Anachostic

My tagline, let me show you it.

Tag Archives: moving on

Changes

Last week, I started the process of relocating my stuff from the bedroom that had served as my office into the lanai which would serve as my new office.  It was a surprisingly difficult effort.  What should have taken a couple of hours or so took many days.  But, although surprising to me, it’s also consistent with some recent difficulties I’ve had in regards to motivation and exhaustion.

On one particular day, after moving a couple of pieces and giving up, I reflected on the moving process.  Why was it so difficult?  There was a time in my youth that I would rearrange my living area nearly monthly.  I loved the different possibilities and the change it brought.  Now it just seemed I wanted things to stay the same.  That’s kind of depressing to think about, which is ironic because it’s depression that’s been holding me back from everything lately.

Without dwelling on that point, this is more about changes.  On a smaller scale, I have to deal with the moving of my stuff between rooms, which will require putting some things into temporary storage.  On a bigger scale, the GF is going through the same thing by moving her stuff to my house, which has to be even more overwhelming and disheartening considering how many things of hers will need to be stored.  And overarching all of this now is our near-term plans to move to another state.

So, for whatever stress I might be feeling about moving my shit in my house, it’s nothing compared to what needs done to move to another place.  First and most importantly, it reprioritizes the improvements that need done to the house in order to maximize resale value.  Some things just can’t be done in time and some may be too expensive to get return on the cost.  But, it’s a real kick in the ass to start doing something.  I always work best on a deadline.

The big move eclipses the small move and the sacrifices become acceptable and even encouraging.  I’m packing up all my music gear, not because I don’t have space for it in my new office but instead because we’re moving out.  It’s not losing out on anything, it’s preparation.  I shouldn’t feel constrained by my new office because I’m not going to be there for very long.  And there’s going to be a period of time where things are going to be even more cramped until we find the ideal house in our new city.

And while moving rooms was stressful to me and I was wondering why that was the case when I used to love change. moving cities is quickly becoming an exciting prospect, despite the looming effort that remains in this house.  I think it might because I’ve found a “why.”  Why am I doing all this stuff to the house, what does it matter?  Well, right now it matters greatly to the future owner of the house.  And at the same time, I’m going to shed anything I might regret doing in this house and the GF and I will start with a clean slate, on equal footing in a new place.

Advertisements

Junk

A quick recap of my life in my house.  I bought the house with my then-fiancee in 2005.  We got married, then divorced in 2010.  I took full ownership of the house in 2016, and that was the end of that.  But you know what refuses to end?  My ex’s mail.

Mail is a pretty well-protected delivery medium, in theory.  In practice, it’s hardly protected at all, with theft and whatnot.  But anyway, you’re technically not allowed to do anything with another person’s mail.  And for a very long time, I was living alone in my house, with all my ex’s mail still being delivered.  I filled up five large garbage bags of her mail for her to collect when she would return.  As you would expect, nothing came of that.

And even after the house became mine, she never filled out a change of address form, so I continued to get her mail.  Technically, I can’t throw it away.  Technically, I can’t contact the sender and tell them to stop sending to this address.  Technically, I can’t fill out a change of address form on her behalf.  There’s really only one allowed course of action: Return To Sender.

So back in April, I finally took action and purchased a rubber stamp:

image

And I have dutifully been stamping every piece of her mail and putting it back in the mailbox to be sent back.  A couple of days after I started this, I got some pieces of that mail back (with my stamp on them!) and I learned this can happen because the automated postal systems read the barcode below the address for delivery.  So I started blacking out the barcode with a sharpie.  And since then, the mail has been tapering off.

The mail coming in could be classified as three levels of importance.  The top level would include bank statements and government correspondence, like the State Department of Revenue (you have no idea).  These mailings stopped after the very first return to sender stamp, as you would expect them to.  The next level would be things like bill collectors (you have no idea).  These did stop after being returned, but it’s also a game of whack-a-mole because there’s always some new collections company buying up old debts.  So, I may be living with these for some time.  The lowest level is presorted junk mail.  These have been sent back countless times and it’s very difficult to get them to stop.  I hope they will at some point.  My guess is they just throw all the returned pieces into a bin and process the addresses whenever they have some free time.  And most larger companies have multiple independent lists, so each department has to get a returned piece and process it at their leisure.

