Life

When I moved to San Francisco I had to re-home my cat Catullus. He went to my Uncle Mao, so I know that he had a good life. But I’ve wanted another cat ever since. In fact, I remember in a therapy session maybe about eight years ago, my therapist asked me what I wanted out of life. All I wanted was a job that I enjoy that pays well, and a cat.

One perk of moving to Philadelphia was that Ryan and I would be able to get pets without worrying about landlord issues. Bogie came to us by chance on a visit to the SPCA on our very first day in Philly. We saw him, we met him, filled out paperwork, and we had adopted a puppy in a few hours. When I asked about getting a cat as well (I fell for a few hard that day…), the SPCA suggested waiting until Bogie was older, so that he would have training and impulse control.  Bogie is 10 months old now, so it seemed like now or never as far as adding another animal to the family.

I’d been creeping on Petfinder on and off since April of last year, and a few weeks ago I started looking again in earnest. Ryan wanted me to consider getting a kitten so that it would grow up with Bogie, but my dream was to rescue a fat male adult orange tabby who was especially sweet.

I found a few rescue cats that I was interested in, but I wanted to meet them in person instead of applying first. Why invest all the time passing adoption screening when you haven’t even met the cat yet? So I decided to hit up the shelters on February 1 (Saturday). Philadelphia being the sports crazy town it is, the shelters were running a Super Bowl pet adoption promotion – $25 off adoptions at the SPCA, and all adoptions FREE at ACCT. I guess the promotion worked, because the SPCA and ACCT were pretty bare compared to when I’d last visited in July. I didn’t have a love connection with any cat, and surprisingly went home empty handed.

That afternoon I applied for a cute kitten named Max. The adoption application took about 30 minutes, which was a surprise to me. They wanted me to describe my situation (rent or own, do the windows have screens, backyard?, who lives in the house, how old is everyone, any dogs?, what are their personalities and training history, list your past pets and how they died…) explain what I’d do in so many various scenarios (have to move, get pregnant, lose job, etc). And they wanted to inspect my house, call 3 character references, and my vet.

Max the cat
Max

The rescue was a volunteer operation, so I didn’t hear anything back for a few days. Several days later (Monday) I had to go downtown to get my laptop fixed. Afterwards, since I had kitty fever, I visited Morris Animal Refuge, which claims to be America’s first animal shelter.

I met this absolute cutie named Sebastian, but it wasn’t a good fit. He had been surrendered by his owner for playing too violently with his kitty sister, and was not dog friendly at all. He even hissed at a dog that passed by his cage.

Sebastian the cat
Sebastian

While I was there, I was trying to chat up a lady that came after me, who was just looking for “a cat.” She saw me playing with Sebastian, and met him right after me. When I went to pet him again, I heard her in the background talking to the adoptions officer. She was interested in adopting Sebastian, and the officer explained that adoptions were  “first come, first serve.” I stepped into the lobby to find her furiously filling out paperwork. I asked her if she’d “fallen in love.” She said yes, but she wouldn’t tell me which cat it was. She was trying to adopt that cat from right out under me!! It was hilarious. And cut-throat, really.

When I got home, I applied for another cat I was interested in – Sir Walter. He was a snuggly fat orange cat who was ok with dogs. Bingo! And unlike a kitten, I was really saving a life.

The cat rescue got him from ACCT, where he was surrendered by his previous owner. His original name was “Fat Cat” and he  was 6 years old, 17 pounds, flea-infested with matted fur, not microchipped, and had never seen a vet. The owner even thought the cat was female! The owner took him in when a neighbor left him out on the street when they moved. After two years, the owner had to move as well, and couldn’t keep him.

The application took me about 40 minutes to complete, but the rescue that was fostering him (Whiskers of Love) was much more responsive, and I heard back that day that my application would be processed in 24 hours.

The next day (Tuesday) I was approved! I could go meet him a few days later, and if it was a match, bring him home. So I withdrew my application for Max.

Friday Ryan and I took a Lyft about 30 minutes out to a pet store in Northeast Philadelphia. We met Sir Walter, and that was it. He was just as sweet and docile as could be. They had him on a cat harness, and we walked him around the shop! I knew that he was just right for our family.

Going home

We’ve had him for three days now, and he’s been great. Totally chill with Bogie, and very quiet, doesn’t meow at all (Bogie doesn’t bark at all either, super weird). He just loafs around and purrs. He never complains, even when you’re washing him. You can pick him up, put him in your lap, and he’ll just stay there for endless pets. I love him already. I went back and forth on names for a few days (because Sir Walter was REALLY good), but have decided on Seymour. He’s named after another chubby yet gentle ginger – Philip Seymour Hoffman. 🙂

Seymour getting comfy
Usurper!!!
Just loafin’ around
Zzzzz….

