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!

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”.  🙂

Dear Furgii,

Dear Furgii,

When I met you, I knew that you had hypothyroidism.  It wasn’t a big deal; you take a synthetic hormone that takes care of it.  What I didn’t know was that you also had epilepsy, and that I’d witness 3 of your seizures.  I knew when I met you that you also needed a good dental cleaning.  I didn’t know that the teeth were so bad that your jaw was being eroded, and you’d need to have 8 molars removed.  I also didn’t know the string of maladies that would require trips to the vet for the next 20 months.

You would break a nail completely off, and you’d have to get taken to the emergency vet after hours.  The broken nail would eventually get infected, of course.  You would at one point get profuse diarrhea for 3 days and have to go on an antibiotic. You would get kennel cough and have to go on more medicine.  You would also break a tooth, which I’m not sure I can completely explain.  That tooth also had to be completely removed.  You’re now down 9 of them.

You occasionally do something to your right hind leg, and you hold it up until whatever issue is resolved.  I always wonder if the latest incident will be the one requiring a trip into Moorestown.  You’ll develop little cysts here and there, and I’m afraid to assume they’re just cysts and we’ve seen the good doctors a few times on their account.

I knew when I met you that you would require periodic blood work to check your thyroid levels, but, unknowing of the epilepsy, not about the periodic testing to check your organs because the medicine preventing your seizures isn’t so great for the rest of your body.

I thought when I met you that I’d be getting a companion, a miracle, and that I’d love you.  On these counts, I got everything I expected, and more.  You may have come with more drama than I’d planned, and required more maintenance and expenditure than I could have ever foreseen, but I wouldn’t ever, ever give you up.  I regret nothing.  I DO love you, as unconditionally as you do in return.  I hope on some level you know that.

Love,

Daddy

   






The Written Word and Words Yet Written

In one of my writers’ groups, our main focus is writing exercises, wherein a “prompt” is given, and we would then take 20-40 minutes to write something based on the prompt.  You don’t HAVE to write on the prompt; you can take just part of the prompt, or do your own thing entirely.  This isn’t a strict environment; it’s a way to spark the creativity and get people to actually write even if it’s something they won’t use later.  We have a 30 minute or so period at the end in which we share what we’ve written, if desired.

An example of prompts we’ve been given in the past are: “satisfaction”, “superstition”, “Her laughter broke the silence….”, and “How to make a dragon”.  The last one had a specific scenario about a scientist doing all of this DNA stuff to create his/her own dragon.  I don’t really write stories, so I used the dragon as a metaphor in a set of lyrics I created.

And that’s what I want to focus on here today.  No, not dragons or metaphors based on them.  It’s the fact that you can give a prompt to 15 different people and get 15 different creations.  It’s amazing.  What makes imagination and creativity work?  And what makes it work differently in each individual?  It’s miraculous.

There are the “mainstay” members that are there almost all the time, people that sporadically show, and others that come once or twice and never again.  But everyone that’s come even once and shared what they’ve written has conjured something no one else has.  Every one of our “core” group that shows up definitely has their niche style.  One guy writes fictitious slapstick humor that’s so over the top that, if made into a movie, only Jim Carey could play it.  One guy has a sci-fi/horror bent with a twist of sexual thriller.  One likes her romance, and another likes her lust and violence in equal measure.  Those are just some examples.  But they can all change it up on you.  The Jim Carey guy, for example, every so often will break out something that’s surprisingly tender and genuine.  Frankly, I’m in awe of his skill.  The lust and violence writer will write a very personal poem every once in awhile.

My own contributions, as I wrote in a post that seems very long ago at this point, are poems and lyrics.  I really don’t deviate from this; it’s what I do.  There are an incredible amount of pieces I wouldn’t have written if not for the prompts, and many concepts that the prompts inspired simply would never have come to my mind otherwise.  I owe the group a great amount for that.

The other writers’ group I’m in focuses on more technical aspects, such as scene structure, character development, finding an agent, making sure your manuscript is ready for submission, etc.  As I said, I’m not a story writer, but I like to go to those meetings for the camaraderie, and who knows?  I may write a story some day.  This group had a meetup last weekend, which was the character development session.  I’m a bit blown away by how much work it is to do prose.  I’m overwhelmed at the moment.  I’m not giving up on it, but it’s eye-opening to see how much research and groundwork must be done.  Quite the opposite of what I usually do, which is very emotion-fueled.  I write my lyrics which (hopefully) get a reaction from the reader/listener.  I write as a reaction to something I’ve lived or seen, and I do most pieces in a single sitting.  I’ll create most of my prompt-based work in the 20-40 minutes given, and a lot of the time my first draft is my final draft.  Or, at the least, very few revisions are ever done. It suits my attention span to write what I write!

