February 28, 2010


Though I'm very pleased to say I have no major regrets in my life (you know, like "if only I didn't drive drunk that night" or "if only I didn't get pregnant," things like that), there are a few small things I would re-do if I had a time machine.

I wouldn't have told my friend I was hoping someone else would ask me to the 8th grade dance.
I would have taken my guinea pig to the emergency clinic sooner.
I wouldn't have postponed colorguard a year because of money.
I would have asked for a necropsy on my cat.
I would have kept that guy's phone number from speech class.
I would have found a stranger to live with when I first moved to San Diego.
I would have applied to shuttles sooner.
I wouldn't have been so mean to my friend after I kissed him.
I wouldn't have fallen for that scam.
I would have moved into a 2-bedroom apartment with my sister when she moved here.
I would have told The Ex I didn't want to be his girlfriend anymore.
And I would have created immediate space between us. Same for Boyfriend #1.

There are other regrets I have but would have no control over, even with a time machine.

I regret the confusion and pain that comes with a divorce.
I regret (very deeply) having to leave our house and the animals I loved buried behind.
I regret my mom's downward spiral.
I regret not noticing my sister's downward spiral.
I regret my dad's choice in women, mostly his choice of women over kids.
I regret how my parent's actions post-divorce has affected us all.

Mostly, if I had the opportunity to go back in time and change the course of events I would be more aware of how my actions affect others, as well as how other's actions affect me. Maybe I wouldn't be so trusting of others, or maybe I would have just listened to my gut. First things first, though: time machine.

February 27, 2010



Surprisingly (to me, at least), the topic of a guardianship has been quite a nag. Pretty much everyone knows the story of my mom's supposed guardianship over my finances while I was in college and how that fiasco played out. But a new version has cropped up, involving my 22-year old sister.

(Goddamn history repeating itself. I wish things would just happen once and then be done.)

The difference between my story and my sister's is my mom had a legal right to do what she did (even if it was shitty), whereas my sister is subject to control not by a parent, but by our dad's latest girlfriend. Shocked? Me too.

For probably very prudent reasons my sister moved in with our dad and our youngest sister. I think it's great my two sisters are living together at last. There was a verbal agreement that my sister would follow basic house rules and adhere to a written agreement set up between them. But when she moved in she was handed a contract written in highly legal terms that designated our dad and his girlfriend (who, by the way, does not live at the house) as her guardians. I've said this before and I'll say it again: Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. Seriously.

Though an agreement of some sort is probably wise, I think a signed legalistic contract is going a bit far when it's your daughter who has in all cases proven to be a very responsible adult for nearly a year, after suffering the debilitating effects of a crumbled engagement, alcoholic mother, absent father, distant sister, and split family. Furthermore, the term guardian is a legally charged one. The following paragraphs are taken from the book I just finished:
There are two levels of social welfare protection- trusteeship and guardianship.
A trustee steps in to offer voluntary help for individuals who, for various reasons, have problems managing their daily lives, paying their bills, or taking proper care of their hygiene. The person who is appointed as a trustee is often a relative or close friend. If there is no-one close to the person in question, the welfare authorities can appoint a trustee. Trusteeship is a mild form of guardianship, in which the client– the person declared incompetent– still has control over his or her assets and decisions are made in consultation with the trustee.
Guardianship is a stricter form of control, in which the client is relieved of the authority to handle his or her own money or to make decisions regarding various matters. The exact wording states that the guardian shall take over all of the client's legal powers... The most common reason for a guardianship is mental illness or mental illness in conjunction with heavy abuse of alcohol or drugs. A smaller group includes those suffering from dementia. Many of the individuals under guardianship are relatively young– thirty-five or less...
Taking away a person's control of her own life– meaning her bank account– is one of the greatest infringements a democracy can impose, especially when it applies to young people. It is an infringement even if the intent may be perceived as benign and socially valid.
Though these paragraphs refer to Swedish welfare in a novel, the concept is identical. A "family meeting" of sorts was held when I visited last weekend and I was asked (by my sisters) to sit in on it. It's well known among us that I have the greatest amount of control over our dad and the middle sister has the greatest say in matters involving our mom. When I brought up the legal meaning of the word guardian our dad's girlfriend admitted maybe she should have used a different word, like landlord. Then we asked why, exactly, she felt entitled to any control whatsoever over our dad's adult children.

Some background: From where we stand, we will honor and respect any relationship our parents have because they deserve to have someone to love and love them back. But the buck stops there. No relationship our parents have will be anything more than their relationship. If our dad marries this woman she will be our dad's wife. Not our stepmom. She took no part in raising us, is not a mother figure, and is not getting any sort of title implying otherwise. Same for our mom: when she remarries that man will be simply her husband, not our stepdad. Our youngest sister is months away from being a legal adult and already acts like one; she got the short end of the stick by being 10 when our parents divorced, but our mom did a great job with us older kids and we in turn did a pretty good job with her. However, since the divorce our parents have completely abandoned us at least once for a lover. We've learned that those relationships don't last (even if they are adamant they will) and us sisters will always be there for each other.

