This Is How A Heart Breaks

You know those PSA commercials where they show someone texting in their car and suddenly getting broadsided by a semi-truck in slow motion?  When you see it, you’re shocked, frightened, horrified … and may even think about what the driver could have done differently to prevent such a terrible thing from happening.

blue heart

My life felt like that a little less than two weeks ago.  One minute, I was out at dinner with my significant other, my boyfriend of 7+ years, enjoying ourselves, and the next I felt I’d been slammed into by an accordion bus, so hard that it wrapped around both sides of me and squashed me in the middle. He split up with me because even though he loved me, he was no longer “in love” with me.  Even now, I’m still bewildered and shaking my head like I got a concussion or something.  And I’m afraid to slow down and stop to think about it, because if I do, I’ll be overwhelmed with despair – it chases me like some nameless figure.

Maybe I should look at this as a blessing, somehow.  I can now get on with my regularly scheduled life.  Whatever that was.  I’m not spending my evenings driving around between El Cajon and Escondido, or Rancho Bernardo to El Cajon and then back up again to Escondido – because he has two dogs who can’t stay home alone and I have six cats who can.  So on the nights I don’t have my kids with me, every other week, I’m going up to his house to spend time together and in between trying to make sure I’m still working a full-time job and occasionally saying hello to my cats. I can get back to learning yoga or exercising or expanding my mind and my horizons, learning to play the piano, whatever – now that I have all these free evenings.  Maybe that was the problem, I forgot who I was, or who I was aspiring to be, somewhere along those past 7 years and he got bored with me.

The reality is, I had no regularly scheduled life outside of him.  My future was planned out with him, both the near and the distant.  In a couple of years, when my kids (or at least one of them) would be grown and off to college, and the other would at least be able to drive a car to high school, we could move to a different part of town, figure out a house arrangement that would accommodate the cats and the dogs in some kind of semi-harmony.  We could both retire, and when it was just the two of us, we’d have plenty of time for all the travel we wanted to do.  A trip on the Orient Express, another train ride through the Canadian Rockies; a riverboat cruise through Eastern Europe, to see Prague and Budapest and even Transylvania.  All that time we wanted to spend together, we could finally spend.  I wouldn’t always be driving to and from work or his house or driving my kids to school.  It’s been this way since we met, since I’m not going to have my kids change school districts every other week, and our few attempts at trying to introduce cats to dogs have not gone well.  Not to say I wouldn’t have been willing to try, given enough space for a decent Catio and a dog run.

Sigh.  On one level, I am angry at him for screwing up the entire rest of my life.  I was always able to see us together until one or the other of us passed away.  Preferably me first, since I didn’t want to live without him, but hopefully not until into our 90’s and still being of relatively sound mind and body.  We could have produced a whole video series on geriatric porn that would have given the rest home residents some inspiration.

But on the other hand, I am so fucking pissed at him.  Maybe this is karma.  It’s payback, finally, for divorcing my husband 11 years ago and probably breaking his heart and ruining his future dreams in the process.  I’m not sure.  The only thing I’m sure of with my ex-husband is that he’s probably more bitter about the monetary loss in his retirement accounts than he is with the physical loss of me.  Although it feels like I’ve been through more than my share of crappy relationships and even crappier men in the interim that I would have thought karma and I would be even by now.  I guess not. For the past seven years in this relationship, I’ve been the patient, accommodating, understanding one … the one who stood by and waited for him to get his life in order, for the time when either his son was out of college or out of the house, or a time when he would actually divorce his wife, who lives in another house elsewhere, with her boyfriend.  That never happened, and he’s still married, but yet now I’m made to feel like me being upset about that issue is over-reacting.  Am I?

I don’t know what’s going to happen now.  I haven’t seen my boyfriend in almost two weeks, and I feel like I’m adrift at sea in a boat with no motor and no oars.  Fortunately, I don’t think Richard Parker is aboard.  I’m angry that he doesn’t seem to feel that I was worth fighting for, someone he would suggest going to counseling with to try and work things out.  He used to tell me that he and his wife went to counseling multiple times, even did a marriage encounter weekend.  I thought that was what couples who cared about making it last should do – fight for the relationship, find a way to make it work out. Nope. Instead this was just a cut-and-dried affair, like that’s it, I’m done with you.  And I’m left sitting at Miguel’s with that deer in the headlights look.

This morning in the car I was listening to Jewel’s big song, Foolish Games.  There’s a line in there where she says, “Excuse me, I think I’ve mistaken you for someone else, somebody who gives a damn, somebody more like myself.”  I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see. In the meantime I feel broken, and spend my evenings crying until I have nothing left in me, wrung-out like a sponge … and yet by morning I always seem to be full of tears again.






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To the Moon and Back

One of my favorite songs from Savage Garden is one I always thought had to be written about me, at some point.  I’m sure I’m not the only woman to think that, either.  But it strikes the heart when it feels like someone is talking about you and they’ve never met you, doesn’t it?

She’s taking time making up the reasons
To justify all the hurt inside
Guess she knows from the smiles and the look in their eyes
Everyone’s got a theory about the bitter one.

I’m not really going to go into what prompted today’s downward spiral, let’s just say it was a combination of things – health issues, personal issues at work, and a little too much introspection on my part (generally always classified as a FAIL) and going down memory lane, looking at old emails from old boyfriends.  I often envision my world around me to be like this glass bubble that I blow, day by day, that protects me and shields me.  Sometimes the bubble is tough and (nearly) shatterproof, like the Gorilla Glass on an iPad or cell phone.  Others, it is as fragile as a soap bubble and just as easily burst, leaving me defenseless, naked, shattered on the ground in a hundred pieces.  And dear God, when it happens, I might as well have had my skin flayed off with a thousand lashes – to the heart, it hurts that badly.  The dam breaks and every pent up insecurity bursts forth.  Suddenly I am reminded that I’ve never been “The One” to anyone I’ve ever been with.  At least not that I’m aware of.  Maybe I was to my ex-husband, I don’t know.  He didn’t really act like his life was somehow incomplete without me, and I feel like I badgered him into proposing to me – we’d hit the two year dating mark and were living together, and I told him I wanted a ring or I was walking.  So he did the right thing and we got married, but looking back I wonder if his heart was really in it or if he just figured it was something he was supposed to do.  Sort of like I figured you were supposed to get married before you were 30, or good heavens, you’d end up an old maid forever, some scary spinster living in a spooky old house that all the neighborhood kids throw rocks at.

Prior to that, I dated a number of guys in college, or rather, slept with a lot of them and dated a few of those.  The occasional one who did decide he was devoted to me usually didn’t decide to tell me so until after we’d split up and he’d gone home for the summer or the winter break and found God or had a lobotomy, and then came back and was a possessive psycho who wouldn’t let me out of his sight.  Yeah.  Just the Prince Charming I always wanted, a fucking stalker.  After my divorce, I met and dated more than anyone’s share of men who had no problem telling me they were still looking on the other side of the fence for that greener grass, even though professing to me that I was the best lover they’d ever had.  In some cases, they were even still living with that other lawn and mowing it on occasion, too – but oh no, they loved me also, and I was just being insecure and jealous by thinking there was anything wrong with that.

They’re saying, “Mama never loved her much
And daddy never keeps in touch
That’s why she shies away from human affection
But somewhere in a private place
She packs her bags for outer space
And now she’s waiting for the right kind of pilot to come”
And she’ll say to him
She’s sayin’

Realistically, I find myself asking again today, as I stand amid the shattered fragments of my heart’s bubble, trying to pull myself together once more, is that really what I want?  To be “The One”, someone that got put on a pedestal, loved, worshipped, adored?  In my efforts to attain that level of devotion, I have learned to mold myself to be just about any woman a guy would want, like human Play-Doh.  I’m so flexible that I’ve forgotten what shape I started out as – even though I think that’s the shape I want others to love.  But in all honesty, even when my brother (whom I love very much) tries to do too much for me, I find his attentions annoying, like a bee buzzing around me, and just want to slap him away and remind him that I’m a grown woman now and am perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you very much.  Who’s to say I wouldn’t react the same to a man wanting to take care of me, as a man who really treated me like a cherished object would be wont to do?

“I would fly to the moon and back if you’ll be
If you’ll be my baby
I’ve got a ticket for a world where we belong
So would you be my baby?”

She can’t remember a time
When she felt needed
If love was red then she was color blind
All her friends
Well they’ve been tried for treason
And crimes that were never defined

Yet no matter how often logic stares me in the face, or damn near pinches my neck like Mr.  Spock with his Vulcan grip, it doesn’t sink in.  Somewhere inside me, that little girl who used to always draw crayon pictures of herself wearing a crown or a princess hat with the trailing veil, still reaches out, thinking every guy who finds her attractive or just wants to shag her is Prince Charming.  Surely this is him.  This is the one that I can give myself to and he will appreciate me for all that I am, he’ll realize what a prize I really am.  I’m continually striving for something I don’t think I really want, but it’s the only behavior I know. The people that have known me for years have probably given up trying to understand why I can’t see in the mirror what is so visible to all of them – that I am a strong-willed, stubborn, independent cuss who would just as soon be hoisted on a pedestal as I would want a colonoscopy (oh yeah, I have one of those coming up too, as if life didn’t suck enough already).

“Guys don’t like women who are too smart.”
“You’re too independent, it’s a turn off.”
“Try being a little more helpless once in awhile.”

