Nyxie is doing great! And who says you can’t train a cat? Nyxie knows what “sit” means and knows that it earns her a treat. She knows how to come get me to turn on her kitty arcade games because the training goes both ways.
We have met a hurdle though: learning how to walk on lead.
Supposedly, the biggest part of getting Nyxie to walk on a lead is getting her used to wearing it. We gave her a few hours on day two (a couple weeks after the first hour) and rewarded her after tracking her down.
I later found her sulking on my spot on the bed, one of her front legs half wriggled out.
[To anyone judging me because there is an obese pygmy giraffe plush toy on the bed: you know you’re jealous.]
But I had a reward for her (in addition to the treats I gave her for her walking around earlier). A new toy!
This provided some soothing distraction while I removed the harness and lead.
The toy was a hit!
I did make sure she really liked her toy before I jumped in to remove the thing she has been playing dead while wearing all afternoon.
She’s so cute with her toys. We’ll see how long this one survives.
It turns out she makes funny faces while playing.
After getting out of the harness she stopped sulking rather quickly.
Sometimes she’s a bit surprised to be caught on camera.
And so we live to continue acclimating Nyxie to the harness and lead another day.
Every morning Nyxie waits by the back door, begging for me to let her outside. For now, I look forward to the day I can put that harness and lead on her, then step outside for my morning yard chores, taking her with me. Hopefully that day is soon.
This post is a little different. It’s a bit personal and talks about bullying, as well as lack of family support.
I used to draw a lot more than I do now. I never took art classes and was not allowed to take them. The above was a self portrait I drew in 2003 just prior to Hurricane Isabel wiping out our town.
I’d like to think I wasn’t bad at art, but it wasn’t a talent that those around me thought was worth my time pursuing. Others felt more strongly about using my art (even if I tried to keep it private) as a means of hurting me, much like anything else they could use in that way. Sometimes I’ve wondered if things would have been different, but it’s better to not think like that.
15-17 years later I have a little perspective. As my teenage years went on, I became discouraged and stopped drawing all together. I associate creating art with people using it to hurt me. While I’ve painted on occasion since becoming an adult, I’ve found the same issues with discouragement.
The whole point of my drawings were to bring a visual from my stories to life. This meant that in high school I found myself the Editor In Chief of our literary magazine and, instead of it feeling like an honor, it felt like a bullseye had been painted on me.
At some point I stopped wanting to explain myself over and over to people cornering me and interrogating me. “Why don’t you draw real things?” “Why are your proportions all wrong?” High school was hell for me. I have nightmares worrying about how the people who treated me in such malicious ways may now be abusing their own children and spouses. If they treated classmates with such physical, psychological, emotional, and verbal abuse for the sole purpose of their own sick enjoyment, is that something they would grow out of?
In high school I stopped wanting to deal with bullies writing rude things in my sketchbooks when they were stolen and, with no one to stand up for me, I was convinced I deserved it. My family taught me that I was to “stand there and take it.” It turns out if your family doesn’t support you, you have no example to base standing up for yourself on. I grew up like that – it took me until age 29 to have any ability to stand up for myself. I still struggle with it.
Few of my pictures aren’t ruined by the markings of those that stole my sketchbooks to write their own commentary. I’ve included the non-ruined ones here.
I figured I would take pictures of these couple drawings before I throw them away as we declutter the house. At least that way I have them and don’t have to look at the horrible things others wrote to hurt me ever again.
Content Warning: This story contains mention of suicide. Reader discretion is advised. This is a work of fiction.
In a little Italian neighborhood near the Coit Tower, a swath of green space invites families to sit on park benches with aesthetic spikes, keeping them empty. Some stray travelers use their time to read real books or eReaders; many play on their phones. The locked public toilets hide behind green and gold painted metal – inaccessible monuments to the city ordinances against the homeless. On a light pole near the Washington Park toilets, hangs an Italian flag – acceptable ethnic pride in a city so focused on Pride.
Two large dogs – larger than their owners – try to distract each other by initiating play. The Bay’s blue water shimmers through the trees as Union Street heads downhill. Against a clear blue sky, the world maintains an invisible boundary: the city on one side, me on the other.
This boundary follows my neighbors when we enter stores, or avoids us on trains. It turns heads when I speak Spanish to those that speak it to me. It garners looks in even the Mission and Bernal Heights neighborhoods, depending on the street. Fuiste de mi vecina. Hablé el idioma de mi vecina. Planning outings, I hear people say they’re “just not comfortable taking public transit because of the people using it.” By “the people,” they mean anyone too poor to use Uber or Lyft – my neighbors, as they’re priced out of their homes. Anyone forced into homelessness by landlords taking advantage of the influx of affluent young people coming to the city, anyone hurt by those supporting and choosing to be part of the problem.
San Francisco culture obsesses over hustle and definitions of achievement, creating blinders for “focus.” I watch my coworkers and the people I thought I knew focus to the point of denying that anything bad ever happens here. They shun or punish those that dare try to draw their attention to something outside their minds. In our company’s Human Resources department, I watch as they “solve” problems by silencing employees that raise concerns rather than admitting any harassment incidents occur. The company wins workplace culture awards from a third party reviewer based on an employee survey none of us ever see.
