Monday, May 27

I've created a monster.

And that monster is named Rocky. He will not let us sleep at night. I'm starting to feeling like I am living with perpetual fog in my head. Not grouchy, but somewhat out of it. Sometimes slap happy. Sometimes just plain exhausted.

The cats waking us up in the middle of the night is nothing new, but over the winter, they were really good and sletp through most nights. In the past, as warmer weather arrived, they would start getting up at 3:00 or 4:00, wanting to go out. Meowing and meowing persistently no matter how long we ignored them. And years ago, Rocky would get up at all hours wanting to eat more.

I don't know how we finally got them to settle down. I think, in part, it was them getting older, they are just more mellow. And during the summer, if they are bad, we end up shutting them out of the room which usually works until dawn when Simon starts rattling the doorknob or body slamming the door.

Ignore, ignore, ignore. Will is good at it. Me? Not so much because it starts to make me crazy after awhile and I have to make it stop.

And let me just say, I am a light sleeper. It is not hard to wake me up. I can have earplugs in, the fans going and the door closed and still hear some of the racket.

So yeah, in a way this is nothing new, but it is a little different. And really, it's my fault. When Rocky was first diagnosed with a tumor, he had days where he really wasn't eating much at all. So if I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or get water, and he ran to his dish, I would give him food. And he would eat. And I was just happy to get some food in him.

But not he knows that he can get me up in the middle of the night to give him food. Sucker!

And now he eats frequently throughout the day so I doubt he really needs food in the middle of the night.

But he has a tumor, what am I supposed to do? It's hard to get mad at him. I have no idea how much longer he'll be around to wake me up in the middle of the night.

Waking up at 1:00 or 2:00 and then going back to sleep until 5:00 or 6:00 isn't so bad.

Waking up at 1:00 or 2:00 and being kept awake for who knows how long and then waking up again at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 is not so fun. It is not restful, fulfilling sleep.

And we don't even really know what he wants. I guess he just wants us to be awake. He nuzzles our faces, licks us, sits on the bed and quietly mews. He wants love. He wants to be pet. He wants to snuggle.

Lately, I've been trying to ignore him. We both used to just pet him, because, well, it's kind of sweet. But now, it's more like, "come on, dude, I want to SLEEP."

So I ignore him. I pretend I am asleep. But HE DOES NOT STOP. Some nights I get to sleep from 1:00 to 4:00. Last night, I think I was awake most of the night. He would curl up under my arm and I would think, "at last, he has settled down." But no, he would stand up, turn around, walk around the bed. So, so restless.

He's pretty restless during the day as well. Of course, there is the possibility that his tumor is bothering him, but we just don't know. It doesn't seem like he is in pain. He's not showing the typical signs of being in pain: not eating and wanting to isolate. He eats and all he wants to do is be with us.

Maybe it's because he used to go outside a lot more than he does now. That's been a big life change for him. We would play with him, but he doesn't really like to play. Chasing toys just doesn't interest him that much.

And yes, I know that cats are nocturnal, but house cats can ultimately learn that their humans sleep at night and so they should too.

I read this earlier:

If you get up and feed your cat, play with him or even interact with him, you will have inadvertently rewarded him for waking you. As a result, he’ll try harder and harder to wake you each subsequent night. Even getting out of bed to scold your cat won’t work well, because negative attention from you may be better than no attention at all.

Every single time that I have gotten up and given Rocky food or pet him or acknowledged his existence in some way, I have basically been telling him that he can just wake me up whenever he wants.

So now what? I still can't even get mad at him. It just is what it is. But we need to sleep. We desperately need to sleep. I have not slept for longer than two hours at a time in weeks.

Because he has the tumor, I feel sort of guilty shutting him out of the room, but I think that's what has to happen. That's the only thing that I can think to do.

And I kind of feel like an idiot, because, yeah, I created this mess. I created the nighttime monster that is Rocky. But when all of this started, we really thought death was imminent so how were we supposed to ignore his need to snuggle in the middle of the night? It was sweet and comforting.

Now, since he is stable, we really have no idea how long he'll be around. The vet doesn't think he'll be around longer than 6 months, but they don't really know. It could be much longer. Which is awesome. Or he could be in this stable phase, feeling good, and his tumor could rupture and then he would likely die. Which is not awesome. But no matter, we need to start getting some sleep.

Well, this was a much longer ramble than I had in mind. Just blame it on the lack of sleep.

Sunday, May 26

List no. 14 :: The week.

