Sunday, December 25, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
"For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not,
this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in
his hand and rend him.
Let him be struck with palsy, and all his members blasted.
Let him languish in pain, crying aloud for mercy, and let
there be no surcease to this agony till he sing dissolution.
Let bookworms gnaw his entrails...and when at last he
goeth to his last punishment, let the flames of hell consume
him for ever."-Curse on book thieves, from the monestary of San Pedro, Barcelona, Spain
*editor's note - This is a post from my old blog, "Red, White and Esoteric." It was originally posted February 22, 2007.
Most of you have met, or know of my cat, Bella. Bella is my favorite thing in the whole world. She is gray, tailless and quite fat. She is also vicious, violent and unrepentant. It would take weeks of therapy to even begin to touch on why on Earth I worship her so. Aside from Bella, my very favorite things are books. Books, unlike Bella, let me pick them up, carry them around, pet them lovingly and, in some cases, break their spines, all without complaint. I pride myself on how much I read. I was a secretly thrilled the other night at dinner as I listened to Significant Dave tell someone I don't just read books, I consume them. And it got me to thinking: what if I did really consume one?
I didn't eat a whole book of course. I thought about it, got the mental image of me sitting down at the table, fork and knife in either hand, napkin tucked in to my shirt, book on a plate. Unless you eat a paperback, I can only imagine the cover is tough to chew. And books have no nutritional value. I didn't think eating a whole book could be good for my digestive system. The term 'book binding' would take on a whole other meaning, I'm guessing. But a page, where's the harm in that? I've eaten paper before. Not recently, but I've done it. Once, in high school, I guilted my mother into buying me an expensive Georgetown Hoyas sweatshirt. She told me she wasn't sure she was going to let me keep it, so to hold onto the receipt. Of course, as soon as she turned around to leave the store, I swallowed it. Then there were those little pieces of Trident gum they said you could chew with the wrapper on. So my friends and I did, because we were cool and tough. And weird, apparently. Who chooses the "eat paper" option?
So, a page. The question was, what page? Not one from a book I didn't like. I could imagine it making it taste worse. Not an important page, from the body. That would ruin the book. I settled on the title page from a copy of Light House by William Monahan. I own two copies, because its easily the funniest book I've read. I have one copy for myself and one I lend out to a very lucky few. Next, how to eat it? There's very little preparation necessary. You don't have to peel it, slice it or bake it. I thought cramming the whole thing in my mouth would be like eating a giant spit ball, so I ripped it up into little one-inch pieces. The good thing about my apartment is that while I have no actual sustenance, I do have lots of condiments. I ate a couple of pieces dry, wadding them up into little balls, then I tried a couple dipped in ketchup and a couple dipped in maple syrup. They didn't help with the eating, though, they just hid the cardboard flavor a bit. I finished the rest by slugging them down with Diet Coke. There. I ate a piece of a book, actually consumed it. I'm proud. And still...weird.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
"Bruce needs a cat," I announced one afternoon. I had been hiding at Bruce's house for three months, ever since my ex-boyfriend turned up at my apartment, despite a court order telling him he wasn't allowed within 150 yards of me. Bruce, the father of a friend from school, was an Outward Bound instructor who spent most of his year on the West Coast, giving my boyfriend Dan and I the run of his place.
"Oh, it's Bruce who needs a cat, is it?" Dan didn't believe me for a second. He knew that having grown up surrounded by felines, I found it a little disconcerting not having a four-legged creature in the house. He also knew that Bruce was the most easygoing person on the planet, and that he adored me: If I told Bruce I wanted to put his bed on the lawn and set it on fire, he'd go along with it without question.
I called Bruce in Washington, where he was working. "We're getting you a cat," I told him.
"Sure," he said. See?
Twenty minutes later, having seen a "Free Kittens" advertisement in the local paper, we were led by a woman onto the porch of a house not far from where we lived. There, piled quietly atop one another in a basket, were five fluffy gray kittens, blinking and yawning.
"Mitsy got out for a night," the woman told us, pointing to an adult cat reclining nearby. "Had herself quite a time, the hussy."
"They're so cute!" I squealed, picking one of the kittens up. "They're so - OH MY GOD IT DOESN'T HAVE A TAIL!"
"No, Mitsy is a Manx," the woman explained. "They're born that way. A couple of the kittens have stubs, but the others are completely tailless."
My brain melted a little. Teeny tailless tabbies - KITTEHS HAVE FAILED TO LOAD. I knelt down and proceeded to pet them for several minutes. Two fell asleep, and the others lay there, uninterested.
"Which one?" Dan asked. I didn't know how to choose. They all seemed relatively the same - furry and inactive. I was about to close my eyes and randomly pick one, when I noticed motion across the porch. It was a tall rubber tree plant, and its leaves were rustling violently. Near the top of the plant, a kitten clung to a branch, engaged in a fight to the death with a leaf twice its size.
"That one," I pointed.
