to all three of my fans for the fact that I haven't written in a month. I have been travelling. I went to Texas, Toronto, Jersey City, and Philadelphia. Which were all very nice. Unfortunately I just love Brooklyn. So here I am, again and still.
It's not entirely rational, I grant you. There are other places in the country, in the world, where a person can ride her bicycle a few breezy blocks to a place with Gen X music and battered couches, that serves forty kinds of tea, and a decent latte, and scones and bagels and beer, and put her feet on the furniture and type on a laptop or scribble in a journal without being asked impertinent questions, because everybody else in the room is doing more or less the same thing. There are bagels in other cities, and galleries, and theatres. Other cities have parks, too, and the rents are a lot lower. I guess I'm just as monogamous about cities as I am about lovers. Unfortunately, I say, for me.
While I was in Texas, my Little Kitty died. My Little Kitty was the only person in the world who just loved me, and nobody else. If I was there, my Little Kitty was perfectly happy; if I wasn't there, she was sad. This proposition was tested many times over fourteen years. She adopted me in Austin, Texas in 1990, came with me to San Francisco, and got us evicted from our first apartment on Haight Street by pissing on Andrea's comfortor. (Andrea deserved it.) Then we lived in the Mission, in Potrero Hill, in North Beach, and then Bayview, where the Little Kitty would ask to be let in by climbing the avocado tree, jumping across to the second-floor window box by the kitchen window, and scrabbling on the glass. Since the kitchen window was painted shut, I then had to go down the back staircase, open the door, and call to her, whereupon she jumped back to the tree, climbed down, crawled under the fence, and came up the stairs. She never minded.
When I got smeared into the asphalt in Bayview and had to move in with friends for awhile, I left my Little Kitty with Somebody Else for three weeks. She lost fur, she lost weight. When I came to visit her, she did not greet me, she did not purr. She went to the door like a forsaken mistress and asked coldly to be let out. Once through it, she turned and regarded me with an expression of heartrending grief and betrayal that I did not know a kitty's face was capable of. I visited her daily after that, just for a nap together on the couch, and both of us recovered.
When I moved to Mexico, I moved heaven and earth to take my Little Kitty with me. The day before we were to leave, we went to the vet for a final check-up, and the vet found tumors in her tail. She spent the night in the hospital, and came back with her tail wrapped in bright yellow fabric. We were staying in Pierre's apartment, and I have never seen my Little Kitty so angry. "First, you put me in this TINY APARTMENT with a STRANGE CAT and LEAVE for three weeks. THEN, you take me to the VET, and LEAVE me there ALL NIGHT, and they stick needles in me and CUT OPEN MY TAIL. Then you bring me back to this TINY APARTMENT where the STRANGE CAT still lives, and I can't even go OUTSIDE, there's just this horrible featureless HALLWAY on the other side of the door where the TREES are supposed to be. WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!!!" When it was time to go into the kitty basket and get on the plane I feared the worst, but she settled right down. As long as her person was there, everything was fine.
Lately, my Little Kitty got very thin, and was throwing up all the time, and the tail tumors came back and got huge and disgusting. I wouldn't let the vets operate again, because they all wanted to cut her tail OFF and I didn't think my Little Kitty would appreciate that. She was diagnosed with a thyroid tumor and had to take pills twice a day. I will always wonder if the adoption of the Brat had something to do with this. My Little Kitty never got used to him; in her view, the Brat wanted to take her person away, and be the Little Kitty instead. I explained over and over that nobody could ever be my Little Kitty but her, but she kept throwing temper tantrums and trying to scratch the Brat's nose off.
I knew that probably we would have to move in with Other People soon, and that Other People would probably not love my Little Kitty as much as I did--enough not to mind having their stuff puked on. And I am seriously worried about money, and vets don't ask you before they do expensive blood tests and treatments and prescribe medication and hospitalizations. But that doesn't mean I shut her in the closet on purpose. I shut the door because I didn't want the cats in the closet while I was in Texas; there was too much stuff in there that I didn't want puked on. When I came home and there was no Little Kitty to greet me, I could not believe it.
We had a vigil for her in the living room, with candles, which they don't let you do if your Little Kitty dies in the hospital. I thanked her for being the best Little Kitty ever, for being the most faithful soul I've ever known. I asked her to forgive me for those last hours, alone in the closet.
There are times, I grant you, when it's just over the top. "My boyfriend dumped me, my business failed, I have no job, no career, I can't afford my apartment and THEN my kitty died." But the shift toward inner peace has been happening nevertheless, no thanks to the friend who wrote, "Yeah, you were kinda having problems. Are you all right with the breakup?" Hello? What do you want me to say? "NO, I'M NOT. BUT THANKS FOR ASKING." Sheesh. And Badger, my darling my dear, I know you are a rapid, creative and off-the-cuff thinker, and I love you for it, but I'm not desperate enough to move in with your in-laws and cook them dinner until I get a job. But thanks for the suggestion.
Instead, I am laboriously working my way through the Nolo Legal Guide to Starting and Running a Small Business, so that I can benefit from my mistakes and do it better next time. I am applying for every grant, residency, or fellowship that I qualify for, which is several. And I MAY have found a place to live. At the eleventh hour, the community network came through--the same friend who introduced me to my now-former boyfriend forwarded a listing from a performance art listserv. Two guys with a huge loft need a roommate who is a REAL artist and who will actually USE the studio with great big windows that they have so lovingly constructed. We met on Thursday. The guys said they LOVED the idea of cats and plants and massage therapy, and dinner parties, and artist salons, and someone who likes doing finish work. And the rent is fair, as opposed to those assholes with prime W-burg loft space who want someone to "move in" and pay their inordinate rent for them, without them having to move out. Someone who doesn't have friends or pets or furniture, and doesn't get paint on the floor or have parties or make noise or anything.
The loft is way the hell out past Bushwick, technically in Queens of all places, and gets kind of cold in winter, and the second-floor bedrooms get "unbearably hot" in summer, they say. But it's real live/work space with real people. Which is what I want. So I'm completely terrified.
And I'm still completely in love with my ex-boyfriend, in case you wanted to know. Don't worry, I'm not delusional, I'm not Refusing to Let Go, I have not called him or shown up sobbing on his doorstep in the middle of the night once. I'm just ACKNOWLEDGING the fact, okay? My friend in Toronto said, "He's not the one for you, otherwise he'd be with you. So, do you think I should get in touch with P.?" The guy who hasn't communicated with her in two years, who said he was definitively Not Interested, who got someone else pregnant and who has recently been rumored to be engaged or married? Sure, why not?
I managed to get back into the studio again, after being overcome with crushing inertia while working on a painting tentatively entitled "Rupture," of two dead shriveled-up rosebushes reaching toward one another, while the background burns blackly. The grief is finally emerging on the surface, like popping a zit. The other evening I worked steadily on the painting while playing track 8 on the new John Mayer album, 14 times in a row, weeping as steadily as I painted. My eyes were scarily puffy in the morning, when I was scheduled to meet the loft guys, and I worried that I looked really old, but they liked me anyway.
(My ex-boyfriend has a crazy, I mean literally crazy, ex-girlfriend who was convinced for awhile that she was married to John Mayer. After listening to Track 8 on "Heavier Things" 14 times, I can see how that could happen, to someone who has a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. I'm not tempted, though. He's too damn young.)