Re: the cats

From Facebook:

Zara TabiBill T Sanders: Hey Billy! totally random question… but how did you accquire your cats?

I was going to answer on Facebook, but the reply was so long I decided I might as well post it to my blog.

(Cat #1) Tyler Durden (named after the guy in Fight Club) I got a few months (Around July 2002) after I started working at Petco.  Some asshole walked up to my register with a box, set it on the counter, walked out without saying a word, and then peeled out of the parking lot.

I opened the box and there was this filthy flea-ridden, worm-infested, mangy excuse for a kitten, still probably too young to be away from his mother.  So I had to take him home.  The first week he slept on my back, right between my shoulder blades.  The next week is when the attacks began…

(Cat #2) Kal’El I acquired (around April[?] 2003) when I was living with Mollie.  Tyler was absolutely batshit crazy at this point and she really wanted a puppy but decided she could settle for a “lap cat”.  So we went out and got a kitten (LOL) from someone who was giving them away.  I picked Kal’El because he was just walking around and randomly fell over.

Tyler almost instantly was repulsed by Kal’El.  This revulsion gradually turned into hatred.  He used to grab him by the scruff of the neck and drag him away from the water dish if he tried to get something to drink.

Eventually (I think it was about 3 days later) Mollie realized that kittens make terrible lap cats, and also that they are living terrors in the middle of the night.  So she started closing her door at night, leaving both of them to brawl in the rest of the apartment – including my room, which I wasn’t allowed (by the cats) to leave open.

And breathe

V-day came and went.  Clare requested an extension on her end of it (something she’s making?), citing extenuating circumstances (broken down car, her dad in town bringing a replacement for said car, flu, etc).  That works out ok for me, too, as  I’ve got a day planned for us, but it requires a little leg work that I wasn’t quite prepared to undertake in my plague-racked state.  With that and the recent passing of my birthday, we’re all done with our Winter Rush.  Christmas, New Years/Anniversary, her birthday, Valentines day and my birthday… it can all be quite exhausting.  I think maybe when we get married it should be in August.

In other news, we’re mostly on track to be moving back down to San Diego in early summer.  It’s weird – it’s actually a little scary to be moving back in some ways.  Looking for a job is something I haven’t had to do in a while, and it’s something that will need to happen as soon as I get there.  And in a rough economy at that.  We’ll also have to find an apartment right away.  I’d like to be able to move the cats down the 5 and directly into their next home.  It’s all really complicated and it all kind of has to happen at once.  Ideally It would be best if we had an apartment and jobs lined up so we could move right in… but that would involve taking time off of work and spending it down in San Diego before we move.  Time off of work is money we could be making and saving for the rainy-day fund we’ll obviously need.

I think we’re both also a little worried about fitting in.  We’ve both been up here a few years now (Clare almost 6?).  Attitudes are different up here.  People (at least in Berkeley) are more open-minded about a lot of things (certainly not everyone or about everything though).  And it’s relatively easy to try new things.  Cultures are so much more easily accessible.  The first year I was up here, we went to San Francisco and took part in the Day of the Dead festival.  Last summer we went to an Iranian Pro-Democracy protest rally.  I’ve taken a few yoga classes and no one really bats an eye.  It is strange the things that people can be uptight about here, though.  It seems like more people are less accepting of say two people being in a long term relationship in their 20’s than you would see in San Diego.  Of course San Diego can be uptight (and/or ignorant) about different things.  It will be interesting to see how much it’s changed in the past few years.

I suppose I should probably go ahead and end this.  I have an A+ cert test to prepare for.  Which basically means I need to learn about hardware 20 years old like dot matrix printers and try to memorize tables of CPU pinouts from before the dot-com bubble burst.

Server come, server go

So here we are again.  I’m thinking that this webpage should stabilize out now.  a few weeks ago, my server just started freezing, randomly.  For a few weeks, a reboot fixed it, but now the stupid thing doesn’t even turn on.  I can’t afford to replace it right now, so I’m splitting some stuff up.

I found a decent hosting service where I’m hosting this blog, and maybe eventually a few other services.  I still need to be able to get to stuff at home, however, so I’m also re-purposing an old Dell laptop and converting it into a server for SSH access.

Back in Berk

Been back in Berkeley; back to waking up at 6:30. At least the days are getting longer, though. Still seeing beautiful sunrises, just coming into them a little later. Christmas was really nice, Clare and I got like 6 cookbooks for Christmas, which is pretty cool. I’ve been cooking a lot more lately, and really fun stuff, like Thai coconut soup and such.

