A Question

Every morning a black and white cat appears at the window of the apartment across from my office. A long stretch. A pink yawn. It pokes at the sill with its front paw testing to see if the window is open. It’s not. It sits up and leans against the glass absorbing the sun with its eyes closed. It curls its black tail and stays as still as a Latin American question mark at the beginning of a sentence.
Lately it hasn’t been at its post when I arrive, which worries me. I immediately think it finally walked out on the ledge, slipped and fell to its death, except cats don’t typically die this way because they’re acrobats and reverse themselves in mid-fall and land on all four legs. cat
So what happened? I walk out of the building and there it is in the middle of a stacks of bricks, not-so thriving plants, and a rusting car. The lot next door is a dumping ground for all things discarded.
It’s black and white markings peak through the dying plants. It looks at me. It seems quite happy tip-toeing among the ruins. The sun is on its back. It’s free. I’m relieved and come back indoors.
The next day I come into my office, it’s back at the window looking down. I guess this is the arrangement with its owner, like a wayward son, sometimes coming home, but mostly on the prowl.
Calvin says, “A vagabond with a pied-à-terre.”beagle
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Spicy Tea

I lunched with an old friend of many years. She looked broody, not her typical self. So I asked her what was troubling her, and the floodgates opened.

“Elliott and I have stuck out 40 years of incompatibilities. A recent vacation is a good example. He wanted a quiet hotel room. I enjoy hearing people’s voices on the street, the dumpsters being filled with crashing bottles, it anchors me to a place,” she said demolishing her cucumber sandwich.

“He likes hiking. My hike is riding the escalator at Nordstrom’s. He’s anxious if a plan doesn’t go well, although he hates planning anything. I plan things out weeks in advance so it’s clearly my fault,” she continued with a furrowed brow.

I wanted to say something but she wasn’t listening.

“He likes hot, spicy food. You’ve seen that. He douses everything with hot sauce. I like a steak and fries. He’s a clutter bug, books and magazines everywhere, and throws nothing away. I dream of minimalist spaces, preferably in a condo with zero maintenance,” she said knocking back her shot of espresso.

“He watches his favorite movies over and over. Once I’ve seen a movie I’m over it,” she said. “Just the other night he watched Bottle Shock for the trillionth time and I sat there trying to find something I hadn’t caught before. You know what?”

Finally. “What?” I said.

“I watched for timing of the scenes like I was some professional director or something,” she said.

She went on. “He must do the driving. Months go by and I haven’t been behind the wheel, but I’ve become an expert passenger. He drives too fast. He hates traffic and being stuck behind a car. He maneuvers and strategizes so he can be out ahead. For me driving relaxes me. I daydream to my destination. Driving for him is mastering the road and eliminating the competition.” minimal

“Oh, also going for a walk is impossible. He walks too fast and I lag behind like women do from other cultures. It’s so frustrating. I hate it,” she said raising her voice. Everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. She didn’t notice.

“I love flying. He refuses to step on a plane because he’s sure he’d battle with security and they’d throw him out of the airport. We can’t take a trip anywhere. Talk about selfish.”

She finally stopped and took a breath.

Did she want a response or was this a vent session?

The waitress approached our table. She looked like Lucille Ball with 50’s glasses. “Dessert?”

My friend said almost in a growl, “Is it soaking in whiskey?”

Calvin says, “Holy cow. She’s one angry dude.” beagle

 

 

New Digs

El gato has a new home. One of my co-workers and his wife wanted him, so we put him in a carrier and drove him to his new owners last night. He meowed, scratched and complained the whole way. When I lifted him out of the carrier and placed him in the wife’s arms, he scrambled up her arm and nestled into her neck.

A heart-warming scene if there ever was one.

What I didn’t know was that there was a dog in the picture, too. He was shut out in the garage while we did the handover in the living room. I asked what kind of dog they had because the racket he was making at the garage door sounding like he was the size of a bear and I was afraid we’d be taking el gato back home with us.

“He’s a Chihuahua mix,” my co-worker said. IMG_0471

“With that noise?” I said.

“He knows something’s up,” he said.

I’ll say. It sounded like he was throwing himself against the door with all the force of a hurricane.

I had visions of fur flying and hissing and booing the instant the dog was allowed inside the house.

