Winter

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It’s cold out there. Winter has been brutal. The snows pile up higher and the chill in the wind bites every piece of exposed flesh. The wind doesn’t play anymore, but rather whips you. When did I forget what the sun looked like? When did the earth become so hostile towards me? When did it turn on us?

When we turned on her.

We gouged and fraked beneath her surface and poured smoke from our industries lungs into the air. We made the wind bitter enough to whip us. She fights back with biting chill, letting her plants rest beneath her protective blanket of snow. She fights us. She fights us for her little treasures. The little emerald, topaz, ruby, and sapphire things beneath her crystal surface. They are her hoard. We have trespassed here upon it. We were charged to care, and we took it and exploited it. Now she becomes tired of us. So she fights back.

That is what I have always imagined was the reason for bitter winters like this.

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Internet

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“I think making friends as an adult is much harder than middle school.” I was confident in this. I knew it. I saw it. Things were weird.

“Why do you say that?” She asked, pulling the milk out of the refrigerator to help us choke down our brownies. This is what we did to punish ourselves. Punish ourselves for growing up. Calories. Calories and sugar and carbohydrates. Our natural enemies as adults and diabetics.

“Well, when we begin reaching adulthood, we are lead to believe we need to make major decisions on things in our lives. Careers, places to live…mostly on values. In our rush to make these decisions, we become passionate about our values, ignorant or otherwise, and in our passion, we struggle because we mostly want to find friendships that share similar values. The hard part is when people we think we know pretty well, don’t share a few of our values. The ones that we were rushed to be so passionate about. So we struggle, and either we cannot stand that we differ on that subject, or we change our views based off more accumulated knowledge.”

She poured the milk listening intently and quietly. I continued. “When we cannot stand to differ, we let go of the relationship. When we decide to change, perhaps we hold on to the relationship for a while, but to change thinking is difficult.

“It is difficult. Especially when you Are as old as I am. ” She chimed in. A footnote to assure me she was still listening.

“Precisely, and I wonder if there are many who are willing to do the overhaul of personal change, because we live in a day and age that demands instant gratification.” I pondered my own thoughts. This was all just theory. Thinking out loud. There was so much more to this than I could even begin to list. Conflicts about differing opinions. Conflicts about the pursuit of the same passions too passionately. Conflict for those who could only thrive off conflict because of internal chaos or trauma. Pursuit of passions for anterior motives. Lack of creating values at all.

“I’m not sure that is entirely true.” She said putting the milk away and sliding my glass of milk toward me. I cut out my brownie and cleared the mass of paint swatches, hardware odds and ends, and unopened mail off the counter. Okay…I more or less pushed it to one side so I could actually eat at the breakfast bar. I feared touching anything lest it be important and I get yelled at for moving it.

“Yeah well, it’s only theory, and most of it is what the internet has taught me.” And it was. People couldn’t get along. No one could agree to disagree. They were much more honest online. In their posts and comments. Most people I had known, became bigger assholes on the internet.

“You’re awfully pessimistic aren’t you?” She looked concerned but I couldn’t help but smile. She wasn’t wrong. I was. Humanity was always bearing its teeth on my screen. There were more horror stories out there than “faith in humanity…restored” stories. There were more haters and trollers than there were do gooders and lovers….as far as the internet wanted to tell me. Yes, I was pessimistic. Not to say there wasn’t good out there, but they sure were too busy doing good to be on the internet and advertising their good. Probably because they were too humble to advertise it.

I took a swig of my milk and at the tail end of a mouth full of brownie I muttered “If I’m a pessimist, I probably learned that from the internet too.”

She laughed at me. I love my mom.

The Foolish

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“I find it funny.” That was it after all. I just found it funny. Both amusing and strange.

“Why is it so funny?” She asked as she continued to put dishes in the dishwasher. I knew the sound well, even over the phone. I recalled her mentioning her desperate love of domestic work in conflict with her desire to behave more “feminist” like her many ideas suggested. I assured her feminism wasn’t there to rebuke her for her daily joys, but to offer her political equality.

“Well I think it’s odd that such a thing as White Knight syndrome even exists. I find it even more so that he has it and is dating someone like me.” I responded. I wasn’t a damsel in distress. I didn’t need saving. So what was he doing with a girl like me?

