juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Went to my first Pride on Sunday, with Dee. I only had the energy for the parade, so we left after that and didn't go to the gathering; I'm not sure how that would have changed my opinion of the event.

It was remarkably more corporate/sponsored that I was expecting, and I was expecting plenty—although I do feel like the front-loaded that stuff, which we appreciated & which made for a better final impression. I am of mixed feelings re: some police marching in uniform, the number of companies on display, about acceptable/sanctioned activism vs. what's valuable to the community & in current political climate—the same conflicted feelings everyone's having lately, I'm sure. There were little things, like the company members with aggressively doctored signs, which helped me find a middle place between fears and ideals.

When I was trying to talk myself into going (leaving the house is hard!), Teja and I made a list of What Would Make Pride Worth It: 1) to belong to a community, 2) to support that community, 3) to actually be a present roommate who goes-with, and/or (in any combination), 4) that feeling I got from the recent St. Johns parade: that Portland itself is tolerably unshitty, as things go, and I am grateful for unshitty things especially now and can stand to be reminded they exist.

(The local Montessori school marched in rainbow flag colors at the St Johns parade and I had a moment of realization that, when I attended Montessori, that's not something my school would have done; we were weird hippy liberals but essentially white liberals, who recycled and biked and misgendered trans* people. But the intent to do better was there; it helped to make me who I am. Times have changed. Portland is not Corvallis. And, in the least, the local Montessori school is doing better.)

2) was distantly, approximately achieved; 3) was bare-minimum achieved, but I guess that's the best we can expect of me; 4) occurred, however complicated by thoughts re: the commercialism of Pride, as above.

1) was difficult, is difficult.

At the MAX station on our trip into town, we talked briefly with a woman going to Pride, a woman that had been active within the community for some 40 years, who told us briefly about her work in the community, and about GLAPN; who asked if this was our first Pride, and welcomed us, and told us we would meet friends there. It was a lovely interaction.

We did not make any friends. Did you know that if you don't talk to people and skip the actual gathering part, you don't make friends? A lot of my pre-event angst came from just being a crazy person, but part of it was that I do want 1) to belong to a community—and I don't. Community means interaction, and I'm barred from that, predominately by the crazy (also by the way I conduct my relationships ... which is influenced by the crazy). It would be easy to tell someone else in my position—and believe it!—that their identity isn't defined by the fact that they appear straight or monogamous or cis, but when all of that is rendered moot (albeit in it a frustrating, unfulfilling way) by circumstance then ... it's hard to feel that, to be convinced by it. (Especially relevant given recent conversations online re: identity politics, queer as a slur, LGBTQIA+/MOGAI acronyms and definitions; consider intersectionality while policing identity, and that mental illness can complicate everything from gender expression to romantic/sexual relationships.) Portland would be a great place to make friends, to socialize literally at all, to engage in this community and in other communities which are important to me. And in six years, I've done none of that.

But at the same time, there were fat shirtless people, hairy people, sagging-bare-breast people, and that outreach—the visual but also unexpectedly literal outreach of it, of bodies I don't normally see, obviously non-conforming people, people in triads, queer couples, was viscerally effective. A lot of the world doesn't feel allowed to me—and maybe that's something I still need to work on, or maybe it'll always be a barrier, I don't know. But the world was there, and it still feels present within me. A sum positive experience, I suppose? I feel fragile in the wake of it, and exhausted (my back absolutely gave up the ghost even on pain killers, and it was 80° and the sun came out halfway through—thank goodness for parasols—so a significant portion of the exhaustion is physical), and despondent; and hopeful.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Title: Affinity
Author: Sarah Waters
Published: Penguin, 2002 (1999)
Rating: 4 of 5
Page Count: 360
Total Page Count: 209,320
Text Number: 637
Read Because: fan of the author, ebook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: When a troubled woman begins volunteer work at her local prison, she meets a captivating spiritualist inmate. Waters's books consistently offer a dramatic, discomforting tension—they're set deep within their historical contexts, dealing with social/gender roles and queer relationships; they're unromanticized, yet evocative and atmospheric. I found Affinity's social tensions (imprisonment, mental health, suicide within gendered/social context) especially unpleasant for personal reasons, but they have strong thematic synergy. But much of the book's tension lies in the authenticity of the supernatural elements, which means most plot developments are shunted into dramatic revelations in the closing act—and, though both logical and foreshadowed, this still betrays the long, slow engagement that is the bulk of the narrative. This is my least favorite Waters novel so far, which is to praise with a faint damning: it's compelling and sympathetic, but didn't strike me in the way that Waters's other novels have.

