juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
This is just a quick entry to say that Alfie died a few hours ago. The pigs have been back in Corvallis while I've been staying here, so I wasn't there with him, but Devon and Devon's family—his father in particular—were, so he wasn't alone. Whatever killed him was pretty quick onset—he was fine earlier today, but in the afternoon/evening started showing some signs of lethargy, disinterest in food, and a drop in body temperature. They got in touch with me to figure out what should be done, and at midnight Devon was planning to take Alfie in to the vet when they opened tomorrow; a few minutes later I got a call saying that he had died. This could be possible heart failure; he had no other URI symptoms, but really, it could have been anything. These things can happen so fast.

Devon is coming up tomorrow with Kuzco, who is thus far 100% fine, chipper and stuffing his face full of carrot and otherwise healthy. (Prior to this they were eating the same food and sharing a divided enclosure.) He'll live in the travel/quarantine cage with me for a bit while we figure out where I'll be and he'll be, &c. Right now I just really need to see my pig. Devon will probably also bring Alfie's body, because I think that seeing it may be the only thing which makes this real for me. I imagine he'll be buried in Corvallis with Dink, though.

This isn't to say that I haven't been a sobbing shaking mess. I have. I also have Dee here with me (staying up until 2a to watch a comfort movie, and otherwise being so beautiful and sympathetic and full of hugs) and I'll see Devon tomorrow. I've just exhausted myself for the evening, that's all. My plan now is to sleep for as long as humanly possible and fill the rest of the time with movies, and to throughly take advantage of whatever degree of disassociation this is. As I've said before I have a poor concept of death, but I think I understand this one better in lieu of Dink's not-too-distant passing. It's all unreal and heartbreaking and, unless I indicate otherwise, I don't really want to talk about it online right now. (Condolences are welcome; questions less so.) But I feel like it needs to be recorded and so, here: it is.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
There will be a day, one day, when I am able to go into the kitchen without passing four teenagers listening to music very loudly in the air freshener-scented living room.

That day is not today.

(The housguest may be leaving as early as this week, but we won't know for sure until the potential day before. If he does, the teenagers will go back into Boy's brother's room—which at least contains the perfumey smell and some of the noise, which is a small blessing. With the houseguest gone the hallway will probably stop smelling like three smokers are living here (and he may even be smoking in his room, I don't know for sure), which will also be a blessing. But that all hangs on a big "if" and right now I just want to be able to go and get carrots in piece, goddamnit. Or shower, without passing half a dozen people in my bathrobe. Or pee and brush my teeth, without waiting an hour for the bathroom to be vacant. This has gotten ridiculous.)
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Sometimes I think I could blog about just the weather. That's ridiculous, of course—I go for days without seeing the world outside, hermit that I am. But when I'm out like this, sitting before wide windows, I'm in constant awe of our weather. It rains for the majority of the year around here, and I imagine you have to be someone like me to think that beautiful—but the constant rain isn't boring, it isn't dull. Every moment is unique. Right now we have sunshowers—a silver cloudhaze, but the bright sun beginning to burn through; the light shining through clear, clean air; a heavy sprinkle, a light rain, pinging on the sodden brick sidewalk. The foxes are preparing for their wedding, and the air is sweet.

The sun just broke through, and the rain has slowed to the rare drop.

Give it five minutes, and it'll be something entirely different.

I am doing well today! I have some minor, lingering congestion, so mild that I'd doubt I'd notice anything outstanding if it hadn't been preceded by a fever. My throat is slightly sore, and my lymph nodes swollen. This is the best cold I've ever had, insofar as there is such a thing. (On a surreal note, Express, far away in California, reports a sore throat and fever. This I can't explain even with a long incubation period—we've never even met in person! So ... yeah. At this point I'm thinking nationwide conspiracy, what about you?)

On the flip side, we have Company. Boy's father's friend is staying at the house following a motorcycle accident and preceding knee surgery. I am sure that he is a wonderful person, but the house is small and full enough as it is; right now, he's staying in boy's brother's room, boy's brother and his girlthing have been pushed to the living room, and the house is packed. Worse still, boy's computer is currently in pieces, so the room is a mess, there's little ambient noise, and I have few distractions. In a word, I am miserable: stuck in a tiny back room, hearing every goddamned sound of the constant noise in the rest of the house, with little to help me pretend I am the only person there.

Is this the selfish response to someone else's health emergency? Yes, yes it is. I have no excuses for that.

But there you go. I'm in batten-down-the-hatches emergency mode, desperately trying to stay distracted, often failing horribly. I have little social energy, because I am overwhelmed and scared. I am taking every chance to get out of the house that I can get. Starbucks today is a blessing, even if there are approximately a million college students here.

Clear golden sunlight, now; the sidewalk is drying, and the puddles in the street shine.

