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A cross-post from A Cop and a Lawyer Walk into a Bar…

A friend and I are undergoing a new blog attempt, over at A Cop and a Lawyer Walk into a Bar.  It is mostly fictional silliness and oddities we pick up here and there. Here is my first post:

 

Cat’s Paw (Chapter One)

Ms. Kotka pulled her kelly green hood over her dark hair as she walked back to the small basement office she shared with her new partner.  She passed the open garden square near the pound where they had met. The remaining tree leaves hung on with a steel grip in the bitter November wind as their fallen compatriots seemed to dance up the sidewalk towards the center of town.  Ms. Kotka pulled the hood more tightly about her face as she walked toward the door.  The graying shingle hung above clattered against the small stoop light as she opened the door and walked in.

Cat’s Paw
We buy it all,
We sell it all.
Inquire within.
Leopold Muridae, Proprietor

Her modest heels faintly clicked on the dusty tile floor.

Mr. Muridae, Ms. Kotka called out, I hope you have the stove lit, it’s bitter cold outside.

It’s smoking away merrily puss, a thin reedy voice replied, come revive yourself with a warm beverage.

Ms. Kotka wound her way through the overstuffed and under-dusted shelves, tables, and cases holding the bulk of the shop’s curios and back into the small living space behind the store.  She hung her coat on the rack beside the door as she stepped over the threshold.

The room was warm and cozy, a bright fire peeking out at her from behind the iron stove front.  Mr. Muridae sat at his paper strewn desk, working on the computer, while a half-nibbled grilled cheese sandwich sat ignored by his side.  Mr. Muridae was thin, reedy, and as grey as the day she had just firmly shut outside.  He was dressed in a smart tweed vest and trousers, wore golden eyeglasses on his face, and had the dusty appearance of a true scholar.

Kitty, he piped, it’s awfully cold outside.  Are you sure you are up for tonight?

Ms. Kotka settled into a cushion before the fire and reached for the tea kettle on the cast iron stove.  She poured herself a generous helping of milk, added a few drops of tea, and set her mug on the stove to heat.

 I am loathe to leave such a cozy abode to wander about in this weather, however, if you say I need to go out again, then I need to go out again.

The firelight caught on her greenish golden eyes and glimmered off the buttons on her lovely green dress.

I believe I have finally mastered the art of this silly thing, here try it on.  Mr. Muridae climbed down off the chair and carried a bedraggled shawl over to Ms. Kotka.  Attached to it was a tiny rusted broach hiding a small remote camera.

Ms. Kotka grumbled as she took the scarf .  It was unpleasant in the extreme to leave her lovely clothes behind and don this nasty thing.

All this cloak and dagger nonsense Mr. Muridae, there must be a neater, tidier, and perhaps less stinky way to accomplish our goal? Ms. Kotka held one end of the filthy shawl up in the air and wrinkled her nose in distaste.

Kitty, I’ve told you.  If we are going to get the footage we need, then we must move about the city unnoticed.  If you wandered through the back alleys as you currently look it would attract attention! Now go change into your costume and let’s get to work.

Do you mind if I finish my tea before I go back out into the chill? Ms. Kotka replied archly.

Of course not, and I apologize.  Warm yourself and rest from your day.  Once you are ready we will begin.  In the meantime, I have some final adjustments to make. He returned to his desk, scattered in papers, and within seconds was absorbed in whatever was on the computer screen.

Ms. Kotka sipped her tea before the fire and let the heat sink in.  Eventually she stretched languorously before she hopped up and began walking around the tiny room.  When she reached a screen in the far corner she ducked behind it.  A few minutes later she emerged covered in filthy rags.

All right Mr. Muridae, I’m ready. 

Mr. Muridae looked up from the screen and studied her.  He then walked over to her and began rubbing her down with a dirt covered towel.  When he was finished she looked for all the world like a homeless waif.  He handed her the shawl and she draped it over her head and pinned it at her throat with the rusty old broach.

Walk around a bit please, I want to see if it works.  As Ms. Kotka moved about the room he peered closely at the computer as she did, tapping his fingers in excitement.

It works! I can see what you see! He flipped about in excitement.  Oh I think this plan will work! Finally we will have our revenge!

Ms. Kotka’s eyes narrowed and she began to move with deliberate slowness.  It’s about time they got their comeuppance! She growled.

Mr. Muridae froze in place instantly.  After a moment or two of silence he shook himself.

My dear Kitty, would you mind calming down a bit? You still make me very nervous when you begin to puff up like that. 

Sorry Leopold, when I think about all the tortuous humiliation my father had to endure it infuriates me.  Ms. Kotka closed her eyes and began to mutter quietly.  Summer breeze… soft grass… sunlight… ahhhhhhh. Ms. Kotka sighed, all signs of her prior agitation had vanished.

