Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Although I have been hiking quite a lot this year- and thus in a perfect position to see lots of wildlife, as I certainly have- I have had encounters with turtles that have stood out. When I see an animal in a random encounter and it feels as if it has weight, I look up the symbolism in order to see if there is a message or meaning from (the universe? my subconscious? tribe consciousness?) that I need to hear.

I was driving in my vet truck when I saw a turtle in the middle of the road. Having worked in wildlife clinics, I have seen my fair share of smashed turtle shells; so I turned around, put on my hazards (holding up another car), hopped out. I gently picked the turtle up and unceremoniously dumped it into the swamp like ditch on the side of the road- safety.

I took the hand of my handfasted partner and led him into the woods, telling him I wanted to "show him something". We were both in need of some healing with each other- it's been a tough winter. When we got to the spot I had thought of, by the pond, an amazing thing happened; we both simultaneously saw the nearly empty turtle shell. "Wow! When did you discover this? Amazing!" he said- he is also a vet, an exotics vet, and loves turtles. I was stunned; we saved the shell, he cleaned it and it sits in a revered spot in our house.

While running yesterday, I saw another turtle in the middle of the path. The second one that has crossed my path (while alive, I guess). It was motoring along well until it heard or saw me coming; then it stopped, and withdrew into its shell. This is a busy path with dogs and bikes and joggers, so I stopped too and gently lifted the turtle the rest of the way where it was heading into the lush grass.

Turtles. Why turtles? I read a lot this morning about symbolism, meaning and so forth. Turtle is present in so many cultures, for so many reason. What is mostly universal is longevity, protection and associations with the moon due to the markings on the shell, numbering in 13 (moon months) and 28 (moon days). The turtle, in this respect, is feminine. What resonates with me, after all this reading and from the encounters, is a message telling me to slow down a little, remember my own natural rhythms (even when threatened!) Remember the divine and the feminine. Find wisdom in slowing down a little, and hardening up a bit.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Queen of the Magpies

This is a dream I had years ago, back in undergrad.  It was in vivid color, so real... and I can still remember every detail, like it just happened.


I was sent back in time by my boss, a jewelry maker, to look at jewelry of the 70's for inspiration and ideas.    Mostly, I was attracted to beaded work and there was some beautiful stuff happening then.  I found myself walking on a busy street and went into a little hippie jewelry type shop, with things like big beaded headbands, beaded curtains, hair clips with beaded flowers... that sort of thing.  It was wild.  My eye drank in all the color, not to mention the people shopping around me.  As I walked around a center island with buckets of beaded bracelets and things, just dangling my hand in them and feeling everything I could, I was stopped by a woman whispering words in my ear.

"I have something for you to see.  You shouldn't miss this."  She had very big hazel eyes and black hair, just past her shoulders and a little wild.  I didn't know her, and had no idea who she was.  "It's not far, just outside a ways."

So I followed her.  We ended up walking on a path of flat slate stones through a field.  We were walking towards one of the largest and most beautiful trees I had ever seen.  There were steps carved into the tree, and the center was hollow, with a round doorway.  The two halves of the door stood open.  She stopped at the foot of the tree, smiled sort of enigmatically at me, and waved me on.  I mounted the steps slowly, marveling at them.  What an amazing thing this was!  I felt privileged, hushed and awed- the air was heavy and quiet.

When I entered the hole, my eyes adjusted; there were windows also carved in, letting in small amounts of light.  My joy turned to horror.  The smell was terrible.  A chicken coop?  I did not understand.  Everything inside was beautifully carved, and on either side of the door were two long hollowed out benches lined with straw.  And yet... there were chickens in it, it was filthy and stank.  Suddenly I noticed there weren't just chickens; there were some small, feeble black chicks being pushed out and pushed around.  What were they?  What was this?  My feeling of horror grew, and suddenly was beginning to mix with another emotion- anger.

"How could they..."
This was interrupted by a low, deep laugh.  I spun around to see who it was.  Standing in shadow, half hidden, was a man with greying dark hair, and a greying goatee.  His moustache was curious, thick and full and coming to points at either end.  I did not like his laugh, it was cold and unfriendly; though I was still angry, I felt a sense of caution and even fear.  I was still so confused!  There was an intense feeling of anger and I could not place why I would feel anything at all about a chicken coop.

"You are too late."
What?  What is this lunatic talking about?  The sense of confusion grew, and I turned back again to look at one of the struggling chicks.  I felt like a veil was being ripped from my mind.  As if a strange haze of some kind had lingered there for... well, for years.
"Father."  I said, because I started feeling memories I did not know I kept, flowing through my mind.

"You!"  I turned again to the man, who had started his laugh when I spoke, and this time it was even worse.  But before I could speak another word, the woman with the green eyes came back in the door, only now she was wearing a sleek outfit of black.  I felt a sudden stab of recognition.

