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.


Doing good, one cat at a time

I’m having another extended bout with insomnia (I get this way several times a year, where I won’t be able to sleep for more than a couple hours a night for several nights in a row), so I figured I’d update a little of what’s going on in my life. I’ll try to keep this post upbeat, because I’ve been dealing with so many lows right now, that I figure I need to talk about some positives in my life.

I volunteer for a fantastic cat rescue group called The Rescue House here in San Diego. We are responsible for rescuing cats and kittens who would otherwise be banished to the streets, put down, or get stuck in overcrowded shelters. I’ve been volunteering with them since January of 2013. I started out as a “center volunteer” which means that I would go into the adoption center (one of eight within PetCo and PetSmart stores in San Diego) and take care of the kitties that were waiting for adoption at that center. I had originally submitted a request to volunteer because I had just had to put my beloved Milo to sleep due to advanced kidney failure, and I wasn’t sure I wanted the commitment of another cat. I ended up getting another cat randomly, but also decided to volunteer as well.

Working in the adoption centers is very rewarding because you get to spend time with a lot of different kitties that have wonderful personalities, despite many of them having some serious hard-luck stories. It’s wonderful and bittersweet when they get adopted, because they all take a little piece of your heart with them when they go.

After I had volunteered at the center for a while, I started doing transportation duty; taking cats to vet visits or rotating them from center to center so they’d get more exposure. That’s fun, if you don’t mind upset cats crying while you’re driving. I also ended up on the fundraising committee and tried my hand at new volunteer intake, where we interview prospective volunteers to see if they would be a good match to volunteer with us, as it is a time commitment and training takes a while, so we want people who are dedicated, not just looking for some easy volunteer work to pad their high school transcript or fulfill legal requirements.

Eventually, I started training to become an adoption counselor, and that is what I’m primarily doing now. I interview prospective adopters to find out if they would be a good home for our kitties, and specifically if they would be a good home for the kitty that they have chosen. Sometimes a great home selects a cat that for some reason or another just wouldn’t be a good fit for that household. Sometimes there are crazy people out there who should not be allowed to have pets. So far, it’s been very rewarding to me. I’ve just approved my sixth cat for adoption, to a wonderful couple who want to adopt a very special cat with specific dietary needs. They’re excited to have her, even though she’s going to be a little higher maintenance, and we’re happy that they love her, because not everyone can see past the “special needs” to see what a wonderful cat they could be bringing into their lives.

I’m still in training so that I have a senior counselor who can help me with phrasing and how to dig deeper into certain questions to make sure that the home is going to be a good fit, but I’m starting to be cut loose a bit, so that I’m able to do most of the decision making. I think I’m doing a good job, and I’ve gotten good feedback, so it makes me proud that I’m able to help in this small way to enable these cats to find forever homes where they can live out the rest of their lives in a loving environment with people who truly love them.

Time is fluid, kind of like cats

Anyone who knows anything about cats know that they are made of liquid. They melt to fit inside any size or shape of vessel, just like water.

Time is also fluid. I know it it’s an artificial construct to provide more stability & accountability so things get done when they need to.

For the past three weeks, people have been commenting on how quickly my surgery is coming up. It’s just over a week away now. That does make it seem like it’s gone really quickly, but I first injured it on September 7th. That means it’s actually 8 months & 7 days to get to the point of surgery.

The closer it gets, the more I stress over it. I tell myself that it’s minor surgery and nothing to worry about and myself laughs at me. To me, it’s major surgery because it’s my body he’s cutting into. Fortunately, I trust my surgeon. I know this next week is going to just fly by as I make preparations for post-surgical care. I also have to make sure Morgan gets a good bath and waxing, because it may be a while before I can do that again.

A story of Munchie

When I was 19 years old, I was dating a guy named David who lived in North Park. There was a pet store in the shopping center by his house, and I went in one day to see the kittens. There were kittens in two cages; little kittens that were between six and eight weeks old, and another cage of kittens that were over 4 months old. I was playing with a cute little brown tabby in the “older kitten” cage when the clerk asked me, “Do you want to take him?” I said that I was just playing and that I wasn’t really looking for a cat. She said that the three kittens that were in the older kitten cage were going to be sent back to the breeder and euthanized or used as breeders if they didn’t get sold, so if I wanted the kitten that I was playing with, I could just take him, because she’d rather write him off as a loss than have him put down or have to live in a breeding facility. She came open and opened the cage and handed him to me and said, “If you want him, just go, and give him a good life.” So I took him.

I brought him home to mom’s house and explained what happened and asked if we could keep him (as every child has done to their parent(s) at one time or another). I told her what the pet store lady had said to me about him being euthanized or forced to breed. She agreed that we’d keep him. Since I wasn’t planning on getting a cat, I didn’t have any cat stuff for him, he just came home with a paper collar that said “Kitten #49” on it. So, his name ended up being Mr Joe Montana Cat, less formally as either Montana or Munchie. I don’t remember how it morphed to Munchie, but I think it probably had to do with his eating habits. He liked to eat, and ended up as a healthy 19 pounder at the height of his life.

I ended up moving out and moving on, and Munchie stayed with mom. He had a calm and sweet disposition and loved to cuddle with his buddy Mumbles (whom I had also brought home as a stray, a year or so later). He and Mumbles were so close as to be considered brothers; they were inseparable until Mumbles came down with kidney disease and eventually had to be put down in 2010. Munchie mourned the loss of his brother and never quite got over it. In the past couple years,  he’s been fighting his own health battles, and today we’re taking him to be put down. He’s tired of fighting and it’s time to let go.

I like to think that I provided him with the good life that the pet store woman asked of me. He had a home, a brother, a sister, a caretaker who loved him dearly, plenty of food and water, and lots of love. He was a good cat.