Once Bitten, Twice Shy

IMG_2105 - 2014-11-26 at 15-09-21

“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.”  ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

It looks likely that there will be a third cup of coffee today, for me. Same old same old. Sore puffy eyes, faint feelings of impending insolvable dilemmas, disparate aspirations. No wonder I need a third cup of coffee – I seem to be living life a little too fully. You can only take in so much before you start looking like Chris Farley, in an actor’s role, feigning indignation. Something’s gotta give. And my life is pretty darned simple. I can only imagine if it were otherwise.

Today’s opening photo is of Chester the cat. I know that it is obvious that Chester is a cat, it’s just that I like to tag the obvious when speaking of my dear animal friends. I revere cats. They amaze me. Chester is a mellow guy. I’ve never seen him riled at all. But the truth is that I have no focus for today’s blog post here at EyeYotee. I love Chester and he loves me. That’s gonna have to suffice because I am overwhelmed and have only just now admitted that to myself.

A few days ago our new Executive Director at the animal shelter asked me if I had a workman’s comp claim back in May of this year. I told him no. But I soon remembered the cat bite that graced me with the most intense pain I have ever felt. I’m talking broken bones and rheumatic fever – nothing ever hurt like that cat bite. I have to report that the cat and I remain good friends. When I told the director what I had just remembered, and described the bite to him, he squirmed, very much like I did when the cat bit me. As I write this morning I find myself looking back at some of the traumatic events since I began working at the shelter. Two stand out: that bite, and the crucifixion of our former staff veterinarian. I can understand the first – the cat and I had a conflict of interest. It’s that simple. But the thing with the vet still haunts me to this day. Hearsay begat hearsay begat hearsay and the whole thing snowballed, leaving pertinent facts behind. I’ve been through this before in this blog. I don’t need to repeat myself to say that sadness is my first and foremost feeling about the controversy that sent the vet packing. I’d like to leave it at sadness but I won’t, I can’t. The whole thing gives the phrase “it is what it is” a bad name.

I’ve got a full day ahead of me and I’d best get to it. If I don’t get bitten I will consider the day to be a success. If I get overwhelmed with a tsunami of human politics – ummm – I’ll get back to y’all on that. Truth is I don’t know what I’d do. Bandages and antiseptics would do jack diddly-squat for something like that.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

Advertisements

Dancer In the Storm

 

IMG_2110 - 2014-11-27 at 13-01-41

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” ~ Charles de Lint

I went in search of magic on Thanksgiving Day. This in itself is not unusual for me, scraping away a layer or two of consensus so that I can see better, or simply and reverently marveling at the miracle and mystery that is our basic existence. My brother wanted a photo of the tree out at “the Horseshoe” which is the intimidating engineering marvel where State Highway 68 finds it’s way down into the Rio Grande Gorge, heading south. From where the tree stands a panoramic view of the gorge is all encompassing, at least for me. Daunted by the needed driving skills to navigate the turns and drop-offs I missed the  roadside place to pull over and park by the tree. This put me on the spot, and I had to drive a few miles down into the gorge, where I could find a place to turn around and head back. The drive, the scenery, is magnificent, but in my state of high anxiety it was anything but. All the way down and back up I was nearing the verge of a true panic attack. Even after a rest stop at a tiny beach along the river I quivered my way along, expecting the worst in spite of my attempts to lay positive thinking atop my mental and physical distress. But I managed to pull over along side the road, just across from where the tree stands. This was no small task for me. It scared the friggin bejeezes out of me.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”  ~ William Butler Yeats

After one week of a severe down cycle, preceded by a brief, maybe sixteen hours, spell of mild mania, I finally feel I can breathe again. The mania is something rare for me, rare for bipolar 2 disorder, so perhaps I triggered the downslide by sheer trepidation alone. One can never know for sure if such mood swing are simple mismanagement rather than the product of momentum. Not that it makes a difference in the thick of it, but perhaps it does in retrospect. Learning, cognizing, and evolving, must be welcomed if finding a purpose for mental illness is the preferred goal. It’s my goal, for sure, because if there is no purpose there is no movement, and movement is the only thing that provides a road out of the deep, like the road leading out of the gorge. I had no idea that I was headed for a metaphor but there you have it. Metaphors and archetypes are fine traveling companions along that road. Now, let’s have a look, let’s head into the light.

