I walked three dogs today. The first dog was a wonderful dog, Hutch. I think Hutch is probably the first dog that I’ve ever done well at walking. He walked in a straight path, I scratched his back, and then we returned. Then I walked Clyde, then I was so exhausted from walking Clyde that I walked Friendly, who is a sweet and calm dog.
This is Clyde, dressed in his proper attire. His canine bio states that he is “good on a leash” which is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard. Clyde pulls on the leash constantly. He also barks a lot. That second reason especially is why he’s the dog that’s been in the shelter the longest. One of the other volunteers told me that Clyde had already been out but that he needed “special enrichment” — basically, he needs to spend extra time away from dogs, with humans. He barks a lot because having other dogs stresses him out. He needed to be taken away from the other dogs and petted a bunch. That sounded like a good time to me.
I spent about ten minutes nearly getting my arms pulled out from their sockets. So I started trying to pull him in the opposite direction he was yanking — not trying to get him to stay on a path, just trying to not get him what he wanted. Maybe if he got distracted by not getting what he wanted? Anyway, after like a minute it was obvious that wasn’t going to work, so I started planting in place whenever he yanked. If he pulled, we would stop walking. That actually worked? He learned very quickly that if I stopped, he should stop, and wait for me to move. Except that whenever I moved, he would try to run ahead, leading to me just stopping.
I returned sweaty about twenty minutes later. The other volunteer, tossing tennis balls for two dogs in the yard, asked me if I had petted him and given him the treat she had given me. I confessed that I had been too busy trying to get him to stop yanking to even pet him. “He needs a lot of one-on-one time.” She understood, and said that behavior like that was exactly why Clyde was on the “enrichment” list.
Once we were back in his kennel, Clyde suddenly decided that he needed some petting. I tried to get the collar off, but Wake County uses these ridiculous Martingale collars that are impossible to get on and off easily. The dogs always interpret my attempts to get the collars off as scritches. So Clyde thought I was trying to pet him, and he began jumping all over me, and then suddenly I was sitting on the ground and Clyde was laying on my lap, happy as a clam.
I realized that Clyde was overstimulated by all the other dogs, and massively undertrained. He was a good dog — he craved human contact and wanted to do good for us. He didn’t seem to hate other animals. He just…couldn’t handle everything. I felt sorry for him. I wondered what would happen if I walked him every day. Would it be like the fox in The Little Prince? If I walked him every day, would he like me best, and start behaving more, and calm down, because he had the same person walk him every day? Would I even be able to get to the animal shelter every day?
I pondered this as I walked Friendly, because she was such a good walker that I didn’t have to focus all my energy on her. What would even be the point, I thought, of walking the same dog every day? What was my end goal? How did I expect him to change? Was I here to save animals, or help them?
That was a strange question. Friendly and I walked up a side street and I watched as she pondered a tree. In my head, the conversation turned, abruptly, between Maggie and Emily. It was an extended conversation, since I had to justify to myself why Maggie and Emily would even be talking about dogs. Neither are particularly interested in animal welfare, unlike their creator. But saving people was a natural interest to Maggie.
Maggie: What’s the difference between saving and helping, anyway?
Emily: I don’t know. I think maybe saving is when you rescue people, but helping is when you get them to rescue themselves.
I hadn’t realized that Maggie and Emily represented my superego and my id. They’ve come so far since I came up with the characters as a junior in high school. They weren’t even friends when I came up with them. They ran in different circles. But now they’re inseparable in my head. I don’t want to hurt them. Maggie is smart, she always does the right thing. Emily always says the right thing, though.
I turned Friendly back towards the animal center. It wasn’t my job to save animals, I decided. I’m only here to help them.
I realized something about myself tonight. When required to answer something I have been trained in, I stumble over words.
Customer: Hey, are you able to give me cash back?
Kelsey: Yes, you can get the…the things when you do the thing, with the swiping, the cashing, with the debit card. You have to have a debit card to get the thing. The cash.
But when I improvise…
Kelsey: Oh, I like the teddy bear mask. Very scary. Is it for Halloween?
Customer: No, I just want it wear it every day.
