Gavin St. Ours

Writing in San Francisco

March 31st, 2014 by Gavin St. Ours

March 2014 Music Journal

For a little over a year I've kept a running journal of music that's crossed my path. Sometimes it's a song I heard in a store or coffee shop. Sometimes it's a song that popped into my head for no obvious reason. Sometimes it's a new song I heard for the first time and didn't want to forget.

When I go back and listen to the playlist, I can remember exactly where I was when it happened. Music helps me remember.

In some months, the playlist is long. In other months, like this one, the playlist is short. Here are some highlights. The whole thing is over on Rdio if you're interested (and embedded up top).

"When Walter Went Crazy" - Drive-By Truckers

This song is gorgeous. I don't know if it was because I was on the cusp of my 34th birthday when I first heard it or if I was tired after a long day at work, but this song made me bawl at my desk in front of my computer and cat and girlfriend. It would have been embarrassing if the song wasn't that good.

Anything from Kudos to You! - Presidents of the United States of America

This band is back in a big way. Their new album is so good and so perfect for warm weather that I look forward to listening to it all through the summer. They're on my wish list of bands I hope get booked at Outside Lands this year.

"Love is to Die" - Warpaint

Warpaint is opening for Queens of the Stone Age next month and I'm really stoked to see both bands. This song is my current favorite from their self-titled album, and it's really close to the tone of the book I'm writing.

"Sheep Go to Heaven" - Cake

This song gets better and better with age. In fact, most Cake songs age really, really well. If you haven't gone back to Prolonging the Magic in a while, I suggest it.

February 9th, 2014 by Gavin St. Ours

Happy Second Birthday, Willow

Willow on her second birthday.

My cat Willow turns two years old right about now. I don't know for sure when she was born because her litter was discovered behind someone's house in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore in mid-February of 2012. At the time, I'd been thinking about adopting a cat, but I was allergic and wasn't sure if it was a great idea. My friend Andy adopted two of the kittens and posted pictures to Twitter. My heart melted and I asked him if there were any more that needed homes and he connected me with the family. As it turned out, they had one kitten left. Allergies be damned.

On Easter, I picked up an old cat carrier that my parents still had from when we had cats growing up. I cleaned it out, put a soft towel in the bottom, and drove over to the family's house.

I met them in the early afternoon, right after they had come back from church. Their place was kind of a mad house. The woman who had posted the adoption notice to Craigslist greeted me and went inside to fetch the kitten while I waited on the porch with her grandmother, a sweet old Baltimore gal who spoke to me as though I was an old family friend, possibly mistaking me for someone else. She spoke about relatives as though I knew their backstories and was familiar with all the drama.

The woman came back outside and told me they couldn't find the cat. She had a small boy in tow, about five years old, who had been running around after church and chased the cat into hiding. They kicked him out onto the porch with me and grandma while she went back inside, this time enlisting the help of her mother. I wasn't sure if the five-year-old was her son or not. She treated him like a little brother, asking him to stay outside and if he had a toy he'd like to play with. He wanted his plastic firetruck.

I waited for about an hour while the woman and her mother searched the house. It was early spring, one of the first warm weekends of the year, so I didn't mind too much. A group of hispanic teenagers a few houses down admired the stereo in their friend's car. The grandmother made some comments about the neighborhood going downhill.

Every ten minutes or so, the woman or her mother would pop outside with an update. "We think she's hiding in the closet," they'd say, or, "We moved all the furniture looking for her. It's a mess in there," or, "We think she's in the back of a closet. We're emptying it out now." They'd apologize for making me wait. I wondered if I'd be going home empty-handed and realized the thought made me sad. It turned out that I'd already made up my mind and that this cat was as good as mine.

In the end, she produced the kitten, small enough to fit in my cupped hands, and said "Here she is! Have a great day." I put Willow into the carrier and she was mine.

The vet, who examined Willow the next day, guessed she was about eight to ten weeks old, which means she was born sometime toward the end of the first half of February.

Willow is an awesome cat. She's lived in Baltimore, Atlanta, and San Francisco with me. She makes me laugh and always knows the perfect moment to curl up in my lap (and also the worst moments to curl up in my lap, like when I'm trying to write.) And the best part? I've never been allergic to her. I have no idea how. It just worked out that way.

Happy second birthday, tiny cat.