farewell to the king of cats

My elderly cat passed away this week. He didn’t have any illness we could treat. He’d just begun to rapidly unwind after a few years of gradually slowing down, and I couldn’t put off the decision any longer. It’s been a sad week for my entire household, and it’s going to be a long time before I stop looking for him out of the corner of my eye. I wrote up a little thing on Twitter, which I’m now posting here.


Hades, Lord of the Underworld, was a garbage kitten found by my dad at a construction site with his sister (long departed), when I was 16. They were so tiny they still had to be bottle fed. My mom agreed to nurse them during the day, and I nursed them at night. For weeeeks.

Very tiny ball of black kitten

My sister took care of him while I was at college, but as soon as I got back he glommed back onto me. He’s a belly-rub-loving shoulder-goblin with no shame and a squinty pirate eye acquired in a possum fight. His best friend is a 20lb tabby cat slob named Professor Stormfury.

Hades splayed on his back next to my leg

Hades in a perfectly round void ball

Hades looking very tiny snuggled against an enormous gray tabby cat

He’s been with me for over 18 years, six homes, a marriage, two children, thousands of nights sleeping at my side (or practically on my face), and I am going to miss him. He is the greatest void that ever took cat form and stalked the kitchens of the land, begging for treats. 

Hades tucked onto an open kitchen shelf, peeking around the oven, presumably waiting for treats

Bye, baby.


cross-stitchery part 1

I learned how to do a new thing! As you can probably guess from the blog title, that thing is cross-stitch!

I really needed a hobby this summer that was not associated with writing. I was halfway through crocheting a blanket when the heat waves hit, so that was promptly abandoned. I’d love to practice drawing, but typing for hours per day have turned my hands into useless claws, so that is off the board.

Thus, cross-stitch! It’s pretty, it’s precise, but it follows a grid, so my claw-hands just have to stab at the right corner and the needle will sort the rest out.

I debated jumping in with something elaborate and complex, but my internet friends suggested maybe not going off the deep end. ALL RIGHT, FRIENDS, FINE. But I am a supremely impatient person, so I couldn’t just doodle a stick figure either.

The middle ground: I decided to practice by making a piece for my 4yo son. I asked what he wanted: a dinosaur! Okay. I tracked down a simple two-color pattern for a T-Rex skeleton. I asked what color he wanted: rainbow!!!! Er, okay! I just switched colors when the time seemed right.

And Rainbow Rex was born!

cross-stitch dinosaur skeleton in rainbow colors with caption "rainbow rex"


I learned lessons! Like not letting the back get too messy, and leaving more room to frame, and perhaps most important of all: yes, you really do need to get the magic washable fabric pen, because the pencil lines will definitely not come out.

Heady with somewhat-success, I decided to creep a little farther onto that springboard over the deep end. Instead of picking one animal, this time I bought two patterns and mashed them together to make a hybrid bird-lizard, and instead of two thread colors I jumped to fifteen. What could go wrong?


cross-stitch of a gecko with parrot wing and speech bubble "peace out bitches"

Gideon is getting the hell out of here

He now has a lovely home with a friend of mine. The stitches are small enough that she probably won’t be able to tell which ones accidentally went in backwards when I was trying to stitch with toddlers on my lap.

I learned more lessons! Like: try to keep the toddlers out of your lap, and it sure would look nice to fill the whole hoop so I’d better start making them smaller, and also: I bet I could start making my own patterns.

That’s right, friends. I’M GOING OFF THE DEEP END. Next time I should have some creative, uh… creations to show off.

Till then!

P.S. I ought to mention, for other people who enjoy the deliciously satisfying sensation of crossing items off a list:

One of my favorite parts of the process is marking the squares I’ve completed on the pattern with a highlighter. Section by section, row by row, it’s an endless and rapidly completed To Do, visibly done!

Mmm, that is some good sense of accomplishment.

derrida goes to denny’s

Happy Holidays, my friends! I hope you’re ready for one of the dorkiest projects of my college life. Derrida Goes To Denny’s!

derrida dennys 2

One of the only required courses for my literature degree was Lit 101: Literary Theory & Interpretation. It was reputed to be the hardest course in the degree, and it was only available at 8am, which is about 4am in Standard College Time (SCT).

Our professor was Jody Greene, and every girl in class had a crush on her regardless of their orientation. Jody was just the absolute coolest and blew our little literary-interpreting brains every day.

