Episode Twenty Seven: In Defence of Taylor Swift’s 1989

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It’s no secret that Virtute and I share a mutual love for Taylor Swift.  On many evenings after a long day of writing (or in Virtute’s case shifting around the house looking for the sunniest spot to sleep), we often enjoy letting loose to the epic Taylor Swift album, Red. I dance around the house and he usually chases the “Virtute limited edition one inch mylar crinkle ball“. At the time, Virtute had described the album as “A deep rumination on the fickleness of relationships, a gruelling grappling with the pressures of normative gender constructions, and the small beauties of new loves.”  So, as you could imagine we were both anxiously anticipating the release of Taylor Swift’s 1989.

Upon a first listen, I was devastated.  The album seemed to strip the personal and thoughtful work that T.Swift puts into crafting her lyrically driven music for a bubble-gum pop that was lacking in substance. The release of the video for “shake it off” seemed to confirm my fears.  So after a few weeks I had to ask Virtute his assessment.  As usual, he surprised me with his take: “The album on many levels is indeed a move away from the personal, but that doesn’t mean that it is without merit and upon deep reflection we come to understand the new paradoxes gripping Taylor’s life. It seems as though we spend too much time policing the decisions of young women in music as in life. While it is evident that Taylor Swift has always been a mainstream pop artist, it at least appears as though she is having fun with the writing process and sometimes we should be open to experimentation and play in music. Even Kendrick Lamar thinks so. ”  I’ve heard this line of argument from Virtute before, so I wanted to push him by asking what if the manipulation was not in our interpretation of her work but in the way the industry pushes for a vapid and thoughtless array of music that sounds the same.

Virtute looked away for a long time. He reflected and finally said, “I don’t have an answer”.   It was shocking, not having an answer is very unusual for Virtute. But before I could speak up to say so, he continued, “I think Taylor Swift answers that question herself on the new album.  She states:

See the vultures circling in dark clouds
Love’s a fragile little flame, it could burn out
It could burn out cause they got their cages, they got their boxes, and guns, they are the hunters, we are the foxes and we run

Baby I know places we won’t be found and they’ll be chasing their tails tryin’ to track us down.”

And so we have made plans to purchase the 1989 LP when it is released on December 9th and we’ll be developing our defence further.  Virtute’s loyalty is often unparalleled.

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Episode Twenty Six: Wisdom

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Since Virtute and I started this blog almost a year ago, many people have approached me asking how Virtute became such a wise cat.  I’ve thought a lot about it myself and though I have my theories, I decided that it would be best to ask him.

So last night as I was about to go to bed, I interrupted his nightly grooming session of Gumption to ask him about wisdom.  I told him that a lot of folks had described him as being a ‘wise cat’ and asked him what he thought about it.  He paused considering the implications of his answer, and then explained, “Many people learn from books, they learn from sciences or maths or other academic disciplines, these are important avenues to get to know things.  I tend to learn through experience, but not only experience, but careful and thoughtful listening”.  I asked him, what experiences had been most influential to him.

Responding much quicker than normal, “Oh that’s easy.  I learned most of what I know from Jenny. When I was a kitten she taught me many things – to communicate my needs clearly, to give affection when needed, to create space when it is warranted, to be caring but self-sufficient.  To go through the world thoughtful and questioning and open-minded.  Gumption will get there too, but your approach is a lot more hands-off.”

It was a loving tribute to Jenny, but I had to ask, if there was any particular wisdom Jenny had shared with him that helped him along his path. “Oh for sure,” he replied. “Jenny has always been the best at one-liner philosophy – which helps when you have a blog like this.”  I asked for an example. He responded, “I’ll give you my three recent favourites: number one – after coming home from a long day at school you were playing music really loudly.  She walked in and said, ‘Can you turn that off, jazz is loud and annoying.’ Just brilliant satire.  Number two – after completing an almost all-nighter assignment, she sighed and flipped on her gameboy and exclaimed, ‘Work hard. Play hard.’ Brilliant timing.  Number three – last night as you ran into the house with an urgency that scared me, Jenny called up to you, ‘You have the bladder of a kitten.’ Which is an undisputed truth.”

As Virtute and I laughed at these small doses of Jenny philosophy, Gumption suddenly woke up groggily and rushed to her litter box.  At least one of the cats learned something from me.

Episode Twenty Five: Nightmares and Dreams

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This afternoon I caught Virtute in the middle of an intense dream.  I debated for a while as to whether or not I should wake him up because I wasn’t sure if he was having a good dream or a nightmare.  As someone who takes great precautions to not watch “scary” movies or play “creepy” video games before bed to avoid nightmares, I also harbour a deep desire to wake people from their bad dreams.

So I finally woke him up.  More begrudging than usual after being stirred awake, I asked Virtute if he was having a good dream or a bad one.  With a scowl on his face he responded, “There are no good or bad dreams.  Your dreams are your connection to the mythical world – they are interpretations of your lived experiences in magical and fantastical ways.  Sometimes these give you anxiety and others jubilation.  Dreams are the source of creative energy, they are the link to our ancestors, they are the possibilities of our futures.”  It was all a bit theoretical for someone who had just been woken up.

I still wanted to know whether or not he was experiencing a dream or a nightmare. So I tried to rephrase my original question.  So I asked whether his dream was scary or happy.  He stretched out in the cat tree and let his claws dig into the carpeted interior a bit longer than usual. With a sigh, he said, “You don’t get it yet, do you?  My dreams allow me to communicate across time and space – that’s both scary and happy. It must always happen that way.”

It was poignant as always. I decided to let go and started to walk away when he called back: “And I don’t spend my evenings watching Game of Thrones with Jenny, you know that show gives you nightmares.”