Animal Interactions

I’m super busy today and don’t really have time to write, but I may as well take a few minutes while I eat to mention a few things.

I booked Friday off as a vacation day and went to the zoo. It was a beautiful day, and – unfortunately – a PA Day. So there were tons of hairless apes and their offspring around to ruin my zen. And my zen was not that zen-y, as I have been rather beaten down emotionally as of late.

Anyway, I saw Hudson the polar bear I love for the first time in almost 4 years! I knew it was him pretty much immediately, and while he went about his own thing, he did turn that articulating nose of his my way a few times, which was more than enough to convince me to go with my plan of visiting him as often as possible while he’s here, in the hopes that he’ll get to know me a little again. We’ll see.

He is enormous now – like, bigger than his father at 1200-ish lbs! Kind of horrifying, really. And I admit to wondering if polar bears can actually weigh TOO much. Like, might he develop arthritis or heart problems after dragging around so much weight for a few years? Has anyone studied such things? It would have to be done with captive bears, because all of the bears in the wild are basically starving to death. Obesity is not an issue for them.

Anyway, aside from his insane size, Hudson is every bit the bear I know and love. His face, the way he walks and plays and his Mona Lisa smile – all exactly as I remember. And while I didn’t cry like I thought I would (I’m all over the emo map lately), I was very happy to see him. I hope to connect with him again over the winter. Maybe that will help me reconnect with everything else again.

‘Cause if the bear can’t do it, no one can!

But I suspect he can. 🙂

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Volunteering has gone pretty well the past few weeks, too. I’m still taking it week to week, and things haven’t quite settled down yet from all the previous upheaval, but they are getting there. Most of the animals who are left seem to be doing better than they were at first, so that’s a good thing. There’s still a lot I’m not sure about, and I’m taking it week to week – maybe indefinitely – but yesterday was mostly good, so I will probably go this weekend, too.

I bonded with the skunks more yesterday. I actually took a few minutes to get down to their level and talk to them and pet Pepe (I won’t touch the others until they are more comfortable with me in general), and by the time I left, they all seemed fairly okay with me being in their space. We’ll see if that carries through to next week, but for now, it felt like a big step for us.

I also got to chat a bit more with Rapunzel the red lorrie, which was amazing. We’d had our first “conversation” a couple of weeks ago, and that small bond seemed to carry over to yesterday, as well. She came down to my level and even brought a pea from her food dish over to eat next to me while I talked to her. We’re not friends yet, I wouldn’t say, but there’s a bit of familiarity there now, at least.

The biggest surprise of the day was Willow the capybara. I have no idea…apparently she’s a bit horny right now, but for some reason she decided I was the one to love yesterday. We’ve not really interacted much before. I’ve pet her once or twice, and I usually say hello to her when passing by the enclosure she shares with the kangaroos, but I’d never even been in there until yesterday. I went in with the other volunteer, who was going to check their water to see if it needed freshening up before we left for the day. Willow came running over excitedly as soon as I got inside, and jumped up so her front feet were on my back (she would have knocked me over if it had been the front, I think – totally was not expecting that!), and then ran back and forth in front of me a few times before finally just standing still so I could scratch under her jaw, which she loves. As I did that, though, she started licking my forearm, then rubbing her teeth and cheek against it while drooling all over the place.

I guess she was marking me? I have no idea. Just that she was loving me and ignoring everyone else for a bit there.

I’ve never had an experience even remotely like that with her before.

Will be interesting to see how she responds to seeing me next time!

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Commuting And Dating

This morning on the subway, a quasi-cute guy offered to switch spots with me so I could lean against the wall instead of standing in the middle of the connecting section between cars. I usually go stand in that area because most people don’t, and there is always more space there than, say, near the doors, where everyone feels the need to congregate. For reasons I don’t understand.

Anyway.

I had my headphones on and had moved to stand in between the two guys who were already in the connecting section of that part of the train, as usual. I was reading headlines over people’s shoulders, gawking at the various ads placed around my part of the train, and vaguely listening to whatever was playing on my headphones. Just thinking and riding along, as I do.