The One Tree

Sure, it’s a software-produced effect but it shows how I can see things when the magic is in effect for me. Because I am aligned with the Celtic pantheon of divine beings I often need a mist to lend me access to the realm of magic, yet at times the mist is not a material weather phenomenon. Sometimes the mist is internal, an effect of the mind. This hints at a purpose for mental illness. The mind goes all hazy and stuff, then dark. My Celtic guardian angel, Brighid, usually leads me back out of the darkness, if I get stuck. She, like a good therapist, helps to scrape off a few layers of doubt and pain, revealing the magic that lies within the process, then the process enfolds the magic, which works from within to foster creativity, a drive that holds back the darkness long enough to foster emergence rather than the hidden forces that instead foster stultifying fear. That’s me today, the creative one, not the hidden one, aligned intimately with the Green Man, who met me at the tree yesterday.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

 

 

A Mystery of Ginormous Dimensions

IMG_1153

“The best way out is always through.” ~ Robert Frost

Most often the morning’s quiet is soothing and welcome, like a lull in a storm, or like a yawn snuck in unseen during a truly boring speech. This morning is not one of those mornings. I miss the feeling of peace. I know it will return some other day. Not today. That’s my point. I tried to believe that it was my reading of numerous articles about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, but I can’t pin it on that. This is my thing. Mine alone. Edginess is something that is all too familiar to me. One tried and true source of edginess, for me, is the fact that I most often don’t speak up when the weight of unfairness is plunked down upon my unsuspecting head. For hours, even days, after stuffing ill feelings into a tidy corner of my mind, I hold internal conversations about the injustice. When people say one thing and then say or do the opposite the next day, taking their own inconsistency in stride, I wonder about their memory. Does it not work? Is it simply not used in practical matters? Nope. My take is usually that my faculties for perception are all fucked up. That’s good for at least ten hours of psychotherapy right there. Yes, I am thinking about a specific situation as I write this. What to do, what to do? Speak up or trash my inner faculties?

“Having their feelings make sense is how people get their kicks.”  ~ Mark Vonnegut

I suppose consistency is my own business, whether I do it or not. Feeling guilty about feelings makes about as much sense as giving orders to a wooden post. Or so it seems. Yes, the past few days have felt surreal to me. It’s not passiveness that I feel toward these surreal feelings. Nor is it agitation. As much as I try to puzzle it out it remains a mystery of ginormous dimensions, some of them hiding in an alternate reality. Is there injustice in the situation that is nibbling ungraciously on my mind this morning? I reckon that the only way to know that is in retrospect. Meanwhile I will remain quiet about it. I’ve got a feeling that my speaking up would make things worse. Mum’s the word. My bad.

Peace out y’all. Goof gloriously,k?

A Periodic Phenomenon

IMG_1555

 

Today is the exception. I do not feel like going out today. It’s not work, not traffic, not anything besides the weather. Our opening photo today shows my opinion of what any intelligent being should be doing on a frigid morning like this. That’s Rosie the cat feigning sleep. And she ain’t goin’ nowhere. Of course if I stayed in today I’d be tempted to write a lengthier blog post. But the truth is that I am pretty much wrung out these past few days. I’ll get out, get on the road, get to work, and get the cats at the shelter a good breakfast. Those things should all be pretty much enough. That is, of course, unless you consider things like hopes and dreams and things of that ilk. I’ve been relatively spare of those things lately. Go figure. It’s a periodic phenomenon that never feels periodic. Won’t get fooled again? Maybe yes, maybe no, but I really can’t complain, such as it is. Periods where I don’t feel like writing in the morning nearly always indicate that the writing is going on behind the scenes.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

You Wear What You Are

IMG_1987 - 2014-10-18 at 15-40-25

“After you die, you wear what you are.”  ~ Saint Theresa of Avila

Doing room and maid service for cats can be taxing as well as daunting, making for a day off that is most easily characterized as lusterless and listless. Today’s opening photo is of Cumin, who is one of my favorite of the cats of summer. Now that summer is long gone it becomes time for Cumin to get adopted. I shall miss the fella sorely. A little misty-eyed I am over his imminent departure. But that is what we are there for: to get them kitties adopted. Cumin will be leaving soon.

