I woke up this morning to the sound of birds chirping. LOTS of birds chirping. In fact, it sounded more like an ocean of birds chirping outside my window. I was tempted to tip toe over and peek outside, but I was so cozy and warm, and to be honest I was a little afraid of what I might actually see out there. Now, I consider myself a fairly normal individual, with average likes and dislikes. I'm not a hypochondriac or a phobia-ridden person, with unreasonable fears or perceptions. I don't get scared when I watch horror flicks, or look over my shoulder in fear that some creep is always lurking in the shadows...however, there is one teeny tiny little thing that will send me running for cover. Birds.
I'm not really talking about cute little song birds, or single-soaring tree dwellers like cardinals or blue jays, or even those adorable little sparrows that hop amongst the leaves looking for a cute little worm to gobble up. I'm talking about birds of the scavenger variety. The ones with long sharp claws big enough to carry away a full grown rodent. The ones that hang out in flocks targeting outdoor picnic areas, parking lots, storefronts, and waterfronts. The ones that will swoop down for a bite of your sandwich, just for fun. In Florida, tourists and litterbugs think it's amusing to feed birds, and now those birds see humans as their main source of nourishment and all hell is breaking loose in recreational hang outs all across the land.
Unfortunately, my dislike for birds doesn't necessarily rule out pets. I find them to be loud, messy and usually pretty stinky. The bigger they are the less I like them. Seriously though, are they not just rats with wings? (Yes, that is a reference to the Spongebob episode when he and his sea critter friends get pecked by seagulls). It seems cruel to cage these poor things anyway, and to clip their wings so they can't fly? How selfish of us to take that away from them!
In no particular order, here are some experiences/reasons that have resulted in my contempt for birds.
1. Birds in Parks (part 1) A few years ago, my husband worked on the back lot of Disney's Hollywood Studios (aka, MGM). During their lunch breaks he and the gang would usually walk into the park for a bite to eat. They usually got fast food and congregated at some tables in an area near the water. According to my husband, birds were always a huge problem during their meal, so much so that the guys had learned to eat super fast and not ever leave their plates open for an attack. On this particular day, a lovely tourist was sitting at the table beside them. Upon realizing that she needed some more ketchup for her fries, she got up and went back to the condiment bar and left her plate on the table. Immediately, the entire lunch area erupted into a squawking frenzy which descended on her unattended hot dog lunch. In less than 4 seconds, nothing was left but a few stray feathers.
2. Birds in Parks (part 2) I have been to Disney many many times, and each time I go, it seems that the bird are worse than the last time. I can usually ignore them pretty well, and eating indoors helps me deal, however during this one particular visit I suppose I was past due for an unfortunate bird encounter. As we walked along the water in Frontier Land (by Tom Sawyers Island/Haunted Mansion) we walked smack into a sea gull landing strip. They were apparently swarming the trash receptacles in that area trying to score some discarded turkey leg bones. For those of you not familiar with this traditional Disney treat, it's the only spot in the park where you can buy these famous femur-sized smoked turkey legs from a vendor on the street. (For more information, check out this blog: http://www.diningindisney.com/disney-turkey-legs-uncovered-the-real-secret-behind-this-tasty-disney-treat/ ). Unable to ignore the aerial onslaught any longer, I picked up the pace in an effort to seek shelter, distancing myself from my spouse as he broke into hysterics laughing at me. But as I got closer to what seemed like a safe zone, one of the sea gulls suddenly swooped down at me. I swear it seemed like it was trying to land on my head, so I ducked and dodged and slinked my way under an overhang just in time to turn around and see a group of people (and my husband) laughing at me!!! Admittedly, it must have looked really funny, but at the time I was practically peeing my pants.
3. Birds at Work (part 1, 1999) Back in the early days of my career, I resorted to desperate measures in order to get my foot in the door somewhere, and this sometimes meant working for insultingly low wages. For a few weeks I teamed up with a home-based web design business who needed artwork for a website. They mostly did programming and didn't have an in house artist, so it seemed like a good fit. I was super excited until I walked in the door and saw what I was up against. During the "interview", the lady had her pet bird sitting on her shoulder the entire time. I have no idea what kind of bird it was, but it was small and green and it had a penchant for shitting on her shoulder. The whole time she's asking me serious questions about my skill set and my goals, this bird is staring at me dropping loads on her shoulder. It was as if he was mocking me (hmmm, could this actually be a mockingbird?). The best part, was that she never even notices what's happening!! Was I supposed to tell her? I mean, was this a common occurrence or was the bird about to drop dead? And what is the protocol for discussing poop during an interview? I ended up getting the project, but every time I would come in to work and smell the stench of bird dookie I began to realize that this place was not for me. If only I had recognized the forebodingness of all that doo doo. I ended up getting completely ripped off my these people, who never paid me for any of my work! I reported them to the BBB, and made sure I mentioned the repulsive condition of their home/office, even citing the pooping bird on her shoulder.
