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:  http://www.artbible.net/1T/Gen0204_2ndTale_eden/pages/15%20ADAM%20AND%20EVE%20NAME%20ANIMALS.htm

    

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: http://www.art-imagery.com/cat.php?id=animal

        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!”  

Rooster’s Home

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   A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new Betta fish I bought at Petland Discounts.  I named him Rooster, by the way.  Cause he looks flashy, like a rooster!
 
    Well, I’ve furnished his little home with live plants, some rocks, and filtration and lighting systems.  I’m not quite done with the aquascaping yet, but this is how it looks right now: 

Say Hello to My Little Friend….

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First and foremost, I would like to apologize to the mysterious individuals who cruise this blog on a regular basis, presumably to look for updates.  According to Ye Olde Blogspot, this blog has had dozens of readers (drive-bys?  Google hit-and-runs?  Who knows?  Surely not I!), and at least a few are repeat viewers (special acknowledgement to the visitors from Deutschland, Russia, and Iran…especially Iran!  Why you cruisin’ me, Iran? Are you looking for tips to enhance the corporal punishment in your jurisprudence system, or what? )!
In any event, thanks for visiting, and I am flattered that you are interested enough to return, good reader!
So…
On Independence Day the official fireworks extravaganza took place on the West Side this year, over the Hudson River.  (The ads called it the “Macy’s Fourth of July!” which I found very vulgar and crass…were I to donate big bucks to a Bengal Tiger habitat, I wouldn’t demand to name it the ‘Miss Margo Bengal Tiger Habitat.’ Corporations are so obnoxious.)
 Meanwhile, someone(s) launched fireworks from the East River Park, where the fireworks celebration was held in previous years.  I know because I could see them from my bedroom window.  People in my neighborhood crowded to their windows, ventured out upon their fire escapes.  The fireworks were beautiful, and they made spectacular noise.  I like the way some of them are like optical illusions, which seem to explode toward your line of vision (does anyone know what I mean…?  It’s hard to explain!  I should have taken photos). 
The kid I was keeping the turtles for dropped out of rehab within 48 hours and came to collect his pets a few days later (THAT was interesting, let me tell you).  They were put back in their tiny cage and sent packing. There was nothing I could do.  Sadly, I doubt very much if either one is still living. 
I enjoyed watching them so much, though, that I walked over to the nearest crummy Petland Discounts and bought myself a new little friend.  
Truly, he is a magnificent specimen!  Fish are really hard to photograph (or maybe I’m just a bad photographer), and these photos don’t do him justice.  He’s a brilliant cobalt blue color, with dark blue tips on his caudal fins and wine-red pelvic fins.  I set him up in a 2.5 gallon tank on top of my desk.  I’m going to trick it out with moss balls and java fern after payday. 
I enjoy the betta fish very much.  He seems quite fascinated by the things in his tank, such as the gravel and the thermometer and the big round piece of sparkly granite that I propped in front of the ugly box filter.  He examines each with careful concentration.  Amazingly, he never seems to get bored. 
Jeff, the Machinist, would observe him and say:  “Well yes, he has very limited programming.”
Or at least, Jeff would say that if he was here. Which he’s not. 
My expensive neo-Freudian psychologist told me that I end relationships with people who get too close to me out of homicidal impulse.  You want to murder them, she said. 
What?  I said, very skeptical.  That struck me as preposterous.  I don’t want to kill anyone.  I don’t understand. 
You kill them symbolically by killing the relationship. 
But I’m not hostile towards these people, not angry.  Why would I…?
You don’t want to kill them out of anger or hatred.  For you, it’s necessity.  It’s survival.  They are very threatening to you.  You kill them before they kill you. 

Rehab Turtles, and Memories of Snuggles

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            Yesterday at a meeting I met a kid who was about to enter rehab and needed someone to take care of his pet turtles while he was away.  He sounded frightened and miserable.  He said that he didn’t want to surrender them to the ASPCA because he knew he’d never see them again. 
           
       I immediately had compassion for the guy.  I love my pets very much and I can’t imagine the distress I would feel if I was in his position.  I’d never be able to forgive myself if I had to abandon my animals to an uncertain fate.  I decided that I would help if I could. 
           
      I approached him and asked him what sort of turtles he owned.  Red-eared Sliders, he said.  How big are they? I asked.  He told me that they were babies. 
             
      “Did you buy them on the street or something?” I asked, because it’s illegal to buy or sell baby turtles in this state (and most states). 
           
      Long story short: the turtles have had an unhappy babyhood.
           

     The kid dropped them off at my apartment last night.  I’ve never taken care of turtles this young, but I don’t anticipate any problems.  I set them up with a lamp to provide them with light and heat.  It’s not an optimal habitat, but believe me, compared to the place they were living before, they’re staying in a suite at the Four Seasons.   
      My father had a red-eared slider once.  Named it Snuggles.  He “rescued” it from the Mexican kids down the hall, who had plucked poor, unsuspecting Snuggles from a rock by a river in California.  Poor, poor Snuggles–basking, half asleep in the sunshine, only to be seized by yelling children and taken forever from his river home…
    It was the beginning of Snuggle’s long nightmare.  

    When my father saw him, Snuggles had been living in a plastic bucket for 2 weeks in the kids’ living room.  He couldn’t get out of the water, which basically means that he hadn’t been able to sleep for two weeks.  Dad tried to explain to them that the turtle needed something above the water line on which to rest, but Dad’s Spanish was inadequate for the task at hand and the kids didn’t speak English.  

              My father emancipated Snuggles from the bucket by paying the kids with two big bags of Spicy Cheetoes.  Dad carried the turtle back to his apartment, where the hapless creature (the turtle, not my father) was to spend the next (and presumably, the last) two years of his life. 
            For the most part, Snuggles was set loose to cavort around the carpeted floor of the apartment as if he was a kitten instead of an undomesticated, aquatic reptile.  To be fair, “cavort” is the wrong word… “struggle” is more apt.  I mean, evolution did not have carpet in mind while optimizing Snuggle’s physiology.  

         The visual scenario could be quite jarring, given its improbability—a guest could be seated on the couch in the living room, say, and then a dark green turtle would appear in the room and crawl slowly across it with no particular destination apparently in mind. 

            “Is that a TURTLE, there?” a guest might ask, sounding amazed and faintly incredulous, as if they were inquiring about the appearance of a unicorn or a leprechaun.  

            Not that there were many guests in my father’s household. 

            Once or twice a week, Dad would fill up the bathtub or the kitchen sink and put Snuggles in the water so that he could swim around and soak himself.  Snuggles was fed with bits of shrimp, raw hamburger, carrot sticks, and  real pet food reptile pellets when I purchased them in a frenzy of pity. 
            Once, Snuggles went missing for 9 weeks.  After looking around the apartment, Dad thought for certain that Snuggles has shuffled right out the front door, since it was left open in the hot desert sunshine!  We looked on the stairs and the apartment grounds, but no luck.  Everyone assumed that Snuggles was gone…
            …but Snuggles was FOUND in a navy blue bag in the back of a linen closet.  Dad found him while digging around for a bike tire pump.  Apparently, Snuggles crawled into the bag and couldn’t find his way out.  When Dad found him, he was pretty light (weighed less) and was not very responsive…
            Snuggles revived, and drank water and ate, but Dad swore that Snuggles was never the same as he was prior to being trapped in the closet.  Dad suspected that Snuggles was brain-damaged from dehydration. 
             
           I think Dad was probably right.
            Now, years after the fact, I can appreciate what a perfect analogy Snuggles’ relationship with my father was to mine:
            It beat a plastic bucket.