Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Swirling Vortex of Emotions

Whoever said “Old age ain’t for sissies” wasn’t kidding.
This past Monday, it was a perfect storm for the day from hell. I’ve been surviving on Social Security Disability for three and a half years. I’d rather be working, but all the radio jobs that were lost during the recession are permanently gone. I was going to sell my book about my time being homeless, as an agent I met over four years ago, told me to write it and he would make me a bestselling author. Since I’m only about 75% done with it, I instead sent him a manuscript of a mini-novel I wrote in 1987 and just found in my storage unit to try and get some cash flow until I could finish the homeless book. I emailed it to the agent and called a week later to see if he had received it and had a chance to read it. I left a voicemail and he called back. To tell me they were not accepting new clients. I reminded him that he had been leading me on for over four years and that I was almost done with the other book. He said “such is life” and hung up the phone. Talk about having the carpet yanked out from under you! Took the wind right out of my sails. Everything I have tried to do to get out of this poverty bullshit has not worked. And the one thing I thought would be my saving grace was anything but. That was a week ago. Now back to Monday.
I had been sick with two infections for a few weeks and kept telling my friend Rodney that I would take him to Costco. I have had problems with my car. I just replaced all of the hoses, yet there was still a leak. I took it to the mechanic last week who said there was a leak in my water pump and it would cost $200 to fix and that he didn’t want me wasting my money because with all of the overheating that had occurred due to broken hoses, he feared my head gasket would go within 6 months and that’s easily a $2000 job. Which is $600 more than I get a month. He told me to just make sure there was water and antifreeze in the radiator every other day. I topped everything off Monday before I went to pick up Rodney. It smelled like rubber burning, and I told him it was the stop leak I put in, like the mechanic told me to. We got about halfway to Costco when the car stopped. The water pump died. It was 80 degrees out. I called the insurance company to get a tow and they told me that I didn’t pay my bill. Um, yes I did, I tell them. I have the receipt in my email inbox. He put me on hold as I watched my battery drain. I hung up and called my agent. But it was President’s Day and he was off. I called the tow line back and they said they checked and yes, I did pay my bill. It would be at least an hour and a half for a tow truck. I had no choice but to wait in the heat. I texted one friend who lived nearby to see if she was home and could bring me some cold water. I didn’t get a response. So I texted another nearby friend. No response. I then texted the guy who has called me his girlfriend for the past four months to see if he was in town. No response. I finally got a response from the second friend and she brought me some water. While waiting for her, another lady stopped by and asked if I needed anything and I said cold water. She said she wanted to do more. I jokingly said a car that works. She said she had an old car she called Nixon because it was ornery but still ran. She said she wanted to donate it, but her mechanic told her to sell it. She asked if I would buy it for $10. Sure, I said and gave her my business card with all my information on it. I still haven’t heard from her. Tow truck finally got there and took me and Blanche (that’s my car’s name) home. Rodney had called his roommate to come get him. But I still needed to go grocery shopping and pick up my asthma medication. My neighbor allowed me to drive her car and on the way back, the guy who has been calling me his girlfriend for the past four months, called. My phone was in a bag and I was driving anyway, so I called him when I got home and could plug in the phone.
The day before had been Valentine’s Day and I got him a little something, some good dark chocolate because he likes that better than milk chocolate. I had texted him to see if he was coming over Sunday, but then got sick and said let’s meet up later in the week. Monday morning, I had jokingly sent him emails about some boots that were on sale I was looking at, saying he could buy them for me, since he’s always saying how rich he is. I sent some texts to tell him what size and color and then told him to read his email. Apparently, all of this communication was too much for him and that’s what he called about. Asking me not to send him stuff during work hours because then he has to stop and read everything in case it’s an important text. He could do what I do and assign different sounds to different people so I know without having to look, who it is. But he doesn’t so he has to stop. And I made him stop at least four times. Then he said that he wasn’t my boyfriend and why was I acting like he was? Um, because for four months you’ve called me your girlfriend, that’s why. Because when you come over to my place we end up in bed? Because we talk every day, sometimes for hours on end? Because you’ve not only said you loved me but you have shown it? That would lead one to believe she is your girlfriend and you are her boyfriend. Thing is, he’s married. He’s insisted since I found out and confronted him with it – I flat out asked on our first date if he had ever been married and he said he had been – that they were only business partners and that’s why they are still together, to keep the business. He’s a plumber.  I accept his answer but lay down the rules if we are to continue as boyfriend and girlfriend that he will no longer lie to me and no one gets hurt. I find out his wife is hurt by his infidelity, it ends. Turns out I have friends that work with her. He agrees and we continue on as girlfriend and boyfriend. Until Monday. When he informs me he is not in fact my boyfriend. What do you think about that, he asks. What do I think? I’ve just had one of the shittiest days after one of the shittiest weeks after one of the shittiest months and what do I think that I am no longer your girlfriend? As he would say, Are you kidding me? He then asks if I want to work for him, help him with his paperwork and he’ll compensate me. I remind him that I suggested that, without the compensation, when we first started dating. You could do that, he says. Then he changes course and says since I don’t have a printer for my laptop and I sleep all the time (you would too if you were fighting off two infections, ya little prick!) that I wouldn’t be able to do that. Next thing I know, he’s telling me he’ll call me back in an hour because he has to pee. He tells me not to fall asleep and hangs up. The tears come fast and furious.
Ninety minutes pass and the phone rings. I had just put a baked potato in the oven as I had a steak thawing and had bought some asparagus at the market. I answer it, knowing it’s him because he has a ring all his own. He asks why I called. He tells me to talk because I called him. I said, no, you called me. He begins slurring his words and I know what he’s been doing the past hour and a half. He’s probably drunk an entire fifth of whatever the liquor of the night is. I told him I don’t want to talk to him when he’s drunk and I reiterate that now. He keeps up with what did I want to talk about. I hang up on him. He calls back and I let go to voicemail. And the tears start flowing again.
Many reading this will wonder what they hell did I see in a drunk married plumber? We made each other laugh, we could talk for hours on end about anything and just enjoyed being around each other.
I’m better off without him, my friends tell me. But he’s the first boyfriend I’ve had in 25 years. Twenty five years ago, I was engaged to be married and the jerk broke up with me over the phone, saying he was afraid I would get fat like my mom and that he didn’t want a fat wife. I did get fat because those words hurt. And I swore off men because they were all assholes. In fact that’s what I told my most recent boyfriend (who is no longer my boyfriend) when he asked why I didn’t have a boyfriend. Because men are assholes was my answer. He looked at me, grinned and said he wasn’t.
Wow, the lying began at the very beginning even before he asked me out.
To add to the misery is this thing called menopause. That’s why the tears came fast and furious. That’s why I was sick on Valentine’s Day. My hormones don’t know which way to go, which way is up, which way is down. And I’m in the middle of this swirling vortex of emotions and hormones with a broken car and a broken heart.
Old age may not be for sissies, but middle age heading towards old age isn’t for any sane human female being. Because the sanity goes the moment the vortex begins and your life unravels right before your very own eyes.
That’s me. Right now. Swirling in the vortex, not able to control one damn thing.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

