Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Vet

We have four cats.  This was not by design, but rather by happenstance, for when one has two cats and one has two cats, the math makes four cats.  (They're all fixed so we're not talking multiplication here, and besides like I'd do hard math at this time of the night...sheesh, do you know me at all?)

Mixing the households went well enough at first, but feline relations tanked after a fairly traumatic few days where the humans left the rulers of the territory alone with one another and worse, with that person who keeps showing up and talking to us and ohmygod we will just die and ooh, treats, but wait those are mine, not yours and, and, and.

They're separated now when we're out, and have monitored visits with their jailers, erm, I mean human feeding units, present.  They have reached a tentative level of the Geneva conventions with one another, provided there is no aberrant sniffing going on.   Because goodness knows butt sniffing among felines is tantamount to war.  (You don't believe me?  Until you've cleaned up two unhappy cats covered in urine and blood at 1 a.m., you.just.don't.know.)

The only time they are of one accord is of course when they must face the horror of the veterinarian (okay I spelled that word incorrectly 6 different ways and still had spell check not provide the correct word.  FAIL - spell check's not mine.  I knew it was spelling incorrectly, but at least I knew it wasn't "subterranean".  And don't ask me how badly I spelled it because I won't tell you.  Also don't ask if I had to correct the spelling of subterranean either.)

January is the month of cat vaccinations in our house, which involves at least a day of preparation, and a day of recuperation for the 30 minutes they are out of the house.  And that's just the humanoids.

We start by making sure they're relatively presentable - claws trimmed to lessen any frantic swipes, coats brushed so the 15,000 pounds of hair they will drop in the stress of leaving the house might just be minimized.  Then there's finding all four cat carriers, and figuring out how to arrange the cats in various rooms so they can't hide nor can they figure out what is going on with the other cats.  Some earplugs for us, and we're set.

I won't describe trying to get them all in their carriers, because it exhausts me just thinking about it.  Once in, the yowling that had been mere whimpers punctuated with the occasional hiss now reaches "they're trying to kill me" point of at least 1000 decibels (hence the earplugs).  We bundle them off to the cars for the 10 minute trip through town, where we proceed to yowl back at them the whole way.  I have no idea if it makes them feel any better, but it makes me feel better and that's really the point, right?

The most trauma they experience is to then be in the vet office and have to come out of the dreaded carriers.  The horrifying nasty place is now the BEST PLACE EVER and they all usually have to be dislodged by one of us holding the cat and the other upending the carrier off them.  (It is rather funny though to watch their faces when they realize they've been thwarted by gravity once more.)

Thwart is a great word but it's awkward to type.  So is awkward.

Once they've been given their shots, and are happily back in their little plastic homes, they're much quieter.  We then pay a ridiculous amount of money  - although to be honest, we'd probably pay more if they offered housecalls for this kind of thing...because really (either that or I'm learning to give them shots myself...if they're going to hate me they might as well hate me for the whole enchilada, not just the carrier and vet's).  The ride home is generally pleasant, albeit a little surreal (until I realize the earplugs are still in).  We all come home and pass out for the balance of the day, exhausted.  

Fortunately the wee beasties are indoor cats and relatively healthy so there's very few trips in general.  The few we do take definitely make up for it in cat drama.   

(In spite of all this, they really are cute little things, when they're not being obnoxious.  They get it from Mr. Eggshells I'm sure.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

...and then Reality went and hit me upside the head...

A few years ago there was a commercial for Staples that ran during the November-December holiday season.  (If you're not familiar with it and want to see it, I'm sure it's out on the interwebs somewhere...but it's not important to this, because I'm a writer and can paint word pictures for you.  ;)  )  

The commercial itself was okay, but there was one part that made me laugh hysterically like a three year old discovering their uncanny ability to make adults do their bidding with repeated funny faces and/or pratfalls.   It's a relatively peaceful scene of a person puttering in the snow outside the house and a GPS device flings out of the sky and hits him on the head, causing him to fall down.  No, I'm not advocating laughing at violence or pain (at least not that I'm admitting out loud), but right at the point it hits, there comes a voice from the GPS saying "You have reached your destination."

