Cat Personality

I always wanted a puppy. A full-of-love bounding everywhere puppy who would grow into the most loving dog.

My parents said no. But every birthday, I asked shamelessly.

In college, my roommate was a cat lover. My friend was a cat owner. I loved listening to her stories and looking at pictures. I bought calendars with kittens on it. I still wanted a dog, but I admired feline friends – from afar. I hadn’t gotten over my childhood folly of being scratched by a tabby when I pulled his tail to keep him from leaving my side. I never had that problem with dogs! Such friendly creatures, they loved my company!

When Rich and I started dating, I met his fat sleepy cat. Grumpy faced, I never know what he’s thinking but I can make him purr but brushing his Persian coat. Pretty docile and independent, he isn’t a cat to play with, but a good companion to have next while relaxing, thinking, writing, or watching a movie.

Just the same, on my 22nd birthday I asked my parents, “You’re getting me a dog right?”
Nope.

I decided the only way to spend time with animals was to volunteer at a shelter. Rich recommended the shelter a block from his house, Angel Paws. So I decided to check it out.
I said hello to all the kitties, some of whom I had to be rescued from by Rich because I didn’t know they didn’t like to be touched.
By chance, I met Indigo. I was eyeing a gray beauty named Cassandra, wondering if I could foster her, when I thought it would be rude to ignore the cat under Cassandra’s cage. I let Indigo sniff my fingers and to my surprise, she licked me!

I have tried to persuade Rich’s cat to lick me. I have held kibble in my palm, stuck my fingers out while he is cleaning himself, scratched him on his hindquarters (that makes him lick anything in front of him), but he only licks Rich.
Then there was Indigo.

Needless to say, Indigo’s been a part of my family for the last four months now. I can’t imagine life without her.
She’s a wily cat, very talkative, loves her play mice, energetic in doses and a great cuddle machine. Irony is I’m a lot like her. I used to pride myself in being energetic and bubbly but it comes in waves and I would tire out after my spurt of socialness (the basic lifestyle of an extrovert who is really an introvert). As I am a proud cat owner, I accept myself a little bit more each day.

The way Indigo will be chasing a squeaky mouse and then get distracted by the window? I won’t tell you how many times I checked my phone while typing this. Indigo nibbled on my boiled chicken that I was going to put in my salad, so I made her her own boiled chicken and she didn’t eat it. Rich is always surprised I can stop from devouring his meals after one bite. We just want a taste! And who doesn’t love to sleep?

This year for my 23rd birthday I won’t be asking for a dog. I love being on my couch with Indigo when we’re done running for the laser dot. (That’s right, I run too to give Indigo the fullest experience of the dot trailing everywhere in the apartment.) I just want to focus on one pet for now.

When I told people I had adopted Indigo, some of the reactions I got were, “Oh. Why?”
Those people don’t understand what a pet is. It’s not an ideal animal you want in your lifestyle, it’s the animal you bond with.

As I give favored head rubs to Indigo, the clock ticking forward to a late hour, I know that she’ll wake me up at 5:30am, up on her hindlegs, paws on the bed by my head and meowing very loudly. I don’t begrudge her because I love her. It’s a small price I pay for all the cuddles I get.

 

 

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Haven for the Friendless

It’s Rutgers’ Day, and I am at Barnes & Nobles on campus. It’s so quiet. All the students have put off studying to enjoy the university wide celebration of all the clubs and booths representing the school.

I like it quiet. I feel – safe.

It’s not quite the word I want but walking through the crowds to get to Barnes & Nobles made me anxious. A Rutgers alum I chose to revisit, but every corner has people milling around. It makes me uncomfortable.

I don’t know when it started. I don’t THINK it was always like this. I was shy and clung to comforts in a new setting – be it my mom, friends or my purse with a stuffed animal and a notebook – but I didn’t always run away. Probably because I didn’t know if I could or where I could.
In high school, I got creative. I would save library passes and reuse them to cut classes if I’d forgotten an assignment or if I felt overwhelmed to do a presentation I would hide in the bathroom. That way I wasn’t cutting school. I would just disappear for a period. I never got caught.

