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An Ode to Emma


Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does—Emma, Jane Austen

Sometimes I see the signs—little tendencies that remind me of my grandma.

In her 80s, she could have certainly been considered the “cat lady” of East Los Angeles, after she collected the neighborhood strays and formed a gang of raggedy, wily cats and a few dogs that would march in and out of her home day and night. In her older age, she became increasingly quirky and wildly attached to those animals (and they to her).

It’s really too early to tell, but still, I wonder if maybe—along with the staunch independence, the lips and the bluntness—the cat obsession might be genetic.

I grew up with dogs and cats and a ferret who gave us love bites on our toes. During college, I was too selfish to take care of anything alive (including house plants), and I slowly forgot those nice things that pets do for a home. But one snowy day a few years ago, it hit me: I missed the simple, true companionship and reciprocity of having a pet.

I dropped by the local cat rescue a couple days later and found myself in a room filled with, not surprisingly, lots and lots of cats…and even a few dogs that thought they were cats. I browsed—window-shopping through the controlled chaos of cages, litter boxes and a choir of mewing. Kitten paws reached out and tapped me as I wandered by, and old, wise cats named Thor and Vesuvius looked past me with regal patronization.

When I saw Emma, I knew she must be mine. She had been around for months, dropped off by a family whose house had gone in to foreclosure. They had to give up their pets when they moved into an apartment. “We didn’t think anyone would take her,” the lady told me. “She’s always up there.” Emma liked to climb, and she spent most of her time sitting on a shelf high above any potential adopters. But there was—as they say—just something about her, and I came back to get her the next weekend. “She’s so independent,” a different volunteer at the rescue told me. “Plus, I have no idea how we’ll get her down.”

I waited. Eventually she came down.

Truth be told, at times she’s overly adventurous and wickedly vengeful. She makes horrible messes. She spends her nights trying to wake me up, pressing her cold nose to my cheek or nuzzling her fuzzy head under my hand. She rips up newspapers—of which I have a lot—and she happily kicks dainty pieces of jewelry off dresser-tops and under furniture. She’s so fuzzy that she must be groomed in the summer (a “lion’s cut” might be the cutest thing of all time…I laugh and laugh and laugh and then Emma gets back at me by spilling something). She loves to get in the refrigerator, and she’ll hang out on top of the shower door. She’s quirky.

Emma has become an amazing part of my life. She makes the day-to-day a little bit better, a little more fun and a lot
more funny.

So, it’s with this understanding and true appreciation that I offer up our annual pet issue, an ode to the animals that make our lives just a little bit better. I would dedicate this issue to Emma—but I can’t succumb to those “cat lady” tendencies just yet. So, instead, this goes out to my grandma, a woman who could appreciate the quirks in life, no matter how shabby, mischievous or hungry they were.


email no info send march17th/09

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