Friday, July 18, 2008

The joys of cat ownership

I think the guy who does these awesome cat cartoons on YouTube has a surveillance camera inside my apartment. Here's his latest . The difference is, with my cat, it's 7 a.m. and his food dish is entirely full, he just wants to go outside before it gets hot out.

My cat is very sweet in the daytime and I love him when he's not waking me up. But this photo is why I have this cat. About five years ago, I went out into the parking lot of my new apartment building and heard mewing from behind a bush. Upon investigation, this let me pick him up and purred, and I couldn't not take him home. What was I supposed to do?

My childhood dream

I have a confession.

Most of you know this about me, but if you didn't, here goes:

I love the New Kids On The Block. I loved them when I was a kid (some might use the word "obsession") and then grew out of it and stopped listening to their music for about 10 years until one day, in a fit of nostalgia, I bought their "Greatest Hits" CD. I listened to it only in secret when no one else could hear me, but I enjoyed it. I didn't admit this to many people, and I may or may not have occasionally used Google to see what my childhood crushes were up to.

Fast forward to earlier this year when the news came out that the group is reuniting. At first, I thought "Ok ... interesting" and then I found out they were touring. My friend Katie, (who now goes by Kat, but who was Katie when we met) called and said "Dude, we HAVE to go to a New Kids concert." Katie and I know each other because of this group. In 1991, I went to summer camp and met a very cool girl -- Katie -- who had been to a New Kids concert in Reno. My best friend Sara had actually been to the same show, so I knew some details about it. Katie and I bonded over our love for the group — she wanted to marry Jordan Knight and I was madly in love with his brother, Jonathan -- and 17 years, some high school rebellion coupled with grunge/punk/rap phases and several interesting relationship/career/geographic moves later, we're still very close friends. How could I not take her up on this suggestion?

The truth is that the one thing I was still sad about regarding my childhood is that I never saw a New Kids concert. I loved them so much and expended so much energy professing my love (and a lot of stamps mailing every member letters on his birthday), that it didn't seem right that I never saw a show. So when I found out they were coming to the Northwest, I knew we had to go. It's partly nostalgia, it's partly that it's something my friend and I will always have in common, and it's partly how damn catchy the group's new single is, but I was thrilled. I bought pretty good tickets (I did not know about the possibility of spending hundreds of dollars to sit close to the stage and have backstage passes, which is probably a good thing) and treated Katie to a ticket for her birthday. We're taking her best friend. On November 23, we will be in Portland, cheering on our childhood idols. I got myself a T-shirt on eBay and there are plans to make large, brightly-colored signs. Neon paint and glow sticks may or may not be involved in this plan.

I've been trying to hide it, but I don't care. After buying the show tickets, I managed to acquire the rest of their albums on iTunes and through another friend, and I will be honest -- I'm loving hearing the music again. There are some songs I don't like now, and others that I'd forgotten about that are really quite good. I love all the ballads and the cheesy late '80s/early '90s beats are perfect for the pace of my workouts.

I've been attempting to deny this, or to pretend to be embarrassed about my re-love for this group, but I'm going to be honest. I still love them and I don't care who knows it. I won't be plastering my walls with posters again, and my propensity to argue to the point of being punished with anyone who dares criticize the group is long-gone, but I am still loving the music and am thrilled about this concert. I'm every bit as excited as I would have been at 10 years old, but in a calm, collected, grown-up sort of way.

And because I can't resist, this photo reminds me of why I liked Jonathan Knight so much. What a killer smile ...

I'm a grownup

A month too late, I figured I should write about graduation. I got a weekend off work to go down to Eugene to pick up my master's degree -- rather, to walk in the ceremony and get my diploma holder -- more than a month later I still don't have the actual diploma. The trip involved a lot of driving (about a third of which was through the beautiful Columbia Gorge) and after I came back I needed a vacation to recover from my "time off," but it was nice to see some of my friends again and it felt great to get to have my "hood" put on in front of the big crowd at Mac Court. The ceremony itself was pretty standard graduation stuff -- it was just the departmental one, so there wasn't really a speaker, but they gave out a few awards (I didn't get any) and then went through the graduate students and then hundreds of undergrads while those of us who had already gone sat there starving (or, while I sat there starving because the bakery I tried to go to for breakfast wasn't open when I got there and I had therefore not eaten anything). Sadly, I didn't get many pictures -- my parents aren't the type to run up in front of everyone and take a picture of their kid -- so all I have is the photo they took of the big screen and the professional one taken by the company the school hired. It's funny. I'm the type to bring my camera to events and take a million pictures of all my friends, but I never make people take pictures of me at my own big events. I don't have nearly enough photos of me after my hood was put on, and I can't pose for any fake ones because the robe was only a rental. My parents had my camera so I didn't get any pictures with my friends except the one Matt took (see below).

My parents and brother came up to Eugene (rather, my parents came up -- my brother lives there) and went to the graduation and then had to get back rather quickly, so I spent the day after the ceremony with my friend Anna, her husband Josh, and their awesome kid, Avery. He's two and is quite the little genius, obsessed with the alphabet. That's a little copy editor in training. I got to read him the book I bought for his birthday, which was the week before. I hadn't seen the book since I bought it online and had it shipped right to him. The book uses the letters of his name and has a little poem about the other words you can make with those letters ("A is for apple, V is for victory," that kind of thing). I miss hanging out with that family. I can't wait for them to find time to come visit me (hint hint).