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After half a year, I have health insurance again July 4, 2019

Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
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And let me tell you, it’s a huge relief.

Medical stuff under the cut — nothing icky, just pills and a lot of phone calls.

Also, cat stuff at the end, so feel free to skip to that. There’s some discussion of pet death, but nothing recent.

(more…)

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I got a new cat! — the full Fluffstory (thanks to @affoGATOcatcafe) April 11, 2019

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Mom was in town last week, so we hung out on Friday…and obviously had to visit Cleveland’s new cat cafe.

I wasn’t committed to getting a cat that day, but I was generally in the market for one, with these criteria:

  • A shy cat, maybe one that was rescued from a bad situation, who specifically needed a quiet home with one patient human + few visitors + no other pets
  • Any age, so long as it was housetrained
  • Any breed/appearance/coat length, so long as it had a distinct appearance from all the other cats I’ve lived with
  • Any gender, so long as it was spayed/neutered
  • Had all its shots in general, and no health issues that would put its care out of my budget

So we show up at the cafe, the staff give us a quick rundown of how to behave inside, they usher our whole group into the Cat Room…and there, curled up on a wall shelf across from the door, is Fluffy.

He’s of the cats they specifically called out beforehand, saying “don’t approach him in large groups or you’ll scare him, just go up one at a time, and give him a chance to get used to you.” I walk up slowly and give him some gentle skritching. After cautiously tolerating it for a bit, he leans into it.

I did check out the rest of the room — petted/hugged/played with various other cats — but at the end of the hour, I put a hold on Fluffy.

(There was one other “shy cat, needs patience” described on the board, and she put up with petting when I checked her out, but never showed any sign of indulging in it.)

And by evening, he was hiding in my bathroom!

Fluffy

Living up to his name, he’s a long-hair mix. Instead of totally renaming him, I’m making “Fluffy” a nickname for a longer full name TBD. (The realtime Twitter thread has a bunch of the possibilities.)

He’s mostly white-furred, with cookies’n’cream black spots (Fluffies’n’Cream!), and chronically-suspicious green eyes.

The Fluffmeister was an “on-site surrender” in a humane incident, meaning his original home got reported to the Animal Protection League as unsafe, and a team went to pick him up. (Along with one other cat, who was more sociable, and got adopted earlier.) At the time, he was underweight and dehydrated — the APL shelter put him on a special diet at first, to get his weight back up.

Fluffy

Even now, he only weighs 6 pounds. The fluff looks even fluffier because his actual frame is so tiny. And he’s 2 years old — gotta wonder if this was always his potential full size, or if he was underfed going back to kittenhood, and it stunted his growth.

(My aunt’s cat weighs 12 pounds. My parents’ last cat weighed 18. Not because of obesity or anything, either, he was just big.)

On the first night, April 5, Brave Sir Fluffs-a-lot tried a couple of different hiding places, ending up under the daybed in the living room:

Fluffy

Fluffy

Along with some boxes of Leif & Thorn books, and other convention merch.

In the bathroom I’d petted him and coaxed him to eat some treats. Here I put his food bowls under the end of the daybed, and he ate while he could see me in range to see him. So far, so good.

Then on the evening of the 6th, I did one last check-in before going to bed…and he wasn’t there! At some point he’d made a break for my bedroom. Managed to get there without me even noticing.

Fluffy

(The white stuff on the floor is bits of styrofoam, from when the bed was unpacked. Until now, I had no reason to try to get under there and sweep it up.)

Also, he’d done his business there, instead of in the provided litterbox. Sigh.

So that night we both slept in the bedroom — me on top of the bed, him underneath. It’s the only room (other than the bathroom) with a door that closes, and I kept him shut in there for the day. At this point he was only eating when I was out of the room, so I held off on any further petting.

Tempting though it was.

Still no use of the box, though, and on the afternoon of the 7th, Floofatron 3000 went and peed on the bed. I did some cleanup work, and then, since the mattress was too big to offer any chance of hauling it out of the room, I managed to upend it against the wall.

Ooh, he did not like that. The mattress was by itself on top of the slats of the bedframe, so it was the biggest part of his shelter, and having it removed was a Terrifying Ordeal.

I briefly planned to relocate him to the bathroom. At the cat cafe he’d been incredibly easy to scoop up and pour into his carrier, and he was quiet and docile throughout the car rides, even during our stop at the APL for microchipping. Should be easy to move him again, right?

…yeah, not so much. Not right after the Ordeal. (I like to hope he also had more energy from getting regular meals — the crowd at the cat cafe might’ve intimidated him away from his bowls.)

I did finally corner him, got a hiss and a scratch, and started formulating a new plan based on leaving him in a cat-proofed bedroom.

