I Showed UP!

2019 is about showing up for life, not just talking about showing up for life. Today I did!

Literally, showed up.

It was the first hoop practice for Jazzy’s Celebration of Life. Perhaps I understated a few days ago how scary it is for me to show up alongside these talented, intimidating women. I felt like Jazzy was up there cheering for me! If anyone believed that everyone was welcome, it was Jazzy. It means the world to me to be a part of this performance.

There’s so much informing my anxiety.

My skills are shit. These girls are all close friends, in and out of the hoop, and they’ve performed together innumerable times. They don’t have to learn their combos. They just get together and play until something falls into place. Then they set it. There, choreography.

Here, I show up, remedial at best – years ago – having to assess, “Do you know this? Can you do this?”

“No… Once upon a time, but never really solid…”

I didn’t want to to hold them back in any way or make them dumb it down for me.

I was at battle with myself last night. I can’t tell you many times I decided it was okay not to do this. I’m really not ready. That’s the truth.

Another equally true voice reminded me that it was about rehearsing together. I can always opt out of the performance. I want to be with the people who loved her, together doing what she loved. I knew that this was the opportunity to break through the personal barrier that kept me away from a rich part of the community I always wanted to belong to, but didn’t know how or dare.

Practice this morning was early. I’m overwhelmed with three other dance classes, and I’ve been in a moderate Fibro flare for over a month. I’m tired. My body hurts.

Christie, get up! You’ll be glad you did.

I had set the alarm for 7am – I felt proud and brave – and then I forgot to turn it on!

By some miracle I woke up at 7:45. I was, of course, relieved. Totally off the hook.

I really meant to get up, but there’s no way I could get there on time now. I lay back down.

It doesn’t matter if you’re late. Get up. You’ll be glad you did.

I didn’t question it. I didn’t fight with myself. (I was too tired.) I just put my feet down.

I was late, half an hour. As I approached the Hub, I saw only one car in the lot. That’s more intimidating than a large crowd. I almost turned around.

GO IN.

I approached the entry. Locked. I went to the back access. Locked.

I tried. I was triumphant. Nothing to regret. I really tried! (I was so relieved.)

I turned to leave, but stopped. I went back and rang the bell (which doesn’t reach upstairs to the dance studio, but I tried anyway). I knocked.

Running late, I left my phone! I couldn’t even message the Facebook page.

I rang and rang.

Okay. Admit defeat. Girl, you showed up. You get your gold star. And you get out of it, ha!

I started to leave, but just couldn’t exit the parking lot, quite. Why? There was only one car. I’d been all around the warehouse. No one was up that early and working.

I just lingered. I knew if I skipped the first practice, I could talk myself out of all the rest. I stayed. I searched.

Finally, I turned to go home.

And there it was! A car exiting the lot. I got the code to bypass a key, and up I went!

I was the only one! Other than the three pros who are choreographing the thing, me.

Oh, god. I should have turned back!

I told them how scared I was. I told them I don’t want to affect the group with a garish skill gap. I told them it was Jazzy who got me there.

“I don’t know how else I showed up,” I admitted. “I talked myself out of it a million times. I’m terrified!”

“We’re so glad you’re here!” they all said, and wrapped me in a hug.

I KNEW that’s what I’d find there! But … but, but, but!

I did it. I did it. I did it!

Thank you, Jazzy. You knew.

We felt her.

Jazzy and Jeffrey brought hooping into my life. Jazzy brought it back.

Thank you for giving me the courage to approach your dear friends. You broke down the wall for me and got me past fear. It held me back for so long. Thank you!

2019 is the year I pick up my hoop and push beyond old boundaries. I have a whole community now that I’m not afraid to ask, “How’d you do that?”

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It’s True What They Say

Of romance, we always hear the tried and trite, “He/she comes when you’re not looking.”

Ugh.

After Jax, I didn’t feel the least bit moved to date. I don’t know that it even crossed my mind. Guys & Dolls closed. I was tired. It was winter. I wore woobies and cuddled cats.

I was dissatisfied with the stinking hole I moved into after the breakup (and bitter that my roommate had lied about being a hoarder). (Full-on lied! Actually advertised herself as clean. Did she think I wouldn’t find out when used cotton balls made their way into the living room carpet?) Nevertheless, I was content being home, all the time.

I felt safe, and happy to be free of Jax and Carrie. I felt proud of my show and grateful for new friends, ever humbled by the life-saving experience of their companionship coinciding with the most important role of my life, the only part I ever really wanted.

I took pride and pleasure in beautifying my home. I always do, but in that apartment cesspool, it was really an accomplishment! There’s only so much you can do, but even the hoarder was amazed and inspired to explore her own decorating style (though it never moved her to minimize the biohazard that are her life and space).

