Of all my least favorite seasons in Colorado, moth season is clearly not my favorite. (Do other places even HAVE a moth season??). It started about a week ago when I noticed one big whopper of a flying grayman on my ceiling. Yesterday, five of them invaded the apartment–causing all three of my cats to lose their shit. Literally.
What ensued last night–around this time till about…oh, 1:30 am–was an epic disaster. The cats did things cats should never do–some extremely gross–and were crying and chasing flying grays around this apartment so aggressively that it may never be the same. The neighbor’s dog also went apeshit around 10 pm–waking me from a sound sleep twice–which alerted me to the crazy cat situation (along with the crashes that sounded like a Hummer stormed the balcony).
Almacita was not effing amused. I ended up staying up till well past 4:30 am (when I get up at 6:30 am). After cleaning up everything, I was pretty much fuming. At bugs. At stupid cats. At myself. At the world for making me so tired and never getting a break.
And did I mention all of this happened when I had a severely injured knee–so injured that I can barely walk to feed the cats in the first place?
I have a complicated, but ultimately simple, relationship with moths. Well, all bugs–really.
When I was little, I was terrified of them. Except when I dug in dirt. They were supposed to be there. That was okay because I was the invader. I have vivid memories of fumigators coming into our home. We never had rodents, but ants and roaches would come from our neighbors’ homes. I lived in utter fear that some bug would be crawling on me when I woke up every day. Moths were particularly scary to me. I remember I hated them more than all other bugs because they dive-bombed me. They just had really terrible attitudes. They wouldn’t let up either. So, often, I’d sleep with a thin sheet over my head–just in case.
I got less freaked out by bugs as I got older. I no longer would run, shrieking from a room in full-on priss mode, whenever a bug entered. I was a bio major, after all, and I understood these things. I was smarter than they were. I just had to wait it out. As an adult, I didn’t enjoy moth divebombs–but we had a truce. They would leave me alone, and I would leave them alone. And that truce continued on until a couple years ago when I got some cats. Cleo, my sweet girl, was pretty sadistic when it came to killing them. She liked to maim them and then play with them–never actually killing them–so I’d have to step in because I’m not that mean. Fogg was much more crazy–taking big risks and knocking down everything in her path to happily munch on moths. At least she ate them. The two young boys are kind of game changers, though. Both are hunters. Rilly, in particular, gets obsessed with bugs and will meow to them. Loudly. He also has been known to jump five feet in the air to get to one. He’s also quite dumb. So, there’s that. Mumford is much more intentional about his kills. But I guess that goes with being a street cat.
In any case, it happened again tonight–with much less hurrah and curse words from me.
I cleaned up the mess and went about ridding my home of these invaders–offering them an escape if they chose to take it. Of course, they’re dumb and didn’t do so. So I swiffered them. I recommend it. Great reach. (I mean–what kind of idiot bug invades the home of three hunter cats and a grumpy redhead?).
I’m an animal lover–yes–even bugs. They’re often beautiful, usually fascinating, and a key part of our ecosystems. I could talk your ears off about that. I respect them. But–like all uninvited houseguests–I don’t appreciate being infringed upon. There are plenty of places to hang out–much better ones, at that. And I don’t barge in on them. That said–as much as my black heart kinda gets a jolt of glee when the smackdown comes, I also feel sad. Like–man–why didn’t you let me shoo you out?
This afternoon, while utterly bored at work, I started examining the last day or so. I woke up this morning still feeling angry about the night’s events. My cats were assholes–I muttered. Didn’t I raise them better?
Then I realized I’m dumb and was trying to moralize cats about innate behaviors. I was also beyond mad about the gross things that happened–that I eventually figured out were related to one of our cats having a cold or something.
It helps that these three stooges are about the most adorable animals ever, and I am their resident kitty mama. While cuddling with the sick lady, I decided to give her some meds. Drops and goos and probiotics. She was a great sport and just seemed so appreciative. And I felt like an asshole for being so mad.
