Fun Fact: I Can’t Swim

Photo credit: dutruong.t733 on VisualHunt / CC BY

My dad threw me in a swimming pool when I was 7. He thought that I would immediately learn to swim in order to save myself. Well, I didn’t. I sank slowly to the bottom. My dad pulled me out of the pool.

I never was angry with him for doing this, probably because I was terrified of the water — chlorinated water got into my nose and mouth and eyes. (I had forgotten to close them!) The chlorine tasted gross, and I felt like I was disappointing my father. All of his friends were at the pool, too, and witnessed what happened. Before tossing me in, he seemed so sure that it would work. Well, I proved him wrong!

When I was 10 years old, my mom had the bright idea of signing me up for swimming lessons. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I thought it would be another opportunity for me to fail, and I was right. The first thing the instructor taught us was how to float. I couldn’t float then, and I can’t float now. You have no idea how many times I tried floating in the pool and my feet remained planted to the bottom. I couldn’t figure out how people could go from a standing position to lying on their backs practically above the water!

My parents gave up after that, and I decided that I don’t need to know how to swim even if it saved my life. But it could save my life, like if I fail out of a touristy boat or something else that I happen to be riding.

As an adult, I’ve looked into swimming lessons, most of which are for kids. There are a few adult swim classes out there. However, I just can’t stand the thought of anyone seeing me in a bathing suit. And I don’t like getting water in my ears, and anyway, I’d have to remove my hearing aids because they aren’t supposed to get wet, but then how would I hear the instructor?

So I have decided not to learn to swim. I mean, there are flotation devices on those boats, aren’t there?

How did you learn to swim? Or did you?

Former Feral


My cat, Hee Seop (HE-sop), passed away in October 2018. His legs suddenly became paralyzed one afternoon, and he had trouble walking. We took him to the emergency vet immediately, where they told us his prognosis was bad and that he was in a lot of pain. (You can read about it here.) We knew what the right decision was, but it was difficult to make. He passed away that evening.

Hee Seop was formerly a feral cat, which means he was probably the offspring of domesticated cats who were abandoned (strays). They are hard, if not impossible to tame. Although these cats are wild, they aren’t considered wildlife. They are afraid of humans.

We first met Hee Seop after my husband threw out the results of a failed recipe. He set the bags outside the back door to take them to the dumpster later. That evening, my husband saw Hee Seop on our back porch for the first time, foraging for food in our trash. My husband called me, and when we peeked out the window, Hee Seop ran. It was February. This happened many times in the next few months.

I left food and water on the porch for him, and occasionally I spied him eating or drinking. By April or May, he was on the back porch every afternoon at 4:30, screaming to be fed! This was something he would continue to do in the future. You see, I had started giving him wet food once a day, in addition to his kibble. Eventually, he let me sit on the porch near him while he ate his wet food, as long as I didn’t watch. Whenever he saw me watching, he took off.

He was named after Hee Seop Choi, a former first baseman for the Chicago Cubs baseball team, who was supposed to be a huge big deal, but was basically a dud. Before that, I called him Portia the Porch Cat  because I thought he was female. Then one day, while the Cubs were on TV, I peeked out the window. Hee Seop went down the stairs and I could see that he had “wee sops.” Hehe. So I took him in to get neutered.

I borrowed a humane trap from a shelter and TNR’d (Trap Neuter Return) him. I took him to the vet to get neutered, and then released him back to the wilds of the urban jungle. Feral cats, who form communities, would rather live outside.

We already had 3 cats, so my aim was to bring him to a local cat shelter who had a room dedicated to non-socialized cats. I was hoping they would give him food and shelter for the rest of his life (because that’s what that particular shelter did), but when I called them, I was told that the socialization room was full. So, it looked like we were getting a 4th cat as soon as I could get him inside.

That didn’t happen for another 4 months, when the landlord decided to tear down and reconstruct the back porches, with only a 2-week notice. It was sooner than I had planned to get Hee Seop indoors, and the porch was where we first connected. Now it was being torn down.

I had 2 days left to get him inside. I locked our 3 cats in the bedroom, and made sure the cat carrier was wide open. I set out a bowl of tuna, and took my place on the porch, on the steps leading to the floor above. When I saw him, I threw a jacket over him, hoping to scoop him up with it. FAIL!!!!

I was devastated, but I still had one day, and finally, the next day I “captured” him! I was unable to pick him up with my jacket and he was running loose in the apartment. I panicked because I thought he escaped. I looked everywhere. Finally, I checked the cat carrier, and there he was hiding inside it! We took him to the vet for a check-up.

I hadn’t planned on having a 4th cat. He was about a year old when we adopted him, and lived with us for the next 16 years. He was 17 when he passed. RIP Hee Seop ❤️

Have you ever taken in a stray?

Depression & Indecision

yes-3100993_640When I’m depressed, I wouldn’t be able to decide between toast or a bagel for breakfast. And when I’m not depressed, I still can’t. Often, I turn to my husband and ask him if I should do the one thing or the other, hoping that he will decide for me. This rarely works because he rarely tells me which choice to go with! Well, sometimes he does.

