Saturday, August 11, 2007
When Jasper first arrived, you couldn't pick him up at all. He fought any confining hands. I started by petting him all over, running my hands under his chest and belly. Then lifting him slightly to move him closer to food. Then lifting him completely for a second. Then lifting him to my chest while scratching his head and neck, ignoring his struggles. Then he stopped struggling, enduring patiently but not liking it. Then he seemed to sort of like it, but he didn't want me to know it.
Today he purred and relaxed while I was holding him. We're getting there. He can't meet Miss Thunderfoot until he's been to the vet, and I don't want to take him to the vet until he's comfortable with me holding him, so ... pretty soon.
A friend has decided to enter a new career field. She has announced her plans in her blog, but she's being very mysterious. She'll say only that it's a 30-hour certification program at SUNY, starting in October, and that she'll have to work for someone else for a while to gain experience, then she plans to go out on her own. But she's not telling what it is because she doesn't want to hear "You can't do that!"
Anyone who knows me knows I see this as a challenge.
Hmmm. SUNY (State University of NY) online catalog. Certification courses. Thirty hours - eliminates home inspection and web design. October - eliminates some more. Something you can do "on your own" - eliminates respiration therapist and pharmaceutical assistant and a few others (unless she plans to sell drugs on street corners). One by one courses get eliminated until I'm left with Personal Trainer, and Nutritional and Wellness Consultant (which may as well be eliminated because I can't find it in the fall catalog). Both of those remaining two are ideally suited to her abilities and interests, so I can't see anyone telling her she "can't do that".
'Tis a mystery.
Guess I'll have to wait for October.
The drum & bugle corps competition is in Kingston tonight, and although I've been looking forward to it for weeks, I've decided not to go.
A close friend is involved in a stressful and potentially emotionally devastating situation right now. It doesn't involve me, but I'm worried for my friend. I'm getting only occasional terse updates via email, so it's not like I want to sit by the phone, but still, I don't think I could enjoy the show when my constant thoughts are elsewhere. I'd feel somehow disloyal.
The fact that none of my favorite corps will be there makes the decision a little bit easier. Although I do wish it was raining.
Spam's getting more seductive. They've finally figured out I'm not interested in increasing the size of my penis, or seeing some teen's "private personal" videos. They've figured out that maybe I want FREE STUFF!
This is really truly the subject lines of the entire contents of my Yahoo id's spam bucket today:
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...Not sure how James and his colon got in there....
One of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons is "Jane & The Dragon". I get it on NBC. The characters and stories are ok, no violence. What fascinates me are the technical aspects.
I love the way everything but the faces look like they were colored (expertly, and beautifully) with crayons. The bodies move so naturally they look like they could be "shopped" humans in costumes, but I'm pretty certain they're not. Like, when a character is just standing with his arms hanging, an arm will sway slightly, just like a real arm will. The faces show the tiniest nuances of emotion. (But the bodies are definitely cartoon bodies, with impossible proportions and so on.)
It's well and beautifully done, and that's what I love to watch. I watch it because I admire it.
That got me thinking about how visually oriented I am. Everyone likes to look at beautiful things of course, but I often see beauty where others don't. A pattern in the gravel on a path. A cow's eyelashes. That soft spot behind Jay's left ear. I'm not talking about the "oh, that's pretty" stuff. I'm talking about stuff that stops me, that makes me focus to the exclusion of my surroundings. Don't try to talk to me when I'm looking at a cow's eyes. The simplest things will stop me in my tracks. Like that moment in the evening, some evenings, when the sun is dropping and the very air turns golden, and the light seems to shine from under the leaves. If I'm driving, I have to pull over until it ends, because it overwhelms me.
My furniture is mostly Victorian, and my decor tends to the Victorian, too. Visually cluttered. I don't see how anyone can live in those sterile white straight-surfaced spaces shown in the magazines. I want my home to be such that no matter where my eye alights, it finds something beautiful, something visually interesting.
My greatest health fear is blindness. I've known several blind people, and they lived full lives, but still, for me, a diagnosis of impending blindness would frighten me more than an inoperable cancer. Cancer might take my life, but blindness would leave me alive with no life.
