Saturday, September 17, 2005

Another Life

As I drove into the Borders shopping center today, with the intention of spending several hours in the Italian travel section, I spied evidence of a former life: the diesel-powered Mobile Animal Center, at Petco to perform a mission of pet adoption.

When I first moved to Sonoma County, I decided that volunteering would be just the ticket to making new friends and connections. The nice folks at the Volunteer Center helped me pick out the County's animal shelter as the place for me. It was a mixed experience, to say the least. It took me a year not to drive away in tears after a volunteer meeting, the constant and despairing howling of the dogs breaking my heart. But it wasn't the sadness of so many animals treated like toys outgrown or punching bags that finally drove me away for good. It was the divisiveness of the people that I couldn't take.

When I first joined the volunteer board, they had just undertaken a project to raise funds for the Mobile Animal Center, an adoption and surgery unit on wheels. I promised myself I would stay on until it was completed, and kept that promise--barely. I stopped volunteering just weeks after the MAC rumbled into the Shelter compound. When I spied the MAC today, I wish I could've felt satisfaction at helping to bring that goal to fruition for the Shelter; instead, I wanted to run away.

So while I needed cat food at Petco, I first settled deep into an arm chair in the children's section at Borders, taking notes on cheap but charming lodgings in Florence. Like a gambler in a casino, I lost track of time and emerged blinking in the sunshine hours later. The adoption was finished, though the MAC was still in the parking lot. Heading over to Petco, I did say hello to the Volunteer Coordinator who was getting ready to drive the MAC back to the Shelter. He and I had had a good relationship, and I was glad to see him. Standing close to the MAC, it looked even better than we had envisioned it in our board meetings--it was a powerful, professional looking vehicle, a tool that could accomplish all the adoptions and neuterings we had intended for it. Again, I wished that I could associate some of my fundraising and emotional efforts with that vehicle...but shame was mostly what welled up. I feel I like fled the Shelter as if it were a sinking ship, leaving my fellow volunteers and all those animals to drown.

But y'know, writing that--they aren't drowning, are they? The MAC is rolling, volunteers are still volunteering, and while animals are still being put to death every day at the Shelter, at least some are finding homes. And that's a good thing.


I wish I could do justice to the conversation I overheard in the chair next to me at Borders. Parents were trying to introduce their young son to the fact that there are different religions.

Father: "Remember when I told you about the Greek gods? These are like Indian Greek gods. See, this one has four arms."

Son: "Four arms?"

Father: "Yes, see, one, two, three, four. And these are the Zoroastrians." Turns page.

Mother, interjecting over Father's shoulder: "See, this is a bible like your dad has. Just like your dad."

Father: "And this is Buddha. He's kind of like Jesus."

Mother, angrily: "No, he's NOT like Jesus."

Father: "He was a teacher like Jesus."

Mother grumbles.

Son: "I want to worship Buddha!"

Parents: "What?"

Son repeats: "I want to worship Buddha."

Mother: "Just because you're learning about other religions doesn't mean you have to change your faith."

So true.


I've indulged myself today: french fries (fie upon thee, Cancer!), blackberry pie a la mode, and Chardonnay all before 5:00 p.m.; I bought a pack of those letter press note cards I admire so much at Borders--they were 75% off, so it seemed like a rendezvous with Destiny. Also while at Borders, I picked up an Italian CD and phrase book. But will I really need more than gelato, vino, and caffe in my vocabulary?

M has definitely indulged me lately, too. After threatening darkly that he would come home one day to find me torn and bleeding beneath the closet door, he fixed the track so it now glides smoothly. After five years of doing battle just to open it, it's strange and wonderful to have it sliding at my will. He replaced the Wonder Wagon's radio antennae so that now the Roberts hearings are coming in loud and clear. And he spoiled me today, coming home from work in the middle of the day to drop off the prettiest little copper butter warmer from Sur la Table, an instrument of culinary beauty that I had eyed for years but could never bring myself to drop the cash for. And now it's mine, all mine! "Imagine golden butter sinking slowly as it melts..."


It's been so busy at work and home lately that I haven't had time to surf my favorite blogs. Feels like there's been something missing in my life these past few days!


Are you a liberal? If so, you should read Bad Reporter regularly. Well, conservatives might find it amusing too.


At 5:52 AM, September 18, 2005, Blogger Nancy said...

Although I have no idea what was the source of divisiveness that made you flee the volunteer group, I can sort of imagine from groups I've been in where there were competing interests. The Mobile Pet Adoption thing sounds like a brilliant idea. I hope it's doing a lot of good.

I liked the overheard conversation


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