I hope you enjoy ‘Conversations with the Cat’ – a revealing look at a character and her world as she struggles with public perception and hidden reality.  

– Preface –  

What do you really know about your friends, your family, the person you work with?  How often do you find yourself wondering what someone does, says, thinks or feels when they don’t express it publicly?  How often do you find yourself creating a public perception that doesn’t necessarily or accurately reflect the person you truly are?   How often to you feel like you’re hiding truths about yourself to save your image or reputation, or preserve that perception you’ve created for yourself with your friends, family and colleagues?  How often do you wish you could purge those truths and just…be…REAL?  

If you relate to anything I’ve just written…  

Welcome to the club!! This Blog might be for you.  

For years I’ve wanted to write a novel.  A fictitious piece based on the two-sided exploration of a character – the side the public sees, and the very personal side that is hidden from people.   

I believe we all have these two sides.  

I thought about the concept of this book over a decade ago, and wondered if I could pull it off.  Could I really try to become a book author?  Could I manage writing a book when my time was already spread so thinly between work or school or both simultaneously?  Could I convey on paper the concept that was in my head to properly inform, engage and entertain a reader?   

I always had doubts.  

However, something changed for me the other night while watching the charming movie ‘Julie and Julia’ and I found some inspiration to start the conversation.  

In the movie, the character ‘Julie’ hopes to be a published author, but she ends up working in a cubicle instead and only feels alive when cooking.  She starts a Blog, commits to a project and her life is enriched as a result.  

So this got me thinking.   

Why write a book?  Why not just join the technological times and create a Blog?  I could still explore my book concept, but set it up a little differently.  Also,  the Blog title is ‘Conversations with the Cat’ and typically a conversation is described as a two-way communication between two people.  However, a book doesn’t really allow for a two-way communication, but a Blog does.  I write; you write.  We can have a conversation.  

So…here I am.  

Before I leap into the first post, which I can’t promise when that will be, I want to explore this concept of public perception versus hidden reality a bit further and tell you a few things about me you might not know in hopes to kick off the conversation and tone to the Blog.  This preface is non-fiction.  The rest of the Blog will be fiction (but, based loosely on yours truly and my life/experiences).  

So let’s start the conversation – first…some truths about me that you don’t know.  

I was born in Montreal.  Delivered by the same doctor that delivered my mom.  I was supposed to be born on my mom’s birth date – July 26, 1978 – but I didn’t want to share a day with her, so I decided to wait three more days.  

My mom always tells me my first word was ‘no’ and I used to shout it from the window of our apartment in Montreal.  I guess I’ve always had some sass and attitude.  

Growing up, there wasn’t a lot of money, and my mom didn’t drive.  So, my mom was often carting me around on the bus.  One time while on a trip, I wound up and slapped my mom across the face.  Much to all the bus riders’ shock, my mom didn’t smack me back.  According to my mom, she took my tiny hand, kissed it, said something like ‘No, Natalie.  Be gentle.’  I appreciate her not smacking me back, but it didn’t stop me from winding up and slapping her again.  I’m not a violent person, but there is some irony to this story that you will pick up on if you read this Blog down the road.  

I’ve always been a writer.  My mom tells me that I wasn’t the girl to play with dolls or dream of being a mom one day and raising a family.  Instead, I took out my alphabets and played with words.  I wrote letters to my grandparents, and my Granny often said ‘Nat-lee is the most beautiful writer.’  My adorable Granny always pronounces my name this way.  She’s always been my fan, but she’s never been a fan of pronouncing the ‘A’ syllable of my name.  

I grew up writing diaries and poetry and song lyrics.  I would sit in my room listening to sappy music, dreaming of the boys I loved (Danny Kurylo in junior high school and Mark Kildaw in high school), and writing poems to release some feeling and emotion.   

In grade eight, I started writing a book.  In 1991 there weren’t very many home computers or typewriters, so I sat in my room with pages of loose leaf paper and a pen, and would write for hours.  Over the course of about a year, I had probably written 200 pages of a book, and I kept it carefully hidden with my diaries from my snoopy little brother, Richard, and my parents.  I told no one about the book – it was my own private escape.  

But, one day my mom snooped, and she found my diaries.  To this day I don’t know if she found the book, but back then, I didn’t care.  My privacy was violated.  My secrets were no longer secret.  My mom (of all people) knew things I didn’t want to tell anyone.  She read about how I hooked up with Danny Kurylo the summer before going into grade 10, and we kissed (a big damn deal to a 14-year-old girl who dreamed of her first real kiss with the dreamiest boy at Montrose Junior High School).  

I was humiliated and angry beyond belief.  I had to destroy the evidence so it was her word against mine if it ever went public.  I ripped apart my diaries, and moved on to the 200 pages of my book.  I cried as I shredded every single page of the book that had become a life saver to me.  It had been my happy place for almost a year, and suddenly it was gone.   

I didn’t attempt writing a book ever again.  I also stopped keeping a diary.  However, I didn’t lose the passion for writing, and I now have a career that enables me to write daily.  I also didn’t lose the dream of writing that book.  

Another thing about me is I’m a HUGE animal lover.  

I’ve always had a cat.  I remember some of them well.  While I was growing up there was Lolly, Ginger, Gents, Paws (Pause), Charlie and Tia.  My dad still has Tia.  He also has another cat, Princess, in addition to three dogs – Mongo, Ewok and Java.  It’s the Harper family zoo at my dad’s house, and not my dad’s fault.  My animal loving/rescuing mom is to blame for this one.  

Right now I have Margo.   

Margo came to into my life almost 12 years ago.  My roommate at the time adopted this tiny little muffin of a grey and white cat with a pink nose and grey goatee, and her larger short-haired and all grey brother.  She named Margo, well…Margo,  and the brother was named Petie.  She named them for the future children she planned to have.  I didn’t stay in touch with this roommate, but often wonder if she has two children running around named Margo and Petie – poor kids.  

Margo is like my child. I don’t have any children, nor do I plan on it.  She is pretty much the love of my life.  She knows more about me than probably anyone does, and I’m often thankful she can’t talk and tell anyone what she knows about me.  If something ever happened to her, I’d be destroyed.  She is my partner in crime, she follows me around the house everywhere, she is with me no matter where I am working in the house; in fact, she is currently cozied up at my feet under the covers in bed while I write this.  I know she’s asleep and dreaming, as I can feel her twitching.  Maybe she’s catching a mouse in her dreams, or dreaming of drinking coffee.  She loves coffee and the little brat often tries to drink mine.   

Anyhow – the key point to remember about Margo is she knows more about me than probably anyone else.  And even though she can’t tell you what she knows, I often wonder what she might say if she could.  

 

  

This Blog is dedicated to Margo.  And if you become a reader of the Blog, you’ll soon understand why.  

   

So let’s get this conversation party started!  

Comment on this post – tell me your pet’s name, a secret, the name of the crush you had in high school, if your parents found your diaries too…anything!  Email me if you prefer a private conversation: nharp464@gmail.com  

I’d love to hear from you. 

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