…and it’s working pretty well so far!

Fluffy

The Terror That Fluffs In The Night finally started using his litter by the night of the 8th, once I squeezed the box into a corner where he’d peed before (and removed the mattress as an alternative). Here he is under the de-mattressed bed.

The boxes/suitcase are positioned to keep him from climbing into the under-bed drawers. There are some thinner boxes under the under-bed drawers, to keep him out of that narrow space. Cleaning supplies are on-hand.

(And I’m sleeping on…the daybed. It’s fine, I spent the first month at this place with no furniture.)

His new favorite place is up on the windowsill. It’s about the height and size of that shelf he had at the cafe — and part of it is sheltered by the upturned mattress.

Looking real suspiciously at his food in this shot, but it still disappears when I’m not in the room, so it can’t be too bad.

His other favorite place is the new highest point in the room…the top edge of the mattress itself!

Fluffy

I’m not putting his food up there. Sir Edmund Fluffery will just have to venture back down when he’s hungry.

We had our current routine established by the 9th. I check in a few times a day, to refresh his food, clean his box, maybe leave some treats, and say calming things while standing at a safe distance.

On the 10th I called the APL, just hoping to chat with a worker who’d handled him during the 2-ish months he was at the shelter, get some insight…

…and had a lovely talk with someone who said “he was one of my favorites, I would’ve adopted him myself, but my home isn’t the quiet space he needs.”

New insights:

  • At the shelter it took The Fluffington Post about a month, with consistent routines, to start feeling comfortable and letting people pet him. Longer than I expected based on his first-night performance, but not longer than I’d bargained for.
  • Sounds like he hissed/swatted at them on a more regular basis until he adjusted, so he’s at least starting on a better footing here than he did there.
  • Took him that long to start playing with toys, too. And he’d stop if he noticed you looking.
  • He’s not picky at all about food — and will work up to being very food-motivated — but in the beginning he only felt safe eating at night. Which I had noticed, but was getting the data muddled by thinking “maybe he doesn’t like this flavor” instead of “oh, shouldn’t have put this out in the morning.”
  • He does have this weird way of eating, very slow, one piece at a time. Someone at the cafe speculated to me that she thought he’d lost some teeth. The person from the APL couldn’t confirm or deny that, but she did say they didn’t find anything to be medically concerned about.
  • He always sat on the highest shelf in his kennel at the shelter, too!

So it might be a while before he does anything worth sharing new photos of. Unless people (other than me) would be excited to see “aww, look, he’s sitting on his shelf some more!”

But now that we have a routine set up that covers all the basics, he’s going to get all the time he needs to get comfortable and come out of his shell.

In the meantime, I’m leaning towards Marshmallow Fluff as his full name, so I can make jokes about his great shelf life.

Cat appreciation post January 1, 2019

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Finishing up the December talking meme, a respectably-short amount of time into January: Kaldra wanted me to write about cats.

Cats are great. They’re beautiful, they’re nerds, they’re helpful, they’re doofuses, they’re adorable. I finally got on Instagram this year, and I’m making sure my gallery has a healthy proportion of cats, because I have a heck of a backlog of photos and it’s not like I’m doing anything else with them.

I’ve spent basically all my adult life having Housemates With Cats. This is the beautiful fluff I’ve been living with since summer:

Cat on sketchbook

He is the cuddliest critter you ever will meet. He insists on sitting on my sketchbooks, sometimes when I’m in the middle of drawing in them. Every night when I go to bed, he follows me in and spends several minutes diligently licking my face.

I’m scheduled to move out tomorrow, to a place with no housemates, much less cats. Yet. There are vague cat-acquiring plans farther in the future. (I definitely want to get all the furniture in place first.)

Holiday gift reel December 26, 2018

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Shard prompted “List off any gifts you received over the holidays, and if you’d like and/or want to fill space, tell us which one(s) you like most and why.”

Okay, first one is this lovely Yuletide fic, which I’m pretty sure is the longest I’ve ever gotten, phwoah:

Holiday Hours (find us where we want to be) (11338 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 2/2
Fandom: Pet Shop of Horrors
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Count D/Leon Orcot, Chris Orcot & Leon Orcot, Chris Orcot & Pon-chan & T-chan | Tetsu, Count D & Chris Orcot & Leon Orcot
Characters: Chris Orcot, Leon Orcot, Count D (Pet Shop of Horrors), T-chan | Tetsu (Pet Shop of Horrors), Pon-chan (Pet Shop of Horrors), Honlon (briefly)
Additional Tags: Found Family, Christmas Fluff, Unresolved Emotional Tension, Surprise Party, POV Alternating, Yuletide 2018
Summary:

Where a pet shop in Chinatown explores the true meaning of Christmas, and what was obvious all along is finally realized. At least, in part.

