Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm Still Hungry...

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

To Do Any Sort of Blogging -- Whether Clever or Not

During my commute home the other evening, I said, "Mom, we're going to the Cat Show at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. I know you can't relate [-- my mom has not had pets since she was a young girl --] but our cats give me the purest, most innocent pleasure. I just love it when they're curled up in my lap."

"Don't you think you gave me such pleasure?" my mother asked, "You were darling babies."

"I was a good baby, you said, wasn't I? Not colicky, right?"


Days later, I'm still thinking about my mother's analogy. I can only imagine the delight that babies give their parents when they're being adorable -- not only the cuteness itself, but the marvel that the darling babies actually came from their own bodies.

"I can totally see why people are ok with adopting kids," I said, "Because we adopted these cats and they are seamlessly part of our family now." Five years ago, Pat and I opted not to adopt a child after I was unable to conceive through nine IUI attempts because my selfishness wanted only a baby that contained my genes.

A New Sort of Love

And I know I missed out by our not raising a child. I know only because I see how easily impressed I am by our kitties. Not having given birth or raised a child, I will never experience that giant joy, where I could take a bit of genetic credit for the child's loveliness. And I know this is hard to write about, as I just fell asleep at the keyboard for a few minutes, though I had a nice night's sleep last night.

Still, genetically ours or not, these cats, Phoebe and Toonces, trigger a mothering love in me that I didn't really know was there -- when I babysat infants, toddlers and young children at ages 13-16, I was more interested in watching "The Love Boat;" "Fantasy Island;" and "Saturday Night Live" on TV and in what I'd eat from the family's fridge and cupboards after the kids went to sleep than in practicing for future motherhood through them.

The cats are much easier to care for, I'm confident, than human children or even dogs, as they require only that we feed them twice a day and that we clean their kitty litter. What's harder is that they are affectionate nearly exclusively when they feel like I've already had mini-heartbreaks since their arrival, i.e., whenever I'm feeling that I want to hold and/or pet one of them, and she's not in the mood. Only autistic children shy away from affection, and I've never heard of an autistic dog; they're almost always eager to be petted or to kiss people around them -- as long as no one has ever abused them.

In "The Wall Street Journal" this weekend, I read an interview of Nobel-Prize-winning author, Doris Lessing, on cats. She talked of one she adopted, who had been abused, and who had hid under her sofa for the whole first year she lived in her home. I thought, Not bad that Toonces came out of the rafters within a couple of weeks!

Toonces had been the pet of a mentally-ill man, who had stopped taking his medication, and so she was super-skittish, and even a bit naughty at first; it's why we named her Toonces, as I think I described in a July blog entry.

With Phoebe, between this posting and the previous one, I tried getting her to dance along with Randy Crawford's and The Crusaders' "Street Life" video on YouTube. She was a good sport. She didn't jump down off of my lap. Also, I showed her a few YouTube videos of cats and when I reached out to touch the one on screen she lunged forward with her paw at the cat and began to climb up on the keyboard. I had to take her down and change the picture on the screen.

Our Cats are Better than Any in the Cat Show

Being at the Cat Show yesterday made me miss Phoebe and Toonces. After walking past portable pet carriers and cage after cage of exotic varieties, I said to Pat, "Who needs this when we have our own show at home?"

When we entered the hall, I was amused by two cages, side by side, each festooned with red, white and blue, of a "Republicat" and "Democat." The Republicat had rich, gray fur and the Democat had a shiny black coat. A woman next to us exclaimed, "Oh, how funny! The Republican one is gray and the Democrat's black!"

Other than that, there was a demo by two Hollywood animal trainers on how to clicker-train your cat to sit and lie down, and to let you brush its teeth, plus some other tricks we'd not try at home, like walking a double tight rope, and then there were rows and rows of cats that were cooped up in nylon and clear plastic carriers, who kept rubbing their bodies against the soft walls, and who made me feel guilty at my freedom.

Cats Don't Think About the Economy Like We Do

Afterwards, we walked in search of lunch and remembered a great place, where we'd been before, Angus McIndoe Restaurant. While we ate, Pat reminded me, as she seems to have done every time we've eaten out in the past several weeks, that is, probably two or three times, "You know, Suze Orman says to stop eating out, but if we do that, then what happens to the restaurants, and to the businesses that supply the restaurants?"

I think about how much more anxious we'd be feeling now if we had succeeded in having a child. And then I remember my own scary childhood during the '70s recession. My dad was out of work for more than a year then. We almost moved to Tehran, where my father thought he would be helping to consult on the building of a toy factory, but the opportunity didn't materialize. That's probably when I began earnestly using bikeriding and radio-music for escapes.

I just found "The Top 100 Seventies Singles," and the ones that moved me most during that scary time, as an eight- and nine-year-old, were, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree;" "Delta Dawn;" "Come and Get Your Love;" "Seasons in the Sun;" and "Sunshine on My Shoulders." Everyone, but "Sunshine," was beat-ful, and most were also cheerful, which have turned out to be my lifelong criteria for my favorite music.

Watching "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, it struck me that a good result of this tumultuous time is how much funny comedy it's yielding. I think everyone's art is going to become more and more inspired and more and more interesting, including mine, I pray.

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