Sunday Timbits

It’s Sunday morning and I’m eating timbits, drinking a latte, and listening to my nephew give me the play by play of whatever zombie video he is currently watching.  This could go on for hours. I am feeling the urge to write for the first time in a long time and I know that I have to strike while the iron’s hot.

 

As of this month, I have decided to say “yes” to more propositions.  So when my BIL asked if I wanted to go for a hike this morning, I said yes.  Cody and I are able to spend a lot of time outside together as he is very active, I enjoy a moderate level of exercise activity, and my sister is generally opposed to exercise.  So we kayak, we hike, he runs.

 

We head up to Waldenwoods together where it is exactly three miles around the lake.  It has been almost a year since I have gone around the lake. The last time we were out here together it was freezing cold and we were trudging through three feet of snow.   I asked him to leave me behind multiple times, but he refused to. This time we agreed that he would run, I would walk, and when he got to the end, he would turn around and meet me where I was and we would walk the rest of the way together.  Before we parted ways he asked if I had GPS on my phone. He said that if I got turned around, I just had to follow the dirt path. He took off and, after about five minutes, he was out of my sight.

 

 

I was fine for about half a mile and then I took a sharp turn into the thick of the woods and all dirt disappeared under a thick blanket of leaves.  It took me a moment before I realized that if I actually paid attention I could see some of his footsteps in the leaves where he disturbed them enough to show the mud underneath.  It was a very slight difference, but enough to get me back on the right path. A mile in I came across a tree that had fallen across the path. It was about waist height so I either had to go under it or over it.  I pushed on it and it gave enough that I knew I could swing my leg over it and then swing the other leg over. Cut to me straddling the log, my hands slipping on the snow, and me branch punching myself in the crotch with the snow covered branch.  That will wake you up!

 

I did some wide legged walking while I waited for my crotch to stop throbbing and thaw out.  It was a few more yards in when I heard the forest around my come to life as a giant buck ran across my path about 200 yards up ahead.  And that is when my first realization happened. My heart was pounding because it took me a moment to realize that it was not a giant wolf about to devour me.  And then I was worried that where one deer was, more could follow. So I stayed completely still as I waited to be trampled to death by the hooves of 12 prancing deer.  Yet, I didn’t even think about grabbing my phone. I just wanted to enjoy it, and not miss a minute of it (the moment, not actually being trampled to death). And then I realized that I am the only person in the entire world who will see that.  No one will watch it on tv, no one will thumb past it like another hit on You Tube, that moment was for me and me alone. In that moment, it was just me, alone in the woods, enjoying all of the nature around me. It was a great. I then began to ponder the difference between a good and a great moment.  I realized that in every great moment, I have never felt the urge to capture it or interrupt it by taking a picture or video. It is like I have felt that to introduce a foreign object into the moment to record it, I would somehow fracture the magic, and it would feel so intrusive for someone to look upon that moment in the future without truly being able to appreciate all of the feeling as well.   I just want to immerse myself in it because I want to savor it and keep it as a gift for only me to rewatch over and over again. I have been fortunate to have so very many good moments over the last few years, but I find that, now, I am truly in search of so very many great moments.

 

As I came upon the second mile the trail got confusing and I had to make a choice between two directions.  I made a poorly educated guess and walked to the left. I started to get the sense that I was going the wrong way, so I took out my GPS and had a look.  As I stared at the map I understood the basic idea of where I should go, but then I had the embarrassing thought that that still didn’t really help me. Damn it!  Why didn’t my mother ever let me be a Girl Scout? Or even a Daisy, that’s probably all of the training that I would have needed. So I kept walking as I watched my little blue line on the map.  I walked just far enough to grow a little appendage on the map to see that I was walking away from the lake instead of around it. And there was realization number two.

 

When we are younger we are all given a spoken, or unspoken, map of expectations to live by.  We will go school, graduate, go to college, graduate, meet someone, get married, grow your carreer, and start a family, grow old, and die.  We “see” this map, or the one we create for ourselves, and we have a general idea or where we are going and the path we will take to get there.  But the problem with a map isn’t always that you don’t know how to read it, but more often that you don’t know where you are on the map to start moving along.  I knew where the lake was on the map, but I didn’t know where I was in relation to the lake on the map, so it didn’t help me until I started moving and could see in which direction I was going.

