Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Friday, January 26, 2007

It's a Small World in CyberSpace!

I didn't realize when I started blogging just how many people from my past would stumble across Zhadi's Den. I've had friends from high school, people I've worked on films with, and now N (in case she wishes to remain anonymous), one of Brian's oldest (as in known the longest, not as in she's old) friends whom I met in Michigan. I got a surprise email today from her (a very nice one) referencing various posts that run the gamut of the entire lifespan of the Den. Dang me, people DO read the archives!

Anyway, that's it for the moment. Just a reflection on how much smaller the world has become since the advent of cyberspace. Kinda cool, ain't it?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I love my boyfriend

Okay, I'm always writing about my past or my cats, or things that I'm trying to get over or deal with or put behind me or process...you know, my list of 'I ain't got time to bleed' topics. So for a change, I'm gonna post a nice simple ode to my boyfriend, who has been a veritable font of patience...er, FOUNT of patience (I'm not sure what font he is, although I expect it's one of them fancy ones) dealing with me for the last two years as I've gone through all of my emotional shitstorms.

Dave, I love you. Why you have not yet buried me in the backyard, I'm not sure. But I'm grateful for your love and patience and willingness to deal with 8 cats (two of 'em were YOUR idea), a semi-incontinent dog and my continued attachment to Brian. Your insights from your own painful divorce have helped me get through some really horrible depressions because they made me believe that there really is an end to all of the pain in sight, somewhere down the road. You've let me mourn without ever telling me to 'get over it.'

Put all of this together with your genuine desire to be friends with Brian, should that day ever become possible, and that you've let me drag you to wineries and wine-tastings despite your prediliction for stout and frou-frou drinks...

Trust me when I say I know how lucky I am.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Five Things You Don't Know About Me - Number Five

Other Lisa commented that she thought it was appropriate for me to tell one thing about me a night, given that my online moniker is Zhadi, short for Scherezade. For those of you not familiar with Thousand and One Tales of the Arabian Nights, Scherezade was one in a long line of wives to a nutball Sultan, who’d kill his wives the night of their wedding nuptials. Scherezade stayed alive by telling stories all night long, always ending on a cliffhanger so the Sultan would keep her alive one more night so he could hear how it ended. Eventually he fell in love with her and we can assume the happy couple finally got some sleep.

I haven’t exactly been telling one story per night. I’d have been for the chopping block if I’d been the original storyteller of Arabian Nights fame. Screw the stories; I need my sleep! But the name does lead me to number five of things you don’t know about me:

Zhadi was the name of the first cat I got when I moved out on my own. That’s right. I didn’t name myself Zhadi because I saw myself as a spinner of tales. Yeah, it IS a good name for a writer. But that’s not the deal. I named this particular kitten Scherezade ‘cause she wouldn’t stop talking on the car ride home the day I got her.

Zhadi was a little black scrap of kitten when I first saw her. She was one of about 15 cats and kittens in the backyard of my best friend’s neighbor, who obviously didn’t believe in neutering pets. Zhadi was sitting in a little ball, crouched on top of an upside down bucket, staring at me with huge eyes. I stared back. She meeped at me and that was it.

Zhadi spent her first few weeks keeping me up most of the night with what I assume were stories. She’d intersperse her tales with bouts of mad dashing around the bedroom, leaping off my stomach and head. I used to cry some nights because I was so tired. Lucky for her she was also adorable and one thing you DO know about me if you’ve read any previous posts is I’m a sucker for adorable, at least if the adorableness is packaged in animal form.

Zhadi went from a sleek adolescent to a round, squat bowling ball of a cat. She had short little legs, a spherical body and a round head with huge gold green eyes. She loved men and flirted with them shamelessly. She played up to my brother, who was not a huge cat fan back in the day. One evening my mom and I heard, “Well, hello there, precious!” coming from Chris’s room and discovered that Zhadi had paid him a visit. Hah. Chris was outted as a cat lover. Or at least a Zhadi lover. But she had that effect on people. A cat for people who don’t like cats.

When I was bouncing back and forth between San Diego and Los Angeles before finally getting up the guts to make a permanent move up north, Zhadi and her ‘sister’ Luna stayed with my parents in San Diego. I’d go down there every other week at least, working temp jobs in both cities so I could spend time with Brian and spend time with my cats. I went down week to housesit for Mom and Bill. They’d planned an early start, so I was surprised to see their car in the driveway when I arrived around 8am.
Mom greeted me at the door and I knew immediately something was wrong. A neighbor had seen a cat hit by a car on our street, there was black fur and some spots of blood…and Zhadi was missing. Mom hadn’t wanted to leave this sort of news on a note, so they’d waited for me. I told them I’d be okay and to go ahead and take off. I’d look for my cat.

