Sunday, April 27, 2008

Every 5 years

Where were you...

1970: Two years old, living with my parents in Texas. Mom stayed home with me and I liked to bang on pots and pans, swim, and look at myself in the shiny step trash can.

1975: Seven yo, living in Catonsville with my mom, though spending large chunks of time at my grandparents' house in Brooklyn. My parents were separated and going back and forth with their relationship, not telling me a thing, and my mom was seriously depressed. I was a latch key kid and loving the solitude and autonomy. My best friend was Kelly, who lived down the block. I was insanely jealous of my friends who went to Catholic school. I was desperate to go to Catholic school for some reason.

1980: 12 yo, living at my grandparents' house with my mom. In 7th grade, arguably the very best grade of my school career. I went to school a one hour/2 bus ride away, had tons of homework, tons of awesome friends. On weekends I either went to my dad's or took the bus downtown to meet my friends and scamper around H-place.

1985: 17 yo, living in CV with my mom, in 11th grade. In the midst of a serious depression which ultimately resulted in a serious suicide attempt and withdrawl from school. One of the worst years of my life, I felt completely alone and awful and yet imprisoned by my crazy ass parents.

1990: 22 yo, living in Cville again, renting the basement apt in my mom's house with my new husband J. Working full time as a receptionist, going to school on and off, having lots of parties, seeing lots of concerts. Happy in some ways but struggling in others. Adopted the Pam-Cat.

1995: 27 yo, living in Mt Washington with E. Been divorced for a few years now, now working part time and almost finished my BA. Loving my internship at CB, becoming friends with Wa, Ken, Patricia, Shannon et al. Have my Pam & Ike cats.

2000: 32 yo, living with E in our house in CV. Finished my MSW last year, still working at CB but have been promoted. E is getting sick, needs a biopsy; it's scary. We get married in our house with a small group of close friends and family.

2005: 37 yo, same house, same job, but the family composition has changed: We have a Sammy! He is 3. Pammy died 2 yrs ago and we adopted Miranda since Ike was so lonely. My grandfather passed away four years ago.

Thus far, 2008: My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia and moved into an assisted living facility in PA. My uncle and aunt moved to SC. Sam started kindergarten. Iky got cancer, lived for a few years with treatment, and recently died.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Me too, stolen


Q. What is your wallpaper on your computer? yellow tulips
Q. How many televisions you have in your house? 1 in the living room. One in the big bedroom


Q. Are you right-handed or left-handed? right
Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body? mole on my lower back that made the anesthesiologist nervous when i got my epidural
Q. What is the last heavy item you lifted? sam, all 53 lbs of him when he asked me to carry him upstairs on my back
Q. Have you ever been knocked out? almost when i ran into a door frame while playing Chase with the Pam-Cat


Q. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die? maybe; yes if i were sick
Q. If you could change your name, what would you change it to? something with a K sound...Kailee, Katie, Kelly...or Ginger, which I love for unknown reasons
Q. What colour do you think looks best on you? blue or green. really anything but white/cream/yellow/brown is fine
Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item? yep


Q. Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100? i don't need money
Q. Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000? no
Q. Would you never blog again for $50,000? maybe; how you gonna stop me?
Q. Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000? no
Q. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1,000? probably
Q. Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000? no


Q: What is in your left pocket? not a thing
Q: Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good film? i haven't seen it, much to the disbelief of my husband who kept trying to converse with me about the other day, even though i kept saying "I haven't seen it!"
Q: Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house? hardwood
Q: Do you sit or stand in the shower? stand
Q: How many pairs of flip flops do you own? 1 may have none, they all fell apart at end of last summer


Q: Last person who texted you? husband
Q: Last person who called you? one of my clients, can't remember which call came last, the calls come nonstop all day
Q: Person you hugged? samster


Q: Number? 3
Q: Season? summer b/c of swimming!
Q: Colour? purple


Q: Missing someone? iky
Q: Mood? pleasant and calm
Q: Listening to? the guys at the Punjab store behind my house talking in the alley
Q: Watching? gettin ready to watch the Idol. bye, brooke :(
Q: Worrying about? why i never get to see melissa anymore
Q: Wearing? blue shirt with little white flowers & dark blue shorts


Q: First place you went this morning? took Sam to school
Q: What can you not wait to do? go to the pool
Q: Do you smile often? all the time
Q: Are you a friendly person? usually

Sunday, April 20, 2008

for Larry

ashes and dust

you filter through
my fingers today into
the vast murky
blue below

i can remember
the sweatshirt you sent
from your New York show
i still have it, twenty
years later, i will never
throw it away

it's all i have
of you, that and pictures
of your panel and tabloids
after your death

i love that you always
spelled my name wrong
you didn't finish
school but i did
because you were
gone but not forgotten

my mother told me
she asked
you for that favor: watch
over my daughter

thank you

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why I Love Wa

Nobody is lukewarm about Warren. People love him, people hate him. A lot of people are terrified of him. He is mighty intense. I love when people say "I think Warren might be mad at me." Oh, no, honey, if you have to ask, he's not mad. If he is pissed at you, you will know. There's not a passive-agressive bone in his body.

