When she curls around my heart and purrs


These photos could easily go with my last cat post, and will have to do while I’m writing a series of new cat-related posts. She was doing something similar to this when I came up with the poem in the last cat post.

I don’t have an adequate way to describe how the photos differ from each other. All of them involve parts of my face showing, and parts of Fey showing. (Fey is a grey cat with ticked fur and some white markings on her face, paws, and belly.) In nearly all of them, Fey has parts of her face pressed to my cheek. We are lying next to each other on my bed, which is slightly tilted upward at the head. The pictures are from various angles. In the last photo, Fey is sniffing my forehead.

We can sit like this for hours, whether awake or asleep.










About Mel Baggs

I am a highly sensing person. I am a child of earth and water, I was born into a redwood forest and I left the forest but it never left me. I'm 34 as I wrote this. If I had an alignment like in role-playing games and MUDs, I'd be chaotic good all the way: I don't think it's possible to fill ethics into a moral code, the world is far too complex for that. I let the world be complex and chaotic and try to respond situation by situation from a small number of principles of right and wrong. My responses may seem to contradict each other, but that will be because either the situation has changed, or I have changed. I am a poet who is trying to practice more every day, hence the poetry blog. I am a cat lover and live with a wonderful elderly cat. I am a painter when I have the time, energy, and resources. I have multiple cognitive, physical, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities, and my health is not usually stable. Put all together, I'd be considered severely disabled. I get a lot of assistance throughout the day. I am a real living cyborg, part human part machine: I have a GJ feeding tube to feed me through one tube and drain my stomach through the other,, an InterStim implant for urinary retention, and a port (a permanent central IV line). I love life. I think Love (not the sentimental emotion, but the property of the world) is the most important thing that human beings can offer each other. Being near death enough times has taught me that, and has also taught me that I have no time for bullies or pettiness. I'm involved in disabilty rights and other causes that people these days would call 'social justice', but I don't consider myself part of the 'SJ community' or the 'anti-SJ community' because of that thing I said about pettiness -- they're more about one-upmanship than fixing the world. I wish they had not taken over the words 'social justice', which used to mean something else. I love talking to just ordinary people about fixing the world, they have far more realistic ideas and more likelihood of putting them into practice. I'm a Hufflepuff to the core, with some Gryffindor tendencies and even a little bit of Ravenclaw. I admire some Slytherins but I don't have much ambition or cunning at all. I still think the Slytherin common room is second best, with Hufflepuff coming first. My favorite color is brown, especially when combined with a bit of yellow or blue. My favorite music is country, and my favorite country artists are Kathy Mattea, Lacy J. Dalton, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, Merle Haggard, and Loretta Lynn. I don't like most new country but i occasionally hear something on the radio I like. At an early age, my family listened to country almost exclusively to the point where I thought all the different types of country were all the different types of music! I couldn't put Lacy J. Dalton, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson in the same category. Although now that I've grown up I can hear that they are all country, but as a kid my ear was trained more for minute differences in country styles, than for recognizing country from other types of music. Country isn't all I like. Some other bands and artists I like: The Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Rasputina, Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles, Rich Mullins (I'm not Christian but some Christian music is amazing), ), The Raventones/T.R. Kelley, Planet P Project/Tony Carey, Sinead Lohan, Donna Williams, Suzanne Vega, Phideaux, and Jethro Tull, to name a few. I love the Cocteau Twins in particular because they are everything being sensing is about: Words are chosen for their sound, not their meaning, the voice becomes yet another instrument rather than a conveyor of words, raw emotion pours out of them, there are layers upon layers, and they were around for long enough there's lots of their music in a variety of different styles -- including their later stuff where the words have more meaning than just sounds. Each period in their music has its benefits and drawbacks but I love them all, or nearly so. Their music comes as close as any music can come to conveying how I experience the world, as what Donna Williams calls 'pattern, form, and feel'. And Elizabeth Fraser has a beautiful voice, I once had a teenage crush on her. As I type this, I have a cat sitting on my shoulder, cheek to cheek with me, peering around and occasionally rubbing me. My relationship to her goes back 15 years to when she was six months old, and we've rarely been parted since. It's been an honor to watch her grow into a wise but crotchety old lady cat. She knows she's technically older than me and tells me so sometimes, especially during arguments. She has trouble with the fact that there are parts of the human world I know better than she does. She sees me as her big, dumb kitten who needs protecting, and is beside herself with worry if I end up in the hospital (which seems to happen frequently these days). I don't experience myself as having a gender identity, I call it being genderless. You'll sometimes see the pronouns sie and hir in my work, they are gender-neutral pronouns pronounced 'see' and 'hear'. I was raised female, which gives me both disadvantages (outside the trans community) and advantages (inside the trans community). You don't have to remember my pronouns, lots of people have trouble with gender-neutral pronouns. I won't be upset with you. People make mistakes, and some people just can't get the hang of new words, and that's okay. I have vocabulary problems myself (mostly comprehension), I'm not going to penalize other people for having vocabulary problems of their own. Right now my father is dying of cancer that's metastatized so many places they can't figure out where it started, my mother has severe myasthenia gravis that can land her in the ICU (and she's my father's primary caretaker), my "second mother" (who took over when I grew up and my family didn't know how to prepare me for the world) has endometrial cancer, and my cat is getting old. All of this is bringing death to the forefront of my mind and my poetry. In fact I think I've been able to write more poetry because of all the feelings about so many people dying or with precarious health. It was easier to handle when it was me that was going to die (averted by diagnosis and treatment of severe adrenal insufficiency that'd been going on for years). It's harder when it's someone else, someone you love. My other hobby is crocheting, and a lot of the time if I'm not writing, it'll be hard to find me without a crochet hook or occasional knitting needles in my hands. I love to be able to make things. I have been making hats and scarves with spare yarn (which I have a lot of), and putting them in City Hall Park wrapped in plastic, with notes saying "If you're cold, take this." I know what it's like to be cold in the winter, and if anyone takes them and stays warm I'd be overjoyed. You may have noticed I'm long-winded. This is actually the result of a language disability that makes it difficult for me to leave out details, to see two almost-identical things as perhaps something that doesn't need repeating, and to summarize or condense down my writing. I know this is a flaw in my writing, and it even prevents me from reading it sometimes, but I've found no solutions. Sometimes on my longer posts I'll put a "TL;DR" ("too long; didn''t read") summary at the end in bold letters for people to skip down to.. But even those don't feel adequate, even when I can do theme, which is not always. I think I'm getting better though. Learning haiku and other short poetry forms helps me condense my words better. Anyway, I hope that gives you enough idea of who I am. At my most basic, I care about Love more than anything (whenever I come near enough to death, I feel like I get asked the question "Did you Love, and did you express that Love properly?"), but like everyone I get sidetracked into things that are much less important. I try to make my writing an expression of Love. Sometimes I succeed.