I’m hoping to get to the point of zero mail for that addressee, but you know, there will always be the companies that sneak it in with “…or Current Resident”.  Maybe that’s what they mean with the “’til death do you part” stuff.  They’re referring to junk mail.  But even that’s not true.  I get mail addressed to her dead father, too!  “Not at this address”, indeed!

New Cat Journal, Part 3

It’s been almost a month since new cat Spock (formerly known as Charlie) arrived in the house.  To recap, on his arrival, he crammed himself into the farthest corner of the house, in my office.  It took a few days for him to leave the office and begin exploring the house.  Then he opened up and started being obnoxious.  He’s a talker.  He talks to himself all the time as he wanders the house.

Suddenly one day, he started hiding under the bed and didn’t want to come out for anything.  Coinciding with that event, I had moved his litter box and now had a pile of diarrhea where the box previously was.  A trip to the vet was inconclusive.  To try and calm Spock down, I started playing music in the house.  Whether it was the music or he just got over whatever sickness he had, things went back to normal.  The vet had wanted to put Spock on anti-anxiety medication, but that’s just something I can’t get behind.  The vet also suggested a pheromone diffuser might help.  I had tried one back when Bubbles and Rump were constantly fighting and it didn’t have any effect on them, so I wasn’t fully on board there, either.

Last weekend, the GF and I made an attempt to get everyone together.  That meant bringing the dog and the new kitten into Spock’s territory.  The house was segmented into three areas.  The guest bedroom was occupied by the kitten, the master bedroom and lanai were Spock’s domain, and the dog had the rest of the house.  For the most part it went ok.  Spock hated most all of it and spent as much time as possible under the master bed.  He puffed up like a balloon when he saw the dog and hissed nonstop at the kitten when he was dragged out to socialize.  However, despite all that stress, I was still able to teach him how to use the cat door out to the pool area.  After everyone went home, Spock had to re-investigate the entire house again.

The GF made the decision that the Feliway diffuser should be tried and ordered one to be shipped to my house.  When the package arrived on Sunday, I immediately set it up and plugged it in, in the outlet right above his food bowl.  Within a few hours, Spock was actually hanging out in the living room, not hiding under the master bed.  He stayed in the living room most all day.  He wandered less and meowed less.  It was a dramatic change in behavior over the previous days and even over the past month.  Spock was actually normal.

I’ve successfully relocated his litter box out of the office, which is good, although the carpet is now ruined and will have to be replaced.  Oh well, it was due anyway.

New Cat Journal, Part 2

I got a new cat last night.  It’s the same cat I got last Saturday, but it’s definitely a different cat.  He’s changed from a timid lap cat to an obnoxious, wild kitten.

As I’d discussed previously, new cat Charlie has been having a pretty rough go in his new home.  He has been scared of everything, every sound, every room, every corner.  All he wants to do is sit in my lap in the office and be pet.  His food, water and litterbox are all in the office, so he has no reason to ever leave.

Yesterday, I had to go to work, like most people have to, so that left Charlie in the house all by himself for about 10 hours.  When I got home, as soon as I got in the house in the laundry room, I called him, hoping he would be out of the office.  Well, he wasn’t in the office.  I eventually found him in the laundry room, tucked in a corner.  I walked right by him and he didn’t make his presence known.  Sigh.

The night went on and Charlie got his attention in the office, but I had to go to bed, like most people have to, so I left him as I had before and went to bed.  At around midnight, Charlie starts crying for me.  I wake up and go give him some attention.  I go back to bed and around 1:15, the crying starts again.  This time, I carry him back to bed with me.  I make him stay on the bed for a while and he seemed mostly happy, but restless.  So I let him jump down and figured he’d just disappear under the bed for the night, which would be perfectly fine as long as I could get some sleep.

Instead, Charlie started exploring the bedroom, closet, and bathroom.  Because I know he hates the open area between rooms, I picked him up and carried him back to the office.  I put him down a little outside the office and sat down on the floor.  Charlie wasn’t interested in going in the office and sleeping.  He was now interested in exploring, as long as I protected him.

