a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
fresh cuttings 
9 September 2014 01:10 - "Cigarette butts in gutters"
After taking a break from Headspace to think about whether I wanted to keep using it, I decided to give the anxiety series a shot. So far it's pretty good. I haven't been able to do it every day, because doing it at bedtime wasn't really working for me, but I'm doing my best to keep up with it. I'm still annoyed about the enforced altruism, but it helps to have deliberately decided to keep going with full knowledge that that's part of this particular system. Tonight the meditation really emphasized taking a long moment to think about the other people who will benefit from my "improved relationship to anxiety" and I found it very comfortable and emotionally engaging instead of enraging. So buy-in was clearly key, and I'm glad I obtained my own buy-in even if the narration didn't bother to.

The main exercise I'm doing in this series is observing what distracts me and labeling it: thinking, feeling, remembering, sensation. Mostly I'm thinking. I take a lot of notes in my head. I narrate everything I do, as though I'm blogging or tweeting about it or telling my therapist or telling X and J... really, constant narration. Underneath it all is anxiety that if I don't explicitly take note of something I'll forget about it. (This is the same anxiety that propels me to take an empty glass into the kitchen as soon as I spot it, or to put something on my calendar as soon as it's booked. I think of these as good habits, but their roots in anxiety are problematic.) I might try deliberately preparing for meditation by telling myself that whatever happens in those 15 minutes happens outside of time, essentially, and that I don't have to remember any of it. I wonder how that would change things.


We took Sam back to the vet on Saturday when she started displaying UTI symptoms again. They gave her a shot of antibiotics that's supposed to work for two weeks. She was fine Sunday and most of today, and then tonight she started running to the box every five minutes again. :( Poor kitten. I'll call the vet tomorrow and see whether we just need to wait it out while the drugs do their work.

While I'm there, I'll get Alex a Prozac refill; we tried taking him off of it for a couple of weeks and he was just too agitated about being cooped up in an apartment. Poor kitty. He should really be a barn cat with a belly full of mice, a territory measured in acres, and a life expectancy of about five years. But he's a city cat and we would like to keep him around for rather longer than that, so Prozac it is.


Last week I got some erroneous information about a deadline and fell way behind. I did a lot of work last night and today and am now caught up. I'm very pleased with myself for buckling down and getting it done. That's not something I've traditionally been too good at.


My physio pointed out that my right quad muscle is now visibly larger and stronger than the left. Apparently I respond extremely well to electrotherapy; all my workouts at home are bilateral, but at PT we've only been doing electro on the right leg. I've been taking lots of long walks and my legs are very happy about it. My knees still twinge occasionally, but it's all muscle and tendon aches now from the walking and exercising. The joints feel much more protected. I am very relieved to have had a more rapid recovery with my legs than I did with my arms (undoubtedly aided by catching it early and not shrugging it off).


I've been working on a private project that I haven't shown to anyone. I told X and J that it exists, and occasionally I talk with them about it a little bit, but mostly it's for me. It's as much a way of exploring the inside of my own head as it is about the project itself. It's remarkably liberating, having something just for me.


We've had five fans running in the main room all summer: two venting, three circulating air. Sometimes it's six when we turn on the range hood. Tonight I turned them all off, even the little vent fan in the ceiling. The quiet was amazing. I wonder how much of a burden it's been on us, just being surrounded by all that noise. It presses in on you.

Last night I slept with my window open, and my air conditioner off. It was almost too cool to wear shorts today. I'll probably wear jeans tomorrow.

Hello, fall. I missed you a lot. I'm so glad you're here. It's been a tough summer and I could use some gentle breezes.

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3 September 2014 01:58 - "Your cat though"
threesome, analytical
Random assortment of stuff.

1. It hit 92 today, and felt hotter than that. There was an air quality advisory until 10 p.m. Even my aggressively air-conditioned room felt warm and humid. I didn't go out for my midday walk, and missed it. My knees are doing better and I am desperate to be outside and moving around except for the part where the actual air is made up of equal parts murder and hate. Usually I get this kind of cabin fever in the winter; I'm not used to it in summer.

2. A work deadline that I thought I had missed by several days turns out to be tomorrow. That was a very nice email to get.

3. Sam peed on the old suitcase she likes to sit on, and then on the one Alex likes to sit on, and also on the top of my dresser where Alex's suitcase was. So the suitcases are out by the trash bins, and Sam is confused and sad because her usual sitting places are gone. I think it's stress, not another UTI, but I have no idea what to do about it. If I shut her in my room at night she gets upset because she can't get to her litter box (of course I moved it into my room but she doesn't care because it's in the wrong place). If I leave my door open at night Alex chases her around and sometimes chases her out of the litter box while she's using it because he is a jerk. So... I have no idea. I should probably just keep shutting her in my room until she gets used to it, and put up with the inappropriate peeing in the meantime.

Alex is resolutely napping on top of the dresser as though his suitcase was still there. I'm torn between "poor kitty" and "that's what you get for being a jerk and stressing Sam out so much that she peed on your favorite spot".

(The suitcases themselves are no big loss; they were coated in a thick layer of shed fur and I had no plans to ever use them again for travel. I knew this was how they would eventually die. Still, it's sad.)

My room smells of pee despite aggressive cleaning and spraying Anti-Icky-Poo on every surface that might possibly have been contaminated. I am really not happy about this.

I'm taking Sam to the vet tomorrow just to make sure it's not another UTI. At least they'll be happy about her weight gain.

4. J and I had a very nice date tonight: endless punning, dinner out, a lovely lazy stroll around the fountain at Grand Army Plaza (the mist made the warm evening quite bearable), buying ice cream, tasty makeouts. Sex TMICollapse ) It was one of our best dates in recent memory.

R: I missed you.
J: I missed you too.
R: I missed me. I thought you were the one who was gone, but really it was me all along.
J: Yeah.
R: I'm really really glad I got off the Zoloft.

Punning and joking! I'd just plain forgotten how to do that--I'd forgotten to do it. It's good to be back.

5. X had a panic attack tonight because it's been a shitty stressful couple of weeks. J and I wrapped them in hugs until they felt a little better. I prescribed a low-stress diet, by which I mean farming out or postponing anything that can be farmed out or postponed. Hopefully that will help.

6. I reached level 5 on WaniKani! This whole kanji study thing is pretty cool. I am purely astonished that a language can simultaneously have so many pronunciations per word and so many words per pronunciation. (Does "sen sei" mean "thousand correct" or "previous life"? I would have thought the former was a more likely term for "teacher" but it turns out to be the latter.) A lot of any language is figuring things out from context, but the number of meanings for e.g. こう is making me really impressed that anyone can comprehend spoken Japanese at all. Understanding the kanji is actually easier in some ways, and when I mess up on the quizzes it's almost always because I've mixed up on'yomi and kun'yomi or otherwise forgotten how to say the word, not because I've forgotten what the character means.

7. Biweekly Skype dates with karenbynight are one of the best ideas I've had in years. It's just so lovely to hang out and talk with a friend.

