Tag Archives: Cats

The Licki Brush

I received a delightful Christmas gift from a friend at work. It was a Licki Brush. What is a Licki Brush? It is, quite obviously, a tongue-shaped brush you put in your mouth so you can “lick” your cats. Duh.

Much to the horror of my friends and family, I was tickled to death by this unexpected little treat. Social grooming is everything in the cat world – the ultimate sign of acceptance. To finally bridge the gap from Poop-Sifter to Contributing Clowder Member would be the breakthrough of a lifetime.

I was, of course, a tad nervous about what this brush might symbolize. I mean, the signs were all there: not only did I receive a Licki Brush for Christmas, I also received a Snuggie, a Slanket and a new set of loungewear. My family is basically cajoling me into a life of solitude. Yeah, it’s all bubble baths and Kenny G mixtapes for now. But before you know it, I’ll be holed up for good. Trapped in a nest of my own making, living on garbanzo beans, boxed wine and tuna.

slanket

The Slanket: my go-to for fancy times.

snuggie

The Snuggie: my choice for holidays, work and Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.

But that’s weeks from now. And not at all what I’d planned to write about.

No. Today, I review the Licki Brush.

As mentioned above, the Licki Brush is a tool for humans to groom their cats in true cat fashion. Like an As Seen on TV product, it masterfully treads the line between self-aware and utterly ridiculous. It is absurd and yet it makes sense. It is the answer for people, like me, who often wonder, “How can I be sure the Clark line stops with me?” Or, “How does one even begin to commit to a life of abstinence?”

The packaging is a light, bright sky blue. It’s clean and simple and thus not at all indicative of the experience of actually licking a cat (though I suspect this was intentional).

le-brush

The brush itself is quite large – much larger than you’d expect. By my measurements, it is about twice the size of Joan’s little pea head. (Editor’s note: If you, too, have a cat with an abnormally small face, I suggest you wield the brush carefully.)

If I were making a list of pros and cons, I would first note that the brush is surprisingly satisfying to chew on. It’s like a big rubber block. A Kong for humans, if you will. On the downside, I found it difficult to juggle both chewing and drinking, and so I struggled to reach my ideal wine intake. And that I would not stand for.

Does it work? Does it really help you bond with your cats? Honestly, it’s too soon to tell. Joan and James had very different reactions to it. James made a run for it the moment I turned to face him. This did not surprise me, for he is my gentle giant. My Ferdinand.

Joan was a bit more interested. She inched closer, gave the brush a few good sniffs. I took this as a good sign, so I leaned in to groom her. At which point she countered with this:

bet

I’ve yet to test my luck again.

Things I tell myself

Things I tell myself when I’ve had a drink:

I’m going to pick up the piano. You know, get a keyboard and some sheet music on Amazon Prime. Start cranking out some classic jams – Bach, Beethoven, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the usual suspects. It’d be my signature party trick. Something I’d whip out unexpectedly to surprise my friends and woo nearby men with my digital dexterity.

I got very serious about this new musical venture. So serious that I went over to my parents’ house to practice on their piano. But when I sat down to play, I realized that despite seven years of choir and a brief affair with the trumpet, I still had NO idea how to read music. And the thought of learning was – and clearly always has been – just too much to bear.

I’m going to get some miniature life vests and teach my cats how to swim in the bathtub. This was a particularly passionate pipe dream of mine; it burned bright, but it burned fast. In the end, it was a traumatic flea bath that squashed my plans. Joan was so scared of the water that I had to strap on my old swim team one-piece and spray-tan swim-cap and hop in with her. It was – quite literally – a bloodbath.

Bathtime with Wolverine.

Bathtime with Wolverine.

I’m going to become a sommelier on the side. I’ve always had a great sense of smell. A unique ability to detect and describe even the faintest of scents. I think it’s an inherent survival trait of being asthmatic. I mean, think about it: the ability to identify an airborne threat is absolutely grounds for a right-swipe from the big D. (D being Darwin, mom.) If my ancestors were being picked off for wheezing, they had to develop at least one redeeming quality.

Anyways, as taste and smell are so closely related, I figured I’d be a shoe-in for sommelier school. So I ran the idea past my dad and sister. My dad was pretty supportive. Not a huge surprise, since our favorite bonding activities include blind bourbon taste tests. He did, however, tell me to back off the hot foods. One burnt tongue and I’d be out of business, he said. My sister was the voice of reason. “Jo. That shit costs like thousands of dollars. And it takes years of studying and practice. You can’t just become a sommelier as a hobby.”

