Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bright Eyes

I can't remember ever not loving animals.

I've basically known what I've wanted to do with my life since I was five years old. As soon as I found out that you could take care of animals for a living, the word "veterinarian" became part of my everyday vocabulary.

Now I'm in college.
Studying Animal Sciences with a Pre-Vet option.
It's funny how that worked out.

If I think back through all the animals I've raised throughout the years, there have been some truly great friendships forged; there have also been some terrible disasters and heartbreaking pitfalls. But despite all the laughter and tears shed, there's always been an underlying need for me to keep myself surrounded by animals.

I've never questioned this need, although I'm sure my parents have on more than once occasion.
But I am questioning it now.
Why on earth do people, because I know there are others like me out there, feel the need to take care of animals?
Why do we continually immerse ourselves in relationships where there are no words spoken and no material rewards?
Why do we keep coming back to these simple relationships despite the hurt of loss, and despite telling ourselves we'll never do it again?

Is it the promise of blind love? That animals don't care who you are, where you come from, or what you look like?
Is it the satisfaction you get, knowing that some living being is dependent on you?
Or is it simply to befriend another soul on this chaos-ridden spinning rock, another warm being to share bits of your life with?

Two days ago I was driving my mom and sister over to our farm. I pulled out of our driveway and almost immediately saw a dead cat on the side of the road, a fairly common occurrence. No sooner had the words, "poor kitty" left my lips, when I recognized the body.

I don't think I've ever cried so much at the loss of an animal before. Perhaps it was the shock of seeing the limp body, perhaps it was the stinging memory of the first time I saw him as a newborn kitten, or maybe it was the years between, but one thing I know is that burying him is one of the saddest memories I possess.

And it's true, how losing a pet is just like losing a part of your family. In most cases, you're there from the beginning to the end, creating a long string of memories that you can look back on like snapshots.

My cat's name was Jasper and I keep thinking he's still around somewhere. Maybe lurking in the tall grass. Maybe he's hidden, stalking some subterranean rodent or even a wild turkey. Perhaps taking a nap under the Japanese maple, making the ground look as comfy as any bed could possibly be. Or maybe I'll be able to find him prowling his territory like a lion on the savannah.

It all should be in past tense, but it hasn't quite sunk in yet.

Trying to find pictures to do him justice reminds me how he was always the worst photography subject. He'd be posed perfectly, so you'd try to sneak a good picture of him, but before you knew it he'd bound over to you and rub his face all over the camera. Over the half-decade that he was in my life I only have a handful of pictures of him. Most of them blurry close-ups of his face...

... but a few decent ones survived. If you really did ever capture a sneak shot, or hold him still long enough to capture an image, it always turned out gorgeous. He had brilliant blue eyes with black cheetah-like facial markings and a beautiful fluffy white coat.

But he really did have the absolute worst fur possible for what he loved to do. A super long cotton-soft coat that was always full of burrs and other clingy seeds in the summer, when he wandered, and full of dreadlocks in the winter, when he became lethargic and never moved off the cat bed on our front porch. This summer was the first I decided to forgo the constant dreadlock trimming by having him shaved before he started to mat. It was truly comical how much he resembled a small lion, a long and lanky hunter with a mane.

I'll never remember exactly how many toes he had, but he was freakishly polydactyl. At least 25 toes in all, when a normal cat should have 18. I am sure he had an odd number though. My dad used to call him Johnny Bench, after the famous baseball catcher.

He and my other cat, Sweet Pea, had the weirdest relationship. Every day he'd rub up against her to say "hello" and she'd immediately hiss and often take a swipe at his face with her claws. The body language always said it all...

Once I was lucky enough to capture one of Jasper's secret little "shitster" moments.

Cue Sweet Pea, minding her own business in the Japanese garden, probably meditating on something deeply profound...

Enter Jasper with his sneaky, surprise attack, ass-bite!

Sweet Pea, clearly disturbed by the chain of events, quickly retaliates...

Then Jasper looks around, wondering who would commit such a terrible act, while Sweet Pea gravely acknowledges the camera, glad that her side of the story has been caught for once in her life. 

Despite his endless wandering through the woods and up the mountain side, Jasper could always be found when I needed him. He let me cry all over him during terrible high school break-ups, family fights, when I was stressed, and when I just needed someone to hear me out. He always knew and he was always there.

It seems like we always take things for granted until something goes wrong and it suddenly disappears.

I guess, in short, the meaning of this post was to pay my respects to a beloved friend. And also in a small way to remind everyone that this time we have on earth is so temporary, you never know when your number will be up.

