13

Feral Purrfessional – Part 3

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Where we are: Katie Kitty has been given a scholarship to Mid-America Animal Tech. She plans to become a Feral Purrfessional to provide medical care to the feral cat population. She has arrived at the school with her mother and sister Charlene. They have just met Katie’s roommate Elise and her father Edgar. Read the beginning of the story here and Part 2 here.

Elise: We start tomorrow. Let’s go see where everything is.

Katie: Great idea! I think the labs are across the street. And the lecture rooms are the next building over.

Charlene: That way you guys can’t blow up everything at the same time.

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Katie: Thanks, Char. We really appreciate your support.

Katie looks at her mother and Edgar.

Katie: Are you coming, Mama?

Mama: I don’t know. I might be more frightened than ever about leaving you here.

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Edgar: Let’s go with them, Mrs. Kitty. That way you can see how safe it is.

Mama: Please call me Rose. No one calls me Mrs. Kitty. It sounds so strange.

Edgar: All right, Rose. I can explain what things are. It will make you feel better.

Rose: I guess that’s a good idea.

The girls race ahead chattering about how much fun they are going to have. Rose and Edgar follow close behind. There is a puma guard at the door to the labs.

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Guard: I’m sorry, but you’re not allowed in the building until tomorrow when classes start.

Edgar pulls out an identification card.

Edgar: It’s OK. I’m Edgar Khatt, Anatomy Purrfessor.

Guard: I’m sorry, Purrfessor. I’m new to the building. Please go ahead.

They enter the building, and Katie looks at Elise.

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Katie: Your dad works here?

Elise: Yeah. I don’t like to tell people. They think he got me in the program.

Edgar: Don’t worry, Katie. She won’t get more help than anyone else. I have an assistant who does the grading.

Katie: That’s pawsome, Purrfessor Khatt! I already know one of my teachers.

Edgar laughs.

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Edgar: That’s the spirit, Katie.

Rose: You mean you’ll see Katie every day, Edgar?

Edgar: Not every day. But several times a week.

Rose: I’m so glad to hear that. You don’t seem scary at all.

Edgar laughs again.

Edgar: Well, I’m glad to hear that. Here’s my lab.

He opens the door and turns on the light.

Charlene (startled): There are dead cats in here.

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Rose (terrified): You’re going to make them kill cats?

Edgar: Of course not. These are models, not real cats. We need the students to learn all of the bones and such so they can help others.

Rose (relaxing): Oh, of course. That makes sense.

Katie: Look, Mama. This one opens up to show the muscles.

Charlene: And this one has bones.

Elise: And they have real cats come in to show how the parts work for walking and jumping and other things.

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Katie: I can’t wait!

Rose: Well, I guess this isn’t too bad. What about the other classes?

Edgar: The students are very closely supervised. Some of the skills are practiced on each other, like weight and length.

Rose: How do you know when they’re ready to graduate?

Edgar: It’s a two-year program. Then the students work in our clinic for 3 months to practice their skills.

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Rose (hesitantly): Well, it does sound like a good program. Do you think she’ll be safe here?

Katie: Mama! Stop asking so many questions. You’re embarrassing me.

Edgar: It’s OK, Katie. (Turning to Rose) It’s very safe here. We’ve never had a problem with any of our students. All of the buildings are locked at night, and guards patrol the campus.

Rose: Thank you, Edgar. I feel much better.

Edgar: I’m glad to hear it.

The girls have been examining all of the models and displays. Katie and Elise seem to be bonding. Charlene still thinks some of the models are real cats.

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Edgar: Anybody interested in an anchovy and tuna pizza? I know a great place.

They walk to the restaurant and find a table. Katie and Elise talk nonstop about classes, books, shopping, and room decorations. The others mainly listen. Finally, they walk back to the dorm.

Edgar: How long are you staying, Rose?

Rose: We’re going to sleep here tonight and catch the train in the morning.

Edgar (disappointed): I was hoping to show you more of the town. At least let me take you to the station in the morning.

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Rose: That’s very kind of you.

Early the next morning Edgar picks up Rose and Charlene.

Rose: I want to thank you again. I feel so much better about Katie staying here. I’m going to miss her, but I won’t worry so much.