Featuring, the cast of:

A Very Oblivious Detective (Leon Orcot)
A Very Put Upon Shop Owner (Count D)
All I Want For Christmas Is to Make People Happy (Chris Orcot)
A Merry Band of Misfits (T-chan and Pon-chan)
And Background Gossips (who ship it)

I haven’t even gotten a chance to comment yet, it’s so long — but if you’re in the fandom, go give it some kudos.

There are some family visits coming up in January, and more things designated Christmas Presents will be handed around then. Like I said in an earlier post, we’re not real sentiment about specific dates.

So far: all the RL gifts are practical and useful, but not much to blog about. Literally towels, hangers, a chest of drawers, an afghan, a vacuum cleaner. A couple of large checks, some of which is getting invested in fandom merch (there are a few webcomic collections I’ve had my eye on), most of which will go toward rent, groceries, and my IRA.

Adulthood, everyone!

Things I will pay extra to avoid having to do myself December 8, 2018

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  • Put together furniture
  • Shred my own cheese
  • Rake leaves, shovel snow, cut grass
  • Wash dishes
  • Transcribe audio, and/or text in images
  • Move a lot of boxes
  • Replace a hard drive
  • Walk any distance to do laundry

(This list brought to you by, though not limited to, my next impending move.)

I may not have house-buying money, but at least I’m still managing to make the Life Transition into “willing to outsource minor annoyances rather than spend the time.”

I also pay for a lot of digital music now. Although I do it with the gift cards Bing gives you for using their search engine, so that may not be quite the same category.

(December talking meme.)

Give a tree, take a tree December 5, 2018

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Flyboy254 prompted me to write about “Christmas away from home.”

My whole family doesn’t get real sentimental about exact dates of holidays. One year we went to San Diego over the winter vacation, and got Christmas-day plane tickets because they were the cheapest. If people can’t meet up in December but we have a gathering in mid-January, then we’ll just save the presents and do Christmas in January. So that’s nice.

Here’s a photo from one of my first apartment Christmases:

Picked up the tree for free off of someone’s curb one January. It was the perfect size for a tiny apartment. Plus it came apart into pieces you could stuff in any box, and went back together super easily.

Now it’s been six months since I put it out on my own curb before leaving MA. Sure hope it got picked up by a new person who will appreciate it just as much.

Still have the tinsel and ornaments, though! My aunt doesn’t have a tree, so the ornaments are still boxed — but from where I’m sitting now, basically every direction has some tinsel draped over the most convenient surface.

(December talking meme.)

What Do You Carry With You? (December 2018) December 4, 2018

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Prompted by jjhunter. I last did this meme in April 2018 — pre-move, between jobs — so let’s see what’s changed.

Things I almost always take along when I go out:

  • Glasses
  • Smartphone
  • mp3 player + headphones
  • Keyring (with loyalty cards for Heinen’s, CVS)
  • Chapstick
  • Wallet (with photo ID, credit card, library card, debit card, and some cash)
  • Canvas bag (after thinking “I should pick up some groceries on my way home, why didn’t I think to bring a bag” one time too many)
  • Phone charger (USB, with outlet adapter)
  • Regular writing pen(s)
  • Photo ID for Day Job, on lanyard

Things I carry pretty frequently:

  • Sketchbook
  • Plain black legal-pad holder (nothing inside, it’s just for sketchbook sturdiness reinforcement)
  • Nice drawing pens, pencils, eraser
  • Lunch (or, depending on how prepared I am that day, “snacks to eat on lunch break”)
  • Pop tabs & spare change that I picked up off the sidewalk and haven’t cleared out of my bag yet (this should’ve been on the previous list too, come to think of it…)

(December talking meme.)

All these places I’ve been December 3, 2018

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Nova wanted a post about the places I’ve lived! So here’s the executive summary. (Hopefully vagued-up enough to avoid identity theft.)

I was born in…

Wisconsin

…where my parents lived for the next three years. I don’t remember any of it, but I do blame its influence for the fact that I really, really like cheese.

Then Dad got a job in…

Maryland

Mom worked for a while too, but my understanding is that Dad’s job was the driving factor. He’s the one still working at the same place.

A couple of apartments, one of which I have the faintest memories of, then the house in the suburbs where my parents live to this day. Nothing too elaborate (if you remember the neighborhood from Desperate Housewives…yeah, all those houses are at least twice the size of ours), but nice and stable.

Lived there until…

College

Four years spent mostly in middle-of-nowhere rural MA. Interspersed with a semester abroad in the outskirts of Canterbury, New Zealand, which was great.