He's got high standards, and if you have an ethical failing, watch out. He is loyal to a fault and expects the same. He doesn't take any shit. But he will listen when you say you're sorry, and if he says he is letting it go, he means it.

Even those who hate him respect him. It's really hard not to when he is so straight forward. You can trust him with your life and he will be there when you need him, provided you do not come bearing orange-dusted food or try to touch his neck (or other sensitive parts). He's not a hugger but he will give you one when you really need it.

He's wicked funny with a sick and twisted sense of humor. He will visit animal shelters with me for fun, which not many people will, though he gets us in trouble by going into rooms marked "keep out." He eats Berger cookies every day. He has the bladder of an eight-months-pregnant woman.

He's a unique, endearing, complicated, cynical, sensitive person. He is one of my closest friends and most favorite people.

Love you Wa. I'm saving a bag of Cheetoes just for you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Didn't know it

I've written poetry since I was a grade schooler, pretty much the standard fare, though I did have a teacher in 6th grade who went loopy over it. Then adolesence was filled I am sure with lots of maudlin, dramatic crap, though again I had some teachers who liked it. I was admitted to a poetry workshop at a summer humanities camp when I was 13; when I got to camp I discovered that out of the 100 or so kids there, most had tried to get in for the poetry track but were accepted instead for their 2nd or 3rd place choices. I was one of only about 10 kids selected for poetry. The camp itself I hated, but the poetry classes were amazing.

When I was in college I took another poetry workshop with my favorite professor. We wrote and critiqued in three hour long sessions, outside in the sun. It was fabulous. My professor took me aside a few weeks in and gave me the news: she said I had what it took to be a "real" working poet, like Sharon Olds or Pamela White Haddas, but I needed to start writing for several hours a day, every day, if I wanted to give it a shot.

I told J and he was more excited than I was. I think he loved the idea of having a wife who was a poet. Very chic, very arty. However, for me the idea of spending my life immersed in my poems meant a life stewing in pain and despair and terror. My poems are not pretty. My ultimate goal in writing a poem is to convey emotions vividly enough to induce physical sensation in the reader: nausea, shivers, tears. So the process of writing that poem is often quite harrowing.

While certainly satisfying to know I have some talent, I didn't need to think too long about whether to pursue poetry as a career. I knew I could not do that and also have a reasonably happy life. Obviously others can, but for me, it was a one-way ticket to the bell jar. I don't have the glamourous title of Poet, but I also don't have my head in the oven, which seems like a good deal to me.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Where'd you get that?

Sam gets from me:
strange need to put his feet on top of things
skin coloring & ability to tan
eye/head/mouth shape
body size & shape
extreme emotional sensitivity
artistic abilities
love of games
math ability
flair for the dramatic

Sam gets from E:
eye color
ability to focus
tendency toward introversion
aversion to strangers
sensory integration issues
love of science

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dreams and recovery

I thought Sam was doing ok with losing Ike, and then Thursday night, about an hour after I went to bed, he awoke sobbing. He had a dream about Iky. Amidst sobs and screams, he howled "I miss Iky! He was my first pet! He was my best friend! I want more time!" Nothing I could do would soothe him. Finally, after over an hour, we all sat on the living room sofa and watched Thomas episodes.
Miranda keeps looking in every corner of the house for Ike. She is glued to our sides and the other night pretty much chased me into bed.

I just feel hollowed out, and feel a need to be surrounded by cats. I am thinking about volunteering at the SPCA soon. Everyone in my life has been just lovely to me: I got a card at work, many many emails, and one dear friend even made a donation to an arboreteum in Ike's name. So I feel blessed at the same time as I feel sad.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Go gently, sweet boy

I drove to Clarksville this morning, just me and Ike. Iky, who would usually scream the whole way, made one sad cry and then was silent. The night had been miserable, with E and I taking turns lying next to Ike on the floor, watching him breathe heavily and groan and cry.

I carried Ike into the dimly lit consultation room and sat on the sofa holding him. Then he struggled off to sit on the cool floor; I sat with him, stroking his shiny black head. Because he was so anemic and there might be trouble getting a vein, the vet gave him a sedative, but Ike still didn't relax, he just seemed bothered by the taste in his mouth from the medicine. The vet shaved his leg and found the vein easily. Quickly, peacefully, silently, Ike finally relaxed in my arms. His head softened onto the crook of my elbow as she said "He's gone."

