Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

In Which I Return to Reality January 3, 2011

Happy 2011, everyone!

Tis I, your favorite unemployed writer/photographer/adventurer extraordinaire returned from the jungles of our nation’s capital and beyond. After three weeks of fairly solid R&R (my definition of which is admittedly a bit wonky and includes exploring the frigid streets of New York and Washington, learning to run hills because northern Virginia’s Escheresque laws of physics cause streets to only run on a steep, perpetual incline, and holiday activities such as taking our car to the mechanic twice and baking 657 cookies that I couldn’t eat  due to my Christmas-crushing wheat allergy….), I’m returning to reality with superhuman motivation.

Par example: In three weeks’ time, the cats had transformed our cozy little apartment into a DEN OF DESTRUCTION. It was like a feline Lord of the Flies – reduced to their primal instincts in order to survive (never mind we have automatic feeders and a friend was checking on them every other day…), they’d removed two-thirds of the Christmas ornaments from our tree and hid them strategically (or not) around the house, dragged the faux moss from one of our houseplants into their litter box and somehow managed to track litter into *every* corner of the house.

But, with the precision of two seasoned cat owners, Jeff and I tackled the wreckage in a matter of a couple of hours (eat your heart out, FEMA). Then it was on to more important matters – namely, that I am still jobless. And yet, somehow I’ve managed to rack up a To Do list longer than Bernie Sanders’ filibuster. The common thread among the items on this list? The shared goal of putting my talents (besides my ability to balances sixteen water glasses on a single tray) to work. Granted, I can see that if I don’t act fast to get myself some kind of temporary back-up, I’ll be running into an old friend I like to call Financial Ruin. But even if I’m stocking quilted duvets at Bed Bath & Beyond or (god forbid) waiting a table or two again, at least I’ve got The Machine whirring away in the background. The gears have been greased. My list of Things and Stuff is rolling. I feel like I’ve been playing the role of starving artist ever since college and that maybe all I really need to do is push it just a notch harder, work just a little smarter, shrug this idea off my shoulders that creativity is for the privileged few, and make. it. work.

I may be getting a little redundant with this line of thinking, but if it’s a pep talk I need, then that’s what you all get as well 🙂

Now – off to finish designing my business cards (finally finished my Photoshop tutorials *AND* got PS5 for Christmas!!) Oh – and today’s photo features Skipper, my canine companion in D.C., looking rather fearless, which I found apropos of today’s post. Also, he rocks a fauxhawk like nobody’s business and that alone makes it worth a look.

 

Triumph… September 28, 2009

Filed under: pets — curiouserx2 @ 5:01 am
Tags: , , , , ,

… would’ve made a great name. But we went with Pippin instead. (Also answers to the names of: Pipsqueak, Slim, and Ears McGee)

Pip

Pip

 

In Which We Try to do Good. And Fail Miserably. September 25, 2009

Filed under: pets,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 8:20 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

SoSadFully aware that certain combinations can lead to regrets (drinking+texting, lamenting+ice cream), I try not to speak or write when furious. At least not at first, and not anything the  public will ever see. In the past, such actions have only led to the firm implantation of my foot in my mouth.

BUT.

Here’s today’s story anyway. Hopefully coherently written and not overly cruel.

For quite some time now, J and I have been contemplating adopting a little friend for us and Sophie. We were hoping to bring a male kitten into Sophie’s world before she’s old and bitter and hates everything new. Today, for some reason (okay, yes, we were scouring the “pet” category on Craig’s List which leaves nothing to blame but our own compassion), we were both overcome by the desire to get out and see some of the candidates in person. We looked at each other, we looked at the clock. We said, “Let’s do it.” And, giddy and excited, we grabbed Sophie’s old cat carrier (just in case, we told ourselves) and ran out the door.

