Monday, September 12, 2011

Where I Was When the World Stopped Turning...

This morning, I woke up in a hotel room in Kentucky, and thought, "hmm, maybe I'll go swimming in the pool." I nudged the hubs, and we made a few motions towards getting up, and getting ready. Then I looked at the clock. I paused. I looked at the hubs.

"You ready to go?"
"Honey, look at the time."
"We have time - we have a couple of hours."
"No... the time... its 8:30."

He turned the TV on. And, not for the first time in the last ten years, I cried. Not the weeping sobs of the Tuesday, but just... silent weeping. I grieved for the families who lost their loved ones. And I cried for my country, another generation's lost innocence. For all the soldiers and innocent people who have lost their lives since that day. For ... I don't know, really. For the tangible and intangible sacrifices we have made since then.

I thought I had written in the past about my experience on September 11. I have some sentimental comments from Septembers past, but I've never actually talked about that day on here. It seems appropriate on this 10th anniversary to take a moment to pause, reflect and remember.

I was working at a small church daycare. I was the teacher for the one year old class, and it was changing time. I remember, so clearly, standing at the changing table with one of my kiddos, when my boss Rogina walked out of her office. I wasn't the only adult in the room, but for some reason, she directed her comment to me. Perhaps because she knew my father was former military?

"It looks like someone fired a missile at the World Trade Center in New York! I think it was a training accident or something."

"Rogina, no way! They would never have those kind of exercises in the middle of a city! They have to have it wrong."

I finished what I was doing, and got the kids set up with their mid-morning snack. Leaving under the watchful eye of another teacher, I popped into Rogina's office to figure out what was going on. The second plane hit right before I walked in.She had a little six inch black and white TV in her office. I remember the newsman's voice, I think it was Tom Brokaw. I remember realizing that it was a plane, and that probably hundreds of people had lost their lives.

And then the first tower fell.

And I could only stand there in stunned silence, tears streaming down my face.

I remember the sound of the announcer on TV, who sounded and stunned and heartsick as I felt.

I remember the sound of Shawnelle's laugh in the other room, playing with the babies.

I remember trying to explain to Rogina, and to the other adults, why this was SO bad.

I didn't find out about the Pentagon until my mom came to pick me up to take me to school. I was in community college at the time, and Spanish was my only Tuesday class. I had a test that day, there was no way I could skip. She and I were listening to the radio, crying, and remembering how scary it was for military families after the Oklahoma City bombings (bases locked down, no one knew if other attacks were imminent, and anti-military protesters appeared practically out of nowhere waving their signs and shouting at people as the went on and off base.)

At some point between work and school, I moved into a state of numb shock. We knew we needed to call Aunt Doris and Uncle Ed (my grandfather's brother and sister-in-law) to find out about my dad's cousin Mark. And I knew I needed to focus on my test.

By the time I got to class, the word "terrorism" was echoing through the halls. Our professor asked us if we wanted to put the test off, and in a burst of (useless but personally satisfying) patriotism, we decided we weren't going to let the terrorists "win" by causing us to completely disrupt our lives. So we took that test. And every single student, save one older lady, failed it. (I distinctly recall that I ended every single conjugated verb with -ando. Yeahhh, that's not a verb ending at all. Ever.)

We found out MUCH later that Mark was fine. And I felt closer to the strangers in the grocery store than to some of my friends. There was this sense of shared suffering, shared tragedy, and if you smiled at a stranger, it was a sad smile, because you were both thinking of the same thing.

It is still surprisingly difficult for me to talk about this. In 2003, I wrote that I hoped I would never forget.

I haven't.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Object Permanence

I was recently reading an issue of Parade Magazine© I am so cool, and came across an article about Cats vs. Dogs. The general discussion about which of the two was more intelligent spilled over into my living room, as the hubs and I discussed our different experiences with the two species. (The article, by the way, had dogs edging out cats for relative intelligence levels, with the caveat that cats have the same level of intelligence across each breed, whereas the intelligence level of dogs can vary depending on the type.)

Among the traits in which dogs excelled over cats was object permanence, and all of the sudden, I understood so much about why Minion is absolutely insane.

When he wanders around the house at night, yowling in misery at the unfairness of a life where his every need is catered to, he thinks we don't exist anymore. When I walk out of the room, our cat thinks we have ABANDONED HIM. FOREVER. AND NOW HE IS DOOMED TO WALK THE EARTH LIKE CAIN. ALONE. AND UNLOVED. IN THE RAIN.

