cat (s)update.

Yeah, I wanted that to read like “catsup,” but it doesn’t, does it? Oh, well.

I went back to the Humane Society today to visit Fabrizio. Unfortunately, he was indisposed while getting his harbls removed, so I decided to visit with Reid instead, see what was what with Señor Spaz. After watching him flip his tiny kitten self up onto the carpeted cat tree by a single claw and generally freak out all over the place, I decided Reid just wasn’t for me. Brizio is more my speed, and I need to find him a mellower playmate, especially if the head-tilt situation indicates something chronic that will make him uneasy.

After talking with one of the HS staff, she guided me to Dallas, a 5-month-old black-and-white kitty with a friendly disposition. Being a little older, he was mellower by default, but his personality was just a huge flip from Reid, who didn’t seem all that keen on physical contact from humans. So I’m considering swapping one for other, as guilty as I feel about that. But I know it makes more sense. I probably will go back to the HS at lunch tomorrow, see if Fabrizio is recovered enough to hang with for a bit, maybe try to get them in a room together and see how they get along.

That’s it for now! Over and out.

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step one.

Register a domain. Check! I’m now the proud owner of lemonslush.com! It’s not much to look at at the moment, but I’ll be working on it soon. Bryan surfed over to GoDaddy this weekend, and I just happened to have him check on lemonslush.com, as it’s been parked with a placeholder page forever now. And there it was, for $10.87! Normally I’m not a compulsive domain buyer (like some people I know) but this domain is mine. It is the screenname I use pretty much everywhere (minus this blog, oddly enough) and it is my “brand.” Bryan also was kind enough to link up my domain with his WebFaction account, awesome guy that he is. :) So, step one complete. Now, to make something happen!

In other news, I am looking at adopting a kitten/cat. The lot of us went to the Humane Society this weekend to peruse the felines. I found two potential youngins named Reid and Fabrizio who were caged together but not siblings. Reid was born at the H.S. and would be the first of his litter adopted out were I to take him home. Fabrizio was found abandoned and brought in alone, based on his file. We all sat in a visiting room with them for a long while, watching Reid race around, cuddling with Fabrizio. They were quite the dichotomy – crazy vs. mellow, athlete vs. lap cat.

I have a couple points of hesitation, of course. (Would I be me if I didn’t?) First, I’m still wondering whether I’m responsible enough or “ready” enough to have a pet. Second, am I at a point where I can keep my stress levels down enough to have animals in my home? Will I be able to stop worrying about both their well being AND the intact nature of my furniture and breakables long enough to enjoy their company? Third, there is the issue of Fabrizio’s tilted head. We all noticed it pretty much right away, a tilt to the right and a bit of a balance problem. His medical file mentioned an inner ear infection, but there’s no telling if that’s something temporary or chronic. Also no telling if it is, in fact, not an infection but a tumor or something else life threatening. All I’d need is for my first pet to get sick or die on me immediately. :(

But I did love cuddling with Fabrizio as he purred loudly and climbed around. Erica posted a photo on Flickr, and though I look a bit mentally handicapped in it, I’ll link to it anyway. After we left the HS, we went to the local Greek place for lunch, and, while we sat looking at the menus, I heard a TV announcer say the name Fabrizio Santos. I glanced up to see he was a professional skateboarder, but since I’d never heard the name Fabrizio before the kitty, I was pretty convinced that meant something.

With so many people visiting the HS with me, it was hard to think clearly and consider my options. So I think I’ll be going back over there at lunchtime tomorrow to visit with Fabrizio again and see how we get along without Reid and the others. As much as I’d like to give ‘Briz a brother and playmate, I think Reid may be a bit out of my league. Though he did entertain himself without my even trying, but still—I want to love my kitties, and Reid and I just didn’t click.

If Fabrizio and I don’t connect, I will respectfully withdraw my application for both little boys and go back to the drawing board. I’m fine with waiting till I find the right cat(s). The last thing I want is another Tori incident, like in college. Had I known torties were so temperamental (recent feline research) and really thought through sharing a single bedroom with a cat, I would’ve waited on that one too. :P

I leave on Thursday afternoon for Birmingham and the Social South social media conference. It will be good to see that city again after some time away. I may even get to see Dennis while there. He has high-school football to cover elsewhere in the state, so he won’t be attending SoSo, but my early arrival should allow us to grab food or a drink, or for me to see the new digs he’s renovating right now. Exciting!

