Here’s one way to use a Bible (and it doesn’t involve reading).

Let me introduce you to someone…

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Meet Chester.

Yup, that’s a FACE growing out of my wrist. Ok, just kidding, the face is an aftermarket add-on but the tumor part of it is all real, baby.

Here’s a side shot for your viewing pleasure:

Well, hello! I didn’t see you there!

The less scary word I use to describe this bad boy, besides “Chester,” is: cyst. My sister, the nurse, informed me that it’s made up of either air or fluid and might go away on its own. Since it doesn’t hurt, I don’t really care about getting it surgically removed, but she said I could get rid of it by slamming it with a Bible. I suppose the “Bible” part of that recommendation is that the cyst is actually evil and Jesus will scare it out of my body, but mostly I think it’s because the Bible is usually a gigantic heavy tome and therefore worthy of smashing in Chester’s smiling face.

So, I actually tried to do that – smash Chester’s face in with a Bible. I think the main problem was that my Bible has a malleable leather cover and there wasn’t really anything “hard” about it so much as “heavy,” but when I lifted that “gigantic tome” and brought it down on top of my wrist, the first thing that went through my head was SHEER PAIN. The second was something not appropriate to type. Chester was still intact, staring blankly up at me, of course, and did NOT appreciate being smacked on the side of the head with “The Good Book.” The third was “Thank GOD (heh) I did this while home alone.” WHY did I ever think this was a good idea? Do other people actually do this?! They got to be out of their freakin’ minds?!

So Chester is here to stay, for the time being. Maybe he will just disappear some day, or maybe I’ll get fed up with his antics and curb-stomp him on the side of the dining room table during Thanksgiving dinner. For now he’s my “little friend” that pops up to visit when I shake people’s hands or purposely make him say “Hi” to gross people out. He’s the Robin to my Batman, the Bucky Barnes to my Captain America, the Patrick to my Spongebob. In my head his voice sounds like Skeeter from Doug, or maybe more like Bobby from Bobby’s World, and he likes to discuss things like the merits of shopping on eBay in order to support all the “little sellers,” how Portland hipster-beloved IPAs are highly overrated (ew), and the value in establishing your own Roth IRA before you turn thirty. 

Say goodbye to all the people, Chester.

Goodbye everyone!

Oh, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy this for me/us:

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10 signs I may be going crazy…sort of.

If you find yourself dinking around on the internet late at night with no one around and you ned a hug, go here: http://thenicestplaceontheinter.net/. I don’t know if it was just a mixture of the images and the music, but it brought me to tears and it’s quite nice.

Here are 10 questions currently haunting my daily routine:

1. Are my cats getting high off of my nail polish? They insist on sniffing my freshly painted nails and I think their steps carry a bit of atypical swagger afterward.

2. Will the stress-acne that has developed on my jaw line ever go away? I can’t help but pick and make it worse. There may be some scarring. I may be giving Edward James Olmos a run for his money.

3. Why do I keep waking up every morning at 4:30am on the dot? I feel like something supernatural is involved, which both excites and terrifies me.

4. I stopped biting my nails, which is awesome, but something else to “keep up” on my person. I don’t even like to brush my hair on a daily basis so how long is the filing and trimming and painting going to last?

5. Will my cats barf in my slippers today?

6. Will I step in cat barf today?

7. Have I been accidentally flashing our neighbor’s teenage boy through my bedroom window? I don’t always remember to draw the blinds (I’m used to living in a high level apartment) and I’m comfortable enough with my body that I don’t really care who sees what, but at the same time, I don’t want to get arrested for “indecent exposure to a minor” and become a registered sex offender by Christmas.

8. How long until my beautiful new car gets smashed in by a douchebag driving something extra douche-y like a Honda Element? I can’t help but feel like it’s only a matter of time…

9. Will I ever finish the three books I checked out from the library and have already renewed for a second time? I keep wanting to read books I already own, which completely defeats the purpose.

10. Will things ever be “normal” again? I don’t even know what that means, “normal,” but for now it sounds stable and comfortable and nice. In the meantime, I will embrace the weird and irrational and spontaneous things life has brought me. In other words…a unicorn (well, obviously).

Took me 20 minutes.

Oh, that reminds me…

The part where I admit to being a cat lady…sorta.

Cats are complicated creatures. This is why they fascinate me so much. Don’t get me wrong, I love love love dogs and plan on owning one some day, but there’s something about cats that make them so relatable.