Kills me.  Dead.  Every dang time.   Even sitting here recounting it, I'm laughing.   (Shut UP, I do *so* have a sophisticated sense of humor!)

The point of bringing this commercial to bear is that sometimes life hits us with a-ha moments where everything just clicks into place.  For me, many of these occur when I'm struggling with writing something, typically having to do with plot adjustments.  Of course, this is where I let the Muse* and my subconscious deal with it, and as a result, most of my a-ha moments come at the same time as the phrase "Ohgodisitmorningalreadyandwhereisthedamnsnoozebuttonanyway" is mumbled from under the duvet.  

*(tangent):  I've been wondering if I should name the Muse.  It seems rude to just be using a title when we work so closely together.  Plus, when I'm angry with her, it would probably make me feel better to yell right at her.  She probably needs a middle name too for that matter...
(end tangent)

I had another one of those epiphanal moments recently, but it didn't make me burst into joyous song and dance (like all the other ones do).  In fact it was more along the lines of "Oh crap, really?"  And after a few days of meditative contemplation, I'm ready to share.  

Somehow, without my actually being aware of it, I became a Cougar.  No, not a cougar like a wild animal - although some mornings my hair does look like I've been tearing around a jungle all night, but that's beside the point.  A Cougar, like a middle-aged woman on the prowl.

I know, right?  I don't know how that happened either.

Wait, what are YOU talking about?!?

I'm talking about the middle-aged.  (Let's face it, every woman has the potential to be a Cougar.  haha)  I'm not sure how it happened, but it sure did happen in the blink of an eye.  One minute I'm watching this music video and thinking the lead singer is really cute, and the next I'm realizing that I'm old enough to be his mother.


Then it was everywhere.  Pictures of film stars, the realization that actors and singers from my teens had grown children.

Of course, I did have to check and see if a married woman could actually be called a Cougar, and I was assured most intensely by a couple of people on Facebook that it was definitely a label that could be placed on a married woman.


However in the big scheme of things, I think Cougar is a better title than old cow, so I'll take it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

GladRags Giveaway

Okay another girly subject, but an important one (so boys, not sure if I can exempt you from this, but mercifully for you, it's short.  ;)  ).  

GladRags has fantastic eco-friendly and sustainable products, are based in my local area but ship worldwide, and promote health and education with regard to women's menstrual cycles.  They even have been working to bring sustainable solutions to African women (I can't imagine having to stay in the house during "that time of the month" simply due to lack of hygiene products!).

Even better, they're doing a giveaway!  Enter to win!


GladRags ROCKS!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Dread Pirate Politics

I should start this post on politics by stating unequivocally that I dislike discussing politics.  However, as I prepare myself for the first U.S. Federal election in which I can vote, I find myself taking in more and more information and learning how to process it.  

The thing I notice most about politics in general, regardless of region or country, is that there seems to be a lot of talking and not a lot of listening.  Whether that be between party members, between elected officials and constituents, or various factions on opposing sides of whatever corridor of whatever building they happen to be in.  Maybe it's my Technical Writer bias, but clarity in communications is a passion for me.  (Despite the fact that sometimes I'm speaking my own made-up language.)

Having been raised in a multi-party system in a Commonwealth country, it's an understatement to say that politics here in the U.S. seem very different.   (Just call me Alice and hand me the blue bill...wheeee!)

Since I'm paying more attention, I'm increasingly amazed at the level of chaff and rhetoric there is to wade through.  Not that it's any different in Canada, but having grown up around it, and having the history behind the parties and candidates, it was less a monumental task to figure out who was saying what and what they really meant by it.  After a handful of years living here, I'm only just starting to get a handle on the parties, the people, how the infrastructure works to make things happen (or not, as the case may be).

Which brings me to the most shocking thing I've discovered about U.S. politics.  The low percentage of voter turnout.

It does make the monumental emphasis placed on the right to vote in all my Naturalization application documents and interviews a whole lot more understandable, though.  Seriously, everywhere I turned, there was another reminder of my right and privilege to vote.  Considering how very odd it felt to not be allowed to vote for my elected officials, not voting now that I have the legal right to do so is unthinkable.  Not to mention unconscionable.