Correction: I did get caught once. I skipped lunch in the cafeteria because I’d had a fight with my friend and having no one else to sit with, I chose to eat in the bathroom. Mind you, the upstairs B wing of J.P. Stevens High School was brand new and contemporary. Since the wing was so far away, it was inconvenient to use. I never had to deal with odors or flushing sounds while I ate in the handicapped stall.
But I got caught sitting on the floor. Some girl thought I’d fainted and went to get a teacher. I had to go along with the whole charade – they got a wheelchair for me, took me to the nurse, I was sent home, my dad hovered over me all day.

It was better than admitting I had no friends.

It’s different now. I do have more people in my life. Still, very few know.
Anxiety: I’m sitting and my mind is running, running, running, my heart won’t slow down. There’s no reason and there’s a million reasons: what if I embarrass myself, what if people see I’m walking by myself, what will people think of me, what if I’m the loner freak, what if I see someone I used to know, what will I say to them, I want to hide, run run run.

Those who know have told me to push past it, get over it, I’ll be fine. But when I force myself out there, I stand around the fringes of my community tentatively smiling, uttering nothing, feeling like a bigger freak.
It’s not worth it.
All I know is from the quiet second story surrounded by literatures – written by authors who may have once felt like me – I look out the bay windows and see people walking around in pairs and groups. Solitary, I feel comfortable in the intellectuals’ haven.

 

 

 

 

kismet: a writer never quits

When the sun wakes up, shadows don’t fade
they’re lurking in corners, seeped deep into pavement cracks.
When your shoe snags you trip you see your own shadow:
your choice not to see where you were headed.

Patterns cannot be broken without an epiphany aspired by the mundane repetition translating into a perpetuating cycle that can heave anxiety into the humblest.

Under the surging wet white thicket, I was blind in the darkness left by the power outage. Deadlines not met, roads divided by electric lines, distanced from love, the ember of my inadequacy sparked once more. Old fashioned I returned to pen to paper, relearning my qualms are my birthmarks.

Chronicled: why is my cat throwing up is she dying/ I can’t lose power not me I have lesson plans to make/ I just moved out now I have to move back in with my parents?!/ great curfew again am I too old to be sneaking out/ how can I grow up if they can’t even trust me/ please never leave me cat I love you/ need to meet all deadlines!/ hold me my love.

compact cotton candy into a pebble
the appeal to savor fluff dried up to
reach sugar high capacity is a dare dismissed

ten commands given, none followed
my chest cavity ached, hollow and cracking inwardly
the torch of joy crisped when I stopped
looking at myself in the mirror

So I wrote my way home.

sunrise

I don’t need an alarm to wake me. I keep my shades open. When the big star breaks the horizon, its brightness spills onto my bed. Facing the wall or the window, my room is washed with muddled hues of a grapefruit.

Forgiveness is like burning water and boiling it the same way routinely. A festering grudge takes effort to retain like a can of beans without a can opener. A damp towel you can’t shake off, your trip to the beach will always be tainted by the crab pinching your toe than the shells you collected.

When I was a little girl, my dad took my mom and me everywhere. His enthusiasm was my calm inspiration to daydream on long car drives and energy to keep walking on my own five year old feet when exploring.
I don’t recollect more. My prime flashbulb moments are fixated in the duration of the acme of my teens. Clanging cymbals of disagreements, no math homework help or driving lesson was without verbal talons streaking across each other’s hearts.

Clouds are amorphous. On stratus days, you’re a dulled kitchen knife. But puffy cumulus days, painting with shaving cream, giggle and wonder at all possibilities.

