Thursday, June 26, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
*I'm not making fun of your name, I just don't know how to pronounce it (or spell it for that matter).
Every other Saturday I go to the Chiropractor and Occupational Therapist. My mind really tends to wander, especially with the O.T., because much of the treatment requires me to lie on an examination table for an hour. I should really start keeping track of all the crazy places my mind goes when I allow myself an hour for stream-of-consciousness. (Similar to my recent blog post about the Girls Grilling cap). Anyways, in was under these conditions that I found myself thinking about rodent abortions. Yes, rodent abortions. Since Pfunk and I adopted the rats, I've joined a few rat groups on flickr. A woman recently posted a story to one of the discussion boards about how she bought a new cage that she thought would contain and separate her male and female rats. Well, she was wrong and ended up with a litter of 10 rat babies. So she paid to have all of her female rats spayed. It was at this point in the story that I read the sentence, "As it turned out, none of the girls were pregnant so I don't have the added guilt of thinking I killed babies but I still 'paid the price' right in the wallet." Really? Were you really going to lose sleep had any of your EIGHT female rats been knocked up when you had them fixed? See, you all may think that Pfunk and I are rat crazy and maybe we are, but some of these people take the crazy to a whole other level!!
Random aside: I can sympathize with the part of her story where the rats escaped the cage. Pfunk and I bought a smaller cage for the girls for travel and trips to the vet(ok, you're right, we are rat crazy) off craigslist this weekend. I underestimated how far apart the bars were in the posted photo and it took Falafel all of two minutes to escape from the ceiling of the cage. It was just like Kate leaving the bear cage on Lost. Tabouli wasn't quite able to follow Falafel's lead and squeeze through. She may be a little slow (or timid), but we still love her.
I bought the new David Sedaris book on Thursday evening with the goal of rationing it out, savoring each essay. But I was a total literary glutton and finished it at a coffee shop Saturday afternoon (actually, it is somewhat remarkable that it even lasted that long). I had just started the last chapter entitled "The Smoking Section," when a gentleman took the seat on the other side of the end table next to my own chair. Before reading that chapter I'd said to Pfunk, "if David Sedaris can quit smoking, anyone can!" (two of her family members are trying to quit right now). That was before I read that he up and moved to Japan in order to quit. Anyways, I'm reading about Sedaris's last cigarette in Paris before flying to Tokyo (and then his 2nd final cigarette...and his 3rd final cigarette...) when I realize that the man that had sat down next to me was hooked up to an oxygen tank that was quietly exhaling bursts of air into the tube connected to his nose every 10 seconds or so. There are probably dozens of medical reasons someone might use an oxygen tank that have absolutely nothing to do with cigarette smoking, but I still found myself laying the book in my lap to conceal the cover:
I was talking to my sister on the phone yesterday. She was telling me about the wedding she went to the night before that was filmed by a reality TV camera crew. It was for a new show on NBC called I Do and if the show makes it to air, you will probably see my Brother-in-Law because he was a groomsman. Anyways, she was chatting away about the personalized party favors (including personalized matchbooks to light the provided sparklers at the end of the night - yikes) when I interrupted her to say, "Go ahead and flip me off you fucking Ron Paul voting idiot!!". I might've gotten a "mother fucker" in there too. No, I don't have tourettes syndrome (although Pfunk would claim I show symptoms when either sneezing or playing Guitar Hero). I was driving while talking on the phone. I was behind this guy driving a Cavalier with a Ron Paul bumper sticker. We both pulled into the intersection to turn left, but had to yield to the through traffic. Well, the light turned yellow and the oncoming traffic slowed down to stop, but he still didn't turn. The light turned red and we were both still sitting in the intersection, so I honked at him. At which point both he and his buddy gave me the finger out their open windows, he threw something at my car threw his open window and purposefully drove as slow as he could through the turn. Asshole! My family is so used to listening to my road rage over the phone that my sister just paused for my rant and then continued her story, no questions asked.
Monday morning or "It's like The Office meets Candid Camera":
The saga at work continues. I kinda snapped this morning. I marched into my boss's office and said, "I figured it out. [Ms. Backache] was hired for a hidden camera show that tests people's breaking points. Am I right? Now that we figured it out can the experiment stop?". My boss laughed, but there wasn't a smile on her face.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
After that, every time it rained I would go to the corner while the "cement was wet" and stamp my feet on the concrete to try to leave footprints.