Kelsey: I respect that.
Customer: *laughs hysterically*
Kelsey: I see you got skeleton-themed paper plates and towels. Are you preparing for the Skeleton War?
Customer: No, I’ve never heard of that.
Kelsey: On Halloween, the skeletons are going to rise up and make war on us all. It’s all over the internet.
Customer: I didn’t know. We’ll be completely unprepared.
Kelsey: Oh, don’t worry! Now that you know, you’ll be able to prepare.
Kelsey: Although, since we all have skeletons inside us, will we not be fighting ourselves?
Customer: That got deep.
Supervisor: That got creepy.
Anyway, when I made my last post, I expected to update later that day with a most important post about how I spent my weekend. Alas, my weekend was so much fun and so exhausting that I ended up passing out instead of writing the blog entry. I am now going to fix that.
Kelsey and Lacey’s Excellent Adventure
Lacey came down to visit me for the weekend! Not only was it the first time I saw family in like two months (how did I go that long??? I’m not used to that!) but also it was the first time I had time off in like ever.
She drove down on Friday night for the long
Columbus Day Indigenous People’s Day weekend. I made lettuce wraps and she, James, and I played Robo Rally. I chose Robo Rally because it’s the least board-game-like board game we own. You navigate a bunch of robots around a map, as they crash into things (such as other robots) and get caught on conveyor belts and shoot at things and it’s a lot of fun, 10/10 would recommend. Lacey loved it.
The next day, we knew I had to close Petsmart in the evening, and I really wanted to go to a corn maze, so we chose a corn maze just down the road from Food Lion to go to. It really amazes me about North Carolina; we’re in the middle of suburbia, and you turn down a road you always turn down, and then you go like two minutes farther and suddenly you’re in farm country? Or maybe there’s a large working farm smack in the middle of suburbia? Like there’s apartments right across the street from a working farm?
Most of the activities were for families with little kids. There was a moon bounce, farm equipment to climb on, pony rides, a fenced-in area with a few things for kids to climb on but mostly a place for them to run around and scream. There were activities for older kids — a strongman game, a mechanical bull, a trail ride. Lacey and I started with the corn maze, because that had been the main attraction for me.
They had given us a map and shown us where the entrance was on the map. We hewed very closely to the map, and so getting through the maze was a breeze. We were supposed to find ten checkpoints. That was not so easy.
After an hour, we had found seven checkpoints and decided to call it quits. The sun was hot in the sky. The ground was muddy. We had both dressed in long, dark jeans for some insane reason. We knew where the exit was. So we left and sat in the shaded eating area and drank water and checked facebook and chatted for a bit.
We decided to do the trail ride next, although they were in the middle of a trail ride, so we decided to do the strongman game in the meantime. You guys know what a strongman game is. I’m not going to explain it.
Lacey was able to get “Minor Blast” while I couldn’t get past “Fizzle Out”. I fumed at my lack of strength. Lacey explained how my swinging technique was wrong, and I tried again, this time scoring “Low Power.” And that was great! But it was time to get on our high horse and ride.
Uh oh, she’s figured out I’m taking pictures.
They gave the horse that I wanted to a little boy, I guess because that particular horse was calm and easy. Why couldn’t I get the calm and easy horse? Instead, I got a generic brown horse who had decided that he was sick of walking the same loop around the property every day. Didn’t anyone ever bother to ask the horse what he wanted to do? He was the one actually doing the walking, and what he wanted to do was eat some delicious, delicious grass.
Yes, while I was feeling trepidatious because the last time I rode a horse I nearly fell off, the horse was just feeling hungry and bored. We started walking, and the horse immediately veered to the left to get some grass next to the entrance. Fortunately, I guided the horse roughly back to the group. I muttered to the horse, “Don’t you want to be with the other horses? Aren’t you a herd animal?” He chose not to reply.
For a moment we walked on the trail and all was peaceful and well. The sun warmed my skin. I gained an appreciation for all those comments about riders being “saddle-sore” in all those fantasy books. I didn’t hurt, but my skin was being rubbed, and I could see it getting worse if you rode for several hours. I also thought it was pretty cool, you know, sitting on something and having it go without you pressing on an accelerator or something.
