Posts tagged with "cats"

nothing is something worth doing

When talk of COVID was hit­ting our shores and busi­ness­es were start­ing to shut down as a “tem­po­rary” mea­sure, I expect­ed the sit­u­a­tion to last a great deal longer than a month or two. Gut feel­ings sel­dom grace me, but some­thing told me the Western world was severe­ly under­es­ti­mat­ing the sit­u­a­tion. Maybe it was the mem­o­ries of my last trip to Hong Kong in 2009 — five years after the SARS out­break was declared over — when malls and streets that were once packed to the point of claus­tro­pho­bia were then lucky to see more than a hand­ful of souls each day. The ther­mal cam­eras at each bor­der cross­ing in main­land China cer­tain­ly gave me the impres­sion that a pan­dem­ic was some­thing to be tak­en seri­ous­ly.

cat on tree

A while back, the Humane Society host­ed a cat-tree build­ing work­shop, and we decid­ed to make a date of it. Percy, being a percher, is very pleased with the results (espe­cial­ly when com­bined with an emp­ty box).

It’s already been four months since Heather start­ed work­ing from home. The lit­tle space she has set up at the pub table in the liv­ing room offers her a view of the back­yard while she takes calls and makes quotes. Management has decid­ed to fol­low their own safe­ty pro­to­cols1, which means it’ll remain her office for the fore­see­able future. She com­plains to me about how Byron gets in the way of her video meet­ings every time he walks across her lap for atten­tion, but I know deep down she loves show­ing him off to any co-work­er who’ll lis­ten.

Taking lunch­es togeth­er has been an unex­pect­ed lux­u­ry2 — being avail­able for kiss­es through­out they day even more so. I no longer feel the need to fill the hours with busy­work until she can keep me com­pa­ny again. That’s prob­a­bly why the quar­an­tine has­n’t been as dif­fi­cult as expect­ed; this is noth­ing com­pared to the bouts of unbear­able lone­li­ness I’ve sur­vived with­out a fam­i­ly or part­ner on which to rely. Not that I was going out much before any­way. Depression and trau­ma had already kept me house­bound for years.

freestyle rap cypher

One of the last times I saw Jesse was at the fifth birth­day par­ty for Dominion City Brewing, where he was lead­ing the freestyle cypher.

The biggest change has cer­tain­ly been Jesse’s absence from my life. I’m thank­ful for the fact that he’s not tak­ing any risks (both for his sake and his house­mates’), even if it means I’ve gone months with­out his com­pa­ny. His inten­tions to be in bet­ter con­tact come to him when he’s falling asleep or sucked into work, and I feel strange­ly com­fort­able inhab­it­ing the space between; I know it’s not cause he does­n’t care or I’m not impor­tant, that he’s always strug­gled when it comes to man­ag­ing time and pri­or­i­ties.

Even with a life­long his­to­ry of aban­don­ment issues, I can feel secure in a rela­tion­ship where I have no idea when I’ll see the oth­er per­son again. It’s a sign that I’m not only recov­er­ing from emo­tion­al wounds, but grow­ing too. The fact that I could go this long with­out post­ing some­thing is anoth­er sign. I used to be such a goal-ori­ent­ed per­son with projects lined-up, one after anoth­er. Creativity, work, and self-improve­ment were huge parts of my life. But so much of that moti­va­tion came from the fact that I nev­er felt like a valu­able per­son unless I was mak­ing progress on some­thing, that I nev­er deserved to be hap­py unless I suf­fered a great deal for it.

After strug­gling with men­tal health for so long, I’m start­ing to under­stand that hap­pi­ness itself is a per­fect­ly rea­son­able goal. And now that the deci­sion to iso­late has been tak­en out of my hands, I’m try­ing to indulge the indo­lence. If I was ten years old, it would be a dream come true to be giv­en inter­net access, a com­put­er, and so much free time. Maybe one day I’ll fig­ure out how to live a life between the extremes of indul­gence and mor­ti­fi­ca­tion; for now I’ll stay in, try­ing to be that boy again.

