Monday, November 03, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just A Leech On The Groin Of Society

Mrs. Nator surprised me yesterday. She told me that she'd been working out some figures, and decided that it would be better for us to take out another loan until I graduate, rather than having me find another job.

Do you think it had something to do with the hour-long crying jag/anxiety attack I had that morning?

Yes, school has been more intense than I ever imagined it. "A two-year degree at a community college," thought I. "How hard could it be?"

I did not realize that the reason they have about a 100% rate of graduates passing the licensing exam and getting jobs immediately is because most of the students wash out before graduation. Nor did I realize they essentially cram three or four years' worth of information into two straight years, with almost no break, since we have summer internships. Finally, I did not realize how the thought of possibly screwing up and hurting an animal - as I nearly did by mis-placing my first solo endotracheal intubation into the dog's esophagus instead of her trachea - would raise my already high anxiety generator to nuclear meltdown levels.

So, thank you Mrs. Nator. What's another few thousand in debt when at least we haven't defaulted on a mortgage or lost our shirts in the stock market? Now, I hope, I can focus on studying, rehabilitating my leg, and learning how to meditate the stress out and the confidence in. I'll make you proud, I promise.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Glass Half Full

I broke my uninsured cell phone - but the nice young man at the service center got me a free replacement phone as a courtesy! So, all I lost were some blurry photos from a Joan Osborne concert and a few phone numbers, not several hundred dollars.

I had to schlep to the city and wait a long time to get the phone - but I got to sit in lovely Bryant Park and watch the Polish Day Parade at one end and some quaint old French guys playing petanque on the other - now that's cultah!

I had to leave my job because of my knee injury - but the head receptionist at the office has to be out for a couple months, so they might hire me back at the front desk!

My days off from school are over - but that's great, because I seem to get all stressed out when I don't have a structured day and things to do!

I can't afford any new clothes - but you can't even tell that I patched my favourite old jeans!

We are durn near broke this month, what with my accident and loss of employment - but there's a two-for-one special on spaghetti sauce at the Latino supermarket!

This message has been brought to you by the Campaign to Get Me To See Some Silver Linings and Stop Wallowing Pathetically.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Life Is Like A Roller Coaster

Lately, with my knee injury and trying to stay in school and find a new job, it's felt that way to me. My first memory of a coaster, however, is a little bit different than most. I've carried to this day a visceral but clear memory of in my head of the first "big kid" coaster I ever went on when I was probably no more than five. It wasn't a traditional coaster, but a toboggan that when vertically up a dark tube, then out into the sunlight and down and around in spiraling turns to a few gentle dips at the bottom. For some reason, the period in the tube, tilted onto my back staring up in anticipation, is the part I get visions of every now ant then.

That ride in Wildwood, NJ, is long gone, but thanks to the interwebs, I've found POV footage of an exact replica in Altoona, PA. Watch and enter deep into the recesses of Da Nator's mysterious psyche! (Or is that id? Apply your own school of psychology!)

What strikes me most about this now is how much it mimics being born. Seriously, you're put in an uncomfortable position, faced with an irreversible path into the dark where you don't know what will happen next, thrust through a scary tube into blinding light and whirled around in a vantage point you've never seen before. No wonder it's stuck in my subconsciousness!

That or, you know, it was just something I'd never done before and a very cool ride. Here's hoping your coaster ride doesn't malfunction and throw you off into space...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Finally, I have something in common with Tom Brady.

Too bad it isn't his salary. What I mean is, for the second time at the beginning of a school year, I have injured my right leg in a ridiculous manner.

You may remember that an unfortunate encounter with a granny cart while merely doing my laundry left part of my shin cored down to the bone and the entirety of me holed up in the hospital for some time after the wound went septic. This time, it was also a fairly innocent event. A little trip to the beach at Cape May, NJ for a couple days, to be exact.

I mainly booked a couple days at the beach because I had my annual forceful yearning to swim in the ocean. However, when we got there, the surf seemed rougher than I expected. There was even a cluster of surfers catching some actual curling waves - not a usual site on many placid New Jersey shores.

At this point, a disagreement broke out between Mrs. Nator and I that went something like this:

Me: Well, going for a swim now!

She: Honey, I'm not sure you should. I don't see many other people in the water.

Me: (Not seeing warning flags posted) Well, it looks a little rough, but we're right here in front of the lifeguard's station. I'm sure it will be fine.

She: (Wading in a bit with me) The current is really strong. I don't think you should go out. Stop going out so far!

Me: Yes, it's strong and pretty cold. I'm kind of surprised. I haven't seen it like this before here. But I really want to go swimming! That's what we freakin' came here for, so I'm going in!

She: (Gripping my forearm) Don't you go in there! It is not safe and I don't want you going in there and getting hurt!


At any rate, she won the first round, but as soon as she dozed off, I went back to the water. Where she found me at the edge and accused me of trying to sneak away and scaring her to death, with me responding that I thought she heard me go and I wanted to swim, Goddamnit. Repeat argument 1, with less politesse.

