Yeah, it’s a car

So I’ve got the new car.

People around me seem to expect me to feel excited. I’ve blogged and posted on Facebook complaints about the purchase process. I was nervous about buying a new car, and now that I have it I’m nervous about owning it.

Why don’t I feel excited? At this point in my life, it’s the most expensive purchase I’ve ever made. The new car has many features my old car doesn’t have. I kept my old car for 18 years, and I’ll try to keep this one at least that long, so it’s not as if I buy a new car every day. What’s not to be excited about?

To understand why I’m not excited, we have to set the WABAC machine to 1998. I’d just gotten a new car, the one that I’ve just set aside. I was excited about that new car, in part because the car prior to that was associated in my mind with an unpleasant memory (Winterstar 1994, for those who knew me back then). Here I was, with a brand-new mini-SUV, with more power and better styling than I had before.

Then Pepper got sick. Only my friends who’ve known me for more than 20 years will remember Pepper. She was my first cat. She bonded to me the first day we met. She loved me. She trusted me. She was more physically affectionate towards me than any other cat in my life. I would take her to the vet by wrapping her in a towel and holding her in my arms. She wasn’t happy about it, but she loved and trusted me that much.

On the last day of her life, I drove her to the vet to be put to sleep. I didn’t want the new car anymore. I wanted Pepper, and she was dying, paralyzed and in pain, and that new car didn’t and couldn’t help.

That car was a good, long-lasting, reliable vehicle that kept me safe for 18 years. At any point during that time, I’d’ve given it away if it would have brought Pepper back to me.

The day before Mist passed away, my father called me. He knew I was having problems with my car, and he offered to help me with the purchase. I burst into tears. I told him I couldn’t talk about it, not then. I didn’t say this to him, but I didn’t give a damn about a new car. I wanted Mist to be well again.

So here I am with a new car. Pepper and Mist are still gone. The new car is nice. It’s just that it’s not important to me compared to those I’ve loved and lost.

A child of Boo

I have to write this. This doesn’t mean you have to read it. Just skip it.

This is the story I told my cats from time to time.

Once upon a time, there was a little black kitten who was living homeless on the streets of Jersey City. A human, CJ, saw the kitten and gave her a home. She called the kitten Boo. CJ intended to get Boo spayed, but Boo was quite the precocious kitten. At six months old, she went into her first heat and broke out of CJ’s house. CJ’s boyfriend found Boo with a male on the front porch. He broke them up, but it was too late. A few weeks later Boo gave birth to four kittens.

There were three black kittens, and one gray one. There were three girls, and one boy. Even before they were born, I told CJ I would take in two kittens. Their names would be Shadow and Mist. After they were born, it was clear the gray girl would be Mist. I remember visiting CJ’s and seeing Boo with a mass of black fur feeding from mommy, with one gray puffball wriggling in an out of the pile. The black boy kitten liked to follow Mist around. It was clear that he was Shadow.

I took in Shadow and Mist. One kitten went to CJ’s upstairs neighbor, and was named Zaire. CJ named the remaining black girl kitten Peekaboo, after her mother Boo. CJ could not keep Boo and Peekaboo, and placed them in a shelter. When I heard about this, I felt bad. As I looked at my kittens, I could not bear the thought of their mother and sister languishing in a shelter. So I called CJ and told her that if Boo and Peekaboo had not been adopted yet, I would take them in. My place isn’t big enough for four cats, but I’d manage somehow. CJ checked with the shelter, and found that the mother-daughter pair of black kittens had been adopted within 24 hours after CJ placed them there.

So that’s how Boo and all the children of Boo found themselves in their forever homes. That’s why I call my cats “boo-boo-babies,” because their mother was Boo and their sister was Peekaboo.

I held my kittens in my arms and told them I would love them forever.

My cats rarely listened to the whole story. About half-way through they’d get bored and move off. They’d heard the story too many times already.

The gray child of Boo had her list of favorite things to do:

For years, she loved to jump onto the top drawer of my filing cabinet when it was open. Then she go through the area behind the drawer and curl up on the closed drawer below. CJ told me Mist got this habit from curling up in drawers underneath her bed at her place.

