1. How old is your oldest living relative?
2. As an adult, have you ever been in a fight?
3. Have you ever been slapped in public?
4. What’s the largest non-human animal you’ve seen in person?
5. Have you ever had serious surgery?
6. If you could only compare the novels of Cormac McCarthy to one kind of garbage, what kind would it be?
7. Who’d be your dream-casting for Superman?
8. What’s the greatest amount of physical pain you’ve ever been in?
9. Do you believe in a god or gods?
10. Have you ever been good-and-properly drunk?
11. To the best of your knowledge, what’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
12. Which Star Trek character would the person who knows you best compare you to?
13. Have you ever had your life radically changed by a book?
14. Is there a universally-beloved classic you simply don’t like?
15. What is your dream profession?
16. Is there an entire genre of reading you’re bugged you haven’t fully explored?
17. When you people-watch, what’s the main thing you notice?
18. Barring the unforeseeable, what’s the most likely way you’ll die?
19. Have you visited any of the world’s wonders, ancient or modern?
20. What are your main superpowers?
21. Have you ever met any famous people?
22. Have you ever slept out of doors?
23. Would you make a good parent? Or, if you’re already a parent, how much do your children hate you?
24. New Kids on the Block or the Backstreet Boys?
25. Have you ever been on-stage in front of an audience?
26. At the moment, what’s your favorite non-BookTube YouTube channel?
27. Have you ever passed out while sober?
28. How strong are you? Physically? Intellectually? Emotionally?
Her message was that when grief moves through us, we must find ways to help it keep moving. If it gets stuck, we will sink and sink and sink. That is exactly how I felt. It was like my every joint had a weight tied to it. I wish I meant that figuratively. It was a struggle to move. I thought I needed time, but I needed a way to move it through. The grief piled up and it only got worse.
My grief isn’t just about Zophia. Zophia’s passing was a trigger for past loss and anticipated future loss. My mom passed away about a year and a half ago. That pain is moving through me like a block of cement, as in, it hasn’t been. It has just been sitting there, weighing me down.
Yesterday, we went to the beach. For me, it was urgent care. I don’t know if it is a human thing or just a me thing, but I heal when I get into the ocean. It didn’t solve every issue, but it lifted me up enough that I could start lifting myself up again. Before yesterday, there was no chance. I struggled just to get to the ocean because I was so low.
Last week, my cousin did a Tarot reading on me, which turned out to be surprisingly accurate. I only expected it to be a fun thing to do, but in the end, I was disturbed by how vulnerable it made me feel. We knew each other as kids, but we don’t know each other as adults. We took very different life trajectories and we’re both shy and private people, so it’s no big surprise that we don’t know each other well. I wanted her to know that she was doing a good job, so I told her that she was right on. Then, my emotional life was laid out right in front of her, which made me feel over-exposed.
Despite this depressing sounding blog entry, I am truly feeling better than before.
A couple of days ago, Adam and I wandered around the city at night. This is partly because I could not get moving before the sun went down and partly because it was too hot to go out during the day, anyway. We happened upon the Tokyo Metropolitan Building. It’s a building where anyone can go up to the top and look at for free. We didn’t realize that it would be open at 9:30PM, but it was, so we went up and looked at Tokyo at night from the 45th floor.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but that was because I was in such a place that I couldn’t appreciate much of anything. Now that I’m feeling a bit better I can appreciate it.
There are so many reasons that I can say that I have a really good life.
Anyway, for now, I just want to do a meme. So here it is:
What do you think of when you think of Australia? I wish I knew more about it. I have a few friends/acquaintances from there. They are about as diverse as Americans. It seems like an exotic and hot place. Another friend of mine has a business selling kangaroo meat in Japan and now it’s hard to think about Australia without remembering that.
Birthstone? My birthday is in July, so my birthstone is ruby. The only ruby thing I own is a ruby and diamond necklace given to me by an ex. I’ve always had the kind of lifestyle that meant that it was a very bad idea for me to wear fine or expensive jewelry unless I wanted it broken or lost.
Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time? My walking shoes are a pair of blue and white sneakers. I wear minimalist running shoes for running. I grew up barefoot in Southern California, so wearing shoes at all feels like an imposition. That is why I practice things like yoga, karate, and dance.
When is the last time you went to the mall? A couple of weeks ago, we went to a mall that has a place that sells vegan soft serve. I buy almost everything online.
Do you wash your car or let the car wash do it? I don’t own a car. When I did own a car, I never washed it myself. I went to the car wash occasionally, but not often enough. I begrudge myself simple pleasures because they feel too indulgent and then I wonder why I am so sad.
Five ways to win your heart:
1. Show me that you’re paying attention
2. Show me that you care
3. Show me that you’re trying
That’s it, I only have three
4. Ok, give me a vegan dessert. I mean, come on, who doesn’t like dessert?
Have you met anyone famous? My memory is really bad for this kind of stuff. Plus, I watch the same 3 TV shows and 5 movies over and over again and I rarely even do that. Half of them are starring people who aren’t even alive anymore. So, I could be meeting famous people every day and never know it. However, I can remember meeting Barry Williams (Greg Brady) when I was a Freshman in college and Elizabeth Gilbert before she was hugely famous (my one big fangirl moment).
Do you use cookbooks or do you try to find recipes online? Both, I suppose, but I don’t do either of those things much. I’m a competent enough cook and other people’s recipes often don’t suit my tastes.
I push you into a room and lock the door. I leave you there for 6 hours. The walls are chalkboards and in the middle of the room, there is a box of colored chalk. What will be written/drawn on the walls when I let you out? Probably, “I need to pee,” several hundred times because, seriously? Six hours? I’m sure that I would write a bunch of random stuff and erase it and then maybe practice my kanji.
What is the best thing about a Barbie doll? I don’t know, I’ve never owned one.
This morning, I was getting my morning Gilmore Girls fix, as one does, and it was the episode where they first visit the Yale campus. While I have never been to the Yale campus, I used to live on the East Coast where you can barely walk a block without tripping over an Ivy League college.
Also, one of my favorite memories of Philadelphia is strolling along the Schuylkill River watching the crew teams from various local universities practice after walking past the university boathouses that look like they have been there for a very long time. They aren’t all Ivy League schools, of course, but the whole atmosphere has an ivy scent to it.
So, watching that episode made me nostalgic and homesick. It wasn’t about Yale, specifically, like I said, I’ve never been there. It was about seeing the big, heavy buildings (or facsimiles) and the sense of tradition and grandeur. The city of Philadelphia is dripping with that kind of stuff and it’s all up and down the East Coast.
I know that, ideally, it represents cultural identity, the history of human knowledge, and a view towards human expansion, but it is also about keeping the establishment established. It’s about keeping outdated ideas in circulation and maintaining classism.
Yes, the existence of classism makes me angry, but there is still a small part of me that is jealous. There’s an even smaller part of me that believes that I belong there. We all do it, of course. History was recorded by the aristocracy and that makes us identify with them. They write themselves as the heroes of history and it is only natural that we identify with the heroes of any story. The belief that classism will ever favor us, simply because we identify with the rich, is ridiculous.
Anyway, I went to college in the Midwest, but I lived in Philadelphia for 13 years, which is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere, so it still feels like home. Whenever I am reminded of those things, I am reminded of Philadelphia.
It also kind of reminds me how this white Australian guy once asked me in English to explain to him why I believed European culture has influenced most of the world.
Moving on. This week, I am resting, and I’m doing it for real this time. I’m not just working less. I’m thinking less.
During times when I would have normally listened to audiobooks (doing housework, going for walks, etc.) I am choosing either music or silence. I desperately need to let my brain to relax.
For the past several months, whenever I wasn’t forcing myself to create content, I was force feeding myself content. There were many times when I enjoyed myself. There were also many times when I would have rather rested but didn’t.
Not surprisingly, I mentally crashed and burned. I’m still a burning wreckage, but I’m letting the flames eat it all up.
Right now, I feel like I need to apologize for how little I actually accomplished, despite the soul-crushing effort I’ve been putting into content creation.