I was at work for an hour this morning before I realized that I was not wearing my tailored white tee (work appropriate - I work in a casual office), but a thin men's Fruit of the Loom undershirt (not so work appropriate). Pfunk wears white shirts under her clothes almost daily and somehow one ended up in my dresser. So now I'm sitting at my desk wearing a sweatshirt over the undershirt even though it is 80 degrees outside.
Earlier this week, I realized in the work parking lot that I hadn't paired black socks with my new black shoes as intended, but instead was wearing navy blue socks with black flats. So I went sockless (and got blisters from my new shoes).
These events would indicate that I'm lacking the desired level of alertness in the morning.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
But today was just strange. The day started with an admissions counselor bursting into tears in our office and ended with a coworker spilling an entire Nalgene bottle of water on her computer mouse and keyboard. (To add insult to injury, she was just given a computer upgrade last week; the computer is brand new). And the events that transpired in between also left much to be desired.
I knew that the tides had shifted, that we'd surrendered all decorum, when one of the members of my team asked another to walk on her back. I'd expect as much from the one with the backache, but I'd never expect the other one to agree. But the next thing I knew, Ms. Backache was laying on the nasty office floor and the other was removing her shoes to walk on her back. You just have to trust me that this was very bizarre.
What put me over the edge personally was the presence of a new employee that has been in our office a lot lately for training. I can't stand her. And it really isn't her fault, she doesn't deserve the animosity I was feeling towards her today. I think most of it isn't even about her. This angst has been months in the making, long before she was even hired.
Basically, my department is merging with another department. We've been in a state of imbalance and transition for months with this merger. And it is one of those circumstances where, for the most part, everyone is civil and maintains proper office etiquette on the surface. But a dramatic power struggle is brewing underneath, with people taking sides.
This merger is happening because our department is successful and theirs is flailing. And it was thrust upon us from the top down, literally from the President of the university. The other department is incompetent at their jobs, unable or unwilling to recognize that their incompetence and resent having us come in and telling them what's what. Meanwhile, we resent having to babysit them. As the result of this merger, we inherited one of their employees. She has an attitude problem, is resistant to change and has a personality that would be difficult in any small office, let along under these circumstances. She would be Ms. Backache. Ms Pain in the ass. Ms. Thorn in my Side.
Just when I was started to get used to Ms. Backache, figuring out how to tolerate her quirks, the incompetent department hired the aforementioned new employee, whom I'll call Ms. Jazzhead. Why anyone trusted the incompetent department to pick the new hire, I'll never know. She's yet another employee we had no say in hiring; another strong personality to try to accommodate. And she is putting me over the edge. Have I mentioned that all of this is happening in a windowless room shared by up to 6 people, with only one point of exit/entry?
Under other circumstances, Ms Jazzhead would be tolerable. But given the constant struggle we've been in with her department for the past few months, I think her eccentricities have become just one more example of the overall inconvenience this merger has been. I'm calling her Ms. Jazzhead because she declared one day "I'm so excited to have access to the University Library because I'm kinda a Jazzhead." No further explanation. I was able to infer on my own that she must like jazz music and is looking forward to checking out new music from the library.
She says random stuff like that all the time:
"Is anyone allergic to lilacs? (This is as she is walking in the room at 8:00 AM) I picked some lilacs on the way here. They make great hair flowers."
Indeed, she often wears flowers in her hair to work.
"Anyone want some cheese? (Again, at 8AM) This is my favorite cheddar."
Today I saw her pick her nose three times, at one point bringing her blouse to her face to wipe it. I'm never using the computer keyboard she was using again. There a box of Kleenex on my desk. For the love of God, help yourself.
She was wearing her headphones and no doubt listening to jazz and was bouncing in her seat to the music. Not nodding her head to the beat, but full-on chair dancing. There were glutes involved. And she is simultaneous silently scatting along with music, mouthing "Ba da da da, bah boom!" and hitting an imaginary high hat. I couldn't take it.
