Friday, December 24, 2010

"everything's eventual" (apologies to Stephen King)

So, this blog is over. Dead. Ended. It seems fitting I should post this on Christmas Eve, the internet equivalent of shrieking into a vacuum.

The reasons for this blog's demise are twofold, and both indescribably painful:

1. The last post I made here took everything out of me. Every time i tried to come back to write, I saw it, and I couldn't think of anything else except my poor cat's dead limp body and how everything smelled that day.

And, more recently and painfully,

2. There is no more MirandaThom. One could say that Thom is now blogging at He has yelled at me that telling people what he did is "very unflattering" to me, but I think if you do something so hurtful and deliberate and dishonest that people's opinions of you change just from hearing it, it says more about your actions than about any aims or goals of the person you hurt. I think sometimes people should choose their actions when considering how much they will hurt people who care about them before screaming about how the people react, especially when said actions are engineered to occur at a stressful time and in the most painful way possible. I think it's pointless to conduct oneself in such an amoral, cavalier, dishonest, and hurtful manner and then cry for "privacy." But what do I know? I doubt anything I say is taken seriously, by anyone. If people judge others on their hurtful actions, I have no control over that. If people carry out malicious actions designed to hurt me, I have the right to discuss it with the people who are my friends. The ones who don't lie to me. Besides, nobody reads this anyway.


I want to leave the blog up, because I want people to know what happened to my cat, and I want my story to not die. There need to be records of these things. I'm sick of people hurting others and getting away with it. If other people are hurting because Petsmart killed their beloved pet, I want them to know they're not alone, and to be able to contact me if they want to talk.

Regardless, if you actually liked reading what i wrote here - and I did enjoy writing most of it - I am going to be blogging in the following places:

1. New personal blog: Operemur Bonum/. i will be so embarrassed if the Latin is incorrect. I will be posting media recommendations, vegetarian recipes, cat pictures, and probably little else. The blog's full title is Dum tempus habemus, operemur bonum: "While we have the time, let us do good."

2. I'm going to be blogging occasionally at Geek Buffet. I am very excited about that opportunity.

I hope some of you will follow my writing at either or both of these. I am also developing a blog for my freelance tutoring / editing, but that will be likely focused on and targeted to English language learners. If anyone is interested in that, email me.

Regardless, thanks so much for your support and enthusiasm. Especially thank you to those of you who commented on the entry about my cat, who passed the entry along, who signed the petition. That means a lot to me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

the most important recommendation i can make to you

Today's recommendation has been almost a year and a half in coming. If you read through, you will see why. This might be triggering for some people. I know it is for me. But I need to write this so that maybe, someday, the right thing will happen, and to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else. All I really ask is that if you read this, please try and be respectful of what happened to me and how it has affected my life. All I ask is that you respect my pain and grief even if you don't agree with the reasons for it.

Every time I have tried to write this since December 2008, I have gotten physically ill and just couldn't do it. But today i am forcing myself to. I know I'm going to be sick the rest of the day, but I have to do this.

Consider this entry an open letter to the CEO of Pets Mart, Philip Francis.

Today's recommendation is boycotting Pets Mart because their groomers killed my cat. Pets Mart kills pets.

Dear Mr. Francis:

My cat, Einstein (or Ei[se]nstein) was my life. He was beautiful. I got him when I was 16 years old - he was a 12 week old rescued runt kitten born to a Persian my dad's friend rescued from a cat mill. He was fun, affectionate, and a good friend. Although I did not have papers for him, he was purebred.

When I moved to Indiana in 2008, he sat on my lap for the majority of the 12 hour trip. He was in good health and loved his new, spacious apartment (that I paid the rent for).

On December 17, 2008, I was about to leave to visit my boyfriend after the end of my first semester out here. As it was finals, I realized at the last minute that I had forgotten to schedule a grooming appointment for Einstein and I did not want the cat sitter to have to deal with grooming or brushing him herself.

Einstein had been to the groomer many, many times in his life, and had also been groomed at home by me. Each time I took him to a groomer, they gushed about how easy he was to work with, how friendly he was.

