My Cat Got Out in San Jose

My cat got out in San Jose. Monkee and I were visiting my sisters for Christmas and I went to bed thinking he’d curled up somewhere and was dreaming of catching flies and scratching up the couch. The last I saw him he was chilling on the couch while my brother and I were screaming at each other about Donald Trump, but when I looked for him in the morning he was nowhere to be seen, vanished through the doggy door.

We looked up and down the block, talked to the neighbors, called his name. The whole neighborhood knew who Monkee was now and was also looking for him.

I was hopeful he’d come back that night when he got hungry. But he’s not a big cat and my sister lives near the hills and the wild predators that also call it home. He had a collar around him. The neighborhood was canvassed with fliers. We left his liter box out so he could detect his scent. His name and picture was posted on local websites. Surely we’d find him shortly. We better, I quietly thought to myself.

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The first full night he didn’t come home, I was surprised. I thought he’d be hungry by dinner for sure.

The second night I worried he had gotten himself stuck somewhere, like somebody’s garage or a shed. Or that half-filled, weed-infested drainage ditch behind my sister’s house.

The third night, my sister mentioned the size of the owls and hawks that live in her area. I began to picture my sweet, rebellious little furball being grabbed and swooped terrifyingly up into the night sky.

The fourth night I had begun to come to terms with the idea that my little buddy might never return and was possibly a victim of a food chain he had no concept of, one that I’d brought him into.

The fifth night I tried to think about other things. The next day was New Years Eve and life must go on. I wasn’t ready to start giving up, but it was starting to look like I had no choice.

Then he walked back through my sister’s doggy door. We all wondered where he had gone, what he had been up to. This is what he told us…

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While you guys were all yelling back and forth and making all that racket I decided to step out and get some fresh air. As you were aware, I had discovered how to use that flap on the door the dog uses to get in and out. I had merely intended to saunter around outside and smell a few things, I swear, when this thing I had never seen before came hovering over me.

Just what I feared, a hawk!

He continued…

I know what you’re thinking and it was certainly not a hawk. It was made of metal and had lights on it. This was something man-made and therefore infinitely more dangerous. It gave me quite the start, so I took off over the fence and onto the golf course. I would never have left the yard if this thing didn’t tweak my survival mode. This thing continued to follow me and I could hear its whirling blades and feel its wind on my fur. I ran and climbed a tree where I watched this thing crash into the branches just above me.

A large human came out of one of the nearby yards and began yelling out a smaller human whom I assumed was his offspring. The smaller human mentioned a cat so my hair stood up real straight, like a porcupine. The father ignored his son, thankfully, and lectured him, instead, about the price of his machine. His face was as red as the bottom of my butt in the morning. Since he was more concerned with his machine that was stuck, I bolted for cover in a large fern that looked like the hair of that guy on the cartoon you’re always watching. The one with all the yellow people.

Anyway… There I waited for the man to get his awful machine and go.

By now the moon was a giant glowing thing and lit up the golf course like nothing I’ve ever seen; and I tell ya, it was something magical. Enchanting.  I’m not an easily impressed cat, but the light on the dewy grass and the twinkling of stars and the bugs hopping everywhere made me feel like I’d stumbled upon some kind of heaven.

That’s when I decided to spend the night out…

I figured I’d get back in before you woke up. I know how it is when I see you clinking those bottles. It was going to be a late morning. 

I walked around for hours. Everywhere I went there were crickets and grasshoppers to chase. I got to stalk all these insects popping up out of the grass. There were yards to explore, trees to climb, stars to dream to…

And you weren’t there to tell me not to jump on anything!

At this I felt guilty.

I was free and it felt so wonderful. I finally felt like myself, you know. Like a real cat.

His eyes got dreamy like when he lets me scratch his belly. I could never feel more guilty than I did right then.

I slept in a contraption that had three wheels with a bunch of dirt left in it Outside, under the stars.  Al fresco I think you call it. 

When I woke up a very odd thing happened. It started raining from the ground up! I had never seen anything like it. Once the rain reached a certain height it fell back down in every direction. I was getting drenched, and I do not like getting my body wet as you know from bath time.

I got out of there. Fast! In my haste I ran for a nearby house, to one of those big doors that swing up. In my panic I narrowly swerved out of the way of one of those machines you guys get into everyday. Cars? I swear my tail was inches from being squashed. Boy, I aimed for a corner of the room and hid myself behind some boxes as fast as I could.

Slowly the room began to dim until it was entirely black. The giant door was shut and I was locked in there! My heart was leaping out of my chest like a frog in a slippery swamp. What was I going to do? I needed to get back before you woke up!

I stayed in my hiding place until I calmed down and my eyes adjusted. There was nothing I could do until the human came back with his car. This was not my fault, I swear.

Once I felt it was safe, I figured I might as well explore. I jumped up on the boxes and pried open the lid with my paw. My curiosity was in overdrive. There was so many new things to look at in the world!  I might as well make the most of being stuck out in it.

The box was filled with these shiny objects that looked like miniature humans doing things like throwing balls and running and holding their hands in the air with gloves on, and even one where the tiny golden human looked like he was swimming.

They were all engraved with the same name on the base. Odd little things. A little creepy to keep these in a box.

In another box were all these photographs and in a lot of them were the same people. A few of the people in the pictures were very old and I got an uncomfortable feeling in my fur so I hopped out of there. 

In the last box was a pile of magazines. On the covers there were women offering their nipples as if they were expecting to breast feed. It was nice and warm in there so I decided to take a little nap on all those magazines and their warm breasts.

