Play on!

From music IS the food of love (which is Part One of this story):

She spotted him across the floor, dancing with a group of people she didn’t know, and sidled between other dancers to come right up to him. The song ended. This was their moment. They looked at each other.

The lights came on. It was midnight, time to clear out the hall. The dance had ended before the tape was finished.

part two the sequel

The boy looked straight at the girl.

“Wait here. I’m going to get the tape. We’ll have the rest of the dance somewhere else.”

He left her alone with a large group of his friends. She stood awkwardly waiting, wondering if she should try to talk to anyone, wondering how long the boy would be gone, wondering how in the world he was going to pull this off. (She found out later that the boy knew the guy running the music for the dance and simply told him, “Peter, we need the tape.”)

Mission accomplished, the boy led the group out of the dining hall and over to a nearby dorm. There was a student-run cafe in the basement which had a large lounge area that would be the perfect size… but they were having a foosball tournament and it was packed. There was another such cafe in the next dorm over… where they were having an open-mike poetry night. The group had lost people to attrition at each of those cafes, so the boy led a smaller contingent to the lounge on his own floor… right into the middle of a movie night.

Undaunted, the boy directed everyone to his own dorm room. The girl was a bit puzzled, as most dorm rooms on campus barely fit the standard two extra-long twin beds and two built-in desks. This particular door opened to a massive room: A queen-size bed. A sofa and armchair. A coffee table. A globe that lit up. Stereo components stacked on crates of records. Every square inch of walls and ceiling covered with posters. (A large storage room had been converted due to a housing shortage; halfway through the year, the boy’s roommate moved out to live with other foreign students and the boy had that huge room all to himself.)

On her way in, the girl made a point of looking at the standard RA-issued construction paper name tag on the door. The boy’s name was David.

The girl’s name, of course, was Lori.

There were only five or six people left in David’s entourage by this time, and we all filed into the room as he went to the stereo to put the tape in so we could keep dancing. Just then, someone else burst in.

“Dave! Ivan’s throwing up in the bathroom and we need you to help us get him into the shower!”

David ran out to help; we all found places in the room to sit down and wait. The others talked amongst themselves, of people I didn’t know and plans I wasn’t a part of. I sat on the sofa looking around at the walls: Tears for Fears. Humphrey Bogart. Depeche Mode. A stop sign. U2. Kirk and Spock. The Police. Disneyland. Crazy 8s. “No Parking.” Ages and ages passed, and David did not return. One by one, people started calling it a night, but I stubbornly stayed.

So did one other guy.

He saw me looking at the posters and asked me about music. It turned out we were both from Southern California, so we were familiar with the same radio stations and many of the same bands, which helped keep the conversation going. He also liked Depeche Mode, but he was not the Depeche Mode guy, so the whole time we were chatting, I kept one eye on the door.

I’d almost given up hope – we were getting into the wee hours of the morning by now – when David finally came back from having dragged his very inebriated floormate into the shower, hosed him down, cleaned him up, and gotten him safely put to bed.

Obviously, we would no longer be having a dance, since almost everyone had gone back to their rooms. I wasn’t leaving, though; I’d planned to reconnect with the Depeche Mode guy and I wasn’t letting any series of mishaps get in my way. (Or, apparently, the presence of some other guy, since he was still hanging around.)

David took up a seat on the floor by the turntable and started pulling out records, asking me if I’d heard certain songs and then putting on all the ones he raved about. (He made a point of asking me to listen to a specific New Order song, one I didn’t know; I found out later that it made him think of me.)

My hopes of getting to talk to David one-on-one were destined for disappointment, as the other guy never showed any inclination to leave. In fact, he was the one who proposed going to Bannings (a 24-hour diner and self-proclaimed “Pie House”) to get some dessert. He had a car, so the three of us piled into his 4-Runner, with David in the passenger seat and me in the back. We ate pie. We stayed up all night. It was our first date: David, Lori, and the other guy.

And so it began…

“Oh, you’ve got green eyes / oh, you’ve got blue eyes / oh, you’ve got gray eyes / And I’ve never met anyone quite like you before.”

– New Order, Temptation

Did you miss Part One? Click here.

Cat tails

We have two cats. They are sisters named Jinx and Fu. We adopted them from a friend who was moving overseas when they were eight years old – what is that in cat years? – back in September 2012. Life has been a roller coaster ever since.

Jinx and Fu cat

First of all, the cats were supposed to be Quinland’s. She had been dying for a pet, and when we were at our friend Liz’s house in London, Q fell madly in love with their cat, Garfield. Besides being cute and furry and a bit wacky, Garfield had the ultimate desirable cat trait: he would come and crawl up in Quinland’s lap to be petted or just to hang out. It was true cat love. Needless to say, Q was very excited at the prospect of getting not just one but TWO cats of her very own. Visions of cat cuddling danced in her head.

