Ink Addiction

Totally running on fumes today, guys! Haha

However, it’s Friday, and while I have a ton to do over the weekend, it’s still the weekend, and on some level I have to believe that it’ll hold some sort of rejuvenation. I mean, time with critters alone is always time well spent.

I’ve been thinking about my next tattoo, which is ridiculous, because this most recent one is still healing. On the surface, it looks mostly healed, but still itches quite often, so I guess it’s still working on itself. Of the two that I now have, it’s definitely the more spontaneous. A conversation one night with a friend led to booking the appointment mere weeks later. My first tattoo is much bigger, and was a good year or more in the planning. I’d actually started off with a completely different idea that was on my mind for a couple of years, or so, and then made a joke one day that suddenly seemed like a perfect idea, and so changed the whole concept and waited until I knew for certain how I wanted it to look before booking the consultation.

Even at that point, talking to the artist, the flaws in my idea were pointed out to me and upon further discussion, we worked out the final piece together. I don’t think either of us expected it would turn out as beautifully as it did, either, so it was pretty much a perfect first experience for me!

After that, I still had my original concept on my mind, but also was struck by another idea, one which was again more personal. It was related in part to my first novel, and in part to Brody’s person/my close friend, who passed away. She is incorporated into my first piece a little bit, too, but the focal point is definitely the bear who changed me. For what I thought would be the second piece, she would again have a slight presence, but the focus would be on an image from my book.

That one, of course, has also not happened yet, so now I have two tattoos and two other designs in mind…and a vague notion floating around in my mind for another. This one would be small, too, I think, because I can afford those more easily. Sometimes I get impatient, after all! I don’t usually decide on a location for it until I have a fairly clear idea of what it’ll look like, and in my mind I am still reserving the spots I wanted to put the other two designs, but my other problem is really that I want to be able to look at my tattoos whenever I want. They end up being something I love, and because they are on me, then there’s a part of me that I love, which wasn’t the case before. So now I am more obsessed than ever, not only about getting more ink done, but also about thinking of things that will fit in places that I can see pretty much any time.

Which is ironic, because the first design idea I had was planned – and is still planned – to go on my shoulder blade. It’s an area I not only can’t see great, but would also require tricky aftercare for someone who lives alone. Still, though, it feels right there, so that’s where it will go if I ever get it done.

In the meantime, though, I’ve got this vague idea, and combined with a hankering for more, it’ll be interesting to see how things go over the next while. So ridiculous. Yet one of the prettiest addictions ever, really.

In unrelated news (I assume it’s unrelated, anyway), I keep getting this phantom burning sensation on my forearm, almost opposite where the newest tattoo is. I think it might be an MS thing…phantom burning. Will have to Google that and see if anyone else has similar sensations.

Oh MS, you do keep us on our toes, figuratively speaking, don’t you? Always an adventure.

Edit: Burning sensations is a completely common symptom of MS. Illnesses (like the cold I’m finally getting over), not getting enough rest (like me all the time lately), and overheating (which is coming up during the summer) can all cause such sensory symptoms to crop up.

So, no surprise at all, really!

On Waving Back

Walking to the subway this morning on my way to work, I passed a man and his dog. As I approached, the dog looked up at me all friendly like we knew each other, so I said, “Hi puppy dog” and left my arm dangling at my side as I walked by. The dog stuck its muzzle up against my hand, and gave me a quick lick in greeting. Made me smile.

Then, getting off the subway on my way to work, I watched the usual hoards of other passengers – all of us making our various ways to our various destinations – shuffle right on by the little kid in the stroller who was waving at them.

Not one of them waved back.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I hate people as much as anyone, if not more. But even I am not above waving at a little kid who’s waving at me. It’s just not done. It’s practically an automated, instinctive response. Little kid waves, you wave back. So I waved back.

And he didn’t see me.

So, here we have a number of interesting scenarios and the effects of each:

Dog sees me, I see dog, we interact for a split second – day made for at least one of us. Moment made for both.

