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No. 11 - This Friday, I Want To See a Circus
A Story of Survival, Followed By A Discussion Thread
This is Vineri. In English, his name would translate to Friday. At this time three weeks ago, he was a stray kitten, wandering the cold, wet streets of late March Bucharest in search of food and shelter—or maybe just someone to play with. At six thirty, my wife would get home from work and stumble upon him, and she would call me. Hurriedly, I’d sling a jacket over my pajamas and, shoelaces untied, I’d rush downstairs, thinking she needed my help. We weren’t looking for a cat, you see. But on that 31st of March, I picked Vineri up from the street and dropped him in our bathtub. Surreptitiously, serendipitiously, he stole our hearts that Friday. So we chose that day of the week as his new name.
Due to the color pattern on his fur, Vineri (alongside his more famous animated cousins Felix and Sylvester) is known as a tuxedo cat. According to the internet, these types of cats were favoured by the likes of William Shakespeare, Ludwig van Beethoven and Sir Isaac Newton. Also according to the internet, the ancient Egyptians worshipped them as gods. But this last one’s a myth which has been disproven, so perhaps we shouldn’t believe all we read on the internet.
Here, though, are a few facts I guarantee to be true:
Vineri was born around October 2022, somewhere in Bucharest, to unknown parents. According to this statistic, kittens are ordinarily born in spring, likely because their mothers want to ensure their survival, as their young would have a hard time during the winter. We don’t know what happened to Vineri between October and March, except for a little scratch on his nose which hints at some violent event, but obviously, he made it through the winter. Which means he’s a survivor.
We found him in the evening, loitering around the high school across from our building. I was up in our apartment, killing time before my wife got back from the office, and when she phoned, asking me to get downstairs quickly, “and bring a can”, I didn’t understand what she meant. I thought she was the one bringing a can, and I pictured a can so comically large and heavy she’d have trouble bringing it up the stairs herself. You can guess at my surprise when I got downstairs, and found her playing with this black-and-white (or black-and-grey—he was that dirty) runt. He was climbing all over her legs, and when I sat down on a low portion of the high school’s fence, he sprang onto my lap. He didn’t want me to leave him there.
“Clearly, he wants to be loved,” the vet remarked, when we took him in for a check-up the next day. He’d insisted to spend the night wedged between our tired, slumbering forms, so we’d kind of gathered that already. “He knows he’s got an owner now,” she also said. That surprised us. He’d spent the trip to the vet inside a cardboard box we used to deposit an old printer, which—although we tied it strongly with a scarf—wouldn’t stay perfectly closed, so I’d have to press him back inside with my left ear whenever his little head poked out. We were wholly unprepared for a cat. But he was ours now. So said his health certificate, which the vet had filled out.
He acclimated to his new home almost immediately. That Saturday, I rushed about in search of food, toys, and a litter box, finding most pet shops closed. But a lengthy trip to Ikea on Sunday saved us. We were so amazed by his adaptability that we started thinking he might not be a stray at all. We thought better of it when we noticed the state of his nails, though. He’s playful and loving, but he’s a scratcher, and since nobody was available to clip his claws in the wild, they look (and feel) a bit like this:
Truthfully, I’ve always dreamed of having a cat. But it was my wife, a dedicated dog person, who insisted we take him in. She surprised me, and I found myself giving in all too eagerly. And after nearly a month, we feel as though he’s always been here. And, judging by how willingly he, a natural predator, exposes his belly around us (as evidenced by Picture #2), I gather that’s mutual. In another week, his vaccination schedule will be complete, and we might start taking him outside in his new Ikea travel bag. But until then, he doesn’t seem to mind being homebound, and we made sure his new home contains all the toys (and cardboard boxes, as evidenced by Picture #1) a developing kitten needs and deserves.
Our relationship has gained a new layer of complexity, now that a new member has entered our family. My wife and I are no longer the centre of attention, we have new responsibilities, and whenever we go out, a new question often finds its way into our minds: “should we get the kitten something?” It’s no longer just the two of us, and that changes things.
In a way, that’s something I can say about Practice Space, as well. The more people discover this newsletter, the more it feels like our conversation is taking on new dimensions, becoming more and more complex as our community grows larger.
Community. From the very beginning, that’s what Practice Space was meant to be. I’ve done my best to end each post with a question, and your thoughtful and enthusiastic replies let me know that you appreciate that aspect. And with more than 100 of us here now (which is just bonkers, and which I’m grateful beyond words for!), I’ve been thinking about taking that concept even further.
Welcome to the very first Practice Space Discussion Thread!
What de heck’s that, you’ll be wanting to know?
A discussion thread is a space for you. I will start the conversation, either by asking a question or sharing a story, and you’re encouraged to keep the ball rolling and continue to discuss amongst yourselves. In an internet crowded with useless information and instant gratification, I see these open threads as a safe and dedicated environment where I, the writer, and you, my readers, can hang out and hold discussions that inspire and enrich us all, and where the focus is less on consumption, for once, and more on connection.
I get it might feel a little weird, interacting with strangers in somebody else’s corner of the internet. Except, we do that all the time on social media, no? I believe all great literature is a conversation, so even if one is the best writer in the world, from a technical standpoint, if nobody resonates with their work, if their words reach no other hearts, then an essential part of the experience is missing. The audience is just as important as the book, I say.
So, without further blabbering, here comes today’s question. I’ve told you the story of my cat. What about you? Those of you who have pets, will you share their story with us? How did they come to be yours? Why did you choose them, or did they choose you? Do they eat human food? What’s something about them that nobody would have guessed? I want all the juicy details.
Feel free to engage in the comments section and reply to any pictures shared by other Practitioners! We’re all cool here, I guarantee.
P.S. As this is our first ever discussion thread, it took a bit to set the scene, and I decided to make it into a full issue. Future threads will use Substack’s thread feature, which you can find more about in this post by
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