31 October 2008

Playing Dress Up

Happy Halloween! I am not planning to take Buster Trick-or-Treating tonight, but I did dress him up for a costume contest at the local pet store last weekend.

I didn't dress him up as a handsome devil, because that's his every day costume. Plus, my nephew was dressed up as a "speed demon" and I didn't want to get the two of them confused.

I almost dressed Buster as Snoopy in his Bloody Red Barron garb, but that was going to require a trip to the store. In true Crow family tradition, I'm a firm believer that Halloween costumes can be made from what you've got at hand.

So, I dressed Buster as a magpie! He's black and white and he's thieving bird who has stolen my heart.

I made him a beak, but he didn't like it and I thought it was a little cruel to force him to wear it. He didn't mind the feathers, but he didn't particularly care for them, either. He did like playing with the collection of shiny objects. So much so that it was hard to keep him still long enough to take a photo.

Still, I wonder if dressing up your kitty is somewhat abusive. I asked if I needed to get him some therapy for the abuse I have may have inflicted upon him. He didn't answer, but I noticed that he purrs in his sleep, so he must be feeling pretty jolly. Perhaps this means he will do a turn as Santa Claws?

Buster didn't win the costume contest. I'm not surprised, either. There were some dogs at the shop with outfits on that must've set the owners back at least $100. I would've awarded top prize to a Boston Bull Terrier dressed as Elvis complete with blue suede shoes. Buster was the only feline entry, so I think he should have gotten some recognition. Maybe I'm just lusting after a gift certificate.

Here's another shot for good measure. He can be so laid back. My former kitties would have been too feisty to have a necklace draped over their ears.

29 October 2008

Back to the classics...

Marnee adjusted her modern coiffure, barely looking askance at the clock before heaving a defeated sigh. Her stomach growled in approval as she removed her shoes and her dress. No sense in mussing up her best clothes for a plate full of leftover spaghetti.

She descended the stairs, carefully stepping over her sleeping cat on the landing. Rounding the corner for the last few steps, Marnee noticed the approaching shadow of a man with a large bouquet in the frosted glass of the entry way. He was over two hours late. Marnee froze, and decided whether to or not she should open the door for Mr. Wright.

27 October 2008

Quitting is for Quitters

Thanks to an act of bad parenting by Mama Crow, I have never been a smoker. So I don't really know what it is like to quit smoking. I have tried and failed at Weight Watchers several times now, so I can imagine what it is like to break a habit that is so intricately woven into my lifestyle. I also can sympathize with having the jitters but in my case it was from hypoglycemia, not nicotine withdrawl.

Quitting is what I should have done to my temp job long before I "left to pursue another opportunity." I might have been more satisfied with life if I had just jumped the ship without even turning my head to shout, "Good riddance!" over my shoulder on my way overboard. Hindsight. What a bitch.

The idea of not quitting has kept me motivated recently. For example I worked hard, I kept focused, and eventually I was able to adopt Buster without breaking the landlord's rules or having to get a permission slip from my doctor. Somehow, the pride I might feel about not quitting is totally overshadowed by the enjoyment I get from cuddling with kitty.

Awhile back, approximately week and some change, I quit. I hadn't intended to do so, but with my current state of brain health I wasn't surprised when I did.

My friend runs a small editing and publishing outfit, and she had asked if I would participate in her company's First Annual writing contest. I waffled about it for weeks because I didn't know if I was up to the challenge. However, I ended up filling out the entry form and submitting my $20 fee.

The contest was fairly straightforward. A writer or team of writers had 36 hours to create a work of fiction in English. Within that frame of time, each writer or team of writers went on a scavenger hunt to pick up four prompts at locations around the city of Portland.

I've never been particularly competitive, so contests usually aren't my thing. Scavenger hunts most certainly aren't my thing. I have traumatic memories of failed Easter Egg hunts. Now I prefer to search for things on a list I created for myself.