Quinland broke her leg three days before the cats were due to arrive, and the prospect of weeks on the couch must have made the idea of New Cat Friends seem even more attractive. Of course, it didn’t work out that way. Between the giant neon cast and the scary scary crutches, Jinx and Fu were absolutely terrified of Q. There was no cuddling. No petting. No anything. They didn’t want to come near her. They have warmed up slightly over the last year – Jinx will even occasionally sit on her lap to be petted – but by no means did they provide the pet companionship Q was looking for.

David, it turns out, does not like having cats. He was under the impression – as was I – that cats are like teenagers: they like their own space, they want to follow their own agenda, and as long as you make sure there is food in the house, they are fine. Jinx is pretty low-maintenance like that. She also tends to party late into the night and leave the house trashed.

Yarn Fest 2013 with Jinx the Cat

Fu, on the other hand, is like a newborn. She cries when she is hungry, thirsty, or has just used her litter box and wants it cleaned. She cries when she wants attention. She cries when she is tired and wants to go to bed. She cries when she wants you to get up. The noise is absolutely driving David insane.

Fu Up Close and Personal
This is what you see when Fu is crying for you to get up.
She stands right on your chest and starts yowling.

But, just like a little baby, when all her needs have been met to her satisfaction, Fu is so dang cute. She will roll onto her back and stretch out like an otter to get her tummy rubbed. She will let you cuddle her in your arms like a doll. She talks in her sleep and snores the tiniest little snore.

My sleepy baby kitten, Fu

Like all cats, they both love containers. Jinx tries to climb on, under, or around any box (or basket or stack of books or piece of paper) she sees.

Basket full of kitty cat - Jinx

Fu likes to crawl into a comfy box for a nap, regardless of comparative size.

Fat cat. Small box. Fu napping.

I feel like I have been getting pretty good Cat Value from these two. Though I sometimes feel like I am the only one cleaning the litter box, I love to play with them and brush them and cuddle them and talk to them in silly voices. They totally know my voice and they know when I am calling them.

But they may have to find a new home. Truly, David feels that they are a serious liability. I do see his points:

  • Fu’s constant meowing is keeping us from ever getting a decent night’s sleep. With the fatigue that comes from MS (for me) and from teaching high schoolers (for David), sleep is a precious commodity. The broken-up sleep could be a big factor in how down I have felt all this year.
  • Jinx and Fu are destroying the furniture. They both scratch and claw at everything. Both arms of our loveseat are shredded. The ottoman and sofa are getting seriously clawed. The carpet upstairs is being torn up bit by bit. As David says, “We are paying money (for food, etc.) to keep pets that are destroying our belongings. Why would anyone pay to have their stuff ruined?”

I can’t solve either of those issues. There is no way to shut Fu up, and nowhere to put her that we can’t hear her.  At 4:40 this morning, in a sleepy haze, David put Fu out on the deck. (They are indoor cats, but our deck is so high up, they can’t go anywhere.) At 7:00, when I woke up, I went to let the cat in and she was gone. Thankfully, she reappeared on the DOWNSTAIRS deck. Did she jump? Fall? Who knows, but we are lucky she seemed okay, if a bit disoriented.

As for the scratching, I am at a loss. The cats have a giant scratching tower-castle-thingy and they rarely use it. I’ve gotten a variety of scratching posts and boxes, but they don’t like them, even when liberally sprinkled with catnip.

I feel guilty about all the problems, since I was the one who brought them into our lives. I hate feeling like I am making my family suffer. I want to find a solution that makes everyone happy… but I don’t know what that is.

In the meantime, I look at these two cuddly mufflepuffins and think how sad I would be to see them go.

Sleepy cat friends - Jinx and Fu

The queen of summer

‘Cause we keep it together the better the weather,
We love it that way…

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Last summer, when we were in Europe, I realized how much I miss having summers off. Not (just) because of the whole not-working action, but because my family is off in the summer – and I love those guys.

For seventeen years, David and I had summers off together. Most of that time, it was because we were both either students or teachers or one of each. Occasionally, we were between jobs, between states, or between countries. Whatever the reason, we had that time together.

David is different in the summer. During the school year, he is so focused on school – and playing board games to alleviate the stress of school – that he rarely has time to just relax and be himself. In the summer, he is that person… and I really like that person.

Quinland marveled over this repeatedly in Europe. David was so friendly, so chatty with strangers, so energetic, so willing to do hikes and bike rides and sea kayaking, so eager to sightsee and go to museums, so FUN. (We took to calling this aspect of him “Euro Dad.”) But really and truly, I know that David from all the summers we spent together doing all those things. It was so incredible to get to have that experience again after almost 10 years without it.

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So, this year, I decided I was going to get at least a taste of it. We took a vacation – a real vacation – and went on a road trip down through Oregon, Northern California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado, stopping at National Parks and State Parks along the way. D and Q went for three weeks; I couldn’t get that much time off, but I went for two full weeks. Camping, driving, visiting friends and relatives, hiking, just hanging out – it was like having a summer again.

Oh, I can’t forget to add this: Crater Lake is beautiful. Why had I never managed to get there before?