December 28, 2009

Things My Boyfriends Taught Me

I love cooking.

Having spent the last 7 years in one long term relationship or the other I realize I've adopted traits, as well as likes and dislikes, from my boyfriends, and they've helped mold me into the person I am now. For fun, I made a list of things my boyfriends have taught me, whether they be foods or activities I learned to love or things I learned about myself. But I also made a list of things they taught me without even knowing it, mostly insecurities they had or things I realized I loved after discovering they didn't love them. This is mostly for my own amusement, but everyone is changed for the better (and sometimes worse) by a significant other and anyone can find something here to relate to.

Things My Boyfriends Knowingly Taught Me:

Sushi is not disgusting. In fact, it's amazingly delicious.
Apple juice isn't just for toddlers.
Cooking together is bonding.
My "ears" are adorable.
Wine is good in moderation.
Confidence is my most sexy feature.
Tea is delicious, even unsweetened.
Driving is really fun and really relaxing.
Dessert is a necessity.
Good chocolate and good cheese are staples.
Traveling is exciting.
Macs are the best.
Internet memes are dorky, but in a good way.
Sex is great.
Paying attention to politics is important.
Texting is handy.
Roux is the tricky base of a good white sauce.
There is a movie for everything.
Sweatshirts can be very sexy.
It's important to keep fit and strong.
Pictures are priceless.
Doubling the vanilla makes cookies better.
Just about anything can be found and bought on the Internet.
Dry cereal is a great snack for munchies.

My passion.

Things My Boyfriends Unknowingly Taught Me:

It's OK to look like a fool dancing.
Be eager to try new experiences. And foods.
Be honest.
Trying and failing is better than not trying because I'm afraid to fail.
Go the extra mile for yourself, not anyone else.
It's OK to be poor; be rich in love.
Loving books is admirable.
Stand by your convictions.
Hobbies can be lifesaving.
Giving up on a dream is like suicide.
If you really like something about you, I'll really like it, too.
If you really don't like something about you, I'll hate it.
Have worth in the world.
Saying "I'm sorry" can mean a lot.

If you learned something silly or important about life or yourself from a significant other and feel like sharing please do in the comments. I love learning from others' experiences.

December 27, 2009

Geeks, Animals and the Internet

Because no one else gets the joke.

There are a million and one ways to waste extreme amounts of time on the Internet. Fark, Reddit, Fail Blog, I Can Has Cheezburger, Post Secret and Facebook must now make room for It Made My Day and Very Demotivational. There goes productivity. Funny thing is 4 of those are owned by the same dude... Funnier thing is I like this humor so much that I just bought this t-shirt. Probably the dorkiest $15 I've ever spent. Who knew there was a whole store dedicated to merchandise from the very websites I love most? They have make-a-lol refrigerator magnets!!! Speaking of demotivational posters:

If crap like this can be published, inspire a hit movie series, and become a teen phenomenon, your crap can, too.

My thoughts exactly. So what if writing teen romance novels is whoring myself out? Gonna have to pay the bills somehow, and if this is what brings in the money then so be it. Get one or two of these out and I'll be able to support myself while I write something that matters a little more. Or maybe pay off student loans (once I finally get my masters). Or maybe, if I hit the market just right, I can rescue all the unwanted and uncared for elephants in the country. Not too ambitious, is it?

It's for you.

I wonder if the reason I don't know what I really want to do is because the only thing I've ever really wanted to do was be a vet. That's pretty much out of the question at this point, but I still know taking care of animals is something I need to do. I want to volunteer at the Fund for Animals rehab center in Ramona, but work keeps getting in the way. I originally wanted to do this in order to get back in the Education department at the Park, but now I'm rethinking that, too. Behavior sounds like loads of fun, and it would teach me so much about animal habits, personalities and quirks. Volunteering at the rehabilitation center would teach me about care and handling, and I could go back to school for the biology of animals, or maybe ecology. Honestly, when I look at my life 20 years down the road, I see me still actively writing, but maybe mostly animal or research oriented (except for that trashy teen novel), and a house full of animal residents both permanent and temporary. I'm positive helping animals is my calling, I'm just not positive how to go about doing that in the most effective way yet. All I know for sure is my future will involve getting my masters, writing, and taking care of animals. There has to be a way to do all this and support myself, right?

December 20, 2009


A picture of what a bonsai might look like.

Bonsai is both Japanese and Chinese for "tree in a pot." This is ridiculously amusing to me. Lucky me, I got a bonsai at my work holiday party! It's beautifully crafted and I'm imagining it as a perfect centerpiece to a table in my new apartment. Of all the white elephant gifts that night the bonsai was most suited for me.

Speaking of presents suiting me, one of my best and oldest friends sent me a package of books (yay!). One, very typical of her, is about rescued animals who went on to star in movies; another is a John Grisham book; the last is a grammar book. It's that last one that amuses me the most. It's supposed to be funny, and when I opened it to a random page the first sentence I read was a chapter title: "No, you can't has cheezburger!" I lol'd.

