The Fail Sale: Buy One Set of Defective Genes & Get a Flower Free

Genetics has always fascinated me, in fact that was the field of study I was going to enter had I gone to college. (True story and is actually so bizarre and divergent from the road that my life ended up taking that it served as inspiration for a pivotal moment in the short story I’m finishing.) That was one of the reasons I was chuffed when my doctor suggested doing genetic screening to help treat some of health issues – the other reason of course was that I was sick of playing darts with random medications, hoping that one would get somewhere near the bullseye instead of putting more holes in the wall around it. It turns out that I have a fair number of significant mutations, and whether they were passed on to me by my parents or the result of the illness that was ultimately responsible for my not going to college to study mutations isn’t completely certain. What did become clear though is that I’m not losing my mind when I think I’m not responding to medications because, as it turns out, I’m really not. At first I was overjoyed because there was the scientific proof that not only can I not metabolize the majority of antidepressants but I wasn’t being a pussy when I was having breakthrough pain after my surgeries – and I really was feeling like that having grown up being told that only the men in our family don’t have a “high pain tolerance” aka “don’t take pain medication until you are about to bite through your tongue to keep from screaming in agony”. But then I started to feel bummed because it was another indicator of how much the deck is stacked against me ever feeling less shitty – both mentally and physically – than I do now. I’m not saying that it’s not possible but between Nurture and Nature, I have a lot of work to do. And I have been actively working on the learned aspects of myself that are toxic, but it’s not easy.

About a month ago I had the first open house for the plant nursery business I started (it’s a long story, don’t ask), and it was a complete bomb. The weird thing though is that I realized that part of me was almost relieved that it failed. I’m so used to being upset and disappointed that the thought of experiencing something positive scared me. Also with it failing I didn’t have to feel ridiculous when I was still depressed since feeling depressed when you have “nothing to be depressed about” really sucks. This is one of the learned behaviors though so I’m working on changing that, but when you find out that every cell in your body is fighting against healthy thinking it starts to feel overwhelming.

Another genetic-related thought occurred to me when I read an article about the first “three parent fertilization” where the defective genes from one parent were swapped out for healthy genes from a third party donor. It made me think that if I were to do this it wouldn’t even be my kid. I really think I’m defined by the broken parts of myself, and I don’t mean that nearly as negatively as it sounds. I think it’s obvious to most people that creative minds have more mental issues than regular people do, so would I be a writer without those defective genes? Given my interest in things like genetics, I’m not completely a fairy garden hippie so would I be all clinical? Because that sounds really boring. The other thing is that I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t have a lot of shit beat me down in my formative years that I would have been a real bitch. If you don’t believe me then give me an unsolicited critique of my writing and see if I don’t tell you to go fuck yourself. I am extremely arrogant when it comes to my writing which is why I have difficulty with editors. Half of the reason that I don’t have beta readers for my novel is because I don’t trust myself to not tell someone that they are a moron if I don’t like their opinion. The other half is that I’m insecure that my writing really does suck and that even if I think I write better than someone that maybe they aren’t not right if they tell me it’s awful. Also, depending on who it was speaking, the right slander against my writing would make me cry, and I don’t really want to cry. (Believe it or not I do actually have the perfect editor and it’s only procrastination that keeps me from sending her my work.)

I’m starting a new medication and I hope it gets here soon because I’m weaning off of another medication that, as it turns out, I overmetabolize causing a slight overdose every time I take it, so yeah, not feeling great at all. I should go back and try to edit and/or organize this entry since I know there’s a common thread that I could pull out to tie off the entry in a neat little knot like at the end of one of those friendship bracelets made with embroidery floss, but I don’t feel like it. As unorganized as this all is it makes sense to me. I used to write to get out of my own mind and then share what I wrote in a compartmentalized bento box as food for thought. I’m not writing out of my mind anymore, I’m inside it. If you’re reading it then you’re in here too.

Never Finished, Only Abandoned

When I stopped writing regularly I blamed it, in large part, on my failed migration from Blogger to WordPress. I don’t know if I would have given up even without the migration – I most likely would have considering the Major Life Changing Events that were on their way – but it was a convenient scapegoat for my burnout. Readership had waned and instead of chalking it up to the natural decay of an online journal*, I assumed it was me. Well, it kind of was me, but not completely.

Now I come here and it’s almost relaxing to find it so empty. The readers are gone, the commenters are gone and, because comments are made by bloggers, the blogs are gone. I’m not sure because I don’t care enough to check, but I’m fairly certain that all of the blogs I used to follow are defunct. Blogging is such a communal phenomena that it’s easy to imagine all of those blogs as rows of empty crumbling houses with decrepit yards overgrown with weeds and unmowed grass, the mailboxes hanging open and filled with dust and cobwebs instead of comments left by readers. Of the blogs I’ve visited there have been one or two that have ended with a “goodbye” post, but most of them sit there with a random last entry stuck at the top of the page, awkward and painful like a hangnail. They remind me of a meme I saw that asked if you realized that there was a time when your mother picked you for the last time. Maybe the writers didn’t want to acknowledge that it was the end, so instead they just stopped.

But back to me. I can say that and not feel bad because I’ve embraced the selfishness of not writing for an audience but for myself. I’ve come to the point of preferring to shout into empty spaces and hear the echo of my own voice than to listen to the noise outside.

I sit in the water and have conversations with myself, a Narcissus and an Echo.

Conversations in Water with Myself

I found a bunch of draft posts, and while most of them are snippets I found this piece which could have almost been a post. I’ve decided to finish it while quoting what I had written on May 21, 2013 because there are some really terrible ironies.

I really enjoy my end-of-the-year wrap up posts. Ideally they remind me of how much I accomplished in the span of 365 days, but there have been times that they were simply a documentation that I survived a year without giving up the fight. I often wrote those year-in-reviews with a bitter taste in my mouth because they were the hardest fought and yet I had nothing to show for it except my continued existence.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve expressed this sentiment in subsequent “End of the Year” posts, but if I haven’t actually said it then I’d say it’s fairly apparent that they mean something to me since they are the only posts I’ve done for nearly three years.

Yes I know that life – even if it is just existence – is hardly “nothing”, but there have been times that it has not felt so special to me, in fact, the only value I placed on my life was the fact that if it did cease to exist that it would hurt the people I love. I lived because I loved my family more than I hated myself. I don’t write that as some flowery platitude meant to inspire other people going through depression – mostly because when you are suffering from depression nothing will inspire you – but as a fact. It’s a mathematical equation where the symbol just happened to be “>” instead of “<” and equaled “keep going”. (You know you’re really in the shit when a writer starts talking Math.)

If I’m truly honest I’m going through something like this right now. And that fact that I am just depresses me more.

2013 has already been an incredible year. And because my brain doesn’t work the way that it should I swing from being overjoyed to terrified that something’s going to happen and ruin it to overwhelmingly sad as I think of the shitty years that it took to get here.

How soon after I started this post did the first shoe drop? I don’t remember, and it doesn’t matter. I know that it was sometime between the time of starting that post and October 1st because that is the day that my mother got hit by an uninsured motorist, which was the second shoe dropping. By December I knew that I didn’t have much choice except to slide my feet into that set of shoes and walk the path that I had to walk and do what I had to do.

It also doesn’t help that this is the five year anniversary of surviving 2008, the worst year of my life.

This is where I laugh grimly and pat Kat-Circa 2013 on the head and tell her to just wait because in two years she will look back at 2008 and think how stupid she was to be so torn apart by the events of that year. To be fair to myself though, I will allow that 2008 was pretty terrible. I used to say that I would not experience 2008 again for a million dollars, but life is funny how it likes to make you eat your words. While I wouldn’t go through that year again for money, I would go through it again for another year with Kira. Everything and everyone has a price and it’s just a matter of time until you learn the cost.

 And then there have been a few outside sources this month that have given me food for depression thought.The first was a new post from Hyperbole and a Half. The post is about what the writer Allie Brosh has been going through in her battle with depression during her hiatus from blogging.

The second was a video of a commencement speech given in 2005 by David Foster Wallace called “This is Water”. I’ll give you the worst, most banal synopsis ever and tell you that it’s about how adult life is very often a series of of day in and day out doldrums because we fail to recognize “what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us” and that if we adjust our thinking we can realize that there’s more to life than there seems. I was floored. It was the best commencement speech I have ever heard because it managed to be honest without being pessimistic.

