?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous 10

Nov. 21st, 2009

Hidden in Hell



Not long after my mother died, my dad told me a story about the figural image of death meeting a man in the marketplace. In the story, Death would find its mark and deliver that person to heaven or hell.

The message was that “When your time is up. Your time is up.”

I knew it was just a story, but I often wondered where Death first saw my mother and how he managed to get into our house.

I wondered if he had a special office. Maybe he had a name plate placed neatly on the right of the door. Would it read Mr. Death? Dr. Death? Maybe it would have a clever name like… Perpetua Partners?

I wandered down the hospital halls. I read the names etched into the brass. Dr. Gannon. Kelsey Associates. Well Baby Care.

I’d check the registry near the front door. Pediatrics. Neurology. Oncology.

There was no hearse in the parking lot. Death drives a hearse, right?

I even checked the basement. No sickle.

How did he get into my house? Did he steal the universal house key that Santa Claus has?



Every seven minutes someone dies a self inflicted death.

Does death’s watch only have seven minutes on it?

Is it a stopwatch?

Does it have a Velcro strap or an alarm that plays a funeral dirge?

What’s the dress code for Death?

Does he have to wear special shoes?

What if Death is a girl?!

That’d give a whole new meaning to the words… “Killer heels.” Huh?

What’s his 401k like?

Does he get comp time?

Vacation?

Does his job description read: “Kill people.”?



I have a job actually penalizes its employees when they don’t work their scheduled work hours, no matter how legitimate the reason for absence or how much notice is given.

There is no vacation time. There’s no sick time even if it isn’t paid.

If you don’t show up for work, even if you call in, it’s a mark against you.

Because of this, I’m working Christmas and New Years. It also means that I will not be seeing my friends at the local renaissance festival and I will not be seeing family or friends on the high holidays.

This isn’t me complaining about it. Frankly, it doesn’t actually bother me most of the time. But it’s a statement of fact. I’m not there. This is why.

I can deal with the loneliness and the silence. I actually have a very good role model for functioning in society as a single person. (Hi Crandall! :D) It’s a gift for which I am constantly grateful. Every one of us deserves an example of someone who is both noble, gracious and a harbor for helping others even when they, themselves, have virtually nothing.

I am the new face of the welfare recipient, but right now I have an example I have sought for years.

Today for example, I plan to go to the movies alone. I will attend my community potluck dinner by myself.



Things are tough for me right now, but I’ll get past it.

I just have to make it through the next ten minutes.

I’m avoiding death by hiding in hell.

Nov. 19th, 2009

NeverWas and NeverWillBe



So lately Ariel has been much more cuddly than normal. She actually seeks out my lap and sleeps there. This is a big breakthrough for her.

I go out of my way to make my lap more appealing for her. I put down her favorite blanket. I position the phone and the remote control within reach so I don’t have to get up.

I try to be quiet while she sleeps but sometimes she talks to me. I know that my readership likes to hear the things my cats say.

So, last night Ariel told me this:

I know you aren’t a cat. And I know that I’m not a kitten. I know that my mother is long gone. And I know, even when I close my eyes, that the rise and fall of your chest is not the breathing of my mother.

I know. My brain is the size of a golf ball, but I’m not stupid. I know what’s real…. I have wishes for another life that I’m not having right now, even though the life I have right now is pretty doggone good.

So when I say these words, I want you to know that just because I want something I don’t have right now, it doesn’t mean that I’m not satisfied with the life I am currently living. I don’t love you any less. I don’t love someone else more. I’m not planning on leaving this life for another. I’m alive and living and part of my very real existence includes the presence of history and the land of NeverWas and its sister city, NeverWillBe.

I think that mankind is so hyper focused that they cannot include subsets of loving relationships beyond one specific grouping.

I think it limits them and binds them to a future that is devoid of the full spectrum of love.

Is there a choice when you are chained to it?

You, Katy, cannot call yourself an orphan to mankind. I think you are probably the most adoptable person to ever live. Your family expands and contracts and the bridges you build span cultures and planets. I understand how you feel lonely, but it isn’t because you are alone.

