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After coming to the realization that I can't care for 9 cats in a tiny studio apartment, I was on the line with the local ASPCA desperately trying to find options that would allow me to keep Pip.

And we found one. A spay that would also terminate the pregnancy. She'd been at the vet for 2 days, as she was older and very pregnant. She's home now and I think I can finally relax.

Like, relax in a way that will allow me to eat something finally.
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Anxiety dreams are good for one thing and one thing only: Catapulting me out of bed to frantically clean and thus burn off the extra, jittery, energy.

Speaking of cat - it turns out the youngest was older than we thought and now Pip is a week away from dropping kittens. That would make it 9+ cats in a 500 square foot studio.

With, furniture taken into account, really equals about 200 feet.

9 or more cats. 200 feet of living space.

I am getting super stressed. Shelters won't take in the kittens until they are weaned and I can't give up Pip. It's not her fault she is pregnant. I'll call shelters and see what they recommend.

I'm a bad cat owner. I didn't get Rupert fixed in time and there will soon be the very real danger of a huge, human foot trying to get to the bathroom accidentally crushing a kitten skull.

That's my biggest concern. That the kittens will be injured by sheer lack of space.
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I woke at 9:30 AM. Much later than usual, but I'd been hoping to stretch it to noon. I'd gone to bed terribly late and about an hour after, Jesse became violently ill. So I gathered a blanket, a bottle of cold water, and some crackers and sat with him on the floor, wastebasket in hand should he throw up, until he felt better enough to crawl back into bed.

I must have gone back to bed around 4 AM. Sleep, as it ebbs and wanes, is such an unpredictable creature. Tempestuous and mercurial.

It is another day of wondering why the hell I write. Over the last two years, my journal has become far less of a discussion and more a scream into the void. Nothing but temper tantrum after temper tantrum.

I've lost energy to directly reply to comments, which isolates me even further, as I know that public journaling requires giving direct replies to those who are willing to speak to me.

I grieve that and can only hope, as time goes on, I can go back to what my LJ once was: A real conversation between all of us.

I also feel bad for my kitties. I often toss them off of me (most of them are pretty cuddly) because my joints can't handle even the slightest extra pressure. Even when my joints CAN, there's often GI or skin sensitivities to consider. Their favorite place to lie down is on my chest or stomach. So as I'm wishing for their contact, I'm pushing them towards my legs to lay down there, petting them the whole way.

Cats, despite their reputation, are not nuanced creatures. Talk about giving them mixed messages. Yeeeesh.

I've run out of Hydrocodone to deal with the migraine pain. And as the medical field is now paranoid of turning patients into junkies, I can't get more until my official dr appointment, days away. The blood pressure meds do drive the pain downward - significantly - but it doesn't take the pain away enough to be functional. I can also take only so many of the blood pressure meds and am SOOO NOT WILLING to take the chance of messing more with them. I have no one around me that either has extra Hydros or would be willing to give me extra Hydros.

A friend of Jesse's gave me a few pills called Propoxyphene. It's opiate based. I don't do so well on opiates. They usually make me horribly ill. But I'm willing to do almost anything to relieve the pain right now. The FDA had discontinued the med due to heart arrhythmia being a possible side efffect. I'm not worried. Every goddamn medication I'm on lists "heart arrhythmia" as a possible side effect. Hell, Tylenol lists that a possible side affect.

It seems to be taking care of the pain. I've also no need to violently hurl up stomach bile, as is usually the case with opiates. But just the sheer NUMBER of pills I take a day does a number on my stomach. If things are going well, perfectly, absolutely, well, then the pills just settle in and I'm fine.

Throw off any other part of my system, though, and I'm unable to do anything but moan about in bed. This body is fragile. So fragile and far more connected to its various operating systems than I ever knew.

God, if I could go back in time and bitchsmack myself for every time I joked that I was immortal. And maybe I AM immortal (so far, so good), but it's the kind of immortal that Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn had in the movie "Death Becomes Her". Where being immortal does not necessarily include a functional body to BE immortal IN.

And really, if your body parts are falling off, what's the point of being immortal anyways?

Bitch, moan, complain, complain. It's a sure enough sign that I'm at least clear enough TO be able to bitch about things. But I get tired of it just as much as anyone else around me does.

But I have no filter and even if I did, would never use it on LJ. This is the place for bitching. As much as my writing is for others, it's still a continuance of what I've always done: write for myself, to untangle it all, to keep record of it all, to try and find some box I can at least temporarily place all the bullshit in.

