Friday Cat Blogging – King of the Zebra Print Edition

My Little Predator has exciting taste in textiles.

This week, Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, has refused all medicine-laced bribes of shimp, sliced honey ham, milk, chicken in broth and beefy catfood in beefy catfood gravy. If I thought for a minute he’d hold still and just take the disgusting medicine, I could quit trying to outwit my cat, and I’d like to because I’m failing, you know, to outwit a cat.

Anyway, he looks pretty sharp and passes the sniff test, which is one of those expectations you might have for someone you share a one-bedroom apartment with, be it man, beast or man-beast.

When he is not busy stealing souls, Larry schemes. Siobhan gave up wearing socks years ago after her cats purloined them all.

Tata: What are you talking about? You said you quit wearing socks because they curtailed the freedom of your individual toes.
Siobhan: I’d be reading a book on the couch and a cat would run by with a sock.
Tata: Did you give chase? How far could they go?
Siobhan: Apparently to Mars, because I have no socks.
Tata: You’re helpless in the face of sock-thieving pussycats? What, you couldn’t shut your dresser drawer? Close your bedroom door?
Siobhan: Not since 1998, no.
Tata: At least one of your cats is no larger than your shoe. She cannot possibly wrangle objects of that size.
Siobhan: She’s my prime suspect in the disappearance of the socks, though according to Law & Order, testimony of her co-conspirator is not enough to convict.

There is no stealing at our house – I think. Behind my zebra print futon sits a bag of wrapping paper and bows. Wadded up paper accumulates now behind the futon. At least once a day, Larry, the little black cat bent on jungle adventure, climbs down off my lap, shoots me a look that says, “You there! Watch me! Watch me!” and slinks under the TV desk. From the general direction of behind the futon emanate strange sounds. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch crunch. Crunch crunch crunch crunch. Crunch. I suspect there is prowling. Exhausted from his hair-raising romp, the King of Behind the Futon slinks out from under the desk, says, “Cool, huh? Huh?” and plunks down on something cushiony for a nap.

Everyone Knows It’s Windy

I set the microwave for 3:30 because my soup only has to be so hot and by 3:45, I could be dead already. Life is short. There’s no need for me to burn the roof of my mouth unless the part of the food touching my tastebuds is going to make me wish I had two tongues.

This morning, I was ready to leave my house well before I had to but every nervous glance out the window made something inside my apartment unbearably attractive. I read the toothpaste label. I folded things that were already folded. I changed my socks twice. I caught me at this game and had a stern discussion with her.

Tata: Stop dicking around with that sponge. Scour the stovetop a fourth time later! Put your coat on and go to work! Do you know how fortunate you are? You have a job. Lots of people would love to have your job. And look at your apartment! It looks like a snowglobe exploded in a tinsel factory. And how about your cat, huh? Think you’re going to get a NEA grant to cover that disgusting medicine? Go to work!
Tata: I don’t want to go!
Tata: You’re going!
Tata: Where’ve I heard that before?

Outside, it was raining fitfully and even with the wind the temperature was a lot higher than I expected. To cheer myself, I tossed another four grocery bags’ worth of my old life into the dumpster. Joy! The road out of my complex was littered with small and not so small sticks. I crossed the Raritan River at the Albany Street Bridge and noticed hunks of stuff flying way above traffic in the stiff winds. On Johnson Drive, I recognized that flying stuff as construction materials when some landed behind me. At the intersection of Hamilton and George, where I turn, a university truck was making what looked like a labored K-turn. Then the driver parked. I shouted at him, then saw behind him one of the huge trees in front of Ballantine Hall broken into huge, woody florets, if you will, and blocking the road. Crews were just arriving with chainsaws. I later told Daria.

