Monday, January 30, 2012

On feeling helpless

A lot of my self-image is built up around the things I can do with my hands.  I'm an artist in my spare time. Most of my work is very very small and detailed.  At work I carry things, I type, I organize things on shelves.  Hands hands hands.  I also communicate with the world via iPhone, which is lots of tiny little finger movements.

I have developed a repetitive stress injury.  My fingers are numb, and they shake.  My elbows hurt.  My forearms tingle.

I feel extremely helpless.

I'm attempting to prevent further damage by immobilizing my wrists.  

I was unaware of how much of my life is hanging below my elbows.

Am I good for anything if my hands don't work?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cats and camels.

Well, hey, Internet.  How's things?  It's been a long two weeks here in the cave.

The cat tried to die.
Here's His Filthiness at the e-vet, after he started pissing blood all over my house.  It was an exciting few days.  The regular vet did a belly ultrasound, and discovered the giant massive kidney infection that wasn't showing up in the urine cultures.  He also had me switch to a hypoallergenic food, and the diarrhea stopped OVERNIGHT.  
Two years of horrid, gawd-awful gut problems cured by switching food.  He's on antibiotics for the kidneys, and insulin for the diabetes, but otherwise, he's healthy as a horse.  I feel massively guilty that I was poisoning the poor guy for two years, but at least it's no longer a problem.  You want rabbits and peas, Old Man?  You can have all the rabbits and peas you can handle.  I'm just happy you're making poop-shaped poops again (sorry, but it's an exciting thing for me).  AND THEY'RE ALL IN THE CATBOX.  ALL OF THEM.  I'M SO EXCITED I COULD CRY.

I also went to Quartzsite for the yearly Quest For Odd Shit.

Want a rusty farm tool?  They have a few.

How about a raccoon's dick bone?  They have those, too.  And they're cheaper in bulk.  I can't figure out why you'd want one, and I'm the sort of person who collects coyote toe bones and bird feet.

I brought Trixie with me, because she needs to learn how to handle herself in public.  She was horrible for the first hour of every day, lunging and yanking and barking at other dogs.  After that, she was too exhausted to misbehave.  Somewhere around hour five of walking, she was desperate for a lap to sit in.  Even if it wasn't a real lap.


The Toaster-Transformer performed admirably.  The sleeping platform is comfortable, solid, and the car was probably the nicest hotel room in town.  Easy to pack up, too.  The Poodle guards her territory.

 On our way out of town, the dog and I paid our respects to Hi Jolly.  His name was actually Haiji Ali, and was a cameldriver from Syria who was hired by the US Army in the mid-1800s to set up a camel-freight herd in the American Southwest.  When the project was abandoned, he settled in Quartzsite.  His tomb, while not particularly Syrian, is still a nice little monument to one of the odder projects in US history.  There is a dominant camel theme running through the entire town to this day.  Although, no actual live camels, which I think is a shame.  I like camels.  They're ill-tempered and have pretty eyelashes.
Hi, Jolly.

As far as BatFit, I am slowly working on dancing more.  I just have a hard time dancing when I'm sober (unless you count bouncing around in the car while I'm driving, which is probably dangerous.  Scratch that, it IS dangerous, I heard Skrillex's "Bangarang" on a local station and about lost control of my car.  I like that track a little too much). I jot down my day in my halfassed little journal, but I record my food and activities with the LoseIt app on my phone.  And I'm working on my bad habit.

Bad habit?  Diet Pepsi.  GALLONS.  I'm trying to cut it down to one a day.

New habit?  Tea.  Black.  None of this penny-ante green tea BS.  I want it black, I want it strong, and I want it bitter.  Sugar?  NO.  Honey?  NO.  Cream?  A THOUSAND TIMES NO.  Earl Grey at home, Irish Breakfast at work.  My roommate, who is Syrian, is excited for this.  Apparently, large portions of Syrian Culture revolve around hot caffeinated beverages, and my reluctance to drink coffee has caused her consternation.  If you cut her, she bleeds coffee, but tea is almost as fun for her.  Our house is littered with teaspoons and cups.

I've also decided that I really do need to go back on meds for my ADD.  I took Dexedrine for a long time in my early 20s, and I was terribly productive.  It's a pain in the ass to get the meds, though, as they're apparently fun for everyone and have a habit of escaping into the recreational drug trade.  I need a triplicate scrip, which requires me to call my doctor once a month, pick up a physical piece of paper, drive it to the pharmacy, wait a day, drive back to the pharmacy, and pick up 30 days worth of linear thought in a bottle.  That's a lot of steps for someone who can't remember to take her laundry out of the washer and put it into the dryer.  College kids- STOP USING MY MEDS FOR FUN!  YOU'RE MAKING MY LIFE DIFFICULT!  I've been on a drug vacation since 2005ish, and my life has just devolved into a simmering pot of chaos.  NOTHING gets done.  Whole house is in shambles.  Starting to drop the ball at work.  I'm not super fond of some of the side effects (cottonmouth comes to mind), but I like the ability to finish what I start.  I'm calling the doc in the morning.

All right.  I've written a novel here.  Time to go back to sculpting (pics to come later).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Morton Salt Girl can go right to hell

When it rains, it pours.

The cat stayed in the vet hospital overnight.  The vet wanted to do lots of invasive, expensive things to try to find a cause for his chronic diarrhea.  I cried a lot in public in the last 24 hours.

My coworkers have been an absolute life saver, as they have covered my programs and checked up on me and generally have been angelic.  I am terribly grateful for my job, and the people who I spend my days with.

I sprung the cat from the hospital against the vet's recommendations.  I'm not letting you scope my cat's intestines, he's 12 and diabetic and crabby and it costs $1300 and it would only make him angry.  Let's switch his food to something hypoallergenic, and see what happens.  I'm just glad he's not pissing blood anymore.  Tomorrow, I will call the regular vet, and discuss what happened last night and today, and continue to press on.

As I was relating this whole wretched tale to my roommate (who is also a coworker, and who had made me soup because she figured I hadn't eaten), it occurred to me that this is all going to be useful experience for when my parents become decrepit and old and I have to take care of them.  I'm the "parent-caring-for" child, my brother is the "breeder."  He can finance it all, but he doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to deal with doctors, hospitals, chronic illnesses, or death.  I am much stonier and pricklier than my brother.  I have a great affinity for Deities of dying (the process, not necessarily the state of being dead- I respect Anubis well enough, but what's done is done).  Perhaps this is why I get sent the sick animals- I can handle the process.

I am going to go to Quartzite this weekend, as planned (if the cat doesn't begin dying again), and the cat is going to spend the weekend at my mother's house.  My mother has powerful cat-fu, and an uncanny feel for the Right Thing To Do At This Very Moment.  I am going to take the dog, which will be exhausting and limiting and good for both of us.  She will get used to crowds and other dogs and not being in charge, and I will be the Dog Anchor for 36 hours.s

Incidentally, do you know where the "when it rains, it pours" tagline came from?  Morton Salt has an anti-clumping agent.  When regular salt gets damp (such as when the humidity goes up during a rainstorm), it clumps and won't come out of the little spout on the box.  Morton's will still pour during a rainstorm.


My cat started peeing blood last night at 8:30. He's at the vet hospital now. They won't be able to tell me anything until 9:00 this morning. I hope he's screwed up on painkillers, I don't want him in pain.

I'm in pain, but it can't be helped by painkillers. I hate this.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Vet

I took Mister Stinkyass to the vet today.  I adore my vet.  He knows his business, overfeeds his own Pug even though he knows he shouldn't (he's one of us!), and has a heart of gold.  He's got ADHD, a New York accent, and has seen every animal of mine minus the rats.

Gypsy peed in the crate on the way over.  He usually shits himself, so I counted that as a win.

Blood, urine, and fecal samples were taken.

Many bad poop jokes were thrown about.

"We're going to rectify this situation."

"We need to eliminate whatever's triggering this."

So it was good times.

As they were palpating his gut, he lost control of himself.  So that was a treat.  They washed him off, but that also meant that they couldn't shave his hind end for me.  Oh well, I can have Mom bring the clippers over for a home haircut.