Thank you, mother, for the burning of all my journals over 20 years ago. You burning an effigy of me helped me realize I was someone important enough to even BUILD an effigy to burn. It's twisted. It was nothing short of heartbreaking and enraging. It still stings today.

But goddamnit, it proved to me that I should keep writing, no matter what that writing is about.
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I used to have a body clock set in stone. For my entire life, I was awake at 5 AM, usually damn near on the dot. 5 AM. No alarms needed. No one woke me up at that time. My body just liked waking up at 5 AM. Nothing could change that wakeup time, even as I occasionally tried to shift it. Even on Abilify, which fucked my sleep SO HARD, I could not stay asleep past 5 AM.

So, 5 AM it was. 5 AM since I was 14 years old. It used to give my foster parents a hell of a scare, as they'd walk into the kitchen about six in the morning to find me already wide awake, cup of coffee in hand, scrawling in my journal. It was often the only time I was alone and could write with abandon. Even as a teenager, I recognized how important that was.

Like, seriously, I used to skip classes to go somewhere alone and write in some goddamn peace and quiet. I didn't skip to go party (even if I was already drunk). I skipped just to get a calm, midday writing break.

If I'd smoked that young, there would have probably also been a cigarette hanging out of my mouth. Still, the early wakeup times were always a little jarring for my various foster parents. It also annoyed the hell out of my Mom, who is also an early riser and disliked her alone time being interrupted. As an adult myself, I finally understand that irritation. No fault on you for that one, Mom.

Speaking of my mother )

But the whole slow typing thing is what gave my intake counselor and I a break long enough to get super excited about seeing a cat outside the window. It turns out that he is also a fan of cats, usually owning about three to four cats at anytime. It gave us something to connect over, which always makes the intake process easier.

I mean, the dude was so excited at seeing a cat at work that he left his desk and peered out the window with me for, like, a solid five minutes. It's rare enough to meet an older man who likes cats. It's even rarer to find one that will, with the same glee that I have, talk about their cats. It gave us conversation material between awkward silences.

He did peer at me, a little surprised, when I noted he had a copy of the Fifth Edition of the DSM and asked him if they'd finally moved Bi-Polar under the Schizoaffective umbrella. It turns out they did, which was a private relief, as I'd written a 12 page paper promoting that exact thing in college.

They always look at me a little strangely when I say things like that. But hey, I've been in some form of therapy (either talk, medicinal, or group) for over 20 years now. You pick up some of the lingo along the way. And once the internet became a viable search tool, I was off like a rocket to read everything I could about my mental health conditions.

I try to do that with lupus, but lupus is scary as shit. Sometimes I just don't feel brave enough. Or physically well enough, as a computer screen can cause lethal (or, again, what FEELS like lethal) headaches and nausea.

Alex, I'll take Sunglasses In An Otherwise Completely Darkened Room for $200.

But you don't conquer learning the coping skills of MENTAL health in 8 months, so I imagine you also don't conquer the coping skills of MEDICAL health in 8 months, either.

So the therapy intake went well. Exceptionally well. I have both a psychologist (the talky type) appointment set up for next week AND a psychiatric appointment set up in three months. (I've endless refills on my psych meds right now. It's no rush to get at them.) It took about three hours, to which the staff was exceedingly apologetic about. But I never expect a psych walk in to be ANY LESS THAN three hours, so I told them no worries about that.

See? Psych shit I know. Easy breezy. The hard part these days is making sure I can physically get to the appointments. The process of reaching out and making professional contact, however, is like riding a bike. You don't ever really forget how to do it. It takes a while to initally learn it, but once you do, all you experience is a wobble or two when you climb back onto the seat.

My bicycle is not in great shape these days. It's rusted, the tires need refilled and I've got several spokes that are broken and jutting out, just waiting for someone who hasn't had a tetanus shot to wander by and get jabbed in the knee with. But at least I AM getting back on the wheels.

I'll die if I don't. I know that now. And as uncool as my beat up bike makes me look, I'll look a hell of a lot worse if I'm fucking dead. So let's not die, Teressa.

Let's just not die.
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Ahh, how does that go? No rest for the wicked? I get an amazing day's worth of energy earlier this week (though procured only after 5 days of straight sleep) and then, as if returning to chastise me for my cheer, come the nightmares.

The worst kind of for me, which involves my cats. Silly, I know. Other people have dreams about their kids. I don't have children. So it's my cats in peril or who are lost and I cannot find them, I cannot save them. Or it's kittens that I have to abandon in some apocalyptic situation to ensure my own survival, their mewling echoing in my ears when I wake up. Or I stumble upon cats that are dying or mutilated and it's up to me to put them out of their misery, sobbing the entire way through the mercy killing.

