Elvis is in the Closet

elvisSo there I was sitting in the den surfing the net and thinking about what to write about this week. Sometimes it’s easy and the words and ideas come quickly and effortlessly. Other times the brick wall in my mind is close to ten feet tall and completely impassable. Today was a brick wall day. I wasn’t particularly worried though, as I sipped my tea and watched the last of the leaves fall off the Japanese Maple in the back yard. And then it jumped up at me. Literally, jumped up at me. My eleven year old cat was looking for some attention and I was the only one home.

When we moved into our house my son was six and he desperately wanted a pet. I had been promising him for months that once we moved from our rental into our own house we could get a cat. Day one. “So can we go get our cat today?” Sigh. Every day for the next month I was asked if today was the day we could get our cat. Finally I couldn’t put it off any longer and I started to make some calls. I remember my son and I having some discussions about what kind of cat we might get and what we might name a cat. “If we get an orange cat I’m going to name it cheese.” He said. Note to self; do not get an orange cat.

When the clerk at the pet store brought the two cats into the room he put them both down in the middle of the floor. “They’re brothers.” He said. (probably hoping we would take both) One was completely black and the other was what we now know is a tuxedo cat. Black with white paws, chest and half a white nose. The all black one retreated to a corner and sat down to wash itself. The tuxedo cat stood up and walked straight over to us with his tail straight up in the air. “That’s the one I want”. My son said. I couldn’t have agreed more. We couldn’t bring him home that day but went home excited that in a couple of days we could come back and pick him up. I remember when we did bring him home and he tore around on the hard wood floors bumping into the walls. I’m not sure if it was the fact that my husband was, at the time, working in Memphis or of it was just because he was such a cool cat, but we ended up named him Elvis.

Life with Elvis as a kitten was not boring or easy. We made the decision that he would be an inside cat. We live in an area close to a forest that is full of racoons, coyotes and the occasional cougar and it just didn’t make sense to put him out on the front doorstep. We tried a collar and leash, but really he was just bait at that point. The problem was that he was bound and determine to get outside. We had a Swiss student staying with us that summer who quite often stayed out late and came home mildly intoxicated leaving the front door ajar. I can’t tell you how many times I chased that God damn cat up and down our street with a flashlight in my hand. The neighbors must have thought his name was Stupid not Elvis. (at least I didn’t have to call him Cheese). Then there was the day that he escaped and bolted up the tree in the neighbors backyard. I managed to get up to him without incident but coming back down I missed a branch and had a wicked bruise in my thigh for a month. God damn cat.

He has mellowed out in his older years. He now sleeps in our closet and some days doesn’t wander out until mid morning. His attempts to sleep on my head did not gain much admiration from me and I may have thrown a pillow or two at him in the middle of the night. The closet was just a safer option. He rarely tries to escape anymore. The look on his face says, “meh, it’s just too much effort.” With my husband away as much as he is, I am happy for his warm furry comfort in the evenings. Although his habit of patting my face (with his claws out) when I stop paying attention to him, can be a tad annoying.

So here I am with Elvis curled up in my lap thinking about all the crazy things he’s done and how over the years we have laughed and cursed at him too many times to count. He’s purring softly and probably having a cat dream about tuna or the yummy kitty treats we occasionally give him. I’m grateful to have the time to sit and let him nap for a few more minutes but then the day must go on for me. The Best Things in Life for Elvis is that he can just head upstairs and go back to the closet to sleep.

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Being Kind

As she parked in the parking lot the nerves started to grow. She hadn’t seen some of these people in years. Would they even know who she was? Would she recognize anybody? The receptionist directed her upstairs to the banquet rooms. She made a quick stop in the bathroom to check her hair and makeup. Did she really need to impress anybody? She was happily married with two great kids and a loving husband. Old habits die hard she told herself. When she finally made her way to the room where her twentieth high school reunion was being held, her nerves seemed to disappear and all she felt was excitement.

At the door to the banquet room there was a table covered in name tags and a dark haired woman was bent over putting them in order. She looked up suddenly and squealed. “Oh my god it’s so great to see you. How are you? You look great. Here, I have your name tag. Wow, it’s been so long but you look just the same. I would know that smile anywhere.” As the greeter rattled on she thought “She has no idea who I am.” You could have knocked her over with a feather. She stood before the table smiling and nodding and remembering. The greeter looked just the same too. She would never forget her. Not after that day so many years ago.

It was grade five and she was in Mr. McBride’s class at West Bay Elementary School. She had been outside at lunch playing dodge ball in the courtyard with a bunch of other kids. A silly school yard game but hey, she was in grade five and that’s what they did at lunch time. When the bell rang she ran up the stairs past the library and janitors room to her classroom. As she entered the room she saw one of her girlfriends and said hi. Her friend looked at her, but then quickly looked away and whispered something to the girl beside her. That’s a bit weird, she thought and took her seat. During the rest of the afternoon she caught them whispering a few more times. She even noticed them whispering to another friend as they came back from art class. Hm, wonder what’s up? She thought.