The trail was a big loop around a big grassy field. The horse went for the grass. But he was smart; he acted like he wanted to stay on the road, but just not next to those other horses. But slowly, we started angling more and more onto the grass and less and less onto the gravel. Then he stopped. He straight up stopped, and bent down, and started eating grass.
“No,” I said. “No, horse. No.” I tried kicking his belly, but the horse continued to munch away. I weakly flicked the reins. I wondered whose idea it had been to let me operate a horse. I looked around. Lacey was riding next to the ride leader, laughing, making friends like she’s so good at doing. Behind them was the little boy on the pretty horse. I couldn’t see anyone else. The horse pulled at a particularly tough piece of grassing, rocking me from side to side.
From behind me, someone said, “Pull hard on the reins. Show him who’s boss.”
“Won’t that hurt?” I asked.
“Not if you only do it briefly. He won’t want you to do it again.”
I trusted his expert advice and yanked on the reins. Then I yanked again. And a third time. Finally, the horse’s head went up, and he walked along, chewing. Then he swallowed, and stopped, bent down, and started plucking at the grass again.
Here are some random pictures that I took on the farm. That is the King of All Goats in case you are wondering.
Lacey and I picked out our pumpkins and headed home. We watched Nightmare Before Christmas before I had to leave for work. She was out with some Raleigh friends of hers when I got home.
The next day, we went to downtown Raleigh. I had never been to downtown Raleigh before. It was a cold and misty day, completely the opposite of the day before; I had wore cloth shoes even though it was clearly going to rain any second. We were going for the Raleigh Museum of History, but we stumbled upon the Food Truck Rodeo, which I had completely forgotten about even though it had been advertised pretty much everywhere in the Raleigh area constantly, including on our toilet paper probably.
I like how few food trucks are featured in these images, despite them literally lining the streets.
Lacey bought a shirt and a cupcake. I bought some crab rangoon and veggie rolls, some cupcakes, and a whoopie pie. Then we headed to the museum.
Now admittedly I have been spoiled rotten by growing up near DC. I compare all museums to the Smithsonian Institution. Those are huge, grand Neo-Classical buildings. The Raleigh Museum of History was small compared to that. Not super small — not Bath Historical Society small — but small. There was only one gallery on the bottom floor, along with a theater and a gift shop. Upstairs, there were four more galleries. The one on the bottom was a rundown of North Carolinian history from the indigenous inhabitants to the 1990s. The section on pirates was smaller than I would have preferred, just a small exhibit with a model ship, Blackbeard’s flag, and a few signs about Blackbeard. The section on the Civil War was large, as you would expect in a former Confederate state, I guess. Lacey and I found each other in there, and we discussed women in the Civil War for a bit before wandering off separately again. I sat down and watched a video on the hostile takeover of Wilmington. I was sort of shaken by the whole thing and had trouble concentrating for the rest of the tour. I was surprised by how strong my reaction was. It felt sort of like that moment when I learned that Napoleon Bonaparte sold the Louisiana Territory to Thomas Jefferson. History suddenly felt real to me. It suddenly had real-world consequences. Oddly enough, I feel uncomfortable researching modern-day history, precisely because it is so close to me. Wilmington was very much that to me, and yet I found myself wanting to know more.
Then we went home and played board games with James and his friends. We played Robo Rally again (it’s very zany with seven players), and introduced Lacey to Resistance. It’s difficult enough playing that game, but Lacey was playing against six veteran Resistance players, and the final round came down to her. The spies kicked our asses.
After we cleaned up from board game night, Lacey and I watched Princess and the Frog, determined that the lack of direction and ill-thought-out characters (particularly the female characters) meant that we didn’t like the movie.
On Monday, we carved pumpkins:
Combined Starbucks and smokey barbecue:
And visited a lumber yard, and basically had a very North Carolina sort of day. We watched Brave (we both enjoyed that film more — Pixar just really knows how to write well-rounded characters, you know?) and then played Arabian Nights (in just a few rounds, Lacey’s character was a depressed talking ape on the run from the law). Then Lacey had to go home. I started missing her about two minutes after she left.
