Cats - Matilda, Gingko & Mimosa

Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

The Autobiography of Mimosa by Joy

The Life & Death of Gingko by Joy

The Autobiography of Matilda by Nichelle

From: SAGReiss

Date: 11 August 1996

Subject: Matilda and Mr Peterson

negatron complained so bitterly about the nickname FratBoy that I have come up with a new one, Queequeg. This fits the Moby's Dick theme linking Ahab's mutineys to 12000 Virgins. Actually I wanted to use the name of the cabin boy who is gang-ass-raped, but I can't remember it. Whenever I mention this chapter, in which the story is told through song and a complex series of puns, people look at me as if I've been making too-liberal use of the Ricard bottle. I am quite sober. This is my first beer and it's noon and I've just got off work. There IS a homosexual gang-rape in Melville's monsterpiece. Read it carefully or just buy the Penguin Classics edition and RTFN (Read The Fucking Notes). Anyway I propose Queequeg and I win the contest by default, since I am the only participant as yet. Besides, if negatron isn't losing his hair yet, just wait till those FWCo-eds and Nazi-feminists teaching women's studies get a hold of him. This fall is going to be fun. See negatron writhe in pain as he has to write essays on gender constructions in post-anal fiction. Mr Peterson is our new neighbor, a squirrel who lives across from out kitchen window whom Stiff Lips has adopted. Well, she gave him a name. He doesn't do many interesting domestic things. We have yet to watch him mate. What do you want from a red-headed rat with a furry tail? Matilda, whose name I'm sure Colin will appreciate, is the kitten I've asked permission from our landlord to take in. I believe I am witnessing something I won't call Mutiney IV, but rather a schism. Three ostensibly unrelated events lead me to this conclusion. In a kind of comic blunder Werner fucked up his password and gave a wrong e-mail address or some combination of the two. This mistake will be rectified (no pun intended). Allset has told Stiff Lips that she continues to talk to the rapist from the MOO. I'm not sure why she shared this information, which could not but inspire fear and worry in a woman upon whom boredom and lonliness already prey. We have thought and talked about Allset's motives (no pun intended), some of which speculation was rather ugly. The more printable theories suggest the thrill of sexual violence and danger within the relatively harmless environment of the MOO. (As we know, Strawtop, rape is just sex without the usual element of consent, however we may understand that term.) There is no solution to this dilemma, except the rather drastic one of toading Allset from the World and gagging/refusing her. I have neither the wish nor the power to determine or even verify with whom she chooses to spend her time. Her desire to be desired (which I have compared to "the robber's knowledge of the loser's knowledge of the robber" in Poe's Purloined Letter), even her craving for sexual pain, is no weirder or more sick than my otherworldly thirst for whisky. I can't think of anything shrewd or witty to say here. I guess my behavior will be based on how upset Allset makes Stiff Lips. I am not long going to brook the pain that the possibility of an indiscretion provokes in the woman I live with, however unlikely such a mishap may be. Serious concern about e-mail addresses has again been voiced and this time I'm inclined to do something about it. What I am asked to execute is essentially a coup d'etat. If I'm going to protect your e-mail addresses, a request of especial concern as the World grows, what I'll have to do is create a formal, moderated listserv, meaning that everything passes through my 'puter and, contrary to my plan, I control who can post what. That I would exert this power as little as possible doesn't negate the fact that it would be mine. I'll ask my Technical Director to investigate the software possibilities. If it's within my means to do so, I s'pose I shall. If it's very expensive, we could put it to a vote and share the burden if the ayes win.

From: Laurent

Subject: Re: No supper

Date: 15 August 1996

WOW!!apologies from gabe..I did not expect so much.. Not that i really like the public keelhauling..but well..becca can be a nasty kid at her own moments and she really ate her foot and even part of the leg this time..i guess knowing gabe's sarcasms she must have thought stiff-lips would not have minded a really bad joke.. I can tell you when she gets back from New York she ain't gonna get no desserts for weeks...and she will have to help me heal the scars from the keelhauling.. [...]

my roommate's girlfriend just dyed her pussy pink (the hair i mean) , and she showed it to me the day after he left for 2 weeks in Zimbabwe..it looks really cute but..would any of you girls shoe your pubic hair to your lover's best friend?Should I let hair dye my pubic hair purple?In case you think i should do you have any idea of a really non erotic thing to think about while you have a cute woman brushing your pubic hair?

Sorry to be trivial..just wanted to try and escape a bit from the ontological disarray..

bisous

laurent

From: SAGReiss

Date: 16 August 1996

Subject: Pink Matilda

I can just imagine laurent, the Eurostud of the Sex Room, carefully putting on his reading glasses for an up-close, scientifically detached look at his best friend's gf's newly-dyed-pink pussy. Does it do tricks? Did she make you put on surgical gloves to check out the texture? What exactly is the html code for the colour? I'm sure all of our readers must be asking themselves these same, and other, burning questions. Please be forthcoming (Um, may I rephrase that?) in providing all of the necessary mathematical data. This is, after all, a research project. Stiff Lips and negatron have both registered as sophmores (We all know what that means, right?) and they're taking Computer Science 101 and Women's Studies 069 and this is their interDISCIPLINary homework. I ask you all please to give us any relevant input on this matter. Please include full-colour GIFs and JPEGs.

From: Nichelle

Date: 11 September 1996

Subject: Matilda

Matilda is a fruit-eating fiend. She likes cantaloupe best, she ate part of a pear just now. The other day, Gaby gave her a blueberry with less success. She just played with it, rolling it around on the floor, under the door, not understanding it was food. Blueberries and cats... is this like casting pears before swine? [...]

From: SAGReiss

Date: 17 September 1996

Subject: Flies at half mast

Matilda and I took the bus to go to the big bad vet's. Nichelle had fixed her up in a gin box (I very seldom drink gin.) with some spare carpeting and a Valpoliccella cheap-ass Italian cork to play with and some holes to peer out of. The doctor asked me how I felt about FIV, feline AIDS: "Well, Doc, I don't even fucking know if I've got the human kind. Perhaps you could just test me..." He doesn't recommend it except to multiple-cat homes or Nazi psychopaths who might want to kill their cat if it has some disease often inoccuous to the cat and not contagious to people. I said: "Naw, just give her the regular shit." As I was paying the village sheriff walked in and politely inquired about a client: "I remember she was here. In fact I arrested her in the parking lot." What the fuck is this shit? You bring your cat to the vet's and you get fucking busted? What, have you got some tiny handcuffs for the cat, you fascist pig? Or do you just shoot to kill if it hisses at someone who is mauling its friend?" I couldn't believe that the secretary actually tried to help, gave the motherfucker the name of a friend of the girl's he was looking for. I felt like saying: "Fuck you, then. Matilda can get her shots from someone who won't have my ass and hers arrested in the parking lot." What's wrong with these swinefuckers? "Oh, sure, sheriff, let me check the files. By the way she still owes us six bucks if you find her..." IRC is weird. Half the rooms are dedicated to bdsm child pornography and I get kicked out of the other half for swearing. I tried to help this Brazilian who couldn't speak English by talking to him in Spanish and we got kicked out for that. There is a dangerous Nazi attitude on IRC. I'm going to stick with it, though. I think we may already have met every human being with a brain who goes to Lambda and I can't get used to the idea of feeling stalked by that mendacious motherfucker. BTW, Allset. The mystery man/voyeur was not Colin. Is everyone in the sex room going to wear his fly at half mast to mourn for Wintermute? I just wish it had been ex-Melon. Oops, there goes Gabe's awful sense of humour again. Well shit, at least I've got one. Humour seems to be a disease that the PC doctors have nearly eradicated...