Kid sees a bazillion people, waves at them, none see him so no one waves back. Or rather, one sees him, waves back, but he doesn’t see it, so it may as well not have happened, from his point of view. To his mind, no one waved back at him. Watching his little face register the realization of his own invisibility among the morning masses was actually kind of sad. He’s too little to feel like that, and yet, even if I projected most of what he might be feeling or thinking, the little hand faltering and his smile falling away as it became more tentative and unsure can not be disputed. I’m sure he’ll wave again, because little kids have the information retention of a rubber ball, but I’m also sure that, somewhere deep inside, he’ll remember how that felt, to not be noticed. And it’ll affect him in small ways going forward.

Then there’s me – I’m used to not being noticed. I usually strive to not be noticed. But I felt bad that I didn’t make his moment with a wave-back that he could see, and – in more selfish terms – it would have made my morning even better to have felt like I did something for the little kid, as much as the dog did for me. Like paying it forward, but for how it would make me feel.

And finally, there are the masses; those who missed the wave all together. How much better could their moments have been had they just looked up and given a second to notice the world around them? It’s like we all walk around in our own little bubbles of reality, wherein nothing and no one else exists unless we let them in. It’s a necessary skill to have, to be sure, because the onslaught of humanity’s dark underbelly (especially in cities and particularly public transit) is often too much to bear. But then we miss things that would make it seem less overwhelmingly negative, even just in little ways. We miss hearts, we miss sunsets and sunrises, we miss worms on the sidewalk just trying to reach grass before the sun bakes them where they “stand”.

We miss lots of gross things, too, like hairy ass cracks and piles of vomit on the sidewalk.

But we also miss licks and tail wags from doggies, and confident, friendly waves from little kids. We miss some of the things that could help shape us into better people. We miss things that could make our lives suck a little less. We have to find a way to strike a balance between things that we do notice and interact with, and things that we don’t. It’s maybe impossible, though.

Because sometimes, those things also miss us.

Hesitant Vacations

I got a list this morning at work of vacation dates for people in my department so that I could keep track of when I need to be picking up the slack in other areas when key people are off. It made me realize I should probably book a couple myself, especially for something like Fan Expo. It’s on a holiday weekend and those are usually the ones that people like to extend with their vacation days. Since I won passes for Fan Expo this year, I decided to at least make sure I booked the time off before one of the people I need to cover for books it off instead!

So I worked out the dates and submitted the vacation request for the day before, all 4 days of Fan Expo, and then returning to work on the following Tuesday, because the Monday is a holiday. It uses up 3 vacation days, but actually gives me 6 days off in a row. Even though a hefty percentage of those will be spent crammed into a convention hall. Still. Not too shabby.

Then I decided to do something I’ve never really done before. I booked off three more mini-staycations…for no reason whatsoever! Just because I can! Whaaat?!

Each one is essentially just extra-long weekends, using 2 vacation days for Thursdays and Fridays and returning to work the following Mondays. One in each of May, June and July. Some of those months have 3-day long weekends, andyway, and these mini stay-cations are not related to those. They are extras. And I have no particular plans for any single one of them.

Usually when I book vacations, it’s always for something, even when it’s just a day or two. There’s always an event, or a trip, or a trip for an event, or some other specific place I have to be or thing I need to do. When I was taking weekly Avonex shots to treat my MS, I usually had to burn a vacation day just to recover, if I was already doing something over the weekend and couldn’t spend a day feeling like ass. As my level of fatigue grew even more once I switched to a daily medication with less severe side effects, I started booking an extra day before or after a busy weekend, just so I could have one day where additional rest was an option. Though it’s always hard not to use those as zoo days, too, depending on the weather and my energy level.