Yesterday I had a phone conversation with an old and dear friend who now lives in Puerto Rico, the country of her heritage. She’d left me a private message on Facebook, with only a phone number and one question, “Hey Ken, have you gotten any recent news from the Keys?”. It was in the Florida Keys that our friendship began and flourished. My friend was a perky, tiny bundle of energy and good humor. We were lovers for a short while, then after she married I would stop by and have morning coffee and chit chat. Sunny, a nickname for Sol Divina, would make the coffee Puerto Rican style, which rivals Cuban coffee, complete with copious quantities of caffeine, milk, and sugar. The conversations were sweet as well, sometimes even deep, profound, and enlightening. At least that’s the way I remember it. But the topic of yesterday’s phone call was not pleasant at all. One our group of friends from back then had been killed in a car wreck. Such news is always tragic but this in particular announced like a nail gun the death of a woman, JayAnna, who played, and still plays, a special spiritual role in my life.

Jay was there the first time I slipped across the Veil and into the Celestial realms. She was tending bar at Good Time Charlie’s the afternoon I asked her out to listen to some live music. She accepted my invitation, proceeded to fish about in her purse, then handing me a tiny baggie with a bit of magic mushrooms in it. We agreed on a time and agreed to consume the shrooms at that same time, then to meet at the Harbor Bar, a second story outdoor bar overlooking the Whale Harbor Channel and the great ocean it led to. We did that to perfection. The trouble began when we were listening to the music. The lead guitar player was wailing away in a way that caught my heart and soul, so I focused in on his left hand to watch his fingering deftness. After a few moments the world began to swirl, and I mean swirl! It was not kaleidoscopic rather a Coriolis Effect where all of the material world was swallowed into a black hole at the center. The next thing I knew I was coming to, waking to find Jay’s head upon my chest. She asked if I was okay and I responded that I was in heaven. She continued, from her obviously alarmed state, to tell me that I had stopped breathing, then when she put her ear to my chest she found that my heart had stopped, leading her to think I had died. That was not the only time she was with me when I returned from the Other Side. The second time was after my return from my NDE visionary journey. That time as well her face was the first thing that I saw upon my return. As a side note I should mention that although the shroom experience was nearly identical to the NDE I have never claimed it to be an actual NDE, a stance I still take because a psychedelic substance was involved, but I know in my heart that it was an NDE. The uptake of all of this is that now she has crossed over for good I do not feel as if she has left me. It’s been 20 years since I have seen Jay yet I now find that that span of years shrivels in relevance compared to the timelessness I feel. My sadness is also timeless, as is the deep abiding joy I feel. Both feelings twinkle, starlike. Experience, our window on the world, on life, shows me that a deep and tender love has now grown deeper, and more tender. Ouch.

I just stepped outside to take one last look at the stars before sunrise. It’s friggin 1º out there! The stars eluded me. They have been shrouded by both first light and a featureless cloud ceiling. I miss Jay already, just as I hope that she will walk with me on occasion, joining the ranks of those who have gone on before her. I should be so lucky. Oddly enough the news of Jay’s passing came to me at the end of a screaming bout of harsh depression. News of death, at a time like that, isn’t conducive to lightening the mood, but it carries a retrospect kind of thing that is fixin to be seen at the first opportunity, at which time its enlightening nature will indeed shine. It’s good to have something to look forward to. The other good side of this loss is that it has led me to reconnect with Sunny, who’s love also shines in my life. We will talk again. That’s another thing to look forward to. Hey folks, I’m not pitching for sympathy here. I am celebrating the miracle of life, the stunning beauty, the simple truth, and it is a celebration that will provide balm for my soul, which aches from the ravages my chemical imbalance hurls at me on occasion. Yesterday was one of those times. Today’s ache is rife with paradox. I welcome the conundrum and will take it in stride as I give service to them kitties.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

