jeudi, août 13, 2009

Bathtub hijinks

I'm not big on labels. People who self-identify as vegetarians, or evangelical Christians, or football fans can have all kinds of reasons for their choice that might make no sense to you or to me.

And I'm even more averse, although I'm sure I sometimes do so, to pinning a label on someone else.

But I have to wonder about people who own cats -- or dogs -- and don't want to own the other species. Its not better or worse to be a "cat person" or a "dog person" -- but it may say something about your personality.

Given that raising two children is emotionally taxing at times, I really didn't want huge wet tongues and wagging tails telegraphing constant need for reassurance that yes, indeed we do love them.

There's also the matter of wet dog fur, and dog smell. To be fair, there is cat fur, and cat litterboxes.

But I didn't bargain for one gentle feline who insists, simply through assuming that position again and again, that her rightful perch is our dining room table. Lots of people would object to the notion that a cat has sat close to their dinner plate.

Or her opponent, an assertive male notorious for climbing screen doors, who waits until an unsuspecting human is putting shampoo on her or his hair before he puts his head in the shower and licks water off their legs.

And the worst thing is, he expects to be dried off.

He doesn't have us perfectly trained yet -- but he's working on it. When I got up this morning and realized Inky wasn't here, I was distressed. Even more so to realize he'd gotten by me when Iopened the kitchen door last night. Where was the noise of objects being pushed, one by one, off my desk?

Happily, when I went out outside, he rematerialized, as though nothing unusual had ocurred. Time for breakfast, stepmom!

Cats don't beg. They have standards. I'm not sure which is better.

mercredi, août 12, 2009

Off the record

I doubt most denizens of the exurbs get off the R5 at 30th Street with a swing in their step. After all, they have to make that commute roughly five days a week. They probably don't find cracked sidewalks, continous construction of mammoth buildings, and Philadelphia dirt apparently endowed by someone in perpetuity enticing.

For me, a happy resident of cow country, it was an occasion of return -- and a chance to greet a new friend. In a rare alignment of the stars that bring internet acquaintances together, my journalist pal was in town for a class. I was as excited to have the chance to actually meet him as a child waiting for a birthday party.

Because most of what we talked about is confidential, I won't go into detail, except to say that he is an ex-pat, married to another journalist, and that we grew up, a few years apart, in roughly the same part of the country. But he's seen so much more of the world than I have, and will (although I still have hopes of expanding my vision). For a few hours, over wine, grits, scallops and creme caramel in a Sansom street brasserie, he brought that world to me.

Mostly we talked journalism. It occured to me, and I suspect he'd agree, that his position is much more fun than those of my friends on newspaper staffs constantly besieged by the grim atmosphere of newsrooms on this side of the pond.

Three hours passed way too quickly -- so much left unsaid. I learned a French phrase I can add to my small stock of poetry, songs, and college vocab -- les non-dits (what's not said). In our case, it was lack of time. Please come see us if you are ever in our city, he said. I'll come see you in New York when you come back, I told him.

Things come up, and plans sometimes don't materialize, but I'm hopeful. It's rare to have someone open a window.... I want to stand there for a while, sniffing the breeze like a retriever, searching the stars, trying to see if there are constellations I can view a perhaps, a little more clearly.