reacting to accidents with rage instead of concern

a while ago, i witnessed a minor car accident at a gas station. woman #1 was in an SUV parked at a pump. woman #2 was in a new-ish but beat up car that was backing in to the pump in front of the SUV, but wound up backing right into the SUV. woman #1 honked her horn at woman #2, who had her windows down and loudly responded, “fuck you!” and continued muttering other things i couldn’t make out. woman #1 got out of her SUV and approached the beat up car. she said to woman #2, whose windows were still down, “don’t tell me fuck you, you just backed into me. you just damaged my car.” despite her brazen tone before she was face to face with the owner of the SUV, woman #2 now refused to make eye contact and instead made herself busy rummaging about in her passenger seat while muttering things that seemed to further irritate woman #1. as i drove away, i could see that the scene continued on like this for a while, with woman #1 getting more and more angry at the insolence and lack of apology from woman #2. it was a depressing thing to witness.

it made me think about how people often react absurdly to bad things, like when my dad used to step on the cat’s tail in the kitchen. this happened frequently when i was a kid, and it always went like this:

    • dad accidentally stepped on the cat’s tail;
    • the cat howled in pain and ran away as fast as it could;
    • my dad stomped his feet and yelled, “well, don’t just sit there under my feet, for fuck’s sake!”

even as a kid, i thought that was a weird reaction. why was my dad freaking out? he wasn’t the tiny creature that just had an appendage crushed by a 220 lb pale, hairy ogre in his underwear. dad should have been concerned for the cat, sympathetic to it. even if he was annoyed by how frequently this dance occurred, he could have simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “i’m sorry but you should know better by now, even if you are just a dumb cat.”

i know i’m guilty of these kinds of reactions too, and that’s what i hate about it the most. when i see other people do it, i’m embarrassed for them but i’m also embarrassed for myself because i’m reminded that other people have surely seen me react to situations just as terribly. it’s a senseless, unattractive habit that lacks any grace whatsoever.

conversely, if woman #2 from my opening paragraph had got out of her car and approached woman #1, apologized for backing into her, and asked if woman #1 was alright, i would have thought, “that’s a strong, graceful person who is quick to admit their mistake, concerned for their fellow human, and wants to make the best out of that bad situation.”

and that’s the person i want to strive to become. i want kindness to be my default state so that no matter how awful or infuriating a situation may be, i can come out of it feeling good about the role i played in it.

now that i’ve written that, i just know one of my chickens is going to flap its wings in my face when i put them to bed tonight and really, really test me.

it feels good to feel good

for the last week or so, i’ve been feeling really good, really happy, and it’s weird what a vicious cycle feeling good is — being happy about some stuff in my life makes me more appreciative of other things, like friends or good times for example, and being appreciative of those things and feeling lucky (or “blessed,” barf) makes me even happier. it’s like i’ve been on a positivity bender for a week now.

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“WOO!”

and it feels great.

it’s a nice change of pace from my usual disposition, ranging of ‘slightly depressed’ to ‘very depressed.’ and while i feel like i should somehow prepare myself for this all to come to a crashing halt, for the moment the happy things stop occurring, i feel too good right now to worry about it. i know the end will come, the misery will return, and things will go back to normal but i’ll deal with it when it happens. no point in getting bummed out while i’m still feeling so good.

why am i feeling so good, anyway? steph and tony’s wedding, seeing lots of great friends i don’t see very often, the suit i put together looks great, we’re building a garage, we bought property up island, i got five new young hens, one of my adult hens went broody and is now sitting on 8 fertilized eggs i bought for her, i finally set up a micro drip irrigation system for the vegetable garden, the new twin peaks is as weird and fantastic as ever…that sort of stuff.

something else i want to note about this happiness bender: it makes me prone to the sensation of emotions welling up. like, i’ll get a text from a good friend and i’ll almost want to cry because i feel so grateful to have that friend in my life. similarly, if a really killer anti-humanistic song comes on in my car, i shudder with utter contempt and contemplate the of plunging all of reality — people, planets, the entire universe, all of time — into an endless void of nonexistence: a “red surge,” as i recently heard a convicted killer call it, except i associate red with rage and anger so i’d probably describe my welling up of negative and abstract feelings as more of a “black surge.”

anyway, being happy is just making me feel really emotional in general, i suppose. it’s kind of interesting. i like feeling things.

i killed one of my chickens (on purpose. it’s a good thing.)

last year, my dear hen named strawmouth (jenn named her that) fell ill and slowly died over the course of a week or two. curious, i performed an autopsy on her and found her bloated belly full of green fluid. birds don’t piss so i figured it must be related to bile. i did some research and learned that liver failure is common in the commercial hens bred for high egg production, and ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen) is secondary to liver failure due to blood not being able to flow easily through the inflamed liver. well, how about that.

