violetcheetah: (Default)
[This story came about because a friend posted on FB about a cricket in his basement, and somehow in the comment thread, I said something about wanting there to be a fairy tale about a cricket only with gender roles reversed to the prince gets rescued, or something, and my friend's wife basically said, "Well then write it, you dork."  Well, without the 'dork' part.  So anyway, I wrote it.]

The Cricket Prince

There had been an early hot spell that summer, so when the weather returned to normal, the shortest night of the year felt unbearably cold to the cricket; his knee joints ached and his antennae stung. He searched his domain for a collection of leaves or a mound of pine needles, but the strangers had come at mid-day with their smelly metal loudnesses, and they always took away his homes. But sometimes they left a tuft of grass against the straight-straight wall whose stones smelled of hot earth even on rainy nights.

He did not find a grass tuft, but as he approached the end of the wall, he felt, inexplicably, a warm breeze. Barely a breeze at all, just a wisp. He huddled in the wisp for a moment, but then realized his antennae were just a bit warmer than his knees; the wisp was warmer in front of him. He moved forward one stiff hop, then another, and another. Now his knees were warmer than his antennae, so he stopped, and turned, and hopped once back. His antennae told him to look up. Above him was a small ledge, just about the height of a good jump, or at least a good jump on a warm night. He pondered a moment, prepared his mind and body, and pushed abruptly against the ground with his back legs. And then he was on the ledge. And it was warmer still.

In one corner of the ledge, there was a gap. This was where the warmth was coming from. Warmth, and a smell, a mix of the hot-earth stones and moss and something like mushrooms but not quite mushrooms. The smell was good, and the warmth was very good, and his antennae told him he could squeeze his body through the gap, and so he did. And he found himself in another land, unlike the world he knew.

There was the scent of metal, and just a bit of the stink from the loudnesses he knew, which alarmed him, but there was no loudness sound, and no strangers.

There were many strange things, though, which were almost things he knew, but not those things from his old world. There were pieces of almost-trees, straight-straight like the walls, but they were neither living trees nor dead trees. These almost-trees smelled similar to the stink of the loudnesses, and he knew not to eat them.

Farther along, there were other almost-trees, which smelled different from the first kind, and these were softer. These could be eaten, and some smelled faintly of earth and mushrooms and tasted very good.

Everywhere, the ground was not earth but strange stone, smelling of old-world stone but also of something sharper. It was flat-flat, and met the walls in a perfect line. Much of that line also smelled of earth and mushrooms, and in some places of moss and lichen. Here and there, grit had collected, and among the grains of sand were tiny bits of dead insects and spiders, and fragments of the soft not-wood that were even better than the large pieces, and small pieces of grass and leaves, long dead but still food.

As he explored, he realized there was no living grass at all. Nor seedlings, nor trees, nor real moss. But neither were there lizards, nor frogs, nor the ominous songs of birds. And there were no other crickets in all the land. And so he brought his wings together and loudly proclaimed this his domain:

I have left behind the familiar,
The mundane,
To discover a world unknown
By any other prince.
This strange land is mine
And mine alone.

Proud and contented, he settled down to slowly chew a flake of soft-not-wood.


The sun rose and set, visible through a straight-straight rectangle above him. His new diet seemed less and less strange with each day, and he molted, then molted again, and now he was no longer a child, but an adult. He wanted for nothing, not food nor safety nor warmth. Yet, he felt something lacking, without knowing what. Each night his wings sang the same song, but the tune slowly changed from triumphant to melancholy. Finally, one night, as he listened to the last notes echo off his domain's walls — mine alone — he realized: he was lonely. So he decided to leave his solitary kingdom and return to the land of other crickets.

It was an arduous journey back up the steep wall, with many false starts and falls, but finally, toe-claws aching from tightly gripping the miniscule cracks, he arrived at the ledge again. He made his way back to the corner with the gap — but his antennae warned him that the gap was too small. How could this be? He thought of his two molts, such small changes that he hadn't noticed getting larger. But his antennae would not lie. Exhausted and defeated, he half-stumbled, half-slid back down to the flat earth, and even though he didn't have the will to sing, his wings seemed to play of their own accord:

I have left behind the familiar,
Left behind my kin,
Lured by a world unknown.
Only now do I see
This land is my prison
And mine alone.

Each night, he was compelled to call out into the silence, even knowing no one could hear him:

My kingdom is empty,
As am I.
I will sing to a princess
Who will never arrive,
And will continue to sing
For eternity.

