Catpaws Cafe

Random musings from my virtual fountain pen

Archive for the tag “expat life”

The Pound

(10th March, 2016)

The pound.  Just the words makes dread spread through my body. Red, Blondi, Naranga and Albina are missing from the neighborhood, as well as less frequent cat visitors I have not named in my head. The neighbourhood cats are my friends; we hang out and chat, which is what friends do, right?
I don’t know if they have been rounded up and caught, poisoned or what.
Apparently there is a “pound” in town. Noone I’ve asked knows where. There’s no way of knowing how long they hold onto the furfolk they bring there to give humans a chance to reclaim their furry family members. Or if they are “destroyed” straight away. I don’t want to dwell on it or think about it. To me it is equal to murder, and I want to scream someone is murdering my friends!!!

So many thoughts and feelings running through my head. They’re my friends – what you are doing is a feline holocaust. I’m anthropomorphising I know, but I can’t seem to stop. I’m wondering what they will think of me for not coming to look for them. I feel I have failed my feline brethren even though it is not my obligation for lack of a better word. I can’t keep the whole world safe.

“You should have run, been even more careful!” I cry. ‘Everything is a co-creation’ I tell myself but it is scant comfort. If you want to be a creator you have got to let everyone else be one too. In this instance it’s no comfort at all.

What if we did find out where it is and went there, and were greeted by fifty – a hundred – hopeful or despairing furry faces? And only could bring home one or two? Could my heart bear to walk away from all the others, knowing their fate? Knowing they’ll be murdered? It would feel like it is my fault, I’ve been found lacking when it comes to being able to help our feline and canine sisters and brothers out of their predicament.

I tell our two to be careful every time they step out of the house and not eat anything suspect, to stay out of reach of humans. I make sure there’s always food in the bowl. “It’s not you I don’t trust” I whisper in their ears, “it’s other people I don’t trust any more.”
I detest how so many common people have no respect for other forms of life, unless it is a darned chihuahua.
Who teach their offspring cats are dirty and vermin. Cat’s aren’t dirty! They keep rats, mice and snakes population under control, and Tabita is very talented at killing any cockroach she sees. They are far too small to remove a bag of rubbish from a bin. Here it is the dogs who drag garbage bags into the street and rips them open, but it’s not out of malice, they are just hungry.

Why are there so many? Because people here seem to inherently dislike having their pets fixed, even with free spay and neuter clinics. And because in low season a family may not have enough to feed that dog so let it out in the street to forage for itself as best it can. It’s not a cute little puppy for the kids to play with any more, and thus it joins the feral’s.

I miss our orange boys, their sweet faces greeting me at the door in the morning. They only want a safe place to hang out, a place to sleep and rest, some food and love. Just like you. Just like me. I miss them a lot but probably less than Milou and Tabita.

I can’t get away from feeling I have failed in my self appointed role as their guardian, even though they are their own responsibility and not really mine at all. That my love and softness somehow set them up for perhaps letting their guard down with others. It makes me once more ashamed to be associated with the human race.

I pray whatever did or will befall them, it was/is quick and painfree.
“I’m so sorry, so so sorry” I whisper to the night air and tears run down my already wet cheeks. Forgive me for letting you down, please forgive me for not trying hard enough to find out.  Forgive me for not going to look for you.  I just cant do it.

(I hate) Being sensitive

IS peace and quiet in your own home a privilege reserved only for the moneyed?
Why? Does not people from all walks of life have the right to a have that choice also?
Do you really think HSP (high sensitivity) is something that only happens when affluent? It’s no blessing, it’s a curse, unless you can afford a secluded cabin when the world around you gets too much.
With a baby howling out back in the neighbours courtyard (and has done for over an hour now), three soundsystems pounding out techno, rap-reggeton and something else I have no name for, the feeling of panic in my body is steadily rising and the impossible need to get away is threatening to suffocate me from within.

Last night I was so sure I could write that last missing chapter in the morning, but waking up to this? How am I supposed to even stay sane with this? How am I supposed to work in this constant bombardment? I’m not a successful author so there’s no money for an office, let alone a soundproof one. I work at the kitchen table. I like working from home because I like the love of our cats around and the comic relief they provide. When I get stuck I can wash up or do the laundry.

