Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Another Masterpiece
Deemed Unfit To Print

...by everyone but me, that is.
I think this is a good essay, even if it's shuffled from one slush pile to another.
People accuse me of having delusions of grandeur, but that isn't so.

They're predictions.

Preening from my perch,


To Serve Man: A Very Fancy Feast

Cats: Nature’s serial killers. They’re our beloved fur-trimmed Ginsu collections, and we proudly bear the tell-tale scars, pilled slacks and sweaters, and of course, our very own protective layer of shed fur, apparently meant to ward off dogs and boyfriends. Cat fanciers the world round know that at the end of the day, there’s nothing more satisfying than coming home to a fuzzy, wide-eyed feline, who immediately showers its human with unconditional hunger.

Perhaps I’ve watched too many documentaries on Animal Planet, because the more I learn about cats, the more I find the symbiosis between them and us to be a tad suspect. After paying careful attention to my fifteen-year-old gray tabby, Nikki, examining our relationship with all its degrees of give and take, I’ve decided that I need her more than she needs me, and I’m beginning to wonder about her agenda.

I know I’m not the only one who feels unnerved upon glancing up from a newspaper to find Kitty staring at me.. There she sits—sphinx-like, in a trance so resolute, that if it weren’t for the twitching tail she could easily pass for one of my marble-eyed Garfield slippers. The experts say that direct eye contact is an aggressive posture. Then why is my lovable, cuddly tabby staring at me? Is she trying to pick a fight? Maybe she’s confused and thinks I’m prey…is that it? If I’m to believe the learned authorities on feline behavior, then my muffin-headed snuggle monster isn’t confused at all. I am prey.

Fastidious note taker that she is, she’s updating my dossier. Checking for a limp or cough, sniffing out attrition, waiting for her chance to usurp control of our household. I’ve caught her on more than one occasion, stalking me. Silent, wraith-like, she slinks just mere paces behind me, before I turn to discover her in mid-step, head lowered and eyes fixed. She brings all fours together and licks her lips, never diverting her gaze. Her expression is smug. “What? I wasn’t doing anything,” she seems to say. I pivot, giving my back to her and take a few more steps before turning again to catch her following, her eyes glowering with predation.

Isn’t that cute? She’s jumped up on my lap, kneading me with that push-pull manipulation kitties are famous for. I grit my teeth to better tolerate the thorny prickling of Nikki’s love gouges. “She thinks I’m her mommy,” I coo-- before it occurs to me that she might just be checking to see if I’ve lost weight. Maybe she wants to know if she can take me all by herself, or if Plan Tag Team is warranted. The next time you see Kitty eyeballing you with her cold, yellow stare, consider that she may in fact be field dressing you with her eyes. You must be vigilant for the six or eight minutes she’s awake out of each hour, or else.

Perhaps I wax paranoid, but what if they are smarter than we are, or at least smarter than we think they are? What if Orwell’s Animal Farm isn’t just allegory, but an eventuality? Humans like having the upper hand, and as long as we can foster dependency from other creatures we’ll maintain that notion. All sorts of domesticated animals, from cattle and horses to birds and trophy wives, have had their natural instincts toward self-sufficiency bred out of them, and now depend on people for sustenance and designer down bedding. Cats, on the other hand, don’t depend on us as much as they demand things from us.

Ever see cat people picking out food for their charges? Notice the furrowed brows and faces cloaked in panic. Listen to their self-talk: No, she won’t eat that anymore. I remember the look she gave me when I tried to feed her the Chicken and Tuna combo. Won’t try that again. They handle one flavor, then another, shaking their heads before placing it back on the shelf. Professional bomb diffusers don’t sweat this much. Here comes Dog’s Best Friend, wearing his “I’m with Fido” T-shirt, slapping Alpo cans indiscriminately into his basket. He’s even knocked a couple of Fancy Feast tins in by accident. No matter. Fido won’t turn his wet little nose up at anything. He’ll even chew on the can for an encore.

