but I also got to meet some great people. First, let me start with I was so happy that I was able to fly out my young nephew to attend the summit. He was out here for spring break, and I took him to one of our planning meetings. He met a lot of the kids that I work with, and a lot of the LA ndn community members- man, I dragged him all over! We had fun, too, but he did have to put up with 2 work days.

Anyways, I was able to bring him out and I know he had a good time. My sister called me to tell me he couldn’t stop talking about the summit and the people he met. One of which I was also glad to hang with, DJ Abel. He DJ-ed for the youth dance, and he also gave 2 workshops. He taught me about gravitas- an important political word......but I'll stop there, that's another blog.

I also got to spend some time with Donavon Barney, Abel's cousin. I first met Donny at this year’s UNITY conference. He spoke some great words at the youth forum and he also sang the National Anthem on UNITY Talent Show night. Donny made a big impression on one of LA’s community members, Ben Hale. I just heard that he got into a big entertainment internship up here in LA (he's from San Diego area), so I have a feeling we will be seeing him up here more often.

Well, all this reporting, I didn’t even get to my main topic- why I named this entry “Dr. Jen”. In short, in the last 2 days, I have received phone calls- some in the middle of the night, from friends of mine, who needed a friendly ear. I guess I’m just happy that first of all, I have friends! And that I could be there for them. Those guys know who they are, and I boys- I love you. Thanks for thinking of me to turn to- I hope your minds rest easy. I will carry your thoughts with me when I go to ceremony.

Up next, thoughts about the big decision that I have to make- and don’t want to….
Peace, thanks for stoppin’ by-
Jen (Jen-nai, to some)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Ahhh, correction! It was at ELAC, they rescued us at the last minute- what a Godsend they were!

A New Beginning for LA Natives!

Woo hoo! What a night! I have just come back for the American Indian Children’s Council (AICC) first big community event, and boy was it great!

How it all began....

Ok, so I’ve been a member of the Children’s Council since it first started. My interest and participation has waxed and waned- but as of late I’ve become fully consumed with the AICC. It began last year when Chrissie Castro and I sat down to write out a portion of the AICC 04-05 workplan. Since I have worked for or with all 3 of the major Native organizations in LA (UAII, SCIC and TANF) I had noticed that we lacked cooperation and communication between our community programs- specifically youth programs. I had a dream of bringing youth from all 3 of the organizations together as a council to help build our community. So Chrissie and I sat down last year and planned out “United Native Youth LA”- our new Native youth coalition. We hosted a back to school night in October, 2004 as the kick off to UNYLA. We now hold weekly regular meetings and are getting ready to hold our first youth summit July 16th. It’s been going great so far, and in just a few weeks 3 of our youth are heading to an indigenous youth conference in Vancouver sponsored by the UN (United Nations).

Fast forward to June, 2005....Seeing results from our youth coalition, we journeyed into the realm of adults. We recently got word that LA County wanted to start getting more feedback from the community about how to help direct their services. The County funded community forums that are being held through out LA County, in various communities during the months of May and June. June 10th was the American Indian community forum, held at East LA College. Our goal was to get at least 100 LA County Native Americans together so we could start talking about what our issues are as a community.

Well, I’m happy to report we hit our mark! It was absolutely fabulous! Fortunately I didn’t stop to think about the power of getting so many Native community members together in one room, or I would have broken down. I had been praying for the forum ever since I had heard about the project. I was so good to see so many Indians in one place, and then to hear their comments and concerns- what else could I want? Now, all I’m concerned with is following up on people’s recommendations- seeing how we can implement people’s suggestions.

I’ll be getting back to all of you out there in the internet world. I still need to digest and reflect up what happened at the forum. But I thank the Creator for bringing us together and helping get so many great suggestions for our LA Native community.

Next project- getting ready for the Tohono O’odham Nation visit to Los Angeles. One LA community project down, one more to go…..and after that I’m off to Nevada for a Native youth entrepreneurship class and then to Washoe Meeks Bay for a Native Wellness youth gathering….what a summer and it’s only just beginning.


