Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Passing of Twinkle

Twinkle was a fierce soul who was welcomed by the Earth Mother and his beloved Netta on Friday.  His passage was unexpected and has left huge holes in the hearts of his chosen family-- his human mum and dad, his dog Blondie, and his feline companion Bramble.

Twinkle's story started about six and a half years ago.  He was a mostly orange and red kitty born to a tuxedo kitty.  He was one of four siblings.  His one sister was also a tux.  His two brothers were mostly orange and red like he was.

Blondie (the dog) and I were walking down a street.  We were presented with the sight of two orange and white kittens tussling near a parked jeep and a tuxedo kitten asleep underneath some bushes.  One of the orange and white kittens ran over to inspect the dog, having never seen one before in his young life.  Blondie, for her part, was taken aback by a bold young one but responded graciously by allowing him to inspect her.  

"Oh what cute kittens!" I exclaimed to the woman in the driveway.  "Want one?" she said, "They're going to the pound in an hour."  I picked up the kitten who was still busy with my dog.  "I'll take this one," I said.  The other orange kitten outside was a bit shy and hid behind the car wheel.  The woman told me there was a third orange kitten inside who didn't seem to like people very much.

By time we had gotten home, I had named the kitten Twinkle.  He explored his new home boldly and without caution or hesitation.  Within the hour, he had settled in with the confidence that would mark his life.  Twinkle had no fear.

Twinkle persisted and made friends with the two older cats.  It was Netta, a ragdoll mix and a tortie shell, who taught him how to mouse.  I can still hear his baby squeals as the two of them ran up from the cellar with the dead prize in Netta's mouth.  She put the mouse at my feet and I rewarded them with a bowl of milk, an infrequent treat.  When Netta died, Twinkle mourned but still had our older cat Bramble.  Bramble also mourned but he still had Twinkle.

Twinkle and Bramble ran up and down stairs together, wrestled together, took naps together, even shared favorite spots together.  He played with the dog often.  He was also gifted with a strong stocky physique.  Whether stalking the frogs in one of the tanks, watching the crickets in the cricket keeper-- we called this "kitty teevee"-- attempting to eat the dog's food in front of the dog, picking out a toy from the dog's toybox that he wanted to play with, or reaching into a drawer in order to toss something out, he approached his world without any hesitation.  He knew exactly what he wanted at all times.  And we did too.

If Twinkle was chattering at birds outside the sunporch window, it was the crows he lusted after rather than the sparrows.  Twinkle had no fear.  He walked all over the clipboard of the cable guy while his older chosen brother cat ran off to hide until the evil stranger had left the grounds.  Twinkle recognized the doorbell.  Just like a trained dog would, he ran to get us whenever it rang.

Twinkle was a gifted communicator.  He was dominant over the older cat who did not seem to mind.  When Twinkle thought there was not enough food in the cat dish, it was the older cat who ran to get me as Twinkle stood impatiently near the food dish.  When the dog and I returned from our adventures in the woods, Twinkle was there to greet us as we returned.  He often sniffed the dog's paws.  I imagined this to be his way of sniffing out what we had done, what interesting smells the dog had picked up.  One time, after a particularly smelly encounter with something in the woods, Twinkle sniffed at the dog's paws and immediately walked away in what looked to me like disgust.  His temper was on display frequently at the vet clinic.  He fought us when it was time to put him into the cat carrier and clung fiercely to the back of it when it was time for his examination.

I have many memories of Twinkle.  Twinkle and Bramble in the bathtub full of soapy water, along with Blondie.  The two cats were always better about having a bath than Blondie.  They would let me soap them up and rinse them off.  Blondie is a squirmer and although part golden retriever, is much more difficult to this day to bathe.  Bramble will lay down in the bathwater even now to watch it drain.  Twinkle liked to play with bath bubbles, sitting on the edge and batting them around with his tail.  One time when he was very young, he fell in.  He cried out in surprise-- which set the dog and the other two cats to charging into the bathroom to rescue their kitten-- and immediately began swimming toward the edge of the tub.  I fished him out and he disappeared for a half-hour until he was dry and had groomed himself to his satisfaction.  The two cats were always better about having their nails clipped than the dog was.  Twinkle quickly learned to extend his paw, making his fast-growing nails easier to trim.  Twinkle was fascinated by drawers, wanting to climb into them or to fish something out of them.  Twinkle used to swing his paw at my dad in mock battles, he took playful swipes at my head when he was sitting on top of the easy chair, and would place one of his rear paws in my hand to hold when he was feeling a need for a bit of reassurance.  