It was many hours until that door rose again and I could escape. I almost ran right into that car again because it was so quiet. You know those ones that look like little stones and sneak along so silently. I caught a glimpse of the driver this time and he had a skinny face with a mustache that curled up on each side. He is probably the one that keeps those little golden men trapped in a box. The sick fuck!

It was dark out and I went back to the house but when I got there the lights were out so I figured you guys were already asleep. What’s another night then?

You know me, I have an independent streak… anyway, the most incredible thing happened to me that night. From across the golf course I saw two other kitties just like me playing in the sand pit so I ran over to join in the fun. When I got there I was shocked to see they weren’t like me at all. They said that they were brothers and that they were pups, fox pups, but they said I could play with them so I chased after one of the brothers while the other one chased after me and we took turns running all around that part of the course where the grass is smooth and there’s a flag planted in a hole. It was the most fun.

But then without warning I felt myself being yanked into the air by the loose skin on my neck and try as I did I couldn’t break free, this creature was much bigger than me. At any second its teeth could plunge into my flesh and rip me to pieces. I squirmed and squealed but it was no use.

Just when I thought I was goner, my new friends came over and begged their mother to put me down. She told them about what it takes to survive and that I was a cat, and they were foxes, but they both looked at her with such sweet eyes while explaining that I was lost and had nowhere to sleep and that I was a really cool cat — they all laughed at that, though I don’t know why — that she put me down and shook her head disapprovingly at her pups, but told me I could sleep in their den and to keep up!

After she had trotted ahead, they explained that it had been three nights since they’d last seen their other brother so she might be a little sensitive. They asked me not to hold it against their mother, that she was a good fox and was only trying to teach them how to be a good fox too. I guess I knew what they meant.

We left the golf course and crept up a narrow trail into the hills. I tried to imitate their springy style of jogging while crouching low. It was fun being a fox. Their tails were bushy and long and I made up a game of trying to run underneath their tails without them noticing. At one point, though, one of the brothers caught on to what I was doing and brought his tail down on me so forcefully I tumbled to the ground and almost fell over the edge of the cliff.  It was so funny, We curled up and laughed so hard. We totally lost it! It was great. We got in trouble, though. The mother fox came back and yelped at us to quit clowning around! I felt bad and slunk after them a little embarrassed.

When we got to their den — which was basically just a hole in the ground, if you ask me — the brothers ran in first but I stopped in front of the mother and rubbed my body against her so she knew how grateful I was and she picked me up by the loose skin on my neck, but this time I was completely calm letting her carry me into the den like that, like one of her pups.

That night I slept right in the middle of them. It reminded me of when I was just a little kitten and slept in a cardboard box with my brothers and sisters. All of our breathing was in synch and our bodies rose and fell together. I don’t think I ever purred as loudly as when I fell asleep in that den. 

But the next morning the foxes were gone! After I woke up and stretched — I can’t do anything without stretching first — I looked around for them, but they were nowhere to be seen. Even worse, I had no idea where I was.

I climbed to the tallest part of the hill and then up into a tree to get a good view of the area. I figured if I could find the golf course I had a good shot of making my way back to the house. I looked and looked but didn’t see anything, my senses were telling me to head straight down the hill but when I looked to where the sun was rising I saw one of those little flags sticking out of the ground.

At this point I was starving and craving some of that delicious wet food you’re so stingy with… Come on! Imagine if every time you wanted pizza somebody insisted on mixing in kale and spinach? Yuck!

He was right? What was my deal with dry food? Was I just an asshole for no good reason? Alright, I told him. Wet food from now on. He gave me a cold stare and licked his lips I swear he was imagining killing me right then.

Sometimes I wonder if you’re an asshole to me for no good reason? What would you do if I make you chase a fucking laser around. You think I like that? I know you’re just waving it around, but I got to catch it, it’s something deep in my bones. You wouldn’t understand. But guess what? I can never fucking catch it! Hahaha… so funny!

Anyway, my point is, I was thinking with my stomach and not my natural sense of direction, because I ran for that flag as fast I’d ever run. Boy, you should’ve seen me flying!

When I reached what I thought was the golf course, it was something else entirely. I mean, it was a golf course, but the holes were much closer together, the grass was fake and spiky, there was a windmill that was spinning around blocking balls from entering its little drawbridge and people were eating all sorts of sweet-smelling treats.

It was the strangest thing, I tell ya, but no place for a cat, I’d discover when I went chasing one of the balls and not only did a kid chase me with a club, but I ran straight into the mouth of a mechanical dragon. Why you humans enjoy such nightmarish past times I’ll never know. 

Only once that stupid kid with the club smacked another ball into the dragon’s mouth and it popped out some other hole was I able to escape. I didn’t stop running until I cleared that fever dream of a playland you humans conspired.

Well, I ran into even more trouble. I found myself in a terrible building with all these humans grinning and swinging bags around. It was lit like the exam room at the vet’s. People were pushing their way into lines and exchanging dirty paper in their pockets for more bags, and children were crying in sweaters that still smelled new. I hated it.

Different people tried to pick me up but I was having none of it. It wasn’t easy swerving through those groups of people and avoid getting kicked because the ground was this slippery, shiny surface that had me losing my legs from under me left and right. People were hollering, ‘There’s a cat in the mall!’ Which only made me run faster.

After I had lost the mob and was able to slow down I could explore a little more carefully. It was then that I came upon a shocking sight that made me cower behind a trash can in horror.

There were these beautiful dogs and cats in cages, and they were all screaming desperately for somebody to take them home and love them. The people had no idea what these animals were saying. They giggled to themselves while tapping on the glass and taunting them with waves and kisses. The poor animals suffered from terrible broken hearts.

