that after 4+ years, he finally gets to be friends with one of the cats. Xochitl and Peep have been sleeping with him in bed for a while, but it’s not every day a cat stands for petting by him. Xochitl is brave.
One time when I was in law school I got drunk (no!) and agreed to adopt a kitten sight unseen. “Fluffy” and “legs all different colors” is how she was described to me. A friend drove her up from Peoria and kept her at his place until I could come get her. She was so small I could hold her whole fluffy kitty body in my hands. It turned out she had fleas. It turned out she was a complete hellion who liked to knock over Christmas trees. She though my older cat, Kierkegaard, was her mom. They were BFFs and things haven’t quite been the same without Kierkegaard (for any of us).
Her name is Valkyrie but nobody ever calls her that any more. Now she’s VIP. She just turned 16. She’s the softest cat you’ll ever pet. She doesn’t like everybody. She’s bitten some people. She likes me, though. I’m the only one who can pick her up and carry her around upside down, like a baby. She’s awesome.
Today Soren busted out my Fisher Price schoolhouse from the 70s. He set up the dog like so and declared, “The dog will be the teacher.” I’m pretty sure that’s the best idea anybody has had in a while.
Later, I took a nap with someone I will argue is the prettiest cat ever.
As you might infer from the (lack of) content here lately, I’m in a funk. I’ve been grumpy and kind of sad and short-tempered for a few weeks now. My theory is that it’s because of the goddamn shittastic weather we’ve been having and that when the weather gets better, which it’s bound to do any time now because there’s only so many 20-something-degree, snowy days you can really have in April, things will start looking up. I hope, anyway.
Oh, one other thing! I made tofu satay with peanut sauce for dinner again tonight and I realized something. As I’ve been sort of fumbling toward quasi-veganism (the quasi being because at this point, I think it might be realistic for me to become vegan but I don’t see the point of not eating the eggs from my own chickens because that’s just silly), one of my biggest concerns has been peanut butter ice cream, which is pretty much my favorite thing in the world. I tried making vegan chocolate ice cream once and didn’t like it, mostly because of the coconut milk factor. I like coconut milk in spicy Thai food, but not in dessert items (for the record, I am firmly anti-Samoas and think they are a crime against cookies). So I was down on vegan ice cream until I realized that coconut milk actually works with peanut butter and, in fact, I’d like to make vegan ice cream that tastes exactly like a sweeter version of the peanut sauce that goes with tofu satay, red curry and lemon juice and all. Someone has probably already done this but I don’t even care. It’s my next dessert mission. I guess the fact that I have a dessert mission means I can’t be in all that much of a funk after all.
Cats residing in the 80205 zip code can get spayed or neutered for free! There are just 3 days left (sorry I didn’t tell you about this sooner): December 23, 26, and 30. For more information, visit the Metro Denver Shelter Alliance website.
Here’s a conversation Soren had about our animals. It started from a discussion about peaches.
Soren: Peach! And Sadie. I love Sadie!
What doggies do you have?
Soren: We have Peach and Coltrane and Sadie.
Are your doggies big or little?
Soren: Peach is big and Coltrane is big. Sadie is little.
How many cats do you have?
Soren: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, ELEVEN!!!
(We don’t actually have 11 cats. It just seems like we do.)
When I was in college, my boyfriend and I got a cat. The cat was large and orange or brown (memory is fuzzy) and around 7 years old. He had been the subject of a “free to good home” ad in the local paper. He was the wife’s cat and the husband didn’t want him any more.1 The wife sadly gave him up. We took him home, named him Siddhartha, and hung around while he hid under the bed for days. He was miserable and, by association, we were miserable with this poor cat who didn’t want to be away from the only person he’d ever loved. We called the wife and she took him back. I hope she and the cat at least lived happily ever after.
Then we got kittens instead. Like all good Iowa kittens, they were free and came from a farm. We went out there and saw a litter of kittens running around in the sunshine with their mom who had been a stray and apparently thought this particular farm in Iowa was a good place to have her kittens. I liked one of the kittens and I remember my boyfriend saying, “What about that one?” about another, so we took them both.
We took them home, named them Nietzsche and Kierkegaard2 (Kierkegaard, for the record, was “What about that one?”), and lived happily ever after. Well, for a while.
That boyfriend and I broke up, as college boyfriends and I were wont to do. I had other boyfriends and moved to different cities, eventually settling into an apartment with a friend in Bucktown where it was still slightly edgy.
At that apartment, things went terribly wrong. Nietzsche, shortly after declaring “God is dead,” declared her intense loathing of Kierkegaard. All of a sudden, her litter mate and best friend was her mortal enemy. She terrorized Kierkegaard who holed up in my (allergic) roommate’s bedroom. I called veterinarians. I called animal behavior hotlines. Everybody said shit like “cats will be cats” and nothing helped and no, they never got over it.
