Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Wednesday, March 28, 2007  
Did I find you or you find me?
There was a time, before we were born,
If someone asks, this is where I'll be


First a parka, now this:
Closing
 
Well, that’s it, I am now a property tax paying citizen and resident of Chicago. I’ve got the mortgage and the parka to prove it.

Happy? Scared? Nervous? Relieved? I should feel all that and more. But instead I feel almost nothing. Not apathy, I do care on some level, the level that is the tax break. And the level that is the knowledge of what my living expenses will be for the next 30 years...I care about that level.

But, as for the rest of it, mainly I feel numb. It's been a long, difficult stressful, anxiety ridden struggle, literally for survival, or at least a roof over my head, and now that I've not only found a place to live but actually purchased a home (the House of Mirrors, HōM) it's just another move, another place.

Why the anticlimax? Why no joy and rejoicing? Why no, "Take that evil apartment management and condo development companies?" Why so little elation after all this work and stress and fear?

Because like everything else in my life the good things are always tainted with bad. I am apparently not allowed some of the basic pleasures and satisfactions in life.

I closed on the House of Mirrors at 10:30 in the morning. The Furry Creature died at 4:30 that afternoon.

Fortunately I have a fantastic lawyer who was by my side during the closing. I trust him. Which is good. Because I was in no state to be signing loads of papers regarding a huge purchase and commitment. In fact, I'm really not sure what I signed. I just kept signing and signing and initialing and signing, and my lawyer kept talking, explaining everything, but I was too numb to understand any of what he was telling me. Fortunately we'd discussed most of this prior to the closing meeting, when I was in a better mental state and was able to make conscientious decisions without the throbbing, "I need to be home, I have to go home, my cat is very ill, I have to get out of here, I never would have left him if it weren't something as important as a home closing, I have to go home, my cat is in bad shape..." thoughts beating with every heartbeat. I was physically in that room at the title company, but every ounce of the rest of me was with my cat.

He took a turn for the much worse the day before the closing. Well. Actually a few days before that, but we were trying a new medicine and hoping it would kick in and help him through the rough patch. It didn't. I knew Sunday night he was pretty much already "gone" but it was Sunday night, the vet was closed, the emergency vet clinic sucks so bad I wouldn't send a termite there, and since he was holding his own and not in any apparent pain, I had to make the difficult decision to keep him home and as comfortable as I could until I could get him to the vet. Which would have been first thing in the morning. Except I had to go sign my life away at the closing for the purchase of a home. You don't change closing dates. There are legalities about these things. There are ways to postpone them, but a dying cat is not on the list. I could have given my lawyer power of attorney, but that would have taken more papers I would have to sign - in person - so that wasn't an option. I was stuck. I was stuck having to make the worst sacrifice I could make to get to that closing. I had to leave my obviously dying cat home, alone, while I went and signed papers for our new home.

What should have been a joyous, jubilant moment and day for me was one of the worst of my life. The Universe mocked and ridiculed me again. Badly. Note the proportional ratio of mocking the Universe bestows upon me: The bigger the "treat" or good thing, the bigger and more difficult the ironic twist will be. For every action there is an equal or greater reaction. This is a rule of physics and a rule in the Universe.

Part of me didn't think he'd still be alive when I returned home, but he hung in there long enough for me to get back to him. We had a few last hours together and then we went to the vet who did the deed. I hate that it happened, but I am grateful he didn't die alone and that I was with him.

There's an O Captain! My Captain! irony to this which is not lost on me. The ship, our new home, is finally anchored, safe and sound, the long and troubled, fearful voyage finally done - the "fearful trip" is over and the object has been won. It's time for "exalt O shores, and ring O bells" because the victory is ours, in the 11th hour we not only found a place to live, we bought a home. Victory indeed. Ring O bells. "But I, with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead."

I know some people will find it far fetched and overly dramatic to reach for Walt Whitman over the loss of a cat. And maybe, so. Had it not happened on the day of the victory in our housing crisis I probably wouldn't have pulled Whitman out of my gray matter. But. As I left the vet's office Whitman's words were the ones my synapses chose to fire at me. And the metaphoric ironic poetry is not lost on me or the situation.

O captain, my captain indeed.