Matilda by Nichelle

From: Nichelle

Date: 29 September 1996

Subject: note frum murtilda

been sleeping, then wake up and eating the food ate crunchy things ate something from the floor heard a noise played with the paper played with the string played with a big leg, somebody said a mean loud thing played with the ball looked out the window there was a fuzzy thing and it ws moving and I wanted it it was far away there were big fat noisy birds wanted them and then I didn't get them then I went under the big thing and stayed under there It was dark---got tired came out from under the big thing and found the warm person then slept on top of it. It was moving a lot woke up and eating the food again ate crunchy things I like the way the crunchy things smell like good food The big people were eating I wanted. Then played with the paper. played with the leg played with the ball.

luv murtilda

From: SAGReiss

Date: 6 October 1996

Subject: The Petersons

At first we weren't sure if Mr and Mrs Peterson were throwing a dinner party and playing a friendly game of tag with their guests before the festivities begin or if Mr Peterson was fighting with some neighborhood punk for squatters rights to the gable of the house next door and, thereby, to Mrs Peterson. They hissed and scratched and clawed at eachother for a while and eventually, as Nichelle, Matilda and I watched from either the kitchen or living room window, the youngster committed some act of rudeness which made him personna non grata on the roof of the house. As a jest of triumph Mr and Mrs Peterson continued their little game of tag, which slowly took on more intimate allures. Mr Peterson's advances were stubbornly fought off by the coy Mrs Peterson. They chased one another, he cornered her, hopped on her back, she escaped over and over again. Suddenly Mr Peterson got the upper hand, pinned her and straddled her for good and prepared for the traditional, matrimonial rite of the old in-out. He began to thrust in earnest when both fell, still in eachother's grasp, right off the roof and below the sight lines of our window. Nichelle screamed and we both ran to the window to witness the awful sight below: two bloodied, mangled bodies still clutching eachother dead on the sidewalk. Some days everyone gets lucky. Though they took a good spill of about ten feet, they landed on the fire-escape, which broke their fall. Stunned, they rolled down the steps another five feet or so before getting up, licking their wounds (more bruises than anything else) and going back to the safe confines of their home under the gable.

From: Nichelle

Date: 17 November 1996

Subject: (fe-lâ´shê-o´)

fellatio (fe-lâ´shê-o´, -lä´tê-o´, fè-) noun

Oral stimulation of the penis.

[New Latin, from Latin fellâtus, past participle of fellâre, to suck.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.

Gabe, keep your cat under control. She just stood up on her hind legs, on top of my desk, and started to lick that pink stick-on dick I put on negatron's photo. It's such an unwieldy thing, it just fell off, so she started chewing on it. I managed to rescue it, but she licked off most of the sticky stuff...

From: Nichelle

Date: 30 November 1996

Subject: Murtilda

One red and white jingle ball.
One golf ball.
Two white bic lighters.
Two blue rubber-bands.
Fingernail clippers.
Three tinfoil balls.
1/2 package Spearmint Velamints.
No, make that Four tinfoil balls.
Three nuts: one pecan, one brazil, one walnut.
One Fimo ball.
One barette, small.
Fifteen wine corks.
Thirty-seven packing peanuts.
Six wadded-up pieces of paper.
One pen cap.
One bus schedule.
One black sock.

Score: Matilda 78, Gaby&Nichelle 0

Nichelle

From: Columbine

Date: 30 November 1996

Subject: Re: Murtilda

Wait ... wait ... I know this one. You cleaned under the sofa today, right? This sounds like the classic Cat Stash Under The Sofa.

Kannst du nicht allen gefallen durch deine That und dein Kunstwerk - mach es wenigen recht. Vielen gefallen ist schlimm. -Schiller

From: Nichelle

Date: 3 December 1996

Subject: The Terminator

It's a sad day. I think they're killing The Petersons.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 27 October 2006

Subject: CII

On Wednesday 25 October Catherine went crazy again, this time drunk on bad wine and obsessed with the fact that I had once, days or weeks before, sung Waltzing Matilda to Rose. This because Nichelle's cat is called Matilda. In the middle of her hysterical, six-hour monologue, she tried to go to sleep, then went to sleep on the floor. Rose coughed a little, so Catherine picked her up out of her bed and lied her down on the floor next to herself, all the while accusing me of treating the two of them either like cats or dogs. She claimed, despite the obvious fact that she had put Rose on the floor, where it may have been cold and uncomfortable, that this was somehow my fault. I finally managed to take Rose away from Catherine and put her back in her crib. Catherine droned on for another couple of hours, mostly about the song Waltzing Matilda. Eventually she apologized and went to sleep.

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree.
And he sang as he watched and waited ‘til his billy boiled,
“Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me?”

Swag: the bed roll in which a swagman (hobo) carries his belongings. Billabong: waterhole.
Coolibah: type of eucalyptus.
Billy: kettle.

Swagman
                (c. 1900)

“Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda,
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda, with me?”
And he sang as he watched and waited ‘til his billy boiled,
“Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda, with me?”

Kangaroo

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the waterhole.
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
“You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me.”

Jumbuck: wild sheep.

Tucker: food.

Down came the squatter riding on his thoroughbred,
Up jumped the troopers, one, two, three,
“Who’s that jolly jumbuck you’ve got in the tucker bag?
“You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me.”

Squatter: informal homesteader whose dubious claim to the land was sometimes recognized by the authorities.

Up sprang the swagman and jumped into the waterhole,
Drowning himself by the coolibah tree.
And his ghost may be heard as it sings by that billabong,
“Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me?”

Billabong

From: SAGReiss

Date: 31 October 2006

Subject: Songs we have sung

My Grandfather's Clock
My Pigeon House
You Are So Beautiful (Joe Crocker)
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World (Charlie Pride [Rich, but it's basically the same thing]) [the first song I sang to Rose, an hour or two after her birth]
No Rose No Cry (Bob Marley)
Here Comes the Sun (Beatles) [the song I sang to Rose when we left the hospital, the first time she saw the sun]
Are You Sleeping, brother John
Summertime
Here we go round the mulberry bush
The Hollow Men
Clementine
The Erie Canal
Greensleeves
The Silver Swan
Splashing in the Bath (Singing in the Rain)
Mockingbird
Fare thee well, my dear
Au Claire de la lune
Rockabye Baby
Row, row, row your boat

...many more that I can't remember. Suggestions are welcome.

