Tag Archives: Simone

Baby Girl

Baby Girl was one of her cats. And I didn’t think I could love her. And not love her cats. The other cats were Frank, Tazman and Francesca. Baby Girl had actually been left with her by a friend. And the friend was never able to return. When I was a small boy I had a pet cat. One of the only pets I really loved. I remember moving and fearing losing Smoky. I would call for what felt like hours, in hopes he would come back. He always did. In the Fifth Grade he disappeared. I don’t know why or how.
So getting to know her cats was easy. I like cats. I am much more of a cat person than a dog person. They were easy cats to love. At times I spent the night at her house they would sleep on the bed with me. I watched her house, and the cats, while she was out of town. Often they would all be on the bed. I recall one night waking up in the middle of the night. I couldn’t breathe. Then I open my mouth and it is full of cat hair. Frank was sleeping right on my neck. Was he trying to kill me? I doubt it, she said he did the same to her.

I think Baby Girl liked my more than the rest. Frank had a strong bond with her. She had gotten him as a kitten and raised him. Baby Girl and Frank always got along. Except once when she had been gone for a long time. Frank went after Baby Girl a little, just to mark his human. Francesca was always the wanderer. She would hunt mice and birds. It wasn’t uncommon to find their remains in various parts of the house. Baby Girl was a mellow, mostly indoor cat. She could go outside like the others. But spent most of her time on the couch. When I was there she spent most of her time with me.

The first time she caught a mouse I was shocked. To be honest I don’t know what happened outside. I know she came in and was meowing at me in a strange tone. She is normally a quiet kitty. So I look over and see she has a mouse. It is still alive in her mouth. When Frank comes in she lets the mouse go and he starts to play with it. Baby Girl stays back and respects Frank as the boss. They chase the mouse around the house. I follow to watch and keep it out of Her bedroom. After a short time Frank gets bored and his attention drifts. Then Baby Girl killed it and ate it.

I wasn’t sure if she had really caught the mouse. And I am still not sure. It was Francesca who was the hunter. One time we found Francesca with a dead humming bird. Another time I had just pulled into the driveway. Both Baby Girl and Francesca were circling a small tree in the yard. Then I see they have something cornered. I think it was a mole. I’d just gotten off work so I went into the house. In a little while Baby Girl comes in with the mole in her mouth. She drops it in the middle of the living room and eats half. The other half sits for a while. At some point I am too grossed out to leave it. I pick it up and throw it away.

But then Francesca comes into the house. There was a cat door going out to the garage. This is how the cats got in and out. Francesca came through the cat door and went to the spot where the mole had been. She smells around. You can tell she is looking for the mole. After a minute Baby Girl starts through the cat door. Francesca looks at her, and Baby Girl sees Francesca. In a moment Francesca dashes toward her and Baby Girl has taken flight. I get the feeling Baby Girl may have stolen her prey.

While I was at the house Taz died. She had been old and unhealthy. We had a small service for her in the backyard. Frank came out with us and sat next to the small grave. It is hard to know if cats are aware. But I think they know when a friend has gone. Taz and Baby Girl used to be close. They would sleep together and Baby Girl would groom Taz. But Baby Girl wouldn’t leave the house. She stood by a window inside and watched.

When it came time for us to move my friend wasn’t able to take Baby Girl. “You take her,” she suggested, “she likes you.” And it was a good idea. Sure I started to love the cats as a way of loving my friend. But Baby Girl had won my heart. She has always been a sweet and gentle cat. Of course taking her meant I needed supplies. One of the luckiest things I found was a litter box. Yeah, you can get a litter box at any store. But this one is special. I got it from a thrift store which supported the animal shelter. It looks like a plastic igloo. It is large for a litter box and round. I knew it was perfect for Baby Girl because it was covered.

At my friends the litter boxes were in the garage. And Baby Girl has always been a modest kitty. If you walked into the garage while she was using the box, she would run outside. I knew she would like having the privacy of a covered box. What I hadn’t thought about was how much a cover would keep litter inside. When she digs, she really digs deep sometimes and roughly. My friend thought Baby Girl was going outside her box. But this has never been the case since she has been with me. The boxes in the garage weren’t covered. There were piles of litter with some droppings outside the box. These show Baby Girl is a very neat cat. And the litter was no doubt thrown out of the box while she was digging. Frank on the other hand once used the liter box while I was talking to someone right next to it.

