Monday, 3 April 2017

Birds Like Friends Too

After writing a post about the friendship that my dog and rabbit share, I thought about the friendship between my family's two birds: a budgie name Nasa and a cockatiel named Sundo. Nasa is around 8 years old and Sundo is around 14 years old but we only got Sundo recently. Nasa used to be all alone and she was kind of crazy. She was scared of hands and she also freaked out if she got out of the cage so you can imagine how hard it would be to take her out. If she was out of her cage, she would fly all over the place and crash into walls. We were afraid that she would kill herself but it was so sad that she was stuck in her cage all the time. She didn't play a whole lot with toys and just sat there every day. There wasn't any excitement in her life, except for when we would go up to the cage or put our hand in the cage to change her food and she would shy away from us.

When one of my Aunts was visiting, she brought along all of her dogs and Sundo since she didn't really have someone back home that could look after them during that time. During my Aunt's stay, my Mom suggested leaving Sundo here so that there'd not only be less for my Aunt to take back home, but both Nasa and Sundo would have a friend in each other. It would be nice since both of them are older and are both alone. Plus, Sundo always had other birds, specifically budgies, with her in the past but she was the only bird that my Aunt currently had left. We experimented having them together without putting them in the same cage. We simply sat both cages beside each other to see how the birds would react. They really seemed to like each other, going as close as possible to each other as two separate cages would allow, so we put both of them in a nice big bird cage that we had stored away in a shed. We transferred all of their toys, perches, mineral blocks, food and water dishes, and individual foods into the new cage and waited to see how it would go.

It turned out that this was the best thing that we could have ever done for Nasa! She became a completely new bird. It was amazing how much she changed. Nasa and Sundo became good friends. They would groom themselves at the same time, sleep at the same time, and they were willing to go close to each other. Nasa tried new things that she never would have done before. She played more with toys, chewed on mineral blocks, and tried new foods. I guess she observed Sundo doing all of these things and decided to copy her. Sundo was already tame and used to doing all sorts of things so it really encouraged Nasa to be the same way.

Nasa even started taming down. She wasn't as afraid of hands anymore. Eventually, we could take her out of the cage. Sundo was already really good for taking out of the cage so it was nice to be able to take Nasa out as well. She still flies around a bit but she isn't as spooked as she would have been before and she's better at staying in one place now. She likes to fly over to our rabbit's cage and sit on top. I guess she just likes the feeling of the bars of the cage because it reminds her of her own cage. She is improving so much at taming down that I even saw her jump and sit on top of Sundo's back once while they were both out. It was so funny!

When it comes to birds that we have in the future, I definitely think that my family should have two birds and not just one all by itself. It really makes a difference in the life of a bird. Nasa went from being crazy to being much more tame in almost half a year! So, not only does having two birds give each one a friend, but they learn from each other as well. Nasa is pretty old and we don't know how much longer she will live so I am glad that she has a friend for the last part of her life and I'm glad that Sundo has a friend like she used to always have.


Friday, 31 March 2017

Lessons From Books: January-March 2017

Since I started posting in January about books that I read, I have noticed that there are some really good lessons to be learned from them whether they are novels, comic books, scripts, or screenplays. I wanted to have all of these lessons in one place so I thought that I would make separate blog posts to write down these lessons without my other thoughts and all of the other information about the books. If you want to read the full posts that I wrote about each book, I have included the links but here in this post you will find one sentence answers to the lessons that I saw in all of this reading that I've done. I thought about doing this at the end of the year with all of the books that I posted about in that year but decided that it would be better to do this every three months because, otherwise, this post would be way too long since each one sentence lesson is accompanied by a photo of the book. Also, I read a lot. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Angel Catbird Vol. 1 (Margaret Atwood, Johhnie Christmas, and Tamra Bonvillain):

It is safer for both cats and wild birds if cats are kept indoors.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Book, Screenplay, and Film (J.K. Rowling):

Kindness, love, and acceptance are much better ways to deal with challenges.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two (J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne):

You are your own person and you don't have to live up to anyone else or compare yourself to other people.

