Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Books

All of my books are in storage. This may sound silly, but I don't know the name of a lot of them. I just read them. I have most of the books I have ever read. My problem was this... without being able to see them, run my hands along them while they were lined up on a shelf, I could not see the stories. Since getting them out of storage is out of the question, I cannot write about them....

I have always loved books. Even when I was younger, in the fifth grade, for example, I got in trouble for hiding to read my books.  I have moved sixteen times since my mother threw me out at seventeen. I’m twenty eight. Every move I lost books, but not many. Only those that I knew I would never read again… or read at all.  

Over the last four years, or should I say three moves, my books have been in totes.  There never seems to be enough room to bring them out! I shuffle through every now and again and grab an old favorite. I have nearly two hundred books in my collection that I have never read. Many I have started to read then found another more interesting. They sit in their totes waiting to be picked up again and read to the end, dog eared pages saving my place.

The apartment I live in now is small. So small that I find it frustrating as hell. Between all my kids stuff, the birds and furniture, I don’t have room for bookshelves. Even if I did, it seems I never have the time to read.  You know that famous thing kids always say? “When I grow up…..” Well when I grow up, I want a house big enough to have a room just for my books. All the walls will be lined from ceiling to floor with shelves.  I love to walk along a row of books and run my fingers across the bindings, remembering some… seeing their stories in my head until I pass on to the next. Stopping at an old familiar, yet battered looking book and reading it for what must be the millionth time.

I miss that… losing myself to a book. My mind going crazy making pictures, guessing what will happen next, being convinced I’m right only to find I was wrong, making it that much more fascinating! I need to find time. Time to get lost.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week 8:authorial presence: problem/situation/question/explanation piece

I have written about my Doves. When I took them I knew I was not going to keep them. Even so it’s hard not to get attached.  They may only be birds but they are alive.  I took them for a purpose, to give them a better life and now I am conflicted.

I bet your first thought was that I want to keep them. Oh I do want to, but I can’t. The other day a new, but good, friend called me.

“Hey are you selling your Doves or giving them away?” It was Kathy. We met in one of our classes and are so much alike that it is seriously disturbing. Oh my god is she fucking funny. Anyway, I had been talking to her about the birds and how I needed to find good homes.

I tell her I am not selling them, that they are going to good homes and all that speech. Then she tells me that her friend’s mom wants to get two of them. So I ask her…

“Has she ever owned Doves before?” Kathy asks her, then after a hesitation the woman said yes. I told Kathy, “Look, when it comes to my animals, I got to be honest, I’m a bitch about homing them. “ 

“Well do you want to get rid of them or not?” Kathy said, sounding a little irritated. At this point I am actually starting to get pissed off because, to me, it seems like she is pushy.

“I don’t want to get rid of them. I want to find them homes with people who know what the fuck they are doing. Not just someone who decides ooooh I want a dove only to get bored after the first two weeks.”

“Oh she will totally take care of them. She even said she would take the breeding pair.” Oh Jesus was my only thought.

“If she has had Doves then she can tell me what they need to eat and what she would need to do with the breeding pair to keep them from breeding, because I’m not giving them to her to breed. They aren’t even the same species of dove and breeding them would be ignorant and selfish. Especially as hard as it is to home them, and you can’t keep the babies in the same cage so she would have to get another cage.” Kathy relays the information and then says the lady changed her mind, maybe she will only take one.

“Just let me talk to her.” Already having a feeling that this woman knows nothing about Doves, I wait for her to get on the phone. I ask her a bunch of questions, none of which she can answer. I asked her what she fed her doves, you know what she said?

“Well... tell me what you feed them to refresh my memory.” Now tell me this… if she had had Doves, why in the hell would I need to refresh her memory? Now what do I do?

I do need to home the birds, but would this be a good home? She doesn’t have a clue! But, is she one of those people who are willing to learn that will really take care of the bird? Oh, and she has a cat.
Not only that, but if I say no right now I could possibly ruin a new friendship. It’s not often I find someone I really like hanging out with, and Kathy is funny people. Very funny, and we get along so well. Then again, would she even be a friend at that point? Test of friendship I guess. 

