Life, Transit, and Holding Onto Alysia

Had kind of a harrowing morning – not for me, but for others. Came the closest I think I ever have to watching not one, not two, but three squirrels get mowed down by vehicles while I was out with Brody. One was literally right next to us, but on the street instead of safely on the sidewalk. Luckily all of them escaped, but my heart did not. The drivers didn’t even slow down. There’s zero need to be driving that fast on a residential street, especially with a school right there. You can slow down enough to at least try and avoid taking a life. I mean – it’s life. If you can’t respect a life, then what else is there, really?

Then on the subway a woman next to me collapsed just after we left the station, so we had to wait until we got to the next station before the train could stop and someone could come take a look at her. I feel like that whole system is flawed. Everyone around her reacted appropriately – she was determined to get up so people helped her and got her into a seat while another person activated the emergency alarm after someone else said to. Part of me was thinking that it wasn’t really necessary – the woman insisted she was fine, although they did help her off the train once we got to the next station. And she said she didn’t need medical assistance, which – I don’t know if she ended up getting any, or not. But everyone in that part of the train reacted quickly to take care of her, which was great to witness.

However, there’s also the delay to the entire line every time that alarm is activated. They have to stop and investigate, and the vast majority of the time the person isn’t in need of medical/fire/police intervention, so much as they just need some air. Which – don’t even get me started on how the transit system neglects to take into account the fact that we are all dressed for being outside, and therefore do not need the heat cranked when we step on board the train during the winter months. There’s not enough room for all those people AND their layers of clothing and outerwear once they’ve removed as much as possible to adapt to the sudden heat. It’s ridiculous. Just circulate the damn air, already.

Anyway, what was I trying to say? I know it’s unrealistic to expect people to wait a moment before activating the emergency alarm, to ensure that it’s actually an emergency that requires further intervention and assistance. But at the same time, activating it immediately didn’t make any difference. The train still had to proceed to the next station before anything could be done, and by then the woman was doing much better, and could have just gotten off at the next stop, anyway. I guess I just wish there was a way to alert the train operators to what was going on without having to hold up the whole line longer than necessary. I don’t know. I don’t really have any solutions. I just was thinking about it this morning after everything happened because it didn’t feel quite right to me, while also realizing I didn’t know how it could be better or more efficient.

Yesterday I wrote about the end of my first relationship, and actually still feel pretty good about the process of writing it all down. I wrote most of the words I didn’t want to write, and the few I left out actually weren’t required for getting the point across, so I call that a win. I wouldn’t say it was easy, at all, but it definitely wasn’t as difficult as I feared it would be. I also didn’t feel down after; my different mood and mindset since starting this little project has remained in effect, despite reliving some of the more heart-shattering moments from my little lesbian relationship journey. That process may also be somewhat responsible for the little crush I have going on lately, which I haven’t had for quite some time. Maybe it’s a coincidence and they aren’t at all related, but maybe it’s not. Either way, I intend to continue with both writing and crushing for the next little bit, at least, and see how things go. Like, for me, I mean. I don’t expect anything in my real life to change, but I am thus far noticing a change inside me – in terms of mood and state of mind, mostly – and so far it’s all positive, so I want to see if that continues at all, or if it’s just a temporary high brought on by alcohol and lack of sleep. Haha

Last night and today, I’ve been thinking a lot about Alysia. I realized that I am starting to forget things; about her, and about our friendship. She’s been gone, like, 2 and a half years now. That’s far longer than I knew her. We were friends for months, not years, and while the length of time has zero to do with how much I loved that kid (our connection wasn’t instant, but still pretty close), it came as a shock to realize not only how long it’s been already, but also how much longer there is to go without her being in my life. I’m starting to feel almost disconnected from her now. Not in an “I’m over it” kind of way, but rather in the sense that I can’t feel her as well anymore, her presence in my world. I’m forgetting little details, and I only have a small yet finite number of my own memories to draw from as it is. That I’ve known and loved her mom and brother so much longer than I knew her is…not wrong, exactly, but not right, either.

It’s hurting my heart and pissing me off at the same time.

The only upside is that it makes me want to just sit and hug Brody all the more right now. That much, at least, is never a bad thing.

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.”

Thought vs Respect

The concept of respect is a bit of a weird one to me.

I feel like I extend it pretty much all the time, because there’s always an argument to be made for why an individual deserves my respect. Maybe they are older than I am, or have letters after their name, or have been working in the same or a related environment. Maybe they do a job I can’t possibly do, or have a skill I’ll never acquire. Maybe they are really good at a sport. Often the measure of respect is doled out in relation to my view of myself – a person has something I don’t, and therefore deserves my respect. Sometimes we’re on fairly equal footing in a particular area, and I extend them respect because I know how difficult it was for us both to get to that point. Sometimes it’s just because everybody deserves at least some measure of respect, and so I give them some of mine by default.

I just really have no idea how to earn it.

