creatures

Cat Bath

RemyLast night, I dreamt that I gave my cat, Remy, a bath. For anyone who knows Remy, the thought of giving her a bath is both hilarious and terrifying. She has… So. Much. Fur. And she’s sassy. As far as she’s concerned, the only person giving her a bath is herself. And it in no way shape or form involves water.

For whatever reason – in said dream – she didn’t put up too much of a fuss. She was a little annoyed at first but, eventually, she settled down and let me gently pour the water over her, lather the soap and give her a nice, relaxing rinse (avoiding her face of course). I don’t know what happened after I was finished. We didn’t get to the drying part. I guess my subconscious had decided to shake that one off.

So… What does it all mean??

I’m not usually in the habit of asking myself that question in order to avoid any potential reasons to worry, panic or stir up hypochondriac tendencies. But, against my own caution, I attempted an interpretation:

Think of something that you’ve never done before, something that you know would be extraordinarily difficult and potentially disastrous if you tried to do it. This is something you could have tried to do earlier, either when you were young and impressionable or the thing or person you are doing it to/with is young and impressionable. You dread it. You fear it. But, in the end, you suck it up and give it a go. And, by god, it’s not that bad. You might even be good at it. You might suck at it. It might be a huge failure. But at least you tried.

I’ll probably never give Remy a bath. At this point, she’s going on three and let’s just say I’m not up for that battle of wills. But it’s not about Remy is it? The most literal thing that comes to mind is learning a foreign language. But maybe that’s not it either. It could have been a look back at that day I decided to leave my job in NY. Or whatever writing goals I have yet to satisfy… publishing that first collection of essays, or pitching to Self.

But maybe it doesn’t need to fit the mold exactly. Maybe it’s a fable of a more general nature: about trusting what you do and how you do it. Though you might be expecting the worst, it turns out that – with a bucket full of optimism and bar of good faith – you have the tools you need to get the job done.

 

 

Drained

microcosm\MY-kruh-kahz-um\
noun 1: a little world; especially : the human race or human nature seen as an epitome of the world or the universe
2: a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger unity

Starting last Friday, my kitchen has been on a slow, minor meltdown. That morning, I was working on the dishes and I felt a rush of water at my feet. Looking down, I saw water pouring out from the kitchen cabinet; it seeped along the already warping linoleum tiles, threatening the hallway’s hardwood floors. I quickly ran for towels and after sopping up the mess, I opened the cabinet door to investigate. A pipe, running perpendicular from the actual drain was dripping smugly. Several dozen paper towels later, I got things under control within the cabinet and resumed my stance at the sink. Then I turned on the faucet and did it all over again.

Thankfully, I was heading out for the weekend and thought that almost 48 hours without h20 would leave the sink dry and good to go. Any clogs might evaporate or decompose (ewww) and worse comes to worse I’d pick up a bottle of DrainO and conquer the unruly pipe.

Well, Monday was a crazy day. And, my fitness trainer gave me one hell of a talking to, which more or less meant that if I didn’t get on the treadmill everyday for the next five weeks, I would end up wasting a significant amount of money and end up loosing a measly number of pounds. After that, I didn’t feel much like DrainO.

But I did end up making a Pyrex casserole dish of chicken, a batch of sauteed broccoli and brussel sprouts and a pot of rice. Then I used a plate to dish up my dinner, and a fork, and a knife. There were a few serving spoons involved and colander. I had a “sink full” of dishes with no sink to wash in.

I had two options. The first, the bathroom sink is about as shallow as one of those seashells you find on the beach. So, I turned on the hot water in the bathtub and went to work. I bent awkwardly over the faucet and soaped up pot, and pan, and knife, and fork and impatiently waited until all traces of soap were gone from their surfaces. After rinsing each piece I ran back to the kitchen to deposit it into the drying rack, as if I was on Nickelodeon’s Gag or Guts or whatever show it was that made fools out of the willing.