Not friends yet, but it’s progress!

Oh, last point – I was pretty hesitant about adopting through a cat rescue, worrying that I wouldn’t make it through the picky adoption screening gauntlet, but Whiskers of Love was great. The foster mom really knew a lot about his personality, and when I had litter box troubles a few days later, they were quick to help with more info. Would use them again, but I don’t think Ryan would let me have ANOTHER cat, lol.

Bogie, Life

A couple of weeks ago we had our first puppy emergency. It started as just another Saturday, full of Saturday activities. Bogie had his last day of puppy training, and received his certificate (so proud).

After training we went for a walk through the neighborhood and ate lunch outside at a taco spot we’d been eyeing for a while (Side note: If your tagline is “Tacos that don’t suck” your tacos probably suck).

Bogie was well behaved at the restaurant, which was a little unusual. Normally he’d want to meet everyone for pets and poke around below the tables to look for scraps. However we’d been out for a few hours so we figured that he was just tired. It was also nice to be able to focus on our lunch and not have to constantly be watching him.

Immediately when we got home, he started acting funny. He was a bit wobbly on his feet, and looked tired. He was having a hard time walking, so we put him to bed. As he lay there, his body kept swaying back and forth, like he was on a boat. His eyes were glazed over, but scared.

I was tired from the long day, so I was hoping that he was just dehydrated or something. But then he started peeing all over himself. There’s no ignoring that :(.

It was 3pm, and our neighborhood vet had just closed, so Ryan called the next closest vet, which closed at 4. Since Bogie couldn’t walk very well, we decided to throw him in a tote bag, like we did back when he was little. He’s over 30 pounds now, so the only one that he would fit in was a massive handmade tote my friend Brittani had made me. Really need to get him a proper carrier, but he just keeps growing and growing…

During the intake session, Ryan noticed some blood on his arm. Then there were drops of blood on the bench we were sitting on. I started freaking out, but turns out that it wasn’t Bogie’s blood, a tiny scratch was bleeding like crazy from my arm. I grabbed a tissue and tried to stop the bleeding for the next five minutes. Ridiculous.

Anyways, after the consultation and an exam, the vet suggested that Bogie’s symptoms fit with marijuana ingestion! The team there were very sweet and reassuring, but I felt like they were pointing the finger at us a bit. No, we did not give our dog weed. No, we don’t know where he might have encountered it. We live in Kensington, so he probably just ate a blunt on the sidewalk. Unfortunately there was no more that they could do for us since they weren’t open 24 hours. So they referred us to another animal hospital.

We then hopped in a Lyft and went a few miles further south to the emergency center. The vibe was a little different there. Once we told reception what had happened, they started making marijuana jokes, which sounds mean, but was strangely comforting. Like, okay, maybe everything’s going to be all right. We can joke about this. My dog is probably just high. Partied too hard after puppy class graduation, and just needs a stern talking to.

During intake, they asked how old Bogie was. It was October 5, and we said “five and a half months.” When they entered that information, the software suggested 4/20/2019 as his birthday. Can’t make this stuff up, really.

We waited for quite a while in the waiting room. I kept eyeballing some ranch chips in the vending machine, but was ultimately too afraid to try them. Every now and then a dog would have an accident, and a vet tech would come out to spray it down. So. Much. Pee.

The Devil Wears Prada was playing in the background, and one of the vet techs complained that with all the commercials, the movie had been on for hours. When would it end? Ryan didn’t have the heart to tell her she still had a few more hours to go.

Unfortunately we were witness to a few real emergencies. A woman rushed into the hospital with a badly injured German Shepard puppy in her arms. She was wearing a white shirt, and was covered all over in bright red blood. Apparently the puppy had been attacked by another dog. A few minutes later the woman’s mother and young daughter came in, and the daughter really didn’t know what was going on. “Where’s the puppy mommy?”, “What’s on your shirt mommy?.” Heartbreaking, but maybe it’s good that the little girl didn’t have a clue. It was grisly.

Eventually we got a chance to talk to another vet. They said that they would do some bloodwork, but they weren’t going to test for THC since the tests aren’t that reliable. We had a choice to make – take him home and give him fluids, or let him stay the night for observation. If Bogie was still off the next day, then it probably wasn’t weed. He might have a neurological disorder. Yikes. We figured that it was better to play it safe, so Bogie stayed the night at the animal hospital. They shaved his leg for the bloodwork and gave him an IV.