Those are the dreams that I will wake up crying from. Monster dreams? PTSD dreams? Screaming. Those I will wake up screaming from. In some way, those are easier. I just turn on all of the lights, write out my mindfulness exercises on Livejournal, and lay back down (all lights still on, of course.)

These dreams about animals?

Those shatter my heart.
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Rupert, the little kitten, likes to chase down and eat cockroaches. Since bringing him home, our roach problem is nearly eradicated.

I don't know whether to be grateful or grossed out.
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Rupert, my new kitten, is frighteningly cunning. It seems there is nothing that can foil him in search of food and scavenging. We've had to cover trashcans, put bagged food in cans with lids, all kinds of things to try and keep ahead of him. He was a stray, so it makes sense.

However, I just realized that while he may be cunning and resourceful, he is not smart.

I just caught the cat trying to gnaw on on a broken piece of glass.

Cunning. Not smart. Silly cat.
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Outside of caffeine and nicotine, at least. I've cut waaay back on caffeine, often not even making it through half of my first cup of coffee for the day. Soda has been nearly completely eradicated from my diet - and when I do have it, it's caffeine free soda. Nicotine? Still at 2 packs a day. But past that?

It's food. When I find something I can eat, I overindulge like a motherfucker. Thankfully, it's healthy foods, as I haaate what going over on my renal diet does to me. But I've found that I crave the "the food coma" that over-eating produces. It's comforting and relaxing - things that are often in short order lately.

I also realized, with firmness and some form of finality, how sick and tired I am of bitching about lupus. I mean, it's been eight fucking months. The amount of anger and sorrow spilled over those last eight months has gotten my head all kinds of confused and mixed up. So I'm going to do my best to find other things to write about.

There will be plenty of rageful, despairing posts ahead. But damnit, I'm more than this disease. It's time I begin to accept that and let it show.

Which probably means endless posts about my cats. But hey, that's better than drowning in self-pity and anger.

Speaking of cats, Rupert has finally stopped sleeping in trash cans. He now sleeps anywhere in the main walkway. I wonder how long it will take him to realize that his constantly getting stepped on is due to where he has taken residence.

I don't know if cats are smart like that, though.
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* Does anyone remember when businesses used to open up at 8 AM? Now it seems they all open at 9 AM. This is fine and dandy if you wake up at 8 AM. For someone like me, who is often awake hours before? It just means more aimless waiting around for the clock to tick forward.

* We've (as in my psych and me) have discussed adjustments to my psych meds, Matrix, except we are all out of medications to try. I can't have anti-depressants, I've reacted EXTREMELY poorly to every anti-psychotic we've tried, and too many benzo's is a bad idea in general.

There's simply no other class of drug to try. The most we are able to do right now is to make a regular schedule of taking my Xanax daily, instead of just waiting for the next anxiety attack to hit me first.

So we'll try that. It seems to be helping, as I have managed to sleep over the last couple of days.

* Cats + loose stacks of paper = a veritable hailstorm on my carpet. Cats, WWHHHYYYY?

* There are food pantries to go to, it's just that being as it's all donations, there's rarely things there that I can eat (at least in full.) You never know what's going to be in the pantry when you get there. But today, being as we were literally out of everything but a can of expired black beans and two eggs, I hit three food pantries.

I got exceedingly lucky. There were plenty of foods I could eat, even more foods that would make an acceptable, small side dish with, along with even MORE food that Jesse could eat.

* Spoons all spent for the day, but now we have food for the next two weeks. WORTH IT.

* Also managed a stop at a grocery store for milk, a dollar store for cold medication for Jesse, and scooped out kitty boxes and did dishes, including clearing out the fridge and washing all the tupperware in it.

* Good day. Productive day. Damn good, productive day. Now for a good, productive nap.
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* Let's have chicken for breakfast. Start out the day with some protein and see how that feels.

* (forget that I have four cats)

* OMG CATS, I love you but THIS IS MY FOOD. *bats away kitties*

* Kitties continue to press forward.

* Eating breakfast has become warding off the Mongolian invasion.
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So I decided to hate myself in the most loving way possible and went to Denny's and ordered the Zesty Nachos. It wasn't the food I was craving specifically (although GOD I'VE MISSED NACHOS THAT WAS SO TASTY) - it was the environment. Being as Jesse sleeps, and this is a studio apartment, I keep the lights off while he's sleeping. It also gets very cold in here. It's easy for me to feel isolated, depressed, and poor in a very primal sense. I needed light, warmth, proof of life and people eddying beside me as I sat somewhere and drank some coffee. I needed to hear other people's voices, see faces, be warm, be doing something comforting.