Anyway, before all this MS stuff, I really only ever took vacation so that I could do other things – film festivals, conventions…even most of my trips have been for one of those things. I went to Mexico once for two weeks, but we filled it with day trips around the country. Still, it ended up being more restful than any other vacation I’d had. Probably because we were gone for the extra week so we actually could fit everything in and yet still just laze around on the beach sometimes.

And now here I am, more than a decade later, booking off a few long weekends for which I have no set plans…and it’s kind of scary! Haha

I chose the dates, and had no reason for picking those specific ones except for the fact that no one else had yet. I feel so…carefully carefree!

Is that a thing? Can it be? ‘Cause that’s how I’m feeling.

The doubts set in pretty much as soon as I hit the “Submit” button on the final vacation request form. Why am I wasting days when I am trying to bank as many as I can for unforeseen issues that could arise at any time? What if something comes up later and I use more days after I’ve used some for no reason? What if something comes up during those three to four months that I want to do? Do I take even more das, or see if I can change them? Every time I take days off things seem to get messed up or fall behind, and it usually becomes harder on me to get caught up again after, so why am I doing this to myself? Maybe I should cancel one or two of the requests and just work them, anyway.

I even gave reasons why it was okay to not approve them all, or ask that some of them be shortened or changed in some way. Like, from two days, it can’t get much shorter, but anyway – my brain immediately started trying to reason a way out of taking reason-less vacations.

They were all approved…pretty much in record time, I think.

And I let them be. It’s been a couple of hours now and I still have four small vacations coming to me over the next 4-5 months. As well as the 3 other long weekends that aren’t Labor Day (which is the only one mixed into my extended vacation time for Fan Expo purposes).

Part of me will continue to worry about the possibility of backfire, especially after this last mini-vacation went.

But another part of me is pretty excited, and looking forward to (hopefully) not over-working myself when I’m supposed to just be relaxing and hanging with the critters I love!

That Was Weird

I had kind of a strange night last night.

Actually, I guess some of it was probably overflow from Sunday, as well. I’d gone to a movie and had a bit of a weird moment before going home. Mostly, though, everything seemed to pile into last night.

There were some odd, vivid dreams I can’t remember. Or rather, I have leftover emotion from them but I don’t really know why.

I thought I heard a woman’s voice say my name when I was alone in the apartment.

There were other random sounds that I never figured out; things falling, and the like.

And the animals were insane, too. The cats kept bickering, which made Brody bark at them, and then he took a run at them one time and freaked them all out. Well, freaked Jack Bear out a lot, and Piper a little, but Flynn was in the other room, so she was okay. After I made sure no one was actually hurt or anything, Brody insisted I pick him up and hold him. Even when I was standing, he put his front paws on my legs and refused to get down. He needed some Momma Sue cuddles, apparently. Not for long – just a minute or so. But he’s never really done that before. Not while I’m on my feet, trying to cross a room.

They all made it hard to work on my super secret project, that’s for sure. But I still got some things accomplished.

Part of that, too, is likely due to the fact that I had 4 days off work in a row and therefore spent more tme with them than usual, then was back at work yesterday. All four little faces watched me leave from the front hall in the morning, and I think part of the chaos was just that they were happy I was back.

Not all of it, though. Not by a long shot.

At one point, around 2am, Brody leaped to his feet and ran into the livingroom, barking the whole time. I jumped out of bed and turned on a light to see what had gotten him so worked up (he’s the most chill dog ever, and rarely barks except at the cats when they are misbehaving), but I couldn’t figure that out, either. He just stood in the livingroom looking at me in the light, and after I made sure he was okay, we went back to bed. The commotion woke the cats, but eventually they settled back down, too.

I don’t know. There seemed to be a lot of upheaval, or something, but no discernable cause for most of it. And it wasn’t necessarily bad, exactly. Confusing and weird, but not in a way that left any residual bad feelings. I feel a little off today – to the point where I couldn’t think of anything else to write about because this is occupying most of my immediate thought – but it’s not exactly a negative sensation at all.

Instead, it feels more like I’m missing something.

