This blog-child of mine has officially been in existence for one year now! Yay! In honor of this event, I’ve decided to write an EPIC poem that shamelessly links back to previous posts.
Just to be clear, I’m not calling it “epic” in order to compliment it. (Although I DO compliment my blog. I love you, blog. You’re beautiful.) No, an epic poem is one that is long, and usually about some sort of heroic feat. The definition doesn’t stipulate what “long” means, nor does it specify what entails a “heroic feat,” so I’m going to take advantage of this loophole and refer to my work here as epic.
After all, one MIGHT say that keeping a blog is a heroic feat. I don’t know who that person is, but they very well could exist.
I’m just going to leave this here and back away slowly before you can argue with me…
It’s my one-year blogiversary
And of that, I’m pretty proud
So I thought I’d write a little ditty
Reliving my posts out loud.
How many posts have I written?
The answer’s one hundred and seven.
And in a moment of poetic perfection,
My followers are two hundred and eleven.
As you may have figured out by now,
I am a dedicated fan of cheese
I’ve tested many quesos in this joint
In search of the ones that please.
My family isn’t safe from spotlight –
You’ve heard about Mom, Dad, and Grandma.
They weren’t too thrilled with my “pantyless” tale
(But they should be used to my choices by now.)
In an ideal world I’d include ALL my posts
But that poem would be meters long.
My brain is too full of useless info,
But for my finale: here’s the carb song.
Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time over this past year to read my posts, and even better, leave comments with your thoughts! I love you all, and if I were having a birthday party for my blog, I’d totally invite you over for cake. Unless the cake was that multi-layer fudgy chocolate kind, and then I’m not sharing any. You understand.
I’ve had a lot of fun so far, and am looking forward to the next kabillion years of blog-keeping! ❤
I work in a pretty rural area. How rural, you ask? So rural that there’s a house down the street from my office that has chickens freely roaming in the yard. There’s no fence to keep these animals confined. If they became fed up with their owners, they could totally pack up their chicken suitcases, put on their chicken fedoras, and head on down the chicken road.
But these chickens are either totally happy with their circumstances, or perhaps just not smart enough to escape, because they’re still there.
Sometimes, when my coworker or I get a little frazzled at work, we like to take a short walk around the neighborhood to clear our heads. We’ve observed the chickens in their yard – pecking at the ground, staring blankly at each other, and occasionally perching on a windowsill of the house.
We’ve formed a fondness for the chickens. And we want to convey our fondness for them by chasing them. Preferably while drunk.
I know what you’re thinking – why would a person want to do this? And I don’t really have a clear answer for you, Judgey McJudgerson. I just know that I want to do it. I imagine that’s the same answer you’d get from a dog if you asked him why he pees on fire hydrants.
Unfortunately, my boss has requested that my coworker and I keep our adventures on the legal side of life – which is a fair boundary. I guess. Before embarking on our chicken journey, I thought it’d be wise to interview a local police officer to determine whether this activity is lawful or not. However, the small shred of decency I have left made me too embarrassed to ask any actual police officers.
So, I’ve moved on to Plan B: I’ll just put myself in the shoes of a policeman. Not literally, because their shoes don’t look comfortable. Instead, I’ll imagine how this conversation might have gone down, if it had actually happened.
Amanda: On a scale of 1-10, how illegal is it to chase another person’s chickens?
Police: I’m going to need a little more information here.
Amanda: I work in a rural area, and the house across the street from my office has chickens that just run around freely – no fence or anything! For some reason, my friend and I are overwhelmed with the desire to chase them, preferably while drunk.
Police: Wait, who’s drunk in this situation? The people or the chickens?
Amanda: The people, of course! We would never get CHICKENS drunk. We’re not monsters. Although, if we manage to catch a couple of them, we do have other plans for them. If you know what I mean.
Police: Oh God, are you going to cook them?
Amanda: Of course not. What’s wrong with you? We’re just going to use them to reenact The Lion King, only with chickens. We’re calling it The Chicken King. Clever, huh?
