The future, apparently, is now. Or at least will start to take some shape remarkably soon.

Tomorrow morning, I meet with one of Rutgers’ Vice Presidents to determine what I’m worth to the University on a possible bid to return for a third year as coach of their Debate Union. I had had no intention of staying, but it’s becoming clear that there would be some possible benefits to doing so, most of which are likely to be outlined (or at least discussed) tomorrow. I could not possibly feel more conflicted about this issue. There are lots of reasons to leave New Jersey and probably very few to stay. But I do love this team and debate is about the only thing going consistently well in my life right now, so if they make me an offer I can’t refuse, I won’t. If I had to guess, the final offer will be somewhere that squarely makes the decision a quandary. But it will be interesting to find out.

Today, I found out that my cat, or at least former cat, Emily’s and my former cat, Pandora, is dying. Her kidneys are failing. She is very old (twelve and a half) and has lived a good, long life, most of it by far in the company of a couple that loved her very much. She spent the last two summers in California with Em’s cousin, and I couldn’t bear to take her back at the conclusion of this one amidst all the upheaval and torment in my life. I have half a mind to spontaneously up and fly out to SoCal and say goodbye, but it would be just as unsatisfying and disappointing as other last-ditch flights have proven. The Pandora I loved is probably already gone, her mood and will to live dampened by the giving out of her organs. I wish I could see her again, but it would probably just hurt. And cost. Still, the news has hit me hard.

I have been at a loss for words and thoughts and feelings of late. Maybe not feelings. Words and thoughts, certainly. I have predictable contexts where I can make sense, but most of me feels as though I’m grappling with oblong objects and insufficient tools for their manipulation. Like the whole world came wrapped in an unwieldy box and I’m just trying to figure out how to pick up any part of it without dropping it all on the floor, having it spill out in pieces of broken. It keeps seeming like a great idea to move stuff around, to pick it up and try it over there, no, how about here. But the reality is that just kicking at it in a certain direction is starting to seem untenable. And the whole thing leaves me grasping at words and concepts, flailing in my inability to plant a flag anywhere.

And, signal of my most volatile days for time immemorial, I’ve got a dental appointment tomorrow too. It was originally looking like a root canal, but we’re trying to get away with a filling, a redo of a misplaced filling from years prior, one that’s been giving me a lot of pain of late. My own kidneys seem to be behaving, their stone production compromised by the intake of sugarless pure cranberry juice, but it’s still been a year that’s been hard on my health. Just going to get dental work seems like a huge investment, a commitment of upfront time and angst on the whispered promise of a long-term that I have to find some value in. That perhaps will have quantifiable value, at least in some form, as early as by the time I get to said appointment.

How silly it all seems, the filter of money, of mortality. How much these color and change our perceptions of the world around us. We can be forgiven, I suppose, for money is freedom and the absence of mortality probably feels like freedom for the most part. But it is strange to wrestle on the cusp of inevitability when one is still mired in uncertainty. I tend to relish and savor uncertainty, and the idea that so many possibilities will foreclose quickly, even to possibly great ends, is a bit unsettling. Continually, as with this whole year, I feel utterly desanctioned from agency in my own life, its outcomes, the paths that unfold. This is where the inevitability comes in, perhaps, makes its mark, paints its red arrows. Or perhaps it’s as cyclical as the lifetime of an living beast, entering and exiting the world unable to control its own bladder, let alone its thoughts and feelings.

I will leave this in a sad, simple way, before heading off to another meeting, a lighter one, one to plan a tournament that is perhaps the only certain thing I have circled to look forward to on a calendar of days fading into each other. It’s the last known picture of Emily and Pandora together, and I don’t care who knows it – I miss my girls: