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2015: The Year of “Welp…”

It’s about time for my annual retrospective, and boy is this one a fuckin’ doozy.

Most of y’all know that my birthday, which is mid-January, was followed immediately by an accident that resulted in the loss of my left foot

I also, in the process, lost my job, my health, and, thanks to the incredibly poor behavior of an ultimately untrustworthy “friend”, the roof over my head.

It is now December, just under a month shy of the anniversary of that accident. I have, in that time:

  • Discovered what a phenomenal group of friends and supporters I have. Holy shit, y’all. I could complain about the one person who turned out to be a dishonest shitbag of a garbage human, but why, when I have SO MANY AMAZING PEOPLE in my life? I could not have made it through this year without my friends, and I am so unbelievably grateful to all of them for everything.
    .
  • Recovered from a vicious C Diff infection, the results of which still affect my appetite and ability to eat. I’m now up to about two meals a day, from nearly nothing. It’s not always easy or consistent, and the food my body will accept is significantly more limited than it used to be. I’m still experiencing regular unplanned weight loss. But I can eat, and I have energy to exercise and work.
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  • Survived one of the strongest, longest periods of sustained suicide ideation in my life, sometimes by sitting on my hands for hours at a time. I owe much of the emotional reserves it took to stay alive to my beloved cat, and my beloved friend Eden Gallanter.
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  • Learned how to function, first without a foot, and then with a prosthesis. This took months of religiously following the instructions of my physical therapists, the determination to work through pain and discomfort  to become functional again, and the ongoing support of my incredible friends.
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  • Busted my ass to recover both strength and physical ability. From workouts at home to kicking ass at the gym, I have spent hours and hours exercising. It’s paid off.
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  • Found a new job, and then a better job.
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  • Discovered what happens when two exceptionally well-matched people are extremely open, honest, caring, and careful with each other right from the start (they fall head over heels for each other).

In 2015 I fought my way through hell, and I won’t say I came out of it whole (I mean emotionally and mentally, obviously not physically). But I somehow managed to get my life, which was entirely derailed, back on track (even if on a different track than it was on before the accident). I somehow managed to hold on to my strength and my sanity. I somehow managed to find love with a woman who blows me away on a daily basis. I somehow managed to get to the point where I can face 2016 with pride in what I’ve accomplished, with some optimism for the future, and with a better sense of what I need to do and where I need to be than I ever had before.

I’m not gonna say “Happy New Year” or anything like that. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last handful of years, it’s that it’s a pretty fucking ridiculous thing to say. I will say: Welcome, 2016. If we can just avoid voting Trump into office, we might be okay.

One Simple Trick

I’m at work, and my new coworker sees my driver’s license photo, which was taken over a decade ago.

“You’ve lost so much weight!” She exclaims.

“Yeah, well, I experienced traumatic injury and illness this year…”

“Congratulations!” She hasn’t even heard me. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I’ve lost weight. “I want to do that, too.”

Between the loss of an actual extremity, stress, emotional distress, and a vicious C. diff infection, I lost about 40lbs in the course of maybe 2 months, and I had no power over that at all.

My relationship to food and eating after both intense trauma and gut infection has completely changed, and I have a genuinely difficult time consuming all the calories I need. This is important because I work my ass off at the gym in my ongoing attempts to build the strength and endurance I need to function as well as I’d like with a prosthetic foot.

Today I managed to get down:

  • 3 bites of cereal
  • a mocha
  • part of a bag of chips
  • several determined bites of chicken and rice
  • part of a slice of bread

I can’t tell you how much I would love to have been able to eat even one full meal. I continue to have very little power over my weight or how much I lose, and that is something I am working on (this is not an invitation for advice, either).

This isn’t every day. Some days I manage 3 squares. Some days I manage seconds (this happens almost never ). Most days I average 1-2 meals.

Every time somebody compliments me on my weight loss, I am reminded of days spent in the hospital unable to find my appetite through the physical agony and emotional shock I endured. I am reminded of days spent unable to function, unable to eat, in despair as I lost even more control of my life and my health. I am reminded that I have not fully recovered, that I am struggling with this daily.

But the fatphobia in this world is so intense, so hardwired, and so fucked up that it would never occur to anybody that my weight loss was anything other than desired.