What has driven me through this process of apartment and house hunting has been more than a need to find a place to live. It's been the need to find a place for my cat and I to live. He's been fighting his cancer battle really well. Which is why I did everything I could to try to stay in the compartment. I didn't want to move, I didn't want to disrupt his world with the upheaval, chaos and stress of moving. But the money simply was not there. The most difficult decision and reality I've had to face in all of this was that I couldn't find a way to stay in the compartment and that I would have to throw him into the malay of moving. I felt crushed to put him through that. I felt irresponsible. So the quest for a place to live was more intense. I had to find a good place for us which I could afford. A quiet, peaceful place where he could be comfortable and spend his days relaxing and feeling safe, secure, cared for and loved. You know, a home. Our home. This fearful, anxiety ridden fight for a place to live hasn't been for me. I can stay anywhere. I have friends. There's always a flea bite motel. My office. Someplace I can stay until I find a place to live. But the cat, the Furry Creature, well, my responsibility is to provide him a safe, comfortable home. It's more than responsibility, though, I want that for him. I want it so badly for him that I have done things I didn't know I was capable of doing. I've searched high and low for a place to live which I can afford but will still offer him everything he deserves and needs.

And now, just in the darkest hour passed and the fresh dawn of a new day arrived and with it, a new home, my Furry Creature is gone.

Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head


My funny, furry, faithful, frisky, fearless, fluffy, four-legged feline friend lost his battle against cancer. Well. Actually. That's not quite right. He was doing a darned good job at keeping the lymphoma cells from spreading. But as they so often poignantly, bittersweetly say, the cure is worse than the disease.

I don't often blog about my cat. But that is not a measurement of the depth of the feeling I have for him. This isn't a cat blog, and, there are so many cat h8ers out there who for some sick reason find it funny or appropriate to make sick and violent remarks about cats. They especially like to make these remarks to people who like cats. Their hatred of cats is usually driven by abject fear. Which, is their issue, not the entire cat species'. But I find these loud mouthed bullying cat haters are often small minded, shallow people in other respects, too, so we can't really expect much from them. Interesting to note some of the most vile biggoted remarks I've heard in my life have come from the mouths of people who loudly proclaim to also hate cats. Just an observation. These people often call themselves animal lovers. What they mean to say is that they're dog lovers. But they like the altruistic sound of being an animal lover. So they'll say, "I love animals. Except cats, of course." I notce the "of course" is often added. I don't understand why it's a matter of course that an animal lover would hate cats, but, my brain doesn't work that way, and I like cats. And dogs. And all the other animals on this planet. I try not to judge, but time and again I find people who are capable of such hatred and seething contempt toward an entire species, especially when the hatred is based on nothing more than superstition or irrational fear to be untrustworthy in matters beyond cats. Anyone capable of even thinking some of the things I've heard is suspect in my book. The extreme nature of their remarks is alarming and appalling to me - if they're capable of thinking those things, especially with grand sweeping inclusion of an entire species, I shudder to think about what other hateful and violent, mean spirited, narrow minded atrocities their minds could devise. Anyway, rather then deal with the cat h8ers and violent, sometimes threatening remarks about cats and my cat, I found it's better to keep my feelings about my cat limited to places where words about cats are appreciated or enjoyed. I do understand my cat's antics and cleverness are not as amusing and amazing to other people. Though. If you met him, like everyone else who had the pleasure of knowing him, you probably would have seen some of the incredible qualities I saw in him.

And today, I'm going to blog about him. It's the least I can do for him. I should be packing up the final bits of my compartment in preparation for the move. But instead I want to talk about my cat. Because I just had to throw away the Furry Creature's precious toys, the toys he loved, and guarded (yet shared with everyone, "wanna play? I made up a new game, wanna see?"), the toys he would plop beside me or on my face expecting me to play, the toys he would line up in a row as if on inspection. The toys he would place around the apartment and routinely check to make sure they were where they were supposed to be. The toys he would carry around in his mouth. The toys he would snuggle with on trips to the vet and then timidly nudge with his paw to the vet as a sort of peace offering as if to say, "Okay, I guess that wasn't so awful. You're just doing your job, but I'm glad it's over. Wanna see my toy? It's a good one, I really like it." Those toys, his precious little playthings, had to be thrown away. I konw it's for the best. But. It sucks. I sat on the floor rocking in pain apologizing to him. Why? Because he hated it when his toys weren't where he left them. I respected this. I didn't mess with his toy placement. Ever. So throwing them away was not only difficult because of the finality of it, but also because I felt like I was insulting him.

