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Legend of the Cat

At midnight's stroke,
On the first Christmas, half the world awoke.
Then out of nest and lair
Came thronging to Bethlehem the wordless folk;
Hurried the beasts of the forest, the birds of the air,
To pay the Lord their homage and His due.


And Cat came, too,
Mincing on delicate feet to see the Child.
But being shy and wild,
Approached no nearer than the hearth; lay dumb
And distant there.
While the rest knelt in praise,
The Cat by too much glory overcome
Could not withdraw her gaze
From the Nativity; could only stare
Through slitted eyes as things of fur and feather
(The deer beside the lion, the pheasant, the hare
Safe in the fox's paws) bent down
together.
Although their anthems lifted all around,
She, in her throat, made only a trembling sound
And could not bow her head.

Yet as the morning dawned
And one by one the other creatures fled
Each to his habitat--
The eagle to his crag and to his pond
The otter--only Cat
Remained beside the dying fire, unable
To quit the place that was both Crib and Stable.


Then Mary spoke aloud.
"Dear Cat," she said, "dear, stiff-necked, proud
And obstinate beast, I bless you. From this hour
Leave wilderness behind you.
Because you stayed, though none shall have the power
To call you servant, yet the hearth shall bind you
Forever to itself. Both fond and free,
Wherever Man is, you shall also be.
And many a family

Will smile to hear you singing (where you settle)
Household hosannahs like a pulsing kettle."


Some winter night
Observe Cat now. Her eyes will suddenly gleam
Yellow against the light,
Her body shudder in a jungle dream,
Her claws unsheath their sharpness. She remembers
Old times, old barbarous customs, old Decembers
Before she called the tribes of Man her friends.
But the dream ends.
Then, reassured, she curls herself along
The floor and hums her cool, domestic song.

Anxiety

At times I wonder if perhaps I've run out of my real-life stories. Then at other times I wonder if perhaps it's my inspiration that has abandoned me. Whatever is the cause, the eventual effect is my being very far behind on my blogs yet again.

It's been a long, hard week for me. One thing after another has managed to pound me into the ground until I'm a mere stump barely visible above the surface of the crap surrounding me. I'm swamped and drowning at work. I'm yelled at and chastised it seems every day. I keep waiting for something to happen; for something to turn around. No matter how long I wait though, I seem to turn blue in the face and find myself gasping for air so that I might attempt once again to hold my breath in anticipation. Anxiety has caused knots in my stomach to form and not be shy about making their presence known. Good things ARE headed my way - just not this week.

Negativity

Negativity has NO place in my life these days.

I've had to deal with severe negativity towards me for the majority of my life. I've been told that I was stupid, that I was awkward, cowardly, ugly, ungainly, bad, wicked and selfish. I've been told that I cost too much money, that I'm never happy and that I caused too much worry. For a long time I believed that completely. Now I know better.

I'm far from stupid. I'm actually a pretty sharp cookie! I retain more information in my memory than most people I know and I've got better grammar than almost every person I know - even if it's not perfect. I have my own opinion on things and I'm perfectly capable of expressing them and still leaving the room highly respected.

My mother used to tell me when I was feeling particularly out of place that I was just going through an "awkward stage" in my life. I hated looking in the mirror when she told me that. I wanted my mom to think I was as pretty as I thought she was. Whenever she said I was awkward, a piece of my self esteem was crushed.

Dad always thought I was cowardly, and yet I was the one who conquered the world on my own over and over, struggling to survive time after time to make it on my own rather than to beg for help from someone else. It's widely known that my first sentence was "I do it by self." That's me to this day. I've done it without them for 13 years now as of December 13th. A coward wouldn't have survived what I've been through. I'm not scared of much of anything.

I've never BEEN ugly, even when I was made to dress like a nun, not taught how to braid my own hair and couldn't wear any makeup except for dances after I turned 16. Even then I wasn't allowed to wear anything but blue eyeshadow. I certainly wasn't up to my full potential, but if I had ever been ugly, I wouldn't have become a model later on in life. If I had continued to believe what they said about me being ugly, the same thing applies. My self esteem would have been crushed and I never would have been in the Harley Davidson catalogue. Until I was in my 20's I fully believed I was ugly though.

I was told over and over again that I was a bad kid. I was accused of being a prostitute at age 13 and accused of being a drug addict at the age of 15 by my own father. I was a virgin until I was 17. It also happened to be the same year I tried Marijuana for the first (and last) time. I figured that if I was being accused of it, I might as well find out what I was begin accused of. I was not a permiscuous kid. I wasn't a drug addict. I hated life, and because I was feeling crushed by my home life, my home life (i.e. parents) crushed right back even harder.

