Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: Setting an Example

There is only so much awareness I can raise about tripods through this blog and Facebook and the like.  It becomes a lot more effective in person.

A lot of people I come across when I'm out with Prada have little or no experience with dogs with altered mobility.  And because Prada is so fluffy, most don't even notice at first the blank space where her leg would be.  This actually is a good thing, because then they see her first as a dog, and not as "disabled."

I always try to be open for questions, since so many people are curious.  You'd be surprised how many people will ask if you give them the chance.  What happened, how she gets around, whatever.  I try to answer as honestly as possible.  I especially like it when kids ask, because they'll ask anything.  One day this summer, a little boy who lives nearby finally worked up the courage to run up to me and ask all in a rush, "Does she have a hole where her leg was?!"  So I showed him Prada's scar and let him touch it, so he could see it doesn't hurt her at all.  Hopefully, the experience will help him grow up to see a dog with altered mobility as a dog that's a bit different, but not "less than a dog."

I also recently had a friend tell me that he'd always thought tripods couldn't possibly have as good a quality of life as fully-mobile dogs, and assumed it would be kinder to euthanize such a dog.  After meeting Prada and seeing what a happy girl she is, he could see it's not as black and white as that.

Having any dog is a social experience--people love to meet and greet the dogs they come across--but having a tripod means I have the opportunity not just to meet new people or an excuse to chat with neighbors, but also to show how balanced and normal life with an extra-ordinary pet can be.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It's My Two Hundred and Onest Post!

I woke up this morning with my cat's face so close, I could feel her breath on my eyelashes.

In other news, did you know Monday's post was my 200th?  Yeah, me neither.  But to all four of you who follow me, and have stuck around for the ride, thank you.

I started this blog because I'd recently adopted a three-legged puff of hair, and I wanted to do my part to raise awareness about how awesome dogs are, altered mobility or no.  I still try to do that with my "Hops in the Right Direction" series, but those are never my most popular posts.  That's okay.  You're stuck with it.

By far and away, my most popular post has been The Hunger Games and Nazi Germany: Visual Metaphor in the Film and Why It Works.  It's the post that got me a call-out from Neil Howe, who's kind of a hero of mine.  It's the post that made the first page of a Google search, and it's still the first for the search "Hunger Games Nazi Germany" (because I Google things that might bring up my blog like other people stalk their exes on Facebook).  Clearly I posted that on a good day.

I've also posted about a particularly bad day.  I forget what made it bad, but the hits on the post sure make me smile now.

I've given fashion advice and dating advice.  I've given more unsolicited reading advice than anyone probably ever wanted, but who cares?  Ian Beck, author extraordinaire, commented on my review!  (Which renders your complaints invalid, by the way.)

AND I gave away free copies of the world's most disturbing pinup calendar.  You know.  For charity.

All in all, it's been an amazing ride.  Thanks for sharing it with me.

Ready for the next leg of this road trip?

(Yes, that was a tripod joke.)


(True:  You guys are the best.  You're a little strange, but you're my favorite kind of strange.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

But At Least I Ordered Great Pizza.

My parents came down for the weekend, which was awesome.  Unfortunately for them, they crashed at my place.

My building has the old fashioned cast iron radiators that occasionally make a rattling sound if there is air in the pipes.  On Saturday night, there was not air in the pipes.  There was an entire steel drum band made up of people with no rhythm on crack, and I thought we were all going to die.  (We didn't die, as it turned out.  We just didn't sleep.)

And Sunday, I locked myself out of my apartment while heading downstairs to let in my parents, who had locked themselves out of the building.

It's a really good thing that people aren't rated for their hosting skills on Yelp the way hotels are. 

(True:  My parents surprised me with bookshelves this weekend.  I officially have the coolest parents ever.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fast Times at a School That Would Probably Not Prefer to Be Associated With This Blog

A good friend of mine from high school is having a baby in the not-too-distant future (ha, what else could it be?  Twenty years?), and it's got me remembering stuff.  So, join me on a walk down memory lane--if you dare.

I went to private high school.  Most of the students boarded, but there were a few of us "day students" who lived close enough to not have to live on campus.  We had our own lounge, and off that lounge was a small glass room nicknamed "the cubicle," which was just down the hall from the locker rooms assigned to the day students.  The cubicle had enough room for about four people comfortably, but we usually crammed about eight in there.  That's the boring part.

The interesting stuff is what we witnessed, safe on our side of the glass.  We saw break ups, make-ups, and make-outs.  We saw drama on a level that just isn't possible anywhere but a high school where most of the students live together (with teachers!) with no access to cars.

