Three Months, Baby

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The Evil Nico-demon (If he reminds you of a pile of poo, then I drew him well.)

I guess it doesn’t sound like much, especially compared to how long I smoked, but it is a quarter of a year, and that feels significant.

I had no idea this was going to be so hard, not just breaking the addiction, which will probably never go away completely, but also the violent mood swings, the chemical warfare being waged in my brain as it tries to cope with its waning desire for poison, my lungs finally beginning to heal, the unsettling calm that comes from not having to go outside to smoke, the sense of shame for having exposed everyone, including myself, to a filthy habit for so many years.

Along this journey I have learned one vitally important lesson. Smoking is not cool. I have not made a sacrifice. I have not given up something good. Instead, I am finally free of a form of slavery that was destroying my life, my health and my bank account. Every time I feel an urge or get a craving, I remind myself of that.  I look better, I smell better, sometimes I even feel better. I am free at last.

Twitchy Goof

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAI finally got a shot of her in sunlight.
Too bad you can only see one of her lovely green eyes.

The volunteer lady calls now and then to check up on us. Last time she called, she said Twitchy was discovered living alone in an abandoned house 5km from the crippled nuclear power plant. I’m not planning to think about that last part too much, but the first part explains a lot. She’s got a tiny notch in one of her ears, but otherwise she’s perfect. I have never seen a feral cat that didn’t at least have scars on its nose. Perhaps she had a private entrance and somewhere safe to hide. So she knows what houses are but not what people are. Most of the time when I walk past her, she looks at me as if to say, “What ARE you? What are you DOING here?” But the look has softened from offended to just perplexed.

I can’t imagine what she ate while she was living like that. We keep giving her both wet and dry food and unlike any cat I’ve ever met, she prefers dry. We thought maybe she’s used to eating raw food so the dry stuff is a treat–she didn’t have to chase it down and kill it and it doesn’t have any skin or bones in it. Also unlike any cat I’ve ever known, she shows no interest in going outside. Perhaps she had enough of that and likes feeling safe, which she is ever so slowly starting to do. Last night, while I was fixing her dinner, she kissed my leg.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAAs she gets more comfortable here, her name keeps getting longer. Since we realized she is a Goth and Out-Of-Focus, she’s become Twitchy Goof. A friend gave me a hard time for giving her such a silly name, but I explained that there isn’t a word in English, or in any language for that matter, that could possibly do her justice.

Done!

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAThe writing project from hell is done, and four days ahead of deadline to boot.

I am a superior creature who should be worshiped at all times.

And speaking of worship, I have discovered that Twitchy is part Goth. She’s wearing black eyeliner and lipstick. If she starts getting things pierced, we’re going to have to have a talk.

I Think I Can Bear It

This has been one of those weeks where I really have to fight the urge to dig a hole and bury myself in it. I’ve still got this Sword of Damocles writing project hanging over my head, although I just finished half of it. As with many recent challenges in my life, it feels like I’ve reached the summit of yet another mountain and can now begin the descent toward the goal.

Twitchy remains one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and therefore a heartbreak since we still can’t touch her. I have to remind myself that she has a lot to learn. She’s never been a house cat before and doesn’t know how to do that. She doesn’t know what petting is or how good it feels. Her survival instinct is to see everyone and everything as a threat. So we just have to wait. She’ll come round when she’s ready. Yesterday as I was getting her dinner ready, she got so excited that she touched my leg with her nose and stepped on my foot. It’s progress and I’m grateful, but patience is not really my strong suit these days.

On Tuesday, I had a tooth pulled by the Happiest Dentist Ever. He chattered away, giggling even, the whole time he worked on my mouth. I wondered if he was nipping at the ether between patients. He gave me a cute little case to carry my tooth home in. (The tooth was gross. You don’t want to see it.)

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERABeing at the dentist is like riding in an airplane. Once they strap you in, everything is beyond your control so you might as well relax and make the best of it.  So I was trying to be mature and independent. After all, that tooth had been bothering me on and off since high school, so I was well rid of it, yet I couldn’t help wishing my mommy was there holding my hand. The Happy Dentist said the tooth should pop right out. “Here we go. 3…2…1…(yank, yank) 2…1…(yank, yank)” (Eda whimpers.) “2…1…(yank) There we are!” I don’t think I’ve ever actually whimpered before.

The next day, I had a meeting and the client, who is a sweetheart, told me that basically they wanted me to do an impossible amount of work in an impossible amount of time. I am not exaggerating; she wanted 72 five to ten line monologs/dialogs written in ascending difficulty and according to strict grammar and vocabulary guidelines and could I please finish by 4:00 because she has another meeting to go to. It was 2:30.

I try to be professional and cooperative. If I wasn’t already suffering from chemical warfare in my brain, I might have laughed out loud, but my chin started to quiver, and I thought, “Oh, God. This is it. I’m going to lose it. I’m going to start sobbing right here in the office. Everyone will see me as an incompetent loser. I might as well become the bag lady that I am at heart. I will just collect my things and go sit on a bench in the park for the rest of eternity, birds nesting in my hair, dogs peeing on my ankles.”