For some reason, I decided to do the list backwards to forwards. I looked at the potential scavenger hunt locations and decided that would be the best way to navigate the route. I arrived at the last location before the other participants. The gent manning the location was a little uninformed about how the hunt would work. He kept expecting that I would have a clue to lead me directly to the prompt in his care. I asked for the prompt, and he wouldn't relent. I was there for at least half an hour. I kept reading the clue, but there was nothing indicative of where to find the prompt once I got there. Was this a cruel joke? Was this guy holding out on my writing prompt in a sick way attempt at flirting with me (I'm oblivious to these things)? Was I even in the right place? Am I supposed to buy something here to get what I'm after?

I was getting anxious. I had a flashback to an Easter Egg Hunt in which a 3 year old me is throwing a tantrum about not finding any Easter eggs while literally walking on egg shells.

I finally told the guy this story and that he should pony up already with my damn prompt. The prompt happened to be the sentence beginning on the third line of page 86 of one of the many books on offer. Yeah. Like I'm supposed to magically discover this gem with my special divining pen. Lame.

Needless to say, I wasn't much in the mood for writing after that episode. I went off to the other locations with a chip on my shoulder. The final location provided some much needed focus and zen. I should have followed my gut and stayed there all day writing on the margins of my official rules sheet. Instead, I went home and considered the skeleton created by the four prompts. I did not like what I saw.

I wrote about 6 sentences before deciding to take a break. After some hemming and hawing, some general sitting down to think through a plot, some hardcore procrastinating and some ignoring the task at hand for benefit of adoring my feline friend, I finally quit.

Here's the thing. I hate quitting. Even though I was still able to show some support to my friend and her business, I still felt uneasy with my ineptitude for follow-through. True, quitting not the end of the world, but it was the end of something important. Silently, I was using this contest as an opportunity to gauge my readiness for going back to work. The fact that I failed to complete the task at hand makes me feel defeated. And a little confused. What am I supposed to do now?

I hope someday I will be able to have a chance to quit something and feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction. But, like Mick, I can't get no...

23 October 2008

I went a little Internuts

If you've noticed a dearth of entries around here, I can explain. I've been making an effort to use the Internet less often.

Like many people, I spend hours at the computer and then I wonder where all my time has gone. The Internet is at best a time suck, at worst an addiction for me. I decided to cut back for two reasons. One, it would be nice if I didn't have to pay the bill anymore. And two, I'd rather spend time with people instead of a machine. I may also have been motivated by the headaches caused by my crippled computer.

After my initial scale-back, I find I don't miss very much. I still keep up with blogs, though I skim through massive blogs with 100+ updates per day. I am sort of relieved by the fact that I can allow myself to pass up the opportunity to reciprocate each little doohickey sent to me on a social networking site. Ironically, I think I am slightly better at responding to emails these days.

In general, I think the cut back has been a relief. I'm still not sure if I can cut the cord as it were. I'm not sure if I'm willing to give up the convenience of a home Internet connection. I mean, where else am I going to learn that sticky tape generates X-rays?

16 October 2008

Trips around the sun

Today I am the age I have wanted to be since the seventh grade. For some reason, I've believed that 26 is the age where good things will happen to me. In light of my current circumstances, I can't help but wonder whether it will just be phenomenally better than 25.

I think I decided that 26 was the age I always wanted to be because it was the age of my seventh grade teacher, Ms. Bodenheimer. I think, in the thick of those murky and awkward middle school years, I could look at her and see a woman who had her shit together. She'd been to Harvard, Stanford and now enforced literacy to a bunch of apathetic public school twelve year-olds. At the time, I thought there was no more valiant volition.

In any case, I can hardly imagine attempting to be responsible for 30 tweenage twirps. I'm just barely squeaking by looking after Buster for the past week. Speaking of the handsome devil, I think he's enjoyed this birthday thing more than I have this year. I think he believed that each of my presents was a gift for him because they had paper to pounce, ribbons to tug and bags to hide inside for a game of "tough kitty." My sister was even so kind as to include 2 little mouse toys for him and he seems to think they are better for flipping around and batting under the couch than the ones I've provided.

