Rat Rescue

“Are those ferrets?” the guy two seats down from me asked.  Between us a girl had just sat down and placed an animal carrying case on her lap.  She opened it up, took one of the two critters out, cuddled and kissed him.  Ferrets?  I knew better.  Yes, their little black faces were cute.  But I’d recognize those tails anywhere.  I had done a rat dissection at the beginning of the semester and the thing I had the most trouble getting past were the tails.  They just creeped me out.  Cut open human bodies?  No problem.  I can do that.   Rats?  Ugh.

So rat girl proceeds to tell dreadlocks guy that no, they are not ferrets.  They are, indeed, rats.  “Really?” he asks.  Like any activist dedicated to her cause, she takes this as the opportunity to explain to us how it is she’s come to have them.  “They were used in experiments at Columbia.  After the students are finished with them, if they don’t take them home then they just put them in the freezer.”  She’s part of a rat rescue.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A rat rescue.

Dreadlocks guy was fascinated.  As was I.  We peppered her with more questions, which she gladly answered.  Turns out she was on her way to Scarsdale to do a home visit.  Yes, if you want a rat, your home has to be up to snuff.  And if you know anything about Scarsdale, you’ll realize how wild this whole thing is. If you don’t know about Scarsdale, I’ll just say this: I don’t think there exists a home in that town that’s not up to snuff for a King, let alone a rat.

Dreadlocks guy excused himself to catch his train, but not before wishing her well in her work.  I continued to question her.  As she told me how she got involved in rescuing rats, I looked in this girl’s eyes   Then gave her a once over.  She was beautiful.  And dressed like she was going to Scarsdale.  You’d think she was carrying a priceless diamond in that box.  And by the way she talked about these animals, they were just that.

In fact, the family she was going to visit considered getting their daughter a rabbit.  But then heard about the rats.  “They’re much more playful than rabbits,” my new friend explained.  She was right.  I had rabbits growing up.  These little guys were definitely more interactive with her than my rabbits had ever been with me.

“Rats get a bad rap.  People see these guys and they think they’re cute until they hear the word ‘rats.’  The word just sets people off.  Those ones in the subway?  They’re just hungry.  Like any other critters.”

I had to catch my train, but thanked her for sharing her story and wished her well.

On Living Vicariously

“I mean, don’t get me wrong,” she said.  “I love my kids.”  Then she lowered her voice: “But if I had to do it all over again…”  She stopped and looked at me – frowning, her slightly parted lips showing her clenched teeth.  I knew what she was saying.

I had just told a group of women I hadn’t known for more than an hour about my latest plan to travel the world.  “Oh, do it!  And write about it, so we can live vicariously through you!”

Upon reflecting on their words, I thought about how many times I had heard them.  There are quite a few people out there who live vicariously through me.  Thankfully, I don’t feel any pressure from this.  But I do sometimes wonder – why live vicariously through me?  Why not just go out there and live the life you want to live?

I’ve heard all the excuses.  “Oh, but I have kids.”  Um…yeah.  So do a lot of people.  It’s entirely possible to move to India with kids.  Easy? No.  But possible? Totally.  “And the mortgage.”  I wonder how many people would buy houses if they knew how many times they would let their dreams float by because of a looming mortgage payment.  And by the way: people rent out their houses.  Even sell them.  Easy?  No.  Possible?  Yes.

But most people don’t want to hear that it’s possible.  Because then they’d feel worse that they’re not doing it.  Safer to hold on to the excuse.  I know – I do the same thing.  How long have I been talking about living in Europe?  Traveling the world?  Starting a business?  But I’m worse – I don’t have the excuses, yet still I don’t go.

Before I beat myself up too much, let me clarify.  I don’t have their excuses.  But I have my own.  Lack of preparation, lack of knowledge about how to do it, four jobs – three of which I technically committed to until June.  Blah, blah, blah. Hogwash.  All of it.  Lack of preparation?  I’ve been preparing for a trip like this most of my life.  How to do it?  It’s not rocket science.  I’m sure I could figure it out.  Jobs?  I get more job offers in a year than I know what to do with…leaving one or two or three is entirely possible.  People do it all the time.

So go ahead.  Live vicariously through someone else.  But just for a few minutes, realize your excuses are just that – excuses.  And entertain the idea that anything is possible.


The Eharmony Experiment

NB?  What does that stand for, I thought to myself as I perused my latest eharmony “match.”  Did they seriously try to set me up with someone from New Brunswick?  As is Canada? As in north of Maine?! Yes, they did.  It’s a “flex match” they tell me.  Yes, I’d have to be quite flexible to date a guy living in New Brunswick.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d like to meet someone.  But I’d like to actually meet them.  As in take a short drive and actually see them face-to-face.  That doesn’t happen so easily with a guy who lives in NEW BRUNSWICK!  Did I mention the previous match was from Idaho?  C’mon eharmony.  Yes, I paid only $20 a month for three months.  And yes, there weren’t too many choices close to home.  So yes, I told you I’d take guys 200 miles away.  But that’s as far as I’m going.  There are millions of people in NYC – there’s bound to be someone there for me.  Apparently not, they tell me.  I have yet to get a single match from any of the five boroughs.

To their credit, I have been sent plenty of matches.  According to eharmony, I have a high liklihood of hitting it off with men who have children and like to ride bikes (dirt, motor, apparently I like them all).  You might be saying, “Wait – can’t you specify that you want a guy without children?”  You’d think, but no.  You can specify you don’t want kids.  You can also specify that you don’t want a guy who wants kids.  You can also say you don’t want a guy who has kids living full-time at home.  But this is America.  Most divorced men who have children don’t have them living at home full-time.  So who do I get?  Men who don’t want kids because they already have them.

So though I haven’t been too successful at finding a date, I am getting some good laughs paging through the potentials.

It’s only been two weeks.  I’ll keep plugging along and keep you all posted;)