Fast forward less than five minutes. I have stormed partially into the water. A giant wave comes and smacks me in the side of the knee while my foot is planted in the sand. I hear a distinct "click-CLICK!" as the joint bends unnaturally sideways and I go down. "That's probably not good," I muse to myself, then spend the next five to ten minutes flailing in the surf, letting wave after wave spin me around while the lifeguards repeatedly blow their whistles at me (gee, thanks), because I'm not sure I can get up.

I do get up. I can walk - wobbling and painfully, but I can. I have swelling and some trouble with stairs and walking long distances over the next few days, but with ice and rest it gets better. Until the first week of class, when, while innocently walking across the floor in the animal lab center, my knee completely buckles under me, leaving me on the floor in the doggy position, keening in pain in front of everyone.

I agree to go to the doctor at the urging of the folks in the vet tech program, who reasonably enough don't want me toppling over and flinging animals. I get an xray. The doctor thinks I'm fine and can go back to doing whatever. He says I could get an MRI, if I want. I decide to do it, just to be safe.

And I have a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

I will have to get surgery, eventually. Right now I'm trying to opt out of it in order to complete my final year at school. Lots of people make it around just fine for some time on torn ACLs, as long as they don't have very athletic things they have to do. The problem is, I have to get my doctor to sign off on a list of physical activities I have to do for class, such as stoop, lift 50 pounds, turn and balance. I also have a job where I'm carrying things, including live animals, and running around and on my feet for 10 hours at a time. I'm not sure if/how this will all work out.

So, if you've been wondering why I haven't been posting lately, there it is. I'm trying to work this out and keep up with a so-demanding-it-makes-my eyeballs-bulge-and-my-brain-weep-angels'-tears course schedule. Wish me luck... and don't go in the water!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Something Funny Happened On The Way To New Jersey...

We were supposed to start our get-away yesterday, but...

I got insomnia and tummy problems...

The toilet seat and flushing mechanism both broke...

BOTH turtle tank filters broke, one in a way that I was unable to fix it...

Our cat Maurice is supposed to spend the time we are away in medical boarding at the hospital where I work. Do you think he has magic voodoo powers keeping us home?

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Circle of Life

While the circle of life has led me to fall behind on posting while cleaning the apartment and taking a brief vacation, it also has led to a new hope. And that hope is for comedy gold.

See you when I get back from the beach.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Have A Nice Day

P.S.: This is not footage from my zoo internship. The chickens there were into John Cage.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Excerpts from a Zoo Intern's Journal, Pt. II

Names and details fudged to protect the innocent and influential.

I help change out the dove’s paper. The frogs get specially distilled “Culligan water” every day and get powdered (not gut-loaded) crickets every other day. We are supposed to give them plenty, so they never have to fight over food. They also get misted with the Culligan water. W is pleased that I know this is because chlorine is bad for their skin, which they breathe through. Their lamp, like the turtles’, is a large UVA/UVB spot, and they are kept at around 82 °F. No wonder I’m sweating in here!

The birds get diets of mixed veggies, fruits, seeds and other stuff, like “soft bill” mix for the dove, ½ in the morning and ½ in the evening. We have to put the birds’ food bowls in a larger dish of water to form a “moat,” because there is an ant problem in this building. If you look closely enough in almost any area animals are housed, you see lots of tiny ants sniffing around for scraps. Frankly, working with animals and their food in old buildings in the middle of a park in summer, this is probably the least offensive problem they could have.

W also shows me the notation system on the whiteboards, which matches the zoo database. Each animal has an assigned number and code. They also have a numbering system by gender, where, for example, 0.0.3 stands for 3 mantella frogs of unknown gender, and 0.1 stands for one female fruit dove. There are notations for what rooms the animals are in, as well.

By the way, if you introduce a new animal into quarantine, all the other animals in the room go back to day one of the thirty days, too. However, according to W, there are “grey areas” where the full 30 days is judged unnecessary. I imagine that there would have to be, with the limited space they have.

W takes me in to see keeper Isabela in ISO. ISO here is not really an isolation unit, but a sort of holding area. It’s full of fish tanks, aquariums with bugs, snakes, turtles, lizards and frogs in them, and a separate room where some other animals are being held because they are supposed to be moved elsewhere. W gets the impression that I’m a herp nut (well, I do like them) and thinks I’ll enjoy looking around. They do a lot of water quality checks here, usually in the morning, and W later tells me that learning how to do that got her her first job at the NY Aquarium. I hope I get to learn that while I’m here.

Back in the clinic, she enters info into the database system the use. Holy cow – it’s on DOS! Another small budget constraint, I guess. W says she used to be a computer programmer in C++, by the way, so that must particularly annoy her.

The vet, Dr. R, comes in, and things become a whirlwind. She does a bandage change on the scalped tragopan (a type of pheasant). I keep an eye on the anaesthesia settings as she explains the exposed bone of the skull must be kept moist. She is intentionally a bit rough with the wound area to promote blood flow. They use a rectal probe for the pulse oximeter. Both she and W are pleased when they forget they meant to pull up fluids and I ask if they want me to do it for them. I feel like having to be on my toes at the hospital is maybe helping me out a little bit.

