The Horror of Disconnection

It was a dark and stormy night…is how this tale of horror should begin, but it was actually a bright and lovely morning.

I awoke without Wifi.

Nothing on my phone would load which wasn’t startling given its antiquity. (It’s paid off dammit.) However my computer with whom I had planned to spend some morning coffee time would only say that its broadband link had been garbled and funkled; I should check to see that the wire whooozits were tight.

The stomach tightening realization that I would have to DEAL WITH SOMETHING before peacefully going about my day sank in. I unplugged, re-plugged in, and held buttons down to restart all the blinking things that seemed relevant before dialing the dreaded 1-800 number for customer service.  A robotic Ken doll interpreted my graveling morning voice to determine that I had a “connection problem” then made fake automated typing noises to somehow reassure me of his competence. He let me know that my whooozits provider was funkled across a broad area, but was on the case and that I should not try to contact any humans as they were not privy to more details.

Did the gods of the internet not know that I had things to do today! There were cat pictures I needed to view on Instagram. What if someone’s status on Facebook had been updated overnight? How was I supposed to play Words With Friends while pooping? Should I just go back to reading a book on the toilet? Auughhhh! What. About. My. Pokemon. Game?

Incredibly annoying all around! Almost as annoying as my daily activities being dictated by some invisible doohickey that I don’t really understand. I just know it makes my trivial stuff work, but that somehow I was doing okay without its existence like twenty years ago.

However the part when humanity truly suffered was when I had to wait until everything re-connected to post this adorable photo.

This is pre-vacuuming today. The carpet is a slightly different color now. 

A PSA from W. Charles Marmota

Animals don’t like fireworks.

That should be the logical, common sense end to the discussion, but noooooooooooooooooooooo.

Fireworks are loud, flashy, and unpredictable. None of that is appealing to animals. Fear makes US unpredictable and we really tap in to that flight instinct.

Let us stay home. Crowds create anxiety, people suck, and it’s July so it’s as hot as Satan’s balls in polyester booty shorts. If you HAVE to take us with you to big crowded events, then this might be more about YOU, and you might be a douche bag. Find some other way to get attention from strangers. (I’m talking to you as well, lady who brings her parrot on  a baby stroller to festivals.)

Let us stay home. Better yet, bring us indoors. Let us panic within the safety of solid walls. Protect us from the neighborhood asshole who thinks it would be funny to light firecrackers near us…or worse.

Overall we prefer May the Fourth.

Keep us safe.

W. Charles Marmota

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Almost literally pouring cats and dogs at least in underground piping!

It’s been a busy week for one of my favorite shelters, Colony Cats and Dogs.

Monday, they helped to initiate the rescue of a dog trapped underground in a sewer pipe. They speculate that the dog was chasing critters into the pipe and got lost then trapped.

Tuesday led to more underground drama…with another happy ending which is a good thing or I think I would be a mess.

At about 11:30, I saw that the shelter had posted a video of their surveillance footage on their Facebook page. (Follow the link for videos) Around 4 am that morning, someone had left three very spry and curious kittens at the shelter’s door without containment. The kittens jump up to interact with the big cats behind the glass then, according to the volunteers, one stayed behind and the other two set off to the right of what is essentially a strip mall and giant parking lot full of businesses.

For once, for whatever reason, I decided to respond to the call for volunteers who could come search for the two wanderers who had  a 7 hour head start. I checked in with a volunteer who was cleaning the still closed shelter. She was a little hesitant as I’m not an official volunteer, but I’m familiar enough with the shelter and have adopted from there plus I was a warm body willing to aimlessly walk around in the rain looking for something the size of a softball.

She showed me the one kitten they had, a hissy little ball of fluff in the back of a giant carrier, and sent me on my way. I decided to walk around even though she suggested driving and said others had been driving around the area stopping at dumpsters, hoping food smells would attract the kittens.

I more or less decided to take a lap around the shopping center, checking out landscaping as I went. This plaza has an open courtyard midway with large hostas and dense shrubs which seemed like a good place to check out. I worked my way along the plant bed, and had  success when I bumped into some rain-soaked hostas. Two little bodies shot out from under the hostas, through a clear patch and under a shrub.

HOLY. SHIT.

