Sometimes your cat is a huntress

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It was a normal day.

Oof – what a way to start a story.  So rife with possibilities.  Anyway –

It really was a normal day.

Becca is off being a time traveler for the next couple weeks with her family five hours ahead in the UK, so it’s just me and Franny here at home.

Nothing too major was happening in the afternoon, so I went into the closet to get some audiobook recording knocked out.  A few times during my half-hour or so in there, I heard Franny meow out in the apartment proper.  I thought nothing of it and kept recording.

Then, I was startled by scratching at the closet door.  Oh no, I thought.  What the heck?  The cat was meowing nonstop and scratching at the door, so she obviously wanted my attention.

I opened the door to see the puss sitting on the floor with pride, a dead mouse in front of her.  Using her paw, she pushed it toward me gently.  Giving another purr, she looked into my eyes and waited for a response.

A few things went through my mind:

1. What the hell.

2. That’s a dead mouse.  Where did that come from?

3. Did she really kill this thing?  I mean, she’s killed flies and roaches before, but this is a MOUSE.

4. Oh my god.  She’s so cute.  She’s presenting it to me.  She wants me to have it.

This final thought taking precedence in my head, I praised her.  I mean, heck, she just killed a pest!  Huzzah, little Amazon!  Huzzah!

Out of meat, and with a cat that hates cat treats, I gave her some catnip to occupy her while I went to get paper towels with which to dispose of the catch.

When I came back from the kitchen, Franny was sauntering toward me with the mouse in her mouth.  It may sound weird, but she was ridiculously cute with the thing hanging from her pard.

Then she started to play with it.  She lay down and began throwing the animal up into the air and batting it with her paws.  I politely asked her to stop (also I made her).  Annoyed, but compliant, she set it down on her scratchpad, then turned away.  I picked up the dead animal and wrapped it in paper.  I disposed of the thing, and that’s when the fun started.

Franny had no idea where it went.

She was bereft, to say the least.  She began to meow and circle the scratchpad.  She pawed at the spot where it once was.  She tried to flip the scratchpad over.  This went on for about ten minutes, so I decided I would help the girl out.  I titled the scratchpad on its side so she could see there was nothing under it.  The mouse was gone.  The search continued.  For another hour, she stalked the living room, looking behind items, looking under furniture, pawing at the scratchpad, and meowing up a storm.

Poor thing.

Eventually she gave up the hunt, and resigned to be ready for the next one.

(WHICH I HOPE NEVER HAPPENS.  LET’S NOT FORGET THERE WAS A MOUSE IN MY APARTMENT SOMEWHERE.)

The moral of the story, however, is that I have the best cat in the world, and she is a mighty huntress, and I feel safer knowing she’s guarding us from ferocious rodents.

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Sometimes you name strangers’ cats.

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None of these cats are featured in this post. But boy, are they cute.

My girlfriend and I have three cats.

There’s the one who lives with us, the one that Becca adopted a few years ago.  She’s charming, moody, and snuggly.  The perfect cat.  She’s all we could ever want.

However, there are two more cats in our life:

1. Tito.  One day, as we were walking up our street, we saw a cute little black and white kitten sitting in an open window.  He was observant and curious, watching the world go by from the safety of an old Puerto Rican lady’s kitchen.  Tito, we named him.  Over the past year or so, we’ve watched this little kitten grow into a big kitten.  He’s one of our great joys of living here.  Every single day, every single time either of us passes that window, we look up.  About sixty percent of the time, we see Tito.  We get so excited that we even text each other when we see him.  No joke:  “Tito!!!” the text usually reads.  We’ve even started to imagine that he and Franny have begun a secret love affair, which brings me to:

2. Pouncival.  Early on in our residency at our Manhattan castle, we looked across the courtyard to see a stunning white cat seated on a window next to the fire escape.  This is Pouncival.  He is Franny’s actual boyfriend.  In the Moulin Rouge version of our lives, if Franny equals Satine, Pouncival is The Duke.  Tito is Christian.  Franny is nominally betrothed to the stunning coat and manicured nails of the gentleman across the way, but her heart belongs to the Puerto Rican street tough that may or may not show up from day to day.

This is how we pass the time, waiting until there are new cats for us to call our own.

Sometimes you have a bench. And it’s all yours. And it’s amazing.

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In the American Museum of Natural History, there is a bench.

This is my bench.

(Pay no attention to the photograph above.  That’s not my bench.  My bench is so much more awesome than that bench.)

My bench is the best bench.  It is not a fancy bench, high-backed or elaborately carved. It is not an artsy bench, made of gum wrappers or heart-shaped paper clips.  It is not a famous bench, or an oft-used bench, or even an attractive bench.