Meanwhile, I’m noting where all the supplies and meds are, and that they use PDS-II 4-0 sutures and give fluids near the rear of the bird to avoid the air sacs. W tells me the pocket under the dorsal hinge of the leg is a good place. After applying SSD, they discuss with the supervisor whether there’s any medical reason for the tragopan not to go back on exhibit. The doctor takes a Sharpie and colors in a piece of Duoderm, testing to see if the ink will bleed through. It doesn’t, so they put it on the bird and she’s ready to go. Up close, she looks like she’s wearing a little birdie yarmulke, which I guess will match all the little Chasid boys running all over the zoo. We are near a famous Jewish neighborhood, after all.

Next up is a Western screech owl with a chronically inflamed joint on her wing. They take radiographs (which I develop) and blood samples. The owl skeleton, particularly the head, with its enormous eye sockets, is very cool. Unfortunately, the bone looks like it’s part of the growth, so they discuss amputation as they wake her up.

Now we have Hydrox, an elderly guinea pig whose hair sticks up in clumps like an anime character. I keep processing rads and track of where W is getting the supplies from, like the formalin sample jar, catheters, slides and surgery pack. They are checking out a wound on Hydrox’s foot and taking a biopsy of a growth in the lower conjunctiva of her eye. They don’t have some of the instruments Dr. R wants, so she MacGuyvers something out of a scalpel and some wire. She is clearly really good at what she does.

They use DMSO on Hydrox’s foot to help her absorb the medication. The supervisor grinds her claws down with a dremel, as long as she’s out, anyway. Her rads show she is full of gas – poor thing – so they give her Gas-X, as well. Her veggies will be rationed to discourage bloat. She takes a long time waking up and it worries us a bit, so she’s put in the incubator to recover. I make her up a paper tray of food and wish her well.

Heading to lunch, I meet Stu the fish crow, who calls out “hi!” from his enclosure near the clinic. There are chipmunks all over and wild bunnies zooming through the undergrowth. I guess the zoo is a haven for the wild local critters, as well.

By the sea lion pool, I meet up with zookeeper Dalli, so she can let me into the locker room. She is stopped by a woman, grandchild in tow, who says “oh, there used to be bears and other big animals here. I remember when it was a really INCREDIBLE zoo… about 45 years ago.” When she leaves, Dalli and I share an eyeroll. “Oh, back when they used to keep elephants in trash-compactor sized cages, you mean?” we snort. Sadly, this is not even close to the most ignorant comment I will hear from visitors as my internship progresses...

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Farewell to Paws

Unexpectedly, for good or ill, my internship at the zoo is ending early. Ill, because I wish I had learned more and made more positive connections (plus, I'm nervous about the grading). Good, because I will have much more time off for the end of the summer, which I sorely need.

This also means I will finally have time to convert my zoo journal for this blog, so stay tuned. Rants, raves, stories of getting bitten, bored and adorably squeaked at to follow...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

I've been working hard all year for little or no pay. I'm finding myself exhausted and depressed pretty often, even though I do love working with the animals. I just find myself pooped and stressed a lot.

So, imagine my delight when Mrs. Nator said we should take a vacation. As is our usual way, she gave me a budget, and I researched places we could go. Then she upped the budget, and I gave a rundown of more places we could afford. We narrowed down the list, and I started to get excited. Maybe we could be on a beach for a week - even one with sea turtles!

But then she went away for a week. I told her to do it. She'd been unable to focus at work with all the crazy stuff going on there, shortly after her grandmother's passing. I told her she needed a week off not thinking about work, just relaxing and bonding with her mother down in Atlanta. And so, after much prodding, she went. She slept. She swam in the pool. She read by the pond. She went shopping and saw a movie with her mother. It was just what she needed.

And then she came back and decided that we couldn't afford a vacation, with our finances and employment (and the economy) all in flux, nowadays. Maybe we should just both take a week down at her mom's to relax, she suggested.

Her mom's is nice. But it is not really a vacation. Her mom and I love each other, but it is still her house. We still would be guests of hers and her husband's, subject to whatever their schedule and car availability allow. And forget feeling comfortable walking around scantily dressed, much less having any real couple time, with both Mrs. N's mom and the rather conservative stepfather in the house. Yes, it may be considerably more relaxing than staying in Brooklyn. A vacation? Not so much.

So, I am disappointed. So disappointed, I feel a little sick. I knew realistically that we shouldn't spend the money, and was surprised when Mrs. N even suggested it. I know that most people I know aren't even fortunate to be going on a vacation this year, much less those who are students. Still, I spent several weeks researching and planning, and I got my hopes up. Now I am sad, and I'm not sure how to readjust my expectations, however realistic and sane it may be to do so.

Moreover, I don't want to get Mrs. N all stressed out again by pouting and whinging about something I know it would be unwise to spend our money on, anyway, especially since she is the breadwinner of the family, now. But I kind of can't help it. I don't even know how to face my next semester, where my schedule and classes are going to be considerably harder than this year, without getting some quality relaxation time.

Perhaps vacation is just a state of mind, and I should be able to have one right in my living room. But I'm not feeling it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Time Wasters, Inc.

