Sunday, April 20, 2014

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #3

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the dessert,
You only have to let the soft animal of your
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell
you mine.

-Mary Oliver, excerpt from Wild Geese

Saturday, April 19, 2014



Two years ago, my kitty of 16 years died. For reasons I don't even need to go into right now, in addition to all the normal ones, it devastated me. I'm not sure how I got through the following days and weeks. His last few days, when I slept on the floor in the closet with him, and took time off work just to lay in silence on the couch and cuddle him for hours on end, and then when our vet finally came to put him to sleep at my house - a true horror - broke me and broke my heart. I'm not a nutty "animal person," so I would never have thought that would have been the situation, but it was.
JJ taking a nap in his usual spot

After JJ died, I couldn't even consider another kitty. I live right by an animal shelter, but couldn't imagine going on. After about a year, I started visiting occasionally to see what kitties needed homes, and I would stand and look at the cute fluffballs behind glass and cry. But I kept doing it because I missed having a little buddy to love and care for, and because I was hoping that my heart could at some point heal enough to adopt one.

Two weeks ago I got a kitty. Susan B. Anthony, or Bonnie, was a tiny, stinky, 10-year old cat that had been picked up by animal control when her owner was admitted to a mental health hospital. She'd been given a clean bill of health by the county and by the very popular and critically-reviewed local shelter, and I visited her a few times before deciding I might be able to open my heart to love a cat again.


The shelter cautioned me that it might take her 2 or 3 days to come out of the guest room (where they suggested I start her), but after 20 minutes, Bonnie was exploring all 3 levels of my house, and an hour later, she was asleep on my lap. She would purr from stress, I could tell, but I figured she was doing alright as I observed her outstretched between my knees for hours as I watched TV. And the first night, when she hopped up on my bed and positioned herself on the pillow next to me and slept there the whole night, I figured she was going to do just fine.

One thing that was so cute from the first day is that she followed me around, right on my heels, every single minute. If I walked to the laundry area, she was there. If I went to the dining table, she was there. If I was by the sink and started to go in the direction of the fridge, even for a step, she would as well. She was a little shadow.

And although I cared for her and was happy to have a little friend around again, I have to admit that for the first few days I'd wondered if I'd made the right choice. All I could think was that I didn't love her like I loved little JJ, and it didn't seem right to have an animal that you only tolerated. That's not really the spirit of caring for someone. Anyway, another few days and there was nothing to worry about. We fell into a lockstep routine like many owners and animals do; Bonnie knew when the shower started she should run and wait on my bed pillow because that is where I would be headed next. I started to feel the warm, quiet gratitude that comes from sharing your space and heart with a pet.

I think you understand where I was at and how hard it was to discover that she wasn't actually healthy at all; she was quite sick. During the first week at my house I felt she wasn't eating enough and was concerned about the odor she had. I decided to take her to my vet for a full check up, the results of which were quite sad.

I think at this point all I want to say is that I took Bonnie back to the shelter for surgery a week ago, and the results of that procedure were even worse. I had to make a choice between bringing her back home to give her a type of hospice care, and letting her stay at the shelter to be put down. I took this past week to finally decide, and I feel like a bit of a monster for it, but I can't care for her. Logistically, the amount of meds and special food would be difficult for just one person. But it's really my heart - I truly don't think I have the capacity to love another animal so close to death and make it through without closing my heart off to a degree that would be quite bad. I kind of can't fucking believe it - on the phone with my sister last night I laughed a bit in the middle of crying. It's the perfect combination of events for the saddest story ever. And more - I had a good friend pass away suddenly a few months ago (I haven't been able to write about that yet), and she told me often after JJ died that I should get another cat. I would tell her I wasn't ready, and then a few weeks later she would tell me she thought I should get a cat. When I got Bonnie, I thought every day, "Ok, Kaply, I did it!" I mean, could this be more pathetic?

In the middle of a generally tough time in life, Bonnie was a joy and a heartbreak. I know I only had her for a couple of weeks, but I'm grateful for that. Hanging out with a warm, purring Bonnie watching basketball was peaceful, and I think she enjoyed it, too.

The kind comments on my last post mean so much to me - sincerely. Thank you very much. I HATE having another sad little tale to express, but I am going to stick to the only thing I know to do, which is to be genuine about what is going on for me and express it in a way that I think might help me in my process. Thank you, my people, for being so kind. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Even Now

I've been in my "new" condo a year and a half this month. My old kitty, JJ, died two years ago next month. It's weird - time just keeps going. It's been 11 months since I had my last surf. It's been just over three months since I got my current job. I turned 43 last month. Crazy. The first time I mentioned my birthday on this blog (although the blog was called something else back then) was in 2005 when I just had turned 34 and was living in Japan. Time, you are a thief.

