Tracey ‘Quinn’, 1965-2014

2 02 2014

She lied.

“If you text me, Terri, I’ll text you back.” I laughed as I headed for the door. “I will. If you text me, I’ll text you back.”

~~~

I first met Tracey at my second Big & National bookstore. She was a cashier, not much bigger than me, with a leprechaun tattoo and a scowl.

If you’ve ever worked retail, you know how it goes: You’re new, so nobody knows you or has much use for you. You have to show that you’re not going to make your co-workers’ lives harder, and prove that maybe there’s some point to you, after all.

Nothing personal; that’s just how it is.

I worked front desk with a bunch of people, among them C. We became friendly pretty quickly—she’s one of those people who others are drawn to—so when Tracey would lope over for some conversation, I tried to join in.

She wasn’t having it. She didn’t say anything nasty to me; she just looked at me like Who are you and Can’t you see I’m talkin’ to C.?

The Bronx accent; did I mention the accent?

C. was my in with Tracey, the signal that maybe I was okay. We talked history and World War II—Tracey read everything she could about WWII—and finally bonded over, you guessed it, cats. She and her girlfriend had a beautiful kitty Sammy, and whenever I asked about him her scowl would transform into this huge, toothy, smile, and she’d show me pictures of Sammy on her phone.

The day she put her arm around me and told me Sammy died, I cried.

She and E., her partner, got Piper, and oh did Tracey love that cat, pouring herself into that kitty. Unsurprisingly, Piper is as irascible as Tracey was.

C. has her now.

~~~

Her last name wasn’t Quinn, but it’s what she’d sometimes tell people. I didn’t know her real last name until this past summer, when she went into the hospital for another round of cancer treatment.

But, for whatever reason, she wanted to keep her name to herself, so I’ll keep her alias, for her.

~~~

When Tracey got sick, it was E. who told everyone.

E. and Tracey fit together, although you had to get past the “Really?” to see that. Tracey was almost twice as old as E., but it was E. who first hit on Tracey. And E.’s as open as Tracey was wary.

They took such care of each other, and as Tracey got sicker and sicker, E. stayed right there.

They loved each other; they were lucky to have each other.

~~~

It was fall when it was determined there was nothing more to be done. A year, maybe.

C. and I trekked out a couple of times to a neighborhood hospital in Queens, where Tracey presided over her room. This table had to be here and that table there, and the chairs just so and don’t mess with the curtains or anything.

When she wanted to move out of her bed she needed her morphine drip unplugged, so I did that. Whenever she shifted, I’d jump up. “Not so fast. Stay away from that plug, Terri. Whaddya trying to do with that plug?”

Don’t ask so many questions and don’t make any decisions for her. She knows what she wants, so just do what she says.

And give her a kiss before you go.

~~~

At her sister’s, yesterday, she held court over the chairs in front of the t.v. She was comfortable, she said. She could lean back in one chair and put her legs up on the other, and her nephew’s cat would jump up on her and they would fall asleep together.

I brought her peanut butter (Skippy’s, creamy) and C. brought her cookies and E. helped her into her over-shirt so she could “look presentable”.

Her stomach was hurting her and it hurt when she laughed but she wanted to laugh, so she did. I nagged her about her pain meds, but not too much: Tracey wanted to remember. She didn’t want to go before she was gone.

Tracey asked about Piper and C. mentioned that the cat was, ah, difficult. Tracey and E. laughed. Yeah, that’s how she is. Get a towel, Tracey said, and throw it over her. Something soft. She spied her blue robe. Like this. Take this.

Put your scent on it, E. suggested, so Tracey wrapped herself in it, rubbing her face and hands into the soft blue.

As we got up to leave, she directed me to take the robe. Fold it nice! she demanded.

I went back over to her chair. You want to move this? What about the stuff up here?

Don’t touch anything! (I’m not! I’m just pointing!) Don’t you point at anything!

I laughed. There it is, I said. Now I feel better that you yelled at me.

I hugged her, longer than I ever hugged her, and kissed her goodbye. She hugged C., then got a little time, too little time, with E.

We’ll see you soon, we said. I’d text you, I said, but you never text back.

“If you text me, Terri, I’ll text you back. I’ll text you back.”

~~~

She died in her sleep, early this morning. She was there, and then she was gone. Just as she wanted.

Tracey to the end.





Teacher tells you stop your playing

5 12 2013

Oh my god oh my god oh my god do I hate grading.

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but no, I’m not. I mean, I am, but I still hate it.

So, cats.

Ahh, pretty, pretty kitty

Ahh, pretty, pretty kitty

Finally, a profile shot.

Finally, a (somewhat blurred) profile shot.

The cats, the cats I don’t hate.





Hey you

28 11 2013

Happy Thanksgiving.

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I hope your critters are more cooperative than mine.





Some like it hot

18 11 2013

Apparently Jasper thinks the capsaicin spray with which I doused the houseplant he liked to graze upon is akin to sriracha: it spices the plant up nicely.





The feline paradox

13 11 2013

A good cat is a bad cat; a bad cat is a good cat.