“Do you think maybe he’s looking for….I don’t know….a reason to save you? Maybe reading into your life too much? Maybe he thinks you need saving from yourself in some way?” She asked thoughtfully. I could see many reasons he would want to save me from myself. I was an internal mess, but I didn’t need him to save me from that. God did that, on a cross 2,000 years ago.

I love her. This is why we are friends. She asks the hard questions I need to hear. This is what friendship is.

I looked out my bedroom window. The day was bright, the sky blue, and the snow winked and sparkled on the ground. Patches of grass peeked through beneath, brown and ugly. Waiting for spring to make things beautiful again.

I sighed heavily. “Not sure. Perhaps. Then again, we are women, and we live in fear of being someone else’s conquest.”

She took a moment to process my words and responded. “Yeah, feminist culture really has made leaps and bounds for us as well as fools of us hasn’t it?” A rhetorical question. We both knew the truth in it. We both didn’t bother playing the gender card blame game. We just knew.

We were damaged. By men. By culture. By overthinking. By under thinking. By women. We couldn’t live in a world without every motivation backed by doubt and speculation. I sighed heavily again. Taking time to exhale my doubts and inhale fresh perspective. I borrowed and altered a phrase from the band House of Heroes “God save us the foolish kings….and queens.”

“Amen.” She politely concluded.

We spoke for another half hour after that. The subject wasn’t brought up again.

Children and Retail

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“Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!”

Her little high pitch squeals could be heard from across the store. She stumbled only once but caught her balance before she hit the ground. Her shoes lit up with every step, and glittered as the lights reflected in every jewel adorning the little sneakers. She only hesitated to take a breath maybe three times the whole run across from one end of the store to the other. Her eyes gleamed with pure innocent joy.

It fell off her head. She stopped, picked up the bra, and put it back on, looping her arms through the straps to keep it in place. Smart kid. She continued to run to the other end of the store, lungs fully warmed up. It was impressive. Her mother ran behind….frantic and embarrassed.

I laughed. This is what made retail worth while.

The variety of parents and children you see in retail is fascinating. I especially like observing the children. Not in a creepy way. In the kind of people watching way that the common (bored) employee does. It’s lively and authentic. I say that because every child I observe has the ability to add excitement to the trip. Some cry. Upset that mom isn’t paying attention to them. Some half complain and half entertain themselves with the varying objects they encounter. Some children try to be helpful. Some just run around the store gleefully expressing themselves with a bra on their heads. Those last two tend to be my favorite.

I remember one little girl a few months ago. Her mother had that look about her. High maintenance, wealthy husband, never had anyone say no to her. The little girl, just sweet as can be. Her mother was looking at jewlery and she so desperately wanted to help her mom. She was reaching for necklaces on her tippy toes and climbing on carts and counters to reach those pretty dangling chains. She’d slip them over her little head and dance over to her mom saying “Mama look. Oohlala!” In her little child voice that sounded so out of place. Her dress would twirl. Even now women love dresses that twirl. The mother would look, slightly amused, make a single comment, and then ignore her daughter to look further for an appropriate accessory. Sometimes she wouldn’t look, and her daughter would scold her. She just wanted to be pretty. She just wanted someone to notice her pretty.

I enjoyed that little girl. I enjoyed her sense of wonder. I enjoyed her little “oohlala” and the little fancy shuffle she did every time she put on something she though was pretty. I admired that spirit. That fearless confidence that children have. They don’t care what people say. They don’t care how they look with a necklace that hangs down to their feet. All they know is they like it. They need no approval, just attention. They want someone to look and admire their exploration of self. I admit I admire it and envy it. I wish I had that kind of innocent confidence. That need for no ones approval. To be that kind of childlike beauty.

I often wonder what happens to that quiet confidence in people. Where does that go? Does it become prey to social convention? Does it disappear when childhood does? Do we lose it when we realize that creativity outside of function, is frowned upon? I venture to suggest all the above. I think adulthood takes a great deal of our confidence and creativity away. Not because we lack creativity when we are older, but because to be creative can sometimes mean being deemed a little bit crazy. Out of the ordinary.

I love graphic design. I know it sounds like a random topic switch, but just hang with me a sec. I love it because I get to incorporate playtime with work. I love drawing. I love critical thinking and problem solving. I love coloring. I love being able to come up with solutions. I love playing with ideas on my computer. I love presenting the options and seeing that moment when a client gets the idea. When I capture their interest. I especially love when they are a small business owner who is finally seeing their dream come true. They get to see their creativity live. Have function. I get the perfect combination of learning and play. It’s almost as fun as playing dress up with mom at the store.