My next step is rebuilding. For me, this is to continue my journey towards self-acceptance or at least to reach some state that is not self-loathing. This is what I need.
Lastly, my cousin appears to be starting a tarot reading business? I’m not sure. All I know is that she was offering free readings (to build her practice) and I jumped on it.
I’m not one to turn down a free psychic anything, so, at first, I didn’t think much about it. However, doing something like this has brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings around my Reiki practice. That small shift in focus seems to have changed things for me.
Of course, I do energy work every day, but I’ve been approaching it like another task to get done. Yoga is like that, too. Sometimes, I just go through the motions. Sometimes, I put my attention on it and intention behind it and that is when it is most rewarding. Today, I did yoga. I was more focused, and therefore, it was more rewarding. Or maybe I feel like it was more rewarding because I have been letting my brain rest more.
The funny thing is, I asked my cousin to do a reading on my career and even before she has done the reading, I feel like I’m already getting answers.
I wrote a review of the book Green Girl, where I talked about the impossible standards that girls and women are expected to achieve. When I wrote about that, I’d been distant from it. I thought I was mostly over the idea that I must meet the societal standards of femaleness to be considered acceptable. I have come so far in self-acceptance.
Then, while I was meditating, fear rose up from my belly and into my chest. I’m afraid that I can’t get enough stuff done. The bar for “enough” is set impossibly high. Well, impossible for me. I still believe that I can’t be acceptable unless I achieve some level of success and looking a certain way while doing it.
I spent more time than usual meditating today. I needed it because I’ve been panicking a lot over my inability to get enough stuff done. I don’t have any set schedule or daily routine. I do things when I feel like they need to be done, but everything feels like it needs to be done. It’s impossible to do one thing without sacrificing another. I might achieve one goal, but rather than feel triumphant, I get irritating with myself for not having accomplished a different goal.
I haven’t been giving myself enough time to rest. I know this, but I also have this anxiety eating away at me that tells me that I must keep striving.
Speaking of which, I have been exercising more, lately, but it’s not to manipulate the shape of my body, I swear. I can’t function well if I’m not getting physical activity. I went running yesterday. Those aren’t tan lines on my ankles. They are dirt lines.
Running is my way of escaping the world. When I’m running, I only use my phone to track my progress and listen to music. The constant movement makes me feel like I’m escaping.
It is as though I am running away from the things that trap me in my life. I’m putting them all behind me. Of course, eventually, I turn back and go toward home—towards the things that stress me out. Once I get home, I drink water and then shower. I log my run into my app. I post about it in my fitness accountability group (don’t we all have one?) and then fall right back into the life I’d pretended that I could outrun.
Last week, I’d decided that I needed more joy in my life. I moved in that direction a little bit, but as soon as I was able, I went right back to wanting productivity out of myself. I am addicted to the idea that it is possible to become an infinitely desirable thing. I believe that I can somehow have a life and a body that is beyond criticism. We all know that it is impossible. No one is beyond criticism. Why do we keep demanding that from ourselves?
This past weekend, we went to the Lantern Festival for Marine Day at Odaiba. I tried to find some information about the significance of the lanterns, but I found none. I think it is a typical Japanese thing—the aesthetic is the meaning of it—lanterns are pretty, fun, and they make great Instagram material, so why not?
We walked along the beach until we were out of range of the festival and sat down to enjoy the sea and the view, which is really the best way to appreciate the ocean. Marine Day or Sea Day, depending on how you translate it, is about appreciating the bounty that is given to us by the ocean. I love anything that celebrates nature. I think that’s why I love nature-based religions.
Sitting there in the breeze and smelling the salt air, for the first time in a long time, I was content. I’ve been depressed a lot, lately. It’s mostly about grieving Zophia and worrying about Dylan. Today’s world doesn’t pause for grief, though. I think this is the reason we struggle to process loss. Everyone experiences loss, yet we don’t allow for it.
So, earlier today, I decided to listen to the audiobook version of Lauren Graham’s commencement speech called, “In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It.” I was looking for a quick and easy to pick me up and that did the trick.
