The Great Bookening 2014 (or Katje finally unpacks and puts away ALL THE BOOKS)

Almost all of them. I’ve yet to really unpack Mr. Katje’s books (I did 2 boxes; that’s all), but I’ve done all of my books, which was 30+ boxes so it’s kind of a big deal.

Look, pictures!

The Great Bookening '14: non-fiction and unread fiction.

Non-fiction and unread fiction. Most of the non-fiction is of the sort that will help my writing along (history, culture, books on writing craft, grammar, books of names), but there’s also a lot of theatre and film books on these cases. Also, writing notebooks and proofs. You may notice the cases are overflowing. This is true of most of the bookcases in the house, because I had to sacrifice one when we needed a TV stand.

The Great Bookening '14: God-bothering books.

God-bothering books, as mom calls them. Lots of books on Buddhism, esoteric stuff, spirituality…etc. This is also my meditation corner, hence the Thangka on the back of the door and the little altar/shrine areas.

The Great Bookening '14: read fiction

Read fiction. Double-stacked. Triple-stacked even. (For scale: all these books used to take up five shelves on another bookcase.)

The Great Bookening '14: misc

Misc. mish-mash! This was one of the first cases I filled up and I was in such a “FUCK ALL THESE BOXES” mood that I just jammed whatever the hell up there. Journals at the top, some language books, comics and children’s books, First Nations studies, history, science…the list goes on.

The Great Bookening '14: cooking, crafting, fiction

And the cooking, crafting, herbalism, knitting/crocheting, and Mr. Katje’s books shelves. Not totally full yet — will be when I unpack some more of Mr. Katje’s books.

So I have managed to unpack and put away all my books, and am making a dent in Mr. Katje’s books. It is likely we will have to get another bookcase for the rest of his books.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sleep for forever. Or eat a lot of food and watch NCIS, season 7. (Mr. Katje has gotten me hooked on the show and I expect I will soon catch up to current episodes.)

-Katje

The Great Rewashing of 2014

For the past 4 days I have had the worst allergy attack of my life. Runny nose, inflamed eyes, hives, itching constantly — itching so bad I wanted to cut off my skin and set it aflame. I thought I was dying. I thought it was measles (there’s an outbreak in our area and I’m missing one of the shots). I thought I was patient 0 in the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

Whatever I thought, I couldn’t think straight. Couldn’t work, could barely keep house. Most times I couldn’t even concentrate on watching TV shows, which uses the least brain power like, ever.

The itching on my feet was the worst. At some point I attacked them with a pumice stone, viciously trying to scratch the itch out of my skin. It didn’t work, but the calluses are much smoother now.

For three days I suffered until finally Mr. Katje kicked me out the door to go get some godsdamned antihistamines, for Zeus’ sweet sake. (Actually I don’t really think Zeus cares if I’m itching or not; I think it’s rather a thing below his sphere of “Shit I Care About”.) I’m sure he would have picked them up for me if his work schedule didn’t prevent him from doing so.

I’m not really sure how I looked to the people who saw me at the grocery store, but I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. Red-faced, red-eyed, frizzy hair. Jittering and rubbing my hands together constantly like a raccoon hoped up on caffeine pills, scratching my wrists and my arms and my neck and face, my head — whatever skin was exposed. I rubbed my legs together like a cricket and did little dances in the aisles, trying desperately to rub the arches of my feet against the inner soles of my shoes, anything to stop the ever present itch from HELL.

I was so out of it from the allergy attack that it took me agonizingly long to find the antihistamines in the pharmacy section, and even longer to decide which one to get. I wanted non-drowsy, but budget won out — I got the 10 dollar cheaper drowsy meds, no-name brand. Perhaps there was non-drowsy no-name for the same price, but I didn’t see it. My eyes and brain were failing fast.

I also picked up some itch relief cream for some immediate relief for my hands. That was more expensive than the allergy pills, and it didn’t work for shit.

Dancing and jittering out of the pharmacy section, I picked up a new 4L bottle of milk on my way to the checkout. I got through as fast as possible and went home as fast as I could, eager to take pills.

1 – 2 pills every 4 to 6 hours. I took 2, because the attack was so bad I knew I’d need it.

