Last weekend we moved into a new apartment. After the unpacking and arranging and decorating, I now have a space to read, write, work, and dream.
Let’s be honest. This was always about the cat.
I figured I’d give myself plenty of time, you know. Some of these things are measurable, some are not. Some are silly, some are serious. Some are more realistic than others. That’s ok. Dream big and all. So, here are 100 things I want to do before I’m 100:
1. Adopt our child
Become fluent in another language (probably Romanian, Latin, Russian, or German)
Go to Romania again
Read all of these books
Get a puppy and successfully train it
Buy a house
Work from home
Go see the Tour de France
10. Travel to the East Coast
Visit England again
Go camping in Yosemite
Go to Russia
Travel all over Eastern Europe
16. See a Broadway play 17. Sing in a choir again
Ride a hot air balloon
Ride in a limo
Anonymously pay for another couple’s meal at a restaurant
Be mentored by someone
Learn to play tennis
Run a 5k
Take the Chunnel to Paris
Take salsa lessons with Andrew
Go on a cruise
Beat my husband in Scrabble
Build a usable and pretty piece of furniture
31. Paint something I would actually want to display
Finish my Oxford scrapbook
Get my MA
Meet Kate Middleton and Prince William
Raise my children to love and obey the Lord
Volunteer in a literacy program
Get a professional massage 41. Figure out something fun to do with my wedding dress
Own a baby grand
Invest on my own
Start an IRA
Buy a small SUV to be my “mom car”
Not scar my children for life
Have a hospitable, warm home where people feel welcome
Have a family vacation spot
Write letters to each of my children
Jump around in a mud pit
Go on a safari in Africa
Spend a weekend somewhere by myself
Get over my fear of the ocean
Window-shop on Rodeo Drive
Spend a day at a spa
57. Be a bridesmaid
Have beautiful flowers in my front yard
Watch all the seasons of Friends
Be a godmother
Have a walk-in closet
Have a jet bathtub
Actually go into the Tower of London
65. Throw a surprise party for Andrew that actually surprises him 66. Own jewelry from Tiffany’s
Go on another mission trip
Perfect my English accent
Convince an English person that I am English
Pay off all of our debts
Fly first class
Learn how to make martinis
Have a wrap-around porch
Make something at Color Me Mine
Have a teacup collection
Make stockings for my family
Go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve/Morning
Own a typewriter and use it to write letters
Identify my spiritual gift and figure out how to use it
Get rid of all the useless stuff that we have
See Michael Buble in concert
Get my own business cards
Take piano lessons again
Get a cookie jar
Be that nice lady who always has cookies in her cookie jar
Publish an article or book review in a magazine
Publish an article or book review online
89. Get an iPhone
Explore and discover the world with my kids
Make a quilt
Learn to drive stick shift so I will be prepared for the Amazing Race
Apply to be on The Amazing Race
95. Donate blood 97. Own Finding Nemo
Host an international student
Own a pair of TOMS wedges
Even the tiny cube-apartment I call home can feel lonesome when the hubster is at work from 8am-7pm several days a week. I like to play barista at Starbucks sometimes, but for the most part I’m home editing/reading/watching The Bachelorette. I miss having family around – people to talk to, entertain, be entertained by, and engage with in distracting skirmishes. Andrew felt it, too. And, no, we are NOT ready to have a baby.
Ergo, we got a cat.
We’d gone to Petco for a supposed Cat Adoption event, which ended up just being Harley and some other mean orange cat sitting in cages, quivering in fear at all the customers gawking at them. She came up to the bars and sniffed our fingers and cautiously allowed us to scratch her ears…then her back…and pretty soon she was purring and cried when we walked away. Who could resist that?
She’s a wonderful cat. She’s five months old, but very small still for her age. She’s kitten enough to enjoy chasing things and playing, but she’s cat enough to also enjoy snuggling, entertaining herself while I’m working (cough…blogging), and using her litter box. She likes looking at books, so obviously she was meant for me! It’s great to know we are giving her a good home and expanding our own little family in this way…. yada yada yada. Blah blah blah.
We’ve had her for about a week, which means she’s gotten comfortable by now. And naughty. This week, she has been subtly and cunningly conniving at usurping my authority. Make no mistake: cats only want one thing in life, and that is complete and utter control.
She started by taking over the bedroom. That first night, she was so cute…we just couldn’t let her sleep outside our room, in a big apartment she didn’t know, without us, her loving parents! We’d bought her a little bed and put it in our room. I tucked her into it, said goodnight, and got in our bed. You can imagine how that worked out. A few minutes later, Little Innocent Baby was sleeping between us. We didn’t have the heart to kick her out.
That set the precedent for the next night. When we got in bed, so did she. And the next night. And the next night. We thought we were being nice by allowing her into our sanctuary, but Andrew and I were becoming increasingly uncomfortable. He’d try to wrap his arm around me, and Harley would be there. I’d try to roll closer to his side of the bed, but there was that furry barrier preventing me. Let’s just say some important things don’t happen with a cat sleeping between you.
Then she decided to take over the bathroom. Now, I understand that a cat has to do its business just like people do, and I wasn’t going to allow her litter box to be anywhere but the bathroom. But I don’t have a vanity in our room, and we don’t have two bathrooms, so this bathroom is also my special place. It’s where I do not only my showering/washing/cleaning, but also my beautifying. Makeup. Hair. Nails. It all happens in that bathroom. And, as every woman knows, the beautifying ritual is not to be messed with.
After a couple days, I started avoiding the bathroom. I thought, “Oh…I don’t have to wear makeup today. It just smells too bad in here. I’ve got to get out.” While straightening my hair, I wondered, “Why is the floor sticky?” Sandy litter was in our bath rug, so I was stepping on it when I got out of the shower and tracking it through the rest of our house.