Tata: Suddenly there’s this concrete demonstration of precisely how fortunate I am.
Daria: Good lookin’ out with the stalling tactic.
Tata: Thanks! I was surprised my tantrum paid off. How will I know from now on whether I’m being bratty or having a danger-averting psychic vision?
Daria: Your dosage.
Tata: Yeah, so on Hamilton Street, one of those public garbage can lids – one of those big metal ones – was sitting in the middle of the street.
Daria: Get out! Like a dumpster?
Tata: No, no, like a public trash thing. They’re on every city corner.
Daria: Yeah yeah, the middle of the street?
Tata: Yup, and on College Avenue, trash bags and plastic garbage cans were thrown all over the place. Where I parked my car, traffic department sawhorses were blown down and aluminum siding panels lay on the ground. The walk from my car to the front door seemed very, very long.
Daria: You were perfectly safe, what with flying monkeys.
Tata: If you see the bottom of a house: duck!

In point of fact, no one’s dropping a house on my sister. Luz, the woman who sometimes babysits her kids is the mother of one of Daria’s many ex-fiances. Between Daria and Anya, I bought four bridesmaid dresses I never wore to weddings. Anyway, Luz was really sick and needed to see a doctor and the doctor was on one of those corners in New Brunswick where you don’t slow down even if the light’s red. Daria and her three kids dropped Luz at the doctor’s office and waited two and a half hours for Luz in the Ford Expostulator. If anyone else I knew did that, I’d put DYFS on speed dial.

Anyway, my soup’s slurped, my lunchtime’s over and my coffee’s cold. Evidence of my good fortune is everywhere, when I look for it. My co-workers and I went to Piscataway for a meeting and got blown about some in the rain, but even so we were wildly lucky when a passerby stopped his Jeep to retrieve our crooked umbrella. My new assistant, who speaks five languages and could snap me like a twig intellectually, finds me leafing through a dictionary. “You know many words,” she says, one hand on my shoulder. I am wearing a ruby-red velvet shirt. My Magic 8 Ball refuses requests.

Learn to Live With What You Can’t Rise Above

Auntie InExcelsisDeo’s got my number, and she calls, too.

Tata: My horoscope this morning can be paraphrased to read, “Call your aunt.”
Auntie I.: It can? Well, here I am now. Did I mention you should save the 29th?
Tata: What? No…
Auntie I.: I’m telling you two weeks ago to save the 29th of next month for Monday’s bridal shower.
Tata: I’ll just tell you I’m not going to any bridal showers.
Auntie I.: You’re going. I will hunt you down like a dog!
Tata: I know you will.
Auntie I.: Your uncle will put up the tent and our big lie is we’re celebrating your birthday, so you have to be there. Besides, I threw your daughter’s bridal shower so you have to come to my daughter’s. And then my other daughter’s. And maybe someday, my future daughter-in-law’s. Then you’re done.
Tata: Damn it! Okay, so…we’ll drink! The 29th is not my birthday, and there’s no way in the world Monday travels three states when she can call me up and tell me off on my special day. And wait – outside, under a tent on the last day of February, and did you know this isn’t leap year?
Auntie I.: You can rest quietly under a table somewhere and –
Tata: – try not to yak on the gifts, got it.
Auntie I.: You’re going! I will hunt you down like a dog!
Tata: Should I act surprised?

So it appears the wedding/hostage drama starts again. On Christmas Eve, which I will write about in all its sparkly, gory joy in the fullness of time, Monday was already showing signs of being our budding bridezilla, by which I mean Daria restrained me from clubbing Monday like a baby seal. Or maybe Dad threatened to send me to my room, technically located in the next county. I forget – anyway, I’m going to call Miss Sasha twice a day and tell her this is all her fault, and though I laugh as Auntie InExcelsisDeo threatens my life, I know she loves me enough to do it.

My only hope may lie in a lengthy prison sentence. I gotta think up some crimes.

