Monday, November 14, 2016

The Final Will & Testament of Murphy S. Law (Probably)

Dear readers. I must write to you of this dark night of the soul, the icy depths of which I've been awash in since my horrific encounter with the devil himself. You'll recall my first brief and glorious sip of freedom. How the cool nectar of independence quenched the burning desires of this heart, if only for a fleeting moment. Of course the illusion of safety was shattered by a brutal assault on both body and mind. This world is a cruel place indeed, when devils such as Beelzebub strut shamelessly in the streets while innocents like myself are resigned to the torturous interior of hell.

Following the incident, mother was so distraught she presumably forgot how to navigate her way back to the domicile for some interminable time. Luckily, delicate creature that she is, she had the foresight to find a biologically similar substitute before her tenuous grip on reality shattered. This pseudo-mother shunned the established structure and rules of the household. She rose unprompted from slumber each day (before I even thought to demand she awaken), and promptly left the premises. Every day I assumed I had been abandoned, only to be shocked by her eventual return! It is worth noting, she was able to find her way back long before mother’s typical 4am. Despite her abnormal schedule, I can bear no grudge against this False Mother. My rations were provided and ears scritched with some regularity. Soon enough we fell into an uneasy parlay of sorts.

I know not to where mother went, or from whence she returned. But I do know she eventually stumbled wearily through the door, consumed everything in the refrigerator, and proceeded to become unconscious in our bed. Alarmed, I joined her in repose, situating my face near enough hers to feel the comforting warmth of each shallow exhalation. Finally, a modicum of order!

I don’t mean to be melodramatic. But as of yet, neither of us suspected the insidious contaminant festering vilely beneath my skin.

Following mother’s return I drifted along in a liminal daze. I floated ephemerally from couch to food dish, from bed to sun mat. I passed in and out of consciousness, marking the passage of time by the sun’s daily mechanical drift past the window. I began to suspect something was amiss. Fatigue tangled its greedy fingers into the very core of me. Though weeks had passed, I still felt that fiend Beelzebub’s hatred coursing through my veins, as if it meant to ignite my soul.

Trying to convince mother
nothing was amiss within my health
or disposition.
One morning I awoke in my cat tree (where I was born. My sanctuary, the only true home I've ever had) to find mother poised above me, poking at me with one of her bony primate fingers. “Have you always looked like that?” she questioned, turning her head skeptically from side to side. She was referring, of course, to the physical manifestation of Beelzebub’s demonic spite: the pus-filled, putrefying flesh of my flank. Afraid any signs of distress might trigger in mother another psychological break, I displayed nothing but stoic placidity. Each jab rippled with fiery agony, but I gritted my teeth and endured for her sake. Placated by my seeming lack of distress, mother concluded I was “really packing on the pounds,” and our lives resumed their peaceful predictability.

Oh, but friends! Even the strongest willpower cannot override the weakness of the flesh!

The faulty machinery of my body finally failed me nearly a moon after my hellish encounter. Febrile, unable to tolerate the agony of mother’s touch, I lolled helplessly on the couch as she examined my swollen flank. Unable to protest, I was subjected to nearly an hour of her ineffectual simpering. She showered me in worthless apologies. She paced, weeping and mashing her stupid paws on the electronic brick she carries to comfort herself in times of great distress. Finally, having reached some sort of unspoken resolve, the greatest betrayal: she pried apart my clenched jaws to force one of her paralytic capsules down my throat.

In the waiting room of my tormentors.
The ensuing hours are a chaotic nightmare. Once mother was able to gather her wits, I was subjected to the indignity of the so-called “cat purse.” Thus enmeshed, we raced in the rumbling belly of the metal beast to a horror show of unprecedented ilk. There strangers weighed and prodded me like a delectable Christmas ham. The one redeeming quality was the interlopers’ continuous stream of compliments, though I was already well aware of my unchallenged status as “the prettiest kitty in the whole wide world.” I will spare you the details of what happened next. Suffice it to say, though my limbs were paralyzed by mother’s poison, the force of my vocalized rage shook the very rafters of that torture chamber.

At the end of their ministrations I willingly dragged myself into the cat purse, grateful for the thin barrier of mesh between my body and my tormentors.