But she had us studying incredibly dense translated texts by Jacques Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, and more. It was hard as hell. One of Derrida’s essays (of which I can paraphrase approximately zero words to you to this day) was titled “Signature Event Context.” Get it? Because S.E.C. spells sec, which is French for dry! Because his writing was so impossibly dry! Ughhh. He spent a lot of time agonizing over iterability, which… I dunno man. But this is how scholars talk about it, and I dare you to get past a sentence or two, much less both paragraphs:


Theory: this writer is wildly disguising the fact that he doesn’t get it, either.

There was also an incomprehensible film about him called Derrida’s Elsewhere. Again, I remember nothing about it now. Absolutely nothing.

Anyway, it was incredibly freeing to learn that I could interpret a text with or without the context of history, authorial intention, language, etc., depending on my relationship to the text and what I was using it to illustrate. But oh, we suffered for those revelations! And we studied our asses off, because we did not want to disappoint our great and wonderful Jody.

Long story short, in a delirious haze of studying, a friend of mine and I conceptualized a series of comic strips about Jacques Derrida, which we gifted to our teacher at the end of the class (um and she LOVED THEM). The running gag is that Derrida keeps trying to get out of paying for his breakfast by using literary theory, and his frazzled waitress, Debbie, is tired of his shit.

Enjoy! Or smile, kind of puzzled, at what seems like a punchline, but…

1 and 23 and 45 and 67 crop


into the abyss

And lo did Samantha bear her second child into the waking world, that strange and too-bright earthy realm, and it came squalling and angry, in the manner of its kind. For a day and a night the creature spat clear fluids, furious and confused by the manner in which it was ripped from its mother’s womb–and neither was its mother any less wounded. But their recovery was swift, and both were released from the institution that coddled them.

They returned to the ancestral manor, bound together in a pattern old as humanity itself, the mother offering herself as food to that which she had spawned. There they found the father and brother eagerly waiting, and the cats slinking door to door, curious and yet disdainful, their ears pricked to new sounds and their backs arched for a missing touch.

Into the abyss she spiraled, day blending into night into day again, the creature growing at a rapid pace and her own body dwindling in thermodynamic remuneration. An unending cycle, a sleepless existence, the ebb and tide of a primal mission: the propagation of self.

She inhabited a living dreamworld, untethered from her initial aspirations, for what little time remained to her was claimed for sullen rest. Each time the creature slumbered, Samantha vowed to continue her work, but each time the creature slumbered, Samantha fell into a twilight existence somewhere between waking and sleep. In this walking twilight she saw wild and incoherent visions, each of which she feverishly marked down in a notebook set aside for just such record-keeping, each of which might one day inform her work, but which, for now, remained merely the ramblings of a strained mind.

Soon, she would return. Soon, she would emerge from the abyssal brink upon which teetered all her goals and wishes, and she would once again take on the mantle of ambition that fueled her literary scrawling. Till then: perpetual night and dreaming awaits.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

WTF Mythology!

Back in (yikes) 2011, a friend and I concocted a plan: we were going to co-run a webcomic made up entirely of mythology jokes. We brainstormed a bunch of jokes off the bat, ALL BRILLIANT. Sadly, our schedules never really lined up and the project withered away, though I made a moderate effort at getting it going on my own. I made this crummy Paint logo:

wtf myth logo

I even made a handful of comic strips. The trouble? I can’t draw for shit! My intended partner was the artist in the mix. I am merely a forger of jokes.

So how to get around this obstacle? I set my sights on statues, classical paintings, and stock art. If Ryan North could make thousands of comic strips using the same stock dinosaurs in the same configuration every day, then surely I could find enough mythological figures to fuel a few recurring jokes.

Of course, in retrospect, that couldn’t have worked either because, y’know, copyright law, but it was still wild days on the internet and it didn’t seem unreasonable to pluck a ton of content off a Google image search without bothering to find out where it came from.


I cobbled together a few horrendously bad captioned artworks, which I won’t even share. The only thing remotely funny I managed to make from my limited stolen resources was a series called “Zeus and Hera at Home,” in which Hera confronts Zeus about one of his silly affairs, he denies it, she concocts an unnecessarily elaborate revenge, and he reacts with pained horror. Basically I just loved the expression on this one statue’s face and wanted to use it repeatedly.

My utter lack of drawing ability is a damn shame, because I still have a big file of ideas based on Odin being a dick, Beowulf’s increasingly elaborate bragging, Osiris’s missing penis, and even a dramatization of that one Sumerian story in which a guy has sex with a rock 42 times.

