I spent a chunk of this morning reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, even though it's not my designated Book For February. Cloud Atlas, which I started on the 1st of the month and picked up again exactly zero times thereafter, keeps sitting there staring at me accusingly, but I got so annoyed that the first chapter ended in the middle of a sentence that I just haven't been able to bring myself to continue it. Yet. I will! Probably. But first I'm going to finish Bird by Bird.
A huge part of Lamott's advice is, not surprisingly, that if you want to write (or "be a writer" or whatever), you just have to suck it up and write. Even if it's crap. Especially if it's crap, I guess, because you have to get through the crap to get to the good stuff. The same is obviously true for any type of creative endeavor; piles of shitty drawings and hours of painful-sounding attempts at music are the gateways to actual eventual proficiency. None of this is groundbreaking or anything. In fact, it's the most basic thing to remember. It's probably rule #1.
It's why I tried to set my 3-posts-per-week blogging goal. It's why I wanted to take a photo a day. It's why I've been trying to work on my own writing and help my writing buddy with hers. It's why, in a perfect world, in which I had unlimited levels of discipline and self-control, I would make time every day for continuing to learn to code or practice a language or do some drawing, regimented little blocks of time to work on stuff. Maybe not everything every day. That's probably insane. But "Photography Day!" or "Spanish Hour!" or things like that. If...and this is a huge IF, here...I could ever make myself actually stick to anything.
This is hardly a unique problem or personality flaw or whatever you want to call it. And I don't know, hyper-scheduling my life probably isn't the right answer either. I'm not even fishing for advice or trying to make this some sort of big confessional post or anything. Mostly I'm just trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I haven't written anything here in a week, and I missed my 3-posts-by-Tuesday quota, and my tendency is to get all frustrated and avoid the blog and stuff but NO. Instead I'm going to finish this post and hit Publish even though I know it's kind of meandering and self-indulgent and pointless. Because there's no other way to get it done.
Jan 8: I was in kind of a hurry and took a craptacular photo of El's fantabulous birthday cupcakes (magenta frosting with sparkly sprinkles, yo...she was over the freaking moon). At the time, I said to myself, "Welp. This will just be a cropping/processing challenge. Surely I can figure out some way for this craptacular photo to look decent." Um. Not so much. But yay cupcakes!
Jan 10: Lights inside, lights outside. It is neither high art nor high concept. But it is kinda pretty, maybe.
(also) Jan 10: Sleeping Leo on a hairy blanket.
Jan 11: Now, before you recoil in horror that we would treat a book so terribly, consider this. Between the two of us (okay, mostly Tom), we have literally read this book apart. Seriously. I can pretty reliably tell when Tom's stressed out with work (or, previously, grad school) because this book will be in his hands.
Jan 12: Behold, the majestic Leo. Whose eye boogers I painstakingly cloned out.
Jan 31: Um yes. There is something of a gap there, date-wise. Whoops. Anyway. The top photo amuses the hell out of me because it makes it incredibly clear that we live on the side of the street that gets the morning sun in our front yard. And this time of year, there are a lot of morning clouds and not so much of the morning sun. We still had snow covering our whole lawn for days after the snow on the other side of the street had melted away. Go figure.
Bottom photo is the snow fort that Soren & Eleri built with the neighbor kids. They were very proud of it. And despite several days in a row of not-freezing temperatures, it's still hanging on out there in the yard. Hah. Way to go, kiddos.
So, uh, yeah. I was going to try to read a book a month. And let's be real, I'll probably still average at least a book a month over the course of the year. But I made it a whopping 25% of the way through January's book (according to the Kindle app on my iPod). It just wasn't all that riveting. I didn't exactly read a ton of fanfiction last month either (did a lot more writing than reading), so there's that. Or something. Anyway, possibly I will come back to Cocaine Blues later in the year. Possibly not. We'll see.