Lumberjanes Vol. 1-5 (Boom! Studios):

With friends by your side, you can conquer anything and discover who you truly are.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 5: Super Famous (Marvel Comics):

Find balance in life and prioritize the things that are most important to you.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II (Marvel Comics):

Think before you act.

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror (Chris Priestley):

Be a good person and do good things or else there are consequences (KARMA!).


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Angel Catbird Vol. 1 (Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas, and Tamra Bonvillain)

Wow, so what can I say about the first volume of Angel Catbird written by Margaret Atwood, illustrated by Johnnie Christmas, and coloured by Tamra Bonvillain? Well, it's definitely interesting. I first heard of it when I saw that Margaret Atwood would be at Fan Expo 2016 in Toronto to promote the graphic novel. Unfortunately, my brother and I couldn't go to the panel/book signing because we had another panel or photo op to go to but I had already met Margaret Atwood at Laurentian University in the Fall of 2014 so I wasn't too worried about missing it, even though I would have liked to have gone because Margaret Atwood is a very interesting person. I wanted to read it later, though, because I knew that it should be interesting due to the title and the fact that Margaret Atwood wrote it. Now that I actually have a cat, I thought that it was the right time to read it. And it definitely turned out to be... interesting (wow, I just said "interesting" a lot in this paragraph).

This graphic novel is about a man named Strig Feleedus who becomes part cat and part owl (while still being part human). His head is a combination of human, cat, and owl while his body is mostly human with the exception of the cat tail, large angel-like bird wings, and feathery legs with talon feet. He is later given the name Angel Catbird due to all of this. I expected him to be the only one of his kind and to just be a hero of sorts but the story isn't that simple. There are other people who are part cat. They call themselves half-cats. And they can also switch between their forms. For example, humans who are half-cat can switch between their human-cat form and their human form but cats that are half-cat can switch between their cat-human form and their cat form. Then there are other people who have other animals in them. In Strig's case, he is part cat and part owl. Count Catula is part cat and part bat as well as being a vampire. Ray is half-raven. And the villain, Dr. Muroid? He's half-rat. Obviously he wants the half-cats gone while he and his rats take control.

These half-cats also have their own sort of community. They have a nightclub just for them and they prefer to hang out with each other rather than with normal humans. I was confused by some of their names at first. For example, some of the cats in the nightclub have names like Trash, Cataclysm, and Alley. I wondered why one of the half-cats (and Strig's love interest), Cate Leone, kept saying these words. I started thinking that maybe these were swears that the half-cats use since Cate also says "Holy cats!" as a sort of swear and there are a lot of cat-themed references. It wasn't until I looked at the collection of labelled sketches at the end of the book that I figured out that these were the names of characters and that whenever she said them, she was talking to them. I feel really sorry for the cat living with the name "Trash." Because of all of these cat references, I was reminded of a lot of children's books that do the same thing. It gets kind of cheesy after a while but it's still kind of fun. I would not recommend that children read this however, since there are parts where Strig and Cate think about sex with each other but in a cat way. For example, there is one part where Cate is thinking about how cute Strig looks in his cat-owl-human form and she thinks about how they could maybe get together next time she's in heat. In another part, Strig thinks about how he'd love it if Cate had his kittens or laid his egg. These parts are both sexual (especially the part about the next time Cate is in heat) and there are other scenes that seem a bit sexual as well. So, I'd say this book is more for adults.