"I..." but she did not let me speak; suddenly she went down on one knee and presented me with the most wicked looking sword I had ever seen.  It was shaped like the crescent moon just after she is new.  The hilt was black, and the blade was not that bright metal you often see in swords, but a curious dark grey, and gleaming.  The hilt and the first 1/3 of the blade were crusted with jewels, opalescent, but not necessarily white- they were as an opal would be were it black, with deep and bright colors captured within.  The blade started out thick in its width but narrowed along the crescent to a razor sharp tip.  And she was presenting it to me.  The feelings I had since I walked up the steps intensified, and I reached down to take the sword hilt in my hands.  As I took it, the woman glanced briefly up at me, a flash of hazel with amusement; quick as it came, it was gone.  But I knew.

I took the sword.  It knew my hand, and I it.  Memory came surging back.  I turned a pirouette with the blade held level in front of me, wicked curve out; as I spun I saw the man's smug face turning suddenly grave and fearful.  When I stopped twirling, I had only a moment to recognize what had also occurred- as I spun, my clothing changed to lithe, supple black leather armour, black but with all the colors of the rainbow muted in it- just like an oil slick on tarmac.  It was absolutely amazing, perfect; the sight of it jarred me all the way out of the veil I had on me all those years.

I looked up at the man now.
"You have defiled this place, this sacred place.  This is our rookery!  You have turned it into a chicken coop!   I know that you have killed my father... and that makes me Queen of the Magpies! This is WAR!"  I rushed at him with a loud banshee scream, and he fled.  I let him go, knowing the work had just begun.

I turned then to look at the woman, recognizing her now. She was my handmaiden, my right hand in battle.  I had not known her when I came in here, but I remembered everything now.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

career vs life... soul searching

Am I ready to give up the thing I like doing in order to live more like I want to?  All my life my dreams have been carried on galloping hooves, borne on strong backs and flowing manes across the landscapes of my mind.  I focused hard on horses through school, letting the endless focus of small animal wash over me like rain, soaking up the tid bits of horse medicine when it came.  I took this job here in the beautiful but socially desolate North East Ohio because they said I'd be doing mostly equine- which has turned out to be a lie.  Thrown into small animal, a thing I feared and loathed, I persevered.  Because I spend much of my time doing it I have, despite myself, become pretty good at it.  But meanwhile my psyche is suffering.  We have no friends here, nothing to do, no dancing, no music, nothing but our worthless jobs with bosses we can't stand to break the monotony.  At each other's throats because we lack any perspective, we risk losing what we came here to preserve- our relationship.  I followed him here because I didn't want to be without him, and this place is ruining what we have.  Our solution is to fix it, get out, move somewhere with life and vitality, where there are people, music, things to do aside from eat and shop (which are the main events up here). 

The problem I face is that there aren't horse jobs just anywhere.  In fact most of the places where horses seem to be, people really aren't.  Makes sense, really.  If I could be somewhat close to life and fun and still do what I thrive on, that would be amazing. 

Which comes to the crux of it- am I willing to give up being a horse vet in order to live somewhere I would enjoy more?  I mean, life is for enjoying, not suffering.  I want all of it- I want to do horse work, AND be in reach of my friends, AND be dancing, AND be near some goddamn culture!  What am I willing to give up?   I gave up friends for two years and I am at the end of my tether.  I'm going crazy, I am not who I was.  I can't do it any more.  I gave up culture for two years (those who say Columbus has culture or stuff to do, haven't lived anywhere else) and I feel I am going mad.  Carefully watered down Midwest crap disguised as "culture"... yogurt curd made digestable for the bible thumpin folks who can't stand the fact that there are other people who don't buy the nuclear family myth, the fact that this country isn't entirely christian or what have you, that there ARE in fact GAY people and they do have the right to life and happiness... not that I'm bitter, mind you.

I have had ENOUGH of the Midwest, thank you very much.

Anyway, what if I can't do horse work where I want to go?  Am I willing to give it up?  I fear that if I take a job all small animal, it will become difficult to get back into horses again.  Use it or lose it.  I am of course looking, I will be applying aggressively for a position to work with horses even part time.  Hell, I'm "mixed animal" now, I know I can do it and do it well.  Why not?

Thing is, it's not all bad to be small animal oriented.  Those folks get to just go home at night, have more predictable hours and business and so on.  Not a bad life, really.  Still, I love the medicine with horses, handling them, meeting them, figuring them out.  The challenges.  It's all good, to me. 

So I guess, yes.  I can't live so far away from things that make me happy anymore.  I hate this existance, there is much much more to me than just vet med.  In order to stay who I like being, I need to do more of what makes me "me" and rejoin the living.  If it means I sacrifice some of what I am doing, fine.  It's not like I'm quitting being a vet (and it's all fun anyway).   I just need to believe the right job will come, I will get to do what I want to do.  Where I want to do it.  That would be just great.  Please please please just give me a key to happiness again and get me the hell out of here.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I always feel this way.  Maybe it's Seasonal Affective Disorder, or whatever they want to call it, but really it's the winter.  The time when you must stay in, turn inward, examine what you've learned, hunker down to ride out the cold and think about what has come to pass.  Our ancestors used this time to make things that would be necessary for the coming year- knitting or weaving, sewing, carving, blacksmithing, anything that you could do to keep your hands busy and be productive and useful.  Still, you turn your thoughts in, and that can be hard. 

