Wednesday, February 25, 2015

National Adjunct Walkout Day

I've seen places that don't treat their employees well. One particular company that I got to know somewhat well was in the habit of hiring temp employees through an agency, then letting the temps go just when the choices were either that or hire the temp on full time. Despite there being a constant need for work, and certainly room for many full time employees, this was what the company chose to do for those positions where new people can easily be trained. It seemed to me that there was a casual certainty that more employees could always be found, and when I did happen to see complaints being raised (such as being overworked with overtime every week) they were dismissed.

I understand that businesses exist to make money. And I'm fine with using temp employees for some things...like if there's a specific job that needs to be done, and then the job will vanish. That's fine. Or even temp to hire, I totally get that. But using it as a way to avoid giving benefits, and denying people job security when the position isn't actually going away...that just seems wrong to me.

Although it isn't exactly the same situation, I was reminded of my previous experiences/observations when I learned about National Adjunct Walkout Day.

I had already been aware that things aren't so great for adjunct faculty at colleges. From talking with one such professor I'd already known that he had no job security, and that it wasn't such a great situation for him and many others. Today when he canceled class for the walkout I also learned that he is only paid based on time spent in class, he has no retirement benefits, and receives no healthcare through our university.

While I know that the decision to hire adjunct faculty rather than bringing someone on full time must be at least partially motivated by cost, and I certainly don't know the financial situation of every institution, it seems like the least a college could do would be to offer job security and benefits to someone they plan to keep around.

Like realizing that the temps were treated as disposable, having a better understanding of what adjunct faculty deal with leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And it seems to me that something needs to change.

Also, from a purely personal standpoint, how I can expect the best education possible from someone who is worried about job security rather than just focusing on being the best teacher they can be? Even if you don't care about our teachers, think about us students.

If you want to learn more, you might want to read this interview, which was shared by the professor who canceled class. He also shared the following flyer, which I was able to trace back to coming from this page.

Adjunct Faculty Facts

Sunday, February 22, 2015

They Otter Come Up For Air

As a spur of the moment decision I went to the zoo a couple days ago with my boyfriend, and we found that love was in the air. Or something was in the air, causing some of the animals to be somewhat feisty...

Otter sex

Yes, I took photos. Because how often do you get to photograph otters putting on a porn show?

While I was trying (and failing) to get a good photo, Murray was busy laughing over something else. There were kids present because, well, the zoo is a great place to take kids. I don't think some parents were prepared to explain frisky otters to their children though, and things were getting a bit awkward for one family. One boy was apparently mildly traumatized, and the parents didn't know what to do.

I guess I can understand the mildly traumatized bit...it looked like the otters were fighting. I actually thought one was dead at one point, until I saw movement again. One interesting thing is that, from what little I know of otter mating habits, the male usually bites the female on the nose. Here, though, he was biting her on the scruff of the neck.

(By the way, I've got to give Murray credit for the title of this post. If he didn't suggest this precisely, he suggested something pretty close. He also commented that the otters gave a new meaning to "coming up for air.")

Elephant dong

Yes, I also photographed an obviously horny male elephant. My reasoning was pretty much the same as the other photo: how often does someone get to photograph an erect elephant penis?

This must have been Sam, I remember him being born in the zoo's elephant breeding program a few years back. Or I thought it was only a few years ago...I was surprised to see him this mature, but he's too small to be their other bull elephant, so it must be Sam.

He'd been separated from the other elephants, and the poor guy looked lonely. I'm guessing that him breeding with his mom or aunts isn't part of the breeding program, though, which required removing him from the herd for a bit. Poor guy.

Condor feeding time

Don't worry, I'm past the sex crazed and blue balled animals now. 

Condor exhibit

The condor exhibit is new, though these birds been on site for a while as part of a breeding program. (Ok, I was mostly past the sex crazed animals.) I was really excited since I've been wanting to see them for a while. Birds with such huge wing spans are pretty amazing to me. And speaking of huge wing spans...

Wings extended

Maybe this one was just showing off? On the ground, wings extended, walking. Not sure what that was about, but it gave me a good shot of the open wings.

And yes, that is an animal carcass on the ground, I think it was half of a deer though I'm not entirely sure of that. As I said before, it was feeding time. There were actually warning signs up, but it was far enough from where we could observe that I don't think it was any more disgusting than seeing meat for sale in a grocery store. Then again, I guess not everyone takes that view.


Pretty

I'm not sure just what kind of reptile this was, but he (she?) was pretty, and shedding. I find the combination of orange, yellow, and green to be lovely.

Oopsie photo...

On the left you can see my hilarious fail where I tried to photograph the reptile as a panorama. On the right is where I decided to do the sensible thing of standing back to get a photo, and then cropping the sides.

Cheetah

I love cats, and the big cats are my favorite part of the zoo. Well, not just the big cats. The smaller ones, like the bobcats and the caracal, are just as awesome.

But the cheetahs...they have got to be the most beautiful cats I've ever seen. Just...wow.

Leopard

I also got a rare photo of the leopard sleeping out in plain view. How often does that happen? Not very often.

Mr. Bird in our way

As we got to the exit of the bird room, one decided to block our way by standing on one of the moving parts of the door. Murray tried to entice Mr. Bird down, which is how I got a photo of his hand.

Orangutan

I'm pretty sure that every time I see an orangutan for the rest of my life I'll exclaim "It's the Librarian!" If you know what I'm talking about, you've read Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to read some of them.

Fun fact: on a previous visit to the zoo I told Murray "Someday I'm going to get a librarian and name him the Orangutan! Wait, I meant..."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Where Are You From?

