Happy Birthday To Me!

The month of October is super exciting for me for many reasons.  I am going to see Green Day on the 23rd, my cat won a photo contest and gets to have a photo session on the 16th, it is the 10th birthday of my company that I love, it is my 40th birthday (on the 10th) and I got to go to the zoo and get a behind the scenes tour and that is what this blog is about.

At the buttcrack of dawn on Sunday, my dad and I drove to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  My mom and brother and sister in law bought a tour for us that started at 9:30am.  We thought the parking lot would be empty, because the zoo doesn’t open till noon, but there was a Breast Cancer event there, so, as my dad put it, there were “tens of millions of cars”.  We parked “at least 20 miles away”.  I caught a ton of Pokemon because there are a lot of Pokestops at the zoo and lots of Pokemon.

We went to the building and had to fill out forms saying it was ok if we were mauled and killed by animals, and that we would not sue the zoo.  Then it asked us essay questions, which my dad refused to answer, and I wrote a lot of answers to.  One of the questions was about things humans do to endanger wildlife – I had a field day with that one.

Our tour guide came and got us and we were the only two people so that was pretty awesome.  We started out by meeting Crikey, the wallaby.  His mom died when he was a baby, so he was raised by the zoo people and he is an ambassador.  We fed him and we were allowed to pet him and he hopped and it was really cute.

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We also met a raven named Kilimanjaro.  We were not allowed to pet him, but he was very smart and could do a lot of tricks.

We went through the building to get to the golf cart thingy, and in the building we saw giant frogs and a turtle and a smaller frog.

THEN WE SAW GRIZZLY BEARS!  I am not allowed to post the pictures I took because see, the way it works is this:  they have a ginormous, really nice habitat area, but they also have a background area where they get vet care and things like that.  And basically it’s a place they can chill if they do not want to go out in the big enclosure.  But this area has bars, and they do not want you to take pictures of animals behind bars because it looks cruel, even though they are not actually in a cage.  It looks like they are, and you know, internet people can do bad things with pictures.  Anyway, the bears can sit, stand, shake – all kinds of things!  But only if they want to.  If they do not feel like it, that is fine.  If they feel like doing it, they get extra treats.  They are not forced to do anything.  They were over 500 pounds each and like, 8 feet tall.  We had to stand behind a railing but we were about three feet away from them!

Then we went to see Tom and Terry the tortoises and they are both 100 freaking years old!  Terry was not social, but Tom was.  I got to pet his arm and I think he liked it because he closed his eyes when I did.  Here is a picture of Terry with his head pulled into his shell, Tom with his head sticking out of his shell, and me and my dad with Tom. Terry used to be Mary but then they found out he is a boy and not a girl, and they got made fun of on Saturday Night Live.

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Then….WE WENT TO THE KOALA ENCLOSURE.  Omg.  First, do not get excited, they did not let me pet them.  BUT…three of them were backstage and one was out in the exhibit and I got some good pictures!  And we went out into the exhibit!  Like, people were looking at us on display!  The koala that was out there was asleep in a tree and I could not see him even though I was so close to him.  Here is what it looks like to be on exhibit at the zoo.

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THEN – guess what?!  My friend Jen asked her friend who isan RVT at the zoo if he could let me meet an owl AND HE DID!  I got to see a Great Barred Owl in his house and he blinked a lot and it was very cute.  Then they took the Barn Owl (a smaller owl) out and I got to get SUPER close to her AND THEY LET HER FLY!  She flew from one person to the other, about ten feet apart.  Kevin, the RVT, was very nice and also he likes Harry Potter, so he is extra cool.

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The night before I took my nieces and their friend (ages 13, 10 and 10) to a thing about nocturnal animals and we saw these owls.

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I also saw (and pet) these dogs:

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Then we went on a hike with a naturalist and it consisted of about 5 kids and 5 adults, and the naturalist lady was teaching stuff and asking questions and she said “Have humans adapted to live at night?” and the entire group said “no” at the same time that I SHOUTED enthusiastically “YES”.  They laughed because they thought I made a joke, but I had to ask my niece “What is she talking about?  I do plenty of stuff at night.  We drive at night, some people work at night…I don’t get it” and the 13 year old had to explain that the lady meant are we nocturnal and can we naturally see in the dark.  So that was special.