Now every nerve feels frayed, my heart is pounding a tattoo in a RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!! and I can’t stop it. I can’t think.  I seriously can’t think.
All my ideas have fled and are out of reach, every last one scrubbed away by the auditory torture and I don’t even know what I was going to do. My hands are shaking and the rest of my body trembling. All I want to do is lock myself in the bathroom and cry. Cover my ears with pillows and and blankets, and rock back and forth in catatonia. So that’s what I’m going to do.
loud people
I’ve come to hate Cancun. I hate how no one gives a shit about being considerate. I hate being sensitive, it’s a fucking curse and I’d happily swap it for being more hardy and be able to live and be more at ease in this loud world that to me feels more like assault every day.
Who the hell wants to be sensitive and feel deeply?
I can’t get away from it because there’s nowhere to go. Everywhere is full of people, and where there’s people there’s always someone who thinks it’s their duty to make as much noise and pump out muzak as loud as the speakers will go. Unless you have a car and can drive and park up in the jungle somewhere.

Now it’s finally stopped – after 3 hours+ for this time. Every muscle in my body is still tense, tighter than a piano string. Every idea I had is gone, Every single idea, every nuance I had to guide the word magic to weave together a story is gone without even leaving as much as a trace. The word notes on the paper from last night means nothing any more. And that makes me cry even more. Now all I feel is empty and crushingly depressed.  12742607_1028001063927972_7883913622580101030_n

Introverted adventure to Malinalco

I recently went to Mexico’s quirky capital, D.F.– Distrito Federal – on business and decided to tag on some writing time and make it a two in one, just for me. Going on my own was not the original plan, it just happened that way.
I’d forgotten how enjoyable and liberating it can be travelling on your own; doing what I want when I want, no one to take into consideration, no wondering if your companion is bored, or being bored myself with other peoples choices. No fears over missing out; I can relax in the evening with a book back at the hotel room, rather than feel irritated and overloaded in a bar; a compromise to a travelling companion who thinks we should go out; it’s what people do on holiday isn’t it… No packed days of stuff that you have to do or fit in, just a couple of ideas and see where I end up. A lot of cosy bookshops and cafés then…!

Random cafe in Mexico City

Random cafe in Mexico City

I’ve been asked a lot how I found out about Malinalco, or Mali as the locals called their picturesque little mountain town. Happenstance is how. I was in a hurry so I ran into the bedroom, grabbed my Mexico travel book, threw it on the kitchen table in passing en route to the toilet… Out of curiosity looked I looked where it had opened when it landed, read it and thought that sounds good, why not head there? So I did and it was lovely. Truly beautiful.
During the week it was a tranquil, relaxed haven with Wednesday market being a film-makers dream. So much so it felt out of integrity to take photos of all the traditionally dressed up traders with their wares and handmade crafts, come from all the little villages and towns around for the day.
Roll around Friday and the week-enders arrive; hotels and guest-houses fill up, the amount of shops and restaurants triple and the town centre becomes party-central until the wee hours of the morning. Time your visit to suit your recharging needs.

2014-08-20_17-34-53_116Going away to write did not work out quite as I had imagined for a variety of reasons. I missed my husband and the cats yes, that was expected.

Part of me wanted too much to explore to be disciplined. Where we live there is little or nothing I haven’t already done countless times, so being in a new and beautiful setting with wild rambling walks and culture at my fingertips, I wanted it all; Inspiration, experiences, nature, exercise. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a nature person, I do like the absence of other humans and the company of trees and other pretty greenery. Add to that an Aztec temple, museums, and lots of craft shops.
To just lock myself in a room (which I chose specifically because it had a desk instead of a tv) or sit on the balcony, felt a bit like ignoring a buffet when you’re starving – dumb and counter-productive. It also made me feel too weird and judged, though I don’t expect anyone actually took any notice.2014-08-22_10-29-55_164

