Fall Musings

As if the cooler temperatures weren’t enough of an indication that it’s fall, the dark mornings are. All summer long, the sun was out by the time my alarm went off in the mornings. Over the last few weeks, it’s gone from daylight to sunrise, and this week it’s still completely dark out even now. It makes it a lot harder to get moving in the mornings!
Last night I was able to get a little glimpse of sunset through the clouds as I drove home from my Zumba class in Smokey Point, but soon enough it’ll be dark when I go home in the evenings, too. With October will come Daylight Savings Time, which will give me back my brighter mornings for a few weeks but will make for even earlier sunsets. When I first moved to Washington, one of the things that really amazed me was how much different the daylight is in the summer than it is in the winter. In California, winter days are shorter, but not so drastically so. Here, the daylight stretches well into the evening in summer, but the sun sets before five o’clock in the evening in wintertime.
The other night my boyfriend and I went out for dinner in Edmonds. When we walked out of the restaurant after we’d eaten, we could both smell the “fall” smell of smoke from chimneys. People are starting to have fires again. I have a wood-burning fireplace in my apartment, so I could definitely go this route myself. It’s chilly in my place when I get home from work and chilly when I wake up in the mornings. I refuse to turn on the heat this early in the fall, though. Electric heat is SO expensive. So last night I put an extra blanket on my bed and snuggled up with my kitties. This morning I pulled a robe on over my pajamas and made myself a nice hot cup of coffee. I sat at my dining room table to drink it, the kitchen light on because it was still dark outside, thinking about how just a few weeks ago I was enjoying sitting in that same spot with cool late-summer morning air breezing in through the open window. This morning there’s no way I want the windows open.
I’m getting a four-day reprieve from fall weather when I leave on Thursday for a long weekend visiting my family in California. My dad told me yesterday that their temperatures should be in the nineties. Tonight when I pack for my trip, my bag will be full of t-shirts, tank tops, and capris. Then when I get home next week, I’ll pack those things away for the winter and bring out my cool-weather stuff: sweaters and long pants and light coats.
My favorite part of the cooler weather is that Saturday likes to sleep under the covers, snuggled into my side. His sweet little kitty snores make me smile. Angel likes to sleep on my pillow, and Oliver usually settles himself near my feet, but Saturday wants to be as close to in my skin as he possibly can.
I’m looking forward to October. Summer is by far my favorite season, but I really do like fall in the Northwest. A lot of the trees are evergreen so there’s not a lot of change in the color, but there are also a lot of trees that will turn brilliant oranges and reds in October. I like to wait until about halfway through the month and then take a day trip over to Leavenworth, mostly because the drive over the pass to get there is so pretty with all the changing leaves.
I feel like this year has flown by, and I’m going to blink and it’s going to be over. Wasn’t it just January, when I was newly living alone and feeling like life would never be normal again? And now life is quiet, calm, and routine, and I am happy.

Happy Things

This week was my 11-year anniversary at work, and for some reason a couple of nights ago I had a nightmare that I was let go from my job. Dream me was a sobbing mess as I packed up my things and panicked about how I was going to pay bills with no income. Cat food isn’t cheap, people. Needless to say, I was pretty happy to wake up that morning and discover that it had all been just a dream, and I can’t remember the last time I was so happy to get up and get ready for work.
A scary dream about losing my employment definitely made me more grateful for my steady job, and my ability to rely on paychecks being deposited into my bank account every two weeks. For me, this whole week has been full of gratitude-inspiring moments. I’m trying to re-establish my workout schedule after falling way off track over the last several months. When I woke up this morning, my arms and shoulders were SORE after a particularly intense kettle ball workout at my gym yesterday. It may sound crazy, but I was incredibly happy to hurt. I can feel myself getting back in shape, back to a place where I feel like I can push myself and my body will do whatever I want it to do. I know that I’m lucky to be able to go into the gym and work hard and feel good. Not everyone can. I have friends that are struggling with injury recovery right now and I see their frustrations. That could just as easily be me, and I’m thankful for my health.
It’s been a really crazy week at work for my boyfriend, and yet amid insanely long hours he still manages to make time to have dinner with me, and talk to me on the phone on days I don’t get to see him. No matter what’s going on in his life, he makes me a priority. I’m so grateful for him, and so overwhelmed in the best possible way by how much he loves me and cares about me.
And then there was this moment:
V and Saturday
I was watching TV the other night, and Saturday came and snuggled up to me, purring himself to sleep. I love my kitties so much. They make me so, so happy. I don’t think it’s possible to be unhappy with a sweet, purring kitty snuggled up to you. I love our cuddly moments.
Next week I get to spend a long weekend with my family, and I’m extremely excited for the visit. My family is important to me, and living so far away I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I’d like to.
And, lastly, I am happy that it is Friday and that this dreary rain we’ve had this week is supposed to clear out right in time for the weekend!

I Wasn't Going to Write About This

I wasn’t going to write about Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back who was caught on video knocking his then-fiancee, now wife, out cold in an elevator. Yes, what he did made me angry and sickened me. I seriously doubt that the day that video was shot was the first time he’d raised his hands to a woman, or the last. All that makes me sad, but those comments have been made before, so I didn’t see the need to take to the Internet to reiterate them.
It makes me madder still that Rice wasn’t cut from the Ravens until this week, when additional footage was released showing what happened in that elevator. To me, the fact that he was abusing a woman in that elevator was enough, regardless of footage. It disgusts me that, so often even in our present day, acts of domestic violence are downplayed or downright ignored until there is too much evidence staring society in the face to be able to turn away from it. In this case, it was video footage. Often, it’s a victim being either severely injured or killed that spurs the wake-up call. And even now, amid the horror-stricken people crying out for Rice to not just be suspended from the NFL, but jailed for his actions, comes the question, “Why does his wife stay with him?” I hate this question. I suppose it’s one that you can’t really understand the answer to unless you’ve been the victim of violence at the hands of someone you love, and who claims to love you. But really, this question is just a form of victim-shaming. In my mind, asking a battered woman why she stays with her abuser is no different than asking a rape victim why she wore such a short skirt.
Even with all of that, I still hadn’t planned on writing about this. It’s very triggering for me and I would rather just acknowledge that it was a terrible thing that Ray Rice did, and move on. But then today on Twitter, I found the hashtags #whyIstayed and #whyIleft trending. And it just broke me. I sat and read tweet after tweet, survivors and victims putting themselves out there and answering the question of why they chose to stay, and why they finally left. They were addressing, in one united strong voice, the answer to the question that has been asked so much about Janay Palmer Rice. I added my own tweets, to let my voice be heard.
And so, I am writing about Ray Rice. I am writing about domestic violence, because people want to understand the answer to the question, “Why does she stay?” She stays because she loves him. Because she doesn’t want to disrupt her family. Because being a victim of domestic violence can still make that victim feel ashamed, even though she has done nothing wrong. There’s still so much stigma out there. No one chooses to be a victim. We don’t choose to be mugged, or held up at the bank, or raped. We don’t choose to be hurt by the people we love, either, and yet it happens. And if one good thing is to come out of this whole ordeal, it’s that people are talking about this issue. They aren’t just asking a question anymore, that question is being answered by the voices of those who know the answer all too well. I am writing about Ray Rice to add my voice to a growing conversation that I think might actually have the power to change the way we look at this issue. I am writing this in hopes that maybe I can help even one person get the courage to take the actions to leave, so that maybe even one more person can be a survivor, and share the part of their story that will begin with #whyIleft.