My Cat Has Taken Over My Life

I have spent the last several months engaged in an intense battle of wills with my cat, and I am ashamed to report that I’m losing.

My tale starts in February. At my old job, I worked on paid search advertising campaigns for two flower delivery accounts whose busy season was the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. The importance of this holiday and the enhanced scrutiny on our work called for me and the rest of the team to wake up at 5:30 am everyday to get to the office by 7, which then ushered in an entirely separate battle of wills that we were also losing. As one co-worker put it, it’s like Black Friday, but for two straight weeks. My friends who work in advertising can empathize with the situation’s precarity, a word whose definition mentions that “psychological warfare” hangs in the balance, to which I’d say: yeah, that sounds about right.

The only one who came out on top in this arrangement was not a member of my team. It wasn’t the client either. This individual wasn’t even in the workforce, for lack of opposable thumbs and luck in the macroevolutionary rat race. It was my cat.

IMG_20180108_215234

Balerion is a relatively chill pet, or at least he used to be. Named after an ancient dragon in A Song of Ice & Fire, his name is meant to connote fire and blood and a force-of-nature-like ferocity that could never be tamed out of the beast. In reality, my cat gets stuck between the wall and the radiator and runs away at the sight of a plastic bag. He truly takes after me in this regard.

Balerion had been used to his regular feeding arrangement for the past year–6 oz of wet food a day, dispersed in the mornings and evenings, with some dry food at night as a snack. Everything was turned on its head when I had to wake up at 5:30 am vs. 7 am every morning. I am sure his mind was blown (ExpandingBrainMeme.jpg) when he realized that breakfast was not at a fixed point in time. It was something to be negotiated. This has resulted in a prolonged power struggle with no end in sight.

After Valentine’s Day passed, I was back to my regular sleep schedule, but Balerion saw an opportunity and he took it. Suddenly, 7 am wasn’t good enough for him. Neither was 5:30 am. He was now clamoring for food at 3 am every day. “BITCH, I’M HUNGRY,” he was probably saying in those desperate meows. He couldn’t be ignored. If I kept the bedroom door open, Balerion would scratch at the curtains or the bedspread. If I shut the bedroom door, he would claw at the door and rattle the doorknob, which is an even worse experience because it sounds like someone was trying to break in.

IMG_20180410_161446

I have always had a hard time getting to sleep. Part of this can be attributed to bad sleep hygiene, but usually my mind just isn’t done for the night. I am wired, reflecting on the previous day and anticipating the next, running through mental to-do lists, turning over the same damn things over and over again. Should I get a tattoo? What’s the name of that restaurant I went to seven years ago? Do people actually like me or are they just humoring me? Sometimes this process takes hours. It is my way. So, for this lazy, non-rent-paying, uncommunicative bastard to disturb my sleep time and time again, I don’t consider it a mere inconvenience. It is purely and simply an act of warfare.

Sometimes Balerion will get me up at 5 am, after 20 minutes of ignoring and intermittently yelling at him, and lead me not to the kitchen but to the living room. He flops over onto the area rug: Pet me. Give me a chin scratch. Rub my back. Throw the mouse across the room so we can play fetch.

IMG_20171220_093850

Of all the guerilla tactics he has used, this one would have to be the worst. How could I be mad at him? I don’t pay enough attention to him during the day. There’s no one around but me. And I’m sure he gets bored roaming the same 700 square feet while I’m at work 40 hours a week. I can’t judge him for this blatant attention seeking when I engage in it every day too, but in subtler ways, like caring about Twitter followers and performatively thanking the driver when I get off the bus and triple-messaging people before they’ve gotten the chance to respond to the first message. I eat at weird times of the day too. Are we all that different from each other? Aren’t we both just crying for help—two souls careening through life in an uncaring world?

First he disturbs your sleep. Destroys your curtains. Raids your bank account. Then he digs into your psyche and forces you to face your insecurities and undergo radical self-reflection. On your own blogging platform. He doesn’t even know how to read.

There is no winning against this asshole.

I Determined My Worth as a Person, and It is $30

There is an aphorism that I’ve seen circulating on the Internet, usually related to salary negotiation, that goes “Know Your Worth.”

I didn’t know how to take this. What is my worth anyway? How can one tell? Isn’t it all arbitrary and based more on perception than reality?

So, safe in my internet cocoon, I have tried to do just that. I have very scientifically calculated my self-worth based on quantitative inputs like “Am I nice?” and “Do I purchase clothing from overhyped Canadian brands?”, and I have determined my worth to be $30.

Please enjoy and let me know if you also try this exercise. Your answer will determine whether or not we are allowed to speak again in the event of a dystopian takeover.

 

MY BULL-HEADED INSISTENCE THAT FIVE GUYS IS BETTER THAN SHAKE SHACK

Yes, I will grant you that the Shake Shack sources its ingredients locally, that the menu variety is a lot better, and that the cheese fries are indeed good. But c’mon, those crinkle fries, deep under that pound of cheese, are the kind of stuff you get at carnivals and at high school concession stands. The cajun fries at Five Guys are way better. C’mon. You know this.

+$30

 

INABILITY TO USE INSTAGRAM STORIES

If you have an Android phone, then you know what I mean when I say that the Snapchat app is awful. It is laggy and has an interface that’s virtually unusable. Every time I swipe, I almost start a conversation with a random acquaintance.

Enter Instagram. A couple weeks ago, I tried promoting my blog post over the Stories feature. I know a lot more people on Instagram and it’s way more customizable—what’s there to lose?

The answer is: my sense of ownership amongst my peers. I recognize intellectually that Instagram is more intuitive than Snapchat, but I tried so hard to replicate the cute text effects I saw on other people’s Stories (to no success) and I had to look at support forums to figure out how to include a hyperlink in my Story so people could swipe up to read. I still don’t know why that paperclip wasn’t showing up at the time I needed it most.

-$100

 

KNOWLEDGE OF MICROSOFT EXCEL

I have an intermediate-to-advanced grasp of Excel. I know my way around a pivot table, a VLOOKUP, a chart. This is my only transferable skill.

+$70

 

DIDN’T TUCK IN MY SHIRT ONCE

I was and still am a serial rule follower. In 8th grade, I was secretary in our middle school government. This was a largely symbolic title that meant I took notes every meeting, but I took this seriously and tried to uphold the rules and values of my school.

Now, I went to a private school, where we had to wear uniforms everyday. We had a strict dress code, which included keeping your polo shirt tucked into your elastic-waistbanded khakis at all times. A dorky look to be sure, but we were representing capital-G God in all endeavors, and God likes a tucked-in shirt. It’s one of the commandments, I think.

One day, my teacher (also the adviser of the organization) takes me aside at lunch and gives me an infraction for not having my shirt tucked in. She tells me something like, “This is not what a member of the middle school government should be doing. You need to be an example to the other students.”

In repentance for my grievous sin:

-$220

 

BRINGING LUNCH TO WORK

I am that person who’s like, “What’s so hard about eating PB&Js and crackers every day?” In unrelated news, I also don’t have many friends.

+$40

 

I AM NICE

On the plane to Orlando the other day, I got an aisle in the very last row of the plane. By some cosmic fluke, I had the whole row to myself! Me! Little ol’ Taylor!

The people on the other side of the row (D through F) were sandwiched together in normal fashion. The couple at the end looks over at me then asks the flight attendant, “Is it okay if we…spread out?”

I intercept: “They can take my row! I can sit at the aisle seat of their row.”

They accept the offer and thank me a couple times, and I feel like a hero. But then I start to wonder, when had they planned on asking me if it was okay to “spread out”? Did they feel entitled to the extra seats next to me, in the same way that I had felt entitled to them? Now, pretty much everyone won in this situation: The couple got to spread out, I got to spread out, and the woman in the far window seat got to spread out. But at what cost to my ego?