[I did not forget Waltzing Matilda. I knowingly suppressed it.]

From: SAGReiss

Date: 22 January 2010

Subject: Mur

Have you got a good pic of Matilda? I can't find any one your Facebook, nor in my documents.

From: Nichelle

Date: 29 January 2010

Subject: Re: Mur

Attached: Matilda.jpg

Here you go.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 29 January 2010

Subject: Ginkgo & Mimosa

Joy,

I'm looking for a good pic (decent resolution, 1024 pixels wide or something like that) of Ginkgo and another one of Mimosa for a cat page I'm building.

Could you possibly send me those?

Thanks, and best regards.

Gabriel

From: SAGReiss

Date: 30 January 2010

Subject: Cats

I'm still awaiting Joy's pics of Mimosa & Gingko/Ginkgo I'm surprised how little material there is about Matilda. It feels like I'm missing something, a lot. Nichelle, can you find any other letters? Or maybe laurent or negatron has better records than I of July & August 1996. I can't believe we didn't write something about my walking six miles to pick up Mur, her abandonment by her mother, the first visit to the Vet, when he shot fluids into her spinal cord because she was so badly dehydrated... nothing of the birth & sad origins of our newest family member? That seems very strange to me. We who wrote down everything. There's just a few casual references to the new kitten, where I would have expected painstakingly detailed analysis of cat food, cat dishes (Remember how you painted her glass bowl?), cat litter, cat poo. If that's the best we could do, no wonder Joy is the dedicated mistress of all things cat literaturistic. (I cut a few of the messages, wherever possible, in order to keep to the theme of cats.)

From: SAGReiss

Date: 1 February 2010

Subject: Happy Birthday Sarah Marie

I gave laurent the first word because we don't have too many good texts from him, and I was so frustrated about not finding the letters I remember writing fifteen years ago, one about walking six miles to fetch Matilda, another about the color of her, um, genitalia (I keep searching both the site and my mail for some combination of "pink", "black", "anus" & "pussy" and coming up short.), which you shall soon see is kind of a theme of this letter. This also led to that odd call & response with Joy about Wintermute's death, about which I recall Joy's saying: "Wintermute, we hardly knew thee." Now Wintermute (or whatever the fuck his name was) was not a cat, but I think we can still take a moment to remember his death at his own hands, despite the fact that none of us knows anything of the life that led him to that sad end. Dell must like me. When I foolishly ordered a webcam instead of a portable camera, they offered to refund me, which is unheard of in France, but I still wanted a portable camera, so they're sending me a credit (by snail mail, as this IS France), but they said: "Just keep the shit you didn't want, asshole, and try not to fuck up your next order." More important (although I'm a little depressed that we might not have the new camera by Fat Tuesday), yesterday, as we played in the Julh Froment parc while waiting for the school whatever it is laurent said he liked (lotto or tombola or something, a bingo-like game last seen in America at my grandfather's Casino circa 1965 [the year of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", which I kept confusing with the year of my birth.]), the school in Les Vans, of course, as I must be personna non grata in Lablachere, the mother of a neighborhood boy invited us to his birthday party on 12 February. I hope it's in the afternoon, as we have reservations at the Mas de la Bar(o)que that evening, but I don't really care. This is the result of months of work, carefully soliciting (I won't deny the occasional ulterior motive.) the mother of every child in Les Vans, and I know all of the children's names, as does Rose, who doesn't exactly specialize in forgetfulness or her mother's "selective memory". Rose thinks like me. She remembers everything, which Joy once (in September 1996) called an unbearable burden, and yes it ain't easy. This lady (who dyes her hair for some reason I cannot understand. In fact I can never dnatsunder why women dye their hair. Dyed hair looks... dyed. It looks fucking awful. It inevitably clashes with skin color, which is how, as you all should know, Henry Miller identified hair color, since a woman with red hair, but no milky complexion, is not a redhead, even if that's her natural color.) has always coldly rebuffed me (possibly because she perceived real or imaginary ulterior motives). What is important here is not the birthday party, but the access we will gather there to new & unknown mothers of children. If only my mother & I can not fuck this up too badly (Neither of us really specializes in playing well with the other children in the sandbox.) Rose will enter a circle of friends in Les Vans. We will be invited to more birthday parties. We will have to invite them to our birthday parties, which is a horror I've not yet fully contemplated. You mean other people, in my fucking home?

22 February 2010

Nichelle: Taking Murtilda to the vet today. Poor kid is really skinny and barely eats.

SAGReiss: I hope Mur is well. We may need Joy's intervention here.

Nichelle: I'm a big baby when it comes to that little cat. She's home after being injected with fluid for her dehydration and with antibiotics and special food.

Nichelle: Another vet visit tomorrow morning. I fear that she hasn't got a lot of time left.

24 February 2010

SAGReiss: I'm so sorry, Nichelle. Mur has been a good friend to us.

From: Nichelle

Date: 26 February 2010

Subject: Murtilda's Passing

She started getting skinny a month or so ago. I tried changing her food, supplementing it, vitamins, extra treats. We saw the vet who gave me some things to try. A couple of days ago she quit eating. She deteriorated quickly. The tests showed signs of the very late stages of kidney failure.

I knew last night. I brought her out for goodbyes to people I knew would miss her. I sat with her in our favorite chair, with an electric blanket on my lap, and she slept and pushed her face up against my hand and I petted her until we were both falling asleep. I moved us to a bed on the floor, knowing she was too weak to jump up on anything. At about 3 AM I felt her climb over the top of me and disappear into the shop. I thought she had gone off to die in some dark corner. An hour or two later she came back and to my amazement, jumped up onto my lap. We sat for a long time, she suffered occasional convulsions. We slept next to each other on the bed on my floor for our last night together, and I took her to the vet. She could barely walk and her convulsions were getting more frequent. By then we had said our goodbyes. They ran tests, but Mur and I both knew already that the end was a short time away. When the vet returned with the results of his tests, I believed in my heart that Matilda and I understood each other. I could put her through a few more agonizing days of convulsions and forced feedings, or I could help her go.

Gaby, you named her for Waltzing Matilda, and I loved the name for the Matilda of Neruda's love sonnets introduced to me in my first days of e-mail by a pretentious music student in a distant corner of the country. Neruda wrote about all kinds of love, but Mur and I shared just one kind, a constant and steady daily love of the comfort of each other, a pure love not about anything, not needing anything to make it complete, not needing words or poetry or explanations, but just the pleasure of being near each other. I haven't got a hundred love sonnets in me or the need to write them. I shared 14 years with her, and I'm glad for it. They were hard years, and I had a companion.

You loved her too, in a way she was like the child we didn't have together. I want you to know that I did everything I could to make her happy and comfortable. That she was loved and cherished. That she went in peace. That she will be remembered.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 26 February 2010

Subject: RIP Mur

The Jews morn by saying kaddish & sitting shiva for seven days. My site has gone white with grief. Good-bye, Matilda. Our few years together will never be forgotton.