I’ve been told all of those.  And more.  And wonder why I still won’t let go of that protective shell.  Yet somewhere deep inside I believe that if that bubble isn’t there to protect me, that I might not exist at all.  I imagine myself to be this wisp of a soul, easily blown away in a strong breeze, dissipated like smoke, the particles never to recombine.  That protective bubble holds me together.  And keeps others out.  Maybe those same others who would see me in that golden, glowing light of a woman worthy of perpetual worship.  The very same worship I don’t want.  It’s a small wonder at the end of a day that my head doesn’t explode when I actually think about this.  Even worse when I run out of Ketel One.  I was thinking recently that I really should write more for my kids, sort of an advice column from Mom, on all the stuff that our parents forgot to pass on to us.  That’s another full blog (or a whole series of them) in itself.  However, I don’t think my first one will start off with “You know kids, if I’d taken up drinking vodka years ago, I might still be married to your Dad.”  Yeah, nice sound advice there.  Let’s just book me my reserved space in the trailer park now, shall we?

Not to minimize the point behind the Ketel One comment, though.  I think a lot of people do drugs to escape their reality or expand their imaginations out to somewhere they can’t go.  I’m no expert by any means.  But I will admit to knowing that alcohol is a depressant.  I take antidepressants.  You’d think if I just quit the one, I could stop the other, right?  Except I was taking the medication long before the vodka, so I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive.  The latter serves the purpose now of telling my mind to STFU.  The former?  Keeps me from throwing myself off a bridge.  So in that sense, I guess it’s an upper.

I used to argue with myself (and lose) over the notion of taking prescription medication for, potentially, the rest of my life.  I started taking antidepressants in 1999, after my first son was born, due to what was diagnosed as severe postpartum depression.  I can admit now that the diagnosis was accurate, and my therapist told me she was pretty close to just hospitalizing me, but I guess I responded pretty well to the three drugs she put me on at the time.  It’s now 13 years later and I’ve been on the same one, one that I can say finally actually worked (the previous ones were adequate, but I wouldn’t say they gave me the rose-tinted glasses everyone envisions) since 2004.  I wouldn’t call them rose-tinted, either.  Maybe just glasses without as jaundiced of a view.  The same year I split up with my husband and we filed for divorce, I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  I think that was the year I finally tried to stop compromising, at least with regard to what I expected a committed relationship to be.  And I think I’ve been looking and trying to figure it out ever since.  For better or worse, I was going to have it my way.

Then I struggle with wondering what the hell I’m looking for.  Take my current boyfriend.  He is a delightful, funny, smart, sexy man.  He is also still married, albeit separated for the last four years.  He spoils me, at least in my definition of the term.  I suspect he would probably gladly support all my needs if I asked him to, and I never will, because even the thought of him helping me out with my exorbitant medical bills is abhorrent to me.  I hate the thought of feeling beholden to anyone.  My former therapist Dr. Tam, whom I’ve seen since 1999, recently got back into practice again, so I started seeing her again, gratefully so, because my interim therapist, whom I really only saw for prescription refills, had that kind of Marty Feldman wall-eyed stare that always bugged the crap out of me … anyway, Dr. Tam knows me pretty well from way back when.  When I told her my issues with having my BF offering to pay the occasional bill for me, she asked me, “Well, how would you feel if the situation were reversed, and you could easily afford to pay his bills, and offered to?”

Damn the hell out of people for throwing logic at me.  Of course I would do that, and would expect it to be accepted and would expect nothing in return, all of which he does.  But crickey, I’m still struggling with the fact that I used to make $90,000 a year and now I make $60,000 a year and my expenses have only gone up and my spousal/child support has gone down (the spousal support stopped last year), although thankfully Chase Mortgage did refinance my house as part of the whole whatever-it-was Act.  Now you can actually say you know someone that benefited from it.  Probably the only person you know. But hey, I’m grateful for it, it made a huge difference, even if it took forever.  It allowed me to keep my house, which, I have to admit, is part of that bubble.

I can finally admit after several months of experiencing this, that it totally blows that my boyfriend doesn’t spend the night at my house anymore because of his dogs.  Or his son’s dogs.  Or his son’s dog and his dog.  Call it however you want, but they sure as hell aren’t cats and they aren’t as self-sufficient as cats, either.  I have five felines (yes, that is too many), but yet I can make sure I leave them enough dry food and I can be gone overnight and they won’t shit or pee all over the place and the world won’t end.  Dogs aren’t quite the same.  Anyway, I digress.  The point here, if there was one, is that my home is my fortress of solitude, my strength.  Just call me Kal-El.  Being alone, even for an evening, serves to remind me of who I am.  I think.  (We’re assuming, for the moment, that I actually know who that is.)  Being at home with someone else there is a close second in terms of fortifying me – hence the gripe about my BF not spending the night there.  I’m not about to pass up the chances I get to spend the night at his place as I don’t see enough of him anyway … but maybe I need to rethink that on occasion and have a “me” night once in awhile.  One that I don’t spend sitting around moping, that is.  Right now I have a roommate, her lease is up at the end of March – she has been a part-time nanny for my kids since my separation from my ex back in 2004 – so that doesn’t help my desire to be alone.  She’s a great roommate, but to be honest, I could have a mannequin for a roommate and it would still drive me crazy to know I don’t have the house entirely to myself.  It’s not like I’m prancing around in all of the bedrooms at night wearing a tutu and clown shoes, either.  But I might want to, you never know.  And for that reason, it bugs me to have someone else there.

I love my house.  I remodeled it in 2005, at a cost that was more than I could afford, after my divorce was final.  It’s the same house that my ex and I bought in 1992 as our first house, and while it looks mostly the same on the outside, it is (at least in the upstairs area) scarcely the same house it was back then.  Flooring, windows, entryway, back patio, yard, kitchen, master bed and bath have all been redone and replaced to my specifications. My contractor told me he’d never dealt with someone who knew so exactly what they wanted as I did.  Why is it, though, that I can pick out tile and flooring and light fixtures but apparently not seem to settle on what it is that I want in a relationship?

Let’s go back to my boyfriend for a moment (he’ll hate this; he generally hates to be focused on) … I understand his reasons for still being married to his wife and accept them.  And I ask myself if what I really want at the end of the day is to be married to him myself?   Hmmm.  Well, no, not really. I mean, yeah, I look good in a wedding dress and of course I love diamond jewelry and a good party … but that’s about the end of it. I love the romantic notion of marriage, at any rate, but I’m not the same woman I was 20 years ago who was deathly afraid of ending up alone.  Twenty years from now, I may be singing a different tune.

Do I want to live with him?  I love spending time with him and always feel comfortable around him, a real rarity for me.  You’d think someone who has posed naked for amateur photographers and for Playboy would be always be self-assured in her own skin, but I’m about the most modest person you’ll find when I’m with someone I love.  He’s probably the first person I’ve been with that I don’t continually find myself trying to cover up my stomach or other saggy parts when he’s in the room.  But living together full-time?  Aside from my tutu and clown shoes issue from earlier, well, it isn’t really practical at the end of the day.  I can’t and won’t move my kids out of their current school district and I only have 50% custody of them, so I need to stay in San Diego’s East County.  We live about 25 miles apart, so it is pretty impractical from a get-the-kids-to-school-every-morning standpoint, too.  And I don’t think his two dogs (large and semi-unruly Labradors, albeit cute and adorable) would do too well with my five cats, so scratch that theory.  Which leaves us kind of in the situation we are now, namely, I see him and spend the night most of the time when I don’t have my kids for the week, and he comes over usually once a week to hang out with me and my kids when I do have them.

Which leaves me stuck with this restlessness of the soul, this journey I don’t have a map for.  Why can’t I just be happy?

The Reality of My Glass Bubble

She’s saying, “Love is like a barren place
And reaching out for human faith is …
It’s like a journey I just don’t have a map for.”

So baby’s gonna take a dive and

Push the shift to overdrive
Send a signal that she’s hanging all her hopes on the stars
What a pleasant dream …

What scares me the most is that I know I need to be honest with myself.  I do everything I can to avoid it, because I don’t want to go there.  Going there is exposing that wispy smoke of my soul to a category 5 hurricane.  I’m not even sure I would know where to start – which is probably one of many reasons that I write this blog, because thinking out loud like this gives me clues.  I know I spend a lot of time and energy on making myself look good to the outside world, because I always want people to find me appealing.  Like a bad movie with a really good trailer – it’s rare that I ever let anyone see the whole film.  Including myself.

I’m reminded of a lovely scene at at the climax of “A Room With a View”, when Lucy Honeychurch (played by Helena Bonham Carter) finally admits her feelings for George Emerson (Julian Sands).  George’s father (the delightful late Denholm Elliott) confronts her and says to Lucy, “You love George.  You love the boy, body and soul, as he loves you.”

Lucy:  “But of course I do.  What did you all think?”
Mr. Emerson: “Then …”
Lucy:  “No.  Mother’s calling.  I’ve got to go.  They trust me.”
Mr. Emerson:  “Why should they?  When you deceived everyone … including yourself.”

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What Women Really Think …

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In case you ever wondered what a single gal thinks (well, me, anyway – I’m no longer single, but I’ve looked at a lot of these in my time and hope to never again) when she looks at online personal ads … (click and view full size to read captions easier)

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Four Four and Nineteen Years Ago

April 4, 2011

On this day, back in 1992, on a Saturday, I got married.  Today would have been my 19th anniversary.  May 5th of this year will mark the 6th year since my divorce became final.  These past few years I’ve always found it kind of ironic, the dates thing.  My first date with my ex was on 6/6, my wedding was 4/4, my divorce was 5/5.  Fortunately I think that’s about it for the numeric coincidences. 