In my heart, I started to sense the dissolution of my authority and resent Harley. And I launched my counterattack. Two nights ago, before bed, I realized I missed my husband. He works so much that our time together is very precious. No cat is going to come between us. I made an executive decision (what Andrew & I call it when one of us makes a decision without asking the other) that Harley was going to be sleeping outside our room. We bought her a bed—if she doesn’t want to use it, that’s up to her—and that’s the only bed she gets. I put her bed in the living room, plopped her down in it, and raced inside our room, closing the door before she could sneak in.
This did not go over well. She cried. And scratched at the door. And decided to hold the kitty olympics at 3am. We could hear her meowing and jumping on things, racing as fast as she could over the furniture. But we were strong. We didn’t let her in until, at 5:30am, we just couldn’t take all the racket anymore.
Last night was the same thing: the crying, the scratching, the kitty olympics. It didn’t last quite as long, though. I was relieved. I thought my plan was working.
Then I woke up this morning and went into the bathroom.
Now, because we live in such a small box, and our bathroom is just an even smaller box, there is very little room for her litter box. Therefore it sits underneath a shelving unit, where we keep blankets, towels, cleaning supplies, etc. Harley used this to take her revenge.
Apparently, sometime in the night, she decided to see how high she could jump. She got pretty high. The fourth shelf, which is where our towels are. Only, because the towels were stacked as they were, my guess is both she and they fell right off the shelf…and into her litter box. I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt here. I don’t think she planned for four washcloths and two hand towels to fall in her litter box. But, since they were there, and a kitty’s still got to do her business…
Absolutely gross. I wash my face and hands with those, and they were all in good condition and were gifts we got for our wedding. That was the last straw.
So today I reclaimed the bathroom. I closed the door so she couldn’t get in there while I worked. I scrubbed the whole bathroom, top to bottom. I cleaned up all the litter (and etc. …ew.) on the floor. I bought Febreze for pet odors. I bought lemon-scented ammonia. I bought a Swiffer. Part of me was indignant. I just finished Operation Spring Cleaning! I didn’t want to do this in-depth scourge of the bathroom again. But it was necessary.
Harley was pretty upset with me. She sulked and didn’t purr when I pet her.
I learned two very important lessons from this experience. First: I learned how to clean a bathroom better than I ever have before, and in such a way that the pet odors are now gone. Second: I became more confident in my role in our home. There’s a clear hierarchy here, and it goes Andrew & Ariel, then Harley. It’s funny how my authority had to be challenged in order for me to be convinced I had it in the first place.
And now Harley and I are on good terms again. As long as both of us keep in mind who’s in charge, I have a feeling we’re both going to be much happier. Well, at least I will be.
No, it’s not the characters from the Bible story. It’s our courageous new kitty friends!
Yesterday they were brave enough to actually enter the apartment. It was pretty cold outside and they were mewing at the door, so I opened it and they came right in! I couldn’t let them just starve, but they had already eaten all the cat food on Sunday and Monday, so I crumbled some crackers and gave them two little bowls of milk. They were so adorable!
They didn’t just eat and leave, either. Shadrach was very curious about our book selection, but I don’t think we have similar tastes because he soon decided the books weren’t interesting enough (psh, whatever…) and opted for snuggling under the couch. Meshach thought the coffee table might have more food on it, but when he jumped up there he discovered that it only had a cookie-scented candle on it, not actual cookies. Then he thought maybe he should investigate the bathroom to make sure all was well in there, and it was. Abednego was a pretty hungry slob and drank most of the milk by himself.
I wanted to take pictures of them during these adventures, but they made it pretty clear that the kitchen was my territory and I had to stay there or they would run away (chauvinistic cats…). But they did want to watch me as I made dinner. All three of them sat less than a foot away from me, half hiding behind the trash can (as if I couldn’t see them), smelling the delicious aroma of a sausage skillet. They don’t trust me quite yet, though, because they wouldn’t lick any off my fingers – though Abednego did hazard a brave sniff about an inch away from my outstretched hand.
We had to eventually shoo them out because Andrew had a friend coming over, but I’m hoping for more progress today.
Yesterday morning Andrew and I were sitting on the couch enjoying our coffee. Our blinds were open and the heat from our cozy little apartment made the windows steamy because of the frostiness outside. We have a red camping chair on our porch, which I like to sit and read in on sunny days.
All of a sudden, a furry little head peeked out from behind the chair back. One of the many feral kittens living right outside our apartment had apparently discovered the comfort of our little red camping chair. It stared at us for a while, and we stared at it. Then it noticed the TV and was very interested in the news. So we all watched TV together.
Later that day Andrew and I went to WinCo to do our grocery shopping. One of the greatest features of WinCo – besides the amazing prices – is the fill-it-yourself section. There are rows and rows of canisters filled with goodies: every type of nut, cereal, trail mix, candy, pasta, chocolates, and… pet food. Andrew and I were caught up on the high of “Yes, let’s buy it – it’s only 99 cents!!” so we decided to get some cat food. I grabbed a baggie, pulled the lever, and got a 1/2 pound of cat food.
Today we put some of the cat food out in a bowl. Immediately our apartment became the most happenin’ place for today’s hip kitty.
I stopped taking pictures because it started to get dark outside and the lighting was terrible, but total we had about 6 visitors.
We loved watching the cats. It felt like we had pets, something that both Andrew and I have been missing terribly. It was a small thing, but it gave both of us some joy and comfort. We were able to laugh with each other and share a special moment together. For the first time since I’ve been in Portland, I started to feel that I am home.