Thursday, Twinkle spent a very long time watching the firebellies and the little green tree frogs in their tank.  He was content.  Thursday night, he crept into bed with us in the middle of the night for the last time.

After running some tests, the vet determined that Twinkle was very ill.  There was nothing I could humanely do to keep him alive and so I made the decision to have him put down.  Twinkle was suffering.  Medically, there was no hope.  If I had chosen to keep him alive, he would spiral downward-- even with the uncomfortable treatments the disease would have required-- and death could come at any time.  Out of love, I signed the papers.

Twinkle and I visited together for the last time.  I cuddled him in the colorful Indian blanket that someone had provided for him in the office.  When I was ready, the vet and the assistant came in.  Twinkle put one of his rear paws in my hand for the last time.  The vet shaved one of his front paws and plunged the needle in that would relieve his suffering.  The assistant was openly crying.  When Twinkle winced briefly, the vet encouraged him to look at me.  I scritched him under his chin and held his gaze.  I watched his life fade and his spirit gain release.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Do They Do Black Hair?

I was reading this blog post here at:  and the one before it at:

and I have determined that I will NEVER EVER give any of my white bisexual bucks to either Super Cuts or Fantastic Sams again.  Period.

When I read those posts by cjinstructortn, I had a memory that I had forgotten.

Many years ago, when I lived in Baton Rouge, I got a little job as a telemarketer.  I forget the company.  We were supposed to call people on a list and talk them into a package deal at one of the local hair salons [I also have forgotten which one] for twenty five dollars.  If the prospect said "yes," a driver would immediately go to their address to pick up the money and give them their package.  I was told very specifically by the white male manager that "If a black person answers, hang up."  This was odd.  But I was young and I thought myself desperate for the money the job would provide to me.  

The arrangement was that any new telemarketer was not put on the payroll until he or she made their first sales agreement.  After that, there was an hourly rate with an add-on bonus for each completed sale.  I had a "yes" on my very first call.

I was given a spot to sit and a telephone and I proceeded to call more people on the list I was given.  I ignored the directions that specified hanging up on black people.  One lady who answered the phone said to me, "Do they do 'black hair?'Cautiously I glanced about the room before hurriedly answering yes.  She then agreed to buy the package.

This was in the late seventies.  Here I will add that Baton Rouge was considerably behind the times back then.  Even interracial couples-- common to other areas of the country I had traveled to-- were very uncommon in Baton Rouge back then.

A driver came back spurting to the white male manager.  The manager came over to me and reinforced the directive that I was to hang up if a black person answered the phone.  I wish I could say that I walked out then and there but I really don't recall if I did or not.  At any rate, I did not go back.

sapphoq on life    

Sunday, March 24, 2013


"Is this the daughter of ___________________  ?"

     She doesn't sound like a bill collector.  Bill collectors always sound nasty, like I am the criminal refusing to pay his bills.  There are no papers signed.  He wouldn't sign any.  And now it is too late.  He is not able to legally advocate for himself.  He is no longer a viable adult.  His pants are ragged because he refuses to spend any money to get new ones.  Sometimes he puts flesh-colored sticky pads on the rips.

"Someone reported him as ... "

     I wonder who.  The last guy I talked with from the V.A. about some money that my dad owes?  During that conversation, Dad was yelling in the background, "You aren't telling him right.  I don't owe them any money."  This statement of massive entitlement from my father-- my dad who had taught me that there is no such thing as a free lunch and that anything worth having was worth working for.  He had taught me that ages ago, in another time, before the dementia started rotting out his brain.  
     Now, he refuses to pay any bills.  Unfortunately, his ability to dial the phone has remained intact.  Just the other day, he screamed at the dentist's receptionist, "Who are you to tell me that I owe 160 dollars?  I've only had the dentures for three weeks and they broke."  This is becoming more than a theme.  This is becoming a gigantic problem of emo-epic proportion.