Coffee can be very comforting for me. Apparently, so can nachos.

The serving size of these nachos was FUCKING HYYYUUUGGEEEE. I mean, I'm an American and even I was shocked at how much food there was. Like, four inches tall of nachos, easy, maybe five.

This is the land where a 1,500 calorie meal is considered ONE meal out of THREE for most citizens, and I was still shocked. I managed to wolf down half, the other half can go to Jesse.

I guess this whole renal diet is really showing me portion control. I wonder what it's like in other countries.

A thing of note: I have a new cat. A kitten named Rupert. It was a bit of a struggle at first - Jesse is not a pet person. He says he gets too attached and it hurts too much when they die. Well, pets die, so says I. And it becomes something you learn to live with, even embrace, should the loss become too much. It's just the nature of loving things with shorter lifespans than us - if you want the lovey feelings, you have to accept the losses as well.

I have done so, as I feel the benefits of having pets way outstrips the grief of losing them. Jesse? Still not convinced.

Three hours into having Rupert into our home, Jesse was Chosen. Jesse is not sure how he feels about that, but as I've told him, it's too late. Cats choose YOU and there's little say you have in it. The two cuddle and play. It's adorable and life-affirming for me to watch.

They say laughter is the best medicine, but for me, it's cats. Like, a whole bouquet of them. A basket full. A stadium full of kittens. It's easy to see how one gets to be that truly crazy lady with 19 cats, though. You just train yourself that loss = a new cat, and before you know it, you've got more canned cat food in your cupboards than you do human food.

But one kitten totaling four cats is my happy place - and one I've been at for most of my life. I like owning multiple pets, as they inevitably are different ages and die at different times, you also get to experience the different personality traits of their ages. It's really quite fascinating - and extremely endearing.

I don't get non-pet people. (Unless you have kids. Kids and pets is A LOT of work) I mean, I don't really get people who have fish or birds or stuff that's not cuddly or fuzzy, but they are still pets, so I can kinda wrap my brain around it. But still - totally non pet people - do. not. get.

I am full with a meal that I will surely regret here within a few hours (nachos, and having ate that much, with all that sour cream, cheese, salsa, beef, peppers - basically everything on my No-No list), but feel so much better. I am alive. I'm not alone in this tiny, dark, fucking freezing apartment. All I have to do to prove to myself that Life exists is to get in the car and go buy a two dollar cup of coffee somewhere.

And having a new kitten. That's not a requirement, but it damn sure helps.
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I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but yes, it is possible to put too much cream cheese on a bagel. Had to scrape some off this morning. First time for everything.

As I've been eating toasted bagels, it reminded me of an old cartoon PSA that has always stuck in my mind. Strongly. At the end of every Inspector Gadget episode, there was a mini Public Service Announcement, usually reminding children to not do things like dive into the shallow end of the pool or get into cars with strangers.

This one was about getting electrocuted. Inspector Gadget was trying to get a stuck piece of toast out of his toaster and because he has the world's most inconveniently placed Swiss Knife on his head, he attempted to use this gadget. Because that gadget is made of metal, he of course gets shocked and falls over.

That's when Penny steps up to the camera and tells us to never, ever use anything metal in the toaster. Since then, I have always kept a plastic utensil, a fork, a knife, sitting right next to the toaster. And every time I have to use that plastic utensil to dig out a tilted piece of bread, I hear Penny's voice, congratulating me on doing the right thing. It is so strange, the childhood PSA'S, that stick with us.

It is part of why I like iZombie so much. At the end of each episode, there is usually a fourth-wall-breaking revelation or thought that the character shares directly with the audience. While it'd get annoying for EVERY show to do that, a show with some heart works it very well.

Adventures in Cat Burglars: Or, how I accidentally used a cat to perform a break-in yesterday )

I signed up for some service work with AA. Once a year, we will go to four high schools to talk about alcoholism. While most of the kids will have no experience with alcoholism itself, some of them will be going home to alcoholics. A few more of those kids will have temporary but painful drinking binges.

But a few of them, the smallest percentage of them all, will either already be or will become alcoholics themselves. It's kind of like a pre-emptive 12th step, or at least a chance for education.