After graduation, a friend who was studying in Boston needed a housemate (shoutout to Katy), so I packed up all my stuff for good and moved to…

Massachusetts

Spent the next eight years going through a string of apartments, and housemates, and low-paying temp jobs, in the Boston area. (In the middle of this I went to grad school, though you wouldn’t know it from my employment history.)

For the most part I deeply enjoyed it! Met awesome people, followed cool opportunities, felt generally comfortable in the culture.

But the rents kept rising, while my income kept…not. Then 2016 happened, when my vote (among three million others) didn’t matter because of where I lived. And, you know. That sucked.

I considered moving back to Wisconsin. It’s a swing state, there would be a nice feeling of coming-full-circle about it, and I would get to personally vote against Paul Ryan. But then came offers of support from family members, which were pretty hard to turn down. Which is why now I’m in…

Ohio

As of this writing, still crashing at my aunt’s place. A planned short-term stay turned (by mutual agreement) into a medium-term stay. I’ve officially shifted into apartment-hunting mode, though! This post will be officially out-of-date by some time in January. (Barring any unforeseen complications. Knock wood.)

(December talking meme.)

The latest adventures of “good guys with guns” November 23, 2018

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People killed by police in the US, 2018. Discontinued by the volunteer maintainer at the end of July, at 720.

“Roberson was wearing his uniform, including a hat emblazoned with the word “security,” and was holding a firearm he was licensed to carry. Midlothian police confirmed that two officers responded to the scene at the bar on Sunday and that one of them opened fire.” He WAS the “good guy with a gun,” and that’s what got him shot and killed by another “good guy with a gun.”

“Dallas police said Friday they are seeking a warrant for manslaughter against one of their own after an off-duty officer entered the wrong apartment in her building and killed a man who [actually lived there].” That’s right, she didn’t even pretend to be investigating a suspected crime, she just walked into a guy’s apartment and killed him. Justice for Botham Shem Jean.

They saw a car full of black people sitting in front of a Walmart, and they decided that was suspicious. They just began pouring bullets … It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. It’s mind-boggling, the use of force.” Justice for Diante Yarber.

[A police spokesperson] confirmed that Washington had a valid concealed carry permit. Washington was a Navy veteran and an employee with the United States Postal Service since 1998. He worked with the collections unit as a letter carrier at the main office in downtown Portland, where he also served as the union shop steward.” Justice for Jason Erik Washington.

“Banning large magazines and bump stocks was part of PERF’s call to limit the availability of high-power firearms. The Waffle House shooting also raised the issue of “red flag” laws, under which authorities are empowered to seize weapons from those who show signs of mental illness or other crises. Police had earlier taken guns from the Waffle House shooter, but his father apparently returned them to him.”

This last one, this is the big one. The way to stop this bad guy with a gun was to stop him from having guns, and the law had him clocked before the shooting, but with NRA-tied hands they weren’t able to follow through.

*massive sigh of post-moving-to-Cleveland relief* May 31, 2018

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I made it!

Staying at my aunt’s apartment in Cleveland, which is in a building tall enough that I can see Lake Erie from the window. All the boxes I shipped ahead of time have arrived — they make a surprisingly small pile in the corner of one room.

My parents showed up for the last few days in Boston, so everything I own that isn’t here is in the trunk of their car. Another couple trunkfuls of stuff went out on the front curb — books, dishes, still-half-full bottles of shampoo and body wash, lamps, fans, two entire cupboards’ worth of unbrewed tea.

All the furniture also went. For a while I was thinking about hiring movers for a few things, but finally decided to let it all go, including the couch I brought all the way from Baltimore and have been napping on since middle school. (It’s the one all the cats have sat on.)

The next-door neighbor complained about all this stuff being outside “when trash pickup isn’t even until next week.” Meanwhile, a regular stream of people came by and took things they wanted. (Guess what race/gender the neighbor was. Guess what race/gender most of the picker-uppers were not.)

My two housemates each cleaned their own rooms, but, for various reasons, made no effort to help with the kitchen or bathroom. (Or return rental equipment, or put general-house-use items on Craigslist, or…I could go on.) So, while Mom focused on helping me pack the last round of boxes, Dad basically scrubbed the whole apartment. I don’t know what I would’ve done without them.

And then…at last…to the airport! It had one stop after Boston before continuing on to Cleveland — same plane, just a new flight number — but I guess the computer hadn’t figured that out, because I had to haul my stuff off, get my boarding pass re-scanned, then turn around and haul it right back on.

Didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before. Didn’t get any sleep on the plane, either. Every time I closed my eyes I saw half-packed boxes.

But now I have slept! And eaten. And restocked on conditioner/deodorant/etc from the local CVS. And programmed my webcomics to allow admin access from this IP address.

So far…so good. (Knock wood.)