Everything I need to know I already learned from my cats.


It’s 12:35pm on Saturday and I’m looking at my 14lb 3yr old cat Jack. He’s laying belly up at the entrance of my kitchen. His eyes are close only peaking occasionally to make sure our 8 month old kitty Smokey isn’t plotting a sneak attack from somewhere on the other side of the room. Jack is a Zen master. Smokey…not so much, but he’ll get there too. They always do.

Smokey is in many ways still a baby, well maybe a teenager if we’re talking cat years. While loading the iPad I bought on a compulsive whim Thursday with apps, I remembered this pretty hysterical YouTube video of a cat playing on an iPad. I search the app store for “cat toy” and I find and app called “Cat Toys”. I immediately download it and summon old Smokey to test it out, as he is usually the more enthusiastic of the two. He was hooked instantly. He stalked mice, ping pong balls, rats, spiders and his favorite…a spotted frog. He swatted, squirmed, pawed, eyes stretched and dancing. His frustration was my entertainment. Sick. I know. I eventually had to pry my iPad away from the poor beast as I saw madness slowly but surely setting in.

This morning. I summoned Jacky boy to have a turn with the game. He meowed leaping on my bed as he does every morning looking very much like an expensive fur muff. I fire up the app. The mouse trolls across the screen, slow at first then speeding up and bouncing off the virtual walls. Jack looked at it for about 15 seconds (10 of which I’m absolutely positive he was saying to himself “What is this bitch doin’?”). He sighed in disappointment as he only really wanted his morning head scratch, and plopped off the bed.

In that moment I saw a valuable lesson. Smokey, the younger/more immature cat showed a passion and excitement about this new thing that only comes with youthful ignorance. He was going to capture that damn frog if it killed him even though there was no indication whatsoever that the frog even existed. Jack on the other hand was able to, being the elder states cat that he is took one look at the dancing electric rodent and somehow knew it was a worthless cause. He spared himself the agony of chasing after something that would very likely never be a possibility.

How often do we see a situation. Know the shit ain’t right, but do it anyway? Yeah. I know right. I’ve got a couple of dancing electric mice scenarios going in my life this very moment. I dunno, call me crazy (cause I am), but seeing Jack walk away, never even engaging in the agony of the chase, but KNOWING it was a lost cause inspired me. I may take a few swats, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll gain the wherewithal to walk away and spare myself the agony of what I already know is a lost cause.


The Zion Chronicles: The Crooked Smile

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my boy. This is mainly due to his request for me not to. I believe that children deserved to have their privacy respected unless they’re in a position of potentially being in danger then all bets are off. This has allowed us to begin to foster a relationship of mutual respect ,  a respect that I feel will make for  a better parent/child relationship when he’s no longer of rearing age, and keeps me out of Shady Pines in my golden years…hopefully.  Today, with his permission I write about his triumph.

As those who have followed me through this his first year in middle school can attest, it’s been a rough one for our boy. Below average grades, home work struggles, and a completely insane mother breathing down his neck at every turn.  It’s a wonder he survived. I’m overwhelmingly proud to report that not only did my courageous young man survive…He thrived.

Today he was presented with two awards:

1. A Character award for Perseverance:

“Staying with the task an not giving up”

2. Out Standing Student:

Most Improved-Science (you know…that dammable class he couldn’t wrassle up more than a “D” in?!)

The beauty of it all is the journey he took this year, what he learned about himself, and what  I the doubting faithless mother learned about her very capable son.  The minute I got him the help he needed and let go…the miracle happened. He found his way. He didn’t need or deserve my screaming, cursing, and other bassackwards “parenting” behaviors. He needed the ability to fail on his own and then figure out how to do it on his own with others simply lighting the way.

I also learned that grades often have very little  to do with a child’s progress. My son’s final report card for the year would look like a disappointment in some parents eyes, but for me…well I’ll use this analogy. While I was driving him home from school as he told me about winning the awards. I imagined for a split second his crooked jack-o-latern smile from when he was about 7 years old. Completely imperfect with signs of beautiful growth ahead. Kudos Zion. I love you and am the proudest Mom ever :).

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So I’ve been slackin’ off some with my blogging lately. Mainly because I’m directing a show, but also because honestly I sometimes don’t know what I want to write about, what medium I want to write in, or if anyone cares. There is the money shot. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I write and who I write for. I journal daily. That clearly is for me to cut through the cob webs and try to stabilize my rambling mind. Other stuff, whether I care to admit it or not…is for others.

I like to think I help or entertain people with what I write, but I’ve had to consider lately the very real possibility that outside a very small number of people in the grand scheme of things…no one really cares. I am just one writer out of millions. While I may be fairly decent at it, I try not to delude myself into thinking that I’m “the best”. So why do it? Up until now it’s been for that ugly V word (no not vagina). VALIDATION.

No one wants to die thinking their life really didn’t mean much. So we seek, almost from the time we’re toddlers for something that defines us. Most of the time we can count on others to identify us based on their perception of who we are. Who we are in the truest sense is buried underneath layers of outside opinions and we self fulfill the prophecies of others until we reach a point when something just doesn’t feel right. Maybe we’re teenagers when it happens. Maybe we’re a 45 year old man with a classic Trans Am, a digitally remastered version of the Slippery When Wet album, and a young woman in the passenger seat born the same year Living On Prayer hit the Billboard charts. Whenever it happens, it happens. Then we spend the bulk of the rest of our lives trying to figure out who the fuck we are.

In a sense, I am lucky. No one ever labeled my a writer. It was suggested I was good at it, however it was never quite driven home as much as things like “you’re fat”, “you’re poor”, “you’re weak” (mainly due to my asthma).  I was able to choose writing in a very organic way. When I did, I ran with it, but because I was never labeled “writer” it was harder for me to believe…Catch 22.  So what did I do, I began to seek validation that I was a writer through my writing. I began to seek my value through people’s feelings about my writing. I’ve had successes that have allowed me to believe a little bit more, however when I have had failures…I feel those son-of-a-bitches like alcohol on a paper cut. The fond memories of first time out cover stories, acceptance to cross country playwrights festivals fade instantly.

I recently got a letter…a rejection letter…for a fellowship that I felt would have solidified the fact that I was indeed a writer of merit. It felt like my heart had been ripped out. I sat in my car screamed, and cried for about 5 minutes, then just felt like shit for the rest of the evening. Thank GOD for recovery. It took me no longer than 24 short hours to realize why it hurt so bad. It was because I not only was seeking confirmation of the fact that I was a writer. I was seeking confirmation of my value as a human being. That’s dangerous shit. That’s hell of a lot of weight to give a $10,000 fellowship. Ten thousand dollars ain’t worth my good feelings about myself. It’s time to abort mission, and redirect. Because thinking like that will KILL a muthaphucka like me.

I have to keep up the work on me. Double up my effort on being satisfied with just being. I was listening to A New Earth (by Eckhart Tolle) while I was on the road the other day and he said something that just blew my mind completely. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially he said that in my desire to be the best (writer in my case) I’m depending on millions of other people’s failures. That bothers the hell out of me. I don’t want my  “success” and good feeling about me to be based on someone else being miserable. I want my life to be a success simply because I AM. Back to the drawing board :).