4. Birds at Work (part 2, 2000) Before I made my complete transition into graphic design, I worked as a nail tech in a hair salon. My work station was right in the front window, so I had a clear view of the parking lot outside. Earlier in the week, we noticed an aggressive swooping bird near the trees that border our row of parking spaces. Evidently, a mother bird was patrolling the area to protect the babies in her nest. Each day, the bird seemed more and more bold, until one afternoon she actually dive-bombed one of our clients and hit her in the head as she walked to her car! Now, I probably don't even have to mention what happened next, but I can't resist. Within minutes, every person in the salon was lined up at the front windows watching this bird swoop people in the parking lot. One by one, as our clients finished with their services and had to leave, we'd all hold our breaths (and watch) as they would break into a " crouching run" to get to their cars. And just when we thought things wouldn't get any funnier, this one girl gets hit by the bird, in mid bend while she's got one foot in the car and the other foot on the ground. She is so startled by the attack that she ends up sliding out of the car onto the ground, while we all break out into utter hysterics. I know. Salons are full of bitches.
5. Birds at Work (part 3, 2008) In an effort to land a potentially lucrative freelance job, my husband and I met with a woman who publishes her own magazine, in an exclusive suburb of Orlando. She works out of her house, and was apparently going through a rather difficult time in her life, suffering from a serious back injury. I was warned in advance that she would be medicated during our visit, but I was unable to get a sitter for our sons, so she said we should bring them along. She explained that she loves kids, and that her house full of pets that would provide plenty of entertainment while we discussed our business. So we show up, kids in tow, and are greeted at the door by this truly poor soul. Bless her heart, she looks a mess. She gives us a tour of her sprawling estate, and offers to show my oldest son her pet McCaw. Now, I will just say for the record, this bird was stunningly gorgeous. She's got the thing in a gigantic 5 foot cage in her bedroom, and without even asking, she takes it out of the cage! She hadn't cleaned the cage in weeks, the whole room was filled with a this "fowl" odor. I'm standing there holding my breath, cursing my husband for falling behind on the tour (and leaving us alone with this chick and her crazy bird)! She had a little trouble trying to take him out of the cage, maybe he sensed my contempt, maybe he sensed the fear in my 3 year old son's eyes, or maybe it was just all the painkillers she was doped up on. For whatever reason, the thing starts SCREECHING at us, at the top of it's lungs. It was so incredibly loud that my ear drums went numb. My poor son was bawling, trying to climb up me, and I'm standing there trying to politely tell her that it's okay for the very pretty bird to go back into it's cage. Needless to say, this experience would eventually go down in history as one of our most effed up interviews ever, we never even got any of the work she promised, so it was all for nothing. I guess the designer she'd a falling out with, kissed her ass and she gave all the work back to him. It's cool though, she was just a loon with a pet McCaw.
6. Birds at Friend's House Technically, this was actually the story that began it all. In high school, my twin sister dated a boy who's family owned some sort of large bird, it may have been a McCaw but I'm not sure...anyway, one time while she was there, he asked her if she wanted to hold the bird. She said that she wasn't interested, but he pushed the issue ensuring her that Polly was a friendly bird, and would never hurt her. So, my sister decided to be a good sport, and allowed him to put the bird on her arm. Less than 3 seconds later, the thing turns it's head and bites her right on the lip for no reason, while scratching the shit out of her arm.
7. FlightlessBirds and Lakes In college, I was a rollerblading fool and so were my roommates. One day, while skating around a lake in downtown Orlando, we came upon a beautiful white swan. I always detour around those things because they can be pretty aggressive at times. And it's not like I had a pocket full of bread crumbs to toss at it! Since I was a little steadier on my skates I managed to get away from the thing. But, my roommate wasn't as lucky, and lagged behind while this thing chased after her, squawking...
Recently, a friend of mine inadvertently caused me to relive an ordeal my husband and I endured about two years ago, while living in our home in downtown Orlando. It seemed my friend was in the process of battling a brown tick infestation in her home. In case you haven't experienced this before, allow me to tick a moment here to tell you a little something about ticks. They suck. And not just literally...
My husband and I learned a very valuable lesson about seasonal pest control that year - carefully read the instructions on all your pest control packaging. As luck would have it (not really), the flea and tick season was one of the worst in recent history, and due to our failure to adequately protect ourselves from the onslaught, it seemed that we had invited the little suckers right into our home. For five hellish, exhausticking and anxiety ridden days, I was unable to sleep a wink in my own bed.
