Saturday, December 27, 2014

Oh Cap'n, My Cap'n!


The tragic tale of the missing Cosmos took a cosmic turn. During the doomed search and rescue phase, we received several phone calls about a black cat nearby at this neighbor's or that's. Hearts ablaze with hope, we'd rush to the scene only to discover a black kitten, three years too young, eyes of gold not green, and a round face, not triangular.  The shoulders of our thoughtful would-be-hero neighbors would sag and we would shuffle back to our grief-stricken home, our laps still empty. We would marvel at the chutzpah of anyone to let their 3 month old roam these hills alone, but what could we do about that? Although the kitty was adorable and terrified, I found it annoying to have my heart jerked around.

Later, I spotted it in our field, larger now, and sized like Cosmos. Shocked, I leaped over acres of weed-hurdles yelling, "Cosmos!? Cosmos?! Really?! It's you?!" But no, it was only the startled interloper doppelganger. I gave him a few pets and shuffled on back home.

The cat, impressed with his reception on our property, came back a few days later. I again flipped out that a miracle had occurred, hallelujah! Cosmos had pried himself from the coyote's cache and returned home! Slaughter the fatted calf! Roast the lambs! The boy has returned! But no...

The cat began hanging out in our yard in earnest. Coyote's were close by throughout that week. I saw the kitty crouched in the ditch as coyote's howled. I spotted the kitty sleeping half way up the Russian Pine outside my kitchen window, while coyote's howled. So one night, we put him in the car and drove door to door looking for his owners.

They have the newest and fanciest house in the neighborhood, a gable-plex behemoth with an importantly enormous wood door and a workshop the size of Texas, all in tasteful gray. I know them. The woman is a wonderful teacher at one of the variety of schools we've tried (until settling contentedly where we are now). Based on the grandeur of her home, I assume her work as a teacher is hobby-based employment. I was primed to forgive her for her sloppy cat-stewardship. I wanted, as I always do, for my admiration of this person to remain in tact. That was my primary goal here. And so I was unexpectedly crushed beneath the icky flow of disappointing information that she puked up. Here's the sampler: They've lived there for two years already now, can it be? and they've gone through 6?7? maybe more? cats. So hard to keep track of them all! The longest one was a year. The neighbors can't seem to spay or neuter in a timely manner so a bushel of kitties are always available, a never ending supply, an utterly renewable resource here for our convenience. So handy. The kitties, dirty overflow kitties, are not allowed inside anywhere. Is that our cat? Probably. Yeah. Oh well, life in the country! Haha! Am I right?!

Noting my slack jaw, she rolled her eyes at me, "Oh, you're the," she paused here and I thought or imagined or actually heard the ghost of the word "idiot" seep off into the ether before she continued, "who put up the posters."

I came from this culture, but it is not mine.

"Yep, that's me. We care about our pets."

What about "domestic cat" escapes people? Inherent in the term is the human bred obligation to care for them, at least somewhat, with food and some kind of shelter, any kind of shelter. We aren't fanatics here - no rhinestone tags and inside-only owners are we. But they are here by human will and we owe them at least the basic necessities.

Also, I'm not going to out and out blame her for the disappearance of Cosmos, but she certainly made it clear to the coyotes where they could find a hot meal. She basically erected a neon "OPEN" sign over our neighborhood: dishing up morsels of kitty round the clock! Come and get it!

We left the cat in their "care," and went on our stunned way, asking ourselves, "Did she really say that?" "Did you hear her say that too?"

As the song goes, the cat came back the very next day. After another week of watching the terrified thing (that looked cruelly identical to the cat our laps were still mourning, except for the balls on his back side) skulk around our yard, we finally set him up in the garage. And a week later, when our night temperatures plunged to single digits, and upon the ethical and biological advice of our veterinarian, we brought him inside, to the basement, just for one night, because I had no intention of disposing of a little frozen kitty carcass.

And then the next night. And the next. And the next.

I asked around about the ethics of this and no one raised any red flags. Cats are known for choosing their homes. And Cap'n Jack's former owners didn't uphold even the most rudimentary of ownership duties. Also, the cat's original property is separated by ours, at the corners, by only 50 feet. He could have gone home any time. He still can.

Cap'n Jack destroying Coyote's Lego Black Pearl
He now refuses to leave the house. When I make him, he hoovers up the mice at a rate of 2 per every half hour. Cosmos never did that. His purr is more songbird chirp and I like to imagine it's due to a  Romulus-n-Remus-type-experience, but with birds instead of wolves and thus being socialized by the finches in the pines. King Louis (apparently our cats all come with ostentatious titles. No Private Jack. No Serf Louis. Not in this house) is adjusting perfectly. Cap'n Jack is much more likely to fulfill behavior expectations than Cosmos ever was. When we told him to not scratch the furniture, he listened. Don't get up on the counters. Okay, then, thanks for letting me know. The gratitude and humility and constant, deep level understanding that things could have gone very differently, are rich in rescued animals.

Cap'n Jack still indulges in a few insecurity-based activities like licking us, but the vet expects he'll get over it soon enough, once he realizes he's home for good.  And we've marked him as ours now, getting him neutered and vaccinated. Soon, he should get the idea that he's secure here, as secure as a cat can be.

I like to think that Cap'n Jack had a moment of recognition when he experienced my confused and effusive welcomings, when I thought I was recognizing Cosmos. He knew, as soon as he saw it, that that was what he was looking for, what he wanted, what he deserved. He deserved love. And that was the first thing he got here. Food and shelter too, but first came love, however mistaken it was.

Perhaps Cap'n Jack was destined for some kind of coyote, but he lucked out with the kid kind here.
Coyote: Christmas at the Reserve
Cap'n Jack also knew that if he stayed "where" he was, which was nowhere, which was just outside some place safe, he would die. And I think we all feel that way when it's time to grow: this situation, the one I was handed, it no longer works for me and if nothing changes, I will die. And so he went in search of safety and life and it was only 1/4 mile away and it was ready for him. Safety had an opening for a black-cat right when he needed it.

I like to imagine that he'd read the signs around the neighborhood. I can almost see him knocking on our door, cap in hand, face smudged with dirt like an Oliver orphan, "Ma'am, I heard you be lookin' for a black cat. I mayn't be the cat youz lookin' for, xactly, but I do fit the description. Might you give me a chance to try my hand at bein' your black cat?"

