Kitty

Porkchop was an excellent cat. He was really my son’s cat but after Bear moved to Asia, consented to live with me. He was an old cat, I told my cousin he was 15 but when I thought about it, realized he was 20. If he were human he could vote.  EDIT: Porkchop was 16, not 20. I’m just losing it here.

He was sick, he started sitting in the tub during the day then his appetite declined. He stopped eating and I took him to the vet on Friday. He lost weight, had trouble standing and walking and then stopped using the cat box.  

The vet said he was anemic and they would run tests but didn’t sound encouraging. The tests showed he had kidney failure and his body was shutting down. His temperature was so low it didn’t register on the thermometer. I called Bear in Saigon and told him. He took it well but asked if I could bring his kitty home to die. I said I would try. I would go to the vet clinic in the morning and ask. 

Yesterday morning the receptionist ushered me and my cousin, who came for moral support, into an exam room. A vet tech came in and told us he had passed early that morning. I made arrangements to have him cremated, per his boy’s wishes. Later I cleared away his things and cleaned the cat box for the last time. It occurred to me later that Tuesday was the 3rd anniversary of Jerry’s passing and Porkchop passed four days after. I like to think of Jerry hearing his meow and looking down to see Porkchop and asking “When did you get here?”

What do people say about you

Something we wonder about, but may not want to hear. People talk, they see and judge, either in our favor or not. Their viewpoint may be skewed, taking offense when none was offered. They may judge us for things we never did, good and bad things alike. 

I try to keep a low profile,  not draw attention to myself and I think I succeed overall. I’m rather proud of my obscurity.

Last night my dad was talking to one of his nephews. He mentioned us, his daughters, and my ears went up like a Chihuahua’s when he said “the oldest one.”

So what did he say, my dad, a person who knows me fairly well and who lives in the same house?

He mentioned Jerry, saying he died 3-4 years ago (it will be 3  years in July). He said I’m alone and I go to a different church. My family are Southern Baptist and I’m Catholic, so that’s a bit of an understatement. 

My identity is based on my status as a widow. I’m alone. My sisters are married and he went on at length about their husbands. I got nothing. I am not angry or offended that my dad defines us by our marital status. Much. It’s the way he is, he is the product of a conservative rural background and another time. 

His nephew didn’t want a long detailed description of us, my dad just hit the high points, so to speak. I got off lightly. He could have been nicer but he could have been meaner too. I’m used to the Catholic thing. Though it bugs me that I’m labeled as less than because I don’t have a husband. 

Long walk

For me, anyway. For some people, short little hike, no big deal. I did my morning walk, I walk about 3 days a week and this is my longest walk of the week because I have more time. More time to do and to recover. 

I took a bottle of water, room temperature,  with me and I’m glad I did. It was awkward carrying it and I need to wear pants with pockets. Although it’s only 79 degrees F I am sweating like a politician on the witness stand. I even sweated off my eyebrows. 

Besides sweating a lot, I feel accomplished. It takes effort, just making myself get up and drive to the river was hard today. I knew I was going to do 6 miles and that I haven’t walked that far in almost a year. I managed 5 miles but one more was intimidating and a little frightening. I told myself I could do this, I could go slow, I could rest if I needed, it’s okay. 

I did stop once, to go pee between a couple of fir trees. Got pee on my leg, poked by a tree branch and hoped nobody saw me, especially the truck passing on the bridge on my left.  

As I turned around and started back I said “you’re more than halfway there.” I repeated it and checked off the streets and bridges as I passed them on my way back. Once I made it to my car and changed my shoes I began thinking about the other stuff I need to do today. After I conquered this, and I feel conquer is the right word, I feel like I can do anything now, today. 

 Yeah, I need to pluck those brows.

The Awful Truth

The awful, embarrassing truth that is. I looked at my recent posts and went back to read posts I wrote 2 years ago. I was griping about the same things, the same situations, frustrations and the same conclusions. Unfortunately none of it has improved, I’m not smarter or better off than before. I’m in a rut and apparently I’ve gotten so comfortable here, decorated the place with cushions so it looks different but it’s still the same rut. The cushions make the hard floors and sharp corners less painful but I know they are still there. 

I  haven’t grown any. I am not able to look back, see changes and be grateful for my new self. I am a little embarrassed but not as embarrassed as I should be. Two years, woman, you had two years and what did you do? Gripe, whine, complain and say the same old things but do nothing. No change, still fretting about what you can’t change and not moving forward. Am I afraid?  If I’m the badass I like to think I am the answer should be no. But I know I am a fraud.

What serious problem has plagued me isn’t global warming, the economy or anything relevant. It’s that I’m a lonely middle-aged widow who doesn’t want to date or get married but wants, uh, the benefits of being married, to put it politely. Not just the physical benefits but the emotional ones, I miss them. And I don’t want to lose my autonomy, identity or settle for someone. To be honest I haven’t had to worry about it, I am not turning away suitors, which is a relief in one way but a blow to the old ego. I’ve been going over this for two years, declaring I enjoy being alone,  which I do overall, then admitting it can be lonely. 