When I’m not designing, I’m critiquing designs. Figuring out ways to make them better. More functional. Because of my childlike joy with design, I also have the gift of childish authenticity…okay I complain like a kid who has been in the store too long. I say what I like and don’t like shamelessly. I don’t like things that are too wordy. I don’t like fake embossing and am not a fan of gradients and drop shadows. Foil printing in large amounts is gross. I hate the typeface Papyrus! Really hate it. It’s cheap. Awful to work with. So over used, and…over valued. Hate it so much….that I’m glad the Egyptian empire fell because they have hieroglyphics that were just to close to the style of Papyrus, and I don’t care how cool their culture is. That kind of hatred. I’m not afraid to say it.

Anyway I digress. Where was I? Oh yes…

We never take the time to just play. Or to find places for ourselves that let us play. We don’t take the time to do what we enjoy. To be a little crazy and funny. To laugh. To be ourselves. We just don’t take the time to be authentic. To be real. Honestly, we just don’t run around department stores screaming enough….especially with bras on our heads. That part is important. We should do that more.

Stressed, Depressed, But….Hopeful.

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I laid in my bed some time, trying to read and simultaneously think about what to post. Again I struggled. I didn’t know what to write. Inspiration did not come. I wondered about my life. How boring it must be. How small and tired it must seem. How sad and lonely.

I promise you it is not true.

Though I deal with depression I find myself with a great deal of optimism. Optimism, that, if I had my way, I’m sure I would discard. But there is a great deal of beauty in my life that I just can’t seem to let go of.

Firstly, I have told so many that my strength is not my own doing ( if we can even call it strength, because much of the time it feels like something else entirely). Perhaps in a great bought of stubbornness I am seemingly strong, but I cannot attribute my strength, any further than stubbornness, to myself. I do whole heartedly believe that the reason I optimistically see such freedom in sorrow, is because of my Christian worldview. I find freedom in the raw reality of sadness, because I do believe God understands my sadness. I also hold dearly to verses like Psalm 34:18 The Lord is with the broken hearted and those crushed in spirit. He did not abandon me here forever. He does not allow sorrow without growth.

So hopelessness is lost on me.

Second, I have a wonderful family, who has lovingly supported me in everything and in any way they can. They don’t understand my depression. They don’t know how I went from a happy little girl to depressed. All they know is they witnessed it happen. Sure they can be insensitive, but I find it hard to be angry when they try so hard to understand something they have not experienced. We do the yelling until we get somewhere, hugs when fights are over, try not to nag, love each other no matter what, thing in my house. So I offer grace when I can, and they do too.

Thirdly, I have developed great friendships with encouraging people. They are not false encouragers either. They are the kind of friends who do not feel obligated to make me feel happy, because they admit sometimes stuff sucks and you need to let yourself be upset, but they also know when to inform me that upset is setting in too quickly, and I need to take some time to heal too. That is indeed good friendship. People who aren’t just buddy buddy with me, affirming everything I do. Who has time for that?

I appreciate authenticity much more than people who always affirm me, and I have found a great deal of friendships that have motivated me to better myself as a person, not just stick with the ever so tempting and self destructive behaviors we all have, and ignore. I have watched too many former friends fall too far, because they refused to befriend anyone who did not encourage their destructive behaviors. I have found a great deal of improvement in my life because of people who disagreed with me when I needed it.

Lastly, I have become introspective…almost to a fault. It’s a blessing and a curse. I question my own motivations very carefully, and spend a great deal of time analyzing my life. This is a scary process. I often come to find that there is a great deal that I do not like about myself, but the beautiful part, is when I identify what I do not like, I am obligated to change it. Thankfully, this change is not made by me alone, I refer to my first reason for optimism. Faith. I do not suffer by any means alone.

There is always hope.

A little less of a depressing post for you all.

Lows

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That shaking sensation had woken me up once again. Both thankful and annoyed I fumbled my way to my shades to let in the morning light. They were closer than the light switch, and less hazardous to get to. My body ached, the weakness in my limbs much more prominent when I was standing. The feeling of extreme hunger setting in. I laid back on my bed for a moment. Don’t close your eyes. I didn’t. The last thing I wanted to do was fall asleep and never wake up. A constant fear in these situations.

I convinced myself to get up. My hunger overruling my weak limbs. I stood, opened the door. Instantly my mother called from upstairs. I didn’t hear what she said and replied “Not now having a low!” At the top of my lungs. I steadied myself against the hallway wall. The kitchen was close.

