Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Day

My birthday.  Today.

I won't say how old I am, only that I'm pretty close to six decades on this earth.

One foot in the grave.  Teetering.

But I've been teetering a long time.

I've had a long hard lonely life. Today will be no different.

It's hard to stay sane when alone all the time, hard to remain focused forward on anything.

I thought by now, after leaving the mental system 13 years ago, I'd have something figured out, maybe a way out of poverty, maybe found relationships, friends.

I've always said my real life began in the year 2001, after finally breaking free of the destructive controlling brutal mental system and I only broke free because I was beaten on that psyche ward so savagely.  I don't call it "the mental health system" because there is nothing physically or mentally healthy about that system.

I've had 13 years to live since then.  I didn't waste them.   I rounded up over 10,000 cats to be fixed.  Many hundreds of others I got into homes or rescues or shelters where they stood a chance of getting homes.  That ain't nothing.

I had four major surgeries, two of them on my spine.  I met lots of great people and ordinary struggling people when helping out cats.  These times were intensely difficult, these horrifying brutal cat situations, rife with human drama and feline suffering, when exhaustion and mental anguish over seeing these things over and over invaded my dreams at night.  They didn't ruin me or turn me against humans altogether, as they have some.

I am damaged from the work.  There are large areas of this county I can't bear to pass through anymore, because of the lives associated with those streets and complexes and farms and the horrors cats faced there. Along with me, when I tried to save them.  And the sorrow that overwhelms me.

 I break down if I even try to remember.  Cloudy's horrific death has not yet blurred around the edges of my memory.  I distract my mind when it drifts that direction. 

I thought I'd be immune from trauma over witnessing horrors of animal neglect and abuse because I'd been through so many horrors of abuse myself, in my own life.  And while I was better suited than most, due to my past, to wade through these situations, in the end, turned out the nightmares came to me too.  Usually I relive the worst only when I am really worn out, however.  So I try not to get overly tired.  Then I don't end up living in bad past lives, as I call them.

I've had terrible moments with many people in this area over their treatment of animals.  I consider my life like a movie, however, and each person's life a movie.  Or a book.  My life intersects anothers movie in one tiny split second of a scene, of a very very long film.  I don't know what has preceded in the movie of their life, nor they mine, nor how the plot will twist or end in theirs or mine.  So there you have it.   Later on, out of the intensity of the encounter, I can tell myself, I have no idea what preceded our encounter, or what will go on afterwards.  Makes it easier to forgive and forget.  People change every day.  Life is fluid.  I have changed.

I no longer feel I contribute.  Poppa Inc.'s spay neuter mission is closed 3/4 of a year and with it, my job gone same amount of time, although I got talked into the rescue last November, of the 60 left behind by the woman out near Lebanon, which is why I have 12 more cats now, although I hold out hope I can still find at least some of them homes.

I've always been eager beaver to jump in and help and solve something that seems not solvable.  I have to realize real limitations.  I have to realize I have a car with too many miles on its odometer and no money, although I've never let little details like this stop me.  I always think something will work out in the end, if I do the right thing, and help someone asking for help.  By and large, this has proven true.  I'm still alive, right?  Right now, I have a roof over my head and food to eat.

I have come to think of life as a moment by moment gift, to think of now, not tomorrow or next week or next year.   Although I do think of the future in some ways.  I do squirrel away nickels and dimes.  But I have never had much stability, financially or even with having a place to live.   I know very well how quickly things can change.  I could be on the street or trying to find a bridge to live under tomorrow.   Or dead.  My car could be history today even and I'd have no way to replace it.  I think about these possibilities, try to plan for them, and realize many tragedies of life cannot be foreseen or an escape route planned for.  I can't save up enough money on my income for another car, for example, so there's nothing I can do but try to keep the one I have running, for as long as I can and study repair mechanics so I can do what I can to fix it when it breaks.   Right now, for example, I am reading a how to book on replacing an engine.

Cougie is doing very well since the last dental when 13 teeth were pulled.  She has only her front teeth left and even though she had all those teeth pulled just last Monday, she is now playing, with anyone she can entice into play.

Those big eyes are full of drama, because Cougie is stalking Shaulin and about to pounce!

I went to the bank and told the bank clerk about it being my birthday (almost), and she gave me a lolly pop.

However, moments later, joy turned to horror.  The lolly pop stuck on my tooth and when I pulled it out of my mouth a piece of that tooth came with it.  Not again, I thought, and looked in the mirror.  The entire face of one upper tooth had come off.   I drove straight to the dental office who fixed my teeth last summer.  I have an appointment for Monday.  But they won't be able to do anything.  The face of the tooth is gone, exposing the interior, which is all filling.   From experience, I know the filling material will start falling out too.  It needs crowned and I don't have $2200 or more for a root canal and crown.  I will lose another tooth.  I'm going to ask how much it might cost to glue a temporary crown on it without a root canal.  I know those temp crowns can last many years, in some cases.

