The Lives We Live as Leaves

still-standing

I have told this story many times, but I’m “feeling it” today.

 
One of my greatest life lessons came from a man named Mike Sullivan with whom I worked when I lived in Rhode Island. We worked for a boss that always expected you to cover his ass and make sure his work day would go smoothly. But that boss would always hang me and Mike out to dry and force us to fend for ourselves. The two of us often talked about how good a working relationship we had while in that environment.

One day, Mike said to me, “All we ever have is each other.” I asked him if he meant the two of us, looking out for each other while dealing with our shithead boss, or if he meant something larger, something greater–a bond connecting person to person on this mixed-up world.

He said, “Both.”

Those words will always resonate with me, and I hope to help them resonate with others I encounter, especially in times like the ones we face. The state of the one world we have, socially, politically, environmentally, and so on, is growing more and more precarious every day. We need to wise up, we need to care, and to support, and to love more. We need to build, to truly create lasting and meaningful connections with ourselves, our fellow beings, and our only source of life.  We must, before it’s too late.  Everything is connected.  We are all connected.

“All we ever have is each other.”

 

The Tree

The Tree of Life links everything,
And all the souls its branches spring,
Connected by such fibrous thread,
Swell by what each limb’s been fed.

The Tree of Life, it branches wide,
Connections growing at each side,
And when one sees the common boughs,
It’s limitless what growth allows.

The Tree of Life has many leaves;
Sometimes one falls, and someone grieves,
And though there will be growth again,
A gloom remains within the glen.

So many fruits sprout on this tree,
And some fulfill prosperity,
While others come to waste and rot,
And their branch ends in pitted knot.

So each bloom needs to see the ties
That bond each bud and to realize
That all we’ll have is other leaves
As every Life branch interweaves.

And as my own now ages on,
The truths that I have come upon
Have made me praise the leaves I see
Have helped me grow my own life’s tree.

© Jordan Alan Fox

 

Letting Go of an Anger That’s Consumed Me

405175_346201918794220_1807893270_nThis is a tale of heartache, anger, release, and personal growth for me….

“Yeah, fine, I killed the dogs. I hung them. I slammed them. I killed all of them. I lost fucking millions, all over some fucking dogs.” ~ Michael Vick (from the article that inspired this post, and here is the link: http://dogtime.com/trending/28239-michael-vick-deserve-forgiveness-nfl-fans-draw-line?utm_source=DogTime+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ba04f5aa7a-CatTime_Newsletter_289_9_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_60528d8c03-ba04f5aa7a-155110501)

This is why I have such a hard time with the topic of Vick and the NFL, even refusing to watch for two years. It’s why I have such a hard time forgiving the franchises that signed him and forgiving the fans that root for him and his teams despite his deeds. Just seeing that Eagles logo (which is everywhere since I’m in the Philadelphia area) would ignite my temper.  The worst for me was seeing people who claimed they were huge dog lovers but continued to support the team, even putting Eagles-themed merchandise such as collars and doggie tees on their pets.

I’m trying, though, really working to move past the anger and disgust and disbelief I have over the millions he’s been paid since, the status he’s been allowed to re-obtain, and the indifference of the owners and majority of fans. It’s been difficult to comprehend that six points on a billboard sponsored by Coors Light matter more to the majority of sports fans in this area than what’s right. It may always be a struggle for me, but I’m trying.

I can’t see ever forgiving Vick, though, for he has never shown himself to be remorseful for his actions. I may never forgive those that gave him the millions, either.

But I know that holding the anger I have had toward the fans isn’t hurting them one bit, I’ve just been hurting myself. I will still refuse to support the Eagles, and will not support the Steelers, the team I turned to when the Eagles signed Vick and for whom he now plays.

I am now pulling for the success of a third team, one that regularly faces the Eagles, because I value morality over entertainment, period. I know that I am not alone in this, but I also know that I am not able to make those not of my inclinations see it my way, either. If anyone is to ever come to share my values at all, they must come to that realization in their own time.

So in the meantime, I will work on letting that anger go.

It’s important to note that a story of the NFL paying for injury research performed on animals factored into my decision to no longer watch. This increased the volume of fire generated by my anger. I have to get over the rage from this as well, hoping that change can be made to stop this from happening.  There is a petition for exactly that at the end of this post. One thing that has come to my mind recently is that I haven’t refused to take medicines for my health despite knowing they were tested on animals in most cases.  Again, I can can only work and hope others join me to stop this.

So in light of this, I watched football last night, my first game in years, rooting for the Giants, a team that has no known sexual or domestic assailants, child abusers, murderers, or horrific torturers of man’s best friend. Some have said that I “caved” or that I “couldn’t back up my convictions.”

But I know that’s not the case. I know what’s in my heart, and I know how deeply and strongly my convictions run. I know that this is me trying to move past an anger, an obsession even, that has only hurt myself and not the objects of my disdain. It’s therapeutic for me to attempt this. I tried watching a game last year, but once I saw that Eagles logo on the field and the fans in the stands, I had to turn the game off. The rage and disgust started brewing instantly. I don’t know if I’ll ever hold the same love of the game, have the same emotional investment in it that I used to. But I need to write a new page, for my own sake. I have to make peace with the things I cannot change, because I’ve damaged the innermost parts of me by setting emotional fires everywhere I could. My compromise is that I will not purchase anything which feeds the revenue stream of the league.  If I choose to replace a hat or t-shirt, etc., I will buy something used or something older off of ebay, which is actually a conscientious thing to do anyway. It’s a form of recycling.

As for Vick himself, I can only hope I’m wrong about his apparent lack of humanity, humility, and compassion. And as for those teams by whom he’s been employed since and the fans in question, they don’t want or need my love, nor do they care about my beliefs and principals. I’m going to have to learn to be fine with that.

The petition to stop the animal injury testing:

https://secure.peta.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5019

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Awesome anti-dogfighting video (don’t worry, it’s not graphic):

https://video-lga1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hvideo-xap1/v/l/t42.1790-2/1482680_328559340615420_420959628_n.mp4?efg=eyJxZSI6InZpZGVvX3ByZWZlcnJlZF90YWdzXzIwMTUwMTIxLDIwMTUwMTAxIiwicmxyIjo0ODksInJsYSI6NTEyfQ%3D%3D&rl=489&vabr=272&oh=5295079a670e4042c6612420c2afbda6&oe=55F85588

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Where you can purchase the “Pits Over Points” shirt shown above:

http://www.etsy.com/transaction/1058186024?campaign_label=transaction_buyer_notification&utm_source=Steelhouse&utm_campaign=Display_DynamicRTG_General2_300x250&utm_medium=display&utm_content=&email_sent=1441235192&euid=unIIMLRjPPRkp-EgVaO_Bg15cbsG&eaid=29921430779&x_eaid=60544d6130

I Am. I Can. I Shall.

images (1)A friend of mine recently introduced me to a weekly Buddhist meditation group.  The attendees get together, and we have two silent twenty-minute sitting meditation sessions with a ten-minute walking meditation between them.  After the second sitting meditation, we recite some Buddhist philosophies and have an open discussion.

Meditation isn’t something that is natural to me.  I’m a high-strung, hot-headed, anxiety-carrying, self-doubting dude.  My brain never stops obsessing over minutiae of all the things in my life, over possible outcomes of different scenarios, over money and bills, over the wrongs of the world, over all the things I need to do.  I also constantly berate myself inwardly for not living up to the high standards, especially moral ones, that I have placed for myself.  Attempting to be “quiet” inside is a challenge.

I’ve been told that you can’t control having thoughts during meditation, but that when you catch yourself thinking about something in particular, you acknowledge to yourself that you had the thought, but not entertain that thought.  You must let it go.  It has been described to me as watching a train come to a stop in front of you.  You know it’s there, but you don’t have to board. 

Last Sunday night, one such thought came to me during the first meditation session.  The thought was six simple words:  “I am.  I can.  I shall.”  While I was supposed to be thinking of nothing, I was writing this blog post in my head.  But I will gladly accept inspiration whenever and wherever it comes, so I don’t mind having boarded this train. 

As I mentioned above, I’m an individual plagued by serious self-doubt, and self-affirming statements are an uncommon occurrence.  But there it was.  I am.  I can.  I shall. 

I wrote a poem in 2009, which was a bit of wishful thinking in rhyming form, and even as I was writing it, I wondered whether it was something I could actually enact myself, actually make real.

                              At Peace  

                   Peace from all the voices,

                   Peace from crushing noise,

                   Peace from inner rumbling

                   That mania employs- 

                   I seek way through the river,

                   I’ve turbulence inside.

                   I yield too much to chaos;

                   Within, my thoughts collide.

                   I pray to God and Buddha,

                   To divinities that may be,

                   To help me find the hidden path

                   To a peaceful reverie,

                   To be placid as still water,

                   To rest when things seem grim,

                   To endure as does the oak

                   Despite the weather’s whim.

                   As a rock amidst the rapids,

                   Though buffeted, still prevailing;

                   It’s time I learned to simply live

                   With all that Life’s entailing.

                   Too long at war inside my mind

                   (Often war begets no peace),

                    I become as stone and waters pass

                    ‘Til the voices simply cease….

Lines from this poem also ran through my head while meditating. 

There was a time after my separation from my wife when I would constantly wallow in depression, and I would try to pull myself out of it by repeating the word “endure” to myself.  It was like a lifeline that I threw to myself.  I’m not in the state I was at that period of my life anymore.  So perhaps it’s time I had a new mantra, not one to help me simply survive, but one to help me grow.

Will I ever find a greater level of inner peace, be in a better mental place with reduced anxiety and fear and greater self-assurance?  Will I be the better person I strive to be?

I suppose my meditating mind already answered that.

I am.  I can.  I shall.

