An Cat Dubh



I am doing pretty okay, considering and am now trying to decide if my mouth has mutinied.  I had a discussion about my sister about jaw clenching and how I’d been feeling like I’d been doing it lately but was relaxing and it was going away.  Now the whole thing feels sore and there’s a big discomfort and pressure when I move my mouth a certain way and I feel panicked and stressed DEFCON 11.   It was demonstrably fine all day and now, oh my gosh, broken.

I have also freaked out once today that my tongue was broken so…I am kind of taking everything with a grain of salt.  Kind of.

This is, if we’re paying attention, and I am so trying to now, one of the hard places where I in the past have just thrown up my hands when facing its challenges. In this case, it’s a health thing and a money thing.  I’m freaked out because something doesn’t feel right, I’m thinking the insurance is all questionable, and I feel insecure about dealing with what I need to do to get that squared so that I can get in if it becomes essential (I’m due for my appointment in a month or so) (I think).

But I am going to see what I can do about that.   I am at least going to give them a proper going-over with the toothbrush and letting myself relax where I can.

Tonight, I’ve actually gotten some cleaning done.  Got my desk cleared off and cleaned up.  This has been a task I needed to do, but also, it’s me wanting to not think about our dear sweet Madi (I think of it as spelled Maddie, but I have long since been overruled on this point and she was not, in the final analysis, my cat.)   We had to put her to sleep today.  My sister nursed that poor thing in the last few months of her life when a throat tumor at 16 overwhelmed the little thing.  She was small, even on kitty cat terms, having been feral and trapped in a trailer in Oklahoma before turning up in a cat rescue where our friend worked.  We were visiting her and, if I recall, going to A-Kon in Dallas for my sister and her friend to appreciate anime and for me to go any new place I hadn’t been before.  On the way back, we or…perhaps, I, was not planning on having any unexpected travelling companions.  My sister decided to bring home this black cat who had been at the cat rescue for two years.  I thought there had to be something wrong with her if nobody wanted her and wasn’t clear on why we should be the people to change that.  I remember being faintly testy about the whole arrangement, while my sister was totally clear.

But still, there she was, in the back in a cat carrier, crying in a desperate, mechanical music box voice as we drove under a billowing storm somewhere around Limon.  I was studying Gaelic at the time.  Half-studying, a dilettante, really.  As a means of distraction against the idea that we might all be blown to bits in some unforeseen tornado, we were tossing around names for this displeased creature.  I said madra was Irish for cat so we could call her that and shorten it to Maddie.  Turns out, with the sort of check that Google would have taken care of were we getting her today, that madra means dog.  And cat’s just cat, pronounced with a lovely Irish inflection.

But things stuck.  The cat stuck.  And she became a loyal, pleasant, jealous, good little house cat.  She didn’t want anything, but to be loved and so she was.  Until we had to say goodbye.

So today had that rough bit in it.  But we knew it had to happen, and so, here we are.  I feel the energy gone in the house, the change.  There’s just the one cat, my Lilybean, remaining.  I feel there was a gift in the compassion and love she engendered in us, and now in the psychic space that has been stretched wider as she’s gone.

More to say, but we’ll find a way to say it later.


A Fearful Symmetry


I don’t want to go there.  It’s useless there.  It’s all set on land where the dirt is so barren that it back draws away from the seed and leaves it to harden in the open sunlight.  Better to keep busy, keep the hands a’typing away.  Just create the sort of tinfoil of distraction that will keep all those alien radio waves bouncing off your sharp edges.

When you do have a spare moment of quiet and reflection, those sorts of thoughts come crawling, moving from cover to cover, sidling up alongside you as though there were present every minute of the day.  I was sitting in the car today while we were driving to and from a location for some of our autumn and winter events while the boss was taking care of an errand and I thought, I know, I know, I emphatically and logically and sincerely get that he’s not going to email me back.  Whatever I did that precipitated his choice to not email me back is unknowable unless I make the inadvisable move to email to find out.  To shout down the line, hey, did you know it’s been a month?  Did you fall down a well or something?  And I’m not going to do that.  He knows it’s been a month and if his arms aren’t broken and he’s not in such terrible shape that communication even to acknowledge the failure to communicate isn’t possible, then, this is a choice.  And I am not going to put this parrot on the pet shop counter and ask why the bird isn’t so perky lately.  It’s dead, Jim, it’s dead.

