Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It Hurts to Love Rats This Much

Literally. Physical pain here, people. I got a new tattoo...first in about three years or so. It's really cute...a couple of rats. On my chest. Yeah, I'm crazy, but that's a whole other post.

Also, I'm nursing a very sore finger right now, as I got a rather vicious bite from my project rat who is having some "issues" adjusting to life as a pet. He and his brother were scheduled to be put to sleep due to their aggression issues. Thumper, the more aggressive of the two, has a broken tail due to human mishandling. Flower, his timid brother has yet to show any signs of aggression. And really Thumper shows more fear than aggression. They'll take yogies from my hand, but then they run back and hide. I got bitten tonight for pushing socialization just a bit too far.

He's bitten me three other times, all of which were my fault. At the shelter I reached into his igloo to grab a cornered rat, never a good idea. And the two other times I forgot to wash my hands after handling my other boys, and since they are so fearful, he reacted out of fear. And he's fast, and I'm not.

I also noticed tonight that he has a slight list to the right, which I'm hoping I didn't really see, because that added to aggression usually indicates a pituitary tumor, and there's not a whole lot you can do for a pituitary tumor in a rat. Lots of other tumors can be removed, but a pituitary tumor is basically a death sentence. Which would be heartbreaking because he's had such a crappy life. He's only a year old, and he's spent the last 6 months being mishandled by shelter workers who know nothing about rats.

You know, I know a lot of people will say, eh, it's just a rat. But this is an animal that was born because of human intervention, and has spent it's whole life at the mercy of human whims. I don't cry when I watch animal shows and the weak baby elephant dies or something like that. That's nature, and nature does what it does for a reason. But, when humans get involved in animal breeding and keeping we are basically being god. You have the power of life and death over your pet, and to not choose life, and a good one at that is just sadistic.

And doing what I do, as far as dealing with rat rescues (and hopefully, someday, other animals) I hear the lamest excuses for not taking care of animals. My least favorite is "Oh, I'm just too busy, now." What the fuck is that all about? You know, I wasn't doing anything exciting before, so I got this here animal to liven up my life, but now things are looking up, so kick rocks little rattie (or kitty, or puppy.) Aargh. Animals aren't just play things. You would never have a child and then say, you know this whole parenting thing puts a crimp in my fabulous life style, so I'm taking her down to the orphanage. She's pretty cute, so I'm sure she'll get adopted. Okay, actually some people do that too...but they're not people I'm inviting over to Sunday dinner, ya know what I mean?

So, bottom line...if you get an animal, you are responsible for that animal for the rest of your life. You don't get an out just because you got a boyfriend, or had a kid, or fuck, I don't know, any of the eight million other excuses people make to rationalize their shitty behavior. If you aren't willing to guarantee that come hell or high water you and Fido are in it together, then get your fuzzy animal fix by volunteering at a local rescue or shelter, and let Fido go to someone who is willing to make that commitment.

Oh...and spay and neuter your damn pets.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Kids Today...

I feel sorry for the generation that is growing up today. The things they won't know, and the fact that as a society we're overprotecting our children. We want to make everything fair and safe and make all the kids feel good about themselves all the time. It sounds great, in theory, that no kid is going to feel bad, ever.

But the thing about kids is they don't stay kids. They become adults, and if adults know anything, we know that life simply isn't fair. Sometimes the idiot who has none of your brains and works half as hard as you do gets the promotion. Sometimes the one you love more than any other doesn't love you. And no matter what your mom may have told you, not everyone worth knowing is going to be interested in taking the time to know you. So, what happens to these kids who've been taught that everything should be fair and that they should always feel good about themselves?

As a parent, I try really hard to keep two things in mind; first of all, my darling little drama queen only has one childhood, and I want her to have a good one, and second (and most important) the whole idea is not to raise a child, but to raise an adult. You know, they're kids for such a short time, so you don't want your seven year old worrying about her weight or something foolish like that, but you also need to prepare them for the world which isn't always a good and wonderful place. They need to be protected, but at the same time, aware that bad things can and do happen, and that, in fact, bad things will undoubtedly happen to them.

