Home Invasion

Almost 20 years ago, I got a cat. It was supposed to be “we got a cat,” but the breakup was final and sharp, and I was as depressed as I’d ever been in my life. I met the kitten with my boyfriend, but afterwards I kept going back to visit this kitten to alleviate my depression. I named the cat Sebastian and he became my long-term relationship, the one guy I felt I could rely on. He was my companion for 15 years.

When Sebastian died, my husband’s cat was distraught from losing his companion. I got another cat, a rescue kitty I named Selena. It wasn’t her fault, but the history of her abuse turned her into an aggressive, territorial, vicious kitty and I had to surrender her to keep my son safe.

Then I went to college for three years and had exactly zero time for a pet.

That got turned on its head on Tuesday, and now we have two kittens, Gamora and Nebula. They’re beautiful cats, gray and black and athletic with deep amber eyes. They’re difficult to tell apart until you get to know them, then they are as different as night and day.

While I would like to be curmudgeonly about it and say I didn’t want the cats and I don’t want to take care of them. And, part of me would be right, because I don’t feel like I have the time to be a responsible cat owner. However, my husband and I had that conversation, and he is the responsible cat owner. I’m in the side car for this one.

I do have to admit though, that there is something warm and lovely about having fur babies back in the house. The little vroomy noises they make when they run up or down the stairs, the snuffles, the purrs, and the graceless piles of sleeping furballs. They’re well-behaved, too. No claws, no teeth, they know how to communicate with people. They also don’t freak out in a room full of humans or run away and hide. They are social creatures.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I’m learning that you can’t predict the future, no matter how hard you plan for it. It’s the hardest thing to grasp, that life is chaos and no matter what steps you take, something will come up that will derail you. On the other hand, that’s no reason to not plan – just stay flexible, bon bebes.

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Normalize

Part of me is still trapped in August. I know, that is so long ago now, but graduation time was fraught with all kinds of out of state visitors, as well as in-laws and general well-wishers. My parents drove from Wyoming to be out to see me walk, and my best friend Amy flew from Arizona to support me. The well-wishing was a little overwhelming, to be honest, but looking back on it I couldn’t have appreciated it more.

Once I walked, though, that should have been it. I should have tra-la-la’d along with my day. And I did, to be fair. I went out and found a job, which I am getting used to. New jobs are in a class of their own. You don’t know what to do, you don’t know who to ask, and every question needs to be referred to at least one if not three people in the office.

Having a 9-5 job is what everyone attributes as ‘normal,’ but when you’ve been working a school schedule for 3 years, it is quite frankly the weirdest thing in the world.

Not to mention there’s been a lot of changes in the family while work is taking place. My son had oral surgery, got fitted for braces, and joined track. There’s been a lot of missed work and scheduling issues. Throw in routine issues like oil changes and a forgotten prescription refill and everything feels upside-down.

I have been doing some writing during all this tumultuousness. I was contracted to ghostwrite a novel, and I’m so glad I signed up for that. It was a risk – they were offering to pay for a 50k word novel, and gave me the parameters, but little else. They really liked what I turned in and want to work with me again. Ghostwriting is weird. You put your heart and soul into creating a thing, but then you hand it over to someone else and let them take credit for it. It’s almost like being bullied in high school, except my paycheck was worthwhile… and I have a book out there that was a risk, but someone else is taking on that risk. It’s like on the job training for writers.

When I look back on it, I have been working really hard lately. I always lose perspective when I’m in the middle of things. It’s been non-stop since I graduated. That’s just how I roll, most of the time. I have a friend who jokes that I burn my candle at 6 ends.

My personal philosophy is this. Life is short, do what you love.

The trick is doing what you love as much as possible, and trading as little of your life as possible in the meantime.

 

What a Difference a Day Makes

It has been one month and six days since my last day of class at Western.

And what a month it was! My parents drove from Wyoming to come see me walk. My girlfriend flew in from Arizona to see me walk. I started the process of finding work, which in the past has been a struggle. Having a bachelor’s degree changed a lot for me. I had 3 interviews inside of 30 days, as well as an interview offer that I declined and a pending interview offer that I didn’t accept because I got the job offer.

The interview that got me the job was a surprise. I was forwarded the business from another place I’d interviewed at. The interviewer emailed me and told me about this place and offered to be a reference for me. It was a great gesture that I wasn’t expecting. When I was invited to the interview, I was made to understand that it was just going to be a meet and greet, to see if my personality would fit into the business. Sometime during the interview, something changed and my interviewer got serious, asking me interview questions and then inviting me back to her office to fill out background check paperwork.

So, I ended up getting an offer for that job, which validates 3 years of hard work. The feeling of having a good job has been heady for me, and I haven’t even started yet. I’m starting tomorrow, and I’m really excited about it. I’m nervous, too, wondering what will be expected (I have the gist, but the reality is always slightly to the left of what gets advertised.) I’m sure everything is going to go well tomorrow, but how will it spool out? That’s yet to be seen.