As for the cats that hunt their own food, they are one of the most streamlined and strategic predators on earth. They are cunning opportunists endowed with stoic patience and the inventiveness to master more efficient, less labor intensive methods of acquiring food. In other words, they’re lazy. When food supply allows, even breeds given to solitude will hunt in groups, utilizing a type of relay system to bring down big game, conserving energy and assuring success.
It seems that one lion in Kenya tackles prey only to bring a few of them back to her den for some good old fashioned feline mothering. Kamuniak, a lioness at the Samburu Game Park has on four separate occasions fostered young Oryx elk in a manner most tender and nurturing, after kidnapping them from their mothers. Park officials, astounded by this aberration of carnivore protocol, have rescued three of the four elk, returning them to their anxious mothers. Sadly, one calf perished at the jaws of a hungry male lion while out of Kamuniak’s sight.

Samburu Park officials and others interested in the lioness, marvel at this peculiar display of motherhood. I suspect this big cat’s designs are more sinister. I think she’s farming.
Cats copy observed behavior. Perhaps Kamuniak gleaned the notion after watching shepherds tending a herd of goats or cattle. Looking on from a secluded perch in a leafy eucalyptus, she may have followed the movements of a man wielding a staff, corralling a great number of beasts into a confined area. Maybe the epiphany occurred organically, maybe not, either way it’s possible that Kamuniak is leading her kind up another rung of the evolutionary ladder, etching claw marks close to the notched block letters declaring “Man was here” and “Scorpions Rule!” Or maybe, just maybe, cats have been farming us all along.

It’s only a matter of time before they are truly able to assert dominion over us. The day they become employable is the day the scales of power tip in their favor. It isn’t so far fetched to imagine their eventual infiltration into the workplace. They’ve got skills. They’re quick learners. They excel at delegating. They’re middle management’s worst nightmare.

I suspect that canneries and charnel houses would attract a large number of work- minded kitties, but the voracious seekers of knowledge they are, quite a few would likely find careers as professionals. Their desire to know what makes lesser creatures tick will land some psychiatric practices, and others will use their love of puzzle solving as engineers, but the majority, I think, will follow their true calling as food critics.

Clever, playful, comical. We’re all these things and more to our feline captors. Desperate for their approval, we overlook the once fringeless couch that’s leaking stuffing, and the litter grains on the linoleum. We carpet our floors in brown and orange hues that won’t clash with pulpy patches of regurgitated Friskies. The book or newspaper can wait until later if Kitty wants to lounge on our lap right now. We have been tamed, certain to never bite the paw that kneads us.

I still give in to Nikki when she wants attention. She seduces me every time, lying on her back, white bunny feet sticking up in the air, paws drawn so innocently up against her chest. Her plush gray and white belly exposed, she knows she’s irresistible. “C’mon, go ahead! I won’t scratch you this time” she promises, her eyes blinking slowly before resting at half mast. I place my hand on her stomach, and in a split second Nikki’s whole body is wrapped around my hand, tooth and talon betraying me once again. “Nikki, Mommy can’t play right now. I have to apply direct pressure for a few minutes.”

Whether cats are actually farming us or just squatting on loosely defended territory, I’ve decided to cooperate fully, as I’m continually letting my guard down anyway. I think they’ll be good to us, imparting values and customs they’ve practiced for countless generations, such as patience, the luxuriousness of physical contact, and the art of unspoken communication. I’m not looking forward to whatever they’ll decide to feed us, but the power naps will make it all worthwhile.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

It Occurs to Me...

...as I overhear cell phone conversations in public--you know--people yelling into their ever-smallening harmonica-like gadgets that digitally photograph and film, play digitally recorded music, email and organize, that technology has made the cell phone capable of everything except tranmitting verbal communication.

Telecommunications has been set back 150 years, when one had to shout into a cup-on-a-string to be heard and had to ask their caller repeatedly to repeat him or herself. Progress my ass; just listen to yourselves.

