Wednesday, May 06, 2020

The Thing About Soulmates

It's weird but I think love is all about restraint. Anything excessive is much of a muchness. Too much of a too muchness. Be it emotion, expression of emotion, physicality - all this simply cheapens what could be beautiful. And then it dissipates and there is nothing left but contempt.

Begging the question; were you soulmates in the first place?

Isn't a lot for what passes as love and longing nothing more than a temporary addiction?

Or maybe, the fear of being alone? Settling for a warm body, any warm body to ward of the terror of loneliness?

And when the addiction passes, you're left with more emptiness.

I thought emptiness was absolute but it isn't.

There are gradations.

It's better when the love remains there, unexpressed, potent and ultimately, undefiled.

Especially when the one you love has gone away. And is never to return.

We live in a time of instant gratification, but what that  has done is spoil everything, soil everything, cheapen everything.

The person you really love, you're going to keep on loving anyway. Not because you try to, not because you "work" on it, not because you cultivate the feelings, but because it's there, in your heart, like a piece of flint, like a scar, like something apart, but always present.

It's there whether you wake up and choose to feel the ache and the longing, or whether  you wake up and choose to ignore it.

It's always there because it's not something you can help.

Like the loss of a limb, you learn to live with it.

Focus on all the other utterly exciting parts of your life, lose yourself in distractions, tell yourself that it's OK, you're fine, you're really fine and you need no one.

But the thing about soulmates is that they linger on, when everything else is gone, when everybody is gone, in the silent watches of the night, in the busy watches of the day when you're juggling all the quotidian tasks of life.

They linger on inside you and the more quickly you come to terms with what you can't change, the better.

Love is not love which alters.

So it doesn't.

It doesn't.

It just doesn't.

Friday, February 28, 2020

True value

Can he who has discovered only some of the values of whalebone and whale oil be said to have discovered the true use of the whale? Can he who slays the elephant for his ivory be said to have 'seen the elephant'? These are petty and accidental uses; just as if a stronger race were to kill us in order to make buttons and flageolets of our bones; for everything may serve a lower as well as a higher use. Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine-trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

(Henry David Thoreau)

When every step outside in the poisoned air makes me feel just a little sicker, when my throat closes over and it feels like I've been trying to swallow glass, it's better to stay at home, it's better to abide by the lockdown (a movement control order by any other name would feel just as restrictive), it's better to be alone, but for the cats.

And being alone gives me acres of time to think. When I'm not sleeping or watching Ashes of Love and feeling sorry for the Night Immortal because he became was an outsider and only managed to make himself more of one by trying to force his way inside.  So delicate, so precise, so peaceful, so heartbroken. And in the end he gained everything and lost everything. Alone in a vast hall, cold, austere, lonely.

My thoughts circle in various rutted grooves with some new ones. I realise that I don't have love in my life because at the very core of my being, I don't believe I deserve it. Like I'm rotten and unworthy and even if you can't see it, well, if you can't see it, I'll show you, I'll tell you and then I'll pull away.

I'm comfortable in this vast empty hall by myself. I've been alone for a month and a half now and maybe I'm starting to unravel, I don't know. It could be. Which is why I feel like this.

Funny how things can change from minute to minute. Funny how human beings want comfort and warmth and certainty.

What kind of monster prefers to be alone?

What kind of monster feels the world needs to be protected from her?

Nothing I do will ever make me worthy. I can't scrub out this feeling that taints everything inside me.

Not good enough.

Never good enough.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

They Dance Alone

I watch John Cusack movies and wonder what it is about him that rivets my soul. I am shaken, stirred and I can't explain it.

It's the aloneness despite the company, the profound sadness and the even more profound rage. Fingering a copy of Tenessee Wiliams' plays, talking about David Foster Wallace, trying to find some way out of this chaos and attrition.

You stop paying attention for 2 seconds and everything starts whirling into chaos...things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

I stare at the screen and try to force myself to clear this story. It's not a bad story, in fact it's rather good. But my mind slams shut and my body turns away.

I am filling up with notness.

I am moving away from everyone.

I dance alone.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Lifetime of Bad Decisions

Usually my bad decisions don't bother me that much because I am the only one who has to suffer from them. But when it affects the life of my kitten...

Moonbeam died. I took her in for surgery, basically to sew up the hernia in her diaphragm, and she didn't survive the night.