Years ago I read a book of odd poetry. It was written by a woman, and some were for a man. The message of a couple amounted to, my dog still loves you but I don’t. In a way I felt like if I loved Her cats and they love me – so would She. But it didn’t work. But I am happy to have found Baby Girl. She has been a good friend to me the years we have been together. And I fear the day I will lose her. I have no reason to believe it will be soon. She still likes to sleep on the bed with me, and keep me company during the day.

Borders

There were so many borders. He crossed the Sierra’s and ran out of gas. Down the backside he coasted. Then hours later it was the state line. An ocean of desert to be crossed. More mountains and miles and miles of road. But those were borders.

The real border was the front door. The end of the drive way. The day he told her he was moving. The real border came weeks before as he accepted the job. The far away job. Or the day he applied, wanting to be far away from her. The borders were crossed in his heart. Many times, and many times he came back. Would he return to her love again?

The cat slept on his lap as he drove. The radio playing a Lucy Kaplansky song about the road. Clearly she had also done travel at night. Her magical voice was holding him tonight. The music was a hug. The cat slept peacefully at last in the car. But it wasn’t an easy start for her. She cried and cried and cried. Like he wanted to cry and cry and cry. Maybe they both missed her. And all these years later he wonders if Baby Girl misses her like he does, at night, alone.

But maybe no being could miss another in the same way.

Years before he lived in Yosemite. When not crossing the high mountain trails he wrote. So much sad poetry and prose. So many long and pointless hours of cutting his own wrist with a pen. Bleeding onto the page, onto the screen. Into the snow, cold and unwatched. But he crossed a border in the park. It was the place where he learned to let M go. He moved beyond. And beyond he remained until he returned from Wyoming. And then borders were crossed again. There was no on in his heart for him for so long. Now she had crossed into his love.

Nevada is a land of barren beauty. A place unique and magical in a sparse way. Maybe one day he’ll live in a hermit shack off a dirt road in Eureka. Not the left-leaning town on the California coast. The dusty town hanging to the side of a mountain in Nevada. He passed through the town on this trip. And later trips. But tonight it was just a moment on the road. How many moments on our roads we pass through blindly. But for someone else the moment is dear. The moment lasts in memory. The touch lingers like a kiss on wet lips.

How many borders did he cross driving in the night. And in the heat of the next day. His heart had for so long been barren like the desert. Empty, uncrossed by human love. At least this is how it felt to him at times. But she was there like a dream. A well in the middle of the vast plain. Driving he crossed state lines. He crossed county lines and city lines. And each line was a step further from the one he couldn’t cross away from tonight.

Even after the granite valley of Yosemite. The strange orange land of south Utah. Through the dark of night and the heat of day. In Utah the temperature drove the cat to seek a place to hide. And she didn’t mind being wet for once. Like he was learning the lessons of having a wet heart. But he could never find a place to hide. The heat was so strong between them at one moment. It burned like the sun on his alabaster heart. And now he was peeling. One of his borders was slipping away into dust around him.

Maybe it didn’t have to be this way. Maybe it couldn’t be any other way. A voice inside told him to turn back. Cross back to safety. The comfort of her heart. But the clear sad truth was this border couldn’t be crossed anymore. He could cross Nevada. And later even crossed it in a snow storm. But the storms and the cold winds of live were driving them now. And each on a different current. The land he drove across was once at the bottom of the sea. In a time which feels so far away now. But years from now, across other borders so will today. The feelings, the journey, the borders crossed. It will fade as a memory. But she will never fade.

Humboldt Journalism

I spent two and a half years at Humboldt. Starting in the fall and ending in the fall. Looking back now there is so much I have forgot. And so many people I remember. I am still close to many of my fellow students. Most of those in the journalism program. But I connected with a lot of other people at college.

In my first semester I met a great teacher. She is¬†Marcy Burstiner. My first class with her was on media. But it wasn’t from the inside. But an outside look at media. It was more about media theory. Marshall McLuhan and his ideas of media were taught. But I wasn’t supposed to be in the class. It wasn’t a class for journalism students. Marcy told me this later in the class. But it was fun.

