Reboot

I can see quite clearly now the closing of the year that is/was 2014.  I can almost declare it dead, though I know it still yields a month or so of entertainment.  That entertainment, however, is of the very cold sort this time of year.  It is November and Michigan has received it’s first major snowfall for the season.  Last summer and fall just blew past me, it seems, like the wind that now carries the icy debris.  I barely had a chance to breathe.  Now, things are starting anew.  The world is changing and the plants are dying.  I feel at home staying inside with my plethora of animal life.  I keep them warm and shed my layers of clothing to enter my tropical paradise.  It has all come at a price, but now that it is cold again I hardly care.  I’m here and I’ve survived and I’m determined to continue surviving and making meaning of this existence.

Lately I have been through an upheaval of circumstances.  For starters, I had the car I’ve used for the last 5 years fall apart and sold for scrap.  My transportation situation is dicey and this isn’t exactly biking weather, so my life consists of bartering for rides from friends and family and walking intrepidly to the nearest bus stop.  In another sense, I’ve upgraded my communication technology while downgrading my transportation so that is reason to be gleeful.  I have entered the world of smartphone use and hardly know where to begin with it.  I feel as though I’m relearning practically everything.  But the adventures with the fish never stop.

I’m renewing my dream for 2015 of becoming breeder of the year in my aquarium society.  I think I have a fighting chance as this year was competitive to a degree.  Before the crazy summer got the best of me.  This year, I close with 10 new spawns.  This includes:

  1. Pseudosphromenus dayi
  2. Tylomelania sp. Yellow Rabbit Snail
  3. Pseudotropheus acei “White-Tail”
  4. Neocaridinia davidi “Yellow shrimp”
  5. Limia perugiae
  6. Heterandria formosa
  7. Celestichthys choprae
  8. Celestichthys margaritatus
  9. Moenkhausia pittieri
  10. Alfaro cultratus

Next year, I plan to start strong.  Yesterday I got a spawn I’ve been anticipating out of a fish known as Chlamydogobius eremius, or commonly the Australian Desert Goby.  The eggs they laid fill the back of a little cave and I feel the joy from inside leaping up. Let the games begin once more!

desert goby

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Why did you choose me? Why did you burden me with this choice?

I’m a fish geek girl.  Why are you bothering me with affection?  You know I am not capable by now.  You know I do not know what to do with it.  These are the thoughts that plague me, when I’m left an empty shell of what I should be.  I sincerely wish you happiness.  But I mourn the loss of my own….

It’s raining softly tonight.  I saw two of my suitors, nearly back to back.  I can hardly tell what I’m doing, why I entertain them both in one evening.  Putting on my best smile, trying not to stumble with words.  They are aware of each other.  Neither appears to be perturbed by the other man’s role in my life.  It’s at a standstill.  And all I really want to do much of the time is take care of my fish tanks, and relish a few moments of human interaction.  Maybe the animal is there, too.  I wouldn’t mind showing them.  But my need for human company drives me to this situation.  Where I realize I do not belong with any of them or to any, but that I need one or both simultaneously.  By not belonging, I can accommodate more than one.  At least in an emotional way.  It leaves my emotions drained. I know I’m out to satisfy the lives of others on a temporary basis.  That’s what my life has become.  It makes my life unsatisfactory on some nights.  Other nights, I feel tremendously on top of the world.  I guess not in this instance.  I mostly wonder why I have become a target for lost men of whom I care deeply for.  I want to be what they need.  I struggle to reconcile differences.  I struggle to make myself the woman I know I can be.    For them, but not so much for me. 

The girl inside this body just wants her hobby above all.  It’s the ultimate goal and the ultimate fixation to reach the goals underneath the headline “fish keeping.”  I want to be a master breeder of many species.  I want to model my career around my expertise and passion.  That’s all I know with unfailing confidence.  Confidence in nearly every other area fails.  

This experiment may be poised to make my life a more intense misery than any I could imagine.  I may also exaggerate on behalf of incredible fears.   I don’t know that I can connect with people, truly.  I don’t know how to keep myself from separation. 

A Typical Day- Every One, Extraordinary

Going into 4 days with no home internet due to outage outside of my…home.  Not to mention the snow storm that delayed school and work.   And before that my own personal 4 day power outage.  This winter has been nothing if not eventful.  Still, like most any time of year, the present moments fill with experiences that gather in greatness.  It’s all in the attitude, I attest.  I feel as though I truly grew into that optimism award I received so long ago as a fourth grader.  Those teachers saw what I couldn’t then.  But what blinds me now. 

