“You call this FOOD??”

October 31st, 2005

Both cats have been begging for food all weekend. For Linus, this takes the form of a waggle-sprint into the kitchen any time he notices one of us looking at him, as in ‘Look at me, owners, going to the kitchen in a hurry! Because I am ASSUMING you’re going there, too, to FEED me.’ For Mia, it takes the form of a lot of slithering around the bases of the kitchen stools while making a sound like the wreck of five meow-trains.

The weird thing is, they have food. A whole bowl of it, which, after comparing notes yesterday, Steve and I realized neither one of us had filled all weekend. It’s the same brand I always buy them except for that one … little … change …

It’s the “lite” option.

They have rejected this lite option with a team effort (their only team effort to date, aside from their team efforts-to-drive-us-insane-with-hiss-scratch-banshee-noise-scrabble-fighting, of course) of delusion: ‘Food? What food? I do not see any food in this bowl.’

For Linus, this is another in a series of disappointing rejections of our attempts to improve his health. A lot like the time we bought him the prescription diet food (yes, as in, the vet had to provide this food, and each week it cost us roughly as much as our own groceries for a month) for months and months, and he lost … get ready … one-tenth of a pound. Sigh. Or the time the vet, in response to my concerns about Linus’s joints, advised that we give him glucosamine pills. Shoving pills down Linus doesn’t work, and since Linus doesn’t want to eat anything besides dry cat food—anything, say, you might be able to hide a pill in, like tuna or cheese—we tried hiding it in his food dish. He responded by eating every single morsel of food and leaving the pill all alone in the bowl. So I ground it up and sprinkled it on his food. He cleverly took to shaking the morsels between his teeth before eating them, dusting the linoleum with glucosamine.

It appears we will have to give up on Nutro-Max “Lite,” as well. Linus continues as of this posting to telepathically plead for real food, staring intensely into my brain. And last night, he foraged around our room, managing much to our amazement to open the sticky, super-magnetized closet door.

Mia, meanwhile, has only stepped up the foraging that is her usual habit. She has always loved leather. Mm, leather licking, yum. She has licked bald spots on many a leather or suede shoe, and once, investigating a strange noise in the closet, I found her upright on her hind legs among the hanging clothes, guiltily licking the back of my leather jacket.

This morning, she has attempted to nibble off a piece of the straps to my bag (I’ll admit, they do look a lot like beef jerky), licked the shiny varnished knobs of the footboard of the guest-bed, been shooed more than once from gnawing at the corner of the screen of this very laptop, and, in her most pathetic attempt to find nourishment yet, tried to eat the arm of my wooden desk chair. Not that Mia needs the lite food. She’s all ribs these days. I guess a lifetime of eating mostly rubber bands and houseplants has made her into something of a waif. In any case, I am off to the pet store soon to buy these cats some fatty food so they will leave me and my home furnishings alone.

A Different Kind of Fun

October 31st, 2005

This weekend Stevel and I played many rounds of a game called Wordigo, which is more fun even than Scrabble, and which I pronounce like word-E-go, and which Stevel pronounces like “vertigo.”

In addition, we did some chillin’ around the house. Steve got a new pinball game for his Nintendo, so he played that some, and he also did some Dance-Dance-Revolution dancing with Mario, plumber-by-day, salsa-guapo-by-night. Finally, he read some in the new David Rakoff book. After one of the many times I heard him laugh as he read, I asked him to quote me the funny passage. Says Rakoff:

“I am no fun at all. In fact, I am anti-fun. Not as in anti-violence, but as in anti-matter. I am not so much against fun—although I suppose I kind of am—as I am the direct opposite of fun. I suck the fun out of a room. Or perhaps I’m just a different kind of fun; the kind that leaves one bereft of hope; the kind of fun that ends in tears.”

“You identify with that, don’t you,” I asked Stevel.

“Yeah, I do,” he said.

Midterm Malaise and Climate-controlled Days

October 27th, 2005

This is the middle of the semester, a time that kicks everyone’s ass. I haven’t slept much this week, between grading my students’ midterm exams and second essays as well as holding midterm conferences with them. In confirmation of this state of things, the owner/cashier at the convenience store I visit in the mornings on my way to campus for my Diet Pepsi fix said to me on Wednesday, “Oh, you’re late today.” You know it’s bad when they know you AND your schedule at 7-11.

I had to give my students a pop quiz today, and I feel bad about it, but they really need to be reading the assignments in order to be successful in writing their next essay. Still, I feel cheap and dirty. A pop quiz? It sounds so crabby.