We're taking antibiotics and Flagyl, and possibly switching foods.  This is in addition to his usual insulin shots.  The funny walk is not arthritis, it's diabetic neuropathy.  At least it doesn't hurt.

Cost me an arm and a leg.

Now the dog is scratching her ear.  Dammit, dog, it is not your turn for this.  No ear infections!  I am tapped out for vet money this month!

In lighter news, I am almost done with the preparations to go to Quartzite.  The sleeping platform is built, the window shades are 90% done, the gear boxes are ready, and the air mattress is patched and loaded with batteries.  I have affixed a Transformers decal to the side window of my Element, because it is now a snazzy little rolling tent.  It's a Decepticon logo- the Autobot logo is less aesthetically pleasing.  Bad guys usually have better logos.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My semi-annual nervous breakdown

Let me preface this by stating that I don't generally have emotions.  I am very neutral, 99% of the time.  I can take a lot of bullshit.  I'm very good at it.  I just keep plodding along, firm in the belief that things will be okay, because there is no other way for things to be.

There is frank discussion of animal waste in this story.  If you have a delicate stomach, stop reading now.

Today began my semi-annual nervous breakdown.

I was sick yesterday.  The plague rat children that I work with finally got me.  Headache, sinuses, general crappy feeling.  I decided to cure this by renting a flick and lying on my couch like a great large tuber, gorked out of my skull on Benadryl and Sudafed (all my illnesses come with an allergy component, lucky me!).

My cat is old, and sickly, and had ambled into the garage to use the box.  He had received a new cat bed thingy earlier in the day, for which he was grateful, as it warms his old crickety bones.

The dog, unhappy with the cat's new bed, decided to rip it off the chair and began shaking it violently.  HOW DARE HE HAVE A CAT BED HOW DARE YOU CONSIDER ANY CREATURE OTHER THAN THE DOG?

I got up and smacked the dog as fast as I could, so she would understand what I was smacking her for.  Before anyone thinks I'm an ogre for smacking the dog, realize that she has a very thick skull, a strong "I wanna be the alpha" streak, and no amount of lovey-praise has ever worked to correct certain behaviors with her.  The only thing that works is for me to pick her up by the skin and scare the hell out of her.  She's a 50 pound dog, she can handle it.  I am the big dog in this house.  Sometimes she needs reminding.

Anyway.  This particular behavior correction didn't get my point across.  I'll blame the Benadryl.  I retreated to my couch, and continued to watch my movie.  I did not realize that the dog had climbed into the chair (and onto the new cat bed).

The cat ambled back in, and made his way towards me for a friendly head scritch.

The dog leapt down from the chair and snarled and snapped at the cat.

I'm not sure I moved fast enough for her to really connect her behavior to my reaction, but I was a volcano of rage at this point.  I picked her up by her skin and threw her off the chair, and kicked her once in the ass for good measure.  She hid behind another couch for the rest of the night, and the cat slept in his bed.

This morning, I awoke, still sick, to the dog begging to be let out of the bedroom.  I let her out and shut the door, and clambered back into bed.  She pushed her way back in, leaving the door open.  We do not leave doors open in this house, because the cat will pee in the bedroom if given the chance.  I heard the cat yowling as he came down the hall to see where we all were.  The dog attacked and chased him out of the room twice before I could get myself up.  I stumbled into the bathroom to pee, and heard the cat in the bedroom.  I heard the dog in the doorway, preventing his exit.  I heard him start to piss on my carpet.

At this point, I broke down in tears.  I managed to chase him out of the bedroom mid-pee, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but I was still angry.  As I came down the hall, I was greeted with a terribly unpleasant cat-shit smell eminating from the garage.  He had decided to forgo the box altogether, and had left a puddle of shit a few feet away from it.  Yes, puddle.  We're seeing the vet Monday.

My house stinks.  My cat is peeing on carpets again, my dog is an aggressive asshole, and I have yet to finish unpacking from when I moved in a year ago.  My house is full of things that I cannot deal with because they are not mine.  I am drowning in paper and junk mail and flyers left on my fucking porch.  I cannot use my storage areas because they are full of other people's shit.  I am sick and tired and my laundry's not folded and I am burnt out and this is my first day not at the office in over a month and I can't do it anymore.