I think the only way I will feel comfortable enough to place a bird with this woman would be to see where it will live. I don’t feel that’s an unreasonable request. She should be able to show me what he will be housed in, what she has for supplies before she gets him, what room he will be in. He will need to get out and she does have a cat. That is a huge concern for me. Kathy said the cat is nothing to worry about because he is so laid back. She didn’t seem to understand, no matter how I said it, that the most laid back cat in the world would go nuts over a bird fluttering around, looking all yummy. If I see everything, or lack thereof and decide not to give her the bird, it may cost a friendship, but it would save a life so it’s worth it.

Week 6, autobiographical 'slice' & imagination

Odd one Out

My sociability has always been somewhat of an issue, for everyone else. I prefer my somewhat reclusive lifestyle but it has given me trouble from the very start…

I was in the fifth grade. Mrs. Ritchie was my teacher. She always had tea and hated, I mean really hated, chewing gum. On my out the door to go home one day she pulled me aside.

“Take this to your mother.” She says as she hands me the envelope. “Make sure you give it to her and don’t open it.” That entire long bus ride home, about an hour, I sat stewing over the envelope… What had I done? I didn’t think I had done anything… I hand it to my mother as soon as I get home. My mother reads the note looks at me.

“This says you don’t play with your friends enough. It says you would rather hide behind the bookshelf and read than go play with your friends, and Mrs. Ritchie is concerned… Why don’t you play with your friends?”

“I just like to read.”

In High school I was more social, but not much. I had my own troubles and really didn’t want to have anyone else’s. I was never part of any group in particular. I got along with everyone, but none of my classmates were my friend if that makes sense. The people I had been going to school with my whole life and they were not my friends. I had friends from lower grades, but to be perfectly honest, when I went to someone’s house it was always their parents I would talk to.  I didn’t leave home much though, just school and the occasional visit. I lived in seclusion then, and I liked it. It was nothing but the woods, my animals, and me.

The ages of twenty thru almost twenty two are nothing but an alcoholic haze; however I do know I socialized then….  At the age of twenty two I experienced a loss that pushed me back into my seclusion. The death of my daughter basically drove me to work as many hours as I could. I had three jobs, and not much time to sleep, which had become even harder to do. I drank in between jobs so I could sleep. I rarely talked to anyone because I simply did not allow myself the time.

Now at twenty eight, I still prefer to be home by myself, but can’t. I have two boys who need to be socialized. When opportunity arises I grab at it though. Like right now, this very moment, is the first time since the birth of my 4 year old that I have had a night and now the next day, without kids. Being a single parent…. Wow. It feels weird…but nice.  I have missed my time. Now I understand what everyone meant when they kept telling me I needed to have some time for myself.  I have missed me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Week 15 is Week 7: Structure; Profile; Lecture

Deceitfully Charming

It’s getting harder and harder to see anything but anger in Eric Brown. His mental illness is taking more control of him by the day. His outbursts are fast, furious, and frequent. His new girlfriend, Melissa, keeps her eyes to the floor. The stony look to his face, the fast yet, almost lurching, steps. The cold, dead eyes. Those eyes…

About a month ago Melissa's aunt was in Wal-mart. She saw them, but he rushed Melissa off before she could get close. Aunty did see the black eye though.