I should be used to this. I should have dealt with it, faced the reality of being a widow and accepted it with grace and wisdom, resigned myself to my situation. Then just got on with life, making the most of that independence. 

I have, a little. I ‘ve traveled, and I started walking in the evenings but that’s about it. I feel like I should be further along the road, ignoring those fits of loneliness when they come and flick them away. I’m hoping I can get there and finally make peace with myself and my life. 

This July will be three years Jerry has been gone. The first year was mostly numb, then it was weird, getting used to this new reality. I think of older widows I knew and how serene and content they seemed. I’m hoping I can get to that place. 

Contradiction

A lot of life, my life anyway, is a contradiction. I want to be strong and fit but I don’t want to do anything that requires effort. One new contradiction has appeared, like a zit you notice when you are brushing your teeth in the morning. An irritating surprise you hope no one notices, that you hope goes away soon.

After my husband passed away nearly 3 years ago I knew I’d be alone the rest of my life. I could not, cannot imagine ever dating or getting married again. The idea repulsed me at first, and just considering the idea made me feel guilty and odd. I still feel it is not for me, and I’m okay with being alone and celibate. I am not ecstatic about it but comfortable and peaceful with it.

I acknowledge that I am a solitary person, with my peculiarities and I’m old enough to know what makes me content, to surround myself with books, music and those things that I enjoy. I don’t worry that my likes or opinions are not typical for a middle-aged woman in this part of the world. I’m finally comfortable with my weirdness and frankly don’t give a flying rat’s butt anymore.

Part of being deviant is being alone, having no desire to “get out there.” Some widows do date, want to date, have romantic relationships and even get married again. I think most people want this for widows, to restore balance and in some cases, for economic reasons. I have nothing against widows living their lives and if dating is part of it, fine, but it’s not for me.

So I am an old weird broad, and accept that I’m alone. I did consider what my options would be and they were not good. As an old woman my dating pool would be old farts. Likely boring old dudes who want someone to take care of them. Schedule their doctor’s appointments, do their laundry, clean and cook, be a nurturer and someone who essentially puts her needs aside for his. That is not me, I don’t want to take care of some cranky sick old man but hey, fortunately there are women who do. Some will even do it for free, if marriage or living together (shacking up, as my aunt used to say) is offered. I’m honest and admit I’m not little and cute so that’s another reason I’m not a good candidate. I am selfish, I enjoy my freedom and independence. I haven’t had the luxury of being allowed to be selfish for long and admit it can be wonderful to do what I want without having to consider someone else. No way I’m giving this up, not for servitude in exchange for economic security (if I was lucky) or being part of a couple so I had something to talk and gripe about.

The main reason though is I had a good husband. He was kind to me, loved me, was a good father and a good man. He put up with my weird little self, even enjoyed some of it and tolerated the rest without much complaint. I would not find someone else as kind and decent who would cherish my weird introverted personality and put up with me, that I could put up with in turn. My husband was a jealous man, though he never had anything to worry about and if I did date I’d worry he would be upset.

So I’ve established my position and reasons why I’m alone and plan to stay this way. Now for the contradiction.

I want a companion, someone to lie in bed next to me at night, to talk with, to go places with, that I can depend on, who is interesting, has my back, laughs at my jokes, does nice things for me because it makes us both happy, that I can do nice things for as well, that I can trust and lean on whenever I need it. Not much really. Oh, and thinks I’m pretty neat. And this extraordinary person needs to be male because I’m straight. It would be a bonus if he looked and sounded like Dave Gahan.


Yet I don’t want a romantic type relationship, don’t want to date or {shudder} meet people.

The next inevitable step is to get a cat. Already have one and neither of us wants another cat.

Thanks fanpop.com for the great picture and youtube user Eddu Sounds for the video

Post race

Last Sunday morning I was downtown, in the dark and cold with 19,000 other people. I signed up for the Memorial Marathon, the 5K weenie race. I want to say it was because I believe in supporting the museum and as a remembrance to those who died April 19,1995. I admit it was more about a tech shirt and keeping up a pattern of doing this race every year. The other stuff yeah, the main reasons why there are nearly 20,000 people out there every year and why they keep coming back.

I went downtown Friday after work and picked up my packet. I decided last minute to go ahead and do this thing so my name wasn’t in the self check-in computers. I got my packet from a kindly volunteer, an older woman who assured me I was okay to go. She handed me a clear plastic bag with my bib in it and I mentioned I was just doing the 5K not the half or full marathon, the real races. She replied that every person, no matter which race they were doing, GOT THE PLASTIC BAG. The same bag. This is a big deal, because 2 years ago when I went to pick up my 5K packet I was told that only the half and full marathon people were deemed worthy of a bag. 5K people were not. I had a little feeling of shame that grew and multiplied when I learned this. I did not run or walk much that year, I was slow, old and knew I was good to do the 5K but not to ask more of my body. I had done the half, that was in 2012 but that nearly wiped me out because I ran more than I should have but still, I knew my lumpy little body was capable of doing more.

