The morning of Saturday, October the 6th I was walking to work when over by the supermarket I heard a cat crying. I looked around to see if the cat was stuck in or under something, but couldn’t actually see the cat at all. I was about to go on my way, but then decided to check again, and this time found a frightened little kitten stuck at the top of a tree, I tried to coax her down, but she seemed stuck in a pattern: she’d climb down one branch, then climb back up another one. I was especially worried, since there was a power line next to the tree. And even if she did manage to get safely down, the street 25 feet away was as dangerous as a super-highway.
The tree was growing in the backyard of an interior decorating firm’s office. I knocked on the door, but nobody answered. I considered calling the Fire Department, but I was afraid they’d take too long and probably charge me for the service.
So I just stood there, gesturing and coaxing, whistling, smacking my lips, until the kitten came down to a limb that I could reach and pull down.
I set her on the ground and she began twisting around my legs. I figured the best place for her for now was my apartment, so I headed back there, with the kitty wrapped around my neck like a python. Inside I gave her water and tuna—she lapped both up in a manner that indicated she’d not had food or water in awhile.
Nevertheless, she looked very good: no apparent fleas, clean eyes, nose, ears, fur. She’s white with black and grey tabby spots, a grey tabby tail, and ears and the top of her head also grey tabby. She’s very tiny, with a small mouth and nose.
Very quickly she took up the trick of reaching out with her paw and delicately knocking my glasses off my nose.
I spread newspapers on the bathroom floor, left the food and water dishes in there, and left the light on, and shut the door—almost. (I have so many books piled the outer door jamb that the door won’t fully close.)
I called work and said I was running late and would be in as soon as possible. I was an hour late and nobody said anything. And the way I figure it, a cat’s life is worth more than a shitty $7.66 an hour.
As a result of this new development I was in a fairly good mood all day. And then two bonuses: 1) I was assigned to finish processing the shipment back in the comfort of the office, far from the noise and bustle up front; and 2) the manager went home early.
After work I ran into Mike A___, whom I’d not seen in a few years, and he gave me a ride. He asked what I’d been up to and I told him about the Bi-Polar Level II diagnosis. He joked, “That’s just like you, B____—having to be one step over everyone else!” I said, “Well, it’s not like it’s a better version of Bi-Polar, like “Bi-Polar, Version 2.0.”
A few hours later I went to the supermarket and got some canned and dry cat food, some jingly cat toys, and a disposable cat box (Just in case someone puts up a flier announcing a lost cat). Still, turning into the pet aisle after all this time made me tear up.
I had some poorly-cooked Chinese food, then headed home, feeling a bit excited about seeing the kitten again. Then I saw the vet place where Fred had died, and I started crying. I realized I didn’t really want this kitten—I still wanted another Basset, and even then, none of them would ever replace Fred.
I got home and found the kitty had broken out of the bathroom. I sat down to check my e-mail. The kitty climbed up my leg, then knocked one-third of the stuff off my desk, before becoming fascinating by the computer, stepping all over the keyboard, and batting at the icons, the cursor, and so forth.
I learned via e-mail that a Basset, whose health everyone on the Basset newsletter board had been following closely as he alternated between somewhat decent and seriously bad health, had passed away today, so I began sobbing. I called my mom to tell her about the cat, and began crying over Fred some more. Then I cried after the phone call. And in the shower. And while typing….
Sunday I slept late, and spent most of my waking hours getting the cat out from underfoot and picking up stuff she’d knocked over. She has a bad habit of standing between my legs while I’ll trying to piss—I’m afraid she might get hit with a stray stream. She’s also started jumping up on top of my boxes of books and files, which is a good way for her to get hurt.
Every time she does something cute or affectionate, I begin sobbing, thinking about Fred.
She filled up the disposable litter box in one night, so I went to Petsmart and got her a new one and scanned the lost and found board there and on Craigslist to see if anyone was missing a kitten.
James initially suggested I just take care of the cat until I find someone else who wants her.
Sunday I e-mailed James that the cat was stressing me out, that I was yelling at her to stop swatting the computer’s mouse, to get off of high boxes and out of the garbage, and that I was having to push her away whenever she leaped on my legs with her claws extended. James concluded I was a danger to the cat and told me I should surrender her to an agency or shelter on Monday, and that I was being selfish not to do so. Or as he put it, “Please for once in your life think of something other than your self (sic).” (What kind of horrendous things did he think I was doing to this cat? Of course, James thinks it’s a case of animal cruelty to move a cat once he or she has jumped up in front of his computer keyboard.)
I told James I didn’t want the cat to be put down, that I wouldn’t give her to an agency that would kill her. James made the huge mistake of telling me the cat’s fate was not my decision to make, that I was not allowed to decide whether or not she was put down. For some reason, after all these years, James has not learned that trying to tell me what I can and cannot do only steels my resolve into the opposite course of action.
