Possibilities…

16 03 2013

I like to imagine winning the lottery sometimes. Or just a millions dollars.  I’m not all that greedy.  But i like to think about what I would do, and I’m sure for the majority what I would do would be pretty boring.  I wouldn’t set off to travel the globe calling no place home and having no ties (but believe me I would totally pay to take the massive world wide cruise I’ve head about because cruising is freakin’ wonderful!) and writing my memoirs, because who the hell would ready my memoirs?

Okay, maybe Oprah and a bunch of lonely, drama starved housewives, but there are far more interesting, far more twisted life stories out there and I would just feel a pretender amongst them.

Regardless, I think the first thing I would do would be to finish my living room while my grandmother was off on a short vacation (that I would have paid for of course).  You see she has a serious case of the DIY bug, and our house is constantly under construction in some form or another.  We play musical bedrooms, re-purpose rooms, knock down walls, put new ones up, and typically run out of money about 3/4’s of the way through.  Right now, that mostly finished room is the living room that is sitting in what was once our car port.  It’s a nice room. Kind of small, kind of dark, and there is still some mudding and sheetrock-ing that needs to be done (not to mention the floors and the paint and the finishing touches on the electrical), and I would really, really feel good about myself if I could throw some money at it, and a weekend or two, and get it spic and span for my grandmother without her having to lift a finger (and risk throwing out her back again in the process). Given that we are a DIY heavy household, that wouldn’t be all that hard.  It would mean paying my dad for his labor, no doubt, but he is generally okay with being paid in cigarettes and Monster cans.  It could be done even without the million or the lottery money, but I am a poor community-college student, trying to pay down my own debts.  It would take a while to work up the cash.

But if I had seemingly unlimited funds?  Oh the things I could do.  Not only could I finish the living room, I could furnish it.  However, you all must know that that is not where this would end.

Oh, heeeeelllllllll no.

Because I have noticed something.  Something about my family.  Okay…. something about my dad and his mom.  He keeps moving back in. Now, here is the situation, so that it is clear what I mean by that.  I live with my grandmother, almost always have (there was that one year, but that is a story for another time), and my dad?  Well, he comes and goes.  But he is never gone for long.  Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t been moving in and out for the entirety of my life.  There were a few years there when he was settled when I was young, and a few more a little later, and a few more after that.  But it doesn’t ever last for long, and eventually he moves back in.  And the problem that I am working towards, the one that I would employ a  lot of this fictional money to fix, is this:  Eventually my grandma will die, and then where will he go?

You might say, “Not your problem!  He’s a grown man and he can fend for himself.  He has skills, he knows how to employ them and given a good shove, he probably will.”  And you would be absolutely right.  But, you see, I just can’t.  I am aware of that aspect of myself, I will not live in denial.  I come from a line of women and men who just can’t let their family or friends take life’s punches alone.  We take in strays, we very nearly run a boarding house actually for those down on their luck, need a hand to hold for a while, wading through transitional periods, and have no where else to go.  We deal with them sleeping on our couches, eating our food, smoking our weed and cigarettes, not helping with the housework, and never shutting up and giving us a moment’s peace, on top of being a drain on our limited finances.  We’ve had them steal from us, we’ve chased them to state boarders to get our stuff back, we’ve let a lot of our missing tools go with a shake of our heads and a mutter about so-and-so, but when the next one wanders by telling us of their woes, sometimes never looking for a hand-out, legitimately planning to do this that or the other to help themselves, we make an offer.  You don’t want to do that, don’t put yourself through that, you shouldn’t have to live that way.  And then there is another body on our couch.

So I know that I can’t and, when the time finally comes, won’t be able to turn my dad away when he is finally, again, down on his luck.  But I don’t want him living with me while I’m trying to live my life, probably raising a family.  I don’t want him in the guest room for five or ten years, bringing his girlfriends over to stay for a few days or weeks or months.  I don’t want him borrowing my car because he sold his when he had no other options and then buying up a junker that runs and just needs some TCL before it’s a great car again.  I don’t want to be my grandmother.

Here’s what I am willing to do – I’ll put his ass to work.  Aside from a back that troubles him sometimes and his worsening eye sight, my dad is in great physical condition for his age, so I am not afraid to hand him physical labor.  If I won the lottery or had a million dollars I would buy up a few properties, rent them out, and give him the job of property manager/maintenance-man.  I would deduct his rent from his salary and let him live one of the houses if he needed to.  I’ll manage it with or without the lottery.  It will just take longer.