The Humane Society is not far from where we live, and after a short drive, we pulled into their parking lot, promised ourselves to try to remain level headed, and in we went. I was surprised at how few cats were currently housed there. A few adults wandered the great cat enclosure they provide… and then there was Harpo. This 3-month-old black and white male kitten was playful and lively, and I liked him even though he was a little older than what we’d had in mind. Then, I picked him up. Harpo cuddled against my shoulder and placed his tiny soft paw against my cheek, then my lips. And I was ensnared. Hook. Line. Sinker.

Just in case (again), we decided to think on it, and drove down the road to the Animal Control center to look as well. There we found more adult cats and one tiny, tiny black kitten. Who was psychotic. We’re talking demonic possession. J found it entertaining to attempt to play with her without losing any blood. I was ready to go back and see Harpo again.

So we jump back in the car, drive back to the Humane Society, and revisit our little guy there. Everyone behind the adoption desk is excited to see us again. Harpo’s little brother had been adopted the day before, and the staff was rooting for him to find a new home, too. We filled out some paperwork, and one of the women was gathering together some toys and food to get Harpo started in his new home.

Then. The worst.

They called out apartment management office to check on the pet policies where we live. Which would have been fine. Our place allows 2 cats in one apartment. But then this woman goes on to ask if we needs to pay a deposit, and if so how much, and if so, do we need to pay it before we bring home a new animal. The answers: yes, $200 and yes. $200 for EACH ANIMAL. Whether it’s a 10 lb cat or a 150 lb lab. $200.

We’d already put down the $200 nonrefundable for Sophie. We thought THAT was insane. We also thought that this fee would cover another pet, and that we’d only need to tack on additional pet rent (also b.s. if you ask me). Not so, apparently.

The woman at the Humane Society told us we should just go get that “squared away” and that we could come back for Harpo the next day. We said “sure,” and walked out as if everything would be fine, knowing fully that we could not afford another $200 we’d never see again.

Fuming and dejected, the drive home was quiet and sullen.

Had that woman not called our property management and asked specifically if WE had paid for another cat to live here,  no one would’ve known the difference. He woud’ve had an amazing home and loving parents, and isn’t that what the Humane Society really wants for their animals? Was it not enough for them to see that animals are allowed in our homes? I know they don’t want to see adopted animals come right back to them. I get that. But there was no opportunity to defend ourselves, no chance to say, “Look. He’s going to be fine with us. Better than fine. Why the EFF are you ratting us out, you paranoid witch?!?”

(Remember how I said I don’t speak or write when I’m really angry?)

Needless to say, we’re still a one-cat household.

~a

 

The Everything Update June 8, 2009

DSCN3238cAs questions abound as to my whereabouts, activities and general existence, and as my head’s still too deeply buried under the pile of everything-that’s-happened-in-the-past-week, I thought I’d take this rare quiet moment to let everyone know that A) J and I have made it safely to Davidson, B) we’ve spent the majority of our time here preparing his former childhood home for sale, dividing its contents in order to get them to a number of different final destinations, and C) I do generally still exist.

Not only do I exist, but my existence has so greatly improved in the last week that it pains me a little that I had to leave so much behind to feel this great. My body prefers the climate, my mind prefers the pace and both prefer the work. Sadly, the work isn’t permanent, and there’s the task of securing some kind of job looming ahead.

Nevertheless, it’s been a much-needed change. The absence of Gabe (who, by the way, we heard from HART, has quickly adapted and is getting to run and likes the company of his fellow canine roomies) sometimes tugs at my heartstrings, but has also left a blanket of calm over my day-to-day. Not sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day makes me endlessly happy – even if it means finding myself in the back of a garage closet,  forearms draped with cobwebs, trying to convince a house mouse that he should probably find better digs than inside the camping equipment I’m trying to remove. And then there’s the big change of scene – I went from living across the street from a funeral home to having a family of deer dining at the treeline in my back yard.