I stopped there because in my search to see what else David Foster Wallace wrote I found that he had committed suicide in 2008. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was having a really shitty time that year. I don’t think that normal people understand how much a suicide affects people with depression. Normal people feel the loss of the person and the sorrow that they didn’t reach out before drawing such a terrible conclusion, but for people with depression there’s this horrible fear that creeps in. What if that had been me? They were amazing people. They were loved by so many. If all of that wasn’t enough for them to keep going who’s to say that I’m not going to reach that point. In the case of David Foster Wallace I’m particularly stunned given his brilliant speech articulating basically that shit happens but it’s just a part of life. Why did he forget that “this is water”?

Let’s jump ahead (or actually back I guess) to 2015. There I was having a year where my math skills of greater-than/less-than were what was keeping me going, and I learned that a beautiful friend had ended her life. Again I felt that fear, and it was even more profound given that Stacy was one of those people that when I met her it wasn’t like meeting a stranger, it was like ‘Oh there you are. I was wondering when you would get here’. So I felt her loss on a different level, but given that I was already struggling I felt that fear on a different level too. It really made me wonder why the hell am I still here? Not the what-is-my-place-in-the-universe-existential-psychology-grad-student crapolla, but like what the hell is still firing in my brain that wasn’t firing for them? After I had eliminated everything that I had in common with the people who were gone I was left with the conclusion that it was luck or chance. And I really didn’t like thinking about it in those terms because both imply that I have no choice in the matter. So then I did start pondering in the what-is-my-place-in-the-universe-existential-psychology-grad-student crapolla. I could tell you what I learned as a “life lesson”, but I don’t feel like it.

Instead I’ll jump back (or forward?) to 2014 when I started a short story and then shelved it because reasons. The concept of the story was already teetering on dark humour, but when I looked at it again last year I thought that I should just finish the piece and write what I want to write and people can get over it if they don’t like it. I know this is how writers should write all the time but I’ll be completely honest and admit that in an age where marketing and branding are everything you do question how much of the population you want to alienate by writing what appeals to your own warped sense of humour. The smart writer – the one who doesn’t have to work a soul-sucking day job and write during the hours she can’t sleep before the pills kick in – works to appeal to a large demographic whereas I’m  finishing a funny story about a very unfunny subject which will only appeal to a very dark minority. I’m sure normal people reading it will think I’m horrible and they’re probably right, but whatever. It’s all just water.

happy dance of joy

Kira

IMG_3942I met Kira on October 24, 2004. She was a scared little bundle that had to be caught from inside the pen where she and her siblings had been living before she could be handed to me. She was so light and small cradled in the crook of my arm. She wouldn’t look at me but I kept cooing and kissing at her like the goofball that anyone near a puppy becomes, and I finally felt a tremulous wag from the little tail under my elbow. She then turned her head and gave me a few timid kisses on the nose and quickly looked away again. She was quick, but it was enough time for me to notice that she had adorable little freckles on the bridge of her nose. I got her to turn her head one more time so that my ex-husband could take a picture of us but in the second picture she’s looking away again. I held her brother too who was a normal Eskie puppy size and more confident in attention, but I already knew that the little girl had my heart.

The only problem was that we had just come to “look” at the puppies on our way to a pumpkin fair and I didn’t expect my ex-husband to let me adopt one. We left and continued to our destination, and I did my best to not think about how I wished the little girl puppy was with me when we arrived at the fair.

It was the next day – when we were at Wal-Mart of all places – that my ex-husband told me that I could get the puppy. I wanted to jump up and down and scream with joy, but I controlled myself. I asked him if he was really sure because he wasn’t an “animal person”, but he said yes with the contingency that I couldn’t pick her up until Sunday, the day after the Halloween party we were having on Saturday night. As soon as we got back to the house I called the woman who had the litter and told her that I wanted the puppy. “You remember which one it was, right? The one I held?” I asked anxiously. “The one with the freckles on her nose?” She assured me that she knew which one I wanted and would hold her for me until Sunday.

I couldn’t wait an entire week to see the puppy again though, so I stopped at the woman’s house a few days later on my way home from work. I knocked at the door but no one answered so I went around the back to the puppys’ kennel. To my surprise two little white bundles of fluff were running around in the yard. “My” puppy and her twin sister who was as tiny as she was had dug a hole under the fence of their kennel and escaped while their other sister and brother – who were twice as big as the little ones and couldn’t fit through – barked in indignation at them. The twin managed to run past me and squirm back under the hole into the safety of her kennel, but mine continued to scurry while I did my best to catch her. For twenty minutes she managed to avoid my grasp, but she started to seem not so much scared as she was just enjoying making me chase her. This theory was confirmed when she ran under the deck then assumed the pounce position with her front legs on the ground and her butt in the air, she did her first yodel/howl at me. I did finally caught her when she made a break for the hole to return to her kennel but wasn’t fast enough to shimmy through before I grabbed her. Once I had her in my arms I didn’t want to let have to let her go again, so even though it was a long shot, I called my ex-husband to see if I could convince him to let me bring her home early. Unfortunately he wouldn’t budge, and I had to hand her back to her custodian again. I remember the woman was wiping her face to get all of the dirt off and she squeaked in distress. The woman told me that she was dramatic, but it made leaving her that much more difficult.

It was the longest four days ever, but when Sunday, Halloween, came I picked up the girl who would always be referred to as my favoritest Halloween treat ever, my Kira.

The following three years were very difficult for both of us. My ex-husband never turned into an animal person, and in fact was jealous of the attention I gave her, so the abuse that I suffered increased in my effort to shield her from his tantrums. I hated having to go to work wondering if there would be enough people at the house to distract him from looking for any excuse to chastise her. As difficult as those years were though I find myself now thinking back to all of the beautiful memories Kira and I managed to create with just the two of us together. I remember taking her to a second round of obedience/socialization class and having her win the trophy for Most Improved. I remember leash training her and then taking walking around the neighbourhood going down different blocks to mix it up. I remember walking around the blocks in the south and looking at all of the decorations for Christmas and Halloween while she sniffed along the sidewalk. I remember walking her northwise while listening to “Preston & Steve” podcasts. I remember driving to an old cemetery near us and walking her around all the crumbling tombstones. I remember watching Christmas shows – all of the classics like “A Year Without Santa Clause” – with her snuggled against me on the bed despite my ex-husband forbidding Kira sleeping with us, and how she would hear my ex-husband come in the front door and jump off the bed and hop into the bed in her crate as if she had been there the entire time. I remember how she was always with me whether I was making run to the one shopping center to get sushi for dinner, or going to Dunkin’ Donuts to get coffee and a vanilla-iced doughnut. Oh my God, how she learned to love “Double D’s”. There was Dunkin’ Donuts just down the road in town and I’d stop in there enough in the evening or on weekends, but the one I remember most is the Dunkin’ Donuts right after the circle on 73 North in Berlin. That’s the one I would always stop at in the morning on the way to work when I had Kira with me to drop her off at her Grandmumma’s to stay there while I worked. Kira never got over her “stranger danger” despite all of the classes and socialization, but she learned that the drive-through attendants were not someone to bark at because they would give you treats from their windows. Her love of Double D’s reached a point that she would recognize the crinkle of their bag if I stopped on the way home, and she would be quite indignant if I did not share what I had purchased without her supervision. But of course I always shared. I found that I loved vanilla frosted donuts best only because I started getting that flavor instead of chocolate frosting since dogs shouldn’t have chocolate. Vanilla doughnuts WITH JIMMIES are still my favorite.

When we had our own apartment I would take her walking all around the complex, both for exercise and for her to do her business. There were these decorative grasses that the complex had planted all around the walkways in the complex and Kira would have to pee in each and every one of them. And she wouldn’t just pee on them, she had to get all the way up right in the middle of the plant to pee. My mom and I am jokingly called them her “tickly pee plants.” I’ve been to our old complex and found that they removed all of the tickly pee plants. I can’t really blame them because they weren’t that attractive but still, I don’t know if it makes me feel sadder or better that they’re not there anymore.

On June 30th 2015 I noticed that Kira’s poo was too dark for my comfort. Not that I regularly analyze my pup’s poo, but we had just adopted our Daisy, and since I had to be outside confirming Daisy’s bathroom habits I noticed Kira’s too. I told my mother that I was going to call our vet to have them run an occult blood screen on it.