For some reason, there's this idea that it's important to protect kids from all the ugly in the world. But, if kids don't know about the ugly, we aren't going to be raising adults who want to change it and do better. Even the history we teach our young children is sanitized. It's no wonder that children today don't understand the importance of Martin Luther King them it's just a reason to stay home from school, play on their playstations and listen to their Ipods.

I worry especially about the message we are sending our little girls. If you've walked down the girl's aisle of a toy store recently, you'll get what I mean. All the toys out there are so materialistic...Barbie doesn't even have careers's all about fashion. The girls in Mean Girls aren't pathetic and stupid, they're role models because they're pretty and have nice clothes. And I think about how far women have come in the last few decades and I wonder if this isn't like thirty big steps backwards, to be raising girls who know alot about Paris Hilton and the latest trends, but knows nothing about things that matter like, poverty and war and Christ, a million fucking other issues that are so much more important than whether or not you have the right shoes.

My generation has been defined as apathetic to social issues, particularly following my parent's generation which fought so hard for social justice. And what will the next generation be? Self centered, self indulgent twits who are shell shocked because they grew up to discover that the world, in fact, does not revolve around them.

So...if you have kids or know kids...don't let them win every game they play. And don't give them everything they want, even if it means that someone won't like them. And if someone doesn't like them, don't call a big conference with the principal and the other kid's parents (unless, of course, some bullying or violence is occuring), teach your kid to accept it and move on with their lives. Remember, these kids are going to be running the world when we're adult diapers...we want them to give a shit about something besides themselves.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Can't Sing

I used to dream about being a singer. Until I was 12 or so and discovered the record button on my stereo. Dream shattered. Anyone who's been stuck in a car with me for any length of time will tell you why. I couldn't carry a tune if you held a gun to my head. I'm like one of the funny rejects you see on American Idol, not just bad, but really, really bad.

That being said, I have a fairly good ear, and a deep abiding love for music and spoken word poetry. For the rest of my days I will sit in audiences and wish I could put my words into pleasing sounds. Really, I can't even recite poetry. Not good when you write poetry. I've got one of those voices that sort of grates and sounds always like I'm alot younger than I am and I have some kind of cold, and my mama should have taught me to blow my nose or something. It's truly wretched.

Fortunately for me, I've had the great fortune to have relationships with a couple of musicians, so even though I can't create music myself, (because in addition to having no voice, I've got no rhythm either, so playing an instrument's out as well) I get to be around it alot. Not that I'm always all that appreciative of the music in my life. In fact, I spend alot of time talking about the pitfalls of being a musician's girlfriend. Aside from the continuous Yoko jokes, there's the constant sense of being excluded from something. It's sort of like when you sit at a table with people much, much smarter than you. (Another common experience in my life.) While it's fascinating and certainly an enriching experience, when you are as dramatic as I am, and have an innate need to be the center of attention, it tends to make you feel about as useful as tits on a bull.

But, I can write. I can put words together in a way that sometimes make a person go, you know, I've never really heard someone say it like that before. I can, from time to time, put the jumble of thoughts in my mind into a form that other people find entertaining. So, you know, if 30 years on the planets teaches you nothing at all, it teaches you to find ways to use what you have to your advantage.

What's all this leading up might be asking yourself. Or if you're not, you don't know me all that well and aren't all that familiar with the long explanations I have for anything I do. Rationalizations really, that usually are way longer than whatever it was I was going to tell you. So, here's the thing. I've been making myself write, either taking little zygotes of ideas and trying to expand them, or going back over old journals and poems and rewriting and rewording, and I found this little, well not so little, poem/song thingy I wrote some years back that I really liked and decided to share with you all.

See, even when you know you can't do something...sometimes dreams don't go away....

Anyway, this here is called Anything But Fine, hope you enjoy it.