Edgar: If you’d like, I can call once in a while to let you know how she’s doing.

Rose: That would be wonderful. Here’s my number.

Charlene: There’s our train. We have to go.

Rose and Edgar purr.

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We will be taking a break next week for Cat Forum: Surviving Back to School. Then we will find out how things work out for Katie and Rose.

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

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21

Feral Purrfessional – Part 2

Image result for cat in lab coat

Where we are: Katie Kitty has been given a scholarship to Mid-America Animal Tech. She plans to become a Feral Purrfessional to provide medical care to the feral cat population. Her mother is uncomfortable with Katie being so far from home. Read the first part of the story here.

Katie: Mama, did you get the train tickets to school?

Mama: Yes, I did. I bought three – you, me, and Charlene. We leave at seven tomorrow morning. We won’t get there until the middle of the afternoon. I really don’t like how far away it is.

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Katie: The train takes longer than driving, because it stops. I think you’ll really like it.

Mama doesn’t seem convinced. The next morning the three Kitties arrive at the depot. Katie has been so excited that she hadn’t noticed how many bags her mother brought with her.

Katie: Mama, why are you bring so much stuff? I think you have more than I do! Are you planning to stay?

Charlene: Of course, we’re staying overnight. We can’t see anything if we don’t leave the train station.

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Katie: Good point. But you only have one bag. Mama has (counting) six. What is all that stuff?

Mama: I brought snacks for the train. And towels and personal items in case you forgot anything.

Katie groans.

Mama: And I brought some of those special salmon cakes you like, in case you get hungry at school.

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Katie: Mama, they have a cafeteria.

Mama: I know, but you might not like the food. And I brought extra school supplies. Just in case. And your stuffed mouse. And your favorite pillow.

Katie: Mama! I don’t need all that stuff! You’re going to embarrass me.

Mama (hurt): I just thought you might miss home and want some special things to help you adjust.

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Mama starts to cry.

Mama: I’m just so upset to have you moving out. You’re my baby, and I want you to be safe and happy.

Charlene glares at Katie.

Charlene: Can’t you just be nice? We all know how excited you are, but you are leaving home. Besides, someone will eat the stuff. Mama’s a wonderful cook. And you probably did forget things. You are pretty scatter-brained sometimes.

Katie: I guess you’re right. I do always seem to forget something.

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Turns to Mama and hugs her.

Katie: I’m sorry, Mama. It sure looks like you went through a lot of work for me.

Mama: It wasn’t any trouble.

They take their seats on the train. They weren’t too far out of the station before they were all curled up asleep. It seemed like no time before they heard the conductor calling their stop.

Katie: See, Mama? That wasn’t so bad.

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Charlene: It’s pretty here. It doesn’t even really look like a city. All the trees and flowers.

Mama: You’re right Charlene. It’s much prettier than I expected.

Katie: We need to find the shuttle to the campus.

She looks around and sees a van marked “Mid-America Animal Tech”. They find three empty seats. Ten minutes later, they stopped at a building with a sign that says, “Feral Purrfessional Dormitory and Lab.” Katie bounces up.

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Katie: This is it! My home away from home. Hurry!

Katie runs up the steps to the building. By the time Mama and Charlene have gathered everything together and get in the door, Katie has her room key and a set of house rules.

Katie: Hurry up! I’m on the second floor.

They follow her, carrying the bags. As Katie struggles to open the door, it’s pulled open by a handsome tom.

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Tom (laughing): You must be Katie; Elise’s new roommate. There’s Elise over on the bed.

Katie and Elise look each other over, rub heads, and begin to chatter. Meanwhile, Mama and Charlene appear at the door out of breath.

Tom: My goodness! Are you Katie’s sisters? And what’s in all those bags? Let me get them from you.

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Mama Kitty blushes.

Mama: No. I’m Katie’s mother and this is her sister Charlene.

Tom: My name is Edgar and I am Elise’s father. Unfortunately, her mother died in an accident, so I’m playing Mom today.

Mama: That’s so sweet.

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Edgar: What is in all those bags you were carrying? It smells delicious.

Mama: Those are salmon cakes I made for Katie, but she says she doesn’t want them. Would you like one?

