Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Letter to Myself On My Birthday, One Year Ago

I remember how you're feeling. You feel as though you're on the cusp of something big. For the first time in six years, you are going to examine your life outside of the context of someone else. You've gotten over the initial heartache. You're done feeling sad. You've pushed your bruised, slightly battered little heart to the back of the shelf to deal with later. This year is going to be big and exciting, and it's going to change you. You can tell.

You'll use your newfound free time to cultivate friendships, figure out what it is that makes you tick, and just spend some time with you. You'll start to appreciate yourself in a way you never did before. You'll understand what people love about you, and you'll realize that as long as you love yourself, it's okay if not everyone else does. You'll grow stronger in your own opinions. When someone disagrees with you, you won't surrender or fight for your say. Instead you'll listen, share, learn, grow. You'll learn to stand up for yourself. You'll learn to fill your life with people who make you feel fantastic and love you enough to tell you things you don't want to hear. You'll stop wasting time on people who make you feel small. You'll begin to differentiate between someone else making you feel small, and you attributing your feelings of smallness to another person.

Someone will look at you carefully and say, "I think your heart is very guarded right now." You'll nod. It needs to be. You'll deal with that later.

You will feel so much joy, so much fullness, so much love. You will find beauty in everything around you. You will be shocked that you could have been missing this and not even known. You will begin to think that nothing could ever bring you down.

It can. Hold on. This one's going to hurt.

You will see sides of yourself you have never seen before. You will experience your emotions in a way you never have before. But even through the worst of it, you will feel that you are stronger. When you are lying on your back, staring up at your ceiling and feeling like your chest will cave in, you will remember a walk in the dark at three in the morning when you told yourself, "This will end. This will pass. I will be okay." And you will know it's true now, because it was true then.

You will see others around you reaching different milestones. You will think back to how you thought your life would look now, and you will feel discouraged. You will try a number of things, thinking they will bring you what you want. Some will, some won't. You will ultimately reach a sort of peace, knowing that you can achieve more than you thought you could, and knowing that your path doesn't need to look like everyone else's.

You will see your body grow stronger than you ever imagined. You will wonder if your heart can do the same. You will consider re-examining it.

Now that you have some perspective, you will immerse yourself back into some of those deep scars you have. You'll see how much further they go back than you realized. You'll begin to recognize that no one else can fix you. You have to heal yourself.

You'll try to open your heart again to other people. You'll be scared, so scared that you can only love people who can't quite love you as much. Each time you'll get a little closer to what you're looking for. Each time you'll have a clearer idea of who he'll be.

You will find beauty in all these struggles. You will have enough perspective to see how much you are growing. For every time you feel bogged down by the world, you will have ten times where you feel lifted up with gratitude that your life is so damn good.

You will learn forgiveness in a more painful way than you have ever imagined. You will be overwhelmed by the wonderful, beautiful people in your life who have chosen to love you. You will learn how to protect yourself but never, ever stop loving. You will find your backbone.

I wish I could tell you that your life on this side of the year looks the way you are expecting it to. I'm not where you thought I'd be on several fronts. However, I can promise you this: I am joyful. I am peaceful. I am stronger. I am thoroughly and utterly content.

I love you, and I am so, so proud of you.

I'll see you soon.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Stresses of Being a Cat Mom

Their love is so cute I can't even handle it.

My cats are making my gray hairs multiply faster than Obama's every time Joe Biden's let out of his cage.*

It started about two months, ago, when Kirby started obsessively licking his gentlemanly parts and crying. After a few days of this, I became concerned enough to take him to the vet.

You probably think your pet hates the vet. All pets do, right? Well, amigo, I can almost guarantee you your pet's got nothing on my fuzzy little demon baby. Kirby has a special note in his file. I'm not sure what it says, but whenever the receptionist sees it, she gets a panicked look on her face and rushes in the back to warn the vet. He has to be sedated (to the tune of $90) for a standard check up. It once took 4 people to hold him down so the vet could perform a simple procedure. Vet visits with Kirby always end with everyone (especially me) covered in blood, shredded clothing, and their own tears. Add to that the fun fact that Kirby is apparently a genetic cesspool of maladies and in constant need of medical attention, and you've got a recipe for a fairly frequent draining of money, blood, and joy. 

And so, I find myself sitting in a waiting room, stroking my furious cat's little face and softly offering assurances in my absolutely insane cat voice (it's sort of a combination of Gollum and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and maybe a muppet or something). In walks Dr.Hotface McGee the vet, sending me into a flurry of flirtation. Not easy, let me tell you. Do you have any idea how hard it is to seductively talk about bladder infections and stool samples? But Stella and Kirby need a father figure, and they're certainly not going to get one by me NOT using every professional interaction to inappropriately flirt my face off.

The vet then begins to try to examine Kirby, which prompts him to leap approximately 3 feet into the air, and come down in a gnashing lashing fury of teeth and claws. I start trying to wrangle him to the ground, and as the vet looks on with concern.