Sorry, I couldn’t help it. But, you’re welcome.

Dogs will love their owners unconditionally as long as they receive food, shelter, and love. I’m not insulting their intelligence (although some make me wonder), but dogs don’t really need much interest from their owners before they reciprocate with undying, unquestioning love. Dogs will eagerly and obediently trot up to your person, panting with flopping tongue and flapping ears, after you simply say their name aloud. They’ll also perform a trick on command when tempted with a bite-sized, slightly meat-flavored treat, or be absolutely ecstatic when you return home after a twenty second trip out to the mailbox. Dogs treat you like canine royalty; a bone-shaped sun revolves around you and your belly-scratching hands. I admit this is what makes dogs so lovable and such great companions, especially for lonely and/or old people, but sometimes I want to feel like I worked hard for the love I receive. It makes me feel like I actually accomplished something because the last thing I need is overkill on the self-esteem boost.

Fakers.

Cats are more like actual humans. If you provide them with food, a place to hide, and a sandy container in which they can defecate in privacy, you won’t see much gratitude. They treat you with the usual aloofness because they know that when you provide these basic things, you are just being a minimally attentive owner.

“Hey, thanks for NOT abusing us, but it’s not like you deserve a medal or anything.”

Cats make you earn their trust first, and then, possibly, sometimes maybe never, they will offer you their sometimes, but not always, non-transferrable, non-refundable, non-un-dying something that resembles, but isn’t completely, love.

I lucked out with my particular cats because they are the perfect cross between a “I worship the ground you walk on because you feed me” dog, and a “work for my love and I’ll make it worth your while” cat. They are Ragdolls, which you can read about here and look at kittens here if you’re interested (of course you are). They love cuddling and having their bellies rubbed, they are usually waiting at the door for me when I come home, and they like just being in the same room as me. Sometimes all I have to do is walk into a room in which they slumber in a tightly formed snail-like figure and they roll over and start purring immediately.

Sighting: beached manatees.

Yet at the same time I still have to earn their love and affection by giving them space when I sense they want it, not holding them more than necessary, putting aside time to play with and talk to them (yes, it’s loving, not crazy, to talk to your pets) and not making any sudden or loud noises. When I get a cuddle session with these guys, or one of them crawls into my lap, Handel’s Messiah Hallelujah Chorus plays in my head and I hold my breath. If I need to get up to pee or attend to whatever is cooking on the stove, those take a backseat because I milk this attention for all it’s worth and wait until they get up and leave. You see, with a dog, this would be expected and normal and I would get no hallelujah chorus. Sometimes, guys, it’s the little things that make you feel accomplished in your life.

eBayed: 1 Oxygen tank plus mask, 1 crate of Depends.

Currently, my big project is acclimating these guys into a house that already has two younger cats. Mine are eight years old, so are set in their ways and this makes it harder to introduce them to other cats. For now they are just in my bedroom (with all the essentials of course) and I make sure they still get all the attention they need. For their first two weeks here they were just working on getting settled in my room so it can be designated a “safe place.” I even bought one of those plug in things that emit pheromones, which makes them feel relaxed and safe. Occasionally the other two cats in the house would sniff at the door and they would interact with my cats that way. Unfortunately there was come paw batting through the crack at the floor and some hissing, but it died down after awhile.

A few weeks later I started letting my cats out to roam the house. This is when I had to be the evil-step-cat-mother and shut my sister’s cats up in her room while I let my cats have their “outside session” for an hour.

What a bitch.

This was surprisingly stressful for Bailey and Kai since they smell other cats, which causes anxiety for fear of being pounced upon by a strange animal hiding in every corner. Kai spends most of his time meowing pitifully and rubbing his cheeks on every corner (this spreads pheromones that tells them that they checked this place for danger and it’s familiar/safe), and Bailey rubs his paws like a DJ on every surface available (their previous owners de-clawed them so this is just spreading his scent everywhere). It keeps getting less stressful and more familiar for them so they now spend most of the time and concentration rolling around on all the rugs like a dog does in the grass.

Another thing we’re doing is, while my cats are in my bedroom, cracking the door so they can interact a bit with my sister’s cats. There is some paw swiping (could you resist swiping at some strange furry paws peeking through the crack of a door?) and meowing, but we hope this helps them get used to each other. Before these sessions, I actually had no idea cats could also growl like dogs.

