I had high hopes for 2012. 2011 was such an unbearable year, I thought that it could only get better. Briefly, it did. And then it all went to hell, for me and mine.
The death toll of 2012 rivaled the first five minutes of a Michael Bay movie. Loved ones and loved ones of loved ones were lost to accident, suicide, illness, and just shitty, shitty luck. When I wasn’t powerless with regard to my grief, I was powerless in the face of grief suffered by people I love deeply and dearly.
My attempts at finding love or even a halfway interested lover failed repeatedly, and early 2012 brought me a very badly broken heart and an utter loss of hope, not to mention a great deal of frustration and confusion. Many of my friends were unlucky in love and went through relationship strife as well.
There were a number of friendship upheavals about which I remain unsure, and I believe 2013 will involve some restructuring.
Things began to turn around for me toward the end of the year. Slowly, like the Titanic attempting to avoid the iceberg.
- I finally got a full time job at an amazing organization, working with phenomenal people and the best office dog in the world. I love my job. And it almost pays me enough to live on.
- As part of a last-ditch attempt to find somebody I might want to date, I showed up to a bar one evening with a book and a thirst for Scotch, and hoped that the woman I’d messaged on OKC wasn’t going to be a complete waste of time. Since I was pretty much over dating by this point, I wore the same unwashed jeans I’d been wearing for the past several days and a shirt I never checked for stains, and I didn’t bother to wait to start in on the whisky. I’ll go ahead and skip to the end of this one: She’s wonderful, hysterical, loving, caring, and has the prettiest, smiliest eyes. We just finished moving the rest of my possessions to her apartment in SF. She likes my cooking. (ETA: She has corrected this statement to make sure I know to call it OUR apartment.)
- My cat Thumper is in good health and happy in our new apartment, which is much smaller than our house in Oakland, but cozier and has many soft and warm things for him to sleep on. He even has his own chair, from which he can observe his neighbor cat girlfriend, Foxy. He and my lady absolutely adore each other.
- I opened up about a very serious topic in a very public forum and was rewarded by a show of love, support, and trust from individuals known and unknown to me.
2012 still sank, but I and many of my friends ended up on life rafts, paddling toward 2013.
I don’t think anybody expects 2013 to be amazing. But I am hoping that we all have the space to recover from losses, strengthen new and old foundations, and remind each other that we love and care for each other, that we are there for each other, and that we may occasionally want to give up on everything, but that we won’t give up on each other.
I can’t help but be a little optimistic; I’m in the best place I’ve been since maybe 2008. I’ve found love and employment, I have a roof over my head, and my cat has the most adorable mitteny paws in the world. Things are not easy; I don’t know if they ever will be. But it isn’t all difficult, and for the first time in a long time I really feel like it’s worth it to keep working, keep fighting, and keep pushing through. I am not in a place where I can say, “Bring it, 2013, I can take whatever you have to throw at me.” I am, however, in a place to say, let’s do this.
So. 2013. Let’s do this.
Anybody who knows me personally figures out pretty quickly that I adore animals. It’s not a walk home from the BART station unless I have stopped to pet and talk to every neighborhood dog and cat I can reach. Even the dog who so vigilantly and vocally guards the erstwhile itinerant squat and crackhouse around the corner from my humble abode gets a thumbs up and encouragement from me—I’m not offended, he’s just doing his job, and a damn fine one.
Animals tend to enjoy my company as well, and it is very rare for a wee beastie to reject my advances (and that usually only lasts for a day at the most). The number of times I have heard, “Whoa, wait a sec, s/he doesn’t let anybody else do that but me” is sufficient to make me think it’s a bit of a thing.
So when, in the days just before the wedding of one of my dearest friends, I had the opportunity to visit the Earthfire Institute and hang out with some beasts who were not especially tame but were deemed unfit (for reasons of health/fitness, usually) to be released back to the wild, I could not have been more excited. Excited enough, in fact, that I was one of three people awake early enough for the morning session (note: excited enough and not so painfully hungover that a morning was required to recover) at the Institute.
My friends Kelly, Ken, and I were warmly received by Susan and Jean, who gave us some quick background on the Institute, introduced us to their dog, Boychuk, and then took us into a brand new enclosure area. There they informed us we were going to meet some wolves.
“Don’t make eye contact,” they admonished gently, “and don’t let them sneak up behind you. These wolves have been around people, but they aren’t tame.”
Being a person of both wit and intelligence, I was sufficiently cowed by that spare warning that it took some effort to remain relaxed and breathing slowly; I did not want the wolves to be put off by tension or anxiety.
They let the wolves in. One male (Wamaka), large and confident, and one female (can’t remember which one she was), diminutive and skittish. Each tried their hand (paw?) at sneaking up behind me, the female several times. Each time I whirled around, looking just to the side of their beautiful faces, wishing I could meet their intelligent, lovely eyes without it being a sign of aggression. Their paws danced on the ground as they nipped in to smell the new humans in their midst, and their tails wagged and brushed my leg and side as they explored and examined the situation.
