Saturday, December 31, 2011

Counting Down

You may have read this before if you are a long-time follower of Housecat Confidential. Hope you enjoy it.

It may seem an odd stretch for a woman, who’s never played golf, to write a story about her memories of growing up across the street from a golf course, but I do have some fond memories of the place just the same. I grew up in a house in Studio City CA, across the street from the neighborhood golf course which made my house the easiest one in the neighborhood to find. My directions, to everyone who came to my house, went something like this:

“I live two blocks down from Ventura, on Whitsett, on the corner of – never mind, do you know where the golf course is? Okay, I live kitty-corner from the club house.”

At which point they would ask what kitty-corner meant, and I would say it means diagonally across (why I didn’t just say “diagonally across” to begin with is a mystery to me even now) and then they knew right where to find me.

My next memory revolves around a high school crush. I was outside watering the plants in my front yard one afternoon when I noticed my crush across the street puttering around (puttering around… that’s a golf term right?) on the putting green. As it turned out he was on the golf team (I know - I was just as shocked, who knew there were high school golf teams?) and they practiced right across the street. The next day in school I gathered my courage and spoke to him.

“Hi, I saw you playing over at the putting green yesterday. I live kitty-corner from the golf course.”

“Oh yeah? The golf team practices over there - what’s Caddy Corner?”

“It's Kitty-corner, it means diagonally across - We have a golf team?” (Strike one for me)

“Yes we do! It must be nice to live right across the street, do you play?”

“Um, er, ah… No, I’ve never been over there actually.” (Strike two)

“You live caddy corner and never walked across the street to play?”

“No, and it’s KITTY-Corner.” (Strike three and the budding romance was over)

I did finally make it over there, to the putting green at least, and it’s my favorite memory. It was the year I turned eighteen, and the night before my birthday I threw a big party at my house. My house felt overheated and too loud for me (even then I was a Granny), so just before midnight I snuck outside to catch a breath of cold air. Midnight is special in this story because my party was held on December 31st.

In all the homes around me I could hear people celebrating and getting ready to usher in my birthday, and sure, the New Year too. Outside it was completely still and I felt like I was alone in the world. A full moon lit up the street with an ethereal glow, and although it was cold, it felt completely invigorating after the heat of the party. In that moment it felt like the world was holding its breath, waiting with me for the next chapter to begin.

I was surprised to see that there wasn’t a single car in sight as I walked to the edge of the street in front of my house. I walked into the middle of the street, and I stood there for a few moments, drinking in the moment that I knew wouldn't last. I could hear the ever-building excitement in the homes all around me.

I looked over at the golf course and I decided I’d waited long enough to visit. I crossed the street diagonally and I hopped over the short fence. I took off my party shoes and I felt the manicured grass under my feet. I never knew grass could feel like that, like velvet but cool and damp. I ran into the center of the green, and I danced, knowing that no one was watching me. I could hear the New Year rapidly approaching as the party-goers counted down the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. I knew that they would all begin to spill out into the world in a moment, unable to keep the quiet any longer, and they did.

My friends came outside and followed me across the street to dance on the grass too. I shared my first kiss as an adult on that grass, but I remember most those last moments when I left my childhood behind and embraced my future - dancing on the grass when I felt like the world was all mine, that everything was before me and nothing was beyond my reach.

Happy New Year - Hope you find a nice patch of grass, and I think it's time to find my own again too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Could It Be - Part Two

I know I said I was gonna bring the funny this week, but I don't think I've found my funny stride just yet as a human.This may come as a shock, but as a cat I never struggled. I just wrote whatever came into my head, or whatever my kitty girl was up to, and fully trusted in it. Of course I wasn't always successful at being funny, but I rarely stressed about it. I never worried about offending anyone either, Fin likes gravy and your kit likes dry, no offense taken.

As a human I've been pressuring myself to be... something, else. Something I was never going to live up to. So I've decided I'm just gonna be me. Sometimes that means I'll be funny, sarcastic and self-deprecating (and prepare yourself because I'm not above bathroom humor). Sometimes that will mean I will pull at your hart strings (I know I couldn't resist the pun) and try to evoke a memory or a feeling. Sometimes it may mean that I unintentionally offend you, and I swear in advance it's not my intention to do so.

