Some of you may perhaps have noticed that I haven't been around much recently, nor have I been updating Justice. I'm dropping in to say hello and to let you all know what's going on with me.
I last posted at the end of January. Around that time I was working away on my Regency novel. I had told myself that I wanted to hit 35,000 words-- the halfway point of the novel-- before I went back to work on fan fiction. My reasoning was that if I don't try to push my original writing projects a little more front and center in that limited area of my life reserved for 'free time', it was just never going to happen. So I set myself a goal. Write 35K and then return to Justice. But then a bunch of other things happened.
I remember the night I hit my 35K goal. It was Friday, February 8th. I stayed up late writing, and closed my computer with a feeling of satisfaction. My plan was to let what I had accomplished on my Regency book percolate by itself for a while and then I would get back to it after I had finished Justice, chapter 28, which was on my slate for that weekend.
Early on the morning of the 9th, Fluffy asked to go out as usual at about 5:30 a.m. At 10:00 a.m., I woke up and called him at the kitchen door while I was waiting for the kettle to boil. I called him several times, but he didn't come. After about half an hour, I realized something must be wrong, and I put my shoes on and went out to look for him. I found him curled up in the long grass in the front yard. He was weak and couldn't seem to get up, but was very pleased to see me. I carried him inside and tried to brush him, as per his schedule, before his meal. But he could barely stand up and he wasn't interested in breakfast. To say I was worried was an understatement. Then he tried to walk toward his cat bed which was under the kitchen table, but he couldn't walk in a straight line and crashed into the garbage bin and fell down. I was already on my computer googling 'cat falling down, what's wrong?' I was afraid it was a stroke. Fluffy got up and tried to walk more but kept falling down. I quickly woke up my husband to watch him while I called the animal hospital.
Long story short, it wasn't a stroke. It was his heart. His left ventricle wasn't draining properly as the aortic valve was collapsing. His lungs were filling up with fluid.The problem was unfixable. He needed heart surgery, but heart surgery is not an option for cats. My husband and I were in and out of the animal hospital over the next five days. The end inevitably came. It was so hard for us to return home without him, and see his toys, his beds, and his dishes. I was deeply grateful that my husband was there, and that he was as sad about Fluffy's loss as I was. I couldn't imagine how awful it would have been if I had had to return home alone with my grief and been faced with memories of Fluffy in every square foot of my house.
Unfortunately, that week, my work suddenly exploded with new business, and things have not settled down even now. I spent the two weeks following Fluffy's death sobbing as quietly as possible through clenched teeth over my keyboard in my office. I still miss my cat terribly. With only a small amount of concentration, I can feel his weight in my arms, the press of his little 'hands' and feet, soft toe pads with the gentle prickle of his claws underneath. I can feel the tickle of his whiskers, the incredible softness of his fur. I can remember what he smelled like, and the lovely calming vibration that passed from his body to mine when he purred.
I would have spent anything, done anything, to make him well. He was only thirteen (we estimate). I was hoping to get a few more years with him. But we humans mostly outlive our pets, and the sad day of parting always comes.
Fluffy's simple death from a failing heart caught me totally by surprise. He was completely normal even the day before he fell ill. He had been slowing down a bit, but we attributed that to the fact that he was getting older. If there is one thing I have learned from this, it's to take future cats for electrocardiograms and ultrasounds of their hearts annually, starting at about age eight. If a cat has congenital heart disease, there's not much that can be done, but I keep thinking that if I had known about this a couple of years ago, we could have perhaps gotten him on medication. I don't know if it could have prevented the thickening of his heart wall or the collapsing of his aortic valve, but maybe it could have bought him another year or two of life.
I have made considerable reforms to my lifestyle since he died.Regaining and maintaining my health is now a top priority in my life, whereas I took my body for granted before. I eat smaller, healthier meals and have cut back dramatically on sweets and alcohol. For a while there I was trying to go to bed by 10:30 p.m., but now that I work 12 to 14 hours per day, I can't really go to bed at a normal time anymore.
It's really my work schedule more than anything that has led to my being unable to write. Since February, I have become a creature of work, and it's not anything I really have a choice about. I am self-employed, and business is finally rolling in after an extremely iffy year and a half. I have no time for myself at the moment, and it's frustrating for everyone because my family hardly ever sees me anymore. Above all I need sleep. If I do get a bit of free time, I can't concentrate. I remember feeling like this long ago when I worked in Japan. At that time, I worked from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 pm plus commuting time, 28 or 29 days of the month. On my two days off per month, all I could do was drink coffee and stare at the wall while my thoughts rolled along on their own undirected paths.
Today is my birthday and I took the day off work. To get this day off, I had to work fifteen hours yesterday. Unfortunately, I was mentally wired all night and couldn't sleep until five a.m. I kept returning to bed, only to toss and turn and think about my clients. Finally I took a bath at about 4:00 a.m. and got a little bit sleepy. I'm running on about 4 hours of sleep today, the same as yesterday. I was hoping to be able to write a FAKE one-shot, but unfortunately I can't concentrate.
To be clear, I am not going to abandon Justice, or my dream of publishing original M/M novels. I just don't know what to do right now except try to get through each day as it comes.
Now I know that everything I have written so far has been one long streak of misery, so here's a bit of good news! Since February I have lost 20 lbs, which is a side effect of my new, healthier habits. Also, I got a much-needed pedicure today. We're having a bit of a heat wave here, and I realized I could no longer get away with wearing tights and boots, which meant exposing my pallid legs and scary-looking toenails to the censorious eyes of the world. My legs may still be pallid, but so are everyone else's! My toenails, however, are now a beautiful sparkly light brown shade which will go with everything in my wardrobe. I am about to go and buy myself a new skirt. I need to get out of Starbucks anyway. They're having a half price frappucino promo which means that blenders are constantly grinding up ice cubes at deafening decibel levels, plus the place is packed to the doors like a nightclub. Did I mention we're having a heat wave? I think everyone wants a cold drink for half price. Time to go shopping.
Anyway, I hope you all will continue to check on me from time to time. I still have hopes of things going back to normal. August is usually a slow time in my business, but I'm hoping to get my workflow under better control long before then, even if it means saying no to new business for a while.
Thanks to all the people who sent me PMs and emails and posted birthday wishes on their journals for me!
*Stallianna, as per your request, I enjoyed my Starbucks coffee for you. I had a mocha with extra whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Yum!*