All of a sudden, the guy behind me kind of waved his hand to one side of me – not in an annoying way, just in a way that suggested he may have been trying to get my attention, or that he was possibly just stretching. I turned my head toward his hand, and he lifted his phone up next to me and pointed at it. He’d opened his notepad on there and typed, “Would you like to stand against the wall for support?”

Since the new trains have been in play, I can’t remember anyone ever offering me that spot before. Occasionally I get offered a seat, but never the wall, nor even a doorway.

I turned to look at him, and smiled as I thanked him but declined, and he smiled back in such a way as to make him cuter than he perhaps actually was. I don’t mean that in a cruel way – I just wasn’t sure how else to word it. In essence, it was a very sweet smile, and engaging, if only for a fleeting moment, in this case. I think that’s one of the things that I like about people; when they smile at me nice. It makes them stand out to me, more than someone who is just kind of there. It makes them seem more present, or something.

I resumed my transit reverie, and not long after, I read a headline over someone’s shoulder that caught my eye. It said something about listing 5 honest reasons why the writer was on a dating hiatus, or something. I’m often curious as to why some people choose to be single (I mean, this article was obviously written by a woman, though I never confirmed it, to be honest), especially when I want to see if any of their reasons align with what mine might be.

None of the reasons listed this time did, however.

The writer stated that they were in their early 30’s, or so (bless), and seemed to be in that stage of life where all of your friends are marrying and having children, and you’re not, so you start thinking about whether or not you want to do that, too. Or something. I can’t really remember what I was thinking back then.

At any rate, there were the usual reasons like, “I don’t like the options I have to choose from” and “I’m tired of having sex with someone I like rather than someone I love”. Those kinds of things. I can’t even remember all five reasons right now.

Rather than try to read more of it over a fellow traveller’s shoulder, I started thinking about why I’m on a dating hiatus myself. I don’t think I ever would have called it that, for starters. I say simply, “I don’t date”, but I guess that’s not entirely true, either. I think I would date, if I happened to bump into someone who intrigued me. I’m just not in the mood to go out looking for someone to intrigue me. I’m lazy like that these days.

Obviously, the main reason I choose not to date right now is because I have feelings for someone who isn’t able to reciprocate them in the same way, and there isn’t really a way to replace that person with someone else. Rather, another person will come along someday who intrigues me in a different way, and that’s where my heart will go. But I don’t think it can be forced. Whenever I’ve tried in the past, I wind up feeling angry at myself for trying so hard to “settle for less” – or at least for trying to force myself to ignore my actual feelings and feign other ones. Plus, it’s obvious to me in those situations that I’m not giving it my all, and while the other person may or may not deserve more of me, that I’m not giving it means whatever it is will be destined to fail, anyway.

And that’s something, too – the people I potentially want to get to know better don’t usually feel the same way about me, and those who do are often of no interest to me. I realize that could devolve into a “poor me” melodramatic situation (and it has before), but for me right now, as I write this, it’s more just frustrating, and tiring, and not something I’m interested in diving into the thick of at this point in my life. I’d rather go home to the dog and cats and be content than try to force myself to feel differently about anyone.

I can make up all the “reasons” in the world – I don’t have time, I don’t like people, I’m focused on other things, I want to stay home with the animals, people are stupid, I’m tired, I’m broke, I lose myself in relationships and I’m just beginning to like myself again, I’m still in love with my ex, I don’t want to date just for the sake of dating, I’m complicated and no one really gets me so I’d rather be alone, I am a rock, I am an island…wait…scratch that last part. At any rate, all of those things hold at least a grain of truth, and there are still more not listed. But the simple fact is that dating hasn’t gone well for me so far – it’s difficult, and consuming and I’m not good at it and inevitably wind up feeling like a failure in life, and who wants to feel that all the time? Who wants to feel like a disappointment to someone they care about?

I don’t, and I can’t even stop feeling like I let my friends down constantly, let alone someone with whom I am in a romantic relationship. I mean, it’s never all bad, of course. Sometimes it’s amazing, to feel connected to someone else. It’s amazing to feel like I’m in love, and that I am loved in return. It’s amazing to not feel alone in the world sometimes. But when those feelings go away, what replaces them feels worse, usually.

