Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This is why some people aren't cat people.

When people find out that I have a cat, and ask me about the cat, I come right out and tell them that she is a mean, evil little thing who hates most everyone and will probably hate them too. But it's not personal or anything.

There are two things that happen at this point. People who hate cats will nod and accept this as proof of what they've been saying all along about cats. They might even put in a plug for their dog preference. People who like cats or even a few souls who adore living creatures in general will consider my cat a challenge they can overcome with their charms.

I love these people. They are so sweet, but so misguided.

An average misanthropic feline, which is a not inconsiderable number of them, will simply avoid people altogether. These are the famous cats that their owners "never see" but who seem to consume their food after everyone goes to bed. They hide in upstairs bedrooms when people come over. They get on top of tall cabinets and stare down, ignoring all the "here kitty kitty." The braver among this set might come out long enough to grab the treat you bribed them with before disappearing again. This is not abnormal cat behavior. It's annoying though, which is why there are people who don't like cats.

However, even a cat that doesn't like most people usually still likes some people, and there is a set of standard behaviors that cats may respond to. You sit (preferably in the living area where their owner normally is), you reach out your hand to them, you talk softly, you're patient, and if you're one of the few people around, even a shy cat will come out to investigate and might come by to deposit his scent on your hand or your purse. Cat people treat this as a victory, a reflection that they "know cats." Fair enough.

My cat is not like this. It's not just that she doesn't like people. She actively, aggressively, and vengefully hates people. Basically everyone in the world but me.

My cat has appeared out of nowhere in the middle of a social event we're holding to hiss at people. Just to hiss! No other apparent reason. And heaven help the poor person who tries to stick out a hand towards her. She scratches. Two parties ago she scratched me while I was trying to calm her down, and I was her third victim that night. I will never make that mistake again. I still have the scars.

If I'm petting her and she's tired of it, she'll bite me. Same for my husband, who is about the only other person in the world she tolerates. Doesn't just walk away, bites. Believe me I have tried to look for the signs that she'll do this. I've even tried stopping the petting before she gets tired of it. But inevitably she will nudge me for more attention until the exact moment she hates it and can bite me.

She likes to get my husband out of bed in the morning under the guise of needing breakfast. However, he will not be able to feed her and go back to bed, like one could even with dogs. She will harass the hell out my husband by poking him in the armpits. She developed this skill since my husband and I have lived together, since I'm a heavy sleeper and never used to wake up for her. She learned, late in life, the fine art of morning harassment.

If you have cats you might have seen them grabbing things with their front legs and kicking them with their back legs. If you replace that object in your mind with a bunny rabbit you realize that this is the act of eviscerating-- yes, literally tearing the guts out of the animal the cat has hunted down. Besides toys, my cat like to eviscerate pillows, our box spring, our couch, the chairs around our dining tables, boxes of tissues, and our feet when they are under the covers.

I could go on.

In light of all this you'd hope that a cat this, well, unpleasant, would at least have the decency to do the job cats were domesticated to do: kill pests. My husband and I love everything about our townhouse except the spiders, which I've decided are unavoidable considering all the trees around our house (and it's easier to say this than realize that our house might actually be infested with spiders, yay.) Periodically a spider will find its way on to the floor, at which point the cat will make it her best friend.

Yes, really. There is nothing in the world that our cat will treat with more gentleness and respect than a spider. She will sit and watch spiders all day. Occasionally she will reach out and give them a tender poke, as much encouragement as anything else. This floors my husband and I every time. We beg and plead for her to step on it, pounce on it, kill it deader than dead! At least to prove she has some shred of moxie that isn't simply for hating people. Alas, it's not to be. All spiders in our house die at the hands of people or of natural causes like old age or heart disease.

We've decided she does it out of spite, which would be just like her, so we've made a pact to act like it's OK that she buddies up to the local arachnids just to see if it will make her kill one just to rebel against us. We'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's no-filter night at the cell phone store.

