Monday, October 12, 2015

I visited Pet Mania, the pet store that I've been going to for over twenty years, where I adopted Atticus and Ronan, and it will be one of my last times in this location. The owners, faced with an enormous hike in rent, are having to close and find a new location. As of now, that new location is unknown. Their last day of sales is tomorrow and then they will be packing up.

It's another loss that I've faced in the last three months after losing my full-time job at the closure of my company. This one has hit me hard. So many memories in that location, and the good that the current owners brought to that little corner near my apartment resonated far beyond it. They welcomed me in and became a part of my life, and, let me become a part of theirs. Even once, asking me to drive their two teenage daughters to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert. I felt like such a mom, and was touched that they considered me to be trustworthy enough for such a task.

I was thrilled that such caring, selfless, conscientious people had taken over the store from an owner who maybe had good intentions at one time, but had let it fall into filth, hired an unfriendly staff or kept ones that should have been fired long ago, and the rescue animals weren't as cared for as they could have been. The new owners had their work cut out for them and were up against the damaged reputation that the previous owner had left in her wake.

But, they were up for the challenge. They resuscitated that place, spit shined it and made it the gem that it is today. They told the surly employees to shape up or they shipped them out, but even that was done with compassion and care, and, they raised the quality of care for their animals to where it should have been. They have rescued thousands of animals, and more than a few human souls that either needed a place to visit each day where they'd get a friendly smile, or to enrich their lives with an animal companion in need of a home.

It's a huge loss for that corner, and all because of greed of a landlord who could care less what goes in there, and whether it enhances the community or not. They just care that their hiked rent is paid every month. I know that prices rise for landlords too, and that they are in their business to make money like any business. But this is just pure greed.

Pet Mania opened a Go Fund Me to help cover costs of the move, and if anyone deserves a helping hand, these folks do. The amount they are asking for pales in comparison to the positive things they brought, and once in their new location, will continue to bring to the lives of countless people and animals. They want to continue and expand on their rescue operation, and this will help them do it. If you love animals and the people who help them, think of giving them a leg up with a donation.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Oliver Update: More great news! First, thanks to you wonderful people, Oliver's fundraising goal has been met! In just under 20 days, the $1440 needed was raised and I can't thank you enough. Actually, about 80% of it was raised in just a few days. I started the drive on Facebook, then mentioned it on here. In events like this, I'm always so touched by the good and generous nature of people. This includes those who were willing to stop for a second and wish Oliver a speedy recovery or include him in your prayers. Thank you. It matters, as it is a defiant statement to all of the negative things we hear about the human race on a daily basis. My birthday is in half an hour. I can't imagine a better present. 

Before the company I worked for folded, and other times when I can, I stand among you and contribute in making that defiant statement through my own gifts. There's nothing better, and I hope by knowing you helped make one bad situation better, and contributed to healing so much more than a cat, you understand how big of a deal that is. 

For those of you that wonder what I'm talking about, here is the post about Oliver's ordeal

Exhibit One
Now, onto his progress. The big lug of love continues to improve. He's able to jump up on my bed, so he's back to sleeping on my head. See exhibit one at right: This includes placing a big paw on my cheek to position me to what suits HIM best.  
And, he can climb into the tub, which is great because he has a triple coat and it's been hot and humid, even with the AC on. He still has a little difficulty with that, but he's working it out. and is taking his medicine like a champ

He's also getting around much better, without the stumbles. He opened up a nice can of whoop ass on Ronan when the latter started a wrestling match. He still has a wobble in his gait but it doesn't hinder him nearly as much as it did a week ago. He may be my big cowardly lion, but damn, he's a fighter when it counts. He has a strength and stoicism that surfaces from underneath that goofy, cowardly exterior. 

Oh, and the big guy wanted me to send you a message--that you all rock.

It's now six minutes until my birthday. Signing off.

Monday, July 13, 2015

UPDATE 2: July 15, 2015

Great news! Oliver just got back from the vet, who said that he will probably keep improving with meds and care. She also prescribed a bi-weekly shot of Adequan which will help any damaged joints. As a result of this awesome news, I've once again, lowered the goal. The odd amount is because a donor gave me $60 in person, so I am subtracting that from the total on his GoFundMe Campaign. This puts me almost at goal!

Thank you all so much for your generous donations. To have raised so much in so little time, I'm just beyond. You have helped this wonderful cat, who so many have grown to know and love through my blog, Flickr, and Facebook, get back on the road to being his old self.

