Pet Rescues? Or Militant Animal Gatekeepers?

Remember the days when you decided you wanted an animal companion in your life, so you strolled down to your local shelter, filled out some paperwork, gave an optional donation, and walked out the same day with the new pet of your choosing, ready to bond and share your space with them?

They gone.

I mean, you can still do this at the pet shop with hamsters I guess. But the way adoption processes for a cat or dog are structured nowadays, you may as well toss in an application for a chance at a black market immigrant child too. You’ll probably be cleared for the human before the animal enthusiasts deem your application worthy.

Those close to me know I was once the proud owner of a beautiful orange tabby who lived to the ripe old age of 19 years. Last April, he succumbed to a thyroid issue that robbed his ability to see, and finally, eat or walk. I syringe-fed him water during his last days and a final vet visit ended in euthanization.

I was devastated, yes, but I know it was probably time cause my cat was pretty damn old. I’d watched the rapid deterioration of both my grandparents (who’d been old forever because they’re grandparents) when their time was up. One minute they seem just fine, and the next, a simple cold or digestion issue destroys their weak immune system and results in their (timely, I guess) departure. It took until the end of the year for me to finally feel ready to adopt again, with the enlightenment one gains from being a previous pet owner. I wanted two this time. Kip had been a wonderful, vocal cat, who initially meow-meowed-meowed his way through the house, to the point where we wondered if he’d ever shut up and neighbors shoved meat under our door because they thought we housed a starving animal. Two companions would keep each other company and hopefully cut down on this, and I felt a bonded pair of litter-mates would do nicely! The idea of a dog crossed my mind (and I work from home so I’d be in the best position to have one), but two cats are still less work than one dog. I was READY.

Twenty years later though, the adoption game has severely changed with the millennium, and I was not ready for the evolved difficulty in the approval process. It seemed a bunch of self-righteous animal zealots now controlled a huge chunk of the adoptable animal population, only willing to release them to those considered deserving of an pet. Oh it SEEMS great on first thought; we all want what’s best for the animals and making sure potential adopters are responsible and bringing them into a healthy, non-abusive environment is a terrific idea. But it’s that arrogant zealousness to find the “perfect” match for animals that causes “Adopt, Don’t Shop” to fail. Slate actually has a superb article that wonderfully sums up how convoluted the process has become here.

Some rejections have nothing to do with how well you can take care of and provide for an animal. Take a look at one of mine here:

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So…ya’ll not tryna have some kittens go to forever homes cause ya’ll don’t FEEL like making the drive? THANKS LYNN. Great effort!

In my personal opinion, it’s pretty damn difficult to neglect a cat. Maybe because I’ve had pets all my life that I was responsible for (hamsters, mice, rabbits, turtles, cats) so it’s a little more ingrained in me that animals need taking care of. Dogs require a bit more effort, but at the bare minimum, you give a cat food and water, change its litter and play with it some. At the bare minimum, someone walking into a pet shelter or rescue organization looking to adopt knows they have to do this. An animal-hater is not going to walk into a pet shelter interested in adoption and pay the fees required, unless some really SICK individual wants to adopt a pet to secretly torture them, but sick individuals will always find ways to do their sick things and I’m pretty sure these guys are in the isolated minority. At the very least, with any adoption, an animal gets taken from a cage or enclosed space in a shelter (I understand foster situations are different, but still) and goes to a home where they get far more attention and room to roam. It is usually going to be a better situation for them to be in. Someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, scrounging for enough money to feed their children or keep the lights on this month, is likely not going to waltz into a shelter and add a new expense of caring for an animal, no matter how cute it is. But still, financials seem to be a huge part of the application process.

References are generally required now, which is fine, however, the world knows how references work. You pick the people who will paint you to be a shining star and say whatever required to make you glow. References are kinda one of society’s biggest B.S. schemes. Even shitty pedophiles have acquaintances who will vouch the high heavens for them if given as references. Mine were apparently asked if I was economically stable enough to own a cat. What, were they going to say NO?

But really, let’s look at the economic status of the nation as a whole. The majority of the U.S. currently lives paycheck to paycheck. :/ They find a way to manage, however, this does insinuate that only the small percentage of wealthy would fit the “perfect appliCAT” adoption (see what I did there?). Most applications ask if you’d be able to afford an animal’s vet bills, but let’s not act like in today’s times, finding affordable health care for HUMANS isn’t a large task in itself already, and many millennials simply go without it!