It was nice being in San Diego again – it really felt like coming home for the first time in a while. It probably helps that we drove around a bit with the intention of looking at places we might like to live. It looks like we’ve decided we’d like to live somewhere in North Park or that area. That will be pretty sweet if it happens – we’d only be about 15 minutes from the beach. We went to La Jolla on our little excursion, and watched a guy on a boogie board zipping around the waves and Clare declared (teehee!) that was what I ought to be doing when we come back to SD, which sounds great to me. I think she’s going to actually buy me a boogie board for Christmas, lol. Caught a great sunrise with a few dozen random onlookers.

So what about Berkeley and the Bay Area? I’ll miss things about it. I’ll miss that I can (mostly) rely on public transportation. Riding BART has been very… interesting… at times, and at other times frustrating. But on the whole I appreciate it quite a bit. I’ll miss Halfmoon Bay and San Gregorio beach. I hope Clare and I can make at least one more day trip to San Gregorio before we leave. That beach has a very strong and personal connection for us. I love how it just goes on and on for miles, and on some days you won’t see another soul on it for half an hour. It’s not like any other beach I’ve been to. Magical things seem to happen there.

There’s a sort of hardy loneliness to it. The sand is fine, like good Southern California beach sand, but… crunchier. People build huts out of driftwood logs and branches. Shells, sea glass, driftwood are all scattered along the shore. Cliffs jut straight up and run along the coast for miles in either direction, dotted with caves. When the tide rises you’re physically separated from other parts of the beach. In some places, between the cliffs and the shoreline, the sand forms dunes and valleys where you can just disappear.

Berkeley mornings in the Fall

Of course, I started writing this a week ago, and we’ve had our daylight saving time switchover since then.  My mornings lately have been a very intense yet calming time for me.  My commute gives me plenty of time to reflect and relax.


I get up in the middle of the night and stumble into the shower.  Sometimes, if I’m lucky, the water stays hot until I can start to see the first lights of morning.  However, it usually only does this if I’m running very late.  I get out of the bathroom and walk carefully to my dresser lest I punt an overly affectionate (or lazy?) cat.

It is still dark.

I fumble around for clothes and quickly dress, dodging and shushing whining cats who complain that they haven’t eaten in at least they don’t even know.  Clare turns in bed and I stop, holding my breath like a burglar who has just heard someone returning two hours early.  I wait for her to settle back in and I exhale.  She goes back to sleep as she always does, but we repeat the same dance tomorrow. Stand up, stumble, tiptoe, step to the side, say ‘shhh’, turn, stop, exhale.  She wakes up every morning, but I don’t know if she realizes it.  Just the same, every morning I try not to wake her.  Sometimes I’ll stop and watch her for a moment. No one sleeps as beautifully as her.

I move into the front of the apartment, and the cats race ahead of me.  It’s usually light enough to find the catfood, though I still have to squint around to see where they’ve hidden their dishes.

Everything is low contrast – all dark shades of blue.  I put on my backpack, grab my keys and step into the crisp air outside.  My self and the falling leaves are the only moving things as I walk through a steel blue dawn backdrop.

Every twenty houses or so, a cat gravely watches me from a doorstep.  I always call to them, but they never acknowledge me.  Cats seem more serious at dawn.  They stand at attention on patio steps as if they had been there all night, guarding their homes from the dark.

Now I’m just starting to see sunlight reaching over the tops of the hills.  Everything is still blue, but there is more and more of a life to it.  Others are walking with me, now.  The quiet morning seems to dominate people’s moods; there is a quiet rush, glances may be exchanged, but nothing more.

I’m nearly to the BART station, and signs of life are starting to show, slowly.  Cars move quickly along the streets, tearing through the tranquility of the morning.  I board my train, suddenly finding myself standing in a throng of people.  The train plunges us back into darkness, and for 15 minutes I fight internally trying to convince myself that it is still morning.

And finally we shoot out of the tunnels beneath Oakland and up into the full morning.  The Sun has cleared the hills now, but is still nestled among the fog, creating a fiery golden glow.  The blue fog is just starting to scatter, giving the whole landscape a mystical feeling.

What purpose in these deeds oh fox confessor please?  It’s not for you to know, but for you to weep and wonder. – Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood