I can’t keep up.
Archive for July 2008
He was visiting the little white house and the little white haired ladies in south Georgia after his breakup with She Who Will Not Be Named. His mother – in an act of aggression or comfort – told him there were kittens under the porch of the farm down the way, and that he should go get one.
He really wasn’t sold on the idea, although Calvin had been lonely for his feline companion since the humans had parted ways. The Mc felt for the little fella, and he is nothing if not an obedient son, so he went to take a look.
When he went over to the pen where the kitties were lolling about and gazed down at all the little orange and white bits of fluff, he still wasn’t into it. And then she happened. She waltzed straight over to him and looked up with her sweet little face and it was over.
He was in love.
She was vulnerable but open and clearly somewhat adventurous and I think looking back (though I clearly wasn’t there) that those qualities are exactly what he saw and wanted to be part of.
She was home with The Mc and Calvin for a few months, tormenting her step brother and playing dare-devil kitty before he became ill very suddenly and died in The Mc’s arms on the way to the all night emergency vet across town. When Counting Crows comes on the radio with A Long December, he still turns it up and gets still. I know to be quiet, and when it’s over he’ll tell me “this reminds me of Calvin” and I try to let him tell me the whole story over again because I know it helps his healing.
Amber was the woman of the house for five years. She saw other humans once a year – if that – for the annual poker game. That is, until I showed up and ruined everything.
She didn’t welcome me, or the new house rules that came with me (like not sleeping on my pillow), but we developed a tolerance and understanding: I would move slowly and she would ignore me. On a good night, we’d share The Mc’s affection. On a bad night, she’d sleep on my pillow and give me hives.
In April of last year, we introduced Grayson to the family and I learned the way to her heart was lots of cat nip and Greenies. She didn’t stop doing her 2am wind sprints in the hall, but I learned to sleep through them.
The Mc and I left the kids home alone for a long weekend in June while we went to dip our toes in the ocean, sweat ourselves into near oblivion and forget about work. We’ve done it a dozen times before: leave heaps of food, enough water to fill an Olympic pool, and scotch the door to the cat crapper so no one has an excuse for a massive butt explosion in an undesirable location.
When we got home from the trip, all appeared to be normal. A pile of half eaten dried vomit on the living room floor, a mouse in the water dish, you know. The norm.
But when Sunday night rolled around, she wasn’t herself. She was overly quiet, her eyes were glassy and she wasn’t interested in (or screaming for) dinner. Monday night when I went home, she was even less herself and I noticed she wasn’t drinking water. I tweeted it and Mish suggested putting water on the tip of our fingers. I bellowed instructions over the wall to The Mc, who complied. She wasn’t interested, but she did manage a few licks.
Tuesday I went home at lunch to check on her. She was laying on the end of the bed, her eyes glassy and unfocused. I stroked her head and she closed her eyes. I kept petting and she kept letting me.
Something was gravely wrong.
I called The Mc at work and said “you have to take her to the vet now” and he did, within the hour.
Around 3pm we got a call. She was dehydrated, and they were able to get a urine sample that revealed she was diabetic. He needed to come in and talk about options.
By the time we got there at 5, they’d managed to get enough fluids in her to do more lab work and it was worse than originally thought. She had complications from the diabetes that included ketosis, where her body was trying to break down fat into sugars (I think) but the fat had gone and got itself all stuck up in her liver. Her systems were failing. She was only 6 years old.
They gave us the option of leaving her there for the night or at another clinic where someone would be with her and left us alone for a few minutes, because by then we were puddles of ooey gooey wtfdowedonow with an anxiety attack on top.
We had already talked to the doctor about what was best for her and we knew she was going to leave us. When the doctor came back in I asked if we could take her home.
The Mc sat on the floor with her and her pink bandaged leg, and we gave her all the tuna she wanted. He sat outside with her on the balcony so she could feel the clean* air and see the world. We invited her to have a catnip bender, but all she wanted to do was snuggle with her daddy…and that way okay with us.
The next morning was unbelievably hard for us – harder on me than I could have imagined it would be – and just so ruthlessly unfair for her poor, loving poppa.
We loved on her right to the end and then some.
We spent some time together afterward, but I knew The Mc needed to be alone to process, so I went in to the office and let him be.
That night, a small gathering of kind, generous, wonderful, amazing souls met us at a neighborhood spot for an impromptu wake…and the kindness rocked our souls.
Grayson still looks for her in places she’d never have been – just in case. “Hey! Are you hiding in this potted plant?? No? What about in the refrigerator?” He’s not the same since she’s been gone, and neither are we.
So that, my dear ones, is what happened. I’ve been meaning to type it all out since it happened but whether it’s just been too hard or I’ve just been too tired, I don’t know. It’s here now. Her story. Her little legacy of the Crapomatic 3000 and her vast dingleberry collection and her sentery walks around the house at bedtime.
She was a good girl.
*it was not a code red smog day
I have an inexplicable compulsion when I travel. I pick up brochures. That might not seem like much to you, but I take them home…and I file them.
I suppose somewhere in my child-like delusions, I like to think that maybe one day someone will be over for dinner or some other unclassified bonding activity and they’ll say “you know, I’ve been thinking about going to see Clon Mc Nois…” or “Bob and I were talking last night about visiting New Orleans…” and I’ll say with great enthusiasm “Oooooh! Hold that thought – I’ve got the thing right here…” and I’ll bust out a handy dandy, ratted up, yellowed, stanky old bent cornered brochure.