Nearly dropping the glass bowl on the counter, I placed my hand over it to keep it from spinning. The world felt faint, and my eyes desperately wanted to close. I didn’t know what time it was, but it felt early. Too early. My eyes wanted sleep. Forcing them open I managed to pour myself a bowl of cereal. I began to eat, and I ate quickly. Pretty typical. In less than a minute I was making and devouring toast too. After the toast I fought the strong urge to eat more. Low blood sugars have a habit of making you feel like you could eat anything in any amount.

I recall once having a low blood sugar on a trip to Geno’s East in Chicago. That cool deep dish pizza place, lit with neon lights, and writing on every piece of wall space in the whole building. That night I was so hungry I ate seven pieces of deep dish pizza, and then proceeded to go on a river boat cruise later that evening, while managing to keep all seven pieces of pizza and all my sodas down. I was proud of myself for a while, until I began feeling fat. Then I regretted it, evaluating my desire to overeat each time I had a low thereafter.

I have very few friends who are diabetics. One of them once told me he liked having low blood sugars because they reminded him of being drunk. That was precisely why I didn’t like to get drunk. I associate that loss of control to dying. That’s pretty much what a low blood sugar is. It is a loss of control, because your body as well as your brain is dying. Besides, being a diabetic, I end up skipping drunk with most alcoholic beverages because of their high sugar content, and I just get sick. It’s gross.

So now I lay here in bed. Exhausted. Waiting for my body to rest up, post low blood sugar trauma. I wonder if I even want to get out of bed today, because my blankets are so toasty.

It’s Not Just Sad

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My hand hovered Over the box, ready to check it, but in my mind I speculated. No. I left it alone. I didn’t feel like doing it. I was sick of checking that box. I wanted to pretend for a moment that it didn’t exist. That it never had to show up on these sheets. That I never had to check that little printed box. To know what that felt like. Of course I will not know what that feels like. Not really.

Check the appropriate boxes. Hopelessness. Check. Extreme sadness. Check.

My pen never actually checked the box. I just couldn’t do it. Even in my thoughts it was hard to check them off. When the nurse called my name I answered. When they asked me if I was still on the pills I said I wasn’t. When the doctor asked me how I felt I told her I was great.

When I got home I cried for two hours, wishing desperately I had just checked the box. Maybe someone would know the secret to making this all go away. Maybe someone would finally hear my silent scream for help. I wondered if I had sabotaged myself from the cure. Then I remembered…it was ridiculous. There was no cure. It wasn’t going away.

One of my managers asked me to explain depression to her. A tall order. A draining order. I fumbled through my words until it struck me.

“You’ve been sad right?”

“Of course.” She didn’t respond condescendingly, she did in a wonderful and understanding manner. Patient and real. She was easy to open up to. She herself had been through so much, and so honest to me about it.

“Well, imagine the worst sadness you have felt, now make it you default emotion.”

“Wow…what’s happy like for you?”

“Overwhelming. Then sad.”

She looked at me and admitted she couldn’t even begin to understand that. It’s hard for people to understand. I get it. That’s why so many people don’t think it’s real, or assume they have depression when they’re just in an emotional rut. Because it is so hard to understand. Even the word “sad” has a different connotation based off perspective. When I say sad I mean beyond words, beyond heartache, beyond the kind of sad a person can live through. Beyond the desire to live. A sadness that welcomes death. That is what I mean by “sad.”

There is no understanding it.

Happiness is the worst part. Not just because it is hard to feel, but because so many people demand you feel it. They don’t understand that even though depression sucks, there is so much freedom in being sad. To be allowed to feel such raw emotion on such a basic level. To let it out in tears and anguish, reminds me …us…I am….we are…human and alive. I can close a door and be real. Raw. Ugly. Without judgment. That is freeing. What isn’t is when people try to pry into the loneliness, force us open, and expose that raw ugly within. When they try to make us feel better by telling us “you have no reason to be sad.” We know it. We know we have no reason. That is why it hurts so much. We wish there was reason, so when we exposed the monstrosity of raw and unacceptable emotion to the onlookers of the world, we could say we have good reason. But we don’t. We are frowned upon. We are broken. We are shattered and torn apart by a society convinced we “just need to be happy.” It’s so complicated.

