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

The check list syndrome

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My psyche is beginning to feel clogged again. That’s the best way to describe the state I’m in right now. I’ve drawn a few pictures I’m happy with and I have some more ideas in mind. But now I’ve reached a point where I’m getting jittery and uncomfortable. This always happens when I pick up the pencil and start drawing again after being away from it for a little while. As soon as I start on one picture, an idea pops into my head for a second picture. And then a third. And then a fourth. The whole time, I’m hastily struggling to complete the first one. It’s like I’m running down a railroad track, desperately chasing a train that’s pulling out of the station.

At some point, I stop enjoying the process. Instead, I become anxious and frustrated about the whole thing. And I don’t feel like I can fully relax until I draw ALL the pictures that are lined up inside my brain. That’s when I start writing check lists. Not only do I write check lists, I chant them silently in my head, especially at work. Over the last few days, I’ve been walking around in the mill, telling myself, “OK, I want to draw that picture of Cassidy next … then Ananya … and then G.E. Gallas. And then I’m going to stop and rest for a while.”

Lately, you see, I’ve been drawing portraits of different people I’ve met on the internet, especially here on WordPress. Not long ago, I drew Piyush Mishra, a blogger who lives in India. I also drew Elena Levon, a Russian lady who dances all over the globe, enjoying one adventure after another.

Anyway, I plan to draw a girl named Cassidy next. And then I want to draw Ananya, one of my new Indian friends. And then G.E. Gallas, an artist/writer/blogger. Then I’ll step back from drawing for a while and take a mini-vacation.

SEE??!!! I just did it again!!!! I can’t stop this stupid chanting!!!!

 

(PS — The picture above is a colored pencil drawing I did in 2010. It’s called “The Rat Race.” It’s the third piece in the “Clockwork” series. It seems appropriate for this post. You can see the rest of them on my Facebook page, Colored Pencil Art by Matthew Curry. And please click here to check out my e-book, Under the Electric Sun. Thank you for taking a look!)

Plane

Early this morning, I dreamed I was sitting on a plane, waiting for it to take off. I was about to go to Germany. There was a stewardess and a few other passengers hanging around inside the plane with me, making small talk and pacing around. The atmosphere was extremely casual. Ridiculous, actually. I hadn’t even bought a ticket yet, but they were still letting me sit there.

Then I pulled out my wallet and counted my money. I didn’t have as much as I had thought, but I did notice a couple of twenty dollar bills, wadded up and crammed in one end of the wallet.

I asked the stewardess how much it cost to ride the plane. I don’t remember what she told me, but the amount she asked for was more than I had. So I got up and shuffled off the plane, feeling embarrassed and bummed out.

In the next scene, I was walking quietly through Kroger with my mother, watching her place items in her buggy. I still felt disappointed.

I need to mention that I went on a school trip to Germany in 1998 and spent three weeks there. I stayed with a family there for two of those weeks. They’re wonderful people. I still keep in touch with them. In my dream, I was excited about visiting them again and seeing all the castles, cathedrals, villages, trains, and ice cream shops.

I’m not sure what the dream meant. But I thought I would write about it here so I can remember it later.

Also, I’m sorry for the sloppiness of these blogs. I used to write for a newspaper, and I was pretty good at writing in a hurry. But that was a long time ago. I still write on a regular basis, but I mostly do fiction now. I believe in the importance of a strong work ethic, but I’m not used to popping out little nuggets like this every day. I generally write something … and then I dilligently re-write it … and re-write it … and re-write it. So I feel embarrassed about the quality of these posts. I’m afraid I’ve been churning out crap for the last three days.

Perspective

I spent most of the weekend in a nearby town called Rome (that’s Rome, Georgia … not Rome, Italy) because my grandmother passed away in a hospital on Saturday afternoon. I’m sad that she’s gone, but I don’t feel comfortable about grieving right here on my computer screen. I do want to mention one strange thing I noticed this weekend, though.

Over the past couple of days, I whiled away many hours in my cousin’s basement, sitting with him and his wife on a worn-out sofa in front of an old gas heater. We told stories and remembered our grandmother while we watched the orange and blue flames dance. My cousin lives in a house that his father built 28 years ago. I remember playing in the house when all the paint was still fresh and leftover pieces of lumber and sheetrock were scattered on the porch. That was a long, long time ago — back when Ronald Reagan was president and “Alf” came on NBC every Monday night.

When I was young (and the HOUSE was young) that basement seemed so much bigger. It was the size of a stadium, I thought. It was so vast. Today, the basement still has the same old concrete walls and the same old wooden staircase in the middle, leading into a passageway lined with pink insulation up above. But it seems so SMALL compared to the way I remember it.

I’ve noticed this same phenomenon in other places too. The cafeteria at Johnson Elementary School, for example, was enormous when I was 10. When I went back to that same cafeteria as a teenager (when my little sister’s class was having a fall festival there) I realized how tiny it really was.

Reality is not what you think it is. Your persception of the world is skewed in ways you don’t even realize. This is something I think about a lot.

I will write more about this tomorrow. I have to go to the store now and find some clothes to wear to the funeral.

Welcome to the Chia Pet Circus….

ImageHello. Thank you for reading. I’m going to keep this first post pretty short because the wi-fi isn’t working very well at my apartment and I was forced to come to Starbucks to get on the internet. I’m not eavesdropping, but I can’t help but hear what the people at the nearby tables are talking about. A few feet away, a couple of girls are talking about flu shots. There’s also a passionate conversation going on in the corner, involving the words “social security” and “taxes.” In addition to the chatter, Paul Simon’s voice is coming from the speakers in the ceiling and someone in the “employees only” room is attacking an ice machine. So … it’s difficult to concentrate …. especially since I can barely concentrate anyway, even when I’m all alone in sweet silence.

My name is Matthew Curry and I’m 33 years old. I live with my cat, Frances, in a dimly-lit apartment in the northwestern corner of Georgia. I have a second shift job in an old textile mill where all the trash cans smell like used chewing tobacco. 

I love to write and draw. I recently finished writing and illustrating a science fiction novel, which will be uploaded to Kindle in the near future. My friend Judy Brooks gave me a lot of fantastic suggestions as I was working on the book and then edited it for me when I was finished. (Well, technically, the book is really NOT finished yet. We’re still fine-tuning it.) Judy also suggested that I start writing a blog to help promote the book.

And here it is.

I do most of my art in colored pencil. I prefer Crayola. I feel like I should work with PAINT instead, because there’s something more serious and respectable about paint, but I don’t feel comfortable about using brushes. They’re not exact enough. So I just stick with colored pencils.

I’m including one of my pictures with this post. This one is called “Clockwork 1.” It’s the first drawing in a series of four. In Clockwork 1, babies are growing on a tree. A robot with a clock for a head is standing under the tree, reaching for one, trying to pick it. The robot and the child appear in each of the Clockwork pictures … but the “child” is a teenager in the second drawing. And he’s a middle-aged man in the third picture. And he’s an elderly man in the fourth. In every drawing, the robot is stalking him.

I have to get out of here now. My nerves are shot.