Friday, February 26, 2010

For Your Listening Pleasure

So I'm standing at the bus stop waiting, as you do, for the bus.  I'm fiddling idly with my bus card, looking right, looking left, basically anywhere but directly at the people standing around me.  One doesn't want to draw too much attention to oneself in these situations.  I'm plugged into my iPod.  Crisp white wires on prominent display, running from my ears to my coat pocket.  A clear warning signal to would be conversationalists--STEP OFF BITCH!--it says, or so I imagine.

I've been there, waiting, everyday at about the same time for about two months now.  Some of the faces are familiar to me.  I might smile and nod to some of the friendlier looking ones.  One doesn't want to appear rude, afterall.  But I'm careful not to let my gaze linger too long on any one person during these occasional exchanges.  Eye contact only ever leads to conversation, and conversation...well, see's not what I'm there for.

We all see the bus at about the same time.  It drives around a curve about half a kilometer away.  It'll be pulling up at the curb in less than a minute.  We make ourselves ready.

A sort of loose, jostling scrum forms around the approximate spot where we guesstimate the bus door will eventually open.  Some are only now getting around to pulling out bus cards or loose change for the fare.  Some idiots will wait until they're standing right in front of the driver.  I hate those idiots.  Me, I'm all ready, bus card in hand.  I have only to pull out an ear bud in order to greet the driver properly--again, one doesn't want to appear rude.

The scrum tightens reflexively as the bus pulls up to the curb.  I find myself standing next to an older woman.  One of the friendly, familiar faces to whom I've nodded from time to time.  My backpack knocks her purse off her shoulder as I'm pushed slightly from the right.  I pull the ear bud out my ear, give the woman a tight, chagrinned smile, and say, "Sorry."

She smiles back, and before I have a chance to look away again, she puts her hand on my arm and says, "I just have to say, it's always such a pleasure to see you here in the mornings.  You've got such a cheerful face.  You're always smiling."  She gives my arm a little pat, winks at me like we've just shared a conspiratorial little secret, then pushes ahead of me into the bus.

Who? Me?  Eh?

If she'd given me a chance, I would have been able to explain:  It's not me.  I'm actually a pretty god-awful bitch in the mornings.  Ask my kids.  There's not enough steaming, milky tea in all of Europe to sooth my rougher edges at 7 o'clock on a cold wintery morning.  It's the iPod.  It's David Sedaris.  I've got three of his books downloaded on to it, and the dude is funny.  Laugh-out-loud-even-at-7-o'clock-on-a-cold-wintery-morning funny.  At the precise moment when this kind woman chose to tell me what a cheerful face I had, I was listening to David Sedaris read a Christmas letter from a woman who put her daughter's crack baby in the washing machine.  I couldn't tell you exactly how, but trust me.....F.U.N.N.Y.  And apparently, I'm calling attention to myself at the bus stop listening to this stuff.

Whatever.  As long as the audible guffaws and wide, gapping grins are being interpretted as cheerfulness, and not madness, I'm going to keepright on listening to it.  Makes the time pass much quicker.  In fact, I often find myself wishing the commute was a bit longer.

David Sedaris.  Check him out.  He speaks to the darkness in your soul and makes it giggle.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

This I Did Not Need

The blog.  She is suffering.  I know.

I blame the calculus.  It's eating up the artsy, language side of my brain, and making me reluctant to write pithy prose.

Here's a story for you, though.  I think you'll like this one.  It's sure kept us up nights with the sheer hilarity of it all.

So, it all started Monday night.  Late Monday night.  Pretty much, technically Tuesday morning, I guess.  All night long, Cindy, the cat, was restless and unsettled.  Up and down, in and out, all over the place.  It wasn't enough to just shut the bedroom door.  I could hear her pacing up and down the stairs, jumping up and down from the window sills.  She was everywhere.  She would not settle.  I finally had to lock her in the living room just so I could sleep.

What is up with that god damn cat!  I muttered to myself as I climbed back into bed hoping against hope I would fall asleep fast now that the nuisance was contained.

She was just as restless the next morning.  In addition to the pacing, I noticed she was running to her litter box every ten minutes, licking herself like mad between visits, and far more vocal than usual.  Meow, meow meow right up in my face like she really needed me to listen to her this time.

Shit!  I don't know.  Bladder infection, maybe?  I have been rather lazy and just giving her dry food lately.  That's supposed to be bad for cats.  Right?  Mental note: pick up smelly, soft cat food on way home.

Elder Miss was home sick Tuesday, and she kept sending me SMS updates on the cat.  All day long I got these messages: "Cindy still pasing."  "Cindy seems sad."  "Cindy making werd noyses."  "Cindy is giving me a headake!"  You'd think T9 would be doing something for her spelling, but alas.....

I was starting to worry.  I assumed I'd have to call for an appointment.  I started wondering, how does one test a cat for a bladder infection?  Surely I would not be expected to procure a urine sample...?

But when I got home, she seemed fine.  She was purring and friendly and cuddly.  She happily lapped up the smelly, soft cat food I'd bought.  She drank.  She chased a dust bunny out from under the couch.  Mental note: enough with the fucking vectors, clean the house!  I persuaded myself that I had been imagining all the odd behavior.  She was fine.  By this time it was nearly 7 o'clock anyway.  The vet's office had long since closed. 

Then--around 9 o'clock--the yowling started.

Wait.  Allow me to rephrase that in order to more accurately describe the sound my sweet little kitty was making. 


