Monday, February 8, 2010

Task 22: Open Your Heart

On Friday, as I walked to my grandparents' house to see if my grandmother had any more sequins and stones for me to put on my shirt to really make it dazzling (and by dazzling I mean holy tacky shirt of excellence batman), I was thinking about this very task. Getting involved, helping others, charity work. I was originally going to donate to Haiti relief; my contribution as well as funds my boyfriend transferred to my account to give on his behalf. Not to sound crass and uncaring but I think Haiti has enough right now. Millions have been donated and pending their government doesn't screw it up, I think they're, for the time being, set. I wanted to donate to maybe St. Jude's, a charity that helps kids with leukemia and other types of cancer. I'm not a big kid person, I mean, I'm more likely to say gross when I see a baby than awww cute but I don't like them to be sick, it makes my heart hurt. The other thing I thought I could do is volunteer at the animal shelter. I love animals in a way that makes Lenny from Of Mice and Men and Elmyra from Tiny Toons seem calm and restrained. I mean, I don't squeeze them to death but I do need to touch them and hug them and love them. Okay sometimes I squeeze but it's funny, she starts growling and then swatting. I will pet any animal that comes my way, I will always go play with the hundreds of stray cats we have in Istanbul and I will never shy away from holding any animal. I've love cats since I was a little girl and taught my grandparent's neighbors kittens to come wheneer I leaned over the fence and went psss pss pss. I squeal at the sight of hamsters and guinea pigs and would love to tickle a chinchilla. I've spent whole hours staring at the lizards and snakes and iguanas at the Petco in Boston where I get my own kitty's food. I adopted Egg from Elliot's mom when they couldn't keep her and she is the epitome of a Leyla cat. She hugs me, I hug her back. I kiss her probably 40 times a day. She kisses me back. I put my head on her side and kiss her paws and her kitty cheeks and she purrs and licks my nose and eyelids. I yell at her and tell her off and she answers me back. Yes I talk to my cat but she understand me perfectly I know, she's smart when she wants to be. We fall asleep together and whenever I'm sitting down writing or reading or just curled up watching TV, she will come and squash herself against me, push her butt against me and start purring, wanting me to rub her as she relaxes too.

Except, sometimes I care too much.

When I was walking back from browsing my grandmother's drawers (no sequins but she later sent me a big packet of beads), I saw this little kitten just standing on the sidewalk. She was a typical Turkish stray cat, yellow and white, with big amber eyes but she also had a flea collar. And she was little. Not tiny, but only about 4 months or so. I picked her up, she let me willingly, and stroked her and she was all purrs and clambering all over me. I rang the doorbell of the house I found her in front of but she wasn't theirs. I left her in the garden of the apartment next door where it was safer than the road she was wandering on(what else could I do?), and started walking. But something didn't sit right with me and I walked back and found her back on the street, jumping at every loud noise, and attempting to dash straight for the construction trucks. So I picked her up and headed home. After holding her and looking lost and confused for about 10 minutes in the middle of the street.

The next hour my sister and I stared perpelexedly at the friendliest kitten in the world as she explored all the tiny hiding places in our bedrooms. Egg of course got all mad and jealous and I had to give her some canned food and make her stay away because she is a spoiled little princess who expects love and respect in the form of vast amounts of food. I named the kitten Die Hard because she was so prone to jumping into on-coming traffic and because my friend Mike had jokingly christened my old roommate's cat Die Hard with a Vengeance once and well, it's funny and fitting.

I fell in love with her. There are probably thousands of cats just like her, not just in our neighborhood but all over Turkey, but she was different. She pulled at my heartstrings and I've just never met a friendlier, more loving cat. Mina and I tried to leave her in our backyard just to see if she'd be all right. My aunt has sort of set up a cat hotel with clubhouses and pillows and we have a gang of cats that just live and hang out in our garden but I couldn't leave Die Hard. She was too little and all the other cats were already surrounding us. Egg and my mom objected to her being in the house so I called the vet and arranged to come drop her off. She settled comfortably in my arms and rested her head on my hand in the car to the vet. Didn't even flinch or jump when the car went over potholes or speeded up.

At the vet there was a call from someone looking for a cat and my heart jumped and I got so hopeful, but it wasn't for my little kitten. I paid for her care and a week's food and stay at the vet and when I was leaving, I had to put her in a cage and she was so quiet and confused and tired looking. Amongst all the other yells and growls of grown up cats she was just a little innocent baby and even the vet said she'd be in danger outside. She'd get raped or beat up by the male cats. Typical. It's always the male of the species that has to ruin everything. Pshht, boys. God.

Anyway, I came home and I don't know if it was hormones or just the fact that I'm a pathetic cat lady but I burst into tears. All I wanted was a hug from my boyfriend because he's even more of a bleeding heart than I am about animals (I at least grew up in Turkey, strays are something we get used to, he didn't). But of course he's in stupid Iraq so I had to describe what happened to Die Hard (yes, I name cats creatively. Better than Pamuk or Midnight or whatever lame cat names are de rigeur in Turkey and America) over skype as I sniffled and bawled. He of course understood perfectly and said all the things that I needed to hear.

Yes, as I keep writing, there are millions of cats (notice how the number goes up every time) that are exactly like Die Hard but I believe there was a reason I found her, there was a reason I walked a block back to check on her, and there was a reason why she came to me. If people can believe in love at first sight or soulmates, which I personally don't, then I can believe there's a connection between me and something as simple as a stray cat. I truly believe there was something about her that connected her to me. She made me feel a little tug in my heart that none of the other cats ever do. Besides my Egglet. I know it, I play with them in the yard and at the park and on Istiklal street everyday. I can calmly say bye bye after I pet them and hold them a bit and not cry like a pansy over the fact that they'll be falling asleep on the street in a few hours. You get a tougher skin when you see stuff everyday. Even if it's just animals and not like limbless kids begging on the street. But things can break the exterior and everyone has their soft spot and animals are mine.

I've been trying to find Die Hard a home. I put up fliers around my neighborhood today on the off chance she did actually belong to someone. After all, she did have a flea collar when I found her, someone had to have put it on her. The looks I got from some people. Sheesh, it's a piece of paper and I only hung up 10 by the main roads and around the area I found her! You'd think by their expressions I was spray- painting in big, bold, black letters, I will eat your delicious babies. On a Mosque. On Ramazan.

I'm going to check up on her sometime this week and maybe pay for another two weeks of board because at least she's safe and warm at the vet. It;s 15 lira a day but I have the money and I can afford it, I think it's worth it. I hope she gets adopted. There really is no cat like her despite what people might say. She's sweet and friendly, and timid and brave at the same time. She's trusting. What cat do you know is just ready to put her life in the hands of some human that picked her off the street? Not many, believe me. With all the playing with cats comes all the chasing them and trying to get them to come closer too.

This is what I care about. Politics, wars, starving children, whatever. Everyone has their passion and so what if mine is animals? No I'm not a vet or a zookeeper but there's nothing wrong with caring so much that your heart aches. That's what makes you human.


  1. I really wish I could take her in. I am not usually a huge cat person, but I want her so badly. Unfortunately, finances are tight right now. I tried to convince my sister, because she is dying for a cat, but her finances are worse than mine...

  2. I know, I understand. I appreciate greatly though.


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