JANIETA EYRE

"The mirror occasionally surprises her, revealing an emotion her thoughts haven’t given her time to register and so she is in the habit of meeting her own eyes slightly apprehensively. Today she looks happy. Pleased, she steps quickly out of the car, locks the door and slips her red leather bag up on one shoulder.

        She trips a little in the middle of the asphalt. She is wearing heels which are slightly higher than she is accustomed to. When she lifts her eyes from the ground an elderly woman calls across to her.

        “Don’t be yourself. Be silly!” The woman admonishes, while pushing an empty shopping cart. Her eyes are full of mischief and she’s wearing a black beret. Sally giggles. Her boyfriend loves it when she’s silly. His chief disappointment in their relationship is the fact she is not silly often enough.

      

It is exactly five minutes to ten as Sally moves through the automatic doors into the darkness of the corridor that runs past the grocery shop and proceeds to climb the stairs two at a time in order to exit on the outdoor sidewalk which leads to the medical building where she has her appointment."

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Janieta Eyre is a British-born photographer resident in Toronto, Canada. She studied philosophy at Toronto University, then magazine journalism at Ryerson Polytechnic University and photography at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She took up photography professionally in 1995. In her distinctive self-portraits, she frequently presents herself as a set of twins, engaging with the possibility of morphous identities and fictional doubles. Often employing fantastic and carnivalesque settings, she uses props and costumes to disrupt the fixity of image and identity. She manipulates the theatricality at play in her work by incorporating art-historical and literary references, while leaving space for the integration of fictional representations.

The Cat, 2020, Pigment print, 14 x 11 inches, edition of 5 

"x for staying here with us now", a performing sculpture

“Vibrate like Sound Gleam like Light”, hand painted and cut paper, 10 x 5 x 5 inches

 

Untitled, 2019
Bronze, polyclay, paper, watercolor
8  x 5 x 3 inches

SHERRI HAY

creates mimetic worlds and beings. Her choreographed work involves chain reactions and brings structures from off-cast materials to life.

Sherri Hay is a Canadian artist who splits her time between New York City and Toronto. Her wide-ranging practice that includes sculpture, installation, video and performance, has been exhibited internationally, at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), and the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art (MOCCA) in Toronto. She is also an occasional collaborator in experimental theatre and dance. Since 2012, her practice has focused on movement and time, relationships and change, exploring the quality and the extent to which she can give over voice as an artist - how she can be the instigator of a process instead of the Creator-from-nothing, proposing a certain kind of sentience for objects as performers.

 

untitled (pheasant egg), 2020

Pheasant egg batik dyed with purple cabbage and coffee and etched

Height: 2 inches, Diameter: 1 3/8 inches

AMANDA KONISHI

AMANDA KONISHI utilizes repetition, texture, and pattern to reinterpret elements of memory and experience. Her work simulates a sort of visual counterpart to semantic satiation, in which a repeated word or phrase temporarily loses meaning for the listener, and thereby shifts the function of the sound. Konishi’s continuous practice of drawing translates here ‘in-the-round’, on the surfaces of hollowed and naturally-dyed eggs, a nod to the Polish tradition of ‘pisanka’ or ‘drapanki', decorated eggs which were often created as charms for the health of a harvest, or as ‘wish-tokens’ for both the maker and the recipient. 

 

Amanda Konishi was born in Anaheim, California and received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts (2014). Her work has been exhibited at The Painting Center, NY (2018); Green Kill, Kingston, NY (2018); First Street Gallery, NY (2018); Abrons Art Center (2017); Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY (2017); Loft Artists Association, Stamford, CT (2017); A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2017); Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2016); Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Pittsfield, MA (2016), and Denise Bibro Fine Art, NY (2016), among others. She currently lives and works in New York.

