A Series of Unfortunate Events

My world has been pretty full here lately.  We’ll say that a number of negative things have happened, but God continues to speak through them and to shove some unexpected good things in as well. 

I sort of felt like God warned me in a couple of ways that I was about to go through some difficulty, which is comforting when the difficulty does hit.

In April, my boyfriend and I broke up.  We had been together for 3 1/2 years.  I am probably not going to go into detail on this particular event since it involves someone else as well.  But I will say that I am not sure where the situation will end up.  We still have a relationship that is positive, and, indeed, due to my most recent difficult circumstance (I’ll get to that), I am staying in the apartment off of his mom’s house.

So, needless to say all of that was grandly emotional.  Then after we broke up, my car broke down on my way to church.  Having only recently broken up, I was still in the habit of calling him when I had trouble, so he came and helped me out for 3 days until it all got worked out.

The following circumstance was my decision, so it was not something that “happened” to me, but something I chose.  I decided to move out of my cabin, and the living in a tent plan was reborn.  This decision was come to after a series of conversations with my landlord in which he decided I owed him $400 for something that should in no way have been $400, and for which I could not get him to provide documentation.  I will give him some credit, though – when I put in my notice, he did offer to waive this fee, and subsequently to reduce my rent if I would stay, but I had already made my decision at that point.  The tent decision was very logical to me.  I weighed my options – a) live comfortably, and in no time in the foreseeable future get to do the things I really want to do with any consistancy (write, create, travel) or b) live uncomfortably, and get to do those things.  And so, last week, I vacated the cabin.  But before we get there, I have one more situation to tell you about.

About a week before I was supposed to move out, I decided to take my cat to the vet.  He had been having a cough for a couple of months, but hadn’t had any other symptoms so I didn’t think much of it.  However, in the week or two preceding this, he had started seeming a little lethargic, not eating as much and reluctant to jump.  I decided to take him, in part because someone else was going to have to care for him during my tent living and if he had something contagious, I did not want to spread it to someone else’s pets.  But I did not really think it was that serious.  However, the vet did x-rays, and it was not good.  One entire lung was full of either a mass or fluid, was swollen and pressing on the other lung, which was not entirely clear either.  So, he was functioning on less than one lung.  My vet said they did not have the capabilities to find out what was in the lung, but that I could go to a specialist if I wanted, which, of course, would be very expensive.  The vet was very honest and told me that he really felt that all I would get from a specialist would be a definitive answer about what was wrong and that they would still not be able to do anything.  He told me that there are times when people want to euthanize their pets and he discourages it, but in my case, he would support that decision.  So sad…I cried the whole afternoon.  I have had my Leo for 9 years since he was younger than he should have been taken from his mother, due to poor humane society practices (they came and picked up the mother and left the too-young kittens).  Anyway, I took Leo home, and although I cannot afford the specialist, my vet was going to get the blood test results from my cat and consult with them just so I would have a more educated opinion.  He was supposed to get back to me on Tuesday after Memorial Day.  I was leaving the cabin on Wednesday morning.  Well, on Monday, I was going to take Leo to a friend’s house.  She had agreed to be his foster parent.  I was doing other moving runs, taking my stuff to various generous people’s attics and storage units.  My plan was to take him when I got back.  Only when I got back, I could not find him.  This is very rare, even though he is indoor/outdoor.  He always runs up when I get home.  I called and waited and later on I called and waited.  He never came.  He was just gone.  And he never came back.  They say that cats know when they are about to die, and often go out alone to do it.  He did not act like he felt that bad, but I suppose I was wrong about that.  I feel that if he had been able to come back, he would have.  He’s never once been gone for 2 days before.  So, Wednesday morning came and I had to leave my cabin not knowing where he was and just hoping he was peaceful and that he would not come back to no one and nothing. 

Well, I had a trip scheduled before I began my tent adventure.  A friend of mine and I were going to TX.  She had someone she wanted to visit there, which worked out nicely because I had a wedding I was hoping to go to.  We rented a car, and the plan was that we would drive to Dallas, and then I would take the car and drive to Houston on Saturday for the wedding, then stay the night with my sister who happens to live there and drive back to Dallas on Sunday.  Since my friend was staying with people in Dallas, it would not leave her completely stranded.  Well, on Thursday, I noted that what I thought was a bug bite was getting worse, which is unusual.  I didn’t think much of it until Friday (which happened to be my friend’s birthday) when it was significantly worse.  I went to the minute clinic where they told me I had a staph infection and gave me oral antibiotics, and told me if it does a, b or c that I needed to go to another clinic.  Well, it DID do a and b, so I went to another clinic, where they gave me an antibiotic shot and told me that if it does a, b or c, to go to the emergency room.  Yay.  So, the next day I am supposed to drive to a wedding, not go to the emergency room, although at this point, I can barely walk. 

