Thursday, August 13, 2020


I’m slowly getting the hang of this, and things are getting easier, for various reasons: Our fondness for each other is deepening, so that now I am more inclined to see a darling fuzzy friend rather than a bad little cat. (My cats, right or wrong.) Maybe our nervous systems are starting to sync up. Things that seemed horrible the first several times—the unbelievable racket as they chase each other up and down—now just seem like regular life. (My downstairs neighbor, encountered in the lobby yesterday, murmured, “I think I hear them.” That was diplomatic. I’m surprised she can hear anything but them. I apologized profusely for the noise, and she kindly said, “I figure it’s a kitten thing.”)

I now am used to having diarrhea splattered all over the bathroom, surprisingly high up on the walls, and tracked all over the apartment. Again, thank goodness for hardwood floors rather than white carpet. Also, I figure that if the diarrhea is ever under control, this will stop happening. I think it’s a natural consequence of them trying to bury what should be a couple of nice firm turds, but instead is a pile of sloppy wet poo.

Here is our low-tech, easily customizable cat tower:

Yesterday, I was using a knife, so I escorted one of them away from the spot near my feet. He came back. I escorted him away. We repeated that several times. The next time, I picked him up and petted him and offered a compliment or two and set him gently on the kitchen chair. He came back. I repeated the longer, gentler process. He came back. I did it again. This time he did not come back, but stayed on the chair, and I gave myself a little pat on the back: I’m learning.

I wish I had never yelled at them, never seized them up to relocate them, never felt angry, but I did. That can’t be erased from the record. (Unless I forget it when I get dementia, so there’s one thing to look forward to.) But I also have to realize that this is a whole new thing. I have had one cat or the other for 30 years, but did I ever have two kittens? No, I did not. It is a completely different thing.

They are basically the same color: evidently black. The afternoon sun in the kitchen effected this contrast and showed, once again, how much red fur a black cat actually has.

I think this might end up being a wonderful gift in that it is forcing me to do my meditation practice in a new way. This really works: Just pausing, letting my belly soften, and counting to three. The hard part is getting myself to do it rather than to continue with whatever I’m rushing to do, whatever I’m trying to force. When I can do it, it makes a huge difference. The whole day ends up having a different feeling if I do this even once or twice.

This was taken just before their first trip to the vet. What good cats!

During my two years at Upaya, I encountered a large number of wonderful presenters who said very inspiring things. The core faculty routinely said very inspiring things. But the presenter who had the biggest impact on me was Rhonda Magee, a law professor at the University of San Francisco. She gave a presentation on racism, power and privilege. She, too, said very inspiring things, but what really struck me was her physical presence, which sent a nearly palpable calm and ease throughout the room.

I was very impressed by the way she occupied space, with her knees comfortably far apart, and by how she actually did her own practice of embodied presence on a continual basis even while presenting, pausing frequently, with one hand on her heart and the other below her belly button, to check in with her own being: “What is well right now? What is not difficult?”

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