 

I went to school, graduated, went to Americorps, went to college, graduated, and grew my career.  I have been occasionally frustrated by when I will hit the next step and I realized now that so much anxiety comes from not knowing when that next step is going to happen.  I would do myself a good service by taking a step back from trying to decide where to go on the map, and more time really figuring out where I actually am on the map.

 

Cody finished his three miles and turned around to meet back up with me.  We started walking to the end of the trail together and I started thinking about how he would complete six miles in the time it took me to do three.  And so began realization three. I have struggled in the past to be active because I have not felt compelled to be active in the same ways as other people.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the half marathons I’ve done and the anticipation of more to come, but I have felt slightly judged by people in the “running community” that my 13.1 miles are not as significant as their 13.1 miles because they did it faster than me.  But that’s the thing I needed to accept. I get enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment out of pushing myself harder, not out of pushing myself faster. I like climbing more hills with more obstacles, as opposed to getting to the end sooner than I did before. And that’s okay.  The real success is in pushing myself, not in HOW I push myself.

 

Damn, I really needed those woods today!  Thanks, Coco.

 

Update: 50 Adventures and Things to Do

I figured that it was time for an update, as I am halfway through my vacation.

Incomplete Tasks

  1. Pay Bills (I’ve thought about doing this, but I haven’t quite done it, yet.  Still looking for a sponsor for this one.)
  2. Do Laundry (I’ve done some, but there is still plenty more to do.)
  3. Read an entire book just for pleasure. (Not yet.  I’m running out of time to read an entire book.)
  4. Finish D’s mermaid blanket. (I bought the fabric for the tail, but I have not done anything else.)
  5. Visit the Christmas Story House.  (I have plans to complete this on Friday morning.  I’ve had two tickets for four years, today I realized that I have lost one of them.)
  6. Edit half of B’s book. (I started this, but I only got through two chapters.  This is a MUCH longer process than I thought. It’s strange to read each word individually to check for errors, as opposed to reading a whole sentence at a time.)
  7. Oktoberfest with my bros. (SOOOOOOOOOOON!)
  8. Ride the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad.  (This was supposed to happen this morning, but I had to call a rain delay.)
  9. Make dandelion wine. (I haven’t given up on this yet, partly because it just seems so ridiculous.)
  10. Write out goal cards for work.  (Ew, work!)
  11. Bake bread.  (Haven’t given up on this, but I’m also not holding my breath.)
  12. Look up the symphony schedule.  (I know that this should be a really easy task to complete. But I actually need to know when a specific person is performing.)
  13. Write a letter to my old best friend. (I don’t know if I can do this.  I honestly don’t know why our friendship ended so I don’t even know where I would begin.)
  14. Work on vision board. (This is kind of in progress.)
  15. Clean out car. (Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.)
  16. Finance task.  (This is right up there with “pay bills”.  I could, I just don’t wanna.)
  17. Set up spending card. (Nope.)
  18. Make road trip goodie bags.  (This will probably get done on Friday, or not at all.)
  19. Lunch with S.  (Tomorrow!!!!)
  20. Plan a party.  (Perhaps.)
  21. Halloween plans. (Sort of, but most of my friends don’t plan as far in advance as I do.)
  22. Make a debt tracker goal chart. (Ugh, I don’t want to ruin a good time.)
  23. Prime Ikea drawers.  (Meh.)
  24. Bake chocolate chip cookies. (Maybe tomorrow.)
  25. Per D’s suggestion, make some fancy kitty cat collars. (Lol.  I think my cats have been spared this fate… for now.)
  26. House task. (If I don’t finish this, there will always be other days.)
  27. Clean out work binder. (More work!)
  28. Work two shifts with the Red Cross.  (One down, one to go.)
  29. Personal task.  (I honestly can’t remember what this was, so we’ll see if I manage to complete it.)