I left my hand down for them to smell and snuck scritches in when they got close enough. The female rarely got close enough for me to touch her; I was only allowed to get that good spot behind her ears once. Wamaka, however, began spending longer and longer at my side, allowing me to bury my fingers in his thick silvery fur, to feel the muscles shift under fur and skin as he moved, to let me feel just how soft his ears really were. He took to leaning up against me so I could get that spot between his shoulders as I tried not to let him unbalance me. He played with me a little; we were both cautious about that, for I did not want to inadvertently threaten him and he was still unsure of me. I suspect, given a day or so, we might have been running about the enclosure like two pups, but we didn’t have a day.
When we were informed that the wolves were going to go back to their homes outside the enclosure, he was leaning up against me again, so I leaned down and, with the abandon I usually show when faced with a large, particularly friendly dog, put my arms around this wolf and scritched him all over, as if he’d just triumphantly returned a frisbee to me. He huffed in my face, sneezed (but not in my face, for Wamaka is a polite wolf), and ran off with the the female and the two humans who cared for and fed him.
It was one of the best experiences of my life. I have rarely met two people so dedicated to the animals they serve as Susan and Jean (and Jean might as well be half-animal himself, for the way he communicates and bonds with the beasties there, from fox to bear to wild cat), and the few hours I was there fundamentally realigned how I felt about the world around me. I recommend a visit to their website, and think it would be rad if you could make a donation to them so that they can keep doing what they do. And if you ever find yourself heading to Idaho, it’s definitely worth a visit, or more.
This is the general progression for any time I catsit for longer than a few days.
For the record, I did not actually find any cat journals. All cat journal entries are 57% fictional.
Some number of days ago, I took this photo of my cat:
But then I couldn’t decide whether he was plotting or pouting. So I made these:
And now…now I just don’t trust my cat anymore. Let’s not forget: he’s got thumbs. There’s no telling what he could do if he set his nut-sized brain to it.
I’m sure y’all remember Moto, by now.
This handsome fellow is Nijinsky. Nijinsky is Moto’s long-suffering-yet-charmingly-(mostofthetime)-neurotic older brother.
Nij: Ummmm….whatcha doin’?
Nij: Soooo…. *headbutts my knee*
Me: Just a sec, buddy.
Nij: No. Right now. *paw on my leg*
Me: Nijinsky. Can’t you—
Nij: But I love you. So much. Right NOW. *nose on my nose*
Me: NIJINSKY I HAVE TO PROTECT THE WAGON FROM THESE BANDI—Well, fuck it. Now I’m dead.
Nij: *purr* *gentle headbutt*
Remember Otto? As it turns out, he’s much better with paint than he is with unfamiliar musical instruments—as my beloved friends Sasha and Nate discovered while painting their imminent baby’s room this week (“Imminent Baby” is now my Britney Spears cover band name). He likes to help. And by “help,” I mean, “‘help’”. Sasha submitted this for your perusal and enjoyment, Gentle Readers.
So with no more ado, Conversations Sasha Gets To Have With Otto, and don’t forget—Otto speaks in all caps. It’s a thing.
Sasha: Hey, Otto. What are you up to?
Sasha: Wait, what’s that on your whiskers?
Sasha: Your whiskers are green and blue. And you have paint on your face.
Sasha: Oh, no, have you been in the baby’s room?
Sasha: Dammit, cat! I’m eight months pregnant. Don’t make me chase you. Oh, shit. Stay out of there!
Otto: *running away* HELPIIIING!
WP note: It’s true. He was definitely HELPING. I visited the apartment last night, and Otto had at least two different colors on his neck and whiskers. Good thing everything goes with black.
This is Thumper:
You may not realize this, but Thumper is actually my cat, whereas Moto, Otto, and Nutz all belong in various San Francisco apartments to which the unwitting residents have given me keys.
WP: Hey Thump, you okay there, buddy?
Thumper: I’m fine. *moves a little closer*
Thumper: It’s cool, everything’s cool. *moves a little closer*
Thumper: I’M TOTALLY FINE OVER HERE, EVERYTHING’S FINE. *pause* FINE. *rolls closer*
WP: Hey little man. You can come all the way over here.
Thumper: You know, that chair does look comfortable. But it’s not because I’m scared. And I’m gonna just curl right up on you. Because…because you’re warm. Okay?
WP: Look buddy—
Thumper: Shut UP. I’m FINE. I’m not even LOOKING AT YOU.
WP: *pets the cat reassuringly*
Thumper: OH THANK GOD WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG? *PURRPURRPURRPURR*
This is Otto (and my guitar):
(Otto speaks in all caps.)
Otto: WHAT IS THAT?
WP: It’s a guitar. You have seen these before.
Otto: YEAH BUT WHAT IS THAT?
WP: It’s a guitar, Otto.
Otto: DO I EAT IT?
WP: You can try.
Otto: OKAY. BUT WHAT IS IT?