I caught a lot of Pokemon there, too.

I Understand Black Lives Matter.

Up until a few nights ago, I understood Black Lives Matter.  Logically I understood that it is entirely different for a black person to be pulled over by the police, to wear a hoodie, to walk in the wrong place.

But the other night I did something so insanely stupid that I really, REALLY understand it now.  Had I been a black person and done this, I have no doubt the outcome would have been very different.

I live in a neighborhood that is pretty close knit.  When something happens, everyone goes into Neighborhood Watch mode.  The other night a guy in a grey hoodie was spotted trying to get into someone’s back door, so there were patrols of citizens and police driving around the neighborhood.  I was, too, but not for that reason.  I was on my way home from work and as I always do, I was collecting Pokemon.

So there I am, driving 5 miles an hour (suspicious), stopping every few feet (suspicious) and generally looking like a creeper driving through the neighborhood.  I was wearing my Hamilton hoodie, which is grey.  A car driving in the other direction slowed down when he saw me and shined a flashlight in my car.  I stopped, because, who does that??  This is where it gets important.

He introduced himself as a police officer and asked what I was doing.  I reached to my passenger seat, grabbed my phone and proudly SHOVED it out my window towards him.  I thought nothing of it.  Putting my hands on the steering wheel?  Putting my hands up?  Not reaching for something on the other seat?  Not SHOVING something in a fast motion out my window TOWARDS the police officer?  None of the occurred to me.  And the officer didn’t bat an eye when I did it.  Despite the fact that every single thing I was doing was suspicious as hell, and easily perceived as aggressive, neither he nor I were scared. It never occurred to me to be scared or careful because why would I?  I’m white.

If I were black…first, driving slow would have gotten me pulled over.  Neighbors would have been calling the police regardless of whether or not someone had actually tried to break into a house.  A black person driving slow through the neighborhood is cause enough for concern.  Stopping every few feet?  If I were black, people would probably have come out of their houses to ask what I was doing.  Being window to window with a police officer and reaching to the passenger seat.  If I were black, that would have been an extremely aggressive move.  Taking the thing in the passenger seat and shoving it towards the officer – I would have been tazed, shot, taken down, handcuffed, killed, beaten – and it would have been “my fault” for not having the sense to NOT show the officer my phone, to NOT reach to my passenger seat, and to NOT have the mentality that anything I do could be perceived as a threat.

But I’m white.  So I did all that and we laughed and the officer told me if I see anyone with a grey hoodie, to call 911.  He wished me good luck in finding Pokemon.

I was so unafraid that it did not even occur to me to be afraid.  I have never had to think about how my actions could have been perceived.  I came home and told my parents the funny story about my interaction.  It wasn’t until later that I realized how very, very privileged I am just because I’m white.  White people don’t think this is an issue because it is not their issue.  We don’t have to put our hands up automatically or lie face down on the ground to show that we are sorry we jaywalked or sat outside on a porch.

Even if we do stupid shit, which we do all the time, white people rarely get killed for it.  We go on shooting rampages through schools and malls, we have militia take overs of government buildings, we are serial killers WAY more often than people of color, but still, we are safe and unafraid.

A friend posted in defense of something that happened on a Boston subway thing.  Long story short, a woman posted about a group of black kids who were acting like rowdy kids, and the train got stopped and the police got called and the kids all thought they were going to be killed by the police . My friend’s reaction was “They shouldn’t have been doing that, subway drivers can’t be distracted.”  Not the point.  Kids are all obnoxious and disruptive, the difference is that white kids can do that and get a pat on the back and a “kids will be kids”, and black kids do the same things and fear they are going to be shot.  Black kids act up on a train and the police are called, white boys rape girls all the time and don’t go to jail so they don’t ruin their potential.  White people are awful.  We watch videos of police body cams where the cop doesn’t shoot a black person, and the black person thanks them for it and we feel all squishy and touched, like “what a nice black person and what an understanding officer”.