There was a spunky Italian Greyhound that saw me watching them. ‘Please,’ the bitch begged. ‘Won’t you help us?” 

I asked what I could do, but the greyhound was distracted by a woman in a scarf that was wrapped around her neck like an anaconda. She had black wire glasses and a big handbag made of the skin of a snake. What did she want with this dog? I was horrified for the greyhound.

Once the greyhound was in her arms she whisked her away before I ask what I could do to help.

The cages were too high for me to reach and if I was caught in there, they’d trap ME in a cage. I was helpless and had to watch this horror from across the walkway.  

He paused to let the gravity of the pet store sink in and we took a moment of silence to honor that. His words touched us all.

I tell ya, I gained a newfound appreciation for the life I have in Los Angeles.

He blinked his eyes and I knew he meant it. He continued his fascinating story.

The truly fiendish design of this place, led me farther into it instead of toward freedom. In the middle of this labyrinth, the heart of this slaughterhouse, was a clearing where packs of humans were devouring piles of unimaginable foods. I saw meat on sticks and cones balancing scoops of creamy confection.

I slipped under some tables until I found a few sticks of fried potatoes to eat. It was disgusting, so greasy and salty I could barely swallow it down, but I had no choice. Above me I heard a woman screaming at her kids to put their phones down and their whimpering protests echo into the chattering ether.

I knew the world wasn’t built for a cat, but it wasn’t really made for humans either, I was learning.

I eventually found the exit after what felt like days dodging feet and strollers. I was able to gorge enough on the spilled debris from you humans to last for another day or so.

Once I escaped into daylight I thought my troubles were over. What I was learning from this little adventure, though, is that trouble in this world is inexhaustible. For I must have been in a less desirable part of town because I ran into another cat that was a few moons older than me, that had to live on the street, and he was no lap cat!

I thought he was going to maul me for sure.  He hissed at me like he was going to attack, but then I think he realized I wasn’t a threat because he soon relaxed his back and came around for a sniff.

He told me he’d show me the ropes and took me to an alley with these giant metal boxes on wheels. He hopped in and began rooting through trash bags like a lowly scavenger. I told him I was more than willing to hunt for my food, but this was unacceptable.

He laughed at me. ‘Do you think I love this? Do you think I want to live like this? It’s the city, kitty. Better get used to it.’

What did you do? I asked.

I refused. I told him I had just ate.

And what did he do?

He didn’t answer. I thought he was ignoring me but then he jumped out of the garbage with two of the tastiest looking fish I’d seen in my life. He said it was anchovies from a pizza or something, I don’t know, my stomach was growling too loud for me to hear anything.

I thought you were full? I asked.

Are you kidding? These were anchovies! I pounced on it and gulped it down in two or three bites! You know in Ancient Egypt they considered cats to be gods?

I looked at him and waited, but it seemed he had forgotten his point.

By now I really needed a nap. 

What was this cat’s name? I asked.

He’s a stray, he doesn’t have a name.

I asked, How do you know who you’re talking to? Monkee turned his head sideways and gave me such a pitying look I questioned my own sanity. There’s probably as much about his world that I don’t know that he doesn’t know about mine. If my sisters weren’t standing there listening to all this with me I’d never believe his tale.

I woke up from my nap and it was already bedtime. That night was worst night of them all. As you know, on the third night it rained.

He gave me such a cold look the points of my fingers tingled with electric shock. I saw in his eye a disappointment I don’t think I could ever erase. An acknowledgement of the fundamental dynamic in our relationship. One of owner and possession.

I was in a treeless part of town. There wasn’t anywhere to take shelter so I walked the bedraggled boulevard in a slow drip. On the windows people had scratched angry messages. Instead of the dewy grass there was broken glass reflecting orange street lamps that made a humming sound in the silence and shown the rain like long silver ribbons.

I didn’t think the people in this neighborhood had much of that paper in their pockets, and that is why everything was broken and sharp here. I’m starting to see why that stuff is so important to you humans.

In the window of one of those threatening little stores, were those magazines with the breastfeeding women on them. It reminded me of that garage I slept in at the start of this whole journey. It was starting to feel like I’d been lost forever and would never get found. I’d fear I’d end up without a name — like that other unwanted cat.

Monkeeeee!

Don’t Monkee me! I was getting soaked. You know I hate that. I was eating garbage. It was awful. I ended up sleeping under a Christmas tree that somebody had thrown out because it reminded me of the one here.

We looked in the living room where the Christmas tree still stood with all its ornaments and tinsel.

But it was not the same. Not since the day you carried me away from my brother and sister had I felt so desperate and doomed.

I remember the day well. I remember being so proud of myself for saving him. Now I felt like some kind of monster.

The next day would be entirely different however. I had no idea what I was in store for. You see, I decided to just find a busy street and walk along it. Surely somebody would stop for such a cute kitty walking down the street.

Monkee was an adorable cat.

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So I just cruised along a road I had no idea where it went. With every car that passed I felt more and more invisible. Every sinewy inch of flesh tingled with uncertainty. I knew my hair was a matted mess and I didn’t care. I was hungry again and lost and the world was just a loud, threatening place.

I wanted to get home.

I began to run. Something told me I had a lot of ground to cover. I went into full-borne sprint-mode. I don’t know why I was running, just that it was all I could think to do right then. I was out of my mind.

I ran into the road. I don’t know why. I was just a maniac. You’ve seen it, when my ears are tucked behind my ears and my pupils get all diamond-shaped and pulsing. I wasn’t trying to get hit, I just lost control. It was stupid.

