all the other beasts

inhabit the beauty that lives in your beastly body and strive to see the beauty in all the other beasts.
cheryl strayed

the love of my life

i met Tiger when i was eight years old.

i had been asking for a pet for my birthday and my parents decided to let me get a kitten. i was so excited. they picked me up from school one day and we went straight to the shelter to pick out my kitten - which is literally the most awesome thing that can happen to a kid. done with school, now you get a kitten!

we went to the shelter. tiger was one of three kittens of her litter. i vaguely remember them all being a little terrified. i think kitty was sitting on top of the other two in a little pile of fur and wide eyes. my mom told me awhile ago that i picked her because all her paws were different.

(for the record her paws are indeed all different and all great - the two front paws had one gray/black with a little white sock, one orange white  a little white sock. the two back paws were 'knee socks' - that's how i always thought of them anyway. again, an orange and gray/black striped.

she was the most beautiful cat. tabby - gray and black stripes with orange speckled all throughout her coat, orange cheeks, white-tipped paws and white neck. gorgeous green eyes. to this day i have never seen a cat like her.

i named her tiger because of her stripes, but we pretty much just always called her 'kitty.' it would forever enrage me when people would think her name was tigger. no. it was tiger, damn it.

one of the first nights we had her, we had a little bed for her next to my bed. we put her on it for the night as i was going to bed, but she refused to stay in it. she kept jumping up onto my bed to sleep with me. i'd patiently put her back, having really no idea what was best or what the rules were for new kittenhood. finally i asked my mom and she agreed that kitty could stay with me on the bed.

and from that moment on, that's where she would sleep: with me on the bed, curled up in the crook of my knees as i lay on my side.

she was always a skittish little thing - except for with me.

we were inseparable. she was totally and completely attached to me and pretty much only me. she would often meow when i was in the living room and my mom would say she was asking 'can we go back to our room now?'

pet sitters that came to take care of our animals would never see her. they would only know we had a cat because the food would be eaten the next day.

here she is not loving being slightly squished and swaddled.

here she is not loving being slightly squished and swaddled.

we got a wonderful dog, rosie, a little later on and decided to introduce the two of them. the first time kitty met her, she swiped at her and gave her a permanent scratch on the nose. it was love.

little rosie begging for treats!

little rosie begging for treats!

when we moved from west virginia to florida, kitty rode in a large crate with her bed and litter and food and everything she needed. we made the mistake of putting the litterbox closest to the back of the seat where i was sitting, so she sat in it the whole time to be close to me - and she meowed every few seconds the entire several-day trip. i am not exaggerating.

rosie was in the front seat, occasionally throwing up. she did not love car rides so much either.

my room in elementary school before the move, kitty sitting on my dresser. behind her you can see my library card in the mirror....

my room in elementary school before the move, kitty sitting on my dresser. behind her you can see my library card in the mirror....

when we got to florida kitty hid in the murphy's bed for three days. i was utterly terrified something horrible had happened and she was never going to come out again. but she did. and we had our room once more.

since that move was so traumatic for her, i decided to have her stay at my parents' house when i moved out to LA after college. during college there was no way to have her - none of my crappy apartments allowed pets and i was gone almost all day and night most of the time with the craziness of film school. i wanted to take her with me to LA - but it would've been double the amount of time in the car as the trip to florida, and she was thirteen years old then - i decided it was best to let her stay where she was most comfortable.

she did what she had to do when her person left - she got comfortable with my parents, she started to warm up to their company a lot more, and by the time i was coming home over the years, she was a regular social cat to my family. she would curl up with my dad and mom, in their laps or beside them on the couch. but every time i came home, she always remembered me, and she loved me just as much then as she ever had, even if it was only for a week or two.