But in that car with the buzz of NPR in the background and a thousand business concerns and worries about my aunt on one side of the family and my uncle on the other, I just had the single, sincere wish that despite the logic and the death and the icy chill that frosted over something that seemed ready for life, I wish he’d just write me back.  That I could be back inside that warm and hopeful place rather than trying to destigmatize and recontextualize his absence.  That I could have that frightening build-up I was trying to back off of, and maybe that’s the thing…it doesn’t live where it isn’t wanted.  Maybe my reticence is the thing…oh, hindsight.

I saw my aunt and I realized I wanted to write something to give to her about how much she matters to me, some memories, some times and I don’t want to drop it as a rough draft here, it’s too personal for that.  She held my hand and I told her that I wasn’t worried again, that there was no reason to be, feeling suddenly as though the only reason I might say that is if there were some reason to worry.  But she told me she’d been angry at first, sad, but now, she feels as though perhaps she’s come to terms.

I don’t know.  Everything I feel right now is selfish.  Maybe a night on the mattress on the floor will make me as grateful as I ought to be.

Love In-Kind

There’s no closure! I need closure! I need for a door to slam in my face, for a Mr. Wonka to shout “Good Day!”, for Brunhilda to lean out of the balcony and warble a high C.
I’m learning a karmic lesson.  I’m trying to learn it, anyway.  Sometimes things just stop, abruptly and callously and frustratingly and nobody has a reason why for it.  Things that were forever just drop out of the sky.  I just refuse to check in.  I just refuse to chase.  I just refuse to be needing, wanting, a smear on the page.  I don’t understand this.  I scream that silent scream and feel my foot begin to cramp.  I can’t keep it in, I can’t let my body carry all of this again.  What the fuck, dude, what the fuck.
When do the Rockies play?  Not until 8:15 local time tonight?! I just want somebody I’m rooting for to win.
I see the correlation, the perfect cause and effect between when the letters started and when I started wobbling off the rails with this year’s diet attempt.  I was going along, keeping pace, walking the walk of the willing.  I had turned it over to fate, putting in the effort to drive it forward.  I was eating low-carb, exercising a bit, visualizing a lot, thinking about health.  Thinking about myself, worrying about pleasing myself with my own progress.  And then he crashed in on this party and a whole other set of functions whirled through their rust and came to life.  The factory in my ribcage called the workers back and started up the mill.  And in a seduction of words, you can get naked real fast and as Angel Olsen says, “I don’t mean my body, I don’t need my body, I’m floating, I’m floating…” and sneakily, behind the lines, between armor and skin, a bit of cloth weft and wove its way up to my throat.   This can’t happen was embroidered on its hem, all in black, neatly stitched.  And as I chattered along, making the motions of romantic entreaty, it gently, oh so gently, began to choke.
So I find myself, quite abandoned on this road, both by boy and breath.
Tonight, we dined in the Garden of Olives.  I ate breadsticks and some sort of chicken marsala and have some leftovers sitting next to me that I’ll either return to or save for lunch tomorrow.   I don’t care right now.  And I will regret it.  On every count.  And I know that, but apathy’s a fat motherfucker, sitting with the chain to the past and the rope to the future equally taut.  Nothing matters, except everything does, and even sadness seems like a waste of resources, but if I don’t get to be sad about things, I’m missing out on one of the best things about life.  Caring.
Also, Kim, if you happen to be reading this, I’m worried about you, darlin’!  Check in with me, pls, if you don’t mind.

Unexpected: Day Two Hundred Ten

146445_3243So as much of a jerk as I am about my panicked existence and my issues and troubles and problems and as much as I want to defend and hold dear my right to that panic, it’s true that life has a way of knocking that shit into next week every now and then.

My grandmother is probably a month or so away from passing away.  The nursing home called us directly today.   It might be more than that and it may be a lot less.  It may be a matter of days, so my father, her son, is getting ready to fly with my half-sister who can get cheap tickets up to Fargo and then to the farm to see her.  We, it seems, will follow…when it happens.  Bereavement days.  We, I guess, are waiting for that and we’ll make the drive up there, my parents, my sisters, my little sister’s boyfriend and goodness knows, maybe the dog.