One unexpected side effect of this ordeal: I appear to have purged myself of Beelzebub’s toxins. I can only suppose that the pure, shimmering fire of my fury incinerated the impurities in my body. Mother, however, seems to have been influenced by the sadism of my torturers. Since that fateful day she has been determined to make my life a waking hell. Every morning she plies me with “antibiotics,” a capsule with no notable effect other than my discomfort in their administration. Additionally, she continues to prod and poke at the sight of my gravest wound. She subjects me to what she has deemed “ouchy peroxide” and “nice, warm, compresses. Mmmm, see how nice?” No, mother. Not nice. Not nice at all.

I do not know how much longer I can withstand these small, daily indignities. I feel my willpower being sapped away, even as the last dregs of pain medication filter through my system. In an attempt to break the treacherous chains that bind my weak-willed mother, I have taken to singing her praises. Day in and day out, I confront her with my soulful cries, urging her to reconsider this pact with the devil. This seems only to aggravate the spirits of darkness running rampant within her. Often, these last few days, she interrupts my song by yelling in my face such vulgar phrases as “WHAAAAT?! What do you WAAAAANT? I don’t know why you’re YELLLLLYIIIIING at me!”

Regardless of what breaks first, my own spirit or the malevolent forces entangling my mother’s feeble human mind, I rejoice in the opportunity to share my trials and tribulations with the world. As I recline in my cat tower (the only stable thing in this ever-shifting kaleidoscope of experience and emotion), it is my sincere hope that good will triumph over evil. Furthermore, I can only dedicate my own banal existence to the empowerment of future generations. If there was one lesson I’ve learned from this ordeal, it’s that freedom is worth risking the sulphuric bite of Hell’s tongue, so long as you make it out alive. Your body (and mother’s credit card) can certainly handle the repercussions. Should I succumb to the temptation of death in light of mother’s most recent madness, know that I lived every moment to its fullest. Especially the ones where I was screaming into the darkness for no apparent reason at 2am.

Be well, my people. Be well.

Murphy S. Law (by cooperation of her stenographer, b)

Here I contemplate my imminent demise, and urge you all
to be strong in the wake of my passing, 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hold your head up, oh Hold your head high.

The first time I watched V for Vendetta I was 17 years old. I was on my very first Real Adult Roadtrip, driving to Seattle for a Melissa Ferrick concert with my new college friends. We were staying with a friend of theirs in the city, and after a few PBRs everybody had stumbled off to their respective sleeping spaces, leaving me wide awake and alone in a stranger’s living room.

That stranger’s parting words to me had thankfully been a tutorial on working her DVD player. So there I huddled, cross-legged on her floor, watching a movie whose title caught my eye because an English teacher I admire had once proclaimed it the greatest film ever made. In that sleeping house I kept the volume low and sat too-close to the screen so I could hear every word. When I got to Valerie’s letter, I cried. I cried quietly and for a long time. I cried because I had recognized a deep, unacknowledged desire wrapped around the core of me. I cried because I was also immediately confronted with the hatred and violence that desire could inspire.

I have lived the past 10 years of my life as an Out and Proud lesbian. I realize how much privilege I am exercising when I write that sentence. I am able to write this as a white, cisgender, able-bodied lesbian who spent the last five years in Portland, Oregon. I have lived in geographic locations, and in a body, where my orientation might not always be lauded, but it’s always been tolerated. I've marched in parades, and held hands with my partners walking down streets and streets and streets. I've kissed in cafes, and coffee shops, and theaters, and bars. I stood on the steps of the Supreme Court the morning marriage was legalized, and I cried literal tears of joy while the gay men's choir sang the Star-Spangled Banner, because for the first time I felt a sense of alignment between my identity as a lesbian and my identity as an American.

Still, Wednesday I woke up to the very real prospect of a future with no roses; a future where the people I love are in danger because of the people they love. A future where I am potentially in danger for loving. I’m sorry, this post is a lot about me just crying on various floors.

As reports of LGBT+ specific hate crimes flooded my social media, something broke inside me. It continues to break for each and every member of my chosen family experiencing violence and trauma in the wake of election night. Wednesday afternoon, I weighed my clothing options a little more carefully, afraid I’d draw hostile attention. Because I’m legitimately scared. Scared of the men who think my attraction to other women is for their pleasure and consumption. The men who think my love for women threatens their masculinity. The men who don’t accept the first, second, or even third No. The men who have claimed the right fuck will “fix” me. The men I have been afraid of defending myself against because they might try to prove that claim.

Wednesday, for the first time in ten years, I considered tucking my identity safely out of sight.