On one memorable occasion, however, the drama breached our safety glass.

A teacher stormed down the hall, coming from the boys' locker room, and slammed open the cubicle door.

"Who has been misusing their genitalia?!"

I honestly don't recall a single other time when all of us were simultaneously silent.  Cue astonishment and absolute confusion.

Eventually we figured it out:  someone in the boy's room missed the urinal.  Which was disgusting, but not nearly as bad as we had originally assumed.  Even better, none of us were guilty of the transgression--not this one, anyway.

But I do remember thinking, This is high school.  Those of us who aren't wish we were.

(True:  It was a special sort of high school I went to.  After I graduated and was legal to drink, I got conned into playing poker with my old high school teachers.  They got me drunk and won away all my money.  But I got an A for effort.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: Worth It

Every person I've ever spoken to who has adopted a special needs pet has never regetted it.  I have never once heard, "I love my pet, but if I had the chance to do it over again, I'd get a different one because it's just not worth it."

Because it is.

Owning any pet is good for your health, but there is something special about special dogs.  Something in how much they love you that makes you think, "How could someone not love you back?"  Something in how much they love life that makes you think, "How could someone think you aren't as deserving?"  Something in how plain old happy they are, even though they face something that we might let ruin our life, if it were us instead, and it's an inspiration.

Today is Change a Pet's Life Day, but the truth is, pets change our lives for the better.

So go ahead.  Be selfish.  Adopt.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Not the Phone You're Looking For

I went to a private high school, and I was one of the select few allowed a key to the elevator for some boring health blah, blah, blah.

Like most elevators, this one had an emergency phone.

Unlike most elevators, this one's phone was listed in the phone book.

So it wasn't uncommon for me to answer the phone and chat with some poor parent looking for information on admissions.  Fortunately for them, I worked part-time in the admissions office and could direct them to the right number.  Unfortunately, I graduated some years ago and am no longer available for that service...

(True:  You know the kind of luck I have?  The kind where I drop the key to the elevator down the elevator shaft.  Luckily, I knew rescuing-type people.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Well, That's Just Embarrassing...

I work in the commercial lighting industry.  Friday, I quoted this fixture, and the photo they used to market it, well, I'd post it here, but it's probably NSFW.

That's right--a website I frequently use for work is not safe for work.

But here's the real mystery--is that photo proof that Spiderman is a hipster with a little too much affection for his web?

And who the hell thought, You know what will sell this light fixture?  A skinny, hairy, naked guy in the fetal position.

(True:  In a testament to how awesome my supervisor is, when she saw the web page I'd accidentally-on-purpose pulled up, she laughed and called over the rest of the department to come see.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sometimes, I Think I'm the Only Pineapple in This Fruitbasket.

Thoughts from the past week:

  • It doesn't count if it doesn't set off the fire alarm.
  • I've been drinking just one Mt. Dew for three days now, and I have yet to kill anyone.  Someone give me a ribbon.  Quick now, before I fall asleep.
  • I indulged in a bit too much holiday cheer, and I'm going to Mexico this spring.  Crap.
  • That's why I'm cutting back the Mt. Dew.
  • This might be the worst diet ever.
  • Stink the Cat keeps trying to eat all the expensive dog food.  Isn't it dogs that are supposed to eat everything?  One more example of how my life is totally upside down.
  • Acai juice and my sleepy owl hat will cure just about anything.
  • Bankers do not appreciate sleepy owl hats.
  • Fictitious blue PVC corsets never stop being funny.
The meds the doctor's got me on for this supercold have got me up most of the night.  Like, all week.  I'd like to blame this post on that, but let's be honest, here...

This is my normal.

(True:  But seriously, why is that whenever I make a pizza, the fire alarm goes off, but it doesn't when I set an actual fire?  I feel that might be a design flaw.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

In Defence of Books

I have a collection, or a library.  Call it what you will, I have a lot of books, and I take a lot of pride in that.  I have a knack for choosing good ones in a number of genres.  (My reference collection is particularly eclectic and interesting.)  I've managed to get my hands on a number of unedited pre-release books, a few of which are now worth a fair bit of money.  I have a book by one of my favorite poets, signed just a few weeks before the man passed away.  I have books from friends that we use as an excuse to keep in touch, and I have books I've reread so often pages are falling out.

I recently got my first smart phone, and one of the first apps I downloaded was an e-reader.  It's fantastic, but there are reasons I will always love the "real thing" better...

