Friday, November 6, 2009

Predictions and diagnosis....

Why, hello there old blog, I haven't written since June! I've had a lot on my plate. I had to move out of a house that I lived in for nearly 17 years... can you imagine? Does anyone out there know or remember what that feels like? It was a huge job, and although I had friends and loved ones around to help me, it was still huge. Emotionally and physically.
Last time I wrote it was about DJ being diagnosed with lung cancer. The vet said she would have 2 months at best. She is still here with me, 5 months later, although lately she's showing signs of a decline. She's lost a ton of weight and she's all skin and bones. She strains to breathe, and she sounds like she's filled with water on the inside. When she meows, its more like a sputter and some groans. She lets nearly everyone pet her now, even small children, which is sooooo not like her. On the other hand, she purrs and seems happy whenever you do pet her. Maybe she knows she will soon be with my mom. I don't know, but it worries and saddens me. Since she's a cat, she cannot speak to me to tell me if she is in pain or not. Her changed behavior makes me feel suspect. I watch her when I can and try to make her feel ok. She's still eating... but I am surprised at that. She looks bad.

I have been in this weird limbo, living with only part of my belongings in a home with some friends for the past few months, (the rest of my things in storage) and a marriage in this house that is trying to salvage, I just try to stay out of the way. I want this family to mend and I wouldn't mind moving along, it's hopeful to see them coming back together, especially with a 2 year old, but SB rents are horrific... and I hate moving. I've been looking and I don't see much out there that encourages me. Seems like anything I take will be a gigantic lifestyle change, and not for the better. I don't want to move until after the new year at least... I hope.

I worry a lot about having a sick pet on top of it all, especially one that is highly sensitive to changes, and one that I made a promise to care for. DJ means a lot to me, because she was my mom's favorite thing, and I want her to be safe and as comfortable as can be.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another broken link

Before my mom died, when she was very sick, I promised her I would take care of her cat, DJ. She loved this cat more than anything. My brother and I used to joke that she loved the cat more than she loved us. So the time came when DJ became my responsibility. DJ is neurotic in the literal sense. She's high strung and hisses and growls about 100 times a day. She was one of those pets who only loved her master, (and she is a pet only her master could love!). In the absence of my mother she has been thrown into a world of stress. She HATES my cat, (who is her half sister) and she only will begrudgingly let me pet her for a moment or two before she is done with me too. It has taken me a very long time to get her acclimated here.

My mother never had DJ spayed, so great was her love for this animal, she was dreadfully afraid of anything happening to her under the anesthesia (!!!). Naturally I had this done as soon as she became my cat. It was not a simple operation anymore because by this time DJ was about 11 years old. The vet found a golf ball sized tumor on one of her ovaries, the biggest one he'd ever seen, he said. It was just in time. I was hoping that after the surgery she would calm down and mellow out. Without the hormones coursing through her body and without going into heat every few months, she'd become calm and happy. Nope. She didn't change at all, her hair just got longer and thicker. She was still the same old head case of a cat. Neurotic to the core.

About a month ago she started to cough. It was a rough cough, and didn't go away, so this morning I finally got her to the vet. They examined her and took X-rays of her chest. The vet came back with the initial diagnosis of lung cancer. I was stunned.
Thank God my poor mama wasn't here to get that news, it would have killed her. She was so emotional when it came to the family pets. I am too, but she really loved this cat. DJ was her baby. Part of the family. I was just in shock. I expected a simple cold and some kitty antibiotics, and yet here was this nasty news. No. Not another thing. Not one more. They say God only gives you what you can handle, and if that is so, I wonder what He's doing to me because I just can't take anymore bad news. I can't. I didn't realize how much I cared for DJ. This rotten hissing unfortunate beast of a cat... and yet I love her. I love her because she was my mom's favorite thing. And now, in the face of losing her, I am reminded again how much my mom isn't here, she's not coming back and the things she loved and that touched her are slowly disappearing too. It's another broken link to the time when I could still talk to her, hug her, call out "mom". This news today knocked me down.
Poor DJ.
I'm hoping it will turn out to not be cancer, but it doesn't look good. If it is she will only have a couple of months at best. I will be so very sad to see her go. I hate the thought of it so much! And here it is, time for me to move out of my beloved home... there is a chance I'll be floating around for a month or two while I am in between houses. This is not a good scenario with an aging sick cat with cancer! I am so afraid of what the next few months will bring! What will I DO if I do not have a new home come August 1st????

