foreword

Page One

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I.

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I’ve said it before in my writing:  there have always been animals. my earliest memories contain chickens, dogs and cats. and so it went on for fifty-five years, almost without exception. always various animals of various species. I refer to these gatherings as animal families, and that’s how I’ve regarded them for many years. no less important a family than one made up of humans, no less necessary to me in my living.

when this way of life was taken from me in 2008 by some of my “fellow” humans, when the fourteen animals I had at that time were removed from an unholy priest’s garage, stashed in various places, and never seen again, it was a damaging and huge trauma. it has changed me not for the better, has changed the way I have to exist both in the world and inside myself, for good. These changes are millstones around my neck, are pain and loneliness, are an ever-increasing hardening towards human beings.

my life has been lived on a background of relative darkness even before that event. the darkness of chronic, monopolar depression that has affected me since at least the age of ten. the darkness of having asperger’s syndrome: all the non-average perceptions and anxieties, the isolation from non-autistics, the social difficulties. I had my various bright lights, my lifelines that I clung to over the decades of this darkness. in certain ways, for decades my human family was one of those lights, one that went irrevocably out when I was forty-five. other lights were nature and music, art and books, writing and other creating. but the brightest lights of all in my existential darkness (brightest because they did me no harm), the strongest lifelines, were animals. they sparkled in my heart’s landscape exactly the way the stars glitter up the night sky, and it was sometime in the 90’s that I began calling them my stars.

the animals, the stars, I write about in this book are from the years 1953, when I was born, to 2006. there is a separate book for the stolen animals, the ones who remained to me after September 2006.

I’ve made many mistakes with animals over a lifetime, mistakes of all sizes. for which I have always carried the weight of remorse, and always will. I’m not complaining. I happen to believe that people should carry the remorse for the times they have not lived up to their own personal code, and that they should make amends where possible. I own my remorse, and don’t want rid of it.

but the other side of my lifetime coin with animals is that I’ve loved them deeply and with respect. for every time that I’ve made some sort of mistake with them, there is also a time when I’ve pushed my body or my money or my heart to my outermost limit for their sakes. I’ve sacrificed for their sakes. have spent a lifespan being ridiculed, and even attacked in various ways, over my love for them.

this book is a gift and a tribute to many of the animals who have enriched and shone light into the murk and dusk I live in. their contributions to whatever measure of honesty and loyalty and delight I have had in my years cannot be overstated. I hope that as you read you will feel at least a fraction of the affection I have felt for them, and the admiration. I hope you’ll use the comment section to share stories of animals you have loved and been enriched by, that you’ll take part in the stories of these friends, these stars, with stories of stars of your own.

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II.

after fifty-five years of having multiple animals, after the stealing and killing of those fourteen in 2008, I was a year and a half with no animals at all, two years with no apartment. I was renting a bedroom in a woman’s house on 30 october 2009, when she suddenly said I could have an animal. I wasted no time. bought a guinea pig at the pet shop the very next day. here is a bit about the princess, the only animal I currently have (still I starve for a family), taken from the blogs:

a few posts behind this one I have one titled when comes a new october, and just now I have finally finished it. october ended with a new life coming to me on the exact day that another very much loved life had gone. my therapist said to me this past friday, “you love fiercely.” it’s only taken him a few months to figure that out, as compared to the fact that the department of mental health never figured it out in a whole year.

the new life is a five-week-old guinea pig called shiloh-chailín, bought on halloween. chailín is pronounced haleen, and she is named for two of the nine cats who were stolen from me on 12 march 2008.

so this small child starts her time with me living in one bedroom, and not knowing what will happen from day to day, as once again I am renting from a person of sharp vicissitudes. still homeless, in the sense that I have no apartment, no private space with no other humans in it. I was told I could have an animal, but will that still be true tomorrow or the next day? I hope so, because I’m very grateful that the landlady came out with this all on her own: that I could have an animal. I never would have dared to ask for such a thing. but when a person exhibits frequent and extreme changes of mood, I feel I’m always standing on shifting sand. I can’t count on anything.

having an animal of my own again, after nearly twenty months since my family was stolen, is both wonderful and terrible. I suppose I’ll say more about that in the days to come. here she be:

the princess at five weeks old

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and now it’s august 2010, and now we live in turners trolls, in a ponystall of a unit that I could never call an apartment. It’s more a large walk-in closet with a bathroom and a microwave attached to it (I am claustrophobic). in a few days she will be eleven months old. I am not kidding about the princess part. shiloh-chailín has evolved into a tin-pot dictator, and I am at times her humble servant, at other times nothing more than slave. she is the most demanding, bossy and spoiled guinea pig I have ever had. she may well be the most demanding and spoiled of any animal I’ve ever had. the spoiled comes from being an only child, getting all the doting that I normally would share around with all of the family members. I don’t know where the bossy and demanding come from. but she’s also affectionate and loves to cuddle and casts me worried looks from her cage when I’m in a lot of pain from autoimmune attacks. she is one smart princess.

