Remembering Max

I wasn't a cat lover. I didn't exactly hate them, but I never liked them after my childhood pet cat, Lucky, wasn't so lucky. He died in the crawlspace under our house and we didn't know where he was for a few days... Some degree of dislike of cats started there (it's strange how a child's mind considers things bad).

I started dating the woman who now is my wife and learned to love the little furry monsters again (they had several, plus a bird and a dog). The pure variety of personality and the independence provides a truly interesting companionship.

Shortly after we started dating, she was walking with her mother in the park when they heard a little meow coming from under the fall leaves. When they investigated, it was a little tiny white kitten, no bigger than the leaf he was partly under. This park happens to have a reputation for people abandoning kittens and cats regularly. Anyway, they brought the little kitten home.

At first, we named it Magnolia, because it was a magnolia-white kitten that we believed was female. We called it Mags for short. As it grew, we soon discovered she was actually a he, so his name became Max (sounded like Mags, so it didn't have to re-learn its name). We got him fixed, but he never seemed to realize it, given the constant territory marking.

Anyway, Max grew up into a huge orange-tip white Siamese with an insatiable appetite. My nickname for him soon became Maximum-Cat. I loved that big 'ol blue-eyed white kitty.

Six years after first meeting Max, we have just said goodbye to him. A couple of weeks ago, he took a notion to roam off in the woods for a while, which was not unusual. Just four days ago, he returned very sick and thin. We knew it was too late (my wife has had cats all her life and she and her mother know quite a bit about when a cat can be saved and when it is best to make them comfortable). We nursed him inside until today, trying to get him to eat or drink, but he wouldn't. Getting medicine into him was nearly impossible. When he did seem to want to eat, he would put his nose right down on the food and hover (shaking somewhat) for a while, then maybe take one or two bites and go wobbling to hide in a corner, wheezing. We were told to place him in a closed bathroom with a humidifier and did that today. It definitely improved his breathing and seemed to make him more comfortable. Tonght, he let out a little bit of a meow that said it would probably be over soon. At about 8:15 PM Eastern Time September 2, 2002 (Sept. 3 0:15 Everything server time), he died in his customary resting/sleeping position with us gathered around him, hopefully in comfort and without pain.

I really miss that cat.

It's just shy of a hundred degrees in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County today. As it was yesterday, the two days before and forecasted to be till next Friday or so.

I was desperate to escape the heat earlier, and I think it caused a lapse of judgement on my part when I allowed myself to be coerced into going to see "Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams" with my family. In my defense, I was only thinking one thing at the time: air conditioning.

The previews alone were a sensationalistic assault of things that can't and shouldn't happen in real life and i was ready to get up and simply meander around the theater complex, basking in the glory that is central air. However, in doing so, I would have been ensuring a barrage of guilt-inducing maneuvers from my mother upon our arrival home. My mother who, being raised in a catholic household was almost eerily adept at this sort of thing. So I sat and watched the lame-ass movie. Pardon me, I shouldn't say it was totally and undeniably lame-ass. I guess if I were of the teenie bopper age I may have even enjoyed it, and to be fair I'm pretty sure I did laugh once or twice. But on the whole, I could think of a thousand and one ways my Labor Day could have been better spent, some of which included forceps and a tooth drill.

It's only the third of September and I'm already sick of all the 9-11 anniversary hype. Whatever happened to tasteful, personal remembrance?

I know that I'm in the minority here, but the attacks of last September didn't irreversibly change my life. I found jobs when I needed them. The arrival of my work permit and green card weren't noticably delayed. Granted, I haven't flown in the last year, but the security delays haven't been too long when I've dropped friends off at the airport.

Yes, a number of people died needlessly; the last thing I want to do is tarnish their memory. And I have friends who know people (note the present tense, thankfully) who worked in the World Trade Center. And yes, these people should undoubtedly be memorialized, but not by a fortnight of news specials, documentaries, "very special" episodes of sit-coms, commemorative plates, over-priced t-shirts and showings of the 1976 remake of King Kong.