I made my boundaries clear: Leave one sink empty for me. I will not be forced to smell and move fetid dishes in order to do my own. And keep your bedroom filth from spilling out into shared spaces. It never lasted, but whatever. Leases end.

I expected trauma to hit me after the show closed and life quieted down. I was prepared to weather it gently, accepting the process, and healing soon enough. It never came.

Guys & Dolls was so frenzied and joyful, it replaced the twitching in my nervous system after Jax & Carrie. I contented myself with my friend, TV, and my love, chips and dip.

Soon enough, I left that dungeon and the squalid girl in it (who bathes and showers up to three times a day). (If you cleaned your room, you might not feel so gross.) (If your house didn’t stink, you might not fear that you do.) Who am I to judge someone’s brand of mental illness? I don’t have to live with it, though, and that’s where you find me today, in my favorite home ever.

My landlords are my neighbors, and friends of 10 years. Across the street are more friends from the same time and place. There’s activity and laughter every day! I’m so happy to have people come and go. I love hosting small hot tub parties.

I ran into Galen, and that part of me started singing, too. Yeah, it’s nice to get laid regularly, but I love more that we’ve come full circle and I get to heal the parts of us that needy, frightened Christie wounded.

For the first couple of months, my healing was wrapped up in his. It was so beautiful to hold him, to earn his trust, and laugh together, without need or want for anything beyond each other’s company and happiness, and the moment’s joy.

Just weeks ago, I began to recognize that I’m experiencing myself in an entirely new way. I’ve never trusted anyone to love me, so I was never honest! I never loved wholly, without restraint, risking all, guaranteeing nothing, controlling no outcome.

I had no idea! I recognized fear and habitual destructive habits, but lacked any awareness that I was lying to myself, and subsequently my partner.

I’m loving in the present for the first time. It’s life-altering.

Who am I, intimately, when I don’t lead with fear? What if I needed nothing? Who would I be? How do I love when I don’t consider the risk of heartbreak, first and always?

And there they all were! Guys just started asking me out. I’m not kidding. It’s the weirdest thing. At first, I thought it must be afterglow. Blood’s pumping. Hormones are flooding. I look flush, rosy, happy, young-ish.

My vanity has required the same age or older. I need to be the pretty young thing. But young men are asking me out, and not the pups who’ve “always been attracted to older women” (said every boy attracted to the middle-aged woman he’s talking to).

My new suitors are stunned to learn my age! I’m in perimenopause, y’all, and I smoked for 22 years. I don’t look young for my age anymore.

It must be my energy. I don’t know. I don’t care.

On the heels of asking, “What is it like to be loved by me when I’m unafraid,” I decided to find out. If I meet someone “too young” or too different from me, and that exchange is easy and pleasant, coffee or dinner is in order. What was so hard about that?

I’m still selective. I’ve only given my number to two fellows.

The first was last month. We went out a couple of times, and I’d love to see more of him. He’s exotic (Moroccan), cosmopolitan, and sexy. Conversation flowed endlessly like liquid, but he’s going through an acrimonious divorce, and I’m just … not.

Last weekend, I went to a one yr-old’s birthday party and met my friend’s neighbor. We spent the whole time together, laughing, playing with kids, making fun of each other. It was that instant chemistry that feels familiar: effortless.

I did everything wrong. For a flirt, I’m surprisingly concrete. I guess I just think everyone’s enjoying the exchange itself, and not aiming for anything like a date.

I told him my target market: Men my age or older with long-standing, amicable divorces, healthy custody arrangements, and children open (hopefully) to a friend/family relationship with me, if not that of “stepmom.” Dare I dream? Grandchildren one day?

I told him his target market. In other words, I confessed just how likely I am to tell you how to live your life: Damn near guaranteed and within 5 minutes.

I told him my MO – break up/get back/break up/grovel, with two significant accumulations of time, though, “The 5-yr on-and-off was really just a codependent shambles.”

“Substance or emotions?” he asked.

“Both, at first,” I acknowledged. “Then drugs and desperation for the rest. It was neat.”

I even told him I have a fuck buddy! Good grief!

I should be humiliated, but I can’t wait to see him again.

“Oh my god, are we flirting?” I realized eventually.

“I hope so,” he teased.

I did have the sense to be momentarily embarrassed and walked off laughing, shaking my head. I visited with party guests I’d ignored. So did he. We made our way back to each other and kept talking, with numbers exchanged at last.

We’re going to the mountains for the total lunar eclipse on Monday. Bonfire, friends, natural hot springs on private property, no light pollution! I’m so excited!

What a great first date!

Jazzy Blue Brite

Twelve years ago, a beautiful light of a girl caught my eye at Burning Man. I’d seen hula hooping before, even stop-in-your-tracks hooping, but never that. Jazzy Blue Brite is the quintessential picture of my first burn, and burned in my brain.

