Soft Kitty, Stoned Kitty

If you’ve followed me for any significant amount of time, you know how important music is to my life. Tara and I have seen so many concerts over the past six years, we’ve lost track of the number. We were trying to figure this out a few nights ago and gave up, declaring it an impossible task. Our best guess? We’ve seen about 100 bands, give or take a dozen.

Knowing this, a blog reader recently asked a random question.

What is the music/entertainment scene like in Rapid City? Are you guys going to be going from The Music Hall of the Northwest to The Church Basement Puppet Show of the Midwest?

I couldn’t help but chuckle over her perception, because she basically hit the nail on the head. Portland is a hotbed of music venues and great shows, while Rapid City is…not a hotbed of music venues and great shows.

But that’s okay. I long ago came to terms with the idea of “retiring” from concert-going. If we never see another live show, that’ll be alright, because there aren’t many artists left that we haven’t seen or care about seeing (though it would be great if The Moondoggies came to town – are ya listening, Kevin?!). Plus, there’s the expense and the hassle and the ever-present danger of tinnitus.

Still, it would be nice to have a few options, you know? Currently we can travel to Deadwood to see has-beens or never-was’s perform in casinos, or catch somebody like Luke Bryan in the civic center. Neither is particularly appealing. So when an initiative to build a new arena in Rapid City hit the ballot, I was stoked. Voters were given a choice on Tuesday: renovate the aging, non-ADA compliant, too-small current Barnett Arena, or build a fancy new one.

I’d been following this measure with keen interest, bummed that we were unable to cast a vote ourselves. We missed the June 5 election by less than three weeks! Fortunately, the measure passed, and our soon-to-be-hometown will have a shiny new $130 million arena in a couple of years. Woo-hoo! Our concert-going days might not be over just yet.

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Sorry, buddy. Your days are numbered.

Good job, Rapid City. You’ve done me proud.


In other news, we tested out the Gabupentin Sydney’s veterinarian prescribed last week. Holy crap: that stuff works like a charm! I broke open a capsule on Sunday evening and mixed it into her wet food as instructed. Apparently it really is odorless and tasteless, because Sydney scarfed it down without a second thought. Two hours later, she was stumbling around like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and could barely lift her head. Before long she stopped trying, and pretty much plopped down and went to sleep. But it was a weird kind of semi-consciousness, because her eyelids never completely closed. It was actually heartbreaking to witness. We felt badly for her, but reminded ourselves that the medication is harmless. If anything, she was probably feeling really, really mellow. And the next morning she was back to her regular self, showing no signs of being stoned 12 hours earlier. So now we have confirmation: the medication will knock her out and she shouldn’t have a care in the world about being stuck in a car for a whole day.

We’d planned on taking her for a test drive before leaving, but at this point there is no time left for that. I think I’m going to try the first leg of our drive without medicating her. It’s about six hours to Spokane (probably have to figure on seven with the U-Haul and trailer); she’ll either cry the whole time or settle down after a little while. I’m hoping for the latter, but if not, I’ll just turn up the music and dose her up with Gabupentin for the all-day drive across Idaho and Montana the next day.

Countdown: 15 Days

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242-Year Old Spoiler

I’m currently reading David McCullough’s “1776,” a book that chronicles that pivotal year in American history. Thanks to Hamilton, I’m inspired to learn more about the American Revolution. I’m a bit of a war buff anyway and while I’m quite familiar with both WWII and the Vietnam War, my knowledge of the American Revolution is lacking.

So far, the book is everything I hoped. Gripping and illuminating. I can see why George Washington is so revered; he was quite the charismatic leader, but McCullough stops short of mythologizing the man. It’s clear Washington was a mortal human with doubts and fears that certainly rivaled those of his contemporaries. And he never truly believed he was deserving of the honor of commanding the Continental Army.