I’ve been there.

I was aware I could get flattened by one of those cars at any second but I didn’t care. My state of mind was so frantic I just wanted something to come along and stop me.

Instead, I ended up stopping it. One of those little hippo cars. It was the same car that almost ran me over that first day out. I was saved! I couldn’t believe my luck when the driver got out and left his door open. This was my chance to get home.

I ran for the car and leaped in before the human could snatch me. Cars were honking at him, so he quickly climbed back in and turned on the wheel and drove us a few feet over to the curb. He stopped the car and turned around.

It wasn’t the man with the mustache. It was another man. This guy was younger looking, a little peach-colored in the face, and wearing a sweatshirt that unzipped in the front and could cover his head.

‘Well, hello there.’ He said. I meowed at him in a friendly, adorable way, because although I hate to stoop so low as to put on the cat charm, I was desperate and in need. ‘What am I going to do with you?’ He asked while scratching my ears.

I purred to complete the sale and he drove off.

We pulled up to magnificent iron gates that swung open for us. I was surprised that a man in such an ugly car owned such a large house, but I could tell he took pride in his humility because when people came up to help he shooed them off and carried me into the house himself.

Boy, was it impressive! Not only was it huge and there were endless rooms filled with all kinds of furniture to jump on and hide under, but there were amazing toys and gadgets that he and his employees were playing with. They kept yelling, ‘Mark, Mark,’ and would bring him new things to look at.

Everything in his house was controlled by a computer on the wall, including the heat which was kept at a very comfortable 71 degrees. I’m telling you, this man had it all, he certainly didn’t have a box of golden men hidden in his garage. They were kept on glass shelves perched above a roaring digital fire.

That night I ate the best food of my life. He had his chef make my dinner out of fish and carrots and potatoes. And I was allowed to eat it off a plate right there on the table. I could taste the freshness, the actual ingredients, not like all that junk in Friskees you unceremoniously lump into my bowl every night. 

I always thought he liked Friskees. He sure gets excited when I pull it out and starts weaving in between my legs with no regard to getting kicked. Like a little junky for the stuff! Monkee was being unfair if you ask me, but he ignored my frown and went on.

And I drank the best water, he poured it from a bottle, like a glass of wine. He even poured it into a wine glass. He said it came from Norway, which is a country I supposed. It was a different kind of cold. Like a deeper cold. It’s hard to explain if you never tasted it.

I hate it when Monkee humble-brags.

That night he took me into a room that looked like one big computer and put these wires into my head. I felt a tingling sensation in my scalp as this machine buzzed. Some of his employees were wearing these giant goggles over their eyes. They squealed that they really could feel what it was like to be a cat.

Oh, my god, Monkee. You’re the basis for Virtual Reality! Everybody in the world can walk around in your paws now. I laughed. What a lucky cat owner I am! You’ll be famous, in a way.

At this he shrugged and licked the padding on his paw.

So then what? I asked.

I took a nap of course! l’d been  up for a whole three hours! And the house was so comfortable and warm, I went out like a light. But when I woke, I started to miss L.A. again. 

Los Angeles? I asked. I knew he meant me, but wouldn’t say it.

Yes, I miss watching the cars from the apartment. I wanted to go home.

So I went looking for a doggy door when I noticed an opened window and hopped out. What a mistake! Two ferocious, unruly Rottweilers came snarling and barking after me. I took off at full sprint. Out in the open was this crazy machine like a giant version of that one from the golf course. Some weird instinct made me run straight for it.

Even though its wings were making a massive commotion I could hear Mark’s voice shout ‘Who let the dogs out?’ and other people laugh at that. I’ll never understand human humor, I tell you.

While everybody was trying to round up the dogs I jumped into that strange flying machine and hid under a seat. It was so loud in there it made me body shake.

All of a sudden I felt us rising into the air, like we were flying. My God, you know how I hate being picked up, and here I was being lifted into the sky in a thing I’d never seen before. I didn’t dare move.

We flew for a while and then I could feel us going down to the ground again. Mark got out and just like that we were heading up toward the clouds again. This time I got used to the movement and a little curious so I hopped onto the seat for a look.

It was amazing. I could see the houses and lakes and mountains and it all looked so small and organized. Like a toy that somebody put together. I never realized how much of everything there was.

We were all in a gentle awe listening to Monkee describe seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

There were people in black suits riding into waves into the sand and the way the sun reflected on the water made it look like a piece of the ocean was on fire. Just when I began to wonder if the sun was nothing but a ball of fire, the lady in the passenger seat turned around and noticed me for the first time and pointed me out.

‘We’re not allowed to carry pets in a helicopter,’ the guy flying this contraption said. The lady reached back to grab me. I swear she was going to throw me from the helicopter if she caught me, so I tore into a frenzy and threw my body everywhere and hissed and scratched wildly as I tornado-ed around that little clear bubble. She screamed and hollered and tried to swat me away. 

The guy flying yelled at her to be careful just before I leaped onto him and he fell forward on the little joystick thing and we started plunging toward a neon field of green.

I fought for my life while they battled this little joystick thing. Arms were flying and my claws were digging into flesh as the helicopter zigzagged and bobbled. Sky and ground somersaulted around. The screaming and the whirl of the helicopter become one physical blur of noise that seemed to be crushing the air around us. The women screamed we were going to die and I could tell that she thought that was a really bad thing.

At this point Monkee saw something in the corner of the room and his eyes followed it. It was a dust bunny being blown around by a fan. His pupils enlarged like a supernova as he prepared for chase. Monkee! I snapped my fingers. Then what happened? I asked him. His pupils settled  down again and he answered me.