A few hours later I fell asleep onto my keyboard. Keyboard face isn’t very attractive but it was so worth it. A little while later I staggered up and went to bed at 6pm. I slept for 4 hours, and went back to sleep at 5 am.

Woke up at 8am today but despite the short sleep sessions, I feel 100 times better than I did yesterday. The allergy pills are fucking miracles. I can finally function again — as you can no doubt tell, seeing as I’m sitting here writing this post.

Mr. Katje and I spent some time trying to figure out what caused the allergy attack. We just moved; there are a lot of new environmental factors in our lives. We narrowed it down to the new laundry detergent being the culprit. I’ve always had sensitive skin, and have always had to use sensitive skin laundry detergents. We didn’t check carefully enough when we picked this one up — we thought it was sensitive skin, because it was scent-free, but it wasn’t. It’s a brand we’ve never bought before — Cheer — and the only reason we got it was because we were at Costco and it was the only scent-free detergent there.

(Both of us get headaches from scented laundry detergents, and often the scents cause allergic skin reactions for me. The only scented laundry detergents I can stand are the Arm and Hammer ones.)

It’s not bugging Mr. Katje, so likely he’ll continue to use it for his work clothes. In order to save my sanity and my skin, I’m switching to the Tide Free and Clear for my clothes, any clothing of his I may borrow, our towels, and our sheets.

Thus is beginning the Great Rewashing of 2014. I’ve done several loads of laundry in the past 3 weeks — we both had dirty clothing from the move and from everyday wear, and our new washer is…incredibly small, compared to our last washers. We even have less clothing than we did, but now we’re doing more laundry.

I have to rewash almost everything I own. There are very few things I’m absolutely sure I haven’t washed in the Cheer. If there’s any doubt in my mind about a piece of clothing, it gets rewashed. I cannot risk another reaction like this.

Today I started with a load of pants and skirts, and ALL my underwear. Those seemed the most important. The last load I’m doing today is our sheets and duvet covers, as soon as Mr. Katje is awake and off to work — these are actually the most important things to rewash, but I couldn’t start with them because of our different sleep schedules. Tomorrow, shirts, socks, and towels. And so on and so forth, till the end of time.

I feel guilty using the washer and dryer so much, and for clothing that’s ostensibly clean. But there’s no other option. I can’t continue to wear clothing that will give me an allergic reaction.

Yes, theoretically I could go to the laundromat. If I could drive. So long as I’m taking the allergy pills, I can’t operate heavy machinery. Until I can stop taking the pills or we can get me the non-drowsy kind, I’m homebound unless Mr. Katje is driving. As his truck is still full of stuff and he’s working tonight, I’m definitely not going anywhere today.

So it’s into battle with the laundry on the battlefield of the living room I go.

Katje dons a suit of armor and goes charging at windmills with zir lance. “The Impossible Dream” plays in the distance. End scene.

Four Silly Salamanders

I wish I had a picture.

Last night, as Mr. Katje and I were leaving our new place to go sleep at the old place (bed has still not been moved over), we discovered we had visitors — in the form of 4 salamanders on our front step.

Four stupid salamanders. One was in the way, and we didn’t want it to get smushed. We nudged it a little bit and it just sort of went limp. We ended up having to move it ourselves. Then it sat there and looked at us with this angry face on.

Same with the others, who I tried to nudge to get them to move out of the way so it’d be safer for us to leave the house. I really didn’t want to squish them. Nope, nothing doing. They were like cats who didn’t want to leave the sofa.

We left the house with great care, as our front porch light needed a new bulb and it was very dark and the salamanders blended perfectly into the step. Luckily, none were squished, and today we picked up new light bulbs so future salamander visitors can sleep soundly. Or, you know, sit around and do nothing soundly.

Silly or not, the salamanders were very cute. Next time, I will take a picture so I can show you too.

When a Parent Becomes a Terrorist

Trigger warning: abuse, stalking, disordered eating, self-harm

Abuse is like terrorism. It is terrorism. When you’ve suffered abuse, you can spend years living in fear that it — that your abuser — will come back.

I cut my father out of my life on my 26th birthday. I’d tried for years to have some sort of relationship with him, but every time we got off the phone I wanted to binge-eat again. Every time he dropped by unexpectedly, I spent the next several hours double- and triple-checking the door locks, my heart threatening to pound itself out of my chest.