Blue: Christmas at the Reserve
Such an unusual wrinkle to our tale of losing Cosmos, it seems magical. Perhaps he's our very own familiar. Maybe he's a symbol of Huck and my anarcho-syndicalist past together. Or maybe, as is the Scottish superstition, he's a symbol of coming prosperity. Or perhaps he's the Cat Sith, as he arrived on our doorstep near Samhain. Ooh, or maybe one of Freya's lucky black cats, destined to pull her chariot. Or, more prosaically and likely, just an unloved stray-ish looking for a sucker or someone infected with the cat-love parasite Toxoplasma gondii. But even Blue, uber-atheist and uber-rationalist, can't resist the idea that there is some mystical element to this, musing,"It almost seems like Cosmos sent him to us. Almost." Whatever it is, despite not quite feeling ready to open my heart again to a cat, he feels like a blessing, like a gift from the cosmos.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Chuck and the French Bite



I’ve always been terrified of forgetting, of the oblivion every moment threatens to slide into as soon as it passes. My TBI is a cosmic joke, poking at my hornet's-nest-fear of failed memory. I don’t know why I've always worried about this (scribbling 4 apple boxes worth of journals throughout the years), as the destiny of each moment and memory is and must be oblivion, eventual, certain, and permanent erasure. I’m sure I’m not on the cusp my own Alzheimer’s, although my head injury dramatically increases its eventuality. Lately, I remember things and I worry that it will be the last time I see them. The TBI's oblivion now creeps into my present moment and erases things before I notice they ever existed. But the things I do remember are clear and I tend to remember what I do very precisely.  I’ve read that what we remember has emotional markers on it, a feeling-scent that at the time alerted us to its importance, alerting our inner secretary to file this one, not shred. What you remember can tell you quite a bit about who you are, what you value, and what you fear. And I feel terrible when others remember what I don’t, like my mind has implied to the world that it wasn’t important to me. To a schmuck like you, maybe. But to a grand poobah like me, nope.

In my favorite tree
I posted to Facebook a 1992 photo of me and a friend from Bellingham who came all the way to South Carolina to visit me. I remember that I gave her a chitenge from Malawi that I had apparently promised to someone else (but I’d forgotten that) and the someone-else was angry that she hadn’t received it.  I eventually felt okay about the genuine mistake because Keri was the only person to visit me in exile … er South Carolina, and she deserved the blue and green swath of cloth reward.  Keri remembered making bead earrings while listening to Ella Fitzgerald. I do not remember that, and I'm sad about it. I’m certain we did that however, both things were staples of my high school existence.

Heading out on my own, will I get lost?
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong were the first two non-Christian-music artists' tapes I bought (at Avalon Records in Bellingham at the corner of Magnolia and Railroad), and I listened to them constantly and likely remember every word. These tapes were joined by two others: Sinead O’Connor’s The Lion and The Cobra (is she wearing baby pj’s on her butt in this video?) which my brother gave me. “I think you’d really be into this new singer” he said, handing me what was likely a hot tape that had likely come from one of the many car stereos of mysterious origin that were filling up his closet during his years of experimentation with exactly which illegal career he was best suited for. I also had procured the Indigo Girls debut at that point, thus rounding out my formative, oddly lesbian-esc collection of music. When I was home alone, I put on Sinead for the first time and I danced through the tape twice. 

I recently remembered this because I am in need of exercise and the outdoors is shutting down as a viable source, but the gyms are too loud.  So one evening Coyote was listening to “Hearts of Space” while I was beginning to remember that music is the human experience that moves me most deeply. Ironically it is one that I have no natural ability for, so I suppose part of its allure is that it is sort of my personal forbidden-fruit. And I began to dance, making sure the curtains were all closed, rolling up the carpet, staying safe in my sequins-ed shell/shawl. I danced my unclassifiable mix of ballet, belly, swing and ska until I was worn out, about 15 whole minutes. And the next day I was sore and that’s the indication there’s work to be done. So I’ve been dancing to every type of music (except country, musicals and Christian rock – the m√©nage trois of ear-torture) as daily as possible for my allotted 15 minutes and it makes me sore and happy down to my toes and the buzz lasts all day.

I was 13 and had just begun the terrible, horrible no-good high school youth group at our church. I was thrilled to be old enough-- FINALLY!-- to join, only to quickly realize it was a raunchy group of assholes and our leader was the Terrible Asshole in Chief (oh god… I have stories-- STORIES! about this regrettable group.)  So much of our childhood is wasted on looking forward to things that turn out to be, at best, underwhelming but more often, nightmarish. But who wants to tell their bright eyed child THAT? Better to let life’s letdowns come naturally, at their own pace.

After only a few summer weeks of Wednesday nights in the church’s double wide (the former “parsonage” my family had once lived in, since converted into Sunday school classrooms), I left early for my long, dark walk home, across the street.  On that warm summer night, moments before my Freshman year, a cute high school Senior with freckles and a bowl cut followed me out to the gravel parking lot.  I had made it as far as the plum tree when he called my name from the back porch. I turned. "Wait up!" He jumped over the railing and ran towards me, crackling across the gravel. When he arrived by my bewildered side, he wordlessly placed his hand behind my neck, tilted my head towards him and kissed me on my lips. It was my first kiss. It could not have been more romantic.  

I want to always remember the moon, full and shining through the leaves of the plum tree. The plum tree was likely the one from which my baby sister once picked up a black slug, assuming it was a plum, and ate it at the table with our elderly visitor; a black slime dripped, un-noticed for half an hour, from her baby mouth. It was the tree beneath which I was bounced (I'd been told) from an overly-enthusiastic wagon-ride provided for me by my big brother, always taking me out for adventures… and stitches. But those were two different trees, weren’t they? Maybe I was kissed beneath the ash tree, full of radiant red berries, or maybe that tree was at the other house.  So it was a tree, the moon was dappling our shoulders with its light. But it wasn’t the moon, I now realize, it was the sole streetlight in the church parking lot; it did not shine silver but sodium vapor yellow.  At any rate, Chuck would become my boyfriend. And I danced all the way home.

Chuck rode a motorcycle and I loved climbing on the back, sliding my hands up beneath his shirt, clinging to him around the curves of our country roads. He always let me wear the helmet. Later he got a car with windows that steamed up nicely for added privacy.

I was babysitting, my usual nanny job, so I think it was summer time yet… maybe. Yes, the last day of summer vacation.  The kids had gone to the neighbor’s but I was still obligated to stay, watching MTV, the forbidden fruit of television.  I called my new boyfriend and he happened to be at a friend’s house across the street, and we could see no reason why he shouldn’t cross the street.  And suddenly we were making out on their couch and then in their kitchen.  And, this must have been early on in our courtship, because he tried on this day, my first French kiss.

I spit out his tongue, “What the hell was that?!”
“French kissing.”
“French kissing is disgusting!”
“You’ll get used to it.”
“How will I do that if I’m never doing it again?”
“It’s the main part of kissing. You need to learn how to do it.”
“Nope. Not going to happen. Don’t try it again.” That was clear, right? I’d made myself clear, I believe.
But three seconds later, there’s a goddamn tongue in my mouth!
So I bit down, hard! And I held it. He was screaming.  I finally let go.
“What the hell wath that!?” He lisped.
“I told you I didn’t want to do it. And I meant it.”

