Friday, June 5, 2015

Heh. Run li'l piggy, run!

Well. There I am. Taking a topless bathroom selfie for all to behold the glory of my love handles. World, I apologize. And more so because this is an improvement.

In January I went to a doctor because I was having some really sharp pains around my prostate. Probably chronic nonbacterial prostatitis (something I have, complete with flair ups), but it was a unique in that usually that pain is a heavy pulsing/throbbing type agony and shifts throughout everything unmentionable in that region. So my doctor put me on an antibiotic, just in case it was a bacterial infection.

It may or may not have been. But the antibiotics caused another. C Diff. Which if you don't know anything about it, it's a highly resistant asshole of a bacteria that emits toxic gases in your intestines. And about ten percent of people just have it. Not a lot of it. Nothing to get excited about. But it can't be killed by most antibiotics so when you're on antibiotics and killing off every other bit of flora in your gut, it suddenly has all the room in the world to populate.

So when your entire GI track is full of C diff, it's a problem. Non-stop watery diarrhea while feeling like your entire body is going to explode. And the only reason you don't explode is because you're constantly shitting yourself raw along with farting and belching.

I looked inflated. Puffy and massive. And it didn't help that I weighed in at 206 lbs, even without all the toxic fumes puffing me up.

So I spent some time at the hospital. I spent some time being misdiagnosed and given drugs to stop the diarrhea, which apparently prevented me from flushing out bunches of the C Diff. So then I was admitted into the hospital and put on much stronger antibiotics to kill the stuff once and for all.

The thing is, it didn't kill it. I was having serious digestive problems for another month and the C Diff came back on Easter. So I was on another round of ultra powerful antibiotics. Tons of digestive issues, yada yada. 

The point is, people have started telling me how thin I look, and what's my secret? Well, for having lost twenty five pounds, my secret is having shat myself stupid for three months and keeping to a diet of basically toast and applesauce because everything else is agonizing.

Thankfully I discovered I can juice my vegetables. And sunflower seeds seem to be pretty easy on my system.

Anyway, now that I'm used to this diet and am actually eating pretty well because of it, I'm looking in the mirror and thinking these are changes I can continue with. I can continue eating better. I can be healthier.

I also think about murdering anybody who has a slice of pizza or can of Coke in front of me, but that's beside the point.

So my body seems to be plateauing right around 180 lbs. At one of my jobs I'm on my feet all day, but it clearly isn't enough to keep my body weight going down. And I'd like to get myself down to around 150 lbs. That feels like a reasonable goal. It feels like I got halfway there in a completely horrible, awful wrong way. So the rest I'm going to have to do the right way. So on top of being on my feet at work, I need to start exercising. I need to tone and work out. I want to look good.

Okay, okay. More specifically, when I wear my Batman symbol t-shirt, I want people on the street to think, "You know... he might just be the Batman... No. No. He couldn't be... But maybe..."

So to get myself off my feet and attempt to realize my highly unrealistic goal of being Batman, I decided to start running. And then after another couple of days, I found the energy to dig my old running shoes out of the closet and dig within the deep recesses of clothes I'll never wear again and probably should've donated forever ago to find some of my old work out clothes. And amazingly, I discovered that having lost what weight I did meant I fit into some of them.

So I went for a jog. Not that far. Nothing to be proud of. I made it about a block and a half before I was out of breath. So roughly a third of a mile. But instead of turning around, I picked a direction and kept walking. And as soon as I caught my breath, I started jogging again. And again. So in the end I made it about a mile and half, jogging/mostly walking. Again, not that far. Nothing at all to be proud of. But I want to lose this weight. I want to be in better health. And I most definitely don't want to look like that above picture when I know I can be better to myself if I just give the effort.

Anyway, I got home from my jog. I checked my phone for all the calls and text messages I hadn't missed. And I went upstairs to shower. So I got in the bathroom, looked myself over in the mirror, and then noticed the sweat stain on my shirt. Kind of a V shape, with wings. 

... Wait a minute?! NIGHTWING?

Well... It's a step in the right direction. I guess.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Helicopter seeds

I've been doing yard work at my grandparents' house for the couple of months.

I know. I know.

There really isn't much to say beyond mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, trimming hedges, and awkwardly waving to suspicious neighbors.

I assume they all think I'm a prowler.

Probably because of the mask.

