Why Some Pet Owners Suck

October 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm (Life) (, , , , )

Today, on our way to school and work, C. and I got stuck in traffic. The traffic patterns at one of the pikes has been reset because they have been futzing around with construction a lot. So for a while, we were only inching along. At one point, we come to a halt. I make the mistake of looking out the window. What do I see?

That’s right, someone’s run-over pet.

The poor cat had probably been hit by a car and managed to drag itself off the road before it croaked. It was clearly someone’s pet – well-fed, otherwise in good shape, still fairly young. I couldn’t see its face, thank God, but it lay on its side, legs splayed as though it were running and twitching in its sleep, blood caking its mouth.

Until recently, my family basically always had a pet. We never had cats, but Lena was a regular old escape artist of a dog and whenever she disappeared, it felt like a little part of me died. She was a Golden Retriever – that means a BIG dog, the kind you can see in case it streaks across the street in front of your car. However, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t do it totally unexpectedly or that you would be able to break in time not to hit her. Much like Winnie the Pooh, she had more fluff for brains than anything and she certainly wasn’t gifted with common sense. We always understood that having a pet escape and run about was a dangerous thing – most dog owners comprehend this matter. Cars are not safe to be around as a pedestrian, why would that be any different for a four-footed family member?

What I DON’T get is how this seems to be too hard for a lot of cat owners to understand. A cat, dear friends, is a PET. A cat is an animal. No matter what you may think, cats are not smart; most dogs have more common sense than a cat ever will have. Cats are, above all, arrogant and will not understand that a ton of metal will crush them. Some cat owners place way more faith into their cats than is ever warranted. Let me repeat: it is a RARE instant for a cat to be smart. Frankly, cats are also nowhere near as FAST as you think they are. A car is faster, bigger, meaner.

What I’m trying to get at is this: If you love your cat, don’t let it out. Just don’t. Unless your cat’s a Main Coone (thus a huge bugger), it is small and almost invisible, especially in the US where everyone drives SUVs which are generally higher than most European cars. People’s reaction times are slow. A cat doesn’t stand a chance.

Today, I saw someone’s beloved family pet dead at the roadside. I’m very sorry for their loss. But I can’t help but wonder if they really loved that cat since they let it out of their house in a high traffic area. Since I no longer have a pet of my own, it makes me resentful that someone would gamble with their pet’s life that way.

This cat lost the gamble and its carcass probably traumatized a bunch of small children who were on their way to school this morning. Please don’t be that cat owner.


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September 28, 2009 at 9:16 pm (Life) (, , , , , , , , )

grumpy This was my expression throughout the majority of the Torah services, Yizkor and Musaf and the beginning of the Avodah (at which point, we left).

I have realized I am not cut out to be the member of a congregation as large as this. There were well over a thousand people present. This means it is loud, people are always talking, it is hard for me to concentrate on the actual prayers and it is super crowded. There was absolutely no room for me to move during the Amidah. Someone behind me was constantly basically shoving their book into the back of my head.

Again, the rabbi felt it was appropriate to ask for money. During Yizkor. OF ALL TIMES, DURING YIZKOR. Did it ever occur to him how incredibly rude that is? People have passed away and we’re trying to say prayers for them, and you’re asking us to reach into our pockets? The man moved further up my list of Obnoxious Things And People I Dislike. This is a rather affluent community, I’m sure he could have asked for donations for Israel Bonds or their synagogue at some other point. His stories and interjections were absolutely moot, pointless.

If there is a God, S/He will not make me go back to this place. Ever. Please, please, please let me have transferred to a different school and a different community by then. I can’t deal with this again.

I made sure to email all my professors about my absence, so everything was alright on that front. I finally managed to weave my way through the automated phone system operated by TriCare in order to inquire about getting new contact lenses through someone here in the area. It seems they are willing to cover it, but I apparently still need to talk to someone back in Europe as to how exactly we want to proceed. Simple, people – I need to see an experienced ophthalmologist who can deal with eyes that have been operated on, have a high astigmatism and off-the-charts diopters. Ugh. I hate life.

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Yom Kippur

September 27, 2009 at 10:59 pm (Life) (, , , , , , , )

I did manage to find a place to go for Yom Kippur. However, it’s not somewhere I see myself going back to after my obligation for Yom Kippur is over. The congregation is large, impersonal and conservative. The latter wouldn’t bother me too much, but it’s a little . . . restrictive, in a way. It’s the kind of place where you’ll see older people and young families and very little in between.

