Before I begin my list of New Year's Resolutions, and why I chose them, I want to spend some time thinking about the year I just experienced. Here were some of the highlights.
On January 8th, my (then) fiance and I adopted a little ball python from PETsMART, which we named Sammy. He wasn't eating well, and we wanted to make sure that he got a good home that would give him veterinary care. He did well for awhile, but always had trouble eating (frozen food) and shedding. Sammy was very sweet and pretty much everyone loved him. On October 8th, he passed away in the company of my (now) husband. He is buried in the backyard, next to our back porch.
On January 13th, I married the love of my life, and my closest friend. His name is Chris, and if you've been reading my posts with any regularity, you probably recognize him in name. (He's the dashing young man next to me in the picture at the left!) Here we are at the banquet after our wedding. We chose a non-traditional Justice of the Peace ceremony, because we were moving in together in two weeks and I wanted to be married first. Additionally, we wanted to keep costs down because we were going to be homeowners. We had a small wedding party, consisting of our parents, grandparents, and a few aunts and uncles. It was short and sweet. My dad took us out to brunch afterward, and then Chris and I went on our mini-moon (we saw Django Unchained, stayed at a hotel and had a steak dinner, then went to the aquarium the next day). The following week we continued living at our parent's houses, and then on January 21st, we moved into our first house. That was a big change for me, because I had never lived anywhere but with my parents (not counting a three month stint in the dorms in college - but seriously - that doesn't count!) The only pets we had when we initially moved in were my hamster, Gizmo, and my 75 gallon African cichlid tank. The tank is a mixture of all kinds of African cichlids, from a variety of lakes (yes, I know that's technically not good but for some reason it works.)
Our family grew again on January 29th, when we adopted a Bengal cat from PETsMART. (If you're noticing a pattern, I was a Pet Care Associate at the time - it's kind of a thing one does when working in a pet store.) I hadalways loved cats, but thought I was allergic. Apparently Bengal cats are considered hypoallergenic, although that's not always the case for everyone. I started my shift that morning as usual, and when my manager and I were in the cat adoption center, we kept feeling water being tossed at us. We turned around and saw "Carly" throwing water to get our attention. She suggested I adopt the cat because I love water too, and I thought about it. I had promised Chris that I would make him chili that night, but as it turned out we adopted the cat instead. We named her Chloe, though she's affectionately known as The Shitten and The Overlord. She is very vocal, loves water, and has a blood feud with every other animal in the house. She also loves watching us play video games and watching scary movies. The picture of her on the right is the first picture we took of her when we brought her home.
Things were pretty quiet at our house (I switched jobs, but was later let go and wound up at PETsMART where I am currently working) until the cichlids started breeding. I would love to tell you that there weren't many babies, or that the pet stores in the area found the babies to be worth purchasing. Neither is true. We currently have about 20 offspring in the tank. They form a sort of mafia that swims around and eats pretty much everything in their path. They are a cross between a Kenyi cichlid and an orange cichlid with purple spots (I don't know what kind it is - I bought it from a mixed tank at work). Some of the fish that I can name are my frontosa (in the picture, it's the white and black vertical stripe fish with blue fins), a moliro moorii, a jacobfreibergi cichlid, a pleco, and a synodontis multipunctatus catfish. The offending female fish that cause the outbreak of babies is right to the left of the frontosa. It's pretty funny that they're doing so well, considering that I don't keep to a regular schedule with cleaning the water, and I overfeed (they always act like they're starving!) If anything, I think the fact that I have 100 gallons of filtration on a 75 gallon tank might cause a river-like environment. The overabundance of aquarium decor might also help, but I put it in there thinking it would help with their territoriality. Aaand if I can be honest, skulls go with everything. What aquarium doesn't need some skulls?!
Over the course of the ensuing months, I got closer to some friends I thought I had lost, kept in touch with those I hadn't come close to losing, and read a boat-ton of books. Aaand I learned a few important life skills. I submit for your pleasure the following:
- Laundry does not do itself. It also doesn't bring itself down to the basement or sort itself out.
- Food does not magically appear in the fridge, oven, or your belly.
- Dirt and debris magically appear everywhere. Most often after you've tried to eliminate it.
- Being a good wife and partner does not happen immediately. It may take almost a year. It may take over a year. It's all about working things out.
