More Photos (Oct Trip)

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Beautiful view, but oceans smell weird, and I don’t trust them.   They are important for  the ecosystem, however. 

The hotel has honest-to-God functioning telephone booths.  With doors, as you see.  I remember them vaguely from my early childhood, but none had wooded paneling or oil artwork hanging inside. I thought this was funny, like gold-plating a tissue box.
Fountains are universally beloved.  There must be a psychological  explanation for this.  
If I were a plant, I would be a cactus.  But not one from Mexico.  Definitely  not.
Home again, Home again!  Landing at the airport.
Look how overjoyed Parrot is to get veggies when I returned home!  Parrot is so beautiful.  I wish I was as  beautiful as Parrot.  

Occupy Wall Street II

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       By the time I got to the General Assembly rally tonight, the crowd was pretty small–the time of day (after dark) and the rain probably had something to do with it.  The F, 6, and 4 trains were skipping stops all over downtown and the East Village/Lower East Side, which is a huge pain in the ass as well.  I got down there via train, but then couldn’t take the train back uptown.  I had to hoof it about two miles home.  It was okay; I was wearing good shoes.

     I took photos–not very good ones, because it was night outside.  Also, after thinking about it, I decided against posting pictures of the crowd where faces are visible.  I took photos without peoples’ consent.  I also recall when police intelligence forces would analyze crowd photos to identify individuals.  Not that I think cops are reading this blog (I can be paranoid, but I am not grandiose, thank you).

“Trains?  Tonight?  What made you think that we would be running trains tonight, other than the complete lack of signs  informing you and every else that service was in any way interrupted?”  

You and me both, buddy.

      On one side of the park was a sort of sign mosaic.  I hate puppets, music, and theater, but I think that signs are important in the media age.  Anyway, here are a few (the rain ruined a lot of them):

My personal favorite.  Here’s to you, Banksy.  I hate some of these assholes so much it makes my hair bleed (the banks, not the signs).  They are evil, evil institutions.  

More signs.  I like the “all I got was this lousy summons!” one.  No idea what that one is on the left.  
Does WikiLeaks have official “units” like this?  For real? 

        I’d estimate the crowd at about 500 people–that’s the protesters, not the police and media.

        It was well-run and surprisingly tidy, given that some people are basically camping there.  There was a first aid station set up, a sanitation station, a few others.  I took a phone pic of the first aid station and texted it to the Surgeon with the message “WHY AREN’T YOU HERE?” (it’s a joke).  
      Tomorrow there is a big protest at 5:30 pm–a rally for the locked out Sotheby’s workers.  Teamsters Local 814 is planning on being there, so it should be good.  And important.  820 5th Avenue (between 63rd and 64th)  
        Here is another picture of Parrot, because parrots are good for the soul.
“Hello!  I’m the most awesome parrot ever! Come to the protest tomorrow!”
  P.S.  Did anyone watch Ken Burns’ “Prohibition” on PBS?  I missed it, of course, but I got a copy and have been watching it.  It’s good!  “The Civil War” was his best, of course–I have that one on DVD–and I also liked “Jazz” and “Unforgivable Blackness” (even though I think that Jack Johnson was not so much defiant out of principle than out of character disorder, but whatever, it was still a great story and snapshot of the nation at that time).  I am sorry to say that “The War” failed to catch my imagination, even though I really wanted to love it.  I didn’t watch “Baseball,” I think most sports are for meatheads.  I am death on meatheads.  

Couldn’t Have Said it Better Myself

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Click to enlarge:  “This Budgerigar…is reacting to its toy as if it were a mate.”

         I cut this out of a parrot book and have had it hanging on my office wall for about two years now. The first time I came across it, I thought it was hilarious, in a black sort of way.  I identified with that poor stupid budgie immediately.  Imagine how lonesome and deprived it must be to willingly delude itself and bond with a fake plastic bird.  That budgie can love the fake bird with all its might for the rest of its life, but no matter what it does, the fake bird can never, ever love it back.  Hapless budgie.

Sensitive Parrot

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This is how Parrot looked today when I tried to give her a treat.  Usually she eats from my hand eagerly.

I am working on a sexier blog post (at least, sexy to me), but since I had such a crappy day, I wrote this one instead.

Also, in the bottom is Rooster’s new home.  I got tired of the substrate (that’s code for: I couldn’t deal with the algae anymore.  Too much sunlight around my desk).  

