my cat curse

as i seek balance
a little of yin
a little of yang
i find that my life
is a braid
not a teeter totter
bits of me
winding together
into a tapestry
making me beautiful
& bringing me peace

have i told you about my cat curse? it is a sad story. i am cursed so that if there is a kitten to be found–i will find it…and for some reason…it is usually a brown tabby of some sort.

but that isn’t the sad part.

midnight was my first cat. as you can guess, he was a black cat. i got him as a kitten when i was eight? nine? my sister adopted his brother, tiger, a brown tabby. tiger died before he could grow up. he was slammed in a car door. one of my early (but not my earliest) pet traumas.
but i digress.
midnight grew up to be a massive tomcat. being country people, my folks did not neuter him or let him in the house. he was always coming home with bits & parts of him missing from fighting, and i loved him fiercely.
one day my baby brother was given a pet rabbit. one day my older sister put the rabbit on the deck in a cardboard box.
midnight did what came naturally to a big–never a housecat–tomcat who finds a prey animal in a cardboard box outside. he broke nester the long-eared rabbit’s neck.
my dad promptly, and with a smile, shot my cat.

salem was my next attempt to love a cat. he was black also. i got him from a pet store when i was barely old enough to be a grown up. he came complete with an upper respiratory infection. his sickness repelled me in that i could see his mortality…and i failed to bond with him. i found him a new home.

sylvia was a black kitten given to me by my ex-boyfriend when i asked him if i could cat-sit his brown tabby, mishka,  while he went to study abroad in russia. i didn’t want a real cat. i wanted a temporary cat. sylvia was adopted by my roommate.

then i started finding kittens–or were they finding me?

jack was a brown tabby kitten i found while i was visiting home in illinois and walking country roads. he followed me all the way home. i took him to the vet to get shots, and he mauled the vet who then told me, “this will never be a pet cat.”
i never returned to that vet, and i was able to find jack a home with my sister & her husband where he lived to be an old cat.

gruesome was a brown tabby kitten i found in northern kentucky where i was squatting with my redneck boyfriend. gruesome had the upper respiratory infection that many cats get–he was crusty & snotty &, well, gruesome. i reluctantly agreed to my horrible, awful boyfriend’s proposal that we should just put him out of my misery. then i changed my mind & decided that i would take gruesome & leave my boyfriend…but i was too late.

gomez was a brown tabby kitten i found in downtown lexington kentucky. when i took him to a vet, i found out he had feline AIDS and could not be around other cats. i thought, “perfect, then i cannot adopt another cat.” and i took him in & my dog loved him and then one day the neighbor’s dog burst into my apartment and chased gomez away. i never found him again.

maude was a one year old torti-tabby i found in athens, georgia when i was taking my girls from the at-risk shelter to visit the animal shelter. we were going to go to the dog shelter, but one of my girls had the wrong shoes on–so we went to the cat shelter and i fell in love with this beautiful cat named “moonshine” and ended up adopting her and changing her name to maude. things were going well with maude until…

lola, a torti-tabby kitten, and  her brother came running up to me in my backyard in rural georgia. lola matched maude, so i thought it was kismit. however, maude had been surrendered after having a litter of kittens that her owners kept–deciding to get rid of maude instead. needless to say, maude hated kittens. she began over-eating and pooping everywhere and i spent a lot of money to save her, but my bond with her was disrupted (as i am unable to bond when i think i might lose someone–it’s in another post about my dead turkey….) and lola was a bit of a jerk–so i never really bonded with her either. i did keep both of them for many years before lola was surrendered to the humane society because i was afraid she would bite the kids…and maude ended up at my mother-in-law’s house where she died naturally.

at some point when i was in georgia–someone i knew found a pair of neonatal kittens and didn’t know what to do. being one of those people who volunteers to do things when no one else will–i took on the kittens and learned how to care for neonatals. they were later adopted once they were old enough.

in wisconsin, working at a humane society, it was discovered that i knew how to care for neonatal kittens, and being that no one else was very willing to take on this task, i started taking care of litters of kittens that came in. i figured it worked for me because i am one of the few people in the world that kittens have power over, and i would gladly give them back to the humane society once they were old enough to be adopted. then came…

moose who was a brown tabby kitten…maybe one week old? (she was so named because i was also fostering a squirrel baby at the time–get it? moose & squirrel?) she was a singleton and the humane society usually just euthanized singletons because they used up the time of volunteers who could be caring for an entire litter, but it was no longer kitten season and i had no other litters to raise. so i agreed to take her on.
another reason singletons are risky is due to the fact that not having litter-mates & a mama to learn manners from, they can turn into violent, little jerks. moose, at six weeks, started showing the personality of psychopath kitty. i had maude & lola…and my huband had a beige tabby named max…but i knew that if i returned moose to the humane society and she bit someone, she would be euthanized. so i adopted her. she was always good with us–only biting company–and remains my favorite ever cat, but after i started having kids, i started to worry. then one day maude had a stroke, and after that moose got even more squirrelly. i was able to place her with “friends of ferals” recognizing that she did not want to be an indoor cat and that she was half-wild.