There was also the old pressure stalking me, ready to pounce… Others may hunt down all the sights for great shots to show friends back home, and to sustain themselves whilst saving up for their next adventure. I’ve realized I travel in search of spiritual connections, in the hope of encountering soul family. I look, I search, even though I know the futility of it all. I can’t help myself. My fear is what if “they” are here and I miss them because I didn’t “make the effort” and “push myself”.
That fear drives me on. I wander aimlessly, perusing, observing, smiling, trying to relax, be approachable. While part of me wants to scream at my soul creator come on, darn it! Something, someone. Make my effort worthwhile! Someone approach me for a change, strike up a conversation. We don’t have to become bff, just ten minutes of meaningful conversation, a connection, a spark of light and glimmer of hope at the end of a solitary tunnel, that the loneliness (not to be confused with solitude) won’t last forever. That it’s not the life sentence I’m beginning to fear.

For someone as introverted and highly sensitive as myself it is a truly horrible pressure to force yourself to “go out and meet and talk to people” because I think I should, but I have yet to find another way to make friends. Noone’s ever come knocking on my door saying “I heard you were in town, I’ve been expecting you. Want to go for a coffee?” and turned into a fast friend.
Just because I’m introverted does not mean I don’t want friends. It just means I’m not interested in what I call extrovert-fun; the bars, clubs, noisy shopping malls and crowded parties. It could mean walks, coffees, lunches, small groups or one on one.

View from the Aztec Temple

View from the Aztec Temple

Lastly it was the am I getting x pesos worth out of this day, x being the cost of the basic hotel-room and food etc. It goes something like this; if I’d been filling notepad after notepad with pages and pages of inspired prose of the kind that barely needs editing, then yes. Heck yes. As it were, I got some good character studies that no doubt will come in handy later when fleshing out the population in my current novel with personality traits and quirks that make them fascinating characters. But nothing near what I had hoped for.

When I started writing Andino Andina the writing flowed. It was a magnificent stream of inspiration and consciousness a writer – any writer – dreams of. Writing at it’s most enjoyable. I wrote for hours, not even pausing to eat, until my hand was all cramped up after some seven hours that I had to continue with my other hand, which is considerably less easy on the eye.

Knowing I only had enough funds for a few days and not producing “enough” to justify the expense to myself, I booked my ticket back home.
I then asked myself what I needed most; more culture nourishment or more nature (both being in short supply where we live) and decided on another 24 hours in DF, rather than listening to another night of bad karaoke while trying to focus and squeeze coherent sentences out of my pen somehow.
It turned out to have been a wise choice. I spent hours in the hazy sunshine topping myself up with the delicious coffee and warm atmosphere at the Mono Azul, watching the hang gliders high above, before catching a colectivo to the bus station in a neighboring town and bus back to the big city.

Coffee at Mono Azul before leaving Malinalco

Coffee at Mono Azul before leaving Malinalco

And that is where I met some truly lovely people; on the microbus, among them the flyers I’d been watching from below, making their way back up the mountain for another flight. It was wonderful to be really seen, in the moment. I have a honest interest in flying of any kind and if I go back I’ll definitely consider a tandem. They in turn showed a genuine interest in me and my writing. We didn’t swap email addresses or anything; it was not one of those meetings. But I came away with a smile on my face that lasted, even in the pouring rain, for the rest of the day.
Or maybe that was the sweet, wild strawberries I’d filled my thermos-flask with and shared with the hotel porter and the cleaner 😉

Until next time,
Catpaw

The dusk and dawn

 

The dusk and dawn

 

When the worlds overlap so slightly

is when the pain of separation

is at it’s most intense.

I never looked at it that way

I only knew it hurt

but I couldn’t work out why

I’d been just fine five minutes before

just like for me in 3d

I often don’t realize how much I miss something

until reminded

by having it once more

a blessing in itself, in disguise

So at dusk the pain of separation from

my soul family is so palpable

because of those on the other side

are cloaked but near.

It hurts so bad I never made the connection

I never thought that’s what it was

tho now,

when I compare the two

missing someone who has passed over

or longing for someone who is away

I can see they are one and the same for me.

 

So here I am subconsciously thinking I’m travelling and

moving the world over

in search of my souls cherished companions

where I need first to explore

and know intimately

the Pain of Separation.