I'm tired and I have work and chores to do and I need to do my knee exercises, so I should probably go do the dishes, eat ice cream while exercising (the joy of low-impact exercises one does sitting down), do my work while post-exercise ice is on my knee, and go to bed, in that order.

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1 September 2014 03:43 - "A little butterball"
thank you, relief, improvement
I just weighed Sam and she's up to 11.2 pounds! Hooray! That's actually slightly more than she weighed at her last annual checkup (10.9 pounds). I'm so relieved that the weight loss was caused by an environmental/social thing that we could correct, and wasn't a sign of a dire health issue. When we feed her high-protein kibble in a place where she doesn't feel she has to compete with the other cats, she happily chows down. It's splendid to see her in such good appetite and back to her normal healthy size.

For weight maintenance, the kibble bag suggests feeding her 1/4 cup twice a day. I might give just a little more than that, since Alex sometimes sneaks in and gets a bit of it, but that should be enough to keep her happy.

Weighing her means weighing myself--she doesn't stay on the scale when I put her there, of course, so I weigh myself alone and then holding her and do the appropriate subtraction--but so far that hasn't bothered me. I just have to be careful to only do it once a month. Otherwise I start thinking about my body shape in numerical terms, which I really don't like doing.

In cat drama news, Alex has taken to chasing Sam out of her litter box when he sees her using it. This is Very Not Okay. He also chases her around at night if they end up in the living room at the same time. If I leave my door open at night he sings the "I killed it! Look, look!" song just outside until I wake up and stagger out to see whether he's killed a bug or a cat toy, and sometimes he skitters in and paws under my closet door at imaginary critters. We took him off the Prozac because he seemed to be doing well and getting along fairly well with the other cats, and I'd rather not put him back on it just because he's a rambunctious young cat full of energy, but Sam is nearly ten years old and was never really interested in playing the way Alex wants to play, and I need to be able to sleep through the night.

I tried keeping her in my room last night, and shutting Alex out. That worked okay, since she has food and water here and would be happy to snuggle me until the end of days, but she woke me after about seven hours to ask to be let out to use the box. Tonight I moved her box into my room (to the spot where she peed when she had the UTI) and hopefully she'll make use of it in a fairly quiet way that doesn't require waking me.

Poor Alex. When he saw me today after being shut out all night, he was SO loving and purring and nuzzling and love-biting. I hate locking him out. :( But he can handle it better than Sam can, by which I mean he doesn't howl at my door when he's separated from me for a few minutes, and I'll make sure to give him lots of love and access to my windowsill during the day.

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27 August 2014 03:58 - "Fuzz. Brrr."
panic, bugs
Two big bugs managed to get in from the front garden today. I got one and Alex got the other. He may be a brat sometimes but it sure is useful having a trained killer in the house. I gave him a treat and then emailed the landlord about having an exterminator come poison the garden again.

This post is basically just an excuse to use this userpic.

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18 August 2014 23:50 - "Huddle around the campfire"
depressed, cranky
No mood score for the last couple of days; been feeling just kind of meh and low on motivation. I blame poor sleep, the continuing terrible news from Missouri, and Sam knocking over a glass of grape juice onto me, my bed, my laptop, some books, etc. The bed and laptop are fine, though the keyboard action is a bit sticky now. The books are probably toast. :( But they're replaceable, not rare or signed or sentimentally valuable or anything like that.


In good kitty news, I weighed Sam by the time-honored method of stepping onto the scale* both holding her and not holding her, and she's gained two pounds since we started feeding her kibble in a more secluded and protected part of the house. Hooray! In less good kitty news, the vet called and left us a message today saying that the post-antibiotics urine test turned up some evidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so I have to call back tomorrow and find out what we do about that. I really don't want to give Sam more antibiotics that upset her stomach and make her all lethargic. She seems totally fine right now, energetic and happy and with a very hearty appetite, so I hope the infection is minor enough that we can trust her immune system to fight it off.

* Scale bought for this purpose. It's weird owning one. (Cut for very brief talk of people-weighing; no numbers.)Collapse ) I have shoved it into an obscure place behind some boxes and plan to ignore it until we actively need it, same as any other tool.


My physio prescribed daily short walks up and down a hill, so now I have to leave the house every day. This is a very good thing. Between working from home and cooking dinner at home, it was getting to the point where I could go two or three days without going outside. I should not be worrying about SAD in August! And being that sedentary really isn't good for me (or anyone). Conveniently we have a nice little gently hilly park right nearby, so I plan to take lunch-break walks there.


Working from home has let me get a little too sloppy with my workday schedule, so here's my attempt to get back on track.

Work-from-home schedule, non-PT daysCollapse )

Work-from-home schedule, PT daysCollapse )

Work-from-work scheduleCollapse )

Weekend scheduleCollapse )

I'm going to go set up a bunch of alarms and see whether I pay more attention to them than I do to my current alarms. *shifty eyes*


One last Ferguson link: karnythia and thewayoftheid are planning a trip down there from Chicago to provide supplies and offer help to the town's residents. If you have some spare change, please send it their way; if you don't, please signal-boost the link. I know them personally and absolutely vouch for their integrity and follow-through.

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16 August 2014 02:29 - "Confusion is a walrus"
noisy brain, agitated, manic-bad
Yesterday: work and more work, as is typical for Thursdays. Home before midnight, which was nice. No therping as therp is still on vacation. Got caught up playing a video game but managed to get to bed by 5.

work productivity + compulsive gaming = -3

Today: slept a whole lot, then worked very little, as is (unfortunately) typical for Fridays. Was intermittently a bit anxious and cranky and dizzy, but I took some taurine and shook it off for a nice date out with X including a good long walk from SoHo down through Little Italy and Chinatown (with a detour for pork buns) to Fulton Street. My leg felt only very slightly knee-twingy post-walk and it's fine now, which is excellent. Pulled myself out of compulsive stuff twice before they ate my face: once work things that were annoying me, once tidying when X was waiting for me. Post-date I got another wave of anx but without the crankiness this time. Suspect I needed to eat more, at more appropriate times, than I did. That said, I carefully avoided sugar and chocolate during my cranky and anxious times, and I think that was a very good idea and I should keep doing it.

When I hugged X goodnight, I felt it in a way that I haven't felt hugs in ages. I didn't even realize I missed that. I just felt more there, more able to experience the sensation of a hug. For a moment I was totally present, just being there for that hug and nothing else. I think it showed, because they came out of their room a bit later to ask me something and then gave me another lingering hug just because. It felt really good.

long walk + spontaneous pork buns + joking around + two waves of anxiety + one wave of angry/grouchy + two partial instances of compulsive behavior = +1

Random things:

I've had various parts of Janelle Monáe's ArchAndroid album stuck in my head for days. I keep thinking of Ferguson. Such a pity that the city's just a danger zone.

We decided to take Alex off Prozac--going off antidepressants is the trendy in thing these days!--and he's actually more friendly and snuggly without it. Last night while I was doing my leg exercises, I was petting Sam with my right hand and Alex with my left, and they were both purring up a storm.

