‘P.S. Your Cat Is Dead’ by James Kirkwood

With everything I have going on in my life right now, my friend Libby could tell I was stressed when I sat down with her at the local Starbucks for a cup of coffee and some friendly conversation.  When she asked me what was going on, I gave her the Reader’s Digest version so I wouldn’t look like I was stumping for sympathy votes.  Sure, the job is rough and hectic with too many long hours, finances are tight, the situation with my roommate is boiling over, and the list goes on.  She knows all of this already, so I responded to her question with something akin to "I’m just stressed, tired, have too much going on, need a break, blah blah blah."

She immediately recommended a book, something to take my mind off of my own worries, something that would help put things into perspective.

What book is that, Libby?

P.S. Your Cat Is Dead is the book, and, lucky for me, she just happens to have a copy she can let me borrow.

So I sit down the other evening to read.  The book is only about 230 pages long, so I knew I could finish it in one evening.  Boy am I glad I did.

Written by James Kirkwood, coauthor of A Chorus Line, the book is an exceptional exploration of life with a darkly humorous twist.  The blurb on the front of the paperback version says it all.

“It’s New Year’s Eve.  Your best friend died in September, you’ve been robbed twice, your girlfriend is leaving you, you’ve just lost your job… and the only one left to talk to is a gay burglar you’ve got tied up in the kitchen.”

Rest assured that the dark humor doesn’t stop there.

I read through this book in only a few hours and found myself drawn so closely to it that I was almost frightened by it’s apparent application to my own life.  Just when you think things can’t get worse, they do.

So I found myself wrapped in this story from stem to stern.  Only after I finished it did I realize it was far more than a dark comedy.

Only recently had I reached a place in my own life where I realized that drastic changes were needed.  P.S. Your Cat Is Dead was the perfect complement to my own realizations as it ultimately boiled down to someone who must lay aside their former self and take a dramatic, drastic step in a different direction in order to keep from going under — mentally, financially, emotionally, and in many other ways.

After I finished it, I felt justified, vindicated, supported and ultimately satisfied.  My recent decision to get my life turned in a different direction — from living arrangements to job to focus to priorities to possessions — suddenly made perfect sense.

I won’t give the details of the story since part of the allure of it is the unbelievable yet very real presentation of life as most of us live it — one catastrophe at a time, wondering when it all ends, wondering where the fun is, hoping we will be allowed to actually live rather than constantly chasing the ethereal dream which we know deep down inside we will never attain.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever thought that it couldn’t possibly get worse.  Thanks to Libby, I read it at just the right time in my life — when it would do the most good.  It helped me to see that my approach to life hadn’t worked and that it truly was time for a change.

Go find a copy and read it.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  I sure as hell wasn’t.

Grendel was a good boy for the vet today

Grendel had his annual exam and vaccinations today.  Another year gone by.  At seven-and-a-half years old, he's in really good health despite his asthma and hip surgery.  In fact, the last time Jenny was over she mentioned how good he looks (mostly in reference to his weight loss after getting off of the corticosteroid and on to the inhaler for his asthma).

Despite growling at the vet for giving him two shots (distemper and rabies, one in each side), he was such a good boy.  He had his temperature taken (a clear violation of his personal space and dignity, but a necessary evil), his weight was taken, he was poked and prodded and forced to endure great hardship for the doctor, but, in the end, he survived with only a bruised ego.

Since I only get their distemper vaccinations once every three years (more than that is over-vaccinating the animal and can be unhealthy), he won't have to endure two shots again until 2007 (although, between now and then, he'll still get his rabies shot once a year).

For being such a good boy at the vet, today will be a treat day — either salmon or tuna or baby food or canned CD or something else equally as yummy.

Gee, I wish I had such a hard life…

Check out my ride, dude

The opportunity finally presented itself for me to get some pictures of my car posted.  There's a new gallery called Lexus IS 300 that has some exterior and interior shots of my awesome ride.

When Lexus announced in the late nineties that they would be releasing the IS 300 in America, I was thrilled.  I had followed the car through its various releases in Europe and Japan with delight as it was the first sport sedan Lexus designed to compete with the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4.  Since Lexus (and Toyota) had been making the best cars for several years and my dissatisfaction with American cars had grown to a deafening roar, the IS 300 was right down my alley.

In late 1999, Lexus announced the IS 300 would be released in America in early 2000 (the 2001 year model).  I immediately ran down to my nearest Lexus dealership, Park Place Lexus, and ordered one.

The IS 300 didn't have many options because it was already a fully loaded car.  The few things I added were the limited slip differential, the heated seats, tinted windows, and a spoiler.  The base model (at the time) already came with the sport seating (perforated leather), full-function moonroof, 17″ alloy wheels with low-profile tires, power front seats, and a whole list of other goodies.

I was disheartened when Lexus delayed the release — several times, I might add — until early in August when I got a call from my salesman at Park Place telling me my car was on the boat.

I was so excited!  I had been looking forward to having one of the first IS 300s in the country since the initial announcement of their pending release here.

On September 7 of 2000, I drove it off the lot and have been thrilled with it since then.  No problems, no road noise, no wind noise, a perfect ride, plenty of power, and service that is second to none has made me a Lexus fan for life.

Of course, now that it's nearly four years old, I'm looking forward to the future release of the new IS models.  Although nothing is definite at this time, take a peak at what AutoWeek had to say about the upcoming models.  My current plan is to wait until I can order a new one, then I'll trade in my current car.  Luckily they retain good value (again thanks to the quality).

But all of that is in the future.  Besides, enough talk, more pictures.

Here are some highlights from the new gallery.

Here's a shot of the dashboard to give you a feel for the interior of the car.  You'll also notice the perforated leather at the bottom of the picture — this covers all of the seating surfaces (provides better grip than anything else I've seen).

My car (137_3798)

If, like me, the driver instrument console caught your attention, here's a better shot of it (with the chronometer-style instrumentation).  I've always thought of it as nice, clean, functional and very cool.


Here are a few exterior shots of the car.


You can see a few more shots (interior and exterior) in the Lexus IS 300 gallery.

Congratulations, Court!

My niece, Courtney, recently competed in the FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) competition at the National Leadership Meeting in Chicago.  She competed against students from all around the US and from Puerto Rico.  I know she's been working hard preparing for this meeting and competition, so it's wonderful to know her diligence paid off.

She started by winning the local and state competitions.  Now she can add the national title to her résumé.  She won the gold at the national level!

Keep up the hard work and dedication, and remember that we all love you and support you in all of your endeavors.


Congratulations, Court!

Thanks for the canned reply, Kay

I recently wrote to my Senator (Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican) regarding the Federal Marriage Amendment (S.J. Res 30, recently shot down through a procedural endeavor by the Democrats and some thankfully moderate Republicans).  I of course wrote to her voicing my staunch opposition to any attempt to ingrain discrimination into the US Constitution.  Apparently she thinks that's actually a good idea.

I'm posting the canned response I received because, not only is it canned, it clearly indicates that dear Kay believes in discrimination, believes it should be ingrained in the Constitution, and believes the lies the Republicans are telling about trying to save marriage and the traditional family by taking rights away from a minority (perhaps she should consider outlawing divorce if she's so interested in saving marriage).

Perhaps, as a woman, Kay has forgotten what it feels like to be a minority with rights taken away from you by government after government.

So, read her response.  It will help you realize how shallow, small-minded, bigoted, discriminatory and hateful she really is.  Oh, and it also shows how she quickly and easily changes her mind regarding federal interference in a state matter.

Dear Mr. so-and-so:

Thank you for contacting me regarding same-sex marriages.  I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.

Marriage laws have historically been the responsibility of state governments, and I generally oppose federal government intrusion into matters of state authority.  Periodically, however, one state's action can have serious and far-reaching implications for other states, particularly because our Constitution requires states to give full faith and credit to the laws of other states.

In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.  I voted for this federal law, and I continue to support it today because I believe the traditional family unit should remain the foundation of our society.  The recent decision by a narrow majority of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court mandating same-sex marriage threatens to overturn DOMA nationwide and effectively make that single state's marriage policy the law of our entire country.

In response, Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) has introduced S.J. Res. 30, the Federal Marriage Amendment, of which I am a co-sponsor.  This bill would amend the Constitution to define marriage in the United States as consisting only of the union of a man and a woman.  Currently, S.J. Res. 30 is under review by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.  When this legislation comes before the full Senate for a vote, I intend to support its passage.

I appreciate hearing from you and hope you will not hesitate to keep in touch on any issue of concern to you.


Kay Bailey Hutchison