My dad isn’t the only one though.  I have friends.  Well meaning, motivated friends who really just need a leg up in the world to get their lives in shape.  Maybe I’m an idealist and it would all backfire on me.  Maybe my friends would just end up with a few failed businesses and owing me thousands that they would never be able to pay back, but I would help them anyway.  I would fund ariannaoftheblack’s doggie daycare.  I would buy the property (I totally picked it out already) and waive their rent for the first year or two, and give them some start-up cash.  I would buy nightly her mobile weld-shop equipment and give her some start-up cash too.  I would probably rent houses to both of them.

I would put a large sum into savings, an IRA, I would get a CPA to invest it for me.  I would do all the things you’re supposed to do with your money to ensure that you have enough to retire comfortably.  I would ask for  a demotion at work, dropping to 20 hours a week, taking a pay-cut just so I could spend more time at my community college learning things I want to learn and not things I need for a degree, so that I could travel and not feel like I were abandoning my co-workers to chaos.

I probably wouldn’t move out immediately, but I would tell my grandma to evict the couple living in our mother-in-law’s apartment and let me move in.  I would take some semblance of autonomy, and pay rent, but not leave her alone which I know she fears.  At least until my boyfriend asks me to move in with him somewhere.  That, I’m sure, she would find acceptable and be happy about.

I would pay off my debts (which aren’t much) and my car.  I would try to convince my boyfriend to let me pay off his debts (which are less than mine) and to let me pay something towards the car he is so lovingly struggling to keep running.  I would take him traveling with me ❤

I would take my whole family and him on a series of cruises and vacations.  I would pay for my sisters and my brother to go with us, though they live half way across the country.  I would ask them where they wanted to go and make it happen.  I would give them all money for college.  I would invite my boyfriends family to go too sometimes, and pay for the bulk of it.  I would take a lot of pictures.  I would give my dad a nice camera with which to take pictures.  I would forget the cameras in a suitcase, and spend all of my time interacting with the people I love, forgetting to take the pictures.

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Sometimes…

11 03 2013

Sometimes I wonder what it is I am doing.  And yes, I mean the big questions. What am I doing with my life? What am I doing to advance myself? How can I possibly get where I want to get and where exactly is that?  Why don’t I have a map?   Was I in the wrong line when they were giving those out? And why can’t I just stick with something for more than half the course?  I’m a community college major-hopper, and I can’t seem to break that cycle, partially because I don’t ever know what type of job I want.  I don’t want to work with my hands very much – I simply don’t have the drive for it.  But I hate the idea of being behind a desk doing paperwork, except for those weeks when I would rather do mindless paperwork than anything more tangibly productive.  I don’t want to devote another 10 years to school to become a geologist (which I did consider heavily), wracking up the student loans for a job in hydrology or petrology or leafing through geologic maps (no matter how much I enjoy them) and writing reports on god knows what.  I don’t want to be a teacher, of English or Geology or Geography (the only thing I have a degree in).  I enjoy map making, but dislike analysis that requires me to use my brain actively.  In fact, that seems to be the root of my problem and it’s been weighing on my self-image.  I want things to be easy ( I know, who doesn’t, right?).  I want to get it right, at least mostly, within my first one or two tries and if I don’t, my drive disappears and I am lost again.  I am at this point in college where they want me to be working on these huge projects.  Semester-long, self-directed, analytics-based projects that are so open-ended that I don’t know where to begin.  In these projects the instructions are so vague that I feel like I’ve been sent out to an open field, empty in all directions, and in order to build something, but not told what. They give me a list of materials that I can have with a mere request that is longer than I am tall.  Call it choice fatigue, but I can’t handle that very well.  And somehow these days I feel like that’s all there is to life.  It sound pretty damned accurate to me (aside from the ease of attaining materials) because I’m standing here looking into the future and I see nothing yet.  I have my boyfriend beside me, I can hold his hand and I can see that he is building something and I have something half built myself, but I can’t stand to look at it.  I could wear this job I have now like a skin for the next 10 or 20 years if I wanted.  I could put my heart and soul into it and I might do well and in some ways I might thrive, but there would be a chain around my heart.  It’s already there.  Most days I think of it as the aching loss of my childhood and the freedoms that went with it, and I sigh and put it out of mind.  But other days…  Other days I think that there must be a life for me that doesn’t feel like that, and I get wrapped up in the wish to find it, to build something that I will enjoy and be proud of in my big open field.  And then the drive fades away and the average returns because at some point I realized that there was some reason that I wasn’t good enough.  It won’t work quickly enough, or I don’t want to put in that much effort and so I let it all go.  And for a little while that chain around my heart aches a little bit more acutely and I am a little closer to crying, always, than ever before.