The entitlement people feel towards the bodies of others is so automatic, and has gone so unexplored, that it is not the fact that they have commented on my body that goes questioned, but the fact that I am struggling to respond graciously.

And the entitlement people feel to graciousness upon the “gift” of a compliment, however unwanted or unasked for, ensures that I must either do the emotional work for them—of fielding their ignorance, their insensitivity, their not-so-subtle programming in patriarchal values—or have my attitude questioned (rarely a safe option for a queer genderfluid person of color) and work harder all around.

This is bullshit.

Fuck your fatphobia. Fuck your concern trolling. Fuck your entitlement to my body and how it looks. Fuck you for not stopping to think for a second that there are so very many reasons a person might lose weight, and actually setting out to is only one of them.

It’s time to stop remarking on other people’s bodies, especially when you don’t know the whole story. I would say it’s time to stop making assumptions, but I don’t have a lot of faith in the ability of folks to make that leap. So let’s start with shutting the fuck up and letting people move though their day and their lives without wondering who is going to comment on their bodies next.

As a post-script to the fedora-wearing motherfuckers who think people should just be happy to get a compliment and will comment here and on FB to that effect:

giphy

Stand and Deliver

I’m really, really tired of this Boomers v Millenials crap.

What utter bullshit.

The fact is, generation after generation of Americans has been told that if they worked hard and got an education, they would get a job and be successful. That they would eventually, maybe with the help of their parents, be able to buy a house and raise a family if they so desired. Every single generation of Americans has been fed this, and for generations it was more (if you were White) or less (if you were anything else) true—before modern medicine extended lives, after multiple massive-scale wars left even a once-massively depressed country hungry for people to fill jobs. The American Dream relied on more than just the willingness to work hard.

This generation of young adults was bottle-fed this dream, and misogyny, and racism, and toxic masculinity. They were fed the idea of bootstrapping, and their own personal merit. They didn’t come up with their expectations, beliefs, and behaviors in a vacuum.

Poor choices were made. Shit went horribly wrong. We all know this. We can say the Boomers fucked shit up, and yeah—they did. Some of them even know it. Hell, my mom still occasionally apologizes, because she sees the difference between my situation and hers. She remembers a time when you could walk into a place and get hired on the spot. She remembers when education was nearly free. 

But shit gets fucked up—that’s what happens, kids. Look at history. History is all about shit getting fucked up. And people having to deal with it and getting cranky at the people who came before. I qualify as neither a Boomer nor a Millenial; My generation sorta fell through the cracks. Regardless, people have been treating Millenials like they are angry children. Well, shit yeah. 

What we need to recognize is that the Millenials are the first generation for whom that American promise has been well and truly broken (even during the Depression the government was working on programs to help get people back on their feet, in a way that today’s government is not). We need to realize that the things to which they feel they are entitled are things they’ve been promised since birth by people who believed it because it came true for them or enough of the people around them. And that their seeming petulance about it is really just the disappointment of a generation of people who are actually working hard only to discover that every single one of them just got sent searching for the same, nearly empty, pot of gold that they’d been individually assured of finding.

Yes. There is a lot of fucking privilege in that disappointment. Especially a lot of White privilege. (The American Dream is built entirely out of White privilege, once you factor in systemic racism.) That’s been endlessly explored in articles all over the Internet (no, as a person of color I do not dismiss the importance of this issue—it’s just not for this post). Yes. Millenials do need to grow up. Once that disappointment hits, the next move is to get over it and move forward with what you’ve got.

But to have a promise that affects your entire life broken isn’t actually that small of a disappointment. It’s not like they dropped their ice cream cone. They—we all—have to completely restructure our understanding of what is possible, what they are capable of, and how they are going to succeed within the American Reality, not the American Dream.

That’s not actually a small thing.

On Being Switzerland

“I’m staying neutral.”

This phrase, or some version of it, gets used all the time when adults within a community or friend circle have drama, fight, or have some sort of awful friend breakup. It needs to end.

First of all, people use it to mean any number of the following things:

  1. I have too much on my plate to think clearly about what is happening.
  2. I just don’t want to deal with it.
  3. I don’t care, figure it out.
  4. I’m a complete fucking coward who doesn’t want to do the work it would take to help all parties get the help and validation they need.

