obsessive grooming is overrated.

These days, I am hostess at a hip restaurant on the Bowery. Everyday, when I peer into my closet before work, and try to piece together an outfit, I get stomach pains. I am not cool enough to work at this restaurant. This is a restaurant where everyone has really good hair and expensive pants. They do not have frizzy fly-aways or cow licks or limp bangs. Nor do they have dorky pants they bought for a soulless office job last summer.

Ohhhh, but friends, I do. I DO. AND I WORE THEM TO WORK. And my HAIR: A story best told in this brief anecdote:

On my third day at work, my manager came up to me, waved his hands at my face, as though he was performing some kind of magic trick and said –

“This… has got to change.”

By “this”, I was unsure whether he meant my face, my sad half-smile or my entire being, but I took the critique with a wide-eyed grin. Then he said –

“Hold on, I’ll get you a hair thing.”

What a relief! I did not need to get a new life. Just a new hairdo. I guess air drying your hair, sleeping on it in a weird position and then leaving it down is not the way things roll on the Bowery.

Despite my hideous pants and lackluster hairdos, I’ve got a touch with customers, most of which I chalk up to my “great smile.”

My “great smile” is comprised of two generous cheeks, and two large dimples. Some customers may find my cheeks overwhelming, but there are definitely some men who LOVE dimples – and they are usually men with dimples themselves. I can’t TELL you the number of times I gotten men with dimples making really hilarious jokes about how, if we had a kid, their whole face would be one giant dimple. (gross.)

There is a redemptive message though contained in these off-color pick-up lines: grooming isn’t everything. My hair may look like a dishtowel, and my pants may look like a melted kitchen mit, but gosh darn-it, it’s the smile that counts.

Proof that obsessive grooming is over-rated.

Rosie (the Disheveled) Cat

Vermin City vs. Angry Kitty

Since moving into my lovely apartment this August, I have become acquainted with all sorts of vermin.

Cat vs. Cockroach

Cockroaches

Mice

Hairy-Drain MONSTERS

Toothpaste Goobers

Turd-Terrors

The WORKS. You name it, I’ve had it. You might be thinking – gosh – this cat must live in a HOVEL. But truly, I don’t! I live in a cozy railroad apartment on Scholes Street, in Brooklyn NY. So I am forced to chalk up my extensive experience with vermin to three things, only one of which is my fault:

  1. Occasionally lackluster cleaning efforts.
  2. Neighbors.
  3. New York City.

1. Cleaning counts, it’s true. But I do my dishes, and try to sweep every full moon. So I’d say I am only marginally involved in my cockroach problem.

2. I have several neighbors that live in a junkyard / squatters settlement behind my building. The exact nature of my neighbor’s employment / lifestyle / rent / legal situation remains somewhat ambiguous. Whatever it is that they do, it involves three things: Beer, Junk, and Reggaeton. Oh yes – and VERMIN. Vermin LOVE junkyards. Or perhaps, they love fleeing junkyards for warm cozy homes located nearby. Whatever the case may be, I blame some of my vermin encounters on the junkyard.

3. New York City is, as you know, home to 10 million humans. What you probably try not to think about is that it is also home to 15 BILLION cockroaches, 10 billion mice and 5 billion rats. They have to live somewhere, so why not my apartment?

I think you’ve got the picture. Now for the horror story:

Last Tuesday, I had an encounter to beat all encounters. I came face to face with a vermin so frightening, so mythological, so demonized in this fair city, that I must record the event for the sake of my readership and posterity. Let it be known:

I encountered every New York City cat’s greatest enemy: The NEW YORK CITY RAT.

Where did I encounter him?

In my KITCHEN!

The encounter went something like this: I was lying in bed (my bedroom is right off the kitchen) reading John Updike’s Rabbit Redux and through the bedroom wall, I could hear my roommate watching Twin Peaks, which, if any of you have had the opportunity to watch it, you know that the scariest part of the TV series is the soundtrack.