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Our Words: “With Great Prowess Comes Great Responsibility”

6275825-a-pile-of-reference-books-isolated-against-a-white-backgroundI have a friend who said to me, “Words are powerful things.”  It was quite some time ago, but I believe I was saying something hurtful at the time.  And, as a writer (one of my few true skills), I had the ability to make my words really sting.

I’ve heard that there are studies in which the power of words was tested by saying “I love you” and “I hate you” to dishes of freezing water to see if there was any effect.  Reportedly, the ‘loved’ samples made beautiful crystalline formations, and the ‘hated’ samples made very fractured-looking structures.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I DO know what words can do to a person.

It’s rather hypocritical of me to be hurtful with my words, since I can still remember the things that were said to me as a child by my peers.  And let’s not talk about adolescence.  It’s because of that lingering pain that I have felt the need to amp up my words into a full-blown arsenal when I feel slighted.  It’s the desire to one-up the other and dish out more than you’ve received.

Words are indeed powerful things, and just as I’ve seen the hurt I can cause and have been caused, I’ve seen what KIND words can do and what my own have done for others.  I’ve had someone very important to me tell me how I always seem to say the right thing, the best, most perfect thing to help them stay grounded in that moment and maintain perspective.  You know what?  I like the feeling it gives me to have THAT effect on someone better than the scarring one.

I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog that I’m in a couple writers’ groups.  We ALL have this power, and ALL have this responsibility.  Even if you’re not a writer, the pain that words can cause can still last.  I’m sure the people that hurt me from childhood and on weren’t exactly Shakespearean in their verbal skill.  So may we all bear in mind the power of words, and pause before we do some damage to someone, because oftentimes that damage lasts far longer than it took to even speak.

Words: “With Great Prowess Comes Great Responsibility”   

  

Someone once said to me, “Words are powerful things”.

They can be used to help, or to hurt, an array that each one brings.

I’ve used my words in scathing ways, cutting deeply as I could;

I’ve also used them to let one know their pain is understood.

     I hope that when my time is up, what’s left when mine are heard

     Is something benevolent and sincere or else be deemed absurd.

     May others feel the light of love that’s hopefully interred

     Every time, from here on out, within my every word.

I have a gift to use my words in all the ways I do;

I’ve often been praised for all the shapes that I can mold them to.

But I must revere that power that I know they each contain,

Remember all the times they’re used, intent to cause one pain.

     May each sentence that I share leave no darkness that’s inferred,

     And if I fail in that regard, leave the recipient undeterred.

     Unless productive, taking flight like a paradisiacal bird,

     May no harm and only help be born by every word.

© Jordan Alan Fox 

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Geek Chic

IMG_1903I guess you’d say I was a late bloomer; I hung onto my childhood vices of reading comics, watching and reading science fiction films, programs, and books, and playing role-playing games well through high school and into my 20s.  In fact, I’m not a great artist, but I’m above average, and I credit comic books for teaching me most of what I know about drawing and anatomy.  But this was something you didn’t divulge back then in the ’80s and ’90s….unless you wanted to be even more publicly ostracized than you likely already were and make those teenage years of being an artistic geek rather than a football player even more of a living Hell.

Flash forward 15 years, and I was driving past the comic shop I used to frequent, and, out of a sense of nostalgia, I picked up some comics to read while on vacation. The next thing I knew, I was back to reading them regularly.

The difference is that now the universe has turned on its ear, and geek culture is about as mainstream as anything can possibly get.  There are gym rats working out in Captain America t-shirts, adult-sized hoodies that look like superhero costumes, sci/fi and superhero movies are the hugest box office hits, and people don’t think twice about any of it.  Target, Old Navy, and various stores at the mall sell Star Wars and comic book t-shirts, hats, and accessories.  Somehow, inexplicably, even the British cult television show Dr. Who has made a major surge into American popular culture and acceptability.   Would a show like Big Bang Theory have had such popularity and such an impact on merchandizing 20 years ago?  Would Game of Thrones be the best thing on T.V., viewed, discussed, and anticipated by so many?  I can’t honesty see either as having happened, but somehow escapist fantasy has taken over.  It’s so weird to see the things for which I worried about getting beaten up becoming ‘the new black’, to see Geek Chic become the norm.

But I want to be clear that I’m not too bitter about this development.  I think it’s wonderful to be able to wear an Iron Man t-shirt, or say that I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, without being looked at as an immature man-child.  It’s relieving to see things I’ve enjoyed for most of my life finally becoming something everyone loves.  There are folks that like to play at being some rebel, liking a band when hardly anyone knows them, but resenting that band once they achieve a measure of success.  I think that’s a pretty pathetic mindset, and I won’t have that attitude about the Realm of All Things Nerdy opening its portals to the masses.  I instead choose to rejoice in the fact that my childhood and teenage loves got their due.  I even got back into the role-playing games 2 years ago, and hardly anyone bats an eye when we meet in the food court at Wegman’s to play.

I suppose that it’s all because Star Wars as a franchise has thrilled so many despite the terrible ‘prequels’.  Or maybe it was that, as later generations picked up on the Star Wars franchise, they also had their imaginations piqued by Harry Potter, the fantastically written and portrayed series (I consider it the Star Wars for their time).  Maybe it’s just the fact that so many of the superhero movies are so entertaining.  Perhaps it’s because of a major confluence of all these things, and more.

I’m not sure how it happened; I’m just glad it did, that things I’ve enjoyed for most of my life are finally getting their due and being enjoyed by so many.  I love that NERD is the word, and that GEEK is chic.  You know what?  Maybe this means that I was actually an early bloomer after all….

You’ve Gotta Fight

NFLparody-bannerI must confess to being overly emotional of late.  My father has cancer, and it’s pretty bad.  He’s successfully beaten cancer before; in fact he had two types at once and beat both.  But this latest case is going to be very invasive and, I imagine, turbulent.

But there are other factors impacting my mood as well.  It’s football season, and of course that means seeing all the mike vick t-shirts and jerseys and eagles logos in general since I live in the killadelphia area.  Never an inspiration for positive thoughts where I’m concerned.

But the National Football League is now alleged by Peta to have spent $10 million on researching injuries by inflicting catastrophic damage upon dogs’ knees and driving pneumatic pistons into rats’ skulls and spines.  The animals that survive the testing are still euthanized (and who knows how humanely) because they’re messed up, and ‘no longer of service’.  When I put Peta’s petition to the NFL to stop this testing on my anti-vick Facebook page, someone gave the perfect response.  They said, “What do expect from an organization that welcomed vick back with open arms and open checkbooks?”

The NFL responded to Peta’s claim with a legalese-riddled reply that speaks of “board-approved methods” and “acceptable parameters”.

Bleacher Report, an online sports news medium, reached out to the NFL for comment and received a statement that:

“Grant recipients must follow existing industry ethical standards for medical research established by the scientific community. All grant requests have to be approved in advance by the institutional review board of the participating institution.  In addition, we require any proposal to have been submitted for approvals by the institution’s animal care and use committee prior to applying for funds.”

 

It is in NO way a denial.  To me, it essentially says, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.  Incidentally, dripping corrosive substances into rabbits’ eyes and attaching funnels to a bunch of Beagles’ heads through which cigarette smoke is blown until they get lung cancer are also “board-approved methods” that are “within acceptable parameters”.

So, in addition to the fear of losing my father (he’s 73, and there will be several major steps at which anything can happen during the removal surgery, reconstructive surgery, and radiation follow-up), I am  considering no longer watching football again.  I love this sport, and giving up watching it is seriously depressing.  Arguably, I should have done this when they first readmitted vicky into the league.  I’m tired of losing things I love because it’s the right thing to do.  But taking the stands that I do is more important to me than being a fan of something.

I’ve made so many changes, excised so many types of things from my daily life.  Giving up meat and dairy has made eating unenjoyable.  Again, I know it’s the right thing to do, but eating, once a fun thing, almost a celebration, is no longer so.  I put it off as long as I can sometimes because I dread it.  Additionally, all the vegetable-based things wreck my insides a lot of the time.  And then there are all of the cleaning products and hygienic products I’ve been getting rid of because Proctor and Gamble also tests on animals.  It’s a constant fight to do what’s right.

But giving up everything leads me back to my opening sentence of getting overly emotional about things.  I’m worked up over many things right now (including some other personal issues I haven’t mentioned here), but I’m wondering if it all matters in the end.  Animal testing and consumption is going to continue long after I’m gone.  Wars are still going to be fought over religious or political differences.  In fact there are wars going on within political bodies such as Congress just because one party doesn’t like the other and wants to block any potential progress because it’s on the other party’s agenda.  Innocent animals are still going to be beaten, burned, abandoned, and neglected, and judges and legislators still won’t consider these important enough to institute harsher penalties.  People will still rape, murder and steal from each other well after I’m dust and my name is remembered by none.  People are still going to contract awful disease, and even if we find cures, new maladies or strains are always popping up.

So I’m wondering what the point of constantly fighting for change is when the odds seem insurmountable.  Some would say that faith is what gets them through and that I need to have some of my own to escape this spiral.  But that’s not my way.  I’m too much of a scientific mind to cross over into the realm of spirituality.

But I can’t stop the fight.  I want to give up but can’t.  Maybe that means being unhappy and struggling through all the things I must give up.  There’s a saying that once you’ve seen the bad things, you can look the other way, but you can never again say that you didn’t know.  I DO know, and learn more all the time.  Can’t turn back now.

And as much as I doubt my father’s chances against all of the medical trauma to come, I have to fight to stay strong and positive for him, too.

 

Peta’s petition:

Tell the NFL to Stop Funding Sports-Injury Experiments on Animals secure.peta.orgThe National Football League Foundation is funding horrific and deadly sports injuryrelated experiments on animals. Ask them to stop!