If you want to remember the WTC victims and heroes, then go to a memorial service at your church, mosque, synagogue, coven, temple, town square or whatever. Pick a name of a random victim and donate some money to the charity of your choice in their name. Masturbate to a picture of Rudy Giuliani. I don't care. Just turn off CNN and MSNBC and don't let the media tell you how to mourn.

This w/u first materialized as a rant on my weblog -- http://omega.uta.edu/~gbr5097/ramblings.html -- but I thought that what I wrote would resonate with people, thus sharing it here. I'm sure it'll get downvoted to oblivion. Fuck it, I don't care.

So it's the first day of school at the scenic MUniversityofMichigan, and I am not going to school and I can't stand it.

Well, I can. I've been writing my Jane paper since I got to work, for instance. Papers are good. It's kind of like being in school! Yeah.

John has been getting nervous about starting grad school, and lamenting needing to go to class et al. Meanwhile I am lamenting not going to the University of Chicago three years ago. I would be done with my coursework! I would be starting my dissertation! Real, live dissertation! Oh my god.

I mean, I would rather be here, knowing the people I know and in the society I am in, yes. I had a good MFA program. I did a good lot of work, and went to bars bitching loudly but still socially about work, and was too impolitic for my own good. I learned how to grade papers, and that kids in college write terrible papers, and that my papers in undergrad were just as bad, and felt so sorry for the profs who had to sit there slogging through them every week. I did have to slog through them every week. I taught a year of classes, and started actually ironing my shirts so as to look marginally professional, and sat in my office writing frantic comments in margins at nine in the morning on the day I wanted to return the papers on which I was writing. I went to reading on reading on reading by famous people, and had workshop with the famous people, and got my own work critiqued by the famous people, and judged and bitched about several of the famous people who turned out to be bastards. I yelled with Jen and Nadine about countless bad classes, yelled about our own work and other people's work and how many of the people we knew were plastic and insincere and gladhanded the profs left and right, who said things to look good in class as opposed to actually meaning them, who skirted the edge of insult talking to you but smiled straight into your face with all their very white teeth.

One of my profs once called me Michelle in front of the whole department. Do I look like a Michelle?? I mean, I don't have the most common or easy to remember of names, but good lord.

And after I finished, I decided to take a year off. I would take a break from school; I'd never had one yet. I would have a chance to develop my writing more, with no obligations. I would make some damn money.

So I waited a year. Then I applied to PhD programs, with a master's degree already under my belt by age 23, with good grades and good recommendations and blah blah. I made some mistakes; I should have done a much better personal statement, done better research, written a more recent writing sample, been more focused. Other people made some mistakes; I should never have had to drive to Cleveland and personally bitch out the graduate dean so she couldn't ignore my urgent faxes and phone calls anymore, all so I could get a graduate class I had dropped taken off my UNDERGRADUATE transcript.

Anyway, I didn't get in anywhere for this year. And John is going to school, and Carrie is going to school, and everyone seems to be going to school. My friend Patricia is going to Columbia. I know kids in the PhD programs at Harvard and Brown. I went out drinking with these people! I know they are smart. But I am smart too, damnit, and I am stuck in this stupid job doing data entry all damn day every day, and the job market is not exactly the easiest thing to break into at this point. Granted I get to do data entry in twelve different languages, and that requires some skill, but still.

There's this student worker in my department who keeps talking about getting into grad school for English, for postmodern theory. He's a senior this year and is dumb as a post. Well, not "dumb as a post" per se, but clearly not a graduate student at all. He's stunningly mediocre. Fortunately, I don't have to know yet whether he is getting into his choice of PhD programs. I don't know; I mean, I feel better knowing that this is my competition, but if I knew this kid could get into PhD programs and I couldn't, I think I would just start screaming.

Ok. Ok. I'm glad he's not in to work today.