So we worked our way around the house and just like that, Charlie got all of his confidence back.  He jumped up on the bar bench, the kitchen counter, and drank from the open-area water bowl, then we worked our way back to the bedroom.  He jumped on the bed, crawled under the bed and came right back out, went in and out of the closet.  All things he was too afraid to do before.  So, great, he’s fine with the house now and I can go to bed.

No, I can’t.  Charlie also found his voice.  He’s quite vocal.  He chirps, squeaks, and meows a lot.  And he’s active.  He jumped on and off the bed many times, laying against me, then leaving over and over.  I got little to no sleep.  And on top of that, he suddenly decided he likes chewing on fingertips.  So petting his head has to be done in a very careful manner because he used to just headbutt, but now he snaps at you.  The change in personality is drastic.

We’ll have to see how he behaves when I get home tonight.  It’s always a mystery bag getting a new cat.  You never really know what you’re getting.

New Cat Journal

Saturday, I brought home a new cat.  It’s been exactly two months since I lost my old cat.  This was an adoption from a friend of a friend.  His name is currently Charlie, but it’s hard to say what it will eventually be.  He’s your average white and multicolor tabby cat. 

I drove him home today and this is the first cat I’ve had that does a freakout in the cat carrier – scrabbling and thrashing around.  He was so spastic he scratched his own nose.  Great, injured on the first day of parenthood.  That makes me look like a perfect pet owner.  However, I turned on some smooth jazz and he was chilled out for the rest of the trip.

Then when I got home, I let him out of the carrier and he was expectedly a little upset by his new surroundings.  I let him do his exploring, which didn’t really go how I expected.  After leaving him on his own for a little bit, I went in search of Charlie and he had jammed himself in a corner behind a drawer unit.  That’s pathetic.  He let me reach in and pet his head, so he wasn’t panicked, just scared.

A little while later, he came out and hid a little more in the open.  I picked him up and he was ok with being held a little.  I sat with him on the floor and he stretched out against me but after a bit, he went back to his corner.  The next couple hours were spent on the floor beside me while I wrote this.  I once carried him out to the kitchen area where his food and water were and he had no interest in it, slinking back to the office.  I guess if there’s going to be a favorite room for Charlie, the office might as well be the one.

His acclimation took quicker than I thought given his initial behavior.  He started coming out of the corner to my hand within half an hour.  He would chill out beside me at the desk.  Sometimes he would do some quick grooming licks, which was encouraging.  Within two hours he would jump up onto my lap on his own accord.  During an extended lap session, he started swishing his tail.  Up to that point, he had kept his tail tucked or tight against his body in a fearful posture.  He explored and sniffed some objects nearby, but still was skittish at every sound the house made.  I don’t think he realizes he’s the only cat here.  Now he’s on the floor stretched out and grooming, tail extended.

Charlie ended up spending the first night in the office alone.  When I woke up in Sunday morning, I went to see him and he was sociable.  I carried him to the master bedroom and held him on my lap while he stressed about being in a new room.  After a while, I let him down and he slinked back to the office.  Once back in his room, he was happy again and I praised him for the effort.

A couple hours later, I pulled him back to the bedroom and tried again.  Charlie was less upset this time and when he jumped down, he didn’t leave the room.  Instead, he crawled under the bed.  The foster family told me he likes to hang out under furniture, so I figured this would be fine.  He spent many hours under there.  When I would check on him, he seemed content, stretched out or grooming.  Lots of yawning.  But he didn’t want to come out just yet.  After about 8 hours , Charlie still had no interest in coming out.

At the 11 hour mark, I’d had enough.  He wasn’t coming out for food or play or petting, so I pulled the mattress down and dragged him out.  He didn’t protest, but at the same time, he did not like the transport through the house to “his room”.  Once in his safe zone, though, he started purring again and was eager to jump up and sit in my lap.  Then he noticed the food and had his dinner.  Then more lap time.  Then down on the floor.  Then MORE lap time.  He’s a pretty clingy cat when he’s not hiding.  If he had his way, he’d sit in my lap all day.

In the second overnight spent in the office, Charlie used his litterbox, which I consider a great success.  In the morning, he was eager for his wet food, and drank a lot of water while I supervised.  As far as I can tell, he hasn’t explored outside the office, although at one point earlier in the evening, when he was happy and excited, he unexpectedly chased me into the hallway.  Without wanting to push his comfort level, I stopped and we went back into the office, where he stayed.

