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I felt nervous to ask the zoo a question. I needed them to know I haven't been in in a while because my feet hurt. But, like, I don't want to tell them my whole life story, and sound like I'm giving a sob story in order to give excuses about why I haven't been volunteering.

But "my feet hurt" does not give the severity of the story, either. I can get through a few hours of volunteering. But even one hour walking around the zoo will spell trouble for the following day, in which I'll be using a cane because my fucking feet hurt SO badly.

SO! I wrote the zoo and explained I have a foot tendon issue that I'm seeing the doctor for, and as I recover, if needed, could I borrow a wheelchair from the zoo? I've written the email in my head for weeks, but kept telling myself, no... I don't need to ask about a wheelchair, it's not THAT bad, is it? I don't want to take away from the zoo guests and be using a chair when someone else might need it more. Then I thought, dude, what if they just HAVE a wheelchair that no one ever uses, and it's sitting there, and they'd be like yeah sure, here you go. Like why am I torturing myself here?

So I asked! I wrote the email and hit send. That was yesterday.

This morning, they replied! They said they didn't have an actual answer for me, yet, but they're looking into it, and that this has been an ongoing discussion with the zoo about whether or not they should have wheelchairs reserved strictly for volunteer use. And then she said my question might help prove that there IS need for one!! OMG! I'm so glad I trusted that it was ok to ask, and just asked. Maybe it'll help others, too!! <3

Good news is today I saw my new podiatrist, and I LOVE HER. She took x-rays of my feet. And omg, I have bone spurs!! She said I have to do what I can to prevent them getting bigger. They won't go away, but they won't cause problems forever if we treat my symptoms and prevent them getting any bigger.

She took actual casts of my feet, like with the cement material cloth stuff in warm water, and pressing it into my feet to create weird little ballet slipper looking things that they're going to use to make me my new orthotics, which I'll get in two weeks. I AM SO EXCITED!!! Being in pain suuuuuuucksssssssssss, and this should help a lot.

The Plan: I will be using an anti inflammatory gel 3x a day, stretching 3x a day, taking an oral anti inflammatory once a day, heating my calves with a heating pad and then using a rolling pin on them once a day (10 min for heat, 1 min rolling), and avoiding walking uphill, downhill, or using stairs, as much as possible, for the next two weeks.

And then in 2 weeks, I have my followup appointment to get my orthotics and see how much things have improved.

All right. I'm ready. Project Heal These Dang Feet Already commences now!!
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I am going through some old things, sorting papers. So much paper!! Omg. I found a file with a bunch of stuff from late middle school, and early high school. Here's one piece of fiction writing I did. I must not have liked it too much, as there were large lines scrawled lightly through it, as I used to do when I just dismissed something. But I liked it enough to keep? So anywho, here it is, transcribed exactly as I wrote it on the page back in... 1992 or around then... ~~ (funny that it's an entire hand written page on school paper, and it's super short typed out!)

= = =

This, the city of Iresdale, was a very lonely place. Beautiful though it may be, Charlotte Banks craved something more than tall trees, green grass, green hills, green plains, small cottages, big open sky, an abundance of land, and an extraordinary shortage of people. And the entire time she had lived there (over half her life) she had yet to meet someone she truly liked.

Orphaned at age eight, Charlotte had been very depressed. Her loving foster parents adopted her and took her to live in a beautiful house. But they put her back in the orphanage after she set their curtains on fire. Only one room was lost. She was visited by more people over the next four years of her life, but none that adopted her. She refused love or attention and kept very much to herself. After a while, she just stopped talking. No one wanted a little girl who wouldn't talk, and the older she got, the less she was wanted. At age 12, Charlotte was sent to a boarding school.
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A little girl in an attic sought to be quiet enough to be safe, sought refuge with a pen in the pages of her little book of blank spaces waiting to be filled. She didn't know her words would be spread worldwide, filling the blank slates of tiny humans who can barely comprehend her journey, or why things played out like they did, why she was taken from the world.

A little boy of the same time grew up, observed, took in, and spoke out. This isn't right, he knew. This shouldn't be. He shared with us his Dream. And then someone took him from the world, too.

Get rid of these things, the Takers said of these fine people. I don't want things to be equal. I want things to be more equal for ME! the Takers cried.

Another writer had captured the Takers remarkably well in his own pages, painted them as pigs and sheep, an insult to the pigs and sheep, really.

What the little girl, the Dreamer, and the writer all sought after is the longed-for treasure of Truth And Equity.

And we still seek it.

The truth is, it's a game to the Takers, a game of money and greed. The truth is, it doesn't have to be this way. The truth is, we can do better. So much better than a bully for a President, ripping families from other nations apart, letting children die in ice boxes, and building a giant wall to protect us against what they say is Other, but is really Us.

We can take down that wall, and all the others. We are holding our hammers. We just need to raise them up, as we raise our voices to be heard.

And when we need help seeing how ridiculous it all is, there is nothing more illuminating than a gathering of little children, just like the child in the attic, the little children who sit on the floor, surrounded by volumes and volumes of words that have been put down on blank pages, as they ask, "but why? why was it ever this way?" And we who are grown like the man with the Dream, who share his dream, can only say, why indeed. And clench our grip tighter around the handles we are carrying.

Hard work may make our palms sweaty. But we will not lose our grip.
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Gather round, children, and I'll tell you a tale. This dark, dank, and crackly, weary forest? Was once a place of illumination. There were shadows and times even wholly darker than now. It has ebbed and flowed with the oceans of time. Waves of darkness and light. But the reason it's changed? The sole reason? Is not simply the light itself... But the light bearers! All working together. That is the secret I share with you today!

The light bearers seek to spread light wherever they can. It's not easy to battle against the Decay, that gooey, tarred and rotting force that oozes into the nooks and crannies of our home, at first unnoticed, then rotting the land from the inside out. The light bearers, though, they're hard at work, always.

Right now, children, there is a goblin who has returned. He wants to spin the light into gold purely for his own greed. Do you know his name? Do you remember it? Yes, that's right - Rumplestiltskin. The better you remember that truth, that he is not your friend, that he seeks only riches for himself, at any cost to life around him, the safer you shall be. Don't let him convince you to be afraid. Fear is the tool he uses to wield his power, and pull others into the Decay with him. He's trying to wall off the light now. He wants to build a dark barrier, and expects to take over the whole area, for everyone in the forest to see things only how he does, through the lens of the Decay. Is that what we want? Right, of course not, my lovelies.

We need to be light bearers, together. We need to hold the light close, and plant seeds of it wherever we can. We can regrow the illumination, can't we? Yes, yes, it IS possible.

Let's do this now... close your eyes and hold out your hands... Yes, do you feel that? Open your eyes and see. I've given each of you the last of the small seeds of illumination, right there in the palm of your hands. Will you go out and seek, children? Plant these seeds, nurture them and seek their growth, and most importantly, seek out any others you can find. Will you? Will you grow this light, and seek out the light bearers? Can you do that, my darlings? It's the only way to discourage Rumplestiltskin from taking over, from infecting others with the Decay. We shall seek, and find, and little by little, grow the light again. Let's illuminate our forest lands, my children, and let's do it together.
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You'd be turning five years old this week. Going to kindergarten in the Fall. I never even got to the second trimester with you (we were just one week from that goalpost). In the grand scheme of things, it was so short a time, just 13 weeks, that there are times I don't want to grieve you anymore, and don't want to think of you. I'm sorry to admit that to you.

Many people think we mothers shouldn't. Think of you, that is. Mourn you. As if it were a choice, anyway!

