The Hustle

I’d kind of taken to thinking of my job search as an exercise in futility. Sure, the only exercise I was getting, but it wasn’t really contributing to an elevated state of health – physical or mental.

In searching for appropriate career level positions, I hit wall after apathetic wall.

The struggle is surreal.

I found myself rethinking the jobs I was applying for with companies I told myself I wanted to work for. My thoughts turned toward,

Do I really want to work for these companies?

Learning from my interviewing experiences with them, I realized answer was coming back “No” more and more frequently. Hell, more often than not, I was realizing I no longer wanted to be their customer.

At the same time, I was really digging my lil writerly routine.

Come to – er…wake up.

Clean up.

Head to the Arthouse and write for a few hours.

I found that the morning was when I was really able to create. I worried that work would ruin that flow.

Realistically, though, I needed to work. Not just for the financial aspect – although, obviously – but also for the ancillary payback.

Allowing me to feel that I’ve not just accomplished something, which I achieve with writing, but to feel that I’ve contributed to something.

Then there’s the social interaction void after leaving retail. I’m used to dozens if not hundreds of quick interactions with people that challenge me and keep me socially engaged.

A.

Day.

That’s tough to replace.

I wasn’t getting that on my couch – and I tried both ends!

Out of literal desperation, I applied for a part time job as a clerk in a convenience store. For what the owner called “Good money for a job like this” during my interview.

It was $12/hour.

The owner calls that good money, Oregon called that Minimum Wage. I should note that this was at the time, Oregon’s Min Wage is now $12.50, so I think I now qualify for membership at Mar-a-Lago or something, right?

I quickly learned the reason that the owner considered Minimum Wage good money for this job: his employees didn’t do much during their shifts. The majority of them played on their phones or read books waiting for customers. They didn’t even say “hi” to them when they entered the store. Some had friends stop by. Still others had hangouts with off duty employees.

The owner wasn’t getting a good return on his payroll investment, for sure.

But I just had a few lunch/dinner shifts a week, like 16-24 hours. Covering a store for an hour while the associate took their meal break, then moving to the next for an hour and then the last store to finish my four hour shift.

I got to talk to people and I got to do things…even if it was just putting beer and water into coolers. It’s weird, it was what I did at the airport to help out my associates. To make them feel supported. Now it was my job.

The other employees objected to that aggressively productive behavior of mine with an array of flimsy reasons. My response?

I came to work!

I didn’t care if they loved or hated me. I was getting paid with that sense of contributing with every task I completed and customer I met.

You’re so much nicer than the other employees!

I heard that a lot. In all three of the stores. Just about six months in now, I still hear it once or twice a week.

You know what? That’s nice to hear, but it also makes me feel bad. Most of my co-workers are nice enough to me – despite my reluctance to work down to their standard. What if the job just beat them down into spiritual submission?

Was it only a matter of time for me, too?

Doubts like that aside, I was finding myself entertaining the notion of finding job and financial satisfaction in more of a piecemeal manner. I’d been witnessing younger workers doing it for the last decade. Running from part-time job to part-time job to cover their expenses. Maybe I could turn away from the full-time mentality and “retire” to a gig mentality.

I began exploring app-based work like Uber or Postmates. The obvious problem there for me was: no car. Still, with Postmates I could use my bike. The problem there? My lazy ass. Since the FWV (friends with vehicles, duh!) I dropped hints to about this notion let those hints drop unacknowledged, I tabled the idea.

Somehow, in this same timeframe, I became the boss’ shining star employee and go-to. She asked me to cover her role during her month-long vacation. At full-time.

Fine, as long as it’s just for four weeks…I can do it.

Three weeks before she left, all hell broke loose. Two people got fired and another quit in the course of maybe five days. By the time my boss left for vacation, I was ready to go back to my sweet lil four hour shifts.

Flash forward two months and I was still averaging about 35 hours a week. Feeling broken, I at least had my family’s annual vacation get together to look forward to in a month.

Still, I told my boss to schedule me less so I could get my writing back on track. I was an entire project behind schedule.

No change. Unless being scheduled for only 32 hours counts.

Then I got a call I wasn’t expecting.

A temp agency specializing in HR had reached out to me a few weeks earlier about a position they thought I’d be perfect for.

Oh, and the position you originally applied for was filled, unfortunately.

No shit? That was months ago!

Anyway, the position was designed to offload the HR responsibilities of a dual role HR/Ops manager that wanted to focus on her Ops responsibilities.

I agreed, I would be perfect for the role. I interviewed and still thought it would be a great fit. The money was certainly better than the convenience store, but it was only two-thirds of what I should be earning. At part-time the money would barely cover my monthly expenses. Looked like I wouldn’t be ditching the convenience store job anytime soon.

I realized that idea didn’t bother me. I romanticized a perfect schedule where I worked my gig HR three days a week from 8-5 and did dinner breaks from 6-10, earning enough to feel financially able while having four days off a week.

But this is my life, right? That Cinderella story didn’t happen.

Surprisingly, the person creating this job thought you were too into people. She’s going with another candidate.

Oh, for fuck sake.

The person who was more into the Ops side of her job and didn’t want to be bothered with the Human Resources side of her role…didn’t want somebody who was into humans to take that off her plate.

Seriously.

Surrealiously.

This journey is basically the meat of my next non-fiction book. I’m leaning toward calling it 50-gig – get it? I’m ~50 and competing for gig work with them there millennials? – however, on days like that one…it’s hard not to call it These Damn Idiots I Meet.

I mean, really, dating. Job hunting. It could be the group name for my non-fic work. 50-gig and Dating Into Oblivion could both easily fall under that heading. I wonder if there’s a third piece to round out a trilogy.

Obviously, The Gym.

But, I’ve digressed.

Romantic notion of working three days a week: le poof.

