For years now I have been fighting with various degrees of depression, dejection, loneliness, ennui, and existential terror. I don’t think I’m alone. I don’t think my experience is unordinary. On the contrary, I think most people are lonely; most people are dejected; most people feel an intense lack of purpose in their lives; most people are just worn threadbare and wishing for a break from the unceasing trudgery. In the last three years I’ve made impressive progress in managing my various distresses and I’d like to share them with you.
This is a weasel. She makes my heart happy. I love her. I tell her this frequently, but she doesn’t care. She’s too busy stashing tubes and murdering jingle toys.
At nine years old, she’s quite the old lady, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t notice. She only seems bothered by my inadequacy as a human to better predict her desires.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll have her. Every day that she wakes and makes demands of me is a treasure.
Weasels is wonderful.
In Japanese there is a word yoyu which means something akin to “wiggle room,” or “having extra leftover.” You might use it to compliment someone’s riding:
“You climbed that hill with yoyu!”
or to express concern for your budget:
“I never have any yoyu at the end of the month.”
Yoyu is critical to maintaining happiness and composure on your path. Whether you are trying to achieve peak performance as an athlete (me!), or just trying to make it from one day to the next amidst the various demands of work, social life, personal health, family, bills etc (also me), protecting your yoyu can be the difference between achieving your goals and crashing in a blaze of terrific splendor somewhere midway.
What do weasels, fetishes and sports have in common? If you try and connect with people who are interested in any of these, you will inevitably find websites or chatrooms filled to the brim with people whose lives are defined by these.
It’s a thing. Media coverage in almost any form on almost any topic you could be interested in will inevitably focus on an audience whose interest excludes all other aspects of their life. It’s almost as if our society, our global society, thinks that people can’t have multiple interests, or only mild passions, or that their own identities cannot be defined by more than one thing at a time. I’ve seen it everywhere and it’s maddening.
I think relationships are the hardest to deal with. If you are a mom you are only a mom! You can be a working mom, a sexy mom, a stay-at-home mom, but you can’t be, for example, a professional athlete. On the other hand, if you are a pro athlete, you can have babies, but only as a hobby. Or else you have to quit being an athlete. You can’t possibly be a top level athlete AND be serious about raising your kids.
If you are single, you can have an identity that includes lots of stuff. However, if you start dating someone you are “Brangelina” — inseparable and unidentifiable from your significant other. We can go sexual identity, too. If you are polyamorous then your entire life is organized around managing your relationships.
I remember when I first got my weasels and I was trying to figure out how to feed them a healthy diet. I joined the American Ferret Association facebook group and was immediately bombarded with battle cries of the raw diet. I was criticized if I didn’t talk about my weasels as the most important thing in my life, if I didn’t think they were smarter or cuter than all other animals, and worst, if I dared suggest that life as a single woman in the Ivory Towers meant feeding raw was too much work for me. Nothing could possibly be more important than my weasels!
I am most certainly tired of all this single mindedness. I think, though, more than just tired I am also lonely. It’s hard to find community when everything you see is so focused on the extremes and you feel like the only person in the world who dares care about her job and her hobbies. Is it so incomprehensible that I might want a strong body and be a woman at the same time? Is it such a sin to feed raw meat as a supplement to kibble? Can I possibly enjoy sex without its pursuit being my entire identity? The resounding answer that comes to me through the Internet is ‘No, absolutely not’.
Perhaps here is my solution: stop seeking community through the Internet. But does any one alive today still find community in the real world? Please, teach me how.
Acknowledgments: This post was inspired in part by The Goddess of Java, the one blogger I know who continues to live and write about real people having real, complete lives.
Meet Wilson! He’s a small ferret boy approaching seven years old. He and I have worked for his entire life to get him on a healthy diet and he has fought me every step of the way. We started when he was a baby on Marshall’s ferret food (please, never feed this food or any Marshall product to your ferrets!). It was weeks before he would accept ferretone-tinged Marshall’s food. Then it was weeks before he would eat any kibble shaped differently from Marshall’s food. Months followed before he would eat all his dinner without leaving the different flavored ones behind. Five years after he came home with me I finally succeeded in getting him to eat some duck soup (which was actually boiled chicken), and now, six years of living together and he is finally on a whole prey raw meat diet. Here is what I feed him and his girlfriend of five years, Amber CTB.