Ah well. December then.
Sinbad is still with us! He will be with us for the foreseeable future. I had selected a rescue to surrender him to, and had even emailed the rescue.
I have a young bearded dragon that I rescued from a pet store. He has weak legs due to malnourishment, but he is otherwise a healthy beardie who has been eating well since we isolated him. Unfortunately I do not have the room to keep him to adulthood. Would I be able to surrender him to you?
Here is a picture of how cute he is. I have named him Sinbad.
Moments after sending the email, I got a form letter back. The gist of the letter was: they would not take Sinbad in. “We are no longer accepting animals in need of new homes. While we advocate for the appropriate placement of reptiles \& amphibians, we no longer are able to continue taking in simply-unwanted animals. Due to the current condition of the economy, lack of resources, and overall adoptions in the past several months, we are ONLY accepting animals on emergency conditions.”
Unfortunately, Sinbad is in a loving home being cared for by veteran beardie caretakers. I even said in the email that he was well-cared-for.
“If you inquired about our surrenders program via email, we recognize and view your emails, but we also believe that you are capable of posting such inquiries to Craigslist, Pet Finder, and other similar websites.
I admit that I read that and felt mildly insulted. There is a bit of sass in that sentence. But fortunately I kept reading.
Many forums for herpetofauna hobbyists exist, and they are a fantastic place to look for help. We understand that many people are wary of the clients that may be associated with PetFinder \& Craigslist, claiming that they are concerned about the appropriate placement of their animals in new homes. We understand! But please remember that you are perfectly capable of determining the animal’s new home. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, interview potential new owners, and ensure that their practices are both safe and practical for the animal they are interested in.”
If they hadn’t followed up that bit of sass with some advice and encouragement, I would continue to feel slightly put-out. As it is, I feel no different than before I emailed this reptile rescue. Nervous. Wishing I could just keep him. Uncertain I could find him a home on my own. Wishing I could hand the problem off to someone else.
So last Friday I had probably the closest thing to a mental breakdown that I’ve had in a long time. I had gotten Saturday off, the day off for the first time in a long time, and even better, James had the same day off! Except that both my jobs asked me to come in and cover shifts for people. And then I cried, and then I cried some more, and I couldn’t stop crying, and then I couldn’t stop screaming, and then I realized that I was screaming because I didn’t have anyone to tell that I had Feelings. I tend to get over Feelings as soon as I tell people that I have Feelings. In case anyone is still wondering, that is why I vagueposted “I really need someone to talk to.” Thankfully, I was able to talk to people eventually (thank you, Leandra and Lacey), and when James got home that night I kind of sobbed into his chest for about two hours.
Still, it was close enough to a mental breakdown that it took me the better part of a week to get over the Feelings. This would have been a terrible week for me to make major life decisions.
Recuperation was slow. I nearly started crying again when I started talking to one of my managers. I was dealing with a bearded dragon with an infection foot; someone had had the bright idea of prescribing oral medication to a beardie. As she waggled a mealworm in front of his face, trying to get him to open his mouth, we started talking about Sinbad, who was chillaxing in his cage under the hospital aquarium. She referred to him as “the retard” and said that Alex had suggesting euthanizing him, and that she was in favor of it.
I panicked. I didn’t say anything, but I plotted. And yesterday, I was finally able to take Sinbad home. His bone disorder has rendered him “unadoptable”, so I got him for absolutely free.
He’s not here to stay. James has made his position very clear. He likes Sinbad just fine. Sinbad is a charmer. His silly walks, his horrible attempts at climbing, and his little bit of beardie sass all combine to make a wonderful, unique beardie. It’s not that James dislikes Sinbad. No, we just have no room for Sinbad. Right now, Sinbad is in a makeshift tank: the old frog aquarium with some leftover tiles and Slinky’s heat lamp (Slinky is starting to brumate, so he doesn’t need the light as often as he normally does). We’ve shoved the tank in the corner by the dining room table, because we just don’t have anywhere else to put him.
