Life as an Extreme Sport

Tuna Tuesday*: “Zeus, You’re Being Such a Butthead!”

One of the worst things you could tell me, when I was a teenager, was that we all grow up to become our parents. Actually, becoming my father wasn’t that bad an idea – my dad is funny, snarky, has a fantastically contagious laugh, and he made me the geek I am today.

But oh, becoming Mom? Full body shivers and complete denial. I would never become my mother. Ever. Over my dead body.

Thankfully, it didn’t take her dead body for me to realize that I am my mother’s child, as much as I am my father’s child. It was a slow revelation that crept up on my in my early 20s, as I made peace with my parents and the hormones and crankiness of the teen years flushed out of my system. Of course, being difficult, I noticed the negative traits first. Anyone who has ever noticed that I can hold a grudge like it’s an Olympic sport did not meet my mother – she made me look like a rank amateur when it comes to grudges. (In fact, her entire side of the family really elevates it to an art form.) But slowly, I noticed more things: singing and dancing while cooking, loving to cook, being an adventurous eater, always sneaking in reading when possible, loving fields of flowers and the quiet moments of beauty that sneak up on us.

But as anyone can tell you, knowing you’re like your parents is entirely different than sounding like a parent.

Yesterday, I was taking some photos for a project when Zeus decided he needed to see what I was doing. He really needed to see what I was doing. And since I was using a repeating shutter in order to minimize blur, I got cat. I got a lot of cat.

And without even thinking of it, I heard myself saying “Zeus, you’re being such a butthead!” Zeus just tilted his head the other way, trying to figure out what the shiny thing in my hand was and if he could eat it, and I looked back at him, caught between horror and amusement: I sounded just like my mother when she was exasperated with my brother. I was never the recipient of “being a butthead” commentary, but oh, my brother and my uncles. The chorus of my childhood is filled with “stop being a butthead”, inevitably directed at one of the male members of our household.

It’s a phrase I haven’t heard in years, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I puzzled Zeus further by getting teary and then sweeping him up in a hug. The small things that we never think of so often seem to be the things that become woven into our being; I would have never selected that phrase as an intentional one to add to my repertoire of creatively expressing exasperation, but knowing it’s there gives me another thread to the woman I would have once been horrified to be compared to, and am now merely grateful that such comparison is possible.

* What do you mean, it’s Wednesday? The rule of the land is this: it becomes the next day when I have slept. Going on 40 hours awake, it’s still Tuesday for me. A very, very long Tuesday…

Tuna Tuesday: Times You Don’t Want to Wash a Cat

“Hey, Kelly? Weren’t you supposed to start writing about a week ago, give or take?”

“Why yes, Anonymous Internet Voice, I was!”

“Well, you didn’t. Why not?”

“It’s a bit of a story, Anonymous Internet Voice, but pull up a virtual chair and I’ll tell you all about it…”

Okay, cutesy conceit dropped, but the point remains. I was supposed to write. I didn’t write. What the hell happened to writing? Well, a record heatwave for this early in the season turned me into a puddle of Not Doing. I don’t have central air in my apartment, and only my bedroom has A/C. (In this photo, Toledo is helpfully illustrating that it’s so hot all his bones melted.)

In fact, it was so hot that, when I wasn’t trying to keep myself cool, I was trying to cool down the cats.
However, I discovered that a wet clothe on the back, much like a leash, leaves kitties forgetting how to walk. So Zeus went for the Supercat look, instead. Very chic.

When the heat finally abated, I found myself suffering the usual side effects someone with a chronic nerve pain condition finds themself in after a 45 degree temperature shift in less than two days: pain. That pain manifested itself Sunday in a migraine, and I spent much of Sunday night throwing up. Because bathrooms are always, always cool refuges of icy tile – and why is that? The rest of your apartment can be an oven, but laying on that bathroom tile is like large paving stones of ice. But I digress. I was in the bathroom retching, and Zeus was in the bathroom with me. Zeus was very concerned – and oh, how sweet, I thought.

Silly me.

Zeus was concerned, yes. He was apparently concerned that I was hiding food or something from him, because during one of the moments I wasn’t holding on to the toilet for dear life, he stuck his head into the toilet to see what was going on. Now this, in itself, may have been fine – if I had been done vomiting.

I, however, was not.

And that’s how I found myself, late Sunday night, washing a cat while every tilt of the head or shift of the shoulder made waves of nausea roll through me. This was not on my list of things I wanted to do…ever.

Aside from mildly wounded dignity and irritation at a fierce ear-cleaning Monday morning, Zeus is fine. I got a healthy amount of sleep the last two nights, and am largely feeling better. Does that mean I’ll be better about posting? Probably not for another week – we’re heading into a heat wave that makes last week look like winter, and my poor, going to die in the heatwave, father, is coming to visit at the end of this week. The savvy reader might well point out that we’re rolling in to summer, when the heat is going to get worse and more frequent, to which I can only say point to you, and hopefully habit eventually wins out.