No Way To Slow Down

Dom: What are you doing?
Tata: I’m going to open one of those dusty boxes.
Dom: You always say that.
Tata: This time I’m going to do it! I’m inspired!
Dom: Open a bottle of wine first. There’s gotta be something in that box you can use as a funnel.
Tata: What, so when I find Morgan’s handwriting I pour the whole bottle down my throat at once and forget to set fire to my papers?
Dom: I hear wine’s not very flammable. You’re never going to see your living room floor unless you get tanked on pinot grigio and decongestant and open the fucking box!
Tata: I’m going to do it!
Dom: What’s to stop me from getting in my truck and coming to help you?
Tata; You hate winter and your truck hates driving. See you Friday, dahhhhhlink!

Dom’s right, and I have a sippy cup full of white wine. In the box, I found folders full of 1997, as if my life stopped when I moved back into a house we all called the Heartbreak Hotel because to move in, you had to have a bad breakup of Biblical proportions. Everyone knew I had the credentials. Here they are, alphabetized, date stamped, carefully sorted. The most intense period of my life came to a screeching halt when I put files, folders and the metal rack into boxes and sealed them with stylish purple duct tape.

A good portion of the box I picked is folders labeled with names I don’t recognize. I used to attend and hold writing workshops, and writers of all skill levels asked me to critique their work along the way because I see into the words. In daily life, this is not an asset. Try reading a computer manual when you feel through the words the writer knows her boyfriend is leaving her for the boy at the copy shop. I drop these folders into plastic grocery bags for the trash.

There’s a photograph reader Mark Wintle gave me once of a copper sea and a copper yacht under a copper sun and blessed by a copper sky. Postcards from people I know and people I don’t remember and a box of Picasso bath salts puzzle me; CMJ CDs, posters from poetry readings, handbills from events I remember and don’t, stationery I still like tickle me. I stuff the bags with extra stuff I’ll never recall and never miss. Then I fold up the cardboard box.

It’s done. Hey, it’s done! So I opened the second box. It started all over with folders of my own work I barely recognized, old event photos, publicity photos I laughed about now. People took pictures of me because they had crazy ideas of what I was. What did I think I was doing? What was I doing?

Two boxes are empty and folded in a doorway. I’m relieved but relief is tempered by the pile of papers, photos and artwork drafts I can’t bear to look at; principly: the piece I was working on in 1997 when details of my life fell out of my brain like so many teardrops – there were so many tears. Winnie the Good Witch told me recently when she turned cards for me in 1996 after Morgan moved out, the cards were so bad she shuffled the deck and changed the subject. I wish it sounded familiar.

At issue: does the weight of what I was and did carry me forward or drag me to the bottom? Can I draw a mustache on that self-serious self-portrait or can I toss all that crap and design a new me? I started Poor Impulse Control to conjure a new life, but no spell will take hold until I take out the trash. My past proves the future doesn’t wait. The new life I wanted arrives every day, whether or not I’m ready for it. I’m elated. I feel light. I still don’t know what to do with myself.

Just a few more boxes to go.

Water Flowing Underground

God damn it! I was having a good day, sort of. Last night, I didn’t sleep much. I’d fall asleep, then wake up with that feeling like I’d stuck my finger in a socket. You can trust me on this. I got zapped in electrical school enough times to remember that feeling for decades to come – and by enough times I mean once. Anyway, while I did not enjoy lying on my couch waiting for the state-wide tornado warnings to pass, I did enjoy putting in a full day at the hair salon. In December, I told Rosana how much I despised January, the gray landscape, the dreariness.

Tata: I can’t take it. I want to leave the salon looking like a tropical fish.
Rosana: Atlantic or Pacific?
Tata: Pacific. Please!

Just after noon, I was running late for my appointment and stopped at a pay phone – my cell has little cartoon x’s over its eyes – on Livingston Avenue on my way up to the salon. The pharmacy was only open for two hours and I couldn’t get there.

Tata: This is Ta. Is Paulie there?
Aaron: Paulie’s sound asleep.
Tata: Would you ask him to go to the pharmacy and pick up medicine for Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul? It has to be around 1 this afternoon.
Aaron: At 1? Might as well get him up.
Tata: What?
Phone Thunk.

