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SO! I am turning in THE SECRET WRITING PROJECT this week. Last night I borrowed a whole writing group from Susan Rebecca White (Lookit her fancy new website!) to get fresh eyes on this thing before I turn it in.

I have FIVE FULL SETS of notes on TSWP, and this morning was all about reading and rereading them, and then sorting the marked up MSes into piles as I decided which threads I needed to follow up on and integrate.

Let me show you what is NOT HELPFUL when one is trying to sort and integrate the valuable input of five disparate readers into piles that will allow one to tighten up one’s MS in a single intense revision instead of five separate whole MS pass-throughs. THIS! THIS IS NOT HELPFUL:

He moved from pile to pile, too, sitting on whatever one would be the least convenient for me in the coming moment with the kind of catly prescience that makes you understand why the Egyptians thought of them as divine.

He made the job take a good half hour longer than it should have, and I am pretty sure I LOST a page I really need in the wrong pile. I will either have to dig and find that page or I will have to MANUALLY REMEMBER exactly what it said, which is like saying “I will either have to dig and find that page or I will have to shoot a moon rocket out of my butt and colonize Luna.”

SPEAKING OF BUTTS, note that MangoCat was not SIDE-LOLLING or LOUNGING on his belly. He SAT on the piles. SAT! Still speaking of butts, he was effectively placing HIS all over the pages of my MS. Like a pink and disapproving STAMP!

It reminds me of that scene in Impromptu—one of my ALL TIME favorite movies. Did you ever see that? It’s Judy Davis as the writer George Sands, all about her mad affair with Chopin, played by a VERY young Hugh Grant…

OH it is an EXCELLENT scene – do you remember it? I can’t find it to embed, BUT here it is. If you have never seen Impromptu, RUN to Netflix. It is a rompy delight, start to finish.

ANYWAY, even though Mango seemed to be doing a milder version of HORSE-CRITIQUE with his back end, did I unceremoniously DUMP HIM off and work on in relative peace? No. I did not.

Did I so much as gently pick his MEASLY ELEVEN POUND SELF up and kiss his dear-dear-dearest nose and set him aside on a clear part of the table? No, I did not.

As he sat on a pile, I ear scratched him and crooned at him and buried my face in his luxurious mane to smell all the GOODNESS of him until he was ready to shift to whatever pile I might need next.

I have it SO bad for this cat. I have only loved an animal with this kind of consuming PASSION once. That was Gompers, also a yellow Tom, and after Gompers died… Well.

That was more than fifteen years ago and it still hurts. If you have read SHINE SHINE SHINE (Have you not? GOOD GRIEF, go GET IT NOW!) you may have noticed the excellent stalwart Captain is named Gompers, because Lydia is the most beautiful human on the planet, and she GETS how much he mattered to me. She had an animal of her deepest heart, too, a horse. So she put Gompers in space for me, hung him up like a star, and he is there forever.

I have had many, many animal friends, and I have loved them in a petly way and liked them all SO much and deeply enjoyed their silly company. But MANGO! OH MANGO! OH! This cat. OH this cat.

Sometimes I call him Mangompers. Not because I believe in Feline Reincarnation, but Mango and Gompers were both born in metro Atlanta, both long haired yellow toms with the same kind of lion face, the same kind of small, pert ear. Not too big a stretch to think they MUST share some genes, mayhap even a common ancestor. I like to think so.

I have developed the habit of singing to him, a song I think of as OUR SONG, and whenever I do, Scott cocks an eyebrow and shakes his head and has to LOOK AWAY in shame for me. And yet I am shameless, I am shameless in my love! HERE IT IS! THE LOVE SONG OF ME AND MANGO! You may think it is someone else’s love song, but you are very silly. And wrong. My love is more epic.

I especially like the lines about “All my life, I believed, I WOULD FIND YOU, time has brought your heart to me” because it is TRUE that I have been looking for HIM, the exact right right rightful cat. I saw Mango on the internet while surfing cat pRon in an ongoing MANY YEARS WORTH of hunt for him. I saw three little pictures, and I began yelling for Scott because I KNEW. I knew the second I saw him.