Because I worry, I worried each and every time. But he was fine. Each time I groomed him, he was obviously not happy, but he was cooperative and never displayed any ill effects.

Except for the one time in my life I patronized Pets Mart. Specifically, the location at 240 N Gates Dr, Bloomington, Indiana.

I was happy, at first, that they had gotten him in on such short notice. I wasn't feeling well that day. I got out of the car and slipped on the ice. I had a fleeting thought that I should reschedule this. I didn't. If I had, everything would have been different.

I dropped him off. While I waited in line, I snapped a picture of him in his carrier and emailed it to my Livejournal, hoping to do a before/after picture. "Take good care of him," I said to the dumb girl who checked him in (and also apparently killed him). "He's all I've got."

And that was it. That was the last I ever saw him alive.

I walked to Old Navy, intent on idly window-shopping until they were done with him.

While I was at Old Navy, less than 15 minutes after I dropped him off, I got a phone call from Pets Mart. They said that he was "panting heavily" and that "his tongue turned blue." Involuntarily I let out a horrified gasp. I asked if he was okay. They didn't answer, and only told me to come over there.

I sprinted back to the Pets Mart, where my life unraveled.

I ran to the groomers, my hands shaking. They told me to go to the vet people. The receptionist did not get off the phone or acknowledge my presence. I called Thom, my boyfriend. I was panicking.

As I told Thom what was going on, I noticed the groomers watching me through their window, pointing at me.

At one point I sank to the floor. Not once did anyone acknowledge me, ask if I was all right, or offer any updates. I started sobbing. I don't really remember how long that went on and at one point everything kind of grayed out. Finally I was told to go into a back room. As I entered, the dumb girl who checked me in came storming out.

That was it. It was over. All the manager said over and over was, "We're sorry." I could not process this as realty. I still can't, on many levels. I sat there uncomprehending. I asked to talk to the vet, who was one of the most condescending and sneering individuals I have ever had the misfortune of dealing with, and I am not just saying that because she killed my cat. She rolled her eyes and obviously could not hurry away fast enough. She tried to sell me an autopsy. Nice, huh?

For hours, I sat there. Nothing was done to preserve my privacy or dignity. As I sat sobbing and holding my dead cat, the receptionist's child or some customer's child kept peering into the window of where I was sitting. I didn't know what to do. I had just moved here. I barely knew anyone. All I had was my cat. And he was taken from me by some hourly-wage employees of a big box store. I had no idea what to do. I wanted to call the police, but I was waiting for someone, anyone, to advocate for me, to help me negotiate what had literally always been the product of my irrational worrying imagination.

At one point, the manager asked how old my cat was. "Nine," I said.

"That's a real long life for one of them flat-faced cats," he said. What compassion! What empathy! Also, what an incorrect statement! ("Typically, the life span of a Persian is 15 years and up.") My cat was not old. He was middle-aged and in good health, and his life was cut short due to this company's incompetence.

At another point, someone - I don't remember if it was the vet or the manager - said in an offhand way that "sometimes cats like that just get scared to death."

I would like to know what "scared [my cat] to death." It is my hypothesis that they gave him something to 'calm him down' for the grooming, and killed him either via overdose or because he wasn't supposed to have things like that. He had a recent (within 3-4 months) certificate of health from a vet, and as the person who took care of him, he had been his usual self even that morning. A lot of people sneer at me that they think it was just "something that happened" and that they didn't really kill him. But between his track record of good behavior / experiences at the groomer and recent bill of clean health, I truly believe that the grooming employees at the Bloomington, Indiana Pets Mart were directly responsible for my cat's sudden death, and I hope someday they are held accountable for it. I do not understand how they allowed an animal to go into that much distress, why they didn't call me immediately, and why they delayed speaking to me once I arrived at the store. Yes, there are always variables when working with animals, but

This was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I had no idea what to do and nothing was offered - no solutions, alternatives, explanations. The implication, particularly from the vet, was that . I said I would like to have him cremated, which I guess is a mistake, but I was trapped in that little room. My only alternative seemed to be to drive with my cat's dead body in my car to somewhere where someone might help me, and I had no idea where that was. I could not think rationally or objectively. I feel that the way the staff treated me was intended to get me to feel powerless, so they could cover up their handling of my cat. Not only was the most important being in my life killed, I was made into a spectacle.

