mea kitty kulpa


I feel pretty horrible, both emotionally and physically. The physical part is some sort of stomach virus that has felled me for the last couple of days, a faint nausea and a general sense that my extremities are falling off. I am eating, but I can’t tell where it’s going.

Emotionally, it’s just been sort of a bad week. I did three things over the last seven days that have come back to haunt me. Each of those things has a common denominator: I did them all in a gruff haste, as if sheer insouciance would somehow shield me from bad decision-making.

First off, I barged into a well-known magazine, presented them with all my clips, and pitched an idea: let me be your new [fill in the blank] editor. Sounds plucky and full of chutzpah, right? In reality, everything was wrong about it (wrong time to show up, another dude was there, it was cramped and uncomfortable) and I may have done way more disservice to my relationship with this place than if I’d just played it cool.

Secondly, I casually erased a comment on this blog, and in doing so, upset a friend of mine. I didn’t really stop to think about it from all the angles, just sort of did it, and he was really upset.

Third, I bought mouse poison. I absolutely never do this sort of thing, but our contractor said it was the only way to get rid of mice for good, and I knew the droppings in the kitchen drawers makes Tessa insane. So I stormed into Home Depot, bought the poison, lurched down into the basement and chucked it into every corner, with a sort of hollow I-could-give-a-fuck fury.

Two days ago I talked about finding a dead kitty in our barn, and last night, I suddenly realized why: I poisoned the mice, and the cat ate the mice. There was a partially-eaten mouse by the cat, and the kitty had obviously suffered a massive digestive failure (I won’t tell you how I know, but believe me).

I feel terrible. Cats are my favorite animal, and I have strived to keep them alive for decades at a time. I rescued Cap’n (pictured below) from a dumpster even though he had a heart murmur. I created an old-folks-home for Zooey when Michelle had run out of options. Sean and I raised Elgar throughout our adolescence, in two different states.


Now I’m left with a gnawing sadness. All three of these decisions were made hastily, without nuance. An old filmmaker once told Tessa “the definition of tyranny is the denial of complexity,” and that is how I have been living the last week.

I think my stomach flu is somatic empathy, a shared piece of what I did to that kitty. If that’s the case, then I deserve it, and I’d like to say ‘I’m sorry’ to the little bugger.

0 thoughts on “mea kitty kulpa

  1. tod

    I feel badly that I caused you any emotional distress. Had I thought a little more about the kind of person you are, I wouldn’t have reacted as I did.

  2. Alan

    Mice hints for the guilt ridden. Our former farmhouse was a mice factory when we got it. 1. Have cats. 2. Have you tried the screaming ultrasonic boxes that they have now? Forget the home use model look for an industrial warehouse one rated for 20 times the scale of your building. If you turn it on when you leave the property may be devoid of rodentia when you get back. Usually thay have lower volume for when you are around. [You may not be able to hear the noise but you can kind of feel it.] Doesn’t bother cats at all. 3. Also, the king of poisons is not a poison – cake mix and plaster of paris 50-50. Mice love it then it turns to rock in the gut. If the cats catch the mice they spit out the rockified gut when encountered. 4. Got a live one caught? Drop in a bucket, shake in baking soda, pour on vinegar. Dump on compost pile.

  3. Sean

    Dude, you have written some insane shit on this blog, and I know you don’t just write unedited. I don’t say anything because I know the written version of who you are denies the thousand variables that actually exist in you. The “comments” are *bound* to be even more insane.
    We’re developing a culture where we can continue the casual relationship with language we have and marrying it to the absence of facial cues needed for that communication to work. Email and Blogs are going to get harder to wade through before they get easier, and the comments page is going to be a quagmire regardless.
    I’ve written stuff that I didn’t mean eleven seconds after posting, but that’s because I don’t have the mental capacity to edit. But, man, you should feel free to delete anything and everything on the comments page. These are thirty second thoughts, and small thoughts don’t need to be published. Just because someone says something doesn’t make it holy.

  4. tod

    I have no small thoughts, but at the same time, I’m “sane” enough not to think that anything I say is “holy.” Not everyone writes their comments without forethought. Some people actually spend a little more than thirty seconds thinking about them, while others just type any crap with no thought at all. And then some people aren’t ever capable of any real thought, no matter how much time they spend pondering. Just because you may be able to read a comment in thirty seconds or less, don’t assume that the same minute amount of thought was put into it.
    I hope I haven’t offended anyone here.

  5. Sean

    Dude, relax, everyone has small thoughts. If you want your thoughts, large and small, to be published then put them on your blog, which has absolutely gorgeous writing on it by the way. A blog is like a party being hosted in the blogger’s head, if one of the voices starts wrecking the party, he or she can turn it off for a second.
    That’s just my opinion, which is why I spent eleven seconds to put it in the comments section. This wouldn’t be my forum of choice for ideas that take longer than that to formulate.

  6. Lyle

    Oh, Ian, I feel for you and your guilt re/ the poor kitty. Maybe you can do a sort of karmic quid pro quo by consciously choosing to do (yet again, because you have a great track record, e.g. Cap’n et al) something wonderful for animals in honor of that anonymous kitty — like make a donation to your local shelter, adopt a cat or two (as Alan the Insanely Knowledgeable Mice Eliminator suggests), volunteer at the shelter, take Chopin to an old folks home to cheer up the oldsters, etc. Sounds corny but maybe it will help you feel some peace and heal your empathic ills. You made an honest mistake and you’re only human. Good luck with the next seven days, may they go better than the last seven.

  7. Alan

    …I swear they were in the living room drinking my wine and dancing the can-can when we came back to the farmhouse one weekend. Makes you learn things. Makes you get cats. But remember to read Wind in the Willows once in a while to recenter your feelings about little mammals.

  8. al

    someone once wrote:
    “It’s all a high-wire act with no net, and the crowd murmurs humiliation and you just have to keep walking, looking up, and realizing that there is no such things as falling.”

  9. scott

    at the shelter where i work, i once angrily threw a guy out for breaking a couple rules. while barred, he died outdoors.
    everybody take it easy. this drama, ain’t.

  10. Michelle

    I mean, obviously you can say that this “drama, ain’t” but in a way it is. I would rather Ian (or myself) care deeply that he accidentally killed a wee kitten than the opposite. And compared to our friends and friends of friends and strangers suffering in Iraq, or any of a billion larger issues here, it is a thing one can wrap one’s head around, something for which one can take responsibility. Obviously there are larger issues in the world. That does not mean that mourning a dead cat is an invalid feeling.

  11. CL

    You probably have saved many lives at the shelter. Most people would not have the guts to work in a homeless shelter for even one day. And Ian and co. have likely saved many animals.

  12. scott

    just for the record, i meant to imply ian was being kinda hard on himself, not that he was being trite. bigger mistakes have been made.
    that, and this being his blog he gets to do what he wants, including delete comments and such.
    happy t-day all.


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