He was in a kill shelter and I called immediately and they said he was gone. I thought they meant “GONE!” So I hung up and got oddly WEEPY. Then I could barely sleep all night because I KNEW he was not gone. I KNEW. I felt so strongly that he was my cat. I called again the next day and asked for clarity. They said GONE meant only that a lady from a no kill shelter had come by with room to save seven cats. Mango, slated for doom, was the only non kitten she took with her.

WE IMMEDIATELY leaped in the car and went after him at the no kill place. The lady there told us he had kept putting his foot out of the cage to get her arm, ASKING her to please take him. He knew, too, of course, is how I interpret this. BECAUSE I AM DANIEL DAY LEWIS AND HE IS MADELINE STOWE!

When we went to the rescue to get him, he had just had dental surgery and he was logy and dispirited and unprepossessing, and yet I INSISTED. IT WAS HIM! I KNEW. SO we took him home, and he hid behind the clothes drier for a week, terrified and exhausted from being in shelters.

I just lay down on the tile floor and put my hand behind the drier and sang to him multiple times every day, until one day he took a little step forward and rubbed his face into my hand and then he came out from behind the drier, and he is in my lap right now, hampering me as I type this. He pretty much lives here, on me, and his default setting is purr. Me and Mango, we are an US.

Have you ever had an animal who was THE ANIMAL OF YOUR DEEPEST HEART? Who was it—or, if you are very lucky, who IS it?

33 comments to Mango! MANGO! MAAAANGO!

  • Yes oh yes I did. She was a scruffy little Aussie mix named Jethro. Ex-boyfriend and I went to the shelter looking for a MALE dog, see, because I didn’t want me no female dog, but this tiny little furball would toddle out of the shadowy rear of her cage whenever we walked by, and look at us hopefully, and toddle back resignedly when we kept walking past. And so we had to get her. She slept in my bed and I would wake up in the morning to find her lying at right angles to me, her furry little throat placed over mine, doing happy growls in my ear when she realized I was awake, too. She lived for 13 years and then visited me for many years more when I would take naps during the day. Even though she never lived in this house, I’d hear her bounding up the steps, tags a-jangle, and feel her POUNCE on the bed and snuggle down next to me and I’d pet her velvety ears and smell her frito feet until I woke up. She stopped visiting when we got a new dog, and he is a mighty fine and loveable dog, but he’s no Jethro.

  • Dew

    Oh yes. My sweet Lucycat. I miss her terribly. She chose me, a non-cat person, to be hers. It was pointless to resist. She came home with me and stayed quietly and privately in my closet for two weeks, and then came out and attached herself to my soul. I can still feel her purring on my sleeping body. She was perfect in every way.

  • His name was Sebastian. He was called Sebo and Bingo. His last name was McAwesomepants. Because he was the most awesome kitty to have ever breathed air. He looked Siamese, seal point, but he was not. He even has slightly crossed blue eyes. I met him very shortly after his birth, when his eyes were still closed. I would pick him up and hold him next to my heart and he would shakily snuggle, as newborn kittens do, and meow non-stop. I was just barely 16.

    I went back to that house to spend the night with my friend, who lived there, some weeks later, and there he was. As my friend lived on a farm, these were working cats and occasionally when their numbers got too great they were culled with a shotgun. These were not pets, these cats, and as it happened, Sebastian’s litter was culled along with his momma, but he was somehow missed. That night, as we sat in the family room listening to the storm rage outside, I heart a crying and the slight squeak of nails on glass and looked over at the door. There, pressed against the glass in the driest part of the porch, that was not so very dry really, was a 3 month old Sebastian. He was desperately trying to get in. My friend told me that he wasn’t allowed in the house, but I couldn’t bear the thought of him outside in that scary weather. I promised to keep control of him and brought him in. He curled right up on me, against my heart, and purred. I knew then that he was mine, and my dad let me bring him home.

