Where were you?

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I hear a piercing cry from somewhere in the house. It’s a small house, but sound carries and bounces and hides. I do a full circuit, glancing in all of the usual places, and get halfway around again before I hear another cry, this time from upstairs.

“Zen? Zen?” She can’t have gone far; she’s almost twenty-one years old, and “running” isn’t in her repertoire anymore.

I reach the top of the stairs but she is not in sight, so I walk down the hall into the bedroom. No, nothing in here. I walk back out and she is standing at the top of the stairs, gazing down.

For a moment, I watch her contemplating her own existence, or staring into the middle distance — it’s not always clear which is which, with cats or humans. But it’s not long before I can help myself from saying, softly, “Hey.”

She looks at me and makes the different sound, the purr-trill that I’ve come to know as, “Where were you?”

I scoop her up and carefully descend. She’ll settle again for a little while, until a chill or the wind or a bad dream or existential dread will rouse her from twitch-ridden sleep. Like she is mourning an old friend, Zen’s cries will rise and slide up the wooden bannister until I, bleary with my own bad dreams, will go and find her again.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the low hum of the space-heater. Welcome to Holidailies, a free community writing project that promotes sharing your writing and other online creative endeavors during the winter holiday season.

Fragility in fur.

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Zen, August 2017.

Zen, August 2017.

Born and forged in hothouse Alabama, Zen is a creature of heat. Throughout this week’s heat wave, she has sought out the warmest parts of our home. Like the corner of the eaves which — despite sounding like a place of great magical power in a children’s book series — is an infernal pocket of breath-sucking dryness. When not upstairs, Zen lounged on her heating pad during our 100°+ days.

I caught her once or twice splayed out on the wood floors, cooling herself off, but then she’d heft herself up and trek upstairs.

Stairs don't faze Zen, not even at 20. #tortitude

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This morning, the heat has let up a bit. Zen has found a patch of sunshine. In photos like this one, I can pretend I don’t see the gauntness that has partially deflated her football shape. Zen has always loved the heat, but now she needs it because she doesn’t have the padding that used to keep her warm. Kneeling before her, half-dappled in sunlight, I bury my face in her fur. She hooks one paw over my forearm and kneads, purring, while my fingertips graze the tiny ridges of her vertebrae. Maybe soon, I think, but not yet.

Not yet.

This week.

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Life

That was quite a week, wasn’t it? Someone’s been busy. All I did was go to work, get a haircut, and try not to lose my damned mind over every New York Times app notification. Even my trusty Lamy 2000 fell apart.

At least Zen has had a great week. In between “spa treatments” (read: subcutaneous fluids) she’s been hand-fed baby food and otherwise fussed over pretty much non-stop.

Work

For every task I completed, I added three more to my to-do list. And next week begins with catalog upgrades, which means downtime, which means falling even further behind. January: snowed under on both metaphorical and literal levels.

Media

I started reading again! Currently I’m alternating between Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass.

FunkyPlaid and I watched an episode of Daredevil, but were too bored to continue. We moved on to Black Mirror, which is terrific but probably not the best thing to be watching at the moment.

Aurally, it’s mostly movie soundtracks and Jelly Roll Morton for me.

On the Internet

Ink o’ the Week

Noodler’s Ottoman Azure: deep sapphire blue with plenty of shading for capturing the nuances of melancholy.

Featured photo: the sign we put up in our yard.

This Week

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Life

So many things were disrupted this week that I don’t know where to start. I’ll start with the most important: despite a health scare, Zen is okay.

On Thursday morning, Zen started to show signs of discomfort due to constipation, and by the early afternoon her health appeared to have deteriorated rather quickly. Despite our vet being closed due to the weather, we managed to get her an appointment with an emergency vet six miles away. But neither FunkyPlaid nor I could drive due to the state of the roads. Portland’s largest cab company had just stopped answering the phone, and another cab company let me schedule a cab ride hours in advance but then never called to tell me that they were running 30-45 minutes behind schedule. Thank goodness for Lyft drivers with chains and 4-wheel drive.

48 hours of hospitalization later, Zen is starting to approach her old self. She is still worn out from the procedures, but she is eating and drinking and purring and cuddling. Right now she is happily curled up in her favorite cardboard box. Her prognosis is good, especially for a cat about to turn twenty, and I am so grateful.

Of course, I have been a total wreck over this, plus I came down with my own illness on Thursday morning (a standard yet persistent head-cold), so it has not been the greatest of weeks on record.

And then there’s the snowpocalypse. Portland pretty much shut down on Tuesday evening and started to open back up again on Friday morning, but as of this writing the roads in our neighborhood are still packed with snow and ice. FunkyPlaid has been an expert forager, but I’m really, really, really tired of not being able to do basic things like drive to work or even walk to the bus stop safely.

Work

I only had a two-day work week, and although I tried to enjoy the enforced downtime I am fairly stressed about everything that has piled up and is waiting for me tomorrow morning. RescueTime tells me that I have been 50% productive this week, which seems high for being snowed in and having a sick cat and the lurgy.

Media

I was too restless to spend much time reading, but Mini Metro has been an exceptionally good distraction in times of stress. It’s a subway layout game; what’s not to love?

Spotify’s Winter Classical playlist is a treat, especially on snow days.

As a side note, I upgraded my car’s software so it now has CarPlay, which means I can listen to Spotify on the way to work! If I ever get to drive my car again.

FunkyPlaid and I are almost finished with Luke Cage and are loving the soundtrack too. I also have a lot of reading to do.

On the Internet

Standing room only. #snowpocalypse #pdxtst

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Ink o’ the Week

Kaweco Summer Purple: a muted, calming purple. Breathe. Visualize the snow melting away … there, that’s better.

Day 357 of Project 365: Zen’s new hiding place.

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Zen didn’t get up to say goodbye as I was heading to the airport, but that’s okay. She has a new hiding place: right in front of the register, underneath the nesting tables. 

I tried to move the tables and put her bed there, but she just folded herself up underneath the tables and looked disappointed. Message received. I’ll miss this little weirdo but I’m looking so forward to seeing FunkyPlaid for a few days!