Oh, but I didn’t mean it for long. Soon we were Frenching everywhere, at school against the lockers, at basketball games, and on the short walks home from Youth Group.

Slavin, alone for the first time in 2 years
My parents did not like this boy: “What’s wrong with him? Why can’t he date a woman his own age?!” my dad thundered. I think I understand what he meant, but an insecure 13/14 year old only heard that anyone who dated me would have to have something wrong with them. My brother, who was more Chuck’s age, didn’t like our dating either and he made him a pariah of the illegal-activity set. 

My parents escalated from insulting him to outright forbidding me to date him.  And so I did not date him where they could watch. I went to basketball games with my friends, but spent the time steaming up his car. My parents went to a family gathering, while I stayed home in sickness or homework and Chuck would wait down the road until he saw their car leave. We would make out on the living room floor and listen to Sinead O’Connor. (I am listening to this song with a cat on my lap and see now that it is the ultimate house cat song...I'm envisioning a video of this song with alluring cats!)  Until one day my parents doubled back to retrieve some forgotten item: oh those forgotten items! the bane of every sneaker! And I was never allowed to stay home alone again. The more upset they became, the more attractive Chuck got, my savior from these nutso's, my motorcycle get-away driver.

I was not head-over-heels for Chuck, really. He was just so exciting and forbidden. But after the excitement of the “firsts” wore off, he was just kind of a jerk, kind of nice too.  I was on the fence. My friend convinced me one evening to finally break it off. So I did. Chuck, surprisingly unruffled, sweetly asked if I would need to change the name of my cat, Charlie.
“Why would I do that?”
“Because you named him after me.”
“Oh god no. He’s named after Charlie Chaplin.” I realized then that I was making a good choice. "Who names a cat after their freshman boyfriend?"

Chuck and my friend showed up the next day at school as an item. It was a terrible thing for her to do (which she apologized for recently) but I was not too upset. I knew we’d break up eventually as I was only 14 and had always known I wouldn’t be marrying the guy I dated at 14. No, I was saving those absurd, unrealistic expectations for when I was 15!

Blue loves the story of the first French kiss. She asks for it again and again. Now, she is my age, then. And she is very different from me, more secure, more level headed and practical. Better, in every way, I often marvel. But who knows what she's got up her sleeves. Only time will tell (and then forget.)

Blue's Totoro pumpkin
Whatever happened to Chuck, we might ask. Chuck joined the army a few months later, had two kids and committed suicide at 28. I am the sole proprietor of these utterly cherishable memories. And now I’m not.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Familiar Memorial

Fresh off a Two Hour nap, I attended a 40th Birthday Party for a friend recently. I felt myself as myself in perfect clarity.  These moments come now and again, more frequently.  The fog and strain of just figuring out what is going on subsides for a minute, and my essential self beams out, sometimes with a clarity and power that I have never known before.  It was a wonderful party and I was fully capable of enjoying it.
Sunflower stamens

But it was stressful to get there, to the party.  Coyote would not co-operate unless he could bring his new laptop, recently purchased with his own stash of birthday money.  I was pretty sure there'd be a surging sea of children threatening to overwhelm and drown everything else out and a computer would just get smashed, or lost, or forgotten.  It was stressful.  He trampled my last nerve.

It was just before equinox, and the days are shorter now than they have been for 6 months. After 38 full years here on this planet, the shift still catches me off guard. Our giant old orange cat, King Louis, was on the door step as we all stampeded out of the house, fuming and fussing, that night. I didn't know how long I'd last at the party (3 hrs!!), and I couldn't remember when it got dark, so I shooed him in.  He's old and slow, and would have been vulnerable to coyotes, an entree served on a silver platter with fork and knife and napkin.  I didn't see Blue's cat, small and black and young and quick -Cosmos- anywhere, but we'd only be gone a little while and I couldn't think through the chaos of leaving that night. He'd handle that okay, right?  We'd left him out past dark several times, even when we've been home, just because we forgot to bring him in.

King Louis was a shelter rescue who's been with us longer than Coyote.  We walked into the shelter and he rolled over the second he saw us and let us pet his tummy. We knew that was our cat instantly.  Impossibly huge, not fat, just enormous, he's elicited oohs and ahhs and shock from all visitors, usually like this, "Oh my god! Look how huge that cat is!"  Louis has always loved kids and has attended every birthday party my kids have had.  No skiddish kitty under the bed is he. He's a wise old cat too.  Up until a year or so ago, he would pop outside for five minutes and come back with an expertly disemboweled mouse or gofer. He's not hunted in some time now. Six years ago, when we move to Wenatchee, he went missing for three weeks.  We were sure he was dead, but then he showed up on the other side of town, skinny and confused, but alive and ready to be rehabilitated into our family.  But he's old, he's 15 or so now, and has renal failure.

And when Blue said she wanted a kitty for Christmas three years ago we figured that would be good timing. The new cat could learn all of the old cat tricks from Louis.  And we'd have someone to cuddle with when Louis kicks the bucket.  But that is not to be.

Chillin' on the clean laundry on the airhockey/laundry table
We all feel sad that we missed King Louis's obviously completely adorable kitten years.  And so Blue was set on a kitten.  After checking out every damn shelter, all kitten-less that Christmas, we finally went to a store.  It was full of kittens that they'd procured from all the shelters to keep their Christmas stock able to meet demand. The only requirements we gave Blue were that the kitten not be bat shit crazy.  She picked a calm black one and we were off.

He was adorable and way crazier than he first seemed.  He kept us up all night needing pets and attention.  He scratch every basket in the house to smithereens, despite having a centrally located scratching post.  He ruined the front door, despite the spray bottle squirts.  He did not care a whit about learning from the old wise cat.  He played with the mice instead of crushing their skulls.  He'd stand at the top of the stairs and bat at you as you walked down, pretending to be a panther in a tree.  We turned that into high-fives  And, tellingly, when we opened the door to the great outdoors, King Louis stands there and sniffs and if anything smells amiss, if there is any sign of trouble in the air, he turns around and stays in. Cosmos careened straight out the door with his devil-may-care attitude. And yet we adored him. So cuddly and small and perfect.

We couldn't find him that night after the party.  We yelled and searched. He'd been gone overnight a time or two before.  And Blue was confident he'd be on our porch in the morning.  He wasn't.