Me on my big day, 19 years ago

I don’t think about this day that much except when it rolls around.  Like today.  Next year would be my 20th anniversary.  That’s kind of a big one, or it would have been.  And every year when this date rolls around, I feel a sense of remorse.  Oddly enough, I’ve felt that way for at least the last decade.  Yep.  I think you can do that math.  Means I felt like that while I was still married, too.  Different reasons, same emotion.  I’m the first to admit, if anyone asks me, that I’m the guilty party in my divorce.  I’m the one with the figurative scarlet letter “A” on my chest.  I’m not the least bit proud of what happened or how my divorce came about, and I’m still ashamed of how much my husband was hurt by my actions.  It didn’t have to be that way and I never wanted to hurt him.  What I did was stupid, careless, unthinking.  All that being said, though, it always takes two to make a relationship work.  It also takes two to make it fall apart. ‘Nuff said on that for the time being.

Looking back, I’m hardly the same woman now that I was 19 years ago, or 22 years ago, when my ex and I first met.  I had just moved back to San Diego after 8 years up in Berkeley (4 for college, 4 for work) and at the ripe old age of 25 I finally got around to getting my driver’s license and my first car.  I was convinced that all of my friends were getting married (they weren’t) and starting to have children (ditto) and that I was going to end up an old maid, unmarried at age 30.  Horrors.  Well, back in 1989, it sounded a lot worse than it does now.  After all, my Mom was married when she was 19, for heaven’s sake.  Granted, that was in 1957, and the world was a little different then.  I had split up with a previous boyfriend after two years together up in the Bay Area, dated another guy for awhile who then went off to  South America somewhere to either find himself or join some band of revolutionaries, dated some other dude who decided that after I broke it off that he couldn’t live without me and then was going to hitchhike and bus his way to Africa (not sure how that works across an ocean), and ultimately I came to the conclusion that there were very few normal men to be had in Berkeley.  As if I could actually be considered “normal” myself.  Ha.

Coincidentally enough, when I started to write this post, I started wondering about that one boyfriend who went off to South America and whatever became of him.  Strangely enough, I briefly dated a guy when I moved back to San Diego, who had once dated that guy’s sister – because they lived in the same neighborhood up in the SF Bay Area.  Small world.  So I thought I’d look him up online, see if he was out there somewhere.  No luck on Facebook.  So I went to Pipl.  I had no idea where he was.  Last I had heard of him (from the San Diego guy), he was in Europe with some girlfriend.  That was probably 15 years or more ago.  If you haven’t tried it, is an amazing search site. It only looks for people.  Took me a bit to remember the guy’s name – I knew it was Eric, because that was one of my top choices for a name for one of my sons.  Last name was … uhhh … shit.  Something Scandinavian sounding.  Or Jewish.  Yeah, that helps.  Started with a J.  After mulling it over for a bit, Eric Johannson finally sprang to mind.  And darned if there wasn’t a match on some total stranger’s blog about a professor at a school in the Netherlands from UC Berkeley, named Eric Johannson.  I met Eric when I was working at the UC Berkeley School of Education.  He wasn’t as tall as I would have liked and he drove a crappy car with ripped seats that always snagged my nylons, but he liked to play basketball and had damn nice shoulders, looked good in tank tops, and gave credence to the saying about guys with big feet and their … ahem … other endowments. 

Which brings me back, sort of, to the subject of this post.  Me, 19 years ago, getting married.  I was a virgin until I got to college.  I was a dorky, dweeby looking kid in high school until I hit puberty sometime in my junior year.  Talk about your late bloomers.  I started high school at 4’11” and weighed 75 lbs.  I finished at 5’6″, 110 lbs and a C-cup bra size.  By the time I finished college, I was one of Playboy’s Girls of the PAC-10 from UC Berkeley.  And yes, I do miss the figure I had then (insert anguished sob here).  I went from Escondido High School to UC Berkeley with absolutely no clue what to expect.  Compared to my high school peers, I was a genius.  To my college peers, I was just average in intelligence.  My parents (divorced since I was 5) were of no help, neither of them had been to college, nor did either of them care that I was going to one of the toughest schools in the country on a full scholarship, as an aerospace engineering major.  It was like it didn’t register on their personal Richter scales or something.  I don’t think it registered on mine how important it was in terms of an accomplishment.  To me, it was just a place that was far enough away from my Mom that didn’t have snow in the winter. 

I look at how much time and effort parents put into their kids’ college choices these days, helping them out, moving them in, the whole bit, and wonder how I even made it back then.  My Mom put me on a PSA flight to Oakland with a couple of suitcases, and I had to then find my way from the airport to my dorm room, courtesy of a BART train and a taxicab, because I guess the drive up from San Diego was too much effort for her.  I was so anxious and tense the first few days there that my shoulders were as stiff as a board and I couldn’t even sleep because I was in so much pain.  Being a complete novice as to medications as well, the best I could think of was to get some baby aspirin and down a dozen or so of those.  This was back in the days before they discovered Reye’s Syndrome and took baby aspirin off the market.  I never learned to swallow pills as  a kid, because I had such large tonsils that I often choked on them, and on food I was eating, pretty routinely.  I didn’t realize how big the tonsils were until after they got infected for the 4th time in my freshman year and a doctor advised me to have them removed that summer when I was well again.  Amazingly, I was able to swallow pills after that.  And I stopped snoring like a freight train at night, too.  Wish someone had looked into that issue a little sooner, like, I dunno, maybe my Mom?  Anyway, let’s move on, shall we?

A few weeks into my freshman year, I discovered that guys noticed me all of a sudden.  And talked to me.  I had no idea why.  I’ve always found my deep voice rather off-putting, and certainly my well-honed sarcastic, self-deprecating wit wasn’t exactly what you’d call the America’s Sweetheart level of feminine charm.  I really don’t know.  I should try and track down one of those freshman-year boyfriends and ask them what the appeal was. 

This was the point in writing this blog where I got sidetracked and decided to try and do just that and search for some of them online.  Surprisingly, I found four of them.  There’s a few more whose last names I don’t remember, shamefully, and another one who tragically died around age 30.  John Johnson (yes, that really was his name) came up to me at a winter formal dance in my sophomore year at Berkeley and made some Monty Python joke and told me how bored I looked.  I was there with a previous-ex and soon-to-be-ex again boyfriend, having a miserable time and wondering why the hell I’d been talked into going to this stupid thing, and this charming, funny guy who was also from my hometown of San Diego literally swept me off my feet.  I miss him probably the most of all, since I know I’ll never see him again.  I would have loved to have seen him with kids, he would have been a terrific father.  He met the love of his life somewhere over in Asia or Africa when they were both either working in the Peace Corps or studying abroad, I don’t even remember.  She was from Germany.  They’d barely been married a year when he died in a hiking accident.  I don’t know the details and I never found out – I just remembered getting a Christmas card from his widow, it turns out, the same day I was sending mine out, I hadn’t heard from him since the previous Christmas.  I was shocked.  John was always upbeat and cheerful, even though his life had more than its share of ups and downs.  I think he was allergic to nuts, and shellfish, and tomatoes, and a list of about a hundred other things.  He limped when he was tired, I can’t remember why now, but he might have been born with a clubfoot or something that had been corrected, but wasn’t quite 100%.  He wasn’t the tallest guy I dated, or the best looking, either. 

Yet John was like an Energizer Bunny of enthusiasm.  The guy ccould have made friends with a terrorist and the next thing they would have been hoisting a couple of beers and talking like old buddies. I saw him a couple of times in my senior year of college, by then I was living with a guy out in Concord (East Bay), and I remember John and I always ended up goofing off and having the best time doing something that always looked suspicious yet was actually pretty innocent.  He insisted on giving me a foot massage one night at his place in Berkeley after dinner, complete with a foot bath first – which he managed to upend all over both of us and on his bed.  I had to take the BART train and a bus home, and he escorted me all the way there because he didn’t want me getting home and having my boyfriend at the time wonder why I was soaked through on a non-rainy evening without him explaining what happened.  I got home well before my boyfriend did, fortunately, so no explanation needed.  But that’s just the kind of guy John was.  A gentleman.  Who gave great massages and was incredibly ticklish after sex and did a great rendition of the Knights of Ni.  The kind of guy I seemed to push away in my quest for some unattainable douchebag who would end up ignoring me, dumping me, or both.  Because I didn’t think I was good enough for someone like that, that I was somehow damaged goods because of my perpetual cynicism that I could never shake.  If you’ve read my earlier entries on this blog, you know my upbringing was hardly anything for the pages of a Parents magazine.  Unless they have a “Don’t” section with black X’s over everything like Glamour does for photos of women with pantylines. 

What I Looked Like Under my Dress ...

Recently I found and scanned in some photos I had from a glamour photography shoot I posed for back in the late 80’s.  I had curly, permed, 80’s hair, big earrings, big blue eyes, a winning smile, and a figure that, well, was worthy of Playboy.  And I still hated myself. I was convinced that my thighs were getting lumpy, my stomach was poochy, and my breasts were the wrong shape and size.  I don’t remember John ever finding any flaws in me.  Maybe that was why I always pushed him away, he liked me too much.  How could anyone not see how flawed I really was?  And I don’t mean just in the sense of my physical appearance … mainly, I still find the biggest flaws are within my character.  But I didn’t recognize them back then, or maybe I did and thought I could overcome my “demons”.  Case in point, we have a happy photo of the newly married couple here at the reception, right before the garter toss:

And now, a page from John Madden's playbook ...

