So, I have this cat. If I showed you a picture of him, you might think he is just a long haired black cat, albeit an exceptionally beautiful one, but you would be wrong. A picture isn’t enough to convey the silky softness of his fur with its subtle tones of red that shine in the sunlight and the few stray strands of white on his chest. Nor would it convey to you the depth of his absinthe eyes, dilated with playful excitement. No, a photo would never do him justice.
His name is Loki, but he goes by many other nicknames in our house: Bub, Bublin, Mister Baby, Brother, and many, many others. Loki is the best cat ever! But Loki also has this weird habit—Loki sucks. Loki sucks on shirts, like a baby sucking on a bottle. He has from the minute we brought him home as a kitten.
At first, I was beyond confused by this behavior. I’ve had cats all my life but had never encountered this behavior before. After a few months, I grew worried and did a little research into the matter. What Loki does is called “wool sucking,” even though he almost exclusively chooses my cotton shirts.
There are several reasons why Loki might wool suck. The most likely reason, I found, was that Loki was weaned from his mother too early. This makes a lot of sense. When we adopted him, he was barely eight weeks old. I will always remember the day he joined our little family. It was the middle of July and it was stupid hot outside. We went to a local no-kill shelter in the height of kitten season. This shelter had kittens coming out the wazoo! Everywhere you looked there were dozens of baby cats ranging from 6 weeks to 6 months old. They had so many that they had to put up temporary kennels in the lobby to hold them all. I am a cat lady, so this was my idea of heaven and I wanted to take them all! I had gone into a few rooms to play with some kitties, but none of them felt like they were mine. Then I stepped out into the lobby and I saw him: a black ball of fluff with greenish-yellow eyes in a kennel all alone. I was done. Dazzled by cuteness and the instant cosmic connection, I told my boyfriend that that was the one. The shelter attendant asked if we wanted to play with him a bit to make sure we were a good match. Nope, I didn’t. I was completely certain.
The people at the shelter gave us a temporary cardboard carrier and we put him in it. I left the top open while we did the paperwork, because it seemed mean to shut him in for longer than I needed to. He was so fearless. He kept popping his head out of the box to stare at my boyfriend and me. His shelter name was Jeff… It didn’t suit him at all. Then the shelter lady began to give us a rundown of his (brief) history. Jeff (Loki) had been separated from his mother at four weeks because of a bad upper respiratory infection, which is common in cats. Though he had gotten better, he had been kept in isolation so he didn’t infect other cats. He had only been placed in the kennel for adoption that day.
Can you imagine? This poor, adorable kitten had been taken from his mother before he could even eat solid food. He must have been so scared… sick and alone, with no other cats to comfort him or teach him how to be a cat. This separation and isolation may be a big factor in Loki’s sucky behavior. Not only did he still want to nurse on his mom, but it also provided him a sense of comfort in a new, scary situation.
I may have made a mistake by indulging his behavior. But how could I not? It was the only time I could get him to purr! And, this is going to sound weird, but it was like a bonding time for us. It let us get to know each other. And we needed each other—he needed a home, and I needed a friend. My house was often empty because my boyfriend was spending the majority of his time at work and school. I was also suffering from terrible anxiety at the time and, now I realize, Loki was too. So really, when Loki would suck on the shoulder of my shirt it was comforting to us both. The sucking gave him a new nickname—Oedi-puss.
I took Loki for a checkup at the vet a while later to get some flea meds and vaccines. I mentioned the sucking to the vet, and she assured me that he would eventually grow out of it. He did not grow out of it. It’s been five years and he still sucks all the time.
I can always tell when Loki wants to suck. As is with many males, when a mood overtakes him…he will not be denied. His eyes get very round, until there is almost no green left. His tail gets puffed up and he swishes it back and forth vigorously. He is already purring as he approaches me. This is a special purr—it has a trilling undertone to it that is meant to tell me that he needs attention now. It doesn’t matter to him what I’m doing at the time, it simply can’t be more important than snuggling. He will walk over whatever I have in my lap and hug me. He presses into my chest and nuzzles at me with his velvety muzzle. And then comes the noise. When Loki sucks he is loud! The insistent snuck snuck snuck fills the room and tells everyone what he is doing. His tail whips back and forth as drool spreads over my shoulder and his claws knead my chest and tummy.
