I sit on Tim's side of the bed when he's gone because from the head of the bed, he has a perfect view out the bedroom door to the stairwell where the three uppermost birds soar. It pleases me to see the image I love so dearly in a more visible place than my back, and I love that I was able to paint them in my stairs.
I've decided to consider myself an artist.
My whole life, I have never given myself credit for being an artist because I've always been surrounded by real
artists. What I do has never seemed to qualify, is never something that I can frame and hang--as though that's the only qualifier art needs.
But I finally gave myself credit for looking at the world as an artist. Our house is slowly getting filled with things that might prompt a sensible realtor would remind us to consider resale values, but our thick wooden back door is sturdy enough to withstand 56 holes that I put in when I created an installation with old keys.
My art is never going to change the world, or even attract much notice from anyone besides myself, and that's ok with me. I am recharged by the buzz of excitement new ideas give me, and the sense of satisfaction and peace that creation brings.
I need more of those feelings in my life, as work is becoming an increasing black hole where peace, hope, and optimism go to die.
I've decided to give myself the goal of doing one creative thing a day, to give myself something to think about and look forward to when work makes me despair.
My next project is to replace all the ceiling fan pulls (which are currently round medallions at the end of each chain that advertise the fan brand) with beads made out of Sculpey. Next up, I am going to make a futon cover out of oatmeal-colored muslin for the library. After that, I'm going to write a story or two for This I Believe. My long-term goal is to learn how to use audio-editing software and write some podcasts.
It's good to have projects to look forward to. Here's to hope, optimism, and peace!
Tim says how you know you've met the right kitty is that it picks you, not that you pick it.
I've spent hours at shelters before, looking for exactly the right cat, going into it desiring an all-black cat, and keeping my eyes focused for what I thought I wanted. And it was frustrating, seeing all the wonderful cats who seemed only just good enough. Not The One.
And then the right one will come along unbidden.
Fergus found me the summer of 1999. I went to Harmony House for Cats, entered a room filled with black kitties, and one jumped onto my lap, curled up, and fell asleep. I fell in love, but he had a bronchial infection, so I had to wait a week to pick him up. I think when I went back, they gave me the wrong cat, because Fergus never once sat in my lap for the rest of his life.
He was my punk kitty. He loved racing around the apartment (even better when I lived in a two-story apartment with a long, carpeted staircase to the basement), chomping down on my hair while I was sleeping, and climbing my clothes hanging in the closet to perch near the ceiling. He went crazy whenever there was a newspaper to dive under or a box to climb in.
For a long time, it was him and me against the world. He was my rock for a few years. I went through a lot, but I never got lonely at home with him by my side. I'd come home from work, and he'd run to the table to relax and watch me make dinner. While I ate, he'd lay beside me on the table, then curl up on the couch cushion next to me while I read or watched TV. After about three years together, I began waking up in the middle of the night to discover him curled in my arms. I could scarcely breathe; it was so special. He hadn't been a very affectionate cat, which I didn't mind so much because he had so much spunk and intelligence. But for a good year or two, I didn't get much sleep because I'd lay awake, treasuring those quiet, cuddly moments where he deigned to act like a cat instead of a little furry person.
When Tim entered the picture, it was all over for the punk kitty. Tim lavished so much love on Fergus, believing--accurately--that the way to my heart was through Fergus's, and he turned into a little love bug. A year or so after that, Tim was convinced he needed a friend, so we went back to the same shelter, and Olivia found us.
Fergus tried to kill Olivia the first day she was home. But after about a week, the hissing stopped, and after about a month, he allowed her to eat out of the same bowl. I don't think he ever loved her the way she loved him, but there was tolerance, and sometimes he'd give up the fight and let her snuggle him.
The happiest time for Fergus was in Alabama. He'd snake through our home-made cat door onto the balcony and roll around deliriously on the concrete, dirt-sprinkled floor. He'd "walk the wire" of the balcony, and click his tongue at the birds. And he'd spend a lot of time asleep on the World's Most Comfortable Chair, a place he always let Olivia share. I always felt bad leaving that apartment, and his outdoor freedom.
And then we came back to Chicago, and he started to get sick, and that's not something I want to remember right now. I want to remember his wise eyes, and the way I wasn't sure he ever knew exactly
what I was saying, but certain he always knew my meaning. How he'd meow a kitty "bless you" every time I'd sneeze, or come running to my side with a concerned look on his face if I ever made a cry of pain or sadness. How he was staunchly anti-laps or cuddling in the living room, but could be counted on to curl his head under my chin at night, or let me rest my head, using him as a pillow, to listen to his purr.
And in the end, Olivia proved a good partner, whether he ever acknowledged her or not. At a time when another animal might have attacked him for being weak, she didn't push him to play, but instead licked his ears while he ate, grooming him carefully.
I think we all have one kindred animal spirit in the world, and it doesn't seem right that he's gone, but I feel lucky to have known him.
