Travel

How To Get Two Cats in a Single Carrier with a Minimal Amount of Blood

Friday morning, the day after a celebration of thanks known as Bronxgiving, I boarded a plane at LaGuardia carrying two cats in a bag. 

This was no small feat, my friends.

I never would have made it to the airport without losing my mind or committing a felony if it weren't for my girl Reebs who got her ass up before 7 a.m. and took the 1 train all the way to Times Square to help me wrangle two kittens into a single carrier. Even with four hands between the two of us, that shit wasn't easy.

It became quickly apparent that we'd need to bag the cats in the bathroom. Unfortunately, Goat caught on quickly that he was about to be corralled, so he did what any smart cat would do, he shrunk under the couch and hid.

And there he stayed. I tried treats and pleading, then demanding that he come out, but no dice. The clock was tearing off loud ticks reminding me that the airplane would leave without us, so Reebs and I did what anyone would do: we picked up the couch and shook the cat out.

Poor Goat, who had never been shaken from a couch in his life, tumbled from between the fabric and the frame and began sprinting hard in whatever direction he was pointed. Unfortunately for him, that was right at the refrigerator. He ran head first into the freezer door, bounced off, then looked at me with one eye half open, dazed, like, "Why?!?!?"

That's when Reebs made the mistake of looking at me and asking, "Are you okay?" Which, of course, made me lose it.

I started crying and blubbering, and Reebs did what all good friends do, and told me to shut it up.

"You can't do this right now! You can't! You have to hold it together! The more you freak out, the more the cats are going to freak out!"

She was right, but I just felt so guilty. I was moving and making the cats come with me, despite cats really, really liking where they are already. 

Still, she was right, and the clock continued to count down, and so we went back to it, trying to get Goat into the bathroom. Apparently a cat concussion makes that easier, and on the next try we were all four in the bathroom.

However, the bathroom is not the SWA-approved cat carrier, and so the daunting task of getting two cats in a single bag still loomed. Reebs held open the carrier while I picked up the girl cat and tried placing her into the bag, but she had all four legs extended, along with her claws, and with a single body thrust she was out of my arms, and I was bleeding profusely from a crease in my palm.

Again with the waterworks. I was stressed and sweaty and crying and bleeding, and basically repeating to the animals as if they understood, "You have to go in the bag. You have to go in the bag."

Sheer force and determination saved the day, and finally, both cats sat defeated, pissed off and silent in their cross-country crate.

So, this post goes out to Reebs, without whom, I would be a shredded, bloody heap on the floor of a New York studio apartment. Love you, BigPimpinNoG31.


The Screaming Baby

There was nothing I could do. The baby was screaming, and there was nothing I could do.

The plane was full. That is because flights into Newark had been canceled for days due to a record breaking blizzard in the northeast. It was my third attempt to fly home. I had been stranded in Nashville for four days longer then anticipated.

I was ready to get home.

I settled into my seat, pulled out the inflatable neck pillow and fired up a digital version of my friend Betsy's book, City of Ghosts. That is when the screaming began.

= Many infants cry on airplanes, and it is always a bother. They start to whine and you steel yourself for noise, because you are, after all, in a tin can with no way of escape.

But this was not crying. This was screaming. Raw, unbridled, diaphragmatic screaming that only babies can accomplish. Piercing, incessant, teeth-hurting screaming. And there was nothing I could do.

It wasn't my baby. It was someone else's baby, and it was being set on fire. At least, he thought. Unhappy is too gentle a word. This child thought he was dying.

It went on for an hour. Sixty minutes. A long fucking time.

Just when I thought the baby had worn himself into sure slumber the screams would begin again. I started to understand why parents might consider drugging an infant.

At first I was empathetic to the poor mother who was sushing her child as quietly as possible, but eventually I got up and went to the lavatory solely for the purpose of shooting this kid's mom a dirty look. Not my proudest moment but I had no headphones and so was literally sticking my fingers in my ears.

The screaming was all I could focus on. I tried meditating, being present and deep breathing to calm myself. It didn't work due to the screaming.

Finally, blessedly, before I jumped out the emergency door and ended it all, he stopped. He slept. The baby had stopped screaming.

And after a long sigh the next thing I heard was an overly earnest Nashville man who discussed the finer points of the Baptist Church the entire remainder of the flight.


