All That is Strange and Wonderful

Around certain times of year I cannot avoid my PTSD, and I am sure some people wonder why I post my flashbacks so openly.  My prior post was written as a form of catharsis, and seeing as I am on disability for my condition and work my chaplaincy around my bad times, I feel that hiding my bad times is disingenuous.  Although I am accomplished enough by most standards academically (Two BA’s in Theology and Philosophy, respectively, a published thesis, and enough credit for a third BA in Diplomacy), I would not be able to help as many people as I do without my past, nor have the inspiration or motivation to do so.  I suppose I feel guilty for the years when I was suicidal myself which drives me to give others an ear whenever I am able to justify my own existence.
Writing is cathartic, and I suppose with the Gods I feel most aligned with, Tyr and Loki, I prefer to not simply portray myself only when I am well- but all of me- and from this I have learned that there are so many other people in this world who can relate who have their own nightmares they have lived through.   I strive for honesty when I write- and sometimes that honesty is far from beautiful- and sometimes, life is beautiful and I do not wish to neglect those occasions as well.

Last weekend was my thirty fifth birthday- hence the flashbacks.  Generally, even a “good”  birthday is accompanied with a maelstrom of invasive flashbacks I cannot control.  Most holidays are the same, and everything positive in my life is put temporarily on hold as I try to climb through the mess that is my confused and distraught mind so much so that not very much gets accomplished at all.

Typically, I begin to obsess about “what would make me feel better,”  When I am symptomatic, I often spend time in animal shelters- but agoraphobia makes driving difficult.  We have a new pick up truck which feels more like driving a tank  than the puny sedan we used to have (which was pretty terrifying to drive. I dislike the fragility of most modern cars) and I was rather desperate to get out anyway. The shelter is only five minutes away off of scarcely used highways- I filled out paperwork that allowed me into the cat room…played with a few abandoned kitties and reassured them they would find nice homes.  I actually did not go home with (yet another) cat that day….however, I had to fill out my details anyway to even play with the animals with no intention of adoption.

Off and on for several years I have dreamt of a little white cat with the name Ophelia, usually one of those “mystic, remember this” sort of ambiance that often becomes a blog post or at very least written down on scratch paper somewhere.   In the middle of the worst of my flashbacks I recalled the last dream- a small white kitten with blue eyes and subtle stripes in her fur of white on white-  even though I was just at the shelter and found nothing of the sort, I checked on petfinder anyway…and found this cat, listed as fostered at the shelter from which I had just returned, named Ophelia, with the only information listed was “young spayed female”


I was told later this picture was taken the day she was found outside and fostered.  Her tail is actually white in person.

She was being fostered by nice people via the Animal Rescue League near my home,  I sent off an email and did not anticipate much of a response.  We already have three cats, two dogs, a small snake, and we are breeding (or attempting to breed) Flemish giant rabbits in our basement, soon to be transferred to a hutch outside- weather depending.

For any number of reasons I could have been rejected.  Most adoptable cats hate dogs, many are best alone without other felines, and further, she may have been already adopted.  Ed was chagrined I even contacted them, but hey-  I literally have been having dreams of a white cat named “Ophelia” for several years.  If it was not the “correct” cat to those dreams, nothing would happen.

To my surprise, my application was approved- but then I became nervous:  What if the cat is awful?  I was not about to subject the others living in my household to a screeching, snarling bandit- and I recall going to bed that night even more nervous about meeting this cat, all ready convinced that there would be no connection, she would not be a good fit- all in all, expecting wasted time, feeling let down, and most of all guilty for the foster parents who had a 50% chance of taking her back home after driving so far just to allow me to meet her.

On Sunday, the morning of my birthday I met the couple fostering Ophelia on the steps outside of the animal rescue league- The cat was pure albino, with pink/blue eyes and only the vaguest suggestion of white on white stripes if you looked at her in certain conditions.  She was adorably sweet and only six pounds and although young, is full grown.


Her story, tragic-

This region has several lakes and a local guy fishing heard her and found her soaking wet by the edge of one of them.  He took her to a local house which just so happened to be a foster home for abused animals and it was determined she had just given birth and was likely thrown into the lake with her kittens- her kittens were not able to be recovered.  She was malnourished and soaking wet, but nonetheless sought people for help. The foster family took her in and named her “Ophelia” for her soggy beginnings, and she stayed with them for about six month or so, as they learned she was completely deaf, albino, and light sensitive.  The brevity of her online profile and the intentional lack of pictures was to discourage assholes looking for a white cat “just to have one” who would not be able to understand her needs.  Being in a foster home meant she was already well acclimated to other animals, including large dogs, and the foster family and the ARL both felt the transition would go smoothly.