I didn't have to. No matter what the vet recommended, I could have held out. I should have taken more time to consider it. After all, she was still happy and active...she was playing, always hungry. The only difficulty was in breathing - she tended to get out of breath.

But...she was happy.

Fasting her for the night before the surgery was an ordeal. Moonbeam gets hungry like a newborn and grazes every two hours. I had to take away the food from the room and she cried and cried. My last memory of her are those cries.

She is afraid of Rose so she didn't cry with her. Only me. Because I was her Mummy. And you cry with your Mummy in a way you wouldn't with strangers.

Still...I didn't think...I knew the surgery was dangerous. I knew it. I just thought she would survive. I didn't even pray, can you imagine? I should have been at church, reciting endless Rosaries or novenas for her life.

Because it was precious.

Because I did love her.

Instead, today, they called me to say she hadn't even survived the night. They came in the morning to find her dead. That means, as critical as her condition was, there was nobody to watch her overnight and intervene.

I touched her cold, cold body, stroked her soft, soft fur.

She was my baby.

She was my kitten.

The one that everybody loved.

I could have held out and kept her close to me and fed her whenever she cried and maybe just treated her for worms (which would explain the appetite).

Instead, I took her hungry, to the vet, didn't even say goodbye properly, didn't take her into my arms and kiss her and hold her and tell her everything was going to be all right. I was so confident and callous about it.

And now she's gone, on her way to the crematorium to be reduced to ashes.

And I'll never hold her again.

As I've broken down several times, my friends tell me it's OK, I loved her, I did it for the best and not to blame myself for it.

But I do.

I can't help it.

Nothing will bring her back. She could have lived a little longer, she could have been happy. She could have still been here with me and she would have.

No more operations.

No more.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Pajamas and Valley Girls

I've just watched The House Bunny on Netflix (Colin Hanks was such a non-starter there, but then, it wasn't really about him or any guy, except for Hef, I guess) and now I have a Valley girl in my head and she's chewing gum and saying, "like, hello, like well, like whatever."

It happens some times after you watch these shows.

So because I didn't do anything remotely productive today (OK I did take the two kittens to the vet, and Boom Boom is real sick now, breathing funny) and Rose and I went shopping for the usuals (yes, I pluralised that word deliberately) but still, it feels like, I didn't write anything or clear anything so today was not productive. I am clearing one story to sort of even it out and I know I won't be sleepy after it (that's my days now, up all night because of instant menopause brought about by the operation) so maybe I could transcribe the rest of my story and maybe even write the story. That would be a productive use of my time.

I am in the middle of The Sweet Dove Died - I find Leonora Eyre quite a chilling character - so ruthlessly elegant and feelingless and about to have a major breakdown because the young man she fancies has a mistress, the typical old woman-young man scenario (no, you are not above it all, you just think you are).

I added a few stitches to the Christmas decorations I was supposed to have started working on in December.

The cat next door continues to scream piteously but after having him over once and finding that he's a bit of a psycho, I ignore him now. I need to be giving that love to my own cats, at last count, five. Maybe I can buy them a cat hammock so they can hang out comfortably.

I went online and ordered three sets of pajamas. I figure, if I am going to be spending most of my time in pajamas. I need buy comfortable pajamas. The ones I have are on their last legs. Actually, I have to go look for the pajamas I had before. Surely they have to be there, somewhere.

I think I want to put on the rest of Hot Chicks as background noise for when I clear my story.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

The New Normal

You know how we walk around like zombies, thinking this pain is normal, thinking that this is all there is, thinking that if we can just endure tonight, tomorrow will take care of itself.

And then you go for a doctor's appointment and he tells you that it is not normal, that in fact, something is terribly wrong.  And that they need to cut you up and take out pieces of you to make things right.

Except that it won't.

Things will never go back to the normal it was before things started to go so very wrong by stealth and you didn't realise, you just didn't.

And now you try to get used to this body, missing some parts, the parts that let you sleep.

Those parts would have faded anyway, with your fading youth.

Eyes bloodshot.

Body burning.

Dry, crackle, die.

Dry, crackle, die.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Number of Things

Life is so full of a number of things. I've just paid my TNB bill...just in time. I read the bill I picked up just today (if I had waited one day, it would have been too late) and peered at it uncertainly, trying to figure out how much I had to pay. RM123? Well, that must mean that I didn't pay last month's bill as I thought I had.