This is valid when one of your friends is not causing harm to another. Be adults. Figure your shit out and don’t track it in my home. Same with utter lack of spoons—if you can’t deal, and others can? That’s just how it goes.

neutral

However, I see this constantly when somebody has harmed or is in some way doing something really fucked up to somebody else. And when poor treatment, abuse, cruelty, resentment, shit-talking, lying, and other behaviors are involved, and people stay “neutral” I kinda want to vomit all over their shoes.

Because the thing is, you don’t have to stay neutral to remain friends with the person causing harm. It is okay to recognize that your friend is being an asshole and still be friends with them. But when you do decide that neutrality is your best option, here are some things that can happen:

For the person being wronged:

  1. They are likely not getting the level of emotional support and validation from you that they deserve, if you are calling them your friend. You might even be gaslighting them a little, making them doubt their own experience.
  2. It’s likely you aren’t actually talking to them about what’s going on, and thus any assumptions you make about what’s happening is coming second- or third-hand and is likely not terribly accurate. This can cause extra harm.
  3. They get to see you continue your friendship with the person hurting them through all of this. Although nobody has the right to tell anybody who they can be friends with, that can also be traumatic, and talking to them about it is useful.

For the person who is doing the harm:

  1. They often don’t get the real help they need because mutual friends are too busy being Switzerland to address the issues at hand and try to get through to them.
  2. Again, not talking + assumptions = bad.
  3. They get constant reassurance and validation from your continued friendship-without-challenges and you never really help them learn how fucked up they are being and therefore never help them grow. We become better humans when we can learn from our shitty behavior, not when people help us sweep it under the rug.

This has been something I have been fielding a little bit lately, but it’s also something that has come up repeatedly in stories friends have told about people allowing others to treat their friends atrociously under the guise of being “neutral”. Come the fuck on, y’all. This shouldn’t be how we operate, not as true friends to each other. It’s just another path to the missing stair (which, while specifically used to describe the issue of sexual harassment, can be broadened significantly).

PeteFallsDownVulture

To the various individuals who regularly name themselves “Switzerland”, instead of telling people you are “neutral” try thinking about what you really mean by it, deep down. And say that out loud instead. Because “neutral” is nowhere near the entirety of what you mean by it.

The fact is, being “neutral” helps nobody but yourself. And that’s cool. We have to indulge in self-care. But let’s call it what it is.

Rage

So here’s the deal. I am angry. Furious. Enraged. Livid. The fact that it is 2015 and it is still possible for me or any of my black friends to have our lives destroyed by supposed servants of the people simply because we are black makes me truly, deeply, painfully angry. The fact that these careless murderers, these state-backed assassins rarely get punished for murdering black people makes me want to flip tables. All of the tables. I’m right there with the rioters in Baltimore, is what I am trying to say. I want to break the windows of cop cars. I want to set shit on fire. I want to flip tables, throw rocks, pound concrete, rage against this system that has perpetuated itself BECAUSE REMAINING QUIET ONLY FUELS THE ENGINE THAT MAKES OPPRESSION POSSIBLE.

Metropolis - Moloch Machine

So when you tell me that racism is shitty, but you’d really prefer if people could go back to reasoned arguments on Facebook instead of destroying property, all I hear is: “I have the privilege of waiting for you to receive justice, and your life means less to me than glass and concrete.” When you tell me that you don’t condone the actions of corrupt racist police forces across the country, but follow that up with, “but we need to find intelligent ways to fight,” all I hear is: “I’m avoiding using the word ‘thug’ because I’ve read somewhere that it is racist.” When you tell me, “I feel angry too, but you don’t see me smashing in small business windows,” I hear, “I will never have to worry about my children being shot by the police simply for the color of their skin, so I can afford to show my anger by sharing articles on social media.”

If you are white, and puzzled by the rage and pain of your black friends, family, lovers, partners, and children, then you are part of the problem. If you decry the destruction of cars with the same energy that you decry the destruction of lives and families, then you are part of the problem. If you think just talking about these issues is getting anybody but white people anywhere, then you are part of the problem. If you are wishing for the days when we could pretend to be color blind and the goal was to become a Bill Cosby-approved house negro, your time has passed. Evolve, or you are part of the problem.

