Friday, March 28, 2014

Four Glorious Years!

I don't know why he complains when I take pictures of him. Obviously I ensure that we both look great.

Today is the four year anniversary of when Ray and I met.

We had brunch at Coffee Emporium in OTR, next door to where he lived at the time. It was a white hot occasion, marked by me wearing jeans and a t-shirt (is there any better way to make a first impression?) and Ray was wearing a pea green zip-up that I still make fun of.

I asked him, 'Are you going to a track meet after this?'

I sure am charming!

I made a fleeting reference to this auspicious occasion in a blog post that weekend called That Was Fun.

From the post:
Sunday at brunch I grossly over-syruped my waffle and learned that my worst injury is a "chick injury." And if Jack White were to wail on his guitar and come bleeding from his fingers into my apartment, the drops of blood dripping onto my hardwood floor would form into the shape of Jesus, holding a guitar.
Those were the highlights of Ray and I's first face to face conversation apparently. He said I had a "chick injury," which I'm not sure now what we were even referring to, and I obviously talked about my love of Jack White, who even bloodied, is awesome.

Sounds about right.

I'm surprised I ever saw Ray again given that he said I had a "chick injury." But he was funny and cute, which can get you a long way in life really. And he told me his condo next door had a rooftop terrace with a grill, and I thought I'd look real good up there that summer sunning myself and eating hamburgers. (And indeed, I did.)

Over the last four years I've occasionally kept track of the funny things Ray has said to me, in addition to insulting my "chick injury."

In honor of our anniversary, here they are:

  • I know yoga is no joke and all, but I don’t think you should tell people that you have a yoga injury.
  • Have you ever noticed that chicks who are really into horses have hair that is way too long?
  • You aggravate the hell out of me! Being mad at me, needing tissues, demanding tea, taking my photo all the time!
  • I don't claim to know a lot about housing and infrastructure, but I know a firetrap shithole when I see one. 
  • Are you feeling a Reds game tomorrow night? It might be kinda nice to drink an overpriced beer, eat some stale nachos, watch a ballgame and bail when we get bored.
  • If we were broke up and you texted me a year later, hours before you’re supposed to get married to someone else and said, ‘I’m in over my head, come get me,’ I’d come get you. But I’d still be pissed you almost married someone else.
  • You know, I don’t think I ever felt teen angst. I never felt put upon or confused or ill-at-ease. I just wanted to get the hell out of Greenville, Pennsylvania.
  • I don’t why they call them boyfriend sweaters because this doesn’t look like anything I would wear.
  • Gina, I would walk through hell in gasoline underwear for you. But if you asked me to drive back from New Mexico when there are perfectly good planes, we’d be in a big fight.
  • General Tso's is the bomb. It's fried chicken with sugar sauce on it.
  • We cannot ever break-up. You have to love me forever because there is no way we'll ever be able to get all the furniture out of this house. The dressers barely made it through the window. We just have to stay together until the end. 
  • It looks like the Easter Bunny took a pastel dump in here.
  • I swear to god that place was a Superfund site. We drove all the way to Indiana to pay $8 for a JTM burger that made us sick and a packet of Swiss Miss with some lukewarm water. They just handed us the packet and told us to put the water on it ourselves. Plus, it was the shittiest hayride ever. ...God I loved that place.

Everyone should be so lucky to have a Ray.

Happy anniversary to us! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Two Turn Tables and A Half-Read Book

When I pulled this off the shelf to take the photo, I was stunned to see I got better than halfway through it.

The summer of 1996 was a formative one.

I was an intern writing features at the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, a city far bigger than the one where I grew up, working with people far smarter and more creative than I was, and those people listened to cool music.

I was learning more and writing more than anything three years of college had taught me, plus I met a cute weird boy who I would go on to date for several years.

Fountains of Wayne's Radiation Vibe was always on the indie radio station and Beck's Odelay was always in my CD player. I didn't have cable in my short-lease studio apartment, but I'd watch the Atlanta Summer Games on the newsroom TV.

The entire experience was transformative, like drinking from a firehose. But I loved it. 

I was also reading Naked Lunch that summer. Or rather, I was trying to.

I remember one of my friends/coworkers left me a message on my answering machine (it was 1996, after all) telling me:

'You're never going to finish Naked Lunch so just forget about it. It's too much, too weedy. We're going to The Emporium, all of us, to check out the scene. If there's no scene, we'll be our own scene. See you there.'

I was at once delighted I was invited to be part of the 'scene,' but also stunned. How could he say I was never going to finish Naked Lunch? I mean, other than the fact that it is impenetrable, how could he say that?