The next day I was sitting at my desk at work when I saw my mother’s number flash on my cellphone. She never called me at work and I just thank God that I had my cell in a position where I saw her calling despite my ringer being off. When I answered my mother told me that Kira had “passed out” but assured me that she was better, however she was still on her way to the emergency vet to be safe. I wanted to fly out of the office and meet her there but instead I composed myself and waited to hear more once my mother got Kira to the vet. My mother called me back when she reached the vet and told me that Kira seemed fine now but did I still wanted them to examine her to be safe. I knew it would be expensive but I said yes that I wanted her examined because it would be worth it to know that Kira really was fine. But when ER vet called me about an hour later I found out that Kira wasn’t fine.

The vet told me that Kira’s hematocrit was at 20 whereas the normal level was 30. She was bleeding internally somewhere and the vet recommended an abdominal ultrasound to look for any foreign objects or a possible tumor in her stomach. I agreed to the ultrasound, and the vet said she would call me as soon as she had results.

The next few hours of that day are a story in themselves because I did not handle the stress well. The vet was taking too long to call me with results so I decided to drive to hospital and demand answers. I was on my way there and then, long story short, I took road rage to the next level when an asshole driver blocked my lane-  and then flipped me off when I beeped – by grabbing a desk fan I had in my car, jumping out and threatening to beat the man to death with it if he didn’t get the fuck out of my lane. But anyway. It ended up that the vet called me just as I was pulling into the hospital parking lot. She hadn’t be able to see anything in the ultrasound due to a lot of gas and wanted to do an endoscopy. Kira’s hematocrit had also dropped during those hours and she needed a blood transfusion. I agreed to the blood transfusion but Kira did not handle anesthesia well and I didn’t want to put her through the stress of a procedure without being sure that she needed it so I asked to wait on the endoscopy. The ER vet was actually very sweet and considerate and said she would do the blood transfusion and understood my decision to wait on the endoscopy. When she asked me if I wanted to pick up Kira in the morning or have them call when the transfusion was done which would be around 2 am, there was no question that I would be driving there in the middle of the night to get my girl.

At nearly 2 am on the dot they called me and said that Kira’s levels were at 28, and I could come to get her. I knew as soon as I picked her up that it was not a good situation. Kira looked exhausted, panting and her eyes drooping. As soon as I set her down when we got home she dove into the water bowl drinking the entire thing. Ten minutes later it all came back up. I sopped up the vomit/water and she immediately guzzled down another bowl of water. And it all came back up. I tried letting her parched little body drink from the bowl one more time, and when it all came up again I had to force myself to only give her a 1/2 cup of water at a time. The water finally stayed down, though it broke my heart to see her licking and licking at the empty water bowl. We both dozed on the living room floor that night but neither of us got much sleep.

I went to work – or I think I went to work, I honestly don’t remember since I was awake for 30 hours at that point – but later that day we became concerned when Kira would not eat any solid food because without her eating we could not get her medicines into her. Once again I have to commend the vet for her trust in me because when I called and explained the situation and how I felt that Kira being away from me had exacerbated whatever was going on inside her, she agreed to give me the syringe of medication and have me administer it myself at home. This is actually a really big deal for a doctor to allow someone to do this and I’ll admit that I was nervous when the time came for me to administer this huge-ass needle to my baby. I finally mustered and got most of the injection in her – she shrieked halfway through the injection and the needle came out when she ran off – but it was enough that she finally started eating solid fool.

That Monday, July 6th, my mother took Kira to doctor who was covering for our regular vet as a follow up while I went to work and waited again for news. I remember sitting in the dark, empty auditorium at my office when that vet called and broke the news that Kira’s levels had dropped again. I sat there listening as she told me the possible causes and what treatment did I want to pursue if Kira had cancer. I could not answer her because I did not believe that Kira had something that would threaten her life. I felt that she had a stomach ulcer and that the medication we had been giving her just needed more time to work. I told her that I wanted to continue our current course of medication and we scheduled another follow up for Friday the 10th. We labored religiously to get all of Kira’s medications in her at all of the exact times and had everyone we know send prayers and good vibes that week, and when she had her follow up her levels climbed to 25. It was a miracle.

I was so relieved and thankful, particularly when I celebrated her birthday on the 14th. We hadn’t been to a Dunkin Donuts drive-through in since we had moved and lived within walking distance of one so I made a special trip and took her to the closest Dunkin Donuts with a drive-through so that she could get her vanilla doughnut as we had done so many times before. I remember that I was furious that they didn’t have vanilla – we still got a doughnut and I did get her a vanilla one at a walk-in Dunkin – but I was so upset. I think it was because some part of me knew. However I still wasn’t prepared when the vet called after Kira’s next appointment a few days later on Thursday the 16th and told me her levels were down to 18.

I went hysterical. I was at work sobbing on a dear friend’s shoulder trying to comprehend that my girl was so sick.

Our regular vet was finally back from vacation and surprisingly had hours that Saturday and he agreed to squeeze us in. We saw him only two days after her previous appointment and her levels were down to 13. The only good thing was that he agreed to put Kira on steroids and antibiotics like I had wanted for the previous week.

Again we had a schedule for all of her medications and gave them to her exactly when the had to be taken. I even started giving her a blood booster supplement and baking her “Pibble Pot Roast” a recipe from another dear friend that had helped her boy when he was sick. Her poo seemed to be getting lighter, but on July 22nd I noticed that Kira’s gums were extremely pale and she was very short of breath, so I rushed her to the ER again. This time when they tested her blood her level it was down to 10. I immediately consented to a second blood transfusion, but the vet did warn me that it was more difficult to predict a blood type interaction after a previous transfusion and that they would have to keep her overnight to be sure she didn’t have a reaction. They told me that she was refusing to eat though and asked if I would bring her some food to see if she would eat for me. I drove directly from work and took her for a stroll to the hospital’s yard and stroked her as we sat in the grass like we would do at our old apartment. I prayed the entire time. My mother came to the hospital too and brought some baby food and a hamburger. We got the food and the medication into her and then I had relinquish her back to the tech. It felt like how it did eleven years earlier when I wasn’t able to take her home as a puppy, the time I had stopped to see her after work and chased her around to catch her mischievous puppy self. All I could do was wait and pray that the transfusion took and that she held her levels. Incredibly not only did her levels hold but they rose through the night and reach a high of 28. I left work as soon as I got the call and brought her home. She seemed better than she had since this had all started three weeks prior.

We had a good week.

On the night of July 30th, Kira seemed to be having trouble breathing. Her gums were extremely pale and she didn’t want to eat. I laid on the carpet next to her and rubbed her gently and kissed her on her little freckled nose. I told her that I loved her and that I was so proud of her for being such a fighter. And then I told her that it was okay if she was tired and didn’t want to fight anymore. She had been such a strong girl, and it was okay if she wanted to go home.

I went into work the morning of July 31st, and then came home so that I could take Kira with my mother to her appointment with Dr Heller. She was such a good girl and didn’t struggle at all when he took her blood. He went out of the room and when he came back in with the results I knew that it wasn’t good. I stood next to him as he measured her levels and read them as 13. He asked me what I wanted to do, and said that she was okay right now even though her levels were low, she wasn’t struggling, but what did I want to do if they dropped. I told him that I didn’t want to put her through anything more. I wouldn’t put her through any more stays at hospitals or pricks at her legs trying to get blood from her tiny veins. He said to call if we needed anything.

We went home, and because I’m such a coward, because I knew what was coming and the reason I will hate myself forever, I went back to work while my mother watched Kira. At 3:45 my mother called me to make sure that I wasn’t working over time, and to be honest I had considered it, but I will always be so thankful that she called me.

I walked in my front door and Kira stood up to greet me as she always did, but I knew that she was suffering. My mother told me later that it was the first time that she had stood up all day. I immediately grabbed Kira up into my arms and vaguely remember hearing my mother saying that Dr. Heller could not stay but that he had told his associate about Kira and we could go right over. I don’t remember getting into the car – was the front door locked? I don’t know – all I knew was that I was holding my baby girl, the one who had been through so much with me, the most perfect and beautiful piece of my heart, and she was struggling. My beautiful brave little girl was still fighting despite how tired she was. I could not in my selfishness keep her here. She was a little restless as my mother floored the car out of the driveway and into the street, but relaxed a little as I adjusted her on my lap and turned her so that the air conditioning vent could blow directly on her. I wrapped my arms around her and felt her finally settle and then rest in the crook of my arm. I told her, “It’s okay. Mommy’s here. Mommy’s here.” She closed her eyes a little, and then I felt her take her last breath, a gasp and then a quiet sigh, and she was gone.