All links are also temporarily dead.

From: Nichelle

Date: 26 February 2010

Subject: Re: RIP Mur

Thanks, Gaby, for your tribute to our mutual friend. It means a lot to me.

-N

From: SAGReiss

Date: 26 February 2010

Subject: Re-qui-em Ma-ti-il-da

Weep no more, woful Shepherds weep no more,
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead.

Hitchhiking to work this morning, still weeping since six o'clock, I was picked up by a neighborhood kid. When things die, as we often pretend they do, and as alas they do indeed, Rose sings Poor Judd is Dead, which my mother taught her, but I listened to Waltzing Murtilda this morning and Mozart this afternoon. Joe Hill by Paul Robeson is another good one, that brought me to my knees in August 2007. Death, even absence, is hard to swallow. My mother talks constantly of my impending doom, as if Buk & Serge Gainsbourg hadn't made it past fifty. Actually the philistine that she is has no idea who Buk & Serge are, and would wish them a swift demise if she knew. In any case, when we begin to get over the first stages of mourning (I was happy that I managed two last spelling mistakes for Mur.), I'll just comment the whiteness of the whale. Oops, it don't look like I can do that inside the body tag. Oh, well, in case of death break glass. I can't bear to reread Nichelle's message just yet. The wound is still too raw, so I wasted the afternoon commenting C the G's voice mail of 17 February, an astonishing piece of work on the part of a rationalistic sociopath. It worked out well that I built the Cats page in the last month of beloved Matilda's existence. It was a last gift to her, who gave us all so much.

From: Nichelle

Date: 26 February 2010

Subject: Matilda, she take me money and run Venezuela

When we shared that apartment in Syracuse, you listened to Beethoven's 9th again and again. The music of the beginning of Mur's life was about joy. I'm sorry you are sad. I'm sad too.

Thank you for your gift to her.

You were the one who found her and brought her to me. Thank you for your gift to me.

The gift she gave to me was coming back to me after leaving for her dark corner, and giving me a little more time with her.

My last gift to her was being with her until the last moment.

I'm wrecked, just wrecked.

26 February 2010

Nichelle: Matilda, Murtilda, Mur. Grrtilda. Princess Underfoot. Noogie-head. Squeaks. Buddy. My dear companion of 14 years is gone. We had a good run together.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 27 February 2010

Subject: Ride the Wake

Mur came to you (a broken, nearly dead kitten) when you needed her, and she leaves you in a far better place than where she found you. You were an awfully young girl in the hands of a man hardened by the pages of thousands of books, whose mind had set in determination upon a literary project that you helped to create, exceeding even the unreasonable expectations & soaring ambitions I had for us. I'm sure you & Mur learned to find a better mix of music, poetry, & sport than I could give you. Rose is finally teaching me that it helps to feel the sunshine, to wade out into the stream. Winter will soon be over. Spring will soon be here. The memory of Mur & Ginkgo (However you spell it.) does not die. You & Joy & Mimosa & I & especially Rose will rise to live again. Rose will eventually convince me to find a cat or (if she really sets her mind on it) a dog. I am no match for my daughter's will. You will ride the red bike again, not in dishonor of the memory of Mur, but in the wake of her love.

The Red Bike

20 June 2009 - Nichelle: At the American Legion convention.
21 June 2009 - SAGReiss: Beautiful, and that bro's pants appear to match the upholstery.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 27 February 2010

Subject: Return of Son of Reed 'em & weep

Mother,

Since you are so obsessed with my death, you can read a run-through, and see what an obituary is supposed to look like. Your cousin was a judge. Matilda was a cat. The sorrow each left behind weighs the same. The poetry & song Mur left us with are unknown to your brother Norman. My friends & I play music, write poetry, sing songs. We even know how to die.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 27 February 2010

Subject: Disarticulation

I am starting to be able to reread Nichelle's letters, slowly, painfully, in disarticulated fashion. My random thoughts:

"started getting skinny" I'm not sure why this phrase moves me.
"she quit eating" Idem.
"She deteriorated quickly." Idem.
"I knew last night." The last two words could either be a direct article [object], the object of knowledge, or a circumstantial complement of time. Either way, it is a chilling phrase.

No, I can't go on... It will have to wait.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 27 February 2010

Subject: The Quiet Next Time

Well, I can say this from my memory of the first reading of Murtilda's Passing: the sound is hushed, as if all of Nichelle's otherworldy creative gifts were temporarily put on hold by the crushing weight of her loss, as if she were channeling her inner Joy. I myself am still too broken to write much of a paragraph, so I'll just spam you for a few days until I recover my senses.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 27 February 2010

Subject: 100 Virgins

This is not true. You may not need to write them, but you have indeed inside a hundred sonnets o'love.

From: Nichelle

Date: 25 February 2010

Subject: Murtilda's Passing

I haven't got a hundred love sonnets in me or the need to write them.

From: Joy

Date: 27 February 2010

Subject: Re: 100 Virgins

The smallest deaths are the saddest, as they say. Nichelle, know that you are not alone in your grief, in your loss and in your love.

Joy

Wilfred Owen, Preface (c. 1918)

From: SAGReiss

Date: 28 February 2010

Subject: Rupert [& Wilfred]

I looked up "smallest deaths" and came up empty, except for some Brit whose name sounds like that of a poet who died at the Somme [sic, on 23 April 1915 in a French hospital ship moored in a bay off the island of Skyros in the Aegean Sea]. I'll take Joy's word for it, and the rhythm of those last three clauses.

"I sat with Rupert. At 4 o'clock he became weaker, and at 4:46 he died, with the sun shining all round his cabin, and the cool sea-breeze blowing through the door and the shaded windows. No one could have wished for a quieter or a calmer end than in that lovely bay, shielded by the mountains and fragrant with sage and thyme."

On 11 November 1985, Brooke was among 16 First World War poets commemorated on a slate monument unveiled in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner. The inscription on the stone was written by a fellow war poet, Wilfred Owen.

Preface

This book is not about heroes. English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except War. Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true War Poets must be truthful. If I thought the letter of this book would last, I might have used proper names; but if the spirit of it survives—survives Prussia—my ambition and those names will have achieved themselves fresher fields than Flanders.

Westminster Abbey, Poets' Corner, First World
                    War Memorial

From: Murder

Date: 28 February 2010

Subject: Dear Matilda

Mur, I never met you, but I felt as if I knew you through Nichelle's and Gabe's beautiful letters. You remain present with us through those letters and through the love and comfort you and Nichelle shared all those years. We are sad for those left behind, but we celebrate your eternal spirit.

Tom Waits Waltzing Matilda live 1977

Murder

From: SAGReiss

Date: 28 February 2010

Subject: Re: Dear Matilda

I've had a long day, but I'm listening to your Tom Waits link, John. I understand that he's got an amped-up mike, but how can he possibly get that sound out of his mouth, that is barely open? It don't look like he's lip synching. He doesn't look more than thirty years old. Where does that sound come from?

