Friday, March 31, 2006

A New Baby At Our House, Soon.

The newest member in our family made the "front pages" today...of A Twist of Kate, that is.... Freya, our soon-to-be-adopted kitten is pictured with her sibling, Domino, in Kate's Photo Friday post.

She's four weeks old (the kitten, that is... not Kate... Kate is way older than four weeks. Kate is all grown up). Isn't she cute? (the kitten, I mean... though Kate is cute, too, granted. But she lacks the fuzzy adorableness and the tail of the kitten, and so the judges have marked her down for that. Unfair, maybe, but there you are). Here's another picture Kate took of her, at left.

Anyway.... another five weeks or so, and she's coming home with us.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Tempus Fugit

I bought myself a little present last week, and it arrived today. For the first time in at least eight years, I'm actually wearing a watch. Isn't it cute? It's a Fossil, and had it on sale last week. I loved the color and the face style -- its just little crystals, not diamonds, so don't get all excited. And it has a little date on the face, too, though my eyesight is simply not good enough to see it without my glasses.

I didn't really buy the watch so I'd have ready access to the specific time. I carry a cellphone, there's a watch in my car, I'm usually in front of a computer where a tiny little time stares me down from the lower righthand corner, and I have a huge Wesclock institutional clock over my desk. And, as cute as it is, I am not big on wearing jewelry much, so it wasn't for aesthetic reasons that I bought it.

No, no, the reasons I purchased this watch were a bit more esoteric. Time moves. Forward. Well, maybe it moves in other directions, but the only person who is really qualified to talk about that is Stephen Hawking, and even he took back a bunch of what he said in his book, so he might not even know. Unless my theories about Douglas Adams are correct and he plans on coming back (or going forward... or... whatever....), for the moment, we're just going to have to go with the notion that time moves forward. Always. Without stopping. I tend to forget that. I tend to find myself doing something important, then getting distracted by something I think will take "just a minute," only to find that come nightfall, the whole day has been shot, and the important task has fallen by the wayside.

This will just never do, people. I bought the watch because I knew that I had to look at it, and that several times a day, I'd be forced to realize that, while organizing the spice rack is a nice thing to do, there are other tasks to be gotten to first, and nothing ever really takes "just a minute."

So I wear the watch. Today, I believe I was in fact more aware of passing time. Wearing the time on your body makes you take it more seriously somehow. Skiving becomes less of an option. "No time to waste, really. Far too precious, really. Otherwise, why would I be wearing it on my wrist?"

So, time's a-wastin'. Tempus fugit. I'd write more, but I see by the watch here on my wrist that its time to wrap it up.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Come. Join the Dark Side.

If you glance over to your right.... no, no... your other right... (sheesh!).... you'll see a new section in the sidebar called "Subscribe to the Naked Chicken". I have joined Feedburner in the face of continuing requests to adopt some form of RSS/Atom site feed function. So, there it is.... If you use site feed, you might want to update my info.

I'm still trying to figure out how to get my server dude, the amazing and miraculous JD (who keeps the server where The Catharine Chronicles is hosted up and running) of JD-DCH Digital Concepts and Hardware, to allow me to add something along these lines to the Chron. JD considers stuff like this to be what he calls "Blue Buttons"... as in "Whatever you do, don't press the..." I think that he just loathes anything fancy that means yet one more thing to break down. JD hates things that break down. Especially since when it breaks down, he has to go and fix it. Usually amidst the desolate cries and moans of those who love blue buttons.

Still... I have a plan... it involves secret mind control drugs developed by the CIA. And also cookies. Bwaahahahahahahahaaaa.....


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Here's What Your Friends Won't Tell You About "The Hitchhiker's Guide"

After years of having better things to do -- or, more accurately, having other things that needed doing first -- I have finally managed to finish Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. So, to all of my friends who cajoled, pleaded, nudged, prodded, admonished and even gave their copies to (thanks, Cindy), it is done. I have joined the dark side. I thoroughly enjoyed it, which I knew I would. And I'm already an addict, which I suspected I would become. I have moved straight on through the next book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and am currently halfway through volume 3 of the trilogy, Life, the Universe and Everything, which is proving to be every bit as entertaining. (For the uninitiated, there are actually five books, though Adams had initially planned only to write the three. When the third book was published, it came with the logline, "Third book in the Hitchhiker's Trilogy." When the fourth book, So Long and Thanks for All The Fish, was published, the logline read "Trilogy in four parts." Some printings of the fifth book, Mostly Harmless, carried the logline, "Fifth part of the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Trilogy." It is literary perversities such as these that make your friends push you to read these books.)

