July 17th, 2018

Personal record

I keep setting personal records for the sickest I have ever been! After having a stomach virus in February, which was really very impressive, I had an abnormal period of good health, which I would partially attribute to seeing a naturopath and taking a huge amount of supplements in every known category. That put an end to the great Cold and Flu Sweep of 2017, when I was sick 1/3 of the time and generally miserable. I still get migraines, which don’t seem affected by anything the naturopath could do, but I also see a neurologist who taught me to manage those decently with medications and with only one problem to focus on, I was doing pretty well.

Then June came, and the migraines became much worse–summer is always migraine season in stupid humid Toronto, but this was worse than normal. July has been a little better, but randomly on Sunday I got my Worst Migraine Ever, for no real reason. There weren’t any particular triggers or problems going on. I had gone to the gym and then showered, then was hoping to go to the beach but wasn’t feeling great so lay down to take a brief rest…and found I couldn’t get up for the next 19 hours. I won’t give you the play-by-play, though I actually remember it vividly–when I have a really bad migraine I can’t read or watch TV or even talk to anyone, but I can certainly lie in bed and think about my misery–but here are some highlights:

1) When you are a reasonably active person–and not like a marathoner but someone like me who goes to the gym and walks around and gardens and so forth–lying more or less perfectly still except going to the bathroom for 19 hours will freak your body out. My back, ribcage, shoulders and neck all got furious that I would do that to myself, right at a point where I didn’t really need more pain. Of course, that’s my theory for the moment–I’m a bit nervous that that’s not actually the reason all those places hurt after my little odessy in bed and it’s all part of some new disintegration. Stay tuned!

2) I’m getting better at vomiting! I used to go years–up to ten!–without puking, so I was really bad it. Like, I would tear up my throat and feel like I had tried to yank my lungs out. But with my increasing ill-health in the past couple years–you’ll be thrilled to know, I have had three migraines with pain-puking involved, plus that one stomach bug, all in the past two years–I’m getting much better at it. It still hurts my throat a lot and I have developed some sort of cough in response, but it’s not quite as wrenching!

3) When, around midnight, I started to feel marginally better, I had been in bed 12 hours, hadn’t eaten since breakfast and had long since parted ways with said breakfast. Mark, who had joined in the bed a couple hours previously, was awakened by my fidgeting around, and asked if I needed anything. I morosely told him I was hungry. AND HE GOT ME FOOD. After being awoken from a sound sleep, Mark went and made me a piece of toast and a bowl of yoghurt and brought it into the bedroom where I ate it in the dark next to him, while he went back to sleep.

4) Then yesterday I was marginally functional but not really able to be in the world. Normally I would have stayed home from work, but my home was one bajillion degrees and I felt this would not help matters. So I went to my mom’s, where there is not only air-conditioning but motherly love. She had even made chicken soup a few days prior, so we had it for lunch. I worked very slowly from her living room and enjoyed the climate control and then she helped me fight off her cat (who hates me) so I could sleep in her guest bed.

So if you tabulate 1 and 2 against 3 and 4, you realize even though it’s kind of been a nightmare for me lately, I’m still really lucky.

March 14th, 2018

A Year of So Much Love

One year ago that book of mine came out. So Much Love was so many years–and tears–in the making that it could not be anything but huge in my life when it actually became a public item. The subject matter is also dark and emotional, and I’d been deeply immersed in it for seven years when the book came out, in addition to the sense of vulnerability coming from events in my actual personal life. So even though I tell writers who are just starting out that one gets tough from having books in the world, inured to reviews and criticism simply by having experienced them–that wasn’t true this time. I was basically an open wound when So Much Love came out.

There’s a few paragraphs in one of the chapters about a character searching for waterproof mascara and I own that mascara in real life (research budget!) and wore it to the launch. I cried a lot about this book, literal and metaphorical tears both. It was shocking to have other people gain access to what was starting to feel like my own personal dreamscape. And even more shocking to talk to them about it–it was like letting the light in. I had been alone with the book for so long, and though eventually my brilliant editor Anita Chong came along shouldered so much of the load, I still felt cloistered with it. The many different reactions to the book–so many of them excited and engaged–let me finally step back from my own work and see it as a real book and not a dream. For the people who read it, So Much Love is a novel with a distinct shape and structure, characters and event, a beginning and an end. I never thought I’d be able to experience the book that way, but the longer I wasn’t writing it, the more viewpoints I heard–some very different from anything I’d imagined–the more it began to make sense to me as a finite object.