*small segue here:  Can you tell I've been reading 19th Century English literature again?  Who uses the word unconscionable these days anyway?  Well besides me, just now...  :D*

I would have thought from the level of self-described "patriotism" I see, combined with the jingoism, and the general tendency of an "us versus them" mentality around politics, that it meant everyone afforded themselves their civic/national duty and took part in the process.  It doesn't.  Even more terrifying are the people that repeat the soundbites from the talking heads (amusingly, I only learned last year what talking heads were too...).

Which is not to say that everyone is as the stereotypical political blockhead depicted in the mainstream media - far from it (again, here it took me awhile to figure out the stereotype in the mix).  Truly, the more I get over my anathema of discussing this subject, the more people I realize have a balanced approach to their candidate selection.  Even if I don't agree with their choices (since we know it's all about me!), at least I see how they came to that decision and can understand that there was a thought process involved in getting there.  

I think that's what I've learned the most being here.  That it's not that the politics is so different (although there is a sad lack of either a French Separatist or Legalize Marijuana party here versus my "home and native land"), but that with 10x the population and only two real parties, the volume or "noise" of politics is much louder.

It's going to be an interesting year, methinks. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Eyes that Shoot Laserbeams!

A couple of years back Mr. Eggshells was the very happy recipient of laser eye surgery to correct very warped eyes (but, hey, they went with the rest of him).  Unfortunately it left him with a disability that lingers to this day, causing untold pain and distress.

To me.

Because he keeps insisting that his laser eye surgery also gave him the ability to shoot laser beams from his eyes.  Now, every time he wants me to be quiet (which is hardly ever, because I am all sweetness, light, and melodious tones), he stares at me bug-eyed like he's trying to incinerate me.  Not only do I not disintegrate or burst into flames, but also I have to explain [again] that he did not have lasers implanted.

But this is not really what I wanted to talk about on this blog.  I wanted to take us all back 10 years to my own experience with laser eye surgery.

I had been a late bloomer when it came to failing eyesight, having managed to make it to 15 before the chalkboards in my various classrooms seemed all of a sudden to be too far away.

Now remember this was the 80's (and stop doing that math, I can hear you calculating!),  a time when fashion and style could be summed up in one word.


The glasses I had for many years were HUGE.  My prescription wasn't that strong, but because the styles were all mondo-ginormous shoulder pads and hair out to the moon, glasses were all fascinatingly owlish.

Of course, this was also the timeframe of powder blue eyeshadow, so at least I could make my brown eyes blue.  Or rather, I could make them stand out.

By the time I was 32, glasses had been relegated to the morning-after-the-night-before (also known as, oh my GOD I cannot bear to put contact lenses in today or I WILL DIE).  I'd managed to get them down to size, but I hated wearing them, and the contact lenses.  The solution was laser surgery, but I have a thing about eyes.  (Actually I have a "thing" about a lot of things but I'm trying to spare you the full onslaught of my neuroses...we're still in the honeymoon phase after all.)  

There was a clinic in my hometown and the Doctor there was pioneering the "no touch" form, where it's all done with lasers and no scalpel ever touches the eye itself.   My company got a discount and they could book me an appointment the day after I had my consult.  I was an excellent candidate.

To those of you who have never had laser eye surgery, I have two things to say.  1) It is one of the best decisions I have ever made and 2) the pain is excruciating.  I understand the no-touch type is more painful than the Lasik, but since I only did the one can't really compare.

**Note, it's going to get graphic here for a paragraph or so.  Read on if you can't bear it.**

No-touch surgery is essentially where they prop your eyelids open, give a local freezing agent, and lase your cornea (the thick part of the outside of the eye) down.  This smells somewhat like when you get your teeth drilled.  They then zap the lens with a precision laser to adjust the eye issues.  Then the corneas grow back after a few days and voila.  You're done.

**Okay safe to return.**

I was told I was fortunate because my corneas started off very thick...and by the time they were reduced in size they were still thicker than what most people started with.  My surgery had been on a Thursday and then the aftercare was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

I remember coming out of the surgery and thinking it was so amazing that I could see everything.  After that it's basically a Valium blur; since the corneas do most of the re-growth in the first 24 hours, the best bet is to knock yourself out and sleep it off.

