Monday, April 29, 2013

I have a new cat. It’s a long story.

My aunt Gail - we called her Gaggie - was a funny lady. She was a free spirit, she did things her own way. She died two weeks ago.  At her funeral,  a teenager reading a tribute to her called her “sarcastic,” which is cool, because Gaggie would have taken that as a compliment. I mean, she let us call her Gaggie until she died at age 58. You need a sense of humor to survive in my family, and Gaggie was always able to laugh at the shit life threw her.  She had breast cancer, which she survived twice but lost the third time around.

I think the best tribute I can make to Gaggie is to tell a funny story. And people - this is a mother of a story.

Gail had a cat called Charlie. When no one would take the cat after she died, I stupidly volunteered to do it. Grief makes you do strange things.

After the service, after Gail’s house was cleaned out, and after 3 long days with bored and non-time-adjusted kids in a small hotel room, we picked the cat up from her house and headed to the airport. My kids were BESIDE THEMSELVES. There was basically nothing in the world more exciting that (a) getting a new pet and (b) taking it on an AIRPLANE. It was like all of their kid fantasies came true at once. It was Christmas and Easter and Thomas the Train and Hello Kitty and Candy all wrapped up in one delicious, tactile package that would be poked and cooed over in its little nylon cage all the way to the airport. My kids were FUCKING EXCITED. Got it?

I asked my other aunt to get a health certificate and a sedative for the cat so I could take it on the plane. The vet left a printed letter instructing us to give the cat BENADRYL before the “stressful event.” Seriously, fucking Benadryl? How do you dose a cat with Benadryl? Isn’t cat medicine supposed to be meat flavored and come with a dropper? The only liquid benadryl comes in bubble gum flavor for kids. I hear cats love that. Also, it comes in a 4 oz. bottle. This is important later in the story.

At the airport, my son told everyone and anyone who would listen that this is his NEW CAT CHARLIE, who used to belong to GAGGIE, who DIED, and who will NEVER SEE CHARLIE AGAIN. This was both hilarious and maudlin, but did not provoke the sympathy that I was hoping for from TSA. I would like you to picture this scene at the screening line:

2 adults
2 kids - JACKED UP on new pet fun
1 carseat
6 carry-on bags (one stuffed with shit from Gaggie’s house).
1 CAT in a carrier
1 “medical liquid.” Remember the Benadryl?
Did you know that in order to bring an animal on the plane, you have to put the carrier through the x-ray machine? That’s right. TSA told me to take A CAT OUT OF ITS CAGE and plz hold while they scanned the bag. I said “You’re kidding, right? You know this is a cat? It’s not even my cat? What if this cat gets loose? Are you really being serious right now?”

“Well, ma’am, if the cat is going to hurt someone or something, then I guess we could take you to a private room for a screening.”

“Yes, please. Let’s do that.”

TSA escorted me to a closet containing a filing cabinet and some leftover trays for the scanners. I pulled the cat out and plopped it in a tray. I secretly prayed for it to take a shit in this tray. Then I wondered if they would need to scan the shit to look for explosive material or condoms full of coke. The cat was totally cool with this, by the way. It actually started purring.

They sent a TSA lady in to watch me. She stared at me like I had three heads. I said to her “You’re not a cat person, are you?”

TSA Number 2 came back and pronounced the carrier clean. I packed kitty back in her bag and off we went to the gate. Because we were anticipating this shit show, we were very early for our flight, which meant more time for my kids to go off the rails and make everyone waiting to board the flight hate us ON SIGHT.

Then it was time to drug Charlie. My kids were climbing over themselves and pushing each other out of the way to help. Brandon held them back with one hand and tried to hold the cat’s head still with the other. I measured out a double dose of Benadryl - you know the cat will puke out half - and poured it down Charlie’s throat. He immediately started to hork it up and FOAM AT THE MOUTH. JUST LIKE OLD YELLER. All the while making rabid gargling noises. I could see people pulling out their phones and start texting. The kids were now even MORE EXCITED.