Maybe we shouldn't get attached so early, some people believe. But how could I not? That's certainly not a choice either, how deeply and wholly we fall in love.

I believe(d?) in throwing myself headlong into the bliss I felt when I first found out about you. So I did. I sank into it, and settled there as comfortable as a robin in its nest. The familiarity of the nausea. The dreams I carried for you, everything from being kissed from outside my belly by your big brother, to you and your brother laughing, arguing, attending each other's weddings.

And then you were just impossibly... gone.

Grief runs through my veins some days, like molasses or liquid lead, slowing me down, heavy with the weight of mourning. Some days, I am able to think of you with a sense of calm and at peace, knowing the raw open wound of losing you couldn't stay so very wide open forever. Some of it has healed, the hole has grown smaller, though the scar remains forever.

And then there's the feelings about the feelings. Mostly guilt. Guilt for feeling ok. Guilt for feeling not ok. I'm learning to untie the knots of binding that guilt has wrapped around me. I'm getting there. I'm good at undoing knots.

* * *

And then there's you, my son, the Boy Who Lived, not to steal from Rowling, of course. You even look a little Harry Potter-ish at times, Homer, with your bangs swooping across your browline, and your glasses perched on the bridge of your nose.

You know about The Lost Baby (which also sounds like a novelization of sorts), and it's good that you do, I think. I know you've grieved her too, telling me you wish she'd made it. Me too, sweetheart.

I say her and she, but I don't know really. She was someone to me, so she became more, she became her. She became Marie. And she remains forever in my memory.

And you, dear sweet Homer, I feel such intense gratitude for you. You don't even know. How could you, though? I loved you in my dreams, long before I ever became pregnant. And from the moment I knew of your poppyseed sized presence within my womb, planted there, growing in me, I laid my hands on my belly, and said "Hi, Baby," as joyful tears ran down my cheeks. You're quite literally a dream come true.

It's funny how things evolve, I think. I *expected* a huge wave of love the moment I met you, and for that love to remain at that heightened state for all time, 24/7. I thought that's what people meant when they spoke of the strength of a mother's love. But it's different, and deeper than that.

I did feel immense love for you when I found out about you, and all through my pregnancy, and definitely from the moment I first held you. There was that intense wave of love that hit me hard when you were two days old, and I sobbed with the beauty of it all, as all my pregnancy memories replayed and I stared into your gorgeous sleeping face, seeing it all again, going to the mall, sitting on the couch, the visits with friends who felt you kick, all of it now through the lens of knowing it was you, it was always you that whole time, within me, and then without, lying right there in my lap, instead of my belly.

But that insane level of love can't remain at that intensity all the time. But it can and does course through me, and it does envelop me like a second skin, so sleek and so much a part of me, that I often don't actively think of it, yet it's always there, and it's so vitally important that I'd be nothing without it.

I carry you with me wherever I go in the world. I feel like people must see me and just know that I have this little boy that I love to the ends of the universe and back again. It must be that obvious, mustn't it?

It's hard to describe the love for your children, Homer, the kind of love that makes everything else matter less. The kind of love that remains even when you're furious with me, even when I'm furious with you, the kind of love that transcends paltry things like time and space. I've loved you before you existed, and will long after I no longer do. I love you for every day that I've known you, and every day that is to come. I love you well into your years of adulthood, as a grown man cuddling his own children (I see it so clearly), and I love you into your time as an old, gray-bearded man. This is a love I send to you, a stream of steady golden light under your feet, to carry you through this life.

* * *

And Marie, my love for your brother showed me how to love you, too. Fully, wide open heart, from the very start. It's no wonder, is it? I had an amazing example to draw from. I want you to know without a doubt: I love you too. From before you ever existed, through all the future dreams I carried for you. I'm sorry you didn't get to experience all of it. But I'm so glad that you were here, within me, and that you were treasured the entire time you were known. I treasure you still.

* * *

I treasure you both. Thank you both for showing me this light; it glows in my heart, for all time.

Love always,

Rats = <3

Jan. 3rd, 2019 01:13 pm
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Meander's kid has a pet rat now, named Girled Cheese (because she's a girl, get it? hehe), and I am completely enamored by her, and now I want a pair of rats. Or a trio, after a bit of research yesterday.

Help, I have a new pet fascination, and I'm falling down the rabbit hole!!

How are rats SO cute and cuddly? I had heard they were, but to experience it with this little darling has made my heart go pitter-patter for rats. Just give me all the animals, please. I'll snuggle every single one forever.

woman named Meg holding a pet rat on her shoulder
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I keep dressing for what the weather was yesterday.
When it was only mildly chilly,
and I had chosen my big winter jacket.
Hands on the wheel,
how I wished I could rip away my fire prison.
Removing the glass barrier,
colder air rushed in and
gave some mild reprieve as we sped down the freeway.

Hours ticked by, the sun and earth spinning as they do.
Time to walk to the dog.
I took out my other jacket,
the nylon shell light in my arm as I scooped it up
and swung it on, like a cape.
We headed out,
into the dark night,
Or he headed out on his own mission, focused, singularly-minded in his work.

I stood on the bridge, waiting, wooden planks beneath me.
Underfoot; salt.
Someone had anticipated the freezing temperatures. The potential for ice.
But I didn't see it; I had looked to yesterday.

The salt crystals, which in their likeness, conjure images of snow,
crunched between the treads of my running shoes.
Snow, though, is a soft crunch.
Salt has cutting edges; it warns
and warms the bridge
from home to the wild outdoors.

The frigid air seeped in through my sleeves,
through the neck of my jacket, down my sternum, gliding easily over my
would-be, should-have-been, supposed-to-be
protective layer.

I keep dressing for yesterday.
And I'm cold.
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There was a huge thread on a facebook group where someone asked for inexpensive recipes/meal ideas for her family of 3, and people threw out a million suggestions. I copied the ones I found most helpful to compile into one place, and here's what I got!


Good and Cheap Cookbook

Cooking on a Bootstrap

Mashup Mom

Meal Ideas:

Eggs! Quesadillas, beans, dal. Make sure to shop at the discount grocer AND any "ethnic" grocers your area has--produce and food will be a little different, but just as fresh and tasty, and much much cheaper.

Ground beef
Brown gravy packet made
Over instant mashed potatoes

Chicken alfredo. Alfredo sauce, linguine noodles, chicken. Maybe some steamed broccoli added
Option: get a rotisserie chicken. Debone it and you can divide the chicken up and make at least 3 different meals out of it.

Read more... )
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Even after I was told I had OCD, I didn't exactly understand what it meant. It's a complicated disorder, plus I was only 7 years old. I just knew I was the weird kid who took five times as long to complete worksheets, mostly due to re-reading the instructions to make sure I did everything just right. Even reading and re-reading instructions and every question on the worksheets, I often made mistakes, and my teacher that year used to write large red marks across incorrect answers. That one huge red F inside its glaring red circle home on top of my work sent me sobbing into the arms of my mom. I wanted so much to be perfect, do everything The Right Way. As if there was only one right way.

The saddest part for me now (and then) was my germ phobia that took hold of my brain and held it prisoner. There are things that of course are actually germy or dirty, and then there were things that just seemed disgusting, seemed wrong somehow. People, objects. It felt like a game of "cooties" gone horribly out of control. After coming into contact with something "contaminated," I felt this tension build and build, my muscles literally becoming so tense and rigid I felt like I couldn't move them, so strong was the fear of touching something else.

Until I washed my hands.

Once the soap and water washed over my hands, relief washed over me. It was ok now. Until it wasn't. Wash, rinse, repeat. Figuratively, and quite literally.


