Daily Prompt: My aloneness in time

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For a moment today, time stands still — but you can tweak one thing while it’s stopped. What do you do?

Everyone around me is anchored to something, but not me. I am unencumbered by ties and untethered in time.

This state is more boring that you might think. Every living thing around me appears as a statue, frozen and unmoving. There’s a woman paused in mid-step, high-heeled foot poised just above the sidewalk. A car sits on the street, halfway through a turn, the driver’s hands glued to the steering wheel. A squirrel is suspended in mid-air between two branches.

I have no idea what caused this or how long it will last, and more to the point, I have no idea why I am immune to whatever happened. Perhaps the answer is the opposite; that instead of an event affecting everything other than me, it affected only me, and I have speeded up so much that everything around me appears to have stopped.

I need some way of measuring how time moves forward in this strange new world. I walk into the nearby drugstore and help myself to some chalk, and use it to draw outlines of several people. After doing this I take a walk. Being familiar with this area of town makes it easy to mark out a 2-mile distance, and I average 15 minutes per mile. When I return the outline is slightly off, by about an inch. Now I know the rate of movement; 2 inches per hour. At this rate, a mile walk for the statues will take 5 years, compared with my time of 15 minutes.

What can I do with this interstice of time? Do I spend my time playing silly jokes on people, swapping items of clothing and hiding keys? Should I go to the library and surround myself with knowledge and use this time outside time to learn? Do I give up and obliterate myself in a haze of drugs and alcohol? I could walk the few miles to the University and attempt to get help from the physics department by writing a note. I contemplate doing this. If it takes 2 hours to get someone to see and react to my response, 40 years of my life will have gone by. Without any human contact, with no support system, I doubt that I can last 40 years; sickness or madness will kill me first.

No one of the frozen can help me. I am alone. There will be no rescue.

Daily Prompt: The absolute and true story of my recent life (from the cat’s perspective)

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This is the absolute and true story of my recent life.

At one time, it was a good life, a great life, actually. Like most of my species, I am hesitant at using superlatives, instead preferring to hold back and observe before praising; but I can say, now that it is over, that indeed my life was wonderful.

I lived with two humans, both of whom adored me. Of course they did, for I was (and am still) perfect, and completely worthy of adoration. I am a tri-color, what humans in this part of the world call “Calico,” and the pattern of black, ginger and white I was born with is quite attractive. Apparently, my personality was a constant source of delight to my human staff, because they fussed and played with me endlessly.

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The smaller, female human was gone most days, leaving me to spend time with the male. She was a good staff person, making sure my food supply was adequate, brushing me, and adept at learning the games I enjoyed. However, on occasion she did some things that were not so good; trimming my nails and, worst of all, putting me into the small container and then on those horrible, horrible car rides to the vet. I did my best to train her, but she is not that bright, and no matter how many times I showed my dissatisfaction she never learned. I’d watch her cleaning up my lessons and wonder how she could be so dense; but then, I’ve never fully understood humans and expect I never will.

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The larger, male human was home the most. That was a good thing, because he was the more trainable. I am proud of all the games I taught him; there are too many to list here, but I will tell you about one, the door game. If I walked over to the door and looked at it, he would jump up to open it, allowing me to wander out on the balcony. Once I tired of being outside, all I had to do was stare at the door, and he would once again open it for me. He performed very well. I would sometimes test his ability by going in and out repeatedly, and no matter how short of a time period there was between requests, he was always right there to open the door for me.

His obvious worship of me extended beyond the simple tricks I taught him. He got up early every morning to come downstairs and give me fresh food and water. He was always willing to spend time stroking and petting me, and was a great nap companion. During my more active moods, I could get him to play games of touch your nose, hunt your foot, or stalk your hand (my personal favorite). Yes, I had the perfect life. I realize that, now that it has changed.

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Slightly over a year ago, there was a very bad morning. The usual routine was for the male to come downstairs and take care of me. The female would follow later, with wet hair and smelling of soap, and be handed a cup of coffee by the male (he took care of her as well as me). This very bad morning, none of that happened. My house was rudely intruded upon by a group of strangers. Not only were they loud and very scary, not one of them showed the slightest interest in me, obviously the most wonderful being in the house. They were only interested in the male, and ended up taking him with them. The female human followed them a few minutes later. I was completely ignored: no food, no fresh water.

It was unforgivable.

For the next month the male was gone, the female was hardly ever home, and my routine was completely disrupted. It was a living hell; let me tell you. The female paid only the most cursory attention to me.

They say you never realize what you have until it’s gone, and I have learned how true a saying that is. It’s been a year now, and my life has changed for the worse. The male never did come back; it is just the female and I now. My food bowl stays empty longer in the morning, and I am alone during the day. She never was as trainable as the male.

I miss him, a lot. I think she does as well, but it’s so hard to tell with humans; they just don’t act in a manner that makes sense.