 

For those that care to check out my anti-vick page:

Vick-timized: Giving Voice to the Voiceless OnesCommunity · 595 like this

 

(Photo used is from the Peta petition.)

Love and The Loss of the Lost

Some of you that have been around my blog for awhile will recall my involvement on Facebook with sharing profiles of pets in shelters to spare them from euthanasia.  This happens by either having any of my page subscribers be a potential foster/adopter or be able link any given animal with a rescue that may be willing to pick up that animal.  The people with whom I network in this process are all over the world, and we have many different group pages on which we share information.

It is about a woman in this network around which today’s post is centered.  She and I hadn’t officially become “friends” on there, but I had crossed her path many times over the last 3 years, and I’m sure we must have conversed on several occasions.  I was very familiar with her name and the icon she had been using for that entire time.  Many people change their profile pic all the time, but hers was constant, and instantly recognizable.

A few weeks ago, we got the news that she had taken her life.  I went numb when I read that.  I feel guilty that I never did “befriend” her on there.  She even lived within 2 hours from me.  But the fact that I didn’t “know” her has not diminished the sense of loss and amount of sadness I feel.  I’ve heard bits and pieces about what led her to this decision, but in the end these don’t matter.  This was a caring, giving, loving person who sacrificed so much to help others.  She rescued several animals herself, and was an incredibly respected woman.

But we never know what someone’s limit will be.  We never know what burdens another may have that might finally crush a person.  Depression is so often not a sign of weakness, but a sign that someone has had to be too strong, through too much, for too long.  Some will (and have) been outspoken about what they feel is a completely selfish and irresponsible act on the part of individuals that have come to making the choice she did.  I choose to see (and encourage you to as well) that a person must be in an incredible amount of pain to come to that decision.

I understand quite a bit about depression and what it can do to a person.  I have suffered from it myself through many stretches of my life.  I have had so many people close to me suffer from it as well.  In fact, some of those that are closest to me at present are so because we’ve bonded together over our experiences, sharing them, and supporting each other through them.

I will even volunteer here that I tried to end my own life once myself, in 1995.  I’m not going to discuss the details of that here, but I know how low a person can get.  Everyone has a breaking point.

I  had a CD playing in my car which has 2 songs which remind me of this woman’s loss, one of those songs possibly describing the thoughts that may have gone through her head in the days preceding her death.  The other one speaks to me of the story of those that loved her having to let her go.  It was just coincidence that this disc was playing in my car at the time of her death, and I suppose I hadn’t really thought of the lyrics in question in this way before.  But I was driving, the songs played, and as I listened to the words, the correlation hit me.  I continued to drive, crying all the way to my destination.  I’ve included links to videos of these songs which include the lyrics.

What I want to close this post with is just to say that please don’t judge those dealing with depression.  Please be observant of your loved ones, and try to be aware of the warning signs.  Even if you see a coworker to whom you’re not especially close that seems in distress, or a stranger that seems upset, does it cost you that much to say, “Excuse me. Are you okay?”

I worked with a guy once that said to me, “All we ever have is each other.”  I asked him if he was talking specifically about me and him, dealing with a boss that was not fun to work for, to say the least.  Or was he talking about something broader, more universal, between people in this world.  He said, “Both”.  And he’s right.  In this chaotic universe, dealing with tragedies anywhere from personal to global, all we ever have is each other.

And those people that you love?  Please let them know it.  You never know when you will have spoken for the last time.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LeRB14kt3II

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Yipca8hYce0

(This photo was found on the site http://www.dawnoftheunicorn.co.uk)

Hospitals

Hospitals. What a horrific word. When one thinks of hospitals, he or she probably thinks of the sick, the broken, the dying, the dead. Some may actually think of them in a positive light, as a place of healing the infirm, aiding the impaired, curing the ill.

Hospitals aren’t always for the physical, however.

In my own life, I’ve had loved ones, the most important people in the whole world to me, suffer from trauma and other wounds on the INSIDE. THAT’S what I think of initially. Inpatient facilities, outpatient step-down programs, psycho-therapeutic drugs, depression, shock therapy. The complete cessation of a once-normal life.

I’ve watched these loved ones become unable to go to work or school, sometimes unable to get out of bed. I’ve had loved ones unable to be at home for their own safety, as well as others’.

This is what the word “hospitals” conjures up for me.

I know I could look at them, in these cases, as the places of healing, and don’t get me wrong; I do. I am so very grateful for all of the programs out there that you never knew existed until they were needed. I’m thankful to every single soul who chooses the profession of helping the people in need. Thank God above (or whatever entity or force may exist) for all of this.

For the foreseeable future, though, horrific is how I’ll describe them.

I’ve logged so many miles driving more than an hour to visit my loved ones in these facilities, sometimes leaving from one place to visit someone else in another. Afterward, I’d go home, sleep, go to work, and do it all over again.

I’ve logged so many miles on the NJ Turnpike that, if you check out the details of the many included in my New Jersey tattoo, there is an outline of the Turnpike (the green strip going diagonally up from left to right). This was, in fact the impetus for the design. I’ve earned that detail, like a badge. A medal in fact, since there were times, as the last one of my family “on the outside” I called myself The Last Man Standing. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thank God (or whatever entity or force may exist) the hospitals are there, but I pray to God (ditto) you and yours will never need them.

I’m envious of the quality of writing in this article. It’s a few years old, but I just came across it. In light of all the fuss over alleged death threats against vick and the subsequent cancellation of his book signing tour (as if he wrote the damned thing–he can barely conjure a credible sentence), I think all of the facts presented here are as staggering a testimonial to truth and decency as I’ve seen with the exception of the book “The Lost Dogs” by Jim Gorant. In response to his tour cancellation, vick asked why animal activists still feel the need to bash him after all these years. This article answers it perfectly, and then some.

Chris Durant's World

Michael Vick was Wrongly Convicted!

Since this past Monday and more specifically for the majority of the Philadelphia Eagles sensational season, I have heard so many people touting Michael Vick. Oh yeah, “Michael Vick has really turned it around, “ etc.

And now, Barrack Obama, the President of the United States, the de facto leader of the Free World, thought it would be a good idea to chirp in and toss a little praise his way as well by taking the time to make a phone call (while on vacation in Hawaii) to the owner of the Eagles and commend him for giving Vick a 2nd chance.

REALLY!?!?

(Here’s your class act role model Mr. President)

I think anyone who thinks that Michael Vick has paid his debt and is a reformed individual needs to take a little walk down memory lane and remind themselves just what this so-called man…

View original post 1,872 more words

My Writing….

I’ve been encouraged to share more of my writing, and even to get published.  I don’t know about the publishing thing, especially because of cost and the fact that in order to sell books as a poet, one needs to be 1. Maya Angelou, 2. Nikki Giovanni, or 3. Deceased.  But I thought I’d share something I wrote that’s very personal, and I consider it one of the most important things I’ve ever done.  The story is true.

 

 

 

This Was Not                                                      10/29/09

 

 

Standing at the work table,

I’m off drifting in my brain.

My body knows what it’s doing,

And the mind has its own way

Of passing time.

I remember many things

While standing at my table.

My hands have done these tasks for years,

So the memories flow unbidden

Into the waiting silence.

 

I remember buying you cheap toys

For your eighth birthday,

Your first back in Jersey.

It was all we could afford

After eight months of medical bills

And your mother out of work.

One broke that very evening,

And I was so scared you’d be upset.

It didn’t seem to faze you,

But I’d wanted so much more

For you

After the SHIT

That had become of that year.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

I leave my table, the work abandoned,

As I need to dry my eyes.

But my synapses decide

Upon my return

That they’re not done just yet.

 

I remember being asked

In one of the Fairmount family groups,

What my biggest fear for you was.

You hadn’t been HOME,

Residing in centers

For traumatized children

For most of the year.

This was where you’d spend

Your NEXT birthday.

My answer was that all this

Would still be going on

And you’d lose the last years

Of the closing window

Of your childhood

Without getting to have

A normal one.

 

I remember helping you move

From there to your third center,

And eventually to your fourth,

All within two years.

It was at the fourth one

Where you’d turn

The ripe old age

Of ten.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

I remember the times before this,

When you told us

Things,

Things your biological father did to you.

We decided that

When you came off the school bus

You would be given dinner,

And some things would be packed

For you and your mother.

I’d stay behind to pack our things

And arrange for the movers.

I watched

As you were driven back to Jersey that night

In a February New England blizzard

To save you from your father.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

I remember when

We had just reunited

After the midnight run out of Rhode Island.

You were uncontrollably

Acting out, as we now know

Abuse victims will do,

Because of what your father did to you.

The  daily and nightly rages,

Triggered by flashbacks,

Would eventually require

Restraining you

Because of the harm

You’d cause

To yourself,

And to others.

This became

Your daily experience,

And it was a miracle

When you were actually able

To make it to school.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

I walk away from my table yet again,

Knowing someone will see me

Soon enough.

I tell myself,

“Endure!”,

Wanting desperately to hold it together.

 

But then I remember

Your mother and I

Reviewing the options given

By the prescribing therapist.

You needed help with the feelings

And the images

In your seven-year-old head.

THIS drug may cause

Kidney failure

After six months of use.

THIS drug may cause

Seizures,

Or other loss

Of motor function.

 

You have had your

Blood polluted,

Your chemistry FUCKED with,

Because you were worse off

Without these poisons

Meant to help you heal.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

You will soon turn eleven,

And you’re still not home.