I think mainly I don’t date because I’m afraid of feeling all that again. Which I realize I’ve written to seem like it’s a reason, but I know that – like the entire above list – is not a reason so much as it is an excuse.

And for now, I am fine with that. Not great, but also not forever. For now, though, I am fine with making excuses. When that changes – and it will – I’ll make the choice to do things differently again. But it’ll be my choice, and therein is where I find my satisfaction.

Because the understanding that I am actually okay either way is perhaps the most amazing feeling of all.

Expanding On My Happy List

As always, I have a lot on my mind, and today I’m not entirely sure what I feel like talking about here, so I was thinking I’d expound upon some of my happy list from yesterday.

  • getting people to talk about their passions
      • The Mind Reels was initially started because we realized that no one was really talking about the things we loved (as far as TV and movies and the like), so we decided to talk about them ourselves. That quickly turned to podcasting, because talking is faster than writing, sometimes. And within weeks we were conducting our first actual interview with a film director! I think that was the start of things changing for us, because that director (Jeremy Lalonde) hooked us up with interviews for some of his cast, and one of them (the wonderful Mary Krohnert) put us in touch with Lost Girl cast member, Rick Howland. From there, we spent much of our time pursuing interviews with people we wanted to talk to, who were creating the content we love.
      • I’m not sure when it happened, exactly, but at some point, interviews started coming to us. This was different in that it was often for projects and/or people that we might never had been made aware of otherwise. That new aspect added an additional level of excitement to each interview, because not only did it expand on our awareness of content we might enjoy, but it also gave us the opportunity to create a casual, comfortable and fun atmosphere for our guests, which allowed them to open up more about their passions in general. Instead of just asking the same rote questions that go hand-in-hand with every industry interview, we started getting people to talk about themselves, as well as their projects, and that’s made all the difference, I find.
      • I love the way a person will light up when they talk about the things they love, things that interest them, and things that challenge them to be more. It brings out a side of a person that is among the best of human qualities (and we really don’t have very many, so I treasure the ones I find), and that I play a part in bringing that part of them to light makes me feel kinda special, too.
  • being around non-human animals
      • I mean, there is just something so pure about non-humans. Not always “good”, I guess, but it’s like they are on a whole different level from us. They aren’t calculating which foot to put forward, which face to wear, nor do they edit what they communicate in the hopes of not offending anyone’s delicate sensibilities. If my cat, Kate, didn’t like you, she had no qualms about peeing on your shoe. There’s no fake-ness with animals – if you are paying attention and taking the time to know and understand them, you know exactly where you stand. You also learn not to put what you think they are thinking ahead of what they are actually thinking; you learn to admit that you don’t know. At least I do. I admit I don’t know much at all, but I feel like that leaves me more open to learning, as compared to some people who think they know more than they actually do.
      • Anyway, for me, one of the things I love about being around animals – aside from all the love itself that they sometimes give out – is that I don’t have to pretend, either. I just have to show up and be present, and they expect very little from me beyond that. Actually, some don’t even expect that much. Some just want to be fed, and some just want to be left alone. To be able to inhabit a space with another individual who asks you for nothing is really quite liberating. I get to be in their presence, I get to be myself, and things can just be quiet for a while. That they usually don’t care whether I am there or not is also quite humbling. It’s a good reminder that we are not always the shit. We go through our lives looking for validation and attention and for others to just see us and recognize that we are there – we want to be seen. Other animals, for the most part, really don’t give a crap about such seemingly superficial needs. They just are, and the idea that there are times when I can just be, as well, is incredibly appealing to me.

That’s it for now, as I have to get back to work. Maybe I’ll cover some of the other stuff tomorrow.

Oh, and just because it’s still cool to me (and falls nicely into my own personal quest for attention and validation), it was one year ago today that my status as a Guinness World Record holder was posted on the GWR website, and we went public with the announcement of our success!