pepper is a brown tabby me & the kids adopted from the humane society in wisconsin when we lived somewhere where the only allowed pet was a cat and my kids were going insane about wanting a dog. pepper’s shelter name was “talisman.” he is wonderful with kids and still lives with us, but i still struggle with the whole having a cat reality. he has become more of fidgit’s cat than anyone else.

then we came back to rural illinois–stray cat central. both springs we have been here, i have been taking the kittens of a feral calico into the humane society (yes, i know, i need to trap her & get her spayed–it is on my to-do list.)  this spring i even had to use my neonatal skills when we found one of the kittens too soon. i thought i was in the clear for the rest of the year…but then, driving down the road while dusty was visiting, i spotted a kitten. we passed it and ran errands as usual and then driving home, dusty slowed down.”
“are you looking for the kitten?” i asked jokingly.
he was not–he just drives slow sometimes.
“well, there it is,” i said, spotting an 8 week old kitten, brown tabby of course, hanging out on the side of a country road.
dusty, a cat person, stopped.
i got out, and the kitten meowed & ran up to me. little fucker seemed to know me…so as i write this, he sits on my lap. sleeping. watery eyes as he fights off an upper respiratory infection and he is not using a litter box–pooping everywhere–because he is a wild baby who has never seen a litter box and i do not have the money for another pet or for vet bills and it is just a bad bad bad idea…yet somehow i cannot bring myself to drop him at the humane society as i have every other kitten i have found here (seriously, they probably spot me coming & know i have kittens for them)….

am i ready, universe? am i ready to accept this talisman and to let the wounds heal? the betrayals i have felt by my pets when they have turned out to be…mortal & flawed? the deep anger i have at myself for my own human flaws and inabilities to love and be a good person?

am i ready now?

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on the look-out for the next ex

relationships…

all i think about is relationships i don’t want to think about relationships why do i think about relationships so much?

bleah.

i recognize that part of me longs for the balance of a relationship.
i recognize that part of me loathes the idea of needing someone else.
i recognize that part of me is so injured that the idea of letting someone else in is terrifying.
i recognize that part of me is so damaged that i do not trust myself to choose a healthy partner.

ack!

this post is my letting go of obsessing about relationships.
sort of.
last night i dreamed about two exes.
back up…
recently i sent a series of “crazy” messages to my ex–the one i have trouble letting go of even though we broke up 21 years ago. i was angry because i keep asking him for help, and he ignores me. okay, sure 21 years, but he is always happy to respond when i am flirty & fawning…but not when i sincerely ask for help. when i sincerely ask for a friend.
i have spent 21 years apologizing to him.
for every fucking thing i did wrong when we were together.
and recently i realized something.
he has never once acknowledged that he did anything wrong in our relationship.
maybe he just doesn’t give a fuck.
maybe he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong.
maybe i am wrong to expect we could be friends after everything we went through. maybe our strong connection was just imagined, and i need to let it go already.

let it go already.

last night in my dream he wanted to talk to me about my “crazy” messages to him. first he wanted to do it in a crowded room–so i asked for a private conversation.
once we were alone, i felt the need to hide, covering my face with a scarf and–literally–sinking into a wall.
he started talking to me, but then was distracted by a celebrity entering the scene, and steered off to talk to that person instead, weaving tales to entertain this new person and completely ignoring me.
and then i got up & left to go make green bean casserole for my kids. i didn’t care. it was status quo for us and i was done with it.

i guess i’m ready to let it go.

other thoughts on relationships were addressed by chani and his weekly horoscopes where i was told (as a cancer):

Being thoughtful about who you partner with will help you to create more thoughtfully. Being deliberate about your collaborations will make them more effective. Being conscious of how your insecurities and your need to please can get in the way of protecting your energy is a game-changer.

