I work part time at a homeless women’s’ mental health shelter. It is not the most desirable job but it helps to pay the bills, offers insurance (if it ever kicks in) and allows me to assist a population often neglected and discarded in society. The shelter is a new beginning for most of the clients for many come off the streets, jail and abusive environments. The shelter along with health and mental health services provided, offer the clients a chance at rebuilding their lives. Counseling and treating their mental health issues allows the clients to regain control and responsibilities of their lives. The ultimate goal of the shelter is to provide these women permanent housing and the tools to exist in society with a mental illness.

Some of the obstacles the clients deal with:

Unprotected sex
Medical complications-Diabetes,
Hypertension, Anemia
Loss of children and family

I have grown less tolerant of complainers since working in this environment and most especially, complainers consumed with complaining ignoring fortune and gratitude in their lives. The complainers are not grateful for what they have during economic crisis and in comparison to what the clients at this shelter have.

Complainers complain.

I hate my job.
You have a job and have medical insurance.

I do not make enough money.
You have a job, have medical insurance and went to the Met last Monday
night to see an opera.

The job stresses me out.
You have a job, have medical insurance, went to the Met to see an opera
last Monday night and got a pedi/mani on Friday as consolation to the stressed
out work week.

 I am broke.
You make 50,000 a year, live in your own apartment, have a job, have medical
insurance, went to the Met last Monday night to see an opera and got a
pedi/mani on Friday as consolation to the stressed out work week.

This can continue but it stops here.

My LIL Brother

My lil brother’s name is William and he is twenty-five years younger than I. He lives in San Francisco, sharing a one-bedroom apartment with
two others and has supported himself since his late teens. He aspires to and is well on his way towards reaching the high tier level of fashion photography.

Together we share the same father only, so technically our sibling tie falls under the title of “half”. Half brother or half sister, or ‘agnate’ as Wiki states.  Whatever the label, or the politically correct response to those who inquire, my ‘half brother’ is simply, my lil brother.

I cannot and will not distinguish a half from a whole just as I cannot and will not distinguish between a half-filled glass or its’ opposite. We have an emotional bond, some of the same DNA and a host of other psychological thingies not worth mentioning.

On a recent visit to NYC to explore, meet his network and shoot three days of fashion/beauty photography with models and a crew, I realized this twenty-two year old had allot to teach his much older sis. His positivity towards life and his refusal not to drown in the ‘if only’ is infectious.

My lil brother’s visit taught me:

*Self isolation and self medication is not a good thing

*Routines can be stagnant with no opportunity for growth

*Having one’s own place is a blessing and a luxury

*Remain in motion-sometimes going backwards generates the
inertia needed to move forward

*Laugh, smile and explore

*Making do with what you have at the present may be the only
good option

*Food in moderation is good-mass consumption is

*In order to partake in the hobbies you love you have to work to make the money to do so

*Fresh bagels, smoked salmon, cream cheese and an assortment of gourmet olives are an exquisite treat when shared with loved ones

*Walk fast to your destination; walk fast from your destination

*Our father had a strong work ethic that we inherited

*One Bloody Mary during Sunday brunch is quite satisfying

*Family high drama is laughable but remember to brush the remnants off one’s shoulder after its half hour shelf life has expired

*It is okay to hug and say I love you

Park Slope Dogs

There are many types of dog breeds and sizes (owners as well) in Park Slope. One can observe how the two species cohabitate and relate to one another from daily walks throughout the neighbourhood, (Not the ‘hood’but the neighbourhood).

The relationships between the two are complex, dependent and co-dependent, smothering and domineering to name a few, but there are certainly types that stand out throughout Park Slope:

The wrong dog for an athletic owner

Roller-skating with a Yorkie stuffed in a black bag, its head peeking out through a top opening while hung across the back in 90-degree weather. Abuse. Get a pit bull or a greyhound that can keep up with the roller blading and leave the Yorkie at home!