My knees almost buckled as I walked out with the empty carrier. I wanted to scream at the people going into the groomers, Don't do it! They will kill you precious pet!

It wasn't until 8 hours later that the picture of him in his carrier showed up on my journal. It was strange and terrifying. Like a ghost.

This, though disjointed, is how I understand the aftermath of this incident:

The holidays are ruined for me forever.

I cannot look at pictures of my beautiful cat. I cannot talk about him or share memories or remember him. Nine years of happy memories were erased by one horrendous afternoon in a hateful big box store, holding his dead, cold body while idiots bullied me into making the wrong choices.

I cannot drive by one of those stores or see any of their commercials or ads without feeling sick to my stomach and lightheaded.

In ways I do not wish to discuss in detail here, this incident has severely impacted my ability to make a living or continue my studies.

This incident has never ended and never will. Yes, as many people have pointed out, I have other cats now - because I have a strong commitment to animal rescue (saving lives - a strange concept to Pets Mart, I am sure) - and felt that if anything positive could come out of this, it would be saving the lives of other cats. They are good cats, but I wish that my having them had not come about in this way.

I have no power; I am a poor graduate student who will likely be destitute forever. I half-expect the corporation to come in and shut my blog down over this.

Yes, I realize that losing people is much more terrible and injustices worse happen all the time. That's part of why I haven't posted this. But all I know is that this is the worst thing that has happened to me and nothing in my life has really been okay since. Every single day, I cannot shake the searing, crushing, totalizing guilt that if I had just gone to the OTHER big-box groomer - or even a better, smaller one - everything would have been different.

I cannot shake my discomfort with the fact that those people are just going on with their lives, and will never be held accountable for what they did to my cat, and to me.

Finally, I cannot stop wondering about whether he hurt, or was scared, or was angry at me. If his life ended with confusion and terror, if he thought I had abandoned him.

What do I want from Pets Mart?

Since I am assuming that they can't raise the dead, not that much. As far as I know they cremated him for free, and they even gave me a bottle of water when I was hyperventilating, eventually. Class acts! Free water and cremation with every pet they kill!

I would, however, like:

1. A written acknowledgment that this was their fault: not just my cat's death but the condescending, degrading way in which I was treated.

2. An assurance that the groomers who killed my cat that day are no longer working with animals or, god forbid, children.

3. An assurance that they are enacting more store-wide policies to better prevent such incidents from occurring. An acknowledgment that due to their handling of my situation, this horrible event became infinitely more traumatic than it had to be.

4. Paying for the treatment necessary for my ability to function after this incident would be nice, too. I do not want to discuss this in detail in this format.

5. A demonstration of empathy and compassion. The entire time i was there, I was treated much like a shoplifter or a nuisance.

What do I want from you?

1. Boycott Pets Mart. Avoiding one big box store is not that hard. Write them a letter why if you feel like it: Tell them that due to the incident on December 17, 2008, at the Bloomington, Indiana location, in which the groomers killed a customer's purebred cat, you will not be patronizing their store any more. If you feel like it, tell them that you strongly condemn the way they handled that situation

There are many local alternatives in many communities. If you must go to a big box store, PetCo seems to have a better record. If you don't live near anything, try If you live in Bloomington, T&T Feed and Seed is a wonderful pet supply store and I have heard great things about Delilah's.

2. Please share this story. The more the word is out, the bigger an impact this will have on their bottom line. Since they do not care about the reasons their customers come (i.e., the animals they love as family members), it is obviously important to hit them where it hurts, which is their profit line. This needs to be the public relations nightmare that it should be. Repost, link, retweet, tell your friends - please.

3. Just -- exercise and demonstrate compassion and kindness, to everyone, to all living things. So many people surprised me in terrible ways by saying insensitive, insulting, condescending, or even horrific things to me (up to and including the statement that they "hope[d] Einstein's death was slow and painful.")