Edgar: That would be purr-fect. I’m starving.

Mama gets out the salmon cakes and prepares a plate for Edgar. They are talking and don’t notice the younger cats watching them.

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Next week: Conclusion. Will Mama Kitty be comfortable leaving Katie at school?

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

22

Feral Purrfessional

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Katie Kitty was almost through packing when her mother came into her room. Mama Kitty was visibly upset.

Mama: Are you really going, Katie?

Katie: Mama, you know I am. I’ve been talking about it since I got accepted by Mid-America Animal Tech. They’re even giving me a scholarship!

Mama: But it’s so far away. I won’t see you for weeks.

Katie hugs Mama Kitty.

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Katie: I know, Mama. But we can talk on the phone and Skype. And I’ll be home for holidays.

Mama: I know, but it’s not the same. I don’t understand why you can’t just stay home like your friends. They’re going to school at Feline First Academy.

Katie (patiently): They don’t teach what I want to study, remember?

Mama: Do you really want to do that? It’s going to be so difficult.

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Katie: We need to have more Feral Purrfessionals. I’m going to be able to help untamed kitties get medical treatment. I won’t be a vet, but I can do a lot of the things a vet can do. I’ll be able to fix cuts and treat infections.

Mama: That does sound useful.

Katie: Remember when Mrs. Murrow had so much trouble having her kittens last year? I’ll be able to help kitties like that. And I can counsel on family planning.

Mama: Well, there are a lot of ferals around. I guess helping them is admirable work.

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Katie: It really is, Mama.

Mama: But do you have to go so far?

Katie: It’s the closest place that has the training. Besides, they offered me free tuition and housing. It’s hardly going to cost anything.

Mama: That’s true. I’m proud of you being so smart. I just didn’t realize it meant you would be leaving us.

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Katie: I’m not leaving you. I’m coming back for good when the training is over. That’s the point. I want to come back and help the cats I know. That’s why most of the kitties will be studying there.

Mama: But there will be a lot of different types of cats there. Some of them are probably big-city cats. They’re all spoiled and can be kind of hissy around other cats.

Katie: I suppose that’s possible. But if they want to help ferals, I think we should let them. Cities have wild cats too.

Mama: Well, be careful around them.

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Katie: I will, Mama.

Mama: There are going to other kinds of animals there too. It’s open to anyone, no matter what species they are. What if they make you room with a wolf? You probably won’t survive your first night.

Katie: Mama, didn’t you read the papers they sent? They have separate buildings for each species. Girl cats room with girl cats. I’m not going to get eaten.

Mama: But you won’t be inside all the time. What if something tries to attack you?

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Katie: For goodness sake, Mama! We live in a multi-species subdivision. It’s going to be like living here.

Mama: I guess so. I just don’t like the idea of you being so far from your family.

Katie: Would it help if you saw Animal Tech? Maybe you’d see it’s not so bad.

Mama: I don’t know. I don’t like cities.

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Katie: The bus stops right on campus. You can come with me tomorrow so you are more comfortable with the idea.

Mama: Can I bring your sisters? I don’t want to come home by myself.

Katie: How about one sister? I don’t want to draw attention my first day there.

Mama: I suppose that will work. Maybe Charlene. She’s the biggest of us. And she knows how to fight.

Katie sighs and goes back to packing.

Next week: Mama Kitty’s trip to the city

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

11

I Don’t Remember it Like That

We dropped our daughter off at college last Sunday. I’d always heard that it would be like a flashback to my own college days. I guess you could call it that.

She is going to a much smaller place than I did. There was no mistaking where you were going at the University of Michigan. Or when you got there. Or the thousands of people around wherever you wanted to be.

This place is in a residential area not far from where I grew up. There is no real signage except on the freeway right below. The freeway that has been closed for construction for the summer and will be until November.

No problem, right? You grew up there. True enough. We found the school with no trouble. And a parking lot. Was it the right parking lot? It had to be – it was the only one near the dorm. Yep – one parking lot, one dorm. No rushing memories yet.

We went inside. While she registered, we sat on a sofa. There were a few other kids filling out paperwork. No pandemonium. No feeling of being lost in a crowd. Hmmmmm. I was channeling high school more than college.

