Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Love the ASPCA

As everyone who knows me is aware, I have been grieving the death of my cat, Tucker, who died on 6/27/08.

I finally got around to calling the ASPCA today to cancel the pet health insurance policy that I purchased for Tucker several years ago. The customer representative who took my call was named Shelley; she treated me with a kindness and compassion that I will never forget.

She pulled up my information, confirmed that my policies were for Tucker and Gus, and then asked how she could help me. I told her I needed to cancel the policy for Tucker; she asked "Oh, did something happen to Tucker?" "Yes, he died", and I could feel my throat tightening up as I started to cry. With a very sympathetic voice, she expressed her condolences and asked when he died. I felt a little embarrassed because I was calling almost 6 months after the fact, and I said "Well, it's been awhile. He died in June, but I haven't been able to bring myself to make this phone call until today." Shelley then said that she she understood and that she could cancel the policy retroactively as far back as September. I was surprised at this, because I never in a million years expected a refund. I replied "Well, I didn't expect you to go back even a day, so three months sounds very generous to me." She explained that the ASPCA permits retroactive cancellations and will give refunds because they understand that it sometimes takes awhile for a grieving pet owner to take care of any business that must be addressed following a pet's death. As Shelley gave me my confirmation number and we prepared to hang up, she said warmly, "Give Gus lots of extra hugs and attention now." I smiled through my tears and thanked her.

I have been making monthly donations to the ASPCA for several years, and I was already a big supporter. Speaking with Shelley today reaffirmed for me that my money and my support are in the right place. She was genuine, compassionate, and empathetic. It was refreshing and encouraging to find that in a total stranger, let alone in a customer service representative.

I'm in the process of composing a letter to a bigwig at the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance division in order to tell them about how marvelous Shelley was to me. I could write a million letters, though, and Shelley will never ever know what she means to me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, You've Been Rickroll'd!

I'm sorry I haven't written in awhile. I've recently been struck by a bout of writer's block/apathy, but I feel like the cobwebs are clearing. My brain is starting to clickety-clack again, and I'm full of thoughts. My mind is whirring.

To start things off, I'd like to share this video that I find to be really funny and clever. For those of you who missed it, this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade got Rickroll'd. If you're not familiar with that term, I'll explain. It's an long-running Internet joke...kind of a bait and switch if you will. A person will provide for the unassuming victim a weblink in an e-mail that he or she will claim to be relevant to the topic at hand. The victim then clicks on the weblink only to find that it leads to the music video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up", along with the announcement "You've been Rickroll'd!" I've been a victim on several occasions, and I'm always smacking my palm against my forehead in disbelief that I have once again fallen for it.

So here it is...the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade getting Rickroll'd.

Monday, November 17, 2008


As my friend, Brooke, pointed out to me today, an update is way overdue here. I have several unfinished posts saved in my Blogger file, but I simply haven't felt motivated to finish them. For the past month or so, I have been feeling rather overwhelmed and paralyzed by my stress regarding my application for NYU's School of Social Work. The possibility of either decision has created such emotional turmoil for me. If I am rejected, then I'm overwhelmed because I'm thinking "What in the hell am I going to do!? This is it! This is my grand plan! What if they tell me 'no'?"

And then if I am accepted into the program that begins in January, I have a whole new batch of things to be stressed about: I'll have eight weeks to work my 30-day notice at work, give a 30-day notice to my landlord, get registered for classes, find my immunization records, pack up my apartment, find a new place to live, move to NY in the middle of winter (dealing with snow and frigid temperatures), tell my family and friends good-bye fight after Christmas, and hope to secure a school loan when the banks are crapping out. I've been losing sleep over this. I've had a difficult time focusing on other projects (my blog, reading my book, learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone, cleaning my apartment, etc) because I haven't known for what I'm preparing. In short, I've been in limbo.

So I guess this would be the time to say that I found out on Friday that I GOT INTO NYU!!

And now I'm mostly stress-free because I have a beautiful happy medium! I am going to NYU, but I have been accepted to the program that starts in September 2009 rather than January. Now I have eight months to prepare for this colossal move. I now have plenty of time to plan, say my good-byes, and save more money---the more money I save, the less money I have to borrow. I'll be moving to New York City in August. I can't believe I'm saying that. I have wanted to be in New York City since I visited for the first time at the age of 18 (best weekend of my life, by the way). To think that I'm going to earn my MSW with the resources of New York City at my very fingertips simply blows me away. What a brilliant opportunity this is. I don't think I've ever been this excited about anything in my life.

Let's see...what else? Oh yes! Friends, I would like for you to meet Isabel. many cats does it take before one is officially labeled a "crazy cat lady"?

Yet another kitten (another tuxedo kitty) has shown up at Chez Pam. I swear, folks, I don't go looking for them or chasing them. They come to me as if someone has given them my name and address.

A few weeks ago, I was getting home after work. I opened my car door and placed my left foot on the ground as I leaned over to gather my belongings from the passenger's seat. I heard a soft high-pitched "mew". My ears perked up, and I listened....there it went again---"mew". I looked down, and there is this tiny black and white kitten standing next to my foot and staring up at me (much like she is in the above photo). Again, she pleadingly said "mew" as she placed her paw on the top of my shoe. Well of course I'm going to pick her up and take her in; who didn't already see that one coming? She practically dove into my neck, snuggling and nestling there, and she purred like a lawn mower.

As with Milo, I started out insisting that I could not keep her, and I fervently looked for another home. I e-mailed friends and I contacted rescues. My friends at work were checking with their families and friends.

Long story short---she's staying. Sigh.

I took her to the vet, and she is definitely a female. She weighs 4 pounds, and it is estimated that she's 4 months old. I'm happy to report that she's negative for FIV, leukemia, and worms. She received her rabies shot, as well as her first FIV vaccine. In a couple of weeks, she'll go back for her leukemia vaccine, as well as her 2nd FIV booster.

She's made herself right at home. As a matter of fact, I think she has the nerve to try to establish herself as the alpha kitty in a home containing three males---a geriatric, a young adult, and a pre-teen. Jasper (the young adult) sneaked up behind her as she was eating and harmlessly began to sniff her. She whirled around, hissing and growling, and he immediately backed down. She turned back around and resumed eating. "You go, girl!" I thought to myself. In spite of her feistiness (some would call it brattiness), the boys have made her feel at home. Gus tolerates her (which is pretty high praise coming from Gus). She and Milo have become fast friends, and they wrestle, stalk, and chase each other. Jasper gets in on the action, too. I'm going to have to give my downstairs neighbors a little extra something at Christmas for being so kind and patient; I have no doubt that they can hear every kitty footstep, especially when they're dashing around at midnight.

I took a great trip to Charleston SC a couple of weeks ago. I'll write about that in my next post.

And that is what's going on with me. I'm thinking I'll probably start a new blog once I get to NYC. It'll be about the move, adjusting, living in NYC, and being a grad student at the age of 42.

I'll let you know when that one's up an running.