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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Archive for October, 2012

The return of NaNoWriMo

That’s right, it’s time again for thirty days of literary insanity!  This year’s project will be titled “Ferry Tales” and it will follow The Redhead through her regular ferry commute between Bremerton and Seattle.  Quite a reach, don’t you think?  😉

One of the things I’ve decided to try this year is that I’m not going to name any of my characters.  The protagonist is The Redhead.  On her morning commute she sits near Woman With a Million Stories and the Voyeuristic Grandmother who eggs her on.  She will get hit on at some point by a Tall Biker With a Mustache.  You get the idea!

Hopefully by removing my need to invent backstories and names the action will flow a little better.  And since most of my characters like to sit on their rumps and talk too much rather than getting things done (gee I can’t see why they would!) this tactic might play to my strengths as a writer and make the month easier to get through.  I hope.

So forgive me if I don’t post much (or at all) for the next month.  I’ll probably be so tired of writing that I start getting the urge to throw Ubu across the room.  Or not…  But maybe!  At any rate, the third try is supposed to be the charm, and I’m hoping to win again this year.  Wish me luck; we start in about two hours and fifteen minutes!

WOWI

No really, I’m thinking wowie that really sucked!

The WOWI aka World of Work Inventory is one of the hoops I have to jump through to get into the apprenticeship program I’m pursuing.  I took it at 3 in the morning because that’s when I remembered that I had to get it done.  I don’t think taking it in the middle of the night made a difference, it was going to be silly and frustrating whenever I did it.  And I’m a night owl.

Generally I do pretty well on these things; my interests are broad so I kind of come out all over, but that’s how I am in life so I guess if nothing else at least it’s accurate.  But there’s always one section that hangs me up, and I forgot about it until I got most of the way through the WOWI and this section slapped me in the face.

Abstractions.  That section where they give you four frames, or three numbers, or a few words, and you’re supposed to guess which one comes next in the pattern.  Some are easy – if they give you the letters  B   F   J  and the options are K, N, Q, or Z, it’s pretty easy.  Each of those letters are evenly spaced, so N is the next one in the pattern.  But what happens when they give you three words that start with the letter g, with four, five, and eight letters respectively?  Or what if they show four boxes with a clear pattern emerging, but the next step in the pattern isn’t reflected in any of the possible answer?

I can find all kinds of patterns in the string, I just can’t ever seem to find the one they want!  Well, that isn’t true.  I generally get about half of them right.  But when I get them wrong, MAN do I get them wrong!  As in, totally clueless, unable to even orient myself in the right direction, can’t-reason-my-way-out-of-a-paper-bag lost.

These things make me feel really stupid.  I get that feeling that the answer is staring me right in the face, and I’m too dumb to get it.  *grr*  I don’t like that feeling.

Samhain

I was invited to Samhain tonight (pronounced SOW-in), which is a Pagan sabbat (festival? ritual? celebration? remembrance? event?!?) that marks the end of the year and celebrates the harvest.  Apparently it also has to do with healing, which is why I was invited.  I could definitely use some healing.

No clue what it’s going to be like.  No clue what I’m going to think of it or what’s going to happen.

Expect a follow-up post in a day or two.  (If I can remember to get it out of the way before NaNoWriMo starts!)

Echoes

Every time I walk into the bedroom, I expect to see him lying there waiting for me.  When I was holding his body right after he passed, I kept feeling him breathe, even though he was past that.  Today, I thought I heard him in the other room.  And I know it wasn’t La Princesa because she was right next to me.

It’s really odd how the brain gets so used to certain stimuli that it registers them, even when they aren’t really there.

RIP Gumby

Gumby was my little puppy cat.  He played fetch with me, followed me from room to room, and came when I called him.  He slept every night curled up in my arms, but he never wanted to be picked up, or for that matter even held on a lap.  I can’t tell you how many times I snuggled my face into his furry little back at night…

He had prominent teeth that looked like fangs and long claws that, even when I trimmed them back, would click on the kitchen floor like a velociraptor.  Oh, he looked vicious.  And to some people, he was!  (Sorry, Aubrey…)  But then when he opened his mouth, out would come the tiniest, high-pitched little baby kitty meow.  So unexpected!  So endearing!  So frikkin hilarious!  LOL

We brought him home almost exactly nine years ago – it was the second Friday in October and he was eight weeks old.  Eric and I had decided (even though we weren’t allowed to have pets in the school’s apartments) that we were going to go adopt a cat from the shelter.  But we had no idea how much that was going to cost us!  So we headed to the pet store to price all the accouterments needed, and lo and behold, they had a litter of kitties there.  I actually wanted to get one of Gumby’s sisters; she was a tuxedo kitty and I gotta tell you, I’ve always loved them.  But Eric thought Gumby had more personality, and that a male would be more loving in the long run.  Loving he was, for sure – at least to me!  He was the only thing I asked for in the divorce, in fact.  I even gave that man the kitchen table and couch that I adored, without one word of protest.  But I got the cat.

I learned about Gumby’s heart problems early; at his one-year checkup the vet told me that he had a “significant heart murmur.”  That scared the tar out of me!  But then she explained that cats and dogs often do have heart murmurs, and they don’t necessarily denote any actual health problem.  *sigh of relief*

The relief lasted till last fall, when he had what I thought were a couple of seizures.  Turns out they were the result of a heart problem – he would overexert and then he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.  Scary as hell, I gotta tell you (especially since we’re talking about the closest thing I’m ever going to have to a son!) but they got him on some meds that helped.  Yup, the little brat got to have pills stuffed down his throat three times a day.  And you know?  He was actually pretty good about it.  He never ran away from me, and in fact often came running to me when I rattled his pill container.  How many animals do you know will do that when it’s pill time?