A big part of this book is about spreading the message that cats should be kept indoors rather than being outdoor cats. Indoor cats live longer because there are many dangers that they could face if they were outside. Also, keeping cats indoors means that wild birds are also safe from them. There are little boxes at the bottom of certain pages with information provided by Nature Canada. The information is all about the risks of letting cats be outdoor cats and the benefits of indoor cats. There is even a website that they encourage readers to visit: These messages are even included in the story. At the beginning of the story, Strig tells his pet cat that he has to stay inside since he is an indoor cat. Before Strig changes into Angel Catbird for the first time, his cat escapes from the house and he yells that it's dangerous outside before his cat runs onto the street after a rat and ends up getting hit by a car. When the half-cats who change to cat form when they are not in half-cat form change into cats so as to lie low until the dangers that the half-cats are facing are figured out, they state everything that could happen to them outside like getting hit by cars, chased or eaten by other animals, or getting rabies. The message really jumps out at you in these parts of the story. You can see that they were deliberately placed there. I actually find that they don't fit in... smoothly, I guess? As though they are forced into the story. Then there's the big part of the story that addresses the issue of outdoor cats and the safety of wild birds from cats: Angel Catbird himself. He is part cat and part bird. So, he knows the dangers that cats face outside and he also knows the dangers that birds face from cats. He understands what both species are going through. I really like this part. It fits in nicely, even if it's weird.

So, will I read the next volume? Probably, especially since this graphic novel series is different from other graphic novels that I read and it also has that great message about cats and birds. Now that I'm a cat owner, I know the importance of keeping cats indoors. As someone who also owns pet birds and loves wild birds, I know how important it is to keep them safe too.


Monday, 27 March 2017

Accepting My Anxiety And Doing Something About It

For a long time, I didn't understand exactly what anxiety was. By this I mean that I didn't know the exact definition of anxiety. I was never taught it and I never really researched it. I kind of knew what anxiety was, but I still felt like I didn't understand it enough to be able to use the word properly. I kind of knew that everyone experiences anxiety to a certain extent but I thought that it had to be really severe to actually be able to say that you have anxiety. When I thought of social anxiety, I thought that it meant that the person had trouble speaking to strangers or had trouble going out in public. Just like with anxiety in general, I thought that it had to be that severe to be considered social anxiety. I get stage fright (in some situations it has been worse than others) and I also have trouble participating and speaking up in groups (usually groups that are maybe five people or more). However, I can speak to a stranger one-on-one and be perfectly fine. I actually wrote a blog post about this in the past. I thought that all of this was just due to me being an introvert and also that it was just something that people go through. I never thought of it as partly being social anxiety. I always explained it as me just being an introvert, having a phobia, or being nervous or scared. Like I mentioned before, I thought that social anxiety was more extreme than what I experience. I also didn't entirely understand what anxiety was, not to mention the extent of it and how there are all sorts of types of anxiety. After learning a bit about both introversion and social anxiety, I think it's a mix of both. I don't think that my introversion is the only culprit when it's difficult for me to participate in a group, especially when I feel a bit panicked inside when having to answer a question on the spot. It's just that my social anxiety happens in specific situations rather than in all social situations so I guess it's considered mild or moderate? I'm not really sure where I sit there.

So what exactly do I experience? Well, I can explain more about what I experience while in groups rather than while performing because I haven't had to perform anything for a few years now but lately I find myself in groups and other social situations that affect me. I experience things going on in my mind and my body. I start worrying about the situation before I even get to it. On the way there and while waiting for it to begin, I start feeling as though I'll start shaking any moment. Once it begins, if it's something that I know requires some participation or may require some participation, I feel kind of panicky inside. I get a strange feeling in my heart and intestines (because the stomach isn't actually in our belly button area) and I don't breathe as normally as I should. My heart often beats faster when I know that it is now my turn to participate (for example, if people are participating in a certain order). When I have to participate, it can often be hard to look at people and I feel like my voice sounds shaky but I can't always tell if it really is or not. I also sometimes feel like I'm about to have trouble really concentrating on what's going on because I'm noticing so much about what's going on inside me and my mind is filled with worries. After it's all over and I'm on my way home or I'm back at home, I continue to think about the social interaction. I think about what I said or didn't say or even how I acted or didn't act. If my mind is left without anything to really focus on, I'll sort of worry, in a way, about what already happened. It's like it's on replay in my mind and it won't leave me alone. What I experience during the situation can sometimes differ but I usually always worry before and after. I often find myself suddenly humming when this happens, as if the humming will drown out the thoughts. When I have had to perform in the past (piano recitals or a poetry recitation) I would get shaky. In the case of a poetry recitation in class, I couldn't get past the first few lines even though I had been excited to recite the poem and I felt completely ready. It was as though I just forgot the rest of the poem but I was able to recite it later in front of just my professor in her office.