We’re living though.

Some applications specifically ask how much would be too much a vet’s bill for you. I started putting things like $3000 because I’m not sure what they were looking for. If you can’t afford a $3000 vet bill for your cat, does that mean you shouldn’t be allowed to have one? Because a $3000 doctor’s bill for a human would wipe most people’s savings. Does this mean we should be banned from caring for them? The richest person with an endless supply of fortune could adopt and give a cat a whole wing of their mansion, vet bills pre-paid, and still only be giving the bare minimum: food, litter, a home. Doesn’t mean they’re petting the cat on a regular basis or playing with them, or giving them love. Most hire nannies for their own children, so I’m sure said nanny or housekeeper would be caring for the pet as well. And let’s be real, the wealthy usually don’t saunter into the ASPCA looking to rescue; they find a pedigreed breeder and dole out a handsome sum for a certified, purebred, exotic prize.

I’ll be honest; I didn’t take my last cat in for yearly vet check-ups. I saw no need. He was an indoor cat, had all his shots, vaccinations, and got neutered within the first year of his life. I gave him good quality food and he was not only part of my immediate family, but my extended family too. Once in awhile he got sick, just as we humans do. But most of us know you don’t immediately run to the doctor when you get sick, unless it’s serious. In fact, 75% I’ve run to the doctor for a perceived ailment, I didn’t have to GO. It was something that would have passed and I ended up with a stupid bill, a prescription for some shit I could get from Duane Reade over the counter on my own, and a “This too, shall pass” diagnosis. When he had a REAL issue, I took him. The rest of the time, he got monumental love and support from all of us.

Let’s move from the financial aspect. Many applications ask if I have kids or plan to. Umm…shit, what if I did? It could happen in the future, as I am…an adult woman with working ovaries. Can cats and kids not live together? Do families not have pets? Okay, maybe they’re just screening so they can let you know which of their adoptables don’t do well with children. Understandable! But then they proceed to ask if you DID have a kid, what would you do with your cat? Umm I’d have my kid. And I’d have my cat? “What if you moved? Would you take your cat?” No, I’d leave it in the empty apartment and hope the super overheard the hungry yowls eventually. *Sarcasm alert.*

wallstreetcatguy“Will you ever let the cat outside?” I mean, in a carrier, unless I travel to a family or friend’s house that has an enclosed backyard maybe? What, you think I’m going to walk outside down a New York City block with my cat in my arms? Maybe someone who had a damn good trained cat could do that, like the one who used to show up around Wall Street. But most indoor cats would likely claw the shit out of you if you tried to take them outside in your arms amidst honking horns and barking dogs. Most owners know this. Why the hell would someone who lives in a New York City apartment let their cat outside unless it’s a bodega or apartment complex cat? Common sense. Sure, there’s the cat leash movement going on but I have only come across ONE urban cat-walker in my New York City life. Why are we asking this question like it’s a common thing lol.

“How many hours the cat will be left alone during the day?” Well that’s pretty easy to ascertain if the person has a standard fucking 9-5 job. That they’ll need to have in order to be financially stable enough to adopt the damn cat in the first place and afford those $3000 vet bills, right?

“We require a home visit.” This one may be the most invasive of them all. What’chu mean you wanna come to my HOUSE? And see if it’s SUITABLE for a cat? Some folk are sensitive about their small spaces, or day-to-day messies. What if the “inspector” is a Trump supporter wearing a red #MAGA cap and I have an Obama “Yes We Can” fleece throw on my couch? I’m probably not getting that damn cat.

One place tried to call my apartment management company to verify pets were allowed and ended up getting a new girl that gave her the runaround. I was surprised my management company even answered the phone. You know how hard it is for ME to get ahold of someone there? But trust me, I doubt most New Yorkers would be willing to take in an animal if they weren’t allowed. Especially when it’s rent-stabilized. We ain’t risking that. But what if someone rescued an animal off the street and hid it from their management company? More power to them! We can’t say it doesn’t help the rescue plight.

