“By blood a king, in heart a clown.” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
I AM: SEEING the most terrifying clown head in a local thrift shop
“By persisting in your path, though you forfeit the little, you gain the great.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I AM: SEEING an unexpected path, found on an unexpected trip
“Electricity is really just organized lightening.” – George Carlin
Living alone makes you acutely aware of the world around you and the things in it that can kill you. (Or maybe that’s just me.) Now that I have my own place, I often envision the multitude of ways my house could bump me off. (Again, could just be me.) I think up ways in which my own stupidity works against the house and I suffer as a result, like getting my arm stuck behind the couch, falling down the stairs, or slipping in the bathtub. Not really the house’s fault; it’s just the tool in which I bring about my own demise.
Knowing that, never did I dream that my end would come from the house itself and in the form of fire.
Having said that, you’re probably worried that I died in a house fire and am now blogging posthumously. Be not worried, my kind readers, for I am alive. And the fire didn’t actually happen. But I’ll get to that part in a moment. For now, be ye on pins and needles for this a terrifying tale of not-dying in a not-fire.
Somewhat anticlimactic, that.
Electricity is one of those things that I refuse to touch. I like having light, heat, and television so I applaud Edison and thank all those people who tend wires and install switches and make my life brighter and easier. But that’s as far as my interaction goes. I don’t want to touch wires, see wires, or even think about them much. To me, any wire could be a live wire, regardless of whether it’s appropriately covered and completely intact.
I see a wire, I am wary of it.
So imagine my dismay when one evening I came home to an odd smell. It was the smell of technology and something chemical, and I knew in my gut that it wasn’t good. I sniffed my way to the source of the smell: the creepy metal breaker box in my basement.
Crap. The breaker is the culmination of ALL THE WIRES in the house. It is the place where electrical lightening would strike me dead, if it were to happen.
I stared at the box. I sniffed the box. I listened to the box. I even went so far as to touch the box. I learned that the box smelled. It was buzzing loudly. And it was HOT.
Smelly, loud, and hot meant bad things. I didn’t need my father or my neighbor – both of whom I called upon for help – to tell me that. (Though that’s exactly what they both told me.) When touching the switches elicited flickering lights and louder buzzing, I not-so-calmly flipped off all of the breakers and then blinked in the sudden silence.
I spent that night in utter blackness and quiet, holding onto The Cat in an effort to keep us both warm. (No power meant no heat, and P.S. this was during the Polar Vortex of Cold-Ass Hell.) The next morning my emergency electricians came out and looked at the box, forever hereafter referred to as “The Box.”
They both let out low whistles. One even said, “Oh goodness.”
This is what they found:
They told me that I had essentially saved my life by flipping off the breaker, because what I was smelling, hearing, and feeling was THE APPROACH OF DEATH by way of an electrical fire. Aka: junked up wiring was searing through the breakers like a hot knife through butter. Things were a-burnin’.
Those wonderful electricians replaced my breaker and all of the bits within in, so now I have a non-smelling, non-noise-making, non-hot, and non-going-to-kill-me breaker in my cold, cold basement. God bless you, electricity men.
Sometimes, despite my fear of wires, I go to the new box and pet it lovingly, just because I know it won’t try and kill me in my sleep. And for me? That’s kind of important. I have those stairs and slippery tub to watch out for.
“My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry ’til a more convenient season.” – Mary Todd Lincoln
Here’s the thing: I’ve learned that there are many tasks that, if left long enough, resolve themselves or become obsolete, thus rendering them irrelevant. This sometimes happens at work with projects that are presented with zeal but then peter out with time and consideration. Projects like, “Let’s build a scratch-and-sniff website!”* I know these projects, given a moment’s thought about their relevancy and plausibility, will be put aside for other more feasible things.
As you can imagine, this truth has only fed my tendency towards procrastination.
Every so often, though, one of the things that I have been putting off and putting off and putting off some more rears its ugly head and bites me in the ass. Like balancing my checkbook, filing my taxes, and finishing college.
Ah, college. How I hate you so. You have been dogging my steps for more than a third of my life, taunting me with your stupid degree and the promise of a better future, all the while taking my time and money. You, dear sir, are not my friend.
Early in my career, my lack of a degree caused me an inordinate amount of distress. I felt inferior to the people around me, and avoided networking events where people would ask – as they always seem to do in this area – where I had gone to school and what I had majored in. Sure, I had been to a “real” college – a very large out-of-state university – and had even made Dean’s List while there. But then I came home and started community college, having determined that the $30K I had just spent for a year of sleepless nights, a degrading work-study job, and a year’s worth of Milwaukee’s Best wasn’t worth it.
And thus began my plodding college career.
