Little Perfect Things, or: How Not to Suck

Since starting to post here, I’ve been keeping a running list of potential topics for entries.

A trend has emerged in my ideas list that I’m not proud of:  subjects most interesting to me recently almost all involve tearing something apart in loud, judgmental tones, or talking about losses (I had an animal tragedy early last week), or catastrophizing in some way.  Complaining, basically.

I’ve been turning ideas over, one at a time, and letting them slide specifically because I didn’t want to A) focus on things that hurt or piss me off, or B) develop a habit of complaining publicly in print, or C) grant any of this irritating business a permanent monument here.

Complaining is boring.  Listening to other people complain is boring.  Also it’s annoying.  Also it’s a self-perpetuating feedback loop of misery and really, who needs it?  Not me.  So I won’t be a purveyor of it either.  There’s so much of it readily available elsewhere.

Instead, I’d like to find some upsides to the things I’d rather take my lexicographical baseball bat to.  Call it an exercise in gratitude.

Number one, regarding Tug Trudeau:

tug

May 28, 2017 – June 20, 2017

I work with a local animal rescue.  Tug was the runt of his litter, pushed out of the nest by his mom last Saturday, June 17.  Though I’d never tried to care for a kitten so small, I immediately scooped him up and wanted to try.

He made it three full days on a bottle, me getting up at all hours to check on, cuddle and feed him.  I’d have slept with him in my hands but he was so, so tiny, and so frail I didn’t dare, for fear of hurting him.

I thought it would be easier, emotionally, to care for a tiny kitten with its eyes barely open without getting attached than it would be to care for a bouncy, fuzzy little ball of energy that was all over the place, licking you & mewing in your face.  Tug was first and foremost very clearly a patient — mostly immobile from weakness, unable to stand or even right himself when he rolled onto his back.  He couldn’t really interact with me yet.  I thought I would do what I could do, and we’d see what happened.  I didn’t expect to be successful saving him, nor did I anticipate being tortured by losing him, if it came to that, which, realistically, I almost expected; so many kittens do not survive beyond twelve weeks, particularly the smallest and weakest of their litters.

But I loved him instantly, against my will.  He had a fierce little personality, evident right from the start.  He was a fighter, having survived being shoved out of the warm bed where the rest of his litter and his mother were, where he was separated long enough to lose most of his body heat before we discovered him.  Once he chewed on my finger (no teeth); he would grasp a little with his teeny claws, and could push his bottle away with force if he didn’t want it.  He waved his arms.  He never cried, not until the very end.

Tug tended to thrash, but when I’d scoop him up and hold him against my heartbeat in a cupped palm, he’d quiet immediately.  He would also lie peaceful when I sang, which I discovered by accident with “Rocky Mountain High”; once I realized it seemed to have the same effect as being held, I put it on repeat, lay him in his blanket on the bed in front of me, and sang quietly.  He went right to sleep.

He was far behind his litter mates, developmentally. It took three full weeks for his eyes to completely open and when they did, they were blank; he was obviously still blind, as all kittens are at first, and he didn’t have a blink reflex.  I had to close his eyes for him to keep them from drying out, then apply ointment to them.  The ointment helped a great deal. On his last afternoon, waking from a nap, before I had a chance to re-apply it, he lifted his little head, opened his eyes on his own, and appeared to look right at me.

Now, he had seemed to look at me before, but I had known he wasn’t seeing anything; the first thing kittens see when their eyes begin to function properly are just shadows, and possibly movement, so I didn’t think anything of it at first.  But this time he kept his eyes on my face, and this caught my attention.  I looked back, directly into his eyes.

And I almost could see the little wheels turning as he perceived visually, possibly for the first time, looking into my face:

there’s

something

there

The tiny blue eyes weren’t blank; they were alert.  He kept his eyes trained directly on me.  His pupils were wide. It wasn’t bright in the room; just light enough to see him seeing for the first time.   Seeing me.

I said, Hi, baby!  Hi, little baby!  I kissed him.  It’s just me.   What a good boy! 

He stared and stared, and finally, closed his eyes on his own.

It was as far as he would ever grow, but this moment made the entire thing worth the whole heartbreak.

Can you even say that?

People will say anything, they really will.  Many don’t especially care if you agree or disagree, and they don’t care if they offend your delicate sensibilities.  Also they don’t care about your opinions, until they’re at direct odds with their opinions — especially political ones, in which case they care a great deal, very loudly, often endlessly.  (Or for as long as anyone else cares to listen, or to perpetuate their stridency by responding to it.)

