you’re the tops and that’s that (meet sinclair)

(props to any­one who knows what the title of this post is ref­er­enc­ing)
sinclair-2

This is Sin­clair. He is the ugli­est thing I’ve ever fall­en in love with.” — I wrote on Jan­u­ary 23rd, 2015, on my way home with a card­board box fid­get­ing on my lap, a tiny nose now and then peek­ing out to sneeze at the sit­u­a­tion. It’s weird to think that, come tomor­row, he’ll have only been home with me for three weeks. Hope­ful­ly, he’ll have many more years to come.

I won’t lie; a part of Sinclair’s charm is that he was an impulse adop­tion. I had been left to wan­der on my own for about a half hour, which you would think, “How much trou­ble can a 25 year old with about $80 in her pock­et real­ly get into?” Well. I prac­ti­cal­ly bee-lined my way to the pet store to see if there were any pup­pies there to cud­dle with for a while, or maybe a fer­ret or two. There were not, but I had time to kill, and I can spend a lot of time just look­ing at all the lit­tle crea­tures. I don’t care much for rab­bits, or ham­sters. I’ll side-eye the lizards and snakes, and I’ll gath­er up all my courage to glance at the scor­pi­ons and taran­tu­las and toads (ugh, I hate toads!). I do absolute­ly adore hedge­hogs (and even had one, the infa­mous San­cho Pan­za, a grumpy lit­tle thing that I had to rehome because I didn’t have the time or means to look after him any­more). But, to cut things short, I spent the most of my time look­ing at the rats.

Now, pre­vi­ous­ly, I hat­ed the things. Beady-eyed, long-toothed, sharp-clawed, with those long, creepy tails! Ugh! I thought they were the worst. And then I vis­it­ed my mom for a week­end, and she had recent­ly adopt­ed one, named Lady (or, as I liked to call her, Fid­dy-Fid­dy, because she was hood­ed). My first night, I bare­ly got any sleep, hav­ing been stuck in the same room as her in her lit­tle cage that I was absolute­ly cer­tain she would sneak her way out of and bite me to death. I want­ed noth­ing to do with her. I had ham­sters as a child, and the nov­el­ty of small fuzzy crea­tures is entire­ly lost on you when you get bit­ten every time you try to touch them. I thought the same about Lady. Until my broth­er took her out of her cage, and dropped her right into my lap.

Love. Absolute awe.

After Lady, there came Dash(board) and Lit­tle One, who are still kick­ing around. They’re down­stairs togeth­er as I type this, my mom’s girls and sweet things. Dash­board got her name thus­ly from get­ting out of the box the day we picked her up, and hid­ing in the dash­board of my mom’s truck for the entire dri­ve back to the house. We’re lucky she made it. And I was hap­py to move back home and be around the two of them more often, as well as my pup­py Lexi, of course (she’ll get her own post one day). Still, I real­ly want­ed a pet of my own, I was just wait­ing for the right time... or so I thought.

Back at the pet shop, I crouched down to get a look at the rats they had. A pile of fuzzy hood­ed males, maybe half the size of my fist each, all cud­dled up togeth­er to keep warm while they napped. Okay, cute— but! Wait! What is that thing!? That mass of wrin­kles back there, sit­ting on top of three lit­tle rats?! I need to see this thing!! OH GODS IT MOVED.sinclair-1 As soon as I saw him, twice the size as any of the oth­ers, and the only one of his breed in the whole store, I fell in love. It was instan­ta­neous. He was hideous and all I want­ed to do was hold him! It took me ten sec­onds to make up my mind, just as long as it took for the girl work­ing there to make her way to the back of the store. “That ugly lit­tle guy, I need to take him home now!”

He peed on me. I had him on my shoul­der for less than three sec­onds, and he drenched me. And still, I loved him and need­ed to call him my own. So, alone and deter­mined, though unsure what the reac­tion would be, I called my mom. In fact, I woke her up from a nap, and while she was still grog­gy, I sim­ply asked her, “Can I buy a rat?” and she gave me her bless­ing, and prob­a­bly went back to sleep.