     Yes, it is already 2015. Dang, I'm old! A lot has happened this year, but then again a lot has stayed the same.

     January came and went and with it another non winter. The days were warm with no rain and highs in the 70's. And I have a leather jacket with nowhere to wear it.

     February, same picture, shorter month. Still living in downtown Suisun City, with only a small air conditioner, but at least my former neighbor, Connie, was coming by once a week to make help me around the apartment. 

     In March, Connie met the man of her dreams and they married in May. He's a marriage counselor. I think it will last. Unfortunately for me and her husband, she was transferred to the Navy Base (she's in the Navy and was stationed at Travis Air Force Base when we met) at Diego Garcia way out in the Indian Ocean. She's thinking after her one year ends at the end of May, she is going to see if she can get transferred to Italy. I need to start saving money yesterday so I can visit her. I've always wanted to go to Italy.

     It was another warm spring and summer. That dang Global Warming. Ming and I made it through, running every fan and the Air Conditioner. Over the summer, I began a series of sleep studies so that I could update my sleep apnea machine, CPAP. Turns out, I didn't have it. Thing is, they forgot to tell me I needed to be off the machine for at least a week prior to taking the test. So I scheduled another one, was off the machine for two weeks, but had a technician who had just been hired and had no oversight. I was diagnosed as not having sleep apnea. This is a condition I have had since I was eight years old and there wasn't a name for it. My mom used to watch me sleep because I would stop breathing while I slept.

