Kittens, Hornets, and My Father


There’s a hornet’s nest outside my window.  The landlord refuses to take care of it.   They are busy fuckers, zipping in and out of a hole in the stucco, dive-bombing anything that comes too close.  For the past few weeks, I’ve had to keep my window closed.  There’s a tiny gap in the screen, a thin sliver big enough for their bodies to push through.

I’m prone to horrible dreams.  Even if they’re nonsensical or sweet, they’re too vivid and loud.  I never wake up rested.  But often they’re crazy and wild, disturbing interactions with old or dead friends, or those anxiety dreams where you realize your kid has gone missing or you woke up and found your favorite dog all stiff and cloudy-eyed.

But this night, I was having the most ridiculous, soft dream I’ve had in years.  I was holding an orange kitten, all small and fluffy.  It was a ridiculous dream because I typically could give a shit less about cats, small or otherwise.  I’m often sour-faced when I go to someone’s house and their over grown cat with long, shedding fur tries to sit on my lap and cover my black dress in hair.  I typically don’t like other people’s dogs, all slobbery and jumping on my legs, tearing holes in my new tights.  Tiny puppies rolling around fail to entertain me.  But this dream-kitten made me smile in the warmest way possible.  A way that I have yet to capture in my waking life.

I’ve awoken abruptly before.  Sitting up in shock because a fire alarm was screeching, a child wailing, the sound of a slamming door in the middle of the night.  But never to a searing, scorching pain in my leg.  I screamed, swearing and found a hornet attached to my leg, his tiny stinger clinging to my skin.  I tore him off in a fury and found him crawling away under the blankets.  I crushed him with the heel of my boot, grinding him into the tread until he was no longer recognizable.

I called my father.  He’s a New Age man, fond of the collective unconscious and the child within.  Energy and energy suckers.  And totem animals.  I asked him what it could possibly mean.  The kitten.  The hornet.  Am I growing soft?  I’m a too venomous and bitter?  While I only half-ass buy that shit, I was desperate for answers.  I was trying to scoop up the events of and make sense of them.  I imagined him the other end of the line, drinking his morning coffee on the porch next to a handful of quartz crystals and bright Azaleas he grew from seed.  He was silent, and I felt the wheels of his mind turning, contemplating the answer.  But he said, “Can’t possibly know, kid.  Maybe it means nothing.”

When I was writing more, I reveled in collecting seemingly unconnected events and making sense of them.  Like a puzzle spilled all over a living room floor, I’d try to piece together a solid, strong image. I found meaning in sighs and empty spaces.  I tried to tie together a phone call, a flower, police sirens crying in the background on a Sunday.  And somehow, I was able to connect these dots in a wild way that made my troubles and struggles and mundane moments make sense.  I would have taken the kitten, the hornet, and my father’s reticence and spun a story that made everything, in that handful of moments, worthwhile.

Maybe the stupid kitten dream means nothing: just a collection of firing, sparking neurons forming a random picture of something I unconsciously saw earlier in the day on TV, overhead in the office hallway.  The rogue hornets a testament to my neglectful landlord, the age of the building, the way the window frames sag and don’t match up with the cheap screens.  My father’s inability to soothe, to make sense out of a series of events I was trying to read into is just him getting older, slower, less sure of his cosmic zeal.  Or maybe he’s damn sure, and doesn’t want to let me in on it.  Either way, this is my humble attempt to collect, examine, hold up brief fragments of my life into the light and see them better.

This is my attempt to write again.


8 Responses to “Kittens, Hornets, and My Father”

  1. 1 Rose

    Hooray for writing! I love the image of your dad with his quartz crystals. When I picture my dad (when we’re on the phone), he always has a cup of coffee and a dog-eared “New Yorker” magazine. I think that’s good stuff. Keep on going!

    • I like the image of her father, too. Mine’s sitting in an arm chair with a little plate of half a dozen crackers with peanut butter doing a crossword puzzle.

  2. Good and keep going Lennon because no matter how you feel about what or how you are writing, whether you think it sucks or is good, you are learning something even if it isn’t clear what it is. Of course you can’t just aimlessly write except for in the beginning when you’re trying to get back into it. You do have to try a little. Those statements are not directed at your writing above. I am just talking about the process of creativity.

    If you find yourself compelled to write and you love doing it and can’t imagine your life without writing then you have to keep going to further your knowledge of it by pushing through.

    I am stepping out on a limb here. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes, and maybe you already know this stuff. But I would regret not saying these things because i believe you are special and have a lot, very much in fact, to say.

  3. Saying something is not meaningful is in itself meaningful.

    Have you read the book Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff? I read it a month or two ago. There’s a great moment at the end when he goes to the spot where his sister died. He hears some rustling in the weeds and turns around and sees a deer. He writes something to the effect of “I don’t believe in reincarnation, but I believe in symbolism.”

    What you’ve written has more meaning than I think you realize. First of all, that you’re looking for meaning and can’t find it says something important about where you are in your life write now. If this was fiction and someone had written that about a character you would know exactly what they trying to communicate about her. Secondly, the fact that you reached out to your father for comfort says something. The portrait of your father is charming. Growing Azaleas from seed.

    I don’t see dreams as highly meaningful. I suspect that they’re just memory dumps, but at the same time they’re probably not truly random since they do reflect what you’ve seen and thought about during the day. So we see a tension between feeling menaced, harrassed, threatend and put upon, and a desire for comfort. It’s interesting that you have a desire for comfort rather than, let’s say, escape. We see this in both the dream and in your real life.

    Look at the bright side, you wrote about a dream and it wasn’t intensely boring. That’s an accomplishment. It’s probably because you interrupted it to write about how you really feel about cats.

    I was a lit major, so I can find meaning and symbolism in just about anything. Oh, yeah, I had a great aunt that did a stint reading tea leaves.

  4. I like it when you write!!

  5. Maybe it means that you want to be all soft cute and fluffy but in reality ur just hard harsh and bitchy? Totally kidding by the way… just trying to make u laugh -_- (going to smack myself now….. )

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