writing for fun Feed

More Native American Literature Please

I am a white woman (except for the tiny bit of Native blood from a grandmother generations ago), and I am a product of my unearned privilege that constantly collides with my bad decision making skills, but I passionately teach and read American Indian literature and scholarship as often as possible. I also enjoy writing from that perspective even though I am not a "real" native. I grew up in Oklahoma, near Anadarko, with admiration and love for the tribal people and their intense and beautiful contribution to the world, so I hope my little short story doesn't insult anyone or cause anyone to think I'm trying to take anything away. I only want to add something, a bit of what it's like to live on the fringes of such a lively and complex network of tribes and people as a neighbor and sometime participant of their complicated world. The short story below is fiction.

Hey-cheeky-and-curious-west-highland-white-terrier-2023-11-27-05-12-45-utc

Something about Jax

    Taking long walks is an American Indian tradition. Our home, a typical bungalow, stood on A Street in Anadarko, Oklahoma, and from that place we plotted new adventures miles from town, sometimes just to buy a big can of beer and a pack of cigarettes. It was the summer of my eighteenth year, and we drank and fished on the banks of the Washita River. As boredom settled in, and the fish refused to bite, we decided to try our luck further downstream but no path existed along the heavily wooded bank. We entered the middle of the current around the edge of an abandoned car with only moonlight as a guide; the blood red waters of the Washita swirled up into our clothes weighing us down as we lurched ahead into the gloom.

    We carried our beer in a heavy cooler and our fishing rods and bait in the other hand. Laughing, we stumbled into holes in the river's bottom and sometimes the water would swirl up around our necks. Not exactly in tune with the native rules pertaining to the natural world, townspeople would dump tires, old cars, appliances, and trash of every description into the murky waters of the Washita; the snakes would slip by silently rippling the surface, and I looked away; I had no shoes.

A Day of Prayer

    Sitting on the steps of my grandmother's house near the small town of Apache, I laced the moccasins she gave me. The leather felt soft, with fringe tied with beads of yellow, crimson, and orange. The morning felt cool, and the clouds were few, with birds singing and flying all around Jax and me. Jax loved to walk, and he wagged his short little white tail in anticipation. I thought of the donation box carved from sacred wood mounted on a red rock in front of the little Church of the Wichitas; the walk would take several hours.

    My feet hit the dry, red, Oklahoma earth, and the wispy puffs of dust swirled around my ankles and straight into my little dog's eyes as he trailed behind me. He decided to trot ahead, and as I watched him, I thought of all of the pain he helped me process. At midmorning, we rested along the banks of a small stream, and we drank from a clean pool inside a sandbar created from the artful current. Jax splayed into the mud playfully, spread eagle, and panted from the afternoon heat. I studied his face for his doggy smile, but he only looked stressed instead. I looked away.

    The sky forsake its brilliant blue and replaced it with a white hot dome of indifference. Jax fell behind and waited for me to carry him. So many walkers had traveled the path to the sacred mountain circle their footsteps were worn into the red rock hillside; up we went into the hot afternoon with the crows mocking us from the placid sky. I felt my grandmother's strong hand guiding me into the shady path under the blackjack trees, and I felt loved. Jax seemed to fall further behind, but when I turned around to look at him, he would greet me with a brave wag of his little tail.

    Finally, we passed by the donation box, and Jax stopped in its meager shade and stretched out. I could feel my great grandmother urging me along, so I went into the vestibule and prayed for the well-being and safety for all of those who traveled within our world. I understood my place in a strange mingling of ancient native tradition and white colonialism; a feeling of sadness overwhelmed me. My own physiology, the blood in my veins, is an echo to the confusion of this sacred place.

    After my prayers and time of solitude, I went back to the wooden donation box where the tourists put their little envelopes with checks, and I found Jax dead in its shadow. My heart broke for my simple-minded little dog that loved me so much. I had walked him to death in the hot Oklahoma sun. His loyalty to me never wavered; he was my friend, something I could never replace. I knelt beside him sobbing, and I waited for peace. An owl called out to me from the woods as evening approached. I pulled Jax against me and cuddled him under the stars. Together we listened to the night and waited for grandmother's wisdom to guide us into the future. I wish Jax was still on the path to the sacred circle. I wish he hadn't been called away. I felt alone.

