TC is a Jerkwad, Part 2

So we all know my cat, The Cat (TC), is a bit of an ass. Not just a bit, actually. Around these parts, he is known as a jerkwad. It’s kind of his second nickname.

wpid-wp-1408413624193.jpegI know. He looks so cute and innocent. It is an act, all designed to fool those of the outside word into thinking he is nothing but a fuzzy-faced angel. I admit, even I am fooled sometimes. He’ll walk up to me, all quiet mews and low purrs, rub against my legs, make me think he might let me touch him, and then wham! I’ve got a cat tooth stuck in my thumb.

Of course, we all know his story. We all know I am the evil interloper who dared infiltrate his quiet abode, the horrid female who dared intervene in the spoiled thing he had going with my PH. What he won’t tell you is that he met me as a teeny kitten, that I have been this dark presence in his life since he was barely two months old. Ten years later, you’d think he’d be over it.

But I digress. The purpose of this post is not to question his sinister motivations. It is to recount his latest acts of jerkwadiness.

1. The squalling has gotten to a new low. He squawks at me for everything these days, to refill the water bowl I filled ten minutes ago, to top up the over-loaded dish of cat food, to give him treats, to lift up the foot rest of the Lazy Boy, to give him more treats, to open the bathroom door so he can stare at me while I shower, to watch him clean himself, and – most often – to go outside. I like to think I have increased my level of patience since adopting Shiva, but there is only so much guttural meowing a human can take. I am tempted to record it for you so you can sympathise with my pain. Rest assured, I like you too much to put you through that.

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2. HIs fur. I know, it isn’t his fault he has too much fluff. That’s just genetics. However, it is his fault when he chooses to brush it all over the bottoms of my pants hanging in the closet. I adore finding gobs of sticky orange fuzz all over my cuffs before getting dressed for work in the morning. That must be what he thinks. Either that or he is a jerkwad, you decide. (Please note, he doesn’t do this to my PH’s pants.)

3. He is increasingly bold with Shiva. Not that she does anything to stop him. In the span of an hour he managed to trap her in the bathroom – again – and then had the guts to eat a piece of her kibble out of her bowl while she was eating from the other side! What cat does this? Clearly he is far too confident. Someone needs to take control and apparently it isn’t going to be the dog.

4. He has a pathological obsession with my shoes that is sinking to new levels. No one needs to see that Cat, no one.

5. He destroyed the frame of the boot room door. For no reason. Just because he could? Maybe because I didn’t let him outside at midnight to meet his pals? Maybe because I care too much about him getting eaten by coyotes? Jerk. Wad.

wpid-wp-1408413633541.jpeg6. As if I need another, right? Yet, it doesn’t end. TC has also taken to begging for food. Every morning when I eat my breakfast, be it cereal, toast, or a piece of fruit, he is right there demanding I give him a bite. Even Shiva has the decency to give me space. She knows the key to begging is laying on her mat, shooting me sidelong glances. The Cat? He shoves his face right in my Cheerios. This isn’t because he is hungry, don’t make that mistake. It isn’t even because he likes oaty o’s. He rarely eats anything, even when I generously attempt to share. He simply thinks he has the right to everything that is mine.

The nerve of such a cat! I tells ya. I had naively thought by his old age he’d be slowing down, maybe even start cuddling, you know, like normal, nice cats. Oh, how wrong I was.

You know you live with a reactive dog when…

 

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You hear a dog bark and by instinct you reach for the treats in your pocket. Even though you are walking downtown and your own dog is miles away.

You have spent many an hour tucked in an isolated room with your puppy avoiding repair workers and landlords.

The instant the door bell rings you and your partner move into your pre-determined roles in an elaborate plan to prevent your dog from losing her shit.

Ordering pizza is a twelve step process and requires more energy than it takes to cook a meal yourself.

Even if you passed Ryan Gosling every day, you’d never notice because you are too busy making sure your dog is anxiety free every time that strange blond man walks by.