The typical day is extraordinary in its own way.  Barring major conflict or death.  The typical day beckons with offers so irresistible if you listen.  It practically screams at me, even as I go about my business in my trim and proper way.  A trained monkey set to stray on the routine…..routinely.  It happens every day. 

Think of this as my personal diary- a run-down of a feeling I’m exploring and trying to….express.  Thinking of it as that, I would proceed with the day of the SWAP MEET (1/11/14). 

My days in Grand Rapids are like voyages to lands of untold greatness.  Fish greatness.  Because the city, so much larger than Lansing, hosts so many pet stores of numerous chain origin and small business alike.  It brightens my heart as I go from shop to shop cherry-picking the best of the best.  I seek bargains and beauty.  Beautiful bargains, I might say.   Like a shop hop on a smaller scale than those arranged by organizations, it is guaranteed I will come home with something new.  

I did bring home much of what I sought.  But the meet for fish clubs….my, it’s something.  Greatest in value for supplies and plants, I was sure to load up.  Nearly 40 tables were filled with the dreams of young aquarists (i.e., me).  Old literature lay about everywhere, on subjects from herpetology to marine biology.  Even an old shedd aquarium book, displaying the history of the historical building/attraction.   It all went for garage sale prices, in the middle of january in the coldest state I can imagine right now.   I talked to nearly all the people I bumped into.  I’m a friend to many, and many are a friend to me here.  I suppose the only fish i gained from the event were tinwini danios.  But a small tank, a light, many plants, bloodworm flakes (it’s a thing), mixed shrimp, and a daphnia culture rounded out my purchases.  I have many endeavors to attend to.  And I keep them in mind on the daily. 

Then it was to BLUEFISH AQUARIUM, where the hobbyists meet in a casual way after events such as these.  The kid-in-a-candy-shop effect was undeniable.  I wanted more than my wallet could handle.  And self control…well, that’s a hard entity to bargain with.   Two barb species went under “must-have”….but in an eventual timeline.  I bought my fire-ring danios on sight.  Because my rule of thumb is if it is a danio I do not have under my care, it has to be made to be under my care pronto.   Fond childhood memories aside, I loved everything at face value.  The other priority species had to be a pair of Indian spiketail paradisefish…for the losses I experienced of spawning adults.   They do like to commit piscine suicide.  Via jumping out of water.  The other thing was a bit of a shot in the dark….a pair of weitzmani tetras for the small price tag and my desires for adventure.  

Other shops included VI PETS and CHOW HOUND.  At the Jenison VI location, i found ultra-cheap hillstream loaches.  January is 20% off fish month there.  Too good.  Even if the fish are sometimes in questionable condition.   At the other location (CUTLERVILLE), I found rabbit snails for so cheap.  Yellow and marvelous.   And I am certain some captive bred steppe runners must be mine shortly.   Another endeavor and for another post.   Regardless, I spread the hobbyist cheer wherever I go.  And inform of fish clubs and reptile shows and good things. 

The last task was the meeting.  We have an exciting year ahead of us at GVAC.  it is truly the year of the fish.  I turned in 2 spawns to start the year strong.   Choprae danios and Celestial pearls.   And the talk on aquatic plants was uplifting.  I wish to experiment there as well.   LED workshops and box swaps are in the works.   I have two articles half-written.  I’m so happy with my hobby, it’s absurd. 

Yesterday was the Preuss Pets Holiday Party.  Another social experiment and time for merriment.  I do feel a bit out of place in my own workplace, but slowly it molds to my form.  Slowly I adjust to it.   My white elephant gift I gave involved a giant microbe plushie….my gift of choice.  Here, have mad cow disease!  adorable and fun to say.   I got a nice pair of sharpies and gummy candy in return.  The nature center offered a complex and stimulating background.   Snapping turtles and hissing cockroaches and educational tools awaited the upper level.   Below, a crowd of people humming with conversation.  Some of it I partake in.  Some of it I tune out.   It’s an old habit hard to break.  But it’s breaking walls, after all.  

I have befriended a number of individuals.  More yet to convince that I am tame and good company.  Relatively.   I like to think so.

Today, I have a day chock full of classes and work and business.  So much to adhere to.  Such a schedule to follow.   But if anyone can make the best, it’s me.  It’s the fishgeekgirl.   I walked up and down grand river after doodling fish and engaging in Ichthyology lecture.  I’m a tad too eager there, but I cannot help.   Free coffee, free t-shirt, free mints, free coupon books….all perks of going to MSU.   Little pieces of enrichment that make the mood lift.   Seeing a sign for a good lunch deal, I stopped in foreign territory and sat quietly with my wi-fi, filling out the remainder of my planner and signing away my time happily and readily.   The demands are great.  But my condition can’t get much greater.

