I just lost another round of Compare Yourself to Someone Else: You’re sure to win this time!
Yesterday one of our condo board members was distributing new building keys, so I went to his unit. I like this guy, but I hate his place. Everything is impossibly aligned with everything else. Knickknacks are set askew with perfection, and I think he organizes his shoes in the entryway with a T-square.
And everything’s so clean. It’s blinding. Even the floors. He could employ a five-day rule in the kitchen.
Then I come back to our place, with the empty plastic litter bins lined up in the front hall, judgmentally waiting for someone to recycle them.
There’s the occasional piece of kibble that bores into my heel when I step on it, sixteen feet away from the food dish because Molly enjoys her dinner to go.
I accept that I’ll never be like Martha Stewart, even if I had a rap sheet, but I’m afraid of dying in this mess and somehow still managing to be embarrassed when people discover my body nestled between a mountain of dirty laundry and a pile of clean, unfolded clothes.
The other day Paul met a cheese he didn’t like. I never expected this. I’ve seen him savor cheese platters that smell like an autopsy being performed in a college locker room during a natural gas leak. My world suddenly made much less sense.
Just as I was recovering from the shocking cheese aversion, he made the bed. For the first time in twenty-two years. I panicked and asked, “Why would you do that?” in the same voice I’d ask a home invader, “Why here?”
Paul said, “Because the people across the street can see our bedroom.”
I blurted, “But they’ve been able to see our unmade bed for five years. Why is this important to you now?”
He shrugged and ambled away, leaving me reeling in confusion and anxiety, somewhat like when my surgeon told me I had cancer. The fact that I’m reacting at all similarly to a bed-making crisis and life-threatening health news may surprise you, but not me. I have a long track record of overreacting.
Like that time in Buffalo, New York as it was approaching Christmas during our first year there. I heard a fire engine siren a couple doors away, so I chucked Muriel the cat into her crate, jammed my arms into a coat, and shouted at Paul, “Fire! We have to evacuate! Now!”
Paul complied, taking what felt like an ice age to get his coat and shoes on.
I burst into the foyer of our duplex, wide-eyed and sweaty, Muriel’s cage dangling from my hand. Her eyes bulged with terror as Paul slouched behind me with his hands in his pockets.
The couple next door were standing just inside the main front door with their three young children, all relaxed and smiling. None of them were dressed to evacuate during an Upstate New York winter. I understood nothing at this point.
They turned from gazing at the fire truck, and I shouted, “Where’s the fire?!”
The littlest kid pointed toward the truck as the vehicle slowly made its way toward us. He said with glee, “It’s Fire Truck Santa!”
I looked again, and sure enough, that sadistic holiday bastard was waving his Christmas cheer at all the happy kids in the neighborhood.
The three of us slunk back into our unit (as much as a cat trapped in a crate can slink) to the sounds of laughter. I mumbled, “Merry Christmas” as my face turned a bright Rudolph-nose color.
I suppose that wasn’t as bad as the escalator incident at Sea-Tac Airport. A tank-sized drunk guy passed out at the top and hurtled backwards, landing on a tot and his mother (they were fine).
Paul and I were standing nearby, and as I was unaware of the embarrassingly obvious red emergency stop buttons on escalators, I did the next best thing. I spread my arms out at an angle, and in my most commanding voice yelled, “Stand back! My husband is an occupational therapist!”
At six-foot-five, Paul did his best to be invisible as he slowly sidled away from me. Sadly for him, at this point there was no hiding. He came forward to help—which he would’ve done anyway—but his facial expression said, “Good God, I hope no one thinks I’m the guy she’s talking about.”
I probably should work on the overreaction thing, but I worry that Paul might be staying with me just for the entertainment value.
I think I would’ve made a good copywriter for ads. Not that my writing’s so great (I mean, come on), but if I could use my sense of humor however I wanted, I’d go for it.
Recently there was a news article about a notorious madam near Seattle, self-named Rainbow Love. When I read that name, I feel as though I’ve been wearing a ball gag for three days. Not that I know what a ball gag feels like. In fact, I don’t know where I got that term. I don’t think I’m going to find my way out of this paragraph except to start a new one.
In the middle of the piece about Madam Rainbow, there was an ad banner I wish I could link you to, but I can’t find it now. Trust me, it was there:
Work from Home! $97 an hour!
Notwithstanding the cut-rate pricing, if I can do whatever I want, I should check into Craigslist for a position. A copywriter position, you filthy creature. I’m worth more than $97 an hour at home. $98.50 at least. Maybe with a $50 rebate. And I’ll buy dinner.
I’m angry at my ass. It isn’t downsizing on its own. At least not anymore. After I gave up sugar last August, I lost eleven pounds and even kept them off for a long time.
It seemed true what no-sugar guru David Gillespie says. The pounds will just fall off if you avoid that evil, sweet, delicious poison. Plus he says that being off sugar doesn’t mean I have to totally give up wine or spirits. Just no sweet wine or mixers. This made my brain swoon.
We’re eating whole fat everything now because—and you probably know this—“low fat” is synonymous with “We’ve dumped a shit-ton of sugar in this in order to make you feel great about avoiding fat. It’s going to turn you into a dirigible. Enjoy!”
I’m loving the butter, whole milk, and fatty-mcfat-fat sour cream. Plus the good-Lord-you’re-full-so-for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy-stop-eating-now mechanism works again, so I don’t overeat. Well, I didn’t at first.
My translation of this new-to-me information is: Have all you want, as often as you want. It’s a party! Crush that baked potato under a brick of butter and wash it down with a half-liter of chardonnay. Every day. What could go wrong?