A sailor drifts on sea to value land and appreciate the waves that carry him forward.
I wouldn’t know how to drive if it weren’t for my father. I managed to pass calculus because of him. Today when I get frustrated at work, I call him on my drive home and he listens to me rant. I can’t tell him what’s in my heart and he doesn’t ask limiting any disapproval to be spoken. Instead, we watch hours of television together, our silent communication solid through our shared laughter and tears watching comedic shows and Hallmark movies.

For every negative comment, it takes five positive comments to bring you back to state of balance. My wavering self-confidence tells me there’s still gold emotion coins to be earned. But as sun shines fiercely marking a new day, striving to be positive will set a precedent of a mindset that will react with patience and acceptance – for myself from my own eyes.

take my hand dearie

I’m going to be a cat mom!
Last Friday night I went to an animal shelter looking to offer my services to foster a cat, but I found myself falling in love with a two year old black American shorthair. Indigo was friendly, the first cat to lick my fingers on her own accord. Quiet and reserved yet welcoming of all belly scratches, I went home that night unable to stop thinking about her.
So I went back the next day. She was curled up in a little bed in a middle crate, but when Indigo saw me she started pacing in her little room. When I went over to pet her – made a beeline straight to her really – she kept trying to stand up on her hind legs. I realized quickly she wanted to be held and I picked her up in my arms where she nestled comfortably.
She’s my family now. In my head. In two days, I will officially be welcoming her home.
I’ve been waking up dreaming about cats, excited but there’s worry in it too. I fear I jumped in too impulsively and financially I will not be able to take care of her in the future. Here I am, living all by myself and just learning to pay all my bills, am I ready to take care of another life?
But I can’t imagine her in anyone else’s life. I want to give her the best life. I believe that desire will help me do just that.
Unfortunately, there’s another stress: I cannot tell my parents I am getting a cat. They believe that I will move in with them when my lease expires. They see me living on my own as an experiment that will teach me life is too rough and I will go back to them. They live in an apartment that doesn’t allow cats so they made it clear I couldn’t get one because what if I have to live with them again?
Yes, expenses are high – rent, insurance, grocery, electric and Wifi and on top of all this cat bills. But how can it be that I live on my own and I am still plagued by what my parents think of me?
I’m a loner girl whose only constant in her life was her parents. Yet, their love always feels conditional – like if I don’t meet their expectations they’ll stop loving me.
I didn’t tell them when I bought a car. I didn’t tell them I was moving out until I got my keys. I can’t tell them I will have a precious life I am responsible for. They see me as impulsive – and I am. But I follow through. How can I know what I am capable of if my parents fear hold me back?
I know being a cat mom isn’t like having an actual baby (thank goodness, nowhere close to that yet at 22), but I have so much love to give. If I can share a little bit of the little luck I have with a precious life, I have to take that chance.
My favorite quote is by Emily Dickinson: if I can stop one heart from breaking in vain, I shall not live in vain. I hope I can make that difference.

rebel strikes back

Why is the first reaction to criticism rejection? It’s this automatic reaction to save our prides. It stings worse when you’ve actually made an effort.

I checked my email to see if I got comments on my guided reading lesson plans. Occasionally there are a few formatting slights or material presentation misprints and sometimes I’m lucky enough that I did it right. But today there were more comments than the first time I wrote my plans back in September and it was unnerving realizing I had to edit twelve lesson plans. It’s hard enough to write that many in a week with deadlines of subject lessons plans and homework creation. My mood soured.

Since the last testing round, guided reading has changed in our school. While in the long run, once we teachers have fully grasped all the changes and have well-oiled implementation, our scholars will fully benefit from the change in style that allows them to learn to read while increasing their schema, right now we teachers are in the same boat as leadership. The information that is coming down to us is in a narrow pipeline and with no exemplary model to follow, we try and fail and get a thousand edits that leave me with more questions than answers. What am I doing right?

