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Monday, March 31, 2014

Quadpolar Steez

If you feel a breeze blowing by, it's probably just me as I swing from breathless egoism to wild despair and back again. I used to wonder if I were bipolar but I have since realized that I can't be restricted to just two poles - I'm an explorer.

So, on the up - I got my first freelance writing gig through oDesk, writing for a photography blog out of New Zealand. I wrote about some tips for photography with children (not of children, but how to enjoy photography with children under 10). When that is ready for its big reveal, I will post the link.

On the down - I applied for and was rejected from a freelance writing position with Photojojo. The response to my application, which included the standard letter & resume as well as writing samples, was:
"Your writing was swell (the intro sentence gave me quite a chuckle)! But, it's not quite a fit for the Photojojo steez." 

I think it was the most adorable rejection I've ever gotten.

Then I had the following reactions, in this order:
  • Wait - who are they to say I haven't got the Photojojo Steez?!?
  • What the hell is the Steez?
  • Is this something I was vaccinated against when I was a child?
  • Thank you urbandictionary.com for providing a definition of steez that is only helpful if you already know what steez is.
  • Clearly I don't have this if I don't even know what it is.
  • Oh my god, this means that I am old. I'll probably be dead within a week.
  • Is this really an okay way to write in an email to someone you are rejecting? I'm an adult for chrissake.
  • Oh my god, that means I'm old too!
  • Fools, I'll destroy them all.
  • Or maybe I'll take a nap...because that's what old people do!!
Luckily, I was interrupted by the legal requirement to pick up my children from school and there is absolutely no stewing about self while in the presence of children.

It's funny, I could get 100 positive responses to something and then I get one rejection (which is actually a pretty positive rejection provided that I never find out I am wrong about my understanding of steez) and I'm off the 'clearly my life has been a waste and I should probably just crawl in a hole now' cliff.

After all, I am a genius. I guess I'm just continually surprised by how many people fail to realize this  despite the fact that it has been independently confirmed by at least three people.*

*my mother, my husband, and a homeless guy I offered $10. for confirmation of my genius.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rats! Plague! Dentistry!

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It is never easy to tell people that you have rats. This is true even if they are intentional rats, meaning rats that you intentionally acquired and not the oh-god-why-didn’t-I-clean-up-the-crumbs-under-my-bed-now-I-have-rats kind of rats. 

It started a couple of days before Christmas with both my children standing in the kitchen chanting ‘buy us rats.’ It ended with my explaining to my husband how I had taken his actual, real, hard-earned money and converted it into a pair of rats. Then, it continued with my father dramatically yelling: ‘Plague! Plague!’ as he walked around the house. That did not help my argument.

Buster the Rat
Contrary to many people’s beliefs, however, we have yet to contract the plague and the baby has not, as of yet, been eaten. The rats are very curious, lively, and entertaining little creatures each with its own personality…or ratonality, I guess. Buster, a black and white rat, is enormous and terrified of everything. Even the smallest noise sends him hurtling through anything in his path to hide in his house. Mister, on the other hand, is a drama queen who gnaws on the bars of his cage as if he hasn’t eaten in a fortnight and looks at us with little pleading Oliver Twist eyes, despite the fact that we just watched him consume his weight in cheerios.

They are also hoarders. Everything that goes into their cage eventually gets stuffed into their house until the house actually lifts up off the shelf upon which it sits, leaving a house shaped mass of newspaper, collectibles, and rats. They will continue to accept treats as long as we will offer them and run off to squirrel (?) them away for later. They generally hide them in the paper litter that lines the bottom of their cage. For this reason, they find cage cleaning time particularly distressing as it means the removal of all of their not-so-carefully hidden treats…upon which they had been walked and peeing…but still.

Rat and Mouse. Ha. Ha.
One day, my daughter’s rat sneezed in my nose. I have yet to develop the superpowers I was certain would come as a result of such an interaction. I’m also on the lookout for signs that I am hiding my leftovers under my pillow. So far, I never have leftovers. The rats will come and look right into your face and explore any opportunities that might smell interesting, such as the inside of my nose or the interior of my cat’s ears (much to her great excitement). Or my daughters mouth which was followed by her exclamation “’ook mah, ey clea’ ‘y teeh” as I follow her instructions and notice that nearly the entire head of the rat has disappeared. I do not consider rats to be a substitute for tooth brushing, but if dental care continues to rise in cost, I may consider switching to annual rat debridement plan.

During the day, when they are sleepier, the will snuggle in my coat pocket or behind my head as I sit on the couch and occasionally stretch. At night, they participate in Olympic level training exercises on their wheel, at least until Buster hears a noise and then he goes back to hiding in his house. I think Mister mocks him.

Mister Contemplates Self
My mother was concerned that it would be difficult to know if we had two rats of the same sex or if we would soon have baby rats. She based this worry on her very accurate memory of my first foray into rodent ownership. A boy I went to school with gave me two male mice. Not a great deal later in my life, I had 32 mice. Despite the paucity of information presented in my school’s sex education curriculum, I quickly developed a male/female mouse theory that could never, however, be verified because mice penis’ are very small and mice also bite. I don’t remember what became of the mice.

A Sharp Shinned Hawk Outside my window
In any case, this is not a concern that one needs to have in rat ownership, as the male rats are very clearly identifiable. For a male human to have a proportionate relationship with his manhood, it would be necessary for him to walk around with a pair of basketballs taped to the back of his shorts. You can sex a rat from 3 houses away. I am pleased that this miracle of the cycle of life is not something that I will have to explain to my children. After all, I have only just recovered from answering my son’s questions about sex that arose as the result of playing Sims. As long as they learn about sex from the internet and video games rather than relationships among animals, I feel like all is right with the world.

As to whether or not it is acceptable to keep animals in cages I will say this. We do give our rats floor time everyday and, in comparison to the footage I have seen of their wild cousins, my rats rarely have to worry about rising sewage or hungry eagles. I’ve given them tiny complaint forms to fill out should they wish to express comments or concerns as well as the number for a rat help hotline.

Sometimes, though, I will catch one of them looking right at me. Staring directly at me for several moments on end as if contemplating the bridge between us; examining this interspecies relationship that has created this trust between such disparate beings, like tiny philosophers. Then, generally, I realize it’s because I’m eating a cracker. So I share.


T-Rex Weddings

I had my first meeting for my internship with event photographer Beth Ely. Somehow, I managed to make it through a design degree without ever doing an internship. I don't know, maybe there was a point at which people thought that academic experience was what you were supposed to be getting while in school. Crazy, right? In any case, this is the first time that an internship makes sense for me because I am trying to learn a set of skills from a working professional in a career that I actually want to be involved in. I always knew I didn't want to practice interior design (okay, not always but approximately two semesters after beginning my master's degree).

I am actually somewhat terrified. I am used to being an expert; an authority in my field. Now, it is back to being a novice. Also, there are people involved. And I have to stay awake at night. The only thing missing is giant spiders that crawl down the back of my shirt without warning (typical spider warning: hey, lady, we are going to climb down the back of your shirt...). Beth is very enjoyable though and I met with her for the first time on Monday at her house. I was also interviewed by her english bulldog Winston. His major concern seemed to be whether or not I would get along well with his stuffed frogs. I think it went well.