I guess I was pessimistic when I started writing again and didn't really expect to get many readers. To my surprise, looking at my stats, I've got several people who read my blog...or maybe one or two people who visit my blog repeatedly. Either way, I've got more page views than I'd expected, and some are from outside my country.

And I'm curious about my readers. I'd love it if you would leave a comment telling where you are, and a little bit about yourself.

My stats, click to see bigger

I'm not sure how many bloggers share their stats with their followers, but since I was asking about you I figured I may as well show what info I'm working from. Most of my readers are from the states, but I know that people from across the globe have stumbled across this little blog.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Appreciating Cummings

I had the strangest exam last evening.

We normally don't have exams at Marylhurst University. It usually goes that there are small assignments throughout the term, maybe a biggish one in the middle, and then a final project. (Not that the classes are easy...don't make the mistake of thinking that.) But there are a few professors in the English department who believe in exams, and I seem to have a knack for taking classes with them. I had two of the exam givers last term, and the third one this time.

One nice thing about the exam was that it was open notes and open books. Another nice thing was that because it was all writing out responses, we could do it on our personal computers computers and e-mail the document to the professor. There was lots of typing going on for about three hours.

But I guess the strange thing was the relaxed atmosphere. I'm not sure how to explain it.

Yeah, I guess things are pretty dull in my life when I'm writing about an exam.

Also, there was one amazing thing I discovered. We read an E. E. Cummings poem earlier in the term, and I revisited it during the exam. Well, remember I've been talking about letting myself feel emotions rather than think about them? I'd never been a huge fan of Cummings, but apparently I can finally appreciate him if I allow myself to feel his poems.

This probably shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.

Central Park

I know the photo isn't related to anything else in the post, but I figured that since I got on to talking about Cummings that I may as well find something that matches the beauty of his poem.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rat Cages

I'm too exhausted mentally to think of anything really meaningful to write about, so I'll just share a few photos of the new cage I got my rats. Well, "new" as in I got it in early December.

Why am I so exhausted? I spent a lot of the day just writing down my emotions so that I can see them. I express myself better with the written word than with talking, it's nice to see things written down in front of me, and so far I've got 4,090 words on various subjects...but all of those words are on problems need to either solve or emotions come to terms with. I hadn't anticipated how emotionally exhausting it would be to go through that. And it's still surprising to me how exhausting it is to let myself feel and experience emotions rather than try to talk to myself about them, and even trying to think myself out of them...which I'd been in the habit of doing. Meh. I need chocolate...

Yes, I'm talking about emotions without telling you exactly what they are. Let's just say they're related to anxiety/depression, and the cause or possibly results thereof.

On to rat cage photos!

The box, unopened

I think I'll just share what I wrote about this on Facebook when I shared the photo...

I started opening it, and mom asked if some assembly is require.

No. A new cage that's taller than me is fully assembled in this box. How? Time Lord technology. It's bigger on the inside.

Now I just need to figure out how to put it together.


Old cage vs. new cage

Here are the old and new cages side by side. Yes, the new one is giant by comparison, and taller than me.

Why did I get such a bigger cage? The old one was showing its age, I thought it was time to get a new one, and I couldn't buy a decent cage without either downsizing or getting this one. And since I refused to downsize the rats' home, this seemed my best bet. I don't think the girls are complaining, though.

Blocking off the halves...

There's a top half and a bottom half, and conveniently enough there's a ramp between the two that can be raised to let me lock Kora and Aniki in one half of the cage while I clean the other half. You can see this in the above photo.

They've got hammocks

So, yeah, I had fun taking a few photos halfway through cleaning the cage one time.

And there's a hideout whose sides are puzzle pieces...kind of

Oddly enough I don't have any photos that takes in the whole cage other than the one above from before I made it habitable. Maybe I should fix that soon...

If you have small pets, do you get excitable about their cages?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Daydreams of Books

We all have our daydreams and fantasies...one of mine happens to be having a miniature library in my own house.

I got to thinking about this when I was complaining on Facebook that I seem to have more books than I have space for, and that one upside to eBooks is that they don't take up much space. So someone pretty much told me that life isn't about taking up less space and that of course I need more books. So, I got to thinking about exactly what kind of library I'd like. Since, I've got to agree that, yes, I totally need more books

Forgetting for a moment about the rest of the house, I'd like one room to be large enough to fit a number of bookshelves in it, with a door that closes. It would be large enough that I can cover the walls with shelves (except for one corner, which I'll get to in a minute, and where there's a window), and then get two or three rows of shelves just standing in the room. The shelves would have enough space to walk (or skip) comfortably between them, but be close enough to be cozy. Or, I don't know, why stop at having three rows of bookshelves? I'm not sure how many shelves I'd like to have though... But they would be wooden and stained dark, then again I don't want the room to be dark so I'm not sure how that would work. Maybe the carpet can be a lighter color? Or lights at the top of each bookshelf? I definitely want the lights at the top of each shelf.

There would also be a large window looking out on a forest. That way I could get some nice natural light during the day, and at any time of year I could look outside and enjoy a bit of nature's beauty while I'm with my books. The window would also open so that I could enjoy a breeze (if there's also a window open elsewhere in the house) and nature's sounds and smells. The window would also have a heavy curtain, perhaps maroon. I like dark reds. Though again, I'm not sure if that would make the room too dark...

There would be a brick fireplace in one corner. A fireplace to make things cozier, and brick because it looks nice. It would be in a corner next to the window, so that I could watch the snow fall in winter, or watch birds at the bird feeders (bird feeders!) throughout the year. There would be two large leather chairs, the kind that you can lean back in and get comfortable with, with matching foot stools. Because, hey, sometimes you need to put your feet up to get comfortable. There would be maroon pillows for extra comfort, a couple of matching blankets to drape over one's legs when it's cold, and a small table by each chair where someone could place their coffee or tea mug. And, of course, I've got two of each because I might want to read with a friend in my library sometime.