Thinking back to Rump’s acclimation process, she spent many of her first days shut in the spare bedroom.  Ever since then, that was “her” room.  If you were in her room, she was very pleased to spend time in there with you.  I expect the same thing will be true of Charlie, that he will always have his room in the office.  As long as he gains enough confidence over time to roam the house, that will be fine.  But we’re only on day three right now.  Plenty of time to grow.

The Long Lost Tail Of Rump

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve become petless.  Last night I had a browse on the website of my local SPCA, which was sad – reading the stories of how these cats came to the shelter.  Then I followed that up with a browse of my county animal control website, which was sadder in that the pets didn’t really have backstories, just how old the cat was and how long they’d been at the facility.  I concluded with browsing the “lost pets”, which left me rather broken, because these cats had no story at all and only a single portrait taken in their arrival carrier, looking despondent and/or scared to death.

Part of the reason the “lost pets” section affected me so much was that I have a personal experience with it, which reminded me that I have yet to write my tribute to my lost companion.  So without further delay, here is her story.

On Halloween of 2005, I went outside on my way to the neighbor’s house for a small holiday get-together.  Just outside, in the driveway, was a cat.  My neighborhood has many stray cats running around, so it wasn’t anything too unusual.  I squatted down and called to the visitor and to my surprise, she came running right over and pressed against me.  None of the other cats have ever been interested in attention before, so I found this strange.  She let me pick her up, so I did and carried her across the street to show my (now ex-)wife.  A dog that was at the party scared the cat out of my arms and I just shrugged the whole incident off.

DSC02069DSC02068The next day, my ex tells me the cat is now hanging around at the house.  I wasn’t interested in another cat, we got one for free when we bought the house.  But unfortunately, the ex had fed the new cat already, so I suppose she’s ours now.

We made plans to get her all caught up on her shots before we brought her into the house with the other cat.  I made the vet appointment for later in the week.  However, the next day, the new cat stopped coming around.  The food went untouched for a couple of days and my ex started getting worried.  I was less worried, thinking the cat had just gone back to her original family, or someone else adopted her and took her inside without the same level of preparations we were making.

The ex couldn’t be talked out of this, so she started going out and looking for the cat and talking to people she met, asking if they’d seen a cat around that had no tail.  A couple more days of this and someone tipped her off that a house at the end of the street traps the neighborhood strays and turns them in to animal control.  The ex calls animal control and asks about the tailless cat.  Unsurprisingly, they are of no help on the phone and say we have to come to them to find out if the cat is there.  So that becomes the priority for the next day.

DSC02115We arrive at the animal control shelter and they take us to the incoming cages.  In these long cages are numbers of cats.  We see the first cage, not there.  The next cage, not there, just some kittens climbing the chain link.  The next cage, not there.  We get to the last cage (the one I assume is the last stop before the back room) and call her hastily-chosen name, “Rump”, and one cat, in the back of the cage, gets up and quickly trots to the front, shying away from her hissing companions.

To say we were happy is quite an understatement.  To look back and consider the situation, it was really miraculous – that we got there just in time to prevent Rump from being euthanized, that Rump recognized us immediately after only spending a couple of days with us, and that Rump knew we were there to get her.

WP_20160416_001We were then shown into an office where an officer discussed the case with us.  The officer asked if Rump was our cat.  We said, no, she’s a stray, but we have a vet appointment for her.  The officer told us that we can’t adopt her because she’s feral.  This perplexed us.  How did they make that determination?  Apparently, Rump was not very pleasant with the impounding officer.  Her intake photo (the one that ends up on “lost pets”) showed her screaming at the camera through a cage.  The ex indignantly told the officer that’s how any cat would feel if she was being manhandled by a stranger.  I tried to be a bit more diplomatic and asked if there was any other way we could adopt her.  There was no adoption route for Rump, but we could claim her as our pet and we would have to pay fines and fees for the impoundment.  We would have to provide proof of vaccinations and neutering.  Additionally, I would have to attend a “responsible pet owner” education class.  I agreed to all of it.

DSC02089I signed a lot of paperwork and paid a fair amount of money to release Rump from prison, then it was off to the vet.  As it turns out, the vet appointment I had made earlier was that actual day.