All right, said Mr. Muridae abruptly.  It’s time to begin.  Last time we relied too much on chance.  You are no longer going to sit in the park capturing whoever walks by.  This time we are going to be more targeted.  Your mission is simple.  After dusk you walk about, find windows and look in to them.  The camera will record what you see and stream the images back to me.  Once we have enough footage, then we assemble it and see what our next steps are.

Ms. Kotka looked down at a pile of dirty rags she wore in distaste, crinkling up her nose she grabbed some torn up old mittens.

Don’t you think people will shoo me off?  I can’t believe I can wander around peering into people’s homes without attracting attention, even as filthy as I am. Mr. Muridae stood before her with a small comb, matting her silken mane.

Set aside your sensitivities Kitty.  Revenge is a dirty business. As for unwanted attention, you would be surprised how many people will politely ignore you, so long as you don’t linger too long or appear threatening.  Mr. Muridae set down the comb and stood back to admire his creation.  Perfect.  No one would suspect you of being anything other than another lost soul wandering in the night. 

To be continued…

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* Note from the author: I was raised by a writer.  She would tuck little serials into my lunch box to help me get through the day.  I spent my lunch regaling my table with the adventures of Detective Purr Pawprint.  It is in homage to Purr that these characters were penned.

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The last baby.

It’s a distinction he bears with pride.  It started when he told me he wanted a younger brother, so he could have a boy to play with.  My heart constricted in my chest and tears welled up in my eyes.

“I can’t have anymore babies my love, you are my last baby.”

“Your last baby? Why am I your last baby?” He asked, eyes widening as he tried to wrap his six year old mind around a very adult concept.

“Remember when mommy had the last surgery?”

“Yes. You couldn’t pick me up forever, and you cried.”

“Yes” I managed to whisper over the lump in my throat. “When I had that surgery, they took out the parts that let me have another baby. So that is why you are my last.”

He was silent as he absorbed this.  Maybe it was something in my tone of voice or the look on my face but he sat with my statement for a long time, treating it with more seriousness than I thought he could.

“That’s really sad mommy, that you can’t have another baby.” He threw his arm around my neck and snuggled into me, giving me a chance to breathe in the unique smell of his sweat and shampoo. “But I am a little glad I got to be your last  baby.” He kissed me on the cheek and snuggled in close, pulling me towards him with both of his little boy arms.

“I am glad too sweetheart” I murmured as I rested my chin upon his head and closed my eyes.

“And Mommy? Don’t worry, I will always be your baby.”

Thankful.

Yesterday I was, to say the least, verklempt. Today, though the headache still rages like a violent storm, I am trying to focus on the positive.

My daughter woke me with a hug.  She starts every morning that way.  My son woke me with a snuggle.  He starts every morning that way.  Headache or otherwise, my kiddos love me and show me that each and every day.

My mother drove the kiddos to school, even though it meant interrupting her breakfast.  She did the same thing yesterday, and she drove to pick them up.  She backs me up always and just knowing I have someone who will is something to be thankful for.

A good friend reminded me that others have experienced similar difficulties, and though it took some time to find a solution, a solution was in fact found.  That idea gives me hope, makes me remember when the storm is raging that I just have to hold on until the sun breaks through the clouds.  (Figuratively, not literally, as the sun is kind of a bitch to deal with during a migraine)

I have people who love me, regardless of whether or not I can concur the world today.  I have people who take time out of their day to help me heal and succeed.  I have funny furry animals who snuggle me to keep me company, so I am not alone.

So today, despite yesterday’s unhappiness, despite the raging in my head, I am hopeful.  I will read “Heal your headache”. I will pet my cat.  I will try to get on with the day.

Thank you for the love.

Inner peas.

Meditation is supposed to cure all ills. (Okay, maybe not all the ills.) It is supposed to help with crazy anxiety attacks and all that stuff.

Unfortunately, this girl doesn’t meditate well.

I understand you are supposed to clear your mind and just be, but I don’t know what a clear “just being” mind looks like.  I lie there imagining a blank nothingness, but then the nothingness becomes a thing.  It becomes irritating in it’s blankness.  To remedy that I will make it purple or red, or some other color.  The color itself becomes the nothingness.  Then little things start to crawl across the red blank background.  A paper I need to grade, a note I need to hand in to the school, a telephone call I forgot to make.  So I let those thoughts go and try to focus on the red blankness.  That’s when all the funny or ridiculous things I only think about when meditating start pressing in on the sides of my blissful red blankness.  Flying pigs, royalty, what I would do with a million dollars, underground prairie dog colony viewing stations, pet chinchillas.  Before too long there are dozens of ridiculous unimportant things demanding I either pay attention or send them away.  Before too long there is no sending away, there is only chaos.

So I have to meditate using a guided meditation program.  It’s the only way.  I have to focus on something to be able to drive out the millions of bits of nothing clamoring for my attention.

With guided meditation I can at least drift along like I used to in some of the less entertaining classes I took in school.  I may still think of things but I can push them aside, because I get to focus on the voice telling me to relax.

Moving through.

Today my Other Me is quiet.  She has been vanquished by a good nights sleep, a day of exercise, conversation with a good friend, and snuggles from small warm animals.