Police: So, ALL the animals will be chickens? Including the giraffes?
Amanda: No, no, only the lions will be played by chickens. The rest of the animals will play themselves.
Police: looks confused
Amanda: It’s okay, it’s a complicated concept. You see, Simba, Mufasa, and Scar will all be chickens. But Rafiki will still be a baboon, and wildebeasts will still be the assholes who trample Mufasa, who will be known in the movie as “Mufasa Chicken.”
Police: So now you’re bringing wildebeasts into this scenario?
Amanda: The wildebeasts will be implied, mostly because we don’t have access to any. Also, I don’t mean to make stereotypes here, but wildebeasts are a pretty uncooperative bunch.
Police: I’m still not feeling good that you’re technically trespassing, as well as maybe stealing.
Amanda: We’re not going to keep the chickens. I live in an apartment! Where the hell would I keep them? We’ll just film the movie and then leave.
Police: looks uncertain and vaguely scared
Amanda: What if I said that the chickens’ owners could participate in the making of The Chicken King? They could play Poomba, or maybe Nala Chicken, if they really show promise.
Police: Yeah, I’m not sure that helps.
Amanda: Well, what if we offered them 50% of the proceeds from The Chicken King? You KNOW it’s going to be a hit.
Police: Wait a sec, the movie’s not even happening unless you manage to catch some chickens. What if you don’t catch any?
Amanda: Plan B is to just chase them until we get tired. Neither of us is an athlete, so that probably won’t take long.
Note: no chickens or police officers were harmed in the making of this really weird blog post. I truly do feel a strange affection toward chickens now, despite having never cared about that animal in the past. It makes me question my love of fried chicken and enchiladas.
Note #2: Just for kicks, I did an image search for “The Chicken King,” and this was the first result. Seems legit.
If you find yourself house-sitting for a friend, I recommend following these handy tips:
1. Demand piles of money in return for your sitting services. (Piles of presents will also suffice.)
2. Ensure that your friend adequately defends these presents from predators.
3. Take advantage of the friend’s variety of entertainments.
4. If the friend has pets, make sure they’re still alive at the end of your stay. Dead pets don’t bode well for good friendships.
5. Even though you do need to be nice to the friend’s pets, you don’t have to allow the dog to lick your armpits. That’s just a bit too intimate.
Unless you’re into that sort of thing.
6. Eat all of your friend’s delicious leftovers. Eat more than you can even fit in your body, just because you CAN.
7. Subtly suggest that your friend get a swimming pool installed before your next stay. I recommend complimenting them on their “large, pool-shaped backyard.”
8. If you don’t have pets of your own, understand that cats are creepy at night. Why all the mysterious noises and activities, cats? Why?
9. Do 1-2 nice things during your stay: fill an ice cube tray, wipe off the counter, etc. Doing ONE thing establishes you as helpful and ensures that you’ll be asked to sit again. BUT doing more than one thing might make your friend feel self-conscious about the cleanliness of her household. Better to play it safe.
Have you ever house-sat (house-sitted?) for anyone? What did you like or dislike about this experience? What handy tips can you provide?
I very badly want a dog, and I recently wrote a post about my desire to kidnap yours. Yes, YOURS. You know Mr. Furry would love me more.
Unfortunately, my apartment doesn’t allow pets, so I’m having to come to terms with my doglessness for now. But it’s not easy.
After work this evening, I decided to go on a casual stroll through my neighborhood. There’s a wooded area with a little creek flowing through it, and it’s perfect for decompressing after a weird day.
I’d only been there a few minutes when I wandered upon this little gal:
I glanced around, but there were no people nearby, no one calling for a lost dog. I briefly wondered if this was a test – had the FBI read my post about kidnapping? Were they waiting in the bushes to see if I’d steal this one? Was this a decoy dog?
I decided not to snatch her up and make a run for my apartment, because I’m a selfless person. Also, I didn’t want to get arrested.
I knelt down to look at the cutie’s collar and noticed there was no name or address, just a phone number to the vet. Her fur was pretty filthy, and there were a few little stickers in it. I immediately named her “Scruffles.”
