Life thru the haze of cat hair.

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Hello! Come in and have lunch. Just sandwiches but help yourself.

*****

The ringing phone roused her from what could not honestly be called sleep. More accurately, it was a night full of tossing and turning while her mind played out every possible negative scenario. She had tried to sneak in a few possible positive thoughts, but they didn’t get far.

A quick glance at the clock told her that it was 4:05am, and it was time to get ready for the daunting task ahead. 

She showered and dressed quickly, all the while avoiding thinking what could be coming. She fed the cats, taking time she didn’t have to sweep up around their bowls. She knew she was delaying the inevitable. It was time to go.

The drive to her first destination, normally a trip that took 10-15 minutes, seemed to take hours. The  torrent of thoughts flooding her brain continued to prevent coherent thought. 

Finally, she arrived to pick up her passenger. He was pacing. Nervous. Anxious. His partner was equally nervous – talking too much. The needed to leave. She hugged the partner, and ushered her passenger out the door. 

The Passenger did his best to keep up a normal conversation, commenting on such mundane things as a trip to the local big-box store, and how hungry he was. She tried to keep present so that he would not notice her unease. She laughed when appropriate and commented on things about which she thought he would be interested. She wanted to keep his mind off things, as well. 

When they were almost at their final destination, they were stopped by a train. The building was visible over the trees and surrounding buildings, but the train cars continued to pass. Slowly. In all actuality, they were only stopped for about 3 minutes, but for the Passenger? It was just one more delay. Finally, the train passed completely and they made their way up the hill to the parking lot, and into the building where the Passenger would be staying. 

She and the Passenger walked in together – she didn’t want to leave his side until she absolutely had to. They looked around uncertainly until they saw where they would check in. They sat in the waiting area in silence. 

The Passenger was taken into a separate room and questioned. It wasn’t long until their escort came to take them into another area, for further questions and preparation. He was weighed and measured, his blood pressure taken, and blood sugar tested. She was taken out of the room when someone came in to do some more personal preparations. As she waited in the room down the hall, the nurse came by to see if she was okay. She was barely holding back the tears or the nerves, but wanted to appear strong for the Passenger. The nurse had an Ativan to give to the Passenger. She wanted the nurse to provide her with one as well. The nurse wouldn’t agree. Understandably.

Finally, it was time. The Passenger was completely prepped, and the gurney was waiting. She waited in the doorway until he was lying down and covered. 

The group of four – the nurse, the orderly, the Passenger, and She – made their way to the elevator, where she and the Passenger would separate. The elevator car stopped one floor down, and she was told that she needed to get off there. She hugged the Passenger one more time and told him she loved him. Then she and the nurse exited the elevator car, while the Passenger and the orderly continued their decent. 

As soon as the elevator doors shut behind her, the ugly cry started. All the anxiety she had felt for the past few weeks erupted. The nurse waited patiently for her to collect herself again. Then they walked to where the Passenger would be after the operation. The nurse kindly talked her through what would happen, what she could expect, and gave her numbers for checking in. Then, the nurse said the nicest thing – “Take care of yourself. The Passenger needs you.”

And with that, she walked from the building. 

Once in the car, she allowed herself one more cry. As she drove toward coffee, she noticed the sky. It was blue – a kind of angry, grey blue that happens before a storm – and pink – a mottled, bright pink that promised hope. The coffee tasted rich and soothing. 

She got home, and tried to sleep. It was no good. She got back in her car and drove to the Partner’s house. They could wait together. 

The call came. The wait was over.

“Dead man walking” stopped going through her head. Things were going to be fine.


Oh, hello! Welcome. Come and have some beef stew.

A big Mag and Moo welcome to Fiona! HI! *waving*

So, last night, I was in that really deep sleep where waking up feels like you are swimming to the surface through melted Nutella. (Just go with it. I’m hungry.) (But… HOW GOOD WOULD THAT BE? Melted Nutella?? I’m going to have to try that now.)

Anyway. You know the kind of sleep I mean.  Well, last night, as I swam to the surface, I thought I heard a very angry baby crying. I was thinking, oh, someone is so not happy. They brought the child outside. But something didn’t sound quite right. The baby’s cry didn’t have that sort of inhale pause.

So I realized it was a cat. Normally, the Wonder Twins each take up a post at the foot of my bed, like matching gargoyles. They keep me safe at night. I start to think that it is one of the Wonder Twins. OMG. What if I left the inside door to the garage open and one of them is hurt!?! I felt around with my feet and felt the 2 solid lumps. Whew.

The crying was outside. And it wasn’t just crying. It was real-live horrific screaming and crying. The poor cat had to have been terribly hurt. Just crying and screaming and wailing. So loud. So forlorn. My heart was breaking. I thought I should get up and go see if I could find the poor little nugget. But, really. What would I do then?