Friday, January 07, 2005

My Hana. Posted by Hello
We had just finished hiking in Eaton Canyon, she was resting after playing in the water. That day was probably one of the best times we had together.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

My Han(a) Solo

Hi Cyber world-
It's been quite some time since I hit the keyboard, but here I am once again.
Let's review! Since May 2004 I have: Traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I not only conducted my first Daughters of Tradition training, but I also met and spent time with the Tiger sisters (Dana and Lisa).
Held Daughters of Tradition trainings in Grand Rapids -Michigan, Great Falls- Montana, Sacramento- California and Albuquerque - New Mexico.
Put together my first conference called "Strengthening Our Community" on the Ft. Duchesne Ute reservation in Utah. 3 days of wellness, fun and learning!
I resigned my position working with the SCIC youth council, with great regret, but I am looking towards the future.
In Sept. ’04 I started training again for the 2005 LA Marathon
and….I've unfortunately just recently lost my dog, Hana. I thought I was doing well with it, but I guess I'm still grieving. I miss her a lot. In fact, after just having a moment thinking about her prompted me to start writing again.
I haven't really shared with any of my friends about her death. Dealing with death is kinda personal and I don't want to bring anyone else down. I know I am definitely a dog person, but not everyone out there loves animals. I'm choosing to wallow in my pain by myself- just deal with missing my Hana in my own way. Man, she was a great dog.

So I guess that's where this entry is going, talking about the death of my beloved Miss Hana. That's what we would call her, Miss Hana, or Han-Han or Hanaleya or plain HANA!, when she was in trouble- which was a lot.

In Burbank there is this public access show that features animals from the Burbank pound, advertising them for sale. We used to always watch that show, clap aloud "Dog Show" when it would come on, and kinda browse the pets. But one day, Manuel saw a dog that he said would be the perfect companion for our other dog- Leia (Yes, as in Princess Leia). When the show re-ran, I caught a glimpse of her- ohhh, she was soooo cute. The show said she would be available the following Tuesday. When Tuesday came we jetted over to the Burbank pound, we were the first ones there when the doors opened. I remember the worker thought we were crazy. We said that we saw the little black and white dog on the dog show (clap- clap....never mind), and we wanted to buy her. We asked if anyone had inquired about her, was it too late? Had someone else put a bid in on her before us? Nope! He said sometimes he wondered if people even watched the show. A lot of the pets don't get any buyers, she was still there.

He warned us she was a little traumatized. The found her abandoned and tied to a pole in a local Bank of America parking lot- she was just a month or two old. She needed lots of love, and we were ready to give it to her. With a quick signature and a few bucks she was ours. I was so happy! There she was, in a box in my front seat. I took her to work with me that day because I wasn't sure if she would get a long with Leia- so we would wait to introduce them until that evening. And so we named her Hana, as in Han Solo, but a girl....yes, I know I'm a Star Wars freak (episodes 4, 5 and 6- not the new CG ones).

Hana and Leia got a long great; they instantly took to each other. Times were wonderful, lots of walks, playing, rolling around on the ground cuddling our dogs.

But then, about6 months after we got Hana...maybe it was a year, they started fighting. It was pretty bad. Once Manuel tried to separate them and he got bit- we had to go to the ER for stitches. We would separate them during the day while we were at work, I could barely sleep- it was a bad time. We were told they were fighting to see who would be the Alpha dog. Leia would always win. I don't remember how long that phase went on, maybe a few weeks, but once it ended I was so relieved.

The only other dark period we had was this one time that Hana ran out in the street and got hit by a car. She dashed out the door, wouldn't come back when I called her, but then came limping back seconds later. I rushed her to the vet and they fixed her up- not much damage other than to my wallet.

What I remember most about Hana was her ability to jump. Man, she could catch some air! The neighbors behind us said they would trip out on her. They would be in their backyard and all they would see is this little head popping over the fence every now and then- like she was on a trampoline. In fact, it was more of a hop than a jump. We would watch the dog Olympics, where they would compete with Frisbees and stuff..... and I would think that Hana could be doing that- she would kick all their butts- she was the highest jumper I had ever seen.

Once I moved in with my Grandmother, our time together was limited. I do remember one time that they came over, I got nervous because Hana left paw marks all the way at the top of the fence from her jumping. Some of them are still there, I'm glad about that.

Well, now here comes the bad part of the story, how Hana died.

Over Christmas Manuel took Hana and Leia to his family's house in Palm Springs. They were hanging out with the other dogs, just chilling- everything seemed cool. Manuel had commented that Hana would act kinda timid around the other dogs whenever he brought them out the desert. He would ask why she was such a wuss…we guessed she had some “issues” with being abandoned and maybe all the fighting she did with Leia when they were younger. Acting timid didn't make any sense, the other 2 dogs are tiny- one's a pug and the other is a Chihuahua.