Today I am wearing a runched, burnt orange shirt and an unabashedly fluffy cream scarf; my hair is down and slightly waved and everywhere, and an amber necklace peaks from my neckline. It's weird, to have another day when I feel lovely, but this is perfect timing for it, in the pale yellow sunlight, when everything else is so appropriately bitter and sweet.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Because life is nothing if not ever ironic, I followed up yesterday's journey towards self-actualization post by having a wretched afternoon followed by a sobbing breakdown. I don't even know what to tell you.

Well, that's not quite true. I have lots to tell. For one thing, I understate the frustration which comes with steps forward: each one shows me how long the path is, and it is so long, and that's intimidating and wretched. I am not good at forward progress (call it the story of my life), and so as good as it feels to take each step it comes with a certain knowledge, even if it's one I'm working to controvert, that I will never get to the destination.

For another, Devon's father is back from Arizona. I won't pretend that I made perfect use of the sometimes-empty house while he was gone, but I made some use and even more important was the ability to do so: it was liberating and calming to know that I could leave the room, make myself meals, and visit the guinea pigs without worrying about sharing my space. Losing that option makes me trapped and stressed and regretful, and it's wearing on me. Is that horribly ungrateful? Of course it is: oh hey, thanks for letting me live here without rent, now will you all shove off and leave me alone? I know how entitled that is. But the fact of the matter is that it still leaves me feeling like shite.

For one more, I used the opportunity to the empty house to spend more time with the guinea pigs; now that the house is full again, my relationship with them is in crisis. This is not something I talk about: as honest as I am about my laundry list of illnesses, I find it difficult and shaming to talk about the concrete effects that they have on me and my loved ones. But the fact of the matters is that I've lately been a shitty caretaker to the pigs lately, because they live in a public space and being in a public space exhausts me (and moving them to a private space is impossible). They've been giving a fraction of the care and attention they deserve; I'm convinced Dink's death may have been avoidable if I had been more involved in their lives at the time. All of this guilt has, with no amount of irony, made it difficult to reconnect with them—it makes seeing them that much more taxing, and I continue to miss and mourn Dink with ... with a passion, with a strength that tears my heart to pieces. It's been a long battle to convince myself that I can love and care for them, even as I am, even without him. And as soon as things started to get to that healthier point, Doug came back. I don't know what I can or should do, and it scares the everloving shit out of me.

On one hand, the sobbing breakdown was wonderful in the way that catharsis can be: it's a violent relief but a relief nonetheless, and I felt ... not better, afterward, but pleasantly hollow and clean. But I know that feeling is deceptive: I may feel better about these issues today, but they will still exist tomorrow—and worse, the fact that I feel better about them makes me less driven to try to find a way to solve them.

If they can be solved at all.

Both sides of this are still true. I am taking steps towards becoming myself—the best me. I am still so far away from that goal that getting there seems impossible.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Devon and Janet are currently driving Doug out to the airport, so that he can fly out to Arizona and spend a couple of intense months prepping RVs for sale. He used to sell RVs for a living, so this is what he's good at; it's a great opportunity for him, high-demand and high-paying, working for a personal friend, but a short-term time investment and all the heavy lifting in the RVs has been done already so that he can finish them without injuring his back (prior back injury being the reason he no longer works in the RV business).

And for me, it means a couple of months of an emptier house. Janet is often out, but most of the time it was Doug and I, always Doug and I, home alone all day. And while I get along with him quite well, having the constant company has been triggering my agoraphobia in a big and always-increasing way, and I've been spending more and more time holed up in the room and never coming out. I like Doug. I will also really, really like having the house more or less to myself for part of the day.

But with a dog and two cats and two guinea pigs, you're never really home alone. In particular, Woof's Person will be gone. I've mentioned before that Woof has separation anxiety, and how much it can suck to be the only one home with her. I won't delude myself: I know that will happen again.

But Woof and I have been pretty close, lately—in a way that I keenly recognize and appreciate. Word is, when I was away for the cruise she was pretty heartbroken, and slept all night outside my door. That does mean that with Doug gone she'll be close to inconsolable, but Woof's love is an intense and precious thing. She went through a lot of homes as a puppy, and suffered some abuse—which is why she is the way she is now: distrustful, and intensely needy. She doesn't take easily to people—she still growls at Navarre's girlfriend, and Dani's been around for months—but she needs people, she needs them so desperately, she just needs them to love her and never stop. When Woof sees me she comes over at a jog and then sits in front of me and waits for me to pet her head. She's mostly deaf and half blind these days (she's an old lady!), so we've established some simple hand gestures so that if she's lying down, I can tell her to stay because I will come to her; she's achy and grumpy in her old age, but she still wants me to touch her all over and makes rumbly moany noises the whole time.