We headed to the cell phone outlet store at the mall because the phone I've hated for the year I've had it finally decided to do me a favor and die. This corresponded conveniently with an unplanned overnight layover in beautiful Cincinnati and/or northern Kentucky, who knows.

And then I couldn't find it. I may have subconsciously thrown it off a bridge or something.

There's no way to resolve a lost phone except to pay out the nose for a new one. Kind of like there's nothing to be done about your 2-year cell phone contract except curse the world and wonder how ALL cell phone companies manage to force you into long contracts. Not even gyms do that anymore. I might consider pay-as-I-go but of course, I'm in a contract right now.

Breathe, breathe.

We're in the cell phone store. I'm trying to figure out what phone to get based on the 2"x2" card next to the phone that does not bother to mention its memory, battery life, included features, or warranty. But the salesgirl sure can look that up on the computer for me and write it on a stickie note because, why not? It's only 2009 and we don't have the sort of technology that might allow us to generate a piece of paper from something on a computer screen.

As you might imagine this is all going terrifically quickly, especially the part where she tells me the battery life in minutes (quick kids, how many hours is 846 minutes?) and, like a fool, I ask her to translate that for me. She was going to have to check on that.

We haven't even gotten to the best part of this story yet, which is my new friends Chunk and Biff. I know you're dying to hear about these guys, because I sure as hell was. Chunk is a tall, fat red-headed guy with the ruddy face of a seasoned alcoholic and the voice of someone who's smoked for 40 years, despite probably not being older than 35. His sidekick Biff's job was to sit or stand 8 feet away from him so they could conduct their conversations at maximum volume.

Chunk and Biff were kicking off their exciting night of substance abuse by getting Chunk a new phone and transferring the sim card over. He really liked the old phone and replaced it with the exact same type of phone, even though the first one just died. Instead of entering his own information into the computer terminal, Biff's doing it for him, helpfully yelling for all the pertinent information like how he spells his last name and what his zip code is. Ah, friends.

Meanwhile they're trying to meet up with their other friend who is somewhere in Shoreline looking for a ride. Their stellar advice is that he get on "a bus" and they will "call him when it's time to get off." This dude was not entirely convinced but eventually bought into this plan anyway. He covered his bases by asking three times that they actually remember to call him. Did I mention Chunk put him on speakerphone for this? I guess he figured that he could double his chances at remembering to make that key call when it was time to get off the bus by having Biff hear this scintillating exchange, too.

Chunk and Biff may have done too much coke last night (which was Thursday, by the way) but they can't agree on that point. In fact, Biff doesn't believe it's even possible to do too much coke. HA HA! What a comedian, this guy! HA HA! Hack, cough, hack, Chunk wants to hurry this part up so he can get a smoke.

Did you know that Chunk and Biff's friend Ryan is going into rehab? You would have never thought Ryan was headed to rehab, man! Not that guy!

Chunk and Biff are basically our new best friends now because my husband and I know more about them from 15 minutes of conversation than we know about our own siblings. Whom we owe calls, on speakerphone, coming to a retail establishment near you soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What brings us together.

Tom and I traveled to Florida this weekend to attend the wedding of a very good friend of mine, R. I've actually known this guy since my first year of college, which is 12 years ago. I still don't feel that old.

I've known R through a lot of ups and downs for us both. We've both been in not-great relationships. He had personal stuff to sort through, I did too. He knows some deep, dark, ugly secrets of mine, and I know his. We've shared real joy and real sorrow. We've exchanged a lot of advice. He knows to call me out on my crap, and likewise me for him.

I'm a pretty big introvert, which means that I'm perfectly content to call almost never. For my friends who are long-distance, and they are numerous, this makes me a pretty poor friend in general. I keep meaning to rectify this, but then on some days, like today, I find I spend an hour after work walking home (up and over Queen Anne hill, with a view of the lake) instead of trying to take the quickest bus home to make phone calls. Maybe I'll figure it out.