When I made the bed, Mist would rush to be tucked underneath the sheets as I wafted them over the mattress. This left a lump underneath the sheet, which I’d pet over and over again to “smooth out the lump.” She could always escape, even from underneath the fitted sheet.

When I took a bath, Mist would come up and drink the bathwater. When I stepped out of the shower, young Mist would climb up the towel when it was wrapped around my body to perch on my shoulder. Later in life, she’d simply Meow until I picked her up and put her there.

Toilet time was time to pet Mist. No exceptions.

Shadow was not always diligent about burying his waste in the litter box. Mist would finish the job for him.

When they were kittens, Mist would protect her brother. Whenever they were both scared, Mist would be on top of her brother, keeping him safe.

As they grew older, Shadow still liked Mist but she grew to dislike him. It started after they were both fixed. Shadow was a male enough cat that he still jumped Mist from time to time. Mist finally had enough and let him know that he was no longer welcome, ever.

Shadow is an aggressive cat, but Mist was always the Alpha cat of the household.

Neither Shadow nor Mist were physically affectionate. At least Mist allowed herself to be picked up and held and petted. She also occasionally slept on top of me in bed, at least for twenty minutes or so.

Mist was shy. She’d come out if there was only other person in the apartment besides me. If there were more than that, she’d stay in the bedroom. Many of my friends who’ve visited me have never seen Mist.

The life of my previous cat, Ginger, revolved around eating. I resolved not to repeat that mistake with Shadow and Mist. Their lives revolved around being petted. It was a little easier on me to begged every 15 minutes to be petted than to be begged every 15 minutes for a cat treat.

Both Shadow and Mist loved catnip. I also had a small planter of cat grass in the apartment, and Mist used that when her stomach felt queasy. Shadow never used it; he prefers to chew on the plastic fibers at the edge of the carpet.

Mist loved to chase the red laser dot. Shadow did too, but Mist was far more enthusiastic about it.

I taught Shadow and Mist how to use a scratching post as kittens. Shadow completely understood, but Mist thought it was a matter of location, not furniture; if I moved the scratching post for any reason, Mist would scratch at the table leg nearest to where the scratching post had been. I taught the kittens by making it clear to them that, no matter how I felt about you or whatever else you did, if you scratched at the scratching post you were going to get petted.

Mist enjoyed all these things and more.

Today forever ended for the gray child of Boo.

March 11, 2002
December 20, 2015
She was my beautiful boo-boo-baby.

The answer to an angry cat

I have an answer to the issue I discussed in my previous post (I was worried about how my cat, Shadow, would react to a smoke-alarm inspector when I was away). The answer: friends. Isaac ( ) has been kind enough to offer to be there during the inspection. Isaac is a cat person, has dealt with Shadow before, and can act a buffer if needed.

Now I can move on to the next thing: planning for my class at Free Spirit. I’ve got a whole bunch of ideas, but I want to organize them into some coherent form.

Love and anger, feline style

My superintendent has been working to get the heat working properly in my apartment.  He was in here the other day with a plumber.  While they were here, my black cat Shadow got very territorial and attacked the plumber; I just heard about this today.  The plumber is refusing to return to my apartment unless Shadow is locked up.

I wish I could make myself believe that the plumber is making this up.  I can’t.  This not the first time people have reported this kind of behavior from Shadow.  I’ve never seen it myself, since he never acts this way when I’m present.  But when I’m not there, and there’s a lot of noise, strange odors, or he just think the person should have been me, he can become vicious, angry, and attack people’s legs.

I’m both disappointed and angry with Shadow.  Yes, I know he’s just a cat.  But incidents like this can be serious.  I know that he can’t do anything worse than give someone a nasty scratch, but other people don’t know that.  Folks have been sued for less. The outcome of such situations often is that the animal involved has to be put to sleep.

As I’m typing this, he’s coming over to me to be petted.  How did this cute little black kitten I once held in my hand grow up to be such a bundle of anger?

Anyway, I’ll have him locked in my bedroom the next time the plumber visits.  I know what will happen: he’ll scratch furiously at the floor at the base of the door, trying to get out, and will tear up the carpeting in the bedroom.  There isn’t that much else I can do.