"We want your father to come in for a competency test ..."

     I know what the testing will show.  It will show what I already know and what I've known for months.  Dad is rapidly losing his battle to make some order out of his shattered life.  He shifts papers around, has no clue how much money he has in his checking account, stopped subtracting the numbers months ago.  He does not understand that he has had his partial plate for more than a year now, that he owes some co-pays for his health care, that he will never get a job selling cars again, that he will never drive again,  have his own apartment or a woman sleeping besides him in bed and having coffee with him in the morning before he goes off to work again.  He will never stop off at the neighborhood bar for a cold one again.  He will never walk to the corner store by himself again.  He cannot find his way home again.  His diminishing insight has tumbled to zero.  I am left holding my tears.  He denies that there is anything amiss with his neurology now.  He did know for awhile but not anymore.  Who's to say which way is "better"?

"The only other appointment is at 4 p.m. and that is too late."

     Yes, you are quite right.  The later appointment is too late.  Yes, of course I will bring him down.  He is my father and I love him.  Every time I think I've had it, it gets worse and worse.  It's a nightmare that I can't wake up from.  Sometimes, we can do all of the right things and the right things don't happen.  There is no longer any hope, not even the hope that he will die quietly in his sleep soon before the real horror has set in.  The real horror is setting in.  And I cannot stop it.  And so, the appointment is made for a competency test which my father has zero chance of passing.

"See you then..."

     Dad never wanted to live here.  He was happy with his second family, with business as usual until the bottom fell out and he lost it all.  When his world comes crashing down, I have to rescue him.  Over and over again, I fix the time on his clock or reset his cell phone or tell him that he has had a complete workup of his head and no Dad, there really isn't any tumor there and no Dad, you don't have brain cancer no Dad, that scab on your leg does not mean that it will go septic and they will have to cut your leg off.  I know that one day I won't be able to reach him.  This is a nightmare from which I don't think I will ever wake up.  This is my father's nightmare and he will never return from it whole and alive.

sapphoq on life 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Whipping Spoon

My mother was not a well woman.  Her photograph can be found under the word "vindictive" in the dictionary.  I remember specific examples of how she would attempt to get back at people who dared to breathe in her presence without her permission.  It was all about my mother.  Never about anyone else.  In my mother's household, the only hurt feelings that "counted" were hers.

My mother threw out any and all Christmas presents from my dad because they weren't from her.  It was an outrage to her that I would cherish something that she did not give me.  I would come home with new clothes, new toys, new books.  And within a few days, out in the garbage they went. 

She did that to a dog too.  I was in third grade when I found a white poodle puppy on the couch one Christmas morning.  I named her Fifi.  She had the typical poodle look with curly hair and bright eyes.  We played together a lot.  Fifi was a bright spot in an otherwise oppressive home atmosphere.  One summer Sunday morning, my mother insisted that I take Fifi with me when my dad came to pick me up.  The following Sunday, she wanted me to take Fifi along again.  I declined to do that.  When I came home that night, Fifi was gone.  I went hysterical.  I loved that dog and she had loved me too.  To shut me up, my mother told me she had given the dog away to my great grandmother.  I wanted to believe her.  But a few months later when we went to visit, there was no dog there.  I asked my mother about Fifi and she did what she always did when I was pestering her for answers.  After ignoring me didn't work, she told me to shut-up.

My mother's vindictiveness did not stop just because I became an adult.  She was angry because I refused to call her second husband, my step-father Tony.  When he died, she called my aunt up to tell her.  Then she told my aunt that I already knew.  I found out ten days after they put him in the ground.  "Pablo only wanted his real daughter with him at the end," she said, "Not you."  Even after I confronted her, she had no explanation for not letting me know about his death.  The obituary didn't even mention my existence.  That hurt.  

