Dear Uptight Seattleite, The lady next door has about 18 cats. Actually, about 17, since I backed over one the other day. Thing is, I don't think she's noticed. Do I have to tell her?Kitty Killer
Dear Killer, I'm not going to pretend I'm a cat person, though of course cats are every bit as valid as dogs. Even if this is an animal known to sink its little stapler teeth into your wrist while it purrs with pleasure. Some of us need love that's a little less complicated. Indeed, the question must be asked, does a cat really die if no one hears its little kitty shriek of death? I'm not saying that the answer isn't yes, just that the question must be asked. Another question: Where did you hide Mr. Tottingham? Dead cats are not appropriate for composting, unless you use the compost only for ornamentals. In which case you'll have particularly vivid marigolds next spring. The vividness of a recycled cat. If you present a freshly cut vase of these marigolds to your neighbor every week for two months, you can consider your debt paid. There's no need to offer any explanation. After all, unlike a cat, flowers don't stare at you with sleepy alien eyes, wishing very much that you were small enough to eat. Dear Uptight Seattleite, It's such a cliché to be depressed this time of year, but the darkness is really getting to me. And it's just going to get worse after the holidays. I've tried every antidote you can name: DVDs, weed, sun lamps, jumping jacks, baking cookies, journaling, meditation, crime novels, comic books, and bowling. But I'm still...SAD
Dear SAD, You left something off your list: reconceptualization. You persist in expecting every day to include a period called "daytime," leading to perpetual frustration when this period fails to arrive in any meaningful way. You regard the sun as your friend, as the thing you miss, when it's the sun that has abandoned you and betrayed you. Flip the kayak of your expectations and paddle upside down in the darkness. For the darkness is your native element now. Accept your residency on Planet Night. As the winter months drift formlessly along, give yourself to the eerie magic of yellow sodium street lights reflected on wet pavement. If mornings never quite arrive, and afternoons disappear into a black-hole sky, learn to enjoy this as high gothic drama. If the so-called "sun" thing does deign to show itself occasionally, it's OK to enjoy its company. But don't become dependent on its warmth, or on the dazzling stream of information it delivers to your eyes with its "light." The Buddha teaches that attachment causes suffering, so say goodbye to the sun as easily as Bette Davis slipping away from an afternoon romp with one of her ex-husbands. And remember, it's important to start cultivating your Night Mind now, so you'll be ready for the big postholiday letdown. For a more immediate shot of cheer, consider the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear capability. I know that whole story has been flushed into the distance by subsequent news cycles, but remember when we all thought another war was inevitable? Cheney had an iron grip on the whole thing and was going to unleash another wave of blood on the world? And after all that dread, we didn't bother to celebrate when war didn't happen. I say we all take a moment right now to drink a hearty toast to peace. Speaking of thwarted Republican evil, how about that cast of ghouls they've got running for president? I get cheered up every time I see those guys on TV (which isn't often, since I don't watch TV). Giuliani with his eyeballs bugging out, Romney sucking up to the religious bigots who hate him anyway, McCain fading away before our eyes—does anyone really believe any of these clowns have a prayer? Don't tell me you're worried about Huckabee. His "charm" is an inch deep, and he has no more hope than Ellen "God is my campaign chairman" Craswell did against Gary Locke back in '96. I'm marshaling my own reasons to be happy, SAD, since my best friend, Kunio, passed away suddenly last week. It does make Planet Night a little bit darker. Anger is part of the grief process, which may explain my heartless reply to the first letter. All you cat lovers out there, I understand that it's unfair of me to resent your pets for being alive while mine has proceeded to his next incarnation. OK? No hard feelings? Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.