Title: Throne of Jade (Temeraire Book 2)
Author: Naomi Novik
Narrator: Simon Vance
Published: Books on Tape, 2007 (2006)
Rating: 4 of 5
Page Count: 370
Total Page Count: 209,690
Text Number: 638
Read Because: continuing the series, audiobook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: After discovering that Temeraire is a Celestial, the rarest and most prestigious of Chinese dragon breeds, Laurence and crew must make a political journey to China itself. I love an extended training montage; as such, this second book in the series lack the immediate appeal of the first. Its focus is politics and culture clash, sometimes in petty ways (which suit the historical setting, but still weary), but improving as themes develop and Chinese dragons are explored. The plot is unremarkable, but what I love about this series is the proactive way it engages the companion animal trope, and here it extends both its setting and purview to explore the social role of dragons across two cultures, while maintaining an emotional center in the relationship between Laurence and Temeraire. I may not have loved this as much as the first book, but I remain content with the series so far—it's a satisfying and increasingly thorough take on one of my favorite tropes.

Title: It's All Absolutely Fine
Author and Illustrator: Ruby Elliot
Published: Kansas City: Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2017
Rating: 2 of 5
Page Count: 255
Total Page Count: 209,945
Text Number: 639
Read Because: personal enjoyment, print book borrowed from Dee
A memoir and comic collection by a 20-something woman figuring out how to live life as an adult with mental illness. Chapter divisions give the book structure, but grouping the comics makes most of them feel repetitive while leaving a handful of outliers—themselves quite cute!—to stick out sorely. I feel like the comics would be more successful viewed individually, and my experiencing seeing the author's work online supports this. The text sections are honest and have a distinctive informal and self-deprecatory tone. It's all quite relatable, but I'm not sure who the intended audience is meant to be: not an outsider, as everything hinges on relatability; but the lack of detail or productive payoff make it feel too shallow for a fellow sufferer.

I'll be honest: I am the exact wrong audience for this. I find memoirs of this tone wallowy and vaguely triggering; they evoke all the frustrations of female bodies and mental illness, but don't do anything with that except provide sympathy and platitudes. Readers that benefit from a sense of kinship and loving self-mockery will probably have a far better experience.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Yesterday I woke early (~4 hours of sleep) due to election anxiety, and I played video games all day long in desperate escapism, and it was such a long day, and it only got worse. Nothing sunk in until I woke this morning. The language I keep hearing is "grief" and that is what it feels like—a distant, difficult to access, sincere loss.

Loss of faith, I suppose. I'm politically aware and I voted, but I think I didn't believe Trump was an existing threat; it felt absurd, surreal, a practical joke in particularly bad taste. And I know bigots exist, but I forget the ways in which my privilege and sheltered life and physical location save me from seeing most of them—they too had a distance. And in that space between me and these forces of hate there was a sort of faith, that despite our stellar examples of bad humanity we were not that at our core.

I've been proactively keeping occupied. Last night, after the results, I made baked whole apples (stuffed with oats and brown sugar), escaped into a book, took a sleep aid & passed out. Today I swept downstairs and brushed the dog, and then made superb apple crumble. I winged the recipe, but Dee bought vanilla ice cream and the apples were tender but not mushy and the spices were robust and the topping was rich and toasted—this small and objectively useless but pure good thing. I did everything while listening to podcasts, uninterrupted hours of The Black Tapes and Tanis. And I called home, and talked to my mom—as I told her, not because there was anything she could do, but just for the solidarity and comfort. She spent the day a haircut and manicure, and binge watching a show on Netflix. Tumblr today was a quiet comfort, most people I follow only flooding their feeds with forms of distraction.

It felt like self-care was all that many of us could do today.

Mental illness means that self-care is my entire life; I'm not sure what that will say about what comes next. I'm in a position of limited personal danger, but that's largely because I've absented myself from ... well, everything. (E.g. as an unemployed dependent, I would benefit from national healthcare—but am consistently too sick to seek care. I want the system to benefit other people, but its benefits or lack thereof doesn't effect me—most things don't effect me—I don't pay taxes I don't leave the house I don't, significantly, exist.) It's a weird place of privilege that originates from a disability. I'm terrified for those less privileged and more at risk. I'm not sure I'm in a position to help anyone.

But there was help in what I saw today from the communities I'm invested in. On one hand, this rude awakening, this shame and fear and rage, that the apparently impossible has happened & has always been possible. But on the other, our communal grief and terror, and our communal soothing, matters.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Missy and Devon and I have spent the last few days reading ballots to one another and being stressed by politics, because alongside the terror that is the presidential race it feels like both Oregon and California are a mess—Oregon in particular is saturated with measures with good intentions and poor execution and candidates that have good credentials but circumspect conservative leanings. But we are all three of us now done voting, after much angst and exhaustion; today Dee and I took Odi walking in the rain, and I dropped my ballot at the library and then had celebratory coffee, and all was good.

There were two candidate votes I ultimately skipped and should't've, but only two; I figure that makes me about 80% Contributing Citizen, which is approximately 79.5% higher than my usual; and voting with a panic disorder is hard, and I am grateful that Oregon's voting process is so accessible, and that I don't live in a state with polling stations; and I am so glad to be done.

