Saturday, February 27, 2010


"Pets are never disappointing,

Unless they puke on your stuff"


Smokey never puked on my stuff. When he and his brothers Slate and Peaty were kittens, they did make a mess of the basement, but that was a long time ago. They were so small, we were afraid some sort of large bird or fox would carry them off if we let them live outside without someone hanging out with them. So we did. James and I would sit in the grass outside for hours with kittens in our laps. Can you imagine anything better than a lap full of kittens?

My parents found Smokey on the side porch yesterday morning. Dad said he looked like he was sunbathing. I know it must have happened quickly because only an hour earlier I had left for work out of the door on the side porch and he was nowhere to be seen. He must have known how awful it would have been for me if I had been the one to find him, so he waited till I had left the house. Dad came to work to tell me what happened and brought me an orange. I sat in the bathroom and cried for an hour, then when the first customers showed up I put on a happy face and worked all day till midnight.

13 years ago Dad got a boat. I believe he actually got paid with a boat by someone whose house he had been working on. I don't remember what exactly our reasoning was at the time, but we figured that if Dad got a boat, James and I should get a pet. We went to a house in Lovettsville; I think the home of one of my Mom's preschool students whose cat had just had a gigantic litter of kittens.

James had it easy as far as picking. He said he wanted an orange kitten because our old cat Barney had been orange. The kittens were all orange, gray and white, so he was in luck. Mom attached herself to a completely slate gray one and ended up going back later that day to pick him up. We had only intended on getting a cat for James and I, but she just fell in love with him and could not leave him there.

I was not partial to fur color. I scooped up as many kittens as my little 10 year old arms could gather and put them in my lap to see who I liked the most. They were all so small and adorable; it should have been the hardest choice ever. They whined and scrambled around my lap, most of them deciding they had better places to go. I did not stop them. But one kitten stayed. My cat sat with me longest.

Smokey was the biggest of the kittens I had scooped up. He was mostly gray with a white face, stomach and little white boots. He did not whine or even move, he stayed sitting on my lap purring while all his brothers and sisters went to explore the rest of the yard. What should have been the hardest choice of my young life had just become the easiest.

He was mine. Our last cat was the family's cat, no one's in particular. But Smokey was my cat. He was the pet I've had the longest, who had been there elementary school through college. When I came back from college on breaks, he was always there purring and happy to see me as if no time had passed. All three cats were always there. Pets never hold grudges. They will always love you no matter what. That is why I'll miss Smokey more than I can put into words here.

I'll miss how in the summer all I had to do was go outside for a second before I was surrounded by cats, Smokey in the lead. I'll miss his annoyingly persistent meow as he scratched at the front door every day just so we would come out and pet him. I'll miss how he used to try and jump onto the hammock any time I was laying on it reading, but would always get stuck in the ropes and need my help to get out. I'll just miss him.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

I hate snow days.

Junior year of college I took this awful class. It frustrated me more than any creative writing class I've ever taken, mainly because I never knew how to get better based on the feedback I was getting. Annoying. But anyhow, we had one assignment that I just remembered the other day. We had to write a Credo, which is Italian for 'I believe.' (Side note; I was taking Italian at the time and I actually knew that word, which was really exciting for me since I never knew any of the words) Our teacher got the idea from an NPR segment called This I Believe. The assignment was to look up the segment and follow its guidelines and write our own Credo about something we believe in.

This I Believe is just that, people talking about things they believe in. It's like a competition; all different people write their Credo's in 500 words or less and submit them to NPR who every week would pick their favorite and invite its author to read it on the radio. On the website you can read Credos written by every day people as well as famous authors. Most of them are about life changing events that shaped the author's life in monumental ways. They are fairly inspirational, you should all go check it out or just click HERE and read the day away.

When it came to writing my own Credo, I was stumped. I honestly could not think of anything. So this is what I wrote.


List = Life

"Put 'go to Russia' on there."

"But that's never going to happen."

"You don't know that. That's why it's called a Life Goal. You have your whole life to do it."

"Okay, well in that case I guess should put 'meet Leonard Nimoy' back on there."

"That's perfect! Keep going."

Recently I inspired a friend of mine to write out a Life Goals list. I have had mine for a few years now and I am always trying to get others to do the same. Money, position in life and likelihoods are never issues in a well crafted Life Goals list. No matter how unattainable they might seem, I insisted they go on the list. All you need are your innermost desires and a piece of paper.

People are always saying that you should live life to the fullest. I have often wondered how I could actually do this. One day the answer hit; make a list. Sit down every night and make a list of the things you need to do the next day like turning in your library books and writing your history paper. Then, write down all the things you want to do that day like writing a poem, taking a walk or watching Star Wars again and saying all the lines out loud. If you keep to the list during your day, you will have lived that day to the fullest. Do it every day and you are going to have an extremely full life.

Life goals are not the only things that I make lists of. I have a list of "movies to own", "books to read" and "places I want to go". There is nothing more satisfying than being able to cross something off of a list or placing a well deserved check mark next to "read Dubliners." I have lists of quotes I love and a growing collection of names for new fictional characters currently undeveloped. Lists make life easier. They can organize anything from your book shelf to the things you want to get your friends for Christmas.