We made it to the vet’s office where they quickly took us into a room and gave me a towel to wrap her in so that I didn’t have to place her on a cold exam table. Then the vet came in and listened to her chest to confirm what I had already felt in the car. The thing is though, the vet’s office is literally three minutes from my house and Kira had passed before we could get there. Kira had already known it was time but she had been holding on for me to be with her. I believe she knew that I would have shattered completely if I had not been with her when she passed and so she fought until I was able to hold her in my arms as she finally able let go.  Kira had loved me and taken care of me as she always did, down to her last breath.

IMG_1288_1024I’ve so many beautiful memories of you, my Kira. I know that they will help me and make me smile, but I will never stop missing you. I will miss your “Uncle Leo hello” yodel that you would do when you were excited that someone came home, and I’ll miss your “Crazy Shake” as you gave me tons of shakes (and “sits” and “downs” and every trick you knew) to get me to give you the treat in my hand faster. I will miss you opening the bathroom door when I’m peeing, and I’ll miss how you would rub your rump against my leg for back scratches. I’ll miss how soft your fur was, it was more like rabbit fur than dog fur. I’ll miss how you somehow always smelled like Snuggle fabric softener. I’ll miss having you velcroed against my leg when I sat on the floor or against my foot when I sat in a chair, and I’m miss reaching down absentmindedly when I’d lay on the couch and know I would feel you sleeping against it. I’ll miss your random burps and I’ll miss blaming all of my burps on you. I’ll miss your soft snores as you slept. I’ll miss your kisses when I cry because you were always there to lick them away. I’ll miss you when I’m in the garden and expect to look up to see you lounging in the grass “Eskie suntanning” in the summer or sniffing the cool breeze in the Autumn. I’ll miss seeing you in the passenger seat of “Zoe” and know that it will always be “your spot” especially thanks to the nap of the seat which is permanently flattened from your sitting there or from you resting your head on my hand when I set it there. I’ll miss hearing you smack at the water bowl when it wasn’t filled up to your standards. I’ll miss you opening presents on Christmas, taking the initiative to tear into them even before Grandmumma had finished reading the Christmas story from the Bible. I will miss your beautiful smile, I had never seen a dog smile but there was no denying that you were smiling especially when you were being cuddled. I will miss holding you and having you tuck your head under my chin in response when someone would ask, “Do you love Mommy?”

I’ll miss you for all of these reasons, Kira, and for so many more because I see you in so many important things in my life. You were such a part of how I went from an insecure abused wife to a more confident and self-sufficient person. I truly believe that I would not have grown as much as I have if God had not blessed me with you. I gave you a piece of my heart on that chilly October afternoon in 2004, and I am so thankful that you accepted it. It’s yours and it will always be yours. Keep it safe in Heaven until I see you again.

I love you, Kira.

For My Kira

Comic altered by me from original comic here (you really should read it because it’s a beautiful tribute to her own furbaby) done by artist located here.

 

Auld Lang Syne

I think I started doing “years in reviews” in 2004. They were not formal posts but more like inventories based on the notes in my appointment book from the previous year. They were fun back then.

But then the deaths started and they weren’t fun anymore.

I started writing official “Year in Review” posts in 2010 because that was the year I started making a conscious effort to pull myself from the pit. I’m a list-holic and whenever I’m struggling I make schedules and lists. The YiR for 2010 is literally broken down into such quotidian landmarks as “Made it to the gym three times”. Ironically the events that stand out most are ones that make this year so difficult. I didn’t realize until I just checked now that it was 2010 when I got Kira spayed, and when I began the Feast of Seven Fishes.

So, 2015. What can I say about you? Do I hate you for how painful you have been, or do I love you because you were the last year that I was complete? I don’t even know what to say anymore. You’ve even taken my words.

Dollface

Credit Stacy Campblell

The Bright Guest Disappears

Stacy Campbell died at the worst possible time.**

Wow Kat, you don’t write  a post for two years – with the exception of two end of the year recaps – and you jump right into that? What a fucking “return”.

Yes, well, a return is also based on investment, and in this case the investment of time has created a poor return. (And while I’m at it, I love my penchant for using numerical alliterations despite being dyslexic.) But anyway. If you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about then we’re on the same page; I’m writing this shit and I don’t even know what I’m talking about.

No, that’s not exactly true. I unfortunately know exactly what I’m talking about, but it makes the dinner guest feel better if you volunteer that the meal is terrible.

Eat up, and please be assured that I hate the fare as much as you.

Stacy 1Stacy Campbell died at the worst possible time, but it apparently was her time – on her own time. Her official last day in this world is September 16, 2015, but the actual date isn’t known for certain. I can’t help but wonder if she didn’t actually pass on September 15th. I wonder this because Stacy had the most ironic sense of humor, and it would be so her to take her life on National Suicide Awareness Day.

And, as is the case whenever someone takes their life, I’ve being wrestling with that question of “why?”.

I know the answer, but I don’t understand it. And I hope that I never do understand it. I think that “why” is in itself part of the reason that I’ve been as frantic to figure out what made her reach that point as I have.

I’ve been low, and I’ve had those thoughts of the world being a better place without the burden of me and my insanity. I’ve also been to that point where everything hurts and you don’t want to end your life so much as you just want everything to just stop fucking hurting. I understand that pain so much that I cannot be angry at her for wanting it to end. I just wish I knew what I could’ve said to make her hold on a little longer, and that I could’ve been there to say it to her. I wish I could’ve told her that she’s not alone, and then I would’ve pointed to all of the people who have written on her Facebook wall saying how much she meant to them. The Interwebz can be good like that sometimes.

But then that very thing, the ability to connect to other people who understand your pain – the pain that “normal” people do not – is a double edge sword. I know that unless you battle mental issues you might not understand this, but people with our – ahem – affliction tend to gravitate to each other. We want to help each other, to assure each other that there are people who understand, that they are not alone. It helps, but at the same time I feel that our exclusive community of the tortured and the tested ends up being a macabre game of Russian Roulette. With so many players we’re bound to lose someone eventually. Depression comes in ebbs and flows, and everyone comes to a time when it’s their turn to pick up the gun. Thankfully the odds are in our favor. There are five empty chambers – family, and friends, and Faith, and life, and you, and anything else you value – they outnumber that single bullet. And life goes on… But people with depression identify and lean on each other, and unfortunately as soon as you put down the gun, then one of your friends picks it up.
Spin the barrel.
Fire the gun.
Someone dies.

That’s my own issues speaking though, and I want to talk about Stacy. Being a writer herself, I know she would have understood that diatribe.
Perfect segue.

Though we were both writers, I met Stacy through our love of animals. She had lost her beloved Jurgen, yet had found the strength to adopt another dog that needed a loving home. I so admired her for opening her heart again that it inspired me to dedicate my 200th blog post to animal rescue stories. I remember wondering what I should do for such a landmark post, and she was the inspiration for it.

nightmare dog, animal rescue storiesThat was Stacy though: kind and inspiring.

Unfortunately my own depression has been relentless for the past two years, and I didn’t talk with her as much as I wish I had. Like so many things in my life, I’d set her in my peripheral vision and only looked directly when something really fascinated me. I’m just thankful that she was so fascinating that I paid as much attention as I did.

Stacy just seemed so…”cool”. Even her name was interesting. Her full name was Anastasia, which usually garners the nickname of “Anne” or “Anna”, but she was a Stacy. I seriously thought that was the neatest nicking of names ever – so much so that I planned on changing the name of one of my characters in my book to that.
Stacy had the best Bucket List, and she was the only person I knew who actively worked to check things off of it. I loved it when a picture would show up on her Instagram feed documenting an adventure done, a check marked next to box on that list.

She skydived.

 

stacy 4
She went to a firing range.stacy 6
She went to concerts because she said she was going to stop saying she would see a band or an artist “next time”.stacy 5

She stayed in the fucking Stanley Hotel.stacy stanley i cant spell

I am a huge fan of The Shining and it had never occurred to me to want to stay in the creepy hotel that inspired the story until I saw Stacy’s black and white pictures of the infamous fourth floor. Not only was the fact that she was at the hotel so brilliant, but her pictures were taken with such a sharp eye that they captured eeriness without being campy. But this shouldn’t be surprising because Stacy was an incredible photographer.stacy stanley Her Stanley Hotel pictures were not just beautiful but they were complete with captions about hearing children playing in empty halls, and ordering Whiskey from a bartender named Lloyd. They were beautiful as only she could make them because they illustrated her vision, both also her wicked sense of humor and her mastery of words.

Her words. I wish that I had read more of them while she was still here.