You are still not able

To handle the rage,

The flashbacks of your father,

All of the emotional damage,

And I know that window,

That precious window

Of time

Called your formative years

Is gone;

What I feared for you

Has happened,

And I can only cry

At my work table.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

©2012 Jordan Fox

“Turn Up Light and Sound”

I saw the band Rush on Friday, October 12th.  Rush is a band I’ve loved since 1989, and they’ve been a musical and lyrical inspiration since then.  In fact, I credit them with expanding my own lyrical skill in the first place.    MusicallyRush has always been a creator of challenging and interesting material, and have influenced and inspired uncountable amounts of musicians over their 38-year recording career.  Geddy Lee is still my all-time favorite bass player, Neil Peart is one of the most widely recognized monarchs of the drum kit as well as of lyrics, and Alex Lifeson is an unbelievable guitar player, capable of very emotional and technical solos, and able to play an incredible array of styles.

A picture on my wall of Geddy Lee. It was taken by the band’s late longtime photographer, Andrew MacNaughtan.

I only saw them once, in 1990 or ’91, and  I sat way up in the 3rd level.  As a result, I didn’t feel like I was even there.  I was also very young, had the attention span of a gnat, and wasn’t mentally able to take it all in.  I wanted to see them last year, on their  tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their signature album, Moving Pictures.  Veterinary bills kept me from being able to attend, and there was no way I was missing this one in support of their newest album.  It was absolutely amazing.

Detractors of the band have consistently pinpointed one reason for not liking Rush, and that’s Geddy’s voice. He’s known for singing in a very high register, and it was especially stratospheric in the earlier part of their career.  His voice can’t quite do the highs as much anymore, and it’s reflected on the last 2 albums in the lower range he chooses.  I’m curious as to how much that effects their decision when choosing which songs to perform.  One thing to consider when analyzing his performance is that he sings while playing some incredibly complex bass lines, as well as the synthesizer parts.  He’s practically a band unto himself.

The show definitely focused on the latter-half of their career, with the exception of classics that would be murderous of them not to include, such as their hugest commercial success, Tom Sawyer.  And Geddy’s voice held up better than I expected.

Rush, as a group, have a very jovial way about them, and this always translates onto their tours, despite the seriousness of their album content.  They always do slapstick films on the rear projection screen, have roadies run on stage in bizarre outfits, and have done things over the last few tours such as having washing machines on stage out of which roadies take t-shirts to throw into the audience and having a chicken rotisserie which roadies come out to baste while wearing chef’s hats and aprons.

While I was intent on taking the show in and not missing anything (who knows how many more tours there’ll be), some of the glow still disperses as daily life overtakes the memories.  Thanks to the magic of youtube, however, there’s an entire catalogue of performances recorded on cell phones (with surprising quality), including the show I saw in Philadelphia.  Getting to rekindle the magic is priceless.

As for the album they’re supporting on this tour:  Rush, in the past, has done numerous long songs (entire sides of albums, sometimes) with a story being told via the lyrics.  The latest offering, Clockwork Angels, is a full concept album, and it’s also surprisingly heavy musically.  One treat that they did this time was work with author Kevin J. Anderson to produce the story as a novel as well.  The novel helps to make more sense of the album since Anderson had 300 pages to work with as opposed to 12 songs.

In the book, Anderson (who has been friends with Peart for many years) drops lines from Rush songs and other references that long-time fans will understand throughout the text.  Inspired by this, as well as the experience of the concert, I wrote a poem which uses song titles in the same way.  I also chose a really obscure rhyme scheme.  Instead of using couplets or rhyming every other line , I waited 3 lines after the initial one to rhyme.  I did this to honor the 3 members of the band.

Turn Up Light and Sound (What a Rush) 10/14/12

A 22-year devotion,

To see these 3 on lighted stage

The aural assault, the lighting’s dance–

An evening charged with emotion!

And as these stars advance in age,

There may not be another chance,

So I ponied up what entry cost.

It didn’t matter, to make this night;

I’d work out paying bills somehow.

I couldn’t bear this opportunity lost,

To miss them in latest limelight

Circumstances I couldn’t allow.

Stage hands scrambled all about;

I sensed the countdown impending.

They made their final preparations

Before the band could come out

To amaze all who were attending,

And feeding all our anticipations.

Like a body electric, the stage came alight;

We watched the big screen animate.

You bet your life I had to be there,

Hear those mystic rhythms that night,

An evening to leave our mortal state

And revel in a show beyond compare.

And hours later, to have been exposed

To a musicianship, a stagecraft

Lovingly honed for 4+ decades,

To some of the greatest rock composed,

A spectacle upon which we can graft,

And a euphoria that meets the accolades.

Nothing lacked in their chemistry,

Other bands seen a far cry from this.

I wished for a time stand still, to perceive,

Savor, prolong the sweet miracle before me,

For vapor trails become of this bliss.

I pray the afterimage will never leave.

 

© 2012 Jordan Alan Fox

Rush – YYZ Live 10/1212 Philadelphia PA Wells Fargo Complete Killer Multicam HD Show 2012www.youtube.comAwesome show. as always with this amazing band.this is one camera angle out of 4 that will be an amazing mix. if intrested inthe complete show email me at ba…

“The Anarchist” Rush@Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia 10/12/12 Clockwork Angels Tourwww.youtube.comThe Anarchist, Rush, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA; October 12th, 2012; Clockwork Angels Tour

Rush – Tom Sawyer – Philadelphia 10/12/12www.youtube.comWells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA, October 12, 2012. Entire show filmed (stage shot), partial show (screen).

RUSH – “Headlong Flight” – Official Lyric Videowww.youtube.comThe official lyric video for “Headlong Flight” – the first single from the new album Clockwork Angels – available everywhere June 12th. Pre-order here: http:…

RUSH – “The Wreckers” Official Lyric Videowww.youtube.comThe official lyric video for “The Wreckers” – the new single from the album Clockwork Angels

Subdivisions – Rushwww.youtube.com”Subdivisions” is a Rush song often considered to be describing feelings of isolation, boredom, conformity, and sadness springing up from teenage life in the…

clockwork-angels-hardcover-book.html

Clockwork Angels

Why michael vick Proves There Is No God or Karma

Alrighty, how’s that for a title?  Provocative, I know.  But it’s how I feel.  I couldn’t think any lower of vick for his past.  In fact, you’ll notice I’ve taken a friend’s suggestion and disrespecting him by never capitalizing his name.

Yet with Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, and his team’s 3-1 start to the season, the fervor for this monster grows.  To have been reinstated into the NFL in the first place after electrocuting, beating, drowning and hanging innocent lives while also forcing them to fight to the death is unbelievable enough.  But how easily the Phickle Phans of Philthadelphia have been won over by his self-proclaimed “redemption” is simply maddening.  I have admittedly never been a person given to the ways of faith. But I’ve always wanted to be, believe it or not.  What little chance I could have had to move beyond the need for things to be scientifically tangible and incontrovertible, to believe in something greater, has been eradicated by the lack of Godly wraith or bad Karma to come vick’s way.

Sure, he spent 19 months in a minimum security prison for illegal gambling.  But he served ZERO jail time for animal cruelty and abuse.  The prosecutor in Virginia (from where vick hails and also where his dogfighting operation was) didn’t want to be the bad guy for going after the local sports hero.  If he had his way, vick would have served no jail time or at least less than the sentence given.  So the arguments I always hear of “he did his time” are extremely inaccurate.

Then Roger Goodell, the football league’s commissioner, could have set the standard by not allowing vick to return to the NFL.  Goodell entered his position as a man on a mission.  He fined and suspended people left and right, wanting to set the example of “zero tolerance” on behavior detrimental to the image of the league.  Yet, given the chance to ban vick forever and setting the bar where he claimed he wanted it, Goodell allowed vick’s return.

Now, I will admit some bias here, but my favorite team’s quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has had his own legal issues:  he was twice accused of sexual assault.  He was never found guilty on either charge.  I know it’s possible that he simply paid off the accusers as most believe.  But I also know that athletes and celebrities are targets for those seeking a payday.  I honestly don’t believe basketball’s Kobe Bryant raped the girl that accused him of such  in Colorado.  He did sleep with her, yes.  And he gave a woman the best paycheck of her life as a result.  So there is a 50% chance that Roethlisberger is innocent just as there’s a 50% chance he committed the crime.  But the only thing of which I KNOW he is guilty is being stupid enough to put himself in that position to be accused, especially after the first accusation.  I hope he didn’t do it, but I’ll never know one way or the other.  vick, on the other hand, is unquestionably guilty.

I bring this up because, after the second accusation, Goodell suspended Roethlisberger 4 games for being such an awful role model and potentially tarnishing the league’s image.  That same summer, vicky-boy threw a birthday party in which someone was shot.  vick didn’t do it, but the person who did was one of the crew with whom he hung out during his dogfighting days.  Goodell did nothing, though vick, already a controversial person, had shown an equally poor example of off-the-field decision making.  There is the possibility that Goodell didn’t want to look bad for having to punish the dirtbag he just pardoned.

Additionally, upon vick’s reinstatement and subsequent signing to the philadelphia eagles, his jersey was one of the top 2 in sales.  The fans didn’t care what he did.  His jersey to this day is still anywhere in the top 20 in sales.  I believe there are a great amount of his fans that love the fact that such a thug made good and went back to earn millions.  I will be fair here and mention that he doesn’t get to keep all of that money.  He has many debts to pay as part of his sentence.  He has even become richer, however, by many companies signing endorsement deals with him.  These include Nike, Musclepharm, and Subway.  He even has his own clothing line.  I and others I know have boycotted these companies, and have informed those companies as to why.

But here he is, making more than I ever will short of a lottery win, being adored by the masses (and not just in Killadelphia), and unfortunately succeeding on the field to such an extent that his inhumane and simply INHUMAN crimes are a distant memory to most.

So, if there is the God of which Judeo-Christian faith speaks, and/or there is a celestial force weighing Karma, why is this the case?  I don’t want to hear that the guilty are punished in the next life.  Why is he being so rewarded in this one?  And I’ll make the same argument for Roethlisberger if he is, in fact, guilty of sexual assault.  Why is he, too, rewarded if so?  