    He was this awesome, patient kitty. He was great with babies of all breeds. I had a little cat for a while, a stray, who had kittens, and Sebastian would play with them and protect them. He was the best uncle kitty ever. He was the same with a rescued puppy I brought home. He let that puppy drag him around the house and would roll around and wrestle, but never hiss or claw. That’s not to say he wasn’t bad ass, because he most certainly was. He was the outside cat who regulated every one and everything. He killed all the rodents and left them on the front step, he fought all the ferals and Toms and won.

    And every night he would curl up against me and purr. He talked and talked and talked. I swear he could understand me. He was beautiful and wonderful and I know there will never be another Sebastian. He died a few months back at the age of 21. I thought, irrationally, that he would live forever. But he got old, he got slow, he lost his hearing. Still, he never stopped being the best cat I’ve ever known.

  • Brigitte

    Otto the cat, who was tragically stricken by a mysterious kitty stroke or something, out of the blue, when he was 5. I could wax rhapsodic about him, but though he died in 1996, I might still cry.

    And what is it with cats sitting on papers. Pretty sure they don’t do that in the wild! Or DO they . . ?

  • See this is why I hang out over here. Because you are my people, the one who sings to her cat. The cat of my heart was Hope. I saved her in college…her ear tip had been frozen off in the Indiana winter and her tongue had been sliced by getting into our garbage and licking the cat food can of my roommate’s cat. I had her for 19 years. I still have dreams about her. When I had to put her down, I immediately went and found Casper (lately I’ve been calling him The Great Caspy) the white cat on my blog. He is Momma’s Cat. I have a special language for him that annoys the hell out of my family, and he sleeps with me, but he will never quite be Hope, but close. We have five (!?) other cats, but none of them are Momma’s Cat but Caspy.

  • JessH

    I have my lovely Marco (also known as Monkey). The biggest love-whore of a cat ever. I rescued him from certain death, he had the most horrible green goo coming out of his entire face. And since he had to be dosed with antibiotics, gunk cleaned from him multiple times a day, he is the most tolerant cat I have ever had. You can do just anything to him (I have experimented) and he just loves you for it. And not only do I sing to him, he sings too! He is truly a remarkable, precious boy. I have never been so gaga over any pet.

  • Jess

    I fall for every cat I have, so I have 3. Calico, my most gorgeous fat cat, whom I prayed for and showed up under the house. She loved to sit on the newspaper I was trying to read, just like your Mango. After she died, it took 2 years and a lot of cajoling for me to take home Winston, a long haired one year old who liked to hide behind furniture and attack innocent passerby. My baby loved me most, because scared and skittish as he was, I would stare into his eyes and we understood each other. Also: I gave treats. That baby died far too early at the mouth of a tick. 3 years later, I have Jezebel, a baby kitten that I’ve wanted as long as I can remember as all of my cats have come to me as adults. I was not in any way prepared for how rowdy and bitey kittens can be, and I am all scratched up and still madly in love with this black and white furry baby. Yesterday, she learned how to unravel toilet paper. We have become an US too.

  • Margaret

    I am a cat lover from way back,but the animal that will always hold a part of my heart is my sweet pooch Sadie. She was a MUTT of the highest order. She ambled up onto the porch of the man I was dating. Scruffy, buff colored and FEISTY as hell! She was some kind of mixed up terrorist–I mean terrier. She loved me and my sister, but everyone else was on probation. I warned every man who visited not to wear sandals on the first visit–she bit their shoes. Every.Single.Time!

    She loved me through the death of my Mother and the hardest breakup of my life. She peed ON MY BED when I insulted her by taking the child I was babysitting for a ride in the car without her. (Do NOT even tell me dogs don’t have human emotions.)

    She disemboweled every single toy I ever bought for her…and I kept buying more because she enjoyed it so much. She caused me to make a terribly embarrassing phone call to the after hours vet when she ate an entire package of BIRTH CONTROL PILLS.

    She was starting to feel her age, and becoming less mobile, and I had prepared myself for the possibility to ending her suffering. She loved to sit at the top of the back yard and survey her territory, and I had left the door open so she could enjoy the sun that Halloween Day. I returned from work to find her stretched out (legs behind her as always) in her favorite spot having left me. I held her sobbing big, ugly tears in the backyard.

