Category Archives: my life

I May Be Going Off The Deep End, But I’m Still Not a Crazy Cat Lady

I held her lifeless body, telling myself that she was still alive and just wasn’t awake yet.  But she wouldn’t wake, she was gone.  A week earlier, I would not have wanted her in my life, but now life without her is harder.  My heart still hurts.  I didn’t think I could feel grief anymore, but I do for her.  I did not choose to have her in my life, but she still touched me.  I tried so hard to give her life, and somehow that melted my heart, because I found that I actually cared.

This morning marked the 2 week anniversary of my kitten Cali’s passing.  Through tears that afternoon, I started the above passage.  Later, I partially blacked out after only 3 glasses of wine.  Feeling true grief over anything and blacking out are both firsts for me.  I pretty much lost it and am having trouble bouncing back emotionally.  I can still function, as many critters depend on me, but I still have that cliche’d hole in my heart.

Even with my decades of animal care-giving for more animals (namely cats) than I ever wanted, I had never created a strong bond with an animal.  Sure, I care for animals, and the puppy mill dogs see me as a “mom” figure, but I’m not overly sentimental nor am I the bonding type.  Especially since I resent having to take care of so many many animals because my disabled partner wants them all but won’t/can’t care for them.

I do seem to have a gift for nurturing, though.

Animals come and go, whether it be through adoption or otherwise.  That’s rescue life.  I’m fine, even relieved, when they go to new homes.  If they pass away, it’s sad, but I get over it.  At most, a quick sob and then on with life, even for those we’ve had for years and years.

For me, sentimentality has nothing to do with nurturing.  Being able to nurture doesn’t mean going to pieces when someone is sick or even passes away.

Cali was different, though.  She was the first pet I genuinely loved enough to cry for.  A lot.  I did not want her to go, even though I had my time back, which is a precious commodity.  I was more than willing to sacrifice anything to care for her.  This was more than just nurturing.

I thought I had gotten over her passing by now, since I was only feeling sadness when I occasionally thought of her.

But I saw her body again the past 2 mornings (the bodies are in the freezer until we can take them to the pet crematorium), and I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Writing this was almost impossible at times.

I have never had such an emotional time writing.  And I never thought my hardest post would be about a kitten.

Cali was a dark calico with a white belly.  She survived 6 days, and we bonded.  She was the sole kitten for the last day of her life, leaving her without siblings to cuddle with, so after her feedings she would curl up into my hand and fall asleep.  I even thought I heard a tiny purr here and there.  I was momma, and she loved me.  The first night she was alone, I would keep my hand in her warmed kennel so she would have something living to sleep by.  The second night, before she passed, I kept my had in her kennel less because my partner was paranoid that I would somehow hurt Cali after I fell asleep.  I can’t help but wonder if she would have made it had I had stayed awake and let her sleep in my hand, kept next to my body like I wanted to keep her, for the extra warmth and attention.  Would the cuddling have made a difference?

The momma cat’s owner had brought Cali and 3 of her siblings to us less than 24 hours after their birth.  My partner received the call and agreed to take them in without consulting me, even though I would be the one to care for the newborns.  I did resent, as I always do, her agreeing to give me more responsibilities, but the resentment lessened when I cared for the newborns.

This outside momma cat had no maternal instincts.  Cali had 4 other siblings, and the biggest baby passed away before the kittens were brought to us, and the 2nd biggest passed away within hours of them being in our care. With each passing, I was a little sad and then just proceeded to take care of the other babies like I always do.  After all, they are just babies that didn’t have a chance, so while I tried my best, I knew the odds were against them.  Newborn kittens are nearly impossible to save, especially if they hadn’t nursed at all from their momma.  We do have an emergency supply of all-species colostrum for the first day we had them, to help supplement since they received no momma’s milk, then on to the Kitten Milk Replacer, using eyedroppers at first, but eventually Cali got the hang of nursing from a bottle.  Babies can’t go potty without help, so I did the momma’s job of making them go potty before and after feedings, and burping them after their feedings. Then they would go into their make-shift bed full of blankets and fuzzy material, with a heating pad underneath to keep them warm.