But this it is my bench.

It is not my bench in the prosaic sense of ownership.  I do not “own” the bench.  I did not purchase the bench.  I did not carve the bench out of a giant sequoia.  I did not donate a certain amount of money to the museum to have my name engraved on the thing.  I did not put the hulking piece of wood there and arrange it with the objects around it to my liking.  But it is mine, nonetheless.

This is where I write.

Most every day, I take up my notebook and my pen and leave my Manhattan castle.  I ride the underground rails down to the 81st street stop.  I get off the train and enter the museum underground.  After flashing my handy membership card, I wander the museum at leisure for an hour or so. In this hour, I listen to instrumental music and make my way through the halls.  One day, I will be able to say that I have read every word on every plaque in every hall in the place.  

I’m not there yet.

Still, headway is being made, and that is what this wandering hour is for.

After my intellectual appetite is satiated, I head to my bench.  It is in an oft-forgotten, ill-frequented hall, in a boring section that hardly anyone goes to, behind a glass case.  If you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t know it was there.  🙂

Unfortunately, I cannot disclose to you, the reader, which bench is mine.  I do this for several reasons:

Reason One: You would go looking for it.  You would agree with me that it’s the best bench in the world and you would go there to write, too.  Then it would be really awkward when I went there one day and found you spread out like you owned the place and I had to punch you in the throat because you stole my bench, you cad.

Reason Two: You would broadcast it.  You would Tweet about it: #bestbenchever.  You would Instagram it with a hazy filter.  You would create a video of you extolling the bench and post it to Vine.  Or you’d tell your friends over brunch: “Hey, I heard about this awesome bench, guys.”  No thank you, sir.  Not gonna let that happen.

Reason Three: I’m incredibly superstitious and I feel like if I tell you it won’t be a good writing spot anymore.  No joke.

Anyway, back to my bench:  it’s glorious.  Out of the way, against the wall, with hardly any foot traffic that happens by, it’s my personal Shangri-La.  Without fail, every time I sit there I am able to write well.  And if not well, then at least prolifically.  

It is there that I have traveled back to 19th-century London.  It is there that I have flown through the air with faeries.  It is there that I have journeyed into a dystopian future, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in a horse-drawn carriage, kidnapped a child with a senile elderly woman, shared a first kiss, thrown a punch, and even checked my email.

It’s one of the most precious and exciting places in the world to me right now, and I’m so glad I found it.

Just wanted to share.

🙂

Sometimes you have a *click click* ssssssssss-steam leak.

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While we were on vacation our apartment was left unattended from 18 December to 11 January.  (Sorry, burglers.  Even if I had told you this before the fact, there really wasn’t much in there to satisfy.)

This was the longest stretch it had been sitting empty in, like, forever.  As least in the four years I’ve lived there.  Needless to say, I was a bit concerned.  Not I’m-going-to-set-up-a-nanny-cam-to-make-sure-everything-is-ok-everyday concerned, but at least I-think-about-it-every-so-often-and-hope-everything-is-ok concerned.

I had left a card for our superintendent (complete with Christmas tip) and let him know we were going to be out of town for that stretch of time, asking him to keep an eye on things and grab our mail if it overflowed.  All seemed well.

The vacation happened.

We come back home (after an exhausting day of traveling, much of which was delayed) at 2am.  We open the door to our apartment and there, in the middle of the kitchen floor, is our window A/C unit.  That was IN the window when we left.  There is the Christmas tree, star akimbo, wearing only half our ornaments.  The rest are on the ground in various pieces.  Curious.

We put down our bags and investigate.  There is no sign of forced entry.  There’s nothing stolen.  There’s nothing broken.  Everything in the apartment is a little sticky.  Everything in the apartment looks like it got wet.  The floors are sticky.  The walls are streaked.  The dishes look like they had dirty water in them at one point.

“There must have been a leak,” we say.  “But why is the A/C moved?  Why did the tree obviously fall?  And why is it not messy?”  One would assume that, if there was a leak, things would be much dirtier and disgusting than they are.  Especially since someone obviously came into our apartment to do something (in theory, fix the leak).  And where did the leak come from?  There’s no origin point in the ceiling or anything.

Confused, we went to bed.

The next day was Sunday, so I couldn’t talk to the super.  It’s his day off.  We cleaned instead.  All the stickiness.  All the warped books.  All the streaks on the walls.  It was so weird.  We couldn’t even ask our cat what had happened because we took her with us!