I think now about how arbitrary deadlines and signposts and benchmarks actually are.  That my grandmother will never meet or know someone who fell in love with me or that I fell in love with is this stupid thought that is battering around in my head.  It is a hugely bitter pill on top of the fact that I lose the gin rummy shark, the middle sister, the fierce liberal, the gossip queen, the dearheart, the supporter, the Norwegian cook with her lefse recipe we struggle to recreate, the clever woman who was able to survive and build a family out in rural country with so much determination and love.  But I wasn’t waiting for that.  I wasn’t worried about that and it hadn’t mattered to me, pushed me, until now that I see this is really happening, that there is no second chance.  No way to say, hey, see, no, you have to wait for me.  You have to wait for me to perfect my body and progress my spirit and let down my guard so that I can find someone worthy enough to bring to you for approval.  You have to wait for my demands.  It’s so laughable and stupid, it wasn’t a stipulation, but it is a consequence of my life and I have to accept that, too.

Because I want these notes, here’s what I’m thinking:

That she is battering around in her own mind, as Linda Pastan’s poem The Deathwatch Beetle mentions.  That she is listless and weary, unable to walk mor than a few steps, not eating, that sooner or later Death will come and be welcome, that my memories of her are solid and true, if limited in number.  That my father is both present in the fact we are losing her and also, somehow, a hundred thousand miles away.  That my grandfather is stoic and a realist and none of us knows what that means for him, when his wife of 75 years leaves.  That maybe it will not happen for a good while yet and I’m half-eulogizing someone I haven’t seen in over a year. That quiet time in the house when my grandparents slept that my parents and I just did puzzles on the silent front porch.  The time before when my mother’s mother visited with us and we kids ran around and played with a bubble gun and rolled in the grass before worrying about ticks. That I am thinking about work deadlines and practicalities about leaving now or in advance of the festival.  That my little sister broke down crying.   That I felt the hot tears.  That I still don’t get it.

A Wild Thing: Day Nineteen

When you find yourself watching a movie with Jon Stewart in a romantic lead, followed by a movie with Julia Stiles as a romantic lead…god help me, it’s time to go find something else to do.  I love him, and as much as I’m not fond of her, she’s fine…but these are old movies and I’m watching them and dredging up mountains of rhetorical questions about the state of my reality.

It’s a very strange form of ETEWAF, though, that means I can flip out on the couch, decide enough is enough and then crawl into bed in this darkened room and turn on Netflix so I can watch the end of Carolina even though I’m irritated by maybe everything about it except Alessandro Nivola.  Yes, I am as shallow as a sheet pan.  I can watch it and mute it when I find it super embarrassing and turn my attention towards you, ever faithful and devoted disciple of the great blehhhhhhhhhh we chronicle here.

The days are getting shorter and I am running in the rain more and more in my ill-fitting red coat.  Ill-fitting at the moment because it’s too loose.  It’s leaving room for a lot of sadness, I think was taken up by honeypies and sugared violets, the giddy blur of summer, and just not having to think about it.  Used to be I was a bit stuffed in that coat.  I feel, sitting here, being confessional with you, that I will be again.  Because it is fall, and cold, and who gives a shit how I fit in one coat or another and it all slips so readily from my hand in this gray.

As I asked once, this gray follows.  Tell me, Nanshe, what have I done to tempt it?

But no goddesses of oneiromancy seem interested in returning my calls.  And all the fear and anxiety and anguish pull at me, but the diurnal wins out in the end.  I go to work, I work, I return.  I usually find that comforting.  Today, I don’t know what I find.

I woke up this morning when the alarm struck at 6:00am.  Technically an hour and a half before I usually do, an hour and a half more than the 30 minutes I give myself to get ready and fall out of the door onto the pavement.  I could have gotten on the bike now shrouded in a brick of darkness and exercised with that time.  I could have walked outside or something.  But at least I didn’t go back to sleep, I drank my shake, took the internet methadone and calmed down.

I need something I don’t have.  Something I can’t get.  Something important.

Maybe it’s that it felt like I couldn’t pretend that it was going to be sunny days forever today that makes it hard.  Maybe it’s hormones or hunger or…empathy or just resistance to long-term solutions.

I feel weepy and lonesome and in want of a harmonica.

I just want the goddamn hint about when to get off this hamster wheel and run off with my person.

Sorry.  Sorry.  Sorry.

Peachy Keen

I suppose it’s all going to have to be put down to bloggers’ prerogative that even though I am quite aware that I am emotionally hotwired right now and I really can’t handle the paranoid and depressing way I’m framing the events of the day, I’m going to post anyway.