Cali hang on the longest.  She was 6 days old, and I had cared for her 5 of those 6 days.

I had hope that she would live and was rooting for her, and I just thought it was my normal positive outlook.  I didn’t know it was because I fell in love with her and was starting to think that the odds turned to be in her favor, that my positive outlook was more wishing that she would not die on me.  I didn’t know that I would feel real grief after she passed, and that I would still be feeling it two weeks later.

That never happened before.

Perhaps she was filling a void.  All she asked for was to help give her life, and she would be my baby in return.  She would love the care I gave her and wouldn’t ever yell at me for caring for her the wrong way or doing the wrong thing.  If she needed something I wasn’t giving her, she would just meow.  And anything she asked for was vital for her to live and she was happy to receive anything I gave her.  And while I cared for her, I could forget about all the frustrations and disappointments of my regular life.

Sure, I was losing sleep and time, and figuring out how to care for her while working my day job and performing all my other necessary duties wasn’t easy.  But that was OK.  She was taking to the bottle nicely, and while she wasn’t gaining weight, she still seemed strong and full of as much life as a baby kitten can have.

I honestly don’t know if I would have kept her as my personal pet after she grew up, or if I would have allowed her to be adopted and provide another person/family with joy.  I may not have felt that same bond after Cali grew up and would be able to take care of herself.  I tend to be a person that nurtures until they are strong enough to go on their way and then I let go.

Regardless, I wish Cali was still here with me.  Should would have been stronger and starting to play by now, and by next week would learn to drink milk from a bowl.

But she’s gone.  I will have her cremated separately so I can have her with me always.  A reminder that I actually do have feelings and can care deeply for something.

I don’t wish to have any more kittens.  That will not fill the void, and I don’t know that I will feel this again for another animal.

I just know that I loved my Cali, and I miss her more that I have missed anything.

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Drawing the Line (or Thinking of Me)

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From unsplash.com/salt

I drew an imaginary line sometime last fall.

Or was it just before that?

No matter.  I drew it, even if it was in my head, and still is.

I drew the line and told myself that on the other side is what my partner Denise wants, BUT must want MORE than me.

Last summer Denise said she wanted bariatric surgery and was going to follow through.  It was her idea.

She wanted to lose all her excess weight and feel better.

She also said she wanted to be more attractive to me.

Looks and weight aren’t what turns me off about her.  It’s attitude and how she treats me and other people.

But back to the line and bariatric surgery.

We attended a seminar put on by the surgeons.  I learned some new things this time, such as diabetes being reversed after many of the successful surgeries and that they absolutely will not operate on a current smoker as the risks are way too high.

The patient must also lose a certain percentage of weight prior to surgery, which requires a pre-surgery diet.  This helps shrink a fatty liver, otherwise they may not be able to do the surgery.

Denise indicated, in her own words, that dieting and losing weight before the surgery is stupid because if she could lose weight on her own she would not need the surgery.

True IF she follows the diet for the rest of her life, but I think she missed the point they were making.

I knew from our first bariatric surgery seminar well over a decade ago that she would have issues with the requirements, mainly the foods she couldn’t eat after the surgery.

She loves her carbs and sugar.

But we still followed the preliminary steps for the surgery.  Meeting with the doctor’s office, dietitian, and the psychiatrist.

I was usually the one setting up the appointments, getting the insurance information, doing dietary research, keeping track of the paperwork, and taking time off so I can be at all the appointments.

The process ended after the second meeting with the psychiatrist, after being told some depression issues that they feel could hinder her success after surgery.  She would have to go to counseling for a while, and she didn’t and still doesn’t want to reopen childhood wounds.