I found out Rump was already spayed and she got her shots, which kind of doped her up for the rest of the day.  But she was now allowed inside and was given a soft bed to sleep in, closed in on the lanai.  This was her space for a while until the vaccinations settled in and also until she got used to seeing our other cat.

WP_000077The existing cat, Bubbles, was never very fond of Rump, and the feeling was mutual.  Rump would stalk Bubbles throughout the house and worst of all, when she was in the litter box.  This went on for a very long time, despite the few times where they would actually tolerate each other enough to be on the bed at the same time.

Rump’s experience with being a stray, combined with sharing the house with another cat caused her to do a lot of stress eating.  If there was food, she was going to eat it.  Bubbles used to be fine with leaving dry food down all day, but with Rump in the house too, Rump would eat it all.  I assume Rump was constantly in fear that there wouldn’t be another meal or that Bubbles would eat it all, leaving nothing for her.  It was impossible to convince her otherwise.  As you would expect, Rump became very plump.

Time went on, and my ex moved out and moved on with her life, and Bubbles eventually became old and had to be put to sleep, leaving Rump as the sole queen of the house.  Without Bubbles, her diet became normal again and she went down to a less obese weight, but remained flappy.

DSC02080Rump was always a dog-like cat, as most Manx cats are reported to be.  One of her most distinct behaviors was leaning her haunch against your leg, like a dog.  She was a rough-and-tumble cat, playing rough was enjoyable for her.  She could get mad at you, but would make up with you the very next second.

Rump loved everyone she ever met.  She was very kind, friendly, and outgoing.  She enjoyed being the center of attention; the more people that were around, the more she would show off – racing in and out of the room or leaping between countertops to get attention.

Rump was a loving companion for 13 years and had a personality that showed two cat-skeptics that cats can be affectionate and trusting instead of aloof and brooding.  All in all, a good life for everyone involved.

WP_20151224_025

I dig a well / I dig it deep / And for my only love / I plant a cedar tree / The best / The best we ever had
Cedar Tree – Indigo Girls

All Things Must Pass

It was a little over a year ago that I knew my phone was obsolete.  I was one of the few, brave Windows Phone users remaining and Microsoft had announced that there was a Samsung Android phone being sold as a “Microsoft Edition”.  That simply meant the phone was preloaded with all the MS Android apps and you could get assistance on using it at a Microsoft store.  Whee.

And this change was a surprise, but not really so, since there was a Microsoft division that was doing nothing but writing nice software for Android and iOS and not writing anything for Windows Phone.  The up-and-coming mobile powerhouse apps hadn’t been developing for Windows Phone for a very long time.  But none of that was a concern for me, since all I needed was a way to call, text, read email, and browse the web when I was bored.  And play Solitaire. A Windows Phone did all that just fine.  Until it didn’t.  And that became infuriating, because I don’t ask much from my phone.

Early in my WP days, I used to visit Yahoo’s news site, but then Yahoo changed something and the pages started locking up, where I couldn’t scroll anymore.  So, I switched to MSN and happily used their news site for many years.  Recently, though, an odd bug started happening.  After a minute or so on a page, the page would reload, sending me back to the top of the article.  And it would happen again a minute or so later.  And again.  Then the browser would literally give up.  It would display this message:

wp_ss_20180320_0002

Now, there’s a message to piss off your users.  “We’re having trouble so we’re not going to try anymore.”  And when you clicked Back, you didn’t return to the previous page, your history was wiped out and you went back to the Start page.  Keep in mind, this is a Microsoft device, using a Microsoft web browser on a Microsoft website.  And it doesn’t work.  I’ve determined the root cause of the bug is the advertisements injected into the page by script, but without any ad-blocker or other customizations, a fix is out of my control.

Another recent shutdown Microsoft did was of Zune>XBox Music>Groove Music.  I don’t use streaming services, so I didn’t think it was a big deal.  But I also didn’t think it was going to affect Cortana’s music search feature (which is like Shazam).  I searched for a song recently and I got:

wp_ss_20180427_0001

Good job finding that song.

So that’s it.  I made up my mind I’m going to do what Microsoft wants me to do, switch to Android.  Now, where before I had a few available models of Windows Phone, I now have a choice of probably thousands of phones.  Which one should I get?  As a creature of habit, I chose a new model from an old company.  The Nokia 6.1.