untitled (old sleepy raisin), 2020

Chicken egg dyed with purple cabbage and etched

Height: 2 3/8 inches, Diameter: 1 3/4 inches

anámnēsis' 1.3, 2019, glazed ceramic, ​9 x 3.5 x 4 inches

CHRISTY LANGER

composes a repetitive motif of mountain ranges to simulate the characteristics of building memory. The repeating image transferred into varying materials contrasts a steadfast element that will remain in perpetual flux. Each component forms new optics of illusion by nature of position; paper prints adhered in public spaces will dissolve over time, stoneware and glass sculptures reflect mutable light, the animated image collapses into itself. Langer constructs a durational motif that remains a code haunting the path of memory. The artist is creating a time lapse animation of this new work to be shown with the ceramic sculptures of mountains and images of prints in public spaces.

Christy Langer (b.1980) is a Canadian artist graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCADU) in 2004. Her practice combines elements of sculpture, installation, sound, print and animation, thematically focused on natural experience, her body of work mediating the transition from tactile to visceral exchange with the viewer. In parallel to her arts practice, she has worked in conjunction with the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS), as an instructor at Le musée des beaux-arts de l’Ontario (AGO), Das Kinderkünste Zentrum GmbH, and as a collaborator with the Little Sun GmbH social sector of Studio Olafur Eliasson. Christy lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

 

untitled (coffee birthday cake), 2020, Chicken egg batik dyed with coffee and etched, Height: 2 3/8 inches, Diameter: 1 5/8 inches

anámnēsis' 1.2, 2019, glazed ceramic, ​9.5 x 3 x 4 inches

anámnēsis' 1.4, 2019, glazed ceramic, ​9 x 3.5 x 4 inches

 

RAT figurine (Ed. 1 of 3), 2020, Custom printed silk from photograph, leather, metal, mohair, ink, watercolor, polymer clay, 10  x 8 x  5 inches

OLIVIA LORI 

Olivia Lori is a Canadian artist based in Windsor, Ontario. She writes fables where animals show human characters something about living. The fable comes to life, and characters inhabit their world as she draws and shapes them - on paper and with cloth and clay.

She is inspired by children's illustrations from Edwardian England, wild frozen photographs of fashion magazines, and the everyday idiosyncrasies of people. Lori received her MFA from Goldsmiths College, London, UK in 2010.

TEGU, (Ed. 1 of 3) 2020
hand dyed ostrich feathers, watercolour, leather gloves, fresh water pearl teeth
figurine height: 11.5" width: 11.5" depth: 8"

The FROG in the north facing bog:

Aunt Oona is a gobby frog who is older than the house. She lived in the swamps before the house was built. Now she basks in window light, slides around in porcelain, and bathes under water falling from the mouths of golden swans. She holds lavish parties where bullfrogs croak love songs and dine on caviar.

FROG, (Ed. 1 of 3), 2020
watercolour, silk, metal beads, resin, vintage fur, wire, polymer clay
figurine height: 6"  width: 6"  depth: 6"

 

JENN E NORTON

uses botanical decorative motifs which anchor augmented reality animations that playfully draw upon recent studies of the communicative behaviors of plants and fungi through sound and enzymes. Black and white symbols reminiscent of art nouveau design serve as markers throughout the gallery which allow visitors to experience augmented reality content using mobile devices.​ ​The animated content reveals anthropomorphic botanical characters that are constructed from elements of existing plant life. Themes of animism and the flow of information via phenomena that operate outside of human perception are whimsically enacted within the interactions of the animated characters.

Jenn E Norton (Guelph, Ontario) is an artist using time-based media to create immersive, experiential installations that reframe familiar objects, landscapes, and activities as fantastical, dreamlike occurrences. Using stereoscopic, interactive video, animation, sound, and kinetic sculpture, Norton’s installation work explores the blurring boundaries of virtual and physical realms. Recent national and international exhibitions include a Canada wide touring solo exhibition, ​Slipstream;​ Lorna Mills’ Ways of Something in DREAMLANDS: IMMERSIVE CINEMA AND ART 1905–2016 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York; Doldrums at Beton7 in Athens, Greece; and in/FUTURE, at Ontario Place in Toronto. She is currently a PhD candidate in Visual Arts at York University.