I've never been a selfish person, even when I was a teen or youth. I've never been comfortable with buying things for myself when I know someone else would benefit from a new winter jacket more than I would. I would give every last bite of my own meal to a starving animal, knowing that I would have another meal later on. Even now I have an incredibly hard time spending money on myself. As a kid I would spend all my birthday money every year on Christmas presents for everyone else. I would ask my mother while grocery shopping if we could get a candy bar for my brother since he didn't get to come with us. It didn't matter to me that he didn't want to come.

I've been surrounded by the cowardly, inwardly ugly, wicked and selfish people. For the past few years I've tried hard to get rid of them. For the past year I've been quite successful at cutting them out like a cancer. I'm finished with negative people. I'm a very happy person usually, as long as I keep the outside negativity away from me. It's time to cut back the crap. I won't take it from anyone, related or not.

Not everyone is as strong as I am emotionally. Not everyone would come through what I've been through and end up the way I did.




Just because something says it's a "Birthday Card" doesn't mean it's appropriate to mail to your kid.

Kathy and Louise

All of us have had pivotal moments in our childhood. Whether its an epiphany of age versus time or friends who helped to shape who we have become in our adult lives, there's always those ear mark moments that we remember throughout life, like a favorite poem in a book with the corner of the page folded down so we don't forget where it is. I've had MANY of those moments and I've been blessed with a good memory to remember most of them in immense detail. Some people I know (including my own brother) have managed to block out most of their own childhood.

When I first moved to Victorville CA at the ripe old age of 8 years old, I knew right off that I would have a hard time making friends. It was a while before I had even one friend, and that was my Great Dane named Lady. The neighbor girls Rachel and Rona were friendly, but both were quite a bit younger than I was. They were ok to play with, but we didn't become real friends until we had all been neighbors for a few years. Tina next door was older than I was and nearer my brothers age than mine, and her younger brother was still in the "girls have cooties" stage of life. By the time I was 9 I had all but given up on making any real friends.

I think Kathy and Louise moved into the "Circle" around the same time. They made friends with one another before I discovered the two of them while walking my dog one day. They invited me to play with them. I still remember the game.

It wasn't long after Christmas and all the scraps of used wrapping paper were fluttering in the ditch looking very much like one large gift to us, while to others it looked like a massive junk pile. The three of us (and my dog) spent the day right there in the ditch. We would pick up little bits of trash like old coke bottle lids and discarded nickles and then wrap them in the old bits of paper without using any tape. Then we would give them to one another and play "Christmas Morning" over and over until all the bits of paper finally blew away. They were never bits of trash to us though. That old coke bottle lid was a Barbie hat. The discarded nickel was exactly that - money! Even the used Popsicle sticks had a purpose when we were building rock castles for our toys.

Once all the paper was gone and we were looking for another fun activity, we went to Kathy's front porch where we would pick up the flat desert rocks from the garden and build things on the sidewalk with them. We would build as high as we could before they would tumble all over and we would have to sweep them up. Eventually we developed the Pony Playhouse system. We would build open-top castles for our toys at first. We couldn't figure out how to keep a roof from caving in on them. With the Popsicle sticks we collected with the Christmas game, we finally figured out a plan. They would hold the roof and door frame together so things wouldn't go crashing in around the My Little Pony inside. Later on we abandoned that idea though. It was too hard to get the ponies in and out, unless they were in prison.

Kathy and Louise were easily the best friends I ever had in my childhood. I spent every waking moment with them. Sure, we had our arguments and I would spend a couple of days sulking on my own, or Kathy wouldn't come play with Louise and me. But as best friends always do, we got over it and we moved on. In no time at all, we were like the three amigo's all over again.

Both Kathy and Louise had beautiful blond hair. I always wanted to be like them when I was a kid. I didn't know too many blond kids, and both of them were so pretty. They had the faces of angels, while I looked much more like a troll. Kathy had bangs that were often cut too short and usually always had a pony tail, while Louise had gorgeous naturally wavy hair, like Sleeping Beauty herself. Kathy always had an extremely high opinion of herself while Louise was too humble to take credit for anything she did. It seemed the blond hair was the only thing my two best friends had in common, other than an overwhelming love of all animals.

Louise was obsessed with Bugs Bunny (and loved rabbits everywhere) while Kathy shared my adoration of horses. Louise wasn't allowed to have friends over very often, just like me, while Kathy was always wanting us to play in her room. Louise and I both had an older brother, but they didn't get along much that I recall, other than a brief month one summer where they went into the desert and dug a fort into the dirt. Kathy had one older brother and one younger, named John and Mikey. I had such a crush on John back then. I didn't dare ever tell Kathy that. Kathy and I were both very competitive while Louise was very relaxed and patient with us. Louise was always kind and gentle to all thing and people, while Kathy occasionally had a cruelty streak in her that frightened a lot of other kids that didn't know her very well.