Other people related to Catherine and Julianna, Grey and Kyla, Sue and Donny, too–cried for them and got frustrated, and felt hope and sadness for them. They related to other characters or didn’t, felt suspense or eagerness, felt revulsion or impatience, felt so many things in the course of the novel. Readers of SML were reminded of people in the real world who had suffered similar crimes, of crimes they themselves had suffered. They thought of how incredibly difficult it is to suffer and recover. They felt the novel echoed that or didn’t, were troubled by its dissonances and resonances, were concerned, excited, questioning, scared, bored, thrilled.

Not everyone liked the book, and a few people were very clear in explaining that to me–in print, in person, on the internet–but pretty much everyone was civil. I’m actually startled by how well I coped with harsh words about the book,  given my feelings about SML per above. One reason is probably that I had kind people–mainly friends and family, but sometimes strangers–around to say, well, this is just one set of thoughts, there’s lots of other thoughts. And another reason is that I read Dana Hansen’s review in the Winnipeg Review and Marsha Lederman’s review in the Globe and Mail very early in the process, plus Bret Josef Grubisic’s in Quill and Quire and those were not only positive but seemed to read the novel in the way that I had written in. Because I saw in these reviews that people could connect with SML in the way I had dreamed–and because I knew they have a right not to–I was more or less ok with even the darkest comments on this book. It was still people sharing their thoughts on the most important thing I’d ever written, and that was generous, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear.

Oh, the generosity of this year. From the moment I stood at Kerry Clare’s lovely launch for the very brilliant and funny Mitzi Bytes and she took time out of her own big day to give my book a little shout out–can you imagine a friend like that?–I thought things might be ok. So Much Love and I received so much heartfelt *thought* this year–from the really searching, interesting questions at the panel discussions to the TV presenters who tried so hard to get me to calm down.

And then there was the pleasure of all the other authors who I heard read and talk–one of the best things of being at so many readings and festivals was getting to hear about all the other fantastic books that were out this year. Getting to do events with my beloved Mark Sampson because for the first time we had books out in the same season. I will never get tired of hearing him read my favourite scene in his novel The Slip, when Philip tries to get the poppy that fell under the dean’s desk.

And the BiblioBash, the very fancy party in support of the Toronto Public Library, where I was a guest author!

And the time SML was nominated for an Amazon First Novel Award and there was a giant poster of the book cover and it was all so fancy!

And the many simple, kind, brief emails I received that said in so many words, I enjoyed your book and wanted you to know.

That time I was a headliner at WordFeast in Fredericton–a headliner!

It was an amazing year.

But also.

My dad died just shy of three weeks before So Much Love came out, so even though I was happy about so many things that happened this year, I was always sad too. He never read the book–by the time there was an edited version that was presentable, he was too sick to do so. I will be sad about that forever. He was upset about it too–we were sad together. He was proud of me and my book. When I finished the final edits, I sent then off and went straight to the hospital and told him. He was always happy to hear about stuff like that.

I did not talk much about his death this year because I didn’t know what to say. Often it seemed like my mind was perfectly blank. But all my grief seemed wrapped up with the book somehow. Every time I had to travel alone for a book presentation, I would be excited and enthusiastic and then afterwards wind up standing outside weeping. It’s hard book to present when you’re already in a dark place, and I wanted to be true to the novel and give my all to panel discussions, readings, anyone who wanted to talk to me. I knew I was never going to have this opportunity again, to share this work that I love so much and worked so hard on and cliche as it sounds, I knew my dad would want me to do it.

So I did. I don’t think I said no to a single event or opportunity with regard to So Much Love and I truly enjoyed almost all of it. I’m so grateful for the readers and the friends, and everyone who gave me opportunities to share the book or made those opportunities worthwhile.

The traditional duration of book promotion is a year–two publishing seasons, spring and fall. And there’s a weird little part of my brain that feels, well, now the year is over, and everything will go back the way it was. I wrote the hard dark book I needed to write and I took a year to share it with the world the best I could, and I now I can move on to other things. Because my father’s death and the launch of So Much Love were so close in time, part of me feels like once I stop working on the book, talking about it all the time, he won’t be dead anymore. Which obviously I understand is a strange little mental trick and impossible but the thought is there.

