Friday, August 31, 2007

Just A Walk In The Park - The Sequel

A little clarification in response to the comments on my last post:

WT: Basically, I did my "don't look at the dangerous animal and you won't enrage them," routine. I fortunately was very close to the larger, more populated path at that point, and I figured if he was doing something he didn't want to be caught at - or was trying to show women something he wanted to be caught at - if I pretended not to see him he would leave me alone. The one time I got hit by a stranger it was because I caught two teenaged guys doing something they shouldn't. More on that later.

CB: You do have a point: there's always danger in the big city. Of course, there's danger everywhere. Suburbs have rampant economic, drug and drinking problems, and the random violence that go with them. Plus, if you're out in the country, no one can hear you scream...

CD: No thank you. As angry and scared as I get sometimes, I can't wrap my mind around carrying a weapon. It just seems too likely to escalate things, or be turned against me.

I did study Goju karate and self-defense for several years, which has made me feel slightly more competent when it comes to looking out for myself. However, given my propensity to freeze like a deer in headlights in the face of strong danger, I find it most practical for me to practice the flight response rather than the fight response. As any good martial artist will tell you, the best self-defense is avoiding a fight as much as possible. Plus, I'm pretty much a pacifist.

Of course, there was the one time I got hit by the teenagers cited above. Punched right in the jaw where I'd just had oral surgery, when I discovered them defacing a subway hallway. I surprised my self by swinging up one of the very heavy suitcases I was holding and smacking the attacker upside the head. When he ran away, I yelled up the stairs to his compatriot (who had scampered up at my arrival), "Yo! Your boy just hit me - and if I see him again, I'm gonna kill 'im!"

I had no idea I was so ghetto.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Just A Walk In The Park

I did something today that I normally don't do: I wandered alone in the park. To be honest, I rarely "wander" alone anywhere. If I am walking somewhere alone, it must always be with a purpose. I must have people to see or errands to run. If I am with someone else, I can sometimes wander, even though being with someone usually means there will be a discussion of where to go. However, when I am by myself, I usually have to have a destination in mind, or I'm likely to stay inside.

Why is this? Well, I thought to myself while following a dappled path through Prospect Park, the fact is that I feel vulnerable when I am outside alone. On regular days I may just feel a little conspicuous - that is, I feel as though I don't want anyone looking at me. On good days I'm alright with it, but on bad days it devolves into downright social anxiety. In my mind, somebody, or some persons, are out to get me, whether it's with a few rude comments or an outright attack, and I must remain alert at all times, and scurry home as soon as my business is done.

Today was one of the bad days, for some reason, and while I'd had a lovely day wandering much of the neighbourhood with a friend-cum-longstanding AC client, as soon as she was gone, I felt strange. I decided that it was a beautiful day and it was time to get my butt to the park and get some sun and exercise, rather than sitting in my hidey-hole for hours. The previous day I'd barely ventured outside - only to do some quick grocery shopping - and I worry that feeding my neurosis only worsens it. So it was that around five thirty I found myself meandering through a groomed forest, and wondering why, instead of enjoying the greenery and light, I was having visions of scenes from The Blair Witch every time I looked around at the trees.

Why am I so afraid? I thought. Is it because my mother left our house when I was six, imprinting some kind of lack of protection on my tender brain? Is it because I grew up as one of the only white kids in a tough neighbourhood, routinely chided and threatened? Is it because of the training I received as a child of the 1970s, that strangers might try to kidnap and rape little kids, or at least put razor blades in their Halloween apples? Is it due to the two minor muggings I've been through, where I wasn't even badly hurt... my alcoholic stepfather... the events of 9/11? Just what is it that makes me so tense while alone in public that I cannot enjoy a simple stroll?

I decided then and there that I was going to push forward, keep walking, and get out by myself more often. I'd go to the park alone again soon. Maybe Coney Island, maybe a movie and lunch. I would wander with no direction, perhaps even without my ever-present iPod and camera that I sometimes use to separate a part of myself from the rest of the world. Here I was, on a gorgeous day in a gorgeous park, dozens of happy people just down the path enjoying the late summer sunshine without the slightest tremor of doubt, and I was going to continue down this path and enjoy it, too.