Anyway, my grandparents' backyard has several massive trees in it. Plenty of shade, but come springtime, there tends to be a slight overflow of helicopter seeds.

I mean, A LOT of helicopter seeds.


So my question to all of you is, anybody know of a country anywhere that accepts these as currency?

Or perhaps some well off nature conversationalist groups are looking to start a forest somewhere?

Anybody on Etsy looking to mass produce their helicopter seed art?

Maybe a flight school with a severe budget is trying to teach future helicopter pilots about airflow, rotation, lift, and all that sort of stuff?

Or maybe one of you out there is in more of a Breaking Bad type situation and and knows the exact chemistry to turn these bad boys into something a little more addicting?

I'm just saying I have plenty. PLENTY.

I don't even know if there are animals that eat them.Certainly not around here.

Anyway, with no working leaf blower in sight, I swept them all up into a pile on the driveway.

 Nobody should ever have that many helicopter seeds. I can't give you an exact quantity, but there are enough here to fill two and a half garbage cans.

And what a waste. All because I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with them.

Well... except for the one thing.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A salty piece of land

I should preface this in saying that I know it's a bad idea and destructive for at least a couple of environments on Earth. But just of the sake of conversation, I woke up thinking about the polar ice caps. I can't imagine why. Last night I fell asleep contemplating the idea that I don't read as well as I used to. My dreams mostly consisted of having parasites in my intestines (which turned out to be the worm thingies from Tremors). 

But for whatever reason I woke up contemplating the polar ice caps shrinking at an alarming rate, the ocean levels rising, polar bears drowning, and the entire planet baking as a result.

"Okay," I thought. "I'm sick of this shit. I need to rebuild the ice caps right fucking now."

Why this duty fell solely on me, an amateur author with minimal scientific experience and no previous travel to anywhere polar, I really couldn't say. But in my pre-coffee haze I couldn't think of anybody else to tackle the problem. Surely not the well studied individuals who understand the ice caps. All those guys think about is the problem and -dammit- we need a solution.

I started to consider my resources.

My first thought was that the ice cube maker in my freezer was pretty full. Since we moved into this house, I doubt it's ever once been even half empty. So all this time I've had ice on hand, perfectly suited polar purposes and I've been too lazy to donate it.

But would that really help? I mean, even if I managed to get all that ice North, tweet about it, and get everybody else with a freezer to do the same, it's still ice. If there's one thing we know about ice in the North, it melts. A lot. At increasing rates every year.

But it also keeps wildlings out...

...I spent a moment considering that if the people of Westeros -who can't even go a single wedding without somebody being raped or murdered- could ban together to build a snow fort, in spite of winter just ending and there probably being very, very few of them, then surely the people of Earth muster up the tolerance to do the same. I mean, obviously Canada is going to have to do most of the heavy lifting on this one, but the rest of us can chip in as well.

There was still the problem of the ice though. If everything keeps melting the way it likes to, all that effort is only adding to the problem. We lost all that ice in our freezers and probably made the oceans rise a little bit higher than they would've before. So anything water based is probably a bad idea. We need some alternative to ice with similar properties but able to withstand the heat.

At first I considered the idea of staking out thousands of white, reflective sheets to reflect the Sun's rays. But the logistics seemed awful. They'll get covered in snow. They'll rip. Heavy winds will knock them out of place. And most of the world is capitalist. There's nobody around who's going to continuously manufacture and transport tons and tons of giant sheets without a pretty solid profit. And nobody else is going to want to finance those greedy bastards. So I needed a more permanent solution. Something solid, white, reflective, able to withstand heat, easily mass produced, and cheap.

When the bright spot on Saturn's moon, Ceres, was discovered astronomers were considering the possibility that it was composed of ice or salt. Just look at how much it's reflecting the Sun's rays.

Gandhi led the Salt March in 1930, in which thousands of people protested against British rule in India by making salt along the shores of the Arabian Sea. The British had a monopoly on salt, forcing people to purchase it. To which Gandhi said something along the lines of, "Oh yeah?! Well -KAPOW- I don't need your stupid salt!" Actually, I'm pretty sure those were his exact words. But for our purposes that doesn't matter. The point is simply that making salt is easy and pretty much anybody can do it.

Let me again say that I know this is a terrible idea. I definitely lack any sort of qualifications to suggest an actual good idea. But hear me out. Don't take me seriously. But hear me out.