I had acted like she and her brothers had done all of this shit last night with some kind of malice. Didn’t they know how tired I was? How much pain I was in? How hard it was for me to even move?
Nope. They didn’t. And what’s worse–they had no comprehension of it. And they had no idea why I was yelling–just that I was kinda scary sometimes. I felt bad. In the early days of kitty mamahood, I learned that scolding cats was an exercise in futility. Cats don’t respond to scolding. They respond to love. If you love them and give them attention for good things, bad behavior usually stops. In my rage, I forgot that.
There’s not one bone of ill intent in any of their bodies. They act on instinct. They are physical beings. And judging them based on human ideas is totally unfair. See? I’m an asshole.
I found my compassion and my anger left me so easily. All I could be? Kind. Tolerant. My best self. It’s odd how easy it is to be those things when you stop playing the blame game and just open your heart to the little being in front of you–who wants nothing except a head scratch and some tuna.
It made me think about how I do the EXACT SAME THING with people. Only it’s harder to find compassion there. Because they’re people. They’re smart people who should know better. They should know without me ever saying anything?!
God. I operate at that level all the time. In fact, it’s the key factor in my anger towards others and the thing that often causes me to distance myself.
It’s that assumption that we all have the same information about each other–even when one person refuses to freely share their side of reality. It’s so easy to come from that place of rage rather than stopping to think about it. When you do–it’s pretty clear…God, that’s unfair. And it’s a way to seek out excuses to be mad and a way to justify behavior motivated by hurt and fear that (often) has nothing to do with the person in question.
Most of the time, it’s not personal. So why do I make everything too personal and then refuse to volunteer the vulnerability that comes with being personal?!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it a thousand times over, but my sweet kitties teach me a whole lot about what it really means to be with people–to love them and care for them.
Thanks, littles, for continuing to love me even when I’m a whirling dervish of growls. I promise to remember to love you even when it’s really hard.
Our bathroom sink has been clogged up since last night, after I did something all my instincts told me not to do. Our building has really old pipes and they weren’t exactly installed well. The day I moved in, I discovered some disconcerting things. Oddly, I’ve never actually clogged anything in my adult life. I’ve dealt with faulty plumbing at my old place, but it was the actual construction that caused the issues. So, it was particularly frustrating when–what I feared would happen–DID happen–and it was pretty much my own damn fault.
As the sink filled with greasy, weird looking, brown water–I was just like: “Really?!” It was almost 10 pm. It had been a really long day, and I had done this one last thing when I had nothing left. I just wanted to get it out of the way.
And then this happened. Goddamnit.
I scooped out as much water as I could. I surveyed my available tools. A plunger made for toilets that usually works on ours. And some drain cleaner my roommate picked up ages ago for our slow-moving “outer bathroom” sink. Oh, and the Internet.
Growing up, I remember drain cleaner was our tool of last resort. The thing you used that probably wouldn’t work and then you’d call Felipe. And like magic? It’d be done. And life would be good again.
I think I’ve called our building manager one time in the entire time I’ve lived here for a maintenance call. It was for the garbage disposal, two weeks in–and the dude stole my best knife. I’ve managed to fix things myself since then–or get my roommate to do it–or learn to live with it. I don’t like people in my home,generally. And given our moving and me living the single life by my lonesome–this apartment is a horror.
So–yea. A not ideal plunger. No gloves. No safety gear. No snakes. Not even enough paper towels. And goddamn drain cleaner.
At first, I got a long spoon and tried to dig it out. Nope. Flushed hot water. And then plunged till it smelled like a horrible nightmare in there. Weird black floaters came up to greet me–and the water went up. Seriously! I called my roommate. He’s mechanically inclined–where I am not. He told me to dump hot water in the drain. Or try the drain cleaner. I decided to try the hot water thing. It didn’t work. And then I decided to just take the pipes apart. It was easy enough. No big thing. I’d watched Felipe a few times. I didn’t get splashed. But there wasn’t much there. It became clear, it wasn’t in the trap. Nope–it was in the transition between sink and pipe. I thought I could see it. But the genius who installed our pipes added glue and a weird metal hinge to it–which meant that area was the one place I couldn’t actually get to. I tried poking the spoon in that direction, but couldn’t reach. Damnit.