Image info "Irises + Listening” augmented reality animation capture

Orbital Paths

The image seen here derives from the calculations of Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who was essential in plotting trajectories, launch windows and emergency return paths for Project Mercury, the first American human spaceflight in 1961, as well as the Apollo Lunar Module, Space Shuttle Program, and the mission to Mars, establishing the logistical workflow for subsequent NASA projects. Johnson began her career at NASA (formerly NACA) in 1953 as a mathematician in a position predominantly held by women referred to as "computers" to furnish the engineers with essential information pertaining variables such as wind gust alleviation. At this time, the southern United States was segregated, and Johnson and her coworkers were not permitted to work in the same room with their white colleagues, and their work was uncredited in documents. Johnson's calculations proved to be indispensable in the final stages of Project Mercury. In spite of much resistance amongst some of the senior NACA members, Johnson authored the report on the first manned spaceflight. "I finished the report and my name went on it, and that was the first time a woman in our division had her name on something." The pages seen floating into space in Orbital Paths represent pages from this report, and though the flight included one astronaut, Alan Shepard, two are included here, in honor of the first all-woman spacewalk by NASA astronauts Christine Koch and Jessica Meir.

 

SUPRALIMINAL SPACE​

curated by Laura Horne

Artists:

Janieta Eyre 

https://www.janietaeyre.com/

Sherri Hay 

http://www.sherrihay.com/ 

Amanda Konishi   

http://www.akonishi.com/

Christy Langer

https://vimeo.com/51457047

Olivia Lori   

http://www.olivialori.com/

Jenn E Norton

https://www.jennenorton.com/

TUSSLE PROJECTS is excited to present “Supraliminal Space”, an online exhibition exploring and documenting a realm that lies beyond the physical realm: the Metetherial World. Conceptualized by Frederic W. H. Myers in his collection of psychical essays entitled ​Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (​ 1903), the Metetherial World is posited as a wealth of images lying beyond the tangible environment we inhabit. Described as dream-like and as a holding space for apparitions which may not occupy our own system of physics, this world unfolds the malleable constructs of memory which adapt our identities and imaginations.

This adaptation is an important metamorphic process. New paths are created to dissect and reconfigure thought processes through the recording and reporting of new or rewritten myths. These myths are shared; they communicate a collective knowledge and experience.

The artists included in this exhibition use a diverse array of mediums to present supraliminal balancing points which may seem uncanny, magical, miraculous, superstitious, or even unreal at first, but like ancient stories, they are consumed to help foster a sense of the subliminal self. During this time of reflection and isolation imposed by the current COVID-19 pandemic, the varying perspectives collected in this exhibition remind of the necessity of diverging adaptations, and the prescience created by re-evaluation.

For additional images and pricing please email Laura Horne  tussleprojects@gmail.com

 

The Cat: Isabelle Eyre 

         

Light glances off the windshield as Sally turns into the parking lot. The lot is almost full and it takes her a minute of driving to find a spot. When she does, she pulls the car neatly in, shuts off the ignition and sits, watching as the grocery boy collects shopping carts. It’s a beautiful day. The sky is clear except for a few small, white clouds and the air slightly cool. She brushes down her hair with a hand and looks up to check her reflection in the rearview mirror.

      

        The mirror occasionally surprises her, revealing an emotion her thoughts haven’t given her time to register and so she is in the habit of meeting her own eyes slightly apprehensively. Today she looks happy. Pleased, she steps quickly out of the car, locks the door and slips her red leather bag up on one shoulder.

        She trips a little in the middle of the asphalt. She is wearing heels which are slightly higher than she is accustomed to. When she lifts her eyes from the ground an elderly woman calls across to her.