Jay was blind the last six months before he died. He didn't fully understand that he was blind, though, because his brain was still generating visual signals. He very clearly saw things, and I'd have to explain to him that what he saw was not there. He couldn't feed himself, because although I'd take his hand, "The juice is here, and the cookies are here...", what he "saw" and believed was different. The hardest was when he saw people standing next to his bed, and wanted to know who they were. He could describe them down to the tiniest detail. It was very confusing to him when I'd tell him it was all hallucination. I felt so sorry for him. Blackness would have been a blessing.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I have two very close friends who are worried about losing their parents. We're at that age, so they're at that age. Roman lost both his parents within four days of each other last January.
People assume that I would understand their feelings, because both of my parents are gone. I've been through it.
Actually, maybe I don't understand fully. I didn't have the relationship with my parents that most people have.
When my father died, thirty years ago, the "on top" reaction was merely relief. I wouldn't have to be afraid of him any more, and I wouldn't have to worry about my younger siblings any more. (Which actually was wrong, because the damage done lingered for decades.) I thought we were all finally released.
That was on top, the rational part. Deep down was different.
I never saw him dead, so deep in the dark places I didn't believe he was dead. Daughter was very sick and in the hospital when he died, so I wasn't able to go to the funeral (which was moot anyway, since no one told me he had died until a week later. I don't know why).
Deep in the dark places in my mind, I was convinced that people were just telling me he was dead that so I wouldn't try to kill him. That he was hiding, and would come after me or Little Brother as soon as I got comfortable. I had nightmares for over a year in which I was hiding Little Brother from him, and he kept finding him and beating him. I'd wake up screaming and shaking. During the day, any unexpected movement glimpsed from the corner of my eye would have me shaking. It took a few years before the dark places relaxed.
My mother died seventeen years ago. I was holding her hand when she died. At first, for maybe two days, I felt like an orphan. Like my safety and support were gone, and I was alone. And then that dissipated, and I felt nothing. It took another five years for me to realize that I felt nothing not because of depression, but because there was simply nothing to feel.
She was never our safety and support. She made no effort to protect us (other than shouting "Not the head! Not the head!" when we were being beaten). She never gave us any advice or guidance. No praise or encouragement. She pretty much ignored us. We kids grew up competing for our mother's attention, and learning to deflect our father's anger away from ourselves and onto each other, which doesn't lead to good sibling relations. Our mother was really nothing more to us than the quartermaster, the person we went to for necessities.
We wanted to love our parents, we tried very hard, we wanted them to love us, we tried very hard, we convinced ourselves there was some connection, but it in actual fact, it just wasn't there. If my parents had been rich, we kids would probably have been in year-round boarding school from the age of five. That might have been better.
So, no, I probably don't fully understand how my friends feel when they lose their parents, certainly not the depth and breadth.
I wish I did.
A map showing the spread of the world's major religions, by major portion of the population over the past 5,000 years, is at http://www.mapsofwar.com/. Fascinating! I didn't realize that Hinduism is that old, but I guess if I'd thought about it, I'd have figured it out.
Scroll down a bit and you'll find the link to "Imperial History", which illustrates the spread of political control. I'd never even heard of the Sassanid Empire, but it was apparently significant.
For more fascinating explorations, click on "Maps" on the left. Good stuff.
The 2000 Daily notebook has reminded me of how strange Jay was in 2000. I had forgotten.
In May 2000, he decided to cut back the raspberries spreading into the yard from the woods. I happened to glance outside and found that he was cutting everything, including good shrubs, young trees, flowers, everything. Like his mind said "Cut", and the governor was off.
Along about July he started changing lightbulbs. If you didn't keep him occupied with other stuff, if he got to loose ends, he'd start changing light bulbs. When we went to the store, he'd insist on buying more light bulbs. The bulbs weren't burned out - I'd retrieve them from the garbage - it's just like he'd forget to flip the light switch, decide the bulb was out, and replace it. That explains why I now have a few hundred light bulbs in the pantry. Funny how I'd forgotten that.