It's usually done by old-timers. Real old-timers. Old white guys in their 40's, 50's, or older. And that experience is not at all to be discounted. But I know as a teenager, it's hard as hell to listen to people "that old."

I got sober at 19. I'm thinking this might give the kids a slightly different perspective on the whole deal. Or at least the idea that (1) you don't have to be old to have this problem and (2) you don't have to be old to work on this problem.

I remember how frustrating it was to even convince anyone that I had a problem at that age. I knew it 17, knew it in the back of my head that all alcoholics know the first time we take a drink. But all of the grown ups - my teachers, foster parents, social workers, etc - thought I was just partying it up like a normal kid. Only one of my friends had any experience with alcoholism, a friend's mother, and while a few other classmates tried to reach out, all I could get from other people was "Just don't drink so much. Slow down. Just have a few shots. You're young, you're just rebelling."

It was, like, the LEAST helpful thing I could hear, and for the most part, that's what I heard. If I had heard a speech, a story, a goddamn PSA from someone near my age at that time, it would have saved ME a lot of time from the constant, internally tormented questioning of whether or not they were right.

I knew they weren't right. I knew they were dead wrong. But when the world tells you one thing, and you know another, it's easy enough to go along with the crowd. And the crowd told me I didn't have a problem.

It's funny how that stuck. The whole "you don't really have a problem, so you don't really need the help" thing. Because I was so young, a part of me worried that I was just reaching for attention, and so I drank harder and harder in an attempt to show that something was really off. That didn't get me the help I needed, so aside from the basic biological workings of addiction (that we just keep going and going and going), I fell into other drugs.

Hell, there was a time when, even when I had needles sticking out of my arms, I questioned whether or not I was acting out of sheer drama-making. Like I wasn't "worthy" of help. Like I'd be taking away help from someone who REALLY needed it.

Turns out that help from addiction is not finite resource, nor does one have to hit the bottom of an OD to deserve help. There's a reason why we (at least officially) limit our definition of who belongs in AA as "those who have a desire to stop drinking." Doesn't say anything about what you have to lose to get there.

Not that I desired to quit drinking at 17. I just wanted some confirmation that yes, I had a problem. Some kind of reassurance that I wasn't crazy, that I had some kind of self-awareness worthy of note.

I think everyone needs that last one.
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As small things tend to do, one of our cats, one of the two I've been watching with Pat, died today. Very sudden, nearly complete organ failure out of nowhere. Both the vet and I were amazed she held on long enough to get to the vet's office, held on long enough for Jesse to get Pat from work.

She was in pain, yowling in the way that things do when they are dying. She was wheezing, panting. Pat and I made the decision quickly, as she was suffocating to death. Pat and I held onto each other and wept as the needle was slid in.

The fact that Pat and I have been divorced for over seven years made no difference in how tightly we clung to each other, how we sobbed into each other's arms.

Both him and I know this part very well. When you own lots of animals at the same time, one or two of them are inevitably always passing. I was, at first, wondering if she had just hurt herself or broken a leg. But she became limp - that's the first sign. She then could not hold up her head - that's the second sign.

And then I felt her body temperature dropping. That's when I knew. That's the final sign. When the vet took her temperature, it was so low that it did not register.

Others have been surprised that I can tell when a cat is dying. I've held enough dying cats in my arms to know, though, and I knew. I messaged Pat and told Jesse we had to go to the vet, now, or else we'd be accomplices in animal cruelty of the worst kind.

They will not suffer, not so long as I have the power to end it.

I came home and fell into a restless sleep. A wonderful dream in which I was a man with a small terrier dog. A dog named Maisie, and I knew that her and I had been together for many lifetimes, in many forms, as many different people and different animals.

We would always be together, even if we were other people.

I come back to this:

"The reason their lives are so short is because so many of them need our love."

Grant, I will always come back to that. It will always comfort. It will always ease. Thank you. My lifespan, at a wildly best estimate, will be 80 years. Theirs are measured in a cresting decade. I have another 50 years to give.

And I will love as many of them as I can.

Be brave

Oct. 3rd, 2015 09:24 am
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I had dreams about cats last night. About going to an animal shelter and wanting to take them all home, but I only had room for one cat, and about how I wanted to take home a kitten, but I was scared to, in case it died suddenly like the last two kittens I've had. I asked the lady to see the cats on Death Row, and I wept when I saw just how many were scheduled for euthanasia.

In the end, I chose a middle aged cat, because the older cats always have a harder time getting adopted. I didn't want to leave the room with all the other kitties that would die that week. As if by walking out of that room I was personally responsible for leaving them to their deaths.