Completed Tasks and Adventures

  1.  Update my blog.  (Once this is posted, I will have updated it twice.)
  2.  Make a plan.  (Oh boy did I ever make a plan!  I’m excited for some changes and newness.)
  3. Go to a cosmetology school for a haircut. (This was a fairly delightful experience.  I received a good haircut and I only paid $15 for it.  I asked the girl is she actually gets the money and she said that they are not allowed to received compensation in any way since they are in school.  I realized that SHE is paying to go to that school.  Which actually means that SHE paid to cut MY hair.  How weird, but fantastic.) 
  4. Make a trip to Costco. (I managed to leave there without the two things I went there to buy.)
  5. Doctor’s Appointment. (I was all pleased with myself for getting there five minutes early. I am NEVER early.  When I went to check in, it turns out that I was 25 minutes late.  Dang nabit!)
  6. Write work schedules for the rest of the year.  (Holy shit!  I legit wrote all of my schedules until New Year’s Day!  That means that I will only have to do some updates. Here’s to super productivity!)
  7. Talk with T. (Done and done.)
  8. Mow the lawn, finally. (So… my lawn is cut, but it was not done by me. I don’t know if the execution matters more or the completion of the task.  One of my friendly neighbors came over and did it for me, for a nominal fee.)
  9. Call J. (We were finally able to connect today and actually had a 40 minute conversation.  Our lives tend to be very hectic so we mostly update each other once a month or so via voicemail.  It was such a delight to get to talk voice to voice.)
  10. Dinner with L. (I was able to do this tonight, and I even had my first sponsor.  Thanks for dinner!)
  11. Spend time at the park. (I am really glad I fulfilled this adventure. It was so nice to just sit by the lake for a few hours and watch nature go by.  I even saw a cat out for a stroll with his owner.  Whenever I’m down by the lake, I always wonder why I don’t spend more time down there.)
  12. House task. (Like a boss!)
  13. House task. (I got sooooo much done in my house today. Very proud of myself.)
  14. House task. (I got so much done in my house, that I switched this to dinner with P. We had a delightful night and it was much needed.)

 

Postponed Tasks and Adventures

  1.  Get my conceal carry permit. (Finances are forcing me to put this off.  I may, however, contact the NRA to see if they would sponsor this endeavor.)
  2.  Go geocaching. (I feel like this is kind of the the old school Pokemon Go.)
  3. Experience a sensory deprivation pod.  (So, I looked into this more and I discovered that it is $80/hour. So…. much like my CCP, this is going on the back burner.)
  4. Go to the art museum. (I’ve been before, so I’m okay with not going this week.)
  5. Get a pedicure. (Let’s be honest, my feet go in my shoes.  I think I can save myself some money and paint my tootsies myself.)
  6. Go kayaking on the river. (There’s just not enough time.)

50 Adventures and Things to Do

Two weeks ago I walked into the bookstore looking for inspiration.  I needed motivation.  I needed direction.  I was feeling stagnant and I needed something to jump start me to get me going again and back on the right track.  I went to the “Self Help” section and was pleasantly surprised to see that they have renamed it the “Personal Growth” section.  I think that is much more fitting, after all, there is such a stigma with self-help, or any help for that matter.

As I looked over the spines and read the titles, I couldn’t seem to find what I was looking for.  I was about to walk out when a small colorful book caught my eye.  It wasn’t a book on how to handle stress, how to plan better, live better, organize better.  It was a book of sparks on how to live.  And that’s when I realized that that is exactly what I was looking for.  I needed something to remind me to get back to living.  I have gotten so caught up in working all day long.  Work, sleep, work, sleep, work, sleep.  It’s entirely exhausting and unfulfilling.  So I bought the book and the journal and I’m ready to get back to living.

I’m on vacation for the next week and I thought that this would be a good way to start.  I am a planner and a list maker, so I decided to make a list of “50 Things to do and Adventures to Have”.  Some of them are just everyday things that need to get done, but some of them are story makers just waiting to happen.    So… let the adventures begin.

  1. Pay Bills
  2. Do Laundry
  3. Read an entire book just for pleasure.
  4. Finish D’s mermaid blanket.
  5. Update my blog.
  6. Visit the Christmas Story House.
  7. Edit half of B’s book.
  8. Oktoberfest with my bros.
  9. Ride the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad.
  10. Get my Conceal Carry Permit.
  11. Make dandelion wine.
  12. Make a plan.
  13. Write out goal cards for work.
  14. Go geocaching.
  15. Bake bread.
  16. Experience a sensory deprivation pod.
  17. Look up the symphony schedule.
  18. Go to the art museum.
  19. Go to a cosmetology school for a haircut.
  20. Write a letter to my old best friend.
  21. Work on vision board.
  22. Get a pedicure.
  23. Clean out car.
  24. Make a trip to Costco.
  25. Doctor’s appointment.
  26. Write work schedules for the rest of the year.
  27. Finance task.
  28. Set up spending card.
  29. Make road trip goodie bags.
  30. Dinner with S.
  31. Plan a party.
  32. Talk with T.
  33. Halloween plans.
  34. Make a debt tracker goal chart.
  35. Mow the lawn, finally.
  36. Prime Ikea drawers.
  37. Call J.
  38. Brunch with L.
  39. Spend time at the park.
  40. Bake chocolate chip cookies.
  41. Per D’s suggestion, make some fancy kitty cat collars.
  42. Go kayaking on the river.
  43. House task.
  44. House task.
  45. House task.
  46. Clean out work binder.
  47. Work two shifts with the Red Cross.
  48. House task.
  49. Personal task.