So when the youngest of us asked our dad's girlfriend what gave her the right to have any control over us (I was so proud!), she said our dad had asked her to take charge. I was so unsurprised. Our dad has a long history of no backbone. When he realized the divorce meant he actually had to be a parent he freaked. He has his moments of awesome, but he's so willing to listen to anyone else when it comes to parenting that he flip flops all over the moon. First he wants to practice tough love, then he wants to be your best friend, then he's swearing off dating, then he's leaving you with no dinner so he can go on a date with some wench who plays him. The only consistency we see is his inconsistency. Which is why, very bravely, our youngest sister said she can't get real close with some girl our dad is dating. When you look at the history of our family's relationships you can see why: marriage fell apart, our mom lived with a man who cheated on her and got engaged soon after, our dad bounced from woman to woman, the middle sister was once engaged, and even I thought my last relationship would be it. Life just doesn't work that way, and we've all learned the hard way.

Us sisters are incredibly protective of each other. If our mom did only one thing right it was to encourage such a strong bond between us. It's unbreakable; we even go so far to consider our "family" to be mostly just us. We truly embody the idea of a family, whereas our parents sometimes do more talking about family than acting like one. I can't imagine anything that would change our bond, and I wouldn't want a life without them.

February 20, 2010

Ode To A Snail

More than you ever cared to know about this particular snail.

It all started two years ago when I visited my sister. I noticed she had a very pretty fish, but she felt blasé about it. I told her if she ever got bored of it I'd adopt it. I'd been petless for some time and a fish sounded good- after all, it would come with all the ingredients I needed, and I'd had plenty of time to forget about why I swore off fish the last time.

Well, a couple of months later I got that fish. I brought him into work and bought a live plant for the tank. Some weeks later half a dozen tiny ramshorn snails were crawling around. An egg sack must have been on a leaf. Out of curiosity I left the snails alone, wondering if they'd be beneficial for the tank ecosystem. I started noticing I didn't need to clean the tank as often, and eventually stopped cleaning it at all. The plant looked healthier than ever and the fish didn't seem to mind his tankmates.

Then the snails started reproducing. Six individuals turned into 26, which turned into 56. Soon I was on craigslist finding homes for my surplus of snails. But each time I gave away a round of snails this one stuck out, and him I always kept. Soon he was much bigger than the rest and moved much quicker than any snail I'd seen. This snail became a "he" (even though snails are probably asexual and was really an "it") and I kind of called him my big snail. I became fond of him.

Then, soon after I moved into my studio, the fish died. I would have closed up shop if not for my big snail. So I went about acquiring some new fish to try maintaining the order of the ecosystem. The snails kept breeding and I kept finding people on craigslist who wanted them. Life went on as usual.

Not sure what that weird appendage is...

Then one day I accidently gave away all the other snails. I'd always purposely kept a few so they could continue breeding and cleaning the tank, and every time more snails would come out from the rocks. But once I really did give them all away, except for my big snail. After a few days I began the search for new snails. The pet stores weren't helpful. I could buy a snail for $2 but it wasn't a ramshorn and probably wouldn't breed. Finally someone on craigslist offered me snails and I went to pick them up. Alas, they weren't ramshorn, but I figured they'd last until I found one.

Never did find another ramshorn. Odd how they just appeared on my plant, yet are difficult to purposefully find. As time went on my two new snails reproduced into the million or so I have currently. They don't do as great a job as the ramshorn did, so I keep most of them (giving a few away here and there to friends with fish). My big snail never seemed to mind the tiny little snails clinging to his big, round shell. They almost seemed friends, these two snail species.

Then, last week, my big snail started to obviously deteriorate. He stopped moving around so much, his shell has signs of wear, and he was on what I viewed as his back, antenna still. Using chopsticks I righted him and he moved on to the plants for what would be his last meal. The next day he was belly up again, and one last time I righted him. When, on the third day, he retreated within his shell I knew it was over. His flesh was dark, his antenna motionless. By night time his body had withered so much it could no longer be contained inside the shell, and he floated up.

I will miss my big ramshorn snail. He was great entertainment, as great as watching a snail move can get, and he almost even had personality. I will keep his shell as a reminder of and tribute to my big snail. I hope he's having a swimmingly good time in the big pond in the sky.

