March 1st, 2015
We lost our 18-year-old cat Miss P a couple of months ago. It was a very sad time around here. But I still think I see her shadow out of the corner of my eye from time to time. Two months later I’m pretty sure some of the pet hair I see on my coat is hers. And I will always have the things she taught me in our time together.
There are many lessons one learns from living with a cat. Notice that I say “living with a cat” and not something ridiculous such as “having a cat” or—most preposterous of all—“owning a cat.”
You cannot own a cat. A cat may consent to live in your house as long as you keep the Deli Cat and tuna treats flowing. It helps also if you have a sunny window and some fine newly upholstered furniture to shred when they’re in the mood. But you can no more “own” a cat than you can own the air. Cats will be where they will be. Even captive house cats cannot be told to “be” on the floor rather than on the guest bed silk duvet cover. Try explaining rules to a cat and see where it gets you.
One of the most important lessons I learned from Miss P is to ignore people who speak harshly or say mean things. Internet trolls certainly fall into this category. So do people who work at the DMV. And some elderly relatives whose social filters are breaking down.
Try saying something mean to a cat and see how she reacts.
“Gosh, Miss P! Your litter box smells like a third world outhouse! What have you been eating?”
“Good grief, Miss P! I don’t need another dead mouse! I haven’t eaten the last one you gave me!”
A cat will look at you with sleepy eyes, delicately lick a front paw and go back to shredding the taffeta chaise. It would no more occur to a cat to feel hurt or shame than it would for her to take up square dancing or collect Hummel figurines.
Oh, you might be thinking something all logical right now, such as “But cats don’t speak English.”
Dogs don’t speak English either—or at least not fluently—and you can make a dog feel hurt or ashamed without even trying. Dogs have very delicate feelings. Use a harsh tone of voice with a dog and it can completely ruin her naturally jovial mood.
If I snap, “Darn it, Sophie! Did you send that fart cloud over here?” Sophie won’t even be able to look at me. She will hang her head in shame, tuck her tail between her legs and blink her eyes in abject apology. Sophie is obviously crushed that you would speak to her in such an unfriendly manner.
It occurred to me one day when I was observing Miss P that I could take a lesson from her.
I was having a particularly bad morning because of a snippy email from a client. It didn’t even make sense that I should be upset. I already knew that this client was notoriously tone deaf to how her email communications came across. Other people had mentioned how surprised they were at this peculiar aspect of her character. In person she is a delightful and warm human being. She will give you a hug if you haven’t seen her in a while. She always remembers your kid’s name and asks after him. She is always the first to thank you for a job well done.
But give that woman an email account and she has all the subtlety of Chris Christie responding to a heckler. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to send emails.
Anyway, I was feeling injured and questioning whether this client even really liked me anymore when Miss P sauntered through the room. You know that wonderful cat saunter? It’s completely noiseless and unhurried, with the front feet planted carefully one in front of the other and the back hips rolling in sync. It’s like a small lion, but with more silk.
It occurred to me then that I could channel my inner Miss P. I could look at the irritable email, blink and go back to shredding the antique chaise. I could saunter over to the sunny spot on the couch and just rest my eyes and absorb the warmth. Or I could at least not let that poorly worded email launch me toward the cookie jar.
In my mind I know that an email from a tone deaf emailer doesn’t mean that I am worth less as a human being. I know it doesn’t mean that my work is lousy, that I’m horribly lazy, that I should just hang up my hat on my career and try a new profession as a manicurist. Or maybe give real estate or multi-level marketing a whirl. Logically I know that nothing about me has changed in the 10 minutes since I read the email. But it feels like it does.
Shame is a powerful emotion. I think that we all walk around in life with a bubble of bad feelings hidden deep inside. It’s so easy for someone to take their sharp words and put a little nick in the delicate, stretched membrane of that bubble so that the bad feelings begin to seep out, little by little, working as a corrosive on our self-esteem.
Cats don’t have this bad feeling bubble inside. They were all born bad-bubble deficient. As a result, cats never feel shame because they really don’t give a damn what you think or say. Yell at a cat to get off the kitchen counter and she might jump down. But if she does, she’ll act as if jumping down were the plan all along.
Cats don’t do shame. They do pride. They are supremely self-confident in their cathood. Nothing you can say will make them feel differently about themselves.