    I had her cremated and sprinkled her ashes into the creek behind the house. The creek she always ran to when she dug (another) hole under the fence. The creek where she had caught opossums and chased cats, and driven me to frustration that turned to laughter.

    Sadie/Sadist/Terrorist/Dog of my Life

  • Oh my goodness! These amazing stories are making me cry and I am lucky enough to have my soulmate kitty. I have loved all my pets just a little too much, but Zoey Stardust is the queen of my heart. I found her in a Petsmart cage surrounded by gorgeous, blue-eyed Siamese mixes. I wanted to adopt one of those meezers, but then I asked the adoption coordinator which one had the adult cats had best purrsonality. She scooped up Zoey from the back of a cage and deposited her in my arms. Our eyes met and I knew. Instant recognition. I sing to her all the time. You Are My Sunshine. Because that’s the song my grandfather used to sing to me when I felt sick or sad…even in my dreams after he passed away.

  • I had a puppy when I was child, but she will remain forever a puppy as her story is a sad one. After that, I loved NOT an animal until the house sparrow, Charlie. I know. I know. It’s a bird–and a wild one at that. I rescued her from certain death as she was lying naked next to my car tire. Alas, we raised her to leave, but I’ve not loved another animal like that since.

  • I had a golden retriever named Buddy (long before Air Bud). Due to his constant, ahem, retrieving, my parents made me give him away. I held onto him until the truck drove away and left me sobbing in a pile in my front yard. I was 13 years old. At that moment, I think I believed he was the only living being that had ever really loved me.

  • Christina

    Mine is Mollie–a German Shepherd mixed with something else that allowed her to be the perfect knee-high height for my small frame. She just turned 14, and although she is relatively healthy, it’s so hard to watch her age. I’ve had her since I was a teenager and she was mere weeks old, and after my father passed away, she came to live with me for good. She guarded his bedside when he was sick, and was so vigilant that not a few people who came to visit referred to her as his “tiny guardian angel.” She is by no means perfect–she tends to yowl and has sass to spare, but she is the dog of my life, and I know that the day I lose her will be the day I lose a little more of my dad.

  • Fran

    You quoted music? This is, indeed, true love!

    Smudge, our Gordon setter, when I was a toddler, who let only me sleep with him and bit everyone else.

    Nikki, the terrier mix, who followed me everywhere except to college.

    Dante, our Malamute cross, who died in my arms. I’m crying now, remembering him. A pretty boy and he knew it, and he trusted everyone, which was his downfall.

    Callie, my calico kitty, who was my son’s first word and who died at 16 years old, holding one of my socks.

    Lillian’s was Tiger, a tabby who would wrap around her and purr.

    We have two cats now, and they’re unique and special, but they’re not our hearts-love.

  • Mine was a horse named Spirit. We spent 24 years together. My exhusband wa even jealous of him. He always complained that I cared more about my horse than him. When the husband left I panicked for two weeks. When the horse died I cried every day for six weeks. Guess he was right!

  • That was my Pan: he loved me and me only, and did I ever love him. His song was “You are my Pan-Pan” to the tune of “You are my sunshine” and I still miss him, and tear up at that song.

    Carlos, my current love, has a song, too: “You make me so very happy…” Nothing like the love of these guys, is there? Great story, you and Mango (I knew you didn’t move him).

  • myra fabian

    A friend just – and I mean Friday of last week – lost her love, Chobe, a German Shepard with a long, well-loved life. In her grief, I am re-living mine – Dharma, my wire-haired doxie mix, who chose me out of all the others in Columbus, GA. It’s been 4 years, and I still talk to her as she sits in her little box under a choir of Willow Tree angels on top of our entertainment center.

  • Rae Petty

    Her name was Nicky. And she was the most beautiful cat. And I miss her every day :*(

  • Les in az

    I had a sweet basset hound named Bonnie whom I even wrote an unpublished kids picture book. She had the sweetest personality, and the sweetest l o n g ears you can imagine. I loved her dearly.