So. I am going to read John's critical theory books along with him all semester. I am going to write more papers and I am going to send them to journals and get them accepted. And then I am going to get into a PhD program, and this time I am not putting it off for any other degree first.

It's just a bad, bad, jealous day. All the kids going off bright shiny into classes with their new notebooks. All the paper and pens and leather smell of new backpacks everywhere. I don't have any excuse to buy new paper, to open up new pens, to classify things by color and subject so I don't bring the wrong notes on the wrong day. I bought my laptop last spring: that's my school supply for the next five years. I don't have any notes to take or interesting lectures to listen to. All I'm going to have is my own head, my books, and my fingers on the keys. Granted I am going to do theory along with John, but still. I can't go to the lectures. I can't even take German through work so I know what I'm ordering.

I just have to get into some program this year. Any fucking program. I need to write my papers, and I need some classes to help me. This is the kicker: I know I'm not good enough yet. I can't just write things outside of school. I've been writing this paper all morning and I don't know the theory behind it. And I can read the theory, but theory is really difficult, and it's entirely plausible that I seriously need the classes to understand it. Not that I'm not going to try, but still. I am not disciplined enough to stick to a paper-writing schedule myself; I was writing this paper today because I made a deal with John over the weekend. I don't have to turn things in; I'm not racing for tenure. I don't have a deadline to meet. I'm not in a fucking program, why should I write papers if I'm not good enough to get in?

This is not a good road to fall down.

So I am going to get myself out of it. I am writing the paper, after all. I've been writing fragments of this idea for months, but this is a real paper now. And then I am going to write my Wheeze paper, and I will have this Jane paper and a Wheeze paper, and have two to pick from for new writing samples. I will have two papers to send off to journals and conferences, and they will be good enough to send off, because I will be really angry at myself if I give up on this. I am damn well going to make them good enough, and I am going to get in somewhere, and fill my head with words and words and ideas and words, and this is what a PhD program is for, after all, doing better work, and my work will go from "good enough" to "better" to "actually good". I am going to get in and go and go and go.

You know the thing about football? I could watch any type of football. I love pro football, high school football, and most of all, college football. I've even watched pop warner football. I can't get enough football. I've played football since the 3rd grade and watched Browns football on T.V. since I can remember. I love to play football and love to watch it too.

Now that I'm part of a college football team, I find myself watching college football so much more than pro football. I don't like where pro football is going. It's too much passing, too quick, too far from what football was at it's start. Any real football fan loves a great running team. A hard-nosed football player that just runs over people is more fun to watch than a football team that runs shotgun with 4-5 wide recievers every time and just tosses the ball up every play

The only running game that exists in the NFL nowadays is the quick toss or power sweep. Hardly any team has a running game that can just pound it in the middle to get 4-5 yards a carry and break a few open every now and then. Maybe this is the way of the future, and if it is, I might have to turn to soccer. Which may not be totally out of the question, because I actually watched quite a few World Cup games this past year. But as long as college games are still exciting, I'll keep watching. There might be a point in the future where I only watch college and Browns games. Oh well, maybe I was born in the wrong decade...

"She's asking already about the S-E-X."

Her words cut through the jukebox music and other walls. When i arrived at the fast food joint for lunch, i waited ten minutes while a gaunt man, rocking and stuttering, flailing and cursing, changed his order again and again. His torn sweatshirt was clumsily handlettered with red sharpie to read AC/DC. Once he managed to order his 2 peach sundaes and large fries, he walked to the free jukebox and punched many numbers.

Hide in the kitchen, hide in the hall
Ain't gonna do you no good at all...

I gradually discovered he'd punched every Elvis song in the box.

I also discovered that he'd perched at the counter overlooking my seat and had no compunction about staring at me while singing along to the songs. I tried to act cool, ignore it, do the crossword.

The girl is blond, with round cheeks and coarse strong features for one her age. It's probably all the zines i've been reading that make me picture her drawn in pen and ink as she, older, recounts this scene in her own zine. Ighostdo not figure in it. A better artist than i will render that nose: handsome, rather than beautiful, even at that age, another good way for people to look.