This also explains why he thinks, if he hides under the bench after doing some horrendously disgusting and/or bad thing, we won't be able to find him. If he can't see us, we can't see him! He hides in the same place every time. And he seems shocked, shocked, that we thought to look there.

Minion, I have news for you: The spray bottle sees all. The spray bottle knows all.

Editor's Note:

To be fair, Daisy always hides in the same place, too. However, the times where I chase her through the house, in a homicidal rage, wielding the water bottle like an UZI and screaming "DIE DIE DIE, you foul creature whose soul will be damned for all eternity if you do not repent of your evil ways and I will begin your torment right now!" are far fewer, so the issue rarely comes up.

Diego, on the other hand, is the ghost cat. When he wants to disappear, no one can find him. One day last year, one of the cats (i.e. Minion) busted through the screen door while the hubs was napping, and he awoke to find all of the cats gone. Daisy was sitting on the porch, as she is not terribly fond of OUTSIDE. Minion - being served justly by karma - was captured by neighborhood children who only wanted to show him love. BWAHAHA. The hubs searched high and low for Diego. He had friends, neighbors, and local children searching the neighborhood for him. He tore the whole house apart, looked in every room, looked in and under every piece of furniture. And in the end, he sat in a chair on the back porch, staring at an open can of tuna, and forlornly hoping for his beloved kitty to come home (I'm not mocking here, he really loves that cat.) I was very sad for him, and didn't know what to do. So, I sat on the couch, and was probably watching TV or reading, when across the living room strolls Diego. I started laughing, and said, "Uhm, Hunny? Diego is walking through the living room." The hubs silently stood up, calmly put away the chair, very precisely came in, closed and locked the screen door, sat down, and didn't speak a word for an hour. He did get this really crazed look in his eye, and I thought it behooved me not to mock and/or tease him. He was like a black hole for light, and sound, and happiness. His was the righteous anger born of love and fear - the kind of anger you cannot even direct at the one who caused it.

However, I may have spent the whole hour choking back giggles.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Reluctant Kitteh Mommeh

I have three cats.

I should say, I married a man with three cats, one of whom ended up there becauseof me. Anyway.

They have very distinct personalities, and we often find ourselves talking to people about them as if they were our children.

Occasionally, I also treat them like children. With the yelling and the spankings.

In the year and four months I have been married, I've discovered something very important about myself: I am a dog person. I do not have enough patience.

Diego de la sofa. They all have fancy names. barfs on the couch/hand-crocheted rug from my grandmother/my suit jacket/in my laundry basket? Yell at the guilty cat.

Find bits and pieces of my expensive living room rug strewn about the house? Holler at the guilty cat(s).

Hear a cat ripping yet more pieces of my sanity plaster/wood/fabric out of the walls/floor/door posts/couch? You guessed it: commence with the yelling.

Cleaning the litter box makes me bitter. Lint rolling the cat hair off my clothes/furniture makes me roll my eyes.

They only way I could teach Daisy to stop biting/hissing/turning into the little girl from the exorcist was to spank her. Yep. I spanked my angry, hissing, clawing female cat.

And do you know how much cat food costs? The kind that limits the barfing to the items listed above, and doesn't end up in thousands of gooey, warm wet piles ALL OVER MY HOUSE? A lot. And we live in constant fear that the only grocery stores where we can find our expensive, very specific "salmon and brown rice" kibble will stop selling our brand.

And then there is Stank Cat the Bad. (Aka Minion Underfoot, Destroyer of Worlds. True Story.) People always ask,"What kind of crazy person bathes a cat???" I will tell you who: The sad saps people with the cat who revels in smelling like a nasty dog. He eats nasty things and ends up with breath that could raise the dead. And then kill them again. He farts


and you fear the world is ending. He regularly starts fight with Daisy Doomsayer,Queen of the Underworld, fights which involve hissing/growling/biting/clawing all over my house.

                             And my bed.

                                                          With me in it.

And did I mention how much he stinks? And also that he has tried repeatedly to climb up the chimney?

He's a sneaky one, though. Whenever women who


visit, Minion goes into cute mode. The one where that person is clearly a gift from above whom he must rub against, cuddle, purr at, and generally act towards as though he is never the spawn of basement cat.

Even though he is.

My favorite I'm lying new chore is when I get to clip their claws. SO FUN. Would you like to see my scars?

And after dealing with all this, and making generous use of the spray bottle filled with water, I can only come to one conclusion:

Lord, please help me whenever I do have kids. I'm not sure I'll survive.