I realize this too is a privilege. But it’s not one I’m willing to exercise. To my LGBT+ family in places where it is not currently safe to exist and love the way you were born to exist and love, I’m so sorry. Please do what you have to do to stay safe. There is no shame in self-preservation, and I need you all to make it through this madness with me. To my LGBT+ family struggling with anxiety, depression, and self-harming or suicidal impulses, I’m here. I see you. I love you. Keep calling the hotlines, keep looking out for each other. To those of you making yourselves vocal and visible, thank you for your courage. Thank you for becoming rallying points so that others can be courageous too. To my straight allies, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Let’s keep doing this hard work, ok?

My heart says she is afraid for me. Honestly, I am afraid for me too. But I'm more afraid of what my silence means for my community.

"I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch. But one. An inch. It is small and it is fragile, and it is the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must never let them take it from us. I hope that - whoever you are - you escape this place. I hope that the world turns, and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, and even though I may not meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you: I love you. With all my heart. I love you. -Valerie."

So, there it is: I’m here, I’m queer, I probably need a beer… And I’m not going anywhere.

Be safe, my darlings.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wikipedia (kinda): Homo prosōdia, colloquially known as Bendi

The following is a detailed description of Homo prosōdia, colloquially known as Bendi, the Brender, little b, or (confusingly), a “Proper Lady”. Description Homo prosōdia is a bipedal mammal with characteristically small ears and no tail. Weight varies, though they are notably twice as heavy in the winter. Their compact frame and comically short legs create a low center of gravity beneficial to contact sports, touching their toes, and picking heavy things up off the ground. Their small forepaws are typically clumsy, and they use them to gesticulate wildly when engaged in conversation. This has earned them the affectionate moniker, “Ol’ Iron Paws”. They are less than skillful at activities requiring fine motor skills.
A domesticated Bendi teeters
on the edge of reverting to its
feral state.

Large-mouthed with a toothy grin, most Bendi’s could “bite halfway through a pumpkin without touching gum”. It is unclear what benefits this adaptation serves. They are nearsighted with no sense of smell, and have difficulty triangulating the origin of sounds. As such, the majority of their lives are spent stumbling about, with little to no awareness of their surroundings.

The Californian Brender is easily identified by the criss-crossed tanning pattern across the tops of its broad, paddle-like feet.

Ecology and Behavior

Originally discovered in the lush Bitterroot Valley of Montana, Homo prosōdia seems to be exhibiting a southwestern migration pattern. Though it is well-suited to a variety of climates, it seems to favor a semi-arid Mediterranean climate. Most recent sightings have placed the majestic Proper Lady in San Diego, California, where it has been glimpsed galumphing across beaches.

A feral Brender attempting to situate itself within
a new social group.
If Homo prosōdia were to take one of those stupid Facebook quizzes that tell you whether you’re an Introvert or an Extrovert, the result would be Both. While the Brender often considers itself a social creature, it in fact displays many of the behaviors associated with social anxiety. They tend to be wary of strangers, preferring to observe social situations from the periphery.

In the wild, they form strong, lifelong bonds with a select few. This primary social circle provides a comfortable, supportive environment for the Brender to express their affectionate and gregarious nature. Social behaviors include sharing food/drink, serenading with random snippets of song, and spontaneous dance parties. Bendis who have been displaced from their primary social circle quickly form strong bonds with a new group of peers, subjecting this chosen pack to persistent presence and affection until they’ve fully integrated.

In general they avoid energy-wasting aggressive behavior.

Foraging and Activities

Bendis are predominantly active at night and spend most of their waking hours feeding. They are strictly omnivorous. When left to their own devices, these little garbage guts subsist primarily on potato chips, hot sauce, and any variety of Mexican cuisine (though they have a particular fondness for burritos the size of a human infant). They also have an insatiable craving for Asian Bistro once the clock strikes 2AM. The average Brender can consume up to 5% of its body weight when set in front of a sushi conveyor belt. You should trick your domesticated Brender into eating a variety of greens by treacherously sneaking them into seemingly innocent meatloaves, lasagnas, and other one-dish meals.

Horrifically allergic to gin, they probably die if they even think about drinking it. Probably. They’ve overcome this by developing a fondness for red wine and tequila.