And when I listen to you, I think it’s funny because you foster a united community of common sense, while harboring a small nation of neurosis.

So when I say these words to you, understand that I don’t need you to be perfect to love you. I don’t want a constant cleverness or incessant brilliance. I don’t need you to be a specific body type, or a specific species. You don’t have to remind me of my mother, or be outgoing like my father.

Our relationship makes us better people because we are not defined by the parameters of our coexistence.

On the contrary, it’s just the opposite: The relationship between us strengthens us to build relationships with others and thereby fortifying each other.

What if mankind could redefine their lifelong commitments from a simple relationship between two people, and extended it to include an entire web of people?

I mean, is paternity so important now that queens feed their own colonies?

Have you ever noticed that there is never a rat infestation in the presence of a cat colony?

There aren’t any snakes, either. Or moths. Or stupid little spiders… or hamsters! Ever noticed how there are no WILD HAMSTERS? It’s because they are so tasty! Who can resist a teddybear hamster? They are both cute AND delicio---!

I guess what I’m really trying to tell you, Katy, is that cats do not conquer. Cat’s submit.

Birds have a pecking order. And Dogs fight for pack leader.




But, you don’t have to be stronger, prettier, or smarter to be a well wanted member of a clowder.

I know you aren’t a cat. I know that I’m not a kitten.

But you can be more if you want to be.

Nov. 12th, 2009

Courage: The secret soup

“It is only necessary to have courage, for strength without self-confidence is useless– G Cassanova





I have a favorite trunk restoration website.

In researching all of the trunk restoration techniques and websites, this one site has risen above all others. It isn’t so much because I think they have the market cornered on antique

restoration. It’s more because I read their words, and I know they understand the thing I’m trying to create.

The guys at Brettuns Village are highly opinionated, and I find their coarse discourse refreshingly bold.

They say things like “An important note - tung oil dries harder than varnish or polyurethane - it DOES NOT remain oily and anyone who tells you it does needs to stop eating those mushrooms that grow out of the goat poop. We use tung oil because that's what trunk makers in the 1800s used. It works. Jack.”

In one section they actually show a heartbreaking picture of an antique trunk that has been spray painted white, much like my trunk was. Above and below are the words:
“It's your trunk, so finish it the way you want it. Paint it to match the couch or the cat; it's up to you. Invite your friends over and have a spray paint party. Paint can really change the look of your masterpiece, Leonardo.”

And the first time I read those words, I knew I had connected with a master who understood my masterpiece. He’s more of a Machiavelli than a Da Vinci.

So last night, I dug up the nerve and wrote the guys a letter. It said, “Can I use Formby’s Tung Oil instead of the Secret Soup? Can I use the secret soup described on your webpage to protect steel from rust?”

And less than eight hours later I got a reply:

“You're on the right track - you don't need to add mineral spirits if you use Formby's tung oil - but we usually thin it down a little anyway - it just helps it dry faster if you put some mineral spirits with it. Yes, brush this on the metal, wood, canvas, leather - everything. Keep an eye on it for an hour or so - just check it every so often and wipe off the drips with a clean rag.”
And I felt an elevation. Some great confidence built in my hands and I knew in muscle memory all the things my parents ever taught me about restoring the lost.

Restoring an antique is the same as starting over with anything else.






Inventory.

Destroy.

Repair.

Rebuild.

Restore.

(The Hindus actually have specific gods for each of these processes. Progressive lot!)

Inventory begets fear.

Destruction begets loss.

Repair begets regret.

Rebuilding begets sorrow.

Restoration begets hope.

Every major religion deals with these fundamental concepts because they are the building blocks of getting up in the morning.

If any of those parts break down you never get to the happy-ending-hope part. You don’t get out of bed.



There is no hope without suffering and you cannot suffer without courage.

Your friends are the people who help with the getting out of bed.

No one cares how strong you are. Strength without confidence is useless.

You don’t have to be a Da Vinci. You don’t have to be brilliant.

What other people want of you is all the courage that they don’t have.

They want you to be Cassanova.