I do not hate cops.  I do not think that most cops are violent.  I do think most cops try to solve things without shooting people. I am so grateful for police and firemen and women, and military people, because they protect me from the things I am scared of. But the fact is, when people get shot, it’s not white people.  When protection happens, it’s white people who feel that, not black people.

So those are my thoughts. I am thankful I do not have to live in fear of being spazzy in front of a police officer and thrusting something at him, because I can do that and it’s ok because I’m white.  But that really does not make me feel any better about the state of the world.

Happier post with birthday stories and pictures of koalas coming soon.

Also, feel free to Ask the Darcy.

 

I Was On A Boat.

 

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Jenna Mahan attempted to anonymously ask via the Ask the Darcy link if I would go kayaking and write a blog about it.  I chatted her via our internal work chat thingy and said “Did you tell me to go kayaking?” and she said “No, but I’ll go with you.”  About five minutes later I saw her in person and she could no longer uphold her lie and she admitted it was her.

Here is why I am scared of kayaking – there are things in bodies of water that might touch me, go into an orifice, stick to me, or bite me.  I am NOT afraid of drowning because I can swim and also I am incredibly buoyant.  You cannot sink me.  I could be used as a flotation device for others.

Jenna has two kayaks, and then our friends Diana and Cliff also have two kayaks, so we all went together.  We met at a park where they transport your boat devices SIX AND A HALF MILES up the Cuyahoga River, and then you kayak back down to where your car is. 6.5 miles.  Weak noodle arms.  I honestly thought I would end up sitting in the middle of the river and someone would have to tow my ass back.  But more importantly, I thought I was going to sink the kayak.  Kayaks have weight limits.  I exceed the weight limit (I think) for Jenna’s kayak.  The potential humiliation for sinking a kayak was second only to my fear of things in the water.

I tried to wear a life jacket but it just got in the way, so I depended on my natural buoyancy and said to hell with safety.  Here is a picture of Jenna and me with my life jacket on.

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We had to walk down a hill to get to the water, and the hill smelled like poop.  I got into the kayak and they set me adrift and guess what?  I did not sink the kayak!  In fact, I am sort of a natural kayaker!  I was awesome!  I paddled and I steered and I avoided obstacles and I am pretty sure video games prepared me for this.

My weak noodle arms did not give out the entire time!  I went over small waves and the water came into my boat and I sat in a puddle of river water.  I had mild panic that something would migrate some place it aught not to and that I would get some sort of brain eating amoeba, but it is now a week later, and my brain is still in tact.

Here are Cliff, Diana and Jenna before we were in the water.

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Here is a lovely view from the 6.5 mile journey.

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See?  It is nature.  Like, trees and shit.

I could not take other pictures because phone + river = bad.  I did manage to Facebook live some of it by holding my phone in my mouth while I paddled, and while the view is lovely, all you can hear is me breathing REALLY loudly.

We stopped to eat lunch (I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) and some people, I will not mention any names, peed in the wilderness.  This is something I would never do, no matter how much I had to pee.  I do not even walk in grass, let alone bare my ass to it.

It seems this has become the “Poor Me, I Have Dia-bee-tus” blog, because now I am going to talk about the terror of 6.5 miles of exercise for a sedentary person and what that does to blood sugar.  I had six 20 ounce bottles of Coke, my glucometer, my glucagon kit (a syringe that someone can stab me with if I am unconscious) and a huge zip lock bag of candy all stuffed at my feet in the kayak.  Exercise makes blood sugar go low, so I wanted to keep it on the higher side so that it could go lower without killing me, right?  But also high blood sugar makes a person feel like crap, and I wanted to be able to not feel like crap.  In the end, I did not die, but damn, it is a pain in the ass to have to think of all that stuff!

My natural kayaking ability was fantastic but it turns out I do not have natural Getting Out Of The Kayak ability.  We came to our parking spot, or whatever it is called when you make your kayak get stuck on a cement thing so you can get out of it.  I got my kayak stuck like I was supposed to, but I could not get out.  I managed to move my legs so they were dangling over the side, and I was basically a beached whale at that point.  Except I wasn’t beached, I was kayaked.  Jenna tried her darndest to get me out of that thing, but when it came down to it, I had to roll out of it in a really, really ungraceful way that left me on my knees up to my waist in water.  Also I was wearing my uniform of jeans and tennis shoes, so after kneeling in the water, I gained 75 pounds of water weight and could barely move.

