Hey, Pay Me. Also, WHat if I had a Pet Store??

I guess last Saturday was bleak because I spent it devouring the rest of Nurse Jackie, sipping on a gin & juice with my mind on my money and my money on my mind. Now, I’m nowhere near broke, but what I am is emotionally spent. Socially taxed. Creatively kaput.

You know what’s cute? People think I make money off this blog. (It’s very flattering, and) I’m sort of silly for not making that a reality until now! It’s always been my ideal career to just get paid for thinking thoughts and because people like me. So, make my dreams come true? Hey, pay me.

paypal.me/sdsurvivalguide

I now have a donate link! I appreciate the support SO, SO MUCH if you are able to contribute <3 <3

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Maybe I could make money patenting juice deliver system for birbs!!

Anyway, speaking of money… My current fantasy is to stop telling programmers what to do (that is my Real Job) and instead open a pet shop with my Pa. I mean, it will never be as exciting as the Free Zoo but perhaps it could be more conveniently located? Trendier? San Diego pet shops (F’Zoo excluded) sort of run the range of What If Whole Foods Ran a Pet $tore? to Holy Fuck This is Just A Closet Full of Dog Toys. Neither of these extremes really meet my needs, so I either go to Pet Kingdom or convince my roommate to go there on her way home from jewelry class to pick up a mouse for snakesnake.

Consider this my first exploratory effort. What’s lacking from your pet shop experiences? Do you actually like going to the pet stores? Who else is grossed out by PetCo? Send me a picture of your cat? Are there any animals in here?

Anyway, love you my readers. Less disjointed blog posts coming soon when I’m not being such a weird lil’ stress ball. LIFE IS HARD THO. I CAN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT ON MY PUBLIC BLOG THO.

PS.

Pay me?

paypal.me/sdsurvivalguide

Change is hard

He’s an old man now.

His feet are puffy and red. The skin on his face is thin. His feathers, however, are still vibrant green.

Three weeks ago, I walked into my small macaw’s room and flipped the light in the dark, looking for something or other. One of his eyes stayed shut. I wondered if I’d caught him half asleep. I turned off the light.

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A day or so later, I took him outside on his perch and set him near the edge of the pool. I lowered myself into the water, making our faces level. I noticed the redness in his eye. An infection? Or did he just poke himself. I should really cut his nails..

It seemed to clear up on its own until, two weeks later, I found him with an eye glued shut again. “Oh no, Bird bird!” I put warm water on a paper towel and gently touched it to his eye. It opened.

I thought about cancelling my vacation. This vacation I have been preparing for since I bought my ticket in February (and probably even before). Bird bird has been with me since I was 4, and he was a year old. That makes him 22. That makes him old. Could I live with myself if the combination of this illness or infection and his loneliness from missing me combined to cause his death? Birds are known to die of heartbreak. And colds.

I took a shower with him. He gratefully leaned into the warm mist. He does not usually like to be touched with fingers (4-year-olds aren’t the greatest at teaching birds to enjoy petting) but he let me gently rub his face with one of mine, oh so carefully wipe away the gunk in his eye. He is finally starting to trust me, to really trust me.

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Ultimately, I decided I couldn’t make a decision without more information. I scheduled a visit to the vet. I prepared a box lined with towels in the passenger seat next to me. He made sounds of fright, and so he rode the 20 minutes on my shoulder. He hasn’t been in a car since we moved to San Diego.

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I don’t know how I know he’s grouchy. His noises change. He gets nippy. He doesn’t want to be moved. The car ride made him grouchy. But he’s a good bird and weighing him at the vet office was easy enough. 145 grams. (I am so desperately in love with a being that weighs just 145 grams.)

The vet said his feet are perhaps just puffy because they are “old man feet.” She trimmed his nails. She suggested a soft rope perch. And he probably has conjunctivitis. For her opinion and a tiny tube of ointment, I willingly pay $110. I go home with hope that I did the best I can. Not hope about his lifespan.

I know he will die someday. I didn’t realize, however, I would recognize him growing old. I thought that, like many birds, he would die suddenly after having hid a simple cold from me. By the time you find them on the bottom of their cages, it is often too late.

His feet are strong enough to cling to his perches. They are strong enough to climb on top of the shower rail. Yet, nails trimmed, he could not cling so strongly to my fingers. Not like when he was young.

San Diego’s FREE ZOO (only the cool kids know about)

Did you know San Diego has a FREE ZOO? The owners seem to think it is called “Pet Kingdom” but everyone know calls it Free Zoo.

Me: Do you want to go to Free Zoo?

Everyone I know: YES.

