The Year of Playing FreeCell

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADepression has a way of flipping my perspective. When I’m in its grasp, it’s like no matter how hard I try to appreciate the beauty of the roses, I only feel the bite of  the thorns.

No, I don’t feel sad. No, I’m absolutely not suicidal. But there are times, like now, when I just feel tired, of living. On and off, over the course of my life, I’ve had these spells. Many people do. So I have no notions that I’m special or handicapped by this.

The problem is that these bouts of depression interfere with my productivity. With my creativity. Especially with my writing. It drives me bananas to have all these thoughts in my head and not have the energy to write them down.

It’s like my brain invited me to a slumber party. “Let’s just lay around all day and do nothing,” it says. “We’ll have a pajama day, just me and you. It’ll be fine. You can write tomorrow. Or next week… Or never. You don’t have to write, you know.”

And so I sit, doing nothing other than watching TV and playing FreeCell Solitaire. There are days I don’t even have the energy to read a book or cook a meal. Lately, I’ve developed a pattern of either ordering out or going through– ugh! –the drive-thru for dinner. Nothing tastes great. So why bother.

I put on a good face, or try to, when I’m around friends. I make an effort to go out and do things. I don’t want my friends to worry. I don’t want anyone to worry. I’m not going to do anything stupid. Other than waste precious time. Which in turn, makes me feel like a shit for doing nothing. For not doing more, not being more. And so it becomes a pathetic cycle because beating myself up only makes me more tired.

I hope that writing this post is an indication that I’m coming out of it. I’ve never been able to figure out the whys or hows of it.

A good friend once told me that we celebrate anniversaries, whether we realize it or not. The anniversary of my father’s death is coming up, July 19th. I also carry the recent pain of having to put Ms. BlackBeary to sleep. We feel these things, internally, mentally. Even if we don’t acknowledge them, they’re there affecting mood and energy.

And then there’s all the soul-sucking, routine events. My regular job is frustrating, and draining, for no good reason, which only makes it more draining. There’s the novice writer who has decided to publish under my name. There’s falling short of expectations, mostly my own.

And there’s the doubts, especially the doubts about the quality of my writing.

There are lots of things I’ve internalized over this year of playing FreeCell. And they can and have become overwhelming at times.

But they’ll pass.

They always do.


Top Ten Reason I Haven’t Been Posting Lately

It’s obvious I haven’t been posting lately considering I only wrote one post in July. Here’s why, or maybe I should say, here are my excuses:

(10) I’m lazy.  No wait. Actually I’m not. That little voice in my head, the one that sounds like my mother, it says that I’m lazy. All the time. But it’s not true.

(9) I get easily distracted.

(8) I have needy friends. Okay, they’re not needy, but I need them which means I need to nurture those relationship. This one includes taking care of Ms. BlackBeary, my cat, who is eighteen years old, and a very demanding ol’ lady.

(7) I have a 9-to-5 job that requires my attention.

(6) I do need to eat and sleep. Contrary to that little voice, you know the one, I have to spend time on things besides blogging, things like eating, cleaning (myself and the condo), exercising. Sleeping.

(5) I’m in the middle of repainting my condo. Yes, and during a heat wave at that.

(4) Sometimes, I just don’t feel like sharing. Not today, obviously, but sometimes I’m just not in that place where I want to tell all to whomever is listening.

(3) I’ve been reading. Not only am I a member of a book club, but I read because I’m a writer. And because I enjoy it. Sometimes after everything else going on in my life, I need a refuge from the real world, a place to escape.

(2) I’ve been editing and re-editing, tweaking and wordsmithing a submission to a literary magazine. True by all accounts. I am a perfectionist, and so, even on the last read through, I was still changing things. It took me a  good three weeks to be sort’ov happy with a five thousand word submission. So you can imagine what my novel writing obsessions are like.  And yes, I finally let it out of my nit-picking little hands. I set it free. And I’m still having doubts about it.

(1) I’ve been writing, working on my current project.

Today at BlackBeary Condo: The Mystery of the Short White Whisker

IMG_20150525_191652BlackBeary stands in front of the vanity mirror, the only full-human-length mirror in the house, the only mirror low enough for her to admire herself, and something is wrong. Very wrong.

Her silly, clumsy human apparently got too frisky with the grooming shears, and now BlackBeary has half a whisker staring back at her like some neon sign flashing a warning about how crazy things get at her house, and it’s not just any whisker. It’s one of her stately, white whiskers.

