juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Cat story the first.

At evil o'clock (usually between 6 and 8 a.m.) the cat wakes me by scratching at my closet door. The closet is where the food lives; she eats "breakfast" at 11a. If I yell at and/or ignore her and go back to sleep, she'll do it again, every hour or so. She'll only do it if I'm sleeping. She does it because I'm sleeping.

If I get up, she'll run under the bed. I can't bribe her with a piece of food—I must actually put an entire serving in her bowl. And then I pick her up before she can eat it and lock her in the bathroom until 11a.

This morning, she did the scratching thing and I did the yelling thing and then she ... seemed to let me go back to bed. But then I would hear a random, weird and muffled, scratching noise, but I couldn't see the cat. It was less annoying but much stranger than usual, so I finally got up. I couldn't find her anywhere—in the closet, under the bed.

The cat had gotten herself stuck in a mostly-zipped up suitcase in my closet.

I rolled the suitcase out of my room and into the bathroom and then I let her out so that she could spend the next few hours not annoying me.

Cat story the second.

When I was in San Francisco, Dee went up to see the Mariners for their opening game. We were going to ask our neighbor to catsit, so she was out of town; instead, Devon drove up for a few days. (It gets better: This week, my father is driving down to California to meet my mother, who is coming back northward after a few months spent with my grandparents in Texas. While he's in California, I'm heading to Corvallis to housesit and watch Jamie the dog.) Just after he came home, we had the following IM conversation.

Devon: I didn't know when you were feeding August, so I just fed her every twelve hours. You know 11:00 am and 11:00 pm. I don't know how much she liked waiting that long for foods in the morning.

Me: yep that's exactly when I've been feeding her actually
so that "waiting"
was not waiting
it was her normal time

Devon: Sweet.

juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Made the train trip home from San Francisco yesterday, the best overnight trip I've had. They turned off the bright overheads at night (they don't always; yes, it's cruel), my seatmate barely look up her side least of all encroached on mine, and everyone learned an ingenious trick from the woman across the isle: put your feet up on the fold-down tray, do it do it do it. It exhibits no grace or manners, and you can't stretch your legs out all the way, but who cares because it's the only thing on the damn train that creates an acute angle at the hips and so takes pressure off the lower back. I actually got a few hours of sleep, I only took one pill, and I was not in incredible pain.

When in San Francisco I almost feel like I could live there. Express is a fantastic roommate, because we know each other so well and because he works out of the home, and I will drink up all the downtime you give me. The most basic acts of housekeeping seem like miracles to him—he'd do well with a roommate, I think, if it were someone he knew well or a lover: someone to dirty enough dishes to warrant using the dishwasher, and make the occasional miraculous dinner. It makes me feel like some sort of domestic goddess just to make a quiche, so. The city is visually fascinating, although I haven't fallen in love with its social culture. The weather is tolerable—fantastic, for California. There was even a thunderstorm when I was there.

And then we come up over the mountains and down the other side, the evergreens start to fade into deciduous and it begins to rain, and the world outside is the Willamette Valley and I'm like: yanno what, never mind. There are actually a few places in the world that I would love to live, but they all look like this (verdant yellow green against wet black-brown with the spring) and they all have this heart-gripping sense of home.

If I dare try to do something foolish when walking in the door after I've been away—like, say, check my email—August will climb all over me with an awkwardness that's unusual for her and stare at or bite any hand which is not occupied by petting. My best bet is just to lie down so there are no distractions and she can throw herself against me, a black puff made solid by desperation and purr. This time I ended up with her sprawled across my chest and belly (let's face it, she's not a small cat) while I lay on my back, nose nuzzled between my breasts but her tummy up in a dignity-less feat of flexibility, and we touched each other all over until we had been painted in love (and I in cat hair).

I was going to tell a funny cat story here but, you know, I think I'll save it. What matters is that I love her. I love her so much that it feels as though my heart may burst.

