A trip to the vet


I had to take my cat Frances to the vet yesterday because of a stubborn skin allergy that makes her itch all the time. As always, the trip to the vet was a challenge. I had to change clothes when it was over. Frances is thirteen years old and full of issues. Even though she likes to snuggle up beside me and purr while I lie in bed, her heart normally burns with hatred for all living things. She often screams at me for no reason. When people come to visit, she sniffs them one time and then walks away, making them feel thoroughly unwelcome. I could tell you more bad things about her, but I won’t.

Frances is a solid black cat with intense yellow eyes. You probably don’t know it by looking at the picture up above, but her body is round and plump. She weighs fifteen pounds and waddles when she moves. Not long ago, my friend Angie looked at her and said, “You look like you’re pregnant with a whole bunch of kittens.”

When I first got Frances, she was tiny. I held her in one hand when I carried her home. She stared up at me the whole time, howling and bawling. I assumed she missed her mother. I assumed she would calm down eventually. She didn’t. Thirteen years later, Frances still stares up at me and makes loud, horrendous noises like she’s trying to tell me something urgent … and she’s upset because I don’t understand her. I live under a cloud of guilt, constantly wondering what she’s mad about, wondering why there’s so much frustration in her eyes, wondering what I’m doing wrong. I feed her quality cat food and tuna. I pet her and talk to her. I scratch her back. But she keeps on flooding me with guilt and shame.

Yesterday, when it was time to go to the vet, I scooped Frances up in my arms and carried her out the front door. Right away, her fur stood up. Her tail bristled like a toilet brush. She squirmed and thrashed with unusual strength. I locked my arms around her and held on as tightly as I could. I walked to the driveway and stood beside my car, struggling to open the driver’s side door and maintain my grip on Frances at the same time. It was a tough job. As if the situation wasn’t hard enough, she decided to empty her bladder on me too. She soaked my shirt. And the side of my car.

Putting her inside the car was almost as hard as pushing a rope up a hill. But somehow I managed to do it. Once she was inside, I threw myself into the driver’s seat and jerked the door shut. I pulled out of the driveway and started down the road, gnashing my teeth and grumbling. Frances waddled behind the driver’s seat and hunkered in the back floorboard, screaming like she’d been shot.

She kept screaming all the way to the vet’s office. And I did plenty of screaming too. Over and over, I yelled, “Frances, I’m taking you somewhere to help you. I’m going to pay somebody a bunch of money to make you stop itching, okay? You’re welcome, Frances! You’re welcome, you’re welcome, you’re welcome!”

When we got to the vet’s office, I stumbled into the waiting room, holding her in front of me like a hostage. I didn’t even try to be gentle. I was too irate for that. My shirt was covered in black fur and fresh urine.

I mumbled to the lady behind the counter. I told her my name. I told her I had an appointment. Then I sat down in a chair in the corner, scowling. Frances sat on my lap, huddled against my stomach with her head down. She still despised me, but she was too scared of the waiting room to pull away from me. We both sat there a long time, quietly hating each other.

I go through cycles with Frances. In spite of her wretched disposition, I always love her. I think of her as a mutant roommate, a furry companion who greets me every day when I come home from the mill. The love never goes away. But sometimes I forget that I love her. Then I just think of her as an angry bag of fluid.

Two ladies walked into the vet’s office together and sat down across from me in the waiting area. One lady held a gray tabby cat in her arms, wrapped in a blanket like a baby. The cat’s eyes were half-open. He looked groggy and feeble. The lady holding the cat never spoke at all. She just cried continuously and held the cat against her chest, petting his head the whole time. The other woman leaned forward and whispered to me for few minutes. She told me the cat’s name was Oscar.

It was time to put Oscar to sleep, she said gently.

My heart dropped into my stomach. I bit my lip. I felt sad for them. They weren’t just bringing the cat in for a routine visit. They were bringing him in for the last time. They were saying goodbye to a friend. It was a dark day for them.

I looked down at my own cat. She was lying on my lap like a sack of potatoes. I picked her up and held her close. I stroked her fur and looked into her strange, yellow, alien eyes. I kissed the top of her head. I told her I loved her.

Eventually, the vet called me back to one of the examination rooms. I carried Frances into the room and placed her on a cold, metal table. She looked up at me, meowing softly, sniffing the air. The vet trimmed her claws and gave her a quick shot in the butt.

I paid for the shot and left. Frances and I were both happy to get back in the car. The ride home was much different. We stayed calm and quiet. She didn’t scream at me. I didn’t scream at her. We just listened to classical music all the way home.


