Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nu Shooz

One day in middle school, I tried on a pair of White Reebok Club C EE Wide Size 11.5 tennis shoes, and fell in love. Nike's, about the only other reasonably-priced brand available in the mid 1980s, were way too narrow. The shoe fit, so I wore it. Every Spring for the next 25 years I went to the same Shoe Department in the same mall (well, different malls in 1991, 1995 & 1997 when I moved out of town) to purchase the same pair of shoes again.

Having a bit of OCD, purchasing and wearing the same shoe, year after year, is, well... calming. In Fall 2011, Kristi suggested that I try a different kind of shoe. Indeed, this was part of my "look" that I hadn't changed since I got divorced. At first I was resistant to the change, but eventually I gave in to this nice pair of blue Adidas...

More recently, it was time for a trip to the shoe store again, and I managed to find a different (that's right, I said different) pair of shoes:

"It's a jungle out there." -- Adrian Monk ("Monk")

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Date Has Been Set

So, it's official. I proposed to Kristi today, at the Mount Nittany Inn, where we had our first date one year ago. This Spring is a little greener; we're a little older (I'm a little fatter, she's a little thinner).

And now... there's a wedding to plan. We're going to try to keep it "smallish" and definitely make it unique.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

75 Miles; 272 Minutes

Killing time while Kristi gets ready (beauty takes time, I have come to learn) I'd like to wax poetic about an important date (and all the better, because despite our promises to keep the blog updated, I haven't been waxing anything lately).

This week is the one-year anniversary of when Kristi visited me in State College -- the day we "met" was April 9th, although we had been getting to know each other over the Internet and phone since Feb. 23, 2011. In fact, in the first week that we talked on the phone, we racked up 272 minutes and 515 texts; I had to change both my phone plans.

Ironically, we would have never found each other if not for the 75-mile radius. On PlentyOfFish.com, you set a radius around your home where you want to look for potential dates. It was winter and it didn't seem logical to get in a long-distance relationship, I figured. I hadn't had much luck with local women, and on advice of a friend (who said he would easily drive 2 hours for a date), I expanded that radius from 50 to 75 miles. It turns out, this was just far enough to include York in the search.

I didn't show up in her search results on the website (which is ironic considering we were such peas in a pod, amongst the drooling Neanderthal masses, we would later surmise) but she showed up in mine. I knew as soon as I saw her picture that she was a different kind of girl than I had experienced before -- a higher level of woman, if you will.

At the one-year mark, I'm happy to report that we're still very in love and enjoying being with each other every day. Kristi and her daughter have lived with me since November 1, 2011 and we are all enjoying the companionship. The way that Kristi makes me feel, and the things that we have in common, make life so fun -- every weekend is like a "vacation," even if we don't go anywhere.

On Sunday, we will tour and take photographs of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a short drive away, something we had been wanting to do for nearly a year now. Next weekend we will return to the Mount Nittany Inn for lunch, like we did on April 10th, 2011, which was the day we changed our relationship status on Facebook, and therefore we treat as our anniversary date.

(The photo below was taken last year at the Inn)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I finally get the romance movies

I am a girl so, by definition, I am a sucker for a good romance movie. I've seen all of the good Meg Ryan romances, swooned to classic stars like Cary Grant, and weeped at countless chick flicks.

But I'd never really gotten them. I appreciated them and I longed for the romance enjoyed by those on-screen heroines. But I didn't really feel a connection to the romance. The movies left me with a sense of longing, like I'd missed an important part of my own plot. I assumed something was wrong with me. I assumed that many times during my 18-year relationship with my ex. Looking back, I realize that there was something wrong with us. Not him, and not me, but us as partners. We just weren't well-matched. We tried so hard to make it work, but we didn't have that magical chemistry that seemed to come so easily to our movie counterparts.

I've been with Jesse for almost a year, and recently I had an epiphany. I was watching "Sleepless in Seattle" for perhaps the tenth time, but this time was different. When Tom Hanks looked into Meg Ryan's eyes for the first time, I felt their connection. I understood why she smiled when she held his hand for the first time. I felt her giddiness when she kept looking up at him as though wondering whether he was real.

Now, when I watch romance movies, as I am at this very moment, I connect with the female leads and I feel what they seem to feel. My heart jumps and I smile. When the lovers look into each other's eyes I understand why they swoon. I finally have this great romance in my life, and it makes me feel like I've been reborn as someone brand new and shiny.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Look How Far We've Fallen

This piece was originally posted on Open Salon, but I wanted to share it here, too.