Don’t leave me!
Plz

On the way out Ryan asked about the German Shepard puppy. It didn’t make it 🙁 . I still feel sad thinking about that poor puppy, and that family. They must be traumatized.

The next day Ryan went to pick up Bogie, and he seemed to be back to his old self. I was worried that he would be upset about us abandoning him to a night at the scary animal hospital, but according to Ryan on discharge, Bogie was trying to get pets from strangers, not a care in the world. We have a very easy dog.

I was pretty shook up by the range of emotions I went through on that day. I really thought that he might die, just because we weren’t watching him close enough. The whole experience is just another confirmation that I shouldn’t have kids. I am unfit for duty. And for those of you who know about the “cookie incident,” you know that my mom went through something quite similar with me back in high school. I’ve been laughing about it with friends for years, but I’m sorry mom!!!! I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart for scaring the crap out of you and costing you a ton of money!

Wondering why I won’t leave him alone
Life, Philadelphia

Time flies! Today marks 2 months since we moved to Philadelphia. Here’s how it’s been going.

Moving day. 7 bags, ~300 lbs

HOUSE STUFF

Ryan closed on the house at the end of May, and we stayed out here for about a week at the beginning of June just to get things set up. At the time I thought that it was a bit extra, and I was wary of the additional cost, but looking back, it was definitely a good idea. The whole flurry of leaving San Francisco for good was stressful, and I couldn’t imagine having to spend those first few surreal days having to deal with Comcast, buying toilet paper, and setting up a bed.

Still, there was tons to do once we got here. Since we don’t have a car, we’ve been ordering a lot of furniture and essentials off the internet. The first few weeks were an endless stream of packages from UPS, FedEx, and the USPS. My hands got red and raw from hauling things around, building furniture, and breaking down a million boxes. I hadn’t gotten used to the house yet, so I kept bumping into things, leaving miserable bruises all over my body. The absolute worst was when I ran into our new wood/leather couch while trying to answer the door. I did this all by myself, isn’t that cool?

Anyways…everything was a bit of a mess for the first few weeks, but it’s all coming together slowly.

Staining Ikea furniture for the guest room

BOGIE (OREO MILKSHAKE TRAN-LAWLER)

Tote-a-pup

In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, on our first full day in Philadelphia, Ryan suggested that we visit the SPCA. One thing led to another, and we ended up adopting an adorable and terribly frightened puppy, one of a litter of 3. I was a bit nervous  about how the little guy would do, since he was incredibly anxious and sad looking in the shelter. But once we got him home, he relaxed and became a total love bug! I don’t blame him, I would be depressed and scared in the animal shelter too. It was nothing like the super chill and beautiful San Francisco SPCA adoption center. It was straight up THE POUND.

Bogie couldn’t go on walks until he finished his course of shots, so we were housebound for about three weeks. I never knew this was a thing, that dogs shouldn’t be walking around on the ground outside and meeting strange dogs until about 4 months. How do dog owners handle this quarantine? It’s terrible!

There were a few times that we took him out in a tote bag, but beyond that, we were in the house, watching him like a hawk and making sure that he didn’t have any house training accidents. We’ve also been crate training him, and it’s been rough. At night he would howl, scream and cry, and paw furiously at his crate like we were torturing him. Several times we had to stop since it was just too disruptive.

After too many nights of sleep deprivation I found myself getting angry. Why did we have to get a puppy? Why not an adult dog that already had its shit together (literally!). Why did it have to be crate trained? Why couldn’t he just shut up so I could sleep?

I honestly thought I was going to lose it for a few weeks. Thankfully I found the subreddit puppy101. The regret and exhaustion we were going through was so common it had a cutesy name – ‘the puppy blues’. I resolved to stick it out, and things have gotten better. Now Bogie can sleep through the night in his crate, hasn’t had accidents in the house in quite a while, and we can leave him in his crate for a few hours while we go out and explore the city. I still wish we had waited longer before committing to a dog, since I wanted to do some traveling up and down the coast, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out.

WORKING REMOTE

Working remotely full time has been pretty good. There’s the novelty of not being in an office surrounded by coworkers of course, no commute, and then the time difference. But mostly the work is the same, and surprisingly, I still get the “Sunday Scaries” – anxiety about work on Sunday night. Having a cheerful study with this little office buddy helps. 🙂

PHILADELPHIA IN GENERAL

I remembered that east coast summers were rough, but it’s been nasty. Mid 90s with on and off thunderstorms. Still, we’ve been able to get out and about. There have been a ton of outdoor events we’ve stumbled onto.