I didn't intend for a part two from my post yesterday, but I was inspired by your comments to delve a little deeper. Maybe I'm not alone, but I feel like I'm sometimes two very different people in one body.

In the example of yesterday's post - I am the kind of person who would help a stranger get their ill-planned groceries home, or at least I want to be. I want to be able to live life with a joyful innocence, but that is hard for me - because I am also a person who learned early that the world is not always safe and filled with kindness.

It is something I struggle with, trying to find the balance between opening my heart and still protecting it, but then I'm only human.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Could It Be?

So the other day I was driving home from the grocery store and I was stuck at the light. We have some of the longest lights in the world here in Las Vegas. I often consider reading a good book during the time.

I looked over and noticed a man on a bicycle, also waiting at the light. In his hands he had two large bags of groceries, and a large box of something else. He was trying to balance all his packages and get on the bike to ride it, but it was proving impossible. He then tried to push the bike and that also proved impossible. 

I have to admit I was a bit perplexed by the situation he found himself in. He knew he had a bike for his ride home, so why all the big purchases? I thought for a moment about being nice and offering to drive him home and then I realized that was a wildly unsafe proposal. The kind of decision that ends with a loved one saying "My wife would never offer a ride to a stranger" and a choice that is totally out of my typical realm of comfort. I was feeling fine with my decision, until I noticed the large box.

"Is that cat litter?" I wondered aloud. I had sudden visions in my head of cats hovering by the door with their paws crossed waiting for his return. Guilt came over me. Surely he couldn't be a bad guy if he was risking life and limb to bring home cat litter. "Maybe it's not litter?" I said as I squinted to try and read the box at a distance.

It seemed I could make out the Arm and Hammer logo, and my heart sank. It was litter. But wait, another twist of his wrist and I saw it was laundry detergent.

"Thank Cod it's only laundry detergent!" I said filled with relief. I'm sure he was a good person, with dirty clothes, but I was grateful to the universe that I no longer felt compelled to help imaginary cats get their litter box issues under control.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Favorite Present

Some of you may have read this story of mine before, but I hope you enjoy it. Next week I promise to bring some lightness to this blog. I feel like I have been too much on the "feeling" and not on the "funny" but it's been an emotional time and it tends to bring out the sentimental side of me.

I remember being snuggled in bed at my Grandmother’s house, clutched in my hand was my beloved Lamby-Pie, a stuffed animal of a black faced lamb. Lamby-Pie was made of soft white lamb's wool, at least Lamby had been white, when I was originally given him but he had turned into a shade of well-loved beige over the years. I unconsciously rubbed his paw gently against my cheek as I waited, waited for the sound I knew would soon come.

It was Christmas morning and I was still very sleepy from staying up too late to open my “Non-Santa” presents on Christmas Eve. I loved Christmas Eve with all our family, and the presents of course, but I always loved Christmas morning more, because it's when my favorite present would come.

I was beginning to drift off to sleep again when it came, the sound of coffee beans being ground in the kitchen. It was the sound of my Grandmother starting her day. I couldn't wait any longer. I pulled back the covers and slipped into my new slippers and robe, because it was cold upstairs, not like my house far away in sunny California. I walked down the stairs quietly, careful not to step on any of the creaky spots, because I didn’t want to wake anyone else.

The windows were frosted over at the edges and outside there was a new snowfall, something I rarely saw. It was so beautiful that I had to stop and look. The snow twinkled in the early morning light like diamonds on a white blanket, but I didn’t want to spend too much time looking - not with my present waiting for me.

“Hello sweetheart, Merry Christmas! Come and give me a big hug.” My Grandmother called to me as I entered the kitchen.

I was held by my grandmother’s warm embrace. I could smell coffee and the special almond soap my grandmother used. I breathed it in… a smell I loved with all my heart, and still do. I held tightly to my beloved grandmother and before I fully let her go I squeezed her hard one more time.