Aging is crazy. I like it ok, I guess. The physical toll, of course, is hard to deal with. There's a lot of disappointment in realizing that I'm not just tired or overworked; this is my face now. This is my body. These are my weak wrists and my aching knees. I have to let go of ideas or ideals over and over. I think I still harbor slight "waiting for the big thing to happen" tendency that isn't helpful or realistic.

I feel lonely a lot. I am alone a lot. I feel confident that this isn't how we are meant to live. And yet . . . here I am. I've struggled with depression the last few years, which I'd never previously even felt for a day, so that's been an adjustment. It's like learning to live with a roommate you hate.

I feel hopeful. At times. Although it seems whenever I start feeling good about the future, some kind of smackdown comes. But what is hope if not still believing, even then?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #2

Who brings a drum to a funeral?
Who tells dirty jokes?
Who laughs so hard that Diet Pepsi geysers out of her nose?
Who brings a drum to a funeral?

Who uses the bacon grease to make fry bread and apple pie? 
Who uses dynamite to dig a grave in the frozen ground? 
Who brings a drum to a funeral? 
Let this goodbye be Coyote's wet dream. 
The only shaman is the shaman of ice cream. 

In his coffin, our father is cold to the touch.
He is dead, dead, dead. There is nothing to touch.
His skin is no longer skin.
His eyes are no longer eyes.
His bones are no longer bones.
He is a fossilized hive.
If I picked him up, I could shake him like a gourd rattle.

Let this goodbye be a death scream.
The only shaman is the shaman of ice cream. 

-Sherman Alexie

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sucre et Beurre, S'il Vous Plait

24 years ago, when I was 19, I took my first airplane ride. It was to Russia. Not too long after, although I forget exactly when, I went to Paris for the first time. I was in my early 20's, I guess, and I'd saved enough money for the ticket and that was about it. I went alone (most of my travel has been alone) and I remember meeting this young couple on the plane beside me and they didn't have a place to stay their first night so I offered the floor of my hotel room. I also remember that I'd messed up my travel plans and when I arrived at the hotel after the trans-Atlantic flight, my reservation was for the following week. And that I wasn't sure I'd ever even make it to the hotel because the cab driver from the airport turned out not to be a cab driver but just a guy with a car, but I didn't realize that until we were in the basement of the Charles de Gaulle parking garage. And when, finally, all of that got sorted, I spent several days wandering around (thanks to a pre-purchased museum pass) the Lourve and the d'Orsay and the Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportations, but I couldn't afford anything else, really; I could barely afford to eat. And for every meal that week I ate sugar and butter crepes (the cheapest kind) from street vendors. There was this one older guy at a little rolly cart at a corner near Cathedrale Notre Dame who was nice enough to let me try to pronounce my order, the same every time, as he waited patiently.

Anyway, my point is that I'm sitting here at a crepe house this morning. I'm having a little breakfast and enjoying a lazy Sunday. It's sunny out right now, but here in Portland we've had every flavor of weather imaginable in the last week or two in Biblical proportions. Did I just misplace my modifier? I never know.

I have a:
  • new job with a lot more responsibility
  • pain in my mid-back that isn't debilitating but it won't go away
  • hair cut and color appointment coming up, thank goodness
I need a:
  • surf
  • far-away vacation
  • jog
I want a:
  • kitten
  • more easy-going temperament
  • macroon
I just wanted to say hi. Things are going better overall with rough patches here and there. I feel old lately and am trying to make sure I don't use it as an excuse for too much. 42 is a bit early to get crotchety.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #1

You need not do anything.

Remain sitting at your table and listen.

You need not even listen, just wait.

You need not even wait,

Just learn to be quiet, still, and solitary.

And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked.

It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

- Franz Kafka

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I've had a couple of fun days lately.