Finally one year at school, Louise and I had the same class with Mr. Steinerson. It was the 5th grade and there were a lot of exciting things coming our way. And yet...

As was the way of Military life, eventually we had to part ways. Louise was the first to move, and Kathy went two weeks after her. I was left alone in that town without a friend to turn to. I went to school the day after she left and Mr. Steinerson asked me to come up to his desk.

"Louise wanted me to give this to you," he said, handing me her eye glass case. I gasped. Did this mean she was coming back? Surely she would need her glasses! I opened the case and I began to cry. There were no glasses inside, but instead a note and a photo of her from the previous school year. I was nearly inconsolable for a week. Every time I started to miss her I would open that eye glass case and see her picture and I would feel better. I truly loved Louise. I missed her terribly. Military life destroyed my childhood, but Louise and Kathy had somehow saved it from complete disaster.

Kathy and Louise had become more than my friends. They had grown to become my sisters in those years we spent together. Kathy sent a Christmas card once, but as with all kids, we loose interest in writing and the three of us completely lost contact.

That never stopped me from looking though. I never gave up the search.



TO BE CONTINUED...

Fighting Time

It's been a while since I've written anything worth reading, and I can only hope that people can forgive my lack of blogging lately. I'm still determined to meet my goal of 365 stories in 365 days, but that means I have some serious catching up to do. Well, now is as good a time as any to get started!

Every year, after about the age of 25 or so, we find it part of our human nature to try and fight the hands of time. We long to turn back the clock. We notice our skin isn't as tight as it once was, lines begin to appear around our eyes and mouth, and gray hairs begin to shine in even the dimmest of light after a couple more years. At this point I've been coloring my hair so long I have no idea what percentage gray my hair is. That's right, I color my hair. I'm in my 30's now, so I can admit it.

I'm in my 30's now. Well, for the past year I've been telling everyone (but only when I'm asked) that I'm barely 30 years old. As of Saturday that will no longer be true. On Saturday I will turn 31, and I won't be just 30, I'll be IN my 30's at last.

Since I was about 15 years old, I've had a strange run of birthdays. It always seemed one year after another something always happened or came up to really destroy any hopes I would have at having a good birthday.

On my 15th birthday, I came down with a fever of 104.2 and could barely stand on my own. My parents both had to work so I laid on the couch down stairs in the family room and cried hot salty tears most of the day without realizing it. I tried once to get up for a drink and fell down. I ended up having to crawl back onto the couch where I moaned in misery, convinced I was going to die.

On my 16th birthday, things should have been great. My friends at school brought me gifts and wished me a happy birthday. My parents even drove up to the school with a sack lunch from Wendy's, and we sat out in the car and ate. I confessed to them that everyone was being very kind to me that day, but something was amiss. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew deep inside something was wrong. I had no idea what it was. I was just very sad for some reason; very quiet and melancholy. That night I discovered that my mom's father, my Grandfather had died early that morning.

On my 17th birthday, I was staying with the Tolmans. They were good people, but all I wanted was a real home with a real family. Right then, that was the closest thing I could find. They were poor, but loving and kind. My favorite gift that year was a black backpack purse that I just adored. When I went back home to my own parents, my Mom made me give it back. She said I didn't deserve it.

On my 18th birthday I was holding a plane ticket to Arizona. I was running away from home for the last time and trying to find a way to tell my parents. Since I was 18 years old, nobody could force me to stay anymore. I was getting out of that horrible state and making my own way through life. My fathers final words to me on the way to the airport were that he and my mother had talked the day before. She said she gave me 6 months before I went crawling back to them, and he gave me three. It was 11 years later before I asked them for any help.

On my 19th birthday I was once more very ill. I was curled up in a ball on the front seat of a Chevy S10 pick up truck for 36 straight hours in the freezing cold fighting double pneumonia while the man I would later on marry drove me from Arizona to Arkansas, and to the place I would call home for a few years. By the time we reached our destination, I could barely move at all and my legs were so cramped they jerked about uncontrollably from involuntary muscle spasms.

On my 20th birthday I was confined to my bed because of a difficult pregnancy that came up out of nowhere. I had just survived being kidnapped and lost, after being abandoned on the side of the road by my grandmother upon the advice of my own father. I went back to an abusive home and husband because I had nowhere else to go. I was miserable, depressed and completely alone out in the middle of nowhere.

On my 21st birthday, I had a new baby screaming his cute little head off at the drop of a pin. I adored him, but I was severely depressed. I had 42 stitches and 22 staples recently removed and was well over 200lbs from being bed ridden for so long with little to no motion for 8 months. I lived in a dry county, so I couldn't even try alcohol for my first time when I was 21, I would have to wait.