I’m also getting back into the swing of writing, which was something I did for school but now am finally doing for myself again. I have to balance my two jobs with my busy life, but it’s all worth it. I loved school and it fills my heart with joy that finally after twenty years I got the degree I wanted. It’s a beautiful moment of success and I’m terrible at letting myself enjoy it before pushing on to the next thing. So I will take a moment to savor that I did the thing, that I spent 3 years doing what I loved, and that I learned so much.

Then tomorrow, I’ll start the next phase of my life.

Three… two… one…

As my husband sings, off-key but with honest enthusiasm, “It’s the final countdown…”

Final countdown to classes being done for me. For now, at least. A Bachelor’s degree is something to be proud of, and I’ve worked hard these past three years to attain one. I’m two tests away from passing my classes, and I’ve spent all week studying for both. It’s completely possible that I’ll panic and flub the tests, but I’ve done all I can to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

And thus will end my college adventure.

I will miss college. I love learning and the school environment, I get a lot out of it. I was spoiled – my professors were all good, with a few that were great. (Okay, there was one that started rocky, but we managed to work it out.) I also met a lot of students who were interesting. Intelligent, sarcastic, open minded, opinionated.. if it weren’t for college I wouldn’t have any stories of the woman who worked as a clown and wrote stories about serial killers. She’d bring cotton candy to class.

The job hunt, on the other hand, I did not miss, but it has already begun. I likened it to the dating scene – there are so many misses and so few hits. I have only just started this journey, though, and my hopes are that I’ll land a job soon. I owe my husband a nicer house, you see, and the only way we’ll get it is through my gainful employment.

This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my dream of being a novelist. However, I have discovered that you can produce books while having a full-time job, it just takes time. If I hit it big on one of my titles, then things might change, but it may be a few years before I make it J.K. Rowling big. It’s good to have interests outside of work, after all. I mean, I also plan on getting a gym membership when I can pay for one.

The big change starts tomorrow, after the tests are done. I shall raise a glass to my college career, and then chase it with another for my future endeavors. Then I’ll be sure to be thankful that the summer’s not over yet!

Jiyeon Park

A Moment to Breathe

I’m so close to graduating now, but I have to get through the Summer, and I thought… if I waited for this huge milestone to arrive, I could go eight weeks without another post. This is my problem – milestones. It’s hard to recognize them, it’s hard to respect them when they show up. I’m not done with this quarter, after all. I have one horrendous final left, which is taking all my energy to not freak out about. I’ve been studying, which means I’ll do better than if I didn’t, but I’m struggling with the material, which isn’t usual for me. So yes, pretty much a freakout.
This quarter has gone well overall, all three of my professors have professed that they loved their classes and we were “one of their favorites.” I felt that it was earned; in the three classes I was taking, the students I interacted with were definitely sharp and engaged. I’ve had the luck of many good classes in my time at Western, but these were up there.
I’ve been doing this college thing for three years now, and the end goal is in sight. Summer quarter will only be six weeks long for me, and a side benefit of being online courses. They’re also classes in my minor and won’t be senior level, so summer could be less difficult than my last two quarters have been. I say could because I know if I don’t everything could go sideways on me. I do hope that this quarter is easy. I’m ready to be done and on to the next adventure.
June is already piling up as a busy time. My son’s birthday is late in the month, I had to coordinate his birthday party, which I am looking forward to. The downside is that it’s on Father’s Day, so I have to find a way to make sure my husband feels special too. My parents are coming into town for the occasion, which isn’t always possible, so that’s great. It also means summer vacation, which means a lot more time with my son. A friend of ours is also moving from Federal Way to Lynnwood, so I see more future trips to visit.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

I’ve been trying to slow things down a bit, but until the last final is taken, I feel that it’s just not going to slow down for me. I’ll have to keep ninjaing reports back as I can, and maybe some flash fiction this summer. I’m nothing if not ambitious.

unsplash-logoClark Tibbs

My Only Friend

(this is a piece I wrote for my fiction class, I thought I’d share.) (photo credit Jessie Shelton)

Angie wandered to the kitchen and found most of a bottle of Jameson sitting on the bar. She grabbed it up and headed upstairs, uncapping the green bottle and taking swigs directly out of it.  Gallie had a nice house. It was like her place, a little. Her ex-house. Repossessed as of the eighteenth, she watched them put the big Keep The Fuck Out lock over the doorknobs, and tears threatened to spill hot onto her concealer. She dabbed at her eyes with a careful finger, trying to shoulder how much she’d lost in such a short span of time.

The house. The stretch. Brad, her yoga instructor. Charlene, her majordomo. It reminded her of watching dominos fall, these slices of bad news toppling her life over. She walked up the stairs to the master bath, with its hardwood floors and its glassed off shower and deep soaking tub. Gallie had told her to take anything she wanted. She’d mentioned there was Valium around. This lead Angie to snooping. She set the bottle of Jameson down on the counter and found the mirrored cabinet. She jerked the hatch open and noticed how many little yellow bottles were in Gallie’s cabinet. Enough to kill a horse.