On being employed
Today, I have had a leisurely breakfast at Lula Cafe
in my neighborhood with a friend, walked along the boulevard looking at an outdoor-art project, started a new book from the library, and inevitably took a nap on the couch with Olivia. The weather is picture perfect, a glorious 79 on the day before fall. It could be a repeat of many weekend days I've spent this summer, but somehow it is so much sweeter and more relaxing doing it when I'm employed.
Cassette from My Ex
Cassette from My Ex
is a blog I wish I had thought of. Stories about the ex and the special mix tape he or she created, along with actual songs uploaded to the site, so you can listen as you read. Really the only complaint I have with it is that they usually only publish established writers, so I probably couldn't get my story on there.
I started to write my story here, and then I realized I'd written it before
. My first boyfriend, my first trip abroad, and my first bout of heavy drinking. And then I realized it's not just about exes. My whole life revolves around stories of music, from nights with friends
, to cruising Main
, to my fascination with hands
My latest mantra
"I accept myself as I am right now."
Between me and the world
You are a calendar, a compass
I love Monday nights
Monday nights have become my special treat. Coming off the weekend, I'm ready to work again, but about halfway through Monday, I realize it's not this night I have to work, it's the next. No matter how much I like my job, the Tuesday night deadline looms for when I have to put on my pajamas, pack up my overnight bag, and drive to work.
But Mondays, I have off. No matter that most days, and most evenings, too, I have off. There's something different about Monday. I make my dinner and find something to watch on TV. The whole evening stretches ahead of me, and I love being at home with the kitties.
Bored with myself
I haven't blogged in forever because it's just too boring. I have nothing to say but to bemoan my unemployed state and my near-constant depression.
I don't know why I call it unemployment, though. I forget that I work a lot at the shelter. I guess that's what depression does to you; you forget about the good things you have.
I need to remember, though, because right now it's about all that's keeping me going. I worked out and applied for some jobs today, which momentarily lifted my spirits, but then I couldn't figure out what else to do with my day, so I laid on the floor, watched TV, and napped. It was too hard to even carry on a conversation with Tim when he called. I watched the clock, cuddled with the kitties, waiting for it to be late enough to go to work.
When it was finally time to get in the car and drive up north, my spirits lifted. I walked in the door and everything felt right. If I feel this way about a part-time job, god. I can't wait to be more fully employed.
Too late. Too loud.
I forget sometimes, how much I love live music. I don't like standing up for a long time, and I don't like crowded, smoky clubs. I think I'd rather lay on the floor of my own home, listening to the CD instead.
And then I went out to this odd little venue called Heart of Gold.
It was hard to figure out at first. The top floor of what appeared to be a business, it looked like an art gallery. The lobby was filled with a variety of stunning art. Maybe it was a performance space; there was also a door that said "recording studio." But inside this colorful room, people lounged about, smoking, and the bartender refused to take my money, pointing me instead to a fishbowl filled with cash for me to make my own change. When my friend B and I waited for the bathroom, a guy filled us in: it was a loft converted into a living space for about seven or eight people. What a living space!
Everyone there seemed to know each other. Three different bands or solo artists played, as we tried to identify the person we were there to see: Bleu
, someone a friend in L.A. knew. The night dragged on, and my feet hurt. We sat down, and they still hurt. People milled around me, blowing cigarette smoke freely so my contacts started to burn.
And then Bleu started playing. It was just him with his guitar, a drum machine, and a feedback loop. As we approached midnight, the sound system got progressively louder. His voice coasted on the beautiful edge of hoarse, of cracking. He played his own stuff, and Tears for Fears' "Shout," and the crowd sang with him. I closed my eyes and sang along.
It was too late. Too loud. The vibrations of voices, soundwaves filled my body. I couldn't tell where I ended and the music began. I melted into the night.
On my own
This week, I got called to interview at my dream social service agency. I was fair in shock. I really never expected them to pull my resume out of the stack of hundreds. I didn't know anyone at the agency, no one who could put me in touch with the right person or vouch for my skills. Lately I've been feeling like it's almost pointless to apply for any jobs when you don't have a connection like that. There's no way to stand out from every other unknown person with the same recent graduation qualifications as me.
But they picked me. That alone was enough to make my week. Forget about the job yet; they just thought I was good enough to consider. Hello self esteem, welcome back.
And then I hit a home run with the interview. Or at least, it felt that way to me, and that's good enough for now. Or . . .
The dangerous part starts now. I haven't felt this way in a while, so I start to question myself. Like at the end of the interview, when I asked about the timeline for hiring, and would I be contacted both if they wanted or didn't want me to continue in the process. "No, I usually only contact those I am asking back for second interviews," she said (which, duh. That was a pretty stupid question for me to ask on only the first interview). "But you can always call me to check." In the moment I said goodbye, but hours later, I start to think, "But
you can always call me . .
." Did she phrase it like that as a subtle hint?
I'm ridiculous beyond belief. I know that. But I'm also insecure to the max. I wish I could spend a few more moments basking in the pure joy of feeling good and confident about myself and my abilities. I got to this place by myself. On my own. And that's pretty great.