A feral cat and tough love massage

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

That was me arriving in Charlotte Friday: a tired, huddled mass. Times have been tough at work, the winter has become a tiresome creature, and I’m just worn out. And I felt bad leaving several things, personal and professional, behind in New Hampshire, but I’m not sure there will be a “good time” to do this in the near future, so I just did it. I rolled a bunch of clothes into a ball and hopped a plane to seek asylum with Little brother and his wife, Ligia. And together, we’ve had several adventures.

1. They boarded me with a feral cat.

So a cat had been coming by the house here and there over the past several months. They fed the cat once in a while, but the cat kept its distance and was a bit standoffish. One day they noticed that one of the cat’s eyes didn’t look right. And it kept getting worse–I’ll spare you the details. But Little brother called to discuss it, and the convo went something like this:

Bro: The vet says it could cost somewhere between $1-3k.

Me: Hmmm. Will this ever become a pet that will live in your home?

Bro: No.

Me: The alternative costs about $130.

Think me cruel if you will, but $3k is a lot of dough. And in the end, Little brother went ahead and took the angry little cat to the vet and saved her life.

But the thing is, like with anyone/-thing coming out of surgery, there is aftercare. So the damn cat has to live in the house so that Little bro can administered daily eye drops and other medicines.

“So, you should know–the cat lives in the guest bathroom,” he told me. Wait, what? I have enough stress right now. I don’t need to slip past a feral one-eyed cat each time I need to pee. But there it was. And so we met.







Eek! But where I expected growling and territory issues between two old girls, we’ve actually bonded. She slept with me my first night here–I could feel her relax and stretch out back to back with me. And she may have washed my ear fiercely at some point. So we have a thing going. I give her plenty of space, and she’s coming to trust me on her town terms.

2. I got a tough love massage.

Day one in Charlotte was girl day. We started with a massage to end all massages. Truly. I’m not used to treating myself to something like a massage, so when I was given three options (light, firm, and deep), I went for the gold. I figured light would be wimpy. I figured I had a few knots to work out. I think I said something like, “Firm with a sprinkle of deep tossed in from time to time.” I would live to regret those words. I am not ready for prime time. I thought she was going to pull a Mortal Kombat and reach into my chest, pull out my still-beating heart, and show it to me. “Maybe not so deep?” I whimpered through the round face pillow at one point. It’s now two days later, and I’m not saying I have bruises, because I looked. But maybe the old knots weren’t such a bad thing in the first place. But I’m sure she released any toxins/demons/ghouls from my person. God help her pie dough.

3. I got a taste for haute couture in NC.

After the tough love massage, Ligia and I checked out high fashion in the mall in Pineville.


I’ll be writing a letter to Macy’s when I return home to find out why these items are not readily available in NH.

4. We checked out a few oddball attractions in the Charlotte area.

There is a giant metal head in an unassuming industrial park. I present to you, Metalmorphosis:

Metalmorphosis1 Metalmorphosis2

It’s pretty awesome.
In downtown Charlotte, there are several fun things to check out.  This time we checked out a giant hand and a sprinkling of giant typewriter keys/stamps/books, a piece called “The Writer’s Desk.

Ligia_hand park1 Park2 Pencil1 Park3

5. I got the hard sell on NoDa.

That’s not true, though Michael and Ligia would love for me to move to Charlotte. Of course I would feel most comfortable is the crusty arts district called NoDa. There are lots of streets lined with little bungalows, all in various stages of repair and disrepair. I like them. I can see myself sitting on a front porch and getting to know the neighbors.

NoDa8 NoDa7 NoDa9NoDa4

Look at this primo little fixer-upper with a big tree for shade and its own water supply! Sold!

We also saw this…

They're restoring the mills!
They’re restoring the mills!

Look out, NoDa… You are now an official contender.
And I will help you with your spelling. Ahem.

And contribute to your cool little free library (note: RR Martin and Sedaris are available).


I won’t lie–since my first visit to NoDa years ago, it’s really becoming built up. I’m going to have to find something much crustier.

It’s been a good three days. I’m not calling the movers just yet, but I definitely needed this. I needed to drink a lot of red wine and laugh and go on adventures. Thank you, Michael and Ligia, for helping me to ground myself again. I love you more than you know. Now we look south to Savannah…