I talked to my sister, who told me that if I get admitted to the hospital, it is most likely not going to be a short stay, and that I should come to Houston to go to the hospital so that I will be near family since, obviously, my friend was not staying in Dallas forever and then I’d be stuck in a hospital where I didn’t know anyone.  So, instead of my taking the rental car, my friend drove it and we met my sister half-way and I went back with her.  Needless to say, I did not make it to the wedding.

That night (which was Saturday) we went to the ER, and thankfully, they sent me home and said that they would expect the antibiotics to start kicking in (although there was no noticable difference until yesterday!).  So, now I had to figure out how to get back to Dallas to make it back to TN with my friend.  I opted for a bus trip so as not to put everyone out again.  I didn’t bank on the medicine making me sick.  I have never before been car sick in my life, and it was not pleasant on the Greyhound.  At least it gave me the warning I needed to take dramamine on the drive back to TN the next day. 

So, now, remember, I don’t live anywhere.  Tent living is probably not the best idea when you have a full-blown staph infection.  Hence the reason I am now staying in the apartment off of my ex-boyfriend’s mom’s house.  And unbeknownst to me, they moved furniture in here and had the carpets cleaned explicitly because I was going to stay.  I didn’t mean to be so much trouble. 

The friend I went to TX with said maybe this was happening because I am so independent.  Hmmm.  Well, this definitely makes me NOT independent.  I go to the dr. again today to get it all checked out.

However, in the meantime, I do think that God has been opening doors for me in other fronts.  I played my first (music) show in approximately two years in May.  I felt God impress me to submit my works to an event called “Women’s Work” put on by the Tennessee Women’s Theater Project, and was chosen as one of the singer/songwriter’s to play. 

And then I felt compelled to create a specific work of art (I woke up with a picture of exactly what I wanted to do in my head), and it led me to what I think is my favorite type of art to create so far.  And because of this, I felt led to create another piece and take it to a cool little shop here in Nashville to see if they would put it up for sale there.  And they did. 

And then someone randomly sent me a message through my “MySpace” music page, saying they wanted to book shows for me.  If you know me, you know that booking shows is one of my least favorite activities, and one of the reasons I never have shows!  I have my first show for them on July 3rd.  There is a clincher in that I am supposed to draw X number of people, so I have to work that out. 

The point is that God is definitely doing things, and as I said at the beginning of this, He knew I was about to go through hard things.  And I am.  And I feel like the are not finished yet.  But He has also worked some other great things out, and given me wonderful, supportive people in the meantime. 

I’m not really sure what He’s doing, but I know He is doing something.  And if He’s doing it, it’s good.  I’m not saying God has caused the bad things that have happened.  But He’s definitely working in them, and if I let Him, through them.

Advertisements

Going OUT the Door

I just moved into a house with a cat door.  This was a big bonus for me, because my cat is indoor/outdoor with no litter box inside.  This means I have to let him in and out frequently…and consistently around 5 or so in the morning.  Well, we’ve had the cat door for 2 1/2 weeks, and we are still adjusting.  I’m not sure what the answer is, but I think there is something I am supposed to learn from this. 

From the time I moved in, I have ONLY let my cat in and out the cat door (except for the times he slipped by me and I didn’t notice).  If he wanted out, I shoved him through the cat door.  If he wanted in, I went outside, and shoved him back through the cat door.  After a few days, I thought he had it down pretty good.  Well, at least he seemed to have coming IN down pretty good.  Going out is still a battle, and this is what I am writing about.  He definitely knows what the door is for.  And now when he obviously needs to go out, I don’t shove him through the cat door anymore.  I just make him stand in front of it until he goes out by himself.  Which he does.  Eventually.  After he stares at it and sniffs at it and paws at it for a few minutes.  Now, he MUST go out it when I am not here because I actually went out of town last weekend and left him here, just hoping he would use the door, and when I came back there were no accidents around anywhere.  However, I have never seen him use it when I am home without a) yowling at me for an hour (or more), me ignoring it, and him finally giving up and very tentatively going out or b) me making him stand in front of it as I mentioned above because I get tired of listening to the yowling.  I will say that we keep having some understandable setbacks.  I moved out into the country.  There are things a city cat is not used to.  The day they came to bury the phone line, with much digging right next to the house, was probably the worst day of my cat’s life (or you would have thought so by his sheer terror).  And the turkeys are pretty horrific.  I mean, if you didn’t know there were birds twice your size and you saw 6 of them coming at you, wouldn’t you run back in your little cat hole? 

