Sunday, January 31, 2010

Further Evidence of Geekdom...and winter fun awaits!

I sometimes lurk around the blog of Dystel and Godrich Literary Management. Not because they are my agents (I don't have one), but because they are very current on publishing trends (and someday I might want an agent). The other day, in response to author J.D. Salinger's death, they blogged about "The Need to Write", and quoted him as saying that "a real writer writes because he must” (as opposed to because publication awaits him/her).

This, I believe, is further evidence of my geekdom. I agree - because, (as I noted in response to their blog) when I'm writing - seriously writing - I actually get an adrenaline rush. At least, I think that's what it is. I get alert, and productive, and excited to keep working. I feel bouncy and agitated and if I do have to stop, and try to sleep, it's nearly impossible, because my mind races and my body almost twitches with energy. It's not glamourous, but it's awesome.

I'm told that other people achieve this same high through exercise.

Exercise is not as fun (for me) as writing. But I'll get some this week. I am taking a grade six class on an overnight outdoor education trip this week, in place of their homeroom teacher, who is sick. (This is a bit like my cheerleading days, when, as a "sub", I had to wait for someone else's asthma to act up so that I could don my uniform...I feel guilty, but I'm excited!) Outdoor education no longer fills me with fear, because adult geeks do not suffer the same ridicule on class trips as child geeks. Yes, I have a story to tell about that, but I want to be the cool teacher - not the crabby one - and so now, I must sleep.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A very cool Majik trick

(Or, how The Great Catsby shared his innermost feelings and gratitude)

Tomorrow marks one month since Majik came to live with us, and he is fitting in beautifully. He's brave enough to play with Spencer, but he also loves to cuddle, and usually sleeps beside me at night. This morning, he got up a little earlier than usual, and began prowling around -- quietly -- off the bed, under the bed, up into the windowsill. And then, suddenly, I heard clicking, and it occurred to me that he might be playing with the bedside stereo. Seconds later, Burton Cummings was belting out these words:

'Cause I have you now
I'll never have to make it alone

Saved my soul
Taught me how to fly
You picked me up
When I was falling

Saved my soul
Came right along
You picked me up
At the bottom
Saved my soul, saved me...

Yes, it might have been a coincidence that the cat stepped on the right button during that lyric on that particular song ...but I'd like to believe that he was thanking Toronto Cat Rescue for getting him off of death row, and me, for getting him out of foster care, and into my home. Finding a cat that makes everyone happy? Awesome. Finding one who serenades me in the morning? Majikal.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

O wha tagee kiam

Come on now - say it three times fast everyone! O wha tagee kiam...Owhatageekiam...O what a geek I am!

This week's proof, as if we needed it:

1. I based the title of my blog entry on a campfire skit that's at least 30 years old, if not more. I believe the line there actually makes you say "O what a goose I am", but it pretty much amounts to the same thing. There were so many campfire skits in my's not the skits that make me geeky, but the fact that I can still remember so many of them!

2. I am reading The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, and page 21 had a line that perfectly defines my approach to life: "My idea of fun has always been to lie in bed reading. Preferably with a snack." Clearly, this woman is my soulmate.

3. Last week, I attended the fifth annual "Movies, Manicures and Martinis" event at The Roxy Theatre in Uxbridge. It's a fundraiser where guests are asked to dress according to whatever movie is being shown - food and activities are geared around the movie as well. This year's film was "Dirty Dancing". Does the fact that I first saw it in the theatre TWENTY-THREE YEARS AGO make me a geek? Not necessarily. The fact that I have seen it in both English AND French? Nope. The fact that I can quote most of it by heart? Kind of (who does that??? Oh yeah -- me, obviously). But most geeky of all is the fact that I didn't dress like "Baby" in a striped T-shirt and capri pants. I didn't put on a fancy samba dress like Penny, or even a sundress like Lisa. And why? Because it is January, and I DIDN'T WANT TO BE COLD ALL EVENING. Yup. I put comfort ahead of fashion. And I dressed like a man. I put on black jeans, a black T-shirt, and a black leather jacket (with black sunglasses) and went as Johnny Castle. He is the ultimate cool dude -- but me dressing like him so I wouldn't be cool clearly proves that I am, truly, the uncoolest of all.

How freeing it is to be at a point in my life where I don't care!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Goldfish dreams

I dreamt about goldfish last night. Not just any goldfish - a whole bunch of them, in a great big tank that was maybe 10 feet by 10 feet.

This is NOT a result of the huge tanks I saw in the casinos in Vegas. This is because I am stressed.

Goldfish are a recurring theme in my dreams, and it took me years to make the connection, but they always show up when I am under pressure. I'm not a psychologist, but I think the reason is pretty obvious: in university, I made the decision to euthanize a fish I'd had for over 8 years. He'd outgrown his tank, and outlived his peers, and no matter what I did, I couldn't get his water to stay clean and chemically balanced, which was making him sick. I felt terrible about it, but he (she?) was miserable. In those days, we didn't have the internet, so although I researched the best I could, I just couldn't find any solutions. And I didn't want him to continue to suffer with fin rot and ammonia burns. So on the advice of a pet store clerk, I put him in a bucket, and slowly let him freeze to death. (Not as cruel as it may at first sound, since fish are cold-blooded and don't, apparently, feel it). Still. I feel like a quitter when I recall the incident. And I feel like a failure.

So now, whenever I am facing a challenge, I dream about goldfish in distress. Goldfish that have leapt out of their tanks, and need to get back into the water. Goldfish that live in my basement, but whom I have forgotten about and carelessly neglected. Goldfish who have multiplied beyond reason, and now need to be re-homed.