Not only that, but the rabbi started being a solicitor for various funds in the middle of services, which I thought was incredibly inappropriate. We’re RIGHT smackdab in the middle of Kol Nidre services. And you ask people to put money into Israel Bonds? REALLY? YOU THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA? He also started harping on our need to support Israel and donate and blahblahblah.

I have no issue with charity. I do have an issue when a religious official uses his role to push political agendas; it’s not something I have ever seen a rabbi do and I hope I’ll never have to see it again. It’s not something I associate with Judaism, the begging for money and propagation of political things is more a Christian phenomenon. Or it was until now.

The whole thing just made me incredibly uncomfortable. A religious official is supposed to offer advice, not preach from the pulpit about how I as a Jew am obligated to support Israel in every possible way. That’s like someone telling C. that she has to support the Pope because she’s Catholic despite the fact that dude’s batshit crazy, not to mention assbackwards on basically every matter of social importance. I am in no way obligated to support a country simply because I am part of a religious entity. I will not publicly support a country and a government on the basis of this.

I appreciate Israel’s existence, but I do not agree with a lot of their policies. I believe displacing Palestinians is wrong. The way Israel was founded is very much akin to the Europeans marching into North American and displacing all the American Indians. I don’t believe military action is necessary all the damn time and I am absolutely horrified at the sense of entitlement that many European and American-born Jews have when they make aliyah, and how perfectly acceptable the racism towards Palestinians is within those Jewish communities in Israel.

So, no, Rabbi Whateveryournamemaybe, I am keeping my money out of Israel Bonds and in my damn pocket. This kind of conduct does not leave me feeling spiritually cleansed, forgiven by God or enlightened. It makes me think I ended up an awful place for a very emotional time, and that makes me sad.

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Busy, Busy, Busy

September 23, 2009 at 10:08 pm (Music, School) (, , )

School has been driving me nuts. It’s only week, what? Three? And I’ve been running around like a decapitated chicken. I’m up to six songs for my voice lessons this semester – minimum requirement for a second semester student: six. I am working on memorizing the four-song cycle Blue Mountain Ballads by Paul Bowles, I have the de Luca song in Italian down pat and am struggling through the two Handel as per usual.

Baroque music is hard, in case you didn’t know. For a look at the second song I am working on, look here:

The soprano doing it is fantastic and I’m a little jealous. Ah well, someday!

As she ought to, Dr. D’s coming down hard on my bad habits. I have several years of bad singing habits deeply ingrained into both brain and muscle memory, cemented by two voice teachers. I was taught by a tenor for a while, which apparently was the worst idea ever because the way their voices and bodies work to produce sound are so vastly different from all voice types that having them teach is just bad all around. A lot of it is breath management and breathing, with which I can legitimately argue that it’s not going to improve until I move somewhere where I won’t be exposed to allergens 100% of the time. More importantly, though, is convincing my brain that no, I am not, in fact, a heavy voice type, therefore I have absolutely no reason to be pushing as hard as I do.

Out, not in.  And turning off my brain for half of what I am doing would also be brilliant because I tend to overthink what I do. As Dr. D says, I work too hard and being a lyric soprano I should not be working hard at all because it’s equivalent to erecting giant barriers to work around. It can also damage the vocal cords in the long run; I’ve had a few close calls before and have no interest in repeating that experience or winding up like either Karita Mattila or Natalie Dessay, who both required surgery to reverse the damage done.

I’m also struggling a lot with piano; I am simply not very good at it and I’m absolutely terrified I won’t do well in this class, thereby ruining my GPA and dashing all hopes of transferring wherever I want to. I haven’t had the chance to talk to Dr. D about transferring and recommendations and such yet because she’s been just as ridiculously busy as ever, but I have an appointment with a guidance counselor for next Tuesday. Here’s hoping it’ll go well.

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A Curious Case

September 13, 2009 at 10:52 pm (News) (, , , , , , )

By now, the news about Caster Semenya is all over the place. My main concern with the whole deal is how poorly she (YES, SHE) was treated and how much of a disgrace the IAAF and SA Sports Management have been in the matter. It is in extremely poor taste to publicly demand gender testing and then publicize the results without contacting the person first.

