16 October 2010

And get off my lawn!

I'm at the Creative Alliance 10 conference this weekend. I know it is kind of de rigeur to say, when attending a conference, especially a brand new conference, how amazing and wonderful and more special than any other conference it is and how you just can't imagine how you'd ever miss this because of the sisterhood and closeness and OK OK WILL YOU STOP BECAUSE WE WEREN'T THERE AND YOU'RE EITHER MAKING US JEALOUS OR IRRITATED AND WILL YOU PLEASE  NOW NOT GO INTO ALL THE SWAG YOU GOT BECAUSE THAT CRAP IS SERIOUSLY ANNOYING.

So I'm not going to do that. It is in a gorgeous posh home slash vacation rental slash retreat center, in the mountains above Ojai with a little creek and oak trees and white sage.

It is well-organized and there are great people there and there's a lot of talking and energy and sharing good information.

But I'm having a hard time and it's not them. It's me.

I'm off my game. I feel kind of unplugged and weird.

Part of it IS them. These are a bunch of amazing women who are smart and capable and who are making their blogs do tricks and jump around and make money, while my blog just sits here and looks at me.

So THAT's intimidating. I'm like "My blog? It has a URL and that's about it. BUT IT IS A GOOD BLOG AND TO ME IT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BLOG IN THE WHOLE WIDE UNIVERSE SO THERE."

The other thing is that I don't get out much anymore. I've been working at home and not actually seeing many real live people, and I think I have fallen into some weird Pajama Zone where real life feels surreal and virtual life feels real.

So when I get out there in the real surreal world, my timing is off, the way I relate is just oddly filtered...It's like I have self-induced Asperger's or something (no insult to Aspie people or any wonderful Aspie children you may have. People with Asperger's are wonderful and unique and I love what they contribute to the world. Do not hurt me.)

And then I had to do the cranky old person thing. During introductions - which went on for approximately 16 hours yesterday, while we were sitting on the floor of a yurt (I am not making this up) (well not the yurt part anyway), I chided - chided!! - people for screwing around with their cell phones and laptops while other people talked.

I was just sick of ADD culture where it is ok to check your mail while someone is pouring out their deepest dreams to you. So I was the one to say it. "You damned kids and your technology! In my day, we had to PASS NOTES if we wanted to talk while someone was speaking."

Ok, I didn't say it that way. But still. I said it. In a group, everyone has to be something. The funny one, the organizer, the helpful one. I'm the cranky one. My name is Suebob. Glad to meet you.

10 October 2010

Animals Don't Have Feelings

I once volunteered at a county animal shelter that had a fabulously well-organized volunteer crew. It was in a wealthy area with lots of ladies who did not have day jobs, so they could spend hours a week at the shelter, looking after dogs and cats.

They did great work. In addition to the day-to-day dog walking, cage cleaning and customer helping, they would cough up thousands of dollars for crazy things, like hip replacements for young Golden Retrievers. Or for private vet care when the county vet was...oh, God knows what he was. He once cut open a male cat to spay him before he spotted the testicles. Enough said.

All of the ladies had also adopted multiple animals, many of them the hardest-luck cases. Cats with one eye and epilepsy. Dogs who needed shots 3x a day. Things like that.

So of course, because the volunteer crew was organized and functioning like an expensive Swiss watch, the county had to mess with us. They found one of the shelter directors who wanted to retire, but who wasn't quite of age, so instead they gave him a well-paid position as the "Volunteer Coordinator."

He decided to further organize us by having expensive volunteer binders printed and t-shirts (for which we had to pay) made. We all had to show up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday for our "training."

He then had to enlighten us with his theory of animal care.

"Remember, animals don't have feelings," he proclaimed. "It may seem like they do, but we are just projecting human emotions onto them."

All of the air left the room. Everyone glared at him. Every one of us was a stone-crazy animal lover.

Even if he had evidence to back up his proclamation, why would you say that to a room full of 40 women who chose to spend their spare hours covered in fur, dog spit and kitten vomit?

While we were on a break in the bathroom talking about the moron volunteer coordinator, someone stated the truth: "At least this will be the only time we ever see that jackass."

And they were right. Having done his training duty, Mr. Jackass slunk off to collect his county checks and wait for retirement. The volunteers went on running things just like always.

But I think of him often, especially when this happens: I put food in Goldie's bowl. She is hungry, but she does not like the food I have offered. So she walks into the kitchen, licks the edge of the bowl, and gazes at me mournfully.

The message is obvious. "I am hungry. However, I do not choose to eat this crap you have provided me. Please rectify this situation."

She not only HAS feelings. She tries to manipulate my feelings. Or maybe I'm just imagining this.
Note on the header: It is a photo of a day during my unemployment when I decided not to get out of bed. It was about 10 am and Goldie was seriously distressed at my horizontalness. In the photo, she is not resting comfortably. She is menacing me by thumping her head down on my side about every minute or so. Again, she has no feelings and no way to express them.
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