I think we've clarified here that I mostly hate people. I hate talking to strangers. I hate it all since my head injury.  But I've called every neighbor I have a number for. I've even done internet searching for neighbors I don't have numbers for. I have not felt self conscious or nervous at all about bothering and indeed annoying the crap out of my neighbors.  CHECK YOUR BARNS! Did you check your shed, your garage? Did you check yet? I've posted signs on every newspaper and mail box for a mile.  I've talked to neighbors I've never met before.  I've approached other recluses and they were nice and we chatted for 45 minutes.  I careened my car into someone's gravel driveway, spewing gravel everywhere, to catch her. I have no idea what has come over me, but I think it has to do with my head injury and the sense of power and entitlement I now feel to be me, to advocate for what I want, to be annoying if need be. What do I care what you think of me? There is no judge, no jury and nothing hangs in the balance, in reality, if my neighbors find it annoying.  And imagine my surprise that none of them seem annoyed! Many have even checked back in with me and seem to care and understand! Apparently it is normal to do whatever you can think up to do to find your beloved cat. I can't think what I've been so afraid of.

I am also here, canvassing the neighborhood, to bring some healing to my own trauma, I think.  My mother never understood my love for my nervous cocker spaniel, Lady, and my tuxedo cat, Charlie Chaplin (I was a huge fan of Chaplin's work and his style, wearing a bowler hat for much of 8th grade. I'm still a fan, finding more to love about him). When I was 15, my mother brought them both to the pound, not a no-kill shelter, where they'd get a few days reprieve among the masses of other discarded cats and dogs. I discovered this loss, I don't know how many days later, when I went to eat my breakfast on the front porch and no one came to lick my bowl. I asked my mother if she'd seen my cat and dog and she became very uncomfortable and said, "Well..."  She didn't like them, one had fleas, and we might move in a few months. I loved them, but that didn't matter to her, she couldn't hear that, believe that. She was a farm girl and cats were like rats to her.
8th Grade Graduation: found a dress to accommodate my bowler hat

A year and half ago some family members were going through old memorabilia and they found what was described to me as the most hilarious note from me to my mother, so funny, I just HAD to read it. In it I expressed my pain about her taking my pets to the pound.  It's clear that my mother was angry at me for being in a foul mood about it, and so I was explaining to her that without my pets to relieve my stress and sadness (I even cited pages from my health text book), it was unlikely I'd be pulling out of this funk any time soon.  So funny, right? the emotions of a bereft15 year old, hilarious stuff. I actually had to explain to them that it wasn't funny.  I'd somehow managed to nearly forget about the incident, to make up excuses about why it was okay, or I deserved it, or whatever, and move on with my life.  But this note brought it all back.  My mother apologized recently, nearly 20 years later; she says she has no idea what she could have possibly been thinking. But any time the loss of a pet occurs, I will be reminded of this. Apologies have been made and accepted, but it will always have happened. It will never not hurt when I talk about it.  It hurts to lose my pets, all pets, always. And it hurts to have been betrayed by someone I was hardwired to trust. And my guess is that this hunt for Cosmos is a bit about saying to the world and myself: hey! emotions are real, our relationships with our pets are real, and teen girls are real people who deserve respect and care.  It's about finding the cat, yes, but it's also about sending a message to my daughter and my wounded "inner teen" (is that a thing?) that we matter.

The kids were in the car when I pulled into old Marylou's drive way.  She was out sprinkling seeds for the quail (a.k.a. coyote bait) and I asked her if she'd seen our little black cat.  She has a black cat too, but she hadn't seen ours. She then launched in to an accounting of all the cats she's had that coyotes have taken, some right under her nose in broad daylight. Ixnay on the Oyotecays!!  Blue was right next to me, hearing all the gory tales. We are trying to hope that is not what happened.  The visual imagination is terrifying. Coyote began to wander out loud what Cosmos felt when the coyotes tore his leg off. (He was immediately hushed. He's 10 and it was no innocent wondering.) No, not to our kitty, that didn't happen to him. But Marylou persisted: once, someone driving by scared the coyote away.  And they brought the mangled, but living cat to her.  She assured them she was on the way to the vet and the good citified Samaritans left.  She took that cat out back and shot it. She eyed me, waiting for a reaction, for me, a relative newcomer to the country, to recoil. I would not give her the satisfaction so I said, "Yep, I grew up with shootin' kitties!"  It came out wrong, but had some truth to it. We had only boy cats that my parents never neutered.  Neutering was for chumps, despite the fact that Bob Barker reminded us how awesome it was after every Price Is Right, a popular show in our household.  Bob definitely got to me, but my parents remained impervious to his pleas. These cats, outside cats, disappeared every few years. We loved them, but they were accessories (By contrast, Charlie Chaplin was a neutered cat given to me, full grown.  He slept in my bed.)

Charlie Chaplin himself!
Once, a neighbor's pregnant cat made it's birthing bed in our basement.  At 7 I watched her poop out what looked like slimy mice and I thought it meant something was wrong with her digestive tract and was confused as to why I was pulled from the bathtub to watch.  One of her kittens found warmth and comfort in the car fan and had to be shot. I did not get the sense that my father enjoyed that activity at all.  But that is what I meant by "I grew up with shooting kitties!"  I meant that I knew that had to be done some times.

I disappointed her with my un-phased-ness.  And she persisted. The next time she saw that coyote coming up on another cat, she "went an' got my gu-un, and that sucker took off, the second he saw me with my gu-un."  Well, I wasn't sure I could take many more of these tales, so we skedaddled fast. And Blue says, "I forget some times how out in the country we live.  Gu-un.  She said 'Gu-un'!"

Turns out every neighbor has a tale or two of kitty to coyote loss.  It seems it's a right of passage here.
I told Coyote that if Cosmos isn't back by Sunday, I'm going to have to change his name.  But he loves his name, so I can't.

Slavin Reserve again!
Why not a chicken? I have five and I am completely unattached to them.  Sure, I love the fresh eggs, but they themselves are nothing to me. I'm just using them. I even have two black ones, if black was what that little fucker was looking for.  Please, eat my chickens! Half of them are too old to lay anyway and I don't know what to do with them. Eat them, please, it would be my pleasure.  But leave my kitties alone.

When do you grieve a missing cat? At what point do you call it? Why cry if that cat is going to come back in three weeks? But cry we will. And now the internet is just one big trigger-warning and is ruined for me now; just too many cute kitties. We miss him so much. I wake up at night and check the doors, not to see if they're locked, but to see if there's a little adorable black cat just outside them, needing shelter and food and water and pets.

