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The now of December 2019

The big news this month is KITTENS. Meet Criminy and Crivens, whom FunkyPlaid and I adopted in mid-November from Cat Adoption Team.

These stray tabby brothers were expertly fostered, so it took them no time at all to adjust to their new home with us. At their fourth-month veterinary check-in this month, they had nearly tripled in weight!

Their foster names were Walnut and Chestnut, and they had two more siblings we never got to meet: Cashew, who was adopted right before them, and Almond, who is a bit of a mystery to us. We’re both sad and relieved by this missed connection: we can’t imagine only adopting two after meeting the whole family.

It had been decades since either of us had raised a kitten, and we’ve never raised two at once, so to write “it has been a learning experience” is both an understatement and sounds way less fun than we’ve been having. Crivens and Criminy are a delight as a brotherly-bonded unit and as individuals with very distinct personalities starting to emerge.

Mostly they are babies. And so everything is brand-new and therefore exciting. Sure, the things we have acquired for them like the cat tree, play tunnel, and window seat are pretty good, but they much prefer hoodie strings! Bathtub! Kitchen counters! Worn socks! The inside of the grandfather clock (sigh). Christmas tree! And each other. They really, really, really love each other. As I write this, they are play-fighting on their cat tree, and Criminy is attempting to fit Crivens’ entire head into his mouth. Sideways. It’s the best.

As expected, the joy these two bring doesn’t change the nature of my grief over losing Zen, but caring for our new family members has been a more productive focus of my energy. I still miss Zen every day; I imagine I always will. The pain is less acute, most days, more like a lingering bruise I forget about long enough to whack it good and hard with a careless motion.


I thought I might participate in Holidailies this year, and I was off to an okay start, but finally embraced the fact that I am just enough of a contrarian to resent the forced structure of daily challenges. Even my past Project 365 challenges were arduous to maintain. It wasn’t the pressure to create that sapped my enthusiasm, but rather the pressure to create within timed constraints. I never seemed to have enough time to do all the things.

And then I read Cal Newport’s book “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” and realization after realization crashed over me. It wasn’t about time, but about focus. In my desperate attempt to avoid FOMO – the fear of missing out – I have thrown myself into every new online service and group I discover, only to run out of energy to participate. It’s a basic math problem: a finite amount of energy divided among an increasing number of groups results in decreasing amounts of focus paid to each group. In plainer terms: I’m not participating in any one thing well because I’m too busy participating in everything badly.

Newport suggests a digital declutter to make participation more intentional. I had already turned off notifications from social media apps on my phone, but this week I decided to delete everything except Micro.blog and only check the rest once a week from my home computer. I’ll ask the people who only message me via these apps to email, text, or call (😱) instead if they need to reach me urgently. It will be a big adjustment but one I am eager to make.

I took notes on “Digital Minimalism” but opted not to share those notes or review the book publicly – a choice that I am telling myself is 100% okay to make so I can spend my time on other things I find more rewarding – but someone I know through Micro.blog posted his review and reference notes for “Digital Minimalism”. And if you use Firefox (which I recommend) here’s a plug for the Library Extension add-on which checks your local library’s holdings while you’re browsing books and e-books online.


Other things that happened this month:

  • I worked a lot, and I got crispy. Everything else suffered. I am working hard to establish some boundaries around when I work from home on top of an already-strenuous workweek.
  • I attended a friend’s short story reading, which made me yearn for some regular storytelling outlet. I miss writing and performing so much.
  • FunkyPlaid and I watched “The Mandalorian” which I assume one has to be a lover of Westerns and an avowed Star Wars fan to appreciate. I was mostly bored.
  • We also saw “The Rise of Skywalker” which I really enjoyed. And I’m not sad that this film cycle is finally over; I get why it is culturally important, and General Leia Organa will always be one of my heroes, but I’m ready to celebrate new stories with less toxic fandoms.


It’s the end of the year (and the end of the decade, depending on who you ask), and although I am no longer so naïve to think that everything changes once the calendar page turns, I still savor the anticipation packed into the last few days of the year. Today I’ll crack open my new Passion Planner and try to capture some of that excitement. May your new year contain kindness, good health, camaraderie, and peace. And kittens.

My heart filled with holiday cheer when I heard my coworkers call my name up the staff stairwell to make sure I didn’t get left behind after closing tonight. I love my library family! #librarylife

My heart filled with holiday cheer when I heard my coworkers call my name up the staff stairwell to make sure I didn’t get left behind after closing tonight. I love my library family! #librarylife

I am having such a morose holiday season this year. I miss my Zenny cat so much. Each day I am utterly grateful for the support of my beloved @FunkyPlaid, who has never judged me for feeling sad, no matter when it happens.

I am having such a morose holiday season this year. I miss my Zenny cat so much. Each day I am utterly grateful for the support of my beloved @FunkyPlaid, who has never judged me for feeling sad, no matter when it happens.