Lord Almighty,
I feel my temperature rising
Higher higher
It's burning through to my soul...

"I told her they'd tell her in fifth or sixth grade, you know, when they have health class."

Mom is large and blonde and tired. Her body has settled awkwardly, and she has a tattoo tear in the outside corner of her eye. Her friend is also tired and unlovely. They keep talking as if the girl's not there.

She's wiping ketchup off her nose with her bare wrist.

Well, that's all right, mama
That's all right for you...

An old man has a coughing fit. I'm concerned for a second, but it subsides. The haggard fella dramatically counts and recounts change from his pockets (in & out, in & out) and goes to the payphone, madly swaying. I try not to watch him as he dances, threatens, punches the phone. He has a right to be. I try not to let him see me. I came here to watch, not be watched. I came for a little while of alone, of disconnect. Isn't that what this sterile corporate environment is for?

She wants to know why she can't learn about it now. I silently slyly second the motion. She's obviously curious. What will happen in fifth or sixth grade?

"They'll show a video - what was it called? facts of life? Miracle of life. And all the kids will laugh."

"Why will they laugh?"

"Because it's embarassing."

Mom wants to leave it at that. I have this sense that i am witnessing the fabled "birds and bees" conversation, in one of its many iterations. A highly unsatisfactory one. I have this urge again, to steal the child and raise her myself. It's not being done right. Nothing is being done right.

Now the stage is bare and I'm standing there
With emptiness all around
And if you won't come back to me
Then make them bring the curtain down...

Oh, now she's talking but it's still wrong. She's straying into "embryo" and "fetus" - obfuscating, trying to use vocabulary to make the girl less interested. It's working.

He's leaving the wrappers all over the counter. He's walking out. What is this choreography, that demands attention but makes us all look away, embarassed? Where is it learned, that it is common to the fighter and the drunk, the swaggerer and the schizo?

Once, when i was in a poetry workshop, i was desolated to discover that i could never be a real poet because i had no great tragedies in my childhood. Who needs to be a poet? There are tragedies in the very grease of this city air.

Today was fabulous.

The day actually started out quite rushed. Data Structures started at 9:30 AM, but I didn't bother to check my schedule in advance, so I was planning on a 9:00 AM start. *sigh* I used the extra half an hour to brush up on some circuits material, and read over an article for Economics. Of course, before all of this I popped into the nearest computer lab and talked with her for a while. She's working Co-Op this semester at a place not far from Pittsburgh.

So, at any rate, I am in Data Structures, when I hear a booming voice come from the front of the room. It can't be my teacher. He sounds much more meek than this craterous voice. "I'm sorry, but the class is cancelled for today. Your prfessor is stuck in Canada at the border."

The class roars with laughter.

Well, this is great! I just kept thinking about how much later I could have slept... I was already droopy with sleep. But, it wasn't all bad! Now I could find a computer and chat with Jennifer for a while longer! Yay! I decided to go directly to the building where my other classes were, as it has a nice computer lab. So, I arrive on the 10th floor and find a computer. I log on and talk with her for about an hour. While talking I read Slashdot and page through the article for Econ.

Around 10:36 AM or so I decided to go sit outside of the lecture hall where my circuits class is being held, to study. Yes, I was expecting a quiz. As luck would have it - no quiz. *sigh*

After circuits is Econ! I had to walk briskly to the building, because I needed to get to the room early and finish reading the article on the product cycle. Not too fun, but it could have been worse. So, anyway, we got our first assignment back. The professor said that my writing was elegant. Great! I love hearing compliments about how I write. (Yes, in "real life" I tend to write better than I do on e2, simply because I am usually graded. (But I enjoy writing these daylogs more than I enjoy writing for Econ;)). Right after Econ is my circuits recitation. With only 10 minutes to get to class I run very very fast up the hill. I am late for class. Only by a few minutes though. Strangely enough, I think I will be skipping this class nearly every week. The TA is nice, and seems to know his stuff, but I don't think it's worth the hour + I'd be spending there. Plus, it's my last class of the day, and skipping it means going home early.

