Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Healing Process

The last post I wrote about Ollie started with something like "It's hard to believe we've gone a full week Ollie-free".  Well, now almost a full month has gone by.  Sometimes I still think I hear his collar jangling as he's coming down the stairs, or I think I catch a glimpse of him sprawled out in front of the sliding glass door as he basks in the sunbeams.  But for the most part, I have accepted that he's gone and that I'm always going to miss him.  Always.

That being said, I've been somewhat antsy to get over my sadness.  There's just been this weird void hanging over me, like something is missing.  And so the obsessive searching for an orange kitten began.  On Monday, I checked out a few more websites for area shelters, since we still haven't heard back from the one where we put our names on a waiting list for a kitten a couple weeks ago.  Fate clearly stepped in when I stumbled across this little guy's pic on the Parma Animal Shelter's website:

His name was Nemo.

And. I. Had. To. Have. Him!!!!

As soon I got home from work, I called the shelter to see if he was still available.  After a few moments of someone shuffling around papers as my heart thumped frantically in my chest, the lady came back and said yes, he was available but they'd have to contact his foster mom first.  She told me the foster mom would call me back and let me know when I could meet him.

Oh well, so a little more waiting wouldn't kill me.  At least he hadn't been adopted yet.  Then the doubts started setting in...what if he HAD been adopted and their files hadn't been updated?  Five minutes and many worried thoughts later, my phone rang. 

It was the shelter again, calling to tell me that Nemo was actually at the shelter, and I could come see him anytime.


I called Dan and told him the good news.  He had some running around to do and wouldn't be home in time to get to the shelter with me, so I said we could just go on Tuesday.  But then he said, but what if someone else snatches him up tonight? 


So I ran out the door, jumped into my car, and was at the shelter about 5 seconds later.  Or at least that's what it felt like.

I spotted Nemo immediately, dozing in a little kitty hammock in his cage.  He didn't even budge when I poked my finger in and stroked his fuzzy cheek- dude was OUT.

(My computer is not allowing me to flip that pic around...sorry)

Anyway, so one of the shelter workers came up to me and asked if I was interested in Nemo, and I said yes, absolutely.  So she lifted him out of his comfy spot and took us back to a caged in area so we could get acquainted.  He was very groggy at first and just lay there in my lap, letting me pet him. 

Then a ping pong ball caught his eye.

And then the tube on the floor for him to run through did.

And then the ribbons dangling from the wall did.

And then the ping pong ball did again.

He zipped back and forth through the tiny room, chasing evvvverything.  But when I held my hand out, he'd come right to me for head bumpies, sometimes even flopping on the ground for belly rubs.

Needless to say, I was in L-O-V-E.  Big time.

I signed the paperwork and paid the adoption fee, but unfortunately he is still due for one more shot on Friday.  So I couldn't take him home with me that night.  It was so hard to leave him there!  But he'll be coming home tomorrow, and really, that works out for the best.  I'll have time to go home and get his "room" all ready for him, and then we'll have the whole weekend to get him acquainted with Stew and the house and us. 

Oh yea, and his name has been changed to Gus.  Augustus Oliver Nativio, named for my favorite character in one of my favorite books by John Green, and of course, my Ollie.

Welcome to the family, Gus!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Miss Independent

Now you all have that Kelly Clarkson song in your head.  Sssssssorry.

Anyway, this weekend the husband is out of town on his annual road trip to Indiana to visit a college friend.  It's one of the rare occasions when we're away from each other for more than a night, so I have a few days to myself at home.  Of course I have plans made- happy hour tonight with Barra, and cousin/pedis/shopping/couch/wine/snacks time tomorrow with Cleen- but for the most part I'm on my own.

And I'm actually like, really, really looking forward to it.

This is nothing against my husband, not at all.  I love spending time with him and having him around, of course.  I miss him when he's not there, making me laugh at night before we go to sleep and stuff.  I'll be very happy when he gets home safely on Sunday afternoon.

But it's weird to me how much I've changed over the past several years.  God, I used to completely panic at the thought of being alone.  It was strange, because I have always considered myself fairly independent.  Except about calling to order pizza, I hate doing that.  There was a strange period of time in my mid-to-late twenties though when I couldn't bear the thought of just sitting around the house by myself, especially on a Friday or Saturday night.  I always had to have some sort of plans or schedule.  Always.  It's almost painful and embarrassing to think back about those times.