For a long time we tried to discourage Loki from sucking. We tried to play with him, we pushed him away, we closed the bedroom at night. But no matter what we tried, and we really consistently tried, he would force his way up to suck. Recently my boyfriend and I decided it was time to give up the fight. So now when Loki wants to suck I let him. It isn’t hurting him to do it, though his claws sometimes hurt me. But I grin and bear it. I will wrap my arms around him and hold him close as his cat spit permeates my clothing. When I get right down to it, it isn’t only soothing for him, but for me too. Loki needs me like nothing else on this planet needs me. Loki may suck, but he is my fur baby.
Well, folks… it’s that time of year again! Time for planning barbeques, buying fireworks, and trying not to be maimed or seriously injured by said fireworks. That’s right y’all! It’s Independence Day!
For many people, and in latter years I think particularly, the Fourth of July is a mixed bag of emotions. Everyone loves an excuse to have friends and family gather around to gorge themselves on Costco hot dogs, vats of potato salad, and luscious summer watermelon. The weather is (generally) pretty good in most places of the US, and it is a day off work for many to celebrate the bravery of the founding fathers.
But with the good can also come the bad… Political tensions are running high. Fireworks can often be seen as a nuisance. Perhaps you are a person suffering from PTSD, a small child scared of loud noises, or a pet fearing the apocalypse. Or maybe you are just a person who enjoys peace and quiet, which is okay too. No one likes being taken off-guard by the random whims of the neighbor down the street who only get the kind of fireworks that are so loud they rattle your windows. Beyond that, fireworks are expensive and are also a safety hazard when handled improperly.
When asked, most people will proclaim Thanksgiving or Halloween as their favorite holiday, but I would have to say that the Fourth of July is one of mine for a very special reason.
When I was little, we were pretty poor. My dad worked a crummy construction job for a slum lord and my mom was a bookkeeper for a few small businesses. While my parents always made sure that we always had everything we needed, with three kids there wasn’t a lot of room in the budget for luxuries.
As an adult, I now kind of see fireworks as a symbol of literally burning money, so it is surprising to me that my father would insist that we buy fireworks every year, even if it was just a few. My town was small and there wasn’t a community fireworks show until I was older, so if you wanted fireworks you had to buy them yourself. I remember getting positively giddy when I would see the small Lion’s Club stand being erected in the grocery store parking lot at the end of every June. I would scour the couch for coins, saving up to buy my favorite firework, The Climbing Panda. As the calendar flipped from June to July, I could barely contain my enthusiasm, and sure enough, the time came to purchase our fireworks to celebrate America’s birthday.
I was the middle child of three. My older sister was a strong willed wild-child, and my younger brother always needed more attention as the baby. With young kids and working full time, it is hard to find one-on-one time with any of your children, but my dad made it happen for me every Fourth of July. A few days before the big day, my dad would scoop me up and whisk me away to the store to pick out the fireworks, just the two of us.
I would hold his hand as we walked up to the red shack, savoring the scent of gunpowder. It was so unlike any smells that I would encounter normally and it acted like a stimulant to my excitable mind. I would stand on the little wooden steps that the proprietors placed before the stand so that the smaller patrons (ie, me) could see over the counter. I remember emptying the coins from my pocket, carefully counting them out, and asking politely for a Climbing Panda. Looking back on it now, it is slightly laughable that the Lion’s Club would sell a small explosive to a six-year-old, even if I was accompanied by an adult.
My dad and I would look over the wares of the stand carefully, calculating out how many sparklers we would need. Ten in a box, three kids (plus some of the neighborhood kids), two adults, and at least one box of each color. We would pick up a few Roman Candles, some smoke bombs and ground flowers. Then my dad would point to a twenty dollar pack of bigger fireworks, and I would goggle at the fortune he was spending on something that would only last for a night. Twenty dollars seemed like quite a lot compared to my ninety-nine cent panda.
Once the sun went down on the evening of the Fourth, we would get to show off our selections to my family and the neighbors. We would pretend to be fairy queens with sparklers, and army commandos with the multi-colored smoke bombs. Pop-its littered the sidewalk as ground flowers glowed in their short, whirlwind blooms. Dad would be the lead technician, always stressing safety when enjoying fireworks. I would snuggle in a blanket near my mom as we watched the glow and pop of the mostly fountain-style fireworks, and most of all, my Climbing Panda. And in a whiff of sulfur, it was over and it was time for bed.