+$60

 

IMPOSTER SYNDROME

Pretty much everyone’s got it, so this confidence level of I can do things, but other people may be better may make me more relatable as a person, but counterpoint: who needs another self-deprecating 20-something in their life? That’s right. No one.

-$50

 

CUTE BLAZER FROM ARITZIA

I should not have bought a $200 piece of cloth at full price while unemployed. I never spend this much money on apparel or really anything. But here we are.

I will say, though, that this blazer is pretty much perfect and what I’ve been seeking for years—black, three-quarter-length sleeves, no lapel, loose fitting but not so much that I’m lost in it, dresses up any outfit.

Here is where I flounder, because I didn’t think through these rules. Is this a net gain, because I have acquired an item worth $200, or a net loss, because I am out $200 like an idiot?

I’m sorry. I need this boost.

+$200

 

Total: $30

Build IKEA Furniture Without Crying: A Step-by-Step Guide

ikea-post

STEP 1: Acquire IKEA furniture. You are the kind of person who will carry a 40 lb box on the bus to avoid paying for an Uber, but even you know that hauling a dresser all the way from Schaumburg by yourself was beyond your physical capacity. Order the MALM dresser online and gladly pay the $30 delivery fee.

STEP 2: Become flummoxed that the dresser comes in two packages. Didn’t you only order one dresser? Were you double charged? Oh wait, the first box is the frame and the second is the drawers. Ha ha.

STEP 3: Diligently count all the little pieces, but not so diligently that you notice there is one screw missing and that it will come to haunt you.

STEP 4: Sentence your pet to kitty cat jail (the bathroom) because he’s viciously biting through the cardboard boxes and it has started to make you feel uncomfortable about what he’d do if you died and your corpse were to rot alone in this unventilated apartment. Shudder.

IMG_20180410_152638

STEP 5: Assemble all the drawers first, but since you don’t understand one of the tools illustrated and this Swedish instructional manual offers nothing in the way of explanation, you leave them sprawled across the apartment, with one step left for completion.

STEP 6: Take a break to eat the remainder of the Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies in your pantry (because you have no taste) and snap your progress with static pictures and overly long captions (because you never really figured out Snapchat and just use it like Twitter).

IMG_20180410_153406

STEP 7: Start assembling the frame. Realize that you are missing a screw and proceed to scour the apartment. Stare at your pet and wonder if he has hidden the missing piece as a sort of karmic comeuppance for locking him in the bathroom.

STEP 8: Forget this screw. You never cared about it anyway.

STEP 9: Understand why the instructions advise you to do this with a buddy when you try fitting two heavy, three-dimensional pieces together with only wooden dowels. Try not to tump over, stub your toe, or rupture something.

IMG_20180410_184427

STEP 10: Listen to faves from middle school like Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, and Boys Like Girls, and briefly wish you were back in that time when you weren’t expected to put together furniture by yourself. Take it back because, ew, middle school sucked. You’re not sure that anyone was really having any fun in middle school.

STEP 11: Try and fail to remove a warning sticker on the bottom of a drawer. Douse it in rubbing alcohol, because hey that’s what you’re supposed to do with adhesives, right? Regret this decision as the alcohol proceeds to dissolve the label, dooming your fingernails to scraping it off for the next half-hour.

STEP 12: Realize that you have put the bottoms of the drawers in upside down, meaning you have to redo all of your efforts. Boo!

STEP 13: Hammer 20+ nails into the cardboard backing of the dresser, disturbing you, your cat, your upstairs neighbor, and his cat too.

IMG_20180412_165715

STEP 14: Stand the dresser upright and put all of the slightly unfinished drawers into the frame. Good enough, right?

STEP 15: Marvel at your handiwork. Bask in the moment. Take a swig of ginger ale, the only carbonated beverage you drink now apparently. You deserve it, champ.