Just getting comfortable in my library, sipping hot chocolate while a fire is cackling, quietly enjoying time with a close friend as we're both exploring worlds inside the pages of novels...

And yet, with as much bookshelf space as would come with this room, I'm sure that eventually I could still come up against the problem of having more books than I have space for.

Book Tunnel

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine Date

I'd intended to join a couple of Valentine themed blog parties, but my mind just isn't working where those are concerned. I know what I want to write...it just isn't coming. Instead I guess I'll write a little about my own Valentine's date.

Serenity, just hanging with my stuff
Murray and I went out to eat at a couple of our favorite restaurants, and watched the new movie out Jupiter Ascending. (My thoughts: plot wasn't all it could have been, but I can sort of forgive that for amazing scifi eye candy it provides.) We also stopped by our favorite bookstore, where Murray picked me up a leaf with Serenity on it.

Yeah, I recently discovered the joy that is Firefly. And now my little Serenity is hanging from my wire shelves. I may or may not have also gotten another Serenity from Murray for Christmas that may or may not be on my key chain.

Murray had already gotten me a small super bright flashlight since I've been complaining that I need a new flashlight, and I got him bunny slippers. But not just any bunny slippers, bunnies with sharp pointy teeth! Ok, Monty Python Killer Rabbit slippers. He can now wear the Rabbit of Caerbannog on his feet. He loves the slippers, though I wonder if maybe I should have also gotten him a Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch just to be safe...

...I guess I'm going on about the bunny slippers. I'm still somewhat pleased with myself on that find. And I guess I'm going on about the presents, but that's because you probably don't want to hear all about us cuddling in the movie theater or about us holding hands as we strolled through the bookstore.

Good date. ♡

Friday, February 13, 2015

"Proof"

The governor (I just discovered that I did not know how to spell that word...) of Oregon is resigning, and we're getting a new governor. At this point I'm not very familiar with our new governor, but one thing I do know thanks to it being jumped on in the LGBT community: she will be the first openly bisexual governor in the states.

Bi triangles
On one hand I'm delighted that we're at a point where political leaders can be out of the closet. On the other hand, I'm sad that this is a huge deal. Also, I was ticked off to see someone asking if she can "prove" that she's bisexual.

Here's the thing...no one can "prove" their sexual orientation. It's all a matter of who we are attracted to romantically and/or sexually. And the fact is, if someone doesn't want to believe what we say about who we're attracted to, there's nothing we can do to "prove" it.

Anyway, how would someone "prove" that they're bi? Post a hot video of a threesome online for all to see? I guarantee, even that won't prove it to the naysayers. At the end of the day it's just a matter of taking someone's word for it, but that's apparently too much to ask.

I look forward to the day that no one is asked for proof of their sexual orientation, and also when it's no big deal to find out that someone is queer.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Four Things Thing, Part II

After putting up yesterday's post I realized that I managed to not copy one question, and also that I forgot to mention something that I don't eat. I figured I should correct those mistakes.

One thing I won't eat, that would be couscous. I put it in my mouth, and it tells me that it doesn't want to go down my throat. I can eat spam, which I did think to put on the list, but I'm not sure I could manage couscous even if someone put it on my plate. That said, I'd probably try just to be polite.

Four names that people call me (other than my real name):
1) Hiccup
2) Mouse
3) Hat Lady
4) Kissy Girl

These are actually old nicknames, each with a story behind them.

1) I hiccup at random times. It's weird. I think It's been a while since I've been called Hiccup, though.
2) As a teen I picked up a habit from a friend where I'd make this weird high pitched noise when really excited. Apparently I sounded like a mouse.
3) When I was little (preschool?) I wore hats every day. And I had a lot of hats to choose from.
4) You know the saying on the playground during a game of tag, "missed me missed me now you've got to kiss me!"? I took that literally. My first grade teacher wound up discussing it with my parents and requesting that they explain germs to me. I'm pretty sure they suggested that he try to explain hormones to me.

Kind of funny how I went from being Kissy Girl to not getting my first date until my twenties, plus being really shy about telling someone I like them.

Forgotten Hat, red hat on swing

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Four Things Thing

I decided to do the Four Things Thing tag I found on YouTube. My thinking is that it might be fun to do something a bit different on this blog.

Four Jobs I’ve held:
1) Office assistant
2) RFID tagger for libraries
3) Doing a bit of everything in a fast food place
4) Janitor

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:
1) Fury
2) Day of the Doctor
3) Aliens
4) Pride and Prejudice (BBC)

Four books I’d recommend:
1) The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
2) Books set in the world of Tortall by Tamora Pierce
3) The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
4) Bone by Jeff Smith

Since it is impossible for me to narrow it down to just four books, I'm recommending my all time favorite novel plus three brilliant book series.

Four places I’ve been, compass points edition: 
1) Baton Rogue, Louisiana  (I was born there but don't remember it)
2) Victoria, Canada
3) The John Day Fossil Beds in Eastern Oregon
4) The redwood forests in California

Painted Hills, part of John Day, photo I took

Four things I don’t eat: 
1) Spam
2) Rocks
3) Cat food
4) Water (I drink water)
 
Four TV shows I watched: 
1) Doctor Who
2) Babylon 5
3) Star Trek
4) Battle Star Galactica, the remake

I'm still working my way through #1, own and have watched all of #2 (minus one movie attached to the series), and have gotten distracted from the last two though they're fun.