“Oh shit! I poisoned the cat! We haven’t even gotten the fucking thing on the airplane yet and I killed it!” I said to Brandon - who was already on his phone Googling “foaming at the mouth” and calling for baby wipes to clean the cat foam puke off his hands. Turns out this is a normal reaction for cats when they eat something they don’t like, so - PHEW. Cat is not poisoned. Of course, this meant I still had to carry the cat on the plane.  So basically, it was a draw.

After my kids gobbled up Burger King, including extra juice and cookies from the BK cashier (THANKS LADY. It’s not like I’m getting on an airplane with them or anything), ran a few laps, pulled each other’s hair and screamed “THAT’S MY PAPER MASK” at top volume a couple of times, our section was called to board.

Ready for the punchline? We were in First Class. That means we brought two children and a cat into the tiny, shitty, First Class cabin of an MD90. People were already pissed that they wasted miles for this shitty, shitty first class experience, but now THEY HAD THREE MORE REASONS to be pissed. Also? Remember the word shitty. It’s important later.

60 seconds after boarding Nolan touched his feet to the seat in front of him and ignited the rage of the aging hipster in the seat. She immediately got on her iphone to text other aging hipsters about how much her life sucked now that she must endure a flight with a child behind her in FIRST CLASS. That’s when I made the decision to place Charlie - who I was certain would shit and puke about 30 seconds into takeoff - directly under her seat. I told Nolan I was doing it for him, and I would  move the cat if he was bad on the plane. Two birds killed with one stone - I’m a pro, y’all.

Lots of whining, two bags of gummy bears, and soothing engine noise later, my kids fell asleep (this is because I drugged them, by the way*).  I myself popped an Ativan and called for a Chardonnay as soon as we heard the double dings. (Which you really have to listen for on an MD 90, by the way. Those planes are FUCKING LOUD. That’s good, of course, because it obscured the noise of the cat meowing and, most likely, puking, its way up to cruising altitude.)

So, 45 minutes in, I felt pretty good. Like things were under control - the kids were asleep, I was high and rereading the same paragraph in Games of Thrones Book 4 over and over again, and it seemed like I might have dodged a bullet. Now is the part where you should remember the word “shitty.” That was foreshadowing, friend.

I perked up from my pleasant fog just after hot towel service was underway because something smelled FOUL. I turned my head slowly - partly because I was drugged and partly because I knew this is the end for us - toward Brandon. My husband made a very unpleasant face. “What is that smell?” I stage whispered to him (MD-90, remember?) and he said “I think it’s the cat.”

“Noooo” I said. I was in denial. “It’s the bathrooms on this plane. They are disgusting.”

“Noooo.” says Blong. “It’s the cat. It’s coming from over here.”

SHIT. I was still in denial. We had 3 more hours on this plane, and the entire cabin might revolt and send us to the back, hogtied with those plastic handcuff things. Was it too late for them to throw the cat in the cargo hold? SHIT.

Now I said to  Blong - “Imma check the bathroom. I bet it’s the bathroom.” Sure enough, it was disgusting. Not just normal, run of the mill, 30 year old Russian aircraft disgusting**, but extra foul. There was actually shit all over the toilet. I heaved a sigh of relief - it wasn’t Charlie. It was the revolting bathroom. I could just use the one in the back, and we’re all good. Cat had not crapped his cage yet.

I returned to my seat, confident. I leaned over to Brandon and said conspiratorially, “We’re cool. It’s the bathroom. It’s DISGUSTING. I think we can smell it 4 rows away.”

Brandon looked at me and shook his head. “No, actually, it’s not the bathroom. The gentleman in the first row had an accident.” He said this like he was telling me that someone broke a teacup or choked on a Werther’s or something. When, in actuality, what he was telling me was that THE OLD MAN IN THE BULKHEAD ROW SHAT HIMSELF. Which, in actuality, is WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.

Pause for a moment, people. Consider my state of mind. Take a walk over to the dark side with me and check it:  I was relieved. It wasn’t THE CAT. I was home free! Someone was shitting in his pants in First Class! I WAS NO LONGER THE WORST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO THIS PLANE!