Dec. 26th I got a call early in the morning asking for me to call Manuel back- I knew something was wrong. When we talked, he told me that Hana was in the hospital, she and Leia had gotten into a fight and it looked really bad- really bad. They hadn't fought for 3 or 4 years.....I don't remember a lot of the specifics that he said- just that the Dr. said she might not make it- he would know more after 3pm and he would call me then. I went down stairs to talk to my mom- I was really worried. I prayed for Creator to protect my Hana- please, please let me see my Hana one more time. Please let her be ok, let her make it through and I would do anything. 3pm came and they said that she had 50-50 chance; they needed to hold her over night for observation. Her pulse was weak, the nurse said that she didn't really respond to touch. I asked Manuel if he had seen her yet and he hadn't. He said he would go check on her and call me back. A little while later he called me and let me know that she didn't look good, but she wagged her tail slightly when she saw him. Yes! I was relieved- she was going to make it. We agreed to talk in the morning after the vet's office opened.

The next morning they decided to go ahead and finish giving her stitches and she could go home in the late afternoon. I told Manuel I would watch her while she healed. I got my room ready for her stay- I was looking forward to waiting on her, being there for her while she recovered. Manuel said he would drop her off at 7am before he went to work.

Tuesday Dec. 28th, Hana came to my house in Van Nuys. Manuel carried her in on her bed. She looked bad- stitches all over and a tube for some draining...it was hard to see her that way. Manuel said that she had been whimpering most of the night, so she might do that through out the day. I got all the instructions for her pills, etc. and said I would call him with a report in a few hours. Around 10am Hana started whimpering, I didn't know what to do. I lied on the floor next to her, put my head on her bed and was stroking her head. I remember her looking at me, she moved a little closer and gave me a kiss on the nose. I was talking to her softly telling her I was so sorry that this had happened to her. I gave her some water and prayed that she would be ok.

Soon her whimpers had turned into cries- she was in pain. Manuel called and said I could give her a pill early, but not too early. I told him she was really in pain, she was moaning. He said he would call the Dr. He called back saying we could give her one an hour early, I just had to wait a little bit.

I couldn’t stand her crying- it was like screaming. Plus, she had kept inching off her bed and sticking her head under my bed. I didn't understand why she was doing that. She did it twice- I thought maybe she was uncomfortable, so I laid her down on some towels on the floor. She didn't like that either, she kept putting her head under my bed. I moved her once more, facing her the opposite direction this time. I leaned her bed against a chair off to the side. She somehow inched her way and hid her head under her bed- whining and crying. I was freaking out, nothing was helping her. I laid on my bed and prayed to make her ok, please Creator, just make my Hana Ok. I could hear the next door neighbor commenting on the whining sound coming from our house- wondering what it was...it was that loud. Then it stopped. I thought, oh good, she fell asleep. I relaxed for a few minutes. But then I knew- I knew what it was. I jumped up and threw her bed back- Hana had passed away. For a second, I was relieved- she wasn't in pain anymore. I sat next to her for a second, petting her, thinking about our time with her. I then called Manuel at work. He answered and I didn't even say anything- when I finally spoke I just said "No, Manuel No! No!" He knew what I was talking about and said he would be right there.

I then called my mom and stared crying hysterically- why? Why did she have to die? I miss her already. My mom listened and comforted me. I then called my dad, a little bit calmer this time. He got upset over the phone. He said it brought back memories of his dog Goober that had passed away recently and of another family dog we had growing up- Sweetie. I then called Lucius, he was aware of Hana's situation and offered support.

Once the calls were through, I walked out of my room and told Joy (Grandma's caretaker) and my grandma. Grandma had no idea what I was talking about, but Joy did. She said she was sorry for my little dog. I went outside and started looking for a place to bury Hana. Shortly Manuel arrived and finished digging the hole we started in the back yard. We wrapped Hana in a little thin blanket and placed her in the ground. Before we covered the hole, we both talked about what a wonderful dog she was.

Oh, Hana, you were awesome. I know you never really recovered from what happened to you when you were just a puppy- but we did the best to provide a good home for you. I will miss you coming to the side of my bed in the middle of the night to give me a kiss, and then going back to your bed. I'll miss watching you jump and I'll miss trying to get you to sit still in my lap so I could hug and hold you. I wish you were here so I could hug you one more time...but I am grateful that I got to see you before you left. I look forward to seeing you when it's my time to go.....

So here we are today. One of the things my dad told me was to not hold it against Leia. She doesn't understand what she did. Poor Leia. Her only companion is now gone, she's all alone. I went over there the other night to take her out on a walk. She was so happy to see me. I'm going to go over there more often and have her come stay with me more frequently.

Man, it feels good to write about Hana. In some parts, tears were streaming down my face as I typed. This entry is more for me than anything. This is how I deal with my pain, I write.

Tomorrow is another day. I've resolved to keep blogging - so I will probably write about some of the other stuff that has been happening with me- all good.

Thanks for reading and check ya later!