As far as reflecting the sun's rays, from a far enough distance, salt is very similarly reflective. And we have oceans full of it. We have way more salt than we even know what to do with. More than we could use in thousands of life times. Not to mention that the current ice caps are the world's largest supply of fresh water.

Have any of you been to California recently? The water situation isn't pretty. And the same goes for, well, pretty much everywhere. We need fresh water. The ice caps have it. But we can't take anything without replacing it because we still need to keep Earth within a certain temperature range and reflect those damn, dirty cosmic rays.

Now, there's still the problem of the world's oceans rising. We're taking all that ice and cultivating fresh water, which will no doubt pour back into the oceans. I haven't done the math here (but if you pass this blog around enough somebody will, and likely win an award for actually freaking doing it), but if we desalinate the oceans enough to make artificial polar caps, surely that will lower the water levels. Enough? Maybe not. But keep desalinating. Build a giant salt wall to protect us from those pesky wildlings. We'll get there. Remove a component from a solution, and everything that remains won't fill as much space.

Let's say we make too much salt and the world starts to freeze? We find ourselves a shovel and dump it back into the oceans. 

Yes, just one shovel. At least if we can find one big enough. Otherwise, maybe a few.

Okay, so we stopped the oceans from rising, brought fresh water to the people, and figured out how to manipulate the polar caps enough to turn them into a giant, natural thermostat. But in doing so we're creating several other problems. Or at least one glaring problem I only have wise-ass solutions for. If we desalinate all of the oceans, we destroy the natural environment for not only all the animals and both documentary film makers who live on the polar ice caps, we also wipe out everything living in the oceans who survive at specific salinity levels. Sure. For some species that isn't a problem. For most, it is. And there are several schools of thought on how to handle this. One, we were killing those guys anyway so let's just finish the job and be done with it. Two, would we even be taking enough salt to negatively impact their lives? Let's chance it. And three, it's not enough to play god and manipulate the world to our advantage. All life is important and we must commune with our environment. Saving humanity is meaningless if we don't protect everything else and history shows that every single time we think otherwise is devastating for both us and all of nature. Just look at the peppered moths and the industrial revolution. 

So clearly I'm in the third school of thought. And I'm open to options. Let's pretend my bad idea is actually a good one, and something we as a whole could actually manage. While we're at it, just how many natural preserves will we be needing?

See, that's not fun enough. Sectioning off animals into giant zoos and such while maintaining controlled populations. Come on. This is a blog about saving the world by replacing the ice caps with absurd quantities of salt. Let's get wild with it.

So, given what we know about evolution, bacteria, plants, and animals, manipulating an environment over a long period of time allows species to change and adapt. Life will find a way. It's why yesterdays bacteria can't survive antibiotics while today's c-diff infections are pretty much invincible, and tomorrow's bacterial infections will probably kill most of us well before we're able to solve the polar ice cap problem. It's also why wolves in captivity produce offspring that -after several generations- become cuter and more domesticated. And it's also why tapeworms don't have brains and certain peppered moths survived the industrial revolution. 

So I hypothesize (sidenote: quick lesson for some of you to puzzle over: Why didn't I say, "In theory?") that if we were to desalinate and alter the environment at a slow enough rate, most species salinity tolerances will adjust over multiple generations. Sure, we're still kind of sort of wiping out all the current animals, but technically that's supposed to happen anyway. Survival of the fittest. We're forcing evolution and progress. Not ours. We're still the dicks that slowly killed the world and had to completely change it in order to keep ourselves going. But perhaps the only evolutionary direction left for our species is done through education and technical achievement. But as stated, this is a really terrible idea and I have no idea what I'm talking about. So don't pay attention to me.

Next on the problem list is that if our oceans won't have as much salt. At least on the surface. I assume any salt we'd be taking would more or less be skimming the surface and the deeper into the oceans you go, the saltier they get. So I assume this means the oceans would be more likely to freeze in places, possibly cutting off shipping routes and creating hazardous waters with ice burgs and such. Technically, if we outdo ourselves here we'll turn the entire planet into a giant ice ball. Again, I offer the suggestion that we need tons of fresh water anyway, so if it starts to happen, cut back on the desalination and... I dunno... maybe feature Penguin and Mr. Freeze as villains in Batman comics more often as a way of communicating the cultural climate? (hue hue hue)

But as long as I'm being ridiculous, Mars colonization seems to be a topic trending these days. I read that NASA was looking for possible ideas for colonizing mars. Let's say we over do it with the ice once we've saved the world? Well, other planetary colonies surely are going to need bunches of water. And I'm no scientist, but my understanding is that space is pretty darn cold. So while most of us have considered the possibility of transporting water in some giant container to Mars, it'd probably be a lot easier to launch of bunch of small glaciers into orbit, force some accretion, and then use a few rockets to hurl a giant-ass snowball at our neighboring planets. Make them big enough and we'll increase the mass of Mars enough to alter the atmosphere and maintain large bodies of water.