Mrs. Nator is in the Dirty South for a week, and what do I do? Do I clean the house or get started on my Fall semester reading? No. After I finish my term paper, I go out to lunch with a friend, take myself to a movie (Wall-E, did it make anyone else cry?) and out to dinner. Oh, and buy and play around with the Spore Creature Creator. All in one day.

This is my first Spore video. It's a fairly simple dragon-like creature dancing. I know, it's no dancing penis monster, which seems to be the thing to do, of course. People are so creative, don't you think?

Anyway, I can't get the shadings quite right, because my cheapo computer has a chipset instead of a video card. I hope I'll be able to play the full game when it comes out.

Do you think Mrs. Nator will be happy when she comes back to find the dishes and recycling piled up and the cat litter unchanged, but a full planet's worth of creatures on our computer?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bruce Lee + Karsh Kale + Drunken Brooklynites

= A Good Time. Went to the Prospect Park Bandshell for this Celebrate Brooklyn event last Saturday. Had a picnic with some friends and watched this chop socky classic with a new, live soundtrack performed by Kale, a tabla player-cum-electronica musician. The Indian sounds of sitar seemed a little odd in some places, but overall a pretty good job at delivering new mood music for Bruce Lee's final film. The audience, who were indeed largely drunken (or stoned, from the smell of it), seemed to enjoy it, as you may gather from my artistically fuzzy cell phone footage.

More episodes of A Zoo Intern's Journal coming up, friends, and a bunch more photos...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Encounters at the End of the World

Two dates in one week? It's almost unheard of for Mrs. Nator & I nowdays, but we went out to dinner and a movie last night. The occasion was the last night that Werner Herzog's film Encounters at the End of the World was being shown at the Film Forum. I don't know if it's being picked up at another local theatre, but after seeing it, by Jeebus, I hope so.

I don't want to describe the film too much, because I don't want to spoil any of the surprises for you if it comes to your town and you see it. But if it does come to your town, do go see it. It managed to make me shake with laughter and cry with heartbreak at the same time. I left the theatre with my mind blown, which is a rare and wonderful experience. I find myself Googling phenomena I saw in the movie just to confirm what I saw and find out more. And, tying it all together, I hear the droning, Teutonic, sometimes sly narration of Herzog, making observations both profound and not unfitting for an episode of Sprockets.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Date at Barcade

More cell phone camera masterpieces!
Click to read captions or see bigger.

Saturday is my Friday, which means I've finished work and internship and am usually pooped. Mrs. Nator and I sometimes talk about going out when I'm done work, but it rarely happens because if we don't have a plan I don't have the energy to schlep home, discuss, shower, and go out again.

This past Saturday, however, Mrs. Nator fulfilled one of my wishes by calling me at work to say she was picking me up to take me out, and had the date all planned. It was a good night to do it, as we were celebrating both the illustrious birth of the Trucker (yay, oneofhismoms!) and my finally standing up to an aggravating co-worker. All I had to do was hop in the office shower and toss my scrubs in my bag.

Normally we avoid Williamsburg, Brooklyn, because we are not hipsters. However, there was a restaurant Mrs. N. wanted to try (Fiore, which was a bit disappointing to me, food-wise, but had great atmosphere and service,) and then there was Barcade.

Barcade is a large bar that specializes in two things: microbrewery beers and classic cabinet video games. Again, not being hipsters, we didn't hear about this place until four years after it opened. Once we did, however, we had to go.

It was the perfect date for us. Two drinks apiece and about ten bucks in quarters, and we whiled away several hours in an increasingly drunken festival of giggles and Game Overs. Many of the classic games we remembered were there, from Asteroids to Zaxxon. They had Ms. Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Centipede, and Tetris – hell yeah! Most of our time was spent playing Frogger, Moon Patrol, Q*Bert and Punch Out (Super Mario Bros. was sadly broken, and no-one seemed to be up to taking on Donkey Kong, possibly fearing the wrath of Billy Mitchell).

Of course, everyone's got their childhood favourites, so some might wonder why Berzerker but not Battlezone, Galaxian but not Space Invaders, Out Run but not Pole Position, Gauntlet but not Joust? Personally I'd also like to have tried early classics like Sea Wolf and Stunt Cycle, again, as well as the first laser disc game, Dragon's Lair. But in their place were games no doubt some people were glad to see that I'd never hear of before (Sinistar? Crystal Castles?).

There were no pinball games, alas, but there were pool and a varied jukebox. Being the old hags we are, when someone took it over with metalcore and the place got crowded, we headed out.

All in all, it was more fun than I've had in a while. Often after a couple drinks following a long day, I become paranoid and melancholy. Somehow, however, being around games I had played as a kid circumvented that by bringing back the excitement I felt then - and this time with no spending limits or heshers waiting outside to jump me! The combination was... oddly romantic.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

R.I.P. Nannie

Mrs. Nator's wonderful grandmother passed away early Saturday morning. We got the call that she was going fast Friday morning, and I was able to leave the zoo early so we could catch a flight down that night. She was unresponsive by the time we got there, but fortunately in hospice care in my mother-in-law's home, a much friedlier and more comfortable place to pass on than some facility. When we told her we were there, her eyes didn't open, but her eyebrows raised and she wriggled her toes. We think she understood, because she crossed over just a few hours later.

