Cat People, Dog People, and Me

Most people know me as a dog person. This does not mean that I hate cats; it’s just that I find their aggressive non-commitment to me very disturbing. That and they always abuse my kindness. My aunt owns (or rather puts up with) a large Persian cat. In the hallway outside the guestroom there was a dresser, atop which was placed a dish for cat food, and every morning he would sit in front of it and meow mournfully. My heart ached for him, so I filled his dish, and he seemed pleased. The next morning he was sitting on the dresser again, so I filled his dish again, but he wouldn’t eat it. Not knowing what else to do, I petted him for a while, and he began to eat. Stupidly, I thought that might put an end to it. For the rest of my stay he expected me to pet him while he ate his kibble. I suppose he thought his duty to give me some employment.

Don't be fooled! Behind that adorable facade is a being of pure malevolence.

Don’t be fooled! Behind that adorable facade is a being of pure malevolence.

My husband loves cats. Accordingly, his appreciation for dogs is unmistakably negative. He respects the callousness of cat but I can’t quite abide it. Dogs never withhold their love. Well, except for my parents pugapoo, who I suspect was raised with cats before we adopted her. She never wags her tail unless she is about to something. She hides in dark places and springs out of nowhere just to wrap her legs around your ankle and sink her teeth into your tender flesh. She treats my room as though it were her own private den; when we give her a treat, she runs off to my room but without even taking the treat, as if to say, “I’ll take it in my study.”

Obviously, not all dogs are sweet, adorable things. It is for this reason that I consider myself less of a dog person and more of a spaniel person. In 2008 I adopted one from a local shelter and she has proven to be one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known. I would even say she is the sweetest dog.

My adorable little Spunkles.

My adorable little Spunkles.

I decided to call her Spunky, after the dog in Rocko’s Modern Life, and she more than lives up the name. The people at the shelter told me she was a very vocal dog and indeed she was when she was at the shelter but ever since we brought her home she has been surprisingly quiet. She’s very playful and very affectionate, loves to run around my parents’ large back yard and chasing toys.

She’s very friendly with other people but she tends to ignore most other dogs. When a friend and I took our dogs to a local park, Spunky hardly seemed to notice my friend’s golden retriever. This may have been partly due to a language barrier because my friend and her boyfriend use only German commands with their dog and Spunky uses English commands.

The one exception to Spunky’s standoffish attitude towards other dogs are spaniels. Whenever she sees another spaniel she never fails to take an interest. One of our neighbors once had a spaniel and frequently allowed it to lounge out on the front lawn. Spunky never missed an opportunity to see her little friend on our weekly perambulations. That fact that the other spaniel no longer appears to reside there (after all, we have seen it in many a moon) has not discouraged her from peering into the yard in hopes of seeing it again.

She also likes cats very much but cats don’t really like her. Once, while we were on a walk, she caught the scent of one. She sniffed around eagerly in search of it and found it sitting on the wall framing the yard we were passing. The wall was only about a foot tall, so she was almost face-to-face with it. The cat immediately batted her noise and ran off into the yard. Since then Spunky has had several opportunities to make contact with the various elusive felines that treat our back yard as though it were their own but has as yet had no success.

My husband does not share my love for Spaniels and openly mocks my dear Spunky. It’s not that his remarks are incorrect. She is very stupidly happy and will affectionately love anything that moves. This is why my husband and I have concluded that Spaniels will love anyone, no matter how good or loathsome they may be. If they couldn’t, how else could a man like Richard Nixon have a spaniel named Checkers! Still, while this might seem like a fault to some, it is a quality worthy of the highest praise to me. She is the perfect embodiment of unconditional love. Cat’s are a different matter. They regard their owners with lordly disdain and are only too eager to bite the hand that feeds it … and that’s if you’re lucky! They adore doling out bodily harm with malicious playfulness. It hardly matters whether you deserved it or not. In fact, I rather suspect that cat lovers have a masochistic streak in them. It certainly seems true about my husband’s relationship with his childhood cat. Even it has long since passed on, it’s memory stills haunts his dreams.

When my husband and I have our own place, we plan to adopt a cat at some point, provided of course that my husband become the primary caregiver for it. I can find a few redeeming factors in cats but cleaning their litter box is not one of them. Besides, I will likely be able to take my dear Spunky with me and she will offset much of the horror of cat ownerships with her sweet, loving, affectionate, adorable self.

Futons Aren’t Forever

I didn’t believe my aunt when she told me that futons are a phase … but, having now used one for seven years, I can wholeheartedly concur with her opinion.

It’s not as if they aren’t useful–in fact, the dual purpose as sofa and bed are quite useful. It’s just that one has to convert it manually and it’s just one of those things one might describe as “easier said than done.” It’s not like I did not have ample warning, not only from my aunt but from the agonied demonstrations of the sales clerk who sold it to me. Perhaps it was because she was petite and I am decidedly not petite but I resolutely believed I would not struggle with it as much as she did.

Nevertheless, I’m not against the futon–but in the future I will use it primarily as a sofa and force my future house guests (and possibly my husband) to the torments of its coily mattress.

Wright’s Curious Public Image

fllw_archives_18This photograph of Frank Lloyd Wright is very unusual. Wright did not smoke. He didn’t even drink until his late life.

There is a wonderful apocryphal story about Wright’s dislike for smoking.

Ayn Rand was a great admirer of his and sent a copy of The Fountainhead  to him for his enjoyment. He never actually read it and instead displaced the responsibility to one of his students. Eventually, a meeting was arranged.