Again, we have more ocean than we know what to do with.

Of course, if we increase Mars' mass, we're decreasing Earth's mass, and therefore its gravitational forces. So we as a species won't weigh as much on Earth, have lower blood pressure, and over time be better suited for interstellar travel. Unless you're of the mind that people in space need to be really, really fat to survive extended periods of time

So that's my solution. We salt the polar ice caps, make a bunch of fresh water, save the world, colonize Mars, and see the universe. For a flat out bad idea, that's really doesn't sound too terrible.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

On tipping scales in the face of adversity

I weighed myself today at 178lbs.

This means I'm officially 86% of the total amount of Keith Blenman the world has ever known.

And I lost the weight the natural way.

I had a C-diff infection, shat myself raw for several months and developed IBS, and therefore the blandest diet known to man until my body decides to start acting like its old self again.

The doctors tell me this may or may not ever happen.

Anyway, you're down to about 86% of a Keith, world. And that's pretty much how I feel.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Inner monologue, day 12,533/?

For what it's worth (and we both know it's never been noteworthy), you are the smallest, least significant person on the face of the Earth. But do you even care any more?

Every time you cross paths with someone else, you're always the one to step out of the way. Always. You don't say hello because you're not someone worth saying hello to.

Your life is going nowhere.

Let me say that again. Your life is going nowhere.

The two most governing forces of your identity are fear and weakness. Every word spoken, every joke cracked, every conversation attempted is suffocated by self depreciating anxiety before you can even open your mouth.

You can't even hold a conversation any more, you're so wrapped up in being worried about what to say. You don't have a mind to speak of because the only thought left is that if you die in your sleep tonight it won't make a single difference for anybody.

The world will keep moving. Your greatest achievements will remain invisible to the rest of the world. You don't matter. Nothing matters. Even if you had something to say, how dare you have the audacity to pretend any of it was worth being listened to.

You are nothing.

You are nothing.

You are nothing.

Just another unloved, empty husk fearing death as if it's going to be anything other than a ceasing of that fear. The only thing less noteworthy in this world than your life is going to be your death.

I give it six years from that day before you're forgotten by everything. Only because I'm being generous.

Another day of being sick. Another day of being afraid. You've given up on yourself and everybody knows it. You can tell because nobody's reaching. Nobody's trying to lift you up. They're all just watching you slowly suffocate yourself in these dismal, lonely thoughts. Why save the drowned rat?

The whole world is moving on and there's no place for you. There never was. You're the man who gets out of the way.

You'd be pitiful if you were worth a lingering thought.

Small, sad, nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Just a husk going through the motions of being a man. But not much of one. Something insignificant going through the motions of pretending to find meaning.

There's no point in screaming from the rooftops when people have better things to worry about than your sorry voice.

Small, sad, pathetic. Doesn't even know how to speak anymore. The forgettable little nobody, only seen in the moments when he trips over his own foot. A stupid, little husk.

After thirty four years, you'd think whatever chemical imbalance in my brain would find something else to think about. Why not movies? I like movies. Why can't it just think about them?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pondering during a c diff infection

To shit or not to shit. That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler behind my sack to suffer the farts and brewing of inglorious indigestion or take arms against the sea of troubles and by holding it end them. To shit, to fart no more- and by fart to say we end the ass ache, and a thousand ripple shocks that air moves flesh to. Tis an evacuation devoutly to be wished. To fart, to shit- to shit, perhaps to wipe. Aye, there's the rub. For in that shit of death what stinks might come when we have blasted out some brown coil, and gives us pause. There's a respect to the anus that make so long of turd.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Excerpt from my bucket list

Bucket List is a phrase I've been hearing more and more lately. To the point that I thought I should start my own. The thing of it is, I can only come up with so much at a time. And while I could post the entire thing as one long blog I thought it might be more fun to present small portions of it every now and again. So as part of an ongoing series, here are two items I'd like to experience before I die:

#13 - Eat an entire box of thin mint Girl Scout cookies without any feelings of regret afterward. Particularly the regret of knowing that I now possess one less box of Girl Scout cookies.