And that's when I saw the ragged looking half-undressed guy lurking behind a tree.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Random Observations of the Day

1. I am sick of hearing about Michael Vick on football shows. Yes, he did a bad thing, and he will be punished for it. I am actually thrilled that he was caught, will be punished and it all has been publicized, because animal abuse runs rampant in this country, with very little to stop it and mainly slaps on the wrist for abusers. However, when I watch my cheesy football programs, I want at least three quarters of them to be dedicated to general football news, not just the whole Michael Vick thing. Not only does it get boring, otherwise, but opening day is coming up and I've got three fantasy teams to maintain, people. TYFYPATTVIM.

2. Bread should be soft. Crusty is great, but the entirety of a slice of bread should not be like unto a slab of drywall. I'm not saying I like all my bread to be Wonderbread squishy - that's really only okay for PB&J or diner toast. But if the bread completely dominates the sandwich, it is too aggressive, capiche?

2b. Likewise, not all fancy bread needs to be sourdough. The uses of sourdough are limited! If I want some delicious rosemary bread, it does not to be sourdough, as well. Then, who can taste the rosemary?

3. If you want to see how your neighbours live, try pet sitting. Not only has the past week allowed me to meet lovely new critters, but to wander in the homes of several complete strangers. I've seen everything from a simple railroad flat to a richly appointed five-story victorian, aboriginal art to Herman Miller chairs, chipped floorboards to carved hearths, and it has been very interesting, indeed. And, although I do experience some apartment envy, it's also fun to realize what benefits our present abode does have (lots of space, with separate rooms but no separate levels) and what I would and wouldn't like in our next home, when we can afford one.

4. I always seem to have the latest gay boy haircut, unless you count the bald look. I think Mrs. Nator and I are fine with that.

5. I am the Greatest Procrastinator in the World!

Time to do something productive?

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Good, The Bad and The Creepy

Item: There is a trail of blood leading to our door - literally. We discovered it yesterday morning, but weren't sure what it was. Our landlords later told us that someone had been stabbed outside a local bar and stumbled down our block, stopping just in front of our building. Our downstairs neighbours had seen the cops dealing with the situation, but we had our air conditioner and TV on and didn't hear a thing. It's nausea-inducing enough to see a trail of splotches weaving up the block and around the corner and learn it is blood, but why did he stop, and leave an extra big splatter, in front of our building? Is this just where he dropped?

No further news on what happened, or how the victim is doing. Our neighbourhood is usually pretty good, so even if it's bound to happen once in a while in the big city, it's disconcerting.

Item: So far this week I have nine pet sitting and two communication gigs. Yesterday saw me visiting a parrot, two (lesbian) doves and four cats over three apartments. The cats are all love bugs, but the birds are suspicious of me. The most I could get out of the parrot was a several-minute round of exclamations of "hello!" back and forth between us. Most of the time, he snuck around in an almost cartoonish manner, sussing me out. It's fairly common for birds to be cautious with strangers, so I'm just trying to be gentle and give them their space. It does get a little tiresome, however, when the conversation goes like this: "Hello!" "Uh, hello!" "Hello!" "Hello!" "Hello!" "Hello!" "Hello!" "Oh, for Christ's sake..." "*burping noise*"

Item: Happy birthday to me. Today I turn (sigh) 37. When did birthdays stop being a cause for a big celebration?

Anyway, we're just having a low-key dinner out for two to celebrate, so today is free for me to finish up my pet sitting duties, confirm that the school processed my tuition, do some work on my business site, and contemplate the enormity of my lifestyle changes. Um, yipes.

Do I have enough stamina and enthusiasm to make it as a student while working at my advanced age? Stay tuned to find out...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ain't That America

I think I finally got myself off some of the collectibles and xtian sites that started plaguing me after I bought that Thomas Kinkade angel figurine for Mrs. Nator's grandmother. (I know. Don't get me started.) Here, however, is just a small section from one of their recent emails to me. Clicky piccy makey biggy.

I think the juxtaposition of the creepy preemie doll, the John Wayne knife and the Disney fairy just says it all about the U.S. of A., don't you? The Thomas Kinkade and Precious Moments links are just side Jell-O salads to this remarkable Spam Casserole of Middle American goodness.

I think I'm going to have to go do something very deviant right now. Don't wait up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Open for Bidness

Well, I've started my animal communication business up again, and started the pet sitting. Guess what? I'm feeling really good about it!

Sure, I've had to lay out some money for new supplies, new web ads and some new software (I can now offer phone call recordings on CD or MP3 download, so check me out, lalala). Sure, I've only made a bit of that money back so far, but my first pet sitting gig and latest two ac consultations, including a brand new client with a very emotional case, went really well.

