Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My Assistant

Every writer needs an assistant or an editor, if for no other reason than most writers, including me, have difficulty proof reading their own work. For example, I frequently find myself republishing these blog posts two or three times as I discover grammatical and formatting errors that I missed with my initial proofing.

Until the past few days, I had no assistant or editor. Then Alex—my housemate and the cat who owns me—decided to assume that duty. In the past, Alex spent most of the time I was writing sitting on my multi-function printer, awaiting my clicking “print” so that he could attempt to stop the printing by sticking his paw into the paper feed. That was problematic in many ways, not the least of which was the possibility that I might have to take my printer apart to free a paw.

Then, without warning me, Alex decided to assist me by going from the end product—the printed document—to the beginning of the literary process. He has decided to move from atop the printer to the top of my desk, taking a position beneath the high intensity desk light that shines to the left of my computer. That the light is warm and the central air conditioning of my house is set for 72 degrees may have influenced this move. (Alex hates cold almost as much as he hates water). I don’t know; when I ask Alex why he moved, he usually ignores my question as much as he usually ignores me when he doesn't want something from me.

Most of the time that Alex is on my desk he spends napping—or grooming himself. However, at times he takes an active role in my creative process. Sometimes he does this my using the keyboard of my notebook computer as a pillow for his head. At other times he becomes proactive by walking across the keys. This has resulted in Alex creating and sending messages while I have been “chatting” with folks on Yahoo Messenger, sending half-completed emails, and deleting works in progress. It has also necessitated my keeping a can of pressurized air duster on my desk to remove cat hairs from my keyboard.

In my house-sharing relationship with Alex, we are a bit like The Odd Couple;I play the role of the messy Oscar and Alex plays the role of the fastidious Felix (rather an appropriate role and name for a cat). Thus, Alex also helps my creative process by keeping the top of my desk clean of any unnecessary items. When he gets the urge, he investigates everything on my desk and, if movable—pens, eye glasses, cigarette packs and lighters, etc—he pushes those things off my desk and onto the floor.

Some folks who are not privileged by being owned by a cat may wonder why I simply do not push Alex onto the floor. I suppose there are many reasons I don’t, with the primary one being that Alex has developed the habit of getting my attention by creeping up to the front of my chair and taking a swipe at my genitals with his claws. That always gets my attention. Thus, when Alex is on my desk and not slinking around on the floor, he doesn’t surprise me with his attention-getting actions.

I just asked Alex is he wanted to add anything to this post. His response was to yawn, flick his tail over my keyboard, and go back to sleep.


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