PMS appears to now be a two weeks on/two weeks off thing for me, which is very annoying. My boobs are starting to get sore and swollen again, so I guess it's time for the two weeks on. (That might also have been affecting the crankiness today.)

I just finished day six of Headspace's ten-day introductory set of guided meditations. Not yet sure whether I'll upgrade to the paid version. I wish the site gave more information about the content of the sessions behind the paywall.

I think my tinnitus increases and decreases in tune with my anxiety. Hard to be sure, though.

I've bitten down all my fingernails again.

Sex TMICollapse )

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14 August 2014 01:10 - "Day to day we live in a daze"
zombie, retro, tired, groggy, video games
Monday's PT for my intermittently sore knee appears to have annoyed my quad tendon. My leg tendons are so tight that it's very easy to annoy them. Fortunately I know lots about treating unhappy tendons, so I just did my ten-minute Headspace meditation with a big ice pack on the sore spot, and I've been doing gentle stretches all day, and I'll take Celebrex before I go to bed, and I'll keep doing stretches and focused exercises on the nearby muscles and by next week it should be fine.

Ironically, the knee itself is doing fine, but walking hurts in new and interesting ways. That didn't stop me from going to PT today (where the physio was very apologetic about the ouching and gave my leg a splendid deep massage), getting some work done, going out again to run errands (including hauling around ten pounds of kibble and two vials of cat pee*), directing and spearheading the transformation of various ingredients into two trays of turkey meatballs and three servings of dinner, and organizing the hell out of our bathroom supplies. Finally X lovingly chivvied me into my room, where I promptly fell into a chair and decided that would be a good place to stay for a while. I had one (1) slice of cake and some watermelon and a few potato chips, and that fueled me through the rest of the editing I need to do before bed.

* Sam is all done with the antibiotics for her UTI, so we're doing a post-meds test to confirm that the infection is really truly gone. Getting her pee to the vet is much, much easier than getting her to the vet. Much. And the pet food store is conveniently around the corner from the vet's office.

I was not expecting that going off the Zoloft would make me more productive--not in the compulsive uncomfortable way but in the butt-in-chair way--but I'm definitely finding it easier to make myself stop faffing around and get work done. A couple of weeks ago I would have left the editing for tomorrow (and then gotten stressed out by having too much work all piled up at once). I suppose motivation and anxiety have a lot in common.

On the other hand, I'm a bit more forgetful and less focused. This is the second night in a row of forgetting to call the vertigo reporting line before midnight, and I let my phone die and then forgot to plug it in.

I'm also quite dizzy but I think it's mostly from being tired, or at least exacerbated by being tired. I only got 5.5 hours of sleep, which I blame on having too much chocolate and watching an exciting movie too close to bedtime. (I was up until 6:30. Oof.) I've held off taking taurine for the dizziness because I didn't want the taurine to damp down what little energy I had left, and it's not stopping me from doing anything. The top of my head just feels kind of loosely attached. Compared to the Ménière's vertigo, it's barely worth mentioning.

Hooray for no mood crashes. I was a little cranky but no more than I'd expect given undersleep and pain and a lot to do, and I haven't been teary or anxious. Everything going on in Missouri is horrible, and I feel compelled to bear witness and help the news get out, but I have been looking at Twitter as much as I can stand to and then turning it off when it gets to be too much, and so far it hasn't crushed me.

Today's mood score: work productivity + kitchen productivity + compulsive bustling = -2. I'm not counting making dinner, which was really easy, but the meatballs were an actual accomplishment and a task that I would have put off if I'd been in a lousier mood.

And now I sleep ALL the sleeps.

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3 August 2014 04:41 - "So far so good"
loved, happy, satisfied
Zoloft taper: All the side effects are lessening, and I'm not having any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms other than occasional moments of very slight dizziness. Taking a gram of taurine at bedtime has helped considerably with the sleep issues. My body and brain both feel more present, more responsive to stimulus, and more... dextrous. Like I just took off my mittens and now I can use all five fingers. It's a good feeling.

Home: The apartment is still awesome. Our landlord is traveling right now, but when he gets back we plan to ask about extending our lease to two years. Everyone's in decent health, which is refreshing, and very happy about my increased happiness and silliness and snuggliness as the Zoloft-fog lifts.

Knees: Mostly not achy. Did more PT on Friday, with a different guy who massages more gently but makes me exercise more. Isometric exercises (leg raises, knee extensions) have been added to the Theraband exercises. I've figured out how to do all of them without using my arms, so I can play phone games while doing the lying-in-bed exercises and eat ice cream while doing the sit-in-a-chair exercises.

Sam-the-cat: After a week of antibiotics, she's back to her old self. For a while she only had energy to get halfway up to her usual perch, but yesterday and today she's bounced right up there. She's on the antibiotics for another week just to be sure the infection gets entirely gone. We've also been feeding her lots of protein-rich dry food in hopes of getting her weight back up. She certainly has an appetite, and she thinks kibble is the best thing ever, so hopefully having snacks easily available will be sufficient. She's snuggled up to me right now and purring happily. I think that means it's bedtime.

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25 July 2014 22:40 - "Go kitty go!"
hug-happy, cat
Kitty micturition TMI--all good newsCollapse )

Other than that, it's been a very lovely day. My mother came over for lunch and was thrilled by the new place and impressed by our kitchen layout and equipment. Always nice when an FCI-trained chef is happy to cook in your kitchen. :) After she left, X came home early from work and I sobbed all over them for about an hour--going to the vet's office is very hard on me, plus it's just generally been a rough week--and then wiped my face and declared myself done with crying. We spent the rest of the evening snuggling and knitting and attempting to make gluten-free bread in the bread machine (the dough was too wet, so it overflowed and scorched on the heating element; I'm letting it dry out overnight in hopes of that making it easier to clean up, since right now it's basically yeasty glue).

Pre-pregnancy things have shifted X's sleep schedule around a lot. We used to have tea five nights a week from ~10 to ~midnight, but now they're exhausted and ready for bed by 10 or 10:30. This is our first time trying a weeknight date, on the theory that one long date a week could replace shorter but more frequent teatimes. I had been very very reluctant to delete the "time for tea!" alarm from my phone because it felt like such a loss, but if all our dates are as good as this one was, I'll feel a lot better about the change.

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25 July 2014 01:43 - "A wide variety"
noisy brain, agitated, manic-bad
Good things:

The one (1) knee doctor in NYC who takes my insurance was great. He says I have patellofemoral pain syndrome, which means "That pain you told me about, where your knee meets your shin bone? It's pain where your knee meets your shin bone". I love medicine. ℞ is physical therapy to stretch and strengthen my quads, biweekly for eight weeks. Conveniently, the one (1) physical therapist in NYC who takes my insurance is also 20 minutes from my house by a single very direct bus.

This particular variety of knee pain is like most back pain: the best day-to-day treatment is to pretend it's not there and keep doing what you'd usually do. So I've been doing that and my knees are doing better, though still really not fond of stairs.