So I was lying there, reading, when I heard something in the kitchen. It sounded like plastic bags rustling. Drawn out of the novel, I looked up and listened more closely. The rustling continued. My heart rate peaked. We keep our plastic bags under the kitchen sink, which is right next to a window, which leads out onto a fire escape, which leads into the backyard, which is right next to the squatter’s settlement, which is filled with potential ROBBERS/RAPISTS/DRUG ADDICTS/SERIAL KILLERS/VAMPIRES/ZOMBIES. I pushed myself up on my elbows and peaked into the kitchen. I couldn’t see anyone, but then again, they may have already entered and be hiding on top of the refrigerator. I realized that the only thing to do was to run into the kitchen and catch the offender red handed. That way, I’d be on the offensive. If I waited, he/she/it could come into my bedroom, and then where would I be? So I put down my book, got up and pushed my bedroom door open all the way. I looked around the kitchen – nobody on the refrigerator! A big sigh of relief. Then I looked down. HORRORS!

A RAT – the size of a prairie dog – was staring me down! If my feline instincts had been functioning, I would have pounced right then, and strangled him. But I was paralyzed, and started screaming instead. As I started screaming, the rat scurried away into the kitchen sink cabinet, his five-inch tail, the width of a human finger, bidding me farewell. By the time my roommate, Melanie, was in the kitchen, the beast was gone, and I was still standing there, helpless. When I told her what happened, she and I started screaming again, in unison. Then she grabbed the duct tape and said –

“I know! Let’s tape him into the cabinet!”

“Ok!” I said.

While I cowered in the corner, Melanie bravely taped the beast into the cabinet along with our Clorox and plastic bags.

We went for days without using Clorox. Finally, when we did an investigation of the site of intrusion, we found a large hole in the side of our building underneath the sink. Ewww.

So we called the super, (he didn’t answer) and then we called the exterminator (he still hasn’t come…) and then, we got POISON. I haven’t seen the rat since, but that hole is still there…. so… it looks like this angry kitty will just have to come to terms with the vermin city she calls home.

Rosie (the Angry Kitty)

Cat-o’s Tips for Cats on Trips: Never say N.O. to New Orleans

Cat-o the Youngest’s back! with more hedonistic advice –
For adventuresome women who don’t think twice,
About indulging their passions, their vanities & desires
And of luxuries, delicacies, & thrills, never tire.

Last Tuesday I realized I’d lost all my jobs –
From a high paying salary, to needing to rob,
I was tapped out, strapped, in Chapter 11
So I decided I needed a sweet taste of heaven.

I tried eating my remaining money, thinking it might taste of heaven. Note to self: money does not taste "of heaven." It tastes more along the lines of soy sauce, ink and B.O.

What could it be? Possibly jewels?
Too pricey, by far, I needed some rules!
A gourmet meal, a night on the town!
But I was tired of New York, all the running around.

Just as I started to give up all hope
To wallow, and grumble, watch TV and mope,
A friend dropped me a line and planted a seed –
He said, “I know exactly what it is that you need!”

“What?” I asked, sure he’d say something bland –
“Why a vacation of course, to a new foreign land!”
And that’s when it struck me – of course, how handy!
My flier miles would take me someplace warm, someplace sandy!

He told me – “of course – you know – you should come visit me –
In the Bayou, Cresent City, The Big EASY!”
He’d nailed it! Of course – it was the thing to do!
So I redeemed all my miles, packed my bags and flew!

Here I am, flying.

The very next day I was dangling mid air
Over St. Louis in a plane that had cost me no fare.
I was flying 32,000 feet above all my worries,
For five days I was free, with no place to hurry.

Each day and night was precious indeed
I ate oysters, drank beer, went swimming and dreamed.
I hardly used my mind at all –
Spent hours just chatting in a faux southern drawl.

As luck should have it, as soon as I left,
I was offered a job, my worries put to rest.
I flew back today, sad to say goodbye,
Dirty and happy, a bit fatter in size.

