#7: Writing & Schlepping

Writing is the thing I do the most, and it’s probably the thing that I’m best at. Which is not a boast about how great my writing is, but a testament to how terrible I am at other things. Even so, writing is hard for me. For two chief reasons:

  1. Writing is hard. Period. To pull things from the ether, and from your life, and say exactly what you mean about them in an interesting way is notoriously challenging. I think just about every writer I’ve ever heard or read on the subject, with the exception of Stephen King, struggles to confront a blank page.
  2. Writing is generally a stationary, solitary business. It requires sitting, in a chair, with little besides your own thoughts for company or diversion. What does that sound like? Oh yes – time out. Choosing to be a writer is basically consenting to spend most of the rest of your life sitting in timeout (Pro tip – make sure to hide some biscuits in your pocket).

 

There is one thing that makes this hermit’s life tolerable, and indeed delightful. And it isn’t any combination of booze or muse. It’s my cat.

 

Writers are well-known for being eccentric, anti-social weirdos. Many of the notorious ones have been drunks and or smack-heads, with poor social skills and/or suicidal tendencies. What is not as often brought up is that, more than any of these things, they are also prone to be cat-freaks. If you Google ‘writers & cats’, you will find no shortage of images of famous writers with cats:

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#4: Where Do you Want to Go?

Once you’ve established that you can leave the house with your cat, the next question is – where will you go?

 

This is, of course, the real question we all face continuously from our childhood forward. Whether it’s wanting to go on a walk, a hike, a holiday, whether we’re just starting out to seek our fame and fortune, or looking to start anew after a breakup or layoff, or fleeing some horrible home-life or war zone, we find ourselves continuously confronting that same question: Where will you go?

 

Encased within that misleadingly short query, of course, lie a variety of bigger, scarier problems, like “How do you want to spend your life?” and “What are your suited for?” and “Who will have you?” Also, the wonderful, tingling awareness that it’s a very big world out there.

 

Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been great at answering the question. There’s just too many interesting options, and I don’t want to rule any of them out.

 

When I first started schlepping my cat Aífe about outside on a regular basis, and she started showing real improvement in her ability to handle The Vast And Terrifying World Outside, I got really excited, and my imagination started running way ahead of us. We were in Berlin at the time, and it was a humid 100 degrees outside (that’s 37 Celsius), in the very heart of a thoroughly paved metropolis. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get a visa to stay in Germany with my then-fiancé, and I began finding reasons I’d rather be elsewhere anyways. (You know, the thing where you reject the thing/person/situation you care about before they reject you. Defensive, fight-or-flight, the-grass-is-always-greener-elsewhere-anyways-so-fuck-you shit that I had learned from my childhood, and had grown so second nature in my young ‘adulthood’.) As fear melted with fantasy in the boiling brickwork, I had visions of Aífe and I heading back to America, hiking and camping and road-tripping our way through the extraordinary array of stunning terrain that my vast homeland has to offer. Retreating from the anxieties of immigration, romance, crowds, and humans in general, reasserting my independence from everybody except my cat.

 

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