la Ketch

my life story

Thursday, August 31, 2006

a bit about Rats

Like many New York Newbies, when I first moved to the city, I became obsessed with rats. Rats and pigeons actually but my fear surrounded the rats. The pigeons triggered mostly disgust. The pigeon disgust sprouted from an experience I had in my sublet wherein I made the huge mistake of opening the window to the airshaft to “let some air in” the suffocating kitchen and found what can only be described as a pigeon grave yard. I honestly believe that this is where all of the pigeons of New York City go to die, in the air shaft of that building I first lived in. Proof was sitting on the widow sill directly in front of me in the form of, yes you guessed it a decomposing dead pigeon complete with worms crawling all over it. I got a big stick and shoved it off the ledge. The sound of it dropping to the ground with a wormy thump will never leave me as long as I live. I then scrubbed the windowsill for thirty minutes with dish soap and Clorox and a wire brush while sort of crying and whining and hyperventilating and feeling like there were 10,000 worms crawling on me. The other pigeons, the ones that were still alive but had come to die, watched on. They were next. Good riddance.

I couldn’t believe that square in Venice when I saw it on my honeymoon, all of the pigeons, so many fucking pigeons and the tourists feeding them and letting them (gag) perch all over their bodies. Why not let rats crawl all over you?

Yes, rats. I didn’t come here to talk about the pigeons. I came here to talk about the rats. Of course I hate rats. Who doesn’t hate them? But unlike pigeons, I have a respect for them. I respect them because they are intelligent and because they are intelligent (and aggressive and filled with disease) I fear them. When I first moved to the city, they were all I could talk about. At any gathering, I would corner whoever was dumb enough not to walk away from me and drill them about rats. Were they afraid of them, did they have an experience they could share, did they suspect, like I did that the rats were organizing, etc… A lot of people here do enjoy this conversation. Like me they enjoy hashing over worst case scenarios (having to evacuate a subway and feel them crawl over your feet), dissecting their nightmares. It’s part healing, part self torture. Fine line there, a line I crossed one too many times. After a while, no one wanted to talk about rats with me anymore. I started becoming hysterical about them.

One night, my good friend Jaedra was in town visiting from Seattle and we had gone to see, “True West” on Broadway. This was when I was at the height of my hysteria. We were standing in the long line of the women’s restroom in the basement of the theatre when we heard a woman scream from inside. I then looked down and saw what I thought was a huge rat coming toward me. I screamed even louder and grabbed the woman in front of me, a complete stranger, and threw her down on the ground in front of me, then I fell down on top of her. Thank god she was understanding. She was shocked but I explained to her that I had a horrible rat phobia and I thought I saw one running toward me. It turned out that the woman who screamed has seen a cockroach, one of those big “water bugs” in one of the stalls. It hadn’t coming running out into the line though, nothing had. I hallucinated the entire thing. Jaedra was laughing uncontrolably. I was mortified. The woman was so shocked. She kept saying, “You really took me down there!” It was horrible.

I haven’t thought about rats in a while but The Gallivanting Monkey's recent situation has inspired me to ponder them again. I have rats on the brain now and I have to get them out. My first encounter with them actually occurred when I was about 8 years old, living in Southern California. We had a huge wall of Ivy in our backyard and it turns out that rats love Ivy and they were “nesting” there. Doesn’t that word make you want to rip your skin off? Be warned, I will use it again. The only way to rid yourself of the fear is to face the fear. The rats were nesting in the Ivy alright. This started to become apparent when we noticed them making themselves at home in our house. One night, I was sitting in our TV room with my sister. I was in my dad’s chair and my sister was sitting on the couch and she looked over at me and started crying. I was like, “What?” And she was like, “There’s a rat on your head.” I didn’t believe her until it ran down the arm of the chair and under the couch. It wasn’t actually on my head but it had crawled up the back of the chair and sat on the top of the chair just over my head so it looked like it was on my head. My dad got us out of the room after he heard the screams of bloody murder and then he locked himself in with a baseball bat. It took about 30 minutes of thumping and smashing and swearing but eventually, he killed the fucking rat with the bat. After that, he became obsessed with the rats. Maybe this is where it comes from? He would make these crazy traps with his fishing pole that would catch the rats live. When one was caught a bell would ring and we would all run out back and look at the live rat squirming at the end of the pole, my dad beaming at his conquest. Ahhh, memories. Eventually, we got rid of the Ivy and killed the rats with poison and they didn’t return.