     At some point over the summer, I went to Urgent Care because I couldn't seem to get rid of considerable nasal congestion. I was referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor who ordered a CT scan which came back that I had broken my nose at some point and it had healed on its own. I recalled around 2000 or 2001 I was walking to my math class, talking to my teacher at college and I tripped over a lip in the cement, where the two slabs came together. I fell down, bent my brand new glasses and ended up with two black eyes. I remember because it was a Wednesday and I was on the Governing Board as the Student Trustee. Instead of going to the meeting that night, the President of the College told me to go to the Emergency Room to make sure that I didn't break anything. They checked my orbital bones around my eyes, but neglected to check my nose. I told the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor that and he agreed that's probably when it happened. I could just leave it as is or I could have an operation that would break it and heal it properly. I decided to go with the surgery. On August 19, I had the nose surgery. It has a real scientific name, but I forgot. I know I wasn't allowed to blow my nose for a week. I never realized how much I blew my nose until I couldn't! There were stents in each nostril, which is why I couldn't blow it for fear I would blow the stents out. The moment he took those out, I couldn't wait to blow my nose! I still feel some pain around my front teeth from the operation as he pinched a nerve when he did the operation. He said it would eventually go away. I slept without my machine from the time I had the operation until my next sleep study, which was at the end of September. Guess what? They said I didn't have sleep apnea. Which is odd because I can't get into REM sleep without my CPAP machine, yet I don't have sleep apnea. My sleep doctor gave had me do an overnight pulse/ox which was about 94 %. It has to be below 85% before Medicare will give you overnight oxygen. I finally met with the Sleep Doctor (I had been meeting with his Nurse Practitioner before) and he suggested I have a home sleep study to see if maybe the setting is the issue. That's where it stands now. I'm playing phone tag with Sleep Study people.

     As the hot summer turned to fall - it was hot the final day of October - then freezing the first day of November, my heater failed to work again. The few cold days we had last year my heater didn't work. The maintenance guy came by and changed the thermostat, but it still would work sometimes and sometimes not. When space heaters went on sale in August at Ace Hardware, I bought one. Thing is, since I'm on Section 8 housing assistance, they have to have a working heater. The owner bought me a new heater and it works great. Like I need a heater...

     About this time, I met a man I had known for a year or two, but never thought anything of it. Turns out we both like lamb and his favorite lamb place was around the corner. I hadn't been on a date in years. It was fun. We have since become just good friends, as we have a LOT in common.  I've never met anyone else who could follow my train of thought the way he can and I am able to follow his train of thought and finish his sentences. It blows us both away. He's also a musician with his own studio. I've always wanted to do a follow up to my "album" I put out in 1988. We'll see how it plays out. So far, he's been a positive influence on my life. I'm eating better and even looking to try to find a way to pay the $29 a month to pay for a membership to the KROC Center. It's like a YMCA and they have excellent water aerobics. There are a few operations I want, but my doctors won't do them until I lose weight.

     I continue working on my book about the time I was homeless. I write a chapter or two when I do laundry at my friend Chritsty's house. I take care of her pets when she's on vacation or tour as she plays clarinet with the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West. That's where I met her waaaay back in 2005 when I first narrated/emceed for them. She was in Boston the past few years and I ran into her at the pet store in 2014. That's when she offered to pay me a little to take care of her 4 cats, a dog and a tank of fish. I've been her caretaker ever since.

     In September, my 18 year old cat Ming, started howling. She would howl in the middle of the night when I was trying to sleep. She would howl in the morning, she would howl in the middle of the day. There is a ghost in these apartments as the main building up front used to be a mortuary back in the 30's and 40's, so I thought that was what was bothering her. Then I noticed she was drinking a lot water and took her in to have her kidneys looked out. She was in end stage renal failure. My trusty companion, who I'd had for more than ten years, was dying. She gave me that look like, "Mom, I'll do better. Just don't leave me." It broke my heart like hell, but the only humane thing to do was to put her down. My friend Christy helped me with the bill and made certain I was able to keep her remains, as it is in my will that my cats remains are to be buried with me. So far that's Herfy, Maggie T., Mowgli and Ming. The Sunday after putting her down, I couldn't stop crying. A friend of mine had been looking to re-home her longhair Tuxedo cat, Oreo, as she was afraid of dogs and my friend rescues dogs. On October 1, I adopted Oreo. There's been an adjustment period and we're still getting to know one another. But it's good to go to sleep to purr.

