It’s Las Vegas; but that small rent is more like the quietness of Nevada desert than the bling of the paradise city. One single woman, an old sickly cat who accompany her around the world in 16 years, trying to weave in and out in the making of a long sash called life.
With a pair of glasses, and a cowboy hat; a lean posture, riding bike under the heat of noon, her name is Andrea. The bright side of her is a US Air Force Veteran, but her dark side is gloomier than her shadow on the burning hot asphalt.
For years even after she left service her quest to peaceful days has not yet ended. Her civilian part still has not settle, and just to kill the waiting time and stay positive, she turns to what she love aside from the free blue sky: vintage hunting and jewellery making.
Across the globe in Bandung, the wind swept bamboos are whispering about another girl.; who runs up and down that hill with a packs of animal feed and a few bottles of medicine and some syringe. Sometimes in the day, sometimes late after dark, under the rain, burned by the sun, she would walk wearing her sun-kissed jacket and her solid conviction that animals has the same right as her own kind, and that no being should live loveless because each one of them were created by the same God who created humans, the master of universe.
Her house is never quiet. There is always something to be done; but if the weariness of life come by, she will sit on the cold floor of her tiny bedroom playing God. Mouse, bats, jelly fish, rabbits, turtles. Carrots, peas, pineapples. Sometimes she will pull out her sewing machine and turn it into a jackpot of anchovies, geckos, and little turkeys.
Her nation, her universe, are only cats she picked up from the street; but for her, it’s everything. That girl is me, Josie.
There is a place over the internet that I always remember. A group of seller in a place called Etsy, who works wonders through their hand and give to the animals. I want to be that cool kind of person: creating things that will make animals and people who loves them happy.
So I went to Etsy and hunt down the group of people, knocking on the club house’s door, and they let me in. The group is called EFA; Etsy For Animals.
I was very happy that I was finally able to get into the sorority. For me, EFA is elite. I mean, people who, aside from their own limitation, in finance or other things, make time to create something with their own hand and contribute it to the welfare of animals. The group is amazing; and I want to be there although the longer I am there, the more I am bored with the quietness of the group (everybody was doing their own business). Etsy is not the most hospitable business hub, and therefore, disappointed and demotivated, I only go there to promote one or two of my stuffs and go away.
That was until Andrea, who belongs to the same group, nudge me deeper into the club house and encourage me to join the crowd and try to mingle in the forums; get to know someone, anyone, and see how things go from there.
It was a fast camaraderie. Same lonely women, haunted by society, exiled from friendship, struggling to keep that sense of purpose, looking for a place in this world.
Soon EFA is my second home. A place where I have the chance to know many more people like me, in many places in the world. The regret that start to come at the beginning, the thought that I made a wrong decision to pursue membership in EFA vanished in the face of joy and relief, knowing that, indeed, I am not totally alone.
When one of Andrea’s sister was diagnosed with cancer, I drew on my own experience with my grandfather, who died from lung cancer; and try to do as much as I can. When my cat sanctuary was flooded last year; Andrea sent me card after card filled with words of wisdom and support. Each of them are still on top of a cabinet next to my bed.
Andrea lost Mongo, her feline companion for 16 years in late 2014. A few days later I lost Constantine, and the knot just tighten.
We never plan. We don’t talk regularly like Lori and I do. In fact, we just learn each others happening from the forum, but as soon as we know something is up, we make that effort to be closer, to write and to comfort, to cheer and support, to let the other party knows that half of them across the globe is reaching out ready to love.
But then there is also time when things just got out of hand, and we kind of lost at the same time.
As days turn to weeks turn to months and there is no visible ending to my PayPal war, I know the possibility of losing my Etsy shop permanently is imminent. And Etsy is not even a major issue. I can always find somewhere else to sell.
It is the potential of losing EFA that kills me; and when I was struggling to make peace with that possibility, I’ve got a warning that I have been kindly “given an exemption” but the message is clear: if I close my shop for over three months, I will be kicked out of the group.
Great timing eh? My PayPal got stuck; I took it as a time to think things over and get solid footing to move forward and while I am at it, I might as well be honest to myself and decide about Whiscraft.
Even with my best of the best effort, there are still new cats going in. People dump their cats onto me, I found helpless kitten that I can’t possibly ignore, kittens whose mom got killed, and the more cats I have, the more time I need to take care of them. The more time I need to care for the cats, the less time I have to get a job. The more time I put into a job, the less time I have to care for Whiscraft. If I allocate time for Whiscraft, I have less time for myself, and by time for myself I mean time to eat, pray, sleep. Basic function of a human being.
I was so preoccupied with all the decisions that I have to make, that I was increasingly distant. I still make time to skim through whatever personal stuffs (not meme or cute cat photo) that my friends put on their status over facebook or twitter to keep up, but that’s about the only distraction from the stack overflow in my head.
Unless I want to hire someone to run my shop for me, because I can’t hire someone to do my job; but trusting someone is always a tough job for me.
I am different. From values to norm to lifestyle. From way of thinking to choices in life; and I am especially different in what I choose to spend my life doing and how I do it.
All those differences alienate me from my cohort, my family, my countrymen. Running away from the pain of being bullied as someone who does not fit anywhere, I do everything alone. I trust no one because I have been badly hurt so very many times before.
But I also understand that I am currently standing at the threshold of a chapter in my life; and I have to choose whether I am going to end this journey and stay where I am, or take the risk and move forward.
So I reached out to Andrea; and she said OK.
Then the news broke that her other sister has inoperable, stage three throat cancer.
I thought of retracting my request because I want Andrea to spend time with her sister instead, but she openly admit that she had lost interest with her own shop was thinking of closing it; but with her sister’s situation, she need a distraction.
I have recently refuse an offer from another friend, and I was wondering about the best way to break the news, but Andrea tackle that issue for me.
At the same time, my brother has the notification from PayPal that his account re-verification is done, and that his account is now ready to use.
The door has been opened; it’s my choice whether I step in or not.
It’s horrifying, but I stepped in.
Hence, as of April 2015, whiscraft.etsy.com will be two people instead of one. I will be working on the soft side, with fabric, thread, and polyester (and catnip) and Andrea will be handling the hard side. She is a jeweler, glass blowing artist, and a vintage hunter. I will be offering everything cute, she will offer everything beautiful so there will be a little bit of everything in our shop, just like whiscraft (pun intended).
Every sales of our shop will benefit The Whiskers’ Syndicate. Every single dime, except for the shipping.
If you haven’t already, go take a look: http://www.whiscraft.etsy.com
Here is for a better tomorrow for stray, abused, neglected cats in Bandung; breeder capital of Indonesia, a country without animal welfare.