From: SAGReiss

Date: 9 March 2010

Subject: Return of Son of RIP

9 March 2010

Corinne: In memory of my grandmother Angeline. Rest in Peace Mamie...

Purcell - Dido's lament - Anne Sophie von Otter

When I am laid in Earth,
May my wrongs create
No trouble in thy breast;
Remember me,
But ah! forget my fate.

I am sorry, Cor(r)in(n)e & Eric.

We have been practicing obituaries of late, but your music is a welcome new addition to our repertoire.

The Autobiography of Mimosa by Joy

From: Joy

Date: 20 December 2001

Subject: livejournal.."It's been awhile...."

It's all a mess, the meds are failing. Or burn-out. Or something. Every day I feel myself become less and less rational, feeling my mind slip through my fingers, the rope (MY ROPE) burning (IS BURNING) the hands (MY HANDS).

The Fear taking grip, it's all out hand, it's been out of hand it's not going that well. Fortunately I only burst out into tears once (NO, MORE THAN ONCE) ok maybe more but that was from watching a movie (THEY STREAMED DOWN MY FACE, TASTING THE SALTY TEARS) but it was explainable (I SHOULD HAVE CHECKED FIRST, I NEVER EVEN BOTHERED TO ASK -- IN FACT I DIDN'T EVEN CARE) that's what i said, right?

The dreams, oh it was a spooky one today (THIS EVENING, I SLEPT ALL DAY) well it was during sometime today, it made me very uneasy. I basically knew something I shouldn't have known for reasons that aren't easy to explain (YES THEY ARE, I JUST DON'T WANT TO SAY THEM) you can see that i'm in a bit of a fix (IS IT SELF-IMPOSED? OR GENETIC? WRITTEN IN THE PAGES? IS THERE CHOICE INVOLVED? AND CAN YOU REALLY SAY THAT THERE IS STILL CHOICE INVOLVED WHEN DEALING WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS?) yes a bit of a fix i am in, you see

So Friday when i freaked out so horribly and my friends nearly took me to the hospital (IT WOULD HAVE BEEN HORRIBLE) but i managed to reach out (TO MIMOSA) and struggle back /into/ The World after snapping so violently from it. (YOU MEAN COMPLETELY LIMP. COMPLETELY COMATOSE.) but i was still there! i was inside, looking out, unable to do anything, you know how it is... when the pain is just too great.

I was suggested Vitamin B12. Some of it is environment (EVERYONE WITH THEIR OWN AGENDA, OWN IDEAS), unfortunately i'm so dysfunctional I'm not sure how much I trust myself to be alone, but I'm also so fragile that I have a hard time hearing myself, Feeling the gut feeling, of what *I* want to do about the situation. It's hard to hear over The Fear. It's hard to hear over my well-intentioned friends. But more than that, it's hard to hear over The FEAR.

so right now i'm sitting here, depressed, fretting, guilty (GUILTY AS HELL) about my cats (MY POOR CATS, PROBABLY TERRIBLY DEHYDRATED BORED AND LONELY. WITH A DIRTY LITTERBOX.) I've been trying for the past few days to get to them, but no one here will drop me off at my place, I apparently have the worst timing (THE WORST TIMING IN THE WORLD).

I haven't checked my email in awhile (IN AGES). I should probably respond..

I think that my family is so dysfunctional that we're cancelling xmas. Everyone is under too much stress as it is.

(THERE IS NO SAFE PLACE. NOT EVEN AT HOME. NOT SAFE FROM MYSELF. NOT SAFE FROM ANYONE ELSE.) It may be safer by myself than with anyone else. Always trying to get me to do things, all I want to do is sleep. (BUT I'M FORGETTING WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LIVE) Sigh. I don't know. The dream still bothers me. It was long. There was a painful journey involved. There may have been many dreams. I am so very tired.

(SO VERY VERY TIRED)

From: Joy

Date: 30 August 2007

Subject: Re: Old Times' Sake

Mimosa

Yesterday, I went for a little 3 hour adventure with my cat. Mimosa is perhaps not the brightest feline I have ever known, but even for her she was being a bit oblivious. With one hand I was scratching under her chin, while with the other I was constructing her travel cage. Her vision, which has never been very good, appears to be in a state of decline. I've always attributed her poor depth perception to the fact that she's slightly cross-eyed.

Mimosa is a goofball of a cat. She's not very "catlike" - there's no sense of mystery or grace. Her idea of a good time is to binge on cat food, and then to go crash out in another nap. At times she'll climb into my lap. Being part Siamese, she's adorably vocal, although this trait isn't quite so appealing when we're stuck in traffic and my car has no AC.

She is, at times, noisy and gregarious - charming my few visitors with wild charisma. Yet she also displays great anxiety and will cower in fear from these same visitors the very next week. I haven't yet been able to chart a logical pattern to explain her neurotic tendencies.

At 3 am the night before I noticed that one of her giant canines was in trouble again. She's already had two removed. I accidentally bumped the edge and it moved, as she lay curled in my lap. Horrified, I knew that it was time for another journey to the vet.

There was a blessedly light rain as we crawled through traffic. The weather eased what would've been unbearable - an asthmatic and an elderly cat both slowly dying in the August heat. I counted my blessings as the clock ticked by. Mimosa didn't mind the slow speeds and seemed to enjoy all the new smells. A strictly indoor cat, her exposure to smell is fairly limited, although my neighbors do their part...

The traffic is still achingly slow, and the office has almost closed by the time we arrive. The vet has some kind of speech impediment, but seems competent enough. They suggest that we go ahead and pull out her fang, to which I agree (it is now proudly displayed in my apartment in a little bottle). Mimosa was shaking she was so scared when she was returned to my arms. I opened up the carrier and she fled to safety, as the vet and I calmly talked of medications and care for aged cats.

Eventually we climbed back into my old slightly-beloved Honda. Although I had hoped that the traffic would be kinder to us, once again we were stuck crawling at the bumpers. Mimosa was relieved and relaxed, thankful to be returning home.

I don't try to pretend that Mimosa is my child. "Babytalk" isn't my forte, and I don't think that anthropomorphizing pets is appropriate. I do find, however, that a quiet and fierce instinct surrounds my love for her. The idea of someone or something hurting her instantly transforms me from someone quiet and docile to a seething bloodthirsty glob out for revenge. This may be as close as I ever get to expressing a maternal instinct.

I can't - and won't - pretend that I can relate my experiences as a custodian of cats to those of Gabe's traumatic parenthood. But there are similarities in the experience of love, or attachment for, a being that you feel a fierce duty to protect. It's not something you can argue with, or explain away. You lay awake at night with a head full of worry. You gladly shell out every penny you have to house, feed, and care. You may even find yourself buying stupid things, hoping she might like them.

Mimosa only has a few more years left on this planet, a thought that probably plagues me more than is healthy. Her unconditional love is renewing, fantastic, and steadies my patience when I'm cleaning up her vomit off the carpet. There are no expectations that she will develop and grow and live beyond my years, nor do we have to watch our love be tested by the interference of other people or the courts.

