Centre of attention

An orange cat walks through a garden towards the camera.
Smooch outside the Tranzac, May 2016.

One of the perks of my old job that I genuinely miss was the spring-through-fall walks through downtown Toronto, which got increasingly longer the closer I got to the end. As much as I love the UW campus for its groundhogs and the time I saw over one hundred ducks in the pond, it doesn’t have campus cats. My previous library, a behemoth at the edge of downtown, was within minutes of Rufflecat, Smooch, the white one on Dalton, the fluffy beast who lived in the front yard on Brunswick, and the frat house cat who came in through the revolving doors. Kerry Clare knows all of these cats, and I am writing this post because I signed up for My Blog School, through which I hope to get better at short-form writing.

I feel like I am very good at writing emails to elsewhere on campus, firm but empathetic. I feel safer when I think I know my audience. When it happens, I am happy with my academic writing. I accidentally let my Twitter account lapse in deactivation mode, sending a few thoughts other people seemed to like into the ether. I have not posted to this site in 18 months. I want to get better at writing in public.

I would rather write about the cats I know. I would rather write about the birds in the yard. Occasional flashes of courage make me want to declare that I am scared of writing in public because I want the internet to avoid me. I would rather write about how today I got to level 40 in Skyrim, and have now completed the New York Times crossword 60 days in a row. I would rather chat with Jane in Google Hangouts, taking pictures of a shirt in my closet so she can see the pattern. I avoid writing in public, despite the fact that I regularly cite On Consenting to Learn in Public as a source of inspiration for speaking up, because I prefer to be myself in small audiences, or those where I can hide behind the name and photo of my deceased buddy Fuzzyface. I am scared of my mother finding my blog. I would rather tell you about the cats I know in the Annex, and though I’m much happier now, I miss taking three trips a day to see if Rufflecat is lying in the long grass, even though he probably moved away last year.

A small black cat sits in a garden in front of semi-detached houses. The cat wears a multicoloured fabric ruffle around their neck.
Rufflecat, May 2018.

As of yesterday, I have author permissions on a professional blog I can contribute to, where I might write something about library shipping and receiving someday, so I should just write there instead. Why is my instinct here to spin up a robots.txt file, to uncheck all the boxes for search engine optimization, to cover my tracks, to gloss over the reasons why I’m nervous? Apparently these feelings are normal.