Country Road (take me home)

I woke up at the same side of the bed everyday.

Sometimes it's the right side, like the day before yesterday, because Lori transferred USD 880 from your donations and it's ready to be collected just at the right time.

Yesterday it was the wrong side. My petition to register The Whiskers' Syndicate as a general charity has been approved; so the next step would be submitting the name (ID) and tax information from five persons who will sit as the board of the charity. Plus, the payment of USD 500 that you all help me raised is due.

I can include a foreigner (not Indonesian citizen) but there will be mountainous documents needed so the fastest way for me to comply with the registration requirements is to contact my brothers and mother and ask them to lend their names.

My youngest brother learned of my intention and send me copy of his documents immediately, and while he was at it, he sent my mom's as well. One other was out of town. The other one said yes, but he sent his ID and disappear. I thought he was busy. Like me, he run his own business (he sells baby and kids clothing online), take care of three daughters (the last one is a baby), running a household, all on his own.

Catherine, my new friend, and also the one who introduce me to the notary, who introduced me to the lawyer, said she will help and lend her name, but her indecisiveness took the better of her and she start switching between yes and no and try to include her abusive husband into it; so, no. Seriously, I have enough saga in my daily life. I don't need more.

I called my childhood friend, Gina. I told her my intention and ask if she don't mind, and she answered by sending me picture of her ID card. Mission accomplished.

All of those happened between 6-8 am in the morning, with my cell phone.

I feed the cats, clean the house, my mind wanders to the blings and beauty of how things will finally work out for me and The Whiskers' Syndicate after we become totally legal. I got carried away and... almost late.

I jumped into the bathroom, get dressed, and blasted to the bank. Then I dropped by the market to pick up some tuna for the mobs, go back home and throw tuna into the freezer, blasted back downhill to pay the mortgage (USD 250), and on my way to the notary. Once it's done, I will be able to get some lunch, then go home to prepare the freezing tuna.

It's going to be a fine day. I send message to my brother reminding him to send his tax ID. He didn't reply. I was still convinced that he still got both hand full.

At the notary, I was told that everyone has to have a tax ID.

Impossible. Citizens beyond retirement age is exempted from owning a tax ID unless they run private business; so why a charity registration does not exempt retirees from submitting tax ID? Notary went through her files and whatever but she came back shaking his head.

OK, so maybe it's not my lucky day with the notary. I gave her my USD 500 for registration and ask her to wait a day or two as I collected one more person (in replacement of my mother)

I contacted my brother again, no reply. I asked my mom if she knows anything, but she just give me a vague answer. I started to get worried. My brother does have a talent of helping someone halfway. You know, like Cinderella. Come to the ball, say yes, dance around, and then run away with half pair o' shoes.

I hate that talent. Well, I don't know about others, but here, and particularly in my ethnicity, people have a hard time asking. If you ever have to ask it means you are weak, it means you can help yourself, it means you are pathetic. That is why I don't like to put people in a more awkward situation by helping them halfway and take a hike, or worse, left the one you help hanging. If someone ask me, I will think about it, really carefully, because that means if I say yes, I will go through it to the end. If I can't do it, I say no up front and if I can, provide a viable alternative.

I wasted too much time standing on the roadside chatting back and forth without clear answer. It's getting cloudy, and it's getting late in the afternoon. I still have to visit Mickey and see how he is doing, and whether the vet already make up her mind. She too cannot give me a firm answer on why Mickey walks like a drunken cat. She said it is because his nether region was hurting, but it's fixed now and he is still walking in limbo. She said because he's been hurt too long so his limbo walk imprinted on him. I raised my eyebrow on that but OK, she is the vet. She is young and less experienced than the other vets downtown, but they didn't provide boarding. Today I will visit Mickey again and catch up with her erratic presence and if she still can't give me a firm answer, I'd bring Mickey home no matter what.

I forgot lunch.

Jumping into the bus I ended up fighting fiercely with my brother who - as I feared - try to take a hike.

I was furious. Hey, if he didn't want to help, that's ok, but say no up front. Don't just say yes yes yes and send me half my request and disappear. My mom? I am not sure where she is standing but I know it's not on my side.