I’d spent my childhood afraid of him, and when I became a teenager that fear didn’t go away — it just became tempered with rage. When I entered college, I tried to let go of the rage. For a while I fooled myself into thinking I had.

I hadn’t. I’d just masked it; convinced myself my relationship with my father was good now. Never mind that no matter what I did, nothing was ever good enough for him. Never mind that every visit, every talk, every email exchange with him was full of venomous barbs, the same verbal abuse that had kept me down since I was a baby.

(You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. He started his verbal abuse the day I was born — and never stopped reminding me of exactly what he’d said, because it was hilarious to him.)

I’ve spent most of my life thinking I’m ugly, stupid, smelly, a waste of space, a worthless daughter, a mistake (his word, not mine). I was hammered with those beliefs falling from his lips like the word of god.

He was always angry. You never knew what would set him off. To be near him meant walking on eggshells. Something might be a lighthearted joke one day but would have him shaking me and screaming in my face the next. His temper was completely unpredictable.

He was worse when he drank scotch, which mercifully happened not that often. But I knew, if that amber liquid was in his cup, to keep my mouth shut and avoid him until he’d slept it off.

During the separation, the endless divorce, I began to fear he’d murder my mom. I started doing anything I could to keep him happy — because I believed if he was happy with me, he’d leave her alone. Of course, keeping him happy never worked; I never knew what, exactly, would keep his mood level, and I have a deep rebellious streak that I cannot seem to tame no matter what I do. I’d always slip up, and he’d be angry again.

I’ve lived with the fear that he’d kill my mom for almost twenty years now. He hates her, though she never did anything to him.

He thinks she stole me; he thinks she brainwashed me to hate him. She didn’t. She didn’t need to — I needed no help in cultivating an unhealthy-to-me amount of hate for the dude who donated the sperm to make me.

The night before my 26th birthday I got a letter from him in the mail. It was full of more abusive statements. It left me in tears on the floor of my bedroom.

Then, in the perfect clarity that comes when you’ve cried out all the moisture in your body and you’re sure you’re going to die from the pain in your heart and you transcend that into a perfect numbness, I realized it was time. I had to let him go. I had to cut him out of my life.

I’m sure he thinks he loves me, but that’s not good enough. His “love” is toxic and abusive. His “affection” puts a shard of ice in my heart, encases me in fear.

After I cut him off — sending him an email telling him I never wanted to speak to him again, never wanted to hear from him, that he was effectively dead to me — he spent a year stalking me online, asking my sister (his other daughter) to get me to talk to him, sending me messages on Facebook and via email.

I, of course, felt terrible — I’d been well-groomed by him.

People wonder why others don’t leave abusive relationships, whether those relationships are romantic or familial or platonic. “It can’t be that bad if she won’t leave him,” people will say. Or, “She’s obviously abusive; why won’t he go? Why won’t he help himself? I guess he’s weak and stupid.”

The people who wonder this have never suffered abuse. If they had, they would know the answer as to why people don’t go, and they would know it has nothing to do with being weak or stupid, or the abuse “not being that bad”.

Abusers know what they’re doing (on some level; not necessarily consciously). They’ve done it before. They’ve picked up their skills either from practice, or from having it done to them.

Abusers also often come from an abusive background. This is why it’s called the cycle of abuse — people repeat roles that played out earlier in their lives.

Part of the abuse cycle is grooming. Grooming is what makes it possible for people who say “I’d never be with someone who abuses me; I’d get out right away” to find themselves trapped in a long, abusive relationship.

Because abusers never start out as terrorists. They start out funny and charming and smart. A bit into the relationship, you might notice a bit of a temper, but that’s normal, right? Everyone gets road rage from time to time–the food at that restaurant was really bad. Besides, they made up for it right away. They apologized for yelling. They brought flowers.

Then you notice that the temper gets lost more often and the time between it and the flowers or reconciliation becomes longer. Yet the time never takes too long, always coming just when you think you might have had enough. Then you think to yourself, “No, I am really loved. People sometimes just get mad.”