Looks nice, right, other than the privacy-protecting pseudo whipped cream over the faces of my ex-husband and ex-brother-in-law?  Except now when I look back at this picture, I realize of the men in the photo, how many of them I either A) wanted to have sex with; B) had already had sex with; C) dated; D) would have sex with in the future – all options circled in red.  The only one I forgot to circle is the category of E) “My Mom thinks I had sex with him”, which would have included my brother – the guy in the tux with the beard, standing up behind me.  John is actually the third guy in from the right, in the light-colored slacks and black jacket.  This was the last time I saw him. 😦

One saving grace is that there aren’t more people in this photo, because in a photo of the entire reception, there would have been at least three other guys circled who fell into category A) or B).  And three more who didn’t make it.  Now I don’t know about you or the guests at your wedding, but the fact that I had intimate knowledge of at least 15% of the male guests in the room strikes me as a bit high, not to mention, uh, a bit out of the ordinary?

Which brings me around to why I started this post to begin with.  Wondering whatever made me think I could stay faithful to one guy for, as it turned out, over 15 years?  Certainly at the time I married him, it wasn’t in my nature.  Or maybe he just wasn’t the right guy.  My ex was, and is, a nice guy.  Not as charismatic as a guy like John, but a decent guy.  I don’t think he ever made me feel swept off my feet nor was he big on giving foot massages.  I didn’t feel like I wasn’t good enough for him – which is maybe why I married him.  I shouldn’t have, in retrospect.  Hindsight is always 20/20, of course.  I liked him as a friend and I think at the time that was all I was looking for.  It should have been enough, but we eventually became the kind of friends who hang out at lunch once in awhile at work and say hello in the hallways … not the kind of friends who stay married.  And as former President Carter so famously put it, I still had lust in my heart for any number of guys over the years since 1992, including the guy who’d introduced me to my ex.  (He was one of ones who would have been circled in that same photo, if he’d been there).  I never acted on it until 2004.  My mom died that year, on my son Sean’s 5th birthday in February.  I remember getting a phone call that night, after everyone was in bed, from my mom’s boyfriend in Las Vegas, she’d had a serious heart attack (after a couple of massive strokes the previous year) and the ER docs were trying to get her heart going again. 

I told her boyfriend Bob to call me back as soon as he knew anything.  He was in tears, the poor guy.  I called my brother and gave him the news, and told him I’d call him back again as soon as Bob called me.  Then I went back in the bedroom; the ringing phone had woken my husband up.  I told him my Mom was in ER with a heart attack.  He said “oh,” and turned over and went back to sleep.  Admittedly, my husband knew that my relationship with my mom was far from close or loving … but she was also the only parent I had left, my father having passed away three years earlier.  I left the bedroom, checked on the kids, and went back out in the living room with the cordless phone in my hands, waiting for Bob to call back.  In the intervening minutes, I can remember praying, one of the few times in my life I really have prayed, for my Mom not to make it.  Bob called back about 45 minutes later – she was gone. 

A lot of things died in me that evening.  My husband never got up to check on me as I sat out in the living room and broke down in tears.  My long-ago vow to myself, that my marriage would be better than that of my parents and would last far longer than their record of 11 years, shattered.  I had spent most of my conscience life trying to prove to my mother that I was not only good enough, but that I could do better than she did – I had a more successful job, a nice house, a decent husband, and a stable home life that wasn’t filled with shouting, screaming, and senseless accusations – all because I wanted her to NOTICE.  Yeah.  The same mom who couldn’t be bothered to drive me up to college and who didn’t visit me once in 4 years there, until I graduated.  And then couldn’t leave fast enough to get back to a non-existent life.  The one whose daughter nearly dropped out with a 1.6 GPA her freshman year, but ended up graduating with two bachelor’s degrees three years later and a 3.7 GPA, but she never noticed.  The mom whose only “birds and the bees” advice to me was to give me a copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex to read … when I was 8 years old, thus giving me a lifelong mental image of homosexual men ending up in the emergency room with shot glasses or other weird objects up their asses.

That was February.  In April that year, my 12th anniversary came around and I belatedly realized that I had surpassed my mom’s 11-year mark for being married.  I didn’t give a shit anymore.  All the grand scenes of reconciliation I used to imagine with her that I played out in my mind over the years, where she would apologize for being such a bitch and for hitting me and slapping me and warping my mind the way she did, where she would tell me how proud she was of me and show me she was actually interested in my life and in her own grandchildren … it would never happen.  I don’t know what made me think it would happen.  But it took that long for it to actually sink in.  The cracks that had begun to open in my marriage even before February started to spread and deepen, turning into deep fissures that old hurts bubbled up through.  The same hurts I used to squelch and bury and ignore over the years, wanting to present the perfect facade to the outside world, and mostly, to my oblivious and uncaring Mom.  My marriage died right along with her because it just didn’t matter anymore.

Since then, my life’s playbook has been looking like the John Madden one above with regard to men.  (Notice the nice subtle way I go about saying I have a tendency to be a slut?  Yeah, I thought that was well played.)  At least until the last couple of years.  The notches on the bedpost routine gets old, although certainly never dull.  I would say I’m too old for swing clubs, but having been to those places, I know that isn’t the case!  ;)  So what happens now, you may wonder?  I wonder too.  It’s hard to know where the behavioral me ends and the real me begins.  I know deep down that my promiscuous tendencies stem from low self-esteem, a need for acceptance in whatever form I can get it, even if that is in the form of being told you could suck the chrome off a bumper.  Yadda yadda.  Throw me a few more psychology books and I’ll have a master’s degree in still trying to figure out how I tick.  The parentheses of my life at either end of my marriage of my actions tell me that being faithful that long didn’t change that part of me one iota. 

Oooh! Pretty!

But I’m happy now, in the relationship I’m in.  That relationship is hardly without its flaws or complications and is far from perfect.  I’m the first to admit that the fantasy aspect of being married – the elaborate dress, the rings, the ceremony, the whole bit – still appeals to me.  I’m a girl, after all.  I love dressing up and I love jewelry.  Duh.  Hint, if anyone’s reading this, I love rings by Verragio and Ritani, and I think this is a really nice dress …

Will I ever end up married again?  Do I need to be married again?  I thought being married meant love and security, a feeling of being cherished.  I never had that even with a ring on my finger before, but I do now, in probably the most unlikely relationship I could ever end up in (like, OMG, he voted Republican, for one thing).  What I’m trying to figure out now is if the difference in my current relationship, a relationship where I actually feel loved and accepted just the way I am, is due to my boyfriend, or to me?  I like to think it’s a little of both.

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In the Event of a Zombie Apocalypse …

October 12, 2010

I have randomly weird, worrisome thoughts about how I would manage in the event of such life-altering things as a zombie apocalypse, being kidnapped and held by terrorists for several years, or ending up in some Turkish prison, falsely accused of drug smuggling.  Or, particularly relevant to today’s news, trapped half a mile underground in a Chilean mine without company or hope of near-term discovery (although there is no way in hell you’d get me down there to begin with, unless it was by way of a giant sinkhole that then closed up again).  Or surviving in a post-nuclear world, doing my best to evade the Mad Max-style creepies out there, roaming the empty highways.  I suppose dwelling on these things keeps me from thinking about the bigger-picture issues, which in general are too horrifying to really discuss.  So I focus on the trivial.  How about you?

To wit, my Top Five Fears:

1.  No fresh contact lenses or saline solution.

Just goin' for a stroll, anyone seen the optometrist's office?

If I don’t have my glasses when the zombies invade, I’m screwed. 

1a.  Glasses and sunglasses.

And even then, what do I do for sunglasses?  I don’t have a prescription pair, and I can’t even go outside on a cloudy day without squinting like Dirty Harry.  I think I may be part vampire. 

Yeah, punk? You seen my sunglasses anywhere?

I guess if I at least ended up with a pair of glasses I could see out of (we’re talking -8.0 diopters here, with a bifocal correction of +2.0), maybe I could score a stash of those funky huge wraparound shades you always see old people wearing home after cataract surgery.  I could hang with that. 

2.  Haircolor.

I don’t have Heloise’s stain removal advice or Emmylou Harris’ singing talents.  I have no desire to have my hair end up looking like either of them, or worse yet, some half-gray, half faded blonde (or deep auburn, depending on what month this is) Chernobyl-inspired disaster.

3.  Tweezers.

If I’m ever kidnapped by terrorists and held hostage for an extended period of time, my eyebrows will start to look like Andy Rooney and my chin will be reminiscent of the three little piggies. 

Come near me with that eyebrow wax and I'll rip your lungs out.

4.  Zits.

If I don’t wash my hair pretty much every day, my skin starts to break out everywhere my hair touches – around the forehead, chin, jaw, neck, etc.  I’m 47.  Why do I have to still deal with pimples?

5.  A razor.

Right up there with the chin.  I don’t need to have my underarms looking straight out of Paris, France and my lower legs like Sasquatch.

One Day After the Apocalypse

In short, whenever I am rescued and brought back to civilization or what passes for it and before I have to face the light of the press, the public, or of day, I want a trip to the local spa.  With no mirrors anywhere in sight.

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One Collar to Rule Them All

May 31 – October 6, 2010

A lot of folks have pointed out that my pet cats seem to reflect different parts of my personality.  I used to think that was a little strange, but now I think I’ve come to accept it.  I think people, things, or even pets do have a tendency to come into our lives for a reason, whether we ever recognize it or not.  Up until recently, I had four cats.  

*Later in this post – I have four cats again, stay tuned.* 

Those of you who have read my previous post will know that I recently lost my beloved Purrthos, whom I had the pleasure of knowing for these past 15 years.  Admittedly, I am not the best at recognizing the facets of my own personality by any means, but this is my best interpretation of what my cats are/were to me. 