On my 22nd birthday I had just gotten a divorce. I couldn't afford to survive on my own and moved in with a friend of mine. I searched for work, but in that small tourist town it was nearly impossible in the off season. When I did finally get a job it was on Mothers Day the following year, working at a restaurant for $2.85 an hour plus tips. The tips weren't much, but I could at least afford food at last.

On my 23rd birthday I had just moved to California from Arkansas. I knew I would never make anything of myself as long as I stayed there. I wanted to see the world! I wanted to travel, take in the sights, try making a living off of my artwork and go to college finally. I had high hopes and dreams. It was within 2 months I realized that I had a long, hard road in front of me. College and traveling would be the least of my goals.

On my 24th birthday I was still in the same place I was in when I first moved to California. I was bored with my life, tired of working (yet again) as a waitress because it was the only work I could seem to get. It was all I was really qualified for. I wasn't even a waitress at one of the nice restaurants, but rather at a mediocre place called Macaroni Grill. I was lucky to clear $50 a night in tips, and it was hard work. I was only given three days a week and I just wasn't cutting it. I couldn't survive on that.

By the time my 25th birthday rolled around, I had finally moved and was living in a MUCH worse part of town. Once more I was working as a waitress, wishing for anything better. I had started working at a Kinko's store as well as the restaurant, but I was living in the basement of someone else's home and I knew there was no way I could keep going the way I was. I dropped weight from working 12 to 16 hour days between the two jobs and became skin and bones. The year leading up to my 25th birthday was when I finally got into modeling. I weighted a total of 120 lbs and was far too thin to be healthy.

By the time I was 26, I had moved back to where I started out for a few months, and then moved again to my own room subleased by my roommate. He had a monster crush on me and it made the entire living situation nerve wracking on me. I stayed in my room most days and hid, pretending to sleep or not be home. Someone in the world had finally taken a chance on me and I got a job as a "Data Entry" person, dispatching calls in a small office. I felt like I was finally going to be ok.

When I turned 27 I was still in that job and that apartment. I had managed to climb the ranks though, and ended up taking over as the head of Sales for North and South America for the entire company while the original head of sales went on maternity leave. It was quite a leap for me. I suddenly went from making $9 an hour to $32,000 a year. It was the most money I had ever made in a year in my entire working life - and it was still poverty level.

By the time I was 28 I was engaged to a man I thought I would be with forever. He was helping me to get into the Highway Patrol, which was what he did for a living. I worked in Private Security for a while after leaving my sales job He made very good money at it and I could almost see the dollar signs in his green eyes. He loved the idea of a double pay check, not of being with me. When it was discovered that I would never make it into the Highway Patrol, or any other police agency for that matter, suddenly I was washed aside like yesterdays news.

Around the time I turned 29, I was fed up with life and everything I had to endure. I ended up going back to Utah for a couple of months and trying to figure out a way to start over. I looked for work everywhere I could. I knew I would take whatever job came my way. After all, I had been the head of Sales for a company in California. Surely I would get another good job. Eventually I did - as a waitress in an Applebee's. I was completely miserable. It's no wonder I didn't stay long. I moved back home to California within 2 months. On the way, my uhaul trailer was stolen with everything I ever owned. I was starting over from scratch.

My 30th birthday, my birthday just a year ago this coming Saturday, was an interesting birthday. My own family (other than my wonderful Uncle Roger who sent me an adorable kitty card) cast me off to the side and completely forgot about me. When finally they remembered that it had been my birthday, they sent me a book that I had accidentally left at their house when I moved away and a western cut shirt with sleeves too short for my mother or myself, then said they simply had the address wrong. I knew the truth. I had been forgotten. It didn't matter though. I wasn't going to let it bother me. I had proven time and time again over many years that I didn't need them. I hadn't expected or wanted anything for my birthday but to be remembered. Instead I was showered with gifts from friends and strangers. People everywhere had heard of what I had gone through with my uhaul being stolen. I had taken a job as Private Security again and had promoted through the ranks at rocket speed. I finally had my own place with no roommates (other than the cat) for the first time in my life in a nice neighborhood. I was making $34,000 a year. Though that was still low by most standards, it was once again the most money I had ever made in my life. I finally felt like I was going to be OK.

Here it is again, that time of year. While wrinkles seem to line the faces of other 31 year olds I see, I still get carded for cigarettes. I don't worry about gray hair because I never see it. I still worry about money, but I know that I'm not stuck waiting on tables and bringing food to people who think waitresses don't deserve tips because they get paid hourly wages too. I recently got what a friend of mine called a "Life Changing" raise, so money is a little less of a concern to me these days.

On Saturday I'm going to be 31 years old.
And I'm OK with that.