I Hate Your Addiction….

Screenshot_2015-08-27-22-21-36-1

I hate your addiction.

I hate that I know the lingo of your damned existence; the way the words so easily fall from my mouth as we discuss things like “steps”, “triggers”, “and paths to recovery”.

I hate that even 200 miles away I can tell the difference between a call that is missed and a call that is ignored.

I hate that I have learned the rhythm of your tides and I can feel when you are being pulled from the sober river waters and pushed out into the drunken sea.

I hate that your love for me has been drowned by the liquid you crave as I patiently wait for your love to surface for air.

I hate that I can hear your voice as you say my name and know if the next word you are going to say to me is a lie.

I hate that you have made me the keeper of your secret, when sharing your secret would free us both.

I hate that, day by day, you steal away the dreams and adventures that I had planned for us, along with the worlds we were going to create and explore.

I hate that you were once my Salvador Dali, but you have become too encumbered by holding your vice that you have no room left in your hand to hold a brush.

I hate that I can’t yell, I can’t get mad, and I can’t lash out because I fear that every conversation will be our last and, if it is, I want you to leave this world with my love by your side.

I hate your addiction.

I love you.

I love that you are still the boy I became friends with when I was twelve years old and was afraid that I wasn’t going to make any friends.

I love that we used to laugh through class as we would cheat on science tests because you knew I would always get an “A”.

I love that you sat beside me through my depression and never judged me when the tears would fall.

I love that you agreed to any and every idea I had because you knew that, if we were together, it would always be an adventure.

I love that you were always the last one to watch me go and the first one to welcome me home.

I love that you call me every single day in January to wish me a happy birthday because you can never quite remember which day is actually my birthday.

I love that you believe that I am amazing even when my self-doubt threatens to take over.

I love that I can’t picture a life without you because you have become a constant fixture in my heart.

I love that, after all these years, you are still the first person I run to with every failure and every triumph, that you are the man that has loved me more honestly than any other man ever has, and that you are still my very best friend.

I love you.

I hate your addiction because I can’t hate you!

What I Learned from Spending the Weekend with My Nine and Twelve Year Old Nephews

  1. They fart more often than they don’t fart.
  2. Kids are hungry ALL! THE! TIME! How is that even possible?  I mean, how is that even possible if you don’t have a tapeworm taking up residence in your abdomen?  We would have a full meal and as early as 30 minutes after we were finished one, or both, would say that they were hungry.  But… I JUST fed you.  I’m having a hard enough time giving you three meals a day (I have a hard enough time feeding MYSELF three meals a day), I can’t be expect to feed you six times.  Also, if you require six feedings in a day, that information should be included on your “Proper Care and Handling” papers.
  3. It’s relatively easy to keep the kids from eating lots of junk food when you only have them for a weekend.

“Can I have fudge for dinner?”

“No!”

“Can I have fudge for dinner?”

“I said, no!”

“Can I have fudge for dinner?”

‘For the last time, NO!”

I imagine that there has to come a point when a parent has reached their wits end and the conversation goes more like this.

(For the 27th time) “Can I have fudge for dinner?”

“Oh for fuck’s sake!  I don’t care!  I really don’t care!  Eat the fudge!  Eat all of the damn fudge!”