My younger brother had this friend down the street. The only kid in our neighborhood his age. Ryan.

Ryan was a weird kid, awkward way of talking, didn't like to wash his hands even when they had dirt on them from playing outside. Small bits of spittle left his mouth as he spoke at times. And he was rude, as well - at times, anyway. He came over a lot, and Garth went to his house a lot. Sometimes Garth came home in tears because Ryan wouldn't play nicely, or had been too rough physically and Garth had gotten hurt.

I did not like Ryan.

Corroded. That was the word they used when I was in 4th grade, a silly game to troll each other, basically. "Ew Kyle, you're corroded, go take a shower!" The other kids were just messing around. My brain latched onto this strongly, as a fundamental truth of life, and I coped with copious amounts of water and soap. I knew it was weird, silly, ridiculous. But I couldn't stop - washing hands made the feeling go away, so I just needed to do that more, so I could feel better, right?

One day, I thought of Ryan as "corroded," and it was all over. It was as if a plague had befallen most of the things I knew and loved in life. If Garth went over to Ryan's, then in my mind, he came back "corroded." If Ryan came over to our home, in Garth's and my shared bedroom to play, I swore Garth to allegiance with me: My little brother, who so looked up to me, the kindest, gentlest person I know, would swear that Ryan wouldn't touch any of my things. And whatever he did touch, Garth would tell me, so I could wash it once Ryan left.

But I knew Ryan had at least touched the door handle, so I would ask Garth to get the door instead of me, and then tell him to go wash HIS hands. He didn't want to, but I badgered him into it. I told Garth I couldn't touch any of his things. And then it turned into I couldn't touch him either. No more hugs, no playing closely together. Because if I did, I'd have to wash my hands too many times. I wasn't strong enough to keep up with all of that, to keep track, to wash that often. I was exhausted.

He wanted to tell Mom. NO, I argued. Adamantly. He was not to tell anyone. And he didn't. My poor baby brother, keeping that for me. It was too heavy for either of us to bear, and for better or worse, we bore it together. His own OCD tendencies popped up, too. He became depressed. We bickered, and everyone assumed it was normal sibling stuff. Not a mental disorder that he and I kept secret.

It wasn't actually completely a secret - people were aware that it had been a problem in second grade. Like I said, I had a diagnosis at that time, a few sessions of therapy. And my symptoms and hand washing had decreased for a time. And therapy stopped. And for really all of third grade, I hadn't had many problems with it at all. But when OCD reared its ugly head again the following year, with the surfacing of this "corroded" Cooties-game, and who knows what being off balance inside my brain, I just decided I should keep all this embarrassing stuff a secret. After all, I knew it was all ridiculous and unnecessary - that's one of the most annoying parts about OCD, you KNOW it's stupid while it's happening, and yet, the relief is so wholly emcompassing when you just DO the compulsion you have, that it's like fine, I'll give in just this once. But then the feeling comes back again, and again... So you give in again, and again...

And I was very good at hiding. So I hid it, and Garth hid it, and he was sworn to secrecy by me.


The summer after fourth grade, we took a road trip in our Dodge Caravan minivan. The whole family: Dad driving, Mom riding front passenger, big brothers Wyatt and Derek in the back seat, Garth and me in the middle row. I didn't want to sit next to Garth, but Derek and Wyatt wanted to sit together, and it made sense. After all, they were closer in age, and then there was a 5 year age gap, then me, then Garth, so we were like pairs, nearly always. Wyatt and Derek, and, Garth and Meghan. Just the way it was.

So I sat next to him, and I told him to be VERY CAREFUL not to touch me. "It's not that I don't love you, I do love you, but just please be careful," I begged in a whisper.

"I know, ok," he said, in a small voice with a small nod to match.

A few hours into the trip, something happened. I reached for something, and my sleeve touched his arm. My heart practically jumped into my throat. My eyes widened. Garth had felt it too. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he whispered quickly, over and over.

"No, it was me..." I sighed.

"What's going on?" my mom said, in that commanding way she had, the one that we usually reacted to like we were in huge trouble (which is silly, because we rarely ever were, and even when we were, "huge trouble" in our home usually just meant being scolded or lectured, but we were kids who wanted to do things The Right Way, after all, so any perceived breaking of rules was practically earth shattering to us).

"Nothing, Mom," I said quickly.

My brother just looked at me, waiting. What did I need him to do?

I sighed and looked back, at a loss. I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. What should I do? If I asked to wash my sleeve and arm (because of course my sleeve had already wiggled and touched my arm in the course of sitting back in my seat), then my parents would know. My whole family would KNOW. I'd have to admit how bad everything had gotten.

I couldn't do it.

I just couldn't. My heart pounded. What now?

Tentatively, I sighed and thought, "Maybe... Maybe? Maybe it would be ok?" I sat back in my seat and closed my eyes and breathed.

I took a deep breath, opened my eyes, and leaned closer to Garth, and I... reached out, across the division in the seat cushion, a division between seats, but also between siblings. I reached out and touched his arm.

Now his eyes looked huge and panicked. His expression turned questioning.

"I think maybe ... it's ok?" I said quietly.

"What? Really? Are you sure?"

"I... think... Yeah, I think it's ok," I said.

He sighed, and smiled, his face more at ease than I had remembered seeing it in far too long. I reached down and touched his hand and squeezed it. He squeezed back. And from that point forward, I was ok with him. I was so much better. The whole "corroded" thing was over.

I don't get it, really, even today, but I'm grateful for it! Getting shocked into such a level of anxiety in such a small space, where I couldn't get away, couldn't fly when they fight or flight kicked in, the fear of embarrassment being so much greater than the fear of germs? It somehow cured that one aspect of this bizarre disorder. That one compulsion. But hell, I took it, and ran with it, because it's not always the case that OCD can grant an ounce of grace.

But this day, it did, and I am so grateful. My brother and I both got our friendship back. And a seed was planted: OCD is not forever. OCD can improve. I can get better. Things can always get better.

This has been an entry for [community profile] therealljidol
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The phrase "not my first rodeo" is a funny one. As you may very well know (especially if it's not your first rodeo), it means that it's not someone's first time doing something, and implies that the opposite - that the speaker is, in fact, very experienced.

I always imagine it being said in a gruff voice by a cowboy who's seen thousands of rodeos. He sits atop his horse, and someone tells him to be careful, or warns him that the gate can be tricky. "Thanks pal..." he says, taking his toothpick out of his mouth and flicking it on the ground, then turning to spit, as he pulls in the reigns with one hand, and adjusts the brim of his cowboy hat with the other. "...But it's not my first rodeo." He gives a small kick, and horse leads them both toward the starting gate at the arena.

But a few years ago, I saw something online that said:

"I didn't know I was supposed to know how to do everything by my second rodeo. That's still a very low number of rodeos."

And it made me laugh so much!

Probably because of the truth in it. The "it's not my first time doing this!" concept is turned on its head, and someone is standing there arguing, "But it's only my second time, and I don't know what the hell I'm doing!!"

I think that feeling, that sense of being lost in the woods, of people expecting you to know things when you definitely don't, can be so bizarre. We can feel so alone in our ignorance. And yet, everyone feels that way. Probably more often than we think.

I remember shortly after my son was born, he had a lot of trouble breathing, and had to be admitted to the hospital. I stayed right by his side the entire time. Luckily, he wasn't in the NICU. He was in a hospital room on the pediatrics floor, so I could still be right there, right next to him, hold him, rock him, feed him.

