my heart gets broken once a month.
at the beginning of each month i apply flea prevention medicine to the nape of my cat's neck. she hates it, with good reason i'm sure. the treatment seems overly toxic, unhealthy, but the fleas have been so terrible and i can think of no other way to prevent the pests from taking over my house, making us both miserable. therefore, monthly, my puss gets her pest potion and i get dirty looks and scratches. her yellow eyes narrow and she will not let me touch her. she becomes desperate to get outside. so i let her escape out the window into the wild where she can cool off away from my well-intentioned abuse.
my cat genevieve and i live alone. for this day every month, genevieve gets pissed at me and disappears outside, and it's just me in the apartment. luckily my apartment is pretty small; i'm not bouncing around some huge empty house. it's a studio apartment, big enough for one.
i've got a kitchen large enough to fit a table. there are maps on the walls: the united states, oregon, alabama (the state in which i was raised,) and portland. the fridge is covered in photos and mailings from my sister and my friend rob, a postcard with a bow wow album cover from andrew, and drawings my seven year old cousin created for me and my sister. in one drawing he has depicted himself, my sister evian, and me, labeled with our names. next to our figures he has drawn a black blob with two eyes and four legs hanging by a squiggly string. we asked, "why did you draw this spider here?" and my cousin responded, "that's evian's dog! i didn't know how to draw her tail." we agreed tails are hard to draw.
the rest of my apartment (aside from my bathroom) consists of a single room which serves as living room, bedroom, and study. i have arranged the furniture to segment the room slightly: couch and tv, bed and nightstand, desk and armchair and shelves. it's large for a studio apartment, but i've packed it in. there's plenty of space to move, but sometimes it does seem crowded. and maybe it only seems comfortable because at 5'7" and 125lbs i'm a pretty small guy. the walls are bare and white, which i like, but i've filled the room with tchotchke: the red plastic lunchbox with a lion painted by paul wilm on it; the big penis book and a pegasus figurine sent to me by my sister; the pokey little puppy, a favorite book of mine; a crystal growing kit rob gave me; a small tin painted with babies in which i keep condoms; a glow-in-the-dark rosary my friend ali brought back from spain. books are piled up everywhere: there are three on the bed, magazines by the sofa, books to read later next to the shelf and on my desk. all these things probably just add to the sometimes overwhelming feeling of the room, but it all makes me happy. i can't get rid of it. i like looking at that lunchbox and remembering that my sister gave it to me, that paul wilm painted it, and my sister and i have been obsessed with paul's band the nowhere squares since we were seventeen. sometimes i think this attachment to objects must seem infantile to visitors, but i can't imagine living any other way.
i have windows facing west and north, so the plants don't get as much light as they'd like, but they seem to be happy enough. if i remember to water them. i love my house plants; it makes me happy to watch them grow, to wake up to their green patterns, but i don't tend to them well enough. there's the christmas cactus rapidly regrowing from when it almost died last year. three pots with succulents in the window. the jade plant grown from a cutting owen gave me a year and a half back. the aloe plant with two plantlets that need to transplanted. the avacado tree shoot i grew from a pit this winter - it needs a home in a larger pot immediately. and the spider plant a coworker brought me which has fallen over and started growing sideways for some reason.
my windows are always open, so usually the flat is filled with the white noise of th wind in the bamboo trees outside, the sound of the cars headed up and down n. albina, and the shrieks and laughter of the kids living at the anarchist house across the street. the house seems noisiest though when it's messy. my apartment is sometimes more like a staging ground than a barrack. i come home, dump everything i've brought with me in my arms, peel off my clothes to change, maybe prepare something quick to eat, feed the cat, and it's out the door, down the street to john's house or amnesia or bar bar. in the past few weeks, except to sleep, i haven't been home for more than thirty minutes to an hour at a time.
it's summer. i want to be out in the sun, with friends, drinking and biking and finding our way through the city to the river. i did not want to be home, alone, rattling around my cluttered cage. but i need to spend more time at home with genevieve. tomorrow she'll have forgiven me, or will at least be hungry enough to come home and eat breakfast. even if those who know me may say i've grown up and grown jaded or bitter or irresponsible or apathetic, my little kitten has sweetened, calmed down, grown affectionate. tomorrow morning, after her breakfast, my cat will climb in my lap and purr and i'll read a little before stepping out to get coffee across the street at the albina press.