Through all this, you have the rescues and shelters posting desperate pleas for animal adopters and fosters NEEDED NOW, because the shelters are overflowing, and animals are getting euthanized or remaining unadopted for lengthy periods; all the while simultaneously calling for “A+ adopters ONLY and if you have to ask what it is, you’re not one” (because only the cream of the crop will do and we’re not really here to educate potential adopters >.>) or criticizing potential adopters for having preferences, such as color or age, which is RIDICULOUS! If someone wants an orange cat, let them hunt for an orange cat! If a person loves a certain breed and sees they’re available for adoption with you, what’s the issue? If they prefer a kitten over an adult cat like I do (because I prefer to raise them myself and have an earlier bond), are they less of an animal-lover because of this? And then the raging fan, and I’ll quite bluntly call them “dickriding” comments that back up these ridiculous critiques, solidify the existence of an entire Internet club of perceived cat activists, who must ALL be perfect adopters who take their cats (and they all BETTER have cats lol) for biyearly dental cleanings, consider Fancy Feast actual gourmet cat food, and live for putting down “B-” cat owners on social media.

“Adopt, Don’t Shop” is easier said then done, especially when potential adopters need to pass a figurative bar exam from the gatekeepers to adopt. They are looking for perfect adopters but “perfection” doesn’t exist. I was damn near ready to go through a back-alley CraigsList kitten transaction (because when you want an animal, you WILL get an animal) when a ray of light appeared in my path.

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I spotted this adorable little face on the ‘gram. And some brief reviewing revealed he had siblings! I DM-ed them to inquire and messaged with Holland, a sweet breath of fresh air who communicated with life and feeling and energy, unlike many of the of the short, brusque, almost exhausted-sounding responses from the other places I’d looked into. I was directed to their website, https://catcastlenyc.org where I filled out a simple, non-invasive application and saw that part of their goal is non-discriminatory adoption! She sent me pics of the little guy’s siblings and I decided I wanted his brother too, and within two days she showed up at my apartment to deliver the little darlings. While this could also be construed as a home visit, it wasn’t the same in my eyes, because I was already approved for the adoption, whereas other places use the home visit to further render judgment on your approval.

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Spike and Vash

I am now the proud owner of two rambunctious bonded brothers born with little bent tails, who I’ve spent the last week spoiling with holistic cat food, organic rotisserie chicken, more toys on the way, and that cat condo I’ve always wanted. For my cats. >.>’ We’re working on getting them comfortable being held while standing, but for now they crawl into my lap for cuddles, are no longer afraid when the front door opens, and tear around the house chasing and wrestling each other before falling asleep together in a kitty hug. I make them little aluminum foil balls to play with, tossed a blanket on the floor of my closet because I know they like to nap there sometimes, and now have to carefully roll my office chair out because they like to hang out under there while I’m sitting in it at my computer.

I don’t think I qualify as an “A+ adopter,” and I’m not sure I’d even want to. I’m much happier being the imperfect human I am that loves animals and takes damn good care of her pets, happily welcoming a saved life into my imperfect world. I love that Cat Castle NYC deviated from the drill sergeant adoption routine, and equally loved being able to support a warm, friendly, up-and-coming, humble rescue, who really just seem to want to sincerely help connect cats with homes, and not play militant adoption gods who collect multiple applications on single pets in their adoption arena to determine the winner. I highly recommend and encourage other potential adopters who know they’re responsible enough to take an animal under their wing without having a snotty judge referee with a static checklist whether they truly are to check them out!

~Tael

*See You Space Cowboy*

BoroughCon 2017

Yo!

While I initially tried to keep my posts limited to the scope of the Indie Author Journey, what I’m finding is that the Indie Author Journey gets boring! You write, edit and format until your brain gets very angry, exhaust all the cheap marketing strategies you can find on the internet for little ROI, read many…many…best strategies/helpful tips articles, and make a whole lot of missteps, all while hoping for the lottery chance that your indie title will land in the right hands that send it viral. Eventually, the amount of unique writable content you can recount dwindles unless you’re constantly working on new novels/projects. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a writer first, it’s just one of my indulgences, so why not have my site reflect the eccentric ninja that I am?

So let’s talk about BoroughCon, which described itself as a brand new Comic/Sci-Fi/Gaming convention that I would classify as indie because of its newcomer status. Today was the final day, and I attended Saturday with my boyfriend and sister (this was her first con as well) in tow, after randomly seeing an ad for it at a bus stop. Oh, and of course, My First Cosplay.

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The first orderable costume online I ever encountered was Meilin’s from Cardcaptor Sakura (and let’s be honest, that whole series is chock full of banging costumes I’d love to get my hands on if done with quality), and this was while I was in high school, maybe even junior high. I favorited that page and vowed to save up enough for it, then went to college and forgot. Over 10 years later, I remembered that costume and Meilin’s was the first to enter my collection. Those hanging bells are real, by the way, and I had to focus on not whacking anyone with them on the subway.