I am not great at planning any fetes for my big day, but I'll be at Rimskys-Korsakoffee House late tomorrow evening to celebrate. I had hoped to plan an ice cream social for myself, but birthdays are hard for me for past 4 years. I used to share the day with my cousin, Matt who was one year my elder. Happy Birthay Matt. I hope I'm doing you proud.

13 October 2008

On the sixth day of cat ownership...

On the sixth day of cat ownership, I made an emergency trip to the vet where I had a large-scale emotional breakdown.

I had planned to visit the vet sometime in the next month for a, "Nice to meet you. Here is my wonderful kitty," type appointment. Even though he had peed on my bed (twice!) on Saturday, I figured he was telling me he was stressed out not sick. And I didn't blame him. I've been a little stressed out since he's been here, too. It's not easy to learn to share your space.

What got me worried was the fact that Buster had been trying to pee, but nothing was happening. This morning he seemed really out of sorts-- not wanting pets and hiding under the coffee table. I called the vet's office. While I was on the phone Buster started crying and barfed up a whole lot of food. The vet's office said, "Bring him in NOW!" so I did.

Buster was snatched into the back to be looked at, and after filling out about half of a form, I was escorted into an exam room to speak with the doctor. It turns out Buster's urethra is partially blocked. They want to anesthetize him, put in a catheter and do a bladder lavage, which will cost me $1100.

This pronouncement was my cue for a significant emotional breakdown. The tears started flowing. My heart started palpitating, and with my sinus infection, I was a blathering snotty mess before you could repeat the phrase, "eleven hundred dollars."

For those who may not be aware, I would have adopted a cat years ago were it not for my feelings that responsible pet owners should be able to afford veterinary care for their animals. Needless to say, I could not afford this. Every fear that I had about becoming a pet owner seemed to be realized when I admitted this to the vet. To make matters worse, Buster is the one good thing that has happened to me this year. Hearing that I can't take care of him adequately was quite a blow.

I told the vet to put him on meds to help him relax his urethra. I drove home at about 2 miles per hour and I tried calling my Mom, my sister, the adoption agency and my psychiatrist. Of course I got the phone phobic's worst nightmare: six different answering messages for six different phone calls. I even thought about calling my Dad, but I hadn't admitted to him that I have a kitty yet and I knew his reaction would be along the lines of, "Kimberly! Did you even think about vet bills? Idiot." Not needing to hear that sort of criticism, and not knowing how the stock market was faring, I decided not to call him. I looked around for my Uncle Steve's phone number (he's a vet) to no avail before driving over to the adoption agency. There, I cried about Buster's plight and they asked why I didn't take him to their vet.

Much to the original vet's chagrin, I took Buster to the other vet. He squeezed Buster's bladder and made him pee in the sink. I'm no feline urine stream expert, but I would say that that squeeze indicated that things weren't plugged up in Urethraville. The vet said he was stressed out and needed a diet to make his urine more acid. Buster was given a cortisol shot and some special food.

We came home and took a long nap together. But I'm looking at the urinalysis from the first vet and I'm wondering if I've done the right thing.

12 October 2008

Oh, Buster! Aren't You Grand...

A word to the wise-- if I am going to write your official introduction to the world, it is not a good idea to piss in my bed.

Turn the clock back to Saturday morning. I wake up with a killer sinus infection and a stomach ache (probably due the ratio of decongestant to food in stomach at 4 in the morning). In the days before Buster, my state of illness would be reason enough for me to leave by bed unkempt. After all, I will probably be crawling back under the covers shortly after finishing a mug of tea, half a bowl of Rice Crispies and the poorly edited piece of detritus I was going to post on my blog. But my world has changed. Look at me... I'm no longer kitty free!

So, I've got the mug of tea in my hands, and I'm headed to the desk where my computer now lives (also gone are the days of balancing my decrepit laptop on the edge of the couch) ready to write a Meet my Kitty entry when I spot my newly beloved, Buster. He's sitting-- no squatting-- on the bed just behind the mangle of sheets and blankets. I recognize that vacant stare, and it's best reserved for the litter box, mid-business.