  1. They lift the toilet seat up yet somehow still manage to pee on the TOP of the seat. Like….   Does the pee hit the lid and ricochet back onto the top of the seat?  And if that’s the case, I would rather they just pee with the seat down and wipe it off.
  2. They don’t wear watches but constantly want to know what time it is, how long it will take to get somewhere, and how much time they will spend once they do get there.
  3. Boys, much like elements, have a natural state in which they exist. For example, hydrogen is a gas at room temperature, gold is a solid at room temperature.  For boys, their natural state is to be wrestling.  I don’t mean just aggressive wrestling (of course that happens too). I mean a constant state of motion to establish dominance over one another.  If their feet are in close proximity, they are wrestling with their feet.  If their thumbs are in close proximity, they will have a thumb war.  With the exception of when they are in a resting state, they are in constant wrestling motion.
  4. Even though they may fight all day, in the quite moments they are still really affectionate with each other. They may be playing games on their phone, but they are snuggled up as they do so, because it is still okay for them to enjoy the closeness and security that their brotherhood offers.
  5. While they are nine and twelve I can still make them laugh. I can be a storyteller and spin them a tale of make believe and they will still offer me any details that I may have left out, instead of questing the authenticity of my stories.
  6. While they are nine and twelve I can still snuggle with them on the couch while we watch a movie and fall asleep.
  7. While they are nine and twelve they still believe that I know the answer to every question. They trust me when I say that the world is beautiful and their dreams are theirs for the taking. While they are nine and twelve, they are perfect!

Sometimes It Takes Five Years to Pass Through All Five Stages of Grief

Six years ago today I received the worst phone call of my life.  I listened in disbelief as I was told that my home was burning down.  I very quickly entered the stage of denial and stayed there even as I stood in front of the burned remains of my life.  This isn’t happening.  This can’t be real.  I don’t deserve this.  I slept with denial each night as I thought if I just prayed hard enough it would all be just a bad dream.  I was suffocated by denial each morning when I woke up and was confused by the cold and impersonal surroundings of a rented hotel room.  I clung tightly to my denial even as I begged the veterinarian to do everything she could to save my precious cat, Peter Pan.

I didn’t move past the denial stage until the vet told me that Peter Pan’s burns were too sever and that I had to put him to sleep.  That is when the anger began.  It didn’t creep in quietly like a robber in the night trying to steal whatever happiness I had left.  The anger came rushing in like a Tsunami drowning my soul.  I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t breathe, and I pushed away all of the people who were trying to help me.  I felt like my insides had become a vacuum where no light could possibly enter.  I had never before, or since, felt a darkness such as that.  Anger is not a place to live, and I knew that I could never survive if I stayed there.

Bargaining, for me, came with the denial.  Even though I couldn’t believe that it was all really happening, I still kept bargaining to change it.  In those moments, I felt like I would agree to whatever dogma could reverse my fate.

The depression lasted the longest and, in many ways, was the stage that only I saw.  A month after the fire I moved to Cleveland where I was completely isolated.  I wanted to be anonymous, I wanted to start over, I wanted to decide who and how someone would learn of my past.  I wanted to wallow in my sadness, and I did, for two months.  For two long months I cried myself to sleep every single night.  Each day I would come home from work with the intention of working on my insurance paperwork to receive the additional replacement funds allowed to me.  Yet, each night, I would pull out the itemized list of everything that I had lost and I would break down and vow to work on it the next day.  Day after day passed, until I finally just gave up all together.  The money would sit there until I was ready to claim it.

Days turned into weeks.  I made new friends. Weeks turned into months.  I shared my story with those whom I trusted.  Months turned into years.  Six months ago I was cleaning out my closet when I got sidetracked looking at pictures.  While I was sitting there a feeling of peace washed over me.  I looked around at my “new” life and I knew… I had finally reached acceptance.  As I took in my surroundings I was overcome with the thought, “I want for nothing”.  This had nothing to do with the physical things I had replaced and everything to do with the life I had created.  My life is full.

The next day I pulled out my insurance paperwork, gathered a few receipts, and contacted my agent.  He cut me a check for what I had turned in and I asked him to close my claim.  I walked away from $10,000 in replacement costs.  That money means nothing to mean.  Anything that could be replaced has been replaced.  Those things that could never be replaced, well…. $10,000 is not nearly enough.  After I entered this place of acceptance, I randomly decided to read a book that had been on my shelf for quite some time.  Once I finished the book, I knew that I didn’t simply randomly pick it, it picked me.  In the last chapter the author writes,

“That’s the thing about losing it all. You realize you’re fine without it. When you give it all away – the stuff – you learn that it is impossible to lose whatever it is that you cannot live without.  Love was right.  The thing you need is unshakable, untakable.  What you need is not in things, it’s in you.  It’s Love.”

Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On , Warrior

So today I write to you, not as a victim, but as a warrior.  I have overcome!  Not just once in my life, but time and time again.  I am a warrior because I never once gave up.  I am a warrior because my family loves me, supports me, and let me take out my anger on them when it was destroying me to keep it in.  I am a warrior because I was strong enough and smart enough to let new people into my life who helped change my life for the better.  I am a warrior because you believed that I was and because I believed you.  I will never be glad for my experience, but I know that losing “everything” is what allowed me to have this amazing and beautiful life here in Cleveland, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  So thank you to everyone who waited patiently by my side for me to get here.  I am finally, truly, home!

Father’s Day 2015: I Remember the Shoes

Dad wedding

One of the worst things about loss is that it is completely unpredictable. You never know how it is going to feel from one moment to the next, or one year to the next, so you can’t protect yourself from it.  A friend of mine who had never experienced the loss of a loved one before asked me how it felt.  The best way that I could describe it was to say that it is like walking through your house in the dark.  Without really thinking about it, you know how many steps it takes to get from the bottom of the stairs to the kitchen floor.  You know how closely you need to walk to the wall to avoid hitting the kitchen table.  But every now and then, someone will bump into the couch and move it over just one tiny little inch.  One tiny little inch is all it takes.  You run right into it, jamming your toe, and before you can stop yourself you are withering in pain while a string of expletives escapes from your mouth.  You learn how to navigate the darkness, but you cannot predict how subtle changes in life will sneak up on you and trigger a pain that is always there, just below the surface.

Today, this picture was the couch.  I stared at this picture and what I realized was that I remember those shoes.  I remember how much those shoes hurt me and how desperate I was to take them off.  I stood holding the hand of greatness, bathed in immeasurable love, yet I can’t remember how that felt.  Instead, I remember the shoes.

I am a firm believer that love, much like energy, “can neither be created nor destroyed, but it transforms from one form to another”.  I know that my father’s love did not leave this world when he did.  It simply transformed from one form to another and I found it in a million little ways over the years.

I found my father’s love in my Uncle Greg and my Uncle Dan who both stepped up in their own ways to be a father figure to my siblings and me.  Through working on the house, occasionally helping with the bills, supporting our endeavors, providing love and guidance, and sharing their stories of our father with us.

I found my father’s love in my Grandpa Tony, a man who had no blood ties to us, but still loved us as he did his own grandchildren.  His love for my father has brought me so much comfort over the years.  Even now, 29 years later, the mere mention of my father’s name stirs up visible emotion within him.  He is a reminder that I haven’t glorified my father; he really was as great as we all knew him to be.

I found my father’s love in Frank, the man who married my mother.   He became a father to me when I was 19 years old and already knew all the ways of the world.  He loved me through my arrogance and helped me to grow into a person who now knows that she doesn’t know everything. He challenged me to learn more, do more, and be more and he supported me every step of the way.

I found my father’s love in my Pappy, a man who knew me for only a moment but still offered me the world.  We met in the midst of a disaster ten years ago, and I still think about him all of the time. Somehow he saw both the little girl inside me and the woman I had become and he believed that I was capable of anything.

I found my father’s love in my “chosen father”, my Jack; another man who left this world long before I was ready for him to go.  Jack loved me with a quiet acceptance that I never once questioned.  He nurtured the learner, the explorer, and the wanderer in me.  He showed me that life is light, music, art, and taking care of things that grow.  He reminded me that there is power in silence, there is peace in silence, and silence could bring me the stillness I desired.

So while I look at this picture and I only remember the shoes, I know that my father’s love was there as I clung to his finger, and it has been there every day of my life in all of the men who have loved me with my father’s love.

Happy Father’s Day!

If You’re a Cat and You’ve Used up Eight of Your Lives, Please Don’t Hang Around My Yard

There are some people in my life who are of the mindset that I ask far too many crying people what is wrong. They have said that this habit of interacting with strangers involving strange circumstances will be my eventual downfall and that I will never learn my lesson. (However, I think the “sex trafficking incident” in Toledo may have scared me straight.) Tonight, I successfully proved all of those people wrong. The problem with the story I’m about to tell you is that it is sad, disturbing, and I’m not really sure which details to share first. I guess I will just start with what most of you already know, which is that I have a lot of random cats who like to hang out in my yard. These cats always seem to come from the house behind me. I have never seen the owners of this house, but I constantly hear an electric saw and hammering coming from their side of the fence, even though I have NEVER seen anything being built or repaired in the three years that I have lived here.