One neighbor works for the federal government and one of the first things she did, she said, when she got the full dental coverage with her job, was to have all her amalgam fillings drilled out and replaced with porcelain.  Lots of people do this now, afraid of the mercury in amalgam.  But lots of people don't do this because most people don't have a choice in the matter, because they're lucky if they can even have cavities filled.

My father was a dentist and he brought home mercury for us to play with as kids.  We'd roll it around in our hands and polish pennies with it.  My father however didn't believe in any environmental protections and even sprayed our windowsills and counters in the house with DDT then bragged when it was still killing flies over a decade later.  When DDT was banned, he hoarded some because he said it was the best insecticide ever.   It's a wonder I'm still alive and having a birthday.

When I was in college in California, my boyfriend of the time, took me out into the hills where we went into old mercury mines, very dangerous sagging old forgotten tunnels.  We took flashlights and little bottles and looked for mercury to sell to a scrap dealer.  I don't know what happened to him.  We broke up and he left college.  But way way later, he suddenly called, after I'd moved back to Oregon and to Corvallis, said he'd been hitching up the interstate and wanted to spend the night.  I was afraid of him because I'd heard he'd turned to criminal activities, but consented to him sleeping the night on my couch.  In the night, he tried to crawl into bed with me and force himself on me.  I had a pistol in the headboard then.  I was a college student.  I trained it on him and told him to get out.  He said I wouldn't shoot him and he was probably right but he left because he wasn't sure I wouldn't shoot him.  I stayed up the rest of the night to be sure he didn't try to get back in.

I didn't have many possibilities for my future, as I emerged from childhood partly because of being raised Adventist.  Adventists observe their Sabbath from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night.  This means you can't work after sundown Friday evening, clear til sundown Saturday evening.  The church made exceptions only for jobs in the health care industry directly related to patient care.  How in the world does an Adventist youth find employment?  Answer is, they don't unless they leave the church, or work for an Adventist or run their own business.

At the time I grew up, Adventist women tried to solve this horrible dilemma by getting married.  I wasn't marriage material due to the problems I experienced as a child with my father.  I was interrogated when I tried to find jobs, by my parents, on whether they would allow me my "Sabbaths" off.  But I couldn't find jobs that allowed for that, including leaving work before the sun went down Friday evenings and it goes down early in the winter.  Employers would laugh and say things like "I've got a business to run here" and about how silly that was.

Adventists need to do a better job of coaching youth about their upcoming employment problems, if they want to maintain their cult numbers, steering them into "acceptable sabbath work options" or towards Adventists who employ Adventists. Otherwise, they will face the same impossibilities I went through.

The stress of this final realization, that I would not find employment with Sabbaths off, and faced an ultimate consequence, of either leaving all things behind I'd grown up believing, in the Adventist church, outside of which I had not existed, became a second but equal factor, along with my father's behavior towards me as a child, in the breakdown that ruined the next decades of my life.

These dual issues were not fatal in themselves.  I might have come out of both, with a little help. But my next step was fatal.   I was sent to see a shrink. They don't help, but I didn't know that.  How would I know the medical system was so polluted and screwed up and lame. You should be able to trust them, I had thought.  I had grown up under the thumb of authoritarian men.  I knew only to agree with authority figure men.  The shrink was a man.  I was not unlike the old woman in the movie Requiem for a Dream, who went nuts on diet pills, trying to lose weight to be on a game show, while her son destroyed his life with heroin.  The movie is excellent in its equivalent portrayal of these dual dangers.  She was forced into psychiatric help.  Her problem with diet pill addiction was solvable but the fresh faced eager shrink, so trusting in his pledge to help, completed her destruction.  He shocked her brain with electro shock and drugged her with forced psyche drugs into a zombie, so that her life became an empty existence.  She sat, staring vacantly, in an institution, as her son lost his arm, in a southern prison, to heroin injection needle infection.

 I don't like that feeling when I get up in the morning and have nothing to tackle outside of the daily endless chores here.

I wave at a neighbor when they pass in their car now and then, but other than that, my world is bereft of human contact.  I take care of the cats here, love them and play with them, clean up after them, every morning and every night.  I watch the news and sometimes, if the channels are coming in, I watch Grimm or something else on TV.

On days like New Years and birthdays, I feel inclined to reflect and try to chart out some better life.  I'm not going to find a way out of poverty at my age.  But maybe I can find some way to survive, so I'm not always alone and have something to do.

Happy Birthday to me.  Happy Birthday to me.  I got this for my birthday...
Five hairballs and one flea.

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