You know. Because it’s not like this information is available on the interwebs.
Back home we’d call these hills. Here they call them mountains.
I still like to refer to them them as big green boobs of earth…because it makes me giggle and helps force my brain into a place where my work life vocabulary is forced out of the vehicle at 70mph.
Aren’t they nice? This is the view from my room…the one with no television.
And I saw lots of neat animals. And stuff.
My writing skills atrophy, and yet you come back. I love that about you.
Life continues to wiggle around like those piranhas people are using to nibble dead bits of flesh off their feet during pedicures. I can’t get a grip on it, and I’m not sure I’d want to if I could.
Trains continue to rumble by, trucks continue to heave, Grayson continues to fetch, The Mc and I continue to debate and brainstorm and plan for our new home(s). Work continues to pile up even while sucking away half my weekend, and bombards me from the moment I open my eyes in the morning. I remind myself of a few things, things that fail to change reality even if they do momentarily shift my perception:
- There will be nothing on my headstone about an empty inbox or a tidy desk
- I will have unread email when I die
- It’s only life
It’s only life. *sigh* A life that for the time being is so full of nothing that I lack inspiration to write anything at all. We all have boring lives, why would you want to read about mine?
I was secretly hoping the resort I’m at wouldn’t have, so I’d have to sit with pen to paper. That’s how this started a million years ago.
First it was a make-shift diary in a light blue covered spiral notebook in seventh grade that I hoped someone would find and read and save me from myself. Later it was a series of yellow legal tables (I’m still awfully fond of) and eventually I bought this domain, started coding a blog by hand and ultimately we evolved/devolved together into this heap.
I want to write more about those journals. About what happened in the late 90′s that kept me from pen and paper for years. Maybe later, when I’m struggling to sleep without a TV in my room and exercising the demons that still haunt my quieted mind from time to time.
For now, I’m listening to the whir of the vent, the birds outside, the group of women checking in downstairs giggling and shrieking at each other in reunion. They’re reconnecting and catching up on their lives and travels and loved ones, they’re celebrating life and friendship.
I suppose I’m doing the same…with a party of one.
My mother used to clear her throat and pantomime when I took a bite of food and didn’t put my fork down while chewing. She’d dial the phone for me to call people to thank them for gifts, and coached me into being gracious. She’d ignore me if I didn’t say “please” when requesting anything from a glass of milk to the green crayon. She’d give me look that may or may not have been responsible for the Hindenburg if I ever interrupted her when she was talking to another adult. My job was to stand and remain silent until she finished speaking, and to only speak when she turned to me and asked me “what is it?”.
I’m pretty thankful for Mom’s Accelerated Finishing School, even if I did get swatted more times than I’d like to remember and huffed off a lot, feeling oppressed. I can’t begin to imagine trying to function as an adult without having had such a wonderful guide in my youth. No one likes a Goop, and with Grover as my witness, we’re raising a whole generation of ‘em.
Sure, we mocked our parents for the “when I was your age, I’d walk 17 miles to school, up hill both ways” stories and I suppose I’ve finally reached that age too…so here’s mine:
When I was a little one, I’d bang on pots or pans or Tupperware with a wooden spoon to entertain myself. My brother and I would make a fort out of an old cardboard box or by flipping the couch on it’s side and spreading a blanket over top. I’m thankful for that, because it taught me to use my imagination and find beauty in common objects. We had a standard set of toys and didn’t frequently ask for the new whiz-bang bit we saw during the Saturday morning cartoon commercial breaks. We learned to be happy with what we had, not to “need” the newest/shiny/fancy toy.
I’d have conversations with my parents in the car instead of being pushed off on an electronic babysitter ala DVD/handheld game. I’m thankful for that, because it made me feel loved and valued, and it stimulated my mind and honed my ability to communicate. Granted, it was a trek to even hit the local grocery store then, off the hillside and down to the University Center Safeway (those of you from AK know what I mean), so my folks had little choice but to talk…that’s not the point.
When I was a kid, my parents also used to say “children should be seen and not heard”. I knew full well what they really meant by that, and am thankful because as an adult, I’m able to control myself in meetings and dinner parties. Knowing how to wait my turn and suppress some energy (when appropriate) means I won’t [frequently] annoy colleagues/friends by being the impulsive.
By the looks of things, the generation that my generation is giving birth to will be raised with a complete and utter absence of rules, boundaries, and imagination. These are the children standing on their seats in restaurants, fighting for independence by wandering off in public places (then being jerked back and scolded), interrupting adult conversations, and chewing with their mouths open.
I worry this will be the generation of DVD in the car kids, who can’t use their imaginations to solve a problem when they grow up. Who want problems to be as repeatable and predictible as they are on a PS2. Who won’t know what to do with themselves when someone isn’t force-stimulating them. Who can’t improvise. Who thinks the world should cater to them.
Now it’s entirely possible that the coddling [that I think is so rampant, but may not be] will have a completely different result, one that’s lovely and shows my own lack of imagination and brings the world to a better place.
I hope so. I hope we’ll level out and relax. Realize giving them everything isn’t the same as – or important as – just giving them love. Realize just maybe, what our parents did for us was *just right*, because you and me? I think we turned out just fine.
(Note: I’m fully aware this is a sweeping generalization. There are plenty of amazing mom’s out there who are creative, constructive, hands on women. Alas, these are not typically the families I encounter in public, or in private.)