I love the height of autumn, as a riot of color and crisp new-season apples and the onset of sweater weather, but this may actually be my favorite time of year, sodden leaf-litter and nearly-bare trees, the rain constant but not yet punishing, Odi's fur clumping into wet feathers along the top of his head.

(And the only talk of Christmas that I've heard on social media so far has actually been reminders that the expectation that everyone celebrates Christmas/that Christmas is a universal two-month event is a form of prejudice—and I am grateful for that, and surprised.)
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
A few days ago I put something moderately fragile down on a semi-unstable surface for 2.5 minutes, said to myself, "self, be careful not to let this drop!" and then promptly dropped it and injured the fragile thing, about which I care a lot in a stunning display of this is your spacial reasoning with dyscalculia/this is your memory with brainfog/these are your fine motor skills with anemia and anxiety disorders. I'm pretty clumsy, but this was particularly timed: breaking (not beyond repair, but it's the principle of the thing) a discretionary purchase and treasured object, while anxious about another potential discretionary purchase—a sort of universal sign that probably can I not only afford to buy things, I don't deserve to have them. It sent me into a massive anxiety spiral; three days later, I'm still recovering.

I'm absolutely aware that was a ridiculous overreaction. I'm not surprised that it happened, either, because my financial anxieties have easy triggers and I drop things so often that this particular sequence of events was inevitable. But I don't appreciate the obnoxiously obvious parallel: the things I love are fragile, my mental health is fragile, and I'm fragile, one tiny accident (that someone neurotypical could brush off) away from a meltdown.

That's it, the whole thing; no counter-lesson and only time and patience and Devon being exhaustively over-conscientious have helped; nor am I recording for any particular purpose (to record every time Dumb Thing Happened and I had a breakdown as result would be both exhausting and embarrassing) except that the moral of the story, however obvious it is, was so spot-on that it's been stuck in my head as some sort of life lesson. Perhaps writing it down will make it known and done, and I can be free of it.

Mid-80s warm weather yesterday, and Dee and I went out to dinner and coffee (and then I such headache, very sun, I was probably too strung out for it but I can't turn down Thai and Starbucks); it should be, loosely, the last warm day of the year. Gray and steady rain, today; red leaves on the horizon out my left hand window. I'm transitioning into my autumn media, especially visual media; I'm prepping my winter to read list. Dee made pumpkin muffins which were a little dry for me, but I found that soaked if a 2:1 water:maple syrup for a few minutes and then microwaved in a ramekin for 30secs they become individual dense pumpkin bread puddings, best if topped with cream cheese. There are small blessings.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Last month was my birthday. Dee's family came down just before it (her brother and I share a birthday); her brother stayed a few days and her mother stayed some time longer. I went down to Corvallis in the middle of her mother's visit, to see Devon and go to dinner with my family. When I came back up I housesat for a weekend while Dee drove her mother back up north.

The company was lovely and only a little introvert-taxing. Dee, her mother, and I went down to Powell's for an afternoon and Dee bought me my birthday gift of books: three CJ Cherryh novels (one a reread) and the Steerswoman series that I just finished and loved. I went in with my alphabetized, color-coded* to-buy list and still barely managed to hunt everything down and make purchasing decisions in a reasonable amount of time. I'm used to feeling harried when I go book shopping, but I dream of one day having time to browse.

* colors since updated to reflect Powell's room colors, because it's a useful mnemonic and also pretty

The trip to Corvallis was mostly miserable, and I blame that on myself. Birthdays have become harder and harder, this one especially so, and when I see Devon I always dredge out my worst in some subconscious expectation that he will fix it. I've never matured, never become self-reliant; most of the frustrations in my life exist because I am a dependent, not a contributor—thus the long-distance relationship, living circumstances, material goods both frivolous and essential that I don't have, untreated health issues, &c. It's easier to get away with those things in your twenties, when people assume you just haven't grown up yet. But with each birthday, it's more obvious that I will never grow up; my maturation was halted by mental illness and now all my energy is forever diverted into dealing with the crazy. I'm aware that birthdays are universally fraught, but this one was especially dour.

Devon gave me Nagisa Momoe Nendoroid I've wanted for a while, though. That was good.

Nagisa/Charlotte/Bebe is one of my favorite characters of all time. I love her creepy/cute imagery and the way she changes the tone of PMMM; and while I had arguments with PMMM: Rebellion—and normally dislike mascot-/moe-bait characters—I loved her in the film. It's powerful and narratively-appropriate to turn a witch into a person, and, cutesy and mascoty as it is, I resonate with the cheese thing. I've called her Our Patron Saint of Cheese, and it's not quite in jest: she's an icon for the frustrating longing of what we want and can't have, which is indulgent and foolish but remains legitimate, none the least because it indicates why we can't have it (see: fan theories re: her character). There are a lot of things which would make my life better: if I were self-reliant, if being a dependent were financially viable, if there were societal accommodations for my dependency—all valid wants, so the smaller wants are valid too, even when petty or obsessive or in the form of a cute figure. And I have so many wants, small and large. To have her seems to prove the rule; still, I love her, my idol of wanting, so well-timed to my birthday-related frustrations.