My first instinct is to move him. But in my deer in the headlights moment of fear (cat pee is probably one of the most vile substances known to man) I realize that it is probably best to wait this one out so as not to have urine spritzed throughout my entire apartment. My teeth chatter with anticipation, and I'm saying silent prayers of "Please don't let it soak through to the mattress." Needless to say, I spent much of the afternoon at the laundromat.

Though I did not plan to do $12 worth of laundry, I didn't really mind having to clean up this mess. I figure that it's part of getting used to living with one another. I bought a new box with more real estate and a new, more diggable litter. It turns out Mr. Buster prefers to eliminate his waste in more plush environment. I think this potty drama is resolved.

I brought Buster home last Tuesday from The Pixie Project, a local rescue organization. I'd literally spent weeks upon weeks, hours upon hours poring over the shelters in the area before getting the go ahead from my landlord. Primarily, I was looking for a kitty at the Oregon Humane Society. I am really pleased with the work these organizations are doing, so if you know any Portlanders in need of a kitty friend, I could provide a list of good kitties looking for homes.

When I met Buster, I could tell he was a nice kitty. But what really won me over was watching him with the kittens in the Cattery. He let them cuddle with him. He let them nuzzle and nurse on him. When the littlest kitten of the bunch was getting picked on, he scooped her up by the scruff of her neck and carried her to safety. He was Papa Kitty, and I was smitten. Couple that with the fact that Buster is soft like angora and the employees at the Pixie Project insisted that he was their favorite, and I was scribbling his name at the top of my application.

Within minutes of bringing him home, I was pretty sure he thought he owned the place. I had been demoted to Buster's personal butler or valet; kept around only for the petting of the fur and handy tricks I can do with my opposable thumbs.

Buster is about 2 1/2 years old. He is at least part Turkish Van and he weighs a hefty 14 pounds. He is a professional Snugglepuss with a PhD in Affection. He will play with anything from a piece of tissue paper to a fancy catnip mouse. Likes: crunchy food, chasing me, getting his ears, cheeks, chin and belly rubbed. Dislikes: vacuums, Feline Pine original cat litter, wet food, the fact that I won't open the front door for him.

Buster is quite talented. Not only does he offer up a lovely soft shoe routine, he is also experimenting with other kinds of modern dance. He is a philosopher, often seeking answers to life's mysteries at the bottom of an empty Kleenex box. His first medium, however, is post-modern topiary sculpture. His art has affected my houseplants in a way that makes me reconsider both their form and function. He's really quite dedicated and talented.

So this is my kitty Buster. I already think he is pretty special.

03 October 2008

Waiting game

I am currently sitting around waiting to take a blood test. It's not a particularly exciting one, but it's one I must take during certain window of time several hours from now.

It's made me realize that I've been doing a lot of waiting around as of late. I waited to come down from my Serotonin high. I am waiting for my guts to feel like they aren't being roto-rootered. I am waiting for both Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to come visit. I am waiting for an answer from my landlord about my kitty situation.

To get everyone up to speed, I have basically offered my left kidney in order to keep a cat in my home. If the building owners aren't willing to accept my body parts, I am exercising my right to an emotional support animal. It's not the noblest of my battles, but dagnammit do I want a kitty companion. I also need a victory. I haven't had too many this year.

I don't feel bad when my favorite kitties at the Humane Society are adopted by other people. I can't take them all home, and it's nice to imagine that they are going to a good place. But it's been tough to look at the empty litter box every day. I would like to put what little energy I have into something else.

Even if I do get an answer from the landlord sometime soon, I realize that it might be best to postpone my kitty-getting for another couple of months. My sister is going on a 2 week business trip to Ghana in November. She's asked me to come look after my nephew while she's away. I can see that it might be a little difficult to bring kitty with me to Virginia.

I am tired of waiting. I think I'm going to need an ice cream after my lab work.