Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To Be or Not To Be ... A Cat

Earlier today, my cat in his 'insane, savage kitty' mode managed to bite me, get into places he knows he shouldn't be and break the glass in one of the prints I have hanging on the wall, when he knocked it to the floor.    Since it was something my mother had given me just before she died, I probably overreacted, but he's been tossed off that bookshelf quite a few times and when he leaped to it, he looked at me as if taunting me and daring me to come after him again.

He doesn't get like this all the time - but when he does, I just want to scream.

Well, that's kind of what I did.  He ran away, ended up staring at me from his litter box as I ranted and raved.  I began to calm down and he went ripping around the place again.  So, I put him out on the front porch.  Don't worry, he'd already chosen to spend time out there this morning - he loves it, no matter the temperature. But, I shut the door on him and came back inside for a few minutes. Ok, I love the little bugger so I wouldn't dare leave him out very long without an escape, but DAMN I was mad at him.

A few minutes passed and I walked back over. He was standing on his back legs looking in the window.  Could he be any more pathetic?  I opened the door, he came in, wove his way around my legs, rubbed on my feet and promptly ripped back into crazy cat.  Sigh.  But, at least by then, I had calmed down.  I had to put the print up out of sight so that I didn't keep getting angry about it, but I was calmer.

Then, a friend posted a video to me (you have to watch this - it was so TB this morning).
She had no idea I was fighting with the cat (good heavens, that sounds pathetic), but as I watched it, I realized that I wasn't being fair to the cat.  He was being exactly that ... a cat.  I want him to be a dog, or at the very least - a catdog.
How many times do we do this to each other?

Our expectations of each other are so far off from who we actually are that we end up arguing and throwing tantrums.  My cat is a cat.  In fact, he's worse than just a cat - he's a kitten (who just found a way to knock one more thing off my wall as I type this - fortunately, it was only bamboo and will survive).  I want him to be all grown up and cuddly, intelligent enough to know what I want from him.  He simply wants to be a kitten.

What do you want to be when everyone expects you to be something else?  How badly does this mess us up?

I'll keep trying, I guess ... I'll keep failing, but I will keep trying.

And, since I can't NOT post a picture of him here, he's been really attracted to the light bulb in my lamp.  Everytime I pull the camera out to grab a picture, he gets interested in the camera, but I loved the way the lighting happened in this photo.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Used to Love the Library

I'm not a library person and I clearly remember the day that I went from being a library person to a non-library person.

Since Dad was a pastor, we always lived in small towns. In the 60s, it didn't seem all that simple to travel to the larger cities to find a good bookstore, so we went to the library. I began reading books early, Mom was such a reader that if she didn't have me doing something like that, she couldn't sit on the couch and read her books.  So, she taught me early.

By the time I was in fifth grade, I didn't go straight home from school, I went to the local library, which was only a couple of blocks away and right across the street from the church.  There were only 900 people in that community, so Mom never worried about me.

The librarian was a much older lady and though I can't remember her name right now, we loved each other.  She taught me how to categorize books and finally, since I was there every single day, how to put books away in their correct place and manage the card library.  I took my little legs up and down the ladders, putting books away every day after school, while she greeted the patrons. Every night I would take another pile of books home and read until I couldn't keep my eyes open.  Those were the days I learned how to hide my lamp under a bedspread so Mom and Dad would think I was sleeping. Erle Stanley Gardner's 'Perry Mason' series was pure joy for me.

We moved to a new community between my sixth and seventh grade year.  The very first thing Mom did was to walk with me to the library - about three or four blocks away. It was so much bigger, I was overwhelmed.  There was a cool kids section, with a story time happening and shelves filled with books.  My eyes nearly exploded out of my head.  Mom tried to tell the librarian how important the library had been to me and asked if I could get my own library card.  No, she said, there was only a family library card.  Mom again told the woman that I had spent as many waking hours as possible in our former library and asked if she couldn't show me around, wanting nothing more than for this woman to open up a little bit to me.  Nothing.  The woman shoved some paperwork at Mom and turned back to a few friends to begin chatting.

I remember being absolutely stunned.  I could see the look of pain on Mom's face and I recognized that this would never be a friendly home for me.  We wandered around a little bit so that we could get familiar with the layout and Mom never said a word to me. We found where all of my favorite book series were located, so that I could keep reading. When we had asked for a few of the locations, the librarian actually looked disdainful that I was reading those books. Throughout that summer, Mom did everything to help me find my way up there.   But, no one else cared whether I was there or not, they weren't interested in the books I was reading, and after a few months I was in school and began using the school library a little more and then Mom and I went looking for used book stores to keep me in books.

Since that day, I've preferred building my own library to trusting someone else to help me find books to read.  Books in any form are pure joy.  I have found worlds and people that I never would have discovered without words on the printed page. I find comfort in books, whether they are hardbound, softcover or ebooks. I love illustrations and photographs, but I don't mind a page full of words that will encourage my mind to create its own images.