I'm now getting some guidance for this social anxiety of mine, which I'm really happy about but also nervous about because it involves exposure to the things that cause me anxiety. The first "assignment" that I had to do was do something, not too big, that might cause me some anxiety. Since my anxiety, as I mentioned before, is with groups and performing, I had trouble figuring out what to do for this first bit of exposure. I didn't want to do something too crazy but I still wanted to do something that was enough to cause me anxiety (because you need to expose yourself to the things that scare you in order to ever overcome them). Going out in public or saying hello to a stranger wasn't good enough because I'm fine doing those things. I needed to do something that was linked with groups or performing. I finally decided to go to a poetry revision workshop at my city's main library that was being taught by my city's current poet laureate. She was going to talk to a group of no more than ten people about poetry revision and then spend time with each person one-on-one to go through a poem that they brought and suggest ways that they could revise it. I had been going back and forth in my mind on whether I would go since it made me nervous to be in a group and then to have a poet laureate, who has several published books of poetry, read my poem and suggest ways for revising it. I wanted to go but it was my anxiety that was making me want to avoid it. When I remembered that I was unsure about going because it scared me, I knew that it would be good to go to it for some exposure since it also wasn't going to be a huge group and we didn't have to share our poems with anyone but the poet laureate. Also, I like writing and poetry so it was something that interested me.

Going to this workshop, I experienced all of the symptoms that I described before. I kept worrying about it before I went. I worried that the poet laureate wouldn't like my poem or that she'd think it was weird. I was scared that there would be a lot wrong with it when it came to revising it. When I went to the workshop, I was the youngest one there so that made me nervous right away. Some of the other people included the past poet laureate and some people from the writer's guild. There were only two other people like me who just wrote poetry for fun. This made me nervous as well because most of the people there were more experienced than me. We sat on chairs in a circle, which also makes me nervous because everyone can see you and sitting in circles usually means that there is going to be participation involved. The only time that I had to participate was when we each introduced ourselves so that wasn't so bad. After that, I simply listened to everyone else participate. While listening to the tips for poetry revision, I really started wondering if my poem was alright. I felt as though my poem was starting to look bad while learning about what you should and should not do when it came to not only poetry revision, but writing poetry in the first place. I had to keep reminding myself that my poem was still in the draft stage and that it was alright if it wasn't perfect. I became extremely nervous when it was time for the one-on-one revision sessions and I had to go first. Thankfully we moved two chairs to the other side of the room, away from the group, for this little chat. The poet laureate ended up being really nice and she liked my poem. It was kind of a big deal for me to have this poet laureate like my poem, especially after worrying that it wasn't good. Of course, she wrote quite a bit on my poem for revision purposes (we had to email our poems before the workshop so she would have time to look at them and write down suggestions ahead of time) but it all made sense to me and I learned a lot. I wasn't as nervous as before while we chatted and she explained changes or additions that I could make. It didn't bother me.