In more exciting news, our quality of life at No. 6 improved ten-fold this week with the addition of a working HVAC unit (AC and heat!). When I moved in with Stevel two years ago, it was the chilly wintertime. I know it’s California, but we DO get some cool weather, and I was freezing. So I tried to turn on the heat, but only cold air blew noisily out of the vents. So I went on the roof, where I found the ancient, 20-something-year-old HVAC unit. On the side of it were scratched and markered dates, one a year until Steve bought the place. Then, no dates. Hm, I thought, dialing the number of a local repair shop. Long story short, without annual maintenance, an old HVAC on a roof in this coastal, smoggy climate seizes up irreparably. But Steve did not consider this a priority, not in the chill of winter OR in the blazing heat of summer. He doesn’t like fake air, you see, and thus the delay … until now! Ah, how I am enjoying the sweet smell of puron from our highly efficient, shiny, lovely (the other units on the roof pale beside it!) HVAC. I challenge any tree hugger to show as much love and affection when encircling a birch or pine as I showed that HVAC with my embrace on the roof Monday.

The eggs …

October 27th, 2005

… are gone. And with them, another chapter of my life, over.

Wallace & Gromit

October 23rd, 2005

I forgot to mention that we saw this movie last weekend. It’s very cute and entertaining, appropriate and fun for everyone. I highly recommend it.

Time Zones and Tender Feet

October 23rd, 2005

First of all, yes, the eggs were still there. Update: Someone moved the eggs to the windowsill and poked a hole in one of them, so I can now report that they are not hard-boiled. Nor are they stinky yet, though, which is surprising.

I just received an e-mail from my mom telling me that my stepbrother and his wife had a baby, Laci Alexis, at 6:30 this morning. It’s only 6 a.m. here. It’s weird to hear that a baby was born half an hour from now. Laci is their third kid; she arrives to a sharp, inventerly, sometimes mischievous older brother (Brandon) who is proud to be all boy and who will never let her forget he is the oldest and the all-boyest, and to a sister (Kylie) not very much older than she is who so far is mellow and smiley in a way that somehow seemed classic of middle-childness even before half an hour from now, when she actually became a middle child.

We had a visit from Miss Kate yesterday, who lives in Portland and who was in L.A. to visit her brother and pick up a car, which will make a great story, so I’m sure she’ll blog about it here. It was wonderful to see her and chat.

Last night, my husband, AKA man-with-the-tenderest-feet-in-the-world-tenderer-even-than-a-newborn-baby’s-skin, refused my proposal that, to shake things up, we switch ends of the bed, move our pillows to where our feet usually are and put our feet up by the headboard. The result was that as we were reading before going to sleep, my pillow experimentally at the foot of the bed, and his, conservatively where it always is, I had such a close-up view of his tender feet as to realize anew their incredible tenderness. The skin is so tender that you don’t even have to touch it, you can just see from a foot away that it is soft and smooth and pink and hydrated in a way that the other women and I sitting soaking or being heel-buffed at Nails by Kim on Fridays can only dream of. It might be because of his aversion to flip-flop-wearing; he is always in socks and sneakers. Or it might just be one of those special things about him that only his wife and the Internet may know. In any case, it is really something. I mean, they are SO tender.

The Underwear

October 14th, 2005

I report that yesterday—two days later—the eggs were still there on the A/V cart in my classroom.

I am reminded of another random-objects sighting on the campus of Long Beach State last year. The story begins back in the fall semester, when I, a grad student new to campus, scoped out locations for an afternoon nap between classes. I found the ideal spot in a seldom-used, bound-magazines room on the second floor of the library. The floor was covered with carpet, albeit a ratty carpet, and there was a nook in the back of the room between two bookshelves. I enjoyed my nook all semester for naps and quiet study time on the floor and even invited my friends to join me for social chats there. It was during one of these chats that Jeremy said, seemingly randomly at first, “Who would take off their underwear and hide it between two books in the school library?” Ex-CUSE me?! Jeremy had spotted the unthinkable: a pair of rather large men’s tighty-whities stuffed between two books on the bottom shelf right beside my napping nook! G R O S S! (No, we did not TOUCH it.)

We made the most of it, of course, meeting always thereafter “at the underwear” to socialize. The underwear remained all through spring semester and over the summer and finally disappeared early this fall semester. Disappeared, but not—oh, never—forgotten.

The Eggs

October 12th, 2005

Today in the classroom where I teach poetry, there were two EGGS on the A/V cart. One was brown, and one was white. Were the hard-boiled? Raw? I do not know, I did not touch them. I simply observed that there were two eggs on the A/V cart and tried to move on with my day.

