Monday, March 27, 2006

Nine Lives of Separation

Last fall the blue-eyed editor and I took a personal essay writing class at the Loft. Our class was full of a lot of lesbians and people with a lot of emotional scars. We also had a blogger- who ended up being among both the blue-eyed editor and my favorite classmates.

I worked up the nerve one class to ask the blogger the address of her site and what she wrote about. Being a voracious reader she blogs about the many books she reads. When I checked out her blog I discovered that Stefanie reads more books in a month than I've read the past five years.

One of her entries was about a memoir that a friend had just given to her called Waiting for My Cats to Die by Stacy Horn. Stefanie had to cancel a trip abroad because she couldn't find anyone who could take care of her diabetic cat. Horn's memoir in part deals with her having to deal with the needs of not one, but two diabetic cats. In her blog, Stefanie said she hadn't had the chance to read Horn's book yet. Still, the name of the book intrigued me enough to go out an get a copy of it.

Waiting for My Cats to Die is quite the enjoyable read despite some at times, depressing material. Horn is a 42-year-old woman obsessed with death. She's worried that her life has hit the stage when things really don't get better, that the luster of youth is truly gone. In between the accounts of caring for her cats who need insulin shots (and one also has a kidney ailment that requires a regular IV), she also writes about visiting cemeteries and her interviews with elderly people looking back at their lives with much insight while preparing themselves for death.

Horn's humor makes what otherwise might be a dreary drumbeat come alive. Even as she worries that her life maybe not only slipping away, but already has slipped away, her love of the little things, from her cats' behavior to her participation in a drum band (one of her fantasies is to be a rock star) is quite enchanting.

As I was making my way through the book I found myself relating to a life that revolves in many ways around a deep fondness for another species. The intrigue of the feline world has enriched my own life to such a degree that I couldn't help but smile at the chapters where Horn writes with a lot of love about the interaction between her and her cats.

And then I got to other chapters about another love of Horn's life- her love of the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. During the show's seven seasons Horn seems to be the type of fan that looked forward to each and every Tuesday night. Buffy was the rare show that one made the effort to watch as it aired; taping it and watching it later just wasn't good enough. Her obsession with the show mirrored mine but in a way went beyond. She even thought about contacting one of those involved with the writing and acting to see if she could date them. (As much as I loved Faith and Anya and Marti Noxon, it never crossed my mind I should maybe write them a letter or zip off an email).

Horn also devotes a chapter of her book about seeing one of my all time favorite movies- the Japanese film After Life that concerns this company that recreates a single moment in life for those who have just died. This filmed recreation is the one memory that the deceased can take with them for the rest of eternity. It's an intriguing concept- given the choice, what memory would you want to relive forever over and over again?

I so connected with Horn's writing (and was somewhat freaked about all the things we share in common) that I seriously have thought about trying to contact her. Of course such contact would have stalker written all over it. Still in reading her memoir I think Horn is the type of person that would understand that dilemma.

Perhaps what I should do is send her the link to the blog I secretly started last January After we finished our personal essay class the blue-eyed editor and I decided to take a break from our writing classes. During our last class I found myself having a difficult time getting a handle on how to write a good essay. I was beginning to feel that what my own writing needed was a break. Then an alternate plan came to mind. It's been an ambition of mine to write a children's book. I've never done anything remotely close to children's writing and not having any kids I'm not sure I ever could. But my life with three cats gives me plenty of material that a kid might enjoy so the idea has increasing appeal.

Hence the idea of creating a blog about my cat's antics was launched. As I learned about how to create a blog and disciplining myself to daily posts I thought I would do so for a while in total anonymity. I was stunned then when a couple of people from other areas of the country posted comments to my blog telling me how much they loved it. The idea then of contacting Stacy Horn, a woman who like me loves cats and Buffy, may not be as crazy as it sounds.

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