Brain went into panic mode. What to do? I pulled up Facebook and called the shelter where, of course, no one answered the phone. I tried a mother cat calling kittens video, but I only got sad little squeaks in return. It was an awkward spot and I was afraid that my flailing attempts to grab them would send one or both of the kittens shooting out into a busy parking lot next to an even busier road.

So I ran. I don’t run. I joke that I only run if bears or killers with chainsaws or bears with chainsaws are chasing me, but that I would eventually give up. Fortunately, the volunteer I had talked to and another woman saw me coming and frantically waving. Yes, I had found the kittens!

I followed them through the back alleyways behind all the shops as a quicker way back to the courtyard where we formed a human perimeter around the shrubs. I could see the little gray and white kitten crouched at the base of a shrub across from me. The volunteer scrambled down, grabbed it, and handed the squalling, soaked kitten to me.  I, of course, was ready to go full Lenny, tuck that kitten into my bosom and love it, until they directed me to put it in the carrier. The carrier, that was probably the more responsible route.

Mysteriously the black kitten was no longer there. In a matter of minutes, it had pulled a vanishing act. I was even second guessing what I had seen as people started to question me about finding BOTH the kittens there. But I remembered noticing its mittens as it scurried behind its sibling, an intrepid tuxie. When you’re permanently dressed like James Bond, you tend to also act like him.

Of all the kittens, it had to be least noticeable black one. Of all the weather  conditions, it had to be raining wavering back and forth from mild to pouring. As more volunteers arrived, we spent the next two hours repeatedly combing through the same bushes, crawling through mulch and grass, sure that the kitten was hidden in plain sight. (The dead mummified duck in the second set of bushes surprised me every time.)Crawling under larger bushes, dumpsters, and a concrete thing that I don’t know what it was for but there was A LOT of shit, including a cat bed, down in it. A volunteer with a heat sensor showed up and ran it over the dense bushes. We did expanding laps around the shopping center, and reconvened to theorize on kitten logic. Plates of smelly food were put out, live traps were discussed, but no one was really sure how to proceed. The rain made all of the open downspouts in the area an obvious and  horrifying possibility as to where the kitten could have gone to in such a short time.

I trudged back around to the shelter with the group feeling like a quitter, but completely unsure of what to do next. I was soaked from shoes to underwear and on the verge of  publicly crying if I stood there talking to people much longer. No matter how miserable I felt, that lost, wet, hungry, scared little furball wherever it was hiding was worse.

Home again, I took an extremely hot shower, put on dry clothes and tried to occupy myself while checking the Facebook thread every few minutes. Should I go back? What could I do? I resolved to go back in an hour if nothing had changed. Basically, my mind would be able to only contain one kitten and nothing else for the rest of the day. Then one of the searchers I had talked to, posted that they had heard some meowing in the courtyard area. Yes, I would go back! Except that they were now sure it was coming from a drain pipe. I was among the frantic back seat drivers, commenting and questioning what could be done!

For the second time in two days, a local fire station stepped in with Colony Cats to save a furry life. I watched video from a conveniently dry and unheroic spot in my house as the rescue was made. I am certain I recognized the boots of one of the early searchers who crawled around on the ground with me, and who, I’m pretty sure, said she was supposed to go to work that day. I know she was as soaked as I was when I last saw her; I don’t think she made it in to work.

I’m so grateful to have been able to help a bit and incredibly grateful that this worked out and that Piper, Pearl and Puck who have their own Facebook page now are safe and already have people clamoring to adopt them. Could time and resources have been saved if I had made a grab for two kittens on my own? I can’t know. Could the person who dropped them off have done so more responsibly? Ab-so-frickin-lutely!

Cole and Marmalade posted a story about the kitten rescue and the dog rescue the day before! They’re kind of a big deal in dorky cat obsessing worlds 🙂 If you’ve made it all the way through my picture-less ramblings, reward yourself with their article which has all the adorable rescued kitten pictures and associated videos your heart can handle.

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Stuff like this makes me hug my warm, dry, VERY well-fed “kittens” extra hard.

Mother Nature, Why?

IMG_5247Mother Nature, why?

Snow, flash floods, tornadoes, snow

It’s been a long week.

#badhaikus

Seriously, we woke Monday to an inch of heavy, wet snow. It was really pretty. All the tree branches were perfectly outlined. However it felt a bit like April Fool‘s a day late.