Vet: Um... are you ok?
Me: (having my shirt ripped, arms gashed, shoulders bit) Yep! Haha yeah, totally fine! Sorry, he's normally... um... kind of friendly.... he's just really scared.
Vet: (timidly hiding in the corner. I have quickly become entirely disenchanted with him. Seriously, dude? You're a damn animal professional. Grow a pair and let my cat chew on you for a second.) Um... well... I don't want you to get hurt...
Kirby: (Chomping down on the center of my thumbnail as hard as he can.)
Vet: (Perhaps noticing the blood that is now oozing out from under my nail) Um... you know, we can always sedate him...
Me: Nope! No, thank you, I really think I can handle it... OW! Um, yeah, I can't really - DAMMIT - afford to have him sedated right now so.....crap.... just let me try to calm him down...

Moral of the story, we eventually calm Kirby enough to get a urine sample, and find out he has crystals in his urine. I buy some expensive-ass prescription cat food, and we're on our way.

Now, some of you may know that I used to work at a holistic pet food store. It's basically resulted in me being as much of a snob about my pets' diets as my own. The cats get expensive, grain-free food. Pippin gets organic rat food with fresh fruits and veggies every day. They all drink filtered water. And I treat almost all of their health problems holistically. Therefore, I knew that prescription food from a vets is low-quality, grain-laden shit pumped full of chemicals. However, urine crystals can quickly turn into kidney stones, so I figured this was the less of two evils.

It started off ok. Kirby stopped awkwardly crying over his genitals, and they both loved the new food. However, after a couple weeks, he started to have an allergic reaction called a hot spot. It basically means his skin was itchy, so he was licking a spot on his back leg so much the fur was falling off. This was unfortunate, but since the change in diet was only temporary, I figured I'd let it go. Within a matter of days, though, Kirby had turned his leg and a huge spot on his stomach into hairless, oozing sores. I rushed off to Big Bad Woof for a hot spot ointment. Kirby screeched with fury every time I applied it, as was to be expected, but then actually started licking the spots even more in an attempt to get the ointment off. Next bet I figured was to get him an e-collar.

Not Kirby. Just a doppelganger. Kirby looked much sadder.

Well. In true Kirby drama queen fashion, this was a freaking catastrophe. When I first put the collar on him, he had a straight up panic attack. He flopped about, ran around the room in terror, tried to claw it off himself, and cried. Stella was equally frightened, and appeared to think the scary new collar was attacking Kirby. She seemed to think the best way to handle this was to TACKLE HIM AND BITE THE SHIT OUT OF THE COLLAR. This obviously made the situation tons better. 

Once Kirby got past the initial shock of the collar, he went into a state of deep depression. He barely ate and pretty much spent the next three days sleeping in my closet, occasionally being ambushed by Stella, who was apparently still under the impression that the collar was a monster that needed to be battled. Nothing would console him. Every time I saw him I wanted to cry. It was awful, but I figured it would be worth it once the sores were gone.

In the midst of all this, Stella, who had lost her playmate due to his epic despair, had decided to regress to her kittenish tyrannical misbehavior from her earliest days with us. She was jumping on the counter. She was jumping on the stove. She was jumping in the dishwasher. And the thing was, she would wait til we were looking at her, wait til we said, "NO, Stella", then, hold eye contact with us as she fucking did it anyway. She decided she no longer cared about the spray bottle, so we had to up her punishment to holding her down and spraying her repeatedly in the face. It's not fun having to punish one cat non-stop and forcing another cat to live in utter misery. I was suffering from some serious cat-mama guilt.

Then, after a few days, I get a call from Ann, saying that despite the damn cone Kirby can still lick his gross stupid gimpy leg. I make the executive decision to lose the collar and switch him back over to his regular food (at this point he had been on the prescription diet as long as the vet had recommended). I hoped the hot spots would go away, now that the allergen was gone. 

Nope. Still there (and getting worse). So I went back to the store, this time looking for a product that would act as a healing agent as well as a taste deterrent. I came back with an all natural (of course) product chock full of cayenne pepper. I held Kirby down, and Ann doused his sores with this new spray.

Holy. Fucking. Hell. We both started choking and gasping on that pepper spray and could not stop. Kirby ran off, not appearing to have such problems. As per usual, he ran a safe distance from us and tried to start licking his leg.

And stopped. And coughed. And tried again. And gagged. And finally gave us a disgusted look and ran off into my room.

We've been keeping it up for a few days, and already his wounds are scabbing and his fur's growing back in. I'm finally starting to calm down. Kirby is acting a little less trusting of us lately, but is being a surprisingly good sport, considering all he's been through the past couple months. I'm trying to make an extra effort to play with Stella a lot and to hold her more. (She loves being carried like a baby. She'll cry until you pick her up, rest her on your shoulder, and walk around the room bouncing her. She'll fall asleep like that. It's adorable.) I thought maybe helping her find an extra-curricular activity like modeling would help her burn off energy, but she told me she doesn't appreciate the materialism of the modeling industry. 

Of course, the day I finally sit down to write a post about how effing stressful they've been lately, they both are sleeping soundly like little angels. Jerks.

*Don't get me wrong, I love Joe. But there's no denying that a PR nightmare erupts every time someone lets that guy talk.