     I've made some positive changes in my life. I've been a pack rat for a good majority of my life, but it all came to a head when I became homeless. I have too much stuff. So I've been selling it, a little at a time on eBay. I've made a little extra cash for me as I remain on Social Security Disability and the cost of medication continues to rise. It certainly helps. Things that I can't sell, I will donate to the thrift shop of the homeless shelter I was in for two weeks. It's the least I could do for them, considering they put me at the top of the list so I didn't have to sleep in my car. It's Opportunity House in Vacaville, in case you want to donate anything.

     That about wraps my year. I'm really looking forward to 2016 as I have my book edited and sent off to the agent so he can find a publisher. I did find a novel I wrote back in the 1980's and a friend is scanning it into electronic form so I can get it to the agent. I did send him one of my short stories, but he said they don't do short works. Hopefully, he will like the novel as much as my late Aunt Judy did when I wrote it back in the day. We'll see. Maybe I can get back on the radio as an author. Who knows?

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Letter: 2010, 11, 12, 13 and 14

Christmas Letter: 2010,11,12,13 and 14

      Yes, it's been that long since I've written a Christmas letter. And it wasn't for lack of things going on in my life, quite the contrary.
Let's start in 2010:
      In April 2010, I accepted a job as a census taker. I lost that job two weeks later when my fingerprints came back that I had been a very bad person. Unknown to me at the time, a crime I committed while I was 21 years old (my friends and I were drunk and they were going to teach me how to hot-wire a car), had not been updated in the FBI database and I was listed as two-time felon. I was only found guilty of a misdemeanor tampering with a vehicle. In any case, in this day and age when background checks are so cheap, I was unable to get a job. As my 99 weeks of unemployment loomed to a close in August, 2010, a textile recycling company, USAgain, hired me to find locations for their "mailboxes on steroids" so people could recycle anything doing with textile - even underwear! Unfortunately, out of the 8 of us that were hired, seven of us were let go the same day. They pitted us against each other to see who would work the hardest for them. On October 5, 2010, I received a 30 day notice from my roommate and by November 6, 2010, I was homeless.
      I spent the first 4 months with a friend who allowed me to keep my cats, Mowgli and Ming, with me in an extra bedroom in her home. Because I didn't have a job by mid-January and I told her when I moved in it should only be a few months before I landed back on my feet, as I have never had a problem finding a job, she asked me to leave by the end of February. 
       March 2, 2011, I was in a homeless shelter. My sister used her Hotel miles and put me up in a Homewood Suite on the 1st, but then I was on my own. I stayed in the homeless shelter for 2 weeks while I waited to get into "transitional housing" with the Fairfield-Suisun Community Action Council. Mowgli and Ming were staying with a couple I met while I was emceeing a Boy Scout Banquet.
       March 15, 2011, I moved in to transitional housing. I didn't know the woman who I would share the master bedroom with, but she seemed pretty straight forward. I'll call her Blondie. We became friends and totally understood each other.  She said it was due to the fact that I was a Taurus while she was a Scorpio. I do know I could leave ten-thousand dollars on the dresser and she wouldn't touch it. And she knew that if she asked for some of it, I would share, so there would be no reason for her to touch it. In April 2011, I noticed what I thought was another hernia - I had a hernia operation in December 2009 and my stomach was poking out again - so I went to the surgeon who did the previous one. I'll call him the "Hottie Doc" because we just seem to click. I wanted to make sure that the county insurance I had would cover the operation, so I had to go back the following week. That's when the abscess under my belly showed up. Instead of having hernia surgery in May, I had to have an abscess drained in the O.R. On June 1, 2011, I had hernia surgery. That was the same day my aunt found out she had pancreatic cancer.
      After I healed, I resumed my job search. I was also making some headway into clearing up the FBI mess. I think that was taken care of in May sometime, where they got it right. I kept looking for jobs, going to interviews, with nothing on the horizon. Meanwhile, outside of my roommate the rest of the women, the other four, were raised by wolves, I swear! The Program Director was also a mean person, telling us once a week, "If you don't like it here, leave. There are plenty more people where you came from. Believe me, you won't be missed." She says that to homeless women trying to better themselves. It was hell. Read my previous posts for an idea. I am writing a book on my journey through homelessness called "Homeless...But Not Hopeless". Then I had a nervous breakdown.