I put it all back together again–and decided: drain cleaner. It was the only way. Surely, it could dissolve that thing that was there. It couldn’t be THAT large. And drain cleaner is hardcore. So I poured and waited. Nothing. And poured more and waited. Still nothing. And poured. You get the idea. Till I was a raging, frustrated mess. I decided to leave it in overnight and then see what happened in the morning. Only I couldn’t just leave it alone. You know how some people just can’t stop themselves from poking at their zits? Yea–that. I kept trying to plunge it away. Kept Googling. It smelled so terribly toxic. What was I going to do with a bowl full of this shit?
In the morning, it hadn’t moved. I hadn’t slept well or much. I woke up at 4 am, drenched in sweat–fresh from a dream about bleach. I swear my pores were leaking drain cleaner from all the fumes I must’ve absorbed by being in there. Despite the open windows and good ventilation, I felt dizzy and headachy. And aggravated. So aggravated. So I placed a late night Amazon order for clog-busting supplies–namely a snake I have no idea how to use. It smelled less horrifying this morning…well, until I decided to try to scoop out drain cleaner by hand with an oatmeal cup. I cursed its weak-ass bullshit and managed to get none on me–but the scent renewed.
All day long, as I tried to focus on work and tried to be the good little mouse I’m expected to be all day long–I was pissed–at myself and drain cleaner. And stupid pipes. And things that stick in drains. I was obsessed with doing something. And every something I did didn’t do jack shit.
Long story short–unless some miracle happens (or the snake thing works)–I will be dealing with this till the weekend. And I am so not happy about that.
Tonight–as I was still obsessing and trying to fix this ridiculousness–a weird realization came over me. Holy crap–this was about my life.
Some common themes:
Okay, Universe. I hear ya.
I’ve been on this weird hamster wheel over the last few days of trying to control everything I’m capable of controlling. Mostly because so much is out of my control right now, and I have to just trust in other people. I’m also putting others’ needs above my own–even when it’s not required or even necessary. So, back to perfectionism where mistakes can’t happen.
The Universe is making me sit in my bad choice, and it’s making me realize how much that one little thing seriously bothers me. It’s not a big deal. We have another sink. It’s a couple days of stupid. So, why is it bothering me so much?
Because I’m the one who’s supposed to fix all of it. I’m not allowed to be human. I’m not allowed to rest. I’m not allowed to let the shit go, already, or ask for help without feeling bad about it.
And I made the damn rules.
So, though I’m pretty aggravated right now just writing this…I’m going to just breathe and watch bad TV. And do all the stupid crap I could do later. And trust that it will get fixed eventually and the things that matter will find their solutions eventually. (And it will not be on my schedule). It’s okay.
Since my roommate left Colorado for the Bay Area, it’s been really wet and rainy here in Denver. We even got some snow. This is pretty unusual for us. We get 300 sunny days each year. The Chamber of Commerce says so. Today was yet another gray day. I’m kind of savoring it because it’s been a while since we’ve had a proper wet spring, and I know this will be my last one here for a while. I also just flat out love rain, so I don’t mind one little bit.
I kind of overdid it this weekend. I had way too much energy and did not rest enough. I knew this would have ramifications, but I did not know it would mean awful asthma symptoms this morning. Apparently, moving things around kicks up a lot of dust–which makes my asthma not so happy. So, I made the executive decision to stay home from work today. I recognized how tired I was, and powering through it would probably land me in the ER. So, to bed I went–and stayed, for most of today.
I was really glad I’d made a crockpot full of chili last night. The smell woke me up a couple of times, but Rilly’s yowls for food mid-afternoon is what got me out of bed.
All of these things–the rainy weather, the not feeling well, and the chili–triggered that old friend of mine: nostalgia.