And that was that.

I’m going to redownload Tinder. I have a love-hate relationship with Tinder. I hate it most of the time. Until I get a match. Which, for about five minutes, makes me feel DAMN self-important. But the feeling quickly wears off (see image below as to why). And when it does, I’m reminded of just how shallow the whole exercise is.

My profile said I loved cats. He thought I meant the Wildcats. Rookie mistake, bro. Also, ew.

My profile said I loved cats. He thought I meant the Wildcats. Rookie mistake, my man. Also, ew.

Every time I redownload the app, I ask myself, “Why am I even doing this? Why do I keep doing this? Why are all these men holding children? Why would they think I’d be into that? What’s the swipe etiquette for friends? Friends-of-friends? God I hope none of these matches actually message me.”

And finally, when I’ve once again reached my Tindering limit, “I’m just going to find a man the old-fashioned way. Go to a bar, down some liquid courage, hit on some non-threatening randos and hope something sticks.”

I’m going to write a blog post about things I tell myself when I’ve had a drink. The end.

The Great Escape

A few days after I published my Mother of Cats post, I found myself (quite ironically) missing a cat. Joan stepped out on me. I suspect it was in protest to my public acknowledgment of another feline, though I can’t be sure. She’s a fickle creature, my Joan.

People have suggested I write a post from her point of view. Where she went, things she saw, raccoons she met. But I can’t bring myself to do it. I feel like the father of a teenage daughter. It all goes by so fast. One day, she’s reading Animorphs to her pet rats. The next, she’s wearing velour pantsuits and dating a boy with an Astro Van. Much like my dad must have felt during this time, I don’t want to know the intimate details of Joan’s escapades. All I want to know is that she made it home relatively unscathed.

So instead of giving Joan’s account of The Incident, I’ll give my own.

Re: slithering.

Re: slithering.

It happened when some men came to install a new AC/heating unit in my apartment. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay home to supervise them, though they assured me it wouldn’t be a problem.

The day before they came, I called to give them the rundown: two indoor cats, both of whom would perish in the wild (I’ve raised them on a strict grain-free organic diet. The fault lies with me). Keep all doors closed, and leave the baby-gate up in the hallway in case Joan manages to slither past the first round of blockades.

 

The next morning, I called them to go over Joan’s security detail one last time. I then taped a huge reminder note on my door and left for the day.

The note

Fast forward to 7 p.m., when I came home to find another note taped beneath my own.

The response

They left this note at 10:30 a.m. and made no attempt to call me, even though they knew I’d be at work until later that evening.

I ran into the first floor apartment. She wasn’t there.

Cue my complete and utter mind loss. Tears, screaming, sweating, the works. To make matters worse, I had a date that night. And he arrived not five minutes into my tantrum (to his credit, he stayed to help me look).

After an extensive sweeping of the grounds, I determined that Joan was nowhere to be found. Thus, I opened my first-ever missing persons investigation. First order of business: assemble the witnesses and begin the interrogation.

I called the owner of the AC company and did my best to crack him. When did you last see her? Where did you last see her? Did you actually see her run into the first floor apartment or are you just assuming that’s where she is? Have you always hated animals or do you also kidnap children?

I should note that at this point in time, I was days deep into a Serial binge, which meant I thought myself something of an investigative reporter. It also meant that everything he said sounded suspicious, inconsistent. So by the end of our conversation, I’d convinced myself that he’d orchestrated the whole thing just to cover for an employee, who’d stolen Joan for himself. (It’s a valid concern. She has a beautiful coat.)

The guys at work made this awesome yard sign for me.

The guys at work made this awesome yard sign for me. Unexpected bonus: she’s now a potential gubernatorial candidate.

Four days I looked for her. Night after night, I crawled around the neighborhood, rummaging through people’s backyards, gardens and tool sheds. I contracted such an assortment of bug bites I was certain they would kill me, if grief didn’t do me in first.

And then one dark and rainy night, she returned. Just like that. She just showed up at my door, crying and howling, though it was soon impossible to tell where her yowling ended and mine began. It was a miracle.