In a couple of months we’ll be in Wilmington, and our lives will inevitably change again, but for now I dig the quiet life. And anyway, before the next move there’s the trip to London, J’s family beach vacation and my cousin’s wedding in Atlanta (right, so it’s possible my idea of the “quiet life” is a little warped).

We did get to take a day trip down to check out Wilmington (J had never been and chose UNCW for grad school site unseen). Evil twin drove down from Raleigh to join us, as she had once lived there and we hoped she could serve as tour guide. (She is, by the way, doing quite well, despite rooming in a house with a reckless, young, drama-prone lesbian couple). Turns out she only actually lived in Wilmington for 6 months and couldn’t even remember where her house had been, so she made a horrible tour guide, but great company. The three of us terrorized the historic downtown area for a while (offended an entire rooftop bar crowd, contemplated crashing not one, but two wedding receptions and discovered a piece of purple lingerie strewn across a historical statue that I swear we didn’t put there but were inclined to photograph nonetheless) and waded in the surf (read: got our clothes soaked because we weren’t paying attention to the size of the waves) and ate sundaes at Wrightsville beach that were called something unfortunate like Peanut Logs.

So let it be known that I have no complaints about my current existence and will be sure to write something more substantial and topical when things settle.

Which may be around Christmas time.

~a

DSCN3242cDSCN3241c

 

Bon Voyage… May 21, 2009

Filed under: Gabe,life,pets — curiouserx2 @ 2:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

gabexmasJust finished penning my hokey invite for our pirate themed going-away party. I’m not sure how much more official it can get.

We are moving.

In ten days.

I’ve been avoiding writing about it, but the most stressful part of the move preparation has not been packing, or reserving a truck, or forwarding the mail. The worst part was coming to the realization that Gabe could not come with us.

My ownership of Gabe was on the doomed side from the start. I am in no way, shape or form in a place in my life to own ANY dog, let alone THIS dog. But I wanted to help him so badly when we found him, I wanted to save him from potential putting down at the Humane Society. I thought I could find a way to make it work, at least until I could find him the perfect home. Two years later, he was still burrowing under my covers at night and terrorizing the other dogs in my neighborhood.

Gabe is… special.

He’s in no way a bad, or even aggressive pup. But, he’s got serious anxiety issues and often feels threatened by certain people and most dogs. In the two years I’ve had him, he’s learned to take the back seat to his owner – to sit for his food or before going in and out of doors and cars, to walk next to or behind me, to sleep in his own bed unless invited up to the big bed, to let go of the rope when I say so and to leave the cat alone (although, to be fair, she taught him that one). But the anxiety occasionally strikes and cannot be quelled regardless of what I do or don’t do, leading to shakes, whining or uncontrollable barking.

Gabe needs more help than I can give him. He needs more space to run his long legs. He needs heartworm meds, flee and tick repellant, annual vaccinations. He needs attention from someone who will be home more than a few hours a day. I’m struggling with all of these, and the move will only make it worse.

So, in one week, we’re taking Gabe to a new home.

Two years with Gabe only heightened my fear of the Humane Society. We’ve had time to bond. I’ve had time to see him as more than just a stray – as a little guy with a big personality and love to give if he can just chillax. So, as the move approached, I shifted into high gear in the search for a better place for him. E-mail after e-mail came back to me, either flatly rejecting us because our case was not dire enough or referring us to another resource that had already rejected us. A Facebook campaign turned up lots of desire to help, but no one able to take in a dog.

Finally, an e-mail popped into my inbox as I was about to leave work one afternoon. “Does he get along with other dogs? Is he house trained”

To which I replied, “Well, sort of, yes. And definitely yes.”

Roxanne, one of the board members of an organization called HART Animal Rescue, was willing to meet me in Jeffersonville (about 45 minutes south of Columbus) to pick up Gabe and take him to an animal care shelter in Cincinnati. From there, he’ll be placed with a foster family until a permanent home can be found for him. “No chance of euthanization,” she said. “We’re no-kill…. unless they kill us!”