February 17, 2010


I've written about Lent before. In fact, my very first post in this blog began with a list of things I've given up in the past. This year, however, will be the first year I give up nothing.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day of fasting, of going to church, of being marked with an ashy cross on your forehead (see photo above) and eating fish on Fridays. In the last few years I've done less and less in celebration of the season. Five years ago I fasted, went to church and and swore off chocolate. I also visited the nurse practitioner for my first gynecological exam and bought birth control. She happened to glance at the calendar and noted the date. Then she asked if I'd eaten because the hormones in the patch can wreak havoc on the stomach. She was surprised when I told her I was fasting for Lent. Good little Catholic girl in the city college health center getting birth control on Ash Wednesday because she's no longer a virgin. What has the world come to?

This year I visited Planned Parenthood for more birth control. Notice a pattern? (FYI: it's free condom week.) However, this year I did not fast, did not go to church, did not give up anything, and will probably eat meat on Fridays. I've written a lot about religion this year, mostly bashing the extremists, and if one were to follow my posts one would see my relatively steep religious decline. I've gone from firmly believing in God but disturbed by Christians to not really knowing if I believe in God and far from calling myself a Christian. It will be interesting to see where I'll be next year at this time.

February 16, 2010

Beautiful Day

Ah, Valentine's Day. That wonderful day when love is in the air, romance blossoms and spring is just around the corner. The Wild Animal Park would certainly have you believing in all this love and romance. Thanks to the recent abundant rains the whole county is green as can be and so welcoming to the eye. Rhinos and Cape buffalo loll in the grass like dogs, ducks have paired off and begun roaming the grounds for a suitable nest site (FYI, ducks: underneath the trolley shed is not a suitable nest site), weaver birds are furiously building their hanging masterpieces, elephants are giving birth and thousands of people spent their long weekend at the Park.

I was excited to spend this Valentine's day unattached; I had friends over for wine, dessert and Twilight with Rifftracks. And I didn't even go to bed alone: my pretty kitty cuddled with me until I had to get up for work.

Apparently Valentine's day is a gift-giving occasion.

But what I'm even more excited about is the end of jewelry commercials. They've dropped all subtlety. One that aired last week showed a man excitedly giving his woman a teapot. When she got all pissy he tried to justify it by saying all she drinks is tea. So next holiday he gives her another teapot and inside it is a diamond heart-shaped necklace. She says something to the effect of "now this shows me how much you care." So, him paying attention to her habits, knowing she likes tea, and buying a pretty teapot doesn't show he cares as much as a generic necklace every other thick-skulled douche is buying. Sad.

February 12, 2010

Abstinence Only

Recycled, but still awesome.

Here's a novel idea: let's take morals and misinformation out of abstinence-only sexual education.

Gasp! No! Think of the children!

Surely kids will just go out and fuck like bunnies if we don't tell them sex is bad and evil and condoms are the tool of Satan. Or, like this one study may suggest, maybe they'll actually delay having sex for another year or two.

It's certainly an interesting concept. We've been so used to associating abstinence-only with religion and often hear outright lies that make us cringe. But, stay with me a minute, what if we told kids to wait until they're really ready for the very real consequences of sex, rather than telling them they'll die if they don't wait until marriage? It's like telling your kids they can't date until they're married. And, by the way, didn't you (yes, you) have sex before you were married, to someone not your spouse? If you say no you're either lying, Steve Carell, or you got married before you were 21.

Or you were conceived immaculately.

It's pretty common knowledge, even among the uber-religious, that kids are interested in, curious about and willing to have sex. Teens still need to know how to properly obtain and use birth control, because a pregnant 17 year-old is no better than a pregnant 15 year-old, and abstinence-only, even when used properly, will only delay sex by a couple years at best. Sooner or later teens will have sex; if they've never heard about the effectiveness of birth control or know how to obtain it they'll just risk it.

Schools are no doubt in a difficult position because much of sexuality should be handled by parents before their children's sexuality even becomes an issue. By the time puberty sets in and kids experience those embarrassing changes they've already noticed the opposite sex in that way. Parents ought to be giving their kids a heads up about the next couple years, let them know their opinions on sex, and hope and pray they've done a good job raising responsible sub-adults. But parents are pussies.

I'm not sure if people still think the mere mention of sex will turn chaste children into sex fiends, but unless you're raising your kids in a cave without any communication with the world (including Bambi) and you and your spouse are also celibate, sex is going to come up eventually so you may as well be prepared to discuss it. Sure, sex is designed for procreation, and teenagers have no business procreating, but we're one of the lucky animals who have sex for pleasure (and us ladies even have a whole organ for the sole purpose of pleasure!), and pleasurable sex is a good quality for a spouse to have. Humans are the only creatures who turn sex into something dirty, and I wish we'd just be honest about it, not only with our kids but with ourselves.

February 5, 2010

So There's This Boy...

He's sweet, respectful, cute, adores me, likes my cat, likes my friends and is liked in return. The catch? He doesn't live in San Diego.

