Thursday, May 13, 2010
The Revolution and Kitties
We have tried, in our few years in Trenton, to capture the stray cats and find them homes, or at least get them sterilized, if we can't place them anywhere. When I think about the amount of work and money we've invested in cats — cats! — it makes me nuts, and I'm pretty sure in the big picture sense, nothing has changed. It's depressing really, except for the few cats we've helped.
Compounding that depression is that we had two pregnant cats in the yard in the last month or so, and, judging by their new, smaller size, they must have given birth recently. I have mixed feelings about this: we have enough stray cats in our neighborhood, but birth is an exciting event for us mammals, that I can't help but get a bit giddy to catch my first glimpse of the little ones. The two mommy cats are sisters from a litter last summer, and between them, had at least four kittens, in early May. I found my first ever dead kitten on Monday, and by Tuesday was pretty sure that at least one more was doomed, and sure enough, later that day, the second one died. The mother cats carried around these poor little kitty-souls for awhile, and then stopped. When that happened, I buried them, because it's the respectful thing to do for little beings who, just a short time ago, had so much potential.
The two kittens left — a fluffy black one, and a fluffy light orange one — seem to have a lot of gorp in their eyes; more than I've ever seen. Tuesday, the day the second kitty died, I noticed the black kitten's eyes were open, and looking better, if a bit crusty. However, the orange one's entire face was covered with some sort of ooze, but it seemed coordinated and alert. Today, that little creamy orange one was sitting alone in the middle of the yard, but I didn't notice until Steve was dancing around it, and Matty was running behind him, yelling, "BAYBEE!!! BAYBEE!!" I was impressed Matthew not only knew the word "baby," but knew that the creature he was seeing was indeed a baby, but it was stressful all the same, as dog and boy got closer to the blind kitten. Steve spends so much of his time chasing my indoor cats; it never, ever gets old to him. The outside, stray cats seem to look at my dog with curiosity; only some of them run from him. But this helpless little creature just wobbled, and meowed ineffectively; I was able to scoop up child and dog, and put them in the house.
Before meeting the kitten alone in the yard, I had no other plan than to sit outside with my boy and dog. But once the troublemakers were inside, without thinking, I grabbed the kitten, since we have some feline eye ointment on hand.
I quickly cleaned its face — I have never seen so much nastiness in my life — and put the medicine in its eyes, hoping, of course, there were eyes in there. It's tough to say: its eyes looked like small stuffed shells, with ricotta spilling out, and I will never get that image out of my head. But I did what I could, and was pleased to see the mother cat milling about. I placed her baby near her and she quickly grabbed it, and ran off.
We have enough cats around here; I shouldn't have even bothered, I guess. There are people who think I'm stupid for even caring; I get it. But it's just hard to see them suffer: they are domesticated creatures, after all. We made them, and we are failing them. I think I'm a pretty practical person; I can detach emotionally and take care of the shit that needs to get done, like cleaning up kitty ricotta-eye, but it sucks. I hope the little messy eyed critter rallies. I really do, because burying kittens sucks worse than cleaning up gooey eyes.
I've been in a bit of a funk for the last few days. It was Mother's Day that put me there. It was the third one — such a significant chunk of time — without our daughter, Catherine; the second without my mom. I appreciate what I do have, so very much, but what's missing is magnified in the face of the Hallmark commercials and Facebook well-wishes this time of year. And watching two young cat mothers struggle with the randomness of life and death doesn't really help my mood, either. To have to process the results of our municipal election in my current state is almost unfair. I am full of despair, and, surprisingly, so much of it is for Trenton.
Can you call the need for a run-off election for seven of eight open seats "results"? I'm not so sure, and that's just part of my down mood: there are no results, but so much of what's coming is unfuckingsavory, to say the least. So, I decided to bake cookies tonight. While I was mixing the dough, Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" came on, and it slapped me in the face.
I worry that it is improper for a white chick — the crazy cat lady, at that — to discuss race — or at least socioeconomic issues in an urban environment — but my ears are ringing with the irrelevancy of the Beverly Hillbillies and the knowledge that Black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day, yet, my crazy neighbor, Julian, has his head in the trunk of his car, adjusting his antisocial and murder-inspiring speakers, while my windows and nicknacks are rattling, thanks to his woofers or tweeters or whatevers; and the 19-year-old, soft-in-the-head jerkwad across the street screams at his babymom while several of our local drug-dealers watch from the other side of the street. Numbers are going through my head, even though I am not very number-oriented. 10,000. That's roughly the number of people who voted in this election. 30,000. Roughly the amount of registered voters in the city of Trenton. 80,000. Probably a very liberal estimate of how many people live here. 70,000. The amount of people with way-too-loud car stereos, or drug dealers, or asshole babydads, or all of the above who did not vote.*
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.
Ugh, I feel so sick to my stomach. None of the at-large candidates I wanted made it in, and I have no idea how that happened. I hate that I'm so disconnected from the rest of the city and don't understand its heart or its mind, and my little Bose dock just cannot compete with speakers that take up an entire trunk. Maybe there were just too many people running for office and there were bound to be more losers than winners. I don't know, but it still feels icky to me.
I feel an immense amount of pressure behind my eyes because I've been trying to imagine the very real possibility of life under Mayor Mack. The guy who hasn't paid his taxes; who was fired from his last job job for fiscal incompetency; who bounced checks to his campaign workers. This is the guy who might be in charge of our books. I know a lot of what I'm feeling now might be sour grapes. And legitimate fear for the future, when just last week, there was so much hope. We had been waiting for this election for the last few years, and now, I am deflated. I can — and will — try my best to keep an open mind about our new administration, because I have to believe that everyone who ran, and everyone who voted, cares about the city. And, maybe — maybe – the new crew will surprise us, and get fixing this place.
Still, I would feel better right now if some of the people I voted for had been elected, but the reality that tens of thousands of adults in this city aren't even registered to vote, and 20,000 registered voters did not even bother to participate in this election, is daunting. Any hope in me is choking on the sounds of the sirens in the background, the squealing tires, loud music, the late night ice cream truck, and the idiots screaming in the street. We've been in this house for almost 6 years now, and despite making some great friends and meeting nice people all over the city, I often feel that we don't have enough decent people around us. I didn't have any hard proof of their suckitude; it was just a hunch. But watching the election returns come in on the county's site gave me the proof that many of the people around me, do indeed suck. I didn't know it was possible, but I have even less respect for them now, after Tuesday. I'm sure they must have heard stories from their parents and grandparents about having to sit on the back of the bus; the indignity of separate water fountains, and white-only restaurants. When I think about what various groups of humans endured for the right to vote, it is confounding to me that tens of thousands of our neighbors would chose to do something else on election day. Like scream in the street, or play their music at eardrum exploding decibels, or do or deal drugs.
Perhaps that's Doug Palmer's legacy: Trenton's first African-American mayor inspires tens of thousands to squander their precious lives. Perhaps the Revolution skipped right over Trenton?
I wonder why we even bother to care some times, especially since the remaining 10,000 of us can't even wholeheartedly agree on who should be in charge of this place**. We probably won't have a dream team come swearing-in day, but a new era awaits nonetheless, and it is exciting, even though we have some work cut out for us, in the way of compromising with one another, and carrying the load of 70,000 uninvolved individuals.
* I know some of that 70,000 group cannot vote because of their age. I hope they do not grow up to be assholes with drugs or loud car stereos or babydaddies.
** I'm glad that most of us agreed that Emmanuel Avraham Shahid bin Watson was unworthy. Hopefully this is the last we hear of him. I'm locking up the back gate of the vacant house next to me, just to Shahid-proof it!