I had a good excuse for not running or walking. The previous June my husband passed away and most of the usual things I did I stopped doing. Although I enjoyed getting outside and solitude most of the time this year was not the same. It felt like a burden and the endorphins just weren’t kicking in. But I still managed to do the freaking 5K, in part because I knew he would have expected me to do it. So I did, I took my sad little loser 5K shirt and did the race in 2015.

I didn’t do the race in 2016. I couldn’t afford the $60 entry fee and somehow it didn’t feel like something I wanted to do. I was tired and didn’t want to hear about remembering the dead and being positive, about being better or stronger for the experience.  It seemed personal and intrusive in a way the previous year hadn’t. So I slept in and went to Mass instead.

This year I thought about it and tried to decide if I would or not do the race. My mind said to train for the half again, the sticker on my car needed a replacement. My body said forget that, do the 5K, it’s enough and besides you got other stuff to think about. The other stuff being my son’s wedding in Vietnam. My body won this round, as it usually does and I was not ready for the half. So I debated the merits of doing the race and the merits of sitting it out. My pride won out, as it often does, and I signed up online. i told myself to prepare to pick up my loser shirt and bring a bag.

So when this woman handed me the bag I felt grateful and humbled. Grateful that I had a bag to swing around like the big kids doing the real races. Humbled because it’s just a 3 mile race but it is important enough to provide every person with their own gear bag. I stammered something about picking up my packet 2 years before and how I was, wow, surprised and thank you.

The next step was getting my shirt. There was an expo, booths selling running shoes, clothes, protein gels, display racks for your medals, any and every thing that could be imagined for sale. I walked about five minutes before I got distracted and nearly forgot where I was going. But I found my way out of the maze and found several people in line for their shirts and took my place in line. When I got closer I saw only blue shirts. I told the man behind the counter I was just doing the 5K, that I didn’t get a half or full race shirt. He just asked what size I wanted. All the shirts were for the race: 5K, half, relay or full. I was stunned again. I babbled that last year there were different colors for the 5k, half and full. All blue and I told him I’d take a large. There were finisher shirts after the race, for the half and full but we were all in the same shirt starting out. Different bibs but the same shirt.

The race was not bad, almost anti-climactic for me. The real effort was getting up at 4am and driving in rush hour traffic trying to find a parking place in a downtown perpetually under construction.  I finished, not my best time, but I felt good after. Getting free food and finding a short line at the port-a-potties helped too.




That’s a soccer ball on the right, it floated around before the 5K started. 

Without WiFi 

I cancelled my ISP, it was a long time coming. My service sucked, too slow and occasionally dropped,  usually when I was downloading music or podcasts or trying to watch netflix. So nameless provider and I parted ways. I think I will be happier with the $49.00. 

The downside is I have no Internet at home, and internet use at work is strictly enforced so I can’t be checking my Facebook or bidding on stuff on ebay. I can’t check email or ordinary crap like I was used to doing. I was, I am spoiled, it’s a First World problem. 

Since then I’ve been looking for all the places with good free WiFi.  This is my list so far, 3 days without internet.

Public libraries. Bonus is they have computers. However there may be a wait. I cannot say enough about how wonderful and helpful and useful public libraries are and how their funding should be increased, doubled and all staff, even the lazy and surly ones (yeah, even them) get raises. But that’s another rant for another time. Shoutout to Southern Oaks, my home library. www.metrolibrary.org

Dunkin’Donuts Surprise,  you can get your coffee and a donut with your internet. Caffeine, sugar and wifi, what else do you need? Best time is after the morning rush, afternoon is beautifully quiet and slow. Staff does not care as long as you don’t make trouble and buy something. I recommend the blueberry bagels with strawberry cream cheese. www.dunkindonuts.com

Wal-Mart Where I spend most of my life and nearly all my money, I feel they owe me. Warning, not all Wal-Marts are equal and not all, especially those in rural areas, offer WiFi. Worth checking out though. If it makes you feel better think of it as a passive aggressive protest against a corporate superpower when you check your email while buying groceries.  www.walmart.com

 Starbucks Yeah, a cliche but they are everywhere. 

Bus The buses in Seattle have WiFi and I was so impressed with them when I visited there 2 years ago. No big deal, I was told. My local mass transit system finally caught up and now there’s WiFi here. I haven’t tried it yet, the bus stops near me don’t go where I need to go and I usually drive. Most cities offer WiFi on buses and trains now.  www.embarkok.com