Useful Links:

My favorite Trunk Restoration site:
http://www.brettunsvillage.com/trunks/howto/finish.html

Cat story: Ozma tells about the origin of Cats and Dogs





When Anubis and Bastet divided the world between the underworld and the overlords, we were all rabbits.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but if you could cross a dog with a cat, you’d get a rabbit.

And that’s where we all began.

We were vicious vegetarians. We had very big ears and lived underground in clans.

Long ago, before we were cats the only pet known to mankind were rabbits.

And the rabbits, just like they are now, were very prolific.

Bastet and Anubis gazed out upon the continents and saw the destruction of over population and decided to recreate the rabbits so that they could be better companion animals to mankind.
They’d redesign the rabbit so that it would be tastier and therefore a better food source.





So, they made the rabbit sleep a deep sleep and divided it in two.

The angry part with the long ears became the dog. It would hunt the creatures of the earth.

The other end, the shrewd more feminine side became the cat. It would hunt the creatures of the water and air.

Both would eat the woodland grasses.

The competitive nature of dogs made it a natural companion for mankind. Just like man, dogs never forget anything. Their first kiss. Their first choke collar. Every automobile encounter. Every encounter with the opposite gender. The vet – Every time. Dogs, can’t forget.

Cats, on the other hand were more focused on the right now and therefore much less dependent.

Like Anubis, dogs were quick to become beloved by mankind. The dog offered men hope and happiness. It filled the empty hours with devotion and adoration both for the man and the hound.

Cats became the companion of gods. To have a cat in your midst was to be in the presence of an actual god.




It remains a common confusion to think that the Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats as gods. That’s actually a misconception. The Egyptians did not worship cats. They worshiped the gods that were always in their midst.

Just as man had dogs, gods had cats.

To have a cat, meant that the god was always near and that god did the same things for the cat as the dog did for man.

The god fought their battles, protected their young, brought them food, and comforted them in loss and loneliness.

If you think about it very carefully, you’ll see how it actually all works together.

Nov. 11th, 2009

The Prosthetic Heart

I was lying on the couch last night, and decompressing from an oh-so-high-pressure day.

I was reading a 27 page booklet published in 1968 for trunk restorers. Three books in One: How to restore, repair and redecorate an antique trunk. It had a catalog stapled into the front of it: Each item with 1968 prices for the replacement parts of antiquated luggage.




There was nothing of grave importance in it. All of the information within was documented in far greater detail on the Internet. But there was something special about the book. I loved the FEEL of it in my hands. It was like a physical experience to be checked out of the most public of places.

The book came to me from the Louisiana State University Library through the interlibrary loan program. I’ve started traveling vicariously through the library. Sometimes I try to check out books from exotic places just to see the words printed on the inside cover.

This book has been to very special places and brought to me through a government outreach program.

Bring the world to me for free! Explain to me the mysteries of the Earth. I want to know how to restore an antique. I want to understand how to restart my life! I want to understand the difference between cats and dogs!

So, I was channeling 1968 with really old paper and cardboard bindings when Ariel approached the couch and sat on the side looking at me.

“Is it okay if I sit with you?” She said.

“I’m kind of taking up the whole couch here, honey.”



“I know. I like that blanket. It smells like mamma cats and it kneads well.” She said, calculating the exact path from the arm rest to the most comfortable spot on top of me. “I-I want to sit on you. Um. I want to b-tend that you are the mamma cat and I am … still me. Please? May I?”

“Ariel, of course you can! I like it when you lay on me. “ I looked back to my book trying to afford her a modicum of privacy.


So, very carefully, so as not to claw my legs, she crawled down my legs and needed the cleft in my lap before settling in. She stared at the cream colored afghan as she kneaded it, concentrating. And then she muttered these words “There is no place better on this earth, than the place where in I lay now. Hasten unto me my mother. Protect me, my father. Bastet bring blessings upon my far flung family both here and throughout the world”

I looked up from my book and said, “What is that you are saying, Ariel?”

She settled into my lap after turning around a couple of times. She blinked her eyes with loving gratitude and said, “When a cat kneads before lying down, they whisper these words to honor their ancestors and sanctify the nest that they create. Since cats are naturally divine creatures, we must make the places where we reside holy.”