        “Don’t be yourself. Be silly!” The woman admonishes, while pushing an empty shopping cart. Her eyes are full of mischief and she’s wearing a black beret. Sally giggles. Her boyfriend loves it when she’s silly. His chief disappointment in their relationship is the fact she is not silly often enough.

      

It is exactly five minutes to ten as Sally moves through the automatic doors into the darkness of the corridor that runs past the grocery shop and proceeds to climb the stairs two at a time in order to exit on the outdoor sidewalk which leads to the medical building where she has her appointment.

 

 

Leaning into the door at the top of the stairs, she shields her eyes from the blinding sun as she walks past the Second-Hand Bookstore while glancing at the display. The man who runs the store is yellow haired and ruddy faced and smells of alcohol. Sally thinks he looks like he comes from a wealthy family and has been deposited there (out of harm’s reach) by his mother.  

       Inside the medical building, she presses the call button for the elevator. She can see herself in the mirrored wall and reflexively smiles as she is struck by the disconcerting feeling she is looking right into the face of her mother. The two of them share a distinctly Flemish coloring: pale hair, a pink complexion and blue eyes.

 

In the elevator, she reviews the reasons that have brought her here. She dislikes visiting this doctor, who looks frequently at a clock that has been artfully positioned to be visible right behind the shoulder of whomever is facing her. Sally knows she can’t be very interesting and that is something of a relief, considering the woman’s a psychiatrist, but she would very much like her fifty minutes to yield re-assurance that the prescription for the sleeping pills she’s driven here to have refilled are not part of what the news recently referred to as a nation-wide addiction.

       “Don’t be yourself. Be silly!”  She hears the old woman in the parking lot interject into her thoughts. Her advice is likely better than what the doctor has on offer, Sally muses. Being her self hasn’t been so great this far. And it’s true that when she’s silly, it’s because a sadness she so often feels, is absent.

       She smiles shyly at a woman standing across from her, and then waves at the baby in the stroller. At the sixth floor she gets off, walks past a pediatrician’s office and into the floor washroom. It’s small and claustrophobic but retains a feeling of sanctuary in the busy building. 

       It’s only recently she’s understood her father’s words to her when she was growing up. A historian, he sat her down one day as a teenager and tried to show her distress was natural by pointing out that meaning in life and events are visible only in retrospect.  

 

 

Her father possesses a tranquility that eludes Sally. He regards life with the kind of equanimity she imagines cartographers regard maps.

 

The doctor’s consulting room has windows. As Sally walks in, she considers the view with pleasure. There are lots of trees and the fact the houses are in tidy, vertical rows is delightful. Toronto looks much more orderly from up here than from on the ground. She wonders briefly if this is the perspective her father has when he looks at her. If it is, things are not as bad as they occasionally seem.

       She sinks down at the far end of the soft beige couch and after resting her bag by her feet, pulls a cushion into position behind her back. She studies the doctor discretely and notices her bad posture and the unflattering pink jacket with padded shoulders. She feels an additional stab of concern when she sees the creases of sadness around the doctor’s mouth are more pronounced.

       As if reading Sally’s thoughts and finding it necessary to re-establish the situational hierarchy, the doctor settles a pad of paper on her lap in a more business-like way than usual and asks pointedly, “So, how are things?”

  

 

Sally isn’t convinced talking helps, in fact sometimes it prises up a problem she wasn’t aware she had which then simmers in her all the drive home only to erupt in an argument with her boyfriend a few hours later as a grievance she had apparently been nursing some weeks.

       Her boyfriend’s thinking runs entirely counter to Western psychology. A small, square man with a pudding face, he possesses a gentleness Sally falls in love with again and again. It’s visible even in the way he sits, slightly slouched but awake, relaxed and alert simultaneously.

       The two of them met three years ago now and Sally is terrified of losing him. She’s never been like this before, or not that she can remember. He’s ten years younger than her and although they have been seeing each other for two years, he hasn’t told any of his friends.

       “How long can you last?” the doctor asks her, unhelpfully Sally thinks, as she has not yet thought of the situation as intolerable.