Another thing about this girl, every time she eats, it is as if its the first time she's eaten in a week. She scarfs her food like she's ravenous. My boss said that in the middle of meetings, she asks people if she can have some of their food. Whenever she comes over here for training, she eats any communal food that is laying around. I was watching her eat and I couldn't stand it, she wiggles her nose while she rips into the food like a predator. She looks like a rabid bunny.
I know I'm going straight to hell for feeling this way, and for sharing it here.
Tori Amos has this song called "The Waitress." The song opens with this verse:
I had a moment of clarity yesterday where I realized that Ms. Jazzhead is my Waitress.
And for the rest of the afternoon, I tried to calm myself down by singing the refrain over and over in my head:
I'm not sure if this is Falafel or Tabouli peeking out of Pfunk's hood.
Tabouli, continuing to use the Freshie bowl for any purpose other than food storage.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Now that you're all caught up on the awesome warm fuzzies, I can dive into our dilemma. It started last week when Pfunk and I staged a major odor intervention. The awesome cage that Kelsey gave us has two levels. The rats love it and end up hanging out on the upper level most of the time. The only potential problem with the upper level is that it has a wire floor, which can cause a foot infection called bumblefoot. So Paige and I bought plastic placemats and cut them to size to fit the upper level. We then put cardboard over the mats.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Me: What's making you laugh, the big guy in the Superman shirt?
Me: The old lady wearing the babushka?
Me: The guy on the clown bike*?
Me: The man in the Sherlock Holmes hat?
Friday, June 06, 2008
My girlfriend's dad recently went to a food/beverage convention in Vegas for his business and brought us back matching baseball caps. On the cap, there is a hot pink stop sign on the front that says "Warning: Girls Grilling." The side of the cap says "Grill Friends" (which looks suspiciously like Girl Friends). We thought they were kind of cute and funny, but were somewhat baffled as to why he got them for us. Especially when we found out he BOUGHT the hats. I'd assumed at first that they were free convention swag.
When friends came by our apartment recently, one of the hats was sitting out and I found myself joking about Paige's dad, making a comment along the lines of "I'm not sure what he was thinking, when would we ever wear these?".
It is a legitimate question. Neither of us wear baseball caps all that often. We hardly ever wear pink (in fact, I'd put Pfunk in the "never" category when it comes to pink). And we don't own grill. Even if we wanted to, we have no balcony or backyard to grill in.
But my flip remark about the caps ignored the excitement that he had when he gave them to us. Something about the hats made him think of us. I suppose there are two ways to interpret the "Warning: Girls Grilling" message. You could see it as sexist in the sense that grilling is seen as a man thing and therefore a woman would obviously mess it up. So you'd need advanced warning to steer clear. OR, the message could be viewed along the lines of the "You Go Girl!" pop-feminism. Stand back men, these sisters are doing for themselves. I know the hats were made, and Pfunk's dad intended the hats to be received in, the spirit of the later interpretation.
Thinking about that made me see the gift in a whole new light. I'm not really a Spice Girls "Girl Power" kind of gal. But he's trying. I remember early on in our relationship, Pfunk's dad referred to something I'd said as "man-hating." I honestly can't remember the specifics anymore, but something I'd said or done caused him to react that way. It sounds silly and maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I'm really starting to see this silly cap as validation of Pfunk and Me and our life together. We are very independent DIYers. To some degree, all lesbians have to be. There will never be a man in our house to assume the role of master griller or anything other historically “male” chore (not that I’m so naïve as to think all straight women in the year 2008 are relying on men to grill for them).
I realize now I want to focus on all the things Pfunk’s dad got right when we picked out those hats for us, not what he got “wrong.” This isn’t the first time I’ve humored a family member’s fumbled attempt to accept my sexual orientation. Why focus on the fumble when the whole point is they’re trying to show acceptance? Shortly after my sister starting dating the man that is now my brother-in-law, she got a taste of what it is like to come out when she told him she has a lesbian sister. I get the feeling he and his family hadn’t been around many gay people before me. Well, somewhere along the way, he heard about the phenomenon of lesbian softball players. A stereotype (like many) that has some truth to it, but that doesn’t apply to me. I did synchronized swimming in high school, possibly as far from softball as one can get. The closest I’ve been to a softball player is when I dated one in college and would read feminist theory in the bleachers when she and the team warmed up. But when my brother-in-law got me a “Chicago Women’s Softball” tee-shirt, I was totally tickled by his effort, not put off by the fact it wasn’t something I’d have chosen for myself. I wore it with pride until Pfunk, an actual softball player, claimed it as her own.