I saw that we were just above the golf course and I jumped on that joystick so that the helicopter dropped onto the ground in a loud bang. She opened the door and on the way out I gave that bitch one last scratch.

We laughed. We were so relieved to have him back. Monkee’s so funny.

In the breeze I smelled my the sweet scent of my shit floating along like a long river, leading me back here. Thanks for the leaving the liter box out.

We were all in stunned silence by his story. He tilted his head and looked at me.

Nothing to say?

I looked down and smiled.

Meow?

It’s Not Jet Lag

Maybe it’s jet lag.

My sleeping is off and my appetite is haywire, but I don’t know…

I only spent ten days in Europe, but it seems this is not the same place I left.

Don’t get me wrong, I fled (vacationed) because of the election of Donald Trump. I bought the tickets the very next day because I needed to escape the reality for a spell. So shocked by my fellow American’s vote that I needed to step outside the environment to remind myself that another world exists. What I found was they are as equally obsessed and perplexed by this election as I was. What I’m saying is, I’m fully aware of the state we were in at the end of November.

But the reveal of Russia’s chicanery and Trump’s cabinet picks is shocking and potentially treasonous, it’s no wonder the discontent on our shores is now super-sized. The vitriol on both sides and desperation on the left who see their beloved country under siege creates a storm of negative energy that you feel on your skin. There’s little particles of every angry online comment board floating through the air, producing a blurry fog of outrage and derision.

I’ve never seen America act so strange and angry at itself.

So while I do implore both sides to behave more civilly, this is the situation. It is now not only confirmed that Trump intends to destroy the very institutions that make America what it is, but that he is able to do it with the help of Putin. This is a serious threat to our democracy.

It is hard not to be consumed with fight. With the desire to yell and scream that we’re not going to take it!

I can understand the anger. I feel it, no matter how far the Norwegian Airlines’  Dreamliner took me, I couldn’t get away from the slow horror of our detonating political system.

The idea that Putin took revenge on Clinton for calling him out for shady elections when she was Secretary of State directly leading to the appointment of an oil tycoon friendly with Putin to be Secretary of State is unquestionably a wearisome turn of events.

Whether you believe Putin had a hand in the election or not, Trump and Tillerson’s coziness with the Russian oligarch should cause concern for anybody not caught up in the Reality Star’s ego-driven political peep-show.

Think about it. Trump found the time to meet with Kanye West. A rapper currently on year 12 of a narcissistic mental breakdown of his own, who married a Reality Show Royal/Porn Star, who recently tweeted about being broke and begged to bailed out, who less then a month ago quit his tour mid-rant and was institutionalized for his own safety, and who, to my knowledge, has never done a damn thing to help anybody but himself. And I’m a fan. Trump, in some crazy universe only he wants to live in, penciled in tea time with his fellow megalomaniac at Trump Tower instead of focusing on preparing to run this country. It’s Donald’s world now, all about him, 240 years of American history be damned.

Swell.

This is it, folks, this is what we get.

This great country is in the hands of a conman putting on a show while he systematically disassembles the departments of governments that have gotten in his and his cronies’ way. He’s setting up his American Oligarch to mirror that of his buddy’s over in Moscow. So he waves to the camera next to an inexplicably and disturbingly blond-haired Kanye while his buddies are lighting matches to the Department of Education, Department of Labor, Department of Small Businesses, Department of Urban Housing, Department of Energy, and last but not least, the EPA…

And that last one really makes my head spin. Trump appointed a climate change skeptic to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

Holy shit.

It’s five in the morning and I’m awake now. I can’t stop reading about what is happening. Each article is one more midnight burglar rummaging through my diminishing store of hope.

I feel doomed, if not by Trump, then by the feeling of doom itself. The only thing we have to fear, right?

I don’t want it to get to me but nothing Trump has done as president-elect is giving me hope. It looks like we’re going to be in a fight to save our country as we know it.

I flew in yesterday to Oakland from Barcelona, with a long delay in London. Then today I drove down from the Bay, pass all those MAGA signs with the newly-glued ‘thank you’s’ smugly added to the corners on the 5. It was a reminder that this nightmare was really happening, and I couldn’t stay in Europe forever (and it’s not like they’re in great shape either).

It was also a reminder that we live in two different countries. The cities and the country. And somehow the billionaire Manhattan developer convinced the folks living in ‘flyover land’ that he cared about their jobs; even while he nominates a man who lustily dreams of robot workers replacing them to head the Department of Labor, they cheer this swindler on.

I lay down and doze for an hour and wake up. I feel wobbly, exhausted, but too nervous to sleep. Even though I’m no longer on a plane, I feel like we’re all going to crash. My eyelids are heavy but my mind won’t quit. It needs to feed on page views and shared outrage. I feel out of it on a profound level. Like the entire world has slipped into an another dimension where Truth and Logic and Decency have been forgotten. There’s a nihilistic impulse to give up gaining strength with each new deplorable development.

I don’t like what is happening to me either.

I don’t know, maybe it’s jet lag.

A Perfect Lover

There are names scratched in sidewalks I never noticed. Children’s chalk drawings that I stepped on. Flowers that smell like bottled-up tropical islands. The clouds, right before dusk, even take on a melon hue. There all these things I never knew existed until I saw you. The world changed for me that night. That night, through your slightly veiled windows, you on your couch with your laptop in your lap. Your bangs draped across your forehead. I’m in love with your forehead.

I can’t believe I’ve never seen you before.

And now I see you every night, though you never see me. And in this way, we have a kind of unique relationship. I look over you but don’t expect a thing. Isn’t that pretty romantic?