       This is the seed that grows in her as she drives along Eglinton home. “How long can I last?” she asks herself aloud.

       Lama’s explained his situation to her dozens of times and each time she’s silenced by it because truly she can’t quite imagine Tibet or India and the lag between values that exists between here and there. She does know though that it’s an added shame she’s divorced, already has a child and because of bad health, can’t have any more.

       The difficulty is she has grown up here in the West with a strong sense of women’s rights and despite her best efforts the secrecy of their relationship frequently arouses her anger. She is angry to think that anyone might think she has somehow defiled him although he assures her this is a misunderstanding.

       After arguing with him about it recently she went on Google and discovered there is a name for a woman like her: sang yum, the secret consort of a Lama.

       She hadn’t even known what a Lama was when she met him.  Since then she has read in different books that Lamas are capable of extraordinary things but after many questions she knows only this: that he has meditated alone for three months in one small room and it was the happiest time of his life. When she asked him how that was possible, he told her his guru had instructed him to go into his retreat with the intention of being happy.

 

 

Sally drives along the warm road with the windows of the car down, the mid day sun glancing off the car ahead. She’s getting all the lights and feels unexpectedly blessed and free.

       It’s mostly unimaginable to her and her friends that her boyfriend has spent much of his life as a monk in a Monastery in Northern India.  The men she knows especially can’t believe it but when he himself explained it, it made sense.

       He has been a monk since the age of fourteen and trained to avoid eye contact. Whatever desires he had were starved early and like a plant that is carefully pruned, he grew in different ways.

       He is open but not in the Western sense of the word. He lacks a great deal of the fear that constricts her and most of her friends and this has helped him make her happy in a way she never knew possible. From the very beginning of their romance he has loved her so utterly without reservation, it makes her cry thinking of it. He loves in the same way her daughter loves, with innocence and an energy she has never known in another adult.

       What has she done to deserve this extraordinary good fortune? Even by her mother’s account, her life until now hasn’t been easy, though it shocked Sally to hear someone else say it, it shocked her to hear her mother say it.

       Her mother is a tough pulled up by her own bootstraps kind of woman. Maybe it’s true, Sally thinks, maybe I have had a hard life, although it didn’t feel particularly hard when her mother was pointing it out, holding a glass of white wine and regarding Sally coolly from the green couch in the living room. She has a gorgeous daughter, a house and although her career as a real estate agent isn’t exactly flourishing she is forever the beneficiary of the kindness of others, the kindness of the Universe even, and certainly the kindness of her mother, who has often helped her financially since her divorce.

       When she asked her boyfriend his opinion, he told her she has now burned up her bad karma and all that remains are some bad habits associated with it. Sally knows what he means. She is forever anxious, and her anxiety is an unnecessary vigilance if the bad karma has indeed gone.

       She pulls the car to a stop having finally met a red light, and flicks on the right indicator. A cyclist surges by and she feels a rush of love for the young red haired girl, a few years older than her daughter. 

       “You’re going to be a grandmother,” her boyfriend announced unexpectedly some time ago. He said it with such conviction Sally felt her habitual apprehension ease. It was later she realized he

had said it not because he can see into the future but because he saw how much energy she was devoting to anxiety about Juliet.

       She is terrified of losing Juliet. She is terrified of men, boys, illnesses, cars and anything that might hurt her daughter. It is her life’s biggest challenge to accept she cannot protect her only child from suffering.

       Sally pulls the car into the liquor store parking lot, steps out and locks it. A disheveled man is sitting outside the door, grinning and holding out a can for money. She doesn’t give him any. She knows she should be less judgmental but she can’t help it.

       She walks into the cream-colored room with its rows of bottles thinking of the man’s mother and expecting they’d see eye to eye on this one. Though what surprises her when she leaves the store, her bottles clinking, is how the man says, “Have a good day,” with such sweetness. 