To this day, we haven’t discussed her whereabouts. The things she saw, the tool sheds she pooped in…nothing. Not a word. I’m confident that she’ll tell me when she’s ready. But until then, I’m just glad to have her home.

 

Three friends. And a forehead vein.

Three friends and a forehead vein.

Reunited at last.

“Give us a moment, will ya?”

Lovahs

Reunited at last.

 

Mother of Cats

A few weeks ago, I made a very important decision that will undoubtedly change the course of my life. I adopted another cat.

My Crazy Cat Lady Halloween costume a few years ago. The front of my sweater is dedicated to cats currently living, the back to those who have sadly passed on. For the record, I do not smoke (asthma), thus this cig is unlit.

And so it begins.

When I made the news public (after a private meet-and-greet with family and close friends) the first question I got from nearly EVERY PERSON I told was:

“So how many does this make?”

Oddly enough, this is the same question I faced upon adopting my first cat, Joan. It really makes me wonder what people think of my home life. I imagine they picture my apartment to be a wasteland of shag carpet and empty tuna cans. Perhaps it’s filled with Precious Moment figurines, or a series of portraits honoring cats that have since passed on. But I’m just spitballing here.

James. A cat without a care in the world.

James. A cat without a care in the world.

Anyways, the purpose of this post is to introduce the world to James, my new son and heir. Now, I understand what this looks like. “Two cats?!,” you might say. “What’s to stop her from getting a third? A forth? A fortieth?!”

Though you’re right about the slippery slopeidness of my situation, the truth is that I adopted James as a gift to please m’Lady Joan. You see, I did not want to make room in my heart for another critter. Joan is my sun and stars. The Albuterol to my asthma. The Eucerin to my eczema. But Joan is also a very high maintenance being — thanks in part to my helicopter parenting and incessant pampering — and thus I felt she needed someone to keep her company in my absence. Someone who could withstand her rough-and-tumble play, but who would also readily adopt the role of her humble servant.

But even though I was offering James to Joan in good faith, I knew it wouldn’t be a smooth transition. Joan has grown accustomed to my unhealthily undivided attention, and James would prove a disturbance in the force.

Exhibit A.

Unhealthy attention exhibit A

Exhibit B.

Unhealthy attention exhibit B.

So to avoid the full force of Joan’s wrath (which typically ends in strategically placed dingle berries), I decided that the safest POA would be to facilitate a gradual introduction. For the first few days, I’d keep James in one room and Joan in the other. That way, they could safely get to know each other via under-the-door sniffing — a practice often employed by the parochial school system in high puberty years.

What is this plebeian doing to my castle??

“What has this plebeian done to my castle?!”

That plan, however, failed the moment I brought James into the house. Why? Because I forgot to account for the fact that my entire apartment is actually one giant room. Separation is impossible. Thus, I had to resort to Plan B: Throw them together and intervene only when bloodshed appeared imminent.

Needless to say, it was a rough first few days. Joan was clearly disappointed in me, and I’d be lying if I said she didn’t make me cry a few times. But as time passed, their hatred subsided. Now, instead of stalking and striking poor little James, Joan pins him down and gives him regular full body lickings. I take this to mean that things are looking up.

Where we started. James pictured center, Joan pictured atop the window for fear of her life.

Where we started. James on the bed, Joan fearing contamination.

Where we are now. Joan pictured big spoon, James pictured little.

Where we are now. Joan pictured big spoon, James pictured little.

Friday Night Bubbles

This winter, I started a bit of an embarrassing Friday night habit. To be totally honest, I only call it “embarrassing” to save whatever bit of coolness I have left in this world because, in reality, I kind of love it.

Bourbon and BubblesAfter a few brutal weeks at work, I started thinking about how nice it would be to throw myself an ultimate relaxation party, a night to pamper myself like the Bravo! Housewives I know and love (knew* and loved*, really, as I can no longer afford a lavish life of cable). I decided that a bubble bath made the most sense, particularly as my apartment didn’t seem to be getting any sort of heat at the time (or ever, for that matter).

But I didn’t want this to be just any kind of bubble bath. No, it needed to be something special. Something fancy. And perhaps most importantly, something that would look good on Instagram.