It had taken two years to even get pregnant with him, and I'd longed for a baby for years before that, so I'd had quite a long time to ask my "mom experts" about parenthood and babies, and learn as much as I could. First there was my own mom, who'd parented all four of us kids. And then there was my friend, Cheryl, who had two babies I just loved so much, and used to go on walks with her and the kids, and got to hold each baby when they were only a few days old. She used to share all kinds of wisdom and tidbits on practical stuff, and also the emotional stuff. After her second child was born, Cheryl said to me, "After the first baby that you are just madly in love with, you think, 'How could I ever love anyone else like this?' And then with the second kid, you just do, you love them too, JUST as much, and you feel amazed that you were ever capable of feeling that much love!"

And I knew it would be different when I had a baby, but to actually live that, and feel the difference between holding someone else's baby, and holding MY baby for whom I was now responsible... that was just mind blowing. A tidal wave of inexperience and doubt flowed over me, especially once we were back in the hospital. Question upon question. Decision after decision had to be made. How long was he not breathing?
Is it ok to keep trying to get the IV in? Is it ok if we do the CAT scan now? He needs to be still for the echo cardiogram, are you ok giving him a little sugar water on the pacifier to calm him down? Are you ready for the CAT scan? Can we do an endoscopy?

It was a lot.

A lot.

And it was my first "rodeo." I wanted to say, "why are you asking me?? how the hell would I know what's best??" But I realized - I'm his mom. All this care stuff is up to me now. And I mean, my husband was there, too, when he wasn't taking care of things at home, but he felt as lost as I did.

And the weirdest part was when both my mom and Cheryl each separately said to me, "I don't know how you're doing this. You're so strong. You're amazing. I don't know how you're dealing with this."

And I don't remember saying it, but I remember thinking later, well me neither, I don't know how I'm doing this! I don't want to be doing this, this is horrible and terrifying!

But more than that, I remember thinking... but they're the experts. They're my mom gurus. They know everything. They've been doing this for years. They're the ones I'm supposed to go to, so they can tell me all about it, and tell me what to do, and... they've never experienced anything like this.

I remember thinking the words, with utter amazement, We're ALL just winging this...

I still sometimes sit in awe with that realization.

My son was released from the hospital at 14 days old, after he'd been there a week. The stomach acid test had shown that he had such severe reflux it blocked his airway. Pathological reflux, they called it. That is why he wasn't breathing during one to two minute stretches, and that's why it always happened within 30 minutes of eating. So, he was prescribed a strong antacid, that I got from the compounding pharmacy about every two weeks, for about nine months. We also happened to find out that his heart, brain, lower intestines, and esophagus were all in perfect working order, thanks to the large battery of tests.

He's seven now, and healthy as a horse. And I'm still in my "first rodeo." Having just the one kid means everything is always new to me, every first for him is a first for me too, and I wonder all the time what the hell I'm doing.

But even if I had more kids, I assume I'd be wondering the same things. Am I doing this right? Is this ok? What now? Did I say that right? Do they know how VERY indescribably much they're loved??

"I didn't realize I was supposed to know everything by my second rodeo!"

First, second, or five-thousand-twenty-sixth rodeo... We really are ALL just winging it, and just doing the best we know how, aren't we?
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"Ok, whose turn is it to take out now?" Melissa asked. "Kyle and Cody?"

"Yep, you get Kyle, I'll get Cody?" I asked.

"Sounds great!" Melissa said.

I was really glad that I was partnered with Melissa, as she was always really easy to get along with. There weren't too many of us Animal Specialists at Rainforest Cafe, but it was cool being part of a small and truly animal loving team. Melissa was on fish and birds, meaning she often SCUBA dived in our large aquariums to clean them. I was certified on CPR, so stood by to spot the divers during tank cleanings. I also helped clean up aquarium filters at the end of the day. I was on birds - weighing them, feeding them, making enrichment toys, following the enrichment schedule, training the birds, and cleaning all the cages. There were other people on fish and/or birds, too. Melissa was also very well versed in shows and bird care, so joined me in shows when she wasn't diving in the tanks. The shows are more interactive and interesting to the audience when there's more than one speaker, and of course, more than one bird!

"Come on, Cody, wanna go do a show?" I asked the blue and gold macaw in my friendly high pitched voice, as I reached into her cage. "Step up?"

"Step up," said Cody.

"Ok, yes, I know you know you know how to say it, can you just step up?"

"Hel-looo," said Cody, not moving any closer to me.

"Step up, Cody, come on," I said.

She let out a SQUAAAAAWKKKKK that reverberated off the cement brick walls of the bird room. (I imagined my show-voice saying, "Did you know that macaws' squawks can be heard from two miles away??") "Goddamnit, I hate when you do that..." I whispered under my breath. "Cody," I said, feeling my patience strain. "Come on, already, girl, come here. Step up!" I said. At least it was the last show of the day, and then we could ALL get some rest afterwards, humans and birds alike.

"I mean, if she's not coming..?" Melissa said.

Cody looked at me sideways and lifted one foot in the air.

"No, she's coming. Cody, let's go," I said. "Step up." And Cody stepped up onto my arm, and I gently got her out of the cage. Melissa got her sister*, Kyle, so we were all set.

{*And yes, they were both girls - macaws look exactly alike, and someone had named them all boys' names years before a blood test confirmed they were all female. But the names were kept, because why not? One had been named Maraca, which is pretty gender neutral. Oliver and Elmo were also females with traditionally "boy" names. We always got comments on it at shows, but to us, those names just became normal "girl" names too! But gender socialization and perception is probably a topic for another entry!}

The way Melissa and I had designed the shows was to write a few short scripts, memorize them, or at least know the main talking points, and then label them. So for our 15 minute shows, we were able to say to each other, "Ok, you want to do Rainforests, Flight, and Foot Shape adaptations?" And we'd know what the plan was, and all that mattered was deciding who went first, and then we'd take turns.

"These birds can be so nutballs to get out of their cages sometimes," I said as Melissa and I walked with the birds.

"Oh my god, I know," she agreed. "We'll need to work more on stepping up with them, so they really know and get it."

"Totally," I said.

"Ok here we go," she said.

We pushed open the wooden door, the one with the sign that read, "From this point forward, you are ON STAGE." Smiles on, professional appearance. Lights, camera, action! (Except for us, it was more like microphone headsets on, treat pouches adjusted on belts, action!)

We stepped onto the stage with the birds, and Melissa began. "Hello, and welcome to Rainforest Cafe here at Downtown Disney," she said in her best professional show voice. "This is our Rainforest Bird Show, in which we'll share all kinds of fun facts about the birds and rainforests around the world." The people standing near by the stage turned to look at us, and gathered closer. A few more people joined until a small crowd had formed. She went on to speak about the four layers of a rainforest, and where macaws live in the rainforest. (The canopy layer, in case you were interested!)

"And the way they get around the rainforest is by flying, usually in large flocks," Melissa said and nodded at me.

"Macaws can fly miles a day. Do you know what makes birds so good at flying?" I asked in my own show-voice.

"Feathews!" a sweet tiny child shouted excitedly.

"WINGS!" said another near by kid.

"Yes, they use their wings that are covered in feathers. Would you like to see Cody's wings?"

"Yeah!" the kids cheered.

I gave Cody the hand signal to show her wings, and she spread them out to oohs and ahhs from the crowd.

"Good girl!" I said and handed her a nut. She ate it quickly and reached for another nut from my treat pouch, almost losing her balance. I transferred her over to my left arm, closer to the treat pouch, thinking she'd feel appeased being slightly closer to the good stuff!