She was a wonderful woman, a pillar of the community, as they used to say. She was an old-fashioned Christian, meaning she believed God's directive was to love everyone unconditionally and not judge them, rather than the modern day bastardization. All though she was in her late 80s when I met her, she accepted me, her beloved granchild's godless lesbian partner, warmly and graciously into the family. Often when I visited, she and I were the only ones awake, and I would ask her about her past and opinions. She'd share her stories with a twinkle and a giggle, and always tell me I was sweet. She and her husband, Poppie, raised Mrs. Nator right when there was trouble in Mrs. Nator's mother's life, and later they treated me and Mrs, Nator's fiancée like grand their own grandchildren. She not only went out of her way to introduce me as her "other granddaughter," but she showed me love like I had never even had from my own grandparents.

Despite life-long health problems, Nannie outlived Poppie by around five years. She missed him terribly. I don't know if it was wishful thinking, but around the time she died, I kept feeling his presence. It was as though I could feel him nearby, with his teasing smile on, only younger than when I had known him.

We are all glad she is out of pain, and hope she is reunited with him. It's the end of an era. The community has lost a woman of class and tireless generosity who helped found and grow it. This family has lost a woman who brought us all together with love and helped us be better people.

Thank you, Nannie. I hope we all do honour to your memory.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Excerpts from a Zoo Intern's Journal, Pt. I

Names and details fudged to protect the innocent and influential.

Day one. Although we corresponded beforehand about my sizes, the supervisor didn’t have time to look for a uniform for me, so we spend the first 15-20 minutes searching. What are the odds they have other fat zookeepers? Aren't they usually outdoorsy, willowy people with ponytails? Surprise! None in my size. Fortunately, I brought scrubs.

A call comes over the radio that one of the ferrets has crashed and needs to be taken to the clinic stat. A senior zookeeper rushes out with the limp critter in a carrying case and we all run over to the clinic. (I learn here that my boots are going to be too stiff.) Heloise has collapsed before, but not this badly. She was flat out in the middle of her cage, which is a sorry sight when you know that ferrets are usually hidden in their bedding or zipping around like they are on fast forward.

W., the vet tech, administers dextrose and fluids both SQ and PO for hypoglycemic shock. Heloise slowly revives, but is still blinking and stumbling a bit when Karen OKs her to go back to her cage. Pitiful! One of the veterinarians is coming in today, so they will run bloods and consult on her problem.


Later, W. walks me through the clinic. She shows me how to run the radiograph processing machine, which is pretty straightforward. The smell of the chemicals brings me back to my darkroom and retouching years in high school and college. Next thing you know I'll be putting on a black beret. W. says their budget isn’t huge, and they just got the machine about a year ago. All rads were hand-developed before that. It’s quite a difference from the digital set-up at my job. Fancy emergency hospital group, meet small, non-profit zoo.

All animals are kept in quarantine 30 days, more if they end up housed with later arrivals. In quarantine right now are a green-winged king parrot, 2 monkey frogs and, in the back room, 2 mata mata turtles and a nervous fruit dove. There’s also a tragopan –a type of pheasant- elsewhere in the clinic that was scalped by another bird. I can’t get into her area, nor am I allowed in with the macaques, for liability reasons. I’m a little sorry about the macaques, but not at all about being banned from being near the Hamadryas baboons. Those guys are one of the few animals I am actively frightened by. They're all aggression, muscle and teeth.


Karen shows me basic husbandry – hosing down enclosures, feeding, etc. I have to be extra careful to watch the drains if I have the covers up, so animals don’t go down them. The parrot, “Holly” according to W., is an escape artist, too. I am do a head count on everyone – especially the tiny, jumpy mantella frogs – and to note feedings on and the animals' health on cards. The mantellas are poison dart frogs I've never seen before, ebony black with outlines in yellow, green and orange. "It's okay, I've been to your cloud forest and respect you," I silently tell them. Hop, hop, suspiciously hop, the mantellas say.

The mata matas get around 10-12 minnows every couple days and have an optimal water temperature of 80-85 °F - similar to my red-eared slider turtles. The mata matas are so COOL! They look like lumps of leaves with triangular heads. The shells are covered in pointed peaks, and their skin is covered in irregular nodules and flaps, to make them look all the more like plant litter at the bottom of a creek. Their tiny snouts just poke up out of the water. Just when you think they're ugly, you look closely enough at their alien faces, and their mouths turn up like a happy-face smile...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Gooooo, Team! Or Not.

Having finally made it into the 2000nds, I now have a camera in my cell phone. Which makes it possible to share exciting moments like this with you.

On the way to the dentist, I stumbled upon a typical summer brouhaha at Rockefeller Center. I paused to see what was going on, and it turned out they were announcing the United States Olympic men’s basketball team. I came in just at the end of the introduction of the members, and the announcer was trying to get the crowd fired up.

Announcer: "Now let me hear you chant for them: U.S.A! U.S.A.!"

Crowd: "Meh."