The Cat Toys Of Summer

IMG_2044 - 2014-10-26 at 15-36-06

“It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” ~ Taylor Swift

There’s a few things fixin’ to piss me off, or set me off, but they never amount to much, proven by the very fact that they continue to  do so, to vex, through thick and/or thin, since back in the day. Far be it from me to argue with odds like that. Dude like just go with the flow, k? That’s this morning’s inner dialogue to a ‘T’. What’s outside is highlighted by long lost coyote songs returning to the rich night air. They were there an hour ago and they are still, or again, here now. The dark morning air, above freezing, and thick with moisture, feels balmy. It’s a long haul from summer, and it ain’t been no hay ride neither. Things happened, then things changed, now things don’t rightly know what to do next, which is why they had best just sit and rest for a spell. That’s my next task.

Part of what tripped my switch in the past few days is the imminent departure of one cat named Cumin. I was one of two people to welcome this cat upon his introduction into incarceration. The other person was Savi, a dog caregiver who was cross-training with we cat handlers. Cumin arrived with four siblings. They were all semi-feral and they were all graced with a bright intensity of fur color that is indeed rare. They were crated, so Savi and I proceeded to open the crate and shuffle the three month old kittens into a cubicle, That worked, but only for a few seconds. Once inside, the five kittens all turned around and launched through the space over the cage door that only got closed after the chase. Cutting to the chase – Cumin was the last of five kittens to escapes the manual efforts of the human crew. I took it upon myself to get him with the net, a net with a drawstring at the end of a long aluminum pole, and my efforts were successful, or ‘productive’ if you are beholden to higher education. Cumin never faulted me after that rather harrowing and mildly violent capture. He was all like dude you coulda just said so, the net was really all and frankly unnecessary and stuff. A three month old kitten took capture in stride? Yup. And he is now a reformed semi-feral feline domesticus par excellence. He ain’t reformed at all. Are you? I’m going to nap. See ya.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

 

 

Conflict and Belonging

Cat Truce

Where would you like to live? In a state of conflict or a conflicted state.” ~ Christopher Hitchens

Midnight is the black one and the tabby is Isaac. The encounter never amounted to much but it was fun to watch. Midnight is one of a few cats who get to roam free in the cattery for a while each day. I’ve never tried it with Isaac but I may give it a shot today. This room full of friends is pretty much family to me. I am lucky indeed.

The cat encounter I show you today was a point of wonder for me yesterday. Such is time and its close companion timelessness. Those two cats both weigh over 20 pounds, and to watch the slow rising tension as they sat, nose to nose, with a cage wall between them, stirred something equally primal in me, a deep and truly wondrous feeling of belonging, proud in my mammalian status, reaching beyond the realm of primates, and coming home to the gift of laughter that Midnight and Isaac gave to me. Sometimes I think that this is one of the karmic reasons behind my constant companion which manifests as bipolar disorder. As much as I have striven and struggled it is something about culture that pries me away from the deep Nature that nurtures and heals, or maybe there is hidden purpose behind depression. Maybe it serves me better than consensus mood states would. What got me on this tack was reading about the various conflicts in the world. Nothing new, I know, but for some reason it snagged my attention. Conflict is maybe as wondrous as belonging. I’m not sure what I mean by all of this, all of today’s soliloquy, and yet I do know, if you look at it in light of all things translingual, a realm of thought that no doubt inspired the “cloud” computing of today’s tech world. Or maybe it didn’t. Gotta go folks. Work! Here’s another lovely cat photo for y’all . . .