IMG_6374.jpg

a few years ago we got another dog, bear. he is much, much larger than both rosie and kitty - but after they worked things out as far as who the boss is in the house, they even got along.

the last time i saw her was this past christmas. i'll never forget the look on her face when i walked in the door. i had taken a redeye, so it was early in the morning and i came into my parents' bedroom where she was sleeping on the bed. it was kind of loud - commotion of coming in the house, the dogs barking, etc. and kitty woke up. she did an actual double take when she saw me. it was the most incredible thing. she stood up and came right toward me and from there actually crawled on my lap and fell asleep - a rare occurrence.

she was very, very thin. she had always been a mere nine pounds for most of her life - on the small side. now i could pick her up with one hand and it was barely anything (she did not like being picked up, by the way.)

i was home for two full weeks and we got to spend so much wonderful time together. her favorite thing at christmas time has always, always been sleeping under the christmas tree:

sometimes she would let me wake her up and she would follow me to my parents' bed, where we would sit or lay and take a nap or i would read and she would curl right up against me. sometimes if she was looking for me, she would stand in the middle of the living room and meow (she had the cutest, tiniest voice) until i showed up and we could retreat for more naps and reading and hanging out. she was incredibly affectionate with me - even more then she had been in years past.

she died a little less than a month later, on january 24th, around 4 or so eastern time. she was incredibly, perfectly healthy for almost her entire life, having kidney problems come up in the last three or four years or so. they came up again, very suddenly and intensely, and that's what took her away.

she was EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD. just an absolute wonderful, incredible gift to have her in my life for THAT long. i can't believe i how lucky i am.

words can't express my gratitude for having this girl in my life. for her choosing me and choosing to spend her life at my side. 

it's because of her that i have so many great things in my life. she is responsible for so much of them.

without her, i never would've adopted these two dummies:

i never would've decided to volunteer at the burbank animal shelter. i never would've gotten to work with tons and tons of cats who come into the shelter utterly terrified until we show them that we will do everything in our power to ensure they never have to be scared again. i never would've gotten to help any of these babies:

she loved me absolutely unconditionally. even when i didn't deserve it. even when i didn't clean the litterbox for days because i was an irresponsible teenager. even when she would mess with pens and knock over things on my desk in the middle of the night and i'd lock her out of the room - then, she would throw her entire nine pounds into the door in order to be let back in. even when i went away to school. even when i wasn't there, she loved me.

no matter what, she was devoted to me. and i don't know anything more amazing than having someone love you that much and loving them back just as much. she filled up my heart.

she is everything, everything, everything.

i love and miss her so very much.

RIP Tiger, October 16th 1996 - January 24th 2015

RIP Tiger, October 16th 1996 - January 24th 2015

a very blustery day

it's been a strange first few weeks of this blustery, still-new year.

today was filled with fog, seemingly for no reason. yesterday was warm. tomorrow is supposed to be warm. but today took a dip, disappearing into its dreams a little bit. i face the mountains on my drive to work and this morning, there was a layer of soft white all over the world, obscuring them, comforting me somehow.

i am not a creature of the sun.

and yet. i went to the beach on sunday.

the pacific ocean is ridiculously, hilariously cold. the most i could do was go ankle-deep in some tide pools where there were a few bizarrely warm patches of water. and try not to step on any hermit crabs.

after going to the beach this past christmas while i was home in florida, i decided i am going to go to the beach more. i was never much of a beach person even while living fifteen minutes away from several of them in florida for all of middle and high school. but i don't know. in the right time, the right mood. it's nice.

i suppose most of the world knew that already.

now that the craziness of the last couple weeks is over, i am hoping to get back into full on novel-ing for a good long while.

i jumpstarted the year a bit, which was exciting. the past few years i've always wanted to do the wonderful critique partner love connection that maggie stiefvater does every year, meant to pair up authors to critique each other's work. i've never had enough work ready at the time, so i've missed the past couple years - but this year i decided to jump on it.

i got some wonderful responses and met some awesomely talented people! which is so exciting! around the same time, i also stayed in touch with some great people i met during my novel writing class from october, and did a little writer's group session with some of them. it's amazing to have feedback from people - before the last few months, i hadn't really shared any of my work with anyone, just sort of trucking away on novels or stories and then deciding they weren't working and starting over and going down the endless rabbit hole of doubt.

i saw amber at her signing at dark delicacies in burbank for her brand new book the witches of echo park. she asked how my writing was going. i told her about my rabbit hole of doubt.