It was 2007, and I was afraid of the desert. As far as I could see, life was not meant to survive that ancient, desiccated lake bed, so I didn’t drink anything but water. I was dead sober, and Jazzy Blue Brite was the moment that trance entered my being.

We go to Burning Man for an altered state. It doesn’t take long. It permeates that city. But that night, that party, there she was. Magic. Light. Pure beauty.

I was transported, without a drug or a drop in my body.

I found out my campmates had taken me to Ganesh, a camp and artcar from Salt Lake. That makes sense now, but at the time I knew nothing and no one. I had only met the guy I went with a week prior to leaving. Everyone was a stranger.

They’re my own community now, but Jazzy eked out a special place in my heart.

I had been hooping a little that summer with Jeffrey, who had mad skills in his arsenal, but I wanted lessons from her and signed up for a workshop as soon as I got home. I was so intimidated and nervous.

From that 6-wk course and a dozen years of festivals and festy parties, Jazzy and I formed a bond that is so dear to me. We never hung out one-on-one, but every time we saw each other we ran to hug on each other. It was so validating, to know that she was just as excited to see me, every time, as I was to see her. She loved me.

I loved her, too.

Jazzy died on the 4th of January. She had been in an accident almost 10 years ago that took her friend. She was on the back of his moped and sustained serious injuries herself, but it was her heart that never recovered from the loss and survivor’s guilt.

Her carefree partying morphed. We were losing her. She wasn’t as visible on the circuit as she had been. Then again, neither was I. But even I had occasion to see the change, a year and a half ago when she was very intoxicated at an afternoon hoop jam.

In fact, a friend of mine said after we left, “What’s up with Jazzy?”

“Oh, nothing,” I dismissed her. “We’ve all been there.”

Frankly, I thought she was being judgmental. Lord knows I’ve been the most drunk at the party before, and will be again. And most of us have been sloppy, even embarrassing, in the company of sober friends from time to time. Big deal.

I confess I do feel a little guilty about that day. She was so obviously going downhill, I see now. Hindsight.

Anyway, I love her, that sweet Jazzy girl. She’s a great loss, to our community and to me personally. I’m pretty philosophical about these things, but losing her hit me hard. I cried quite a bit. I began to perceive that maybe I’m not so esoteric about life and death as I claimed, but had used that belief to distance myself from the pain of loss.

I feel the loss of Jazzy, in my whole body. I feel a little punched in the gut, and I’m quick to tears about her. I was supposed to see her that afternoon!

She’d been in the hospital for weeks, with organ failure. First, doctors told her family not to expect her to wake up from a medically-induced coma, but she did! Her organs recovered, except for her liver, and she was on the list for transplant.

She had a long road ahead, facing mental health issues and the great heartaches she had drowned, and learning to live sober. Transplant, too, is never guaranteed. Even with the best immediate outcome, her body could reject it anytime.

As a community, we settled into a schedule of taking afternoon shifts, so her sisters could go home to their families. A friend and I were slated for 2pm, and then we got the announcement. She passed peacefully in the morning, surrounded by family.

I had such a strange sensation of grasping for her, just missing her, and feeling simultaneously that I was with her. In that hovering between – especially right when they leave, I imagine – our friends and family must see our closeness to them in thought, love, and intention.

It was quite beautiful, honestly, but very discombobulating. Those of us who were on the roster for the day went to lunch (for hours) instead. I connected with old friends and strangers alike. It was truly one of my happiest days. Everything you can imagine about such a day: Laughing, hugging, sharing stories, holding hands, holding each other.

We’re having a big Celebration of Life on the 27th at Utah Arts Alliance, and the Hoopologists are putting together some choreography in memoriam. They want to include as many as would like to participate. For her, I really really do.

I’m terrified. I haven’t hooped at all since the last time I saw her, and hadn’t much in the years prior. I was never that good at my best. Another situation in life that I plateaued at a few fun tricks, but didn’t want to work for it afterwards. Taurus laziness, if-it-doesn’t-come-easily, familiar pattern…

But I’m doing it. I’m going to rehearsals with girls who intimidate me and I’m performing my part in the background. Think 1980s low-mid-high level aerobics, haha!

Jazzy inspired me 12 years ago and she’s doing it again.

Get up, Christie.

Live fully. Work through the hard parts and DANCE when you get past them!

****

Jazzy’s family is left with large medical expenses. If you’re in a position to donate and feel moved to do so, please follow the link to GoFundMe. Thank you!

Jazzy Blue Brite’s Medical Fund

jazzy blue brite

exactly who and how she is ❤

****

1.15.19 (payday 😉 ) ~ I don’t have much, but I figured 10 bucks every 2 weeks for a couple of months will add up, and it makes me feel great. I loved this girl.