Through the power of the Interwebz and its promise threat that nothing ever really disappears from its depths I’ve been able to read her former blog “Jurgen Nation”. There is so much brilliance there. It’s not an easy blog to read – there is a lot of pain, and it kills me a little wondering if she wished that she could make her pain disappear as simply as she thought she had deleted the blog that detailed it…and how wretchedly ironic it is that her blog didn’t truly disappear after all. Nothing disappears.

Another irony – bloody fucking hell I’m beginning to hate you, Mistress Irony – is that the post that resonates most to me right now – the one that exactly touches on the punch in the throat that has knocked me into such a pit this year that I cannot fathom ever being able to climb out of it, on a pain that I cannot even yet put into words – was written only a few days after a post where she wrote a letter to herself twenty years from now. Or “then” since it was in 2009. It a post about how she would still be here in twenty years, even though she might think she won’t.

Stacy 2It makes me so angry that Life thinks it’s so clever with these little elbows to the ribs. You’re so not fucking funny, in fact sometimes You feel downright cruel.

There is so much that I’m going to miss about Stacy. Her presence was like birds singing: you don’t realize how much you enjoy their music, and take for granted that they will always be singing until they are silent. I think of all of the empty buildings that she will never photograph, all of the words she’ll never write, all of the snarky jokes she will never make. Stacy was caring, and beautiful, and wrong, and clever, and brilliant. I read the stories shared by people who knew her better, and I’m so jealous of them. I wish that I could justify this pain by proximity, where the equation would make sense. But there is a reason that artists are dyslexic, and numbers do not add up to us. stacy 7

Stacy was a true Siren, drawing so many people to her.
I’m grateful that I  heard her song and listened while I could.

I will see you later, beautiful girl. Keep the cocktail chilling.

In the mean time I am changing a character’s name in your honour. It is my hope that “Stacy” destroying demons in my story will give you the victory down here that you so deserved.

 

stacy brody

“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”

 

**The average time that people will allow you to mourn is one month. I wrote this entry nearly three months ago, and I still feel it so much that I decided to finish it and publish the bloody thing. It reminds me that loss has no timetable. Loss is not something get over, you just learn to live with it.

 

 

And So This is 2014, And What Have We Done?

One year.

365 days.

345 sleepless nights.

5 blood tests.

3 MRIs.

2 Surgeries.

And a stray cat in a fir tree. ♫~♪~♫~♪~♫~♪~

(Oh go on and sing it, because you know you want to.)

Uh huh.
Well.

It was a year ago today that I made my last entry–(365 days…345 sleepless nights—Do shut up, Kat!) and as I had mentioned then, I had made a major decision and decided that it was necessary to take a different road on the path which I had been currently journeying.

Um, I mean, I didn’t change the path, just that the road I had been using to reach the path to the goal had been a bit altered because, after all, a path and road aren’t necessarily the same but they can both lead to a goal upon said road reached by a path and/or other road which…and…and…and…

Yeah. So…

So, there’s that.

Anyway, I think what I’ve been trying to say is that the thing about being a “writer” is that it’s this odd balance of experiencing a fucked-up world and all of its completely mental-shit crazy situations that will be thrown at your poor unsuspecting ass, and yet being alone enough of the time to hear the quiet and process them.

So am I saying that my absence was because I needed more experience with the fucked up world in 2014, or that I needed more time alone to process it all.

The answer is neither.

I did not set out to purposely experience the world like some fucking high school graduate taking a sabbatical through Europe to find his asshole self before he starting college, and I certainly did not need more time to listen to the quiet in my head–mostly because there is never any quiet in there–but because everyone, even writers and other–ahem–etherial(?) beings, sometimes just have to do what they have to do. And in the end, if you’re lucky, you will take something from that time and it will make you a better person, and in turn a better writer.

So, on this last night before the last day of the year, I could muddle through a month by month list of the previous year’s events as I had done in the past, but I don’t feel that they would give anything to you, my dear reader, only because I have selfishly kept them to myself for the past twelve months. 2014 was, as someone who shares her musing on a blog** would call, a “cornucopia”. Not only is a cornucopia appropriate for the holiday season, but I truly do feel that it embodies this past year for me: a bit of sour, a bit of sweet, but all nourishing, and–if I want to be a bit megalomanical, which I totally am not above being–providing strength and ability of a Greek pantheonic level.

*snickers*

Whatever.

*continues snickering*

2014, 2015

From a wise friend ♥

“A very Merry Christmas,
And a happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one,
Without any fear.”

Happy 2015, peeps. ♥

 

This is the End of 2013

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time that I haven’t been feeling like myself for several months now.

For one thing, I just cannot get used to this new site. I know you’re probably all sick of hearing about it, and I know that I should get over it all, but this new format just will not work correctly for me. Every time I come on here it’s a fucking reminder that I failed, that there is something that I didn’t do correctly in that motherfucking stupid migration and it’s just shitting all over everything. There are several elements of this site that aren’t working correctly on the back end, which make things more difficult for me personally, but I’ll be honest and admit that the biggest thing that pisses me off is knowing that as I write this that I have about 2,000 feed subscribers and nearly 1,000 Google subscribers who aren’t having my new post show up in their feed, and it fucking sucks!

Whats more is that, since not seeing my own post in my own feed (seriously, it doesn’t even show up in my own fucking feed) sets me stupid, I haven’t looked at my blog subscriptions for over two months, and therefore haven’t read your posts either. Yes, I admit it: I suck. I might not have always commented on your posts, but I stayed up to date with at least reading them and I haven’t even done that for almost two months. Feel free to boo and hiss at your leisure. I completely deserve it.

Besides my hangup over my site not working which is affecting my mental state and create output, the other shitty thing that recently happened is that my mother was in a car accident in October. She’s relatively okay considering that her car was fucking destroyed, but “relatively okay” isn’t exactly great, and it has most certainly mucked up the wiring in my brain. And while it has affected my immediate state of writing, it has more importantly been a contributing factor in making a major decision that I have been wrestling with about the current road I have been traveling.
But that decision, and what will become of it, is a story for another post.
This post is… me saying I’m sorry? A confession? An explanation? I don’t even know. Whatever you want to call it, whether it justifies my absence–my lack of creative activity, my failings–or not, it is what it has always been. It’s been me.

Complicated.
Conflicting.
Flawed.
Me.

I was once told that the most important lesson in writing is to tell the truth, and I’ve always tried to maintain that despite the predominantly autobiographical nature of this blog. I had originally planned to end this “Year in Review” post at May lest it sound like I was descending into some sort of maudlin pity party, but then that wouldn’t be very truthful would it?

And so I present it all. My year–my life–as I have always offered it: without pretenses or censorship. Just me.

That said, my dear reader, I would not blame you at all for skipping over the ugly bits which begin to surface in May (or the following of this post in its entirety for that matter because…bluuurrrrrgh), but I will however make a concentrated effort to read your 2013 Year in Review Post (because you know you will do one), or whatever post you have deemed fit to end this infamously Fibonaccian of years.

Lovely 13.
You were supposed to be mine own.

January

In a true illustration that the best ideas do NOT come from Pinterest, I set my ass on fire with in a ginger detox bath. I then did the Polar Bear Plunge in Wildwood to benefit the Special Olympics. (<SHAMELESS PLUG!> Incidentally, I’m doing this again because I’m not so selfish as to not realize that there are those who have heavier cross to bear than my own, and I could really use your support in meeting my pledge goal. Please pledge here!</SHAMELESS PLUG!>)

February

I had an adventure with the home vet involving projectile shit and it was just as magical as it sounds. For her birthday, I made my mother a comic about her love/hate relationship with Farmville. Then I had a run-in with the self-harm bitch as a precursor to Kira’s forthcoming surgery. At the time I told myself I was being ridiculous and that Kira would be fine. Lesson learned: never ignore your instincts as we will see next month.

March

Kira nearly died during dental surgery.
I cannot express the anger that I still harbor for the vet that nearly killed her from an overdose of sedative. It is in fact very, very difficult to not wish something fucking horrible on the stupid fuck-cunt that nearly killed her.

April

The sink exploded in my kitchen and I ripped it out with my bare hands. (And replaced it.) I then contemplated buying my dog grain alcohol.
My uncle died after a long battle.

May

I adopted my “son”, my boy dog, the one that I always knew I would have yet didn’t know how it could be possible, and who makes 2013 end up in the “plus” column despite everything.
I love you, Seamus the Horny Boy.

June

I did not write about this but my coworker’s husband passed quiet suddenly on June 1 while they were on their way to South Carolina. In fact, he died in a manner very near to my father’s sudden passing and between this similarity and an overabundance of empahty, this affected me a lot more than it should have. It resulted in working double shifts at my “part time” job all month while my coworker was out in mourning, but that didn’t upset me nearly as much as thinking about what she was going through.

