September 29, 2011

In Which I Am 4

How I feel most of the time.

When I get discouraged about the world, especially if I don't have a job, the first thing I do is stop listening to or reading the news (and why I turn to Fark and Reddit for my news more than ever). The news can be really depressing, and if you're spending weeks and months looking for a job or stability hearing how the economy might be double dipping isn't very encouraging.

Even though I have a job the news is still discouraging. The somewhat recent Rupert Murdoch scandals and the political turmoil over the United States debt makes me feel like people in high places are just as out to get us as anyone else. And now there's even more games in our government with the upcoming debates and elections, now the only word on our minds is "jobs" and we're throwing away our environment because the jobs are worth it right now. Which makes me wonder, like a child, why do people do bad things to other people? Am I just naive to think that people, especially those in higher positions, should be good and decent? Is it really silly to think that the people we hire and elect to protect us and our interests should actually protect us and our interests?

I haven't decided if I'm an idealist or just naive, but I don't think it's very hard for the world to be a better place. Children should all be wanted and have good lives, leaders should protect their people and not starve or kill them, and people everywhere should act like people, not wild animals. But we have greed and corruption all over the world that make it near impossible for the honest people to get a leg up, or even keep going. Sometimes it feels like the bad people overwhelm the good ones. It'd be nice if everyone could be good and we could all get along.

Maybe I am 4 again.

September 25, 2011

Happy 18th Birthday, Milo

It's definitely getting harder and harder to still say he'd be however old if he were still alive; cats can live to be 18 but not very often, and especially not if they go outside. But I can still pretend.

Usually twice a year I write about how that cat was more than a cat: the day he was born and the day he died. Milo was the best Christmas present I could have ever imagined and there's nothing I could think that could be better. I might've only gotten 8 years with him, which was entirely too few, but in those 8 years he affected a lot of people.

Milo was the love of my life. But he was a lot of things to a lot of other people, too. Milo was the big strong brother of Peanut, my sister's cat. He defended her against the other cats in the neighborhood, taking them on in the middle of the night, even losing part of his fang. Milo and Peanut would tear though our house like horses, chasing each other in their games. They would both taunt the neighbor dog, a giant German shepherd, who got loose twice to nearly kill each of them.

When we got bunk beds, Milo spent more nights in my sister's bed than mine because cats like to be up high. One morning she woke up covered in feathers and had a small panic attack. Milo was a very successful hunter and she tore through her bed looking for the body of the poor bird he had undoubtedly dragged to her bed. It turned out that he only killed her dream catcher, not a live bird.

Milo didn't get along with the other animals in our house, though. He'd watch the birds with interest, probably wondering why we'd keep them in the house in a cage, he ran from the dog, and he mostly hated my sister's cat, Scar. Scar was BFF with the neighbor cat and they played all the time (Milo was way too good to join in). But when their games led to Scar's death, Milo started to tolerate (even befriend) the neighbor cat. I found them laying on the sunny grass right next to each other, as if having some sort of cat conversation.

Soon after that, Milo started to go over to the neighbor's house in the mornings. He'd help himself to the other cat's food (it was more expensive than what I fed him), get into bed with the neighbor girl and wake her up, and spend a few minutes with the family. The mom was the first one to find him after he'd been hit by a car, and she was as distraught as my own mom.

I'd always thought I'd take Milo to college with me, and it wasn't until I got there that I realized he would have hated it. I suppose it was for the best that I didn't have to make that decision; in our home he could roam where he wanted, he knew enough to avoid predators and cars (making his death highly suspicious), and was king of his land. He might not have done so well in San Diego, but leaving him would have killed me.

As always, I'll end this by saying I know no cat will ever be like Milo was, even though that will never stop me from keeping and loving Chloe and any future cats. But maybe tonight Chloe will get some extra love, a can of wet food and maybe a little catnip, just because.

September 11, 2011

If We Don't Finish What We Started, The Terrorists Win

The morning of September 11, 2001

Ten years ago I was a new junior in high school. It was homework period in colorguard so I wore something a little cuter than normal because I didn't have to worry about getting them dirty spinning in mud. But when the carpool arrived, the mom shouted across the driveway to our mom that the World Trade Center went down. None of us knew what the World Trade Center was, but we could tell this was something big. At school, first period was homework and listening to the radio. I still didn't understand what was going on, only that terrorists from the Middle East somewhere flew our planes into two buildings in New York and a lot of people died.

I could grasp the seriousness of the situation but understanding it would take much of the next decade. Class that day consisted almost exclusively of teachers trying to answer questions and letting us mostly listen to the radio or do work silently. When I got home the news was on (it would stay on for a whole week) and both my parents were home. Over and over we watched as one plane after the other came out of absolutely nowhere to crash with incredible accuracy into the side of one of the tallest buildings in the world and stay there, burning a giant hole. Then we watched as smoke, ash, papers and debris flew over the streets of New York City covering citizens and firefighters from head to toe, people lying injured and bleeding, people running literally for their lives as cameras bravely rolled on. Then, we saw footage of people in the towers jumping from windows far, far too high. Many people jumped, which is something I still don't quite understand. That was perhaps the hardest thing to witness.