From the minute I picked Bella, it was obvious that she was going to belong to me, not Bruce. I imprinted on her immediately. It was as though my heart had been plucked from my chest, outfitted with fur and fangs, and then handed back to me. Every conceivable free moment I had was spent following her little tailless butt around the house. I was delighted by all her adventures. She grappled with giant moths, insolent shoelaces, swarthy tissue boxes. She managed to get herself shut in the cabinets, the closets, the fridge. She suffered pratfalls of Wile E. Coyote proportions, and would shake them off like they were nothing. At night, she slept in a Saltines box by my pillow, coming out occasionally to stalk our feet under the blankets.
I was fascinated by everything about her - she was my familiar. And she knew the sway she held over me, occasionally stopping in mid-play to bite my fingers or ankle in case I forgot for a second that I was her bitch. I talked about her incessantly, took her picture constantly. I even bought us matching leopard-print collars, with little heart tags that read "Bella."
"You love that cat more than you love me," Dan told me, after several months of The Bella Show.
Did I? Surely, that couldn't be the case.
"Yes," I answered.
Our relationship didn't last much longer.
In spite of all the love I showed her, or perhaps because of it, Bella grew up to be a royal monster. She became 25 pounds of nasty-cat, hissing and scratching at everyone around her, myself included. She would let me pet her for only a few moments before latching onto my hand and rabbit-kicking me with her back feet. She growled and clawed at guests, meter-readers, pizza delivery guys. The vet refused to see her, unless I shelled out an extra $50 each visit to have her sedated so the vet could examine her without being injured. She was banned from every kennel in the area. "Not only did I have to put on the elbow-length leather gloves just to put food in her cage," said one kennel owner, who was near tears, "but she was also verbally abusive." (I admit, that made me a little proud.)
"Why does she hate me?! I love her sooooooo much!" I cried to her vet, after Bella's attack on our building's maintenance man nearly resulted in our eviction. "What did I do wrong?"
"You didn't do anything wrong," the vet told me. "Animals are like people - they each have their own personality. Sometimes, they just turn out bad. Or, in Bella's case, really, really awful."
The only person she didn't seem to have a problem with was my husband, probably because he had no interest in her. He had moved in when she was two, and they immediately went about ignoring one another - he didn't talk to her, and she didn't try to eat his face. Me, I would try to rub her on the head, and in turn, she would try to remove my spleen through my ear.
She was all mine, though, and I loved her fiercely. I was so happy in the brief moments I was able to pet her before she turned into Psycho Kitty, or the times she would sleep at the foot of our bed or entertain us with the midnight cat-crazies.
"Tell me again, how long do cats live for?" my husband asked, as he helped me bandage my most recent Bella-inflicted wound.
"Bella is never going to die," I told him. "Evil lives forever. Besides, you shouldn't want her to die, because I love her, and you love me. Despite my cat."
"Yes. Despite your cat."
She outlived him by four years.
Bella mellowed out in the last few years of her life, taking to sleeping by my pillow, just like when she was a kitten, and even letting me pet her for extended periods of time. She became more vocal, loudly expressing her opinion about everything, and even affectionate, following me from room to room...to loudly express her opinion about everything. We settled into a comfortable routine - we were two old maids sharing an apartment, eating and sleeping and occasionally hissing at people.
She had a stroke two weeks after her fifteenth birthday. I had always imagined when she died, I would lose my mind. I would come home and find her dead, and I would be hysterical. I was sure they'd have to tranq me and put me in a straitjacket. But when it happened, there was no time for hysterics. She was barely moving and her breathing was shallow, her eyes filmy. I wrapped her in a towel and rushed her to the emergency vet.
When the vet examined her, she told me there was no hope of her recovering. I was actually, surprisingly, very calm. There was no question about what needed to be done. Bella gave a few feeble last growls while the vet prepared to give her the shot. I put my face down close to hers, kissed her on the head, and thanked her for being my best friend for fifteen years. Then, for a split second, I panicked. I shut my eyes and thought, "There's no going back from this moment." But you can never get any moments back, no matter what choice you make. So I opened my eyes and looked at her as she closed her eyes for the last time.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
- The title of the funniest book you've read
- Your favorite joke
- Your email address
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
I found this in a used copy of LITTLE WOMEN: "Memo: Today is July 7, 1977. You can also write that 7/7/77. No one will be able to write that again for 100 years. I am 13 years old. Maybe I'll live for another century. Goodbye 7/7/77."
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Like most people, I have irrational fears. And one of those fears is sharks - I am terrified of sharks. I think they are amazing creatures, but I do not go in the ocean. Or in lakes or rivers. Or swimming pools. (Don't roll your eyes - I saw Jaws 3-D!) Because, with my luck, the one time I go swimming, I will be eaten by a shark. Which makes for a great story, but I am awfully attached to my mortal coil. (I have so many more books I want to read!) Large bodies of water kinda freak me out, anyway. There's, like, stuff in them. This creeps me out. It will surprise no one when I say I also do not go on boats. Because if they stop floating, where do you end up? That's right - in the water. With the sharks and the other creepy stuff, like jellyfish. And Squidward.