I’m standing on a corner in a raincoat that looks like nothing if not an especially festive flowered lawn chair pillow. I personally look like Cher’s Avon lady, and because I know exactly where I am, I am trying to keep my eye on the foot traffic in 360 degrees of broad daylight while Aaron shuffles into the living room I used to nap in and gives his son Paulie Gonzalez a shove. I already feel guilty.

Paulie: Hello? Are you alright?
Tata: I’m fine but I mismanaged my time. Can you pick up the cat’s medicine at the pharmacist?
Paulie: I was just on my way out. Sure.
Tata: What? Okay, thanks.

I sashay into the salon feeling pretty stupid. Rosana recalls clearly what we talked about right before that terrifying debacle that was the rapid series of non-stop holidays.

Rosana: Do you know what you’d like to do?
Tata: I’m interested in suggestions.
Rosana: Well! How about this base color and this pink highlight and black around the edges? And I have ideas about the cut.
Tata: Bring it!

I knew from the moment I walked into this salon and saw my former drinking buddy that eventually saying, “Darling, what do you think?” would produce big, and today it happened. It took four and a half hours, but it happened. Tonight, my cut is beautifully Thirties-retro, which I love, Around my my scalpline, there’s a ring of black hair, and the rest is two tones of utterly unnatural red. My eyes look much greener. I look like a silent film murderess. So of course, I came home happy, turned on the laptop and the TV, where I heard that fucking commercial for KFC. I’ve written about this before under other names, at other times. Listen to me carefully:

There is no excuse for playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama in a public place. Stop it. Don’t use it. And when someone else uses it, make it financially worth their while to stop it.

Let’s look at the lyrics, shall we?

Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think its a sin, yes

Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ol’ Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you

In Birmingham they love the gov’ nor
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

See, this song is so-thirty-years-ago that you sing along as it pops up in rotation on your rock station and you don’t think about it anymore, if you ever did. It’s lost all its context. Its meaning is lost on the radio-karaoke/cover-band mentality, and as anthropologists and ad men know: meaning is easily lost, replaced by a commercial message and made into kitsch.

What were our long-dead and strangely career-comatose friends from Florida talking about? Neil Young lyrics are hard to get verbatim on the web. After a few tries, I found lyrics transcribed by fans. Allowing for nuance, we get:

Southern man better keep your head
Don’t forget what your good book said
Southern change gonna come at last
Now your crosses are burning fast
Southern man

I saw cotton and I saw black
Tall white mansions and little shacks.
Southern man when will you
pay them back?
I heard screamin’ and bullwhips cracking
How long? How long?

The funny thing is when I hear Mr. Van Zant sing, I hear the words: “Well I heard Mr. Young sing about us“. Maybe you hear it. Maybe you don’t. I’ve never had any doubt. This is unbelievable arrogance. This is: What the fuck does that hippie Canadian have to say about us Good Old Boys lynchin’ our niggers? And you’re singing along, with our catchy song.

And to what governor does the song refer? George Wallace. Later in his career, after the song, Governor Wallace changed his mind about race issues, but not that much. One of the single most nauseating images I’ve ever seen was a photograph of Tammy Wynette singing Stand By Your Man to the wheelchair-bound Wallace. Also, my conscience may prick at me now and then, but in an age when my government is the greatest threat to my freedom and the people of the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans will be abandoned yet again when they’re kicked out of their hotels soon, Watergate as an insult to us Northerners looks like the arrow on the “I’m with stupid” t-shirt is pointed straight up.

Jesus Christ! KFC: no matter who your demographic might be, stop using commercials with African-American actors, selling heart-cloggingly bad fucking fried chicken to African-Americans, using as your anthem a song that is basically a want ad for a lynch mob. And don’t get me started about that Reese Witherspoon movie, because the whole premise was in such poor taste I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the posters in a mall, and being in a mall didn’t put me in a great mood to begin with.

There’s no excuse for this. No words can make this right, and yet this campaign goes on and on. Every time I see and/or hear one of these commercials it wrecks my mood for a while. I can’t believe someone hasn’t cleaned KFC’s clock over this.

