A dear friend and mentor provided me with this quote just today, noting that it dates back to 1949, well before blogging was a thing:
Red Smith was asked if turning out a daily column wasn’t quite a chore. …”Why, no,” dead-panned Red. “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”
The past twelve months or so have been a little tumultuous. with big decisions and changes. I left behind a steady income, benefits and pension, just like that, to pursue freelance work. While I know I made the right decision for me, it was a bit of a leap off a cliff.
In many ways I am still falling through the abyss, looking back on my rather extensive experience in biomedical research, and sorting through what to keep and what to toss. This is an emotional journey, fraught with regret and self-doubt. Some days, though, I feel I am more floating than falling – floating on an invisible future that just might have good things in store. This is, I suppose, what faith looks like for me.
Part of the journey is learning to write, and while the voice in my head tells me the world does not need yet another blog, here I am. There may be many topics: some technical, some serious, some not so serious, and as much as I wanted to start off with something really, really impressive, I keep coming back to my non-human companions, likely because they are just that important to me.
My whole life, I have loved animals of all sorts. If I had not developed severe allergies in my teens, I would likely have a hobby farm by now, or be operating an animal rescue. I could list a bunch of reasons why I like animals better than people, but the best reason I know came from an Indigenous elder: Animals don’t lie. Nature doesn’t lie. It just is. People try so hard to be something, but animals, and plants, and earth and water and air, don’t try to be anything other than exactly what they are.
Even in building a freelance identity and constructing an online presence, I am trying, and probably lying. Marketing and branding are all about consciously projecting an image that will appeal to a target audience. That’s hard to do when you are trying to be all things to all people. My animal companions remind me that I don’t have to try so hard, that it’s okay to just be.
This is an introduction, then, to the lighter side of my life: the side that keeps me grounded in being. It might not be the only side to me, but it’s probably the side I like the best.
Meet Cranky Cat (age 13). She wishes she were an only cat, which is why she is cranky, because she is perpetually annoyed with her siblings. Her real name, Princess Leia, came from the cat shelter where I found her, where all the cats were named after Star Wars characters. She spends her time looking annoyed and claiming stuff by sitting on it, including this egg carton – but also books, papers, computer keyboards, and of course human laps. She self-medicates with tortilla chips and popcorn, when she can get them.
And last, but most certainly not least, we have Schmoopy Dog, a nine-year old Norwegian Elkhound who in this photo is enjoying his most favorite thing ever: a boat ride. Officially known as Bjorn, Schmoopy Dog is an only dog, and that is a very good thing, because he thinks he’s a cat anyway. This animal coined the term all bark no bite. The biggest chicken in the whole world hides behind the loudest bark you will ever hear. (Thinking about this, I wonder if the whole “animals don’t lie” thing isn’t a pile of poop – I mean, he wants you to believe he’s fierce, and he’s putting on a show to hide his fear… I shall ponder that further. ) When he’s not trying to beat a jetliner on the Decibel meter, or cowering in the presence of any other canine, he’s actually the most cuddly of all the dogs I have ever known. Cuddly and neurotic. What’s not to like?
So there you have it: an introduction to the menagerie of cute and crazy. When I’ve had enough of the world, these non-human beings give me hope. So I’ll be writing about them for comic relief, because pet therapy is a thing that works.
I will sign off with these images of Zen Cat, who really knows how to relax. Namaste!