It’s a process, grooming is. They get you used to a cycle of behaviour wherein they abuse you and then they apologize. By the time the really bad stuff starts — the stuff that anyone would look at and say, “That’s abuse” — you’re already tightly ensnared in the web.

My father groomed me for years. I’d get the abuse, and then I’d get a reward for suffering it. I began to believe the rewards were proof he loved me, and the abuse was just his clumsy way of expressing his love.

Even if that’s true, it’s no way to live.

So I felt bad after I cut him out, because the rewards had trained me well — always to think about him, about what I was doing to him, about what a bad daughter I was.

I kept the inner voice telling me I should let him back into my life at bay, and held out for a year.

Around my 27th birthday, I decided to give him one last chance. It would not be without conditions.

I wrote out a lengthy letter, outlining the conditions I expected him to meet if we were to have any sort of father-daughter relationship again. I was very, very clear, resolutely firm on my boundaries (which were very narrow — they must be, with him: he will take any widening of boundaries as a sign of weakness, inviting a fresh invasion).

He responded with a message that broke several of the conditions outright.

That did it. I was satisfied, finally, that I had done everything I possibly could have to save the relationship, to save him. I was able to put that part of myself, the part that whispered in my ear But you’re not giving him a fair chance! to sleep. A deep sleep from which it will never wake up.

I gave him more than enough chances. I gave him more chances than he deserved. Him, the man who doesn’t believe in giving people second chances, because “Screw me once, never again!”

(Everyone is out to screw him. He is paranoid and delusional.)

He didn’t stop stalking me. Sent me a message around Christmas. Tried to friend my best friend to stalk me via her profile.

A while ago, my mom was sleeping in the other room and I was just dozing off. She had a nightmare and screamed out in the night. I woke up in a tearing hurry, convinced I’d find my father standing over her and the dog, a smoking gun in his hands. He’s done it–he’s finally done it–he’s killed her and now I’ll kill him ran through my tired, fear-soaked brain.

Of course, Mom was fine. The dog hadn’t even stirred, which tells me there was no real danger — he’s pretty good at distinguishing. His nose would have alerted him to a stranger far before my mom would have shouted in fear.

But this is the terror I live with, every day.

My father knows where I live.* He says he doesn’t, because he’s a liar, but the place I live has been part of my mother’s family for over twenty years. I spent most of my childhood here, visiting my Oma. He knows where it is.

In late January, I started receiving calls from the intercom downstairs — you can tell it’s from there because of the double-ring. The messages were silent (if I’m not expecting anyone, I wait for it to go to message so I can see who it is before I answer — this is part of the terror). They came every day at the same time.

I was scared to leave my house. Coming up from the car with a load of stuff, I would be on hyper alert, waiting to hear my father’s voice down the hallway, and ready to bolt back to the car if I did, tearing out of there in an effort to escape to anywhere else. I was convinced he was waiting downstairs to charm someone into letting him in, just as he used to do in the bad old days in the throes of divorce.

It turns out the calls weren’t from him but I lived in terror for weeks, afraid he’d come by for a “visit”, to “talk” to me about “this silly silent treatment”.

It’s much easier to keep at bay those voices in my head that live by virtue of the grooming I’ve received when he’s not physically near me. Faced with him in real life, I don’t know what I’d do. Cry, likely. Scream, probably. Attack him? Maybe. Tell him I was wrong (when I wasn’t) and let his toxins seep back into my life (which would eventually kill me)? Definitely possible.

This is what abuse does. It turns life into a battle against terror. Every day, until the day he dies, I will fear him. that he will come back to hurt me again, to kill my mom — to finish the job he started when I was a child, to destroy me completely.

My father is a terrorist. I am always on red alert.

~~

*I am in the process of moving, but I am not fully out of my old place. Midpoint next week I will be settled in my new house, the location of which he is ignorant. I will finally feel safe in my living space again.

Turning the new house into our home

Got some stuff done at the new place! For the most part it’s still just boxes and I’m still half-dead, but I did get the fridge magnet-ed and my tea/coffee hutch set up. Definitely made it feel like home to me, even if we haven’t got our bed in there yet. ūüėČ

Behold!