When I got to New York, I started noticing the rats on the subway platform when I would take the L train in the morning. It’s one thing when they are down on the tracks but when they are up on the platform, it’s really disturbing. When you see more than one rat on the subway platform and it seems obvious that they are holding some sort of meeting, well then you take the bus.

One of my favorite New York Rat Stories (everyone who has ever lived here has one) comes from my friend Paul who exhibited super human strength when he saw upwards of 15 rats running toward him on a subway platform where he was standing alone waiting for the train one night. This was back when the turnstiles were lower and flat on the tops and he actually leapt up in one sweeping motion and LANDED on the turnstile, one foot on each side, in order to get away from them. He says he doesn’t know how he did it. He thinks it’s an adrenaline thing, like when a mother lifts a truck off her baby to save it's life except that the truck was those rats and he was the baby. Once he got up there he turned around to find the station attendant laughing at him from inside her booth. “I know honey,” she said, “I’m dealing with them every night.” He called the station manager who actually returned his call explaining that they were doing construction down the street and they seemed to have, “disturbed a nest.” I told you I’d say it again.

It’s true that rats are very intelligent and it’s also true that they live in very structured communities. Many of the rats never even leave the nest for food. They have it brought to them. Some of the rats never see the light of day. The rats we see are the lowly rats, the gopher rats, the rats sent out to get the food for the others. And if you see a rat during the day time, then you know you really have a problem because they are nocturnal and if they are out foraging for food during the day then there’s probably a lot of them. I’ve learned most of what I know about rats from reading this book: RATS (observations on the history & habitat of the city’s most unwanted inhabitants) by Robert Sullivan. This is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. No joke. The guy is a really great writer and I highly recommend reading it. You’ve probably already heard about this book, it got quite a bit of buzz when it came out but just in case you need a refresher; the author lived in an alley infested with rats for one year and wrote about it. Well, he didn’t really live there but he spent every night there watching them, chronicling them. His girlfriend was not so into his pursuits. I think he is the bravest person I have ever heard of.

The result is fantastic, totally gripping. It reads partly like a horror novel and partly like a history book. He goes through the history of rats and the history of New York City while weaving in and out of time spent in “his alley”. He doesn’t go so far as to name the rats but he does begin to recognize one over the other. Then, in the middle of the year, in the middle of the book, Sept. 11th happens. He can’t get down to the rats for a while but he is in close contact with all of the exterminators in the city because he has befriended them and interviewed them for his book. Let me tell you something that the newscasters didn’t. Those exterminators prevented a huge, huge catastrophe after Sept. 11th. You think it couldn’t have gotten worse? Oh, it can always get worse. They acted quickly and baited heavily enough that they were able to stop the rats from basically taking over all of downtown Manhattan. Although, they probably would have had the World Trade Center rebuilt by now, it wouldn’t have been a place you’d want to visit.

The only way to get rid of the rats is to take away their food source. You can poison them and kill off a lot of them that way but to completely eradicate them you have to stop feeding them. This will never happen in New York City. It’s impossible. Rats multiply very quickly. They fuck like bunnies. No, they fuck like rats. They breed like bunnies. After Sept. 11th, with all of those abandoned buildings and ladies and gentleman, all of that rotting food, so much food, those rats would have multiplied into a full blown black plague epidemic. Luckily, they didn’t. The citiy's exterminators acted fast and prevented it and they all deserve medals of honor.

I learned a lot from reading this book about rats, about history, about humanity but mostly I learned about myself. It a widely known fact that the more you know about the thing you fear, the less you will fear it and that is why when I heard about the book I knew I had to read it. All of my worst fears about rats were confirmed. Yes, they bite. They bite people and they carry disease. Not only do they bite people but they especially tend to bite babies. They bite them because babies tend to have food and milk and stuff on their skin and clothing and they smell it. They bite babies on the face whle they sleep and there are many accounts of this happening in New York City.

So Gallivanting Monkey, if you were reading this, and I know you aren’t, this is where I would tell you that you did the right thing in taking your baby out of that rat infested house. Of course, you don’t need me to tell you that but I would tell you anyway! Because that’s what I do, I tell people things.

This is, in my personal opinion, the worst thing about rats. The biting babies part of their personality. But now I know the worst and I can face it. I’m much, much, much less afraid of rats since I’ve read this book, even knowing what I know now. It’s a relief to say the least. When I see them, I still hate them. I still think, “you little fucker(s).” But I don’t have knee jerk hysteria and try to drag people in front of me, putting them in between me and something only I can see.

Well, I haven’t done that in a while anyway.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Fame Motive

this little blurb was in the times last week. OUCH.

i think i've made serious progress in letting these notions go over the past few years but still, my chest was aching as i read it and my shoulders ended up at my ears. ugh. to look deep into the mirror of one's soul... what does it do to you?

