My Muse

David Lynch has Chrysta Bell & had Julee Cruise. I’ve been a muse at least twice that I’ve been told. And today I realized I have my own muse.
It’s the boyfriend.

My first published novel, The Method, was actually his idea. But he inspires me daily to greater & weirder heights of absurdity. He’s like a walking Lynchian Red Room.

Today we were sitting in a Denny’s. He got the Grand Slam, eggs over medium, extra crispy all-bacon as always. I had a salad. While eating my salad, I was chastising myself for not liking country music, which I knew he grew up with. His father was even in a country band.

Then it dawned on me that, in a very real way, I like England’s version of country music. Or specifically, Manchester’s. How did I not see before that pretty much any Smiths’ song would make a fantastic country track? Can you imagine Alan Jackson doing The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

Or k.d. lang doing Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now? Seriously.

Now I actually can’t stop thinking about this. Except on the ride home, he said something to me about a cock horse, which immediately brought forth this song from my lips:

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross

To see a fine lady upon a white horse

Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes

She shall have music wherever she goes

I don’t know how I know this, I don’t know why I “remember” the tune — I just do. I said I thought it was a nursery rhyme, prompting him to make fun of me for being from a country that expects children to sing “cock horse.”

Upon returning home, I brushed the cat for the 5th time today, singing to him to this tune:

H-i-m-a-l-a-y-a-n

You’ve got a fluff ass

Fur in my face

You meow like Ben Sasse

All over the place

You like Greenies

That won’t change

You’re so glamourous

Ooh the fluffy fluffy.

I don’t know if the cat likes any of the songs I sing to him, but the BF & I both do it all the time.

Anyhow, if you hate any of my creative projects, blame him.

A Day In The…

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I promised I would write every day. I failed. Here is a vague effort to remedy that, but these are just going to be small, almost Tweet-like bullet points.

  • My boyfriend went to Coscto in Van Nuys today. While he was getting protein bars, Paul Stanley of Kiss walked up. My boyfriend told him “I’m getting protein bars for my girlfriend,” which was a lie. Paul Stanley said “Tell her I said hi.”
  • We went to Olive Garden for dinner. There was a normal piece of pasta in my gluten free rotini. I will be sick tomorrow.
  • While at Olive Garden, the BF randomly said “We should start singing that song ‘Connected‘ so that we’ll hear it in the car, like last time.”
  • I confessed to the BF that I played Magic the Gathering a really long time ago. I showed him my deck, which I still have. It’s from 1994. I’m shocked people still play.
  • The cat has been brushed at least 6 times.
  • Knowing that you have a gluten free cranberry orange scone & mascarpone waiting for you in the morning makes it much easier to get up.

I’m sorry this was poetry free. Wait, here’s a haiku:

The cat is so spoiled.

And why does my man love tapioca

Pudding?

Sabu, Lord of Encino

I came home from work yesterday & found this on my doorstep. 

Not actually a 3rd world nation, just a weird angle.

One does not typically encounter what looked to be a pure bred Himalayan wandering the streets of Los Angeles, even in the valley. I emailed a cat rescue. They recommended I take him to a vet to be scanned, then they could call the owner of the microchip.
I took a bowl of water down to the beast, as it was 100 F, then made dinner & figured the owner would probably come home soon to find their beloved pet had escaped.

My roommate came home weirdly early for her & told me the cat had now moved up the steps toward the door. “It’s still out there?” “Yes.” I grabbed my keys & went to sit on the steps with the cat while my roommate emailed the HOA, asking if anyone was missing a very expensive cat.

As I sat on the steps, the beast hissed at me, but I gently held my hand toward him anyhow. He immediately rubbed his face on my hand & started purring. He was not mangy or very tangled, & I perceived a collar which meant he did indeed belong to someone. 

Just then, a neighbour I haven’t met pulled up & asked about the cat. “Is he yours?” I asked back. “No, but he is beautiful.” She got the number for her vet & called to see if they would scan the cat’s chip for free. They would. I asked her to watch the kitty while I got my cat carrier. It was now my mission to find this cat’s home.

Soon after I came outside, with my roommate following, I got the cat in the carrier with no fuss at all (bizarre). It was then that the door opened again & a guy popped his head out & said “Yep, that’s the cat.” I asked if this was his cat & he said his wife inherited him from her grandfather who had just died, & “Do you want it? It’s a $500 cat but if you want it you can have it.”

I said, “I’m sorry, did you just say you don’t want your cat?”

“We don’t really know what to do with it.” Then a car showed up & a woman & a small boy got out. I recognized the small boy as our neighbour down the hall.

The woman told me the cat’s name is Sabu, explained the story to me & said they were afraid the cat would scratch their baby (they have a toddler). I explained this was highly unlikely with a pure bred Himalayan, which she confirmed he is. She also fretted that he likes to sit on the couch, which is a sure sign they don’t know cats. “We have papers and everything, & the litter box & food. I can give you all that stuff. He has a lot of brushes, too. My grandfather brushed him every day.”