And with that, Gabe was saved. My chest still aches a little when I think of Gabe’s fear and confusion as he takes this journey. But if, in the end, it saves his life and finds him a better home, then this is what must be done.

In the meantime, I’ve got a long weekend of QT with the Gabe monster, and we’re going to do it up right.

Even if it means marathon tug-o-war and naps on the bed.

~a

 

All Good Things… May 18, 2009

BinkysMovingVan_edited1Question: If a moving van leaves Columbus, Ohio at 8am on May 31st, and the moving couple departs from the same location at 9:45am (running late due to animals, long goodbyes and several “final” sweeps of the house), how long will it take said couple to question whether or not they’re making the right decision?

Answer: Approx. -17 days.

That’s right, it really hit us last Friday – the questioning of our sanity, that is. J and I were sitting on the front porch at a friend’s house, celebrating someone’s birthday with a cookout and good conversation on a beautiful spring evening. A warm breeze tousled our hair; we ate strawberries and cream and sipped gin and tonic and laughed. A lot.

I looked at J.

J looked at me.

And the look said something like:

“Dude. Wtf?”

It was the pained expression of how-can-we-leave-all-this-behind? I mean, what were we thinking when we decided to chuck the city we’ve both come to love and defend?? (Actually, I think we were thinking how much we loathe only getting to have real lives 6 months out of the year due to Ohio’s atrocious winters. And we’d just been to Miami in March, which will make anyone want to go beach bum). So, okay – we had our reasons. But that doesn’t make it any easier, now that the Dark Ages of winter have subsided, to let go of some of the more positive relationships we’ve established here.

It’s the few negative ones I’ve established, however, that are helping to ease that blow.

Like the guy at UDF who insists on being weird about my ice cream order every bloody time I go in there? Him I can do without. (If he’s not giving me 12 scoops of ice cream, he’s doubling my Deep Freeze into a melty tower of ice cream doom). And the parking lot attendant I walk past every day who finally put his head out the car window and screamed, “Hey pretty girl, what’s your name?” perhaps not thinking that if I took this poorly (which I did), we’d have to have a nice, awkward moment EVERY MORNING that I have to walk by his car.

And then there’s the literal relationships: the ex I won’t have to run into because we’ll no longer live down the street from each other. I cannot WAIT to live in a place where I don’t have to hear all about his g.d. band and to not have to tell people that, no, I do not in fact enjoy his music and, no, I would not like to go see him play at the local bar, and, yes, he DOES sound like a blatant rip off of Bob Dylan and/or Bruce Springsteen (depending on the song), and, yes, I have noticed that every song sounds like the last and, oh yes, he does really seem to like himself. (These conversations are admittedly somewhat enjoyable as they round the corner and become full-on Haterade toasts)

Finally, there are a few that I can’t even mention due to the expanding readership of this blog. You just never know, and I’m not in the clear yet. Lame People I Can Do Without – you probably know who you are, anyway.

Despite all of these, for the first time since I’ve started serial relocating, the mass of “Things I will Miss” is formidable. So much so that when J gave me that look, and I returned it, I really did have to think hard about what we’re on the verge of doing.

And yet….

I came out on the other end of all that contemplation still ready to pack my bags. Because this time, we’re doing it together. And this time, we’re going to do things the way we want to: create friendships that can be our own and not remnants of previous relationships; control our house (i.e. without the t.v.-as-background noise philosophy and as though Mr. Clean was our bald-headed third roomie – which could make a really awesome sitcom, come to think if it); fill our bedroom with playpen balls because we’re grown-ups now and it’s our turn to decide what that means!!! (Thank you, xkcd).

I’ve done one helluva job as a loner for the majority of my life, and I can’t speak for J (actually, I can; he’s lived with girlfriends before and is admittedly terrified of ruining everything…), but I’m hell bent on learning to live with someone else. I want a partner this time around. I’ve done Independence! and I’m tired of doing it all alone. Now that I know I’m capable of surviving without anyone, I want to do more than just survive.

