pet names.

Another intriguing revelation that probably will seem cool to only me. A new student I’m tutoring I shall call Lucyna. She has just arrived to Cleveland for two months to visit her daughter. She has very little knowledge of English, save what she had learned 30 or more years ago in elementary school.

As we were discussing her family, Lucyna told me that she has a dog. A little beagle named Ally (or, as she spells it, Ali). The fun part about this is that her daughter had named the beagle after the title character of Ally McBeal.

Big deal. Many people do that. Name their pets after famous people or famous characters. It just so happens that my brother owns a dog, it’s a beagle, and it’s named after a famous TV character. Its name is Bauer, taken from the lead character of 24.

Two beagles given names of TV characters. Not a bad place to find them. Therefore, the next cat I shall have will be given this delightful and well-known moniker: The Situation. I’ll just make sure the it’s neutered before anything unpredictable happens in the neighborhood.



As I was drifting off into sleep last night, my mind began skiing down and around endless swaths of evergreens – picking up memories like a strong gust of wind hitting my face as I swerved down the large hill to the bottom.

The first thing that came to me was when I found spatters and drops of blood along with dirtied tissues littered across the bathroom floor the day before I left for Las Vegas, July of 2007. My grandmother had cut her foot some time in the middle of the night; I had been out late and was quietly making my way to my bedroom when I took a glance in the bathroom and saw the mess, dreading the worst, only to find my grandmother asleep and – upon waking – oblivious to the fact that she had cut herself and had bled profusely on the floor.

The scene changed.

This time it was me in Istanbul in February of 2008. I was running along empty Kadıköy streets at two in the morning. My pal, Anthony, had just had a housewarming party. Another lojman roommate headed back with me. A good six inches had already fallen, coating the streets with marzipan drifts. No footprints anywhere; humans and animals staying far from the elements. No cabs, no vehicles to tarnish the main roads. Tyler and I – both quite tipsy – began flinging the compact-able snow at one another. We were the only ones to bring noise to the darkness. Lamplights continued to shine, providing an amber tint to the sky and to the ground, sparkling snow beneath each light. Frost clung to my beard for a good long while even after getting back indoors. Istanbul shut down for three or four days.

The next image was Mary and I eating margarita pizza before seeing Franz Ferdinand in concert in Columbus. This happened in 2009. We both were raving about the pizza; we ate it all there. We waited in line for the concert not long after. I sneezed, and the 16-year-old girls in front of us began to whisper nervously to one another. I heard something about flu and I immediately knew they were discussing whether or not I had contracted swine flu, and most likely were discussing if they had received any flyaway specks of saliva from my sneeze – which I had covered well. I wondered aloud if I would be able to survive the evening without fainting – for “my forehead felt quite warm to the touch.”

Jigsaw #4: recalling St. Patrick’s Day in 2007, when I was a bartender and becoming more and more depressed at the fact that I was doling out drinks, receiving really meager tips, not getting many responses to inquiries as to what was happening with people (after I got off work), wondering what the hell I was doing with my life after almost a year of getting very little out of the B.A. I had received. Little did I know, even two months, three, four months later that I would be taking an airplane in October of that year. There my life would change drastically. I would find out that teaching was more in my blood than I had anticipated or desired even as I was making highballs and vodka martinis to drunk partiers on the 17th of March, four years ago.

Four years ago. It’s been that long. So I thought of September of 2007. I got to see the Indians come from behind and beat the Tigers to win the Central Division! I was four rows behind home plate for that game. Casey Blake was still on the team. He got a pie to the face. The rally-pie-to-the-face  tomfoolery became a big fad after that; I kept wondering if there was a team who started it before we did.

Later that same month, I had an interview with English Time. It was more them telling me there was a spot open for me after talking with them for 20-30 minutes. One month later, I was in the skies. I was flying to Dublin and sat next to this 55-year-old Irish woman who talked and talked all the time about random things I don’t remember. She even talked while I was watching Arrested Development on one of the in-flight channels. That same morning, arriving early at the hostel in Dublin, I found out that the Cleveland Indians lost Game 7 to the Boston Red Sox; no World Series for us. Saddened, I left my bags at the hostel and made it to the Jameson Distillery and grew mighty sloshed as I hadn’t had anything to eat after the overnight flight.

I ran into someone at a bar that same night who was studying abroad in London. He was a Clevelander, grew up in Shaker Heights, was an Indians fan. He was staying at the same hostel I was. We had a shot of whiskey to toast to a great season – albeit too short (even though it was longer than it had been and would be for the next few years).

All these things happened four, three, two years ago. A lot of time between then and now. I fell asleep to all this. I first told myself I would not try to connect these thoughts together; as I look back, a lot of my stray thoughts soon found connection with chains that now cannot be severed.