To those who hosted me, I send you my love,
You were magnificent hosts, that rose high above
All my expectations, and quite a bit higher,
You’ve refreshed, and delighted, calmed and inspired.

So what’s my advice? I suppose it’s quite clear,
When you’re out of a job, don’t wallow in fear!
Take a vacation, you’re great, you deserve it!
The money will come, so pack your toothbrush and split!

Cat-o The YOUNGEST.

Brief Biography of Cat-o the Youngest:
Cat-o the Youngest, unlike her great forefathers, Cato the Elder and Cato the Younger, is a woman of Grecian influence. She is a hedonistic humorist. To Cato the Elder’s comment: “Grasp the subject, words will follow,” Cat-o the Youngest says: “Feed the subject, in turds we’ll wallow .” While Cato the Younger was a follower of “Stoicism,” Cat-o the Youngest prefers to, “Show-it-to-him!”

CAT on WHEELs

This is me driving around New York: I am vaguely alarmed. Vigilant. Fearful of crushing the pedestrians swerving into traffic. Pedestrians that talk into cell phones / eat peanuts / drag their children down the sidewalk – all at the same time. Bicyclists who seem to think it is totally ok to swerve in and out of Broadway traffic and J-bike – a more dangerous form of the J-walk. I wish I had such freedoms. But behind the wheel, a cat feels great responsibility.

You can read the guilt on my face: guilt for being issued a driver’s license in the first place. I remember the day well. The test took place in Yonkers, NY. My coach was a generously proportioned individual in a Dickies onesy, with short, greasy grey hair. I don’t recall whether the person was male or female, but it was of little consequence at the time. This person was not a person, they were a DRIVING INSTRUCTOR. And a nice one at that  – when I did a miserable job trying to parallel park, they taught me how. (Align your passenger-side rearview mirror with the driver’s side rearview mirror of the other vehicle and reverse straight back before hitting a sharp turn, and then straighten out again.) Magic. The whole thing lasted ten minutes, max.

I PASSed!

But of course, that had no relation to whether I was a competent driver or not, which I wasn’t. And clearly, the higher license-issuing-powers that be had no idea who I was, because when I got my license in the mail, instead of reading Rose L. duPont Gender: F, it read Rose L. duPont Gender: M. Perhaps the instructor felt it would do me good to go through the world as a male for awhile? Maybe they thought I would have more confidence parallel parking if I identified as a male?Whatever the reason, I accepted it. I didn’t get my license changed for two years. And when I finally sent it in to get corrected, they sent a new one back to me that read:

Rose L. duPont Gender: M.

So I figured, what the hell.

Anyway, for the past eight months or so I’ve been working as a PA on documentary film shoots, and every shoot day, I wake up thinking, “how on earth did I manage to get this job – a job comprised of two of my least favorite things to do in the world:”

1) Driving in New York.

2) Driving in New York.

And yet, and YET, I look so darn cool doing it.

After a few months driving around New York, I’ve learned how to:

1. Flirt parking garage owners into discounts (and yes, even if your license says you’re a male, you can come up with great results.)

2. How to scream nasty insults at unruly pedestrians.

3. How to use the accelerator and the break. And the blinker. And ahhh – the windshield wipers.

Rosie (the Cat)

Morning Menace: Cats Carrying Coffee

Have you ever spilled black coffee on the floor, or some other surface not including your tongue? If you have, you know that “black” coffee isn’t actually black. It’s reddish-brown.

And yes, I am going there:

“BLACK COFFEE” is what is commonly described as a MISNOMER.

(and a thrilling google image search term:)

I am not deeply invested in the way our culture mislabels beverages. I only bring it up because when I spilled my coffee on Tuesday morning,

I THOUGHT I WAS GUSHING BLOOD.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 8:37 AM:

I was wobbling down Lorimer Street on my way to work in a menacing pair of high heels, an up-do, and my roommate’s super trendy, baggy, burnt-chocolate coat, humming along to my fave new artist, OhLand. In my hand, I was carrying a steaming mug of “BLACK” coffee I had been unable to finish at breakfast.