All I see right now is a bunch of smug people saying, “I told you so,” because they thought Caster Semenya looked “manly.” And a lot of people, like myself, who are absolutely livid about the way Semenya’s privacy was violated. Would it not occur to officials that, oh, a young woman who – as it turns out – is intersex and still a teenager might need time to adjust to the results of her testing? Homosexuals and transgender folk go through a lot of emotional turmoil trying to figure out where they stand on their issues; why should it be any different, if not even more difficult, for someone who has been harassed about her masculine appearance her whole life?

I’m absolutely tired of people basing their opinions on her appearance. So what if she has manly features? There’s plenty of heterosexual, gender-normative women who have many attributes we would describe as masculine. I know a lot of men who have very feminine features. Appearance has absolutely nothing to do with her performance as an athlete, her right to identify as the gender she feels she is, nor has it any implication to her sex. Period. It is one dead horse I wish people would lay off. Get over yourselves; it is inappropriate and uncalled for.

Semenya is not the first nor will she be the last intersex athlete. The question is, do we really have the right to take away the one thing she loves and does best – running in competitive sports? She has always identified as female, regardless of her genitals or hormone levels. Even if she does produce more testosterone than your average female athlete, she still has lower levels than a male athlete. What are they going to do, make her compete in the Paralympics? Ban her entirely? Open up an entirely different category for transgender and intersex athletes? I do not believe it would be fair to ban her from her vocation, she didn’t deceive anyone on purpose and she was abused by officials greedy for medals to be attributed to their nation, and abused by officials wishing to call more publicity to their organization. I hope to God that poor girl is compensated somehow.

I wish this would trigger intelligent discourse, but I know it will not because the majority of humankind is stupid.

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September 11, 2009 at 8:43 pm (Life) (, , , , , )

This state just makes me feel intensely lonely. The cat is not really the best companion you could imagine. C. doesn’t know anyone who has a friendly dog I could take for walks. One family has a dog, but she’s just as ill-tempered and unfriendly with everyone as Odin. I am terrified of applying to the local chapter of the Humane Society to be a dog handler for their shelter for fear of being rejected on the basis of everyone wanting that position.

I hate this and clearly need a job that won’t take me traveling afar, to be done with college and to live somewhere else. And all this whinging of mine makes me fear the years to come in which I probably won’t be able to own a dog.

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September 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm (Life, School) (, , , , , )

Another successful day. I was at the college at an exceptionally early hour, but that turned out to be okay. One of the guys came over to talk to me because he was just as early as I was. Polishing up my social skills: success! I picked up both the recordings of the pieces we will be singing in chorus this year and the soprano part, so I should be alright. I also signed up for a practice room. I only filled out one time slot, on Tuesday, but I might check back for a second because I just don’t know how much I will have to practice just yet.

After my last class, I headed over to the student services building where I picked up the form I’ll need to fill out in order to get a confirmation letter from the college that I am enrolled in the fall semester. For what I need it, I do not know, but my father requested it and so I hopped to it. It’ll cost me five bucks. I can deal with that, even though it’s like, uh, I’ll be picking it up, so it’s not like you guys are paying postage. Seriously?

I am still a little jet-lagged, but what else will you expect? I made it until 09.30pm yesterday and then collapsed into bed. I felt a little ill, so I couldn’t sleep at first. Downed a phenergan. Sleep was imminent. I have found that packing my stuff the night before allows me to sleep a little longer if I want to. I might even start laying out my clothes like an elementary schooler again if it saves me time and stress in the morning. Getting to school early saves me a lot of money because I only have to pay for the bus fare in one direction. I am also still waiting for the books I ordered to arrive. I need my schoolbooks, Amazon. I can only deal with irritated professors for so long. On the other hand, I don’t feel as though they have any right to be snappy – schoolbooks cost a fortune. Even with the discounts and the books being used, it still made me cringe; it’s no wonder everyone is heavily in debt. Jesus.

I have also started keeping a hand-written journal again. I figure it is a quaint, if slightly anachronistic, thing and that such written forms keep for a while. Who knows? Maybe my future self may need it or find it good for a laugh. If nothing else, if anything happens to me, there will be something in paper for people to hold on to. I would know that feels; Lena’s box has been in my bed ever since I picked it up from the vet because it helps me sleep better. It makes her memory feel a little more tangible, even as I hurt inside.