We used to go to garage sales on weekends. I'd drive and he'd navigate. Along about August he lost the ability to read maps. He could find streets on the map and trace the route to get there, but he couldn't apply it to the roads we were on. We'd come up to a "Y", and I'd ask "Which way?", and he couldn't figure it out. About this same time he could no longer read a calendar, or do the binary search required to find a word in the dictionary. And no matter where we went, even just up the road to the deli, he thought we had crossed the river.
In September, he lost doors and drawers. If they were closed, they became solid walls to him. He didn't know how to get to the other side of them, or in some cases, that there even was anything on the other side. If you opened them for him, he'd leave them open, even the shower stall door. He couldn't figure out how to keep the water in the shower stall.
In late September, he sometimes got lost in the house. If he was tired, he couldn't find the bedroom from the dining room. We didn't dare close bathroom doors.
It was in October that he woke me in the middle of the night to tell me that there was someone else in bed with us. I asked who, where, and he pointed to his left arm and whispered "There. That's his arm." He didn't recognize his left arm. He could move it, use the hand to pick things up, but didn't recognize it, which was very confusing to him. He kept hitting it, like he wanted it to go away.
By November he could no longer dress himself. He would dress his right side, but neglect the left, and of course his clothing wouldn't stay on, and he couldn't figure out why not. He looked so cute coming out to the kitchen for breakfast with his robe on his right side, the belt tied neatly around his waist, but the left side completely naked, and the left half of the robe dragging on the floor behind him. By December, however, he couldn't remember how to tie a knot, so the robe wouldn't stay on at all.
And yet, some parts of his mind were as sharp as ever. It was during this time that he completed work on the invention application (the one that was finally granted last fall), and his old workmates still depended on him for telephone consultation on highly technical matters.
Some things were lost, well, more like hidden, since his logical powers didn't work in the hidden areas, but what hadn't been lost was as good as ever.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
I was just talking on the phone with Daughter. Re The Man, she said "You must be walking on air", and I said sort of. I admire him. I enjoy him. I even adore him. I have loved every minute I've spent with him. I'm very happy that he appreciates me, too. But in a lot of ways, he comes across as a married man who's cheating. That's one of the few things I'm sure of, that he's not married, but I still feel like he's hiding something. Mainly me. After Roman, this bothers me. With time, maybe I'll find out what's going on, but in the meantime, I don't feel that he fully trusts me, and so I can't fully trust him, and since my natural tendency is to trust, I have to keep reminding myself to hold back. I'm hoping this will just take time.
On Piper, I was saying that I like him, he's always so happy and so much fun, and so perceptive, I love talking with him, but there's no way anything further could ever be, because he'd quickly drive me crazy. But I had difficulty describing why he would drive me crazy, and Daughter said "He sounds like a perpetual puppy." That's IT! Perfect description.
Yesterday I had dinner with The Man, and we went to a karaoke bar.
I went to meet him with some trepidation, to tell the truth. He was supposed to leave on a trip yesterday, but he delayed leaving and asked me on Tuesday to meet him halfway (which would be about Newburgh) on Wednesday evening. We'd have a few hours together, then he'd be going home so he could head out this morning. He said he wanted to see me before leaving on what could be a stressful trip.
I guess I'm not very confident. He won't end our relationship (whatever it is, I'm not sure yet) by phone, email, or ignoring. He'd end it in person. So, since he wasn't planning to stay over, and he'd be driving three hours to spend less than 4 hours with me, I figured well, this must be it.
I guess I was wrong. He was open, affectionate, and attentive. I guess he just wanted a few smiles and strokes before going out to battle. I wished I had a long silk scarf to tie on his helmet.
Today I set out for the museum. I stopped at The Hairless Hunk's to pay for the past several mowings and got into an extended conversation with him, then went to the post office, and the grocery store (more cat food), and the bank, and then noticed that Piper's car was outside his office. He had been to Florida to visit his mother, so I decided to stop in and find out how she is.
His office door was locked, but the lights were on. That means he's at the cafe up the street or in the bar/bistro across the street.