But the thought of an evening in, just enjoying the quiet and my dumb TV shows and perhaps writing or reading a bit is like the best thing ever.  Does this mean I'm old?  Probably.  But regardless, no longer do I panic over the thought of chilling out by myself with no one to talk to but the cat.  I love it.  I totally look forward to my "Joanna" time and cherish those rare moments when I can just sit and be me, all by myself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bangs, Day 104

Lookee who's bangs are now officially long enough to clip back without having to hairspray them to death!


Of course, now I'm getting the itch to cut them again...

Monday, June 11, 2012

A week later

It's hard to believe that we've already gone a full week Ollie-free.  I'm doing better, truly I am- most of the time.  I think I'm almost surprised about how well I'm doing, to be honest.  I remember telling Dan a few years ago that when Ollie goes he's going to have to commit me- I'm going to be that big of a mess.  And for the first couple days, I was.  I couldn't even think about him without tearing up.  Now I just feel...sort of empty, I guess.

But time really does heal.  I can now talk about him without getting misty; now it just feels like part of my heart is getting tugged on.  Our other cat, Stewie, seems to be clingier than he ever was before though.  I'm afraid he's lonely without Ollie around for him to bully.  It's not like they were ever the best of friends, but Stew had Ollie around his whole life.  So I just wonder if he misses him, too.

Saturday, Dan and I were out running around, just keeping busy like we have been.  On a whim, we decided to go to the local animal shelter just to take a little look-see at what they had.  Well, the shelter closest to us was closed.  So we went to one the next town over.  It was closed, too.  It almost seemed like someone was trying to tell us something, like hey guys, isn't it a little soon to get another cat?  Regardless, we went to one more shelter about 20 minutes away.  They were open. 

It was a very nice facility, with some cats roaming freely, some sitting outside on a screened-in porch, soaking up the sun.  Others were in cages as per usual.  Right off the bat I asked if they had any ginger cats and they led us to a cage with this ginormous, beautiful 3 year-old orange tabby.  He was such a sweetie, already declawed and ready to go. 

And I felt like the hugest jerk when I said, um, do you have any kittens?

It's not that I wouldn't have wanted that orange guy under different circumstances.  It's just that Stew can be on the territorial side, and he's also a huge sissy, and I'm just scared if we bring in a cat bigger than him (a feat difficult to achieve, I assure you) there's not a chance in hell they'd get along. 

Luckily for us, there are currently about 30 kittens in foster care.  They are almost of age to be adopted.  We put our names on the list for one- I was even allowed to request an orange one.

I don't think a new cat will replace Ollie, certainly not.  But there's so much love in my heart that I'm dying to share.  I think a part of me always knew I would get another cat, even though I'm still a little bit torn over the idea.  Ollie was MY cat, through and through.  I can't think of one instance when I was home and he wasn't somewhere near me or ON me, or at least greeting me at the door when I walked in.  At first I was afraid that no other cat could possibly compare to him, but now I'm realizing that's ok.  It'll be different, but a good different.  A new beginning.

Hopefully Stew will agree.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My hurts...

The summer of 2002 was a time of change.  I'd finally moved out on my own into a townhouse with two roommates.  Before then, my life had been a pretty big mess.  I'd gone through a heartwrenching breakup and was so, so ready for a change in scenery.  So that's exactly what I got when I moved a good 50 miles south and west from my hometown.

I'd wanted a cat my entire life.  I was the kid who used to bring home strays and try to convince my allergy-ridden father that we HAD to keep them.  We never did, obviously.  So when I moved into my own place, I was happy that my roommates were agreeable about getting a pet.  Fate stepped in one day when visiting a friend- to his surprise, his cat had just had a kitten.  That's right, A kitten.  Just one.  When I laid eyes on this tiny, light orange kitten who more resembled a baby squirrel, it was love at first sight.  About a month later, he was mine, and we named him Oliver, but mostly called him Ollie unless he was being bad (which was often).  Over the years he acquired so many other names - Ols, Senor Pantalones, Ollers, Mr. Pants, Tiny Pants, and so on.

He was a holy effing terror for a good year and a half.  He got into evvvverything.  He would climb the screen doors and was constantly jumping on the kitchen counter looking for crumbs.  He would attack at any given moment- forget jiggling your leg or dangling your hand over an armrest.  Everything was a toy worth gnawing on to him.