Even after all of this description- I feel I do not do life justice…..I could write a million words on the subject in one breath, with the enthusiasm I contain.  Sheer and genuine and wonderful as the highest high.  

The Boom and Bust

Today I had to choose from two exciting events:  Southwestern Michigan Aquarium Society Fall Auction or Lansing Reptile Show.  Since my meeting was yesterday, I felt I owed some attention to the herps in my life.  So the Reptile Show got defaulted to my activity for the day.  Unfortunately, it was a bust.

It was sufficient to meet my basic needs, but the room was half empty and vendors sparse, in that sense.  For the first hour, nobody showed.  Barely.  A few people here and there.  It didn’t do so hot last month either, and it saddens me that two months in and Lansing is due to lose this attraction.  Was it an attraction?  Did it attract anybody?  A few, but not enough.  So we complain.  I’m happy enough to continue, but odds are it won’t last.

Meanwhile, the real reptile enthusiasts made it to Tinley Park for an extravaganza of a show.  I had not a clue, and it’s really not my forte.  However, the fact of the matter is….the crowd potential in Lansing became ever slimmer.  Some places boom and some places bust.  Some cycle, but Lansing is the town that never was.

Also of note, my beloved society of origin (SWMAS) has lost membership.  Aquarium societies in many areas are dying.  Almost quite literally.  Here I am, a young adult woman (I think?) eagerly participating in the hobby.  But my peers number fewer by the…..well, by some span of time.  It’s not a booming hobby.  Likewise, the auction saw only 300 bags and a general lack of interest.  It sucks.  Sucks hard.

I’m in the running to get a job at Preuss Pets.  I want a booming clientele for the freshwater department to follow.  But we all know I’m a bit ambitious by now.  So ambitious I fail to hit the blog as I promised.  So type away I shall.  And maybe inspire a few new aquariums and allow their owner success. 

Today is not an awful day.  And nothing is wrong, except maybe the proportion of the population that flocks to football but leaves hobby venues bare.  That seems a bit….unsettling.  I only mention because an atrocious crowd of people hindered my travels to work this weekend.  In the name of……pigskin.  Men clashing and a pointless goal.  Why.

Why does this boom as an industry, but not enough people can dedicate their time to a hobby in need?  or two?
I don’t get it, and I fear I never will.  People can be the most predictable and also the most unpredictable.   But not a standard citizen and a fish hobbyist.  Or reptile enthusiast. 

The lack of concern.
Concerns me.

Downsizing in the Name of Opportunity?

After an amicable visit with my dad for an exchange of groceries and home-grown fruits, I was left with a little advice:
“You should start downsizing soon so you don’t miss out on opportunities”

Immediately, I agreed with him.   I mean, who can argue that a house full of pets doesn’t tie you down?  But then my true spirit kicked in and I knew deep down that nothing he ever had to say on the matter could change my desires. 

Simply put, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything in life.  In fact, I believe the fish room and hobby is creating more opportunity than diminishing.  So what if I can’t study abroad or vacation for extended periods?  I am not even slightly bothered, really.  When I do a little soul-searching. 

I have had a tendency to go overboard with my hobbies, I admit.  I keep more fish than most people find sane and I always want more.  I don’t act on those impulses and I have decent control of the situation.  But the outsider judges all too quickly that I’m crazy and need to change my ways.  They don’t say this, I just see it in their eyes.  I see it in the way they proceed to live differently in the name of normalcy.  I also see that nothing I am doing is hurting my pursuit of happiness nor theirs.  So why do I need to downsize?

What if I’m settled in and I am content with life…..wouldn’t most people say “more power to ya” if that’s the context?  I am young.  But I have never wavered in my desires.  I have never fallen out of this phase.  I am convinced I need not seek to complicate my current set up for anticipated travels.  To be honest, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

Party culture vs. Fish Culture

Image

Ain’t no party like a Sexrex party, amiright?
No?

Hm. 

Tonight is the beginning of the weekend, more or less.  It’s the end of Thursday.  Friday rises to take its place.  And since I’m a Michigan State University student, I have a stark contrast before me.  I pass bars full of patrons and party-goers as I leave work.  Yet, here I am looking up fish content and contemplating what water changes will take place momentarily.  I’m 21 years old now, mind you.  This culture….this “bar” culture….finds no place for me.  Actually, I can’t find place for IT. 