Tuesday, after a sushi dinner, I stopped at Duane Reade and found the DrainO. The last bottle. Dumping it down the faucet, I fixated my gaze on the drain that was bound to spurt. It didn’t. But an hour later it did. This time with the stench of poisonous chemicals that probably shouldn’t be going down drains in the first place. Papertowels back in hand, I was back in the microcosm of my kitchen cabinet, sopping up water and chemicals and rust. I waited for five minutes and turned on the hot water, in the gentlest of streams. It trickled and twirled down the sink and, for what seemed like ten minutes, there was no drip from the unruly drain. As long as the faucet wasn’t on full force, it seemed as if, for now, the gremlins of the drain would be kept at bay.

Loud Noises

unctuous\UNK-chuh-wus\
adjective
1a: fatty, oily b: smooth and greasy in texture or appearance
2: insincerely smooth in speech and manner

I officially desire to spoil someone else’s fun. Not in a nanny nanny boo boo kind of way. I just want to stop it. Plain and simple.

I have reason to believe that new people moved into the apartment right below mine, and that they are boys. They are the kind of boys who listen, repeatedly, to bands Dave Matthews Band and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and anomalous smells emanate from behind their door. They are also the kind of boys that have deep voices which painfully reverberate in the pipes of the radiator in my living room – but the voices only start around 10:30pm on the weekends. They usually leave around midnight, and return around 4:00am. Sometimes they throw up on the stairs and leave cans of beer in the corners.

I know they are most likely recent college grads, and I know that, just a few years ago, I was a recent college grad. I have been to plenty of parties like theirs in apartment buildings just like mine, all over the city. In fact, these parties have started at 10:30pm or later. And, normally, I’d like to think that this wouldn’t be a problem; I have/had more of a social agenda than staying in on Friday nights with my cat. However, today I am a recovering flu victim, and sleep is a precious, precious commodity.

I know I should just take a sleeping pill and put the issue to rest. But I don’t have any sleeping pills. And if I knew I wouldn’t be so unctuous in my manner when I visited their apartment to ask/yell/plead for them to stop their galavanting, well, I would have already “been there, done that.” I can’t join them.

Perhaps I could leave a passive aggressive note on the front door – “Dear Tenants who like to have Parties, You SUCK. Signed, Anonymous.” But that wouldn’t be very effective. It might even make them party more. Perhaps I could give them the likely dates that I might be “in for the night” so they could calendar their escapades around mine.

Ugh, maybe it’s time for a bottle of wine… a vintage for my aging spirit.

My Brain

gimcrack\JIM-krak\
noun:a showy object of little use or value

For eight years and counting, my brain has sat on my desk. I am not quite sure where my Uncle Steve got it, and it does have the name of some miscellaneous company on one side. Nevertheless, it looks like a brain should look: it’s grey, spongy, and smooth on the outside. There are quite a few wrinkles on it too. I’m proud of my brain’s sustainability.

In a world of gimcracks, my brain has been, by far, one of the best. Keychains, flashing LED pins, USB ports that look like superheros, and pens in the shape of red lipstick don’t have much of a shelf life. Not this little brain though, it has survived quite a bit of back and forth – college, Delaware, New York. And I imagine that it’ll be right there with me in my next venture after grad school, which I am hoping involves frequent trips to Montreux.

Once my brain was lost for several weeks and, until I caught it under my bed with a dust bunny, I had no idea that it was missing! After that, I always vowed to keep better track of my belongings, especially the ones that are hardly replaceable.

Today, on the subway, I finished Ian Frazier’s article in Aug 30th’s New Yorker about Soviet Stalin-era prison camps. After reading about the desperate plight of the individuals who were confined to these prisons, I learned something new about modern day Russians. They name inanimate objects. They refer to their telephones as “he” or “she,” alarms clocks are affectionately called Aunties, and speed bumps are lezhachii politseiskii, which literally means “lying-down policeman.”