#29 - Hold something of either extreme importance or value for a long, lingering moment and then casually toss it into a large, metal drum. Followed by a Molotov cocktail.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sleep well, Franny

This is my very first photograph of Francesca Marie (Frances, for short) , not long after I unknowingly adopted her in 2002. I was a student at Western Michigan University. She was three years old and just about the heftiest I'd ever seen. I hadn't wanted a cat. My previous experience with two cats in another apartment hadn't gone so well and at the time I was highly conscious of my security deposit. My girlfriend at the time had talked me into it, saying that I was just babysitting her for a few months while Frances's mother moved to New Orleans for Law School. Eventually she'd return for her. But in the meantime, France's experiences with previous owners were short lived. A highlight being a former drug dealer who used to lock her in a Tupperware tote and blow weed smoke at her face through a hose. Not wanting the poor, defenseless cat to end up in a similar situation I agreed to keeping her for a few months.
      Truth be told, I almost didn't keep her. The first two nights I had her she spent the entire time meowing and pawing at doors, trying to find a way out. I got a collective three hours of sleep over several days and left several message with my girlfriend to please help me find another temporary home for this cat.
      Thankfully she didn't call me back.

It took a bit of time, but Franny eventually settled in with my roommate, Nate, and I. 

A fascinating thing about her was that she always had to have her paws hanging over edges. I never understood why. Whether she was lying on the couch, a bed, or even one of my college textbooks, one paw was always hanging down.

It didn't take long for her to start getting a bevy of nicknames. Fran, Franny, Franny Fatty Fat Fat, and Triple Chunk were favorites. Sweet Pea developed somewhere in there.

Somewhere in 2002 I got my first digital camera. The first two pictures taken with it were of her. The first one, Frances walking away from the food dish made me think the camera was broken. Or she was possessed by a demon. I really didn't know enough about cats and digital cameras at the time to draw a conclusion with any degree of certainty.

She was always a wonderful cat. Lazy, aloof, quirky, and beautiful.

The few months I was meant to keep Fran slipped into a few months more. And then a year or so. By the time we concluded nobody was ever coming back for her, I'd have killed them if they tried.  

Between Nate and I, Nate was more of the alpha in the apartment and she took to him a little quicker than me...

...Which made me incredibly jealous. Thankfully I discovered that her nuzzling into people's heads was entirely a hair fetish. Franny loved to use heads as pillows and I never understood why.

It was the hair. She loved nuzzling into people's hair. At least I still tell myself this.

Along came Fe. One summer Nate was away for a month and a coworker, Malissa, talked me into adopting a kitten from her litter. Avid fans of Cowboy Bebop, I named her Fe and gave her to Nate as a gift.

Franny was less than thrilled with a kitten in the apartment and took to hiding in places where she couldn't be reached. 

It didn't help that Fe brought with her an eye infection that led Franny to several visits with the local vet. Along with fleas.

Fe also started eating from Franny's food dish, which was met with disagreeable glares.

 Eventually they became buds.

Franny never did warm up to the helicopter. To be fair, they only knew each other for an afternoon before it crashed into a wall. If she could've, I'm sure she'd have taken credit for its death. While it lied their, propeller twitching, she slowly crept up and bat at it.

Franny's one and only trick, I was told when I adopted her, was "cat yoga." I by no means ever made enough videos of her stretching like this. For years she'd flop in front of me, roll over and put her paws out, waiting for me to help give her a stretch.

Here's a fun tip for cats in summer. I learned this from a local blogger, Kendra, who swapped cat stories with me. Keep a wash cloth or hand towel in your freezer. On a hot day, if your cat is trying to cool off, drape it over your cat. (Or your own shaved head, although this doesn't aid the cat).  
 A freezer blanket creates instant purring. Especially in Franny.

Seriously. She always had to have a paw hanging down.