And I came home to this on the whiteboard:

The whiteboard when I came home from San Francisco
Best roommate? Best roommate.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Last night while trying to sleep I composed a lengthy Tumblr post in my head, one which should more properly be a number of posts because, well, it's Tumblr—go tl;dr and go home. Yet writing an LJ post, lengthy or otherwise, seems difficult these days. I know in large part it's just that my daily distractions are focused around content that ends up on my Tumblr, namely Let Me Tell You About My Video Games.

It's also that I think my back has reached a new level of suck ... probably since the start of this month? Time is fuzzy. It's that sort of stealth/background pain that I think I don't actually know I feel, which makes all of this sound like the worst sort of bitching: behold, the suffering I experience because I can't tell I'm suffering! But it ruins my mood and my patience and tries do to the same to my brain; I don't know how there can be pain I don't recognize (freakishly high tolerances? loss of feeling in my back? skewed expectations? yes to all of these things), but it's no better for that, I still get almost all of negative repercussions of pain with even more limited ability to treat it.

I was worried about this before the trip, and stuffed myself full of naproxen sodium on the train, and could tell the exact moment that the pills wore off. I hate medication; the only reason I'll take this one is because it treats cause as much as symptom, relaxing muscles instead of just dulling pain. I used to be able to get away with just one happy pill every other month, as a sort of system reset. Because I never take meds, that little blue pill was so effective. Now I can feel it as the effects wear off and behold, it all comes back.

In case you were wondering, reading back through my back pain tag is one of the more depressing things I do to myself.

There's two things about my back problems which are soul-sucking: the permanence and the progression, in short: it will continue to get worse for the rest of your life. Every now and then it does this, it climbs a little higher, gets a little worse, hurts a little more more often, until it finds a plateau further up the mountain which seems nice and has a good view, and decides to rest there for a while. The climb hurts in an active sense because pain one isn't used to is always the hardest to stomach, and adjusting to the new plateau is effortful: deciding how much of the pain I can tolerate, and figuring out what tools and pills may hold it at that point. And, atop that, knowing that not only am I settling for "how much pain can I tolerate," but that the cycle will continue and I will learn to tolerate more and more, forever—that's almost as hard. It may be as much of what destroys me as the pain itself.

Which is to say, as I think I had a point under all that:

This isn't a climb and plateau in my usual sense because it's almost all been stealth pain, but I think the cycle is repeating once more. I don't like it. I don't like it in a way I have no words for but hyperbole. I'm in an awesome place with an awesome person, and I'm distracted by ... this. This little view into "maybe this isn't just a bad week, hell it's been a lot longer than a week, maybe this is the future." This reminder that that tend to be exactly how it works and guess what, self! there's shit all you can do about it. I'm also a bit restless and grumpy on account of pain doing that to a person, but there's something more, insidious and miserable, my little whisper into a void about something bigger than this moment. I don't want this, I really don't want this, and I know that in a universal sense all of this is so small and I just don't care. I don't want this anymore.

And let's be honest, writing about that doesn't make anyone happy.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
That moment when you strip the bed and start laundry and almost put a book in the wash.

So I'm heading back to San Francisco this weekend, to spend about ten days with Express. I've been having some sleep issues coupled with another spike in back pain (the sort of which I don't really notice until I mention offhand to the boy that "oh, I've been in excruciating pain lately"—and you think stealth pain would be a blessing, but it just means all of the fatigue with none of the ability to treat it and a bonus feeling of utter disconnect with your own body), so I'm going into this with a mantra of "I can't hear you, I can't hear you." It's not that I won't love being there, it's that I'm afraid I'll exhaust myself just by preparing to be there and then I'll be done with the visit the minute I arrive. So I'm not doing an incredibly intelligent advance packing job, or thinking about it overmuch, but I figure I'll try not to forget underwear and this is Express: I know him, I don't need to fuss about any of this.

And it'll be a good visit.

