02 January 2012


Where to begin when telling the story of George....

I suppose the beginning will do.

In April of 2009 Tom and I rented a house together.  After a couple of months we noticed that our back fence seemed be a highway for neighborhood cats and squirrels.  Although the squirrels figured out quite quickly that the dogs who lived in our yard previously were gone, the cats were more skittish, and much less interested in the nuts falling from the Pecan tree.  Eventually we noticed a large orange cat passing through the yard more frequently... at some point we started calling to him to see if he was friendly.

He was friendly.

Oh boy was he friendly.  It didn't take any time at all for this cat to start hanging around looking for love.  I know he was only looking for love because I tried to feed him... many times.  From canned cat food, to canned tuna, to bits of fresh salmon, this cat was not interested in food at all.  He came around purely because he liked the attention he got from us.  Eventually we started calling him George (because, "I'm gonna love him, and squeeze him, and call him George"), and he adopted us in only the way a free-roaming outdoor-cat can.

We found that "George" actually had a home nearby, yet food was left out for him at a few homes in the neighborhood.  We finally figured out who his actual owners were, and that he actually went by "Tiger"... although I never saw him respond to that name.  We discovered that he loved chasing those stupid little bouncy balls, and once he learned that we would play ball with him, he would steal toys from other yards and bring them to us to throw.  We helped to take care of him when we discovered an abscess on his cheek and he brought us mice, birds, lizards, and one time even a rat to thank us for our love & pets.

When we knew it was time to move, we had serious discussions about whether or not to uproot George and bring him with us to our new home.  We knew this would be a selfish move, and ultimately, George was not ours to move... in all reality, George belonged to the neighborhood and it would do him more harm than good to take him from his home and transplant him into a new area.  So it was decided, George stayed where he belonged, and we began to move.

After moving all the stuff (omg! so much stuff!), there was still cleaning to do, so once Christmas was over we went back to the old place to finish up.  At one point I took a break and went into the back yard and called to him... it took about four seconds for me to hear him hit the fence then come meowing and running across the yard to say hi.  I think he missed us.  After a few minutes of hellos, he followed me around the yard while I did stuff, then when I went back inside to continue cleaning the kitchen, he found a sunny spot just outside the kitchen window and took a nap.  When I was ready to leave for the day, I went out to say goodbye, and told him I would be back the next day (or the day after)... he chased me to the door and laid down between me and the entrance for one more belly rub.

Two days later I went back to finish the last bits of cleaning, and looked for him... for that one last goodbye.  Yet, even when I called, he was nowhere to be found.  Of course, for the "great orange hunter" that wasn't too surprising, he was always out roaming and one could never be sure if he was close enough to hear the call.  I didn't worry, and figured I had said a nice goodbye the other day... I was happy with the way we left things, and didn't get all teary-eyed about it.

Saturday (12/31), Tom was at the old house to finish packing the last bits of the garage and had a conversation with one of the neighbors.  Apparently George was in a fight with either a car or a coyote and lost the battle. George spent enough time at our house that most of the neighbors assumed he was our cat... and in a way he was.  In reality, he belonged to no one... he was a free spirit, and now his spirit truly is free.

I only post this because so many friends had the opportunity to cross paths with George... and everyone saw something different in him.  Even people who weren't "cat people" had an appreciation for George. As silly as it might sound, he had a great soul, and he will be missed.

Tom made sure he had an appropriate burial - the timing ended up being such that he had the perfect place in his neighborhood. He is resting peacefully among a portion of his quarry (thanks to George, we had a miniature pet cemetery in one corner of our backyard).

He was the coolest cat I never had, and I will miss him.

26 December 2011

Finding Nostalgia

In the process of packing for our big move, there were a couple of times I noticed CSB going through photos and other nostalgic items, and realized that when I changed my life five(-ish) years ago I purged myself of a lot of memorabilia.  Not only were there a lot of memories I didn't mind not holding onto, but I didn't have a lot of space to store the things associated with memories I did want to hold on to. Moving from a four bedroom house into a converted garage shared with a two-year old forces one to make decisions about what is necessary to hold on to, and what is taking up vital space.

I spent two years living in my best friend's garage, deciding which things were important and which things were just random scraps of detritus that I would wonder about the origins of in the years to come. I learned a valuable lesson about the difference between things and memories. But, in the packing and moving of "stuff" this time I started to feel a little nostalgic for nostalgia. I wondered what things I had gotten rid of in the past that might conjure a memory or a story now.

