2016 Reflections

2016… A year where too much life happened and none of my personal goals got accomplished.

I recall about this time last year that I couldn’t wait for 2016 to get here. I was all ready for 2015 to end and believed that 2016 will be better…utterly forgetting the lesson that things can always be worse.

It has been, in general, a difficult year for just about everyone. Therefore, saying that I’ve struggled isn’t news. I suppose it should be obvious from the lack of blog posts that I just haven’t been around much online. In fact, I spent most of the year in hiatus.

Then in November, I nearly left the internet for good. I returned about a week ago, and even now, I have to tell myself to check social network to see what my friends have been up to.

Since I haven’t really posted anything, here are some things that happened in 2016.


*New Family Members*

2016 wasn’t all bad. This year, I discover my love of cats, and I have come to the very-young-very-general conclusion that I may be more of a cat person than a dog person. We have entertained the idea of having a pet dog as part of the family, but the decision for that has been pushed time and time again. The reasons were many, but the most important one was that I simply didn’t have the time and energy to take care of an animal on top of my children. I wasn’t entirely sure I could afford to either. I don’t like small dog breeds. I prefer the bigger ones like Huskies and Retrievers, but nothing the size of Dalmatians or Great Danes. I love Samoyed dogs too, so there’s that. However, we weren’t looking to buy from a breeder. Rescue shelters rarely have purebreds, and I just didn’t think I have it in me to bring in a dog that may not bond well with the children.

Then in March, this black cat who looked completely pregnant showed up at our door, probably just passing by and just happened to catch Bitworks outside. Bitworks popped his head in to tell me that there’s a starving cat outside, and I didn’t need to be told again. I immediately opened up the cabinet with our spare dog and cat food and tore open a can for her.

Thus began the journey of getting the mother cat back to a healthy weight. We fed her every day, three times a day, like clockwork. We even tried to make beds and a home for her to have her kittens, but she chose to have them elsewhere. In fact, she might have even just dropped them by the time she showed up at our door.

A source of food secured from gullible humans (me), she started coming by everyday. Then in the last week of April, I found her outside with five kittens. I was beside myself with adoration and excitement.

They were adorable. My heart melted.

Unfortunately, two of the five didn’t come back a week later, leaving the mother with a gray one with white paws, a solid black one like herself, and a black one with white paws. The black one with white paws, unfortunately, got stuck in a neighbor’s fence and had passed away there. Bitworks found the boy and buried it.

Eventually the mother left the kitties after they were raised and were supposed to be able to fend for themselves. Since the kittens were shown that food could be found at our house since they could begin eating solids, they never went anywhere else and began sleeping and spending time here. Just like that, the two kittens adopted us as their family. Actually, it would be more accurate to say they tolerated us.

Three months ago, they started warming up to us, sitting down on our door mat and doing little actions like rolling on the floor in front of us and batting at the door when we stood on the other side. We started buying toys, cat treats, and one night, I started calling them by names.

The gray one with white paws is named “Charcoal.” His sister, the solid black one, is called “Shadow.”

About six weeks ago, we managed to get a scratch in, and I marveled at their soft fur. Charcoal began mewing for Bitworks and he would purr for me. Shadow never truly came out of her shell. She likes the treats well enough, will tolerate 3 strokes of scratching from me at most at random times, and likes to scratch against the glass of our screen door. Charcoal, however, has been quite the affectionate kitten, begging for scratches and strokes wherever Bitworks or I show up at the door, wanting to be rubbed head to where his tail began, over and over, as much as we would.

Our time spent doing so is limited to how cold the weather was.

As the temperature began dropping, Bitworks and I scrambled to fend for our two new additions. At first we had one of the children’s old play huts set up with baskets lined with pillows and a fleece throw the children no longer used to help them retain their body heat. Then we bought them each a heat mat to go on top of that when the weather started dipping into the 30s and 40s, but none of that helped with the freezing wind.

Over the last two weeks, we used CPVC piping and some 4mil plastic sheeting and created for them a temporary home that could easily house their sleeping baskets and would keep the rain, snow, and wind off them at night.

When it’s dry outside and the sun is shining, they’ll be in our neighbor’s yard sunning themselves. When it’s cold, windy, and wet, they’re in their house outside hiding from the cold and baking on their heating mats.