Matthew David Curry 2016

Back to school

Last Sunday, I met up with my friend Misty at Johnson Elementary School. We both went to the school when we were kids. Sadly, it’s not a school anymore. It’s just a few empty buildings on the side of the road. No kids, no electricity, no life. All the playground equipment is gone except for a few random pieces of wood. In front of the principal’s office, there’s a flower bed full of weeds – and a dirty old mattress.

In 2001, the teachers and students moved to a brand new facility up the road. Afterward, the old campus became an “alternative school,” a dumping ground for all the unruly kids in the community, the ones who were too evil to attend a regular school. I remember feeling sad when I learned my old school had become a children’s prison. But eventually, the Board of Education stopped using it as an alternative school. They sent all the bad kids somewhere else, I guess. After that, a local charity organization rented the school for a while and stored old clothes and furniture in some of the classrooms – but then they moved on too.

Now the place is a ghost town. Eventually, bulldozers will come and wipe it all away. That’s why Misty and I wanted to take pictures.

The doors to some of the buildings were unlocked. Some of the doors were wide open. And some of the doors were completely gone. We walked freely into all the buildings, wandered down the dark hallways, opened the doors to the classrooms, and peeked inside. I was hesitant to look inside the rooms, but Misty wasn’t. She’s completely fearless. She drives a tanker truck for a living and cuts down trees in her spare time. Nothing scares her at all.

Not all the rooms were empty. We found office desks in some of them. We pulled open drawers and flipped through old books. In one classroom, a TV set was mounted on a wall. In the library, bookcases were still in place – but the books were long gone. In a supply closet, we found giant rolls of colored paper, the kind teachers use for decorating bulletin boards.

Even though there were old desks and supplies here and there, the whole place felt dead and dismal. It was like a tomb.

Except for the gym. As soon as we walked into the gym, we were amazed by the way it smelled. It smelled exactly the way it did in 1991. It had the same metal bleachers on one side and the same scoreboard mounted on the wall. It had the same carpet with those black lines and circles printed on it. Paper cups and pieces of trash were scattered on the floor, but the gym still seemed like a living thing. It seemed like little kids could still have a basketball tournament in there at any minute.

But the longer we stayed there, the more I felt like I needed to get out. This was partly because I was afraid the police might show up and drag us away – although we weren’t doing anything illegal. I had asked the principal of the new school if it was okay to come and take pictures. It was fine to be there. And we didn’t take anything at all. We left everything exactly the way we had found it.

As I thought about it later, I realized why I was itching to get out. I felt like I had trespassed into the wrong decade. At one point in my life, I belonged in those buildings. That was my everyday life. But not anymore. Life has moved on. I belong somewhere else now. I’ve learned that if I reminisce too much, I’ll get stuck in the past. And I won’t appreciate all the good things in my life right now. It’s important to live in the present, to enjoy today.

It felt good to visit my old school, but it also felt good to walk away from it.

Matthew David Curry 2016

Doodles from last week

Last Tuesday, I attempted to do some book illustrations for a friend of a friend. The illustrations were supposed to show the struggles that women deal with each day. I spent about half the day trying to draw a woman squeezing into a pair of tight pants. It didn’t work. No matter what I did, it just looked like an angry woman with her hands on her hips, scowling for no particular reason. Finally, I e-mailed my friend and said, “I’m sorry. It’s not working. Could you get someone else to do these drawings?” She was wonderful about it. She said it was no problem at all, she could find another illustrator.

Even though I hated the way my illustrations turned out, I had a blast while I was doing my little warm-up sketches. I sat on the couch, watching an old VHS tape of The Andy Griffith Show. The episodes were recorded from a local TV station in 1989. They were packed with old commercials. (I also watched a David Bowie concert on YouTube at the same time.) Anyway, I paused the tape several times and drew various people. I drew two bank robbers, Jack Palance, and a lady from a Time Life books commercial. And David Bowie. (I did several other drawings, but I couldn’t cram them all in the photo.)

I’ve spent a lot of time working with Magic Markers this year. Up until now, I was always afraid to use ink. It’s so permanent. Once you make a mark, you can’t erase it or mess with it. It’s there. Forever. But that doesn’t bother me anymore. I get a certain thrill out of it now. It’s so bold and dark and intense.

I hope you’re doing well. Take care.

Miles Davis and short stories


Here’s my little drawing of Miles Davis. The drawing is actually bigger than what you see in the photo, but I didn’t like the way his hands turned out. They were supposed to be clasped together with the fingers interlaced, but they ended up looking like a sloppy bird’s nest made out of old twigs. So I just cropped that part out altogether. But I’m pretty happy with the face. I loved drawing the glasses. I like the overall look of Miles Davis. Serious, intense.

Anyway, I hope you’re doing well, wherever you are in the world.