When I saw my parents, they didn't have a gift, they just asked me to provide a wishlist of things I needed or wanted, with a subtext of "we can tell you don't really have the means to look after your basic needs; can we help via a birthday gift?" which is true, thoughtful, and hit too close to home: another reminder of the tie between my longings, my disability, and my age. I still need to write that list.

Anyway. I came back into town, had a quiet weekend housesitting the cats which I absolutely consider an auxiliary birthday gift. And then I was hit by a week of debilitating back pain, which (knock on wood) has since passed and which had no trigger, cause, aid, anything really; it was out of the blue and unrelenting. And as soon as that began to clear, my keyboard blew up. It did a low-key, static "acts like you spilled water on it" crosswiring, but no water had been in its vicinity for a year so fuck if I know; I unplugged it, made do to a shitty wifi keyboard; got fed up with shitty wifi keyboard, plugged my old one back in, and it worked perfectly again in a sort of universe-provided bit of gaslighting, "none of your frustrations or problems are real, ahahahahaha"—and then 24 hours after that it broke again in precisely the way it had before. I don't know. A new keyboard is here now, because unexpected necessary purchases don't trigger aforementioned anxieties at all, my old keyboard is probably possessed by capricious minor demons, and the answer of "how do I keep breaking keyboards when I've become so careful with them?" is probably: cats, who are less careful, and covered in fur and litterbox dust.

I've been reading a lot, gaming a lot, caught up with Critical Role which is, in itself, vaguely terrifying because it was such a long, immersive journey to get here; I am fervently not in my own head, because the only way to cope with the anxiety "I am not a real adult who can engage with life" is to refuse to engage with anything. I have my Bebe figure and I adore her. Everything else has been sort of shit, for reasons which stem from me, my vulnerability and inability and this persistent longing for a life different from my own, but, again: these reasons are real.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Vet visit for Dare yesterday. She had a worm a few months ago, probably the result of a flea tracked in by Odi (although there were no other signs of fleas in the house). She was dewormed and everyone was flea treated. But the hair loss on her spine persisted, and then she developed bald patches on the back of her legs. Because the hair loss is the result of barbering, she's overgrooming in easy to reach places and the skin itself is healthy (all signs that the trigger isn't physiological), and she's a high-strung, high energy cat, the vet suspects what we suspected: she began over-grooming when she had the worm, but now it's just a habit and preoccupation.

We're putting her on Zylkene, a bovine-sourced hydrolyzed milk protein which treats anxiety, isn't prescription, and doesn't interact with any food or medication. Prescription mood medication is always a possibility, but the vet wanted to start with the safest, easiest option, especially since she doesn't have any signs of stress. She's just a tightly-wound cat keeping herself occupied in her downtime. The vet was appropriately skeptical of magic milk protein, but gave us some studies as well as anecdotal evidence to back it up.

Bad habits aside, Dare is in perfect health and behaved great in a "blind cat, vaguely terrified" way. Because she has a possibly-congenital defect, it's particularly comforting to know she's in good health and this issue is probably unrelated.

This being vet visit approx. 23482942 for our menagerie, we continue to have superb experiences with North Portland Veterinary Hospital. I love them so much.

Vet visits with a blind cat are can be hit-and-miss on an interpersonal level, as some vets are prone to inspiration porn; this one, refreshingly, wasn't. She took us at our word when we talked about Dare's abilities and limitations, and never ever used the word inspiring. (Dare has developed a lot of skills to help her work around her disability! There's some surprising things she can do, and some things she does better than other cats, because she has to. It's really neat to see. There's also some things she can't do. And she's not a human being, and her disability and coping mechanisms aren't equivalent to human experience. Those things are obvious to me, but we still get vets who tell us about how animals are so much more adaptable than people and are such inspirations etc. and it's gross.)

This vet was also lovely in an ego-patting way—so relieved to learn that not just the blind cat but all the cats are indoor-only, complimenting us for intentionally taking in "lemon"/defective cats, pleasantly surprised when I asked for a spare soft e-collar (to use if Dare's over-grooming becomes skin-damaging) because no one had ever asked for one in advance before, impressed by preventative measures we take re: her open eye socket, generally telling us that this particular special-needs cat had the perfect care and home. We put effort into being good pet owners, and it's just about my only productive contribution to the universe, so an authority confirming that we're doing good is flattering and rewarding. There were just good feels all around; now we wait and see how the magic cow powder works.