And then I looked more closely and realised that this bill had a yellow stamp on it - a warning - that my electricity was due to be cut tomorrow if I didn't settle last month's bill. So I logged on to my computer, it took forever to load as I had allowed the battery to run out for days, and then I tried to log onto my bank...which took even longer. And then when I had by some miracle managed to do that and positioned everything so I could pay the refused to click. It required me to log out and log in again...why? I don't know. Because that's what happens when you forget to pay your electricity bill and you have left it to the last minute and the power company decides to threaten you and you become all thumbs.

I have been on a course of Barbara Pym novels (interspersed with more serious fare such as Montaigne's essays) and I find the notion of a spinster rather romantic. Overlooked, sort of dowdy women who dress down, always full of good works - no one really sees you, but everyone knows you're there, especially when they need a favour because, after all, you have nothing better to employ your time with. Right?

We always read about the spinsters - those women of an uncertain age - from the slightly mocking vantage point of men, or even, married women. They are figures of fun. Sexually starved and so, always inordinately interested in everyone else's business.

I think I might like making cups of tea and always having a freshly (or nearly freshly) baked cake on hand for visitors who drop in unannounced to tell me their troubles and cry on my shoulder.

In one way of course, I typify the classical spinster - I live in a house full of cats. And I mean full. Last count, 7. I need to find homes for three. Maybe four. Now, more than ever, I regret that I didn't give Smeagol up for adoption when I could have. Now it's too late. So I need to give up one of my adorable kittens.

They were orphaned at a week - their mother was run over by a speeding fiend who doesn't realise that you're not supposed to rev down condo carparks - while she was heading to feed her kittens. I came back from work at 10 at night and heard one crying. I couldn't resist that cry so I went in search of the one making it and found a tiny kitten, eyes and ears not open. I gathered her up and called Veronica - I needed help as I went about in search of milk for her. We found it, in a pet shop that was already closed (I banged on the doors in desperation) and the very nice people there let me in, listen to my garbled, rather hysterical explanation of finding the kitten, and sold me a jar of goat's milk powder.

I took her home, made the milk, fed her (Veronica was still there)...and then went to bed. Only to be awakened about one and a half hours later when she was hungry again. After I had fed her, she went to sleep. But the crying went on. I went down all 17 floors and found the next kitten. There was another one crying but I couldn't find it. And this one was screaming fit to beat the band. So I took her upstairs quickly and fed her and pooped and peed her.

At eight in the morning, Veronica called me. She had found the third. Actually the guards had called her at 3 in the morning but she was so tired, she didn't go down till five. And she brought the little ginger ball of fluff up to me, almost dead. She had been warming him (they were all so cold). I fed him and put him with his sisters. The next day, I took them to the vet who said they were healthy...but how was I going to keep them when they needed to be fed every one and a half hours and I had a full time job?

Here's where I have learned: just step into the breach and do what you can. Help will come for the parts that you can't. I called my friend Jacqui - she told me she could take them temporarily as her brother-in-law was due for an operation in three weeks. Well, three weeks were all I needed. When I took them back, their eyes were open and they could stagger around like little drunks. I quickly taught them to eat wet food (rather than drink milk) and Rose taught them to use the kitty litter. In one day.

So, here was the routine. They slept in the cat carrier (there was a hot water bottle under towels there) and they would come out to feed, use the kitty litter, get some cuddles, then go back to the cat carrier to sleep. They were good kitties.

Now they are about two months old and so cute, they'll melt your glasses. I wish I could share their pictures. But Jacqui hasn't shared the ones she took yesterday, with me yet. When she does, I will. Then you'll see.

Anyway, I'm sitting here writing this, when I really should be cleaning up their kitty litter (oh, there are reams and reams of poop in the sand and some smeared all over the floor) and then reading a few essays by Montaigne, then perhaps taking a shower (I'm covered in sweat because I have just run 5km, mainly because my body has become to unwieldy and caged in flesh and I need to create some room to breathe).

I want to continue to sit and write this but I know I will feel more virtuous if I go look for the wet wipes and start tackling the poop. Then maybe I can go downstairs and deposit some of the stinky plastic bags in the trash. Also the aluminium cans and plastic bottles and glass bottle in the recycling bin.

Life is so full of a number of things. Why is one of those things always poop?