This month marks 30 years I have been working. A week after my 14th birthday, I went to the nurse’s office at school and applied for my working papers. I was approved. My first job was delivering newspapers in town. One of the stops on my route was a senior citizen building. They all found it novel to have a paper girl instead of a paper boy.
At age 15, I got a job working at McDonald’s. At age 16, I started working 2-3 jobs while in college. I worked 2-3 jobs for over 20 years trying to make ends meet while I was in school.
In fact, in the 30 years that I have been in the workforce, the only time I have ever been unemployed were those two months back in 2021 when I lost my job in the pandemic. Other than those two months, I have been working for 30 years continuously.
Many people retire after 20 years or so. I will not have the privilege of retirement. You see, I am not allowed to collect social security due to my student loans. I’ve been paying into the system for 30 years now, but will never be able to collect benefits due to student loans.
Even though we pay back our student loans, the government refuses to release the debt. So we pay the student loans two or three times over. When we ask for “forgiveness” for student loans, we are not asking for the government to write off unpaid debt. We are asking them to release us from the loans we have already paid back with interest and yet are still paying. Student loans are America’s way of indentured servitude.
The only way to retire if you have student loans is to try to save money in a 401k. But really, with student loan payments taking 30% of your income, who can save money in a 401k? We are not allowed social security payments for retirement or for disability. I feel terrible for all the people with long covid who are denied disability benefits because they owe student loans. This is how the system works in America.
This year I celebrate 30 years of work in America with no end in sight. Or is there?
Given we are living in a genocide, I am going to be outrageously optimistic and say I am hoping to live to see age 60. The government wants me dead, so trying to live and survive for 16 more years is quite ambitious. However, given the rapid decline in American life expectancy, I feel that age 60 is a reasonable goal. After all, America is doing everything it can to kill off people over age 65 and those with disabilities.
So while I “celebrate” 30 years of working, I am hoping to be able to work for 11 more years. At age 55, I intend to retire and spend 5 years not working before I die at age 60. I think I deserve that.
Of course, my real goal is to outlive the cats. I need to be able to take care of them and keep them together. Given their current ages, I think my goal of living to see age 60 to outlive them is quite reasonable.
While student loan payments have been paused, I have been putting my money into my 401k. When I reach age 55, I plan to withdraw all the money and leave the country. Once the cats are gone, my goal is to travel. I will have 5 years to enjoy before I die.
Of course, you know how the best laid plans are always waylaid. This is my optimistic goal.
After 30 years of work, I can only hope to work 11 more years. It’s possible that death or disability will cut my work life short and I will never experience retirement. I will never be able to travel or visit other countries if America continues on its current downward trajectory.
But today, I celebrate 30 years of work with the thought that I will only work for 11 more years and then can take 5 years of enjoyment before death. This is the best America has to offer. My dream is to outlive the cats and hopefully be able to travel out of country before I die.
I’m not sure how much longer I will be alive. Not only am I on the euthanasia list, but the American government is actively engaged in genocide with a level 3 biohazard known as covid. We are experiencing a 9/11 worth of covid deaths daily, yet the government says the pandemic is “over.” So many people are dying of covid here, they are being put in mass graves.
But to be optimistic on my birthday, I am hoping to live to age 60 to outlive the cats. I need to be able to take care of them and keep them together.
Before the pandemic, when I bought the house, I decided it was time to take care of some important planning as part of being a responsible adult. I wrote my own obituary and outlined my wishes for my funeral. At the time, I considered this “long term planning.”
Part of my planning was that I came up with a playlist of songs that represent my life. I chose 26.2 songs. A marathon is 26.2 miles. I am a marathon runner. There are 26 randoms songs. The .2 are two Christmas songs, kind of as a bonus. My plan was for the playlist to be played at my funeral for people to have something to remember me by and as a way to have insight into my life.
Given that so many people now are just being thrown into mass graves with all of the covid deaths, I highly doubt I will have a funeral or a death how I want it.
I have decided that on my birthday I want to post my playlist today. I want people to celebrate my life. Every day I am alive is a precious gift. I just want to outlive my cats.
I am quite sure that even if I live for another 15 or 20 years and then die, that my playlist will be the same. These are truly songs that tell the story of my life.
I am giving you the annotated version in random order. The songs are not in any particular order. I will post a link to the YouTube version of the song linked to the song title if you want to listen to my playlist. Each song has a brief description of why it has been chosen.
So today on my birthday, I want to celebrate life by sharing with you the 26.2 songs in the key of my life with you. Enjoy. Celebrate being alive. Life is precious and so fleeting.