Going into his treatment I was made aware of the options. His vet and a feline oncologist educated me on all the options and the possible outcomes. And the risks and side effects. I studied, I mean I feverishly studied every bit of information I could find on the topic and weighed the pros and cons. I made lists. I did everything I could do to make the best decision for him.

And it was working. We were giving that disease a real run for its money. The Furry Creature was a trooper throughout the whole thing - he didn't like the vet visits and the pillings, but, he dealt with it in that catlike way: Meow. Bat. Bite. Hiss. Claw. Okay. Fine. Let's get it overwith then. Sppittz. Snarky backward glance. Lick of the paw. Regain composure and dignity. Walk away. Sulk in the back of a closet for exactly 48 minutes. (just enough to make a human feel appropriately guilty and prepare a treat meriting the injustice of pilling) Casually, but with obvious pride, saunter past the human. Give a sideways rub against her leg. Sniff the proffered treat as if inspecting the worthiness of a sacrificial offering left by a disobedient heathen in a lame attempt at redemption. And here's what separates the Furry Creature from the others: Eat a few bites, enjoy heartily, then commence game time with human. After a rollicking round of soccer or attack and fetch the mouse, strike a beguiling yet approachable repose on pillow, beckoning the human. Then SNUGGLE ATTACK!!!! PURRRRRR PURRRRRR, PURRRRRR!!!!!!

Every night since June this has been our routine.

Apart from the pilling (and the pre- and post-pilling feline admonishments) that has been our routine every night since our first night together. I hesitate to call it a routine because this clever cat loved to make up new and different games. Once he made up a new game and mastered it, he'd begin devising another game. Many involved water, he was an exception to the "cats hate water" rule. His best games were water sports. He never, ever made attempts at any food which wasn't in his bowl. With one exception: A glass of water left anywhere, anywhere was fair game. After a few weeks of living with him I got used to his affinity and compelling desire to play with water. He trained me to not leave a glass or bottle of water anywhere but in the fridge or in my hand. If I left it anywhere else, I knew I would find him splashing his paw in it or would find a toy floating in it. But only once did he knock over a glass of water, and I suspect it wasn't an accident. I believe it was part of a game he was devising. My old apartment, the place where he I and I called home for several years, had a leaky bathroom faucet. The slumlord wouldn't fix it and the results of my attempts to stop the leak were never permanent. After my cat entered my life I stopped trying to fix the steady drip. Why? Because that drip of water was a constant source of delight, entertainment and interest to my cat. If the toilet seat was ever left up, he'd know it within minutes. He had a sixth sense about that. If the toilet seat was up, I would know it, too, because I would find him standing in it, knee deep in water, splashing and pawing at the drain. When he realized the toilet is capable of flushing and creating a vortex of water, he began a relentless lifetime quest for knowledge about where the water went as it swirled and splashed down the drain. He could often be found examining and pawing the back of the toilet. The shower, too, provided a daily source of interest and entertainment for him. Typically he'd perch on the side of the tub and watch the water, and every now and then the need to get to the source of the water and where it goes when it goes down the drain would get the best of him and he'd jump into the tub with me. He didn't mind getting wet and in fact seemed to enjoy it, slipping and sliding and pouncing on the drops as hit the tub and chasing the trail of water to the drain. I often muse that because of his affinity and compulsion to be near, in and around water in another life prior to this one he was a fish swimming in exotic underwater worlds or a viking sailor exploring new frontiers on the high seas. Or a plumber.

I have not needed an alarm clock since bringing this cat into my life. On schedule, every morning except on weekends (because yes, oddly, he apparently grasped the concept or rhythm of weekly work cycles), there was a purring, tickley whisker wet snout in my ear. If I was reluctant to respond, he'd bring in the secondary artillery: Huge furry wet paws patting my nose. I "caught" him in the pre-dawn act a few times. Splashing in his water bowl or in the sink, wetting his paws and splashing his snout in the water, gearing up for the day and making sure he'd be nice and wet, all the better to wake me and ensure his morning cuddles, kisses and chin scratches.