I nodded to Melissa, who took the cue and began talking about how Cody and Kyle were both eating nuts using their feet and then shared cool facts about their toes, such as the fact that their "X" toe formation, two toes forward, two toes backward, is called being Zygodactyl, and helps them hold securely onto branches in trees, where as more ground dwelling birds like emus and penguins, have three toes forward and one toe backward.

As she spoke, my left arm got tired, and I moved Cody toward my right arm. She didn't step over. I pulled my arm back to the left and then swung it back very gently toward my right. Sometimes the momentum of that lets them know what I'm asking, and the birds know to step over. This stubborn girl refused. She dove her head down quickly toward my treat pouch. I sighed, but only a little. I turned and stood up straight and continued smiling at the audience as Melissa began her wrap-up shpiel, complete with instructions on how to take photos with us and the birds.

One last time, I moved my arm to tell Cody to step over. "Come on, girl, step up," I said gently, and confidently held my arms together, my right arm slightly higher so that she'd step up onto it.

Instead, as I smiled at the crowd, who were all beginning to applaud, Cody lunged for my other arm with her beak, and nailed me hard, her beak wrapped around my wrist like a carpenter's clamp. I almost reactively pulled away, but realized almost as quickly that that could cause a ton of bleeding, and instead moved my arm more towards her mouth, expecting her to let go when I did that. But she was not having it. Cody clamped harder, pain searing through my arm, through my elbow up toward my shoulder. I plastered a stupid grin on my face and didn't look at her, as I rolled my wrist toward her and after another second or two, she finally released her grip.

Fast as I could, I threw my right arm behind my back, no idea if I was bleeding or not. I just held my arms in a quite formal position, like I was about to take a bow or something.

A boy, maybe ten years old asked, "Did that bird just bite you?"

"Uh, a little, but it's fine. Birds!" I said, and gave a small chuckle. Was he really the only one who noticed even a little?? That was lucky!

Melissa was already on her side of the stage beginning to pose for photos with people. I took a step back, then slowly kept backing away. An audience member asked me, "Can we take photos with that one?"

"You know, I'm so sorry, but not tonight," I said as calmly and friendly as possible, arm throbbing painfully behind my back. "Cody seems really tired, so I gotta get her back inside. I'm sure Melissa and Kyle would love to take a photo with you. Thanks so much, goodnight!"

Melissa saw me beginning to leave and raised an eyebrow at me.

"See you inside!" I said to her in an almost too-friendly, strained tone.

Now Melissa's expression toward me was one of complete and utter confusion. But as quickly as that happened, a bright performance-ready smile returned to her face as she turned back to the crowd. "Well, I've got Kyle for a few photos over on this side, come on over!" I heard her say, as Kyle squawked loudly, and I went back through the wooden door that lead to the backstage area.

I exhaled the minute I walked through the door, and pulled my arm back in front of me to inspect the damage. I wasn't bleeding. Thank god. But oh JEEZ was my arm swelling fast.

When I entered the bird room, my boss, Marcy, and other coworker Harry, were sitting and talking about fish stuff. I came in quickly, swept through their conversation and got Cody immediately back into her cage. She gladly walked off my arm into her cage, and I closed the door shut behind her.

"That was fast!" Marcy said. "Did the show end early?"

"Uh, well, Cody bit me," I said.

"Oh jeez, yeah these birds can be kind of-"

I stuck my arm out to show them my wrist.

At the same time they both said, "WHOA!!"

There was a black and purple bruise rising up under the beak mark that was still firmly showing on my skin.

"CODY DID THAT?" Marcy asked. "Just now??"

"Yeah at the end of the show-" I said, as the door to the bird room opened quickly.

It was Melissa with Kyle, who was still squawking. "What happened??" she asked.

"Cody bit me," I said.

"Like HARD," Marcy said. "Look at this!"

Melissa looked and said, "Oh god, wow!"

"I'm getting you ice!" Marcy said, and hopped up and ran out of the room.

Melissa said she knew something must've really been wrong for me to leave like that, but she couldn't think of what it was. "I just needed to come in though, anyway, because Kyle was freaking OUT without Cody there."

"Oh jeez, yeah," I said, remembering that Kyle does not like to be without her sister at all.

Marcy ran back in and had me apply the ice. And I filled out an accident report with the even more senior boss. Icing and paperwork - an exciting way to end a shift. All part of working with wild animals, though. Crazy stuff happens sometimes. And you can't really ever let on if stuff goes awry. After all, it's like they say, the show must go on!

* * *

Epilogue ~ After this incident, I worked a lot more with Cody. It was terrifying the first day back with her (about a week after she bit me)! But we got her to a point where she was very good at switching arms, and she even improved on a lot of her other trained behaviors too. She really is a very good girl, and I'm glad I got to work with her. Even if she did give me a scar that lasted the better part of a year, though has faded by now, she was a character, a sweet soul, and a privilege to work with. Sometimes, I kind of miss that job!

[Human names changed for privacy reasons]
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Passing first through swirling smoke,
followed by blessed water,
the kinsfolk enter the wooded grove.

Intentions declared, music wafting through the air,
Drums rumble,
the kinsfolk connect to the earth.

Well, Fire, Tree,
Ancestors, Shining Ones, Nature Spirits,
the kinsfolk honor and welcome the Kindred Three.

Dancing 'round the fire,
Faster, faster, joyous spinning,
the kinsfolk blend together with their ancestral partners.

Round the fire, celebrations abound,
tears are shed, knowledge found,
the kinsfolks' love and honor surround.

Gifts given,
Gifts received,
the kinsfolk bid a fond farewell to the Kindred Three.

Until next time...
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The notes of harp music floated gently through the air as Marella traversed the wooded path, lightly strewn with golden leaves atop crisp toasted-brown ones. Anticipation in the air, she knew what she must do. She was, and wasn't, looking forward to it.

As she reached the platform, she caught the eye of of a few other loved ones who'd gathered from the village; her sister Theresa, her friend, Olivia. She took her place in line, only three women ahead of her. The men were lined up on the right. Wade looked at her, and she gave him a gentle smile, as she tried to read his eyes. Trent stood right behind him. She didn't dare look at him, not while Wade looked on. It was only proper to let him know during the ceremony, and she feared their gazes would give them away.

"Thank you all for gathering this Samhain Day!" rang the voice of the community leader, Hilda. Her long curly blonde hair stood up around her head like a halo glowing in the dimming sunlight. "Let the Ceremony commence! First couple, you may step up!"

The first couple took their place on the wooden plank platform in the center of the circle of trees. They took each other's hands and looked into one another's eyes.

"I stand here in honor of you," spoke Victor.

"And I stand here in honor of you," said Sabrina.

Together they said the age old words that everyone knew by heart. "We stand here together, heart to heart, after a year and a day apart. Having explored another's love, we reconnect at the center, of below and above."

They each took a deep breath. Her hands trembled in his.

The onlookers counted aloud, "One, two, three!"

"Reunite!" they both blurted out, and then relieved giggles escaped them both. They hugged tightly, then shared a kiss as applause erupted from the crowd. Marella nodded, and turned around to see her sister, Theresa behind her. "I knew it!" mouthed Theresa. Marella just nodded and smiled. Victor and Sabrina were made for each other. They'd both seemed pretty down during their year and a day. Helen, the next woman who'd been standing in line, waiting, covered her face with both hands and tried to keep her tears as soft as she could. Marella's heart went out to her. This was always so hard. But the new year brings new beginnings, and while change can be painful, it's also important for growth. Claire patted Helen's shoulder. Helen patted Claire's hand back, then took her leave.