As a nation we were first shocked and scared, but we quickly turned to unity with one another and became angry, fully backing the war we'd just been brought into. Whatever it took to make the perps pay for the thousands of lives they cost (and the hundreds of thousands of lives that would eventually be lost) was justifiable.

Over the years America became overtly racist towards Muslims and anyone looking even remotely Middle Eastern. Then we started losing our own rights, one by one, in the name of protecting us from terrorists. First the Patriot Act, then losing virtually every freedom we had in airports, then allowing our phones and conversations and sometimes even our properties to be monitored by the government, all of which is justified by saying you have nothing to worry about if you have nothing to hide. What ever happened to "give me liberty of give me death?"

We've become so paranoid about another attack that we're willing to live in the shadow of fear for the rest of our lives or give up what were once basic rights. Because of one attempt we now have to take our shoes off at airports, plus all metal, plus go through a metal detector, and now (in addition to everything) body scanners that show our naked bodies and be pat down by a disgruntled and underpaid TSA employees. For what? Are we safer? Does turning over our nail clippers make us less likely to encounter another terrorist? I don't feel like it does.

However, I'd rather live with that risk and have an enjoyable life. I'd rather not be looking at every person with dark skin and a beard or a hijab and wonder if they're plotting against me. I'd rather take my chances when I fly than be forced to undress for a stranger. I'd rather live freely in the Land of the Free than be afraid of the police who are supposed to protect me, wondering if some innocent thing I do will be considered suspicious. But I feel alone in these preferences. So many of those I know would rather spend an hour in airport security half naked because it makes them feel safer in the air, or allowing phone tapping because, as true patriots, they have nothing to hide. If there's even a chance that these measures will prevent another terrorist attack they'll allow them, even if it impacts our way of life.

This is not what it means to be an American. If we were attacked for our way of life we should be living that way of life louder and prouder than ever. We should taunt those who hate us, beg them to try again. But we aren't. For the last ten years we've been afraid, deeply divided, and hateful of anyone that isn't us. We've given up on our schools, our economy, and fortifying the strength of our country on our soil in favor of "helping" other countries form democracies and ensuring our safety overseas.

What if we just said fuck it, we're done, we tried and we're calling quits. What if we stopped spending the billions on Iraq and Afghanistan and started spending that money on educating our kids so we can be even stronger in 40 years, or providing jobs to those who have been out of work for 6 months or more so we can have a strong and vibrant economy again? What if we cared about our people and our country half as much as we cared about other countries, and what if we spent our defense money on protecting our borders? I'd be very interested to see.

There are hundreds who died ten years ago saving, or trying to save, the lives of others, and hundreds of thousands of others deeply affected by September 11, 2001. I'm grateful I didn't lose anyone in those attacks, grateful those I know in our armed forces returned to their families, grateful I was as old as I was when the attacks happened. I'm sad to see the direction my country went after that day and I hope one day we turn around and can become the hopeful, strong, leading country we used to be again. I also hope those who lost someone due to the attacks and the wars that followed will heal and were OK today. Finally, I hope those lives weren't lost in vain and that something good will again come from all of this.

September 8, 2011

Power Outage 2011

This thought did cross my mind.

I remember where I was September 8, 2011, the day of the Power Outage 2011. It was about 3:40 in the afternoon and I was sitting at my desk at work, taking a mental break from writing about garage doors and reading about the toll September 11, 2001 had on the children of those who died. This is something I found funny… reading about destruction and despair as the whole city (and soon other states and part of another country) loses power. We’ll lose power for a few minutes because of bad weather or some car accident, but it’s usually localized and back on in a matter of minutes. I immediately posted my enthusiasm for the break in routine to Facebook and then texted my boyfriend. It was when he responded with “here, too,” that I knew the power outage wasn’t localized and wasn’t likely to be back on. He was on the other side of town, so far away that there was no way some accident or overuse of power or other normal cause of an outage was the culprit. This was citywide.

Soon I got text messages from other friends, and started sending them to people in San Diego’s extremities. Downtown? Out. Escondido? Out. Coronado? Out. The power outage had reached from Carlsbad to downtown/Coronado, and from the oceans to La Mesa. This was going to be big.

Within the first half hour reports came in that the outage extended as far north as San Clemente (Orange County) to as far south as parts of Mexico (a whole other country), and as far east as Arizona and New Mexico (other states). I was constantly texting my friends and refreshing Facebook for updates; I knew that Los Angeles was safe from the lack of updates from Facebook and because my family members hadn’t texted, but the rest of us were in for an interesting night.

