Archive for July, 2010

Interlo’cat’or {the feline conjugation of the human “interlocutor”} noun :  a cat who takes part in dialogue or conversation.

There’s been a bit of drama going on in my life lately. I think Hannah knows.

Last night, when I came home from a very long drive out of state, I found Hannah sitting in the center of the garret living room, cooling herself with the breeze from the air conditioner, which I had left on timer. When she saw me enter, she stood, stretched, then began to meow incessantly as if asking, where have you been? I got down on the floor to pet her. She sniffed my hands, taking in the scents of my trip, as if she were deciphering code.

“Sweet girl,” I said to her, lightly stroking between her ears. She turned her head and placed her cheek on the back of my hand. Then, she gazed up at me, bringing her nose gently to mine, for a moment her eyes looking deep into me.

There was much to tend to: phone calls, emails, bills, grading… I sat at my desk and got lost in it until a sharp meow jerked me out of my daze: Hannah. She circled my legs, rubbed my calves with her neck. When I kept my attention on the tasks at hand, she began to whine. I pushed back my chair. Hannah dashed a few feet, then, her calling card for a game of “chase.”

I was overtired, but I followed her anyway, watching as she ran with abandon, making giggle noises in her throat as she turned the corner. She led me into the kitchenette, where she turned and faced me, her tail a pointer, reaching tall. That’s when I saw my half-made dinner – which I had intended to eat, but had forgotten two hours earlier – on the counter.

I lightly touched the space between Hannah’s ears again: “Thank you, sweet girl,” I said. She blinked her eyes slowly, calmly, in response, before darting off again to feel the wind in her fur.


Writer’s Note: I will be reading from my first memoir, Personal Effects, at The Southampton Review publication launch July 23. For more information, contact The Southampton Writers Conference.

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Please review the titles below, listed in order of appearance, and select your top 2 favorites. You can review the stories themselves by clicking on the May, June, July archives links. Feel free to leave any additional comments below.

Thanks for your input!! The results are in! The top three favorite stories are: First Place — “In The Beginning (4 Years Ago),” Second Place — “Live and Let Live,” and  Third Place — “Shedding Season.” Thanks to all who voted! — TLS

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In the summer, “the garret” is a euphemism for “hot box.”

Hannah in the garret, 100-degree July day.

When Hannah and I moved in on a hot and humid day last August, the thick, oven-like atmosphere of the apartment transformed me into a monster: claustrophobic and panic-stricken, I felt like “The Creature” in the 1931 film version of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, trapped in the attic of the flame-licking windmill, fighting for his life. I needed air, or I would not survive another moment. I attacked the undersized garret living room window with the weight of my entire body, ripping off the frame with my bare hands in my desperate and failed attempts to install the smallest air conditioner unit one could possibly find in the cooling appliance marketplace. Hannah hid behind a box, and waited.

During the first summer after the adoption, 2006, Hannah seemed quite lethargic in the stuffy studio apartment. While I cooled myself off with ice-cold showers and lemonade, I worried and wondered, what about heat stroke and Hannah?

Hannah, our first summer, 2006.

It only took a few minutes: I placed Hannah in the kitchen sink and drenched her body under the faucet, telling her it was okay, we were almost done, as she howled loud, and louder. When I placed her on the hardwood floor, she twisted and threw her body to shake off the water, like a dog, then frantically licked every inch of her coat for the next forty-five minutes, as if I’d ruined it. Every so often, she’d look up at me with frenzied eyes as if to say, “what have you done?” I felt sorry, and became anxious that she might develop a terrible hairball. I berated myself. I had been thinking like a human, not a cat, even if she did seem cooled, less bothered by the heat, once her fur dried.

The next summer, and the next, while living in a well-ventilated one-bedroom attic apartment in a family home, I let Hannah handle the

Hannah, Summer of 2008

Hannah, Summer of 2008.

heat on her own terms. On the hottest of afternoons, Hannah would lay herself out in the sunniest, warmest spot on the carpet atop the stairs, beneath the back window, where she’d remain for hours. On the stillest of days, she would go to the bottom of the stairs and sprawl out there, letting her body sip tiny waves of air current created by the one-inch space between the bottom of the door and the floor.

Now, it’s our first full summer living in the garret, which, in the late afternoon, bakes. There is no staircase to descend, no cross-breeze to savor. But I now have an air conditioner in my bedroom window and one in the non-busted living room window, as well as an oscillating fan. Still, as I place an ice cube in Hannah’s water bowl, I worry about her.

A little over a week ago, when she barely touched her food and her litter box remained sparsely populated or empty altogether, for a couple of days I became concerned, remembering how I almost lost her that previous year. Despite Hannah’s continued beckoning for me to play “chase” as well as her batting around the mouse toys, I phoned the vet.

My fears were allayed. It’s okay. Really. It’s just the heat!


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