Soon, I’m going to be able to be up-to-date on all the apps.  I can start collecting rewards from stores and restaurants.  I can start tracking this and that through apps.  I can use any fitness tracker I want.  I can play games – all the games.  I won’t have to get all pissed off and feel left out when I see:

image

And hopefully, I can browse a goddamn web site without the pages reloading until the browser just shits the bed.

I ordered the phone on Amazon for all of $287, which I think is pretty cheap.  What do current phones go for now?  A good place to buy Android phones is the Microsoft Store.  Let’s see.  5 models for sale:  1 Windows Phone (out of stock), 3 Android Samsungs, and 1 Android Razor.  They are priced from $699 to $929.  Nope, I will not be getting any of those.  I don’t need a $1000 Solitaire game device.

Holding On

I read a recent post by AK that flew right in the face of a hobby I’ve been cultivating.  It’s something I’ve been doing for a little while and is really only one facet of the other side of the Letting Go story.  The hobby (and obsession for some) is “archival”.

First, I’m no stranger to purges and I feel the same satisfaction from downsizing as anyone with too much stuff would.  However, sometimes, regret comes back to haunt me.  It’s not the loss of a blender or a stack of towels that I miss.  It’s usually something less utility and more historically significant, which usually carries some emotion with it.  When I say historically significant, I don’t mean like a piece of the Berlin wall, I mean something that represents a period of your life.  And even though there is emotion and significance behind it, there is also a strong element of uselessness.

I ‘ve read a little on the KonMari method and internally nodded my head up until I got to the point where it was explained that we hold on to things for two main reasons: the future and the past.  In the case of the future, we don’t want to get rid of something because we may have a future use for it.  That’s a rational argument, but I usually tackle that by reminding myself that when I need it in the future, I can buy the latest and greatest version of what I need.  (Ironically, the latest version of most things will probably be made shoddier and overall be worse in quality, so…) That kind of mindset would make older generations freak out.  How wasteful!

In the case of the past, which is where my archivist neuroses kick in, you are afraid of losing a bit of your identity.  The modern philosophy is to live in the present, which, expressed in outrageous terms, is hedonistic.  If you disregard your past and do not plan your future, what is life?  A day-to-day experience with no permanence.

And, many would agree, the past is highly important, on a personal and societal level.  I’m not going to go to the levels of psychoarchivists who want to preserve absolutely everything, but I do believe that you need to have a record of your past in more than simple digital records.

I have a box in which I keep all my ephemera.  I have items going back to my teenage years, which I believe are personally socially significant.  One of the most useless things I have is a rubber hand with formable fingers.  Yes, at the time, it was usually used to flip people off and it has literally zero value today, but it’s a part of my past and is a useful prop when sharing my life story with someone.  Everybody loves props.

I have an old horoscope paper which used to be sold in little plastic tubes back in the day.  I have memorabilia from past jobs – old name tags, signs, magnets.  You could find some of these things in thrift shops and consignment stores and that is where the great disconnect happens.  People think these things have value.  They only have value to the person who acquired them.  You can’t buy a memory from a store.  I would never try to replace anything from my memory box from a store.  Like a child’s replacement teddy bear, it’s not the same.

So back to the KonMari method.  You might surmise that I would keep everything in my memory box because it gave me joy.  That’s not entirely true.  It rekindles a memory.  And more importantly, the loss of not having those items is greater than the cost of keeping them.  There is a time in a friendship where you finally feel comfortable baring yourself for another person, and that is when the memory box comes out and is shared.  To not have a physical record of your personal highs and lows would be a shame.  You can flash all the photos and videos on the screen that you want, but to be able to touch someone’s past is unique and special.

Congratulations, One Way Or The Other

January is officially ending.  January is unofficially “Dump Month”, so either congratulations on making it through and keeping your relationship intact, or hats off to you for making the decision to move on and have a better life in the future.

January is classified as Dump Month because no one wants to ruin the December holidays with a breakup, but no one also wants to try and fake it with Valentine’s Day.  And hey, new year, new you, right?  Resolutions and all that stuff.  And if you’re the one who didn’t make the choice to end the relationship, fuck that other person.  You were being held back anyway.  2018 is going to be the best year yet, and you are going to be the one responsible for it.  There is no loss, here.