Anyway, I thought, initially, that my cat would love having his own door.  Oh, the freedom!  (For both of us!)  But he seems to think that going out this door is some sort of punishment or chore that I am making him do.  He has not grasped that he can come and go at will.  However, if I push the cat door open, he will walk through it.  It’s like because I am there when he wants to go out, he thinks I am just supposed to do all of the work for him, but when he is outside and I am not outside, he knows to do it all himself.

Thing to learn #1:  Just because something is routine does not mean it is necessarily the best way to do things.  Leo and I had a routine.  That routine has changed.  The change, if Leo lets it be, is for his benefit.  But he doesn’t like it because it is change. 

Thing to learn #2:  Sometimes we are supposed to do things for ourselves.  Sometimes God provides a door, but He really does want US to push it open and go through ourselves.  He gives us the freedom to choose, but instead of seeing the freedom, we see the work we must do in order to accomplish it.  Freedom comes with responsibility.  There is no freedom to come and/or go as you please without determining if coming and/or going is a good idea.  The nature of freedom is that YOU are the one making the decisions, which requires action, thought and foresight on your own part.  Freedom is not the easy road where someone else does everything for you.  I am not saying that God tells us to call our own shots in every situation.  Just saying that sometimes He does.  Because sometimes what we need, in order to discover what is good for us, is to make the decisions and follow through ourselves.  God is not being mean when He makes you do things for yourself.  He is saying, “Look!  Look what I have enabled you to do!”  It is taking a step forward in our spiritual maturity when God slowly gives us more and more responsibility and takes away the safety nets we have grown comfortable in.

Thing to learn #3:  Sometimes the thing God provides the door to is scary.  Sometimes it takes us out of our protective shelter and sends us into things that are unknown and frightening.  I think possibly that this is part of the reason He wants us to make our own decision to go through the door.  He wants us to come to a level of understanding where we can recognize that scary things are not necessarily bad things.  Unknown things are not necessarily bad things.  For instance, I know that the turkeys are probably not going to hurt my cat.  I mean, I guess if they got into a fight, I don’t know that he would win, but the likelihood of him getting into a fight with some turkeys is pretty slim, right?  He does not know this.  He just sees unknown creatures that are big enough to be a threat.  There are a lot of things out there that might look scary to us until we understand what they are…and Who is behind us.  Meaning God.  He’s got our back.  He doesn’t send us out a door unprotected or unready.  If we walk through a door unprepared, that is because we picked the door ourselves.  This does not mean that life will be peachy outside the door.  Just that whatever the thing is that He is sending us out the door to accomplish will be worth whatever risk we are taking by going out it.  And I warrant that going out the door will come to be enjoyable and rewarding, whatever the risks, once we let go of whatever it is out there that we fear. 

I feel like there are more things to learn from this, but I have to ponder a bit and it is time for me to get ready for church.  Ciao.

How Bad Things Can Be Good

Well, I am moved.  I have been moved for 2 weeks, but it does not quite seem like it.  I didn’t have internet for the first week and a half, and I’ve been playing catch-up otherwise.  I am somewhat calmed down from my frenzy, although I still have tons of things I want to do.  My place is unpacked and settled if not quite how I envision it when I finish all of my projects.

There were several things that happened around the move that reminded me that even things that get on your nerves can be positive sometimes.  To put it God’s way, “All things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  That is something that is easy to forget when things happen that are frustrating or annoying or not how you planned or due to someone else’s mistakes. 

Situation 1:  I work for a caterer, you know.  And at this job, I do almost all of the office work, some serving at events, a smattering of food preparation, and if there are no males around, anything you would get the “guy” to do, i.e. taking out the trash, breaking down the boxes, climbing the ladders, carrying the heavy things.  I don’t mind doing this stuff when I’m there.  However, it can be a point of contention for me when it comes to the boxes.  These are not like packing boxes – they are boxes made to transport fruit and stapled and folded and doubled, etc.  They’re tough boxes.  No one else wants to break them down.  So, for a while there, I would come to work after not being there for a few days and there would be stacks of un-broken down boxes all waiting for me.  Doing it when I’m there is one thing.  Having stacks of boxes that will not be taken by the trash pick-up left outside getting gross for me to breakdown when I get there is another thing.  It started getting on my nerves.  I mentioned it to my boss.  You know, that it would be good if someone else would break down the boxes when I am not there.  She mentioned it to the other girls, and it has drastically improved, but there are still the days where I come in to random un-broken down boxes lying around.  The day before I moved I worked for my caterer, and this is what I found.  Only this time, I had run out of packing boxes when I only had a few small things (read, difficult to carry individually) to pack.  There were just enough un-broken down boxes at my caterer’s to fit all of those little odds and ends I needed to pack.  And so, what usually gets on my nerves was, that day, exactly the thing that I needed. 