Friday, August 25, 2006

This just in...

la Ketch has been linked by Urbaniak! Holy cow sweet jesus. It's going to be a fun day. I have single handedly turned my husband into the newest nemisis of Voucher Ankles (there are many). Will Dup be the new Josh Emery? I doubt it but one thing's for certain, my stats are about to go through the roof. Don't forget to read the Acid Queen Stories while you're stopping by la Ketch dear Voucher Anklets!

Good God. I think I was sort of secretly hoping this would happen...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lu Lu Eightball by Emily Flake

(Click Comic for Larger View)

Zu Zu's Petals

Huloo. I haven't had time to blog because I've been working so hard on my novel. Heh, heh. Just kidding. I've been busy at work. This is true but it's never stopped me before. I've been uninspired? Maybe. I feel so angry today. I'm super busy and everyone is just driving me insane. Anytime anyone asks me to do anything, I snap and scowl. I've yelled at customer service representatives. I have lost my cool. I'm trying to reduce my stress levels but today I am failing. How do people get what they want without totally freaking out on people? It's always been my way. I get stern and snide and out smarty. Mean. I get mean.

A lot of people in New York work this way, which is why I think I feel so at home here but I'm trying to be different. My question today is, "what to do with all of this anger?"

It's really a question for the non-angry people out there: Do you just not feel it (the anger) or are you putting it somewhere and if you are putting it somewhere, where exactly are you putting it?

NOW Here's some fantastic news: Dup booked a commercial, ending a three year dry spell with a National Verizon Spot. YES! thank you jesus.

Many of you may know that the "Verizon Guy" aka "Can You Hear Me Now" Guy is a good friend of ours but Dup getting this commercial is a crazy coincidence. It's super crazy because not only is our Verizon Guy friend in the commercial but Dup is playing "The Imposter Verizon Guy". He is dressed up like him with the jumpsuit and glasses and everything, pretending to be him. It's too weird. What are the chances?

Another thing: not only did Dup book the commercial, he beat out favorite down-town theatre / indy film star / star blogger URBANIAK. Scroll down to his Thursday, August 17th entry about his audition. (I can't figure out how to link right to the entry). Don't cry for Urbaniak! He's doing ok and his wife just had adorable twins. Yes, Urbaniak is fine.

And it's awesome news for Dup and la Ketch! Of course there's no money in the bank yet. It has to run for the money to get into the bank. Please watch for it and let us know if you see it because everytime they play that commercial, an angel gets its wings.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Have you called yourself lately?

A couple of nights ago I was sitting at the computer desk at home apologizing to Dup for something I had done. I can’t remember what it was, something not so terrible. My apology was weak. I was like, “I’m so sorry. I really am.” I was being a little sarcastic.

Then Dup picked up my cell phone, which was sitting in front of me and said, “Now call yourself and forgive yourself.” He said it with the sincerity of a self help guru. I started laughing and then he went on,
“Dial number one for a change.”


I can't tell you how immeasurably this small piece of advice has changed my life for the better.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

the point

No more excuses. The weather is good. I have the evening to myself. Of course there’s a lot to do. I should scrub the kitchen floor. I should make these curtains I’ve been meaning to make but enough has been done that I can s...l....o....w....d....o....w....n. For a moment, I can stop. That will be okay.

I have spoken many times on this blog about my propensity for living in a state of anticipation. I found myself there today. I was really spinning my wheels in it:

Once this is done, then ..... Once I’ve finished this task, then.... Once this has happened, then.....

THEN WHAT LA KETCH!? THEN WHAT!? Then you can stop all this madness and crack a cold one? Well how about right now, huh? It’s a sunny, arid, sunday summer afternoon in Brooklyn and it doesn’t get much better than this.

I must blog! I must share my good mood with you all! No, you don’t have to thank me. Thank YOU. For heaven’s sake, you’re the one taking the time to listen to me say absolutely nothing. No, no, I have a point. I think I’ll get to it. I hope that I will.

When you move into a new place, even though you already have a bunch of stuff, it usually doesn’t completely fit into the new place exactly right. There’s too much of something and not enough of another. In our new place it’s mostly not enough. It’s not enough couch, not enough blinds, not enough closet, not enough patio furniture, not enough barbeque, not enough somewhere to put the *$#!@ microwave. So on top of shelling out all of this dough to move (first, last, deposit, broker fee, moving van), we’ve also had to BUY A BUNCH OF CRAP. Lord alive, I do love to buy me some stuff. It has been more fun than I’m willing to admit to myself but also, stressful because you know, out of money...