It makes me want to cry even now. Dreaming about cats is like other people dreaming about their kids. It shows domestic worries. It shows guilt over Giles's death, to which it's been MONTHS. You'd think I'd be over it by now. Not so, as it turns out.

Strangely enough, it is dreams with cats that produce tears for me. I may wake up screaming from a dream involving the abuse of my stepfather. I may wake up terrified from a dream about monsters. But it is only dreams about animals that make me cry. Maybe not so strange, as I often feel my greatest responsibility is towards my pets. Far more than towards Jesse or Pat or even myself.

They and I will get along if I do something crazy that drops me out of the "aware and mentally well" game. My animals? They can't pour their own water or ladle out their own food. They don't understand it when someone suddenly isn't their in their lives. They just know they are hungry and that there's someone missing in their lives.

I have an obligation to be there for them. There have been times when my cats have been the sole thread that kept me tied to this earth, the one thing that kept me from snipping that thread and floating off entirely. I do not have children. I do not have that singlemost, often deepest reason for living.

But I have them. I have an orange tabby, with orange eyes the same color as her coat, edging up in age to well past the senior years. (She's about 12 or 13, as far as we can tell.) I have a fat gray and white tabby, who attacks socks and underwear and hates to be petted on her belly, who has arrived at middle aged herself this year. (7 years old.) I have them and I must, must stay present enough in my life to keep having them.

It is strange for me to have only two cats. But as Pip is most certainly FLV positive now, and Judi, while vaccinated, might be as well, I cannot in good conscience, bring another animal in. When Pip passes, and if Judi tests negative, I can then adopt another cat. I wish to, wish to right now, even. My happy place is FOUR cats. Jesse's happy place is two, as he has allergies, but to hell with that, I say.

(Okay, not so much "to hell with that". But to "when we get medical insurance you can get actual allergy shots and then it won't be so bad for you", I say.)

I will do something that I've always wanted to do but never had the room to do. When it is time to adopt, I will adopt a pair of cats that need to be adopted together. I've never had the room to do that, as having three cats and adopting two more is too much for this small space. (Wouldn't be too much for ME. I'm pretty sure my happy place could be TEN cats, had I the room.)

But when Pip passes, and I'll only have Judi left, I'll finally be able to do that. Animals that have to be adopted in pairs often are left without. They wind up on Death Row with an extremely high frequency. I'll be able to do that, to save two more animals than were saved before.

I don't know if I could ask the shelter to see those on Death Row. Going into a shelter, even in just the normal rows, leaves me awash in tears for a week. To see all of the animals I couldn't save? It would take a brave person to do that.

I'm not sure how brave I am. But maybe I will. This is all quite a ways down the road. Pip could pass at anytime due to her age and FLV positive status. (Though god PLEASE NOT THIS YEAR. I don't know if I can handle losing three cats in one year.) But she seems to be in good health, as is Judi.

The time to let them go, to bury them, to bring another cat home in their places will come all too soon. I know this. There's never enough time with animals. But as you said, GrantP, maybe the reason their lives are so short is because there are so many of them that need to be loved.

I really like how you put that. It was beautiful and it helped ease the pain of Giles's passing. It is something that I will forever now pen into entries when one of my cats dies.

Writing this out helped. I don't feel so much like lurching over in tears, as I did when I first woke up. It is good to know that many of you - most of you - understand how deep and moving this subject is for me. Jesse himself likes cats but is not an animal person. He has said recently, though, that he is afraid to get close to Pip, who has chosen HIM as her human.

(Y'know, people don't choose cats. Cats choose people.) He'd gotten close to Giles and that hit him hard when Giles died. He's worried about the same with Pip.

But I tell him that love is inevitable when it comes to being in this household with cats. And I tell him that it hurts, but that they - and so many others - still need our love. Be brave, I tell him. Know that the inevitable end will arrive long before you are ready for it, and know that you are brave and open enough to love the next animal that comes through that door.

Like you said, Grant - there are so many of them that need our love. I will never shirk nor quail before that statement.

All this said, I need to scoop out the litterboxes. Work has worn me out the last couple of days and I'm pretty sure they are going to start rebelling and peeing on the floor. This carpet is old and cleaning it is a bitch. Better get to that.
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One of the most useful beauty tips I ever came across was that spritzing a light coat of hairspray over your eyes will set and hold your eye makeup. It will set it like a motherfucker. You want all day, all night, wake-up-with-sexy-smudged-but-still-recognizably-there eye makeup? Spritz and spray, bitches. Spritz and spray.