For the past four years, I’ve been writing and self-publishing books on Amazon. It’s a lot of fun, especially the last one I wrote. I loved watching the characters come to life and surprise me. I even enjoy the proofreading stage of the process ….  although it’s horrendously tedious and gives me six or seven nervous breakdowns and completely destroys my social life. Somehow, that part is still fun too. It’s like solving a giant puzzle. Once the book is finished, it feels good to hold it in my hands and flip through the pages. And it’s good when people tell me they enjoyed reading it.

But the whole thing is time-consuming. Every time I write a book, I neglect everything else. I forget to clean. My apartment begins to look like a crack house. My friends think I’ve forgotten them. Also, it’s hard to get people to notice these books. Every time I send a copy of my book to a critic somewhere, I feel like I’m sticking a note in a bottle and slinging it into the ocean.

So I’m considering a different approach, a new strategy.

I don’t plan to quit writing books, but I do think I’ll focus my energy on writing short stories and sending them to magazines. It would be less time-consuming. I could write little stories and knock them out quickly and get on with my life. And I might get more exposure that way. And maybe make better money.

My newest book, Finding Drake Novak, actually started off as two short stories. Those stories became scenes in the first chapter of the book. This week, I gently extracted those two scenes, edited them a little bit, and turned them back into short stories. And I e-mailed them to magazines. I think I’m going to write some essays too. Funny stuff about everyday life. Observational humor. Stories about ordinary things and lessons I’ve learned and so on.

Do any of you have experience with this kind of thing? Can you suggest any magazines or websites? Or newspapers? Do you have any advice about this?

Visiting David Bowie

A few weeks ago, I dreamed David Bowie hadn’t really died after all. He was actually working as a night shift supervisor at the local textile mill. In the dream, I eagerly drove to the mill at sunset and found him sitting inside a dimly lit office, staring at the wall with his mouth hanging open. I sat down in front of him and handed him my copy of Blackstar. I asked him to autograph it for me. But he just held the record in his hands, gazing down at it like he’d never seen it before. He was dazed and disoriented, like an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home. He mumbled something about cleaning out his office and going home to die. Then I leaned forward and pointed at the record, desperately trying to get through to him. I told him it was his record, that he had made it. He smiled a little bit but didn’t say anything. He was still spaced out and detached.

And that’s how the dream ended. It was disappointing and unsettling … but it was fun to talk to him for a minute. Wish he’d pop up again. I still haven’t gotten over his death.

Anyway, enough of that. Sorry I haven’t blogged much lately. I got busy promoting my new book …. and then I tried to start a comic strip …. but my passion for drawing comic strips isn’t as strong as my passion for other things — like writing books and drawing portraits. I just didn’t have enough fuel inside me to keep pursuing it. Some people (like Carl D’Agostino and Mark Armstrong) have a certain zeal for cartooning. They can keep on creating them without ever getting tired. But I’m not like that. I just shrugged and tossed that stuff in a drawer. Right now, I’m scribbling down some ideas for a new book. I feel good about it.

I hope you’re all doing well in your own little corners of the world, wherever you may be. I hope those of you in Florida are staying cool. And I hope you’re staying warm in Australia, Mabel.



Finding Drake Novak

I hope you’re all doing well. Sorry I haven’t blogged in a long time. I’ve been busy writing a new book. Here it is. It’s a dark science fiction comedy set in the South.

Drake Novak is a pale man with bloodshot eyes and a black suit. He owns a plastic factory in a small town in Georgia. The workers don’t know it, but Drake is an alien who feeds on the misery and suffering of other life forms. The factory is his buffet. But Drake’s feeding frenzy is about to end. Malpheus Mallock, a young policeman from the Galactic Precinct, comes to Earth to arrest Drake. Sadly, his tracking device doesn’t work correctly. He lands in the yard of an elderly couple named Carl and Christine who provide him with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and iced tea. Malpheus struggles to fix his tracking device and find Drake Novak before he destroys the whole town.

If you’re interested, the paperback version is six dollars. The e-book is $2.99. You can click here to order it on Amazon.

Taylor Swift (with cat)

I drew a picture of Taylor Swift a few weeks ago. Just now posting it here. Lately, I’ve been busy illustrating a new book. I’m about to upload it to Amazon soon. It’s a science fiction/comedy/horror novella I wrote during Christmas vacation. It’s a short one. And it’s completely and totally ridiculous.


Jimmy Fallon

Here’s my drawing of Jimmy Fallon. I drew it back in 2014. I can’t remember if I ever posted it on here. I’m about to finish writing a new science fiction novel/nonsense adventure book. I’m planning to do several pencil illustrations for it and publish it on Amazon. I might share some of the illustrations on here.