Imagine my delight when I clicked on the donation page and realized that I needed only to up my bi-weekly contribution by $2 to get the grand total to date to my favorite number: 222, plus one for good measure.

2222 We love Jazzy Blue! 🙂 ❤
2222 i love jazzy blue

2019

I love symbolism, and what could be more refreshing than New Years to hit reset and start again on the things you didn’t do last year? (I’ve been swearing I’d be “fluent” on the didgeridoo for, what, 10 years?)

I place a lot of importance on New Year’s review. This has a been a hell of a year for it.

It started in 2017, when Jax and I broke up. Finally, I knew something about my future: I was never having children. It was sobering and surprising, and so freeing!

A year later, I ran into my favorite old flame – best lover/real emotional affection for one another/worst match – and invited him to keep me company again. We’ve been together now for months. I love it!

I’ve never had a carefree relationship. It isn’t superficial. It just doesn’t have to mean everything. I don’t have to understand it. In other words, I don’t have a picture in my head of how this will look in the future, and it’s fantastic! I’ve never had that.

I love him. I’m loving him so much better than I did before. We’re happy.

He’s a ski photographer. Christmas and New Years are his bread and butter, so we parted company two weeks ago and haven’t spoken. We texted once. I invited him to a New Year’s celebration – He is the person I want to kiss right now – but he declined. He had to work New Year’s Day. I expected as much, and went alone.

It’s perfectly equal with Galen, what we want from each other, how we feel about each other, what we offer each other. I can’t say enough how different this is from anything I’ve felt or experienced in my life.

So that’s the biggest thing from 2018, this free, authentic feeling of being with someone purely, not because I have a goal or fear in mind – or in the back of my mind. It feels so good to love someone! I don’t think I appreciated how desperate and selfish my love has been in the past. I was aware, but… yeah, you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s wonderful to love him so wholly.

****

I quit smoking two months ago. I bought a Vape for the holidays, so I wouldn’t go around bumming drunk drags at parties, or walk to a convenience store and buy a pack. (You know that hangover. “Ah shit! Now I have to finish these cigarettes!” Maybe you could throw them out, but I hate waste, throwing away my money, and regret – for the day down the road I wish I hadn’t thrown those cigarettes away.)

The Vape did it! I’m smoke-free and more confident than ever before that I’ll stay that way. Just bring it to any party and you’re set. That melon-flavored metal cylinder accompanies me only when drinking, and I’m perfectly satisfied. Problem solved.

I’ve lapsed on my cooking. Of course, that’s my #1 plan for 2019. Get back into trying new recipes and healthy meals (i.e. lose weight). Galen’s good for that (vegetarian/solar home cook) but, like I said, I got the holidays off from him.

It’s the worst binge, maybe ever. For two weeks straight, every day, everything I can eat, all day, and no real food or fiber. I’ve actually thrown up, actually morphed from Binge Eating Disorder to Bulimia, except I didn’t mean to puke. I just made myself so sick, up it came. So gross. Wow, my life.

I imagine if I hadn’t held onto to Skinny-Is-My-Superpower for so long, I might have figured out some form of food discipline before now? I can’t say. I only know I didn’t. And it’s only gotten worse. Binge Eating Disorder doesn’t sit still, so now I have to make it better. That’s it. Skinny is officially no longer a freebie for me, but I’m more concerned, like any midlifer, with the rest of my life, with comfort, energy, and longevity.

And, let’s be honest, good diet is the last piece of living peacefully with Fibromyalgia. DO IT. If you’re not doing everything in your power to manage your pain, shut up. When you’ve exhausted every option with total integrity and effort, bitch all you want.

Til then, binge less. As a treat. Enjoy it. Accept it. Move on. In 2019, I will binge no more than once a month. Ooh! I just got punch-in-the-gut panic. I can do it.

****

I can’t believe we’re only a year away from 2020. For a decade, I’ve been excited for Hindsight 2020. What a time for review! I feel so lucky to be newbie-middle-aged at this epic symbolic time. I’m young enough to get back into shape and stay that way. (Figure out in therapy this year how to really face Binge Eating Disorder…)

I’m young enough to regain and retain my youthful beauty, and old enough to know that that’s not what matters in my life, but something I enjoy. Thank god I get to!

I have a 5-yr plan for the first time in my life. Penny will be my family for the next 2-5 years. Then I’ll be 50. Fit, brave, happy, free, and ready to TRAVEL.

I’m finishing the process of getting out of debt. (In 2018, my student loan fell to ZERO!!!) I’m not planning to travel much in the next few years. Instead, I’ll save, dream, and plan. I think I’ll drive cross-country with a friend first, then live in South America for at least a year, to teach and travel.