she said "FINISH THE FRICKIN THING."

which is good advice.

so i shall work on finishing the thing.

new year

i've decided not to write a new year's post looking back at this year.

frankly, this year was all kinds of terrible in a lot of ways. in other ways, it was all kinds of wonderful. but as i've started this post no less than five times now, each time unsure how to do so, i realized i don't want to look back at 2014. 

i could tell you about some of the books i read this year and loved (steelheart, charm and strange, nickel plated, imaginary girls, egg & spoon, gone girl, the miseducation of cameron post, eleanor & park, the arrival.) i could mention some movies i saw and loved (edge of tomorrow, whiplash, the boxtrolls, boyhood), though i didn't see nearly as many as i meant to. i could tell you about some great trips i took (yellowstone and montana/wyoming) or some fun things i did (got an annual pass to disneyland.)

but mostly i am hoping that 2015 will be remarkably better, and not just by chance - that i will make it so.

i hope to do a lot of writing. mostly the writing i had hoped to do this year and did not, in fact, do. i did a lot of writing this year toward the end, but for the most part, life and emotions and lots of other things got in the way.

i hope to do some good traveling, to montana and yellowstone again, to pennsylvania to see my family, to comic-con for the first time.

i hope to become a happier, nicer, more fulfilled person. i don't just hope that - i need that.

and i hope 2015 brings all of those things - creativity, traveling, happiness - to you, too, whoever and wherever you are.

happy december

december is my favorite month. it has a lot of lovely things: my birthday, christmas, winter (though not particularly in california, but i like to know that snow is happening elsewhere), the song "once upon a december" from anastasia which as a kid i basically believed was written for me, a certain darkness, but a soft one, and lots more.

i wrapped up november with some lovely things as well.

one of the biggest things: effing finishing nanowrimo. 

i talked a lot about it in the last post, so i won't say much except that i am SO FREAKING GLAD it's over. i am also SO FREAKING GLAD that i did it. so it's a win-win. 

i'll write in another post about what i learned from it and what i need to do now to re-shape and continue working on the novel, but for now. let's just breathe a big sigh of relief.

did you win nano? if so, CONGRATS! if not, DON'T WORRY! any writing you did is more than you had before. and that is a Good Thing.

i finished nano on thanksgiving because i was leaving town the next day for a weekend at a cabin in lake arrowhead and wanted to be guilt-free and not have to write while i was there or afterward, trying to squeeze in something sunday night.

i miss this cabin.

and lake arrowhead.

and the people there.

very much.

it was the perfect amount of cold and the perfect amount of woodsy and the perfect atmosphere. on the third day it rained and an eerie mist settled over all the mountains. clouds were flying by past the deck and tiny leaves were blowing away. inside the cabin, we had whiskey and cider and a fireplace and a guitar and blankets and lots of soft and warm things.

a few instagram photos below:

i dropped off a roll of film today to get developed, so will post those soon.

i also started a second roll and tried out some double exposures and longish exposures. now i have to find thirty-something more photos to take quickly so i can get them developed too!

december promises to be likely even more busy than november, which is quite a feat. but i am excited about most of them. like my birthday in two days. eeeee.

i also found out that i get to go back to montana and yellowstone next year, which is absolutely wonderful. i can't wait. and we get to stay in a huge incredible cabin and will be very close to the park entrance. i expect to take many many many many many more photos. and hopefully do some good research on the novel.

speaking of. 

my nano novel is something i've been working on for most of the year but only in the last couple months had started writing. don't worry, i didn't count anything before november toward my word count. i had been doing a lot of research and prep work and had written the first chapter before november started but really needed that push to dive in.

the idea is inspired by my trip to yellowstone, montana and wyoming this past summer and the amazing things i saw there.

it's about a girl who lives on a ranch and meets a lonely buffalo. a wild kingdom that needs saving. and the bonds between people, animals and the earth.

and it has magic and stuff.

next time i will post an excerpt i think.

for now, good day.

