The last week was emotionally turbulent, but I am starting to feel better. I spent the first few days after Viola’s untimely departure crying and howling that I couldn’t believe she was gone. I still feel haunted by her absence but my body and mind can only physically sustain so much sorrow. I’m not crying (much) anymore and I’m starting to feel normal again. I am, however, exhausted. Strong emotions are tiring. On top of everything, I had to get out of bed and go through the motions at work all week. What the heck.
I appreciate all my friends for being so kind and supportive. Many people have offered condolences and help, some people sent cards, and I even got a plant. I think our culture (or at least the part of our culture I inhabit) has come a long way in recognizing how important pets are and how real our emotions about them are. People have said to me that it’s hard to lose a member of the family. Pets aren’t human but they are important parts of our lives. Unlike people, they can’t really disappoint you or be an asshole, so it seems unfair when they die.
This is my first real grief—I haven’t lost any close family members or friends as an adult, which is fortunate (especially in these times). So, I have been thinking a lot about what we say when someone dies. Most of my life I have heard “may they rest in peace,” in the Christian tradition. “Rest in peace” is really about the dead more than the living. They’re dead. It would be hard to disturb them, I think. I’ve come to appreciate the Jewish version, “may their memory be a blessing.” It seems to better acknowledge that grief is about the living. Someone dear is gone but we hope that, one day, their memory will bring you joy and not pain. A few days ago, I could only imagine pain when thinking about Viola. Now I’m starting to see where her memory can be a blessing. I have a story highlight on my instagram of her pictures and videos. I’ve been paging through it every night when I get in bed as if it’s a set of prayer beads. Last night was the first time I relaxed while looking at it. In life, Viola always helped me feel calm. I’m relieved to know she lives on, in a way, in photos and video. (Of course, writing this has made me cry again, so there’s no winning).
Here are some things I’ve recently read, watched, or bought.
Books and Other Words
It was a little hard to read this week because Viola was always my reading companion. Many times I sat down to read and started crying instead, but I did manage to finish some books I had started including When Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo and Culture Warlords: My Journey into the Dark Web of White Supremacy by Talia Lavin.
I also finished up some reading on composting that I got from the library: Composting for a New Generation and Bob’s Basics: Composting. If you only have room for one composting book in your schedule, I recommend Composting for a New Generation. It is a good guide for beginners. It explains all the different ways you can compost and provides instructions for making your own composting containers. Composting is something I want to start doing this year and I feel like now I actually understand it enough to do it, which is exciting.
Meanwhile, on the internet:
- The ignominious deceits of Congressman Cawthorn via The Nation. The new, 25-yaer-old, Trump-supporting representative from North Carolina has been lying about everything, including his education and business history. The article researches Cawthorn’s claims about training for the Paralympics and found that he’s not at all a serious person. The thing with some of these Trump-leaning conservatives that continues to baffle me is why lie? Why lie about this? Do you think your constituents are too stupid to care? Is the liar themselves too stupid to make a good lie? I can’t comprehend it.
- The meaning of the mittens: Five possibilities via The Intercept. After sharing so many Bernie in his cozy mittens memes this week, of course I was interested in Naomi Klein’s analysis of the situation.
- Do ‘elder Goths’ hold the secret to aging successfully? via The Washington Post. Most of our culture is youth-obsessed, but goths are all about the macabre past. From the article: “Bush argues that Goths’ success in aging has a lot to do with their ability to juggle opposing, seemingly paradoxical energies. Take Goths’ emotional intensity: While off-putting to some, Goths’ willingness to harness dark feelings such as despair, gloom and hopelessness, rather than repress them, can prove healthier in the long run, Bush says. Equally vital is Goths’ ability to find humor, irony and beauty in supposedly “ugly” sources, such as flowers that grow by a cemetery or the absurd frailties of the aging body. In a culture, for instance, that already treats older women as frightful, why not own that, and become the most fabulous grand dame of darkness the world has ever seen?”
TV and Music
We are living through a great time for RuPual’s Drag Race because we have season 13 airing right now and Drag Race UK season 2. I’m enjoying both, but the UK season has a certain je ne sais quoi and it’s hilarious. It’s really great to have something so fun to watch right now.
This week I started re-watching Star Trek: Deep Space 9 because I wanted something that wouldn’t be too wild and something I’ve seen before. It’s fitting the bill but I did kind of make a mistake because I forgot that in the first episode we have to deal with Sisko losing his wife in a spaceship accident. That set me crying again but I’m okay now. I also had to yell at the TV when they had an episode with a pandemic spreading around the station. Have they even been a pandemic before? Total amateurs.
For some reason, facebook has started showing me lots of ads for chocolate makers and I keep clicking on them because I guess they’ve got my number now. I mentioned previously that I am going to order a book from an independent bookstore every month. I ordered my book for this month (it’s not here yet!). I thought it would be fun to get a fancy snack to accompany my reading. The chocolate got here before the book this month and we’ve been sampling it. It’s really good! This is Zotter chocolate and they make bars that are like a bonbon but in bar form. This year I’m all about trying to make fun or interesting events for myself at home while I ride out the rest of this pandemic. If that means buying fancy chocolate, so be it.
Making Things and Doing stuff
This week I was inspired to add peanut M&Ms to my weekly pill lineup. Why? Because they fit perfectly. Plus it makes taking my anxiety meds every night a lot more fun. Literally no one can stop you from adding candy to your pill organizer.
Knitting and Crafts
Now that I’ve had a little break from my Christmas gift knitting marathon, I’m getting back into my groove and working on this shawl. I don’t know what the finished pattern will look like since it’s from a “mystery knit-a-long” that my mom bought for me last Christmas. However, I’m super into this part of the pattern because it looks like stained glass. Knitting is cool as hell.
I’ve kept things simple in the kitchen this week, but I did do a little bit of baking. I made a batch of my favorite pumpkin rolls to give myself something to do (and eat) because I still had some pumpkin in the pantry. In an effort to use the large amount of carrots I accidentally ordered, I made carrot bread (recipe from The Bread Bible). The recipe calls for raisins, but I don’t hate myself so I substituted pecans. I really like making quick breads like this in the mini-loaf pans. It bakes faster and it’s easier to deal with.
I also made bagels for the first time! I’m alternating my “kitchen vacations” with baking techniques and this week it was baking time. The bagels weren’t too hard to make, just a little bit of effort at the end with getting all the bagels boiled and topped with the “everything” blend before baking. I’ll definitely make these again because they were delicious. I used the recipe from The Bread Bible, which has yet to let me down. I tried both methods of shaping a bagel: one where you make a ball and push a hole through it and another where you make a snake then close it up into a circle. The snake-dough versions didn’t quite hold together as well as the hole-poke ones. You can probably tell which is which in the photos. A valuable lesson for future bagel efforts.
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Huey seems to be enjoying her new status as the only cat in the house. She’s been cuddling with me a lot more and sleeping on the bed every night. This is great but it makes me feel like I was neglecting her before. Kirk says I wasn’t, it’s just that Viola always made herself the center of attention. Regardless, Huey is getting plenty of high-quality attention now.