Monday, January 25, 2010

Kitty Update and Other Stuff

So, I had kind of made this New Year's resolution to blog more frequently ... and you see how that's turned out.

See... part of me likes to make this an official-looking newslettery kind of blog.

And the other part of me wants to be able to blog for blog's sake.

So consider this a blog-for-blog's-sake kind of entry. Perhaps I'll create a BFBS tag... we'll see.

Now. About Chloe.

This month has been rough.

I was despondent for nearly two weeks after she was diagnosed at the end of December; indeed during the first week of January, fluid in her chest caused severe labored breathing and I every day I thought I'd come home to an expired kitty... :-(

On Friday, January 8th, I spoke to our vet, the amazing Dr. Giangola, a legend of New York animal rescue.

Although he did not advise another surgery, he suggested that it might be possible to "make her more comfortable" if indeed she did not have long.

I was afraid she might not be able to tolerate the trip to the Upper East Side (his office is on First Ave & 87th Street, and I live in Brooklyn), but he said that if I felt she could make it, I could take her in before 1pm Saturday without an appointment.

Some friends came to visit on Friday evening and gave her so much love and attention that she became more alert and active than she'd been in days.

So the next morning, I took her in.

Dr. G aspirated the fluid and gave her a diuretic.

She was so much better that she crawled out of the carrier on the cab ride home and enjoyed a thrilling ride down the FDR.

Chloe's Cab Ride -- Charging down the FDR Drive!

She stopped eating a few days later, but Phil and Joseph of the excellent holistic pet food store Whiskers recommended several liquid nutritional supplements (Mother's Milk, Seacure and a few others) which are keeping her strength up.

She's pretty thin now, but not weak and is still able to jump onto her favorite chairs and purr.

Chloe is also LOVING the attention of guests (Simon and Julietta are enjoying it too). So if you want to visit, please let me know. Weekends are best....

Now. Onto other stuff.

Well, there hasn't been a whole lot of other stuff ...

It's not that the extra care for Chloe takes so much time per se, but the thought she would die so quickly, and watching the way she suffered during that first week took an awful toll on me, emotionally and psychologically.

So I haven't had much energy to perform or even get out much.

But I did audition for and was accepted to two new bellydance troupes: Crystal's Unveiled Follies and Bellyqueen's Rising Sirens.

I haven't had much experience with troupes beyond PURE, so this will be a good next step for me.

And speaking of troupes....

So I did not get accepted into the Bellydance Evolution show which, at first, was a great disappointment.

But given the developments and traumas of the past month, it is definitely a blessing in disguise; I don't think I would have had the emotional strength to get up to speed on the eight (yes eight!) choreographies those ladies have to learn in only a few days.

And I know enough of my own limitations to think Jillina chose her dancers well.

Check them out on Saturday night!

And if you can't make it on Saturday, the out-of-town winners (and a few of us local contestants) will be jamming at Bellyqueen's Djam Under Je'Bon, which I will emcee! Yippee!

Not a bad way to end a very rough month.....

This post and others like it is from ... please visit that link to make comments. Thank you!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Blue New Year: Coping with Kitty Cancer

If, on the night of a cerulean moon, we close our eyes and sit very still, take in great draughts of air, sigh deeply and open our hearts, we will be able to hear Lady Luna sing the blues. Broken-hearted, She watches down on our out-of-whack world, and She weeps.

And Her pain is our pain.

I read those words in Mama Donna's Huffington Post blog only hours after that bluest of Blue Moons -- the New Year's Eve blue moon, which occurs only once every 19 years -- and shed a whole lot of tears.

Very shortly before, I learned that my dear cat Chloe may be fatally ill.

The breast cancer (yes, cats can get breast cancer!) which we had treated with radical surgery the year before...

Chloe PostOp 3

...had returned and would likely be fatal.

OK. Yeah. She's just a cat.

But I can't help bristling at the cavalier words of those who think indifferently of animal lives, who see furry companions as little more than animated furniture -- delightful, but ultimately expendable, replaceable.

"C'est la vie," said a well-meaning friend with a shuddering hug.

And that's true -- I believe strongly in quality of life, and have respect for a dignified, comfortable death.

But I am still very sad.

I love all of my three cats, and would be devastated to lose any of them.

But Chloe, who is the eldest and the first I adopted, shares a connection with me that has transformed both of us.

Perhaps I sensed this in the beginning when I had offered to foster a pregnant cat for my friend Kathryn, who runs what is now the Anjellicle Cats Rescue at Spoiled Brats.

She told me she had already found a foster for prego-puss, but that there was another cat that she "wanted to get out of the cage."

I realized what that meant when I found myself drawn to a small spooky black cat in the center cage. As I put my hand to the mesh, a razor-sharp claw raked through a fingertip.

"Wow!" said Kathryn, shuttling the frantic fuzzball into a carrier, "I see you've already met!"