       Her boyfriend has the occasional drink. At first, she was appalled, afraid he’d turn alcoholic. She’s had enough to do with alcoholics and loving another is more than she is capable of, she thinks, turning on the ignition and opening all the windows. But he seems to have some kind of allergy to alcohol, which is secretly something of a relief. 

       She pulls back into traffic and begins thinking about dinner. She’s recently introduced Lama to pasta and he loves it, which pleases Sally immensely. She is good at pasta: she’s been cooking it for years and knows dozens of sauces. Her own appetite for meat and rice is finite, although that certainly isn’t the case for her boyfriend who eats it incessantly and with what she can see, very little variation.

       She indicates once again and pulls into the local grocery. A few minutes later as she yanks a cart from the train, she wonders what her daughter is doing at school. She visited her classroom recently. Apparently the first day of school the teacher announced: “I am not going to feed you like baby birds. You are going to learn to feed yourself.” 

       Sally was annoyed by this report. She’d had teachers like that herself. Their classes were invariably the most boring, being dominated by either the most ignorant or the most obnoxious of the students while the teachers lay back in their chairs and lazily crossed and re-crossed their ankles on the desk.

       She scans the board of coupons. What was it she wanted?  Her mind is blank. Her boyfriend is big on coupons. She herself isn’t inclined to look at them, she dislikes shopping and just buys what she needs, often managing well enough.

       She spots a coupon for mayonnaise. Hooray! She loves mayonnaise. She imagines the warmth of her boyfriend’s approval as she pushes the shopping cart towards the pyramids of citrus fruit. Lama told her Tibetans coming to Canada work really hard and are usually able to buy a house in two or three years because all they buy to eat is rice, meat, vegetables, oil and flour.

       “Tibetan food is very simple,” he said proudly, pointing out all the young Canadians who wasted their money eating in restaurants.    

       He is appalled by how much Sally spends on groceries so she has taken to going to Walmart on weekends with him, and shops at other grocery stores secretly.

 

Sally doesn’t much like being thrifty, she finds thinking about money alternately anxiety provoking or dull. Why should she constantly compare prices and run from shop to shop trying to get the best deal? There is something humiliating about it. 

       At the cash, she wonders if her daughter will eat lettuce or if she should have just bought more frozen peas. She piles her groceries on the conveyor belt and looks at the cashier who is middle aged like her self and wears a wedding ring. Now Sally is divorced, marriage seems like a safe place. Of course, it wasn’t when she was married.

       Though her real regret lies in what the divorce did to her daughter, who is now forced to live in two houses, with two different families. For what? For Sally to find out that her depression is simply catastrophic weather that destroys whatever is in its wake?  It’s true her daughter’s father is unkind and impatient and she didn’t feel loved by him, but Sally no longer feels he is a monster and neither apparently does his new wife and baby.

 

 

She wishes she could marry her boyfriend, she thinks, as the cashier smiles and chats easily to her. In the beginning of their relationship he asked her to marry him frequently and she said yes every time.  She realizes now he’d asked out of anxiety because from his point of view, Western women are known to change men as often as shoes.

       She packs the pasta and other things into her pink cloth bag and punches in her credit card code. One of the mothers of a child in her daughter’s class catches her eye from further down the line and gives her a tense, pre-occupied smile. This woman is also married and Sally invariably feels humbled her loveliness. She is sleek and well cared for, her hair is nicely streaked. Even her skin looks expensive.

       “You’re so strong,” another of the married mothers had remarked over tea. What she meant, Sally knew, was that she was strong because she was alone.

Sally had felt surprised, although she’d heard it before. The truth is intimacy is difficult for her. She finds it hard to express her feelings and freezes up and withdraws when hurt. To top it off, she is frightened of anger, including her own.

       She picks up her bag of groceries and shifts her purse back on her shoulder. As she leaves the grocery she looks at the older people sitting in the deli enjoying their lunch. Outside the sun has made the black car almost hot and the warmth feels lovely as she slips into her seat.

