Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Crow Training

At a party, I recently learned that it's possible to train crows to bring you loose change that they find, and I was instantly enchanted.  That is a career that has Dana written all over it.  No phones.  No angry customers.  No forms and paperwork.  No fax machines.  Also, I like crows.  

I announced to my friends and husband that I planned to train me up a murder of crows to do my bidding.  No only would I train them to bring me change, I would train them to send letters as well.  I know eight Game of Thrones Geeks off the top of my head who I'm certain would pay me to send letters for them by crow.  

My friends and husband laughed, assuming that I was just drunk and full of bad ideas, like usual.  

They were wrong.

Of course, I had no idea how to begin.  Where does one go to find crows?  How do you make them stay?  How do you communicate with birds?  I realized that I had zero answers to these questions, and I became discouraged.  

However, one day when I was playing outside with Nadia, what should we see, but a murder of crows?  They were hanging out in the trees across the street.  I panicked, completely losing my shit.  I was not prepared!  I WAS NOT PREPARED!  I raced inside and got a piece of bread, vaguely recalling that birds like bread, and tore it into tiny pieces and threw them all over the sidewalk and yard.  The birds ignored me and flew away.

I was sad.  A friend assured me that they would come back in a week, which made me feel slightly better, but I wasn't sure I believed that it was true.

It was true.

One week later, the crows were back.  But this time, I was prepared.  I had a jar of peanuts, ready and waiting.  I sprinkled them all over the yard and sidewalk, while my two year old daughter snatched them up and ate them, giggling because Mommy was throwing food everywhere, which was obviously an attempt to create a wonderful new game.  Eventually I got her to stop eating the peanuts by simply taking her back inside.  But when I went out later to check, all the peanuts were gone.

The next day, again, Nadia and I went outside, and again the crows were there.  Again, I threw peanuts for them, and went back inside.   Repeat.  Repeat.

Then, one day, the number of crows increased.  As soon as Nadia and I went outside, they FLOCKED to my house.  It was one of the strangest things I have ever experienced.  Because they didn't just hang out in a tree - they SURROUNDED us.  They landed on top of the house, on the telephone wires, on every tree in the backyard, and every tree in the front yard.  

The rush of feelings was intense.  First of all, I felt powerful and effective.  I had done it!  I was the Queen of the Crows!  But on the heels of that elation, was very real fear.  Because being surrounded by dozens of watchful crows is creepy as fuck.  

I took Nadia back inside.

Later, I told Phil about my crow luring, skimming over the amount of effort and time I'd actually spent doing it, and he was less than pleased.  Turns out, he has no desire to live in a Crow Kingdom, and was pretty adamant that I cease all crow training operations immediately.  I pouted a little, but in reality, I think I was kind of relieved.  

And so, my crow training days have come to an end.  Phil made a solid point that we don't want our house and cars to be covered in crow shit, and I do agree with that.  Also, I don't want Nadia to get her eyes pecked out if she accidentally angers them.  Crow time is over.

For now.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Fifteen Commandments

Raising a child forces you to think a lot about morality.  Because you want your child to be a good, moral person, and it's almost entirely up to you to make sure that that happens.  So, it's important to ask yourself "What is a good person, anyway?"  That's what I've been doing, while I lay in bed at night, panicking about my parenting.  And I've come up with Dana's Fifteen Commandments for Being a Good Person.  These will be the foundation of Nadia's moral education.

So, without further ado - The Fifteen Commandments.

1) Refrain from harming others, whenever possible.  Never abuse children or animals, or anyone over whom you have power.

This is probably the most important commandment.  It's better than "love thy neighbor as thyself" because lots of people are self-hating, and they treat themselves like shit.  Also, the definition of "neighbor" is open to interpretation, which I find sort of apalling.

2) Cultivate kindness - try to always act kindly, and maintain a kind attitude.

This is sort of an extension of commandment one, but I feel it's necessary to include it.  Just so there's no loopholes.

3) Do charity.  Help others whenever possible.  Do volunteer work regularly.  

I'm trying really hard to find some kind of volunteer work that I can do with Nadia, but it's hard because she's two, and can't really do much yet.  I found one opportunity, reading to small children in doctor's waiting rooms, but I hesitate to bring Nadia into germ infested sick rooms, every week.  So as of now, I'm a shitty person.  But I'm working on it.

4) Have courage.  Stand up to cruelty wherever you see it.  

5) Have a sense of humor.  I absolutely believe that failing to have a sense of humor is a moral failing, and a rather serious one at that.  Don't be a grim, humorless douchebag.

6) Be curious.  Always be learning something, and keep your curiosity whetted at all times.  You can't force yourself to be intelligent, but you can force yourself to learn, which is just as good in most cases. Don't let your mind become dull.

7) Be an interesting person.  Never let fear of ridicule or fear of failure stop you from trying things.  It's better to do something badly than never do anything at all.  The more experiences you have, and the more things you do, the more interesting you will be/become.  Boring people are usually just scared people.  Or people who have neglected to cultivate their curiosity.

8) Monitor your words.  Don't engage in harmful or potentially harmful gossip.  Be honest whenever you kindly can.  Don't spill others' secrets.  

I firmly believe that there are such things as "good lies" and "bad lies", and you should be morally mature enough to understand the difference between "Don't worry about it.  I'm sure no one noticed the broccoli in your teeth," and "Mr. Lester is a pedophile.  Let's burn his house down."  That's why I say be honest "whenever you kindly can."

9) Be loyal.  Be loyal to your spouse,  your family and your friends.  Protect them to the best of your ability.  Don't shame them in public, even if they deserve it.  Stand up for them and help them when you can.

10) Keep your germs to yourself.  Never go out in public and/or touch things and/or cough when you're sick with something contagious.  Don't spit gum anyplace but a trash can.  Do not spit on birthday cakes.  Better yet, don't spit at all, ever.  Use condoms when you should.

11) If you develop a drug or alcohol addiction, that doesn't make you a bad person.  But you must get treatment.  Don't force the people who care about you to watch your decline, and/or support you like you're a child.

12) Don't steal anything that will be missed.

13) Sex is fine, rape is not.

14) Do not kill other people except in self defense, or as an act of kindness (euthanasia).  

15) Use birth control, preferably at all times, unless you're actively trying to get pregnant.  Yes even if you're not sexually active.  Because you never know.   Also, it's good to remember that not all sex is consensual, and you don't want to be in the awful situation of having to choose between an abortion and a rape pregnancy.