But here's the thing that none of my fellow addicts bothered to mention. That's the dreams. I have dreams of Zaphod Beeblebrox. I have dreams of Slartibartfast. I can hear Marvin the Robot's depressed moaning drawl, deep within my brain during the course of the day, especially in the afternoons, when the hours get long before its time to go home. I also think that I've fallen in love with Douglas Adams, based solely on his voice (these are books on cassette, unabridged and read by the author), and am extremely upset that he chose to die before we met, for I would have hatched a plot to steal him away from his wife and make him mine. It was extremely bad timing on his part, and given his obvious expertise in time travel, I fully expect him to rectify the error at his earliest convenience.

Anyway, I have joined the dark side. I am a hostage to the deadly white robots from the planet Krikit. I have fallen headlong into the long, dark teatime of the soul. I have lunched at the restaurant at the end of the universe.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the Vogon poetry, I will fear not. For I know exactly where my towel is.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

One False Move, And The Girl Gets It

I have not lived a life completely unexamined.

I start this post by making that point completely clear, because I don't want to appear to be entirely, totally lame. Not that you haven't figured out already that I spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about myself. I have not one, but two, blogs in which I write extensively about the world and, more importantly, my place in it. I like to think that its because writers write what they know, and what do I know better than how things look from my perspective. But I suspect I'm merely deluding myself on this point, and am, in fact, gloriously,unrepentantly self-involved.

But I am not so blind that I can't see when a real issue raises its ugly head. I can see when I'm doing it all wrong. I'm just not sure how to fix it, that's all.

It's about me. And men. And me and men together. And this tendency I have when combining the two, which I find is quite irritating. As I beginning to date someone, or even just converse with him casually, everything starts out fine. I'm charming. I'm funny. I'm my usual irrepressibly sassy self. But as the exchange continues, I find I'm editing myself. I'm listening to what he's saying, and then trying to give him back what I think he wants. I'm terrified he'll discover something about me that doesn't match or agree with something about him. Religion, politics, basic life philosophy. One little slip that indicates that I hold a differing opinion, and I'm so off the list. What list, you ask? Oh, you know... that list. His list. His list of women he finds acceptable.

I know this is only an issue with my romantic relationships because I don't do it with women, or gay men, or married men or men I meet that I'm not attracted to sexually in the least. I only men who strike me as potential "date material" get to see this especially unattractive, wishy-washy side of me. I begin to make assessments of myself in reference to him, to decide if I'm smart enough, funny enough, liberal enough, enlightened enough, well-read enough. And I usually fall far short of where I think I should be.

The really sick, sad part is (you're thinking, "There's an even sicker, sadder part than that which she's already expressed?" aren't you? Don't lie. I can tell by your snorts of disgust), I end up weeks or months later, after things have fizzled (for how could they not when one of the parties begins to discard who she is in favor of who she thinks he wants?), I go back and do the relationship autopsy, only to discover that, as cute and great as he was, he wasn't cuter or greater than I (Well, really, who could be? I ask you. See? Why can't I have that sense of confidence with him, for cryin' out loud?).

This is, in no way, his fault. It's all me. I hear my father's voice ("No man will ever love you because you are just like your mother, and as soon as they get to know you, they'll run away"), or my ex-husband ("You were lucky I married you -- no one else would put up with you"), or some other past man in my life who was more than willing to tell me that whatever it was I had or was, it wasn't enough -- or perhaps it was too much. All lies, of course, since a couple of really good men have loved me, and plenty of people in my life suffer me with little side effect.) Still, it's those voices -- those auditory ghosts that still haunt me -- that make me feel like I'm just too much trouble as I am. So I have to change. Or be alone. Up until now, I've chosen alone, because its easier, and it isn't a lie.

I tell you all of this because I sense it happening again. I sense that as I converse with someone -- someone whom I find interesting and a little edgy and a touch neurotic, but charming nonetheless -- I'm checking his tone, checking mine, going over what he said, making sure I match it, or reflect it. I'm delving and researching, doing a little detective work,trying to suss out what he desires. And until now, I haven't even been aware I was doing it. It's one of the things that makes dating such an unpleasant experience for me. I feel like I'm being held hostage, at gunpoint, by a crazed madman. One slip of the tongue, one move out of line, and I'm a goner.

"One false move," as they say, "and the girl gets it."

So, I usually end up not calling someone back, or not following up on a second date. Or worse yet, he never asks for a second date, because the first one was made so uncomfortable by my attempt at camouflage. Of course, this only happens if I like someone, so I've had plenty of invitations to second dates with men I don't find attractive in the least. Because with men I only find pleasant, but for whom I'm not sexually attracted, I can be my usual, devil-may-care self who is merely who she is, and everyone else can like it or lump it.