I haven’t a clue if they’re happy. I just hope for now they’re more comfortable as Bitworks and I design a more permanent house for them next, complete with scratching posts, climbing poles, toys on the inside, and (maybe) even a heater to keep them warm.

We’re now officially a family of six. If we were to ever leave, these cats are coming with us.


*The One(s) I Lost*

The animal front wasn’t all smiles, giggles, ooohs, and aaahs.

faith1Between end of July and beginning of August, a starving dog by the name of Faith (picture left) showed up in our backyard sniffing at the scraps of food we tossed out. A couple of years ago, we started a compost heap for ourselves by using the vegetable and fruit peels we get from our preparation and cooking. Of course, the deer and other wildlife likes to partake from that pile, so our compost has yet to be successful *laugh*. That’s all right, we don’t mind.

The problem with buying food like rotisserie chicken is our inability to finish it all in time. We’ll have it for dinner, save the breast section for things like chicken pasta, wraps, or curry, but even then, we can’t finish it all. I will collect the parts we couldn’t finish and Bitworks would put them outside for the wild animals down by our stream.

It was in this pile of food he found Faith. He came inside to tell me, “Honey, there’s a starving dog outside eating in our scrap pile.”

I dropped everything I was washing, cleaned my hands off with a rag and dashed outside to look. I had Bitworks grab some snacks first to entice her closer, and then had him open up a can of dog food that, as usual, I stock in the pantry. Don’t worry, I buy new ones every year because I put dog and cat food out for the wildlife when the weather dips into the single digits. It’s horribly against the rules, but when they look so cold and hungry…

*sighs*

Faith ate 3 cans of dog food, starved for god knows how long. As you can tell from her picture above, that dog had nothing on her but skin. I’m sure you can also tell from those udders of hers, she recently had puppies.

I was frantic. Where were they? Are they all right? How has she been providing when she’s starved to this point?

We fed as much as we thought was safe. The problem with feeding dogs starved to the point of death is the risk of vomiting. If they eat too much all at once, they will just throw it all back up, which hurts them more than it helps them. After the third can (I buy the little cans, not the big ones) and her attempt to eat the spoon I was scooping out her food with, I had to tell her, all the while having my heart break into tiny pieces that I can’t give her any more. I told her to come back later, that I will give her some more, but she will have to wait and let her body adjust to food once more.

We saw her again the next day, and the next day she ate two cans with a little bit of dry dog food mixed in to soften up. Clearing me out of all the stocked cans I had, I rushed to Walmart to buy some more. That night, Bitworks had been up late with work, and at about 1am, he heard something at the door.

Opening, he saw her, a dead puppy in her mouth. By the time he could get shoes on and go out to help her, Faith was gone, the puppy gone with her. He woke me up to tell me this, and the following day, I got dressed, hosed myself down with mosquito repellent, and walked my entire neighborhood through the woods and into the streams and muddy banks looking for Faith and a possible location she might have had puppies. If one died, chances are, the others are in poor condition. How could they be healthy when the mother looked like that pictured above? She didn’t have anything for herself. There wasn’t a way she could feed her puppies.

I never found where Faith had birthed her puppies despite an entire day from when the children left for school and their return. My neighbor found her huddled under one of my neighbor’s porches and carried her back and put her in a cage. After much debate, I put a leash on Faith and with her leading, tried to find her puppies, crawling through briar brush and Holly bushes because that’s what Faith recognized. When 8pm came around, we still hadn’t found her puppies, and she kept trying to go into places I physically couldn’t fit into or through.

Knowing she had puppies, I decided to let Faith go so she could return to them. I hoped, like how the mother cat had kept returning and eventually brought her kittens with her, Faith will do the same. We offered her food. We will take care of her and her puppies. I hoped she understood that.

Our neighbor had also seen Faith during those days we searched for her, and we managed to get the collar off her to find a telephone number. The owner took 2 days to get back to us, and when he was told that Faith had puppies, he claimed he had puppies at home with him. He claimed that they had adopted Faith from a shelter.