Sometimes accepting those fumbled attempts can be challenging. I remember very early on after coming out, I told my mom I was dating a woman for the first time. She said, “I’m so glad you found a favorable companion”. It was all I could do to not burst out laughing!! Gays will admit that we still haven’t settled on what to call our significant others. Girlfriend, wife, spouse, partner, significant other: it is hard to know when to use what term. Sometimes none of the terms seem satisfactory. But to have laughed at my mom in that moment would have been to ignore the positive message she was delivering, not to mention hurt her feelings and perhaps dissuade her from trying again.
But seriously, "Favorable Companion"? I don’t think that phrase will ever catch on in any community.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
"I really battled about whether to caucus for Obama or Clinton. I ended up caucusing for Obama, albeit hesitantly at first. A lot of my lesbian/feminist friends are/were for Hillary. I couldn't help but feel like I was somehow betraying the sisterhood by not backing the first woman with a legitimate shot at the Presidential nomination. :-) I'd love to see a woman as President, but ultimately decided gender couldn't be the sole deciding factor in who (whom?) I gave my support to. Once I took gender out of the equation, I settled on Obama as the better candidate for me.
Some of Clinton's actions in the campaign before and since the Minnesota Caucus have only reinforced my decision to go with Obama. She misled voters in Iowa and New Hampshire on Obama's record on pro-choice issues, an issue she and Obama agree on. She stirred up smoke where there was no fire to get votes. There are plenty of policies, like healthcare, that they have differing opinions on that she could've campaigned on. But she used scare tactics instead. Basically, when Obama was an Illinois Sate Senator, he voted "present" (rather than yes or no) on 7 votes regarding choice. Hillary tried to use that voting record to imply that Obama is weak on choice. What she neglected to say was that Obama voted "present" at the urging of Illinois Planned Parenthood as a strategy. Here's an article on that if you are interested.
The former head of Chicago's N.O.W. chapter actually switched support from Clinton to Obama after being forwarded a Clinton campaign mailing that went out to pro-choice NH voters. Here's her Youtube video on the matter.
And then Clinton made a remark about Farrakhan being connected to Obama's church. Again, scare tactics. And then the remark about Robert Kennedy's assassination as a reason for staying in the race. That is when she really lost me!
Of course, neither of them support gay marriage. I understand to a degree that they are playing the political game with the "marriage not ok, civil unions ok" platform, but it is still disappointing.
I'm just grateful I had the choice! You Michiganders must be so frustrated to not have had both candidates on the ballot for your primary (another questionable move by Hillary).
Even if I had been a Clinton supporter, I think I still would have gone to the Obama Rally on Tuesday. I felt part of history in the making being there. It was energizing to be with 17,000 people cheering him on (and another 15,000 watching outside that couldn't make it in the arena).
One last rant. It is one thing for Clinton not to have conceded the race on Tuesday. It is another thing to still be holding onto the quest to get the presidential nomination while simultaneously vying for V.P. I think she's put Obama in an awkward position: If he chooses Clinton as his V.P., he could be accused of cow-towing to pressure. Plus he'll have to explain how after months of saying he'd do a better job as President, he now thinks she is worthy of being V.P. But if he doesn't choose her, he could be accused of not trying to unite the party (when she's the one seemingly not uniting the party by not conceding). Sigh."
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
After dogsitting for Paige's parents' dogs for a week, I started to crave a small furry being of my own. Cats were out in that I'm allergic and the last cat I owned was a bloodthirsty psycho hosebeast. Dogs are out because they aren't allowed in my building. And even if they were, it would be cruel to have a dog in an apartment so small.