Somewhere between Friday and Saturday I remember having a numerous-hour phone conversation with a guy from work.  I couldn't tell you what we discussed, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't making much sense.

Saturday was the 'bandaid contact lens' day, where they change the contact lenses from the first day.  Let me tell you, having someone change your contact lenses is just creepy.  The fact that I went through all this is a testament to how much I wanted to be rid of glasses/contact lenses.  It was around this time that I also got pretty annoyed that they'd only given me enough Valium for one day.  Because the pain was pretty good by that point and I would have liked to just keep sleeping.  It was something like having an entire beach of sand in both eyes, but you didn't dare touch them at all.  At all.

Then it was Sunday, the last appointment day.  My girlfriend who had been shuttling me back and forth to the appointments came to pick me up and since it was a Sunday and her husband could stay home with the kids, we decided to go out for breakfast.  Around the corner from the local pub I used to frequent in my younger days, there was a waterfront hotel that served a lovely brunch and we decided that was as good a place as any.

We left the clinic and the world was way too bright.  The headache that had plagued me for days exploded my face and head into a thousand pieces.  But since we never got to have breakfast out, I was determined to persevere.

Every minute that progressed, my eyes got drier and drier.  In the space of time from arrival through ordering, I must've excused myself at least 10 times to go to the ladies' room to saline my eyes.  The headache raging, my nose running, eyeballs screaming, I just wanted to make it through eating and then go home and die in a sniveling ball of pain.  (Have I mentioned I'm a rock star when it comes to illness?  Dude.)

It was on one of the occasions when I returned to the table, that I found my friend laughing.  I asked her what was up and she replied that while I hadn't seemed to notice, I had been garnering quite a lot of attention in the restaurant.  Servers, patrons, people walking by on the boardwalk.  My friend, noticing and realizing what they were thinking, made sure to explain to our waiter that I wasn't hungover, just recovering from eye surgery.  Apparently the wait staff had been comparing notes and I was the most "hungover' person they'd ever had in the place on a Sunday-morning-after-the-night-before.

At that point the waiter arrived back and very sympathetically re-positioned my water glass, gently touched my shoulder and told me where I could find it as if I were blind or completely bandaged.  I just didn't have the heart to explain.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Car Conversations...except not in the car

In retrospect, starting a theme of "car conversations" is a bit like making a pie with only one cherry.  Since the conversations that amuse, entertain, and befuddle me (or as the Regency writers would put it "vex me greatly") are not limited to the confines of the car.  They can happen anywhere, and anytime, mostly when I least expect it.

Take, for example, last night.  Having managed to get to bed at a relatively decent hour for a work night, Mr. Eggshells and I then found ourselves in a dialogue of epic proportions.  (The term "epic" is also used ironically, but not like a black fly or anything.  The real ironically.)

Mr. Eggshells (after a particularly weird comment that I can't remember because it was so weird I had to block it out or suffer a nervous breakdown.  And don't call me a wuss for that because you just don't KNOW.):  Brain, stop that or I'll stab you with a crayon.

Me:  Oh!  Make it burnt sienna!

M.E. (ha! get it?  but it's not me, it's Mr. Eggshells): Burnt sienna is for amateurs.  Blue is the color.

Me: What the hell?  Burnt sienna is not for amateurs, it has layers 'n stuff.  Plus you can use it for coloring the chocolate chips in cookies.

M.E.: Burnt sienna?  What happened to, um, I don't know, BROWN?

Me: Well then burnt sienna is for the cookie part.  I don't know it's been years since I drew them.  But either way it's better than blue.

M.E.: (blah blah blah some argument for blue)

Me: *starts to comment but stops* I just realized that we're now having a full-on debate about which color crayon you'll be stabbing your brain with.  We're so not doing this.

M.E.: *can't speak for laughing*

I don't remember much else of the conversation, but at one point before falling asleep I made the point that I was strengthier.  Because that's apparently so much easier to say than stronger.  

I think he won this round.  Dammit.

ETA:  Mr. Eggshells, upon reading this, reminded me what it was that he said that I blocked out.  It was that he was hungry and wanted fish sticks (at 10:15 pm).  Pity me.