And I know how to be a stranger

just as I know how to pack up and move.

Years of temping taught me how to pick up and fit in

without ever being noticed.

To the next place, and the next…

Many times I wanted to stay

mostly for the camaraderie I witnessed

but it was not to be

and anyway, I was always too soul restless for that.

I’d spend a year with the same group and

the itchy feet would start

Like watching from the sidelines

the echoes of voices

the same lines

over

and over

and over…

When I got a close fit

they’d disappear out of my life

often without a trace

no explanation, no closure

and the confusion and question-marks would hurt so much

sometimes instant,

other times time would trickle away

and they’d be irrevocably gone.

Too late to grieve like for a lover lost

but I guess I grieved on the inside instead

the tears I never shed

the dull pain never identified as such

the missing unvalidated.

Never enough to hold me in one place

when I needed to move on

in search of

and exploring it’s counterpart

when it starts to get comfortable

like ants all over

unbearable

I’m subconsciously urged to move on

by boredom at work

of fear of stagnation.

To stay in a stale job one needs very special colleagues

or a fulfilling life outside of work.

A fulfilling job can equally accommodate

an empty personal life.

Mine was rich on the inside

whilst empty on the outside…

I wanted the inspiring career from day one

to make up for the empty feeling inside and

later to cover up for my lack of success in attracting all I thought I ought to have

I don’t know if it would have made me happy or not

since I never got the experience.

 

Then I came here

I reckoned I’d moved for every other reason bar love

so I thought why not try that.

Actually, that was an afterthought

It wasn’t so much of a choice

as it was a a road with no turnoffs…

No matter how much it pained me to leave

my friends, the job I loved, the car of my dreams

I knew with every fiber of my being

I was doing the right thing.

And so the next phase of my life began.

For a while all the bits of my crazy life made perfect sense.

 

It certainly stepped up the feelings of alienation in a way I had not foreseen. I had expected because I was on the right track at last to quickly make new friends. It didn’t happen that way. Spanish turned out to be just as impossible to get the hang of as it was at college, and I found myself surrounded by women of all ages with babies on the brain and not much else; tourists in search of sun and an escape from their everyday life, problems and worries; and men fuelled largely by beer and tacos.

As the friends I had made left one by one and work dried up, the layers of the onion deepened.

 

My friend Jacquie once said when I was new to Park Gate and feeling low about it, that it takes about a year to make real friends in a new place, and I’ve found that to be my truth too. It’s been almost six years now and here I am, mainly alone, acquaintances aside.

Every other year I encounter someone I feel is close friend material for sure

only to never hear from them again.

 

I don’t know how much deeper into this onion I have to go

or what I’m supposed to do.

What I know is I’m not aligned with much on this island anymore.

I’m not interested in drinking, smoking, bullshitting and bar-hopping. I’ll never have any interest in babies, kids or the soaps on tv.

The sand and the palmtrees on the beaches does not make up for the absence of other things nature wise. I need personal space and will never be comfortable living the way many Mexicans do, on top of eachother and in and out of eachothers pockets and space all the time. 14000 residents plus tourists on 3 square miles of buildable land is too densely populated for me, with more people arriving every week, and soon every foot of land will be covered by concrete in one form or another. I’d like to live somewhere where alcohol is not the main fuel of the economy.

But I only have to look at my husband of almost 5 years now to know I got the man right!  I wouldn’t change him for the world.

 

So now I know

what that dusk and dawn feeling I’ve always dreaded is.

I feel at peace and easeful, for a little while.

I give the kitties a good brushing because they love it and

passers by smile at me and I find myself smiling back,

right here, right now.

 

So where do I take it from here

or where does this take me more like?

I don’t know.

 

Do I care? In the now, no.

If I let myself go to the future, yes definitely.

How much should we allow ourselves to dwell on the future?

I don’t have an answer for that right now.

I don’t want to go there.

Because I am here

and I like to stay in the moment for now.

 

 

10 April 2013

(c) Catpaws Cafe, Liz Rosales.

So what’s underneath the onion

The sewing machine is ”playing up”.   So I don’t feel inspired to sew now, but the next fayre is a week away and this stuff needs to be finished before then. I felt inspired when I designed, cut and pinned them, but I ran out of daylight and sewing black in the evening does not work for me.