Will it never end, BlackBeary asks herself. Will these things she has to put up with, the degradation, the disgrace, will it never end?

How embarrassing!

Today at BlackBeary Condo – Magic Milk

IMG_20150214_131740Recently, BlackBeary’s human has been providing BlackBeary with one of her favorite treats, milk, every night, and there are times during the day when she is quite wary of this new event. She loves her milk, even though it has to be lactose free milk, not straight from the cow type milk, but something is not quite right about her human being so generous with the treats.

BlackBeary never got milk every night, not before. And she wonders if her human is up to one of her villainous tricks again.

Each evening her human stands in the food fixing area with a small plastic bottle, the carton of milk, and a kitty plate. [BlackBeary doesn’t like eating off of human plates. She requires her own set of plates.] Anyway, during this ritual, her human extracts something from the plastic bottle, then hovers over the kitty plate, all secretive and such. The really suspicious part is that once milk has been poured onto the kitty plate, her human stirs the milk with a fork.

Scarily, and concerning is that once BlackBeary has consumed the delicious milk, she seems too calm to worry about her human’s questionable nightly behavior. Her heart beats a little slower, and she feels quite loving toward her evil, milk-brandishing human. She can’t seem to remember why her human annoys her so much.

And she can’t understand the desire to curl up beside her human and purr, but she does it anyway.

Her human must be changing the milk into some alchemical potion. But lately, BlackBeary isn’t sure she cares enough to worry about it. It’s magic the way it makes her feel, and for now, she can live with that.

Today at BlackBeary Condo – The Vet, Part Two

IMG_20141220_202215-2BlackBeary jerks awake from her eleventh nap of the day, frightened that she might still be at The Vet. [Cue ominous music.] Still drowsy she wonders: What if they gave her something, some awful drug to make her sleep? And what if her human left her there?

But the smell of the not-so-stinky, not-so-new sofa reassures her that she is at home and safe. Still she doesn’t rest easy. Every time she closes her eyes, the memory of the day’s events floods back like a really big flood, like a Katrina-big flood, like a flood of biblical proportions. Everything she fretted about all morning, all the time she was being starved, everything came true over the course of several hours.

First, weak from hunger, she was easily tricked into the nasty plastic prison. She was then thrust into a moving vehicle with a maniac– her human –at the wheel. The only saving grace of the trip was that, about two miles or so away from home, her human allowed her to come out of the prison. Another cat, a strange cat, no cat BlackBeary knows had obviously been in that awful mesh cage at some time since she last visited The Vet. [She’s pretty sure her human tried to clean it, but even five hundred gallons of Listerine can’t cover the smell of other.] So after much full-lung-capacity howling, BlackBeary’s human opened the awful prison and put BlackBeary on her lap where she rode during the trip to and from The Vet. Sadly, her human didn’t take the Miata which would have almost made the driving part almost okay. Instead they rode in the way-less-cool Mini because it was raining.

Once they were at The Vet, they were shunted into a claustrophobic blah-formica-clad room, painted in drab shades of beige that are probably supposed to be soothing. But aren’t.

BlackBeary searchedIMG_20141220_101638 every nook, every corner and cranny, although she still isn’t sure what a cranny is. There were no windows. The doors wouldn’t open, and the cracks beneath the doors were far too small to even shove a paw under, much less escape. And her human, well her human just sat there taking pictures, like that would help.

After a few minutes, Dr. “Hello, widdle pu’kin girl” Crow sauntered in, picked up BlackBeary and then commenced to talk to BlackBeary’s human as if BlackBeary weren’t even there. Dr. Crow, then took BlackBeary In The Back so that her human would never ever know all the insane, inhumane, Vincent Price-ish type torture they had in store for BlackBeary.

In The Back Dr. Crow’s assistants, Igor and Satan Jr., poked and probed and pinched and prodded BlackBeary, ’till she thought she would pass out from fright. They even pilled her with a little pill-gun. “Open wide widdle pu’kin girl…” Pop and the pill goes straight down BlackBeary’s throat. Aliens got nothing on Dr. Crow’s assistants what with their so-called thermometers and pill-guns. They even trimmed BlackBeary’s nails, like she’s not capable of doing her own grooming.

And when it was done, when all the torment was over, Dr. Crow put on her bestest, most no-I’m-not-evil smile and carried BlackBeary back to her totally-dumb, unsuspecting human.