I would gladly leave
This empty kingdom of mine
For a tuft of grass
If my imagined princess
Would find me here
And lead me to her home.

He sang his songs for many nights, sometimes lulling himself into dreams in which his princess was real, and led him easily up the wall to freedom. Sometimes he could feel her antennae meeting his, reassuring him, "You're not alone." And always he stirred from the dream and had a moment when he believed. But then each time he came fully to his senses, and knew he was alone.

Until one early dawn.

Grass pollen shimmered on her antennae, and she held a piece of the soft-not-wood in her jaw, testing a flavor that was new to her. She was not a dream. After weeks of aching song, his wings were struck dumb. He had to speak with antennae and toe-claws.

"How did you find me?"

"Your songs, of course." There was a gentle laugh in her touch. "I followed them these last few nights, to the straight-straight wall, to a ledge, through a gap I hadn't known was there."

His soul sank. "Oh. I had hoped there was another way."


"I no longer fit through."

"So? Why do you need to fit through?"

"To follow you back to your kingdom."

She laughed again. "I have no kingdom! It is you who rules a vast domain."

He sighed. "Vast, yes, but lonely."

That gentle laugh again. "So I've heard." Then she held her antennae motionless against his, suddenly somber, and shy. "Perhaps… it would not be lonely if I stayed."

His wings pressed against each other, silent, but prepared to sing. "You would stay here? With me?"

"I have listened to the songs of many princes. They sang for me, but they did not sing to me: they sang at each other, sang of their strength, sang of their power, sang threats. Many songs ended with blows and pain. No other prince has sung to me; no other prince has sung of sadness, of longing. They sought me out; none have made me want to seek them."

"Then you shall be the princess of which I dreamed."

"No. I shall be your queen. For you are not a prince, but a king. No mere prince could discover this new, strange land. There is no other cricket like you. You are the king of which I dreamed."
violetcheetah: (Default)
You probably don't want to read these dreams; they involve nuclear holocaust, and living but rotting bodies (chiefly mine), and non-functional bathrooms. I post them in part because these are themes that come up in my dreams with an exhausting regularity, and in part because it was somewhat unique to have three archetypal-for-me dreams in the course of two nights. If you have been curious in the past about what I meant when I referred to "armageddon dreams" or "bathroom dreams," this post will give you examples. If you are also curious about the kinds of dreams that I gather are common among trauma survivors, then read on.

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The story

Jun. 29th, 2016 01:26 pm
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[trigger warning for child sexual abuse]Read more... )

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This started off as stream-of-consciousness writing to my shrink, and I'd like to be able to turn it into something more precise and focused, but my mind, for months, has been unable to think in a precise, focused way. So rather than pretend to myself that someday soon I'll tighten it into "real" writing, I'm just going to post it now.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

When the event occurs in my shrink's office, there are rarely words. Often there aren't even thoughts that I try and fail to put words to. There's just a -need-. Not a need for a certain thing — or not a thing I am aware of — just that I need something, something I don't have, perhaps something that doesn't exist in the first place. After the session, I try to write it down, explain what I remember of what happened, what I felt. Often the best I can do is recall other times I felt the same thing. Or other times I -think- I felt the same thing because my actions were the same, or because the image of that other time was in my head in the office, or comes to mind now. I like facts, hate hypotheticals, and it's frustrating, but it's the best I can manage.

Last night, after the session, I tried to explain why I had needed to stand. Because the chair was… not right, somehow. I needed to be somewhere else. Really, what I needed was to run, to go out the office door and out the front door and then… well, I don't know. And I knew, barely, at the time, that it wouldn't do any good, that I would go out the office door and it wouldn't be right, and out the front door and it wouldn't be right, and down the street, and another street, and to the river, and across the bridge. I needed to be somewhere that didn't exist, and I was barely able to hold that certainty, and so I didn't run. But I still had to stand, because my feet needed to be moving, shifting my weight from one to the other and back again, sometimes backing up a few inches, or stepping to the left. I had to do that, because it was close enough to running that I could keep myself from running, and I knew if I sat in the chair, my body would suddenly bolt without being remotely in my control, and I wouldn't want to run but I would run anyway, and I would never stop.

It wasn't an urge that started in the office, not because of something we were talking about; in fact, we hadn't really started talking about anything yet this session. It had been there all week, most of the previous week: the incessant need to be somewhere else. At work, during my mid-shift break, I would stand by the chair in the break room and not want to sit down. My feet ached, my knee ached, and eventually it was necessary, but it wasn't where I wanted to be, and it was nearly intolerable. I shut the urge off, several times a day, because in public, there are consequences for doing "crazy" things.

