FLORENCE HOWE

activist, writer, and founder of the Feminist Press




Florence in Words

Blog on the Absence of Blogs

July 27, 2017

Tags: Taksi, depression

Usually, my reason for silence is depression. I donít want people to know Iím depressed. I feel guilty for feeling depressed. Iím so privileged, I tell myself, I have no right to feel depressed. But there it is: Iím depressed, and after some silence, when I expect that the small group of readers who look at my blog already suspect that depression has me in grip again, I confess. So boring, as grey as the world outside my window today, half in rain, half in fog.

Iíll try some comfort. Two weeks ago, I passed the half-year point with Mr. Taksi, the cat who was to save me from depression. And yes, he still has the power to make me laugh even when I am supposedly teaching him something or even when I am severely cross with him for absconding with my favorite pen or pencil and hiding them so that he canít get to them either. Itís clear that they wonít turn up until I buy a new couch. And he continues to follow me from room to room, and sometimes itís because itís nearing the time for dinner, though other times, itís that Mr. Taksi wants to play.

Other symptoms: I donít even try to write poems. I write boring journals that say only that I am depressed, or that Iíve broken a dish.

My friends continue to ask me about going to the movies, and I continue to say no, Iím not interested. So what have I done for the past two weeks?

This is a bit laughable: Iíve been readingófor the second timeóThe Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende. About a host of characters the most interesting of whom live in an idyllic old age home. No, I donít believe it depressed me. I wonít blame the book, though it certainly has features that one might label ďdarkĒóthe treatment of Japanese during the Second World War, the sexual torture of one Eastern European young girl who is trying to leave that history behind her. And, of course, the inevitable death of the major character. So, yes, itís a novel chock full of life as well as death and I canít blame it for my depression.

And I will decorate with photos of Mr. TaksiÖperhaps they will make this worth reading. (written on July 14, 2017)

Six Months of Mr. Taksi, the Resident Cat

July 5, 2017

Tags: Mr. Taksi

If Iím so pleased by Taksi, why hadnít I moved earlier to adopt a cat? Three people very close to me are allergic to cats: my daughter, my daughter-in-law, my best friend, Helene. But theyíve understood, especially since he makes me laugh heartily at least once a day, often many times. And he now follows me around the apartment, settling into a nap if thatís what he needs, but waking up and moving with me, should I move.

And yes, he now wants to know what I am eating, and heís interested in tasting whatever it is, though his palate is fairly limited. But heís no nag. When I say no, he goes off.

Which brings me to language. Can cats, like dogs, learn verbal signals? Iím trying to answer that question, and Iíll tell you what I know at this six month point. When itís eating time, Taksi is very excited and he used to stand up and try to knock the plate out of my hand. Heís over three feet when he stands up on his hind legs and heís strong. So Iíve taught him the following words: ďSitĒ and ďStay.Ē And most of the time they work: I can actually get the food almost to the floor before Taksi moves to it. Heís now revised that little action to his sitting on the stepstool that I have at the end of the kitchen. And heís dragged the place mat, meant to be beneath his food, to the top of the stepstool, where he sits. And itís clear that he knows ďSitĒ and ďStay.Ē

He also knows ďno,Ē especially when enunciated with volume and a special tone. Heíll drop something heís carrying if I shout ďno.Ē And he also knows the word ďout,Ē issued usually from my bedroom, if heís banging the venetian blinds to wake me and to amuse himself. Heís learned not to do that, since my response has been to lock him out of the bedroom, beginning with the word ďout.Ē

Iíd like to hear from people with cats who think theyíve been teaching their pets verbal cues. And, as a postscript, Iíve been trying to play fetch with Taksi, and Iíve made minimal progress so far. But he loves to play, and favorite toys are balls of paper or tinfoil, cardboard roll inside toilet rolls, anything that will move if batted. And a few times, so far, heís carried the ball back to me in his mouth, as a dog would.

Select Works

"Everyone concerned about global feminism, womenís contributions, and humanityís future will be enhanced and enchanted by A Life in Motion.ĒóBlanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume I and Volume II
Lecture delivered by Florence Howe on January 8, 2011, at the Modern Language Association Annual Convention
ďIt is impossible to imagine womenís studies without Florence Howe. Myths of Coeducation shows her vision and courage, insight and dauntlessness.ĒĖCatharine R. Stimpson, Rutgers University
A revised and expanded edition of the classic groundbreaking anthology of 20th-century American women's poetry, representing more than 100 poets from Amy Lowell to Anne Sexton to Rita Dove.

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