Friday, May 15, 2009

All glued up

As some of you might know, I've lived in this same house for 17 years, on and off. It's home, a place where I put down roots. Two days ago I received notice that I will have to move out by August 1st. I was stunned. A notice to move is a bummer for most people, an annoyance, a pain in the ass, but it's monumental to me. A huge life change. Stability is a major theme in my life, and I've strived for it, fought for it, despite the odds I was dealt growing up. I've also enjoyed cheap rent for all these years, enabling me to save up for a down payment on my own house one day, but the prices in Santa Barbara have left me behind. It won't happen for me here unless I find a miracle, and now I face a double in rent at least.

Looking around the house I've noticed how much stuff can accumulate in 17 years, and I'm a packrat. I've got furniture, art supplies, art, records, clothing and knick-knacks enough to fill my own 3 bedroom house! I have a relationship with my stuff. I know I'm going to have to trim it down by nearly half when I leave. While I know this will be liberating, I am dreading it.
I've been thinking about these things for 3 days now.

Today in the shower I used the last of one of my mom's bottles of shampoo. When I cleared out her house after she died I took things home with me, things I could use, like her household items and some cherished photos and mementos. The rest I was forced to dispose of. It was difficult. Over the last year and a half the shampoo bottles have been in my shower. I use them sparingly, careful not to get to the end. The thought of using them up and throwing them away makes me unbelievably sad.
Maybe it's because it was hers and she used it, I still had some sort of link to her that wasn't gone yet. Her hands touched this bottle... so that means I cannot be too far from her in time, right? This is the same logic that applies when one balls up a piece of paper to throw in the wastebasket and they think, 'If this makes it in the basket he/she will love me...'. Who hasn't thought that way once or twice in their life? I do not want the time to pass when I had her in my life. I don't want her shampoo to be gone because she'll never give me anything again that her lovely hands touched. I want to be closer to that time, not further away. It is a faulty logic, but one I cannot shed.
Now I've got to go through all my stuff. Have a gargage sale. Sell off pieces of me. Shed that skin, that time. I know it will help me to move into the future, but what if I don't want to? What if I want to go back in time instead? It seems safer and happier back then. The last few years have proven that to me. Heading into the future doesn't seem like a lot of fun. When did that happen to me? I never used to think that way. I've lost far too much. Maybe that's why I hang on so tightly to my stuff. Well, the time has really come for me to let GO. I've spent time with friends who have lost parents, children, spouses, and they are doing well. They lifted me up and inspired me, but soon after I am left again with my own thoughts and they seem to go to a dark place.

If there is a such thing as energy flow, mine has been all glued up for some time. No in with the good (new), out with the bad (old). Nothing but sticky black grief, fear and regret. Nothing green can grow up and flower out of that kind of soil. I need to break it up. I know this move will help me do that, so why do I loathe the idea of it so much? I've got to change my thinking on this. My whole life is an open book right now. I should embrace it, but... God, I hope it gets easier somehow.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Cool website of the day:
Wonderful fun graffiti site.
These are great.
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And this one... HOLY SHIT!
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Happy birthday Mom.
Hey friends, I want to share some Christmas music with you. I'm a big fan of Kim Shattuck (from the Muffs) and she has a website with Christmas music podcasts that you can download and put on your iPod. Nice! This is definitely something I would do. I've been putting together Christmas mixes for years. So if you are one of those who can get into the Christmas spirit, then this is for you:

Visit Kim Shattuck's Blog!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

365 days

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my mother's death.

It still seems so surreal. Although a whole year has passed, I find that I am still in the grieving process. As the one year marker approached, I dreaded its' coming, as if somehow it would solidify the fact of her death even more, make it irreversible. Sometimes it feels as if a lot of time has passed, sometimes it feels like no time at all. She often shows up in my dreams, always alive.
I remember every second of the day that she died. I remember getting to the hospice in the morning and finding her in a state of severe and grave agitation. Just the night before she seemed fine. Sick, but not this close to death. Now her eyes were black and wide as saucers. She could barely speak. She was gasping wildly for air. They had to keep giving her sedatives to calm her down so she could find some semblance of relaxation, but it was impossible. I kneeled beside her bed and held her hand. I told her over and over how much I loved her. Her last words to me were "I love you". She rasped them out, pushing them like deep exhalations and I could see it took great effort. I wanted to be there with her, for her. Looking back now, I realize how beautiful it is for her last words to be "I love you".
The rest was awful for me, so no need to recount it here. Suffice it to say I've had a very difficult time dealing with it. There were (are) so many accompanying emotions to losing someone close to you, especially if you were their caretaker, such as I was with my mom. You feel pain, fear, anger, denial, shock, yearning, guilt, humiliation, disbelief and all of the above again and again, with emphasis and power. There have been times in the past year where I have even begun to doubt my own mental health. I have found through reading and grief counsel that this is all normal. I have found, also, that the grieving process is different for everyone and that it is entirely normal to still be grieving after a year has passed. No one is on a specific time-line. Your whole life changes when you lose someone very close to you.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for me to deal with throughout the grieving process was my apparent loss of faith. I became obsessed with death and the afterlife (or worse... a lack of one). I was forced to confront death, life and what it all means. I had to look deeper into the nature and purpose of life and what I came up with were a ton of questions, all confusing and scary, and with no concrete answers. What is the nature of that energy, that power, that consciousness which, when it was in that body, caused it to think, speak, move, love, feel and create? Now that it is gone, there is a mass of cells that will soon decompose, or as in her case be cremated. What then? What is life? What is its purpose? Before all of this happened my Christian faith comforted and carried me. I never thought much of those things. They all seemed too far away and I accepted with blind faith that when we die we would be with God. Now, I feel so far from God, and I wonder, to my horror, if God could be something we humans devise to make ourselves feel better. I have friends that believe this very firmly. I do not. Doubting God's existence feels horrible to me, like blasphemy, and then I feel guilty and bad for thinking these thoughts, so I pray, and find little or no comfort. Why?