X and J and I had a really really nice family date night last night. We made a tasty dinner and watched "Encounter at Farpoint", and then J went to bed and X and I stayed up for a bit and snuggled and watched Northern Kings metal covers of pop ballads and giggled together. It was just right, and sorely needed.

I bought new sandals: Naot Karenna, dark brown ("buffalo"). They're very comfortable, though it's taking me a little while to figure out how tightly to fasten the straps; I'm used to the shift-and-give of buckles, not the firmness of Velcro. I had the toe strap on the left one too tight today and it rubbed a bit. But they suit my gender perfectly and my knees feel great when I'm wearing them. And I already had a dark brown belt to wear with them, because this dandy is prepared.

Therapy today was of the wrenching emotional variety and also the being gently scolded challenged by my therp. "Be messy," he said, "and stop policing your emotions." New therp is very very good. I am very very full of feels and now very very aware of being full of feels and very very nervous about letting them out. Augh. Oh well, this is what therapy is for. It is still a good thing, though it's hard.

After therping I decided that what I really needed was a steak and a book where people are nice to each other, so I went out to Outback (not the best steak in the world, but in my price range and right across the street from work) and read a good chunk of a romance novel, and felt considerably better after that. Yay self-care.

Annoying things:

Rose, mid-May: "I'm going to cut back my FSA contributions a lot, since I'm finishing up with my therapist and generally in good health."
June 1: annual FSA contribution adjustment deadline passes
Rose, mid-July: "I'm seeing a new therapist who doesn't take my insurance and now I need 16 sessions of physical therapy. Um. Welp. Guess I use post-tax money for that."

Can't foresee everything, I suppose.

The Naot sandals are made in Israel. I struggle a lot with the whole boycott idea, which has some significant downsides, but it's still hard for me to buy Israeli goods right now. I can talk around and around the politics and morals and practicalities and it comes back to that point of pure emotion: it's hard for me. And I'm so sad that Israel is doing such terrible things. And I'm going to stop here because I can't even really bear to think about any of this right now. (So no comments on this topic, please.)

Sad things:

My poor little Sammycat has a UTI. I think this is the first time she's been ill in the nine years she's lived with us, so she is confused and perturbed. I had to put her in kitty jail overnight because she was leaving sad little pink-tinged puddles all around the house in hopes that maybe if she pees in this spot it won't hurt. I lined the entire thing with wee pads and gave her food and water and a cardboard box to sleep in. It's going to take her a while to figure out that kitty jail is a place she can't get out of, and then she's going to whine and wail for a bit, and then hopefully she'll be able to sleep.

Alex is completely freaked out by the sight of kitty jail--he spent several days in quarantine there when we first got him, and clearly has not forgotten--and really confused by being on the outside of it and another cat being on the inside of it. I hope he leaves Sam alone. I placed it as far from all our bedrooms as possible, and well away from the cat tree that's Alex's most likely perching spot. Usually he and Sam both sleep in my room, but I have my door shut so I can't hear her crying. My poor tiny cat. :( :( :( I just hate making her sad, but I can't stay up all night and follow her around with paper towels.

One of us will take her to the vet tomorrow and get her some tasty antibiotics. Good thing we've trained her to think of Pill Pockets as treats. Since she's never been sick, we've never had to pill her, but I can't imagine she'd handle it well.

Augh, even with the a/c and fan on "high" I can hear her agonized lonelyhowl, the sound she used to make at our old apartment every night because I couldn't let her sleep in my room. This is awful. At least I know from that experience that she'll give up once it's clear that I'm not coming out to free her.

I keep telling myself that this is character-building and will help me prepare for being a parent. Or something.

Time to sleep so I can be a good cat-parent in the morning.

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loved, happy, satisfied
Miscellaneous things:

1) We made chicken and vegetable stir-fry tonight and it tasted just like it came from a restaurant, only better! Recipe here. It's adapted from a recipe for cashew chicken in Easy Chinese Recipes by Bee Yin Low, and it's delicious. Since I'm on a low-sodium diet and X can't have gluten, Chinese restaurants are mostly off-limits to us, and we were both SO HAPPY to be able to have Chinese food again. I can't wait to try more from that cookbook, which in addition to having lots of interesting recipes is full of hilarious snarking at nasty greasy over-sauced American Chinese restaurant food (so of course we tripled the amount of sauce because we are uncultured Americans).

2) Yesterday I built a cabinet for my room, a new china cabinet, a new hardware cabinet, and a new liquor cabinet. My palm is bruised from pressing against the butt of the screwdriver, and I still want a version of [twitter.com profile] crimershow where it's @IKEAshow and every episode ends with people shouting "IKEAAAAAA" and shaking their fists in rage, but the furniture looks really nice. I'm especially pleased with the cabinet door knobs, which I had to place and drill; they are exactly even.

3) It's been ages since I did a cat update. Short version: the new place is perfectly suited to cats, and all is well.

Sophie is still entirely X's cat, but she's getting more tolerant of other people and other cats; these days, when I go into X's room, more often than not they have both Sophie and Sam on the bed, and earlier today I was in X's room alone and Sophie came over to curl up near me. Alex is slowly learning that when Sophie corners him she's not going to attack him--she just wants to gaze adoringly at him--and so he can just walk past her. When he does, she follows him around like a lovesick stalker. It is utterly ridiculous.

Alex mostly hangs out on the enormous cat condo or the window behind it. He also likes the window in X's room (where he watches cars go by like he wants to chase one down and drag him home) and the window in my room (where he watches birds and the stray cats that like to run across the garage roof). He's not really a people-cat, but he's willing to indulge us when we pet him and pick him up. He trusts me the most, probably because X doesn't have much patience for him and J likes to tease him, whereas the worst I do is drag him onto my lap and hug him. Whenever we cook he hangs out in the kitchen hoping for scraps. I call him "the dog I never wanted". At some point we gave up on any notion of rehoming him; he's here to stay.

Sam is still my kitten, but she's very fond of all of us. When I'm asleep she'll go hang out with X or J, and if they're not home, she'll hang out on the suitcase in my room. She's thrilled that I've started working from home most of the time, since it means more time near an awake person. When I go to bed she curls up next to my head for a bit, but she always leaves before I fall asleep. She also naps on the book boxes in the living room. She and Sophie get into spats occasionally, but they're mostly of the "aaa you startled me! *batbatbat*" sort, and she's stopped growling at Alex when he goes past her to get to the window. Her life is mostly placid and uninteresting and she seems to like it that way.

(Right now she's lying comma-style next to me, purring and looking hopefully at my hands. I pet her after every sentence.)

4) It recently emerged that both X and J had harbored a few quiet "what if we...?" thoughts about each other. And now, catalyzed by the baby-planning and baby-making, they're all smoochy and giggly and cuddly and flirting and roughhousing and affectionate and hilarious and adorable. I am about 98% "eeeeeee! they are SO CUTE" and 2% "ngh insecure", which as I recall is pretty typical when one of my partners hits NRE with someone else. We're all dealing fine with the 2% as it comes up, and the rest of the time I melt with delight.