Marella inhaled slowly through her nose, and exhaled through her mouth and tried not to lock eyes with either Wade or Trent.

Thank goodness it wasn't too long of a wait. Claire went next, paired with Sebastian. Theirs was another quick ceremony, as they also chose to reunite. As did Dylan and Claudia.

Marella stepped up onto the platform. Wade stepped up, too, and faced her. His dark eyes and dark hair looked lovely in the glowing firelight, and she knew deep in her heart why she'd ever fallen in love with him.

They declared their honor for one another. They held hands. His were warm and slightly sweating. She felt the quiver in his fingertips as she did all she could to keep hers steady. He smiled gently at her, and they spoke the sacred words together, "We stand here together, heart to heart, after a year and a day apart. Having explored another's love, we reconnect at the center, of below and above."

"One..." said the community.

Her heart was in her throat.


Tears filled her eyes.


A look of puzzlement filled Wade's eyes, as he said emphatically, clearly, and confidently, "Reunite!" at the same moment that Marella said, "Part ways."

A gasp was heard.

"Marella, wait, what?" Wade asked.

"Part ways," she said again, with a slight nod, this time on a hiccup of breath as she held back sobs.

"What? No... Merry! I thought... Are you sure?" Wade asked, squeezing her fingers tightly.

"Ow, Wade, stop!" Marella said softly.

He released her hands. "I'm sorry," he whispered, a desperate look in his eyes. The reflection of flames danced in the sea of his dark eyes.

Marella wanted to comfort him, but knew there was nothing she could say.

Hilda's voice rang in again, "We have a Parting. Marella and Wade, it is time to declare."

Wade's bottom lip shook, and tears fell down his cheek. Marella's eyes spilled over as well. They each held up their hands, and placed their palms together. They spoke together the words they knew by heart, that they'd all known since they were children. "The years we've shared, our hearts we've bared, together now, we do declare. Like rivers to the ocean, we came together, and now apart, Merry we met, and now Merry we Part."

What was once a rhyming sing-song they recited in childhood, a mere specter of the past, now actualized into their current reality. A first Declaration for either of them, unusual at their age. But twice now, they'd chosen reunions, and now... Well, now things would be different for both of them.

Hilda embraced first Marella, then Wade, giving them each a kiss on the cheek. Wade gave a small glance back at Marella, who gave him a soft, encouraging smile. Then he left.

Hilda turned to Marella. "All right, my dear. Please call upon your Other."

"Trent," she said.

Trent walked over, stepped up onto the playform, and faced Marella. He smiled hugely at her and she blushed as she returned his smile with her own.

They joined hands.

"Whenever you're ready," said Hilda.

They took a deep breath and began about one second apart and giggled. They looked into each other's eyes and began again, saying in unison this time, "We join now together, and I promise to be, true to you and true to me." Then they leaned in and kissed each other. There was soft clapping and a few "aww" sounds from onlookers.

"May you have an excellent two years," Hilda said with a loving smile.

"Thank you," they both said, then stepped off the platform, hand in hand, together. Trent walked over to a tall oak, and leaned back against it. Marella leaned onto him and they kissed once more. Then she turned, cuddled into his side, as they wrapped their arms around each other, and watched the rest of the ceremony. They both sighed a contented sigh, and rested easy in each other's embrace.
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One of the things I love about Idol is that it forces me to frequently complete pieces, and boy is that a fun high! That combined with this sugar/caffeine high, along with being shocked at myself for doing something early is a FUN feeling. Hells yes!

And still an hour left before I have to leave to get kiddo from school! :D
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Moving really tests your dedication to your things. As you slide a mattress atop a wheeled dolly, and shakily wobble it across a parking lot, and remember you needed to get the dresser in first, sometimes you just sigh, lean the mattress against the truck, and go get the dresser, half hoping someone just steals the goddamn thing so you never have to move it again. Bags and boxes and more bags of stuff gets tossed and donated.

But not the books.

“You’ve never even read that one,” he says accusingly.

“Exactly! I’m PLANNING to, though,” you say. Psssh. OBVIOUSLY, you don’t say.

“What about those?”

“Same!” you say, irked and appalled he could even insinuate your abandonment of these stories, these ideas.

“I don’t know if we have the room in the new place...” he trails off.

You contemplate ditching the arm chair. And the coffee table? That’d make space for new bookshelves, right? Maybe taller bookshelves is the answer...

Once settled, the still as yet unread books line the shelves, the familiar titles on their spines whispering homecoming welcomes as you slide them into place next to one another. Those that don’t quite fit go on top of the shelf in a stack.

The next week, your friend tells you about a book they just finished and how awesome it is. You put it on hold at the library. When you walk in to pick it up, another catches your eye. “Well, while I’m already here,” you say, and tuck it gently into your elbow, cradling it, like a small stray kitten that needs to come home with you for just a little while. It’s like it knows you’ll treat it with the utmost care and love, and of course you will. You take home a whole litter, in fact.

Will you read them? Not before the first time you press “renew all” on the library app. Maybe not before the second time, either, and possibly not before accruing thirty to eighty cents in late fees per volume. Maybe you won’t read some of them at all.

But they kept you company, these collections of thoughts, these amalgamations of dreams and ideas that someone else put forth. Someone out there in the world conceived a vision, sat in a chair and whittled away an entire story, an entire universe. The trees shed their skin in unity, and joined with the ideas to grow and birth whole new people, who exist simultaneously as wobbly black inky lines on a page, as well as corporeally breathing, living, speaking beings in the landscape of imagination. Just being near them feels like greatness.

Back into the library shelves and others’ hands they eventually go, for they have places to be, people to see. And love and care to spread. You’ll see them again, you’re sure, when the time is right, and whether or not you read one page, ten, four-hundred, or none at all, you know you’ll be happy to see them in stacks at your bedside, your couchside, and lining your shelves.

For what is a home with stacks upon stacks of books, but pure magic...

This has been an entry for LJ Idol, prompt: Tsundoku
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Over the weekend, we watched:

the first 1/2 of Ferdinand

Maze Runner 3

The Kindergarten Teacher (that one was just me)

Ant Man and the Wasp

I think that's everything? Ok, I think that's all. So, off I go to read myself to sleep!

Oh quickly, speaking of reading oneself to sleep...
I'm currently reading the 7th book of the How to Train Your Dragon series to Homer. He fell asleep to that tonight (and every other night, we've been reading this series a while!)

I'm reading the 7th Harry Dresden book to myself. XD

It's taking me forever to get through that, because I keep reading other things. I'm also reading a pile of books from the library, including Stephen King's On Writing, How to Fall in Love with a Man Who Lives in a Bush, my friend's zombie novel, and several others I have stacked but haven't actually read at all yet. Which happens to be Idol's theme this week!! I am going to have to write a ton tomorrow and see what comes out. I'm not sure if I want to do fiction or non-.... Hmmmmm.... I better get it submitted tomorrow too, though, because 9am comes way too early on Wednesday. Tuesday night is my own personal deadline.

Anyway, off to bed I go. Oh! I submitted a job application today, first one in ages and ages. Wish me luck! I'd be both excited to get it, and terrified too. It's working at my son's school as as classroom assistant, basically, in various classrooms. Hours and pay are good and would be really awesome, actually! (Terrified only because I haven't had regular work outside the home in like 8 years).