Jasper taught me many lessons over the years, but his final one was to live each day like it's your last. There is so much we can learn from each other, animals, and nature if we're patient and just listen.
I'm sure Jasper had no regrets about his life as he took his last breath.

Rest in Peace Jasper
March 4th, 2006 ~ September 4th 2011

Is it a kind of dream
Floating out on the tide
Following the river of death downstream
Oh is it a dream?
There's a fog along the horizon
A strange glow in the sky
And nobody seems to know where it goes
And what does it mean?
Oh is it a dream?

Bright eyes, burning like fire
Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly, 
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why I'll Never Be One of the "Cool Kids"

No matter the era, there are always trends and fads you can watch people participate in that make no sense. For instance: white lipstick, shake weights, zubaz, sea monkeys, heeled tennis shoes, the clapper, popped collars, the word "like", pet rocks, and the snuggie. This is my list of modern trends that are not only ridiculous, but are irritating too.

Under the Table Lights, Blue-Tooth, and Abrvtns.
I love texting and the way it can be used, quick notes and conversations, but some people seem to have switched over to texting as their preferred means of communication. People date and break up through texting. Maybe it's because written words are easier to communicate with than verbalizing in a real face-to-face conversation.

Half the things I say in "real-life" come out as awkward combinations of words and other phrases that make no sense. Chapstick tube becomes "chube" and outside a very small specific group of friends, the word sounds rather disgusting.

However, when it comes to being in a social environment, like at dinner with friends for example, phones should not be part of the equation. No, you're not being sneaky hiding the phone under the table and texting. The light is hitting the underside of your face and you look like a gremlin.

If I have to text you across the table to say, "Bitch, I'm going to snap your phone in half in like three seconds", there's something really wrong with that. And you know I will follow through...

God forbid you answer a call at the table and don't excuse yourself. No one wants to hear half of your lame conversation about a geriatric dog with your Aunt Nellie. Please stop. Equally as bad are those blue tooth headsets that people seem to love. I understand having one in the car, good for you, but stop talking to people on it when your in the grocery store. I keep thinking you're a crazy person.

OMG! LOL! 98.753% of the time someone types LOL they don't really laugh out loud. Saying it in a real verbal conversation makes you sound really stupid. Obviously you aren't laughing if you're spelling an acronym. Even more stupid is abbreviating words using letters that aren't even in the proper spelling of the word. Things like this. All of that is stupid. Spell the words out, I swear it's not that hard, and you'll instantly sound more intelligent.

Shuffle Shuffle Buns
It's blog-reader challenge time! Finish the lyrics, "Giddyup jingle horse..."
Okay that wasn't hard. Next time it will be harder...

It's a well known fact that shuffling your feet wears down your shoes. But people around you aren't concerned for your welfare because they're to busy being annoyed by the constant scraping sound. Unless you're Igor, you really have no excuse.

"It takes less energy though."
Well that's nice, but if you don't have enough energy to pick up your feet while you're walking maybe you should get them amputated. At least donate them to someone who can use them properly. The ten extra calories it takes to pick your feet up an extra inch will be good for you. I promise.

This can actually happen. For reals. 

Pants on the Ground, Pants on the Ground...
My father was at an airport behind a young couple going through security. The woman could only watch as her boyfriend (soon to be ex) took off his belt, then tried to proceed though the x-ray holding his pants up, which is not allowed. TSA requires you to keep your hands off your person, so with this new requirement, the man walked to the x-ray took his hands off his jeans and scooted though the machine as his pants swiftly dropped to the ground. Nice.

I don't understand how this became fashionable in the first place. Guys, here's a hint, girls do appreciate gluteals too. But you've begun to amble along that fine line of jean manipulation that results in "flat ass" or showing us way too much, you're just grossing us out. Get some jeans that fit. Please.

Fun fact! Did you know that there are some places in the US that have made it illegal for men to wear their trousers in that ridiculous fashion. These sagging drawers are considered a public indecency in a growing number of American cities.
Hallelujah, we might all be saved!

Bald-Head Dreads
Dreadlocks are a significant symbol to the Rastafari movement in Jamaica, a way of life and religion for many. White people are basically seen as the devil, they've tried to enslave and control Jamaicans for centuries. So when white people (who genetically don't have the capacity to form dreads naturally anyway) wear dreads, it's like a slap in the face to their whole culture. I could say it no better than this guy when he writes that being a white person with dreads is like saying, "Look what I can do! I can adopt your culture and still have white privilege! I can cut them off and get even more white privilege!"

On top of that, there's the stench that seems to come with white-people dreads only. Damn hippie, go cut your hair. Little things get caught all up in that, get all janky, and make everyone around you want to gag.

Jersey Bore
I watched Jersey Shore once. It's so amazingly fake that it hurts my brain.