The crying stopped. Whew. But no. Whatever had done the damage came back. There was one final loud cry. Then everything was quiet.

I have no idea what became of the little critter. Or what set the whole thing off.

But I do know that hearing that noise that reached into my head and heart is something I hope to never hear again. It was so tragic.

I get that wild things act like wild things and survival of the fittest and all that. But, JMJ. I gave each of the Wonder Twins an extra hard hug and extra smooch before going back to sleep. And then again before I left for work this morning. I know they sit in the window during the day and watch the world go by. And they might even want to go outside. But last night confirmed to me that having them inside, and spoiling them rotten, is the right decision. I can’t imagine one of them getting killed by something bigger and meaner and never really knowing what happened. Or having them come home, all skun up (skun? It’s a word.) (Yeah huh!) from fighting back. It would break my heart every day. I adopted them to love them.

And I hope to keep doing that for a long, long time.

RIP little wild nugget. I’m sorry it was such a painful death. 😦


Oh Hello! Come in. Sorry about the dust and cobwebs. I’ll tidy up. But have some pasta salad.

I haven’t been around. I didn’t have much to say for a while. Now it seems I have a whole bunch of things, and hope I remember all of it so I can get it down here.

Let’s see… Last Thursday, I participated in the UW Day of Caring by helping to beautify the local YMCA. Weeding, mulching, etc. It was a long day, with a lot of work, but I’m glad I did it. While I was weeding, one of the residents came over to “help” me. Recently, the city closed a YWCA, so there are women living there too. So, this resident that came over to help me – I never did get her name – was very nice. I’m pretty sure she was a little bit crazy, but she seemed nice enough. She was telling me about her huge house 2 towns over, and the house on the beach in another state. Yes, she lives at the shelter and goes to another shelter for her food. She has a 15-year-old daughter with whom she doesn’t get along.

Then she started telling me about her husband, and how he beat her. She worked 2 jobs while he went to school, so now he’s educated and she’s not. And for some reason, she seems to think she can’t go to school now.

While she’s telling me all this, part of me was screaming in my head – I JUST WANT TO WEED!! I CAN’T HANDLE ALL THIS INFO!! But I tried to be sympathetic and most of all, just listen. I think that’s what she wanted most of all. I know that much of what she said was probably not true. And that’s okay. She wanted someone to listen to her.

She must have thought I was nice, too, because she went inside and brought out Minnesota. What? Yeah, Minnesota is a kitten. Probably 6 months old. Double paws. White with 2 different color eyes. OH EM GEE. What a sweet little boy. She was very proud of her little boy.

So, I’ll admit that my initial reason for volunteering for DoC was to get the day off from work, and also to add to my list of volunteerism. That is now part of my annual review – how much I help in the community.

But after that day? I have a new perspective. It is very easy to see a homeless person and marginalize them; avert your eyes; walk by without “seeing” them. But they all have a story. They all have a past. They all came from somewhere. What’s that saying? There but for the grace?

I’m not saying that I’m going to go sign up to work with the homeless or volunteer at the shelter. But it’s nice to get a new perspective and to see things from outside my comfort zone once in a while. I appreciate what I have so much more.


Oh, hello! Come on in. Have some tortellini. Grated cheese is on the side.

I am afraid

Why am I so afraid?

Afraid of so much –

Of success

Of failure

Of trying.

What is there to fear?

If I try, I will learn.

If I fail, I will learn.

If I succeed, I will rejoice.

But it all seems so scary.

The familiar is comfortable.

Growing is an unknown.

Stretching may hurt.

Watching others try

Make me envious.

Of their courage

Of their strength

Of their fearlessness.

Irony:

I want to get

neamhfhaitíosach

as a tattoo.

It means “fearless”

In Gaelic.

But I haven’t because

I am afraid

I can’t live up to the sentiment.

What happened to me

To make me fear being happy.

I don’t want to not be happy.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

I want to actually live.

I am afraid.


Oh, hello! Come in and have a coffee and a pastry. It is free pastry day at Starbucks, so I stocked up. YAY!

Dear Depression and Anxiety,

Go away.

I know I shouldn’t be so rude, but you have more than over stayed your welcome in my life. It’s time you move on to greener pastures; to someone who can welcome you with open arms and love you the way you deserve to be loved.

I would say here “It’s not you, it’s me”, but I can’t. It *is* you. You take up too much of my time and thoughts and energy. I am ready to embrace new, happier thoughts; new, healthier energy. I cannot do that until you get out.

