Saturday, February 23, 2013

Extra, Extra

Read all about it.

In keeping with my weekly commitment to blog, yet in full admission that I am completely uninspired to write this evening, I am going to merely going to touch on the headlines for this week.

"Naughty Ronnie Adopted, New Family To Teach Him Nice"
"Roller Derby Welcomes Newcomers 'Rockonda' and 'Chele on Wheels'"
"Kaiser Fail: Steve's Skin Graft Sloughs Off"
"Ronda Gives Notice, Four Weeks Until New Life"
"Home & Garden Show: Garden Serenity vs. Hawker Hell"
"Pizza Connoisseurs Pass On Juliano's in Vancouver"
"Friend's Mom Passes Away, Suicide Likely"

Until next week's edition.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


This is Ronnie, a ridiculous little terrier poodle mix currently available for adoption at the shelter. Ronnie was a stray, dropped off at the shelter last weekend, and he was the recipient of my first vaccination. Unlucky for him. Lucky for me, he has a very sweet disposition and gave me lots of kisses afterwards.

Tanya, the animal care aide training me that day, said we had to name him after me since he was my "first". We decided the male version of "Ronda" was "Ronald" ... but that's a little old man name, and this guy is a young punk. "Ronnie" it was.

This morning, Ronnie had his neuter surgery. I didn't get to work until noon as I was training in surgery. It took me a while to spot him looking down at me woozily from his top row kennel in the recovery room. When it came time to transfer him to the adoption floor, I was supposed to leash and walk him, but this little lovebug wanted to be held and even rested his head on my shoulder.

I have no doubt that Ronnie probably loves on all the shelter staff equally, but I'm always going to have a special spot for him in my heart.

There are some things that I have true anxiety about at the shelter. Poking unfamiliar, scared animals with needles is one of them. Ronnie helped my through my first poke. I know it will take me a while before I feel comfortable with this skill, but at least it will never be my first time again.

Here's Ronnie's "All About Me" write up on the shelter website:
I know I am almost too cute for words! But I have a secret to tell you...lean a little closer...don't tell anyone, but I can be naughty. I know, hard to believe but true. I may look like a fuzzy little lap dog but I am a smart and active guy in need of training and lots of daily exercise. I have been known to growl at dogs and sniff others politely. I know! I don't get it either but the shelter staff have faith in me and feel that a good program of reward based training and lots of jobs to do will help tone down my daily naughtiness. If you want a dog who will make you smile everyday, then ask about me! I am looking for a cat free home and may need to be the only pet. If you have another dog already, a social adult dog may be the best match. I am just about 2 years of age and I weigh a healthy 11lbs.
 Hope your find your forever home soon, little buddy!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

I Am What I Am

For a short time after high school, I was a server in a restaurant. It taught me two important lessons: how to appreciate servers, and how I hope to never again be one. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was once a server. So, I'm puzzled by my own reluctance to admit to anyone that I'm currently a secretary. There shouldn't be any embarrassment associated with this work - it's important, necessary, and I have the opportunity to positively support and impact a great number of people on any given day.

Maybe, once I can say that I was a secretary, and not that I am a secretary, the shame will disappear. There's nothing wrong with being a secretary ... but there must be something wrong with me being a secretary, because being one for this length of time has been unsettling to my soul. It is not who I am meant to be. That is a not a judgment on the profession or those who choose it and excel at it - it is a judgment on myself, and how long I have been willing to settle for safety and comfort, and how long I have shied away from challenge and dream-chasing and sacrifice and the unknown.

I want to be one of those people who proudly proclaims "I'm a ________". Someone who feels connected to her work; someone whose career identity is in line with her values, talents, and passions.

I want to be a zookeeper, and I will be so excited and proud to tell people when I am one.

That's a few years away, but I'm already proud of the steps I've taken over the last 18 months to get the plan in motion. I'm excited to know that in just 8 weeks, the plan will be accelerated. And, the more I talk to people about my future, the more at ease I feel in my soul.

I think it's about living life genuinely, and not feeling like a fraud. I think that's where the current shame comes from.

I can't wait.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

To Do: Matzo Ball Soup

I'm finding that keeping lists works for me. I need the pointed focus, and I relish the sense of satisfaction that comes from crossing things off.

I make impossibly long and ambitious lists, however. I always have. I stopped making lists when I was younger because items left undone would cause copious amounts of guilt and anxiety. Is it possible that I'm mellowing with age? Now I look at my long, ambitious lists ... and prioritize. What a concept! Items left undone are re-evaluated: move them to another day? delete them because, ultimately, they aren't that important?

