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.

images

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)

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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).

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!

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

Advocacy

I have  spent a lot of time on Facebook doing various “advocacy” things.  There are pages for The Animal Rescue Site, and other things I’ve come across along the way which will send me posts to sign various petitions, such as blasting Obama for okaying the sale of horse meat (yes, for consumption), protecting wolves from being hunted by helicopter, boycotting Chicken of the Sea for fishing practices that also ensnare rays, dolphins, turtles and other creatures, cracking down on puppy mills and dog fighting.  I also get a lot of these via email.

I am obviously for the animals, and would love to do so much more than sign petitions, but limited time and extremely limited money prevent this.  I am doing what I have the ability to do at present.  If you’re supposed to “be the change you want to see in the world”, this is my way of performing that task.

The one that has me using the most time is Pet Pardons on Facebook.  I don’t know how, but they get profiles of domestic animals in kill shelters which you can click on and “advocate” for their stay of execution.  Going pet by pet can definitely consume the afternoon, but when the posts come that an animal was spared, it’s just wonderful.  The down side is that, in order to accept my “advocacy” for any given animal, I have to agree to have Facebook post each profile I’ve clicked on, which I’m sure is annoying for my friends.  But the goal is to have everybody who might be willing to respond to do so.

Oh, I just remembered another petition I’ve signed: to stop the use of inhumane gassing chambers when shelters do end the animals’ lives.  They basically suffocate.  It’s terrible, and costly.

I don’t only sign things for animals, though, the first human-based thing that comes to mind is signing a petition to allow the continued access to birth control for lower-income women.  I don’t want to get into religion or other political or moral aspects surrounding such things, but accessible birth control should help us as a race avoid over-population, crowded orphanages and foster homes, children whose needs aren’t met, and landing people in the position of considering abortion, which I’m not getting into.  I’m just saying we can help it not get to that stage.

A lot of the time, especially with the animal activism, it’s hard to continue because there is just so much need out there.  It gets overwhelming.  I have made a lot of progress this year as a person, and I think doing this helps me to continue in this fashion as well as helping make change in the world (hopefully).