Drying Off The Bengal (Cats and Writers)By
There is a cat out on my roof.
No, I’m not speaking in code or metaphor. Right now there is a cat, outside, on my roof. In the rain.
Among the three cats we board here, we have a Bengal named Cleopatra. She is your typical Queen Kitty. Mistress of the house. And has cat-flavored OCD in the world’s worst way. Closed doors drive her crazy (not that she wants in, or out, but she demands the option!), food must arrive at the specified times, worship will be made precisely at 10 am and 7 pm (other times are acceptable as well, but 10 and 7 are mandated). She enjoys an ordered, perfect world. But, occasionally, she likes to escape out a window and onto the roof where she knows (she has to know!) that things are not going to go her way.
Today, it’s raining. And she’s soaked. Not cat-huddling-miserable-under-the-eaves soaked. She is sitting right out at the edge of the roof being drenched. Cat-fresh-from-swimming-lesson soaked. I can’t tell if she’s commanding the waters to rise back up into her heavens or if she simply refuses to let the rains see that it bothers her. I’ve watched my wife open nearby windows, calling her back in. At best, we get a condescending look over the shoulder. When she (wife) stops trying, she (cat) comes over to the window and meowrls. So another round of invite-the-kitty-back-inside.
Nope, uh-uh. Not happening. Just the look. Maybe she wants company out there. Mostly, I think she just wants an audience. See? Look what I put up with? So my normal demands really aren’t so unreasonable, are they?
I know. Either she has issues, or I do.
So why am I so fascinated by a cat out on the roof this morning? Because while I sit here listening to Heather trying to bribe Cleo back in with food, it’s made me consider once again the general writer attraction to felines versus canines. I know plenty of writers who are dog-people, but I think it runs something like one-for-five…maybe six, if you count the outliers who ditch both for a snake or spider or other non-traditional American pet. And watching Cleopatra enjoying/enduring her shower, it seems a bit of a fable..perhaps even an allegory…to explain many things that we suffer as writers.
As a writer, I know I enjoy my structured, conceited world view. But I habitually dose myself with limited (though often intense) bouts of chaos. Sometimes these chaotic moments are passively inflicted: leaving a deadline to the last possible moment, then writing furiously while metaphysically kicking myself in the ass for letting it slip so long, but hey, look, I did it anyway. Good for me! This is usually followed by a Lesson-Learned moment where I know I will not let this happen again (until next time, for at least a week or so). Other times, I actively seek out such chaos: choosing a subject matter or character or subplot that will force me to confront demons or challenge my own jaded beliefs, sitting in the rain and commanding it to rise (rise!) back into the heavens, and then stoically enduring it when it does not.
The chaos may come through the business and marketing side of my profession, or through the creative element.Still, the window is right there. Open, behind me. If I stray too far toward the edge of the roof, I’ll hear someone calling me back in. Friends or family…doesn’t matter. I’m sure I glance back over my shoulder with that same look of condescension. I’m fine. Why don’t you come out here?
In the end, I’m assuming that it was the promise of a second breakfast that finally swayed Cleopatra from her confrontation with nature. She’s back inside the house. I don’t have to guess, or go check. She’s sitting on the corner of my desk, bedraggled and dripping all over a stack of paper. Looking very pleased with herself, and yet somehow disappointed with me. I once had a girlfriend who could do that.
I guess it’s time for me to go dry off the Bengal, then carry her to the kitchen for treats. Later, I’m certain there will be a fireplace going for her benefit. Even though I had more time blocked out this morning for website maintenance and business, I am forced to recognize and appreciate the kindred soul of another contrary creature. Also, I know it will make life a little easier if I don’t keep the cat waiting.
See? Lesson Learned. Until next time. For at least a week or so.