Their main diet at the moment consists of whole, pureed, raw quail. I throw it bones and all into my new Vitamix and spin it on high for about 30 seconds until it comes out pink and smooth. Often I will supplement with chicken skin or organ meat as my guys are pretty old and need the extra calories and protein. I admit, I gagged a little the first time I made it, but now it’s no big deal to me. About two months ago I started mixing up chunks of raw quail into the soup in the hopes that they would accidentally get in the weasel’s mouth, and then he would have to eat them. Luckily this strategy worked. I remember the night I woke up to hear happy weasels crunching on quail bones.
Once I had both of my smalls eating the whole meat pieces I stepped it up and added in pink mice. Weasels need a variety of meats to get balanced nutrition. I’m not sure how much variety is necessary, but in any case I found a reptile supply shop that sells individually frozen mice of all ages, so I order two tiny bags of small sized pinkies. Knowing Wilson, if I threw this little guy into his meat dish straight up he would carefully eat around it and it would just go bad, so I had to be sneaky. The first ten mice went into the blender with their quail. The eleventh mouse got cut in half and mixed into two separate servings of meat. Poor Wilson had no idea he was eating whole mouses! A few weeks later, I stepped it up to two pinkies per regular serving of meat.
In the most recent menu, one serving of meat includes about 45% whole quail, 45% chicken thigh and skin, and the last few pieces are baby mice. I divide up the meat and put one day’s worth into these tiny 80mL containers and refreeze them after they’re cut into Wilson-won’t-hide-this-in-my-underwear sized pieces. When I serve it, I put it in a small dish submerged in hot water and ladle soup over it. It only takes about five minutes in the water to get warm enough for my little things to find it appetizing. One container of meat and about three teaspoons of soup is all they will eat in a day right now, so that’s what I put out for them.
I have to say it is a lot of work to feed raw. It’s incredibly rewarding, though. Wilson and Amber have never been plumper despite their age and Amber’s recent health issues. I love being in control of my babies’ nutrition, too. I had searched all over looking for dry food that was ferret appropriate, but ultimately I came to the conclusion that no commercial product actually respects the obligate carnivorous nature of the ferret, along with their incredibly short digestive system. Pricewise, at the moment it is definitely more expensive that dry food, too. Probably about 50% more. But ferrets are tiny — 80 mL of meat for a meal! — so it’s not really a financial burden at all. More the time factor, really.
The next steps for my weasels are to get them to eat meat off the bone so that I don’t have to cut it. It’s supposedly good for their teeth to gnaw on big chunks, so I’m working up to chicken wings. They also need fur and feathers to replace fiber and bulk up their stools. I bought a pair of unprocessed marmots for that purpose, but when they arrived I had no idea what to do with them. They’re huge! And furry! At this point, however, I am simply pleased that my weasels will accept the food I prepare for them. Their doctor agrees with the diet and I am able to adjust the fat, protein and vitamin content of their food as they age, which is a huge source of comfort to me. I love my little furries and I highly recommend that anyone else who cares for weasels make the effort to incorporate at least a little raw. No amount of convenience can replace the ability to give your small things the nutrition they need, especially when their health starts to decline as my guys’ is.
I’m tired lately for so many reasons.
My sweet little girl-weasel has been fighting illness for a solid month now. At first she stopped eating and then ran an extremely high fever for half a week. Her weight dropped precipitously and she started coughing in the night, making a sound like screaming in pain. Three courses of antibiotics and three mysteriously, and suddenly, swollen and useless feet later and we are finally beginning to understand her condition: congestive heart failure. I’ve been feeding her the majority of her meals for a month now, alarms set on my watch to go off throughout the day so I don’t forget, and taking her to the vet twice a week for the whole length of her illness. I feel like a single parent without a road map: I don’t sleep at night because every sound she makes wakes me, I don’t eat properly because my focus is on her, I never leave my house to socialize because I have such a tiny, wonderful thing in my care.
I keep myself entertained by cooking and rewatching the same 7 films I have downloaded onto my hard drive. Lately they all make me cry. I think my feelings are getting stopped up inside me and the movies pull the plug on the pressure valve and they all come gushing out. I don’t even know why there is so much cry inside me. One guess is that this is years of suppressed emotion, years of self imposed “strength” finally being stripped away and detoxified from my heart, like that cough that lingers long after the cold has passed. I’m trying not to fight it, though the reflex is to choke the tears back every time they well up. It’s natural, is it not?
