I’m a Multilayered Person

Being complex doesn’t in any way guarantee that I’m special. But not being special doesn’t prove I’m meaningless, either. I have my uses.text + photo

How Quickly We Learn

Even when we’re young we pick up clues pretty swiftly regarding what sort of behavior and attitude is expected of us in our interactions with others. As a child, I learned ever so quickly that I am not the boss of anyone else and practically everyone else is the boss of me, and not much has ever changed in that department. Whether happily or unfortunately, depending entirely on your point of view, I also figured out as speedily as most kids do that as long as I behaved in the expected manner when anyone was watching I could get away with a fair amount of far more self-indulgent–if not subversive–ways. Sure does simplify my life!graphite drawingShow of Proper Respect

The Mistress in her jewelry and finery and furs

Thinks everyone should bow and kiss the ground—that’s also hers—

And genuflect before her grand tiara and her mace,

So that is what we tend to do—at least do to her face.digital illustration from a graphite drawingAll frivolous jocularity on the topic aside, however, getting trained by our elders and betters, in particular our mothers, is both more complicated and more happily meaningful for those of us who are blessed with great moms. Me, I’ve got two. The mother who gave birth to me and raised me from my days as an only mildly subversive little sprout into the silly but exceedingly happy big kid you see before you today is worthy of recognition as one of the great teachers not only for giving me a framework on which to hang my sense of right and wrong and general grasp of manners but also the education and freedom and knowledge of being unconditionally loved that enabled me to choose how to build on those foundations as I grew. My second Mom, brought to me courtesy of (her son) my beloved husband, gets credit for instilling the same curiosity and drive in her children and, in turn, for reinforcing in me through her example what it means to be a lively and lovely person who is good company, an active part of the household and community at every turn, and a tireless learner and adventurer who earns her place in those settings with remarkable grace. Whether I can live up to the standards set by either of my Moms remains to be seen, but they certainly give me the tools that should make it possible if anything can.

If it can’t, I guess I’ll have to fall back on my naturally ridiculous ways and just pretend to be better than I am for as long as I can keep up the front. Those of you who are looking for reliably good, sound company, go see Mom W and Mom S. And also my sisters and my sister-in-law, great mothers to their children, and all of those other mothers, who by birth, adoption, random acquisition and teaching, raise better people, who in turn make the world a better place altogether. All of whom I thank profusely not only on Mother’s Day but every day for being such great examples even for those of us who are a little too childish to be motherly examples ourselves. Go ahead, you can say it right in front of me. I’ve learned that much, at least!

You’re not the Boss of Me! Well, Yeah, You Probably are.

Lest I, as a mere human sort of creature, forget my place in the universal power structure, a few days communing with my sister’s four-legged family members swiftly reminds me that I can have all of the ingenious ideas and deeply meaningful thoughts I want in my pretty little head and they won’t change the reality of how the day will go for, and with, Ruffian, Mercer and Tristan.photo

Ruffian is well aware that all of creation was designed for the sole purpose of serving her and meeting her Needs (often mistaken by others as wants or Whining Points) and keeping out of her way in general so as not to disturb her beauty sleep. Being a large and well-rounded woman-cat, she prefers not to exhaust herself with any sort of excessive or unseemly activity if it does not culminate in being fed something. If there’s really no thrilling edible stuff involved, her time is far better spent in her semi-comatose repose, and most pleasantly of all, that in a place which is capable of creating maximum inconvenience for anyone who might wish to go through the door she is blocking, sit on the chair or window seat she is luxuriating upon, or sidle down the hallway she has carpeted with her soft and well-cushioned form. Yes, I suppose you are all by now sensing a bit of similarity between her and yours truly, perhaps?photo

Mercer, her fellow shelter adoptee, dresses formally for all occasions, preferring the classic tradition of the black suit and white button down shirt because he is much too dignified to be associated with frivolity and self-indulgence like his ‘sister’s’. If he should happen to take an interest in a cat toy and even deign to frolic after it a bit, it’s best for all others in the room to pretend not to have noticed, lest he take umbrage over this imagining of his being anything other than the most sober and staid member of the household. Despite his being strictly aware of his handsome panache and savoir-faire, he generally dislikes having his portrait taken, a trait I have assumed has to do with his being in the Witness Protection program and not wishing to be ‘outed’ inadvertently. I do suspect he might have some Scottish heritage because, although he doesn’t speak about this past of his, he still wears a fuzzy white sporran that swings jauntily under his belly when he’s patrolling his fiefdom.

While Ruffian and Mercer rule the house, Tristan lives exclusively outdoors. This arrangement seems to suit all three to the degree that each is able to maintain his or her sense of being the center of the solar system and ruler of all he/she surveys, since the two cats pay attention to each other primarily when needing someone to compete with over food, beat up or otherwise annoy.photo

Tristan was rescued from a neglectful owner after the people of the household split up and Tristan’s longtime canine companion died. He’s now twelve years old and, age and arthritis notwithstanding, maintains a cheerful demeanor, particularly if there happens to be a massive ham sandwich anywhere in sniffing distance. And he does have prodigious sniff powers, undiminished by the years. So when he goes for his three walks a day, nary a leaf or blade of grass goes unexamined, yet he keeps up a steady pace and chooses which of his favorite routes is preferable for the moment’s expedition, tugging all of his people-pack insistently if gently until we all acquiesce, recognize his prerogative, and follow orders. I’m just glad I smell acceptable to him, never mind whether any of our human companions find me tolerable or not.

After all, we are all just passing through, aren’t we? These three clearly know it’s all about the quality of the journey and that the destination will take care of itself soon enough. Say, toss me a treat, won’t you–I’m feeling a little peaked from not having napped enough yet today and can’t reach over that far.