It also occurs to me, after purchasing snuggly new gloves, hat and scarf, that if God was truly the comforting, enveloping force the near-dead have claimed, then rather than being a shrill, bright light, he or she would be made out of fleece. Out of respect to other cultures, God may also be perceived as a force of cashmere, chenielle, or really, really good leather.

Satan, of course, is made of silk and Vodka.

All of this makes me wonder about our eventual wireless connection to the divine. I hope that we're evolving toward an acceptance that we don't need dogma or ritual or intercession or Comcast to download Divinity. The signal is everywhere.

You'll still need a router. But it won't matter which kind, as they tend not to be jealous or avenging.

From the Ponderosa,


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm posting from a cute, cozy, cottage at Seaside. I'm thankful to live an hour away from many of Oregon's beautiful beaches.

I'm thankful for my brother and his unflagging encouragment and good humor.
I'm thankful for my friends, for the same reason.
I'm thankful for my cat, George, and her snuggly ways.
I'm thankful for my job. I'm thankful no one else hired me; this is the best gig ever.
I'm thankful for each of the nurturing, supportive souls I work with. Every single day I'm fortified with hugs and "I love you!"
I'm thankful for my readers. I get tremendous validation from your comments and just your presence. Thank you for checking in. It means the world to me.

Have a truly wonderful Thanksgiving,


Monday, November 21, 2005

Incendiary Feminist Propoganda

Just because it's been awhile. The following essay is still in revision, but I hope you'll forgive its unpolished form and enjoy it anyway.

Dizzy on my soapbox,


Waiting for a Sign
By Cindy S. St. Onge

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as bad publicity. And thanks to the same PR firm responsible for pile-driving Tonya Harding’s career to the molten center of the earth, the fair sex has been unduly represented as passive, receptive, servile, feeble of both mind and might. And like heirloom poster beds and grandmother clocks, we are useful only as homebound fixtures.

Attempts to emboss female brand recognition among the masses have resulted in some pretty sorry campaigns over the ages, the worst being the Venus symbol.

Originating in ancient Egypt as the androgynous Anhk, Venus has supposedly represented everything from a hand mirror-- symbolizing woman’s vanity, to the integration of spirit and matter, heaven and earth, a place in or out of time, where God and Human intersect.

I can’t remember when or where, but many years ago I learned that the Mars sigil—the canon-like drawing of an arrow pointing about 45 degrees heavenward, symbolizes an erect penis. As part of the unfair sex’s publicity campaign, Mars is the planet of war, and its symbol moonlights as iron’s symbol on the periodic table of elements. Saluting the cosmos in all of its two-dimensional glory, it is the icon of power, virility, action. This is manhood, ready for anything, throbbing its way to fulfillment.

I, for one, am not fooled by the symbolic boner, which would have the world believing men are innate go-getters and self-starters. Oh no. They are quite happy among the mold and lichen, among the fungi and vermin, among weeks of dirty dishes and decomposing laundry. They are recreating a warmer, plumbed and wired wilderness, as they feel more comfortable surrounded by dirt and growing things. So why doesn’t man have a symbol which reflects his true nature? Something porcine or cloven-footed? Something that burrows or wallows, or at least itches?

The Venus sigil—flag of female, is comprised of a circle atop a cross. Venus shows up on the periodic chart representing the soft, malleable metal, copper. I had always believed that woman’s symbol depicted a circle of regeneration connected to a cross—which to me, growing up Christian, symbolized godly sacrifice. I gloated in what I believed to be an exalted representation of my sex, and its close association with the divine. Then I discovered who was really getting nailed.

Venus turns out to be a rotated, phallic Mars penetrating a small horizontal line. It doesn’t depict woman’s alliance with God, after all. It is a headboard view of sexual congress, coital engagement, coupling, intercourse, doing it. I was horrified to learn that the female part of the sign—in total—is the receptive little crossbar. That’s it.