He didn't really mellow out until my now-husband moved in and we brought home Stewie, a tiny, bright orange and white furball.  Suddenly he had a friend to terrorize.  None of his other bad habits stopped, like the jumping on the counter thing, but he at least calmed down quite a bit and stopped attacking us.  He actually turned into a gentle, sweet, snuggly little lap cat.

At his largest, Ollie weighed around 8 pounds.  As he grew older, so did his medical conditions.  He was diagnosed with IBD and was constantly having accidents around the house.  I knew he couldn't help it but that didn't make it any easier when I had to clean up the stinky messes.  He lost weight, gained it back, lost it again, until he finally seemed to settle in at around 5-6 pounds.  We tried everything to control his problems- he was on a special diet, a probiotic, an antibiotic, a steriod, and monthly B-12 shots.  I know that we prolonged his life by keeping him on this routine for so long.

Last week, about a month away from his tenth birthday, I could tell Ollie was starting to give up his fight.  He couldn't keep any food down, finally losing his appetite completely over the weekend.  He did nothing but sleep or lay in his little loaf-of-bread pose.  I had to physically carry him to the bathroom faucet to drink and tried giving him all his favorite foods- chicken, tuna, turkey- and he'd take a bite or two and walk away. All he really wanted to do was snuggle, so I kept him by my side as much as I possibly could.

Yesterday afternoon the vet called with the bad news.  There was a mass of some sort causing his organs to shift and stretch out.  He wasn't sure if it was a tumor or enlarged liver, but either way it wasn't good.  We could do an ultrasound to find out what it was for sure, but the end result was not going to change.  Ollie was too frail and sickly to go through any sort of treatments.  It was time to let him go.

We got to visit with him for a while before the procedure, and when the vet tech brought him in the room it was the first time I'd heard him purr in days.  It broke my heart into a million pieces, but at the same time he knew he was loved.  I stayed with him until he went to sleep forever, letting him snuggle in my lap just like he always did.

The house seems so, so strange without him there.  I'll miss him following me around, seeing him basking in the sunbeams on the kitchen counter in the morning and the sliding glass door in the evening.  I'll miss the light weight of him curled up on my legs at night.  I'll miss the sound of his rattley purr when he'd nuzzle his blanket, still so much like a kitten.  I'll miss him trying to snuggle in on my lap, even though it's blocked by my lap top.  I'll even miss yelling at him to get down from the counter and to get out of the garbage.

You were one in a million, Ollie.  You'll be in my heart forever.

Friday, June 1, 2012

small dreams

Geez, I've been meaning to write a blog post all week!  Somehow it just hasn't happened...whoops.

Well, since I've last posted I have officially finished my first round of revisions on Restless.  It will be in the hands of all my readers after this weekend....eeeeek!  It's always a little scary to get those notes back and hear what they think.  Not that anyone has ever been negative, but still.  When you spend so much of your life working on something, put so much of yourself into it, it can make the anticipation of getting feedback almost take your breath away. 

So, while they read I plan to keep busy, and the good thing is that the WIP is out of control.  Meaning, I'm writing like a fiend.  It's already over 5,100 words!  I have a good idea how this one is going to turn out, too.  I'm not a plotter by any stretch of the imagination, but I already know that if the way I'm writing it right now doesn't work out, I'll be able to somewhat easily manipulate it so it does make sense.  And none of this is probably making any sense at all because only a couple people have laid eyes on it so far...

Anyway, so I've been thinking a lot lately about how my life has really turned out so much differently from how I ever thought it would when I was a child.  Once upon a time, I was POSITIVE I would end up living in New York, dancing or acting.  Unfortunately, bad feet ultimately kept me from dancing- by my senior year of high school I knew it wasn't in the cards.  I always loved acting, too, but I also sort of fell out of that early on, except for a brief stint in summer community theater when I was 26, playing Bebe in A Chorus Line. 

So now, I'm keeping my dreams on the smaller side.  Writing is something I can easily do in my free time, it's something I feel like I'm getting better and better at the more I do it.  The key is being inspired by good books, I think, and that feeling I get when someone reads a passage I've written and tells me how much they've enjoyed it.  There's no better feeling than that.  Who knows if I'll ever end up published, but one thing is for sure- I'll never stop writing and sharing.  Never.