  1. Enjoyed spending almost a week alone while Will was at the beach with his folks.
  2. It was nice to discover that I no longer get scared at night when he is away.
  3. My sleep schedule is totally screwed right now and it's not much fun, but I'm not sure what I can do about it.
  4. Cleaned the house from top to bottom, more or less. Not fun, but it's kind of nice to have a really clean house for the moment.
  5. It won't last. The cats bring in so much dirt + the wind + our house is just old and crumbly.
  6. The weather suddenly turned very hot. It feels like summer.
  7. It's already too hot to be running at 8:30 or 9:00, but I can't seem to get out any earlier.
  8. Had my last Impossible Class and it was so much fun.
  9. Both boys happened to be absent and the girls are so much more focused. It made things easier.
  10. Not that I have anything against boys. It just worked out that way.
  11. Had dinner with an old friend and her best girlfriend before picking Will up at the airport.
  12. It was so nice to hang out with some ladies. With other human beings. 
  13. I enjoyed it so much; it really makes me wish that I had a lot more of that going on in my life.
  14. No idea if I will ever have a good girlfriend in Santa Fe. It's been six years already.
  15. I watched Lip Service every night while Will was gone even though most of the characters annoy me. I didn't love it, but it was entertaining.
  16. I also ate lasagna and salad just about every night, because I was too lazy to actually cook anything for myself.
  17. Finally found two new dresses for the summer. This one and this one.
  18. I really wanted a long dress but nothing at the usual chain stores suited me.
  19. And I still need to find a new skirt.
  20. Having lunch with my parents and my brother and his family today.
  21. Will's parents arrived on Tuesday and will be here through the weekend.
  22. Rocky is stable and as restless as ever. He's got summer fever for sure.
  23. I didn't do last week's list and I need to catch up.
  24. Oh and I really DO NOT like the new Flickr, but I am bearing with it because I don't really know what else to do.

Friday, May 17

The Impossible Class - Emulsion Lifts

My students really enjoyed learning how to do emulsion lifts. Check out some of the results over on the Tumblr.

Wednesday, May 15

As time goes by.

The days pass quietly for the most part. Today is not much different than last week. Or the weekend. Or yesterday.

But everything seems hard right now. My heart feels heavy most days even as I try to convince myself that there is joy to be found in each day. In each moment.

I smile when Rocky is in a deep nap and looks so peaceful. Or when he is asleep at the foot of the bed and I reach down to pet him. He still stretches out so I can gently rub his belly. And then my heart breaks a little bit because I don't know how much longer we have together.

Some might envy all the free time that I have. Most of the time I am grateful that I have so much freedom, but there are days that the empty hours seem to stretch on endlessly. And I have to wonder why I made certain choices that have led me to this particular time and space.

Too melodramatic? Perhaps.

The lack of sleep certainly does not help, but I don't like to harp on about it too much. In the past, I struggled greatly with insomnia and I finally learned that the more I complained about it, the more power I gave it. And actually, I don't necessarily have insomnia right now. I have a cat that wakes me up a lot. (Last night he kept putting his face right up to mine and tickling me with his whiskers.)

And so I think therapy to myself:

Feelings are feelings. Thoughts are thoughts. Neither are necessarily reality.

Best to acknowledge the feelings though. Acknowledge and accept but don't dig in too deep.

Be kind to myself. Be compassionate with others.

Love. Laugh. Smile.

This too shall pass.

Be present in each moment.

Phrases that often make me cringe because they are so cliche, but truth be told, they do help most of the time.

Take pictures.

Get out of the damn house.

Those things usually help too.

And sometimes writing things out helps as well. I think I already feel better.

Monday, May 13

Impossible Class update.

Another update over on the Tumblr: on learning experience and the pets of the Impossible Class.

Sunday, May 12

List no. 13 :: A few of my favorite things.

  1. Impossible film
  2. Sandwiches
  3. Kitty cats (especially mine)
  4. Running
  5. Oceans and palm trees
  6. Perfectly ripe strawberries
  7. Red velvet cake
  8. Bacon
  9. Vintage cameras
  10. Fields of flowers
  11. Crime shows on television
  12. Cool nights and warm days
  13. Road trips

Saturday, May 11

Words To Shoot By :: Cinco

[iPhone 4 + Hipstamatic App]

Check out all the submissions for "cinco" here.

Sunday, May 5

List no. 12 :: I forgot.