Today, just after everyone drove off, I went to read for a bit in the living room. Woof fell asleep with her head on my thigh; Dude curled up and purred his loud purr to himself on a nearby armchair.

I love cats because I am one, because they are my equals and siblings, because I understand their crazy moods, I understand that they can't be understood, and I know how to give the best scritches. I love dogs because nothing rivals the love a dog gives back: it's a love with weight and warmth, love like a beating heart, and sometimes you have to earn it but once you do it is given over to you without question.

It'll be a good few months.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Seeing this meme on my flist has tempted me to do it—so I will, why not. I don't promise consecutive days, because I'm lazy and because I have that cruise upcoming and all, but to begin...


Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.

That these normally get written to anonymous recipients annoys me—it lends itself too well to passive aggression, and makes for a guessing game on the reader's end: Is that about me? Of course it's not—she doesn't care about me enough to write that. Of course it is! there's plenty of reasons for people to think bad things about me. You know, that sort of thing. So I'll be more explicit.

Amy: I have various types of online relationships. I have passing acquaintances—we share online space and some interests, but we aren't friends. I have casual friends who I care about and learn from, but we aren't bosom buddies—and that's fine. Intimate relationships are effortful, and not every friendship need become one. And I have intimate friends, heart-friends, people I love even if I mostly met, know, and keep in touch with them online. In my eyes you've gone from fellow fangirl to a startlingly intelligent, thoughtful, beautiful person, and it makes me glad to have met you. It also makes me want to know you a little better. I don't mean that in a creepy, demanding way! I value the relationship we have now, as friends but not best friends, and if it stays that way I'd be happy. But if you want to talk more (I exchange letters and emails with a few people, and sometimes use IM), I would welcome it.

Dee: I can't wait to see you. I want to talk Persona! I just started reading one of the books that I brought back from your place. There's plenty of little things that I could say to you—but on Wednesday, I'll have the chance to tell them to you in person. I'm thankful for that. But always, every day, I send my love.

Devon: I tell you that I love you a dozen times a day, but I don't tell you how thankful I am near often enough. But I am. I am so thankful.

Express: I am so proud of you. I don't want to keep saying that, because I don't want to blow things out of proportion or burden them them with praise and expectation or be at all condescending—but I am so proud of you, and so happy for you.

Grandpa: I say it in the most respectful way that I can, but: I really do not want to go on this cruise.

Janet and Doug: There is a bit of a story behind the pendant that you gave me for Christmas. I haven't told it to you because it's a little froofy, if you know what I mean; it has its gaze set somewhere between my navel and the stars, and I doubt that's quite your style. But that's why the gift moved me the way it did. Thank you.

Lyz: I had wanted to tell you that I was nervous about how our meeting went, and hoping that you didn't mind quiet little me—but we've talked since then, and now I'm not worried anymore! It does take a couple of meetings for me to relax, but I look forward to having those meetings with you. Instead, all I have to say now is that I promise to send a holiday gift your way before I head out for the cruise. When you get an unexpected package, chances are it will be from me.

Margeaux: I finally picked up The Secret History. I'm not sure when I'll read it—but it'll happen, sometime. I'll think of you.

Twila: I don't know how quite to communicate with you. You're the only person I know who has hearing problems, and I have such a quiet voice—I have no practice or experience speaking up and speaking clearly. I'm not very good at reaching out, and I probably will never come over on my own. But that you have invited me means the world to me. I do feel "always welcome" in your home. You make me feel loved and wanted. You are delightful. I'm hardly the ideal grandchild-(not)-in-law, but I am blessed to have you as family. Thank you.


Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I just had my birthday dessert with Devon's family, a Trader Joe's Handmade Chocolate Ganache Torte which I am pleased to say was actually pretty good. As we know I prefer my chocolate simple, pure, and dark; I dislike the texture and dilution of cakes, and I'm actually not a fan of ganache (again, I don't like the texture). This torte is chocolate mousse (fairly dense, and stored frozen which only makes it thicker) sandwiched between chocolate cake (low on flour, but not flourless—it's a dense cake without the crumb-texture of most cake) glazed with bittersweet chocolate ganache. It's dense and flavorful, rich chocolate without too much sugar, and the combination of textures makes for a lovely midpoint between creamy and chewy. I would still prefer a simple flourless torte (or chocolate souflé), but for something store-bought this was surprisingly lovely.

I finally instituted an obsession: chocolate tag. It's about time!

I sat down not to write about this, but about something else entirely. I'll get to that post soon. In the meanwhile, a blurb about chocolate. So there we go.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
The other day I came into the kitchen and Janet (Devon's mother) was there cooking. "You surprised me!" she said. "You shouldn't be so quiet. Wait, how can you be so quiet walking on plastic?"