I’m not so convinced life is about being happy anymore. The things people pursue in happiness seem shallow. Painful. Destructive. If that is what happiness is, then I don’t want it anyway. I can handle sad. Sad is okay. It isn’t a selfish sad. It is a sad that allows depth. Understanding. That desires openness and substance. The kind of sad that makes you think. The kind of sad that makes people comfortable with you for your honesty.

I’m super reluctant to post this. I’m the kind of person who hates when people know things I’m ashamed of. I’m ashamed of every illness I have, mental, physical, or otherwise. Why? Because people can’t know there until they go there. The only people who understand are those who are hurting just as much. Suffering the same way. Even then it’s hard to understand because everyone is so different. They feel so differently. They express so differently.

Basically, I’m afraid you won’t get it. I’m terrified you won’t care. I fear judgment and ridicule. I can’t handle the shame and the judgment. I can’t handle the misunderstanding and the sympathetic glances. I can handle sad. Only sad. That is all I can handle. The rest feels like it’s killing me. I’m just so tired. All. The. Time.

So usually I just keep quiet. Because it is easier to keep quiet than to deal with more damage they might inflict. Not that I am their victim, and not that they are an antagonist, but I live in my own skin and know how much words can hurt. I know how warped a broken mind can be. How dark things can get so quickly. How mangled words can get,

I don’t want attention. I don’t want sympathy. I just want to tell the story.

This is Why I Drink

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It isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last time.

That’s what I tell myself whenever I encounter men in my department. They come in, flirt with you and pretend they’re going to buy things from you, but then they don’t. They just want your attention, and they get it because they know it’s your job and you cannot be mean back. They insult you. Harass you. Make sexual comments about you to your face. They leave. Knowing they wasted your time, and enjoyed every moment they emotionally destroyed you. That is an assumption of course. I don’t know what they really think. The fact that it is continual though really builds the case for them though. A few times I have been afraid to go out to my car, because they would be the type to wait for me there.

It’s terrifying. What’s worse is I’m not the only person out there who deals with this on a daily basis. I know because other women do too. I work with them. I can’t imagine how bad it must be in a large scale mall in big cities. I feel for those brave women as I recall a few cases of rape outside one of the bigger malls near me. They had all recognized their rapist as someone they had helped at their store. They weren’t even victims of the same man. To have them so close together was strange and scary. I had been terrified to go up there to shop for months until the perps were caught. I still don’t go to the mall alone.

The problem is people seem to write it off. Sure they agree it’s awful that we have to go through this as women. We have no control over our gender, and have to endure the blatant abuse of men who come in because they need to stroke their ego and do it by giving you a hard time. But what do they do to help women like myself? Well they kindly tell me to “stop exaggerating and get over it” or “just keep quiet and let it go” or even “grin and bear it, you’re pretty, take it as a compliment.” These responses are usually from men, but a fair amount of them from women too. Women who claim to hate the problem, but do little to stop it. They have fallen victim just as much as I have, but I’d dare to say even worse, because they laid down and did nothing.

Often, people tell me I am not a victim because I’m a women. That this isn’t a gender issue. Then, what is it? An individual issue? Do I come across as nice and sweet and pretty and therefore weak? I don’t know. But every part of me wishes retailers had a day where their employees could do whatever they wanted in response to the abuse some customers put them through. I have quite a few male customers I would give a piece of my mind to. I’d show them how it feels to come home, rest in bed and wish they weren’t the gender they were born, or worse, wish they were dead.

What I can’t understand is how people can live without the kind of fear me and so many other women endure. How do they do that? How do they just “get over” being the repetitive target of an abusive person? How do they just “walk off” depression and self loathing caused by someone who looks at you as an expendable object? How does someone get over their desire to be someone else somewhere else, if not because of their gender, because they are pretty?

I have often wished those things. Some day I wish I was prettier and skinnier. Other days the opposite. Other days I wish I was a man. Other days I just wish I were dead because I don’t even want to deal with the inequality and sexism from both sides of the argument. I don’t want anyone to hurt. I don’t want to hurt anymore. Especially not because of something I cannot change. The struggle is very real….and very conflicting.

I have always wondered why women were so often victim to these sexist issues. I realize it isn’t just women anymore, because men have also become victims. Women have made them into antagonists because of the continual mistreatment of women from some men. I say “some” men because not every man is disrespectful to me, but there are quite a few, and to have a daily occurrence of blatant disrespect coming from a man, because I am pretty and a woman that they are attracted to is a little more than any person can bear. I can’t imagine any human willingly enduring someone’s unwanted sexual advances or even blatant abuse.

