Cars, music, and broken abandoned things

I was in a discussion recently with a great friend (whom I’ve yet to meet in person) who lives in Detroit. She’s an amazing artist and photographer, and through her, I’ve come to appreciate the forgotten city. When people think of Detroit, it’s often in relation to the breakdown of the automotive industry and the horrible recession/depression that destroyed so many livelihoods so quickly. I jokingly commented that I relate to Detroit, because the three things the city is known best for is cars, music, and broken abandoned things. I have a deep and abiding love of cars, music runs through my soul, and anyone who has read any of my past posts knows that I am a broken abandoned thing.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, some are strong at the broken places.” I’ve not had the easiest life, but I know others who have had it much worse than me. I grew up with the knowledge that I would only ever be second best, behind my sister. It didn’t matter how well I did, how smart I was, how much I tried. I would never be the golden child. That was the first crack. I started dating and discovered that I am drawn to abusive men, either physically or mentally. More cracks. I’ve never been good enough, and because of this, I get cast to the wayside. I am a broken abandoned thing. I’m still waiting to find out if I’m stronger at the broken parts.

Here’s the irony: broken abandoned things can be beautiful. Looking at photographs of abandoned factories in Detroit, I see all the years of history and feel the pulsating energy that once filled those buildings. I don’t see rubble, I see memories. I try to look objectively at my life and see the beauty, and that’s a lot harder. Some breaks can’t be fixed. How do you get over hearing “you’re worthless” and “you’ll never be good enough” continuously without it slowly eating away at your soul?

My answer is a little 10 pound charcoal tabby and white cat affectionately known as Tiggy. He’s also a broken and abandoned thing. He was handed to me through a car window, and the woman (girl, really) who handed him to me promptly drove off, leaving a very scared cat in my arms. I took him home because I was still devastated by the loss of my previous cat Moo. Three days after bringing him home, he started peeing outside the litter box. That’s a common sign of a urinary tract infection, so I rushed him to the vet and it was confirmed. She also told me that during her scans, she discovered that he had a history of untreated urinary tract infections and that his bladder, kidneys, and urethra were terribly scarred and that he would be an expensive cat to keep because of these medical problems. She also told me that he had fractured ribs (and I recently discovered that he also had broken vertebrae in his back which have since fused and cause him to hunch over when he sits). At that point, he was literally a broken and abandoned thing.

I had a gaping wound in my heart from the loss of my Moo, so I told the vet that he was my cat, he needs me, and I would do whatever it takes to make things right for him. Thankfully, a proper diet has solved his UTI problems, his ribs healed on their own, and he loves me unconditionally. He’s no longer broken, and he’s definitely not abandoned, but that’s because the universe set out to put him in my path at the time I needed him most, and he needed me most.

I don’t think I’ll ever get past the feeling of being broken and abandoned. Too many harsh words, too many physical wounds, too many people walking out on me when I needed them most. Until then, I listen to a playlist of musicians who make me happy and I seek out cars that lift my soul. I try to remember that breaks can be repaired, but those repairs will always be imperfect. I try to accept that I am me, and to shut out those people who don’t like me or want to change me.

I look forward to finding happiness again someday. Lately, that’s been difficult. I disappeared from writing for a long while because my life had become so painful that metaphorically slashing my wrists to let the poison run out was too much to bear. The past month has been a roller coaster of emotions. The ascent so high I felt like I was flying, only to be followed by the let down that reminded me that I am a broken and abandoned thing who doesn’t deserve happiness. My depression is lying to me again. I do deserve happiness, I just need to remember that it comes from myself, not from anyone else. I’m sorting through a lot of emotions and dilemmas right now, and flowing words are how I function best. There will probably be many posts over the coming days, weeks, months, even possibly years. Many of those posts will conflict with each other as I argue with myself, and many will probably be repetitive. I apologize in advance if you’ve gotten this far.

Thing(s) that I am grateful for today: Driving around in a light drizzle with the top down and Matt Nathanson blasting on the radio. The soft, extra fluffy white belly that my cat loves to have rubbed. Dark chocolate M&Ms.


My surgical update

I would have posted sooner, but I had to make sure I had it straight in my head first.