“Don’t worry, they’ll grow up to be friends,” my co-worker said with confidence.

I hope so, otherwise el gato I didn’t want will be back in our lives and we’ll have to give it a name. I’m thinking something like Recurring Rico.

Calvin says, “Quit threatening my peace, will you?” beagle

Foreign Policy

While the Warriors played their championship win this week, I noticed an interesting cultural phenomena on my street Tuesday night.

My Indian neighbors – those who have come to the US for the tech jobs – were hooting and hollering like the best of us over the game.

Their voices flowed out of their open windows and crossed the street to my house.

The American assimilation had begun.

One family has two children, a white Lab, and a Volvo. They’ve already been seduced.  white lab

Another family has a daughter in the elementary school around the corner. I often hear her arguing with her mother in perfect kid-lingo, sounding like a typical spoiled American child, while her mother answers her in her language.

I grew up in foreign countries.

I know what it’s like to be on foreign soil, eating different food, hearing another language all day long.

It’s exhausting.

So a basketball game makes a lot of sense.

There’s no need for subtitles.

A basket is a basket.

A foul is a foul.

And a shouting coach needs no interpretation in any language.

I remember going to bullfights.

I would always cheer for the bull.

Calvin says, “You would. You prefer animals to people anyway.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boot

I know several people who are interviewing for jobs these days.

They have superb resumes and are qualified to do the work.

They got called in and aced their preliminary interviews and they got the call back.

They went back in, got grilled by a panel and did well there as well.brain

They were told they’d hear in a couple of days to a week.

Three weeks have gone by and zilch. No call, no email, no text.

Apparently that’s how it’s done.

In other words, be prepared for a workout worse than any gym, but don’t expect any courtesy back.

Manners are a thing of the past.

Rudeness is the new currency in the workplace.

I think a lot has to do with the tech culture. They don’t care about manners. Just open your head and dump your brain on the table for analysis. They don’t care if you are a living, breathing human being with feelings. In fact that’s a liability.

It seems the M.O. has leaked into most industries now.

Calvin says, “Brains are over-rated. It’s the nose factor that should reign supreme.”  beagle

Equidae

My son spent a morning with two donkeys on a ranch in the hills.

He knew nothing about donkeys. He’d never met any before so he didn’t know what to expect. They were not used for anything other than ornamentation on the property, like trees.

They were in a corral. My son went inside softly and stood there to gauge their reaction. He didn’t want to frighten them as is so often the case with horses that don’t know you.  donkey

“Go up and pet them,” said the ranch manager.

And he did. They came up immediately to his side and allowed him to pet them, talk to them, and feed them a treat. They were happy to stay there all day with him.

“They’re like children, actually worse. They’ll eat themselves to death, they have no sense of when to stop. And these two like to wander. If you let them out, they’ll take off and won’t come back,” the manager said.

The property manager was hoping to find them a new home.  I guess he was tired of chasing them all over the hills. They had become a nuisance.

What did he expect from ornaments?

They had no purpose in life.

We’d be traipsing all over the place, too if we didn’t have things to do.

At the end of the visit, my son declined them. He already had two dogs to take care of, he didn’t need two bigger ones.

Calvin says, “You’re close to hurting my feelings. Am I a nuisance like that? I thought you adored me.” beagle

 

 

 

Overheard Conversations # 11

I haven’t posted my regular overheard conversations in a long time, so I’ve got a few.

Two young men walking down the street. One was pouring his heart out about a girl he was attracted to, but wasn’t ready to commit to. He didn’t ask his friend his opinion, but he got it anyway. “It’s like this. You can either buy the book or borrow it from the library,” he said.

A sign on the subway station wall:  photo (38)

no mocking

no eating

no playing

Have you hugged your local reporter lately? No. Because there aren’t any, only idiots who can’t write a sentence, or give you the facts about a story because they aren’t there! They’re picking it up from a wire service, or worse, from Facebook.

Don’t trust a doctor who lives on pills.

A new study says that saturated fat won’t kill you. That’s because it was sponsored and paid for by the cows.

Don’t believe all the likes a picture or video gets. People in the Philippines get paid to click for a living.

Calvin says, “I overheard a conversation at the dog park. It went like this: Woof, woof, come back here, stop that, that’s nasty!”

beagle