“That was a big hug for a small girl!” My grandmother said as she pulled a small beautiful box, wrapped in shiny silver paper and white velvet ribbon, from her robe pocket. “Look, I found this under the tree. I think Santa left it for you. Why don’t you take it to the table while I make our special breakfast?”

I sat down and watched as my grandmother prepared our special breakfast of oatmeal with brown sugar. I forgot the beautiful package, still clutched in my hands, as we spoke, because it was this moment I'd waited all year for - it was the pink satin of my grandmother’s robe, not the red velvet of Santa’s which kept me up all morning. It was this special time, before the rest of the world woke up, when I had my grandmother all to myself that I looked forward to each year. It is these moments I will remember, for the rest of my life, as my favorite Christmas presents.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Time

I don't know why this time of year gets me so nostalgic, but it does. Growing up Christmas was always a special time of year for me, and not just because of the presents either (although my former nickname of "Present Pig" would lead you to think differently). As a child we had a long break from school which allowed us to fly back east to Illinois from sunny California and spend the holiday at my Grandmother's house. My Grandmother was the Martha Stewart of her day.

She'd work so hard to make the holidays as special as she could. Everything from velvet ribbons on the polished apples to thoughtfully selected and beautifully wrapped gifts. One year she even had the groundskeeper tie red velvet ribbons on the flock of white pigeons they owned. Hm, that sounds kind of exotic doesn't it? Someday I'll tell you about the peacocks and then the pigeons won't seem exotic at all.Seriously, she had peacocks.

When my Grandmother passed I spent years boycotting Christmas. It made me too sad to see the world wrapped up in its Christmas finery when my Grandmother wasn't in the world to enjoy it. It was silly really. Who was I punishing?

I found Christmas again a couple of years ago, but now I am all in (not velvet-tied apples in - but who is?). I started to gather the glitziest, most sparkly ornaments I could find. Although my husband hates glitter because it "gets" everywhere, I even have sneaked some of them in too. I love ornaments that remind me of the way snow twinkles and frost both illuminates and obscures a window pane.

I love to sit in my quiet house and stare at my sparkly Christmas tree. If I can get my precious kitty on my lap and have a good book in my hand, well it's nothing short of perfection.

Life is like glitter, it's beautiful, it's messy and you never know where it's going to end up.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The First

Hello World!

It's me, Meg, ::whispers:: and I'm human. Maybe some of you saw that one coming. If you're new here you're likely to be confused by that revelation, so let me explain. 

I'm starting my own blog after blogging for three plus years using my cat's voice. Why blog as a cat? It started as a way to find an audience for a book called Housecat Confidential that I wrote in her voice. I guess I should back up even more - why write a book as a cat?

Speaking in my cat's voice all began by trying to mimic my cat's many variations on meow. She is a true kitty linguistic, and it did seem like you could really understand her wants and needs if you could just crack the code.

Eventually my hubby and I began to interpret those vocalization into English. Once we had her talking, it didn't take long for us to begin to insert our humor into those interpretations.Why ask "Honey, can you feed the cat?" when there are so many more fun ways to ask when you ask it like the cat would?

I have to admit my girl Fin didn't initially seem to be the brightest star in the sky, until the day I realized her "playing dumb" was an effective way to get what she wanted. Finny De Floof - Master Mind was born. 

Suddenly all the odd (but turns out perfectly normal) behavior of a cat took on new meaning to me. I began to try to see life through her eyes, and it was a life I liked looking at. It was filled with love (for us and a more forbidden variety with a toy mouse), hope (surely that can of tuna will be opened soon), work stresses (humans don't wake themselves) and many of the same frustrations we all face.

The world was a more interesting place from her point of view. I could learn to take life and myself less serious - why just have self-deprecating humor when you can have a cat do it for you. 

Her world was much smaller, but somehow much richer too. I started to realize that she had everything she needed to be happy within our home, and when I opened my heart I realized I did too. I started a journey to find the same joy and wonder in life and within myself, and I stopped looking for outside things to make me happy.

In the end I found that I wasn't alone, turns out there were a lot of other kind people who also like to look at the world through the eyes of a cat. So what does the world look like through my human eyes? I guess we'll all figure that out if you stick around, and I sure hope you do.