I’m prone to such things. I think it’s the writer in me. In any case, food–especially–takes me to a very sentimental place. When you’re a chef’s daughter, you can’t help but become a foodie with friends who are also foodies and a whole host of memories surrounding certain dishes. For me, food will always be about connection, and it’s a way to stay close to people I’ve loved and maybe lost.
The chili I made yesterday is my ex’s recipe. He was known for his chili and would often make big pots of it for friends who came over for creativity parties and small dinner parties. I remember how much I loved cooking with him and his brother. It still brings back such happy memories. I’ve riffed on it here and there, but it’s essentially his–though I don’t use buffalo like he did and I’m much more experimental about the chiles and beans I use. I also usually add some corn. I still have to have a big handful of Fritos–in the bottom of the bowl with a big scoop of chili on top. He taught me that.
It’s the one thing that–for years–I kept from that relationship…even when I hated every single thing about him ever being in my life. I think it stayed in my life because it was so comforting. Nothing mends a broken heart better than a big bowl of delicious chili and a slew of romantic comedies on the couch. To be honest, I needed that tether to keep me open…and not hate him for the rest of my life.
Thinking about that chili recipe reminded me a lot of the people who’ve been in my life–who aren’t here anymore…either by choice or by fate. It reminded me of how much these things make impressions on our lives. How every time I make this chili–I tell some story about that guy I thought I’d marry one day. And, despite all the bitter venom that happened between us and despite how far away we are from each other now, that memory will always be sweet.
Just like music and books–food stays. Maybe even more powerfully. Food is a drug, of course. Eating something can take you back in time.
So, since I’m feeling nostalgic tonight…I think I’ll share a few food memories–based on eras in my life.
My childhood was this mix of abject poverty and riches beyond belief. On one hand, we had nothing. We’d make many trips to food banks in my childhood. On the other hand, my father was a chef, and we lived next to one of the most culturally diverse parts of Denver–a place filled with exotic spices and strange things on shelves. I walked a tightrope of a life nourished by rice, beans, and all things gluten-y along with the excesses of American convenience in the ’80s & ’90s. Lots of bread. Lots of dairy. Ramen. Freeze cups. Pizza with giant salads and fast food fried chicken. Counteracted by the most amazing Asian food and Mexican wonders. I spent many days cooking with my parents. I learned how to make these Mexican beauties from my auntie. I never liked my Daddy’s chili. But his cornbread was the best–and I still make it, sometimes. I learned how to cook by instinct. I never measured anything. Which is why, to this day, I’m not the best at cakes. They’ll taste good, but they may be inverted. Ha.
I’ve eaten powdered eggs. I’ve made desserts out of powdered skim milk and saltines. I’ve had canned pork and government cheese. I think these things inform how I eat today–and why fresh food and high quality food is now so important to me.
Young adulthood was a mix of cafeteria food at school and discovering what existed beyond Westwood. I ate a lot of grilled turkey and cheese and iced mochas. I spent countless mornings at the top floor of my school’s library, behind the clock–watching the campus walk by–while drinking a strawberry banana smoothie (the best) from Brewski’s and chowing down on a toasted everything bagel. I also ate a lot of giant salads. But then, I ventured out into this new world of North Denver. It had hole-in-the-wall Mexican that was hotter than anything I’d ever had. But it was the Italian food that won we over. And I became a coffee snob. And an apple cider freak, thanks to working in the Writing Center.
It was then that I started experimenting and trying to learn new ways of cooking. I’d get these classic cookbooks, and I’d cook a dish each week. For holidays, I’d cook these huge feasts with my mother as sous chef. We’d always find our way to the couch and would collapse in a heap at the end of the day.
Chili ex came into my life a few years after college. He introduced me to Guinness. I didn’t drink much–if at all back then–and was back living in Westwood. I guess, with him, I learned how much fun food could be. It became a social activity. I cooked with his brother, and we’d challenge each other to do complex things. They loved to grill things.
There was the ex that was obsessed with pizza and boozy drinks filled with diet vanilla cola and something else I can’t quite remember. I think it was vodka? I think I only cooked for him once–in his old apartment in LA–and it was my special pizza. We took it on a roadtrip and ate it cold. We ate a lot of takeout, and he would bring me ice cream sandwiches before he left for work.