Is it any wonder that BlackBeary’s blood pressure was sky high?

Today at BlackBeary Condo – The Vet

IMG_20141220_082545For BlackBeary, those words, those gruesome words– THE VET  –should be written in one of those old horror movie fonts, all red and blood-drippy. With ominous sound effects echoing in the background. The whole experience is torturous, like something out of a Vincent Price movie, starting with the food bowl being removed the night before.

Who thought up this evil torment?

It’s always the same. As if some demon straight out of hell has a record on repeat.

Last night, right before going to bed, BlackBeary’s human took up the precious food, leaving only a bowl of water. And then she tiptoed around sheepishly, as if the missing food bowl wouldn’t be noticed if she was quiet enough. As if it was just a normal day except there’s no food, not even any of the yucky dry food.

But for once, BlackBeary decided she wasn’t going to take it lying down, not even sort’ov laying down, even though a nap was preferable to what she had to do. When the loud, urgent meowing didn’t work, she realized it was time for drastic measures. So, she went into sweet-kitty, snuggle mode. After climbing up on the bed where her human was sleeping, she nudged her human until she woke. Then BlackBeary, in her most dangerous, most deceptive–ultra-ninja–guise, purred loudly, while giving her human sweet, sweet whisker kisses.

“I love you, Momma,” BlackBeary said in her softest kitty voice.

Her human reached over and petted her, but didn’t get up, didn’t even throw back the covers as if she might get up and fill a bowl to the brim with yummy, gravy-laden Fancy Feast. No, her human just burrowed down further under the covers, yawned and closed her eyes.

“I love you, Momma,” BlackBeary said more insistently.

To which her human did that stupid thing, she tried to speak Catish. The end result was that she mangled a bunch of words which made her seem ridiculous and somewhat repulsive. And for a moment, BlackBeary considered Momicide. After all her human was the one inflicting this anguish, this unnecessary suffering. The Vet certainly wouldn’t come to the condo and break down the door to get to BlackBeary.

No her human is the true evil behind this twice yearly event.

BlackBeary’s sure her human was planning on sleeping until the last-minute, but her plan was foiled. She got an on-call call from work at 5:30 AM. After that neither of them could go back to sleep, BlackBeary from miserable hunger, her human from insomnia.

BlackBeary is now pretending to ignore her human in hopes that her human will be groggy enough to fall asleep and miss their appointment, or even better, completely forget the visit to The Vet.

~ o ~

Will BlackBeary’s human fall asleep and miss the appointment? Will BlackBeary get a reprieve from… The Vet?

Stay tuned to see what happens…

Today at BlackBeary Condo – If you’d just learn to…

There’s a mystery that BlackBeary can’t solve, an absolute horror she can’t wrap her mind around. And no matter how hard she tries, no matter how brilliant she is, she has yet to decipher exactly why it happens so often. Or even once, for that matter.

Every morning her human pulls herself from bed and staggers into the cold-hard room that’s attached to the bedroom. Her human then strips off her night-clothes, pulls back a double curtain, fiddles with a silver knob on the wall, waits a few minutes, and then… and then BlackBeary’s world tips on its side and the absurd becomes real.

Her human steps into a spray of water. Yes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWater. She willingly steps into a spray of water.

But the real craziness is that her human apparently doesn’t mind. She seems to enjoy it, and it baffles BlackBeary that anyone or anything would voluntarily step into water when they don’t have to.

BlackBeary shivers remembering the times, few though they were, when her human bathed her the stupid human way. Her human would say all the nice words, coaxing BlackBeary with sweet sounds and sometimes with treats, lulling her into a false sense of security. And then wham, before BlackBeary had fully realized what was happening, her human had picked her up and headed for a sink full of water. Despite using all her strength, despite spreading her arms and legs as far as they could reach, despite holding onto the edges of the sink, despite screaming as loud as catly possible, eventually BlackBeary’s muscles tired and she ended up in the warm, soapy water.

During those moments, if she could have, BlackBeary would have killed her human. Because the only thing worse than being shoved into a sink full of warm water is coming out soaking wet, all cold and defeated. And then… and then being towel dried. Like that helps. Like a warm towel is a panacea for all the awfulness that had just occurred.

But even with those foul memories surfacing at the sight of her human standing under the spray of water, often times BlackBeary will peek around the back of the curtains hanging in the cold-hard room, will meow out a warning to her human. Because deep down she loves her human. After all, who else gives her Fancy Feast twice a day? After all, there are far more evil people in this world. That Kathleen is a perfect example.