She watches as a grey-haired man returns his cart and pulls his car keys from his pocket, then looks up to admire the vivid blue of the Canadian sky and the intense green of the trees in contrast to it. This sky always reminds her of emigrating from England, of the shock of her first summer here, the heat rising so wetly from the grass in the morning and the loud ringing of the cicadas.

       A couple walks by and she feels vaguely self-conscious when they turn to look at her. It’s funny how she feels she should always be doing something.

       She thinks of her Dutch grandparents and how they’d sat contentedly twice a day met en kopje koffee en iets gezellig. Everyone together, her grandfather in his blue overalls and smelling of the farm, her grandmother’s knitting needles flying.

 

 

Tears start in her eyes and she feels her mouth and eyebrows begin to work. She can’t quite fathom the fragility or the transience of life.  Even inside a heavy metal car, behind a windscreen, she feels insubstantial and fleeting and it breaks her heart.

 

 

A little later, she draws the car in front of the garage and gets out to open the door. The garage is huge and crammed with furniture and pictures but everything is tidy and the floor has been swept clean.  Her boyfriend loves the garage and considers it his domain, which pleases Sally no end. He has organized it and tidied it so nicely  Sally almost wants to move out of the house and into it.

       She pushes open the door and starts at the shape by one of the kitchen chairs. After a minute, she realizes it’s just the clothes her daughter Juliet was wearing yesterday. She dropped them where the cat basket used to sit.

 

 

Sally thinks of her cat, who sat there in his basket for the last three years of his life. He stopped moving much when he turned fifteen, so Sally kept him in the kitchen, next to his food and water. When he stopped washing Sally tried to clean him but his fur became matted and terrible anyway.

       Then one day he stopped eating and Sally couldn’t bear it any longer. She had a doctor’s appointment so her boyfriend sat with the cat his last few hours, and when she came home she found him stroking the cat’s head and praying in a deep, lulling monotone. 

“What are you saying?” she’d asked.

       “Shhh…” he’d answered, and continued.

He fed the cat dharma pills and continued to pray at the vet after the injection had been administered and Sally was stroking the cat’s dear head.

       Lama had asked her why she didn’t leave the room as the cat died but she told him she didn’t want him to be scared so they stayed until the small white body became still.

 

 

She cried when she got home. She threw herself face down on her bed and sobbed the entire weekend. The cat was the one male who’d stayed with her. Seventeen years she’d had him. Seventeen years she’d come home to him, moved houses with him, slept with him.

       Her boyfriend had been alarmed by her grief and called her best friend saying he wasn’t sure what to do. He’d never seen anyone cry so much over a cat, people in Tibet didn’t feel like this about animals.

        

 

The extraordinary thing, she thought now and not for the first time, as she put the food away and surveyed the kitchen in its current state of chaos, was how the baby, how her ex’s new baby, had looked at her. Even the new wife had remarked on it. 

“Look,” she’d said to Sally’s ex-husband, “Look, he’s really interested in Sally!”

 

Lama had come with her one day to pick up her daughter and so she’d asked him.

“What do you think?” 

“Yes, I thought so too,” he told her as they drove home together, her daughter Juliet busy in the back seat with his iPhone. She watched as he counted off the days on his fingers of one hand while holding the steering wheel with the other.

“It’s the right number of days,” he said.

She knew the number of days would be forty-nine because that was the number a being spends formless before taking another incarnation. Something inside her melted with gratitude. She finally understood being human is a precious opportunity. Years of depression, reading dire forecasts and following wars across the world had blinded her. As well as her refusal to believe her boyfriend when he tried to teach her Buddhist thinking. “Books! Books! You sound like a book,” she’d yell impatiently when he attempted to assume the role of a teacher.

Even though the baby was barely two months old, his head covered in dark curls and his small body wrapped in a blanket, Sally had recognized him instantly. He looked at her the same way he’d always done, his head tipped slightly, before he mewed plaintively.