The nice thing about R, though, is that he and I have history. When you share old stories with someone it means you can pick up right where you left off. Only for us, I get to see him now as the great man he's become. A little kinder, a little softer. Calm. He's always been knowing, but he puts a little more weight behind that now. Years, and knowledge, and peace about things.

And when I talked to his wife for the first time, I just knew she was the one. First of all, we weren't even 3 minutes into the phone conversation and she was "busting his balls," as he puts it. Which is appropriate, and funny. And she's smart and insightful, yet patient and loving. R is a strong personality. He needs someone who is firm, gentle, and loving.

Every once in a while I'll read something about marriage being an archaic institution, or how it's inherently sexist (and certainly in today's society, inherently heterosexist). But I think for some people, when they find someone, and they're wonderful together, and they start thinking about how they're going to build their life together, it's a wonderful thing to get married.

When I get an opportunity to give marriage advice, which is rightfully infrequent because I've only been married a year, I always say that you have to marry someone who has your values. Unfortunately this term has been co-opted for negative reasons, politically. The fact of the matter is that the person you intend to marry needs to share your views about children, finances, fidelity, careers, travel, family relationships, friends, free time, and the like. Whatever those views are. After all, we're not just talking about someone to canoodle with. You're going to share your LIFE. These things needs to be sorted out before the jewelry and the cake and the dress and what color it's all going to be. And these values need to be discussed in detail, and seriously.

We're hanging out in the hotel room the night before his wedding and his fiancée mentions that she doesn't think their daughters will ever do gymnastics, and he agrees, and they discuss why, and we all laugh in the context of the conversation and move on to the next topic. But there was none of what you sometimes see with people, either ignoring the comment, or "oh gosh, I couldn't have kids in a million years," or the discomfort because perhaps kids had never come up before. It was just another topic, something they'd discussed before, something they already knew about each other and their future. Which is good.

A few weeks before R's wedding he was talking about stressors in his and his fiancée's life and he was lamenting about how difficult it all was at the time, and how it would be nice if he could go into his wedding with it all being easy instead of hard. I took the opportunity to remind him that marriage is about having someone who's your rock and your comfort when times are hard. That anyone can be a good-times girl, and this is what marks most dating before people decide to get serious. And that hard times are strengthening.

If anyone knows about growing strength through difficult times, it's R, who's had more of his share of tough stuff. And as you'd expect, he's a wonderful person. He found someone wonderful for him, which makes me so happy.

Cheers to you, R, and your lovely wife. Thank you for inviting me to the first day of the rest of your lives together. May you find a little more love, strength, hope, peace, and happiness with each other every day for the rest of your lives.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sands through the hourglass...

I was perusing a magazine the other day while my husband was finishing taping the ceiling during our little painting debacle.

I was studiously reading an article about face cream. It was one of the ones that recommended different types of cream for people of different ages.

I'm always on the lookout for that perfect skin cream. My skin magically flips over from chin zits to scaly dryness at around this time of year. It's charming, really.

I got three-quarters of the way through the page on appropriate face cream for people in their 20's. You know, keep that youthful glow! Protect your skin now while it's still perfect and wonderful!

Then I realized... I'm not in my 20's anymore.

I mean, I've been 30 for 7 months now. I thought I was OK with it.

I just don't think I was ready to be in a category of people who have to use wrinkle-fighting cream. I'm 30, but I don't feel like I'm "in my 30's."

The only problem is... I am in my 30's. I have over 6 years of career experience. I'm married. We're talking about starting a family. We own a home. The parties I throw tend towards sedate affairs with wine, and the guests admire my furniture. We spend our weekends at the farmer's market.

I don't know. I like my life. I just didn't think that the footloose and fancy free part of it would so quickly pass me by. There's a last hurrah of sorts at the end of this month in Vegas for a friend's bachelorette party. It's not actually my party, but I'll still be doing some celebrating. Being 30 is actually pretty great.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

How to paint your master bedroom in just a few easy steps.

  1. Move into your new house and decide immediately that the ugly orange wall in your bedroom left behind by the previous owners must go.
  2. Get distracted for the next year by work, your wedding, your honeymoon, holidays, your birthday, your husband's birthday, Google Reader, other people's babies, The Great Healthcare Debate, and Farm Town.
  3. Decide you want to paint the room yellow. Pick up paint chips everywhere. Stick them to the wall. Ask friends that come over for their opinion. Decide almost certainly on a color.
  4. More distractions for several months, while you realize you want to paint your room green instead of yellow.
  5. Pick up more paint chips, decide on another color, do nothing for several more weeks.
  6. Finally decide that you will go and pick up paint that day. Use an internet calculator to determine that to paint your 17'x10' bedroom, you will need 4 gallons of paint.
  7. Read an online review that says that a certain brand of paint is the best paint for the money. Realize you don't have any chips from that brand. Decide to go to the home superstore and pick a comparable color.
  8. Be marginally unsatisfied with the paint choices at the store compared to the chips you already chose. Your husband will become fixated on a color (and will later deny this ever happened). You will have a niggling feeling it's a little too bright. Suppress this feeling and buy the paint and supplies.
  9. Your husband will relate a story of how he painted his entire bedroom in 1994 using just paint pads. Therefore you will pick out a roller and several pads, but no brushes.
  10. Go home in victory. Announce on the internet that you bought paint. Let the paint sit around for a week.
  11. Your Product Owner will approach your desk with today's version of Why You Are Not Doing Particularly Well as Her ScrumMaster. She will spy the paint chip on your desk and stop mid-sentence to yell, "is that the color? You will hate that!" When you relate that you already bought it, she will tell you to take it back to the store. Tell her that stores don't take back mixed paint. She will argue with you, and then try to point out that you probably didn't spend that much money on it anyway, so it's OK to go and buy a different color. When she finally gets that you're going to paint with this color, she tells you half-heartedly that it will be OK and wanders back to her desk. Spend the balance of the afternoon in a funk, then decide you're going to use it anyway.
  12. Holiday weekend! Wake up unusually early on a Saturday to prep for painting.
  13. Move all your furniture to the middle of the room. Cover about 80% of it with a tarp, some ugly sheets that were on your husband's old bed before you got rid of it, and a few old towels. Determine that's good enough.
  14. Once you close the bedroom door to start work, the cat will want to go nowhere and do nothing but get inside the bedroom. She will scratch on the door to get in for the next 48 hours.
  15. Roll out plastic sheeting. Tape it to the trim along the floor. Tape the trim on the doors and windows. This step will take the entire morning.
  16. Wash the walls with large sponges and diluted cleaning solution. Wipe down with plain wet sponges. Realize too late that tape and water don't mix. Retape large portions of the trim along the floor while grumbling.
  17. Lunch break.
  18. Open the can of paint, and start painting. Complete the entire room except for the 5 inches closest to the ceiling. Realize you have no idea how to paint that area without also painting the ceiling.
  19. Go to the store and buy a thing to paint along edges that's kind of like a wide Venetian blind. Also, milk, tomatoes, and pretzels.
  20. Go home and attempt to use the edger thingie. Realize it's too difficult. Proceed the tape the edge of the entire ceiling. This step will take the entire afternoon.
  21. Paint along the ceiling.
  22. Your husband will knock a container of paint off the ladder. It will fall directly on to your bedskirt, part of the 20% of your furniture you didn't cover. Figure it's a blessing in disguise, since you haven't liked that bedskirt since the day you put it on the bed. Unfortunately, it will probably take you six months to replace.
  23. Declare the day over with.
  24. Post a bunch of pictures to the internet. Despite the fact that you waver between love and alarm at the brightness of your room, dare anyone to say anything about it, proclaiming you "love it." Your friends are very diplomatic, noting "any color green looks good," "it's light and airy," "bold choice," "if you love it, that's all that's important," and finally, "that looks like green slime-- are you making a Nickelodeon room?" Laugh it off. Go in and out of the room 25 times over the course of the evening to stare at your bright green walls.