I find that my emotions tend to come in waves. I’ll get a wave of happy and a wave of sad. Sometimes they’ll overlap each other and I’ll get blubbery looking up at the night sky on the way home. Lately I seem to have tapped into a well of past anger. I’m sure it’s just a massive time lag as the experience when I remember the episode is every bit as bitter as I knew it should have been back when I was busy being rational and cool headed and completely missing my life as it was happening to me. Everything that upsets me now comes out as bitter hatred, whether it’s for the constant construction that I can’t seem to escape no matter how far away I move, or the memory of past lovers’ disregard for my feelings or needs. The other day I nearly lost it because my most recent partner wants to consult my past partner, a man-child who is in our social circle, about being involved with me. Frankly, I don’t give a shit what the two of them talk about, but somehow it made me feel like a commodity being rented out and before I knew it I was spitting rage at the very idea.
Most likely, I am just tired. Everything I do these days feels like a struggle and when I get myself on top of one task, I find I’ve let another fall apart. My stomach is upset, so I go back to my candida diet only to find that my body can’t produce enough heat to keep me warm in the evenings and I end up burning up all my oil to bring the house to a tolerable temperature. Next thing I know I can’t make it to the grocery store because I have to buy more oil and I have to decide if I want to be full and cold or warm and hungry. In the background, my little girl is waiting for me, depending on me, and there is no one to help me out but me. Living alone — not having a family — it’s difficult. It’s not the way humans were built. I often wish society would get it’s shit together and realize that it’s collectively killing itself, but it’s a long way down before we hit rock bottom. It’s long, and it’s lonely and it’s incredibly tiresome.
I’m very tired these days.
These days I cry all the time. Yesterday I was telling a friend that I like to just sit and watch my ferrets eat. Just remembering the contented sounds of munching and crunching, and imagining my girl’s face as she squints her eyes to chew, with little crumbs spilling out of her mouth, made me well up. Today I listened to a sermon by my friend Rev Bev and she likened the need that we have to play and to experience pleasure to the call of the wild geese. Lying on my living room floor, looking out the window at a clear morning sky, I could see the geese and hear their call and they were calling me to get up and to go outside into the wild where I can be free and find life. I’m streaming now even as I type.
Why do the tears come so readily these days? I feel as if they’re always there just under the surface waiting to gush out at any moment. When I cry my feeling is always the same. There is a world. There is life. It’s so close I can feel it in my skin. My stomach screams and my chest fortifies itself to keep the scream inside me for fear it rips the skin of my bones on its way out. When I cry, it’s always because the seal that keeps me in and the world out is growing thinner and tiny holes are melting their way through to the outside. I cry because I desperately want to leave this prison that I have grown up in but I can’t find the knob on the door. Of course the reason that I can’t find the knob is because I’m not ready to. I’m afraid to open the door to freedom because I’m afraid it might kill me.
My words are metaphoric, but in fact they are also written with deadly sincerity. The trap that binds me is the invisible and ubiquitous blind of civilization. It binds me with rules of success, rules of propriety, rules of separation, hard work and lovelessness. To break free of these binds would be to rid one’s self of the need to follow the rules. Some of these rules are enforced with violence. If I love the wrong person I may be incarcerated, the invisible bounds of civilization replaced with the very solid bounds of a cell. If I work towards the wrong cause, not being successful enough by the measure of money, then everything I own can be taken away from me by force. In a world where even the sky and the water that falls from it are owned by someone, to lose everything one owns is to be truly trapped. It could kill me to be separated from nature. I could suffocate from concrete.
I am trapped between two worlds. My heart fully inhabits a world of abundance, of the awesome power of thunderstorms and howling wolves, of the thrill of sex so deep our bodies melt into the universe, mix, and return to us with little concern for whether all the bits go back to their original owners, of the peaceful crunching of tiny jaws on tiny kibbles… My heart has left my mind behind to live in this beautiful world and my mind reels from the pain of separation. My mind resides in the plane of utility bills and income tax, resumes, employment and visa applications. My mind still believes that it has to do something, but without my heart it can only answer the how, not the what.
I cry because in these tiny moments my eyes suddenly see clearly and my mind understands that the world it lives in is not the world of my heart. It sees where it needs to go and the contrast between the piercing beauty of that bright and clear vision and the faded drudgery of the world it has grown accustomed to stings. In these moments I’m torn in a different direction. The longing is so sincere and only in these moments do I understand it well enough to rejoice in the vision and mourn its absence from my daily life. I cry from the pain, but it also purifies me. Each time the tears come I feel my eyes see a little more clearly, my heart speaks a little more loudly and my mind seems to find just a little more direction. Perhaps one day the call will be too strong to ignore. Perhaps the fear of every threat that civilization can throw at me will suddenly lose its power to move me. Perhaps on this day the geese will fly overhead and I’ll hear them and finally step outside into the sun to follow them over the horizon.