When we came home, everyone sniffed the carrier a lot and August sat in it for a while because of course.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Title: Rose Daughter
Author: Robin McKinley
Published: New York: Ace, 1998 (1997)
Rating: 4 of 5
Page Count: 290
Total Page Count: 189,550
Text Number: 555
Read Because: reread, borrowed from Dee
Review: A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, about three lively sisters and a cottage covered in roses. Once upon a time, this was one of the first McKinley novels I read—and, after Deerskin, it felt insubstantial. But I've read more McKinley since, and come to appreciate her breadth of style. This was much better upon reread, cozy and charming and enchanting; the haunted atmosphere of the Beast's castle is particularly well done. McKinley has knack for finding definitive moments, and Beauty's monologues, as she gives herself voice and carves her own experience out of her fairytale setting, are the unequivocal highlight of the book. The ending is half that: beautiful, intimate, character-driven; but it's also half talky, confusing, and largely divorced from the core plot and characters, which sours things. This isn't my favorite of McKinley's retellings (that would be Spindle's End)—I see too many flaws in it, and its messages lack personal appeal. But it's lovely comfort reading, as McKinley often is, and I recommend it.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Title: Wolf in White Van
Author: John Darnielle
Published: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 200
Total Page Count: 180,290
Text Number: 530
Read Because: recommended by and borrowed from [personal profile] century_eyes
Review: As a teenager, Sean was hospitalized and left profoundly disfigured; to cope, he absorbed himself in the creation of a post-apocalyptic text-based game, Trace Italian. Wolf in White Van is a novel about internal and external narratives: the stories we take in, the stories we put out, as tools for self-creation and self-expression, especially but not uniquely as it relates to trauma. It has a vaguely inverted narrative, working backwards from Sean's adult life to his teenage injury. That's a lot going on for a fairly short book, and it works as often as not. The timeline can be difficult to keep straight, and the contrived narrative as often feels coy as compelling (in particular, I'm not happy that mental health issues are a "reveal"); Sean's voice is distant and cerebral, denying reader investment. But Trace Italian is fascinating, and functions well as a larger metaphor; thematically, the book coalesces. This is an absorbing effort, one which is ultimately successful but which I can't say I particularly enjoyed or recommend.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
When I woke up today (Saturday), as the weekend had rolled around and Devon had a break from homework and we could finally do anniversary-celebratory-things, I checked my email to find a message from Dee that began, "So I don't want to alarm you, and so far she seems to be okay, but I had to take August in to the vet this morning." Cut for some discussion of pet health and digestive issues: Read more... ) The vet thinks this is probably something that resolve itself, although the battery of tests can only help.

Obviously, Devon drove me back up this afternoon. My being here isn't essential but it is productive, if only because August is a one-person cat; having me back and restoring her status quo may help normalize her diet, and it will be less stressful if I'm the one pilling her. When I got back I lay down and pulled her to my chest and she pressed me back into the world and purred with me until we were both calm.

It's all terrifying, especially after losing Mamakitty last year (her decline began with eating issues, and we've been hypersensitive to our cat's food intake since then) and with the recent unexpected death of Casey, which is in all ways entirely unrelated but still has me paranoid. (Further bad timing: I was going to stop by and see my family and our old dog Jamie this weekend, and tell her I loved her and not to die; I should email them and ask them to pass on my message in my stead.)

But terrifying mostly because August is my heart and life and soul, and her wellbeing is the only thing in this universe in which I am truly invested and for which I feel responsible. I'm thankful beyond words that Dee was there, to deal with the pet-sitter's nightmare and make all the right decisions, and know me and my daughtersistercat so intimately that she could do exactly what I would have done.

I am okay because I have to be, because my anxiety can only disrupt August and contribute to her health issues; and because I have her with me. This is the only realm of my life in which I can do this: experience stress without falling to pieces, because someone else depends on my being whole. My heart my life my soul; the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
A week ago: While sitting up in bed, I threw out my upper back. How? with magic? a perverse force of will?? My trapezius on both sides were just gone, goodbye; everything hurt, but the worst offenders were sleep and the computer. I have a huge pain tolerance and endless experience with back pain, but it resisted every one of my treatments. (In retrospect, I should have iced it—the one thing I never do for my lower back, because it causes cramping.) What is it about a different pain that's somehow worse than chronic pain, not so much because it is worse or even more debilitating, but because these carefully honed coping mechanisms are now inapplicable. I've been dealing with my lower back for 15 years; I should either be exempt from other pain, or equipped to deal with anything. I was not. It went about 4 days without improvement, but is now back to normal anxious-person's-muscles level of ow.

A few days ago: Dee's mother's dog, Casey, died suddenly. Cut for brief discussion of pet death: Read more... ) This is not my immediate pain, but I still care immensely. All dogs are good dogs, but he was such a good dog, surfeit with love, content if he could just lean on you or lay against you and be touched. And so obedient, especially when I knew him and his puppyhood awful (of which I've heard horror stories!) was gone. And so engaged with his people. The loss hasn't quite registered for me, yet; but I've never been so glad that I had Thanksgiving with him and Odi. This was Casey: one, two, three, four.