 Eric storms into the house pissed off that the cops had been called again. As he enters the room the dog, a Sheppard mix, cowers and urinates on the floor in fear. 
"What the Fuck!" He screams at the dog as he punches him in the head over and over. When he is done the dog is on the floor with blood coming out of his mouth.
“There! You fucking mutt! Piss on the floor again.” Melissa’s six year old
daughter closes her eyes and covers her ears.
One year earlier… Brandy manages to reach the door but he only pushes her back down to the floor. She struggles to catch her breath, the pain ripping into her side again.
“Please stop! Please! I think I need to go to the hospital…” Brandy passes out as his boot drives into her already fractured ribs. Only a moment later her eyes snap open when she hears the drill. In too much pain to move she watches as he screws the door to his house shut, then does the same to the windows.
Eric kept her like that for two days. When he finally opened the door so she could go to the hospital she did. “I slipped on the stairs” she said to the ER Doctor. Brandy didn’t go to the police when she was done, she went straight home.
Three years earlier… Eric strolls into the restaurant; head held high, posture is perfect. He takes a seat at the bar and smiles at the cook. Sonya blushes, he is cute. He comes back every day, claiming it’s only to see her. He is always complimenting her, never anything but perfectly sweet.  Many people look at Eric and immediately find there is something wrong. Something is off a little bit there. Sonya doesn’t see it; all she sees is a handsome man who is genuinely interested in her for her. Honestly, she was usually too busy to notice that he had a few beers and a shot every time he came in… on his lunch break.
 Every second feels like hours. Her heart is practically jumping out of her chest. “Hurry!” Sonya silently screams to herself as she places the back of the rocking chair under the door handle so he can’t get in. Bang! Bang! Bang! The old rocking chair rattles as he pounds on the door.
 "Open this fucking door! I'm going to blow your fucking head off! You fucking cunt! Open the fucking door! I’ll come through this fucking door! Open the door!"
Sonya cradles her infant son, singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider, as she backs up to the wall and sinks to the floor. The banging and screaming stops… then shuffling,
“You’re fuckin done.” A moment after he said the words she heard him go down the stairs, pause at the bottom, then into the living room. She heard the springs in the old couch groan when he sat down. She couldn’t leave, he wouldn’t let her. Sonya sat the rest of the night never taking her eyes off the door, praying Eric wouldn’t come back upstairs.

He dislikes being alone, he needs someone with him. It’s not hard for him to find a girl. His looks do a lot.  Eric is what they call “Easy on the eyes”, but he is hard on the heart… and sanity. When he spots someone that interests him he turns on the charm. Sweetness pours out of him like a fountain. But it’s not real. What he really is doesn’t show right away. Eric does have the ability to maintain a certain level of decency while in public, but that ability is fading more and more and he is becoming desperate. Desperate to gain control of anyone he can. He uses the same skill with them all. The stories are the same, the abuse is the same, and his hatred is the same. He cuts you off from everyone you love and slowly tears you apart. In the beginning though, Eric is always Deceitfully Charming.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Week 11: expertise, authority

“Echo! Echo! Pretty boy! Com’on pretty boy!” I must have yelled that a million times, and whistle… I couldn't whistle any more if my life depended on it. He had gotten out at 9:00 the night before. I couldn’t believe it when I heard him the next afternoon. My aunt and I had been walking and calling for hours, kids in tow. Well they were in tow for most of it, and then Joanie came and got them so we could keep looking. It was getting late and we were getting desperate. 

“Jesus! Why can’t I see him! He sounds so close!” My aunt kept saying as we climbed over fallen trees and around rocks. Every time we’d get close he would sound like he was back where we started. After a while we didn’t hear him anymore. We called and called but he never answered us again. We went home for the night, planning an early start.

The next morning we headed back to the tress we had heard him..
“ECHOOOO!” As soon as he heard my voice we heard him, then we saw him. How glorious he must have felt, even with the terror of being out in the elements. To fly, like a bird should. Not confined to a house, but to have the whole sky. The boomerang shape and the white of his wings made him stick out. He must have been two hundred feet up. He circled and screamed but we never got him to come down. I don’t think he knew how from way up there. Maybe that’s crazy, but I really don’t think he could.

It’s my fault he got away. I didn’t clip his wings. I could never bring myself to do it, I would have taken away what it meant to be a bird. Now look, my mistake… his death. Two nights later the temperature was too cold for him to have survived.
“I want to get them for the boys. I know they keep asking for him.” Dad and I had been arguing about twenty minutes now. I refused to have another lone bird, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for another one anyway, after Echo. Eventually I gave in and my aunt and I went to Ellsworth to pick out two, hand-fed, eight week old Cockatiels.

I follow the small Asian woman into the room where the birds were kept. She reaches in the cage and pulls out a Cinnamon Cockatiel.

“This one definitely female.” She says as she hands it to me. The little bird immediately climbs up on top of my head after checking my hands for food.

“I like this one, I’ll take… her.” I had a sneaking feeling she was a male based on the markings, but it can be hard to tell when they are young. Then I ran into the sticky part. 