Cider-y Goodness

3 02 2013

Last year my boyfriend and I decided to try our hands at making cider.  He did all of the research and the hard work and walked me through my own batch.  It was a fun, easy, and cheap project all things considered, and you can find tutorials all about the internet.  To simplify (but not by much):  You need to first obtain natural, non-pasteurized apple juice which generally runs about $8 for a gallon depending on where you purchase it.  You must then buy some yeast either from your local brew supply shop or the internet (or anywhere else that might have brewing yeast in your area).  We both used champagne yeast, but I have heard of good results using beer yeast, such as lager yeast.  While you are at the brew supply store or website you will also need to purchase an air-lock set, which consists of a little rubber bottle stopper with a hole in it and a plastic tube with two chambers.  Total cost comes to under $2 generally.  You throw the yeast in the juice, add some sugar, put some water in the air-lock, and use the air-lock to stopper the bottle.

Now let it sit for a month or two…

Really, this can be the end.  Once it has sat for two months or so it is pretty much ready to go. Siphon or pour it into bottles and let it go.  That’s what I did, with the exception of racking it (siphoning it into a new bottle about half way through the process to get it off of the dead yeast that settles onto the bottom of the bottle).  Mine was very bitter and I wasn’t very happy with it to be honest.  Now, this could have been the yeast I used.  The champagne yeast was rated to 18% alcohol which is pretty steep, and I did not try to sweeten it all.  It really didn’t occur to me to try.  I drank some, but the rest stayed in the bottle, sitting in my closet, lonely, forgotten, stewing, until over a year had past.  Every so often when I was in my closet for something I would look at the cabinet in which it sat and think to myself, “I really should dump that out,” but it never happened.  I couldn’t never get up the motivation the carry the carboy out to the backyard and drain it into the bushes where I was sure it would stink in a big muddy mess that was better added to the garden than the kitchen sink. And then the bottle would need to be washed – another hassle.  I usually had better things to do with my time.

And then one day I mentioned it to Ant, and he turned my perspective on the big bottle in the liquor cabinet upside down. My mead-making, wine-tasting boyfriend is sometimes very good at making me feel blonde.  Typically aging alcohol is a good thing…  and it hadn’t ever occurred to me.

We put a little bit into a cup with a turkey baster and tasted it.  It was rank.  Then we added sugar and it was awesome.

Today I am adding sugar to final bottles.

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And these are what I ended up with!  There are two more smaller bottles as well.





Feeling Grey

22 01 2013

This is an old short story that I wrote. It’s not exactly happy, in fact it’s kind of a drag, but let me know what you think.

 

 

Feeling Grey

 

Chaser was a raggedy little thing.  My uncle’s latest rescue, his long black hair grew in clumps and felt murky and uneven beneath a petting hand.  I thought he looked ill before I ever considered that he really might be.  He was pitiful and if he wasn’t so annoying it would have been endearing, but he was forever mowing and underfoot in the kitchen, so much so that all you ever wanted to do was kick the poor thing.  When we first moved in I didn’t dislike him, but I certainly wanted nothing to do with him.  We brought three cats and two dogs with, and for the first few weeks I was busy hobbling around the house on a cane, yelling at the dogs for chasing the cats or dragging my underwear to all corners of the house.  But I still pet and him and brushed him as I was asked to do.  Ignoring him completely felt too cruel, especially when all my grandmother did was yell at him for tripping her in the kitchen.  And I knew that if my aunt and uncle found out I wasn’t taking care of the one cat not hiding under the porch they’d get fantastically pissed.  They were already mad we hadn’t been wandering around the yard with Temptations in hand, calling out to the other three my aunt and uncle had left us.

I was the first to notice how scrawny he was; how his hipbones jutted and how you could feel the individual vertebrae of his spine.  Suddenly there was an hour glass following him around the yard.  I was sure he had leukemia, which our last stray had died from only months before.  The rapid weight loss called it as far as I was concerned.  My dad, who had yet to pay the 300 dollar vet bill left by the other cat, agreed with me.  My grandma wasn’t pleased.  We didn’t have another 300 dollars to spend on a cat.  We didn’t have 30 dollars to spend on my hospital bills, and my uncle refused to pay.  Chaser was on his own.

