This is Woz.
Woz is a seven-month-old African pygmy hedgehog named after Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. He’s been in my life since this past July, when my wonderful boyfriend Robbie gave him to me as a birthday gift. (For the record, there’s no birthday gift that can measure up to the gift of a pet, so I’m not sure what Robbie’s going to do for the other 80+ birthdays I’ll have, but that’s neither here nor there.)
When I tell people I have a hedgehog, I usually get one of three responses:
Since there’s really nothing I can say to either of the first two responses, I thought I’d honor Woz with his own blog post - a post about why I decided to get a hedgehog, and why I’m so glad I did.
I started 2012 with a new college degree, a new job, a new apartment, a new car and a new boyfriend. Everything that wasn’t new was, either literally or figuratively, far away - 234 miles separated me from my family, and the rocky transition between college and post-grad life separated me from my college friends. Though Robbie and I spent much of our time together from the beginning, his job often included 2-11pm shifts, and so all of these elements together meant that I was spending a lot of time alone.
After living with anywhere from one to 33 roommates during my college years, it was strange to have hours that passed when I was completely alone. To be honest, I loved it. I need alone time, and I need space, and for the first time I had a place that was completely mine. But I also wanted something to take care of outside of myself, and after putting the plant my mom gave me through hell, I hoped I would be a better pet mom than plant caretaker. I knew a college friend that had a hedgehog, and after seeing an adorable photo of a hedgehog online one day, I slowly started to become obsessed with the idea of getting one for myself.
Enter Robbie, who, by some strange act of fate, grew up with a hedgehog around the house. After his dear Hedgie, he knew the ins and outs of owning a hedgehog, and he tracked down a local breeder to begin the process. He presented me with a travel cage, food dish, water bottle and little hedgie house on my birthday, and Woz officially became mine a few weeks later when we picked him up from the breeder.
The rest is history. I love my little monster, and he’s been the perfect pet for me. Hedgehogs are incredibly low maintenance (in fact, they’d be fine with no human interaction at all), but Woz is incredibly loving and enjoys cuddling with us and exploring his surroundings. The vet told me that Woz is the most outgoing hedgehog he’s seen, and I’m so glad he puts up with Robbie and me enough to play with us.
Hedgehogs may be a less than mainstream pet, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense that Woz is mine. Growing up, my favorite author was Jan Brett; even now, my mom gives me a new Jan Brett book each Christmas to add to my collection. Hedgehogs play prominently in many of Jan Brett’s stories (one blogger even called her "the hedgehog queen") and the resemblance between her hedgehogs and Woz is uncanny. I don’t know if that’s fate or coincidence, but I think I loved hedgehogs long before I realized it. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that there’s LOTS of cute hedgies on Pinterest!
About two years ago, I started building a list of the “essentials” I need in my life to be happy. I’ve never written this list down anywhere, but it’s been floating around in my head since then, occasionally gaining additions as I discover something new that makes my life feel more complete. I generally consider myself a pretty low maintenance person, so the list isn’t long - just long enough. Today I’d like to share a few of these things with you.
1. My mom - my best friend, my confidant and my greatest supporter. The hardest part about living in Des Moines is being so far from her, though we set a goal of trying to see each other every six weeks - any longer and we both start to fall apart. When I’m stressed out or crabby, the first thing my boyfriend asks is, “Have you talked to your mom recently?” Even 5 minutes on the phone or a quick text make a world of difference.
2. Books. I didn’t feel settled into my Des Moines apartment until my parents brought down my boxes and boxes of books, and now, with my Kindle, I’m able to borrow and buy even more books without them having to take up space in my apartment. Whether they’re Kindle books or “real books,” just being surrounded by them instantly makes me feel secure, but I’ve also loved having the free time now to start tackling my “to read” list.
3. Running. If someone had told me six months ago that running would be part of this list, I would have looked at them like they were crazy. Five months ago, I started running for the first time, and while I’ve taken breaks here and there, it’s still hard to believe that I’ve logged almost 160 miles since then. As someone who always used asthma as an excuse for being in shape, I am more confident than ever that I can accomplish even the most daunting tasks if I push myself hard enough.
4. Taco Dip - a silly one, but it’s true! My cousin Kelly (basically my life-twin) brings taco dip to all of our family get-togethers, and it’s always been my favorite because it’s addictive, healthy and easy to make. I mix an 8 oz package of cream cheese with a bit of salsa, then layer on shredded lettuce, chopped green onions, diced tomatoes and shredded cheese (but I leave out the olives in the photo above - I’m not the olive fan).
5. Musicals. Somewhere around middle school I realized that I had no future in the vocal arts, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love musicals. The choreography, the over-the-top plot lines, the gets-stuck-in-your-head quality of the soundtracks - I find it all intoxicating. I’m thankful that Des Moines is able to bring such fantastic productions to the Civic Center, and Robbie and I are excited beyond words to see Wicked this December.
I’m finding it difficult to try to be all of the things that I want to be at the same time. And so, to sort things out, I thought I’d throw some attention at the Life List and focus in on a few other short-term goals for the rest of October to keep things under control (or as much under control as they can be).
The first three items are borrowed from the list of things I’d like to accomplish before I turn 23 on July 5, 2012. The rest are more specific:
Apple changed the course of my career by showing me the power of technology to connect people. I see it every day in the clients I work with and the customers who come in to my store. But beyond the company’s innovations in hardware and software, Apple introduced me to some of the greatest people I’ve ever known, and the one person I plan to spend forever with. I begin and end each day with Apple. Thank you, Steve, for being our greatest resource, our soul. Thank you.
The weekend of October 20-22 is shaping up to be the busiest weekend in recent memory, but I couldn’t be happier to have such incredible events to look forward to. Here’s what’s on the docket:
Thursday, October 20
Ballet Break at Glaza Studio (as usual)
Thinc Iowa Opening Party at Des Moines Social Club
Friday, October 21
Thinc Iowa Conference at Temple for Performing Arts
Thinc Iowa Happy Hour at Raccoon River Brewing Company
Thinc Iowa Closing Party at Americana
An Apple Store shift (currently causing a bit of panic - need a sub!)
Saturday, October 22
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in Downtown Des Moines
DU Good Day at Drake University
Iowa State University Homecoming Game vs. Texas A&M
On a whim, I entered a contest hosted by Silicon Prairie News, the voice of the Midwest’s entrepreneurial community, to win a pass to their inaugural Thinc Iowa conference. Focused on celebrating and enriching the common ground between startups and corporations, Thinc Iowa has an all-star cast of speakers and is THE place to be on October 20 and 21. I’m honored to have been selected as the contest winner and absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to attend this landmark Des Moines event. Thanks, Silicon Prairie News!