Quite honestly, I don’t want to hear about how you would “shower me up” while your buying your girlfriend a gift from my counter. I don’t want to tell another lie about my sexual orientation to try to get him to leave me alone, just to have him say to me “you and your gf should come over and party sometime.” Yes, gestures included. I’m also so over being at the beach and having some punk kid say “you a sexy bitch” and the proceed to dry hump my bumper to keep me from pulling out of my parking space as I attempted to escape his continual requests for my number. True story. All true stories. These aren’t even the half of them.

Might I also add to that last story with the “bumper humping beach bum” a few clarifying details: I was fully and modestly clothed in flair jeans and a hoody. So none of this “you must have been asking for it because of your skimpy swimming suit” crap, like one of my male friends once told me. He had assumed wrong. I was carpooling three minors in my car from a beach side women’s Bible Study. No swimming involved either. I almost feel sad I feel a need to include these details, because it shouldn’t matter what I was wearing or doing in the first place, but I wouldn’t want any confusion.

It’s just disgusting. It’s revolting. How do people like that have any business reproducing? Part of me wishes date sterilization drugs were a thing. Just a drop in a drink and done. I digress….angrily.

When I was little I was taught that God made women to be the essence of beauty. To be treasured and admired for their beauty. I see now how perverse it has all become. The effect on me is I see this beauty as a curse. Results of sin. What I see even more is how much women themselves have contributed to it. We became conflicted. We have taken our desire and understanding of beauty and made it equal to the sexualization of the female form. Some of us sold ourselves in some ways, by being too flattered and enjoying the false worship that became feminine objectification. Others didn’t sell out, but became a black market of anti-male manipulating and male objectifying propaganda. Men bought in because we were lovely, and easily objectified, or were cast out by the femme fatal who became man bashers….into the arms of the willingly sexually revolutionized woman.

What we got was and is a hot mess of hating and obsession. Both fueled the fire. Both became victims. Now both suffer.

As for me, I’m considering investing in a can of mace for when I walk to my car at night. It’s a small step of protection I can take off the clock. I only wish I didn’t have to consider violence just to feel secure in my femininity.

Shelby and Oliver

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When she stares at you, it’s almost unnerving. Most cats when you pet them don’t stare directly into your eyes the entire time you pet them. Her eyes are a brilliant emerald. Iridescent. Intelligent. She doesn’t usually fall asleep in your lap like other cats either. She just started at you as you pet her.

She won’t eat if you don’t pet her. She has an odd anxiety that if you don’t pet her it isn’t worth living. I can’t actually say it’s true, but with how needy she can be it wouldn’t surprise me. Ever since the day I had found her abandoned in my yard, alone and hungry, she has needed me and clung to me every waking moment of her life.

I had my cat Oliver for about a year by then when I found her. He was my first kitty. Loving and sweet. My mother had eaten her words when she said that she would let me have a kitty if it was an orange tabby with blue eyes. The very next day my neighbor had brought over a little orange kitten full of cow manure in a big bucket. He had those big baby blue eyes that all babies are born with. I took him and cleaned him off. And let him snuggle in a warm towel with me as I slept that first night. We named him Oliver, because he was an orphan and I took him in and loved him as my own.

Shelby, I had found myself. I was doing online school at the time, which was pretty easy since I would start at ten in the morning and finish by noon. So I would take a great deal of time getting some air while mom was doing her morning routine. I was by the swing set. Laying in the grass. I kept hearing the squeak of the rusty chains on the swings blowing in the wind….at least I thought it was the swing. Until her little wet nose on my cheek scared the day lights out of me. She had nestles by my neck.

She was a little calico tabby with the most beautifully painted face and emerald eyes. The air was chilling and you could feel fall closing in closely followed by winter. I took her inside, telling our dog Sandy to be quiet as he sniffed the little fluff in my hand. She was so tiny. No bigger than Sandy’s snout. Able to fit in my small hands. When he licked her and scared her nearly half to death I shooed him away. He was good with cats, but not little ones. Oliver and he had gotten off pretty well, since Oliver had been a fairly large kitten for his age. Oliver was interested intensely, but didn’t quite know what to do with himself. He pranced around my feet as I got some water in a bowl.