photos from two months ago, when she was nine months.

chomping broccoli, which she has only recently come to like, on the floor of the ponystall in which we reside.

and here we are in our travelling basket. we go to the river with mommy in this basket. and so far, just once, we’ve made the longer trek to the canal. the princess is not delirious about these outings, but she tolerates them well enough, as she understands that mommy has had dogs and cats to walk outside with all her life, and now has none. you will note that the princess travels with her teddy bear. she also owns a stuffed dog she’s very partial to. I’ve never before given such toys to any of my guinea pigs, and my other guinea pigs probably would have shown no interest in them if I had. but the dictator is extremely fond of and possessive about her two stuffed animals.

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further ahead in the future again. now it’s Saturday 30 October 2010, and the princess of peruvian cavies and I are having our first anniversay. it has been a year of servitude and ever-increasing spoiling. she always manages to think up something new that she wants to have exactly her way, so that every time I believe I’ve learned every single thing that will meet with her approval, she comes up with yet another idea on how I have to adjust things to please her.

two weeks ago she climbed into the refrigerator and peed in it, claiming it as her own. our refrigerator is a mini-model, and she has known for ages that her treats are kept in it. she comes waddling and chattering every time I open it. for a while it was okay to just stand there at the open door, waiting for what I would bestow. then it became necessary for her highness to stand up with her little hands on the edge of the open vegetable drawer.  finally even that wasn’t enough. we had to pee on the fridge floor and thus mark our royal territory.

no, she doesn’t run loose willy-nilly. I’m not stupid. she has a daily supervised playtime outside her cage for two-to-three hours. this gives her ample time to exercise, take a cat-nap with her stuffed animals, survey her queendom and decide what needs to be changed to suit her.

for our anniversary offerings I’ve presented her with a big bag of sweet meadow hay (a type of hay she hasn’t tried before), organic carrots with the greens still on (organics with greens are her most favorite carrots), and an addition to her stuffed animal collection. she now has a skunk, black-and-white as she is, and the skunk is a standing skunk. he doesn’t lie or sit lazily like her other animals. he stands up and puts his face right in hers. she’s still studying this new kind of standing animal very intently, and I, the slave, wait to see if she will decide to love him.

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III.

a family now, a tiny one, after almost exactly four years since the stealing of the family I had. on thursday 9 February in 2012, shiloh-chailín and I became the proud mother and big sister of two four-week-old parakeets. one is mostly bright yellow (with some accents of lime-green), and the other is sky-blue and white. the naming process resulted in canarie-canajoharie and cerulie-cerulean.

I guess that when I use the word proud, I’m speaking strictly for myself. miss princess guinea pig does not seem delighted to finally have siblings, something I’ve wanted for her since the day I brought her to my rented bedroom two and a half years ago. now the siblings are finally here, these bright birds that turn us from a couple into a family, and she is distinctly less than thrilled. jealousy is a great part of it. she has been an only child for so long, and so pampered, that sharing mommy with a couple of little brats who talk too much is rather beyond the pale. I hope that in time she’ll come to have at least some small appreciation of her yellow and blue sister and brother.

we’re allowed to have one more family member in our new apartment… a cat. still seeking. who will it be?

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who will it be? she is judah-meredith (judy-mery for the nickname), eight weeks old, black and grey tabby, arrived on 21 March, the second day of spring, the birthday of bach. the family that I am now allowed by someone else to have is at last complete: we are all together now. I wonder how long will that last. you only have to read in my book stolen stars (link below) to understand why I have apprehension about how long it may last.

  1. Babs said,

    August 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm · Edit

    Ah, yes. I too, serve a furry four legged master. It has been years since I have needed an alarm clock as HRH enjoys a very early breakfast. Isn’t it funny how such a big personality can come in such a small package.

  2. braon said,

    August 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm · Edit

    I always find that all animals have very large animalalities indeed, and that there is as much variation in them as there is in human personalities.

    you see the feline excellence in subliminal communication. HRH understands that rising in the early morning is healthy for you, and he is doing his best to keep you well. he further knows that deep down you ENJOY the early morning, but that left to your lazy human devices, you would sleep through it. he’s giving you something you value and helping you conquer human sloth.

  3. Babs said,

    August 23, 2010 at 10:19 am · Edit

    Oh, it’s a Public Service!! Thank you, Mittens for making sure that I never miss a sunrise, it is indeed the nicest part of the day.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    read…    Stolen stars

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2011-2013 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.

 

 

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Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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