Monthly Archives: April 2011

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

Standard

My cat is dead. I found her lying in the grass on the side of the road this morning. In front of our house. I’m devastated. I wish Zach would have found her on his way to work this morning. I’m thankful Sailor wasn’t out here when I found her.

I cannot begin to express my sorrow. I never thought she would look so bedraggled. She was meticulous in her fur upkeep. My little one-eyed warrior Weetzie. Her fur was wet. Tongue hanging out if her mouth. And the worst part was seeing all the ants working on eating her good eye. It’s my own Greek tragedy here this morning. Needless to say, there’s a splash of rum in my hot tea this morning.

Now that I’ve told about her death, I’d like to talk about her life. I adopted her from a shelter 8 years ago in hopes of her keeping my anxiety ridden dog company. She was already a year or so old. It worked. And they became inseparable. So did her & I. She was notorious for cuddling and sitting gargoyle-like on my lap. She loved her name. She loved rubbing & biting in Zach & my hair-as well as some unsuspecting guests. Sailor’s first word was “Meow”. Sailor would chat to that cat all day. And recently, she had taken to trying to pick her up & carry her around the house or the yard. Our do Preach would lick and bite on her face every night lovingly. They were best friends.

And, although it led to her demise, I’m glad she had the freedom of the great outdoors these last four months. She loved roaming and exploring. She was my jungle cat-catching lizards and proudly displaying them to us on the doorstep. I’m going to miss her. She was a beautiful orange tabby with giraffe blocks & one tortoise shell leg (her pegleg). And of course, only the one eye. I don’t know if she can be replaced. It will be a while. The house already feels empty without her.

Zach is on his way home from work to help me bury her. I could not bring myself to put her in the dumpster. She’s better than that. So sweet Weetzie, from dust you came & to dust you shall return. Thank you for almost a decade of companionship. Rest well, and we will meet on the other side.

A Hair’s Breadth

Standard

Friday I shaved my legs. Possibly for the last time. I know what you’re thinking. Why would you do that? Gross. Or maybe you’re trying not to gag. And there’s probably a few who are silently rejoicing that another woman has finally been converted.

Well, just so you know, I’ve already asked myself these questions. And I’ve asked my husband. Lying in bed Thursday night I pondered the reality of not shaving, weighing the pros & cons during our nightly pillow talk session. He remembers well how my leg looked after the cast came off-very, very hairy. But I’m not to be deterred.

You see, I’m on the path to self-sustainability. (You say hippie, I say happy). The journey of urban homesteading to this point has included many changes, but nothing too personal. And I think now it’s high time I changed that. I’ve been considering how many razors I go through and it is far too many. It is added waste that’s not recycled and just clogs landfills, like my hair going down the drain. And that’s not who I want to be. I’m trying to keep the world green and alive and beautiful for myself, and especially for my daughter. What future will she have if everything is grey and desolate? Not the future I hoped for that’s for sure.

And so, this new experiment. I know several ladies who have already chosen this life for themselves. And although I’m ashamed to admit it, I silently balked at your outrageously long hair. I thought laziness had taken over. I’m sorry. As a punk rock song puts it “Beauty is only skin deep, and everybody’s beautiful underneath”. I’m finally old enough to understand why you did it and humble enough to walk with you. I cannot imagine the feelings you went through as people stared, and gasped, and scowled. Perhaps now I’ll get a taste of my own medicine.

Ive given myself a two month trial. I think hopefully I will find that it can last forever, but for now I’m only committing to two months. I figure that gives mr plenty of time to look at my legs and the lack of a mountain of dispoable razors to make the best decision. I know summer isn’t the best time for me to conduct this experiment, but as I told my husband, I live in New Orleans. This city is so European that another lady with hairy gams is not eccentric, it’s normal. For those outside the Quarters, well, you’ll just have to forgive my natural decision when you see me in a skirt. Because it’s hot & I plan on wearing a lot of skirts! While you silently judge my downy plume, you can thank mr for still shaving my armpits.