Tick all began on a Saturday. I noticed what looked like a spider on the wall behind the sofa in our living room. Upon closer inspection, I realized it wasn't a spider at all, it was a brown dog tick. My Dad was staying tick us at the time, and he happened to be sitting mere inches away from this thing, so as not to alarm my guest I discreetly pinched the little bugger in a tissue and ran to the bathroom to flush it. I hoped it was just a stray, since I had been in a cleaning frenzy all day, maybe I had chased tick from the dog's bed while vacuuming? The next day, I continued with my major spring cleaning, but before the end of the night tick was clear that we had a major problem. I had found close to a dozen ticks in various places around our house. We were under attack.
The moment Dad left that Sunday, we went into full panic mode and removed all things dog-like from the house. Dog bed, dog toys, anything that touched the dog, even poor Bailey (our chocolate lab) was exiled for most of the night. Surely this was all a result of the fact that we had applied his treatment a little too late this month, right??? The ticks are just jumping ship because the medication was finally working, RIGHT?
Wrong. When we spoke to our pest control people on Monday morning, we figured out what had happened. To our horror, we learned that the stuff we had been using didn't treat ticks at all. It only controlled fleas. Heh? Why would something like that even be on the market if it doesn't do ticks? WTF?? We couldn't believe that we somehow overlooked this very important detail. It was a disaster. Upon realizing that Bailey was basically a walking tick farm, we sprung into action and threw his butt back outside. We were both 2 hours late for work that morning because we had to run to the store and get the appropriate dog shampoo, bathe the pup and apply the correct tick treatment so we could try to get things under control.
Meanwhile, our pest control people weren't done dishing out the bad news. They wouldn't be able to send anyone to treat the house out until Wednesday. We had to go TWO MORE days like this? It was all I could do not to stand on a chair screaming like a little girl. Don't get me wrong, it's not like there were ticks lining up in little formations on our walls (yet), but I am cursed with something my husband has ticknamed "bug radar." This radar is a sort of involuntary action that prevents me from relaxing until I've performed a visual scan of the walls and ceilings of any room I've just entered (basically looking for bugs). Maybe I was in the pest control business in a past life, maybe I'm just blessed with an incredible sense of peripheral vision, who knows. All I know is that this particular "disorder" can be really irri-ticking on a normal day, let alone on a day I find dozens of ticks in less than 6 hours!!!! And so, the unravelling began. How could we possibly go on for TWO MORE days in a house that was completely untreated!?!? It was only Day 2 and we were already strung out from battling them on our own. These little bastards are practically impossible to kill, you have to either smash them with a pickle jar-like object, gouge them with your fingernail or flush them down the toilet. So whenever you do spot one (depending on where it is) you have to go into ninja mode just to plan the attack. It was a nightmare.
Finally, Wednesday came and I practically hugged the pest dude when he showed up. I wowed him with the tick facts I'd learned during my Google search, explaining that we were only seeing the adults ticks (which btw was a good thing). In order to prepare for his visit, my husband and I had spent hours and hours moving furniture and cleaning beneath it. We had been instructed to relocate anything that was touching the floor, that included the dozens of shoes we had in our bedroom closet, all of our son's toys, the miscellaneous junk we had stuffed into spare closets, under beds etc. It was almost as disrupting as moving! Did I mention that I was 7 mos pregnant at this time? How about that our first born was only 2 years old? As if the preparation wasn't enough, no living creature (that was to remain living) could remain in the house during the treatment. We all had to evacuate the property for at least 3 hours. With no reasonable place to go (with the kitty), our only option was to board him, and since he hadn't seen the vet in more than a year, this also meant that we had to pay for an annual check up, vaccinations and of course - a flea/tick dip. Grrrr...these little pests were totally tick-ing over our life and weren't going stop until they took a bite out of our wallet too. >:(
Thankfully, despite the warning we got from the pest guy (that we might not see immediate results), we did! We never found another living tick in the house after they sprayed! What a relief, that all the expense and effort had paid off. Unfortunately, that is not the end this story...
About two weeks after this ordeal, we made a horrifying discovery. My husband and mother-in-law were in the living room one afternoon, when suddenly a small field mouse scurried across the floor and ran under our armchair!! One quick call to the pest guys revealed a very alarming fact. According to them, it was very likely that we did not have a mouse problem at all, they suspected that we had a MICE problem!! They explained that while ticks are often problematic for dog owners, it was more likely that our dog was not the one to blame for the outbreak, due to the fact that rodents are often the primary cause of tick infestations. Needless to say, the long sordid battle was eventually won - 12 glue traps later. (Mice 0, Humans 12 + one missing trap - eak!!!) It seemed that our furry friends were only nesting in our home for the purpose of multiplying, once we caught them all, it was over.