Instead, I did carp face, opening and closing my mouth but not managing to say anything. In the end, we did as much as we could, which was most of it, but I’m not vouching for the quality.

And then it was back here to the computer slogging through the seemingly endless writing project. So I did this yesterday…

140718_1303~02…and it helped.

And tomorrow I’m going blueberry picking. I think that will help, too.
The world is a better place because of blueberries and bears.

Just a thought….

I read somewhere that when you are born, perhaps just for the briefest of moments, you are the youngest person on the planet and therefore unique. At first that struck me as such a charming thought. But then I realized that birth is not something you choose. Instead, it is chosen for you, and you certainly can’t take any credit for it.

What really matters, what can make a difference, is whether or not you manage to find that uniqueness again, as your own choice, whether you choose to make that choice and follow through with it, whether you have the bravery to look within yourself and find your one unique thing and then find a way to share it, and let others share their uniqueness with you.

This is not something I’m good at. For too many years, my cancerous little friend was my best friend and constant companion. I do not miss him but I’m still learning how to live without him. I had no idea how strong his hold over me was.

Farewell and good riddance, my false-faced friend. In fact, not even farewell. I hope bad things happen to you. I hope it rains every day until the tomatoes in your garden are nothing but bug-infested mush. I hope all of your toenails become ingrown. I hope all four tires on your car go flat and you slam into a concrete wall and your airbags don’t inflate. I hope they create some new bad things to happen to you that have never happened to anyone before.

That could be your shot at uniqueness. Enjoy.

The Out-of-focus Cat

People keep asking me what breed of cat Twitchy is. Hmmm. She’s clearly mostly Tabby, but while most Tabbies are a combination of grey/black or caramel/butterscotch stripes and spots, she’s got all of that. She is proving to be something of a food slut; maybe she’s greedy by nature and decided she wanted to be Everybreed.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough the white highlights–tuxedo shirt (Shame on you, ma, calling that a ‘bib’!), elegant finger gloves, and creamy filling–are common, I don’t know where they came from. And then there’s clearly a bit of Abyssinian or Burmese or something else exotic tossed in there. I noticed that the markings on her face and the rings on the end of her tail are quite clear. She just gets kind of blurry in the middle, so we have decided that she is an Out-of-focus cat.

Dumbass

I’ve got this big writing project and the Deadline is gradually creeping toward me but I just can’t drum up any motivation to do it. It’s technical writing, which isn’t difficult, it just takes time and attention and I DON’T WANT TO. I would wail and slam my fists against the table like that dumbass politician on TV last week, but there isn’t anybody here to see me looking like such a dumbass.

Instead, I spent most of today and yesterday playing some dumbass online cookie-collecting game that has a thoroughly dumbass fake French guy saying dumbass things like, “C’est bon!” when I get a high score. And the Deadline is now throwing an ominous shadow across my keyboard.

Could someone maybe come here and kick me in my dumb ass? The Deadline is slowly rubbing his hands together, his lips curved in a malicious sneer, a thin trail of drool making its way from one side of his mouth.

He’s getting closer, close enough now that his foul breath is curling the hairs on the back of my neck. His gnarled fingers are reaching out for my throat.

Somebody, please! Save me from my dumbass self!

Security

A friend recently asked if we’re the kind of people who keep our windows closed and locked. Nope. Unless there’s a downpour, they’re pretty much always open. We’re rather fond of air.

“But you close them at night, of course,” says she.

Nope, not even then, but a lot of our neighbors do. At our old house, the people next door closed and locked not only the windows but also the shutters, even on the second floor. It would take a rather determined thief to bust in from there, and they really didn’t seem like the type of people to have diamonds and rubies and stacks of cash lying around, although you never know.

My current next door neighbor closes her shutters round about 5:00 every single day. And she doesn’t just close them–she shuffles outside in a pair of over-sized slippers and slams them with a vengeance. I have come to associate the sound with nice things like having a tooth pulled or finding a package of rotten chicken in my backpack.

Come to think of it, in the fourteen years we lived in the old house, I only closed the shutters once, and that was because a typhoon hit us head on. In four years, I have never closed them here.

As close to idyllic as life in Japan seems, petty thievery is not uncommon. But honestly, we really don’t have anything worth stealing. On the other hand, we do have a custom designed, highly sophisticated system of old shoelaces we use to tie the screens closed.

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This is not intended to keep bad guys out. If they want in that badly, they’ll find a way. But it does keep Twitchy in, and keeping her safe is much more important than protecting the Prada handbags and tiaras and mink coats that I will never own anyway.

Souvenir for Twitchy

Going through security at Fukuoka airport this morning, my carry-on set off an alarm. I wasn’t alarmed; I knew there was nothing untoward in it. But they sent it through the x-ray machine again. And again. And then took it off to the secret place they take bags that have been naughty.

A minute or so later they came back looking sheepish and handed it to me with apologies. PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAI suppose they saw the mysterious bundle of twigs and wondered if they were detonators. Opening my bag, they would have seen them clearly marked “matatabi”, which is a type of tree bark that has the same effect as catnip. As far as I know, it is not particularly combustible and has very little street value.

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