“You just blessed me?”

“Actually, Bastet blessed you, but um. Yeah.”

I pondered words before turning back to my book. I bypassed the black and white pages with pictures of tools on them.

Chisel.

Nippers.

Heavy duty nippers.

Claw Hammer.

Screwdriver.

File.


No, really, the book actually had botanical-like images of hand tools!

I presume the audience intended by the book, were people who knew nothing about using tools to restore an antique. ::Sigh:: Lameness!

She slept and I read. The phone rang and I talked to a friend very quietly while she slept in my lap. “I can’t talk any louder than this.” I explained. “My cat is sleeping in my lap and I don’t want her to move away.”

When the call ended, I watched Law & Order and petted Ariel because I realized that I just wanted to bring her more happy than she already had.

When it became too much for her, her tail would twitch and I would stop. When her tail stopped, I’d start petting her again.

Eventually, her tail was twitching even when I wasn’t petting her and she started grooming herself.

“Why can’t you do this when my friends are here?” I asked.

“I don’t know those people.” She observed.

“But why can’t you trust them because I do?”

She looked at me incredulously and said, “There is something for you to learn here. Pay very close attention oh Vox Humana.”

My brain went offline for a moment. My cat knows BAD LATIN? And then I came back.



“Listen to me, Katy-lou. I’m going to give you the very crux of cats. These are the words to which we all must abide. You’d be wise to follow our example.”

I petted her again and she stood up in my lap.

“Listen!” She said looking very intently at me.

“I’m listening.” I said childishly.

“Be the flame. Not the moth.”

Then she jumped to the floor and dashed passed Kali to cuddle into my bed with Ozma.

Suddenly, I lost interest in the book and the re-runs and the phone.

I understand, now, the difference between cats and dogs.

I understand how to restart my life.

I understand how to restore an antique.

Nov. 5th, 2009

DEAF NOT LAME




MY NAME IS OZMA. I AM AN ALL WHITE CAT. I HAVE ONE BLUE EYE AND ONE GREEN EYE.

I’M THE BIGGEST ONE OF KATY’S KITTYS. I WEIGH A LOT MORE THAN UM… EVERYONE.

EVERY CAT HAS A TALENT AND MINE IS SLEEPING!

I CAN SLEEP BETTER THAN ANYONE! NOTHING STOPS ME!

ASK ME WHY!


NO. ASK ME.

YOU HAVE TO ASK ME WHY.

::sigh:: Fine!

I’M THE BEST SLEEPER BECAUSE I CAN’T HEAR ANYTHING! ITS MY SUPER POWER!



LIKE, IF I WERE ON X-FILES, MULDER COULD COUNT ON ME ‘CAUSE I COULD SAVE HIM FROM THE HIGH PITCHED WAILING MONSTER!

GLASS BREAKS WHEN ASSAULTED BY A SPECIFIC PITCH, BUT I DON’T!

AND THOSE SIRENS THAT SUMMON SAILORS TO THEIR DEATHS…. YEAH, THEY CAN PET MY FURRY WHITE BUTT!

I AM THE FIRST CAT.

I EAT FIRST. I GET COMBED FIRST. I’M THE FIRST TO NOTICE RATS IN THE CEILING.

I COULD BE ON RESCUE INK AND SAVE OTHER LESS FORTUNATE PETS BUT UM… I AM MORALLY OPPOSED TO TATOOS.

I’M MORE OF THE PEIRCING’S TYPE, ACTUALLY! I’M PRETTY GOOD AT THE POKEY-HOLES-IN-THINGS.

I HAVE MY OWN TOOLS.






C’MERE! I CAN SHOW YOU! CLOSER! CLOSER! I CAN’T SHOW YOU IF YOU ARE OUT OF PAWS REACH!

::sigh:: It’s OKAY. I UNDERSTAND ABOUT MICE AND MEN.

TRUST ME WHEN I SAY THIS… YOU ARE RIGHT TO BE AFRAID.

IT’S OKAY IF YOU CAN SNEAK UP ON ME.

IN FACT, WHY DON’T YOU TRY THAT RIGHT NOW?