You know what’s better than any party?  A fish auction.  Fish auction season rings in every fall and spring.   And we all know it’s Autumn now.  I just want to be at home bidding on a cool bag of livebearers.  Or maybe strap on some waders and chase some late-season darters.  They are oh so pretty. 

I went to a party once.  There was a fraternity involved, and the music was loud and the people were grabby.  I didn’t drink one sip of…anything, because you can’t trust college boys.  However, I was drawn to one thing:  The fish tank under the bar.  Yup.  I remember like yesterday the gouramies and black-tailed shark.  Gosh, it was sparsely stocked.  So much….empty space.  So little love.  Right then and there i just wanted to get permission to be honorary fish maid. Honestly, whenever i encounter ill-looked after or poorly explored tanks…I just want to show them the way.

Do you see the way?

Can I show you how to really party in life?

Please?

September 26, 2013- a Year anniversary in the Pursuit

A year ago today, I had very little.  I was resuming my hobby, but ever so slowly.  I was disorganized and a bit hopeless and also unrealistic in my ambitions.

Let’s start from a less familiar perspective, shall we?  You may know me, but you might not.

I had myself a fish at a young age.  A goldfish in a bowl.  Or a genie in a bottle, whichever.  It wasn’t the most fascinating creature to me.  And I was also a third grader.  It had an uneventful life…and died at two years of age from a temperature shock while the caretaker performed a water change.  The caretaker wasn’t really me at the time.   But truthfully, it was dying long before.  My other fish was a betta and it lead a similar life.  It was almost neglect to leave them in a bowl day in and day out…and feed scarcely.  But for a long neglected organism type….nobody cries animal abuse.  Nobody cares.

One day, I did care.  More specifically, the day that the creatures in question perished…I felt the guilt of a child who did nothing in terms of prevention.  I lacked foresight. I didn’t give it my all as a pet owner.  I didn’t know I COULD give it my all.  This would soon change.

Somewhere along the middle school timeline, I had myself another try with the fish.  It gets fuzzy for my memory to recall precise timing, but I remember vividly taking over my sister’s fantail goldfish upkeep.  I had to be in control.  I wanted to learn.  I can’t explain why, except that i was opportunistic and I saw…opportunity here.  I was soon checking out every fish book in the community library…twice.  I read what i could and marveled over photos I hoped to replicate. I wanted to breed fish.  I wanted to create elaborate displays and show great pride.  I found myself doodling fish setups in every class period.  Middle school, mind you. I fantasized stock lists and imagined compatibility with every one.  I wanted biotopes.  I wanted everything to just…commence.  There was a budding hobby here.  And it gained momentum fast.

When i was thirteen, I had a display tank.  I had my first issue of Tropical Fish Hobbyist purchased from a book retailer.  I treasured it and read over every detail of every article.  I gleaned in each account so much enthusiasm and a world I desperately desired to be a part of.  So the next steps were inevitable.

Long story short, I was operating a small fish room by high school.  I had 20 or more fish tanks in my bedroom, much to my parents’ dismay.  But they didn’t stop me.  How could they?  My hobby has always been purely beneficial.  I did breed fish. I did cultivate plants.  I did write articles and I joined an aquarium society at the wee age of 14.  I was traveling an hour away, at my father’s expense, to attend meetings and fish auctions.  I was quite simply in love with everything.

Naturally, however, there came a time when I had to downsize.  I had to get rid of fish and prepare for a new adventure:  College.  I knew that it was a temporary gig.  I was going to have my fish room back, in some form or another.

So, that’s what today is….a celebration of a year of progress.  I’m a junior in college, and I do have just the cutest fish room to play with these days.  I’m as passionate as ever in my hobby.  And I even joined a new club.  I collect fish when I can.  I culture live foods.  I auction things and breed more fish than I know how to handle it seems.  A year ago, I had a good start.  Living off campus, though, I can accommodate so much more than I could in the dismal dorm setting.  And also coinciding with this date….is the acquisition of an entirely different animal.  I got my kitten a year ago.

It seems very obvious to me that I am a fish geek at the core.  But along the way, I embraced my love of all animals.  I have so much life surrounding me and enriching every experience.  I believe this is what true happiness entails.  As of today, I will be frank.  I have a lot of animals. But I wouldn’t change it.

I feel like I have a better grip.  What a life, though.  Surrounded by…..40 fish tanks….6 geckos…a few other lizards…some mice….and a lovely bengal cat named KRONOS.  I attend class, work, and go home to this menagerie every day.  It’s an unimaginable blessing. And that’s where I hope to start this blog.  Restart, rather.  Life is full of beauty if you open your eyes to the opportunity to let it in.