Our school has an education consultant who makes the trek from Brooklyn to Plainfield to help fortify the foundation of our school. A lovely lady she works with each teacher one to one listening to their questions and goals and then assisting them in improving their outcomes. Apparently what I gathered from our discussion from our meeting earlier this week was misinterpreted; I accepted the tip of the iceberg as the whole rather than delve into the frigid waters of the big picture.

We start our reading with a text presentation, a hook question if you may, like the one I started with at the beginning of this entry. Over the last few months I’ve been told to do it differently: from writing an engaging question that opens a discussion to asking a yes/no question that scholars can answer by showing a thumbs up and down to. Now to promote more usage of schema – which is much needed – I thought the consultant wanted us to present the text’s big picture in the question. For example, if the leveled reading book is called Banana Sometimes and on each page there is a pattern in which readers are told what bananas sometimes look like, it is best to create a hook based on. Thus to my scholars I asked, what do bananas sometimes look like? I let them talk to their partners before they shared out and then I was able to tie in their answers to how the book would read and what the book would tell us about bananas.

Wrong. Apparently, the big picture is much bigger. In the case of the aforementioned text in which a boy is playing with his banana as a boat, phone, spider, fingers, pencil, he is really using his imagination to pretend what the banana could be. Thus, my opening question should have been about how my scholars use their imagination to play with – a pencil. Then I would take their experience/replies and connect it to the book’s big picture to allow for a growth in schema by comparison of practice and told by story.

I get it. I understand it. But I was looking forward to my Thursday night with no work to do. Because every night I come home and I have some preparation to do, some email to answer, some plan to write. When you’re a teacher, you can try, but you can’t really turn it off. There’s just too much to do.
And today that made me want to scream. Because if the edits were given sooner, if I had prep longer than twenty minutes, if there was a quiet place for me to think during my prep, if this distinction was made clear before with a model, if if if if if if.
I still have to get it done. But I was told by tomorrow afternoon so I chose not tonight. Even though I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

Tirelessly I try to exceed expectations and face responsibilities with optimism, but I’m stifling the kid inside of me. And she’s banging on my heart to get out. The devil on my shoulder whispers for me to look for a mundane 9 to 5 ticktock workplace, but the kid in me ignores that. She just wants me to remember the fun parts of work: the challenge of coming up with sentences that the scholars can read and have sight words, finding new ways to make lesson plans engaging with videos and stories and hands on activities, doing arts and crafts to make classroom decorations, laminating for literacy centers. Still teaching related but sometimes the brain wants to follow the heart.

Let it. What good are you to anyone if you are dead at heart?

just another day

The date may change tomorrow, but I don’t see today as an ending.
I used to. I would make a list of New Year Resolutions, the primary one always no romantic entanglements. But I could never help myself.
When a new year rolled around, I thought change was necessary: my chance to fix everything that went wrong the prior year. I don’t think that anymore.

Don’t make a new you.

– All the past years have made you become who you are.

– The memories you don’t want to look back on? Do it. Because you overcame it. Only you have the power to stop the past from holding you back.

– Increase growth mindset. When you believe you can, you will.

– Don’t diet. Use replacement healthy snacks/drinks at a timely manner. Munching on nuts and smoothies is really yummy!

– Write in a planner or a bullet journal. It will help with efficient use of time while limiting ghost hunger pangs from rising or negative ruminations from nipping.

– Commit to the things that are in your planner. Don’t just use it for chores, use it to list things you’re excited to do: watch The Greatest Showman or a day trip to a new local venue.

– Read a book or watch a show with a happy ending. Game of Thrones is a work of art, but miracles of kindness exist too.

Tomorrow is just another day. But what you do with it will make it special.

With the temperature freezing, I know I will be indoors frantically trying to complete making homework and lesson plans before work on Tuesday. But I’ll be doing it eating delicious chicken broccoli soup and binging The Mindy Project after. I’ll be turning the small things into big things as I savor it all.