In any case, I’d gotten about halfway through the book, and it’s already mid-December of that year. With another 180 pages remaining and 1776 rapidly drawing to a close, I could not help but wonder about his famous crossing of the Delaware. I began to question my knowledge of American history. It did take place in 1776, right?! Curious, I googled the info and learned that, yes, Washington’s crossing of the Delaware in a surprise attack on the Hessian forces in Trenton occurred in 1776. December 25-26, to be exact. Because I am currently reading about events on December 18, I was immediately annoyed. “Spoiler alert!” I muttered out loud, and then laughed over my reaction. I’m pretty sure historical events that occurred 242 years ago can hardly be considered spoilers, and yet, I was mad at Wikipedia for a minute there. So I just stopped reading and went back to my book.

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I’m dying to know whether it’s the British or the Americans who emerge victorious, but for god’s sake, DON’T TELL ME!


Yesterday we crossed one more item off our Farewell Tour list. It may turn out to be the last, actually. I’d wanted to see the Pacific Ocean one final time, so we spent the day on the Oregon coast.

After dropping by the leasing office to turn in our final rent check – and by the way, kiss my ass for charging us $1,487 for less than a full month’s rent (god, I will not miss the cost of living here!) – we headed west. 100 miles later we arrived in Cannon Beach, where we grabbed a bite to eat at Ecola Seafood Market. I have enjoyed many a clam strip there; the food never disappoints. After lunch we drove south, deciding to check out Manzanita, one of the few towns along that stretch of U.S. 101 we’d never been. We wandered the beach for awhile, and were mesmerized by the parasurfers catching gnarly air. Probably spent a solid half hour just watching them.

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Look at that sky! We lucked out and enjoyed perfect weather the whole day. If you are at all familiar with the Oregon coast, you know how rare days like this are. Even in the middle of summer, it’s more likely to be gray and damp there. It was cold; there’s always a stiff wind blowing off the ocean, and we shivered in our hoodies while walking along the beach. But the blue skies were phenomenal, and away from the ocean, it was very pleasant. In the upper 60s or so.

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After we’d filled up on parasurfing, we headed back north to Cannon Beach, ducking into a bar for a few cocktails and a mid-afternoon snack of hummus, veggies, and pita bread. I ordered the “Aloha Mule,” a Moscow mule made with pineapple vodka and a splash of both pineapple and cranberry juice. And another, and another….let’s just say we happily killed a couple of hours there.

We headed out to the beach next, and walked down to Haystack Rock. “Goonies” fans know this sight well!

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There was a lot of quiet, contemplative reflection during this walk. I did not shy away from the water, regardless of how cold it was; I let it wash over my feet, and thought of how the Pacific Ocean has been my sanctuary for the better part of two decades. In fact, I did the math last night and figured out that I have lived in states either bordering or surrounded by the ocean for 87.7% of my life (I was very precise, lol), so the Midwest is going to feel like a true novelty.

Despite this, there was no sadness. It may have been bittersweet, knowing that the ocean – which has always been a mere 90-minute drive away, there for me whenever I needed a bit of salt water therapy – will no longer be accessible. But I am too excited for all of the upcoming adventures that await us to dwell on any sort of melancholy. I imagine the vastness of the Great Plains will provide moments of solitude and soul-quenching, too.

We debated hanging around until sunset, but at this time of year that is pushing 9:00, and we still had a long drive home. So rather than stick around for another two hours, we bid the Pacific Ocean farewell with one final glance over our shoulders before we began the long trek home.

Next week is Tara’s last at her job. And look at this, folks…

Countdown: 19 Days

Sleep Away Montana

Holy crap. It’s June.

There have been a lot of milestone dates as we counted down to our move – January 1 comes to mind (“we’re moving this year!”), as well as March 15 (“99 days – we’re down to double digits now!”) – but none have felt as momentous as today. Because now I can say we are moving this month!