It is the journalism classes I recall the most. The first publication I worked on was The Osprey. The student magazine. For this class we each had an article. Humboldt is a liberal campus. My topic was other ideas on campus. What was it like to not be a liberal. Conservatives are rare on many campuses. So, how do they feel? It is a topic I choose because I am not liberal. Maybe not conservative either. I was going through a change on campus. Becoming more center right then I used to be.

I remember my editor. In my mind she was so hot. But she was also friendly and helpful. The class met like others at school. We would get together discuss the magazine and work on stories. Towards the end of the class we started layout. Students did it all from start to finish. They even sold ads. But most only had one story in the magazine. And not everyone did the same share of work. It was a good introduction to the process. The next step was the student paper. Unlike the Osprey it was put out each week.

My first time on The Lumberjack was fun. My editor is one of the coolest people I know. But there are few stories I recall from the first year. But there are two which made an impact on me.

One was about a local woman’s business. To be honest I had known her before. And thought she was interesting. And cute. So, when I wanted to do a story about her. It was also about getting to know her better. The story went well, and we are still friends. Her business was designing clothes. But she is a deeply creative and fun person.

The other story was kind of a lark. It was a wet day like many in Humboldt. My mood was down and I felt like I was not doing well with the paper. I’d gone to a local art event and was walking around. A local non-profit was at part of the event. CASA, is about helping kids. It stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. What they do is provide someone to speak for children in court. Many of the kids are in families with problems. Some are abused. But in some cases the parents are ending a marriage. The group speaks for the kids.

I talked to them for a few moments. Then I went home. It wasn’t until later I thought of a story. It may have been one of my better stories. I contacted the group. They were interested. It was a hard story is some ways. Not just the topic, but getting information wasn’t easy. But I talked to volunteers. And I even talked to a former child of the program. It was a cover story and set the tone of an issue. It also got me the attention of a soon to be editor.

The next semester on the paper I was the managing editor. A role I wasn’t sure of at first. There were many questions. Could I perform the job was one. But what was the job was another. The editor-in-chief said she liked my CASA story. But also how I had gone out and got the story. This was a fun time for me on the paper. And in some ways the height of my career as a journalist. I had spent the summer in town. And got to know some of the campus power players. As much as you can call them power players. They saw themselves as being power players. But also I got involved in the issues of campus a little. The politics of student government.

I found out about the job before the summer. And over the summer I put some work into creating a work flow process. One change I brought to the paper was using Google Docs. I was a Google Fan Boy for sure. But it made the whole process easier. It meant copies were not emailed around. Then edited and emailed around more. There was one copy and everyone could access it.

One issue I covered was the structure of some campus bodies. At the time few seemed to understand. And I tried to make it clear. Which wasn’t always a success. But in the process I came to know many of the staff with authority. One person I recall was Paul Mann. The media contact for the school. And I remember one time in his office. He was on the phone with someone and told them, “I have to go I’m with a reporter.” He could have just said he was with a student. It made me feel good. But I also went around Paul at times. Because as the media contact, it seemed he didn’t know much at times. So I would go and talk directly to other people on campus. A practice I found out later was discouraged. But it worked for me. And people seemed comfortable talking to me.

One of the first stories of the semester I wrote with my editor-in-chief. We interviewed the University President. He was a person hated by some on campus. Not just by students who disagreed with him. But there was also a split among the staff. While I could see why people would dis-like him. From my view he cared about students. And he wanted the best for the campus.

But there were many fun stories I did for the paper. A couple big names came to campus. And I got to talk to a few of them on the phone. Tegan and Sara was an example. And I got a free CD, and went to the show. It was a great show. And if I hadn’t been a fan before. I would have been after. But I also talked to a member of Cowboy Junkies. A band I still love. Like Tegan and Sara I was a fan before.

It was a busy semester for me. Besides working on The Lumberjack I was involved in a website for travel stories. And I was the Editor-in-Chief of the alumni newsletter. It was a productive time for me. I was working, going to class, involved on campus. This meant I was busy most of the time. But I had no social life. Which was okay. I also didn’t have time for depression. Except over the summers which were hard times for me.

But my proudest moment from college was the debate. The town of Arcata was having an election. And many students were bound to be voters. So I worked with each of the six candidates and the student radio station to set up a debate on campus. Due to previous problems one of the campus had banned one of the candidates. But with the help of a friend, a judge allowed him on campus for the debate. I remember asking a friend to meet the man. And to make sure police didn’t try to block his access. The debate itself was a success. And I got to know people in the community. Before the debate I talked to all six. And I put together a small story on each of them. I am sure this helped me later.