Understandable, but she is also physically miserable.  She is over 300 lbs, has chronic pain, has a very hard time walking, has diabetes and severe stomach pain.

She says she doesn’t want to be fat anymore.

She is also a smoker, still, and most of her diet consists of carbs, with a good percentage of that being sugar.

If she wants to lose weight, or at the very least feel healthier, SHE has to do the work.

And she has to MOTIVATE HERSELF to do the work.

Nagging only pisses her off.

Besides, motivation and doing something just to stop the incessant nagging are NOT the same thing.

After all, I do things I DON’T WANT TO DO (and don’t think I should do) just to stop the incessant nagging.

 

I could have followed my normal pattern.  Denise wants something, and I make it happen.

However, I can’t make her bariatric surgery a success.

Denise has to make it a success.

 

 

She must want this surgery more than I do.

I can’t do that for her.

I can’t follow my normal pattern where I work my ass off to get Denise what she wants.

I realized that, and I drew the line.

Regardless of if Denise has the surgery or not, she is the one that has to decide that she is going to be healthier.

She has to determine how she is going to stop smoking.

She has to determine if she is going to cut down on sweets and start eating healthier.

She has to determine how she is going to handle her depression and feel better about herself.

I can’t do that for her.

She decides her destiny by what she chooses to do.  She has to choose the healthy actions in order to be healthier.

I can’t do that for her.

I can only do that for me.

I have taken online courses, read numerous blogs and articles about healthy eating and living.

I am cutting out sweets and a lot of sugar.  I am making things from scratch and using fresher ingredients for both what I eat and what I use on my body.   I am opting to eat as few processed foods as possible.

Denise is seeing that I am not eating the same things she is.  She knows I am buying better food for myself.

However, she refuses to eat what she considers “crap”, which means she will usually only eat the tried and true meals I cook that we know she likes.

Most of the time, that means unhealthy, carb and processed filled meals.  Papaya salad is one of the healthy exceptions, though.

In the meantime, even after only a few weeks of eating differently, I feel better.  Even without giving up my daily alcoholic beverage.

And if our unreliable scale on our unlevel floors is correct, I’m losing weight.

I’ve gained almost 40 lbs since we’ve been together.

That’s without ever having kids.

While I don’t think fat is necessarily bad–I don’t like having big boobs and a big stomach, so I’d like to lose those at least.

Mostly, though, I want to lose the fatigue and feel better.

While I’m pretty active because I have over 30 animals to care for (including barnyard animals), I still need to be more active.

I don’t make the recommended 10K steps per day, so I can do some more walking.

And so can my dog.

So for now, I am getting ME healthier.

And maybe Denise will follow suit.

After all, if she decides she is going to take action without the nagging , then it means she wants herself to be healthier more than I want her to be healthy.

And that’s the only way she is going to get healthier.

Fighting Myself or Why I Can’t Write

origin_2965585644“We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.
Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”  from “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

I haven’t written much in the past 20 years, and I have been claiming that time is the fall guy.  Sure I’m busy, and having an extremely demanding, and disabled, partner that I care for does not help–not to mention caring for an average of 30+ animals for over a decade while holding down a full time job (with mandatory overtime) and running an animals rescue along with the normal daily duties of a household on a 2 acre hobby farm.  That alone is exhausting.

But I want to write.  I love to write.  Even if a post is very difficult for me takes weeks to complete, like this one.  During the past 20 years writing has only been periodic.  This past January I decided it was time to be a real blogger and blogged most days on at least one of my blogs and then stopped–I got busy and now I’m back to occasional posting.  In April, I participated in CampNaNoWriMo–goal was 10K words of a new novel, I got 2K.  Again, I was “too busy” to write daily.  However, last month I did truly have other much more pressing needs on my time, so I’m still patting myself on the back for getting 2K words of fiction written withing just a number of hours.  After all, I haven’t actually forayed into creating writing for almost 2 decades when I tried poetry and a short story or two.  But in the past, I get on a writing spurt and then stop writing for months or even years.