When I finally caught up with my super, I got the story.  And it all makes sense:

During the deepfreeze that hit the east coast, the heat was cranked up.  We have radiator heat.  The force from the steam must have been so powerful that it popped the cap off the radiator.  Steam billowed into the apartment (for how long, who knows? A day? A week? I shudder at the thought.)  A neighbor saw the steam and thought it was smoke.  They called 911.  The fire department came.  My super couldn’t find the keys to our apartment.  The fire department climbed up the fire escape, busted the A/C out of the window, knocking over the Christmas tree right in front of the window.  

They came in and did whatever needed to happen to fix the radiator, but the place was still moist.  I imagine it was rather like a steam room.  The super and fire department left, closing the door behind them.  The steam could not escape.  Now that it was cooling down in the apartment, it turned to liquid and rained down from the ceiling over everything.  And then we came home at 2am on the 12th of January befuddled to no end.

Thankfully, nothing was damaged, no claims need to be filed.  Some of our books have warped covers, but that’s pretty much it.  Our Fosse-esque steam leak (it’s not really Fosse-esque unless you describe it like this post’s title, but that’s ok) was minor.  All’s well.

Now we just have to keep our eye out for mold!

Good to be home!!  🙂

Sometimes you hear things about people in the pursuit of art.

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My gal and I have an etsy shop.  It started off as a really cool idea for her – making these adorable little baking mixes in mason jars.  She does all the rest, you just add love.  (That’s the name of our shop, by the way: JustAddLoveNYC)

Anyway, as I am also a musician, we thought we’d put up an ad on the shop site for personalized songs.  The concept – Ya need a song?  I’ll write it.

Thus far, I’ve done a few that have all been received quite well.  I just received an order for a personalized Christmas song and it struck me – these people send me a good bit of information about themselves.

I mean, the first song was for a company.  Yes, I wrote the theme song to the UK children’s play group Jelly Roles (www.jellyroles.co.uk).  So that wasn’t as personal.

Another one was an order from a nanny here in NYC.  She was leaving the country soon and wanted to leave a song for the two little girls she had been watching for years and years.  I got a lot of information about her, her two little kids, and the fun stuff they do together all the time.  

The Christmas song order is from a wife to her husband of 20+ years.  She was very helpful when she emailed me the information I ask for and gave me A TON of stuff to work with: hobbies, nicknames, habits, work info, moods, their relationship.

I find it’s a bit odd, knowing so much about people that I don’t actually know.  There’s that little squirmy feeling in my gut when I think too hard about it, like I have this almost-power over them.  Really, let’s be honest – I don’t.  I don’t think I can steal anybody’s identity with a hobby and a nickname.  And I really don’t think I can blackmail anyone by knowing how they take their coffee and how many Christmas songs they have in their iTunes.

Still, it’s an interesting feeling.  I’ve decided to take it as a gift.  I get to glance into others’ lives – if only briefly – and discover more about my fellow humans.  And that’s pretty fun.

(Coincidentally, if any of you are looking for pre-made baking mixes or personalized songs for the holidays, do visit us: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/JustAddLoveNYC.)

🙂

 

 

 

Sometimes it’s a Wednesday matinee

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As you may or may not know, Wednesday matinees in the theatre world are the preferential performance for those above seventy years old to attend.
The confluence of three hundred bodies on their way out of this world is something to behold.
This proves for memorable (and ridiculous) conversations for me, whose job it is to deal with them.

Here is one such conversation. Everything below is 100% true. Nothing has been falsified for effect. I’ll set the stage, as it were:
The show is going. We’re about a half-hour in.
I hear a cellphone ring. The ringtone is MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.”
I begin my survey of the audience. Where is it coming from? Is anyone reaching to turn it off?
I follow the sound to the center of the back row. Easy. It’s one of two white-haired people. They look to be a couple, so I kneel behind them and speak to them both.
Me: Please turn off your cell phone.
Man (loudly): What?!
Me: Please turn off your cell phone.
Woman: He doesn’t have a cell phone.
Me: Then please turn off your cell phone.
Woman: My cell phone’s not on.
Me: I hear a cell phone ring coming from your purse. (on her lap)
Woman: That’s not my cell phone.
Me: Ma’am, it’s coming from your purse. I see the light and can see it vibrating. (it was even jingling the clasp on the purse)
Woman: You’re wrong. That’s not my ring.
Man: I’m trying to watch the show! Be quiet!
Woman: Don’t yell at me – your phone is on!
Man: I don’t have a cell phone!
Woman: Oh right. Well, it’s not mine.
(the cell phone ring ends and starts up again – still MC Hammer)
Me: Ma’am, turn off your cell phone.
Woman: That’s not my phone! I don’t have a young person song as my ring!
Me: Ma’am, please could you check to make sure?
Woman: This is ludicrous! You’re bothering my husband with all this.
Me: Please just check.
Woman: Alright, if you want to look a fool. (Takes the phone from her purse. It is vibrating lighting up, and playing MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”)
Me: Please turn it off, Ma’am.
Woman: Someone changed my ring! I don’t even know this song! I turned my phone off when I sat down!
Me: Please turn it off, Ma’am.

