So, I've got two cats: TyGrr and Sprocket. They're sisters and more often than not are fierce cuddle monsters. TyGrr tells me when it's time to go to bed and Sprocket wakes me up. My cats are damn cute and good at what they do.Take Sprocket for example. She's agoddamndorable and has a very loud purr that sounds more like pigs grunting than a tiny cat. She is usually found curled up in as tight a ball as she can muster in the cat-tree, my daughter's room or on my bed. Even as I type this she is on my lap purring away, being all soft and sweet. She's a cat.


...if there are black sandals around...


Not my sneakers. Not my workout shoes. Not my husbands shoes, nor my daughter's flip-flips. Just MY black wedge sandals.

She ravaged them. Bite marks, more holes than Tampa's strip clubs and a few chunks taken out. Seriously, my cat has a mad-on for black sandals. It didn't end there, though. I'd catch her with one in her mouth, walking across the room with it as if to take it to her lair wherein she would mete out certain doom and despair. Multiple times.

Those sandals died. I should've gotten a picture for posterity, but it was too gruesome, really. So I tossed them and bought new ones last week.

That same night, I caught her walking across the room with one in her mouth. To keep my cat from mauling my shoes I have to put said shoes in a drawer.

Yeah. Apparently, this is how Sprocket sees herself.

Social Media

So, I had a great lunch today with a friend I don't see nearly often enough. Good face time seems to be more scarce than a chupacabra sometimes. Anyway, talking with her made me realize it's been forever since I talked to one of my bestest soulfriends in the Universe. And this, led me to thinking about how social media has impacted the way we all interact with one another. So, here are some things I dig about the social network.

1) It's Easy: I admit it. I can be lazy. When I was in college (before Facebook, Twitter and MySpace), I had like a handful of friends that I saw every day. We constantly talked or hung out or IMd and all that stuff. And it's not hard to understand why. Well, other than being socially awkward and trying to figure out who the hell I was, my favorite shows were Sex and the City, Friends and Queer as Folk. Think about what you see here (and on most shows, for that matter)... a tight group of 4-6 people form your ensemble cast. Anyone who comes in is a guest star. They don't last long, just help spin plot and fill time during season lag. And at that time in my life, it felt like the writers for those shows were doing the scripts for my relationships. Face time in these kinds of situation comedies is easy, because the core cast is always together. Maintaining friendships like that is simple.

But then, stuff changed. I moved and my life got out of the holding pattern it was in. My social circles exploded. Suddenly, I had to work to make sure everyone got time and that blew my mind. This is one reason that I love social media. It allows me to have daily interactions with people even if we can't make time to sit down and see each other.

2) Reunion: I have reconnected with people I knew in high school. Some were really close friends then and we've picked up right where we left off. Others? Others I didn't talk to much because in that funhouse mirror that is high school, I thought they hated me. I totally dig that with Facebook, I can get to know these people as *people* and not as a series of socially aggravated neuroses. We're (mostly) whole people now. We've grown into ourselves and all of that petty shit that seemed monumental back then, isn't. So, I love that I have made friends with old enemies or people I was too scared to talk to then. Those people are some of my best friends and biggest supporters right now. 3) Cute pictures of cats: This is pretty obvious. Go on internet. Find pictures of cats. Share link. This happens all the time on Twitter, Facebook and every other social site you'll find. Sometimes, it's the one thing that can turn a bad day into a tolerable one. Seriously, just look at that kitty! KITTY!

4) Networking: I admit that with few exceptions, I have compartmentalized my social media use. MySpace? Irrelevant. Deleted. Facebook? Friends and family. Google+ ? Still figuring that one out. Twitter? Twitter is my place for professional networking. It's my water cooler. While yes, I talk to friends there, mostly, I use Twitter to listen to and have conversations with other writers, agents, editors etc. And it's so cool that we can all do that. We can all find people with similar interests and geek out about it... and hopefully become better at our passions. Added bonus? Some of those writers and agents I started following for professional advice became people I consider to be good friends who've helped me through some rough spots on this journey. They're people I drink chai with in the morning from a few time zones away. And I think that is pretty damn cool.

*5) Pure Shits and Giggles: I admit it. It gives me the chance to continue to annoy my ex and act as a force of castrophony in the lives of others. Oh, and there's an endless supply of awesome videos, time sinks and Dr. Who quotes flying about at any given time. ("That's all I am now. Rude and not ginger.")

Social media is part of living in the future. Some may ask if the Internet has killed privacy, if it's made us worse. Some may argue that we have a stronger sense of community and humanity because of the Internet. I dunno. I'm in the middle. Nothing beats good face time and shared tiramisu with one of your tribe...but when that's not possible, a hug on Twitter can really change your day.