I just love it when dunderheaded nationalism fizzles.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Not Fooled

Listen, airline customer service people. I expect my call to be routed to India. Even if the person on the end of the line speaks flawless English, I am not convinced he or she is in the United States. I only hope to get decent service. However, when the guy who answers has an accent that is like unto Apu in The Simpsons (only more unintelligible), I will not, for one minute, believe that his name is "Steve Johnson."

Monday, March 03, 2008

Okay, Feeling Better Now

Took a nap, a walk outside, saw the first crocuses poking up and had a good AC session. And I'm actually a little excited about going to classes tomorrow!

Until the next mood swing...

Why do I?

...stay up all night so I feel awful the next morning? ...take every mistake I make to heart and beat myself up for it? Judge simple, impersonal circumstances as mistakes I made or faults that I have? Worry so much about people disliking me, betraying me and hurting me? Shut out the fact that I am loved?

Why do we make life hard on ourselves? I've reviewed my issues and the childhood experiences I've had countless times. I've gotten better at taking care of myself, but it still does not come easily, naturally. Is it the personality I was born with, or how I was raised? Do you do the same things, too?

I know that most people do. Remembering that makes me feel less faulty and alone. Too bad my memory is so bad... especially when I don't get enough sleep!

Friday, February 29, 2008

For God's Sake, People - Keep An Eye On Your Pets!

I'll be the first to tell you I'm not always the best pet parent. I get annoyed by the cats' neurotic behaviour, Mrs. Nator and I put off cleaning the litter or aquariums for too long, and I get frustrated at not being able to get our female turtle to nest. But some of the terrible conditions I have seen in my first couple weeks at the vet hospital could have been prevented by some very basic attention.

The main thing I want to tell people is, look over your pets! This means running your eyes and hands over them from stem to stern, if not every day, then at least a couple times a week. Get to know how they look and act normally, and if that changes, make sure they aren't sick! We had the sweetest kitty ever in the other day. She was 15 years old and had never been fixed. Somehow, her people claimed not to have noticed the chain of mammary tumours, some a good deal larger than golf balls and oozing, running down her tummy. How did they not notice this?! What's more, if she'd been fixed, this probably would not have happened! This poor elderly feline ended up having major surgery - excavating growths from the entire front of her torso, plus the removal of two rotten teeth. Afterwards, she was still as sweet as ever - purring and stumbling over to be scratched. But she would have been far less traumatized and in pain had this been caught earlier.

Another thing I need to advocate is crates for puppies. Many people think they are unnecessary and maybe even cruel. They think of them as dog prisons that their pets see as punishment. But crates are only punishment if you make them so. In truth, they can be safe spaces for your pet where he or she can feel cozy, take breaks and stay out of trouble. All you have to do is make them an inviting place to stay and train the dog to think of the crate as his or her special space. In the case of puppies, if you are not able to watch or have them watched 24 hours a day, this is extremely important. Just the other day we had two adorable puppies in. One had been in a couple weeks before for eating an entire pack of cigarettes! After some emergency care and nursing, he was released in a few days, only to come back in a few days later after eating a package of allergy medicine! Apperently, the first episode was not enough for the owners to puppy-proof their house. I wonder if anyone told them about crates.

The second puppy is an even sadder story. The owners reported that they came home to find he had somehow knocked the television over on his head and lain unconscious and convulsing for some time. What a horrifying homecoming! The dog had irreparable brain damage, and had to be euthanized. My heart aches for both the puppy and its people, knowing that if he had been crated while alone in the house, this would not have happened.

I'm not telling these horror stories to make anyone feel bad. As I noted, I, like everyone else, am ignorant of some things and make mistakes with my pets. I just want people to know that there are a few simple things they can do to help insure their animals' health. And if we love them like they love us, isn't that the least we can do?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Howdy, Natorettes! I've been spending my day recovering from what I hope will be my last 10-hr shift at the veterinary hospital for a while (not to mention my last viewing of a dangling eyeball for a while, which was a first for me, thank you). It's hard to go from laying around on one's ample ass most of the time to constantly moving for that amount of time, especially at a certain age and weight. The 8-hour shifts are alright, though. Or least they are now, while I'm not yet back in class. After that, whether I have to clone myself to get by remains to be seen.

Anyway, not having much time (or anything of interest to say), I'm finally getting to the 123 Book Meme Corn Dog tagged me for a little while ago. Here are the rules:

1. Grab the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
2. Open it to page 123.
3. Find the first 5 sentences and write them down.
4. Then invite 5 friends to do the same.

And here goes:

"Everything comes and goes
Pleasure moves on too early
And trouble leaves too slow
Just when you're thinking
You've finally got it made..."

Kind of leaves ya hangin', doesn't it? And do those count as sentences? Anyway, that's from Joni Mitchell: The Complete Poems and Lyrics, which I suppose isn't so complete anymore, since it came out in 1997.

Actually, my quote in my senior year high school yearbook was from Joni Mitchell. It was from the song "Black Crow" on the album Hejira, and went thusly:

"In search of love and music
My whole life has been
And diving, diving, diving, diving
Diving down to pick up on every shiny thing
I'm like that black crow flying
In a blue sky"

No, I wasn't no damn hippie. Just pretentious and full of passion hormones.

