A Bit Part in Somebody Else’s Movie

PrintRick was a jock and Karyn was a cheerleader and I was a freak. That’s how my memory tells the story, but I am only certain about the third statement. It was high school and our tribes did not typically mingle, but somehow Karyn and I became friends. She was in love with Rick, hung up on him, big time. I don’t recall ever talking to him, so don’t know what he thought about her, or anything else.

My friendship with Karyn was sorely tested when she invited me over to hang out, one summer day, at the motel that her family owned or maybe worked at. I was bored and ignored for what felt like eternity, because Rick just happened to show up. In fact – as I realized, to my annoyance – I was there to dupe the parents. Karyn wasn’t allowed to date, or see Rick alone. She invited me over so she could see Rick without repercussions.

By the time we all graduated, I no longer saw Karyn much. I later heard, third hand, that Rick got Karyn pregnant, and broke up with her. I have no idea what their truth was, because I never crossed paths with either of them; nonetheless I filed them in categories: Karyn was ill-used, Rick was cold-hearted. The less one knows, the easier it is to hold a strong opinion…

Over the years, I forgot about Rick, Karyn. Completely. (Although I probably used that second-hand experience as I shaped my views about men, and women, and love.)

Recently – and as out of the blue as things get – I was contacted by Rick. He happened upon mention of me in a college alumni magazine, and from that wound his way to this blog, where he left me a note:

are you the one and very same Sue Perry that was sitting with Karyn *** on a small patch of grass in front of the S* Motel at the edge of the El Camino Real circa 1967-68, in the very middle of a very beautiful summer day while a song by the Byrds was playing on the radio?  This one little scene has stuck in my memory for all of this time (half of a century?!?!).

The instant I saw the names, my own memories rushed back. For me, Rick’s lyrical memory changes my perspective on so many things. First off, I was wrong about Rick (and probably Karyn, too): you don’t remember somebody for 50 years if you didn’t care about them. Then, too, I see I was a bit player in one of their key scenes. A day that gave me brief annoyance hit one of them with such poignancy that it stayed on the top of the memory heap for decades.

Which gets me thinking about all the people around me, living their lives in grazing intersection to mine. About all the pivotal moments that we share without knowing it.

And finally, all this reminds me how glad I am that the internet exists to connect us in ways that would otherwise never happen.

(The WP Daily Prompt asked about music when we were growing up.)

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Confirmation of Feline Underpinnings

I’m not much for housework, but have always especially hated vacuuming. In fact, once as a kid, to avoid using the vacuum I picked up crud from the carpet in my room with tape. That only took 150 times longer.

Pop math quiz: assume the room was 10 feet by 10 feet, the tape was 1/2 inch wide, and I didn’t clean under my bed. How much tape did I squander that day?

Answer: no one has an answer. No one wants to do math on a frigging blog.

Anyway. Now that I’m a grownup, I live in a carpet-free house. Even without a carpet, I did need a Shop Vac in the kids’ room when they were small. I came to recognize the distinct sounds of common objects as they got sucked up the tube: the clatter of a track cleat, the rattle of a marble, the thunk-ffffff of a sock.

I believe my hatred of vacuums confirms that in a previous life I was a cat. I don’t know what I did wrong, that merited my returning as a lower life form this time.

catbrainmapping.0

 

I wish I could credit the creator of this famous and oft-posted cartoon. Does anyone know the cartoonist’s name beyond Je-something Be-something? An admittedly casual search yields only the pages that have posted this classic.

This post responds to a WP Daily Prompt.

Book Review: Who I Am by Pete Townshend

5 STARS. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Today’s Daily Post wants to hear about the blog post I was most nervous to publish. I don’t have a particular post in that category, but always feel discomfort when I let a post reveal something deeply true about me.  I’ll post it anyway – in between the cat pictures –  because I so respect blogs and conversations that go beyond the superficial.  And because, when I make a list of important attributes, honesty is always at the top.

Which brings me to Pete Townshend’s memoir, Who I Am. This book mesmerized me and a big part of that was Townshend’s honesty. What separates this from the tawdry “tell alls” of so many celebrities? (Hmm I notice I have strong opinions of such celebrity books without ever having read one. Okay. Disclosure made. Reader beware.) Well. Everything, really. Townshend doesn’t gossip or confide. He shares secrets and bares soul.  I have so much respect for his willingness to make himself look bad in the interest of telling it like it was. Reading this book, I learned not just about Townshend. I also gained insights into topics as varied as myself, addiction, and the collective unconscious.

A few scattershot reactions:

  • Ironic that he had to end his marriage to get into a monogamous relationship.
  • Amazing how similar addictive mindsets can be from person to person, substance to substance.
  • The most fun part of the book are the chapters about the early days of the British rock scene, centered around an art school an Ealing.  One of those times when so much talent and energy magically converged. (I was lucky enough to live through such a time in Los Angeles in the late 1970s.)  Ealing in the early 60s had the Stones and Kinks in clubs, John Marshall developing his amplifiers, John McLaughlin as a local salesman! And of course school chums Daltrey, Townshend, and Entwistle happening to form a band.

You don’t have to be a Townshend or Who fanatic to enjoy this book. I loved classic rock back in its day but don’t listen to it now.  I always liked the Who’s attitude and enjoy their music but they were never one of my bands and I only saw them once (and that time, mainly because the Clash were on the same bill). I never got into Townshend’s solo work.

Book jacket publicity writing usually makes me twitch, but this time I agree with the cover blurb, which reads in part: “With eloquence, fierce intelligence, and brutal honesty, Pete Townshend has written a deeply personal book that also stands as a primary source for popular music’s greatest epoch. Readers will be confronted by a man laying bare who he is, an artist who has asked for nearly sixty years: Who are you?”