And why does all of this matter to me so much?  I often wonder if I’m wrong for fighting so hard against injustice, and for taking injustice so personally.  I’d definitely be a much happier person if I could let it go.  Should I just be one of the many uncaring citizens of the Philadelphia area, and only worry about the entertainment value of the game, and forget about the rest?  Should I just let sleeping dogs lie, and let dead dogs die?

As I said, I believe some buy into the sick following of vick BECAUSE of his past.  Dogfighting in this area has actually gone up 300% since his arrival.  Maybe they figure they’ll get off with 19 months, too, should they be caught.  Some truly believe that he is a transformed man, and that there is sincerity in his monotoned PSAs and court- and agent-ordered charity donations.  And many, like a girl with whom I work, simply can’t be bothered with thinking about him as more than a win or a loss for her team.  I tried explaining to her that I no longer support the eagles because they signed vick, and that I will never forgive him for his disgusting past.  She said, “I don’t know anything about that”, and walked away before she could be educated about “that”.  She knew, but didn’t want to deal with it.  It was literally an inconvenient truth.  I feel that this is the category in which most fans reside.

I find myself thinking that perhaps I should also ignore all of the truths and just deal with wins and losses and championship titles.  But then I think about a dog being tortured in the most agonizing ways.  I think of a man who admitted the pleasure he got watching them tear each other to pieces, and feeling the lives leave their bodies as he did away with those who lost fights or showed no aggression.

I also think more and more of just never watching a sport I love ever again, because it hurts my soul to watch injustices of the most heinous nature be rewarded in every possible way.

My Newest Poem–Consider Yourself Warned!

So here is my latest poem, fresh off the presses.  If you want something uplifting, sorry–this isn’t the one for you.  I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say it’s very somber, to say the least.

 

 

Disposable Lives  

 

Enter a dungeon, lined with cages and stink–

Prisoners await their number to be called,

These numbers replacing names and dignity.

Matts of hair and bandages line the corner sink.

If birth means promise, then theirs is forestalled.

Their eyes no longer appeal for your pity.

These sounds now defining their universe:

Yelps, and whimpers, and pale, simple breaths.

Food plates abandoned, as are thoughts of hope,

Their birth no promise, instead struck by curse.

They seem to know they’re awaiting their deaths,

Their acceptance their only means to cope.

Their final walk is to a box which kills,

Their parents still freezing in puppy mills–

An evil the lowest of men contrives–

Now they’re just disposable lives.

Once they were thought so cherished a treasure;

Once they were bought, given assurances of love.

Once they were forced to fight in a Hellhole;

Once they were worth more than sick pleasure.

Once they were thought of as gifts from above;

Once they were considered possessing a soul.

Now in this dungeon, a chamber is set;

Now in their cells they witness each drag

Of one of their cellmates into the next room.

Here, in this chamber, they defecate and wet

Before piled corpses are tossed in a bag

Because no one came dispelling their doom.

Their final walk is to a box that kills,

Air withdrawn, not before each shrills

Their own dirge like sounds of scraping knives–

All bred to be disposable lives.

 

© 2012 Jordan Alan Fox

 

 

Now you need to go watch your favorite comedy….

Wow. Just Wow. Tales of Censorship and Love

I edited my last post.  How so?  I changed the link I gave to my anti-Vick page.  Why?  I changed the NAME of the page.  How come?  Because the Troll Patrol was let out of their cells early.  The page was rocking along, hitting 100 subscribers, and crawling towards 150.  Then the assaults started coming.

Three people told me they reported the page to FaceCrook.  One, and then another, told me they called the police to inform them of my page (again, titled at the time as Mike Vick should be shot, electrocuted, hung, and beaten) and that they thought it was a credible threat upon Vick’s actual person.  Of course, those doing the reporting have pictures of themselves in Eagles jerseys and pictures of Vick as the banner photo.  Perhaps I bit off too much, perhaps I was trying to be too cute in making my point that these reports usually fail (from reporting the obscene things I listed in my last post).  Perhaps it was naive of me to not see more attacks on the page than just reporting to FaceCrook.  I certainly didn’t see calls going to the police that I was an actual threat to Vick’s life.

Then the subscribers started engaging in verbal warfare with the trolls.  I kept asking them to stop retorting, but they wouldn’t listen.  I didn’t want to block anyone; just as I believed I was exercising freedom of speech, I wanted to be fair and let the jerks say their piece in opposition to my page.  But putting up warnings that the arguing wasn’t going to help our cause wasn’t stopping anything.  What could have been 10-comment posts became 96-comment posts.  I eventually decided I had to block the assailants.  I had to figure out exactly how to do that, since I’d never encountered trolls on my other pages, but then again, those other pages were never provocative.  When blocking the comments and those posting them, a feature came up to report abusive comments to FaceCrook.  It seems petty to have done so, but I guess fair is fair.  They reported me for commenting that I’d like to see Vick come to physical harm (though I didn’t actually say I’D be trying to do it), and I reported them for calling my subscribers fat, ugly, unfit mothers and white-trash (insert nickname for female anatomical part that begins with “C”).

I asked the subscribers what they thought of a name change, and I was worried that it was like conceding defeat.  But they were very supportive, and even suggested names.  After digesting what they offered, and a day to think it over, the page is now Vick-timized: Giving Voice to the Voiceless Ones.  I think it’s good timing to change it now, because I have the subscriber base to share and get the page out there now, where the title was what drew the early ones.  It’s got the flavor of the original, but not the “Oh, you’re threatening my crybaby dogkiller quarterback vibe”.  Now the page’s standards can do it rather than the fireworks display.

I did also put up legal-ese statements including: “This page, while educational in nature by trying to raise awareness of dogfighting and animals abuse, obviously provides some satyrical release for those that are disgusted by Vick’s actions. I am making it clear that this page is not in any way suggesting that anyone seek Vick out or attempt to harm him in any way. You may wish whatever you like upon him, but I’m not suggesting anyone actually pursues vigilante actions.”

One woman, who was actually rather sweet, eventually was able to talk to us and not have to be blocked.  She said that her sister, an activist, was taking posts from my page and bombarding her with them.  So that’s probably how they all found me.  My own subscribers might have been hate-bombing Vick fans with my content, which was traceable back to my page.  I had to put up another statement that this is not acceptable, and I apologized to the woman for her being accosted that way.

It has been crazy.  What a night–I had gotten up at 4 a.m. that morning for work, and other than a one-hour nap, I was still up at 5:30 this morning.  I got perhaps another hour of sleep then.  It’s all so surreal.

I wonder what will come of the calls to the police (if, indeed, they were made).  Perhaps the fact that the title is changed and the fact that all the content on the page is about dogfighting awareness, debunking the stereotypes about pit bulls, some non-violent jabs at Vick, and lists of his endorsers to boycott (which seems all legal to me) will save me.  I guess, if the police even bother to look into it, they’ll just look at the page and see that.  With the name change, they might not even be able to find it at all. I changed the link to it as well.

So there we are.  Tales of censorship and love (for the cause).

And thus the Beat(ing) Goes On….

Okay, so last time I mentioned my friend Marie’s suggestion that I throw my animal advocacy poems in here.  So why not?  As I come up with them, I shall do so.

On a different topic (slightly), there have always been pages and photos that I and other advocates (of varying causes) have reported to FaceCrook to be removed.  Such includes a page called Adalia Must Die, which targets a young girl who appears to have terminal cancer.  Targeting those with illness or disability and harmful or hateful speech are both reportable infractions.  We’ve also reported pics of people holding up bloody wolf pelts (violence or graphic content), pics of people appearing to strangle puppies by holding them off the ground with hands around the throat (violence, harmful behavior), and pics of cats with guns shoved in their mouth or pointed at their heads (ditto).  FaceCrook inevitably sends an email that the pages and photos reported have not been taken down due to “lack of evidence”.  Hmmm.

This takes me to Monday.  I was at work, and it occurred to me that I should create a page with the title “Michael Vick should be shot, electrocuted, hung, and beaten”.  Surely this won’t be a violation of FaceCrook conduct policies if those other items weren’t.  And these are the exact things Michael Vick did to dogs.  He shot them, drowned them, etc., and admitted his joy in doing so.

In an interview after being released from prison, reinstated in the NFL, and signed by the Eagles, Vick was asked if he had any regrets or anything he would change in his life.  His initial response was “No.”  The interviewer asked, incredulously, if he was sure he wouldn’t change ANYTHING.  ANYTHING AT ALL.  Vick’s response was that perhaps he’d like less jail time than he was given.  For the record, he spent 18 months in jail for illegal gambling.  Those that like to tell me “he served his time” are errant in that he served the above sentence and NOT ONE SECOND for animal abuse or cruelty.  None.

So perhaps he needs a little karma to come his way.  And karma is a….female dog.

I did indeed create my page, and I’m already near 50 followers.  It consists of a lot of the same things that I do on my regular advocacy page (petitions and animal rights issues), but the focus is on dog fighting, Breed Specific Legislation (the boycott of specific breeds such as Pit Bulls in certain cities, airlines, and other places), and promoting better awareness.  Many folks out there have made pictures of Vick with different humorous phrases on them, and those absolutely go in there when I find them.  My page link is:  Boycott Vick for the Voiceless Ones.  Now let’s go full circle to my first paragraph about poems.  I wrote 2 for my page, and here they are.  The second one references a certain STD Vick is known to have.  They were meant to be silly (that’s the story I’m sticking to).

Fried Green Infrahumanos 8/27/12

I hate Michael Vick;
He should be fried like frittata,
And then hung,
Beaten like a piñata!

An Ode to Vick, et. al.  8/28/12

Working to save animals is cooler than Slurpees;

I hate all abusers (especially ones with herpes).