If you are not already angry, now is the time to get angry. If you have not already found your rage about this situation—and I don’t mean self-righteous indignation, here, I mean that deep acid burn in the center of your being that threatens to overcome your very existence every time you hear of a new murder, every time you watch a cop walk free, every time George Zimmerman appears on the news, every time one of your fedora-wearing, libertarian-voting, ‪#‎notallwhatever‬ white friends brings up black on black crime or absentee fathers, then I simply do not understand. If, when another name floats to the surface of your awareness and becomes yet another hashtag (and they do every 28 hours—black men are being murdered by police practically daily and that number does not include women of color or trans people of color), you do not feel like buying a ticket to Baltimore to smash cars with your black brothers and sisters, then I do not understand. I. Don’t. Understand.

Jack-Nicholson

But you go ahead and keep telling me there are better ways for people to fight state-sponsored murder, that waiting quietly and voting the right people into office is going to work for us eventually. That white people will eventually just give up that upper hand and stop being racist. After all, we have a black president, right? More importantly, keep telling yourself all of that. In this instance, the lie you believe is far more powerful and damaging than the one I believe. And you can afford to believe it. 

You’re the problem. You.

don't tell me what to do

Collision

Hello, Gentle Reader. Been a while since I blogged, and odds are you know why, but I’m gonna tell the story like you don’t, so you will just have to sit and listen with the rest of the kids.

On January 19th (that’s the day after my birthday, for those of you playing the Whiskeypants! Home Game™), I decided that I wanted a sandwich from Berkeley Bowl, where the sandwiches are sufficiently delicious that I was willing to brave one of the mid-level circles of Hell to get one. I picked up a few other things, hopped back on Clyde, my beloved motorcycle, and moseyed back home. I was enjoying the sunshine and the clear roads, taking it slowly because I hadn’t been out in a bit and wanted to enjoy it.

If you have never ridden a motorcycle, you might not realize how hyperaware bikers tend to be of their surroundings. That’s not to say we can’t be taken by surprise, but we are also intensely aware that death or severe bodily injury could come from any direction, and the best way to avoid it is to know what’s going on around us at all times. What we absolutely cannot be prepared for is the sheer cluelessness of the motorists around us.

So, when I noted a car coming from the opposite direction that was signaling a left turn, I could not know that: 1. When the driver slowed as I approached the intersection it was not because she saw me; 2. She wasn’t slowing to give me my right of way; 3. She was slowing for some other reason related to her turn.

Thinking she understood that there was oncoming traffic and that I did have the right of way, I entered the intersection. I was wrong; she also entered the intersection. Having corrected her initial turn, she sped right along into her left, and into me.

crashmap

The map is not included for accuracy, but just to give you an idea of what happened. She hit me dead on. I couldn’t possibly recreate that angle accurately, but as you can see, the turn requires a funky angle to begin with. Her fender definitely connected with my left leg, however, and both my bike and I were flung quite a ways. The green pentagon represents where Clyde landed, more or less, and the yellow represents where I landed.

I went down screaming, body and head hitting the ground hard (were it not for my beloved Shoei helmet I might not be here to write this blog post, actually). I will spare you the details of how it felt. I will tell you that in the time spent waiting for the paramedics, I screamed, I wept, I begged for help, I asked how my motorcycle was [PRIORITIES], and I knew there was something horribly wrong with my leg. They finally got me out of the street and into Highland Hospital in Oakland, where treatment began.

I was several days in the hospital and one operation in before a decision was finally made (a decision I was and am 100% behind) to amputate my left leg below the knee. Basically, January 19 and one very careless driver managed to change my life forever. But I ain’t mad.

I got lucky. That accident could easily have killed me or left me with much more severe injuries and disabilities. In the past two weeks I have discovered that I have a veritable army of friends and family who are willing to step up in ways small and huge. I’m gonna have a badass prosthesis. And perhaps most importantly to my happiness, I can still ride motorcycles. In the mean time, I am learning how to function minus a left leg. I am learning just how annoying a phantom limb can be. I am learning how much my friends love and care for me. And, while it will in no way be easy, and it will take a lot to get me back to the point where I can really enjoy my life again, things are gonna be all right.