10 responses »

  1. One of my cats likes to do the same sort of thing. In fact, often I settle down to sleep with her cradled in one arm and her head nestled between my chin and my neck. The only problem is that sometimes her weight (she’s fairly bulky) makes it hard for me to breathe. And her fur can set off my asthma.

  2. Yeah, I have what’s technically a severe cat allergy so I hear you there. I stay on the maximum dose of allergy pills and use two air purifiers but it doesn’t completely take the problem away.

    This position actually evolved because she used to sit on my chest. And bronchiectasis makes that a really uncomfortable thing breathing-wise. So when she climbs on my chest, I roll on my side, and she adjusts herself accordingly. Sometimes she even lies in an exact mirror to me — me on my left side curled up, her on her right side curled up, and only our faces touching. It’s my favorite kind of snuggling.

    Also sometimes she buries her face in my neck. There are so many different ways to cuddle a cat. And I never get bored, even after hours.

  3. There is a poetic symmetry in your mutual poses and a balance of forces…something akin to an affectionate klingon mind meld (for loss of another analogy). For sure you have been majorly marked as kittie’s own person and I wonder if there are gentle changes in pressure by each of you as you enjoy the closeness and wordless communication. It is somewhat ironic this post comes on the birthday of someone you asked to take you to adopt a cat so many years ago. I remember his sayiing on watching the immediate non-verbal interaction between the cat and yourself,( this without touching) how amazingly in tune with each other you both seemed. Truth be told I am not sure who picked who!

  4. meow! I like this. I’m sure Dennis would too. Sometimes he does similar things. I love it when he kneads my tummy…….meowmeowmeowMEOW!!!!!!! Fey is pretty……..

  5. Aaaw, she’s adorable!

    I am also reminded of the Vulcan mind meld; that’s sweet that she likes to put her face up next to yours like that.

    One of mine likes to walk up and headbutt me; I have to bring my face down so that he can reach it. Most of the time, when we’re cuddling, though, my cats like to curl up on my tummy or at my side.

  6. I lack the simple comfort of a cat. But I do have rats. They are my joys. Nothing calms me faster than having Darjeeling or Bamboo in my hands. My old rat Mrs Brisby saved me several episodes.

  7. Eeeee, kittypictures!

    Re. what your mom said about “poetic symmetry”, that is a really good way of putting what I was trying to say earlier about you and Fey somehow looking “alike”.

    These picture definitely project that, and it’s a huge contrast between them and another kind of picture I come across sometimes. In this other kind, it’s like the human is using the cat as a “prop”, or very clearly forcing the cat to do something s/he doesn’t want to do, for the sake of the human’s amusement.

    I don’t mean it’s bad to be amused by cats, of course. My three are *constantly* cracking me up and making be go “awwww!” with their creative snuggling, playing, and exploratory antics. But geez, they do plenty of amusing and interesting things all on their own without anyone having to MAKE them. If someone can be around cats and not manage to perceive that, I’d worry about them being around cats at all!

    Anyway, “symmetry” is actually the exact word I was trying to think of before in reference to you and Fey, and I really think it’s a good word just for how it is when a human and a cat have formed a mutually respectful friendship. Like when each perceives the other as an “equal” somehow, and you can just TELL. 

  8. Like others, I thought the “poetic symmetry” description by your mom exactly caught what I see in those pics of you and Fey.

    I tried posting a comment on an earlier post about cats, but it somehow disappeared. Mainly it was to give this link:

    which is to a short movie about Meep, the cat who honours my lap every morning. Cat friendship has always been of huge importance to me, and communications with cats have always been among the best.
    I look forward to the continuing cat discussion here.

  9. Mom: yes, there are a lot of subtle changes in pressure and position going on during that, and sometimes she makes a lighter version of the deep rumbling contented sigh that our dog used to do. All of the little movements only add to the snuggling.

    Noranne: rats are neat!

    Dinah: sorry about that, my spam filter seems to be adding practically everything that has links in it. I still had to fish this one out.

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