I wanted Scruffles for my very own. I pictured her living a happy life in my apartment, lying in a cashmere-lined dog bed and sharing my Tuna Tetrazzini with me.
I worked up the nerve to call the vet’s number, and gave her the tag number listed on Scruffles’ collar. There was no phone number listed in the file, but she was able to give me a home address.
Also, it turns out the dog’s name was actually Ginger. But she’ll always be “Scruffles” in my heart.
I scooped up Ginger-Scruffles and started walking, intent on getting back to my car so I could drive the pup home. But I was feeling very judgy of Ginger-Scruffles’ parents. Why did they not have a phone number listed on her tag or vet file? Why was the dog so dirty? How did she end up so far from home?
It was as though the owners wanted me to keep little Ginger-Scruffles.
This story has a pretty anti-climactic end. On my way out of the park, I noticed a man with another shih tzu, and I thought to ask whether the scruffly baby in my arms was perhaps his. And it was.
The guy seemed shockingly uncaring that his dog had been missing, and told me that Ginger-Scruffles “has arthritis and has trouble keeping up” with him and the other dog. I don’t want to seem like a know-it-all, but maybe try walking slowly so your elderly dog can keep up. Or, better yet, PUT HER ON A LEASH!
Sorry for shouting. Those few minutes of dog ownership probably went to my head.
I just want you all to know that I totally could have kidnapped this adorable animal, and I didn’t. I deserve a high-five AND a gold star. And maybe a cookie. Don’t you think?
Actually, you can keep your wife and kids. But you should hide your dogs from me, because I want to kidnap them.
I’ve experienced the full spectrum of appreciation when it comes to dogs. For the first few years of my life, I was petrified of them, and then I gradually grew to love them – especially our family dogs, Abby and Caramel.
Unfortunately, I’ve been dogless for the past few years that I’ve lived alone, and lately, my love for them has grown into an obsession. Instead of homesick, I’m dogsick.
Too bad my apartment complex doesn’t allow pets.
I think about the cuddly fur balls way more often than a grown-up should. I squeal over pictures and videos of them on the Internet. I visit family members I haven’t seen in awhile, only to ignore them and make a beeline for their dogs.
I’ve even volunteered to house-sit for my friend when she was only going to be gone for a few hours – because I wanted to hang out with her energetic, loving canine.
Now, when I see dogs out in public, living their doggy lives, I entertain the idea of abducting them.
I have thoughts like, “I wonder how quickly I could unhook that corgi from his leash and get him into my car.” Or, “Hmm…that chihuahua is pretty little. I could probably slip her in my pocket without anyone noticing.”
You know how when you’re trying to eat healthier, you say to yourself, “You can’t have sweets. You can’t have pizza. No pasta!” Then you spend so much time telling yourself what you CAN’T have, that suddenly the no-no foods are all you can think about. And then you go crazy and wind up stuffing your face with every single item in the refrigerator. Including the Tupperware.
It’s like that, but with dogs.
My inner voice is saying, “You can’t have a dog, Amanda. It’s not allowed. No, stop it! Stop considering moving to another place just so you can get one! And stop Googling ‘how to hide dogs from landlords’! NO DOGS.”
My fear is that if I keep saying these things to myself, I’ll eventually snap. I’ll free all the dogs in the nearest shelter, herd them into my apartment, and then sleep in a ball on the floor, because they’ll all have taken over my bed. Worth it.
Currently, my life is more like this:
But I’d LIKE for it to look more like this:
I’m sorry, but what kind of evil overlord doesn’t want me to have a cute, furry-faced friend, or twenty? Clearly, my apartment management is made up of droopy, dreary people who probably eat kittens for breakfast and laugh at crying children.
Barring a move to a new place, I do have a couple of Dogsickness remedies to consider:
Ignore my apartment’s rules and get a dog anyway. Carry the dog wrapped up in a blanket, and occasionally push it around in a stroller, so everyone thinks it’s a human baby. A human baby who barks sometimes. No big deal.