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The Personal is the Political

What does community mean? How do we live with others in a manner that is respectful of the larger group while still allowing for individual rights? This is an area that encompasses larger political issues as well as smaller, personal matters.

I live in a city known for its “lefty” politics, where there are thriving co-ops and formally set up barter groups and community cars. Where opinion polls show a decided majority against fracking and polluting and in favor of putting restrictions on the ability of private land owners to make decisions that will have a negative long term effect on the land.

There was a saying common in the feminist movement back in the day: “The personal is political”. It meant that small, everyday decisions had as much importance as larger ones, and the choices made in your personal life were just as critical as those made in the larger sphere. It was a simple way of saying that in those areas where you have options and control and the ability to make a choice, do so in a manner that is consistent with your beliefs.

So, here I am yesterday afternoon at a local mall. There’s a central section that is the traditional, enclosed mall flanked on the front by an outdoor mall. One end of the enclosed portion is a grocery store, the other a high-end movie theater . The outside area is across a “street” built several years ago. There are lots of seating areas, restaurants and stores. I was there Saturday afternoon to see a movie that let out around 5:30pm. Afterwards I ended up walking the full length of the enclosed portion to get to the grocery store. During my walk, I was treated to a non-stop chorus of loud shouts and screams from a toddler walking with his mother.

Now, before I start in on this, let’s establish some credentials. I did raise a child. Yes, it was back in the mists of time (the 1980’s) but I’ve been there and never, ever forgotten some of the highlights of those years: the time my daughter decided to have a classic old-fashioned tantrum complete with dropping to the floor kicking and screaming in another mall, or the melt-downs that occurred in grocery stores during those treacherous after daycare, before dinner shopping trips.

During those tough, challenging early years, one of the many things children are learning is social behavior. The importance of understanding that none of us are in this alone, that there is a web connecting us together. I’m kind of anti-libertarian in this area. I don’t think we’re all on our own, in fact I think the opposite. Society is made up of all of us, old and young, weak and strong.

Which means that a big part of growing up and maturing and being able to take your place at the adult table in life is understanding what is means to be a part of the whole, and considering the impact of your actions on people other than yourself. That the actions of one can impact the many, and the importance of what I’ve come to think of as social graces.

I fully get that young children need time be loud. I also remember the “witching hour” that happens late afternoon/early evening, when the most mild-mannered children become fretful and angry, and how giving them a chance to be active can help. What I don’t get is that there was a simple, easy option that was ignored. Instead of calmly allowing her child to scream and yell down the entire length of an enclosed mall, she could have stepped outside for the same walk. Outside, the noise wouldn’t have echoed and reverberated, seeming twice as loud as it really was. The actions of the child were fine and perfectly understandable; it was Mom’s complete lack of interest in finding a way to let her child let off steam in a manner that wasn’t disconcerting to others that bothered me.

So, back to the point of this whole screed: what was being taught to that child is that decisions are made by considering what is best for you, and you alone; that the needs of others are never important and should be ignored.

I bet if I had met this woman in another situation and we had been talking about keeping water-ways clean, she would agree that the needs of the larger community should be taken into consideration. And, yeah, I realize I’m stretching a bit here, but there is a connection between decisions made on the small, personal level and larger level. Teaching your children, from an early age, how to successfully balance their needs with respect for others helps is making the political personal. It’s community. It’s important. And it makes the world a better place.

It’s time; for a new blog name

It’s time. I spent the last year working through grief. It was a year of mostly downs, with some ups. The roller coaster of briefly feeling good followed by the longer slide down into despair. Playing detective in a futile attempt to make sense of what happened, as though this had been a mystery that just needed a neat explanation. Mostly just trying to hang on and make it through the tumult of emotions that came and went like Midwest weather patterns.

It’s time. I gave myself a year to process what had happened and come to grips with my new life. The year is up. Oh, I’m still in mourning; I’m guessing that, to some degree, it will continue throughout my life and end up a part of me; but I am not going to make the slide into professional widow.

It’s time. I’m still a widow and will always be one, regardless of where my life goes or what happens. I want that to be a badge of courage and inspiration and proof that terrible and sad events do not have to destroy. I made it through this first year.

It’s time. The people I feel I’ve “met” through this blog, the comments from other writers, the posts I look forward to reading; all have helped. I’ve learned I’m not alone, that many, many others have been through similar experiences.

It’s time. My goal for year 1 was to just make it through. It’s time for a new goal. This first year was focused on basic survival; now it’s time to live. Part of my moving forward is a new blog name. I’m still a widow, but I want to identify as other than sad, not just as a widow but as a person with a full life and a questing spirit and a desire to continue living.

It’s time. To change the name of this blog; and I’m asking for your help in coming up with a new name, one that I can move forward with as I move forward with my life.