My dear little cat, my friend for the last 16 years, where would I have been without you through all those lonely days, when every human had disappointed me, hurt me? I can feel your warm furry body, hear your rhythmic purring, smell your freshly groomed scent. For a long time it was just you and me and Pammy. We lost her together, and I hope you are somewhere together again. I have loved you and cherished you more than I can ever describe, and I will miss you forever. You were one of a kind.

In Memory of Ike

Eisenhower Brinsley

January 1992-April 9, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Say goodnight

So we took Ike to the vet this morning, and indeed we are at the end. We decided to bring him home so that Sam could say goodbye. Now we are waiting.

I will miss Ike's nightly "hunts," which involve incessant yowling as he struts around the house, sometimes for five minutes, sometimes for 20. Years ago he hunted pizza menus during this process. For the past few years it's been his "sock," a very ratty sock-like cat toy. It is difficult to convey how loud this yowling can get. Like where-did-he-get-a-microphone loud. Before Sam was born, and our hours became more unpredictable, he would "close up shop" every night while we prepared for bed. One night when I was pregnant we stayed up until 4 a.m., watching a movie. After about 1 a.m., Ike strolled through the room every 20 minutes or so, giving us the evil eye and doing the cat version of harumphing. Apparently he couldn't retire until we did. He was not pleased.

Soon my nights will be far too quiet, for my little lion will no longer be protecting me. I will miss my boots cat more than I can say.

Monday, April 07, 2008

16 years

J and I had a lovely little cat named Pam. She would watch us leave for work or parties or the movies, staring out the living room window. She seemed lonely, and we thought she needed a cat friend. To make the adjustment easier for her, we wanted to get a kitten.

It was mid-March and there were only two 8-week old kittens in my favorite shelter, the one from which I adopted Pam, and where I had volunteered long ago. Two brothers, one black and the other a classic "boots cat": black with white boots, tummy and face. Little Boots Cat, I immediately knew was my Iky.

Iky was the silliest kitten. He and his brother gave great chase around the room, irritating the few adult cats to no end. Ike would run into one, be hissed at, and back up, cartoon-like. He seemed to instantly like me, climbing up my pants leg, then my sweater, and finally perching on top of my head, a trick he performed several times.

We left to think it over, though I knew I wanted Iky. The next day I was working, but J had a the day off, and I begged him to go get Iky before someone else snapped him up. While at the shelter, J called me to say he might get an older cat--he was afraid Iky would get on Pam's nerves. I took a deep breath and told him to do what he felt was best.

When I came home from work, I found to my great delight, a freshly adopted Iky. He emitted a high-pitched squawk, crawled into my lap, and became my very first baby.

Ike is now 16 and has had cancer for the past few years, successfully treated with a simple chemo regimen. In the past two days he has suddenly, rapidly gome downhill. Best case scenario, he has some minor gastritis which can be treated...but in all likelihood, Iky is probably coming to the end of his road. He has been my snuggle buddy, my pal, my friend. He is chock full of personality and I can tell endless stories about his escapades. It makes me immeasurably sad to think my time with him might be almost over. I can't believe it's been 16 years.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mother's love

He is in the bath late tonight, because we spent the late afternoon eating ice cream and looking at pictures of dogs at the bookstore, then ate the standard quick dinner (nuggets and broccoli) before getting ready for bed. Normally I would skip the bath, but lordy, the boy is smelly and must be cleaned before school tomorrow. The bath water is scarily brown when he steps out and into his shark towel. Because it is late, he is grouchy and distracted and just won't listen. I find myself getting angry and tell him so, very calmly, you're not listening to me and it's making me feel very angry. He begins to cry and says now I hate him. Oh, it sounds like drama but he later tells me he thought that meant I didn't love him anymore. And I tell him, no matter what you do, no matter how angry I am, I will never never hate you and will always always love you, love you the best, the most. I hope he can feel that to his core, because it is etched into my bones and muscles, stains my skin and whispers inside my blood.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


She is lovely. Tall, rail thin with long, light brown hair that she piles on top of her head like a nest. Her blue eyes are enormous and haunted. She doesn't smile often in her shyness, but when she does, her face lights and her kewpie-doll lips turn her girlish. She plays guitar and tends the sick and skates derby. She is my kind of girl.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Because he rocks, and appears delicious

Post American Idol, E sees me calling in to vote:

"Who are you voting for?"

"David Cook"

"OK. And who else?"

"David Cook"

"What number is David Archuleta?"

"David Cook is #8."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Three Times a (Painted) Lady


Age 15, my mom and I are finally getting our own place after six years of being told that we could be moving out of my grandparents' house ANY TIME NOW! Like we are twenty-something first-time roommates, together we plow through the newspaper, walk around neighborhoods, and look at apartments. I campaign hard for CV; it's near school, near my friends and in the thick of the northern portion of the city that has become my home base since I started school up here in 7th grade.