This past Wednesday, I finally went in for my long awaited knee surgery. I had been assured over & over again that it’s just a simple procedure & that I’d be up and running around again in no time. I wish it was that easy.

The problem with exploratory surgery is that you never really know what you’re going to find until you get in there and get a good look around.

The good news is that, while I definitely have thinning of the cartilage in my knee, it wasn’t ruptured or torn at all. The bad news is that the condyle head of my tibia (that’s the knobby part at the end of the bones) has suffered extensive wear and deterioration. To put it simply, at 39, I have the knees of a 60 year old.

The doctor did his best to scrape it clean and clear up the mess, but if that doesn’t stimulate new cartilage growth to replace what I’ve lost, I’m looking at a much more invasive surgery, perhaps even going as far as a total knee replacement. Obviously, this is not what I wanted to hear.

I wanted it to be nice & simple, with a fast turnaround time, so I could get on with my life. It doesn’t look like that’s the case here.

I’m trying really hard to be optimistic here, but it’s not easy. It seems like every time I try to make plans to improve my life, my body just laughs at me & something else breaks. At least I have my empathetic cat, who can always tell when I’m having an especially rough day & he comes to comfort me. Too bad I don’t have a man in my life who is that selfless.

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I’d like to be a Luddite

…she says, while typing away on her blog, on a laptop, connected to wi-fi, with her Android cellphone and her Kindle Fire sitting next to her.

Seriously though, I think my world was a happier place before I became so “connected” with it. I don’t own a television. For some reason, modern Americans think that’s strange and often give me recommendations on the best kind to buy when I say I don’t own one. I don’t want one. When my last television died, back in 2007, I got rid of it and never replaced it. I’ve never missed it.  I own a Kindle for reasons of convenience; it’s easier to carry a thousand books on it than to have them in paper and binding. That’s not to say that I don’t like books, I have boxes of books that I have carefully transported through at least a dozen homes, all the way across country and back, and they are stored more securely than some people store their diamonds.

Remember back when we were kids? We rode our bicycles around the neighborhood – without helmets – and we played with our friends outside, making up games with balls and sticks, until the lights came on and we went home to dinner. I remember being 10 and walking to school by myself, and no one thought it was strange. Now, as the mother of an eleven year old boy, I am torn between wanting to give him the freedom to walk home by himself and worrying about strangers abducting him. This is why I hate technology. It’s so easy now to hop on the internet and read about child abductions all over the country (or the world) and think that it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen to your own child, so you must protect them. And yes, we must protect our children, but we must also allow them to be children. We want to lock them securely behind doors to keep strangers away, and then complain that we have an obesity problem because kids these days would rather sit inside and play computer games than run around with their friends outside.

My son is not fat by any means. I’m not saying that as an overprotective mother, he’s inherited my metabolism and seems to be able to eat an entire horse without gaining a pound. I was the same way when I was young. The last time I saw him was in July, for his birthday, and one of the things he wanted to do was go hiking, which I was more than happy to do, because I enjoy being outdoors and moving around. We went to a nearby hiking spot and settled on a fairly flat 4 mile loop. Since this is Arizona, in July, I made sure that he was wearing a hat, had coated himself thoroughly in sunscreen, and had a full bottle of water to drink. Less than a mile in, he was done. He was too tired to continue, so we turned around and went back to the car. I was able to get him interested in an art museum after that, but it was a bit of a disappointment that a mile of hiking was too much exercise for him when I remember riding my bicycle for miles at his age.

Of course, this enforced resting of my knee is driving me insane with the desire to exercise, to move around, to do something other than stretches and strengthening moves and wearing this constricting brace that pinches after too long. I want to pull a Henry David Thoreau and walk out into the woods and live a life of purpose. I want to have a little shack for just me and my cat, heating it with wood that I cut with my own axe, and with water pumped from my own well, and living from sunrise to sundown, with candles for light instead of harsh electricity. Maybe there are still places like that in the world. If so, does anyone know where they are, so they can point me in the right direction?

