Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feral Cats and the Power of "ick"...

It was a cool, early autumn day. The local trees are in mid-change, though no one notices because it isn’t the mountains or some far-away place that isn’t where we live. I notice. I drove with the window down, smelling the autumn air and smiling at people who must have thought I was mad. But the day was a good one.

I picked up some dinner for Laine and I. We already had a couple of Cornish game hens in the fridge, but I needed a few items to go with them. Artichokes, some crusty bread,  . ingredients for chocolate chip cookies…which consisted of a Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie log and some 2% milk… And wine, of course.

I pull into my quiet neighborhood, the trees sliding from green to yellow, some having gone as far as bright orange on the tips, making most of the trees look as if they were on fire. I wave at a woman whose name I don’t know but who’s dog I recognize. She waves back. The dog glances in my direction and then goes back to leading the woman to wherever he was taking her.

I pull into my driveway and get out with my groceries. Near the front door sits a solid grey cat. I’ve never seen the cat before, so I figure it must have come with one of my new neighbors. I advance toward my house, figuring the little scamp will skitter away as soon as I get within ten feet. But, no, this grey feline is brave. And I notice for the first time that he’s eating something near my front door. Not just eating but gorging himself on something. I smile, thinking something like, “aww, the little guy has found himself a prize from someone’s trash.” It was a very Leave It To Beaver moment.

I walked past to my door and the cat barely looks up at me. Kudos. I reach into my pocket to pull out my keys and look down at the cat to see if he has a collar. He does not. I glance to see what it is he’s eating. I guess I was expecting a chicken bone, or a fish head like in those old Disney cartoons. What I wasn’t expecting was watching this cat open its tiny jaws and crunch down on what I think was a robin’s skull.

“Are you kidding me?” I yell to no one in particular, taking a few steps back as if the robin might try to jump up onto my pants leg or something. “Help me, help me!” Or maybe I was worried about dead bird goo getting on my Old Navy jeans. I mean, I paid $11 for these. I’m not about to get Robin brains all over them. Or maybe I was just freaked out. I mean, this was fucking gross! 

I’ve seen my share of death. Hell, I even have a cat. I know I’m statin’ the obvious here, but that’s what cats DO. Still, I couldn’t get my key into the front door lock fast enough. And once I was inside I ran for the kitchen window and stared out at the grey cat and his feast in a combination of fascination, horror and disgust. I couldn’t get the narrator from that Honey Badger video out of my head. “Ew, gross.”

I watched for a full two or three minutes before the cat grabbed what was left of his Kibble’s and Bird Bits and went to go finish in someone else’s yard, leaving nothing but a few stray feathers. And I’m not going to lie: I was relieved to see it go. I took a deep breath and tried to clear this live action Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom out of my mind’s eye.

I start pulling my groceries out of the two plastic bags and open the refrigerator. Two Cornish game hens staring back at me.

Maybe it’s not too late to pick up a few steaks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Living with Intent and other voodoo...

There is some hocus pocus out there that says you can get what you want in life just by thinking about it. You may call it the Law of Attraction, or Living With Intent, or The Secret, or so many other names. Do I subscribe to this nonsense? Do I believe that “what we think about, we bring about”?

I’m going to have to say yes, but not because I think some genie is going to hear my intentions and make all my dreams come true, or even that God will hear my innermost desires and will start opening doors for me just because He likes me to say things out loud. I believe it because I’ve seen it work and I have a limited understanding of how the attention span of human beings works. It’s all about our limited attention span.
If I tell you to look out your window and spot everything yellow, you will be able to spot yellow things as if they were shining beacons, like they were calling to you. What you might miss are all of the blue, or red, or purple objects. If I ask to borrow your favorite book, you aren’t reading all those titles on your bookshelf. You’re scanning for the red spine that you remember. The rest tends to fall to the wayside.

And so it is with anything. If you wake up in the morning thinking about how shitty your day is going to be, you will notice all the shitty things about the day: the four red lights you caught on the way to work, the fact that the coffee was cold when you got into the office, the weird smell in your basement, the lack of anything appetizing in your refrigerator. “Figures. I should have known there weren’t any Marie Calendar Chicken Pot Pies left in the freezer. Foo.”

But, when you say to yourself that you want to solve your writer’s dilemma then you tend to overhear people who are talking about writing at a table near you, or you introduce yourself to a woman and find out that she happens to teach creative writing. I don’t believe that this is fate or magic or kismet. It’s that you are primed to hear about writing today. If you were thinking about getting some new boots today and you ran into the same woman (and she happened to be wearing great boots), you would notice her footwear and ask her where she got them. And you would probably have no idea that she taught writing workshops, if you even heard her mention it because you were too busy looking at her kick-ass boots!  We see what we are primed to see.

I know I’m just statin’ the obvious, but why don’t we make ourselves see the things that will help us become the people we want to be? Why not state your desires first thing in the morning; out loud, to yourself, to your wife or to a voodoo doll that looks like David Hasselhoff? I doubt you’ll win the lottery just because you say you will, but I bet you’ll hear about a ton of lottery winners and talk to others that play the lottery and hear what the Powerball is up to today. Instead, let’s say you were focused on learning to dance. I’m willing to bet that you’ll overhear people talking about great places to dance, great teachers that have moved to the area, or maybe you’ll be driving along and happen to see a small sign for a new dance studio with cheap enrollment. Fate? Sure, if that makes you feel all magicky inside. Either way, it works.

So, what do you want to learn or have or be? Why not think about it a little harder every day rather than saving it for that once-a-month dream session you have after a few too many vodka tonics? See how many opportunities you spot.

And if I’m wrong, you spent a few extra minutes thinking about something that brings you pleasure.  Sue me.