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:
1) Spending another year with my boyfriend
2) Reading more books
3) The results of learning how to communicate better
4) Learning how to relax

Four things I’m saying: 
1) Pepperoni pizza with mushrooms is delicious
2) Walking barefoot on the grass is awesome
3) Reading is excellent
4) Listening to David Gilmour is surprisingly relaxing

I discovered this last bit when my boyfriend sent me a link to the following clip this evening.



Four adjectives you’d use to describe the ocean:
1) Beautiful
2) Turbulent
3) Peaceful
4) Mysterious

Four flavors you like:
1) Chocolate
2) Chocolate
3) Chocolate
4) Chocolate

Four times of day you’re on online:

There's no real particular time set aside. Just, whenever I feel like it if I'm able to.

Four things you want to do better tomorrow:
1) Have more patience
2) Relax (as in, don't carry so much tension)
3) Enjoy the day
4) Focus

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Problem Solving

I sat down at my computer earlier today, intending to get my daily blog post written somewhat earlier than practically at the last minute. I wound up writing something a bit too personal, getting sidetracked talking through something else that's somewhat personal with a friend, and then kind of ignoring the blog until now.

For lack of anything better, I guess I'll do an abbreviated and slightly less detailed (and therefore with less sensitive details), plus mentioning what I was talking to the friend about. Apologies in advance if this is a slightly depressing post, hopefully it'll be more of an addressing problems and then problem solving one.

One problem is that I find at times that I'm not who/what I want to be.

This isn't such a major problem in some cases, such as where shyness or my depression/anxiety are concerned. Time and effort can change those. I'm already less why than I was as a teen, and I know I can find a way to get through depression/anxiety with help.

The major problem is when I want to change things that are fixed in my make up. Such as when I find myself wanting to be an extrovert when, fact is, I'm an introvert. I realize that I've also mentioned on this blog on two separate occasions that I'd prefer to not be bisexual at times. I'm pretty sure that the only solution here is to figure out why I want to change (as an example, I associate introversion with shyness even though I know those are two separate things) and then call bullshit on myself (I don't have to become an extrovert to be able to easily strike up conversations with people).

Then there's the issue that distracted me from writing this afternoon, which is appetite loss. That's a regular stress response for me, and it's something I've recently realized I'm having problems with. It's nowhere near as bad as it's been in the past, and I am eating two meals a day. Oddly enough I'm not losing weight, which may be because I'm drinking more water than I had been before. Oh and, I may be mistaking hunger for thirst, which isn't helping me. But I guess that, on the up side, I can be pretty sure that I'm not dehydrated.

To tackle the appetite problem, I've written out a food plan of when to eat a meal or a snack. Hopefully that'll help, and I've got someone who says she'll check in with me to make sure that I'm sticking to it.

So, homework to problem solve...

1) When I want to change something about myself, ask what the real issue is and go after that. For example, remember that it's not introversion that causes shyness.

2) Stick to the food plan.

Bad Mood

Remember I mentioned possibly publishing some of what's been lurking in my draft folder? Here's another one I wrote but then didn't publish. I'm pretty sure that I kept it as a draft because it discusses occasional discomfort I have with my sexual orientation, which although I'm usually happy with being bi it can make my head space painful at times. Or I guess I should say, how our world responds to bisexuality can make my head hurt at times. Note to self: I need to remember when I'm hurting, the problem isn't me, the problem is other people. Important detail there.

"Bad Mood" doesn't seem to come close to covering how I felt when I wrote the following, but it's what I titled it so I figure I'll leave it as is. 
  
Due to the subject, I'll say it was difficult/awkward to write. Proof reading it multiple times tonight without finding anything to change, I'm still not sure I did a good job explaining myself in it, which maybe why I'm spending so long writing the introduction (is this an introduction? I guess it is) to the post. I guess I somehow also feel like I need to provide some sort of explanation/excuse for it, which rationally I know is unnecessary. 

This was dated November 9th, 2013.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Last evening I got into a really bad mood that I almost wrote a post about. For some reason I didn't, and I'm glad. Because even though I'm writing now about what angered and depressed me now, I don't want it to have been written from that place.

There were a few things contributing to how I felt. It may be best to break them down into separate sections, though they're all connected to bisexuality.

. . . . . . .

There is a blog post titled Dear Straight People, and you can click the link to read it. The writer says that even though not all straight people are bad, they shouldn't take offense when us bis say bad things about them in general out of anger and/or frustration. That it's perfectly ok for us to say such things because we're the hurting minority.

This is something that I cannot agree with, for reasons that I hope are obvious. And after reading it, I got rather upset that others actually think it's acceptable to say such things about straights. When I objected on Facebook where the link was posted, the author initially dismissed my objections (which was great for my mood, I'll tell you). Though he did later edit his comment to properly address what I said, which I guess is a good thing, even if I still disagree with him.

[Edit: If I were writing this today I'd probably say that the author of Dear Straight People is completely justified in feeling angry and frustrated, but I still can't agree with the idea that it's sometimes acceptable to say "I hate straights" even if you don't really mean it.]

. . . . . . .

In response to an article about research showing that bisexuals face discrimination (you can read it here), one fellow bisexual commented that this is the reason he doesn't date monosexuals.

I guess everyone is allowed to choose who they date. But it just reminds me of those I hear about on dating sites who say "no bis" in their profiles, who so many of my fellow bisexuals complain about.

. . . . . . .

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to read the comments on an article about the new bisexual Disney princess. (If you want to know who it is, Google is your friend.) (Or I can write a post about it, if that's requested.) [Edit: It was Mulan from Once Upon a Time. It's not a show I watch, but I wound up hearing/reading a bit about it.] Some of the comments were very unpleasant, and one person referred to her as a "lezzo."

I'm sorry, what part of "bisexual" did this person not get? The princess wasn't even called a lesbian anywhere in the article, so I'm going to have to assume this person thinks we don't exist. Which was great for my mood. Not.