Operation Barbarossa on Curtain Rods

            I started the day with a to-do list.  The first thing I wanted to get done was to install a curtain rod support above one of my windows.  There are two windows, side by side.  One already had a curtain rod I’d installed on it months ago.  Recently, I’d found a matching curtain rod at the store, so that the two windows would have identical rods.  I just wanted the curtain rods to match, that’s all.  Following me so far? 
            I expected the project to take about forty minutes.  The windows are tall, I’d have to be climbing up and down on a step, I was doing it by myself, blah blah blah. 
           Well, it didn’t take forty minutes.  Or an hour. 
            Why?  you ask, honestly perplexed, good gentle reader. 
             Because when I said “I just wanted the curtain rods to match,” I meant itLiterally.  I had no intention of this when I started the project—I just wanted the same curtain rod set on both windows.  That’s all.  No biggie! 
            So I took measurements, installed it, and then looked at them from across the room.  The new curtain rod was slightly closer to the window and off to the left than the first curtain rod.  The difference was nominal, really (and come on, it’s not as if a photographer from Home and Garden is coming over to do a pictorial on Chez Margo).  But I suddenly decided that I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like it at all.  I wanted the curtain rods and the curtains to be perfectly symmetrical, and this unevenness just wouldn’t do.  There is no excuse for shoddy workmanship!  I would have to re-install the rod, adjust it.  Then things would look right.  Then they would look as they should
             That this neurotic, OCD Monk-esque thought popped into my head in the first place was not great.  The fact that I picked it up and ran with it was much worse.  Complicating this matter was the fact that for some reason, there was a metal plate behind the drywall of the second window where I needed to put the screws in order to make the rods “even.”  The metal plate was thwarting my endeavor; I could not make a hole big enough to accommodate an anchor and screw. 
             Did I let the fact that I would have to somehow penetrate through metal of unknown thickness and composition in order to hang a curtain rod discourage me? 
           Fuck no!  I’ll show that metal who’s boss!  I thought, breaking out my power drill and bit set. 

          Four hours, two broken drill bits, and three trips to the hardware store later (the Pakistani clerk, though silent, was looking increasingly concerned about my appearance), and I had made a half-dozen holes in my landlord’s wall and the curtain rod still was not even.  My arms hurt from lifting the tools and my legs were bent in a stress positions for minutes at a time. It was hot and I was sweating profusely and because I was doing all of this in front of the window, I thought that people on the street were probably looking at me and thinking I was totally unhinged. 