This next thing actually involves something that is annoying to someone else and not me, because it involves their things and not mine.  It counts, though, as an example for what I am talking about.  The day of the move, we used my boyfriend’s band bus, my caterer’s van and various friend’s cars.  The fun part was that the power steering went out on the band bus the night before on the way back from their band’s show.  If you’ve ever driven a car when the power steering went out, you can imagine the difficulty that presents in a bus.  My boyfriend was trying to figure out if it was a quick fix of adding power steering fluid, so he took the catering van to the store to get some.  (I just drove the van home from work, so I did not even have my car.)  He came back and that was not the issue, so he just had to drive the bus with no power steering.  Because of this and the fact that I moved to a place on a very curvy road, he decided he would leave before the rest of us because he would have to be driving so slowly and he didn’t want anyone else to have to wait.  He left, and then about 10 minutes later, the rest of us were about to get into our respective vehicles and head out when it occurred to me that he never gave the keys for the catering van back to me after taking it to the store.  Uh-oh.  I said, “I hope he left the keys to the van in the ignition.”  Someone looked.  He didn’t.  Uh-oh.  This meant that he and I would have to come back later and then take the van & unpack it by ourselves because everyone else was not coming back to my old place.  Not the end of the world, but definitely an annoyance.  Well, my catering boss finally a couple of months ago had multiple extra sets made of her keys because they would frequently be accidentally taken home by whomever drove to whatever event we had going on.  This was, of course, not good when she needed to drive her vehicles the next day only to find there were no keys.  The day of my move, one of my catering co-workers was helping me.  When we realized I had no keys to “Bertha,” as the catering van is affectionately dubbed, this friend pipes up, “Wait!  I think I accidentally took a set of Bertha keys home the other day…I think they’re still in my car!”  She runs to her car, and emerges, triumphantly, with a set of Bertha keys.  Moving crisis averted all because of something that is a continual frustration to my boss…forgetting to return keys.

The third situation involves my cat.  I think I have mentioned his obsession with the linen closet before.  Well, while I was taking a shower the morning of the move, he managed to get in there, and I thought, “That’s not actually a bad idea.”  And I closed him in so I would be able to find him when it was time to leave with him.  Since he is indoor/outdoor, with all the commotion of people moving everything and doors being open constantly, I knew he would disappear somewhere outside and I wouldn’t be able to find him when it was time to go.  He did not mind being shut in there, so this is not like a punishment if you are worrying about him.  So, we loaded the bulk of my things and only left my cat and some cleaning supplies at the old place.  I don’t like to take him in the initial run because he gets freaked out driving anyway, and I would have to leave him in the carrier until everything was inside and doors closed.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking him to an entirely new place, not giving him a chance to get acclimated and then him running around outside.  Anyway, after we unloaded everything at the new place, we went back to my old house to do a final cleaning and pick up the cat.  He is a terrible traveler – always gets sick or goes to the bathroom in his carrier…he’s just terrified.  My boyfriend recommended tying his collar to my porch so that we could maybe get him to go to the bathroom before we got in the car, but still be able to find him when we needed to leave.  I decided it was worth a try.  I think it was not such a good idea.  🙂  Try tying up a cat who has never been tied up before.  He was NOT happy.  But he was out there, and I was cleaning inside, when I was informed that he had made a break for it.  I went outside to find that he did not just slip out of his collar.  He BROKE it.  OK, tying up not such a good plan.  Of course, then he was mad and disappeared and would not come when I called him.  I had to leave, though, because I had some pieces of furniture that I had bought to pick up from people while I still had the van, and I also needed to get some necessities at the store before heading back.  These errands were kind of lengthy, because I had to drive about an hour out of my way to pick up the furniture and I had two different things to pick up, plus you know how things just take longer than you think they will.  It ended up taking us about 4 hours before we were ready to go back to my new place, at which point we stopped back by my old house, my cat came running, and I scooped him up & took off.  And it all worked out beautifully.  I don’t think driving my terrified cat around for 4 hours would have been a very good idea, or at least it would not have been very positive.  Initially, I was frustrated that I had to go back and get him.  In the end, it was the best scenario. 