That Boot’s Not Made For Walkin’

Standard

Aaahh! Sweet relief. Freedom! I cannot begin to explain how rewarding today has been. I realized that in these 9 months I’ve been waiting on my ankle bones to heal, I could’ve had another child! Instead, it was 9 months of waiting to walk without casts, boots, crutches, and canes.

So today, to celebrate this new found freedom to be a mover & shaker, I walked with Sailor in the stroller into the French Quarter to my favorite coffee shop, Cafe Envie. In leather boots. With wind whipping through my hair. Oh yeah, and a horrendous limp. But that aside, my celebratory Irish Cream Coffee (yes, liquor drinks at a coffee shop…see why it’s my favorite?). That drink was delicious!

As I sat at the table while Sailor munched her cranberry muffin, I could only see the possibilities stretching endlessly before me. The proverbial monkey is finally off my back, and it is GLORIOUS! I cannot wait to try riding my bicycle this weekend, especially since we have a seat for Sailor attached to it. We are about to be the bike riding family powerhouse of New Orleans. Well, let’s be serious, we will at least be enjoying the city more together and that is priceless. I can’t wait to start running again either. I’ve missed running so much & the catharsis that accompanies it.

But for now, I’ve got a blister about 3 inches long in the arch of my foot thanks to that celebratory walk. And I can’t wait to take many more!

Attempt at Tabula Rasa

Standard

I’m lonely. And exhausted. It’s been almost 9 months since we packed up our belongings and made our way to the Crescent City, but it feels like a lifetime has passed. I think I’m only beginning to process everything. In other words, the ramifications of our decision to uproot our family and our life is washing over me like oh so many tidal waves. Sometimes I think I may be drowning.

Let me drop back a few paces. Ever since I was an adolescent I fantasized about New Orleans. Trumpets in Heaven didn’t sound as sweet as those peals erupting from second line processions in my mind. I could already smell the food (it’s better in real life) and feel the feathers from those lovingly handcrafted Mardi Gras Indian suits. And the colors that came to mind in my daydreams were always brighter than anything Crayola had ever concocted. I’m pretty sure my father thought I had lost my mind when I spoke of my longing to be here. And of course all he could imagine was hearing of my death via stray bullet.

My teens and early twenties were filled with horrible boyfriend decisions, countless roommates, copious mixed drinks, tattoos, nights of live music, and lots of dreaming of New Orleans. I just couldn’t let this city go. Odder still, I’d never crossed the twin span across the mighty Mississippi. Never set foot in the city. And then I met Zach.

In all my hemming & hawing about whether I was ready for (yet another failed?) committed relationship, he gave me the one thing I’d been too afraid to give to myself-a trip to New Orleans, the city of my dreams! Words cannot describe my delight, nor his realization that I was the woman he wanted to marry. It didn’t take long for me to jump aboard and so began my real love affair with NOLA; one that escalated with every trip we made to the city. It was a drug I couldn’t get enough of. And then, after almost four years of waiting, we had finally committed to moving here.

The Monday we were set to move was rapidly approaching. Our house was packed and the UHaul waiting to be picked up & packed. Then Saturday night, as Zach was flipping our steaks on the grill, I laced up my rollerskates and promptly broke my ankle skating in the house. And so we moved almost 700 miles with my ankle broken, but my dreams crushed. I cannot explain the guilt I felt or the realization that washed over me as despair set in.

Let me be clear, I had NO idea what I’d gotten myself into. And hence, the lonely, exhausted lady sitting before you. Twenty-nine years of living in the Soda City hadn’t braced me for losing my friends, family, and ultimately a slice of myself. It’s been a harsh wake-up call to realize that I really do have to start over. I had friends in Columbia that I’d know for years and years and years. And those folks had seen my multiple metamorphoses. But here, I didn’t realize I was truly poised to reinvent myself, yet I was, and am, terribly unprepared. In addition, the first six months here were spent in utter solitude at the house on crutches with a spry 1-1/2 year old just beginning to walk.

I don’t know how to be myself anymore. I feel so uninteresting. It’s difficult for me to connect and it’s utterly exhausting. I keep feeling like I’ve got to give a life story in order to make a friend-and lemme tell you, my story is long and sordid. Can’t we just skip it? Can I?

