Almost everyone who talks to me for more than 30 seconds learns I have two cats. So Just a spoiler. There will be cat pictures, and they will be adorable.
Catloaf is what we call it when one of the cats sits on the floor and tucks her feet and tail under her body so that they aren’t visible. It makes them look like a meatloaf, or a loaf of bread, so the logical leap is “Catloaf.” Loafing is a grand word for what they do all day. Lick themselves, sleep, eat, and poop.
I planned on joining them. A slow day curled up on the couch, watching things on Netflix. Probably doing my part as a cat warmer and petting machine on demand. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men… they are always waylaid by cats. This is all going to make sense in a bit, I promise.
I am often plagued by fetal story ideas. I think many writers are.. That is to say Ideas that we can fit into a sentence and condense, and they sound like they’d be great, but developing them past that point can be a challenge at best, and at worst (And most if you look at my hard drive) results in a pile of half-finished novels that just wrote themselves into a corner and I haven’t figured out how to write myself out of that corner yet.
I had a friend who once referred to this plague as the “Popcorn Kittens.” Naturally derived from the YouTube video there. If you imagine the kittens as Ideas (And can include the Joplin in your head if you like.. Yakity Sax works well too) There’s all of these ideas bouncing around, competing for attention, running into one another, and it can feel utterly impossible to sort all of them out and choose one that will sustain through the thousands of words it takes to make a novel. It’s often the source of my “Writer’s Block.” I may say, “I can’t think of what to write.” When the truth is more, “I can think of too many things to write and can’t fixate on one long enough to make into something substantial.”
Conversations with me can be like that too, skittering around from one topic to another, bumping into one another, fighting for attention. My head is a noisome place to be, between my own worries and anxieties, my struggle to read between the lines, or interpret tone and facial expressions, the challenges of jockeying between two languages and trying to make it look easy. Sometimes I wish it would just be quiet for a little while and let one idea shine through and grow and develop into something wonderful and useful.
I had one of those days today, where my head was noisy and jumping from one idea to the next. I just couldn’t settle down, and so the popcorn kittens distracted me from catloafing.
The Catloaf in this post is named Meshmesh (Arabic for “Apricot” and used the same way westerners will call someone “Pumpkin” as a term of endearment); she’s a pound purry that we adopted close to two years ago as a kitten. She’s adorable; still clinging to her kittenish features as she grows (We’re pretty sure she’s pushing 12 lbs); with big wide clueless eyes and tippling back and forth between impossibly affectionate and needy to flying furry terror. She’s just as soft as she looks, and since she relaxes when I pick her up, she’s smooshy too. She’s also the younger of the two cats, and Asmen’s favorite.
The older is Atuta (Arabic for “Tomato”); who we’ve had in our home for nine years now, and she was maybe 2 years old when we adopted her from a rescue agency. Atuta’s a big cat; at close to 18 pounds and has settled down in her old age; preferring the quiet of curling up alongside a person for a nap. She’s not skittish around people like Meshmesh is, and there’s a sincerity about her affection that lets me believe that she knows when I’m upset and need her to pet and soothe away whatever’s aching me. She’s getting a little stiff in the joints, and is pretty well set in her ways. I call her my old lady, and she and I have been through a lot together.
So I was going to curl up with her and watch movies and just try to relax. Meshmesh would have joined in and rather than sit next to me, would sit on me. But the popcorn kittens got in the way. And so I posted.