Insurance is not going to cover all of my medical expenses, nor all of the costs of the changes I will have to make in terms of lifestyle, living and transportation accommodations, and of course there will be myriad other expenses that will crop up as a matter of course. My friends have set up a fundraiser to help me and if you wouldn’t mind either donating or sharing (or both, if you are feeling wacky like that), I would appreciate it greatly. However, no obligation, Gentle Reader: I love you regardless. 

In the mean time, as I heal, my stump is gonna make faces at you.

IMG_8654

Lost Stories

For me, books are basically the best thing ever, immediately followed by pibble puppies and whiskey. I read and re-read them, I discuss them, I occasionally greet them when I walk into a room. They rescued me from a miserable childhood, helped me navigate a difficult young adulthood, and have provided me, in their own way, with the most stability I have ever experienced in my life. If somebody told me I had to choose between books and food for a week, I’d need at least a day to consider.

lost sotries 1 This wouldn’t be a difficult choice for you?

So when I say I tend to think of the new (or new again), super-exciting people in my life as books, I hope you realize that this is a rather extraordinary compliment. It’s a similar form of twitterpation for me—I can’t wait to pick a good book up again, hang out with it, learn more about it, read every story. I don’t know how many of you have seen what I am like with a book I can’t stop reading, but it’s like the briefest of beautiful romances, the sweetest of crushes (with a guaranteed bittersweet ending, of course). New friend crushes work the same way for me (well, mostly—endings are a little less clear). Most people seem to recognize it for what it is; a select few will always decide I have fallen in love with them out of the blue and they must cut ties. That is often startling for me, and then disappointing, although I do admire their egos.
 
But if people are books, and if the ones I truly want to…read…are also incredibly rare and impossibly valuable (and they are, they really really are), then when, for whatever reason, I lose one, I can’t help but mourn every story lost. Everything I could have learned about their world, their perspective, gone. Every story we might have written together, gone. If I have lost this friend to tragedy, I mourn on every level;  occasionally instead I lose friends to terrible miscommunication. Regardless, when it happens it feels like this new, amazing, one-of-a-kind book, which I can never find anywhere else again, has been torn from my hands mid-chapter—just when the action was really getting good.

lost stories2Hey look: a gif that says what I just said! Thanks, Internet!

This is heartbreaking. I hate to be that book nerd who harps on the library at Alexandria. But I’m an historian, a geek, a reader, a lover of detail and stories and information. I don’t bitch about Alexandria because there are so many other people still wailing about it for me. But as far as I am concerned it’s one of the most tragic losses in history and I occasionally mourn it as I might mourn an amazing relative I never got to meet. Oh, shit. I am that nerd. If you relate, just go ahead and scale it down to just one of those books, and you’ll be in the ballpark for what I’m trying to get across, here.

And while I could write a great deal about the potential friendship I lost yesterday, I would instead prefer take a moment to thank those new (and old) friends of mine who have so patiently accepted my genuine (and perhaps occasionally overwhelming) enthusiasm for their company, their friendship, and their stories. Y’all know who you are. Let’s hang out.

2014: A Retrospective

…of sorts.

As promised.

Year of the Whiskeypants

Normally around this time of year, I do a retrospective, but while a retrospective post (of sorts) is coming, right now I am looking forward.

I am so fucking tired of being asked why I am single. Why I don’t date more. Why I don’t have women just crawling all over me. 

I don’t know how I am supposed to have the fucking answer to that question. Is it my failing? Theirs? Did the stars not align that week? Who fucking knows? What I do know, is that I have played and lost at this game so often that I know all the rules, all the side quests (including the one with the firebreathing dragon), and how to navigate many of the annoying puzzles. 

At this point I have a fair idea of when I am being manipulated, managed, gaslighted, and when I should be waiting to be dumped by somebody who maybe thinks I haven’t noticed when they have suddenly disappeared from all forms of communication for a week even though I have had to chase them the fuck down. 

The question is not why I am single. The question is why I put up with this bullshit at all. And I do, way too often. 

Fuck. That.

So, 2015 is going to be the year that I stop. I am going to stop trying to chase down women who won’t be honest or communicative with me. I am going to stop trying to convince the people I date that I’m the one (or one of the people) for them. I am going to stop being the anchor for people who can’t fucking commit. I am going to stop putting up with the gaslighting and the radio silence. Fuck all of that. If people can’t recognize that I am worth chasing, wooing, caring for, and communicating clearly and honestly with, then I’m out. 