It didn’t take me very long to find her. I followed a trail of blood spots to a neighbor’s driveway across the street, then back to a woodpile under the carport. I peeked back through the chunks of wood through the web of what was unmistakably a black widow, and saw huge feline eyes staring back at me. Logs and black widow spiders went flying so I could rescue my cat.

She had a head wound and an injured front paw. Neither turned out to be serious, she had a limp that went away after a few weeks. Zhadi was seriously spoiled during her convalescence, as was only proper, but I didn’t realize how spoiled until a few months after the accident when I wouldn’t share my lunch with her. She stared at me sadly, then walked away slowly with a pronounced limp. She got some of my lunch that day and proceeded to shamelessly bring out the limp whenever she wanted something.

Zhadi developed a hoarse voice later on in her life, almost a croak when she meowed. I’m not sure if it was from her non-stop monologues as a kitten, the result of inhaling pot smoke (my stoner boyfriend thought it was funny to get her high when I wasn’t home. Note to you, ex-boyfriend…it wasn’t funny, you dick), or an early manifestation of the throat cancer that finally killed when she was 13. I’ll spare you the story of her passing beyond saying that Brian and I spent the last week of her life spoiling her rotten.

So my name is an ode to my first pet as an adult. I miss the little bowling ball, but she’s left a lasting legacy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Five Things You Don't KNow About Me - Number Four

For someone who's been in nearly continuous relationships for most of my adult life, I've watched way too many gorgeous sunsets by myself. It makes me very melancholy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Five Things You Don't Know About Me - Number 3

My first crush was Roddy McDowell. A nice harmless crush for an 11 year old, right?

I'm not so sure. I developed the crush, you see, when I saw him in PLANET OF THE APES playing Cornelius, chimpanzee scientist.

I'm not sure what this says about me, but it seems to affirm Darwinism in a strange, sick kind of way...

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

To Pee or Not to Pee (Or, Number Two is Number One)

Okay, time for Number 2 of five things some of you won’t know about me.

I once peed on a bus.

I know that you’re thinking, “big deal. She peed on a bus. Anyone who’s ever taken a Greyhound Bus trip longer than two hours has peed on a bus.”

Well, it wasn’t a Greyhound. And here’s the real kicker: there was no bathroom on the bus in question.

So maybe you’re thinking that I still in diapers at the time. Or maybe just a little kid who couldn’t hold it.


I was 18 years old, wearing a dress, pantyhose and heels, and on my way home from Disneyland in Anaheim to San Diego at 5:00 in the morning.

Now maybe you’re thinking I couldn’t possibly have had a good reason for my action. So I’ll give you a little background.

1. I have had kidney and bladder problems since I was about five years old. This has always necessitated frequent trips to the bathroom and advice from my doctor to never wait too long or it could cause problems later on in life. My bladder is rumored to be so small that people have offered to leave me their normal sized bladders in their will, should they croak before I do.

2. My friends and I were at Grad Night the date in question and had taken speed to keep us awake. I had never taken speed before and was told it was like a No-Doze with a little extra oomph. What I wasn’t told is that it also acted as a diuretic. It also dehydrated me, so I drank a bunch of soda throughout the night.

Not a good combination when a two hour bus ride home is involved.

Before you say, “Well, you should have gone before you left,” let me assure you that I did. Several times. In quick succession as we made our way from Space Mountain to the front entrance of the park. It did me no good. A half hour into the bus ride I knew I was in trouble.

I tried holding it for a bit, figuring we’d pull off at the rest stop past San Clemente. I made my way up to the front of the bus to ask the driver if this would be the case. The driver was a woman and I figured she’d understand; most women don’t have the male capacity to hold it for hours on end and then relieve themselves in a five minute stream all in one go. She’d understand my plight.

Of course, I didn’t mention the speed, but I did tell her that I had kidney problems, that I was in a lot of pain, and couldn’t we please pull off at the rest stop. The driver (who in my mind, has taken on the physical and personality traits of the bus driver in SOUTHPARK over the years), was anything but sympathetic.

No, we couldn’t stop, she told me. If I used the bathroom, everyone would want to use the bathroom and she didn’t want to be on the road an extra hour because a bunch of kids had to take a pee.

I swear she went out of her way to hit every pot hole on the freeway after I stumbled painfully back to my seat, wondering how long I could possibly hold it before exploding.