The afternoon dragged on forever but when the bell finally rang she grabbed her bag and coat and headed for the door. “Forgetting something?” Darn, she had forgotten that Mr. McBride had asked her to stay and go over her multiplication tables. She really needed to know what was going in with her friends so she told a small lie and said that she forgot she had piano that day. “Okay, but tomorrow for sure?” Sure, she said, and turned away quickly, feeling guilty. She burst out the door and ran straight into a group of her friends. “Hey, what’s up? What is everybody whispering about?” They all turned to look at her but only one person spoke. “You. We’re talking about you.” The dark haired girl said. Me, why would they be talking about me she wondered? “We’re all really sick of how immature you are. We saw you today on the playground jumping around like a preschooler. What is wrong with you?”

She looked around at the group of fourth grade girls now surrounding her. Some of them looked away, some of them looked at the girl speaking and some looked back at her blankly. Acting immature? She had been playing dodgeball? She stammered trying to find the words to explain what she had done. What she had done? She hadn’t DONE anything. What was going on? She looked at each of them for some kind of explanation. Her face was suddenly hot and her hands were shaking. She turned away and ran towards the bathrooms. She stayed in one of the stalls for what seemed like hours. When she finally ventured out the halls were quiet and empty. She walked home that day feeling hurt, embarrassed and confused.

It was all flooding back as she stood there at the entrance to the banquet room. It was years ago, but at this moment it seemed like just yesterday. The greeter apparently didn’t remember, as she had already moved on to the next person coming down the hall. It hadn’t happened again after that day but she would never forget the hurtful words directed at her. The embarrassment of being singled out and that the dark haired girl had, for that moment, turned her friends against her. She would never know why and it truly didn’t matter. The damage was done with just a few words in only a matter of moments. As she stepped into the room full of her school friends she reminded herself that The Best Thing in Life is to teach your kids to be kind.

Honesty

“Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc. Furthermore, honesty means being trustworthy, loyal, fair, and sincere. Honesty is valued in many ethnic and religious cultures. “Honesty is the best policy” is a proverb of Benjamin Franklin and the quote “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom” is attributed to Thomas Jefferson.”

I value honesty above pretty much every other personal trait, so when I am faced with a loved one being dishonest I tend to get a bit crazy. I’ve been in relationships based on lies and filled with lies. No happiness can come from a relationship like that. The truth hurts. Yes, it does, but that is not an excuse for doing it. And, might I add, it is never okay to blame a lie on somebody else’s actions. As in, I lied because I knew the truth would hurt you. (Lamest excuse ever.) Lying is never the answer. Some people say that they lie to avoid confrontation, but the reality is that the truth always come out and by that time the original confrontation has been compounded by the lie. So why not just fess up? Fear? Most likely. That minuscule chance that the truth won’t come out and you can actually get away with it? Bit of a crap shoot really, but some are willing to take that chance.

Right, so now I will come down off my high horse and admit that this has become a hard post to write because, as nutty as I am about being honest, I can’t say that I have always been 100% honest with everybody in my life. So, am I a hypocrite? What have I lied about? Say I am faced with not wanting to do something, I have been known to make up an excuse why I can’t do it. “Sorry I can’t make it to your party but I have other plans”. My other plans involve a glass of wine, pajamas and a book. A white lie some would say. Is there a difference? Is there a line that separates little lies from big lies? Or are all lies just that. Lies. Is it better to be a bit dishonest in order to be politically correct? “Yes, that style of dress looks great on you.” Or are you just as guilty as the guy who lies on his tax return?

Have you ever seen the Jim Carey movie, Liar Liar. A man is cursed by a wish from his son so that he can not tell a lie. A funny premise, but could it actually work in real life? Being honest (I prefer to call it being authentic) has certainly gotten me in trouble in the past. I don’t always sugar coat things. If I don’t like you or something you have said I’m typically going to let you know. I’m also not going to pretend that everything is okay when it’s not. If something is bugging me, you will know. Do I worry about hurting people’s feelings? Sure, and I’m pretty sure I have probably done that in the past. Would it be better to not tell them what I think? Is that different from telling an outright lie?

So, having completely talked myself in a circle the question remains unanswered. Is it ever okay to be dishonest? The Best Thing in Life is being truthful in admitting that life is hard to navigate sometimes and knowing what is right and what is wrong isn’t always clear.

The Best Things in Life

The Best Things in Life can be small and insignificant or they can be monumental and life altering. They also happen every day to everyone on the planet. The problem is that we don’t always recognize them.

This month, November 2014, I hope to change the way I look at The Best Things in Life. This month, each day, I will recognize some small (or monumental) thing in my life by posting a picture, link or quote on my Twitter account. Follow me at @seymourmommy to see what The Best Things in Life are for the month of November.