Shit. I was having a pretty good day.

P.S. Via Professor Kim: We can’t ignore it and say it’s ancient history.

Friday Cat Blogging: Toss Off the Training Wheels Edition

Can you believe it? Siobhan, who picks up the trash around here, sometimes including me, is so busy having her own life she’s not fixing up PIC photos. How rude!

For one of those December holidays, Daddy and Darla gave me a lamb pelt. Daria later stared at it and said, “It’s a black sheep.” For those of you in the cheap seats: that’s symbolic.

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, loves this thing. It smells like an animal. It feels like wool. It’s draped over the zebra-striped futon I seldom sit on. I kind of wait quietly until he prod-prod-prod-prod-prod-prods, circles and settles on the furry thing. Then I race over and take his picture with the disposable camera. I’m sure it’ll look totally natural. Coming to a Poor Impulse Control post soon: photos of a black cat on a black lambskin on a black website. A challenge to common sense, if there ever was one.

I Can Say I Am What I Am

I get this a lot.

Tata: Hi, my name is Tata.
Person Not Me: Tata? What is that short for?
Tata: Domenica. Why do you ask?
Person Not Me: Domenica, I’d like you to meet…
Tata: Tata.
Person Not Me: Your name’s Domenica.
Tata: When people tell you you’re not a good listener they’re not joking.
Person Not Me: Well, if you’re going to be that way about it –
Tata: Please kiss my fabulous patootie, won’t you?

I’ve stopped telling people my real name. It’s not up to them to decide who I am. It’s up to me. This idea threatens the fragile and vulnerable.

Tata: You don’t really hear anything I say.
John: Of course I do. We’re friends. I care what you think.
Tata: You introduced me to your girlfriend as Domenica.
John: I did not.
Tata: Ask her. You didn’t even notice resorting to the conventional. Watch it or you’ll quit sculpting and have a thirty-year mortgage in no time.

Wake up and smell the baby wipes! The dominant culture wants you to go to sleep and Macy’s; it wants me to go quietly into pink-sneakered middle age, where I can grow old and invisible in a timely fashion, hopefully before I retire and cost Social Security the money I pay into it. It’s the polite thing ladies should do.

I love lipstick. I love everything about it. I love the sensation of moisture a good lipstick leaves on the lips. I love the powdery feel of matte lipsticks. I love them bright and sexy and sultry and outrageous. I love lipstick that smolders and insinuates. I love lipstick that says, “I know exactly what to do with my lips to make you crazy, no matter who you are.” I love lipstick that whispers in the ear of the beholder. I carry five or six shades of dark reds and wine-colored lipsticks. Acolytes to feminism may be tsk-tsking, but that’s the first-year student balking. Judy Grahn wrote an essay years ago about symbolic pigmentation and the appearance of sin and desire. I took my cue from her and wore only red nail polish for years. Since then, I’ve broadened my horizons and color palettes, but nothing says bite me! like red lipstick on a woman over 35.

I answer to the name by which I introduce myself. And don’t fuck with me. I’m wearing lipstick.

Everything, Everything Will Be All Right, All Right

A few weeks ago, I took Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, to the vet because to my nose the scent of his breath had changed. He’s got the feline leukemia. The vet told me awhile ago: all bets are off; feed Senor whatever Senor will eat. When Senor’s breath smells more cabbagy and less fishy, we go to the office. It’s traumatic for us both but he gets clipped toenails.

Since I am the pussycat pedestal and jungle gym, that’s really more for me, isn’t it? Yeah.

Usually stuffing the cat into the cat carrier results in scratching, contusions and crying but I eventually get over it, too. In the car, truly pathetic mewing causes me to wheedle.