So I splurged on organic bubbles, face masks, hair masks, candles, single barrel bourbon and a closet full of cleaning materials to properly prepare the tub. Had Kroger sold kitty life-jackets or swimming trunks, I would have certainly added them to my cart. Only the best for m’Lady Joan.

IMG_1641The day of my inaugural bath, I went to yoga (again, keeping up with the whole Real Housewives theme) and came home ready to soak like a true elitist. I scrubbed the tub until it fit my personal health code, and filled it to the brim with hot water and nearly a 2-liter of bubble bath solution. I poured myself a stout glass of bourbon, slapped on my face and hair masks, lit the candles and – for perhaps the worst and most embarrassing part of my tale – switched on the Enya Pandora station (which, for the record, is basically a Lord of the Rings playlist. And that’s more than fine by me).

Deliverer of said tooth marks.

Deliverer of said tooth marks.

As I slunk into the tub, I felt any remaining shred of street cred slip from my bones, like I’d just performed my own baptism into the lonely Church of Catladydom. I sipped my bourbon – gripping it carefully with my dry, winter witch hands – as the water gently stung the tooth marks on my wrists and shoulders. It was at that moment that I knew – I’d never be cool again.

– End Scene –

Waiting for inspiration

Blogging used to come easy to me. Looking back, it seems like every day, I was struck with something that I just had to write about. Something that I couldn’t wait to jot down and roll with. I had such a constant stream of thoughts, ideas and blasphemous remarks from my dad that, for a time, I considered hooking a tape recorder to my belt. I still get a little excited at the thought of it, particularly because it would allow me to start using the phrase “Captain’s Log” in earnest (a Battlestar Galactica pipe dream, I suppose).

But in all seriousness, those are the days that haunt me every time I sit down to write another blog post. What if I’m a burned out blogger? A poser? What if I’ve peaked? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, just look at my athletic career. Or my modeling career.

Here I am modeling the Dark Lord's spring collection, "He Who Must Not Be Drab." My career plummeted shortly after this photo surfaced.

Here I am modeling the Dark Lord’s spring collection, “He Who Must Not Be Drab.” My career plummeted shortly after this photo was released.

I’m sometimes so afraid that I’ll never come up with a “big idea” or a good story that I stop myself before I can even get started.

So here’s my attempt to change that. Which means I’m going to stop waiting for inspiration to strike and just write. I’m going to journal like the moody, LTD2-coveting child I once was and give a mere update on my life as of late. Brace yourselves, it’s riveting.

1. I’ve studied up on animal behavior. My exact Google search was: “How to tell my cat I love her.” I’m a firm believer in open communication – it can make or break a relationship. That said, I want to establish an ongoing dialogue with Joan, something that helps us communicate our immediate feelings or frustrations and navigate any future issues that may arise, like the introduction of a new father figure.

As you can see, she’s already very communicative. Particularly when it comes to feelings of disdain and superiority.

As you can see, she’s already very communicative. Particularly when it comes to emoting disdain and/or superiority.

Now, I’ve always been wary of verbally communicating with cats (you never know if you might be saying something disrespectful), so I’ve focused on deciphering body behavior and subtle social cues. My studies are far from finished, but I hope to draft myself a Doctorate Degree sometime in the near future.

2. Equally damning to my love life, I threw a birthday party for the above-mentioned cat. But from what I understand, my parents have already spent a significant amount of time renegotiating my dowry, so I’ll skimp on the incriminating details. Message me if you’re interested. And in the meantime, here’s a video of Joan’s fetching skills which, I must say, I’m incredibly proud of:

3. I’ve tried to hit on people for the first time in years. In college, my friends used to call me creepy. I denied it, of course. Quite vehemently. The way I saw it, I was proactive. Aggressively, disconcertingly proactive. But the day one of my pursuits addressed me via text message as “Hey creepy,” I decided it was time to throw in the towel and embrace the tactless romantic I was born to be.

Needless to say, my “game” has always been a little rough around the edges. And having been out of the game for a while, it’s safe to say it’s gotten worse. Just the other weekend, I hit on someone by broaching the scintillating topic of Meth Mouth. I asked someone out via LinkedIn (not my fault entirely), hid in the woods from a Tinder match and have since completed a few more cringeworthy actions that, for the time being, I’m unable to disclose. The wounds are too fresh.

So there you have it. My life as of late. A Captain’s Log, if you will. My hope is that this has somewhat alleviated my blogging block, but only time will tell.