Purrthos:  Jesus, after a bong hit.  Calm, content, always happy, willing to please, purred no matter what the occasion or event.  He was like being around a smiling, laughing Buddha.  Just being with him made you feel better, no matter what was going on with you.  Loved rides in the car, loved to be carried over the shoulder by me or by anyone at the vet’s office, patience of a saint and beyond.  There are parts of me that are like this.  Not the patience of a saint part by any means – if anything, perhaps Purrthos was in my life to teach me this or at least maybe he hoped that it would rub off on me.  But I strive to be like him in many respects.  Sometimes I succeed.  

The other day I picked up my two boys early from summer daycare so I could take the older one to pick up his replacement retainer (yes, the previous one was lost, ouch to the wallet).  I needed gas, so we stopped at the 7-11 and I asked them if either of them needed the bathroom or wanted a snack or soda. All three, as it turned out. So we hit the loo, picked up a couple of Cokes, bought Starbursts and a peanut butter Twix for Mom, not that she or her thighs need it.  As I’m perusing the candy bar aisle, my older son Sean comes up to me and hugs me out of the blue and says, “thanks, Mom”.  I look at him and ask, “what for?”.  After all, to me, gas for the car and fuel for the people in it is just the norm.  “You always make everything better,” he answers.  

Oh, jeez.  A whole world opens up inside me with those five simple words.  Am I somehow not the crappiest mom in the world that I think I am?  What am I doing different that their Dad doesn’t do?  Hmmm.  Well, I can think for one thing, he probably isn’t big on creature comforts like beverages, snacks, air conditioning, and such.  Certainly he never was with me.  I remember being nine months pregnant, we’re on our way to a nice dinner party and I don’t want to get my hair messed up and I’m sweltering in the heat (it was August), so I ask him to turn on the air conditioning, and he tells me to put down the window.  When it’s 98 degrees outside.  Yeah, thanks.  God forbid he lose a mile or two of fuel economy efficiency in lieu of keeping his pregnant wife comfortable.  Which is why she is now an ex-wife.  One of a thousand reasons. 

But maybe over the years of marriage and child-bearing there was somehow forged in me at least the beginnings of patience and of doing for others before doing for myself.  The Purrthos trait.  I don’t know that Purrthos was that self-sacrificing, but he certainly never complained.  This was a cat that got some 4700 injections over the course of his latter years and never once growled, hissed, or even stopped purring.  I should be half as tolerant. 

d’Artagnan:  Sir Lancelot.  Brave, bold, intelligent, although not the best at personal hygiene, mostly he just can’t be bothered.  There are more important things to think about than bathing.  Not sure how that aspect of him reflects me … I kinda hope that’s one of the exceptions.  Always a gentleman.  No matter how much either of his younger female siblings torments him, he has yet to ever take a swipe to either one of them, despite being twice their size.  Occasional problems with flatulence (okay, I will cop to the same issue, regrettably).  

Yeah, she's cute when she's sleeping, d'Artagnan thinks ...

How do I resemble d’Artagnan?  I suppose in the first three qualities, though I will rarely admit them.  I like to think of myself as brave compared to most of my age and gender.  I kill my own spiders, deal with my own weird noises in the middle of the night, and spend a lot of time in my house by myself with no worries at all. I had to grow up a lot faster than most kids did (see my previous post about my Mom for that one), and as a result, I’m a bit lacking in the feminine graces of shyness and demurity (is that a word?  Anyway, the aspect of being demure).  I like to think I have some brains, although to me I rarely use what I’ve been given.  I do bathe regularly, unlike d’Artagnan.  I am the first to point out to my kids to only pick on someone their own size, and to never hit a girl, unless she deserves it.  I differ from d’Artagnan on this point.  Frankly, Minnie, our youngest female, could do with a good feline whack upside the head, she’s way too uppity.  And I think there are some women who DO deserve to be hit back.  Very few, but they exist.  Moreso in the cat world. 

d’Artagnan is also a dude’s dude.  Whenever I have male company in the house, be it my boyfriend, my brother, or other guests, he gravitates to them immediately.  Not so much to women, other than me.  But if my boyfriend sits on the sofa with me to watch a movie, d’Artagnan is up there next to him immediately, wanting his head scratched.  Yes, I love having my head scratched, my ears stroked, and my hair played with, too.  (I do manage to refrain from what I call the “kitty G-spot” reaction of bringing my back leg up and shaking it like a dog’s when someone does this, fortunately.)  I am a dude’s girl; I’ve always gotten along better with men than with women.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of my female friends.  I think it’s that over the years I’ve always felt like there was some secret society I was never invited to join because I didn’t know the magic password.  I grew up with a brother and, as you might guess from my earlier posts mentioning my Mom, not the most sterling of role models.  My Mom didn’t hang out with the other moms and have coffee or have playdates with them and their kids, back in the 60’s before they were even called “playdates”.  I honestly don’t remember what my Mom did with me when I was a toddler and when my brother was in school during the day, when my parents were still married.  I think I was left to my own devices a lot, so I had a pretty imaginative time with my toys – usually cars, Legos, Lincoln Logs, marbles.  I hardly ever got to watch TV in those early years, although I do remember preferring The Electric Company over Sesame Street, but I think that was in the early 70’s.  No electronics to speak of back then, no computers, no Xbox, no Nintendo DS – I think my kids would be well-served if they had the same environment today, to be honest.  When you have to find your own entertainment, the imagination flourishes.  

But back to the point – my Mom was never what you’d consider a conventional “mom” for her era.  I don’t know if she was comfortable around other women, either – I don’t think so.  But in her case, the discomfort most likely stemmed from perpetual jealousy.  I don’t know how or when that got a foothold in my Mom’s upbringing, but she was jealous of every woman out there.  Including me, once I started to look more like a girl and less like a blonde monkey.  She grew up with one younger brother, so she didn’t have sisters or stepsisters to contend with, and she was a pretty girl.  But this is my self-reflection, not hers … at any rate, she never seemed to know how to behave around women.  I guess it rubbed off on me.  My mom had lots of male visitors over the years, but very rarely did she have a female friend.  I can’t honestly think of a close girlfriend of hers that she stayed in touch with for more than a year or two. 

As I grew up, it was hard to make friends given how often we moved.  The house on Aster Street, then the house on Deodar Road.  The apartment on G Street in Chula Vista, Hamilton Street in North Park, the duplex in Chula Vista on Dorothy Street (twice, a couple years apart), the apartment on Gwyneth Drive in Tustin, the rented house on 10th Avenue in Escondido.  A dozen schools in a dozen years.  Growing up with mostly my brother for companionship, I didn’t get the world of dolls and tea parties with stuffed teddy bears.  I played with green plastic army men and a BB rifle, and liked to set ant trails on fire with a magnifying glass.  I could take the head off a plastic armyman with a BB at 20 paces, more importantly, I could do it before he melted in the tree branch I’d stuck in the ground and set fire to at the base.  I let my brother play with my first Barbie doll (a Skipper), and she ended up stuck on a roof for months.  She was a bit worse for wear when a rainstorm finally washed her off.  Eventually I ended up with a Francie doll to accompany my now Zombie Skipper. I never had a Ken doll but somehow felt my dolls needed male companionship, so I let them have sex with my Breyer plastic stallion, when I wasn’t playing down by the mailboxes in the mud with them.  I suppose if a child psychologist had gotten a look at me then, they might have had an inkling that there was something wrong with my home life. I didn’t.  I assumed everyone’s Mom accused their 9-year-old daughter of having sex with their (Mom’s) boyfriends.  Didn’t yours?   

I never learned how to braid hair and nobody ever braided mine – my Mom usually kept my hair chopped short because she didn’t want to be bothered with it. I never had slumber parties and never got a birthday party after age 5. I learned makeup application through trial and error, and probably started wearing it earlier than I needed to, because I was always convinced I was ugly.  In my mom’s eyes, my hair was too straight, or too blonde (she was a curly redhead), and once I hit puberty, she started telling me I was too fat, at 5’6″ and 110 lbs.  Only now do I recognize that last critique was her way of expressing disdain over my bra cup size ultimately being larger than hers.  Even before I knew what puberty was, I had already gone from being a daughter to an enemy, the competition for whatever boyfriend of the week happened to be in her life.  

As I got older, I didn’t know what other girls talked about, and my one or two close female friends in high school (no offense to them intended here) tended to be as socially awkward as I was, for varying reasons.  I never had that je ne sais quoi that other girls had, at least in my eyes, that allowed them to be so at ease with their own gender.  In my futile efforts to find something to bond with my father over, I developed a knowledge of baseball and football, and a fondness for sports cars, so guys always liked talking to me – they just didn’t want to date me.  I remember one period in my senior year when I developed an odd friendship with one of the star football players at school, but only via the phone.  I don’t recall exactly how it started, I think he needed a missed homework assignment and called me at home.  We started chatting, and kept chatting.  For a few weeks I felt like the belle of the ball with a secret, my football player was going to call me in the evening and we would talk for twenty minutes, forty-five minutes, more than an hour sometimes, and he told me how much he liked talking to me vs. talking to other girls.  Yet during the daytime at school, it was as though we barely knew each other.  Eventually, after counseling him over his breakup with his previous girlfriend, my football player started dating someone else, and that was the end of the phone chats.  It was fun while it lasted, though. 