I had to teach both my cats how to drink out of a water bowl. You do it by gently pushing their nose in the water and letting them lick it off. She wasn’t a fan, but seemed grateful for the water. She seemed dehydrated. Her skin wasn’t as elastic as it could be. It didn’t bounce back after I would gently grab her scruff. A tell tale sign of lacking in water.

My mother came into the room a bit surprised. I explained I found her. She looked over the little one and began to call people who might want a kitten. No takers. She looked at the pretty little face and which a sigh she said she would talk to dad about it. That night we named her Shelby.

I had waited 13 years of my life to have kitties. Now 10 years later they have brought me through so much. I used to joke that I would have to keep them until they died, because they knew too much and I didn’t want them to tell anyone else my secrets. They were practically my diary for a while. It seems weird to be the kind of person who speaks so frequently and frankly with my cats, but they were my companions. They were perfectly snugly. They seemed to listen so well.

Oliver in his old age has become fatter and more laid back. Shelby in her old age has become more clingy and terribly fearful of anything and anyone who isn’t me. I think she has some pretty bad abandonment issues. People think I’m odd when I say that, but they haven’t experienced her before. The petting to get her to eat. The constant need to be touched and held when you are in her presence. She hisses when I leave her. She cries for a good half an hour when she is left in a cage. She has safe spots too. When she runs around the house there are only 2 places she can be found, in my room, or in the cat room we made for them in the basement. The only two places she will go.

Don’t tell me animals are just instinctual. I have experienced them and have found them to be very emotional creatures.

Whiteout

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Don’t lose his tail lights. Don’t lose his tail lights. I chanted it over and over in my head as his tail lights began to fade into the white wall. I slowly pressed the gas trying to keep the disappearing tail lights in view. What was I supposed to down shift into when the roads were this bad? Drivers Ed had officially gone out the window. Ah the tail lights had come back into view for a moment. For some reason it had felt comforting to see them. For all I knew they were leading me into a ditch. For all I knew I wasn’t on the road at all. I white knuckled the wheel as I realized he was disappearing. No. No. No. He was gone. A string of swear words spewed from my mouth as I held the wheel steady. I have never been so happy to have four wheel drive in my life.

I had only one more well lit roundabout to go though. Darkness was falling. Daylight almost lost. There was no going back. It was only white and home ahead, if I made it that far. I turtled along slowly. As I went through my last roundabout I began silently praying for daylight to last a little longer. I saw the headlights of some behind me. We would caravan together. For as long as we could.

About a mile from the last roundabout was the interstate overpass. The next landmark I had set my goal on. If only I could make it that far, then I could set my sights on the next. Slowly a red glow higher than the height of my vehicle came into view. It was there, standing lit by the headlights and tail lights of the stand still traffic overhead. The interstate at a deadlock stand still. Night was falling much more quickly. Dead mans curve was ahead. I feared that turn. I would have feared it less if I had seen a plow on the road at some point, but there was no such luck. We were out there alone.

We called it dead mans curve because nearly every winter someone would die in an accident on it. This year would be no exception. As I made the turn the lights of a police car flashed before my eyes. A grey mass of a shadow was in the ditch, like a beast wounded in the darkness. To the far side of the road a series of flashing orange lights came from a shadowy mass greater than the one laying in the ditch. I threw on my own flashers as I drove by the police car. Much of the caravan behind me had abandoned me for the slow traveling interstate. I averted my eyes as I drove past the ditched vehicle. I didn’t want to risk seeing the glassy eyes of death peering back at me. I heard other emergency vehicles nearing the site. They came from behind me. I slowly pressed the accelerator. I had to keep going.

Every open field I passed cast a white blanket of swirling nothingness in front of me and the same mess whirled behind me. I saw nothing. Headlights disappeared behind me. I felt my car hit drifts that couldn’t be distinguished from the air ahead. My speed was steady, but my body and heart restless and tense. My next goal was the gas station. If I could see the glow of the gas station, I would know home wasn’t much further. Only open fields laid beyond for a ways. Then town, which would be well lit. Then home.

The driveway proved to be my greatest adversary. With each plow that passed while I was away came another mass of snow piled up at the end. I slowed and threw my SUV into reverse. It wasn’t safe to stay on the road. I accelerated and pushed forward. I made it half way. I reversed and pushed once more. Barreling through the snowy threshold I parked my car before the door. I could go no further because of drifts. I did not desire to go further. I put the car in park and took a moment to breath before I turned off the ignition. I was glad to be home. Glad to be alive.

I heard the dog barking from the other side of the door.