Case in point, I came back to see Oliver in front of a fan, looking just marvelous with movie style wind effects blowing his mane. Oliver always knows how to position himself to achieve maximum fabulousness.

Thank you all!


UPDATE 1: July 14, 2015

Oliver has shown improvement! I've kept him quarantined in the bathroom, per the vet's instructions so that he doesn't try to climb anything and rests. I had some window shutters in the house, which enable me to keep the door open while still making sure he doesn't get out or Ronan (my other cat) gets in. Yet, he's not shut in a tiny room and cut off from us.

He's still wobbly and weak in his hind quarters, but is able to use his back legs much more effectively. I'm really hoping that this means it was an injury that will continue to improve. Because of this, I've lowered the campaign goal to reflect the anticipated costs of emergency vet bills. He's going to my vet tomorrow, so I will post another update once we get back. To all of you, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for helping this dear, sweet soul get better.


Start. Abandon, don't post. Start. Abandon, don't post. Look at all unfinished, unposted items in blog queue. Feel guilt.

Those posts will get posted, including my post about my novel class that I'm taking, going to Atlanta for my nephew's graduation, running into Jamie Hector, Marlo from "The Wire," and talking old "Wire" times at my local Starbucks, switching coffee shops to go local and rediscovering the love of writing in a coffee shop, the fast year that has passed since I lost Atticus, the recent fall of the wonderful startup that I left Disney for, but, how I wouldn't change a thing and am so much richer for the experience, and so much more. But first, this:

On Friday night, July 10, 2015 my beautiful, sweet Maine Coon cat Oliver demonstrated some alarming symptoms. His back legs were slack and he wasn't able to stand. I took him to the emergency vet, and $1300 later, I learned two things; it isn't a blood clot, and it isn't a spinal injury. They recommended that he see a neurologist, as it might have something to do with his spinal cord, as well as an MRI. The MRI and possible surgery will put his medical costs into the thousands.

Here's the kicker. The company that I worked for ceased operations the week before, leaving me currently unemployed. Yeah. That, I was always prepared for as it's the nature of startups. This? Um, no. Were I employed, I could manage, but with that being uncertain, it's just too much to take on, and Oliver's care shouldn't be compromised because of my employment status. So, while I hated to do it, I opened a GoFundMe campaign for him so that I can make sure he gets the best care possible.

I ask for your help once again. The link to the campaign is here.

Even if you just share and spread the word, it helps. I will keep everyone updated on his progress on this blog.

I want to do all I can for this sweet, sentient being who has already been through so much. I rescued him from a hoarder in 2008. Because of his owner's negligence, he required surgery, and I maxed out every credit card to save him. Way before "Go Fund Me," or other online campaigns, I asked the Web for help and put up a paypal button, and the Web, (mostly my wonderful friends and you awesome blog readers) came to his aid. That inspiring story is here.

I told Oliver, "I've got you, as long as you're willing." And so far, he's willing. Being a champ, in fact. I don't know his prognosis, and can't promise a happy ending. But what I can promise, is to do everything that I can to try to get one.

Thank you so much.

With sincere gratitude,
Anne and Oliver

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Happy 2015.

I went to Baltimore for Christmas, spending an entire week there. This trip ended up being an "eventful" one, which I will get into later.

Update on my jewelry. I took a hiatus from making it because the thrill wore off a bit. Also because the pieces are labor intensive and take a lot of steps to make when working in such a small "canvas." Plus, I had my success in it. I may make some more pieces, but it will be only when I feel like it. I'm also looking for a simpler solution for the jewelry hardware instead of doing everything by hand. Mostly things like finding good quality chains that are already assembled. I did do a commissioned art piece though, which was really satisfying. The person liked my heart piece, so I made him his own to give to his wife for their anniversary. I asked him for songs that he and his wife liked, and incorporated the "look" of those songs into the textures, along with representations of what their voices looked like. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I explain all about my synesthesia here and show a pic of the original heart piece. The wife loved the piece. :)

On my way to Baltimore, a woman I know was on my flight. I'd first seen her in the gate area at Burbank Airport, but it was her adorable French bulldog that I recognized first! Two awesome brothers from Atlanta live in my building, both hilarious and smart, and it's them that we know in common. She's also from Georgia, and had known the brothers before coming to Los Angeles to pursue acting. I'd met her in the building, but just in fleeting conversations. I "reintroduced" myself at the gate, and as luck would have it, we sat across from each other on the aisle seats. We had a nice conversation from Burbank to Phoenix. It was nice to get to know her out of the building context and I loved having Leyla the dog next to me. I took a picture of her and the dog, and upon landing in Phoenix, sent the brothers the photo of our "sky high" executive meeting, and said we'd just bought their app, Sweetspot. They loved it and were beside themselves in their texts back.  Hannah, the woman has had some success with her acting. She's had movie roles and series appearances, and if you're a True Blood fan, you saw her as one of the faeries (daughters of Sheriff Bellefleur) on the show that met an unfortunate end when Jessica the vampire couldn't control her appetite. She now has a recurring role on The Fosters. You can see the rest of her credits here.