If you are an attorney licensed to practice in Indiana, and would like to discuss this matter, please contact me. I would still like to believe there is justice and fairness in the world. I can be contacted at mirandom at gmail dot com and am willing to travel to discuss this matter.



Petition is here.

Reliving this was incredibly painful and upsetting for me. I hope if you read this, it wasn't quite as bad for you.

Thank you so very much if you read this.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

what more can you give or risk than a life?

It's been a long time since I stayed up all night reading a book, but that is exactly what I did the other day with Every Man Dies Alone. (ACHTUNG, that's an AMAZON link) by Hans Fallada (Don't worry, FTC, that was Wikipedia!).

I guess I'm a little twisted, or maybe I have been watching too much Daria on the box set. Either way, my light summer reading can best be described as "a five hundred page novel about living and resisting to Nazi rule." But wait!

The novel follows Otto and Anna Quangel's campaign of resistance against Hitler. The campaign is ineffectual - immature, even. They write and drop tiny postcards, often in rhyme, deriding Hitler.

Every Man Dies Alone is an intricately plotted, suspenseful ensemble novel. It's a weird novel. For one thing, it's enormous. The sheer scale of characters, points of view, and relationships is reminiscent of Dickens or Hugo. Yet it is informed with a postmodern sensibility.

What I hate about World War II literature and film produced after the war is that it's all so heavily weighted with its own importance. It's filled with wink-wink, nudge-nudge, look, HISTORY and salient details meant to remind you that, oh my god, IT IS OCCURRING DURING HISTORY. Radio broadcasts are abnormally loud; hairstyles are exaggerations; certain bombings become plot devices. That doesn't mean it's bad, necessarily, I am just annoyed by the excesses of devices that scream HISTORY!

Every Man Dies Alone, however, is different. Written in a 24-day frenzy right after the war, Fallada never lived to see its publication. He had spent most of the war in a Nazi insane asylum.

While the translation is a bit stilted, particularly the dialogue, I think in a certain sense it works for the novel because it captures the forgotten, archaic, or awkward turns of phrase used mid-century, though they aren't in the original language of the novel.

I loved this book. I didn't expect to. I was used to stories of WWII resistance involving parachutes and hiding people, not tiny guerilla campaigns whose effects linger in the form of the written word.

From Geoff Wilkes' afterword to the book: "[Anna] protests that this initiative is 'a bit small,' but he points out hat 'if they get wind of this, it'll cost us our lives,' prompting her to reflect that 'no one could risk more than his life,,' and that 'the main thing was, you fought back' (132)" (522). It's about futile resistance, and the question of what it takes to be defeated, and what victory means. That's why Every Man Dies Alone is today's recommendation.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

inner resistance

So, I'm working on some longer Recommendations. Right now I am reading Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada.


A longer recommendation will follow, but rest assured that it is Highly Recommended (TM). Publisher's Weekly says, "This disturbing novel, written in 24 days by a German writer who died in 1947, is inspired by the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel, who scattered postcards advocating civil disobedience throughout war-time Nazi-controlled Berlin." The novel is a panorama of one Berlin building as a microcosm of a larger society swept up by fascism. Unlike most other accounts of World War II (or other historical events) this is not written with heavy, weighty historiography and a bunch of nods and winks at THE TIMES. It's authentic because it was written by someone who lived through it, without fully understanding, or even living to see, the long-term historical implications of His Times.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

income and expenditures

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." - David Copperfield
by Charles Dickens

(Achtung FTC! That was an Amazon Associate link!)

Greetings, gentle readers. I'm 2/2 now: TWO recommendations in TWO days!

Today's recommendation is the chilling Maxed Out: Hard Times in the Age of Easy Credit
by James D. Scurlock. (ACHTUNG! Amazon link! FTC must be appeased!)

It's got everything a good horror novel should have: evil villains, a powerful system, terrifying things that happen to good people, the potential for sequels.