So what?  I doubt there’s anyone who always feel inspired, just f-ckin deal with it! I rarely feel inspired to clean or cook, go food shopping or do laundry, shower or brush my teeth, yet it has to be done. Deal with it.

So I scream and punch the sewing machine – I don’t need you to have a highfalutin opinion about my lack of enthusiasm right now – just do your f-ckin’job and sew!!!

It’s not just that it is full moon though it probably contributes.   Hubbys family is coming today, and no matter how nice they are as people, for me it is always fraught and highly stressful. It means ridiculously long and late nights, not enough of and poor quality sleep, guilt over needing apparently twice as much sleep as everyone else, and general frustration.  Creative projects and writing gets put away until they leave.

For days the frustrations of feeling required to behave to fit the extroverted social norm, with the fake smiles and pretending everything is just fine. All while at the same time being bored to tears by the same old drama, but too well brought up to pick up a book and zone out the way others play with their smart-phones, play games or fb. Of hours of waiting around for nothing.  Of concentrating like crazy to try to understand and follow the conversation, until my head feels like it’s going to explode.

Sick of the glib jibes pointing out that I have not learnt spanish yet even though I live here. How I should go out and practice with everyone any opportunity, how I should take the opportunities and practice here and now. How I must be sooo lazy because I still can’t speak. Learning a language when immersed in it is sooo EASY…

And noone has any understanding how hard I have tried to learn, how much I have studied and how f-ckin’ impossible it feels by now. How deeply embarrassed and frustrated I am about this.

Nor does it stop there.  I’m not Buddha or Jeshua; if you poke me repeatedly I get hacked off. If one more shower of unsolicited ”helpful” hints as how I should live my life; not scratch at the hundreds of insect bites on my legs and feet, what to buy and use (same sh-t I have tried and then some) and how terrible the scars on my legs look, I WILL loose it and SCREAM. They may not understand the words but I’m sure as hell the meaning will be perfectly clear. You’ve trod on my boundaries one time too many so back off!

Am I mirroring their own suppressed anger and frustration if I let mine show? The fear that this is all there is (so let’s keep on dancing) ?

I’m so damned polite and unwilling to offend, but I’m also so darn tired of the same old dance. I ”behave” as is expected of me, in a grown-up friendly manner. Even if it feels more like a parody at times. How much I despise the same old ”well-meaning” small-talk and would love to be able to have a meaningful conversation.

I want to be my usual quirky inner self and for that to translate and come across as the loving and affable me my friends know and love.

But right now I feel none of those things, or rather I feel anger and frustration as well and those voices are so much louder right now.

I can just imagine the unspoken words. Leave that english bitch and and get a nice mexican girl who will be up to date on soaps and drama, is a good catholic instead of a bad influence and who will cherish his children. Unlike me.

And you know what? He had 40 years looking for one of those and he chose me! For who I am, for how we get eachother, for the spiritual bond and love we share that makes the struggles worth working our way through.

Underneath that lurks my fear that whatever I do will reflect badly on my husband. I don’t want to come between him and his family. He gets frustrated too but is hell bent on ”fixing” it, fixing it here meaning waking everyone up and get where he is coming from. I gave that up long ago. Everyone does their own journey following their own divine timing.

How do you ”interact” with unconscious extroverted people, when you are a conscious, highly sensitive introvert? When there is no common ground and no common language?

My personal answer was to step away and find friends to fill those spaces traditionally held by family. People who like me for who I am, and who’s company I enjoy.

It is like being 16, 17, 18 or 19 etc and going to visit my parents for the weekend. This time it will be different. This time we will get on. This time will be the new beginning of a new relationship between us.

Every time with an open mind and the best of intentions, ready to forgive, forget and let bygones be bygones. Let the crap slide and not raise to the bait. To ignore the put-downs and criticism and focus on… what exactly? What I wanted to have; mutual respect and appreciation. If you treated your friends like you treat me you’d soon find yourself lonely indeed. Yet, it’s me who’s finding her self alone here. What irony.

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