The other blog

Good evening. I hope you’re doing well. I’m battling a sinus infection this weekend. But that’s okay. I’ll get over it. I’ll be fine. (Or I’ll die on the sofa covered in Kleenexes and old TV Guide magazines.)

Anyway, I’ve started a second blog. It’s called The Publishing Parlor because that’s my nickname for my home office. If you’re a WordPress blogger, please don’t follow this new blog. It will be mostly samples of my books with links to them on Amazon. I’m going to post a handful of samples every single day. Each post will be tagged with words and phrases like “Amazon” and “fiction” and “summer reading.” Hopefully, people will be more likely to stumble across me in search engine results. It’s like an ongoing commercial for my books. On the internet.

If you follow The Publishing Parlor blog, it will clog up your reader. Or your inbox. And it will annoy you. Because you’ll see lots and lots of book clips. Over and over and over again. And many of them will be repeats. Trust me. It’s not a normal blog. It’s not something you want to follow. I’m just telling you to save you some time and frustration.

Peace, love, and cough syrup. Happy Memorial Day, people of the internet.

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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

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.

Cheers.

 

How to Make an Artist Miserable

My new book is on Amazon now. The Kindle version will be free August 1 – 5. This one isn’t fiction. How to Make an Artist Miserable is a journal/essay/tirade about some of my frustrations as an artist — and how I’ve learned to overcome them. Like people assuming I work on a “for hire” basis and requesting giant portraits of their children, for example. Over the last few years, I’ve actually found a way to deal with those people. I no longer draw pictures I don’t want to draw. It’s very liberating.

You can click here to learn more.