Anyway, I go back to my partly full-time job at the convenience store, grateful to still have a purpose but missing out on writing. At night, I drink wine on my lonely couch while binge watching Star Trek TV shows in their chronological order versus release dates while mentally cutting myself to take away the pain of my obsolescence.

Then the HR temps call back a few weeks later.

Maybe a month.

Let’s say a few weeks ago.

I doubt you’d be interested, you might consider it too boring.

I took this with the grain of salt required to swallow my belief that nobody wanted me, anyway. Basically, my position was, “I dare them to fucking hire me!”

Still, the “three or four days a week” aspect really appealed to me.

They’d really like someone to start next Monday, if it’s a good fit.

I just laughed at that, still waiting for Old Mother Hubbard’s second home to land on me like a was The Wicked Job Hunter of the West.

Oh, boo. What was that collision of metaphor?!? Mixing nursery rhymes and Young Adult novels from barely the last century.

Hey, don’t even worry about it. It’s Wednesday…if they let me know by tomorrow morning, I can have my boss at the convenience store work me around it.

Apparently, my “I fucking dare you to hire me” attitude was too much to resist. Thirty minutes later, they called back and told me to get in there Monday morning.

Having resigned myself to never getting another professional job again, I’d gone back to thinking about app based gig-work. I’d looked into car-sharing options for driving with Uber or Lyft using someone else’s car through an app called GetAround. It would probably end up costing about a third of what I’d make driving, but it would pull me out of being able to say “yes” every time my boss at the store had a need.

Actually, every time isn’t fair. I knew she tried to not abuse my availability. I appreciated it. But still, of the instances I knew of where she didn’t call on me, I knew she was just sucking it up about half the time.

I felt bad about that.

Anyway, somewhere in there – and consistent readers already know this – I said “Fuck it”, and bought a car. They’ve subsequently been dubbed Pat the Patriot in a perfect fit of Portland political correctness.

I figured maybe I could still do some gig driving, if only for the experience of writing about it in either my blog or even that notion of a book. I’d actually priced it all out and come to the benchmark of driving only six hours a week covering my car costs.

I could live with that.

I could also live with my complete lack of surprise at my experience trying to sign up to drive with Uber.

I’d given up using Lyft in conjunction with Uber a decade-ish ago when a woman in a homemade floral print dress and Jesus bobble head on her dash tried to fist bump me. If I was gonna drive, my first choice was going to be with the brand I’d been using as a consumer.

After a month of effort, let’s just say that I’m driving with The Verb and not The (unearned) Adjective.

And it’s addictive.

Not just the people engagement reward, but actually, the immediacy reward, too. I’ve only driven three times, but it’s been very satisfying…like 90% fun and 10% “Meh, that was still better than a day working for my last professional job”.

Plus, I get a cell phone bill and think, “Welp, let’s cash in on the app” and my pay is instantly in my checking account. The next morning I wake up to a utility bill and think, “Well, I’ll go have coffee with The Fox and then drive for a couple hours to get this paid…beats paying for two more hours of parking”.

And, yes – I am looking for a monthly space to rent! Especially if I want to leverage that whole three days of work/four days off thing.

Until then, a couple hours to pay my $30 gas bill versus spend $4 on parking turned into driving for five hours and saving $10 on parking and limping out of my driver’s seat with $100.

See? Addictive.

Now, before it starts raining Other Shoes, here’s what’s on the horizon:

– Before I committed to Lyft, I applied to drive delivery for GoPuff and Postmates. I’ll probably fold at least one of those in, if only for the potential writing material for 50-gig. But also: tips! I’ve actually never had a tip job before, so I’d be interested in how that adds up.

Plus, as a car share rider from the early days, I never tip. It was part of the deal. Then the deal changed, but guess who didn’t? Yes, me. But also: practically everyone else. Out of – I think I’m at…18 rides over three outings I’ve been tipped by two riders. I don’t expect it, but feel I’ve really earned the gratuity when they land. It’s not that I got a tip for reflex of it all, I did something that stood out compared to other rides these Tipsters have taken.

That’s what I’m telling myself.

What else?

– Oh, yeah…the convenience store. There’s a shoe. If you know me, you know I won’t repay hiring me when no one else would – yes, for a job I should have a lobotomy to be qualified for – by walking away, middle fingers flying just because I got a better opportunity. So, if this HR gig pans out, I see a serious scheduling conversation happening there.

– The HR gig. When someone – an employer – says “three or four days a week”, who knows what they mean? It could be three days, with the hope that the dangling fourth will provide added bait. It could mean four, for so many reasons.

In this case, I heard “three”, because that’s what I wanted to hear. Then I talked to the owner and heard the job scope and said, “Yeah, I can do that in three”.

Sadly, I think they really want someone for four, but tough nuts.

Or not so tough. If I end up working four days a week, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, since I’m HR, I have access. That access shows me – innocently, I assure you – that my non-temp predecessor was making $6/hr more than I am. But I get the temp costs offset. If they hire me off my contract, I’m getting that money. Knowing what I do of the owner, I won’t have to ask…she’ll offer. How awesome is it to have a boss you think of in those terms?

It’s fucking awesome.

Also: there’s an office cat. He’s nicer than Myrtle, too, which makes that fourth day a real draw. Poor Myrt. She’s not not nice. She’s just psychotic and can’t help herself.

Or I have Stockholm Syndrome.

Now, let’s see…other shoes. Other Shoes. Any others, hoes?

Ah, yes!

– Writing! Doy. The second book in the No One Of Consequence story is nearing completion. Yes, Phil…I’m editing! Hehe. After some good feedback, I also intent to brush off Book One and give it an extra lil polish before launching Book Two. Now I should have the ability to advertise, too.

I wanna run an ad campaign this month, I think I’ll go drive for a few hours.

I like the sound of that.