Of course, I’d miss my car, but I wouldn’t miss my car payments, or dealing with car insurance and maintenance (although, to be honest, I actually love working on cars). I wouldn’t miss the sirens from the local fire station or the helicopters flying overhead. I wouldn’t miss watching people wandering around with their concentration so fully on their cell phones that they don’t see the world around them. I realized this about 10 years ago when I noticed that when I’m taking photos, I try to make sure there are no people in them. I take pictures of things; flowers, trees, sunsets and sunrises, mountain ranges, falling down buildings, and so on, but I try to frame my shots to keep the people out. I guess, subliminally, I was separating out the things I think are beautiful by removing the people. Considering that I have worked in customer service for most of my adult life, I don’t really like people very much.

There are individual people that I like, but as a group, I don’t like humans. I don’t like what we’ve become, as we crowd ourselves into cities and try to seem more important than we are. I think that’s part of why I hate San Diego so much. It’s too big, and it’s too crowded, and everyone is so centered on whatever they’re doing, they don’t notice how they inconvenience everyone around them. I’m guilty of it myself, sometimes. I try not to, but sometimes the technology creeps in when I don’t want it to. There has been more than one dinner where my date spent more time fiddling with his phone than talking or interacting with me. I can understand if you have an important job and it’s a necessity, but just texting with friends or checking on your facebook page while on a date is selfish and rude.

My 39th birthday is coming up in a week and a half, and I’m taking some time off from work to unwind (and also to allow some contemplation of whatever my knee surgeon says), and I’m thinking that it will be a good time to unplug for a while and detach myself from the digital world. Maybe I’ll take my cat on a vacation somewhere with a few good books to read. By candlelight.

Waiting is the hardest part

I had my MRI done on Monday, and was told that the doctor should have the results in by Wednesday or Thursday. Now, even if they haven’t had a chance to really look at them yet, I was hoping to at least hear that they were received. I called the surgeon’s office today around 4:30 (they close at 5, so I wanted to give them the most possible time) to ask if the results had been received yet. I was transferred to voicemail, so hopefully I’ll get a call back tomorrow to let me know what I’m doing next.

In other news, (mom and) I got pulled over as we were headed to the PetCo to do my volunteer time there. I know I have expired tags, because I’m still waiting on the new ones, although the car is obviously newly registered, since that was done when the car was purchased. So, I pull over and get out my license and proof of insurance. I don’t have a registration yet, because it hasn’t arrived yet. All I have is that silly thing they put in your window when  you buy the car. So, he asked me to please pull that out for him as well. Mom grabbed it and I handed it to him. He asked me what date I purchased the car and I said 11/11. He asked me what the dealership told me as far as getting new registration and I said 6-8 weeks. Hopefully it will be soon, since it’s been almost 2 months. He handed me back my registration form and took my license back to his car to run it, comes back a couple minutes later and hands me my license and tells me to have a good day. Personally, I don’t really object to being pulled over if I’m doing something wrong, but pulling me over for expired tags when you can see the temporary registration in the window is just pure time-wasting on the part of the cop.

So, we finally get to PetCo and set up the pens for the cats. Two of our other volunteers popped in for a while to submit an application for one of our kittens, plus Julie and me (we’re the regular Wednesday crew) and my mom and a trainee were all there. So, six volunteers, four of whom are experienced. I was transporting two of our newest kittens, who are extremely timid, into the exercise pen when one of them made a flying leap out of the box, over me, and out the open door of the pen. Kitten on the loose! She made a mad dash towards the front door, and thankfully changed directions to go to a different corner in the store. We spent a frantic 10 minutes or so searching every nook and cranny of the store to find her, which we eventually did. It was a really heart-stopping moment, because we’ve NEVER lost a cat before. Thankfully, that was the most excitement of the night, but it was definitely not my usual Wednesday, end of the week relaxation.

We’ve been crazy busy at work lately and so I’ve been doing as much overtime as I can and still have time for me. I figure no more than 4-6 hours a week won’t hurt me, and it won’t be every week, but the extra money will be nice for my birthday. So there you have it, an entire post with almost no complaining or whining. I think.

Three good things:

  1. I pulled the crinkly paper out of the box from an item I had ordered, and Tiggy has been having a blast playing with it and rolling around on it (much more so than the plush cat bed that I bought for him)
  2. I cleaned my room and put it back in order, which always makes me feel more balanced
  3. I had a desperate craving for Cheetos last night, so when I stopped for my morning coffee, I also grabbed a bag of Cheetos and ate some for lunch. They tasted fantastic.