I tried to explain in what I wrote after the session, and my shrink replied in part, "It sounds terrifying…" The word stopped me as I read it, made me want to shake my head, because I didn't remember terror. I had made -noises- like I was terrified, but the only name for what I remembered feeling was not-rightness. No-place-ness. Burning, itching, infuriation that there's no place that's right, not right, -how- is it not right, what's not right? It's not safe. There is no place that's safe. It doesn't exist. I run toward something that looks right, or try to crawl inside, and — it's not there anymore. If I go to a place that seems safe, it stops being safe when I get there.

Because I carry within me the opposite of safety.

Safety is a fundamental particle in the mental universe. It's a quark or an electron, a building block that everything else, everything larger that has any importance, contains. Everyone absolutely has to have it. I have to have it. But I am its anti-particle. Either I am that ant-safety myself, or I contain it within me, I don't know. But either way, I feel as if I am mainly composed of anti-safety. Which means I can never touch safety. I can't exist in the same place. It's dangerous to even try, because when I reach out and touch it — and I always, incessantly, knowing better, reach out toward it — I annihilate both the safety and part of me. If anyone is close by, the shock wave could rip them apart. At the very least, it propels them away from me at breath-taking speed. Or maybe propels me away from -them-. And what if the safety isn't the place, but the person themselves? Will I obliterate them?

My core is hollow. That's how it feels. I sometimes peer over the edge, and occasionally fall in, and there's never a bottom; I always have to dig my fingernails into the wall and drag myself out, because otherwise I will fall and fall and never stop. That seems impossible. There has to be a bottom. But if the bottom is safety, and I am the opposite, then when I hit it, I destroy it, and keep falling until the next bottom, over and over, and each time I also leave a small crater in myself, crater after crater, until it feels like what's left of me is just tatters that will scatter in the wind.

It's just a metaphor. I get too attached to metaphor, and I feel like I shouldn't do that, that it's indulgent. It isn't real. But it -is- language; it's words, a story, a narrative, something my mind can clutch when there is nothing else that makes sense. It isn't real, but perhaps it's close enough to truth for now. It's not safety itself, but perhaps it's at least a buffer, something that neither matter nor anti-matter will destroy, that will allow me to exist in the same room as the safety I crave, will even allow me to reach, to press my fingers against the smooth glass of the metaphor without having to worrying about who or what I might obliterate.

violetcheetah: (Default)
[This is the novel about the single mother of Sam, who is 7 years old in this scene. It's already established (or will be once more of those scenes are written) that he's musically gifted. Prior to this scene, he was trying to learn to play violin, but his 7-year-old dexterity couldn't keep up with his perfectionism; he couldn't stand the sound of notes not being exactly in tune, and he also couldn't tolerate the sound being so close to his ear; he wanted the violin to sound like it sounded when he listened to a recording or to a person in front of him on stage. So Larry, his uncle, installed a fairly standard program on the computer that lets Sam play music on a keyboard and have the notes he plays write themselves on a staff, where he can then edit and play back the phrases in the "voices" of whatever instruments he wants.]

-----Read more... )

violetcheetah: (chess)
Some children,
in the night,
call to their parents
to protect them from
the monster in the closet.

Some children,
in the night,
open the closet door
and hope the monster inside
will protect them.

violetcheetah: (Default)
[I wrote this in June. I meant to edit it to be more coherent before posting it, but that's not going to happen, so I'm posting it as-is.]

I was six, or maybe seven; it was after the library opened, but before I was reading chapter books. I'd checked out a book by Richard Scarry; he drew a world where the town was populated by animals doing people-things: perhaps the postman was a dog dressed in a postman's pants and shirt, the nurse was a cat with a smock and white cap. They had a playset at the library, all the characters and roads and buildings of the town, and I loved them with the greed and longing and desire of a six-year-old, almost as much as I loved books. And this book was enormous; not thick, but maybe 12 by 15 inches, and when you are six, bigger is better, bigger is grown-up.

I sat on my mother's lap while she read it to me. I was old enough to read, had been for years, but I wanted her voice behind my ear, her hand turning the pages; I wanted her there to see things I pointed out in the pictures that I hadn't noticed the first dozen times, so I could share that magic of discovery and feel it again. We sat on "her" side of the couch, under the lamp. My father, as always, sat on the other side of the couch. Often he watched TV as we read, and I was used to tuning out the noise and hearing only my mother. Tonight the TV was probably on, but I couldn't hear it, because my father was drunk, and he was yelling.