Now I am an adult, and my dad and I aren’t on speaking terms. Life happens, and the years go by, and all that other cliche stuff. Oddly though, even after all these years and everything that went down with my dad, I still get excited about the Fourth of July. I will walk into a fireworks tent, smell the gunpowder, and I am instantly transported back to being a little girl counting out sticky pennies to buy a tiny firework. And I remember how much fun I had with my dad.
Fireworks are kinda like life, yeah? An expensive and inconvenient nuisance that might burn you, but beautiful to behold, best shared with friends and family, and over far too quickly. So, things might not be great now–like my relationship with my dad, or the state of our country–but that doesn’t stop me from looking forward to better times. And when those better times come, I will appreciate them all the more for knowing that the moment is fleeting.
That is why I love the Fourth of July.
Happy Independence Day everyone! If you are planning on enjoying fireworks, always practice proper fireworks safety! And please remember to be courteous to your neighbors.
Over the years we’ve highlighted our favorite characters in the running series “Strong Female Characters.” We wanted the name of the series to reflect how passionate we are about these characters, and came up with the name “Fantastic Femmes and Where to Find Them.” We hope you like the new name as much as we do 🙂
To kick off this series reboot, our newest copywriter Rebecca Anglesey wrote about her favorite fantastic femme, Anne Shirley. Enjoy! – GGC Copy Team
Anne Shirley, the indomitable main character of the beloved Anne of Green Gables books, has been inspiring girls everywhere for over a hundred years. Written by L.M. Montgomery in 1908, Anne’s passion, intelligence, and quirkiness endeared her to audiences of all ages. Anne blazed a trail for geek girls everywhere by being herself and wearing her heart on her sleeve, regardless of what others around her had to say.
As a child of the early 90s, I was first introduced to Anne in the Sullivan Entertainment movie adaptations of the book that were frequently aired on PBS fundraising telethons. I used to love sitting on my living room floor to watch Anne’s antics, and I quickly devoured every Anne book I could find at the library. As an adult, I think I appreciate the story even more.
Here’s the thing about Anne Shirley: she is a total geek girl! Anne had a passionate love of literature from the very beginning, and she was never shy about that fact. She loved to use big words, and she never hid her intelligence, even though people were constantly putting her down.
Anne had some hard knocks in her early life. Being an orphan, she was shuffled through the system and was frequently abused. No one cared enough about her to nurture her obvious academic talent until her eventual adoption by the Cuthbert siblings of Avonlea. With a little bit of encouragement and advocacy from people who loved her, Anne flourished and became a model student and high academic achiever.
One thing that I loved about Anne was that she never listened to the haters (I’m looking at you, Josie Pye). Anne was surrounded by people who could only be described as basic, but she never felt pressure to conform to what was considered “socially acceptable” because she was happy being herself. This lesson is relevant to everyone everywhere, which is another reason Anne’s story is so near and dear to my heart.
Remember the time Anne cracked her school slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head because he made fun of her hair?
Or when she told Rachel Lynde to stick it for calling her skinny and ugly?
Anne never took any crap from anybody, and she always demanded respect from the people around her. Anne knew her self-worth, and she refused to associate with people who didn’t respect her.
Even when met with adversity, Anne would adapt her plans. When Matthew died suddenly, she didn’t give up on her dream of going to college. She adjusted her plans so that she could help Marilla with Green Gables, but she still pursued her education while holding down a teaching position to boot. It is even more impressive when you think about the fact that women weren’t encouraged to go to college in Anne’s world. Most women were expected to get married and have kids and keep house, but that was never the goal for Anne.
All this isn’t to say that Anne didn’t have her flaws… Anne was terribly vain, and she had a quick temper, both traits that landed her in more than one embarrassing situation. She constantly bemoaned her red hair, but accidentally dying it green taught Anne that having red hair wasn’t so bad after all (I personally think redheads rock, but I may be biased). She even sold her cow, Dolly, in a fit of temper with the bovine troublemaker for getting out of her pen only to find that she had accidentally sold her new neighbors’ cow instead! Anne was able to use honesty and charm to turn that potentially alienating act around and make good friends with the man, showing that you should own up to your mistakes and take responsibility, and that you can make friends anywhere if you have an open heart and mind. I feel that these things make Anne a more relatable person, and she always learned from her mistakes.
Even after all these years, I still get as much enjoyment as I ever have from experiencing Anne’s trials and tribulations. She has always been one of my top role models. She was a loyal friend, she always tried to make herself better than she was, and she let her imagination run wild. Anne Shirley taught me that it was okay to be a girl who was smart and passionate and a total geek!