Archive | August, 2012

Squirmy Dream

22 Aug

I had a dream in which I was in a cave, and Shantum (the meditation teacher and tour guide in charge of my pilgrimage in northern India and Lumbina, Nepal) was putting numerous people, two at a time, through an ordeal to test their fearlessness. I think I may have been able to watch portions of other people’s ordeals. Finally, when it was my turn, I was with one short and spunky young woman. Shantum sat on the other side of a grey desk and sternly told us to do stuff. We sat on the other side of the desk or table, and there were two white plates in front of us. Shantum told us to pick up various gross creatures (scorpions, worms, etc.) and place them on the plates. By the end, I was fairly nonchalant about the whole thing, calmly picking up the metal bucket and dumping a plate full of squirming pinkish monsters onto the plate in front of me. Even though I was nonchalant about that particular part of the ordeal, I anticipated something worse at the end. Sure enough, Shantum got out what looked like a gigantic amber gummy worm and was folding it into segments while telling us that we had to rub this worm against our faces, against our cheeks and necks. I was so not looking forward to that.

But then the garbage truck outside my window woke me up. Whew.

Cosette 1994-2012

17 Aug

My brother informed me, as gently as possible, that my cat Cosette just died. She was the first cat I brought up by myself, after I graduated from college. She was about seventeen or eighteen years old when she died.

I adopted Cosette, a beautiful little calico with pale green eyes, at an animal shelter when she was six months old. She was over a year old before she quite looked like an adult cat, and she was always very slender; I sometimes described her as a bag of bones.

Cosette’s more eccentric habits included perching on the narrow top edge of a slightly open closet door. Also, when I became angry and impatient with my computer and yelled at it, Cosette became angry with me and attacked my ankles, grabbing one of them and biting my foot. She certainly succeeded in distracting me from my impatience and anger, and she made me realize that my behavior was silly. Once in St. Louis, someone outside my apartment, on the landing, called, “Here, kitty, kitty,” and Cosette ran toward the door. I was surprised, since I had no idea she was trained to respond to “kitty.” Perhaps that was her name for the first six months of her life; it was the name of my first cat when I was a child.

She was a very sweet, cuddly cat who purred and rubbed up against anyone (even a cat-hating psycho neighbor who locked her in the apartment building’s basement and yelled at me for having my TV on at 8:30 in the evening). Cosette was friendly with all humans but was slower at accepting cats and dogs. I eventually saw her gently brushing her side against a Shetland sheepdog named Sheila. It took her about a week to get along with the newly weaned Cheetah, who is now sixteen years old and the only cat still living with me. Whenever I took home a new stray cat, Cosette growled and hissed and let that cat know that this was her territory. She was the queen of the house or apartment.

I left Cosette behind when I (thank kittens!) moved from Kansas to Portland, OR. I left her with an aunt. However, I heard that a year or so after I left Kansas, that aunt moved into a nursing home. If it was the nursing home she spoke of, cats weren’t allowed, so I wondered what happened to Cosette. Maybe my aunt was allowed to keep her after all, or maybe she moved into a different nursing home than the one she talked about–though from what I understand she did move to Belton, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, as expected.

Cheetah can be sweet, though she’s certainly not as sweet as Cosette. Cheetah has an aggressive purr and lets me pick her up and cuddle her; depending on the weather she either sleeps perched on top of me or sleeps at my feet or next to me. The past few days she’s been lying right next to me, by my pillow (with the fan blowing on the bed, because we’re having a heat wave). Also, my cat sitters find that Cheetah will greet them with a mix of purring and hissing (the latter because she can smell their cats on them). A close friend who cat sits for me hangs out at my place and keeps Cheetah company, so she’s been able to bond with her.