     My sister, who lives in Midtown Sacramento, had offered me her couch to sleep on, but at that time, Sacramento didn't have insurance for the indigent and Solano County, where I've called home for more than 20 years, does. My doctor referred me to a psychiatrist to deal with the breakdown. I didn't want to commit suicide, I just didn't want to live that life, with those people. That may sound snobbish, but I was taught differently than the people I was forced to live with and was comfortable with the way I had lived for the past 45 years.
      In October, I received a call to ask me if I wanted to be the next Office Manager of the H&R Block in the Target Center in Vallejo. Although it was a temporary job, it was a job. Of course I accepted! On the home front, the house we were living in was foreclosed and we moved to a larger house in Suisun City. That's when the real fun began. Read previous posts of this blog to understand what I mean.
       Because this job was temporary, I continued to look for permanent work and was offered a position as a clerk in the Welfare to Work office in Contra Costa County. I was originally assigned to Pleasant Hill, but there was a need in Antioch, so that's where I went to work. The day after accepting, Blondie and I were on our way to celebrate with a steak dinner when a 16-year-old boy, who had just received his driver's license, ran a red light and t-boned my car, totaling it and injuring my neck. Now I was homeless, without a car to get to my permanent job so I could lift myself by my bootstraps. I had no credit cards and not even a bank account. Thank God I had friends. One of them let me use her debit card and another paid for, a rental car, so I could get to and from my new job. Although I had given my 2 weeks notice to H&R Block, they fired me because I didn't have a car to get to and from work and to and from meetings. (I didn't get the rental until 10 days after the crash - H&R fired me a week prior)
     To add insult to injury, in California, if you are not insured and get into a car crash, even if it wasn't your fault, you cannot sue for pain and suffering. I ended up losing 2 jobs because of this crash, but I couldn't sue because my insurance ran out two weeks before the crash. I didn't pay my bill because I didn't receive a bill because my agent, who has since been fired due to negligence, didn't change my address. In fact, the afternoon, before I left the office to pick up Blondie for dinner, I called and left a message for my agent because it seemed like it was time to pay my bill. The kid's insurance company did reimburse me for the car that was totaled and paid for the rental, but that was it. I was on my own.
        I did lose my job with Contra Costa County in July 2012 because I was late too many times and took off too many days due to the neck injury. My left hand would go numb without warning, which my spine surgeon said was normal with that type of injury. Prior to becoming homeless, I applied for Social Security Disability because I couldn't stand for long periods of time due to the arthritis in my knees and the only jobs available required one to stand for long periods of time. They kept rejecting me, I kept appealing and the first week of August 2012, I had a hearing. I hobbled into the hearing room and told the judge all that had happened. The following month, I was awarded Social Security Disability and have been surviving off of it since.
      It's better than being homeless, but I really want to go back to work. I had neck surgery in June 2013 and my left hand no longer goes numb without warning. I have medical bills up one side and down the other because Medicare doesn't pay for everything and although the health insurance when you are an indigent is great in Solano County, if you bring home more than $600/month, you have a share of cost of the extra multiplied by 1.5. So in order to activate my Medi-Cal, I have a share of cost of over $900! I need a home health aid as I don't get around too well, but don't have $900 a month for one. My food stamp worker told me that if I worked I could get one cheaper. Hmmmm....
     Radio lost over 50% of its jobs in the recession and they haven't come back. In November 2011, I met a literary agent who told me that if I was serious about my writing, he could make me a best selling author. He was the one who suggested I start a blog. In 2015, I need to get to it, and assemble the book as it is already written in bits and pieces, through this blog, Facebook postings and my journal. Then I could finally get a new car, as the one I have can't seem to pass CA Smog standards and the tags ran out in September 2013.
      So that's been my life in a nutshell since 2010. My Aunt passed away from pancreatic cancer in December 2011. I found out via text from my sister while I was training for H&R Block. Mowgli passed away in October 2013 due to hyperthyroidism.  Ming likes the single life, so since she's now 17, she gets what she wants. I hit the half century mark this past year and need to get on with the second part of my life.
      Have a wonderful year!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Remembering Steve