I never expected this in a million years, or hoped for it. They so obviously weren't interested in dating or being lovers. They'd only just gotten to be friends! (I told J that if this were a book I'd have instructed the author to go back and put in more foreshadowing, because it came out of nowhere and that makes it hard to suspend disbelief.) But all my well-honed poly mechanisms are kicking into gear like they hadn't been lying dormant for years. It feels like relief, like the first warm breeze of spring after a long, long winter.

I can't express how marvelous it is to watch them making each other happy. I thrive on the joy of the people I love. To see it doubled, and doubled again--my heart overflows.

Our family already felt like a family, and it was already a good solid family. It's just a differently configured family now, and full of squee. :)

I am also reminded that I can tolerate being someone's only partner, but I always relax more when I'm not; it helps me step down from thinking I have to be available 24/7, and I worry less because I know they're in good hands when I'm not around.

(Now Sam is kneading the blanket over my leg, and Alex has come up onto the bed and thence to the windowsill.)

5) I don't quite know how much is too much to say in public about babystuff, both because I don't want to reveal more than X is comfortable with and because I know it's triggering/upsetting for some folks. I will just say that we're at a stage where all we can do is wait, and it's daunting and terrifying and frustrating and I hate waiting so much. Also, everything important happens much earlier in the morning than I would usually be awake for. I really ought to go to sleep because I have to get up in about four hours, but it's hard to sleep because I'm so nervous.

(Now Sam is asleep on the pillow to my right, and Alex is asleep on the pillow to my left. Earlier he was purring and licking my hand. What good kitties.)

6) I reached level 72 in Swords & Potions 2, and "beat" Gemcraft Chasing Shadows in the sense of completing the level that it thinks of as final. There are some other levels I haven't even unlocked yet, but I'm carefully staying away for now. My arm needs to recover from the cabinet-building.

(I patted Alex and woke him up. He's purring like gangbusters and kicking my hand away whenever I try to pet him. He gets like that sometimes. Silly cat.

(Ah, he's rotated so I can reach his back without threatening his tender belly. Everyone's happier now.)

7) No but really I should go sleep as much as I can. I hope I can sleep at all.

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29 April 2014 23:38 - "Hustle and bustle"
Fun things, Apr 29: went out to dinner with J for our first post-move date night.

Today was all about answering the door--USPS package, UPS package, laundry, FreshDirect, FreshDirect with the thing they forgot the first time, and internet installation--and getting my room in shape. I moved things around so I could turn my bed 90 degrees, and I'm much happier with the setup now. I put shelves in my bookcases and discovered that I'm missing one cabinet shelf, probably lost in the last move; I may replace it with drawers, since craft supplies go in that cabinet and drawers would be a lot more useful than shelves for that. I unpacked and put away all the craft supplies, craft books, and language books. I also ran a couple of loads of dishes, and set up our .

After dinner, J and I moved lots and lots of boxes around. The nonfiction and YA are all in the guest room, the how-tos are in X's room, and the cookbooks are set aside to be shelved once we figure out where we're putting them. I put away the linens, so the only remaining Juggleboxen are the coats-and-shoes ones (which can now be emptied because I found the hangers for the guest room closet) and the ones with J's clothes.

The cats got so disgruntled at the box-moving that they all ended up on J's bed, the furthest from the noise. I'm very amused that a) they're all as far from one another as they can get while still being on the same bed, and b) they're arranged in a rough circle in exactly the order I'd expect. Sophie is totally indifferent to Sam, but she's madly in love with Alex and staring yearningly at him from afar. (Not making this up. She's completely obsessed. At the old place she followed him around constantly, and sometimes sat and watched him sleep. It's adorable and horrifyingly stalkerish in equal parts.) Alex is oblivious to Sophie's interest, and is watching for Sam to get up and leave so he can chase her because chasing is fun. Sam is keeping a very wary eye on Sophie, whom she regards as more of a threat than Alex (an accurate assessment).

Earlier Sam and Sophie spent quite a while hanging out on my bed, much nearer each other, once again in identical poses. I'm delighted by how much time Sophie is spending in places other than X's room, and by her allowing the other cats and even people (!) to approach her.

I'm resisting the urge to put more things away. Everyone else is asleep and it would be loud. Maybe tomorrow.

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29 April 2014 01:03 - "There's love in this house."
laughing, joyous, frubbly
Assume that all my experiences.fun in the past week were related to packing and moving and unpacking.

Fun things, Apr 27: snuggles and smooches with J, and then more snuggles and smooches with X.
Apr 28: cooked dinner in our splendid new kitchen. Our very first homemade meal in the new place! I even found the box with the tablecloth in it and set the table properly. It was lovely.

I love this apartment SO. MUCH.

I got up absurdly early today to get to my brother's swearing-in ceremony; he's now an esquire! Then I had a really nice brunch with my mother and still got to work on time. And great things are happening at X's work, and J has a date on Friday, and the cats are getting along astoundingly well now that they don't have a narrow hallway to get trapped in, and I got a new bedside table lamp to replace the one that broke in the move, and the landlord came over to check on things and promised to fix the few things that need fixing and we actually believe he's going to do it (unlike our last landlord), and everything is just kind of amazingly great right now.

The kitchen is starting to look like a kitchen. It's huge. HUGE. I can't wait to get everything squared away and start cooking amazing things.

I unpacked all the boxes that were in the middle of my room. I might rearrange my bedroom furniture a bit; turns out all my clothes fit in my closet as long as I can hang my coats in the guest room closet, so I don't need to set up the portable closet, which gives me room to turn my bed sideways from the way it is now. I'm resisting the urge to move all the furniture RIGHT NOW because everyone else is asleep and that would be rude. Plus it's all heavy. I should wait until J's arm is better (he strained it moving other heavy furniture) so he and X can help me with it. I'm just impatient, not least because I can't really shelve books until the shelves are in their proper final place.

My cuticles got dry from all the packing and dust, and my nails got longish because I didn't have time to file them down, so today I bit down all my nails and tore some cuticles and they hurt. :( But a few weeks of much slower unpacking and regular moisturizing should help them get back to where they were.

I'm experimenting with leaving my bedroom door open so the cats can come and go. So far I like it, though they do wake me up occasionally.

Speaking of which, time for sleeeeeps.

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26 April 2014 23:45 - "EVERYBODY MOVE!"
peace, garden, home
We're home.

I've had intermittent vertigo all day, maybe because of stress or lack of sleep or maybe just because of lousy timing. We're all emotionally stressed and physically sore. One of our bookcases didn't survive the move and my box spring is clearly in need of replacement. But whatever, we're home.

My room is the size of one room. It has all my stuff in it and no one else's. It has precisely one door and that door leads into the apartment. These seem like such basic things and yet they feel like miracles.

I set up tiers of furniture for the cats and put Sam and Alex's suitcases on them. They're asleep on the suitcases right now. The dishwasher is chugging quietly in the kitchen. We have giant heaps of boxes to tackle tomorrow, but tonight we managed to make our beds and hang curtains and take showers and feed ourselves, and that's good enough.