. . . . . . .

"...LGBT people have to be a little bit better to prove themselves in society. While it sucks that in this case that the bisexuals might have to be a little bit 'better' or more understanding towards the lesbians, is it really a bad thing? Shouldn't everyone want to be better?"

This is something that was said that was said at the end of the YouTube video Bisexuals Respond To: "What Lesbians think about Bisexuals". I have mostly liked the person who made the video, but was astounded that she would actually say this. While I know we're often enough held to a higher standard, I was amazed and hurt that she'd seem to suggest that we shouldn't be upset by it. And even that it sounds like she almost thinks we should welcome it. After all, "Shouldn't everyone want to be better?"

. . . . . . .

Maybe I was just going to be depressed anyways last night and this morning, and these issues just happened to present themselves to me. Or in the case of the last one, I remembered it from when I saw the video maybe a couple months ago.

In any event, I found myself hating that I'm a minority, and halfheartedly wondering if I can turn straight.

I don't want to go back to that place of hurt again, where I was actually wanting to not be myself.

And if I do ever go to that place again, maybe I'll remember writing this post and remember that I worked my way out of that hurt before. And maybe that will help.

Next, just to cheer us all up after this depressing post, is a hilarious video on what lesbians think about penises. Because I need something entertaining after writing the above.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Josie's Generous Offer

Josie still needs some training. Ok, a lot of training. Turns out terriers can be difficult to train. One thing she's learning, sort of, is to not beg at the table.

Or, maybe she's just learning how to beg in a different and interesting way.

There's a sliding door to our dining room that wasn't used often before Josie came along, but lately it's been used frequently to keep her out of the way at dinner time. This evening was an exception, but even though Josie was underfoot she wasn't making much of a nuisance of herself. Or, not as much of a nuisance of herself, so far as I was concerned. Still, she did manage to surprise me.

After I explained to Josie that I wasn't going to give her any food (or any more food...she'd already gotten one scrap from me as the table was being set) she vanished from the dining room briefly. Then, what did she come back with? A new rawhide bone that she'd just gotten less than an hour before. And what did she do with that rawhide bone?

She put that rawhide bone next to my chair, and looked up at me with the most adorable eyes.

All I can conclude is that Josie was offering her bone in exchange for the yumminess that was on my plate.

It was a generous offer on her part, but I'm afraid I had to turn the bargain down.

Josie and a rat, I'm not sure which one

My rats were mildly traumatized by Josie at first. This was perhaps not helped by the fact that she started excitedly barking, loudly, when she first good a good look at them. Oh, yeah, it turns out that some terriers are ratters...

By now she's calmer, though still excited (she's pretty excitable in general) when she sees them, and they've relaxed enough to more or less go nose to nose with her through the wires of their cage.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Remembering Sabine

When we had to help Socks on his way a while back, and then I lost Beka the following day, I did posts with photos of them as a way to remember them. I wanted to do that when I lost Sabine on Samhain, but wasn't really in a good state of mind to do so. It's a bit late now, but I want to finally do that for her. So here are some photos, not strictly in chronological order, though I've kept the photos of her with Beka versus the younger two girls separate.

Sisters

This was from the day I brought home Sabine and her sister, Beka. Due to photo quality I'm not sure which is which.

I got them from a breeder who I met at a place sort of between our houses. Ok, we met in a gas station parking lot. Fortunately the employees there were familiar with her so they weren't trying to figure out what she was giving me. lol I assumed that she would bring them in a box that she would hand over, but since she didn't I brought them home in a bag. This is a photo I took of them in the bag while mom drove us home.

Sabine on left, Beka on the right

Maybe one of my favorite photos of them, and not just because it showcases my fine crafting skills by showing a fancy hammock I made them.

Piano!

I was playing around getting photos, and decided to introduce Sabine to the piano. You can just see her nose poking out of my sleeve. I'd say she wasn't impressed.

Grooming

 Here Sabine was getting groomed by her sister, Beka.

Munching

How does she look so cute while munching on a treat?

Climbing

Sabine was quite a climber. Here she's climbed my bath robe that's hanging on my wall, and she's pretty much at my eye level. So, five feet up. After snapping the photo I moved her to safety.

She was pretty good at climbing, but did fall on occasion. I'm pretty sure that's how she broke a rib, though I didn't realize she'd hurt herself until I could feel the bump where it had healed up. Once the vet told me what I was feeling under her skin, I finally understood why she'd didn't want me petting her for the previous month or so. Of course she didn't want me touching her much, her rib was broken!

Sisters

A sad photo, this was in the last few months of Beka's life. At this point Beka's mobility was pretty limited, and if I remember correctly Sabine would move food closer to where she was.

Lonely

Another sad photo, or sad to me, since I know it was taken after losing Beka but before getting the two girls I have now. Sabine was really alone. And yeah, she had me, but a human friend isn't the same as a rat companion.

Sabine, Niki, Kora

After I got the two girls I have now, I took all three of them to the vet. I brought Sabine in a different carrier, but she decided to hang out with the younger two once we got to the vet's office. Sabine's hiding in the back of the carrier here, while Kora is being adventurous. 

Sabine and the younger girls

All three of them hanging out together. Based on size I'll say that's Sabine on the right, and based on scruffiness/head shape I'll say that's Kora on the left.

Don't ask me why all four rats look so similar. I really did not plan this. Beka and Sabine were from the same litter, and I'd say it's a good bet that Niki and Kora were from the same litter, and I don't think it's surprising for sisters to look like each other. Then it's just coincidence that the first rats I found at the Human Society to bring home as company for Sabine looked like her.