I have to get this out of the way before I can deal with Calling In the One.

I am having one of those days when having a boyfriend would be, actually, really nice.  Nice when I have to go to events where every single person around the table is engaged to be married.  Nice when my little sister messages me with great news about her promotion and all I have more work, no raises, no health insurance, people throwing frantic and stupid at me all the time, expecting me to fix it.  Nice when I get the news that my uncle is having seizures.  Nice when I keep trying to eat and do the right things and always end up rolling backwards.

Sorry.  I know it doesn’t work like that.  I know that’s negativity leeching out of me and warping any slim potential chances I have of, y’know, seduction and allure and beaming out positive rays that somehow make people DTF.  I just haven’t felt this fucking sad in a long while.   This much of a fucking reality check.  So I need to vent before I curdle.

It starts with work just eating me alive, where I can’t even get away to eat lunch, but I do the best I can to eat the low-carb leftovers.  No, it starts with my weight going back up.  I know the answer is I need to work out or walk – it will make me feel better.  I just come home so tired.  These are excuses and I have to get past excuses.

I just was beginning to get a little clarity, a little bit of a grip, things where starting to clear up and they’ve gone all cloudy again and all the other forces in the universe have begun to re-assert their will over me.  I suppose I should be grateful that fate would even care to lift its thumb and catch me once more.

I didn’t screw up or capitulate as a result of all of this crap, which makes me happy.

CitO is writing about the way we emotionally invest in negative cycles.

I have to believe that same happiness my friends and acquaintances are able to achieve is accessible to me.  That I am not diminished, nor my quest, by the successes of others.  That however many hearts flung open cross my path, the only thing that matters is me being able to open my own.

And being there was a positive step.  Being with people my own age who were happy to see me was a good thing.  And I am happy for my sister.  And I had an instances of thinking maybe my face wasn’t so bad today.  And I tried to be open to ideas of love, I tried to think of Mr. Future caring about me instead of one character caring about another. I came home the most efficacious way I knew how.  I did my sit-ups.  It wasn’t all a loss even if I feel disappointed and worn out now.

She quotes Kierkegaard, “To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity.”

I think I know this, inherently, which is why the light behind my eyes  is both cold and burning.

The Cape

Okay, pucker up, buttercup because it’s time to put this rubber on the road.  We don’t want to have to turn back around and let everyone know that it all failed because of you, now do we?

Certainly not.

Alright.  I feel like a Christopher Durang play.  A playwright for whom my love once made me edgy and remarkable in your eyes.  I don’t know the stature of Mr.  Durang in the literary world now.  I don’t know if he’s still writing plays.  I assume so because that’s not the sort of thing one takes or gives up lightly.  But I know your stature and mine and it’s funny the high horse I once rode around on has run off, a wild thing I thought I’d tamed, and it’s funnier still that Christopher Durang remains – slashing thighs and Catholic nuns and dippy, ditzy men and women – but the we-ness of us is all but dissolved.

All but for my fist keeping hold of that last bit of dust.  Somehow I think that even if you never came back from exile, even if I never held your hand again, if I kept those crumbs of love and carbon and bone and best intention, I could at least grow a cactus with it.  A spiny thing, but alive, and sometimes wont to flower.   I was just thinking about you today when they kept telling me how convenient it would be to just have loved someone when the timing was right to love them.  How nice it would be now to have put to root something then, back then, with the foreknowledge of time, it would have been damn nice.  But in all these cases, the you of you is gone and my fist is trembling and now the thoughts turn strange, foreign.  Now I think of what relief it would be to open my hand and let the wind take you from me.  Let ever particle be cast the gusts, to the gasps and Chinooks and little breaths that would draw you down to the Santa Anas and leave you in some ravine, some Death Valley.

Something rather all or nothing about the notion, but then again, there was always something all or nothing about you.  And in the end, that was your saving grace, because if you’d given me much more than than nothing, I could have never let you leave.  I would have called in the National Guard.  I would have yelped out in the night.

Instead, I have these nice people around me.  And they say nice things without intonation, or borderline racist things without irony or self-awareness and I find myself sanding down the edges of whatever bullshit thing about me was ever edgy just to keep my way smooth with them.  But you looked at me and saw a real girl and I guess, sitting here, trying to bring myself to converse with them, knowing I’ll never speak to you again, I miss that.  I want that still, miss it, maybe more than I miss you.