  • Jill

    My dear Macduff was my cat- i adored him and told him all my secrets- good and not so good. Macduff was a great listener and a true lap cat. Other cats have come into my life, but none like Macduff..

  • Jabberwocky

    I have had the good fortune to have two: Jack, an orange tabby, and Emma, a German Shepherd. Both were rescues who chose me. I sang shamelessly to both of them. I lost Jack to cancer almost five years ago and Emma passed away at seventeen three years ago. I miss them every day.

  • I’ve had many beloved cat-pets over the years, but Cosmo is THE ONE. I’d been without a cat for some time, which was a sad state of affairs, and I thought from time to time of going out and getting a cat, because life is just so much better with a cat. But I knew, I just knew, that when the time was right, my cat would find me. I’d imagine that one day I might be out for a walk, and there would be a small, hungry, lost kitty by the side of the road, begging me to take him home. Time passed. I missed having a cat. And then one day I went out for a walk, and there, his little triangular head sticking its little triangular ears out from the tall grass beside a banana path, was a small, hungry, lost little cat. He looked at me and I looked at him and I laughed and said, “someday is today!” And oh my gosh, some days I think I love that cat more than I love my husband, which is not really true, but it’s such a pure, uncomplicated love, even when he (the cat, not my husband) leaves a half-eaten mouse in my shoe. I love that when I think of Cosmo — who wanders off, god-knows-where for most of the day — within a few minutes he turns up, purring and looking for a hug and a treat. … LOL, and here he is now!

  • Impromptu is one of my favourite movies ever. I love it strongly, exclusively, steadfastly.

  • Tequila Cookie Chris

    Jessie. She was That. Dog. and as much as I love our knucklehead pack, not a one could ever hold her place. I rescued her from a bad situation and she repaid me by being only slightly crazy, steadfastly loyal, and protective. She destroyed some things in her time, kept order amongst the other pups, and was the source for the best nap positions. That dog communicated more with her eyes than most people I know can with all of their words/ gestures/ etc.
    The weekend she died we knew it was coming and yet I was completely unprepared for just how awful it was. I loved that dog.

  • Gail

    I must say I get pretty attached to all of my animals. Our whole family kind of has a special thing for this cat named Mitchell. He showed up as a scrappy little kitten screaming his head off in our backyard, and since we brought him inside, he hasn’t meowed at all (for six years). When my father went outside to see if he could catch him, he ran straight into my father’s arms like he’d been waiting for him. We couldn’t find anyone who had lost an orange kitten, and although we loved him, we already had four cats, so we tried to find another home for him. Then my father died a few weeks later and we just kept him. He is the sweetest cat known to man. He sleeps for about 23 hours a day and is often too lazy to walk to dinner. He climbs up on people’s chests and sits there purring up a storm. He climbs under blankets. My grandmother who is firmly a dog person is in love with this cat because he is basically a baby; he just wants to be held and petted and covered with blankets all day.

  • Martha

    We rescued a shepherd mix from the kill shelter. She was already about 4 years old. She was skinny and scabby and skittish. She loved us by the second day and was the Best. Dog. Ever. My husband was not strong enough to take her to the vet to be put down when her time came, so I had to do it. Her ashes are buried in our garden.

    We have a new shepherd mix puppy now whom we love, (Lizzie-the-world’s-most-expensive-free-dog) and she’s got potential, but she will never live up to our beloved Melanie.

  • Boo, my evil, flesh-ripping black devil-cat. I can call her that because we are family. Nobody…and I mean NOBODY would love this cat as I do. We were meant to be, and she knows it as well as I do. That’s why she sleeps next to my face and doesn’t rip it off and sometimes, when it is late and she is too tired to care, she purrs loud enough that I can hear her. Sometimes she actually wants me to hear so she lets me put my head on her side where I can remember that she is soft and flexible and fragile in the way that all good things are who need our love and protection. And forgiveness.

    So much forgiveness.

    But it is hers, every single time.