And I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather take that ride with.

~a

In the event you have no idea to what I was referring...

In the event you have no idea to what I was referring...

 

Brought to You by the Letter ‘S’ April 23, 2009

picture-12Today’s subject:

Simplification.

I have to call it a subject and not a lesson, because anyone who knows me realizes I’m the LAST person to espouse on the wonders of a simple life. No, I’m the girl who’s dug herself into one of the most complicated situations you can imagine:

-I live with a musician/friend and her boyfriend in a little house that, until yesterday, has been under construction since the day I moved in (and I knew it would be this way going into it, but somehow thought that band saws running at odd hours and having to plug the microwave in on the couch would be okay??)

-I inherited a dog. Not just ANY dog, mind you. A little powerhouse jack russell with anxiety issues and a Napoleon complex. Thus, serious, continual training ensued.

-I work an 8-5 job that involves little of what I love to do (i.e. being creative, writing, editing, interacting with people), and leaves me with even less time to pursue those things outside of work.

-And still… I managed to get into some extracurricular activities. Namely the musical, which, as we near the show dates, takes up increasing chunks of my post-work time so that my days go something like this: Up at 7, at work around 8, use lunch break to run errands and take Gabe out, actually eat lunch at work, leave work at 5, go home and feed Gabe and take him out, grab something that resembles dinner, get to rehearsal by 6, rehearse until 10, home by 10:15, tend to Gabe, in bed by 11 (or 12). Repeat. 4 days in a row.

-Granted, I only live a couple of miles from J, but we still live in separate house, which means packing night bags, running home before work in the morning to let Gabe out, constantly shuttling between the two locations and perpetually leaving things at his house. (My forgetfulness rivals that of someone fifty years my senior).

-I move, on average, once a year. This does not help the situation any. Being in and out of boxes and in and out of spaces, the constant address changes, the job switching (if the move is out of town), the process of moving itself. And yet, I love a change of scene. I start to itch when I’ve remained still for too long in one place. (Masochism?)

As you can see, life is not exactly streamlined. I’ve been taking a long, hard look at things lately and have realized that changes need to be made or my sanity will pay the price. J apparently must have realized this as well, because one of my birthday gifts from him this year was a subscription to Real Simple magazine. I’ve read this publication from time to time, and for someone who lives in mass chaos, I sure do have a fetish for organization and simplification that Real Simple seems to satisfy. The problem is, until now, I’ve been doping on the doctrine without actually living it.

Suddenly, however, the idea of simplification has become a new mantra. Granted, it will take some time before I can jump on the wagon, but at least I’ve started chasing it. While it will involve not one, but TWO moves, J and I will finally be consolidating our resources and living under one roof. Our aim is to rent a house where we’ll be the only tenants, thus taking control of our living situation. I’ve just started a profile on a money management website to conquer my spending and credit card debt. I’m working towards a job that either involves my talents more earnestly or offers me enough free time to pursue writing and other creative work on the side. Also, in the new place, we’ll be able to control use of space and organization. We’re both interested in growing herbs and vegetables and learning to cook at home more.

And that’s just for starters. I never believed it whole-heartedly before, but they may have been on to something with the “Gift to be Simple” thing, because with increased simplicity comes increased serenity. It’s not to say we shouldn’t be driven in our pursuits, which sometimes can be stressful, but we do need to choose our battles wisely and streamline everything else.

That’s where I’m at. The chaos will necessarily continue until the summer, but at least I have a light at the end of the tunnel.

And Real Simple in the meantime.

~a

(Need more inspriation to get simple? Check out this story: http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-life/bigger-picture/articleoprah.aspx?cp-documentid=19216974&gt1=32001. Yes it’s from Oprah’s magazine; whatever. I feel better having read it.)