Consider Your Shit Officially Lost

So my mom is losing her shit. Seriously. For one thing, she either is not listening, or cannot hear most of what I say. Sometimes she just talks over me, and doesn’t realize I am talking, sometimes she doesn’t look up from her iPad. I don’t actually know if it’s her hearing or if she’s just in her own zone.

Yesterday she let the dogs out, and she came back to sit down, talking. I didn’t see one of the dogs, so I asked her “Is Jake in?” and she just kept talking. And I asked her again, and she just kept talking, and finally I was like “MOM! WHERE IS JAKE?” to which she replied “Oh did he go out?”

Then last night she shut Poe in the upstairs bathroom, for more than half an hour. It would have been all night, if I had fallen asleep before I realized Poe was missing. Normally the bathroom door isn’t shut, I don’t have any idea why she shut it. When I knocked on her closed bedroom door to tell her, she wasn’t very fazed.

“Oh, I didn’t see him,” she said, “He’s so fast.”

“Poe is still a girl.” I replied.

So I think she’s doing just tragically, completely lost it, until she tells me that her older sister came home the other day and got out of her car in the garage, then left the car running in the garage from 4 that afternoon until 8 the next morning. I didn’t even know a car would sit and run that long without overheating. She’s lucky she didn’t gas herself or any of her neighbors.

My mom has never liked cats. I have to wonder if part of this calling Poe by the wrong name (Poo) and “forgetting” her sex constantly and locking her in places (this is not the first time) is just passive aggressive punishment of me for getting a kitten. And then I have to wonder if Poe will be safe with her when I go on vacation in a few weeks. Or if the dogs will even be safe, or if she will burn my freaking house down.

My mom was bawling last night about how she doesn’t belong anywhere and has no purpose in life and I managed not to say “join the club.” I am fast losing patience with this bullshit. I am sorry she’s sad. I am also sad. But I am not mean. I don’t go around saying shitty things constantly, and being utterly self-absorbed. Fucking fuck.

Last night she fell asleep on the couch right after dinner, and then slept all night until it was bedtime, snoring so hard that I thought at one point someone was knocking on my door. The whole time she was lying there dozing, her weird dog whined and whined and whined and whined, for hours. She couldn’t hear him, because she was sleeping, and no matter what you offered him (go outside, eat a treat, have a nice place to lay.) he just fucking whined. He is maybe reacting to how nuts she is, but between the two of them I wanted to climb out of my own skull.

Anyway. That’s how things are with me.

So (An Ode to a Blank Life)

So last week was an unexpected 6 day holiday, due to the civil unrest in my city. One of the worst reasons to have a day off work that I can think of, it was extremely disturbing. It was hard to know what to do with myself, because going out seemed like a bad idea, and yet staying in had its own challenges, since I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than constantly refreshing social media.

Now things have calmed down somewhat, and yesterday was, unbelievably, the first of December. But I don’t count the passing of the months by the arrival of the 1st anymore. Now I have to count them by 17th. That’s not my choice. My mom reminds me every 17th that it’s been another month since my brother died. This 17th it will be five. Five months since he died. It doesn’t seem like only five months. Five long years maybe.

I would like to not remember that horrible anniversary, but I don’t have a choice. She tells me every time, and makes me feel guilty for not remembering, or wanting to remember, or counting the days and hours as she does.

December means it’s holiday shopping season, and I don’t have anyone to buy anything for. Everyone talks about all the shopping that they’re doing, and I have no idea what they’re talking about. I have literally none gifts to buy.

I hate the holidays. There’s no worse season for people with terrible families. There’s no more stark reminder that other people have something you’ll never have, and that you were somehow deficient for not having acquired it.

You do the best you can to live a decent life, but for lots of people it’s just not enough. Happiness, family, love, intimacy, community, connection—those things aren’t guaranteed. Not everybody wins that prize. The holidays are a reminder that somehow you’ve lost at this life thing, and other people won, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it, that’s just the way it all fell.

A few weeks ago I had talked my mom into following her doctor’s recommendation that she double the dose of antidepressant she was taking, because she was falling apart at the seams and calling me constantly talking nonsense and crying. But now after getting a little bit better over the last two weeks, she’s decided that she doesn’t want to take the double dose anymore because it prevents her from feeling anything. It makes her “not care” and she doesn’t want that. Instead she wants to wallow in her misery in my brother’s home, amongst his things, in a perpetual shrine to his lost life. The only things she wants to talk to me about are how to decorate his grave and stories about his childhood, and what she can do to honor his memory.

