Goin’ to Cargo City


Goin’ to Cargo City, Cargo City here I come.

They got some pretty little kitties there and I’m-a gonna get me one.

There’s my pretty little Zzyzzy curled up in a plastic crate labeled Live Animals, nestled away in a corner of the United Airlines cargo building! A ball of fur wrapped in a riddle of fear inside a mystery of confusion inside the enigma of a cat carrier. O the humanity! O the felinity!

Don’t be glaring at me, you brought this on yourself.

O Zzyzzy!

He’s always been a scaredy cat. When I sold and vacated my San Francisco flat, he’d hid behind the dryer but I was able to sniff him out. With two shifts of husky moving men commandeering my Portland apartment in my latest post-haste departure from an overrated and overpriced American city, he picked the dishwasher. But I have no idea how he accessed it, the space was not visible to me, and he was nowhere to be found as I was leaving town for a cross-country move back to my hometown of Philadelphia. Break my freakin’ heart, Zzyzzy! Take me from hyperventilating about an exciting road trip to gut-churning anxiety about leaving my beloved pet behind in the city I couldn’t wait to get out of.

But I could do nothing else.

There was no obvious hiding place left in the empty apartment, he wouldn’t answer my frantic calls, no one else had seen him, I couldn’t find him on the grounds. Zzzzzzzzy-zzzzzzzzy! Zzzzzzzzy-zzzzzzzzy! Finally, it was time to go, and I just plain had to. So I piled Zazu and Zahra into the truck and hopped in with the craigslist total stranger who’d emailed me three days before that he’d love to drive cross-country with me. Famous first words. We were several days on the road before my apartment manager called to say they’d found my cat, who’d peed it up on the rug in my absence, but it changed the tenor of my trip from panic to relief and joy.

Oddly, approaching my driver’s house before we left, I ran across the “wishing tree” on upper Hawthorne, whereon folks hang their wishes on ribbons. The first one I encountered read “I wish for a kitty.” Wow, me too!

I wish for a kitty
Here was my big chance to put it out to the universe. I wrote on one of the banners provided,

“Bring back my Zzyzzy to me.”

It worked!

The sickness of soul had weighed more than the 300-pound overage we had to get off the truck  before the mudflaps cleared the road. So before I even left we’d had to unload and sort through dozens of boxes of books, clothes, shoes, dishes, oddments, making split-second decisions about what to keep, donate, or trash–something I’d meant to do at home.

All’s well that ends well!

Cats do not take long to bounce back from misery, whether from five days in a confined space crossing 3000 miles overland, to flying the same distance and changing planes in San Francisco. After the initial period of adjustment, once the kibble and litter and safe spots are established, they go back to wanting their bellies rubbed. My own self, after I’d arrived in late July, I went from eagerness to get my new home together to exhausted relief that I am no longer at the mercy of the rental and job markets.


Lying around

with the air conditioner humming, the lemonade sweating, and the cats snoring.  I love new year’s eve, but September 1st has always been the real first day of the new year to me, the jump-start of everything after summer torpor. I’ve called it “the most hopeful day of the year” and am obsessively-compulsively obligated to quote myself for as many Septembers as I have left to do so. This year it marks the reincarnation of The Ax Files.


appeared on

www.sfbulldog.com from 2005 to 2014. At this time, they are passing through a wormhole in the space-time continuum and will emerge on this site sooner or, well, later. The Bulldog, still under the purview of beloved curmudgeon h brown, is often wrong but never silent.

Why is life so unfair?

♦ ♣ ♥ ♦

A cat is a puzzle for which there is no solution.
Hazel Nicholson
A puzzle wrapped in a riddle inside a mystery inside an enigma inside a cat carrier.

10 thoughts on “Goin’ to Cargo City”

  1. Note to Self: Photography’s all fine and good, but you’re still a writer you know. Get crackin’. Not with a whip. With your ax.

    -from the desk of
    The Right Honorable Alexandra Jones
    Mayor, Goof City

  2. A great start to the Ax Files, red ducks version. The cats oughta like them ducks!

    Seriously, I am very pleased that you’re home and can easily imagine your “exhausted relief that I am no longer at the mercy of the rental and job markets”. That’s the kind of long term stress that makes for short life spans.. you’re well rid of it!
    Looking forward to your journalistic expose’s.. I expect something like ‘The Hipster’s of Philly– True or Faux?’

    Welcome home– take care– your ol’ pal,.. Jim B

    1. I know there are things I don’t see myself doing–they need other eyes–but I am wholly unaware of having introduced red ducks into this ax file. I asked the cats; they’re not talking. I don’t know if Philly’s been hit by hipsters. It’s too big to generalize about it, I may not be hitting their haunts. Fox Chase is pretty much a suburb. My old hood, Center City, was its own world, Schuylkill to the Delaware. I used to live in the heart of the matter, in the 19103 zip surrounding Rittenhouse Square. I’ve never lived anywhere that required a car for essential services (rep movie houses, orchestras, lattes) but I am just grateful to have a safe haven. Public transpo is accessible but not particularly cheap. But I’m where I need to be right now. Goof City, that is.

  3. How refreshing, the first time I’ve ever heard a dis of Portland. Care to dis the dirt?
    It takes all kinds. You’re 9/1 New Year joy marks the same day as the melancholic end of my Endless Summer.
    Hope you’re happy in Philly. I always liked the village.

    1. Portland is one of the loveliest cities in the world. Walking around virtually any neighborhood is pleasant and relaxing, the greenery and tree canopies are soul-soothing, it’s closeby some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and natural resources. I can’t blame Portland for not having the kind of urban vibe I thrive on, but it’s not big enough for me–which was a trade-off in my prior incarnation because I could afford to live there. As soon as rents get out of bounds for single working folk, a city becomes overrated. If you can’t enjoy many of a city’s resources because most of your paycheck goes to rent, it needs to stop bragging about itself. As in any city where you have a sustainable niche, it would still be a nourishing place to live, but I wouldn’t advise anyone going in there cold, and I wouldn’t fight to stay there like I did, futilely, in San Francisco. I’ve actually missed some of the filth, crowded conditions, and danger of Philly and New York because it contributes big city edge. My living situation, though, is more suburban than urban and I’m not going to be a spoiled brat because I can’t live in Society Hill. I’m just happy to be home. Isn’t Indian summer the best time of the year in the Bay Area?

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