 

three weeks

looks kinda like my main character charlie.

looks kinda like my main character charlie.

here we are. the home stretch, sort of.

three weeks into nanowrimo. it has been even tougher to make time than i imagined it would be. part of that stems from deciding to do it only a week or so before november, which means i had already committed to many, many things - and part of that is simply time and the general lack thereof.  

have i written every minute i possibly could've this month? no. there were nights i watched three episodes of the comeback instead of one, and by the time i started writing i was too exhausted to do much at all. there were nights i was too damn depressed to do anything except mindlessly click around the interwebs. there were times i needed to write double the amount of words because i'd slacked off the night before and instead, i barely made a dent.

but i kept going.

and to tell you the truth - almost every night, i've thought to myself, i'm not going to do it tonight. i can't do it tonight. i just need a break. i'm not feeling creative. i don't know what scene comes next. i need to figure out this part of the outline first. i don't know this character well enough.

and you know what? that stuff is all valid.

but - still - i wrote.

and every time, i'd end up surprising myself.

that's been the strangest part. where, even if i think going into it that it's going to be terrible, that it's a waste of time, that i'm not going to get anything useful done...i surprise myself, somehow. and i guess i'd expect that to happen maybe once. get lucky once.

but it keeps happening. every time.

so even though i wish i was further ahead - even though i wish i had more time - even though the temptation to go back and rewrite is EATING AWAY AT ME - i'm pushing forward.

and i guess i've never really done that before.

i did nano a few years ago as i mentioned - but i knew that project was never going to be anything in its state at the time. i'm so proud of doing all that work on it and i still like the idea, and one day i hope to revisit it and make it much better, but at the time, it was more of a, let's just see if i can do this.

i've never really pushed that hard on a project i genuinely loved and wanted to see succeed.

of course i want to one day get this published. i want people to read it at its best. i want it to be a success.

but i'm becoming more and more comfortable with the idea that if that doesn't happen, i can do this again with another project i love. and another one. and another one. until it works.

this feels sort of like a fourth week post. but heck, i'm doing my best.

happy writing.

as a bonus, here is my favorite track on the new one direction album:


fifty-thousand words and eggs and spoons

re-did the website layout again. i am obsessed with tweaking it. should have yellowstone pics up soon.

i changed the template because i wanted a place to put my thoughts (aka a blog) if i should ever have any.

so here are some thoughts.

we are about halfway through nanowrimo. just like in 2010, i decided to participate roughly a week or so before it began. i have a novel i've been working on for a good long while now, but had very little of it actually written. in september/october i took a novel-writing class with the amazing amber benson (buffy, the calliope reaper-jones series). it was an awesome jumpstart and amazing and strange to have feedback and classmates and a deadline again. getting notes, talking things out with people, meeting other writers - great experience.

but after the class i was flailing a bit on writing again. i just couldn't make myself do it.

so in a moment of obvious brilliance, i decided nano would be the perfect ass-kicker.

and it has been.

it has also been difficult and annoying and stressful. but writing would be that anyway. so why not participate in something cool while you're at it?

:D

i am on track to finish the 50k, mostly. i fall behind for a day, catch up for a day, rinse, lather, repeat.

i have reached the stage where my outline sort of looks at me and laughs, so i'm shooting in the dark a bit. i've started wanting to rewrite - i won't, but - i want to - so much - but the good thing is i am beginning to make plans for what needs to be fixed as soon as the month is over. changing things. patching holes. fixing leaks. and the like.

i do hope to finish this thing.

other novel ideas come and poke at me and dance gleefully with their shiny new characters and brave new worlds and fun magic stuff.

but i fend them off.

what else?

i was excited to find out gregory maguire had a new book out. well, probably not new. i just didn't know about it. i was obsessedobsessedobsessed with wicked during high school, tried to read the sequels, and unfortunately they didn't hold up to the original amazingness.

i read the cinderella retelling too.

but this new one is an awesome YA fantasy with russian girls and baba yaga and it's called egg and spoon which is an awesome title with awesome cover art and i am so excited. 

 

 

oh yeah, one more thing - i wrote a new poem called pumpkin soup. you can read it here. i meant to post it for halloween and then just never did. but it works for thanksgiving, too.

i think that's all for now. we'll see how this goes in the future.