There were only two bits of advice in it that I could appreciate, but they were the two that I needed.
The first was to embrace the joy of being yourself. It sounds lame in isolation, but in context, it’s about the fear of judgment. During a long-running play, Graham prioritized other people’s opinions of her acting, and the fear of their judgment paralyzed to her ability to perform well. I am not an actor, but the fear of judgment is paralyzing to me, too. She reminded me that I don’t need anyone else’s approval to be happy. The joy of other people’s approval is a fleeting, anyway. I can offer myself joy by approving of myself. I can simply enjoy being myself. I didn’t interpret “the joy of being myself” as an instruction to embrace authenticity. I see it as embracing the human experience. Find the joy of being inside your perspective. The book doesn’t put it like that, but that’s what I got out of it, anyway. Maybe it still sounds lame, I don’t know.
The second piece of advice was to respect yourself and your work as if you have already achieved the success that you desire. I think it’s a great idea. The problem is that once I started to inhabit that feeling, I got anxious that I was about to lose everything I’d achieved. Only I could get anxious over the possibility of losing my imaginary success. Heh. Oh well.
During meditation today, I had the weirdest premonition that a year from now, I will be feeling freer than I have ever felt before. I have no idea what circumstances would lead to that feeling. I’m curious about that. All good, I hope.
On Friday, Dylan didn’t seem like he was doing well. His appetite was low, and he was lethargic. We’ve given him three subcutaneous injections since then. He bounced back after the first one and every day he seems a little more himself.
I am worried that I don’t have enough time to write, but I also feel like I can’t move forward until after I have written.
This morning, we gave Dylan another subcutaneous injection and because he’s stronger now, he fights harder. He’s always been a cat that hates needles, so it’s not surprising. He wails and screams and struggles like he’s being killed and, as soon as it’s over, trots away like nothing happened.
He ate a lot afterward, which is good, he needs to put on weight. He’s napping now.
I did not fare as well, though. I felt fine this morning, like I could face the day, and then after the treatment, I was shaky and anxious and struggling to move forward.
I have comments to write on social media and I was paralyzed with the fear of not being able to write good responses. I have this way of elevating the stakes on the simplest things.
Last week, I came to the realization that I don’t have anything to offer that is any more special than what anyone else has to offer. That made me really depressed for a day or two.
I figured that it means that I have two choices:
1. I can quit social media
2. I can continue for my own enjoyment, only
I decided that, at least for now, I’m going with option 2. It is my plan to do my best to disregard the responses I get to any of my posts. I say, “do my best” because I know how hard it is to not get caught up in the desire for approval.
Getting caught up in the desire for approval seems harmless when I’m receiving it. However, when I receive it and allow the attention to feel relevant, then I create an expectation for more attention and approval. That always leads me down a dark road. So, no more.
It’s like when I was writing my book. If I thought at all about the book’s future, I became paralyzed with fear that it would not be good enough. So, every time the thought crossed my mind, I’d forgive myself, and then gently remove it. The self-forgiveness is key. As a human being, I will always backslide. Maybe there are other human beings that don’t, but I am one that backslides constantly, so self-forgiveness is a necessity.
Being me is hard enough without beating myself up for being me.
Anyway, my posts will not be special or unique, but they will represent me. Even if who I am doesn’t matter to anyone else, it matters to me.
Speaking of backsliding, I fell down the rabbit-hole that is google analytics. Someone had accessed a page on my website that I didn’t know had existed. I spent a whole bunch of time on my web server, searching and getting frustrating trying to figure out how that page existed. I finally realized it was another page that WordPress automatically generates. Oy.
I slept late this morning even though Dylan attempted to wake me up several times with a lot of kneading and meowing. I was so tired that I kept falling back asleep. I think it is the stress of the past couple of weeks catching up to me. It was just a few days ago that I jumped up whenever I heard him meow to make sure he was ok.
It reminds me of how sleep deprived I used to stay when I was younger. I was constantly going. This was how I managed my anxiety: exhaustion.