Another hour later, one of the most pain-filled hours I can remember that didn’t involve a migraine, we pulled up in front of Clairemont High (Ridgemont High, for those of you who’ve seen the movie). Everyone got out of the bus except me and my friend, Karen. We were at the very back of the bus and I knew if I stood up, nature was gonna take its course before I made it two steps down the aisle. I was also (pardon the pun) pissed off as hell at the stupid bitch driving the bus. So…I carefully hitched up the skirt of my dress and did my business there on the seat while Karen stood guard. I rearranged my skirt, got to my feet and we got off the bus with a pleasant ‘thanks’ to the driver.

As far as vengeance laced with symbolism, I felt pretty damn good about it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


A first for me, I've been tagged by the evil Other Lisa. It's a 'meme' thingee. I have no idea what the official definition of 'meme' is, but it has something to do with this tagging business.

I'm supposed to share five things that you don't know about me.

First of all, let's define 'you.'

'You' as I see it, are people who know me already. I don't have a huge blog audience and what with the infrequency of my visits to Blogland, I'm not exactly doing much to encourage a larger readership. And that's something that anyone who's read my blogs already know about me. I whine a lot about my busy schedule.

I'm still very busy - work has been challenging lately in terms of workload versus hours in the day. Or at least hours that I want to spend at work. I like my job, mind you, but I have eight cats and a dog at home that need my attention. They also generate a lot of fur and mess that needs cleaning on a daily basis.

hey, does the eight cats and a dog count as something you don't know about me?

No, probably not. I'm known far and wide as a crazy cat lady. I even own the action figure. She has eight cats too.

I also have to find time to exercise. I have dates with Billy Blank, master of the motivating kick-boxing videos. I have to walk Boska. Well, I LIKE to walk Boska - we go to the beach together and check out the surfers. Well...I check out the surfers, she checks out the dead sea bugs and assorted carrion that washes up.

After I'm done tae-bo-ing and washing up, there's dinner to attend to. By the time that's said and done, I don't have a lot of energy for writing. But I'm trying to balance it all out and make the time, even if it's just a few minutes here and there.

This week is challenging because we're having a party Saturday. A Thirteenth Night Party that involves wine, food, and good friends. Other Lisa is coming up from Southern California, as is Pete, who is an excellent cook. Pete will be cooking the main dish for the party and supplying other tasty gourmet treats. He's also bringing his son, Ernie, who is a de facto godson to me and Brian. Ernie loves zombies and noir. Ernie reminds me of my little brother back when he still thought that I had something to say that was worth his time to listen to.

It's nice to have Ernie in my life. He calls me with girlfriend issues and to read me the first chapter of his new noir story. I find him obscure zombie movies like DEAD MEAT, a recent Irish release that I first saw at the Hole In the Head Horror filmfest here in San Francisco. We have discussions about the merits of slow moving zombies versus the ones that run. It's kind of like having a second chance to be an older sister and be more aware of the impact a person has on those around them. Using my powers for good and now for evil or something like that.

Can you tell I'm tired?

And I think that my relationship with Ernie is number one on the list of things most people don't know about me.

That being said, I'm gonna cheat and give you second on the list tomorrow night, after Dave and I finish our evening's housecleaning in prep for the party. We've portioned out the tasks over the course of the week, a little each evening so we have time to relax and watch things like DESPERATE CROSSING, the story of the Mayflower's voyage. We TiVo'd it back in November and still have one hour left to watch.

Tomorrow...two hours on a bus back from Grad Night without a bathroom break after taking speed and drinking lots of soda while at Disneyland, and the hideous consequences.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

We Named the Monkey ...

We Named the Monkey Shmoo...
Originally uploaded by zhadi.

I posted this photo about a year and a half ago when I first moved up to San Francisco and started blogging as a way to try to sort out and deal with the confusion and depression of leaving Brian and my old life. This is a picture of Brian and Shmoo (originally named Asmodeus, but you know how names change with cats) a few months before I left, with Shmoo on his favorite perch: Brian's shoulder.

Shmoo left us at 5:30 this morning, up in Humboldt with Brian, after a several month struggle with a mysterious condition that gradually took away his ability to move. His neurons weren't firing properly, things weren't connecting the way they should. A spinal tap showed nothing conclusive. Probably diagnosis was cancer in his brain. The vet specialist told Brian that Shmoo wouldn't be able to handle chemo unless his condition improved. It didn't.