I know it sound annoying and maybe even gross. But. There are not words to articulate how much I miss that wet, tickling whiskery purring snout in my ear and wet paw on my nose.



This thing about this cat is, well, there are several things about this cat. But the overriding thing about him is how he was at the same time a "typical" cat and yet completely not like a cat. He didn't have the snobbery or attitude often associated with cats. Nor did he have the, um, well, grace. He was a big cat. And while far from being a clod (he was in fact extremely athletic) words like sylphlike and subtle are not appropriate. He loved to jump and often attempted Michael Jordan-esque record setting high jumps to a tall shelf or the holy grail of jumping feats, the top of the fridge. This is when his lack of grace was most obvious. He'd make his target, no problem, the strength in those muscular hind legs could propel him to a roof top if given the chance, but once there he would knock over something or, just stand there with an obvious look of, "hmmm, okay, now what?" and he would proceed to awkwardly move about trying to fit his long, tall body on whatever small space he'd jumped, and finding it boring up there he'd drop back down to the floor with a huge thud and move on to the next game. He was never one of those cats who gets up to a high place and stares down vulture like. He was too interested and too congenial to do that. He wasn't curious, he was interested. He was interested in everything. And determined. He'd work away at a new toy or game until he'd completely unlocked the mysteries of the toy or worked out all of the nuances of the game to his satisfaction. But he was relentless in those pursuits, never giving up until he was fully satisfied. He was also interested in whatever I was doing. He was always by my side watching and often lending what he deemed a helping paw. The computer, especially the printer, were sources of great interest to him. He was interested in people, too. He wasn't one of those cats who has to be the center of attention. He was very social and would greet every guest with a congenial greeting by walking up to them, sitting down and looking up at them with a "if you like cats I'm your guy, scratch my chin or give me a glass of water and we can be friends" look. He would often present one of his favorite toys to a guest, an offering of friendship and invitation to play. But he preferred to be part of the scene, not the center of it. He was interactive and friendly, not showy and egotistical. If anyone was visiting, he'd be right there for all the world looking as if he were understanding and interested in every word of the conversation. We're a lot alike that way (and many other ways, too). I think that's one of the main reasons we got along so well right from the start. Neither one of us is competitive, we're more behind the scenes types, the friendly, congenial brains and creativity working force types, active participants, not narcissistic divas. People would always comment on how handsome or cute he was. Sure, people say these things because it's the polite thing to do, but, in his case, the fact is, all pride and affection aside, he was truly handsome, a gorgeous feline specimen, the looks of a showcat. But not the demeanor. There was a humbleness to him, a regular guy-ness to him. He had no idea what handsome or gorgeous meant, or, if he did, he didn't see himself that way. Oh sure, he took good care of himself, kept himself fastidiously clean, but he was a neat and tidy cat in general. His grooming was borne of a clean body, mind and spirit attitude as opposed to an "I;m too sexy" attitude. He preferred to eat his crunchy food by picking it up in his massive paws, using his pads like fingers, and one by one eating the dry morsels of food. Some cats do this because they don't like to get their faces dirty or tickle their whiskers on the bowl. My cat didn't have those diva like issues. He liked to make challenges for himself, he liked to do things, and he liked to do them the interesting way, not the easy way. He had the attitude that challenging yourself is a good way to have some fun and add to the ol' skill set, too, life is all about learning. Again, we're a lot alike that way.

Last week, in the blink of an eye, he went from his normal self to a state of being which can only be described as: Fading. Several trips to the vet and many tests later, we got confirmation of the worst suspicion. The steroids which have been so effective in treating his cancer were causing difficult side effects, and a breakdown in his GI system. Weight was falling off him at an alarming rate and he became ever more listless. I knew we were in trouble when 5:30 AM hit on Wednesday and there was no wet purring whiskery snout tickling my ear or wet furry paw on my nose. It was all downhill after that. He made attempts, his best efforts, to be himself, but the increasing complications were too much for him. The spirit was still so very, very willing, but the flesh was literally too weak. I could see a glimmer of mischief in his eyes, and now and then a twitch of the tail, a small attempt to acknowledge me or act on an idea for a game, but then he seemed to realize the effort involved wa more than he could manage and thought he'd just go back to sleep instead.