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severe ascites in a human. someone should put this sick son of a bitch down, too.

so last week when i noticed another of my commercial breed hens (ms. haun, this time) displaying the same symptoms that strawmouth did, i kept a watchful eye on her. after about a week of gradual decline, i decided i needed to grow some testicles and put the poor bird out of her misery. but how to do it?

i looked online and learned about the most humane methods of euthanizing chickens, and settled on the cervical dislocation method. you essentially break their neck just below the skull, causing the spinal cord to snap and whip back at the brain, rendering the bird unconscious while they actually die over the course of 30-40 seconds.

so i went outside and found ms. haun squating in the chicken coop in the middle of the day (typical behaviour of a very sick hen). i picked her up, pet and soothed her for a minute, then flipped her over, grabbed her legs and head, arched her head back sharply, and pulled hard. i felt several distinct clicks. the hen went limp, and a bunch of bile started pouring out her beak. i thought, wow, that was easy. but maybe a minute later, she started moving slightly and her eyes opened and closed a bit. i put my finger right up to an open eye and it slowly closed — though delayed, it was still responsive so i knew i hadn’t broken her neck correctly. i assumed the position again and pulled harder. this time there was a big THUNK, her neck gave about an inch, and her body immediately started convulsing gently. i felt her neck and found the blank space just below her head where i had finally broken it. her eyes no longer responded to stimuli. she was dead.

i don’t feel good that it took me a few tries to get it right but i’m glad that i a) recognized when it wasn’t done right, b) tried again and got it, and c) learned to do something unpleasant but necessary. it’s a hard thing to do, to end the life of something you care about, but there usually comes a point when that is the humane thing to do. so i’m proud.

and now that i have this new skill, i’ve put the remaining hens on notice that egg production better pick up soon or else there will be a lot more broken necks where that one came from. daddy just realized he is a god among hens, and he is a wrathful god.

jk. we have a hen that hasn’t laid worth a shit in years but i’m still not ready to pull the plug on her just yet. i still love just watching her truck around, doing chicken stuff. so don’t worry, i’m not letting this newfound power go to my head.

RIP, ms. haun. your people-centric behaviour and tendency to investigate cars, basements, travel trailers, and dog houses will always be remembered.

my memory is broken

i killed one of my beloved chickens last week.

at 8 pm, i went outside to lock them up in their coop for the night. i closed the guillotine-style door, moved three hens from the hutch to the roosting bars in the coop so they wouldn’t shit where they lay eggs, and closed and latched the hutch lid. all secure, all done.

i went to bed. at 12:30 am, jenn woke me up and said she thought something just attacked the chickens. she said she heard a bunch of thumping and a loud “squawk.” i thought, “i locked it all up so she must be mistaken,” but i went outside to check anyway. when i got to the pen, there was winnie, my last silver-laced wyandotte: writhing, gasping for breath, and now faceless. even her beak appeared to be ripped off but it was hard to tell exactly what was left beneath the gore.

i looked over at the coop, and there was the guillotine door, still wide open.

i stood on winnie’s neck until she stopped struggling. i wanted to puke. i let our dog bark at the raccoons that were now up a tree — too little, too late, of course. i stared at the guillotine door and my mind reeled. i was absolutely positive up until the moment i saw it open that i had closed it that night. if someone had offered to make me a $100 bet on it, i would have taken it without hesitation. but clearly, i hadn’t closed it, and somehow my mind convinced itself that i had — it created a false memory. i found that terrifying. what other false memories do i have? what else do i think has happened but actually hasn’t? what if all of my memories aren’t real and my whole life actually never occurred? on top of the loss of one of my dear hens, i began tumbling down a paranoid, conspiracy-theory laden path usually reserved for acid heads. what a night.

it just goes to show why eyewitness testimony is not considered very reliable in court these days. our memories are capable of being completely incorrect while we remain utterly convinced of their veracity.

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we’re stupid.

RIP winnie. you were a lovely hen.

“fur babies”

i hate the term “fur babies” but i’ve been thinking about animals acting as stand-in children. i’ve decided that while annoying and cutesy, “fur babies” is a fairly appropriate title for the pets of people like myself.

i mean, i like kids just fine. i worked with them for years, teaching swim lessons and working as a leader in youth groups and summer day camps. i thought i hated kids until i did those jobs, and then i realized i love working with them. they’re brutally honest, but never with any devious intentions. i remember when i cut my hair one time, and all the swim lesson kids were shocked. some of them said, “i liked your long hair better.” and i didn’t care that they didn’t like my new haircut, because what i loved was that they were being so god damn honest with me. i appreciated that. meanwhile, all the adults i know would says stuff like, “well, that looks, uh different,” or they’d make some over the top swooning comments like, “no, no, i like it, it really makes your eyes stand out more. it’s just hard to get used to such a big change, i mean, your hair was, like, YOU, you know?…” some bullshit like that. as if i can’t handle the truth that some dowdy middle-aged woman i have zero sexual interest in doesn’t like my haircut.

i’m ranting. back on track: i also love how kids find everything fun. they love the simplest games, even just running around madly. they use their imaginations like crazy. i get a vicarious thrill when i see something blow their mind for the first time. little kids are just awesome.

then they become teenagers.