So it came to be that I chose Kierkegaard, either because she was the innocent victim or because she was my favorite, and Nietzsche went to live with my parents, who lived nearby and had been without an animal since their dog died. From then on, Kierkegaard was my constant, as they say. She was, and I shit you not, my soul mate. She was with me through moves, law school, a judicial clerkship, marriage, a stint at trying to save the world through public defending, divorce, ill-advisedly shacking up with a younger man, moving across the country, being unemployed, being underemployed, buying a little house in the ‘hood, finding a good job, and eventually just when you thought I’d never do it, being pregnant.
As it turned out, we were going to have a boy. Our elaborate (not really) name calculus gave me naming rights for a boy. (We came to an agreement with the main proposition being that a boy would get Ben’s last name and I could pick the first name and a girl would get my last name and he could pick the first name — I love the idea of hyphenating but my name is way too difficult.) The thing is, dudes, boy names are hard. At least I think they are, especially when you want something different but not so different your kid is going to get his ass kicked over it.
We didn’t have any family names we wanted to pass on (you don’t really see kids named Vytautas today and the rest are too popular). Or did we? What about my soul mate, the cat? It’s not like we were going to name our kid Kierkegaard, but if Kierkegaard was named after Soren Kierkegaard, we could name our kid Soren because that’s kind of naming our kid after the cat. And even better, Soren is like my favorite name, ever, and it doesn’t remind me of anybody but an existential philosopher and my cat. That’s it. Done!3
I don’t recall it being very hard to convince Ben to agree to the name and, although I didn’t announce it to the internet until Soren was born, we told everybody in real life and nobody had a bad word to say about it. This must mean the name is awesome or I’m a huge bitch and nobody wanted to argue about it — either/or.
I didn’t know this at the time, but on the day Soren was born, Kierkegaard, who was 18, had just one month and three days left. I’ll always miss her. But it’s kind of cool that she’s part of my son’s story even though he won’t remember her.
1. For real, if you ever have a significant other who “makes you” (that’s in quotes because it would be stupid for me to put a note in a note, which I’m tempted to do, to point out that your significant other cannot and should not ever “make you” do anything, which, duh, but sometimes people are somehow unaware of this) get rid of your animal friend, you might want to DTMF, and by DTMF I mean dump the mother fucker.
2. I believe I ranked high on the animal-naming-assholery scale for a while. Animals I’ve acquired since Nietzsche and Kierkegaard have been named, in chronological order, Valkyrie, Lilly (came with the name), Xochitl, Jupiter, Peep, Coltrane, Sadie, and Peaches. FYI, every dog is named Sadie.
3. I did have a tiny existential crisis regarding whether it’s okay to give a kid a Danish name when you’re not Danish and whether it’s okay to say Soren instead of Søren because that ø is totally bad ass but you’re kind of setting your kid up for a life of misery when his name requires a special letter even I have to copy and paste from the internet because I don’t know how to keyboard it.
This is without question the most exciting thing Soren has ever seen in his entire life.
(The good part starts 38 seconds in.)
When we watched this yesterday, he was actually squealing, giddy with delight, yelling “Cat cat!” (I have no idea why I taught him “cat cat” instead of just “cat.” It’s like pizza pizza but with felines, I guess, more = better.) and “Doggie!” Plus there’s music, so he gets to dance and oh my goodness that is all the best stuff ever in the universe right there.
I’ve been thinking about what to tell people Soren likes (in the event anyone asks before his birthday). Number one on the list would be animals. He has a Chicago Bears beanie baby that he carries around all the time. He snuggles with his stuffed cat cats in bed. Today, he requested, through artful use of the word “Mine!” and a finger point, that he be granted access to a stuffed bunny who resides atop a cabinet in his room and then carried that bunny all over the house.
He loves the dogs, especially Sadie, who has figured out that it’s best to play with him from under the couch, so he flattens himself on the floor between the couch and the ottoman and erupts with laughter as Sadie licks and paws at him from a relatively safe location. One morning when he was crying in his crib, I asked him if he wanted me to get Sadie. He replied, “Yes!” (He’s very good at replying “Yes!”) As soon as I brought Sadie, the grumpies were replaced by smiles and exclamations of “Saaaaaaaaaaadie!” Coltrane has a fun tail and Peaches is a reasonable stand-in for a pony. The real cat cats keep their distance but one day, I tell you, one day, they’ll be his pals.
I’ve been an animal person for as long as I can remember. We had just one dog when I was Soren’s age and oh man, did I love that dog. It might be a bit excessive to grow up with not just one dog but three dogs and four cats, but hey, I never said we weren’t a bit excessive. I’m sure he’ll have his share of embarrassing moments as a result of leaving the house with cat fur on the butt of his pants, but he’ll always have an animal or two around when he wants one (and of course, even when he doesn’t) (although I dread the day when he decides he wants Sadie to sleep in bed with him because now that I have a tiny, snuggly, bed-sleeping dog, I’m going to need a tiny, snuggly, bed-sleeping dog for the rest of my life, so we might have to get another one someday oooh Chihuahua).
So yes. Soren likes animals. And being awesome.