You can click and treat while reading a book, making dinner, and practicing the piano without missing a beat. At the same time.

You know how to make even the most mundane object the most interesting thing in the world. You have been known to exclaim over rocks, leaves, and poop bogs just to keep your dog distracted. A closed fist will do in a pinch.

You know exactly how to get out kibble stains from the pockets of hoodies.

Lucky for us, Shiva is in remission. Not cured, but we’ve got our management strategy down to a mad, mad level of skills. Every dog is different, however. Is there anything I missed on this list?

To Kelly on Her 27th Birthday

Friendship

I don’t have that many friends. No, it’s true. I don’t. But I am okay with this. I am not the kind of person who likes to be surrounded by circles of people. I would rather have one solid friend I can speak to every day, than one hundred people I hear from only once in a while.

As a private person, it isn’t an easy thing for me to relax around others. It takes a great deal of time before I am at ease enough with someone to call him or her a friend. It is a big investment.  I don’t have casual relationships. There is quite a gap between friendship and acquaintanceship. Work associates, classmates, neighbours, people I talk to at the bus stop, these all fall into the latter category. They come and go out of my life and don’t leave any scars. Friendship, for me, is much deeper. It involves loyalty and shared confidences, emotional connection and mutual concern. Whether with a winky face or an outright jibe, You know I consider you a friend when I am comfortable enough to make fun of you.

I tease because I love.

Which is why, the few friends I am so lucky to have, are people I have known for a long time. For example, I am still friends with the very first person whom I ever gave this title, at age three. Almost thirty years later, we don’t speak often, but the friendship remains intact. With or without social media, I do believe we would have kept in touch.

My friendship with Kelly is young in comparison. I met her in 2011 when we shared an office. It is rare for me to befriend someone at work. I like to keep separate worlds. It is easier to organize and prevents me from having to reveal too much about myself out of my usual sphere. At work, I like people to think I have my shit together. The less they know, the better. I had just left an awkward job elsewhere and was still trying to figure out if there was a polite way of unfriending former co-workers on Facebook. I told myself I would never add colleagues to my personal accounts ever again.

This vow didn’t last long. Kind of hard to ignore a Facebook friend request from a boss.

Kelly and I weren’t immediate co-conspirators or kindred spirits. We both have our issues, after all. I can’t say when we shifted from officemates to partners in crime. It was a seamless, gradual change. Maybe it was after her cat drew my blood after the Sandwich War of 2011. Or perhaps it was more subtle than that. I don’t know if it is because we have so much in common, or if I just like people who test my patience, but in retrospect, it seems to me she was bossing me around quite regularly within six months. It stopped annoying me after twelve.

Remember, verbal abuse equals affection, just ask my sister.

We’ve been through some stressful times together. At first they were all work-related. I can recall so many episodes of Adventures in Late Night Photocopying and Let’s Get This Conference Over With. Of course, we can’t forget the classic, Year of Shittery. Always a pleaser. But as horrible as things seemed and as overwhelming as it all was, we could always laugh about it. We experienced so many breaking points together, moments of meltdown over inoperable hand carts and frustrating emails. But the solution was often just a Starbucks trip away.

And if it wasn’t, we were there to support. We couldn’t solve each other’s problems, but we could understand.

I don’t keep in touch with many former work pals. As I’ve mentioned, previous acquaintanceships have died the instant I left the building.  When we made the decision to leave Halifax, one of my biggest regrets was moving away from friends. I worried I would lose what I had gained.

Kelly was, and is, different. At that point she knew who I was, dorky dog blog and all, and didn’t judge. She put up with my heckling and my insecurities and I put up with her commandeering and lack of filter, knowing she had the tougher end of the deal. My hermit ways are not easy to withstand. I should have known if she’d already ignored my previous attempts to evade, she wasn’t going to drop me the instant I was out of sight.