By Tuesday afternoon, there were flood watches, thunderstorms and tornado warnings. I was trapped in the dentist’s chair while lights flickered and thunder boomed. The week proceeded in a wet way with high winds and temperatures fluctuating from the 20′ to the 60’s and back again. Sometime Friday night to Saturday morning, the snow arrived again.

My sinuses gave up at some point Tuesday night and achieved maximum snot production Friday morning. Spring in Ohio!

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Hell is — high school English

We’re getting ready to read the play No Exit which means establishing a basic understanding of existentialism.

Hell is— trying to explain existentialism to high school seniors. I’ve never done well with philosophy myself. Life has meaning, but is completely pointless. Well, fuck.

I told them that my clearest memory from Philosophy 101 was a T-shirt my professor wore at least once a week. It had a Groucho Marx quote on it: “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Good stuff.

They survived a visual demonstration of the Allegory of the Cave so we could totally tackle Sartre and Camus, right?

One Hank Green Crash Course video on existentialism later, and half the class made the finger gun gesture to their heads. Solid start.

Honestly, I was a little concerned that some of them might immediately latch on to ideas within existentialism. I mean, Hank Green is telling them that only they can create meaning in their lives regardless of what authority figures like teachers and parents want them to do. We just want them to graduate, but that idea sounds like a built in excuse to get high and do nothing. Suddenly they’ve discovered their essence; they’re all existentialists!

I had them holster their finger guns and we tried some guided notes to simplify.

1. Existence before essence. You’re born and then you figure it out. Only YOU can determine your essence/passion/purpose/importance in life and prevent forest fires. This basically sounds like 3/4 of today’s high school curriculum. We spend so much time trying to reflect on you-iest version of you. Find your path. Group hug.

2. We are condemned to be free. Sounds good, right?! Unfortunately, it means that we are free to make millions of minute choices-turn left vs right, set your alarm for 6 am instead of 6:01am, have the chicken instead of the fish- and suffer the consequences of all those choices. No matter what it’s your fault, kids. I am their daily dose of sadness. The finger guns were back.

I accidentally demonstrated the third point through a classroom supply mishap. I gave everyone a half sheet of paper and told them they had 5 minutes to draw me a picture of Hell, knowing that their drawings would lead to a discussion of archetypal imagery: flames, devils and pitchforks, oh my.img_4504

They started digging into the perpetually dried up marker box for just the right shades of Hades. It doesn’t matter that our department orders a few boxes of new markers every year, I think they send us dry, uncapped markers with the colors picked over from the start.

Within a few seconds, a cry went up.

“THERE’S NO RED! IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT COLOR IN HELL!”

And here concludes our intro to existentialism.

3. Life is absurd. The final downer for the day is that “absurd” means pointless and meaningless. All those choices? Whatevs. Draw Hell with red markers or don’t. Same same.

There are no red markers. Enjoy drawing Hell, Sisyphus. Insert maniacal laugh here.

(I can’t even plan shit like this.)

I’ll leave this here just as my high school French teacher would after reading The Stranger.

I Don’t Know How to Answer That

How was your summer?

I don’t know how to answer that. 

I’ve always hated that line of questioning. How was your weekend? Your break? Your whatever? I’m not completely convinced that anyone really cares how my time was spent. It’s a knee jerk social convention that I am guilty of employing myself. 

The asker just wants the other person to respond with “Good” or “Fine”, or possibly with a short but interesting anecdote. Often the question is a jumping off point for the asker to launch into a story of his or her own. “Oh, well let me tell you what happened to me. You’ll appreciate this!” Chances are good that I won’t, but by all means proceed. 

Much as we may or may not appreciate witty vacation stories, no one REALLY wants to know how it was if it was bad. Unfortunately for others, it is completely within the scope of my personality to stop people in their tracks with exactly how bad it was. 

My beautiful friend died this summer. That’s how it was. 

Yes, I did some fun things and had adventures. I could pull out an amusing anecdote if needed. Heck, I was at the beach with my family for the first time in five years when she passed. I wasn’t there for her alcohol soaked bedside vigil at the hospital with her family, and all our friends and a red wagon full of booze. I could only post photos and memories to the Facebook group from afar, going back as far as possible in my digital archives. So how was my summer?