It was a strange hard year. Thanks for reading, for writing me notes, for coming out to readings, for all the kindness. New years and new books beckon.

December 4th, 2015

Way back: Grade Nine Flight

I don’t usually go on about my old published work–I figure if anyone wanted to buy my books they could figure out how, and if they wanted to read a particular story they could google it or check my “publications” link above and try to find it. But there’s a few stories that didn’t get into a book and aren’t available, or aren’t easily, on the web.

Grade Nine Flight was my third acceptance ever, and my second publication (because of how speedy online publishing is. It came out in the December 2006 edition of the old version of The Danforth Review, that wonderful online mag but out by Michael Bryson (the new version of The Danforth Review remains wonderful, but does not include the archives of the old one. Rather, those archives are housed at Libraries and Archives Canada, which is a wonderful service but doesn’t appear to be google-search-able. So if you were looking for this story that way you wouldn’t find it, but why would you even be, because who has heard of this story I published nearly 10 years ago?

So here it is–the link above should work, if you’d like to read the story. I read it over lunch, and even though it’s so different than the stuff I’m writing nowadays, I still really like it. Is it bad to admit that? I feel so distant from the person I was when I wrote like that, saying I like it doesn’t even feel like vanity–that writer is another person entirely, I feel.

Yet, I know I wrote it, and I remember why: my brother was travelling abroad for a year, and I missed him. Even though none of the characters are based on anyone I know, the vibe of kids living in a house together is definitely something I am personally familiar with, and some of the games they play and conversations they have and tv shows they watch are things I remember fondly from my childhood.

It’s weird that I’m nostalgic for the person I was when I wrote “Grade Nine Flight,” but that person was nostalgic for a yet earlier period. We never get done longing for things, it seems (though I am very glad my brother lives nearby now).

If you read the story, please let me know what you think!

May 5th, 2015

The Childhood Bedroom Writing Retreat

I’ve been reading a lot about writing retreats lately. They just seem so lovely and idyllic–you go somewhere really pretty and fun yet somehow isolated and silent, and you get put up in a nice room just for you and given great meals you don’t have to cook or clean up from. You’re surrounded by people who want the same things as you do–solitude and time to work yet also later on stimulating company and challenging conversations and walks and laughs and snacks. You work so hard and so purely with no distractions that you end up with amazing new pages or spot-on revisions, a raft of new people to put in your acknowledgements and a few extra pounds of gourmet food. And a million good pictures from the gorgeous nature hikes you took every day after you finished work but before the social hour began.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that? Except I don’t actually have a life I much need to retreat from. I have a pretty nice home office with a door I can close and window with an interesting view. Besides work and writing, I don’t have a lot of demands on my time–well, no, i have tonnes of them but they’re all discretionary. Hanging out with friends, going to shows, watching Buzzfeed videos all take a bite out of my writing time, but I think I would just find other friends at a writing retreat…and somehow find a wireless connection to watch more Buzzfeed videos. My one non-discretionary obligation: I have a job, yes, but it’s pretty flexible–however, since I’m paid hourly every hour I take away from work to write quite literally costs me money. I try not to be nickel-and-dime about this, but I also try not to waste time…or money. Flying elsewhere at my own expense, taking a travel day and then possible time to settle in, just to get a room of my own when I have such a room already…I can’t really justify it.

I am NOT belittling writing retreats, which sound like they genuinely do simultaneously stimulate and soothe people into producing some amazing work–it’s just not in the cards for me right now, though I would like to go someday. And yet, in the meantime, my apartment is pissing me off lately (constant plumbing issues, some other stuff) and if I stay here I have to do my own cooking and laundry. So then I thought of it: where do I know that is pretty and peaceful, I could get a room of my own for free, and someone would make me lovely meals and have stimulating conversations with me? You’ve read the title of this post so you know what answer I came up with…

It went pretty well, actually! Minimal travel time, low cost, and no settle-in/getting-to-know-everyone time since I lived at my “retreat” for nearly two decades and have known the coordinators my entire life. The food was excellent, the weather was lovely, and there were even some birds singing the apple tree outside my window.

The downside is that I’m probably more eager to chat with my family than with strangers, and they of course have a vested interest in chatting with me. As well, unlike at a real retreat, they weren’t hard at work on their own projects, so whenever I went to get a snack or a drink there was the potential of sitting down and having a 20-minute conversation with an eager participant–a temptation I rarely overcame. I’m also just really comfortable in that house and it was a relief not to be constantly hassled by cats whenever I lay down (not that I didn’t miss them, but…) so I took a number of naps!

So I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped to be but honestly I never am–this was pretty good for me, actually. I highly recommend the Childhood Bedroom Writing Retreat if your folks have a location and a relationship with you that’s amenable to such things. Or I guess you could also put in an application Chez Rosenblum….

 

March 31st, 2015

The Late-Onset Adult: Tax Tips

I think late-onset adulthood is fairly common in our society now–even the phrase “live at home” has developed a meaning specific to recent times (surely we all, in fact, live at home). And frankly, at 36, I’m rather proud of all the grownup things I do–I support myself financially, I shop for and prepare healthy meals, pay bills, care for cats and occasionally other people’s children, take myself to the doctor when I’m sick, travel, even drive a car if I absolutely have to. I’ve booked hotels, helped friends in trouble, run meetings, navigated strange cities, gone to parties alone, hell, I even got married. Sometimes I add it all up (usually when I’m on the subway for some reason) I’m genuinely shocked that I’m so…functional.

But I don’t do my own taxes. I’ve always found this rather embarrassing, but every year I still bundled up the papers and trucked them off to my mom. She does the whole family, and is very very good at it. She used to be part of a volunteer squad who would go to nursing homes and community centres in low-income areas and do tax returns for whomever asked. When she wasn’t able to volunteer any more (logistical reasons), she still had us to keep her busy.

But really, taxes are stressful and I’ve been feeling guilty about putting the burden on her. Also, a bit embarrassed at not really understanding my own financial matters. So I’m on a slow, easy path to tax maturity–this is year three, and I figure there’s probably about three more in the process. I thought I’d share how I’m doing this, in case you’d also like to try for tax maturity. A few caveats…

* this process probably won’t work unless the person who is doing your taxes is doing it out of love–a parent, sibling, partner, or close friend–someone who is willing to help you however you want to be helped, and spend a lot of time with you to do it. This will probably not work with, say, a professional tax preparer.

* my taxes are semi-complex due to the fact that I have both a day-job and a small business as a writer and editor. I don’t earn all that much from my biz, but it’s all in little scraps and so are the deductions I have to take against the earnings (true fact: I got a T4A for $25 this year). Plus I’m dealing with lots of little, disorganized publications and groups, so they don’t always issue their paperwork properly–or at all–so I have to keep detailed records of what actually happened to present to the CRA. This makes my taxes more confusing, and much bulkier, than those of someone who just has a job with a single T4 and then some deductions and that’s it. So that sort of person could likely zip through the process a lot faster than me.

* I do my taxes by hand, because that’s how my mom does them. Apparently there’s all kinds of software that makes things easier, but if I used them then my mom couldn’t help me and I am only halfway through the process so I still REALLY need her help. I figure in a few years, when I’ve really got things sorted, I will try to learn the software–for now, my forms come from the post office and I mail them in a manila envelope. No online tax tips here.

Ok, here we go…

Year 0 (as many year 0s as you need): Sort through your receipts and slips and give the person doing your taxes an orderly set of papers. Sift out all the unnecessary stuff. If you’re me, you keep any vaguely important paper in a box all year–receipts for things you might want to return, vet bills, notices from your landlord–and only at tax time do you sort through and shred the stuff you didn’t wind up needing. At least, I do that now–I’m ashamed to admit there was a time when I just gave the box to my mother and let her decide to do with that fully-paid dentist bill.

In addition to simply removing the useless stuff, try asking the person helping you what categories the papers should be sorted into and then do that (the first year I also organized within categories by date, but I found out that’s pointless). This allows you to not only take some of the stress off your helping person, but also start to form a basic sense of how taxes work. I actually wrote a decent story set in a tax preparation class way back in 2007 based only on this sort of info. You can learn a lot just by making neat little piles of papers.