First-year cons have a reputation for being not-that-great, but I wholeheartedly dived into this one because I…<3…indies! This was my third con experience (I don’t count Sakura Matsuri). My first was last year’s Castle Point Anime Convention in Hoboken which my boyfriend, a veteran of cons, introduced me to. I was immediately jealous of those in character, because it had always been my ridiculously nerdy dream to have the money (because I surely don’t have the skill) to procure an anime/video game outfit and then actually have a place to wear it to. I also attended Liberty City’s con in Times Square last year, which was another first time con. I had no problem with BoroughCon’s first-time status and I absolutely wanted to support them, especially since they were in Queens, fairly accessible by the subway. I found St. John’s to be an excellent space for it; I think colleges provide great venues for this sort of thing.

Now yes, there was a light turnout (the hotel that hosted Liberty City’s con last year was crammed), but that meant more space in the gaming room, because Liberty City’s game room was tiny and packed, and I didn’t even try to jump into the throng to wrestle a controller away for a spot. BoroughCon’s gaming room was spacious enough, and I was able to Smash it up for a good chunk of time there with fellow enthusiasts, and collect wins with silent grace like a ninja. I can’t speak for the con programming because the only one I attended was the Cosplay Fashion Show, which has become my no-miss-attendance event at these things. I felt they could have explained the divisions a little more, because I had no idea what the categories like “journeyman” etc…actually meant. A staff member tried to get me to join, but A. I’m still way too shy for that and B. although this was my first cosplay I can already say I don’t make my own costumes. I wear it for the spirit and my own personal dedication, but not as a finalization of my own craftsmanship.

All in all, I simply had a good time mingling with like-minded individuals. With the exception of the somewhat bumbling front deskers, all staff were incredibly friendly, randomly stopping us to let us know what programs were about to start, asking if we were lost, or complimenting my costume. It had a very chill vibe that I respected, and the Dealer’s Hall/Artists Alley was also cavernous enough (with much free candy!), though I was the only one in my party who declined to part with my gald. Thankfully, I’d scoured the Internet for tips for first-time cosplayers beforehand and learned that a mini-sewing kit is an essential item to carry, since one of my shoe straps broke while traversing the Dealer’s Hall, which could have ruined the whole day for me had I not been prepared. I was also prepared for the many deeply curious looks as I shuttled from Harlem through the subway to Queens in costume. I can’t wait for more and would definitely return to BoroughCon as they grow and become more popular!

A Thin Line Between Love and Lust

A Poly Love Story…

How the hell did I end up reading this one? In fact, I had told myself that in my support of other indies, I would actively avoid taking on erotic Western romance stories, or anything of the like. But he happened to be a Twitter follower who asked me to give a read, and I tend to be soft on my followers. Plus, this one had the whole poly-lover angle going on with it, so here was a twist.

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Surprisingly, I wasn’t bored out of my mind. There were a lot of points in the story where I genuinely wanted to know what was coming next. Then there were points where I went, “For REAL? YEAH, RIGHT!” But I’m not so open-minded as Nicky, who happened to be my favorite character in the book because of her unapologetic, go-getting, straight-forwardness, and her innocence, despite her sexual appetite and awareness. You wonder if shared trinogamy could exist in the real world, outside of the Mormon countryside or Islamic marriage setups, and you question the believability of the unfurling situation. But then you get jolted by some scenes that remind you there’s a structure in place that involves honesty and open communication, like every time Prince stumbles upon a new woman he’s attracted to and fails to let Nicky know his growing interest. She is quick to show her possessiveness and let him have it, which lends an air of “realness” to the situation: there are rules. Sister lovers are permissible, but no one-night stands with bimbos, and no secrets. There’s still such a thing as cheating in this arrangement.

There were also a few points where the vernacular made me chuckle, specifically Miles’ winning line: “I don’t know about cooties, but they fa sho got coochies.” It is absolutely something I could have overheard one of my young cousins say growing up, and I was impressed with how the writer was able to nail that.