I’ll definitely be in Brazil for Carnival sometime in the next 5 or 6 years. I started doing Samba a couple of months ago. I’m not bad. I’m not good yet, but I will be!

Oh! Be careful what you wish for! I always wanted to join Samba Fogo, Salt Lake’s world-class Afro-Brazilian drum and dance company. (Our founder is 2018’s International Samba Competition winner. This is for real.) In 2018, I did!

I’m in Ala, which means “We.” It’s the community branch of Samba Fogo, and Alas exist all over Brazil, so it’s part of the cultural tradition. We’re performing at the Samba Queen contest this month, and at the annual show in April, which I’ve been attending for years. It’s in that audience that I first began to dream of being on their stage. And now I am.

****

2018 was tough. I came down hard with some boundaries that I’m not second-guessing anymore. I made cuts. I didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to write about it as it was happening. I just did it.

My circle has grown much smaller, and my family’s pretty much out. I never thought I’d fail there, but I have to love myself enough to make unapologetic choices for my safety, even when my mom lectures me in a Christmas card about the need to forgive.

I have. I forgive and forgive, but I continue to be disrespected and disregarded. I give myself permission to leave, whether that’s demonized or not. I don’t need them to understand or stop gossiping about what a bad, withholding person that makes me.

Am I adulting?! Not around them. In their company, I’m everything they say I am.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about etymology, specifically the phrase, “You make me sick.” Most of us are guilty of projecting on someone in that way. I’ve been asking myself lately, “Why do we say that?” “What a strange way to blame someone for a situation we share responsibility for.” Why? Because the feeling is one of illness!

It was always there. My family makes me sick. No one is willing to respect my boundaries, so I get pissed and pissy, and the whole cycle roars on. I have a role, but it’s a family act. I’m the screaming, suicidal girl. They scapegoat me for all our problems, because I make the most noise.

When I was young I said often, “You think when I leave, everything will calm down. It won’t. Just you wait.”

It didn’t. I didn’t start it. I was born into malfunction. But it’s my fault now. All of it.

I’m a symptom, but for them I’m to blame.

So I can’t be around them. It’s sad, but it’s the right thing to do. I act like a child. I hate myself. I hate them. I don’t sleep for weeks. I binge. I trigger mom (who’s already triggered anticipating family togetherness, so she jumps on my buttons).

The rest of them are openly bigoted or subtly cutting. (I hate it when people skirt responsibility for “jokes” that hurt with “I was kidding.” Bullshit. You’re cruel.) They don’t care that hate-mongering hurts and upsets me. I’m just making a big deal of nothing.

We’re sick. A family is only as healthy as its sickest member, and I actually get sick with them. 2019 is about respecting all of my health and honoring it, even when my family calls me a horrible person, even when I want to hit three fast food joints in a row.

I feel good.

I feel sorrow at the loss of some treasured relationships, including a long-time friend, but I’ve changed. Things have changed. Holding on to what no longer serves us is immature, and I’m not. I’m 45 years old. I’m kind of a bitch and a good person. I’m whole and complex, and I don’t want to spend my time with assholes who piss me off.

I just wanna have fun. I’m smart, deep, compassionate, impatient, intense, and FUN.

Happy New Year!

halfway bitches
women over 40

Conversation with Cricket

I had another session with Danielle Tremblay of Insight With Animals mainly to connect with Cricket. I checked in with Penny, too, just to make sure she likes the new apartment and to see if there’s anything more I can do for her right now.

Penny likes the new space, says it’s light and bright, and warm, safe, and comfortable. She feels like I’m not finished unpacking. In fact I am, but she complained that “all of the objects aren’t out for me to look at.” I think because we’ve had roommates for so many years now she’s used to seeing the bookshelf in my bedroom, where most of the chotchkies sit. It’s in the dining area now, the least used room in the house because I’m a bachelor and I eat dinner on the couch watching TV. They’re spread out on the mantel, as well, and throughout the shelving in the main entryway, and all over, really.

Actually, I don’t know what Penny’s talking about. I’ve downsized quite a bit, but this place is so small I feel overwhelmed at times by “visual noise,” still. My knick knacks, however, are sentimental and vital. In the last couple of moves, I’ve been strict and severe. Keep only what you cannot part with. What I kept I love and I have to see it. It’s out, on display, fussed with, futzed with, admired, enjoyed. Stuff!

Perhaps, like me, Penny is blinded by eye clutter. There isn’t a designated “place” for objet d’art, per se. It’s everywhere, scattered throughout. Maybe she’s just adjusting to the new space. It’s different from anything we’ve had. It’s compact, no question, but it’s beautiful! By far, my favorite home to date. In all my life, this is my favorite cozy abode to come back to. It’s me. It’s mine. It’s dripping with pretty, albeit a little too much of it. 😉

It always amazes and amuses me when Danielle can tell me what my homes look like from what my cats show her. Penny likes one room in particular with a “wall of windows,” she said. “Wow! A wall of windows!” She also told Danielle that the ceilings are “very tall.” Well, yes, they are.