When Rand met Wright at Taliesin East, she was wearing a new dress she had bought just for the occasion. She also smoked to excess and this bothered Wright so much that he tore the cigarette from her mouth and threw into a nearby hearth, where it was consumed by fire.

I imagine Rand was titillated by the experienced but I doubt Wright felt the same way. When she likened his architecture to Le Corbusier, she instantaneously lost his approval. (THE AFFRONT!!!)

Until that moment, Wright had tolerated smoking at Taliesin East, but decided to ban it from thence onward.

Like Edison, Wright was a shameless self-promoter and carefully cultivated the persona he wanted the public to see and, ultimately, admire, Smoking simply was a part of that image and Wright apparently did not mind betraying his personal beliefs for success.

Stripping: A Much Misunderstood Thing

It may sound rather taboo to say this but I have recently taken up stripping.

Get it? Stripping ... linoleum.

Get it? Stripping … linoleum.

Actually, I find it rather apPEALing, if you know what I mean.

Hopefully, the reader will excuse my dreadful punning and find some consolation in the fact that I use up most of my puns on my husband as a test audience.

Ever since my parents bought their current house in 2008, we been busy gradually fixing this and that. Stripping the linoleum off my bedroom floor is one of the ways I’m trying to help my parents out with the repairs. Unfortunately, in the last four years, college has intervened and made it more difficult for me to complete the task–but finally, at long last, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Most of that ugly stuff is gone and the original wood floors are looking pretty good. The only other problem is getting the dried glue residue off. So far the best method is sanding but that can be very exhausting. Totally worth it though!

In the last three years we’ve managed to, as Quentin Crisp might have said, riddle our home with standards of living. When our water heating broke, sending hot water flooding into my closet and damaging some of the hardwood flooring, we had to go four or six months without hot water. The doom that came to our water heater had some something awful to the hot water pipes as well! Fortunately, we live in southern California and this catastrophe occurred during the spring and summer. We had the plumbing totally renovated the following fall and just in time before cold showers would have been just unbearable

We  have also had a few broken window replaced, the wiring complete redone, and central heating and cooling installed. Although the house once had radiators, they were gone by the time we arrived, and no other systems were every incorporated. I have spent several unbearable summers in this house because of it. Ironically, I’m currently in the process of gradually moving in with my in-laws (I much prefer the word invasion), so I won’t have as many opportunities to enjoy the cool air. My in-laws have central heating and cooling but it use is a rather controversial subject between my mother- and father-in-law. Well, unless my young niece is present and then it goes on.

C’est la vie, I suppose!

The Simple Joys of Maidenhood

My androgynous appearance has a funny way of bringing out the worst in some people. Ever since I came out during my senior year of high school and began dressing flamboyantly (or wearing dresses, make-up, etc.), I have frequently encounter harassment from strangers. For the most part, I can cope with it–as I have very supportive friends and family–but I must confess that it does rather get to me, especially when it occurs frequently or when the threats are violent or made by groups of persons. Humor has often been my coping mechanism and it is with a humorous perspective that I see many of the encounters I have had, with special exception to the violent threats I have received.

*  *  *

A while ago I crossed paths with two young boys who live in my neighborhood. I was on my way to a grocery store when the older of the two called after me, “You look like a guy.” I turned around and replied, “That’s because I am one.” The other boy, in a smart tone, said, “But you’re wearing a purse?!” I replied, with a grin and a flourish of the hand, “That’s because I like it.” Their curiosity seemed to be satisfied and I went on my way.

I have found that my ambiguous appearance (I think my sex is dead obvious but, then again, I have insider information) brings out a peculiar and frequently embarrassing side of people. They gawk, comment, and talk behind my back. It has been a long time since I have felt ashamed, humiliated, or intimidated by these incidents, largely because most of these people apparently have no talent for public ridicule.

When I was active on public social networking websites (you-know-where) I would receive nasty insults by private message. One writer compared my appearance to Michael Jackson’s but I fail to recognize the resemblance. After all, I have a larger nose.

Others have called out to me from their moving cars, rendering their intended insults rather weak and inaudible. It is very difficult to feel threatened or even insulted when my offender comes and goes in a flash. On one occasion a Spanish-speaking woman called out, “puta,” a word which means “whore.” I’m not sure why she assumed I would know the language but she is fortunate that I at least knew that one; otherwise her message would have gone nearly unnoticed and possibly misunderstood as mad ravings.

Those who have chosen to speak behind my back, oftentimes on the bus, attempt to discuss my sex covertly. They lean in to each other and whisper, making a scene of themselves as they attempt swift glances back at me or as they pass me in the aisle. It amazes me how much people will say as long as they think they are unheard. My partner has given stern looks to several bus gawkers and talkers. One woman even approached me after taking a series of photographs of me with her camera phone (I would have said something if I had only known for certain that she was photographing me) and asked me if I had any tampons. I politely responded with an informative, “No.”

There was even one occasion where I was insulted directly over the phone. A man who messaged me online gave me his phone number. Curious, I decided to give him a call and when he answered all that he said was, “Don’t call me again you fucking fag.” I did as he bid me, which was fine by me anyway, and proceeded to write his number on bathroom stall walls whenever the opportunity arose. Nowadays I would never do this but at the time it amused me immensely.

Still, of all the perplexed people I have encountered, those I find the funniest are those men who look bewildered when they see me leaving the men’s restroom and have to check the door again before they can enter with their senses intact. Attendants at Ross have consistently called after me as I casually enter the men’s fitting room, frantically informing me that I am going the wrong way. I am not at all upset by this and will gladly use the women’s facilities but it can become a bit annoying being frequently told I don’t know where I am going.