I was reminded of my storied history with Burroughs' seminal novel last weekend when I read a review of the new book Call Me Burroughs, by Barry Miles. 

From the review:

Miles charts in detail how dependent this singular iconoclast was on the inspiration and editorial skills of his friends. Without Allen Ginsberg, who spent 10 weeks establishing some kind of order on the pages of “Naked Lunch,” scattered around the floor of Burroughs’s room in Tangier… we wouldn’t have any of his major works in their present form. Though the first and last drafts were always his, collaboration rescued Burroughs from the terrors and falsities of single authorship, giving him access to kindred minds with different resources. He knew they made his work, as Ginsberg put it, more “decipherable.”

I was staggered to read that Ginsberg spent 10 weeks putting order to the book. I can't fathom what it would have read like without that influence, nor can I fathom spending 10 weeks in the vain exercise of reading Naked Lunch as a 'draft.'

Ginsberg, you poor bastard.

I can't say for certain but I'm pretty sure I went to The Emporium that night with my coworkers. I can say for certain that I never finished Naked Lunch that summer… because I still haven't finished Naked Lunch.

I've moved that book from Fort Wayne to Virginia to Ohio and to probably 10 apartments in Cincinnati. I will never part with it.

I will never likely finish it either. It is a bright yellow, bound reminder of a great summer.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Cassius Clay, The Greatest Kitty of all Time

Cassius and I lived in 9 different apartments together over 13 years.

This past summer, the day before we had to put him down, Cassius Clay, The Greatest Kitty of All Time, caught a mouse.

Technically, the mouse ran right into him as he was lounging around in the liriope. But still, he chased it and caught it fair and square, pinning it to the sidewalk by its tail.

Even at death's door, he was still a bonafide attack cat. No mouse would be tolerated running through The Greatest Kitty of All Time's liriope.

Say what you want about kids cats and "screen time," but I think all that practice with the iPad mouse game really paid off.

Cassius had several favorite iPad games and videos, including the bird feeder video. He also liked the squeaky cries for help that the iPad mice let out when they were 'caught.'

The next day we told him he'd soon be going to kitty heaven because of the tumor in his mouth.

We described to him the miles and miles of grass there was to eat in kitty heaven; how numerous the lawns were that kitties could trespass on; the stacks of ponytail holders that just sit and wait to be batted around; and how there is all the turkey and gravy baby food that a kitty could want.

At that point he hadn't eaten in five days. The tumor had severely distorted his jaw and left his tongue dangling outside of his mouth at all times. He drooled constantly.

Regardless, he remained a true threat to all mice and ponytail holders... when he wasn't asleep in a shoe box.

The Greatest of All Time

Cassius was no ordinary house cat. He enjoyed several careers in his nine lives, including serving as the hush puppy frier at Long John Silvers when he was a teenager. Unfortunately, he was fired for smoking cat nip before his management dreams came true.

After that he started his own limo service, Top Cat Rides. He worked the night shift driving partying alley cats to and fro, which explains why he slept all day and was always groggy. He especially loved wearing the little limo driver's hat and bowtie. (Very handsome.)

Later in life he became quite the outdoorsman, begging to be let outside where he always followed the same pattern - he jumped off of the porch, snaked behind the big evergreen bush, had a grass snack in the neighbors' yard and then headed to back to our yard where he would lounge in the liriope.

'All of the mice! All of the yards! All of the porches!'
This outward appearance of relaxing in the flowering yard plants was really a ploy to lull us into disinterest. Because as soon as we were diverted to other topics, Cassius would seize the opportunity to trespass into the other neighbor's yard and run up onto her porch.

For hobbies, he enjoyed criticizing neighborhood dogs - I saw him laughing at a greyhound once, which he said was the weirdest dog he'd ever seen - downloading apps on his iPad and offering his opinion, without being asked, on blog copy.

'It's ok. I've read better. Is there any Cat Sip in the kitchen?'

He was also a convincing liar. He once told Ray during an extended front porch petting session that he was a physicist. (There is no way this is true as he was 'held back' in kindergarten at least five times.)

Even with all of these achievements, his crowning moment was catching that mouse.

He was preceded in death by his frenemy, Cassady Daugherty, (RIP Cassie), and is survived by his mom and dad, Gina and Ray, and two little brothers he didn't meet, Hunter S. Tomcat and Chuck Norris.

Frenemies: Cassady Daugherty in the box; Cassius Clay horning in.

He went peacefully into that great good night with his mom and dad rubbing his head and ears, just the way he liked.

His final request was that we not forget to mention the mouse. Also, he would like to let aluminum foil  - that noisy, terrifying, substance of evil - know that it can go straight to hell.

Until next time, Cassius Clay.