Cat lady

I don’t know if it is because I am a writer, but whenever I mention to my work colleagues that I have a cat, they accuse me of being a ‘cat lady’. I don’t think of myself as a cat lady, nor a lady for that matter, so I guess that begs the question of what does define a cat lady?

For starters I think they usually have multiple cats. I only have one. They will often refer to their cats as their babies, or themselves as their cat’s mummy. I have no illusions about my cat’s pedigree, I am the one chosen to look after her at the moment. I am not her parent.

Where it gets hazy is when it comes to talking to your cat, which I do frequently. I guess the big deciding factor on your cat lady-ness is if a) you think the cat understands you (she doesn’t), or b) if there is some part of you waiting for a response (while I would love that to happen, I know it won’t).

I guess the final thing, having known a few real cat ladies in my time, is that generally cat ladies revel in the title, because the fact is, there is nothing wrong with being a cat lady. It is a wonderful thing to love another animal and expect nothing back in return. I always find true cat ladies to be kind people and good friends.

So part of me kind of wishes I was cat lady. Maybe I should get another cat?

Being the better me

You know, this better me thing seems to work. It started out as a conscious effort to have better me-hours after dinner to make sure I would turn on the computer and write instead of turning on the TV and vegging.

It worked! I watched a lot less TV this week and got a lot more words written. But that wasn’t all. Suddenly I found myself picking better me food choices for dinner (no frozen chicken Kiev and chips this week), going for a walk in the evening or spontaneously bursting into sit-ups.

Then the tendrils of better me-ness reached even further. When I walked past meeting rooms where the projector and lights had been left on I actually stopped when my brain screamed out ‘what would better me do?’ so I could go in and turn them all off. I picked up bits of rubbish. I put other people’s dishes in the dishwasher.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not yet become the better me, I have a long way to go before I can make that claim, but better me turns up a lot more than she did before I invited her in. I like better me. She and I might just get another novel finished.

The better me

As my cat stood hacking away at the furball caught in her chest, her body heaving over and over with the struggle, I found myself hoping she would swallow it and save me the trouble of cleaning it up. The better me would have been rooting for her to bring it up and expel the torment from her body. Today I was not the better me.

Often when we imagine of how we will react to a situation, I think we see better versions of ourselves. The version who will go to the aid of the person in need, even something small like choosing the carrot over the chocolate snack, doing the sit-ups or sitting at the computer writing, not wasting time on the TV/ garden/reading/ <insert procrastination poison of choice here>.

Tomorrow we think we will be the better me, giving ourselves the freedom to be the slack me today. But what we are today is what we are.

Maybe if I focus on being the better me for just one hour each day, thinking and acting as she would, then I would get a lot more things completed? And maybe, one day, when I realise I’m not thinking about what the better me will do tomorrow then I’ll know that, at last, I have become the better me.

It’s worth a try…

Sometimes we just make things up

I’m currently reading an unauthorised biography on the Harry Potter author, J. K. Rowling which explores her early life and the influence it had on the Harry Potter novels. And while it is really interesting to learn where she came from, I think the biographer is labouring the ‘influence’ side of things.

The biographer points to a grumpy primary school teacher who was a stickler for the rules and of whom all the children were afraid. He concludes that this is where the idea for Professor Snape first appeared (even though J. K. herself has stated Snape was based on a later science teacher who gave her grief in high school).

There are no stories about this primary school teacher in the Harry Potter books, so it is purely speculation on behalf of the biographer that there is any connection. It almost feels like he is just looking for a way to squeeze his research into the book.

The biographer also tells us of a wood that J. K. may, or may not, have walked past in her day to day travels when she was a child. Supposedly (according to a neighbour interviewed for the book) there were tales of witches and fairies living in this wood. The biographer then draws the rather ambitious conclusion that this might have been where J. K. was introduced to magic.

When I was a kid there was an old lady living on my street who all of us kids thought was a witch. I thought a unicorn lived in the paddock near my primary school. My friend assured me she had seen fairies playing in her mother’s garden. We are introduced to magic everywhere, the idea that just one place is what defines it for us, to me, seems a bizarre assumption.  

There are dozens of examples in the book where the biographer has tried to link parts of J. K.’s past to her books where no apparent links seems to be. I know that I’m just as likely to name a character after the last person I spoke to, or the newsreader on TV, or the neighbour’s dog that keeps coming into my yard. So isn’t it possible that the same could be true for J.K.?

It makes me laugh to think about what links someone could make reading my stories and comparing them to my past. I hate to think about what conclusions they would draw when they linked the names of my friends to characters which share their moniker (I would also probably need to apologise to a lot of people).

For me, for the most part, stories are just stories. Imagination is not restricted by one’s history, it can fly us to places we have never been. Yes parts of your life will influence them, or inspire them, but not every name, every character or every setting is a reflection of your youth.

Sometimes we just make things up.