For two months Brian gave him fluids, hand fed him, helped him pee, cleaned him up when he pooped, carried him everywhere, gave him enough love and attention for any animal or human. I visited as often as I could, helped with the nursing, sent special cat food that I could buy at half the price as what Brian would have to spend in Humboldt. We were encouraged because Shmoo's appetite was good right up until the last couple of days. We'd heard that as long as a cat had an appetite, they still had the will to live. So we waited and hoped.

Shmoo stopped eating two days ago and Brian was going to call someone to come to the house today if things continued to get worse. Shmoo, however, decided he was going to go on his new journey without any help other than Brian stroking him gently and telling him that his mom and dad loved him, right up to the moment when Shmoo's heart stopped beating and he left with a little sigh.

We called Shmoo our parent trap cat. He turned up as a six month old kitten outside our house a few months before Brian and I were planning on separating over 7 years ago. Unbeknownst to the other, we both fed him on the sly, made friends with this scrawny black feline with a head too big for his body. So did our roommate. Brian and I decided to stay together about the same time Shmoo moved in; I'd picked Brian up at the airport after a three week absence when he was working on RAVENOUS, we came home and there was Shmoo, waiting for us on the front porch. We opened the door, Shmoo marched in and made himself at home.

Shmoo was never happier than when sitting or lying in between the two of us, a front paw touching Brian, his tail draped across my arm. He'd sleep between us, his head on the pillow. Shmoo and Brian both snored.

Brian used to stand him up on his hind legs and make him stalk after me like a zombie while we sang the tune to the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD music. Dah da da.... Dah DA Dah.... One day I sang the tune when Shmoo was across the kitchen. He immediately ran towards me with a funny, stiff-legged gait. Shmoo had found his party trick. Worked every time, no matter where he was in the house. If we wanted to find him, all we had to do was sing that tune.

We almost lost Shmoo a couple of Halloweens ago when our roommate (not the same one who fed him) was moving her stuff out and left the French doors ajar. Shmoo got out that night and we couldn't find him. A black cat out on Halloween? Bad news. We looked for him for hours, plastered the neighborhood with posters the next day, checked the local animal shelters (a heartbreak all by itself) and I kept walking the neighborhood, hoping for the best. I fell asleep on the couch that night, sure that my decision to leave Brian was responsible for Shmoo's disappearance (for a non-Catholic, I'm pretty good at the guilt thing). But Brian heard a noise at the back of the house, went to investigate, and I woke up when he deposited a distinctly filthy Shmoo on my lap.

When I left, Brian kept Shmoo. I knew I'd get to see him, but it was still hard. Hell, it was hard to leave both of them. I'm happy in my new life, but I'm still in mourning for my old one, for the dreams that Brian and I had, for the good times, for the comfort zone of the familiar, and for my friend. A lot of work and emotional effort has gone into keeping that friendship, nurturing the connection that has nothing to do with being married. And I guess to both of us, Shmoo has always been a living symbol of that connection. Losing him hurts with the kind of pain that makes you wonder how you're going to live through it. Kind of like the guilt and pain I feel at having not been there to share his last moments with Brian and help shoulder some of Brian's pain.

I think that Shmoo held on until the holidays were over to help his dad get through the last of a very difficult year. We both had to tell Shmoo that it was okay to let go if he was ready to move on. I had Brian hold the phone up to Shmoo's ear yesterday so I could tell him that it was okay. See, last time I visited, I told him he had to hold on for his daddy, he just had to get better. And I think he really tried.

I don't think that we extended his life to be selfish, but I do know that losing him is symbolic for more than just having to say goodbye to our boy.

I know, I know...that's a hell of a lot of symbolism to put on the head of one little black kitty.

Most importantly, we'll miss him. As Brian always said, he was second only to the pharaoh and the blackest cat in the house. Let's buy him a present. He's perfect.

And he was.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Keeping my New Year's Resolution

...the one that involves posting more often, that is. This is gonna be a shortie 'cause I'm in dire need of sleep - a night of uninterrupted sleep, that is, without the monkey brain going 'EEP EEP' all night and keeping me awake - but better a shortie than nothing.

Tonight's post is just a recommendation to anyone who likes a: to read, b: zombies and c: really good writing. Pick up a copy of WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks (son of Mel, doncha know), which is my personal pick for the best book I read in 2006. I'd like to say that MONDO ZOMBIE was the best zombie book I read (modesty does not prevent me from saying that I have a story published in MONDO Z), but it's not.

Oh yeah...and Happy New Year! May everyone's 2007 be better than their 2006!
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