Then, come November I can put balancing work, work, work and possibly work schedules with writing, I’ll try and get most of 50-gig drafted during NaNoWriMo. That’ll be an adventure.

Almost as big an adventure as doing my 2019 taxes will be with two W2s, possibly four 1099s and at least a little bit of royalties income to factor in. I better start limbering up my procrastination muscles now!

Yes, it’s 5:30 in the morning on my day off…why do you ask? Truth be told, how this three job thing is working out so far has created a three weeks straight without a day off, so my old ass is tired! But I slept well on both Friday and Saturday night.

Of course, that was after saying

I’m burning the candle at both ends…with fucking blow torches!

So I was ready for early nights and good sleep. Maybe I’ll try a nap later.

Nah…I’ll go drive! Haha.

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The Hustle

World Of Confusion.

This is it, maybe. Well, I guess this is not it, but still…it quite possibly could be.

Do you use Pandora? I do, I’m proud to have every room – not a huge feat in my 700 square feet – in my place set up with a Sonos speaker. And I love it.

There’s not even walls between my kitchen and living room, but I have a speaker in each. Well, a sound bar in the living room for the TV, but I can also stream music through it. Likewise, when I’m watching a show, I can link the bathroom speaker to the TV so if Nature calls, I can answer without having to pause.

Unless it’s porn, of course. There’s two activities I’d like to keep at least an appearance of separation between.

I joke.

I don’t watch porn.

In my living room.

There’s no curtains.

Nonetheless, the TV and music sound situation is quite handled. It would appear that I’ve got my entertainment game all together.

So, Pandora…there’s this feature called Thumbprint. Have you heard of it? Used it?

I love it. It culls music from your playlists and just lavishes your favorite music upon you. I’ve noticed that sometimes Thumbprint will get stuck on a certain artist or decade or what-have-you…but, again – favorite music, so who cares?

Then this happened today while I was folding laundry.

Yeah.

Phil fucking Collins.

Basically, I made the same face.

And I’m just wandering from utility room to kitchen with clothes to be folded and then to my bedroom and dresser to put stuff away without really realizing what’s happening until that needle skip moment occurs.

I realize it’s not an acceptable Phil fucking Collins song, like In The Air Tonight.

It’s Land Of Confusion.

That’s just not ok.

I actually kind of enable a slight prophetic moment, as I think back to the last couple of years in America. Maybe Phil saw it all coming vaguely down the pike.

Doubtful.

Semi-comforting to think that someone at least saw this shift in sensibilities coming. Actually, then again…no. If someone knew this was coming and didn’t stop it.

The Doctor could have stopped it.

But not Phil…no.

I’m going back to the dryer for the rest of my laundry, thinking that I can just grab the rest of it. My utility room is kind of a shotgun situation.

Long and narrow. My bike is in there during winter months, too. Right by the spare tires in the left corner. I walk in and I’m loading my arms with the remaining tee shirts, socks, undies and whatnot and I’m thinking I got it.

I can do this.

Mistake.

Huge.

I pull out a tee shirt that has a stowaway pair of undies in it that drops to the floor. My arm is somehow full to my chin with the rest of the load – shut up, Diezel – and I’m still thinking, “Yeah, I can do this”.

I squat straight down – there’s no room to bend at the waist in this room – and grab the pants.

Admit it, you’re glad I stopped saying “undies”, right?

A single sock falls out of my arm as I tuck the pants under my chin.

Great.

I reach down and am fishing around with my hand, feeling for the sock because I can’t risk moving my head to look down. I don’t know why, but moving my eyes side to side helps me focus my intensity on the search. Maybe it’s that looking around keeps my attention divided just enough that I don’t stress out and overthink and overcorrect…I. Don’t. Know.

But my eyes swiveling in their sockets take in the mayhem of the room and the song clicks.

I bet you were wondering when I’d get back to that.

This is the world I live in?

There’s a paper bag of recyclables from when I ran out of the green BottleDrop bags – some of them were carried over by The Fox because he supports my redemption habit…probably I should square up with him by buying him a beer. But once I bought more green bags, I never transferred the accumulated cans into it. Now, as you can see in the front right, the bag is too full.

There’s a black trash bag of donations that Myrtle likes to pull at if I leave the utility room door open. Have I taken them? No. No, I have not.

And I wasn’t able to see it from where I was squatting, but in my mind’s eye, I was looking at the dustpan that has the remnants of the glass lamp shade that Myrtle broke one night about a month ago now.

So, it’s been there through about 3 trash bag changes…you’d think I could’ve taken those shards to the trash by now, right?

No.

Having successfully retrieved the errant sock, I start to stand up, expecting to hit my head either on the dryer door or the shelf. I usually do this once a month or so…but miraculously, not today.

I leave the utility room with the last of my laundry and look right at the naked lamp as I exit.

Yeah, I haven’t even taken the rest of the broken shade off the damn lamp. I think that’s partly because I want the base of the shade for when I replace it.

Probably, mostly as a potential punishment for Myrtle if she tries to get frisky with the lamp again.

This is the world I live in.

As I’m looking at the lamp, I’m reminded that I have yet to replace the battery in the thermostat directly above the lamp. I’m meeting Diezel for a couple beers at 3:45 and wanted to check the time on the thermostat to see how much time I have left.

An hour, I realize after mentally adjusting for Daylight Savings fuckery.

All of the clocks in my house are set to one of two times: right or wrong. Every six months, that switches. Some of the clocks adjust automatically, like my phone, microwave and oven clocks. Typically, the bathroom, living room and – inexplicably – thermostat clocks do not.

So, I change them mentally, depending on the time of year. Sometimes all the clocks are set to right, others, only half of them.

Unless

Like in the case with the thermostat, I need to change a battery. Then that clock gets set to the correct time.

I gave old Phil a thumbs down, finished folding my laundry and mused that with as crazy as the outside world is these days, it’s even crazier that I’m not controlling all the minutia I can in my own four walled world.

I’ve got a half hour before I need to leave, I think I’ll spruce the place up a bit. Undo some of the non-Myrtle chaos. That’s a fair starting point. I’d self-diagnose Myrtle’s mayhem as a partial root to my housekeeping apathy. The way she sheds incessantly and kicks litter out of her box and shreds cardboard boxes to literal litter creates such a mess that I’ve kind of given up.

On everything.

I don’t know why

But I can clean some dishes and switch out a battery at least. Hell, maybe I’ll even dust!

I’ll make this a world worth living in…

World Of Confusion.

The Red Shirt Diaries #20

I get random texts from friends when something reminds them of me. That’s sweet, right? Until you factor in that what usually makes them think of me is usually something Siegfried and Roy would slowly back away from.

My friends know my feline relationship.

Read: peril.

I get asked every couple of months why I keep her if she’s that crazy-slash-mean-slash-bloodthirsty.

The answer is pretty easy, I chose her. That’s a commitment. It’s one that her first three homes failed to honor in the first 18 months of her life and part of why I think she’s so…weird.

The other part is just tortitude…torties are fairly famous for their antisocial behaviors.

Well, and then there’s the other other part: I think I can fix broken things.

That’s on me.

Still, she has mellowed over the last two and a half years.

Who can resist a lap nap with a sweet kitty? Even if it’s just a temporary state of sweetness.

My friends get this.

Hence the pictures.

I get a good chuckle out of them.

But, still…I won’t be surprised if I end up dying in a Myrtle Related Incident.

Whether it’s one of her ankle hunting strikes like the above near miss two years ago or a new, unexpected development remains to be seen.

Right meow, my money is on a bathroom mishap.

I moved into a new unit in my building at the first of the year. The old bathroom was shotgun style, long and deep…everything one after the other from the door.

Sink.

Tub.

Toilet.

The new situation is more of a side-by-side deal. Myrtle is usually sitting on the counter, sweetly when I finish showering. She’s like a stoner, staring in amazement at the swirling steam mixed with airborne cat hair riding the heatwaves my shower generates.

In my old bathroom, she did the same, but from the floor since the bathroom counter didn’t offer the same view of this kitty mesmerizing awesome phenomenon. Myrtle thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever done…moving to give her a better view from her sink top perch.

Still, she catches me off guard: a month or so ago, I was removing some uninvited follicular guests by leaning over the counter toward the mirror. She usually rubs up against my belly and chest, adding hair to my shirt as I’m tweezing. This time, I was wrapped in a towel at my waist.

Little bitch bit my nipple.

I’m so not into that.

So, I try to be wary while being realistic. If Myrtle wants to be on the counter, she’s gonna be. Making an issue of it will just piss her off and she’ll still do it…just not while I’m around.

Cats, right?

So, here’s how that wariness manifested into a Red Shirt situation and I potentially end up dead:

Mistress Myrtle used to rub up against my ankles when I got out of my old shower. My friends all pretty much agree that she’s just reapplying her stank.

In the new place, she upgraded.

I was bent at the waist, drying my legs and Myrtle started rubbing her head on my towel dried hair. It rather caught me off guard and I jerked my head up, just missing the counter.

Here’s how this looks:

This has been a daily ritual ever since. I open the shower curtain and she’s sitting there waiting eagerly.

Personally, I think this is a hygiene upgrade for her. She’ll rub her head on mine and then scrub up against the slate style countertops.

It’s cute.

But about once a week, she’ll try to use her claws to tease my hair up into a better rubbing surface for her favorite cat.

Knowing that jerking upward will result in a bleeding scalp, I quickly duck in order to get away from the claws.

Yup.

More near misses, courtesy of the Mistress.

I really see this being some sort of Rube Goldberg type elaborate death.

Myrtle grabs my scalp with her claws.

I duck to avoid, smacking my head on the counter’s edge.

This causes me to jerk upright suddenly.

I lose my balance and overcorrect to remain on my feet.

…and fall backward into the tub.

Maybe the fall kills me, maybe it just paralyzes me and I end up laying there until I expire.

More than likely, I’m immobilized in the tub until Myrtle the Merciful decides ten minutes later that it’s a lost cause and she begins to eat my face.

No use letting a good meal spoil, right Myrt?

The Red Shirt Diaries #20

Egyptian Wrath

I was grabbing coffee earlier today and as is often the case, the cafe manager and I started talking about our cats.

Well, first it was staffing, but after I whipped two employee badges out of my pocket and said, “Well, I’m on my way to return these…”, she wisely intuited that I didn’t want to talk about that.

Cats, it is.

She had just bought a new couch and needed to buy some anti-scratch tape for it because of what happened to her formerly new chair.   

Then she talked about how her cat will drag loose clothing into his litter box if it’s not deemed fresh enough by himself.  From there, it’s an exercise in building a poo nest for him to do his doody.

My cat is more than as psychotic as the next cat.

But this got me thinking, what if we have been so diligent in the last two decades about spaying and neutering our animals to the point that the gene pool is too feral?

Is there a chance we could potentially only be left with cats with the most dick-ish personality traits?

Just think, all this time, we’ve been worried that SkyNet would become a reality and the robots would take over.

What if the actual reality is cats retake their rightful place – just ask ‘em, they’ll tell you it’s true – as gods among humans?

Nice long game, Felinekind.  

Egyptian Wrath

Felineversary

Well, well…look what I woke up to.

I knew this was coming up, and intended to post on my and Myryle’s two year anniversary on November 8th, but work ate my life and I missed it.

And the day that I brought this little freaky-deeky home deserves commemorating.

Even if I’m not completely sold on her innocence when it comes to my potential demise.