Back to the point. Today I took some trash to the curb and literally gasped when I saw a very dead cat lying just on the other side of the curb.  He had the same markings as my Ducky and it took my brain a few seconds to realize that I had just walked past my Ducky on the way out of my house to take out the trash, so this poor soul obviously wasn’t my Ducky.  Once I accepted that it was not my Ducky I was still left with a few problems to resolve.  One, I had a feeling (though no actual knowledge) that this cat may belong to the people behind me. Two, if it was their cat shouldn’t “someone” tell them that their cat had died? Three, if people let their cats out during the day, do they expect to know if something happens to said cats? Four, it was 85 degrees here today and a dead cat in the street is bad news for everybody. Five, how do you tell a complete stranger that a cat, which may or may not belong to them, is dead?

I used my “phone a friend” option to call my sister, L., and ask her opinion.  She thought it was best to just dispose of the cat and move on with my life.  I was about to, and then I got in my car and drove around the block.  I pulled up in front of the house behind me and immediately thought, “Yeah, I’m probably not getting out of my car.” There were four totally beat up vehicles parked in the driveway.  There was an enclosed front porch which is awkward because, would I knock on the door to the front porch, or walk in and knock on the actual front door?  That question became irrelevant when I realized that every square inch of the porch, from floor to ceiling, was completely covered with random crap.  So! Much! Stuff!  I am not exaggerating when I say that you will likely see this house one day…. on an episode of Hoarders. I decided that, if I did knock on either door, I would probably never be heard from again and the dead cat would have just been a ploy to kidnap me.

I returned home and waited for the sun to set before I went about the business of disposing of the poor departed feline.  When I finally went outside I took an empty pizza box, a garbage bag, and some rubber yard gloves with me.  I was pleased to see that the street was empty of onlookers and the passers-by in cars wouldn’t pay me much attention. ****The following details may be disturbing to some readers, so feel free to stop reading now.**** My idea was to shimmy the cat on to the pizza box and just put it all in the trash bag. That was my idea.  That is not what actually happened.  I started to shimmy the box under the cat and promptly went into a gagging fit.  I had not accounted for the fact that rigor mortis had set in and that this was, apparently, the best fed street cat and weighed in close to 15 pounds.  My one pizza box coupled with my gagging was not going to get the job done.  So I went back inside and found another piece of heavier cardboard to use.   I returned to the task at hand with the previous gastrointestinal threat of vomiting still looming close on the horizon and slung a string of expletives in to the night air. “I’m sorry.  I’m really sorry that this happened to you, but please just get in the fucking bag!” *Huet, huet!!* “Holy hell!  Why are you so heavy??!! Please just work with me here!”  *More gagging sounds*  At this point I stood upright and realized that a neighbor a few doors down was taking out his trash and had become interested in whatever it was that I was doing. Instead of going back inside, he actually sat down on his stoop to watch the rest of the show.

I re positioned myself so that I could wiggle the cardboard from both sides, like they do with the spatula things at a hibachi grill when they are moving your food from the grill to your plate. As I was completely engrossed in what I was doing, I did not hear the shirtless gentleman who was running down the sidewalk until he was directly behind me.  As soon as I noticed him, I let out an unintentional yelp, suspiciously dropped the bag I was holding that now had a dead cat halfway inside it, and spun around. He appeared to be just as startled as I was and apologized for frightening me.  I laughed it off and told him that it was no problem and secretly hoped that he didn’t know what I was attempting to do. I quickly finished with this ridiculous endeavor, tied the bag as quickly as I could, ignored the fact that part of his tail was coming out of the top of the bag, and ran inside to forget that any of this ever happened.

If I had any doubts before about being the “Crazy Neighborhood Cat Lady”, all of those doubts dissolved after this experience. Anyone who was watching had to have though that I was a total nut job. Tonight I will say a prayer for the kitty and hope that I don’t get ticketed or arrested for disposing of a dead animal in my trash.

Book 3 of 94: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

I purchased this book at a Scholastic Warehouse Book Sale back in November and I just got around to reading it.  I was halfway through when I thought, “I have to be missing something.”  As it turns out, this book is the second book in a three part young adult series.  Of course it is.