So, even though I'm still feeling somewhat nervous and cautious, it's a good start. And the important thing is, not only do I feel I did a pretty good job thus far, but I've really enjoyed it, especially the cat sitting. I mean, the first clients were easy, but what's not to love about getting paid to play with kitties and have them climb up on your shoulders and lick you all over with their stinky kitty breafs? Nothing, that's what.

As for those of you who I promised I'd do free practice consultations with your animal kids... uh, I'm an idiot? And a terrible person? I just had a lot of nerves about performing well enough for my blog friends, I guess. I feel really guilty about not doing it for so long. But, if any of you still want a session, let me know, and we'll set something up.

Now I'm off to give my own critter brood some attention. Sonya Fitzpatrick, look out!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Late Registration

Well, there it is. At least for now. A few of the courses might change depending on what happens with drop/add later in the month. Also, I still haven't paid my tuition yet, as I have to get my final loan confirmation. Now that I know roughly what courses I'll be taking, I know that I have to add at least $550 per semester for the books I'll need. That's half again the tuition for this city college, people. Oy!

The biology and psychology courses aren't required, but I'm taking them because I want to see what grabs my interest. It may be that I get all excited about biology and decide to change my goal to a degree in that or zoology, or I like psych and decide to pursue becoming an animal behaviourist. Yes, I've taken those subjects before and enjoyed them (as I took Chemistry before and really struggled with the equations), but that was all 20-25 years ago. I think it would be best to brush up. Anyway, the bio course can also be used as a prereq for some vet tech courses later.

Speaking of a long time ago, I recently found my college ID cards from when I first registered in 1988 at just barely 18 years old. Good Lord.

"Hey. Wanna go out clubbing?"

Man. The hair. The makeup. The lack of fat. The enthusiasm. The youth. Who knew that nearly 20 years later I'd be dragging my sorry ass back to classes, to attend with kids fresh out of high school? Not that I'd have appreciated being called a kid at the time, what with going to live on my own in New York City and mingling nightly with the most drugged up adults Manhattan had to offer...

"New York City! Just like I pictured it... skyscrapers, and ev'rythang."

Yes, I had a fedora and a guitar pick earring. What of them? And no, I never throw anything out.

Keep laughing, people. Meanwhile, I'll keep cursing that my metabolism petered out and being grateful for my life experience since then.

I wonder if I can get my hair to swoop like that, again?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Aloha 'Oe

So, while First Nations is gettin' all scrumdillyiciously descriptive about her four day trip, you've heard barely a burp from me about Hawai'i thus far. This is is because:

1. I miss it so much that I am having major trouble adjusting to being back in the city, and thus can't really think about my vacation without going a little crazy

2. I'm afraid to bore all of y'all, since I don't seem to be at my writerly best of late (must be the stress, not lack of talent, right?)
3. We did so much over two weeks that it's a bit overwhelming trying to remember and artfully describe it all.

I did, however, finally post a jumble of description, reviews and pointers at TripAdvisor, so if you're so inclined, you can see that post to find out a bit of what our trip was like.

Other than that, I will drill away at getting the photos up, but as I'm so anal about post-processing them, it may be next summer before I get all of 'em chosen and adjusted just so. I can only hope some of them will be worth the trouble, even if they can't fully illustrate the gorgeous sights of the Big Island.

In the mean time, wish me luck Natorettes. Tomorrow I'm going to track down the head of the Vet Tech department and whinge at her in person!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Help A Poor Student

OK, who's going to buy me tickets to the Def Leppard/Foreigner/Styx show at Jones Beach? The impoverished inner-city students of today need to experience some culture, I tell you. Come on, be a man and step up! Or something.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's Not The Heat, It's The... Tornadoes?

I didn't want to schlep to Queens today in the 90-plus degree heat to try to sort out my registration issues. I knew that the guy who had been helping me with my loans was still out, and that the new head of the Vet Tech department, who I spoke with several times this week, had not yet been able to schedule another section of the course I need. Little did I know, the storms that briefly woke me up in the wee hours with raging thunder and rain would insure I wouldn't make that trip.

Although reports coming in to the New York Times, Gothamist, NY1 television and WNYC, the local NPR station, point out that there is no verification from the National Weather Service yet that one or more tornadoes came through Brooklyn last night, photos and calls from residents testify to some very-tornado like phenomena. That's right, large trees uprooted and flung tens of feet, roofs ripped off, a low roar like a train coming through in the middle of the night, and clear demarcations between blocks of severe destruction and blocks with no damage. In Brooklyn.