Also, I typed way more than I thought I would about The Kindergarten Teacher as a comment to [personal profile] bleodswean , so I think I'll put that under a cut here. Don't click unless you're ok with ALL the spoilers!! I recommend just watching it on Netflix and then coming on back to read my thoughts (if you want!).

spoilers below:
Read more... )

And that's about it. ok NOW I'm going to bed. G'night, friends! :) <3
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Kate blew a breath out of the corner of her mouth to get her bangs out of her eyes as she steadied herself on the edge of her chair, one foot on the arm of the chair, and one foot on the seat. This is stupid, she thought to herself, but she didn’t get down.

Why? Because this was the spot. THIS was the spot where the morning light fell, casting a soft glow of hope itself across her wall. Plus, she didn't have a ladder, or even a stepstool, and by god, she was not going to let that stop her. She was done with letting anything stand in her way, including her absent stepladder, absent because it still resided with him, she thought bitterly, then nearly laughed at her outrage over her stepladder's "betrayal." She held the shelf and one nail firmly against the wall with her left hand, grabbed the hammer with the right, and pounded the nail on the head. Get. In. There!

“Aaaooowwwch!” she yelled as the hammer slipped and pounded her thumb. She groaned loudly, then sighed, and shook her hand a bit, the universal response to injuries for some reason. That, or sucking on them, which she almost did, before remembering the nail still balanced lightly between her lips. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath in through her nose, opened her eyes, and tried again. The nail went in. Ever so carefully, she grabbed the next nail, and repeated the process.

Her phone buzzed on the small table just a few feet away. For the slightest fraction of a second, she thought it must be Chris. How long until that stopped being her first expectation? Kate could see "Mom" at the top of her buzzing phone, and decided she could call her back later.

Chris. What an ass. I hope he's happy now, she thought with a scowl. Then, as she slid her hand across her newly installed shelf, she relaxed her brow and thought, maybe she really did hope he was happy..? No, she decided. But she wanted to feel that way. To think "I hope he's happy" in something other than a sarcastic, jaded tone. And that was progress in and of itself. Someday, she would get there... probably. Once the sands of time had a chance to pour into, and fill, bit by bit, grain by grain, the cavernous hole he had left in her heart, maybe then she could carve out a small space for forgiveness.

She climbed back down the chair, picked up a little plant that she’d named Sprout, a small leafy thing in a turquoise planter. She stepped back up, and set him gingerly on the shelf. Then she did the same thing three more times, adding each new peregrination, one more item: her favorite candle, her clay incense burner she'd crafted by hand, and a seashell she'd had since childhood. Finally, she stood with her feet planted firmly on the floor and admired her work, took in the sight of what she'd erected: her altar to what she loved, what she celebrated in life, her altar to herself.

She sighed again, this time with a smile and a nod.
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Those dark black eyes of hers just about bowled me over from the instant I first saw her. But of course, that's how I felt about most of the dogs I've ever met in my life. This girl was no exception. Black lab, black eyes, a large girl, but still - just a baby, really. It was an easy decision to name her that: Baby.

She'd been through some rough stuff in her short life, I heard, though I didn't know the details. And now here she was in our shelter, scared, but still wanting to be playful, no idea who we were or whether we were safe.

We took turns walking her, as assigned. I loved when she was on my list for the day. Each of us got about 7 or 8 dogs on our list and we walked all of them four times a day, once or twice around the block. Then we came back, unleashed our dog, locked them in their kennel run, and leashed up the next dog. Over and over.

As I said, I loved having Baby on my list, but my goodness - she was kind of a nut! Those short walks didn't do much to dissipate her nervous energy, and often, as I exited her kennel, she jumped all over me, playfully but roughly mouthing my arms all over. I got some note worthy bruises from her crazed puppy play! I began wearing long sleeve shirts at first, then stopped, for fear that hiding it would only make people fear the worst about my new husband! So I openly wore the bruises from this nutty little friend of mine, and continued walking her every chance I got.

"She needs to learn to sit," our training consultant, Ian, told us. "She'll never get adopted jumping all over people like that."

He had a point.

That was the first project. It took a few weeks, but with our joint efforts, we got her to sit as we entered the kennel. Her butt waggled furiously as she tried valiantly to contain herself. It was hilarious and amazing watching her willing, persistent spirit.

Weeks passed. One day I walked into the kitchen, and Rachel had this look on her face, brows furrowed, arms folded against herself, shaking her head.

"What is it?" I asked.

She shook her head and sighed. "It's Baby. I tried taking her out to a park today, to give her a space to run. ...Dude. She is terrified. Absolutely terrified. I couldn't even get her IN the car."

"Oh no! Really?? Why?"

"Well it makes sense, considering..."

"Considering what?"

"How she got here in the first place. You didn't hear her story?"

"No, just that she came from a bad situation, I don't know more than that."

"Yeah she came in with her mom. The house they were at was awful. They were neglected. A neighbor saw them just outside and ignored all the time, so called Animal Control to investigate. They'd just moved without them and left them there! So Animal Control took them, brought them here. And when they went to take them out of the van, Baby's Mom lunged hard, and bit the guy. So... she was put down. So here's Baby; the only car ride she's ever had is when she was pulled from everything she ever knew, shoved into a van with her mom, then never saw her mom again. The whole thing must've been so scary for her, so no wonder.... But still...."

"How's she going to get adopted and go home, if she can't get in a car? Is that what you're wondering?" I asked.


"We can work with her, though, right?" I asked.

"It's going to take a little while. Maybe a long while. You want to be part of her training program?"


"Okay... Let's see if we can teach this girl how to get in a damn car!"

"Okay!" I laughed.

Rachel and I were on Project Baby. It was just the two of us, and we compared notes and progress all the time.

After the first week, Rachel told me, "So! I can get her to walk in the middle of the sidewalk now! She had been only shoving herself against the wall opposite all the cars parked against the curb. But now - middle of the sidewalk! So that's something!"

"Ok!" I said, and set out with Baby, in between walking my other six assigned dogs. I had a pocket full of cheese and a mission. I started out, and got Baby to stay in the middle of the sidewalk, while I walked really close to the cars. I tried touching one, and she jumped and ran to the brick wall, smushing herself against it. "Oh, sweet girl, it's ok, it's ok," I said. Too far. Shit. I gave her cheese while petting her. I offered some more, just out of reach, and she came closer to my hand, back to the middle of the sidewalk, and I gave her more cheese.

For the next two weeks, Rachel and I walked Baby in the middle of the sidewalk. Two weeks after that, she learned to be comfortable walking on the right side of the sidewalk, right next to the rows of cars.

The NEXT week, I began touching cars with my fingertip intermittently, like I'd tried before, and she was ok! No jumping, no freaking out!!

The week after that, I began touching the handle of just my car. And I'd just tap the other cars. Baby needed less and less cheese in order to handle me doing that without getting nervous or trying to bolt away.

A few days later, I was able to open my own car's passenger door, without too much of a reaction from Baby. She watched me, I gave her cheese. I closed the door again, and gave her cheese. Then she just stood and watched me, like "what next?" She was really starting to understand that all she was getting was cheese, and that maybe, just maybe, she could be safe while we crazy humans touched cars and open their doors.

The next step was me sitting inside my own car on the passenger side. That took about another week, because as I tried to go sit in it, Baby pulled hard backwards and tried to run away as fast as possible. So I broke it down smaller. Me starting to put a foot in my car, then pull it out and give cheese. Then putting my whole leg in the car and giving her cheese, then leaving the car for the rest of the day. Rachel did it with her car, too, worked up to sitting in her car, then just sitting in the passenger seat of her own car, and giving Baby treats for sitting calmly on the sidewalk next to her.