This song has been in the background of my life for as long as I remember. It has echoed off the mountains of the Adirondacks. I named a room in my house after this song. I have just lived it and felt it as a part of me always. From childhood to death. I was not as strong as you think. I have always “wished you were here,” but I honestly never knew who I was wishing for because people always flowed through my life like water.
This was my theme song when I finally completed my bachelor’s degree at Binghamton University in 2011 after having spent 15 year fighting for a 4-year degree while working 2-3 jobs. It also describes exactly what I want for my funeral: “You can take my urn to Fenway spread my ashes all about.”
Wow. This is my Cranberry song. It is my life song. I have literally lived every single lyric in this song. I have “seen the world through a bus windshield.” I spend every Cranberry sitting in an old blue chair. I have often been there to “let go of a lover who took a piece of my heart.” I have fallen asleep in that blue chair and “woke up to a million mesquito bites.” I have lived this song more than any other. It was so hard picking a Kenny song, as he is one of my top 3 favorite artists, but this is my song.
This is another song I have lived. This is for my first New York girlfriend. Thank you for breaking the geography barrier for me and for teaching me that I am who I am no matter where I am and that is completely okay. “I got to sing, I got to dance, I got to be a part of a great romance, still forbidden, still outrageous …”
This was for when I reclaimed my childhood by taking drum lessons. This song healed my heart when Kip died. This song healed my heart when Kitty died. I have cried to this song. I have made love to this song. I fell down the stairs (due to my disability) when this song was playing. I danced around the living room (with wine) to this song. It was hard to pick which Flo song to put on this list, but it had to be this one. This song has seen me through good and bad. “Sweeter than Heaven and hotter than Hell”
Pretty much. You would not believe how many people have called me a bitch to my face. So whether you’re here to toast me in respect or spit on my grave, this is for you. “The ones that need me, got me. The ones that doubt me can’t stop me.”
Many of my best memories come from the beach in winter. Whether it was surfing the waves or just watching a storm come in, I loved being on the oceans and the lakes. I always joke that Taylor should come to the rainbow side and would be my future ex-wife. Her best albums are Lover and Midnights. So I had to include a T.Swift song. This one just brings back wonderful memories of the cottage on Cayuga Lake and the Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod.
Def Leppard is my most favorite band of all time. I fell in love with them at 8 years old. I saw them in concert twice. It was so hard to choose, when I love 99% of the songs they’ve ever done. But this one rings true for me and has since I was a child.
I love Dolly. It was hard choosing one of her songs. This is the song that inspired my baby name. Jolene was auburn and white. This is one of the most misunderstood songs in music history. To truly get why this song has spoke to my soul, you need to listen to a podcast called “Dolly Parton’s America” from WNYC Studios (2019) episode 6: “The Only One for Me, Jolene.”
The very first time I went to Boston was in high school back in the 90s for Harvard Model Congress. I had flown up from Virginia and was rooming with this chick who completely blew my mind from Chicago. We listened to REO on vinyl and shared strawberry shortcake at Hard Rock. Of all REO songs, this one exemplifies my life. “If you’re tired of the same old story, turn some pages.”
For my son, Simon. Simon’s name came from many places. It came from Paul Simon, Simon as the character in The Saint, so we had the physics connection with the other kids, and also the Chipmunks. Although, sometimes with his mischief, I would joke he should have been named Alvin. Simon is one of the five most important loves of my life.
This is another song I have lived. This is for my Kennedy Compound secret that we kept for over 20 years. You made me crawl through the window because I would not commit. Yet, my surfboard lived in the garage when I returned from Cali. In memory of days in P-town, nights in Truro and endless sand. All I can say is “thank you.” I left a part of my heart on Kalmus Beach and in at least one part of heaven, I’ll be riding the waves there once again. You were the harmony to my melody.
This reminds me of the person who held my heart in their hands since we were 8 years old. Thank you for giving me some of my best and most memorable birthdays in my 30s. You chose cocaine over me. I’m not judging, I’m not sad, I’m not mad. I was still here for you until I took my last breath. I hope you know that.
This is for the person who not only provided me safe harbor in the storm, but also gave me the strength to stand on my own two feet on the shore without getting pummeled by waves. You taught me to surf. You taught me about wine. You gave me freedom, light and love. Then, you moved on, and it was okay. Thank you for changing my life and giving me the skills I needed to readjust my sails. I listened to this song every Cranberry morning after I met you. You showed me the beauty of lake and ocean in winter.
This song describes what I went through going back and forth between Massachusetts and New York for decades. Every time I crossed the border back into New York, it broke my heart. I was crying so hard, it’s a wonder I did not get ticketed more than what I did.
This was my running theme song for the first half of my running career. I had claimed it before it became popular with the rest of the running community. I grew up in poverty. I know exatly what this song was talking about. Running was my one chance in life to be great.