2015 is the year of the Whiskeypants. I’m brilliant, hilarious, kind, generous, and loving. I have a short pudgy body that is soft, warm, and extremely cuddly, and you’d be lucky to feel it next to you.

And if it turns out nobody is into that, fuck it. I have a cat, a Roku, and a sexy fucking motorcycle. I’m good.

My Heart is Broken

My heart is broken.

Black children and young Black men can be murdered by cops across the country and their families will never see justice. Black cis and trans women are murdered and get backburnered. The idea that somebody is a “thug” is enough to justify that person’s untimely death.

My heart is broken.

My friends who are parents of Black children are terrified. They live in fear for that this means for them, for their children, for their families. A friend of mine spoke of feeling helpless against the concerns of his teenaged son, who is deeply frightened  by the knowledge that he can be shot any day just for being a young Black male.

My heart is broken.

Yesterday as I walked through Oakland I looked down at the black leather gloves in my hand and wondered if they looked threatening enough to get me shot on my way to drinks and dinner with a friend.

My heart is broken. 

mike brown's father

My heart is broken.

The list of names keeps growing, like the most awful mantra, like a time bomb, ticking away one name at a time.

My heart is broken

Broken.

I can’t breathe.

Unrest

In the wake of mishandling of the Ferguson Grand Jury and their travesty of a decision, people have been staging protests across the country, and predictably, there have been protests and riots here in Oakland. There appear to be two camps regarding these protests and riots: in the first, those who believe that protests and riots are an essential element of social change and in the second, those who don’t want to be inconvenienced (in the form of travel, property damage, or noise) by these actions. In particular, I’ve been seeing a lot of whining about protests causing delays and problems at BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, for those of you not in the know). I’m not even talking about the jagged razor’s edge of a topic that is looting and property damage, here. Just BART.

And I see, repeatedly, the argument that there were plenty of “innocent” and “uninvolved” commuters who had “nothing to do” with the protest and should have been allowed to go about their days.

I just have a few things to say about this.

I.

This is a point that has been made repeatedly by people who believe in the power of civil unrest, but I feel the need to make it again: Since when do quiet, non-disruptive protests get any attention at all? Since when do they make it into the papers, into the public eye, into history? Did the Stonewall riots help to turn shit around for the queer community because the queers were polite and nonviolent? No.

It is not incumbent on the people who are fighting systemic social injustices to make their struggle for justice convenient to you.

II.

Who the fuck is innocent in a society where systemic racism, misogyny, and various phobias regularly destroy lives, families, and communities? Who the fuck is uninvolved? WHO ON THAT BART TRAIN IS NOT AFFECTED BY THIS? Whether it be positively or negatively, who?

Not one person. From the tiniest baby to the most elderly person on that BART train, every single person is affected and every single person who believes that this brief inconvenience is more important than the lives that have been carelessly cut short is complicit.

III.

When a child tugs on your clothes in order to show you her wounds, you don’t chastise her for getting blood on your shirt. Well, an entire group of people, an entire race is showing you that we have been wounded. Repeatedly. Throughout history. And we are gonna get your attention any way we can.

But, you know. Sorry about your BART delay, bro.

Hold Me Closer…

So, this happened: 

tiny panther

 

But then I thought about it. And I decided that the world needed this:

tiny panther2

Sincerely grateful for the healing, joy, laughter, and love this little guy has brought to my life. And for every single one of you who thinks I am as funny as I think I am. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Tag

I’m guessing y’all still remember Monster, the wee kitten I brought home a few months ago.

2014-10-05_1412547194This little guy has proven to be intelligent, inquisitive, loving, affectionate, cuddly, talkative, and very playful. He plays fetch like a pro, and includes the amusing theater of officially “killing” whatever object I have thrown for him before proudly returning it to my feet.

He’ll do just about anything to spend a few minutes batting the drawstrings dangling from any of my hoodies and will jump into my arms when I am least expecting him to do so.

One of my favorite things that he does, though, is stalk me as I walk through the apartment and attack my legs. He never bites. He never uses his claws. He just tags me and runs away. If I don’t ignore it and buy into the game, we end up chasing each other around the house, with my victory more or less assured by the fact that I can pick him up, flip him over, and snorgle him whenever I like.