Leaving Humboldt I felt better about my career than I have since. I had worked online, in print and done video. I felt sure about where I was going. And sure about my life choice. But my first job changed a lot, and not in a good way.

What I haven’t talked about is the other people from Humboldt. And I guess I’ll need a new chapter. Because there was a lot of them. This is when I first met Simone. But I didn’t get to know her until later.

A Room to Write exercise on Death

You know you will die one day. Well, we don’t always know do we? It is something we think of as far away.
Do babies know about death. When did I first think about death? When I was very young I drank some water with poison. It didn’t hurt me, but I remember thinking it could kill me. And I didn’t care. I feel like I have wanted death as much as feared it. Of course it is one thing to say you want to die, when the chances are you won’t. And another when the chance is high you will.

Do you ever think about killing yourself? It is the mental health question everyone asks. I’ve always thought about killing myself. And I still do. I’d thought like Sylvia Plath I would do it one day. Not for any reason but being bored. And tired of thinking about killing myself.

I’ll be crossing a bridge. Walking along a cliff. And in a moment, I’ll be gone. Why? Why not? I’ve told people a simple story a couple times. A wise man wants something written on a ring. It should make him happy when sad and sad when happy. The answer is: this too shall pass. Nothing lasts and nothing changes. We come from dust and if you’re ready to go back to dust. Why not?

Okay, put your phone down. I’m not going to answer any crazy calls. And given this had been in my mind for almost 35 years, chances are I won’t die. Soon.

And I wonder, about death. This whole piece isn’t at all what I planned to write. It was an exercise from Room to Write. I was going to imagine my own death. But then I starting typing and I knew I already had.

High school was rough, and I didn’t kill myself. Being homeless was rough and I didn’t kill myself. I’ve been through a lot and I haven’t done myself in. I even read The Bell Jar twice, and Girl Interrupted twice. And I didn’t kill myself. Though I still love Plath’s logic. My favorite painter is Van Gogh.

When you read this is must sound dark. But tonight I don’t feel dark. There have been nights when I wanted to sleep and never awaken. Once I took sleeping pills to make it happen. But they didn’t work. Another time I bought alcohol and sleeping pills to try it again. But I changed my mind. One more day, one more day, one more day. But one day I’ll give up on tomorrow.

They say when people really want to die, they don’t pontificate about death. I guess the fact I’ve written so much points away from my desire to die. There have been times I’ve felt my life was in danger. And I took steps to be safe. But some of those events were the result of poor choices. Like drinking water with a cleaning toxin. Choices I made not wanting to die. But not caring. I wonder at the last moment, if I had to choose. What would it be.

But we don’t get a choice. Our brains are not wired to give us the choice to live or die in the moment. When you are faced with a risk – your brain takes over and keeps you safe. I’ve felt this was the case for me before.

And I guess it is a matter of how I would die. Shooting oneself can be so messy and unsure. What if you don’t blow off enough of your head? What, oh yeah, a gross thought to be sure. But there you are thinking about how good your life was when you could move. How good things were when you weren’t bathed by someone else.

And if you jump. How high is high enough? Maybe it would be really scary as the ground races towards you. Do you really want to die in a state of terror. Sure, when you are at the top. And you see the view. The wind is in your hair. Things feel good and the choice feels right. But on the way down fear takes over doesn’t it?

Pills. Which pills? And you know if you don’t take enough they lock you up. They say, tut tut poor guy. They take away your knives and your belts. You’d probably lose your job. No one around you would ever see you the same way again. You’d be the one who tried to kill themselves. And no one wants to be that person. Because I think people would express concern. And people would be friendly. But they would also push you away. Because they would feel guilty and they wouldn’t want to be close if you tried it again.

Right, so I couldn’t cut my wrists. I’m weak when it comes to pain. And I know it isn’t quick. This not being quick holds the same trouble as pills. Someone could find you and stop you. And to be honest if I ever were to kill myself I wouldn’t want someone to find me. I wouldn’t want to scar someone else.