 

 

 

 

 


Bad Writing in Modern English

I teach my students George Orwell's classic essay Politics and the English Language because he attacks lousy, pretentious prose with comedic indirect satire that is largely dead in modern writing. The writing of today typically dips into sarcasm, an easy below the belt tactic that contributes to the death of civil discourse in professional life. No manager or supervisor should confuse poorly toned writing for professionalism or leadership. Typing out a poorly constructed directive in all caps and sending it out to team members at an inopportune time illuminates nothing in the workplace except the sender's lack of expertise. Poorly timed, poorly toned messages disappoint dedicated people and destroy emerging relationships.

One year during the pandemic on Thanksgiving day, I sat across an old friend in a dilapidated easy chair, and while watching television, the email on my phone dinged. A smart person might have ignored the dinging, but it was Thanksgiving day. I assumed an emergency happened at my work, maybe to a fellow colleague. Instead, this message asked me to verify someone's classroom attendance. This kind of thing can't be fixed during a holiday break. It is the sort of message that scheduled for a Monday morning delivery, might have been more digestible. All writers and professionals should know that the timing of your message is almost as important as the tone and content.

I love the way Orwell addresses the issue with tacked on phraseology. Right now I have a 'hen house' phrase that I am sick and tired of hearing: "That being said."

Anywhere you go, in any setting, you will hear or read some pretentious attempt at professionalism, but the aforementioned phrase above reduces whatever the writer or speaker is trying to say into a pile of meaningless rubble. Orwell, if he were here beside me today, would likely wish he was back in India working as a cop again rather than listen to the lousy prose present in 21st century mass media. He lists out "operator, or verbal false limbs" in his characteristic indirect satirical style without mercy or embellishment. Phrases such as, with respect to, the fact that, in the interests of, with respect to, and so on, exemplify what he means by "tacked on phrases" that convey nothing to an audience.

Many times my students try to write with pretentious diction. Sometimes the results are funny and charming, but overall this kind of writing will not assist the student in any academic or business venture. And people posing as professionals ought to write clearly and with empathy, timing messages with care, rather than trying to dictate to others as if they exist on a royal pedestal when, clearly, in today's society, anyone is replaceable.

Orwell1984

 


Writing on the Super Note A5X

I made a major mistake last year when I bought the Super Note A6X because the screen is not quite big enough for serious writing and thinking. Last month I chanced upon an opportunity to buy the A5X open box, which meant that I could somewhat afford to invest again. Now I am unsure of what to do with my A6X, but I might give it to my son to write his music on and make drawings of his projects. 

Now that I have the A5X, I am totally in love with the way it works. It is the size of a piece of paper without margins...it's wonderful. I downloaded my teacher planning portfolio onto it, and I also geared it up with a bullet journal, which I am using to record personal plans and activities. I created another folder to write in for random thoughts and content ideas. The teacher planning kit and the bullet journal are both Etsy purchases from a guy named Brendan, and I couldn't be happier. I had a download issue, and Brendan responded within the hour with the solution even though the problem was not related to his product. Now I don't know what to do with the tons of notebooks and planners that I have at home that now seem so juvenile and wasteful, but I don't want to throw them away because they are full of writing ideas, especially from all of those boring meetings and useless trainings that I've had to endure over the years. While other people are trying to get me to work in an uncomfortable and awkward situation, my thoughts wander off in compelling ways, often forking over into banality and sometimes forking over into comedy. You just can't put a value on observations like that--they are priceless. 

IMG_2893

If you feel serious about writing and you want the freedom to create content on a luxury device that is more intriguing than a paper notebook, splurge on the A5X. If you feel as if you want to write occasionally, and you aren't super serious about your output, just do the A6X Super Note. It will fit in a bag or in the palm of your hand like a greeting card. You will love both of them for different reasons. You will especially love the feel of the device, the way it writes. And it does come loaded down with an array of templates that you can use to create wonderful pages and documents. 

SuperNote Link


My Long and Weird Relationship with Greek Salad

Members of my family used to give me ride alongs in their big trucks down to the Houston Ship Channel to dump massive loads of grain for export. A skinny and long-legged preteen, my biggest joy was to wake up with the seagulls and step out into the gravel-like oyster covered parking lot and go into the cool air conditioned ambience of this one particular Greek restaurant on Clinton Drive. I never knew what entree to order, but I'd always start with the salad, fresh and cheesy, cold, vinegar based, with tons of olives and cucumber.

