Maybe I’m Just Looking for Small Fish and Crustaceans?

A few years ago, I visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. My brother and I stood by the Blacktip Reef exhibit, and the tan and black dotted fins of the zebra shark caught my eye. It seemed to be blind, and we watched as it banged its head against the coral over and over again. Then, it would rest its belly on the bottom for minutes at a time, exhausted from its seemingly fruitless expedition. I thought it was the funniest thing to witness.

But when I turned to the information on the zebra shark, I learned that the shark does this to hunt for small fish and crustaceans hiding within the coral. It doesn’t need to swim to breathe so it rests on its belly in between hunting sessions.

Earlier today, I felt exhausted, too, from seemingly banging my head against the wall over and over again for the past seven months. I started to wonder if I was perpetually depressed due to the anxiety induced by our current political and health care climate. It was even starting to manifest itself in physical form – I’d had ongoing headaches and heartburn for weeks. Continue reading

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The Day I Decided I Needed a Pet

“Oh my god something shit on my bed,” I remember telling my roommate on the phone. I was living in the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore, and after an eight-hour day at my contractual position at the university, I came home to find a pile of poop on my $20 Target comforter. I was planning to move in a few days.

Of course upon texting both my roommates, they responded with inherent laughter. I didn’t think it was so funny. Once I removed the comforter and ruined sheets, I realized the shit had stained the actual mattress. I’d had this mattress since I moved into my first apartment four years prior. What did I know of mattress protectors?

made bed next to window

“Did the landlord let her dogs in here? Why the hell would she let them shit on the bed and leave it?” I didn’t consider myself a bad tenant, but maybe I had done something to make her mad? I would have categorized this instance as beneath her, but I also knew she could be vindictive.

I considered throwing the comforter in the washer. God knows it had survived a few drunken vomit episodes. But nah, I was moving soon, and it didn’t seem worth the dry cleaning. I threw it in the trash. But what about the mattress? I had already sold it to the next tenant. What could I do?

I opened the window and sprayed some Febreeze. And then something came crawling out from underneath my bed, seeming completely terrified. A cat. Continue reading

Norm Is Looking for a Boyfriend (But He Doesn’t Know It Yet)

I’ve been thinking about getting Norm a girlfriend or boyfriend (I’m leaning more towards boyfriend). Even though my roommate and I each work from home once a week (on different days), Norm has not been pleased with the 8+ hours he may spend alone each day (or at least that’s what his increased “launch attack” initiatives tell me).

And let’s be honest. This apartment is a kitten’s paradise. Norm can spend hours rolling around on the carpet, chasing his tail around the living room, hopping from chair to couch to table and back again, and climbing a vast array of window sills. In addition he likes to spend his days sunning in his tree or hiding on a shelf in one of two walk-in closets. He spends his evenings catching hair ties and mini soccer balls or dragging his “bird on a wire” toy from the closet archway to mom’s bed. Continue reading

From Here to There Yet Nowhere

When I’m in Louisville, Kentucky, on the border of southern Indiana, I see large Maple trees and gravel pathways lined with yellow patches of grass and fallen crisp leaves. A Beagle-Greyhound mix runs in front of me, sniffing at the brown speckled frog camouflaged by rocks and pebbles along the path. A man of 20, just starting out in the world, lights a cigarette nearby. And another man of 26 attempts to restrain the dog and keep her out of the way of the oncoming cyclist.

When I’m in Bethesda, Maryland, on the border of Washington, DC, I hear ambulance sirens and beeping horns of SUVs and BMWs. I sidestep an upraised brick in the sidewalk and bypass an orange cone of a construction zone, the latest in a series of luxury condo high rises. I pass by commuters listening to headphones and carrying laptop bags with their eyes glued to smart phones. I also attempt to drown out the noise of the city with my mood’s latest trend – this time dubstep. And then I move out of the way of an oncoming cyclist.

Belonging

More than a year ago, I made the move from Baltimore to DC. And four years before that I made the move from Cincinnati to Baltimore. And five years prior to that, I left my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

So exactly 10 years ago, a few weeks from today, I ventured from my roots with no plans to return. Of my two brothers and various family members, I have so far been the only one to do so (not including those who left before me). But what I didn’t realize then was what I would be giving up and what I would never be able to have again: a home. Continue reading

The Meaning of Life (as told by Normandy the Cat)

Unlike dogs, cats have never quite been domesticated. In fact, rather than controlling them, cats think they have control of us. They’ve somehow figured out how to be fed, cleaned up after, and petted in all the right places, all the while having us think it’s for our benefit.

So what better species to deem life lessons from? In the nine months since I’ve adopted Norm, my black and brown two-year-old tabby, I’ve learned a few things from this feline who thinks my world revolves around him. Here’s what he has to say: Continue reading

Mind Your Bees

The honeybee lands on the upper part of my leg, and I let it sit there for a while. Its body is not as luminous as the bumble bee, but its faded brown and black stripes serve for better camouflage amidst the Kentucky foliage. I watch the middle school softball game unfold before me while I happily occupy the bench. I know I will strike out as soon as my name is called to the plate.

For now, I listen to the chatter of prepubescent girls nearby and wonder if I’m somehow different for not caring about the latest JTT fad or what flavor of Lip Smacker chapstick is popular this week. And then there are the girls that scream and jump up and down, swatting at the wasps and bees that occupy this space between the fence and the bleachers.

The teammate to my right, who is already tan for the summer and recently cut her mousy brown hair to her chin, looks down at the bee on my leg. It tickles as it moves around, and I hope it doesn’t attempt to burrow into my exposed skin. Continue reading

Today I Became A Billy Goat

Great Falls ParkToday, after a night out dancing in DC (I don’t know why the person who never drinks thought it was a good idea to mix three different types of liquor), on another date, I visited Great Falls Park for the first time. This rocky water wonderland is a mere 16 miles outside the city. That is one thing I love about here – you can feel like you’re out in the country yet still live in an urban environment.

But in visiting the Maryland side of the park (and as my date would point out the better, less crowded side), I successfully climbed the Billy Goat Trail (and yes, I use climb for some very specific reasons). I had heard stories of the Billy Goat Trail and how I should definitely give it a try. What no better time than in my hungover state?

For some reason, I imagined this trail was like any other paved pathway, a little debris and uprooted branches but nothing strenuous and then at one point the trail would become a short ledge one would have to maneuver around before getting to the top. Yeah that was what I imagined. Clearly I did not think about the words “Billy Goat” in the name. Continue reading