For Hari

So, a few words about this tiger thing from the weekend, just because it’s still on my mind, and because it reminded me of so many other incidents where people know better but go ahead being ignorant, anyway.

Or maybe they are actually ignorant. It all looks the same to me now. I’d lose at a game called Ignorant or Just An Asshole, I suspect.

Anyway, in case you haven’t heard, on Saturday, a woman jumped a fence into a tiger enclosure at the Toronto Zoo so she could retrieve her hat. It was a beautiful day and the zoo was crowded, so there were plenty of onlookers to view and judge her, including swarms of young children. One guy called her out, saying she was a moron and a disgrace to everyone else’s kids. Another woman stepped in quickly to break up the fight, and a cell phone video of the incident went viral and was quickly picked up by news outlets around the globe. You can view it here.

(I used that link because it contains the least amount of incorrect information – does no one get the facts before they write a story anymore?)

Now, there was a second fence, but if the tiger is upset enough, there is no guarantee that it’s enough to keep him from getting to her. There was no zoo staff member immediately on hand, so the woman took it upon herself to go get her own hat, rather than wait on assistance. Everyone can – and does – judge for themselves the intelligence level of that decision. Despite the signs and bylaws and the like, of course. I mean, most of our laws and rules are really just in place to protect stupid people from themselves, and to protect others from stupid people.

Neither common sense nor common decency were on display at the zoo in those moments.

Watch the tiger. His name is Hari (well, his full name is not something I can say, let alone spell), and he’s one of the handsomest tigers I know. He is usually pretty chill, and likes stalking his keepers from the bushes whenever they want to move him to a different enclosure. He gives slow blinks, for pete’s sake! He’s a beautiful, amazing cat.

And in this video, he is upset.

His space has been violated by a stranger…the equivalent of me inviting myself into that woman’s home. Maybe be standing over her bed when she wakes up in the morning. How safe would she feel? I mean, I’m just standing there, not doing anything. What’s the big deal? Maybe she’d invite me to stay; offer me a treat.

More likely, she’d scream and call the police. For at least trespassing, unless there is also a charge for just being a creeper.

Is what she did to Hari any different? She displayed zero respect for him, zero respect for his space, and zero concern for his safety. That she also didn’t care much for her own safety is irrelevant – the world is over-populated as it is. I don’t care for her safety, either, really. But I do care for his. Hari likes to pace along the side of his enclosure, especially before or after food, or if he knows there is a zoo staff member under the bridge. But the way he is jumping and bounding from side to side in the video clip – he is clearly agitated and upset and probably some combination of anger, fear and frustration. There is a trespasser and he can’t do anything about it. He can’t stop her.

My heart breaks seeing him like that. And I hate that woman for causing him to feel anything other than safe and happy and cared for. She has no right to do that, not to Hari, and not to anyone else.

Same with those jerk kids who decided Humphrey was lonely, so they hopped the fence and went over to stick their fingers into his enclosure, video-selfie-ing the whole thing.

Same with people who throw garbage and/or food into any of the animal enclosures.

Same with the guy near the gorillas with his GoPro on the end of a selfie stick and hung it out over the glass so he could get a better angle…which caused Nassir to run to his mom and baby sister, part in fear, part as a show of protection…and freaked the whole troop out because they didn’t know what it was.

Same with the…I have no words bad enough to describe them…”people” who go around shooting cats with pellet guns and leaving them to die.

I hate anyone who deliberately causes another animal to feel fear or panic or anger just because they can. Close on their heels, I hate anyone who does it unintentionally…and then keeps on doing it.

As for this woman – she upset our big, beautiful boy. And while I’m sure she knows now that she’s an idiot and has seen her fool self on the news the past few days, I’m not sure she feels any remorse. That bothers me. The lack of respect bothers me.

But I guess what bothers me most is that it’ll happen again. Over and over. Respect needs to be taught, and we’re just not learning, apparently.