Short of choosing a pet name for my brain, I have decided to now call it надежный, or nadezhnyĭ, which is the Russian word for dependable. Nadi for short.

14 mph

intransigent
\in-TRAN-suh-junt\
adjective: characterized by refusal to compromise or to abandon an extreme position or attitude; uncompromising

So I’ve recently started going to the gym – again – to the New York Health & Racquet Club across the street from my office. The plan was brilliant really. Instead of joining a gym that was close to my apartment, I joined one close to my office. Once I get up four flights of stairs, I won’t be going back down again, to then walk to the gym, and then run on the treadmill.

Nevertheless, I go, and I run for 60 minutes. Well, run for 15 minutes then walk for 5… until I get back in shape. But I noticed that the treadmill offers its user a speed range of .5 mph to 14 mph. I max out at around 6 mph in order to sustain my pace for a reasonable length of time, so I began to think: is 14 mph really logical to have on a treadmill? can anyone run 14 mph? how fast do animals run? does anything run at 6 mph?

Thanks to the internet, I have recently learned that the fastest speed of a human running was set by Maurice Greene, who sprinted at a speed of 26.7 mph. The highest sustained speed is just over 15 mph which equals a 4-minute mile.

On the slower side is the giant tortoise at .1 mph and the garden snail at .03. The Peregrine falcon travels at 200 mph, which isn’t fair because many things travel faster in air (and water) than on land. I bet the falcon might have a run for it’s money with the chicken, who clocks in at 9 mph.

So what travels at 6 mph? A bumble bee.

Dangerous Encounters

Around 5:15pm today I decided that instead of waiting to take the 8:00pm Yoga class I would quickly change, wait to see if I received any emails between 5:15 and 5:30 and then scoot out unnoticed around 5:40. Well it’s 5:56pm and I am still at the office, just finished answering a slew of emails. Ugh.

If there was a class at college, solely dedicated to how to behave and operate in an office, I would have taken it. I could fully function and communicate with my boss and my colleagues but I did not, for the first months of work, understand how the fax machine worked nor could I remember the protocol for conference calls, international dialing and so on. (This is a bit of a gross overstatement, as I am quite the fast learner, and it only took a few weeks to get the basics under my belt. Furthermore, I have now become the go-to person for all of the “office” questions: where are the fax cover sheets, how to make color copies, whether or not we have salt in the kitchen, if someone came to work that day regardless even if they didn’t work in my department, how to check voicemails, what button to push to transfer calls, what drop down menu allows you to adjust the reading pane on Outlook, where to find a piece of paper that someone had in their hand yesterday… among others.)

I am an honorary member of the IT team. I have two monitors on my desk. I will need thicker glasses.

This brings me to my next point, that I have time to kill before going to Yoga. So bring myself down from the awkward rush of energy that comes with trying to “rush” out of office I choose, today, to write about nature documentaries.

Dangerous Encounters

This topic comes from the replaying trailer of the upcoming movie, Strange Wilderness. Anything, or anyone, that makes a shark laugh like a goofy Santa Claus has my heart.

I can’t say I wasn’t surprised that the group had chosen to mock this genre of film – the people’s infatuation with the series Planet Earth and the like has made it so obvious. Sunrise Earth is a show, which despite its name plays throughout the day on the HD channels, about the the sun, rising. Time is not elapsed.

Herpetologist Dr. Brady Barr circles the continents in his show Dangerous Encounters, airing on Thursdays at 8pm on the National Geographic Channel. I’ve caught the commercials, and I can’t say I have watched the show. Nevertheless, away with classic and traditional observation, Dr. Barr outfits himself in the best form of camouflage. In a head to toe crocodile suit, Dr. Barr gets down and dirty on riverbanks to well, chill, with something which might have the strongest bite force on the planet.

I learned from my cousin, on Saturday, that there are over 3500 alligators living in a lake in Southern Florida. The lake is large – but 3500 alligators? I remember visiting the Everglades National Park when I was young, scanning the surface of the water with my eyes, looking for theirs or a scaly tale.

