Riley and the Kittens

Posted on September 3rd, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

Legend has it that she was a 9/11 survivor, found as a kitten, along with her brother Mackey, in Battery Park City shortly after the dust settled, abandoned or orphaned by a mother cat who may have perished in the attacks. It was probably just a story made up by the dude at the animal shelter in the hopes that they would be adopted quickly, but as the saying goes, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

In the end, Riley McAllen lived 17 years, had two confirmed mouse kills, and was admired by all those who came in contact with her. She will be missed.

She came to live with me through a series of fortunate, and no so fortunate events, during a previous relationship. When a fat-bottomed … Read More »

Buster and Bella

Posted on August 7th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. 1 Comment

It always starts out in an inauspicious manner. You meet someone new, and they wind up changing your entire world. In this case, the “someone new” is a Russian Blue named Buster.

A few weeks ago, my wife noticed a new addition among the backyard denizens that includes possums, an occasional raccoon, a family of Cardinals, and at least three different cats.

Make it four.

On the first encounter, Val was quick to note how beautiful the cat was; my response of course was, “Don’t feed it.”

Pretty soon, she started calling him Buster. “Hey buster. Whatcha doing Buster?” I knew we were in trouble. It was just a matter of time. After a few nights of investigation, Buster managed to break into the backyard trash container and help himself to the leftovers of … Read More »

Zack, Me and Split Rock Road

Posted on May 28th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

He sets his alarm for 4am, but much like the 9-year-old still living deep inside him, he wakes up at 2:30, and can’t fall back to sleep. So rather than toss and turn, he slips quietly from his bed, and heads downstairs in the dark. After cruising the news sites for an hour, he deactivtes his Facebook page, and heads out at 5am. His journey will take him north, past Oneonta, to the woods just south of Cooperstown, to the land of baseball, Zack Miller, and Split Rock Road.


          Every Memorial Day Weekend for the past 35 or so years, my childhood friends and I, a rotating cast of characters, have gone … Read More »


Posted on September 13th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

They have a saying where I come from, “Hurt people, hurt people.”
It’s a play on words. You can say that it’s a perverted form of “Do unto others as others have done unto you.” In some ways, I’ve lived my life according to that code.

Things weren’t always so pretty in the McAllen household growing up. In fact, it was downright shameful at times. I was the first kid on my block to come from a broken home, a vile indignation that must have been the fodder for much dinner time gossip back in 1972. And with it came the inevitable financial difficulties. There’s poor, and then there’s dirt poor. We were somewhere in between. As a result, the clothes weren’t as nice, the sneakers had more than one hole, and invitations to events that cost money … Read More »

5 Hours

Posted on June 13th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

5 Hours.
It’s an extra-inning baseball game.
It’s a half a day of work.
It’s the equivalent of the drive to Boston.
But when you’re sitting in the waiting room as your wife is having brain surgery, it’s an eternity.

Eternity has just begun.

It’s been a 6 month process. Valarie was having a few dizzy spells back in November, and when she had one after returning home from Thanksgiving dinner, I forced her to go to the ER, despite her loud protestations. While there, we were informed, quite incidentally, that Valarie had a 4mm aneurysm in her brain. Sounds pretty scary, but it looks pretty innocuous on an MRI; like a 4 year old who doesn’t know how to color inside the lines yet.

Since then, we did our research, … Read More »

The Divided States of America

Posted on January 26th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

It’s 3am. I can’t sleep. I haven’t slept properly in weeks. I fall asleep at 11pm, and I’m wide awake at 2am, mind racing, with no chance of going back to sleep. And so, I wander the hallways of my mind.

i.e. — I go on Facebook.

I’ve never been one to worry about the economy, or the environment, or the state of affairs in Bangalahara. Then again, I’ve never had a family before.

On Nov 8th, 2016, Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States of America. I didn’t vote for him. I didn’t vote for Hillary either. I voted for the guy with the bad haircut that couldn’t name one world leader. That’s how bad it had become. When Trump won, half the country lost its’ collective mind. People were literally marching in the … Read More »

I ruined Christmas – again.

Posted on December 25th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

I ruined Christmas — again

Ok, not really.
Well, kinda.

Ok. A little background first.

I’m not a big fan of Christmas. It’s the most stressful holiday imaginable. Not only do you have crowds, and traffic, and shopping and spending ridiculous amounts of money, you encounter the dual stress inducers of
A. Trying to buy a gift for someone that you don’t really know.
B. Receiving that horrible or unwanted gift.

When I was a youngster, I had my very first anxiety attack after seeing one of my male cousins get a pair of Jordache jeans from one of my aunts. For 20 minutes I sat there sweating, worrying about how I was going to fake it when my turn came to open my gifts. Imagine my relief when … Read More »

To sleep, perchance to dream –

Posted on November 18th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

apnea — from the Greek, apnoia, which means breathless.

For those of you who follow my blog, you may have heard that I recently changed job locations; from Soho in Manhattan, to Orangeburg in Rockland County, NY.

I know, right? What the hell is in Orangeburg?

Well, the answer is me… four times a week. My 18-minute commute is now 90… on a good day. Tuesday and Wednesday were not good days. Both days were two hours plus to get home. As I trudged up the stairs to my home, I resolved to quit my job. Then I realized that cat food and high-speed wi-fi don’t come free, so when night falls, I get back in the Sonata and head towards the GW Bridge.

This week, I had resolved to do two things:
1 — Disconnect from facebook for … Read More »

Searching for Zack

Posted on October 15th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

When I woke up on Friday morning, it was cold. Not bone-chilling cold;
not winter cold, but just enough to make me dread the oncoming winter. I decided that staying in my sweats and lazing around the couch was the order of the day. I had ideas about going to the gym, but that quickly went by the wayside. Instead, I compromised by walking the 15 blocks to the Post Office to mail a copy of my book to someone who’s probably never going to read it.

When I got home, my lovely bride was bursting through the door, a smile plastered on her face.
“I have a 4 day weekend!”
I had forgotten. My jealousy raged.
“Watta ya wanna do tonite?” She inquired.
I shrugged my shoulders. I was content to stay right where I was.

Then I read this … Read More »

The Ballad of Val and Jim

Posted on October 9th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

One of the big problems with being happy and content, and in fact, the “only” problem with being happy and content, is that art suffers because of it. Certainly my art has. Other than a couple of witty Facebook posts, I haven’t written a damn thing since I finished Pretentious. This week, I set out to change that.

On Wed, Sept 28th, I left work with the biggest smile on my face, buoyed by the fact that I wouldn’t have to return for 12 glorious days. And without any definitive travel plans, I was free to do whatever I wanted. And all I really wanted was to write, exercise and spend some stress-free, quality time with Mrs. McAllen.

Valarie had to work on Thursday and Friday, so I got those days all to myself. Thursday happened to be my 29th … Read More »