The poor creature had been found a few weeks before around Fordham University and was wild to the point of being unadoptable.

But Kathryn had faith in me .... more than I had in myself.

I created a short video describing the events that followed... how, basically, love and steadfast kindness reached Chloe's terrified, traumatized kitty heart, here:

But what I did not describe is how this occurred.

As I say in the video, she was indeed "two little eyes in the back of the closet that occasionally came out to eat, poop and scratch me."

Usually, socialized domestic cats scratch only as a warning, claws not fully extended; but when Chloe scratched -- she meant it.

And she would be unpredictable: Even as she was warming up to human contact, if you touched her the wrong way, came too close or stayed too long, she would let you have it in full feline fury.

She began to like sleeping near my pillow; I wore a face mask because I was afraid she'd lash out an eye in the night. (She has never scratched me during the night, by the way.)

I'd come to work with lacerated, battle-torn hands and arms. I bought New Skin in bulk.

"A cat did that to you??" gaped an astonished co-worker after the spaying episode (described in the video). "And you still have this cat???"

Yes. Though I came close to giving up.

But something about her inspired me to believe she was reachable, and once reached, she would be remarkable.

And that is how she transformed me.


You can't punish a cat in the knee-jerk ways people punish, say, children.

You can't yell, hit back or be aggressive in any way.

This just terrifies the animal more, and makes it more likely they will injure you when you least expect it.

But somehow I had to let her know that she couldn't do this anymore ... that, most importantly, she didn't have to.

So I did this:

At the moment she'd swat me, I'd grab her -- firmly but gently, taking the razor blows as she dealt them -- until I could sit and hold her between my knees, facing me and tilted back in the "surrender position."

I'd hold her paws folded into her chest and firmly, but calmly, tell her to look at me, directing her head forward with my thumbs.

And I'd say things like: "That hurts mommy when you do that. Your mommy loves you and will never hurt you or let anyone hurt you."

Then I'd feel her body relax just a little, and I'd let her go, pet her and give her some treats.

All was forgiven. Until the next time.

And within a month or two, there were no more "next times."

She stopped scratching altogether.

She became warm, affectionate, trusting and trustworthy. I brought her two siblings (Simon the big-eyed tabby and Julietta the grey-and-white flirt), whom she guards, grooms and sometimes bullies playfully.

She nuzzles my face, purring and affectionate, and sleeps on my head nearly every night -- no face mask necessary.

She is warm and loving to family and guests, but loyally cuddles with her mom, no matter what cushy pal is in the fold-out bed.

She is a unique creature, and my dear, beloved, beautiful friend.

And now I may be losing her.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

November-December 2009 Events Archive

Sunday, November 1st, 7-8:15pm
Teaching Beginning Bellydance at Shambhala Yoga & Dance Center
348 Saint Marks Ave
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 622-9956

Tuesday, November 3rd, 7-9pm
Dancing in Artistic New Directions' Smart & Sassy Benefit
The Triad Theater
158 West 72nd Street, NYC
Tickets $40-$80 (includes 2 drinks)

Friday, November 13th, 10pm-2am
Dancing at Lafayette Grill & Bar
(My set will be around 12:30am)
54 Franklin Street (3 block south of Canal), NYC

Tuesday, November 24th, 7:15-8:30pm
Teaching Beginning Bellydance at
Move With Grace Dance Studio
469 Myrtle Avenue( btwn Washington & Hall )
Brooklyn NY 11205
718 230 0013 / 917 627 2307
$15 drop-in

Sunday, November 29th, 7pm-8:30pm
Bellyqueen's Works-In-Progress Edition 1.0 Showcase
Je'Bon Restaurant
15 St. Mark's Place, NYC
(N/R/W to 8th St, 6 to Astor Pl.)
$15 Admission

Sunday, December 6th, 3pm-5pm
Acting in Paula J. Riley's
Scratch-to-Script Showcase
The Barrow Group
312 West 36th Street (btw 8th & 9th Aves), 6th Floor
Free Admission
Please call for Reservations: 212-689-4362

Sunday, December 6th, 7pm-10pm
Dancing in Ranya's Holiday Gala
Lafayette Grill & Bar.
54 Franklin Street (3 block south of Canal), NYC
212-732-5600 call for table reservations!
$15 advance (buy from me or Ranya)/ $20 at the door
(Buy advance tickets here:
$20 table minimum

Thursday, December 10th @ 6pm
Performing Stand-Up Comedy at the Broadway Comedy Club
In the Downstairs Room
318 West 53rd Street (btw 8th & 9th Aves), NYC
Reservations: 212-714-4513
(Note: this reservation line is for this show only.)
$12 cover/2-drink minimum

Thursday, December 10th, 7:30pm-11:30pm
Dancing in
Dalia Carella's Holiday Bellydance Party
Je'Bon Restaurant
15 St. Mark's Place, NYC
(N/R/W to 8th St, 6 to Astor Pl.)
$15 Admission