I almost missed the vet. She was on her way out with her husband for dinner. It's not even closing time yet, but that's her. Her husband is very rich; and he spoiled her rotten. So she spend more time with him or doing what he says than taking care of her clinic. It explain her erratic schedule and her knack of disregarding appointments and schedules.

She was still stuttering when I ask her about Mickey; maintaining that because Mickey was in pain for so long, the limbo become a habit.

I can't hardly believe it.

He sneezes several times, I argued, and one of his eyes was crusty. Is it Chlamydia? or Calicivirus? Both has that symptom, crusty or runny in one eye, and both may cause nerve deterioration.

That's because he had worm, she replied. No, he doesn't have URI.

OK, so since it's because of involuntary habituation, he will walk normally one day, if his stitches heals? I asked.

I don't know, she replied.

Will a physiotherapy, or acupuncture help?

I don't know, but I don't believe in alternative medicine. Antibiotics and vitamins worked best; also food.

I smirked, like Royal Canin?

Royal Canin is good. I once tried, you know, even one year after expiration date, it still smells nice, it's still crispy and cats still love it.

I didn't open my mouth, but my mind spoke aloud Oh gee, thanks for letting me know doc, now I can be sure that Royal Canin not only full of grain, it also contains crazy amount of preservatives and artificial flavoring.

Can I take Mickey home? You know he always cry when I left him, he was jealous if I play with other patients, and you know he won't eat Royal Canin Recovery too much before I arrive with fresh tuna.

The young vet gestured with her hand. Go ahead. I have printed the invoice. You can deal with the workers.

I left her. Mickey was already slamming left and right inside his cage because he has a hard time standing up too long. He was calling frantically so I gave him his tuna and look at the invoice, USD 110.

Drat. If I knew my brother was going to back off, I wouldn't have given that USD 500 to the notary and use it for Mickey instead.

Of that USD 880, I have USD 70 left (250 for the mortgage, 500 for the registration, 60 for litter sand and cat food). So I went to the nearest ATM and broke into my 401k again. I think it should be called 201k because it seems to be stuck there no matter how much I try to increase it over this year.

But heck. I can see that Mickey starts to get annoyed to have to stay inside the cage very long. He doesn't like the food, and it's full of sick cats there. Besides, I don't think there's anything else to be done. The vet doesn't seem to know what she is doing, even what she has to look for; and honestly, it doesn't matter for me whether he is limping, or dragging his limb, or walking like a drunk. As long as he live, and he live happily and healthily and safely, I am fine. Mickey will only be the second Liam, in term of how he moves.

So I let him crawl into the carrier, and happily snap his photo.

 Mickey is going home. I have this chance to turn the tide on him, I have been given the opportunity and power to make his life better, and it boosted my confidence after series of bitter bickers throughout the day. It's just a single good thing that happen today, but it's all that matters.

I posted that picture to twitter, asking people if they know where we are going. For those who follows the daily shenanigans of  The Whiskers' Syndicate, it will be easy to guess, so I thought.

It was already fifteen minutes past seven pm. Cats must be hungry, but the tuna must have been frozen. So I bought some can food at the clinic as a bad exchange for tuna and run home.

On my way, the head of my church group texted me and asked if I can help her joining the choir for Easter mass.

Shoot. Not now; but I say no to her too many times before, and she has always been an understanding leader (unlike the other leaders who judge me by my "weird hobby") so I texted her back telling her that I will try my best.

I put Mickey in the living room, with the kittens, drink a glass of water, feed the cats, and run back out to catch up with choir. Thank God the church is only ten minutes away by public transport.

The trainer of the choir is an old man who likes to sing all sort of song with "wee wee wee wee wee..." and he made us practice by singing whatever songs with wee wee (pun intended).

And he has an obsessive compulsive love for the sopranos. He ignore the others, and care only for the sopranos. One of the guys in tenor can sing so good and he happily showed off by singing as loud as he can, while other tenors followed him. I am with the altos. We can sing, but we are struggling here and there occasionally and so we asked him to help.

Oh, later later, trainer said. If you can't sing that's fine. The most important is the sopranos. They are the key of every choir.

And then that good tenor guy laughed. Aaah, altos should do it themselves. We tenors can do it ourselves.

My anger, quenched by Mickey, was set back ablaze. What day is this, World Ass Hole Day or something?

Every time we stumbled, one of the altos, one after another, asked the trainer to help but he won't even budge from his place; and every single time trainer rejected us, that tenor guy keep boasting about how tenors can do it themselves.

