Thursday, December 19, 2013

Maybe Mabel

I am a cat. I am an orange cat mostly. My feet and nose and chest have white, but the rest of me is orange stripes. My person calls me Mabel. I'm okay with that. My person is always asking me “What is your name?”. I never answer.

A name is subjective. A name depends on who is talking to you. The lady I used to live with called me another name, not Mabel. But that name is private between me and her. She's gone now and so is that name. She taught me manners, to not beg for food from her table, to not draw my claws with her, to not yell in the house. I am a polite cat. I am a lady.

After she went away, I moved to another place. There were many, many other cats there. It was hard to live in a place where cats never stayed very long. I made some friends, but then they left and I was alone again.

I learned to stick to myself. Then I moved to another place. They put a card on my box that said “Mabel”. I stayed there a long, long time. I lived in my own box with bars, never speaking to anyone or making friends. One day, my person came by and visited all of us cats. She spent hours meeting everybody. Some other cats would poke at her from the bars or yell for her attention. What manners! I would never yell or jump for attention. My person came by my box and tried to get my attention. I did not turn. My person asked me what my real name was. I did not answer. My person asked to spend some time with me in another room, a bigger room without bars. I stretched my legs and looked around. There were so many other cats, rooms and rooms I had never seen from my box in the hall. What a big world this was! My person wanted me to move in with her. I waited patiently by the door. We went into the cool evening air and I smelled the flowers and trees on the breeze. I started to ask, just once, “where.....?”. My person told me it was okay, “we are going home, we will be there soon.”

I live in another place now, with my newest person. She doesn't mind if I spend my days warming myself on the back of the couch in front of the big window. I get my exercise by running laps around the house. I eat well, but not overly so. I want to keep my figure. My person calls me Mabel. She says that she will call me Mabel until I tell her my real name. I'm okay with Mabel. She lets me crawl under the covers on the cold mornings after I wake her up by purring loudly. That is the only polite way to get attention. She says, “Okay, Mabel. By the way, what's your real name?”. I never answer.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Power to the Sisters!

     So, I am standing in line waiting to pay my library fines today.  I notice that the clerk is wearing a chemo head wrap.  A beautiful wrap, but it's obviously a chemo turban.  I never wore a wig or turbans or head wraps.  I wore bandanas and hats.  I have a bandana to match any outfit.  I really like to wear the black one with little white skulls.  I have about a inch of hair now, but it's still obviously chemo hair. I wear my hair in the little-boy-summer-crew-cut style.  Tres chic.

     But I digress.  As I am standing in line, I am wondering if I should say anything to her about her wrap. Perhaps I could offer some encouragement.  "It gets better".  I realize she does not want to hear that.  She wants me to treat her as if she is not wearing a head wrap, even a beautiful head wrap.  I decide to just be pleasant, but not say anything.  Tres normal.

     Without warning, my eyes are hot and my chin quivers.  I am fighting back tears, afraid that I will break into an audible sob.  It's my turn to step to the counter, but I barely have control, let alone the ability to speak.  Tres cool.

     I clumsily take my wallet from my bag and coins fly everywhere.  At least I have a moment to collect myself as I stoop to gather my 35 cents, smashed pennies, and chinese fortunes.  I complete my transaction with my head down, pretending to count change, pick lint, whatever.  I look up at the last minute to say "thank you".  I only trust myself to a quick glance from the angle of my eye. We lock eyes for a split second. Just a moment, a molecule of a moment, a moment loaded with knowing, an exchange of solidarity, a moment of silent sisterhood.  I went to the car, then I sobbed, then I smiled.  I like to think that she did too.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Now what?

     I am wondering what I am supposed to do with my life.  At the time of my cancer diagnosis, I panicked and prepared to die.  Then I didn't die.  Now what do I do?  Go back to the same work as before?  Go back to school?  Sit around and wait for my cancer to flare up again?  Eat, pray, love my way around the world?  Get a dog?  Trade my house for an RV and drive the highways and byways?  What do I do now?

   I had another version of the same dream again last night.  I'm back behind the pharmacy counter, counting. Hum de dum.  Mrs. Bevilacqua* comes to the counter to pick up the prescription she ordered yesterday.  I find the order and discover that Pharmacist Sheila* (PS) did not complete her work when she was on duty yesterday.  The vial is filled but there is no cap.  PS covered the vial with tape.  I can't find any caps.  I find another bigger vial for Mrs. B's pills and then notice then PS has filled the wrong strength, giving 3mg instead of 6mg and marking the label in pencil to "Take 2 tablets."  Mrs. B does not understand English.  This will not do.  I want to restore the original prescription.  I need a new label.  The printer jams.  I call over Technician Ted* as he is the best tech, ever.  He has been searching for the missing caps in the warehouse.  Mrs. B does not appreciate Ted's humor.  He upsets her greatly.  I notice the line behind Mrs. B now extends out the door.  I notice the clock on the wall says 5 minutes to closing.  I now notice that most of the stock bottles on the shelves are full of expired medication.  I find one bottle in the back corner but I cannot reach it.  I can almost grasp it with the forceps, but keep dropping it, each time a few tablets fall out (no  lids, remember) and roll behind the shelf, lost forever.  I only need a few for Mrs. B......

   I awaken with a gasp, understandably anxious.  Whew, I guess I answered part of my question.  I need  not return to the same work as before.  But then, what?  

*All names have been fictionalized.