Friday, September 28, 2001

My Man

My man.
The possessive spoken with pride,
while admiring eyes slide over his body.
“She snagged him?”
They whisper in surprise, in envy.
I choose not to hear their words
return their looks hiding behind smoky glasses.

My man.
The possessive borne under pressure,
weights me, wounds me, in suspicion.
“What are you looking at?”
“Where have you been?”
stills me, stifles me, in demands.
“Don’t you ever . . .”
“You will not!”

My man.
My man.
My man.

Their eyes caress his chest
the way my fingers tips
still do
of their own volition, is it not?
How can I still love one who
has broken the very core of me?
“Oh, baby, I’m sorry”
“You know I didn’t mean it.”
“If you only wouldn’t . . . ”

Defense buried in amends
another burden, bitterness
I swallow with the sweet.

What am I still doing here?

My man.

Thursday, September 27, 2001

I have been thinking about something for a while now, but have been reluctant to put my thoughts into words, fearful that I will not be able to say what I mean. Yet, the specious intimacy of this medium affords me the opportunity to try.

So I will.

My thought is this: While I hope I never end up in a wheelchair (a common reality for people with multiple sclerosis), I almost wish I already were.

That sound so horrible, ungrateful for the strength and mobility I have remaining. And I fear offending those already in a wheelchair. But the half-wish remains.

The desire is not for the relief of my fatigue, the idea of not having to work so hard at getting around. The idea of having support when I grow too tired to go on when I’m out and about. These are wonderful ideas to me. But…it is not about fatigue or strength or weakness.

It is about perception.

If I were already in a wheelchair, I wouldn’t get the oft asked questions when I’m slowly traversing a staircase. “Did you hurt your leg?” In the winter: “Did you hurt your knee skiing?” Or just the looks. On the outside, I don’t really look ill; so when I’m slowing traffic down on a staircase or on an escalator, I raise the irritation, if not ire, of those behind me or trying to get around me.

But even more so a wheelchair would afford me the perception of expectations. People in a wheelchair are at least somewhat limited in what they can do physically. You don’t expect them to go out all-day and then again in the evening. You don’t expect them to spend the day walking around a mall or an amusement park. And you are fairly unquestioning when they say that they are tired or need a rest.

I rarely have that luxury. “Why can’t you?” is the question I hear most when I turn down an outing or cut short an activity. “You did _____the other day. This isn’t as hard as that.” I’m put on the defensive when I am struggling to make better choices for myself, for my health. I’ve pushed my health so often trying to do more than I am truly able or to hide my own physical struggles. The price I pay for doing so is rather high. I cannot just sleep late one day to make up for exhaustion. And when I push it too much, the fatigue makes my muscle weakness worse. My joints don’t stay in place. I ache. Just getting around is a chore. And recovery is not a mere day; it can be a week or more.

Another perception of expectation a wheelchair would afford me is that of friendship. If you have a friend who is in a wheelchair, you will need to be sensitive to his/her needs and make allowances for your times together. You know the relationship will take work as you have to enter that person’s world a bit. And if you prefer an active lifestyle when out with friends, well then, you spend time with those you can join you instead of pushing someone who really cannot.

A year ago, I went on a woman’s retreat. I didn’t get a bed or even a spot in one of the three bedrooms (with doors for some semblance of quiet), so I wound up on an air cushion on the floor in a large open area. Some women stayed up until nearly 2:00 am talking and, yes, giggling. Then other women got up just before 7:00 am. I had little sleep in an uncomfortable “bed.” We sat for several hours at a time on Saturday. By the time to two day event was over, I was stiff and exhausted. And working full time the next week was harder than it usually is.

This year, I’m not going to the retreat. And I’ve already been told that I should be more social, that I should be more spiritual, that I should make an effort to join in instead of being self-centered. I’d rather I heard that someone understood that another retreat like the last would be difficult or that I’d get a bed so I could get some rest.

I feel as if I haven’t really said what I mean, but it is a start. I do not wish for the confinement of a wheelchair, however much I could use one from time to time as I get around.

I do wish for the perceptions and assumptions a wheelchair might afford me from those around me.

Do I sound as if I am complaining? I truly do not mean to…I just wish I didn’t keep finding myself defending or explaining. I just wish more of those around me stopped to think for a minute about how having MS and asthma might affect my life…and not give me grief about resting, staying home, or not doing what others think I’m able to do, but rather what I know is best for me.