Shirt Mercury

October 9th, 2005

Those of you who are married or living with a significant other know what I mean when I say this: You simply cannot predict the weirdnesses you will learn about with time and cohabitation. Every week I do our laundry, and every week I watch the same seven versions of the one stevel fashion grow more and more worn with time and laundering. Periodically, I go to the GAP and refill the solid-color, pocketless T-shirt supply, or the supply of solid-color shorts, or of jeans. Yet, until I can justify tossing some item based on serious wear (holes, stains, what have you), it is the same seven solid-color, pocketless shirts I see week after week. Steve has maybe 20 of these shirts, but it’s the light blue one, the slightly lighter blue one, the dark blue one, the old, faded black one (not, God forbid, the new, too-black black one), the yellow one, etc. So THIS week, to shake it up and bring in some fall colors, I put the clean shirts on the BOTTOM of the drawer.

I just happened to be in the closet when Steve began compiling his outfit the next morning. He puzzled over the stack topped with unfamiliar colors.

“Yes,” I said, “I put some different stuff on top.”

“Where’s the gray one?” he wanted to know.

“How about this one?” I proposed, lifting a brown shirt from the top of the pile, “Or this orange one?”

“Those are too hot,” he said.

“But it’s the same shirt. Same brand, same store,” I reasoned. In fact, the orange shirt was purchased from the same table and on the same day as the aforementioned dark blue shirt, one of the weekly favorites (and one of which Stevel owns two identical copies).

“I don’t know why, but some are just hotter on me than others. I get too hot in that one.”

Of course. Makes perfect sense. One shirt can be cooler than another, identical, shirt based solely on its color.

I totally give up.

Hello, BB

October 6th, 2005

Check out my friend’s super-cute dog, Ruby. One of the very thoughtful gifts I received for my birthday was Nintendogs, from Steve. Now we have a cute virtual beagle puppy named “BB.” She knows her name and everything. SO CUTE.

The Ticket Hole

October 4th, 2005

The Golfie has had an eventful two weeks. Last week, she got a new belly cover. (Yes, that is an official VW part name.) I went to the carwash, see, and something came loose. So the giant piece of plastic that covers the underside of the car was hanging down in the front, attached only by a screw or two at the back, which left me basically shoveling up the 405 freeway to get home and to the dealership service center.

Before that, she got a new windshield. I’m not allowed to tell the story here, but it began when I removed the windshield wiper arm and couldn’t get it back on. It’s on now, keeping the rain off of a new windshield.

The windshield replacement meant the discovery of a mini time capsule of sorts. Early on in our relationship with this car, we realized we would have to rethink Steve’s trademark and suave method for storing parking garage entrance tickets with a flick of the wrist on the dashboard. If you put a piece of paper on the dashboard, Golfie eats it. It slides quickly down the front toward the windshield, where it is lost forever. Our greatest casualty was an entrance ticket from the LAX airport parking deck. After a thorough search of the car and his pockets, Steve had to pay a painful 30 dollars for 15 minutes of parking. The attendant told him that when he found the ticket, he could come back with the receipt and get a refund. We held onto that receipt for a few weeks in vain hope, knowing in all reality that the ticket had fallen into the abbyss that is The Ticket Hole.

That was last March, and do you know what the service people found when they replaced the windshield? Yes, the ticket! Alas, it was too late to get the refund, but hey, there it was. Like a shark with its stomach cut open to reveal all of the missing cameras and sunscreen bottles and pets of all of the beachgoers of all time, the Golfie was made to return what was never hers to eat in the first place. Make no mistake, we love this car. We just don’t love that she has a ticket hole.

When English Teachers Get Too Little Sleep

October 4th, 2005

Last night I dreamt I was teaching a class of high schoolers, and there had been a lot of rain, so I was drying out my shoes. In the middle of the period, a girl knocked and came into the room. She was wearing a short, pleated skirt and matching polo-style top, both orange plaid (a small-striped plaid). She gave a rehearsed spiel about a restaurant where she worked and then offered promotional cards to the class members. It all took just a few minutes. When she left, I stood and said to the class, “Now, let’s think of her as a text. We can analzye this text just as we would any other. She was wearing Hooters colors. No accident. Why?” In response to this for some reason, the class members expressed their admiration for me and for my brilliance. A kid in the front row hooted and yelled, “Yea-ah, Mrs. L!” Then the bell rang.


October 1st, 2005

It’s only 7:30 a.m., and I’m up and dressed. Sometimes I just wake up and have to get out of bed. I feel congested, I think because of the smoky air. Yesterday I swept a bit of ash off of our front patio furniture. We can’t see the fires in the valley, but we sure know they’re there.

Steve got up, too. He came downstairs and we met up in the kitchen, where he pulled me onto his back for a piggy-back ride across the room. Whee! Then he knelt down on all fours, me still on his back. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“Mechanical bull,” he replied.

“I don’t want a mechanical bull,” I said, “I want a husband.”

“I don’t think you realize how similar those two are,” he said. “Always trying to get you off my back.”