Death By Feline.

Sounds about right.

She was about a year and a half old when I got her, and I was her fourth owner in her short life, if you can believe that!

Believe me, there were days I certainly found it easier to believe than others.  The two trips she’s sent me on – not the glamorous kind with beaches or all you can eat buffets, no. 

The trips we’ve taken have been more along the lines of scabbed faces and broken teeth.

Specifically mine.

But there have been good times, too.

As soon as some come to mind, I’ll get them in here.

I call her The World’s Most Dangerous Feline.  Alternating disturbing and dangerous.

For instance, witness disturbing:

I’ve refererred to her as Mistress Myrtle or just The Mistress for short, prompting The Silver Fox to share this photo with me. 

Pretty spot on, considering what injuries she’s inflicted over the years.  From grisly, like above to more playful-ish, like this one.

If that’s not the picture of affection…

She has started mellowing out.  Or at least stopped treating my legs and wrist like this:I still have to keep my paper towels and TP stashed out of her reach.  She still finds ways to both express her displeasure with me and drive me to the poor house in paper towel expenses, though.

She had a UTI somewhere back around 12 months ago.  Of course, I only knew it because her cat litter clumps got a little…well, littler.  As anyone who’s ever had a UTI knows, peeing when you have one hurts.  As cat owners probably know, when cats associate pain with their litter box, they stop going there.

Fortunately, she moved from her litter box to my shower.  I’m sure it wasn’t because she’s considerate and there’s a drain in there, no.  Probably one of the Lost Boys I’ve <ahem> entertained (mildly by Portland standards, I’m sure) peed in the shower and she sensed it before I cleaned my shower.

However, when I am gone too long from home, she will also take to the tile in the bathroom or utility room to express her displeasure.  Hence, the continued exorbitant paper towel expenses.

Eventually, she began optimizing her time by eliminating the trip between her litter box to poop and the tub to pee.  Instead of peeing in the damn box, she started pooping by the toilet.

I know who’s boss.

The Mistress.

What I was spending on paper towels was at least offset by a meager savings on cat litter.

Still, if she’d asked my opinion..

During this cat box demonstration of feline disobedience, Myrtle was also starting to become more cuddly.

That’s a big plus!

AKA: mostly why I wanted a cat, independent but cuddly.

I chose poorly.

Thanks for that pro-tip.

While she still freaked out if I came at her too quickly when petting her, she was starting to crawl into my lap while I watched tv.

Usually right about the time that I need to refresh my drink or get rid of one of the drinks I had consumed earlier…

Sometimes she just lounges atop the glass coffee table near me.

No, wait…that was her hunting toes.  At least she’s stopped stalking my ankles like prey.  That usually happens when I’m not too alert and ends in injury of one sort of another.

Trust me, she does it, though.

Fine, don’t trust me.

In another show of – what I’m told is – trust behavior, she frequently exposes her belly while chilling.  That’s good…I want her to be a happy kitty!  And not just on the coffee table.  She gets her Baby Seal pose going everywhere:  coffee table, floor, dinner table, kitchen counter…

She don’t even care.

So, back to that cuddly stuff.

Since she began settling in, she’s favored sleeping in the bed, day or night.  Initially- y’know – for the first year and a half – that was dead center during the day and as far away from me as possible while still being on the bed when I was in it.

Apparently, she’d put a feline flag on the bed and claimed it as part of the Empire of Myrtle without my knowledge.

But six months ago, she started moving closer.  It started with her sleeping by my calf, occasionally revisiting her flaying skills on my ankles and toes.  As she tempered her killer instincts – inasmuch as they involved me as prey – she began moving up my thigh.

I was pretty happy with this development.  Not just because it meant fewer transfusions for yours truly, but also because I foresaw this as the last stop before cuddling like spoons with ma lil kitteh.

Oh, yeah.  Predict a cat’s behavior.  Go ahead and try.

She moved from the outside of my thigh to the inside.  I usually sleep on my side or on my back with my legs crossed at the ankles…so she was basically just laying in the crevice formed by my thighs.

Or the crevasse formed between my legs when I slept on my side in about the same position a body lands in after a failed attempt at flight.  Again, she usually found this comfy spot about 30 minutes before I had to pee.

She is loathe to reposition once she settles, let me tell you.

Boy howdy.

Her slight overreaction usually involves an insistence that she be rewarded for met magnanimously allowing me to move.  Hence the baby seal physique that compliments her Baby Seal pose so well.  In my efforts to minimize treat-age in her diet and maximize my potential to return to sleep, she began to climb up on my chest and sit.

More feline disobedience.

When my reaction failed to produce results, she settled in and laid down on my chest.

Overtime, she began to nurse, making me feel as if I were the treat.

Nursing left a big wet spot on my bedding.

Fine!

And, then I was up.

Score 1 for Myrtle’s long game.

Once we were back to our nightly cuddling detent; her by my leg side, me free to hit the head without traumatizing her comfort, we both found enough sleep.

Me: 4-8 hours.

Her: 16-20 hours.

A couple of months ago, I woke up with my legs in a figure 4 and Myrtle curled up and purring like a monster truck between them.

I am unsure how this happened.

But now it happens every night.

My reward here, is that after a couple of months of her vaguely menacing my genitals while I sleep, she has begun using her litter box again.

Not every time she goes and certainly not every day.

But often.

In a rage of frustration after taking a five minute shower only to open the shower curtain and find shed peed on my bath mat…

Or letting her run the hallway to find she’d peed on my doormat, strange theme…

Or thinking I’d outsmart her by showering without putting my bath mat down until I was ready to get out of the shower…

…only to fine Lake Cat Pee’s tide drifting toward the shower, well…I’d come to a point of “It’s her or me”.