He was mainly yelling at my mother. He usually directed everything at her, because when he was drunk, I was invisible. He might threaten to burn down the house "with all of you in it," but he wasn't talking to me; I was just eavesdropping. The words weren't meant for me, because I wasn't there, and if I'd said something, or made a noise — even whimpering — I instinctively knew he would be surprised to see me there and also angry that I was listening in on something not intended for me. So I sat on my mother's lap, not moving, not being seen by him, while she read to me as if his screaming was the everynight drone of the TV. He did not know I was there. She did not know I was there, either; she read the book to my body, as if my mind inside were the same as every other night. She read as if I could hear her, as if I didn't hear my father, or smell his fermented breath, or comprehend his words. She read as she would have if I were looking at the pictures, discovering new things, pointing out those discoveries. The lack of my presence was not important. I knew this. The important thing — the only important thing — was that the stageplay go on, that my body stay in her lap until the back cover closed, without acknowledging the audience of one (my father), even as he climbed on stage and stood screaming at us. Because…

I was too young to know sci-fi, or fantasy, to know of parallel universes or overlapping worlds or ghosts that inhabit the same room as the living without ever being seen — and more importantly, without being able to touch the living. But he was a ghost screaming at my mother, apparently unheard. And I knew that was the magic spell. I was sure that, as long as he didn't think she heard him, he couldn't act. I don't think I knew for sure if she couldn't actually hear him or was just pretending, but I didn't think about it because it didn't matter; what matter was that he -thought- she didn't hear him. As long as he thought she didn't hear him, he couldn't act, couldn't do the things he was threatening. And I needed — from my own, third, universe that was not the same as either of theirs — to both not distract her from her not-awareness, and to not let him see -me- be aware of him. So I was still. My body didn't move, and my mind didn't move, not until the book was closed and my body could exit the stage. I don't remember that part, the closing of the book and my leaving. But I must have done it, and done it well, because he did not burn down the house that night or shoot us in our beds.
violetcheetah: (Default)
This is the first letter I have received from my mother in the last three years.  I'd written her three times.  I haven't phoned in that time, except to call and ask if there was a family history of heart arrhythmia, because my doctor wanted to know.  She has phoned me once, to tell me my aunt, her sister, had died; she called me about two weeks after the funeral.  

I may repost this letter annotated with my thoughts later, but for now, I'm just posting her own words.  She seems to think I post everything about her on Facebook, so I might as well not disappoint her.  I'm not sure which of her friends who are also my friends on FB have shown her things I've written; I don't mind, am even glad of whatever posts my mother has seen, but if you're reading this and have shared my posts with her, I'd love you to Private Message me if you could give me any insight on her state of mind.

I will note that, in the letters to her, I told her I wouldn't share any details of her life she didn't want shared.  However, she never shared any details, and I did not agree not to share my own memories of events I lived through.

I would also ask that anyone reading this post not resort to publicly calling her names or belittling her or otherwise opining that "What she thinks isn't important, anyway."  You may mean it as a comforting-to-me gesture, but it's not going to comfort me.  I welcome thoughtful responses, but not dismissive ones.


[received October 5, 2015]

I don't know how to answer you. I am not going to argue with you.

Talking to you is like talking to a drunk

"Tell me all the bad thing you ever did. Tell me all the bad things that ever happened to you. So I can put them on the Internet for the whole world to read. I just want to "comfort" you. Tell me. Tell me. Tell me."

You seem to think it is terrible for me to talk to a family member about someone we are both concerned about. But you seem to think it is okay for you to tell everybody your version of something and then when somebody doesn't agree with you — you get mad.

So I won't talk to you about anybody in the family again.

I won't tell you anything about my life — good or bad.

I won't tell you anything about my friends. I don't even want you knowing who they are. Because we don't want to be the subject of one of your rants on FaceBook.

No, I don't talk about you to anyone — not even family. I don't tell anyone about your "craziness."

You do. If you don't want people to think you are crazy — then don't act like it. When you get on FaceBook or your Blog and rant and rave over and over and over, what do you think people are going to think of you?

It may surprise you to learn that I know a few people with your type of mental illness. They always hate the person who loves them most — usually their mother. They blame them for everything they think is wrong with their life.

You are like a little kid. "It's all your fault. Make me happy."