When we lived at Jax’s house, I asked Cricket how she liked it, and she did. She made sure to tell Danielle of another apartment she expressly did not like, showing her a narrow, dark space. “It’s true!’ I said. “I called it The Rail Car, because it was long and narrow, and it had such bad natural light that all of my plants died but one.”

Oh, Cricket.

First, she showed Danielle the image of her wrapped around me like a hug, while seated on a desk or a table. That’s exactly how we were! The exam table comes down at the vet, and I sat on a bench just below it. We were wrapped around each other, and I whispered my love to her while she purred to her last beautiful breath.

Next, Cricket gave a big sigh and told Danielle, “Mom has to know that I am so relieved.”

I knew she was. That last night was so hard. I told her a couple of times, “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll see the vet tomorrow, and you can go.”

She said, “Thank you.” She was so tired, and also, curiously, couldn’t seem to get out of her body herself, so she needed that support. “Thank you for understanding.”

Then I was scared that maybe I’d waited too long, that I shouldn’t even have made her suffer the ups and downs of never quite finding our stable dose, but for those last several weeks. Of course, she had told Danielle back then that she was content to stay in body while we sorted it out, even though she felt lousy.

Danielle reassured me that I hadn’t waited too long. “I’m glad that you tried,” Cricket said. “It would have been a bit of a shock to go sooner.”

“She loved being with you in the physical, and she continues to love being with you now,”  Danielle told me, adding that she sits on the bed near my head. Yep. That’s where she slept.

Penny reported that she’s on the ottoman sometimes, too, next to the bed.

Cricket told me that Penny needs extra TLC, even though she’s acting normal. She’s still adjusting and needs extra attention. Danielle reported that Penny didn’t go through a period of mourning. She understood that Cricket was sick, and she intuited and understood everything that was going on.

“This is what happens,” Penny said. She did agree, though, that quiet time is “extra quiet” without Cricket’s physical presence.

I asked Danielle if she could tell me about the days immediately following Cricket’s passing, and you’ll never guess. She tapped into that dream! I woke up with a feeling of her on my chest – and with a cat that girthy, it was unmistakably Cricket – and remembered her biting me in my dream. Cricket told Danielle that the bite was so I would know it was real, and that’s exactly what made it real for me! It was so physical and tangible, I couldn’t dismiss it as my imagination.

Danielle complimented Cricket on how well she got my attention. 🙂

I asked about the song, and Cricket’s reply was interesting. She didn’t send it. It was from the general universe. Of course it was! I believe in a loving Universe, and I see signs and magic nearly every day. Why should Source not have my back on such a day, losing my big fat belly cat? I still marvel at the lyrics of that song, the timing of it starting – first strum of the first note – just as I turned the engine, and especially that it was a new to me. Having never known the words, I heard Cricket’s voice.

It felt as though she was speaking directly to me. I could feel her right next to me, separated by a millisecond. I could see what she must be newly experiencing, “standing at the center of time as it curls.”

It will forever remain one of the most miraculous things I’ve experienced.

Danielle validated Cricket amplifying the volume, and volume, of crickets I heard in the evenings after she passed. She told Danielle, “I chirp,” and showed an image of a megaphone. It’s true! The crickets were louder in the days following her passing. I haven’t been in my home long enough to grow numb to the sounds of it, but already that chorus is quieter than those first astounding nights. It was deafening!

Danielle was quite amazed herself by the moments Cricket and I were describing, and Cricket said to her, “Well, it’s all real, Danielle!”

“I don’t doubt that it’s real,” she chuckled.

Cricket told her she knows that most people don’t often believe or understand.

Cricket also told Danielle that sometimes humans who are in distress at the passing of another “almost un-gel” from their bodies. According to Cricket, that’s why Penny sat on me like she did those first three mornings. If I hadn’t had to get up, she’d have stayed there all day. Normally, she’d wake me and then head straight for her food after a cuddle and a kiss or two. I love her for holding me.

It’s so Penny to do so. In our first meeting with Danielle, Penny said it was her job to care for the grounds, to sweep energy. She did “rounds” several times a day, walking through every room but one in Jax’s house. (That was a curious detail to get right.)

I’ve always called her The Queen. I teased her that it’s all hers, everything under the sun. In fact, it’s hers because it’s her job. She’s proud of her work and takes it seriously.

I’m glad it’s her job to take care of me. Oh, Penny. You started it all, this feline magic.