The worst part about it is how people my age tend to idolize the "people" on the show. And yes I will put quotations on that, because they sure as hell aren't real people, they're characters. Real people have skills and can speak whatever their native language is without sounding like a complete idiot. They don't live to shop, and drink, and party, and... "smush". There is not a single value in that show that I feel is socially redeeming in any way.

And a quote from Snooki, just to show how idiotic this all really is, "I got kicked out of Chili's last time I was here. I had too many of these and I got up on the bar and knocked over all the bottles of Chili's liquor. They kicked me out for two days until they realized who I was and brought me back. It was Sunday Funday. Where you say, 'It's Sunday, I'm going to get drunk.' Is today Sunday?"

Thank God there are still a few people out there who realize how dumb this is. I love you SNL.

Buddy Bathroom System
This needs to come to an end.
Ladies, please.
I try not to partake in this social habit, unless there's an obvious reason for me to. It just doesn't make any sense. Like, why do women have to pair up to go to the restroom in the first place? What in the world do they do in there that needs two people? It's a very concerning habit and it's popularity is starting to make me wonder if I'm doing something wrong.

My theory is that there's some alternate world in the ladies' room that the rest of us non-pairers don't know about. It's probably friggen awesome.

Gauges and Other Holes in Yo Face
Yikes. This is definitely a decision you will look back on with regret.
I can understand ear piercings. I have two on each lobe. But the ear is the only place you should ever get pierced.
And please limit your ear piercings, don't get too crazy and get those nasty industrial piercings.
No tongue (ruining your tooth enamel),
no lips (when you take your piercings out you drool through the hole),
and definitely no subdermals (that keep catching on things in your environment).
On a whole 'nother level of nastiness is: lacing, subdermal implants, and (dare I say it) genital piercings.
Aaack! Why!?!

I'll let you in on a little secret, no one takes you seriously.
And once you take those huge gauges out of your ears you have an earlobe that's become a gross floppy loop of skin. There's no reason you should be able to do this.

Now That's What I Call Music...?
Maybe I'm just weird, or does what my generation listen to and call "music" these days bear no resemblance to the word? Back me up here.
Nevermind, I'll back myself up.

There's far too much swearing. I believe in the use of cuss words, far more than most, to express a point or to embellish a comedic anecdote, but this new use of profanity is just rude. It adds nothing to society.
"Bitch, I'm a monster, no-good blood sucker
Fat motherfucker, now looks who's in trouble
As you run through my jungle all you hear is rumbles
Kanye West samples, here's one for example"
Wow. Not to even mention all the atrocious grammatical errors in that little gem of a stanza.

Why must they always say their name in every song? (I'm looking at you Jason DerĂ¼lo, Sean Kingston, Usher, and Sean Paul. And Jason, since when did you decide to put umlauts on your last name? Dumb.)

All the songs I'm bombarded with today are full of crude coitus references too. I suppose it's been a popular topic for many a decade now, being such an intrinsic part of life. Lyrics in general have gone downhill since the 90s. Most topics have become so poetically deprived that they're hard to listen to, making me nostalgic for an era I wasn't even alive in. To honor some olden goldies, let's play a little game I like to call...

"Then & Now!" 

On Making Love...
Then (SOS Band, 1980):
"Baby we can do it, take the time, do it right
We can do it baby, do it tonight
The love I feel for you, you feel for me
One life is all we have to live
Our love is all we have to give."

Now (Bloodhound Gang, 2000):
"Love, the kind you clean up
with a mop and bucket
Like the lost catacombs of Egypt
Only God knows where we stuck it."

On Dancing...
Then (Earth, Wind & Fire, 1981):
"Move yourself, and glide like a 747
and lose yourself, in the sky, among the clouds in the heavens.
Let this groove, light up your fuse, alright
Let this groove, set in your shoes..."

Now (Ciara, 2005):
"Rock it, don't stop it
Everybody get on the floor
Crank the party up
We about to get it on.
Let me see ya 1, 2 step
I love it when ya 1, 2 step
Everybody, 1, 2 step
We about to get it on."

On Love...
Then (Elvis Presley, 1961):
"Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Somethings are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can't help falling in love with you."

Now (Usher, 2010):
"'Cause baby tonight, the DJ got us fallin' in love again
Yeah, baby tonight, the DJ got us fallin' in love again
So dance, dance like it's the last, last night of your life, life
Gon' get you right
'Cause baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again."

Even instrumental music has gone to crap. Go listen to Herb Albert's 1962 "Lonely Bull" and Darude's 2001 "Sandstorm" and tell me that we haven't regressed.