Are you sure Sopranos is the most important? I asked, crunching the church pew holding my anger.

Oh yes yes, Sopranos is the most important. It's OK if altos can't sing you just follow your best, says trainer. His voice is always gentle, soft, but his rejection is louder than the church bell.

And then the tenor guy said Ahhh, come on, altos should...

Do it our way? I blasted at him. He stood right behind me.

I whispered to the lady next to me, and she whispered to the lady next to her, and she whispered to the lady next to her...

We stopped singing right in the middle of the song, and for once in my lifetime, I heard the most messed up version of Handel's Halelujah.

But all of us altos were smiling.

The trainers eyeballed on us.

What? you said the most important in a choir is the Sopranos right? Not even the tenor. I snapped at the trainer, and then peered at the tenor guy. He pouted.

Hey, what about this; trainer said alto is not important. Tenor said we can do it ourselves. So let them sing their Handel, we sing Gloria In Excelsis Deo?

The trainer was more angry. I don't care. I've got too many arse hole for the day.

The tenor guy started over again, Why can't you be just like us, we...

I turn back and throw my papers to his face. There Pavlov, I just did it myself because no one seems to be able to shut your f-ing mouth. Next time drool on your own business.

I picked my bag, and darted off before I completely lost my temper; and I don't want to lose my temper in a church. I have a God with weird sense of humor and He loves to pick on my nose but I still respected Him. Besides, what is the point of staying there anyway?

I dropped by a minimarket to buy a bread for dinner.

I got home at 9 pm.

Drat.

I throw my bag into my room, and rushing to prepare food for the colonies. Victoria and Mickey sat by my feet. My head was still boiling and it distracted me so much, I spilled the whole big bowl of cat food onto them and it spattered all over the kitchen floor.

I peeked at the cross. Just when I think it can't be any worse ey?

The drizzle that followed me home already stopped. Full moon peered out as the cool night breeze scatter the cloud. The road ahead of me was glistening, in rhyme with cricket song.

Somehow I felt a little bit better.

A voice at the back of my mind told me: you forget your dinner. It's still hanging by the door handle where you left it while scrambling for your keys.

Well, it's too late for dinner anyway. I am tired; very tired. There are still things that I need to do before the day is over, but I just can't hold it anymore. I just want to go home. I mean, home. Where I can be at peace, doing my own thing, and let the world do their own thing.

I just want to go home, where I can be myself instead of pretending to be something that I am not. Caring for animals, reading books, writing stories instead of being a feminist, a street fighter, smiling like morons in hypocrisy just so that I don't have to add one more enemy.

I just want to go home, where I can make peace, friends, food, cat toys, not war.

I just want to go home, you know, where your heart is; and I wonder if this road I am walking on right now will ever lead me there.

I started hiking, humming Handel's Halelujah all the way to the colonies.

When I got back, it was already 10 pm and some more. There was still some anger lingering, but it was put completely off when Mickey and Liam raced against each other to greet me by the door.

It seems like when I was gone, Mickey already made himself at home.

 

Watching two wobbly cats racing is one of a kind entertainment; but aside of being entertained, I am flattered. I can be abandoned by my own family, I can have all sort of thing I have been fighting so hard hanging awkwardly without visible way out, I ran out of money, I have too many ass hole in a day, I am tired and I really wish I can just go home, you know, where your heart is; but looking at these cats trying to make the most of their life, suddenly remind me of what truly matters.

For my brother, his security is what matters. For my mom, status quo are what matters, maybe. For that trainer, sopranos is what matters, and for the tenor guy, his own.

For me it's the cats. I enjoy reading, writing, making toys, singing, going around, shopping, but if there is one thing I won't mind doing no matter what, it's the cats. For them I'd fight anyone. For them I'd drop anything, For them I'd give everything, with them I am the happiest.

They might not be the most magnificent being in the universe. Look at them. My cats are unlike any other. They are blind, lost one eye, drag their legs, walk in limbo, full with mange, had worm, had fleas, got ear mite, got pot belly full of water, is sickly, has weak immune system, has virus, has bacteria, has scabies, has nervous damage, has birth defect. You name it, I have one.

But they live to their fullest.

And I would rather be among those lives than any other.