I was down in Corvallis a week ago, and came back to a cat who for a full 24 hours would not leave me: the only time I was not obligated to hold her is when we were both lying in bed. She hasn't quite caught on yet to the fact that I'm leaving again, but she's starting to figure it out (just wait until I pull the suitcases from the closet). It is ... good to be loved. When I first moved up here, it was on a weird "I don't know if I'm visiting or moving!" basis, and while we'd talked about a cat—a cat has been my lifelong dream; of course we did—it wasn't until I actually started signing paperwork a the shelter that it hit home that I had a ... sister/daughter/dependent. I still manage to spend weeks away, in Corvallis, taking the train down to San Francisco; Dee is an angel who doesn't mind feeding a rabid food-beast (and a half: there's Kuzco, too) and otherwise sharing a cat. But I'm tethered, now—not just to a place, although I love it here (but I've lived in and loved so many places over the last few years—those are less permanent), but to a person, a floofy little cat person who climbs on and over my shoulders until I let her bury herself into my lap.

Last time I was headed to San Francisco I wrote a near identical post—hmm. Oh, except then August had just started to sit in my lap—and now I have a semi-permanent fuzzy black lap tumor, guys, you don't even understand. I fell head over heels for this cat in the first moment, but we have become kin now in a way that's easy to take for granted, the way that mostly sounds like "hey August no one cares shut up" and really means "I love you move than anything in the entire world."

The minutiae of a depressive's daily life are pretty boring, even when half her wishes are fulfilled (cat! friendship! city!). I consume too much media and think about food a lot and have problems sleeping and snuggle with my cat: it ain't fascinating stuff. And when I'm in San Francisco I'll consume more media and think about food and have problems sleeping and snuggle with my friend, who is hugely unlike a cat but I guess that's a good thing. Still it's a bit of a revelation, each time: that in the midst of being me, my life can still be this—not always, which is fine: it would exhaust me; but sometimes it's pretty wonderful.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I start my return trip tonight, and it's not that I don't want to leave—I have so much to go back for, and Dee sent me a picture of my ridiculous cat and so now of course I miss her—it's that ... I wish I didn't have to. I have loved ones in my city and in my other city, in the state up and the state down, on the opposite coast and five thousand miles away, and I'm fine with that. It's magic, that we can build friendships in the ether, over distance and time zones, sustain intimate connection for years and never meet face to face. On the train down to San Francisco I sat with a woman many years my senior (she must have mentioned her grandbabies a dozen times) who laughed it away in the best sense: Oh, you kids these days, bless you, and I think you'll have an amazing trip. And I have. There's too much to write about now (as we enter the headless chicken stage of packing and eking out every last shared minute before I leave), but I have. It is as natural to live here for a week as it is to live in any of my other homes, and Express and I together can be as stupid and as poignant in person as we are online.

I want my homes, my Portland, my visits to Corvallis, my ever-ready suitcase. I want VoIP calls and silly IMs. I want to spend a whole day on the train and arrive exhausted, and I even want to leave. I want friends in the wrong time zones, and random people in weird corners of the internet who become friends. I want to live with them, and to never meet them in person.

I do, all the time but right now. Right now, I want to pull all of you in a circle around me, wherever that lands us and whatever it means, and have you close, and make you stay.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengance + Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" + sleep apparently = dreams of seemingly endless violence wherein each figure would be corrupted by some ageless unnamable force, and then be murdered by someone motivated by the corrupt death of a predecessor, soon to be corrupted and murdered themselves as next in the long chain. The visuals were very .flow, orange-red flesh and purplish tentacles, viscera pouring out of pale skin, so consider that an inspiration too. It's hard for me to describe a dream like this because it's by nature boring in concept, a long parade of deathly death death; it's not really upsetting for all that, too used am I to violence in my dreams. But there is a lot of violence in my dreams and this was all of it, over the top and with every special effect, continuing on until even the writhing tentacles seemed trite, inexorable and almost too extreme to shock—but not quite. Awesome. Dear brain: I know this lack of and/or shitty sleep thing is mostly California-related nerves, and as such I forgive you, but you can stop it any time now. I don't think Express will turn out to be a tentacle monster. Thanks.