I mentally erased the downward thrusting arrow, leaving just the horizontal line. Here was the representation of my sex: a line, a dash, a blip, the penned equivalent of ‘um’— a mark made while waiting for a real thought worth recording. All notions of sacred circles and womby rondure—demolished. Besides feeling insulted, I couldn’t rally around an emblem reverent of egg or breast. No circle of regeneration, no honoring of feminine mystery. No praise, no shrine, no laud, no appreciation, just a rudimentary sketch, eyes and a mouth away from being a Southpark character.

Men are characterized by a statement—dynamic, complete, definitive. And women are relegated to mere ornamentation, doing little more than supporting or accommodating the statement. Hey fellas, do not stick YOUR phallus in MY symbolette and tell me that’s who I am.

And why are men are represented by a symbol that is singularly masculine, but women are depicted as an insignificant, receptive line, getting screwed by big, bad Mars, the predominant portion of what is supposed to be our symbol? All these years, I thought we had the whole glyph to ourselves, that every angle and plane corresponded to feminine attributes. Surprisingly, the boys haven’t sued our PR firm for trademark infringement.

It’s hard enough to shake away generations of societal dogma which insists I’m not complete without a man, that I’m not entitled to an identity apart from being someone’s daughter or wife. But can’t I even have my own little sign—a simple geometric representation of my unique feminine essence? I’m not asking for a monument or a Christo rendering of the Grand Canyon into a set of carmine vinyled labia for crying out loud. I just want my own sign. Peace has a sign. Mercedes Benz has a sign. No Smoking has a sign. Is it too much to ask for a glyph that has not been violated by male genitalia?

Lesbians can’t be too thrilled about the Mars/Venus intersect. Emblazoned across mugs and bumper stickers, tattoos and action figures, the double woman symbol lets the world know where a gal’s affections lie. Do they realize that two guys are tagging along? And they’re not there in a supportive, ‘you go girl’ kind of way, but in a creepy, how-many-quarters-does-this-thing-take kind of way. Even when we define ourselves by our relationships with other women—represented by what we thought was double-Venus solidarity (or triple Venus for hetero feminists), some guy is always there, clearing his throat, “Uh, don’t mind me; I’m just watching.”

The time has come for a redesign. Perhaps someone could come up with something that says, Vagina: The only genital that matters. I am partial to the tattva for earth, an inverted triangle. It’s evocative of the female pubic triangle. Or what about taking back the fish symbol hijacked by Christians? Those fishers-of-men might be reminded that the fish symbol, stuck to righteous bumpers and trunks, used to be a feminine symbol. Stand that fish up on it’s tail, and voila, Vesica Pisces-- instant vulva.

Whether reclaiming an ancient feminine sign, or creating a modern archetype for woman, our symbol should be emblematic of feminine mystery and strength, instead of characterizing women as fixtures or pets. We require a symbol which inspires awe and reverence, a sign that, when mere words fail, communicates just how very special it is to be a woman. I want a sign worthy of my noble gender.

A winner may never emerge from the bilious campaign between cable and dish. But if the archetype for woman says to the world we are screwed, I’d hate to know what our secret handshake is.

Friday, November 18, 2005

1,001 Shrimp Recipes

Yes, I know we haven't spoken in a week. No, nothing's bothering me. No, it wasn't something you said. No, I'm not PMSing. No, I don't hate you. Yes, I'm still reading your blogs, and no, I haven't quite rid myself of my obsession with death.




How can I fear you, Death, if
you're just a thing that hungers?

Some threat indeed, you
wretched force of poverty!

How can I fault you for being desirous
when I want things too?

Poor Death;I can only pity a creature
who scavenges for discarded scraps of light,

and dread becomes compassion for one
who must anguish for every single breath.

Surely, I could--for a moment-- choke
in the airless void so that you could fill your lungs.

I can never know your awful craving--
your hands of ash cupped to receive.

But for you, sweet Death, I'd pluck my heart
still beating in its crimson bloom
in exchange for all your riches.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day Special: Two Poems
for the Price of One!