Just hanging out

The three of them in a hammock. Sabine on the right, and I think that's Niki on the left.

Without going into lots of details here (I wrote other posts about it and don't feel like writing it all out again), I did have to separate Sabine from the younger girls for a while. She and Niki were butting heads since both are naturally dominant, and I worried that a fight would turn bad. Once age forced Sabine to slow down I was able to reunite them and things went well.

I detect bRATtiness...

Sabine spilled coffee on my desk, then started drinking it. So of course I let her while I took photos.

I named Sabine Curlywhiskers after two characters from the Beka Cooper books by Tamora Pierce. One was Sabine, a fierce lady knight who is best not crossed in a fight but also who makes the best of friends, and she can drink anyone under the table. The second Achoo Curlypaws, a scent hound who has the best nose you could ever hope to find. She knows she's a working dog, but she also knows how to relax and enjoy a cool autumn day when the breeze is kicking up fallen leaves.

I miss Sabine, but maybe she's playing with Beka now.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Letter From the Past

Have you ever written a letter to your future self? I've written one. Or, I thought I wrote only one. I went looking for it as something to write about here, and instead found another one that I wrote to be opened in 2012. I'd completely forgotten this second one. Here it is, with a bit of editing, due to a) personal stuff, and b) clarifying details that wouldn't be obvious to readers here.

While I'll mostly reserve my comments for after the letter, I want to mention PoP before hand so that you'll know what I'm talking about in just one read through. Pride of Portland (PoP) is a barbershop chorus that's part of Sweet Adelines International. The short explanation is that it's a group of women spread out over the globe who love to sing barbershop, wear too much makeup, wear lots of sequins, and hold musical competitions every year. My first international competition with PoP was in Vegas, and my second (and last) one was in Hawaii. I found that Hawaii agreed with me much more than Vegas, though I was too focused on the competition to really get to enjoy the place properly.

November 24th, 2007

I'm 18 years old as I write this.

I'm currently taking Poetry and Math 60 at Portland Community College. By the time I read this I hope to be working in a library, and possibly making plans to major in English at a 4 year college. I've not even begun to think about which one I want to go to yet.

I went to my first poetry reading today! It was at [I'm keeping this private], and I read my poem "He Fought His Heart" for the group. I plan to continue going to that group.

Working on music for PoP is a challenge, but hopefully I'll get better at it, and am already making progress on it becoming easier. Last year in Vegas we took 14th, and next year we go to Hawaii! I'm excited.

I'm thinking that I just might get some of my poems published. But it'll be a while before I try to go about it, I think.

I wonder -- might I be married, with kids, when I read this? Or will I still be single? Currently I've never been on a date, and never been kissed.

To date I only have one poem memorized -- Ogden Nash's "The Turtle," or I think that's the title. Anyways, I think my future self will know what my current self is talking about. :)

Well, I might add some more later, but that's it for now! 

See ya!

Sarita :P

"See ya!"

...and the above letter is exactly why I have trouble making long term plans these days. Give it a few years, or less, and my plans evolve into something else.

At the time that I wrote this letter I was pretty intimidated at the thought of going to a university. It seemed like a huge commitment (which yeah, it is) and I wasn't sure whether it was for me. So my idea around this time was to maybe get a two year degree that would aid me in getting a library job, then maybe think about going to a university. And of course I was thinking an English degree since that's what I was taking every term at Portland Community College. May as well stick with what I was already nuts about.

I'm certainly not complaining about my decision to pursue an English degree before getting settled in my own place, as I believe was assumed though not stated in the letter. But it's an example of how a long term plan I have one year isn't what I want the next year. Another example is when I picked out my Music Therapy degree, then eventually realized that it was a bad idea. I guess I just don't know for sure what I really want, career wise, though something in a library still sounds awesome.

As for poetry, Fall 2007 was the term I got really into writing poems. It all started when I turned a dream into a haiku immediately after waking up one morning, or maybe I started writing the poem in my dream. Whichever way, that opened the floodgates, and I wrote a lot of poetry until my inspiration more or less dried up. Some of my poems were good, most of them not. One was good enough to get published in the magazine Cricket less than two years after the above letter, which I was beyond excited about since it was my favorite magazine at the time. The poem mentioned in the letter is still unpublished, however, and revisiting it recently I could see that it needs some TLC.

Oh yeah, and "The Turtle"....shame on younger me for not knowing the name for certain. Come on, how difficult could it have been to remember the two word name if I memorized the poem itself?

I'm still unmarried and there are no plans for kids, but I'm definitely not single and am lucky enough to be very much in love with an amazing man. ♡

Have you ever written a letter to yourself? Future or past? What did you put in your letter?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Argument With Myself

"It's time to trim my hair."

"But I love it long!"

"It's so long that it's impractical."

"I wonder how long it can get..."

"No."

"But..."

"NO."

"But it'll feel short. I'll be taking a whole eight inches off!"

"It'll still be long by any one else's standards."

"But it'll be short by mine."

"You keep trapping it under you when you get in bed."

"Yeah, but..."

"No. It'll be unmanageable soon if it keeps growing."

"But..."

"It's only a trim. It'll grow back if you really miss it."

...and this is the internal argument that occurs in my head when I trim my hair, oh, maybe every year. Or so. You know, whenever I get around to it.

Before vs. After

This wasn't my first idea of what to write about today. But I found the above photo while looking for photos for something else and decided that it might be more fun to write out an argument I have with myself on a regular (yearly?) basis.

I trimmed my hair recently and it now comes down to my waist, whereas before it was about three feet long. Seriously, I measured it after my mom made a comment about it being three feet. It took me a couple days to adjust to the new length, waist length did feel short at first.