Troubleshooting: If someone mentions the impressive hairiness of my baby, I’ll cry and say that she “looks just like her father.”
Get a life-sized stuffed dog. Spend a great deal of time convincing self that it is indeed a real dog. Consider getting hypnosis so that the lie sinks in even deeper. Take stuffed animal, er…I mean, real live dog, on walks around the neighborhood.
Troubleshooting: When questioned by others, imply that they are the crazy ones for thinking my dog is fake. If they press me, proudly declare that she “looks just like her father.”
So many issues in life are not simply black and white.
Our society is incredibly and beautifully complex, and it’s not always possible, or even preferable, to divide things into two clean columns. Whether you’re deciding on the moral decency of the death penalty, debating nature vs. nurture, or ranking the deliciousness level of a queso, the truth is almost always broader, richer, and “grayer” than we give it credit for.
On the other hand, a lot of things in life really are dichotomous.
Call me divisive, but I do think that some issues can be split into black/white, either/or categories, and there’s simply no room for “happy mediums” or shades of gray.
Things such as:
• The Friendliness of Squirrels
All squirrels are either lovely woodland creatures straight from Snow White who come up to you with their tiny little squirrel faces, and are so cute that you just want to put a couple of them in the pocket of your sweatshirt and take them home and make them your babies and live happily ever after, and they’re totally worth writing a rambling run-on sentence for because they’re just THAT adorable,
or they’re mutant beasts who block your path and glare at you with murder in their eyes. There is no in-between.
• My Manners at Walmart
I dread ALL trips to the grocery store, but my ability to conceal this feeling varies from trip to trip. Sometimes, I am the epitome of grocery store etiquette: I smile at everyone, I offer to reach things that the height-challenged folks can’t get to, and I graciously allow others to go by when it’s really my right of way.
If I’m feeling jazzy, I’ll even throw in an “after you, fine sir!” for good measure.
Other times, my grocery cart becomes a weapon that I use during a fit of road rage. I dash down the aisles like a madwoman, and obnoxiously careen around people who dare get in front of me on my way to the lunchmeat. If I come close to genuinely running someone over, I shoot them semi-apologetic eyes. But I don’t slow down.
• People’s Opinions about Cilantro
No other herb is as polarizing as cilantro. Hell, possibly no other thing on Earth is as polarizing. I’m in the camp of people who love it and gleefully add it to tacos and other dishes, but lots and lots of people seem to really, really HATE it. They loathe the stuff with a passion that is almost admirable.
No one, no one, feels just “meh” about cilantro.
• People’s Opinions about Texas
There are some strong feelings out there about the good ol’ Lone Star State. Find any Internet article about anything happening in Texas, and scroll down to the comments section to feast your eyes on the contrasting opinions. People either express great fondness and pride for the food, friendliness, and fun…
…or they absolutely detest what they perceive as a lack of education and open-mindedness. And/or they hate the gun culture. And the unpredictable weather. And the fact that other people love it so much.
People in this group are basically crossing their fingers that the entire state will just fall into the Gulf.
• All Things Australian
One thing I’ve learned through reading countless Reddit discussions and Buzzfeed articles is that the world really doesn’t like the Kardashians. But on a more relevant note, I’ve also learned that that every single thing in Australia is either amazingly wondrous…
… or it wants to kill you in a slow, torturous, painful way. There is no gray area in that place.
And the last true black and white issue:
• The Accuracy of Those “Psychological Facts” that Circulate the Internet
We’ve all seen them. Those colorful squares that display sweet and interesting statements about the human brain, feelings, and relationships. Their messages vary, but they almost always include the words “science” or “psychologists” or “fact,” as though that automatically validates their accuracy.
Even people who are usually skilled at thinking and discerning get sucked into the heart-tugging statements, because they so badly want them to be true.
To be fair, some of those “facts” really are accurate, as they come from ACTUAL research studies that have been replicated a zillion times.
Unfortunately, most of the statements are wildly and bewilderingly false.