What's a girl to do with a potentially great, yet long distance, boyfriend? This lady is really, really not a fan of those sorts of relationships, especially since I'm pretty darn broke and whoring myself out for any available shift, which means being too afraid to leave the San Diego area for longer than a day. I've also tried long distance before and let's just say it wasn't the best year I've ever had.

I like this boy. But is it worth starting a relationship knowing the only way we'd see each other more than once every month (or two) is if he spends the time, money and effort coming to San Diego when I can't promise even one work-free day to spend with him? I can't justify getting into a relationship that one-sided, and I'm in no place to make any promises or plans now, especially with the busy season right around the corner.

If I were more romantic and prone to give in to my heart's every desire we'd already be all official and shit. But (obviously) I'm not all that romantic. I'm a realist, a cynic and a severe skeptic. Sure we might work well together and might be very happy but the long distance thing is a blinking stop sign I can't ignore.

When in doubt, post pictures of animals.

That, and it's been just over 6 months since the end of my last (very serious) relationship... I'm not so sure I'm ready for a new one. Especially around Valentine's Day. This time I want to be single. Hellooo single ladies, it's time for chocolate and champagne!

February 3, 2010

Big Decisions

Can I win the lottery so I can do this for free all day?

Today I discovered a very large kink in my plan. (If you remember, The Plan was to become a guide in Flightline so I could secure a guide position in Photo Caravans over summer, and hope and pray and beg like a dog to be kept on, or possibly find the means to weasel my way into some other animal-involved department in fall, and then begin schooling in animal sciences.)

Several obstacles are preventing this plan from coming to fruition:

1. I'm still not a guide, and still have not gone through interpretive training, despite repeated requests and affirmations of desire to do so.

2. The department thinks it will be better to wait until after spring break, when I can be trained with all the temporary hires, even though I've already given damn good mock tours, and my coworker and I are both ready. I can see the logic in wanting to train as many people at the same time, but I definitely think having 2 more guides before all the new kids get here and before the spring break rush would be better use of time.

3. Since I am technically a new hire in Flightline, rather than having simply switched departments (due to that damn 3-week in-between), I'm still in probation. This means no loans, no special assignments, and no switching departments until next month.

4. Photo caravans is hiring now. I can't make next week's deadline. Nor would I be hired as a guide because I have no more real experience than I did a year ago, and they just aren't motivated to keep just a driver.

I'm starting to think there aren't as many reasons to stay as I want there to be. I'm so in love with the Park and want my ashes scattered over East Africa, but I can't continue living like this. I've been sick for a month and am too afraid to go to a doctor or clinic because I can't afford it and don't want any more debt. I need to fix my car. I want to not feel guilty for eating something besides rice. I need to build up a little bit of savings, and I want to go back to school.

I wish I knew what I wanted to do with my life... If I could just get back in school (for anything, at this point) I could defer those thoughts for, oh 3 years or so.

February 1, 2010

Goodbye, Banker's Hill.

My studio apartment, number 4.

Today I'm officially no longer a Community resident. It was a little depressing doing my final walk-through, cleaning and turning in my keys. That apartment was mine. All mine. My first own apartment. The first place I've ever lived that I could do whatever I wanted with and not worry about someone else's opinion. I could walk around naked, come and go at any hour, bring anyone home at any time, keep anything in the fridge, know that the cleaning I did was because of my messes, and watch Planet Earth every night without feeling like a super nerd.

I did a lot of growing up in that apartment. I became single for the first time in 7 years. I made friends with (...and made out with) my neighbors. I stayed in one place for a year, a whole lease. I bought curtains and dishes and I refinished the counter. I had a window planter for herbs and a fish tank. The mail coming in was all for me (except sometimes it was for my neighbor in #14) and I was there long enough for the non-profits I used to donate money to find me. I got jury duty and rode the old-fashioned lime green Community bike downtown. I had a running path in Balboa Park, waved to the same bums every time and could walk to at least 2 Starbucks, 2 damn fine pizza places, and the Zoo. I escaped arguably the most unhealthy living situation and gave Chloe a space free of other cats (except for the one time I tried introducing her to my neighbor's cat), where she wouldn't be forced to live under my bed. I lived through unemployment and found strength deep enough to end my relationship. I had sleepovers with friends and family and broke my post-breakup dry spell. I loved that apartment like it was a best friend.

Fortunately I'm really liking my new apartment. It helps a lot that my cat is so happy with all the new space and carpet (she never did learn to run on hardwood with her claws retracted) and I have a roommate I already liked and got along with. I was slightly worried that after a year of living alone I would feel less adult by moving in with a roommate but he's so responsible (and clean!) that this is a completely different experience from what I had in the past. It's OK that I'm not in my favorite part of San Diego anymore; I can always go back. And sometimes it's just worth it to leave, even if it will be terribly missed.