Here you go, the only ones worth posting! If you want to know just how bad the alternative would have been (i.e., me drawing things instead), well… that is a post for another time, cuz yes indeedy I have some comics I made in college and those ones are all literary theory jokes.

Zeus and Hera at Home!

zeus and hera 2

zeus and hera 3

zeus and hera 4

therapy kittens

The first of the head-to-head 2016 political debates is on tomorrow night. I have Strong Opinions. I’m going to watch it and be filled with aggravation. So I am preemptively assembling some cat pictures to post instead of a political rant. Also I’m being lazy, since I finally hit my stride on the mecha warrior book and dashed out a good 5,000 words this weekend.

So pay attention to the news, and then hug your cats for comfort, and then vote.

When political commentary is leaving you cold, so you’ve got to snuggle anything in sight:


When all you want is to mooch a baby’s lunch and you accidentally form a 90s alt rock band instead:


When you forget how to cat and need refresher training:


When there’s a toddler after you all the time, and you try to go undercover as a toy, but it never works:


And finally, when your brother rescues the cutest kitten in the world, so you hide it among all the toys and hope nobody notices. He’s yours now, YOURS!


history roundup – love edition


Mission San Diego de Alcala, 1848 [Engelhardt, 1920]


In the course of my day job as an archivist, I like to collect entertaining quotes to share with my friends. I’ve posted about the glory of diaries before.

For one project currently underway, I’ve been looking for examples of love and courtship. And YOU GUYS. I am digging up some wonderful stuff.

The oldest one so far, a very hastily performed marriage at the San Diego Mission in 1822:

On the 3rd of June, 1822, in the barracks of the Mazatlan soldiers, and as he was prostrated in bed with a very grave illness of which he died the following day, I married Juan Bazquez, a soldier of the company of Mazatlan to Maria Rita Cañedo, who had had a child and who had exchanged the promise to marry. In such critical circumstances, attending to the easing of the conscience and the consolation of the sick man, the honor of the woman, and the legitimation of the issue, and the consent of the parents of the woman having been given (for she was underage), the permission of the Chief of the said soldier, and witnesses examined in order to arrive at the truth of there not being any impediments to their marriage, I married them according to the order (rule) of N.S.M. Church. Witnesses were Ygnacio Ruiz, married to Benedicta Valencia, leather-jacket soldier of the Presidio of San Diego, and Mariana Arce, also a leather-jacket soldier at the same Presidio.

In 1898, things go wrong for a 41-year-old cowboy Isaac when he proposes to 18-year-old Edith, as tersely implied in his daily diary. (But really, Isaac, you don’t have a stable job, and you just live on the property of whoever hires you each year. Also, you have a gambling problem).

April 12: “Edeth Refused my favor. Went over to Mr. W.J. Mulkins. Got wagon & horses to move my things to W.J. Mulkins Place…”

April 15: “Burnt up cards, Never to Play Again.”

April 17: “Writen two Letters one to Miss Edeth Littlepage, Ballena, one to W.C.L. Ballena. Did Not Send Edeth Letter. Burnt it up.”

[Cut to mid-September, he’s totally gambling again.]

On the schmoopier, more romantic end of the spectrum, we’ve got a love letter written in 1911 from a man to his girlfriend who is out of town for a couple days visiting her mom:

My own little darling Babe,

Well dear it sure does seem strange here, all marning I have been thinking, well I will call Babe up and see how she is and if she wants anything, but no little Babe to call up. I am lonely and want my little girl – tonight will be a hard one, to have to go to bed without a goodnight kiss. Thank the stars it will be only a few days and wont I be glad when Monday comes so I can start. For every hour then I will be getting nearer to my darling…

And finally, an unromantic example (which is tangentially related to courtship in terms of being hit on– close enough for me!), I like this quote from the book Slacks and Calluses: Our Summer in a Bomber Factory by Constance Bowman and Clara Marie Allan. It was written in 1944 by a pair of schoolteachers who spent their summer break doing war work. They discovered that walking to and from the factory in pants got them a lot of unwanted attention:

It was a great shock to C.M. and me to find that being a lady depended more upon our clothes than upon ourselves. We had always gone on the theory that the only girls men tried to pick up were the ones who looked as if they could be picked up… This summer we found out that it was not our innate dignity that protected us from unwelcome attentions, but our trim suits, big hats, white gloves, and spectator pumps. Clothes, we reflected sadly, make the woman—and some clothes make the man think that he can make the woman.

