When I was preparing to adopt my cat Tobias earlier this year, I made a checklist so I would be totally ready for him.
That’s right, Allison Matthews made a list. I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock.
Wow, that was fast! Anyway, here was my list:
- premium-quality cat food to promote good health, fuller tummy, and less upchucking: Check.
- nondescript food and water bowl: Check.
- nondescripter litter box: Check.
- brush: Check.
- toys: Check.
I had researched how to introduce a cat to his new home, local vets, cat care and feeding, pet supply locations, and so on, and so on ... I was one prepared mama!
Or so I thought.
As it turns out, the universe saw my youthful self-confidence, snickered behind its hand, and decided to hand me a problem I hadn’t anticipated at all: cat allergies!
No, not the kind you think. I have actually been in exceptional health since I got Toby, thanks be to God. It’s the cat who has the allergies! When Toby moved in, he came down with a bad case of the sniffles and hasn’t ever really recovered. I never expected a runny-nosed cat to be much of a problem, but I forgot about a little something called opposable thumbs. Cats don’t have them. Consequently, cats cannot grab a tissue when the ole nasal faucet gets to dripping. Consequently, cats use any other soft surface they can find to get cleaned up, including, but not limited to, the drapes, the furniture, their owner’s pants, their owner’s sleeve, their owner’s hand ... I feel like the mother of an infant, minus the opportunity to buy cute baby clothes.
Life gets even more fun when the sneezing jags start! Tobias is a cat of integrity; his motto appears to be, “Whatever your nose finds to sneeze on, sneeze on it with all your might,” and he adheres to it faithfully. I am happy to report, however, that my research in the field of Cat Sneeze Removal is paying off. I now know how to get it off of a wall (vigorous scrubbing with vinegar) and a tile floor (409 and a good old-fashioned mopping), and I’m expecting a breakthrough regarding the upholstery question any day now.
To top off the allergy problem, Tobias came down with a mean eye infection a few weeks ago. By the time I finally got the poor cat to the vet, the problem was pretty far along. The doctor’s orders? Eye drops administered six, count ‘em, SIX times per day for three days, and then three times per day after that. When I asked the doctor to give me some advice about how to get my very active cat to sit still long enough for me to traumatize him several times a day, he hestitated for a few seconds, then said, “ ... You’re going to need somebody else to help.” Gulp. Recall that, as an up-and-coming Old Cat Lady, I live alone. I left the vet’s office wondering if our local Wal-Mart carried tranquilizer darts, portable tractor beams, or at least enough rope to make a decent lasso.
Fortunately, after a few squirmy, unhappy failures, My Very Excellent Mother suggested that I swaddle the patient in a towel and hold on tight! This trick worked pretty well, and I am happy to report that Toby’s eyes may have actually gotten some drops in them at some point over the past few weeks. Possibly. Maybe.
Take that, universe!
Well, friends, I have some grave medical news to share with you today. A few months ago, I listed some signs that indicated that I am slowly morphing into an Official Grown-Up Person. Since then, it has become evident that, due to some strange aberration in my developmental trajectory, I am actually bypassing the OGUP stage altogether and moving straight into the dreaded phase of OCLH: Old Cat-Ladyhood.
OCLH is a condition with an onset so gradual, it is nearly impossible to detect early on. I suppose my first symptom surfaced late in high school, when I was first introduced to the garment known as the cardigan. My cardigan-wearing habit was so innocent at first – a little gray one for school, and a white one that kept me warm in church ... that was it! But unfortunately, the addiction grew. I found that Target and outlet malls provided a cheap, ready supply of these cozy sweaters adored by librarians everywhere. College opened up the possibilities even more by introducing me to the concept of roommates—and, more importantly, roommates’ wardrobes. Consequently, my obsession with the garment has ballooned. At this writing, there are approximately 14 cardigans hanging in my closet, which is about 12 more than the average American woman has any business owning. When accompanied by a pair of old, fuzzy socks, they are quite comfortable around the house—and indubitably Old Cat-Ladyish.
But the sweaters are only the beginning of my symptoms. To make matters worse, I have chosen a career as an elementary-school teacher. It’s a great move for many reasons, but unfortunately, it’s one of the number-one predictors of OCLH. After 7 months of teaching, I have developed an uncanny love for Peace And Quiet; I have mastered the Grumpy, Humorless Teacher Look; and I can deliver jeremiads about Kids These Days at the least provocation. Add to that the fact that I now live alone and have had way more conversations with myself than I’d like to admit (did I just admit that?), and you’re looking at the makings of a recluse who would make Thoreau look like a social butterfly.
And then there’s the O in OCLH: old ... ness? Olditis? Whatever it is, I’m coming down with it! When I was looking in the mirror the other day, I noticed that after I raise my eyebrows, there’s this sinister line that lingers on my forehead long after the brows are back down. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: I’m working on my first wrinkle! (By the way, is there a special celebration for that milestone like there is for your first birthday, or your first lost tooth? Can I get a visit from the Wrinkle Fairy? Please advise.) I’m also finding that my back gets stiff and tired pretty frequently, I am up by 7:00 am even on Saturdays, and 8:00 pm sounds like a FANTASTIC bedtime. If that’s not oldition, I don’t know what is.