Part of my anxiety is that I have a fear of not being good enough. I actually ended up realizing this even before I found out that social anxiety is about the fear of judgement. I have a fear of being judged even though I can be judged no problem when I am actually in the moment of being judged (example: someone reading my writing right in front of me and giving criticism). I just get really anxious before hand. I'm afraid they won't like whatever I created and that it isn't any good. Comparing myself to others is one reason why I think that whatever I create isn't good enough. There are so many talented people out there doing amazing work that I feel like mine is nothing compared to theirs. I have also realized that when it comes to social interactions and the amount of anxiety that they cause me, I am different in various situations. If I am having a conversation with someone one-on-one or with two or three people away from a group, I'm not nervous and can talk the person's ear off. Although, I have been shaky and nervous during piano performance exams that I had to do in the past even though there was only one person there marking me but that was just because it was an exam and exams have always made me nervous no matter how prepared I have been for them. If I am having a conversation with someone one-on-one or with two or three people with a group around but where the other people are having their own conversations but could possibly hear my conversation, then I'm not as talkative and I feel some minor symptoms. In groups of five people or more where everyone is listening, I have a lot of trouble participating and will try to avoid it. Sometimes, while in a group of people, I can force myself to answer a question that I have prepared for and I'm okay, not perfectly fine but I'm still okay. However, if I have to answer a question on the spot, I have trouble answering and I tend to get upset. I have found myself almost crying after having to answer just a simple question on the spot. I think it's because I feel like I am under pressure in that situation.

If you've made it to the bottom of this post then I'd like to say thanks for letting me empty out my thoughts here. I was really unsure about putting this post up on my blog but getting everything out through writing really helps. I plan on continuing to expose myself to participating in groups and hopefully one day it will come more naturally instead of forcefully. I'm also hoping that I can learn to deal with my phobia of bees, hornets, and wasps and that I can deal better with getting needles since I have to get an IV infusion every two months. I have found out that these two things are also anxiety and sometimes I wonder if the two are connected (since bees, hornets, and wasps have stingers and needles are sharp). So what do I want to do? I want to be able to speak in groups without getting nervous or worried before, during, and after. I want to be able to stay where I am or walk through areas without screaming and running away from bees, hornets, or wasps (unless I'm near their nest or something). I want to be able to relax while the nurse pokes me with the needle to set up the IV for my Remicade infusion. These are the improvements that I want to make in my life and I'm determined to finally get through them or at least be able to handle them better.


Friday, 24 March 2017

There Is Now A Cat In My Family

I always thought of myself strictly as a dog person. I never thought that my family would own a cat. This was mostly due to the fact that we thought that my Dad was allergic to cats since he used to be allergic to several animals. He was allergic to the guinea pig that we had years ago and we didn't figure it out until the guinea pig died and my Dad's allergy symptoms and asthma symptoms decreased (we later tested him out with a skinny pig/hairless guinea pig in a pet shop but he even reacted to that!). He has always been okay with all of the other pets that we've had like dogs, rabbits, birds, and hamsters. He got allergy shots (never finished them but got enough of them to manage most of the allergies) when he was younger. I guess that's why he's okay with a lot of pets. That and the exposure that he's had since we have always lived with several pets at once. But we have still never owned a cat because we thought that he was still allergic to them. He always seemed fine, however, with the cats at my aunt and great-aunt's house. I always liked the cats at their house but I kept my strict dog person label because I had accepted that my family would never have one. I never even thought that I'd have a cat when I was older. I just really love dogs since I have had them for all of my life.

This year, my Mom suddenly seemed interested in visiting cats in adoption centres and I soon found out why. Not only was she thinking about volunteering at one, but she was also thinking about actually fostering a cat. We visited three different adoption centres, visiting two of them several times. I opened myself up to the idea of having a cat. It would be fun! Cats are different from dogs. They don't require as much attention and they just do their own thing. They aren't as rough as dogs and they can be very cuddly. I became quite excited but I couldn't get my hopes up because we still didn't know if my Dad's allergies would act up and there was also the fact that my Mom was thinking of fostering a cat which meant that it would go to another home if someone wanted to adopt it. I'll tell you the truth, I didn't think that I could deal with fostering a cat. I think anyone that fosters pets is absolutely amazing because a lot of people will actually foster several pets (whether they be dogs or cats) at a time, giving them a loving and caring home until they can be adopted. But I get really attached to my pets. Fostering a cat would mean that there was a possibility that the cat would be given away and then I would be sad. I know that people are probably thinking "Well, you just have to get used to that if you choose to foster a pet." I understand this. But when I get a pet, it becomes family. And having to give it away would be really hard. We once had a horse that we had to sell to someone else because he was not trained enough for us to handle him but that wasn't hard because I never got attached to him enough. Of course I loved him, but we didn't spend a ton of extra time with him because he wasn't safe enough to ride and I was kind of scared because I didn't have a lot of experience with horses (my Mom was the one who had experience with horses).