Last night: Dreamed the mother of all anxiety dreams: I was back in school, living simultaneously-via-dream-logic at Devon's parents's house and in a boarding environment, and became convinced that the environment was so unhealthy and I was so stressed that I shouldn't have pets anymore, so I drowned August by luring her into a swiftly-flowing river with treats. Cut for suicidal ideation: Read more... ) I know what factors underlay all aspects of this dream; it was still singularly awful.

Tomorrow: Taking the train down to see Devon, to celebrate our 13th anniversary. (See: dreaming about his parents's house.) This is absolutely a good thing! It also bring with it "I have to leave the house" anxiety and "why do I have to travel to see him after thirteen years?" anxiety. It has been a long and strange week, an unearthly haze of blurred vision and intense pain and abstracted loss and anxiety. It will be good to make a clean break with it by traveling.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Most nights, I keep the blanket that August sleeps on right beside my pillow at the head of the bed. In the morning when I wake up, she's right there: her fur looks like crushed velvet, all mussy and soft and every which way; she's quiet, dazed with sleep. She doesn't look like that, act like that, after her long daytime nap—only in the mornings.

Today when I got up, Dee was about to take Odi out for a walk; I went with her and we made a trip out to the nearby farm stand/food cart pod. As we walked down, there was a light rain; as soon as we got there and got under cover, it started pouring. We got drinks—I can't drink Starbucks mochas anymore, they're too sweet for my tastes, but this had less sugar and it was lovely. We had them by the covered fire pit that made our clothes smell of smoke. When he gets wet, Odi's fur makes little raven-feather clumps; when the rain broke and sunlight hit him, by the heat of the fire, his fur let off gentle steam. The food cart next to us was one we'd never noticed before, Greek; we ordered from there and while we were waiting on it we bought fruit, including this-season Braeburn apples. When we walked back with our food, the sun lit fiery autumn foliage against a slate sky.

As Tumblr threatens but fails to make an exodus to anywhere-but-here/maybe DW and LJ, I think about how I still have a journal, still use it—but when I think of recording my daily life, I don't see a point: not for lack of audience, but because not much has happened in the last [period of time] that I'd want to remember. That's not entirely negative—my sister is doing well, and over most of her hurdles; my mental health is better than it was this time last year; things right now are a monotonous not-awful. But in my media blogging over on Tumblr, I notice how much I prioritize fictional stories—even when mine isn't awful, it's richer and easier to live elsewhere.

But today was different. Today seems worth recording. It's autumn, and comfortably cool, and beautiful, and this was a lovely day spent in it.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Hello, internet! We have a new cat.

It's been long enough since Mama's passing that it finally feels like the right time. Dee's been watching the humane society's website for cats with special needs but affordable upkeep, and when Daredevil showed up see seemed like a good fit. She's blind due to a congenital defect, but well-adjusted, outgoing, and highly affectionate. She's also so teeny-tiny.

Medical details and her history. )

She came to us at two years old-ish and 6.5 pounds which, if you were counting, is super teeny omg. She's nearly half August's size. She makes tiny-man Gilly look big. She's a short-haired tortoiseshell.

Dare takes a little bit of time to adjust to new spaces and stimuli, but is proactively engaged with her environment; she's bright and observant, and has already conquered the bathroom and is eager to get out to the rest of the house. Disability isn't inspiration porn, even in cats, but the degree to which this cat is engaged with her environment is amazing. She tracks sound so well it seems like she's making eye contact with what she's "looking" at; she's a great example of how much cats use their whiskers to explore and navigate their environment. Being blind from birth probably helps, since she's unaware of what she's missing; it probably also helps that she's bold and friendly. She's refined the tools she has to engage with her environment, and damn but does she use them. She makes my cats look like lazy slackers.

She has a teeny little meow, and is moderately vocal (a good bit of meowing for attention, but so far no yowling for the pure pleasure of making atrocious noises), purrs persistently, and kneeds a lot—that last is winding down a touch as she gets a little less frantic for human interaction, but I'll still be maintaining the hell out of her claw trimmings. She's quite playful, and absolutely able to bat and chase cat toys. It will be interesting to see how her behaviors change as she adapts to living her and to plenty of human interaction—Gillian, for example, was very needy when he first came here and now is happy to take his humans for granted.

And she is so wildly different from Mama that there's no hidden regret or sense of betrayal. Dare is her own unique cat, not a replacement.

Juu, who cares, show us pictures.

(From the humane society's adoption page.)

(Taken by me, on her first day home.)

(Taken by Dee.)

(Taken by Dee.)

