Friday, April 18, 2014

You Already Know About Listen To Your Mother, Right?

NOT MINE

It's funny how we're not always operating under the influence of the truth, isn't it? I feel as though I've been telling everyone about Listen To Your Mother. You know, don't you? You've met everyone in the cast and you know what each of their stories is about. We've talked about what your plans are and you're buying your tickets tomorrow, right?

Then I look at this space and realize that I haven't said much of anything here in several weeks. In my defense I've been a little busy producing a show. Why don't I tell you about it?

I love it. I really love it so much.

Here's the thing, it's not just for me to love. It's for you and anyone else who wants to come to love it, too! Which is my way of asking if you will please help me spread the word. Each of these stories is so special. The readers are brave and crazy and the best of everything. I want them to have an audience that lives up to what they're bringing.

May 4th, 5pm, Symphony Space. Buy tickets here. Learn about our cause here. Learn about our cast here.

Photo Credit: Neil Kramer. Taken at LTYM NYC's first 2014 rehearsal. Missing one cast member who had to leave early.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Computer Picked A Winner!

Thor (& Loki)Thanks for spreading the word about dog fighting, folks! I'm going back to the shelter to walk some dogs today and it helps knowing that we're trying to stop this happening to anyone else.

The winner is....Angstgirl! Will you please email me your mailing info at Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com?

P.S. Stay tuned for more information on Listen To Your Mother NYC. You can buy tickets here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Photo Challenge: Woo Hoo!

Clearly we were all out doing so much celebrating that we could barely make it back to Flickr, right? Because we only had a couple of entrants I'm doing more than one shot per photographer. Enjoy these fun shots!


IMG_9671
I so admire Our Bethany's ability to connect with people. Even as this man is on the move he's clearly touched by her.

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This young reveler recently turned 7. From the get go we've called him the Happiest Kid On The Planet. It still applies.

IMG_8409
Dogs and kids and water, oh my! Our Bethany grabbed a one in a million moment!

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Candy and hitting something with a stick. It's no wonder these three kids are so happy! 

These prompts are always about where I am in the moment. In this moment I'm so busy. I know that we get a lot of reinforcement from society for being as busy as we can possibly be but it's just not my thing. I like a lot of down time. I'm excited about and committed to the things I'm doing, though, so I'm working on doing better in this busy state. Here's the reminder I need: BREATHE. I think we've had that prompt before but it's worth repeating. 

Please enter by 9am Tuesday April 22nd for posting on April 23rd. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and BREATHE. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

P.S. Don't forget the Dog Fighting Awareness Day Giveaway, either!

P.P.S. Stay tuned for more information on Listen To Your Mother NYC. You can buy tickets here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Are You Aware Of The Perils Of Dog Fighting?

Stella
Today is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day (NDFAD). I'm aware. I hope you are, too. The ASPCA kindly invited me to join them in raising awareness and spreading the word that Dog Fighting isn't something we will stand for. It happens everywhere. It's not the only way to be cruel to an animal but it's one in which a large number of animals can be harmed at one time. The ASPCA and other organizations work long and hard to rescue dogs from deplorable conditions that surround dog fighting and they need our help. Whether you are able to assist with adopting, fostering, volunteering, donating, or spreading the word every little bit does, indeed, help.

I live in New York so dog fighting has been a tangential item in the news here a lot lately. You see come this fall Michael Vick (arguably the world's most famous dog fight enthusiast) will be playing for one of our local football teams. I've written some pretty emotional things about him in the past. I've also tried to come to terms with the fact that if I think that the dogs who were abused at Vick's Bad Newz Kennels can change their behavior enough to live in private homes and if I believe that behavioral theory teaches us that most animals learn in similar ways then I have to believe that Vick can also be reformed.

Of course having that potential and living up to it are not at all the same. I can't yet say for certain what Michael Vick, or any dog fighting enthusiast, would have to do to prove to me that they've changed but I can say that I haven't yet seen that from this particular guy. I am still too cautious to believe that any animal (or human) is safe in his care. In casual conversations about Vick's football career I've often said that I think it's perfectly fine that he be re-hired by the NFL and that he continue to play. The only thing that needs to change is that his take home pay should be the same hourly rate as the lowest paid person in his home stadium. I'm talking filling out a time sheet and everything. The balance of whatever the NFL chooses to designate as his salary should go directly to organizations using force free, scientifically based methods to help dogs (and perhaps people) who are learning to live life outside of the fight ring.