I found him in the bar. Soused. He'd been doing shots. As usual, there were several guys there, his "buddies" (he knows everyone). He was very happy. And soused enough to be a bit overly affectionate toward me. I know he toys with the occasional thought of "us", but he knows I'm not encouraging him. He's already got a lady (which I remind him), and he'd quickly drive me crazy (which I don't tell him).
I decided to stay a while. He has to drive to Rockland for dinner, a retirement party for an old friend, and he needed sobering up, and his buddies weren't going to help with that. When I said "You're drunk!" he said he wasn't going to have any more, but while I was there, the buddies bought him three more shots. I got pretty thoroughly hugged and cheek-kissed, and over the next two hours he sang just about every Sinatra song to me. While holding my hand. His trip to Florida didn't go very well, and I tried to lure him back to his office with me and tell me about it, but he didn't want to leave.
When it was time for him to go to Rockland, he left. I offered to go with him, designated driver, etc., but he kept saying he was fine. Nothing else I could do about it short of calling the cops. Maybe I should have.
He's a terrible driver even sober, the concept of lanes is theoretical to him, he's easily distracted by thoughts and bright objects, but on the other hand he's never had an accident, so it's hard to argue with him.
I never made it to the museum.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Incidentally, it's interesting the difference between obviously male and obviously female rears. But "fashion" would seem to dictate that females should be so thin that their behinds look male. Fashion also dictates that males should look and smell female (all this shaving of body hair, yuck! Why would a man shave his chest? I don't understand.)
Maybe my mother was right forty years ago, when painful pointy shoes came out, and she said that the goal of the fashionistas was to undermine sexual signals.
The behinds in this ad look normal, real, they way they should (except I do like my male bottoms a bit furrier).
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I went to the museum today, to finish processing the July membership renewals and new members. The renewals go fairly quickly, because the members are replying using a form we sent them, with their names and addresses pre-printed on them, and a data base record already exists for them. New members are harder, because I have to create a record from their handwritten form.
I tear my hair out over some of those forms. Don't these people know that someone has to READ these things? For example, what's this person's last name? Take a guess in the comments. I'll tell you on Friday.
Monday, August 06, 2007
I went to the museum this afternoon, processed some membership checks. Russ says they have a new guy, a 70-year-old retiree, on staff, and wondered if I'd like to offload some of the membership responsibilities on him. I jumped at it! I told Russ that because it requires responsibility and deadlines, this job really should be done by a paid staff member, not a volunteer. A volunteer like me is likely to do what they can when they can, without too much regard for the calendar. Staff will follow a schedule.
(Well, I suppose there are some volunteers who will sacrifice their lives for the museum's needs, but, hey, I'm not one of them.)
I did some grocery shopping on the way home - those vegetables, you know. When I opened the laundry room door to take some frozen stuff to the freezer, I was immediately hit by the smell!
After a week of wondering if Jasper was constipated, or going somewhere and hiding it, and worrying if he was about to burst, today I got to clean his litter box. I danced around and told him what a good boy he was.
Last night, after sniffing the Thunder piddle and Thunder poopy samples I had put in the litter box, he finally made the connection, dug a hole in the litter, squatted over it, and piddled for what seemed like forever. Afterward, he was a bit skittish, like he thought maybe I'd scold him for it. I had hoped I'd see something more substantial this morning, but there was only another wet spot.
He pooped this afternoon sometime, while I was out. He'd made a valiant attempt to bury it - almost every bit of litter was piled in that one corner. It wasn't a full week's worth, but at least I'm sure he's not bound up.
Lack of exercise is probably a contributing factor. He's used to running a lot. But we both feel a lot better now, I'm sure.
I figure I've got twenty years or so left, probably fifteen of which will be fairly active. Looking back, that seems like a long time. 1987 seems like a long time ago. There's been a lot packed into that time. But looking forward, it doesn't seem like that long at all. The past seven years have slipped past with hardly any notice. They feel lost.
That's a third of what's left.
I still look halfway decent, if I get enough sleep, and sit and stand straight, and wear makeup, and keep my hair clean, and hold my belly in, and don't put any weight back on. But I don't anymore accidentally see me in a store window and think "she looks good" before I realize it's me. That used to happen all the time. Now I look in a mirror and think "pretty ok", and I look at a photograph and cringe.