What else… Oh, Bryan, Nick, Erica, Alan & I played D&D yesterday! It was my first game, so I was totally unsure how everything worked. Still am, a little bit. But I caught on well enough to kill a few Kobolds and enjoy myself during the second half of the game. Nick was our DM and he was proud of the six-page back story I wrote about Elluvia, my elven ranger. Always smart to impress the DM! :D Bryan will be DMing the next round, and Nick will be taking over his human shaman, Albini, so they can alternate playing and storytelling. Should be fun to see B in action as DM, both in that game and in the other we’ll be starting with his coworker, his wife and their son in two weekends. Twice the D&D action!! I can hardly wait. :)

Also, my brain is broken. I really need to figure out how to fix it, but with about a million things on my to-do list right now, I don’t think it’s going to happen till after Ireland and a potential mom visit in October. Maybe once fall rolls around and some sort of cool settles over the land, I’ll be able to reevaluate my mental state and get things moving in the right direction. For now, I will read good books, enjoy cuddles whenever possible, share a cup of coffee with a new friend, work hard every day and accomplish as much as I can. Woot!

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a window to your life.

I know of someone who is hurting today. I don’t know her personally, but she’s a Twitter acquaintance. I’d never spoken with her before, but I sent her a private message asking if she was OK after seeing what appeared to be a rather dire tweet in her feed. She responded later in the day explaining what has to be the most heartbreaking situation.

On one hand, my heart broke for her as well, getting those few details of the situation that could fit into 140-character blurbs. On the other, I was astonished at her openness. I realize that being strangers almost makes it easier, because I’ll never show up at her door or tell anyone what I know or really have much to say besides, “I hope things get better.” But she could’ve chosen never to respond, or at least to lie and say, “Nope, I’m OK. Just a rough day.”

She didn’t. And that’s one of the things I love about Twitter. It connects people in real ways. Sure, not all my “friends” are really my friends. Heck, I could count up the friends I have and still have a few toes left over, while Twitter and Facebook both claim I’m going on about 350. But there’s something different about Twitter. While not all of these people are my real-life friends, I care about them in similar ways. I look forward to the information and thoughts they share. To those brief periods of interaction and camaraderie. Not to mention the constant flow of funny videos, nerd goodies and other stuff I wouldn’t find without them.

Social media really is an amazing thing at the base level. Jazz it up a little (but not too much) and you have something that is so multipurpose that many people rely on it on a day-to-day basis. It is community. It is fun, interactive, friendly and informative. It can be someone’s solace and support, even someone’s lifeline when a really tough day rears its head. Twitter has been that for me some days, when my heart’s been too heavy to pick up the phone and call a friend, when my thoughts won’t stay in one place long enough to write an e-mail or a blog entry. Getting those 140-character snippets has been a lifesaver (or at least a smile inducer) more than once.

I told this woman on Twitter that my thoughts are with her, that I’ll be here should she need anything. Even though we’ve never met. Even though I couldn’t tell you more than a handful of things about her. Even though we’ll probably never see each other’s faces outside a slanted avatar beside our tweets. I’m still there. We all are. I think the community Twitter and other social networking sites let us build is one that’s stronger than we realize. We may not drop everything to help a fellow user, but we’re sure to go out of our way to find a URL, share a contact or even put in a good word should the request come. And because we see random thoughts and ideas flying about all day, we can answer unasked questions and come through well before we’re expected to, just because social media gives us that window into each other’s daily lives.

That’s why I love Twitter. As silly as it sounds, even if another DDoS or other attack wipes out Twitter completely, I will look back on my time there fondly. But I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Even with as much growth and change as we’ve seen in the past year, there’s a million miles yet to go in the world of social media, and I hope I’ll get to be one of those people who laces up her shoes and runs alongside.

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I stopped believin’ after about 30 minutes.

Photo strip from JourneySooo… I mentioned having won tickets to see Journey in concert, right? At any rate, the show was last Saturday at Mud Island Amphitheater. And while I’d like to say it was a sweet show and I loved every minute of it, that would be a lie. What I did see was just fine, of course, but that was very little. We arrived just before 7 o’clock, when the doors opened. Now, that was foolish on its own because we could’ve been sipping milkshakes at Café Eclectic instead of overpriced bottled water in the midst of a growing crowd (and resultant rising temperature). But there we sat, past the 8 o’clock showtime,  and another full hour until 9, when things finally got going. By that time, it was hot and muggy. The crowd was HUGE because the show had sold out. And while the Memphis Flyer definitely hooked us up with awesome seats, I got to feeling claustrophobic and panicky not long after the opening number.