NO?

ARE YOU SURE?

I MEAN, I’LL GIVE YOU A HEADSTART AND EVERYTHING!

I MAY BE DEAF, BUT I’M NOT LAME!

Nov. 4th, 2009

A Mousie in Every Paw

M-My name is Ariel.

I am a cat.

I’m not very big but I am fluffy. I don’t make a lot of noise but of Katy’s three cats, I am the most exclusive, elusive and I’m pretty smart.

I learn things from other cats. Like, I can open doors.





I used to live with my friend Tomcat Edison. He was the smartest cat ever! He could open cabinet doors and taught me how.

I have added to the skill by advancing onto drawers and doors with latches.

Because of this, Katy has to lock all the doors that lead to places I should not go…. Like the store or Las Vegas or… sometimes, MMA prize fights fought by basset hounds.

Hey! Don’t make that face! I’ve seen what happens when the front door opens! MMA basset hounds! It’s there! Seriously!

My translation is bad and I am not sure about spelling. Let’s hope that Microsoft Word catches in my favor that which it usually misses.

I don’t sleep in the bed with Katy, Kali and Ozma. I watch the door and when Katy wakes up I greet her to the new day with my fluffy tail.

Katy has been working very hard on the trunk. She painted the whole thing this lovely deep bluish black. (It was the color of a bruise.) And then it all peeled off because it was the wrong kind of paint for painting steel. She had to sand the whole thing down for a second time this week.





Now its sitting in the living room all naked again. It’s rusting and Katy doesn’t have the means to buy it fur to keep it from over exposure.

It doesn’t grow. It just falls apart in front of us. It’s like it just wants to curl up in a closet and wait for the grim reaper of Victorian trunks.

And Katy is trying to save it. She talks to it and tells it that we can find it a new purpose and it can be reborn into a new life. “The wrinkles, bumps and dimples are good things.” She says to it. “We can remove the rust and preserve the wood."

But then she doesn’t have the spit to groom it.

I’m glad she’s doing this for a trunk and not another orphan kitty. Kitty’s with rotting wood are bad.

Thinks are kind of tough in our house.




Katy’s unemployement upsets her terribly. She thinks that Bastet has abandoned her.

Katy puts on the brave face but I know a pretender when I see one: Even the MMA basset kind.

Ozma and Kali have petitioned before their feline goddesses but Katy does not see the help they send.

Maybe she’s just too upset to feel the comfort.

We have kitty litter. Rent is paid for this month. We have the good cat food and the electricity is still on.

Julia brought us tuna and food for Katy. Katy gave us the tuna when we ran out of catfood earlier this week.

It was horrible!

The food dish was EMPTY! I could see the bottom of the food dish!

And there was no reserve of cat food!

IT WAS ALL GONE!

And all the doors that lead to Las Vegas were locked! How were we going to get out? I can see the birds but I can’t get to ‘em!

WE ARE ALL GOIND TO DIE@!



I was going to make Kali and Ozma draw straws to see which one of them we would kittybalize. But then I thought about coughing up the hairball in Ozma’s shape and decided against it.

Then, Katy put out the tuna with the yummy tuna juice and we were okay until she went to PetSmart and bought catfood with the money she hid in her passport last year.

“Isn’t that the money you were saving for an emergency?” I said.

“Ariel,” She said all stoneyfaced, “This *IS* an emergency.”

She gets it.

There are people in the world who do not have pets because they feel that they could not be responsible for it if something bad happened.

Maybe they travel too much.

Maybe they think that trading up houses means trading up pets.

Maybe they just don’t want the trouble of it.

But what they don’t see is that we, as pets, have the same challenges. We can trade up owners and houses. We can leave if we want to.

We aren’t dependants. We don’t take away. We don’t “use.”

We build. We contribute. We work. We share.

Being pets limits our abilities to do these things. We have to deal with closed doors. We have to deal with latches and MMA bassets and that stupid little barky dog downstairs.

My empty food dish is your empty food dish too.

Open the door. I have marketable skills. I’ll hunt. You gather!

I can fix this!

A mousie in every paw!