I wish I could give you happiness and peace. But I can't. You have to do that yourself.

And you can't be happy or at peace when you are so full of hate that all you want to do is hurt other people.

It's your choice.

violetcheetah: (Default)
When there's no one else to do it, and I "do the buildings" at work, it means I leave the post office at 3:45 p.m., grab the few pieces of mail in a small drop and put them in a nearby blue bin, then walk a block and a half to the JFK federal building; I collect and sort mail there for 10-15 minutes, then head to the O'Neill federal building at about 4:10, get to the mailroom at 4:25 or so, and collect and sort mail there for half an hour, then bring that mail down the hall to the dock; the truck that picks up that mail then drives me back to the JFK building, where I collect and sort anything that's come in since I left, bring everything to the dock for the driver, and go back to the post office to finish out my day.

Yesterday, as I left the JFK building, it was starting to rain. I knew there was a storm headed this way, but now how strong, how long, or how likely it was to hit squarely. It was clearly going to rain harder than the light rain that was coming down at the time. But I had a schedule to keep, and there's no slack in the schedule. So I headed out. It started coming down hard within a minute.

By the time I got to the underpass under the big parking garage, where people were taking shelter, the wind was strong enough they were getting wet even under there. And I was already as wet as I could get, really; the rain sluicing off my raincoat plus the rain in general had pretty much soaked my shoes — light hiking boots, really — and the lower half of my shorts. I kept walking.

When I crossed Merrimac Street, there was three inches of running water at the curb. But my shoes were already soaked. There was two inches of water running down even the middle of the street. Four or five inches at the curb on the other side. Two inches standing water on the sidewalk. And then the hail started.

Small at first, then half an inch, then an inch, then larger. I got pelted by a few pieces, but it didn't hurt as much as I expected, more like a marble being flicked at you than a golf ball. The way large hail forms, if I understand right, is that smaller hail forms in the cloud, starts to fall, gets pulled back in an updraft to the top of the cloud, and falls again with more ice forming on it, and with the smaller pieces sometimes clumping together. Some of the larger pieces that came to rest on the sidewalk looked like stylized daisies, with a center piece and then smaller petals all around that center.

You couldn't see a block down the street because the rain was so thick, with the wind whipping the water white and blowing it horizontally. No one was out: no cars, no pedestrians. I was out. I was not normal, not waiting it out, insane, sloshing down the street. And I was where I was supposed to be. I was on my way to where I needed to be, and I was going to get there. And for the first time in months, I was at peace. I was walking, but I was at rest; my mind was at rest. I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do, not because I had to but because it was what I wanted to do.

I tried to understand it, that prickle at the corner of my mind, why it felt so calmly good. Not just the aloneness, not just the quiet that you only find in the midst of a rushing storm or the ocean or a waterfall. The best I can explain is: if I was supposed to be there, then… then there existed a place where I was supposed to be. A place I belonged.

The place is gone. It only lasted 10 minutes, a soap bubble containing a small sphere of a different universe, and when it touched me, instead of popping, it wrapped around me, let me pass through its skin and walk in that world for a few minutes, and then wafted on its silently loud way out to sea. But for 10 minutes, there was a place where I belonged, and I was in it. I don't know how to believe it will happen again; I don't have the ability to have that faith. But at the same time, as I fail to believe, I also fail to believe that it's impossible. That's the closest I've come to hope — to active hope — in a long time.


Jun. 24th, 2015 12:19 pm
violetcheetah: (Default)
When I got out of the car at the cat shelter where my friend and I volunteer, there was a dragonfly on the ground. My favorite insect. One of her wings was… it was beyond bent, folded in half near the middle of the wing. She was on her back, moving slightly. I put my hand down and she held onto my finger, so I lifted her to look, and to see how bad it was. It was bad. The wing was creased like a folded paper you run your fingernail along to keep it flat. When I tried to see if it could unbend, or why it wouldn't, I could feel that the two halves were actually stuck together where they touched. You can't fix that, can you; it's not something that can heal, is it? She was dying. She was already dead. I knew it was kinder to crush her quickly, and I selfishly refused to give her peace.