The other night, some sound woke me up at 2am or so, and I wondered if it was little Cosmos, so I went to the door.  Something compelled me to step outside, into the dark night, into the stars, so numerous and bright out here.  There was a bit of cold on the edge of the breeze, and I let myself feel it.  I didn't shirk from it, or huddle away from it, but I let it chill me. I am, I exist here in four dimensions, in this body, full of senses.  And I heard them, the coyotes, echoing each other across Paradise Prairie.  Yipping and howling, not all at once, but one at a time, taking turns. It was so beautiful. It was so painfully beautiful. I love them, but they ate my daughter's cat so I can't love them. I don't know how to reconcile this. I just don't. This universe, so full of beauty, so full of everything my senses crave.  I was born to love it, to feel it, to know it. So much pain is here too; the distance between stars is long and cold and dark. Oh my vast cosmos! I love you and it hurts.


Excuse me while I kiss the sky

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Slaughter the Meadow

The spigot on the house has a three-way attachment.  A while ago I got a the female end of a hose stuck on to one of the male spigots. The other end of the hose had been run over, so I re-circle-ated it and got a sprinkler seriously stuck on the male hose end.  The other two spigots (in what is turning out to be an overly sexual discussion of watering my lawn) have waterballoon-filling attachments (or at this point we'll just call waterballoons condoms).  One of those nozzles leaks and rather than water our basement foundation every time I water my lawn, I stick a bucket underneath it.  This pretty periwinkle blue bucket fills at a rate of once an hour which I then dump on favorite plants outside the semi-circle range of the sprinkler and in places that no longer get water because I mowed over too many parts of the sprinkler system.  We never dug the thick black hoses in to the ground because we have five acres and only two of us and we have other things to do, like watch youtube videos of old They Might Be Giants concerts and figure out which outfits still fit.  And also because our division of labor is that Huck takes care of the serious, non-sprinkler oriented irrigations and I mow the lawn to which he is allergic.  We sort of have two different perspectives on irrigation lines and their destiny as relates to the ground, above or below.
Mission Beach! Kids on boards behind us!

Now understand that if we did not irrigate we would live in a dust pile.  We already live in a dust pile, but irrigation ensures that it includes dusty trees and shrubs.  It is nice to imagine that without contraptions and civilization and modern conveniences we'd be living in a paradise where a meal was as easy as reaching up into the trees.  But here, in the time and place in which I actually live, we rely on electricity to power the well which pumps a glorious 45 mpg and could potentially create a lush Eden out of our little slice o'paradise... except that I minced the irrigation lines. And I am really sorry about that.
Coyote standing on his own two feet

Generally, I love, and have always loved, mowing the lawn.  I longed for the chore when I was a kid, even throwing a tantrum one late summer afternoon when I was called in to set the table and/or make the salad while my brother was made to mow the lawn.  I wanted a chore swap, yelled and cried for a chore swap, called them sexists and said they were preventing both of us from being complete individuals.  Also, I loved the wild, juicy, green smell of mowed lawn and and I wanted in on that.  But I was told they feared me running over my foot with the mower.  Ok.  So.  I was  a little dreamy and my head was in the clouds and I admit that there may have been some likelihood of that, given the number of time I sliced myself making our nightly salads. I suppose we can call ourselves lucky that, to-date, I have only wounded irrigation lines, lines that I have so diligently tried to avoid, leaving narrow strips of unmowed mohawks across the lawn.

This shell doesn't sound right
Luckily, neither husband has fought me for mowing rights.  On Orcas Island, when my first husband was in Alaska "working" that last summer, I was given a lawn mower, a very exciting, self-propelled thing that dragged me on many adventures.  But it threw spark plugs which I would go in search of and pick up and burn the prints off my fingertips.  Until I got wise and kept an oven mitt handy whenever I mowed the lawn.  But I tired of playing with spark plugs and I brought it in to get fixed.  The shop estimated $70 which seemed fair.  But when I picked it up the invoice was for $140! Twice as much!  And I rightfully demanded an accounting.  And that man, (He was a fat man and I use that term in the worst possible way with every negative connotation because once someone pisses me off, any trait is fair game as an insult: skinny, fat, blond, brunette, woman, man, freckled, tan, et al.  Any trait I normally don't give a flicking flea about becomes an insult, when provoked.) that fat man leaned his head back and laughed AT me, "Well, that was $70 to fix.  You wanted us to put it back together again, didn't you?"  I didn't want to pay, didn't think I should have to, but I wanted my mower back, my lovable, surprising, adventuresome, self-propelled mower.  So I paid. And that is life on an island.  There is only one place to get your wagon fixed and they'll charge whatever they damn well please.

Mulin Rouge Sunflower
Huck and I moved out here with only our reel mower, from our tiny Pullman yard.  It was obviously inadequate to the task.  Sure, the cows once took care of 3 acres, but a reel mower is still not up to 2 acres.  And it may not have been adequate for the 1/16th acre Pullman postage stamp yard either, now that I think of it.  The old owners left us their lawn mower, which was so nice, especially since it never worked.  Eventually I bought my nifty old riding lawn mower from a friend's father-in-law.  He'd bought a new one and offered us this one for a fair price.  Unfortunately, at that moment, we didn't have a fair price in our account.  Then he called me up! "Listen, I've got cancer.  I'm going in for radiation tomorrow.  I just want this thing out of my garage.  Would you please just take advantage of me?"  This was supposed to encourage me?! I'm no island mechanic.  I almost fainted with the stress.  But I rallied and stammered out a ridiculously low price figuring he'd bargain me up, but instead he said, "Great, I'll bring it by on my way to the hospital tomorrow."  Oh, shit, delivery too.

And that's how I got "Sexy Dude" (named after Patsy Cline's car... I think, I can't remember now.)  I spray painted it pink but with all the dust it just looks like unwashed red.  It's got a wonky tire that my dad taught me how to change, which sort of redeems that major gender/chore fuck up of my youth.

Zinnia
I promised the Weed Board (Blue would say here: "NO! Not THAT kind of Weed Board!") that I would mow my lawn... er weeds, by two days ago.  We only maintain 20 feet of fire-break lawn around the house, the rest is dusty "meadow" full of skeleton weed that the Weed Board wants gone, by hook or by crook.  We've looked in to renting goats (no one in this household is in the mood for owning our own livestock these days) but that's too expensive.  Spraying is the long term, but very unfortunate, plan.  For now, a few gallons of gas and some extra pounds of greenhouse gases and everyone will be happy, right?  But instead of mowing skeleton weed around defunct irrigation lines (that, I swear, I tried sooo hard to avoid!), I'm writing a blog about the pretty blue bucket that collects the dripping water and in which I found two stiff drowned mice that for all appearances look like they tried to poop their way out either through propulsion or possibly by making a pile high enough to jump off.  And also, there was, prophetically, one stunned praying mantis, bobbing vertically like a buoy.