I hovered around the idea of emailing our school staff and begging them to pinky swear not to ask each other the dreaded question. After all, our friend and colleague’s fight against cancer had been the entire school’s fight for nine months. But my reputation as the person who says the inappropriate thing or the snarky thing stayed my hand. Somehow it would have come across wrong. As school started, inevitably the question was asked even by people who had been directly active in her care. 

So I’ve tried to be a good kid and answer with stories of caterpillars, zip lining, yardsales and the like. But a part of my brain screams about her as I tell those stories. 

Particularly today. Her sister reminded us that it was a year ago today that everything changed. What she had spent most of a year thinking was sciatic nerve pain hobbling her movement, was an insidious creature absorbing her hip bones and building tumors up and down her fragile spine. It was so wretched and evil that doctors wouldn’t be able to identify its source for another six months. 

Running its course, the cancer immobilized her, then teased her and us by letting her build back the strength to walk unassisted again. It took her hair. It took her appetite and stole her taste for favorite foods. She could no longer stand chocolate. That’s a horror story. It played with creating new lesions and growths in different parts of her body just to keep the doctors guessing. For a while it gave her a lazy eye and double vision. And in the end, it sucked up her ability to get enough oxygen on her own, and her dream of seeing her two-year old at Disney. But all through the ridiculous ups and downs, and loss of dignity, she smiled her gigantic Disney princess smile. A smile that had a little bit of the villainess behind it. I couldn’t have loved her as much without a little wickedness being there,and a shrieked “RIGHT!” and cackling laugh in response to my own sarcastic commentary. 

She was a life-long cheerleader, positive but not a Pollyanna. Where I would have been the worst and grumpiest patient, she was gracious to all. She gladly absorbed all the tributes, signs, tshirts, videos, and projects created in the name of keeping her strong; or more likely keeping us strong as we powerlessly watched everything happen. 

There had to be times when she just wanted a private life instead of constant well meant bombardment. Times when she was overwhelmed by the pain and the fear of what was happening. She must have leaned on her mother, sister, and husband’s shoulders in those moments. I only had a few moments like that with her. As always, she worried about other people, not wanting to make them uncomfortable by talking about how she really felt or things like planning her will. She was more often in the role of comforter. 

The first time I visited her after the diagnosis and initial surgery, I cried because all the pain killers made her voice sound strange. Of course, she just kept saying,”I’m sorry. It’s okay.” As if this was her fault. It’s a cliche, but I’ll never feel like I did enough or visited enough or did all that I could for her. But I desperately cling to the idea that she was mine. 

The last time I visited her with a friend, she was groggy and in and out of a very disturbed sleep during the visit, not really aware of us until we were leaving. When I told her I loved her as I kissed her goodbye for the day, she managed to make eye contact and mumble a “love ya” back. 

So that’s how my summer was. 

“Sorry about your vagina” Part 2: Maybe your vagina needs a t-shirt?

I’m not very good at protesting things unless child-like whining or loud profanity counts. Also I’m not very good at understanding why woman have to continue to fight so that their reproductive organs aren’t constantly batted about as political whipping “boys.” I mean if we’re going to be archaic, let’s burn some motherfuckin’ witches while we’re at it! Clearly vaginas are full of witchcraft.

I’m great at sarcasm-see above-, and at imagining evil fantasy plots that I should not put into writing as they may be used as evidence in future court trials.

I’m pretty-okay at making silly, angry drawings for greeting cards. However I am not okay with walking away from the daily news with a sane mind.

 

No April Fools, March was Women’s History Month. With no sense of irony, Evil Anderson Cooper Impersonator broke that tie for the vote

Fortunately, I have friends who are more politically astute than I. Their arguments do not revolve around “eat shit and die, evil empire!” Yea, I would have wreaked havoc on the Death Star.

My squirrel friends at Squirrel Den Studio have found a way to rise: the Pussyhat Pussycat tee. With every purchase they make a donation to WEDO.

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Under that pussyhat, which sidenote I have had for years because…cats, there is all kinds of witchcraft and nasty woman. It’s called hot yoga hair.

The Den made me a racer back version because I’m like their unspoken, unrequested (they did not ask for this post) super model.

Check them out on Etsy for your squirrel, dog, and feline needs.

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These shirts help make donations to animal shelters.