Anyway, today, I felt less crazy than I’ve been feeling, lately, and I’ve concluded that the qigong, meditation, and yoga yesterday is what made the difference. So, I did qigong and meditation again today. I’m too sore from yesterday’s yoga to do it again today.
It’s cooler today and raining. Earlier in the week, it was hot and humid because a typhoon was pushing hot and humid air north ahead of itself. It seems to have mostly missed us, but we got some rain and much cooler air. I have the window open and it’s almost chilly.
I am feeling oddly relaxed. This morning, while I was doing housework, I listened to some episodes of Gilmore Girls and over-the-top quaint comfortableness of it didn’t feel obscene. It was actually kind of nice.
I did some qigong and meditation and I’m feeling a bit better.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve tried to get back to my normal routine. My normal routine consists of a lot of social media. Even before Zophia died, I was getting kind of crazy. My social media use is like being on an amusement park ride that never ends. It goes around and around, and it’s supposed to be fun. After a while, I’m nauseous and tired, but there is no stopping it. I told Adam about that feeling and he said that it sounded like I felt a lack of control in my life. Perhaps that’s what it is.
This morning, my anxiety had gotten to the point where I was no longer sure what was real, anymore. Again, this mostly had to do with social media. The presence of fake accounts makes it harder, I think. Also, the varying degrees of commitment to social media and our real lives makes the whole internet world feel slippery and confusing.
During my meditation, I realized that my current anxiety stems from my fear of not being good enough. I will never shake that one, seemingly. My fear of not being good enough has led to my messed-up relationship with social media. I never consciously know why I am checking my accounts. It’s just something that happens.
I look down and there’s my phone in my hand and there I am looking at my notifications. It’s because buried somewhere in the back of my head, I believe that the answer is there. Am I good enough? I want the collective response of the internet to tell me.
The problem is that it keeps giving me an answer I don’t want. The problem is that even when it does give me the answer I want, my satisfaction only lasts a couple of minutes or even up to a day. The next day, I need to be told again, but by then, I’m back to getting the answer I don’t want. If I felt good enough from the beginning, then I wouldn’t get caught up in that cycle.
Anyway, this morning, Dylan is even better. He was even back to whining for attention and looking at me with this expression on his face like I hold the key to solving all his problems. He’s a cat with high expectations.
It has been my goal to get more exercise, lately. On Monday, I did an hour of power yoga, on Tuesday, I did nothing, on Wednesday, I went for a run. Today, I plan to do yoga again. I’m tired, but I will do it, anyway.
I joined a small FB group for workout motivation with a couple of friends. We’re supposed to start checking in on July 16th. I think it goes for 6 weeks or something like that.
I am often solitary with my workouts. I don’t like group sports, competition, or commitments (anymore), but now I want some camaraderie.
We gave Dylan another subcutaneous treatment today. He absorbs 120ml of fluid for each treatment. He’s getting better at it. We’re all getting better at it. I’m still feeling a little shaky, though.
I insert the needle and my hands start trembling. I pull back on the syringe plunger to make sure there is no blood in the line and then push it down to administer the liquid. Each syringe only holds 60ml, so it needs to be done twice. It takes about one minute to empty one syringe.
After detaching him and cleaning up, it still takes me several minutes before I feel like I’m back in normal reality. It takes Dylan about 5 seconds (that’s not an exaggeration). As soon as it’s over, Adam gives him some catnip and all is forgotten.
Actually, I haven’t felt like I was back in normal reality for weeks, but especially not for the past day or so. I couldn’t sleep last night, so I was up until 1 AM wondering about the point of existence. I do that a lot. It’s not an intellectual thing. I’m not philosophizing. I’m feeling my way through an open space with my eyes closed with my hands outstretched. I’m trying to touch anything that will orient me. Once I’ve done that, I’ll know why I’m here.
Because I’m so tired when this happens, there is truly no point to it. I’m not alert enough to make any significant connections about anything, let alone the nature of the universe.
I had intended that today I would film a youtube video. I started doing youtube a few weeks back and everything was going as planned until the cat things happened. I want to continue with youtube, but I don’t feel quite ready, yet. I can’t imagine continuing making videos without saying a word about what happened. That just seems crazy to me, but talking about it is difficult.