In mid-June, I went to a Derby themed bridal shower, and it was as pretentious as it sounds, though the truly spectacular absurdity happened when I went to buy the fucking hat for the stupid event. And in related news, I joined Instagram. There was also a flash of “pretty fucking awesome” when I was informed that I was referenced in the Alternate History aka “Steampunk” textbook being used in Universities all over the world.

July

I made a handy-dandy insult sheet which, despite a spelling error, has been repinned about 300(?) times on Pinterest last I checked. (And yes I know that this isn’t exactly a “viral” pin, but it’s pretty fucking brilliant to me so I’ma celebratin’ like WHOOOAHHHH!) I then had a battle with motherfucking huge ants which resulted in a Game of Thrones pun that landed me in the official Game of Thrones paper. Finally, I took my new family of two furry children, plus our family pup for a total of three furry creatures, to the beach…and it was a disaster from Hell.

Another loss came when my dear Celia had to say good-bye to her beloved Audrey. This, again, was something that upset me more than a normal person should allow.

The worst though? The thing that I did not write about yet alluded to? I had a literary agent, and my long-talked about novel was about to be locked down for print, but she decided to drop my manuscript in favor of focusing on the Young Adult genre. I honestly cannot blame her for making a constructed career choice considering all of the recent blockbusters have been based on YA books, but the other part of me has added her name to the list of people I will scream “I told you I was worth something!” to when my stupid fucking work is published and doing well.
(Fuck me, I’m just praying I can really say that one day.)

August

I ripped apart the overgrown garden in my mother’s yard. (You can already see the mental slide there). AND THEN! I fell into the ultimate pit of I’m-Going-To-Destroy-Everything-I’ve-Worked-For when I decided to migrate from a third-party site to a self hosted one and fucked it up in a truly spectacular fashion. During that migration I adopted a Foster Baby Sparrow. I had her for a week until that fucking asshole, Death, came and took her.

September

I, personally, destroyed your chances of ever finding Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips again, which pissed off my mother quite a bit. I also let go of trying to fix this site. (Only not really since, as you read above, I can’t even look at the fucking site without wanting to throw my computer across the room.)

October

My mother was in a car accident.
My biological grandfather died. Again, shouldn’t have been upset, but was not for nothing else than he was husband to my grandmother, Kathryn.
I celebrated publishing 200 posts which was a fucking miracle considering my attention span. I decided to use the occasion to celebrate a cause that’s dear to my heart, animal rescue, by inviting readers to share their animal rescue stories. I received so many wonderful stories that I had to create a second part of the 200th post.

November

Again, death came calling when another coworker’s father lost his battle with ALS. And once again I’ll admit that I felt too much empathy and sank further into the pit as I talked with her about what it was like to lose a parent too soon. Given my current mental state I recalled my previous experience with seeing a counselor. That entry actually is kind of a big deal since it was the first thing I’d written in a long time without worrying about if it was properly “bloggy”.

December

The alternator went on the car I found for my mother. We also agreed that she couldn’t keep working with her head and neck injured as it is from the accident, and I came to the decision to seek a full-time job in a previous field. I’ve an interview today in fact.
I made this post which you are reading.

On to the future

So, in closing, I’m not going to be sad that 2013 was a terrible disappointment, and I’m not going to feel like I’m taking a step backward. I’m going to be thankful that 2014 means that I have an opportunity to do better, and that I’m still going forward toward the goal that I want. The path has just changed a bit.

Best wishes for 2014 to you, my dear peeps.

sad happy new year, 2014

Snow

Roseanne’s office was always cold.

When I had first started going to her for counseling she would apologize and frequently rub her hands up and down her arms as if to make sure I was aware that she was suffering as well and to not blame her for the frigid climate. I had assured her that I didn’t mind the cold. This was, in fact, true. If the office was cold then I had a perfect excuse to keep my jacket on and enjoy the false sense of security it gave me to have it wrapped around my shoulders. My survivalist brain also registered that it would be easier to make a hasty retreat if I didn’t have to search for a jacket hung somewhere on an obscure hook. I allowed that a jacket could be sacrificed if a situation required it but I rather liked the jacket–a leather one with the Led Zeppelin Icarus painted on the back–and I decided that I would put it in as little sacrificial danger as possible.

After a year of seeing her for therapy, the temperature in Roseanne’s office continued to hover around “Arctic” though her performance had changed from apologies and arm-rubbing to complaints and eye-rolling.

“I don’t know how many times I have to tell the super to raise the heat in this building,” she snarled as she pulled a sweater from her closet.

I didn’t know either so I remained silent.

“With how much I pay them in rent it’s the least that they could do. And I’ve told them that I’ve had clients complain about how cold it is.”

I shrugged. “I don’t mind.”

Roseanne’s face convulsed between a series of dirty looks as she tried to decided if I was being obstinately contrary in expressing an opinion which disagreed with hers, or if I was being ridiculously polite and protecting the sensibilities of an inept superintendent.

“How can you not mind?” she finally challenged me.

I would have done some eye-rolling of my own except that this would have indicated what I was thinking and I had long since decided that I wasn’t going to let Roseanne know what was really going in my head. Mind you, this wasn’t a personal reflection of Roseanne, though her personality was in perfect harmony with the temperature of her office, but rather a rule in general when it came to counselors. I had seen several over the years and after a disastrous experience with my first counselor I realized that no amount of psychological training could prepare another creature to wade through the fucked up kettle of fish that swam in my head.

“I’m only in here for forty-five minutes,” I told her which was both a deliberate barb in regard to what was supposed to be an hour long session, and a satisfactory answer to her question which revealed nothing. I adjusted my jacket and leaned back into the couch.

Roseanne drew the line of unprofessional between dirty looks and talking about financials so she gave a dismissive sniff and opened up the folder which contained all of the secrets I had let her discover about my person.

“Let’s see, Kat, where did we leave off last week?” she murmured looking through her notes.

I cringed inwardly as I always did when she used my nickname. This was another common characteristic I had found in counselors in that they always ask what your friends and family called you and then used that name profusely. It helped them to create the illusion that they are friends listening to your problems because they care rather than uninterested third parties whose time you have bought. When it came down to it counseling is really just prostitution without the STDs.

“I don’t remember,” I told her.

“Well, then what happened this week?” she asked completely oblivious to my lack of enthusiasm.

“My former brother-in-law, Ronald, called my mother and said that he found some things of mine that my ex didn’t burn and was going to drop them off,” I offered.

“What was it he found?” Roseanne asked.

“I don’t know. I think it was a tote of some old toys that my grandmother made me get out of her basement when she was cleaning. They probably survived because my ex most likely thought that they were my niece’s old toys. When Ron heard that I was moving he also offered to bring up some of the kitchen and bathroom stuff that I had bought. But I’d rather he not bring that all,” I added.

“Why not? If you bought those things then they belong to you,” she told me.

“They don’t matter. I told you about the night that I left and all I cared about taking with me was Kira, and my old “Wonder Woman” comics if I could, and that’s how I still feel. The rest were things. Things don’t matter.”

Things are expensive though,” she insisted. “Those things can help you as you move into your own little nest.”

I wrinkled my nose before I could stop myself. If there was one thing that I was not building it was a “little nest”. Nests are for newlyweds and adorable birds just out of college. The least that you could accuse a feline such as me of building would be a den, though a dungeon would probably be closer to the mark in my particular case.

“I’ll either make do without them or I will buy them myself when I can afford them,” I replied as soon as my nose had returned to smoother state.

“That’s absurd. There’s no taint of your former marriage on your kitchen things,” Roseanne said.

“There is if my ex has peed in them.”

“What?” To Roseanne’s credit she processed this declaration with little more than a slight cocking of the head.

“I’m pretty sure that my ex has peed in my Kitchen-Aid by now,” I said.

Actually, for all for all of his flaws, my ex appreciated fine mixing equipment almost as much as I did and I was confident that my Kitchen-Aid had not been molested, however Roseanne had called me “absurd” so I felt the need to live up to that accusation.

And she had also come dangerously close to uncovering a truth so it was serendipitous that my conventional method of diversion was to say something inane. I’ve become so excellent at this skill that it’s a reflex rather than a reaction now. In much the way that a leg kicks up when it encounters a strike to the knee, my inanity kicks up when it encounters a strike to my brain.