And in case you thought I wouldn't put a picture of my cat in this post, you were wrong. TB is guarding my books!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Of Dreams and Kittens

I had a difficult time waking up this morning.  Actually, I had a difficult time pulling out of the dream state I'd entered. When I woke up at 5:30, I'd been told to wake up out of a dream.  That one really messed with me. In my dream, the cast of characters were creating music. Everything was happening on a grand staff in front of my eyes.  I wanted to participate, so I attempted to insert a bass clef with some notation, but it just wouldn't fit with what they were creating. I kept trying to join them, but it became more and more frustrating for all of us. My dream ended when they told me that it was time for me to wake up and quit bothering them. I saw a dot of light that was the point at which I was to wake up and whoosh, I was awake.  I don't know that I've ever had a  dream tell me to wake up and stop bothering it.

This last week has been ... intense.  My class load was a choice, but I will probably wonder all semester long if it was the right choice.  The amount of reading and writing seems a little overwhelming at the outset. It took five hours of reading just to get through the course instructions last week.  I'm taking Christian Ethics, Method and Praxis of Theology, Inductive Bible Study: Minor Prophets and John Wesley's Theology for Today. Praying ... a lot.

(I'm pretty sure that I've nearly driven friends on Facebook crazy with my pictures of my cat.  It looks like I'm going to tell his story here instead.)

Having a curious little cat makes things more interesting when I study. He insists on playing with my pencils and highlighters. Let me tell you - highlighting on my Kindle is a lot easier.

When I open a textbook, he wants to be part of everything. Sometimes I end up putting things away because I can't take his craziness.

I got him neutered last week and am hopeful that some of the male craziness will subside at this point.

Now, if I could just get him to highlight the important things for me while he flips through the pages.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

I'm a Hermit (still, again)

I'm a hermit.  I'm a terrible hermit.  I like being alone with my thoughts, my books, my worlds that I build (fiction - not insanity, I promise).

My father was a terrible hermit, which is funny because he was around people all his life as a pastor.  He would work all day long - visiting people in their homes, in the hospital, on the square, while he was walking. It seemed as if every evening there were meetings he had to attend, and on weekends, he spent Saturdays in conference meetings in Des Moines and then all day Sunday was spent at the church.  He was constantly around people.

It made it difficult to have friends over to the house, because when Dad was home, he just wanted to hide and Mom really honored that.  She didn't encourage us to have parties or large groups of friends over. She knew that Dad's need to be alone was important.  Fortunately for him, we were all pretty mobile and had lots of things to do outside the house.

When he had time, he would shut himself in their bedroom.  He might sit at his desk or lay on his bed and just read. He purchased our land in central Iowa as a place to hide. It was ok to have groups of people here for various activities, he loved sharing it with others, but more than anything he loved coming here with the family to be away from everything.

I remember trips to the cabin with Dad.  The preparation was horrendous.  He was a prickly bear, growling at all of us. The first half hour of the trip, we could watch the stress of the world drain off him.  Minute by minute passed and he became more pleasant.  He began laughing with us and telling us about the plans he had for the trip.

As Dad got older and retired, he moved close enough that he could get to the cabin within fifteen minutes.  He spent days and weeks out here, away from everyone, enjoying the peace and quiet that could be found. Again, he loved sharing the place with people, but even moreso, he loved being alone.

While I scoffed at this behavior at the time, I've since found that it is truly my behavior as well.  Even when I was working and involved in things that kept me away from the house fourteen hours a day, I began looking to carve out time when no one would be anywhere near me.  My friends rarely saw the inside of my house, I'd stay up late into the night so that I could be alone and slept when everyone else was awake and playing. I did shopping online so that my free time could be used doing things inside my head.

The funny thing is - I'm an extrovert.  Working with groups of people charges my batteries.  I always knew that no matter how much I grumbled about going to a choir rehearsal or a bible study at church, I'd feel great when I was finished. I love my friends. I love people.

But, even more than all of that love I feel for the world around me, I am a hermit.

Most people don't understand this behavior. For the most part, the world wants everyone to act in the same manner.  We should all leave our homes regularly and interact at high levels.  Community is important.  Caring for others is important. Being together is important.  Even the Bible says that it isn't good for man to be alone.

What am I supposed to do with this? Well, for now, I'm embracing the fact that I can get away with being a hermit. Seminary is going to force me to be on campus at some point, so I'll have to play nice with their requirements, but I love being allowed to think and write and read in the quiet. I love re-entering the world on my terms and leaving again whenever I can.  While some friends might not understand it and many may have written me off for it - I'm cool with that.

I don't know if I'll ever re-enter the world at the level in which I co-existed with it before this quiet time.  I really don't want to. I don't want the insanity of restaurants every night and traffic and noise, insane schedules and crazy hits to my system.

Hah. This post was going to simply tell you that I loved being alone and yet I loved having a kitty cat show up in my life.  I have pictures to share (because he's adorable) and it seems as if I've finally overwhelmed my Facebook family with my crazy cat self - they're starting to comment on it.  All of a sudden, though, it seems to have turned into a bit of a manifesto.  I didn't mean to do that.  But, there it is.