  1. They don’t trust the var­i­ous gov­ern­ments where their offices are locat­ed. []
  2. She gets an hour, so some days I’ll go down for an ear­ly after­noon nap and she’ll pet me to sleep. []

introducing Percy

Losing Dolly at the begin­ning of the year was absolute­ly dev­as­tat­ing. However, I was also buoyed by the fact that we sud­den­ly had space for a new cat in the house. What bet­ter way to help me through the mourn­ing process than to have a new life keep­ing me com­pa­ny while Heather’s at work? And since her dream was always to have an orange tab­by, I set about find­ing her the per­fect kit­ten from the Humane Society back in January.

cat in box

I thought he was still teething, but it turns out he just real­ly likes chew­ing things. Also, sleep­ing in box­es.

Kittens tend to go with­in a few hours of being put up for adop­tion, so at one point I was check­ing the web­site every hour for avail­able can­di­dates. When there hap­pened to be a tiny male tab­by at 14 weeks old on the oth­er side of town, I drove over imme­di­ate­ly and found him in a cage sleep­ing with his sis­ter (a beau­ti­ful lit­tle cal­i­co). It broke my heart to split them up, but I also knew she’d soon be snatched up her­self.

Continue read­ing “intro­duc­ing Percy”…

Princess Dolly, 2003–2018

Dolores was more than a pet. She was capa­ble of pro­found love (or burn­ing hatred), and that loy­al­ty made her feel more like a lit­tle per­son than a com­pan­ion. With the abil­i­ty to rec­og­nize peo­ple through win­dows, I’d often find her sit­ting on the sill at the front of the house, wait­ing to greet me with a cho­rus of raspy meows when I came home from work; a rit­u­al only spe­cial guests may be privy to, if they’ve pre­sent­ed the princess with enough presents.

I adopt­ed her in uni­ver­si­ty, and she was a con­stant pres­ence through many res­i­dences, house­mates, girl­friends — we even shared our space with oth­er cats for years at a time. When find­ing me after a few moments apart, she’d come lean against me with an arched back, invit­ing me to scoop her up, and I’d make a point of spend­ing a bit of time to cradling her like a baby, even if I was just pass­ing through. Sometimes we’d lie in the blan­kets and stare into each oth­er’s eyes; there was as much com­fort to be found in her purring as my warmth and atten­tion.

I could tell our bond was spe­cial from the start, and being fear­ful that I’d nev­er share any­thing like it with anoth­er cat again, always made sure to cher­ish every sec­ond.

Continue read­ing “Princess Dolly, 2003–2018”…

eight lives left

A lit­tle while ago, Byron stopped hold­ing down his meals, and we’d con­sis­tent­ly find chick­en parts scat­tered about the house short­ly after he ate. A vis­it to the vet, along with the usu­al blood tests, came up emp­ty. It was only an x‑ray at the ER that showed a small object lodged at the start of his small intes­tine, block­ing the path of diges­tion.

It did­n’t come as a huge sur­prise. Byron was a relent­less cat when it came to search­ing for food. I could­n’t tell if he’d roam the house for things to eat cause he was hun­gry, or if his hunger came from the con­stant roam­ing. Sometimes we’d find chewed up toys passed through his sys­tem, but more often than not they came up the oth­er end, cov­ered in bile. It was only a mat­ter of time before some­thing got stuck.

cat in cone

The face of a killer defeat­ed by a fur­ni­ture screw.

I try to have a prag­mat­ic view about my cats. Operations of this scale on any sin­gle one are hard for me to jus­ti­fy, when I could use those resources to save sev­er­al more (espe­cial­ly when I would­n’t love a new cat any less). So I left the deci­sion up to Heather, con­sid­er­ing the fact that she’s the bread­win­ner now, and she’s had a stronger con­nec­tion to him ever since she start­ed tak­ing care of the cat’s meals.

It was­n’t a dif­fi­cult choice for her, and she gave the vet approval to oper­ate with­out a sec­ond thought.