On top of that, rain upwards of three inches in an hour have flooded out and shut down pretty much the entire subway system, save one line. While Mrs. Nator slept in unusually late, commuters from New Jersey and Long Island found themselves stuck in the city, and subway and bus riders in all boroughs wandered, trying to find a running train or a bus not immobilized by traffic with space for one more body. It is a mess out there, my friends.

Of course, it reminds a lot of people of some of the other big recent crises when transportation and communication failed. Callers into local radio shows are complaining that nothing has changed since 9/11, as the MTA still neglects telling riders exactly what is going on, or makes announcements that are not only unhelpful, but unintelligible. When are they going to get it together?

For my part, it also reminds me a bit of that infamous day, because Mrs. Nator and I were both lucky. Six years ago I was the one who slept late and missed getting on a train before the event, and Mrs. Nator has made it safely to work beforehand. This morning, I had nowhere I had to go, and she couldn't seem to wake up on time. What's more, no major damage seems to have hit our neighbourhood.

Of course, it's still dangerously hot. As I listened to the callers from around Brooklyn complaining on the radio about what looked to them like tornado damage and the MTA's incompetency, I was leafing through An Inconvenient Truth. To my delight, the book was given free to every new student entering my new school this Fall as assigned reading. As I listened to weather experts connecting global warming with record-breaking heat and severe storms like hurricanes and tornadoes on the radio, I came to the section of the book that proved the same thing. In other words, it's not just New Orleans and Florida that have to worry anymore. The gangstas in the Boogie-Down better start rapping about whether they're tough enough to survive twenty-foot rises in sea levels, yo.

It made me feel slightly better that I had ordered biodegradable trash bags and recycled toilet paper yesterday. But not much.


P.S.: Best commentary of the day, courtesy of Gothamist:

Update: The NOAA has now confirmed a tornado touched down in Brooklyn. Forensic evidence suggests wind speeds of 111-135 MPH, making this about an F2 level tornado. Crazy!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

Doing semi-productive things, like trying to work out my school and job situations.

So, in the meantime, which is the funnier word: gleet or queef?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Beware The Crankenmonster!

1. I swore they wouldn't make me cry this time. They didn't, yet, but it was close. It turns out that after months of telling me I had to get my financial aid status worked out before I could register, not only was the rep who was helping me out for two weeks when I came in to register yesterday, but it turns out that I could have registered before the aid paperwork was done. Imagine my rage and frustration, then, when it turned out that not only will my loan paperwork not be processed for weeks, but two of the core courses I must take to enter the Vet Tech program are already filled.

I can't take other courses in their place because, as someone who already has a BA and some grad work, I've already fulfilled most of the credit requirements for the program! Which all means there may be only one or two courses open to me this semester, i.e. I'd be less than a half-time student, not eligible for any loans, still responsible for paying interest and payments on my pre-existing loans and have to return to work full time. Da Nator is Not. Pleased.

My only hope at this point is that I will be able to reach the director of the program (who is probably God Knows Where during August) and convince her to allow my a spot in the courses. Wish me lots of luck. Groveling Hat... on!

2. On a much less important note, "the most beautiful thing ever"? I think not. While I think Mia Michaels is a great choreographer, if she hadn't shared the backstory that this piece on So You Think You Can Dance last night was about her and her recently deceased father reuniting in heaven, would everyone be crying and raving at the end? The piece was good, but nowhere near as wonderful as her Emmy-nominated "bench" piece from last year. To cap it off, Neil's extra-Caucasian one-note dancing drained much of the spirit out of it, and Lacey, who normally is a bit better at conveying emotion (at least outwardly), must have been brought down to his level, because she spent the whole dance with a precious, frozen grin plastered on her face. Let's face it, what everybody loved about the piece was the dead father, and possibly the fake flowers all over the stage.

Lacey has been mostly consistent and vote-worthy, but Neil should have been gone a long time ago. He has been getting by on his WASPY, non-threatening-to-tweens looks, rather than his dancing or emotive ability. Boo, I say, BOO!

Thus endeth the gripe session for the day. Now I'm off to try reaching the program director again, setting up some work ours with my pet-sitter friend, and moping in the most obnoxious way possible. Maybe I'll work on vacation photos tomorrow. Today, I'm missing Hawai'i too much...

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