For a few weeks I made myself be kinder, but it wasn’t to last.  He was too annoying and he didn’t deteriorate.  Eventually my uncle decided that he had worms, but still wouldn’t pay for medication.  The declaration put my mind at ease at least, and I put out a special plate of food for the dilapidated animal until I noticed him abandoning it for the dog’s food every morning.  After that the thought of his mortality fell from my mind except for on the few occasions when I noticed the other cats were thin, and I wondered if they were getting the worms too.  I never mentioned it to my grandma though.  There was no point in bringing up a problem that could not be fixed.  That winter the cats spent their nights in the laundry room with the space heater on, lounging on heating pads and each other. Between school and work, my grandma and I never saw any of them except when we put out the food in the mornings.

It wasn’t until my aunt and cousin came to visit that we understood how bad the situation really was.  They told us that Chaser spent all day limping around the porch; rail thin with feces matted in his fur.

“You really ought to put the poor thing out of its misery,” my aunt said, “I can’t stand to watch it.”

We were easily convinced the minute we came to realize why the laundry room suddenly smelt so strongly of cat shit.  Either Chaser couldn’t make it outside to do his business or he had no control of it anymore.

“I’ve got a bunch of pain pills and a can of fancy cat food in the car,” my aunt suggested, “we could crush some up and put them in the food and some water.”

And the decision was made.  After a few grim jokes about tying the cat to the nearby train tracks and doing away with him that way, they got to brainstorming where to put him.  It wouldn’t do for another cat to eat the poisoned food and there were only so many enclosed places outside the house.  And I dreaded the idea of him dying inside, where I would have to acknowledge it.

I was late for dinner as always, on Wednesday.  My aunt, cousin, and grandma were all finishing their food, and while I took a seat my aunt let me know that Chaser was safely trapped in the old dog kennel with his poisoned bowls of food and water.  I loaded my plate.  Apparently, he hadn’t started eating the last time they checked on him.  He only sat in the kennel and stared at the house.

She said, “I put a pillow and a blanket out there for him.  I hope he won’t get too cold.”  My grandma said he wouldn’t.  But, I thought, he had spent the last three months hiding in a warm laundry room, lying on heating pads.  And he wasn’t eating yet.

”It’s not that cold outside,” she continued, “I’m sure he’ll be fine.”  I listened, nodding and shoveling pasta and garlic bread into my mouth.

Chaser would be fine.  Either way he had those pills.

Suddenly I wasn’t so sure he would eat the food or drink the tainted water.  I couldn’t remember if he’d been eating the last few days.  The thought of him freezing to death made me nervous.

I said, “I’m sure he’ll be fine,” and took another bite.

“Yeah,” my aunt said.  She was so nonchalant.  “It’s not that cold out.”  It was 40 or 50 degrees outside and I thought it was cold, but my aunt lived in Seattle and it had been snowing there all winter.  One or both of us had a skewed perception of temperature. What that meant for the cat, I didn’t know, but I pushed the nerves aside.  We were killing him either way, and freezing isn’t the most painful way to die.  At least not after you fall asleep, then your body just shuts down and you drift from sleep to unconsciousness to dead.

Either way…

“I threw a pillow and a blanket in there for him, and put a sheet over the top so he has a roof.”  The kennel was, of course, made of thin metal rails.  Metal gets cold.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

I added more pasta to my plate and ate until I was well past full.

The next morning was frost bitten and grey.  On my way out to my car, I saw the kennel for the first time.  A green flannel blanket was falling off of the top and the bronze finish glinted in the predawn light only half real.  Chaser lay slouched against the side making a perversion of the ever-so-comfortable way cats lay on their sides in the sunlight, weak legs stretched out before him, sticking through the bars.  His head leaned against the frozen metal, tilted at an angle that anything would detest, gave him away.  His lip was caught between the metal and his skull.  He was snarling, at us or at the tin car-port roof I didn’t know.  Next to me, my aunt sighed, turned away, and said that she would get my cousin to bury him while I was at work.  After she returned to the house I continued on to my car, walking past the tiny body, and whispered, “Rest in peace,” only to feel hallow and stupid for the sentiment.

At work, I was busy and grateful.  People laden with W-2’s kept me distracted and the last picture of Chaser, his mangled form and sad, pathetic end disappeared; floating just below the surface of my consciousness.  At home, my cousin buried him, where, I will never know. It’s best that way, for while I feel bad that Chaser is no longer with us, I don’t feel as though I’ve lost a pet.  I wish I did.  He was a good cat and is sorely missed if only by me.  If only out of guilt.