There was the guy who got me obsessed with caipirnhas who liked simple food who I tried to impress with my cooking. The guy who showed up and whisked me away for pancakes at 2 am. The guy I never once shared a meal with. And the one who couldn’t stand bits in anything. (Bits meaning anything with texture–like nuts). And I would laugh at him because nuts are delicious. We would rhapsodize together about spaghetti. He once sent me a pineapple bouquet. He knew me all too well.
There’s the guy who became my roommate, who I baked cupcakes for–which were fantastic, but came out a little too moist. He made me my first bowl of homemade Indian food, and I discovered I don’t hate lentils. Every time I made anything for him, it never came out quite right. But we’ve made heavenly baklava and yummy feasts together.
No matter what has happened, there are these memories that make me smile…that are so unique to each relationship I’ve had. These are the memories that stay with me–that I think of when I remember them. Not the heartache or the hurt feelings. I hope they remember these things, too. Or maybe they have their own memories of me that aren’t about the weird times in our lives. I suppose the fact that these are my memories of them means I’ve grown up a bit. Well, here’s hoping.
Today, I woke up with tons of energy. I actually got a great night of sleep, for once, and slept in. I’m not sure if the whole sleep thing was responsible for this energy thing, but–let me tell you–it’s a rare event. Most days, if I sleep at all, I’m always ready to go right back to bed.
I tackled some projects I’ve been meaning to get done for a while, did some of the maintenance type things that go along with being a kitty mama, and prepared for the rest of the weekend. It was good, but my brain is still running at a fast pace while my body is like–“break, now?”
Cleaning is a meditative thing for me. I used to be much more anal about organization and spotless kitchens. I’ve had to relax that in recent years as my body just stopped cooperating and as time ran away from me. I inherited many of my attitudes about such things from my mother–who never stopped cleaning. We used to clean together, often, and it was always my go-to when I was stressed out. There’s still a part of me that loves nothing more than a clean bathroom.
I usually think a lot when I clean and sort of work out frustration when I’m knee deep in some mess. So, today’s cleaning was pretty meditative for me. It allowed me to get in the right mindset for what needs to happen over the next few weeks. It also helped me sort through some things. I was actually kind of surprised by the thoughts that came out of this brain of mine.
I started thinking about all the reasons I’ve not been happy in the last few years and all the reasons I’m feeling better now. I think I started a downward spiral when my mother passed–where I started isolating myself. I couldn’t do it completely because I had to work. Work and having a reason to go somewhere daily was really good for me. It made it impossible for me to kind of do my introvert thing where I think too much.
Then, I had some things happen in my life that were pretty heartbreaking. I started working from home and had major health problems that stopped me from doing a lot of the things I wanted to do. I started needing assistance with doing some things, and I stopped feeling like my independent self. I also am pretty sure I was in a sort of mild depression. My job was also very stressful and demanding. So, when I wasn’t working, I was recovering from it. Needless to say–it’s no wonder I stopped enjoying my life. My life was hard work always, and anything I loved to do? There wasn’t time for.
Having a decent job where no one is mean to me and where the work is reasonable means I don’t feel dead when I’m off the clock. I don’t work overtime or obsess about what will go wrong tomorrow. It’s such a relief, honestly.
But it’s not just that. I feel better now because I feel more connected to myself–and who I used to be before this whole crazy life kicked in. It’s taken me some time to feel comfortable in my own apartment again. A few months ago, I honestly didn’t feel comfortable sitting in my own living room or cooking in my kitchen. I didn’t enjoy this apartment, so I disconnected from it. And because I did that, I stopped doing a lot of things that were part of my coping mechanisms–things like cooking and cleaning and playing with the cats.
It’s odd because–as tired as I often am–the whole process of lovingly cleaning my cats’ bowls and feeding them the right amount of food…the process of cutting up veggies for dinner and taking out the trash…it reminds me of the person I used to be before death and illness and sadness and survival almost swallowed me whole.