Danielle was so supportive and validating. She said that the three of us are co-creating all of this together, and we have a beautiful connection that she appreciated witnessing.

I’m so grateful for her. It was everything I wanted and more.

Cricket’s paw print arrived just days before the reading, perfectly cricky, just like her.

Cricket's paw print

At first glance, I didn’t like it. You can tell she’s not pushing back and her claws are wonky. It quickly grew on me. It suits her. She was always just a little “off.” She reminds me of my disheveled high school English teacher, whose slip was always showing. Oh, my sweet Cricket.

Nightsong

It’s been a week without my little Cricket. While she was alive, I’d kiss and sweet-talk her during the night – when I could hear the crickets singing – and tell her how she got her name. I met her at 12-hours old, writhing and squeaking with her litter of mostly black sisters (and one gray tabby 😉 ).

I was smitten instantly. There’s something so enchanting about a black cat!

There were two, The Twins, we called them. Then there was Boots, and she was hard to pass up. Pretty little tuxy with 3 white boots and one sloppy little stocking falling down her ankle. One day she was standing in the kitchen in the sunlight and even her little whiskers were white, glowing in the hot sun! I was close to choosing her that day.

But I knew I wanted my little black kitty cat, and I knew her name was Cricket. I don’t know why, but they just looked and sounded like little bugs writhing in the night when I first saw them, and my kitty’s name was Cricket.

For several weeks, I went to my friend’s house and played with them. One day, one twin jumped up on the bed. I asked her, “Are you Cricket?” and held her to my face. She meowed in reply, the highest, silliest little mew you ever heard!

Right after her, the other twin followed. “Or are you Cricket?” I picked her up.

When she answered, my heart sang! “Rawwwr.”

It couldn’t even be called a meow! It was just a squeak, higher than her sister’s or any kitten call I’d heard before. In my mind, I could see the fine hairs of a cricket’s wings rubbing together to make that scratchy, chirping melody.

We locked eyes, and it was her! She was my Cricket!

I ran to my friend. “I can tell them apart! This is Cricket! This is my Cricket!”

The next week, I went over and my friend asked, “Which one is Cricket again?”

I picked them each up, made eye-contact, and answered. “Her.”

“Good.” He and his girlfriend smiled conspiratorially.

“Why?” I asked.

The girlfriend picked Cricket up and showed me a patch of tiny white hairs that had popped up on her belly that week. Not a white spot, just 3-5 hairs. They considered that a flaw. She wasn’t pure black.

She was perfect!

Even after I claimed her, even after I “met” her, eye to eye, I tried to talk myself out of taking her home. My boyfriend teased me daily. “Just because you’ve gone koo koo kitty crazy doesn’t mean you need two.”

“You’re right. Of course, you’re right. I don’t need two cats! Penny’s happy and so am I.” But my family was incomplete without my baby Cricket.

We were a fine trio.

****

Penny searched for her all day Monday, which was strange, really. Cricket’s spent plenty of overnights at the doctor. Penny had no reason to wonder, unless she knew. And she did. She knew it was different this time. She looked to me with searching eyes, round like saucers, needing an answer, meowing, meowing, searching, meowing.

“I know, honey. Your sissy’s crossed the bridge. She’s all better now, but we don’t get to have her here anymore. You don’t have to worry anymore.”

And she sure was sweet. Penny was always good at affection, but oh, she was gooey Monday night. And every morning we awoke in the old place, she was on me. That’s normal, except that it used to be that I’d wake and pet and kiss her a bit, and she’d jump off. Time for food, and getting my day started. Now, she’d stay on me all day if I let her.

****

This was a busy, wonderful week. I was glad not to put Crick through the stress of moving. In my mind, it was a short one-mile car ride to the new place. Cats hate cars. I thought that would be the only challenge for them. I forgot that before we move, my stuff had to move! It was a lot of banging, cleaning, flux, fear, noise. It was stressful on my Penny. Cricket was too sick for that.

I feel peace in my decision. I’m happy I let her go as soon as she began to suffer.

She was really sick for 4 days, and then she was free.

I miss my kitty.

During those 4 days of illness, I asked her to come to me in the nightsong of crickets. She does! She really does!

You know how you get used to the sounds of your own house and neighborhood, and stop hearing them? Well, that first night without her, last Monday, for some ungodly reason I was cold!

It’s hundred degrees in July, and 75 at night! I never turn my fan off. It’s attached to my headboard and blows on me in my almost-nothing tank top and no covers, and still I sweat through the night. For heaven’s sake, I was cold!

I put on proper jammies, pulled the covers over me, and still I was cold. At last, I turned off the fan and heard… crickets!

“Hi, fat kitty!”

The next day was Pie ‘n’ Beer Day. (Pioneer Day, if you’re a good Mormon; The rest of us get drunk.) I went to a BBQ at the neighbors across the street of my new place. In his big backyard, with old, established trees and thicket, the crickets were deafening!