But wait. Something did feel familiar. Ahhh – a large building in the late summer with no air conditioning. The strange mustiness of a building that has been unoccupied for several months and is now full of sweating people.

Paperwork done, we went to the third floor. Where she had to talk to another person. She got a checklist for the current room condition. Once she filled out the form, she could have her key. I just had to identify myself and get a key. One point for large bureaucracy.

We went down the hallway and found her room. The girl at the end of the hall said it was open. It was not. Luckily her roommate was on the other side of the closed door. As we waited at the door, I noticed the girls in the room across the hall watching us. Open doors, people watching. That’s familiar. A little creepy, but familiar.

The room looks a lot like the one I had. But smaller. Dorm rooms are not known for their spaciousness, but this was the smallest double I had seen at any school. I swear that the girls could lay on their beds, hold out their arms and touch each other. I thought private schools were supposed to be more luxurious than the public ones. I guess this is part of the reason hers isn’t particularly expensive.

The roommate did remind me of some of the girls I knew in the dorm. Very sweet. And very aware of the strategic advantages of being the first to the room. Her side of the room was totally decorated. She had two rugs which covered two-thirds of the room. (In her defense, I don’t think they make rugs for half a room that size.)

The closets are on her side of the room, next to each other. Next to her desk. She took the one that is closest to my daughter’s side. It’s more easily accessible. The sink is on my daughter’s side. She took all the jewelry hooks she needed.

Actually I understand all of that. Don’t appreciate it. But I understand. The girl has never shared space with a stranger before. She doesn’t realize that parents can turn feral in defense of their offspring.

But that wasn’t the strangest part. Trying to make conversation, I asked about pictures she had pinned up of a dog and a bunny. I knew the dog was her pet. What about the bunny? She said they owned a rabbit farm. Some rabbits were pets and some were for sale.

This one? He was for sale. You have a picture of a rabbit you ate? Yes. That’s strange. OK, he can be a pet. So you are a little sick putting up a picture of a meal-to-be or you think you can freak me out by telling me your family raises rabbits for sale. Either way, I’m glad I’m not your mother.

We finally brought the stuff up. In the hot, humid weather. They had handcarts, but most of the people didn’t bother to take them back down when they were done. So it was an obstacle course. Did I mention the hallways were also strangely narrow for a dorm?

Downstairs I held a door open for a couple of guys with a sofa. It was the second one they brought in. Some of the people in my dorm built lofts for their beds and used the room as social space. With the size of the rooms and the size of the sofas, I’m guessing these guys have a very intimate social circle.

Sweaty guys. Tired, frustrated parents. Embarrassed, nervous students. They were right. It was beginning to remind me of college.

2

You Think it’s About You?

Many of us follow the same cycle through life. High School graduation. College graduation. Marriage. Kids. Kids’ high school graduation, college graduation, marriage, kids. It seems to go on forever (particularly some parts). And there are often parties associated with each step.

Interesting thing about those parties. The person who has achieved the milestone thinks the party is about them. I have never gone to a high school graduation party and not seen the graduate disappointed by how few friends showed up.

The graduate thinks the party is to congratulate him for finishing school (and reward him with lots of money). It’s the kid’s first introduction to the idea that we’d really like to get together sometime other than funerals. As a rule, the adults see these parties as a chance to catch up with relatives, friends, neighbors. It’s the reunion they’ve been meaning to put together but never got around to.

It starts with the invitation. Oh look, we got invited to Tony’s graduation party. I can’t believe he’s old enough to be graduating already. He’s Vivian’s son, right? I love that side of the family. They’re always so much fun to be around. Remember Gloria’s wedding? I have to write this down so I don’t forget.

Moves on to the gift. How much should we give? I don’t remember what we gave Amy two years ago. I guess it doesn’t matter. Amy’s my cousin and Tony’s my cousin’s son. Or do you give the same to everyone? Honey, do you remember how much Aunt Viv gave you last year for graduation? Maybe $50? Too much? OK, $25.

Then the accessories: I have to remember to take the pictures of Sheila in Scotland. I don’t think anyone has seen them. And that picture of grandpa I found in the attic. I wonder if Sandy is going to have her genealogy charts there. I guess it’s a good idea, but I forgot to see if I could find great-uncle Earl’s birthplace.