"I'm pretty sure this one is male." She said as she brought out two Traditional Grays and handed them to me.I knew which was male and which was female as soon as I looked at them. She was wrong, but i kept my mouth shut. Even without their adult plumage, their markings were very distinct. I wanted the male, to look like Echo for the kids, but that female… She would not leave me alone. Seriously now, how is it even possible to ignore an eight week old bird that practically flips out when you put her back in the cage, nearly falling out the door trying to get back on your arm? Pretty friggin cute if you ask me.

Much to the bird’s dismay, my view on wing clipping has changed. You bet your sweet ass I learned how to do that real quick. I do allow their feathers grow enough for them to fly some. Some meaning they are unable to gain altitude, but not fall right to the floor if they try to fly.  This doesn’t keep them safe entirely though. If they were to somehow get out the door or a window and a gust of wind caught them just right…. That’s all they would need. That is where butter knives stuck in door frames, above the reach of little gremlins, come in handy. My new goal, since Echo, has been to learn everything I possibly can about Cockatiels to ensure that the ones I have now will have the best life. It’s surprising how much you don’t know when you think you know enough. For example... Had I known Cockatiels like to have their heads scratched just like a cat and dog, Echo would have been a lot happier... On the other hand, when you actually do scratch their heads, it gets pretty difficult to get the birds Off of you. And typing?  Nearly impossible unless I lock them up.-6
“Can I help you?” Alex asks. Alex is the owner of Pet-Pro.

“The Latino, is it male or female?” I don’t bother to take my eyes off the bird. I already know he is busy do about a million and two things as he talks to me.

“Uhhh…. I don’t really know on that one. We haven’t had it long enough to tell. I need time to observe.”

“May I go in and look at him?” He looks at me for a moment. 

“That room not open to public. Um... I’ll let you in for a minute, we're not too busy.” He walks to the door and holds it open as I walk in and go up to the cage.

I had already been watching him for about five minutes.  As I watched in that five minutes I saw him making dominant poses over the other bird in the cage, which happened to be a Traditional Gray Cockatiel, and male. The Gray had run away from him every time. Gorgeous bird, I had to see if I was right that it was a male.If I was incorrect and it was female I just may have to get it.
When I get to the cage I set the tips of my fingers on the bottom bars, and whistle a cat-call, or wolf whistle, whatever you may call it. His bright yellow crest shoots up and he run over to the side of the cage, tunes just flying out of him. 

“I thought so. He is a he.” I said laughing. “This one’s a talker!”  Alex looks at the bird then at me. 

“Good to know.” He says, as he lets me back out of the little room where all the birds are kept. I continue down the aisle and pick up the Millet sprays. If go home without it I there will be some very grouchy birds.

(In no way do I claim to be 'The Expert' on Cockatiels, but I have definitely learned enough to know more than most employees in any of the pet shops in this area. That is just sad for the animals.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week 14: mini-research; before writing--

Five weeks ago I got a phone call from my best friend, up in the county. As soon as I said my normal "Hellooo sis" she proceeds to say...

"Hi… Can you take more birds?"

“Umm, no. I have my Cockatiels and that is enough, but thanks for asking!” At this point she proceeds to tell me that she had been made aware of a breeding pair of Doves and their chick from 2008. The pair had ‘accidently’ gotten together again and mated. The woman who owned the Doves had made it clear that she no longer wanted the birds and planned to let them go.

“Give me her number, and don’t call me anymore about this stuff. I can’t afford it!”

Forty five minutes later I began the hour and a half journey to go get my new wards. Upon inspection of the living conditions of the birds it was all I could do not to drive the woman’s head through the wall. The three birds were in two cages. The cage for the breeding pair was divided into two sections. The bottom of each section was almost entirely covered with feces, and the water in the dishes, well… it was pretty slimy. The chick from 2008, which is now almost four years old, was in a cage so small, he could not turn around without his tail feather rubbing the side of the cage. The bottom of his cage had to have had at least a solid inch of feces. His water dish was empty and dry and there was no food dish in either cage.

“What does their diet consist of?” I asked the woman, Angie or something like that. I really didn’t care enough to remember. She looked at me as if puzzled for a moment.

“Oh! The mamma likes black sunflower seeds, and they get bread and a few wild bird seeds once in a while. I’m all out though.” I look at her trying to maintain my temper.

“I don’t want the little cage. I have a clean one in my car. I need to take the big cage though. I only have one big enough at home.”