It didn’t look like he’d been brushed in a little while.

The man then asked the wife “Do you want to keep him now or no?” She said “Let the kid say goodbye” & I asked “You really don’t want the cat?” & my roommate, God bless her, said “We’ll take the cat. Do you have all his paperwork & health record?” And they said they did.

As you know, I’ve not been able to even think about getting a new cat since Persephone (19) & Neil (13, who had a stroke soon after she passed) died last year. But as my roommate pointed out “He found you.” So that was that.

The woman went to her apartment & we carried all Sabu’s stuff down to ours & she promised to get the paperwork to us when she found it. I let her know I was going to acclimate him in our bathroom so he could gradually get used to the house. She admitted they didn’t know a lot about cats. I explained that Himalayans are even stranger because they are not bred to be like “normal” cats. They are gentle, patient, good natured, cuddly, & cannot under any circumstances go outside. 

If abandoning a regular cat is like abandoning an 8 year old child, abandoning a Himalayan is like abandoning a 10 month old. They just want to be cuddled & cannot hunt. Their bodies aren’t even correctly built for hunting, jumping, or escaping. They are built to melt into laps.

Anyhow, she had left & I set up the litter box, food, & water in my bathroom. By now he had wet himself, & I could get a good look at how unkempt he was after a day outside.

Watchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?


He was entirely uninterested in food & water, but oddly for a cat traumatized by two moves in as many weeks,
he wanted to be pet. So I pet him. Then I brushed him, & he wanted to be brushed. Then I gave him a couple treats, which he prefers to eat out of hand.

After a little brush & eye cleaning.


The bathroom does not get air at night, & he seemed to want to explore, so I let him wander into my bedroom after my roommate said goodnight to him & gave him belly rubs. He protested loudly about everything while looking at it, like “I wouldn’t put this here. What’s this for?” And he did go under the bed, but he traversed to the other side & emerged in less than 30 seconds. This was the most chill cat rehoming ever.

He did cry much of the night, though he did jump up on the bed, at one point even hugging my leg, but then would wander around & cry again. I pet him at 2:30, 3:15, 4 something, & then I lost count. I heard him use the litter box. I thanked God.

When I got up to shower, he seemed nearly nonplussed, & when I left the room to make breakfast, he wanted to come with. I didn’t want to do that when I was just leaving for work. He did not seem to want to be left alone.

I tried to leave work early, but that did not quite work out as planned. It didn’t matter; when I got in, he was sleeping peacefully under the bed. I left the door open, made & ate dinner, then came back to his spot under the bed with the bag of treats.

He eagerly followed me out to the living room, but I scooped him up so I could brush him & clean his eyes (Himalayans need a lot of maintenance). I sat him on the ottoman, brushed him down, cleaned his eyes, gave him treats, & let him explore. He wanted to be pet, so I did that first, & then he jumped down.

He was vaguely impressed with the living room, taking a leisurely stroll around the perimeter & returning to the bedroom. I decided to upload some photos, then sweep & mop the bathroom. He was using the litter box! I scooped it & swept, noting that he was finally grooming himself. I mopped & then dumped a basket of clean laundry on the bed to fold & put away.

Sabu immediately emerged from under the bed & inserted himself amongst my small piles to be folded. He rolled around & showed his belly like he’d been mine for years. I finished putting away the laundry & got on the bed with him, rubbing his belly & scratching the fluff around his ears. He purred & I got a toy to play with him, which in typical Himmy fashion bored him in about two minutes. 

So this is what he looks like now…

His paperwork says that his dame is Catzboutique Paper Doll & that his full name is Catzboutique Sabu. He is 9 years old & is basically a naked love Ewok.

The Long, Fluffy Life of Persephone Girl Cat

 If her birth is known to anyone, they haven’t shared that story with me or the shelter. I got Persephone when she was, by the SPCA vet’s estimate, 8 years old. Her tummy was shaved from having just been spayed.

I did not get her directly from a shelter. A coworker had adopted her from the SPCA where I volunteered. This coworker then decided she was too much trouble, so she asked me “Does the SPCA get annoyed if you take a cat back?” I asked what the problem was & she said “I’m not normally allergic to Siamese, but I’m allergic to this one.”

When I saw her, after coming by the coworker’s house, I said “Well, you don’t have a Siamese. That’s a Himalayan.” The coworker then admitted that it was more that the cat was a pain in the ass. “She wants to be pet all the time. She’s more like a dog. I wanted a cat cat.”

Well, I couldn’t let her take her back to the shelter. I asked my fiancĂ© of the time if we could please please please please pretty please keep her, & he consented if he got to name her, even though we had just adopted a kitten (Baby Neil Cat) a little while ago & already had Martin Cat on top of him.

The shelter had named her Rena Jean. She was not a Rena Jean. My ex named her Persphone (after the chick from The Matrix Reloaded, not the Greek mythological character) & that suited her. So we took Persephone home.