I knew it was "time" when even that glimmer in the eyes was gone and the ever tell-tale twitch in his tale subsided to slight movements. He's always done this "funny" thing, a sort of response/communication: No matter what his state, sleeping, playing, cuddling, pursuing, pouncing, no matter what, whenever I say his name, or address him in any way ("I love you," "hello tiger," "hey, easy there fella," "would you like a treat?") his tail twitches noticeably. The reaction to his name or "I love you" has always produced, without fail, the most pronounced, enthusiastic and long in duration tail twitching, usually accompanied by eye contact, and a "lool," eager or inquisitive or sublime, and more often than not, he'd turn on the purr motor. A friend once noticed that saying my name would also invoke a twitch of the tail. But, when repeated "I love yous" would barely produce a slight movement in his tail, I knew he was fading. That long, big, hugely fluffy tail of communication was not responding. In there somewhere was the spirit of my dear friend trying, as ever, to acknowledge me, to respond as ever, to communicate with me, but even the biggest efforts on his part could only produce slight, barely tangible tail twitching results. And I knew It was time to do the thing I'd been dreading since the onslaught of this awful disease. I knew the day would come, I was prepared. Or. At least as prepared as you can be for this. But nonetheless, it comes down to making the "decision."

The vet suggested one last night together, a chance to say good-bye to each other. Another day, a few more hours, won't cause him any pain, she assured me.

Along with our morning furry alarm clock ritual, we have nighttime rituals. I turn on the bedside light and he knows: It's bath time. I read. He lays next to me and takes a bath and dozes. I often read out loud to him, something I find interesting or funny, and he usually responds with that slightly disconcerting look cats can have, that look of recognition of every word you say and deep thought and contemplation about those words. On our last night, when I turned on the bedside light he did not appear. I retrieved him from the other room thinking he must not have realized it was bath time. He sat there for a minute and then left me. No bath. No dozing. No reading out loud. He wasn't mad, or miffed or acting like a typical cat.

He was dying.



I love that cat. From the moment he pounced at me at the shelter I was in love. And, in whatever way animals are capable, he felt something for me, too. As an animal he may not be capable of love, but, he liked me. He really liked me. We got along great together. We didn't know it then, but, it soon became obvious we needed each other. He came into my life when I least expected it and he left the same way.

He was always so healthy, so extremely healthy. Strong. Robust. (20 pounds, and not overweight - long, tall, big, muscular, large boned, turns out he's most likely a Norwegian Forest Cat, as he embodies all physical and personality characteristics, look up a photo and description of a Wegie and you will get a description of my cat) Everything in full working order. Five months prior to his cancer diagnosis he had his yearly check-up. He was proclaimed fit and healthy as a kitten half his age. So when I noticed he wasn't acting quite like himself, sleeping a bit more, less enthused about a new toy than usual, I took him in for what I thought would be a routine trip to the vet. I thought he was probably fine and I was overreacting to him having a couple of lazy days. I thought the vet would say, "He's a cat, they can be moody, he just had a check-up, he's fine." Sadly, it turned out my intuition was right. Because one test led to another, and another and then the diagnosis was given. I was shocked. The vet was shocked. Just five months prior his blood tests were perfect. And now this. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Or a cancer diagnosis. He's too young. Too healthy. Too cool. Too special. But cancer doesn't care about any of that.

I knew one day I'd have to say good-bye, but that day was at least a few years from now. At least a few years. Given his perfect health it was reasonable to expect many more years.

Enter: Lymphoma. Exit: All reasonable expectations.