I find our apartment in a big old building. It's on the 8th floor. There is a gorgeous lobby, staff at the front desk who will screen your phone calls if you wish (a LIVE answering machine!), a little grocery store in the basement, and a Chinese restaurant on site. I am in heaven. The building is "no kids" but I convince them of my advanced maturity by pulling out the Class President card, and we move into #842.

The next three years here will be some of the hardest of my life, but being in CV tempers the awfulness somewhat. I love the Greenway pharmacy, Casey's restaurant where my friend Laura waitresses, walking to Hopkins fair. I become an expert parallel parker and develop my life-long disdain for people who think it's their God- (or municipality) given right to park exactly in front of their home.


Age 24, leaving my marriage and turning my life inside out, I head immediately to CV from the suburbs when I look for an apartment. I check out a few places, and on a whim stop by the building I admired in my teen years. Designed by a famous architect, it's on the busiest retail block and behind the stucco walls is a large, lush courtyard. I see a tiny but beautiful "junior one bedroom" and take it on the spot. It has gleaming hardwood floors, French doors to the bedroom, antique wall sconces, and the biggest closet ever seen (which I will soon fill with no less than a chest, a file cabinet, my clothes, and more stuff than you can imagine).

I live in my little sanctuary for two years. I love shopping across the street. When a blizzard happens, my suburban friends may be snowbound, but I walk a few steps to the grocery, the Chinese take-out, and a bookstore. I go for long walks in the morning, winding through the city streets and exploring the surrounding neighborhoods. At night I might walk to a concert or my favorite Thai restaurant. I love the sounds of the traffic and the college students outside the pub. One Sunday morning there is a festival on my street and I awaken to a bagpipe serenade. My windows are enormous, and my cats happily sunbathe, stomachs up and paws pressed against the screens.


After living together for several years on the edge of the city/suburb line, E and I are looking for a house to buy. Every time I pass the 28th Street exit on the JFX, I feel a pull toward home . E is not a fan of city life, but with the lure of lower prices I drag him to CV to look at the Victorian townhouses. In the very first house, he is blown away by the beauty and character of the home, and this sells him on the area. We soon find our own little house, a rehabbed beauty with a fireplace and Corian counters.

Though I would love to have a big old house with a yard in a leafy neighborhood, it pains me to think of giving up my CV life. The Saturday farmer's market...lunch at Donna's on Sunday afternoons...unlimited free books from the Book and browsing at Barnes & Noble...walks with Sam to discover jewels like a leaded glass "sailboat" basement window in a nearby house, or the robot that lives in another storefront window....skating in the parking lot a block over....the sound of traffic at night in the summer, when the windows are open to the breeze.
I feel a part of this corner of town, and I'm not going anywhere else this time. It's home.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Night terror

My sweet boy wakes up screaming; he rambles unintelligible terrified mutterings between deep sobs. I hold him, kiss his blonde head, tell him it's alright. He settles intermittently, whimpering and then sitting up again to sob and keen.

Because there was a time when this occured several times a week, I know what to do for this neurological quirk: turn on the lights (even though he is asleep he will see shadows and incorporate them into whatever scary event is in his dream), soothe him any way I can, don't try to wake him. Sometimes it's 10 minutes, sometimes several hours.

It hurts to hear him cry this way, to see him so miserable and know he can't hear or see me. But I try to reach him through the scent of my body that nursed him, through my touch on his skin, my voice that sings and laughs with him in daylight. And from somewhere in his terror state, he knows I am there, grabs hold of me and begins to settle into a more peaceful sleep.

In the morning he will not remember. To me, he will seem more precious, more vulnerable. More mine.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Nablopomo/Why I Love Cole

Ok. In an effort to kick my blog self in the ass, I am being inspired by Laura and doing this whole nablopomo thing. Wish me luck.

Cole previously did a series I loved, Why I I'm gonna do that!

and in her honor...

Why I Love Cole

Cole is quirky, opinionated, sweet, loud. She is confident and insecure at the same time. She's got a rockin sense of style, from her Christmas tree full of white birds to her vintage needlepoint pattern tattoo. She's a rad cook; I am especially a fan of her Hard Lemonade and that cake with the bazillion layers. She lets her kids run around naked. At the pool, she leans in conspiratorally and tells me that she loathes dear Chica, her carbon-copy firecracker of a daughter. She devotes herself wholeheartedly: to her husband, her kids, art, nursing, food, her friends. She is passion embodied and when I picture her, I see a smile with perfect teeth, hair red or black or brown, eyes dancing, a tiny piercing in her nose. I hear her talking, talking, talking; she always has a great story and I love the "verbal diarrhea" she apologizes for. She always calls me honey and she is never boring.
She's an amazing woman and I am proud to call her my friend.
xxoo, cole :)

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