When my half-brother's wife died suddenly, once again my mother didn't tell me right away.  She told me the night before the funeral.  By then, it was too late to catch an airplane down to where my half-brother lived.  "I never thought you would be able to get on an airplane," she said with brittleness in her voice.  Okay, so I got brain damage from a car accident through no fault of my own some years before then.  But I was certainly capable of travel.  After all [with planning help by a wonderful and patient AAA agent], I had traveled cross-country alone on planes and trains for three glorious weeks.  Cripes.

I've been doing some research lately on Handrahan vs. Malenko for the radicalsapphoq blog.  [I hope to be able to publish it tomorrow.  Every time I think I am almost done, I find a bunch more stuff on the Internet.  It's been like this for at least a week now].  A quick summary, Lori Handrahan has accused her ex-husband of assaulting the little girl up in Maine.  The almost constant cries of abuse have come replete with hospital trips and rape kit exams and drug testing of urine, beginning at the age of two.  At age four, there was a yellowed healing bruise [and a reddish birthmark].  This reminded me of something that my vindictive mother did once.

Although mine didn't trot me off to the hospital, my mother certainly was observant and opportunistic.  One Sunday afternoon, Dad's girlfriend  had hit me once with her hand.  This was more of a swipe, deliberate but not drawing blood or leaving a mark.  My mother's response was to get out a wooden spoon [which she used to stir the homemade tomato sauce she used to make some Saturdays-- it was clean] and force me to hit myself with it hard on my rear end for several minutes at a time for several days.  I had to do what she said.  I didn't want to.  But if I wanted to survive my childhood, I had to obey.  That Wednesday, she took me to the family doctor.  She wanted him to witness the "abuse" by wife #2.  When the doctor didn't want to get involved-- [as was typical for him: There was no mandated reporting back then and he was a bit of a drunk like most of the folks that my mother surrounded herself with.]-- Mother stuck me in the car and drove to the police station in the town where my Dad lived.  "Show them what she did," I remember her snarling in front of the desk sarge.  But someone had called my dad who showed up yelling, "What are you doing to my daughter?"

So yeah, I know that mothers can hurt their children out of harsh and vindictive feelings towards an ex.  And yeah, a mother can inflict abuse on a child and then claim that someone else did it.  I know this because it was done to me.

sapphoq on life

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

There Are Some People

There are some people that I will "never be good enough for."  I am too political or not political enough.  Obsessed with recovery or working a lousy program.  Over-involved or distant.  Co-dependent or too independent.  Intense or dull.  A bitter atheist or not enough of an atheist.  A dam liar or too honest.  And so on, ad nauseum.  Oh well.

Not everyone wishes me well.  Not everyone has to.  I don't wish everyone well and I don't have to.  Nathaniel Brandetaught me this:  
        " 'Loving everyone' sounds suspiciously like spiritual
           promiscuity--the abandonment of all standards."

Some years ago, a call went out for volunteers in my hometown to sign up to answer calls for a get help phone line.  I signed up.  The woman with the clipboard made a remark to some people next to her something to the effect that I was too whacked out to do this.  Consequently, I never did get any calls from that particular phone line.  Oh well.  Two similar phone lines in two other counties did add my number to their answering service.  To this day, once in awhile I still get calls for help from them.  I've learned to go where I am wanted.  

Not everyone wants or needs my help today.  Ninety nine percent of people don't and they are doing just fine without my ideas and opinions.  I don't want everyone's help either.  I like pears and I want to have pear trees.  Most of the folks up here have apple orchards.  Even if they mutter about how pears suck, I don't have to bad-mouth apples.  Because I want to grow pears and not apples, I will get with successful growers of pears.  If I want what they got, I will do what they do.  I want pears so I will seek out people who know about growing pear trees, not people who know about growing apple trees.  

Self-esteem is about self and steam.  Self-esteem is not based upon some deity's esteem for me.  Nor is it based upon the esteem of others for me.  Rock stars can have bunches of cheerleaders yet some of them still self-destruct.  It's nice to have the approval of one's deity, if that is what one wants.  It's nice to have fans gathering around cheering one on.  But those things are not enough.  If they were enough, there would be no need for personal growth.  We would never have to grow up.