IMG_2085

 

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

The Tribulations of Tepid Coffee

IMG_2082

Today’s spokesmodel is Franklin, who I believe to be a purebred Red-point Siamese. He is a recent arrival at Stray Hearts Animal Shelter. He’s a mellow guy, and beautiful. As I’ve said before it is a great pleasure, a priceless honor, to be around cats all day long. Most of the job is cleaning, part of it is giving cats their meds when needed, and we get to play with the cats if we have enough time left. My favorite part is walk-throughs, where we accompany potential adopters and try to help them choose a cat. I’m good at this, and I think that this is, in part, because of my extensive bar tending experience, which gives me ease in talking to and communicating with people. But a large part of it is my ability as a storyteller. To me storytelling is something that reaches deeper into and connects more thoroughly than more direct conversation and chit chat. I’m sure I have more to say about this but my brain is cotton this morning and my coffee maker is about to bite the dust. A hot cup of coffee would be just the thing right now but that ain’t happenin’. Poor me. Alls I get is tepid.

This morning’s first visit to the outside world served me with a view that I missed a couple of days ago when the Leonid meteor shower was here. It was the second meteor but it was two or three days late, yet it was followed, several minutes later, by a slow moving satellite. That’ll do, I suppose. I’m feeling way run down these past few days. Little things are probably the best amusements when I feel like this. Yes, it’s a depressive down cycle, and I should be used to that by now, but you never get used to it. I feel shaky with anxiety, fuzzy, and visited by an unidentified menagerie of fears. This won’t keep me from work but I’d like it if it did. That’s a quality of depression, the desire to lay in bed until it goes away. I’ve never fallen that far, except when I was a kid, and back then I didn’t know that it was depression, I thought it was just life. Silly me. Of course there is another component to it. It’s been over a year since I lost a live-in relationship that I reckoned would last through the rest of my life, or hers. A big part of it was my own doing, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. I’ve been pretty much floundering since then. Working with animals has been good therapy. I wish it worked better than it does but, alas, it doesn’t. I get angry at this mental illness I must endure, then at other times, like these past two days, it’s just all fatigue, resignation, and the desire for an instant recovery. None of this will get me very far. I pine for some event today that will brighten my mood and lift me up. Even a little lift would do. The ever present romantic in me would like it to be romantic in nature, while the depressive in me says “of course it won’t”. I just hate it when those two quarrel.

Today is one of those days where I had no direction in mind for the blog post. Does it show? No matter.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously, when you’re in the mood.

Unwanted Hallucinations

IMG_2072 - 2014-11-15 at 16-34-15

“All good things arrive unto them that wait–and don’t die in the meantime.” ~ Mark Twain

Good morning. It’s a tad warmer this morning.  And clearer. Each morning I look at the stars, regardless of the weather, and this morning my first look was a pleasure. There’s been a lot on my mind lately, and I’ve been tired, which is no news to anyone but me. Of course, I am still inspired and comforted by the presence of cats throughout my workday. Cats have patience in their DNA. How do I know that? Just look. You try to just hang in a cage all day long, every day, and see what happens to you, feeling-wise. I wouldn’t recommend comparing it to a human in prison. Said incarcerated humans have a whole lot more to deal with than bars and locked doors. Meanwhile I love them kitties and I give them the best care I can. I hesitate to tell you that I give them a hard time at times, and I give them sweetness, but the hard time is sweetness in that it is all in banter such as, “Don’t even try to get out of there”. There’s a spiritual and philosophical lesson in there somewhere. You run with it because I am like all tired and stuff.