This song reminds me of growing up, but especially, high school. I’ve always believed this to be true, even in the times when I felt I had nothing more to give. “It ain’t the life you choose, but the life you live.”
This song reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me of my grandfather working his farm and teaching me that the most important thing in life is to work hard to provide for your family. You have to work hard so you can love. I spent 25 years working 60-80 hour weeks trying to make ends meet before my disability made me slow down to 40 hours a week. I would not have made it if not for the lessons my grandfather taught me.
Happy 11th Birthday, Jude! Valentine’s Day 2023 is Jude’s 11th birthday. It is also his Gotcha Day. He has been with me for 9 years. Jude was adopted at age 2. He had been taken by the Humane Society from a hoarding situation that had over 30 cats crammed into a tiny trailer.
Jude was very shy in the shelter. He did not want to come out of his cage. The shelter workers said he got along with all of the other cats and played gently with them, keeping his claws in. Jude was the perfect companion for Kitty, who was 15 when Jude entered our home. Kitty was heartbroken over the loss of his lifelong companion, Kip. When Jude arrived, he truly did take a sad song and make it better.
Jude played gently with Kitty and was with him through his final years and battle with cancer. When Kitty passed away, I told Jude he was going to be an only child. That lasted about 7 months before Jude started driving me nuts and obviously needed a feline companion.
Jude is now the eldest brother to younger siblings Simon and Jolene. Jude took to Simon right away. They are best friends and often cuddle and groom each other. Jude is the same. With Jolene. Sometimes, I think Jude plays rough with Simon. However, it could just be the contrast with how gentle he was with Kitty.
The funny thing is, Jude treats Jolene much the same as he treated Kitty. Jude will play with Jolene, but very gently, and not for long. Jolene often chases Jude. He does nothing to retaliate. You can tell Jolene is in charge.
This is in contrast to when Simon and Jolene play together. They both give and take quite equally.
As Jude is celebrating 9 years with me, he has now officially been living in the house longer than we were in the apartment. This house is truly his furever home. You can tell he is much happier in the house than he was in the apartment. I do not think he was unhappy in the apartment. He just seems happier in the house.
In the house, there is more room to run and play. Jude plays more in the house. He is comfortable here. He often rolls around on the floor, which is his indication he wants attention, pets, and play.
All three cats have now officially lived in this house longer than they have lived any place else in their lives. This is home for them. Personally, I will have to be in this house another decade before it surpasses the time I lived in the apartment.
For the cats, this is home. It’s the home they have known. This is where we will be living for the rest of our lives.
I did not intend to adopt Jude on Valentine’s Day. We had a snowstorm that year and the schools all closed. The roads were bad, but not that bad. Since I unexpectedly had the day off, I decided to go meet Jude early. I had been planning on meeting him the following week. I honestly did not know if he would be the right cat to be a companion for Kitty or if we would get along or not. As soon as I met him, I knew he was the right one.
He refused to come out of his cage, but he was fine with me opening the cage, petting him, and interacting with him. Jude has so much love to give.
In the past 9 years, he has come so far. He has gone from sitting next to me on the couch to actually sitting on my lap at times. He does love pets and play, but definitely on his own terms. He hates to be picked up.
Jude is very loving with his siblings and is the perfect older brother. Jude will always be my Valentine. I am so glad I took a chance on this shy cat that everyone else had overlooked. He has the sweetest personality, if you have the patience to work with him and allow him to come out on his own terms.
Jude loves being on the bed during the day when I am no longer in it. Sometimes he does sleep in the bed with me at night, but always near my feet. That’s ok. It’s on his terms. I love it when all three cats are in the bed with me at night.
Jude loves laying on the couch with me when reading or watching the DVD player. Since being in the house, he is much more playful. He enjoys his toys and his cactus scratching posts.
This house is the furever home for all three cats now. We will be here until they have all passed. Jude seems to love the space in the house much more than the apartment. There is also lots of entertainment outside the windows with birds, squirrels and neighbors.
Happy Birthday, Jude. Happy Gotcha Day, Jude. We are in our furever home. Thank you so much for taking a sad song and making it better.
Decluttering sentimental items is the most difficult and challenging aspect of minimalism. It is advanced minimalism, and should be undertaken last. Before attempting to declutter sentimental items, you should have experience in exercising your decluttering muscles. Downsizing categories such as clothing, the kitchen and the bathroom should be categories you have addressed well before sentimental items.
Leaving sentimental items until last allows you to build your minimalist muscle. If you attempt to declutter sentimental items too early, you set yourself up for failure. Not only do you fail to declutter the items, but you experience all the feelings involved that make the items sentimental from the beginning. It can cause you a setback in your decluttering journey.
I have finally reached the stage where I am ready to declutter sentimental items. I have tried to declutter this category before and I failed. That’s okay. My initial sweep through the sentimental category, I downsized sentimental items from three storage bins to one storage bin. Sometimes you have to take baby steps.
If you are just starting with the sentimental item category, I do recommend taking it in steps. First, gather all of your sentimental items together. Second, try to curate your collection. I found that downsizing from three storage bins to one storage bin was a challenging, yet doable goal.
The other tip that was helpful for me was that once I downsized from three storage bins to one storage bin, I took the two storage bins that were going to be “leaving” and left them in a closet for a year. After that year, I was completely okay with the two storage bins leaving and just having the one bin of mementos. In fact, after the year, I had completely forgotten what was inside the other two bins. You can’t miss what you don’t remember, can you?
This was a few years ago that I undertook the three bins to one bin exercise. I am finally at a point in my decluttering journey where I am able to address the one bin that is left. Granted, the one bin is about 90% full of items from my childhood. I’m sure your sentimental bin may look different.
Here are reasons why I am now finding it easier to get rid of the remaining bin of sentimental items.
I had a horrible childhood. Why do I want to keep items that remind me of the most traumatic time period of my life? Did I enjoy playing with those toys? No, I did not. I lived in a state of abuse and perpetual fear. The toys in the bin were given to me by someone else in the family, who had absolutely no idea of my favorite toys as a child. They had just set aside toys that they liked or thought I would have wanted. I don’t want them. Now, some of these items are worth money. I have a pair of pristine Sonny and Cher Barbies as well as one of the original preemie Cabbage Patch dolls that came in a plain cardboard box from Sears before they started putting them in shiny, colorful packaging with a plastic “window” to see inside. I still don’t want them. They do not invoke any happy memories.
I have no children. Some people keep a set of their most loved toys to pass down to their own children. I have no children to give these toys to. They are just sitting in a box, not being used, played with or loved. They are taking up space. Toys are intended to bring joy. I’m sure there are children out there who would find joy in playing with them.
They are not benefitting my life. The toys are sitting in a box taking up space. I am decluttering my house in anticipation of an international move. I refuse to pay international shipping to take those items with me. What’s going to happen to them when I move again? They are going to sit in a box in the closet same as they are now. Why pay time, money and energy to move something from place to place that is going to sit unused.
Swedish Death Cleaning. What will happen to this box of toys when I die? They will either be thrown out or donated. Why not get rid of them now so they have the opportunity to bring joy to some child.
Is this difficult? Yes, it is. While none of these items evoke happy memories, it is still difficult to get rid of them. Yet when I sit down and think about it, I cannot think of one good reason to keep them. Do they bring me joy? No, they do not. It is still difficult, emotional and sad to get rid of them. Don’t ask me how. Emotions are complicated that way. You know those times when you feel all the feelings. Even though they evoke negative emotions, I also have negative emotions about getting rid of pieces of my childhood even if it was bad.
In addition to the one bin of childhood toys, I have other sentimental items that will be leaving this year. My entire jewelry collection will be leaving. The only piece of jewelry I am keeping is my mother’s necklace that has Jude, Simon and Jolene’s names on a heart with their birth stones. Why do I need jewelry? It does not bring me joy. No one sees me. My mother’s necklace brings me joy. I am keeping that.
Since the pandemic has started, life has become a story of survival. With no end to the pandemic in sight, why would I need items like jewelry? They are unnecessary baubles. They are not essential for survival. I am downsizing all my items to only those that are necessary or that bring me joy. The other jewelry pieces do not bring me joy. I would not want to take the other jewelry pieces with me on an international move.
I can only wear one necklace at a time. Ok, ok, I’m sure you can wear two or three necklaces at a time. However, that just makes me think of some cheesy 80s rapper concerned with their bling. I personally prefer to wear one necklace at a time. My mother’s necklace is the only one that is meaningful and brings me joy, so it stays. Every other piece of jewelry I have is not irrelevant.
When life is reduced to survival, you really take stock of what is important in life.
There are some sentimental items that are still in the gradual reduction process. There are some items that are too difficult emotionally to leave. I have put those in a box for a year. We will see how I feel at the end of the year. Will I pull items out of the box because I want to look at them or keep them? Will I even remember what is in the box at the end of the year.
To clarify, I do not have a life devoid of meaning. I do have sentimental items I have kept such as my mother’s necklace. I have curated a photo album of my greatest hits / best memories which I take out often and look through fondly. I have some sentimental items that are either in use or on display in my home. I’m not saying to life a life without meaning or sentiment. I am saying to curate what you have. If you love it, display it. Leaving toys in a box for 30 years and shuttling them around from place to place – those are the types of items you really need to question about leaving.
What tips do you have for decluttering sentimental items?
My most favorite thing in America is our glassware. Specifically, I love Ball mason jars and Homer & Shakespeare Laughlin’s Fiesta ware. Both companies are over 100 years old and showcase the best America has to offer.
Previously, I had been all rah-rah USA. I was in support of our troops, our country, and had many American flag themed items. Before the pandemic, I was very patriotic. That all ended on January 6, 2021. As some of my neighbors participated in the insurrection and are currently serving jail terms, I can now say that every single time I see an America flag, the only thing I feel is fear. (You should have seen the parades they had just before and right after the insurrection.)
I am ashamed to be an American these past four years when we are living through a genocide perpetuated by a government that wrongly declares covid to be “over.” With millions of Americans being deliberately killed by a known biohazard, I cannot wait to leave this country of such hate and murder. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that America would let its own citizens die in a pandemic because it’s too hard to instate a mask mandate and improve ventilation.
When thinking of leaving America, I would have to say that the only thing I will miss about this country is our glassware. Yes, I’m sure that the glassware in other countries is spectacular as well. However, I will genuinely miss mason jars and fiesta ware when I leave the USA.
While most mason jars are clear, I do have some of the 100-year anniversary jars that are blue color. When Ball first started making mason jars over 100 years ago, the glass had a natural blue tint due to the weather conditions where the jars were made. I love how mason jars are standard sizes with gradations. While originally used for canning food, mason jars are versatile in their uses. Nothing works quite as hard in the American kitchen as the mason jar.
As an adult, I am also privileged to have been able to invest in a set of fiesta ware. Fiesta ware is guaranteed to be lead-free, which is a hard found luxury in the USA. They are made with different colors with whimsical names. Each year, a new color is introduced while an existing color is retired. Some people will have a color theme in their house. Others just mix and match.
Fiesta ware is delightful in its colors. The quality of the glassware is high. It is long lasting, often handed down from generations. Some families have fiesta ware passed down from grandparents. The glassware is durable and difficult to chip or break.
Our color theme for fiesta ware in my household consists of:
Daffodil (a yellow color)
Shamrock (a green that was recently retired)
Lemongrass (a light green)
Lapis (a blue)
Peony (a pink that was recently introduced, although we have one peony item – a mug)
We do not consider peony to be part of our “original” color theme
All of our human dishes and all of our cat dishes are fiesta ware. I believe in giving my cats the very best. I actually upgraded all my cat food and cat water dishes to fiesta ware before my human dishes. The cats’ lives are shorter than human lives. They deserve to live the good life. After all, the greatest gift they bring to our lives is unconditional love and joy.
In preparing to leave the USA and move to some other country, I am downsizing my house. No, I am not getting rid of any of my mason jars or fiesta ware. My mason jars and fiesta ware are all being used and bring us joy. However, when the time comes to actually make the move out of country, the mason jars and fiesta ware will be leaving. I am not going to attempt to transport glassware with me internationally. I plan to only immigrate with the basics.
Mason jars and fiesta ware will be the only American items I will miss when I leave this country. Everything else I can do without. The glassware I use every day brings me such joy. It is hard to think of going to another country and starting over with different glassware.
There was a story on the news recently about people who immigrated to the USA. They were asked about the one item that they brought with them from their home country that reminded them of home. For me, it would be a mason jar and fiesta ware.
What would you miss the most if you were to leave the USA or your home country?
The first fall I was in the house, I noticed muddy paw prints on my car in the garage. I bought the house at the end of August. It did not take long for me to realize that there were stray cats using my garage as a place of refuge.
That winter, I noticed that the strays were still outside, even in temperatures below zero. It was obvious the cats were homeless! Who in their right mind would let or leave their pet outside in temperatures below freezing? I quickly purchased a bin from the store and made the outside cats a shelter, complete with insulation.
Fast forward to current times. We have been in this house for almost four and a half years. There are now a total of four insulated outside cat shelters and two feeding stations. There were three strays that I call my originals – those were the ones that I saw that first fall and winter of being in the house.
Then, last January, two kittens were thrown out of a truck. I am a permanent remote worker, so I saw the whole thing happen while working. No, I do not spend my entire work day looking out the window. However, when an unknown vehicle drives erratically into the area and does something as outrageous as throwing not one, but two helpless animals out of a moving vehicle, you kind of take notice.
That means that as of January 2022, there were 5 outside cats under my care. There were the three originals and the two kittens thrown from a truck.
On top of all this, there is a dog fighting ring in the area that is using the outside stray cats as bait. They are often spray-painted various colors. The SPCA refuses to shut down the dog fighting ring. They said that it brings in too much money. When I asked “what about the cats being used as bait?” Their exact response was, and I quote, “they will adapt.”
They won’t adapt. They will/are being maimed and murdered.
I reached out to a different non-profit animal rescue in our area that is run 100% by volunteers and donations. With their help, I was able to trap two cats last winter and get them into shelter. They have both already been adopted into loving homes. One of the kittens and one of my “originals” that had been spray painted a very bright green by the dog fighting ring.
That means that as of March 2022, I was left caring for three outside cats – one of the kittens thrown from a truck and two of my “originals.” The rescue knows that I am working with these cats. I am providing them with food, water, insulated shelters, and a safe place of refuge. They know there is a dog fighting ring in the area and that I am trying to trap the cats and get them into the rescue to be adopted.
The rescues have been full. Americans are cruelly dumping their pets for no legitimate reason. Every few months, I reach out to see if there is space to take one of the cats. All through the spring, summer, and fall they have said they are full.
Last week, there was a space available. I had reached out because it looked like one of the outside cats (Tom) had an injury and needed medical care. I asked the rescue if they could take one in, as he looked in need of help. They said yes.
Tom was my third cat trapped and taken to shelter. He was the most difficult. With the first two cats, I was able to get them transported to the rescue within a few hours of being trapped. The rescue just came and got the trap with the cat in it and away they went to safety.
Tom was trapped on Thursday afternoon. The rescue said they would not have space to take him until Friday morning. They had some adoptions on Thursday that would clear up space, plus they wanted to prepare.
I could not leave Tom in the trap for 18 hours outside when it was supposed to get below freezing that night. That would be dangerous and cruel.
I brought Tom inside into my basement. I had to keep him separate from my inside house cats so he would not spread any diseases. Tom was one of my originals I had been caring for 4.5 years. He was an intact male. Who knows what fleas/ticks/diseases he had.
So I brought the cat trap into the basement where he would be heated and not freeze in the trap overnight. I felt bad about him being in a little trap for so long, so I transferred him to a dog cage complete with blankets, cat pan, food and water. I thought he would be more comfortable that way for the 18 hour wait until the rescue was able to take him in.
The rescue saga completely fell apart Friday morning when I was unable to transfer Tom from the dog cage to a cat carrier. He escaped me.
To make a long story short, he spent the entire day (over 12 hours) in my basement hiding. I had to reset the trap to trap him again in the basement. I honestly did not think I would be able to trap him a second time. Tom is smart and Tom is hardy to have survived life outside for as long as he did through many winters of below zero weather.
Surprisingly, I did trap Tom a second time. I was not stupid enough to try any more transfers. I left him in the trap. He was in the trap for over 12 hours before he was taken into rescue. That is the exact situation I was trying to avoid from the beginning, but I learned the hard way, that situation was unavoidable.
The rescue worker came to help me get him out of the basement, as he was too strong for me. We almost lost him a second time trying to get him into the car to take to rescue.
I am happy to report that Tom is at the rescue. He has heat, food, water, love and medical care for the rest of his life. He has been seen by the veterinarian. They estimate he is over 10 years old (a senior). He has dental issues and is indeed an intact male. He has injuries which are most likely from the dog fighting ring.
Whether he is adopted into a living home or not, the rescue has assured me that he has a space there as one of their “forever residents” if need be. Never again will Tom be outside when it is 30 degrees below zero outside. He will get the medical and dental care he needs. He will be neutered.
Rescuing Tom was heartbreaking as he was one of my “originals.” I had provided care for him as a stray for 4.5 years. But honestly, what Tom needs is a loving home. I am so glad he was taken into rescue where he will receive the care he so desperately needs and deserves.
This means that right now I am left caring for two outside cats.
There is Kenny, who I am guessing to be about 1-2 years old. Kenny is one of the kittens that was thrown out of a truck last winter. Kenny pretty much lives in my garage. He sleeps in one of the insulated shelters. I have a snuggle safe heat disc I use to help him through the winter. I see him every morning when I take food outside. He then goes about his day. I see him every night when I bring the food dishes inside and reheat his heat disc. He sleeps in the insulated shelter.
I can tell Kenny misses Tom. They would both be there for breakfast in the morning. I would see Kenny and Tom playing together and grooming each other. It was almost as if “grandpa” Tom had taken kitten Kenny under his wing.
The second outdoor cat still left is one of my originals. Flower is very elusive. She was thrown out of the house next door. The people in that house have since moved and new people live there. Flower is the cat I saw last winter with a broken leg. She is the first one I tried to trap to be able to get her to medical care. I was not able to trap her. I have a feeling that Flower may be the last cat trapped. She is the most skittish of all the outside cats.
Even Tom was able to get on a feeding schedule after about four years. Flower truly comes and goes as she pleases. She is scared of other cats and all humans. I sometimes go days without seeing Flower.
My goal is to get Kenny and Flower into the shelter also. It’s hard because the shelters are so full. I’m really hoping I can get them both into the shelter for medical care and adoption within the next two years. We will see. It all depends on when the rescue has room to take more.
For now, the Tale of Tom has a happy ending. Tom is right where he needs to be. He is receiving medical care, food, water, heat and love from all of the dedicated volunteers who take care of the cats twice daily.
Good luck on this next part of your journey, Tom. I love you and I miss you.
For 20 years I would make the trip 3.5 hours north to the Adirondacks (ADK) for my annual Labor Day weekend camping trip. That camping trip was my vacation every year. It was the only 3-day in a row stretch I ever had off.
While in the ADK, I would rest, relax and reflect on the past year. I would do a journal entry to document everything that happened in the past year. I was in college working on my degrees and working 3 jobs trying to make ends meet. Life was moving at a fast pace. I was making progress. I used the time to celebrate my wins and focus on what I could do better.
For me, Labor Day weekend each year was my New Years. It was the time to reset. It was right before, or at the beginning of, the fall semester.
The last trip I made to the ADK was in 2019. Somehow, there was this feeling inside me like I knew it would be my last visit there.
Then the pandemic hit.
Instead of celebrating wins, change, and goals, I’m back to trying to survive. Yes, I did have some big wins this past year. My novella is published. I now have 25 medals. I only have to earn one more medal to achieve my goal of 26 medals.
The biggest win is the fact that I am still alive in the middle of a global pandemic and that the cats and I are still together.
I’m not sure if I will survive another 10-14 years that I need to outlive the cats. There is so much death right now. I am not privileged enough to think I will escape death. After all, I am on the government euthanasia list. The death clinic called me daily for 7 weeks straight in the fall of 2021 trying to schedule my euthanasia appointment.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to access healthcare in this pandemic. How do you live for another 10-14 years without access to healthcare?
My one goal in life is to outlive the cats so I can take care of them and keep them together. For the first time in my life, I have a goal that I am not sure I can achieve. As the covid situation becomes increasingly dire in this country, I just don’t see myself living for another decade.
I have decided that I will no longer do a Year in Review for New Year’s. There is no reason to document or reflect on things that went well or things I can improve. I have one goal. That goal is to survive. As long as I survive to live another year, that is the only thing I have to celebrate.
All my hopes and dreams mean nothing without the cats. I cannot achieve anything without my health. Since the health of the entire human race is in peril right now, my only goal is survival.
If I can outlive the cats, then I will dream. I will leave the country. But right now, as long as I can survive another year and take care of my cats, that is all I need for a New Year’s goal.
So here is to the New Year. I survived 2022. May I survive 2023 as well.
The last Christmas I spent living “at home” with family was as a teenager in the 90s. Out of all of the horrible Christmases of my childhood, the last Christmas was one of the most traumatic. It was the year of the Blue Christmas.
That holiday season, my mother’s married boyfriend had broken up with her. She dated this married man for about a decade. He would vacillate between telling her he was going to divorce his wife and breaking up with her. When they finally broke up for good after a decade of this, he divorced his wife within 6 months and married someone else (not my mother).
This particular Christmas was about year three or maybe year four of their relationship, and he had broken it off with her right before the holidays. My mother proclaimed that year was a Blue Christmas.
The Christmas tree was blue. While not-green Christmas trees may be popular now, they weren’t in the 90s. Somehow, my mother found a blue Christmas tree. The lights were all blue. The garland was blue. Every single ornament on the tree was blue. Every Christmas decoration my mother put out that year was blue, including the fake snow.
She took empty boxes, wrapped them in (guess what?) blue wrapping paper and put them under the tree. She said that the empty boxes were presents that year. Maybe they were a reflection of how she was feeling.
Elvis’ Blue Christmas played on repeat in the house for a straight month. There were no other Christmas songs played. The radio was not allowed to be on. The only music playing was Elvis’ Blue Christmas on repeat for an entire month. I’m not exaggerating. She actually did this.
To this day, every time I hear Blue Christmas, I feel nauseous. I have to turn it off. I cannot bear to hear that song ever again, no matter who is singing it.
I recently heard a Norah Jones Christmas song on the radio and was thinking I would like to buy her Christmas CD. When I looked up her Christmas CD, I saw that Blue Christmas was on the album. I will not purchase the album. I refuse to own a single CD containing the Blue Christmas song, no matter who is singing it.
To this day, I refuse to have anything blue at Christmas. I do not want blue lights. I do not want blue ornaments. I do not want any blue Christmas decorations.
There is one exception.
I have this bluebird of happiness on my Christmas tree. It was made by the (now retired) receptionist at our veterinarian office. It is the only blue thing I will have for Christmas. It is the bluebird of HAPPINESS. As Catherine O’Hara says in Home Alone, Christmas is the Season of Perpetual Hope. The bluebird of happiness is the only blue thing I allow at Christmas.