Time to fall over a whole lot.

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13 March 2014 02:54 - "Happy happy joy joy"
laughing, joyous, frubbly
Fun things, Mar 11: EVERYTHING. It was warm and sunny! I got work done! My client was really happy and said lovely things! I sat out on the back deck for an hour in short sleeves and got very very slightly sunburned! I vacuumed the living room and hallway! J left work early so we could have a walk in the park while it was still daylight, and the walk was great! We made a kickass dinner! We had super hot sex! It was a day of win. :D :D :D
Mar 12: had a really good family conversation over dinner

Also good today, though I wouldn't call it fun: X and I spent most of two hours consulting with an excellent fertility specialist. She was extremely smart and extremely thorough, and we now have a PLAN, which is what we didn't have and so desperately needed.

Less good: Alex got into something smelly, and while X and I were washing him he managed to scratch my chin. It's just a little scratch and I'm sure it'll heal up quickly, but it's annoying, not least because I have Liquid Skin on it and I keep wanting to pick at the edges. Bah. Stupid cats.

Ungood: It's 4:20 a.m. and I'm still awake. Must go fix that immediately.

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4 February 2014 23:53 - "My cup runneth over"
loved, happy, satisfied
Fun things, Feb 4: After a really lousy month and a half, J and I FINALLY had a purely nice date. We went out to a lovely dinner, walked a bit, came home, and snuggled. That maybe doesn't sound like much, but our recent date nights have involved things like fevers, panic attacks, and sobbing with grief, so I will totally take it.

I felt like I turned a corner health-wise today. I celebrated by scrubbing the bathroom sink for the first time in I don't know how long. Maybe this weekend I can vacuum! My priorities are perfectly in order thank you very much.

Also I gave myself an excellent close shave, and got a lot of work done (by which I mean sat around and read a chunk of my current client novel), and was permitted to scritch Alex under the chin for multiple minutes. It was a very nice day.

Media log:

15) "A Hollow Play" by Amal El-Mohtar. (Short story.) I love Amal's work and this story is no exception. It's gorgeous and the emotions in it are very powerful and very real. Love is hard, sometimes. Letting go of people you love is hard. I got teary-eyed at the story's climax. And the ending packs a wallop. I won't be surprised to see this on the Nebula shortlist.

Verdict: Thumbs way up.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, most definitely.

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illness, safety
Rose: today i went to the store and made lunch and ran the dishwasher and took out the trash and took out the recycling and took out the bathroom trash and took out my bedroom trash and it all felt SO GOOD
Xtina: yep
Xtina: next time you get sick, we're strappin' you to the bed

I felt so good, you see, that I foolishly said to J, "Let's go for a short walk, just down to the park next to the museum; it's nice out, 44 degrees and something like sunny." About 45 minutes later I was back home and completely freaking out about being short of breath. Cut for details of non-emergency breathing issues and panicCollapse )

Part of the problem is that I'm getting several kinds of weak/wobbly at once:

1) nose is stuffed up and lungs are inflamed, so breathing is more work than usual (though when I was at the doctor's my blood oxygen level was 98% so again, nothing genuinely scary going on there)
2) anxiety makes me dizzy
3) my right ear is blocked up and that makes me a different kind of dizzy
4) I'm low-energy from fighting off the virus
5) I didn't eat much for two days and I'm still getting my caloric intake back up
6) ditto sleep

So when I feel woozy I don't know what to do: eat? drink tea? take a hot shower? lie down? distract myself? push through it? sleep? freak out? stay home? see a doctor? It's very annoying, especially because so many of those things contradict one another. And I am so. tired. of sitting here doing nothing. It felt good to get to work yesterday, and good to move around today. I don't want to be sick and weak and wobbly! I want to be better! I drank orange juice with lunch; shouldn't that have instantly cured me of all ills and woes?

I think I should add "panic attack triggers" to my list of things to work on with my therp. Maybe at the top of the list. Especially if I'm going to go off the Zoloft, which I do really want to do.

In the meantime, I'm going to go take a hot shower to try and de-stuff my nose, and then go to bed.

I am really ready to be done with being sick. Really a lot.

(How glad am I that we got a 15-month lease and will be moving May 1 instead of today? SO glad.)

EDIT: See, this is what I mean. I'd been avoiding the shower because if I'm dizzy, humid heat often makes me feel dizzier. I finally took a shower and immediately felt my lungs open up like flowers in the sun. Wish I'd known it would work that way, oh, eight hours ago. My body's diagnostics are crap. "Feel bad!" "What kind of bad?" "Dunno! Bad!" *sigh*

And then Alex got out and went up four flights of stairs because what I really needed was to climb stairs. (For once the building hallway was cool rather than icy, probably because it was above freezing and sunny today, so at least I wasn't sucking in cold air while doing it.) Fortunately he took his time about it, so I could follow him slowly rather than attempting to run up the stairs--which I wouldn't want to do anyway as he is not a very graceful cat, and I didn't want to risk him freaking out about being chased and attempting a dangerous jump through the stairway railing--and the roof door was closed. I stood with my back to the wall and gave him a nice clear path back down the stairs, and eventually he decided going back down on his own was better than me carrying him, a sentiment I heartily shared. So that was my exercise for the day. Somewhat to my surprise, I'm not especially short of breath after that. I guess the shower helped a lot.

Grrrr, cats.

Anyway, he is back inside, and I'm in bed with moderately functional lungs and a moderately clear nose (also thanks to the shower). Of course I'm all wound up from cat-chasing, but I'm pretty sure the tiredness will overwhelm that soon.

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22 January 2014 00:26 - "First, take two hundred eggs"
hug-happy, cat
R: Sam was very very focused on kneading. I tried to pet her and she glared at me. Kneading is apparently hard work!
X: Well, sure, it takes a lot of concentration for that little kitten to "make biscuits". She probably got the recipe off the internet.
R: *cracks entirely up*
X: Epikittyous!
Sam: *glare*
X: I'm sorry, kitten. I'm sure your "biscuits" are just fine.

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zombie, retro, tired, groggy, video games
Fun things, Jan 20: had a very enjoyable lunch at Dutch Boy with J, since our offices were closed for the holiday; watched The Usual Suspects with X, who miraculously had not been spoiled for it, while knitting a slipper. I might even finish this pair of slippers while the weather's still cold!

Media log:

10) The Usual Suspects. (Movie.) Rewatch. I hadn't seen it in ages and was concerned that it had been visited by the Suck Fairy, but nope, for the most part it's still really excellent. Like many caper movies, it spectacularly flunks the Bechdel test; of the two women who appear onscreen, one gets about five lines and the other exists merely to scream, get raped, and die violently (which is then treated as a character-defining moment for her husband). If you can overlook that, though, it's a genuinely suspenseful action movie with hilariously filthy dialogue and some superb acting and direction. And if you haven't seen it and think you might want to, don't look it up. (Especially not on Wikipedia, which helpfully provides a very detailed plot summary including the denouement.) I'm generally pro-spoiler but this is one of the exceptions.