Standing by the 6' Rudbeckia
 Addendum:  I wrote this, then Coyote re-commandeered the computer to finish off his summer vacation in style. Now I'm back, but the hiatus basically forced me to mow the "meadow," (not the field, no, not the field. The field will require heavy farm machinery at this point).  This meadow turned out to be very rich habitat which I utterly destroyed over the course of three days. At times I felt I was herding grasshoppers this way and that with each pass.  I involuntarily ran over many praying mantisi, I would try to stop and let them crawl to safety, but they often did not know which direction that was and got mowed on the next pass.  I tried to help one particular mantis several times but in the end, as he crawled on two legs, his wings shredded, I just ran over him on purpose. One flew up on my leg and looked me in the eye.  I imagine it was quite a spiritual experience for her, like seeing god in the eye of a tornado.  She was clearly asking me to stop with the slaughter; how would she find a husband's head to eat after mating?!  But I was god in this situation; I didn't have to stop.  And also, the Weed Board was breathing down my neck.  I kept mowing.  I also ran over several butterflies, eventually I hit and mangled two rainbows, and finally took out the last remaining unicorn.  I feel like an asshole.  But, after mowing, the yard was filled with gleeful quail dashing from maimed insect to maimed, immobilized insect.  The ring necked doves and finches twirled and dove overhead.  All the birds were looking at me like I was god, like I'd just bestowed the best blessing they've ever received.  They looked me in the eye and sang little bird songs of thanks and praise to their goddess. It was nice.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Strawberry Fields

My garden isn't bad this year.  In fact, it's one of my favorites ever.  Half of it is a manageable size, cute, lush, thriving, orderly, and fenced, like a garden should be, technically speaking.  The other half is a little "Berries Gone Wild", or maybe "Weeds of the Wild West co-starring Berries!"  I've been able to do things in the morning just recently (it's been a long time ... when I get up in the morning it seems like it takes me forever to understand where I am, what the rules are of this planet, and how to work this brain.  It's not normal morning fog, but more like every morning is a killer hangover. Some times I Have to get going first thing, but those days I crash and nap by 10am.  And I can't even have coffee; no one with head injuries can. We're all so susceptible to over-stimulation and coffee gets us there instantly), so I can go out and weed for a little bit before it gets to be 100 degrees.  I think it's worth it for my berries.  Actually, when I think about it, I don't think it's worth it.  Just like I didn't think I'd have a garden at all this year. The religion I grew up in had a saying: "Count the Cost."  And ever since I could remember, not one damn thing has seemed worth any kind of cost.  When I was 15, I would calculate how many hours I had to work at the Cookie Cafe, being sexually harassed by my boss, to afford something, a movie, or socks, or whatever and it never looked good, nothing could be worth THAT. But after I got my first paycheck, I bought my first pair of Birkenstocks and a nice camera and an expensive gift for my mother. For me, "Counting the Cost" is paralyzing. But then I get out into the garden, I go out to maybe move the sprinkler, or nosh some gooseberries, and suddenly I'm pulling weeds, babying the poor blueberries who are allergic to our alkaline soil, organizing the tangle of raspberries.
the mostly tame half

I don't know quite why I persist with the berries although I do love them.  They're perennials, and consequently well worth the effort.  I love things that come back: memories, friends, berries, purpose, summer, stillness.  You'd think I would hate berries, as the berry business sucked down half my youth. Okay. Maybe that's exaggerating.  Berry business took half my summers.  Summers aren't very long, but they do constitute almost the whole of our "youth," psychically. For the first few weeks of every summer, for as far back as I can remember, I picked strawberries professionally (raspberries too, but that's a story for another day).  I don't remember when I first saw a strawberry field, but it must have been when I was about six months old, when I first moved from Saskatchewan to Whatcom County.

Whatcom County is the unheralded berry capitol of the world, or at least my part of it.  Living in Whatcom County determined a large part of one's summer-time destiny because ALL of the youths of Whatcom County, all, universally picked strawberries.  At 5 AM or so, they would board school buses, school buses they had just, not a week before, stopped boarding for school.  But now they were being hauled out to the fields.  Some came for the school clothes money. Some came because it was free babysitting and their parents made them. It could be a rough crowd.

CHERRIES: NOT a Whatcom County fruit
But we didn't ride the bus.  We went by car because my mother picked with us and later, she would punch the cards. She made our enormous lunches the night before.  It was the only time we got the goodies: little bags of chips, granola bars, and soda, generic cans, frozen so that the ends poofed out.  The next day, if you were unlucky they'd explode, but if you were lucky, there would still be shards of ice in your soda by the time you drank it.  And if you were me, you would be attempting to guzzle a chunk of ice around 9 am.  I would sneak at least half of my lunch out before 10.  And when it was time to eat, and we'd all find our spot in some shade, from a tree or more likely just the bus, sitting on our little coolers, I might have some crust left of my sandwich by then. I'm still like that. If there's a lunch packed, I will eat it by 9 am.

There were hot days, with the stench of rotting berries wafting out of the rows. There were wet days when the whole world was covered in mud, from strawberries to jeans to faces and hair.  I remember the teens, the real teens, a few years older, with their boom boxes and their Killing an Arab Cure (which sparked my love affair with Camus).  I remember being harassed by a boy in that field and telling him my brother knew Judo and would beat him up.  I got in trouble for that because I'd apparently put my brother in danger as he'd only taken three Judo lessons and those were for SELF-defense, my parents explained. He didn't need me picking fights for him. Nevermind, that I felt I was in danger, enough to pull that obviously empty threat out of my ass.  My brother was naturally very gentle and even I knew that no matter what I hoped, sic-ing my brother on the boy was like pointing a brightly colored water gun at a robber. He's just not that kind of person.  I guess I wanted to imagine that he, or somebody, would stand up for me, if I needed it. I mean, what WAS the point of having an older brother? Later, he'd help me out plenty, driving me home from school when I was crying too hard for the bus, driving off a shitty boyfriend, helping me move, letting me take refuge in any home he's had. But that wasn't the day.

We'd scooch down the rows, kneeling in front of our buckets, almost like you might barf in it.  We'd pick this side, then that, pinching each berry off its stem and skirt with one beautiful, efficient motion. It still chills my spine when I see people just yanking at them, taking the stem with it... it just makes more work for yourself later when you have to de-stem them! And it's so unattractive. We'd each have an assigned row.  Maybe someone was on the other end, working to meet you, like strawberry soul mates scooching through life on a gradual, predetermined course to meet your shared destiny.  Maybe someone had already picked your row and it was empty, reassigned to you by mistake.  Or it hadn't been picked soon enough and was full of rotten berries.  And sometimes you'd hit what we called the "Mother Load" and you'd excitedly yell it out to your jealous co-scoochers.