Something has been bugging me lately. I keep letting the scandal that rocked the Stray Hearts animal  shelter, here in Taos, New Mexico, seemingly many weeks ago, get me riled. My latest point of contention, which remains uncontested because I have not shared it with anyone except them kitties, is that the shotgun (that’s a metaphor, my friends) attack against our former full-time on grounds staff veterinarian seems to have contained no empirical evidence at all. I mean, WTF. Not at all. Hints and allegations. But the metaphorically adamant rhetorical shotgun wielders won the day, and their victory was subsequently broadcast on local TV stations, and none of them infernal stations even bothered to check in with the victim of the rhetorical attack. The battered vet was ignored except as a target. These stations said that he had been hurting animals. As reported recently here at/in my blog, I took the time to read the report from the State’s Veterinary Review Board, and I was looking for their documentations of cases of abuse where I was either intimately involved in the case or those where I witnessed the care of the animal in question. None of the statements by the board, concerning animals I know and worked with, or looked at day after day – none of the documented cases were reported with facts in tow, and I was all WTF at that oversight. It was as if it was an oversight committee that used the wrong usage of the word oversight. Now, the vet has been used and discarded. The animals in question, in the cases I reviewed for my own edification, are thriving now, and one particular cat named Lion has become the three legged light of someone’s life. The detractors of the doctor said that Lion’s bad leg remained without bandage for a very long time, for weeks, for almost two months. I cared for that animal and I didn’t see what they said I should’ve seen, so now I have to live with the “fact” that my perception was in fact hallucination, so I now have to be careful that I no longer let said hallucinations get in the way of rhetorical and darkly splendorous allegations. I’ll likely not step aside. How could I? A man whom I respect and honor was blasted, and now the shelter has a long road in recovering from our loss of a man who maintained a level of care and love for the animals that far exceeded the meager resources that we had to work with. In other words: we rocked. We still do, with low low wages. The difference is that we lost our ship’s doctor. All I can say about that is, “Damn it, Jim, I’m a caregiver, not a friggin observer!”. Huh?! Calm down. It’s a Star Trek allusion. I’ll take an allusion over an illusion any day.

In closing I must say that I enjoyed my morning coffee so much that I will have another, out of your sight, so you will have to take my word for it. I am still angry over the gross injustice I have just commented on. Poor me.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

A Timeless Feathered Thing

 

IMG_2074

“The soul possesses an ineffable intelligence that cannot be controlled. Like mist, the soul cannot be forced, directed, or squeezed into a box where it does not belong. It cannot even be fully seen or perceived, for the soul is a timeless, feathered thing that flies in more worlds than one.” ~ Frank MacEowen, The Mist-Filled Path

For the most part, I try not to go to Facebook first thing in the morning. Sometimes it happens, then I have to think of Mark Zuckerberg sitting on top of a cool $33.3 billion dollars and somehow he made all the money by yanking my strings and getting me to march on over to Facebook. Friggin guy’s a hoot. The things that pass for knowledge, I can’t understand. Oops! That last sentence was from a Steely Dan song, thus proper attribution must be applied. I saw them fellas perform once, down yonder at the Sandia Casino and Resort, in Albuquerque. I’ll take Steely Dan over Zuckerberg, any day of the week. I had no intention of yakkin about Zuckerberg this morning, but you know, by now, just what the guy does to me. Yet it all, somehow, comes down to stories. Facebook is a marketplace for stories just as much as it is a social media blitz of a software menagerie. Says me, and I am the storyteller here. Have no doubt about it. Pardon me while I step outside, into the profound cold of the pre-dawn air in the high desert mountains of Northern New Mexico, to see if I can witness a meteor or two. Leonids shower tonight, don’tcha know. My Grandpa Ebert usta say “don’tcha know”. I love it. He gave me a storytelling tool and I figured out how to use it. Now – about them stars. Gon out. Bizy. Back soon.

I saw one, a fast one, the only one. Falling stars are sweet. Just watch the film version of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, you’ll see. Neil is one of my hallowed favorite influences as far as writing goes. Now – it is 7ºF out there, which makes it a little hard to bear, even with a winter coat, even with a meteor shower, even with a knit cap bearing the logo from Taos Mesa Brewing, which is just down the road a ways, out toward the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. You may have noticed by now that I am toying with figures of speech this morning. Part of my morning’s research was to peruse the list of common figures of speech. Of course, irony is my favorite, but metaphor is the most useful, for me anyway. Another bit of research was delving into the rich world of quotes from Ursula K. Leguin. She’s another of my hallowed favorite influences as far as writing goes.

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”  ~ Ursula K. Leguin

In recent days I’ve been thinking a lot about stories and souls, and so far, as far as I can tell, no conclusions need be drawn. The world of stories intertwines with strands of the Dreamtime, which in turn feed back into this world, and round and round. Progress can be made by going in circles. I’ve tried, it works, k?

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.