Verdict: Thumbs up as long as one's inner sexism alarm is turned off.

Would I share this with FutureKid? [personal profile] mrissa left an interesting comment on my last media log post about this question. I think my responses are generally falling into three categories: eagerly share, tolerate, discourage. (In all cases, append "at the appropriate stage in their mental/emotional development" and assume open discussion with FutureKid about the reason for my decision.) I'd file this one under "eagerly share". By the time they can handle the depictions of violence, we'll presumably have had plenty of spot-the-sexism conversations, and once those things are dealt with, it's a very good movie.

I meant to go to bed earlier, but Sam and Alex were on my bed being all well-behaved and snuggly, and I couldn't bear to kick them out. Alex actually trapped my hand against his head so I would keep scritching him. Quite a purr on that cat once he manages to relax. Also quite a grip. He's a big strong tough guy and no mistake, even when he shows his belly. (It looks all soft and fluffy and inviting, doesn't it? Spoiler: it's a trap. Try to pet it and you will be very firmly pushed away.) Even when he stretches out, he has to keep his legs akimbo like a dudebro on the subway. Kitty, I would be more impressed by your enormous balls if you still had them.

Anyway, I finally managed to evict the cats and now it is very much bedtime. Hopefully I won't have nightmares like I did last night. (A classic being-chased-down-stairs nightmare, even. I was impressed and also really annoyed. I haven't had to endure one of those in years.) And for the rest of the week I will get back on my proper sleep schedule no matter how cute the blasted cats are.

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lonely, sad, hug
Java J. Jasper, 1996(?)–2014. He was the tallest, longest, hardest-working, kindest, most elegant, absolute bestest cat.

In his youth he was an escape artist--I believe he's gotten out of every home we've ever lived in, most notably by unlatching a window screen, going down the fire escape, and jumping onto an air conditioner four stories off the ground--and an athlete who once broke his jaw by misjudging a leap from the top of a bookcase. He aged gracefully into a dignified gentleman, tolerating years of medication for pancreatitis while acting as though he'd never been sick a day in his life. He took his responsibilities extremely seriously: kneading his favorite fuzzy red blankets like he had a biscuit quota, watching vigilantly to make sure we didn't drown in the shower, and cuddling anyone who was sad or unwell. He was strongwilled and could be demanding and insistent, especially if a person was eating chicken or steak and he felt he deserved a taste; there was never any question that he was Top Cat, and he was quite comfortable bossing around people as well as other kitties. But he was a gentle giant, never a fighter, and when we picked him up or dragged him into our laps he patiently put up with our shenanigans (though afterwards he would wash vigorously to recover his dignity). He had a purr like a motorboat and shared it more generously than any cat I've ever known. He was happiest curled up in a cardboard box, sprawled on a windowsill or in a sunbeam, stretched out on Josh's chest, hanging out on a bed with a person nearby, or licking Sam's head. (When we knew his life was nearing its end, both Josh and X independently brought Sam over to him so he could groom her one last time.)

Java was a tolerant step-cat to me and X. He was a bemused but affectionate foster parent to Sam, and he carefully and patiently taught her how to cat. When we disturbed his old age by bringing home Sophie and Alex, he graciously made room for them, brooking no disruption of his routine while magnificently ignoring their social errors. He was friendly and respectful to our human guests. Most of all he was Josh's cat, and Josh was his person, for 17 good long happy years.

He will be greatly greatly missed.

PhotosCollapse )

Comments are off because I can't handle it right now, but your well-wishes are much appreciated.

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Fun things, Jan 4: went for a walk while it was still a bit light out; snuggled with X; spent hours playing the Blockheads (a 2D Minecraft clone for Android, with which I am a bit obsessed) and eating Oreos. Nothing momentous, but it was a somewhat down day--I'm in that deep-winter stage of being absolutely desperate for sunlight in a way that keeps translating into loneliness no matter how much time I get with people--and I'm pleased to have been able to squeeze as much fun out of it as I did.

I wasn't sure whether I was in the right mood for closet-cleaning, but X reminded me that I had planned to do that today, so I gave it a try and it worked out really well. X kept me company and successfully refrained from mocking my hoarding tendencies while I filled three large clear trash bags with femme clothes I will never wear again. I kept a bunch of the fancy party dresses because I do love snazzing it up every once in a while, but all the dancing skirts and conference clothes and Ren Faire garb are gone. I feel very good about the decisions I made. I'm certain I won't miss anything I'm getting rid of, and I'm pretty sure I'll wear the things I kept. And since I cleared out an entire closet's worth of stuff, I was able to get my dress shirts and blazers out of Josh's room and bring them into my room, which means I can get dressed entirely in my own room! This is exciting!

I wish I knew local transfeminine people in my size who I could give these things to. It would be so appropriate. But I don't, so I'll probably just invite folks who wear sizes 4 to 10 to come by and pick through at some point in February. If you're interested, let me know. (Yes, [personal profile] teaberryblue, supertailz, and [profile] a4yroldfaerie, I know you're interested. *grin*)

I ended up with three cats in my room in the evening. Java, who's ailing again, looked so happy and comfortable on my bed that we didn't want to move him. Alex, who's mellowed considerably since we put him on Prozac, flopped on the bed not far from Java. Sam was up on the suitcase on top of the bookshelf. Alex had previously colonized the suitcase, but Sam appears to have taken it over; there was one evening where they carefully shared it, and since then he's ceded it to her. They all hung out and snoozed and didn't bicker, and it was lovely. The only downside was having to carefully shepherd each individual cat through the outside hallway and into the rest of the house when bedtime came around. (Java went first, slowly and carefully. Alex dashed up a flight of stairs and then dashed back down before dashing into the apartment. Sam surprised me by running out of my room when I came back from ferrying Alex. They are all so very much themselves.) I'll be so glad to leave this apartment and its wacky layout.

And now I should do my best to wind down and sleep. It's J's birthday and I'm sure he'd be happy if I were awake for some of it. :)

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1 December 2013 02:08 - "I won't take you along with me"
wistful, longing, seeking
On the past three nights, according to SleepBot, I slept 9.1, 9.1, and 9.7 hours. In a row. In my own bed. In my own safe quiet non-pee-smelling room. All by myself. SUCH JOY.

A thousand blessings upon the person who first tried giving Prozac to anxious cats. Kitty happiness, at lastCollapse )

Today I hung out with X for a while; they've been ill for the past few days but were mostly over it today, so we took a short walk to run a couple of errands and then hung out in their room on our separate laptops. Eventually I got hungry, as did J, so he and I reheated shepherd's pie for dinner (mmm, pie) and ate together in the living room. After a couple of pwnies (mmm, more pie) he wandered off and I stayed at the table, reading an old favorite book as the Hanukkah candles burned slowly down next to me. It felt like an unexpectedly sweet callback to adolescence: after the family candle-lighting and gift-giving and dinner-having, peaceful time to curl up and read, with that lovely alone-in-shared-space feeling of the warmth of other people's recent presence without the pressure to interact. Sam hung out in my lap for a while, which would have made adolescent-me delirious with joy. I reheated some stew for X when they got hungry and then went right back to my book. I must have sat there for two or three hours like that. It was perfect.