I have daily lists: do laundry, work out for 35 minutes, take my BA131 test, add zoo internships to my vision board. A yearly list of goals with the number of items "to be done" matching the number of my years ... goals selected from a much longer list of potential goals for that year: run in two 5Ks, finish eating the last of the remaining NutriSystem food, try Heidi's Restaurant, finish reading my grandpa's journal, start school full-time in April. A bucket list for lifetime dreams and ambitions: become a bone marrow donor, go ziplining, swim with dolphins, get a college degree, see Josh Groban in concert.

Almost 20 years ago, an acquaintance invited me over for dinner. She served matzo ball soup, and I loved it. About 10 years ago, I saw a box of matzo ball soup mix in the grocery store and impulsively bought it. I never made it. Until tonight ... because I put in on the potential "38 Things To Do in 2013" list, and then moved it to my daily list ... and I prioritized it.

And even though matzo ball soup was remarkably more delicious in my memory, it made an incredibly satisfying dinner for my soul.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Oh, Henry

I expected to come home from the shelter on Sunday and cry for a bit. I had seen and touched my first dead animal. "Baby's first Henry", my trainer Lauren gently teased. Someone brings a dead animal to the shelter, and the front desk pages animal care staff over the intercom to let us know there is a "Henry" for us to deal with.

I was nervous, because I didn't know how I was going to react. I didn't like it. But I looked at him, and asked questions about him, and touched him, and helped throw him into the incinerator. And I didn't cry. Not then, not later.

Earlier that morning, I had to shovel the ashes out of the incinerator from the prior day's burn. I didn't expect to hear the tinkling of little bone fragments, sounding like windchimes made of tiny seashells. It was disconcerting, and interesting. It didn't make me feel as awful as I thought it would.

My first Henry was a black and white border collie. No collar, no microchip. No way to know who was missing him. We took notes of his most distinguishing features, in case the owner contacts the shelter. Will they? I'll never know.

These are the unpleasantries that we have to deal with at our county-run shelter. I guess I'm relieved to find that I have the strength and composure needed for such tasks. But I fully expected to cry, and I wonder if it's okay that I didn't.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Peace, Be Still

I have been a torrent of emotions lately. I've been doing too much and sleeping too little - working full-time at Springdale (wishing to quit), training on the weekends at the animal shelter, taking two classes at MHCC (wishing to go full-time), and trying to maintain my monthly volunteer commitment at the zoo (wishing to do much more). I'm neglecting my family, my friends, my husband, and my physical well-being, and the neglect walks hand-in-hand with its partner, guilt. I've been sick for over two weeks, and Steve for over three. Beeker has been ripping his fur out due to a skin condition, and the medicine I have to force down his throat makes him vomit. Steve's parents are both struggling with medical and aging issues, and his whole family is feeling the pressure and the strain. I could go on ... complaints and concerns and anger and angst rushing off my fingertips onto the keyboard like a bubbling, boiling, unceasing lava ...

... but I do try to keep myself in check. "Perspective," I religiously write on my mental list of things-to-do each day: "check".

But as religion can be bereft, so are my attempts at downplaying my current inner turmoil. My brain doesn't seem to communicate well with my gut or my heart, as those organs don't seem to keep checklists.

I had the day off today. Other than homework, I had no true commitments. And because I could slow down and turn off the voice of the crazy woman, there was time for a chorus to work its way gently into my usually restless mind:

"Peace, be still ... Peace, be still.
Peace, be still ... And the wind and the waves,
Peace, be still ... Peace, be still.
Peace, be still ... And the ocean obeys."

I first heard Twila Paris sing when I was living in Eugene, restless and conflicted with remaining in school. I saw her name on the marquee of a performing arts center I walked by each day, and knowing only that she was a Christian artist, I decided to go to her concert. Shortly thereafter, I made the decision to leave school. I can't say that those two events were connected ... but I find it remarkable that, all these years later, when what I want more than anything is to finally return to school, what I hear is Twila's voice is lilting gently through my conscience: "Peace, be still".

And will Ronda obey?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Power of Poo

I have cleaned up lots of dog poo these last two weekends working at the animal shelter. I think my ability to clean it up without vomiting, gagging, or even making embarrassing faces has gone better than I expected. But the poo - oh lord, the poo - is so much worse than I expected.

Dogs at the shelter - because of health problems, poor nutrition, a change in diet, or simply due to stress - have a lot of soft stool. If it's not so liquid they can paint with it, it's just. so. sticky. Angels sing from heaven when a solid stool is formed.

This poo - the bad poo - is powerful stuff. Not just in stickiness, or in odoriferousness. This poo is so powerful it has practically cemented my resolve to only being a cat owner, where litter is life-changing. And if there was ever a doubt as to how I felt about potentially changing diapers for years, this poo could be the deciding factor.

No dogs. No kids. Except for perhaps a goat kid, who would poo neat little pellets. And maintain my lawn.