It's hard to handle one wing of a dragonfly, to get that wing alone, without the others, refraining from holding the slender, soft abdomen between your huge thumb and finger. I was in terror that in her terror and struggle she would rip herself away from the wing I held her by; I knew it didn't matter, she was dead anyway, but it would be worse somehow to have a part of you ripped away, it must hurt more than just a broken wing. I finally had the grip I needed, with one thumb and finger on the outer part of the creased wing, one thumb and finger on the part near the body. I peeled the two sides apart, like tape from a piece of paper, and you know chances are the paper will rip, a thin film will come away with the tape and it'll be ruined, but there's no choice, and I expected the outer half of the wing to just fall off, to turn out to not even be attached at the crease. But it didn't. It stuck out at an angle for a few seconds, and then she pulled all four wings flat against each other, like sheets of paper tapped against a table, absolutely perfect, and I could no longer see the damage. But it had to still be there. It wasn't something you can fix, not something that can heal, it's prideful to even imagine, that you can fix something like that, prideful and childishly naïve. I had given her my finger again for her feet to hold, and she looked so perfect, it was painful to look at, knowing. Maybe, though, maybe it hurt less, the wing. Maybe she had peace. I took her to the pine tree against the fence and coaxed her feet onto a low twig. It seemed like the least-bad place to end life. And just in case, if this was something you recover from, at least she was out of harm's way while she gathered strength; no ants to attack on the ground, no birds likely to find her among the needles. I did not hope, but I wished, I wished I hoped, and I pretended like I hoped and put her there.

When I came back out ten minutes later, she was gone. Not on the branch, not on the bare ground below. I don't know if she recovered and flew away. I don't know how to even hope, because I don't know how to imagine that's possible. Creased, stuck together; I'm not an entomologist to know what's possible, and I don't want to call a professor at a university and ask because then I would know, and I can't imagine I would like what I know.

When my shrink read this, he replied, "I know that some stories don't have hopeful endings, and I'm not sure how you would feel about this, but I found myself thinking that the dragonfly was able to fly freely at least once more than it otherwise would." Maybe. Maybe she at least believed she could, in whatever way an insect believes. Maybe on the ground on her back she had known with certainty she would die, and then after the terror of being held by a monster, she had a moment among the pine needles when she knew with certainty — truth and logic don't matter — that she would fly away, when she believed she was not dying. They have such short lives that for her, a moment is a year, or perhaps a decade. Maybe I gifted her with the hope I couldn't feel myself. Maybe that's my life: telling stories that give others hope I will never feel. I don't know, but it's all I can manage now.
violetcheetah: (Default)
[Disclaimer: I am an atheist; any similarities between the God in this story and your own God are purely coincidental.]

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I started working with Precious almost two years ago at the shelter "tricking" her into realizing that petting was awesome; before that, she'd been there three years, and a few people occasionally "petted" her with a brush, but I don't know that even that happened that often. When I started working with her, I began by brushing, and learned that if you made her purr, she drooled. She drooled even more extravagantly once I could pet her for real with my fingers. I adopted her a little over a year ago, so I could now spend more than 15 minutes at a time with her, and two things happened: (1) I coined the term "spitsicle" for the up-to-two-inch strands of drool that would sometimes hang from her mouth; and (2) I discovered that if you petted her for about half an hour, she would eventually stop drooling — not, it seemed, because she stopped being happy, but because she would figure out to swallow occasionally.

Precious does not drool anymore. Maybe a drop or two when I first start petting her, but she no longer ends up with strings like a Saint Bernard. She's taught herself to unthinkingly swallow WHILE she purrs, like, you know, any normal cat.

One theory about why some cats drool when they purr is that they were weaned too early, so their brains are still stuck associating happy/purr with food. Makes sense; I mean, that's why adult cats knead, that leftover association with nursing. But then, why do most kittens learn not to drool when they are kittens? Is it because most other cats purr a lot OTHER than when they are nursing as kittens? Do housecat kittens learn because they purr more because they get petted all the time? Precious, before she was in the shelter, and then for three years after that, did not get petted. And so, apparently, other than maybe an occasional snuggle with another feline resident at the shelter, she … she didn't purr. And the occasional snuggle was likely not as marvelously ecstatic as petting. Is she that unusual? Are most cats wired such that nothing makes them happier than human petting — not food, not mutual grooming, not being nursed on by their kittens? Maybe when they themselves are kittens, their mother grooming them is equally wonderful; maybe, for the brief time "the act" takes, copulation brings an emotional ecstasy along with the physical. But other than that, maybe for some cats — most? — nothing in the world compares to an ear rub or a chin scritch by a human being. Maybe that's because we domesticated them and they evolved that way, or maybe part of why they were able to be domesticated is that we humans happen to caress them in a way that is reminiscent of their mothers' grooming. Either way, the result is this: perhaps many cats — most cats? — can never achieve their highest potential happiness without a person. Contentment, yes; but not unrestrained joy, not half an hour at a time of rolly-squirmy-kneady return-to-kittenhood when the world was perfect and safe and nothing bad had ever happened and never would.