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Dentist 1, Dani 0

August 18, 2009 at 11:19 pm (Life) (, , , )

Since a bunch of my readers have friended me on Facebook or are following me on Twitter, you probably will have heard about my dental woes already. About three weeks ago I had a dental appointment where my cavity-infested molar was to be fixed. Easy-peasy, right? Right. So we thought. Looking back, there were a few warning signs of worse things to come.

Exhibit A: It took four shots of regular pain killers followed by some hardcore Novocaine to numb my gums enough for the dentist to drill. At first, we thought it was a small cavity. It was. HOWEVER, it went deep and I think the dentist must have laid open the nerve because of this.

Exhibit B: I was hurting like hell afterwards, to the point where I had to skip going to the gym because my whole jaw was throbbing. Excedrin and Motrin became my new best friends. I chalked the pain down as my body coping with the trauma of drilling and the subsequent adjustment that goes along with having foreign substances inserted into it.

The pain did not wear off. It got bad enough that half a week later, I dropped by for dental sick call. The dentist shrugged my concerns off because my tooth was not reacting to blowing cold air on it or him banging on it repeatedly. My tooth was doing whatever the hell it felt like doing. I was prescribed higher doses of Motrin for the pain; because Motrin is an anti-inflammatory drug, we were also hoping this would help.

The next two weeks we went on vacation and let me tell you, it is not pleasant to have to swallow 800 mg of Motrin three times a day in order to keep the level of pain bearable. The pain killers often wore off in the middle of the night or when I was eating or doing whatever I was doing, resulting in severe aching and extreme crankiness. I become really mean when I hurt. I would not have liked to be around me, frankly. We ran out of the prescription Motrin at the beginning of our stay in San Francisco. I raided my mother’s supply. That ran out too. I took my dad’s Aspirin and some hardcore meds. Those were short-term pain killers more than anything. We bought more Motrin at the local Walgreen’s. We ran out of that too. Back to the Aspirin and Phenergen. Cranky hurting flight back to Heathrow. We walked in the door of our house; I ingested two extra strength Exedrin and four Advil within two minutes of arriving back at home.

The dentist was called. I was squeezed in on sick call again.

We made the run to Croughton. My body’s still messed up on time zone changes (as evidenced by the fact I am writing this at four AM) so of course I was awake at godawful hours in the morning, which meant more pain killers. My body was still processing 800 mg of Advil and two Exedrins when we arrived at the dental clinic, which meant it wasn’t too bad to have the dentist bang on my tooth and whatnot. He decided to take out the filling and replace it, though he thought a root canal would be necessary; he took the filling out.

LO AND BEHOLD! The nerve under the plastic filling was bleeding! Not only that, but the blood had accumulated under the filling. We assume there must have also been an inflammatory chemical reaction from the blood with the plastic filling. The nerve was still viable because it was bleeding, meaning it was alive, but it was going to die sooner or later. We decided to go ahead with the root canal. Two numbing shots – I am still able to feel the drilling. The third one does the trick and leaves everything in my mouth swollen and numb for hours, but at least I can’t feel them scraping pulp out of my tooth, not to mention cutting and pulling out the giant-ass nerve. I made them show me the nerve. It looked like a dead worm, in terms of size and coloring. (For all of you who didn’t take a lot of biology back in high school or even college, that means it is HUGE by cordata standards. We have fatty tissue around our nerves to make the electric transmission of signals faster and more efficient; critters without spines don’t have those, so the nerve of an octopus, for example, can be almost as huge as a medium-sized carrot.)

What I did not know about root canals is that they irritate the shit out of the inside of your tooth in order to kill off everything inside. They use bleach. YES, YOU HEARD ME RIGHT. BLEACH. Did I mention dental dams sometimes leak? Let me tell you, bleach tastes fucking nasty. The tooth, ironically, hurts a lot less now than it did before and there certainly isn’t that dreadful dull ache anymore. However, it is not happy when I bite down on things, even when I chew on the other side of my mouth. Even soggy cereal makes it angry. Motrin again.

So now I basically have a dead tooth in my mouth; the follow-up appointment to fix it up the rest of the way is next Tuesday, or maybe Monday, depending on whether the inspection of the dental clinic is on Monday or Tuesday. The dentist was also pretty nice once I got over my crankiness with his ignoring of my pain two weeks beforehand.

That, my friends, is my dental saga. Let us keep our fingers crossed that this is my first and last root canal for a LONG time.

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