I have a new respect for the “story tellers” now.  Not that I didn’t respect them before, but now I see what they have to go through to create what they do, if they’re going to do it convincingly.  Power to them.  I still could jump into that realm, and it would be a good personal challenge, but I think I know where my bread is buttered.  My lyrics.  It’s where my true talent lies, and I actually NEED to do it.  It’s how I process my world, and how I purge my demons.

Everyone in these groups has their own style and preferred genre, and I’ve got mine, it seems.  Creativity is an incredible, inconceivable thing, and what’s more incredible is how everyone has their own voice.

For the Children

Those of you catching my blog for the first time will soon learn what those who’ve been around awhile already do:  I am obsessed with animal advocacy.  This ISN’T what I’m going to write about today, though.  Not exactly.

I’ve mentioned previously the circumstances surrounding my divorce, and that those circumstances centered around my stepson’s abuse by his biological father.  The trauma and emotions and everything just destroyed my family. The divorce may have happened anyway, but the abuse and accompanying trauma was the trigger.

So, how does this tie into my affair with animal advocacy?  Well, I’d gotten a dog as a way of moving on and into another chapter of my life, and the more I loved my dog (and who couldn’t), the more I felt the need to be involved with animal rights.  It occupies a great deal of my free time, but I love it, I love doing it, I love being part of positive change.  I love knowing that I may contribute to the success of any given campaign.

But I often imagine my ex-wife asking me, “Why do you do all of this for animals, and you’ve never done anything for abused children, for children’s rights?”  I often ask this of myself in my own voice, let alone hers.  I feel guilty for not doing it.  Shouldn’t this be a topic even closer to my heart?

I’ve seen what abuse can do to a child’s life.  My stepson’s reality became daily and nightly rages that would require restraining him most days, for he couldn’t get himself under control and he was a danger to himself and everyone around.  He was diagnosed as having dissociative flashbacks as the cause of these rages, and obviously these are not remotely anything a 7-year-old can handle.  He usually couldn’t make it to bed without incident.  He couldn’t even make it to school a lot of the time.

By his 9th birthday, he was living in therapeutic homes and hospitals for children in such situations.  By that point, my wife and I had already separated.  We were back together, and then not, while he lived in several such homes for the next 3 years.  Having lived all of this and seen it happen to the child I tried to raise as my own, shouldn’t this be a cause I’d more eagerly join?

He still has the rages.  Anything can trigger them.  I don’t get reports from his mother as to how he’s doing most of the time, and frankly, I really can’t stand having to deal with her anyway.  My stepson himself isn’t going to volunteer the bad things that have gone on in my absence.  I still see him every couple of months, but I’m almost more of an uncle in a way at this point.  But when I DO get the news of incidents he’s having, I die inside.  He’s 13 now; He’s already lost his childhood, and now his adolescence is jeopardized.  I don’t know how to handle that, how to accept it.  It’s a crippling feeling.

I think this is why I don’t get involved in children’s advocacy, especially that for abused children.  It might be too close to home.  I see so many things daily on the internet doing animal stuff, like dogs being tied up and thrown outside to freeze to death.  Puppies who’ve had their eyes gouged out and then shot with BBs.  These things make me want to curl up and give up so much of the time.  There’s so much wrong, so much evil in the world strictly dealing with animals.  It’s hard to go on sometimes.  I don’t know if I can do this same thing and hear the stories of what’s happening to kids out there.  I already know so much of it.  Maybe it’s partially because MY OWN trauma is tied up in these things.  I don’t think I can handle seeing what I’ve seen happen to animals happening to children, but I still beat myself about not being involved.

I can only thank whatever powers might be, mankind generated and/or higher, that there are people out there who deal with those things daily.  Some of those folks are and have been involved in my stepson’s life.  There are so many programs out there that you wouldn’t know existed.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to stomach doing it myself; I hope it doesn’t make me a bad person that I’m not involved at present.  But for now, all I can do about it is what I did back then: cry.

      

In Better Times