So that pretty much left rodents. We eventually narrowed it down to either a guinea pig or two rats. We went to our humane society "just to look" and came home with two 8-week-old female hooded rats. Luckily, Kelsey had already given us her rat cage, rightfully sensing that we were probably going to get a rodent or two sooner than later. The girls were born into a foster home as part of an unexpected/unwanted litter and had been at the humane society for a month, so they are sisters. They were already living in a cage together and seemed to get along because they were taking a nap together under a tube when we arrived. They'd been named Doc and Snow White, but we knew we wouldn't keep those names. The one we now know as Tabouli is the one that sold us on the pair. She was curious, willing to come out of the cage and didn't bite. Falafel was a bit more skittish and nibbled on our fingertips a bit. But we knew we wanted to get two because rats are very social animals and figured we might as well get two that seemed to get along well.
Turns out first impressions may not last. Falafel is the dominant one and more outgoing. Tabouli tends to follow Falafel around, even thought Falafel sometimes pees on her and steals her treats. Occasionally, Tabouli does get fed up with Falafel bullying behavior and we catch her sitting on Falafel's head. Falafel more readily comes out of the cage for playtime. Tabouli is harder to get out of the cage and is more likely to try to hide in your shirt, sleeve or hood. Tabouli can be bold though, as she has the surprising habit of leaping between Pfunk and me when we are holding her. Falafel's initial skittishness at the shelter may not have had so much to do with her personality, as the fact that the rodents were housed in the same room as cats that were available for adoption. Which just seemed cruel to both parties involved. The rodents are constantly afraid of becoming lunch and the cats are constantly tormented by the tempting rodents over yonder. I'd say that was my only complaint about the humane society. Overall, our experience at the humane society was positive. They'd already been examined by a vet once in the shelter and we got a free visit with a shelter-recommended vet (provided we go within 14 days of the adoption, which we did).
We came up with the names on the way home. I told Pfunk about a short story I heard on This American Life about hamsters named Donut and Danish. I thought they were cute names, but didn't necessarily want to copy them. So we tried thinking up other cute food names that go together. I eventually blurted out "Falafel and Tahini." Pfunk suggested Tabouli instead of Tahini and we had our names before the car was even home from the shelter. The names have been a big hit, even with those that aren't too keen on the idea of rats. In fact, most people seem to find rats a questionable choice when we tell them about the adoption. My mom, Pfunk's mom and my sister all shudder at the sight of their "wormy" or "snake-like" tails. My friend Meghan that lives in Brooklyn said, "Maybe it is a New York thing, but I can't imagine wanting rats in my apartment." So we've been doing a lot of educating people on the differences between city/sewer rats and domesticated rats. Domesticated rats are smart, clean and smaller than feral rats. They groom themselves all the time, especially after us dirty human beings have held them. They can learn their names and to come when called and can be litter boxed trained.
Not everyone has winced at the rats. Kelsey is a big rat fan as is Pfunk's sister. I introduced the rats to my 2 year old nephew over webcam. He was very interested in the girls. My parents told me later that time I had the rats on the screen was the longest he'd sat still all day. A lot of people ask how we tell them apart. The main way we tell them apart is Falafel has a big blobbly spot on her back. Tabouli's spots on her back are smaller. They are both hooded rats, but Falafel has a "traditional" hoodie while Tabouli has a "zip-up" hoodie (she has a small white stripe running from her chin down her neck - her zipper). Tabouli also has a small spot on her belly that Falafel doesn't have.
We've already had some adventures. I'm far too trusting of the rats, resulting in one of them getting loose in the apartment on three different occasions. The first time it was Tabouli. She was freaked; I was freaked. It took me an hour to get her back in the cage and required moving most of the furniture in the living room. We also took them to the vet, where one side of the waiting room was labeled "cats," the other "dogs." I wondered aloud where the rat section was. We ended up in dogs, since cats seem the more natural enemy of rats. They were a big hit at the vet, I think simply because they see so few rodents in comparison to felines and canines. They were given a clean bill of health and Falafel only pooped on the Dr twice. Our most recent adventure was giving them baths. We staged a major invention last week. We completely remodeled the set up of their cage because we were having some odor issues. The last step of the intervention was baths. We washed them with baby shampoo in a bowl of lukewarm water. The bowl was in the bathtub, as was Pfunk, bless her heart. By the time we were done, she was completely soaked!