What about you? Do you use social media? Do you separate business/family/friends? Weigh in.

*edited after original post.

No Place Like It

I used to think of "home" as a tangible thing. It was some immutable place that I could pinpoint on a map and find with a compass. It was a place you could get to by boat or a train, even if it was far far away. Landmarks showed the way and gave flavor to worn, familiar paths. "Home" had a welcome mat and a front door. I used to think that "home" was a brick-and-mortar establishment.

After a week abroad,  I realize that I was wrong. And I'm glad of it.

Home is much stronger than four walls and a red dot on a GPS. As I witnessed when traipsing around my old stomping grounds this past week, places change. Schools are torn down and re-built. Businesses fold. Houses crumble. Roads are widened and those paths shift in new directions, tributaries that dry or swell with time.

Home isn't tangible. It isn't a stationary place, nor is it something I can pack on my back and take with me. (More is the pity.) Home is not a house, but the memories found there. Home is not a door mat, but the welcoming smile above it. Home is made by the people around you.

Last week, I went to Indiana and saw family and friends I haven't seen in too many years. I went home. I was with people I love and that love me in return. Today, I got on a series of planes and flew 1700 miles back to Phoenix. Home. My daughter's arms around my neck, husband's lips against my cheek, all in one delicious and warm embrace: Home. This kind of dual citizenship was, at a time, confusing. Much like the parable about  a man's inability to serve two masters, how can someone feel perfectly at home in more than one place?

My home is a nomadic one. And I'm glad. Because it won't be overgrown by weeds or commerce. It is wherever my Ohana is.

My family. Of blood and of choice.


Letters To/From Home

So, I made it to Indiana. Thus far my trip has been a mixture of face-searing laughter, mild frustration and happy reunions that leave a wake of sadness where all I can think is, "Wish you were here." I miss my husband, our daughter, our cats and my friends. There are things I want to show them, people I want them to meet, stories I want them to tell. But, teleportation technology being a ways off, I can't always get what I want.
But, as the Stones said, sometimes, you get what you need*.

I got up at the taint of dawn on Saturday to get to the airport. I opted out of the backscatter machine and got a very friendly and professional patdown. Now, some people may not enjoy getting felt up by a stranger at 5 in the morning, but, I wasn't as experimental in college as others. I decided to make up for lost time. Once I was through security, I had about 30 minutes until boarding. I got to the very full gate to find that due to rough weather in Chicago we were going to be delayed at least 2 hours. (I could've slept in, dammit!) Oddly, though, 30 seconds later, an attendant said that we would begin boarding. Good times. Flight was a bit rough coming in to the Windy City, but then that is usually the way. Once I got there, I started to do my Flash Gordon impression and bolt to my connection. Here, we did have an hour delay. After a rollercoaster southward, I landed in my home town, good ol' Indianapolis.
It's different.
The airport has changed, the suburbs have grown up...this place *looks* like my home, but at the same time, it looks almost alien. But, even without my glasses, I could tell that the blurry figure standing at the outer edge of the security checkpoint was my dad, smiling and welcoming me here. He and I got a few minutes to chat, got a rental car and I began my trip north to Logansport.
I took a different route. I've never driven this particular country highway, but damn if it wasn't faster. I didn't have my familiar music or my worn old landmarks on the side of the road (like the greasy spoon/fueling station that suggests you "Eat Here and Get Gas"). When I got to Logansport, I went to my aunt's new house. My family waited there for me. Cousins, their children, aunts...all of them faces and personas I know blindfolded and upside-down, but people who have grown and changed in innumerable and vague ways.
I went in to talk to my grandmother first thing. She's not well. She has these spells. Dizzy, pain, vision going black and just bone-weary. She *is* improving, though. Even with that daily improvement, she knows. She told me that last week she thought she'd be gone this week. That this was it. But, she said, it's almost time. She's tired. It's getting near time to go home.
I spent a few days with her and my aunt. Cousins dropped by and the house was filled with the ring of voices I haven't heard in far too long. Yesterday, though, it was time for me to leave for Indianapolis for a couple of days with my Dad and his family.
I had to say goodbye to my grandmother. And both of us knew the moment for exactly what it was. The last time we'd have to see one another face to face until the next life. I am blessed to have had this moment, I know. It is precious to me. Sacred. But it doesn't change the fact that walking out that door, starting the car and heading south hurt like a bitch.
I fought off tears the whole drive to my Dad's place, telling myself "just make it home, then you can cry". After I got here, though, I didn't cry. I had to get ready and go to dinner with old friends. Back in 7th grade I met a very special group of people. We weren't cool. We were awkward kids who found one another and learned how to be ourselves with one another. Last night, I got to have dinner with 3 of these people...all grown up.