What an unpleasant thing to discover about yourself! And what a challenge to keep from doing it! Because it means that, somehow, I'm going to have trust someone I barely know to have the style and good taste to stick it out and believe that doing so will be worth the effort. And it means that I have to take it as a sign, if he doesn't, that he wasn't the man I thought he was. They so frequently aren't the men I think they are. Of course, since I'm too wrapped up in pleasing them to stop and get to know them, I really can't blame that on them, can I?

Well, this has been a productive day. Paid my rent, gave the cat his medicine, returned three signed contracts to the other side, had an enormous, life-changing epiphany....

I don't know about you guys, but... I'm exhausted.


Thursday, March 02, 2006


A very close friend of mine (whom we'll call "Kim" -- because, well, that's what her mom and dad named her, for what were, I'm sure really good reasons at the time) called me Sunday in tears because she'd just learned her father had to go into the hospital for an emergency triple-bypass. I guess when you're a candidate for a triple-bypass, "emergency" is kind of redundant. Three blockages keeping blood from moving into any or all chambers of the heart would, I suppose, constitute and emergency, by definition.

There were several bits of "good news" attached to this. One, Kim's father lives in Texas, near one of the finest cardiac hospitals in the country. Two, his doctors do not believe he suffered a heart attack, even a "silent" one, so the heart muscle is in pretty good shape for a guy who's in his seventies. Three, he is, in all other respects, in excellent health. Furthermore, catching the blockages prior to an "incident" probably added years to his life. If he had to go through something like this, every single factor was working his favor.

Still, it was a tense few days for Kim and her sister, who had to leave their teenagers at home and fly to Texas and wait out the surgery and recovery. It also made my friend think of mortality -- his and hers. In the summer of '99, my godmother, who was Kim's mentor and beloved friend, passed away suddenly of lung cancer. Several months later, Kim's mother died from a heart attack so massive that she was gone before her husband could even dial "911". Now Kim's father, who lives a pretty healthy lifestyle, save his aversion to aerobic exercise, has had open-heart surgery. Kim called me tonight after she'd gotten home from work. She flew home last night, went to work this morning, came home, fixed a little dinner, and got her butt on the treadmill. Proving once again that I don't make friends with stupid people.

A close brush with a medical crisis tends to make us think about our mortality, which is something that we humans just don't care to do, unless we're engaged in deep philosophical discussions about life-after-death adventures or the Rapture. I personally have little patience for such discussion as I've always believed that, unless you are, at present -- this very moment -- coming face-to-face with your mortality (as in, you've just inadvertently stepped off the curb into the path a speeding Trailways bus, or you have just drunk strychnine, or have been recently diagnosed with ebola), there is no need to think of your mortality beyond the fact that it exists.

Knowing that you are, in fact, mortal, you can be assured of a couple of things, regardless of any spiritual or philosophical affiliations. 1) You are going to die, and 2) wherever you go after you do, you're probably not going to need to stop and ask directions. Here's what I believe about God and the Universe. God made us exactly as we are, complete with the capacity to understand everything necessary to navigate life, and the Universe reveals all to us on a "need-to-know" basis. Since we weren't born with the knowledge of what happens to the soul and consciousness when we die, my heartfelt belief is that... well... its just none of our damn business. All apologies to Shirley MacLaine (whose story, by the way, is just as plausible as any other I've heard for what happens after we bite it), it's just not our job to know.

Here's what our job is. To live. And keep on living. Right up until we're not. After that, we'll retire from the "living" thing, and move on to a career in "what comes next." Whatever that is. So my friend will get on the treadmill and start eating better and taking care of herself (as will I) because doing so means that, while we're alive, we get to feel reasonably good, and be cute, and get dates, and have sex. All of which are important.

The flip side to mortality is that, while we're being all healthy and stuff, the people around us -- especially our parents -- are getting older, and more vulnerable, and more frail. And what things like open-heart surgery remind us -- vividly and with slap-upside-the-head clarity -- is that someday in the foreseeable future, that loved one is probably going to start their "whatever comes next," and we're going to be left behind to schlepp our way through the "living" thing without them.

And this is the part where mortality sucks. Today, we're still here, Kim and I -- a 26-year friendship still alive and ticking. But my godmother isn't ticking anymore. Nor is Kim's mother. Nor is my own mother, for that matter. Only our fathers remain to separate us symbolically from our mortality, and her father's recent brush with a cardiac care unit, and my father's increasing lack of independent mobility remind us every day that someday, it's just going to be us. Two little (and, believe me, that's no euphemism -- we're short) old ladies, one on her treadmill, the other on her elliptical trainer, eating salads and boneless, skinless chicken breasts, taking our calcium and our multivitamins, trying our best to stave off "whatever comes next" for as long as possible.

Because our job is to stay here and do the "living" thing. Right up until the "living" things is done. That's what mortality is all about.