You’re probably thinking, “This is crazy! All this work for a couple of animals?!” but it’s so so worth it. If we want to live in a house where cats don’t fight and yowl and spray it is necessary to do this part very very carefully. It’s not like you can just spray fighting cats with a hose and be done with it. Just like people, cats hold grudges against other animals at the most minute things so this has to continue to be done slowly and carefully to get the result we want: happy cats. We hope to start “supervised visits” soon, which makes it sound like some sort of child custody situation. I love these guys and they love me so I would pretty much jump through any sort of hoop for them if it will make them happy. Call me a cat lady, I don’t freakin’ care. I work hard for their love and it makes me feel great when I get it. Plus, they are the only living creatures that, at the end of the day, will still never judge me for what I say, how I look, and my sketchy showering habits. Boo-ya. Score.

Oh man. Can hardly contain my self-esteem. This is SO totally happening.

That one time when I had dreams.

Sorry, another serious post. My next one will be funny. I promise I haven’t lost my sense of humor.

So last night, I’m laying spread-eagle on the floor of my bedroom, in my footie pajamas of course, listening to Les Misérables‘ “I Dreamed a Dream” over and over and over and having various thoughts about the interpretation of this particular song. This is a song that is usually sung pretty aggressively by a powerful female singer oozing with broadway poise and talent. I know this is necessary; people pay hundreds of dollars to see these actors perform on the big stage, but I’ve always wondered how the song would be sung by Fantine if she existed in real life. She is a destitute, unmarried mother in the 19th century driven to prostitution and selling her hair (right after she sings this song) to pay for her daughter’s upkeep in an abusive home miles away.

Here is one of my favorite performances by Ruthie Henshall, the epitome of the poised and talented Broadway actor in a clean, proper costume and styled wig, but very capable of projecting the character’s desperation and bittersweet nostalgia. While you’re listening/watching, think of a time in your life when everything had just gone to shit (sorry for the swears), your mouth thick with the metallic taste of bitterness and regret, and then try not to burst into tears, I DARE you:

Not really the same as when Susan Boyle sings it, huh? When she first became known, people thought this song was actually about hope and coincided with Boyle’s Cinderella-type story. Yet, when you read the words, you’ll see that this song is definitely not about those things:

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong
I dreamed a dream in times gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung
No wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we’ll live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather 
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.

Not really about rainbows and marshmallow ponies, is it?

Oh, Lisa Frank…

So back to the character of Fantine and how the song is sung; in my mind, as I read these lyrics, I imagine a woman who is truly and utterly broken; she has been fired from her job and life has just shoved her off the curb she was painstakingly balancing upon out into the icy, muddy street where she is forced to dodge the uncaring and abusive traffic of her community (if you could call it that). She is remembering a time when things were better, when she was loved by someone, and there is a mixture of fondness and pain. She then moves forward to do whatever it takes to live so she can continue to care for her daughter financially, which in those days (and these, too) meant literally selling your body. Though Anne Hathaway is not nearly as good a singer as Ruthie Henshall, the way she sings it in the upcoming movie based on Les Misérables is quite different:

It’s only the trailer (the movie premiers this Christmas) but you can tell that this song is sung after she has cut her hair and probably already entered into prostitution. She is sitting in the filthy gutter with inadequate clothing, clutching her shorn hair in agony as she faces her future in disbelief. She is wallowing in her sadness, singly softly in the dark as she quietly reminisces. I like this more intimate portrayal (I realize that movie actors have this benefit over stage actors) because I think it shows what wallowing really looks like. She isn’t singing about what she’s going to do next or how she’s going to keep a positive outlook, she’s just voicing how much her life sucks and I think that’s okay. Everyone should be allowed to wallow by themselves without people telling them how to act or what to do or how to exact revenge. It’s okay to take a look at your situation and say “Wow, this really sucks,” and then that’s it!

I can’t relate to Fantine’s level of desperation since I still have a great job, a really nice place to live, and the love of my friends and family, but when I listen to this song I can understand that feeling of looking back and seeing where things were at a certain era in my life, what expectations and, well, dreams I had. There is also that lingering hope that things will work out and go back to the way they were before, which just makes you feel pitiful at times. Welp, I think I’ve already wallowed as much as I need so I’m moving on. I believe I’m entering a new era of my life and it’s exciting, but still bittersweet. The tigers came and tore it up for a while, I suffer from intense nostalgia just from certain smells and songs, but I have something to look forward to: brand new dreams. MY dreams.