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE goldfish. And, as I said above, that particular fish was with me from eighth grade, all the way through high school and into university. He lived (I hope) a pretty good life, as feeder fish go.

I also had these two lovelies -- Dasher and Blitzen -- with me for over five years, moving from pond to classroom with the seasons, until one day they just mysteriously vanished, without a trace. (A raccoon? A Great Blue Heron? Alien invaders?) The cat they're "talking" to is Sacha, my first "chat noir" and baby girl.

But regardless of my affection for goldfish, and my continued efforts to give them the best possible care, they haunt my dreams.

Often, I won't even consciously know that I'm feeling pressured until I have a goldfish dream, but it's obvious that my subconscious won't let me forget my guiltiest failure (I must have been able to do SOMETHING differently!) and trots it out again for me every time I'm potentially facing another.

The stressor today? A combination of things, probably. A presentation I'm scheduled to give to other teachers in mid-February. Some stuff I need to do for school. And, most likely, the revisions I got from my editor last night. I thought we were done. I was basking in the freedom of NOT having two jobs, not working late into the night, not having to negotiate for what I want to say.

But now, I'm back to stalling/blogging. It probably won't make the fish go away, but at least it gives the cat a chance to come and purr on my lap. And that is one of the greatest de-stressors I know.

P.S. As always, photo courtesy me, all rights reserved.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year's in Vegas, New Cat in the House

Happy New Year! (I know, I'm a week late already, but at least I'm saying it.) Yes, there is a new cat in my house. His name is Majik. He is not a replacement cat - he is an extra cat. Here's what happened: I saw his picture at while searching for Oliver-Henry. The picture and description (friendly, small, etc.) looked very similar, and I was hoping it was him. I emailed. It wasn't. But Kathleen, the "foster mother" likes to place homeless cats, and suggested I might take Majik and give him a home. I said I wasn't ready. But I kept thinking about him. And then, it occurred to me that although my husband would never willingly agree to two cats, he also wouldn't be so cruel as to make me give one back when Oliver-Henry comes home. So I decided to sneak an extra one in NOW, while I'm sad, and need cheering up. Bonus: black cats used to be considered good luck, and Julius Ceasar kept one for that reason. And if you read Posing as Ashley, you already know that. So now, with a little Majik in the house, Murphy's Law says Oliver-Henry's return is imminent.

As promised, this little guy is lovely. He is cuddled into my neck as I type. He squeaks softly more than mews. He is great with Spencer. And he has a fluffy tail, which is kind of fun, and nice, since the last two black cats did not, nor does Mr. M.I.A. He is believed to be about three years old, and has already had that all-important operation that will keep him home. All I know is that he was unclaimed and on death-row in a high-kill shelter in Hamilton before Toronto Cat Rescue sprung him to the foster home (she has since been able to save another, because I freed up a space in her home when I took Majik). So yes, I Googled "lost black cat Hamilton", still hoping to reunite him with whoever lost him. Sadly for them, and luckily for me, nothing came up. And that does make me a bit angry, because although I understand that not everyone will spend six months or longer searching all the shelters and rescue organizations, I would think most people could manage an internet classified. I feel badly for him that his first family isn't looking for him (or at least that I can't find them for him). On the other hand, it has been really healing for me to see how easily he's fit in here, and how quickly I fell in love again - it reminds me that even though I want Oliver-Henry back desperately, it is possible that he could be happy somewhere else, and someone else could love him lots. And that's comforting.

In other news, I was on the 401, on my way to pick Majik up, when my husband got a weekend flight to Vegas for New Year's Eve (he's a corporate pilot). I had to make a split second decision about whether or not to go, but when my mom agreed to some and critter-sit, I booked a flight to meet him down there. (Sidenote: on the way down, I had my first ever "pat-down", courtesy of airport security...) This is a picture in front of the MGM 29 seconds before midnight.

And this is me, out on the Vegas Strip right after midnight.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Tenth Good Thing about O'Henry

Oliver-Henry has been missing for almost six months. I believe he is well, and I believe I will find him. But I miss him, and I'm grieving, which reminded me of Judith Viorst's brilliant book about pet grief, The Tenth Good Thing about Barney. So here, not as an obituary, but as a refresher on who it is I'm looking for, and why he's so special:

The Tenth Good Thing about O'Henry.

1. The instant he arrived at my house, he walked right over, hopped up on the couch beside me, curled up and began to purr.
2. The instant my husband came home three days later, Oliver-Henry got off my lap, and went over to my husband, who really needed winning over.
3. Three of Oliver-Henry's multiple names start with “H” and end with “Y”, making him Oliver-Henry Harley Hershey Cat. (Take that, Duggars!)
4. As a kitten living in a barn, he got stepped on by a cow. He didn’t get medical treatment for his injuries, but he healed. And he got the ultimate revenge by eating a lot of cows my house.
5. His fur is the colour of chocolate.
6. His eyes are the colour of robins’ eggs.
7. Once, after he threw up in his kennel during a car trip, I let him out. I told him he’d have to sit perfectly still for the rest of the car ride, or for safety reasons, I'd have to confine him again. He settled into my lap and didn’t budge during the forty-five minutes it took to get home.
8. He couldn’t have understood me when I told him not to move, because he’s deaf. His deafness makes him fearless.
9. He loves to climb into the bottom of the refrigerator.
10.He’s going to come home to me in a very cool way. I can just feel it.