Of course, you haven’t truly arrived at OCLH until you have a cat. For years, I managed to steer clear of that final, fatal symptom, clinging desperately to my last shreds of Cool Twenty-Somethingness. But, alas! This past January, I could no longer resist the urge to adopt a furry friend. So, I brought home Tobias, a handsome, gray-striped gentleman, and the rest, like my chances of being a Cool Twenty-Something, is history! Life with Toby merits a separate post of its own, so I’ll save my next treatise, Cat Sneeze Removal and Other Adventures, for later.
Besides, it’s late—nearly 7:45! Time to put on my fuzzy socks and head for bed.
Ironic Postscript: A few days after I posted this, I went to my friendly public library to take care of a fine. After I paid, the librarian said, "I love your sweater! I have a whole lot of those cardigans. They're my favorite thing to wear!" More proof that I'm sliding uncontrollably into OCLH. Aaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuugggghhhhhh!!!
Disturbing Signs that I Am Transmogrifying into a Grown-Up:
- I’ve started making efforts to articulate my words.
- I’ve developed an annoying habit of calling children (and certain adults) “honey,” “sweetie,” and the like.
- I have instituted a ban on Silly Bandz, cementing my alliance with The Man.
- I have found myself waxing rhapsodic to my students – and anyone else who gives me half a chance – on the importance of safety, respect, and responsibility.
- I reflexively check to see that people’s shirttails are tucked in. (And I mean tucked in all the way – none of that half-and-half nonsense!)
- I found my own dentist covered by my own insurance plan and set up my own appointment.
- I make myself eat healthily and go to bed on time. (Though I’ve found that I’m perfectly capable of ignoring myself!)
- An increasing number of my friends are getting married and having children.
... and, my favorite and yours ...
- I HAVE TO PAY FOR THINGS.
Yup, adulthood ... Not quite as glamorous as I thought it would be. But it’s still pretty nice!
Hello, dear ones!
Pleonast and I have been growing apart as of late. Pleonast insists that I'm letting my work get in the way of our relationship; I'm too busy with work to respond. The close friendship we once enjoyed is disintegrating before my eyes, as is evidenced by the huge number of unread posts that stare beseechingly at me on the rare occasions when I log on.
This makes me a little sad, because I really do wonder how everyone is doing, and I think of my friends and family often. So, I'll make you a deal: I'll give you a little life update here if you'll fill me in on your latest doings in a comment or two below. One day, I'll buckle down and work through all 7,638,997 (give or take) entries, but these sound bytes will have to do in the meantime.
So, without any further ado, I present Major Events in the Life of Allison:
- My parents sold their house in the lovely town of Blythewood after 16 years of memories! We were all sad to say goodbye to our home-- and moving was a royal pain!-- but I, personally, am a fan of the place my folks have chosen as their home-to-be. They'll be living in downtown Columbia in a neat little house that was built in the 1940s. Dad will be within walking distance from his office (kind of), and it'll be easier for them to entertain friends from work and church. I can't wait to head to SC in July and help them settle in!
- The end of my time at Vanderbilt is fast approaching! Fall and spring semesters went GREAT, and I'm taking my final two courses this summer. Although this semester has turned out to be a lot more work than I expected, I love both of my classes-- Adolescent Literature and Executive Coaching. If all goes well, I'll graduate with my M.Ed. on August 13.
- I've been hired to teach fourth grade at Dodson Elementary here in Nashville next year. I am EXTREMELY excited about this position: it's my favorite grade, I'll have a diverse group that will include several English Language Learners, and the atmosphere of the school seems to be very positive. I also feel very blessed that God has supplied my needs so readily. I'm looking forward to finishing the bulk of my summer classes so I can turn my attention to planning for next year. The major downside of this job is that it'll keep me away from my parents and brothers for another year. However, I have a wonderful Christian family in Nashville, and I've been informed that I'll receive periodic visits from the folks back home (right, Mom?!).
Your turn! What big (or small) things have been happening with you lately? Bonus points if any of your news involves a trip to Nashville in the near future. :)
Okay, I was going to wait until I had time to compose a well-crafted, clever post (like I always do, right??), but the prolonged presence of that boring food one was just killing me. (Update: I stopped listening to The Omnivore's Dilemma right as he was revealing that the organic food industry is just as bogus as the industrial food complex, but I haven't listened far enough to figure out what, exactly, I AM supposed to eat. I figured it'd be best to just fast until I figure it out.) (Joke! I have reverted to my usual diet, which includes oh-so-delicious sausage biscuits for breakfast and substantial doses of high-fructose corn syrup throughout the day. Stay tuned ...)
I'm wrapping up a personal study of the book of Proverbs, and it's been such a good, grounding experience for me. It's incredible how much of the writer's advice boils down to, "Fear God, watch out for evil influences, be willing to learn, and keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you." I guess those thoughts are repeated so often, and in so many ways, because we humans tend to struggle with them so much.
What I love about the proverbs is how well they pack a punch. What person can read, "Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears," (26:17) and not think twice about sticking his nose in someone else's business? Who is not humbled by the reminder that, "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent" (10:19)? Who doesn't feel called to action when she recalls that, "As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed" (26:14)? It's pretty hard to rationalize your way into sinful or foolish behavior when you read such point-blank words of wisdom.
Reading through this book has gotten me thinking about other proverbs that guide our actions. "Bloom where you're planted" has become something of a mantra of mine as of late, and just the other day I was explaining "Let sleeping dogs lie" to a friend from another country and thinking about what a sensible piece of advice that can be (depending on the circumstances, of course).
So, what proverbs-- Biblical or secular-- often bounce around in your head as you go throughout the day?