Monday, November 26, 2007

just over a week

It finally happened last night--I saw a bookbag on the floor out of the corner of my eye and thought it was the cat coming to check on me. So far I'd been so conscious of Boots's absence that the force of that habit was overwhelmed--all book-bags were just book-bags. But i guess as my focus drifted, the old habits returned. I wonder if i'll ever reach a point where i don't apologize when i trip over my sneakers.

In other news, a household plumbing project required me to cut away a sizable portion of my laundry room wall yesterday, reminding me forcefully of just how much i loathe sheet rock and Fiberglas insulation. urgh. but the removal went smoothly and promises an equally smooth re-installation. unfortunately, now that the hole is there, my dad is eying the aging linoleum in that room too. I hope he'll let me rent a compressor and just brad the baseboards back on once its tiled.

In still other news, i'm now certified as an advanced-level autoCAD operator. Hooray me. Now, to get a job on a sailboat.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


As a registered vegetarian, the concept of Thanksgiving comes as a bit of a challenge. How to not impose upon your family to make accommodations for your silly eating disorder, while not being caused to chow down on all that unappetizing mass-produced, hormone-packed animal flesh. Thankfully, a reasonable, easy solution came to me this morning, in the form of the breakfast drink of orange juice and champagne.

Of course! Replace every potential slice of turkey meat with a tasty mimosa. By the time people think its time for the bird to reach the table, they're so tanked they don't notice its absence. That way your money doesn't wind up supporting cruel, eco-unfriendly, disgusting mass-feeding operations, and your family can tuck in early after a short day of pleasant intoxication. I expect to doze off here around 5pm, full of green beans and good cheer. Now that's a happy, healthy holiday.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Boots Kitty, 1990-2007

12:25AM, November 18, 2007 saw the passage of Boots Kitty, aged approximately 18 years, into eternal rest. She is bitterly missed by her human companions, several of whom have scant memories without her. She quietly slipped away, surrounded by her family, after a full and happy life, spoiled rotten by all who loved her. She was an affectionate and patient kitty who tolerated all of the silly ways we tried to show her we cared, and who communicated with ease so much that words fail to fully express.

I'm glad I could be here for her as her time drew near, and I believe she spent her final days in peace. She handled her descent with the dignity and grace she brought to all aspects of her life, and for that I am grateful.

She is buried and memorialized in the back yard she reigned over all the days of her life.

Farewell, dear friend.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

step over the velvet rope

So I spent the past week in Key West, Fla and i gotta say, that's one tourist town that you can really get stuck to. I don't know how i managed it, but somehow I saw through the sales pitch and in a lot of ways found it very real. I don't think most people do, though, and I think I figured out why.

Many tourists approach the Keys and really any island area with the idea that it was somehow built especially for entertaining them--that it is in fact completely artificial and safe, like a theme park. Of course, cruise lines would like you to believe it is, as you're more likely to buy passage on their cruise liners if you do, but the sad truth of it is if you approach these places with the mindset the brochures want you to, you'll only go see what is built there For the tourists. Which means, of course, that you miss out on everything that drew tourists to the area in the first place. You'll see plenty of clear chlorinated pools, planted palm trees, narrated train rides, and expensive food. Adults may even get to try some fruity drinks served in coconuts or see naked people relaxing at the clothing-optional bars. Everyone can enjoy the 5-alarm sunsets and watch the tv screens atop the cruise ships...but they're missing something. The people. The people i met who live and work there are really, behind the eat-shit-and-die smiles and the exhaustion with the tip-based economy, some of the most pleasant folks i've encountered in a long while.
See, when I visited the Garden of Eden bar, I didn't stay with my group. I didn't cower behind a protective shield of chaise lounges and peep at the nudists behind forked fingers. I didn't gasp or giggle every time a new unclad belly appeared at the bar. I didn't, in short, treat the situation like it was some sort of Naked Human Revue. I made some friends. I didn't strip down, as my mother was there, but I found the occasional bar patron's nudity inoffensive and clean. Indeed, it was one of the most relaxed two hours I had on the island, chatting with a regular, getting hit on by the barmaid, sipping on a beer and taking in the lifestyle. Of course, it was one of the least comfortable two hours my mother had on the island, as she stared helplessly from the safety of tourism while her twenty-three year old baby got to know a very interesting blue-eyed man who happened to be nude. I obeyed their rules against cell phone use and didn't even think to bring a camera. For all too brief a time, I felt local.

The same went with the dinner cruises, the lunch restaurants, the cab drivers, and even the tourist attractions. If you spoke to these real people as though they were individuals, with opinions and emotions and education and even some self-esteem, their facial expressions and even voices would change. Young men with salt-bleached dreadlocks and sun-browned backs would visibly relax as you discussed the Berkeley lifestyle or recycling incentives in Mexico.
Tour guides would surprise themselves by allowing their smiles to reach their eyes when you made an inquiry that wasn't on the FAQ list. Then another patron would walk over and the guard would snap back up--sir and ma'am would be addressed and tended to efficiently, thoroughly, and courteously with practiced smiles and live-to-serve eyes.
Maybe its because I'm used to being a smiling serf, but my best times on the island were spent in communion with the real people who lived there. I don't mean to imply that every local suddenly melted and became my best friend, as most didn't, but the folks who made the trip worth it (read: i went along to a ParrotHead convention, which is a massive, multi-national club of 50-something aged drunks, addicts, and assholes who started partying in 1970 and haven't taken care of themselves since. I didn't know such a wide variety of skin disorders and bermuda shorts existed.) were the people who didn't treat me like a tourist. So thanks. I had a blast.

p.s. the man-eating flower above grows in Berkeley, too. Any idea what it is?