My last ditch effort here in salvaging our relationship was to begin shutting off the bathroom door and putting her litter box in front of the door.  Subtle, no?  And by litter box, I mean the fourth new litter box of our relationship.

I was rewarded with mixed results.

A pee in the box and a poop on the laundry room floor.

A poop in the box and a pee on the laundry room floor.

Both in the box!

This last led me to try and hug The Mistress, which sent her into freaky-deeky mode.

Fine, I’ll just leave some treats in the table for when she calms down.

The next day, literally the next day, I came home to poop in the box and a reminder – in the form of Lake Cat Pee on the bathroom floor – that Myrtle can open doors.

All of this made me reluctant to ask a friend to watch Myrtle while I was away this week at Seminar..

The Silver Fox was still on his month long Iberian Adventure.

I really didn’t want to expose a less initiated friend to Myrtle’s pee-cadillos.

I debated just leaving a big bowl of kibble and bowls of water everywhere.  Mom-Donna suggested boarding her…too expensive.  That got me thinking, though, and I was able to find a pet sitter on Craigslist who would come once a day for $10.  I booked her…and then she didn’t show up for our key exchange date.

Fucking – audience participation time!  You choose:

A) Portland flakes;

or,

B) Millennials

So, I was back to the buncha-food, buncha-water plan.

When

Linda Belcher invited me to lunch.

After I casually bitched about my plight, she practically insisted I should have just asked her to begin with.  It’s right between her office and her bus stop, anyway.

I tried talking her out of it and we settled on her stopping by my place for a glass of wine on her way home while I was gone.

If some wet cat food happened to fall into a bowl for The Mistress, so much the better.

I got nightly pics of Myrtle along with texts about how sweet my cat is while I was gone.  On the night of my return, I got an excited text from Linda about how Myrtle had been so good while I was gone…using her box the entire time.

Sure enough, I came home to a box littered with poops and clumps.  I rewarded my beastie with treats and sat down for a little snack myself before bed.  After finishing her snack, Myrtle gave me the cold shoulder.

The next day, I woke up and discovered a couple of dried up pees and poos in the laundry room, just as I suspected.

That’s my Myrtle.

Felineversary

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

My dinner last night included a found bottle of Pinot from Patricia Green Cellars.

Let’s call it a Continental Dinner in honor of a fallen Oregon winemaker.

Literally fallen, incidentally, which made her early death hit home with me even a tisch more.  She was discovered dead in her remote cabin and early CoD is thought to be from injuries sustained after falling down.

Finding the bottle was serendipitous.

My fear of falling down alone came to the front of my mind about 15 years ago when a co-worker sustained injuries that kept her off work and on light duty after falling in her bathtub.

My grandmother died after spending several days stuck between her commode and shower.  There’s no way to class that shituation up, so laugh, cry…your choice.  Even though she was found alive, the damage was done for her.

As if I needed to somehow have this fear hit closer to home, then there’s Myrtle…aka: the worlds most dangerous feline.

Twice, she has already tripped me.  The first time was a near miss…my temple having passed within millimeters of the corner of my hallway table on its way to landing on my face.

The second occurrence…well, I was ready for her.  Somehow, I managed to fall backward after tripping over her, twisting midair and landing on my front – now half-fake – tooth.

Mistress Myrtle has taken her game to a more ninja level than her previous two stealth attacks.  She’s not too strictly attach to the trip, willing to settle for a slip…as long as itvresults in a fall, it seems.

To that end, she’s taken to peeing in my shower over the last six months.

As her captive caretaker, I know she started forsaking her box after a UTI, associating the box with pain.  That makes me feel sad for her, poor lil kitty.

Until I run the shower and almost slip on the slimy reconstituted cat pee she left there.  Lemme tell ya, people think of cat per as an odor.  

Not always so, Jabroni.

If I miss it because it’s not stinky, there’s quite a next level dance off in my shower as I struggle to not die naked and wet in my shower after falling.

Don’t worry…I know Myrtle will be there to make that ignominious death so much worse by eating my lips, fingertips and any other soft tissues she can get too.

<shudder>

So, if the evitable happens, please know that  my wake must include Culture Club’s I’ll Tumble For Ya and as many other falling down references as possible.

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

Psy-cat-ic Myrtle

I think my relationship with my cat is toxic.  She obviously hates me.

That said, Myrtle does seem to treat me like an equal.  Most people would probably consider this an accomplishment.  Sadly, with Myrtle, I think she considers me to have nine lives, and she’s killing me one at a time.

Fortunately, it’s figurative.

For now. 

We just had a conversation that neither of us liked about inappropriate peeing.  She had peed on the runner I finally caved and bought the other day.

For the fourth time in a week.

Luckily, I only spent $40 on it…

The thing that really hurt was that I had just witnessed her peeing in the cat box 15 minutes earlier and rewarded her with some butt scratches and dried salmon.  Not sure where this need to pee again came from or why it had to be on the runner.

Again.

Some background to begin…I have this weird space in my bathroom between the shower/tub and the toilet.  There’s a wall and everything, not sure what the hell the design thought process here was, but it fit a cat box perfectly.

So I got a cat.

unnamed kitteh on counter

Everything was fine for a month or so.  She seemed to adjust immediately to her cat box and was also very enthusiastic of my own bathroom efforts.

Flushing the toilet was an amazing adventure for her.  So interesting to her, she was all twitchy and – of course – curious.

Anyway, about six weeks in, she starts peeing in the shower.  It takes me about a week to realize it’s happening, I just thought her cat litter smelled.  So, I change it, thinking that will eliminate the poor behavior.

No.

Once I realized it’s happening, I started wondering why.  I blamed it on someone else, maybe a guest peed in the shower.  Men can be such stupid animals, after all, maybe she picked up the habit there.

Regardless, it seemed she was not to be dissuaded, so I moved the litter box to the utility room a couple of weeks ago and started keeping the bathroom door closed.  That went fine for the first week.