I do dumb liveblogging/picspamming on my tumblr (cat tag) these days, just fyi.
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
Title: A Rope of Thorns (Hexslinger Book 2)
Author: Gemma Files
Published: Toronto: ChiZine Publications, 2001
Rating: 4 of 5
Page Count: 328
Total Page Count: 155,453
Text Number: 454
Read Because: continuing the series, borrowed from [personal profile] century_eyes
Review: As Rook builds Hex City, the first established gathering of magicians, newly-awakened Chess sets out for revenge—but he doesn't journey alone. A Rope of Thorns is a right mess, but that's not a bad thing. It (re)introduces character and settings, cluttering up the stage; it has numerous metamorphoses and developments; the end stacks on itself in layers of aborted climaxes, messy and labyrinthine. But while it could use some paring down (the ending, in particular), I would expect nothing less. I'm reminded of Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths: the plot occasionally gets in its own way, but its chaos and scale fit the context; meanwhile, the story's core is its cast and their messy interpersonal dramas and character growth. It's writing that sits in the gut and heart more than the head. Chess's developments aren't subtle but they are compelling, and the new characters are great. The first volume was more successful, but I remain pleased with this series and look forward to seeing it through to the end.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Dee and I have a tradition when a pet dies—we go to the humane society. We do it because we have the bodies cremated there, and/or because we have their materials to donate, which helps clear out bad memories and supports a good cause, but we stay to look at the animals.

I don't want to hear other people's pet stories when I've just lost my own, but I want to know that there are pets out there, cared for, loved, and soon to find the perfect home. Oregon Humane Society's save rate is 98% (and both Odi and Loki came from OHS), so it has a sense of willful goodness.

This time, we met Bartholomeow Winchester, a big old mancat—literally: 10 pounds, 13 years, a longhaired tuxedo with the yellow chin and no-fucks-given attitude of old age who was aggressively affectionate. Someone adopted him that day.

We saw Ash, who was already on hold: an 8 month medium-hair blue of this most distinctive color: not a velvety frosted blue, but a silky coat like August's in a remarkable shade of deep, saturated gray. I've made it my life's goal to only have black cats, but I think I've decided that certain varieties of black and white count—like Gilly's white flecks, like handsome tuxedo mancats, and like breathtaking deep blues. I discovered that Ash looks precisely like (although is probably not) a Nebelung—a cat breed "best defined as semi-long haired Russian Blue." I want one keenly.

The last weeks have been devastating. Mama was a remarkable cat, and Dee and I very much shared her—all we've ever wanted for her was the absolute best that we could give, and coming to terms with what that meant has been heartbreaking. But there's no regret. No regret in knowing her, or caring for her; browsing futurepets is a reminder of that: that all they really are is wonderful.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Warning for discussion of pet health issues.

Mamakitty's always had a complex relationship with food, but her eating slowed to a near stop a few days ago, so we took her into the vet; she has a pretty sick liver. We had to make some weighty choices (between euthanasia, attempting at-home care with little probable success, and opting for expensive, effortful longterm care), and decided to pursue treatment, which meant an overnight vet stay for fluids followed by anesthesia & feeding tube insertion, and the beginning of a number of months of regular medication and feeding times.

She did totally fine at the vet, came home groggy, is still very tired, but is doing fine with the tube and feeding. Her chance for recovery goes up every day we get food into her, and without treatment she probably would have died.

I'm not taking pictures of the bandaged, exhausted kitty, because she has enough stressors right now. This is healthy, gorgeous Mama:

This comes on the heels of—god, I can't even say; I've been in a depressive episode for 6+ months, my sister is very ill, my extended family is fairly ill; I am so far beyond exhaustion that I can no longer describe it. But this is a miracle cat and we are doing right by her, with no regrets. I figure we changed her life once already, when we took her in. We can try our damnedest to do it again.

Good thoughts are welcome. Advice is 10000% absolutely not welcome unless you have dealt with this exact thing (liver issues in cats and/or cats with feeding tubes) before.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Late but existant holiday gift list, for my future reference:

Mother: A red-toned glass snail by Alcyon Lord; my mother has a few of this artist's pieces, some from me, but this is one of my favorites—and she liked it.
Father: Two Hanayama cast metal puzzles, also well received; because these are solid metal, they can't be bent or cheated—they look nice and are impressively difficult.
Sister: Bananagrams—in Italian! which she studied for a number of years and has a job translating from.
Devon: A Cougar 700m gaming mouse to replace his gaming mouse that died earlier this year and the pathetic wimpy one he'd been using in the interim.
Dee: Resident Evil Revoluations (Playstation port), since she's been (re)playing the series after getting RE6, and Dev played/I watched Revelations and rather liked it.

Parents: A pair of socks, a bunch of chocolate*, a selection of hot sauces and olives, a Moleskine, and money for eventual clothes shopping.
Father/Grandfather, paternal: my great grandfather's Siddur (Jewish prayer book)
Grandmother, maternal: Money for the eventual clothing fund.
Sister: Two knit sweaters, one black and one white, and one black waist-length peacoat, all of which fit and look fantastic.
Devon, Hanukkah: a Windows cell phone to use as a PDA/mp3 player; I'm not putting my SIM card in it (phone calls, including spam, trigger panic attacks) but it's been fantastic as a calendar/mobile browser/music device; I'm surprised how much I love it.
Devon, Christmas: We're still figuring this out.
Devon's family: 3 pairs of socks, one of which I'll certainly wear to death; jellybeans again, sigh.
Dee: Chocolate, and a delicate copper necklace with a small heart and a teeny little spoon. This is the second time someone has given me a spoon as a gift (the other one wasn't wearable, though) and it is actually the most perfect thing.