She’s not, you will note, making any new memories of or with me.

Actual conversation I had with her two weeks ago:

Her: Maybe I will just move someplace new. A new city. Start over.

Me: Well, you could if you wanted to. But you wouldn’t really do that, would you?

Her: No. I wouldn’t ever leave. All of Danny’s things are here. I could never leave Danny’s things.

Me: And your daughter. She’s here too.

Her: Well of course.

Competing with a dead sibling is very similar to competing with a live one except now the dead one is perfect. Well, he was perfect before actually, in her eyes. I guess it’s exactly the same, except that I don’t have the reality of my brother to take the edge off how my mom’s attitude makes me hate him, or the specter of him that her grief calls up. At least sometimes he was funny, or told a good story. At least we could roll our eyes together at our parents’ antics. At least there was something familiar about him, something solid that could let adult-me love him. But this ghost of him, seen only through my mother’s eyes? I hate that thing.

I’m listless with little to do and no desire to do it. I have nightmares, lucid dreams from which I try actively to escape. In my nightmares all I want to do is wake up—I know things are wrong, but I can’t wake up. Everything will be OK if I can run and escape the dreaming. And then I do, and all I want is to go to sleep again.

I don’t need anything, I don’t want anything, I don’t miss anyone, I don’t want to be around anyone, I don’t want to go anywhere. I have seemingly no needs, aside from sleep and something to wile away the boring hours. These should be enviable positions – the not-needing ones – but it doesn’t feel that way from the inside.

Of all the people in all the world I am in the luckiest 5%. All my material needs met, and more. Relatively safe, relatively comfortable, and yet it all means nothing.

I do envy people with meaning and purpose to their lives. I don’t know where they find it, but I envy them having it. Even if sometimes I think they’re stupid, with their yammering about whatever they’re doing, it seems as if they’re at least happy in the pursuit of something, and take some enjoyment from life. How can I be so very blessed and so very blank inside, at the very same time?

Depression is a horror because you feel terrible and then you feel guilty about feeling terrible, on top of already feeling terrible. There’s no winning, and there’s no forgiving yourself the struggle, either, not when other people would love to have your life. Or at least your stuff, I guess.

Ugh. I hate the holidays.


Last night I watched the announcement of the “no true bill” finding in the Michael Brown case, on spotty streaming video because I don’t have  cable TV. I watched enough of it to get the gist, and understand what might happen as a result.

I live within a mile of the South Grand business district that has seen a pared-down version of the unrest in Ferguson in the last few months, which unrest is related to the death of Vonderritt Meyers in the Shaw neighborhood.

Despite the livestreams that I watched when the South Grand protests started, I was confident that this time would be different, I held faith that humanity would find a way for people to express themselves that didn’t involve the looting of the place where I spend my free time and my cash. Where I laugh and drink and dine with my friends, in one of the most densely populated and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city.

Progressive and LGBTQA businesses in the area were saying that they’d serve as safe places. Our local businesses (more independent than chains) have been supportive of peoples’ right to protest, and the prior events had been focused mostly on civil disobedience rather than destruction. I watched a little of the livestreams last night. I had more than a few friends who were out in the action on South Grand and on 44. I saw the photos and the video, that it was peaceful and police were not engaging because there was nothing to engage. Around 10:45 or so, I went to bed.

An hour later, I woke in a panic, thinking someone was knocking on my door. But it was gunshots. Multiple bursts, small caliber, very close to me. I checked to see what was going on and that’s when I saw that destruction and looting had begun on South Grand. Windows broken out, people stealing from the pawn shop and trying to sell their just-stolen items – on camera – with no shame. Police began to engage, and eventually tear gas was thrown, protesters were told to disperse and did not, more tear gas was used. Lying in my own bed in my own home a mile from what was happening, I could smell the acrid odor of the canisters.

This morning I started seeing pictures of the damages, the broken windows and senseless destruction of places like Rooster, a community-centered restaurant we were all so happy to recently welcome to South Grand. To Upcycle Exchange, a donations-centered craft supply store run by a tirelessly perky and optimistic lady. To Basil Spice, where I get my favorite Thai food, and where the ESL owners are unlikely to navigate well the online donation sites that the other businesses are using to fund their window replacement. I saw all this and I knew that tonight is likely to be just as bad, if not worse. This whole week might be marked by the same kind of fear and destruction.