So on Monday or Tuesday, I’m going to hand him over to a reptile rescue. I just have to decide which one. Right now we’re giving Sinbad some space; he definitely has Relocation Stress, refusing to eat crickets. I’ll try again tomorrow. The important thing is, he has a chance at a real life now, instead of hiding in a too-tiny tank in the back of a Petsmart, surrounded by sick guinea pigs and anorexic geckos.
Other pleasant developments were chatting with a woman about Italy while I made an iced coffee for her. She wanted the largest size available. I told her the largest size was a Venti, and then corrected myself: for iced beverages, the largest size available was a Trenta. She laughed and shook her head and said that they really were “trying to force the Italy thing, weren’t they?” and I said yes, totally and rattled off a few more instances of fake Italian that Starbucks uses, and suddenly were were discussing Prosciutto and I told her about the Piramide in Rome.
I DIDN’T MAKE IT UP. THERE IS A LEGIT ROMAN PYRAMID IN ROME BECAUSE OF A RANDOM EGYPTIAN CULT DURING AUGUSTUS CAESAR’S TIME MEANT THAT SOME RANDOM PERSON SPENT MONEY IMPORTING A ROMAN PYRAMID AND NOW ROME CAN’T GET RID OF IT AND FINALLY SOMEONE OTHER RICH PERSON DECIDED TO RESTORE IT AND ALSO THEY NAMED A METRO STOP AFTER IT BECAUSE WHY WOULDN’T YOU IT’S THE ONLY OTHER THING AROUND BESIDES THE PROTESTANT CEMETERY AND A MEXICAN RESTAURANT.
I also get along fine with the girls at Starbucks. I have to suck in my breath and just take it whenever Manny, Cheryl, or Matt is around, but Makala, Alicia, and Shandy are totally awesome and I love working with them. It makes me happy that not all of my feelings about Target are negative.
And also, tomorrow Lacey is coming to visit!
First of all, there’s a new Animator vs. Animation!
Second of all, tonight is the night I give my notice at Target. I had to re-take my drug test at Harris Teeter (clerical error — funny story, kinda) and I told the hiring manager that I hadn’t given my two weeks yet because I was waiting on the results of the drug test. She told me that if I was confident that I’m going to pass the test, then I should go ahead and give my notice. So I will. I feel nervous.
Third of all, whenever I work at Petsmart I keep thinking of all the pets I could have. I keep thinking, I know how to take care of animals. I bet I could make a really good cat owner, and that cat would be so happy! Or today I spent a lot of time planning out a non-filtered betta tank. I’d use a 2.5 gallon aquarium, and the only hardware would be a heater and an air pump (so the water isn’t still all the time). I found some silk plants that are $1.99/piece. The total cost would be about $60, all told. I would probably take out about a half-gallon every day so the ammonia doesn’t build up.
Of course, with $60, I could pay off some of my student loans, or buy a copy of the Sims, or something more useful than having yet another animal that doesn’t interact with me all that much anyway. A lot of adulthood seems to be wanting something but knowing that you shouldn’t, so you don’t, but openly admitting that you want it anyway.
I did a naughty thing tonight.
While Makala was taking her lunch, I decided that, hey, no one was watching, so…so I went ahead and made myself a drink. A small drink. I justified it by telling myself that Manny had told me to try more drinks and pastries, so I could recommend them to customers.
My original plan had been to make a Cinnamon Dolce Latte, which sounds heavenly. But I realized that, under my justification, I had to have something that customers tended to drink. And lately, lots of customers have been drinking Caramel Macchiatos. So I resigned myself to that. I made it with decaf, because honey I am getting up at 6:30 in the morning for a stocking shift and I am not staying up all night.
Caramel Macchiatos are pretty simple — a few pumps of vanilla, steamed milk, pour the espresso shots on top, and then do the famous caramel cross-hatching. I receive many compliments on my caramel cross-hatches. They are beautiful. Manny even complimented them once. It is only one of two compliments that I have ever gotten from him (the other is that I did a good job remembering how much water goes into each dehydrated syrup).
I slipped into the back and took a sip of my creation. I took a sip. I suddenly realized that I am actually really good at my job. The milk was steamed evenly (I hadn’t even tried!). The espresso was bitter, and I had to make myself get through that portion, but towards the bottom, the caramel had mixed with the vanilla and was actually pretty good.