That was when the excitement really hit. At first the power outage was an interesting distraction from the monotony of work. But after the first 30 minutes it became clear this wasn’t going away soon, and because by then it was already after 4pm there wasn’t much reason to remain at work. I did, though, because no one else was leaving and because I’d heard that the freeways were more like parking lots, but when 5pm rolled around and the power still wasn’t back on I peaced out.

I headed to South Park with a friend in search of fun. We found free gelato and $1.50 beers in a candlelit bar. After that I met up with my boyfriend at his friend’s house in my neighborhood for more candlelit atmosphere (and more beer), and after that I headed home, because my day tomorrow is scheduled as normal.

And as I write this (on Word, using the battery on my borrowed laptop), I’m alone in my candle-lit apartment, snacking on my dinner of cold jalapeno artichoke dip and chips, and feeling like my boyfriend should be here to appreciate the ambiance. Candles might be girly but they’re also ridiculously sexy. Candlelight makes anyone look hot and sets the perfect mood… as much as I wanted to be alone tonight, now I wish I wasn’t.

Although I do need the money, I hope the power outage lasts long enough to let me leave work tomorrow. If that happens I’ll bring the fish that’s sitting in my fridge (that I *just* bought) to my friend’s house and with her gas stove and/or barbecue we’ll make a feast. It’ll be a day I’m not at work, which will make it automatically good, and it’ll be a day I’m with my lady, which will make it automatically great, and eventually the power will come back on and everything will return to normal and, hopefully, I won’t have lost much food. Because honestly that’s the worst that can happen.

Oh hey, it's 11pm and the power came back on. Well what do you know.

September 2, 2011

Do Not Want

Alright, guys... here's your fair warning to turn away now. This is another post about my bodily functions.

I'm pretty sure I'm just looking for an excuse to use this.

I got my period. Again. (You were warned.)

Normally this is not ever an event worth talking about (much, much less one worth committing to the Internet), but due to recent events I'm back on birth control, after a glorious whole 5 week break, and once this period is over it means I'm safe.


The other day I went to the San Diego Museum of Man and one of their exhibits is about reproduction and birth. The most disturbing thing in the whole museum is a 3D display of how a woman's pelvic bone expands to allow a baby's head to fit through it. Bone fucking moves. First off, it's incredibly amazing that a woman's body can do that (and also, babies skulls are soft and they sort of squish to pass through the bone... incredible). It should not be possible, but it is. Second, holy FUCK no. I'm absolutely convinced that I would die if I had to go through childbirth. Even though I know women much smaller than me have been successfully giving birth to much larger babies than I was, it still seems far too impossible to be real. It didn't help much to view that exhibit the day I should have gotten my period; when my period is even a few hours late I go into a mini freak-out mode because I'm paranoid, but because I've messed with it a bit the last couple months (and my body and I are pretty tight... I knew what was up) I kept mostly calm. But looking at how a bone goddamn moves to allow a giant baby skull to pass through it when your period should have already come is enough to drive a sane person mad.

Hence the post about me getting my period.

Also, as much as I love writing about condoms, and using the image of the pope when talking about sex, I really hate using them. I'm not entirely sure what it is about them; I thought it was a latex sensitivity but the latex-free ones aren't any better. Regardless, a little discomfort during sex is ten bazillion times better than passing an 8 pound baby (aka the only STD that can outlast you), so latex sensitivity or not, I'm gonna have to suck it up. Because...

This made me lol.

September 1, 2011

Elephants in Raincoats

Go ahead. Just try to find a cuter picture.

I've recently been introduced to my calling.

Over two years ago I realized I'll probably never be happy unless animals are a very large part of my life, which means they'll need to be part of my work life. Whether that's working with them directly, writing about them, or working with people for their benefit, having animals only in my personal life just ain't going to cut it.

Then I saw this article. Because of human actions these baby elephants are orphans. However, because of human actions these orphan elephants are loved and cared for. They even get raincoats! That's what I want to do. I want to give orphan elephants their raincoats.

Elephants are like people, perhaps more than any other animal. We might be almost genetically identical to bonobos but when it comes to animal emotion I'm convinced elephants share a more similar mind. This means elephants, especially baby elephants, experience something very similar to PTSD. Just like a human child would be scarred for life after experiencing the death of a parent, a baby elephant would be traumatized.

If I had a lot of money I would buy a lot of land (like, tons) and use the space as a sanctuary for elephants here that are neglected, abused, unwanted or unable to be cared for. They would be able to live out the rest of their lives on that land, be fed, be able to interact with other elephants, be cared for when they needed it, and not be made to work or perform. It would be like the Black Beauty Ranch, except just for elephants (and hey, maybe Babe would want to come to have some company).

And then there's this picture:

How fucking amazing is this?!?

Clearly I am not in the right place in the world. Screw my fear of chemistry and being halfway decent at math... I could be in veterinary school right now.

When I become a world famous author and have the money or enough pull to get the fundraising necessary to pull off my dream, that's exactly what I'm going to do. In the meantime, I'll find a way to meet myself halfway.