I do know now that there’s a lot more to it than time.  I hear from other bloggers, self help gurus, and many others that if something really is important to you, then you make the time.  If you aren’t doing something, there’s more reasons than just not having the time.

I’m finally admitting to myself that old cliche is true.

I procrastinate.  I am lazy but also exhausted.  I don’t have the confidence to share with my partner, so I write without telling her what I’m doing.  And I worry about money, constantly.  I have a million things on my mind, along with a million things to do, and am surrounded by negativity.

Mostly, though, I’ve been fighting who I am.  Trying to change myself (or at least give the appearance) to please my partner, or at least to avoid starting fights with her.

When I met my partner almost 20 years ago, I was just starting my journey to be me, show my true self to the outside world.  I was a shy person and wanted to please others, even if I didn’t believe it what they believed.  I hated that.  I hated that I was pretending  I was breaking away from the LDS Church as well, a church I joined with my mom mainly because she joined and most everyone around us was Mormon after my family moved to Utah.  It wasn’t because I believed in religion, but I felt guilty if I didn’t try and believe.  Others said it was true and that you were a “good” person if you had a religion, so I thought it was necessary if you really were a good person.  However, I strongly disagreed with the prejudices of both the people and the religion.  I have a progressive and liberal mind while still holding to the belief of self sufficiency.  Religion was a back and forth struggle for me that I had just broken from when I met her.

Denise seemed to be willing to let me be myself, and even though conversations proved otherwise, I naively thought that lesbians, especially non-white lesbians, would open minded.  My eyes opened after I moved in with her.  She was quick to anger if things weren’t her way.  And with all her talk about discrimination and prejudice, she hated specific groups of people–even with her ethnic diverse background.  I was, and still am, more opened minded than her.  I started trying to do things her way, doing most things she told me to do, and staying silent if she said something I couldn’t verbally agree with.  And she loved to spend money that she did not have, and then be angry that we were poor.

As a result, I learned to revert back to keeping my thoughts and ideas to myself.  I reverted back to pretending or keeping my mouth shut.  Only, I was no longer pretending so I’d be looked at as a good person.  I pretended so I wouldn’t be starting fights with my partner.  I pretended so that I could keep the peace.  If I couldn’t pretend to be with her on a topic, I kept my mouth shut.  I’m working to rectify that, but it’s hard when you have to do it while walking on eggshells.  This made me a bad person, particularly because I had also done some very bad things financially in the past so she can have what she wanted.

As a result, I feel guilty about it all.

For so long I have wanted to express myself, but I feel guilt.  Guilt because I am not living my beliefs, and guilt that I would be writing against my partner.  I used to journal and write letters about my opinions and what I believed in, but now I feel like a fraud if I do that.  How can I write about something when I’m pretending to do or believe the opposite?  How can I write about self sufficiency when we foolishly spend all our money and our house makes us look like aspiring hoarders?  How can I write about responsibility when we constantly bring in more animals in our household than we can realistically support and, again, spend money foolishly?  How can I write about how being positive and lifting others up enriches our lives when I constantly hear is hateful speech and how everyone else is stupid?

I feel inadequate.

Besides my partner, whether inadvertently or not, making me feel like I can’t do anything right, I also feel inadequate because I didn’t have a hard life.  Sure, my family is dysfunctional and my parents were (and are) selfish people and insufficient at parenting, but I was still safe at home.  I didn’t have a traumatic childhood and my early adult life was pretty uneventful.  Typical suburban white upbringing.  The characters in the stories I think up, my heros, though, have overcome troubled and traumatic lives.  They have lived in and traveled to cities I’ve never been.  Can I really write stories about things I haven’t experienced?  Going back to guilt, do I have the right to create characters that are taking others’ painful expderiences and hardships and not my own?