When I first adopted d’Artagnan he was incredibly skittish and shy, and spent his first three weeks with us hiding under the master bed.  He had been rescued from somewhere and was at the Helen Woodward shelter when I found him.  To this day, nearly 15 years later, he still flinches sometimes when you go to pet him, as if he is expecting to be hit.  I don’t know what happened to him in the first 9 months of his life before I took him into my home, but I suspect it was traumatic.  I think he came into my life as a reminder that I need to let my past go, and be trusting and open, in order to be loved.  I think he also missed some of his early cat training in basic fundamentals, such as how to wash himself, or the fact that it’s preferable to pee outside (d’Artagnan will come in from the outdoors, where there is plenty of dirt, to use the litterbox) – much as I missed some of my fundamental “how to be a girl” training, it seems like.  We’re both misfits in our own ways.  And it’s good to have a dude’s dude around – even in cat form.  d’Artagnan and I can always hang out on the sofa together and watch TV like old buds.  

Sabine:  The Princess.  Say no more, really.  Okay, make that the eccentric Vampire Princess who hates going out in the daytime because the light hurts her eyes, apparently.  Gets annoyed at wind because it ruffles her fur.  Will spend hours grooming herself but then go outside and roll around in the dirt.  Refuses to use the litterbox when it doesn’t meet her exacting standards and will just pee on the staircase (wood) instead, thank you very much.  Doesn’t so much meow as she does squeak.  Squeaks often when dismayed or when you are messing with her.  Refuses to eat dinner with other cats and must always watch her girlish figure.  Will spend night outdoors if given the opportunity, come back inside with a coat and tail full of foxtails and will be most upset at having them picked out of her fur.  Her alternate title is the Dumb Blonde (she is a buff-colored cat), which does fit her – and fits me, too, at times.  Ditto the vampire aspects.  I can’t go outside even on a cloudy day without sunglasses.  And okay, I am not a fan of dirty bathrooms – but who is, really? 

The Princess surveys her domain

As much as I make fun of Sabine for her Princess aspects, I would like to be her.  Or rather, I would like to have someone like me around to accept me and love me anyway, despite being high-maintenance.  She is the epitome of the girl I never got to be.  If she were in human form, Sabine would probably be Paris Hilton sans the sex tapes.  And the money.  One of those girls who had a cute new boyfriend every month and you always wondered what guys saw in her because she seemed like such a ditz on the surface.  But underneath she is smart enough to land a decent guy, or at least a well-to-do one, and ends up living a pretty cushy life that involves weekly manicures, a luxury SUV, owning a Bichon Frise named Snowball or Fluffy, and does not involve having to work a 9-to-5 job.  That would be Sabine.  I’ve dated guys who have ex’s (or even current) wives or girlfriends who are those kind of women, and I guess it is part of the mystique that goes along with learning how to braid hair:  I don’t know how to be like that.  I have been accused of being too independent, too self-reliant, too stubborn – perhaps these are the things I need to let go of in order to be a Sabine-like woman?  I don’t think I would know how to stay home and be a well-kept wife, spending my days raising the children, being a soccer mom and PTA volunteer, hosting charity dinners and lunching with the girls.  I would have too much guilt over feeling as though I wasn’t earning a living of my own and too much fear of it all going sour and me being left unable to fend for myself or pay my own way.  

There were girls in high school who were planning to get married right after graduation, or maybe after going to community college for a couple years – basically they wanted to be wives and mothers, and knew that from early on, apparently.  I’m almost 47, have two school-age boys, and I’m still not sure I want to be a mother.  I don’t know if I want to be a wife again, either.  I don’t think I know how to do it right.  But a part of me admires those woman and wants to know how to be one, how to trust that a man will take care of my needs and provide for me, and that what I do as a wife and mother is more than enough of a career, and I’m doing a great job of it as well.  When I am around these women, I feel awkward and ashamed, like an unwanted party guest, the shoe that doesn’t quite fit right.  They are at ease hosting dinner gatherings and chatting with other women; I’m the one who skulks around the sidelines and never knows when the appropriate time is to ask if I can help with things in the kitchen.  Sabine, of course, would have no such problems.  Were she in human form, other women would feel naturally at ease with her, as would men fall all over themselves for her attention.  

When I adopted Sabine, she was a sad, miserable little 7-month-old kitten who had been dumped in the night repository at the San Diego Animal Shelter for “house soiling”.  Turned out she was sick with some kind of bacterial infection that was giving her digestive tract a (pun intended) run for its money, although as far as #1 went, it did take awhile and a number of whacks on the butt to get her to stop peeing on every piece of furniture I owned.  Her hallmark effort was one morning when I was lazing in bed with a (now) ex-boyfriend and the two of us started kissing and making out, and Sabine crawled up in between us, all cute and purring and cuddly … and let loose with a flood of cat pee that soaked through to the mattress.  I could have killed her.  In retrospect, I think it was her commentary on my relationship.  I should have paid more attention, I could have saved myself several more months of dealing with someone else’s emotional baggage. 

Minnie:  Cold-blooded assassin.  Most likely a former KGB agent in a previous life.  Was adopted at 1 year old and had already had a litter of kittens despite being no larger than a kitten herself.  Has since eaten her way up to a much larger size, at least in girth.  Afraid of absolutely nothing, including vacuum cleaners.  Constantly looking to kill gophers, birds, lizards, mice, etc.  Torments d’Artagnan.  Oddly enough, always left Purrthos alone.  Chases her sister Sabine given any opportunity.  Even though they are both girls, Minnie is probably the polar opposite of Sabine.  She is more of a dude than d’Artagnan is at times, certainly more of a dude than me.  But she embodies more of my personality than Sabine does.  While Sabine is pretty much afraid of everything and as dainty as a white doily under fine china, Minnie is that hard-fired stoneware coffee mug you’ve dropped half a dozen times and it scarcely suffers a scratch.  She is about as far from being a girly chick as the Earth is from Jupiter.  While I don’t consider myself that far gone, I do recognize that I am a bit too masculine at times myself.  My stubborn and independent streak is often a setback in terms of my dating life.   Guys apparently like their chicks to need someone else to kill spiders, fix toilets, and do other manly things.  I’m not one of those chicks unless it’s a matter of sheer muscle power that I’m lacking.  And even then I’d rather hire someone than ask, I hate to admit weakness.  

Blofeld's Next Cat

Minnie kills all her own spiders.  Surprisingly, Sabine does too, and usually eats them.  Probably one of the few things they actually have in common.  Under the tough exterior, though, Minnie does actually have a softer side.  Trouble is, you usually don’t see it until she’s asleep!  But when she is sleeping, or just waking up, she is adorable.  Soft as a dark gray little bunny and purring contentedly.  Not surprisingly, I’ve been told the same thing about myself – that I’m cute when I sleep, I look like a little girl.  I suspect that Minnie had a tough life her first year, living on the streets, giving birth to a litter of kittens that no one knows what happened to.  At a year old, she was barely over 5 pounds when I adopted her, but was a tough, scrappy little thing already.  She grew up a little too fast, I think, much like I did.  I don’t remember much about my childhood that was child-like.  But when we both sleep, the outward mask falls away and the innate vulnerability emerges.  Minnie is probably the most like me, which is probably why I was compelled to adopt her.  I wasn’t looking for another cat when we got her, and if anything, I’ve always wanted a calico kitten or maybe a black and silver tabby.  Minnie is a rather indistinct gray with faint stripes and a lighter underside, not a cat I would have really picked for looks, and given the number of times she has ripped open my skin with her claws, I didn’t adopt her for her sweet personality, either.  But as much as the other three, she represents a part of me, a creature that I feel needs me in her life, and her in mine.  

May 31: I got Purrthos’ ashes back from the vet late last week.  The cremation service did a nice job, he came back in this little cedar box with his name engraved on the top, complete with a lock and key on the outside.  It’s a lovely box, too nice to put in the ground, really, that would seem like a waste.  I picked up the ashes on Thursday afternoon, along with getting an injection of Synvisc One and cortisone in both knees and going to my kids’ Open House at school that evening, then packing for a weekend trip (leaving Friday immediately after work) via the train up to Santa Barbara.  Needless to say, it was kind of a hectic afternoon and evening, and I really didn’t have much chance to think about the ashes or what they represent aside from bringing the box into the house and setting it on the kitchen counter. 

Once I got back from Santa Barbara and had the day to clean up the house, do laundry, pay bills, do chores, etc., my mind finally has a chance to slow down as well.  And I realize that all day I’d been hostile, short-tempered, easily angered, frustrated … almost as if an easy-going, perpetually happy part of my nature had somehow been removed from me without warning. 

I want to ignore this, think that it’s just me over-reacting, that maybe I didn’t get enough sleep, I’m just grumpy about other things.  Okay, yes, I am grumpy about other things.  I interviewed for a job early last week that I would have jumped at the chance for … and didn’t get it.  Thought I had a really good shot at it, too.  And didn’t get it.  So yeah, I’m upset about that.  I was counting on it to the point where I was ready to give one days’ notice (or less) at my current job and just walk out the door with my things packed.  Am I that unhappy there?  Lately, yeah, I am.  This job would have been a much better opportunity for me, better pay, more interesting work, and most importantly, the feeling that I was actually using my brain rather than just being some mindless drone who is only appreciated for the fact that I sit at a desk and work a computer for 8 hours a day, and heaven forbid if I’m 10 minutes late on starting that 8-hour shift.  I don’t need a whole lot to make me happy at work.  But I’m not getting it now in any case. 

So that’s one thing.  Part two, okay, yeah, I’m not so thrilled about my whole knee pain issue.  I had my second injection of cortisone in both knees about two weeks ago, and it was already starting to wear off this past week.  Thankfully, my medical insurance approved the Synvisc injections, which one can think of as “synthetic viscosity” or a man-made version of the lube between our joints, derived from the coxcombs of roosters, of all things.  I hope it works and makes a difference.  I have osteoarthritis of both knees and have basically no cartilage left in them, at age 46.  Yeah, that makes me mad.  But I also know full well there are a lot of folks in far worse shape than I’m in.  I should be grateful I can still walk, period.  And that my brain still works (more or less) and my eyes still work, and my ears, and all those other parts.  Normally I am and I don’t even think about it, and I’m one of those stupidly happy people that you wonder why the hell they’re so happy.  