She found the Valium. There were a few left, but Angie wasn’t sure it was enough to do the job. She started poking around her cabinet in search of anything else she could take. She found a bottle marked cyclobenzaprine, with an ambiguous message, “For pain.” The bottle was almost full.

Running a bath seemed like the thing to do while she waited. She took another swig of Jameson and stepped into the rising level of hot water that made her feet tingle and turn pink. Angie thought about everything that happened. The video that started it all, the video of her creating her sculpture. It had gone viral, she couldn’t believe the hit count. Until Abhimanyu Singh himself contacted her to purchase the piece. He was the highest profile client she’d ever landed.

Her stomach gave a violent lurch. Quickly, she reached for the Jameson and swallowed, drawing down the liquid into her stomach. She couldn’t fuck this up, or she’d be in rehab for months.

She thought about her fame. She was a has been now, washed up, worse off than when she’d started. No one thought her art was cutting edge anymore, everyone was off chasing her copy-cats instead, Helene and Ursula. Who had a name like Ursula? It was as fake as the rest of her, Angie despised her.

It was getting hard to breathe. Angie leaned back in the hot water and tried not to struggle. Then she heard something speak. “Really? A suicide attempt? Isn’t that a bit overdone?”

Angie tried to look around the bathroom to see who spoke, but the glass revealed that she was alone. “Who said that?”

“I did,” said the Jameson bottle.

Angie almost dropped the bottle. Instead, she set it carefully on the edge of the soaking tub. “Why are you talking to me?”

“I’m the spirit of drowned sorrows. And you took too many pills,” The Jameson bottle’s voice sounded tartly disapproving.

“Fuck off, I’ve lost everything,” Angie snapped. It was hard to feel angry with so many relaxants in her system but she felt distinctly pissed off at the moment. “You don’t know anything about it.”

“Oh, I’ve seen plenty of artists kill themselves when their popularity sinks low,” the Jameson bottle supplied. “I’ve been in the toxicology reports. You need to puke, and soon, if you’re going to live to prove them wrong.”

“There’s nothing left,” Angie said plaintively.

“There’s this,” the Jameson bottle said, and showed her.

Fighting the lethargy in her body, Angie pulled herself up the sides, and stuck a hurried finger down her throat, gagging almost in slow-motion as the drugs pulled her body towards a grave. With a final push, she brought up the mass of booze and pills, onto Gallie’s pristine white tiled floor.

“Now what do I do?” Angie said, still gagging on the bitter-sour aftertaste.

“Get your ass to a hospital,” the Jameson bottle said. “Then get back to your art. Don’t get tied to what you can get from it. Just be proud that you made it.”

Angie reached for the Jameson bottle, but her fingers didn’t respond to their commands and she knocked it over on the tile, too. The neck of the bottle shattered and littered shards amid the vomit and the ceramic.

She looked at where she could safely step and found there wasn’t anywhere. She hoisted herself out of the tub and gingerly stepped down into the morass.

When You’re in College, Everything Looks Like an Assignment

So I haven’t been blogging lately at all, and I blame being a senior. I have so many assignments to turn in right now, that thinking about doing one for myself feels like wooooork and my brain begs me not to do it and I realize I may be on the edge of doing too much and not quite looking towards jumping off.

I am in three excellent classes right now. I’m taking a seminar fiction class (which means, lots of writing.) I’m in a Queer Studies poetry class, which means lots of reading and writing. Then I’m in a communications class, which is a lot of research and activity. They’re dovetailing nicely, the concepts from one class folding over into another until I’m not sure where one starts and one ends. I’ve heard of integrated learning like this before but usually it’s designed that way, and this is spontaneous. I accept it as part of the weirdness that can pervade my life.

I’m getting to the end of classes, though. This quarter, then Summer quarter, and I’ll be graduated, which is freaking me out a little bit. This bubble that I created for myself was a safe place where I wasn’t expected to be out in the job market is about to pop. I’m anxious about finding work after school. I’m sort of an anxious person anyway but this isn’t helping. Imagining getting turned down to jobs I haven’t even applied for yet is probably not the healthiest way to spend my time, but brains don’t always play nice.

There are other struggles playing havoc right at the moment, too. Such as, my son. He has a tooth that has snagged on the root of another tooth and isn’t growing right. We’ve been trying to get insurance to cover it for months, and I got a letter in the mail today saying it was approved. I got a call from the orthodontist saying it would be denied. So, I called my orthodontist, and they have no record from the insurance company that the procedure for Toby has been approved. When I tried to book an appointment, they were booking out to July. We’ve been fighting with this since October. Our other option is to pay a private orthodontist which will be faster but much pricier. Rock, meet hard place.

This is what life is when you’re busy making other plans.

unsplash-logoAnete Lūsiņa