Lists put your mind at ease. Some say that writing things in a list actually help you remember them. It has worked both ways for me. Writing a grocery list helps me remember to buy pitas when I get to the store. However I have to constantly refer back to my 'movies I need to own' list when I go to FYE and forget that I wanted to find a copy of The 5th Element.

My Life Goals list is still my favorite. So far it consists of the following: learn to tap dance, be an extra in a movie, attend a gay wedding, see Aerosmith again before they die, get published, be the voice of a Disney character, read Moby Dick, go to the Oscars, ride in a hot air balloon, go to the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals, kiss Oscar Wilde's tomb and travel the world. With this list in hand I have a pretty exciting life ahead of me.

Never underestimate the power of a good list; I believe it could change your life.


Not inspirational, not deep, not really all that good, I know, and on top of all that it's 28 words too long. My teacher's only comments were all about things I should add to it and not things I should take away, which is oh so useful when it's too long to begin with. But whatever, that's my Credo and I'm sticking to it. I might just submit it to NPR too, so there. Or think of a better one. Who knows?

Speaking of writing, here is something else cool I stumbled upon recently. By stumbled I mean Beth's mother sent me the link. Also a product of NPR, this one is about creating your 6 word memoir. They have a whole book of author's summing up their entire lives in 6 words. Can you do that? If you click on that link you can read a handful of ones that obscure and famous authors have come up with. My favorite by far is James Frey's: "So would you believe me anyway?" Funny guy.

I thought it would be hard coming up with mine, but it wasn't. It should be right? Summing up your entire life, everything that makes you you in 6 words; should be near impossible right? Nope, easy. Just write down the first thing that comes to your mind, and bam, there you go.

My 6 word memoir: "I will always envy 5th graders."

If you really know me, you will know it's true. I have Peter Pan syndrome BAD. It's not that I'm not looking forward to what the future holds, not at all, I'll just always envy the blissful ignorance of real life's responsibilities and concerns that all 5th graders have. Sure, they are about to go to middle school and are freaked out that they won't have a recess anymore, but honestly, I'd take that any day to paying student loans and doing taxes (thank you Grandmother for doing my taxes).

In other unrelated news, it snowed more than it ever has this past week, and I don't want to talk about it. No one has ploughed our road yet and I hear there is a snow drift that's about 6 feet tall down the road from our driveway. I'll probably go investigate that after I post this. What else…I'm mad about all the snow (not even fun anymore), have not been to work in over a week, dyed my hair pink and won't be able to drive my car out of our driveway for another month and a half when the snow melts. A 5th grader could probably see the bright side of this situation, but I can't. At least my hair looks cool.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Two days to write very little…

"Real life is so strangely written, sometimes."

Neil Gaiman wrote that in his blog recently, and I liked it. I've not babbled about how much I love him in a while, and I won't bore you now by doing so. I just wanted to share that quote. I love reading writer's blogs and hear about what's going on in their lives. It makes me feel like we are all connected.

That was the moon the other night. It actually looked nothing like that in real life, that's just how my camera decided to react to its awesomeness. It was the type of moon where you could see everything from the craters to the man in the moon. But it was only a half moon, which was even cooler. It looked like the top half had been blasted away by who knows what type of interstellar disaster. And it was orange. And it was huge. It was the type of moon that is so impossibly big that you want to take a picture, but then once you do it ends up looking like this. A speck.

So yes, it's a speck, but look at that crazy weird glow around it. It's like my camera knew there was something special about this moon, but instead of capturing its orange craters it decided to make it look like an amoeba. Interesting.

The moon the other night made me think of Cyrano De Bergerac, my favorite story, possibly of all time. Long story short: Cyrano loves Roxanne, but Roxanne loves Christian. Cyrano has a huge nose so he thinks Roxanne will never love him, but to make her happy he helps Christian woe her using his poetry. So sad, I love it. Anyway, there is a part toward the middle where Roxanne and Christian are about to get married. However De Guiche is on his way with the intent to marry Roxanne himself. To buy Roxanne and Christian just enough time to seal the deal, Cyrano wraps a scarf around his face to disguise his big nose and run into the night, concocting this crazy story about how he fell from the moon in order to distract De Guiche.

"My eyes are still full of star-dust. My spurs are clogged with bristles off a planet. See, on my sleeve, a comet's hair!"

It's a fantastic scene. If you have not read Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, go read it. If you have not seen the 1990 French version of the movie starring Gerard Depardieu, go rent it. It will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love.

If anyone can tell me what it says besides 'Maria' and 'Gerard Depardieu' on that picture, I'd love to know. I was told it might say 'love Gerard Depardieu,' in French, but I'm not sure.

So that was my night. Those are my favorite types of moons, the type that make me want to read. I spent the night curled up in bed, reading my favorite parts of Cyrano. I work up the next morning with my book tucked under my pillow, the best place to keep books.

Today it is snowing. I'm still not sure if I have to go to work or not. It's coming down harder every time I look out the window, yet I can still see the grass and it is not sticking to the trees. I think I'm going to go read a book.