But of course I wasn’t going to admit that out loud. “Oh my God- “ I said to Brandon. “That is terrible! That poor man!”

But. Let’s be honest, no one is going to give a shit about that cat anymore.”

And ain’t that the truth, sister. That poor man shat himself 4 more times as the flight went on. Flight attendants were flapping around like hens on crack pouring coffee grounds all over the shit in the galley, wrapping the man in extra blankets, and patting his poor wife on the shoulder while rolling their eyes in sheer dramatic glory to the rest of us. They pulled the curtain shut with a flourish and announced that the FIRST CLASS CABIN WAS CLOSED.

I was so high on relief (and Ativan and Chardonnay), that I offered the wife baby wipes and a diaper. She looked at me in horror and shook her head. I mean, WHAT? We’re way beyond it, lady - your husband just shat himself all over the faux leather seats of this beautiful, early model air transport vehicle. You know they’re gonna throw up their hands and retire this bird after today, right? Now take a Pampers.

My kids slept the rest of the way. The aging hipster consoled the wife of the old man. The flight attendant told me he forgot all about my cat and my kids and was only thinking about the huge drink he was going to pour himself after his shift. After touchdown, my very excited children woke up, rubbed their eyes, and said “Mommy, what’s that smell?” while EMS rushed the poor man off the plane. We cruised off the plane and went home, where my kids almost lost the cat less than 24 hours after we got it by leaving the back door open.

But the moral of the story is - Thank God for Charlie. This cat gave me a real reason to laugh and think of my Aunt as I want to remember her. Nolan and Charlie are already best friends. They sit in my office - the DMZ until the other animals get used to him - and watch YouTube videos on the rolling chair. Nolan pets Charlie, Charlie purrs. It makes me so happy that I could cry.

And to the poor man on the plane - Thank God for you, Sir. I know that what you went through was awful and humiliating. I know it super duper sucked to be you yesterday, but you made my freaking day. My hat is off to you. I hope you recovered and got some good drugs and some clean pants.  Hit me up if you want a link to your Amazon affiliate page or whatever so you can make some money off of this disaster.

And finally, I love you Gaggie, and I miss you terribly. I hope Charlie has a great life here with two kids who only torture him half of the time, and that he is happy.

*Melatonin gummy bears. Get THAT SHIT.

** My husband informs me that the MD-90 is not Russian. Whatever. You could have fooled me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

On this weekend's shooting. Ugh.

I've been reading the commentary on the horrible shooting of Representative Gifford, The Hon. John Roll, and many others.

Here are some posts from folks I read regularly to give some perspective.

Andy Love's at Fair and Unbalanced: Tragic and Inevitable

Above the Law's Elie Mystal: Sarah Palin doesn't kill people. Guns, on the other hand. . .

Popehat: "Tragedy Generates Stupidity"

This is a divisive issue. The vitriol on all sides is incredible. Pro-gun advocates are "gun nuts" and Opponents are "anti-gun nuts." Seriously. This is the status of the popular debate over gun regulation. I am an admin on the Justia Facebook page, and we get commentary from all over country on this stuff--I am not making this up.

It's true we need to take the politics out of this issue, at least as the main focus. Obviously the shooter was seriously mentally ill, and not motivated by a coherent political ideology. However, I will say this: Republicans, what does it say about the rhetoric of your party and your media supporters that the immediate, gut reaction of the American public* was "Holy shit someone finally took Sarah Palin seriously and shot a Democrat" ? Do you see this? To me, it says we were all expecting something like this to happen. That is a problem, and you need to fucking do something about it.

On the gun issue, I think I'm what you might call a moderate (or, in crazy time parlance, a gun apologist). I actually do support the right of citizens to own handguns and rifles. Not semi-automatic weapons. Up to a limited number. Once they pass stringent background checks. With regular re-licensing requirements. I'm a Californian: I say regulate the shit out of it.
The fact that the shooter legally had a gun means that something is wrong with the law, and unless you think schizophrenics should own semi-automatic weapons, then you should support a change in that law.