(It's sort of hilarious how many of my dream posts contain Dear Brain letters. Dear Brain: A bit slow on the uptake, aren't we?)
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
August is becoming a lap cat despite her best intentions. It began because the four o'clock to five o'clock have-you-noticed-me-yet keyboard parade was driving me mad, so instead of picking her up and putting her off the desk, I picked her up and put her in my lap—and she stayed there through the hour. When she came here, August wasn't particularly fond of being picked up. But I suppose there was no chance that I'd forget her, or she'd not notice that I was getting the food, if she was sitting square atop me. There was some tail-twitching, but I didn't hold her in place. She chose to stay. That was some weeks ago, and the same "oh god cat shut up" trick continues to work. This morning I woke up early and she crawled into my lap all on her own, and we watched Star Trek: The Next Generation until breakfast. But now she's just done it again, with her tummy all happy and full, so I'll watch a bit more Trek and come back to this.

Part of it, I know, is that we've entered the season of overcast days and cool nights (thank goodness), and I'm a convenient heat source. Last night when I went to bed, she did a instant turnaround from crazy cat to stealing-the-blankets cat, bless her. Indeed I'm quite content to be used for my body heat; the feather-soft fluff stretched out against my leg right now is reward enough for me. (Her head is in the crook of my knee and her eyes are squished closed, and she's napping.)

But part of it is that my cat loves me. I could swear she missed me when I was in Corvallis—missed me enough that she's been glued to me since I got back, with a watchful awareness even when she's sleeping on the bed because you never know, I may leave again. She loves me, and she's at home here. Of course August was a big pile of fluffy snuggles the very minute she came out of her cat carrier, but this is something more than a cuddly cat. This is trust: learning that it's okay if I pick her up, learning that she can pounce on me when we play, learning that we're both happy if she crawls all over me. She did when I was at the desk the other day, not because she was hungry but because I was there and she looooved me, she loved me, she loved me so much that I ended up feeling like I was breathing furry air but the honest truth is that I can't complain. My initial adoption paperwork was pretty much a personality test for human/cat matchmaking, and the last question—a fill in the blank after a list of checkboxes—asked me: What do you want from you cat? And I wrote: For her to love me (and be happy!). I will have other relationships with other cats, but with my first, with August, I want love and joy, and love, and joy.

Don't tell her (although I'm sure she'll figure it out soon), but I will be leaving again because aaaaaah I'm going to California what was I thinking. I leave on Thursday for my 18-hour train ride, and arrive on Friday. I'll be there for a week, and then do another overnight trip to come home. It's a big enough thing—long journeys, a long stay—that there's plenty of pragmatic detail to consume me. I've been loading up on things to do and ways to help me sleep on the train, and planning schedules for when I clean and what I pack. As a result, some of what would be freefloating nervous energy has a focus—but I'm also quite aware that aaaaaah this is actually happening ohgod.

Express and I are both nervous because we're the socially awkward, bad at hugs sort, and we've been friends for approximately forever, and the combination is terrifying. But there's little moments (me, worried that I won't sleep well on the train and I'll get there and ruin the first day being tired; him, saying "well, if you are super tireds ... we can just just set up bed and you can nap for a bit. if you yawn too much i will nap too :P") that remind me of, well ... trust, I suppose. Love, and trust. This is so surreal and nerve-wracking a thing that I've already had the thought "or I could not go! yes, that would definitely make the planning easier!," and my tail may twitch because this is something strange and new and I good with neither, but—well, I'm not expecting Express to put me in his lap or anything, let's not overextend the metaphor, but—

I dare to eat this peach. I will allow the world to pick me up. It betrays me to admit it, but I expect I'll like it.

Although I will miss my cat.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Yesterday evening I began planning out my calendar as far as the beginning of November. Who am I, and what have I become? I'm a person with a calendar, and substantial plans—because while it's not as full as I would like with local events, it does have entire weeks given over to events like "Jessica in San Francisco." Have I mentioned these plans yet? October 7 through 14 I'll be in San Francisco, meeting Express for the first time. We've been friends for approximately forever (five years, I think) but never met. This is an overnight train journey and a landmark event. That trip is now soon enough that I have to begin preparing for it, which is only mildly terrifying. (Express has been busy with work and I've been distracted with my own issues, or else we'd be at incredibly terrifying by now.) I need a cell phone with a working battery, and a second piece of luggage so that I can haul down half my bedding. The pragmatic minutiae makes it seem much more real.