Then the weight loss stalled, and I even gained a few pounds back. Still. Off. Sugar. Except for that cake I ate last week, but it was for my birthday. So wisdom can just fuck off.
After a few months on my latest plan of action—Wait and See if Anything Changes, Part 654—I realize I might be missing a point in all this, but my hope remains: Magic will handle everything. I’m frustrated that this isn’t easy. And a little angry.
All these months later, I see that my enjoyment of gallons of chardonnay, truckloads of butter, and nearly zero exercise have not transformed me into a super model. Now I realize effort is required in order to feel healthier and look better. Was that always a thing?
Doing something good for myself just because it’s the right thing to do is in direct conflict with my assumption that I deserve nothing good. Paul goes rowing because it makes him feel good and keeps his weight down. It’s as though he believes he should be treated well, even by himself. I don’t get it.
I guess I’ll walk the whole block to the gym and do something. Tomorrow. For sure. My brain just hissed, “Liar,” which is fair enough.
I have a confession about one of my biggest fears: becoming a bag lady, with cats. It isn’t like having cats is a fear, but combine that with bag lady, and there’s something disquieting and stereotypical happening there.
I can’t even look elderly female panhandlers in the eye because I’m terrified they’ll peer into my soul and see the future bag lady within, give a little wink, and say, “See you soon, dear. Just remember this is my corner. And I have a knife.”
Recently I told Paul, “I need a little wheeled cart for all my trips to the store.”
He freaked and blurted, “You’re not that old!” But when I assured him that he didn’t have to be seen with me and the cart at the same time, he started breathing again.
I’ve found a pretty stylin’ trolley that can handle the thousand pounds of cat litter we have to buy every week for Mimi, so I’ve been feeling kinda hip as I trundle around the neighborhood.
That is, until I came home from getting groceries and Amazon packages the other day. Then it hit me: I’ve become a Bag Lady in Training, and I might need to accept my destiny:
Also I think some people assume I’m pushing a baby stroller around. I’ve noticed a little smile until they get closer. Then there’s a look of dismay as they begin to suspect I’ve got a child in there, and it’s not allowed to breathe. Just another bonus.
As the college tries to be a brave little toaster and only cancel morning classes and tutoring, I’m not as optimistic about this afternoon’s weather. Looks like the perfect day to stay in, although for me, that’s usually any day with a “y” in it.
Stay safe out there, Seattle. This is not a town that handles snow well. Except for the dogs. They know how to cope:
After some boisterous fan base clamor*, I realized it’s been a while since I last posted. In my defense, I’ve been suffering from a malady known as Feline Über Costs for Kitty Tests, Hospitalization, and Imaging on Seniors (more commonly known as FUCKTHIS).
Having two simultaneously senior cats is overwhelming sometimes.
We’ve had Molly since she was a baby, but now she’s eight. Or nine. Or 65 and preparing for retirement. What is cat retirement anyway? Sleeping twenty-five hours a day?
PAWS thought Mimi was three when we got her two years ago, but her doc thinks she’s about a hundred. She’s great and all, but it’s like buying a car with a gently used exterior and discovering it’s powered by an asthmatic hamster lumbering in a rusty wheel.
To celebrate her eighth birthday, Molly recently enjoyed a bout of pancreatitis. She got better, but not until we spent $600 on visits and drugs (most of which are still sitting in the kitchen because it seems she was able to get well on her own).
I was terrified because she wouldn’t eat. Trying to get a sick cat to eat is exhausting and demoralizing. I find myself on the kitchen floor, rattling the food dish and coaxing Molly, saying things like, “Please eat your food. Mmm. Nom-noms. Hoooo’s my ‘ittle baby hoo want to eats?” At this point, no one within earshot wants food.
That does look yummy.
But I think not.
We don’t have to worry about Mimi’s appetite, though. She’s our Amazing Hoover-matic, and there isn’t a food that’s safe.
Gimme a treat, or the ankle gets it.
But thanks to remorseless kidney infections, she has a drinking problem. I think she caused Seattle’s last drought.
And the pee. Good God, the pee. You could knock out a water buffalo with those clumps. And it’s not just plentiful. She has fun aiming issues too. Thank goodness I’m married to an occupational therapist who specializes in geriatrics. Got waterfalls? No problem. Just use incontinence pads.
But Mimi pops pills like a happy little addict, which is cool because after Molly got sick and needed drugs, I’m down to six fingers.
And you’re going to do what with that pill now?
There’s something relentless about this process. The second we get through Molly’s ordeal, the vet wants to figure out how to get Mimi off the drugs. (Which I understand, but how about intervention? That’s free. “Mimi, we love you, and we think you have a problem.”)
No such luck. “Let’s do an ultrasound!” chirps the doc. “We might figure out what’s causing this!” (I think she charges extra for the exclamation points.)
So $500 later, Mimi has a shaved belly, and the specialist says, “We found evidence that she’s been suffering from chronic kidney infections.” We’re officially at the diagnostic stage known in the medical community as No-Shit, Sherlock.
Now Mimi needs to see an internal medicine specialist, and my question is: “Didn’t you just look at her fucking innards?”
We have more pharmaceuticals for two cats than many human seniors, an occasional river of pee (possibly more often than many human seniors), and enough vet bills in the last three years to buy a used car.
Is it worth all this?
* Fan base = Paul
Clamor = Paul asking, “Doin’ any bloggin’ today?”
"I've always found paranoia to be a perfectly defensible position." – Susan Lowenstein, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy