Dog’s and Cat’s Living Together….

I’m a dog person. Always have been. I’ve recently had reason to reconsider this longstanding feeling.

A little over a year ago I received a call from my son who was very upset. Without going into too much detail, he had adopted a kitten and due to some housing issues, he couldn’t keep her. He attempted to find a friend or acquaintance that would adopt her, but at the end of the day it didn’t work out. He basically had two choices – bring her to a shelter, or ask a family member to take her. A shelter meant that her future would be unstable to say the least. To make a long story short, we are now cat owners. My wife, Marla grew up terrified of cats, so this was a pretty big deal. We flew my son and our new, adopted daughter from Orlando to New York to “try it out”.

Fast forward to today, we are still a 2 species family. Marla has grown accustomed to Eloise, Benny “tolerates” her – barely – and Weezy and I… well, lets just say that we are no Steven and Liv Tyler. stevenandlivjpg

To say the experiment has gone off without a hitch would be a lie. You have to remember – we live in a tiny apartment in New York City. It was a smallish apartment when Marla lived there alone. Then Benny and I moved in. Weezy doesn’t take up much space, she takes up all of it! Who knew that cats had no boundaries? Who knew that we could no longer leave anything out in the open – no matter how large or small? My wallet? Pocket change? NOTHING! For those of you unfamiliar with cats, they like to knock things to the floor. It doesn’t matter what they see or where they see it. If it is not glued down, it’s a candidate to be knocked to the floor. Our beautiful chotskies and nik naks, no matter where they were placed became toys to our new addition. The best part (sarcasm) was that since cats are nocturnal, this all occurred while we slept. Again…small New York City apartment. Things crashing to the floor at 3 a.m.

Even more fun was the racetrack our apartment became. A racetrack with no lanes. We’d be sound asleep when all of a sudden Weezy would leap onto us in one of her laps around the racetrack apartment. Yeah, a bit unsettling. When she burned herself out, she’d use the bed as a sort of launching pad to get her to the top of our bedroom armoire. But my collection of baseball hats is on top of the armoire! Did I mention that cats like to knock things over? At first, it was cute. I’d wake up for one of my dozen or so trips to the bathroom and stumble over the 10+ baseball hats scattered all over the bedroom floor!

It gets better. Shortly after Eloise joined us, our apartment began to smell of cat urine. Not knowing cats, we thought that she was being vindictive because she was jealous of Benny, and a bit miffed at his indifference towards her. After some research, we decided it might be a medical issue, so we brought her to the vet. Turns out the poor girl had a bladder infection meaning not only was she in pain, she couldn’t necessarily control where she micturated (thank you Jeffrey Lebowski)! Remember when I mentioned Weezy’s love of the top of our armoire and the collection of hats I had? Yeah, fun stuff.

Don’t misunderstand me – it hasn’t been nearly all bad. She is adorable,weezybathroomdoor has a great personality and she seems to have really taken a liking to me. She’ll join me on the couch and loves to sleep while up against me. I find myself calling her sweetheart – like the daughter I always wanted! She turns up in the oddest of places though!

weezy

Benny likes to chase her and often bares his teeth when she’s near, but he’s grown accustomed to her being around and enjoys the companionship.

Finally, I work late many nights. Nothing relaxes me more than watching Modern Family reruns. Weezy seems to have taken a liking to the show as well, but honestly, this may be her undoing. weezymodernfamily

Do you have a story to share about your pets? I’d love it if you’d share it here….

Craig

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Music

I love music, and embarrass pride myself in having a most diverse database of songs in my Google Play list. When I say diverse, well, tell me if you disagree (or agree!). Some of the artists in my database include Chick Corea, Frank Sinatra, Benny Mardones, Joe Bonamassa, to Run-D.M.C., The Sugarhill Gang, Eminim and N.W.A., to Tim McGraw and Brooks and Dunn, to a handful of classical music. I have a nifty little bluetooth Bose speaker that I stream this music to from my phone, and typically listen each morning/afternoon while showering. I’ve gone so far as to set up a “Shower” playlist, although I’m still not sure what kind of music should be on a Shower playlist.

Most of the time, I simply hit “shuffle” and go with whatever comes on. This morning for example (okay, it was 1pm, but I work late!), I began with some Eagles, and then this little oldie came on. 

I never would have thought that this would belong on my Shower playlist, but I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t put me in a great mood! Such a tragedy what became of Karen Carpenter. I sometimes wonder what she could have done musically if she had lived a full life. Next up in my shower was one of my all-time favorites from The Police.  So… diverse, yes?

I honestly don’t know how I would make it through my day if it were not for my music.  When I lived in Florida and drove a car daily, it was Howard Stern and Paul and Young Ron that put me in the right mood to start my day.  Now that I live in NYC, it’s my music.

What energizes you to start your day?

Marla

After much debate, I thought I’d start things off in the most positive way I can. After all, we all have things we love to complain about – things we need to get off our chest. I don’t know about you, but it gets tiring reading about others problems!

It was November 27th, 2009 when my life took a turn for the better. First, some background. I was in the midst of a downward spiral that at the time had no end in site. Over the previous few years, my career had quickly gone from one in which I was content and reasonably comfortable, to a debacle. It was the during the depths of the housing crisis, and I lived in South Florida. You see, South Florida was one of the areas most severely impacted by the housing crisis, and I was in the wholesale mortgage lending business. I was getting it from both sides – the value of my condo in Boca Raton plummeted by about 40%, while my income dried up almost completely. It is no exaggeration to say that I was scoping out potential bridges for myself and Benny to sleep under. What was at one time unimaginable, was now a real possibility.

Fortunately, I had friends. Two friends in particular knew how bad my situation was, yet still allowed me (and Benny) to move into their beautiful home, and basically pay them what I could afford (not much). I cannot overstate the effect that a situation like this can have on a person’s sense of being. It can change who you are and how you view life. I was perpetually sad, angry and demoralized. How could my life have gone so far off track? I was at one time a successful bond salesman on Wall Street – a 2 percenter-  to become someone that depended on friends just to have a roof over my head. It was in this context that I met Marla.

I was at the Boca Ale House – a local restaurant/bar that offered decent, inexpensive food, and lots of large-screen TV’s with all the games you could hope to watch. We were a group of about 12 there to celebrate one of my new roommates’ birthday. Marla was sitting next to her sister – a friend of mine that was an adored teacher and who had taught both of my children over the previous several years. I was immediately attracted to her, and immediately terrified. We hit it off almost instantly. Not only did I find her attractive, I quickly found that we had a lot to talk about. She lived literally a stone’s throw from where I once lived on the Upper West Side, and worked in the brokerage industry for Smith Barney – exactly what I used to do! There is a saying in Judaism when two people are meant for each other, or something was just meant to  be. It’s pronounced B’shert. When I observed Marla and her sister look at each other after her sister made the introduction, B’shert was what immediately popped into my head. There was one problem. I was at an all-time-low in terms of just about every metric one uses to measure his or her life. I had no money, lots of debt, and no income. I was depressed, and I think it showed – despite the game-face I wore that night. What could I possibly “bring to the table” that would attract this girl? In those days, it was difficult for me to find a reason to smile, let alone attract a companion. The only thing I felt happy about was my two handsome, intelligent and wonderful boys, and Benny – my dog.

After about an hour of talking to Marla, I knew I didn’t want the night to end. I was speaking with one of my roommates about this and decided that this was worth pursuing. Since I had no money in my pocket (a fairly common occurrence those days), I needed to ask him for $20 so I could buy her a few drinks, and not look like the loser I felt I was!

Without going in to too much detail, Marla and I began a long-distance relationship. We talked on the phone several times a day, and really got to know one another. In many ways, OUR long-term relationship was the best thing that could have happened. It allowed us to focus on getting to really know one another – and made the times we could actually see each other that much better. She wasn’t terribly concerned about my situation – at least outwardly – in fact, I was continually amazed that she would even give me the time of day! The following months offered further challenges to my well-being, but Marla had the ability to help me return to the person I was when I didn’t face these challenges. She gave me hope and love, and while I tried to give her the same, I was always afraid that she would wake up one day and and say “why do I need this guy’s problems?” It was clear to me that I needed to claw my way back, if for no other reason than to hold on to Marla. Don’t get me wrong here – I already had plenty of reasons to work towards improving my situation, not the least of which was my children – but Marla made me feel like a man again and I knew that I didn’t want to lose her.

Marla and I have been married a year and a half now, I’m not only back on my feet, but am also back in the city I love. I don’t get to see my children as much as I used to, but have come to realize that they need a father that they can look up to, not pity. They have their own lives now, and I speak with at least one of them each day. While I have a long way to go to get back to where I once was, I am getting there, and I believe they recognize that.

The moral of my story is, when you are happy in your personal life, the rest takes care of itself. You need to always work on improving yourself, but having someone beside you while you do makes all the difference in the world!