BULLSHIT. Shelters aren’t allowed to let pets get adopted without them being fixed. If she had been adopted from a shelter, she shouldn’t have been able to have puppies.

He didn’t seem to care, and he told my neighbor that the dog had been missing for three weeks and that they had been searching for her. That’s why she looked starved.

I just want to go on official record that a dog looking that emaciated isn’t starved for 3 weeks. My father-in-law used to be a breeder. He also used to be a cop. He has seen his fair share of animal abuse and rescued quite a few, and he told us that for a dog, a healthy dog, to be that emaciated, it meant she was starved for at least 6 weeks, maybe more.

I lost my sh!t.

We alerted the authorities, handed over the pictures of Faith that I took, and I even handed over all the pictures I took of the owner’s car (license plate makes it very easy to find people) and his face when he came by to talk to our neighbor (he didn’t realize I was taking them, I’m sure). I was throwing that asshole into the meat grinder. I didn’t give a bloody damn how nice he claims he and his family are.

The cops had a solid case with our pictures, and the man apparently had multiple dogs in his house. Whether they were all in the same condition as Faith, I don’t know, and this wasn’t something we could ask. All I know from the vine (since we do work with the cops) is that he lost all his dogs, was slapped with an $800 fine and let go.

Justice, ladies and gentlemen, was not served.

I never saw Faith again after that day I followed her trying to find her puppies. I didn’t know if she lived or died, nor do I know if any of her puppies survived. For 2 months we kept an eye out for Faith, for sounds of puppy yips, hoping that she will return to us, hoping that we could keep her and her puppies and give them a good, warm home full of love and potentially rambunctious children who would most likely want to sleep with the dogs in their beds.

I never forgave myself for letting her go that night. In a bid to save them all, I lost them all. But I couldn’t live with myself for leaving them to die either. I didn’t know what to do. I made a choice. Was it the right choice?

I may never know. I still cry when I think about her, and this little bump in the road made it impossible for me to write for a while. I was too depressed to put words to paper.


*Writing*

If anyone actually read my blog entries from the past, you might remember I had fanfiction projects in the works. They were all scrapped in May. It was a little before the time around AF Henley’s blog tour for the novel Wolf, en Garde that the notion of completely stepping away from fanfiction struck me.

At the end of March going into April, I suddenly had a whole slew of new characters appearing in my head, but I hadn’t the slightest clue what to do with them or where to go. At that time, they were slated for half-original, half-fanfiction projects that I had announced.

The more I worked at the story line, the more irritated I became. I was tired of fanfiction. I wanted something original, something mine, like Trent and Chase, Ash and Callie. I wanted something I could mix with those four paranormal characters (actually, only 3 of them are paranormal. Chase isn’t, but I do love him the most of the four, oddly enough).

As I followed Henley through his blog tour, ideas that had already been bouncing in my head began to solidify and give me some sense of direction as to what I wanted to do and where it is I wanted to go. It gripped me so hard that I actually didn’t read Wolf, en Garde in the same type of time space I usually do: Twice in the first three days following its release.

That’s because the notion of wanting to be publish caught me by the ankles and dragged me into a different space altogether. It’s not going to be tomorrow or next year, but it’s not an impossible dream.

From my trip home last year, my reading material took a directional change. I didn’t look to general fantasy novels anymore, and the m/m erotica took a solid backseat in that I no longer read them unless they were written by Henley. I began reading in Chinese, re-learning my native language, and started on the journey of writing in Chinese.

That was the most fun I’ve had in years.

I took the characters in my head and began looking at making them completely original – my own world, rules, and with Bitworks’ undying support, began putting the pieces together. But it wasn’t enough.

My current characters suddenly brought another set of characters, the people that are there before my current characters. If I have to use an example, the best one I can draw from is Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. I had characters to play in my version of LOTR, and those characters brought forth the characters for the story that happened in the Hobbit.

Like Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, some of these characters are going to overlap because some races do live for a very long time – from 300 years to as much as 5,000. Some are even able to achieve immortality.

I went back to the drawing board and started a new folder for this, and suddenly, this story had all my attention. Setting up the world – people, places, history, etc, and figuring out how the story unfolds and would have affected my first set of original characters had been a huge task that I hadn’t expected to take on this year, but take on I did.