The first poem, Xenophobe, is an exercise in pretension. It's a little something I dreamed up about a decade ago, and have fiddled with it just recently.

The second offering was written as an outpouring of grief after my mom died. Today is the 50th anniversary of my grandmother's passing. And only since the death of my own mother, have I understood the anguish that would grip Mom every year at this time.

Happy Armistice Day,



I do not mean
to frighten the crow.
And am I not
as black as he?
Cloaked in grounded, woolen night
not unlike his obsidian wing,
I stand very still—
not to breathe
nor to make any sound
that would stir him into flight.


A sea of Grief
from prolific tears,
I cannot lay you to rest—
It has become
too dark and deep
you’re now too far
beyond my reach.
Memory strains
to keep your face
in its desperate grasp
until that sea
covers my head
and I’m drowned with you
at last.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Speaking of Unorthodox Medicine...

The following essay chronicles my experience with self-medication a couple of years ago.

Wishing each and every one of you a Happy Cold and Flu season,


Cherry Flavored Monkey

It was a religious experience—a transcendent moment in which I was transported to that oft rumored astral plane. I have seen things few mortals have ever dared to glimpse and witnessed visions of both great beauty and depraved monstrosity. I’ve been privy to undiscovered truths and unspoken mysteries. Over the period of four nights one July I embarked on a NyQuest.

Some have said it was the combination of medications I was on. I’ll admit it, between the allergy meds, hormone pills, diuretics, sleeping aids and occasional aspirin for the rogue migraine, I felt less like a person and more like a Pyrex beaker. So accustomed to the ritual of self-medicating was I, that occasionally I tossed small bits of food into my mouth, swallowed whole with a chug of water. Then I caught a cold. Not a bad one as colds go, but a pesky cough kept me awake nights. Hallelujah, I’d found a bottle of NyQuil in the cupboard.

Now, I’ll go a long stretch before throwing back a shot of that nasty syrup, its metallic fruit taste forever clinging to my tongue, but I had reached my breaking point—the coughing had to be quelled. So I stared at the triangular carafe, and it stared back. I hesitated. It promised all night relief. I thought of the too-sweet-too-bitter syrup coating my taste buds before dripping, languid, down my throat, and made a face at the bottle. I read the dosage and the words Poison Control jumped out at me.

Not missing a beat, the wily bottle promised that “marked drowsiness may occur” on the condition that I ingest the required 30 milliliters. It sounded like a fair compromise. So I poured my water chaser, and measured out my dose of the daiquiri-flavored lava. A cloying, hyper-cherry odor assaulted my nostrils, so I held the little plastic cup at arm’s length, breathing only through my mouth. Down the hatch it went. To my disgust, the water didn’t so much chase the residual film as reconstituted it.

Several hard swallows later, I waited for my cough to subside.

An hour ticked by. Still coughing, still miserable, and still wide awake, I fumed about swallowing that overrated, non-potable battery-acid-Robitussin-wannabe for nothing and then… I stood in a desert, red sands warmed my bare feet, woolly clouds sailed through salmon skies. Chanting and drumming piped in through the ethers—astral Musak. A Native American character appeared and the Buddhist dharma wheel was a four-ticket carnival ride. Kaleidoscopic hues flashed in and around a jumbled, chaotic dreamscape, but I slept. Hard. Like a corpse. Roused by daylight from my medicinal spell, I puzzled over its bulldozing tactics. It never suppressed my cough, but I think I was clinically dead for six or eight hours.

I didn’t hesitate the next night, and ‘accidentally’ filled the cup a little above the thirty milliliter line. If the recommended dosage could launch me to the astral plane then a smidge more just might get me a private audience with God. Loathe to divert the remedy’s mysterious vision inducing properties to such mundane symptoms as a cough, I sucked on a lozenge while I waited to flat line.

I sneezed. Great, now my allergies were riled up. I got out of bed in the middle of the night and popped a Tavist, and discovered that this particular combination made it possible to bring back messages from the dead. I had become a cross between John Edwards and Timothy Leary.

