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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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

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

Autumn is Coming

I’m not going to lie, I think I forgot how to blog.
I used to be able to whip out a few lines about my life, but that was when I was in school, when things were jam packed and exciting.
This summer has made life Slow. Way. Down. And while I’ve been enjoying the pace, let’s face it, there’s nothing gripping in 88 lines about 4 things that happened. I’ve been writing about my adventures over the summer, of which some were mighty, and of which some were just a mention.
One of the things I like to talk about is my writing. I am learning so much I feel like every blog post is a chance to document my milestones. I also imagine that other writers might find it interesting. I imagine, on the other hand, that some people think it’s like watching paint dry. This leaves me trying to find a balance.
I am working on an exciting achievement and something I’ve never done before. I wrote two rough drafts in two months, in tandem. I’ve written one book in the course of a month, last summer, but two separate books in different genres was a whole new level of achievement. I used to wonder how my other writer friends pounded out manuscripts so fast, but I see now that it simply matters how much time you have. When I have enough time to treat my writing like a full-time job, I produce crazy books. When I’m a student, my output slows way down. It makes sense, but to know a thing and to experience a thing sometimes turns out differently. I always thought I was underproducing. Turns out, I was just overachieving in other areas of my life.
Speaking of overachieving, I was accepted to Sigma Alpha Pi, which is a national honors society for universities. I am stunned and pleased that my grades are getting noticed. Of course, this always raises the bar as well, but I figure anything to make my resume look more shiny is welcome in my world.
I’m a year out from graduation (or so,) and I’m making plans for how to finish out my year even as I begin it. I love being a student, love all that I’m learning, but it’s a race against money, as the student loans rack up. The whole point of going back to school was to raise my income potential. That, and to get a job that I could marginally stand while I wait for people to fall in love with my books.
I am looking forward to school. I love school. I love learning. In another life I might have been a teacher, if I wasn’t so obsessed with spinning yarn.
Speaking of yarn, I am trying to teach myself to knit. Let me tell you, for a clumsy lady, that is some slow going. But it has taught me the secret to learning a thing; never give up. And just keep trying.

So here is my relearning how to blog.

Summer Progress

This summer has been a whirlwind. My parents came for a visit, and we had a great time. We watched movies, we went out to the wilds of Birch Bay, and we went out to a backyard bbq. My parents were in their element. They are a dynamic duo. My dad’s a great storyteller, and my mom is an empathic listener. They are always welcome at parties.

My dad’s favorite hobby is taking pictures, which he made sure to do while we were out and about. My mom taught me what a Zen Tangle was. It’s a complex pattern that seems like a fun way to spend an afternoon. Luke and I showed them Fool Us and Macklemore and Maru on YouTube.

By the end of the trip I was tired out. I probably didn’t have to try as hard as I did, but I’m an overachiever, even if it’s not explicitly what my parents ask for or expect. I had to make sure everything was great for their visit.

Even after their departure, I can’t seem to find it in myself to relax. I jumped back on my writing projects with gusto, worked on chores on the house, and took my son to the Raspberry Festival.

I need to figure out what to do with the rest of the summer. I am not outdoorsy by nature, but I have a ten-year-old son that if left to himself would sit inside all day. The B&G club has been a godsend, but there’s something to be said to taking him to a park or out on a Pokewalk to get him engaged in the outdoors. I think I’m stressing out about this more than necessary, because I haven’t been able to carve out a routine.

This summer has been a roller coaster, and I can’t believe it’s halfway done. Yesterday during a conversation with Allison, I laughed and said, “Remember how we were going to do ALL THE THINGS this summer?”

She laughed too.

The summer progresses at its own pace.

The Pause that Refreshes

I can’t believe that school has been out for almost a month. Well, that’s a technicality. I’ve been out of school almost a month; my classes didn’t have classic finals so finals week was kind of a freebie. I was so stressed out from my classes. I loved them, but they were hard and pushed me to new edges of limits. Even the debate class was better than I expected – not that the bar was set high.

As soon as Toby was out of school, we swept away to Central Oregon, to visit the Three Sisters, Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor, and several others. Where I grew up, we had the Black Hills and the Bighorns. Neither one of them were fraught with individual names, so the idea of naming mountains struck me as superfluous. Then again, these mountains jut well above the hills that surround them, snowy peaks breaking up the landscape dramatically.