Most men want something.

Even though I can see that you’re alone, and that no man comes to visit, I’ve never once approached you. Even when you’re on your weekly Sunday afternoon supermarket run, I keep my distance. I respect your space.

Sometimes when I don’t see the light come on I wonder where you are, but then I’m reminded that mystery is the spice that keeps every relationship full of flavor. I can only imagine the mystery you’re not even aware of feeling not knowing I’m here.

If that makes sense? Because I’m sure you feel something. Even though you don’t see me, you must sense my loving presence.

You see, that first day I saw you on your couch, with your laptop in your lap, you were crying. I couldn’t tell what you were looking at, but I could see such longing and hurt in your swollen eyes that I fell in love a little with your misery.

You looked hurt and it was beautiful, in a way, not that you were hurt, but the feelings that arose in me. Total devotion. I felt a grace fill me up and it was like a balloon; and I knew that I was supposed to tie that grace balloon to you and keep you lifted off of this dirt. And that’s why I’m here watching over you.

Does that make sense?  Like, I loved all of you from the start, even the dark and damp and uncomfortable pieces. I wouldn’t say I wanted to wash your feet, because that is a little gross to be honest — but a little like Jesus, I wanted to adore you. That kind of thing.

And whatever little misery, or misery-maker, in your life, I wanted to conquer. I hated it. I wanted you strong again. Not teary-eyed and thinking of things that bring gloom to your angelic visage. I am not a violent man, but now that I had somebody to protect I felt a little like a warrior. It’s important to note I am a peaceful man.

But I’d rather tear out all the rose bushes than risk you being pricked by a thorn.

What would you do without me?

I love the way you read in your bed before going to sleep. All these books I’d never heard of before. The first time I touched your apartment was when I came by in the day, considerate of you being at work and not wanting to intrude while you were there, (always thinking of you), and I head to lift myself up on your windowsill to get a closer look at the titles…

The Alchemist…
The Writings of the Buddha…
She’s Come Undone…

You seemed like a woman who needs consistency in her life.

That’s why I’m here every night.

But tonight something different happened.

It was still early, maybe a little before midnight, when a car drove up and parked outside. I waited in my hiding place for whomever it was to scurry off but this person sat in their car for almost ten minutes.

I’m as patient as they come, obviously, but it was starting to bother me. What were they waiting for? The driver of the car could be seen, thanks to a streetlight that captured his pointy features with a sharp honesty. A nose that seemed to eject from his face. Lips that curled in a damaged way. His hair was crumpled and spiked with some kind of modern substance. I could tell the guy was nervous and that he kept looking at her apartment. I knew from taking the back route through the alley that she was in the shower.

What if this person was out to harm my angel?

Eventually the guy got out of his car and rang her doorbell. His jeans were dark and slim and his button down shirt was the type guys with desk jobs wear for interviews. He reached in his pocket and leaned his body at a curve in order to wiggle out the object he was struggling with. I tried to figure out what he had in there. I normally wouldn’t be so brazen but I stood up out of the bush to get a better look, just in case I would have to apprehend the guy single-handily (wouldn’t that be something!) or somebody would need to testify (me), that they saw this suspicious guy ringing her bell and spotted diligently whatever weapon was in his pocket.

He finally freed the thing was stuck in his tight jeans. It was a little box. He stared at it like he didn’t know what it was for a brief moment before the door opened. The remarkable thing is, when she opened the door, she turned and looked right at me. I was certain I had blown my cover, but she didn’t see me at all. Her face had gone flush with recognition and emotion and surprise, but it was for the man standing there with the box. Not me. She looked stunned, and so did he. I was stunned too, holding my breath, standing in the bushes.

Everybody waiting for something to happen…

They then disappeared inside. From where I was stationed I couldn’t see the living room, where they must have went. It was 12:33am. I’ve never stayed while she had company. That was a rule I stuck to religiously. This sort of relationship needs parameters. But this was the first time her company was a man.

I had the feeling this man was the one who made her cry the first night I saw her. It’s been two months! Where was he when it was raining and there was that leak in the ceiling, and she had to use buckets to catch the water in the middle of the night?  Where was he when she came home drunk that night and left the door unlocked? If it had been somebody else, somebody unsavory and criminal, they could have intruded into her house, instead I locked it for her and didn’t even look inside but for a few seconds — just a quick little peek, really.

I had no idea what they were doing in there.

I had to get a closer look.

Which brings me to why I’m telling you all this.

Why I need to explain my actions.

You see, I crept across the street, pass his car, and over to her living room window. Normally I don’t get this close, but this was a special circumstance. She needed me. There was a little space I could wedge into, between a bush and the wall. If I was careful I could peer in from the corner. I moved in quicker then normal prudence dictated but this was an emergency.

They were on the couch. He had his spindly arms wrapped around her and she was squirming in his clutch. Her face was buried in his shoulder but it looked like she was crying.

I always carry a knife. Because you never know.

Even though I didn’t have a plan I took it out. With my back on the wall I shimmied along the wall for a better look when I accidentally rubbed the garden faucet, turning it on. Water began slowly cascading down my back.

Damn it!

This might be a sign that I should run. I should take off right now and call it all a loss. But that’s not what warriors do. If this man was going to commit Evil I couldn’t let some soggy trousers defeat me.

I stayed and fought.

First I had to shut off the water. I couldn’t turn around so I groped for the handle blindly and couldn’t locate it. It continued to drench me as I listened for a sign that I’ve been detected. I could hear them talking, but it didn’t sound like it was about me, so I carefully twisted my body so I could find the damn handle and shut off the faucet, but now I was crouching in a giant mud puddle. I had to do something.