I sat waiting for Roseanne’s response. I hoped that it would be another dirty look since I was creating a mental catalog of all of her annoyed facial tics. She would be a brilliant curmudgeon in a future novel.

Roseanne gave me a deadpan expression. “Then wash it before you use it,” she said.

I was so delighted by this spontaneous drollery that I almost considered taking off my jacket for the rest of the session.

Instead I told her about the time that my ex left me at a rest stop as punishment for telling him to get off at the wrong exit, because sharing a horrible experience with a counselor is akin to leaving an extra five bucks on the motel nightstand.

As was the case whenever I told her a tale of my recent former life, Roseanne listened raptly making up for my monotonous intonation with her own grimaces and colorful commentary.

“He is a horrible!” “What a jerk!” “Are you sure that he did not have some sort of mental deficiency? Because no adult male should behave like that!”

She was never so pleased with herself as when she implied that my ex suffered some sort of malignant mental malady and she, through her astute listening and brilliant deduction had diagnosed him without even a personal consultation. I let her enjoy the moment because I was still amused by her remark about washing the Kitchen-Aid, but I found myself experiencing the empty feeling that comes when a hilarious joke is no longer funny.

Despite my glaringly obvious contempt for counseling, I had entered therapy with genuine intentions of talking about my problems and attempting “to get better”–if there even existed such a state for someone like me–only had I planned on doing this is the most clinical and sterile manner possible, without the messy display of emotion that usually erupts from one’s eyes and nose during a counseling session. I expected this to be a challenge, after all I had been through some very traumatic experience, however I as shared each of the mauvais quart d’heure which were to blame for my sorry state I realized that it was quite simple to keep my emotions in check, namely because I was not feeling any. Initially I thought that it was because I was so loathe to reveal emotion in front of other people that my brain wouldn’t even attempt to access them knowing that I wouldn’t indulge the feelings anyway, but I found that even in the lone safety of my bedroom I could not feel anything. I replayed my most painful memories over and over and I could not even muster a sniffle. I squished up my face and hyperventilated and rapidly blinked my eyes but I could not convince myself to cry. To be honest I didn’t truly want to cry but I felt like I should want to cry, and furthermore I would like the option to be able to cry if the notion should strike me, but it was impossible. All of my tears were gone, or washed away, or dried up leaving behind less salty residue than it would take to thaw an icy patch of sidewalk.

If my lack of emotion wasn’t puzzling enough already I was surprised to find that their absence did not seem to bother Roseanne in the least. Even my rudimentary knowledge of psychology told me that this was likely a problem, and I anticipated a lecture from her about dealing with my feelings, but much like my tears, castigation remained absent. I wondered about her lack of concern regarding my phlegmatic state but I finally decided that she was simply grateful for a client who wasn’t constantly plucking at the requisite box of tissues which all counselors keep within arm’s length. I would have cancelled any further appointments with her at that point but by then she was comfortable enough with me to drop her professional manners and so thoroughly verbally thrashing my ex-husband that I decided to continue therapy for the entertainment alone.

But as I sat on Roseanne’s couch that day, idly twisting the chenille tassel of a of the chintz pillow between my trembling fingers and recounting the details of the trip that will forever make me averse to visiting Florida, I decided that I had had enough of this game. It had been gratifying to hear someone regard my ex with the venom that I could no longer muster, but this mock therapy was not helping me to feel any better about myself, in fact I felt worse than I had a year before. While the pain and anger I’d felt then had been unpleasant at least there had been something inside me, some kind of fire in my belly to make me live if for no other reason than to spite the ex who had assured me that he had been too instrumental in making me who I was to live without him. Now I felt nothing. I felt nothing, and I wanted nothing and I was, indeed, nothing. If I’d had any emotions I probably would have been terrified at that moment but instead there was only the tiniest of twinges like a candle being snuffed out with a pinch.

If Roseanne had asked what I was thinking at that moment I would have answered her from my broken soul for once. Instead she made an errant scribble in the folder containing my married name written in black Sharpie marker and looked up. “Well I guess that will do for today.”

I looked at the clock.

4:40.

“Same time next week?” she asked brightly.

“Yeah, that’s fine.” I gave her the check for my $20 copay and left the office.

On the day of my appointment the following week it began to snow. There was a healthy two inches on the ground by the afternoon–a veritable blizzard by southern New Jersey standards, so I wasn’t surprised when Roseanne called me cancel my appointment.

“What day do you want to come in instead?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t have my calender with me so I’ll call you back and reschedule,” I replied.

Of course I never did.

snow, woman

Photo by Mike Wood

Part 2 of My 200th Post Celebration Featuring Your Animal Rescue Stories!

The wait is over! I present the the follow up to the first half of the animal rescue stories sent in to celebrate my 200th post.

(A side note here is that I would be a terrible editor because, while I’ve become somewhat proficient at killing my own darlings, I was only able to bring myself to parse so much from these stories. They were just too excellent. Ergo, a few of these are a little long but they are so worth the read.)

~Emily & Melanie: Just Ducky

My fur baby is named Emily Ann, she is (we believe) a Blue Russian cat. I found her 13 years ago when she was just a tiny baby. I had taken the trash out and it was cold and raining. When I was heading back in I heard this low weak sounding meow. I checked my neighbors steps and found this tiny little ball of sopping wet fur that was just shivering uncontrollably. I immediately swooped her up and took inside with me. I gave her a nice warm bath and wrapped her up in a towel fresh from the dryer. After getting her to eat a little from a kitten bottle she perked up some and decided that I was her person.

I looked at her sweet fuzzy face and just knew she was an Emily (a name I had decided I would name my first born daughter). Emily quickly became nicknamed Ducky since she followed me like a duckling follows its mother. She is now 13 but acts like a kitten still, she also greets anyone who enters her bedroom (it’s really her room I just sleep there, lol) and will answer you by meowing when you talk to her. All in all I couldn’t imagine my life without this amazing, loving cat that I have adopted as my furry child. She is more like a person then a cat to me and I feel blessed that she chose me to be her human.

cat in a box

~Bengie & Emelly: Taking Him From the Streets (Twitter)

I was talking to my eldest daughter in the balcony of our apt at 10:00pm when we saw this white and terrified dog in the bushes in the middle of the avenue. We keep looking to see what he was doing and I started to get worried that a car could hit him. My husband wasn’t fond of the idea to bring the dog up to the apt but I didn’t have the heart to let him be so scare and alone in the street. I changed my clothes ( I was on my pjs),took my keys, went to the elevator ( we used to live on the 11th floor), crossed the ave and look for him. He was near the bushes in the middle of the street and trying to call him so I could get him he got scare, ran and almost got hit by a car. I started to run towards him and took him. We took him to the vet, he was infested with ticks, had skin problems, an ear fungi and low weight. This happened this past February and we would not be happier. He is a healthy and beautiful dog now.
rescue pup, rescue dog, rescue stories, animal rescue

~Katie-bug & J.Day: For the Love of Uneven Floppy Ears (The Ramblings of Charlie Brown)

I think I was about 14 yrs old; it had been about a year since our old dog JR’s death and we were finally ready to get a new puppy and playmate for my Lab mix, Dustie. Mom read about a litter of puppies that had been abandoned by the owners of a house – left in the laundry room. A neighbor heard puppies and had called the city pound.

As we left the house for the pound, Mom said, “They are Doxie/Terrier mixes, long and short hair. I’m going to pick out a short-haired female. Yep. That’s what I want.” Half way there it turned into, “Weeeelllll, any female shall do.” The second we walked into the kennels, “Aw shit, the first one that jumps on me is going home with me.” Fortunately, that was a long-haired female with completely uneven floppy ears.

We took her home, named her Katie (which soon became Katie-bug) and discovered her biggest flaw – she peed every time anyone came up to her. It took us years to break her of that. She fell in love with balls (tennis, golf, soccer, volleyball, if it was round and she could chase it, it was her favoritest toy ever). Mom once hid the tennis ball in the desk so the dog would just stop playing fetch, and that dog sat there, staring at the desk for hours – like the desk may throw it and she didn’t want to miss it.

That silly ball-loving-pee-when-I-meet-someone-new-car-sick-getting dog was the most adorable uneven floppy eared dog ever. Until she dropped a saliva-ladden tennis ball in your lap with a big shit-eatin’ grin on her face – for the 700th time in a half hour. Then she was evil. And disgusting. But we still loved her.
animal rescue stories

~Tucker & Stephanie & Shel: The Perfect Mix (Odd Duck Studios)

Lilly is useless as a guard dog, so [Shel and I] agreed that another dog – especially something with a big bark – wouldn’t be a bad thing.