The Road to Humility is Paved With Golden Calves

Standard

I’ve been pondering humility lately. In seeking to build my better self, I’m learning to let go of control. A lot. It’s the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done. It’s also incredibly refreshing.

I can’t believe I used to be so anal-retentive, uptight, and so in control of everything. The problem with that personality was that I was a complete and total bitch. I was unbending at least-completely unyielding at best. It was my way or the highway. But my house was immaculate, I had a 4.0 GPA, and a job whose work I consistently brought home. Oh yeah, and a lot of pride. What I didn’t have was a social life. I didn’t have fulfilling relationships or the good sense to humble myself…..ever.

In the past few years I have changed an incredible amount. I owe much of this to my husband. He has taught me the value of letting things go and remaining calm. He has taught me to enjoy silence, yet suck the marrow out of life. Nursing school taught me to slow down and listen. To try doing things another way, instead of my way. My daughter has brought me further down the road. I’ve learned to just go with the flow. I finally understand that I cannot control everything and that that is okay.

However, what I’m clinging tightly to in moments is pride. I’m proud of my life, my husband, my daughter, my accomplishments. I’m proud of….fill in the blank. These, dear readers, are my golden calves. I realized last night while praying with Zach that I have been pridefully staking my claim on things with a two-letter word of destruction-my. My garden. My cooking. My life. My, my, my (how the mighty have fallen).

I have taken God out of the equation. I’ve forgotten that I am His creation. So is my husband, my daughter, my garden. He has provided these things and entrusted them to my care, but they are not mine. They are gifts-not accomplishments. He created the seeds I lovingly planted. He makes them grow. God is so good to us in our inhumility. How bizarre that we forget so easily. How prideful. I realized that I’ve replaced God with myself in all these things and in doing so am very far from prostrating myself before the Lord.

I thought I had given up control to God. What I’d done is find ways in which I could still claim ownership and fill that need for success that lurks in us all. I am thankful that I have finally gotten the clarity of mind to realize these things about myself. I’m thankful that I can change. And I’m refreshed by the thought that I can still relinquish control. Let go and build trust. Create meaningful relationships with those whom I love and respect, while humbly thanking God for these gifts.

Nature and Nurture

Standard

It’s been a while. I’m trying to change that. I’m challenging myself to try and write something on this here blog every day….or at least three times a week. I’m worried that every day may result in lots of filler and no meat. So please bear with me as we Wade through the muck and feel free to spit out the bones.

I’ve been reborn as a mother, only this time my children are plants, not people. Yep, you heard me, my garden has consumed a portion of my attention, which has lead me to thinking about nature and nurture. In psychology we relate the two in a versus situation, pitting the two against one another in hopes of finding the one with the greater merit. Why are we the way we are? and other such questions. What I’m proposing is we think of this another way- as a symbiotic relationship feeding itself in a cycle. At least that’s the way I’m seeing it these days.

Let me explain. Nature (my garden) nurtures me in that it feeds my soul and makes me feel useful and accomplished (also know as cultivating a “green thumb”). But what I have been pondering is that I, in turn, nurture nature by watering and weeding, and yes, even planting those tiny seeds in hopes of seeing life emerge from the depths of the soil. There are few things more satisfying than seeing those beauties spring forth out of the ground, unfurling paper thin leaves outstretched towards the sun. And nothing more devastating than having to pluck these same seedlings out of the ground in order to thin the ranks, ensuring the survival of a precious few. Or to see the numerous hungry bugs, slugs, and caterpillars nibble at leaves, or death by disease. Then there are the unplanned for accidents. For example, last night a fugitive on handcuffs divebombed our front garden plot and with the help of the NOPD, destroyed the trellis I just built a few days ago for the snowpeas. It was my small earthquake; a little death that left me feeling like Gollum, pining away for “my precious”. But like this glorious city that I get to wake up to every morning, I will rebuild and this garden will continue to feed me, both physically and spiritually. At least that’s my hope.