- Sometimes it's better to walk away mad than open your mouth and dig yourself in deeper. The same goes for when something hurtful might come out.
- A little bit of appreciation goes further than a whole lot of bitching.
- Some marital advice from one of the happiest couples I know, "It's ok to fight, so long as you're fighting to understand. If you're fighting to win, you've already lost." Great advice in general, but especially for the newly-married!
- Free time becomes a limited resource.
- Food, clothing, utilities, and the roof over your head need to be paid for. Work accomplishes this.
- Speaking of food, that stuff costs a shit-ton! Regardless of where you shop. It's nuts!
- Also on food, eating healthy is difficult. If you want healthy, you have to cook. If you want fast, generally it's going to be shit food.
- Nobody likes to do the laundry.
All in all, the months went well. Some time in July (as soon as I know the date for sure, I'll throw it in) I came home with another animal. I brought home Sheba, our Sumatran Blood Python. Her colors are absolutely beautiful, and when she's buried in the substrate in her cage, she looks just like a leaf. I was originally nervous about her, because her type of python is supposed to be aggressive. I wasn't sure I was ready for that, considering that she's going to reach an impressive 5 to 6 feet in length. Eek! While in the pet store, I made sure to handle her for awhile. The girl working in the reptile department chatted with me for a half an hour while I handled Sheba. I explained that I wanted to be sure of the temperament, since an aggressive 6 foot-long snake is NOT something I'm ready for. Plus, one day Chris and I would like to have a child. I don't want to put them at risk (I don't really care if I get bit, working in a pet store it can be commonplace for certain species so I'm ok with that). Chris and I have already agreed that we will be purchasing showcases so that we can ensure proper habitat as well as safety. (A general note - we only feed frozen to the snakes. We thaw them and serve them on a plate. We don't want to endanger the snake as live prey can - and often does - fight back. As for pre-killed, there isn't really a humane and sure way to kill the food beforehand. I can't bring myself to kill another living thing in this situation, especially since there is no humane way to do it. Chris is the same way)
After Sammy's passing on October 7th, Chris was devastated. I had been prepared for his passing for awhile, since he hadn't been eating. We sought veterinary treatment, and gave him antibiotics at home. We did everything except force-feed (which can traumatize the pet as well as harm their sensitive jaws). Despite our best efforts he passed. On November 9th, a little over a month later, I talked Chris into going to the pet store with me. I'm not sure he was terribly excited (in fact, I can tell you he wasn't) because having me in a pet store is a bad idea. Since I get to take care of most of the animals at PETsMART, I get to fall in love with all of them too. There are only a few exceptions, Chinese Water Dragons and cornsnakes, otherwise I'd have every pet in the store! I wanted to show Chris a snake called a Western Hognose. They are considered excellent beginner snakes for a variety of reasons. They stay relatively small (only reaching about 2 feet at their largest), are extremely curious, and very tame. I was considering a Rainbow Boa because of their gorgeous coloring, but decided I didn't want another snake that would get to be 6 foot. I feel that one is more than enough! Chris fell in love with the Hognose pretty much immediately. As Chris is fond of saying, "They're so ugly they're cute!" We brought ours home and named him Milton. When Milton gets aggravated he does the funniest thing. He puffs up his cheeks full of air and makes a hissing sound. If he's just warning us (or the cat) he makes a ffft-ffft-ffft sound, where he makes short puffs one right after the other. I know he thinks he's being bad-ass, but it's just too cute! In the picture on the left, Milton is hanging out on Chris' arm.
And then, because apparently this has been the Year of the Pets, I adopted a gerbil on December 20th. Again, PETsMART. It was right before my first returning shift. It wasn't a very friendly gerbil, and I wasn't exactly the main person they thought of, as I had voiced my hatred of gerbils frequently the first time I worked there. At first I thought it was some kind of joke, but then I realized they just knew me for the sucker I am. In any event, Chris and I adopted the little gerbil who would come to be known as Ghost. And I have to tell you, he's pretty damn cute. Possibly cute enough that I will forget how bitey gerbs can be, and remember how cute they can be. He's also smart as can be (though sometimes I worry about his fascination with the cat...) He also loves to chew. I think he's going to chew us out of house and home!
That about sums up my 2013. How about yours? Write me in the comments - I'd love to hear your highlights too!