What do you think of this outfit? I ask. My husband replies, “Wear what you feel comfortable in.” Or, the red scarf or the darker red scarf? And he says, “Darker red,” when in actuality, I had already made up my mind to wear the regular red one and didn’t need his opinion after all! I only gave these examples from when I’m not depressed, because when I’m depressed, I’m not going anywhere, anyway, so who cares what I’m wearing!

I don’t know how to just choose. Instead, it’s a big production that usually ends up with me making the final decision, anyway. And then my husband throws up his arms and says, “Then why did you ask, if you’re going to go with the opposite choice from what I picked out?”

This behavior on my part must be annoying. The problem is, I have no idea how to stop. Maybe I can Google “how to overcome indecision”? Maybe it’s behavior that migrated from my depressive state and into my baseline state and has become a habit? No clue.

Do you make decisions easily, or do you have a difficult time? Does it become harder when you’re depressed?

My Healthy Risks

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Photo provided by Author

Normally we think of risk-taking as unwise. But healthy risks exist. These are things like playing sports, or auditioning for a play. I wouldn’t consider myself a risk-taker these days, though I took many unsafe risks in my early 20s: brought strange men home; got inside a taxicab numerous times while completely drunk and alone (I could’ve been murdered!); took drugs I was given at a party or while hanging out with a group, not knowing what they or their effects were. After I was diagnosed and stable, I stopped taking these types of risks.

I had a full-time job, but it was a dead-end job. I took a risk and returned to school. I went full-time, though I still had a part-time job. The reason I believe this was a healthy risk was because it was mentally challenging. By earning my degree I had the potential to get ahead in life. Then I graduated, and headed to graduate school (another risk) where I met my husband (yet another risk).

I remember the first time I saw him. It was during orientation. He was sitting a few rows ahead of me and a new friend. My friend called him Adonis Boy (AB). Lol! I reluctantly agreed that he was cute with his blue eyes and curly blond hair, but didn’t want anything to do with him. I was there for school and school only.

When we broke for lunch, most of the students headed to the back of the room where a lunch spread was laid out. Over the potato salad, AB and I stood across the table from one another. In my mind I once again agreed with my friend that this young man was cute, but I wasn’t looking for a relationship.

He and I had a class together, and got to know our classmates and we all started hanging out. At some point AB asked me out to dinner. I was recently divorced, but I took the risk. It was a healthy one. Now we’ve been together for 20 years, and married for 16!

What are some healthy risks you’ve taken?

My Cat Died

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I have 2 cats: Hee Seop (HEE-sop) and Angelo, and both are old. Or I should say that I had 2 cats, since one of them, Hee Seop (pictured here), died last Wednesday evening.

Granted, both cats are almost 18 years old, so part of me expected this, just not so soon. Hee Seop had a low appetite about a month ago, but a trip to the vet and some medication helped.

Since then, he hung out in all of the rooms, not just the bedroom where he and Angelo usually sleep all day. Hee Seop sat in my lap on the sofa, or lay next to my husband on the love seat. He didn’t care if the dog was there or not. He wasn’t afraid of Rudy, anyway.

For months he lay next to my head on my pillow overnight. I used to bury my face in his soft fur. I didn’t give voice to it at the time, but all his affection and spending more time in the living room with my husband and me — I was afraid that Hee Seop was saying goodbye.

Then last Wednesday I was sitting at my desk. I could feel him beneath my chair, walking over its legs that spread out like a spider’s and has wheels  on the ends. I thought he was going to sleep in the dog’s bed under my desk, but I heard some weird noises that turned out to be Hee Seop struggling to get out from underneath the chair. His body looked a little odd, and when I saw him move a little, I noticed that his back legs were paralyzed. We took him to the emergency vet immediately.

On the way there, we both mentioned how scared we were that we wouldn’t come home with him. Meanwhile, he was panting and crying very loudly in the back seat. I didn’t know if he was in pain, protesting being in the carrier, or what.

We weren’t at the vet long. The doctor told us that he had a blood clot in his heart. A piece of it broke off and got lodged in his abdomen and blocked the blood supply to his legs, which is why they gave out. I think it’s called a saddle thrombus, and is extremely painful. Fortunately, the vet gave him a pain reliever.

We discussed the prognosis, which the veterinarian said was poor, especially because Hee Seop also had congestive heart failure. They could treat him, but the end result would have been the same as having him humanely euthanized. We chose the latter because we didn’t want to prolong his pain and discomfort.

I’m extremely sad, because Hee Seop was with us since he was a year old. He was a feral cat that showed up on our back porch looking for food, and that I socialized into a tame (but skittish) cat. He isn’t the first cat we needed to have put to sleep. Two others were before him. But it doesn’t get easier. I’m not depressed, which is a good thing. But I think about him a lot.