(Close your eyes, of course, but not TOO tightly. Otherwise the hairspray will just pool in the creases and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD DOES THAT HURT.) I am also forever on the hunt for truly long lasting lipstick.

When they invent a blow-job resistant lipstick, then I'll be impressed.Screw subtley )
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5 AM

The problem with having a work schedule that gets you up at 2:30 AM is that 5:00 AM constitutes "sleeping in." I would have liked to sleep longer, but that's still hours of extra sleep. It works. I also wake up with a monster case of heartburn. Thanks, body-that-is-in-its-mid-30's. It often amazes me, the small but extremely noticeable differences between your 20's and 30's. I often tell people that I feel young (and generally I do, because I am relatively young) but I can feel the slow, ticking hand of mortality wrapping its fingers around my spine. It hasn't got but a loose grip, but I can feel it. I know it's there.

And my own reactions are often surprising to me - in at least as I thought I'd react more casually to it.Aging, Computer Shit, Chorizo and MOTHERFUKING WATER )
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It has been nine days since I had to end Giles's life. It feels much longer and yet, much shorter, as Time does when you're in grief. I look back at the last entry before he died, only two days before. I look back and I choke, thinking "Oh god, if only I'd known."

Managing grief )

And I need to get to responding to individual comments, because you won't know HOW you've helped me until I tell you. This is my goal this week - to respond, to let you know, specifically, because this process - and you guys - deserve that.

As happens on a semi-regular basis, Jesse brought up my writing again. He continues to expound on this magical gift he thinks I have and continues to insist that I need to do something with it.

Here's the thing: Do I think I write well? Yes. Do I want to be published? Sure, in some vague way. Do I want to put in the work and discipline to produce publishable material?............Not really. I don't even care what you call it anymore. Call it laziness. Call it a fear of success. Call it a genuine lack of expendable energy. Whatever you call it, it sits square in the middle of me and the rat-race-that-is-modern-publishing, let alone the effort to continually pound out words about the same subject day after day.

(Cuz that's the thing about memoir writing - you can't just toss out a life story. Good memoir writing is a flashlight shone over AN ASPECT of your life, not the whole damn thing.)

He's jealous and freely, without prompting, admits as much. It seems silly to me for him to be jealous, as his own writing is beautiful. He simply doesn't do much of it. I understand part of his own insistence about my writing is fueled by his difficulties to write himself, but it's still a strange turn of topic when it arises.

I appreciate every wonderful thing he says about my writing. Make no mistake, I'm a writer and we have MONSTROUSLY hungry egos. Hell, in some petty way, I even appreciate his jealousy. I just wish that the world - and he - were okay with the writing I do. I know it's not much. But it DOES reach people. It reaches all of you. It reaches me. My ego may very well daydream of reaching millions of people - but my ego is also allergic to the kind of work it would take to do that.

I know it's a small corner of the world here on LJ and DW. But it's a corner of the world where all of you live. That's where I need to be. There's no saying I couldn't be here and other places, too, but I'm just not up for the rigors of travel. Here is good. Here is beautiful.

Here is here, and it's where I want to be.

Big enough

Jun. 14th, 2015 06:45 am
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Last night Jesse and I had our first play session with UniG. It was a wonderful experience, bonding on several levels. But that's another entry.

Pip wanders the house, mewling, sniffing in the spots Giles used to sit. I keep having to reach over and tell her that he's not coming back. She can't understand me (what I wouldn't give for a human-cat translator) and it breaks my heart. I wonder if cats can sense when their housemates are not well and if they can extrapolate that into death. I don't know, though, and my heart clenches every time I have to comfort her.

The name of the game with grieving Giles has been distraction. Even a few moments of direct thought is enough to undo me. The guilt is still there. It will be there for some time. It'll ease, though. It always eases. I sometimes see Life and Death as two players on a soccer field, each deftly handling the ball that is Me and My Life, passing over from one side of the field to the other and then back again. Over and over, endless side to side.

Eventually, Death wins. Death will always win. But for now, Death merely scores goals. It is enough.

I had a dream last night about meeting Death. Specifically Lady Muerta, the Latin, Roman Catholic patron of Death. She stood there in her skeletal, white robed glory. I was scared. Terrified. I was also reassured. I don't remember if she was there for me or someone else. I just knew it was time to let go. This morning the grief feels slightly lessened, or as if it will not kill me to think of it.

Jesse might say La Santisima Muerte visited me directly. I say it's my mind trying to find some symbolic way of releasing Giles into the arms of memory. Either way, it is beautiful, frightening, and profound.