And then the next week (week 6!), I sat in the passenger seat as usual. But THEN... I slid on over to the driver's seat. Baby's ears went back. "It's ok, Baby!" I said. "Good girl!" and tossed her some cheese onto the side walk. She gobbled it up. Then she looked at me, and I looked at her. Then I looked straight ahead and just sat calmly, and still. And she JUMPED INTO MY CAR NEXT TO ME!!!! It was nothing short of a miracle. I gave her a HANDFUL of cheese!! And all the praise. "YEESSSSS! Yes yes yes, YES! GOOD GIRL, Baby, oh my god, good girl, sweetheart!!" I pet her all over her head and she leaned over and licked me all over my face. I put my arm around her and just leaned my face into her neck and cried and laughed. "You got this, Baby girl. You're safe. See? So safe. You did it. Oh my god, I can't believe you did it. We did it!!" I breathed deeply, and said, "See, sweetheart? You just stick with it, and next thing you know, you're going places!"

Rachel and I both jumped for joy together and beamed so hard our faces hurt when I told her what had just happened.

When I came in on Monday, I walked through the kennel and saw Baby's run was empty. Just as the thought ran through my head that it was too early for someone to have already started walks, I saw an update to her profile sheet hanging on the front of her kennel. Only one small change. One word added. That word? ADOPTED.

"Oh my god, Baby got adopted??" I shouted out loud, as I ran to the kitchen/general gathering spot to find whichever coworkers were there that day.

"Yep!" Rachel called out.

"But, wait! I mean, we only just got her ok with cars, was she really ready to--"

Rachel, giddy and beaming, put her hand up. "By ME," she said.

"What? REALLY?" I said.

"Yep! By me!! I was SO excited she could finally be cleared to be adopted and go home, and then realized I just couldn't let her go home with anyone else. So... she came home with me!"

"That's WONDERFUL, congratulations!!" I said, and gave her a huge hug.

Multiple times a week, Rachel drove Baby to dog parks and a few times a month, they drove to the mountains for epic scenic hikes. One time, they even went on a road trip. And Baby had the time of her life!


This has been an entry for The Real LJ Idol Prize Fight Writing Competition. Prompt: "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up"
megatronix: (Default)
Heck YEAH, I am going to play LJ Idol!! WOOHOO!
megatronix: (gamora)

I feel like it's been a while since I posted anything, which always makes it weird to start. So here's my message I've repeated many times before - I'm sorry I haven't been reading or posting! I hope I can catch up, and just jump back into the mix.

I'm typing this on Dreamwidth right now, which is suuuuper weird. I'm crossposting to Livejournal, too. It seems like it shouldn't feel odd, but it is, because even though it looks incredibly similar in pretty much every way, it is a whole other Place on the web. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about.

So let's see. I just got back a few days ago from a road trip! I wish I'd had the energy to write and post while I traveled, but I just SO did not. Driving to the Chicago area required about 6 hours of driving a day on average, and at the end of it, I just wanted to veg out. I scrapbooked a little, and Joe and I watched some tv. It felt good to kind of unplug from social media. And I think because of that break, it feels good to get back into it, too! I have quite a few photos to edit, and I feel so good about a lot of them. I'm happy to see my photography skills improving with practice! I'll share some here as soon as I can.

Driving out there was actually really fun. It was awesome seeing so many states I'd never been to before. It was good seeing my in-laws too! We sat around and chatted, ate, and laughed. I played fetch with their dog. We went to a water park, and the hotel pools, and had hotel breakfast every day. Seeing little strips of stores on Main St, in several different small towns was very cool. We even saw Mt Rushmore and Devil's Tower, in the same day, too! It was really cool! Then we drove through a rain and hail storm on the way out of there.

The whole trip was 4,150 miles, and I drove all of it!! I'm excited I did that, and we met all our goals - Joe did really well on the planning of stops and everything. It was cool seeing our plans all come together and just work out well.

I even did pretty well keeping up with the scrapbook I took along for the ride. I thought Homer would participate in it more, but he did a little bit at least. (I'm trying to get him writing and reading more on his own before school starts back up again in a month.) I'm excited to add some photos to the scrapbook and then I'll post up some photos of that too.

My friend, Meander, suggested possibly being accountability buddies for keeping up with our creative work projects and scheduled posts and stuff, and I think it's a really good idea. I get so off track when I try to do things by myself. So hopefully that'll mean posting more here, on my particlewoman wordpress, on my instagram accounts, and just generally writing more. I need to give myself a writing schedule!! I haven't done any fiction writing, really, in months, not the way I want to be anyway. Well, hey, that's another reason I'm excited about LJ Idol starting up again next month. I like prompts and deadlines!! They help immensely.

At the very least I have been reading a little bit more, which is good. I keep trying to make myself open Kindle, or Duolingo, when I'm on my phone instead of Facebook. Fb is such a time suck and it adds very little to that feeling of productivity, or just well-being, you know? I find a lot more personal contentment after reading, and practicing Spanish, too.

Anyway, I'm currently about 30% of the way through Dead Beat, the 7th book in the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. It's really good!

I missed our sweet Amy gecko, and our Ashton pup while we were away for those two and a half weeks. My mom had Ashton with her, and my friend Melissa R had Amy. It worked out great! And we got home Tuesday, and then Homer and I picked up the pets on Wednesday. Melissa R and my mom live really close to one another, so that was helpful too.

I want to piece together my daily photo posts from the past few weeks, but I'm intimidated by it, too. I just should get on it, because otherwise, I'll fall completely off the project like I did... was it last year?.. around this time, too. And I don't want to do that again! So catch up time will happen soon.

I am so glad Homer got to meet so many cousins he's never met before! And I'm excited that we're getting even more cousins together in a few weeks when Ruby and Anna come to visit with my brother and his wife. Then we'll have Ruby, Anna, Homer, Allister and Jakob all together. I can't wait to take photos of them all together and see how funny and cute they all are with each other. It's hard to believe it's been a year already since we last saw Anna and Ruby! I'm super looking forward to their arrival!

I'm glad the weather has been really nice. We had AWESOME weather on our trip, btw. It was not super hot. And then we missed Seattle area's epic heatwave, so that was nice too. It's been like 70 as the high since we got back. Next week it'll be mid-80s and sunny, so we'll be at the pool a ton I think.

A not-fun thing I've been dealing with is a lot of carpal tunnel symptoms - pain, and tingling/numbness in my fingers and wrists/thumbs. UGH. That part sucks. I'm dreading going to the doctor, because mine is on maternity leave and I don't know who they'll have me see. Somebody new to me, which is always nerve wracking to me for some reason. I also never know what treatment they'll suggest, but I know I just need to do it. I'm most scared they'll want to inject me with cortisone. That's what they did when my feet were super terrible and I had tarsal tunnel syndrome. But, I mean, any treatment is worth it, because I can't exactly afford to be losing feeling in my hands. I need my hands!! For like, everything! Omg.

So yes, getting back into the swing of being home again. But it's weird. Joe and I both keep having mild nightmares, or weird wakeups. Like Joe startled awake thinking we had to check out. I heard him close our bathroom door as I woke up and thought it was someone knocking on our hotel door. But we were at home, so nope. So weird! This morning at least I knew where I was. Though yesterday, when I opened my eyes in the morning, I was so disoriented, because I expected Joe to be on the other side of me, because the hotel rooms were so different from our bedroom we ended up sleeping differently than we do at home.

But it's cool to be at my desk again, in my own bed again, on our own couch again... It's awesome to look outside and feel that connection to the trees and the view and be like, yep this is home. It's good!

I think that's all for now. I'll write more soon. Off to read, and edit some photos! :D

Hope you're having a happy week, and wishing you all a wonderful weekend!



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