I shut the cat outside with food and water.  I took the dog to my mother's house, so that Mom could put the fear in the dog.  My mother is the Big Dog.  She has the Voice.  She does not have to physically assault the dog.

I went for Chinese food.  I made blackout panels for my car windows, so that I can go camping in it next weekend.  I went to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (the whole movie is an exercise in stillness).  I took the dog home.  She is silent and meek on the couch beside me.  The cat is sleeping on his cat bed and purring.  The house still stinks, but I can call the 123-Odor-Free guy in the morning.  Mom is coming over to help me deal with some of the stuff in this house.  My family recognizes that I am fantastsically fragile right now.

I know things will be okay, but I am still somewhat hysterical.  Perhaps not having feelings for months at a time causes them to back up and overflow at inopportune times.

Maybe things will be okay in the morning.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Well, we all got through December.  I survived Winter Camp, as did all of my students, with very few tantrums from them, and only one or two from me.  I pissed off a kindergartener something fierce (I do not ascribe to the "I touched it once, it's mine forever" mindset of most 5-year-olds, and he was ANGRY WITH ME FOR NOT ACKNOWLEDGING HIS OWNERSHIP OF THE STICK!).  A few kids fell in the pond, but it's all good, because it was sunny and 72 the whole time.
Rock-stacking proved popular for about 45 minutes one day.  I get paid to stack rocks with kids.

I began the BatFit challenge, skipping journaling in favor of my three-sentence daily recap notes and the LoseIt app on my phone, and switching out dancing for doing-a-workout-video-by-a-dancer.  It was embarrassingly punishing, and I am quite sure that I will not be able to cough tomorrow, or possibly brush my teeth.  It's somewhat hard to type right now, as my shoulder muscles are shaking a little.  Fortunately, I only did the Abs workout and the ArmsBackShoulders workout, and so tomorrow I can do LegsButt and StretchingFlexibility without incurring further damage.

I replaced the wintery garlands on my precious bike with the springtime wisterias, so I can ride her to work tomorrow.  It is 80 degrees out, and it feels dirty leaving her in the garage when it's pretty and I don't have any errands to run during work hours.
My beautiful Ghost, who I have been calling Spectra von der Geist as of late, because I am quite taken with Monster High, and she is somewhat green.

I ate horribly today, partially because of boredom and partially because of a creeping feeling of panic over various projects that are time-sensitive and very closely spaced.  I have raging ADD, and I am concerned that I will procrastinate in order to build up adrenaline, but cut it too close and drop the ball.  If I was a more reasonable person, I would just find a doctor and go back on the ADD meds, and get everything done like a normal person, but I'm procrastinating on that one, too.  I am hoping that my soon-to-be-installed Invisaligns will help me curb this grazing tendency.  Can't eat with the braces in, and it's a pain to have to brush and floss after EVERYTHING.  Laziness might pay off.

Seriously, arms are kind of shaky.  I was aware that I was out of shape, but daaaaaamn.

In a week and a half I shall go to Quartzite, AZ, for the yearly Quest for Rocks and Strange Objects.  Quartzite is a blip on the 10, with very few permanent buildings and a strange fetish for geology and packrattery.  It is a tradition to go on MLK weekend, wander around in the desert, buy things from the odd desert people, and then return home with the hoard of treasures that nobody else understands.
A chunk of black tourmaline the size of my fist for five bucks?
Mismatched antique silverware?
Rusty farm tools?
Squash blossom jewelry?
Glass fishing floats?
I don't care what your sky looks like, Arizona does it better.

Plus, I get to test out my new toy, a sleeping platform for my car. The Roommate's Boyfriend gave me a large white Decepticon sticker for Giftmas, which I can now affix to my window because it is, indeed, a Transformer.  One minute it's a kiwi green Honda Element, the next it's a very small metal hotel room with limited amenities and no bathroom!  MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE.
This photo makes precisely zero sense unless you've seen an Element sleeping platform before.  The panel that covers the reclined driver's seat is not in there yet.  This is the view from the tailgate.

Holy crap, it's almost midnight.  I need to eat some Advil and conk out.  I guess I'm not going to read another chapter of "American Gods" tonight, after all.  Whoops!