Sunday night the cat kept me awake by “making biscuits” by my face, on my chest, and elsewhere, then doing a Nureyevskian Grande Jeté over my face and onto the rug. Monday I felt dull and depressed, with a nasty cough developing in my chest.
Monday was the day the government insists on celebrating Columbus Day (I hate the “Monday Holiday Bill” almost as much as Daylight Savings Time) holiday, so we had no mail delivery. Therefore we had no visit from the guy we call “The Sweaty Mailman,” who manages to get every piece of mail that comes into the store sopping wet with his excessive and nasty perspiration.
I was looking forward to seeing the cat when I got home, but wound up spending my first few hours home crying.
Tuesday the 9th I had an appointment with a nurse, who took me off that fucking Ativan (twice daily) and put me on Vistaril (three times daily) for my anxiety, yet doubled my dosage of the useless mood stabilizer Lamictal from 100 mg to 200 mg. I explained to the nurse and my case worker that my condition hasn’t improved at all in two months, although I’ve stopped thinking about suicide all the time. Now I just feel hopeless and utterly devoid of a future.
I wonder why it is my care-givers seem so much more optimistic about my chances of fixing my life and tangled brain than I am.
In the waiting room I cried in front of my case worker when talking about Fred. After the exam my case worker took me downtown so I could get my free bus pass, declaring to all the world that I am officially “disabled.” And when I got home I learned of the passing of another friend’s Basset Hound and began crying all over again, while the kitty kept trying to jump onto my lap or perch on my shoulder.
I did take the kitty out to see the balcony today, but she wasn’t as interested as I thought she’d be. She only wants to be where I am—at all times.
James asked me if I’d taken her to the vet yet for her shots or dropped her off with a shelter or agency. “And what am I supposed to pay for all these shots with? My charm and good looks? And as for taking her somewhere I was too busy running around town attending to my official business as a crazy person to do that.”
I think I’m coming down with something—maybe a flu or bronchial infection. I greatly look forward to it. It would be a vast improvement over the horror of my job.
Tuesday night I was sitting in bed, getting ready to put things away and go to sleep, when I heard a clatter in the living room, followed by the sound of something falling over. I sternly called out, “FRED!!!,” in order to get him out of whatever mischief he was into and to come join me in the bedroom. The word had scarcely left my mouth when I realized what I had said, remembered that Fred was in fact dead, and that it was the cat that was knocking around in the living room. And then I fell into yet another fit of crying and sobbing.
Before I retired on Tuesday night I took a capsule of Vistaril—my new anxiety med—and it knocked me on my ass, to the extent I was too groggy, doped-up, and out of it to even stand up straight Wednesday morning, much less go to work. I called in sick;I barely remember the message I left, other than that I said my reason for not coming in had nothing to do with my now-raspy, rumbling voice.
The pill bottle had said to take a capsule “three times daily as needed.” So I figured I would take one before bed, one upon waking, and another at noon, since noon’s about the time things start getting crazy at work. So like an idiot right after calling in sick I took another Vistaril capsule (25 mg), as well as my new morning dose of Lamictal (200 mg). I was knocked out until 12:30pm, when I was awakened by the computer automatically rebooting. (It had gotten a new update or something.) I got up to see what the problem was and to see if the power was still on, then went back to bed, sweating profusely, and slept until 5:30. Upon waking I noted my cough had gotten worse. Then I left a message for my case worker to find me a new prescription that would actually allow me to function.
I had a lot of strange dreams Wednesday, one involving me, my mother, and late father visiting Europe (or did they come visit me in Europe?). I dreamt my mother and I went to a strange circus held in an opera house—we were seated in the balcony. I horrified my mother with my anti-Americanism by standing and putting my hand over my heart and singing along at the beginning of the show when they played “La Marseillaise” and “Deutschland Über Alles.” (Why didn’t they also play “God Save The Queen”? And I was worried they’d play all the major national anthems of Europe, and that I had no clue what the anthems for Spain and Italy were. And why did some unseen person try to garrote me with mono-filament line while I was singing?)
Anyway, despite being loaded with purported anti-anxiety meds, as soon as I woke up Wednesday, I went into anxiety and annoyance overdrive as the cat started jumping around, getting underfoot, and knocking things over. As much as she clearly loves me, and despite the fact she stayed curled up by my side all during my drug-induced sleep, she is also a tremendous nuisance. I am tired of being clawed. I am tired of having to repeatedly move her out of my way. She’s also going through kitty litter and litter liners almost daily, and I can’t afford to pay for them.
James’s wimpy whining and presumptive attempt at ordering me around notwithstanding, I decided I needed to find a new home for this kitten, and called my vet’s office to see if anyone had reported her missing. The office was closed and the phone wasn’t set up to take messages. I then checked on-line for the various local agencies that take in cats, but most seem to be booked-up right now. I wanted to paraphrase Henry II: “Who will rid me of this troublesome pussy?”