Unfortunately, as Orson Welles would say, It's All True. It's not fiction. I saw Maxed Out (the documentary) a few years ago and found it relentless and kind of alarmist: to pile all this information into a 90 minute movie is, honestly, a bit too much, and something some people would dismiss as manipulated or agenda-driven. After all, documentaries that are, like, angry about stuff are totally always fake like that Michael Moore dude, right? Excuse me while I smash my head into the keyboard.


Maxed Out (the book), on the other hand, is a different matter. On the one hand, you can close it and take a few breaths before returning. You can't deny print, or at least, it's harder to. While Scurlock had never written a book before, he has a unique and honest authorial voice that accounts for his own privilege and still manages to objectively assess the people he describes: this isn't' as black and white as victims and perpetrators, and he knows it. I think the book is better suited to this because this medium allows him to account at length for his opinion.

Maxed Out is a blood-boiling indictment of the debt system in America, and how it is destroying lives. It doesn't resort to the self-deterministic rhetoric of other books about finance (the ones that insist that anyone who can't afford the basics is just a glutton). What the book accomplishes more successfully than the documentary is an examination of the larger system: the changing American economy (and not just in the past two years or so, when it got really trendy to use the atrocious grammatical construction "in this economy"), the culture, the rapacious capitalism that preys upon the underclasses, yet requires them in order to keep the wealthy rich.

Maxed Out (best purchased used or gotten from the library, though naturally if you can afford it I'd love you forever if you purchased from my Amazon link) will recenter this crisis in your thinking. It will make you angry and bitter and maybe even depressed, but hopefully it will arm you with knowledge so that you can extract yourself from this system, or at least participate with your eyes more open.

Here are some recent and interesting blog posts related to the subject of the long decline in American prosperity:

Academia and the decline of wealth in America
Academia isn't broken. We are.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

New stories and Old Stories

Hi, readers. Although the semester is ended, I am still swamped, but luckily now I have the time to Recommend some things to you. I know you need it. I know I do too.

Today's recommendation is Susan Campbell's provocative memoir Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl. (n.b.: that's an Amazon link; good thing the FTC is persecuting bloggers instead of those poor victimized bankers).

The book describes Campbell's childhood and "relationship" with Jesus (get the title?), set against her theological interpretations of the Bible and Christianity. I found the book while waiting around for something in the campus union (where there is conveniently located a corporate-owned store that sells books and every kind of cluttery crap imaginable that can be painted with the university logo). Anyway, so I was in there and picked this up, intrigued by the title. The first chapter - a confessional account of a childhood baptism - so entranced and charmed me that I bought the book (whereas usually I spend weeks waffling and finally decide on a cheap copy online, which inevitably ends up smelling funny).

I have complicated feelings about this book, especially considering that I was not raised in any specific religious tradition, am not religious, and have no real insider knowledge of American Fundamentalism. Because of that, I find the book fascinating: it's a totally foreign world to me. Especially when Campbell describes her childhood, this is a funny, provocative read. When Campbell is telling childhood stories, she's really at her best because the description of this sub/culture is unforced and told without condescension.

However, the latter half of the book is a bit dull unless you are seriously interested in theology, in which case it's merely polemical, and, I suspect, unlikely to change hearts or minds. This is not inherently a problem - I just wish she had stuck with the trope of the Jesus "relationship" as it pertained to her childhood within a very specific culture.

Despite this, Dating Jesus is a fascinating look into a world that most of us sinful heathen book-readers will never access, and it manages to present this world in a compassionate way (more than I can do, I guess). If you're into the theology even the last part will be useful and interesting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Today's recommendation: Hang in there

Not just those of you who, like me, are in the death-grip of fin du semester clusterfuck, but those of you who eagerly await my next post.

I know you exist, blog fans!

So I recommend you check back in a few weeks because I have tons and tons of exciting things to recommend to you: books, music, film, and more!

But I wanted to let My Many Blog Fans (R) know that I'll be back soon!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Media, Sexuality, Children

Today's recommendation is The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It by M. Gigi Durham, PhD.