Depression, you have been with me the longest. You have been an omnipresent cloud sitting right behind me for as long as I can remember. You have forced me to take pills to keep you from enveloping me completely. I don’t want to take pills any more. I don’t have a problem with “happy pills” per se, but when the very thought of “Did I remember to take my meds today?” awakens Anxiety, your partner in crime, I know it’s time to look at my dependence on them. Depression, because of you, I have taken on other peoples’ problems as my own. I have internalized so much more ICK than should be humanly possible to bear. You have encouraged me to sit out of my own life and miss out on too many fun things. I don’t want to miss out anymore. You need to find a new playmate.

Anxiety, what can I say to you? You show up at the most inopportune times, causing panic attacks and uncontrollable sobbing. I’m not entirely convinced you don’t also invite your friends, Self-Doubt and Self-Loathing, over quite frequently as well. I don’t want you, or your friends, around any more. I *know* I am a strong person. I *know* I am a capable person. And while my life, right now, may not be all butterflies and rainbows, I’m okay with that. It is the challenges that make us better and create new opportunities. I *know* that my life is great and getting greater. And I know that while your cousin, Nerves, might show up occasionally for a cocktail, that’s okay. He knows when to go. He doesn’t wait to be told.

So, old friends, it is time for you to go. I’d like to say it has been fun, but let’s be honest. It hasn’t been. You’re presence has caused weight gain, and tooth erosion from grinding my teeth. You’ve caused loss of friends and loss of opportunity. And it ends now. So, to quote the great Angela Bassett from the movie Waiting to Exhale: “Get your shit. Get your shit and GET OUT!!” (I love her!!) Your lease has been terminated. Your bags have been packed. And your taxi is waiting.

Best of luck to you.

MaM

P.S. Please tell Loneliness that he’s on notice and I’ll be talking to him soon. kthxbai.


Oh, hello! Help yourself to coffee.

Last May, I shredded my credit cards. I still have balances, but I now have no plastic. Well, other than my debit card. Yay for me, but OMG, do you have any idea how difficult it is to live these days with no credit card?

Why did I do that? It really had become not a choice, but a necessity. For the past several years before I took this drastic step, I had come to rely on my plastic in a really irresponsible way. In fact, I was living well beyond my means and had felt myself sinking and sinking. It got scary. So, now, almost a year later, I am sucking it up, buying only what I can pay for out of my checking account, and paying down my debt.

Looking back, I think I have been a “spender” for as long as I can remember. I am definitely not a saver. I wish I was, but I like pretty things and shopping used to make me feel better. I’m sure I could come up with some deep psychological explanation about my childhood, and blaming my parents, and the mailman, but guess what? It’s my fault. I can’t blame anyone but myself for being in the situation I now find myself. I wanted to have the nice stuff and all the clothes and blah blah blah. I’m sure it made me feel better to have people comment on the nice bag or blouse or shoes.

So finally, in May 2009, after I hit a fabulous sale at Cole-Haan for my birthday – I got a $400 purse for $59! (I love coupons!) – I went home, plugged in my shredder, and bzzzzzzzzzzzz, my cards were gone. I was sad and scared and excited and freaked all at the same time. What do I do now??  Again, I needed to suck it up and grow up.

So that is what I have done. I called the credit card companies, told them to close my accounts, negotiated a lower rate, and have picked away at the balances. A few have been paid off already. (YAY!) A few will take longer. Either way, my goal is to be debt free by this time next year.

How am I doing that? I am selling my stuff. On eBay. On Amazon. To anyone who wants to buy it. No, I’m not getting nearly what I paid for it, but selling stuff is doing a few things for me. It is bringing in some money, while at the same time, thinning out all the “stuff” I have in my house. As much as I would like to think otherwise, I was a really materialistic person before. ( I say before, because now, I can’t buy anything! hee hee). Some of the stuff I have let go has made me sad to part with. Some of it had really good memories or a story attached to it. Other stuff? Seeya! Good riddance. What the heck was I thinking.

Would I change something if I had to do it again? Would I do it again? Of course, hindsight what it is, I wouldn’t have gotten myself into this situation to begin with. But, yes, I’m glad I shredded my cards. I find myself thinking about each purchase now – is this something I *need* or want? Is it something I absolutely love? Will it improve my life? Will it be something I will have/use/love 3- or 6- or 12-months from now? This sort of screening process has really cut down on impulse shopping. I can actually go into Target now without coming out with bags full of stuff that I “had to have”. I get what I need, and move on. It’s nice.

What would I change? I would actually keep one card, for emergencies. Or travel. Recently, my job responsibilities have changed and I need to travel and that involved booking plane tickets and hotel rooms. One would think that the Gas ‘n Sip would give corporate cards for those who need to travel, but that’s not the case. We have to use our own, then get reimbursed. And, while it may not be an issue for some, I don’t typically keep $1,000+ in my checking account on the off-chance that I might need to go somewhere. It has made for a couple of awkward phone calls. So I wish I had kept 1 card for that type of thing. But otherwise? It’s nice to not dread checking the mail. Or to leave a store and think “Well, okay, how am I going to pay for that when the bill comes??”

