Category: This and That

When It Rains

I’ve been getting help recently for anxiety and depression which was exacerbated by the sickness of our beloved cat and the recent death of one of my best friends. Grief is a strange thing. I’ve been well-acquainted with it in my life, but then I realize that the path to recovery is seldom straightforward and it’s certainly not something that happens quickly. No matter how I sometimes feel that I’ve left behind a difficult chapter, something happens to remind me that these things can linger. When my mom died, I remember clearly how one day I was sitting in her room, carrying the bag that she had with her in the hospital on the day she died. Her eyeglasses were neatly folded up among her things. It was then that I really stopped to look around her room and realize that it’s frozen in time. She had been unceremoniously cut out of the scene, and I’m left with all the things that had been part of her existence.

All the little knick knacks that she found cute and put on her library’s table. All the clothes she meticulously picked and took care of. All of the things that had once amused her or given her joy. All the journals that were her companion when she wanted to pour out her thoughts. Everything that had once mattered to her. Left behind.

I haven’t been writing a lot or making art these past few months because for some reason they trigger my anxiety. I’m being more respectful of how I feel and taking time off. Just the act of recognizing that something’s wrong and that I needed help took a lot of time, as hard-won victories usually do. It’s going to be a long process but I hope that I can make it out of this dark valley soon.

Rough Weekend

We had quite a rough start of the weekend yesterday. We were just enjoying a quiet Saturday, having early lunch at home and watching Netflix. My husband’s new toy cabinet just got delivered and we were planning which toys will go where. Then I went in our room and found our cat, Blair, licking blood off her chest. Since her cancer diagnosis, we were taking care that her tumors will not develop lesions, but here we were. Despite our best efforts, it’s happened. My husband rushed her to the vet where her wounds were cleaned and dressed. She was prescribed antobiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. I wrapped her up in a bandage so that she will not take her gauze off, but switched to a shirt later to make her less uncomfortable.

This is an ordeal for all of us. Seeing her uncomfortable, knowing that cancer is slowly wreaking havoc on her little body, it’s killing me and my husband. Someday I know we will get to that point where we may need to ask the vet to put her to sleep. I can’t imagine having to face that terrible decision someday, but I don’t want her to suffer. For now she’s moving and eating like normal, except that she has a large bump on her chest. That large tumor stretched out her skin, so the vet thinks that the skin ruptured when she licked it. If it becomes apparent that she is in pain, the humane thing to do is to euthanize her. The very thought of it is terrifying for me.

I remember the last time that a pet’s death caused me immense pain. She was a little Japanese Spitz, we named her Alanis. When she died, I honestly felt that I could not love a pet again. Pets live much shorter lives than we do, and their death is something that we should be emotionally prepared for. They light up our lives for a short time before they leave. When Alanis died, I questioned wanting to open my heart again to a little creature who I will grieve for when they pass away. But then along came Blair. We got her when we were just newlyweds, and showered her with so much love and attention. I realized then that even if they’re in our lives for a short period, the love and joy that they add to our lives are worth it. Would I wish that I didn’t have all that Blair brought into my life in order to spare myself the pain of grief in the future? If I could have a choice of having her with us and facing this grief and pain in the future, or not knowing her and not having to go through any of this, I still would choose her. I choose the moments when I bury my face in her neck, when I would smell her and kiss her soft cheeks. I choose the times when I would wake up and find her sleeping beside me, purring softly. I choose all those nights when she and my husband are snoring on our bed while I work. I choose to see her spaced out, watching birds beside the window. I choose the good moments even if they come with bad ones.

Cats with cancer don’t have the best prognosis, but as long as she’s with us, we’ll do our best to fill her life with love. From start to end, we’ll be her humans. That’s the best thing we could do for such a wonderful, loving, trusting creature.