Finally, the day of the party arrives. The graduate has been chatting with his friends. They all say they’ll make an appearance. (The appearance turns out to be 10 minutes after the party ends. Smart kids.)

The first person to arrive is an elderly woman Tony doesn’t recognize. His mother rushes out to greet her and introduces her to Tony. Mom then disappears into the kitchen to finish up the food. Tony gets her a chair and asks how she’s doing. She proceeds to give him a rundown of her health, her neighbors, the weather, and her dead husband.

Finally Tony gets away to greet some other guests. It’s his aunt, uncle, and evil cousin who once tried to drown Tony. Turns out Jack is planning to become a lawyer. The adults leave to let the “kids” remember old times. Tony begins to wonder if anyone will miss him if he goes upstairs.

Some neighbors come by and Tony relaxes with them. His mother makes him get up to greet each person as they arrive. He talks to each for a few minutes. Hello. Thank you for coming. Yes, I’m glad to be out of school. I’m going to Wilderness U to study forestry. Yes it is an unusual major. Yes, there are actually jobs in that field.  Begins to wonder why anyone has a graduation party.

There is a good turnout for the party. People are complimenting his mother on the food. Except for the woman who says that she was at a graduation party the weekend before and it was catered.

The usual compliments and stories were told by the guests.

You can also overhear: I can’t believe her mother let her come wearing that. Of course Doris was the same way at that age. Or: Can you believe Eve is still dating him? He doesn’t even have a real job. Well at least he’s better than Jerry, remember him?”

Is that really the last impression you would want to make on your friends before you all go off to college?

 

 

6

Who Needs Tryptophan?

I was intending to send this post yesterday, but I fell asleep.

I would like to think that it had something to do with the Thanksgiving turkey the day before, but napping has been an issue with me as long as I can remember. My family swears I am part cat. Someone even had the foresight to give me the name when I was born.

I have always been a morning person, which means that I have never been a night person. It was a little embarrassing in high school and college. There was no point in staying up all night after graduation; even if I had  been able to stay awake, I would have been incoherent and grumpy well before sunrise. I later learned that more than a few people were incoherent and grumpy that night, so I guess I might have fit in anyway.

I only stayed up all night one time in college. I was finishing a paper. It was in the days when we wrote it down on paper (stuff made by pulverizing trees) and typed it later (no spell-check or backspace/delete). It was sometimes a painful process and could not be done during a boring lecture. The clicking of the typewriter keys would have kept everyone else awake.

What was funny was that I felt too guilty to miss class the next morning. My notes consist of a few works followed by a number in superscript, repeated multiple times. Too bad there weren’t actual citations associated with the numbers. Later I might have had some clue what he had talked about.

I worked at a weight loss clinic for a couple of years. Aside from the truly appalling practices they condoned (I found out later that I got my job because I looked better – weighed less – than my competition), the hours were noon til whenever we finished recording and calling in sales to the home office. A lot of people thought those were great hours. I got off early enough to go to the bar and then could sleep in. Unfortunately, I was usually too tired to do anything but go home to bed.

Dating was a little strange at times. Some guys had trouble understanding that when I said I wanted to go to bed, I literally wanted to go to bed, as in to sleep. Coupled with a real paranoia about eating in front of people I didn’t know well, I was probably a memorable date. Luckily movies were really loud, so I rarely had a problem with falling asleep there.

A couple of times I have tried to work two jobs at the same time. Not really a good idea. The first time I tried it, I lasted two days at the second job. While it seemed reasonable to work Thanksgiving weekend when I was interviewing, by the end of the second day I was too tired to even function through the day. The second time I tried it, I ended up with pneumonia.

After starting on afternoons at Ralph’s, I have been working first shift for quite awhile. That shift is 6a – 2;30p. Since I like to spend some time with my family, I usually came home, ate dinner, napped, and watched TV with my husband. Yes, we still eat as a family during the week (scary, huh?) Last week, they changed my hours to 4a – 12:30p. I saw it as an improvement – now I can nap before everyone else gets home. Just as soon as my body adapts to getting up at 2:30a.

I would go on, but Kommando Kitty is meowing. It’s time for a nap.