I’m getting better about chatting with customers. Right now the best conversations come from commenting on their shirts. One guy was wearing his Chipotle uniform, so I asked him about working at Chipotle (he loves it). A couple were wearing Dragon Age 2 shirts, so we chatted about gaming for a bit. I gave a brief review of The Handmaid’s Tale (although I was confused and called it “the Midwife’s Tale”) which was perhaps inappropriate given the subject matter, but I focused mainly on the part in the beginning where the Handmaid recounts the beginning of the revolution, where she realizes that her credit card doesn’t work.
I was running around like crazy towards the end of my shift and I suddenly asked Makala, “Does decaf still have caffiene in it? Just less?”
Makala said, “Yeah, it’s just a reduced amount.”
Yesterday I visited North Carolina Central University. This was the college that my Petsmart manager had recommended. I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
While NC State had had the feeling of being a small town inside of a larger town, NCCU felt like a community college. The set-ups were similar — a collection of buildings surrounding actual public roads, with lots of bricks — NCCU just felt small. It felt like walking around the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College. The athletic areas felt like the athletic areas of Loras College — small and overblown in importance.
I had actually scheduled a tour, so I went into the Admissions building to wait for the tour to begin. It was supposed to begin at 2:00. By 2:10, there was no sign of such a tour beginning, so I got up and walked around campus by myself. Besides, I had looked at a map, which showed the agenda of a tour. It seemed geared towards potential undergraduate on-campus students. I am none of those things.
Both the staff and the student population is predominantly black. That’s something that I realized right away. I’ve never spent a whole lot of time being obviously a minority someplace. Except maybe Italy? It felt unusual to me.
I managed to find the graduate school office fairly quickly (I took that picture on the steps of the building, just before it began raining). I walked into the office and met with the executive assistant for graduate admissions.
She admitted up-front that she didn’t know a whole lot about the Library Science program (on purpose, she had learned a while ago not to guess and give false information), but she could answer all my questions about admissions. She took down my name and contact information so she could forward it on to the relevant Library Science people. Literally all of the Library Science faculty and staff were in a department-wide meeting right then. But she named off two people in particular who she would pass my info on to, who she said were “very quick to respond.”
I asked about admissions requirements, since the website gave very little information on what standards they were looking for. She said that they took a “holistic approach” to admissions — a poor GPA could be made up by a good GRE, or a bad GRE could be followed by an excellent letter of purpose.* Having excellent everything could still lead to a rejection if the staff felt like you weren’t a good fit. She used 3.0 as a basic excellent GPA, which made me feel less bad about my 3.09 GPA.
I asked if, since the Library Science program was part of the IT program, it was a technology-based program. She had never heard the question before, had no idea what the answer was, and wrote it down to pass on to both the people she was going to email about me and the people in charge of overhauling the new website. It was a very good question apparently.
She asked if I was looking for a Yes or a No to that question. I replied that I wasn’t sure. I had worked in a library during my undergrad, where I had worked with more technology than actual books. Which was good — yay more technology understanding — and bad — boo not enough books. Then we both got on a random tangent where we declared e-readers worse than physical books.
I left soon afterwards.
I still have not received an email from her or from the professors she was emailing. I don’t know her email address, either.
I walked out of there with a better understanding of what I want to do with my life. Why do I want a degree in Library Science? So I can work in a big university library, and be surrounded by quiet, books, and a learning environment (at least, it was quiet in the interlibrary loan office at Mason). I want to work in a big university specifically, so that I can have a variety of classes to take every semester, even if I’m not working towards any one degree. So I rejected NC State out of hand. I don’t want a degree in Public History. I want a degree in Library Science.
Next up is UNC. I’m excited.
*Letters of purpose seem really big in the graduate community. At NC State, the student affairs woman I spoke with went on a tangent about how some people say that they are interested in history — “Not even American history, or ancient history, just history — it’s a big subject!” The executive assistant I spoke with mentioned that they reject people who want degree just to have a degree, since they tend to not finish the program.