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?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

You Stopped Crying

You stopped crying because everyone told you how pathetic you are. That you should get over him already. That he wasn't worth it. You didn't believe them but you hardened your heart until it was nothing but an empty Coke can you could take out and kick around when you felt like it. It didn't matter. It was just your heart. This pathetic old heart that got broken because it didn't deserve to have its love returned.

You stopped crying because the tears and the source of the tears dried up. You stopped crying because something inside you died.

And you felt it die. And you knew that the world was a little duller, a little more bleary, that the colours you had before, were now gone. You stopped crying because you got used to the pain. This dull ache inside that twinges at times, but doesn't bleed. Not anymore. Your blood is thick now, it moves more slowly. It clots quickly. It is not thin and sparkling like champagne leaping through your, nothing makes your pulse race or your heart skip a beat.

You stopped crying but your eyes are shaded, hollowed, haunted. Not so as anyone would notice. But enough so you know that deep inside you, it's gone.

He's gone.

And your pain is not his business. He doesn't care but it is not for him to care.

In fact all he feels is disgust because your pain was so potent, so public and it rained down recriminations on his head. His friends said, how could you? How could you? Look at her! Don't you have a heart? How could you do this?

And he said, I can't pretend to love where I don't love. And please stop making me feel guilty about it. I want to move on with my life. You're either my friend or hers, and if you're hers, please just leave me alone. I don't want to hear it.

I'm tired of it.

I'm tired of her.

I'm tired of you.

You stopped crying because they told you he said that. What sort of fool could continue to love after you heard something like that?

You could.

You loved because you couldn't help yourself. You loved like a disease, an affliction. A weakness. A giving way. A tearing. A dissolution.

But you forced yourself to stop crying.

You also stopped laughing. But nobody noticed. They were just so glad you'd stopped crying.

And you stopped loving.

You wanted to stop breathing. But that was not allowed. They rained their voices down on you. Their concern. And you didn't want to disappoint them.

You were pathetic.

You knew that.

But they didn't have to know that.

So you went skydiving and wrote about it. You ate food and you took pictures of it. You joined clubs and you told the world, hey look at me, look at this, look how happy I am.

You smiled. You forced the light into your eyes. You posted your pictures on every social media platform you could lay your hands on. You wanted to be everywhere. In everything.

No one could miss you.

Look at my fabulous fabulous life, you said.

Look at all these friends. My friends. People I hang out with. People who care about me.

Look at how I'm never alone. Not even for a day.

Look at me.

Look at me!

LOOK AT ME!!!!!!

I'm not crying anymore, do you see?

I'm not crying.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

My Book

So my book is out. And I've run through the first very limited printing of 50 copies. Who would have thunk it? I thought 50 would be way more than enough. But, apparently not. So I'm printing 100 more.

I have lists of people to send it out to, people I want to give a copy (because they are not depressed enough, and a little more sadness is always good).

These are strange times.

I can't believe that I printed so many copies, that I'm doing readings and parties and book launches and signing the copies and and and...putting myself out there, as if my life depended on it.

And, while all this is going on, putting together the next book...and the next.

Why the urgency?

Beats me. I really have no idea.