It truly is insanity to love things with short lifespans. It is truly remarkable to love things with short lifespans. Insane because it is loss despite love and remarkable because it is love despite loss. It is the sign of the wildly blessed human heart, that we can welcome this sort of grief into our homes, over and over again, knowing that the reward is love, only love, if only for a short time.

I sometimes wonder if the human heart is finite. As if we must clear out room, knock out walls, donate old affections and hopes to charity in order to allow new loves in. But I don't think the human heart is finite. I think it is wide open.

Our hearts are big enough. Our hearts are always big enough.

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Last night I had to put Giles down. He was barely 9 months old. It shattered me. Even having slept, I still feel broken for it. I know Time will stitch together the little Giles-shaped hole in my heart, but for now, it feels a cavern, something so large and echoing that it will never fill in.

He was limp for a few days. I'd emailed Pat's mom and asked her for money for a vet trip. As these things always go, though, he lost control of his legs and I had to take him to the ER. I didn't expect to have to let him go then. I thought maybe it'd be like last time, where they'd give him fluids, antiobiotics, and he'd come home and be perky this morning. But it turns out he was anemic, possibly having a blood clot in his legs, and requiring a battery of tests I could not pay for.

I was right. It was my poverty that killed him. I couldn't afford the tests, the overnight stay that would have saved him. I failed. I failed because I don't make enough money. I never make enough money. It always kills them.

I would have taken him home to see if he'd get better, but he couldn't breathe properly. The nurses said it was hurting him a great deal, his struggle to breathe. I was so torn. I wanted him home for one more night, but I did not want him to have to suffer. It took what felt like forever to make the call and I was so awash with tears that I couldn't speak for half of it.

I know adults have to make these descisions. I don't want to be an adult anymore.

So, choking so badly that it came out as a whisper, I said that I would put him to sleep. I felt like I was giving up on him. That a good person would be able to do something to make it better, make a bigger effort. As it was, we swaddled him in a towel and he lay in my lap on a couch in the back of the hospital. He died in my arms. That is a comfort, miniscule as it is.

The nurse said that I'd made the right decision, that if I'd taken him home he would have had a very bad night. I couldn't put my baby through that. Better a week too early than a day too late, they say. It still does not absolve the guilt. He was so young. I wake up and there is no Giles to pull into my lap. I wake up and there is no Giles curled up in my favorite, softest blanket. I wake up and there is no Giles at all.

Someday I will make enough money to save my animals. Someday they will not die because of my poverty. Someday I will make it up to Giles, to Piper, to Molly, to all of them who have died because of a negative balance in my bank account.

I know this grief will pass. I know it will ease and I will find beauty in his short life. Right now, all I feel is a weight like a brick wall, a guilt like an overwhelming tide, and a deep, sorrowful, longing for one black and white kitten who is no longer here.

Thank you

Mar. 20th, 2015 09:03 am
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My body has decided to press forward what I didn't realize - I am under more stress than I thought. A couple of weeks ago I'd gotten a split lip that resulted in a small keloid scar. That finally began to fade, only to wake up yesterday morning with a cold sore. That is my body's way of suggesting...no, not suggesting, insisting that I take some time and destress ASAP.

So today I will:

* Take a walk outside with Jesse. Even a short walk under the sun will do me worlds of good..

* Take a candlelit bubble bath.

* And finally, find some time to cry. I've gotten teary eyed but have not allowed myself to really cry, full blown weeping, about Giles. Stress crying has been shown to be a good release of chemicals in the body. I need to take advantage of this.

And even if I only get two of these things done, it will still be good.

Thank you all for your kind words. Thank you Michael for making sure I have the ability to reach this support. I would be lost without it and without you. Thank you Cholula for sharing your story. I know I will not be alone now. Thank you Jarn for sharing that strip - it is so profound it nearly aches. It helps to think of Death as a lover, as someone to whom I am merely sending gifts to. Thank you, David, for sharing beautiful words that I wrote and then further beautiful words that you wrote. Thank you Cemetery for reminding me that when these animals pass, there will be more who need my love. Thank you ThreeMile for sharing that it is okay to let the hurt actually hurt. Thank you to those of you who share their stories of when it was time and to be vigilant in not prolonging their suffering.

I forget these things. It is with all of you that I am reminded - and I need that.

I have so much to be thankful for. Friends that are here, friends that are gone, and friends that will be gone...there is so much to be thankful for.

I love you all. Thank you so much for listening.


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