Look How Far We've Fallen

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Life and Times of Starlight, My Longest Companion

Last month I lost a companion who had been with me longer than my previous marriage. His name was Starlight.

Fresh out of college, I moved from the University of North Carolina campus to Raleigh in the Summer of 1995. I was striking out on my own, working for a start-up Internet service provider (meteorology jobs were few and far between after the government put a hiring freeze into effect). I was living single in the big city, I was young and loving it.

But something was missing, and in late Fall 1995 I took a trip to the local SPCA to look for a companion. I was shown to a cage full of kittens. Most were meowing; many were active, but one little black and white ("tuxedo") kitten stuck both arms out of the cage when I approached as if to say "Take me! Take me!" And for about $50, I had my first pet. And the rest, as they say, is history.

At the time, I was working on a Macintosh computer at work which had a starlight desktop pattern, and I noticed my new cat had a similar pattern on his forehead, so I decided to call him Starlight. Raising a kitten was a challenge, and there were sleepless nights, but he was a wonderful companion -- young, single, and full of energy, just like me. I didn't know many people at the time, so he typically came home with me to visit Mom & Dad and their cat Bootskie every couple of weeks.

I had grown up around many cats but few dogs, so I had always been a "cat person." At the age of 7, I befriended a stray cat lost in the woods near where my parents were building our house. She turned out to be pregnant and Rocky had three kittens: Blackie, Spots, and Tiger, who provided me friendship throughout my youth and a warm lap when needed on cold mornings waiting for the school bus.

Star continued to provide companionship and occasional antics worthy of a submission to "World's Craziest Pets" for the next 17 years, lasting longer than my first wife and stepdaughter. He moved up to Pennsylvania with me in Summer 1997 when I got a job here (one of my fondest memories is him sitting on the dashboard watching the cars go by in the middle of the night at an Interstate rest area).

During the middle of his life, he contracted diabetes at 25 pounds and fell to less than 10. I had to give him a shot in the neck with insulin, twice a day for about 8 years, (which led to an amusing story about Wal-Mart paging "Star Ferrell" to the pharmacy) but he had recently recovered from the disease. After the separation in Summer 2010, he helped me survive the loneliness of an empty house by being the only thing living and breathing there, who would greet me at the door. He had, indeed, been through it all.

He even was lucky enough to meet my new girlfriend and her daughter, who moved in 16 years later (nearly to the day) after I had welcomed him into my apartment. But Kristi was allergic to cats (as am I, but mine can be overcome by medicine while hers is life-threatening) and Star was becoming incontinent in his old age, so I moved him into the upstairs bathroom for a couple months while Kristi and I were dating, then again to the downstairs laundry room in preparation for Kristi and her daughter to move in.

In December 2011, we started talking about moving Kristi's dog into the house. Star had lived with a dog before, and didn't think it was so grand (she put his head into her mouth routinely and he once scratched a major artery in her leg causing it to spray blood). So I was a little worried about how it would work out.

But, it would seem, he had different plans. Around the holidays, he stopped eating and started to look sick, though his little smile was still there as always, and he would still purr to be stroked. Dogs may howl, but cats loyalty to their masters dictates that they don't let you know when they are in pain. (They actually believe that the pain is external so they run away or hide in a corner to try to get away from it).

And on the evening of January 3rd, 2012, four days before we were to move the dog in, Star decided it was time to let go. After hearing a wanton meow unlike those we had heard before, Kristi and I decided to make time to give him special attention that evening. We petted him for a while. He purred and smiled, looking much better than he had in weeks, looking so happy, then I held him in my arms as he passed from this world.

We were thankful that it happened that way, with our love, and without an expensive trip to the vet, which we both knew would only extend his life for a few weeks, at great expense. The next day, I made the last cold drive to the vets with Star (wrapped up in the blanket he used to sleep on), and for roughly the same price as I had obtained him, I let him go. A few days later I received a heart-tugging poem and his footprint in clay from the vet, and this chapter of my life closed.

I've been working for the last few weeks on going through old videos of him, and getting the collage of photos shown above together, and have now hung it in the laundry room in memoriam, to decorate his last home. Here's how it looks:

R.I.P. Starlight "Star" Ferrell 1995-2012. He was a Good Kitty.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Benefits of Knowing Jesse

The other day, a Pennsylvania couple found a purple squirrel. Accuweather.com broke the story, and my Jesse created a Facebook page and Twitter account for said squirrel.
We spent the next few days promoting Purple Squirrel and posting comments on "his" page. Today one of my posts, which Jesse retweeted, made it onto a local news report in Philadelphia. Here is that report! Watch for me!