Friday, June 24, 2005


A couple of days ago, my mom called to tell me that Pete (the cat) is on his last legs. He fell getting off the bed and he is walking funny. He can only walk down the stairs with difficulty. He still uses the litter box, though, which shows what a trooper he is.

When she told me I started crying. I love Pete. He is the best cat I know (no knock to Miss Tabitha (see sidebar picture), but I've known Pete a lot longer). I am going to miss him. He is 19 (no kidding). He is a wonderful, sweet, loving creature. He used to let me hold him upside down, make him fake box and dance, and then he would curl up on my chest, get under my jacket, and try and climb on top of my head. The last time I was home we spent hours together on the couch watching old movies and keeping each other warm. I can't stand that I'm not going to see him again.

This part is not about the dying cat.

I wonder if I have all kinds of wrong ideas about myself. I think I'm an angry person, but then I'm told that I've broken my family's cycle of anger (handed down on the maternal side). I think: I'm not angry? Really? When did that happen? But maybe it's true. I'm impatient, perhaps, but not angry.

I think I'm a judgmental person and possibly a bit unkind. But I have a terrible time cutting off people who I don't like if it would hurt their feelings. I keep some friendships (barely) alive because it would be too cruel to end them.

I hate to lie, which can lead to some abruptness, but I sometimes I succeed in being kind. I prize kindness. I may never fully obtain it, but I'll keep trying.

I think I'm not emotional (enough). Breaking into gulping sobs at hearing about Pete would seem to contradict that.

When I was a teenager, I spent many unhappy summers with my dad and stepmother in Berkeley. Dad would worry about me because I was sulkimus-maximus at all times. He thought I was an emotional basket case. (I also waged a small campaign of fear against my stepmother. Sorry about that.)

When I would return home to Seattle and be quiet and sullen, Mom would get furious. She thought I was cold and emotionally distant. I thought I was recovering.

Mom thought I was like Dad and Dad thought I was like Mom.

When I was 16, I asked Dad, "On a scale of one to ten, with Mom being ten--really emotional--and one being not emotional at all, what number would you give me?" Dad gave me an eight. An EIGHT.

I asked Mom, "...with ten being super emotional and one being really distant, like Dad, what would you give me?" She gave me a THREE. And a long talk about how she was worried about me shutting off my feelings. At least Dad gave me my grade without comments.

You know what I thought? They were both out of their freakin' minds. How could I give such different impressions? How could they both be talking about the same person?

I know how--when I was in Berkeley I was a complete emotional wreck, tears and sulkiness emerged at the slightest provocation. And Mom could be overwhelming and I held back because it was too exhausting to mix it up with her. But how could she have missed that I had feelings? And how could Dad have missed my relentlessly logical side? That's parents for you.

I wonder how they would rate me now, but I'm not going to ask.

Apparently, I'm not angry, I'm not mean and I'm not cold-hearted. Sometimes I can even be pleasant to be around. Sometimes I cry (I still don't like it, though).

But I'm sure I can find something wrong if I try hard enough; it just may not be what I expected. I don't think I'll try too hard, though.

Grateful for: Pete.

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