There are some people that I will "never be good enough for."  I have to be good enough for my self.

sapphoq on life   

Monday, March 04, 2013

A Dead Guy and a Live Fake

un-Dear Elliott,

You are dead now.  I was not particularly sorry to see you go.  Some people need killing.  You were one of them but your profession protected you.  Instead, we had to wait for the passage of time and natural causes to take you out.

I say "we" Elliott because I was not your only vic.  You were a prolific rapist.  Most outsiders-- your co-workers in particular-- thought you were a teddy bear.  They gathered around you shielding you from the glares of those evil mentally-ill bitches who dared to accuse you.  You were a grandfather.  You played the part well.

We recoiled in horror as co-worker after co-worker took the stand promising to tell the truth the whole truth but damn if they could remember anything much at all.  Who knew that all of them would be hit with a collective amnesia?  Indeed.  How wonderful for you that undeserved gift of loyalty they gave to you.  They violated their oaths to give that to you. 

The insiders knew though.  Your wife knew.  I met her once, yes.  She told me that she knew you were guilty.  She didn't recognize me for who I was.  Like an obedient wife, she showed up at the last day of the hearing, in spite of what she knew.  She had to.  She had to put up with you and your rages until your dieing day.  She was there when you dropped your pants without shame in front of everyone.  No one was going to stop you that day.  For an old sweetie, you were certainly ruthless in a slick sick charming sort of way.  All she wanted was her freedom from you.  Since you died several years before she did, at least she got her wish.

I was one of those evil conveniently-labeled bitches.  Yeah, I was a vic too.  It was a time when I was young, impressionable, vulnerable.  People argued over how much of this I owned.  I decided for myself and I took responsibility for my part.  You never did.  We were wicked children and it was all our fault.  We compelled you.  We showed up at your residence, on your telephone, in your office, at your lunch table with your co-workers uninvited.  We kept showing up.  We forced you to write postcards to us during your vacations.  Your peers bought that story.

In the end, you got a write up inserted into your file.  In the end, you were an old man gasping for air.  In the end, you had to quit that last job-- the part-time one that gave you continued access to a fresh pool of vulnerable vics.  You didn't want to.  No matter.  You had your reputation to protect.  And your pension.  And the kicker-- when you finally did die, the nice minister made you a nice sermon so your co-workers could remember you-- was quite the finale.  There was scarcely a place to park on the road by the Unitarian Church.  The parking lot had filled up fast.  Glory be.

Some years later, I became an investigator at my job.  I was good at it.  I remembered the things I had learned.  Just because someone is thought to be an extralegal by virtue of being an outsider, they just might be telling the truth.  Some years after that, I got schooled about the so-called troubled teen troubled industry and I remembered the things I had learned.   Just because someone is thought to be an extralegal by virtue of being an outsider, they just might be telling the truth.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a fake.  I panicked at first.  I wanted to believe the fake.  But I found that I could not.  Like you, the fake claims no responsibility at all.  Everything and everybody was and is out to get the fake.  Unlike you, the fake was not hiding under a fuzzy exterior.  Unlike you, the fake continues to loudly seek out the spotlight.  Like you, the fake uses half-truths to make the lies convincing to outsiders. 

I don't expect this blog post to magically reach you beyond the grave.  I don't do New Age woo-woo.  I don't forgive you, Elliott.  You didn't have regrets.  You had no conscience.  "Forgiveness" is not something that concerns me.  I am not compelled by religious belief or by other ideologies to offer you a forgiveness you never sought.  I am no mystic.  You are dead.  I am alive.  I have integrity.  That is something you never had.   When you died, I knew you could not hurt anyone anymore.  Your death was a thing of far more value than any fake peace proffered by the forgiveness crowd.

Feck you and all the other fakes who get away with abuse, rape, and murder,

sapphoq on life  

P. S.  To the one and only co-worker of Elliott who absolutely refused to testify on his behalf, I thank you.