It’s like my ignorant bliss seems to be missing lately.  Like I’m missing … Purrthos.  The Purrthos part of me, anyway.

July 16:  It has taken me awhile to write this post.  Probably because delving within is never easy.  And since I started it, I ended up adopting a new cat.  I’m not entirely sure why, I was kind of enjoying the ease of just having the three fairly low maintenance cats around (although I have since found out that Sabine has a heart murmur, and a noticeable one at that, so stay tuned).  But perhaps my subconscious felt otherwise, or just fate does have a way, once again, of bringing these fuzzy little creatures into my life for a reason.  I recently took d’Artagnan into the vet for a long-overdue blood test to follow up on his hyperthyroid condition from last year, for which he ended up spending a week at a specialty vet and having a radioactive iodine injection.  While I’m there, the staff all told me again how sorry they were about Purrthos’ loss and how much they missed him, as do I.  Then Dr. Alexander told me about a little kitten they’d recently gotten in from one of the feral cat groups – they trap cats and bring them in to be neutered, tag them by clipping an ear, and release them back where they were found, in the hopes of allowing them to live naturally but curtailing their numbers at the same time by sterilizing them.  They had brought in a brother and sister, trapped together.  The sister was ill and didn’t survive, but the brother did.  Dr. Alexander thought he was young enough that he could be adopted into a good home, and she allowed me to meet him while d’Artagnan was taken back to another office to get his blood drawn.

Yeah, okay, I'm a sucker for a cute face. With long whiskers.

She brought in this skinny little orange and white tabby, with legs that went on forever and a tail like a garter snake on a starvation diet.  She’d been spending the last few days carrying him around with her in a towel or a canvas bag, keeping him close and petting him, getting him used to be around humans.  She said he was extremely curious about other cats and kept wanting to be near them, same as dogs that were coming through their offices.  She let me hold him for a bit and I noticed his neck was thinner around than my wrist (and I have thin wrists), and he had these huge ears on a small head, with big eyes, giving him something of a Yoda-like appearance.  His fur is shorter than that of my two short-haired cats at home (d’Artagnan and Minnie), just slightly beyond the length of peach fuzz, and I think it’s going to stay that way.  As I petted him, I was rewarded in a few minutes with a low, rumbling purr.

And thus my household became four (cats) again.  My boys and I settled on the name Yoshi for our new arrival – they liked it because Yoshi is a name in Super Mario Brothers; I liked it because it sounds Japanese and he looks like an exotic, kind of foreign cat.  His fur is very short and his head reminds me of an Egyptian cat.  His tail is almost as long as his body.  He’s now six months old and with the exception of Minnie stalking him on a regular basis (which is why Minnie is the only cat in the house who wears a bell on her collar, so you get advance warning that she’s coming), he seems to be fitting in pretty well.  He gets hyper and loves to chase toys or his own tail, or shred Kleenex and generally bounce off the walls to the point where he is panting for breath, always a funny thing to see in a cat. I still miss Purrthos, though.  The house was more harmonious with him in it, and with his loss, it’s like there has been a dischordant note in an ongoing symphony that I can’t seem to get rid of.  It will take time.  Certainly it has taken my whole life thus far to get the parts of myself in order; why should I expect anything less from my cats?

Posted in I Hate The Living, In Memoriam | 2 Comments

Elegy for a Musketeer

May 17, 2010

I had to put my cat Purrthos to sleep this morning.  Purrthos was a tortie flame-point Birman that I adopted back in early 1996 from the El Cajon animal shelter when he was about 6 months old.  I think I guesstimated his birthday as being sometime around October of 1995, which would have made him 15 years old in a few more months.  When I first got him, he was this little kitten with a purr as loud as a jet engine who wanted to sleep right next to my head on the pillow every night.  Eventually he succeeded, and he grew bigger.  And grew.  And GREW.  In his prime, Purrthos was well over 18 pounds and he was a fluffy cat, striking and beautiful with his cream colored fur, light orange points on his face, the faintest of stripes on his lower legs, and the prettiest pale blue eyes.  His purr grew right along with him.  You could be in another room of the house and easily know where Purrthos was just by sound, because the only time he ever stopped purring was when he was in a deep sleep.  Until today, that is.  Today he finally stopped purring for good. 

When we got Purrthos, I think the Disney remake of The Three Musketeers movie was out (with Charlie Sheen, Keifer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, and Chris O’Donnell) and I loved the characters.  Originally we thought of calling our new kitten some Spanish word for “fleabag” given that he was covered with fleas from the shelter, but a good bath, flea dip, and bug-bombing of the house took care of that.  Oh yeah, and we had him fixed at the same time.  Talk about a welcome home – right off the bat he gets his nuts whacked off.  Poor kitty.  Although knowing Purrthos, he probably purred until the anesthesia kicked in.  He was going to be named Porthos (choices were that, or Athos or Aramis – the latter two sounded rather silly if I stood out in my backyard calling them out loud), but it became pretty evident what his true nature was soon after we got him, and nothing but Purrthos would do.  Over the years, people would comment on how much they liked his name, occasionally they’d pick out that it was a Three Musketeers name when they heard he had a brother named d’Artagnan (and later, a sister named Sabine), although the best remark I got was someone asking me if “Purrthos” was the name for the Greek God of Cats.  I liked that the best.  

Mr. Purrthos

In addition to being the world’s friendliest cat, Purrthos was also a beautiful animal.  I never knew how a cat like him had ended up in an animal shelter.  I researched cat books when he was a kitten, trying to figure out what kind of kitty I’d adopted.  The closest breed he matched was a Birman.  Occasionally I liked to re-read the stories you can find online about the Sacred Cats of Birma:

The unusual coloring of the Birman is the subject of a charming legend. Centuries ago, the Khmer people of Asia built the Temple of Lao-Tsun in which to worship a golden goddess with sapphire-blue eyes, Tsun-Kyan-Kse. Mun-Ha, a much-loved priest, often knelt in meditation before the goddess with Sinh, a beautiful white temple cat, beside him gazing at the golden figure. One night raiders attacked the temple and Mun-Ha was killed. As Mun-Ha died, Sinh placed his feet upon his fallen master and faced the golden goddess. As he did so, the hairs of his white body turned golden, and his yellow eyes to sapphire-blue, like hers; his four white legs turned earthy brown – but where his paws rested gently on his dead master, they remained white as a symbol of purity. Next morning, the hundred white cats of the temple were as golden as Sinh, who did not leave the sacred throne until, seven days later, he died, and carried his master’s soul into paradise. Since that time, whenever a sacred cat died in the Temple of Lao-Tsun, the soul of a priest was said to accompany it on its journey to the hereafter.  (Courtesy of 

Interestingly enough, when I first adopted Purrthos, I remembered looking at his face with his beautiful blue eyes (his are actually more of a light, sky blue than dark blue – perhaps the reason he ended up in a shelter is that he didn’t meet the breed standard), and in a more melancholy moment, thinking, “my cat has the face of Jesus”.  He did.  Purrthos had a pure, innocent face, sort of what I’d always envisioned the son of God would look like (well, if He were a cat, anyway).  I’m not a religious person by any means.  My religious upbringing is a smattering of being dragged to Christian Science services on random Sundays by my Mom, even though she professed to not care for the practice, and me telling her that I thought the assistant minister was a child molester.  I was all of maybe 10 years old and I already thought about things like this.  Sad, indeed, the loss of innocence.  

A Younger Version of Purrthos

It always used to amaze me that Purrthos really lived up to his name. He truly purred for every occasion.  Eating, sleeping, drinking, using the litterbox, eating grass, and so forth.  Take him to the vet and he’d purr when he got his temperature taken (I always did wonder about that one).  He loved getting baths and would purr at the groomer when he got blow-dried.  Once a year in the summer, I would have his fur shaved down, because I live in East San Diego county and it gets over 100 degrees pretty often in August and September.  When I started to see Purrthos lying on his side on the tile floor in the kitchen as often as he could, that was usually a sign that it was time for his summer trim.  Which he also loved.  The ladies at the pet groomer place loved to see him and were amazed that a cat was so mellow and easygoing, and actually purred even while he was getting his fur shaved off.  He liked to sit on my lap in the car when I took him to the vet, purring all the while, trying to schmooze his face into the steering wheel or up against my chin.  Although he wasn’t the world’s smartest cat, Purrthos did know in the winter that sleeping on my pillow with his belly pressed up against the top of my head, was a good way to stay warm.  And I adapted to having him sleep there, both the physical size of him hogging up my pillow as well as the noise factor of his purring.  I got to the point where I would wake up in the morning and he’d be there, stretched out across the top half of my pillow, sound asleep, and I hadn’t even noticed him all night. 

About six months after we got Purrthos, we got another kitten to keep him company, another male, in late 1996.  Originally named “Bootsie” by the animal shelter, I decided that moniker simply wouldn’t do, and he was re-christened as d’Artagnan.  d’Artagnan is a black and white tabby with white “boots” on his legs, so yeah, the original name fit … but let’s get real.  Bootsie?  No.  Just not a dudely enough name, if you ask me.  He was a little older (9 months) when we adopted him, and had already been fixed, but for some reason that didn’t stop him from occasionally trying to hump Purrthos.  He was a shy, skittish cat who spent most of his first month with us hiding under the bed, and during the rare times he did come out, his flatulence could clear a room.  I almost took him back to the shelter, it was that bad.  Thankfully his digestive system, along with the rest of him, adapted to his new home, and the toxic gas clouds became less frequent.  Amazingly, d’Artagnan eventually grew to be nearly as big as Purrthos, and in the last year, bigger, since Purrthos lost weight over these past several months.  But he will never match the size of Purrthos’ heart. 