Cat at Wintersday

Heather’s spent more hours as his ranger alter-ego, Byron Tightslasher, than any oth­er char­ac­ter. Every detail of his vir­tu­al per­sona is care­ful­ly cho­sen to mim­ic Byron in real life, from the pat­terns of his fur, to the tilt of his muz­zle. In keep­ing with his per­son­al­i­ty, even the ranger pets that fol­low him are named after foods, such as his juve­nile eagle called Drumsticks.

This Christmas, Byron’s “Santa Claws” per­sona includes a snow­fall aura, Wintersday weapon set, wreath back­pack, and Ho-Ho-Tron mini with match­ing san­ta hat.

After leav­ing Leonard at the hos­pi­tal for an emer­gency oper­a­tion, then find­ing out the next day that he was gone, I was ter­ri­fied that I’d nev­er see Byron again, but he soon came home with a new col­lar and a shaven bel­ly, weak from not hav­ing digest­ed a prop­er meal in so long.

It’s been a few months since, and he’s rebound­ed quite well, though a lot more cau­tious when it comes to the things he decides to put in his mouth. I sus­pect he’s learned a very painful les­son about not eat­ing some­thing just because he can, which means by now he’s at least smarter than most pup­pies.

shaved belly

BELLY NEEDS BOOPING

I could tell Heather loved my kit­ties, cause she obsess­es over their health, projects their per­son­al­i­ties onto oth­er ani­mals, and talks about them cease­less­ly (whether it’s to me or peo­ple she just met). She even role-plays as them in Guild Wars 2, her favourite part of every sea­son being the chance cre­ate a new cos­tume. But after see­ing the how much effort she put into sav­ing my lit­tle boy, then nurs­ing him back to health with del­i­cate patience, I’ve start­ed to under­stand that love goes deep­er than I real­ized, for both them and me.

nothing lasts, but nothing is lost

It’s been a few weeks since I left the com­ic book shop. I’m glad to have gone through the expe­ri­ence of being a pro­fes­sion­al nerd, to have met the par­tic­u­lar set of chal­lenges involved and flour­ished, but I could tell it was time to quit when the stress was car­ry­ing over from one shift to the next, even with days between.

Without the need to run tour­na­ments, or the pres­sure of deal­ing with cus­tomers, I have a chance to breathe again. That means doing my best not to wor­ry about being pro­duc­tive or hap­py. Just try­ing to feel okay can be enough of a day-to-day chal­lenge.

Cat in Tigger costume

Their spe­cial bond comes from the fact that she lets him get away with more than I do.

Heather and I are tak­ing the next few months off to regain our bal­ance and adjust to our new dosages of SNRIs. Now that I’m in a place where I’m feel­ing more safe and secure, I can tell it’s still hard for me to let go of neg­a­tive thoughts, even when the stim­u­lus is gone. I’m com­ing to terms with the fact that I’ve been fight­ing depres­sion my whole life, and the fact that I’ll like­ly be on even more med­ica­tion for the rest of it1.

I wish I could turn to writ­ing for cathar­sis, but I’m not strong enough to process the mem­o­ries. Parts of the past are still too recent, too famil­iar, too painful. And some­times it’s hard to think of the per­son I was only a year ago, even know­ing how far I’ve come. I’m start­ing to real­ize that time is what I need most, which means I also need patience and trust from my friends.

Cat and Magic: The Gathering

The only com­mit­ments I’ve kept are my play­group on Sundays, and my Wednesdays with Lisa. Otherwise, I’m lost in Guild Wars; the eas­i­est way to escape and feel pro­duc­tive at the same time is to work on dai­ly achieve­ments by slay­ing drag­ons.

And that’s how I lost the Autumn. I did­n’t even real­ize the leaves had turned and fall­en. Now that I’m not work­ing (and I’m the one who always hosts), it feels like I nev­er leave the house. The only reminder that win­ter is here is when the heat comes on, and the smell of dry fur­nace air fills the room. I was look­ing for­ward to the first snow­fall of the sea­son, but the plows have already been out and I haven’t had a chance to take it all in.

  1. On top of the anti-inflam­ma­to­ries, pro­bi­otics, and psyl­li­um husks I take every day to man­age my col­i­tis. []