A new book smells fresh and crisp, like possibility--and nothing can compare to the feeling of cracking a hardcover spine for the first time, and opening the book and yourself to a new world.  An old book smells a little musty and comfortable, like a well-broken-in couch.  It's familiar and cozy, and the plot and characters greet you like old friends.

A book finds a space in your home and settles in.  It never demands attention (until you actually start reading it, if it's a good one), and it never "helpfully suggests" you should be doing something better with your time.  It never gives you a hard time for what you do or how you do it or who you are--books provide a shelter against a world of people who all think you ought to be fundamentally different than you are.  A book never thinks you're too fat.  It never tells you that you're weird, or that you're bad at all the things you should be good at. A book never points out your perceived flaws, and it never makes you feel bad about who you are.

Instead, it gives you adventure, even though you're stuck in a cubicle all day.  It gives you characteristics to aspire to, even in a world where reality TV actors are considered role-models.  It gives you hope in happy endings and in the possiblity that the loose ends will all tie themselves up and that there will somehow be meaning, even though the news tells you all about how everything is going to hell and we're all doomed.

I've got a lot of books.  I've also got a lot of adventure, aspirations, and hope in my life.  And those are all Very Good Things.

(True:  You'll notice that when I do book reviews here, I only give positive reviews.  That's because I'm not going to waste my time reviewing a book I didn't like, and I'm not going to waste your time reading a review I don't think is worth your time.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: Persistence Pays Off

I know I told you yesterday I'd post a real post today, but I lied.  I'm a liar-pants, and I'm sorry.  This is really just an update.

Last week, I wrote about how I've been having trouble leaving Prada at home without her barking up a storm.  I tried just ignoring her before I left, and that seemed to improve things somewhat.

Well, it's been a week, and I can now leave without a single bark!

My dog is the best dog ever to dog.

That is all

(True:  This post is brought to you by six kinds of cold medicine and the letter M.  Sorry if it doesn't make much sense.  I think my head has drifted over to Kenya for the day.)

(Also true:  My nose is so chapped is actually bleeding.  I have succeeded in feeling the sorriest for myself ever.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

This is a true thing.

When you're sick, no matter how old you are, you wish your mom were there to take care of you.  Because the pizza guy is willing to bring you food, but it's unlikely he'll buy you another box of Kleenex when you run out.

If you hadn't gathered, I'm sick.  It's just a standard cold (or possibly the flu; doctors are for wussies), but it's the full-fledged disgusting kind, complete with snot bubbles.  My whole face is leaking.

I'm pretty gross right now.  Fortunately, I have a very fluffy dog whose not-so-secret superpower is cuddling.  (Also something the pizza guy isn't in for.)

Real post tomorrow!

Dana the Biped

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'll Be Beating Them Off With a Stick For Sure

I'm thinking of signing up on one of those dating sites, and I'm hoping you guys can help me edit my profile.

Name:  Dana the Biped (Prada the Puff and Stink are freebies.  Or an entourage, if you think that's cooler.  Whatever.  We're a group package.  I really hope you don't have allergies.)

Date of Birth:  Old enough to buy beer, young enough to still get carded for buying beer.  Old enough for my great-aunts to think I'm a spinster, young enough to want to punch them for it.*

*I do not actually condone great-aunt-punching.

Occupation:  Full-time office drudge, part-time blogger/karaoke jockey.  I'm a "slash"--like the Midwest's version of Paris Hilton, except I know what Walmart is and my boobs are real.

About me:  Well, I've got a fair few skills that would help in a zombie apocalypse.  I know how to use a chainsaw and drive a manual transmission.  I'm great to have around in an emergency--I've set my kitchen on fire enough times to know that panicking helps nothing. 

I love to eat, so I'd be a great test subject for anyone who likes to cook.  And since I'm a total whiny wimp when I'm sick, you have the prime opportunity to play romantic hero by supplying me with tissues, cough drops, and books.  In my free time, I like watching Doctor Who and not wearing pants.

But seriously, how could you even edit such a work of genius and panache?

(True:  I'm limping through the whole day with just one can of Mt. Dew.  I'm impressed that I'm still conscious, frankly.)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Watch This! 18 to Life

I'm not normally a fan of sitcoms.  I usually find them tired and contrived.  But every once in a while, a gem comes along like 18 to Life.

It's kind of like those shows where the teenage couple has illicit sex and the girl ends up pregnant, and they face the disapproval of their whole family and the drama that ensues.  Except here, the teenage couple gets married and has to face the disapproval of their whole family and the comedy that ensues.  And I actually like this--that's a pretty big difference, too.

(This is where I would post a photo, if Blogger let me.  Dammit.)