And yes I would feel bad about people left behind. But really when I am depressed I don’t think anyone would care. A voice in my head just tells me no one would even notice. What about my job? Of course they would notice. But is work the only thing worth living for in this world? Not for me.

There have been times I cut myself off to see if people would notice. I think to myself, if I died who would notice and when? But I use Facebook all the time now. Of course there was a period when most of my posts were preprogrammed quotes. I programmed them out months in advance. I guess being alone is what makes me most feel like going down into the basement forever.

But I know the voice is wrong. There is a better part of myself which knows people care. Yes, even people at work. They would care about not just my not working, but about me. And there is family – not close and far away. There are a few good friends in my life. I fail at being a friend to them, Simone, but they still love me. There are probably more people than I know who are touched by me. Not in the It’s A Wonderful Life sort of way. But in an ongoing way.

See, things are looking up. Right now my mood is good. Of course the scary part of all this is mood. The sun comes out and dries the rain. Life is full of green grass and flowers. But then the storm rolls over the hills. The little spider falls down the water spout. Life is cold, wet and dirty again. And tomorrow isn’t worth waking up for.

Okay, I’ll go to sleep now and you go to sleep later. And really, don’t call me tomorrow. Well, you can Simone.

When I think of you…

When I think of you I feel guilty. I treat you poorly. There is a bitter part of myself which wants to be mean to you, and is often and persistently.

When I think of you I feel lonely. I miss you. I miss the river, the walks, the French, the food, the house, the cats, the reading, the talking, the being friends. I miss you like I miss food. I miss you like I miss the things from my childhood. I miss you like a home, though I’ve never had one. I miss you and I miss you often and persistently.

When I think of you I feel bad for being a jerk. I ignore you calls. I don’t call you back. At times I think you should just give up on being my friend. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day you did. Or maybe you already have. I am a jerk because I feel so many things, and the relationship you seem to want isn’t deep enough to express them. But I am a jerk, because I choose to be. And I don’t know why but I choose to be a jerk often and persistently.

When I think of you I feel like your better off without my Melrose Place drama in your life. I wonder if it isn’t better for both of us to not engage in the emotional turmoil we seem to get sucked into when we connect. And when we don’t connect, but only talk I feel like I am bleeding in the street and everyone is driving by, without stopping. I feel like I hurt you more though contact, than through my absence. I doubt you need a friend like me, I doubt that often and persistently.

When I think of you, I think I still love you. You’re like a part of me, you feel so close. Even when we haven’t spoken for so long, I feel like I could call you and it wouldn’t matter. But it does. I love you because you make me want to be a better person. I just love you for who you are, and who I want to be with you. It isn’t just the Ayn Rand books, it isn’t just a shared love of learning. It is more and more than all the words I could write. It is your sap I love. I really love you often and persistently.

When I think of you I feel like a failure. No, not in terms of our relationship – for which I have to much hope for still to feel like a failure. No, my life. I feel like I want to have a career, to be a person you could be proud to know. The person you thought I was when we were in college together. The person you thought I was when we were together. A person who doesn’t live in a cheap rented room, alone with a cat. A person who doesn’t have a low-pay job, he could have done without the college degree for which he isn’t paying his loans. A person who can and does pay his loans. I want to be John Galt, so you could be my love. I feel like a failure when I don’t think of you too though. I feel like a failure often and persistently.

When I think of you I worry about you. I guess I worry about your career, but you are smarter than I – even though I once said different. I worry about your health. I feel like Forest Gump who would drop everything to run to you and care for Jenny in her illness. I want you to be well. I don’t want to worry about your health. I feel like a bad friend because I don’t know if you are well. Even if you wanted me to, I wouldn’t even know to come to you. In a silly way, I worry about your relationships – just because I there is still a part of me confident enough to believe no one loves you as much as I. When I think of you I worry about you, I worry about you often and persistently.

There are so many things which make me think of you. The cat. Bunny. Some days just the news itself makes me think of you. So many things I see on Facebook. Politics. Donald Trump. Listening to the CDs you gave me (of which I have cloned). I think of you at night, I think of you at work. I think of you in this world which is haunted by you. When I feel alone I think of you the most. When I think of you I feel alone the most. I think of you often and persistently.

Can you see why I don’t try to connect with you more? Where are my sleeping pills? Where is bunny? I need some ice cream and sleep right now.