I get a lot of grief for both thinking that Vick could reform himself and my personal solution to his continuing to pay back for the harm he's done. I stand by it, though, because real learning doesn't happen in a 30 minute television-friendly format. Real learning takes time, patience, and expertise. None of that comes cheap. Neither is it guaranteed but I believe in it. I believe that people who abuse animals are more likely to commit violence against other people. I believe that animals...and humans, can change. I believe that we need to be more committed to making those changes within each animal's individual boundaries.

Thor & Loki
The first step, they always say, is admitting you have a problem and that's where NDFAD comes in!

In honor of the day the ASPCA is giving this gift package to one lucky reader. It will contain:

1 Anti Dog Fighting T-shirt
1 No One Wins in a Dog Fight Magnet
1 Orange "Fight Cruelty" Tote
1 ASPCA Pet Frisbee
1 ASPCA Orange Wrist Band
1 ASPCA Action Magazine: Inside the Dog Fighting Ring

I will add to that haul one pet toy (doesn't have to be for a dog!) because thinking about dogs fighting makes me sad and thinking about pets playing helps to counteract that.

We're going to work the honor system on this one. Please take one action to spread the word about dog fighting. It can be on social media, in person, or by regular post. You can tell your co-worker, your kid, your fitness class, a stranger on a train, or that one troll who keeps leaving weird posts on your blog. Leave a comment on this post letting me know what action you took to spread the word and I'll pick a winner randomly on Friday morning. Entries close at 9am!

Please, go spread the good word!

*Photos taken by me of adoptable dogs at an NYC Shelter. I am not comfortable sharing the name of the shelter publicly but am happy to talk with you about it privately if you have questions.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Photo Challenge: LAUGH

Folks got inspired by this one. I love when that happens! Be sure to check out our Flickr Pool to see the shots that we didn't have room for here. Also, don't forget to scroll down for the next prompt. Anyone can enter and if you have questions you have only to ask.

Pupushka!
Here's Our Falnfenix's pup proving that snoods aren't just for greyhounds anymore! I think she looks marvelous. OK, and a little silly. In a good way!

You're Stepping In The Water!
"My" boys are silly just on a regular, average day. Unclip their leashes in close proximity to the sea and all bets are off. Total goofballs.

Cupcake
I don't know what cracks me up so much about this glorious portrait by Our Cindy, I just know that it makes me laugh every time. I want to title it Regal Cupcakery...or something.

jackie chan?
I do know what makes me laugh in this shot of Our Bethany's. Everything, that's what.

Untitled
When Our Janet said she wanted to marry someone who could make her laugh she wasn't kidding. Nice follow through, lady!

New Speaker?
Our Ana's cat looks a little affronted. Hope he knows we're laughing with him.

Why are you laughing?
We kicked off with puppies, it's nice to end with kitties. Our Lisa's boy clearly wonders what we're staring at, he's just doing cat things. Important Cat Things. Yeesh.

I feel like the best thing to do is to proceed with happy prompts. Anything that makes us jump around and move our bodies seems to be the right direction. So, for next time let's do WOO HOO!

Please enter by 9am Tuesday April 8th for posting on April 9th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and WOO HOO. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pets Are Sort of Priceless

PeaceI'm going to a new accountant this year. He seems very regimented in his process and I haven't even met him. Despite being more collected about my receipts and information this year I had to take a couple of hours today to line it up the way the new guy asked.

Part of my new organizational format this year allowed for me to keep receipts for the pets. It's not tax deductible by any stretch of the imagination but I was interested in what I spend yearly on these guys. I remember an internet meme from a while ago estimating annual dog food expenses at $200. That just didn't sound right to me but without the proof I couldn't say for sure.

Here are my 2013 results for three pets. It's 2 indoor cats and one indoor-outdoor dog. Dog is 5. Cats are 13. One cat has chronic health problems. The dog has non-debilitating allergies. It's also probably not every single thing I've bought for them but it's close.

Food - $2,084
Dietary supplements - $1,634
Medical - $2,561
Dog walking - $2200
Miscellaneous - $245
*************************
Total - $8,724

Keep in mind that treats are folded into three of those categories somewhere and that I choose to buy treats (and food) that boost health and immunity in my medically somewhat fragile pets. I also choose a dog walker over paper training or dog daycare.