Now, these are all sort of petty situations.  There was nothing severely detrimental.  But they were clear pictures of how things I think of as bad can end up being good.  The bottom line is that if it happens in petty things, it can happen in important things as well.  And I am sure that most of the time we are not able to see the full circle of events enough to understand this.  These events were clustered and it was spread out in front of me like a lesson plan so I could see the beginning and the end of how it all worked together.  I’m hoping that I can translate this into a little bit of faith…that I would be able to accept events calmly as they come and not freak out about whatever difficulties they bring…that instead of waiting until, if ever, I can understand how they work for good, I will trust God’s word and know that what He said in Romans 8:28 is true.  Because it is.

Have I Mentioned My Cat?

His name is Leo, and he’s kind of a character.  I think he’s pretty smart for a cat…I have to have child locks on my kitchen cabinets, because he knows how to open them and likes to get in there and sleep with my pots.  I don’t like furry pots – hence the child locks.  He goes on water strike if I will not put a pitcher of water on the floor for him to drink, even if he has a full water bowl.  I made the mistake of putting the pitcher down on the floor one day while I was watering my plants, and since then, he will not drink out of anything else, except sometimes the faucet in the bathroom sink.  If I take the pitcher up, he stands in the kitchen and meows when he gets thirsty.  Leo has had many close brushes with death, the most expensive scariest being his dog fight resulting in a collapsed lung and multiple puncture wounds.  He’s also had a severe allergic reaction to his vaccinations resulting in swelling to a size much larger than his already gigantic 16 Lb. cat frame, and he’s been stepped on, resulting in a broken leg and surgery to put a pin in…and follow-up surgery to take the pin out.  You get the point.  My “free” stray cat has literally had more spent in medical expense than I have in the 8 1/2 years I’ve owned him. 

But, as most pet-owners, I believe he is worth it.  He’s been with me through 4 moves, and lived with my brother & sister-in-law for a year.  I taught him how to use the toilet once, and, yes, he actually did it.  But only for a few weeks.  I don’t think he liked it, so he stopped, and being an indoor/outdoor cat, just started holding it until I let him outside, which was also fine with me.  I just didn’t want to deal with a litter box anymore. 

I’m bringing him up because I wanted to tell you how he decided to “help” me with my art project last week…so sweet – him taking an interest in my life.  He is actually usually pretty good about staying out of the way while I’m working, except for the time he stepped in oil paint and then continued walking through the house before I realized it and the time he started chewing on one of my smaller paint brushes, and broke it in two.  But really, he usually doesn’t take that much of an interest.  Not so with my latest project.  Apparently, my materials were intriguing to cat intellect. 

First, he was trying to sharpen his claws on the trim I bought for building my frame (as discussed in my Art Projects post).  This was, of course, dissuaded by me.  Then I had several sheets of tissue paper out, and he thought he needed one.  I gave him some newspaper to distract him, and put it across the room (although across the room is not very far in my house).  This worked for a few minutes.  Then, he decided that in addition to the pitcher on the kitchen floor, the bowl of water I had been rinsing my paint brushes in for two days was a good thing to drink out of.  Then, I had my painting laid out on the floor, and he thought he needed to get on it.  Repeatedly. 

I finally resorted to opening the linen closet, with which he has an obsession, and letting him get in there.  That worked until I got things to a point that I could pick them up off of floor.  I usually don’t let him get into the linen closet, because he likes to sleep behind the towels, and he has been mistakenly closed in there for full days more than once.   Besides the fact that I also do not like furry towels.

So, here are some pictures of my cat, further displaying his quirkiness:

As most cats do, he loves to get into boxes…mostly he likes to attack people from inside them.

7-7-04-009.jpg

And he likes to get into boxes even if he doesn’t fit into them…I tried to tell him.

boxleo3.jpg

Evidence of his obsession with the linen closet:

leo-towel1.jpg

He likes to sleep like this, but it looks like he has full-on rigormortis:

leoveg.jpg

And he thinks he is a person, and likes to sleep like this, using my headboard as a pillow…ok, ok, I made the bed up around him.  I couldn’t resist.  But otherwise, he really does sleep like this.

image041.jpg

And this is a pretty normal picture of him sleeping in the basket he usurped as his permanent bed after refusing at least 3 store-bought cat beds.  I thought he would get tired of it, but it’s been over 2 years now, and he still sleeps in it regularly.

img_0554.jpg

And that’s my cat.