I am overwhelmed

With everything that’s always going on, and having to deal with the the scenarios I’ve written about here–I’m overwhelmed.  I’ve been overwhelmed since I moved in with my partner and there’s no sign of any responsibilities lifting.  While money troubles may partially lift from time to time, we are usually in severe financial trouble.  Our house and yard is also a mess, a constant reminder that I am not keeping up with my “duties.”  Our house, garage, and barn is full of “stuff”, mostly stuff my partner has wanted and I’m supposed to take care of.  I cannot look anywhere without a reminder of bills we can’t pay or something I’m supposed to do but haven’t.

I’m out of touch

I stopped reading and growing.  I was only learning about animal rescue related stuff or how to grow/market a non profit.  I gave up keeping up on issues I cared about because my partner and our animal rescue consume all my time.  No more reading feminist works, LGBT issues, or keeping up on alternative politics and religions, or even just enjoying a new book or mind bending movie that I was interested in.  I also gave up on vegetarianism because it just became too difficult with my partner being a meat eater and a very picky eater at that.

Taking baby steps.

So, 2015 arrived, I had enough of life as it is.  Giving my life up for what?  Nothing?  I had potential for many things before I met my partner, and I know I could have also made a financially secure life while pursuing my dreams had I stayed alone.  But since that isn’t my life, then I just needed to live for the life I wanted.

I don’t know yet if I am going to stay where I’m at or not.  Despite being disabled, my partner has a lot of abilities and can probably manage on her own, but allows herself to use the word “can’t” far too much.  I can’t change that.  She’s used that since I first moved in with her, before she even became disabled.  However, I am not allowed to use the word “can’t.”  That has made me stronger and able to do more things, but I’m now at an impasse.  No matter what I keep trying to convince myself, I keep coming to the conclusion that life will stay as it is if I chose to stay with my partner.  Despite the fact that she says she wants to be a different person and that she follows Buddha, etc, she has not shown any real willingness to change enough to give me a break, to not be constantly demanding of me and let me be me.

So for now, I just write when I can and wonder what I’m going to do from here and how I’m going to get out without feeling guilty for deserting a disabled partner and the animals.  Been wanting my own tiny house on wheels, so maybe I’ll do that and still live on my property.  That probably won’t been seen as acceptable, but it would be a new start for me.  I hope.

What I Learned from my (former) Mormon life

origin_6416013415I currently do not practice any religion or spiritual practice, although I do have an interest in some non-Christian religions.  I was not born into any religion and did not go to any church on a regular basis until my family moved to Utah when I was 10.  My dad never believed in religion and my mom was a follower, and I followed my mom into religion.  We both had guilt complexes and somehow been let to believe you were bad if you weren’t part of a religion, so we joined the Mormon church because everyone else was Mormon.

Eventually, I “grew out” of my beliefs, but I didn’t become bitter toward them as many do.  I’m not a Mormon hater, but I have current and former friends that are.  They either have Mormon spouses or they live/have lived in Utah.  With that said, I do hate the intolerant views many Mormon’s have of “non-members” and treat the Mormon church as an exclusive club where anyone that’s not a part is not a worthy member of society.  However, that’s a human flaw that many humans have with their personal beliefs, no matter what that belief is.  Christian or not, religious or not, democrat or republican or not, liberal or conservative, etc.  While the Mormon church does teach that it’s the one and only “true” church and only they are right, they still teach that they should “love one another”, just as Jesus did.  Just a good amount of church goers just see the fact that they are following the one true religion and want everything in their world to conform to that one true religion, which has made the Utah political climate what it is.  But that is (maybe) a story for another time.

With digressions aside, there are some solid truths and values that I still hold to today;  universal values that I personally believe make people better, happier, and make the world a better place if they are followed.  These are:

1.  Be responsible for yourself.  Do what you can on your own.  Ask for help when you need it, but if you ALWAYS need help with the same things, maybe you need to rethink what you are doing.  Pay your bills.  If you can’t, ask for help, but if you can’t make it without constant financial help, then rethink what you are spending your money on.  If it’s too much debt, reduce that debt.  Get rid of what you don’t need.  Don’t blame others for ALL your problems, and only blame them if you have no control.  But still determine what you can do to solve your problems, regardless of fault or blame.