Anything But Fine

honey you know i was never much to look at
but lately i've been looking really bad
cause i've been staying up all night
thinking about that last fight we had
there's so much i should have said
so much that went unspoken
and i wish i could tell you now
cause i'm tired of being broken

and i know i never held your heart in my hands
though you know you always had mine
but i really think that if you had to leave
you could have left it behind
after everything we've been through
i can't believe you'd say goodbye
and i don't think i can live this way
this is anything but fine

it's a hard road to walk
when you're walking it alone
and everyday i become more weary
weary to the bone
there's so much i never told you
so many things i never said
now it's all driving me crazy
feeling trapped inside my head
and the path from you to me
is getting longer every day
and i have fallen oh so many times
along the way
don't think i'll ever find my way back
or that you'll find your way here
and all i seem to know anymore
are emptiness and fear

i've been so busy trying to remember
the girl i was before you came
driving down another lonely highway
realizing i'll never be the same
and every time i see you
and every time you call
i get closer to the truth
that we never really knew each other at all
and the road keeps stretching onward
and time keeps ticking by
and i still don't understand
why you ever let me say goodbye

yeah, i know i never held your heart in my hands
though we both know you always had mine
but baby when i left
i left my heart behind
and after everything you've been to me
i don't want to say goodbye
i won't do this anymore
cause this is anything but fine

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Still Scarlett

When I was about 12, I discovered what remains to this day my all time favorite love story, Gone With the Wind. And because I was 12, and no less dramatic than I am today, I desperately identified with Scarlett. The Scarlett who was not beautiful, but made people (especially men) overlook that. The Scarlett who was clever enough to manipulate people and situations to suit her. Who trusted only two women in her entire life, and who clawed and fought to survive.

And nevermind that she never took the time to figure out who she was, what she really wanted, what was best for her, or what would make her happy. I didn't understand the implications of her "I won't think about it now, I'll think about it later when I can stand it..." mentality. Those of you who know me well, know that's always been my M.O. Only, I think I've finally figured out what Scarlett never did...that later never comes. That some doors, once closed will never again open, and some opportunities don't come back around. And that actually, that can be okay. Because no mistake comes without at least the benefit of a lesson learned, or at least a fantastic story to tell at the bar when you meet up with old friends.

It's funny how sometimes you look back with the benefit that comes with hindsight and say, ah, I see now how I thought I was running towards something when I was really running as fast as I could in the other direction.

And of course, I'm still Scarlett, when I'd be smarter to be Melanie. I'm still more fiddledeedee than I'd care to let on, but with a bit of self awareness that would have been fabulous ten years ago. So, I guess the question is, did Scarlett figure it out in time, or is the habit of thinking about it "later" so ingrained that it's too late? Of course, it's not Scarlett I'm all that worried about...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Snake Poo...

We recently acquired a baby ball python. It's a beautiful thing, and ultra fun to watch. I feel slightly guilty feeding him, since he eats mice, the smaller cousin of our lovely ratties, but hey, snakes gotta eat, too...right? The process is slightly gruesome since, for a myriad of reasons, I am feeding frozen mice. You have to set the mouse on the counter for about an hour for it to defrost, then put it in a cup of hot water to bring the body temperature up to something that a snake will find appealing. I try to be furtive and hide my actions from the ratties so as not to disturb them...though since they're predators and just as likely to eat a mouse as the snake is, maybe they would just wonder where theirs was.

Now, when you have as many animals as I do, you sort of become immune to the ickiness of pet excrement. between vacuuming up rat droppings and cleaning litter boxes, feces really has little ick factor at this point. Except, that is, for snake feces. For those unfamiliar with snake poo, it may be the most disgusting thing I've ever seen/smelled in my life. This I would imagine has something to do with their extended digestion process...but geez...

Luckily for both me and the snake (whom we've named Sal-as in Salazar) this is an occurrence that happens only every three weeks or so. Because if this was a daily thing...he/she/it (don't know the sex yet, and we may never since sexing a snake involves either a blood test or something called "probing" which given snake anatomy sounds rather icky) might find itself looking for another home.

The addition of the snake is just yet another step in my quest to become a hermitess living in the woods since about half the people I know hate/fear the rats and the other half are deathly afraid of snakes. It kinda makes me laugh, though, because the python's a whopping 15 inches long at this point, and it's head is roughly the size of a quarter, but it still freaks people out.

I've got my eyes on a beautiful pink-toed tarantula (which is a strictly look and don't touch pet). Cassidy's father says if I get the tarantula he refuses to set foot in the house...hmmm...kind of a bonus I guess.