By the third night I didn’t have much of a cough anymore, but I filled my little plastic goblet with that brilliant ruby elixir anyway, running my finger along the sides, collecting every precious drop. Instead of drinking water, cough drops disguised the taste and agitated the medicinal film on my tongue, coaxing it down my gullet and into my eager bloodstream where it could work its magic. The last thing I remember thinking was I’m gonna start wanting this stuff during the day.

My dreams continued in their Technicolor splendor, but the barrier between worlds had become nothing but a swinging saloon door, unable to contain this mind expansion within the dream realm. In my waking hours, logic surged past formal boundaries when I realized that mayonnaise was a sandwich lubricant. Mayo is to sandwiches what KY jelly is to… people sandwiches.

People need to know this.

Those poor mayophobes, ignorant of the oily condiment’s necessity in preventing painful hard palate food friction. I knew the moment the epiphany occurred, that this knowledge was not of my conjuring. It had been divinely rendered. Maybe from God, or my guardian angel, I didn’t know to whom credit was due, but winked up to my unseen muse.

My sauce tangent was interrupted by an urge to psychoanalyze the Super Friends. I suspected those avengers of evil harbored childhood traumas and deeply repressed hurts. I thought Aquaman was likely a bed-wetter, and maybe a fire starter too. A youngster experimenting with the elements as he worked out his frustrations of having a controlling mother and emotionally distant father. Superman and Wonder Woman, as their pseudonyms indicate, exhibit classic narcissism. Their double lives and alternate identities indicative of multiple personality disorder as well. Why wasn’t anyone reaching out to these wounded saviors? We expect them to pluck us from the jaws of peril, but we can’t sit even one of them down and offer a sympathetic “Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” It doesn’t take X-ray vision to be a good listener.

I had to cut myself off. It would just be a matter of time before people started asking questions like, “Do your pink teeth have anything to do with that cherry smell?” or “Who are you talking to?” and “Why would I want to know what my totem condiment is?” No more. My cold was gone and I’m too young to have nursing home breath. I closed the cupboard and cursed the Red Fairy, “I don’t need you.”

Ok, just one more night. My throat was a little dry and I could’ve gone into a coughing spasm at any minute. Might as well take a Tavist for that tickle in my nose too. That was definitely my last dose. Really, I promised.

It looks so unassuming on the grocery store shelf. Harmless, FDA approved, labeled attractively, this rhino-virus remedy sits benignly, its scarlet contents catch a ray of fluorescent light—glinting for your attention. The commercials flash across your mind’s 19 inch Magnavox: “the sneezing, coughing, blah, blah, blah… so you can rest medicine.”

The initiated know better. We’ve partaken of this concoction, its fabled origins steeped in voodoo, and have lived to tell about it. I‘ve kicked that cherry-flavored monkey off my back for now, but as my dreamscapes fade into muted sepia and black and white—content in their blandness and tedium, I pine for my cure, then my heart quickens when I realize that cold and flu season is just around the corner.

Test Tubular

I have completed my eight-week course of urine injections, and by golly, I think the shots actually worked. I've only had to buy one box of Kleenex in a month, I sneeze once or twice a day, as opposed to fifteen or twenty times. I don't have to sleep wearing a filter mask, and I can breathe deeply through my nose without it tickling.

Incredible. My doctor says the next test is to take a break from my allergen-infested environment for a few days, perhaps get away to the beach or mountains, or a sparkling clean hotel, then come home and bury my face in George's fur and see what happens.

I'm really blown away at the improvement I've noticed. Amazing, pee shots really work.

My next holistic adventure: Therapeutic IV. I'm not as squeamish about needles after inoculating myself for two months, so I'll let my phlebotomist brother draw blood and run it in his lab then subject myself to intraveinous vitamin B.

Although I'm consenting to all of these experimental treatments, I half expect the Animal Liberation Front to show up at my clinic during my IV session.

Guinea piggishly,

Blogroll Me! Site Feed