I guess I could be spendier/crazier but I also feel like I'm doing what's best for them and that's not crazy at all. What do you think?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

As Prescribed

Skilled SkirterIt has been a winter of getting by. We've all done it. You wore your shit kicking boots to a party. You ate what was in the freezer rather than go out in the cold. You quit trying to dress up your winter coat and just accepted that it was the way you were going to look for the foreseeable future. Really, you just quit trying. Didn't you? Please tell me you did because I did. I really did.

Let me start by saying that I would not classify the past couple of days as warm. Some people would but I would definitely not. They were, however, warmer than it's been in a while.

Yesterday I took the dog to the park in the morning and it was probably his 5th or 6th day off leash in a row. Then we went to the vet and there was a longish wait which we used to work on our please-don't-bark-at-everything protocol. After a short evening walk we had company over and a nice late night walk. This morning we were back in the park for off leash time. We wandered the greenmarket and walked home with friends. This evening we took a long walk, met friends with dogs and friends without dogs, spent time in the bookstore, stopped off to buy some dessert, and headed home.

That paragraph describes the sort of life someone with an energetic young dog, perhaps a terrier, is supposed to live. Lots of input for the brain and lots of output for the body is what keeps the cats (and the sanity) safe. I have not been living that life lo these many months. More importantly my dog has not been living that life.

It's funny how the brain adjusts. I knew that Ed's cat chasing and his barking and reactivity were elevated. I thought it was a setback, though, something that needed hard work. The phrase "buckling down" kept running through my head. Since it has been a winter of (barely) getting by I didn't even try to buckle down because it seemed to hard. Nothing seemed worth it. All of my energy needed to be conserved for staying warm and failing to despair. The extreme difference in my dog's behavior after something as comparatively little as 30 minutes in the park before work in the morning is a revelation.

There's work to be done, to be sure, but it's not as onerous as my winterized brain made it out to be. I mean, a trip to the bookstore? It's like there's something in this for both of us.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A First

Freedom!

Ed has only been to the beach in Maine. It's rocky and he has sniffed a tidepool or two but he mostly leaves the water alone. He hadn't ever experienced sand between his toes and waves chasing him up the beach.

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 A couple of times when he's been staying with other people it's been a possibility that he'd go to the beach for the first time with them. For one reason or another it hasn't panned out, though. I'm sort of embarrassed to admit how bummed I have gotten over the thought of missing that first. It hasn't, though, made me at all proactive about getting my dog to the beach.

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Yesterday when Alex called out of the blue to see if I wanted to take the dogs to the beach I was at least wise enough to jump on the chance.

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 For a few minutes I couldn't stop laughing because both dogs were just so damned happy to be free to run and sniff and bark. Man, the barking, it's so much easier to take when there's a brisk breeze to blow it off shore!

The Escape

It was bittersweet since Bobby is sick and we don't know what his future may bring but he doesn't know he's sick so it was a smarter tactic to just enjoy his bliss.

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 Man I love these dumbasses so much I can barely stand it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Photo Challenge: OOPS

The first OOPS of the post is how late I am. Jury Duty and a day job can really mess with your schedule!

What's a dog gotta do to get a little salt around here?
I especially like that Our Janet made it look like the tiny ceramic dog is happy about the accident!

all soaked
The saddest part about Our Bethany's photo is that they were already soaked and ready to cook!

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Good thing Our Ed can't talk or he'd probably tell me I'm not allowed to post this on social media.

I have not had a fun day. Let the next prompt be LAUGH. I need some of that, please.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday March 25th for posting on March 26th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and LAUGH. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Would You Notice?

UntitledSeveral months ago someone stopped following me on a social media platform I use  regularly. Apparently.

You see, I didn't figure it out until last month.

We knew each other personally before we became friends on social media. We've been to each other's houses (that's a pretty big thing in NYC), we have a few purposeful mutual friends and some accidental ones. We like a lot of the same things, even when we like them for different reasons or in different ways. We weren't best friends, certainly, but I thought we were solidly friends, more than acquaintances. I thought things were just basically pleasant and would go along like that foreverish.

But I tend to think that about a lot of things until they stop and then I'm all, "But? Forever? Why change?" and the thing clearly says, "Nothing is forever. Shush now."

I'm not deeply wounded here. Something happened, I'm not sure what, and losing me from the information stream made someone happier. I'm all for happier.

I'm a little concerned for myself, though, because I didn't notice for so long. I mean, seriously, it's not like we met twenty years ago at a conference and just kept the connection because it was polite. There was more to it and yet...I didn't notice. What does that say about my emotional housekeeping?