I'm still in relatively good health, as long as I don't go to a doctor and get a diagnosis that'll make me think I'm about to die. I can still walk for miles and miles. I can do 30 pushups, the military style. I should eat more vegetables, and stop smoking, and avoid sugar, I suppose. And I need to get back to walking.
Clerks still hesitate to ask me if I qualify for the senior discount. Teens are amazed when they hear my age. They say I look, oh, maybe early 50s, and "that's only because of the hair". Of course, to them, early 50s is ancient. It's their grandmother's age. And I have a pretty good idea of what their grandmother looks and acts like.
I woke up this morning thinking about housework, and I realized that I don't want to spend one third of the time I have left cleaning house. And one third sleeping. And one third waiting.
I want to whirl through the space and time left. I want to go places, and see things. I want to love and be loved.
I want and need someone to care for. I'm very good at loving and caring. I can make someone feel strong and capable and worthy and alive. I can make a man feel whole, and appreciated.
I want to be loved back, every day.
I'm at an age now where if I don't use every part of my body, it will dry up and blow away. All the parts still work, and some of the most fun parts require male attention to stay in shape. I want everything to continue working.
I don't want to spend a third of my life waiting for something to happen.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Jasper and I are getting along well. While he was out from behind the washing machine last night, I slid a storm window panel between the utility sink and the washing machine, so he can't get back there any more.
He has chosen a replacement spot on a bottom shelf. There's a cooler and a stack of towels on the floor in front of that spot, so he feels safe.
When I walk in the room now, he comes right out. Loves getting head and neck scratches, rolls around on the floor waving his paws in the air. He's very gentle when we play fight. I've noticed that he "kneads" a lot, even when he's just sitting and waiting.
I've been getting him used to being picked up. Just little lifts, moving him from one spot to a more desirable spot, like closer to the food, for example.
He's still eating like every kibble is his last, but he's still ignoring the litter box. I haven't the faintest idea where he's "going". There's no odor. It's possible he's constipated, but his belly's not hard, and --- he's still eating.
I started out with that white stuff in the litter pan, but I thought maybe the bits were too sharp for his paws, so I switched to Miss Thunderfoot's usual pine sawdust pellets. Then I added some "samples" from Miss Thunderfoot's litter box. He was very interested in sniffing them, but didn't seem to take the hint.
I'm afraid I may have to go outside and cut a piece of sod for him! I wonder if he prefers grass, dirt, or mulch.
Got an email from Sister this afternoon.
Our youngest brother has been "lost" for years. We didn't know where he was, even whether he was alive or dead. When last seen, he wasn't healthy, living was precarious.
Sister (in Florida) says she was in a bar with a group of people and a man came over and asked if a stool was taken. It was. She thought he looked familiar, so later she went over to him and introduced herself. It was Youngest Brother. He hadn't recognized her, which is interesting because she has changed very little.
I gather it was an emotional reunion. He said he's got control of his life now, a car, a job. Sister says he's supposed to visit her home this evening.
I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm happy that he seems to be back on track. On the other hand, deep down in the protective part, I'm thinking I don't want to find him and lose him all over again. I don't know how to react to him. Sometimes letting go is easier than holding on.
He was born when I was 15. Mom had a lot of difficulty with the birth, and he came home from the hospital several months before she did. Even after she came home, she was unable to care for him, so through his infancy and much of his toddlerhood, he was essentially my baby.
It was the effort to protect him that had me twice planning to kill my father.
It was realizing that I would go to those lengths to protect him, but our mother made no effort to protect us, that lead to my breakthrough.
And then he grew up, and things happened, choices were made, and there was nothing I could do. I couldn't protect or help him any more.
Sometimes letting go is easier than holding on.
Nice of you to have found your way here. Welcome to my new home.
I moved without leaving a forwarding address, but I am fully aware I haven't hidden completely. A determined searcher will still find me, but not for a while, and I would hope that the effort wouldn't be worth it.
Don't forget to change your Bloglines subscription, if you have one.