Here, have a breakdown of the last week of her pee-pee no-nos:

Day 1:  Pees outside the cat box.  Six inches outside of it.

Day 2:  Poops outside of the cat box.  Maybe this was just bad aim?

Day 3:  New runner arrives, she pees on it.

Day 4:  Nothing odd happens.  Yay!

Day 5:  Pees on the runner again.

Day 6:  I’m doing laundry and find Day 4’s “entry” into this Urine Saga.  Really, in the laundry basket?  Also, I had woken up to pee in the early morning and forgot to close the bathroom door.  Shower pee!

Day 7:  Guess who never gets tired of peeing on the runner?

I’m tired of this competition, perhaps she has too much water in her diet?

And it’s not just this type of acting out.  She’s not an affectionate cat.  Quite the opposite, actually.  Look at this innocent toilet paper.

myrtle hates tp

She has a conflicted relationship with boxes.  Total love/hate dynamic.


 In case it wasn’t totally obvious in the above photo…bags ok, though.

bags are ok

So, obviously, she can be a typical, cute type cat.  As a matter of fact, the other day Mistress Myrtle even licked me!  From a cat that has purred an average of once per month, that was a big deal.  Sometimes, she even climbs on my lap for a minute.  Until I make the mistake of petting her while she is there.

I think she’s really poorly adjusted.  I am her third owner.  She’s just over two years old.  I feel bad for her, but why can’t I have a normal cat?  The guys I tend to date end up needing repair, which is hard enough when we both speak English.  Or just have the ability to use words.  With a cat, who the hell knows what the fuck is going through their minds?

How am I supposed to interpret this action?

Aargh.  Like I said, she appears to figuratively be trying to kill me.  This is a daily occurrence.  Sometimes it is fabric…usually, it’s my skin.

What to do?  I love my Myrtle.  But do I have to settle for a cat that abuses me?  My dinner companion last night told me that I don’t need to settle for a defective cat.  But I feel like I can fix her if I’m just patient.  But I got an older cat so I wouldn’t have to deal with the scratching, biting and general bad kitty social behavior.  Then again, I had a glimmer of worry when I adopted her because I was told that she was described as “Queen of the Castle” when I got her …no other pets or kids.

But I assumed at least one human was ok.

Maybe I was wrong.

Maybe I should get her another cat to play with…this kind of sounds like Single Kitten Syndrome, where they don’t have another cat to teach them proper socialization.  I will admit that her scratches and bites have gotten gentler over time.  I always try to overreact when she hurts me so that she associates the sound of pain with her actions.

But I also admit that some days I also look at the shelf with the canned cat food on it – I buy the small cans so she has a fresh meal out of each can – and think “You’ve got X many days left to turn it around, Myrtle…when the cat food runs out, your number may be up.”

Then I feel like a bad person.

Can you break up with a cat?  Is it any more effective than trying to bargain or negotiate with one?

Hey look, an entry with fewer than 1000 words!

Psy-cat-ic Myrtle

The Name-Game: Cat Edition

Ishmael was taken.  Apparently, gender inappropriate, too…so, call me Myrtle.

In the grand scheme of global population, the total number (23, at last count) of people who may opt to take offense to this violation of election protocols is insignificant.  However, “neurotic” doesn’t fully encapsulate the behavioral tide that my owner swims against and frequently is swept away by.  Sadly, poor recently adopted me and my command of English doesn’t really allow me to clarify further.  give me a break, I’m a cat.

Nor do I really care to…again, I’m a cat.  Your human judgments matter not.  I am the higher power everyone’s been talking about.

Anyway, my human seems disproportionately concerned about these 23 simian knock-offs and sat me down to explain his reasoning to me.

Sorry…he threw my catnip carrot across the floor after finding it in the produce drawer of the fridge.  I had to chase it, which resulted in my skidding into some unframed art he just keeps sitting around, leaned against the wall.  I’m back now.

Sidebar:  cats love carrots.  Not.  @madonna:  LOL

Anyway, the whole thing started with my shelter name:  Lizzy.  Apparently, that wouldn’t fly since his sister’s name is Beth, short for Elizabeth.  He confided in me that he occasionally replaces her name with Betsy in his mind.  When he’s feeling particularly frisky – shut up – he rifs Lizardbreath from her full given name of Elizabeth mixed with his childhood speech impediment.  If you think that’s cute, you should see how cute he is when he doesn’t think he sounds gay.  Ermagherd.

ROFLMWO (rolling on the floor, laughing my whiskers off).

So, Lizzy was out.  Like I care.  I answer to no man.  Quite literally.

So, he spends two days sourcing name candidates.  This guy needs a hobby.

Oooh!  The frizzy, jingly ball!  BRB.

God.  If you don’t have one of those, I highly recommend it.  They are quite…stimulating.

Ok, where was I?  Oh, yeah…he narrows the candidates down to 10 choices.  For people names.  He’s still occasionally yelling “Penguin” or “Broomstick” at me to see how I respond.  Jesus, I hope this clown remembers to buy food.  For me, anyway.  The 10 choices are:

Cleo

Ruth

Myrtle

Joan

Hedda

Sugar Pie

Gayle

Bobbie Christina

Amelie

Gracie

Seriously, what was the vetting process on these names?  Ugh.  I said “vet”.  <shudder>

Since this guy really seems to love the sound of his own outer monologue, I actually know the vetting process:

Cleo – I look, somehow, Egyptian.  His best friend, a Fox of some sort keeps laughing ans saying it’s short for Cleocatra.  Right.  All this white fur.

Ruth – Biblical.  From him.  Anyway, if he thinks he can generate loyalty from me in any way other than regular feedings and occasional and likely tragically ending petting…well, god bless him.  “Wither thou goest, I shall goest”?  Right.  I’ll eat your face if you don’t feed me.