My spoiler-free review of #TheRiseOfSkywalker: It was a fitting end to the story. I loved it.

My spoiler-free review of #TheRiseOfSkywalker: It was a fitting end to the story. I loved it.

I don’t know if what I just made could really be considered pho, but substituting spaghetti squash for noodles worked out way better than I anticipated. Calling it a win.

I don’t know if what I just made could really be considered pho, but substituting spaghetti squash for noodles worked out way better than I anticipated. Calling it a win.

Living with two four-month old kittens involves a lot of half-listening for the general sound of congenial mayhem … and when it is silent, knowing with a cold certainty that they have Discovered Something that is about to be destroyed.

Living with two four-month old kittens involves a lot of half-listening for the general sound of congenial mayhem … and when it is silent, knowing with a cold certainty that they have Discovered Something that is about to be destroyed.

Crivens and Criminy at their four-month checkup. I’m trying not to be maudlin when posting these, but they are growing up so fast!

Crivens and Criminy at their four-month checkup. I’m trying not to be maudlin when posting these, but they are growing up so fast!

I’m rewatching Part II of The OA, which is one of my all-time favorite stories. My lifetime writing goal is to someday tell a story that impacts others the way this story has impacted me.

I’m rewatching Part II of The OA, which is one of my all-time favorite stories. My lifetime writing goal is to someday tell a story that impacts others the way this story has impacted me.

Criminy & Crivens have discovered the front window this morning. We are watching their minds being blown.

Criminy & Crivens have discovered the front window this morning. We are watching their minds being blown.

Criminy prefers to perch.

Criminy prefers to perch.

Crivens loves to snuggle.

Crivens loves to snuggle.

My Holidailies fell off the rails when I accidentally ingested gluten over the weekend and I haven’t bothered to restart it because let’s face it all I want to do is talk about my kittens and can you blame me? No, no you cannot.

My Holidailies fell off the rails when I accidentally ingested gluten over the weekend and I haven’t bothered to restart it because let’s face it all I want to do is talk about my kittens and can you blame me? No, no you cannot.

An adoption story

Before we met Crivens and Criminy, FunkyPlaid and I visited a local cat café, thinking that we might meet some kittens for adoption, or at least get to play with and cuddle some cute cats. When we arrived, we soon discovered that the vibe of the cat café was much like being invited to a party by friends who then didn’t show up. We hung out awkwardly and watched other guests attempt to catch the interest of very sleepy cats.

Later that afternoon, we had scheduled an appointment to meet some foster kittens nearby. Although those kittens were adorable, we knew pretty much instantly that they weren’t our kittens. The two experiences together made me sad, and made me long for the straightforward choice of my Zen all those years ago. I didn’t know what she would be like as a companion; I chose her because I wanted to save her. It was that simple.

Three weeks ago, FunkyPlaid and I decided to visit the Cat Adoption Team facility in Sherwood. After filling out some paperwork, an adoption volunteer led us into the kitten playroom, and I had only just stepped inside the door when I saw the brothers. I gasped (I am prone to dramatic outbursts, it’s true) and as soon as we each held them, we knew they were the ones we wanted to adopt. Each day since then has been an affirmation of that moment. “Lucky” doesn’t seem to cover it.

Sometimes I feel so guilty, though. When I fall asleep at night, I wish for Zen to visit me in my dreams and give me some sign that it is okay to love these new babies so much. If she could give me that sort of affirmation, I don’t know that she would: she never did love sharing me with anyone else.

An adoption story

Before we met Crivens and Criminy, FunkyPlaid and I visited a local cat café, thinking that we might meet some kittens for adoption, or at least get to play with and cuddle some cute cats. When we arrived, we soon discovered that the vibe of the cat café was much like being invited to a party by friends who then didn’t show up. We hung out awkwardly and watched other guests attempt to catch the interest of very sleepy cats.

Later that afternoon, we had scheduled an appointment to meet some foster kittens nearby. Although those kittens were adorable, we knew pretty much instantly that they weren’t our kittens. The two experiences together made me sad, and made me long for the straightforward choice of my Zen all those years ago. I didn’t know what she would be like as a companion; I chose her because I wanted to save her. It was that simple.

Three weeks ago, FunkyPlaid and I decided to visit the Cat Adoption Team facility in Sherwood. After filling out some paperwork, an adoption volunteer led us into the kitten playroom, and I had only just stepped inside the door when I saw the brothers. I gasped (I am prone to dramatic outbursts, it’s true) and as soon as we each held them, we knew they were the ones we wanted to adopt. Each day since then has been an affirmation of that moment. “Lucky” doesn’t seem to cover it.

Sometimes I feel so guilty, though. When I fall asleep at night, I wish for Zen to visit me in my dreams and give me some sign that it is okay to love these new babies so much. If she could give me that sort of affirmation, I don’t know that she would: she never did love sharing me with anyone else.

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I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.