I may have gotten a bit carried away with the examples, but that’s okay, because it’s a scientific fact that getting carried away on projects is a sign of genius-level intelligence. See what I did there?
Anyway, where do YOU stand on these controversial issues? Have you actually come across a squirrel that was neither friendly nor terrifying? Or perhaps you don’t have strong feelings (good or bad) about cilantro?
That may be a bit of an understatement, given that this entire post is about my affection for them. I think they’re amazing animals, and if I could ethically (and financially and realistically) keep one as a pet in my apartment, I would jump on that opportunity.
What’s not to like? They’re friendly, they save stupid drowning humans, and they’re incredibly intelligent. They’re also very loyal to their friends, and happen to be a bit slutty. Based on these facts, I’m pretty certain that dolphins would do really well in college. (Who wouldn’t want to be sitting next to a dolphin in their quantum physics class? It’s such a shame that universities discriminate against animals.)
Anyway, this totally normal obsession of mine goes way back. When I was a kid, I had a Barbie that could kick her legs and swim in the bathtub; she was pretty awesome all on her own, but the best part was that she was accompanied by a special plastic friend – a dolphin. He had a little switch on his belly, and when you pushed it down, he emitted a high-pitched dolphiny whistle. He was fabulous, and I loved him.
Interestingly, I can do a pretty good impression of a dolphin, and I’m sure I owe this talent to that toy.
In elementary school, I had Lisa Frank lunchboxes and folders depicting hot pink and purple dolphins majestically jumping into the air (ahhh, the 90s). I daydreamed about being a marine biologist or dolphin trainer and getting to play with them every day.
Sadly, I didn’t end up becoming a dolphin trainer, but it’s still one of my goals in life to swim with dolphins, even though I’m pretty certain I will cry the entire time. With joy, that is.
Shortly after graduating from high school, I took a trip to Sea World in San Diego, and got to touch a dolphin’s face for the first time. It felt rubbery and wonderful. She smiled. I smiled. We had a connection.
While vacationing in Gulf Shores, Alabama last summer, I managed to (accidentally) catch a live starfish with my bare hands. It was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced, and I have to say – other people on the beach were totally jealous. When I later recounted the story to my father (and labeled it as the Coolest Thing Ever), he thoughtfully stroked his beard, and then asked, “but what if you’d caught a baby dolphin?”
We both agreed that I probably would have suffered a stroke from the sheer amazingness of it all.
And now, a little poem about those rubbery, slutty creatures:
Oh dolphin, my dolphin
You are so very cute
From the tip of your nose
To the ends of your fluke
You can swim really fast
You can jump pretty high
You can live to be 50,
(And that’s not a lie).
Half of your brain stays up
While the rest is asleep,
So you can get some air
And watch for threats that creep.
You’re a lot like humans:
You like to tease and play
You tend to be slutty
And some of you are gay.
Lots of you have best friends,
Some of you care for your sick,
And just like we humans,
Some of you can be di- …uh, jerks.
Dolphins, you’re amazing
I want one as a pet
The only problem is,
You would have to stay wet.
There are a lot of things that I like in this world, but birds are not one of them. I actively dislike the winged monsters. They are terrible, and there’s a reason Alfred Hitchcock made an entire horror movie about them.
My disdain probably began in middle or high school. A family of mockingbirds made a nest in the tree outside my bedroom window – adorable, right? WRONG. The jerks made a daily habit of pointlessly pecking the wall outside, which created a loud tapping noise in my bedroom at the crack of dawn.
Who knows why they were doing this. Why, birds why?! What were you trying to accomplish? They have tiny brains, so even they probably didn’t know why. I was even less happy when the mockingbirds apparently either procreated, or invited their long-lost cousins to live with them, because the tapping grew even louder and more persistent.
At first, I attempted to solve the problem on my own. As soon as the birds woke me from my blissful sleep, I’d lunge across my bed in a fit of rage and bang my fist against the wall. Thankfully, the birds were perplexed and terrified by this noise, and scattered out of the tree. Mission accomplished!