Now, thanks to Miss P’s lessons, when I am feeling particularly vulnerable or injured, I pull on my Miss P-like personality. I am confident and self-assured like a cat. Like Miss P.
Posted In: Dogs and Cats
Tags: Miss P
October 15th, 2014
Now that I have put the pack back on, so to speak, and am blogging again after my year-long blog vacation, I decided I better check in on those clever blog gurus. You know who they are. They’re the professional bloggers who tell us amateur-hour bloggers all the things we need to do to become big-time bloggers as clever, industrious and remarkable as they are.
One of the first things I noticed is that the gurus are all talking about how to monetize your blog. “Monetize your blog” is the fancy way of saying “making money from your blog.”
Brilliant! I’m going to make this little WordPress baby into a money press so that I can sit back and watch that beautiful green stuff pile up in my checking account while I fiddle with pretty tomato jam photos and give updates from my incredibly exciting and colorful life. Why have I waited so long to get onboard with this wealth-generating phenomenon?
So, I did some surfing—I mean, I invested in the future of my blog by spending an afternoon doing research—and read up all about how to make money blogging. There’s a lot out there. I mean—a LOT.
There’s just one problem. From what I can tell, it involves a lot of work.
To make money blogging involves blogging at least once a day—but preferably more. You have to have a really unique and clever niche about which you know more than anyone. Then you have to figure out all sorts of software and plugins so you can mine information you collect from people who visit your blog. Then you have to entice your blog visitors with offers so that they will divulge their email addresses. Then you have to produce ebooks and white papers and podcasts and Youtube videos and all sorts of other stuff so that you can offer it for free to the blog visitors so that they will love you and hang on your every word and will come back to visit your blog every single day so that you can then try to sell them other ebooks and white papers and podcasts and Youtube videos. Then when you get a whole bunch of emails of people who love you and can’t get enough of your free stuff you can roll out your subscription products so that all those people will pay you to write even more stuff to promote other stuff that you will write to sell.
To quote the immortal words of that Youtube lady, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Besides, I came up with a better, brilliant-er plan.
Wait for it!
Instead of monetizing my blog, I am going to monetize my dog!
I am going to turn the Papillon-driven cash flow that’s been going on around here back in my direction. I am going to put Sophie to work to pay for her expensive homemade roast chicken thigh dinners, $300/year dental cleanings, $50/month prescription medications, $40 beauty shop appointments, not to mention all the designer sweaters, neck kerchiefs and bling she likes to wear when she lounges around the house on my furniture.
Therefore, I am announcing the following opportunities to interact with Sophie.
Hire Sophie as Your Team Mascot – Sophie loves sports, especially if she gets to dress as one of the players. Sophie will show up at your games and bark her head off. She will allow people to pet and admire her.
She will happily chow down with the players at the team buffet table and prance down the field at parade time. Better yet, you can wheel her around in her own personal conveyance.
Book Sophie for a Personal Appearance at Parties, Openings and Other Events (Just Like Paris Hilton!) – Sophie can be quite the party animal. She has her own bling, but if Harry Winston wants to drape a few diamonds around her neck, she will be happy to oblige.
Buy Sophie’s Collectible, Limited Edition Paw Print – And you can pick a paw! She has four of them, so there are actually four sets of limited editions. Collect all four!
Upcoming products will include the inevitable t-shirts, ball caps, bumper stickers and more.
There will also be a Sophie iPhone and Adroid app. We are particularly excited about this one. The new Sophie app will wake you every single day, including Saturdays and holidays, at the crack of dawn with her unique musical blend of snorting, sniffing and coughing. If you opt to purchase the iPhone scent-generator attachment, you can enjoy the unmistakable eau de doggie fart.
But wait! There’s more!
The Sophie app will occasionally—but unpredictably—wake you at 3 a.m. to go outside and look at the stars while it displays an animated Sophie wandering in circles looking for just the right spot to poo.
You may be wondering about how Sarah, Sophie’s best frenemy, fits into this scheme. She doesn’t. Sarah hates to have her picture taken. I’m not sure, but when I point the camera in her direction she seems to think I’m trying to steal her soul.
Until I get Sophie’s personal website and toll-free number set up, you can just contact me by email. Price list available on request.
Go Sophie! Cha-ching!