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What We Talk About When We Talk About Cat Vomit

There’s things I can’t blog about. Stories I can’t tell. Sometimes I can’t tell them because they aren’t mine. Sometimes they are PART-mine, but if it isn’t mine outright, I do not tell the story. I try not to even refer to the stories.

The upshot is, last year I blogged very little, and when I did, I blogged about …

the extremely loud and incredibly close cat vomit festival that woke us up around 2 am. Let us set the stage. Our bedroom is ALL hardwood floors, with a single, tiny, rectangle of carpet that is mostly there to give the dogs traction so they can jump onto the bed. Maybe 2 square feet of carpet in the WHOLE LARGE MASTER BEDROOM.

Guess where the cat chose to rid himself of his hairball?

I rolled to Scott and said, What are geneticists even DOING? With their LIVES? Cloning sheep? PLEASE. Why can’t they invent a cat who will puke on HARDWOODS?

Scott: That’s not genetic. It isn’t comfortable to stand on the cold floor, puking.

Me: Then they should make cats who are smart enough to stand on the carpet and hang their heads OVER the hardwoods and just PUKE there, with their feet all comfy.

Scott: That’s not really what geneticists do.

Me: WELL, THEY SHOULD.

Scott: It would be better if they made a cat with four stomachs, like a cow. Then cats could just puke internally, from one stomach to the next.

Then I laughed until I wept. Then we cleaned the carpet. And by We I mean Scott, because he is noble and great and does not sympathy puke when he has to dispose of expunged biological matter and its vile effluvium.

And perhaps even this is an overshare? Our young assistant pastor was all flustered because I said on this blog that Scott is a good kisser.

(Ya’ll, he SO is. And nineteen years into the marriage, why is it embarrassing or surprising for young people to hear it? BE GLAD, YOUNG PEOPLE! Be GLAD it is possible to still like kissing your best guy, yea verily, these two decades later.)

This is why being a novelist is SO GREAT, because I can tell ANY STORY I WANT. I don’t mean this in the Anne Lamott way of exboyfriends. To paraphrase, Lamott says you can put any old exboyfriend you want, very recognizeably and with extreme cruelty into a novel, and he will NEVER NEVER call you on it, so long as you explicitly state what a small penis the character has. No guy will admit it’s him, not even just long enough to sue you.

And yes, I have had tempty moments when RAGE happened. It was extremely—OH SO EXTREMELY—tempty, to make Coach or Claire Richardson (characters in GROWN UP KIND OF PRETTY) look like My Mortal Enemy. (Remember Her or Him? Well, my Mortal Enemy looks NOTHING like a Richardson. *clears throat.*

Because I edited.

I edited because it was LOW, and it FELT GOOD in that awful itchy way being LOW can make you feel. SO good. Bleh. OH, IT IS HARD NOT TO BE LOW. To NOT put the jab in. Sometimes I fail and am low. But not that one time. So. Celebrate the little victories, yes?

This last year I have had so many stories happen, things I want to write about in a literal way, but can’t. There have been brush fires and implosions in the high grass. Things happen, but I do not wholly own them. SO these things—- I put them in a compost pile. It is all rotting away into sludge, and then later, I’ll write about what grows out of that sludge. It;s how the books come. It is where they come from. By then, the people who were witnesses to the actual event, they almost never make the connection. Because it is SO FAR from literal. I can see it — clearly, because at the thematic heart, it is the same story. I write about love failing, kindness failing, hope failing. I wrote about how we come back from that, or don’t.

Sure I put lines and sayings and images and moments that “real” or from memory into books. Of course I do. But the lowdown things that matter—other people’s secrets, where they intersect my own…There’s a 5 – 20 year gap between the event and my ability write about it.

I won’t write in ANY literal way what I don’t own,and I own so few things outright, recently. SO it just has to go be composted. SO this has been the year of blog infrequently. Mostly about Cat Vomit.

Look, a picture of Mango, meticulously foot-grooming, reloading his hairball-cannon second stomach! How shiny. How shiny he is!

15 comments to What We Talk About When We Talk About Cat Vomit

  • So, I have heard that they vomit on the carpet because it gives them the illusion that they can bury it because it is soft. Ours vomits on the carpet except when she can’t make it and then it’s on a windowsill or a bloort in the hallway.