   Which I was.  I had a half-dozen other chores I’d meant to do that day, and I’d wasted hours of time on a  curtain rod that any moron should be able to install and it still was not straight. 
           (Please let me put this in a little perspective for you, good reader.  I am a very patient personality.  I can work at things like sewing or aquascaping or whatever for a long time; I’m detail-oriented, I’m not one of those people who gets frustrated after ten minutes and stops doing it.  When I see criminals on TV, the ones I think I understand the best are the bomb-makers.  The long nights in their basements or kitchen tables, curtains drawn, teaching themselves what to do and how to do it, stealthily acquiring the supplies, slowly—ever so slowly—constructing the device. The device is their baby, the thing they have poured their heart and soul into, but it is dangerous. One wrong move and they blow themselves into a fine red mist.  The constant worry of being discovered by family, co-workers, the mailman—ah, paranoia, the spice of life.  Oh yeah, I understand the way those sick cats think very well.)
            So, the condition I was in this afternoon over the FUCKING CURTAIN RODS was atypical and overwhelming to me on several different levels—I was frustrated, irritated, humiliated at my incompetency (why I expected myself to know how to do home repair is a mystery in and of itself), angry that I’d broken my drill bits, angry that I was even angry over something so inconsequential.  But by God, I was going to conquer that curtain rod!  I was the Germans launching Operation Barbarossa or Caesar going for the Helvetti. 
            And I suddenly wanted Riesling.  A bottle of Riesling.  Chilled, perfect for summertime work.  I pictured it, condensation on the glass bottle.  Dry, a dry wine.  Delicious.  Just perfect.  It would be my ally in the war against THE METAL BEHIND THE DRYWALL THAT WAS THWARTING MY WILL. 
            My rational brain said: Yes: wine and power drills and clumsy furious girl who does not know what she is doing.  GREAT LOGIC THERE, ARISTOTLE!
            I cannot drink at this time in my life.  So no Riesling for little Margo. 
            I eventually acknowledged that I was not being rational (I felt personally insulted by the curtain rod and was determined to force it, which is nuts) and that what I was doing was not working.  I had to stop.  I contacted other homo sapiens.  I left my apartment for the first time that day to meet with other homo sapiens.  It made me feel better, but I was still very tense when I came home a few hours later.  I couldn’t calm down enough. I mentally flipped through options that could help me relax. Options? I’d gone to the gym late last night and was very sore.  I couldn’t concentrate enough to read (which is very unusual for me).  I kept thinking: I want to turn off my brain by drinking a bottle of champagne and watch TV.  To check out, to just check out.  But, checking out was not an option. 
             I was restless so I decided at least I could do something productive.  I donned rubber gloves and scrubbed the bathtub maniacally with bleach and Comet and a very stiff brush (I am not a super clean freak; this violent cleaning urge was atypical of me). The grout, the tile–why couldn’t I get it a uniform color?  I was sweating.  My arm hurts now; my elbow, I have bruises on my knees from kneeling on the tile floor.  I could not get it clean enough, it had to be just right.  My Saturday night, folks.  Every time I thought it was perfect, I saw something else that needed to be cleaned (I gotta run this one by my psychologist—I suspect Sigmund. Freud would say that I was trying to scour something other than my bathtub).  Then it also occurred to me: You are doing just what your mother does.
            That gave me a case of the flaming heebie-jeebies and I ceased immediately, shucking my gloves and throwing the brush down as if it had turned into a rattlesnake in my hand . I decided to clean my aquarium instead.  It usually feels nice and soothing to work on it, and I like to know that it keeps my pets healthy. The fish are pretty and it is relaxing to watch them swim to and fro. Well, I cleaned their fucking tank so well that now the algae-eater fish literally have nothing to eat today.  Every rock was scrubbed and bleached, the gravel vacced, the plants brushed.  You could probably have preformed open-heart surgery in that tank once I was done with it, it was so sterile.  I had to add zucchini tonight so that they’d have some food till some algae grows back. Frankly, I’m surprised that I didn’t kill any of my fish, careful as I was to rinse the ornaments of cleanser after scrubbing.  Thank God I didn’t touch the filter media. 
              Then I changed the paper in my birds’ cages and gave them fresh food and water.  It makes me feel good to take care of them.  I even made a fresh veggie and nut treat for my new big parrot, the Senegal.  And get this: because birds are very sensitive, and she’d been around me and watching me all day, she was very wary of me.  I held out her treat to her for her to eat, and she sat in the corner of her cage and wouldn’t take it.  I know in her mind she was thinking: “Uhh, thanks but no thanks!  Not much of an appetite tonight!  I will stay in my corner for the rest of the day, you crazy person.”
              Broke my heart.  I had a sudden flash of empathy.  It was like if you were a little kid and your passive-aggressive mom was really tense and pissed off, and you didn’t know why,  and it made you fearful and uncomfortable, and she baked you cookies and handed one to you and said, “Here’s a cookie I made for you!  What, you don’t like it?  It’s not good enough for you?  Why won’t you eat it?” 
             I made Parrot afraid of me.  She sat in her corner and didn’t want to look at me all night.  I was not even angry with her or had done anything mean to her, but she didn’t understand why I was acting so crazily.  It never occurred to me how I must have looked to her. 
               I think that is the way it is with parents and children, and parents don’t realize it sometimes.  It’s really important to protect your kids from your shitty moods and destructive emotions, whether or not the kids have anything to do with them (your moods).  I don’t know if I’ll ever have kids—I highly doubt it—but if I did, I would try to remember this.   Like my Parrot, they lack the boundaries and perspective to protect themselves from the emotions of the adults around them.  And like my Parrot, children cannot escape.  They are essentially held hostage.  My bird could not, say, go out for the proverbial pack of cigarettes and hang out in the park for the rest of the day. 

            ……Finally, when I accepted that the curtain rods did not have to be perfectly symmetrical, I was able to install the set in less than 20 minutes.  It is two inches higher than the other window curtain rod.  Probably nobody will ever notice and even if they do, nobody will give a damn. And now I have to seal the other holes with wood filler and paint them over.  Riiiiiight. 
            I hope I learned a few lessons from this.  Important lessons.

           Update: the Parrot came out of her cage this morning and let me scratch her head.  If she forgives me, I should learn to forgive myself. 

For Rooster, Hope Springs Eternal

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          Today when I went to feed my betta fish, Rooster, and clean his home, I saw that he had built a bubble nest!  See pic: 


      Male betta fish build bubble nests in the hope that when a female betta fish comes along, she will be enticed by the nest to mate with him and spawn.  

      I feel a little sorry for Rooster.  I’m sure he built his nest with such high hopes (or the highest hopes a little fish could have).  He has no idea that he will never, ever meet a female betta fish, much less spawn.  I wonder what he would say if he had an intellect and powers of comprehension.  Probably something like, “I never signed up for this, asshole!” 