A couple of weeks ago I was surprised to hear from an old boyfriend of mine. I had not seen him in 15 years or so. He lives in Japan. I had never expected to hear from him again, so it was quite a surprise. It was really wonderful to see him and I left our meeting with a feeling of hope and strength. He had lost a son in a horrible way and it broke my heart to hear his story. But he looked so well, so healthy and it seemed as if he was in a very good place, a very strong, solid frame of mind. Of course he had had more time to deal with his loss than I have, but still, I felt comfort and goodness in the fact that he was doing well and hope that I would be too. His parting words to me were advice to not take the holidays so hard. He reminded me that it was a man-made construct. It means nothing, he said. My mother was born on Christmas day. My faith dictates that it does not mean nothing, as it is also the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord. Perhaps it is easier for Ted to retain that line of thinking. He is a very free spirit. He practices Buddhism. But... I appreciated his advice and I plan to put it into action. No one can help me do this but myself. I can decide how I live from here on out.

I never intended this blog to turn into a blog about depression and loss. Originally I thought I'd share all of my kooky finds, my thoughts, my art, stories and inspirations here. It has turned into something sad because my life has been something sad for quite some time now. I know it is up to me and me alone to change that. I intend to live every day like it is a gift, because it is. I will begin trying as of now. Yesterday I bought a sequoia redwood tree. I plan on planting it in memory of my mom. It is a native Californian species, so it makes a perfect tree for my native California born mother. I'll sneak it into an inconspicuous place on the coast, somewhere where it won't harm anything around it by growing into a huge and majestic thing. I also bought 3 small beautiful succulent plants, ones I don't already have in my garden. I bought them to symbolize the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. I planted them this afternoon in a terra cotta pot and added them to my garden. I do not want to lose my faith, even while I question it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Santa Barbara is on fire! (again)

Hi friends,
I am sure you've heard about the Tea Fire if you aren't in SB. Everyone we know seems to be OK. It's mostly the luxury estate homes that have been affected. I thought I'd post a note to all my dear ones who are not here in town.
In the last 24 hours it's been quite dramatic around here!Image Hosted by

Pics cannot really capture the magnitude of this fire, how hot it is, how close and real it is. I could hear sirens and hellicopters all night throughout my sleep, and I was very thankful to be on the ocean-side of this thing. And it's made me think close and hard about what I would take in a moment's notice if I had to evacuate.
Everything outside is already covered in ash!
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I'm curious after this disaster blows over to hear more about it's origins. It's even been on CNN this morning. National news. Last night from work I could see 50 ft. flames engulging houses on the hill like balls of newspaper in a fireplace. It was crazy! So close! So big! There has been over 100 homes lost so far, most of them luxury estates in Oprah's neighborhood, (Rob Lowe, Mr. Lucky Jeans, those kinds of places). Westmont College lost a couple of buildings and there was a monastary destroyed. We lost power all night, so we had to close the business. It was strange working only by candlelight. I am going to the gym and I'm going to stay there all afternoon... for a little air conditioning and some fresh air, and oh yeah... excersize. ha ha. It's about 1,000 sweltering degrees in my house.
HOTTER THAN HELL.... and in NOVEMBER, no less!!! The DAY before my birthday! I'm so tired of the hot weather, I can't wait for a cold day or some rain. A rain storm would be a lovely birthday present.

Air quality here is rotten and on red alert, so I've had to close all my doors and windows.
It's freakin' HOT, Baby!!!! Ouch!