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awkward, surly, gangly, testy, greasy, horny, disgusting teenagers. i’m not interested in dealing with that for 7 years straight.

and then they become adults.

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making poor choices when they should know better, consuming like crazy with zero understanding of the effect their appetite for junk has on the rest of the world, having political stances i can’t accept, being boring…most children will turn into a person i have no interest in maintaining any sort of relationship with. i’m just not that good at unconditional love.

that’s pretty heavy stuff, and it’s a big part of why i’m not up for having kids. the investment is massive, and the likelihood that they won’t live up to my ridiculous standards is so high that it’s a foolish gamble.

but dogs, cats, chickens, goats…that’s a whole other story. even as seniors, they are joyful subordinates, content in their dependent roles. they are pleased with the simplest things — walks, laying in the sun, occasional affection from their master. they are perpetual children, but even as such, they are also independent enough that you can leave them at home and not have to worry about the place burning down while you’re out, or your beers mysteriously vanishing from the fridge. in contrast to the high investment and high risk of disappointment of kids, pets are low investment and low risk. i’m sure many would argue raising a human is more satisfying but i don’t know about that. i spend an awful lot of time in my yard, just staring at my chickens as they scratch around and eat bugs. i find it immensely satisfying. i can’t imagine feeling much better than that. and i don’t even have to change their diapers or pick them up from the drunk tank after a night of ‘experimenting.’

really, it’s just the expression “fur babies” — not the idea behind it — that bothers me. i should just come up with a less objectionable term. adopted animal child, non-human surrogate progeny…there, i like that last one. it’s got a ring to it.

feeling…good. for now.

after feeling oddly shitty at the start of january 2017, i’ve actually been feeling pretty good lately. there’s a lot of stuff i’ve felt pumped or even grateful for. in fact, i was just listening to led zeppelin’s ‘III’ album and enjoying it so much that i felt like making a list of things i like, things that make me happy. here it is.

  1. led zeppelin
  2. cookies
  3. the satisfaction i feel after doing some house cleaning
  4. playing bass in standard tuning
  5. sim city for SNES
  6. tetris, obv
  7. real winter weather, like snow and sub-zero temperatures
  8. driving my 4wd corolla wagon in the snow
  9. meeting interesting seniors at work (there are interesting non-seniors every now and then too but seniors are usually more sensible and calm, and have a deeper pool of life experiences to talk about)
  10. chickens
  11. our dog, cat, horse, and goat
  12. camping/road trips/exploring with jenn
  13. getting xmas and birthday gifts for jenn that are both a surprise and a big hit
  14. rick and morty
  15. the wonder years
  16. twin peaks
  17. getting a great night of sleep
  18. dreams
  19. lucid dreams
  20. experiencing crazy premonitions
  21. dancing to 80’s and disco hits
  22. sointula, BC
  23. shawnigan lake
  24. UFC
  25. watching UFC with pals
  26. burgers
  27. having so many outstanding old friends
  28. the seasons
  29. watching films that really knock my dick into the dirt
  30. seeing our fruit trees thrive in the spring
  31. carving jack-o-lanterns
  32. coming home after a few weeks away
  33. quitting time at work
  34. retro furniture and housewares
  35. swimming at the fish ladders with pals
  36. working out/exercising in general
  37. screaming and growling

…to name but a few.

goat piss

i just went to a chicken swap with tyrone and marieke. there was lots of chickens and that was all great, i even bought three cute little 6-7 week old hens. that’s very exciting.

what wasn’t exciting was that some guy had brought his juvenile male goat there just for fun. i was petting it when all of a sudden, its weird dick popped out from under its stomach, pointed out to the side, and started spraying piss in all directions. it was absolutely fucking disgusting. to make it worse, the piss got on my lower legs and new, expensive, ETHICALLY MADE flip flops (thank you, kyla!). and to make it even worse, the goat’s owner didn’t react at all. he didn’t say anything even though tyrone, marieke and i were obviously shocked. we were all quite vocal, saying stuff like “whoah, oh my goodness, jesus what is that, how rude,” etc. i think he just didn’t know how to address the situation so he chose to not address it at all. after a little while he sort of nervously stuttered, “he’s, uhhh…(prolonged silence)…he’s a real boy.”

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this is honestly what the goat’s dick looked like. it was horrific.

what a fucking dummy. the incident wasn’t a big deal — i mean, it was a big deal, getting goat piss on you is pretty disgusting and i’m sure one of the nicely dressed women there would have had a much stronger reaction than i did, but i just used dish soap and the hose to wash my legs and sandals when i got home — but the way he reacted was so odd and awkward. at the very least, he should have acknowledged it immediately, maybe pulled the goat away from us, apologized, maybe tried to make a joke of it. i think that’s what normal people would do. but i guess normal people don’t bring goats to chicken swaps. what a weird dummy.

i should accept part of the blame for petting the goat in the first place. lesson learned: i’m never petting an unknown goat again.

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very cute, but may be satan incarnate. you just never know.