He could be murdering her right this instant.

I took a gamble and went around to the side where it was exposed to the neighbors. I didn’t care. I had to act. When I got to the window I stopped and laid my body flat against the wall and then turned my neck, so I could see  in.

They were on the couch still. Kissing. Her hand was cupped around the back of his head like a bowling ball. It was disgusting.

I was stunned. After all I’ve done. It felt like a butcher took a cleaver to my heart and turned it into giblets. All the time I’ve stayed here and watched over her. Those nights she cried and I wanted to hurt whoever did this to her, and here he was, defiling her before me. The disrespect!

A rage molested my soul and a desire to plunge my knife into this man’s chest possessed me. I was beside myself, this is truly important here, I was not me. I confess. I was hurt. There was something burning inside me that was unleashed and the burning was spreading and it lusted to burn to everything down. It wasn’t fair that he should come back and steal her away.

I decided to break in. I admit this. Only to prove to you how hurt I was. So you understand why I did what I did. Right then I was going to hurl my body through the window. But I stopped when I was blinded by a ring glinting on her finger. And then saw the inside of the box had a satin lining.

I was frozen. I didn’t know what to do now. My mind was tumbling like a horrible lottery wheel where the balls always land penniless and while I was putting the last pieces together, I noticed that she was looking right at me, and she was smiling.

That’s when I knew it was over between us.

And so I left.

But before I left I slit his tires. Popped holes in the rubber so wide I heard the air hissing out. Not out of malice, you see, but to make sure he didn’t leave this time. It was the final act of my perfect love.

Don’t tell anybody.

Postcards of Me

I am a chimney sweeper, sweeping chimneys,
street sweeper sweeping the street;
I’m your dream keeper keeping your dreams.
Wake me up when the stork is gone.

I’m the man screaming love sonnets at
the post office. My romantic post-apocalyptic
poetry is popular with the machine gun girls.

Your lips on mine,
ziplocked like a sandwich bag.

If that baby is mine I’m going to have
to buy a new couch.

I’ll have to get a new job.

I’ll have to sing a different song.

And when you find yourself on the end of the pier
and it’s Christmas Eve and the city behind you
is just barely conceived, like the little baby Jesus,
and you spit into the black ocean and with it,
somehow, you think you leave it all behind;
but it’s not at all like that, not at all,
because you carry it everywhere,
oh, you can’t really leave it behind
like a goddamn colectomy bag,
you keep that shit
hidden underneath
your shirt.

And so we drift, like harmless embers
over a melting tundra. Burning is our
only purpose. And nobody does it
like we do it. High and dancing
in the serialized wind.
And when we die, we leave
a trail of desperate selfies,
our raw face at arms-length,
each one a breadcrumb,
leading back to the source.

And there it is, we finally figured
out a way to live in the clouds forever.

In these Postcards from Us.

Living in the Cloud forever.

Understanding the Protests…

Love it or leave it.

Shut up and sing.

Grab ’em by the pussy.

At first I thought it was silly to be protesting. The election is done. What can we do now about it? It just makes us look like sore losers, I thought.

Then I thought about those phrases used by the dominate culture to silence critics. This rush to move past the election. The normalizing of Trump’s awful rhetoric without any idea of what’s to come.As if it was all a slip of the tongue.

I’ll keep you in suspense… he jokes… haha,

I thought about the Trump rallies that we witnessed for the last 15 months. All those angry (mostly white) faces. All the screaming. All the insults. Obama being blamed for everything. Trump calling Hillary a ‘nasty woman’ for merely disagreeing with him. Trump egging his supporters to beat people, threatening to throw his opponent in jail, threatening journalists with lawsuits, and acting like the whole thing was some hate-filled, alt-right summer festival to drum up viewers for his ghastly media venture.

(Think. What does Roger Ailes know better? Politics or TV? It’s the first time a Presidential Candidate was probably more interested in his adviser’s job than becoming President.)

The reason people are so mad is because they’re afraid of a Trump presidency. They can’t just accept the loss and “stop crying” because they vehemently oppose everything he stands for: greed, white-entitlement, ignorance, and aggression.

They’re afraid because a nationalist who bellowed authoritarian rants was elected to govern a country that is the most diverse, freedom-loving population on Earth. They passionately oppose his us vs. them ideologies. And they want to warn everybody what’s going on and let the world know that there are many of us that are, in fact, grieving.

Because he is the antithesis of the protesters’ values. Love, peace, civil liberties, reasonable discourse, pursuit of knowledge, love of the environment, humane immigration policy, respect for women, etc..

No, the protests aren’t going to change the result. I know this.

But they may send a message to people who now think their racist, regressive views are legitimized by an electoral college victory.

This is no fucking mandate to start reversing years of social gains. He was not elected by a plurality of us. Thank God that will be preserved in the history books.

No, the protests probably are not going to change the hearts and minds of people who aren’t with  us.

But so what. Fuck ’em. They elected somebody so vile to the values of our country, out of either hate or a laughable understanding for economics, that we’re forever tainted by this election. You don’t have to vote for the guy to feel the shame of what’s just happened. And that is worth screaming about.

That’s what’s going on.

We’re protesting the shame this election has placed upon our American souls.

No, the protests won’t change Trump’s heart or his wicked policies, but people want the chance to make it publicly known that he doesn’t represent me or my values.

His grinning face causes anger when it’s smeared across the aquamarine television screens of our living rooms. Snarling and mocking and terrorizing. His mad 3 am Tweets succeeding at nothing but causing arguments and animus. His insane victory sent shock waves of apoplexy through the Blue State consciousness. Laugh if you want, but it rattled our core. Never did we think a man so vile, so undeserving, so boisterously ignorant, and outright scummy could be elected into the highest office in the land.