I remember eating my salad with some kind of fish, and I'd drink glasses of iced tea, and then force whatever family member it happened to be to splurge on coffee and Greek pastries. The place is long gone; the building stands empty; but the decor will live forever in my memory. Painted statues of Greek goddesses, topless, with scenes of the Mediterranean behind them guided you through a maze of columns covered in ivy to the main dining hall where rows of tables dressed in white linen and Greek inspired flower arrangements provided luxury in a neighborhood of trucks, ships, longshoremen, and an assortment of other working people, both good and bad. I continued to visit this restaurant into my adulthood, when in the late 80s it suddenly closed.

After I moved to Saskatchewan in the 90s, I found another wonderful Greek restaurant. It was inside of a mall, and what it lacked in decor it made up for with cheesy and hot delicious food, fabulous intricate desserts, and, of course, the staple of my life--Greek salad. The people that owned this place catered a dinner for me, and if I wanted to meet someone in that end of town, I would always ask to meet in my special place knowing I could always count on a table and be treated to a first class experience.

Now, everywhere on every corner, a Greek restaurant awaits. I could choose from at least half a dozen within a few miles of my Houston home, but I often attend the same one, a chain store offering both Greek and Turkish cuisine that in some ways perfectly overlap in flavor and texture. I am okay with their kabobs and pistachio covered desserts, the array of hot vegetables and the pita bread. But, for various reasons, the Greek salad comes out limp, without a fresh and crunchy texture, so I have to eat that in another place down the road. Now that I am an old lady and completely deserving of something special, I can't have my salad with my fish. But I'm not complaining. I am happy with my memories of my Greek places. I love them.

IMG_2501

 

 


Living in the Village During the Summer Record Heat and Drought: Characters in Crisis

Months into a record breaking heatwave and drought, the drunken sots behind me run a lawn sprinkler morning and evening; I suspect because neither one of them are employed or employable, so I think they sit there in the misty rainbow hoping they don't have to cool the house. The water runs down the street 100 feet around the corner to a parking area and ponds on the hard pavement. The water puddles around day and night, the only water that is wasted in the entire community, but nothing is done about it even though we are asked by the county officials to save water, even though we have elderly people living in our community on a fixed income, even though none of us have a water meter because the community water bill is shared by all and comes out of our monthly HOA fees. The drunken sots are renters, so they don't care.

Someone threw a bunch of bricks and other trash into the storm drain 40 feet from my front door, maybe the same guy that runs a chop-shop-style-fix-it-up place out of his residential garage 60 feet from my front door, forcing all of us to endure the noise, the unsightly scene, and the assortment of junk cars that rumble in and out. I wonder if when he goes to dump the chemicals, oils, paint thinners, and compounds if the clown in the storm drain issues him a receipt. 

When I walk around the bayou, I see the beauty. I wonder how a man, a stooge really, could be so indifferent to our natural world, after all we have been through: Harvey, heatwaves, Memorial Day flood, tax day flood, Ike, and so on. We already endure smog and chemical fires, noise, and traffic beyond belief. How can a grown man trash our little get-away village?

We live around an assortment of mentally ill gossip types, but one stand out case is the broad that walks around here with a hat on her head straight out of the Handmaid's Tale. She definitely puts the P in superficial because she lives in this pretend type world were popularity means something, as if she is still in high school, and lies and innuendo are a weapon of power and prestige. She will run up to another resident and go off about how much someone else is disliked and hated, as if that is what makes her feel in touch with her humanity, the deprivation of someone else's reputation or likability. 

But on these hot summer nights, as the water seeps down the road into people's driveways and under the tires of their cars, a few positives remain. A menagerie of honestly good people still live here: the board president unafraid of taking on a difficult hands-on task; the retired teacher that fussed enough to get us a streetlight; my neat-as-a-pin neighbor with the beautiful life on the seas, constantly sailing and sailing; the man across the way battling a vicious illness but working long hard hours; the fellow dog walkers; the elders on fixed incomes watching the water evaporate into nothingness; and the handsome young men with their wonderful wives and girlfriends. 

Maybe, when the next bill comes, the water will finally be turned off.