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I have been going to Free Zoo since I was a wee child to look at the fishies. It is probably the best Zoo. I will make a handy comparison.

Free Zoo vs. “real” San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo:

  • Significantly more birds
  • Sky tram
  • You can buy beer (it is kind of expensive tho)
  • Reptile house is almost as good as the one at Free Zoo

Free Zoo

  • It’s free
  • The “keepers” will let you touch some of the animals
  • Sometimes they put a savannah monitor (really big lizard) in the turtle pond it is really cool
  • If you really like one of the animals you can buy the little buddy!! (usually)
  • Salamanders (cute!)
  • Convenient parking

My recommendation is you take a friend to Free Zoo. Look at these pics for a free preview:

monitor lizard with turtle on its back

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Located at
3191 Sports Arena blvd
San Diego, ca 92110

www.petkingdom.com

The Night of the 10 Plagues in San Diego (Wildfires 2014)

I’m nowhere near the fires. I hope everyone is safe and doing okay. 

Many years ago, I was sleeping or trying to sleep in my bed next to my large, sliding glass door that opens to a balcony overlooking the street.  I heard a terrible crashing noise, like metal garbage cans falling off the back of a truck. My neighbors across the way had metal plates covering their driveway, and so I assumed someone had just come home very, very late. I fell back asleep.

Maybe an hour later my mom woke me up and told me the fish tank had broke. We had at least 8 fishtanks in the house at the time, so what did she mean “the” fish tank? I zombie-walked towards the hallway and by the time I stepped outside my door, my bare feet landed on wet carpet.

My parents had deconstructed their bed and my dad stood inside its black metal frame with a wet-dry vac.  My brother was using the suction functions of the carpet cleaner. The 100 gallon fish tank in my parents’ bedroom now only contained 10 gallons at most, and its front plate of glass was missing down to the last 4 inches. It had separated from the wooden frame at the top of the tank, bowed forward, and shattered, emptying most of its contents. I could hear fish bodies slapping the remaining water.

That night we lost two fish. One had gotten stuck in a nook of the bedframe and was left unnoticed for too long, the other, my poor Ma stepped on.  Later we would lose one or two more to the stress, but the remaining 40 or so survived. We spent some more time moving furniture and soaking up water with towels and suction devices, and my dad transferred the fish to new homes.

I wasn’t much help or maybe they wanted me to get enough sleep for school the next day, so they sent me to the guest bedroom downstairs so they could continue vacuuming without disturbing me. I woke up the next morning totally disoriented from being in the wrong bed. Then I looked out the window. The sky was orange. I wouldn’t be going to school.

When I stepped out of the bedroom, my parents already had the TV running with news of the Cedar fire. The timeline is fuzzy for me, but at first we had a very confident sense that we wouldn’t be evacuated, then the reverse-911 calls started happening, and then a vehicle drove through our cul-de-sac announcing the evacuation call on a megaphone.

As we drove away from our drenched house (the spread of the water was so bad that we eventually had to replace the floor/ceiling for that room as well as all the carpet for my parents room, the living room below it, and the stairs) our sense of hysteria crackled in the air between us. “Well, fuck. Let it burn,” we joked. We tried to cope with humor as we always do. “Floods, fires… What’s next?” I said, “Locusts?”

Our house didn’t burn, and not because it was dripping with fish water, but because hard-working firefighters prevented the flames from leaping the road and igniting the nearby Mission Trails Regional Park. We were able to return to our home in a few days. The fish, which (unlike the birds and dogs) couldn’t evacuate with us, were happy to be fed.

Trivia: n. unimportant details or information

I’m losing my patience for trivia worship. I don’t have a mind for holding facts — at least not facts about popular culture. I’m a goddamn encyclopedia for pet behavior and grammar laws, but I haven’t found my flock of fellow bird & word nerds, yet. If geeks are excited about counterculture, then why do I only ever hear them exchanging social affirmations? Do you know about this? Do you know about that? Do we fall on our knees for the same gods?

I love birds. All of my snapchats are of birds.

I am a bird nerd. I love birds. All of my snapchats are of birds.

Real eggheads study an obscure or challenging subject and revel in the love of knowledge. Media culture geeks are just like any insecure high-schooler who wants to be part of a clique that’s big enough for safety in numbers but exclusive enough to be “cool.”

Yes, we’ve decided that a certain amount of geekitude is cool. But, no poindexter is standing on a table, reciting arcane theorems and getting all the ladies at the parties. People are doing what they’ve always done, and that’s dish news and check that everyone knows the what-what of the happening, socially shaming people who can’t get with the program. What’s changed is that the never-ending internet has given us more what-what to sputter over our red cups. Almost anything goes as long as you have a little tribe of other geeks who are into your geek kink. And you do have a little tribe. You’ve seen them somewhere on Tumblr.