We realized that we've known eachother for 19 years. Our friendship is old enough to vote! As little as 4 years ago, I saw one of these friends, but for one it has been 13 years. Sitting around the table last night was surreal. We have traded our Jolt cola and Cheetos for Jack and Coke and enchilladas, but the jokes and warmth are the same. We have kids now. Jobs. Wisdom to offer. Experience. We toasted one another because if it hadn't been for this tight little group, none of us would be here. We didn't sit there rehashing old times for hours, or awkwardly trying to get to know one another again. We didn't have to. It was like being with those people from 19 years ago...except more distilled. More whole. And without Nirvana playing in the background.

So far my trip has been a lesson in opposites. Sadness and joy. Reunion and goodbye. Change and consistancy. And due to humidity my hair has been so fucking fluffy I thought small children were going to try to cuddle it and name it Mr. Fuffles. (Seriously, how did I live with this kind of hair volume for 24 years and forget about it?)
Today, I've been trying to decompress. I feel numb, honestly. It's been an emotional roller coaster. I sat out on my dad's porch today, intending to read and I was instead accosted by one of the cats. Sox is roughly the size of a small outboard motor and purrs just as loudly. He is all muscle, built like a linebacker. A very furry, adorable linebacker. And he is quite insistant when he wants his devotions. He sat on my lap and demanded pettins for about 45 minutes leaving me with claw marks on my hands (from when I stopped before he was ready) and enough fur on my clothes to really piss off PETA. I tried to stand up at one point and he shifted all of his weight against me so I had to sit down. I love this cat.
Anyway, I've rambled long enough, I think. I should consider getting lunch or something. Tonight, dinner with family. Tomorrow, I visit my grandfather for his birthday. Then... home to Arizona.
*I would like to just add that I have heard that song no fewer than 3 times in the car this week.

Sunday Quickie

 So, my brain is fried from a weekend spent out in the sun. We had a great time with some friends on Friday playing some D&D (4th edition; I was running a Drow Warlock for those of you who are curious). Then, after tending to some housework, Saturday saw us heading across town to spend time swimming, gaming, eating and talking with still more friends. We stayed there last night rather than trek back home and make two 5 year olds cry for missing one another and spent today in the pool. I'm tired.

So, I thought I would write a quick post that has nothing to do with writing, agents, short stories, politics or cons. But what should we talk about? My brain feels about the same consistency as tapioca pudding right now, so I'm not up for much. I thought I'd do a post about... my cats!

So, a couple of Septembers ago, I got a call from my friend Zen. She said that a stray had given birth to three kittens at her apartment and that the kittens would be ready for homes just about the time that my daughter K turned 4. Two of the litter were jet black and K's birthday is just before Halloween. It seemed to be kismet.

Factoid: The husband and I rent our house and our lease says no pets. Depressed, I turned down Zen's offer.

Well, flash forward about 6 months...last spring. You know how some people get the "must have a baby" crazies? I developed a strange need to have cats in the house. I grew up with cats and dammit, I missed the patter of paws. So, I talked it over with Sean. He missed kitties, too. We got approval from the landlord and talked to Zen. She still hadn't found homes for 2 of the 3 kittens. Zen, Sean and I got together so we could meet the fuzzies.

TyGrr and Sprocket, sisters wee, couldn't be separated. That much is certain. They used to snuggle together all the time and it was evident that if one came home with us so would the other. Sprocket was aptly named. Sleek, black and spring-loaded, this one bounced all over the place. TyGrr, stripey with a very fuzzy white tummy, was a little love. She purred and loved getting pettin's. But, it was obvious that she was trouble. How one can fit so much cuteness and mischief into such a tiny body is beyond me.

Last July, the girls came to live with us. They've been a blessing to us all ever since. In that time, Sprocket has gotten to be a big black cat. Her gravity is strong. She sits in the front window of our house all day, soaking up the rays of the sun. Then, she lays down on you, purring, and imparts all of that gravity to you. You can't move. You can't fight it. I'm convinced that Sprocket's ancestors include a Black Hole and the G'mork from Neverending Story. For as big as she is, she has this pitiful little mew.

TyGrr is still a petite little thing. She is our escape artist. She wants to go outside, flop under the orange tree and roll in the reddish dirt...getting it all over her gorgeous white paws ... and our carpet. *sigh* She demands our worship in the form of tummy rubs. Of the two, she is the most vocal.

These are our cats. They make our life a little furrier, funnier and their purrs are just what our family needed to be complete.