IMG_1220


A Bee Story (Not My Own) 🐝 Random Musings (Not Mine Either, But I Do Agree) 🌤 Crazy Cat Lady 📚

Sunday, time to reflect on the things that make your life worth living. I don't know what floats your boat, but I am happy to see bees in my garden. There is clover growing in sunny spots in the yard and the bees are visiting there. But what makes me especially happy is to see the sweet, little visitors sipping from a bowl of water that I provided for them to hydrate.
I learned from FB friends that along with planting bee-friendly flowers and clover you should provide drinking water. The bee friends recommended using a small bowl. I filled ours up with pretty things, for us humans to enjoy, but which provided a safe place for bees to land upon. For there, the bees can safely drink the water and not drown.
I took a bowl, thrown by one of Lee's former students, that we had previously used for smudging, and I filled it with colorful marbles, rose rocks, tiger eye, and a hag's stone. What is wonderful about the hag's stone is that they are deemed to hold powers of protection, which can be invoked against all forms of negativity. This particular stone--I can't remember where it came from-- has two holes, one on each end of the rock.
To my delight, when I was watering the flowers yesterday, I saw where thirsty bees actually stood upon the hag stone and sipped the water seeping into the holes. It is almost like the stones were designed for the bee's hydrating pleasure. Seeing the little creatures about is mine.

Random musing on a HOT May afternoon.
Damn it's hot!
It is really hot!
It is really very hot!
It is way too damn hot for this time of year.

The planet and peoples' tempers are boiling.
All the time, I see verbal dueling with pro-right-wing-freestyle--gun-toting fb NRA lovers. When anyone says, let's have us some commonsense gun control, then there is a great wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth followed by the thunderous rhetorical cry of , "but who else will stop a bad guy with a gun but a good guy with a gun. "
Now, in Buffalo, we see yet another needless tragedy involving innocents and a gun toting lunatic. A brave police officer did his best to put the assailant down, but, instead, he lies dead--a hero. He gave his life for others, but, to our horror, couldn't stop the carnage from being inflicted upon innocent shoppers.
Looks like, a good-guy-guard with a gun didn't have a chance against a racist, hate-filled guy with a bigger, more expensive gun and Kevlar and rantings that inflamed his brain.

Too bad, Americans can't pass laws that will keep her civilians safe, because there is profit in death to be made.
Pray for me, I'm an American and I'm going to go grocery shopping on an unseasonably hot afternoon in a trigger-happy state, with everyone carrying on cranky.
What could go wrong?

BeeKind


Henry David Thoreau and the Passing of Nature and Time

I'm tan. It's true. This is January, but I have a golden blush on my skin, and I'm worried.

Even though I live in a warm zone, I'm not supposed to look like I've been vacationing in Mexico, so my tan feels and looks unnatural to me. I don't mean Donald Trump orange, but I mean out of season, like wearing a floral boho dress in winter instead of plaid or muted colors. It's really worse than you think because I've been wearing shorts nearly every day for two weeks. Today was the first time I pulled on a warm sweater and leggings, the first time I've seen ice in my bird feeder, the first time I grabbed socks and not flip flops, the first time I made pumpkin spiced tea and pancakes. 

My little dogs quietly snooze on their new Christmas fuzzy blankets, all peaceful and warm. 

Henry David Thoreau, the poetic naturalist from the Transcendental movement, would certainly think a winter tan odd. And even though Transcendentalism faded away into the opulent glamour of the great Gilded Age, remnants of it hibernated within other more modern social and philosophical movements; and now, thanks to the pandemic, it seems reengineered into a full-blown revival.

Outside we go! Once again, elitist progressives become selfish of their leisure time, ponder and reflect on personal decisions and the meaning of life, reflect on brash behaviors, and attempt to make distance between the artificial and the natural. Elitist bigots, conservatives, and supremacists, engage in their own version of adverse Transcendentalism by "rolling coal" and "attempting a "coup d'etat." No matter what poison you ascribe to, conservative or progressive, Henry provides us all with a lesson on health and living well. He died at the age of forty-four of tuberculosis. As you know, tuberculosis continues to spread because no effective vaccine exists to eradicate it. Henry, from a young age, knew he was living with a disease that would end in suffering and death. He also knew his quality of life depended on him remaining physically active and out in the fresh air as much as possible. He appreciated the nurturing aspect of nature, and he accepted the cruel passage of time:

"In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, for there are more secrets in my trade than in most men's, and yet not voluntarily kept, but inseparable from its very nature. I would gladly tell all that I know about it, and never paint "No Admittance" on my gate" (from Walden Economy).