…Until the fools eventually realized that their home was not spontaneously exploding. They appeared to start thinking of the bang as a sort of greeting; as soon as they heard it, they’d momentarily pause their tapping, only to resume it at an even louder volume.
My parents eventually got involved in the problem-solving, most likely just to make sure that I didn’t leave a fury-filled dent in the wall. On advice from my grandmother, they purchased cheap rubber snakes at the dollar store and planted them inside the bushes and trees outside my room. I was doubtful – I figured even the tiniest of bird brains would realize pretty quickly that their enemies never moved or blinked. (Technically, snakes never blink, but birds are stupid and probably don’t know that.)
It turns out, I was wrong. Bothered by the presence of the snakes, the mockingbird family packed up their things and moved on to another tree, never to disturb my sleep again.
No, that wasn’t some sort of happy ending to this story, because I have other reasons for hating the feathery bastards.
In elementary school, a couple of my teachers kept class pets – one of them, an African Grey Parrot named Murphy. I can’t speak for all Greys, but Murphy was basically the devil. He acted innocent and loving around my teacher, but anytime she stepped out of the room, Murphy would screech noisily and pace in his cage, glaring at us through the bars as though he were plotting our deaths.
Once, he managed to escape from his cage and chase us around the room. We all screamed and climbed on top of our desks, trying to avoid getting chunks of our flesh ripped out by Murphy’s big beak. The power-hungry dictator seemed pleased by his authority over us, and returned to his cage before our teacher ever knew he was gone.
Another time, I was driving on an access road and noticed a giant bird perched on a speed limit sign up ahead of me. When I tell this story to people, I sometimes identify the bird as a balding eagle or a pterodactyl, which it probably wasn’t. Don’t really know for sure. But it was definitely some sort of bird of prey, like a falcon or a hawk. As soon as my car got close to the sign, the bird chose that moment to swoop down from its perch. I screamed and closed my eyes (which is a great thing to do when operating a motor vehicle), and slammed on my breaks. I heard a light “thunk” as the bird’s wing hit my windshield, but the beast continued on its path, seemingly undeterred.
Clearly, the feeling of hatred is mutual.
The only person (or animal) who has ever come close to understanding how I feel is my parents’ neighbors’ cat, Garfield, who is now sadly deceased. Admittedly, Garfield was the one who instigated HIS troubles with the mockingbirds in the first place, since he seemed to make it his life’s goal to attack and kill a lot of them. (Which is pretty bad ass, considering that’s illegal in Texas.)
Eventually, word of the bird murders got out, and the remaining mockingbirds joined together to form a Bird Mafia and avenge their friends’ deaths. After that, every single time Garfield set foot outside, they’d swoop down from the trees and peck at the poor cat’s head.
I don’t necessarily hate all species of bird. Every once in awhile, I can admire a pretty blue jay or cardinal in the yard. I also find ducks to be quite cute and charming, and I once fed potato chips to a stray chicken at a gas station in Corpus Christi. (It was fun until he tried to get in the car with me. I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment.) I also squeal and clap my hands in excitement when I see peacocks out in the real world – which has happened exactly three times.
Proof of my positive interactions with birds:
But my favorite bird of all, who is totally exempt from all my bird-related disdain, was my childhood pet, Bogie. Bogie was a sweet little Quaker parrot, with beautiful green and blue feathers. He could say certain phrases (like “good boy” and “thank you”), and he’d step onto your finger if you held it out for him. He was pretty amazing.
Like Murphy, Bogie had a talent for escaping his cage; unlike Murphy, however, Bogie used his skills for good instead of evil. His cage was kept in the living room, and if the rest of the family was gone from the room for too long, he’d come search for us – like a tiny little stalker. He probably just wanted to make sure we were still alive. Or to beg for treats. Either way, it was adorable.
The great irony of all my bird hatred is that the décor in my office at work includes birds. I want to like birds. For most people, they’re beautiful symbols of freedom and hope. But for me, they’ll always be screeching, wall-pecking, car-diving little demons.