I’d like to see karma hit them all like a rocket;

Let’s set off fireworks in each’s front pocket.

That’ll keep each one from attempting any breeding;

They’ll get what’s deserved with their crotches burned and bleeding.

The monsters they are would be displayed by their new features,

And perhaps they’ll no longer assault defenseless creatures.

They went over well with the activists, at least!

I’ll end with a plug for the book The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant.  This book is written from the accounts of the police officer and FBI officer who ran the bust on Vick’s compound, the animal forensics expert on the case, and the people that rescued the still living dogs.  If you don’t understand why we activists won’t let it go, won’t forgive or forget, it is all in the book, the whole ugly truth.

Amazon.com: The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their …

Disclaimer:  I’m not actually saying anyone should go and confront Vick and mete out their own justice.  This is stated in fun and as a way to vent the disgust over Vick’s actions.


It’s Been Awhile….(The Dog Days of Writing?)

It’s been quite a bit of time since I wrote in here, and quite a long stretch since I regularly posted at all.  I’ve mentioned numerous times that the animal advocacy eats up my time, and, well….there you go.

A friend (hi, Marie!) recommended that I regularly write and post poetry based on advocacy issues.  Now, I can’t control when, if, or in what way The Muse will strike, and I want every piece to be as perfect as I can make it, especially for something so meaningful.  It’s hard not to get sing-songy and cheesy when you’re chasing after something so heart-felt, at least in my experiences.  And really hard not to force it out which, of course, makes it SOUND forced.

In previous posts I mentioned how seeing the cases of animals needing to be pulled from shelters to avoid euthanasia and petitions against abuse (which include photos), etc., batter the brain, leaving images burned in the mind’s eye.  It is in response to these images that I wrote a poem back in April in one of my writers’ groups.  We were given a prompt to use, and this prompt was “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

Here is my creation:

 

 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 

 

Pictures of those gathered, or alone,

Beaten, abandoned, starved to bone,

With burned and scarred and ravaged hides:

A death blow thrown to my insides.

Their faces shown, which overwhelm,

Await release to another realm,

Stares unfocused, fixedly seared,

And souls that long-since disappeared.

Suffering I can’t understand,

Yet this is brought by human hand.

These inflictions: craven, disgusting,

When they were bred to be so trusting!

Relentless harm, though victims yield;

No longer shall this be concealed!

Words can’t state the horrors shown;

Of cruelties for which we must atone!

These wicked ways must be undone,

These countless pictures reduced to none.

 

Dedicated to those that fight for animal rights and welfare, and, more importantly, to the animals themselves.

© 2012 Jordan Alan Fox

 

I hope you like it, as I am incredibly proud of it.  I’ll admit it’s actually hard to read it myself without getting choked up.

In other news, I was the featured poet at a coffee house near me on August 3rd.  There was 2 hours of total time.  I picked 18 poems out and practiced reciting them to get it to about 30 minutes, including time to give a background on certain pieces.  That would leave plenty of time for the “open forum” after my “set” in which others could choose to share their work.

I believe it went well, but I have to admit that the group of 15-20 people there were friends or friends of the woman that set the whole thing up.  She is the same woman from one of my groups that asked me to do the “He Said/She Said” Valentine’s reading.  I’m scheduled to do another one in October, plus an open mic night 10 days later.  I will read the poem above, for sure.

Of Cruelty and Shame, of Lennox and Buck

Lately I cry and cry.  I have to admit that I’m an overly emotional person (I once had a female manager tell me I was “worse than a woman”).  Regardless of the fact that I’m given to feeling things profoundly, I’d have to say that the last 6 months or so have been exceptionally turbulent with tears.

Those that have followed my post or at least read a sampling of it before might know that my hobby is animal advocacy.  To all of you that have been to Grasping the Tale before, I apologize for the months since my last post, but it is my engagement in this second full-time, non-paying vocation that has kept me from blogging.  In fact, I haven’t really written even my poetry/lyrics with any kind of appreciable frequency.  Whichever part of the brain it is which I utilize to advocate has kept me wrapped up there so I can’t transition to the creative part.

About  the tears: it is so draining to see the animals for which I advocate suffer so much, have their innocence and dependence upon mankind be betrayed so badly.  It runs from the (unfortunately) typical cases of neglect to the worst possible scenarios.  Two cases recently have taken a toll on those of us that dwell in the “online animal kingdom”.

One is the story of Lennox, an American Bulldog/Retriever mix that was a family pet in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Lennox was seized by the Belfast City Council for violation of DDA, or Dangerous Dogs Act, which is known as BSL (or Breed Specific Legislation) in America.  The Council determined Lennox to be a Pit Bull even though he is the breed mix stated above.  Pit Bulls are banned in Belfast as per the DDA.  Despite the fact that he only resembled a pit bull and had never bitten, attacked, or even threatened anyone, Lennox was taken.  While in their custody, one member of the Belfast Council declared Lennox too dangerous to be allowed to live, even though video exists of her with Lennox stitting by her feet and at one point even licking her.  The family fought through the legal system for two years to regain their cherished family member.  After losing the last round of appeals at the end of June, the family’s legal counsel advised them to end the fight.

During this entire ordeal, the world became aware of the story, and literally hundreds of thousands of advocates were signing and posting petitions to free Lennox and return him to his home.  Later on, well-reknowned animal behavior experts such as Cesar Milan and Victoria Stilwell offered to take Lennox out of the country and work with this “dangerous” dog to become a well-mannered, safe member of society (which, of course, he already was).  The City Council ignored all requests.  The council declared that they would euthanize Lennox at 7:00 a.m. on July 11th.

There was a flurry of activity to add even more signatures to the petitions, and media markets all over the world ran pieces about the fight to save Lenox’s life.  Hoping that the negative publicity would move the Council even if the appeals to their human decency failed, the animal-loving world held its breath.

Lennox was killed by the council as declared on the morning of July 11th.  So many mourn this senseless and evil loss of life, and sympathize with Lennox’s family, who were denied requests to see him one last time, to be with him when he was killed, and to at least receive his collar as a relic of him.  They were told they MIGHT be given some of his ashes after he was cremated, though even that has not been provided at this point.  It has of course been theorized that Lennox was either killed while the legal battle was still going on or that he died languishing in his meager cell (pictures showed it devoid of food and water bowls and even appropriate bedding).  These are just theories, though they are highly likely scenarios.

The other dog’s account that has crippled me emotionally is that of Buck, a blind elderly dog that was released from a shelter to an individual that either let him free or negligently allowed him to escape.  After weeks of searching for Buck, his body was found in a concrete enclosure.  It has not been revealed at this point how he ended up in this cement resting place or whether he died of exposure and lack of sustenance, torturous foul play, or a mixture.  The fact that he died alone and hungry, thirsty, and without even the sight to understand his surroundings is too much.  I keep thinking that some SUBhuman beings might have even abused him to death, which is worse.

I sometimes wonder whether it’s worth being part of this world when such stories of incomprehensible pain and cruelty seem increasingly the norm….

I had written a poem for Lennox upon hearing of his official end (the grief being so great that the artistic flood gates finally broke), and will conclude this post with it.  You’ll notice the title says “Part II”, and this is because Part I was written the night before as a sort of prayer (unanswered, obviously)  for his life to be spared.  I am too drained at present to write one for Buck, though I absolutely want to do so.

For Lennox, Part II                               7/11/12

Belfast now a place of scorn

As countless hearts lie ripped and torn

For all the pleas you would not answer,

Your pride and ignorance like a cancer.

You could have picked another way

Yet bathed your hands in blood today.

You heeded none, for you thought best

To lay an innocent one to rest.

I hope your conscience one day wakes

And your hands shake in fits and quakes

When you see doings that you sought

Have not justice, but murder brought.

You’ve disgraced yourselves before the world;

In Hell’s fires your souls be curled

Around a spit and searing slow

For how you have brought Belfast low.

I can’t see why you’ve made this choice

Now countless cry in Lennox’s voice.

 

 

National Tattoo Day

June fifth is National Tattoo Day, and I was asked to write about the tattoo topic.  I had previously posted about why I got mine, so I think I’ll cover some other, broader aspects.

Tattoos, of course, have a negative connotation due to various cultures using them to mark criminals, the times criminals (or would-be criminals) marked themselves as a status symbol, and the fact that anything that breaks the norm is usually scorned.

However, in today’s world, the tattoo taboo isn’t as great.  Tattoos are actually fairly commonplace, and are seen everywhere.  Many women have them on ankles, shoulder blades, or have the infamous lower back “tramp stamp”.  Men get them on arms, legs, backs, and chests.  But why do they do this?

Well, starting with the criminal element, tattoos can mark loyalties (especially to gangs) and acts committed.  I don’t think I need to cover this realm further; I’m sure you get it.

Members of the military have gotten them to show loyalty as well, or pride in their service.  Tattoos have also been done to honor fallen comrades.  One of the coolest tattoos for military (and sailors in general) is a pair of birds.  I believe the birds are swallows.  My understanding is that when one is sent overseas, they get one swallow to mark that they arrived safely there, and get the matching piece done when they arrive home.  I think it’s an awesome tradition.

Many get representations of loved ones and pets.  And some cultures, such as the Samoans, are tattooed as a right of passage.

Of course, a lot of people in the Western World get inked because they’re trying to be cool or present a certain image, but this should not be allowed to take away from the millions of works of art created every day that have legitimate meaning, if only to the person bearing them.  And this is indeed an art form.  One apprentices before they can get a regular gig as a tattoo artist.  They have to earn their dues.  And even the finest graphic artists would have a hard time doing what they do via a vibrating needle and oft-times moving, wincing, flinching canvasses.