But, if you are happy in your relationship (as I have been for a great many years), or if you aren’t in a relationship at all, go ahead and get smug.  If you are paired up, love your partner.  If you’re more than paired up, love them all.  If you’re not paired up, love yourself.  For all of you, the only thing you have to worry about is taxes.

In just a few days, everyone is going to be losing their mind over valentines and candy and hearts and pink and OMG, the special dinner that you can’t get reservations for anymore because there’s so many fucking people now and they all want to make things perfect for their SO’s when a certain number of them are probably thinking, “I missed Dump Month again this year and now I’m stuck paying for Filet Mignon for two.”  So, you newly single and not-newly single can get your smug on in just a couple of days.

In the “research” I did for this post, I learned that January is also Slow Cooker Month, which is a stupid name contrived simply to avoid using a trademarked name.  It’s fucking Crockpot Month, people.  And for those with crockpots, you should make a dump meal in honor of this event.  A dump meal is a stupid name also, because poop.

I also learned that the film industry has “dump months” where all the shit movies are released because expectations are lower.  January is a dump month for them too. 

See, it’s all about getting rid of the junk.  Whether shitty plotlines, shitty actors, shitty leftover food, or shitty partners, January is the month to dump them.  There’s still time left.

A Ghost Of Christmas Past

Last night, the GF and I were eating dinner at home, a rare occurrence, and my phone chimed, also a rare occurrence.  We were both surprised by it.  Who could it be?  My asshole brother?  AK?  T-Mobile?  I don’t get a lot of texts from anyone, and especially later in the evening, so I was curious.  I went over to the counter and got my phone, then opened up the messages app.  It wasn’t any of our original guesses.  It was an unexpected contact.  It was my ex-wife.

When I first saw the name, I was shocked.  I read the message, but it didn’t really sink in.  I read enough individual words to make out what it was about.  The message was benign.  She didn’t care about me or wish me a happy holiday or life or anything.  She just wanted to know how the cat was doing and maybe get some new pictures of her.  My immediate reaction was, “Nope.”

I have not had a single communication with this woman since I got all her shit out of the house 18 months ago.  I will admit, I had a morbid fascination of following her DUI trial through the online clerk of court records, but that wrapped up in March of this year and I haven’t cared since.  Life has been excellent ever since I got my house back and never had to think about her again.  Yes, I still get mail addressed to her, but that’s no different than getting mail for the house’s previous owners, which also still happens.

There’s countless ways I can handle this situation, and I’ve thought through quite a bit of them.  There’s plenty of replies that could be made.  I could say fuck off.  I could say, “who are you?” and pretend my phone number is no longer valid.  I could say the cat died just last week and make her feel terrible.  I could say the cat died last year and make her feel bad for not checking in earlier.  I could put her number online and let the Internet have its way with her.  All these different ways of retribution for contacting me out of the blue on such a stupid premise.

But, despite the schadenfreude of seeing her life go down in flames from a DUI conviction, I am not a vengeful person.  I also actively avoid conflict.  And, as I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve found myself to become a minstrel, always focusing on the positive.  So, after recovering from the shock of being contacted by an unpleasant memory of my past, I try to empathize.  She is probably not having a happy holiday.  She is probably alone.  She is obviously having nostalgic memories of her former pet.  So, her life is certainly not as good as mine is.

So, should I cheer her up and send her some recent pictures of the cat?  Be a Santa Clause and brighten her day?  Be the better person and engage in holiday cheer?  No.

While all of those things are laudable and good and kind, every person has an obligation to self-preservation.  And in this case, opening up a line of communication and engaging would threaten that delicate bubble of happiness I have in my life right now.  The received message alone was like an incoming projectile that rattled the defensive walls I erected over a year ago.  Why would I open up the gate and lower the drawbridge?  Likewise, why should I fire back?  The best course of action is simply to not respond. 

Nowhere is it written that says you have to sacrifice your happiness for another’s happiness.  In fact, it is a common truth that providing happiness for another should provide happiness for yourself.  If that is not what is happening, you need to re-evaluate.  This is the Christmas holiday and there is a lot of pressure to spread joy and happiness.  But, if you can’t do it without causing yourself grief, you should scale back your glad tidings.