I haven’t given up. I don’t spend my time wallowing in all this. I don’t really have the time. As a single person, I have to work and keep my home and car and care for my pets and myself all by myself. That’s often hard enough without battling two chronic incurable diseases that have greatly altered my lifestyle.

Perceptions. Assumptions. Understanding.

Does any of this make sense?

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

The following was my first attempt at writing what a friend calls "smut." I wrote it on a dare. Does Danielle Steele need to worry? Probably not. But the experience was fun.

The Beginning of a Lie

It was a dark and stormy night when I stole a few moments to be with my lover--moments that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

When does a lie begin? When does it end? Did my lie begin the first moment I lay eyes on Geoffrey’s beautifully sculpted form? A new model for my art class, he defied description in our clumsy language. Some Master had chiseled his form as a mockery to artists everywhere. The living can never truly be captured to the inanimate form, no matter the medium one might choose.

For fifteen years, I’ve watched scores of models parade before my students. Observing the reactions of those who’d come to learn was one of my greatest amusements. The stares, the blushes, the whispers, the giggles. Something about the naked body on display reduces most adults to the response of a teenager, often a teenager in heat.

Growing up with parents as artists, I believed I was immune to any base attraction to those who bared their form for my classes. I believed this, that is, until the robe slipped from Geoffrey’s strong shoulders to lie in a silken pool at his feet. Even I flushed at the sight of his manhood. But in truth it was the whole of him that captured my body and his mind my heart.

It began innocently enough. Geoffrey stayed after class to ask some questions about modeling, this being his first time. His questions were sincere, and I suggested we stop by the coffee house on the corner to continue our conversation. The hours passed as we moved from discussing the needs of my students, their hopes for my class, to his reasons for modeling. At the mention of his work, Geoffrey blushed, which surprised me. I would have thought that someone who posed with such grace would not be embarrassed about the work. But that was not the only surprise I was to receive from him.

Geoffrey is a poet, or at least he would have been one in another life. Here, in this life, he works at a nursery on Elm Street. The reason he’d chosen to model was that he needed money quickly. His mother was ill and needed medicine her managed health care did not cover. In the past few weeks, he had given blood, given plasma, and participated in two different studies at the medical school. He’d also gone from door to door to search for odd jobs such as mowing lawns or doing light repairs, and it was in this canvassing that he met the woman responsible with supplying the art department with models for the various painting, drawing, and sculpting classes.

The night wore on as I listened to his tale and to his poetry, the passion of his soul, and I gave no thought to my family, my husband Lawrence and my three young daughters. Glancing at my watch after my third cup of coffee, I was startled to discover that it was after midnight. My class had ended at nine. I rushed off without even asking how long he was scheduled for my class. Already, my heart did not want to know the date of his departure.

Returning home to a darkened house, I used the time-honored excuse of car trouble when my husband questioned me the next morning. After that, I was never really late again. Geoffrey would stop to talk, to walk me to my car, and to bid me good-bye. The evening he finally touched me--he brushed my lips with his fingertips to stop me from asking him to stay longer--my body tingled with desire, with regret, and with shame.

I love Lawrence and the girls. I’ve never so much as looked at another man in the way that Geoffrey has overwhelmed my senses, my body, my desires. It was the last class, that dark and stormy night that we gave in to the temptation before us. Passions swelled and filled the night with ardor. He took me, there in my classroom, and fulfilled my longings as no other has before or since. The heights he brought me to had heretofore been unknown to me. Afterwards, with tears in his eyes, he stroked my cheek and apologized for breaking the sanctity of my marriage saying that he should have left long ago. And he did, leave that is, while I remained clutching the robe he had left behind.

Lawrence never commented on the melancholy that overtook me or the robe that suddenly appeared in our bathroom. I loved Lawrence that same night in a failed attempt to make amends for my betrayal.

Now, as I sit here, one hand resting on my swollen abdomen, I am faced with how that one lie of car problems grew to the gravid condition that resulted from my passion with Geoffrey. Car problems, the students needing extra attention, then empty specious errands. The lies compounded. Lawrence believes this child the result of a failed diaphragm. But I know better.

How do I forget those stolen moments with Geoffrey? How do I set aside my deep longing to reach those heights once more? How do I destroy my family with the truth of this child? For I am not foolish enough to believe the truth will not come out.