Fridge has been magnet-ed! Can't wait to hear what the Ogre thinks. ;) #KatjesMove

My tea/coffee station! Bags and grounds in hutch above; cups and sundry below. This was Ogre's idea. :D

Pretty excited about the new place! I’m at my mom’s house now, but when I get back to town next week I’ll continue unpacking and putting things away (as well as grabbing the last load from the apartment). Hopefully more pictures as things get put together.

Sorry I’ve missed the last few days of posting; the move has really been all I could do. The stress has calmed down now, though.

See you tomorrow.

-Katje

Insert interesting, witty title here

It should tell you how tired I am that I didn’t even care about missing doing my 750words.com entry yesterday, let alone missing a blog post here. I realized it was going to happen and couldn’t summon the energy to scramble together something. I just let it slip me by.

Moving is always, always, stressful, and I’d hazard a guess and say most people hate it. Even though I am so happy to be getting out of the place I’ve been in since September 2012; even though I am so happy to finally be permanently cohabiting with Mr. Katje; even though I’ve had help from amazing people, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to do this; even though this new place is great, and I’m excited about living there — moving sucks. It sucks big time.

I haven’t gone through my email in a few days and my inbox now has over 500 messages in it. I can barely get an hour of publishing work done each day. Writing? Oh, yes, I think I remember what that was. I think I probably enjoyed it, and would again! (I’m referring to working on my books, here, not blogging.)

Well, that last part is not entirely accurate — since the month began I have written 3 poems. I’m hoping that number will go up. But writing a poem is not the same as working on The Jade Star of Athering or From the Ashes for a few hours. It uses different skills, different parts of my brain.

I have completely fallen behind in my Coursera courses and cannot bring up the energy to actually do any of the work for them. This is unfortunate, as I signed up for the courses in the hopes that they would help enrich my writing life. But I cannot spare the time or energy for them.

All my brain is focused on is The Move. Information falls out of my grey matter all the time, especially spelling — I’ve rewritten parts of this post trying to spell words correctly so many times I’ve lost count. If I’d let it go unedited, it would be unreadable.

All I can think about is boxes and things and do I have the energy to move that bit down to the car today and organizing my piles of random junk that have been moved, wholesale, from place to place for years and that has to end now. I am going through the piles and throwing out what needs to be thrown out and keeping what needs to be kept — but it is a big job, almost as big as the move itself, and I am tired.

So forgive me, forgive my lapses. Right now it is all I can do to keep myself moving, fixing on a future point when I will be fully in the new place, everything will be shiny, nothing will hurt, and I will have my brain back. In the meantime, I struggle to get my fingers to type out the words in my head; I struggle to meet my commitments to myself.

And I’m going on vacation in HabitRPG, or my character will be dead by the end of the week.

-Katje

My best friend today…

fireplacewarmback

No, not my arm, the fireplace in front of which I am sitting. It is really cold outside right now and this thing is keeping my bacon from freezing.

I’m using bacon as a shorthand for butt, there. I’m not talking about actual food.

Anyway. I am sitting in front of this thing and it is keeping me warm and keeping my pain levels down, which is nice! Because my back does not like moving boxes of books around! At all!

I did finish cataloguing them today, though; I have just under 860. Not as much as my initial guess of 1,000 — but practically speaking, there is no difference. It’s still a lot to sort and catalogue and pack and move.

I just finished packing all the theatre and film ones. There were a lot — I was in theatre for 20 years, and film for about 5. The books tend to accumulate.

There is still a huge pile to go (history, fiction, languages, science, arts and crafts, children’s books, comics and cartoons miscellaneous), so I’m getting back to that now. Tomorrow morning the truck comes to grab the big furniture and the boxes of books (and likely the bookcases).

Oh gods I’m so not ready aaaaauuuugggghhhhhhhhhhh

-Katje

I might have too many books.

I only say that because today was spent cataloguing and packing them. There are a lot.

The book situ when I started this morning.
The book situ when I started this morning.

That picture doesn’t show the coffee table and the couch, but they’ve also got books on them — the coffee table, a lot; the couch, not so much.

By midpoint it looked like this:

bookpacking2You can see my laptop open because of the ongoing cataloguing work. I’ve now got 717 books in my library on LibraryThing (796 in all collections, which includes books I’ve borrowed and still want to read and my wishlist).