However you interpret Thoreau, whether you appreciate him for his anger over injustice and slavery, whether you appreciate him for his loyalty to his beliefs and his love of nature, or whether you read him for his complex syntax and artistic descriptions, he certainly becomes more relevant with each passing year. As we journey into the Anthropocene, as we ride our planet into unknown territory, Thoreau's writings return us to a time when nature seemed on the verge of becoming predictable and possibly controllable. Darwin published after Thoreau, even though Thoreau seemed to already be aware of natural selection. The idea that the laws of nature were incontrovertible, that we, egotistical little humans, could harness this power like a work horse pulling a plow, is what got us into this ridiculous mess. 

Instead of putting nature first, as the Transcendentalists attempted to do, we corrupted our own menagerie of systems. Not one natural system remains intact thanks to human activity. Until we accept our failure and begin to dramatically change our oppositional handling of nature, we will continue to get these winter tans. And, as you already know, unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, a winter tan is out of season.

Waldencabin

 

 


Professional Development: How Bard's Institute for Writing and Thinking is Helping Me on Day One

It is impossible for me to quantify the many various ways that Bard College IWT has helped me become a more effective teacher. In the past, I participated in three week-long summer workshops on their campus that guided my pedagogy and introduced me to a bevy of other teachers from around the world that shared their own best practices and innovations. Today we did several activities that will inform my future teaching, including a loop writing activity that I must admit that I have neglected to incorporate into my own classroom. 

The theme for this workshop is "margins" and "centers," a confusing concept for someone that might not teach. But for me this poses a true reality as I think about what exists in the margins of my classroom and what exists in the center. I decided to share, verbatim, a couple of excerpts from my loop writing from today because I want you to possibly use this technique to improve your own classroom or workspace.

My teacher asked us to write about what is in the center of our classroom. 

The students are at the center of my classroom because, of course, I am a student-centered teacher. I want every student in my class to feel valued and appreciated so that they can have enough self-esteem and confidence to forge ahead and become happy, productive members of society. The goal, in my case, is to make my students be able to yield power in nonviolent ways by using the pen instead of the sword. I think humanity is tired of the sword.

One of our team members attending from Israel had an interesting response to this question. He wrote that the text is the center of our classroom, the reason we meet at all. I think we both gave pretty good answers. A class needs cohesion, so this emphasis on fragmentation, lit circles if you will, interferes with advanced interpretation and significantly reduces the possibilities of creating a valuable community in a challenging environment. A shared text brings the class together.

My teacher asked us to write about what is on the margins of our classrooms.

I am on the margin of my classroom because this is my students' high school experience. Even though I advocate for them whenever possible, I want them to solve their own problems and be active learners. That can't happen if I don't step into the margins. I don't want my students constantly looking to me for the answers. I want them to take my guidance and then create their own compositions based on what they believe to be true about the text, or I want them to be able to use style and voice to explain what they like or dislike about the text. I want argumentation and persuasion, and that takes confidence.

We did several more loops today, and then we used a metacognitive strategy to analyze what we had written. 

The loops gave me a way to visualize the interplay between myself, the students, and the materials presented. This activity also enabled me to visualize strategies used by my workshop colleagues as we shared our writings. The loops served to fine tune my planning--helped me access those murky spaces in my pedagogy.

We analyzed a visual. I am sad to admit that this has always been an area that I ignore or only briefly examine. My teacher used a photo that had meaning to me personally. Of course, my teacher doesn't know me, so he couldn't have known that this visual would lead me into some interesting ideas...in short, this activity is going to help my students on their exams. This activity is going to help my students with inference, symbolism, and interpretation. 

The pandemic created a climate of confusion and distraction for almost everyone. Thanks to Bard, I am finally breaking out of my cycle of confusion and distraction that haunts me continuously and rediscovering my ability to get in the zone and write. 

SteinbeckQuote


Alone Like Usual: My Post-Quarantine Social Struggle

 

Maybe I shouldn’t try to equate my experience with that of the willfully isolated philosopher and writer, Henry David Thoreau, but lately I’ve been subjected to a person of similar qualities. As most Americans know, Thoreau spent most of his life roaming around the countryside writing and thinking. During his lifetime, his writing and thinking rituals interfered with his ability to support himself, so he depended on Ralph Waldo Emerson for not only friendship, but also for room and board. Emerson, a true intellectual in every regard, never held any moral influence over Thoreau. Emerson undoubtedly truly loved his friend, and that’s why we can all read Walden and learn something about Transcendentalism. Of course, my imaginary friend—I’m told all friends are ultimately imaginary—will always be an unnamed volunteer social outcast that could potentially become a meaningful member of society but prefers to sit atop a throne on a weedy hill and reflect angrily on all of humanity, except, for some remarkable and illogical reason, one insular and regressive geographical location consistently receives his high praise and adulation. 