Disambiguated: A “good cat” in the first sense refers to the goodness of its behavior in the view of the human in whose home it dwells. A cat who is good, i.e., who does not misbehave, is not acting like a cat; ergo, a “good cat”55 is a bad cat.

A bad cat, that is, one which misbehaves or acts in a manner otherwise indifferent to its human, is behaving as cats do; thus, a bad cat is a good cat.

Possible objections:

What about old cats? Cats of a certain age, who have put in their share of misbehavior over the courses of their lives, are emeritus bad good cats.

Isn’t this a no-true-Scotsman  argument? No.

What about cats which please their humans? If a cat’s pleasing of its  human is in pursuit of its own pleasure, then this is acceptable cat behavior.

For example, many humans enjoy it when their cats jump into their laps, purr and/or knead. The cat does not do so because it wants to make the human smile; the cat jumps into the lap in order to get its ears scritched, which is to say, for its own pleasure.

It should further be noted that master-cats are those which can engage in behavior about which their humans will complain, do nothing to discourage, and may even encourage.

An example: a cat may climb on to its human’s chest in the middle of the night, waking her, and push its head into half-awake human’s face in an effort to prompt the human to pet it, all the while purring so loudly that the human’s grumpiness at having her sleep interrupted will dissipate into a sense of awwwww, how sweeeeet. Human will then almost certainly commence petting.

Does this mean cats are evil? No. Cats are beyond good and evil.

Why would anyone want a cat, if the only good cat is a bad cat? Have you been paying any attention?





Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

5 10 2013

So it turns out domestic cats share over 95 percent of their genomes with tigers.

Of course they do.





Cats

9 08 2013

Because, yep, that’s what this post is about.

Ignore the cat hair on the ottoman---look at the pretty kitty instead!

Ignore the cat hair on the ottoman—look at the pretty kitty instead!

Kitty boy on the floor.

Kitty boy on the floor.

His preferred floor-space is actually the threshold of the bathroom:

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Trickster, however, almost always prefer a higher plane:

Coolin' her armpit.

Coolin’ her armpit.

Another high spot:

Trickster looking down on us all.

Trickster looking down on us all.

That shelf, alas, is no more. It was a great place for Trickster to escape Jasper, but one day I came home and the wall brace had been torn out.

I think Jasper probably tried to leap up to it and the combination of his weight and the jump was too much for the bracket.

I may try to rig an alternative up for Trickster—she really does need a place to get away from Jasper-in-fightin’-mode—but in the meantime, she and the kitty boy are sharing (alternately) this:

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Yes, I constructed a dresser from wine boxes—perfect for my (de-jewel-cased) cds. It used to sit in my living room, topped off by my mini-stereo, but as I was trying to free up space in the main room, I thought I’d see if it would work to put it in my bedroom.

It works, and the cats dig it.

Anwyay, it’s been awhile, and I didn’t want you to forget how gorgeous my kitties are.





Strange angels

17 07 2013

It happens about once a month.

Kitty boy changes where he sleeps at night: sometimes at the end of my bed, sometimes on the bedroom chair, sometimes on the small chest, and sometimes in the living room.

But with some regularity, in the middle of the night, Jasper will creep up on to my chest and purr and peep and squeak until I wake up enough to scritch him. And if the noises (or his weight or a misplaced paw) don’t do it, he’ll nudge around one of my hands until I bring it to his head, then he’ll settle in, a block of purring fur.

Okay, I don’t like being woken up, but he’s just so affectionate and. . . yeah, I’m a sucker, so yeah, he gets away with it.

Actually, the purring and blocking wouldn’t be so bad, but at some point he’ll get super affectionate and start to lick my chin or my neck, and I have to move my hand to deflect him—because I know that after the licks come the nips and then the chomps.

No, I can’t recall that Jasper—who I did once call the Vampire Kitty—ever has bitten my neck, but having had my toes be on the receiving end of the lick-nip-chomp routine, I ain’t taking any chances.

I don’t know what’s going on with him; it’s entirely possible he’s just being. . . cat.

Trickster, on the other hand, never bothers me in the middle of the night, but when the alarm goes off in the morning, or if she hears me stir, she’ll jump on to the bed or come up from the foot and sit, just sit, right next to me, waiting for me to wake enough to throw a pettin’ her way.

Of course, then she’s got this weird step-dance she goes through where she arches her back and circles around and smashes her head into my hand, to which I almost always respond, “weirdo”.

Whatever. Cat.

Cats.





And I said ‘nothing’

6 05 2013

I couldn’t be arsed to post anything properly, so I thought: cats!

Yeah, that’s the ticket: I hadda coupla good ones of the dastardly duo.

But, nope: my camera and my computer are apparently no longer on speaking terms.

So, nothing.





It’s my life and I’ll do what I want

6 04 2013

Remember when I showed that horrifying video of an owner who (shudder) trained her cat to play dead?

Well, this is how a cat ought to respond to commands:

Hells yeah!

~~~

h/t Cute Overload