Already

Just before I left the house to catch the bus I went to get a straw for my road smoothie and pulled the entire drawer and all its contents loudly onto the kitchen floor. I have zero doubt my downstairs neighbor will file a complaint with the building management.

The 38-L and I met at a very opportunistic time, and I boarded a very, very crowded bus. I stomped out a spot with my giant overnight bag looped over my head and grabbed a bar. It was going to be a bumpy ride.

At Presidio a man in a truck drove alongside the heaving bus, a cat in his lap. At first I thought I had been mistaken, but no. That was a cat. Sitting in the driver's lap, its head out the window, whipping around, taking in all the sights.

"That is a cat in that person's lap."

I had to say it aloud.

A blonde girl with round cheeks did not look at me, but said, "That is a cat in that person's lap."

"I just had to say it out loud," I repeated verbally.

"I used to live in San Diego and there a man would ride his bike along the beach with a cat just CLINGING to his back. The cat always looked miserable, but it was out there every day."

I imagine the cat was indeed miserable.

At Divisadero more people climbed on at each entrance, the bus swelling with riders.

"I am not going anywhere until that back door is closed," said an exasperated driver. "I will sit here all day."

Someone's mom, no doubt, started barking orders. "Move up, move back, move up, move back," until the doors finally closed. "Cool!," she shouted, once the bus lurched forward.

An old man coughed and spit on the floor.


This Is The Way

The sound of rain beating down onto the panels of a tent anchored outdoors in an open field is what I awoke to. I set the sound on my phone before falling asleep, a preventative move to drown out the human noise all around me.

Smoothie in a pink-rimmed mug pierced by a hot pink straw. Breakfast in a glass and out the door.

Juggled wallet and umbrella and pink berry sludge in the rain while waiting for the right bus to take me away. I was last aboard due to the wrestling of items.

The up and down game of "Is He Old Enough to Give Up my Seat" was played. I lost.

A woman stood stoically in a going out silky, tight skirt. She wore going out makeup, three shades of shadow and slick lips and fake lashes.

A young man with blonde stubble in a NY ballcap in the colors blue and orange. I couldn't tell if he likes the Mets or the Yankees. Probably not both.

The driver screeched at the next stop for us all to move to the back! No one budged. She barked her orders to push back yet again, when riders responded, "No room!"

"I can see room," she said.

"For how many people?," someone shouted back. Not wanting to quibble semantics, she drives onward.

Two women could not get bus window open. They grunted and pushed and pulled, and nothing.

The cupcake place was dark.

A man carried reused manilla envelopes with little strings tied around little discs, a closing tactic I like very much.

Puma, Jack Spade, Timbuk2, Jansport in my face. Bags are big business in San Francisco. They carry your everything.

Relief at 3rd and Market as the suited people climbed off in waves. I sat in wet for the last two block.


Just to Get There

Thursday night my boyfriend and I went to a free open mic night at the San Francisco Comedy Club downtown. We wanted to get from near the waterfront to Union Square, so he set out on foot. I knew it would be a long hike, so I suggested we take the F line down Market to the cable car turnaround.

We boarded what I think was #1050, grabbed the handrails and waited. The driver, before taking off, popped from her seat to quiet a crying infant. "What is the matter with you, huh?," the female driver addressed the baby.

The entire car got quiet.

"What is your problem, huh? Hush it up! Okay?"

Her voice was stern, but not unkind. Tourists laughed and applauded the driver. The baby blinked back at the woman without a sound.

Soon enough the car lurched forward.

Streetlights and people flashed like strobes outside the smudged windows. I rocked forward and felt Ian's chest on mine.

More people got on, so we slid further to the back. A couple of travelers with shopping bags got up, giving up a pair of seats near a passed out man who didn't even move with breath. We took them.

"I like riding the F with you," my boyfriend leaned over to tell me.

"It's romantic," we both said at exactly the same time.


Where I'm At

I'm in Nashville. It's the first time I've been back since I left. And it's so very strange.

The air conditioning is odd to me now, and the overwhelming number of white people jumps out at me. I'm confused as to why everything is so spread out, why we drove 25 miles from one shopping center to another that looked exactly--and I do mean exactly--like the first one. With almost all the same stores. All the neighborhoods pretty much look the same; I haven't seen red brick homes with columns in front for a while.