Speaking of loling, ever think of something and just start laughing? Today I pictured this image and started laughing all by myself:

This happened while I was driving in my car, so I can only imagine what other drivers must have thought if they saw me alone and visibly laughing.

Speaking of driving, I spent my drive today with miss kitty on my lap. She's so freaking adorable. Even with my hands at 10 and 2, where I could visibly see the latest string of red scratches up and down my hands and wrists, with her sitting so contentedly in my lap I couldn't help but just love her. Sure she attacks me for no reason, biting my hands and hissing at me like she would a dog, but I'm also her comfort zone. She knows she can rely on me for protection and care, and I know that she'll always come back purring after she calms down from attack mode.

Miss princess. "Whazzat?!"

December 9, 2009

Squeaky Wheel Gets The Oil

Angalifu, an unloved gentleman.

I make a great squeaky wheel when I want something. Thanks to me taking every opportunity to voice my desire for work hours, my willingness to clean bird and kangaroo shit, and a big thanks to 2 coworkers who frequently give me their shifts, I get as many hours as the more senior staff. Hooray! Even better, I'm getting some extra hours being guide trained. Today was my first mock tour on the back of the truck with my supervisor and lead; it was nerve wracking, but it motivated me to go straight home, dig out an old notebook and compile information I need to work on.

But I feel a little restricted. What I can talk about with guests is strictly limited to the PR approved material submitted to my department. Most of this restriction is surrounding the 2007 wildfires and my unwillingness to blatantly lie to guests, but I also know there's a ton of information we could be saying that we don't. Granted, this is a 15 minute tour and there's a million things to talk about, so everything gets 15 seconds in the spotlight before it's time to move on. Still, knowing there's information out there we really aren't supposed to access, much less share, kind of bugs me. I may be just starting to spread my wings as a guide, but I feel like I can be, do and give so much more.

I also discovered an interest I apparently have: southern Californian conservation. Torrey Pines interest me a great deal, as does the WAP Nativescapes garden and California coastal sage scrub. I didn't have much interest in plants before I started learning about them, and that southern California is a biodiversity hotspot (who knew?), but having a better understanding of my own habitat and its international conservation status is changing that. This makes me pretty excited.

Nola, a true gentle giant and one of the last of her species.

I still have greater goals and still am interested in the creatures I no longer get close to (or even see) to research them on my own. There have been conflicting reports on the wild population of Northern white rhinos for years now, but my own searches show nothing new. It's well accepted that the subspecies is extinct in the wild and will be completely extinct probably before 2050. In my own lifetime I will see a species I feel personally connected to go completely extinct. If that's not depressing I don't know what is. Too bad animals can't be their own squeaky wheels. It's up to us to be their voice.

December 7, 2009

Save The Pandas

In the grocery store I made an ecologically responsible decision. For some reason peanut butter has been sounding good lately so I grabbed a loaf of bread and checked out the PB on sale. Skippy has a "natural" PB, so I peeked at the ingredients to determine just how "natural" it was. It didn't matter; it uses palm oil.

If palm oil were a fish it would be on the Environmental Defense Fund's "eco-worst" list. The countries that produce palm oil (Malaysia, Indonesia) destroy the natural tropical forests to plant the oil palm, thereby causing several species to become even more endangered, most notably the Sumatran tiger, greater one-horned rhino and orangutan. The demand for this product is also causing global climate change to speed up due to the loss of forests.

So, right there in the bread aisle, I checked every packaged item in my bag for palm oil. Disappointment. I got all excited that Nestle cookie dough was 2 for $4, but the margarine it uses contains palm oil. (FYI: Pillsbury does not use palm oil, but it uses something even more disturbing, chocolate flavored bits.) Dammit, Nestle. Now I can't buy your delicious cookies anymore.

Yesterday, while shopping for an ugly Christmas sweater, I discovered one of those WWF panda t-shirts. They usually go for $30 and $1 goes to the WWF (that is, when you buy it at Nordstrom, not off the WWF website). This one, being in a used clothing store, was just $6 and red with a bunch of pandas on it. So I bought it, and felt good not only about buying a used clothing item but that whoever originally bought it paid the dollar donation. Win win win.

All this brings me to an interesting point. With all the effort to conserve species and habitat these days (from recycling to not buying products with palm oil), pandas do nothing to help their species survive. Seriously. Pandas are carnivorous bears, but they eat pretty much only bamboo, a nutrient deficient weed. They live in frickin' freezing climates and not only don't bother to hibernate or migrate to warmer temperatures, but they can have their young during the coldest months of the year. Oh, and their babies look like something a marsupial would give birth to and then store in a pouch for a few months. They're just not built for survival, yet people are so fascinated by them and floored by their cuteness that they became the symbol of the WWF.

Part of our problem as a modern planet is we got used to things like processed foods and convenience (this will make you cry). I'm going to make a more conscious effort to check my food and make-up purchases for palm oil so the tigers, rhinos and orangutans can live another day. And one day I'll even have the ability to make time and financial contributions to the conservancy charities I believe in.