The couch is covered in books that have been inputted into my LibraryThing catalogue, the coffee table in stacks of books yet to be put in.

You can’t see the piles I added to the coffee table today, because they’re balanced on the edge behind the four boxes of books.

Note: this does not include all the books that were not on the shelves because I’ve been reading them or they’ve been travelling with me — they will be packed, but not in boxes. Nor does this include my own books, of which I have several copies lying around — they will get their own box.

I just finished about 15 minutes ago, and now the living room looks like this:

bookpacking3

Yeah, I took down all those bookcases. Only one double-stack remains, just off camera. That bookcase contains my notebooks and journals and such on the top, and my late Oma’s books on the bottom. Oma’s books are going into storage — we’re keeping them, because they’re family heirlooms, but neither mom nor I have any room for them in our personal libraries right now.

I think the couch now has more books on it than the coffee table does, which means the more tedious part of my job has been lessened. Packing boxes of books is not, actually, tedious, but adding them to my catalogue is.

You can see my dinner in the last photo. I am eating it right now, at 11pm, because it’s been that sort of day. I’m exhausted and thinking I have too many books.

You know it’s bad when you think you have too many books. (Hint: the correct paradigm is never enough books!)

Tomorrow, up bright and early to pack up the couch-books and input the table-books and then take down the last bookcase.

The Last Bookcase. Sounds like it could be a fantasy/horror novel.

And that’s the sign I should go to bed.

Yeah, I’m going to do that now. See you all tomorrow.

Moving

So, you are probably aware we’re in the middle of moving.

Of what you may not be aware is that it is tiring as hell.

I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been beaten with sticks, and the feeling didn’t go away. I have accomplished very little today because I’ve just lacked the energy. The spoons. I am very low on spoons.

After getting the keys to our new place I moved in some kitchen boxes and then went and spent the night at Mr. Katje’s house. I was so exhausted yesterday that I didn’t have energy for a real blog post, which is why I showed you a picture of my degree. (It didn’t help that yesterday itself was exhausting both physically and emotionally.)

Now, I’m working on filling the car to the gills so I can make another trip down with stuff. The car has to be that full, because I have to take the long way to our new place to avoid the toll bridge, and I don’t want to make a trip that long for a half-full car. Also, I have to unload in one go, because the trip between Mr. Katje’s place and the new place is far enough that I don’t want to make it twice for one load. (The long way from my place to the new place goes right past Mr. Katje’s place.)

Luckily, we will be getting help for the big stuff — furniture — because we can’t handle it ourselves. The small stuff, however, is all on me (Mr. Katje works full-time during the week; he’ll be able to help on weekends, but I’m still doing the majority of the moving work, especially as most of our stuff is coming from my place).

And I don’t move as fast or with as much energy as I used to.

So it’s slow going, and it’s very tiring, and my blogging may suffer for the next few weeks. I’m sorry about that. I will be keeping to my postaday habit, but those posts may just be photos of things.

It’s all worth it, though. We’re moving into a great place, and we’re going to have a great time living there.

We just need to get through this bit. The boxes and driving and going up and down stairs a lot and arg! bit.

6 more weeks of winter, but not 6 more weeks of us half-commonlawing it

That is a very awkward blog post title and I DO NOT APOLOGIZE because I am tired and on a deadline.

Tonight we get the keys to our new place! This means I don’t care if there are six more weeks of winter; Mr. Katje and I will be starting the move-in process tonight. In an hour and a half.

I have been so ready for this moment for so long. We’ve been earnestly looking for a place since July, but before that I was searching Craigslist weekly. I am so happy we finally found a place — and so close to his work!

So I am about to leave the house to go pick up the keys and move in some kitchen items, and then I will probably spend the night at Mr. Katje’s place before coming back here tomorrow morning. Tuesday I’ll bring some more stuff over, and so on and so forth.

Within a few weeks, we’ll be full-commonlawing it. Yeah, that’s right, I’m making commonlaw a verb.

I am incredibly excited. I’m sure Mr. Katje would be showing outward signs of excitement if he were not currently engrossed in a certain Superb Owl.

So, I will see you tomorrow, with a  better post title. Hopefully.