Because there's a plastic sheet over the carpet in the hallways which leads from my bedroom to the living room and kitchen—so that we can use the hallway while we treat the carpet beneath with enzymes.

As I left the kitchen and started back down the hallway, Janet called out from the kitchen, "Madison!" And then came around the corner and saw me standing in the hallway looking confused and said. "Oh, I thought you were Madison. Sorry, you can be in the hallway."

Because we're treating the carpet to try to put an end to the cats using it as a litterbox, and we're afraid they'll try even with the plastic down. Madison is one of the two family cats, a tiny little tabby not much bigger than a kitten. This is Madison. And Janet mistook me for her. I know it's a little thing and it makes me no more a cat but really, it tickled me greatly. There's a certain self-righteous pleasure in thinking—a cat! I sound like one!
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Evil headache demons say, "Arrrrg! Die kitten, die!" But, regretfully, they have not yet managed to kill me.

Ergo, a little bit more posting and picspam—in the hopes that both will distract me from the headache.

Visit Home
I made a visit home today, for Sunday breakfast with my family—a long-time tradition—and to see my sister in one of her few days in town before she heads cross-country for the summer. Breakfast was wonderful, pancakes with whipped cream. But seeing my sister in baseball season means sitting near the TV and reading a book; I'm the only one in the family with no interest in baseball, I'm used to it, but still. Papa and I then took Jamie (the black lab) out for a walk: the source of this headache. Social events, sun, and exercise can be pleasant but they also tap out my resources—and there was much sun.

My mother I can sometimes talk about what I "do"—learn, read, think, create. With my father, we have dual one-way communication. "I read this book and it was interesting because." "That's nice. I test rode this bike and it was interesting because." "That's nice." The responses are authentic but they're not productive, they're not a dialogue. So, instead of talking, we do. We take the dog on a walk. The silence is companionable, and the changing environment offers us a few more ideas for our one-sided but well-intentioned communication. It may sound unfulfilling, but it's not. My father and I are as different as my mother and I are the same: he thinks concretely, I think theoretically; he is content, I am discontent; he balances, I unbalance. And so he balances me, and I find peace in our interactions.

We walked downtown. It was bright, but beautiful, with enough shade that I didn't burn—the headache is the worst of it. We met a huge and handsome golden retriever, walked through a waterfall caused by a misplaced third-story balcony sprinkler, and explored a youth home's vegetable garden. Pity the sun was so bright and overhead—it was poor conditions for taking photos. Nonetheless I did get one:

Photo taken in the vegetable garden. )

My relationship with Devon's family.
I never asked to live with Devon's family—I just lived here his parents moved in, and didn't move out when they came. I love it here, and I get along well with his folks, but I also harbor doubts that they resent me for imposing myself. They have every reason to: I take up space and contribute little.

Devon's mother went to the coast for her first vacation in almost a decade—and came back with trinkets for the boys and a bracelet for me. She knocked softly on my door, so as not to wake me if I was napping; she worried I'd not like it; she was thrilled and talkative when I said it was wonderful. And it is.

Bracelet, worn
Plus one shot of the bracelet close-up. )

I'd mention the maker if I know, but I only know where it was purchased. I will admit: rigid cuff bracelets aren't my style (I have a bony little wrist, so they never lie right) and with seams all along the inner edge the quality isn't spectacular. But as an unexpected and thoughtful gift from a mother-not-in-law? It is fantastic. Coppers and browns delight me, and the woven silver strands are unusual and quite beautiful. I was touched, and shall wear it. Perhaps I shouldn't need reassurance that I'm welcome and wanted, but I am thankful for it when it comes—especially unprompted, especially small, when it feels most sincere.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
When I say that Dude acts like a dog and follows me around the house, what I mean is: (As happened in the hallway not half an hour ago.)

YOURS TRULY: [Emerges from bathroom to find cat, DUDE, in the hallway. Bends down to pet cat. Dog, WOOF, comes down the hallway and asks to be pet.]
BOY'S DAD: [Emerges from master bedroom into hallway; halts, as hallway is now impassable.]
BOY'S DAD: There seems to be a cat.
WOOF, THE DOG: [Hearing BOY'S DAD, runs over towards him.]
YOURS TRULY: Yes. He was waiting for me.
BOY'S DAD: He follows you around?
YOURS TRULY: Yes. I go into the hall, he goes into the hall. I go outside, he goes outside. I go into the bedroom, he goes into the bedroom.
YOURS TRULY: [Stands up, moves towards bedroom to clear the hallway.]
DUDE, THE CAT: [Follows.]
BOY'S DAD: So he does. That's funny, I have a dog that does the same thing.

Which is all the more humorous if you know that 1) Dude and Woof are both black and white, therefore similar in appearance, 2) Dude and Woof don't much get along.

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