So, I leave recitation and go to the lobby to wait for Jennifer. (Just saying the name makes me smile). I wait and wait, and I get on a kiosk and read some Slashdot, and then I sit down and wait. I was only waiting for about 15 minutes, actually. She arrived! YAY! She looked so beautiful. She had on a blueish stretchy feel-good shirt, with black pants, and uncomfortable black shoes (I learned this later in the evening). We sat and talked while holding hands, and then decided to get some food - but only after she met with the TA for her Statics and Dynamics class. While she was in the TA's office, I stood outside and read everything on the hall wall. I now know all the names of the Mechanical Engineering staff, where they went to school, their majors, their research interests, and much more than I care to recount here.

Shortly before Jennifer came out of the office, her friend Erika showed up. I didn't say anything, because I wasn't sure if she'd remember me. I just milled around and waited for Jennifer.

She emerged from the office, and the 3 of us made our way to Uncle Sam's. Alas, when we got there we discovered that they do not accept credit cards! *sigh* Oh well. Using the last of my cash was well worth it. Their food is yummy! And the fries were fresh! And I was there with Jennifer!

After the eating, we walked up to the Statics class. Jennifer and Erika were going to turn in their homework and then take off, presumably to go swimming. Well, the homework was pushed back a week, so the three of us left post haste. When outside, Erika decided not to come with us, but Jen and I were still going! YAY! That was the best! I love being alone with her.

We went to her parents' house (her home) to swim, but the water was very cold! It was still warm outside, too. Not as warm as earlier, though, I suppose. But, it was still a great time. Jennifer was being her cute self the entire time. After evading an attack from a snake in the water, we got out and headed inside. We milled around inside the house for a bit, and then her parents arrived. Jennifer talked with them for a while, and then we took off.

On the way home we stopped at the dairy bar down the road from me, but, unfortunately, they don't take credit cards. Ack! And I really wanted to buy Jennifer a milkshake so we could share it. I've never done that before. I want to do it with her.

We then went on a hunt for Giant Eagle. We didn't find one by the time we hit 10th street, so she got out and went into a gas station. She was asking for directions! Oh how in love I am with her. I hugged her immeadiately. We found the Giant Eagle, and then came back to my place for about a half an hour. She looked through some of my Sea Lab episodes, and then we hugged for a bit. She is always so warm. She had work in the morning though, so she couldn't stay long. I watched her as she walked to her car, and we blew eachother kisses goodbye.

After she got home we chatted online for a bit, and then I asked her to call me in the morning. She hadn't replied for a while, so I figured maybe she was just too tired and went off to sleep.

Ring Ring!

YAY! She called me to tell me good night! Oh how infinitely better that is than just online chatting. She doesn't know it yet, but she's getting a big hug when I see her next. I hope I can spend some time with her before I go home this weekend. Carrot! Crab! Hug monster time!

Note: September 4th, 2002

This is the result of simply sitting in front of the computer, closing my eyes, and writing whatever came to my mind. It is not indented to flow together, or even necessarily make sense. It was not thought out or preplanned in any way. It has also been edited for spelling and grammar, simply because it was originally composed blindly, and could not be fixed as it was written. Hardlinks were also added afterwords, and don't really reflect any part of the thought process (or lack thereof) in this.

I am posting this as a daylog, because that is basically what it is, with some odd modifications. I think posting personal events as daylogs is an excellent way to publish them without unessecarily polluting the nodegel.

This is the beginning of my experience of typing Para nirvana.

I am sitting here, with my eyes closed, and I am pressing the buttons on the keyboard of my laptop. Opus is beside me, and through him the sounds of Noubo Uematsu’s music from Final Fantasy 10 are emitted.