  • Chris

    So glad you are back, telling whatever stories you desire. Now that beloved dad Jackson is recovering, are we going to get to Organ III, post fasting?

  • Melody

    That is the only downside to having a long haired cat. But they are so beautiful! At least you didn’t step in it after the fact. This time anyway 🙂 Something squicky to look forward to! I like how you process by writing fiction.

    And I agree that retaliation does not make us better, only more like the one we are angry with. I still process that on the inside but know it as truth.

  • I use the compost metaphor as well. I think I got it from Natalie Goldberg. I just wrote a fun kid’s story and read it to the boys. In it, there’s a boy named Reece who creates intricate Lego blueprints. Haydn said, “That’s because of me!” And he sounded so excited. When I mentioned a little boy almost drowning in the ocean, David squealed, “That’s ME!” I don’t put those things in on purpose. It’s just that they are there, in the compost pile, and sometimes they grow into a story. It’s probably one of my favorite things. Another favorite thing is my husband not being a sympathy-puker. God bless him. We have strong men, friend. Brave men.

  • Reading that kinda hurt my brain a little bit. . .because I felt like I should be “getting” something that I’m not smart enough to get. Like I was THERE, and so you think I get the thing you’re saying, so you make “you know” eyebrows in my direction, and I give you a “got it” nod just glad to be included in the group of people that you think will understand. That being said, I have been teaching the holocaust to 8th graders all week long, so my brain cells are somewhat mushy. Either way–I just love to read your words–all of them. Insert knowing nod here.

  • I think if you write about real things, or fiction things, or cat vomit, your words are brill. YOU ARE BRILL. Carry on.

  • Fran

    If I am ever part of a peripheral story, you absolutely have my permission to tell it!

    Yay to Scott for cleaning up the yuck. I think cats perform perfect algebra. They figure your leg length, your preferred out-of-bed stance (or in our case, exactly where you’ll step through a doorway), check for wind velocity and temperature, and then hork up something nasty where you’re going to step.

    I’m so glad you can take the trouble times and turn them into magic, and you do! Oh yes, you do! Yay you!

  • Brigitte

    I would have just thrown away that carpet, you can get various little rugs on clearance here and there and stock up. But really, wasn’t that MANGO’S story?

    Hee, kidding. I totally get not wanting to write about the real stuff, because no matter how circumspect you are, you never know when it’ll come back and bite you in the butt. Seeing it’s preserved on teh interwebs forever.

  • Linda J

    When all else fails cat vomit is a safe subject. I had this post all figured out and then my brain just went to mush thinking about all the stuff I could write about and all the people that I could fry…

    Sorry I’m not awake yet…

    Eagerly awaiting Love Story…

  • Jan in Norman, OK

    Sweetie, we’ll revel in anything you care to share with us.

  • You perfectly nailed one of the major problems I have with writing and blogging…very hard not to requisition others’ stories or invade loved ones’ privacy. As for letting them marinate in the compost…the memory isn’t so good, so they are often lost forever once discarded.

  • Lulu

    Compost piles are wondrous things. Did you know you can even compost an entire, complete-but-dead cow?!! Really. See here: http://bit.ly/W9zEtC

    I happen to know that the graphic designer who had to illustrate and design that booklet had a hard time not gagging. And then she wanted to bleach her whole computer afterwards. Just in case.

    And my own Seymour carefully puked on little rugs where he could pull up the corner and cover the surprise. Or else he puked strategically in nighttime pathways. I still giggle remembering the noises my teenager made when he found that with his bare feet…

    So, yeah, compost and cat vomit. And euphemisms. Oh, my.

  • Lulu

    Oh, and I am sorry to hear your nemesis is still nemesing. (nemesising?) I had hoped that when there was no more of the reportage that the situation had improved.

  • This is the reason I only blog once a week and it’s typically a recipe, anymore. My past year was so not-mine, and so much of it needs to compost before I could hope to think about it at all. But there are books there, down the road.

  • Hey Joshilyn, I just sent you an email that is probably going to go right to your spam folder. It’s about how you get the font the way it is. I have the same template on my publicist’s blog but can’t for the life of me get it bigger. Check your email for me if you can help? thanks !