Tom and Jessie get married based on a game of Truth or Dare, and end up living in the attic of Tom's parents' house.  Which is right next door to Jessie's parents' house.  Tom's parents are rigid and conservative.  Jessie's are hippies who don't mow their lawn.  It's honestly a shock the six of them don't just kill each other in the first episode and call it a wrap.

It's a simple enough premise, which means the clever scripts and comedic skills of the cast can really shine through.  The plot doesn't try to overshoot itself, if that makes sense.  (I mean that as a strength.)  Jessie and Tom are silly, sometimes immature (though they try), and make a cute couple.  I think getting married at 18 is incredibly stupid, but I still find myself rooting for them.  Both sets of parents are believable in a "they do crazy things that stretch your belief, but then they turn around and do something so real that it grounds them firmly in the believable regardless of how crazy they act" kind of way.  The funniest parts of the show are when the four parents are all together--their dynamic is hilarious.

Sadly, the show only got two seasons (Netflix streaming has both), but every episode I've seen so far has actually, literally made me laugh like a loon.  Which is quite a feat, considering my hard, embittered heart.  But by far, my favorite aspect of the show is the sense of sincerity infusing it all, making it not only funny, but truly charming as well.

This is a good one, guys.  I'd recommend it highly.

(True:  Day two of ignoring Prada before I leave home, and she didn't bark at all.  Woohoo!)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: Gaining Perspective and Dealing with the One Step Back Times

A well-behaved dog is an on-going project.  It's not a one-obedience-class-and-done kind of deal.  And sometimes, a dog will seem to lose a good behavior or gain a bad one.  It doesn't mean you have a bad dog--she's just testing her limits, or her routine was changed and she's upset and confused about it, or she's sick.  You know, like when people do something unpleasant--there's usually an underlying reason.  (Or they're just crazy.  One of those.)

Until a few weeks ago, I was bringing Prada to work with me, because my apartment manager was doing some construction right outside my door.  It was a pretty sweet set-up, really.  It was still warm enough for her to spend most of the day sleeping in the car, with a couple of potty breaks and a visit inside for Prada to get loved on by my coworkers.

And now she has to stay at home.  After all that excitement and affection (not to mention the treats I know some of my coworkers have in their desk drawers for just such an occasion), being left behind is not high on Prada's to-do list.

Prior to coming to work with me, Prada was really good about being left alone, as long as we followed a routine--I'd put her in a down-stay and set a treat in front of her.  I would release her from the stay once I was ready to open the door and leave. 

But a situation arose, and her routine was disrupted.  Now, we've got to start fresh, and the old routine hasn't been working.  Prada has been showing her displeasure with me by barking.  Not really excessively--or not excessively if I didn't leave for work fairly early in the morning, when some of my neighbors are still asleep.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been leaving her in the bathroom, hoping the more enclosed space and limited stimulations would help keep her calm--and if not, that the two doors between her and my front door would keep the noise down.  It was mostly the latter, and I've been trying to figure out what my other options are.

This morning, though, I noticed that as I was getting ready in my bedroom, Prada was chilling in the living room.  She was very calm, so I decided to roll with it.  I've learned that if I address her, or sometimes even look at her, she gets excited, so I ignored her as I pulled on my coat and grabbed my purse and left.  I was already to the first landing when she barked, just four times--and more importantly, it was more of a "what?" bark than an "come back and get me right now!" bark.  And then, blessed silence.

So I decided not to go back and get my glasses.

Sometimes, things don't go as planned.  Sometimes, you need to make a new plan.  And sometimes, you just need to pay attention to what your dog is telling you.  But the most important thing to remember is that it's not always going to be smooth sailing.  Keep your perspective--your dog loves you, and isn't actively trying to piss you off.


Speaking of perspective, my friend Donna sent me this:

Because from your dog's perspective, there is nothing wrong with her, either.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Window Licker

I'm prone to really nonsensical dreams.

Sometimes, the people are made up of geometric shapes in primary colors.  I still recognize them.

Sometimes, I dream entirely in green.

And sometimes, there is no "plot" or people, just a series of sentences and phrases that don't make sense paired with really strong feelings about these sentences and phrases that don't make sense.

This morning, I woke up urgently needing poppy-flavored Windex.  So, you know, the next time I need to lick my windows, they taste nice.  (On a side note, what do poppies taste like?  I don't even know what they smell like.)

I just realized, this whole post sounds like I'm on drugs.  To clarify, I am not on drugs.  Unless you count caffeine, in which case I need to join a twelve-step program stat.

(True:  As the holidays are over, I'll be going back to my regular posting schedule.)