On Saturday I went ahead and started one of the books I've got checked out from the library. Cloud Atlas was touted by someone online as "the sort of book for people who like Doctor Who." Well. I am precisely that sort of person, so I went ahead and picked it up. I'm through the first chapter, and though I'm not quite sure yet about the whole Whovian-appreciation claim, it's not a bad yarn thus far.
I have also failed miserably on the photo-a-day front. I made it a week! Whoo! Reinvested aaaaaaand then crapped right back out again. In a minute I'll go through my camera's memory card and see what's actually on there and put it up in a post. I did also snag a cool photography book from the library, so if I ever actually get around to cracking that, I might have some renewed inspiration or something.
All right. Enough beating myself up holding myself accountable to my own goals. For now. Onward!
In our house, it is unfortunately not that rare an occurrence to be awoken by the sounds of cat yarf. This morning, though, my customary chagrin rapidly gave way to concern. You see enough cat puke on a regular basis, you know pretty much immediately when something's out of the ordinary.
So I called the vet. In California, our vet kind of diplomatically suggested that, since our cats are indoor-only, we maybe shouldn't bother bringing Loki in for things like vaccinations except when required by law (moving out of state, for example). He was not exactly what you'd call a model patient. But I made him an appointment this morning, because something was very obviously wrong. I emailed Tom and said, "I'm honestly not sure he's walking away from this one."
So, you know, I thought I was prepared. Then again, if any cat has used up all nine proverbial lives, it's that cat. Between the multiple urinary blockages and the "holy shit this is not compatible with toddlers in the house" temper and various bloody injuries, never mind the ungodly amounts of plastic he managed to eat, Loki earned reprieve after reprieve. So yeah, I suppose there was some maybe-not-so-small part of me that thought somehow he would pull off another miracle save. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
Bone cancer was the most likely diagnosis. It would have cost a thousand dollars just to confirm what the initial blood test was strongly suggesting. Really there weren't any other likely options. Weekly blood tests and rounds of chemotherapy would have been the course of treatment, only to prolong his life by a few months. That's not an especially kind thing to do to any animal, in my opinion, and for that particular cat, I can't think of a worse punishment.
So I signed the form. Loki was put to sleep a little after noon today. It was harder than I anticipated, but it was the right choice. The kids were sad when I told them (they knew he was sick and that I was taking him to the vet, but I hadn't let on just how sick I feared he was), but they seem to be handling it more or less okay. Soren...well...it appears there is such a thing as being too up-front and pragmatic with kids at this age. He asked what was being done with Loki's body, and I explained that he would be cremated. Soren did not think this was a good option and wondered if we should get his body back "so we could use the meat." Uh, you think we should eat Loki? "Well yes. We should make sure that his life wasn't wasted." (This, folks, is what comes of telling your precocious five year-old to be sure and eat all of the chicken/pork/beef on his dinner plate out of respect for the animal that died so we could eat it. Sigh.)
Anyway. It's going to be a little weird without him around, of course. It was eleven years ago next month that I brought the "feisty" little orange fluffball down to Tom's place in California. He's been with us almost as long as we've been together. It'll likely be a while before I stop expecting to see him when I get home. As much as he feared strangers, he almost never failed to come running whenever the front door opened. Granted, I'm pretty sure he was just always hoping it'd be Tom, but I still enjoyed that quirk of his.
I'll miss you, big orange angerball. I'm sorry you got sick, and I'm sorry you had to spend your last morning uncomfortable and freaked out at the vet's. But you had a good run of it, and for all your grouchiness, you were loved. Which I guess is all any of us can hope for, in the end.
Eleri had her four-year checkup today. She grew three inches in the last year! The results of her vision screening were a bit dubious; we'll have to keep tabs on it and check again next year. Hope the poor lass hasn't inherited my eyesight.
All three of us had flu shots, plus El had 2 other vaccinations, so despite the 21-degree temperature outside, we of course went out for our customary ice cream cones afterward.