This book examines the recent media tendency to sexualize and objectify young (female) children. Outlining and analyzing magazines, toys, and TV shows, Durham presents a really depressing picture of what it is to be a female in America and the reaches that this media picture has into other cultures. She lays out in meticulous detail the schizophrenic picture presented by society, the expectations for how much time women and girls should spend on body maintenance, and presents the negative repercussions of these beliefs. She historicizes these phenomena, too, taking account of the relatively recent belief that childhood is a separate time. Durham lays out the recent phenomena as myths, which is engaging, if problematic (I wonder what scholars of myths would have to say).

It's a rather depressing read, but the reason I'm recommending it is because unlike a lot of authors, M. Gigi Durham has specific action steps that educators, parents, caretakers, and concerned citizens can engage in, in order to reduce the media's negative effects on girls and fight back. She explicitly lays out discussion starters and activities that may help to undo some of the damage that this media myth has provided.

The only real loser here is Vladimir Nabokov, whose Lolita is subject to the most superficial reading possible.* But that's a minor issue, I guess. I also would have liked more explicit footnotes - there's a lot of "anecdata" here and sometimes I think Durham makes cases of nothing, for instance, she devotes a lot of time to examining the impact of the use of the word "hot" without accounting for linguistic change, slang, and the slippery possibilities of language (What of the word "nice," which used to refer to a loose woman?).

As a pedant, I must inform you that the edition I read (clearance hardcover for the win!) was also riddled with typos, but I am linking you, beloved blog readers, to the paperback edition, which hopefully is better-edited.

Despite these imperfections - which I often thought may have been the result of "translating" academic work to a mainstream audience - this is an important book.
Teachers, parents, and others who care for young girls (that is, those who care for them in totally non-creepy ways) will need to read this. So that's today's recommendation. Aren't you glad this entry wasn't about cats?

*Like, I get that the book is about a creepy old guy and a girl. But (pulls out literature degree) is that really what it's ABOUT? It's so metaphorical. But I also get why "The Myth of Media Sexualization of Children" would probably sell fewer copies.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

take me down to the action city where the carpet's green & the mice are pretty

Today's recommendation is simple, but probably rather pricey. It is Drs. Foster & Smith Cat Furniture.

I suppose my purchase of this item makes me into an official, card-carrying cat lady: it's true, dear readers. The most expensive piece of furniture I now own is for my cats. It is called "action city" though in my cats' case, I think "inaction city" would be more likely. That is, they like to nap there.

In a futile effort to get some of my deposit back when I move out next year, and to get more work done (involving less shooing-away of cats), I invested in this pricey living room accent piece. After a less-harrowing than expected 45 minutes with a socket wrench - with a brief interlude during which I looked up "how to use a socket wrench" on the Internet (don't laugh!), we action city. I half - expected them to be asleep in the box, but that was not the case. Both my fuzzy freeloaders were playing on it instantly. They are both having fun. I can't seem to link directly to my pictures, but here you will find a representative image of Boris enjoying a very expensive surface.

If the semester releases its vise grip from my throat, I will be back soon with more recommendations. Thanks for your patience, delightful blog readers!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

a sick sad world

I don't identify as a millennial for a lot of reasons: I was in college when 9/11 happened, I remember using analog libraries, and MTV still sometimes ran music videos when I was in high school.

At that time, MTV also ran one of the best series of all time: Daria.

Daria was an anomaly in the Viacom-verse. Filled with intelligent jokes, Daria was distributed by a major player within culture and commented on the horrific vapidity of that culture. Daria's strength was the unchanging, unaging characters (though not in later seasons): it reflected the unending and miserable quality of high school.

So Daria went off the air, I grew up and moved away and away and away. And every now and then I'd sign a lame internet petition - the kind Daria herself would probably deride - begging for gods of Viacom-MTV-etc to release the show on DVD.

And guess what? Someone's cost-benefit-analysis finally showed this was worth it. On May 11, we will be able to purchase a box set of Daria (with, of course, much of the original music gone, but whatever. Just play the CD's). You can pre order it now. I already did. I am very excited. It's the little things. The little things that you trade money for.


Back to the salt mines.