An over-socialized Bendi stares out
drunkenly from its recovery pod
They are masterful foragers, capable of scaling kitchen cabinets up to three times their height in search of snacks. Unless you’re willing to keep them under lock and key, treats should be kept secret or out of the house completely. They prefer salty and greasy snacks, but have been known to eat boxes of cookies, entire cakes, and pints of ice cream in times of desperation. With their voracious appetites, activity is very important to the well-being of any domesticated Brender!

As previously mentioned, the Bendi considers itself a social creature. As such, you should plan group activities for your Bendi 2-4 nights per week. Preferred activities include team sports, sweaty dance parties, and general “running amok”. Be sure to carefully monitor your Brender for social-fatigue, as they will ignore the symptoms to the point of total emotional meltdown. Should this occur, swaddle them in one large Costco blanket (woven from the very fabric of heaven itself), and prop them up in front of a blank wall until they fully recover.

Health and Domestication

Homo prosōdia tend towards general good health, though they are prone to occasional bouts of existential crisis. During these periods of emotional malaise they may drape themselves over various structures while sighing dramatically and pondering the eventual demise of everything and everybody they know/love. The effects of these episodes may last mere minutes, or persist for up to a week. If your Homo prosōdia is still droopy after several weeks, consider getting them a Netflix subscription, some tacos, and/or a therapist.

In addition to the occasional “Dark Night of the Soul”, they’re prone to seasonal allergies and hyperbole. They’re also sensitive to lactose and lunar shifts.

If you’re considering adding one to your family, remember they require plenty of open spaces and activity! Under-exercised, they’ve been known to play with lit matches, eat all of the M&Ms out of any open containers of trail mix, and chew off their own left foot for entertainment. We all know the old saying: a physically exhausted Homo prosōdia is a physically exhausted Homo prosōdia.

While they certainly can be kept as pets, successful domestication hinges on the amount of time and effort you are willing to invest. Without proper care they make fickle companions. In absence of daily handling, they quickly revert to a feral form. They have been seen wandering the late-night streets with alarming and increasing frequency, especially in southern California cities.

When approaching a feral Homo prosōdia, remember to speak in low, soothing tones. If they become excited, they may launch unprompted into the intricate social bonding display known as “Ass Wars”. During Ass Wars, the subject will challenge you with repeated gluteal contact, attempting to drive you backward over some arbitrary and invisible line. This is an attempt to win both your friendship, and the respect of any onlookers. Should you find yourself accidentally embroiled in a game of Ass Wars, these simple creatures can be distracted with music and/or snacks.

This picture is only here because I love it
When properly fed and exercised, this critter can make a charming, albeit aggressively affectionate, companion!


Many believe that leaving a full glass of red wine next to your bed while you sleep will attract these mythological creatures. Several witnesses claim to have woken to an empty wine glass and the lingering scent of Old Spice Pure Sport. The verifiability of the Chacos prints were questionable in all cases.

November is Bendi awareness month! The best way to support the continued mental and physical well-being of these animals is to support the causes they believe in. Please consider donating, sharing, or promoting the following groups affiliated with the Brender Well-Being Conservation Association:

1) Donate to the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund (Stand with Standing Rock)

Friday, October 28, 2016

It's a Cruel (Cruel, Cruel).... October.

[In which That Cat had a much more exciting week than me... despite all of my emotional distress, hard work, presentations, self-doubt, and eventual success. Whatever. It's fine. This isn't about me, OBVIOUSLY.]

It has been a week of gross injustice and cruelty. What I first took to be a sweet nectar has turned to bitter disappointment in my mouth. I should have never trusted something so cloying, so seductive, as the brevity of freedom. Yes, beloved freedom.

I do not know the exact frame of time, because time is an arbitrary construct created to govern the unruly human life, and I am a cat. Yet it feels as if lifetimes have passed since that glorious moment mother threw her hands to the heavens, exclaimed I just… why are you even… what the… why are you so awful? This, shortly after a lengthy rendition of my freedom song. I had recently discovered the best acoustics required perching atop the arm of the sofa, my face as near to mother’s as physically possible.

Now it appeared the ancient magicks had brought mother to her breaking point. Shaking her head in resignation she stood, the stiff joints from her newly sedentary life crackling their protest, and opened the door. Without a moment’s hesitation, I barrelled forth into the open arms of liberation!

My sheer joy was quickly dampened by the sudden appearance of that accursed beast, Je Suis. Wretched canine, with her gangling limbs and simpering cries. Often she’ll come to the window while I luxuriate, staring with her watery eyes and prodding me with her high-pitched mewling. Her perplexity is infuriating. Typically, she’ll vacate my line of sight rather quickly. I assume she’s embarrassed by her inferiority in the face of my obvious perfection. On the occasions she lingers overlong I am unable to restrain myself. I hurl my body at the thin pane of glass separating us, driving her away with the force of my anger.

And there we were: face to stupid, indolent face. No barrier to protect us, one from the other. I stiffened, readying myself for the encounter. I am, after all, the end product of an antiquated warrior bloodline. My ancestors guarded the tombs of kings and deities. They feasted on the plague itself, giddily filling their bellies while humankind fell in droves. We’ve gone so far as to conquer the indomitable human spirit. Even nursling kittens cause these glorified apes to lose their wits, falling over themselves to nurture and provide for us. I was prepared to neutralize my foe with no regard to my own life or limb.

The instant before I launched into action, mother stepped between us. She grasped Je Suis’s collar, leading her out of my strike zone. I heard mother muttering myriad idiocies such as Shhh, it’s ok Je Suis. She’s just a little brute. She doesn’t mean to be so rude and awful. I paid this no mind as I sauntered past them.

Here now, I was finally free! Free to feel sunshine’s warmth draping itself over my shoulders as I stalked the periphery of our fenceline. Free to feel the cool whisper of greenery against my whiskers. Free to flex my toes against the hard-packed earth, feel the seemingly infinite tickle of ants teeming to and fro. Ah, to linger forever in the euphoric moments before the world came crashing down upon me. Even the shadowy presence of Je Suis dogging my every move could not detract from my sense of peace and fulfillment.

However, as I imagine is the case with most prisoners who have been set free, my small taste of independence was not enough. My god. I wanted, nay... I needed more. On my circuitous loop around the enclosed yard I discovered a break in the chain link and corrugated metal sheeting. A break which would allow me to slip effortlessly into the neighboring property. Mother had migrated back inside to tend to her hot bean water and illuminated screens. She was not present as I slipped out of the shackles of security and into the unknown.

I am not too proud to admit my greed was my undoing.

No sooner had I entered this dazzling new land than the devil himself materialized. Yes, you know of whom I speak. The shadowy tormentor himself, Beelzebub. The fire in his eyes will haunt my nightmares for years to come. He had me in his sights, and I was captivated by his malevolence. Within moments, he attacked. The ensuing memories are an adrenaline-drenched whirl of catastrophe. I transcended the bonds of this physical form, conscious of only one thing: the drive to survive. Somehow I found my way back to the security of my own yard, that hellbeast hot on my heels.

And would you believe? Je Suis was my savior. As I streaked past her, blind with rage and terror, she bravely placed her feeble body in the path of that cretin, driving him back to the otherworld from whence he tried to emerge. Suddenly, mother was present and shepherding me back to our domicile.

It will come as no surprise it took some time for me to shake the residual trauma from my experience. I slept to forget. Several times per day mother would prod me awake, asking questions such as Are you lethargic, or are you depressed because the world is a dark and terrible place? I, of course, had no answer for her queries. I wished only to sleep, and in sleeping erase the hellish lanterns of the devil himself searing my very being.

Mother, of course, was not placated by my stoic silence. She insisted on a visit to the hospital to ensure my well-being, despite the superficiality of my physical wounds. The true scars mar the surface of my soul. As such, I was subjected to the inhumanity of a pill forced down my throat. This dark magic turns my very bones to jelly, and skews my sense of reality. The hospital visit itself was unremarkable, though the doctor was cruel enough to comment on my recently acquired girth.

I write this as the last vestiges of mother’s encapsulated poison relax their grip on my agency, and sense of balance. This day seems to have passed in a daze. The honeyed light of morning has been replaced by unfathomable darkness; an exceptional metaphor for this cursed life. Tomorrow, the sun will rise again and I will experience it through the sheet of glass that both protects and imprisons me. Perhaps someday I’ll gather the courage to overcome my recent experiences.

In the meantime, I’ll be eating my feelings and driving mother to madness with the vocal manifestation of my grief.  

[Let the record show Murphy never once thanked Je Suis or me, her mother, for rescuing her from imminent death. Also, she has already resumed staring longingly out the window while yowling. She doesn't stop until I throw things at her. This is not a sustainable lifestyle. Send help, please.