Now, about that eventful Baltimore trip. It started out just perfectly, with a Winter Solstice party at a neighbor's house. Lovely people, lovely house, excellent food and wine, and a fantastically hilarious moment when I was in the kitchen with a bunch of women, and one of the teenage boys, maybe thirteen or fourteen, was getting soup from a huge pot. We were discussing the c-word and one of them had just loudly said, "vagina." He turned around, eyes wide, clutching his soup to his chest, perfect "OMG" look on his face. We cracked up, and he, expression not changing, turned and walked away. It was priceless, and the first of two expressions I saw that made the whole trip worth traveling at Christmas, aside from seeing family of course! There were lots of laughs, talking, and the next door neighbor's smart, articulate, artistic pink-haired 14-year-old daughter, whom I've known since her mom was pregnant with her, led the ceremony. We dimmed the lights, stood in a circle around the table and she read a short, old poem about Winter Solstice, then lit a candle. She stated what she was thankful for, and then lit the candle of the person beside her, who then stated what they were thankful for. And so on. It was an extremely pleasant, cathartic experience.

As for the not so pleasant experience, my mom and I were in Towson doing some last minute Christmas errands. I had to get something framed for my stepdad at Michael's, and since they were also part of the complex, we stopped in Marshall's, then Target. We were halfway in the crosswalk outside Target when a minivan sped toward a bunch of us. I waved at him to pay attention, but instead of stopping, he sped up and clipped my shoulder with his mirror. I reacted by banging on his car, flat handed. Well, it was then he slammed on his brakes. Not to apologize, but to get in my face about touching his car. You can't make this shit up.

He barreled toward me, and was two and a half times my weight and a good head taller than me. He had on a velour track suit and a low tank top underneath the half zipped up jacket. His sparse, flat curly chest hairs were at my eye level. He yelled, "Don't fuckin' touch my car." If he expected a shrinking violet, he was mistaken. I didn't budge, and yelled at him for blowing through a crosswalk, hitting me with his car and almost killing people. Enter, the trashy girlfriend. Short, fat, a bad home bleach job and rough. She flings the door open, gets out of the passenger seat, rips off her jacket in dramatic fashion and prances around us like a fat peacock, itching for a fight. She shoves me, but I didn't have the give I think she was hoping for, nor the reaction. I gave her a disdainful look and went back to standing up to her behemoth of a moron boyfriend. The man says "I oughta fuck you up," and I said, "Yeah, right." He then balled his fists and paced back and forth. This was not going how he wanted it to. The girlfriend then tried, putting her finger on my forehead, which earned her another disdainful look, then I again ignored her. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but I'd unconsciously put my feet and hips in a position to deliver a hip-torque-fueled snap kick underneath her chin in case she tried to hit me. I was also summing up her strength, which she gave me a chance to do when she put her hands on me. Weird how training comes back, but that's the difference. It's training, and only for defense. I only realized that after the fact that I was doing that.

A man stepped in between us and pleaded with the guy, pleading with him that it was the holidays and to remember that. The behemoth starts in on him, "Who the fuck are YOU?" The girlfriend then tries her trump card and spits on me. Bad aim. Most of it hit my jacket and some got in my hair. But boy, her spit stank like she'd been licking the bottom of a garbage bin outside a fertilizer factory. I turned to her and looked at her like one would a puppy that just peed on the floor and said, "Really?" At that point, the crowd came out of their stupor and the two thought it best to get out of there. I felt a gentle hand on my back, and turned to see a very pretty young woman from Target who asked me if I was okay. The couple passed us in their car, and the girlfriend threw a plastic bottle at me, hitting both of us. I rolled my eyes.

Here's the weird thing. I was fine. During the whole exchange I was calm, not scared and not angry, just not going to back down to a bully. This same calmness has hit me before in potentially dangerous situations, once again in Baltimore when I was maced in the face by two would-be robbers. After the Target incident, I wasn't rattled either, because whatever their malfunction was, it had nothing to do with me. It was just my turn to deal with assholes that day. My main concern was being the barrier between them and my mom, who has had knee trouble lately, so running wasn't an option.