Fourth of July
East Passyunk Car Show
A curious hearse
2nd Street Festival
View from the Cherry Street Pier

Everyone has been pretty friendly/polite. I don’t know if it’s a Philadelphia thing or it’s a neighborhood thing. I haven’t made any friends yet, but I definitely make plenty of casual conversation day to day. Having a dog helps a lot on that front. Bogie is a puppy, so he gets lots of attention. One time I took him to the dog park 10 minutes away and got stopped 4 times! In one instance a girl literally laid down on the sidewalk and let Bogie jump all over her! A quarter of a block later, a couple stopped to pet him and reminisce about losing 2 dogs in the past six months. They started getting teary and wondering whether they would ever love a dog again. WHOA.

OTHER ODDS AND ENDS

Ryan got excited about composting, but we hadn’t figured out the right ‘ratio’ of organic matter, so the back yard smelled hideous for the first couple weeks. And the flies, oh the flies. At one point last weekend, I killed 11 flies in the kitchen in one afternoon. I felt like a ninja, popping them with my towel of death, until I realized every time that there was yet another fly.

Building things to keep Bogie out of the compost, and out of our neighbor’s yard!

I’ve been hitting up local developer meetups, and there’s definitely a dev scene here, but there isn’t the same free flowing startup money in it like SF. No beer, limited food. Guess I’ve been spoiled by SF and its heavily sponsored events.

Speaking of SF, I actually just got back from a quick work trip there. Being in the city felt strange, like I’d just come back from a long vacation, but I couldn’t go home because home didn’t exist anymore. I got to spend every night with friends though, and that was nice. I miss them the most.

Life

I was going to write a Q1 update, but life got away from me, and here we are in mid-May. 0_0

January

I don’t remember too much about January. January was full of rain, and yoga. I went to the annual David Bowie birthday party / drag show at The Chapel, and as usual I left feeling inspired and hopeful about the new year.

Another semi-tradition… I was doing Yoga With Adriene’s annual 30 days of yoga, and was vegetarian for the month, which led to me eating such gems as this BBQ jackfruit from SouthPaw. It’s not “similar to pulled pork” at all, but was still delish.

Umm what else…? The freezer fan broke, creating a loud and terrible buzzing sound that slowly drove me insane. I think my roommates handled it better because their bedroom was not sharing a wall with the offending kitchen appliance. After having our handyman inspect it, find nothing, and declare that the noise must have been from a handful of frozen peas that got caught in the fan area, I got frustrated and fixed it myself. I’m pleased with myself now, but that was a stressful week.

February

Ryan started getting really skilled with the sous vide. His ribs and steak have come out perfect every time. The vegetables on the other hand… have been a waste of electricity.

A killer tiki bar opened near my house.

My company has a Mexico City office. For a while I’d been joking with coworkers about taking a group trip there, and in February I organized it and made it happen! Mexico City was wonderful as always, and it was great meeting my Mexican coworkers in person. Surprisingly, they were very similar to their video/chat personas. It gives me hope for the future of remote work.

March

After Ryan’s near drowning at the Yuba last year, I was pushing really hard for formal swim lessons. We finally signed up for a pack of 8 classes at our local Y, and it came at the right time, to be honest. Work became really shitty and stressful… then my friend died, and that was a bit of a breaking point. I started swimming hard, 2-4 times per week, and it really helped clear my head. My hair on the other hand, has become a disgusting brittle mess. I figure it’s worth it.

We celebrated our 9th anniversary, crazy.

April

Ryan was in New York for work around his birthday, and decided to stay in Philadelphia afterwards to spend time with friends and family. I flew out to join him, since it was a good chance to poke around and get a feel for the neighborhoods and the housing stock, just an exploratory mission to see if owning a house in Philadelphia was doable.

A realtor showed us around, and combined with a few open houses, we ended up seeing like 25 houses in 4 days. It became very clear over the course of the visit where we ought to live. Unfortunately, the more houses that we saw, the more evident it became that we’d definitely have to make some compromises.

One strong contender had a back “yard” that looked into a Dunkin Donuts/Liquor shop parking lot. Now is that a plus or a minus? Torn.

One house had everything Ryan wanted (finished basement, a yard, newer construction in a hip walkable neighborhood), and almost everything I wanted (safe neighborhood, lots of space and light, not that terrible skinny Philadelphia home layout, pet friendly).

Ryan made up his mind to make an offer and then it all happened so fast. He put in the offer the night before we left for home, and after a few back and forths, our offer was accepted, right as we boarded the flight back to SF! Under asking price! Totally unlike the Bay, it was wild.

Closing is in two weeks, when we’ll head out to pick up the keys to the house. Our actual move date is still up in the air, but would probably be July. Surreal!