Most of the people talking about this online, and many of my local friends, tell me that I don’t have a right to feel how I feel. That I should support this action, understand that people are so angry that being destructive is the only way to express it. Or they argue that most of the protesters are peaceful and only some are using these events as an opportunity to destroy things.  Not liking either of these answers, or not seeing them as a good enough reason to destroy the livelihoods of small business owners in my neighborhood is (I am told) deeply racist, white supremacist, lacking in compassion and empathy. Lives are more important than property, so I should welcome with open arms the destruction of the place I live so that some kind of figurative healing can later take place.

I will not believe that. I will not fall for that. This is wrong, what is happening is wrong. People who say their anger gives them the right to destroy someone else’s livelihood, they’re wrong. When white people riot at a goddamn pumpkin fest, and destroy property, they’re wrong. When anyone riots after a sporting event and destroys things, they’re wrong. Mob mentality and mob action are not things to be tolerated in society, no matter the reason. If you’re in a peaceful group that turns into a mob or begins looting, you need to remove yourself. I truly do believe that the peaceful protesters are inadvertently giving cover to the people who want to destroy things. Those people feel anonymous and invisible and they will use that feeling to rip things apart. Whether or not that’s the intention of those seeking change and peace is immaterial, the end result is enabling the violence.

No one can be made happy by any of this. Before last night people were screaming about the over-preparedness of the police and the mobilization of the national guard. Today people are screaming “where was the national guard?” If the police had engaged to stop the destruction that would have made world-wide headlines about police intervention, over-militarization and brutality. But if the police stood back in order to keep from inflaming the crowd, they were apparently creating an opportunity for crime so that they could present that image to the world. I actually saw people saying that the police wanted to watch their own cruisers burn, in fact did nothing about it just so that image would make the news. That makes no sense at all. If they intervene they’re wrong, if they stand back they’re wrong.

None of this is logical or makes any sense or is accomplishing anything, from what I can see. No changes have been proposed, the movement seems to be leaderless (from friends who were there last night, the protest was peaceful until the planned march/route ended and people didn’t know what to do next – that’s when the violence started.) in fact from what I heard, the headquarters of one of the agencies helping to lead the protesters was burned down in Ferguson last night.

So no, I will not be in favor of shutting shit down and burning shit down and whatever else people tell me I need to quietly accept. I will not be sanguine about my neighborhood being destroyed by anyone, for any reason. If you tell me that people are worth more than property, I will agree, then I will ask you how exactly that equation applies to the looting of a pawn shop.

If you’re not from here, if you’re not attached to these places, think twice about how much of my neighborhood you’re willing to give up on my behalf. Think twice before you tell me my disagreement with this destruction makes me racist and evil. It is easy to say that people far from you, in places you’ve never seen, should be willing to sacrifice quite a lot for the sake of a cause you believe in. Let’s see how it feels when you’re lying in bed hearing the gunshots and smelling the smoke. Until then I don’t want to hear about how much I should be willing to give up. And I don’t want to hear about how my unwillingness to give it up makes me a bad person.

If it Wasn’t My Story I Wouldn’t Believe It

Having a shitty family is challenging in lots of ways. You grow up insecure of your place in the world, without a strong foundation of love and acceptance, and you can never regain or build up that confidence later in life, no matter how hard you work at it.

There is a feeling of intrinsic worth that I see in my friends with strong families, a feeling of having a space in the world that belongs to them, a feeling of connection. I will never have that.  So you start off at a different place, and that’s bad enough. But a shitty family is the shitty gift that just keeps on giving, for as long as they’re alive and you’re in contact with them. They don’t just fuck up your formative years – they try their best to fuck up your adulthood as well.

That’s one of the things that my friends with half-decent families don’t really understand at all. It’s not just that they DID suck before, it’s that their brand of crazy is actively sucking RIGHT NOW and all the time. There’s never a nice holiday, there’s never a nice birthday, there’s no sharing of family traditions, there’s no help when you need it – there’s NOTHING there, where other people have support and love and shared good memories and camaraderie, those of us with bad families have at best nothing, and at worst a constant emotional drain and time-suck. It’s not just lack of good, it’s active bad.

Anyway, yesterday my dad fell asleep behind the wheel (at 11:00 a.m.) and ran his stupid SUV off the road and into a telephone pole. He broke the pole and likely totaled his car, but was apparently un-injured. (Thanks, airbags.) Luckily there was no one else on the road when this happened, and he didn’t kill some poor innocent person just because he refuses to treat his sleep apnea. I guess I should also be glad it was morning and he wasn’t drunk, because then he and my mom would get the shit sued out of them, probably.