Now I tag First Nations, oneofhismoms, Qenny, Chaucer's Bitch (whenever she gets back from Sith Efrica)and Warrior Two. I imagine they will have disparate and interesting reading at hand. Now, do the meme and send it on to five friends or little Jimmy will die!

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Snowy Day In Brooklyn Town

Had me low, had me down...

But I'm not really low so much as tired, and the weather is a good excuse to hole in for a couple hours and contemplate my first day at the new job.

I was lucky that my first day turned out to be oddly quiet, as there was a lot to take in. The vet assistant I was shadowing was a big ol' dyke, also entering the vet tech program at LaGuardia. She showed me everything from where the cleaning supplies were located to how to read charts, from how to prepare ER stations to how to handle bodies. When I took a recently deceased cat in my arms, stiff with rigor mortis and looking disturbingly like my beloved Maya, to make a final pawprint in Sculpey as a keepsake for her person, we got misty together. When a small dog suddenly crashed and had to be given CPR, foaming blood pouring out of her mouth onto the floor, she suggested I watch to see what the ER team did. When one of the tiny puppies mistook my nose for a nipple (happens all the time) and tried to suckle, we laughed.

And laughter goes on a lot, there. Most of the team communicates with the easy, mildy insulting humour that people who like each other and have gone through important work do. Several times during the day, while I was learning how to run bloods, put together surgical packs, or just discussing the finer points of reptiles with the classmate who recommended me to the job and is now my co-worker, people told me unbidden that they love the place and stay there because it feels like a family. "You can always ask questions, and people are happy to teach you," I was told. And it was true. Several times, I didn't even have to ask. Someone who had noticed me watching or answered a few questions earlier would fill me in further. My head was swimming with new information, but it felt good.

Tomorrow is my second day. I bought some new scrubs, and I'm nervous and excited. I'll be working with a different team, and have new things to learn, accomplish, or maybe mess up. I'm hoping I do a good job. I've discovered that I like doing this kind of work, so far, and I want to do it well.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


And I'm starting tomorrow!

Granted, it is a low-paying job.

A very low-paying job.

But! It is a veterinary assistant job at a sparkly, new, state-of-the-art facility with lots of knowledgeable staff, specialist vets, a top surgeon, and lots of fascinating gew-gaws like an MRI machine, digital x-ray system, sonography machine &c.

What does this mean, Natorettes? Well, one hopes it means I will be learning a lot at this job, which is just what I want to do.

So, I'm a little nervous (and wondering when my other pairs of scrub pants are going to arrive in the mail), but excited for tomorrow. All in all, this calls for a round of the Happy Happy Joy Joy Song! Commence... singing!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Beat That, Whitman's

Well, my Valentine's Day involved a room full of dead cats, violent illness in a subway station bathroom, commemorative glow sticks, men dancing awkwardly while dressed as nuns, silly string, and Rufus Wainwright singing in drag as Judy Garland. Oh, and Mrs. Nator was there, too.

How was yours?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Hot Mess

Man, did you guys see Amy Winehouse on the Grammies? I don't know when I've had such mixed feelings over a performance. Is she talented? Very. Did she looked like she was having fun at times? Yes. But other times she looked terrified, troubled, zoned, overwhelmed, and a whole lot of other things you might expect from someone taking a break from serious drug rehab to do a live international performance. Good grief.

Here's the clip, if you want to see it.

She looked gobsmacked when she won the award. I hope it's good for her. Who knows if getting out and performing helps keep her alive or just exacerbates her problems? Being an artist is so much about high emotion and energy. It's no wonder so many artists end up strung out.

The sad thing is, talented as she is, she will always be tied to the song "Rehab" because of just how damn catchy it is and the irony of her situation. One only hopes that she will live long enough to release a song called "I Got Tired of Being Fucked Up and Killing Myself So I Learned How to Channel My Talent Sober."

That might just need a catchier chorus, though.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Stay Tuned...

I know I have been mainly absent or boring around here, but finals are coming and I'm negotiating a job offer I got. I am really interested in working at this place, but need to hammer out some financial details. I won't share too much until I'm a little more sure, but please wish me luck. I hope to be more interesting again once I've gotten this worked out!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Eli Manning Becomes A Man

So here's my theory.

So many commentators have been talking about Eli "growing up," "coming into his own," or "becoming a man" in the last few weeks. They're referring to his frustrating string of mistakes and poor judgment over the last couple seasons, and his sudden turn to playing well and having almost no interceptions from the end part of this past season and right on through the Super Bowl. Fans and talking heads alike marveled at his sudden confidence and competency. He not only started making plays, but smiling and laughing, a welcome change from his usual gape-mouthed mope.

Now, a while back, I had a theory that Tiki Barber's infamous comments on how Eli trying to speak in front of the other players was "almost comical" actually helped Eli, in that it spurred him to step up. But now, I have a new idea. That idea is: sometime in the last few months, Eli Manning lost his virginity.

Think about it: a quiet-spoken guy, southern baptist and fond of his mother, sadly unattractive despite his tall build and athletic skills, Eli has been dating his college girlfriend (now fiancée) for five years, now. I believe that at some point in the mid-to-late 2007, that girlfriend - or someone, anyway - finally put out. I mean, did you see how drastically his demeanor changed? How his panicked, flapping runs and fumbles turned into dodges and completed passes? Something must have given him the confidence and relaxation he'd been lacking.