The death of a pet is one of the most difficult things us humans can endure. It's different from the death of a person. We treat our animals better than we do people in this regard: We're given, and even encouraged, to exercise the option of euthanasia for our pets. This is of course a good thing. Dignity and a humane end to suffering. However, all this enlightenment in terms of "doing what's best" comes at a price. Pets cannot speak. They can't write a living will. They depend on us to keep them healthy and happy, and perversely, we have to choose to end their lives. So it goes like this: The animal trusts us and puts blind faith in us when we bring them into our homes. We feed, shelter and care for them. This builds more trust and establishes a bond. The animal then has complete, unwavering trust in us and lets us do anything to them, with them or for them, and remains loyal. And then, in doing the right thing, we have to choose to kill them. Sure, most of us humans sit there saying it's what we'd want and it really is the most humane thing to do. And of course it is. No one wants their pet to suffer. But. It is a perverse irony that we are effectively betraying their trust in us. They don't expect us to harm them because we've only ever taken really good care of them. We always make things turn out okay for them. The pet may or may not know it's deathly ill. But for them, as in the past, they have no reason to think we won't make it better, like we always do. They trust, we do whatever we can for them and everything always works out okay. They have no reason to believe this time is any different that the other times they haven't felt well and we magically made them feel better just by going to that place with the people in lab coats and pills and needles. It's always turned out okay before, so the pet's reasonable expectation is that it will be okay this time, too. So why not now? Why is this time different? Why is that needle so much longer than the other needles in the past? Why are there tears and quiet glances?

To us humans, with reasonable, rational minds, this is the "right" thing to do. It's a benchmark of trust . If we can we be trusted to make the right decisions for an animal, even if it's a painful, difficult and terminal decision we are deemed "worthy" of having a pet. But in those moments before and after the final act of love for a pet, when other humans and their opinions of us mean nothing, when the only thing that matters is that animal and the bond and trust you've established and shared, it feels like betrayal. As much as we humans "know" this is the "right" thing to do, when that face with those whiskers looks up at your teary eyes and gives a look of confusion and concern for you, a look you've probably seen hundreds of times, all reason, logic and rationale disappear. "No, no, he's not ready, not yet, not now, there's still a little life left in him, look! look! he's aware and looking at me and no, we can't do this, not now, not yet, he trusts me, he thinks it's going to be okay, he thinks we're going to go home and have a treat and play with a new toy, he has no reason to think otherwise because that's what always happens...he trusts me with his life, I can't betray him..."




Every time I've been stressed, worried or scared, and every time I've cried, there has been a gentle paw reached out to me and a purring nuzzle and an insistence to be petted. In my darkest hours there has been a furry, purring friend by my side to comfort me and cheer me up and make me laugh. When he felt I'd carried on long enough he'd scoot away and return with a toy. He always seemed to be saying, "Okay, enough, let's forget about this for a while and have some fun. Let's play." Now those tears are falling because that paw is gone, the purr is silenced and the soft fur is not there to cuddle. The toys are gone and there are no more games. And I can't stop crying. My spirit lifter, my "snap out of it" friend ready with a diversion, a sympathetic purr, a toy and a laugh which always stops the tears is gone.



I wrote this to a friend a few years ago after yet another date gone horribly wrong. The last sentence has become one of our catch phrases. She emailed my words from a few years ago back to me today. "This," she said, "is why you're suffering over losing him. This is why anyone who knows you or knew him is suffering over losing him."

He (the date) cynically said, "I can't stand women who have a symbiotic relationship with their cat." I kind of understood what he meant, you know, crazy cat ladies. But sitting there across from him all I could think about was how much I wanted to go home...to my cat. In that moment I realized that I do have a sort of symbiotic relationship with my cat. We "get" each other. I know his moods and what he wants in each of those moods. And he knows my moods and knows exactly what I need (even if it's not what I think I want) in those moods. And we're happy to oblige each other's moods. We're good for each other. You know I don't believe in fate or destiny, not really, but, my cat makes a persuasive case for both. Our lives collided at the precise moment we both needed someone exactly like each other and we've been in sync ever since. I'm sure he could have been happy in plenty of other homes, and I'm sure I could have been happy with plenty of other cats. But I wasn't looking for a pet, at that point in my life I didn't think I could give a pet what it needed because my life was chaotic and unsettled. But he trusted me, he persuaded me to take a chance on him, he made me love him. He chose me. And I soon realized how much I needed him, that yes, my life was chaotic and unsettled, but I was suffering because of it. He brought joy and cuddles into a life that was tense and scary. I love my cat. Not to the exclusion of others (others being people or cats), not to the crazy cat lady level of dementia. But I can say, without shame or embarrassment, I much prefer my cat's company over that of many people I've met. He's accepting, nonjudgmental, friendly, funny, clever, playful, cuddly and has a voracious purr which starts the second I reach out for him or the second he reaches out to me. If symbiosis with an animal is wrong, I don't want to be right.

12:00 PM

 
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