We are flabbergasted; it’s hard to use flabbergasted in an unfunny way, but Trump did it. He whipped folksy charm and alt-right prejudices with Reality Show bluster and one-of-a-kind demagoguery and winged his way into the White House. It was quite the astonishing sight. Like seeing an iceberg collapse right in front of you and the slow wave coming to tip over your ship.

He may be good for a million memes, but the laughter sure does taste acidic. Let’s get the EPA on that.

Oh, right.

Fuck.

#notmypresident

Excuse Me While I Scream

What the fuck is happening?

I mean: really?

No, but really?

???

Yes, politics and media and entertainment and a collective disengagement with each other has converged in an epic clusterfuck, an unattractive orgy of stupidity and opportunistic clickbait fuckall, but whatever; yes, the modern age is a soundbite-driven-Reality Show-Matrix-gone-all-Hal-from-2001, but whatever; I mean, yes, Trump is certainly a worthy candidate for harbinger of the end times, the final Word written on a baseball hat, but whatever; what is  really going on?

This is a man who thinks it’s okay to shortchange the American public as long as he’s legally capable, our bridges, our schools, and our military loses, but hey, he gets to claim he’s a billionaire by liberal applications of the word.

And that’s all that counts to Trump’s raging ego, money and power, and there’s fools out that want to hand him it all.

Why?

Because he’s slick with the simplistic linguistics? A Catchphrase Charlatan. Hypnotizing us through hand gestures and a psychotic insistence on ones own magnitude.

This is a man who thinks the more money the more power you should have, you should grab ’em by the pussy if you want, because, hey, you’re a star!

This is a man with fake hair and a fake tan who needs to surround himself with beautiful women because of what an ugly piece of shit he is. He is everything that is currently WRONG about America. Greed. Ignorance. And Racism for the deplorable cherry on top.

This is a man that Glen Beck thinks is unhinged. Glen Beck!

How deep is your mistrust of government or your hatred of Hillary to force you into Trump’s sway, how rotten is the rot in your core to hand over the greatest, ALWAYS and MORE THAN EVER, nation on this spinning wonderball called Earth to a snake oil salesman with a tacky toupee?

2016 has been a year where all of our worst sides caught up with us. The downgrading of meaningful discourse to sensational quips and barns and “locker room” insults, our quickly edited blur of information does nothing but distract that there is a serious conflict between people who see the world as combative and hostile and unfair and reject science and want to retreat toward violence and authoritarian instincts, who plainly see the world as us vs. them; and those who recognize our common humanity, and the need for decency and intellect, that we need steady stewardship… of the the Earth, of our fellow man, of our neighbors and ourselves.

We don’t need a bully.

We need thoughtful love.

There are more of us that don’t want to burn it down. And would rather remain loyal to the democratic ideals that made this country fucking great — in spite of the virus that is The Donald, a divisive recklessness and dumbing down that is a genital wart on our democracy, an entitled baby throwing a temper tantrum,  that inflames our baser instincts, the little demons that lead to terrible places, a platform of aggression and arrogance.

Excuse me while I scream.

fullsizerender

I love my country. I even love Republicans.

I miss the Republicans.

It is it’s like when I was young in the 80’s and loved the Lakers and hated the Celtics, but I never wanted them to trade away Bird and McHale and start playing baseball or some other sport nobody knows what it is — some insane mashup of rugby and throwing daggers at trees bare chested.

I miss the competition, the debate, the back and forth. That’s good for America. The trading of ideas. This is just garbage. It’s not politics, it’s not policy. It’s personal and petty and has done nothing but torn us apart and distracted the country from moving forward.

We are the shadows and the men in chains and we built this cave and now we’re at the end of a sick puppet show that I hope we learn from, and can look back one day and study it as a historical anomaly, and that this is not the new norm. But I have a feeling what the media is calling Trumpism is here to stay.

The march of history is Mankind’s greatest story, and I guess every great story needs a villain. But this is where we get to write how it ends.

Let’s beat the beast at the ballot box.

Stand for your greater principles.

Your love of Good.

Clothes Dream

— sketches from a dream about clothes…

Two men, 40-ish, gobbling food in a rural dinner. Country folk all around them. These cats are obviously not from the area. One of them more than 6 and a half feet tall and was picking through a bag of clothes.

“At any point, you don’t have to do this,” the shorter man told him.

“At every point, nobody has to do anything. I don’t care about the law of zero. I care about dreams, and reinventing Capitalism, and bringing corduroy back, Holy, Mother Theresa!”

“Don’t say that,” his light-skinned companion with the tweed jacket implored.

“Why? She’s a real person.”

“She’s a saint now.”

“Even better,” the man with the clothes said.

The other diners began to give them looks, wondering what this madman and the rapper dude were doing in their town. The one who was yelling had a scroungy salt and pepper beard and feral eyeballs, the other one had bandages on his arm and a Russian fur hat. There was a peculiar blending of styles, culturally, ethnically, seeming both old and young at the same time, to the point that the identifier meant nothing. What are we really, but hungry or fed? Either way, they didn’t look like they belonged. Which meant that they were perfect for the times. What with everything changing…

“Are you ready to go back to Los Angeles?” The rapper asked.

The one with the beard shot back, “Not until I’ve made L.A. notice I’m gone.”

Their food came and they both studied at their plate of eggs and bacon and hash browns with a 19th century French hangdog look. Outside looked like rain.