Summary: Part love story, part werewolf mystery this is the tantalizing tale of one person struggling to not be who they are, and another struggling to be who they are meant to become.  Of course there is the constant undercurrent of teenage angst that accompanies a book of this genre, but honestly it wasn’t distracting from the story at all.

My Three Main Takeaways From Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Number 1:

When a werewolf transforms back into a human they are always naked, thus I will never be a werewolf.  Seriously, who wants to keep waking up in the nude in public places?  That would be awful.  I am good at using humor to diffuse an awkward situation, but I’m sure I would run out of material after the tenth or eleventh time of appearing naked in front of my friends.

Number 2:

I am not unique in my struggle.  I have always felt like there was something bigger, better and more powerful deep within me struggling to surface.  Like there is a life that I am supposed to be living that is just outside my reach.  Like there is a person inside me that I am meant to become, but I fight that person because I’m too afraid to leave who I am right now behind so that I may become this better version of myself.  I wonder if I will have the strength to meet my inner wolf one day.

Number 3:

I will always love a love story.

Who should read this book?

  • Young adults whose parents “just don’t understand”.
  • Anyone who thinks they might have been bit by a werewolf and are curious about the symptoms.

Who should not read this book?

  • Vampires; they would probably be annoyed by the sappy werewolf story line.
  • Hypochondriacs as they will likely be convinced that their next fever is actually a sign that they are turning into a werewolf.

Three books down, 91 to go!

Stiefvater, M. (2011). Linger. Scholastic, Inc.

Books, Books, Books: I Am a Hoarder of Books

My name is Erin Elise and I am a hoarder of books.  I’ve always known this on one level or another, but I haven’t always been willing to admit it.  I’m finally ready to admit it to the world!

The weather in Cleveland, much like everywhere else in the U.S., has been frigid at best and downright murderous at worst.  I had to stand outside for a full minute the other day and I was ready to just give up on any hope of feeling warmth ever again and let go of my grasp on this world.  It was tragic and it broke my spirit just a little bit.  I have a feeling that that is not what Elsa meant when she said, “Let it go.”

While I know there are snow bunnies in this country who feel delight in this weather, I have become less like a bunny and more like a bear, a grouchy bear that is huddling deep in my cave and is angry that I am not sleeping until the world thaws.  Seriously though, how long until the world thaws?  Today I decided to stop being such a Grumpy Gus and make use of all of the time I am spending indoors.  I started the cleaning projects that I have been putting off for too long, like cleaning my craft room, organizing my junk drawer, and finally washing those Tupperware containers in my fridge that have long forgotten what it is that they hold.

During my deep cleaning process I kept finding books all over the place, like in every single room of my house.  The thing about these books though is that these are the books that I have been collecting to read “someday”.  These books are from bookstores, Amazon, library book sales, and most recently, a Scholastic Warehouse Book Sale.  I went to a book sale knowing that I already had plenty of books at home still to read.  I can’t help it though.  When I see a book sale I start to feel a panicking deep inside.  I start to feel like there might be a book there that I HAVE to read, like there might be a book there that could change my life.  I will think about it until I drive myself crazy and eventually just go to the damn sale.  I know it’s not entirely normal.  I know I have a problem.

So today I gathered all of these “someday” books and brought them into one room.  I organized them into their own categories and came up with the following inventory:

Fiction – 36

Biographies, Memoirs, Personal Essays – 20

Self-Help / Personal Improvement – 19

Business, Management, Leadership – 12

Random Non-Fiction – 5

Religious – 2

That is a whopping total of 94 books!!! Ninety-four books!  I know some people who don’t even have 94 books in their home, let alone 94 in their home on their “someday” shelf.  To read all of those books this year I would need to read roughly eight a month, or two a week.  Yikes!  To make matters worse, most of the biographies are 700-1000 pages long, so that’s not getting done in a week.  But, I will give it my best shot.

I, Erin Elise, endeavor to read 94 books by the end of this year.  Furthermore, as I need to stop hoarding books, once I am done with them, I will pass them along to their next home.  I will make an effort to review each book.  This review might be a paragraph, a sentence, or perhaps even just a word.  So if you see a book on my page that interests you (if I really enjoyed the book I don’t intend to give it away), let me know and I will send if your way.  Be forewarned though that I highlight most of my books.

So, enough writing, I’ve got some serious reading to do!

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