I could not move my arms for three days, but other than that, I was uninjured!  And….I really liked it!!!  I would NEVER do it in the summer, I have very specific weather conditions that I require.  In the summer there are more bugs and if one came near me while I was stuck in a kayak, that would not end well.

I also have a new Ask the Darcy assignment.

Darcy, will you help me butcher out a deer I killed on Saturday. I think it would make for very good content!

Bring it, bitch.  You give me some sharp instruments and let me near a person who killed a deer, we’ll see how that goes for you.  Complete and utter spazz mode, in which I have been known to hit and/or bite people (and myself) without knowing it, flapping, rocking, and basic lack of control of my limbs…add to that a sharp knife in my hand, and we can have some fun.

But also, I think this is from Jenna, too, and she does not kill deers.  Her eyes lit up a little too brightly when I said that I would do whatever was suggested via the Ask the Darcy button.  What Jenna does not realize is that I will be making her my guide on all of these 😉

Hey Look, A Short Post.

I just really wanted to make sure everyone watched this video, and to say that someone suggested, via the Ask the Darcy link, that I go kayaking and write a blog about it. This made me decide that whatever people suggest via that button, I will do.  I am scared of water – there are things in it that could attach themselves to me, or touch me.  I am not scared of WATER – I am scared of things IN the water.  Also, I have myself convinced that I will sink a kayak.  Also, if I successful get in the kayak and “launch” myself into the water, I fear my weak noodle arms will cause me to get stuck in the middle of the river/lake/ocean/whatever, and they will have to find a kayak towing service while I sit there and cry.  This Sunday I am going kayaking, weather permitting.  Oh, I am also scared I will be floating in a kayak and get struck by lightning.

But anyway, the Ask the Darcy button is located at the top of the home page, and you can suggest blog ideas, ask questions, tell me to do something and then write a blog about it (and apparently I’ve committed to actually doing it), send me your favorite color, a phrase you particularly like – anything – and I will write a blog about it.  So have at it.

And here is the video I want to make sure you have watched.

 

I Took My Dad On A Field Trip.

First, I would like to announce the return of the Ask The Darcy button. You can ask questions, suggest blog topics, ask me to go somewhere and do something and write a blog about it – you can send me a word, a color, a shape – you can send opinions or happy thoughts or whatever you want, and I will write a blog from it.  It is anonymous unless you specifically write your name.

Second, I took my dad Pokemoning.  I also took him out to dinner.

I tried to explain the Pokemon, and I think he is getting the hang of it.  We took over a gym, and we caught some guys, and evolved one.  He is having a hard time grasping the concept that they are only in the phone, they don’t like, hang out by a tree at the park and that’s how you find them.  I mean, he knows they aren’t there in real life, but he thinks that every time you pass that spot, that particular Pokemon will be right there.

We saw geese and ducks and dogs and we pet many of the dogs.

We also took this lovely picture.

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I demanded Starbucks after dinner, because I am an addict, and my dad refused to try my Pumpkin Spice Latte.  He isn’t aware of what a “basic bitch” is, but I think he sensed it would do something to his masculinity if he even tried it.  It was lovely and I enjoyed it very much.

At dinner the server asked me if she could see my tattoo (the Green Day one) and I pulled my shirt down and showed her.  She did not get the Green Day reference, but she thought it was really neat anyway.  Then when I went to pay, she asked if I am a Gryffindor, and without hesitation, I said “No, Hufflepuff” and she said “Oh, I’m Ravenclaw” and took my credit card.  My dad had zero idea what language we were speaking, and I could not figure out what made her ask, but then duh, I have a Gryffindor wallet that was sitting on the table.  When she came back, I told her they only had Gryffindor and Slytherin wallets, so I went with second best to Hufflepuff.  She shared my lament that there are not enough Hufflepuff things, because she has trouble finding Ravenclaw.  I gave her a huge tip.  Like, actually in retrospect, I gave her a 50% tip.

Right now I want lemonade very badly.

Have a lovely day.