And I slated this for the National Novel Writing Month this year that I promised I will participate in. Unfortunately, I think this might be the last time I do so. Cranking out that many words in one month exhausted me, especially when I had to spend 3 hours every other day for the majority of the month hand-washing laundry. It was brutal. The challenge stopped being fun and became a task I wanted to give up on… and nearly did.

Despite the desire to give up, I continued to work at it until November 30. For about 10 days after the election, all I could add to my word count was a mere 200 words. It was discouraging. The last 10 days of the whole challenge, I made it over the writing slump and began putting out words in earnest.

A much-loved author of mine warned me not to overdo it, so as soon as December 1 came around, I took a week’s worth of break – more like 10 days, actually. No writing. No thinking about the story. No surfing the internet. Just give my hands and wrists a good chunk of time to recover from their abuse and my brain to stop hitting itself against a wall.

And just in time too. I had to wear wrist braces on some days to ensure my carpal tunnel didn’t flare up too much.

This project is currently on-going. I haven’t a clue how long it’ll be or how long it will take me. I only know that it’s slated to be a Chinese story, but it is being written in English first. When it’s finished, edited to my satisfaction, I’ll start translating it to Chinese. When that portion is done, I’ll start posting them in tandem.

Writing one story is challenging enough. Writing and translating is going to be interesting, but it’s a challenge I look forward to tackling.


*Site Renovation*

Some may have noticed, and others may not have, but a few things have changed around here. The Home Page has been re-written. It is more curt and direct and less playful. Part of it is due to this year’s experiences. I no longer have within me the capacity to be “cute” and “cuddly.”

“Break Me Into Pieces” is no longer accessible. It was a personal memoir written to help me get past a difficult time in my life. If you’ve read it, awesome. If you haven’t, then it’s not something you’ll be able to see at this point.

Adult stories on this site have been password locked. The passwords will be accessible to people who I already know are of legal age. As for other people, when y!gallery returns, you can verify your age with me through that website.

Some blog posts are going to be password locked as well. I’m not interested in sharing too much with people anymore. Not after this year’s social media fiasco.

My intro over at Tumblr have also changed. Some of you may have noticed that the tag “LGBTQ” has been removed in its entirety, not because I no longer support the community, but because I’ve been rather cross with the LGBTQ community in general (and the minorities too).

I won’t be getting into politics here, and most likely never will going forward. I have been disappointed in the people I’ve fought alongside and supported – many of them I consider friends. See, I got the feeling – before, during, and after the US Presidential Election – that whenever someone says “pro-LGBTQ,” that support should be, and is expected to be unconditional.

The only thing I have to say about that is this: My support wasn’t, isn’t, and will never be unconditional. I do apologize for that.

My values haven’t changed. My belief in the equality of rights to all people still holds strong and steady. I’m in this for equality, not for revenge or payback.

But if you start getting in my face and yelling at me through obnoxious images and one-sided arguments to choose between my children and you, I promise you, 10 times out of 10, I will choose my children. If you, as an LGBTQ member or a minority of the community also have children, and I get in your face about picking a side, I expect you to choose your kids over me. End of story. We all have to pick our battles, and for the same battles, we may end up on the same side or on opposite sides. The battleground isn’t black and white. Life is complicated.

Therefore, the only way to come out with the strength and dignity to fight another day is to be courteous and kind to one another. Our enemy is inequality. That’s a big enough fight without having all of us to turn on each other.

We all have a right to our opinions. We all have a right to choose whether we want to exercise a right or not without being chewed up, spit on, or nasty-grammed. That is all.


*Things I Didn’t Get To*

It is less than a week before Christmas. My decorations outside aren’t up. My tree is only decorated with lights. I didn’t mail out a single Christmas card, and I haven’t done a shred of Christmas shopping.

I am simply too tired and beaten up to care about it anymore.

2016 has been difficult. Will 2017 be different? I don’t know. I dare not hope that it will be better, but I know this: I’ve got new goals, and I look forward to achieving them next year.

I bid all of you a hopeful ending to 2016. I wish you all a grand and happy 2017.

This is my final post of the year. Thank you for sticking with me and helping me through. Good night, everyone.


❤ ❤ ❤