Advice: Marilyn Monroe and cats edition

You can be Catwoman without understanding cats or women, it seems.



Photo of Marilyn via nevver on the tumblr.

I have this very hackneyed and cliched theory that women are like cats and men are like dogs. It’s overarching and misogynistic and probably a bunch of hooey, because I can’t even apply it to my own good girl friends, but the thing is sometimes it feels like it is just exactly the truth. In talking to my daughter’s father this weekend, I found out that his wife, from whom he is very recently separated, apparently doesn’t like me. By which I mean, hella does not like me. Historically, even. This is pretty distressing to me because, like an idiot, I thought we were cool.


Not only had I been really excited about meeting her, about which I clearly remember writing in several entries, but in the actual event of it I’d made a point of being polite, respectful, friendly, and talkative with her on the occasions we met. We talked at various times both in person and in letters about my move down here, about cooking, about our families — I really thought we’d hit it off. I gave her a card for Valentine’s day and tried consistently to be as friendly and upbeat as possible when she wrote me about her troubles with my daughter’s father, encouraging her and saying I was praying for the best possible outcome.


Photgraphed by Andre de Dienes.

To find out that she not only never liked me before but I am thinking pretty much actively hates me now was upsetting, but it was not the hardest blow. That was still to come. I don’t understand it, and I’ve known for a long time that his sister didn’t like me, never really understood why she had a bad impression of me but eventually gave up hoping she would change her mind and have just continued in as friendly a way as possible, but things are really compounded now. The toughest thing for me to grapple with is that Grandma P, who I’d always counted as a friend and counted on for sitting for my daughter and as a sounding board now and again in my own life, actually thought that my daughter’s father left his wife for me. That she would even consider drawing a conclusion like that, after knowing me all this time and knowing the separation and pain that I myself have been going through this year, is shocking and devastating to me.



The thing with his wife was bad enough, but the thing with his mom is stunning to me, and, as the time has gone by since he and I talked this weekend and I’ve had a chance to work through the jumble of feelings I have about all this, it turns out that’s one of the things that I’m having the toughest time with. I guess I was a fool? to imagine I had a connection with Grandma P, a) because I know better about myself and how some people just don’t like me, and b) I know that connections with many people are illusory and couched in ulterior motives. But I really did think that we were friends. I’ve welcomed her in to every home in which I’ve lived, always looked forward to her visits, encouraged her to call frequently and to have a relationship with my daughter even when her father and I were not in touch. So this has been a big surprise.


I don’t know why they dislike me so. If it’s because he and I hurt each other five years ago, then, isn’t that between us? I understand. When people hurt my friends and the ones I love, I want to tear them apart — but I also trust my friends’ and loved ones’ judgment. And if they tell me that it’s okay, then I have to know that that’s the end of my anger, and they know the way of it better than me. So if we can forgive one another and rebuild a friendship for not only our daughter’s sake but for the redemption of our own selves, then why in the name of heaven is that a bad or threatening thing?


This is what I mean about cats and women. They are full of secrets and you can never know what they are thinking. When dogs don’t like you, they make no trouble to disguise it: they bark and growl at you and try to bite. Cats are so much sneakier, you think they are fun to play with and you can trust them, and all the while they are stalking around and then coming out of nowhere with their claws … These women that I thought I could tentatively call friends made me think I was doing an okay job of becoming something like close and bonded with them, convinced me to offer up parts of myself and my personal backstories which I have a terrible time doing exactly because of situations like this, and it turns out that I guess I was wrong. I failed to meet the mark in some way, or could never have done so for some reason that is totally shrouded in mystery to me, like when they were handing out the woman-cat brains I was at a Polish sausage stand and missed the memo. It’s a real bummer.



There is nothing I can do about it except keep upbeat, focus on the daisies and bluebirds, and keep offering the olive branch as I have tried again and again to do — and pray that it “takes” at some eventual time. Because we have all got to know each other basically until we die, and I don’t understand why that has to be unpleasant or filled with drama, when we can just as easily choose to find the good in the situation? Until then, until they come around, I guess, I have to concentrate, have to try and stop dwelling on it and stop feeling sorry for myself, accept what I cannot change, and go forward. It’s just harder to do than say.

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