Deep and low, way in the back of her throat. 


Ho.Lee.Shit.  I mean, clearly this was an animal in a great deal of pain.  All night long.  She'd pace and yowl.  Yowl and pace.  Collapse on the couch and rest a few minutes, then pace and yowl, yowl and pace.

I was beside myself with worry.  This must be more than a mere bladder infection.  A bowel blockage maybe.  She's all the time playing with those tiny, rubber Polly Pocket clothes.  Maybe she swallowed one that got stuck?  Around 3 o'clock in the morning I had managed to convince myself that what she had actually swallowed was one of my ear plugs, and those things swell up when they get wet.  I was pretty sure she'd be dead before the vet's office opened at 8 the following morning.

And yet--and I must emphasize this point--and yet, in between all the yowling and the frantic pacing, she was still very affectionate and sweet.  Still purring.  Still eating.  Still following us from room to room.  Still very much Cindy.

I called the vet's office from the bus the next morning.  I was bleary-eyed.  Exhausted.  I doubt I had slept more than an hour all night.  But I had an 8:30 biology class that I couldn't afford to miss because I'd already skipped two classes last week taking kids to doctor and dentist appointments. 

Upon hearing Cindy's symptoms, the lady on the phone kind of wanted me to bring her in right away, but when I explained that I had something to do that morning, was in fact already in town, but could bring her in later that afternoon, the receptionist sighed, clearly disappointed in my priorities (believe me, I was too), but agreed that as long as the cat was still eating, she'd probably hold out until 2:30 that afternoon.

I was having a hard time concentrating on much of what was going on in class.  As I said, I was dead tired, and pretty worried about Cindy.  What could it possibly be?  Cleary so uncomfortable, in so much pain, but still purring and tolerant of all the kids' cuddles and attention.  What is that?  And then, it hit me.  Biology.  Restlessness.  Yowling.  Purring, even.  

That little bitch is in heat!


As soon as I thought it, I knew it was true.  And I felt stupid.  So incredibly stupid for not seeing it sooner.  It was not all that long ago that Puss (my old Puss) was seriously sick, and in serious pain.  I know what a sick cat looks like, and not once during the drama of the past two days did Cindy strike me as a sick looking cat.  I mean, she sounded right enough like she was being eaten alive from the inside out by fire ants.  But then to take the time to chase a dust bunny?  Come on. 

I mean, duh.

I kept the appointment, of course.  Just to be sure.  The vet checked her over thoroughly.  Bent her every which way.  Cranked open her jaws.  Folded back her ears.  You should have seen Amanda's face as she watched the thermometer being shoved up poor Cindy's butt.  The horror!  After all that was done, the vet said kindly, "Ahem, well, it is queening season, you know.  Usually starts up about this time of year...." 

Blah blah blah.  I know.  I know.  When can we get her fixed?  I made the appointment for a week from Monday.  It's funny.  Even the kids, who were so eager to have kittens, after two days of listening to her yowling for a mate all night long, can't wait to have her bits unhinged.  Will she stop, Mom?  Will she stop making that God awful noise once she's fixed?  Man, I hope so!

As an interesting side note--just because I haven't blogged for two weeks--and it may be another two weeks before I get around to it again, so I might as well get in a nice long juicy one while I'm at it--while I was at the vet's office, during the examination, I damn near passed out.  Literally.  There I was, holding Cindy down while the vet was manhandling her nethers and giving me a mini lecture about feline estrus cycles, when I suddenly felt incredibly nauseous.  Seconds away from vomiting.  Then, just as suddenly, a clammy sweat washed over me and I knew I was about to pass out.  I barely got myself sat down and my head between my legs in time to stop it.

I had been feeling pretty shitty all day.  Two sleepless nights and another math test coming up that I've been struggling to prepare for had pretty much gotten the better of me.  I was crashing fast, and I knew it.  But I don't think that's why I nearly fainted for Cindy's vet.  I think it had to do with Puss.  The last time I was in that office was the day they took Puss away from me....or...okay....I gave him to them.  But it was awful, and they didn't even ask if I wanted to be there with him when he went.....

There's just something about the smell.  That wet-doggy, animal uriney, clinical disinfectant smell.  I felt it the minute I walked in the door, but not so much so's I'd expect my body to react so viscerally to it later on.  It couldn't have helped that while I was waiting, there was a guy who had just made the decision to put his dog down.  Answering all the same cold, awful questions about remains that I had to answer.  God damn it!  Pets should just live forever.  That is all.

But, not really, because I also have to report that by the time I had gotten home from the vet's office I was running a fever.  I had a math test at 8:30 the next morning.  I hadn't been able to really study properly for three days due to lack of sleep and loud feline interjections, and now I was running a temperature of 101.2.  Great.  Just great.  Mister came home late and found me crying on the kitchen floor because I was too sick to study, and didn't think I could manage to rub two cents together let alone figure out the size of an angle given its vectors.  And he was all, "Jamie!  Dude!  This is high school calculus!  Not your damn Master's thesis you're scheduled to defend!  Call in sick.  Then, for God's sake go to bed!"

So I did.  And I feel much better today, even if I did miss my second Norwegian high school math test, after showing up an hour and a half late for the first.  Not a very good showing, if you ask me.  But at least the cat is sleeping peacefully at my feet as I write this.  Fingers crossed that her mad kitty hormones have settled, and we can all get another good night's sleep.