There will be no blue Christmases in my household as an adult. We choose happiness.
Merry Christmas. May it be happy and full of love.
It’s A Wonderful Run has been on my running list for over a decade now. I’ve been keeping an eye on it and either the weather does not cooperate or it is too close to my fall marathon. This year everything came together perfectly so I was finally able to complete this race on my Bucket List!
The town of Seneca Falls, NY was the setting for Bedford Falls in the Wonderful Life movie. The location is just over an hour from me. While I really wanted to be able to do the race in person and run over the famous bridge in the movie, I did the Covid-safe virtual option.
Using my Garmin, I submitted my official results for the race. I am quite proud in that I was the first female Masters finisher and the second overall Masters finisher! This is the second time since I achieved Masters running status in 2019 that I have come in first place in a race!
The bell on the medal really does ring. It is most certainly a cherished medal. I am so happy that for medal 25 I was able to finally participate in It’s A Wonderful Run.
If you would like to support my race, please consider a donation to my favorite charity for homeless humans, Back on my Feet, or donate to your local no-kill animal shelter.
Completing It’s A Wonderful Run is a huge accomplishment for me. As I look to retire from competitive racing, I am so glad I was able to meet my goal in finishing this race.
For 2023, I only have one more medal to earn to achieve my life goal of 26 medals. I want to be able to retire from competitive running on my own terms before distance running is taken from me either from Covid or some other unfortunate health means.
I am feeling pressure in choosing a race for medal 26. I feel like it has to be something meaningful. I am reviewing my running bucket list to see what is feasible for 2023. In the meantime, I am so happy that It’s A Wonderful Run was medal 25.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my running journey thus far all these years. As the movie says, “no man is a failure who has friends.”
In 2012, I completed my Canadian Hat Trick in Montreal. This year, 2022, I completed my American Hat Trick thanks to Philadelphia! A few weeks ago, I completed the Italian Stallion Challenge portion of the Rocky Run! In completing the Italian Stallion Challenge, I ran a 5k, a 10k, and a half marathon. This medal trinity is meaningful in a few ways.
First, I now have a hat trick in both Canada and the USA. Luckily, I completed my Canadian hat trick a decade ago when I was still able to travel without much difficulty. Completing a hat trick in both countries checks off an item on my running bucket list.
A second item was checked off my running bucket list with the Rocky Run achievement. I have now achieved 8 medals from Philadelphia. Why are 8 Philadelphia medals significant?
When I chose my running tattoo, I chose the Philadelphia Marathon logo. Philly was my first half marathon. Philly was my first full marathon. At the time I had my running tattoo done, I had 8 medals. So when the Philly logo was tattooed on my arm, I had the artist add stars so that there are 8 stars that matched my 8 medals. My thinking at the time was that I would keep adding stars on my arm – one star for each medal. I would add stars in batches every few years to match my medal count.
Adding more stars to my existing tattoo has not been an option, for multiple reasons. Suffice it to say, I have 8 stars, and it will remain at 8 stars. Thus, the 8 stars needed a new meaning.
Since my running tattoo is to commemorate Philly being my first, I decided that the 8 stars would represent each one of my Philly medals. In completing the Italian Stallion Challenge portion of the Rocky Run, I now have 8 medals from Philly to match the 8 stars of my tattoo.
This is a huge item checked off my running bucket list.
My ultimate goal is to achieve 26 medals. Once I have achieved 26 medals, I will retire from competitive running. I will still run, but I won’t be focused as much on medal achievement. My goal for retirement is to be able to keep running until I die. My focus will change from full and half marathons to medals to being able to run the marathon of my life – I want to run until I die.
I am now registered for a race in December 2022 in which I will earn medal 26. The race I have scheduled for December is another race that has been on my running bucket list for a very long time.
That means that as I head into the 2023 running season, I will look to earn my 26th and final medal. That’s a tall order. I started looking at races for 2023 for medal 26. I did not realize how difficult it would be to choose a “final” race to earn medal 26. While I will continue to run even after achieving 26 medals, it will be the end of an era. It makes my choice of race for medal 26 feel like it is so significant. It is actually quite daunting trying to choose a race for medal 26.
For now, I am proud and content in the 24 medals I have earned. By the Grace of God, I look forward to earning medal 25 in a few weeks.
Once 26 medals have been achieved, I will have new running goals. I may try to run a certain amount of miles in a year, or a certain number of days in a row. We will see. I will keep running, but I will have new goals that no longer include chasing after medals. For now, though, I am still on the path of medal achievement. Here’s to medals 22, 23, and 24.