Year 1: Show up with your papers for your mom or other helpful soul to do your taxes, but then–this is big–stay. Don’t run away and let the tax preparation process remain mysterious–stay and watch, and hopefully your person will narrate what’s going on. I’m lucky (very lucky!) in that both my folks are born teachers and my mom is at ease not only working on the taxes but explaining what she’s doing. I wish you similar luck, but you may have to ask more questions if you’re not able to follow. Don’t be too intrusive, bring tea, offer shoulder rubs, and try not to let your mind wander. This is the last low-stress year, since you’re just absorbing the process and no one is asking any hard questions of you. But again, you should still be learning.

Year 2: Ok, this is the first scary year–show up with your papers, bring your person a cup of tea and now YOU do the taxes, with your helpful person watching. This can end up a lot like year 1, in that if you stare blankly at a piece of paper long enough the person who knows what she’s doing will probably just tell you what to do next, and if you do that enough times you’ll eventually be done the whole tax return. Try to make some stabs at finding your own next move, and trust your person to tell if you’re screwing up. Keep a copy of the Year 1 tax return handy, too, so you can imitate what worked last time around when the much smarter person was doing the return.

Year 3: Do your taxes by yourself based on what you’ve learned so far, the guidance of reviewing last year’s return, and the occasional phone call (I may or may not have called my mother 6 times in March specifically about taxes) or email. At the end of this process, give the completed return (good copy, but be prepared to make an even better copy) to your person to make sure you didn’t go off the rails anywhere. This is the year I’m just completing–I handed over my forms on Sunday at brunch, and I’m feeling pretty darn proud. I guess I should wait until I get the feedback before counting any grown-up gold stars, though…

Year 4: This is a projected year, but I anticipate it’ll be similar to Year 3 except with fewer phone calls.

Year 5: I think I’ll try to learn the software this year, which means I can call for advice during the process but I can’t  show my mom the final product (because it’ll live in the internet somehow? do I have this right?) I really should be ok with that at this point, I think–especially with the in-process phone calls.

Year 6: I’m not sure this is really as close as three years out, but eventually I want to be the sort of person my mom is, tax-wise and generous with said wisdom. My aim is to take over my husband’s taxes and save him the money he’s currently spending on H&R Block, but I’d only do that if we were really feeling confident, because I find another person’s documents trickier to understand than my own. And then perhaps I’ll go further afield, wandering the streets and helping others with taxery. I shall be beneficent and carry a flaming calculator…

Well, you get the idea! Did you come to any useful life skills at a later age? How did you do it?

August 25th, 2013

Cellphone report

Regular readers may be aware that I got my first cellphone in March, with great trepidation. I enjoyed being one of the last holdouts on the new technology, and didn’t want to be a slave to yet another form of communication–I already love too many of them. But I was also tired of not being included in last-minute fun, and not getting the message when plans went awry. The last straw was when my friend and I spent 45 minutes waiting for each other at 2 different GO stations. Enough was enough.

I’m pleased to say that no such incident has occurred since the acquistion of my new smartphone. Moreover, I am able to send word when I’m running late, picking up schwarma, or lost–this is helpful. I can check email when I’m paranoically panicking for having left work early to go to the dentist and I have discovered the lovely vice of texting.

I use texts like most people, to communicate the aforementioend useful information and to say a lot of useless things too. Such is the nature of the medium. And of course, the more communication there is the more potential for miscommunication–things go wrong via text that never would’ve happened in the first place via say, email or phone.

But on the whole, my little yellow phone is a gain and I am happy to have it. But the best possible perk (besides angry birds) is that texts are a new vehicle for hilarity. Witness below, possibly the best conversation ever had via text. It’s my brother and I making plans to attend an outdoor concert together. Be patient–it’s a slow build, but there’s some of our finest ebanter later on…

 

RR: What is your plan for Saturday??

BR: Hmmm. How do we get there? Do you know?

RR: No. The park is really big so even once we get there it will still not be obvious where the shoe is.

RR: Show.

BR: If we meet at Downsview Station by the 101 bus for 3, I think we will be OK… Sound goof?

BR: *good

RR: Ok. Check the rules on the website. Are serious. Bring empty water bottle and beach towel. No pot or tiny knife. No food.

BR: I don’t own any of those things. Can I bring a blanket?

RR: WHat do you mean you don’t have a water bottle or a towel???

BR: Hard time, friendo. Hard times, I mean.

RR: Buy a bottle of water. Drink it. Now you have an empty water bottle. I know you own towels because when I see you you aren’t wet.