2.  Be prepared.  Keep a food supply and other necessities “just in case”.  Also keep a healthy savings account for unexpected job loss, expenses, etc.  Don’t constantly live in excess and constantly whine about always living on the edge and that you can lose everything at the drop of a hat.

3.  Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.  If you don’t want people to think you are pathetic, stupid, or are bad, don’t treat everyone else like they are losers if they don’t do everything you think they should be doing.  If you want them to respect you, respect them.  If you want them to treat you kindly, treat them kindly.  This includes in private.  Don’t bad mouth others behind their back if you don’t want the same. If you want people to appreciate you, then truly appreciate them.  No guarantee that you will be treated as you want, BUT at least you know that you are being fair and unprejudiced.  And after all, you can only control yourself, and filling yourself with hate/dislike/disgust for those that are not like you ends up poisoning YOU.  And when that happens, does it actually matter what type of people “they” are if you, yourself is poisoned?

4.  Help others, after you have taken care of yourself.  It is very difficult to help others when you need help, and I’ve learned that the hard way.  In my current relationship life, we spent every resource (monetary and otherwise) before we had it, and still proceeded to have our own animal rescue against my better judgement considering we didn’t have outside support.  We still can’t support ourselves and the rescue properly and always have to beg for volunteers and monetary help.  It’s my belief you have to practice 1-3 before this step is affective.  I was convinced that this belief was wrong.  Or rather, I just gave up trying to explain why this belief is right and necessary because my partner is convinced that I am always wrong.  And here we are, on the verge of losing everything at any moment because we can’t keep our heads above water.

My mantra:  be yourself and take care of yourself.  A mantra I’m working to once again have in my life.
photo credit: -Reji via photopin cc

Desire for the Simple Life: A retrospective. Part 2: Life as an overwhelmed caregiver

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My work to have a simple life all but vanished when I met and started living with my partner.  She had seemed as independent as I was, and I was under the impression that she wasn’t materialistic and was fiscally responsible.  Unfortunately, due to a rough childhood, her feeling inadequate and incapable about many things, and that having “things” seemed to make her secure, our living experience turned out a lot different than I expected and derailed my plans for a simpler life, plans to be a writer, and totally altered what I expected out of relationships.  My later duties as a caregiver were not the problem, and in different circumstances I would not have had the same personal issues with being a caregiver to a disabled partner.  I have found that I am a nurturer, and given the right circumstances I am a good caregiver.  I am not, however, good at being overwhelmed, particularly when it’s unnecessary.

So, I met my partner the end of 1995 and moved in just over a month later, as she was expecting to be sent over the road with her job and her cats need taken care of when she would be gone.  Since it would be an across the town bus-ride for me every day anyway, seemed it would be easier if I just lived there.  I moved in, and she ended up not going over the road (yet, at least).  At that time, she was in decent health, aside from some heart concerns, and was fully mobile.  However, any action she or I said we wanted to do (i.e., shared our dreams or comment on things we wanted to do in the future) somehow became my responsibility to do RIGHT NOW, and me agreeing to her ideas meant I was volunteering to do them, plus I needed to be responsible of carrying out my dreams.  Either I had the knowledge or experience that she didn’t have (desipite her being older and always bragging about all she’s done in her life), could figure out how to do it faster than her, or she just didn’t want to do something so i should do it and I was a loser and would hurt her feelings if I said no.  I was  going to school, working part time, trying to study & do homework, became responsible for taking care of her pets, for cooking, for taking care of the apartment, taking our new dog to training, AND was responsible for making sure I got the ball rolling on anything else we wanted to do in life.  Yeah, just a bit overwhelming.  Several months later she did get a truck driving job and was injured less than a year later.  Physical therapy was too hard after knee surgery and she later developed a bad reaction to chemicals and meds that shut down her system, and eventually she became totally and permanently disabled.  Since our live-in relationship started with me being responsible for everything, there really wasn’t a change other than the little help my partner felt capable of doing before became non-existent because she was “disabled.”  That didn’t decrease all the things she wanted to have done, though, so what I though was overwhelming before became inconceivably overwhelming.  And I was made to feel beyond inadequate when asking for help and saying I was way overwhelmed, that there was no reason for me to feel that way.