“Oh, are you sure you don’t want the little cage? I’m just going to throw it away.”

“Honestly that cage is better off being thrown away in that condition.” I transferred  the birds into the smaller cages I brought from home and cover them with blankets. After battling the big cage into my back seat I head home.

Much to my surprise two days later the Mamma dove laid an egg. My expertise in birds carries only to Cockatiels, not Doves. Scrambling to find where I put the nesting material I make a half assed nest and place the egg into it. Mamma just looked at it, computer time. Getting online I start searching everything I can about Doves, their diet, housing, breeding, chicks… If it had to do with Doves I probably searched for it.

An experienced pair of Doves will lay their first egg and actually let it sit until the second egg is laid. At that point they will begin incubating the eggs at the same time. The incubation period for Doves is about fourteen days. A Dove can starve to death in a matter of twenty-four hours, and they definitely need more than black sunflower seed and friggin bread. Doves do not husk their seeds, therefore they require grit. This had never been provided for them. How they had managed to survive as long as she had them is beyond me. They feed their chick’s crop milk for the first few days then gradually add more and more seed to the mix. They enjoy millet sprays (boy do they ever) and fruits and vegetables, especially corn, spinach, and broccoli in this case. Broccoli consumption should be moderate because it affects how the bird will absorb calcium.

The chicks will fledge the nest, generally, around three to four weeks of age. Again, in this case, it was about two and a half weeks, with much prodding from daddy. Mamma began attacking the chicks yesterday, at just over three weeks of age and I had to remove them from the cage.

Still working on the re-homing. The issue will be finding someone who will really take care of them and can afford to do so.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week 10 ; Enlisting the reader; Opinion

Abortion. Even the word is ugly, but who am I to say if it is right or wrong? I understand people have to do what they have to do. I'm not saying I could ever do it, but sometimes shit really does happen.

For example, have you ever seen a woman on the street that you just know, I mean know, has a substance abuse problem? Let’s just say this particular woman has been shooting up for oh... seven years, at least. Oh yeah! Let's not forget that she is now six months pregnant, and showing no signs of slowing down. Honestly now... think about that babies quality of life, if it even survived to birth. Can you imagine being brought into this world suffering from withdrawals? The pain that alone will cause, the sickness, and all the other issues that come from substance abuse in pregnant mothers. Then you have the mother herself, who apparently does not care enough about her own child to try to protect and spare this baby all the misery. Granted, that’s not always the case, and again, I do not support abortion. I'm just saying... what would you really think in this situation? Would you say "Oh I hope everything turns out ok.” Or, would you be more like "Jesus that dumb bitch should have had an abortion for that baby’s sake. She doesn't deserve a child and a child deserves better." I most likely would choose the latter, even given my position on the topic. And yes, I do understand some babies are born with miraculously little wrong with them, I’m talking extreme here.

My biggest issue right now, when it comes to abortion, is the people who protest. When I put my two and four year olds in the car and drive them to childcare, I don’t really want them to see gigantic fucking signs put up on the side of the road that have pictures of bloody chopped and torn apart babies. There is a time and place for everything. Should there not be a limit to what they can do? Laws, freedom and all of that, yes I know. I know, but really? My toddler needs to look at that because they don’t like it? I need to find a longer way to get where I need to go so my children aren’t subjected to those horrifying images? Let me just say, I struggle to pay for gas now; I can’t take a longer way.

I understand their point, as many do. But what do you think. Would their time be better spent doing something other than just standing on the side of the road, holding signs, terrifying mothers who are already terrified?  What if one of those mothers just happened to be getting an abortion because it was a matter of life and death? “I’m sorry, but you only have two choices. You can continue with this pregnancy with only a ten percent chance of survival for both you and the baby or, you can terminate the pregnancy now before it’s too late.” Now let’s add a little more to the story. This now hysterically crying young mother also has two other children and her husband left her for his young, hot, childless co-worker. Extreme, but it could happen. What now? She goes to the clinic and can’t bring herself to do it because of the signs? Those fucking signs. Let’s just hope that ten percent chance is enough.  Doesn’t it seem like an invasion on her rights? She shouldn’t have to see that. Neither should my children or anyone else’s.