Category Archives: cats

Red Sox and other musings

When I was 3 years old, my father told me the Red Sox were my team. Now I’m sure he said that because of the screams I emitted every morning that there was not  a clean pair of red socks in my sock drawer. He was watching the Yankees play this other team, and he pointed at them for me. I of course didn’t believe him and wandered over to our big clunker of a tv. Since this was long before color tv, the only way to accept they were the Red Sox was to see their name spelled out on a shirt. I finally got the chance and scoffed to my father that they spelled socks wrong, and couldn’t be my team. I’m still a grammar nazi.

Flash forward about thirteen years. My father had died four years earlier and we moved shortly thereafter to Northampton, MA, where my mother was to take up the job of science librarian for Smith College. The summer I was 15, all of my friends were already 16 and could get real jobs. The laws were much more strict in those days, and I spent the summer babysitting. After putting the kids down for their naps, I prepared to watch tv for an hour or so. In those days there were only three channels and they were analog. I had the choice of watching either of two soap operas or the Red Sox. It didn’t take me long to become an addict, and when I tell you the year, those who know your baseball history will understand when I say it was the year of The Impossible Dream. My new found best buddies went to the World Series that year and lost in the 7th game. My heart was not broken yet. My boys had done something marvelous and it was enough.

Now as I make my way through another baseball year where my team on paper looks bonzer, but the application to real life lets all the human foibles appear, I must be strong. I will continue to watch even the most excruciating games, because in any game they may breakout. After all, last weekend they played two very good games and came out satisfactorily ahead. Not so much today. It is hard to stay motivated to write or knit when this state of affairs exists. There is a tremendous bright spot in the reawakening of Mike Napoli. Xander Bogaerts is beginning to hit again, and well. Mooky Betts continues to shine, and Dustin Pedroia is again challenging all comers as the league MVP. I have not given up.

Which gets me to the next point, not baseball related (but watch our for flying metaphors). I have felt in a slump writing wise for the last few weeks, one might almost say the doldrums. Part of the problem is my bad luck in finding another apartment. It appears that four cats scare off even the most open-minded landlords. My four cats are less destructive than any one small dog, perchance a chihuahua. They are not noisy (with the one exception where they knocked over my vacuum cleaner, managing to turn it on). That day was the noisiest and my downstairs neighbor simply thought I was doing a large spring cleaning. Instead my cats went neurotic that day. Not that you could see any difference.

Today I wrote 2,000 words. I don’t know if they’re any good, but the ideas conveyed in them are good, and I’ll worry about getting them into shape at some later date. And the breakthrough may have come with the knowledge I conveyed in my last post, that there is the hope of subsidized housing in the future. Perhaps it is freudian, but I mistyped the word as sunsidized, which may even be better!

Apartment Hunting Redux

The saga of looking for a new apartment continues. The rub, as I fully expected, is my four cats. My current landlord allows them, so I may be stuck for another year or two, and I may find myself away at the Burlington Writers Workshop space on Church Street much of the time if a horde of college students arrive downstairs. But the hunt is still on and who knows what lurks in the offing?

I’ve put feelers out for a couple of studio (or efficiency) apartments but they are not my first choice. One thing I realized, looking at the small apartment that I wanted but did not get, was how much junk I have and how hard it would be to fit it into a small space. I was pleasantly surprised to find on Friday a one bedroom with study that was almost within my means. The fact that it also had a washer and dryer did much to obviate the cost, but the clincher was that heat is included. As I am sure you can understand, living in the north country makes that a Big Deal. Unfortunately, there were over forty of us responding, and I am not holding my breath.

But now, I have seen a much better bargain. A place that would save me $125 a month in rent, and over double the size of my current apartment, with a washer and dryer to be shared with the homeowners and an in-ground backyard pool, right outside the front door of the apartment. I am sure the competition will be fierce, but I will try to be as charming as I can, and maybe I’ll get lucky. Or, as a friend said about all the others, they were not meant to be. Maybe this one is.

Cats and other things

My cats don’t understand that I am busy writing about their distant cousins, the felixities, cat people who inhabit the world I have created. Accordingly, they demand attention, particularly on nights like this when I come home late from an evening at the writers workshop I frequent. I gave them their dinner and they were quiet for awhile, but now they are demanding their evening snack, even though they ate dinner less than forty five minutes ago.

What I learn from this is that the felixities must have either inherited this hunger, or have figured out a way to socialize it out of themselves. I believe it is the latter, since they have shown the ability to march long distances on short rations, and that is not consistent with the sort of demands my cats are now making on me.

I’m going somewhere with this, if you will bear with me. I have always claimed  writing fantasy allows me to write all the rules of the world that I am creating, But I am constrained by what readers might find credible or reasonable. If, for example, my felixities, intelligent cats that walk on two legs, started barking like dogs and panting, I would understand if my readers were upset or offended by this characterization. They would not be acting consistently with the cats people know and love (or hate).

This thought did not spring out of thin air. Twice today I spoke with women at my workshop about some of the elements of the story I hope to publish this summer. Each brought their own sensibilities to what I told them, and I got completely different reactions from them. One was ready to curl up on a pillow with a comforter around her to listen as I spun my tale. She is a fiction writer. The other told me that I was describing a world with religious elements, and that many of the events in my world were metaphors for sexual relations. She writes nonfiction.

What am I to make of this? I will be workshopping this novel on June 4, and will know that evening whether a publication in July is possible. But if two listeners can take such different attitudes to what I am writing, to whom do I market the book? I confess what started as an adventurous tale has developed into somewhat more than a simple story, and has become a statement of more global principles than I thought or initially intended. I suspect it can still be read as an adventure for those of a mind to that kind of fantasy. But I now believe the scope has broadened and that some may take much more than adventure from it.

The full message will not come out until the sequel. Or perhaps the second sequel. I can’t do too much about that. There is simply too much information to put it into one book. I tried and was universally advised to split it up. I will have more about the sequel shortly, since I have already written about half of it, and am chomping at the bit to get on with it. I hope you will come along for the ride.

Cats, books and other things

I have to admit that I am the proud human to four cats. All under the age of three, they manage to tear around my small apartment like a tornado, interfering with my second role, the writer of fantasy books. I use the plural form of the word “book” because I have six in process as well as two that I have written sketches about but haven’t started the actual writing of. And I mustn’t forget the one or two prequels of five of the books I’m working on.

Needless to say the concatenation of books and cats is a common meme, particularly in George Booth cartoons. His work could well be the humorous representation of parts of my life. I have a sweatshirt showing a cat swooning on a stack of books. The words are “Books. Cats. Life is good.” But he never to my recollection did one of a writer with cats. (Please feel free to disabuse me of this notion, as I would love to see his take on the issue.)

My cats have visited a number of calamities on me over the brief course of my writing career. Among them, the destruction of one computer, the deletion of a day’s work on one book, and the eating of a document that I needed to take with me to the Burlington Writers Workshop, among many other significant and insignificant atrocities. This is why I have made them characters in some of my stories. I somehow think I am appeasing the cat gods by doing this.

It is not the cat’s fault (I wish it were!) But the publication of Fantastical Trips is now put off, probably until June. I’ll keep you informed.