My friends seek out cults of social acceptance on the weekends. Each event they attend promises their problems will go away and solve themselves with enough positivity (and denial). I hear them talk about the latest seminar over a group dinner. Mental illnesses are a mindset problem. Anxiety, depression, or anything else can only be solved by seeking out “your higher power” – the goals you wish to achieve rather than fall for this weakness. They discourage each other from seeking medical help.
One friend throws himself in front of the commuter train. I imagine him, so positive that the only escape from the pain he felt powerless against was to throw himself in front of that train he shut down for four hours. His mother sobs over thousands of crackling miles of static and telephone lines. His mother lives in Vietnam. I meet her at SFO and pay for the Lyft to her hotel. We sit in silence in the back seat, and she reaches for my hand. “Sean was a good boy,” she whispers to me. I squeeze her hand, feeling the lump in my throat grow and choke out tears. She flies out two days later after collecting his remains and making arrangements for his belongings. I never hear about a funeral.
But the mantras continue for the others: yoga and kale cure everything, including major depressive episodes. Your higher power is what you wish to achieve. That causes people to throw themselves in front of trains. They tell me that I don’t understand. They tell me I’m not eating enough kale. I’m not doing enough yoga. In San Francisco, every conversation leads back to Yoga and Kale. No me gusta col rizada.
From the top of Twin Peaks, I gaze out at the sun reflecting off The Bay and compose my resignation letter. My brain can’t choose to ignore what I see. Closing my eyes, I imagine Sean with his mother – a pair I never saw in life. His beautiful mother, a refugee in America, now, a returned Việt Kiều, lives on without her son. Would my own parents return to the land that they fled? How far does this invisible boundary between water and sky extend? ¿Hasta dónde llegaría para echar agua en el mar?
If this story brought up any difficult feelings for you regarding suicide, please reach out to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-8255 (USA). They are also available to chat 24/7/365
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Content Warning: This story discusses human trafficking and pedophilia. Reader discretion is advised.
Post Street– Chinese New Year Parade – The traffic devours the patience of every San Francisco driver. A choir of horns blasts the pedestrians from the sidewalks as the barricades teeter in place.
An hour and a half after the cab ride began, fire crackers still echo off the buildings while drivers grapple for every opening in the sea of exhaust fumes, foot traffic, and non-motor vehicles. The Little Darling’s Peep Show’s lights blink in contrast to the gated and locked businesses wrapping themselves up against the cool Pacific air.
“I’ll get out here.” The suit commands, opening the door into screaming curses while his fare settles before the door slams shut. He smirks as he reaches the sidewalk – he found her.
She stands at the corner waiting; peahen struts in her heels, suit, and buttercream silk blouse. The man glances at a business card from his pocket, then returns it. He found Her.
Her face never fabricates a smile for him, but she leads him past the iron gate into what looks like an old hotel. She opens a door to an office with a black leather lounger where she motions for him to sit.
“Who gave you my card?” Her lips fall into a pout as she sits on the large oak desk, averting her eyes from his face; playing with her manicured nails.
“I’m looking for a young woman.” He states without answering. “Thin. No stretch marks. Underdeveloped. Small.” He smiles and leans back, crossing his hands over his stomach.
The woman nods, then picks up her phone from the desk, texting someone. A knock at the door reveals a tiny late-adolescent with deep umber hair and fawn skin of no more than five feet tall in heels and a shimmering club dress.
“She will do.” The man stands, then turning toward the desk pulls a wad of cash from a money clip. “Thank you.”
The door slams, leaving the woman alone in the room, vomiting into a trash can. A hidden door in the wall opens, revealing a man with a cloud of hair wafting from his scalp. “Not a fan of this one?”
“I hate his kind.” She snarls, wiping her mouth. “And I hate tiny women.”
The white haired man sprawls on the lounger and laughs. “Why? Men are attracted to small, delicate, vulnerable creatures. It’s instinctual.”
“They’re attracted to them because they’re pedophiles.” She spits.
“Then why hate the women?” The man sits up and cocks his head. “You’re jealous,” he mocks. Her eyebrows attempt to narrow in response; instead only her mouth frowns. “Men are allowed to like what they like. Besides, you’re just doing your job.” Standing, he walks over, wrapping his arms around her shoulders from behind, kissing her neck. “Try not to hate yourself because you’re not one of them anymore.”
Closing her eyes, she sees herself grab the letter opener from the pen cup and stab him in the neck. His eyes bulge out as red arterial blood pulses out onto the Persian rug adorning the floor, ruining her silk shirt he bought not long ago. He collapses onto the desk as she grabs his keys to the safe in the hidden room, grabbing enough of the cash to be free of him forever. Running down the old steps and out of the building into the chaos of San Francisco during Chinese New Year.
He cups her breasts from behind as she opens her eyes. “Where is the money he handed you?” He whispers in her ear.
She hands him the roll of hundreds over her shoulder, then stands, re-buttoning her blouse.
“Good work.” He oozes as she approaches the door.
The sounds in the hallway follow her; remind her; haunt her as she walks down the steps, wondering if now is the time to step outside.
If you found yourself moved, please consider liking, commenting, and/or sharing it with others. Truly, I am grateful for the time you spent reading my work. While you’re here, if you want to learn more about what you can do to help those impacted by human trafficking, or if you are impacted by human trafficking please check out http://humantraffickinghotline.org/.
If you are in need of immediate help and are located in the United States please call 1 (888) 373-7888 or text 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”) 24/7/365