The kitten has taken to pawing my face when waiting for food. It's the floofiest gentle little poke, and it's adorable, and she still has to wait until six. She also walks on my keyboard, and bites my hand, and cheek-rubs my nose. My kitty is cuter than your kitty, and I don't care whether you have one. When our weather changed overnight, August became the cuddliest of cats, thrilled to see me lay down and happiest at bedtime, all for a chance at warm snuggles. Last night she fell asleep tucked into the crook of my arm and under my blanket, so warm that she stretched from a little round into a longcat, so deep asleep that her paws began to twitch.

I have these moments when I seem to snap out of the reality of my life and see it as if from the outside in; moments when, converse to the distance I find myself with, my life seems so real and it raw that it hurts. I usually find it difficult to see anything at a distance, to comprehend trends or big pictures; recognizing all of that is surreal and terrifying. I do this with Devon. He gets a short shrift, because I so often see only the limitations and sins of the present—but in those moments I can see the entire span of our relationship, and I almost drown in all those years. I find I do this with August, now. She has become a part of my daily life, my black shadow, my pain in the butt, and much of the novelty and constant awareness that I have a cat! has subsided. But then I snap out, step back, and see with painful clarity the fact that my life has changed, and that I love her the way I love the person I love best. I may be complacent about the risk, but I can still drown.

Devon and I have been experimenting with French toast when he visits, ever since he made me breakfast in bed on a whim (my whim: the request for French toast; his whim: to fulfill it, even if I was still sleeping). Two weeks ago, we burnt sugar (the first attempt failed, but the house smelled quite lovely afterward) and topped French toast with caramelized bananas and pecans. The chewy bread, gushy bananas, and crunchy nuts were a fantastic combination, and cooked bananas are so decadent that you want nothing to do with French toast for some days. A few days ago, we made peanut butter stuffed apple French toast (variations from recipe: Italian bread, thinner cut, so that the finished product wasn't quite so overwhelming; future variations from recipe: thicker apple slices finished on a higher heat for more body and caramelization). The combination was classic, delightfully salty/sweet, and decadent—I'm sold on stuffed French toast, now. Future experiments will include pumpkin French toast (as in, with pumpkin bread—and potentially stuffed with cream cheese), and peanut butter/banana stuffed French toast. Anyone with any other ideas, I would love to have them. If you're hungry now, I'm sorry. So am I.

On the other hand, the first thing I saw this morning was Netflix's circumspect Qwikster announcement, via an email from Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix, which began, "Dear Jessica, I messed up. I owe you an explanation." Putting aside the incredible stupidity of this move (and the name—Quikster, seriously?) to focus on the wildly inappropriate tone of the email: It turns out there are few things as triggering to my sleep-addled brain as the combination of Reed* and a personal, conciliatory tone. I wasn't sure if it was more insurance application information or just another college nightmare, but whatever it was my brain hated it so thanks for that, Netflix. (Yes, insurance applications are still unfinished. Yes, I am grateful for the comments and support. No, I have no spoons to discuss it.)

No rhyme or reason to any of this, I guess. Above insurance business combined with a short visit with Devon and no visit with Lyz et al. (this is not passive aggression! I totally understand. I can still be bummed, though) means that I'm still a little out of it, halfway escapist, somewhat quiet and distracted. On the other hand there is an essential rightness all around me—gray skies, a bed that smells of Boomslang, a floofy cat. It always surprises me when I find more to say about that latter, about the good—and that, I think, is reason enough to say it.

* Reed College was my second college, and I loved it there but also dropped out of school there because of my mental health; I continue to have college nightmares and phobias to this day, four years later.


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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