When the love for her human outweighs her disgust at what her human is doing, BlackBeary’ll shove her face around the curtains, and giving her human the sad kitty eyes, she will say, There’s no need to do that. If you’d just learn to lick yourself… Come out of there. It’s just crazy.

Today at BlackBeary Condo – No Such Thing as Excess

It’s early, early morning, and BlackBeary is hungry, but her human won’t wake up, not even after a lot of nudging and singing. In her head, BlackBeary hears the opening lines from her version of the Golden Earring song, Twilight Zone:

Somewhere in a condo’s dark hallway,
There’s a cat starting to realize
That eternal fate has turn its back on her

It’s two A.M.

“It’s two A.M. and the food is gone,” BlackBeary sings. “I’m sitting here waitin’ the plate’s still warm. Maybe my human’s is tired of takin’ orders. Rawr, there’s a hunger on the loose, a growlin’ in my core.”

She purrs the words, the middle lines she can never remember, and then continues…

“Mrroww, I’m sneaking into the twilight zone. Should be a cat house, but doesn’t feel like home. My food’s disappeared, nowhere under moon and star. So what am I to do now that I’ve pushed too hard?”

Weak from the lack of Fancy Feast, BlackBeary curls up behind the stinky-new-smelling sofa, and ponders whether Edna Ferber was right. Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.

The silliness, the absurdity of having too much cat food clears her hunger haze for a moment, and her sanity returns. No, she thinks. She’s a cat. Excess is good. Especially an excess of Fancy Feast.

She pulls herself up, her hungry muscles screaming, and saunters down the dark hallway. It’s two A.M., time to wake up her human.

BlackBeary sings, “The human’ll come to know. When the claws hit her nose. Merrrrow, merrow, when the claws hit her nose.”


Today at BlackBeary Condo – Not the Medicine

IMG_20140918_192757.xIt’s that time of night again when BlackBeary’s human stands at the kitchen sink, her old, under-exercised body jiggling vigorously as she shakes the ugly brown bottle. Of medicine. If she’s feeling kind, BlackBeary admits that at least her human doesn’t try to be sneaky, doesn’t try to trick her about it. But that’s where her human is not so smart.

As soon as her human starts brandishing the bottle, BlackBeary leaps from wherever she happens to be so beautifully perched and runs toward the safety of the under-mattress. But halfway down the hall, she stops, turns, and waits to make sure her human is watching. Unable to resist taunting her human, BlackBeary gives her the scary eyes, and says, “You’ll never take me alive, bitch.” For a long moment, she holds her pose of defiance and then sprints into the bedroom and under the bed.

Obviously knowing she’s been bested, BlackBeary imagines her human slinking back to the stinky-new-smelling chair and reading until it’s time for bed.

But by the time her human’s ready for bed, BlackBeary has napped and has long since forgotten about the nasty little syringe of liquid medicine.

So, feeling in need of a good chin scratch, BlackBeary leaps up onto the bed and settles down just within arm’s reach of her human. She doesn’t like to make it too easy for her human, even when it means getting petted. She doesn’t want her human to think that BlackBeary needs her or wants to be around her. It’s just convenient to allow her human to pet her on the bed.

And just as BlackBeary is drifting off toward her seventeenth nap of the day, her human grabs her by the scruff of the neck.

“Not the medicine,” BlackBeary says, struggling to get away. “Please. Not the medicine.” She gives her human the sad round eyes, but it apparently isn’t effective enough.

“I don’t like this any more than you do.”

“Not the medicine, Momma.”

Despite her pleas, her human grabs the syringe and quickly squishes the nasty concoction into BlackBeary’s mouth.

The awful junk coats the inside of BlackBeary’s mouth making her want to gag. “Blakkkkkk.” And she does gag, drooling all over the quilt. That’ll teach her human to squish vile stuff into her mouth. “Ick. Ick. Ick.”

“I’m sorry, baby,” her human says. “I know you don’t like it.”

Her human takes BlackBeary into her arms and gives her a loving scratch behind the ears and a kiss on the head as if that will grant forgiveness.  She then gently sets BlackBeary on the bed and for a good long time, scratches her all over, knowing all the right spots. Especially the belly spots.

For the night, all is forgiven. But as BlackBeary once again drifts toward that seventeenth nap of the day, she sighs. “Sneaky bitch.”