Okay, I might need to debate the greatest epoch part, but otherwise that description is spot on.

P.S. Also, he’s funny and there are laugh-out-loud lines throughout.

 

“Looking Kinda Spooky and Withdrawn”

Daily Prompt Instructions: Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes. GO!

I don’t know him but I’m worried about him. Crowded room buzzing with hubbub and attitude, he’s in that far corner, slouched tilted because his chair has a broken leg. He could have moved – there are empty chairs on either side of him – but there he tilts.

I don’t have kids. Watching him tweaks a maternal streak I didn’t know I possessed.  His hair looks like it was wet when he went to sleep with a hat on. It frames an eternally baby face, with a nose that’s been broken more than once. His eyes are decades older than his face, and when there’s a motion into his corner, they dart like the eyes of an animal who’s lived all its life in a cage.

Some girl talks to him and waits for an answer. He stares at the air between them like her words are written there. He shakes his head in reply, about two seconds after the girl turns away with a huff of a shrug.

Maybe he’s high, but that explanation’s too simple. He’s checking out, he’s had enough, he’s done. I  won’t see him again anyway but I fear no one will ever see him again, come tomorrow.

The song lyric of the title is from “No Name #1” by Elliott Smith. Click here to watch a cover version to which I am addicted.

Gee. Thanks guys.

Dear Family Cats (and also the dog),

Thanks for giving me an unforgettable experience. A night of induced insomnia and – okay – a couple laughs.

The oldsters, Bop and Luna, age 10.

The perpetrators, Bop and Luna.

It all started about 130 am. The dog woke me up, walking in and out of my room, flopping down in the hallway, jumping up again to tick tick tick tick another circuit of my room. When she walks at a certain pace, her nails on the floor sound like the Sixty Minutes clock. At 130 pm, I find this charming.

After a moment of consciousness, I heard what had made the dog restless. Cat fight, a couple houses away. I recognized the voice of my beloved Luna, whom I had failed to lock inside. I keep the cats in at night (coyotes), but on hot summer nights Luna often evades capture.

Luna is 10 years old and I had never heard him fight before.  He is a peaceable fellow who gets along with most other cats. The part of my brain that was awake decided it was a good idea to break up the fight. I filled a glass with water and headed down the street. No noise, no cats. Okay. I dumped the water and returned to bed.

Turn out my light, cue the fight, which resumed a few feet outside my window. Refill the water glass, take it outside, toss water at the cats. The other cat ran north. Luna headed west, stopped, stared at me, then sprinted after the other cat. Jerk.

The really!-I’m-mean-and-I’m-going-to-hurt-you! howling resumed in the backyard. By now I was too invested to shrug and lie in the dark listening to fake loud cat aggression. In the backyard, I decided to turn the hose on them. I turned the hose on full bore and I blasted them —

— with a dribble of water. Oh. The hose had kinked.

While I worked on unkinking the hose, from the house behind ours came brutal THUNK-thunk-THUNKs as the pit bull tried to slam his way outside through a closed dog door. He wanted in on the cat fight.

Suddenly I realized that what I needed was to be asleep. I left the hose and returned to bed. Where I lay, very very awake, for 3 hours. As many of you know, time expands at night and those 3 hours lasted for days.

I finally drifted off to sleep shortly before dawn. Not long afterwards, I jolted awake to shrill cat screeches. For the first time, our cat Bop had ambushed the kittens during the night, which is usually a time of truce. Perhaps Luna had inspired her.

There we were, stumbling into the hall, squinting at the lights we each turned on: my daughter and I, armed with water bottles, looking to spray Bop for messing with a kitten.

A peacekeeper.

A peacekeeper.

Actually the “kittens” are now 11 months old and two of them are bigger than Bop, but she knows how to bully and they will always consider her enormous.

Wow. He is so cool.

Recent runt kitten Leo stands outside window and watches his hero Luna snooze. Leo doesn’t realize he has grown up to be the biggest cat in the neighborhood.

Now the dog was energized. With two humans out of bed, it must be breakfast time.

Have you ever gone for a walk just after dawn? It is such a peaceful time of day.

P.S. As I write this, Bop has knocked the DSL modem to the floor. Twice.  So we’ll see whether this exposé ever gets posted.

(This post responds to today’s Daily Prompt, “I’d Like to Thank My Cats”.)

Why Go To College?

I’ve always loved school, as I recently posted. My college days were a fantastic, ne’er-dupulicated experience: I got exposed to new ideas, unimagined worlds; I had tons of fun and many of my college friendships have persisted for decades. I ended up with a double major and two minors but I remember so few of my classes.  What mattered was Everything Else.

I wanted my kids to have a similar experience. But their generation has a different mindset. To them, college is an early bullet point in your career plan. You narrow your career choices and then choose a major accordingly. You get in, you get out, you move on.

Gak.

Ironic, isn’t it. They’ve got a parent who wouldn’t freak if they kept switching majors, waffling and wandering their way through college. (Might have to pull the plug financially, but that’s a separate issue.)  They’ll apparently never enjoy that asset.

This post responds to today’s Daily Prompt.

Mom. Seriously. Are You *Crying*?

This week my twins turned 20! Here they are in the last few hours of their teen years. They actually let me take a picture. Best 20 years of my life, even during the worst moments of my life, because these two have been in them!

Last known photo as teenagers.

Last known photo as teenagers.

Here they are on their first birthday. The chicken wing thing was common when they first learned to walk.

Age 1 year. It was 100 degrees that day.

Age 1 year. It was 100 degrees that day.

Age 1 year.

Age 1 year.

(This Daily Prompt wanted to hear about the last time that beauty brought me to tears…)