When you thought you had a "flat", you'd take your buckets to the scale and "the puncher" (my mother).  You'd gingerly tumble your buckets into the flat and then she'd weigh it.  And with her little hole puncher, she'd punch your card.  Your card was like a coffee card, manilla, with little rows of 10's and 5's and 1's on it. It would be safety pinned to your father's old flannel shirt you were wearing, or to your hat, if you were cool. These punch cards would indicate how many pounds you picked.  And you'd fill it up, and give it to your berry boss.  And fill up the next one.  All the way to your new clothes.  But when shopping, I'd try hard to not think about how many pounds I had to pick and how many days it took me to pick those pounds to buy this or that. If I had allowed myself to think that, I would still have all of that money in savings.

Pennywhistle Press 1985, me n' my hat, and Cocoa
I bought jeans with ruched pockets.  They weren't an ordinary pant, so I called them "designer," a term I think I heard on "Dif'rent Strokes," (Was that real?  Was there really a sitcom called Dif'rent Strokes? What?  What ch-you talkin' 'bout, Willis?).  I also bought an enormous men's, size L cowboy hat, which was a little too tight for my gargantuan 9 year old head.  Later, I bought grey suede cowboy boots.  (I told my mother, when I was little, that I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up.  She said I couldn't be a cowboy; I had to be a cowGIRL. Oh Fuck that! I thought, I am not riding side saddle with pink sparkly reigns! I don't want to be a girl anymore, if that's what it means!  And what I said was, "NO! I'm going to be a cowBOY!" And I ran off to pout about having a vagina, but not quite in those terms. I think that if you've never pouted about having a vagina, you're not paying attention.  I mean, I'm done pouting about it and I realize that the problem is not with my vagina but with patriarchy. But it's an appropriate response when you first realize everything that comes with a penis.)

Summer Office of Choice
Sometimes, the best pickers and the most connected ones would be picked-up for the elites: picking for the roadside berry stands.  You had to learn a whole new style of picking that left the little green skirts on the tops of the berries.  So you'd need to show you were a quick learner and a careful picker, with no bruised berries and eventually someone would notice, someone HAD to. Occasionally I'd be inspired to strive for this honor. Striving might be overstating it... what I really did was fantasize about it, staring in to space, eating handfuls of strawberries from my bucket.  Imagine: twenty cents per pound!  What would that be like?  What could you buy?  How much ruching on what jeans? How many cowboy hats? What about a trapper keeper with a horse on it? Or unicorns maybe?  Oh man, everyone would be so jealous. It would go like this: a man in a good suit would bee-line for you in the field, not even looking at the others.  He'd kneel down, hold your hand, the King Sugar Daddy of the Strawberry Fields. You don't need to work here any more, Roxanne, you don't need to put on the strawberry red light. The others would gape and gasp as you were escorted to the waiting white limo, to the roadside stand, whisked away to join the Green Berets of the strawberry fields. And that boy, well, he would be so mad at himself for making fun of you.  And your brother would wish he'd known Judo better and he'd regret wasting his one opportunity to stand up for you. Count the Cost, kids, Count the Cost of dissing me!

In Seattle, showing off our perfect Jennifer Forland necklaces
But then change came to Whatcom County. Short, narrow tracts of buildings were erected along the edges of our strawberry fields, OUR strawberry fields.  They were a mystery to us and we marveled at their possible purpose.  We were shocked to eventually learn, through rumor, that they were housing. For What?! Ants? For migrant laborers, actually. They'd travel all the way from South of the Border to pluck berries, here in Whatcom County, on the edge of the Northern Border of the Homeland!  Some adults I overheard were upset because they didn't want those kind of people shipped to our county, the kind willing to live in outhouse-sized rooms, the kind that moved a lot, and didn't speak English and were... let's say, tan year round.  Other adults were horrified that these foreigners would come as guests to our community, to do our dirty work, and then be housed so shabbily.  It wasn't ethical.  And it would reflect poorly on our community, on us.  It seems shocking that people once felt that way, felt like hosts to migrant laborers, or that foreigners were to be treated well, like the Bible says, because we are all foreigners, strangers, L’√Čtranger.  Do Christians even remember those verses anymore?  There's so many of them, it seems like it would be difficult to accidentally skip all of them.

But I was 13 and I took it personally.  How could they drop us like hot potatoes?  I'd given up the first half of every damn summer vacation FOR THEM, for the Mayberry and Enfield berry billionaires of Whatcom County. They'd gotten rich and built ostentatious mansions out of the summer days of my childhood. And this is how they repayed me? With a lay off notice is the form of cinder block strip houses?  Where was my due notice, my severance package?


Happy 10! Minecraft Style. 
Then came the awkward summer when we shared our fields with the migrant workers.  And I was appalled by their work "ethic."  I was white, presumed to have THE Protestant Work Ethic, and I did sometimes.  But these people were some thing else altogether.  They picked fast and clean and thorough and so fast, like, really really fast, like their lives depended on it.  It was both admirable and unattractive.  And what did we do? We tipped over outhouses full of berry squirts, for fun.  We developed ingenious slingshots from berry leaves and launched rotten berries at the backs of our berry bosses (usually school teachers). We peed in our flats to make them weigh more (never been a fan of Smuckers since!).  Big Rachel and I would laugh so hard, we'd collapse and roll in the dust or mud, as if we'd burst into flames from hilarity and had to stop, drop, and roll across the rows, as if our lives depended on it. I have physical scars from how hard we goofed off. Yes, we'd made some money and we'd been paid pennies on the pound, but in between bouts of serious and silent efforts, we'd goofed off.  I can't say I hated the migrant workers.  I would've hired them over us kids, any day.  And I can't say I missed the dirty, stinky long days in the fields. But I felt jilted somehow, cheated. Whatever. The next summer, I'd babysit anyway.  Full time.  I'd watch MTV and my boyfriend would come over when the kids went to play at the neighbors.  And we'd make out on the couch. Take THAT, berry bosses!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rebel Yell: I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

The head injury has facilitated a full rebellion, a coup, against who I thought I was: industrious, adventurer, moderation-ater moderated by rashness.  All of it has become verboten.

At Turnbull Wildlife Refuge
I watch TV (less and less now), my house has gone to crap (Huck and I are finally working as a team again to put it back together, slowly), and Adventuresome Me is now a homebody shy of unfamiliar faces and places where I might get lost (although I fly today for Seattle... familiar but further afield than I've been recently), and I've experienced a horrifying and extreme medically necessary laziness where my typical impetuousness and sudden bursts of energy and decisiveness are all ultimately destructive under these conditions.  Even moderation is too much.  I've required a consisted level of torpor that's driven me nearly insane.

And what has lifted me from this near-death ennui?  What makes no demands on my so-easily-exhausted eyes and ears?