We didn't end up fostering a cat, though, because we adopted one! My Mom met a really nice tuxedo cat named Pingu one time when she was visiting an adoption centre and, after looking up more information about him through the online posting that the adoption centre put on the internet for each of their cats, she wanted to go back to see him with all of us. He was found in one of the neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Sudbury and ended up in the animal shelter for a few weeks before ending up at the adoption centre. My Mom told me that they keep the animals at the shelter for a few weeks just in case the animal escaped from a home and has owners who come looking for them. It gives the possible owners a chance to claim back their pet. If nobody claims the pet, then they end up in an adoption shelter. Pingu was neutered and had his shots updated before going to the adoption centre. When we met him, we all loved him. He was such a sweetheart. We could tell that he was nervous but he let us pick him up and hold him without any kind of struggle. We got my Dad to hold him to test him out and my Dad was fine! If my Dad would have reacted, it would have been instant. We decided to adopt him. It was March 13th. We bought a starter kit but we couldn't bring Pingu home until the next day, March 14th, since the day that we adopted him was just too busy for us. We took advantage of this time by buying cat supplies, preparing the downstairs bathroom for him, and I read a booklet about caring for cats. We decided that we would keep the name given to him at the adoption centre because Pingu was the name of a claymation TV show about a penguin that my brother and I used to watch as kids and we thought it was such a cute name.

When we brought him home the next day, we put him in the downstairs bathroom and kept him there for the next few days. He had everything he needed: food, water, litter box, blankets, scratching post/tree, and toys. There is even a window in that bathroom that has a ledge so he can sit and look outside. We wanted him to adjust to his litter box and food and water dishes in his new home. We didn't want to stress him out with a house that has a main floor and a basement plus several other pets. We would visit him in the bathroom which is now his bathroom. He was so sweet when we'd visit him. If we were sitting, he would often walk over to us and climb up into our laps to cuddle. After a few days, we started letting him out for short amounts of time to let him start to explore a bit. He started with the basement and my Mom started bringing him upstairs, with him eventually going upstairs on his own. He got to meet our other pets: our dog, our rabbit, our birds, and our fish. Our dog was very interested in Pingu but Pingu would hiss at him or swat at him if he got too close. Our rabbit was scared of Pingu. The first time he saw him, our rabbit was in his own cage but he was still scared and he stomped. One time, our rabbit was out hopping around the living room and when he saw the cat he became frightened and raced back to his cage. Our pets still all have to get adjusted to Pingu and Pingu still needs to get used to our other pets but we see little signs of all of them starting to adjust to each other.

So far, Pingu has really been adjusting to our house. We are now seeing his curious, playful side. He loves exploring. He doesn't really like playing with little balls or little plush toys but he loves chasing the light from a laser pointer and he also enjoys stealing larger stuffed animals or pieces of clothing to play with. He is also quite vocal. He often meows while he's walking around. He also meows every time we pick him up as if he is protesting but he never bites us or scratches us. When he's exploring, he prefers to cuddle by his own choice. If we ignore him and let him do his own thing while he's touring the house, he'll sometimes jump up onto our laps to crawl up and rest. Sometimes he'll just jump up onto an empty chair or the couch to curl up for a nap. He has his playful times and his nap times, just like our dog and rabbit. He has his own little personality and it's ending up to be very cute. I have fallen in love with this cat, just like I have with all of my pets, and he has become a part of our family. I can now say that I am both a dog and a cat person (as well as a rabbit person). Having a cat, if only for a few weeks so far, has shown me how amazing these animals are. Now, hopefully his presence will keep the mice out of the house too.