When this happened he called 911, then he (apparently) called me. He must have called my home land line, which doesn’t have a phone connected to it, instead of my cell. That’s lucky for him because I don’t know what the fuck he thinks I would have done about his accident. He expects me to, what? Swoop in and save the day? Please. I wouldn’t put on a bra and leave the house to go help his worthless ass. When he couldn’t reach me he called my mom, who foolishly went out to pick him up. You know what he asked her when they were getting ready to leave the accident scene and drive to the auto-body place to wait for the tow truck?  Wait for it.  Here’s what he asked – “Do you want me to drive?”

No, I am serious. In his mind he’s a fantastic driver, and my mom is a shitty driver, so even coming off of a one-person car-totaling telephone pole wreck, he seriously asked my mom if she preferred that he drive her car. Yeah.

He also refused to go to the hospital (the airbag only hit me in the stomach) and refused to contact the insurance company, making my mom do it. Then he criticized my mom’s driving all the way to the auto-body place, again because he’s coming from such a position of strength on the skilled-driver front. He then looked in my mom’s back seat, where she had two cases of water.

Him: “You’re driving around with those cases of water in the car?”
Her: “Yes.”
Him: “Do you know how heavy those are?” (implying that she was wasting gas by driving with heavy objects)
Her: “I bet they’re lighter than you.”

This morning he “needed” another ride to the auto-body place (I told my mom to hand him a fucking bus schedule, but she’s too codependent to actually carry through with that.) and apparently cussed my mom out when she was changing lanes, because he didn’t like the way she was doing it.

Again, this is a guy coming off of totaling his car in a one-person wreck less than 24 hours previous. Swearing at someone else in critique of their driving. Let that sink in.

And naturally I am the outlet for all this shit, I get the phone calls describing his shitty behavior. I tell her to let him fend for himself, she says he’s incapable. I say let him sit in the house and starve then, if he’s incapable of figuring out his own transport. Fuck him.

But really it’s more like fuck everything. Fuck having a family that sucks. Fuck the upcoming holidays. Fuck that all my free time is dealing with shit and never getting a word of kindness or support from anyone. Fuck what a giant drain on my resources these people are. Fuck how they fucked me up before and keep trying to fuck me up now. Fuck how I have to manage my family instead of being loved by them. Fuck my fucking bad luck for being attached to these people.

Fuck it all.

Book Review: Bird Box

Bird BoxBird Box by Josh Malerman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in one sitting last night. It’s creepy with a great atmosphere and interesting premise, while also being an interesting study in the group psychology of trauma survivors. The evil unknown remains just the right mix of revealed/concealed enough to stay scary but answer the reader’s questions, and I liked the technique of staying with the human characters and their limited perception/reactions to what is happening, rather than fully trying to explore _why_ it is happening. Do recommend.

View all my reviews

World of Poe

Now seriously. Is she not the prettiest kitty?
Now seriously. Is she not the prettiest kitty?

So it’s nine days in, and things seem to be going pretty well! I have to keep reminding the dogs that they don’t get to growl when Poe jumps up on the chair or sofa with them, but Louis seems to have given up on chasing her, and Jake does really well as long as she doesn’t come directly at him (which, to be fair, is how he reacts to all the other creatures in the house as well.)

Poe is utterly unconcerned with their antics and, while she avoids them if they’re all barking at one time, she mostly ignores them, continues to walk right across the middle of the floor/stand in the middle of the hallway. Without being confrontational, she’s very comfortable in her space. She’s also hilariously funny, able to take one toy and entertain herself until she’s tired out, and super squeezy cuddly.

Here’s some weekend photos.

Poe in the kitchen window.
Poe in the kitchen window.
I got my very first personal Poe-in-a-box!
I got my very first personal Poe-in-a-box!

And here’s last night, after a heavy day of snoozing/playing/visiting with Aunt V and snoozing some more.

All witches and their familiars were at rest.

Now today is making me nervous because my mom is coming to stay with her incorrigible poodle, Cricket. She doesn’t train him at all, he doesn’t listen well, and he has a very strong prey drive. So I am going to have to supervise them very very carefully until I am sure that Poe knows how to get away from him, and take a swipe at him if necessary. Since my mom is arriving at my house while I am gone at work, I had to shut Poe in the office (with food/water/toys/litterbox of course.)