Tata: It’s okay. We’re almost there. And then…well, don’t think about that part – but we’re going home soon!
Cat carrier: Mew!
Tata: We’re almost there, and then you can see the nice doctor. Okay, you hate the doctor but he likes you a bunch. Yes! Yes, he does!
Cat carrier: Mew!
Tata: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

For his part, the cat’s not happy either. Some people are good at crying; I look and feel like my face is having some sort of watery techtonic episode. The office is not like any other veterinarian I’ve been to: on the counter, cats sleep. There’s a little dog standing guard on the files. A gerbil sits on a shelf. When I arrive at the desk, a cat sniffs me before the staff gets a chance to look up. You know these people and this doctor genuinely care about their patients. The woman at the desk is new and hasn’t met us. Her hair is vibrant electric blue. She escorts us to an examination room and weighs Senor, who growls by force of habit.

The doctor holds the feline jaw firmly and exposes teeth. The feline expresses his displeasure verbally but does not actively resist. The doctor asks the blue-haired assistant to step in and assist him. They take turns fending off kitty self-defense efforts and clipping his nails – the cat’s. An astounding thing happens. Something she does gently – something I don’t see, though I can see both her hands – causes Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, to sit peacefully even after the vet and his assistant leave. I stare. I encourage him to climb back into the cat carrier. By “encourage” I mean “shove him inside with the flats of my hands.” He is calm and utterly unimpressed.

Tata: What’s the matter with you, huh?
Cat carrier: Mew!
Tata: That’s…better?

I struggle for a week and a half to medicate the pussycat twice a day with antibiotics and his normal daily Pediapred, which smells like a disgusting cherry pastiche to real fruit and real medicine. He gets medicine in moist cat food gravy, on sliced ham, in the water keeping boiled shrimp wet. Twice a day, I anxiously put out a little bowl of something and coo at Senor.

Tata: It’s a treat! A delicious treat! For you!
Kittyface: What, you were out of prime rib?
Tata: Cats don’t eat cows! Cats like cows.
Kittyface: In gravy. I love ’em.

About a week ago, I saw a sign in the Highland Park Drug Fair advertising pediatric medicine flavors. I march right to the counter and asked the burning question.

Tata: Can you make concoctions taste like meat?
Pharmacist: Ask your vet.
Tata: Ask my vet what?
Pharmacist: To prescribe it.

I love my vet to the bottoms of his comfy shoes. I love him for his devotion to his patients and their people. I love him him for all the extra care he’s given to my pet friends since Miss Sasha had mysteriously addled guinea pigs in the eighties. I love him. In this moment, I sincerely wanted to roll up some newspaper and bonk him on the nose. I’ve been tricking my cat into taking kiddie steroids for years and the vet knows this because he’s prescribed them and he knows I’ve fretted over every dose I couldn’t get into our sick friend and it never occurred to the doctor he might prescribe the steroids in yummy fish flavors?

Arrrrrrgh. The good news: maybe next week I won’t have to hover over Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul while he turns up his nose at life-giving snacks of tasty joy. It’s progress, no matter how long it took. Let’s hope meaty medicine is the kind of yucky stuff cats love.

Repay – Do Not Forget

To make yogurt, you heat milk or cream or some combination thereof to a boil. You let it cool to between 120-115 degrees. All the time, you stir constantly. You add a certain amount of live bacteria to your liquid and put it someplace warm and clean overnight. There are a few details of proportion and storage but no mysteries involved in the making of yogurt. It’s as natural as blinking an eye.

Many things are just as simple, though they may give the appearance of complexity on their faces. Over the past month, I put on a few pounds and can hardly bear to be near me. My clothing has become even more strangely ill-fitting than usual. The waistbands of two pair of pants in particular now fall across my stomach in a spot most women who’ve given birth will recognize as that spot I’d rather chew off my foot than think about. I find myself walking, leaning backward like Mr. Natural and trying to hold up my pants by sticking my stomach out. Keep on truckin’!

I fully expect to feel a breeze and find myself half-naked.