I brought her home while Ed was still sleeping and transformed our library into a Cat-Utopia…finding even more to my amazement she did not have any violent or aggressive reaction to really anyone at all.  Unlike our other animals she can jump to the stop of any shelf we seem to own when she feels cramped but also, every time I would enter the room she would come down and mew loudly for attention.    Ed lost his kitten Hela  in 2013, she was also a climber, loved to destroy feathers, and exhibited similar fearless qualities.

When Hela passed away due to a genetic defect I let her body go onto the same lake from which Ophelia was found.  Despite Ophelia’s rough start with water, she enjoys rolling around in the bathtub and then drying off near the Loki altar.  Ed and I used to see Hela’s shadow in the hallway, I saw it last the day I brought Ophelia home.   I cannot help but wonder if reincarnation also applies to cats.  Freyja, Hela’s twin sister never formed a bond with any of our other cats but instantly took to Ophelia very well.

If she is or is not our former kitty back for a second round- it makes no difference, she is a great Heathen cat who is (mostly) respectful of altar spaces and loves to rearrange rocks and other small objects to suit her own aesthetic- or boredom.

In short, I adopted a cat for my birthday- the other cats are now getting along better with one another for some reason, and I can now honestly say we are at one hundred percent capacity for mammals in this home.  She seems to have adjusted nicely, and on her account, the library (where I keep my Loki and Tyr altars) is now cat safe and guarded with a baby gate against the two dogs who occasionally chase them.

I believe she has made herself at home:

fox kitty

At the mouth of the great fox, Ophelia relaxes.

As of today, the only true inconvenience is she attacks my bow when I practice my instruments,    I have been learning Viola and Violin since July as part of my music therapy-  and her favorite food appears to be sheet music.  With my the kindness of my mother in law I purchased a music stand to prevent further casualty to my music books.

Easiest, Ophelia makes it necessary to practice when Ed is home which may assist me in overcoming some of my performance anxieties.  I am far from “good” at either instrument by any means, but I am relieved I have worked hard enough to play the Bach Minuet series past the horrendous nursery rhyme stage.   Without me even attempting to play it first- she utterly devoured a photocopy of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.  C’est le’vie.

In further news in my life Edward is taking me to a float spa to end off my birthday week tomorrow- I have never tried a sensory deprivation experience prior to this and have been wanting to for several years.  I like the idea of floating in a small, dark room with no external stimuli.  It sounds like heaven…and it comes with a sixty minute massage beforehand- all in a reasonable package price for a birthday gift.  Even if the new-age benefits are psychosomatic, the benefits of a good massage and spending alone time in warm water is appealing regardless of the alleged out-of-this-world mental and physical health claims to the practice.

Again, I do not wish to promote the company prior to our trip, but I have several ideas for coming blog posts I am hoping I may be able to flesh out during tomorrow’s experience if it does turn out to be as inspiring as some describe.  I imagine I would write a review of the floating experience, but also, there are ideas to write a “what if” fiction of “What would happen if writers treated Judaism/Christianity the way they treat Odinism in popular movies” as well as skipping over that idea entirely to write how I would like to see a truly Heathen story created into a movie format that would be more engaging and far less cringe worthy than what already exists.  At this moment, I think I would have the narrative follow mostly Tyr and Hel.

I am already anticipating with the release of Neil Gaiman’s “American God’s” series a new villainization of Odin the likes of which has not been seen since the Christians converted our ancestors by the sword and idiots hailing the character Shadow at a sumbel near you in the ever nearing future.  Although I did enjoy the book itself many years ago- I have learned from the Marvel fiasco that discernment is lacking from the larger populace.

Please combat this by writing good, accurate, positive Heathen fiction my friends.  As funny as the character of Wednesday is in the novel, he is not our Odin.  (To Mr. Gaiman’s credit, our Odin is in the epilogue…but it will take years to get to see that point in the story if the show lasts that long.)

….or if the propaganda regarding floating is true, I may suddenly find myself with the energy to write all three.  I attempt to live as an optimistic pessimist:  Expect the worst, and be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Regardless, I close this post with yet another picture of Ophelia:

sleepy kitty

Cats are a liquid.




2 Responses to “All That is Strange and Wonderful”

  1. She sounds like a right place, right time sort of cat. I’m glad you found her. Cats are liquid. I look forward to the results of the float experiment.

  2. Strangely many many years ago, also on my 35th birthday with the stroke of midnight my husband found lost kitty in the cellar of the house we lived. Why he went to cellar at that time, and how happened he had the keys is another story. We lived in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan back then. The kitty was about 6+ months old, hungry, thorn and with many issues, also with kittens she was not able to deliver. We put her back together and she stayed for many years with us until her end. She was beautiful black cat, we called her Booboo. It was the sound she made, she could scream but she really never meowed. I loved her as my own child.
    Happy birthday Tyrienne! 🙂

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