Why is this?  Why is it downright common nowadays to expect people to self-righteously spray public spaces online with virulent nastiness?  In an age of social media, where everyone spends half their time with an eye on a screen, this has become the norm.  Trolls, we say.  Don’t feed the trolls.  And everybody knows what a troll is.

It must be indicative of some ugly universal human trait, because the behavior is everywhere:  your friend’s wall; the online comments section of any article in The New York Times; even book review discussions — if there’s an open forum, sooner or later you’ll be exposed to some crank in the throes of rancid fulmigation, at least until the moderators get involved.  It’s so widespread that I’m thinking it must be the default of human nature to turn hostile on a dime.

Is it because people are innately insecure — to degrees of verbal violence — about topics in which they’re emotionally invested?  Can it really be that simplistic?  Haven’t we learned by the age of eleven that not everyone will agree with you?  Or do most people just reject that precept?  Their histrionics are the electronic version of a tantrum, nothing more.

Or is it just a fad, sort of, something that’s okay as long as you do it online because it isn’t “real”?  Is it acceptable in the electronic ether because you feel insulated against repercussions or responsibility, because even if you act a fool in binary media under your own name, it isn’t the same as doing it in real life for an audience?

This is my guess — that it’s cowardice and insecurity.  In physical public places where you’re likely to run into people you don’t personally know — the grocery store, the movies, ball games, big events, your work environment — most of us do not need to be told to be careful about being too abrasive while presenting opinions; we do not want other people stomping all over our happy peace of mind, such as it is, so we try to take care not to inadvertently do it to someone else.  This is pretty standard; almost everyone is at least nearly polite in person.  Not so online.

Before social media there was not a whole lot to indicate that the default position of so many people would be hostile attack in the face of opinions at odds with their own.  People at least gave the impression of possessing sane, objective powers of good judgment.  Now it seems unwise to expect that, since every day you’re online you’re likely to find yourself dealing with at least one psychotic fruitcake.  This is why we do background checks, and this is why potential employers google you:  to rule you out as the day’s nutcase, because the odds that you’re not are not in your favor.

Now, I’m open to online discussions with anonymous strangers, but to a fairly limited degree, because I’ve been online since about 1994 and by 1995, I’d learned the follies of  looking for meaningful interaction with random people on the internet.  Even nowadays in environs you’d expect to be safe, like the walls or accounts of family members, there’s no guarantee you won’t find yourself face to face, to so speak, with someone doing the internet equivalent of throwing himself on the floor, or throwing his own feces at the wall.

No place is safe, unless it’s a closed group of people who know each other, and really, how much fun is that?   Part of the awesome of the internet is being able to interact with so many people you don’t know and could probably never know otherwise.

Anyway.  Just thoughts; the “block” option is never far away, so for the time being it’s still worth the risk.  I have made some very rewarding long-term friendships that began online, and there’s a plus side too, that I’ll explore in another post.

Literary Voyeurism

I love writing blogs by writers.  Whether I’m a fan of someone’s work or not, if they blog about their writing process, I’ll probably follow whatever they post and look for them elsewhere online.

I have a few favorites; I like hearing about their habits & perspectives & daily lives; I look forward to their posts, and miss them on quiet days.  There are a few whose books I buy because the authors themselves have grown on me through their blogs and I want to support them, even if they’re writers in genres I don’t read.  The process, the progression of creation & refinement, is pretty much the same for all of us, and it’s the common theme in the sort of thing I keep up with and pay attention to online.  There are a few I even like best when they’re discussing things that have nothing to do with writing, just regular day-to-day stuff.

Is it weird that I’m more interested in the informal rants & ramblings of people whose fiction I may have no interest in?

This seems weird to me.

Let us begin

I’ll start with the name of the new journal.  I just wanted a placeholder; “Monkeycatmojo” was the first thing to come to mind.  My residence is home to multiple felines and the beast you see in this photo here:  image

is one of them.  She has the manners of a monkey, so there you go.

 

 

 

Because OLD SCHOOL that’s why.

A few years ago, for a number of reasons, I removed a public online journal I’d briefly kept.  I knew when I did it that I’d eventually have to come back to it, and it looks like that time is upon me.

Blogging as myself isn’t easy for me.   I like my privacy.  But the nature of publishing demands an online presence on a number of fronts, so here I am.

Last time, my focus was on the writing process. Not this time; I don’t think anyone but other writers cares a whole lot about that sort of thing.  It’d be fun and gratifying for me, sure, but it’d probably be boring for everyone else, and the point here is to have something interesting and extra and informal to say personally, apart from the books & published stuff (as yet on its way).  So… other topics.

I’m still figuring everything out.  Watch this space.