Dup and I are the same in many ways but also in many ways we are the complete opposite. I am a doer and he is an observer. I am a spender and he is a saver. It’s a delicate balance that works well for the most part but must always be closely monitored. I must constantly ask myself, “have I pushed him too far?” And he must constantly ask himself, “what is she up to now?”

Dup didn’t want to move. This is no secret. I have been pushing for it for over a year. I wanted a backyard. I had to have one. “If we are going to live in this city for five more minutes, then I must have a backyard,” I said. Dup hates change. He loved our little place (I did too but I was over it). He also romanticizes the past like nobody’s business. In his mind our old apartment is now a eutopic paradise to which he longs to return. It’s been a hard transition for him. I know in my heart that once this place is completely put together he is going to look around and be really glad we moved. Not quite there yet. Getting closer.

The thing I wanted to talk about is this list Dup and I make. It’s called the “Need / Want” list and it goes on the fridge. We did this when we first moved in with each other, at our last apartment and it worked really well. On one side, in order of importance, is the list of things we need and on the other... I think you can guess what’s on the other side. We’re not supposed to get anything from the want side until all of the needs are gotten. On the need side are things like: couch, microwave-stand, blinds. On the want side are things like: barbeque, get painting framed, pony.

It’s a great system except that I keep making purchases off the want side and sometimes I add things to it in an impromptu way without consulting dup or actually writing them on the list. I have this other list in my mind. For instance, I have been wanting a 1950’skitchen table and chairs for a while. This is not on the list. I mentioned this to a friend and she told me that she saw a 1950’s table and chairs at the junk store in our neighborhood for $100. I know about how much they go for and this is a good price. Now I can not stop thinking about them and how once I own them and place them in my kitchen, I can finally be truly happy. The thing is, we have a kitchen table and chairs. I hate them but they work. You can sit in the chairs and you can put food on the table but in a very non-cute way. I've always kind of hated them but now, in the new space. Ugh.

So, I’ve been basically working my voo doo on the dupster all week re: these table and chairs and last night, I finally got him to say that we could get them. I wouldn’t let up until I found a way in and now it’s mine if I want it. Whenever I get in this mode, this “I want something and if you say I can’t have it, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to get it. It means that I’m going to find another way to get you to give it to me” mode, Dup likes to compare my behavior to my mother’s. It’s true, I am EXACTLY like her in this way and there are many stories about my mother to illustrate this. All Dup has to say is, “this is just like the orange trees.” And I’m stopped dead in my tracks. The orange tree story distilled is the time my mom wanted to move the orange trees we had for years from the backyard to the front yard and my dad refused to do it because he LOVED those orange trees and he liked them in the back but one time he went on a fishing trip and she had them moved to the front and they died within a week and he never forgave her. Yes, it’s a sad story.

I was telling my mom about my dilemma with the kitchen set. I was like, “mom, we need all this stuff but I keep wanting to buy stuff we don’t need.” Then I told her about the table and chairs and how cute they are and she’s like, “Well, you just need to make him think it’s his idea to get the table and chairs.” Which is a very old trick that I know all too well but I knew it wouldn't work in this situation, “Yeah but he gets so upset. I mean he just hates to spend money.” And she started telling me how my dad was exactly the same way. I know this already but she reminded me. She told me that the way she hurt my dad the most was by spending money carelessly and then she pulled out this freaking whammy, “It took me years to realize that the best way to show your dad my love for him, was to save money.”

I can not tell you how at the exact same time that makes so much sense and yet seems like the hardest thing ever in the world to me. SAVE? MONEY?! Is that French or something? I love my husband and I am constantly trying to think of ways to show him but je ne parle francias, if you know what I mean.

I’m not getting the table and chairs. He said I could get them but I won’t. That is how giant of a person I am. I spent the money instead on some bamboo fencing that will hopefully stop the mosquito breeding, no shirt wearing, Tom Jones listening, big bellied, drunk, INSANE neighbor from screaming obscenities at my dog. The fencing went on the “need” list on Friday after an incident that you can probably imagine from my description of the guy. It’s a bit of a problem...

My point. MY POINT. I wanted the apartment. I looked for it. I found it. Now, here I am typing away at my computer from the very apartment I wanted so badly, searched for mercilessly. And so, I’ll let myself be happy. I don’t need anything. I don’t have to do anything. Ok, I’m probably going to scrub the kitchen floor and make some curtains before I go to bed but I will ENJOY doing it.

And THAT’S the real point of it all, isn’t it? Yes, I think it is.