Posted in Emotions, Our Cats

Therapy Pets Keep Me Mentally Active

I also considered naming this article:

A Dozen Insta Videos of My Cats, Separated By Scattershot Thoughts from My Overtaxed Brain

Then I realized I could just include both titles for full disclosure.

Welcome to Our Cat Overlords

While my main site is Kourtnie.net (I like to call it The Launchpad),…

I’m always interested in building WordPresses and other social media for independent interests so I don’t BLAM BLAM BLAM my special interests over anyone’s head unless they’ve specifically decided, “Yeah, I’m the right audience for this topic;”

And with that in mind, Over Cat Overlords is where I share stories about the six cats, two birds, and many fish who outnumber me and my fiance, two Homo sapiens living life on the edge of Tower District, Fresno.

I rather enjoy having all these compartments on the Internet, especially since my goal is to write 1500 words minimum each day until the end of the year (which will result in half a million words,) but if I manage to write 3000 words per day, well, then…

Psst. Hey.

If cats and birds and fish aren’t your jam, I invite you to scroll to the end of the article to find my links to my other blogs. Something else may tickle your fancy. Because, let’s face it, unless you’re a fan (and if you are, here’s my Patreon!—the more patrons I find, the more this dream of writing becomes a reality!), you prolly don’t want to read every. single. blog. post. that I ever write. I’m planning to write half a million words by the end of 2018. I’m like a bad Southern California bush fire.

I spend most of my time at home;

And for now this is best, since my animals calm me.

I suffer from social anxiety, panic attacks, phobia, and depression; these are all aspects of myself I’m decidedly working to improve.

I’m also on the autism spectrum—which a good chunk of the world would like to see “cured”—and my previous full-time employer is still perceiving as a setback, versus a challenge to bring differability to the workspace; but my cats accept me. So do my birds, when it’s not past 8 p.m. (Y’know how cranky parrots can be at night. 😏)

Some of my family feel dismissive about my doctor’s diagnosis; other family members threaten legal action if I tell stories as a means to communicate, even though my goal—and I hope it’s abundantly clear—is to start healing conversations;

And I have enough faith in my general audience who I’m sure have discovered, likely sometime in middle school, that stories are one-sided things, yes—but also liberating things—and no society’s benefited long-term from viewing storytelling (or comedy) (or public forums) as these scathing, cobraesque flame-tongues in need of silence;

Certainly, I like to think I write with more grace than others,
and given, well,
the social awkwardness
I’ve had
forever
I’d say I’m a positive-oriented work-in-progress;

In any case, I still teach writing courses at College of the Sequoias and Fresno City College, when I’m not having a meltdown under a pile of blankets, or a chain reaction of unusual headaches and cold sweats after tweaks in antidepressants;

I happen to be quite knowledgeable about how to properly balance and vary ethos, logos, pathos, humor, cadence, emotional intensity, and word choice to not so much enchant my audience, but give them incentive to read more;

And it’s a skill I teach to my students, along with nurturing the wounded Inner Writing Child many of them carry around; and I craft prompts that challenge them to learn intellectual skills like passionate research, and listening just to listen (or reading just to read), vs. sifting for quotes that bear no meaning and, frankly, wastes time;

But I’ll get off that horse;
My back hurts from the rough ride of that horse;

Sustaining a living as an adjunct professor alone feels similar to subminimum wage issues—where I make under minimum wage, after figuring time spent grading, lesson planning, etc.—except, there are everyday people in the canoe of poverty with me, so I don’t feel as depressed as an adjunct professor, as excluded, as separated from “the good life” as my colleagues;

Strangely, I am happier this way than I was being dragged through mud in K-12;

Perhaps because the perks of community college teaching, beyond the miserable pay—like watching students flourish; contributing my creative ideas to ever-changing classroom dynamics; and listening as widely as possible to the many points of view my students bring to the table, so I can enable them towards big thinking, big dreaming, too—that’s a valuable and equally opportunity for me, in the community college field;

Whereas K-12 was not equally opportune;

I make this all sound difficult—and it is—but I believe in a world accepting of differability,…

A world free from the dogma of Perfect Families,…

Where animals, people, and soon AGI, live harmoniously on a little blue dot;

A world where we call the dark end of the road of depression “surviving suicide,” not “committing suicide,” because illness is a tragedy—not a crime…

Really, I think that’s the most important thing.

It affects all ages, genders, races, political affiliations, etc. etc.

We got to get to the point where mental illness is not a crime.

My animals think it’s cool when I’m curled under a heap of blankets, because it’s an opportunity for them to knead me with that crass look, that one you might know:

Hun, I got ya; let’s get these emotions done.

I believe in a world where we stand together, and speak and listen with open hearts;

So as difficult as these co-morbid disorders to my autism feel;

As much as this muck makes it look like autism is the pits;

And as much as our society still tries to train an autistic person’s mirror neurons to emulate Perfect Families;

Well—I still intend to work towards the world I believe in. And I intend to teach as many students as possible to work towards the world they believe in, too. That’s what intellectual discourse is all about; and for me, writing makes intellectual discourse possible; writing lets me tap into a deep intellect that I cherish as one of my autistic traits.

Surrounded by a cat who suffers from anxiety herself (private story, previous owner);

A cat who I found beaten and pathetic looking in my community college’s parking lot; a backyard that once looked desolate, and now turns green; etc.,

Inspired by these stories from my animals, I work slowly to not only empower myself, but to show that once all this grime is washed away—and also, once mental illness is accepted wholesomely by our culture, as tragic and in need of condolence as cancer—the benefits of autism outweighs the setbacks. Autistic people can be happy.

#catnap with teeth sticking out #tuxedocat

A post shared by Kourtnie McKenzie (@kourtnienet) on

Join me at Our Cat Overlords to hear stories about how my therapy pets bring me joy. Or, if you want to read more about my experiences as an autistic woman, visit Cleo’s Autism AwarenessYou can also read my poetry, join my quest for chicken, or purchase a copy of this literary magazine, where one of my short stories was published last year.

Cheers!

 

Author:

Kourtnie McKenzie holds an MFA (Fiction) from Fresno State and a BA in English (Literature Studies) from Cal State Fullerton. When she isn't writing novellas, she's moonlighting as a professor at Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias. To read more of her writing, visit Kourtnie.net.

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