April and May 2023: My Life Looks Very Different Now

The last live post I wrote on this blog was the one when I announced a brief hiatus due to my cat Yoyo dying. Since then, the only post that has gone up is the primer on a Platonizing theurgic practice. We technically have about a week left in May. I’m doing this update now because eight weeks is a lot, and I can put any important end-of-May updates in with the June one. Besides, it’s technically the first day of the lunar month. 🌒

A lot happened over the past two months, and my life looks totally different. As one example, I rearranged my living room in the middle of May and finally broke down and bought a new small square dining table because everyone is getting rid of circular ones or bulky ones. The bulky rectangles are too large for my apartment. The reason I’ve been looking for a replacement table is that I realized during lockdown that circular tables give me elbow pain, and with what’s on the used furniture market, I’m betting that everyone else realized the same thing. I tried waiting it out for two years. The new table will be here in a few weeks.

In a Supernote brainstorm, I sketched out my bare minimum requirements for more appropriate shrine furniture that can accommodate my needs. I finally found a piece that works for my setup and that meets my requirements: solid wood, non-clashing with my light wood motif, inexpensive, easily coverable, and with a recessing feature so I can safely use candles without risking them burning into the shelf overhead.

Here’s some of what I was thinking.

A sketch of a possible shrine layout, with household Gods in the middle and other deities at each side.
A sketch of a double-layered household shrine.
I think I was going for “bare minimum” options here, if I recall, because I have other Gods whom I worship and who would also go on the shrine.

It ended up being somewhat like the average of those, except that the furniture piece is really tall. I am pleased that there’s a guard in the back to protect items, too.

My revamped shrine. This image is very small, so no details are visible, but there are a lot of sacred images.

And I also bought a new icon for Hermes to replace the one that I got when I started my library career, back in the day before we had a ton of choices for icons. The caduceus is extremely fragile. The new piece should be here in a few weeks.

I was originally going to keep my shrine covered for one or two weeks. However, it took about two weeks to get Yoyo’s ashes back, and by then, I decided to wait it out until May’s Noumenia — which turned out to be the same day that was most convenient for me to schedule the furniture delivery of the new shrine piece. The day after setting up her ashes at a death-shrine with photos of her and her collar was orders of magnitude rougher than the day she was euthanized. We had a candidate coming for an interview, so I couldn’t take a sick day, and I spent the whole day breaking down crying whenever I was alone.

Yoyo's urn surrounded by photos. There is a soft catnip toy and a collar in an envelope. There are two photos side by side, one in the window on her cat tree, the other on its own.
The urn started out on her cat tree, and it ended on a small bookshelf. After taking these photos, I moved her urn &c to the place where I have my ancestor photos, the west wall of my office/shrine/dining room.

In mid-May, my girlfriend asked me for an amicable, no-fault breakup, so our relationship ended, but we’re still friends — she’s just no longer sexually attracted to me. I cried for a few days grieving the relationship (which lasted over seven years). We’re planning to go into NYC at some point in early/mid-June between our birthdays, and we will do the whole friendship thing. She and I started dating a few years before my soul-jarring experience in 2019, and once I’d had a few days to grieve the end of us dating, I decided that it was probably for the best that we broke up given that a lot of things have changed for both of us over the past few years. My middle sister and her husband’s religious strife (well, before last month when my middle sister officially acquiesced and became Catholic, which means we’re now fair-weathering each other in texts; her husband thinks my family is possessed by demons that are making us shun Jesus and we’re all Damned for Hell … at least she and I can talk about cat guardianship) would make me never date a woman from a monotheistic background or an agnostic/atheist/apathetic. I think it’s different when two people are already together and one’s spiritual practice deepens/changes because the relationship’s inertia can sometimes carry people, provided that one of them isn’t in an exclusivist religion. And were we to have gotten married, the marriage rites and household rituals would have been a big negotiation. The true test will be when my just-ex starts dating again because I want things to be smooth and calm between me and whoever that person is, especially since I’m the one whom someone usually dates before finding her life partner. I don’t think it’s logical for my new-ex and I to get back together. But we do have good times together and enjoy each other’s company.

Something curious about that is that the week before we broke up, she told me that she had a dream in which Yoyo had come back from the dead to drive her out of my apartment. I haven’t asked her if that dream was the final prompt for her to start the difficult conversation, but Yoyo never liked her, and maybe it was that.

To say a bit more about romantic relationships, I do feel a bit like I’ve been spun around in a chair really fast. I’m a monogamous homosexual. I’m not into hookup culture. I do not drink or use recreational drugs. When I think ahead to a suitable post-breakup time, I am struck by how dating apps are not made for people like me anymore. Furthermore, after thinking for a bit about what my requirements would be, it would be hard to find a polytheist in a compatible philosophical tradition who would accept my medical dietary restrictions, nondriver status, and who lives nearby … let alone a woman who is romantically compatible. So I think I’m done dating for the future. While it might sound like a gay version of Atalanta’s race, honestly, the energy I’d have to put into courtship would take away from other goals. Those are the relationship criteria that would make the redirected energy worthwhile. I’ve been reading support information about celibacy and trying to lay foundations for honing in on spiritual things and developing a spirituality-adjacent social life when I’m not at work or taking care of my health. I’m not desperate to take advantage of my remaining fertile years, and that’s the only reason why someone at my age would rush — one’s 20s are very open, but in one’s 30s, one has a more set personality and (I think) a firmer set of criteria. I mean, I’m turning 36 next month. This whole thing is both something to grieve and a set of challenges to look forward to. And it’ll all be fine.