The parrot is well.  I have joined a parrot forum to learn how to make her as healthy and happy as possible.  In a few minutes, I’m going to let her out of her cage to watch TV with me.  I think Gordon Ramsay is my all-time favorite TV sadist (he’ll get some special attention on this blog in time, no doubt).  One would think that after last night’s events, I would have reached maximum saturation re: sadism and suffering, but apparently my appetite for such things is insatiable.  Relentless. 

Here’s a photo of parrot eating a nut (in case you couldn’t figure that out for yourself, haha).

Unnamed; also: Naming as an Act of Power

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        So, this parrot came to live with me a week ago and I still haven’t decided what to call her.  The Surgeon says I should name her after him, but that is not going to happen (and if you were wondering, he was not being facetious).

       I seldom read the Bible now, but I studied it on a daily basis as part of my formal education in childhood.  One of the stories that truly touched me, then and now, is of Adam naming all of the animals in the Garden of Eden.  (Genesis 2:19-20)

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

      The scene fascinated me.  I remember ruminating about it at my schooldesk (the type of desk that lifted up on top, remember?) and thinking about my family pets.  How old was I…?  8, perhaps…?  In my mind’s eye, I pictured all the beautiful animals patiently lining up to meet Adam.  A magnificent parade.  He would stroke them and speak to them, and examine them closely but gently, like the kindest and most sensitive of physicians.  If they were small enough, I imagined, he would hold them in his lap whilst he did this.

        He could only choose names for each creature after he understood its unique nature. The name had to be appropriate; perfect. Naming was both an act of love and a responsibility (a responsibility not just to the animals, but to the Lord God, who had basically assigned Adam to this task.  God was a still a relatively chill, friendly dude at this point in the story, but Adam couldn’t have passed on this job even if he wanted to.  Even nice, approachable Eden God does not like to hear, “No thank you!”  Even in Eden, one did not complain to the management).      

       I digress.  This story was the one particular thing that impressed upon me the uniqueness and the wonder of Eden. I pictured how the animals must have trusted Adam, and had no fear of him, from the largest to the smallest.  A world without fear, without malevolence, only comradeship. ‘Innocence’ has always been a slippery, difficult concept for me to grasp, but that–Adam naming the animals in Eden–that must have been a state of innocence.

I like this imagine because it’s from the 2nd Genesis, where Eve is created simultaneously with Adam, and also because everyone in the picture is smiling and looks really happy to be there.  I would be happy, too.  Source:


I like this one because of the way Adam holds his hands out to them, palms open, in a universal gesture of nonthreatening greeting.  Adam is supposed to be naked, but whatever.  Source says it’s British XIII.  Sidenote: it cracks me up when I see medieval European artistic depictions of lions–clearly, they’d never seen one in the flesh.  And what is that animal second from the right with round ears?  A bear, maybe?  Print’s in the Sloan Gallery.  Source:

        God knows what humanity has to offer the creatures of the earth today. (I am honestly astonished that the ones with the capacity for more complex emotions do not try to kill us on a regular basis, just on basic principle. Pit Bull dogs excluded; they are demented.)

       To name is also an act of power; it confers identity and acknowledges or legitimizes whatever is being named.  This is why hateful names or slurs are such effective, universal tools of oppression.  It is why I sometimes take away the names of people who want to be controlled, like No. 29.  In this way, I define their identity.

     I want to give this parrot the perfect name for her.  Usually I give my animals funny, affectionate names–my Betta fish is Rooster; I had a dog called Buddy.  I like those names, but I want to give this bird a name that conveys dignity and respect.  A human name, probably.  She already has a name which isn’t half bad, but her life has not been a happy one until recently (multiple owners, craigslist adoption–’nuff said), and I want her to have a new name to match her new life.   

     I am thinking about Lucy or Lacie.  Or Roxanne.  Petra is good, too.  Any ideas?  Send them in, please.

     P.S.:   ….but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.  With proper care, this parrot will live for thirty years.  While talking with my mother, I almost quipped that I should just name the parrot ‘Husband.’  I instantly realized that saying that to her would be unwise, so I didn’t. The thought came to me as a joke, but when I thought about it later, it made me kinda sad.

Parrot is so Beautiful
Brave Parrot Trusts Me


Poicephalus Senegalus

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“No sooner had I arrived than Miss Margo launched a strange chemistry experiment in the bathroom.  What I managed to glimpse and hear from my perch across the room was quite anxiety-inducing.  For someone with books stacked up to the ceiling, this science project of hers seems spectacularly ill-advised.  But then, I don’t think that she went to school for Biochem.  Photos to follow.  In the meantime, God help me.  God help us all!”