Food. Glorious Food!

Mixed with an inability to exercise... well, the inevitable is happening.  I failed to calculate or care all that much about reconfiguring my caloric intake to match my new and reduced daily needs.  I have no idea what the numbers are because I have never owned a scale and I have never owned a scale because I have been, largley, the same weitght my entire adult life, I think. All I know is that my pants don't fit, along with most of my shirts and skirts and unders.  Shoes all seem fine still.  The practical problem is that I don't care to buy a whole new wardrobe.  So I picked up a few sweat pant versions of skirts and there we have it.

I worried this would happen right from the beginning.  Immediately, I could see that even if this lasted the mere 3 months that it does in 85% of cases, I would come out much softer than before.  So I developed a regime of low stress, low dizzy factor, reclining yoga poses to at least preserve flexibility. They were the sort of exercises (think savasana) where I would forget I was doing them or fall asleep and I'd be no worse for the wear.  But then when my brain began to awaken from it's deep freeze, even those exercises became overwhelming.  And anyway, they weren't about caloric burn, but rather flexibility, and clinging to old routines to keep from feeling like I was just drifting in space without a tether.

The gains were stayed for a while because my hunger hormones were off line.  I had no way to gauge when to eat, so I ate by the clock and eye-balled my stomach size.  Unfortunately, I still don't have a good way to tell when I'm full.  So I eat until I am bored with the flavor.  But in this here little life of mine, the boredom threshold has gotten a little high.

Mother's Day in a camas field.
I've been mostly the same weight my whole life, except for a few notable issues. Nearly twenty years ago I stress-ate entire pies in a sitting, but then I stress-digested them too and ended up so thin my underwear wouldn't stay up and my doctor threatened to hospitalize me.  I was also super sick during my first trimester with Blue and then got sick again in India during my third trimester.  After that semi-large girl was born, I weighed less than I had in high school.  But with Coyote, I gained a good amount, as one should, and had no problem loosing it and felt comfortable and maternal in my soft body.

A friend of mine with similar health issues has also experienced a muscle-to-adipose conversion over the course of her convalescence.  I confessed to her that I have never dieted and had no idea how to go about getting into my clothes again.  "Well don't ask me!" She said. "I have a history of dieting a little to well.  If we follow my plan, we'll lose more than we want, in very little time. And then they will hospitalize us."  Ok.  Well, that's not what we need.  I think it would be terrible to have a fraught history of dieting, either in excess or yo-yo-ing.



Once, an acquaintance asked me how I stayed thin.  I have never thought of myself as thin, rather, average. I told her I had no idea, it was likely genetic and I was probably the wrong person to ask.  But she insisted that I was probably doing something very different that she was and she watched me closely for an afternoon, pointing out all the things I did different.  Now, I'd like to remember what she said.  What did I used to do...

She said something about how we don't do fast food.  We still don't. It's not hard to do when you can't have wheat.  And there was the portion control and the vast difference between her bowl of ice cream and mine.  So maybe I could start there, with the ice cream.

Yeah, that's it.  Better portion control.  Less ice cream. I decided.

Then I went grocery shopping, and the good kind of ice cream was on a great sale.  So I bought a few tubs.  And when I got home, I unloaded all the groceries and was tired and it was lunch time.  So I had a large portion-uncontrolled bowl of ice cream and then a smaller bowl of a different variety for dessert.  And then I threw in a few radishes from the garden at the end.

So... that's dieting by Sarajoy, in a nutshell.

There is something deliciously rebellious in considering a healthy, good-for-you plan and then not really adhering to it all. The more I think about diets, the more I want a giant bowl of ice cream.  I finally read the label (not for ingredients, which I do all the time, but for calories).  Holy Shit.  Ice cream has a lot of calories! Did you know that?!  I did not.  And it's really too bad.  Ice cream should not have any calories.  That would be fair.  Do you hear me, Universe?!  And also wine.  Wine has calories too.  I never thought of it that way.

But you know what, I kind of feel like I deserve these things and that they shouldn't have consequences and fuck you, Sarajoy, for trying to take it away, or even dole it out.  You and your stupid Libra moderation.  My life has really sucked lately, you don't even now the half of it.  Everything that has fueled me and made my life fun and pleasurable has been taken from me.  Luckily, I have found pleasure in the curiosity and explorations of life in this new state, but it hasn't been easy.  And now my stupid jeans come around and say: looks like you need moderation, girlie!  But ice cream IS moderation, if you look at the big picture.  Ice cream and it's calorie rich friends (home made mayo! hollandaise sauce!) are here to balance out the suckage of this homebody life I did not choose. We haven't even gotten to go out to eat much because of the noise and people and all that.  Not only is it the head injury, it's also my allergy to gluten. I mean, I can't even have cream cheese danishes already because of  the wheat and danishes are Dutch for "love."  (When I was 15 and staying with my uber-stoic maternal grandmother while my parents were out of town, she packed my lunch one day with only an entire six pack of cream cheese danishes.  On the way to school, I peaked and asked her if this was a mistake.  And that super-self-controlled woman glanced at me with a devilish look in her eyes and she GIGGLED.  She giggled.  She said, "Well, if you don't want them, I can take them."  And whenever I bring it up, she still giggles, and shrugs her shoulders.  And I guess I just discovered the food-rebellion gene.)

Anyway, fat and our culture have big issues.  And it confuses me.  Fat isn't any kind of moral statement about a person. What's so bad about extra adipose?  But then, who wants to be fat?  (Not that I'm saying I am, I'm just a few sizes bigger than I used to be).  It's a complicate topic that's well addressed from many different angles all over the internet.  And I worry that by talking about it I'll gross some people out and offend others, especially my friends with more to love and/or are more fat-literate than I.  I don't expect I'll be figuring this all out today.  For now, I'm just confused on what about this issue is me and what is my internalized culture.

At any rate, I'm sure I'll get exercising again soon. It will be a tricky endeavor to burn calories while catering to my shattered vestibular system and light/noise restrictions.  And until then, I'm looking around for painless ways to cut.  For instance, I recently cut out the gobs of honey and cream I was dumping in my morning cup-o-hojicha.  So I like my green tea the British way, what of it?  I'm a woman a the world, it's only natural to combine cultural norms.  But I'm sure there are many prisoners of purity that are happy to hear I'm back on the straight-n-narrow green tea-wise.

I haven't noticed a difference with that, however.  In fact, I may be getting bigger.  So far my diet consists simply of thinking about the calories in what I've eaten (and trying not to mention that out loud around my 13 yo daughter, who's may be at that sensitive stage, or not, it's hard to tell with her, she inherited my recessive stoic genes).  I don't think I'm technically overweight, yet, but I can see it from my back porch.

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