May

And here we are in May! I snuck in a quick trip up to Washington to see Jill and Brett.

In the next 6 weeks, there’s more travel planned. Going to see my mom, then head out to Philly to get the house keys, then Providence for a wedding, then Philly again finally. Poor Ryan has a few extra trips on top of that.

So I guess things are going to still be stressful, but at least it’s all for a good reason. Anyways, that’s it for now!

Life

So, I never thought I’d write this, but my friend Tristan died. About a week ago – on a Friday morning – Ryan walked in to the living room bearing the bad news, after seeing a few articles in the SF Chronicle and TechCrunch. He was in the tech community, so I suppose his death was tech news.

Tristan was my oldest friend, I’ve known him since I was maybe five. His parents owned a futon shop in the same quiet strip mall where my parent’s Chinese restaurant was located. We spent many long summer afternoons running around causing all sorts of trouble. Catching frogs, playing with his mice and monitor lizard, running toy cars up and down the sidewalk, camping out in the Drug Emporium and laughing at the ‘adult’ aisle. So many kid memories.

I don’t remember when, but eventually his family moved away to New York, and I remember being sad. Years passed, and every now and then I would wonder about him. This was before Facebook, so I kept wondering.

One day when I was living in San Francisco (about a decade ago), I got a Facebook message. It was from Tristan! He had looked me up. And what a coincidence, we both lived in the bay area! And he had co-founded Square… what? I was shocked by the randomness of it, but proud of his success. And so our friendship continued, but this time as adults.

Our adult friendship was a little bit different. Because as adults, there’s just so many other responsibilities vying for your attention. Work, home, family, and in his case majorly… relationships.

Many times I would try to hang out with him, and it would have to be worked around his significant other’s schedule. I remember one time we had finally nailed down plans, and he ended up cancelling on me that night because his girlfriend’s plans fell through. What the hell, man? You live together, you’ll see her at home!

We had good times together, but over the years his romantic drama became more intense. There were breakups and engagements (3). Then breakups again. I always knew to reach out when he was in a breakup. That was when he for sure would be ‘available.’ Kind of reminds me of the lyrics to the Smiths song “Hold on to your friends.”

But now you only call me
When you’re feeling depressed
When you feel happy I’m
So far from your mind
My patience is stretched
My loyalty vexed
Oh, you’re losing all of your friends

Then his life took a different turn when the money came in from Square. He stopped working a nine to five and started doing… what? I’m not really sure. Travel, school, photography, a number of different things. It was a lot harder to relate to him, but I was glad that he had this unique opportunity. I was jealous, what can I say?

The last few years were bad. He got into another romantic relationship. All of his relationships were up and down, but this one made being friends with Tristan harder than ever. I won’t go into details, but there was a specific moment that my heart just broke and I’d had enough.

I decided right then and there that I had to let this friendship go. I wasn’t going to kill it, but I wasn’t going to nurture it anymore. It hurt too much to be disappointed every time.

So from then on, I mostly observed from a distance. I saw him have a daughter. I saw him share his struggles with addiction. I saw him move to Los Angeles. About a year ago I remember unfollowing him on Facebook, and not responding to a text message from him informing me of his new phone number. I just had to take a break from it all.

Now that he’s gone, I feel incredibly guilty. I somehow mucked my way through the workday that Friday, and at the end of it I dragged Ryan to Last Rites, our neighborhood tiki bar, to pour one out for Tristan. I hate that the last memories that I have of him are of him going through hard times. I hate that I couldn’t help him more, and I hate that his life became a weird oddity, almost a running joke between me and my friends. Like hey, what crazy shit has your friend been up to?

I got really drunk at the tiki bar, but I did remember some good things. I remembered how funny, and present and alive my friend always was. He was so creative and geeky. He was a mega Apple fanboy, and I remember visiting his apartment, and seeing every model of i-anything decorating his room. He was very affectionate and sentimental. Sometimes he’d send me a text saying “Hey! I’m passing your favorite Starbucks, thinking of you!”. I don’t even really go to that Starbucks that much, it was just something that I’d said offhand one time when we were walking down Market Street, but he remembered. I still have a weird plastic friendship bracelet he made for me at summer camp, which is stored in a memory box in my room. Reminds me of better times. There was a reason that I tried to stay friends with him, even though it wasn’t easy to maintain.

Thankfully, I do have at least one adult memory of him that is pure and uncomplicatedly happy… One perfect day biking in the rain out to Sausalito. I even blogged about it. It was nearly 8 years ago to the day.

I’m so sad about losing you buddy, but I’ll try to keep this day and this version of you in my mind. You will be missed.