It sorta pisses him off, but he also sorta loves it.

But I guess I got complacent about that whole opposable thumbs thing. Cocky, even. Because either through sheer luck or a creepily intelligent ability to anticipate what I was about to do, Monster positioned himself in such a way that my single available move involved falling backward on my ass and landing flat on my back.

And if you think that’s bad, the fact that he jumped on my chest to drive his victory home with purring and nose boops seriously burns.

I’ve learned my lesson, little cat. Oh yes, I have. I won’t underestimate you again.

Animal

Hey, kid.
Hop off your tricycle.
Listen.
It’s never too soon to know what you are.

You are Black.

You are.
Black.
A diversity statistic.
A token.
A shoplifting risk.

You are.
Potential trouble.
Definitely trouble.
Going to be suspended.
Not a job prospect.

You are a tangible threat.

Terminology is essential, so keep these in mind:
Y’all don’t rally, you riot.
Y’all don’t assert your rights, you resist arrest.
Y’all don’t find, you loot.
Y’all are not persons fighting for equality, you’re animals.

Animals.

Hey, kid.
Don’t worry.
We’ve got your back.
Three squares a day.
Once we manage to pack you away.

Hey, kid.
Hands up!
Just kidding.
That never works.

Hey, kid.
Nice trike.
Now tell the truth:
Where’d you get it?

Monster

Last month I lost my best furry friend, Thumper. He was pretty much everything to me, so his passing was heartbreakingly difficult. When the vet took him from my arms one last time, she begged me to consider getting another cat someday. In the moment, I couldn’t imagine loving another cat, but I acknowledged that, maybe after an extensive amount of time to grieve and heal, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself.

And then I spent a few days at home. 

And it was quiet. Too quiet.

There was no sound of paws padding across the hardwood floor. There was no cat waiting at or near the front door for me to walk in at the end of my day. There was no critter to tell me that there was insufficient food in his dish, or too much poo in his litter box. There were no cuddles, no nuzzles under my chin, no paws to hold, no motorboat purrs.

I started losing my mind almost immediately. I am a person who needs a critter to love and care for; it’s an integral part of who I am.

So, a few days later I walked into San Francisco Animal Care and Control and met some cats. I wasn’t expecting immediate results, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to visit with some animals and give them some play time and love.

I met several kittens that day. They were all adorable. I wasn’t feeling terribly well, and I was a little overwhelmed by all of the animals. Being who I am, I felt immediately guilty for not being able to give all of them homes. And I did not connect well with any of the kittens I had met. So I was ready to go home, when the volunteer who was helping me pointed out a slightly older black kitten. “What about this one?”

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SPOILER: I TOOK THAT ONE HOME

I shrugged. Well, if nothing else, he matched my wardrobe. So I allowed her to usher us both into the get-to-know-you room and sat down on the floor as she came in with the carrier box. She opened the top. And I knew somewhere between 45 and 60 seconds that this was my cat.

Unlike the rest of the kittens she had brought in for me, he needed no help getting out of the box. He hopped right out and strutted about the room1, tail straight up, full of fucking swag. He cased the room, and then checked me out. When I reached for a toy, my foot shifted and he pounced on it. When I grabbed him, he didn’t object, and when I flipped him onto his back and rubbed his belly he merely grabbed my hand with both of his paws and purred.

When I was finally able to pick him up from the shelter (thank you, Tristan!), it was pretty clear that he knew I was his human, too. The cuddles were immediate, and he followed me from room to room. That first night, as I lay in bed, he curled up beside me, wrapped his paws around my arm, and purred, occasionally stretching to lick my nose.

It was as if he knew how badly I needed those cuddles.

So now I have this kitten. He is made of love and purrs and headbutts and a willingness to burrow under my chin and a love of hugging my hand when I pet his belly and of gently tapping me on the face to get my attention at 5am.

To paraphrase my friend Valerie, nothing will fill the Thumper-shaped hole in my heart, but having this little guy curl up in it is a huge comfort. 

Also, he does this:

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I love my Monster. 

(For hot and cold running pics of an adorable kitten, you can follow me on Instagram.)

 

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