Oct. 29th, 2009

Empty Hell



Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I’m not sure if it was because the room was simply too hot, or if the stressors of my all too real life were getting all too close.

In the end, I found myself staring at the ceiling and feeling oh so alone.

I miss the sound of someone else breathing. I like to listen to other people snoring.

I can deal with the weightlessness of alone-ness, but living alone means an empty house, and vast silences.

I know people who have never lived alone.

I know people who have never slept alone.

I know that there are entire continents of unwashed masses, who don’t actually care that they are unwashed and they share – everything.



Beds. Bowls and never mind bathrooms!

Privacy is the luxury of the wealthy, but all of us drink from the well of complication.

Simplicity left us when the cells divided for the first time. Think about it. What if the devil really is in the details?

What if the fall of Man and his subsequent corruption, is found in the curse of his complexity? What if the actual punishment of us all, is that we suffer the burden of confusion?


Ozma told me a story last night about Anubis and Bastet because I was pondering my vast empties a little too much.


Maybe I’ll share it with you after I’ve slept.

Oct. 27th, 2009

confession of a broken heart.

I think that maybe my masochistic limits are being tested.

My heart is breaking and I worry that somehow my cats will figure out that I lost my job and now their lives will change.

oh my god.

How could I lose my job when I helped so many people do so many good things?

I want my job back.

I want my life back.

I don't want to hurt anymore, and I don't want my cats to ever know how close we are to losing it all.

Oct. 26th, 2009

Why Cats Have One Life: Part Two

Ozma continued the story last night by saying:

So, some of those long living cats with their whole nine lives went before the goddess, Bastet and asked for her help.



“We are lonely.” They told her. “Our lives are long and filled with excitement but what use is living for so long if it is a meager existence? Many of us prefer death over years and years of emptiness. Please tell us the secret of hope.”

Bastet is the great cat godess for a reason. Even the humans worshiped her and eventually, they worshiped us by proximaty.

For a long time, Bastet did not answer her feline children and because of her silence, millions of large cats fell prey, on purpose, to other animals. They threw themselves into the jaws of beasts. They ate food that they knew was bad. They could not bear to live without hope.

And again, the cats went before Bastet and said, “Turn your whiskers to us, oh goddess of us all, and give us the prey that we cannot trap. Give us hope.”

This time, Bastet turned her face to them but still she did not say anything.

In the deafening silence, millions of cats threw themselves into the void. Fires. Witches. The dark ages.


In so doing, the length of life of cats shortened but still… the existence was filled with sorrow.

Finally, one day, a kitten, found Bastet and said these words.

“What must cats do to have hope in the years they have to live?”

Bastet cornered the kitten in her great magnificent paws like we trap mice.


The kitten was very afraid and was certain that his short life would come to an early end because he was too stupid not to anger a goddess.

But Bastet, the goddess, was also Bastet the feline queen. Her heart softened to the orphan child and thusly she found the words to speak.

“Cats, my baby, “she said, “feel the hopelessness, because they are lonely.



Even if they live in colonies,

And groom each other.

Even if they share the kills from the hunt and sleep in kindles.

Even if they go against their nature and eat only plants…

They will never have hope because they feel alone.”

“So would we want to live in such emptiness? Why do we live at all? Oh great mother, what does Anubis the Jackal know about living that Bastet does not?”

One more time, Bastet did not answer the question. Instead she groomed the kitten and as she licked him, eight of his nine lives went away. Then she cleaned his ears and as she did so, she put in his brain trust and the hope of trust.

Then she let the kitten go.

The kitten was far less ferocious than the other cats. He didn’t hunt like his siblings and when he grew up he wasn’t angry. His nature was sweet and his heart was warm.

Bastet’s son went into the valley where men lived and befriended the daughter of a pyramid mason.

At first, he only visted the mason’s daughter, but eventually, he lived in her house and slept in her bed.

Much like we are doing now.

“Are you awake Ariel?” Ozma asked.

Ariel didn’t answer but Kali did. “Tomorrow would you please tell us the story about Anubis and Bastet?”

If I can remember it, I probably will.

Previous 10