I have always been unable to sleep well at night, and am trying this new method of analyzing my subconscious, and possibly learning about myself. I have a dream that someday I might be able to “meditate” like this, sending all of my thoughts into this miracle box, and then reading them so that I will know what I surely should not be able to. My typing might not be fully accurate without looking, because I was never taught how to touch-type properly, and instead taught myself through the MUD Aalynor’s Nexus.

Anyways, about me. My name is Carl Jantzen, I am a sophomore in high school, and I love computers. I also love a girl named Allie, but due to imperfections in the Human design, I am unable to determine the significance of her feelings toward me.

Behind my eyes all I see is white. The bright blank page is transmitted through the closed, and into my brain. I have visions of the unknown dancing], and I want to describe it but I cannot if I do not even know what it is. I am unsure of what occurs in my own mind.

New song. Something by the Minibosses, Castlevaina?

Today I spent a good deal of time at school, as usual. Jason and I prepared a teddy bear made entirely out of duct tape for his friend Elise. She was dumped by her boyfriend, and it is intended as a consolation present. It’s even brown, covered in the tape that Allie’s mother Emmy gave me for my birthday last year. My birthday is coming up again, although I doubt anybody is going to notice. I don’t always show it, but I do care about my own birthday. Well, I don’t care about my birthday itself, but I do want people to notice. Deep inside I am actually a very insecure person, and I need to know that people love me. If people don’t express that to me, I feel hurt and empty inside.

I believe that that is one of the sources of my many difficulties with Allie; I want her to be constantly expressing her feelings to me, and all that does is cause her annoyment. I don’t know why it can’t be enough that I know she loves me; I don’t know why I need constant verification. If I ever get her back I am going to do everything to make sure that she doesn’t feel in any way annoyed, bugged, smothered, or neglected by me. I will be the perfect boyfriend.

Blink 182: Stay Together for the Kids

I had an idea yesterday; I wanted to animate a CG movie to the Robd music from the Matrix soundtrack. Wanted it to feature myself as a secret agent, delivering flowers to my girlfriend, Allie. But because I was a secret agent, I did it in really secret agenty ways. It would be really cool. Add it to the list of billions of things that I will never complete in my lifetime.

I feel the sweat building between my right wrist and the keyboard, I think this typing might not be the best thing to do before bed. Too bad. I need to let my thoughts out somehow, and this is the best way that I know.

I actually have no idea what effect this will have on my psyche. Maybe it will allow me to purge my brain while I am awake, and remove any semblance of dreaming from my sleeping world. Or maybe it will just cause me to think even more, and increase the frequency of my dreams. It could have no effect, and my pessimistic self believes that this will be the true case.

I admit that I have been peeking at this page on occasion, to see how much I have written or how well I am doing at correct spelling when I do not know where each letter is in front of me. Oh well.

Linkin Park: Points of Authority

Angelica says she enjoys going to the rock concerts by the local bands, so I should find out when some more of them are, so I can can have another excuse for her and Allie and I do go out and spend time together. I want to see The Two Towers with Allie, but I doubt that’ll happen.

Actually, it might. You never know.

I have secret high hopes that Allie will let me take her to homecoming, but I don’t want it to end up like it did last year. Definitely not. Before I ask her to homecoming this year, I will ask her best friend, Angelica, if she wants me to. I will do everything in my power to avoid hurting her.

I just had an idea, I could post these on E2 as a kind of daylog/dreamlog/mindlog? I’m not sure what it would be called, but yeah. It should actually go on my web site, but then it might be seen as an obvious attempt to get Allie to read it and see how I feel about her and manipulate or guilt her or whatever.

I want her to be able to read it, as nothing I have is secret, but I don’t want her to be thinking that I am writing it only for her benefit. This is for purposes of truth. I actually need to go to bed right now. Tomorrow is school, and I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately. I’ve been living on Jolt.

It’s hot in here, I’m going to open the window and activate the fan.

Goodnight Carl. Goodnight World.

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