People seem to move a little slower than I remember them moving. And the number of baseball caps here in Tennessee, worn by women and men alike, is astonishing. People are kinder, at least outwardly. The syrupy Southern drawls are as plodding and charming as always.

I've noticed I've become much more direct in my conversations with people, especially family. The way Southern people, especially ladies, tip toe around what they want with their words has become an annoying attribute I now mostly eschew. My frank comments to my mother and sister about various things has left them each slack-jawed at least once.

The rolling hills and buttermilk biscuits and late afternoon showers are all like warm hugs from long unseen old friends. The lack of diversity, however, is striking. Moving to California has been 9 months of constant blur, and being back has been just about the same. Everything old is new again, and I'm relearning Tennessee's curves like I've returned to a former lover. It's been exhilerating and a little unnerving, but I'm glad for the experience.

Have to admit, though, despite that it happened while listening to crickets, when I saw photos of San Francisco on my Flickr stream just now, my heart whispered "home."


Best Cabbie Ever

This week I went for drinks with Ian and Peder during happy hour at Kennedy's Irish Pub and Curry House, a strange amalgamation of bar and restaurant with some seriously sketchy decor. But they have $2 Guinness pints, when they remember to chill the keg, plus two-for-one drafts til 7 or so, makes the trek all the way up Columbus worth it. Following several beers and some deep fried foods, we hailed a subsidized cab, paid for by one of two of my companions, Peder.

We asked him to take us to Bernal Heights, and off he went. Peder asked our driver, who had a super thick Caribbean Islander-type accent, if he had any paper receipts. The man said that he did, then laughed a hearty laugh. He asked if Peder's company was paying, and when he learned that he did he began talking at a break neck pace about his experiences behind the wheel.

"That reminds me of this man I used to drive, who would call me up regularly. His company paid for everything. He would let me fill in whatever I wanted for the amount. This was back during the dot-com time, when they had all the money and no sense. That is why they are no longer in business. He would call me and I would pick up him and his girlfriend. I would drive her to her office. He would get out of the car, all nice in his suit, and kiss her before she left. Then he'd get back in the cab, change his clothes, and ask me to drive him to the Castro where he would meet up with different guys. He did this all the time. I never could quite believe it."

What came next was an assortment of tales so terrific, so hilarious, that I'm sorry I couldn't better understand the man through his accent. He regaled us with stories of drug dealers, who asked him to drive them to Stockton, the town not the street, and how they arrived with 2 briefcases, and after they left the house "after talking to some guys," they'd return to the vehicle with a single, different briefcase. He said he never asked any questions.

"You can't be arrested for something like that, can you?," I asked the driver, who was moving toward our destination quickly, but not as fast as he was talking.

"Oh, yes. Oh, yes. There was once a cab driver who had a man ask him to take him to the bank. He did, and the guy went in then came right out saying they wouldn't cash his check. He then asked him to take him to a Bank of America. He did, and the customer came out with the same story. So, he drove him to a Washingston Mutual. While he was waiting for the man to come out of there, the police pulled up on him, gun drawn, telling him to, 'Put his hands on the wheel!' The driver had no idea what was going on. It turns out the man was robbing each bank, then taking the cab to the next one."

We all sat dumbfounded. Some guy hailed a cab then proceeded to rob banks and use it as his getaway car? This was not your average taxi driver chit chat.

He told us also about a very rich patron who spent the entire day in his cab, going from Golden Gate Park to the Haight to North Beach and then out to the ocean. He spent hours in the car taking a driven tour of the city. At the beach our driver stopped, meter running, so his guest and his friends could dine at The Cliffhouse.

"You hungry?," asked Mr. Money Bags. "You want to eat?"

"If you are paying I want to eat," replied our cabbie, and with that he was whisked away for a fabulous meal on his patron. But not before locking the door, making sure the meter was still ticking away.

He finished out our ride by answering my, "Does anyone ever do drugs in your car?" question with, "Oh yes. Rock and weed, whatever. People who smoke rock are the best tippers."

He dropped us at the top of Bernal Heights, just feet from the doorstep. Peder got his receipt, no doubt cabbie got a great tip, and with that he drove away from us, off down the hill.

"What is your name?!," I called after him. "Will I ever see you again?" But it was too late. Best cabbie ever had gone, off on another adventure.