We probably argued for weeks. Shepherd vs. Pit. Breeder vs. Shelter. Shel was worried that a shelter puppy wouldn’t be young enough and, well, we already deal with enough early-life neuroses with Lill. Finally, I think we just sort of put a moratorium on the whole thing.

A little while later, a coworker of mine was looking for a SMALL dog, preferably to adopt. So, there I was, trolling Petfinder.com when I come upon this picture of a puppy who is totally not what my coworker is looking for. This little fella, who they were calling Harley, was there, staring out from between the bars of his cage.

We got to the shelter and asked to see him. Once he had all four paws on the floor, he headed for the door and looked back at Shel and I and barked at us – clearly telling his new Moms that he was ready to go home. Shel tried to be rational and give him a good lookover, but I can tell you that it wouldn’t have done her a whole lot of good to tell me that we shouldn’t take him home.

Tucker will be four in March, we think. We got him on Earth Day – I recycled him instead of getting a new one and let him get “thrown away” – and we’re relatively certain that he wasn’t less than six weeks or more than 8 weeks old. He is absolutely our fur baby and couldn’t be more of a combo of mine and Shel’s wishes–PART SHEPPARD, PART PIT–if he tried. If I am away from home, I miss him almost as much as I miss his Mom. We laugh at those bumper stickers that say, “Who rescued Who?” because that’s us.

animal resue story, pit bull sheppard rescue~Topaz & Michelle: Cat Envy No More

I grew up in rural Georgia and always had outdoor cats. My parents didn’t allow animals in the house, so I knew that once I grew up I’d get a house cat. After I finished college in Boston, all of the apartment buildings I moved to had a no-pets policy, which sucked big-time. Lucky for me the managers of the apartment that I was living in 11 years ago decided to change their policy on pets. Once I found that out, I couldn’t wait to get a cat.

After a bit of research I visited Boston’s Animal Rescue League. On my first visit I saw an older cat that I liked, but he had a heart murmur and I wasn’t sure I could afford the care that he would need. On my second visit I knew I had found “the one”. She was a black kitten with a tuft of white fur on her chest, and they called her Toesie because she’s polydactyl. Toesie was very playful and cute. After playing with her I knew I had to take her home. They told me that she was 6 months old and had been abandoned by her previous owners when they moved out of their apartment. How sad that they would leave such a sweet girl behind!

Once I adopted her, I changed her name from Toesie to Topaz, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Having her in my life has gotten me through some tough times. Men have come and gone, but Topaz has always been there.

(Note from Kat: Topaz is my goddaughter!)
animal rescue stories, cat rescue

 

~Buddy & Lance: Two Guys Living With A lot of Girls (My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog)

My wife, referred to on my blog and medias that are social as The Bobina, works at an animal hospital as an office manager. One morning in May 2009, only a few months after we’d been married, a 3 1’2 year old golden retriever came in that had been abandoned by his previous owners. Because he had heart worms and was much older than most rescues, he would’ve have likely gone to a shelter. We had neither the room nor the time to bring in a family pet, but we figured it out. When I cam home that afternoon, I had a son, a dawg son, to go along with my wife and 3 daughters. Buddy is about to celebrate his 8th birthday. He’s a daddy’s boy who chewed up my wife’s copy of “50 Shades of Grey”.

golden retriever, animal rescue stories

~Kodi & Kianwi: “Let’s Go Home Now.”   (Simply She Goes)

About two months after my beloved dog, Brady died, I was driving past the Detroit Zoo when I noticed a sign announcing their adoption event.  Hundred of dogs and cats from area shelters are brought to the zoo twice a year to hopefully find their new family.  I hadn’t felt ready to get another dog, but on impulse I drove in and began wandering around, looking at the precious poochies.  Though I was occasionally teary-eyed from missing my old dog, I asked to see two dogs that caught my eye, but put both back, saying I would think about it.  Feeling like it wasn’t the right timing, I was getting ready to leave when one of the shelter ladies said, “let me show you this one last dog.”

I looked over to see one of the very few dogs that was just sitting in his cage, not panting or barking, but looking up at me with serious brown eyes.  I got him out and she told me he had been in a shelter in Detroit for 2 ½ months.  I  remember thinking, “oh boy, I just got a new dog.”  I took Kodi to my car, where he hopped right in and sat down, looking at me as if to say, “let’s go home now.”  And we did.  For anyone that reads my blog, you’ll know that I have become his devoted slave ever since .

(Note from Kat: This is Kira’s boyfriend!)

animal rescue stories

~Apollo & Nicki: The Nega-MacGyver (The Loaded Handbag)

I first met Apollo in the parking lot of a Hardee’s. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the 100% legitimate meeting spot of a Carolina rescue organization, chosen for its convenient location off the highway and its proximity to Tidewater Virginia and not, shall we say, for its scenic ambiance. There were six puppies. Five were yapping and whining at the front of the cage. One was sitting by himself in the back, calmly lapping water runoff off the tarp.

I realize this is not the most romantic opening. I realize that a dog licking water off a tarp would not say to most people, “Hey, this dog’s a keeper!” But in my head, I went, “He’s calm! He’s smart! He’s resourceful! He’s like the MacGyver of dogs!

Five years later, I can safely attest my dog is not the MacGyver of dogs. But he is a gigantic goofball, one who would happily spend every waking moment of his life chasing flying objects (literally any flying object. Balls. Sticks. Shoes. Bananas.), engaging in epic battles with the sprinkler, and licking pants. I don’t know, man.

For the first year of his life, this dog kept me sane, kept me company, kept me looking forward to waking up every morning in what became a very hellish time in my life. Luckily, we eventually met someone with a dog of his own, and today we all live together in Brady Bunch-esque combined-family bliss. But as much as Apollo loves the love of my life, I know he’ll always be mine, the one who kept me sane, kept me company through some of my darkest hours.

animal rescue stories

 

~Ashley & Skittles: Just a Handful (Instagram)

I was working in a dog boutique in Irvine, CA last year when we got a call at the store from this family saying they had found a puppy in a dumpster in their apartment complex and could not keep her and wanted to know if we could post a flyer in our boutique to help her find a home. We of course said yes!

They walked into the boutique with this 3 lb little puppy who fit in the palm of your hand. And I instantly fell in love with her. After visiting with them for a little while they headed home to make her a flyer to post in our store. After they left I tried really hard to get her out of my mind but the more I tried to, the more I couldn’t! So the next day I called them and told them I would be interested in possibly taking her and I would be going on a vacation for a couple days and would like to take her to meet my family and see how she was, with the deal that they could take her back for the 2 weeks while I was moving….they agreed and I went and picked her up the next day. Within a couple hours of my vacation with her I knew she was going to be my dog. Fast forward 4 days and I was coming home from my vacation and not looking forward to having to give her back to them while I moved.

The next day I couldn’t stop missing her, and 2 weeks seemed so long, so I did some begging and pleading and got the go ahead to move into my new place a week earlier than planned so I could go get my four legged little girl. I went and picked her up with my car loaded with boxes and she and I moved into our new place and started our life together. She is the craziest and most high energy pup I have ever had, but she has been my best buddy and wing woman this past year and has been by my side through 2 moves, my dad losing his battle to cancer, and a heartbreaking break up with the man of my dreams! When she walked into my life it was apparent she need someone (who turned out to be me), but what I didn’t realize was I needed her just as much as she needed me.

mixed breed, animal rescue stories

~Asta & Tara: Kintsugi (Thin Spiral Notebook)

One reason we were so charmed by [Asta], is that she is physically challenged. She will have a pin in her hip, a remanent from her surgery, for another month. Her injured leg appears shorter now, and the prognosis is that she’ll always have a limp.

For older dogs, imperfect dogs, it’s much harder to find Forever Homes. We sought out such a dog, mainly on the expressed wish of our son. Being a bit different himself, he can empathize and wanted to give a loving home to a needy pet.

Watching Asta peacefully sleeping this morning, the Mister mentioned how much happier she seems, and asked if I was still glad we adopted her.

“Do you still like your smelly, broken Valentine gift?”

I told him about the Japanese tradition of repairing broken pottery with gold-filled resin. The art of Kintsugi, “golden joinery,”  mends shattered vessels so that they are considered better and more beautiful.  I said I thought of Asta like that. She was broken, but with all the love we can offer, her wounds would mend and be made more beautiful.

labrador retriever, animal rescue stories

And that concludes my 200th post celebration! Thank you all again for being here and reading, and an extra thanks to the people who sent me their adorable stories.