For the New Year holiday, I started it off right by - for the 3rd year in a row - running a 5k called "First Run" with my baby brother. We are always 1/2 miserable, 1/2 excited to do it, and I like that it's become our special thing. This year the course was changed (in response to a train coming through the course last year and stopping the race for 20 minutes!) and it went over a couple of bridges over the Willamette River. That part was beautiful! I've never run (or walked, jeez) over any of our 10 or 11 bridges and that was a treat. We both ended up finishing without collapsing, and we both accomplished our goals of doing the entire 5k without stopping. (That might seem like a lame goal, but I am seriously out of shape right now. I was really proud of myself.) My brother always finishes way before me and then has time to chill out and come back to the finish line in time to cheer me in :)

For the rest of my day off, I just did relaxing things - I went to a movie (Saving Mr. Banks - whoa, very good), I spent some time reading (I'm currently reading The Wisdom of Psychopaths - great so far), I did some sewing for my Etsy shop (and filled a few orders I had in the past week), and I went to a video game arcade downtown that sells adult beverages and plays loud music. I'm not huge into video games, but most of the games are from the late '70's/early '80's (I'm vintage, yo) and I really love loud music - I went again this weekend and when I walked in they were playing Superstition by Stevie Wonder. That and some Asteroids or Q*bert? That's a good time. I find that I can't really think of anything else for a good 45 or 60 minutes while I'm playing games, so that is fun.

I've been out to eat a lot, pie is my newest thing. Or Portland's newest thing. We have a bunch of different pie places, and so far I like them all. I need to stop that, but it's been fun to grab a slice a la mode and read for a bit.

Today I went to the Oregon Historical Society to see an exhibit on origami and it was fantastic. Origami, of course, reminds me of my time in Japan, and I do a little paper folding every once in a while. The art on display today stunned me - there was a dress and high-heeled shoes (life size) made entirely of one large sheet of paper, folded. And there was an origami representation of a painting - that was beautiful. My favorite pieces were a simplified version of the crane, and a gorgeous work called Prayer by an artist named Giang Dinh. No photos were allowed (phooey), but here are a few links:

Giang Dihn's portfolio - Prayer and several others that were in the show are here
At the bottom of this page are photos of several pieces of origami art - all of these were in the show

Yay for good days. More in store, I'm sure of it. Now it's time to make some resolutions for the new year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

My Christmas List

I finished my running around for Christmas and then came home from work on Christmas Eve and felt - for the first time all month - kind of relaxed and happy about the holiday. Then I wished that I had a couple weeks to actually get my house decorated and enjoy the season. Of course, I didn't - the whole damn thing would be over 24 hours later. But it made me realize that I do like some things about the holiday, and that maybe I can structure it next year so that the parts I enjoy less (like the pressure of crossing items off the to-do list) are done earlier and I have some time to do things I like.

Depression is so mysterious to me. I keep thinking that I didn't DO anything (that I know of) or CHOOSE to feel this way, and yet it descended on me at some point and won't. fucking. leave. I was sitting in a movie theater yesterday crying (it's what I do now) and wondering why I was crying, and I recognized that I was having a fun day and had more fun planned for later. I wanted to write about my day because I worry that I'll look back on my early 40's as a blur of confusion and sadness and loneliness. It's like my time in Japan - that was almost 4 years of intense loneliness and working an incredibly demanding/consuming/pretty damn toxic job. That's what I think of when I think of that time. But when I look at my blog during those years, I see something else - tons of days with neighborhood parties and exciting local travel and participation in the culture in wacky and wonderful ways. That happened, too. It's amazing how depression rewrites history. I've heard it before, but I didn't realize how true it is: depression lies.

This is how my day went yesterday: I slept in (love the sleep, absolutely love sleeping), and then got up and puttered around the house doing little things I needed to do (paying bills, laundry) and a few things I didn't (buying a Blazer sweatshirt off eBay.) Then I went out for lunch (salad; I never make myself salad but a great salad is amazingly yummy) and then I went shopping at the Japanese stores - Uwajimaya and Kinokuniya. It's been a while since I'd been there, so they have lots of new things I haven't seen. I love going there, just being among stuff that is familiar in a weird way. Then I went to a movie at Bridgeport (Inside Llewyn Davis) that was very good, but probably not the best timing for me. (I had a feeling it might not be. It's about the NY folk music scene in the '60's, something that is very "me," and also reminds me of my dad. Plus, the whole premise of the film was very melancholic.) After that, I called my mom and we talked for a while - I genuinely enjoy hearing about her days and what she's been up to. That was fun. And then I decided to go out to The Grotto for their holiday Festival of Lights, which I last went to around 1996. Crazy. It's so beautiful; I don't know why it's been so long since I visited. While I was there, walking around the wonderfully-lit grounds, I decided to make a visit an annual event, and I started thinking about other "traditions" or ways I can mark the holidays. There are so many difficult things about being single in general and specifically during the holidays that I won't even go into it; it's a strange thought to hold in my brain that I should have holiday traditions as a single person. A party of one isn't "worthy" of or needing traditions, are they? But I need something, so I figured that a visit to The Grotto was a good place to start.