We still talk almost every day. She has been an incredible source of calm, even from a distance. When Shiva was injured last fall, Kelly didn’t think I was crazy or overreacting when I called her in tears. She understood my fears, stayed up long past midnight to listen to me yammer, and offered her resources to help us out. There was no hesitation. When I think back on that night, I realize just how lucky I am to have such a warm and giving person on my team.

It’s a small team, but it’s a devoted one. I don’t know if I will ever deserve it. Kelly would be the first to chime in that I don’t.

I am not as skilled as Kelly, unfortunately. I can’t craft beautiful images or dedicate hours to sewing thoughtful gifts. The birthday presents I have planned out for her, have not been good enough to match what she has given me. It is a failure of mine, that I can never seem to synchronize the image in my head with the outcome. I fear this makes me a terrible friend. One little blog post is hardly an appropriate gift. It is just all I have to offer today, alongside my constant support and solidarity.

I often reflect on how much of life depends on the small decisions we make. The deadline had passed when I applied for the job where I met Kelly. I recall wavering before emailing my resume anyway. What would have happened if I hadn’t pushed the send button? Where would I have worked? Whom would I have met? I am certain I made the best choice. I know if I hadn’t met Kelly, if she hadn’t been kind enough to ignore all of my flaws, I wouldn’t be the quasi-well adjusted person I am right now.

Of course, it’s also possible I would have met a friend with a yacht and a house on the island of Sardinia, but I’ll give Kelly the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Happy Birthday, Kelly. Even if you like the Backstreet Boys, I am so grateful I can call you a friend.

If the Walls Could Talk

I can be a repetitive person. A person of routine. There are phrases I utter with great frequency without realizing. This was shoved in my face the other day when, after interrupting one of Shiva’s daily barkfests at the back door, I overheard our downstairs neighbour mimicking my words. I guess I do say the same thing almost every time. No doubt it would get annoying.

Oops.

The challenge is, we share a Queen Anne revival-style home with thin creaky floorboards and sparse insulation. It is beautiful and I love it. However, the sound-related aspects are a problem. My neighbours may disagree but I think it is we who suffer the most. Between Stompy in the flat upstairs and the transient crew in and out of the basement suite, life in the middle can be awkward. And I mean that to the fullest extent of the word. Let your imaginations take you all sorts of stunning and icky places.

Ahem.

So when it comes down to it, I don’t feel all that bad about the the constant phrasings my neighbours overhear. If anything, we should start charging them for the free entertainment. My PH and I have some pretty wicked conversations.

Here is an idea of what you might hear at any given time if you tipped your ear to our walls:

“Shiva! Chill!”

“Cat! Caaaaaaaat! Stop eating yourself.”

“Do my pants really taste that good?”

“Sit! I said, sit. Ahem.”

“Go lay down. All the way. No really, all the way.”

“Is it time for bed?”

“Really Sheevs, really??”

“Chiiiiiillllllll.”

“Voice box removal. We need to start saving now.”

“You worry too much.”

“Are you happy?”

“Extreme!”

“The city would make a killing if they put a red-light camera on that intersection.”

“Seriously? You seriously think that’s going to get you a treat?”

“We have the cutest dog in the world.”

“Jerkwad.”

“Bratface.”

“Shiva! C’mere! Want a treat?”

“There is nothing on television. Why do we have cable again?”

“Want a drink?”

“You are awesome, dog.”

I’ll let you decide who most often says what and to whom it is directed.

Do you find yourself saying the same things over and over again? Or do we just need to get out more?

Blackberry Purgatory: A Real Thing in the World

My mobile phone is in the midst of an identity crisis. It sounds like a joke but I couldn’t be more serious. It is stuck in cellular purgatory. Not quite a Blackberry, not quite an Android, it doesn’t know where it belongs. Half the time, it doesn’t even know it is a phone. Frankly, it is a mess. I don’t know how much longer we can co-exist.

