Can’t Sleep I might as well

I can’t sleep I might as well get out of bed and write. Reading wasn’t doing it. I managed to take a few cat naps, but kept waking up.

parakeetMy brain is still doing flips over reading a journal entry by my nineteen year old self. I thought about making this photo smaller, but maybe if I look into my own eyes. I’m trying to match the ugly bathrobe to college. I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t tell if the bird was Troy or Toby. One died, crushing me. Thirty-nine years later, and I still cry when I think of my first bird. Second bird went to college with me. Doubt any dorm would do that now, but Ithaca allowed small animals. There was a hamster that roamed the hallways in a ball; it survived some Frat boy pushing it down the stairs.

A dorm neighbor bought a parakeet after I moved in with mine. If we were both home, we’d leave our doors open and each bird would fly down the hall and go into the right room. Birds are great for hide and go seek. I’d come home from school, and the first thing I would do is open Toby’s cage as she’d be practically turning herself inside out while in the catch, so frantic to get out and to be with me. I had gotten very quick at opening her cage so I could run out of my room and into one of the other rooms in the hall. She would fly in every room until she found me. I could be hiding in the shower and she’d find me. One time she found me in the shower, but I was taking a shower and she got soaked. Too bad I didn’t get a picture of her. Her feathers were sticking up in all directions. I tried to dry her off with a washcloth, but she was pissed at me. It was my fault. I almost felt the bite through the cloth.

Most of the time, Tobias had an even temper. She didn’t like being in her cage, but as long as I was home, the cage wasn’t closed. But when she did get mad, and perhaps I’m starting to think of bird two, Troy, now that bird had a nasty temper. Sometimes she would throw back her head and then launch into a bit of the sweet spot on a hand. That little fold of skin between thumb and forefinger. She never drew blood, but I was sure she was going to give me my first piercing. Hey, I could have been ahead of the time.

I’m guessing my high school bird was Toby, or Tobias. When I got Tobias, I hadn’t a clue how to sex a parakeet. Had the same problem with gerbils when I was in fourth grade. Great way to learn about sex. Gerbils, at least, display their gender obviously and in the traditional manner. With parakeets it’s all about the bridge of their nose. It changes colors, and the parakeet is not that young when it changes.

I didn’t know any of that and just liked the name Tobias. I didn’t care if it were a male or female. My sister Barbara had at least one bird, blue ones. Peter. I don’t recall it out of the cage, though birds at one point had been allowed to fly around the house as one met the unfortunate demise after being stepped on by the beagle. It happened before I knew what a bird or a beagle was. Long before I knew I would fall in love with birds and all sorts of dogs.

When I moved away from Massachusetts, I drove to Oregon. I didn’t know how long it was going to take and I thought a packed car with a top UHall carrier, I figured a dog would be enough and leave the birds in the capable Mrs. Kossak, my ex’s mother; she had had birds of her own, so I knew Troy and Wilbur would be in loving hands. I used to be in touch with Phyllis, but enough time has washed away traces. I’m assuming she’s retired from the Massachusetts State Police. Her wedding must have been newsworthy as I did find mention of a gay trooper was getting hitched. And then there was an article about her wife’s dog; I can’t remember if it was stolen or what. Other than that a search for a Phyllis Kossak doesn’t help me much as the name is common. I’d also think that law enforcement profession would cause her to live under the radar. I couldn’t picture Phyllis being on Facebook, though people do change, and I did move away thirty-two years ago.

Wow, time sure does fly by.



  1. The part about leaving the birds to fly free in your dorm at college boggles the mind! My question is… what about the bird-poop? Didn’t people complain about that? My 1st husb. and I had a few different birds and they’d fly free in the house each day for a while and would be very hard to coax back into the cage!

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