Good stuff. Some time next week we are going to dig into a more modern era. I’ve got an index to a local arts and culture magazine and boy howdy but there are some promising-looking listings in the index. By which I mean, early descriptions of the Internet:

1977: “Masculine Survival Course (Dating)”
1980: “Selectrocution, Singles Bars, and Computer Dating”
1986: “Automobile Romance Dating Service”
1987: “Computer Dating for Seniors”

And more. So much more.

a plea to the gods in this, the end of days

Forgive us Apollo, Light of the Sun, for we have offended you mightily and I know not how. Was it our unrelenting pollution of the earthly body of your grandmother, Gaia? Was it the postmodern turn taken in the arts of music and poetry? Was it… *whispers*… women in the workforce? Please send an oracle with your demands.

50 degrees in San Diego is a new ice age. But 100 degrees in San Diego is the apocalypse and the only bit I’m looking forward to is the rain of frogs because we really need the rain. My delicate body has been spoiled by a Mediterranean climate and now it is frightened and angry.

I call on you Ra, who is Horus of the Two Horizons. Your cattle are sweltering. Shut your fiery eye and show us mercy! Hathor, you are the sky sometimes, right? You’re not wearing that ridiculous cow horn solar disc hat for nothing. Get a grip on ya boy!

This weekend I grimly sponged my wriggling baby down with a wet washcloth, and that seemed to help. But where oh where can I find a mighty giantess to sit me on her lap and wipe me down with a wet washcloth?

Hou Yi. You aren’t a god but I’m praying to you anyway. I heard you shot down 9 of the 10 Chinese suns when they played in the sky together and overheated the world. You’re a baby killer and that makes you a monster, but you’re the hero Gotham needs. I mean San Diego needs. It’s fucking hot.

I’ve bought two fans but I think I need twenty more. I’m going to nail rickety shelves at strategic points all over my walls so that no moment passes in which I am not being blasted with air. It’s hot air so it feels like I’m strolling past the mouth of hell, but it’s better than nothing.

Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That’s what’s important. Valor pleases you, Crom… so grant me one request. Grant me cooler weather!

And if you do not listen… then to HELL with you!

my horror movie cat


The Professor in repose.

My cat temporarily lost his mind the other night.

I sleep beneath our bedroom window because I cannot live without a cool breeze. Our cats take turns sitting on the windowsill and lounging around open surfaces on the bed. They are generally quiet and mellow and it rarely disrupts me to have a cat climb past my head to reach the sill.

So it was quite to my surprise when, about half an hour after I’d fallen asleep, Professor Stormfury went absolutely batshit attacking the open window! He scrambled up a stack of diapers and wipes next to the bed, knocking stuff all over, and then fought madly to fit on the windowsill. I tried to push him away, still half-asleep, and he only jumped back more frantically, whining and knocking loudly against any surface he could gain traction on.

I leapt up (if you wake up that baby I will stuff you and put you on a mantle!!) to set him on the ground and end his off-balance scrabbling, but he only fought me harder. As soon as I set him down he would run back up and collide head first with the window. I found myself wrestling a muscular 17-pound cat and losing. He fixed his claws in the screen and pulled it loose from the frame, so now I was not only trying to keep him quiet, I was trying to keep him from flying out the window and down a hill to the street.

I finally worked his claws loose of the screen and shut him out of the bedroom entirely. I went back to bed, a bit dazed, and had some trouble falling asleep. Unfortunately, being half-asleep gave my imagination license to run wild with the incident and I promptly blew it out of proportion. I wondered, what did Stormy see that agitated him so much? The screen flapped loosely in the breeze, a taunting black hole, and it could have been anything. A neighbor walking by, a serial killer scoping out apartments, a minion of the elder gods, anything.

I know I keep the window open. I know that anybody can slice through a screen without making any sound. But it turns out there is a distinct psychological difference between a screen and nothing. A small hole? Well clearly somebody is going to reach through it and grab my face (the absolute worst case scenario here). But a mesh screen? Well that is an impenetrable physical and social barrier. Nothing can get to me through a screen. It’s closed!

The next day the cat was perfectly normal and I fixed the window without a hitch, so it looks like I’ll never know what was lurking on the hill that night.

I hope!

The End?

cat filler

I drafted a couple of blog posts and wasn’t satisfied. Mostly I am fatigued and weighted down by impending baby, so I’m going to go read a book instead of writing. Enjoy these kittygrams instead!


Hades, mocking the way I sit down every day now


And Stormy coordinating nicely with my body pillow