It wasn’t until the girl next to me lit a rather rank cigarette that I started getting lightheaded and ill. I sat down for a few minutes and tried to block out the screaming 8-year-olds behind us (How are children that young even AWARE of Journey? I have no idea.) the cigarette stench, the blaring music, the flashing/blinding lights, the heat and the crowd, but it didn’t work. Fortunately, Bryan is a saint (and also not a huge Journey fan) so we left after about a half-hour of the show. I’d never felt such relief as when I reached the top of those amphitheater steps and left the screaming crowd behind.

We walked back across the pedestrian walkway from the island to the mainland and stopped by the Mississippi River exhibit at the museum. We walked along a good bit of that and I climbed onto the display that contained the floodplain and Michigan so I could point out the approximate location of my hometown, though the mitten was stretched uncomfortably on the x-axis.

We rounded out the night with milkshakes from Steak ‘N Shake, which really was way better than bobbing my head to the sad remnants of a long-dead band. Not to say they weren’t doing their darnedest to bring back the sound, but it just didn’t happen, at least not in my book.

The rest of the weekend consisted of being lazy, playing Rock Band, creating my D&D character (Elluvia the Elf Ranger! :D) for upcoming games, buying and reading some of a travel book on Ireland and petting a tiny black kitty. Even when they’re pretty low key, I wish weekends would never end…

View from the walkway to Mud Island

View from the walkway to Mud Island

Journey on stage

Journey on stage

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RIP Pete

Pete and BryanIt’s sadly ironic that I showcased Bryan’s cat Pete in my blog so recently, and today he is gone. Not long after that post, Pete was diagnosed with kidney failure. It’s not uncommon for older cats, but Pete really wasn’t that old, which makes it all the more unfortunate. Bryan and I noticed he’d been more absent than usual one weekend, and then that he was looking skinny and acting sluggish, so Bryan took him to the doctor the following week. The vet reported that his kidneys had failed already, giving him a couple weeks to a couple months to live. So Bryan broke out the expensive wet food (easier for Pete to eat because of his existing dental issues) and tried to fatten him up and keep him happy.

Pete waits patiently for chiliBut, even with a few mornings pestering Bryan in bed for more food or water (his usual repertoire) his condition worsened more quickly than the doctor estimated. On Wednesday night, he climbed into the bathtub after Erica had taken a shower, never a good sign with sick animals. We put his water bowl in with him, and he drank for several minutes straight. Later that night, he was in the corner under Nick’s bed. It was obvious he was not gaining weight and it was time to put his quality of life first.

So, Bryan made the incredibly hard decision to let him go. He and his mom took Pete to the vet today. And that was that. Even now, it makes me tear up to think about it. I know I have a soft heart anyway, especially when it comes to animals, but I’d already grown to love that little orange fuzzball. Even with matted fur on his little legs, stinky breath and goobers on his face, I would’ve let him sit on my lap for hours if he would’ve tolerated me that long. But, although it hurts that he’s gone, and my heart goes out to Bryan, Pete and his Snack PackNancy and the rest of Pete’s extended family, it hurt more to see him in pain.

Erica came up with a story once that Pete was going to Space Camp. She told Bryan he could come, too, if he hid in Pete’s backpack and promised not to eat his Snack Packs. When I was at the market last night gathering supplies to cook dinner at Bryan’s, I saw a package of Jell-O pudding cups in the clearance section. I thought Pete wouldn’t mind the brand discrepancy, so I bought them. I brought him a cup last night, for his ultimate trip to Space Camp this afternoon.

We’ll miss you, buddy. We won’t be the same without you. We’re already changed because of you. And even though I barely got to know you, I love you dearly, Peters. Have a great time at Space Camp. :*)

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The day the movement ceased.

My post-whiffle body aches have progressed from nagging, lingering discomfort to total-body pain, stiffness and an inability to walk when I first rise to my feet. This is because yesterday was Monday, which meant a fresh desire to make good on my fitness goal and start the week on the right foot. Always thinkin’, eh? Now I can’t move.

Also, I think the pretzels I ate with my sandwich at lunch have given me heartburn. This is totally unacceptable, since pretzels are the least exciting of all possible snack foods and sandwich accompaniments. To get heartburn from them is like a slap in the face after choosing something at least relatively healthy. Stupid sodium. *grumble*

I will be learning to play racquetball soon, which excites me. First, I have to wait for Amazon and NRC Sports to ship my beginner’s kit, which includes a relatively cheap Ektelon racquet, a few balls, a racquet case, protective glasses and an instructional booklet. (I’m hoping Bryan will teach me everything I need to know so I don’t have to rely on said booklet.) There’s a free court at my apartment complex, so I’m pumped to get in there and start hitting things. And that very attitude is why I am apologizing to Bryan in advance for what he’ll have to deal with in teaching me to play. :D Should be fun.