I have always been smart – I don’t say that to brag, but to explain my poor performance in school – and I found my studies to be tedious instead of interesting. I was studying something that I was innately good at, but didn’t love. My studies centered around work I was already doing in life, so it would be assumed that there would be crossover. One would even say good crossover, but when I had to sit in a classroom from 7pm to 10pm learning how to write a press release when I had spent the previous hours of 8am to 6pm already writing numerous press releases – ones that would actually be released to the press – that crossover became the kerosene to my simmering annoyance.
After three semesters of community college, I was aflame with aggravation.
I trudged along in this way for years – YEARS – until I one day realized that my undergraduate degree wasn’t going to advance my career. I had already advanced and those final 6 credits wouldn’t teach me something I didn’t know or increase my salary. So I unofficially quit. As in just stopped going to school and I just stopped thinking about it.
And yes, I said 6 credits. As in two classes until graduation. When I do something idiotic, I like to do it big.
The total dumbness of that decision has been rolling around my noggin for the past few months, for reasons I won’t go into. Tired of thinking about it, I decided to just go and take those last two classes. Be done with it. Have it done with. Be all around done. Just. DONE.
Only I couldn’t.
Because it had been more than two years since I had last attended, so I have to REAPPLY.
Which means that I will be at the mercy of the NEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS.
Which means that my final 6 credits may stretch to eternity and I could feasibly be in school for another decade.
Procrastination, you evil genius, you tarried until a most inconvenient season and now I will have to hurt you.
*I have never been asked to build a scratch-and-sniff website. It’s an impossible technology, but wouldn’t it be AWESOME?! I would spend whole days with my nose pressed to the monitor, smelling new cars, Twinkies, and all of the little gems on Candy Crush.
I AM: LEARNING that when you have only 6 credits left in your degree, YOU SHOULD JUST FREAKIN’ TAKE THEM.
“I love to be individual, to step beyond gender.” – Annie Lennox
I remember the day I learned that gender was a choice. I was totally confused in the sort of way one gets when faced with something they had never considered and just accepted. Like how petroleum is made from dinosaur bones.
This idea of sex and gender and the choice to be masculine or feminine has been at the forefront of my mind since my wee bird-babies hit puberty and started trying to mount each other.
I knew nothing about birds when I got my first conure and now, four years later, I have learned this: my feathered monkeys have the combined libido of a 16-year old boy sneaking his father’s Playboy for the first time. Two chicken nuggets with enough hormones to power a small city.
Oliver once demonstrated his male-ness by making love to my knuckle, an act that was equally horrifying and fascinating. When I got Rose, she was so different from Ollie that I assumed her to be female. (NOTE: Conures are sexually monomorphic, making it impossible to tell male from female without a blood test.) Oliver was chill (ish) and laidback (ish), and Rose was high strung and insane. Oliver showed little interest in chewing on his toys, whereas Rose would reduce wood to splinters within minutes. Ollie would tolerate my affectionate head rubs. Rose would sooner eat my face off then let me touch her.
Clearly one was male and the other female. I knew this – KNEW IT – because Rose was the bird version of me, all mental and chewy and not prone to letting people touch her. And my knuckle could attest to Ollie being a boy.
I accepted that and life went on its merry way, with my occasionally cracking jokes about the birds making more birds and what I would do when faced with a house full of conures. Ha ha! So funny! Everyone I know will get birds as gifts!
Birds are hard, people. And breeding birds? Not for me. So when my two birds began climbing atop each other and grunting, I started worrying. Like epic worrying. And that worry led me to do some Internet research, which then sent me into a fit of palsy.
I did everything I could to discourage their breeding behavior. I made sure they were on a strict light/dark schedule. I limited their soft fruits. I removed anything in their cage that could be used as nesting material. And despite my efforts, they continued their amorous carousing.
Terrified that I would come home one night to a cage full of eggs, I bit the bullet and got the birds sexed.
“Why didn’t you do that immediately?” you’re likely asking. For two reasons. The first, because I’m a raging masochist that prefers to suffer in terror rather than do the easy, responsible thing. Second, I was afraid to discover that the birds I loved and thought of as a girl and boy were something else. To learn that Oliver was a girl, or that Rosie was a boy… I don’t know. It scared me.
But it didn’t scare me as much as the thought of baby birds.
A week after the test, I got the results. I am the proud mama of two BOY birds. Which means that there won’t be any baby birds, unless they’re planning to adopt, in which case WE WILL HAVE WORDS. It also means that we are now flying the Gay Bird Pride flag in front of the Canary house. It’s fabulously rainbowed and sports the mugs of my favorite gay birds.
If you’re wondering whether Rose will continue to be called “Rose,” the answer is YES. She – he – is Rose Tyler, named after my favorite Dr. Who companion. Just because she is a he doesn’t mean she – he – gets a new name. Besides, if Rosey Grier could play professional football and serve as a bodyguard to Robert Kennedy, my Rosie can be a boy with a girl’s name.
Besides, gender is a choice. She may be male, but she’s definitely feminine. And fierce.