You can’t take every partnership up on its offer. You can’t pour your energy into every vessel that has room for you. You can’t make good on your promises when you over-extend yourself. 

almost every relationship i have had i have actively sought out empty & cracked vessels that could not possibly accept my love…or i have found them on my doorstep and been like, “okay, i guess this is my boyfriend.”

hence my fear of even stepping towards a new relationship. if i like a person, they are probably damaged…& if they choose me, they are probably damaged.

sigh.

so i read up on the red flags. i read up on the narcissistic tendencies that i seem to attract. i read things about nice guys vs. good men and i try to keep these things up front in my mind…just in case i ever actually meet anyone.

meanwhile, however, you know…four minions and a homestead full of livestock. plus art to complete and vegetables to harvest….

but for those of you that think i should just forget about relationships and focus on kids & homestead & art, i have this to say:  i feel like that would be denying a part of me that deserves to be taken seriously AND i need to do the work. whether i am in a relationship or not, i need to do this work to heal the damage i have in the area of relationships or i am going to wake up one day & realize i am in another fucked up relationship.

speaking of which, i am letting dusty visit this week for misha’s sixth birthday, so–right there–reason to keep fresh what i want & do not want from a relationship.

love, art, & tarot

it is not my responsibilty
not my place
to heal your pain
i cannot endure
carrying your damage
along
with
my own.
please stop expecting me
to be your hero
let me heal
my own wounds
& then
then i might be
strong enough
to be
your friend.

i have been carrying the weight of dusty for so long. i just want to put him down & walk away. but he clings to me. so tightly! he wraps himself around me & refuses to let go.
i’m exhausted.
he is refusing to let go of the idea of us.
in my mind we have been dead so long that the smell is starting to waft away as we are turned to dirt by worms. dusty & me. so dead.
but he does his best to keep the wounds fresh.

meanwhile!
i wonder at starting new relationships.
going in new directions.
growing.

if i am karma, and i am used to handing out punishment for bad things done…what happens if i meet someone who deserves the love i can reward?

i did my tarot today as i had an opportunity present itself. my tarot said, “he who hesitates dies alone.”
or, you know, in a nutshell anyway.
me being the nutshell….

in other news!
i sent the minions with dusty for a few days and am getting some loooonnng overdue alone time.
so i’m trying to do art.
i am working on illustrating a story for a friend.

i have rough drafts for 3 out of 19 pages….

the bat card…rebirth

i have woven
together
love & rejection
my earliest experiences with love
being rejection

people become important to me
once they have
rejected me
i focus on this rejection
instead of
acceptance

i look for my worth
in the eyes
of people…of men
who reject me.

i feel anger that i am not
valued
i let my anger become
who i am.

i am not my anger.
i am not that reflection
i see
in the eyes
of people who cannot
love
me.

follow me

i struggled to lighten some of the darker bits with white ink.
struggled.
but i think it worked out…ish.

just my second ink in six days. february is off to a very unimpressive start. my horoscope says that my career will boom this week…for my sun sign & my rising sign. so perhaps the rest of this month will be more impressive.

and i am working on an illustration project. something i need to start spending more time with. i meant to work on it more than i did during my minion-free time…however, i spent too much of that time thinking about getting laid. and trying to figure out how to get laid. and then realizing my best option for a little sex was not an option at all because i really did not want to go there after all.

then i start wondering. the world is falling apart…should i really be this concerned about love & being loved & finding someone to love?
but love is all the time.
i mean…sarah connor managed to fall in love while being chased by a kill-happy terminator.
people fall in love during war & famine & plague.

right?

so looking for love during this god-awful time isn’t completely unheard of…right?

i’ve got two ex-husbands willing to come to my rescue. of course, their idea of rescue is mostly self-serving and has very little to do with me. i have to assure the two of them that i do not need rescuing…while i secretly hope that some strapping redhead will come to my rescue.
i have some weird viking/lumberjack fetish going on.
i really don’t know what that is about.
this might all be some perimenopausal hormone explosion.

or maybe after a lifetime of crappy relationships
and always having to rescue myself
i’m finally willing to be swept off my feet.

and then i just want to make fun of myself for being a silly romantic.

swim

i had to quit shopping for people online. i mean, i felt i was really clear on my profile, but i shouldn’t be surprised to realize that most men don’t actually read the profile. there is a “message me if” section where i wrote:

honestly, i am just here to find someone to talk to. i don’t want anyone who is going to judge me or who just wants to get laid or who is going to tell me how to live my life. i just want someone to laugh with. to share little parts of my day with.

if i ever do this again–i’m going to add sometime like, “start you message with ‘hello sunshine!’ to show you actually read my profile.”

bleah.

i had a very nice gentleman go into way way way too much detail about what he wants from a sexual partner.
i had another man emailing me his intentions and being very enthusiastic about my being the one…then i got a facebook message from one of the other women he has been wooing. we compared notes and decided that he was not being at all honest. she went on to find yet another woman he was actively pursuing.

i had to cancel my membership.

but i realize something. i am special. you know, in a snowflake kind of way. someone would be lucky to have me in their life. i am not a complete fuck up. i have made a lot of mistakes and done a lot of regrettable things. but i am true to who i am.