  1. Yep, I forgot about writing this week's list.
  2. Last night we had some beers at our local pub.
  3. So breakfast burritos were a necessity this morning.
  4. Will saw Hilary Swank at the restaurant when he picked them up.
  5. He couldn't remember her name and neither could I even though I knew who he was talking about, "you know, the woman from that boxing movie." 
  6. I know she is an Oscar-winning actor, but I always remember her as Steve's girlfriend on Beverly Hills 90210.
  7. Vacuumed, mopped, and did laundry.
  8. Then we went to see Iron Man  3.
  9. I am a sucker for action/superhero movies and I love Robert Downey Jr.
  10. Now we are home and having margaritas. It is Cinco de Mayo after all.

Friday, May 3

Impossible Class - Railyard Polawalk

Finally got some photos that the kids took posted over on the Tumblr. I am so impressed by their work!

Thursday, May 2

Six weeks later.

[Emulsion Lift - PX680 Color Protection film]
 It was six weeks ago yesterday that we found out that Rocky has a tumor. It's hard to believe that so much time has gone by so quickly.

And that nothing has really changed. Which is a good thing, of course, but it also leaves us feeling confused much of the time. Because it's easy to get lulled into thinking that they must have made a mistake, that he's not really sick.

But unfortunately, no matter how normal he seems, we can still tell that he is a little bit off. Whether it's because he throws up sometimes or because he looks so uncomfortable at times. And he still takes Pepcid AC twice a day which he probably wouldn't have to do if he didn't have the tumor.

He still likes to go outside. He has an appetite although he doesn't eat as much as he used to. He continues to hang out with us and seems to enjoy being around us. He hangs out in the kitchen every time we make a meal, waiting for treats. He doesn't seem particularly lethargic.

[Polaroid Spectra + PZ680 Color Protection film]
And we are so grateful that he seems to be doing so well in spite of his diagnosis. He has been a little grumpier than usual, but that could be due to his outdoor restrictions. And he's lost weight. I've been weighing him every week and he had been holding steady at 11.2 pounds, but this week he weighed in at 10.4 pounds. That's a lot to lose in a week. So then I worry that I'm not feeding him enough.

(We can't leave his food down all of the time so he can snack at will because Simon eats it instead and now Simon has gained weight. Constant cat monitoring, that's what we do.)

It's been tough too though. Some days he looks absolutely miserable and we don't really know if it's because he's experiencing pain or because he's depressed about not being able to go on his regular outside adventures. Maybe it's a little of both. We just don't know.

He definitely gets depressed about his outdoor restrictions and it makes us feel so bad. He is allowed in the backyard since we can close the gate and he can't get out. And we've been allowing him out front but only when one of us can keep an eye on him. The minute he starts heading down the driveway, we have to lure him back inside by giving him a treat. We can just see in his eyes how badly he wants to take a walk around his usual neighborhood spots. Spots that we know and that aren't very far from us. And he most certainly does not like us following him around in the front yard. But we don't know what else to do. Sometimes I am tempted to let him go do his thing, but I know if something happened - if he got in a cat fight and the tumor ruptured or if he collapsed away from home - I would feel so awful. So guilty. So as much as he hates his restrictions, I think it is the responsible thing to do. At least he isn't completely housebound.

The outdoor monitoring can be taxing on us as well. Sometimes I have things to do, but I'll end up outside so he can get his front yard wanderings in. It can be stressful, but then again, some days it's a nice excuse to sit on the porch and read a book.

The early awakenings are wearing us out as well. He's been getting up at 5:00am. Not totally unusual, but now I have to get up and feed him whereas before I just ignored him or let him outside. But since he doesn't eat as much as he used to, I basically feed him whenever he wants food. He just eats a little bit at a time instead of gorging himself. (Which is much healthier, I am sure, but new for him.) And we have to give him his pills on schedule twice day. So one of us has to be up before 7:00am for his morning pill and we have to be around in the evening for his second pill. Not a huge deal, but it does make it difficult to go out for dinner (we tend to eat early so normall would be out at 6:00 or so) or to make evening social plans. Or vacation plans. We're going to miss my niece's college graduation because we don't really have a catsitter and even if we did, I don't think I really trust anyone to cater to his every need like I do.

I know I sound like I am complaining, but I'm not. I don't mind doing any of it, I am just saying that it is tough sometimes. (And frustrating. And tiring.) But we love him and we'll do whatever we need to do to keep him eating and not vomiting and enjoying his life.

We're doing the best that we can.