 

The Whole “Silver Linings” Thing

I’ve recently discovered that I’m not a fan of the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” Not only is it cringe-worthy in both text and tatt form, it’s perhaps the most unhelpful way of cheering someone up. I’m sure the phrase originated from a place of love and good intention, but after years of abuse and whimsical iterations in wall art, I believe it has been reduced to a semi-PC way of telling someone that shit happens. And that their situation is in fact so shitty, that you honestly can’t think of anything else to say.

To be sure, I’m not knocking anyone who believes everything happens for a reason. Who am I to judge someone or something when I can’t see the bigger picture or what lies ahead? All I’m saying is that it’s become a blanket consolatory statement that’s used too often for too many kinds of situations, both trivial and life-changing. I know this because I have been both the deliverer and receiver of this message many, many times.

And yet, to further contradict myself, I must say that there is some truth to the general idea of the phrase. No, I’m not sold on the fact that every single thing happens for a reason, because there are far too many horrendous, devastating and inexplicable things that happen in this world; insinuating that there’s a specific reason behind every catastrophe and tragedy is both insensitive and impractical. But when you look at the phrase from a different perspective—from more of a doors-closing-windows-opening angle—it starts to look more like the whole “silver linings” idea. And that I can get behind.

I started to realize this a few years ago when I was mercilessly rejected from every single job I applied for. Looking back, I now see that emailing a Chicago ad agency a PowerPoint file for my “creative portfolio” was a bit of a stretch, but it felt appropriate at the time. For what it’s worth, I even included a disclaimer that read something like:

“No, I don’t have the tools or Adobe products I need right now, but give me a job or a Mac Lab and I’ll do these print ads again…but better.”

But other than that particular instance, I couldn’t understand why each and every company would reject me. I mean, wasn’t I a catch? My pet-sitting clients seemed to think so. As did my mom. What better references could you ask for?

All-time low: Posing at a Battlestar Galactica exhibit. And the answer to your question is yes, I am still available for spaceship modeling. Message me for details.

Attending a Battlestar Galactica exhibit in Seattle was perhaps one of my nerdier moments in life. Here I am, modeling a bonafide Colonial Viper.

I fell into a pretty dark hole for a while, one that consisted of Battlestar Galactica, a brief stint in the power-washing business, and many nights spent coercing my first love, Buster, to name me his favorite family member. At my lowest point, I began stuffing cat nip in my pillow to trick him into sleeping with me. I started house sitting more frequently and—in between useless job applications—poured myself into becoming one of Greater Louisville’s most prestigious pet-sitters. For a time, I considered taking it up professionally; I have an unusual connection with animals, and I am incredibly comfortable using other people’s expensive kitchen appliances and entertainment systems. Sure, it wouldn’t be the most lucrative career, but in the off seasons, I could pick up a side gig as a dog-walker. College tuition well-spent, indeed.

Buster and his catnip pillow.

Buster and his catnip pillow (in my former bedroom/parents’ home office).

But as you might have guessed, tending to other people’s critters only fulfilled me for so long, and so I decided it was time to do something different. I decided to start documenting my post-grad progress (or lack thereof) so that rising college graduates would be better prepared for what was to come — a commencement speech ripe with ridiculous proverbs, promises and plugs for alumni donations, followed by a humiliating beating from the job market and a bed in your parents’ office. I wrote about moving back in with my mom and dad (and their bearded dragon, cat, rat, bird and meal worm colony), because I wanted people to stop calling my generation lazy and unmotivated. I wrote about all my crazy (often gruesome) adventures in pet-sitting, my forehead vein and my somewhat unsettling obsession with cats. I wrote about everything, and I came to realize that I loved it. And that I wanted to make a career out of it.

So what I’m trying to say is that being rejected from all those jobs was really, really painful. And scary, to be sure. But it also opened a lot of doors that I didn’t even know existed. It helped me rediscover my love of writing, and it led me to a lot of really amazing people and self-discoveries. I grew closer to my family, I fell in love, I stumbled into an awesome job and I got to be with Buster in his twilight years of life.

So no, I still don’t believe that every single thing happens for a reason. Instead, I think that—at least in my case—a shitty situation created new paths and new possibilities that I hadn’t otherwise considered. And that’s something I’ll try to remember in 2015.