Poe’s had the run of the house for a week now, and I feel badly shutting her in one room. It is her safe room, and there’s windows to look out of and toys to play with. But I still feel badly. It’s her house, after all, and the fact that my mom can’t control her dog shouldn’t mean she has to get locked up. But I’d rather ensure her safety, which I can’t do if I am not there to supervise. This ought to be a crappy visit with my mom anyway. If possible she’s going even more off the rails than usual. The swift arrival of winter, spending too much time alone, two weeks without seeing her therapist. She’s going loopy. She’s been going to church, which, yuck. Looking for answers, wanting to know that Danny is with “god.” Yeah.

She’s also buying books on that psychic John Edwards guy. In short, she’s experiencing extended denial. She’s looking for a back door, an escape clause. Some way for Danny to not really be gone. If she can pray to him while he’s up with “god” she can ask his advice and look for signs. If she can believe that a psychic could reconnect her to Danny then again, he’s not really gone from her life, she could still communicate with him.

I have very strong and swirly feelings about all that, but I don’t really feel like sharing them. Anyway. She will be there when I get home today, so I will get to introduce Poe to a new creature. I know it’s probably good for Poe, she needs to be properly socialized, and part of that is meeting new people, meeting more dogs, etc. So even if it’s a bad experience, it will be a learning one for her (and I will definitely keep her safe. I just hate for her to meet a shitty little dog who might try to snap her neck for fun.)

Oh, and the feeding her three small meals a day, one right after a good play session and before bed, seems to be working. She has let me sleep through the night the last few nights, only coming in to my room and trying to groom my hair after the alarm goes off. I am a fan of this method. I don’t know where she sleeps, sometimes with me, sometimes not, but as long as she’s happy, I am happy.

Still open to any and all cat advice, especially dog related or how cats do being shut up in one room all day, to keep them safe.

Day Six with Kitten – The Things I Didn’t Know

I am so proud of every new place she can get to.
I am so proud of every new place she can get to.

I didn’t know cats farted.

I guess I hadn’t actually considered it much, because logic tells me that things that digest food will probably fart, that’s how it works, but I hadn’t ever thought about a dainty kitten farting in my face. Now I know.

Stalking the fearsome chihuahua beast.
Stalking the fearsome chihuahua beast.

I didn’t realize that kittens can carry things. They can carry things bigger than themselves, up and down the stairs even. Poe’s downstairs toys got themselves upstairs, and this morning she carried an upstairs toy all the way down. This has interfered with my plan to buy coordinating toys for various rooms in the house, and has messed up my color schemes. I will work on accepting this with equanimity.

Sleep cuddle purr eat play sleep repeat.
Sleep cuddle purr eat play sleep repeat.

I still don’t know if Poe’s lovely, cuddly kitten temperament will translate to a sweet and cuddly adult cat, or if she will go through some awful adolescence and become a jerkbrain.

I didn’t know kittens lost their teeth (again, duh.) Glad I happened to read that before I found one in her food bowl or something, and freaked out.

I thought cats were obsessed with windows, but this one seems to find enough amusement inside the house, so she doesn’t really want or need to look out.

I didn’t realize how single-minded cats can be. Poe has decided that the best place in the house is in the bathtub, and the best thing to do in the bathtub is attack the brocade shower curtain. No matter how many times I lift her out of there and put her somewhere else, she runs right back. By now a dog would have forgotten all about it. A kitten likes to see a thing through, it seems. See also: 6 a.m. kitty hairdresser.  A dog would stop after the first time he got pushed off – kitty keeps coming back to try to re-groom my bun. Over and over and over.

Perched and observing chihuahua activity.
Perched and observing chihuahua activity.

I didn’t know how nice it would feel to hold and pet a silky-soft kitten, and watch her fall asleep. I didn’t know how peaceful it would be to sit with two dogs and a kitten all resting on me, and dozing. I didn’t know how much she’d make me laugh, or how goofy and awkward she was going to be.

What in the world, three pounds of dozing kitty is just the right amount, it turns out.
Three pounds of dozing kitty is just the right amount, it turns out.

I didn’t know that she wouldn’t know better than to walk right under my feet.  Dear kitty: I can’t see you down there you know. I have had to start scooting around the house like a complete weirdo, for fear of stepping right on her head.

There’s a lot that surprises me, and so far none of it has been too bad.  Can’t wait for week two.

Here's where I weigh in.