 





My Mica

13 01 2013

My Mica

This is my kitten. She isn’t this small any more, but she is still cute (in that chubby-kitty sort of way).

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Minor Hallucinogenics

12 01 2013

I found this article on how single doses of hallucinogens can cause significant changes in personality a while ago and it has been popping up in my head every so often since.  I’ve been told that weed/marijuana/pot/dank/what-have-you is an hallucinogen, and I tend to believe the information though I haven’t done any research on it myself since I am prone to auditory hallucinations when high.  I get trapped in my head most of the time, and usually end up apologizing for being quiet (which my boyfriend scoffs at – he usually ends up apologizing for “talking my ear off”), but I’ve come to a few realizations since I began smoking/ingesting.

I got really stuck on the concept of death not too long after I started (mind you I started a little over a year ago – late bloomer here) and was often terrified and awestruck circling the idea of “nothing.” When rejecting the idea of an afterlife, which for a while has felt less and less real, how do you quantify “nothing?”  How do you imagine being dead?  Ant and I had a few conversations on the subject while I was going through this phase.  He doesn’t understand why people fear death so much and when I said it was a scary concept he laughed a little and asked why.  I answered by saying it wasn’t like a video game and not knowing was scary.  He was very happy to point out that it was like a video game.  Your character dies and for him it’s over. That whole section was gone, kaputz, game over, black screen, return to previous save.  But he was wrong, because I am not the character.  It doesn’t matter how involved the game is, whether or not you have save points to return to or if you have to start over at the beginning, how emotionally connected to your characters you are, when GAME OVER flashes I am still here.  In my video game I am not the character, I am GOD!  A little dramatic, but true.  I made my point, he conceded, cheerful as ever.

Still, I suddenly find myself more connected to these ideas than I ever have been.  I used to tell my friends that I was blessed with the ability to NOT visualize things, things that tended to make them cringe (spectacularly ugly people or their parents having sex for instance).  But that has changed.

I feel like my world is suddenly in 3D, and the backdrop that was once projected onto a screen before me has come to life.  I looked up yesterday and saw birds flying and felt for the first time that they were suspended in air.  I know it sounds elementary, really the most basic of basic concepts, and I didn’t realize that I hadn’t thought about it until that very second, but I don’t think I ever had.  I was absolutely sober in that instant. It was beautiful.

When I’m high this happens repeatedly, quickly and I can’t verbalize it at all.  The ideas slip away too rapidly and aren’t at all relevant to what the people surrounding me are doing, and my mouth and throat just don’t function the way they should.  They hit me again later when I’m sober and it’s like walking into a wall of cold air.  I’d like to think this is for the better, and that these thoughts are a sign of some enlightenment that I am working towards, that maybe in this gray area of young/mid adulthood I am becoming a better person than I once was, but who can say?





My Other Furred Menaces

12 01 2013

I’ve had quite a few cats over the years and amassed a small collection of pictures of cats.  Here is my sacrifice to the internet gods.

Durango liked to sleep on top of me.

Durango looking dapper. This is possibly the best picture I have of this cat.

Durango looking dapper. This is possibly the best picture I have of this cat.

Again, siting on top of me.

Durango was getting along well with the Nugget before he found a new home.

Durango was getting along well with the Nugget before the found a new home. They both enjoyed sitting on top of me.

McNugget was a stray who stayed with us briefly.

McNugget was a stray who stayed with us briefly.

His is registered name is Our Own Personal Jesus. We call him Jeezer and he is an asshole, much like my dad who he adores.

His is registered name is Our Own Personal Jesus. We call him Jeezer and he is an asshole, much like my dad who he adores.

We had a six-pack of kittens for a while.  Durango did not approve to say the least.

We had a six-pack of kittens for a while. Durango did not approve to say the least.

Fresh out of the oven! ....

Fresh out of the oven! ….

Not even three days old at this point.  They were born in my bedroom.

Not even three days old at this point. They were born in my bedroom.

Kittens Kittens SSPX0007 Kittens

Middy was an ill-tempered cat.  I loved her dearly for 17 years.

Middy was an ill-tempered cat. I loved her dearly for 17 years.

Rolo died tragically of a dog bite when she was about two years old.

Rolo died tragically of a dog bite when she was about two years old.

Rolo

Middy absolutely did not approve of Rolo.

Middy absolutely did not approve of Rolo.

I am so lucky I have a boyfriend. I might have been lost to the curse of Cat Lady had we not met, and I might still if we don’t work out for some as yet unforseen reason.  Because I would have kept every one of those kittens. In a heartbeat.