Myrtle – Ok, like I said earlier, this is the winner, and I’m kind of glad.  It’s for two reasons, one of which is as dopey as I’ve come to expect of this guy: I’m a Torby – a Tortoise Shell colored Tabby – I’ll get to this later.  The other is that this is his grandma’s middle name.  She smoked is what I know about her after he freaked out when I almost catted one of her ashtrays off a shelf.  I could go for a cig right about meow.  You holding?

Joan – Something about talk shows?  I’m just glad it wasn’t historical.  I could really use a light, but I’d rather not be burned at the stake.

Sugar Pie – Seriously.  This queen.  It’s an Anna Nicole Smith reference.  I’ll not be responsible for my actions if this dark horse option becomes a contender.

Hedda – More weird talk show shit.  Old school.

Gayle – Shocker, talk show stuff.  You’d actually be surprised at how little this guy turns on his TV.  Anyway, I hope this doesn’t win, since Gayle was the sidekick in this scenario.  Have you met cats?  Sidekick to no one.

Bobbie Christina – He’s going to hell.  Way too soon.  Anyway, if you’re going to go, go big.  I’m a Dolly, period.  Although, based on his other relationships, I get his affinity with this name.  Beaten (how very Bobby Brown!); Died On (very Whitney and Bobby Christina; also, totally my exit strategy, we cats don’t live that long!); Cheated On (by a guy who insisted dogs were the ultimate pet…how humiliating and still very Bobby Brown); Peter Panned (although this guy seems like good people – as far as humans go – since he liked cats!).

Amelie – Something about a high school Spanish class crush and a french film.  I don’t even care.

Gracie – Just no.  There is no acceptable reason.

Jesus.  He just yelled “Cork” and I’m not even sure he’s talking to me.  I hope it’s not another name option.  Perhaps it was a particularly violent hiccup.  We seem to have settled right in to what he wanted in the first place.

But, let’s discuss those polling results, shall we?  First of all, apparently, there were over 100 responses…which seems like a lot of people investing in a cat name.  Well, now that I type it out, I am a cat, I think I could reasonably expect over 100% polling action with several people casting multiple votes.

Just over 75 of those responses seemed capable of following simple instructions and voting for one of the ten choices.  The rest pulled out the democracy card and wrote in options, which is fine, but I can’t imagine what they thought would happen…a sea change of opinion that resulted in 75 other people all recanting their vote and throwing their support behind their suggestion?  Thank god no one suggested Norma Rae.

Anyway:

Cleo – 37% of the motherfucking vote!

Ruth – 5% of the vote…if we round up.

Myrtle – 16%

Joan – 8%, Sorry Joan, No Cats Named Joan…EVER!

Sugar Pie – <2% of the vote.

Hedda – 5%…again, brought to you by generous rounding.

Gayle – 5%, but a better 5% than Hedda or Ruth, so there’s that.  Are you really surprised, Gayle?  No.  No, you aren’t.

Bobbie Christina – 8%…too soon, but I do like these obviously un-neutered friends.  Call me.  RAWR.

Amelie – 5%, that’s so precious for such a pretentious name.  He can’t pull off that type of gay.  Have you seen him dress?  Totally jeans and tee shirt.  All.  The.  Time.  I’m a fucking adorable, snub tailed Torby with a size 00 figure after a surprise litter of five at 23 months of age.  All I’m saying is that I could pull off being named Carl but I’m glad Amelie bombed in the polls.

Gracie – 19% and I really need to work on my Jedi mind tricks.  This option should never have happened.  He throws my carrot and gives me bonito whenever I want, though, so there is that.

So, this clown’s poor best friend suggested Cleo, which for some reason…he just did not like.  Oh, yeah…the dead grandma trump card.  Ok, whatever…a friend told him that names that end in O just sound like “No!” to pets, so to go with “Clea”.  Luckily, he hates the actress Clea Duvall, so that was a non-starter.  He’s also super cool because he not only scoops my poop and feeds me, but is really mentally flexible.  Kinda.  Whatever, he got there.

Watching him validate his rejection of Cleo was impressive.  Mostly, because he knew it was incumbent upon him to go with the popular vote.  He laid on the couch for a while and talked it out.

I helped by jumping on his chest and showing him my butt.

The long and short of it came down to the Bell Curve.

He decided to throw out the best and worse performers, which obviously took out Cleo.  Poor Sugar Pie – blessedly – joined kept it company in the trash heap.

That left Gracie as the winner of the popular vote.  I threw myself at the French Doors, trying desperately to get away from that eventuality.  My Main-Poop-Scooper seemed to pick up on my distress and absolute opposition to this name and decided that in addition to honoring his dead grandmother – because she’s ethereally around to appreciate that gesture – he would tip his frustrated author hat to the late, great Theodor Geisel…aka: Dr Seuss and his pinnacle of Turtle literature, Yertl the Turtle – hey, turtle literature is surely an emerging trend.  And a stretch.  Except that I’m a Tabby/Tortoise Shell mix…a Torby.  Yertl was a turtle and my markings are classes tortoise.  Told you I would explain that later.  Who can defy that obviously pickled and only-slightly-post-pre-school logic?

It had to be Myrtle.

The important thing is:  we both got what we wanted.

For me that meant not naming me Gracie.  For him, even though he didn’t likely realize it, it meant not doing what popular vote told him to do.  This guy:  he’s like the electoral college.

Or likes college students.  I’ll leave that blog to him or to your gentle judgments, anyway.

Now, if you’ll forgive me, my paws are tired and I really feel like I need to go drag my ass across his pillows before he goes to sleep.  I really don’t know why.

All the best, and sorry in advance for all the pix of me that are undoubtedly heading your way!

Myrtle

The Name-Game: Cat Edition