I did find a lot of Prince’s poetry and mushy sentiments to be unrealistically sappy (i.e. Carrie’s response to Petrovsky’s amorous behavior in Sex in the City), but the character also openly references his own corniness throughout the book. I would cringe if my boyfriend ever led me into a room lit by candles with a bed covered in rose petals. I AM NOT A ROMANTIC. But the book does a good job of making you think, “This can’t really happen,” and then you realize, even if you would never in your life be down with it, it’s not implausible that others would. Even outside of the fairy-tale version C.E. Long paints for you.

Also, I kind of wanted the assimilation of Nyla to fail. I almost wished she would remain resolute on her feelings toward the situation just to prove that not everyone would be down with this, haha.

I’m bad.

~Tael

When Readers “GET” You

Not too long ago, I received an amazing Goodreads review from E. Leo Foster. What struck me about this one is that he really seemed to “get” it. Here’s someone who knows absolutely nothing about me, my upbringing, or the elements (harharhar) that sparked Chaos (un)Controlled, who was able to pick up on the intricacies I littered throughout the book. He understood the layers, and saw that it was much more than just a surface story about a girl with a gaming premise, making me proud that my writing can connect with varied demographics. Check it below!

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1929023533?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Chaos (un) Controlled is an exciting story that fluently mixes so many themes, such as gaming and faith, together into a brilliant novel. The story focuses on a gaming enthusiast teenage girl, Rixa, who discovers ‘a game like’ new world. However, that is only one layer of the story. This novel coaxes the reader into thinking about over-arching ideas of dualism within ourselves and society, about the consequences of our decisions and actions, and the limits -or rather ‘un-limits’ of our power. What separates this story from so many others that merge major themes into a single narrative is the author brought the protagonist and her worlds to life. In essence, the writing made me feel, not just think about what Rixa is dealing with as she navigates and overcomes some of life’s major obstacles. While I felt the character’s emotions through each page turn, the author simultaneously puts Rixa on the same learning curve as the reader. In the story, Rixa learns that to master any skill, she must go beyond just thinking and learning the fundamentals. She, just like us all, must passionately connect to the desire skill by feeling and becoming one with its potential power. I highly recommend this book as its breaks every genre label you try to slap on it. Original!

The Exiles

Time for another Indie Immersion! This time it’s The Exiles by E. Leo Foster. It’s a short novel, about 140 pages, but this one seemed to capture exactly what I was looking for in an indie book: something different and uniquely creative without reading like a high school writing assignment. Ever read “Shoplifting from American Apparel” by Tao Lin? I really wanted to like that one, but I found it a very dry read with very little reader connection. The pacing flowed like a robot chanting an abstract grocery list.

For some reason, after reading the book blurb for The Exiles, I expected to read about a society of lawless vagrants who lived on the outskirts of town in a secret location like the Court of Miracles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. You don’t encounter this; instead, it focuses on one family in particular, and they aren’t even hiding from the world; just hiding secrets. Obviously the title is meant to be metaphoric.

TheExilesTwo main things that stood out to me.

A. The author created characters I didn’t really like, but could still connect with through human emotion. And I believe that’s a great skill.

B. I absolutely loved the smart style of storytelling he chose to use; the choppy flow of the short chapters that led into flashbacks building up to interesting reveals, and the witty, somewhat philosophical lines of #TruthTrebles sprinkled about that blended seamlessly with the storyline. This is a book that makes you think. So much so, that it prompted me to leave an Amazon review, which I can only do if I’m actually impressed or mentally impacted.

Doesn’t look like he used an editor; I came across some typos and grammatical incorrections (yes, I make up words that kind of make sense), but hey, I didn’t hire an editor either, and they weren’t littered throughout to take away from the overall story for me. Real readers aren’t picky. This one’s a winner. Cue the Super Mario RPG battle win music.

~Tael

I’m Feelin’ That

Immersion. It conjures up the memory of that first dive into the calm of Jolly Roger Bay in Super Mario 64 where the music immediately switches to a deeper, still soothing tempo as you descend into blissful underwater exploration…like diving into a memorable story, yah? ImFeelinThat

Extending exploration from the gaming world to the writing world, it’s not an Indie Author Journey unless you’re supporting other indies! So I randomly searched Twitter, discovered author Chris Stevens, and took a dive into “I’m Feelin That! Stories of Love, Life and Lessons Learned.” I’m not usually one to read short stories by choice, but the cultural aspect, I could connect with. It’s very straight-forward writing making use of slang vernacular, with different POVs to switch things up for a varied range of content. What I liked the most: reading about lifestyles that differ from my own. Story that stuck with me the most? Brothers In Arms.

~Tael