and that is good.

someday i might even meet the person who appreciates & celebrates that.

but probably not on an online dating site.

so! new year; new drawing. i really like this one. i have been using sketch paper. it’s not always the best, but i kind of like the way the ink changes the paper. so i will keep playing around with it. however, i forget about the little perforated line and my inkings keep going right on over it. so that is something to think about.

happy new year!

swim1

split-apart

it was new year’s eve 1992. i was 22 and running away from my life, en route to washington dc from iowa city, ia. i went to my parent’s house in illinois for christmas. my younger–very straight & conservative–sister suggested we go out to a bar in the nearby college town of normal. i think she was trying to impress us that she could be cool. it was a grunge bar (before grunge was really even a thing) with a purple mohawked & tattooed bartender and all the hip college kids as clientele.

i woke up the morning before we went there with one thought in my head, “today you are going to meet the man you are going to marry.”

it was a strong thought. this had happened to me before–and come true. the strong waking premonition. so i did not doubt it.

at the bar, the gallery, i was amazed at the number of hot guys. i had bad luck dating in iowa city, everyone thought i was a lesbian–and i had plenty of those opportunities…but very few straight ones. and all terrible in their own ways. so i felt i had stumbled upon an oasis in my romantic desert.

of the sea of hot guys, i was informed by one of the bartenders that her good friend thought i was cute. he was–sadly–the least attractive of the boys there…not at all my type. large & hairy. but due to my premonition, i thought, what the hell. let’s see what happens. so i started dating him. started having feelings for him. scrapped my plans to move to dc & (with the help of the tattooed bartender) found a job & a place to live in normal.

then the mountain man dumped me.

in retrospect, i think i was just the person he needed to feel confident enough to go after the woman he really wanted to be with. and, his having me doting on him, gave him that attractiveness credit with the would-be girlfriend. all of a sudden, because he was my boyfriend, he was a guy worth looking twice at.  i was a tool. they are happily married now. i never got a thank you card for that…oh well.

i spiraled as someone with low self-esteem is bound to do once rejected. i dated & flirted & messed around…a lot. seriously, so many cute guys! there were parties where all these hot people would sit around & play “spin the bottle.” i had so much fun that i can never tell my kids about.

anyhoo!

there was this one bouncer at the gallery. okay. stop. erase your mental image of “bouncer.” at this bar, the biggest & most threatening bouncer employed there was a woman. none of the bouncers could have probably bounced. mostly they just checked id. and in the case of the 6 foot woman bouncer–deep throat kissed everyone who came through the door. ah…the early nineties….

so there was a bouncer who when i first saw him he was cleaning his brand new belly button piercing behind the bar. (it later got infected and was impressively pus-filled enough that the piecing was abandoned.) i had also just gotten my belly button pierced–so i was like, “hey, me too.”

here’s the thing though. this boy was so incredibly good-looking that my mind literally did not entertain thoughts of him for even a second. he was quickly filed in the “out of my league” category. also. he was in one of those epic romances that everyone references when they are talking about perfect couples. it was always him “&amy.” they were a fixed point in time.

and i was a paradox.

but we became fast friends. fun friends. he was great to goof off with. funny. so funny. i can remember my face hurting from laughing when i was with him. and so laid back. i would find him at parties (there was always a party. seriously. weekend parties. after-hour parties. so many parties!) and we would have long conversations about everything & nothing.

then one day i was at his going away party. he was moving to montana. and he was gone. my life went on. i continued living a strange life full of drama & dating.

then one day he was back.

i was walking down the street, and there he was. he told me that he just got back into town, and from that point we were inseparable.
he later told me that he moved to montana to get away from his girlfriend–it didn’t work.
he also told me
that he came back
because he had a dream about me.
i continued to resist it as a romance…especially since he seemed unable to break up with his girlfriend. but we were the best of friends. we plotted ways to make money. we went on crazy road trips. we even became roommates.

i would lay in his arms every night…you know, as his roommate, and feel like i was home. he made everything okay.

we eventually did date.
and break up.
and get back together.
and get engaged (with tattoos!)
and move to an all girl college together.
and move to austin, texas together.

and…

i fucked it up. as hard and terribly as i could. i mean, it’s like i put effort  into fucking it up. i destroyed our relationship. i destroyed everything.

and i have spent the past 20 years trying to forget him and get past him (when i’m not missing him & imagining what would have been).

but i can’t forget him. i remember him better than i remember what i ate yesterday. he is etched in my brain…my heart…scattered across my soul.
i no longer believe i am able to forget him. or that i am meant to forget him.
back then & still today, i believe he is my split-apart.
the other half of me.