This is my job.

Sometimes customers suck. All the time. Even in Army.

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I’m gonna say the point of this graphic is to show “building a bridge to the customer” or “figuring out how to reach the customer” or some other stupid thing like that.

Like any self-respecting artist who needs to buy things like food and shelter, I work in customer service.  I interface with the public.  I solve problems.  I apologize.  A lot.  I let people feel that they are appreciated and necessary.  It’s the pits, but I’m good at it.

It all started when I put on a bright red polo shirt and took drive-through orders at a Hardee’s Restaurant in my hometown.  Since then, it’s been a dizzying spiral into customer service-land that has seen me at zoos, aquariums, skating rinks, museums, theaters, and even the Army.

What?  Customer service in the Army?  You silly kitten – what the heck are you yappin’ about?

I’m talking about being a medic.

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The medic in all his glory.

Really, a medic is not all about running around on the battlefield with a tourniquet.  Sure, that’s the origin of the job.  And that’s what really gets most guys’ blood pumping.  Sometimes I’ll be monitoring a firing range and I’ll get to hear the cry of “Medic!” and I’ll have to hop to it.  But most of what I do as a medic is sitting around in a clinic doing this:

 

ImageAfter I wait for a bit like this, someone comes in with a cold.  This person tells me they are dying.  They have an upper respiratory infection.  They cannot go back to the cold, rainy field, they say.  They must stay in the barracks all day and sleep.

It is with this person that I must use the same skills I have perfected with Mid-Western families, with cranky New York City tourists, and with overly-entitled elderly theatre subscribers.  I must be an ambassador of customer service.  Somehow I must explain to this person that they’re an idiot, they’re not dying, and they’re going to have to go back outside and it’s going to suck a lot.

This is what I go through one weekend a month and two weeks a year.  These past two weeks I’ve been up at Fort Drum, NY, doing this every single day.  Here are some choice conversations from that time period:

(While out getting lunch, the medic cell phone rings.  This usually signals an emergency.)
MEDIC: Hello?
PATIENT: Hey, I think my hand is broken.
MEDIC: Your hand is broken?  What happened?
PATIENT: I fell on it and now it’s broken.
MEDIC: Is it bruised or swollen?
PATIENT: Yeah.
MEDIC: Is it bleeding?
PATIENT: What?
MEDIC: Is it bleeding?
PATIENT:  I don’t know.
MEDIC: What do you mean, you don’t know?
PATIENT: I can’t see.
MEDIC: You can’t see if your hand is bleeding?
PATIENT: No, how would I be able to see that?
MEDIC: Do you see any blood?
PATIENT: What?
MEDIC: Do you see blood?
PATIENT: Blood?
MEDIC: You know that red stuff that’s inside your body?
PATIENT: Yeah.
MEDIC: Is any of it on the outside of your body?
PATIENT: Oh!  No.
MEDIC: Ok, you’re fine for the moment.  We’ll be there after lunch.

