What animal would you love to have as a pet?
I’m pretty unoriginal here, as I’d have to go with cats and dogs. I’m currently living with my boyfriend’s two dogs and my cat, all of which I consider to be “our animals.” It’s been interesting, to say the least, merging our animals into the same household. The current set up involved a baby gate at the top of our stairs, so the cat has free range of the second floor while the dogs can roam the main floor. We have brought the dogs up a few times so they could all see one another – the canines are totally fine, well behaved, calm mannered, and really just interested in, “who the fuck is this furry thing living upstairs WHERE WE USED TO BE ALLOWED?!” It’s the cat that cops an attitude, hissing and growling when a dog gets too close to him. Thankfully no one has swiped at paw at anyone else, which was my biggest fear.
For about 98% of my life, I’ve always lived with animals. When I was born my parents had a cat, a white shorthair with the smudge of grey on her forehead, which they had gotten shortly after getting married seven years prior. She lasted until I was eleven years old, passing away at the old age of eighteen. The following Christmas my parents orchestrated the best Santa Clause gift EVER, in that of our beloved golden retriever, Casey. They arranged for our neighbors to set up the kennel by our decorated tree while our family was at my paternal grandfather’s house celebrating Christmas Eve. When we got home late that night my six-year old sister and I were greeting by a happy, squirmy puppy. Thinking about it now, I have no idea how my parents held it together – what a great thing to be able to witness, two little girls meeting a puppy they didn’t know they were getting, that was “brought by Santa.” Casey was such a blessing to our family, and brought us endless joy and laughs throughout the years. She was a rock of support to my Dad after my parents divorced, as they both continued to live in the house we had all shared together. When he met the woman that is now his wife, Casey took to her immediately and was a constant companion to them both in her final years. Thanks to my Dad’s compassionate care she almost made it to thirteen years old – she died peacefully in our family home and all five of us were able to be with her. I still think about her all the time, she was an incredible animal and I’m thankful I had her to grow up with.
After the divorce brought about a change in everyone’s living arrangements, we had some cats join the family. I inherited my high school sweetheart’s cat, Frisky, who lived with us for only a few years before having to be put down due to complications with diabetes. My sister adopted a black cat from the local humane society that she named Adrian, after the TV show Monk – Adrian was another incredible animal that everyone loved fiercely. One day I came up with a funny voice to make him talk that mimicked the Stuart character from Mad TV; everyone loved it so much I continued to do it up until his passing last December.
When I first moved out on my own in 2008 I lived in an animal-less apartment with a roommate. After that arrangement disintegrated before the lease was up, and I was left in a very, very deep valley of depression, I made it a priority to get myself another animal. I adopted a cat from the local humane society, a grey tiger striped shorthair that I named after one of my favorite poets. He was a total flop cat that just wanted to sleep and snuggle on you at any given time. A few months after I adopted him I began dating someone that was not only allergic to cats, but also very heavily asthmatic. We tried living together with the kitty for over a year, but eventually this person told me that they just couldn’t continue to do so any longer. As much as it pained me to make the decision, I ultimately decided that it was more important for me to work on my human relationship, instead of prioritizing my cat over it. I found my kitty a foster home that was initially supposed to be temporary, but it ended up being permanent as the years went by. The asthmatic and I eventually broke up and moved out of our shared apartment, and by then enough time had gone by that I didn’t have the heart to ask for my cat back, knowing that the foster parent had to have developed a bond with my cat. So I opted to adopt another humane society cat, the one that lives with me today, who we affectionately call Scotty Mo. He had been at the shelter for almost four months, which is one of the reasons I picked him over every other cat. It didn’t take him long to warm up to me and he has been a wonderful companion over the past year and a half. Hopefully one day he will be coexisting peacefully with my boyfriend’s two dogs on all floors of the home we all share.
Why did I go into such detail about the cats and dogs I’ve had? Probably because I’ve learned that, for me, animals are not only incredibly important in my life, they are VITAL. I know I’m not the only person that has had their dark moments comforted by the wag of a tail or a gentle lick on the face. Animals are such special creatures, and the bonds we form with the ones we bring into our homes are unlike anything we can experience in our human relationships. For me, the best part about coming home each day are the kisses I get from my guy and our fur babies.
What band/musician is most important to you?
The band that is most important to me is, hands down, the Beatles. The musician that is most important to me is Ani Difranco.
So many people love the Beatles and cite them as favorites, and rightfully so. My parents both loved the Beatles. The first songs I remember hearing were “Twist and Shout” and “Help!” I really wish I could think of more to say on this subject, because my love for this band runs very deep and has been constant throughout my life, but truthfully I’m falling short on my words. Perhaps it’s due to having been binge writing off and on for the whole day. Or maybe it’s just writers block. Just believe me when I say that the Beatles are important to me.
I was introduced to Ani Difranco when I was fifteen – a friend of my mother’s gave me her “Not A Pretty Girl” album for my birthday and I quickly became obsessed with it. Throughout my high school years I hoarded as much of her music as I could, mostly on burned CD’s before mp3’s took over and everything became digital. She continues to write and record music and put it all out into the world through her independent label, Righteous Babe Records. I’ve seen her perform live a handful of times, and through my work I was able to meet and shake her hand back in 2009, one of the best days of my life. Her music has healed me in more ways than I can say. I don’t have favorites of her songs, I have relationships with them – certain ones will always remind me of specific people, relationships, or moments in my life. I want “Swan Dive” played at my funeral. The human example she has set for me, for everyone, has helped me grow and increase my emotional strength over my lifetime. Putting on Ani Difranco’s music is like putting salve on a wound, it comforts me and brings me back to a feeling of being whole, being capable, and feeling so grateful for it all.