Recently I've been thinking about unfollowing some folks, people I honestly like in real life but who make my information feed difficult in both silly and serious ways. I wouldn't unfriend them or block them, just remove their posts from what I see effortlessly. Since I really like them I don't want to hurt feelings or even make them feel unheard in some way so I started to wonder. Would they notice? Is it arrogant to think that anybody would? How much of an impact on anybody's life can I possibly be making through my posts about vegetable peelers and reproductive rights and cute dog videos?

This is why I'm asking you today, if one of your combo social media + real life friends stopped following you, would you notice?

I'm asking for a friend.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Brain Kicking

UntitledJust a few things kicking around my brain that I want to be kicking around your brain, too.

This afternoon I've been working on LTYM stuff, training the dog, and doing laundry. Who wants to guess what's in my pockets?

Dooce shared this link today so you've probably already seen it but, hey, I certainly can't pass up hockey players with their pets.

And Chookooloonks shared this one so, again, you've probably seen it but it's an illustrator's view mash up of Star Wars and John Hughes films. It's just cool. 

You know, I'm not usually into this bald faced kind of humor but I thought this was clever.

So, check this chart and then answer this, "Does Google need to work on its world view?"

I have a friend who recently got a job at this organization. I thought it was the perfect match and now that I've seen this live tweet run down of a group meeting I know it is. She loves a lively and fair discussion.

You see a lot of "cute" pets and kids photos on the internet. Please read this post and keep it in mind before you hit the "like" button.

Michael B. Jordan is cooooool.

This Then & Now shot of Canadian Women's hockey.

Untitled I have word out to several Girl Scout troops so I'm covered but if you still don't know where your Thin Mints are coming from the Cookie Locator can help.

Liz Climo's cartoons (comics? illustrations?) just make me laugh.

Please do not form your opinions about the correlation between abortion and death from fictional statistics.

I hope you remember the guy in FL, Michael Dunn, who shot and killed a kid for playing loud music. You may have heard that the jury in his trial was hopelessly deadlocked. Please take a look at this information from a juror about why. It's all about options and about exercising them. Holy fuck, y'all, this is why I want to regulate who, when, how, and why folks have guns.

I know it's the last day of Black History Month but, you know what? We should be learning history of all colors year round. May I suggest you delve into Mocha Momma's wonderful series of posts about important black figures and events. I learned so much and I wish she'd keep teaching me.

Even for the lesser students of science like me xkcd is awesome. This one? Ultra cool!

I don't know if all these Dr. Seuss facts are interesting but a lot of them are!

Here's what you have to really, REALLY avoid doing when talking about people living with financial challenges.

Our Sueb0b knows how to tell a good story but this one, truly, takes the cake! I want to leave you laughing.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Photo Challenge: BE/BEE/BEA/B

This one somehow showed us a light at the end of the tunnel regarding winter. No word yet on whether it's a train. Enjoy! (And say so in the comments, please.)

first ever audition
This is a photo of the piece that Our Bethany read in her Listen To Your Mother audition this weekend. It was such a privilege to see and hear her up there being herself and telling her story. 

B is for
I really wish I could be in this picture from Our Lisa. I'm freezing and I want dessert!

A bee in the snow
I remain floored by the fact that Our Janet can always put her hands on a photo that perfectly speaks to any prompt.

Bee
I shouldn't complain about the weather. Our Ana is much farther north than I and clearly she's dreaming of sunnier times.

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Sometimes I wish this dude could just be. You know? I forget that often he is calm, cool, and collected and I shouldn't be too greedy. His spirit must run free.

I made a middling to major mistake in medicating my elderly, ailing cat. It was brought to my attention almost purely by accident with a phone call from the woman who orders supplies at the vet. Bless her. I admitted my mistake and we're on a better path to wellness now. However, the new prompt must be OOPS.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday March 11th for posting on March 12th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and OOPS. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Your Perfect Day

UntitledI used to work with a wonderful life coach, Penelope Brackett. Every so often PB would ask us to write and share our "perfect day." The one I remember most clearly involved a nice guy, an off-Broadway theatre, and good food. There's imagery from that exercise that pops immediately to mind whenever I'm asked to set goals and make life lists and generally check in on my life's missions.

Even while I was writing out that one perfect day, though, I was aware that there are a lot of different perfect days for any person. I mean, I would not look unkindly on a day spent in bed napping and reading and...maybe some other bed-related activities. Those are just two choices. I know there are an infinite number of others.

Today stood out as another version of my perfect day.