The only other explanation I can think of is that he sent away for this:

Friday, January 25, 2008

The News from Here

1. I officially got into the clinical vet tech program!!! OK, it was unlikely that I wouldn't, but that didn't keep my hands from shaking when I opened the letter. Next stop: Modell's, where I can finally cash in an old gift certificate for my first set of scrubs! (And possibly a Giants cap, for obvious reasons.)

2. Skype kicks Yahoo Messenger's ass, yo. I mean, I've been trying to get this VOIP thing going for months so I could record my AC consultations for my clients, and I could not stop my calls from getting dropped. First the headset was for crap, then I was afraid it was my cable connection. Now I know I just should have been paying the extra money for Skype. It's worth it to actually be able to hear both ends of a conversation and not have malfunctions every few minutes. Now, if I can just get my recorder to register both speakers at a reasonable volume...

3. I still don't have a job. But! I had two AC clients today, a follow-up on a web job, and a referral from a classmate to an opening at the vet hospital where she works. Progress?

4. I am disturbed to inform you that now I cannot look at my cats without imagining their skeletons. Unfortunately, my first cat dissection will finally happen on Tuesday. I think I'll get through it okay; I just hate the thought of imagining slabs of dessicated meat every time I hug my critters.

5. Tomorrow night we see Kathy Griffin! Woo!

Further bulletins as events warrant, y'all.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

Did You Ever Have One of Those Moments

... where an entire song you wrote when you were maybe seventeen years old, but had completely forgotten, comes back to you in its entirety, and you think "wow, that was actually a really good song," but you realize that, although you could put so many deeper nuances of emotion into it now that you are older, you probably can't sing all that well, anymore, and maybe weren't as good at the time as you thought, either?

No? Well, then.

P.S.: I had a really intriguing job interview yesterday. As in, I'm beginning to think it might be possible to have an interesting job I care about while going to school to study something else I care about. Hmmm.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What I Learned In Lab Class

Behold the lamprey: not quite an eel, not quite a fish, not even quite a vertebrate. In other words, one weird-ass mothafukkin animal, my people. Damn.

What you see at its front is essentially an extended upper lip with nary a lower lip in sight. Lampreys are jawless. They sort of have heads, but you'd be hard pressed to find exactly where they end and the body begins (not to mention their brains are barely more than a cluster of cells). Their front ends are basically sensory organs with that big mouth at the end, which functions like a suction cup with teeth in it. They glom onto a hard-spined fish, stick to them and rasp away with those teeth, ingesting the fish's blood and tissues. Their tongues even have teeth on them!

Their skeletons are cartilaginous, like sharks, and they have both a nerve cord, which is similar to a spinal column, minus the vertebrae, and a notochord, an early version of the vertebral column which is much less rigid, and is now found in mainly lower forms and embryos (yes, you had one, too, early in your development). A bizarre throwback to ancient times, fossilized records show that they may not have changed in over 360 million years. Judging from the condition of our dessicated dissection specimen in lab class, it was probably among the first.

My first dissection went fairly smoothly, considering the condition of the specimen and the fact that the scalpels in those dissection kits are about as sharp as prison-issue sporks. The lamprey was actually pretty small, so it's a stretch for eyeballs over thirty years old to see all the mushy parts, especially since doing so meant getting close to that smell. However, I did it, and I made a new friend in one of my new lab partners. It turns out she is a geeky gay white girl, too. In fact, she's so gay, geeky and white, she makes me look like Snoop Dogg. Let me put it this way: we ended our conversation by talking about the origin of slash in Star Trek fiction. For further research in lab: how did the idea of Kirk, Spock and McCoy all getting it on at once not kill slash in its infancy, if not actually kill homosexuality altogether? Discuss.

After a long-ass lecture, delivered in an outrageous French accent by our professor (thank goodness I did the reading), I filled in an application at a local vet's office, and then went home to find my lab coat had arrived in the mail. Question: if you found out your animal health care professional had run around the house in his or her lab coat and underwear singing "(s)he's the one they call Doctor NOOOO PAAAANTS!", would you entrust him or her with your beloved pet? Does it help to know it was to the tune of an old Mötley Crüe song?

All in all, a very productive day. I think I'm going to enjoy this class. It makes me feel AAAAWL RIIIIGHT!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

May Your Life Be Interesting

What do staring up at a giant whale shark, joining in with a sing-along in a nursing home, getting frisked in an airport after losing your i.d., getting scheduled for a root canal after experiencing blinding pain, purchasing a dissection kit, being called by a NY Times reporter for an interview and having sudden onset diarrhea on a mass transit train all have in common?

These are just a few of the things that have happened to me in the last few days.

I'm going to take a nap now.

P.S.: My cat has just decided for the first time in her life that she must watch me from atop the monitor. What is God trying to tell me?

P.P.S.: Please don't say it's "vote Romney."

P.P.P.S.: Go read Water for Elephants now. It will make you forget all of this kind of shit. Really.