Hopefully tomorrow's blog post will have more substance. At the moment I think I'm too tired to think up anything brilliant to write about.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cats and the Dog

Having a new dog in the house has really changed some dynamics.

For one thing, the two cats are treating each other differently. Historically Kokopelle has bothered Saphira a lot, leading to squabbles. ("Bothered" as in, he doesn't know he's neutered.) When Josie came along they had a common...not enemy, but a common source of uncertainty to be cautious of. This united the two for a while, and even though Kokopelle is perfectly fine with Josie now he's still getting along with Saphira better than he had been before.

Kokopelle and Josie

What's really amazing to me is that Kokopelle and Josie actually get along great now, as you can see in the above photo where they're happily relaxing next to each other. They even play together! This is a major change from when Kokopelle was a kitten and clawed me up to escape when he glimpsed a friend's dog one evening. That was a somewhat unpleasant experience.

Kokopelle has also started changing some of his habits, in some delightful but also annoying ways that I'm sure are Josie's fault.

First of all, Josie has taken to sleeping under the blankets with my mom. (Except for when she decides to sleep on my bed...not sure how she decides who to sleep with.) Despite Kokopelle seeing Saphira sleep under the blankets with dad for years, he's apparently finally figured out that it might be fun to snuggle with a human friend (me) under the blankets from watching Josie. So, he was asking to get under the blankets with me for about a week. Which was sweet, except for when it wasn't.

Yeah, it's difficult to find it sweet when Kokopelle wakes me up to request that I allow him under my blankets. Can't he figure out how to get under them by himself? Or at least climb right in rather than gaze at them thoughtfully when I hold the blanket up for him?

When I got tired of waiting for a decision on his part and decided to go back to sleep one night, Kokopelle decided to bat at my head. And when I pulled the blanket over my head, would you care to guess what he did? If you guessed crawl up on top of my head and bathe himself, you guessed correctly. I still can't quite believe he did that.

Josie escaping

Not only is Josie settling in, but she also finds way to get into...trouble. As pictured, Josie managed to chew a large enough hole in the crate that mom bought for the car to stick her head out of it. She also keeps escaping from harnesses that mom buys her. When Josie isn't teaching my cat new tricks she spends her time trying to outwit my mom, and so far the dog seems to have a knack for winning those contests if mom isn't careful.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Head Stuff

Technically I missed a day of writing on this blog. Technically. I'm blaming it on my sleep schedule, and one could argue that due to my sleep schedule I haven't missed a day...just that my days are weird at this point in time.

Why is my sleep schedule messed up? Maybe it's to do with depression. Yeah, not only am I still working through the anxiety stuff, I've also got to deal with depression. At least the meds that work for one also work for the other. So that's one good thing.

I'm finally figuring some things out about my depression/anxiety. For example, I finally have a word to describe my fear of being out of the house by myself: agoraphobia. Strangely, most people suffering from agoraphobia have experienced a panic attack in public, which I haven't. So I'm odd there. I also finally figured out that I'm depressed, after a while of showing symptoms without actually feeling it. Yeah, did you know it's possible to be depressed without feeling particularly down all the time? I knew it, but this is the first time it's happened to me. I also finally learned the term intellectualization, which turns out to be my go to defense mechanism.

Yeah, I know that the above paragraph might be better broken down into several paragraphs because it looks messy as written. Jumping from one problem to another really quickly. But I think it sort of reads how my head feels right now.

...and this is turning out to be a difficult post to write, even though I do want to write a bit about what's going on with me head-wise right now.

The funny thing about intellectualization is that it's used as a way to keep anxiety and stress at bay, which might explain why I've been using it. A brief definition that I found at psychology.about.com was: "Intellectualization works to reduce anxiety by thinking about events in a cold, clinical way. This defense mechanism allows us to avoid thinking about the stressful, emotional aspect of the situation and instead focus only on the intellectual component." I thought it was a good way to handle things, and that I could think myself out of feeling anxiety, stress, anger, sadness...any emotion that I'm uncomfortable with. But no, turns out things don't work like that.

Perhaps proving that intellectualization is a problem for me, my knee jerk response to learning what it is and realizing it's what I do in my head all the time is to learn as much as I can about it and think about how to work around it. Yeah, think about how to not use thinking as a way to avoid certain emotions. I suspect that just accepting whatever emotions come my way, whatever they are, may be a better solution.

Waterfall Among Rocks, non sequitur yeah but I want something pretty here
 
On a different note, apparently blogger is eating comments on my blog again. If a comment of yours isn't showing up, that's why.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Choices

I wrote this last year when I was between the time that my temp job ended and I started back to school. It's been lurking in my draft folder, and doesn't reflect where I am now, but I thought that rather than deleting the post I may as well finally hit the "publish" button on it. As you may guess from the tone, I was very frustrated at the time. I think it's actually the tone that made me decide to keep it to myself, since I couldn't write on this topic without being angry.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

May I just say, it's pretty amazing how many people will find out just a few details about my life and then feel qualified to tell me how I'm living it wrong.

Apparently there's a certain order that people are supposed to do things in.

1) Finish high school
2) Go get a four year college degree
3) Move out of your parents house, finally

Because I've chosen to get my own place before finishing my degree, people of an older generation often (though I'll admit not always) seem to feel it is their right (or duty) to criticize me. Without even asking why they start telling me why I should stay with my parents for as long as possible.

"Stay home, let your parents worry about the bills!"

"Really, grocery shopping is a pain."

"But your mom's doing the laundry right now!" 

No, mine isn't. So this one cracks me up.

"Don't worry about responsibility yet! Just finish your degree."

Don't even get me started on why I will tune someone out once they use this last argument on me. Let's just say that I find it hard to take someone seriously when they suggest that attending school means I'm free of responsibility.