I’m feeling stronger every day, and that’s such a blessing. I feel more connected to everything lately, probably because I’m more connected to my body and to all those other bodies out there doing the same tasks that go with living. There’s a spirituality in these acts that gives me space to breathe when the thoughts in my head are too loud. All I can be is grateful.
Whew. It’s been a really good week so far–one that’s kind of opened my eyes to the things that were kinda derailing me from my path for a long while. I’m making some big strides and having new insights that make me want to change other things I’ve been doing.
I think we’d all probably say that we want to be happy, and I’m not any different. I’m no dummy. I prefer to smile when I can. I hate crying and all the associated crap that comes with it. But, on the other hand, my life has taught me to endure some pretty awful things. For better or for worse, I learned to do things a certain way. I also learned to put up with things and avoid things. We all have that story that informs our choices–and by and large–determines our overall happiness.
While my life made me super resilient, it also made me pretty nostalgic, a little melancholy, hopeful to a fault, and a touch cynical. Also stubborn. All of which has played a role in where I’m sitting today. I can’t complain too much because I really am grateful for all of it and can see how those things helped or protected me.
On the other hand, I have some serious struggles that I’ve identified as not exactly helpful anymore. These things were there for a reason and helped me through things. But now? Now, it’s like I’m wearing a cape made of dozens of 50 pound weights. That heaviness often made me choose easier options instead of what was best for me. It obstructed my view or stopped me from moving forward. It kept me stuck. And I allowed it to. Or I just didn’t understand how to get them off me. Some of it I inherited, and some I picked up along the way.
A few years ago, my weight cape got as heavy as it had ever been, and my body started falling apart. It just couldn’t do it anymore. In my effort to lighten my load, I ended up adding on more stuff. So that getting better was a weight in and of itself.
And pretty soon? The only thing I did was frantically shake things off only to attract it back, in different forms. Sorta like a magnet. I was doing so much, but I wasn’t getting better. And worse? I was actually more unhappy because I was so frustrated with myself and the world that seemed to be throwing things at me all the time.
Recently, I made a big change. One that was long overdue that I came to in that same frustrated place. It was different this time because I had more knowledge about myself and the parts of me that kept choosing self-abuse. I was surprised by some things and completely defeated by others. I cut myself some slack and gave myself some options. I promised myself I wasn’t going to do this the way I had before. And doors just sort of popped open. And now, I’m here…in this very different place where I don’t have to choose others before my own needs.
Suddenly, I’m making good choices. I’m not doing those stupid things I did before. Mostly because, I think, I’m coming from a place of self-respect (for once). I don’t hate anything about most of my days anymore. I’m not sullen and angry all the time. The person I really am seems to be coming through more and more.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. And I’ve always listened way too much to other people–instead of focusing on what works for me. What’s working with this situation: I have the freedom to do what I want and need to do, but I also have support just a second away. I’m starting from a clean slate, and I’m set-up for success. I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to be open to learning.
This week has been nice because–in my personal life–I’ve been outside the routine that used to be where I’m in control and I have some ground rules–but really, it’s about what works. Not what’s perfect. And no one else is weighing in on what’s best for me.
I need that. So much. Because honestly, I need to enjoy my life again. Once you’re happy with one thing, it’s impossible to go back to the stuff that feels so heavy.
Since getting sick a few years ago, I’ve been in this cycle of toxic judging where things are black and white. Where good and bad choices inform my self-worth. It has to end. Yes–there are some options that make more sense for what’s happening and what has happened. But I know–in my heart–that my mental health related to this issue is most important. I can’t make good decisions is the decision to be better or healthier makes me hate everything.
So, I’m going back to the ground floor. I’m going to relearn the things I was taught as a kid. Namely, I’m going to focus on what I love–what makes me happy–and figure out why I love it. I’m going to focus on what I’m passionate about and focus on the basics. Nothing more. Once I get that covered, I can figure out what makes sense. But no more restrictions. No more evil. Just love. That’s enough.