It boggles my mind. I mean, on the surface this just feels like any old Friday, turning of the calendar page notwithstanding. But when this month draws to a close, our lives are going to be dramatically different than they are today. The office I’ve worked in for three years, the apartment I’ve lived in for four, the city I’ve called home since 1996 (!) – all will no longer be a part of my life. It doesn’t even feel like that’s possible, and yet, here we are. Barreling toward that moving date like a runaway locomotive. With broken brakes. Going downhill.

And actually, when July 1 rolls around, we’ll have been living in Rapid City for a week already. I won’t say it’ll feel like old hat by then – I’m sure the novelty will take a long time to wear off – but it won’t be a brand new new thing, either.

Three weeks, man. Three weeks.

This explains why we’ve been so damn productive lately. In the past week we have found a place to live, set up cable/internet and scheduled an installation appointment, Tara bought new tires for her vehicle, I changed the phone number I’ve had for 15 years, and we picked up a hand truck to assist with the move.

Panic is a great motivator, it would appear.

Part of the preparation included taking Sydney to the veterinarian. Our new apartment lease requires proof of current pet immunizations, and I realized that I had not taken my cat in to the vet clinic since I first adopted her. In 2007. Yes, I know that was 11 years ago. I feel badly about that, but at the same time, she is strictly an indoor cat and has never had so much as a single flea, let alone any health problems.

So I scheduled an appointment for yesterday morning and showed up promptly at 9:00. I apologized to the vet that I didn’t have any prior history on Sydney because I’d been lax in my cat dad duties, but there was no judgment on their parts. Instead, they raved over her. Called Sydney a “model patient” and said they wished every cat that came in was as chill as mine. You know, I’ve said many times over the years that Sydney is the best cat ever. I even use that hashtag on Instagram when posting pics of her. Y’all probably just assumed I’m biased, but everybody says that. Even those who profess not to like cats. Actually, the word they end up using is “cool.” And the staff at Hearthwood Dog & Cat Clinic were no exception. They commented on her great personality and even said that calicos are notoriously, umm, not-quite-so-nice. I’d always assumed they were quite docile based on Sydney, but I guess not!

She was super nervous in there; her heart was racing at 210 bpm, but that is because she never, ever leaves the apartment. The car ride in a small plastic box, followed by a strange, brightly-lit room with a bunch of people poking and prodding her freaked her out, I’m sure. Fortunately, she got a perfectly clean bill of health. In fact, the vet could not believe that she’s 12 years old. She’s got good eyes, excellent teeth, a strong heart, a healthy coat, and is the perfect weight. The veterinarian kept telling me “good job!” as if I had something to do with my cat’s excellent genes, but hey – that more than made up for the bad job I did in not bringing her in for regular exams, so I’ll take the kudos. Sydney did not even flinch when they gave her shots for rabies and distemper; the vet said she was probably so hopped up on adrenaline she didn’t feel a thing.

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Sydney being a trooper.

And before we left, she gave me a small bottle of Gabapentin in 100 mg capsules. “This will help with the road trip,” she said. I wanted to make a joke about how it’s okay, I’ve got stronger stuff I’ll be snorting the night before, but then I realized the pills are for my cat. You can understand my confusion, though; Gabapentin is actually a human drug used to treat pain and control seizures. Turns out veterinarians use it as a mild sedative for cats, as it reduces fear and anxiety and causes them drowsiness. She suggested I try it out on Sydney in advance before dosing her up, but assuming she tolerates it without any problems the stuff should keep her nice and mellow for about 12 hours. I’m hoping she sleeps her way across Montana.

Tonight we’ve got a show at the Doug Fir Lounge. We’re going to see Damien Jurado, an indie singer/songwriter who is sort of a cross between Nick Drake, Neil Young, and Lou Reed. Weird that this will be our last concert in the PNW! Then on Saturday we’re driving to Cannon Beach to say goodbye to the ocean.

Audrey graduates in one week. Our farewell party at Shanahan’s is the next day. Wow – things are happening so fast now!

Countdown: 21 Days