Where are you from?
I was born in Galveston, TX. We moved to Vicksburg, MS before I was 1, then to Conway, AR when I was 8. I moved to Santa Fe on my own when I was 21 for school and a relationship. I graduated from both. My parents are from the St. Louis area. My ancestors are mostly German.
It's not an easy answer. I don't really feel like I'm from anywhere in particular. Growing up in the south was suffocating for me. The culture runs hard opposite from how I like to think (I'm not interested in religion or football). It's also hard to be a male and not get drawn into subtle masculinity contests all the time, which I just have no interest in. Santa Fe cares much less about football, religion, and masculinity, so it's been a better place for me.
How did you start working at SVH?
I saw an ad for Smith Veterinary Hospital posted on craigslist, so I sent in an application that read simply, “I saw a dog once and I don't light things on fire that often.” Jared called me an hour later with a job offer [Editor’s note: this is substantially true].
What did you do before working here?
Right before I got hired here I was messing around in Europe for 3 months. Previous to that I worked retail. Previous to that I was an infant. Working retail is much like infancy in that you pass through all the same Freudian Stages of Development. I've also studied Creative Writing, and Psychology, if you couldn't tell.
Favorite part of the job?
I like the human element here at Smith Vet. Everybody's personalities meld really well to produce a pleasant work environment, which is important at a job that can flip from relaxed to stressful on a dime. Also somebody always brings food and it's so amazing.
I like a lot of foods, but I have no singular favorite. Recently I've been baking my own pretzels and pizza dough. I've found that kneading dough is a relaxing kinetic experience. I could knead dough until my arms fall off, though I hope that never happens.
My favorite color is easily, and will always easily be, green. Various shades, depending on the context in which I see them. One of the only fights I've had in my life was over a green ball in preschool (it was worth the time-out).
Recently I have also developed a conceptual affinity to the color cyan. Cyan is the color of the sky and has an etymological link to the poison “cyanide,” as well as “cyanotic” (a bluish discoloration of skin from lack of oxygen). Normally we think of the blue sky as a healthy sight, but I think it opens up interesting creative opportunities to view it as poisonous, or suffocating.
Dryococelus australis, aka the Lord Howe stick insect, aka the tree lobster. It's a 12 centimeter long stick insect—about the size of your hand—with a thick black exoskeleton. They're native to Lord Howe island, which is about 360 miles off the eastern coast of Australia. In 1918 a supply ship ran aground Lord Howe island, releasing rats into the environments. The rats ate all the tree lobsters and after 1920 they were thought to be extinct. In 2001 a couple scientists were checking out, on a rumor, Ball's Pyramid, a 1844 ft sheer spire sticking out of the ocean 13 miles from Lord Howe island, and found 24 tree lobsters living under a bush 500 feet up. No one knows how they got there or how they survived under a single bush for so long. Two years later they captured two pairs for breeding. One pair died right away, while the other pair barely made it, and now there's a healthy population of hundreds in captivity.
What are you currently watching?
I just watched the Netflix show, Sense8, which I had low expectations for because it's by the Wachowskis (I've never forgiven them for the Matrix sequels), but the show actually evoked emotion in me, so I guess I liked it. It's about eight people around the world who are psychically linked. The characters are engaging, thrilling to watch, and it seems like it was written by a person who knows the alphabet (unlike the Matrix sequels).
I also recently saw the movie Arrival. It's about a linguist trying to decode an alien language and the effect the language has on her, all while she mourns the loss of her daughter. It's great soft sci-fi about the nature of communication, contradiction, and time.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was suggested to me by my dad, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. It's a collection of essays on the importance of environmental conservation and what we have to gain from the development of a “land ethic,” protecting land for its own sake. Leopold posits that too often land is considered in only economic terms, in terms of how we can exploit it, and that this saps beauty from the Earth. Leopold emphasizes the importance of seeing the environment as an entire organism, as opposed to focusing on the health of just a couple species. New Mexico plays no small role as well, containing one of the more memorable scenes from Leopold's youth, when his hunting party shoots a wolf: “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”
Team Jerry or Team Super Rojo?
This is quite obviously the most important question you've asked me. The dichotomy of Jerry and Super Rojo is one of death and rebirth, of the signifier and the signified, of the orange cat and of ourselves. The orange cat entered our lives at Smith Vet with the name Jerry, but was soon re-identified as Super Rojo. Those who subscribe to this reidentification focus on the orange cat's existence here at Smith Vet and ignore the orange cat's past existence elsewhere. In this view, Jerry is the past, Super Rojo is the now. Those who continue to identify the orange cat as Jerry accept the orange cat's whole existence—past, present, and future are one simultaneity to this group. Myers–Briggs might label the first group as sensate, accepting the orange cat for how it exists in the empirical present. In this framework, the second group is intuitive, extrapolating possible existences the orange cat might have had elsewhere.
My own perception and understanding of the orange cat aligns with the second, more intuitive group. I am Team Jerry.
It is important to remember that the orange cat's mysterious purpose lies outside the terminology we give him. No one knows what goes through his cat brain. All we know is that he loves ice water.