Today the crisp fall air seems full of possibility.  There are baked goods to be made, work to be done, children to pick up from school.

I know she will wake up again, but for now she is silent. It took me a really long time to be willing to talk about my feelings.  I have a very hard time letting people know things are not okay.  Even now that I am blogging about it, if you ask me in person I am likely to tell you things are fine, or that I am doing OK.  I’m not sure why I have such a “stiff upper lip” mentality, but I do.  (Why is having a stiff upper lip such a sign of strength anyway? What does that saying even mean?)

The truth is, I am trying to move through.  I am angry and deeply sad.  I miss my life.  My life before illness, my life before separation.  I miss struggling to fall asleep because my husband snored too loudly beside me.  I miss the way he would put away things I needed while I was cooking.  I miss having my kids around all the time.  I miss having endless amounts of energy and confidence.  I miss taking up space in my life.

I don’t want to move on.  I want to move through.  I want to feel everything I need to feel. I want to learn and grow.  I want to heal.

The problem with healing is that it takes a long time.  My hysterectomy was ten months ago and I still feel odd and have physical side effects from the surgery.  Sometimes it feels like it’s been forever and I should be over it now.  I hate being patient with myself, and because I hate being patient with myself I superimpose that impatience onto others.  How sick they all must be of hearing about it.

Healing takes a long time.  I have no idea how long.  Maybe I will be better next year, maybe the following. In certain ways, maybe never. I just have to remember I can’t wake up and expect myself to fix everything that was broken in a single day. I have to learn to take it a step at a time.

Job hunt today. Exercise today. Sleep well. Eat well.  Simple everyday instructions, simple everyday steps.  I hope they will build themselves into something complex and fantastic, a life full of optimism and opportunity.  For now, though, I just have to get through the steps.

I have a Zombie Crush on Elizabeth Warren.

This woman is amazing.  I love to hear her speak and I appreciate her clearly explained position on issues.  I love the way she cuts to the chase, can meet the eyes of the people asking her questions, and doesn’t mince words.  I want to absorb her brain.*

That’s right.  I have a zombie crush on Elizabeth Warren.

What’s a zombie crush you ask?

A zombie crush is not unlike a traditional crush.  The crusher wants to hear more from the person, wants to see them, enjoys being in their presence.  The crusher may go out of their way to be around the person, or a video of the person.   However, unlike a traditional crush, the zombie crush has no sexual component.  Rather than lusting after the object of the crush sexually, the zombie crusher lusts after their subject’s intellect, or in zombie parlance, the subject’s b…r…a…i…n…s. 

The zombie crusher is so infatuated with the way the subject thinks that they want to absorb the subject’s brain, thereby incorporating these captivating thoughts into their own brain. It’s more than simply wanting to hear what the subject has to say.  It’s about wanting to viscerally understand the way their mind works.

A true zombie crush is a rare thing.  Traditionally zombie crushes are reserved for professors, mentors, and life changing gurus.  Elizabeth Warren is unique.  She is the first politician I have had a zombie crush on. In fact, I am pretty sure she is the first politician anyone has had a zombie crush on.

This could be due to the fact that I made up the term.

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* No actual brains were absorbed in the writing of this post.

Govern(mental) shutdown.

I have been avoiding the news lately.  My own life has enough pain and suffering in it that I am afraid coming across any additional madness will shock me into a  vegetative state and I will spend my life in a mental ward. (Sometimes this concept has a certain appeal.)

So I didn’t pay much attention to the shutdown.

I heard it in the hallways, from my parents, skimmed quickly past comments on FB and Twitter.  Then today, I came face to face with it.  It turns out, in a technological age, a person can only avoid the world so long as they are able or willing to stay away from a computer.

I teach environmental law.  Today I went to the EPA to get some snapshots for my slides for class.  I use the Environmental Compliance History Online system, or the ECHO system, to monitor compliance with Clean Water permits.  I wanted to walk my students through a practical analysis of a real world permit using the system they would use in the real world.

This is what I got:

ECHO Closed

Yes, the government is unable to update it’s compliance information due to the shutdown.  Even worse, I am unable to search past compliance information due to the shutdown.

Then I got an email from opposing counsel in a lawsuit telling me that the Department of Justice is closed and they have to seek a stay in my case.

Mindboggling.  The Department of Justice is closed.  All because a small percentage of the population is unwilling to compromise on health care.

Oh I know, I know.  I am sure you have a million reasons to toss out as to why a measure that passed by popular vote is actually really unpopular with the majority of the populace, but you see, I don’t believe you.  Maybe it’s the education in the legal process, maybe it’s simple math.

All I know is a guy I work against all the time, who has two little kids, is the sole breadwinner for his family and who tries every day to make the world a little better is at home wondering when or if he will get his next paycheck.

A rare and endangered snail is languishing in exactly the kind of bureaucratic B.S. Congress wrote the Endangered Species Act to avoid.

And now I have to pay attention to the news.