What was that line in The Jungle Book? About how sending Mowgli to the village was a bad idea because they’ll ruin him.

They’ll make a man out of him.”

Bedtime

Running out of today time, so will keep this short.  Plus, I really need to sleep.  I got up and stayed up this morning in the hopes of getting more accomplished from my list, and while it looked pretty dire for a bit there, I’m fairly pleased with all that I did ,an age to get done, so that’s something.

Overall, though, I still really fail at vacationing.

I’ve been spending the last several hours working on my super secret project.  Time is running out to complete it, and I am quite happy with the progress I made today.  I wish I had the time, patience, technology or any combination of those to do a better job, but given how much I am “winging it”, I’m actually pretty happy with what I’ve got done so far.  There will be more to add tomorrow, but I got several big chunks done, and now it’s mostly a matter of stringing the chunks together into one whole.

Sorry I’m being so vague.  It’ll be much easier to talk about in once the secret has been revealed.  I think it’ll actually be pretty cool when I can finally share what I’ve done, too.

Soon.

I was going to share a link to an interview I did a few years ago, but my tech is moving so slow that even copy/paste is a pain in the ass today.

So screw it.  I’m going to bed.

Introversion

I am an introvert, just like pretty much everyone else is, to some degree.  The difference with me is that I learned to hide it pretty well.  I mean, some people always knew I was shy – they just never know how much.  Some would say I’m not really shy or introverted at all.  They would jut be wrong.  Some even now already want to argue the veracity of my claim.  It’s an argument that you just can’t win.

I’ve gotten too good at hiding.

I learned how to not drawn attention to myself – negative nor positive – and then I learned how to control the amount of attention I do receive.  Because as soon as someone notices you trying to dissolve into the woodwork, they pounce.  I’ve seen it happen over and over to other unfortunate souls.  No one wants to be called out on their hiding spot, let alone the fact that they are hiding at all.

So I learned to hide in plain sight.  I learned to guard the things that matter most to me – the things that make me who I am – while revealing just enough to keep pouncer-types off my scent.  I taught myself to not react, or to control the reaction.  I don’t volunteer any more information than necessary.  And all that’s necessary is whatever it takes to not get called out.

Which is actually not much at all, especially these days.  In today’s society, it’s easier than ever to exist almost entirely inside of one’s head.  The Internet in particular is an introvert’s greatest dream; a playground wherein you can be anyone you want to be, and when you tire of one persona, it’s super simple to switch to the next.  Everything exists at the surface level, and it’s not difficult at all to appear as though you are revealing something that resides below the surface, while not really revealing anything at all.

Guys, I really like bears.  And beers.

See?  I’ve put it in writing, so it must be true.  And whether it is or isn’t doesn’t matter, because the statements themselves are superficial.  There’s no depth, so they can be taken at face value or left behind.  True success is in the possibility that it might make you respond with your opinion of bears and beers.  Then I can avoid talking about myself completely.

Usually I don’t even voice an opinion unless I know what those around me already think about the subject.  Though, to be fair, I also don’t often form opinions until having more information.  Not hard and set ones, at least.  My opinions are often fluid.  I’ve become less absolutes and more gray area as I get older.

The things that matter most are closely guarded secrets.  As are the ones you share with me, in point of fact.  Sometimes it’s frustrating to not really be seen nor valued for any real quality about myself, but I’m not sure anyone else is that different.

We all like staying inside, to some extent.

A fri nod asked yesterday what else was going on with my life, beyond what I share online.  I had no answer to that, and shrugged it off.  Not because there was nothing to say, but because I’ve become so accustomed to only talking about whichever carefully chosen items I’ve shared on the interwebs that it never really occurred to me to have an answer ready should someone happen to ask for more.  Most people don’t ask for more.  We all exist inside our minds, and it can be pretty exhausting.  Having to dig deeper into our own psyche, let alone someone else’s, is more effort than most of us want to put in!