I stomped down the subway staircase with grace, trailing a well dressed young gentleman with an adorable, “German School Boy” look. Mmmm! Life was good.

Apparently, life was TOO good.

As I approached the subway turnstyle, I realized that getting my subway pass out of my wallet was going to be a difficult feat. iPod still blaring, I stuck the mug underneath my arm, and began struggling with every zipper in my bag. Meanwhile, the adorable “German School Boy” was negotiating entry with the turnstyle to my left, but it was not letting him through. He looked my way. OI. He wanted me to move.

“Find your wallet, find your wallet – go – go – go.”

I pretended to concentrate on my bag, when he said something to me. “I’m sorry,” I said (probably too loudly, in an attempt to overcome the deafening music.) When I looked up into his crystal-blue, aryan eyes, I found he wasn’t staring back. He was pointing down, at my coat. Following his slender Germanic finger with my gaze, I found:

HORRORS!

reddish-brown fluid gushing from my mid-section!

I WAS SHOT!

Or maybe I was spilling the entire contents of my mug on the subway floor.

I looked back at him in panic. I still couldn’t quite hear him, but according to my lip reading skills, it appears he said, “Aw, that sucks,” whilst smiling at me.

Liquid pooled around my feet. Whatever he said, it was definitely coffee, and the boy was definitely cute.

At that moment, my fingers alighted on my subway pass. “Oh Darn!” I said as I swiped through, giggling. “Woops!” I looked back, gave him my cutest “I might be a clutz, but I’m still cute!” smile and dashed for the train.

Maybe he wants to date me?

This Tail is full of Tips:

1. If you use those coffee-carrying mugs, be sure to get the kind with effective tops.

2. German School Boys are perceptive.

3. If you put milk in your coffee, you may avoid calamity.

Rosie (the Cat)

 

Sonny takes a Stroll…

"See Sonny, on the prowl." - EM

Here is a picture of an intrepid feline out and about in the wintery mix! Many thanks to my coworker for sending me this picture. Daily inspiration for post-collegiate cats on the prowl!

Feline Freedoms for All.

Rosie + Sonny (the Cats)

Pro-cat-inating

The number of puns containing the word “cat” are pretty endless, which makes writing on this blog A BLAST and not dissimilar to thinking up social security numbers. (624-477-9382!)

The possibilities are infinite.

In post-collegiate life, one loses the luxury of having a “major” or “concentration,” and let me tell you. It’s CONFUSING. You can’t chalk up your identity to some non-comital, vague, yet strangely finite term like, “English.”

Which is why the “cats” theme is such a great guiding influence in my life! The word “Cats” is similar to college majors that end in “studies,” like, American – Women’s – Urban – African – Gender and Medieval and Renaissance Studies.* “Studies” and “cats” both allow for the academic** and intellectual freedom to explore a diversity of topics and media without the restrictions or commitment of a singular discipline.  By threading the “gender” or “urban” or “cat” through an issue, you can legitimize the study of pretty much anything!

Does this give us intellectual and creative
FREEDOM? (Or result in FREE-DOOM….***?)

Please debate at your leisure.

Despite the creative potential the “cats” concept contains, I have neglected my blogging duties for over three weeks! My life has changed dramatically – I’ve had a major dental procedure, learned how to play the harmonica and waged a full-blown war on the cockroaches partying on my stove top.

It’s time.

A return is nigh.

Put on your party hats ’cause: The Cat is Back!

Rosie (the Cat)

*Medieval and Renaissance Studies – code for: “I eat in the university cafeteria alone, I like lime slushies and red velvet capes, wanna come over to my dorm room and play World of Warcraft with me.”

** Cat Studies? Anyone?

***Gil Scott-Heron does an amazing rap using the word “free-doom” (I guess that doesn’t quite qualify as a word – more like a
slang-onomatopoeia) at the end of Kanye West’s “Lost in the World” on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Check it out. If you haven’t already.