There was one woman who got so insistent on trying to change my life that I finally had to say "Hey, you aren't telling me anything that I haven't spent the last two years considering. And yeah, I've had my own place before, so I know all about paying bills and grocery shopping. Just, stop." Because I have heard it all. And I have considered it all. And a relative stranger isn't going to change my mind.

I also have to point out that even though my home life is ok, that isn't the case for everyone. My own reasons for moving out are to do with independence, but others might be making this decision because they're worried about their safety. The fact that those individuals receive the same advice that I do from people who know nothing about them seems pretty mind boggling and really sad to me. And, I'll admit, it bothers me if I let myself think about them being told these same things, which I guarantee they are.

*deep breath*

It would be really nice if people stopped telling relative strangers how to live their life based on only a few details. It's one thing to advise someone who you've gotten to know. You know, like advising friends and loved ones. But someone who you've barely even had one proper conversation with? How can you expect to give them good life advice?

I've wondered if I need to limit myself to only telling relative strangers of my own generation about my goals. I've never had anyone in their 20's criticize me for wanting my own place soon. Instead, they'll tell me that they know how hard it is to return to living with your parents after having your own place, no matter how much you love them. Once you get a bit of freedom, it's hard to give that up. I don't know if there's a cultural difference between my own generation and older generations that causes this difference in attitude, or if my own generation is still young enough to appreciate what it's like to not be dependent on someone else.

But you want to know what I really hate about constantly receiving the above advice when I don't try to hide my goals? I find myself thinking the following: "The adults are bugging me again." I probably don't need to explain why I don't want to think like that.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

All this still bothers me if I let myself think about it. There's some distance from the anger I express above because I'm now back on the "right track" that is approved of, so people aren't giving me a hard time about being out of school anymore. But I've never liked that our culture puts so much pressure on people to follow a particular path, and it's personal for me now after I've experienced the disapproval for myself.

Sunflower, since I want something pleasant here

Monday, February 2, 2015

Scraps of Happiness

For the last couple years I've kept a jar in my bedroom, and in this jar I've kept slips of paper with good things that happen to me throughout the year written on them. The idea is to look at them at the end of the year (actually, I planned for winter solstice) and then start filling up the jar again with the new year (or for me, any date after solstice).

I started neglecting the happy jar in summer, about when the anxiety really hit big time. This means that there are some things not in the jar that should be, such as spending Samhain with my boyfriend, mom bringing home the new dog, and when I got a new giant cage for the pet rats. I also didn't touch the jar on solstice, and am only now getting around to it. Here are most of the things that are in it.

Started back to school -- spring 2014

Spending time with "Murray" [note: I'm not using my boyfriend's real name] on Imbolc weekend, and Zoe [this one] apparently getting along better with Kokopelle. -- 2/2014

Watching Babylon 5 with Murray -- 2014

(Yes, I really did put a heart there. No, we've never been accused of being sappy. Why do you ask?) (Ok, maybe I'm lying.)

My cholesterol was checked, all looks normal. The "fish diet" worked! =) -- 1/31/2014

Mom finished her MBA program -- spring 2014

Spending Christmas evening with Murray -- cuddles and getting Salem's Lot -- 12/25/2013

Decided to go back to school. -- February/March 2014

CthulhuCon with Murray -- spring 2014

Fourth of July with Murray ♡ -- 7/4/2014

Field trip to the coast with oceanography class. -- 5/16/2014

I got three A's and one A- during my first term back to school -- spring 2014

Date with Murray, saw Godzilla and went to [library] to get Babylon 5 season 1. -- 5/2014

Went to [arcade] for the first time with Murray :) -- 7/2014

Portland Highland Games -- 7/19/2014

I went to my first Pride parade with mom.  -- June 2014

The smell of fresh rain late at night -- summer 2014

Brushing snow off a bush, and feeling soft snow under a layer of almost ice. -- 2/9/2014

Valentine's date with Murray. Visiting bookstore, movies, cuddles, and chocolate ice cream. -- 2/15/2014

I got my books out of storage =D -- July 2014

Walking outside and hearing snow melt around me. -- 2/10/2014

Same sex marriage legalized in Oregon! -- 5/19/2014

Jim Butcher book signing -- spring 2014

Despite the last half of my year being crummy (panic attacks for a couple weeks, anxiety, depression...) this list would be longer if I'd kept up with writing down the good things that happened. Now to start filling up the jar with things that have happened since solstice 2014.

Scraps of Happiness

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Writing Goal

New goal: Write a blog post every day for the next two weeks.

This is an idea that's been bouncing around in my head for much of the last week. My reasoning behind it is that I'm just not doing some things that I want to do these days, one of which is write. And while I don't want to commit to a long term goal, I think I can manage a short term goal of two weeks.

I stopped writing for a couple reasons reasons that I need to call bullshit on myself for. One is that I feel like I have trouble coming up with ideas for blog posts, and the second is that I wonder who will want to read much of what I do come up with to write about. Come to think of it, the latter could be making the first worse. It's my hope that hitting the "publish" button on this blog every day for two weeks might help me snap out of this.

As to what I'll write about, I don't know for sure what all I'll cover in the next two weeks. I figure that if nothing else, I can write about something nice that happened within the previous twenty-four hours, even if it's something I don't think anyone will be interested in reading about. (I can be a pessimist at times.) At least I'll be writing. And someone might surprise me. (Maybe I'm a pessimist who tries to be an optimist...?)

In addition to writing every day, I may finally publish some of what's lurking in my draft folder. Some of the things that I started writing, but decided no one would want to read, go back to over a year ago. While a few of them definitely won't be relevant to where I am right now, it might be worth finally sharing them.