March 30, 2014

            I met Steven Bise before I met him. I was working at a small station in Placerville where they were too busy, or just didn’t care about going over airchecks. I sent my cover letter and tape to Steve and he sent me a letter back, giving me pointers on my breaks. No one had ever done that. I was lucky to get a rejection letter. Which I did, eventually, from Steve. It wasn’t really a rejection per se, he said that maybe sometime in the future I could work the overnights on KUIC. When I interviewed for a part-time job at Quick 95, I was working afternoon drive at a station in Davis. I interviewed after work. Steve stayed and interviewed me at 7pm. I ended up getting the Sunday night, 7 to midnight slot. After losing my gig in Davis, Steve gave me more hours filling in. Finally, I got the coveted overnight gig. I was always looking for a better gig, that’s what one did in radio. Until a few years into working with Steve. That’s when I realized Quick 95 was radio fantasyland. No one was fired unless one did something stupid, such as theft. That was unreal in radio. I stopped looking and really focused on working my gig. Steve was the reason I became the disc jockey I did. He worked with me, tirelessly. Steve and I remained friends even though he laid me off twice. Who does that? But Steve was that kind of man. During both of our second employments at KUIC, Steve was raising teenagers. He once told me, as I can be quite passionate about my work, that he knew why God put me in his life. It was to prepare him for teenagers. I didn’t think anything bad of that remark, it was just true. I don’t think I ever saw Steve lose his temper. I pushed him, but he never lost it in my presence. He was so mellow, that when the thermostat caught fire in the control room when he was on the air, he didn’t panic. He calmly walked out and asked if someone was there to work on the thermostat because it was on fire. I don’t know about you, but I would’ve freaked out!
Steve’s daughters meant everything to him. The morning Delaney was born, Steve called into the station to let everyone know he was a dad. I was on the air when he called, and he was so happy. Delaney, I think he and your mom named your after some hippy group. It could’ve been worse. I think his second choice was Hot Tuna.
            I remember the first time Steve laid me off. He wanted me to come into work early and I couldn’t understand why he wanted me there. He wanted to tell me in person, but I forced him to do it over the phone. I swear I heard him crying. I wouldn’t doubt it. Steve gave everything and more to his work. When he was laid off, he said it was okay because he was able to be a house dad.
            Steve was meant to play the bass guitar. As the bass guitar anchors the sound of the band, so did its player in Steve. There could be thunder and lightning all around, but Steve was Mr. Cool even in the toughest of storms. I looked back on his Facebook page and what I wrote on his last birthday rings true. I was glad to be able to wish him a happy birthday. He fought the valiant fight.
            The world is a harsher place without Steven Bise. He was the best boss anyone could have asked for. And a better friend. Godspeed to you, Steve. Have fun in Heaven’s Bluegrass Band.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I've Got A Name (Remembering Mowgli)

     Many people name their cats on what the pet looks like. That's how we get names like Shadow (blue or gray) or Patches (usually a calico or tortoise shell) or Snowball (usually a fluffy white). Others name their cats because of things their cats do. We once had a cat that wouldn't shut up. We named him Sounder. We didn't learn until years later that he was probably deaf.

       I had just gotten a teenage cat from the pound and wasn't sure what to name her. She was a cross between a calico and a tabby, something that is now known as a Caliby. I began like most and named her after her looks. I was going to college at the time and the night before in Economics class we had been talking about Matisse. I thought that would be the perfect name for a Caliby - Matisse. She had just about all the colors that come in a cat and was 'painted' with those colors by God. Matisse was it.

