All around us, it was as if the universe were holding its breath, waiting. All of life can be broken down into moments of transition or moments of revelation. This had the feeling of both.
I don’t want to count how many years it’s been since Babylon 5 went off the air, but quotes from it keep coming back to me. (Such a well-written piece of science fiction that was.) This has been a year of transition, and I’ve been so busy living it that I haven’t had the presence of mind to write about it.
A few months ago we said goodbye to Fenris the Firecat, our eighteen-year-old Norwegian forest cat. She was old and surly; but she had been surly all her life, opinionated, always quite certain of what she liked or didn’t like (and quick to share that opinion with all around her). She had a beautifully thick coat of fur but in her last few months she neglected it, staying in her bed all the time and no longer grooming. We fought epic battles against mats and knots. She didn’t like to be brushed, so there was much growling and hissing. But once we had her fur smoothed out, it was obvious how much weight she’d lost; she was no longer eating, either. We gave her a farewell as properly befits a warrior cat. The box with her ashes sits on a shelf near our desks.
Last year I used to play “ring around the Fenris” with her, after she’d lost her hearing but before she lost her appetite. I’d retrieve a can of cat food from the pantry, this would interest her enough to rouse from her cat bed and follow me, but instead of going to her food dish I would walk a circle around the kitchen island. She dutifully followed me. I’d speed up until I’d almost lapped her, a staying corner behind her so I could watch … and she would finish another loop, then stop. Huh! she’d say, I thought my servant was here with my supper? And she’d round the next corner of the kitchen island, then she’d stop again, obviously perplexed, not knowing I was behind her. Huh! While she wasn’t looking I’d fill her food dish. Eventually she’d give up and return to her bed … but what’s this? Food! As she dined I imagine she figured there was magic involved. More likely she didn’t care and she put up with the game as long as she got fed.
Around the same time we said goodbye to Fenris, Maxwell the small black cat adopted us. He’s almost a year old now and not small any more (about ten pounds). He plays with Lily (our two-year-old Maltipoo) incessantly; the two are fast friends. They’ll chase each other around the house, then he’ll flop on the floor and she’ll lick his ears out – SLURP SLURP SLURP. Kind of gross, actually. They are also partners in crime; he will push pens off tabletops so she can chew them up, and in return she pushes her puppy kibble to the edge of her pen so that he can reach in between the bars and scoop it out with his paw. Maxwell is fearless and full of mischief, but he loves his his family (us!) and he has an amazing deep purr. He’s assumed the position of alpha cat over Toulouse, who is much more demure about these things, though the two of them still have loud disagreements every day.
Recently I also said goodbye to my car. Not to romanticize it too much, but … okay, I’ll romanticize it. This Saturn SL2 was a car I bought it new at a dealership twenty-one years ago and drove ever since. It outlasted the company that made it. It never had any dents (owing to the fact the sidepanels were made of plastic). I drove it to work at Apple, I drove it to work at Netscape. I drove it to work at Disney. In the passenger seat I carried just about everyone I’ve known for the past two decades. It still looked good (aside from the driver’s seat leather, which was held together by duct tape) and it still ran fine (aside from a growing list of quirks), but, well, it was time. I asked our mechanic for help selling it and he immediately found a buyer: a twentysomething in the Army who races a non-street-legal Dodge Viper and needed a commuter car. I got $850 for it, and the new owner left for Virginia with it, which suits me just fine.
My new car is a Honda Civic. On the surface it looks a lot like my old car, a basic white compact with gold pinstriping, but there’s a lot of modern electronics in it. I’m pleased with it because it has a bunch of useful features (Bluetooth, backup camera, USB port in the center console) and doesn’t have much that I don’t need. I like that the only analog gauge is the tach, while everything else (including radio) is controlled through a high-res LCD display. The steering wheel feels slightly plastic but it’s got a light touch and it’s fun to drive. It might not last another twenty years, but it’s a fine car for my needs today. I owe a lot to our friend Josh, who’s the finance manager for a local auto dealer; he came to the Honda dealership with me and helped make sure I didn’t pay anything more than I had to. (As soon as the salespeople realized what he was, they became very cold and short with us. Hah.)
Our mechanic is also working on selling Jill’s ’97 Mustang GT convertible for us. (If anyone’s interested, let me know; it’s in Lakeland right now.) Jill is working on finding a way to transition from her network security job to running her own business as a pet photographer, but finding a way to make up the huge difference in income ain’t easy. My job with Disney continues to keep me busy, and meanwhile I’ve gone to a few writers’ club meetings in town because I want to kindle my interest in actually writing fiction – but I haven’t actually written anything new, so it’s like I’m doing everything to make the water flow except actually turning on the faucet. It’s scary, having to accept that my first umpteen efforts aren’t going to be in the same ballpark as the best works of my favorite authors!
We also have new phones (she got an iPhone 5S, and I took her old iPhone 5), we have new Macbook Pro laptops, and she bought me an iPad Air for my birthday. So on the technology front we’ve finally cast off a lot of old tech to become up-to-date … for now.
I envy the people who have the drive to pursue NaNoWriMo and write a novel of fifty thousand words this month. But then I think, this blog post alone is almost twelve hundred words, not counting the quote at the top. I just need longer quotes and I’ll have it made.
“It’s scary, having to accept that my first umpteen efforts aren’t going to be in the same ballpark as the best works of my favorite authors!”
However they could be in the same ballpark as the “first umpteen efforts” of your favorite authors.