My cat family grew again when I adopted Sabine in 2006, after my frustration with various cat adoption agencies around San Diego (“you can’t let your cat outside, it might get eaten by a coyote” … even though I have never willingly left my cats outside at night in over a decade and they seem fine and still love to go out …) drove me to the San Diego County animal shelter, where I found this sad-looking but beautiful buff-colored Somali kitten of 7 months old, with the softest fur I’ve ever felt on a cat and a face like a blonde Capuchin monkey, who had been dumped off at the night depository at the shelter for the crime of “house soiling”.  It did turn out that this little kitty was sick, and some antibiotics took care of the issue of the soiling, but, it turned out, not the peeing part.  I fell in love with her and brought her home, and she proceeded to pee on just about everything.  She has since learned the error of her ways, and now she only thinks out of the box when the litterbox needs cleaning and she feels the need to let me know as much … so she will pee on the hardwood flooring on the stairs, just to remind me to do my job.  Sabine’s original name (given by the shelter) was “Sweetie”, but being the first girl to be introduced to my two old boys (Purrthos and d’Artagnan were then at least a decade old each), she needed something a little classier.  The Countess DeWinter’s name from The Three Musketeers was Sabine.  So the new cat became Sabine.  Her various nicknames are all forms of “Princess” or “Her Highness”, but she is also known as the Dumb Blonde or the Vampiress.  

Our 4th Musketeer, as it were, is Minnie.  No, there is no Musketeer named “Minnie” that I know of.  Minnie is a bit of an entity all to herself.  She was a spur of the moment adoption from Petco in Santee in 2008, a tiny little gray kitty, a year old, who had already had a litter of kittens and yet weighed just over 5 pounds.  My kids and I couldn’t imagine such a small cat actually having kittens.  Minnie looks most like a British Shorthair, with a slightly flat face and a solid gray body.  To me she looks more like a sowbug, also known as a roly-poly or a potato bug, depending on what part of the country you live in.  She must have had a sparsely fed existence as a feral cat, because as my housecat, she is making up for lost time and calories, and has managed to put on a good three or more pounds since we adopted her.  She is still just as small as she was before – now she’s just wider.  I can see how Minnie probably fared quite well for herself in the wild – of my four cats, she is the most persistent hunter.  My boyfriend dubbed her the KGB Assassin, and it fits.  She will hunt down and kill just about anything, and if hungry enough, eat it as well.  She reminds me of a refrigerator magnet that The Onion website sells online that reads, “Kitten thinks of nothing but murder all day.”  That’s Minnie.  I adore her, but I know at any given moment she is probably trying to figure out some elaborate scheme that involves smashing my head in with a large, weighted object. 

Minnie came with her name, that was the title bestowed on her by the adoption agency that put her at Petco.  It suits her.  I thought about giving her a Musketeers name, such as Constance, who was one of the maids in waiting, but that really doesn’t fit her at all.  What does fit her is something along the lines of Minnie Mouse … she resembles a mouse with her short, dark gray fur and furtive, scurrilous nature … and well, what do you know?  Weren’t the members of the Mickey Mouse club called the “Mouseketeers”?  Close enough to Musketeers for my sake. 

Sometime last year, my kids decided that all of our cats should represent either religious deities or characters from Star Wars.  Minnie was the easy one, she is the Devil, Satan, Darth Vader, or that creepy-looking red dude with the dual lightsaber (Darth Maul).  Sabine is some lovely golden-haired angel or Princess Leia.  d’Artagnan seems to be tagged as either an Archangel or Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Purrthos?  From Star Wars, he is Luke Skywalker or Yoda.  On the religious side, my kids came up with the same observation I’d had about him years earlier.  “He has the face of Jesus,” Trevor said once, with all the innocent wisdom of an 8-year-old.  

Back in October of 2003, Purrthos was diagnosed with diabetes.  Type I, the variety that needs regular insulin injections.  My then-husband and I noticed that he’d started drinking a lot of water and peeing a lot, usually not in the litterbox, and was losing weight.  Our 18-pound cat dropped to below 13 pounds.  I was pretty dismayed at the news.  Diabetic?  Shots?  TWICE A DAY?  Our two boys were 4 and 2 at the time and were more than enough responsibility for us.  But we adjusted, or more accurately, I adjusted, and became Purrthos’ primary medical caregiver.  It was up to me to make sure we had enough insulin and needles on hand, and to take the time off from work to take him in for glucose checks.  Back then he got Humulin-L, manufactured by Lilly.  Eventually Lilly pulled Humulin-L off the market, and I scoured various pharmacies to stock up on what little I could find, because it was relatively affordable, being a human insulin.  Somewhere during all of this, I separated from my husband, moved out into an apartment, remodeled our first home, which had been a rental for the past 8 years, divorced, moved back into the old house, with 50/50 custody of my kids and full custody of d’Artagnan and Purrthos, who were around 9-10 years old at the time.  I offered to share custody of the cats with my ex but he told me to take them.  Most likely he probably didn’t want to be bothered with the time and expense involved in Purrthos’ care.  After Humulin-L went off the market and my stash dried up, I had to switch to Glargine insulin (also known as Lantus), which is about five or six times the cost of Humulin-L, and only available from my vet’s office.  I used to be able to get Humulin-L at Target, which was a lot more convenient, especially if I ran out on a weekend when the vet’s office was closed!  

As Purrthos got older, other things started to go wrong with him, as you might expect with an animal with a chronic medical condition.  He developed a heart murmur, and then hypertension.  I never understood how an animal who slept 22 hours a day could have high blood pressure, it certainly wasn’t from stress.  :)  He developed arthritis and started limping, fortunately the medication he was put on for that helped a lot.  And, this past year, bladder and kidney stones, to the point where he needed abdominal surgery to remove them.  His bladder stones were of the variety that are hard to get rid of, so I needed to be aware of a reoccurrence of them.  After he recovered from his surgery, he developed an enlarged liver, but his blood tests didn’t show any cause.  Throughout all of this, I have had more than one person comment to me that they would never go to such lengths for a cat, and couldn’t understand why I would. 

I thought about this a lot in terms of what Purrthos’ care cost me since 2003, in time and money, and it boiled down to this: 

  • 4750 injections, given twice a day, 12 hours apart
  • Humulin-L and Glargine insulin: ~ $8000
  • Insulin Needles, approximately 4750 syringes: ~ $1500
  • Vet appointments for glucose monitoring, blood tests: ~ $7200
  • High blood pressure monitoring tests and daily medication, from 2008-onward: $1000
  • Arthritis medication (shots, one every three weeks): $200
  • Medication, tests, vet visits, and eventually abdominal surgery to remove bladder stones: $2000
  • Additional costs of special dietary food:  $2000
  • Cost for petsitters to come by and administer injections whenever I was out of town or away from the house for the evening: $1000
  • Time off from work for veterinary appointments, usually averaging 1 every 3 weeks:  Not calculated
  • Cost for additional laundry (washing soiled rugs, blankets, etc.) and gas to and from vet appointments:  Not calculated

In short, over the course of the years, I could have probably paid off my car with what I’ve been shelling out with the care of this one particular cat.  Suddenly this morning I went to feed my three other cats and it struck me.  I don’t have to go looking for Purrthos to make sure he comes out and eats, so I can give him his shot.  I don’t have to go looking for where he might have pooped lately (hopefully on a  washable throw rug and not the carpeting), and I don’t have to gather up the kitchen, entryway and hallway bathroom throw rugs every day or two anymore to wash them because Purrthos has peed on them.  I don’t need to remember to make sure I have enough glargine insulin in the fridge to get through the weekend, or enough needles on hand.  I don’t need to figure out when I can take Purrthos in for his next glucose check, which always had to be done 6 hours after his morning injection, so the timing usually involved me having to take at least a half day off work to go home and get him and make sure I got him to the vet at the right time.  

The song “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent” does remind me of one more bullet point for my list from above: 

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes – how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes – how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love?  How about love?  How about love?  Measure in love.

  • 7,884,000 minutes of unconditional, purring love:  Priceless

It’s Wednesday morning now and I’m getting ready for work.  All I had to do was pour food into three bowls, add some kitty treats, and I was done.  If I stay out late or spend the night with my boyfriend tonight, I don’t have to worry about making sure someone gets to my house to give Purrthos an injection in the evening and in the following morning.  I don’t have to warn anyone else to watch out for cat poop on the bathroom rug or pee on the kitchen rug.  I have three cats now that are, well, the reason people prefer cats – because you can leave them alone for hours or even a day or two at a time with just food, water, and a clean litterbox, and come back and they’ll be just fine.  It’s hard to believe that it has been almost seven years since I’ve had that level of freedom with my pet ownership. 

All that being said, I would love to see the face of Jesus just one more time.  

I miss you, Purrthos.

A P.S. to this – I have to give my utmost gratitude to the caring and wonderful staff at Balboa Vet Hospital ( – Dr. Alexander, Dr. Lee, Juan Pablo, Jessica, Michaela, Rachel, Tamsin, and all the rest of the staff, plus their office kitties, Harrison and O’Malley – thank you for taking such good care of my baby all these years.  I know you loved him as much as I did.

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