So … that’s a lot of changes. Lots to grieve. Lots of Kleenex.

Let’s shift gears.

First, I pushed my fear line a few times in April. One, I had my blood drawn for the first time in … who knows how long. The methods I learned for handling my needle phobia have never been perfect, and I’d avoided doing that because I was worried about whether I could regulate for that much time, as a blood draw takes longer than a vaccine. The last time I had to hold still for blood many years ago was awful. So, I prayed to Hermes, Eir, and Apollon to have a good experience and to hold still. I used the Calm app’s 4-6 breathing exercise to regulate my breath and keep me from getting lightheaded or panicking. The draw went very well. I had no psychological aftereffects like last time. The blood work results were great, too. Two, I got my ears pierced. This was another challenge to the needle thing. It hurt about as much as a bad cat scratch. I got two piercings in each ear because the aftercare is tedious, and I only wanted to do it once.

Second, I adopted two cats. They were a female bonded pair with a rescue. The girls had been rescued as older kittens (based on the vet records, I’m guessing 2-3 months old) and socialized. They spent the first 5-6(?) months of socialization in a glass-walled kitten room at a veterinarian. They spent another four-ish months in a foster home. I brought them home on May 6, the weekend after they were estimated to have turned one. The rescue told me that I needed to have low expectations, and they were worried that the cats wouldn’t even go into carriers, that they would hide from me until the end of time. The two came out to say hi when I visited them at the foster, and I decided that they were sweet, if shy and skittish. The rescue told me to expect that they’d hide for weeks, and the foster seemed confused by how much they were playing up the girls’ human-shyness. It was a most bizarre experience. Also, this is literally the first time I’ve ever paid for cats in my life. I’m from a part of the country where you take in friendly ferals, and every house comes with a surprise litter of kittens in the bushes.

Reader, the shy one was sleeping on my bed with me by a week and a half in. They only hid for the first day. They’re still a bit skittish when I’m standing and walking around my apartment, but unless we’re in a bottleneck area (the narrow hallway between my bedroom and the kitchen), they’re the sweetest, most confident kitties. Part of me feels uncreative for not renaming them from their shelter names (although I did shorten one of them), but given that Yoyo’s name was an evolving process that took about seven years to reach its final form, I imagine the same will be true for these girls.

The cats I adopted.
Yes, they are polydactyls.

I signed them up for pet insurance a few days after bringing them home. For Yoyo, I’d had Nationwide since 2012, but Nationwide’s coverage left … a lot to be desired. Caps on specific conditions left me wondering what exactly I was paying for, but by the time I became aware of other pet insurance providers (and a few really good ones came on the market), Yoyo was too old to be transferred onto another plan. I was deciding between Pumpkin and Lemonade. I would have preferred Pumpkin, but the universal 14-day waiting period was not something that I wanted for two one-year-old cats who were new to my home. Lemonade covers accidents after 2 days even though illnesses have the same 14-day waiting period. I have a $250 deductible with a $20,000 cap per annum per cat. Each of them is $52/month.

Originally, I had planned to wait a bit before adopting. This whole adoption happened because one of my coworkers opened an adoption website in front of me the last week of April. Up to 40,000 adoptable cats are euthanized every day in the USA simply because nobody comes to adopt them. The foster felt like these girls had “aged out” because so many people prefer kittens. This is completely preventable through the two-pronged approach of adopting cats if you can (and 2-3 cats/home is better in most cases, with the exception of some hand-raised kittens like Yoyo and the rare cat with a territorial problem; my landlady approved me for two cats in my new lease) and doing what you can to support trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs to stabilize the feral cat population. Adopting cats who are older than 6 months and age-matching a new cat to any current cats are also good strategies. Honestly, I don’t have the bandwidth for a kitten. As Jackson Galaxy says, a kitten is a toddler who can reach the ceiling. I’m not really a cute tornado of destruction type of person.

One more month to go until I turn 36. 35 is, in the United States, the year when one demographically enters full adulthood after young adulthood. From shingles to Yoyo’s decline and death to a breakup to publishing the print of The Soul’s Inner Statues to being in the final stages of self-publishing a novella, it’s been a wild year, with both sweetness and bitterness. And lighting incense at my shrine today was such a delight.

Happy Noumenia!

One thought on “April and May 2023: My Life Looks Very Different Now

  1. I wish you the absolute best in the year to come. I miss it very much when you are not posting. You make me think in new and different ways. Much happiness your way, I hope!


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