So, best of luck to you Gabe. Mimosa and I will be rooting for you.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 30 August 2007

Subject: Re: Mimosa

Joy, Freude, I am weeping speachlessly. What a magnificent letter. It is so quiet, so understated. The rhythm lilts gently. I linger over each perfectly-chosen word. I have nothing to say. You've said it all. [...]

From: SAGReiss

Date: 30 August 2007

Subject: So long as men can breathe and eyes can see,

I picture Joy as an Oriental woman huddled in a corner staring down madness personified and hissing through clenched teeth: "No, I will not be thine." I know it mustn't always be like that, nor even often, I hope, but I feel sure this has happened. The precision of detail, the canine of a feline, we will remember this forever. Thank you, Joy. That letter was a great act of courage, and a welcome gift to a man in need. So long lives this, Mimosa, and this gives life to thee.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 31 August 2007

Subject: Misunderstanding

[...] I keep coming back to Joy's letter, which I may never reread and will never forget. I wrote: "The rhythm lilts gently." I could have gone on: "like an old cat with a sore hip." [...]

From: SAGReiss

Date: 31 August 2007

Subject: False Positive

[...] Joy wrote about the sad sunset of Mimosa. I believe that Joy loves Mimosa, but I don't really know. I love cats, all cats, so I remember that Joy had another cat called Ginkgo. This morning, as I smoked a cigarette out the window while waiting for the telephone company workers to come install my landline, a homeless French cat called out to me. I answered in English, but I don't think he or she knows the difference between human languages. We understood. I probably love Joy's cats more than John Milton ever loved the man whose name everyone has forgotten, but whom he immortalized in the poem Lycidas. [...]

The Life & Death of Gingko by Joy

From: Joy

Date: 17 September 1996

Subject: hiber nation

[...] i took Gingko to the vet sat morning, i felt so horrible about it. i'm glad i enlisted my younger brother to help me take her, i never could have d.o...n......e it otherwise. she saw us look at her.. she knew.. she's not very intelligent, but she's not stupid like the dog next door (it's named Hershey. i hate it. i growl at it whenever it gets near. it still pants) i unlocked the doors to the car while David nabbed gink. while driving on the way there, Gingko decided that the best place to be was under the brake pedal.. so David used the emergency brake in synch with my driving. we were on a highway, this was a completely non stress situation, as you can imagine. once i stopped the car at the vet i looked down at Gingko and she looked absolutely deifterri. i could see her little chest heaving like hummingbird wings.. i sat there, feeling like an executioner as David and i tried to extract her from beneath the brake pedal. at one point i almost had here completely out, and David told me to grab my flannel so we could wrap her in it (keep her paws in so she couldn't get out of my arms so easily) i went for my shirt, simultaneously Gink managed to climb further up behind the brake pedal. she meowed a 'fuck-you-i'm-in-pain' meow, she had REALLY wedged herself in behind the pedal. i felt like hitler as i pushed down the gas pedal to try to get her out.. once we had her in the building and in the examination room, i put her down on the table. she then half dragged herself over to where the table hit the wall.. i had never seen her do anything like it before.. the vet called it 'slinking'. Gingko is not a 'slinking' type cat. but she suddenly becomes one at the vet's. she left a trail of shed fur across the table. actually in the exam room took a max of 5 minutes. then while i was holding Gingko and David was trying to get the tags, bill shit this Huge Dog is being shoved into the waiting room. i try to turn gingko to keep her from seeing, but she can still hear.. David helps me to get her into the car, and he goes back to get the paperwork.. i drove back and when we got home she was really spooked about getting out of the car. we let her get out on her own, instead of pulling her out of the car (she'd had enough trauma for one day).. Gingko doesn't like being picked up at all.. nor does she like sitting in laps..

i feel horrible about Gingko b/c i feel like i'm completely neglecting her. First off, i used to take her driving every now and then. so riding in the car wasn't a huge trauma for her. but she hasn't been in a car for a long time, since i was banned from driving for a yr and only a few months ago was able to drive. and i'm here at school, not at home (a half hr away) Secondly, when i first got Gingko at the pound, we got this little coupon type thing to get her first shots done at this vet that was right next door to the pound. it wasn't our usual vet of the past 20 yrs but hey, what the hell. i'll never forget how Gingko was curled up inside my flannel, shaking so frantically... i think the vet who gave her the shots at this place didn't know where the hell to put the needle, b/c Gingko screamed this horrible scream (i've been to countless take-the-cat (s)-to-the-vet, never heard anything like this before in my Life) and the needles were put in places that didn't look right.. unfamiliar needle targets to my untrained but veteran cat owning eyes. i feel horribly guilty about that... always will..

yes, i can go on and on, esp about Gingko, haven't you icednot? i miss her dearly.. even all of the cathairs on my clothes (i Like cat hairs on my clothes, don't ask why).. the vet flat out told me that she was 'fat'. oops. she insists on eating mostly canned stinky smelly food, which also happens to be really calorie-laden. i can't keep watch over these kinds of things like her diet and exercise since i don't live there.. (more guilt). and i don't know what i'm going to do with her once i move - she needs lots of woods and outside areas to play in.. (even more guilt) writing all of this is really crashing my fragile mood. i'm feeling sleepy now.. off to Fuzzy Blanket again...

oh yeah, i heard last night that some guy on Lambdamoo blew his brains out. unfortunately he sounded like he was one of the cooler people on there...oh well...

From: Joy

Date: 12 April 1999

Subject: Re: The pickle treatment

[...] Currently trying to stave off the flu. The cat is being pushy but i don't want to open the door for her b/c it was open for several hours and she didn't go out and thene there was <THUMP> [crash] and we were both spooked -- did someone come inside? There i was, sick, cutting mp split ends completely naked on the bed by the cat. She is currently walking over the monitor and checking the painting/sculpture thing on the wall for bugs... and for hidden passageways in the fake wood paneling.. making the most pathetic little mrow you've ever heard. Of course, if i would be so stupid as to actually try to pet her, she would attack my hand. Ah, my Gingko, a study in contrasts.

i give up. she wins. like she does everytime.

-joy

From: SAGReiss

Date: 30 August 2009

Subject: Saving for Posterity

Nichelle: The post-game fireworks usually delight me, but the fact that they set off dozens of car alarms always does.

Joy likes this.

SAGReiss: "fire-" & "-light", "doz-" & "does", "-all-" & "al-" & "al-", no one else can write like this.

Some may think Joy & I overstate our case, but they are wrong. There are plenty of synonyms of "delight". I don't think Nichelle counted the cars. She could have said: "tens" or "scores" or "many" or left the quantifier out. She could have said: "often". She could have said nothing. I don't know what kind of games are played in [her town], if any, nor if there are really any post-game fireworks, and I don't care. Perhaps Nichelle doesn't even live [there], although I can't imagine a more appropriate name for her city. Do I think that Nichelle was thinking of phonetics when she wrote that, at an hour so late I would already be waking up at that time? Yes, I do, but it don't matter. Her mind knows how to do this, whether or not she was thinking or just tired and banging on the keyboard. I don't care if Matilda typed it.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 12 September 2009

Subject: Dust My Rim

[...] Joy happy - Mimosa's diet has paid off, she no longer resembles a furry basketball (or a seal), and as a result her arthritis/joints don't seem to be bothering her so much! Her former waddle has been replaced with a cat-like gait. She uses her newfound motility to check the catbowl for more food, more frequently.

