Vibing with Cat White
Updated: Aug 9
In July, I invited STL readers to submit a poem about what America means to them. I'm grateful to Aleathia Drehmer and Kidd Williams, poets we’ve featured previously, who both submitted thought-provoking prose and poetry.
I had intended on participating, as well. I used to write poetry all the time and have always considered it to be a wonderful way to creatively express oneself and connect with others. I also have several half-written poems, specifically, about America and my feelings about my country. I’ve always felt a special connection to being American. More than a flag or a song … the Spirit of America.
From my earliest recollection, I was taught that America was a melting pot. A tasty, colorful stew of ethnicities (races), cultures, religions, and class, bringing their own flavor to a revolutionary creation never before attempted or experienced. My life has been spent meeting people of different ethnicities, religions, cultures and, for the most part, learning from and celebrating those experiences.
However, the past few months … Hell, in reality, the past few decades have been a psychological, emotional and, for those of us going through menopause (more on that later), physical rollercoaster. It’s left me feeling, largely disappointed and disillusioned with my country and fellow citizens.
After too many mass shootings to count (just since May!), the (unthinkable) overturning of Roe v. Wade, a sweltering, drought-soaked summer that’s sparked devastating wildfires and unprecedented pressure on an aging electrical grid system that can barely keep up with the increased demand, and the continued political mess of January 6 … the disappointment, anger and grief I've felt has rendered me creatively blocked. Not blocked, in the sense that I don’t have anything to say but more that, I have a lot to convey but most of it contains swears.
Despite the insanity going on in this country right now, when it comes to my personal life, it’s been stressful but also, a sanctuary.
Just like the Southern Tier, Austin, Texas, and the surrounding communities, offer a wealth of natural beauty and outdoor recreation that I can escape to easily to clear my mind.
It’s also one of the most dog-friendly places I’ve ever experienced. You can take your pups almost anywhere – brewpub dog parks, many restaurants and outdoor recreation spots, and endless hiking parks with on/off-leash options. And Austin is a “No-Kill” city!
Needless to say, Tigger (blonde pitbull that's squirrel crazy), Henry (English bulldog. 'Nuff said), Blizzard (mini-Dane mix channeling Chewbacca), and Sherlock (blue pibbler and sufferer of middle child syndrome) have ensured I exercise my body and sense of exploration daily. We’ve been to parks throughout the area, sniffing new smells, being taunted by sassy squirrels, and enjoying life in the moment.
Photos of my fabulous fur fam. They keep the author sane and fit with lots of activity and entertainment.
In addition to my dog day adventures, my furry felines entertain me and soothe my soul when I’m home. Filthy Phil (white, long-haired lion king), Lulu (tabby tigress and Queen of my closet), and Lola (tabby-top, white bottom bitch who loves pizza and rules the WHOLE house) keep me on my toes and provide plenty of laughs.
To beat the oppressive heat, my sister found this great app, Swimply, which allows you to rent out someone’s private pool. We spent half a day at a beautiful Infinity pool overlooking Lake Travis to celebrate a belated Mother’s Day and missed birthdays. It was pure bliss. I, literally, felt like I’d had a week’s vacation in the five hours we spent there.
There's no better way to beat the heat and celebrate family than a little pool party on Lake Travis, TX.
My sister took a nursing job in Austin after spending the last 10 months in San Antonio. Liz is my best friend, and partner in crime. I mean, we’re sisters so we get on each other’s nerves but we also rely on each other. Plus, this is just a brief visit before she continues her travel adventures in a few months.
While I’ve certainly spent the summer grinding, writing stories for Southern Tier Life or finding. freelancers and those who’ll graciously provide free content, since the only revenue STL receives is from advertising and sponsorship support; I’ve also been lucky enough to find time to kick back and enjoy some really great reads.
My good friend Jay Schissell sent me a really interesting book, “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation” by Anna Malaika Tubbs to kick off my summer reading. It’s a thought-provoking, good read. I highly recommend.
Also, I got the “Beastie Boys Book” by Michael Diamond aka “Mike D” and Adam Horovitz aka AdRock (RiP Adam Yauch aka MCA) last summer. I’m still reading it. I go back and forth, jumping from the beginning to the middle to the end, reading the essays and geeking out at the amazing pictures and stories of one of my favorite rap groups. It’s a treasure trove of the memories and experiences of this iconic band. As you can see, it’s a big book. Read it a little at a time. By the way, if you can find it, they did a great instrumental jazz record “back in the day” called The In Sound From Way Out!
Taking a break from the craziness of life for a little fun and informative summer reading.
Another book I’m reading for my sanity is “Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart,” by Lisa Rogak. You may remember my previous Vibe column, about using anger to fuel advocacy, which Stewart just illustrated brilliantly while recently speaking up for U.S. veterans and their fight to get the PACT Act passed, which provides healthcare, compensation and benefits to the veterans that suffered injuries through toxic pit burns. The book offers insight into another warrior for basic human decency. I’ve been a fan of Stewart’s for a long time, visiting “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” when he hosted and seeing his live standup at least three times, so far. I highly recommend the book.
After finding all these ways to “chill” out this summer, when I reflect on the most recent turmoil in America my perspective isn’t quite so dark.
I’ve found a lot of inspiration in America’s youth. As disheartening as recent events have been, they’ve been offset by young Americans like Texas teen Olivia Julianna, who’s capitalized on the vile taunts of a GOP congressman and has, so far, raised more than $2 million for abortion access. David Hogg, one of the victims of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting, turned trauma into advocacy, becoming a powerful activist who’s mobilized the youth vote and worked hard to get recent gun reform legislation passed in Congress, appealing to both political parties. Additionally, the most recent community rallies for access to abortion and sensible gun reform were well attended with warriors ready for the upcoming legislative battles.
So, while the “big picture” of what’s going on in the United States is often frustrating, depressing and maddening, it’s easy to remind myself that there’s also plenty of good, local, personal ways to keep the faith in this country, which was founded on grand political, religious and social ideals.
I’m still going to try my hand at a little poetry, too, so stay tuned! If you’re so inclined, feel free to join me. Send your poems, on any subject, to email@example.com to be posted throughout August.
I hope you enjoy these final hazy summer days, and take advantage of all the great local delights that make the Southern Tier such a great place to live, work and play.