In 2008, I decided I wasn't getting anywhere trying to make a living in Kalamazoo. Forever broke and  after bombing about a million attempts at finding better work, I decided to return to school and explore other fields. It was hard to separate Franny and Fe, and Nate and Franny, but she was coming with me at costs. So I moved back into my mom's house in Grosse Pointe, where three other cats and a dog were living. I was nervious Franny wouldn't get along with the other pets, but was greatly mistaken.

Beagle had a habit of randomly attacking everyone and everything. Surprisingly he and Franny took to each other pretty fast. Probably because they were both enormous and their eyes glow in pictures.

The first time Franny saw Clohe (the typo is intentional. That's how they misspelled her name on her dog tag at the pet store), she discovered two things. One, there are dogs in the world. Two, attempting to run away on wooden floors doesn't always work out for cats. She ran in place for several seconds before colliding into a kitchn cupboard. Thankfully it didn't take her long to adjust. These piles of Franny, Harper, and Clohe, along with other pets, weren't unusual. 

But she still had to get away from everyone sometimes.

This isn't a hot day, but Franny requesting cat yoga. 

When I published Siren Night in 2010, I really had no idea how to sell books on the Kindle. Many people would probably point out that I still don't. If there was ever a pair of eyes that could help though...

If you scroll back up to my college WMU pictures, you can see this same crappy shelf in my old apartment. One of Franny's favorite spots was the bottom shelf. No matter where I moved, she was always home when she could sleep there.

Actually Franny was at home pretty much anywhere she found herself.

And she grew incredibly used to Clohe.

And me. I assume. I hope. I'd had her for a decade at this point.

Franny and Beagle took to filling up my bed, pretty much all day. They'd lie together like this constantly.

But whenever I got in bed she'd still curl up near me. Over the years it was always by my feet. She actually always had a habit of lying just out of reach, where nobody could pet her. One night I started picking her up and placing her by my head. It took a couple of months, but eventually she figured out that I could give her yoga if she slept near my face. 

 This was incredibly cute, and I wrote about it in a previous blog. But this also gave me pink eye. If I teach all of you one thing in this world, let it be that cats shouldn't stick their paws on your eyeballs.

My love, my muse, Crissy, kept telling me how amazing Sobakawa pillows were. And they are. They're like beanbags for your face. I bought one mostly just to impress Crissy, but Franny took to it almost immediately. The sobakawa became her bed.

Although she still hung out with the other cats at the foot of the bed. She was no snob.

In the summer of 2014 I noticed that Franny had been throwing up pretty often. This wasn't actually too new of an issue. For as long as I've had her, she'd always been a pukey cat. She'd eat too fast. She'd fling her food out of her bowl and eat it off the floor (Scroll back up to the picture of Fe eating out of Franny's food dish. Notice the mess). Throwing up was pretty much a hobby of hers.

But for the most part, she was herself. So initially I didn't worry too much about it. She was lying on all the furniture and purring constantly. And I supposed she was a little older than usual, so puking a bit more might be natural for her. 

Finally I took her to the vet for a check up. They didn't notice anything initially wrong. She was at a healthy weight. They told me I was probably right and she was probably just a little older and needed to slow down when she ate. They gave her a shot for her nausea to see if it would help.

It didn't and we were back at the vet a week later. They took x-rays and discovered two things. One, her intestines were inflamed. And two, she had an enormous tumor in her chest. Three different vets told me the tumor was in an unusual location (most tumors grow on the left lung. Hers was on the right). Also, it was surprisingly large for a tumor in a cat. All three of them said that at her age, or even if she was a kitten, trying to remove the tumor would destroy her quality of life and the chances of her making a full recovery were pretty much none. Also her tumor was probably secondary to lymphoma, so even if we removed it she'd still have the disease. There was nothing to be done but keep her as happy and comfortable as I could for as long as possible.

My mom blamed her previous caretaker, the guy who blew weed smoke through a hose at her while she was locked in a tote. I blamed myself for not catching it sooner. And for being a smoker for the first few years I had her. I'd quit smoking years before, but was it my fault? Did I do this to her? The vet told me she was a senior citizen and cats her age get tumors. I was reassured by a couple of my brothers, but a lung tumor kept the thought in my head.

For the most part she still seemed happy. I promised to keep her that way for as long as I could.

Vet visits were frequent enough that she felt comfortable sleeping in her carrier all day.

But she was still very much herself, hanging out with the other cats. She wouldn't play as much as she used to. And when she did she'd start having coughing fits.  