The next day, I was bringing boxes over to the new place. Molly, my landlord and friend since 2009, was having dinner and drinks out back with the neighbor, who had brought leftovers. Molly had Pandora pumping through the outdoor speakers. I went inside to fill a plate and heard a cricket! A single, solitary cricket so loud it had to be inside!

“Is there a cricket in here?!” I exclaimed to myself. “Oh my god, Christie, enough!”

I went outside and said nothing of it. I’m losing my mind!

And there it was again and again and again, blasting through the speaker!

“What the hell is that?!” I demanded at last. “I’m haunted! I’m hearing crickets!”

“That’s my phone,” Molly answered. “Chris keeps texting tonight.”

How is it that I’ve never heard Molly’s phone before, and she had it connected to the speaker, of all things! Night after night after night, my sweet Cricket comes to me in a new way. “Mom, I’m here. You asked me to come, and I did.”

I dreamed of her Wednesday! She was only 2 days gone. It was a very physical dream, with weight and body. I could feel her. She bit me, hard. She liked to nibble my arm while I petted her, like she was grooming me for little vermin or something. It never hurt, of course, her little love nips. That’s what she did in this dream, only hard.

It didn’t hurt at all or break the skin, but it was a fantastic, dream-variety bite that I could FEEL. She’s with me. I knew that’s what she wanted me to know from that dream.

And then I was finished moving, sitting alone on my beautiful back patio, illuminated in the dark, listening to the nightsong of my new home. It’s so loud and melodious, the music of crickets here. It’s a beautiful place to sit and reflect on our lives together, to heal from the loss of her physical companionship, and celebrate our spiritual relationship.

She’s with me forever, I can trust that! I guess there was a part of me that feared I wouldn’t feel her or know if I felt her, or give myself permission to feel her.

I couldn’t hide from her if I wanted to!

“Sing our song at night, honey. Make me hear you.” Boy, does she!

“Thank you, sweet girl. You always were a very good kitty.”

I miss my Cricket.

cricket's memorial

Cricket’s Memorial on the mantel of the fireplace of my new home. She’ll be with me by the fire, after all. Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

From old, established trees and thicket
Sings the song of my sweet Cricket 

That couplet happened quite accidentally in the prose above. 🙂

Oh, my Cricky. How I love you.

patio

Welcome to Christie’s Corner! (Finally, a place to display my Queen of Hearts caricature from the set of Guys & Dolls, haha!)

Penny explores the new house, luxuriates all over. She’s out-of-place yet, but I think it was wise, quite by accident, to move so quickly after Cricket’s passing. There’s no reason to search for her in our new home. She was never here to be missed.

She is talking more, it seems. Penny was always vocal, but she has a lot to say right now. Out of place? Is she asking about her sissy?

“It’s just the two of us, honey. You don’t even remember when it was the two of us.”

Penny started limping a couple of months ago. It comes and goes, and she’s still jumping to and from tall perches. I hoped it was just an ache. We’ve earned a rheumatism now and then. 2 weeks ago, it became worrisome to watch.

I was prepared for Cricket to go. I didn’t expect to her to live to old age. Her whole life, she was sick with random, bizarro this-n-that. Penny, I never thought as mortal!

I have a sense of panic in the pit of my stomach. I’m trying to release it. It’s okay to be scared. With Cricket’s traumatic illness and passing, of course I’m raw and frightened.

But I never prepared myself for Penny’s mortality. It never even crossed my mind. I’m not ready to face the inevitable: Penny’s advanced elderly.

She sees the doc on Thursday.

“You’re my old kitty now, honey. My Pretty Penny. We’re old women, you and me.”

Little Black Magicat

Cricket’s at peace, and so am I.

Yesterday, Cricket told me she doesn’t need to come with us to the new house.

I regret not realizing my dream of holding her by the fire. I imagine she’ll be there with me sometimes, but there’s nothing like the furry, warm body of a big fat belly cat.

I walked to my car in a daze with her empty carrier. I turned the engine to hear John Florence announce the time. (He’s the only host on KRCL to do that.) 9:11, her birthday.

I got on the freeway, directly behind a license plate beginning with 999 – end of a cycle – as the song that started when I turned the key began its opening lyric.

Sliding on the shimmering surface between two worlds
Standing at the center of time as it uncurls
Cutting through the veil of illusion
Moving beyond past conclusions
Rendering all doubt and confusion clear

If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere right now
I would want to be here

– Jackson Browne

cricket's pillow

She had a beautiful, peaceful passing on her pillow in my arms. She purred the whole time. I buried my face in her neck and told her how much I love her. “You’re a good kitty.”

saying goodbye

Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018