  • Joy

    Simon, I am lucky to say, is 19ish and still going, although every day I practice saying goodbye because I know I will never be ready. I adopted him when he was 5 yrs old, squeezed into a double cage at the shelter because at 28 lbs, he didn’t fit into a single cage. He was reticent and distinguished looking, but walking around the room full of cages, looking for a spritely kitten, something kept pulling my heart toward him. I’d just been discharged from a psych hospital and adopting a pet was supposed to be the thing that would keep me on the earth, connecting me to somebody.

    And he keeps connecting me, day after day, with his love and contentment. He didn’t qualify for insurance due to his kidney/liver complications due to his weight, and even though I dropped his weight to a healthy 12 lbs with good, pricey and homemade food, he’s had so many surgeries and complications that I will be paying them off for years–about $15k worth. Part of me feels guilty for having spent so much on a cat, when there is so much need in the world, but he is Simon, and there is no other explanation necessary.

  • Erin

    My sweet giant black kitty, Neko, is the heart of my heart. He is 7 years old, and I have made a deal with the devil to ensure that he lives forever, because I cannot begin to imagine what life would be like without him. He is around 20lbs., with the sweetest little face and soft furry belly. Neko is so loving it’s almost ridiculous–all he wants is for people to pay attention to him and lavish him with love and admiration. He plays fetch, and loves to lay on his back and show people his belly, and he purrs so loudly you can hear it three counties over. But he is definitely MY cat, mostly–he follows me everywhere (cannot abide it if I try to go into the bathroom and shut the door), and every morning as soon as I am awake (even before I have opened my eyes) he somehow senses it and hops up on the bed, meowing and head-butting me until I scratch between his ears.

    He is THE BEST. Bar none.

  • Gilly

    Cheshli was my heart and soul. He too was an orange cat.My first.Found him at a shelter in some other potential parent’s arms but knew instantly that we belonged together.I sent evil messages to her and luckily it worked as she said she wanted to check another shelter.
    S we came home – he talking all the way.He was named partly for the Cheshire cat as he always had a smile and ‘li’ is Hebrew for ‘me’ or ‘mine’

    He did so desperately want to go investigate the outdoors so I let him become an indoor-outdoor cat. The first time he went out he came home with the neighbour’s cat. Seriously. He really did.
    He got along with all the cats and in fact everyone.

    I too would sing to him and he would flop into my arms in the bed.
    I miss him so much.

    Thanks for allowing me to talk about my ‘bundle of boy – my bundle of joy’

  • Kacie

    Does Mango like to play in boxes? If so, you can try setting an empty box on the table/desk next to you. He can sleep in the box and you can get some work done without him sitting on it.

  • His name was Sky, because he had blue eyes. He was a lynx tabby (Siamese/tabby mix) and he was beautiful. I got him as a kitten when I was 7, and he died when I was 25. He followed me around, he slept on my pillow and yanked my hair in the middle of the night, he bit me when he got really affectionate, and drooled really quite a lot. He listened attentively when I practiced my flute, and when I had the nerve to go away for 9 days my senior year in high school, he only managed to hold onto his haughty disdain for about a minute, and then he hurled himself into my arms. It’s been almost twenty years since he died, and I still miss him.

  • You and your orange cat got me thinking about Leo, the cat who showed up on our doorstep and stayed for the rest of his life. We loooooved Leo. Now another cat has showed up, this time via my daughter’s FB page, and I’ve just applied to take her in. Swore I wouldn’t go through this again…but she urgently needs a new home and someone who can give her some lovin’ care. I’m sure Leo would recommend us:)

  • Aparatchick

    It was Moose, the cat my husband referred to as “the cat of little brain, but big heart.” All Moose ever asked was that people pet him. Well, and feed him. He loved everyone: friends, relatives, neighbors, the UPS guy, the pool guy (Moose always tried to help him), even the next door neighbor’s dog. My husband used to travel for months at a time, but Moose was there every.single.day. waiting for me as I walked through the door after a hard day at work. He was the sweetest, most good-natured animal I’ve ever known. There will never be another.