12/30/2013

Pet deaths

Last night, I carried the lifeless body of one my new cats upstairs from the basement, where he had gone to die. I'm not sure what happened to Cow, a big white cat I've had since late August when I agreed to look after him and a little black kitten for a short time. That short time turned into permanent companionship, although that's now turned out to be short, too.

The kitten is now almost full-grown, and she's not sure what's going on. She's been extra clingy with me, and I'm pondering converting her to an indoor cat so as not to tempt fate.

Two days ago, both of them sat with me as I wrote here in this place I've carved out as my office within my home. I'm right next to their food. 

Well, her food now, I guess.

This is the second of my pets that has died this year. My dog Billy died in September after a quick illness ravaged his body, which was at least 12 years old. I miss him terribly, and Cow's death is making me feel the freshness of that wound all over again.

Karen, the black cat, is currently sitting in Cow's old perch near the stove. That's the only place in my house where the mice visit. It's winter, and they're searching for food and shelter. She knows this, and is watching for them.

A friend of mine comforted me today by saying that cats are mysterious creatures. Outdoor cats especially. They go out into the world and try to make it their own. In that way, this death is different from that of Billy, who died of old age. He had that old age because he was protected from the outdoors. He was only supposed to go out under my supervision, though he routinely escaped the house and had his adventures. Billy must have gone on a hundred quests out there in the past five years. He had that way about him, and he always came back.

Cow did, too, and Cow came back to die yesterday. My downstairs tenant came upstairs around 8:30 last night to say that he didn't think the cat was doing well. I went downstairs a few minutes later, and carried him upstairs. I didn't know it yet, but he was dead. I'll now never forget the sensation of picking up a creature I cared about feeling so light and lifeless. I laid him on the couch upstairs, and thought he was still alive. The thought of his death was so foreign to me, because I just got him.

I won't be writing any eulogies about his long life, but I can say that he was here for me during this past week, a week that was a journey through sadness and anxiety. His presence, as well as Karen's, kept me feeling needed at a time when I felt so alone. I thank him for that and wish his afterlife is a happy one. 

Karen is now staring at the clock, as if she's waiting for him to come home. She sniffed his body last night, but I don't know if his passing registered with her. She's staring at the clock, and then staring at me, as if I have an answer. 

I do.

Despite the possibility of loss and mourning, I am thinking of getting a companion to be with her. At this point I don't know when or how this will occur, but I do know that I have room in my heart for them. I am not so jaded and shut-down that I can't accept love from these small animals who become so much of our lives.

I never wanted pets as an adult, but these three found me. 

And now Karen sits solemn on top of my kitchen sink, staring up at a clock she can not read. It just occurred to me that she sees the movement of the seconds hand. I don't know what's going through her mind, but I know curiosity when I see it.

I don't want it to kill her, and I want to try to protect her as best I can. She bonded with me more than Cow did, and her passing would devastate me. I live on a busy road, and there are so many predators out there looking for a chance to take her down. People will advise me to keep her indoors, but I also know her nature and I may be willing to continue taking the risk of letting her out. 

After all, I secretly condoned Billy's adventures, knowing that's what he wanted to do. I went looking for him every time he snuck out, and he always came back. 

Cow and Billy aren't coming back, but so many people in our lives don't come back. Either they die or they fade away from our consciousness. What's important is to remember them, all of them, and remember the role every creature plays in our lives. 

12/18/2013

A week from the day, two weeks from the night

It's a week until the day that more or less everyone celebrates, even if they don't literally believe that the son of the creator of the universe was born on that day. Something about the story of good will to all has more people thinking positive thoughts.

Careful readers might have detected that I've been ambivalent as this particular holiday season approaches, knowing that my children would not be here with me.

I've just put them to bed on the last night I will see them until New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, depending on how scheduling is going to work out.

"I want you both to know that I am not sad you will not be here. I am happy for you because you will be with family and that is important to me."

And that was not a lie. I am happy all of my children appear to have a rich life, participating in extended families. I am humbled by this, able to step back and see that people who I helped create have already moved on into a world that I do not take part in.

Isn't that so much of the world? I am struck by how few people I know despite having been around the sun forty times now.

For much of this year, I have been closed off to the idea that I could meet new people. I have regressed this year, and have spent most of this solar rotation keeping to myself. I fell in love with someone, despite having been warned early on by  her that there would be no reciprocation. I had been hopeful in some way to begin to feel like I could be part of a family again, but my hopes were not harbingers of happy days.