I walked all over the grounds and then sat in the freezing cold weather and cried a bit and listened to the singers and looked at the beautiful lights and appreciated it all. I remembered the last time I'd visited (when I'd come with a then almost-boyfriend to watch a then kind-of foster child sing in a junior high school choir; goodness, I've lived many lives) and thought of the holidays in general, my family and my dad, religion, the seasons, pretty much everything. That's what I do, too. I really enjoyed experiencing a holiday event that brought me some joy. It's definitely on my traditions list.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Merry Christmas. I'm about to head to bed, but wanted to just put a few thoughts down. I can hardly hear my own voice lately and I thought maybe it would help to put words on paper (so to speak).

The holidays are hard. I don't know if I do something different if it would make them easier, but it's too painful to think about. So I get through them and they're done and then I exhale a little bit and look to the future. It seems they've getting more difficult as I get older, so that's no good. I generally have a day in the season when I'm writing notes to employees and wrapping gifts and getting packages ready to mail and it just feels really good to be sending these little, tangible I love you's out through the USPS. That's usually my holiday. And I enjoyed that day about a week ago, so that was nice.

I'm really enjoying the NBA season and my Portland Trail Blazers this year. The rest of the world suddenly is, too (they're suddenly and uncharacteristically #1 in the league right now), but that's ok. The more the merrier. Although I'd forgotten what a full-time hobby it is - there are weeks where the Blazers play 4 or sometimes 5 nights a week! That is a lot of beer! It keeps me busy, which I appreciate, but it's also kept me too busy to exercise but steadily gaining weight. I need to figure this out fast.

I dated briefly last month and was disappointed for it to end. He was a soccer fan, so we knew it was going to, but I really thought it would last a bit longer than it did. He was a nice guy, but I've honestly truly for real this time sworn off dating guys who don't own cars (this is a thing in Portland). It feels too maternal to pick someone up every time you go out. Also, he was shorter than me (many people are), and while I thought I could maybe power through that, when it was all said and done I do think that was a bit of an irritant. My BFF visited from DC a couple weeks ago and while we were reviewing my dating life, he asked me what ever happened with Shortcake. Who? Ah. Perfect. I guess I'm open to dating more but I think I need to get myself together a bit first. I don't know.

I started a new job at the bank this week. I know, Christmas week. I've been in a particular role for the past 9 months and there's no reason to go into it but let's say it was pretty oppressive. There were good things about it, but it was much more stressful than many roles I've had. On Monday I started a new role and in the two days I've been with this new group, I've been 87% happier and 91% less stressed. The new role is big - I have 100 chickens to take care of - and it will be demanding. But I am happy about it and grateful for the job. Mostly grateful to be out of that last job, but that still counts.

Bo-ring. That's just life. I've been sewing and selling stuff in my Etsy shop. December was a busy month for sales - I had about 9. That's a lot for me. :) And I've been doing a bit of reading. I've been wanting to get a kitty and I've been visiting some shelters occasionally, but I just don't know. I'm gone a lot, so that's not good, and my heart also breaks in half every time I see a little critter. That can't be right. Um, it's just about time to make some New Year's Resolutions and I'm ready for that. I could use some focus. I've been still fighting depression this year and definitely doing the best I can, but I am ready to set some new goals for myself and give it a shot.

As I kind of limp through the holidays, I find myself incredibly grateful for my people. And if you're reading this you are one of my people. Merry Christmas. And thank you. Here's to good things ahead.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This Season

The holidays are a really tough time for me each year. I'm rarely with family, and I tend to feel very lonely. I'm 42 years old and single, and I've moved around a bit, so it seems over the years that I end up either being alone at the holidays or responding to very kind invites and being with people I don't know very much and feeling depressed about that. It's kind of a no-win situation: if I am invited to be with others, I feel awkward and like they're wondering why I don't have my own family, and if I'm not invited to be with anyone, I feel sad about people going about their business and there not being room for people without families or partners/spouses. This holiday season there is the extra bonus of being extremely worried about money and my job, and it being the first holiday since my dad died.

I didn't get a tree last year because I just moved into my condo in the middle of November. It was an easy decision. This year, it's harder to justify not doing it, but it can be depressing to have a tree and a decorated house if you're the only one there to see it. I really loved the year that I still lived at my apartment and I had my kitty and Huntington Beach came up in early December and we got a tree and decorated it together. (He helped me do the lights, actually, but he just watched me do the ornaments. He said he could tell I had a specific way I wanted to do them. That wasn't even true but I didn't mind.) I joked that it was the only year in my adult life that my tree has stood straight up in the tree stand.

I am trying to not get bitter about difficult times in life, and I know that my vision is kind of colored with depression so I'm not able to see completely clearly right now.