The lazy, multi-tasking, irresponsible owner

The “Oh, I have to pick up milk for my coffee” or the “I have to get my coffee now” or whatever I have to pick up owner, who will take the dog for a walk and on the way home tie it a tree, hydrant, gate, pole, while stopping at a convenience store or supermarket. Left to the elements with no protection and subjected to a possible kidnapping, the dog is defenseless. Would these owners leave their
kids tied to a pole? Neglect. Bring the dog home, than do your errands!

The foodie, whose stomach leads while their poor dog must follow

The restaurant patron sitting in a booth, near the window, in air conditioning while their dog is tied to a nearby  hydrant, in the sun, as they dine on fine cuisine. Stupid. Drop the dog off at home then go out to the restaurant.

The Fashionista/Fashionisto

The owner whose dog is a fashion accessory will have the designer pocketbook and dog that fits into it likely chosen from the headlines in which a celebrity has the breed styling in their Louis Vuitton tote. These dogs are subjected to a method of travel that is questionable and lacking in exercise or doggy socialization. Dumb. What then happens to this year’s designer pooch when next year fashion tabloid dog rolls in? Moreover, heavens forbid the cost of that new designer tote!


You know who you are, pretending to be on a cell call, deep in conversation, while your dog does its business on the sidewalk. Of course, the
conversation is so engrossing and consumes all your attention that as the business gets done and the rear end rises from the squat position, you are on your way, oblivious to what was left behind. SHAME ON YOU!

Congregators and Strollers

The congregators and the strollers are two of the common types of dog/owner relationships seen at Prospect Park. During these special off leash hours, dogs have run of the entire park (no gated enclosures)everyday, starting as early as 5am and ending at 9am and again at 9pm and ending at 1am. For most, the decision to own a dog becomes a reality after spending time there.

The congregators will form packs on the vast lawn with coffee in tow and conversation of nothingness flowing while their dogs run around in packs. The owners absorbed in the conversations and coffees often neglect their dogs. The dogs in turn, big and small and sometimes puppies,  engage in dominance struggles, which usually leads to a small dog under the attack of the domineering dog mob. Meanwhile the owner, whose attention awakens to their dog’s scream, is of no use, because their dog was running with the pack and is far off.

The strollers will walk the length of the park, giving themselves and their dogs time to sniff and mark (the dog not the human, although some dogs may mark a human,) play and run at their leisure, while avoiding the dog packs. The bond between owner and dog strengthens and while training is reinforced and rewarded.

The ‘my dog is my child’ owner

A category I know too well for I am that dog owner.  Toby and Pi Patel are treated as children and that is not an understatement-just ask mom, my mom, and she will confirm it.

I do not have kids nor chose to. As I have mentioned before,“I chose dogs”. My dogs, the boys.

The boys eat kibble with vegetables, cottage cheese, eggs and carrots. They have a home cooked meal of brown rice, beans and assorted
organic meats for dinner. While both have winter sweaters, booties and raincoats, Pi Patel has pajamas. And, yes, both are Mulberry’s NY Press Show models for 2011.

Toby and Pi Patel do not go to groomers. For them groomers represent pain, fluorescent lighting and metal cages. The stress and separation (not on their part but mine) was not worth the $140.00 cost with a finishing cologne spray. Not having money due to unemployment was the initial excuse and after countless tries with clippers, super sharp scissors, doggie treats, bribery, I now comfortably groom them better (at least in my opinion).

My dogs, pampered, even had their own room in our former apartment. I make no excuse or apologize for the way I treat my dogs for whatthey offer me in return outweighs any criticisms or looks (Yes, they get looks of wonder when wearing their winter booties).

For some, the title of ‘owner and dog’ is exactly what itis. I am the owner, you are the dog, and therefore you revolve around me. For
others, a dog is a companion, with needs of its own that we as responsible owners take care of. Unconditional love in return for security, comfort, exercise and food-where else can you find a better deal?