Persephone was a pain in the ass. She had straight up reactive attachment disorder. She would attack me every time I walked by, not in a playful-kitten-hunting-game way, but in a pissy-mean-girls-in-junior-high way. She’d swipe at my ankles with her claws out, and when I’d admonish her, she’d act offended that I’d even noticed her bitchy behaviour. Ten minutes later, she’d leap up & try to steal food off your plate. Later, she’d snuggle on your lap & purr like a proper Himalayan.

It took a while to gently & lovingly break her of the reactive behaviours. I didn’t blame her, because she’d been rehomed so suddenly after months of shelter time. She gradually mellowed after I applied simple behavioural techniques (never reinforce behaviour you wish to cease) & became comfy & happy in the home my ex & I shared together. 

No regard for furniture’s true form.

She was not entirely happy, though. We steadily became a less happy house, & Martin & Baby Neil Cat, both male tuxedos, excluded her from cuddles either due to racism or sexism; I was never able to decide which. No matter, as Persephone was decidedly human-focused, & the acceptance of the other cats was not terribly important to her.

We also took in a very violent stray who made things very difficult for my chill & cheerful cats. Thankfully our neighbours fell in love with him & took him.

We also had foster kittens for a while. As they were unvaccinated strays, they had to be kept in a separate room away from my grown up cats, but Persephone would sit outside the kitten room & longingly yowl for them. If one ever escaped, she’d run after them & try to scruff them. I’m pretty sure she had a litter or two before she ended up at the shelter. She loved babies.

When I moved to Los Angeles, Neil had never been in the kitty stroller before. Persephone was a fan because my ex & I would take her out in it & she got to meet new people who would inevitably fall in love with her. 

  
Neil was placed in it right before I pulled the truck out of the driveway for the first time. He then proceeded to freak out, scream, piss himself, & yowl for 2 hours straight. 

Neil yowled going up the mountain. He yowled at the California agriculture inspection station. He yowled down the mountain into Sacramento.
A short while after Sacramento, Persephone had had it with Neil’s yowling. She went over to him (the carrier is big enough for 3 cats), sat on him, & began vigorously washing his face.

Neil calmed down. Persephone continued to sit on & wash Neil the next four hours of my drive (yes, I booked. And didn’t stop).

  
When we got to LA, the cat stroller was the first thing to come out. I had talked with my new room mate & set up all their amenities in my bathroom. I set out the litter box in the toilet alcove, the food & water in an area near the tub, & wheeled the stroller in once all was ready. I opened the carrier, left, & closed the door. Those of you with cats know you have to rehome them carefully, smallest room to bigger at a time, to avoid nerves & messes. Then my roommate & my friends Scott & Kim helped me move in my crap.

I didn’t open the bathroom door again until everyone was gone & it was time for bed. Neil had managed to get under the sink; Persephone was keen to join me, but not to explore yet.

My roommate & I left the house for a while the next day (I think to get our hurr did) & I came back to this:

Hint: they are lumps.


So it took a while for them to feel free to explore their new digs, but Persephone was the first to claim damn near everything, including the lap of her new roommate.

The rest of this is mostly going to be photos, because that is why the Internet was created. Cat photos.

 

Meeting a baby dragon for the first time.

  

I’m in a basket!

  

Happy kitty face.

  

The one time Neil wasn’t selfish & actually washed Persephone back.

  

Kisses!

  

Pretty little Monkey Duck Otter Sheep.

  

Pretty kitties.

  

She wasn’t shy about cuddling.

  

She wasn’t shy about anything.

  

Snuggle buddies.


She died of lymphoma at the age of 19 on April 29, 2015. I was with her at the vet when it happened. We tried to keep her alive with cortisol shots for a bit to support her breathing, but she just stopped doing things. Every breath seemed like a battle. Neil stared at her 24/7. She was way down a K hole when she went, so I finally got to hug her one last time.

My boyfriend liked to say “She’s a good cat.” I would always correct him, “She’s a terribly behaved cat. But she’s a good girl.” And she was. She wanted to meet everyone (except dogs, as I found out at St. Francis’ Day at church) & she wanted to get into everything. If I was not doing something to her exacting standards, she’d let me know with a series of pissy bleats. She liked ice in her water, the exact opposite litter as Neil, & if her bowl was down below the half way mark, she’d place her paw on my mouth to wake me. If I did not get up & had the audacity to close my eyes again, she’d punch me in the face.

She never once in her life retracted her claws. 

One night when my boyfriend visited, she spent the night patting him on the forehead randomly. He reinforced this behaviour by buying her a dress.
 

That she genuinely enjoyed wearing.


She would pick fights with Neil & be incensed when he defended himself. Typical girl. Always walked slowly, deliberately, looking you in the eye. She was cross eyed.

She legit watched the Kitten Bowl.

She inserted herself into everything and made messes.

  She was wonderful.

Someone wrote her name on the prayer list at Saint Thomas of Hollywood. It was not me; I wrote down three humans on that same day, but not my cat. Whomever did that, I’m pretty sure St. Francis clapped. Also I love you.