Precious used to drool. I thought it was because her brain was miswired. But now she doesn't drool. Because she learned. Because in the last year, she's had an opportunity to learn — to learn something that she apparently didn't have the opportunity to learn in the previous six years or so of her life. I'm so happy for her it makes me cry. And at the same time, I grieve for the countless cats — feral, stray, or just "benignly" neglected — who will never return to kittenhood and never be nearly as happy as they could have been.

violetcheetah: (Default)
"Do not speak the words aloud,"
the wise sorceress warned her child.
"No matter how forcefully they shriek in your mind,
you must never utter them,
for the earth will rip and
the sky will burn and
time itself will spin askew so that
the future will have happened and the future,
my child,
if you have said the words aloud,
will be unspeakable agony for all,
and you,
my child,
will be responsible."

And so of course the child
did not speak them,
even as every day they clanged
like fighting church bells
only she could hear.
And as she grew,
they grew louder,
until each time she opened her mouth
she feared they would escape,
and so she ceased to speak at all.

Her silence was noted
by the elders of the town
and presumed to be the price
of colluding with Dark Forces,
and she dared not tell them differently.
So she was tied to a stake
above a pyre that was then
set ablaze,
and she sighed in relief
that the words would die with her
and the world would be safe.

But the sigh pulled the smoke
into her lungs,
and each cough
only brought more,
each cough deeper
and louder
and more like a voice,
until she was speaking,
"Come soon,
come now,
before — "
BUT death didn't obey,
and helplessly
she felt the words she dare not say
rip through her closing throat

where they fell like strong
but gentle rain
upon the pyre,
smothering first the smoke
and then the fire.
The crowd stared in wonder,
and then bowed to gaze
at the ground in shame,
until finally first the children
and then each woman and man
turned toward the back of the crowd
to see the sorceress,
her mouth agape
but stricken in silence,
unable to believe
the world was still here.

violetcheetah: (Default)
Maybe I'm thinking about this only because many of the people I've met through my writing workshop are trans or gender-fluid, and I'm a copycat. Maybe I'm thinking about it because I never had the framework to question before. I still don't, really; I'm not sure how to ask the questions I want to ask — especially of friends who've never questioned their gender — and have them understand what I'm asking. I had an IM conversation with a friend, and it was hard to explain that no, I don't mean the question you are answering, but I don't know how to explain what it is I -do- mean.

My main questions is: how often does an average person think about their own gender? What percentage of your time are you aware, as you go about your daily grind, of being male, or female? When I asked my friend, she said, well, whenever I go to the bathroom and sit down, but I said, that's just your body's sex, which is another question I want answered, but not the question I'm talking about. She said, I guess when I'm horny; but again, that's not gender, that's just the body's response to stimuli. What I'm trying to figure out is, aside from when your genitals remind you of their existence, is there a baseline, constant hum in your brain of "I am female/I am male"? Is that part of the sense-of-self most people have coursing through them all the time? Because I don't think it is for me. Even when I am doing something physical, when I am aware of my body working or not working, when I am aware of it being my body, and either feeling like it belongs to me or that I am mismatched, I don't think about it as being female, so the feeling of belong in it, or alternately the dysphoria, doesn't seem to have anything to do with its sex. I often don't like my body, but I often love it; which one I feel at a given moment has more to do with whether it's doing what I want it to.

For the most part, though, I don't think about my body's sex one way or the other, let alone whether it matches my mind's gender. And I think that's why it's hard to separate that from the question of gender, because I don't have -that- underlying awareness, either.

I am female. If you ask, that's what I answer. But most of my security in that answer seems to come from outside, from other people treating me as female. I don't feel female when I'm alone, or when I'm with people who don't call attention to my sex. I don't feel -male-, either. I wear long skirts, and my hair is long, and I like how I look in long hair and skirts. I feels right, to the extent that I ever feel right looking in the mirror. But it also feels like a costume. And: I like how I look in hiking boots, with a skirt or not, and how I look in loose jeans and a unisex t-shirt. I like both, because both are dress-up. I look in the mirror and smile because I'm wearing a cool costume; today I'm impersonating a boy, tomorrow I'm impersonating a girl. I feel comfortable either way, but mainly because either one hides what I am equally well. Or hides what I'm not, hides that, in just another of several ways, there's a part of me that isn't there. But in this case, I don't really miss the absence, any more than I wish a felt sexual attraction; it isn't a hole I search to fill. The difference between having an arm amputated and having been born without it.