I don't know if we'll ever get out of this funk and get back to stuff that's good to listen to, more stuff like that of Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Chris Isaak, Santana, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan's lyrics, Peter Gabriel, Steve Winwood, U2, Smokey Robinson, Simon & Garfunkel, and ELO.
Of course there are exceptions in both categories. There are some really shitty older bands, and some modern bands are doing well to come up with interesting new work, like OK Go, Barenaked Ladies, Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, and Mumford & Sons to name a few.

Thankfully, most country music has remained unscathed.
(I love you Reba!)

Flat Billed Hats
Here's another trend I simply cannot understand. There's a reason that you are supposed to bend the bill. It involves the sun primarily, but also a great deal of it is to ensure that you don't look like a complete idiot. And who decided that refraining from peeling the stickers off the hat is considered cool? I need to have a word with him...

I'm not sure when this "resistance" started, but it's high-time it stops. By not bending the bill on your hat, it makes it clear that you are lazy. If the bill has that lovely curve to it, it shows that the wearer works and has common sense. Farming, baseball, and countless other activities occur outside, generally when the sun is shining, sometimes you can be out there all day, so the sun changes it's position in the sky. I know, weird right? The bend in the bill is to protect your eyes from the sun, no matter the angle.

To combine this with another trend, who would you rather date...
A ripped hunky man with jeans that fit and who's been out working on the ranch all day,
or some pudgy idiot boy who has his pantalones draped around his knees and still has the stickers on his flat-billed hat?
I think we all know the answer to this one.

But then again, I guess we live in a time where most people have no need to even be outside. You can go your whole life from college to cubicle without needing to shelter your eyes from the sun. So go ahead and keep buying those stupid "gangster" hats, or whatever you kids call them nowadays.
Stupidity is not a crime, you're free to go.

Keep Your Hands Where I Can See Them
This is a really recent thing. Young men now have the idea that there's nothing wrong with, in any everyday situation, to stick their hands down their pants.
This is disgusting in so many ways... I simply cannot find a word to express it, so I will make up a new word: blarf!

Many men, confronted with the issue, excuse themselves with a laugh and by saying, "Well I had an itch."
That doesn't change the fact that it's revolting. If it is a commonly recurring issue, you need to change your chachies more often and get that shit checked out, especially if you feel anything like this. I don't want you handling your equipment and then touching anything that I come in contact with.
(Will Ferrel will give you a lesson on what a proper chachi looks like at 0:35 of this video.)

Do you know how the rest of the world deals with itches in inappropriate places? DISCREETLY. You excuse yourself to the restroom or at least try to be sneaky about it. Don't just go (excuse the expression) balls out, and throw your hands down there whenever you feel like it. It freaks normal people out.

I mean, you guys already have all the good things in life. You can pee in the woods standing up, you don't have a bitchy uterus that ruins a week out of every month, you don't have to go through childbirth, and there are no expectations for you to cook, clean, or do any form laundry. So don't push it. If this habit becomes socially acceptable then I'm going to freak out and think of something really ridiculous to instate that women can do. There will be consequences, and I can promise you it won't be fun for one of us.

Gloves for Your Feet
This is like going barefoot for pussies. When I was growing up, you went barefoot every summer, all summer, despite pitch, bark dust, bees, gravel, thistles, animal feces, and whatever else happened to be in your yard. You dealt with it all and by the end of the summer, your feet could handle anything. They were like tough old leather, like Keith Richards's face, and you were damn proud of it.

(Not a) Small price to pay to look like a complete fool. 

Now there's Vibram Five Fingered shoes. Aaaaahh!
First of all, why the hell aren't they called "Toed" shoes? I don't have fingers on my feet. That's just messed up. (On another note, what if you're missing a toe...?)
They cost like $100, while good ol' fashioned naked feet are free.
If you want to go barefoot, just do it. If you want protection for your dogs, put some shoes on for Pete's sake. You can't do both. You look ridiculous. You're getting the worst of both worlds, like motorsailing.

Again, thankfully SNL and I share the same viewpoint...

JJ Casuals, shoes that look like feet!

Free the Leashed Children
Holy shit. In a country where we can't teach our dogs to have proper leash skills, what in the world makes us think we should put our children on leads?

People are using leashes as a mean to forgo actual parenting. Instead of holding your child's hand when you're in public and keeping an eye on their activities, you put them on a leash like a dog. 

This is absolutely terrible and I'm upset to see that the US has fallen to this level. The fact that this Google search yielded more than a handful of different "leashed children" pictures makes me want to throw up. Or write a letter to my congressman. 

I guess no matter how bad things get though, it can always be worse. Thank you Cyanide & Happiness for this little gem...