The State of the Kitty Union
My new book comes out next week--so before all the craziness starts, a general update on Homer and his health!
I'm thrilled to be able to report that Homer is doing well. Exceptionally well. Unbelievably well, given the dire predictions the doctors gave me a few weeks ago. He's eating like a champ, playing a bit (perhaps not as frequently or vigorously as he did a few years ago, but he's an old man after all), and cuddling and purring like crazy. Laurence goes out every single day--even Sundays--to get Homer fresh deli turkey, because Homer has expressed a clear preference for fresh, moist turkey over turkey that's even a day old. Homer has become very mistrustful of anybody who isn't me since that horrible experience at the vet's office, and unfortunately that means he won't let Laurence (or the kittens, for that matter) pet him or even get too close. I can't help wishing he'd show Laurence a teensy bit of gratitude, since Laurence waits in that loooong line at the deli every day for Homer's sake. Still, Laurence gets a huge kick out of seeing Homer eat so enthusiastically, and when Homer hears Laurence's voice he does start sniffing eagerly on the ground, "looking" for the treats he's come to associate with Laurence's presence. Laurence gets a kick out of that, too. So I suppose the two of them have their own understanding between them that makes them both happy, even if it perplexes me a bit. ;-)
As you know (at least, I hope you know!) my new book--LOVE SAVES THE DAY--comes out on Tuesday of this week. (Eep!!!) A few of you have expressed concern over my leaving Homer (given his current health) to go on my proposed 15-city book tour of no-kill shelters instead of bookstores. Even when the concern is critical of me (;-p), I'm always genuinely touched and grateful for all the concern people have for Homer,and his happiness and well-being. So I wanted to take a moment and address some of those concerns here.
Let me start out by saying that the tour won't commence until April or May. I want plenty of time to work out the logistics, and of course to see a bit of warmer weather in the shelters I visit up north. I don't know what will be with Homer's health four or five months from now--four or five months ago, he was fit as a fiddle!--and have decided not to worry about that right now more than I can help. And Homer's been on such a wonderful upward trajectory these last couple of weeks that I'm cautiously optimistic that his health will continue to improve in the months to come.
I'll also say that my plan is to visit the shelters on the tour at the rate of about one a week, so that I get to spend some quality time at each shelter--which means a) that the tour will take place over a few months, and b) that I shouldn't be gone from Homer more than two or three days at a time. That may end up stretching out a bit by the time I get to the west coast, as it may not make sense--for example--to fly out to Seattle, fly back to New York two or three days later, and then a few days after that fly back out to San Francisco. Again, though, we'll see where everything stands at that point (I may not make it out west until July) and make decisions that make sense at that point.
In a more general sense, though--and perhaps this is me being defensive or rationalizing things--the simple reality is that this is what I do for a living. One of the many tremendous benefits in doing what I do is that I get to work from home. For the past five years or so, and with the exception of a handful of brief trips, I've been able to spend about 21 hours a day every day with Homer right by my side. Having spent the past three years pretty much continually nursing elderly cats through things like chronic renal failure, cancer, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, liver infections, IBS (and more!), I've come to appreciate this luxury all the more. I've heard from many, many, many readers over the past couple of years who've nursed their own cats through similar illnesses, and never fail to marvel at how utterly, painfully difficult it must be to do so for those who also have to be in an office eight to ten hours a day.
When I was unable to get a cat to take his or her morning pills or shots, I was able to wait an hour or two and try it again. If I put down food and noticed at around midday that it was still untouched, I was able to try a different combination that would hopefully prove more tempting in getting a sick kitty to eat. Any sudden changes and declines in their general health were noted and acted on immediately rather than hours later. (If I hadn't been home at 11:30am on the day Homer fell down a few weeks back, I might not even have known he was so ill in the first place.) I know all the worry and anxiety I felt and feel for my cats, and can't even imagine what those of you who have to be away from your own elderly cats for such long stretches of the day must go through. All I can do is admire your strength and commitment from afar and ask myself if I'd be able to do what you do if I were in your shoes. I honestly don't know that I'd be able to live up to the standard so many of you have set.
But the trade-off to this wonderful luxury I get to enjoy is that every three years or so, I have to hit the road for a time. I do so to pay for the other little luxuries we've all become accustomed to around here, like food and rent and the insanely high health insurance premiums you have to pay when you don't have employer-provided health coverage. ;-p I'm being a bit facetious (we're not in any immediate danger of starving--I promise!), but the reality remains that books don't promote themselves, and unsold books don't earn their writers any income.
Again, I acknowledge a certain amount of defensiveness in the length of this post. But I do also want to assure everybody that while I don't value my work above Homer and his health, realistically it is something that has to be factored into the equation of what's best for my entire family--kitties and humans alike. I will try very hard to stay on the right side of that balance. I will try even harder to ensure that Homer's health and happiness are not negatively affected even a tiny bit by the work that I do.
Best of all, I go into this knowing that I'll have all of you to help me make sure I keep that balance straight! :-D