Blood Moon Decisions

I was watching the total lunar eclipse this week on Wednesday eve and I found myself thinking that it was probably a great opportunity for olden priests and holy men to get their people to get themselves sorted out. There’s nothing more convincing than the moon disappearing to use as a benchmark to threaten the masses into submission.
Or, to get their shit in line.
As I looked at the dark moon, seeing its strange blood like reflection looking down at me, I realized without a doubt that I needed to get my own shit in line as well.
I took a big step this week, applying for veterinary science after working for five years in Agriculture. I did this for a number of reasons, one of them being that I was tired of being a sales representative. My company calls me a technical advisor, but inevitably, I am a sales rep – no matter which way you looked at it. And, quite frankly – I’m tired of it.
The other reasons are more personal, though one of them includes trying to finish something that I started and never completed. You see, years ago I thought I would become a vet and started on the program but youthful ignorance of the world made me drop out and follow my own foolish path.
I don’t regret it, but I’m at a point where I realize that I’ll never get any further than I am now unless I do something drastic like become a vet. I wanted to walk a different path than that of marketing, returning more to the technical side of animal production and the only way I could do that was if I had a “Dr.” behind my name. It was either that or go overseas again and, with my Other Half here, that wasn’t an option.
So, in the event that I get it I have to start preparing for a few things.
I have to start get used to studying again, and revise my old university work. I have to start saving (though that I’ve already done) because chances are I won’t have a lot of time to work and study.
And, I have to sort out my current writing WIP’s. I want to get my novel to first draft status by the end of the year (screw my previous goal of just having 50K). I want to finish my fan fiction stories.
And, I want to make sure that this is the right choice – that I will actually finish it this time in the event that I get selected.
I know that this is a big step and even the woman who had to help me with my application tactfully started with the words: “Err, you don’t look 22 anymore…” (Yes, I know I’m going gray, don’t RUB IT IN!) But, this is something that I want to do, have to do.
And, it’s something to hold onto, something that might well get me through my job for the rest of the year.

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The Empty Room, a Symbol of Faith in Mankind

On the twenty sixth of May, whilst driving home from one of my rural excursions, I came across a dog. He was abandoned, thin, malnourished, old and desperate. Desperate for attention, (for food) and for a good home. I took him without thinking, without hesitation. This dog had asked me to help him, had been send my way with a purpose, and I could not disobey.

I could not close my eyes and let him pass.

What followed was one of the most turbulent weeks of my life (one of the reasons why I have not been posting for those of you who follow my blog regularly). Though I had known that I would encounter some resistance in my act of mercy when I brought the dog home, I had not prepared myself for the full blown act of war that would be declared on me by my housemates. The one lad bluntly told me that we couldn’t keep it as he believed that dogs were raised by people and that you could not bring a stranger into your house (I only realized much later that their dogs had always been terrible animals who used to bite people. So what kind of a person did I have in my house?!). My brother, the hardest blow, shouted at me from the moment I came into the yard till the moment I closed my room door in his face. He apologized the following day, saying that he overreacted but he stood firm in what he had said the night before.

The dog had to go.

At first, I stalled. There was something in this dog, whom I decided to name Harry (based on Harry Potter, who nobody wanted either). When we were driving home after I found him, he had sat with his head in my lap all the way – in a manner that was unmistakably grateful. I have been playing with the idea of getting another dog and here one literally fell into my lap. And the Great Hand of fate and life was even kind enough to send one my way that was among the few that didn’t stir up my somewhat severe asthma.
I took Harry to the vet who gave him a cleanish bill of health. He had some problems with his eyes, but that was just because he had not been groomed properly in months and he was severely malnourished. I also found out later (after some observation) that he was stone deaf.

He needed good care and a lot of patience, something he wasn’t getting from my housemates. Under normal circumstances, I would just have ignored them but unfortunately due to my work and routine, I am not at home between two and three nights of the week. They had to be willing to feed him and take care of him and they refused to do it. They even refused to let him in the house, but dared to complain when he whined at the door to be let in.

The final straw came on Sunday, after I came home after having to tend to an emergency at our farm with the horses, when my brother send me a scathing text message, telling me that the dog had been barking all day. When I returned home, he wasn’t barking but calmly lying in his basket in my room. The other dog was in the house and already fed. The door was closed and Harry was alone, outside.

Unfed.

Something in me snapped. Not only was I faced with my own inability to provide this dog with a good home, but I was forced to acknowledge that my brother wasn’t the person I had always hoped him to be. That he was the kind of person who could do this to a dog, something that could be remedied simply but putting out two bowls of food and opening a door.

I realized that something had to be done, and it had to be done quickly as I had another business trip coming up at the end of the week. I send out what could only be labeled as a desperate plea, a call to somebody, anybody who would take in this dog and give it a better home than I could. I was scared and disheartened because I didn’t think that anybody would care.

But, I was proven wrong as the response was overwhelming.

Before my call for help was twelve hours old, people from all over the country had called me – all willing to either give this dog a good home or help me find one. One response in particular touched me so much, I almost cried:

WE CAN FLY THIS BEAUTY ANYWHERE IN SA, SO THE FACT THAT HE’S IN PTA CURRENTLY, MUST NOT BE AN ISSUE WHEN DECIDING TO MAKE HIM PART OF YOUR FAMILY 

After evaluating all the offers, I chose a woman who had called me, saying that not only was she familiar with the breed – but she had had an old poodle of her own and wouldn’t mind taking care of another. She worked from home, lived in a quiet part of town with a big yard and was willing to drive an hour and a half to come and pick up Harry. She will keep me updated on his progress and luckily, I work in the vicinity once a month so I can regularly check up on him.