So things went well for several months.  Bratty cat got pills, and I wondered when the other shoe was going to drop.  Because, after all, he’s only going to last so long, right?  It could be several years, or it could only be a couple months.  I had no idea.  But after a while it became old hat.  A new normal.

Then in the spring we had a couple scares.  The first time, I noticed he was getting round.  And we’re talking about a cat that I fondly described as crackhead-cat-thin.  At first I just thought he was eating more.  I was giving him treats with his pills and I’d just changed to larger ones.  So I figured that three large treats a day (for a little bugger like him) could very well make a difference.  I started cutting the treats in half, but he still got thicker.  Then one day (a couple weeks in) I felt his not-so-little belly.  He felt like a balloon!  I palpated his pudgy-for-real “sister” Princess and felt standard pudge under her fur.  So I rushed my little boy off to the vet and (lo and behold) they had to take 650mL of fluid out that had accumulated in his belly.

That is WELL OVER HALF A LITER!!  Holy crapola, people!  No wonder he felt like a little balloon!  We upped his meds to get the fluid out more efficiently, which worked for a while.  But then a month or so later I saw that he was walking stiffly, like his back legs weren’t working right.  I felt him and they were cold!  Back to the vet, where they rushed him into the kitty ICU, which is an incubator.  (Who knew?)

Dr. Little (the owner) was working that day, and he got the immense joy of getting bitten by my little darling…  Yeah, they’re going to be on my Christmas goodie list this year, they more than deserve it!  At any rate, Dr. Little had just been to a seminar where they were discussing the use of a new drug in cats with heart disease, and he wanted to try it with Gumby.  It was spendy, but DAMN it worked!  Totally worth it.  I’m out of work, pinching pennies, living off my credit cards, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t spend the money on those pills every month, without hesitation.

At that second emergency visit Dr. Little said Gumby probably only had 2 or 3 months to live.  He said maybe six, but certainly not a year.  Well, he made it the six all right.  But I came home from class this Wednesday and found that he wasn’t moving much.  His breathing was a bit more labored than usual (it’d gotten more so over the past year since his diagnosis) but I decided not to take him in, since it was steady and regular.  But I canceled my plans and stayed home that night.

The next couple of days I watched as his condition stayed the same – or at least it seemed that way.  I got home Thursday night late after work and found him stretched out on the bed.  Looking back I think he was having trouble breathing and that was a more comfortable position for him.  I lay crosswise on the bed so I could snuggle with him, not knowing what to do but feeling that he wanted the comfort.  I certainly did.  At about 5am I roused up and he seemed stable, so I got into bed the normal way so I could get some sleep.  When I woke up he was in the living room, which I thought was a good sign – hey look, he’s getting up and moving!  He must be feeling better, right?  Not so much.

I was in the kitchen doing the dishes when I heard him cry out.  Have you ever heard a cat crying?  It’s awful.  Cuts right to the bone, you know?  Especially when it’s one you raised from a tiny little fluffball, one you taught to play games and you held at night, one you nursed through a couple of awful scares already.  Even when you know you’re living on borrowed time, and that the clock is about to stop ticking , it’s still awful to see the train coming at you.

That’s how I felt at that moment.  I knew he was about to go, and I knew the best thing at that point was to let him.  He was so scared when he went to the vet’s office, I didn’t want to take him to a strange, cold, scary place to die.  I wanted his last moments to be in his home, where at least he was comfortable and felt secure.  But you know, that’s easier said than done.

Have you ever actually watched a living thing die?  It’s horrible.  He was scared and he was in pain and he didn’t know what was wrong; he just kept crying like he wanted it to stop.  And I told him it would, and I petted him and told him (and myself) that it was all going to be over soon.  But it didn’t happen soon enough, and I was weak.  I couldn’t just watch it happen, watch the pain get worse and us not able to actually communicate with each other beyond emotion and physical sensation.  You know, you can’t explain anything to a cat (obviously); you can’t talk to him about passing, you can’t work through his feelings so he understands his own mortality and can be ready to leave.  You can’t tell him that the pain is only going to be here for a little while, and it’ll all be over soon.  You can only try to ease his physical pain, which I had no way to do.  So I wrapped him in a towel and put him in the carrier and took him to the vet’s office.

They rushed him into that damned ICU that scared him so badly before, but within half an hour he was gone.  I don’t know if taking him in eased his passing.  I really don’t.  I know it eased my feelings of helplessness at the moment, but it hasn’t done a thing for my feelings of guilt since then.  Should I have taken him in sooner?  At what point do you admit defeat, stop forcing the medication on the animal, and have him put down?  At what point does the pain suffered override the value of life?

All I know at this point is that we had six months together – six months for me to love him and for him to love me back; six months to give him the best life I could; six months in which he slowly faded from the playful devil I raised to a grumpy, tired little man-cat.  He still played a little at the end, but not much and not often, and not for very long.  He didn’t have the stamina.  And the last few weeks, he didn’t come to me when I called him, either.  He stayed under the bed, coming out when he felt like it and otherwise hiding.

I look back and I feel pretty sure that I did the best I could at the time.  I can see things that hindsight makes me wish I’d done differently, but that’s the way it always is.  I guess overall I’m just happy I had nine years (to the day, almost) with my little shadow cat.  There’s not much else I can do at this point, is there?