Growing up is hard! Oh, and by the way. The purse I bought myself at Cole-Haan last year? I still have it, still use it, still love it. It’s been the only one I have used, mostly, for almost a year. So that was a great $59 I spent! \o/


Oh, hello! Come in. It’s the last day for donuts, so take two. The next snack will be *gulp* good for you.

So, just like every single other blogger, I am going to look back to see what I accomplished over the last year. But unlike ever other blogger, my introspection will be fascinating, I’m sure. You know, like watching grass grow.

2009. What can we say about this year. I’ll be ending this year the same way I ended last year – at a hockey game. It’s something I love to do. It will get me out of the city before all the real craziness starts. I’ll take it.

2009 was the year I came out of my shell a little bit more. I joined Twitter, which, in all honesty, is the ultimate time suck/chat room. It’s silly. It’s stupid. It’s fun. It’s make-believe. I noticed the other day that I have tweeted more than 6,100 times. And of that? 99% have been silly and fluffy. But I got some laughs from it, so I’ll keep doing it. I can Tweet something that is authentically me and if someone doesn’t like it, I can click “unfollow” and eliminate the judgement.

I also started this blog in 2009. I had thought about blogging for years. I even attempted to do one before. But I didn’t ever tell anyone about it, or do it with any idea about how it would go. (Clearly, I know what I’m doing now. I’m practically fluent in blog these days. *heh*) I started this one with a lot of trepidation, a lot of fear, quietly. I didn’t know if anyone would read it, or if anyone would like it, or comment, or re-visit. And while my count of people who have visited my site is low by some standards, and my comments section has the honor of a few regular visitors, I am flattered and a little bit giddy about every single view that is listed. *Someone* is reading. And for all the times I have looked at it, whether to reference a previous post, or just to “check the stats” (don’t judge me), I still have had what I consider a huge number of visitors and I want to thank each of you.

Work wise, I bid farewell to the age of the Leg Jiggler, and ushered in Smiley. The Gas ‘n Sip became the Gas ‘n Stuff. I don’t remember anything huge happening, although I’m sure that at some point through the year, something huge happened and I was traumatized at the time. I’ll take my memories, or lack thereof, as they stand now, thank you very much.

I also, most recently, spent some time wallowing in my grief that Madame X is sick. She seems to be doing a teensy bit better, but I have also (mostly) wrapped my head around the fact that she may be leaving my life sooner, rather than later. I can (almost) say that now without sobbing violently. Big steps for me.

Oh! I almost forgot that 2009 was the year in which I shredded the credit cards. I still have balances that I am really trying to pay off, but no new debt. YAY me! It’s really hard to live without a credit card, can I just tell you? I almost wish I had saved one, but I’ve met me. And it was all or nothing. And all was the only real option. Now I really think about what I buy, and whether I need it, or can afford it, or can still pay my mortgage if I buy it. It’s made me appreciate that which I do buy so much more.

So 2010 is about 14 hours away. I’ve already written about the regular intentions that I foresee. I have been tossing it around my brain, too, lately that I may actually attempt to read…. wait for it…. the Bible. Both the Old and New Testaments. I’ve read parts of it. But never all the way thru. I think before I can say it’s great or sucks or somewhere in between, I should read it. I foresee it being a full year’s project. I’m sure there will be a lot of it that I don’t understand or “get” but that’s okay. And who knows. After that, I could move on to the Torah and the Koran. Who knows. I might as well learn about the religions that are affecting the world most these days.

The other book that I want to get through this year coming is War and Peace. I want to see what all the fuss is about. And if it will really take me 42 years to get through it. I’m not skeered….

And, speaking of skeered, I would like to make 2010 the year I faced my fears. But more in the way of you know when you are asked to do something and you immediately say “Nope, can’t.” or start sweating or curling into a fetal position while whimpering? Those kinds of fears. Public speaking. Figuring out what happened in my early thirties that has virtually erased a number of the years from my memory. Something must have happened, however uneventful. What was it? Those types of fears. Not the “I’m afraid of bugs and heights” types of fears. I’ll save that for another time.

Will I achieve success with these intentions? I think I already have by putting them in writing. And however far I get in the reading of either the Bible or W&P, I will have made the start. Better than looking at them and thinking “Someday…”

So, 2009 was pretty uneventful in a lot of ways. And I’m starting 2010 with big goals. I hope that this time next year, I will be able to check off at least some of those as “Wins”.

And to you, my lovely, wonderful readers, I wish for you a 2010 of wonder and joy and health and laughter and love. I hope you all get what you ask for from the Universe and that it makes your life full and fabulous.

And however you are celebrating this evening, do it with loved ones, safely, and fully. I want to see all of you back here next year.

xoxo