Today I added an “Opening Day” subfolder to my “2009” folder in Outlook. For those who remember last fall, the start of Opening Day basically means the end of my life as I know it. I’m sure it will be a little different this year, because we’re changing up a few things and we’ve done it all once before, but the main difference is bound to come in the fact that I’m already busy ALL THE TIME as it is. I’m not just learning the ropes this time. I have my own tasks, duties and daily crap. Which means it’ll be darn near impossible to drop all that and focus only on OD this year. Ugh.

Small plug for Pandora Radio: I recently became a Pandora One subscriber, which means I pay $32 (or similar) per year for unlimited access, a desktop player, no “Are you still listening?” pauses, etc. It also means Pandora has a little more money for licenses to good songs. I highly recommend free Pandora for anyone who has a desk job anyway, but if you’re willing to shell out the 30 bucks, consider subscribing.

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I whiffled. Now I can’t move.

Yesterday afternoon marked the first real physical activity I’ve had in a while. Not the routinized jaunt on the elliptical trainer, mind you, but straining of muscles, unfamiliar motions. I’m so incredibly stiff and sore today, I can barely move, especially after sitting at my desk in a single position for just a bit too long, which has happened more than once already today. And how did I hurt myself to this degree, you ask? Playing whiffle ball.

I went with Bryan to a cookout at his parents’ house yesterday afternoon. I’d met his dad the previous weekend (and played a few rounds of billiards with them both) but this event resulted in meeting the mom, the brother, the brother’s girlfriend, the “uncle” and his wife. It also meant that the men in the family broke out the whiffle bat and balls for a rousing game of hit-the-roof-or-you-lose in the backyard.

I wandered outside to watch them from afar for a few minutes. It was humid out after one of many short rainstorms that had punctuated the day after a full-blown thunderstorm in the early-morning hours. With the heat, the thickness of the air, the skirt I was wearing and the predominate testosterone of the players, I thought about staying in the shade, out of the game. But as soon as my bare feet sunk into the warm wet of the backyard grass, my girlish tendencies sort of switched off. I was transported back to those days in my own backyard, when my brother-in-law taught me how to hold the bat, swing harder but smarter, watch the ball until it hit the bat. I couldn’t stop myself from elbowing my way into the game. And while it may not have appeared that way to the others involved, that is precisely what I did. Because, as I said to Bryan, I’d much rather play than watch. As the other ladies looked on from the shade of the patio umbrella, I wandered around in the muck fetching balls.

Now, you see, I am not one of those annoying girls who loves to talk about sports and leaves the TV on ESPN so the next man who turns it on marvels at what must be her sexy habit of watching sports all day. Hah. No, my best friends can tell you that I am not like that at all. But I DID play softball. And I DID like it, when my parents weren’t forcing it on me and I wasn’t pissing my pants with anxiety while on deck on a hot July afternoon, sweating through my light-gray #44 T-shirt. And I DO like other active things, like kayaking, gym exercise, taking walks, hiking, occasionally climbing a rock or two. It was that piece of my personality that came alive when I watched them swing the little yellow whiffle bat. So I elbowed. And they relented, patiently.

I didn’t hit the roof, but Bryan did give me the opportunity to come close on two occasions. It was enough to make me want to try again someday, if I’m still in the picture come their next backyard pick-up game. And maybe then I won’t swing at terrible pitches. And maybe I’ll have learned to trash talk well enough to fit in.

The remainder of the evening included some delicious hamburgers and hotdogs, photos from Bryan’s mom’s trip to Yellowstone (beautiful!), some billiards playing and a couple corner brownies with ice cream and raspberry sauce. Even being the oddest man out, I reveled in the familial vibe in that house, in the constant, comfortable conversation that reverberated through every room. It made me miss Michigan even more strongly than I had already.

We vacated when Bryan’s weekend head cold refused to back down and he was overdue for another dose of meds. We returned to his house, I went out to get him some groceries for his recovery at home today and then it was another early bedtime, which made me happy. I had whiffled myself into a state of exhaustion. Now to keep that up as the summer progresses. I had forgotten how awesome it hurts when you do something active. It’s one of my favorite feelings in the world.

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