  25. Go to Blue Moon Burgers and eat 8000 calories worth of greasy hamburgers, onion rings, and special sauce made from mayo and peanut butter.
  26. At the end of the night, set up your camping pad, your inflatable mattress, and your sleeping bags in the second bedroom. The cat will decide this is the most exciting thing ever and will harass the shit out of your husband all night. (She would harass you, but wild horses couldn't wake you up). At 5AM your husband will kick the cat out of the room. Because the door doesn't latch, she will make her way back in. He will kick her out again and prop the door closed.
  27. At 5:45AM your next-door neighbor will wake everyone in a 3-block radius up by dumping coolers full of ice on to your paving stone driveway. Your husband will go downstairs to see what the hell is going on, but the neighbor has already taken off. The reason for dumping ice on the driveway at the crack of dawn is never clarified.
  28. Wake up at 9:00AM sore from your awesome sleeping arrangements. Take a good look at the room in daylight. Repaint the orange wall of doom. Notice you missed about 25 spots elsewhere in the room.
  29. Realize that you do actually need to buy brushes. Head back to the store again.
  30. Head home, paint over the missed spots. Declare victory. Much rejoicing, etc. Post more pictures to the internet.
  31. Head out to the store to buy a new duvet cover you picked out last night on the internet, leaving your husband to clean up the mess.
  32. Buy a new duvet cover and then go and look at shoes and Ann Taylor Loft. Realize you still have paint all over your arms and are unsuitable to be seen in public. Touch a bunch of merchandise anyway, just to see if anyone does anything. They don't.
  33. Come home with a new blue and white duvet cover. Your husband, while barely taking his eyes off the television, says "well, the part near the ceiling doesn't look perfect. Some of the paint leached under the tape."
  34. Run upstairs and survey the room. Realize the top of the wall looks like hell. Panic while you try to figure out what to do.
  35. Your husband joins you and suggests that either you leave it alone or go and buy trim to go along the ceiling.
  36. More panicking and brow furrowing.
  37. Consult the internet. Had we bothered to do this beforehand we would have learned that the tape is supposed to come off immediately after you paint. To avoid the leaching problem. Awesome.
  38. Your husband comes to the rescue. He re-tapes the entire ceiling, pressing as hard as he can, and leaving just a few millimeters of space so that you can paint over the uneven parts.
  39. Get on a ladder and repaint the half centimeter in the wall-ceiling area. Rip the tape off as soon as possible after your finish painting a section. Discover a small amount has leached anyway due to the texture of your walls and ceiling, even though overall it looks 100% better. Don't feel so bad anymore.
  40. Look around. Realize you're actually done this time. Thank your husband for being so hardworking, patient, and wonderful. More rejoicing.
  41. You've used only 1.75 of your 4 cans of paint. The good news is that Habitat for Humanity takes donations.
  42. Clean all the brushes and bins in your master bathroom sink. Wonder what you're doing to your pipes after two days of dumping latex paint down them. Realize that you own your home and if you FUBAR your pipes, you have to fix them. Hope this doesn't come back to haunt you.
  43. Remove the rest of the tape and the plastic sheeting. Realize that you got paint on the trim in more than a few areas and that some of the orange still shows by the floor trim. Decide you don't care since the bed and bedside tables will obscure that area. Discover you got just a little paint on the carpet since you didn't cover all of that, either. Sigh.
  44. Let the room air out for a few more hours, but know that no way are you going to sleep on the floor for two nights in a row, even if you die from paint fume inhalation.
  45. Enjoy your new room for 15 minutes before you start shopping online for new accessories and a new dresser to go with your brand-new color.
  46. Eat hamburgers at home with asparagus instead of onion rings on the side. Start talking about going out for ice cream.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

3... 2... 1...