It used to be so cool. When we first met, I felt proud to have it in my pocket. We were pals. I loved to talk up its full keyboard with its wicked email functionality. And if you have never used Blackberry Messenger, you are missing out on one of the smoothest communication systems ever implemented on a smart phone. The messaging system of a generation. And the emoticons? Don’t even get me started.

Alas, due to extenuating circumstances, we are going to have to part ways. It isn’t something I ever foresaw. Despite all of the naysayers, I have been true to my dear little phone. Applications and photography meant nothing to me. I didn’t flinch when friends went the way of Instagram and Evernote. Loyalty, that is what mattered to me. They could keep their Angry Birds and their high-speed Internet. My Blackberry and I were just fine with our app-less realm filled with blurry photos.

But, something unfortunate occurred and I was forced to make a difficult decision: my camera lost its zoom. And I mean this quite literally. The zoom button on my camera is broken. Thus, all of my photos require serious editing before they can be published online. Otherwise they look like this:

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Do you know what the subject of the above photo was supposed to be? Me neither. Anymore. Ugh. Pretty unforgivable for a blogger who spends the majority of her time posting pictures of her dog.

So maybe zoom isn't as big of an issue as my impatience and utter lack of skill. Whatevs.

So maybe zoom isn’t as big of an issue as my impatience and utter lack of skill. Whatevs.

Something had to be done. As much as it pained me, and it hurt a lot, I knew I had to make a change. The world cannot be deprived of Shiva photos. It is my sworn duty, after all. It has gotten to the point that I either spend money on a new camera or upgrade my cellular plan. A greater dilemma one has never faced.

I loved my little black phone. It was the first mobile device to give me access to email on the fly. We had a great time together, chuckling over Facebook feeds, making snarky remarks on Twitter. Unlike all of my other phones, this one understood me. It knew my distaste for personal calls and responded by having almost no calling ability whatsoever. Never once did it make me feel guilty for not answering a ring. Never once did it store a voicemail message for me not to return later. In gratitude, the only time I forced it to make a call was in the midst of a dire emergency. Even then, I made sure to keep it under a minute. I could always tell when my phone was overwhelmed by the heat in my palm. I will miss that heat. We were united in our anti-social inclinations. It never expected me to be who I wasn’t. I never demanded anything more than it was capable of providing.

This isn’t to say our relationship was perfect. There were times I took my phone for granted, neglecting it enough so as to let it fall in a puddle. Unforgivable, I know. But did it forsake me? Perish the thought! As soon as I realized my mistake and gave my phone it’s due, all was well again. My phone never held a grudge.

Sadly, things changed. My wireless company was displeased with the lack of modernization within my account. They told me I could not update my phone number from a Nova Scotia line unless I upgraded my calling plan. They didn’t understand the link between my phone and I. They especially didn’t understand my lack of calling features. They wanted to separate us forever.

For a long time, I refused. Faithful to my stocky pal, I weathered their threats and clung to the past. They couldn’t make me change. I would never let go! They would have to pry my Blackberry from my cold, dead hands.

And then my camera lost its zoom and my priorities shifted. With a new job forcing me to hustle from one meeting to the next, having a phone that could be used as a phone started to make more and more sense. I couldn’t keep paying long distance charges every time I needed to call a taxi. It was time to say goodbye.

Now, as I wait for my new phone to arrive, scared to discover uncharted land, my Blackberry isn’t what it used to be. It has forgotten how to and has all but lost connection to the outside world. The only communication we have these days is via text message. It just isn’t the same. It knows the end is coming. I wish there was something I could do to ease its transition to the next world. I wish I knew what to say or how to prepare.