In 1994, I started online. That was back when everything was text based and the only people online were a handful of college students and some geeks. It’s weird to think that youtube is an extension of that same idea: people trying to connect online.
Back in 1996, I started my first blog. That was before there were many (if any) blogging websites existed. I coded my own website to have a blog, but it wasn’t called a blog back then. It was a website with regular updates. It was just a fun thing for me to do, so it really freaked me out when I realized that people were reading it. That always made me stop. I moved blogs several times over the years to keep things anonymous as I could.
Once online anonymity went out of fashion, I really struggled. Being myself in public makes me feel so exposed. It’s not like I ever wrote anything online wasn’t innocuous, especially back then. I didn’t even know enough about the world to say something controversial. I still don’t, really.
But still, there’s always that fear of not being good enough. No matter how many ways I try to convince myself that I am. I have phone reminders, I have gratitude journals, I have lists of accomplishments, but I will never be completely immune. I think that is the hallmark of being human. We aren’t here to make ourselves immune to suffering. We’re here to understand it, so we can also understand joy.
It’s been about a week and a half since we had to put Zophia down.
Two days after we put her down, Dylan got sick. We rushed him to the hospital for a battery of tests. We found out the next day that he had pancreatitis and that resulted in a five-day hospital stay. Now that he’s home, he needs to have regular subcutaneous injections. His health is clearly improving. He’s not 100%, but he’s active. He’s eating more and he’s drinking more.
After everything that has happened and with everything that is still happening, I’m starting to feel better. Dylan is sleeping peacefully on his cat-tree. Basil has put on some weight, but he seems ok.
Today, I was able to get Dylan to eat and drink a little for lunch, but it took a lot of effort.
I can’t describe the terror I felt when I thought that I was going to lose two cats instead of one. Zophia would have been 16 in December and her health had been declining for about six months. We (my husband and I) were both dreading something that felt more and more inevitable as time went on.
Over the past six months, we’d been to multiple vets and had tried multiple treatments. There is one guy that I don’t think should be practicing medicine. He was one of those paternal types that pretends that he has everything under control and displays so much confidence that as a desperate pet owner, you can’t help but hope that he’s truly offering a solution. Zophia took a turn for the worst after him.
Once again, I learned that I must be more questioning and skeptical of doctors, especially the ones who seem too sure of themselves.
Anyway, Dylan is only 12 and had never had any health issues. Zophia had been sick most of her life, but Dylan was the opposite. Dylan’s check-ups always came back clear of any concerns, so his sudden illness was a blindside.
With Zophia, even if we had an inkling, we still found her loss devastating. She’d been part of our family for 15 years. Because she’d required so much care, she was a constant presence in my mind. I checked on her a lot, especially in the last few months. It’s weird how empty life can feel when you’re no longer checking on someone all the time.
I think that it’s very likely that the stress of Zophia’s illness and death is what brought on Dylan’s pancreatitis. I’d always worried what would happen to him after we lost her. They were best friends for so long.
Now, he and Basil seem to be much closer. They have been hanging out together and sleeping near each other since Dylan has been home.
We’re still working on making sure Dylan eats and drinks enough, plus, we give him subcutaneous injections to keep him from getting dehydrated. I am not sure he needs it. He seems to be doing well enough with his eating and drinking. Our current vet is much more cautious, though, and I don’t think she’d recommend the injections if she thought they could be harmful.
So, now, I’m trying to get back to my regular life of reading, writing, and youtubing. Like most personal tragedies, this has caused me to think about priorities and gratitude.
The things that I had thought were important, suddenly seem less important. I hope I maintain a shift in my priorities because I spend a lot of time worrying about things that are insignificant when put into the context of my entire life.
With gratitude, it isn’t so easy to cultivate, but the meaning of impermanence has made itself known to me. I had one day between Zophia’s death and Dylan’s hospitalization. During that one day, I did not appreciate what I had. Reflecting upon that, I believe that our only weapon against the awfulness that is the impermanence of life is gratitude for what we have when we have it.