On top of that, having to go out of town to visit her friends in another state or going shopping for hours on end where we would fill up the car with stuff we “had” to have has led to a life of clutter and financial disasters.  When I moved in, I made just enough to cover my expenses as a student and planned to work full time starting in the summer because I hated not being able to put money into savings and was anal about being financially responsible.  Turned out she couldn’t afford her apartment, had trouble keeping up on car repairs, etc.  Became worse when I moved in, and she would get quite upset if I tried to claim we couldn’t afford bills if we spent all the money we were spending and then spending extra on car repairs that may or may not be needed.  I had excellent credit at the time, so I ended up maxing out the $3,000 credit card that used to have a zero balance and got credit anywhere that would allow it.  I hated it and it made my stomach churn, but what I hated worse was being yelled at and accused of being wrong.  I learned to deal with being financially overwhelmed.  I’ve always hated it, but learned to deal with it.

And the “stuff” kept piling up.  She had a one-bedroom apartment, sparely furnished when I moved in.  All of my own belongings fit into a mini-van.  Less than 6 months later, when we moved from that apartment, we had a large U-haul full of stuff, we needed the 2-3 bedroom model.  And as the months, years, and decades pass, our “stuff” multiplies.  We have a couple bedrooms that are just full of stuff, along with lots of stuff in the garage and in part of our barn.  And we have lots of cats from first working with “rescues” that disbanded, and then later running our own.  We have a few other barnyard animals and 1-2 dogs at a time, but we always have a lot of cats.  So, I’ve been overwhelmed with a houseful of clutter and cats.  And cured me of thinking that I’m a cat person.  Also cured me of caring for physical objects.  The internet and my digital devices are important to me–I can store my music and books and share ideas with like-minded people.  Plus, they can’t get shredded by the cats like my long-ago cherished vinyl collection.  And they are portable and easy to move.  My job will move with me, too.  Just need  broadband internet and I’m good to go.

With all this going on, I had all but forgotten my prior dreams of living simple.  I’d have a flashback here and there, but after watching a documentary about people building their dream tiny houses, it reminded me of what I used to want, which is what I still want:  a simple life to enjoy what I like and have relationships with people I can related and express myself to.  Currently I’m just trying to figure out how to accomplish that.  I am still with my partner, and I still care for her a lot (not sure if I can call it love yet), and I still have many animals to care for, so while I have been just wanting to pack it all in and go, I can’t leave my responsibilities.  So, I’m just trying to work out how to bring that simple life to fruition.

photo credit: Monch_18 via photopin cc

Desire for the Simple Life: A retrospective. Part 1 of . . . .

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When I was young, I thought I wanted big city life.  I was 10 when my family left San Jose for Utah, and I fondly remember the few trips my mom had made with us to San Francisco, and Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown are still vague, nostalgic memories.  When I was young I had my mom’s desire to be shopping all the time.  Then after moving to the suburbs of a small-ish town in “Happy Valley” Utah where “everyone” was Mormon (me and my mom became ones too), I felt isolated, unable to go to the art house movies I wanted to see or to find some of the alternative books I wanted to read, or even go to concerts (wasn’t into the squeaky clean acts that were allowed to play at neighboring BYU).  These were the days before the internet.  I dreamed of living in the “big” city of Salt Lake.