WP: It’s a— Okay. Listen. *strums guitar*
Otto: OMG WTF WHAT IS THAT YOU SAID I COULD EAT IT.
And then he ran into the hallway and yelled at me from behind the door for five minutes before he forgot what had happened. The photo was taken at his second attempt to determine the nature of the guitar.
I’m sure nobody’s forgotten Moto, King of Pants.
It usually goes something like this:
Moto: *stands and hooks claws into jeans* *stretches* Heeeeeeeeeeeeeyyy.
WP: Oh, hey.
WP: Yeah, you said that already.
Moto: Heeeeeyyy. I’m on your paaaaants.
WP: *scoops Moto up* Not anymore, jerk.
Moto: *puts nose on my glasses* *purrs* I love you.
Moto: *full force headbutt* I love you.
WP: That’s n—
WP: *tries to spit out newly acquired fur* Okay—headbutt—I’m gonna—headbutt—put you—headbutt—down now.
Moto: PURR *hugs my hand*
WP: *ices face*
My cat worships at the base of the heater.
“I love you,” I imagine him whispering tenderly,
Reaching a paw out to touch the tile on which
purring only for the flame that is just—
to my relief—
out of his reach.
“I love you,” he says, “but Heater, oh beloved Heater—
can you do something about
this dry food situation?”
The heater sighs regretfully, and creaks its sad reply:
Remember Moto Nimitz, bathroom companion?
Moto decided to help me with my post-shower routine today.
Moto: Hey, you’re wet.
WP: Hey yeah, I am.
Moto: I can pull your towel down.
WP: Hey, now. I wasn’t done with that.
Moto: Yes you were.
WP: Fine. I’ll just put my pants on.
Moto: Those are pants! I want to be in your pants.
WP: Moto, not again.
Moto: PAAAAAAANTS! I’m IN THEM!
WP: GODDAMN IT MOTO.
Moto: PAAAAANTS! Oooooh, whuzzat?
WP: NOT YOURS. *reaches down to remove cat from pants*
Moto: PAAAA–HEY. Not cool, pants monkey. Now this is happening. *pounces on foot*
WP, with pants still down and cat attacking foot: I—agh…NO—MOTO!
…and that’s the story of how I ended up half-naked on the floor of my friends’ bedroom with my pants around my ankles, a cat nuzzling my ear, and a sincere appreciation for the fact that cats use neither cameras nor social media.
This is the most recent conversation I had with Nutz:
Nutz: Hey, you are just sitting there.
Me: Working. I’m working, Nutz.
Nutz: Hey, my paw’s on your leg now. Cuz you are just sitting there.
Me: Nutz. I’m working. These cases aren’t going to read themselves.
Nutz: Hey, both of my front paws are on your leg, now.
Me: Okay, I can put my arm over you to type.
Nutz: What if my front paws were on your other leg, and I was, like, standing on your lap?
Me: I can still see over you.
Nutz: And what if I were to lean into your chest and rub my head on your chin?
Me: I—Nutz, goddamn it.
Nutz: And what if I were to flip over onto my back in your arms and put my paw on your cheek?
Me: OHFORFUCKSSAKE. *cuddles cat, then removes him from lap and goes back to work*
2 minutes later…
Nutz: Hey, you are just sitting there.
This is Moto Nimitz:
This is my most recent conversation with Moto, who managed to get the door open to the bathroom while I was inside:
Moto: Hey, there you are.
Whiskeypants: Uh. Yeah.
Moto: Hey. Hey. Hey.
Moto: Hey, watcha doin? You peeing? Is that what you’re doing?
W: Yeah, seems like it.
Moto: Can I touch that?
Moto: What about this? And are those pants? I want to be in your pants.
Moto: Paaaants! I’m in them!
W: Moto. Moto, stop. Moto. MOTO THAT TICKLES.
Moto: Paaaants! Captive audience! Paaaaants!
W: Cat. I need to leave the room. And walk. *falls over*
Monday: Cat is miserable and scratching his fur off. Poor guy.
Thursday: Cat is infested and leaving flea parts and flecks of blood everywhere. Poor me.
Sunday: What is most likely to eradicate fleas and leave you and your pet alive? Must research.
Wednesday: I have begun the process of wiping them out. Tons of laundry, vacuuming, chemicals. My cat thinks that I am trying to kill him. A flea dip results in yowling and screaming for help. The neighbors do not come, and little Kitty Genovese must endure his bath. I keep telling him that it’s for the best.
Saturday: He’s not talking to me. I have changed his scent, replaced his collar, and he still itches.
Sunday: All is quiet.
Monday: More action must be taken. I thought them merely tiny groups of fleas. They were actually trained soldiers practicing guerrilla maneuvers on the part of a much larger organization.
Monday night: It’s cool. I can handle this. I am bigger than them, and I have a vacuum cleaner.
Tuesday: There are more than I thought. And they might have guns.
Wednesday: I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
I think they might be mobilizing, so I am doing this today. We can’t let tOH GOD THEY ARE ON MEEEEEEE