The thing is, I am not as afraid as I expected I would be. The time has come to discover my next mobile relationship. It won’t be the same, it couldn’t be. I will never forget my Blackberry. It was my first glimpse of a new technological world, my first real experience of mobile freedom, of breaking out on my own without being tied down by cords and dying laptop batteries. Nevertheless, if there is anything this week has taught me, as I say farewell to my fading smart phone, it is that I am nothing if not resilient. Just as I learned how to type on my Blackberry’s keyboard, I will conquer the touch screen. I am ready to move on.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll even set up my voice mail this time. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

My Idea of a Morning Win

Finally! Dog blogs are legitimized! They aren’t just for odd women who get up far too early every morning and need someone to whom they can vent all of life’s frustrations.* Pet bloggers are cool people too!

At least, that’s what I thought after my first, second, and even third viewing of the below commercial. Now that I have come down from the high of temporary credibility, I am realizing this adorable television ad is not what I’d hoped. It turns out, the lyrics aren’t what I thought they were. I hate when that happens. Sometimes actually paying attention to the real words being said is such a bummer.

Before I say any more, I’ll give you a chance to understand what I am talking about.

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Cute, right? I mean, she has a dog blog and everything! This is my life! I can relate!

Except for the fact that I can’t. Not really. Those bothersome things called “sexism” and “diet industrial complex” and “grammar” make it very hard to enjoy what could have been an endearing little commercial. If this is the world’s idea of a “morning win” I am worried for the future of the world. Frankly, a morning where all I eat for breakfast is a thin cookie is not one for the record books.

To ease some of my pain, I thought it would be fun to come up with my own sunrise song. I haven’t filmed a video – I am too much of a perfectionist for that – but maybe a company will hear my cry and give me the cash to do it right.

It’s worth a shot.

Here is my idea of a morning win:

I had a shower, ran the dog, took some photos for my blog, didn’t get hit on during my commute.

Bought a muffin, scored free coffee, pet a kitten, lamented hockey, impressed the boss with an argument she could not refute.

Deadlines chased, projects aced, dressed with taste, mistakes erased, and I even wrote this song!

What do you think? Sure, my version doesn’t have a fluffy poodle but it is a morning that would make me proud. 

I know, I think far too much about commercials. These things are not meant to be analyzed with half as much effort as I put in. But humour me, will you? What is your idea of a morning win?

*Please note, I describe only myself with this sentence. Most dog bloggers I know have active social lives and are not even slightly strange. In fact, they are so normal, it’s creepy. 

The Source of So Much Fear

Shiva and I make for the most awkward team in history. We must rank up there with any movie starring Michael Cera. I wonder if the combination of over-anxious dog and over-imaginative human is a smart idea. Maybe Shiva and I should never be left to our own devices. It only leads to trouble or utter embarrassment. It looks like I am at a two for two on the mortification scale this weekend.

Do any of you remember this post? If not, I will give a rapid summation: Shiva and I were walking in the ravine, pre-dawn. I couldn’t see very far ahead due to the lack of light. All of a sudden Shiva stopped and refused to move forward, a very weird action on her part. Staring straight ahead she barked several times, seemingly at nothing. Freaking out and thinking it was either a pack of coyotes or a serial killer hiding in the trees, I swung around and booted it out of there as fast as my rubber soled feet could carry me through the snow.

Well, in the light of day we have now uncovered the source of all the commotion, the reason for Shiva’s unaccountable behaviour. I brought her back to the same area and she had the exact same reaction only this time I could see what was causing her so much consternation. The closer we walked to the evil doer, the more tense she became. Until she too realized her mistake. The crazy thing is, she didn’t even look that ashamed.

Can you guess based on the picture below?

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Any thoughts? How about if I make it easier?

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That’s right, Shiva was flipping out over a garbage can. A large garbage can that had been moved closer to the path, but nonetheless, the same metal container containing rubbish Shiva has encountered millions of times before. Garbage cans have apparently been added to her long list of enemies, a list which also includes rocks, garden gnomes, plastic bags, fire hydrants, snowmen, and lake monsters.

So much for the canine instinct. Perhaps I just need to invest in a good headlamp. Sheesh.