Currently, I feel fat because periodically I forget a basic truth of my Self: Exercise is always the answer. Am I restless and bored at work? Running a lap of the stairs will fix that. Am I not sleeping? More exercise, earlier in the day and mild stretching at night will make a dent in the problem. If I am stiff with arthritis, more exercise is the answer. If I have to wait for something and my mind is wandering, exercising is what I should be doing. Other than the occasional thing my internal organs do all on their own that tend to make all those gurgling, whoooshing and glug glug glugging sounds, I have the body I earn. It’s really too bad we all grew up and can’t resort to drugs with a straight face anymore. Personally, I can’t think about diet supplements after 1990 without a mental image of that poor guy on a beach and Oh. My. God! He’s got Anna Nicole Smith all over him! It’s not rational.

It’s not mysterious, either. I’m speaking for myself and no one else – because other people have problems we wouldn’t trade ours for in a million years – when I say if I’m heavy, I earned it and if I’m thin I earned that. It’s not as much fun as gulping Hollandaise out of a sippy cup, but it’s as natural as blinking an eye. Sometimes, I forget. Well, now I’ve remembered.

It’s the Way That You Do It

I’m sick of the moving boxes, gift boxes, ornament boxes, financial papers, wrapping paper, tissue paper, paper wadding, gift tags, store tags, jade leaves, recycling, regular garbage and presents Miss Sasha sent for the whole family. A chicken is roasting in the oven. Clean laundry hangs from every door, knob and curtain rod. Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, was disturbed from his cozy afternoon nap long enough for me to vacuum up dust bunnies and grit. The floor from the living room, through the hallway and into the kitchen no longer feels like a sandy stretch of boardwalk. Siobhan called me too early.

Siobhan: Did I wake you?
Tata: Yes. It’s 9:40.
Siobhan: 9:50.
Tata: Buh-bye!

Left to my own devices, I sleep better after the sun comes up. On weekends, insomnia’s less annoying if I manage little naps before 11. Ugh. I lie down on the couch and drift off a bit. Laundry. Laundry. Laundry. I’m running through a castle filled with small red and white pompoms or maybe they’re Mini Baby Bell cheeses and I’m late for the fondue but the laundry is still dry and and I think three people were there with long dark hair and damn it, I’m mostly awake and those are the Supremes. You can’t hurry love! No, you just have to wait! I get up and wheel the washing machine to the sink.

Last week, Grandpa called to thank me for sending him cookies, and to ask where I’d bought his calendar last year. I wasn’t sure but promised to find him another. Wednesday, I shopped online, not paying the closest attention, and I bought a calendar refill, rather than the actual calendar. I realized my mistake immediately and wrote back to the vendor. Four hours later, customer service responded that the order had already gone out, and my only hope was to get the package refused. The prospect of getting someone at his apartment building to refuse a package sent to a nearly blind, nearly deaf, 93-year-old war veteran was…well, that ain’t gonna happen.

Of course, yesterday I got an email that my order had shipped, so fuck them. I’ll never do business with them again. Meanwhile, my grandpa still needs a calendar. In other shipping news, Miss Sasha and Mr. Sasha sent out two large packages filled with Christmas presents for the family. One large box came to me. The other took an exciting tour of warehouses in Edison before returning to Florida, where it was repackaged and…no one knows. Friday, I returned home to find a box so large I wasn’t sure it’d fit through my door. After lots of Seuss-like shoving, pushing and pulling, the box ended up in the hallway, where it stayed until this morning, when I couldn’t stand its hulking presence another minute. I hacked it open and found another box. When I hacked that open and pulled out the contents my apartment looked like it’d snowed packing paper and styrofoam bits and the poor little village was engulfed by the avalache, help, help, let loose those dogs with booze drums! And me, without my lederhosen!

After I could find the floor again and vacuumed it, I turned my attention to the ceiling and hung up more ornamental balls in the kitchen. Then I re-potted the plants Paulie gave me and played with mud. And cleaned up water. And made more mud. Nothing could be sillier than believing my housework might interest another human being, so I don’t. Yet here we are. It’s not the housework. I’m slowly making the modest, little apartment look like the whole magical world looks in my head. Sort of. Without livestock, I may resort to Chia Pets.