Sin­clair is a hair­less rat. He’s now sev­en months old (rough­ly 18 in human years), and right now, he’s curled up in a navy blue leg warmer sleep­ing, because I rude­ly woke him up this morn­ing while chang­ing his water. He already answers to his name (which was inspired by a char­ac­ter from the video game Bioshock 2), and he loves yogurt drops and banana chips. Arguably, he’s soft­er than reg­u­lar rats, his skin almost has a vel­vet-like feel to it, and this spoiled lit­tle brat gets a mas­sage once a week with extra-vir­gin olive oil to keep his skin from dry­ing out or get­ting scratched up.

Even when he wakes me up in the mid­dle of the night chew­ing away at his food or lick­ing at his water bot­tle, all I can do is smile at him. When he sneezes (he has aller­gies, some­thing com­mon with hair­less rats, and some­thing I’m keep­ing a very close watch on), I sneeze back. He runs around on my bed (with a tow­el, because he’s yet to learn there is a time and place to poop and my bed is not it), and I tick­le his back and scritch above his nose, his favourite spot. I nev­er, nev­er, would have fig­ured myself a ‘rat per­son’ but here I am, with the ugli­est lit­tle sweet­heart ever. Here’s to many years of us keep­ing each oth­er com­pa­ny. sinclair-3

KEEP RIOTING, XO. SHILO CHRISTINA

like an open book (part i)

donotmy 2nd mole­sk­ine, red with unlined pages

I’ve always kept some form of jour­nal, whether I real­ly meant to or not. I nev­er was one for diaries, per se, or the idea of writ­ing down my thoughts or the events of the day, but it nev­er felt right to not have some­thing near­by to jot down what­ev­er came to mind. There was a point where I car­ried at least three dif­fer­ent jour­nals in my purse at any time. Each one had a sep­a­rate pur­pose: there was one for writ­ing sto­ries, one for per­son­al moments, and anoth­er was a sort of catch-all. I still car­ry one or two with me when I go out, though they’re not always the same one (that’s an entire­ly dif­fer­ent post, though, the amount of emp­ty jour­nals I have...).

My par­ents bought me my first mole­sk­ine when I was 18, and I cried, like the lit­tle elitest hip­ster that I am some­times. They’re absolute­ly an over­hyped prod­uct, but I’ve yet to meet a writer who hasn’t used one, or want­ed to own one, or isn’t in love with the one they have, now in sham­bles and bare­ly held togeth­er by its elas­tic band. I kept my first one pris­tine for the longest time. It took four months before I actu­al­ly wrote in it, and for a long time I made sure not to dog-ear, rip, smudge, or waste a sin­gle page. It was an ordeal. Noth­ing that came to mind was ever good enough to write inside its pages. I had bare­ly writ­ten my name on the ‘if lost, return to’ page before my imag­i­na­tion had wan­dered. I pic­tured myself, decades from now, with book­shelves filled with my own jour­nals, all burst­ing at the seams and dat­ed, full of all my ideas, dreams, and thoughts. Not in a Kevin Spacey in Se7en way, mind you. But I want­ed shelves lined with my life and every­thing in it that had inspired me.

nananaa line from my chem­i­cal romance’s “plan­e­tary (go!)”

I even­tu­al­ly start­ed to do what I want­ed, and more impor­tant­ly, what I need­ed to, when it came to writ­ing in my jour­nals. Pages got ripped, whole lines would be scrib­bled out, I start­ed to write down my favourite words, lyrics, I played tic-tac-toe against myself (and lost), I learned that what I want­ed wasn’t per­fect words, but a visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of myself. Some­thing tan­gi­ble that could scream out for me: this is who I am, this is who I want to be!

portrait1self por­trait from octo­ber 2014

Every time I reach for one of my jour­nals now, I don’t have any expec­ta­tions, no set idea for what needs to be writ­ten in it that day. Some­times I don’t even write any­thing down, I just flip through the pages for inspi­ra­tion. Even at 25 years old, jour­nals are still a learn­ing expe­ri­ence for me and I hope they always are.

KEEP RIOTING, XO. SHILO CHRISTINA