Donna Anastasi Guest Blog: Are Gerbils Lucky?

Michy’s Book Reviews is pleased to invite Donna Anastasi, author of SPIN THE PLATE, to offer a guest blog post on our site. Welcome, Donna, and thank you for your post! Enjoy! Be sure to leave Donna Anastasi a comment!

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There are a couple of phrases that give me a back of the neck prickle and skin crawling annoyance: “play hard” and “serious hobby”. Don’t get me wrong. This country and the people in it would be much better off if adults took the time to play. But once it becomes “hard” or “serious,” you might as well head back into the cubical and get paid for it. I have an obscure hobby that started this time of year 12 years ago. I’d recently made it through a car totaling accident and while heading for a stone wall, vision partly obscured by the air bags that punched me in the chest and face, I really thought “this might be it”. A week later, still in that wiggy state of mind following that type of accident, I found myself wandering a pet store with my two then little girls. I’d always wanted gerbils. And why not? Why not just do the thing you want to do rather than throwing up excuses all the time on why you shouldn’t. My girls picked out two, one for each.

Now, I raise gerbils, show gerbils, judge gerbils, and travel the country doing educational events and pet expo exhibits. The gerbils give me a reason to do many things I wouldn’t otherwise do as an engineer in this socially isolated country, where people here in New England have never seen the inside of most of their neighbors’ homes. People come into my home regularly and often see the magic in the “gerbil room.” In addition to picking out their own gerbil pair, it’s a place where nothing is rushed. We chat gerbils, play with babies, and maybe even visit with a token resident rat or chinchilla.

Sometimes, after some conversation, I discover it’s a local celebrity that’s come by to get their children (or themselves) a couple of gerbils: a writer, an artist, a sandcastle sculptor, a cartoonist. As a wife, mom, and full time worker with a stressful day job, the demands on my time are constant. For some reason, though, no one bothers me when I disappear into the gerbil room to clean cages, give the animals activities that make them smile, or shhhhh…hide behind a closed door and the rain-forest-like sound of 60 gerbils all gnawing paper towel rolls at once. I’ll get on my computer and do a little writing just because I want to, just for fun.

Truthfully, I’m an introvert who’d just as soon hole up in the gerbil room and keep to myself. But for some reason this obscure gerbil hobby is a source of fascination to the general public. In keeping with my personal motto “It’s all for the gerbils” (or as I used to joke with the kids, “The gerbils come first”), I open my private world and gerbil room to all the newspaper reporters, the radio interviewers, and this week, associate producer and casting director, who call. In 2005 I wrote an Amazon-top-selling (still) gerbil care book, the gerbils have been featured in countless news articles, the New Hampshire chronicle, and NPR. A network now thinks that the gerbils may just be fodder for a reality show – you can see their casting videos on youtube.

So, are gerbils lucky? Being a person who doesn’t believe in luck, that I can’t say. I do know if you are good to gerbils, good things happen.

Me in the gerbil room: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAkeQs1V4L4

Gerbil Whispering: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DavbA7C0gE4

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You can pick up a copy of Donna Anastasi’s book, SPIN THE PLATE, visit the review of this book on Michy’s Book Reviews, or stop by Amazon.com and pick up your paperback or Kindle copy today!

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