You know what else you should support? Care for the mentally ill. I don't know who was looking out for this guy, but he was kicked out of school for erratic behavior, is believed to be schizophrenic, and was in desperate need of intervention and care. We need something like, I don't know, national health care reform to get people like this off the street and the treatment they require. Think about this. Seriously, before opening your mouth to flap your jaw about socialism, think for a moment. How did the shooter get to this place? Did this kid have primary care? Did he have someone to turn to when he heard voices? Did his parents have support to help him? Do you think that increased governmental regulation would have been worth the cost of these and future victims' lives? I know--I just used a tragedy to push my own agenda. I just can't find another way around this issue except to say that it's about mental illness, and social services and health care are the only two avenues that I know of to help with this.

Oy. Sorry for the ranty post, I'm just so disturbed by what happened--but I'm increasingly more disturbed by the commentary
in its wake. I'm open to thoughts and criticism. Hit me up.

*based on proven statistical accuracy of Facebook and Twitter feeds. In my defense, I was watching the Twitter stream on Google, not just my followers

Just added: Today's post on Jezebel, focusing on treatment for mental illness--nicely written

Friday, December 17, 2010

Got Geeks to Buy For?

Ideas! [BLONG: stop right here and go back to Reddit]

BoingBoing's Gift Guide

I09 Gift Guide

Weather Station -- Geeks love to contribute data -- and obviously Wunderground is an awesome site

Wardrobe refresh a la Einstein (what, your geek wears more than orange, blue, and green t-shirts?)

Wikipedia Support

Finally, don't forget to check their Amazon Wish List :) Please add ideas in the comments! Um, unless your geek partner also reads this blog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Signed, the Reluctant Hippie

Friends. It has come to my attention that I am slowly, but surely, turning into a hippie.

Facts in Evidence:

*I recently got so desperate to keep healthy that I started taking Chinese Herbs (not working).

*I ordered a CSA Produce Box, which delivers local farm produce to my door twice a month. Wait--which am I, an elitist or a hippie?

*I made bath salts for people for Xmas. With recycled (from my fridge) jars. What's that--Hippies don't buy Vlasic pickles from Safeway? Shut up and take your bath.

*I am coming online to blog in the first time in over a year to tell you all about a recipe for KALE CHIPS. I know! You just spit your beer out. But--keep an open mind (hippie!)!

Let me ask you this: Do you like brussels sprouts? Roasted, crunchy, caramelized brussels sprouts with lots of salt? OK then, you will like kale chips, because that's what they taste like. Yeah, yeah, it sounds like something moms from Marin with kids named after Jazz greats feed their kids in lieu of Cheetos. And I will admit that I only made them because I have a shitload of kale from aforementioned farm box, and you can only make so many soups with it. But--they really are good so I wanted to share this with you great people.

So please, enjoy responsibly and laugh if you will, but remember that it's San Francisco. I'm surrounded by the most progressive people in the country, and I'm practically a Reaganite here. I voted for Sit Lie, after all.

Also, I'm back to blogging. You can also follow me at the Justia Blog, where I post every Friday about lawyer stuff.

[Image credit: Brookfield Farm Crops, where you can find other delicious Kale recipes]

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fire Chief Blake to the Rescue

Ok, this was just too cute not to post. Here is Nolan's friend Blake helping SFFD put out a cab fire [you read that right--the cab in the photo was actually on fire]. As you can see, Blake was prepared with his helmet and rushed to the scene to aid this nice fireman. I credit Lots and Lots of Fire Trucks. TV doesn't cause autism--it creates a hero complex!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

This Old House Part 2

My parents are about to undertake another remodel, 1 block away from their last project. My dad is blogging about it, so you can follow along at This Old House Part 2. Come on, it's always fun to watch people's lives go to hell as their house is torn up and put back together! I predict that Penny from the Park will have a full blown valium habit a week after demolition starts. Stay tuned!