It is only a question of time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

I still find myself crying or at least with tears pooling in my eyes while watching television, listening to the radio, or while on the internet upon see, listening to, or reading yet another story of heroism or another cherished life lost or just a few bars of music of a national song. I find it difficult to hold back the swirling emotions within me. And I find it rather strange that at my work life has seemingly moved on with little discussion on the reality and ramifications of the events surround September 11th.

When I was in the seventh grade, I won an essay contest. The topic? “What the American Flag means to me.” What does a 12-year-old know of freedom? Perhaps very little, but from a young age, just hearing the opening bars of “The Star Spangled Banner” is enough to trigger the emotions within me and oft those pooling tears. And I can neither sing our national anthem nor recite the pledge of allegiance without chills racing up and down my body and the enormity of the freedom we have in the country overwhelming me.

I still have that essay, and while the words are quite childish, the thoughts are the same. In so very many other places in this world, as a female, as a Christian, and as a single person, my liberty, rights, and/or beliefs would mostly likely be curtailed, if not forbidden or mandated, by others. I can travel whenever I want. I can work. I can own property. I can read the bible, meet with others who share my faith, and openly talk about my beliefs. I can disagree with my government. And I am free to pursue anything I want as long I don’t cause harm to others. The American flag is a potent symbol of those freedoms.

America still has its problems. For the most part, we like to forget that we basically stole this land from its original inhabitants and still struggle to treat them with the same freedom and respect we desire from others. We still struggle with the repercussions of slavery. And it was not that long ago that we imprisoned some of our own because of our fear of their ethnicity. To be of Japanese dissent meant liberty and rights and property were forfeited for a time.

But while we are still working out what it all means, America is a nation that is built upon freedom. And even in our own imperfections, we have sought to offer freedom to those who are denied it and who desire it. We have a solidarity that covers race, religion, and decree. We support each other and offer succor to strangers who need it. Here and abroad, we are still shedding our blood in the name of freedom. And for each one who dies, more are willing to bear the cost of freedom with alacrity.

As a winner of the contest, a flag was flown over the capital in my name, a common occurrence, but nonetheless special to me. The stars are embroidered onto the fabric, and I find myself tracing my fingers over them. I also was given a certificate of authenticity for the flag and a letter naming me “aide de camp” to my congressmen of the time. Both are hanging on my wall near my desk at home.

Reminders of all I have before me as an American.

Thursday, September 20, 2001

Flush it!

That was my mother’s answer for so many things when I was growing up. Bugs and dead fish are probably quite common feed for that porcelain bowl. But my mother took it a step further. Even small animals found their way down the toilet.

I got gerbils when I was in high school. A male and a female. NEVER get both sexes of gerbils until you are interested in learning the hard lessons of life.

I was so happy when they mated. The babies were adorable. Then they were gone. Mother Gerbil or Father Gerbil had eaten them. I was horrified. I screamed when I first realized they were gone. My mother came running and then rather prosaically told me that such things were common events among some animals.

I didn’t, however, separate the male and female. More babies came. This time I separated the mother gerbil and the father gerbil. This time the babies moved past the adorable pink skin stage to the growing hair stage. This time I was able to actually hold one of them.

Once I finally judged it safe enough to handle the babies without turning the mother against them, I carefully picked up one of the babies. It was adorable, the size of my thumb. But then I felt something scratching the back of my legs. When I looked closer, the baby gerbil had only stumps for hind legs. I suppose the mother gerbil had just not finished her meal.

I screamed again. Louder and longer. When my mother came in the room, I could barely explain the new horror I had discovered.

She thought the baby must be in pain and would have no meaningful life. So she flushed it.

I let the mother and father gerbils go in the forest and then kept the two remaining babies--in separate cages, of course.

Just writing the story makes me shudder with the memory of the feel of that strange scrape against the palm of my hand.

By the way…Teddy Bear Hamsters are no less violent than gerbils. I tried the small animal pet thing again in college. The pet shop person had sworn they were both males. I even named them Lewis and Clark. Screaming was again involved as Lewis mauled Clark as if he were channeling a lion or tiger.

I used Neosporin on Clark and life went on, but it was not difficult for me to leave them behind when I left for Africa.

I guess it is a good thing that gerbils and hamsters have rather short life spans (2-3 years, I think). They’d wreak too much emotional havoc if they lived longer!