Oregon is like the bastard child of Washington and Wyoming. There were lots of trees, but we left the rainforest behind and entered the high plains. The sage brush and pines rolled out mile after mile, and at one point I even saw an antelope in the high grass.

The vacation itself was fun. We stayed at a condo that had a very fine pool, and after some shenanigans with our key cards, we settled in for some fine dining and swimming. The next day we went out to Tumelo Falls, which were gorgeous. While we were there a confused butterfly landed on my hand and proceeded to unfurl his proboscis, licking me furiously. I was too stunned to move for a minute, but I managed to sneak out my phone and catch a hand selfie with the butterfly contentedly moving his tongue this way and that, trying to discover where I’d cleverly hidden my nectar. It did get the hint eventually, only to veer off to my son’s shirt for another fruitless search.

Then we left the condo and drove off to my first adventure at an AirBnB. I could go on for ages about what happened, but I’ll condense it to saying that after a drive through four-by-four tracks to reach the place, I was stunned by an open floor plan that opened up into a kitchenette, a daybed, and a random mannequin. The upstairs floor plan was wide open, with a futon, a queen bed, and a view of the neighbor’s goats. Lying awake in the dark and listening to the goats bleat softly to each other was a new experience, as was having the bathroom door knob fall off in my hand at two o’clock in the morning.

My son’s birthday was celebrated by a long drive and an expansive spread of dirt. We went hunting for thundereggs, which are like geodes but solid, full of agate. They are easy to spot and were all over this site, so the challenge level was low, but on a hot day under the scorching sun, you don’t want it to be difficult. We dug up at least twenty pounds of rocks and brought them home. They are awaiting The Great Project, where my husband will rent a tile saw and saw them all open. Which leaves me to wonder, what exactly are we going to do with twenty pounds of semi-circular rocks, but that’s tomorrow’s problem.

Did I write? Yes. I pledged to Junowrimo (yes, it’s a thing) and wrote 20k words on one project, and 7k words on another. Not bad for being away from the keyboard a significant chunk of this month. I’m juggling a lot of projects, mostly short stories.

Oh, and I got my grades back from school. A B+ in my Debate class (I would have accepted less, was quite pleased with this) and an A for both of my writing classes. Not bad for bucking teacher recommendations and heading out into the weeds.

One Down, Five to Go

I have successfully concluded my first quarter. And, while my grades won’t be officially submitted until next week, I have reason to believe I’m getting A’s and a B. In January I would have sworn to you I was doomed for D’s, so it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised.

Registration is done for next quarter and my schedule is… expedient. I am going to take classes I enjoy, but one will be interesting. I’m not looking forward to a debate class. My husband almost fell off the couch laughing when he heard I’d signed up for one. If nothing else it should be a source of amusement at my expense, but I’ll live with that. Awkward human brings forth awkward humor.

On a completely different note, I am watching The Flash on Netflix and I am genuinely enjoying the storytelling. The cast is fantastic, they have a great style and energy. The storytelling is complex, which you could expect, both from a superhero point of view and a timey-wimey point of view. Time travel always opens so many cans of worms at the same time, the complexity is easy to mess up. They are doing a fine job with it, though.

Things are going well on the writing front. Finals week took out my momentum at the knees, but as I approach Spring Break I have days devoted to finishing Typhon. Finding time and space to read out loud without bothering people has been challenging, so I’ve been working on other projects while I wait for break. I am working on a strange marriage of a sci-fi setting and an epic fantasy. I like where the story is going, but I’m worried about the voice. It doesn’t have the stylized speech patterns of an epic fantasy, which it did when I first started the work. On the other hand, the story is solid, so perhaps the stylized fantasy aspect was holding me back from finishing the piece. Ah, the life of a writer. Much like the complex storytelling aspects of time travel, if you’re going to try to work in two genres, you’d better be prepared to get both genres right. If you can’t write Pern, you’d better stick to one gun or the other.

But now, I must go. My son’s coding club is having an open house for parents today, and I’m going to investigate. He’s had so much fun in this club, we’re going to miss it while it’s on break!