While unpacking in our new home, I came across a stack of notebooks which had been sitting in my nightstand for a good two years until I unceremoniously grabbed them, stuffed them into a box with a bunch of other random junk, and tossed that box into a pile. 

(For me, "notebook" means a cute journal I bought, wrote on the first couple of pages, then set it off to the side until I found another cute little journal to start writing in. All too often I find that I can tear out the first few pages of any given journal in the house and have a "brand new journal".  Sometimes I take those torn out pages and tuck them into another notebook I have been writing in, and sometimes I take those pages and toss them into the nearest recycling bin or shredder.)

Today, I found the journals that were in my nightstand. They contain tidbits, comments, funny quotes, descriptions of dreams, and crazy ideas that date back to fall 2005.  One notebook contains a bunch of torn out pages from other notebooks... all of those beginnings, all of those ideas I loved enough to tear out and keep so I could do something else with the journal.  So this morning, as I'm unpacking I was just randomly unfolding pages and reading some things I had written while living in that little converted garage.  Notes I had made for myself about nice little things CSB did for me one morning before he left for work, or sweet things he has said over the years, things I had felt about him or feelings I was having about where our relationship might be going, but was too scared to voice.

One little entry particularly caught my eye.... a comment about how much I enjoy writing, yet not everything is fit for the internet, and although I enjoy writing a blog it is so important for me to keep writing in these little journals and putting my thoughts on paper.  At that point I realized that my form of nostalgia is in words.  I have notes I've written myself and random journal entries that I've written since childhood (I started keeping a diary at about 6 years old, and still have multiple books that I regularly wrote in during my childhood).  I know I don't have everything I've ever written, but I have enough bits and pieces to put together a lifetime of memories.  It may not be a story worth publishing, but someday I will take all those bits and pieces and put them in order and leave them for future generations who might be interested.

I found my nostalgia in the form of words.  Reading the things I had written, even looking at how my handwriting changed based on emotion, situation, or how tired I was (some things were actually noted as *written in the middle of the night- half asleep* or *on the beach-it is windy-next time bring a paperclip*) took me straight back to a memory... or not.  There were many odd little notations or quotes where I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote them or even what they mean.... yet, there they were, dated and a part of my history, sitting in a notebook waiting for me to revisit.

A piece of music, a swatch of fabric, a playbill, a scent, or a photograph can conjure up memories of a certain time or feelings associated with a memory... but can any of those things give one as much as words?  The words which describe concerns, thoughts, feelings you alone were experiencing at a certain point in time... beautiful words which can bring you back to a specific feeling in a moment in time.....

Words have been merely functional for me over the last couple of years, as a teacher and as a student.  Today I was reminded that words need to be more than just educational tools... words are the way to chronicle our lives, to leave tidbits of our personalities for our future generations,our future selves. Words remind us where we have come from, and how hard we have worked to be where we are.  I have found my nostalgia in words and although they don't take up much physical space, they seem to encompass my entire world.

07 December 2011

The Key

As I sat down to write about the process of moving tonight, I looked at my blog and realized how much has changed since June.  Without getting into the long gory details, I found a new job, and am now teaching elementary school (4th - 6th grade) special education in a new school district.  It is quite different... not just in the age of the students and the amount of time and energy that needs to go into younger kids, but in that this district actually supplies me with the tools I need to teach. I nearly cried when I walked into my classroom for the first time and found things like paper, pencils, and glitter paint.  Yes, glitter paint.  You have no idea how necessary that is when one is teaching elementary school.

I think my personality is a little more suited to younger kids (glitter paint excitement aside), it has been difficult to get used to how dependent they are.  The last thing a high school kid wants is for an adult to pay attention to them, I had to fight tooth and nail to get them to accept that I was going to pay attention to them and there was nothing they could do about it.  The only thing a nine or ten year old wants is for you to pay attention to them... whether it be in a good way or a bad way. It has definitely been a learning experience for all of us.

In other news, CSB, ShortBus, and I are officially home owners!

Another ridiculously long story made short, we got the keys to our first home yesterday.  It is small, but it is ours, and it is perfect for the three of us. I am so very excited about this new move, and can't wait to get into our new place.