     We went to the vet before going home, Matisse and I, to make sure she was all well before introducing her to her new sister and companion, Maggie T., who herself was named after Lady Margaret Thatcher. Maggie was a stray who had her four kittens under my then neighbor's porch. I named the kittens before I named her. The neighbors called her Shadow, because she was a blue (actually gray) cat. She had two tortoise shell cats, both female. I named the more outgoing one Socrates and her sister was named Aristotle. There was a male Himalayan I named Confucius and a wild tuxedo female I called Monet, after my favorite painter. I thought to myself, what woman could have given birth to such Greatness? Only two names came to mind: Lady Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir. Since 'Shadow' was not a gold color, Maggie T won out. Many people name their cats Maggie, which is why I made sure she had that T after her name. She wasn't just any cat named Maggie. She was Maggie T, the mother of Greatness. Although I wanted the tuxedo cat, Maggie won me over and by the time I moved, she was mine. When Matisse received a clean bill of health, we went home to meet her sister. They soon became best buddies.

     I called to Maggie T and she would come running to me, but when I called for Matisse, the new cat just looked at me. She was not responding to Matisse at all. A week after I brought the new cat into our home, she needed a name she would respond to. Someone suggested I name her after the lead character in my favorite book. Since my favorite book was "Atlas Shrugged", I called her Dagney. Maggie T came running to me, but the new cat just looked at me. Hmmm, I thought, they sound too similar. How about I name her after the author? So my new cat became Ayn. She still wouldn't respond to it.

     At work I was mulling over names. The new cat didn't respond to either of the first two names I had given her. She certainly was energetic, though. She REALLY wanted to go outside, but I wouldn't let her until she was spayed. She literally climbed the walls. She reminded me of the Jungle Boy. What was the name of the cat in the "Jungle Boy"? I asked my co-workers. They said it was Panther, but I knew that wasn't it. (I later found out it was Baghera, but after watching the movie, this cat was definitely NOT Baghera, the worrier. No, this cat was an adventurer.) This cat was the girl-cat version of the Jungle Boy.

     When I came home that night, I called for Maggie T and she came running to me. Then I called "Mowgli!" and the new cat came running to me! She looked at me with eyes that said, 'Gee, mom, it's about time you learned my name!' And for the next 14 years, Mowgli was indeed, the girl-cat version of the Jungle Boy.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Remembering Mowgli (part 1)

      She chose me. I had gone to the Solano County Animal Shelter (the SPCA in Vacaville was closed at that time) to find a companion for Maggie T, a wonderful stray cat who entered my life six years prior. I was thinking about getting a black cat because I had just recently lost my Tuxedo cat, Herfy. Although Herfy hated every living thing (including Maggie) except me, Maggie missed having a companion around all day while I was at work as a clerk for Yolo Superior Court. Since the shelter closed at five each day and was open only Saturday mornings (I don't DO mornings, especially on my day off), I had to use this small window I had after being fingerprinted earlier that day for work. In any case, I was looking for a black cat.

     They had black cats. There were black cats and black kittens. I petted them all, even though I wanted to get a cat, not a kitten. I must be the only person in the world who loves cats but can't stand kittens. They are annoying. So I petted all of the black cats, but none of them had any personality. They just sat there. Some purred, some didn't. A big purr was a must for me as there is nothing more comforting to me. Herfy had a big purr and a BIG personality. I likened her personality to that of Cartman from "South Park". Because she was abused so much by both my mother and my brother, I was the only living thing she loved. One time, when my brother lived in Oregon, after my mom passed away, I went up there for Thanksgiving. I stayed in Herfy's bedroom. We were both stoked. My brother finally gave Herfy to me when she was eleven years old. He got tired of her whiny meow. I could understand as Herfy meowed whenever anyone spoke. You had to be talking to her of course because why else would you be talking?
     Back to the Animal Shelter. None of the cats in the first room seemed to care. I walked into the next rom, which was the last room that cats went before they were exterminated. Simply because no one would adopt them. Please, if you have a cat or dog, get them neutered. It is so sad to know that everyday thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized because there are too many of them. (Note: The Solano SPCA does NOT euthanize healthy pets.) There were a few black cats in the 2nd room as well, but none really jumped out at me. But there was one cat that did.
     She was seven months old. That's no longer a kitten, right? (I found out it's worse. It's a TEENAGER.) I put my fingers in the cage and scratched around her ears and she meowed. And purred. And purred some more. The purring was louder than the meowing and that was loud. She was silky soft, with striking golden eyes. As I went to look at the other cats, this calico/tabby, now known as a caliby, kept meowing as if to say, "Mom, I'm right here! No need to look at any other cats. I'm the one you want!" I could hear her when I went back to the first room. So I went back, scratched under her chin and the purr began rumbling. She wiped her whole head around my fingers, making sure only her scent was to be found.