I realize some may think of me in a certain light because I would have to wear long sleeves and pants to cover all of mine, but every tattoo I’ve gotten had thought put into it and means something to my life.  And this is the last reason I’ll give as to why people get work done:  For many, including myself, these works of art are landmarks.  They signify where we’ve been, what we’ve been through, and where we want to be.  The only one that brings me a twinge of regret is my ex-wife’s initial on my shoulder.  It happens, but I could always cover it up if I choose to do so.

I hope this was informative.  And maybe you’ll get one of your own now if you haven’t already–welcome to the establishment!

Reposting From Facebook: Please Read!

This is something someone shared on FaceCrook, and it’s deserving of being shared everywhere.  Hence, I put it up here.

 

A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan incredibly took out a $7000 full page ad in the paper to present the following essay to the people of his community.

 

HOW COULD YOU? – By Jim Willis, 2001

 

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” — but then you’d relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

 

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

 

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love. She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” – – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.

 

Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.” As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch — because your touch was now so infrequent — and I would’ve defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

 

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to “just a dog ,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

 

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family

 

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with “papers.” You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked, “How could you?”

 

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind — that this was all a bad dream… or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

 

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.

 

As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured, “How could you?”

 

Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said, “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself — a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

 

A Note from the Author: If “How Could You?” brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly “owned” pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters. Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

 

Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or make them sad, but it could save maybe, even one, unwanted pet. Remember…They love UNCONDITIONALLY.

Now that the tears are rolling down your face, pass it on! Send to everyone in your address book. This IS the reality of dogs given up to shelters!

Open Mic Night

I did my second official public poetry reading 2 days ago.  It was through one of my writers’ groups.  It was at a coffee house, so anyone could have been there.

That’s why I was psyched to do it.  I would have had my other writer friends for support, including my best friend, but my work would get exposure to unbiased strangers.  Make that “SHOULD have gotten exposure”.  It was pretty much just the writers that showed, so I don’t know if it counts.  There was no unbiased audience, but I WAS willing to do it if there was.

I got a great reaction regardless, even on the pieces I chose that I was less certain would go over.  Yay, me!

Onward!

"Onward!"

It has been 2 weeks since I last posted.  I’ve been crazy busy with my animal advocacy page.  I’ve even been on a stay-cation for the last week and spent an abominable amount of that time networking around the clock.  Rewarding, but time-consuming, as I’ve said before.

I kept hovering at the 237-243 level as far as subscribers to the page.  When I got up to 243, I was wondering when I’d hit 250.  But then 2 people would “unlike” the page.  You never as an administrator of a page know why someone bails unless they tell you.  I’ve lost 12-16 subscribers since starting it up.  I get stats on this, though they’re always a few days behind.  For example, today is March 25th, but I’ve only got stats up to the 22nd.  When I realized I was losing some fans along the way, I started posting once per week that if anyone would like to see something different from the page or they have dissatisfaction to let me know so that I may address it.  I’ve never gotten a response positive or negative to such posts.  I sent a suggestion to FaceCrook to add a questionnaire to the process of “unliking” a page so that administrators could adapt to their subscribers’ needs, wants, and or expectations.

Today, I finally broke 250, and some of my contacts made a “recruitment push” to get me to 282 as I write this.  A lot of the pages to which I subscribe are between 600 and 7,000 followers.  So I’m still in the larval stage as far as that goes.

The other major battle front in my life is the diet change from strict meat-atarian to vegan or near-vegan.  I always used to think that I’d die on a vegetable-based diet because there weren’t enough fruits and vegetables I liked enough to subsist solely or even predominantly off of them.  To a large extent, that’s still true.

"These are a few of my favorite things...."

I like carrots, celery, peas, bananas, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.  I can tolerate peppers and cauliflower and spinach, and will eat broccoli, though I prefer it cooked.  I’m not fond of asparagus or melons.  I HATE tomatoes.  Kale is supposed to be incredible for you, but it’s so friggin’ chewy it’s a blah-fest.  Same with chickpeas.  Surprisingly, I find myself addicted to apples.  I ate a Fuji apple one morning, and found myself thinking, “This is the most amazing fucking thing ever.”  And then I was stupefied that I actually just had a mental orgasm over an apple.  I’m still digging them over 4 weeks later, though.  One thing I should be doing is cooking more to get a variety of styles of meal, and to eat less of the processed soy meat-substitute stuff.  But I CAN”T STAND cooking.  I abhor food prep, and loathe taking the time to do it.  I have done so in the past, of course, but only do it every 2 months or so.  I like a grab and go type of meal if I’ve got to fend for myself.

I have eaten chicken 3 times in the last month and no other meat products.  I think it might be close to 2 weeks since I even did that.  Dairy has snuck in there if I forgot to read the ingredients on something, but it’s been otherwise non-existent.  This past week and a half has been hard because I’m jones-ing for pizza.  And I LOVE corned beef, so to go through St. Patrick’s Day without my traditional C.B. was rough.  I was very tempted to break my morality diet over it.

I was concerned over how my body would handle the change since I felt like crap for 5 months when I tried this a couple of years ago.  And I was still eating some seafood and dairy that time.  I feel okay energy-wise, and I’ve had some stomach upset, but the main thing is the GASSINESS that comes with this change.  It’s brutal.

I decided to go back to white bread because so much of what I’ve been eating hasn’t any flavor or enjoyability to it other than the carrots and apples.  The multigrain bread is getting to be a deal-breaker.  The vegan hot dogs will be more and more tolerable over time, but the bread products I was using kill it.  I found a vegan white bread today, so I look forward to liking a little more of what I’m eating (I hope).

In my attempt to keep a decent level of protein in there, I’ve been eating a lot of cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds, and the aforementioned soy- and wheat-based meat substitutes.

One meal I look forward to each week (because I don’t have to make it) is a grilled veggie burrito at Qdoba Mexican Grill.  One of my writers’ groups meets there every Tuesday night, and I’ve been getting this amazing dinner each time.  Sour cream is such a staple of burritos and such, but since I ditched dairy, I decided to pay a little extra and add guacamole to the burrito so I still have that texture and coolness in it.  It’s fantastic!

So that’s my update.  I’m still fighting my chosen battles.  Ooh….that reminds me of one last thing.  My birthday (which I always hated–we don’t need to get into that now) was within the last week.  I bring this up because of the card my father gave me.  In it, he wrote,”You have always stood up for what you think is right.  Continue on your journey.”  It meant so much to read that.  So, Thanks, Dad!   Onward!

When a Plus Is Outweighed by a Minus….

In the time it took to write that last post, I hit follower #200 on my advocacy page.  I don’t feel like celebrating, though.  In the same period of time, it was announced that a dog which had been attacked by another dog had died.  There were so many of us following this dog’s story, I can’t even guess the numbers.  Hundreds?  Thousands?  I don’t know.  We were all over the country.

The dog’s injury was one to his face.  I’ve seen the photos.  His snout was literally ripped upwards from his skull.  From the front, You could see his eyes with the skin and fur of his nose sticking straight up between them.  His teeth and skull on the upper part of the muzzle were where they should be for the most part, but without what should have been covering them.  It was awful.  The dog was dropped off by the the supposed owners at a shelter, in that condition.

A vet in California had tried to perform emergency surgery after a young man volunteered to take the dog from the shelter to the vet.  They sewed his face back together, and put gauze all around his head to try to get the skin to adhere to the skull again.  The doctor even took him home that night to keep an eye on him.  There was so much support, so many prayers, offers to help pay, you name it.  So many people wanted this dog to make it.

We knew this was a serious injury, and there was a good chance he wouldn’t make it.  He eventually succumbed to cardiac failure, probably from all of the sedation it took to keep him comfortable and from possibly hurting himself further.

When I got this news, I just broke down.  Like he was MY dog.  Like he was MY family.  Maybe, in a way, he WAS.  We were united as a family caring for one of their own.  We all invested in him emotionally, wanted him to recover, and wanted him to know love and happiness.  His death, to me, made it seem like nothing mattered anymore.  Many of you might not understand this devotion to a dog, especially to one I hadn’t even met.  People waited to hear about the miners (in Chile, was it?) that were trapped in the mine a while back.  They anxiously waited on Elian Gonzales’ fate.  This was an equivalent for those of us that fight for and dearly love animals and nature.

I certainly didn’t think that my 200th fan meant anything after this news.

It took the signing of about twenty petitions to help pull me out of this funk, as well as another WordPress writer’s post.  If you care to check it out, the post is “Running Water’ on silverpoetry.wordpress.com.  http://silverpoetry.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/running-water/#comment-212

I caught a rumor that this dog was actually attacked in a dog fight.  Oren, as the dog became known, was a poodle, so if this is true, he was a bait dog, used to whet the adrenalized appetites of the fighting dogs before the actual match.  I hope the fuckers responsible pay, even if this is not the case, even if it was simply an owner whose dog had an accident; who just drops a dog in that condition off at the shelter, not even taking him to a vet?  I hope there is a such thing as Karma.

199 and Counting….

Furgii modeling her new tee

My animal advocacy page, Pet Patriotism, now has 199 followers.  Un.  Be.  Lievable.  One person shares it, and three more check it out and “like” it, and it keeps going.  It’s only been a week and a half since starting it up.  Ca-Razy.  I feel a certain pressure to keep these folks happy and interested in what I’m doing.

I admit there’s very little info which I have the knowhow to find.  I pretty much come across other postings and repost them myself.  It’s not to claim credit for it; I’m not erasing the originator’s tags on there.  It’s just that I want to keep the information flowing.  I might subscribe to a certain page that others may not.  You can’t subscribe to everyone–there’s not enough time to read it all.  If someone gets their info from me, great.  If they get it from somewhere else, great.  The point is to keep it all out there, educating more and more people and getting profiles of animals in trouble or petitions that need signing to cycle onwards to those that will help.