It's snowing.  I've waited for days for this, because snow makes winter worth it.  I couldn't live somewhere that was cold and barren and yielded no snow.  That is cruelty; that was Columbus.  Cold, naked, bare and covered in ice.  Ice!  How horrible. Snow, though; thick, fluffy, pure white.  It makes a special sussurus as it falls.  That's hard to hear where there is so much population and cars, but if you get yourself out into the middle of a winter wood you can hear the snow fall.  It makes me feel quiet, wonderous and connected to the magic of all things. 

Still, despite snow, I get quiet and withdrawn in winter.  I suppose it's natural, or it's S.A.D. as I've said before.  It doesn't matter; what it means is that I bundle up, hunker down, and turn inward.  This year I've taken to sitting quietly and knitting my heart out.  That helped a little.  My wonderful man took to reading aloud to me as miles of cloth wound out from my hands.  That made things absolutely wonderful.  Then we got me a beautiful Tiffany lamp with a full spectrum light and well!  What do you know; I can see the projects so clearly and it does seem to truly help. 

Winter makes me inward, and wistful.  I know better than to long for spring, because that is a wasted effort.  Spring will come as it always does, at around the same time.  This year we are looking forward to crocus and daffodil bulbs we put in the garden out front.  Still, it is wistfulness and loneliness- a thing made more bearable by the family of the man and critters I have around me.  It is something I am, something I do- perhaps now that I am not in my 20s anymore I can learn to accept that this is what the dark and cold bring.  Stop fighting against my nature so much and just do the things that bring me peacefulness and light; stop feeling I have a "problem" and just nurture what is needful in the winter months.  So I like to be still and quiet.  That is just how it is; give it tea, and light, and lots of yarn then, and let it be. 

Sometimes I think about the skewed version of happiness that people long for in this country, fed to them by media in popular shows and films.  Happiness in that regard is perfection, with broad smiles and ecstatic high energy life.  Well, when I see that I know that this sort of output can't last forever, it's too exhausting.  Then when it winds itself out people feel disillusioned and let down (perhaps this explains the high divorce rate?)  Have people forgotten that happeness comes in many levels?  That yes, the ecstacy of success or reunion or new love is incredibly elating, but that's not the only way?  Happiness is not struggling to survive.  It is having a full belly and feeling content.  Just content.  Being safe, warm, with your needs met, and good people around.  That is also happiness: not wanting for anything.

Am I happy, then?  Yes.  I am happy.  I am content, rather.  Perfectly so.  Would I care to improve upon it?  Most definitely; I crave a variety in friendships, other activities I enjoy that I cannot do right now, and so forth.  That would bring me more or different happiness, different levels.  So wisely, sagely and gracefully I will accept that for what I have and where I am, I am pretty damn content.  And happy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I can survive the lunatic...

She barges in while I'm examining patients and having Dr/Client conversations... because she thinks they're all her "friends".  Regardless of the seriousness of what I'm trying to address.

She talks loudly about clients and doesn't seem to care if there are other people in the clinic that can hear.

Not only does she not scrub for surgeries, she wears long sleeve shirts and bracelets and I have on more than one occasion seen her drag these things into an open surgical site.  She will also use the same pack on several (unrelated) animals.

She does not believe in pain management and thinks all animals are "drama queens" who wake up screaming.  All our patients wake up screaming, shaking uncontrollably, smashing their heads against the cage.  This would have gotten you a demerit from Anesthesia where I went to school.  When asked if we can have better pain meds I am routinely turned down because she thinks people will abuse the meds (there are only 6 employees and a lock box!) and she also doesn't believe the animals need it.

She regularly steals my cases, despite the fact that I am paid on production.  She is the one who pays me, the one who proposed the low, low salary to be supplemented with production.  WTF?  Often she will steal my surgeries and say carelessly, "well I'm faster, it'll just get done faster if I do it."  Yeah, but it's MY surgery day!  I lose money and production to my BOSS!

If something goes wrong and a client complains, she will not back her vets up.  She'll just instantly cave and give the client a huge break on the bill or whatever they want.  Without even talking to one of us first, to see what happened, or giving us the opportunity to make it right or talk to the client.

She flies off the handle and makes rash decisions, throws tantrums, breaks things (not just objects but relationships); she is vulgar and rude; she is often out of control.  She will do things like show clients her surgery sites from her breast cancer/ implants, right in the office.  We regularly lose clients because she somehow thinks this is ok.

Often she will call one employee to bitch about another.  After she unloads, she says "there!  I feel better, well, that's all."  And leave you feeling that you've backstabbed someone, participated in gossip, without ever wanting to.

It's crap.  I hate it.  It's hard enough to be a vet without dealing with someone who is certifiably insane and untreated.  Her business grew in spite of her, and this is how crazy people end up bosses and practice owners.  Please Goddess save me from this insanity, please grant me safety and sanity in my next practice.  Please please grant it soon.  I want a good, secure, steady job with liveable hours and wage, a good client base with a sweet case load, an employer/ staff I can trust... is it so much to ask for? I just want to do my job.  I just want to be a good veterinarian.  Please save me from this madness.