She'd started coughing after I gave her yoga too. That never stopped her from requesting it though.

Franny had curled up in bed with me every night for years. She was always at my side, purring away.

I panicked whenever she'd stop eating or start puking again. The vet gave her steroid injections every few weeks and they did the trick to keep her going. The first time she ate after getting one, I'd always break down and cry a little. I got my Franny for a little bit longer. I was going to the grocery store multiple times a week to buy cans of food. She'd only ever eat part of them, but I'd give her a fresh can every time. It was all I could do. Keep her eating and keep her going.

Every night when I'd get home from school or one of my jobs, she'd be waiting at the top of the stairs. I fed her in the bathroom right behind her. If I started walking up and she darted for the bathroom, I knew she'd be okay a little longer. If she didn't, I knew we'd be taking another trip to the vet.

I spoiled her at Christmas. All the cats really, but I wanted to make sure she had plenty of new toys. She didn't play with them much but would lie by them and purr. It was enough to be near them.

I don't know what compelled me. Pictures of my girlfriend's ferrets all snuggled up in their extra soft blankets, I suppose. Shortly after the holidays I went out and bought a micro fiber blanket to make sure Franny had that extra bit of comfort.

Crissy took an old picture of Franny and had this beautiful and hilarious painting made of her. I currently don't know the artist, but when I find out I'll post his name. I love how he captured her fur and fat rolls from when she was a little bigger.

She stayed close to me every day. Whenever I wasn't home, I'd start to panic and worry that she wasn't all right. 

This is the last picture I ever took of Franny. I was sending Crissy pictures of the painting, trying to decide on which wall I should hang it on. I made some lame comment about how the painting dwarfed her when she used to be such an enormous cat.

One night a few weeks ago, I was at my brother's apartment, meeting some cats he recently adopted. My mom called, saying that Franny couldn't walk and I had to get home as quickly as possible. I heard Franny meowing and screaming in the background. I panicked. I was nearly an hour away and Mike had to drive me home. I knew it was time. I knew immediately that I wouldn't be given another night with her purring at my side while I was drifting off to sleep.
        When we got home, Mom was trying to calm Franny but she didn't really settle until I picked her up. She couldn't walk and was furious for it. She kept attempting and flopping over, frustrated. As I held her, she nuzzled her face into the pit of my elbow. She quieted down and let me pet her. At least for the most part.

A few times she tried to get up and panicked. She bit my hand a few times before I got her to settle down again.

I wrapped her up in a towel and Mom drove us to the vet. They gave her an examination and clipped one of her claws on her hind leg. No blood came out of the vein there. They took her temperature and she was ten degrees cooler than she should've been. I pet Franny and rubbed her ears, and then we said our good-byes. She passed away resting her head in my hand her little paw wrapped over my wrist. We watched each other as the doctor gave her an injection. She passed quietly and peacefully, and I kissed her on the forehead one last time before they took her away.
Beagle spent several days curled up by her Sobakawa pillow. He got up to eat a few times, but wouldn't purr when I pet him. The other two cats, Polaris and Harper, paced around the house, howling. Our dog, Shadow, hopped up in bed with me; something he'd never do on account of all the cats on my bed.

On my pinky, I have a scar from my childhood cat, Mack. I thought it fitting that Franny had punctured that same hand when she bit me, but I doubted any of her bites were deep enough to scar. So while driving around, and stopping twice to let myself fall apart, I had three of her bite marks tattooed. Three little freckles for my Triple Chunk. Two are different shades of gray for her stripes. The third is green for her eyes.

I received her ashes and have them over my desk. Right behind that plastic effigy Crissy made (which like the painting was  overwhelmingly moving). Near enough that she still feels close. When I get in bed at night I'm still fluffing the sobakawa pillow for her. And when I wake up it takes me a minute to adjust to her not being on it. I know this will get easier with time, and I was hoping that writing this out and chronicling her life would help. I'm kind of a train wreck without that furry little presence at my side. I gave her the best life I could, and all these years later still regret making that phone call after my first day with her. The truth is that every day I had Franny was a gift. She was a wonderful cat, truly one of a kind. I love her and although I certainly don't understand enough about life to speak about this world or the next, if we ever do get to meet again, the chance to rub her ear, give her yoga, and listen to her purr... That would mean the world.

Until we meet again, Franny.

Thank you.

Sleep well, kitty.

Good night.