I don’t remember if I covered why I set this page up or not.  A friend actually messaged me asking me to “Please stop”.  It was in reference to an item I shared with a picture showing a pretty gruesome wound on a dog.  I knew when I shared it that I’d probably face opposition, but I shared anyway because every share was going to raise another dollar towards care for the dog.  I know that perhaps only three or four of my 93 or 94 friends on Facebook actually care to sign these things, can or will donate, or can spend time networking my posts.  So between reaching people that care and not pestering my friends, I set up the separate page.

I foresaw that this was going to be time-consuming, and boy I was right.  I was already spending a lot of time on Facebook and my email account as it was.  Now I’m taking the time to cross post it TO MYSELF, essentially, on my new page and sharing from there.

After the first week, I decided to take Tuesday the 6th off.  I still went in there a little, but I needed a break from the 24 hour media stream plus 40 hour work week.  Also, my own dog was being neglected regarding attention, which would not be good in general, and definitely not from someone who claims to be all about animals.

I realized that my voice was rather silent that day, but the world still turned.  And others were there filling my void.  Did I miss a petition or two?  Probably.  Did I fail to get something forwarded to someone that may have helped?  Possibly.  But I can only do so much.  There’s guilt, but there’s also reality.  I’ve made the decision that anytime I log in, I will only scroll back through four hours worth of material at most.  I used to go back all the way, even if it was ten or twelve hours, fearful something important would get by me.  I wrote in a previous post that I am a recovering addict (alcohol; two years sober), and I am left wondering if this is another form of addiction, even if it’s a meaningful one.  So I must impose limits, addiction or not.

It seems that some of the people that are informing me are doing this full time.  They are largely female, and, I believe, older, so they may be stay-at-homers with working spouses or are retirees, either of which having a great deal more time in theory.  I’m jealous.  I don’t know if they actually get paid for any of their time.  I doubt it, but if so, I’m jealous again.  Not because I want to profit, per se, but I would love to support myself this way and therefor be able to do this kind of thing all the time.

I previously mentioned reducing meat from my diet, for obvious reasons.  Well, I’ve spent the last two weeks primarily meat free.  I ate chicken three times, and that’s it.  I had already weeded lamb and pork from my diet, and beef and dairy are now gone.  Going forward, I may or may not occasionally eat chicken, eggs, and seafood.  The reason I ate chicken the three times I did was because I am getting some digestive upset from the continuous intake of fruits and vegetables.  A friend hypothesized that it could be all the live enzymes and fiber.  Going from forty years of meat, bread, pizza, and ice cream to this is tough.  So I’m throwing the chicken in there from time to time to make it a more gradual change and hopefully easier on my system.  I feel good about this.

The Tale of the Fox goes on….

Exactly why I keep doing this….

Holy Hell, Batman!

Inspired by the title of my last post, I decided to set up my own page on Facebook as an advocacy site.  Other pages that I’ve “liked” forward different petitions, articles, and such to me, so I decided to try and get my own page so I can forward things from there to others that might want to join the fight.

The title is Pet Patriotism.  I came up with this because I feel we should take pride in our pets and other Earthly creatures the same way we take pride in our nationalities.  I’m a little nervous at taking on something like this when my time is already kind of chewed up with these things and page administration is going to add to that.  But I started it, and that rock is now a’ rolling.

I reached out to someone on Facebook with whom I’ve networked asking for help, and SHE networked for me to get followers who will do the same.  I was even invited into her private group on there of others like us who have pages of our own.  Before I jumped over to WordPress to write this, I was up to 12 followers within a half hour.  Crazy!

For my logo, I chose the American flag, obviously, because I’m American, fulfilling the “Patriot” part of the title.  The lavender paw is a symbol of animal rescue and animal rights (you will often see lavender ribbons for the same).  I’m rather technologically challenged, so I went ghetto, pulling up a “googled” dog paw print, and tracing it and coloring it with a Sharpie.  I then cut it out, laid it on top of a small flag I had, and took the picture.  The background is actually the blanket on my couch.  It works, though.

Now I just have to live up to the faith the folks networking on my behalf have placed in me!

 

Photo © Jordan Alan Fox

Pet Patriotism: Nipping Animal Abuse in the Bud

As many of you know, I fight online against animal abuse.  I sign a bazillion petitions each day for different causes.  While wearisome, it is something I’m incredibly passionate about, and I’m immensely consumed by it.

So many of these petitions seek maximum legal penalty against convicted animal abusers.  Seeing all of this, and also seeing all of the spay/neuter propaganda (which I believe in as well), a new thought has come to me today.  What I’m about to propose is something radical and (currently) unconstitutional.

I propose convicted animal abusers be spayed or neutered so they can’t create any more people with their damaged mental facilities.  Some animal abusers might be genetically geared to do what they do, and some might be taught these things by their elders.  Either way, denying them procreative rights should substantially break the cycle, and would be a more than fair treatment for the suffering and possible death they’ve caused.

It’s been talked about, I’m sure, doing such medical procedures on convicted rapists, murderers, and abusers of children and others (which I think I agree with as well, especially with the former and latter).  This is just another progressive step in that line of thinking.  Maybe one the best ways to prevent animal abuse will be to limit the birth rate of animal abusers….

"Don't tread on me!"

Note: Just so you all know, I didn’t get Furgii pissed off here.  Her teeth were dry and one side of her lips got hung up on them.  I simply tucked the other side under to give her a “mad face”.  🙂

Read the Need of the Breed

Dogs are family.  That statement isn’t mine, but that makes it no less true.  Dogs want to be with you, protect you, and want to please you.  They want to LEARN what it takes to please you.  All they ask in return is your love, your time, and, of course, food.  Sounds like family to me….

I’ve always loved dogs, as far back as I can remember.  I never thought I’d actually get one of my own, though.  I couldn’t see having the time to care for them or the ability to schedule my life according to a pet’s needs.  And it IS hard sometimes.

It’s my ex-wife’s fault, really, that I have a dog now.  Her son (my former stepson) had been asking for a dog for awhile.  She finally caved 4 years ago, when her son was 10.  My wife and I were actually divorced at this point, but had a “friends with benefits” thing going on.  I still remember the phone call when she told me she’d gotten the dog.

What she got was a 5 or 6-month-old Bichon Frise.  I never would have thought I’d fall in love with a “foofy” dog like a Bichon, but I did indeed.  They’re actually rather cute when their fur is shorter.  The day I met this little critter, my ex and I went to PetSmart to get some supplies.  I carried him around.  I looked down at him and said, “Hold the baby”, which I think is a line from Borat that my co-workers would say all the time.  When I said it, he licked my chin.  I said it again, and he licked my chin again.  My canine obsession was born.

When we got back to my ex’s apartment, I wanted to play with him, and I drummed my hands on the floor, Ba-Da-Dum!, and he performed the same rhythm with his paws.  It was a magical bond created that day.  I would call to see if I could come over to play with him and offer to watch him if my ex was going out.  And it wasn’t one-sided.  She told me when my car would pull up that he’d go apeshit and bark at the door for me to hurry up.

Eventually, my ex and I went from “friends with benefits” to not even friends at all.  There’s the saying “My wife ran off with my dog, and I miss him”.  That’s pretty much how it felt.  Thus I made my decision to get a dog of my own.  Like I said, it’s all my ex’s fault I wanted to get one.

The point I want to get to with all of this backstory is that I could have rushed out and gotten a Bichon like hers.  But I lived in an apartment that didn’t allow dogs, and had to wait 10 months for my lease to expire.  This turned out to be an incredibly good thing, in that the time made me think.

Bichons are known for separation anxiety, we found out.  The little guy threw up every time he was left alone.  And then there’s the grooming….

I used my time to think about what might be a good fit for me, and I bought a book called The Dog Bible.  It’s a rather comprehensive encyclopedia of breeds.  I looked through and any picture that looked like a dog I might care to get, I read the profile.

Different breeds have different needs and traits.  Some dogs are high-energy, and need to run or have a lot of physical activity.  Some need a “job” to do, because they were bred for hunting, herding, digging for vermin, etc.  If they don’t have this need met, they can get bored and depressed and eventually become destructive.  Some are couch potatoes, and if you’re looking for a jogging partner, they’re not it.

And again, the grooming….

I was single again, and would be caring for an animal on my own.  A dog breed known for separation anxiety wouldn’t be good since I had to go to work to earn kibble money.  And since I don’t have a lot of said money, regular trips to the groomer wouldn’t be my best bet, either.  A short-haired breed that doesn’t need trimming would work, and a smaller dog would be better for apartment living.  I also wanted a dog with a moderate energy level, so we could play and roughhouse, but I wouldn’t have to be on the go all the time.

I narrowed it down to a final four options, including the Miniature Pinscher and Rat Terrier.  I found a Miniature Pinscher (Min Pin) rescue online, and I read books on the breed.  And read some more.  I picked out one of the dogs they had available, and it turns out she’s a Rat Terrier/Min Pin mix!  She behaves more like the Rat Terrier, so that’s how I see her.  I of course read up on them, too, when I learned she was R.T. as well as M.P.  She will likely not be my last Rat Terrier.

I don’t rule out getting other breeds in the future, including Pit Bulls, but I want to be a more experienced dog owner before getting a larger dog.  And, of course, I’ll do my research first.

That’s the moral today: Don’t make a pet purchase blindly.  Do your research.  If it looks like it won’t be a good fit for you and your lifestyle, you’ll only be out the cost of the books and not an adoption fee.  You also will not have risked traumatizing the dog (and yourself) by making uneducated decisions.

P.S.–Adopt from a rescue or shelter.  There are so many dogs that need homes, and they may be euthanized if not adopted.  They may even have been put there through no fault of their own.  Someone else might not have done THEIR research, and gave the dog up because of human mistakes.  “Open your heart to an animal in need, don’t give in to puppy mill greed.”