I definitely feel it should be earned, but my inner criteria for what that means is skewed somewhat. I rarely feel like I’ve earned it in a given situation, but then I have a high expectation of what “earn” and “deserve” actually mean. Oh really? You have a buddy in head office who hired you based on no experience while I’ve been here for over two years and now I’m supposed to respect you because you have “Manager” written on your nametag? All while you leave most of your duties to me, anyway, because you don’t know how to do them and don’t care to learn because you’re getting paid, regardless?

Dude, the fact that you’re WEARING a nametag suggests you haven’t really climbed the corporate ladder all that high yet. How’s aboot you extend me a little respect, too. Then we’ll get along just fine.

What was I talking about?

Ah yes. I have high expectations, but I feel like I hold myself to them, as well. Which I why I never really demand respect. I’m never all that certain that I’m deserving of it. Also, I think it would probably come out sounding really whiny and childish and look at cute little raging Sue, and thus backfire in a huge way.

We throw around words like “deserve” and “earn” and “rights” a lot, but I wonder if they’ve lost their intent a little over the years. A bit of their glimmer and shine. Like, if everyone deserves everything, then what’s the point of trying? Is an award still special if everyone wins it? Congratulations – you are the same as everyone else.

There is totally such a thing as mutual respect, of course. It need not be exclusive nor one-sided. I just feel like it IS very one-sided more often now. Either that, or I just notice it more as I get older. It seems to me, for example, that those who rush headlong into things – without planning ahead and getting all the information they need to make a decision – seem to get ahead faster. They get things done. It’s not pretty, and perhaps could have done with a little fore-thought, but they make things happen. They are doers, not thinkers. And that gets rewarded – and respected – because it gets results. Thinking does not. Or when thought does lead to results, it takes way too long.

My problem is that I think before I do. And there is not much to repect in that, because you can’t measure results on thinking.

I’m the person that thinks before she speaks (most of the time), so I always have brilliant responses well after the moment has passed. I remember in elementary school, French class in particular, I was constantly getting in trouble for not raising my hand. The teacher would ask a question, and I’d think about the answer before putting up my hand, because I wanted to be right. And I wanted to know I was right before I got called on to answer; certainly before I offered an answer of my own free will. The teacher knew I knew the answers, but had a hard time calling on me because I never put up my hand. I wasn’t being stubborn, exactly. It’s just that the class had moved on to the next question by the time I was ready to answer. Someone else had been called on already because their hand had gone up right away.

I once traced my hand onto a piece of paper, cut out the outline, and taped it to the end of a ruler, with the words “Sue’s Hand” written on it. But I never raised that, either. I was never ready in time.

I feel like that’s a theme in my life, really. Not being ready in time. How many of life’s experiences does one miss out on because they are waiting until the right time; until they are ready?

If the answer is “too many”, then is it possible to learn to put up one’s hand without having the answer ready? It feels SO RECKLESS, I must admit. I would have to decide if that’s really the kind of person I want to be.

Guess I’ll have to think about it first, and go from there.

Sometimes It’s The Little Things

I’m going to try a little real-time blogging tonight.  By that I mean kind of free-form.  Unplanned.  I thought I knew what I wanted to talk about this morning.  Then something happened that basically took over and was all I could think about.

Now, though, I’m watching the season premiere of Face Off, the competition show about make-up effects.  I freaking love this show.  I’ve been watching since the first episode of the first season, and have been in love with it ever since.  Yes, it’s a reality show, but I guarantee you it’s unlike any other reality show you’ve ever seen.  I can’t get enough.

And despite how upset and disheartened and resigned I was feeling when I walked in the door this evening, this show made me feel better, and now IT is all I’m thinking about.  Everyone is so talented and creative, and they support one another, even as they are technically in competition with each other.  I sit on my couch eating Spitz sunflower seeds and watching these incredible artists create whole characters from scratch, in awe because I don’t have as much talent in my fingernail that any one of those people have on their worst day.

Wait – does that even make sense?

They are crazy talented, in ways that I am not.

What’s more is that they all respect and admire one another’s mad skills, too.  It’s like a big talented, creative love-in, every week.  They group hug the person who gets sent home.  They congratulate the winners.  The judges and mentors are all insanely talented, as well, and even as people get sent home, they learn a crap-ton each moment that they’re there.  And I love that the models are game for pretty much anything week to week.

In addition, host Mckenzie Westmore somehow gets better looking every year.  She’s also super personable and relatable.  She our gateway to the show, and is the tie between the contestants and the judges, in a way.  Mckenzie is the glue.  The glue of Face Off.  Haha

When I got home tonight, I’d wanted to talk about respect, and how I don’t understand how to earn it.  Or that I don’t understand why my opinion isn’t valued in a way I feel it should be.  How there can be so much disconnect between my concept of reality, and the actual world.

Or at least my little corner of it.

I’m pretty ready to give up on a particular part of my corner.  I’ll start from scratch again, maybe.

In the meantime,though, I’m fully inspired by the crazy talent being displayed on my TV screen right now.

And tonight, that’s all I need to face tomorrow.