I let him go and although I feel a little emptier now that he is gone, and my room more cold and lonely, I feel better than I did all week when faced with my housemate’s outright cruelty (as there is no kinder way to describe it).

My faith in humanity, though damaged by the actions of my blood relation, has been repaired and it has shown me that perhaps, just perhaps, there is something in mankind worth saving.

Certainly, in all the people who have helped me find a home for Harry when I failed.

Waiting to Breathe

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had asthma. It’s not severe, or crippling, usually I can continue with my life as most people with only the odd attack. I was told that I’d grow out of it, but as it turned out, it got worse as I got older – probably because the air that we’re breathing has become much much worse.

I had an episode this weekend, without warning, without real cause. One moment I was laughing with my friends (we were quite hysterical actually) and the next I was coughing and choking, desperately trying to breathe with lungs which refused to take in any oxygen. My Other Half, who’s had to deal with this before, raced to get my inhaler and I was left, alone.

Waiting.

Waiting to breathe.

Those moments are always endless. My every breath is normally followed by a violent spasm of coughing. My instincts scream at me to breathe faster to gasp for air yet I have to remain calm and try to keep my breathing in a steady rhythm. Slow and calm for all the panic that is pushing through me.

Last week was a bit like this, my life threw a metaphorical asthma attack my way, sending me sprawling in all directions trying to organise home, work and everything else that happened in between the lines. My heart raced every moment and I found myself holding my breath as I rushed from one end of my life to the next, waiting for that breath which would come to relief me. Everything stopped as I waited for relief. I stopped writing, stopped blogging, even stopped doing Script Frenzy and letting myself get terribly behind with my page count.

It was a survival mechanism, just as the one which I have to breath slowly and deeply when I have an asthma attack.

Now, the moment’s passed – and I am back. I suspect that I will lose the Script Frenzy challenge I had gotten myself into, but that’s alright. I will still make 100 pages before 30 April.

And I will write, and blog, and carry on with my life.

Because I am breathing again.

Equilibrium and Fish

As with all things in the universe, equilibrium is reached.
Eventually.
When I first got my new fish tank, I had a couple of teething problems. I had a bout of white spot disease, fin rot and the mysterious death of my black more fan tail. It took me approximately 3 weeks to sort it out after which I suddenly had a burst of algae growth. I bought a pleco to deal with that and, can now say with confidence that my problems are most probably sorted out.
Equilibrium has been reached and my remaining fish are happy – if a bit too over eager to eat too much.
I’ve found the same in my work.
In December my General Manager quit the job and left all of those underneath him in a flurry of confusion and in the sights of our CEO who swooped in and tried to change (and improve I should add) all the systems that had been in place. In the past four weeks, we’ve had so many upsets and change that the whole pharmaceutical staff was upset. One man quit his job and two others started searching for other positions in other companies. Being new to the industry, I knew that there was no way I’d be able to find another job, so I stood in the middle of it, trying hard to ride out this wave of upset.
I found myself clinging to the thought that, as in the case of my fish tank, equilibrium will have to be reached one way or the other. It didn’t help me sleep at night, but it did keep some the rising sparks of panic at bay which has a habit of upsetting my whole psyche.
I also tried very hard not to pay the panic of other people any mind, knowing how hard it can be if you allowed yourself to be swept away by the insecurities of others.
And, luckily, my strategy worked.
Eventually, after everything was mixed around, things settled and – today for the first day in almost a month, I feel as if I can breathe again.
Things aren’t perfect, but I think our boss realized that he had to stop trying to change everything at once and we realized that we had to trust him a little.
So, I can breathe again. And, it’s quite rejuvenating.

The Open Wound

As I was coming out of a chicken house today, I slipped and scraped my hand on some concrete. Only the skin was off, so I rinsed it and went on with my day, not sparing it a second thought as I was pretty busy. I was only reminded of it again tonight as I gave my hands a thorough cleaning in the shower. It stung and hurt – reminding me of an event that I’ve forgotten about.

I realized as I stood there, watching the water pool at my feet, that it was a pretty good reflection of the my life. Last week I had an occurrence which scraped the skin off of an old wound in me. At first I ignored it, but then, when I had the time to digest it, I realized that I hurt and the pressure under which I currently had to work with just made it worse. My inner being came to a grinding, soundless halt and I was thrown into a quiet which had been my companion for a long time when I was younger. My writing stopped and I found myself aimlessly sitting in my chair, staring at my fish because that was the only thing that made me happy. Everything else felt as if it took too much energy.

The good thing was that I recognized this. Sunday, as I was about to do my weekly drabble, I stared at the screen and realized that I had nothing to say. That there was nothing that I could say until this quiet in me lifted. I saw the signs and obeyed them and packed up my writing computer for the past few days. When I got home, I indulged in whatever mindless movie I could find, keeping the company of Ellen Ripley, Alien Killer connoisseur and Alice, Zombie basher buff. I knew what my soul needed and I provided it.

The reason for this is that as writers, be it professional or not, we tend to use quite a lot of our energy in our work. The greatest stories are built on the anguish of authors. We open up veins and let them bleed all over the pages regularly. And, we can only do that successfully if we have the energy to let it run. I knew that if I wrote more, if I continued on the track that I was – hurling through my fiction, I would’ve burned myself out and forced my hands to be still for weeks to come. Now, I gave myself a break to let the open wound in me heal so that I can move on.

It’s very important. Writing isn’t just about the story – it’s about yourself. About what you can offer and what you have to give to the characters to make them survive.

Because by doing so, you let yourself survive.

Take a break every now and again, and make sure you know yourself. It will safe you in the end.