Looking back now, the entire ordeal does seem somewhat comical (but only because we all managed to avoid getting bitten), plus I now know some very interesting and disturbing facts about ticks that I never knew before. For example, did you know that ticks can survive for an entire year and a half without feeding? Fan-fucking-tickstic. I mean, really. REALLY!!! And did you know that ticks actually are arachnids? Nice. Heat seeking. Blood sucking spiders. Thanks Google! And my favorite fun tick fact of all...the female tick (which are the only ones that get "bloated" after a feeding) can lay up to 15,000 eggs in one sitting...can someone please tell me why in the hell this is necessary!?!?!?!?
Tick to ya later...
COMING SOON - actual video shot of the very brave "Lewis & Clark Tick" that decided to visit us while we were watching TV during the ordeal - he crawled across our 53 inch Sony DLP TV...on the other side of the screen. The damned thing was inside our TV...
Note: This text was stolen from an old blog I posted on MySpace.
I did not grow up around guns, nor did I have any experience with them. In fact, the few times I'd actually seen one up close I became so panicked that I wanted to run out of the room crying. In my eyes, handing me an unloaded gun was just as frightening as handing me a live rattlesnake. Guns that shoot anything besides water or nerf darts absolutely terrified me. Mostly, I think it was because I didn't understand them, or more importantly, how to handle them. I had never been a big fan of guns in the home, especially when you have kids. But in the wake of Hurricane Charlie, after our family spent 4 uneasy nights without electricity, in a downtown Orlando neighborhood (that some people consider the "wrong side of the tracks"), I felt that it was time to rethink my stance on this. So, when my husband came home from an Orlando Gun Show a few months later, toting a new Taurus 24/7 Pro 9 mm, I knew our first order of business was going to be hitting the range. I was told that this particular gun was the 2006 Gun of the Year, and that it was rated the best handgun for home protection. Hearing that, did seem somewhat comforting. Do you suppose they dish out titles like that just gain support from the little ladies?
Less than a week later, with my devoted husband by my side, I picked up the newest "addition" to our family, and fired at least 10 rounds into a cheesy paper target. On my 3rd shot, I actually managed to hit the silhouette dude right on the edge of the red bulls eye (basically the chest area). Not too shabby, considering the fact that I had been shaking like a leaf from the moment we entered the range. On the way in I practically clung to the back wall, furthest away from the stalls. Hehe, I must have looked like a cat slinking around trying to avoid a bath. And when one of the guys in there fired his 45 mm just as we walked by, I jumped about 2 feet in the air. I don't think anything really could have prepared me for that. At that point, I almost turned on my heel and ran out. By the time we had walked the entire length of the room, to the stall furthest away from the rest of the shooters, I was on the verge of tears. Kenny saw how freaked out I was, and he asked me if I wanted to watch from the other side of the glass, but I said no because I felt like I just needed to get it over with before I chickened out completely. So after watching him shoot for a while, I decided to give it a try. I was really nervous about the recoil (and the shells hitting me), but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Actually, what I had the most trouble with, was the sound. It was sooo incredibly LOUD. I was only able to fire off a few rounds each turn, because I needed some in between time to collect myself. I think it may be a while before I become fully comfortable holding a gun in my hand (loaded or not)...but today, I'm a whole lot closer to that, than I ever was...so YAY!!!
Purely by accident, I landed on the Urban Dictionary website last night and quickly got sucked in to viewing page after page of the "Word of the Day" posts. Three hours later, I was still giggling over some of them. In my humble opinion, these are nothing short of brilliant...
Dotcomrade: an internet acquaintance, someone you chat with but have never met
Drafternoon:any time after 12:00 pm, when the beer starts flowing
Faux Five:when you're about to high five someone, and your hands are just about to hit, then the other high-fiver quickly moves their hands away leaving you hanging
Flirtationship: when you regularly flirt with an acquaintance or friend, but nothing else.
Fornever: Never occurring, nor having the potential to do so
Requestion: requesting something indirectly by way of a question, i.e. "are those peanut m&m's??"
Sargasm:deriving far too much satisfaction from glibly berating another with sarcasm
Slackitude: the act of, or state of being a slacker
Textpectation: the anticipation one feels while waiting for a response to a text
Textrovert: one who feels an increased sense of bravery over texting, as opposed to in person
Textually Active: someone who texts more than they breathe
And for the record, NONE of these words describe me at all... ;D