                                                 She chose me.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


   I stink. I'm not putting myself down, but I really stink. I haven't taken a shower since Wednesday, July 3rd. Then I went shopping and sweated. It was near the end of the record heat wave. I sweated the next day too, though I had to turn the oven on and keep it that way a few hours to cook some killer (ask Christine Craft, she'll tell you killer is the right word) ribs. I have run out of clothes to sleep in because it has been so hot, I haven't left my apartment to do laundry. The laundry room isn't that far from my apartment, but I know I can't take a shower every day. I am in a tracheotomy collar and it takes a full day for the pads to dry after washing them. I only have 2 sets of pads. So the best I could do is take a shower every other day, but why? I've no place to go. I'm not allowed to drive and that's driving me up the wall. The girls run out of their cat food in 2 days. While Mowgli will be just fine on the dry food, Ming doesn't have any teeth. I have put water in the dry food for her but she won't eat it. She will eat the dry food between the two feedings of canned food a day-they split a can of food in the morning and at night, though I think Ming eats most of it. When she eats the dry food, she drops most of it out of her mouth, but will not eat it unless it's in the bowl. Weird cat. In any case, when she runs out of canned food, I'm going to hear about it. I already hear about it when it's feeding time and she doesn't have her bowl full. There is one flavor she doesn't like-the Salmon flavor-and leaves some of it in her bowl. I tell her I won't open a new can until she eats what's in there. I point to the bowl that has food in it. I will go into the living room and within a few minutes will hear her metal I.D. tags banging against the ceramic bowl. About an hour later, I will put fresh (canned) food in her bowl and she's a happy cat. I know she's happy because she purrs when she eats.
     But back to me. I stink. In the past year since I have been disabled, I haven't been too physical. You know the old saying, "if you don't use it, you lose it"? Since I haven't been up every morning to go to work, I have become lazy. Add in severe arthritis in my knees (really, the last orthopedist I saw took one look at my right knee MRI and said, 'how do you even walk? You have no cartilage there') and you have a middle aged fat chick who is not able to do much. Since my neck operation, where they shaved three discs, opened up the area around my spinal cord and fused two things, I am not allowed to lift more than ten pounds. But I have a life that needs living and I got tired of the big bag of garbage sitting in the middle of my small kitchen, so I took that and the garbage in the can, out about an hour ago. That just about did me in. I was going to shave my legs and take a shower, but I am beat after taking out the trash. I need to shave my legs because when I do laundry later today - I need to because all of the t-shirts I have been wearing are all dirty and stinky - I will be wearing shorts. And while most people could care less, I can hear my dearly departed mother's voice in my head, 'you want to go outside like that? You want people to think you're gay? Or French? Geez, why bother to shower at all!' Besides, I like the feel of newly shaved legs against my 600 thread count sheets. Which I also need to launder. I have about eight sets of sheets and they are all dirty. When I say dirty, that's what I mean. Like my body of late, I wait until my sheets stink before I change them. It's not that I don't like clean sheets, it's just that it takes so much out of me to change them.
     So I stink. Here's a funny thing: when they were releasing me from the hospital, they were showing my sister and I how to change the pads in the neck brace, actually COLLAR from Hell, and suggested that I wear tops that are open wide at the top. I, of course, came in a tie-dye t-shirt that was kind of tight around the collar, We got the shirt on over the brace and then the collar over that. I stayed that way a few days until I took a shower and put a regular nightgown with a big opening at the top. The pads rubbed against my skin and irritated them so bad, I have been wearing big old t-shirts to soften the blow. What I wasn't supposed to wear, has actually helped me. I found that ironic.
     I know I stink and I am tired of stinking. I have nowhere to go, so I will now change out collars, shave my legs and take a shower. Because I am tired of stinking.