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

More on my alpha bird:

If I don’t put her to bed by about 10:30 pm, she pitches a fit until I do so. She starts crying and pacing up and down, her pitch rising with each passing moment that I haven’t moved to attend to her needs. I have to give her fresh water, replenish her food bowl, place her on her perch, and then cover her cage.

Sometimes I won’t be paying attention to the hour and when she starts shrieking, I’ll put her on my shoulder or stroke her head, thinking she just wants some “flock” time with me. She’s fairly inconsolable, however, until I send her off to sleep. When I finally get the message that bedtime is what she wants, she fairly scolds me as I move to get the food and water. Once I’ve secured the cover, nary a peep crosses her beak until morning.

Strange bird.

Note for the day: One sign that a cactus needs water…it has shriveled and shrunk half its size.

Monday, September 17, 2001

I just finished burning my dinner for the third time. I am ready to give up on eating, but my stomach is rather convinced that my esophagus has been cut or something otherwise as drastic. But I thought I would take a few moments to write before attempting to cook once more.

Work was crazy. Eleven of our phone lines were down, five of our eight rollover lines, including the main line, was included in those lines. Dialing in was near impossible. No one was happy. One VP had a virus on his computer. The owner needed me to work out something since one of his DSL lines was one of the down lines. And I wanted to walk right back out the door.

So I’ve been sitting on the couch while dinner is baking (and burning) and wishing for Friday all over again.

I have to admit that Monday Night Football would have gone a long way toward restoring my mental balance. But I do respect the NFL for making the decision to honor those who have fallen and their families with a "moment of silence" in their schedules.

I’ve had three Dr. Pepper’s so far today and am considering a fourth.

On the whole, I find Mondays rather horrid.

What did I enjoy about this day? Seeing deer this morning as I walked Kashi. An ICE COLD glass of milk and oatmeal raison cookies for breakfast. A sneak trip to the library when I made a deposit at the bank. And coming home to two pets that vie for my attention so they can let me know how much they missed me.

It’s nice being missed--even if it is by representatives from the canine and avian populations.

Oh no…I think I smell something burning.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

I saved a baby squirrel last night.

My neighbor came over asking for help in catching this wild squirrel that had been running around his apartment. He didn’t own a broom and had been unsuccessful at capture with a dustpan and umbrella.

Since the squirrel had been hiding beneath his couch, I suggested we tilted it forward to expose the squirrel’s hiding place. Imagine my surprise when the wild squirrel turned out to be a very small baby.

The baby squirrel sought save haven on my person, crawling up my leg to rest on my shoulder, burying his face in my hair. I put him in a box with a towel for a new hiding place and called the wildlife rescue hotline.

I then asked a young man from church if he would stop by and take the baby squirrel to the home of the rescuer assigned to its care. The young man joked that I’d be better off just having a nice meal of the squirrel.

I’m sure many would agree with him. Why save one of the peskiest and oft destructive animals in suburban America?

I don’t know. I guess, at this point, I’m not interested in killing anything and having a baby animal cling to you is compelling in its own way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

May tomorrow and the ensuing days be filled with love and with peace, marked by mercy toward and support for one another. May we stand shoulder to shoulder together against all who would seek to destroy humanity, freedom, opportunity...

days of sorrow, days of joy

days of sorrow wrapped with smiles
days of joy laced with tears
a life celebrated, a life mourned
the past, the present, the future
what was, was is, what will never be
days of sorrow, days of joy
moments touching memories
living and reliving long walks
quiet talks and rainy afternoons
laughter and love and life
days of sorrow, days of joy
releasing the hopes and dreams
of what will never be to treasure
the moments and memories of what was
healing heartache, honing grief
celebrating, mourning, releasing
days of sorrow, days of joy

Sunday, September 09, 2001

I’m typing with sore fingers because I played the guitar tonight for three and a half hours. Well, by most standards, I’m not sure what I do can be called playing, but whatever you call it, I spent the evening doing it.

I love music. It soothes me, fills me, sustains me. Whenever my attitude is poor (more often than I care to admit), I can turn on some music and end up forgetting that which bothered me so…at least for a good while.

I love singing. And playing. And I rather grieve for I shall never achieve my wishes musically. I have these visions of creating something beautiful. But I will never be able to achieve any of those visions. I’m a realist if nothing else.