BR: I air dry. I don’t believe in bottles. They pillage mother earth. I live in a barrel made from platitudes.

RR: Well then you will be thirsty and sitting on the groun at the show. No barrels.

BR: Life is a box of chocolates.

RR: No outside food, even chocolate. And you can’t sit on my towel.

RR: Also no stuffed animals???? Why??

BR: You could hid filled water bottles inside.

RR: Ah. No sharpies but that’s obvious–you could write on someon’s face while they’re sleeping.

BR: I will write on your face with a crayon.

BR: Wow, no blankets allowed. Can you bring an extra beach towel?

RR: I KNOW YOU OWN TOWELS!!!!

BR: Not beachy ones. :(

RR: Ok me neither. Towels art towels.

RR: Are

BR: Art

October 10th, 2011

Tour and Thanksgiving

So the WOSS tour ended on Friday night with a lovely reading at Cafe Bettina in Montreal, hosted by Kathleen Winter and attended by many lovely folks, including a few that maybe weren’t aware that a reading was going to take place until it actually did.

I got the train home at sunrise yesterday (a rather rosy dawn over the “Farine Five Roses” sign) to celebrate several days of Thanksgiving with lots and lots of people, and lots of food. I have to get back to that in a moment, but since I am thankful for the opportunity to go on this tour, this post fits today, so below is a picture by our loyal fan/tour photographer Ray Boudreau, of the team at the Hamilton reading:

And here is a link to a little video that was shown on Windsor Today, taken on the first night of the tour. It really amazes me that the power of video-editing has made us all look so sane and calm. Thanks, Jeff!!

It was a wonderful experience, the WOSS tour. But now for some family, some kitten playing, and (yet more) pie.

March 7th, 2011

We Can’t Help You If We Can’t Find You

I can’t believe I forgot to mention that my brother did the album art for the new Zacht Automaat album, We Can’t Help You If We Can’t Find You. Go have a look–and if you’re a fan of instrumental jazz minimalist pop prog psych rock, a listen.

December 27th, 2010

Reverb 27

Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown) (www.reverb10.com)

I seriously don’t know if I have an ordinary. I have a pretty low threshold for stress, and change, and excitement. One of the nicer things anyone has said about me is that he thought I was a really “calm person.” I was so shocked by this I went home and repeated it to my roommate, who said, “You’re not not calm, you just…get a lot out of things.”

That’s a generous interpretation, but fair enough–I can’t think of the last time I had an “ordinary” day because there’s always some special meeting, or hard assignment, or a new food to eat, or I get an unexpected phone call, any of which can throw me into a whirlwind of joy or despair. I exaggerate, but only a little.

So, trying to round down to ordinary…how about yesterday? It was cold out, but my brother and I were stir-crazy from all the indoor holiday time, so we went out the rail-trail the community had built when they finally got rid of the trains that run out that way.

I’ve been in and out of that town all my life, but this was a place I’d never been before–when I was a kid, because it was dangerous (trains!) and when they finally built the trail, I was living away and didn’t really know what was going on. I would never have thought to go see; it was my folks that urged us.

It turned out to be gorgeous–so quiet, with a weird-angled view of farmers’ fields and people’s yards. The snow was very loud and crunchy underfoot, or maybe it just seemed louder because it was the only sound. We only ran into two people (plus their dogs), and that was at the very beginning of the walk. It was so great to be outside, and I was so bundled up (two sweaters!!) that I didn’t even feel cold. It was nice not to be rushing, not to have anywhere to be, and walk as long as we felt like. It was nice to have unlimited time with my brother, which is rare.

It was basically a long walk on a cold day, very ordinary, or maybe not.

November 21st, 2010

“You’re an asshole, Mittens.”

I think that is one of the most hilarious sentences ever spoken. It was so spoken by my father, when I was about 8 or 9. He had just rescued our cat, Mittens, from my clutches, removed the bonnet I had put on her, and sternly instructed me not to dress the cat in doll clothes any more. I remained blithe in my assurance that Mittens liked to wear clothes, and when I left the room, she hesitated only a moment before following me. “You’re an asshole, Mittens,” is what my father called after her–under his breath, obviously, due to young and tender ears. He just recounted the uncensored version for me yesterday–ha!

Note: I no longer put hats on cats, but sometimes I really want to.

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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