Cheetah’s the one cat I took with me to Portland because a) I didn’t think it possible/practical to move across several states with more than one cat (though I recently talked with someone who moved with three cats and at least one dog, doing research on hotels and planning where to stay beforehand), and b) Cheetah is an older, codependent, one-person cat. I didn’t feel bad leaving Cosette behind, since she lived in a house and our aunt treats cats and dogs a lot better than she treats people. For the younger cats, I grieved because I took them to a no-kill shelter after futilely asking around for someone to adopt them. That said, Cosette moved with me from Kansas (where I adopted her from an animal shelter when she was six months old) to St. Louis and back to Kansas.

Now I am truly grieving for Cosette, as I hadn’t when I left her behind. She was one of my favorite cats.

Kate Bornstein and musings about gender in fantasy and science fiction

13 Aug

Tonight I attended a hilarious author reading: trans activist and performance artist Kate Bornstein promoted her memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger. She read excerpts to the enormous crowd (a large portion of which stood) and answered questions and chatted with the audience. On the topic of reincarnation and the bodhisattva path, she said it’s something like Doctor Who but without the time machine. Recently on Facebook, I read a post in which a trans person used Doctor Who to explain that changing gender is like regenerating as a different gender. Bornstein also has a tattoo on the back of her right hand that any Harry Potter fan would appreciate: “I must not tell lies.” I chose to buy a copy of her memoir and donate it to In Other Words, the feminist bookstore and community center where I volunteer. But I’ll read the book before donating it. I love memoirs and biographies.

On the topic of Doctor Who and Harry Potter, I think the genres of fantasy and science fiction are wonderful tools for exploring topics that trans people and feminists relate to: in particular, the fluidity of gender. Certainly, Joanna Russ wrote The Female Man, and there’s a collection of genderqueer speculative fiction called Beyond the Binary, and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin involves characters who can switch genders. In Patricia C. Wrede’s YA fantasy series that begins with Dealing with Dragons, the dragons get to choose their gender. Plenty of other examples are probably out there. It’s a wonder there aren’t more. These are two genres that can explore an unlimited number of sociological possibilities.

Early Morning Dreams

8 Aug

I had a dream in which I had moved into a cheaper apartment, in a neighborhood that wasn’t as nice. The apartment itself was a red brick building from the 1970s, and it had a parking lot in front. Toward the end of the dream, I had just been on a big shopping spree, and I had a lot of stuff in the car. I parked in front of my apartment building and opened the car door, and a plastic shopping bag fell out. As I was reaching for the bag, I heard guys talking, and one of them said, “She’s got money with her,” and one of them said, “She’s got lots of stuff.” I turned and looked up from the stray shopping bag and saw a few feet in front of me a group of about five or six young men standing in the parking lot and watching me, standing there so openly and waiting. I quickly grabbed the stray bag and pulled it into my car. I noticed a cloth shopping bag of mine lying in the parking lot and full of stuff—lying just on the other side of the car door, just beyond it. I knew that to get it, I’d have to get out of the car, and I didn’t want to take the risk. I closed and locked the car door and started the engine to get the hell out of there. Meanwhile, I felt creeped out and knew they wanted to rob me. I started to drive forward, and they scattered. However, as I got to the nearest intersection, I sat waiting for various pedestrians and I think also for cars to come from the other direction. I sat there wishing I hadn’t moved and thinking about moving back. I remembered that the apartment managers (they were an attractive couple in their thirties) whom I’d met for this apartment were such nice, friendly people and had even let me spend a night at their place during my transition from one apartment to the other. I also remembered a neighbor who was rather attractive. But my safety was more important than these people whom I’d only recently met.

I also dreamed that I was at an agent’s house, but this was an agent for famous Hollywood stars. Or at least, this was someone in the industry who knew a lot about its history. She was a woman with short blond hair, and she looked to be in her thirties (something about blond people in their thirties during that particular nap). I walked into her living room, where she sat at one end of a couch in front of a coffee table on which were photo albums full of old photos of celebrities. I stood listening to the conversation, but I don’t think I said anything. There were a lot of people around, and they were all Hollywood people, particularly actors. And she was talking about Hollywood celebrities from the past, like from the sixties or earlier. Mickey Rooney came walking down the hallway, and he looked really old and had a beard. I’m not even sure he’s still alive.