You see, I don’t have much musical talent. I have no rhythm to speak of. I cannot clap or snap. I sang in this group in NC while working on my master’s degree and was relieved to hide in the corner behind those swaying and clapping and felt down right blessed when having a microphone to hold in duets.

I can sing some songs well, but I have the most inconvenient break in my voice between my head voice and chest voice. Somewhere around D or E above middle C. So I can sing with the tenors (not good for female vocal cords) or somewhat with second sopranos. Not too high, though. I sing a mean “Itsy Bitsy Spider”…but well, who wants to sing that song with me?

I enjoy singing with others. I even enjoy working on the technical aspect of singing, though I learn everything by heart since I cannot read music.

So having a guitar would seem a boon since I enjoy singing so much, eh? However, would you not agree that having a sense of rhythm is important--if not downright crucial--to playing the guitar? Alas, I cannot pick at all, which most of the slower songs I enjoy actually require. And I have about three strum patterns that I can mostly maintain throughout a song. So, would you really call what I do with my rather beautiful handmade Alvarez Yari “playing”? Probably not.

Of course, Fancy and Kashi don’t much mind my inconsistent strumming and sometimes missed chords.

Now, though, I do have to be careful singing. I use my inhalers before, during, and after to stave off asthma attacks. Sometimes I have to breathe three times during a single line. And I generally consider having white sparks flashing across my eyes and tingling hands a sign to stop and concentrate on breathing.

Still, even with all the above…I do love playing and singing. Music is amazing. Period. And I will go further by admitting that I agree with those who claim it to be the language of the soul. My soul sure spoke tonight. And would not any soul speech be beautiful, whatever the talent with which it is communicated? Perhaps my music is okay after all...

Thursday, September 06, 2001

Last night I was talking with another friend after I posted the last message. Truly, I am thankful for the distraction from how I felt. But while we were talking, at one point I said, “…the ship of costing.” After hanging up, I lay in bed with a heating pad under my hamstrings and fretted on how much I have changed.

I was Dr. ___________, scholar, professor, thinker. I rarely prepped for my classes because I carried all my studies around in my head. I would just gather together the books or strategy tools I planned to use in class and just talk away for the class. Research studies, authors, stories, titles, genres, pedagogical strategies and practices fell glibly from my tongue.

Now I mix words, I slur my speech, I forget words such as “girl” or “car” or “ocean.” I have a mockery of a short-term memory. I’ll be standing in the bathroom and cannot remember if I’ve washed my hands or not. Or holding my inhalers and wondered if I’ve puffed or not. Or sit in my car and wonder if I’ve pumped gas or not.

I forget my name, my age, what I am doing at the time.

I forget how to spell, how to form letters, what direction to write.

I have difficulty dialing a phone.

I struggle with the alphabet and with counting.

I get easily confused if something is said differently from what I expect. For example, one of the women coming over Saturday repeated my address when I was giving directions. Instead of saying “thirty-one-o-seven,” she said, “three-one-zero-seven.” I told her she had it wrong and when I repeated “thirty-one-o-seven,” she repeated back again “three-one-zero-seven.” I’m not sure she understood that I thought she had my address wrong for she went on talking, but my mind had become hung up on the error.

It took me a while to puzzle out the difference.

Much of my daily life is hiding the “forgetting” and the “confusing” and the “puzzling” I do.

My long-term memory has never been very good, but now I get confused if someone refers to something I’ve said or did and have no memory of. I get confused if I say I’ve never seen something or done something and someone corrects me. Not too long ago I was waxing poetically over seeing my very first harvest moon, when a kind friend pointed out that I spent a New Year’s Eve under one with her and two guys back when I was in college.

The lack of memory makes me feel as if I am missing a part of what makes me human. Perhaps that’s why I always seem to be just out of step with others, looking in from the outside.

I joke about my cheese hole brain. Others laugh at my foolery. I just don’t think people are much aware of the truth of my jesting.

The responses I’ve gotten from neurologists? Just concentrate more. [I’m trying!] Women cannot handle stress the way that men can. [That’s ludicrous.] We all forget things as we get older. [I was 29 at the time.]

Why did I start telling you this?

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

The very kind friend who set this site up for me suggested that I use it as a means for writing about having multiple sclerosis and now asthma, especially since writing is one of the things I enjoy most. Since I’m not teaching and have not been writing myself much lately, this could be a means to do the latter at least.

