Monday, November 25, 2013

SuSu - A New York Cat Story

We were all devastated when our cat Simon died. Samara kept saying at random intervals. "Simey died," or "Simey went bye bye."

Just a few weeks before Simon died, Ari and I were passing by a local bodega on the way home from school when we noticed a kitten walk outside onto the sidewalk.

"Get her, Mommy! We have to save her or she might run into the street and get dead!" Ari said frantically. So we brought her back inside the deli.

Ever since that day, we made it a point to visit the deli after school and see SuSu, which is what the store employees named her.

We would play with her and hold her. She particularly enjoyed batting my dangling earrings around. Sometimes she would just curl up with Ari on the floor.

After a while, the kids and I became attached to SuSu.

One day, suddenly (after sixteen years of life) our cat Simon passed away. We were left with a empty place in our home and in our hearts.

The day Simon died, I went to the bodega to see if SuSu was there. In my mind, I thought, if she was there, I would ask the owner if we could have her. We'd bonded with her so much over the past couple of weeks, I felt as if she already was our cat. But SuSu was nowhere to be found.
"I think she's taking a nap behind the paper towels up there." Said the guy who worked behind the counter.

I came back the next day and there was SuSu happily laying in her favorite spot, next to the apples and bananas in the window sill of the deli. I turned to Ali, the owner of the deli and asked:
"Do you think we could have her? We're really attached to her, and our cat just passed away."
"Well, you know, the customers really love her," Ali said "And we need a cat."
"How about this, just think about it?" I asked hopefully.
"Okay, I'll think about it." He said with a small smile.

We returned to the bodega every day after that for several more days. Every couple of days I would ask Ali again:
"Do you think we could keep her?"
"I don't know. We really need a cat. But I'll think about it." He'd always reply.

One day, I asked one my friend Amanda how to say "good deed" in Arabic. I can't for the life of me remember how to say it now, but I came to Ali and told him in Arabic that giving us the cat would be a good deed. He smiled and said (predictably) "Okay, I'll think about it."

Today, I went into the deli to say hi to SuSu. Ali turned to me and said:
"So you can have her. But I will need your address and phone number. If you could bring her back once every couple of months for a week, if there's a mouse or something, it's a deal."
"Really?" I asked in disbelief. "Thank you so much!"

I quickly scribbled my address and phone number on a tiny scrap of receipt paper and thanked Ali profusely. Then I picked up SuSu and carried her home in my arms since Ali didn't have a cat carrier.

The other day, I asked Ari "What would you name SuSu if Ali says we can keep her?"
"Carly." He said. I thought about it and it was the perfect name. What immediately sprang to mind was the folk artist Carly Simon, which made me think: Simon! Naming her Carly was like a homage to Simon.

So Carly is the newest member to our home, and we love her so much already.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Simon Book

Dear Simon,

I remember the day Brian and I found you at BARC shelter in Brooklyn. You had no tail and you were wrestling with a white cat named Cody. Joanna, who worked there, said you were a special boy. She was right. For the past 11 years you have been there for me through everything in my life. You were there through heartbreaks, good times and awful times. You snuggled with me when I was sad and slept next to my chest when I was sick.

You were a wise professor.

I loved how you were great with other animals. You loved dogs, bunnies, and other cats too!

You loved to eat any and all food, but you especially loved oatmeal and apples. You would eat anything though, including  licking the cap of my dad's Diet Coke.

I'm so glad you got to see my children and be in their lives, but let's face it: you were my first child.

Ari and I made a book with our memories of you in it. It was Ari's idea.

Hopefully, I be able to stop crying soon. I really miss you. 

I will never forget you. 

I love you, Simon. 

I know you're up there in heaven stealing some old man's scrambled eggs and purring about it. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Please Stop Screaming - Zombies Are Not Eating Us

Samara is two and a half-ish and she has developed this delightful habit of screaming when she doesn't get what she wants. I know (in my mind) that it's a phase. She won't be screaming for the rest of her life.  I don't reinforce the screaming by giving her what she wants when she's shattering the glass windows in my apartment with her screeching. But still, I'm starting to lose whatever sanity I might have had left.

I'm so tired of the screaming. It makes me cranky.

Every time she screams I say "Please stop screaming and tell me what you want."

This tends to get her to stop for a minute, but then five minutes later something else pisses her off and she's screaming again.

I mean, I know it's hard to be two. I get it. You have limited control over what you wear or what your day's activities are going consist of, but can you please do me a favor and stop screaming about it?

For example, if Ari took your dollhouse away, just say "Hey Mommy! Ari took my dollhouse!" You don't need to scream so loud that my ears feel like someone shot an arrow through them.

Perhaps you object to whatever I served you for lunch. Instead of deafening me and showing me your bright pink tonsils, you could try saying "I don't want to eat that."

Maybe you don't want to wear that green shirt. That's cool. All you need to do is say "I want to wear my pink shirt." There's really no need to act as if zombies are about to eat our brains, the house is burning down and I told you that you can never have a cupcake again in your entire life.

In summation, just tell me what it is you want and stop scaring the shit out of me.

Thank you.

Monday, November 4, 2013


This Halloween we went trick or treating on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. We stopped at all the various stores. The kids were happy to fill their 99 cent store plastic pumpkin baskets with candy loot. 

As we were collecting the goods I kept thinking about how different it was trick or treating when I was little. I lived in a ten story building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We used to ring every apartment doorbell and try to get as much candy as possible. 

Then I thought about how trick or treating would be for kids who grew up in the suburbs or the country. It must be fun to knock on actual house doors! I've never had that experience as a city kid. 

How was your Halloween?  Boo!