And then suddenly it was almost 10, and I felt a wave of anxious certainty that X and J would both be jealously resentful of my time alone. On solitude, and not owing anyone my timeCollapse )

In the meantime, I've spent two hours on this, and that was very worthwhile but it has me up two hours past my bedtime. The danger of four-day weekends is the sleep time and wake time both slowly creeping later. If I don't want to be thrown entirely awry on Monday, I'd better get myself to bed.

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exhausted, spoons
The last few days have been good days. The week before them was not.

Thursday was especially difficult due to a combination of work stress and X getting extremely ill while out with coworkers, to the point where I had to go pick them up and bring them home because they were in no shape to get home on their own. If that had to happen, it happened as well as it could have: illness only temporary, all lost items recovered, and colleagues tremendously kind and supportive. It was still pretty wretched, and scary. We spent most of Friday recovering.

Foundling cat update: he's just not into us.Collapse ) I feel awful about not being able to keep him, but it really just is not working for him to be here. He needs to be an only cat and have a home where he can run around and own everything, with no other-kitty-smell anywhere to set off his territorial urges. He'd also be a great working cat in a place with mice, and a great indoor/outdoor cat in the countryside. (I'm usually vehement about keeping cats indoors, for their own safety as well as for the sake of songbirds, but this guy really needs room to run.) If you know anyone who would be interested in adopting him and would be able to provide a home that would make him happy, please point them to his Petfinder ad. We're glad to help transport him anywhere near NYC.

In brighter news, as I said, the last few days have been really good. It's been a nice quiet weekend. We really needed one of those. J had gaming both days and got social time with his new friend D, I got to go out and bustle around, X got time alone, and we had a lovely family dinner last night. X and I went shopping yesterday, as we both needed new jeans, and X's shoes were so worn that the holes had holes in them. We found everything we wanted and then some. I should not be allowed in the menswear department at Macy's without a minder; even with X hovering over me I still managed to impulse-buy hat-friendly earmuffs (which I needed) and suspenders (which I did not need but they're very smart and they were on sale and I've been wanting them for ages and... this sort of thing is why my Twitter handle is now Dandy McFopperson). J and I got in a good stroll to the grocery store today in the bracing cold; the thermometer said 27F but it felt like about 15 with the wind. We've discovered a brand of vegan pesto that was well worth going out in the cold for. Dinner both last night and tonight was pasta with pesto and sausage because it worked so well once that we figured we'd do it again. Tonight I added cashew ricotta and that was pretty splendid.

This afternoon I finally created a page on our household intranet that lists known-good meals. That's partly in anticipation of spending much of Thanksgiving weekend stocking the freezer, and partly because we tend not to plan meals much in advance and sometimes get caught up in cycles of "I dunno what to make"/delaying/getting hungrier/getting less able to make decisions. I went through the past five years or so of recipes on my journal and linked them from the page, tagged things V(egan) and F(reezes well) and S(picy) as appropriate, and now have an excellent resource that I suspect we'll refer to frequently. It felt really nice to just do a thing because I felt like doing it.

Oh, and I broke my nearly yearlong reader's block this past week. Yay for reading. It feels very good to be able to enjoy books again.

Next up: a three-day week, then a four-day cooking marathon weekend. How is it Hanukkah already? It feels like only a few weeks since I lit the last of the candles I bought in Paris. I'm not complaining, though; any light we can make against the darkness is very welcome right now.

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5 November 2013 18:19 - "I accidentally a cat"
hug-happy, cat
In an effort to fight seasonal depression, I've put "do something fun" on my daily checklist.

Acquiring a stray cat counts as doing something fun, right?

A grey and white kitty giving the camera a skeptical look

This is the foundling cat. We have so far resolutely refrained from naming him. We weren't going to get a fourth cat until we moved, you see. The rule is one cat per bedroom, and we have three cats and three bedrooms, so we are full up.

But he rubbed on my ankles and practically demanded to be taken in. I was pretty sure he was the cat we've often seen in and around the nasty deli on the corner (which we suspect of being the deli that kicked out Jasmine, not least because this cat looks just like her; compare video of Jasmine and a photo of the foundling), so I went in there and said "Your cat's been loving on everyone up and down the block, did he get locked out?". The counter guy shrugged and said "Not our cat". At that point I became so suffused with rage at people who toss domesticated cats out on the street that I felt a moral obligation to give the kitty at least a temporary home.

We agreed that my room would be the quarantine zone, so X and I lured him in. It was remarkably easy, as he's quite a tolerant cat; he clearly doesn't like being picked up, but while he struggles and looks uncomfortable, he doesn't bite or scratch. I set up a litter pan and a couple of dishes of food, and rubbed him down with a washcloth in lieu of a full bath, and resigned myself to sending all my bedding out to be washed once it became clear that the grubby and indubitably flea-ridden cat was also a bed-exploring and person-snuggling cat.

Within 24 hours we'd taken him to the vet, gotten confirmation that he's neutered and FIV/FeLV-negative, gotten him some medication to combat fleas and worms, and all completely fallen in love with him. He's incredibly sweet. His purr is amazingly loud and frequently deployed. He's an adolescent boy and still recovering from his time on the street, so he literally eats as much as our other three cats combined, but he doesn't demand food; he just waits for us to notice that the dish is empty and fill it again. (See that "other"? I already think of him as our fourth cat, despite myself.) When I go to bed he rustles around a bit and then settles down and doesn't keep me up or wake me up. When we let him see the other cats he hisses a bit and then runs away; there's been one bout of territorial spraying but he was considerate enough to do it on a bag of things that already needed to be dry cleaned. He's curious about everything and wants to stick his nose everywhere, but on his own terms, and when he encounters evidence of other felines he runs away. He's SUPER friendly to people. He's quite athletic but doesn't like being up high; he'd rather hide on the bottom shelf of a bookcase or behind the radiator. He's death to toy mice as long as they stay still long enough for him to sneak up on them. When Josh and I bathed him he made a few squeaky noises and squirmed a lot but was about as well-behaved as a cat being bathed can be expected to be, and within a few minutes he was purring and loving on us again. He's sweet and adorable and smart and great.

He's been our tenant for four days, during which time we've gone from "of course we can't keep him" to discussing possible names. At this point it's really just a question of how well the other cats tolerate him and vice versa. I hope hope hope it works out.

I have been doing non-cat fun things: going to a totally rocking TMBG concert where they played every single song off their first album plus a whole array of crowdpleasers, having an amazing dinner with Miriam and supertailz, knitting, and, on one slightly desperate night, playing with that day's animated Google Doodle and deciding that was fun enough to count. But mostly I am all KITTY KITTY KITTY. And that's okay.

EDIT: Of course, immediately after I post this he got to the "PEE ON ALL THE THINGS" stage. Time to pave the room in puppy pads.

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