I resisted her offer of a web log/ website for a while, but I have to admit that the idea did sound intriguing. To write whatever I wanted and have that strange sort of specious intimacy that comes from conversing with others via e-mail or in a chat room. Obviously I accepted her generous offer since you are reading this. And I have briefly mentioned that I have MS and asthma. But I thought I would write solely about the former now. Briefly.

I just finished talking on the phone with a woman I know from church. Not being the most gregarious person around (i.e., I’m a wallflower unless singing or teaching) I nonetheless called to invite her (and three other women) over to sing and read and pray on Saturday in an effort to get to know them because I find them all interesting. But that’s not the point of this.

My invitation call turned into a wonderful marathon phone session. I enjoyed talking with her, but I also enjoyed the reprieve her “visit” gave me.

You see, I had some plants that needed to be potted and did so on Monday [I did actually ask for help, but the person was busy]. And now I am paying the consequences for not waiting for someone to help me.

My legs are growing increasingly “tight” from the back of my heels to the top of my thighs, ankle to hamstring. A problem with spasticity. To sit with my legs out in front of me is excruciating. I work at stretching them, an equally painful endeavor, but to no avail. I stretch this way and that, breathing through the pain as if I were in labor or something.

So any activity that involves using the muscles on the back of my legs (especially stretching them) is truly…excruciating. An activity such as bending over to put plants into pots is a good example.

Yesterday and today, every step is enough to make me grunt or draw my breath sharply. Sitting down (or rather flopping down because my muscles are not strong enough to bear my weight as I sit right now) is excruciating because of the impact of the seat against my hamstrings. I cannot really bend over or squat. And today is not much better than yesterday.

Ice. Heat. Pain relievers. Forcing myself to slowly stretch my legs against the pain. Not much help.

I hate this. I truly hate this. I hate that I really cannot plant my own plants because bending over for any length of time has such dire consequences for me.

And I hate how I feel because at least I am not dying. My legs will get better (relatively speaking). The pain will end. So many others know worse pain. Pain that does not end. Should I not be thankful I for that?

At least I had my reprieve, my respite, my distraction from the pain for a while. I can be thankful for the phone call.

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

You know what I don’t get? Fancy. She’s either the dumbest cockatiel or the bravest.

Since her mate died, I’ve been pressed into service as a flock member. Each morning as I get ready for work, she sits on my shoulder and preens. I find it a bit difficult putting on my make-up and fixing my hair with her there, but if I dare leave her in the cage in the mornings, she cries pitifully for me to come get her. By spending a half hour with me in the mornings, she is then content for me to go off to work.

Kashi, at best, tolerates her presence, lying in watch on a rug in the hall outside the bathroom.

When I arrive home, she squawks rather loudly and ceaselessly until I come get her out of the cage and let her on my shoulder. If I try to put her on top of the cage where she has things to play with and millet spray to eat, she leaps for my shoulder repeatedly until I give way and just leave her alone.

Of course I have to take Kashi out immediately since it has been nine hours since his last relief. Fancy joins us on his walk, most often happily perched on my head.

After eating, I then retire to either the couch or the green chair for the rest of the evening.

Now, when we’re outside, Fancy will raise her crest and start hissing at the merest hint of one of the many stray cats residing in the nearby woods and feasting on the trash dumpsters. I feel her tense up and hear her hiss and look around to see what she has spotted. Much of the time she will then try to hide in my hair or inside my collar. Having never been in contact with a cat, does she inherently know that felines are her enemy?

If she does, why doesn’t she view Kashi in the same way?

Often, when she’s on my shoulder or hanging out on my foot when I’m in lying down, Kashi will come bounding out of nowhere and protest her presence on my person. Quite aggressively. When he comes and barks at her, jumping up to put his paws on the green chair or sitting right next to me on the couch and putting his paws on me to reach her, Fancy will just walk down my arm or leg to get right up in his face and hiss at him. She has come in contact with him on several occasions and lost a few feathers in the exchanges (I, of course, scream loudly at Kashi and lose a few years off my lifespan). Yet she is not afraid of him. [I wish she were.] When he does this, I will frantically grab at her and put her back on my shoulder. Most times she will then try to walk back down to get in his face again. If she will not stay in a safety zone, I stick her back in her cage to sulk for a bit.

Why must my animal companions have such strong tempers?

I’m stuck living with an Alpha Dog and an Alpha Bird. What does that make me?