I understand, I really do, that having a common lexicon is a short cut to establishing shared experiences. But if you go on and on about Naruto, and I don’t know jack about Naruto, what am I supposed to do? Pretend I know what you’re talking about so I can skip on the noob history lesson? Change the subject? Point out that you’re a fucking nerd?

In a perfect world, I’d tell you I don’t know jack about whatever-his-face guy-with-a-rune on his headband (at first I thought it was blue-arrow-forehead child. Don’t act shocked, they’re both animated kids shows and I’m not a kid). Don’t give me a history lesson, I’d say. Instead, share an experience or an insight you gained from watching the show.

Do you really need to figure out which episodes we’ve both seen? Why can’t you just tell me what it all means to you? How it compares to your daily life? How it’s improved your relationship with your daughter? Why do I have to partake in this pissing contest that is proving I know enough about your geek fantasy to belong in your geek fantasy?

umbrella cockatoo on the porch

You just did a lot of reading. I will reward you with another bird picture.

This trivia spouting infects everything with a fandom, music appreciation included. Particularly, I don’t know how to react when a person knows more about my favorite band (Queens of the Stone Age)* than I do. I don’t know all the names of all the band members, though I’m certainly familiar with their discography. I can sketch out a list of songs for most albums with decent accuracy. Not that I care — I’ve just listened to R, Songs for the Deaf, Lullabies & Clockwork enough friggin’ times to know.

So, when this guy knows some obscure trivia (historical dates, formation of this or that) about my QOTSA and I yawn and pretend I know Josh Homme held this or that concert for his dead friend because I’m a bit embarrassed at my lack of expertise for my self-proclaimed “favorite”… when this guy goes off on some story I frankly don’t care about (don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed he’s retained so much information on his not-favorite-band), I’m realizing I need to just say: “Hey, thanks for teaching me something new, but what does it all really mean to you?”

When he gives me his baffled response, a “what” or a blank stare, I elaborate, “I don’t really care about the trivia. I care about the music. And I care about the music because of the band’s particular influence on my family, the way the shows I’ve attended shaped my understanding of rock and live performance and human appreciation for both. Tell me about an event you went to, how you felt, which beer you drank, how much sweat stained your t-shirt.”

I’ll tell you I first saw them when I was 17, with my dad in Austin, Texas. People there thought maybe he was robbing the cradle, because I dressed a bit too stylish and they didn’t know I was his daughter. I stood on my tiptoes to watch the longest drum solo I’ve ever seen, in a tiny venue called the Rose (it’s a lot like the Casbah, if you’re familiar with that), for “Feel Good Hit of the Summer.” I saw people smoking weed and carefully looked to my dad for an appropriate reaction, as I’d never seen the stuff before.

Don’t recite some band drama you picked up in your readings — some trivia that has nothing to do with you. Make it personal. Make it you. Bands are bands and some are better, but I’m not sitting in a spa with Josh Homme so what do I care if he wrote this or that song in this or that city? Unless, of course, *you* lived in that city.

Look he's so cute he's squinting. Don't you enjoy all these bird pictures? They are like my children. Look at all these pictures of my children? I'm not boring you am I?

Look he’s so cute he’s squinting. Don’t you enjoy all these bird pictures? They are like my children. Look at all these pictures of my children? I’m not boring you am I?

What I’m trying to say is, I coasted through my history classes because they weren’t *my* story. I’m much more interested in humans right in front of me than humans that are “popular” enough to make it to the books or the silver screen. I’m more interested in you. Tell me a tale, and make it one I can’t watch on TV. Tell me something I don’t know.

As media expands, these little clusters of allegiance to external narratives (Did you watch the new Game of Thrones? Are you into Attack on Titan?) might just fall apart. Lifespans of trends are shortening as the fire hose of popular media keeps pouring. We can’t keep up with everything. Certainly, established common ground makes us feel less alone. But I hope that the growth of communication technologies connects us such that we don’t need these superficial obsessions to lope along in a conversation. We could download in instants what someone else has already digested (here’s an emotion/dream/experience I had — let me transmit it to you in a microsecond so you know what I mean) and instead of validating that we’re on the same island of thought, examine and compare our reactions in the same moment. Make meaning, not just chase meaning laid out before us for us to follow like helpless human eyes scan a constantly flashing, changing TV screen. Quit worshiping trivia. Create your own legends.

*P.S. I’m going to the show in SF on the 17th! Will I see any other San Diegans there?