But I'm putting that behind me now, and I'm able to put into the same perspective in which I've put everything else. It always returns to me wanting to try to live a good life where negativity doesn't take hold and I'm able to make new connections.

It has been five years since the relationship that created these children ended, beginning a new chapter of my life that has been completely rewarding while harrowing at times. I feel that I am ready for something new to begin, even if that just means a new realization that it's okay to be alone, and it's okay to enjoy solitude.

But, of course, I will take some of the time off I have coming to me to try to meet new people. It's been a long time since I've done that, mostly because the kudzu of responsibility has engulfed me and I've not been able to craft an effective maintenance schedule.

So, coming soon. A fresh start, a new look, a better attitude and a renewed drive towards a positive life. In some cases, that's the most absurd choice of all. And the one worth taking.

We should all celebrate good will. All of the time. But even more or so in this week that coincides with time off for many people, but not for all.

Happy everything, everyone! 

12/08/2013

New Holiday: First Winter Storm

Now listen carefully.

There was some frozen precipitation on the ground earlier. For the past few days, many people have told us we were in for a terrible onslaught of electricity loss, bread loss at grocery stores, and wintry unpleasantness.

And, I bet you that many of us, in the back of our minds, welcomed this and decided we were going to take a little break from the normal today. I know I did. I jumped at the chance to have a sudden holiday from the normal routine.

So, why don't we find a way to enshrine this phenomenon as a holiday? I think floating holidays around the threat of inclement weather should be much more acceptable. People's fears of traveling are their own business, no matter where that fear came from.

I propose that we create in Virginia a special holiday on the occasion of the first storm where we all just decide it's okay to be relaxed about everything. We realize that the universe will occasionally throw up obstacles, and that many of these obstacles will be entirely in our own collective minds.

There doesn't even have to be actual precipitation for this holiday to work. It just needs to be expected, and then we all get a free pass if it doesn't materialize.

We're Southern. I need to crowd-source this and get feedback because I think we're all on to something here. Because, first winter storms cause us all to rethink ourselves out of the routine. Is that a bad thing? I think not. 

I want to know what you think! 

12/03/2013

Daydream Nation

My recent purchase from eBay showed up today. A four-LP deluxe edition of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. I originally bought this album on CD in 1990 having only heard Silver Rocket and Teenage Riot. The sound took me to new places in my imagination, and now these records will sit amongst all of the vinyl I've accumulated through my childhood and my Freecycle binges.

This one's special, though, because now I own a formative album on the first medium I was ever aware. There is something about vinyl that connects me to me childhood and my core self, and I'm so glad I finally have a record player again to experience this on a daily basis.

What I am listening to right now is not digitial. The sonic waves hitting my ear drums right now are the result of a physical connection between plastic and metal. To  me, this gives what I'm hearing more authenticity than an mp3 file or a YouTube video. I'm currently listening to Sonic Youth's cover of Neil Young's Computer Age, a track off of his Trans album. Sonic Youth's version that pays homage to a great song and steps it up a notch.

Before this was a cover of the Beatles "Within You Without You" as well as a cover of Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick" which Kim Gordon sold completely. They made these songs at the same time they made their own masterpiece. Daydream Nation will always be my favorite Sonic Youth album, because it feels like an aesthetic coming alive. Sonic Youth doesn't sound like anyone else, but they were influenced by everything that came before. This side of the fourth album is reminding me that they were well aware of who their influences were.

Fifteen feet behind me, a turntable is moving at a pace of 33 and a third revolutions per minute while a needle soaks up grooves and turns it into music that blasts out speakers I got through Freecyle.

Then, a demo version of Eric's Trip comes on, and I've never heard it before. It's so raw. Just him, an electric guitar, and the crackle of vinyl. A song I thought was effortless is stripped bare. The record skips, and it's real. This got pressed on vinyl as a document of what this song was to become. It sounds amateurish, but it's not because of course he intended it as a first pass. 

And now an alternative version of Kissability comes on, possibly a live one. I've not read the liner notes yet. But then a live version of Eric's Trip comes on, and you can hear all the pieces come together in a most perfect way, creating one of the best songs of my adolescence. The album version trumps it, of course, but it's fascinating to have a study playing through a system that I usually associate with cheesy albums and the classic rock albums I inherited through my body.

Listening to live tracks from Daydream Nation through a record player connected to my stereo, over 20 years later, is fueling me with something. I'm hearing Candle in a whole new light. Lyrics jump out at me different. The musical structure fills me with happiness.

When I was younger, I never thought I would get caught  up in nostalgia. I seem to have been wrong about many things.