Also, I think I have an insight from working on "The Wire" and meeting real life killers and gangsters. Though I'm no expert, not even close, that day I could sense the difference between a killer thugs and just dumb thugs. Had they been gangsters or a pack of wild teens, my instincts would have kicked in another way and I would have led my mom back into Target. While we were still out there, some bystanders gave me the license plate and a guy from Target loss prevention came up to me and said gleefully, "I got the whole thing on video." He'd already called the police, and I thought that I better as well. I spoke to the dispatcher, describing them, giving them the license plate and what had happened. We waited in the Target Starbucks for about ten minutes until the police came up, two young officers, a very pretty female and cute male. There was a funny moment when an old man who was taking a rest with his wife was chatting me up in that way that old men do, asking how my holidays were going, and making small talk. I answered as if nothing had just happened and offered a friendly smile. When the poh-lice showed up, his face was priceless.

They took our report, asked me if I wanted to press charges and I said that yes, I did. If it was my turn to deal with assholes, it was also their turn to deal with me. The police told us that the license plate did come back to someone, and that they were going to talk to the Target loss prevention guy and see if the video showed anything, and if so, they'd get a copy from him and then get in touch with us. I thought that was the last that I'd hear of it and continued to enjoy my vacation.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve, when the female officer called my mom and told her that she had made contact with the couple, and that they had made her so angry that she came in early for her shift to work on the case. This brings us to lesson number one: Don't piss off the cop who is investigating you.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when those two losers got that call. I can guarantee they aren't the types who want to be noticed by the legal system. Merry Christmas. During the phone call, the guy admitted to being at Target, but wouldn't elaborate. The officer was able to get the trashy girlfriend on the phone, and she was belligerent, giving the officer a false name (that's a crime). Like they had me, they underestimated the officer, not surprisingly, because these were not Mensa members. She told us she thought she knew who the female was and asked if we could come in and look at photos. You bet we could.

This brings me to the second expression I encountered that made it worth traveling at Christmas. It came from the female cop when I correctly identified the female from a stack of photos. Imagine a very satisfied cat after it just nabbed a particularly juicy mouse. I put my finger on the photo, and I looked up to see her beaming with a "gotcha" look on her face. I can't even begin to describe the epic awesomeness of her expression. She wanted her...badly. And at my identification, she had her. Which brings us to lesson number two: Don't fuck with writers or artists. Especially don't fuck with one who is both. We've got these great memories and are sticklers for detail.

The officer then showed me the scroll of charges she was bringing against both of them. She hadn't checked to see if they had prior records because I hadn't positively identified them yet. Oh, and about that video. Apparently it showed something. A lot. She told us that was shocked that no one was killed the way he plowed through the crosswalk, because there were people who were in front of my mom and me, and she has no idea how they weren't run down. When I told her that the guy sped up, she nodded. Lastly, this happened in Baltimore County and not Baltimore City. Those familiar with the area will know the difference and the significance of that. In short, they're fucked and going to be out thousands of dollars each, if not a little jail time/probation or community service. My guess is that this isn't their first run-in with the law, and the guy probably owes back child support and a few dodged parking or traffic tickets at least. These two are not model citizens or expert life pilots. I learned that girlfriend is 25, and that he was a lot older, maybe mid, late 30s, even early 40s. Why do I have a feeling that there's an ex-wife/girlfriend who is going to be thrilled at this news?

I made sure to tell the officer that even though I'm in California, I can make it to court if needed. One thing about me, I seek justice. People like this, who seek victims for the fun of it, and are reckless and dangerous don't learn or change, so what society has to do is limit them in the form of prosecution, fines and charges, and if the crime is serious enough, prison. It might not be permanent, but for the time those restrictions are in place, it limits their contact with society...people who just want to live their lives without being victimized. I'd told the female cop that I really appreciated her attention and work on a case that I said, "Wasn't the same as a triple homicide." "Not yet," she said. And she's right. Anyone who speeds up toward a crosswalk with people in it needs to be addressed and on the radar of the law. Left unchecked, it changes from "Not yet," to a tragedy.

Also, when I decide justice is needed, I see it through. Just ask my ex neighbors, once again, in Baltimore. I don't think it will come to that, as with the video, ID and witnesses, they probably won't risk a jury trial and will plead out. But if they roll the dice because I'm in California, they'll get snake eyes. Which brings me to lesson number three. Don't fuck with people who have flight attendants in the family and can jump on a plane at a moment's notice, courtesy of a buddy pass.