SAGReiss: When will you quit nursing school and write the biography of Ginkgo & Mimosa?

The word "motility" here is especially perfect. Also "a furry basketball (or a seal)", "waddle", "cat-like gait" which resists the temptation to latinize and write "feline", "catbowl", and "more food, more frequently". [...]

From: SAGReiss

Date: 13 September 2009

Subject: Fwd: Joy Lew also commented on her status...

To be honest, Joy, I believe that you have the best chance of any of us of actually selling a book. What you write may be read conventionally, although it bears up to the closest reading, whereas what Nichelle & I write often cannot. I Googled Howard before I called him Nichelle's boss, which she tells me he isn't quite, and sure he is a smart man. Nichelle's sentence could simply not be read conventionally. Please just let me know whenever you do plan to do this, so I can preorder the book on Amazon. I would like nothing more than to read a five-hundred-page biography of Ginkgo & Mimosa, and I bet a lot of other people would too. I am not joking. AJ Rawlings, or whatever the cunt's name is, is one of the richest women on Earth. The mildest compliment I could ever give you is that you are an infinitely better writer than AJ Rawlings. Just a joke to honor the memory of Andre Keller, who once said: "Why do they [feminine] bring their husbands to dinner? When I take a woman to dinner, I never bring her husband." laurent, who may be in pre-, semi-, temporary, or even full, permanent retirement, is a past master in the art of seducing, or at least trying to seduce, his friends' lovers (presumedly feminine also). It didn't bother me. He's my friend. Why shouldn't he try to seduce my lover? That just shows we share good taste. Would I try to seduce his wife, if (I thought) I had a chance? Um, yes.

From: Joy

Date: 13 September 2009

Subject: Re: Joy Lew also commented on her status...

I'm afraid I'm barely awake, so I grokked some small percentage of that. Thank you for the kind words, in any case. As I am certain that the world needs more literature regarding cats, I thought I'd let you all know that Gingko passed away several years ago. It was a long and grueling death, she managed to die with as much grace as any creature can. Gingko was, and forever will be, a cat's cat. Her eyes were green and intelligent, and she would only tolerate minimal displays of physical affection. Mimosa is almost as unlike Gingko as any thing could be. Her dark blue eyes quiver (you can see this if you look closely enough) but they never seem to focus. The vet tells me she will soon have cataracts, but frankly she's never seen well. Her greatest attribute is her sheer charisma, and a close second would be her Siamese heritage - it encourages the most vocal conversations. Mimosa is the master of comic timing, and the 5 am opera. She has grown bold and proud, in the absence of Gingko. My husband, Vince, has declared her the most spoiled of kitties, yes, and while I disagree he may not be /too/ terribly off.

However, that is not the end of the story, for Vince himself has two kitties. While my cats were named after my favorite trees, his cats are named purely descriptively - Big Kitty ("Bigness") and Little Kitty ("Littleness" or "Tiny"). Nevermind that he's a gardener... Bigness is as sweet as gentle a kitty you could ever meet. She has Gingko's large frame, and a gorgeous coat. As my brother would say, however, "she's dumb as a box of rocks" - I'd view this characterization as unkind, or at least irrelevant, for what she lacks in intellect she more than makes up for it in her heart. She will climb up your body and hug you like the sweetest child... then try to climb on your shoulders... clawing you all the way across your upper back struggling to stay on... it is all very sweet, except for the bloodcurdling screams when her claw digs in just the right way to a nerve. Little Kitty, is the most alpha feline I've ever met. She was always frighteningly skinny, until we had her fixed and now she has delightfully plumped up. A scrappy little thing, she will dominate animals of much greater size than her, and tangles with her ex-boyfriend from across the street. He has poor manners in any case, but I'll save real mention of him for another time.

I think it is soon time for bed, nearing 6 am, however I will mention that I'm not so much of writing these days but I am fascinated by the changes to my speech and the private language I've been forming with Vince. My favorite term is probably 'MCU' for Mobile Cuddle Unit, so a text would look like: ILY MCU XOXO. This amuses me, and I find some amount of sweetness mixed in with the utter absurdity.

Night!

Joy and the ghost of Gingko and Mimosa and Bigness and Tiny, and of course, my MCU.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 13 September 2009

Subject: Ginkgo & Mimosa & Murtilda

Obviously, I would also love to read a five-hundred-page biography of Murtilda, but we all know just how different those two equally fascinating books would be, and that Howard could only read Ginkgo & Mimosa. Maybe Amazon might give me a discount when I preorder both. Joy's letter has just made me weep ("alpha feline" a perfect [-ph- & f-], and necessary, greco-latinism, just as "cat-like gait" was a perfect [c- & -k], and necessary, saxonism) and so much more. But this letter would also make Howard weep, and my mother weep, and everyone else's mother weep, and this is the point I was trying to make. Since we're on the subject, and I know you're all wondering, we just might be able to build the cantillation database, if only Ted can stay out of jail for the next six months. I was completely wrong about him. Despite extreme, debilitating eccentricities, he is a bad programmer, a hard worker, and a disciplined man. I'll try to bother only laurent & Murder about this in the future. I might bother negatron too, but I doubt he'll answer me.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 13 September 2009

Subject: Re: Joy Lew also commented on her status...

I'll put my commentary in interlinear format, but I'll only break up the text after a full stop.

On 13 September 2009, Joy wrote:

I'm afraid I'm barely awake, so I grokked some small percentage of that. Thank you for the kind words, in any case. As I am certain that the world needs more literature regarding cats, I thought I'd let you all know that Gingko passed away several years ago.

We all catch the literary reference. I would guess that most of you, being musicians, caught yesterday's reference to Dust My Broom, but maybe not the reference to Ask the Dust,  & Job 30:19 "He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes." It don't matter. You can't have read exactly what I've read.

The world needs more cat literature, which is precisely my point. You are just the woman to give it to us.

So it was Mimosa who had the feline canine tooth ache in 2007? I didn't need to look that up. I still remember the cybercafe where I read that letter, and wept.

It was a long and grueling death, she managed to die with as much grace as any creature can.

We should all hope to be so lucky.

Gingko was, and forever will be, a cat's cat. Her eyes were green and intelligent, and she would only tolerate minimal displays of physical affection. Mimosa is almost as unlike Gingko as any thing could be. Her dark blue eyes quiver (you can see this if you look closely enough) but they never seem to focus.

Can we (readers) see this now, if we look closely enough into your words, or could we (people) do so only if we were looking into Mimosa's eyes? This is delicious ambiguity.