I did make it to Salt Lake City after high school in the late ’80’s, and lived where I wanted to close to downtown and the historic “Avenues”.  I became a cult movie connoisseur with weekly showings of Rocky Horror in the basement cinema called the Blue Mouse and becoming exposed to Alejandro Jodorowsky with Santa Sangre at Cinema In Your Face.  I was able to get Anais Nin’s books from the library (not just the cheap porn compilations she wrote to get by, ironically her only books available in Happy Valley bookstores).  I went to concerts in seedy clubs and small outdoor venues.  I lived simply, without a lot of belongings because I wanted to enjoy my interests and I wanted to learn but still be financially secure (my father paid for my housing and tuition while I attended college, but I made sure everything else I could afford with my jobs).  I disliked the suburbs and preferred the uniqueness of the downtown Salt Lake City area.  I had a black and white TV, that I didn’t watch much, and did not own a car.  I loved public transportation and our local community radio with volunteer djs that played their own music.  I guess you could say I was a gothic hippie.

Then something happened.  A high school friend, who also dreamed of living in big cities, asked me to move with her to southern California.  Her aunt lived there and she was going to live with her aunt and family at first, and if I came down we would be able to afford a place together.  I had savings, so I moved, we got a tiny apartment in an old San Clemente hotel, and after a job with a failed business I eventually landed a secretary job in Laguna Beach–the haven for GLBT and artists alike in conservative Orange County.  I loved the quaintness of the buildings in both downtown San Clemente and in Laguna Beach, but I still felt isolated like I did during my junior high and high school years in Utah County.  All the concerts I wanted to see were in Los Angeles at big venues (went to a few and was quite disapointed), and there were no cult theaters.  Reading and writing were my outlet.  Occasionally we’d go to San Diego, Knotts Berry Farm or Disneyland to escape our mundane every day lives.  I also went back to Mormonism because my friend was a devout Mormon, which did not allow me to grow or find myself, as I was trying too hard to be a good Mormon girl but still was a free thinker.  All my friends were Mormon, which left me with no one but pen pals and my journal to express my real thoughts.  We later moved to a big apartment complex further north in Orange County, but pretty much the same experience, and the LA Riots seemed to spark something in us.  We didn’t want to be there.  For me, driving for hours on end and NOT leaving any city was too much.  It just seems unnatural, even today, especially that suburbia is just growing and growing.  When the LA Riots started, the only thing on network TV was coverage of the riots (no, I still did not have cable TV then), except for on PBS.  They continued their regular programming, which included an hour long documentary on families living in the Alaskan bush/outback.  Even though self sufficiency and disaster preparation was one of the teaching of the Mormons, this whole concept of living simply and off the land was new to me.  I fell in love with the concept.  I wanted to move to Alaska and be like them.

From my profile, you know that I am not in Alaska, and over 20 years later I am still not living the simple life.  I did lose that dream for a while, but it is back and I have been making baby steps to actually make simple living a reality, and this blog will be about all aspects of that journey, along with my past journeys.  It will range from stream of conscious posts about random thoughts, my favorite recipes, my chickens:  my thoughts, ideas, and favorite things.  Basically an outlet to help me (hopefully) regain the rest of my sanity.

Final thought for now.  If I ever live alone again, I want to live small–inspired by Tiny: A Story About Living Small, although I want to go small, not quite TINY.  But reminded me once again of that Alaskan documentary and my desire to live simple.
cabin photo credit: bestviewedlarge via photopin cc

FIRE

I love fire, as evidenced in pretty much all of my gravatars of late.  Honestly, I would set fire to my house if I could, but won’t–although I get yelled at all winter when manning our wood stove and being accused of potentially burning our house down.

Nonetheless, it was quite a treat to be able to go to a controlled burn where the local fire departments were burning down an old condemned house a few months back.  My partner got the more professional pictures that I can’t share, but I got some good ones on my phone that are actually pretty decent for a non-camera.  Here’s my favorite:

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