I got up this morning and went to the park. The dog got some time off leash. I talked with some friends. We swung by a friend's house on the way home and dropped her dog off so....good deed for the day! (Way too easy.) At home I had time for a leisurely shower and breakfast with social media while I got ready to head to work. When I took the dog for a quick spin before I left I had more patience for training. It's been so cold and the paths so crowded with snow that the combination of his lack of exercise and the lack of space has made for a drastic turn in our good manners. Today the ways were clearer and so were our heads and we made good progress, really communicating.

Then I went off to work! Work today was the first day of auditions for Listen To Your Mother's NYC show. We had a small crisis as I was on my way out of the subway but we solved it easily and got set up in plenty of time. The next five hours were like a custom-built performance piece just for the four of us. We had a couple of intermissions where we could talk amongst ourselves, get to know each other a bit, and we had long stretches of people generously sharing snapshots of their lives for us in brilliant and heartfelt ways.

The commute home was blessedly swift. I had time in each direction to read up on some dog training. The book I'm reading now in preparation for class next month is almost entirely things I thought I knew plenty about but I'm learning and re-learning with every paragraph. It's inspiring me to chomp at the bit to get started!

The pets greeted me at the door with excitement but gave me space to change my coat. I took the dog out for a nice walk where we ran into a friend and I decompressed a bit after hearing so many stories. Then in I went and fed the menagerie. I was so jazzed I was even moved to cook a little something for dinner and, while that was working, do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. (It really is amazing what loving your work will do.)

I've been relaxing on the couch with some TV, catching up on emails and social media, and having remarkable success with some more dog training (we still have plenty of work to do on cat chasing and barking at the door but it's going well tonight). I'll be ready for bed and then some when the time comes in half an hour but in the best way. It's a good thing, too, because I have to get up bright and early in the morning so I can do it all over again!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

This Is The Way It Ends

UntitledIt was warm enough to take the little dog to the park this morning so we went. Apparently I thought cold was the only factor worthy of consideration. After skating over black ice, waiting in doorways for other dogs to pass, and navigating around deep slush puddles we arrived at the park. Of course the nightmare didn't become obvious until we were a solid ten yards into the joint so going back was going to be at least as hard as going forward. The snow was deep and wet but crusty. Your feet sink into it and you have to work on lifting them out again to move forward. There's ice underneath, most of the places that look clear are actually skating rinks, and some of those are actually deep puddles waiting to soak your ankles.

I had already decided that the smartest thing to do was to go forward to the next exit and then go home. Ed seemed to be going slow, too, picking his path carefully so I forged ahead to throw away a bag. In the two seconds that I turned to aim my throw at the can one of his arch nemeses appeared next to him (please spay and neuter your dogs, I'm begging you). Suddenly he was much better able to follow and off he went. There was no way I could follow at speed. I called and cajoled and I tried to get closer. My feet sank deeper and deeper with every step and I was basically helpless.

It was at this point that I started to think about zombies.

All the zombie stories happen in warm climes. The weather gets uncomfortable for the humans but not the zombies. Sure, World War Z advises us to head north because zombie blood doesn't circulate (no pumping heart, no circulation) so it freezes and halts the monsters. They don't, however, mention days like today. It's 36F so it's above freezing but there's plenty of snow on the ground. If the snow is melting into moat-like puddles I'm pretty sure those zombies would be on the move.

Picture it, they're slipping and sliding on the black ice of the sidewalks. I'm being careful not to fall so their single-mindedness means they're gaining on me whether walking, sliding, or crawling. I decide to duck into the park to lose them in obstacles, maybe even sliding down the back side of the hill if I can just get up the front side first. The path is as slick as the sidewalks I just abandoned so I hit the field. Suddenly my feet break through the crust and I'm up to my knees in heavy snow. I can make steady progress, even though it feels like my heart might explode, so I keep coming. Then I hit ice underneath, skid, and recover. Yanking my foot out of the hole my boot comes loose. No time to retie it but it's slowing me down. I make it three more strides before a zombie surprises me from the side and I can't turn away. She must have been frozen in the snow but thawed enough to be ready to feed. I try to twist my body from the impact but she slams into me and down I go, body moving but feet stuck. I feel a tremendous SNAP as my shin breaks and shortly after that everything goes blessedly black.

Maybe that's why they always set zombie stories in pleasant weather because if they set them up here there wouldn't be any suspense. We're all just going to die.

*This post is dedicated to Our Lisa who promises to stay in great shape to defend me against zombies when the apocalypse comes.