My First Mechanical Keyboard

Yesterday, my first mechanical keyboard was delivered. I’ve been thinking about this for a while but since I was using a laptop, I didn’t really think I needed it. Last Sunday I finally upgraded to a better-spec’d desktop and I just couldn’t work too well using the regular Logitech plug and play keyboard that felt flimsy and plasticky. A lot of my friends are into these mechanical keyboards and even if I didn’t really understand the lingo, it sounded like a lot of fun. So I hit up my friend and my nephew and asked them several questions to help me decide on the kind of mechanical keyboard that I want, and I ended up with the Royal Kludge RK 100 with brown switches. I will not pretend to know enough about this to get into the details, but I will say…wow. I understand now what my friends are all raving about.

I really love the weight of the whole thing. The keyboard doesn’t move around while I type, and it doesn’t feel flimsy at all. It feels heavy and substantive. I like the feel of the keys when I tap on them. I like the feedback on my fingertips, the thockity-thock sound it makes, the crisp movements of the keys. Much like how fountain pens make writing a lot more pleasurable, this mechanical keyboard makes typing a lot more fun and comfortable.

My vertigo has a hair trigger; I’m very sensitive to light, so I don’t turn on blinking light effects, but I did like the shadow light setting where it lights up the keys as I tap on them. It’s pretty cool. I know all keys are programmable, but I haven’t really explored that yet. I’m just enjoying the sound and the feel of using it. Also, I ordered some pretty XDA keycaps, so hopefully those arrive soon. I’m pretty happy with my purchase, though I don’t see myself going deeper into the rabbit hole because I already like the brown switch that I got and I like the replacement keycaps I ordered, but who knows? I probably said the same thing about fountain pens and look what happened with that, lol.

To Hobo or Not to Hobo? That is the Question.

Scribe opened preorders for Hobonichi this week. I wanted to buy the Hobo cousin again (just the  book) but I have conflicting feelings about it. Maybe it’s this darned pandemic season that is making me hesitate. Things can seem the same for many weeks and then they can drastically change. I’m having a hard time committing to a 2021 planner, and it’s the strangest feeling. I think I’ll just buy one towards the end of the year, may be from the Hobonichi site itself or from a local reseller.

Rediscovering Books

I was a voracious reader when I was young. There’s a whole backstory to that, why I tended to escape between the pages when I was a kid, but it’s really one of the things that I enjoyed about my childhood. I wasn’t a wide reader, though. I had my favorite genres and I rarely read books outside that comfortable corner. When I was a teen, part of my rebellious phase was pointedly refusing to read anything my mom recommended. When I started working, I found that without the benefit of the regular allowance my parents gave me, I actually couldn’t afford to buy books. As a young professional, it became all about the hustle. I worked in the call center industry and I was frequently tired and emotionally spent. Imagine an introvert spending hours constantly talking on the phone. I was overworked and underpaid and I could not afford to shell out the extra money to buy books. They’ve become luxuries. I also felt like I had no time to read. So it faded to the background, along with all the other hobbies that I used to consider indispensable to my well-being–writing, keeping a journal, making art.

When I made a drastic career change in 2009, it came with a lot of challenges but one pleasant surprise was that I started to rediscover the things that used to make me happy. I started to read again. Slowly at first, like someone relearning how to ride a bike, then speeding up to a feverish pace, until this year, when I think I’ve settled into a more comfortable and relaxed pace. I also discovered new genres and developed a taste for them. I’m happy that I can afford to buy books again, and that I also have the luxury of long  blocks of time to sit quietly and read.

This year I read a lot of memoirs, some of my favorites include “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive” by Stephanie Land and Heather Armstrong’s “The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live”. I read books on race issues, politics, religion, history. Some of my favorites are Philip Yancey’s “Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image”, “Uncivil War: Race, Civil Rights & the Nation”, “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future” by Joseph Stiglitz, “Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America” by Michael Emerson, among others. I suppose your tastes in book can still change later in life. I read fewer books this year compared to last year, but I enjoyed most of the books that I picked.

I’m looking forward to the book that I’ll read this 2020. I wonder what new titles I will discover.