What really caught my attention on the National Geographic Channel that evening was the trailer for “Undercover Hippo” episode of the 4-part Dangerous Encounters series, in which he dons the leathery suit to frolic with fellow members of the hippo community and as we see to left here, elephants.

It has come to my attention, after doing a bit more research (too bad I don’t have my Zoobooks anymore), that hippos kill more people than any other animal in Africa. And although this fact may be quite startling, I have seen a YouTube video of Jessica, who sleeps in a purple sleeping bag after taking a leisurely stroll through the house. It’d be safe to say she doesn’t wipe off her feet after exiting the pond.

Croc-suit, sleeping hippo, overpopulated alligators, goofy sharks. I’m struck by the juxtaposition of fierce and docile. And the levels at which animals need to become anthropomorphic or humans bestial in order to understand one another.

Marvin the Martian

I thought Marvin the Martian was trapped in Looney Toones TV or with Tai’s sitting-in-a-classroom-bored-out-of-her-mind notebook drawings from the movie Clueless. But no, a pair of martian Marvin’s live on my apartment building floor.

The past two nights, while returning to my apartment after taking the dog on her 9:30pm bathroom break, I find them in the hallway – halfway between the elevators and my apartment door. They only stand a few inches above the ground and are a bit fuzzier that I had remembered from early-childhood Saturday morning’s but nonetheless, they were there.

These Marvin’s of course are a pair of fluffy, snug bedroom slippers, and aside from the surprise of finding them in the hallway, they were not abandoned. They did not crawl out of the refuse room either. There is a man wearing them! Each time I have seen this man he is talking on his cell phone and each time I’ve seen this man he is wearing fewer and fewer articles of clothing!

The first time he was fully clothed. Today he lacked a shirt. Tomorrow our dog might be going out at 9:00pm, although it might be cutting it close.

All In a Day’s (or early morning’s) Work

So the radiator has continued to turn on at inopportune times, especially in the early hours of the morning. And this I have learned (from our building handyman) is a function to keep the pipes from freezing!

With the help of this handyman, the radiator’s eccentricities have ruled more important (to the success of moderating the temperature of my apartment) than continuing my power struggle with the on off switch.

Radiators – ALIVE!

It sounds like an feature exhibit at the Museum of Natural History or a Sunday afternoon “modern marvel” program on the History Channel; but alas, it is just a recent phenomenon I have experienced of late in my apartment. The radiator has a consciousness of its own.

The morning before last I had awoken quite late in the morning, to the gentle hum and airy cough of the radiator – which I had not turned on before going to bed. Unsettled to say the least I sprung from my bed, flung open the door to the temperate settings. The power switch? Decidedly set on OFF. I fumbled with it for several seconds, moving the gage back and forth, on and off, to and fro without any results – this thing was on and it was staying on.

Frustration unveiled itself. My challenge laid before me.

However, I played cool, going about my Saturday routine, finding something on TV, making tator tots for lunch… all the while knowing that the radiator might try, but would not defeat me. In my minutes fumbling with the power switch I had left it ON. Ha! This rouge of a radiator couldn’t bear the thought of actual running, warming, and distributing air through my apartment when it was actually supposed to be doing so – and so I waited.

The tv volume was low as I waited for the over to pre-heat and my radiator to cave.

The click echoed slightly from its belly, short and muffled. This time I walked powerfully to its side, slowly opening the gateway to its powerplate of dials, buttons, and switched. OFF it went. and OFF it stayed.

***

5:56AM the next morning, the click echoed again and cool air pillowed into my room. Its consciousness had not been stifled. It was in these early morning hours that I was defeated – taken from my bed, my flannel sheets, and numerous pillows to battle with this machine.

The ON/OFF match continued. Clicks ensued through the middle to late morning hours – two times I was forced from my bed to bring down the defiant radiator.

The afternoon was quiet, the evening (thus far) was quiet.

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