Or maybe it isn't something that other people have. But it seems like they do. Women, most women, seem to primp or adjust in an unconscious way, stand in such a way to accentuate the feminine parts of their body. Men stand or sit in a certain way that takes up space; they touch their facial hair, especially, if they have it; adjust the waist of the pants, move a leg a certain way that isn't the way most women stand. But I don't know if it's just that most male bodies feel comfortable a certain way, and most female bodies feel comfortable a certain different way, or if it's an unconscious hum, a voice saying, "I am a man, and this is how men stand or sit," or, "I am a woman, and turning this way indicates that."

I don't know how to explain better. I feel strange asking the questions, even, because it feels like I think too much. But I'd be interested in my friends' responses, whether publicly, or anonymously on the blog post, or via Facebook private message.

violetcheetah: (Default)
This post is kind of a sandwich: cat-whisperer giddiness to start and end, with some oversharing about psychological trauma in the middle.

Read more... )

violetcheetah: (Default)
This started off as an attempt to explain the emotional/mental side of scentsitivity, but it spread to encompass other ways in which I'm invaded.  I wrote it several months ago, and rereading it, there's a resonance between the way "normal" people seem to perceive me — that they are interacting with a figment of their imagination because they can't conceive of someone like the actual-me existing — and the way I feel interacting with my mother.

Read more... )

Autumn bee

Oct. 3rd, 2014 02:45 pm
violetcheetah: (Default)
It's a short walk to the train station. I always glance at the ground a lot as I walk, which is why I notice the bumblebee. She is crouched motionless on the sidewalk, six inches or so from the edge. I'm not sure she's alive, so I kneel and touch her. She moves her legs, clearly upset, but uncoordinated; she keels to one side, unable to walk, let alone fly away.

Maybe she's hurt, although her body looks perfect and unharmed. Perhaps she's just old, shutting down and dying. Or maybe it's just too chilly to function for a tiny creature that isn't warm-blooded, and she needs a milder day to be able to fly home. Whether just cold, or dying, the sidewalk seems like a horrible place to wait for what comes next. Not because of the danger of human feet, but because she's in the open, on something that is not of nature. I know I think too much: her brain is not capable of dread, maybe not even of true fear. Maybe. But what if?

And that's why this afternoon, I knelt on a sidewalk, nudged an addled bee onto an oak leaf by touching her butt with another oak leaf, and set her four feet away on the grass under a tree. Maybe she's dying, maybe already dead as I write, but at least she has sprigs of green around her and over her, earth at her unsteady feet. To the extent that she can tell the difference between "exposed" and "sheltered," she hopefully feels safer, or just less unsafe.

violetcheetah: (chess)
Two weeks ago, the prompt in my writing workshop was a poem, Nate Klug's "Squirrels." It led me to write the following poem:

This is my mind today,
squirrels in the corner of its eye,
joyous squirrels but also wasps,
the wisp of grass on the ankle
is mistaken for ominous,
the ankle jerking upward to
meet the smack of the palm
before I realize there is
nothing there to sting me
except that slapping hand,
and then two minute later
the same tickle causes
the same spasm because
I cannot keep the knowing
in the front of my mind,
the knowing that there is
no danger in the grass's caress.

I cannot keep anything
in the front of my mind;
I have read about an eye disease,
macular degeneration,
that robs one of all vision
but peripheral,
a black spot in the middle
that expands with time,
until you look at the world always
with eyes averted
because it's the only way to see,
but you cannot focus your side gaze,
so even what you see is never clear,
and even light casts a shadow,
confusing your eyes with the contrast.

The laminated placard
hanging from the railing
near my machine at work
shifts in the air currents and
flashes at the edge of my view,
making me glance up and over
before I even know that
I'm expecting a person standing,
before I realize that I am afraid,
so that I know there's no danger
a moment before my heart quickens —
each time the glimmer,
then the understanding,
then the lurch of fear,
then shame at the lack of logic.

This is my mind today —
yesterday — July — April, this year and last.
Each day I think
tomorrow I will see
what is front of me.
But today is never tomorrow,
and my mind's eye aches
with the constant futility.


violetcheetah: (Default)
Violet Wilson

October 2017

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