The vet tells me she will soon have cataracts, but frankly she's never seen well.

It is love, of a cat or a child (or a text), that makes one pay such close attention to its slightest movement as to be able to infer its eyesight. Rose has very good night vision, and good vision generally. She also has the best ears in a family of near-deaf people. I hope she has her mother's sense of smell, but not too much else.

Her greatest attribute is her sheer charisma, and a close second would be her Siamese heritage - it encourages the most vocal conversations.

This is like Dumas' character's stepping out of a room and a conversation that I noted also in that awful summer of 2007, a beautiful conjunction of incongruous elements, charisma & heritage.

Mimosa is the master of comic timing, and the 5 am opera. She has grown bold and proud, in the absence of Gingko.

Listen to: "grown", "bold", "proud". This is just taking perfect advantage of the sounds of our language.

My husband, Vince, has declared her the most spoiled of kitties, yes, and while I disagree he may not be /too/ terribly off.

Another husband? Is this contagious? It sounds like an epidemic. You all didn't used to be so married. Let me warn you in advance, I only look at (and try to send you) esthetically pleasing baby pics, and not cute ones. Please save those for Facebook.

Notice that as soon as Joy's mind turns from the cats to her husband, she falls asleep and the text noticeably deteriorates.

However, that is not the end of the story, for Vince himself has two kitties. While my cats were named after my favorite trees, his cats are named purely descriptively - Big Kitty ("Bigness") and Little Kitty ("Littleness" or "Tiny"). Nevermind that he's a gardener... Bigness is as sweet as gentle a kitty you could ever meet. She has Gingko's large frame, and a gorgeous coat. As my brother would say, however, "she's dumb as a box of rocks" - I'd view this characterization as unkind, or at least irrelevant, for what she lacks in intellect she more than makes up for it in her heart.

This is still good: "unkind", "irrelevant", "intellect", "heart". The rhythm of the sentence is right too, except for the words "it" and "her", which must be deleted for a number of fairly obvious reasons.

She will climb up your body and hug you like the sweetest child... then try to climb on your shoulders... clawing you all the way across your upper back struggling to stay on... it is all very sweet, except for the bloodcurdling screams when her claw digs in just the right way to a nerve.

This has promise, but needs work on the rhythm. The second-person irony is back, but there's something wrong with the end of the sentence. The word "to" is jarring. Maybe it should be: "her claw digs into a nerve in just the right way."

Little Kitty, is the most alpha feline I've ever met.

Ah, this great phrase.

She was always frighteningly skinny, until we had her fixed and now she has delightfully plumped up.

I guess Nichelle taught Joy how to use the word "light", in this case as an oxymoron, which is foreshadowed by the adverb "frighteningly", and you all know I hate adverbs. This is why we exchange letters, flying/stolen letters.

A scrappy little thing, she will dominate animals of much greater size than her, and tangles with her ex-boyfriend from across the street. He has poor manners in any case, but I'll save real mention of him for another time.

I regretted here that you didn't write "ex-bf", which I think would have humanized the text even more, although "poor manners" does this rather well.

I think it is soon time for bed, nearing 6 am, however I will mention that I'm not so much of writing these days but I am fascinated by the changes to my speech and the private language I've been forming with Vince. My favorite term is probably 'MCU' for Mobile Cuddle Unit, so a text would look like: ILY MCU XOXO. This amuses me, and I find some amount of sweetness mixed in with the utter absurdity.

Night!

Joy and the ghost of Gingko and Mimosa and Bigness and Tiny, and of course, my MCU.

A magnificent letter, especially if written through fatigue, though it looks like a spell-check was in use, unless Joy is a very good tired typist. I rest my case. If you can write this at six o'clock in the morning, you can write a best-seller that is also a masterpiece of literary art. Quit nursing school, send the husband thing on vacation, and get to work.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 13 September 2009

Subject: The Alpha Feline

Sorry, I obviously forgot to write the correct title to my last letter.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 14 September 2009

Subject: More Light

Not to belabor a dead horse, but once again I'd like to eviscerate the eventual argument, even if made by Joy herself, that the awesome beauty of her letter was somehow an accident, unintentional, not the result of the author's hard work, since she may have been very sleepy anyway when she wrote the text. That is like saying the Grand Canyon is less beautiful for being the result of some dumb rocks colliding. Why is that supposed to matter to me? It don't. Howard & my mother (I am unaware of any connection between the two.) would not have made any of my observations about the text, because they don't know how to read, though they would have loved it anyway. But they are observations, not my opinion, which I would keep to myself, if indeed I had one, which I don't. I am simply reading the letter, and making explicit what is already there implicitly. When it says: "(you can see this if you look closely enough)", there is no conditional, subjunctive, or past tense, to make the phrase hypothetical. Both verbs are in the present indicative. That is a fact of grammar. What this irrefutably means is that I, the reader, can see this right now, if I look closely enough at some unspecified object, which might be my imagination or the words of the text itself. Yes, Joy did not invent the words "grown", "bold", and "proud", but Shakes didn't invent the words of his sonnets. (He saved his neologisms for the plays.) S/he simply found the words s/he needed in the existing language and put them in such an order and context as to call our attention to their sounds, to make them sing for us. And the "alpha feline", I haven't finished with that phrase yet. (A quick check of Google tells me that Joy did invent this expression.) The "alpha fe-" leads the reader's mind to extrapolate "alpha female", which would be a more conventional antonym of "alpha male". This is not a trick. This is forcing words to be meaningful in new combinations. And last, the wonderful internal rhyme/oxymoron, "fright", "skinny", "light", "plump". Joy commented on Nichelle's Facebook post before I did. The word "(de)light" took flight in Nichelle's mind, alighted upon Joy's, and reignited here.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 24 September 2009

Subject: l- -g gr- d- m- c-

In a bit of a lull, while waiting for the shitrain that will happen as soon as the Order of Doctors contacts Dr Telseau (which phonetically means "such an idiot", for those of you in the television audience, his real name being Sautel, with an inversion of syllables and slight orthographic adjustment), I was rereading Joy's mail, which is such a, well, joy. I seem to have missed this phrase:

It was a long and grueling death, she managed to die with as much grace as any creature can.

We should all hope to be so lucky.

Flaubert might have written this sentence, and for all I know he did. It begins with "the deadening 'C'était...'", and then spins this beautiful phonetic web of sound. The l- and -g in "long" are picked up in "grueling". The gr- in grueling is picked up in "grace". The morpheme "death" is picked up in "die". The m- in "managed" is picked up in "much". And the phrase ends with a beautiful alliteration: "creature can". I defy anyone to write better than this. It can't be done.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 24 September 2009

Subject: Fwd: l- -g gr- d- m- c-

The closest readers among you will have noticed that this should have been:

l- -ng gr- d- m- c-

and:

The l- and -ng in "long" are picked up in "grueling".

I am not spamming you. This is important to me, and perhaps to you too. Joy's writing, and Gingko's life & death, are worth more care than even I can bestow upon them.

SAGReiss