* Chocolate haul: chocolate orange, Trader Joe's single origin palette, Vosages Black Salt Caramel Bar, Pasca 85% Dark Chocolate, the last of which is certainly the best. This list is not redundant nor overkill; right now I'm at a point where the only way I can remember and force myself to eat is because after the meal there will be chocolate—it's one of the only things I can still enjoy, and having a lot of it is lifesaving.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Title: Hannibal (Hannibal Lecter Book 3)
Author: Thomas Harris
Published: New York: Dell, 2000 (1999)
Rating: 4 of 5
Page Count: 544
Total Page Count: 148,457
Text Number: 436
Read Because: fan of the television adaptation, borrowed from [personal profile] century_eyes
Review: Seven years after The Silence of the Lambs, infamous serial killer Hannibal Lecter is still at large and Clarice Starling is pulled back into pursuit of him by one of his victim's quest for revenge. Despite Harris's practiced pacing and readability, Hannibal is half a dozen concepts unevenly knit together and the conclusion in particular is rushed. Where the novel deviates from its film adaptation is telling—Hannibal here is more sympathetic than antagonistic, but never without danger; his increasingly complex relationship with Clarice lapses into predictability but is greatly intriguing and has the markings both of Harris's dogged psychological focus and his need to entertain an audience. To spend so much time with Hannibal is frankly indulgent; the book is an imperfect effort but a ballsy one, morally circumspect and frequently compelling, with an unrepentantly flamboyant climax; it's not awfully refined but it is utterly enjoyable, and highly reminiscent of NBC Hannibal.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Things what happened recently:

August went in for her dental surgery, had four top molars removed, and recovered with no issues. She went back to eating just fine. I still need to tackle the issue of how to brush a cat's teeth, but the immediate problem was resolved.

Dee and I went to see The National on a rainy evening in September. It bucketed rain during most of the opening band Frightened Rabbit but the temperature was fairly mild, so we just got soaked and dealt with it, and were mostly dry by the end of the show. Neither is a band I listen to on my own, but the live show atmosphere (and the other attendants determined to enjoy themselves despite the weather) was phenomenal; a very Oregon evening.

My mother's father died on September 29th; I opted not to attend the service in mid-November. I'm okay! Death doesn't have a profound impact on me; I'm mostly concerned for my mother and sister, but my grandfather was able to talk with my mother while still lucid the day before he passed; he'd been having health issues for some time, so this was not unexpected and did bring him peace. I know that traveling down for the service would make me miserable, and that's not how I want to remember him. This feels like one of the first times that someone asked me what I wanted to do, and I responded with my own desires and best interest, not with the answer that was expected of me; as such, I'm entirely content in my decision not to go.

Dee got a kitten! Here be the beastie; I will start taking more pictures of her probably when she moves into Dee's room (she's currently living in the downstairs bathroom, which is a bit small and lonely). Her name is Loki, she's tiny and young, purrs super loud and is full of energy. I'm not actually much of a kitten person which is why I only ever wanted to adopt grown cats, but a kitten to which I have frequent access is a fantastic pleasure.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Following a seizure or heart attack or similar cataclysmic event that left him physically impaired, Dee had Spike euthanized on March 23rd. He was two months shy of 19 years old. More. )

Mamakitty reached her two month quarantine mark, had negative results on her second round of viral tests, and has joined the household! It only took about one day of supervised cat socialization before I felt comfortable letting everyone have free access to the entire house and each other. Mama is settling in beautifully. The only roadbumps are ones I expected: when Gillian is annoyed or feisty, he tries to take it out by chasing other cats; Mama is a little skittish and uncertain around Gillian and August, and remains easily startled by sudden sound or movement.

But while there is no cat cuddling, neither have there been scuffles; at most, there's bit of hissing. Mama has learned to get excited for foodtime (sometimes she even meows!); she eats and sleeps in Dee's room. She's turned out to be surprisingly playful—perhaps because play is still so novel, she's even more active than Gillian. She's sweet and cuddly, and learning that she doesn't need to jump off the windowsill or bed and go hide whenever someone enters the room. In short, she's learning to enjoy the freedom of the house and growing comfortable with it, and us, and the other cats—and what it means to be an indoor cat who has safe places and soft warm places and people who have love and toys and treats. She is still timidly exploring downstairs, and still adjusting, but both Dee and I are delighted to see how well she's doing. She retains the markers of a cat that was outdoors and unsafe for many years, but this is a good home for her and we all know it.

I've been feeling a little strange, lately; I'm not sure if it's back pain or depression, or both or neither, or just a minor strangeness I'm wallowing in, but I've mostly just been staying in and playing too much TERA and reading a lot. I don't feel awful about it. If I disappear from the universe for a few days it's not the end of the world (and not really that different from any other day).


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

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