March 11, 2003
Why oh why do I keep doing this to myself?? It's only 12:30 but I slept for only 2 hours last night and I feel like the proverbial sack o'shit. WHAT IS WITH THIS FUCKING INSOMNIA????
I've tried all the customary remedies - warm milk, soothing music, aromatherapy, narcotics, herbal sleep aids: nothing works. And tonight, even my own standby - reading -- has failed me and I've become unwittingly engrossed in Summa Contra Gentiles by Saint Thomas Aquinas, a tome I keep around when I need a laugh.
This is obviously a situation that can't be permitted to continue and I'm at my wits' end. I've even done the sleep lab thing, a surreal experience that has little to recommend it.
Why anyone would believe that gluing wires to the head, taping instruments across the face and encircling the chest and torso with what appeared to be a spare seat belt would be conducive to sleep is beyond me. Although I really tried to get into the spirit of things, the idea of being watched by geeks in lab coats while I slept was a pretty creepy thought that did little to lull me. Equally lacking in soporific effect were the instructions to "just relax and pretend you're at home". (A brief image of Bob flashed through my mind but under the circumstances, it didn't seem polite.)
Against all odds, I slept. For about 15 minutes at a stretch, apparently. "You don't stay in REM sleep for more than a few minutes" said the doctor a few weeks later, as he read the report. "Interesting - I've read studies where this sort of deprivation has been shown to lead to psychotic episodes." Wow: a built in defence to any future murder charges!
The cats aren't helping the sleep thing and in other ways, I fear I've made a rod for my own back. For example: it took me about a week to accomplish, but when he was much smaller, I taught Ivan the Terrible to jump into my arms. He meets me at the bottom of the stairs as soon as I get in, jumps onto my back, settles on my head and expects to be carried up the stairs. He will not let me pass until he's aboard and the fact that I may be laden with groceries or carrying my briefcase doesn't seem to matter. He leaps to about waist length, then scrambles up the rest of the way. Several things about this: the lesson was learned at the height of winter when my down coat provided protection against his claws and he is now the size of a small dog. He is starting to do this first thing in the morning and the ensuing injuries have left me with a glimpse of what I can expect during the summer months. On the bright side, I'm rarely groggy when I awake. I can't afford to be.
He becomes completely unglued if he isn't getting all of my attention - as I type this, he is pulling with all of his might on my earrings. Experience has shown that when this fails, he will reach over with unerring aim and shut the computer down (which he's done 3 times since I started this column). I get no peace - even when I'm in the bathroom, he will push the door open and jump onto my lap. A toilet paper shredder of renown, Ivan also amuses himself by tipping containers of shampoo into the bathtub just so he can watch them drain. He regularly makes off with my toothbrush and is a pen thief of prodigious talent.
Annie is much quieter, but just as smart. It took me about two days to teach her to fetch - I toss a balled up sock down the stairs and she gallops down after it, races back up and drops it at my feet howling for more. While this is adorable, she enjoys it a bit too much. She wakes me several times each night by dropping the sock on my face, biting my nose and howling at me to throw it. Ivan is quite perturbed when his sister gets attention and responds by holding her down and biting her whiskers off or by jumping on my head and chewing on my scalp.
Like many men, Ivan the Terrible is fiercely possessive. My beloved is allergic to cats and I'm certainly the rotten mog knows it. Every time I have overnight company, Ivan parks himself between us, presenting his hind end to the interloper and swishing his plumed tail luxuriously over my beloved's face as he sleeps. He also appears to consider the beloved's toes snack food. When I shoo Ivan off the bed, he sniffs out his rival's T-shirt and rolls on it until it is liberally covered in fur.
Now that the nicer weather is here, the two of them have started shedding with a vengeance. I've never owned long-haired cats before - now I know why. I'm find cat fur on all my clothes, in my toothpaste and scattered in clumps liberally throughout the house. There is no keeping up with it and on more than one occasion, I've seriously considered shaving them.
Oh, and just a word on those automatic "Littermate" boxes - save your money. In the ads, you see a pristine litterbox as the rake gently but efficiently moves through the pan and deposits waste into the plastic container. In reality, the rake becomes encrusted with cat crap and spews litter to the four corners of the room or gets stuck and shuts down. And have you noticed that the film of the Littermate is broadcast without sound? That's because the manufacturers feared (and rightly so) that punters might be put off by a noise that sounds like you live in the flightpath of a major international airport.
All this pales by their combined assault on my senses every morning before dawn, an event that has come to be known as the "5 a.m. Crap Off". As I slumber peacefully, in an attempt to outdo each other, the fleabags hop into the litter box and deposit droppings that smell so foul I can taste them. As I'm snuggled in my bed, the first fog makes its way to my olfactory glands. I roll over and bury my face in the pillows but to no avail - a minute or so later, a cloud of stench permeates the room like an oily mist and I am forced to get up and clean the box. Although they are fed only crunchies, the miasma I'm treated to several times daily leads me to believe that they eat month old carrion when my back is turned.
Anyone with information about constipating cat food may contact me at the address above.
Till next time,