As I engaged with my friend, I took an opportunity to reflect upon my own bend toward Thoreauness, and I realized that my propensity for exclusivity paralleled in some strange and mysterious ways. I, too, matching breath for breath, handily critiqued society in all its foibles and abuses, and I denounced particular power structures that all Americans must share: the networks of healthcare; the lack of public services during a crisis; and the predictability of bland and unintelligent politicians. To say that we have much in common is a severe understatement of the highest order. Together, we enjoyed lively conversations about our shared experiences, our phrases and clauses mingling together in old and familiar ways like experienced lovers tangled in the sheets during a fearless night of physical and habitual lust. But that is where the commonalities and the habits abruptly came to a pronounced and ultimately bitter end.

The quarantine is over, and apparently, so am I. The truth blitzed its way into my consciousness on a warm sunny afternoon several weeks ago when my friend cut me off due to an in depth conversation with some “people” residing in this pristine, and perfect, geographical location. Curious about how such an isolationist can become transformed by a disembodied voice over 1400 miles away, a basically useless—dead-pan—voice that does nothing except squint into the stars and argue ridiculous ideas contorting them into ridiculous positions, I decided the whole significant adventure would entail a sad, dismal, and rain-infused, conclusion. The renewed relationship, in all its strength and glory, with flags waving and amber grain growing, in the end became prolonged and unhealthy, whimpering its way into a premature death. Now we can all mourn the loss of its beauty and amazing potential, the manuscript incomplete, the novel left unpublished. 

This heartbreaking disaster, cruel and unjust, reminds me of something from Walden. In a discussion about “coats and breeches” Thoreau writes, “I have heard of a dog that barked at every stranger who approached his master’s premises with clothes on, but was easily quieted by a naked thief” (Economy 21). My friend, as you probably surmised, is a definite dog, leery of everything clothed in honesty but easily subjugated by the “naked thief.” All of this is extremely alarming because I know what fueled my outreach, and as much as I would like to have looked away from the disaster en route, I couldn’t. In the end, a quality life with truth and justice is dependent on our willingness to nurture each other with compassion and understanding. Naked thieves are not transcendental, nor do they share Emerson’s values and tolerance. Eventually, just as the nakedness suggests, the motives become obvious to everyone except the dog.

Loneliness


On this Last Day of Love Month, A Cat Story

I can't do my own writing anymore, especially after the angst and misery of Valentine's Day, and the month of love: the month of crazy, wild weather; the month of a near total Texas electricity blackout; the month of a broken service pipe; the month of extreme Covid swings; and another month of grief over the death of not one, but two, little, precious pets. 

On this weird night, on the eve of Women's History Month, I am thinking about writing an article that features an important female in the world of rhetoric, like Ida B. Wells, an African American writer, or maybe Christine de Pisan from the Medieval era. Women in the rhetorical tradition typically receive some pretty outdated criticisms, so I'd like to offset that with some strong opinions of my own.

How do women balance all of these silly expectations about communication? What's wrong with writing aggressively? Should I write like a girl so that men won't be offended? Should I defer to the male voice? Is civil discourse really that important, or is that just another term for oversensitivity? I was told recently that I talked too loud, but my response was that I thought I couldn't be heard. 

Is that what men think we are doing when we write an aggressive text? Do they think we are trying to yell? Is that what the good conservative woman thinks? 

Anyway, the cat story submitted by my writer friend contains a message about gratitude. I am grateful that my voice continues to matter to my readers and friends, even though I am an outdoor cat. I am grateful for all of you. I'm thankful that you don't find me too loud for trying to get your attention. I am hoping you will continue to support me through these weird times. 🌹

IthinkSiameseCat

To train the cat or be trained by the cat that is the question.... Whether it is better to take a shoe to the Siamese or squirt him with the water bottle, after his sixth attempt to get one up at 5:00 in the morning, when he has been howling at one's bedside since three, or just to give up and open a can of cat food and stagger off and wait for the alarm to go off in just a few minutes, or throw his hairy little bohuncas into the garage, where it is freezing cold but there are mice....? These run on sentences frame the eternal questions of cat owners, who've been struggling with their cat masters, since the Egyptians made the mistake of first letting the cat gods into their hearts and granaries, in order to kill the rodents eating the grain.....

