Old cats, new tricks.

I’ve read that cats, like dogs, develop packs but not every cat will be accepted in every pack and the packs aren’t limited to cats but may also include their Human(s) and dogs or other familiar animals. And there is no way to pre-determine which cat will be accepted into a pack. They say that a cat-pack can be as small as a single cat but I don’t think that’s true because every cat I’ve had included me in their pack. And isn’t lone or single the opposite of “pack”? When my Zoo was alive, the pack included everyone in the house: me, Voodoo (my Shep/Rottie), Moe (an enormous orange tabby and very “Special Kitty”), Ranma (my old man), and Taki (a fat tortie). As they aged and grew sick and passed on,  Taki, still “the baby” at 14 years, was left alone.  She didn’t particularly care for Burger, the hyper pit pup, so I adopted another kitty. A small, est 5 year old, female tabby that looked very much like Ranma. She and Taki didn’t mind each other but they never formed a pack. Whereas I have countless pictures of the entire Zoo curled up, dog sleeping on cat sleeping on cat sleeping on dog sleeping on cat, Taki and Bama (the new tabby) didn’t do this. They slept separate.  Even on me, Taki stayed on my lap and Bama on my shoulders or chest. They played but not together. When eating, Bama held off until Taki was finished. Bama even accepted Burger into her pack but Taki was alone save me. I felt bad for her. She went from a large pack who played, slept and socialized together to just me. For three years, this was the norm until my roommate moved out and took Burger with him. Slowly, I noticed little changes in behavior. I saw Bama and Taki share a food dish simultaneously. Then I caught sight of Bama and Taki chasing each other playfully. Yesterday, I noticed Taki and Bama lounging next to each other on the patio. Not curled up together but definitely exhibiting pack behavior. Is it in the absence of the dog, is Bama suddenly lonely and bored enough to include Taki in her pack? I don’t know if this will continue but I’m encouraged by it.

In another note of odd cat behavior, I saw something shocking today. Now, let me explain that Taki is obese to the point that when seeing her for the first time, people often exclaim “What is THAT?” I assure you, as a responsible pet owner, Ive tried different diets and some have worked to a degree but she is still a boat of a cat. She still hunts lizards, squaddling (scuttle-waddle) after them with enough speed to catch a few unsuspecting but today, I saw her RUN. With impressive speed, that bowling ball of a cat raced across the yard and half way up a tree after a squirrel. It has been years since I’ve seen her run and I certainly didn’t think it in her power to haul that fat ass up a tree. Even Bama was surprised and confused, chasing after her. I wish I had video of it. It was inspiring. Like watching a pig sprout wings and take to the air.

Speaking of bowling balls, it’s day 9 post-op and my head feels like a half ton brick (or a Taki-sized cat) teetering on top of a toothpick. I haven’t regained feeling in my fingers yet either but I was warned that that could take a while. Still, the two men I spoke to who had this same surgery both said that they felt “immediately better” afterwards. Why don’t I? Still, I must be getting better because I’m cranky. I wish for the world I could remove this collar from my neck and LOOK UP. I suppose I should just be grateful that I can shower without my head rolling off my shoulders.

On an entirely unrelated note, I’ve watched entirely too much TV during this convalescence. In a matter of days, I plowed through three seasons of Downton Abbey. I enjoy period pieces and appreciate the attention to historical detail here but the plot has gotten ridiculous. I mean, two major characters die horrible, sudden deaths under two separate freakish circumstances on the day their first child is born? And in the same Season? C’mon.

“I’m alive. Hooray.” ~Queens of the Stone Age

Only I, with my special brand of malo suerte, would get ill days before a scheduled surgery so that it would have to be postponed.  But I looked at the bright side: maybe it was G-d’s way of giving me one last beautiful day at the beach. Except that by Saturday, the winds shifted and it was cold and rainy. Still, I danced my ass off all weekend, loathe to admit that the one thing I look forward to in life was about to come to an end for somewhere between 6 weeks and 6 months. Why the wide gap? Because if all goes well, the surgeon will bless me and take the neck brace off at the six week mark. That would be a Wed. In theory, I may be able to dance that veery night, unless I still feel at risk of my head rolling off my shoulders. I deploy to Afghanistan 2 days later and I’d bet my life, I wont be swing dancing while there. Actually, I’d rather not do any betting on my life while I’m there. But it is with some nostalgic irony that I learned to swing dance on my first military tours back in the mid 90’s. It was Operation Southern Watch and we were in tents in the middle of Nowhere Saudi Arabia after the bombing in Dhahran drove us out of the cities. The Red Horse engineers dropped huge sheets of plywood on the sand and hooked up lights and a sound system to a 10k generator and we danced in the desert under the stars.

I know I will eventually dance again but what worries me the most is my voice. I think it got to the point where I was doing too much research on my procedure and learning about every little thing that could potentially go wrong, no matter how remote the possibility. This particular procedure, the surgeon goes through the front of the neck and squashes the vocal chords off to one side in order to get at the discs he needs to replace in the spine.  Yes, my voice will be raspy for a while. Weeks, maybe months but in a handful of cases, people lost their singing voice permanently. My surgeon is supposed to be one of the best in the country. He has performed something close to 20,000 of these procedures. All the same, I am going to tack a note to my hospital gown that asks him to “Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease be extra careful with my vocal chords because if it came down to ever singing again or ever feeling my right hand again, I can live without my right hand”.

And I’m behaving like a woman on the verge of dieting. Tell me I wont be able to eat solid foods for a week post-op and I consume EVERYTHING in my house that doesn’t qualify as soup. Chips, crackers, lettuce, pineapple, olives, ice cream…okay, maybe ice cream falls in the same genus as soup. But I hate to let food go to waste. Comes from growing up po’.

By the way, and I almost hate to mention it and youre probably hoping I wouldn’t, but it took more than a month before I stopped looking at his Facebook page everyday. I suppose it would have been easier but more painflonul to right-click-save his photo. Plus there are fphotos from the wedding but those aren’t back yet. In fact, I was thinking it was taking an awfully long time for those except that it feels like it has been multiple months since “him”. In the meantime, I got to chatting with a friend who moved back to California recently and is in a boat very near to mine. She decided to return to school for her masters and a change in career. I not only need a change in career but location as well. I was looking at Raleigh, NC but having someone I could room with in California while I return to school was looking more and more attractive as we discussed it. She wanted to move to San Diego at the end of the year and I figured I was ready to flip the hourglass on this town and job anyway. I’ve grown into an unhealthy co-dependency here. Plus, I have other friends in San Diego so at the very least, I could take a week off after returning from Afghanistan to go check it out. Of course, the thought occurred to me: How far is San Diego from him? In traffic, just over an hour. But between you and me, he is NOT a consideration in this decision. Until my friend tells me several weeks later that she has, at least temporarily, relocated to Huntington Beach. What are the odds that in a state roughly the size of the African continent that she would move to the exact same city where he lives? My inner witch was itching at this: a sign or a test? It’s too uncanny to be coincidence so I believe it is the latter. As he has made no effort to keep in touch and he is no doubt, planning on showering his current sucker of a girlfriend with romance this Friday to celebrate the love that he is not in, I conclude that I need to stay the hell away from that train wreck of a man. Miss him and wish things were different? Sure. But stay away nonetheless and certainly not get tempted into making a decision based on anything less than what is logically in the best interest of my career.

You’d have better luck getting the moon not to rise.