(In the barracks, showered and changed and ready for bed, the medic cell phone rings.  Another emergency?)
MEDIC: Hello?
PATIENT’S SERGEANT: Hey, do you guys have any of those asthma inhalers?
MEDIC: We do…  But what’s going on?
PATIENT’S SERGEANT: I have a soldier who needs one.
MEDIC: What’s happening with them?
PATIENT’S SERGEANT: She can’t breathe.  She needs an inhaler.
MEDIC: Ok, but why can’t she breathe?  What does she look like?
PATIENT’S SERGEANT: I don’t know.  She’s coughing a lot and she says she needs an inhaler.
MEDIC: Does she have asthma?
PATIENT’S SERGEANT: I don’t know.
MEDIC: Has she ever been prescribed an inhaler?
PATIENT’S SERGEANT:  Jesus, I don’t know.  Here, I’m going to put her on the phone.  You can talk to her.
MEDIC:  Wait, she’s ok to talk on the phone?
PATIENT’S SERGEANT: Yeah, hold on.
MEDIC: So she can breathe?
PATIENT: Hello?
MEDIC: Hey, what’s going on?
PATIENT (in perfectly normal voice): I need an inhaler.
MEDIC: Ok, are you having trouble breathing?
PATIENT: Yeah, I’m coughing a lot.
MEDIC: Do you have a cold?
PATIENT: I don’t know.  Maybe.  I’ve had bronchitis for three years and I need an inhaler.  I used to have one but I don’t have it here.  It’s been awhile.
MEDIC: Ok, well it’s pretty impossible for you to have bronchitis for three years.  Do you have asthma?
PATIENT: No.
MEDIC: Have you ever been prescribed an inhaler?
PATIENT: No.
MEDIC: Ok, well for us to give you an albuterol inhaler, you need to have been prescribed one.
PATIENT: Oh, that’s a prescription thing?
MEDIC: Yeah.
PATIENT: Well, no I don’t have a prescription but I’ve used one before.  And I’m coughing a lot because these barracks are stuffy and it’s cold in there at night.
MEDIC: Ok, so there are a few things happening here.  One, you don’t have a prescription for an inhaler.  Two, you can’t have had bronchitis for three years.  Three, you’re speaking perfectly fine and haven’t coughed at all since you’ve been on the phone with me.  So go to bed and come in to sick call in the morning if you still feel like you’re having trouble
PATIENT: When’s sick call?
MEDIC: 5:30 to 7:30.
PATIENT: Oh.  Nah, that’s too early and I don’t want to go through all the trouble.  I’m fine.  I’ll just have my mom buy me an inhaler on line and have her send it to me.
MEDIC:  …ok.
PATIENT: Bye.
MEDIC: Bye.

(During sick call)
PATIENT: I have a lump on my ovary.
MEDIC: And what makes you say that?
PATIENT: That’s what it said online.
(This patient had an ingrown hair on her crotch.)

(Also during sick call)
PATIENT: I’m pregnant.
MEDIC: Ok, when was your last menstrual period?
PATIENT: Years ago.  I’m on the birth control where I don’t get periods.
MEDIC: When did you stop taking it?
PATIENT: Taking what?
MEDIC: The birth control.
PATIENT: I haven’t.
MEDIC: Then why do you think you’re pregnant?
PATIENT: Because I had sex about two weeks ago and now I have really bad cramps and nausea.  I’m pregnant.
MEDIC: Ok, but you never stopped taking birth control?
PATIENT: No.
MEDIC.  Ok…  Let’s take a pregnancy test.
PATIENT: I don’t need to.  I know I’m pregnant.
MEDIC:  Let’s just do one for shits and giggles.
PATIENT: Ok, whatever.
(The pregnancy test comes back negative.)
MEDIC:  So, it doesn’t look like you’re pregnant.  What else is going on?  Has your diet changed at all?
PATIENT: That test is wrong.
MEDIC: Nope it’s not.  Do you have any flu-like symptoms?
PATIENT: No, I told you – I’m pregnant.
MEDIC: Let’s just pretend you’re not for a second.  What else is going on?
PATIENT: Well, I haven’t pooped in a few days.
(This patient was constipated.)

(Out to lunch.  The medic cell phone rings.  Must be an emergency.)
MEDIC: Hello?
MOTOR POOL GUY: You have to get back to the motor pool right now!  Someone just broke their leg!
MEDIC: Ok, what happened?
MOTOR POOL GUY: She was walking around the motor pool, and then she fell into a big hole, and then her leg was broken.  She says she can’t feel her leg!
MEDIC: Ok, is it bleeding?
MOTOR POOL GUY: No, but she’s on the ground screaming in pain!  I’ve never seen anyone like this!!  Oh my god!!!
MEDIC: Ok, we’re on our way.
(After we leave our lunch, the phone rings halfway back to the motor pool)
MEDIC: Hello?
MOTOR POOL GUY: Hey, don’t worry about coming.  Her leg just fell asleep.
MEDIC: Her leg fell asleep?
MOTOR POOL GUY: Yeah, her leg fell asleep.  She’s up and walking again now.
MEDIC: You’re sure?
MOTOR POOL GUY: Yeah, she’s fine.  It’s never happened to her, apparently.
MEDIC: Awesome.  And how old is she?
MOTOR POOL GUY: I don’t know.  40’s?
MEDIC: So of course her leg has never fallen asleep before…

And there were so many more.

But don’t worry, folks.  No matter how stupid the customer, no matter how inane the complaint, I shall always be there, using my customer service skills, standing tall, and looking studly like this guy:
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HAPPY VETERAN’S DAY, EVERYONE!!!!!!