If I am sleep deprived, do I not get cranky? If I am tortured, do I not break? Even now, that Siamese is stalking me, complaining that the canned cat food doesn't meet up with his expectations for good service.... If I am harassed, will I not fight back; or will I just give up, give in, and buy the cat some tastier brand.....?

The outside cat thinks the canned cat food is damned tasty! He just ate it up in one gulp.

I give up.....

Just who is running this household?

Jennie (the Crazy Cat Lady)


Pandemic Diversions: The Crazy Cat Lady Wins Again

Dear Readers, 

In this installment of my favorite cat lady tails, night animals collaborate to keep a human awake in the deep of the night. Something similar to the following story happened to me the night before last when I mistakenly left the doggie door open all night, and Bill ventured out and was unable to hoist his fat self back into the house. I stumbled out of bed and down the stairs to open the door for him because he was barking his head off, and then I tossed in bed all night thinking about my various lives: the struggling new personal life that means more to me than anything; the struggling work life that is causing me to experience different layers of burnout; the struggling financial life that whirls around the credit universe in a long series of minus signs; and, of course, the never-ending parental worries about my struggling musical artist that lives in a sort of artist camp with a bunch of other artist types. 

And of course, all of us are worried about Covid disease; I know we need to divert from this horror and weirdness as much as possible. The stories that independent writers produce are valuable in this regard because they provide moments of peace by temporarily moving us into a different realm free of disease and chaos while we safely wait out a viable solution for our return to normal life. Anyone currently suffering from Covid disease has our sympathy. I would like to introduce another such story from my favorite indie writer.

This story won a flash fiction prize, and, no, it is not mine.

Stranger in the Night

Leaving my parliament of night owls on their own recognizance—for some reason, a group of owls is not called a “congress”, but that is another story-- I hit the bed early, hoping to catch up on some much-needed rest. I toss. I turn. All goes blank. I must have fallen asleep because out of the blissful quiet, in the middle of the peaceful night, a teeny-tiny voice at the foot of my bed politely asks:

“Mew-myeow?”

“Go away,” I command. Refusing to obey the Siamese Tom, who clearly has a job for me to do, I settle back down to more peaceful slumbering. All is silent--even my inner monologue has fallen still, until:

“Mew-MEOW??”

“Go away. I am asleep!” I say, raising the amplitude of my voice to equal the insistence of his cattery demands.

This cat must be the reincarnation of the hideous, Dr. Mengele, who is obviously alive and well and conducting sleep deprivation experiments on me. I muse before I lapse into waiting for Cat- Mengele to rouse me again. His extreme patience pays off. Just after my breathing becomes regular and deep and I am nodding off, I hear:

“MEW-MEOW???”

This time the caterwauling falls right into my ear. Are those notes” D” followed by “F” in the key of C? Even if it is the middle of the night, I would know if I had perfect pitch! I may be a music lover but I have had enough.

“Get! Get! Get the hell out of here!” I roar, jumping out of the bed and chasing Siamese-Mengele out the bedroom door. Bam, the door slams. No need to fear waking the hoot owls, they never ever sleep.

I return to my bed and sweet repose until a laughing child’s voice inquires, “Are you okay?” “He was yodeling in my ear.”
“Dad says you were impressive!”
“You mean you could hear me?”

“We all heard you.”

Suddenly, I realize that my throat hurts. I yelled at the cat one full octave below my normal speaking voice. Damned cat! Now, I have throat nodules! My conscious collapses into a tiny purple painful asterick in the center of my skull, where it pounds relentlessly until I can no

longer lie still.

I glance at the alarm clock. The time is 2:30 A.M. I rise to find the hoot owls congregating over a bowl of salty snacks, dried mangoes, and assorted nuts. I guess, the cat was howling mad because he didn’t get his share!

“Where is Siamese-Mengele?” I inquire of the youngest owl. “Hiding under the table with PTSD,” the eldest owl growls.

I join the snacking parliament then return to bed. Suddenly, from next door comes the anguished howls of the abandoned Pit Bull, Ruger, who must have starred in Norman’s production of “Hounds of The Baskervilles”. Oh God, I whine. It has started again!

AdobeStock_241994199