Vacuuming At Midnight

I am supposed to be sleeping. Failing that, I am supposed to be reading academia. But instead, I am spraying an area rug repeatedly with a vinegar and water solution, then sprinkling it liberally with baking soda, then waiting five minutes and vacuuming it all up.

In other words, I have an ancient cat with a death wish.

The cat is 15 1/2 years old, if we’re going to count half-years. Since I think humans get to start counting half-years again at 90, I think cats get to do it by the time mine is this age. She’s lived with me her whole life save the first three or four months, and in that time, we’ve had our problems, but none as sordid as the one we’re having now.

She’s basically taken over the entire basement, which is to say the carpet is going to have to be ripped up and replaced. But that can’t happen as long as I have the cat, because at her age, it is impossible to remind her of exactly where her litter box is during the 9 to 12 hours a day that I’m not home. (When I am home and I see her make her way down there, I follow her, pick her up and actually put her in the litter box. That works.)

This results in the dreaded Cat Smell. You know how you hate walking into the homes of certain people who have a cat? Mine has become that home. It’s not as bad as a lot of homes I’ve been in, but goddamn. And I can’t do a thing about it. I have sprayed so many things on the basement carpet recently that I will absolutely have some form of cancer by morning. Nothing actually works. They all say they work. They all have helpful hints to make carpet pet stain/odor cleaning successful.

“Cats avoid the scent of citrus. Our citrus-scented spray makes sure they never eliminate in that spot again!”

LIE. She goes back again and again. Which isn’t to say she doesn’t find new spots, too. I could smother the whole carpet in lemon-lime-orange-grapefruit barbed wire. She’d still go back.

“Don’t use vinegar or ammonia. Cats smell it and link it to their scent, so they’ll go back to that spot again.”

IMMATERIAL. I’m pretty sure if you named the polar opposite of vinegar and ammonia, I’ve used that, too. Doesn’t matter.

“Be sure you clean the spot completely before you spray, or the cat will return to the spot.” IMPOSSIBLE. Do you know how many times I’ve soaked, patted, blotted, rubbed, scrubbed, and stood on towels? She always knows where it was. Or picks somewhere new. Or both.

Tonight, upon returning home from the halfway mark of another doozy of a work week and a class on top of it, things smelled unusually ripe. I checked the basement, and yes, the basement carpet still stinks, but it’s a different smell. I checked the garbage. I ran the garbage disposal. I got on my hands and knees at sniffed the vents to see if something crawled in there and died. I couldn’t find the source.

An hour and a half after I got home, while I was trying to read a textbook, I happened to look over to my right.

Oh heeeeyyyyy, huge pile of cat diarrhea on my area rug. You explain a lot.

(The cat, by the way, just slinked slowly up the stairs to my bedroom as I typed that. She is ashamed. She had better be.)

I have thus far attempted to remove the smell four times. After each attempted cleansing, I have gotten on my knees and put my nose to the carpet. If I were facing east, I could claim a new religion. If that religion could get rid of this odor in my area rug, I would claim it.

Alas… abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

More and more, this points to me needing to take the cat to the vet. I know some of you are currently gasping at the horror of the fact that I haven’t done this yet, but here’s what: I have no money for the vet. The vet, as we all know, is a racket, and I already have several required rackets sucking funds from my bank account in order to be allowed to live indoors with running water and electricity and the internet to work this here WordPress machine. So I’ve been stuck with this situation. But I think soon I’m going to have to take the cat to the vet and explain the absolutely out-of-control situation I’m dealing with, and face the music.

For now, I have to get on my knees, face the floor, and pray for a miracle.

Cat and Mousecapades

Me, to the cat, exasperatedly: “You really must grow opposable thumbs.”

Cat, nonplussed: “Meow.”

I’m going on vacation. This vacation has Amazing Race-like qualities, in that it will take several legs and modes of transport to arrive at the eventual destinations… but it is not at all like the show, in that it requires positively no energy other than schlepping to said modes of transport. With thousands of my human kin, I am embarking on a four-night Disney cruise.

Which is somewhat odd, as I have no children.

I do have nephews. They’re going. That’s how we justified the reservations.

This trip will involve my Parents, Sister 1, Bro-in-law 1, Twin Nephs, Sister 2, Bro-in-law 2, Youngest Neph, Sister 3 and myself. It’s actually pretty great that we still do the group vacation thing, though it doesn’t usually involve the wide-open sea and a giant, luxurious cruise ship full of larger-than-life rodents and princesses. We’re trying to extend the life of that group vacation effort indefinitely, even though some of us have bred, and I moved away from everyone 16 years ago and never got closer than two hours away since, and then my parents moved away even farther than I ever was (thus giving me the privilege to rebuff all passive-aggressive forms of scorn for having moved away at all).

But, as you know if you’ve ever gone on a vacation as an adult, it involves a great deal of planning and chore-doing before you actually depart. And combined with the joys of full-time employment, long commutes and other obligations, that means you get to do a load of Whatever Colors There Are, To Hell With It laundry at midnight the night before you leave, while you alternately stuff things into luggage and wander around your home muttering to yourself incessantly about what needs to be done before you go.

And, in my case, have a dirty martini.

I’ve been on one other cruise, and it was 12 years ago. That time, though, my parents had taken care of everything. Which means I had no idea how laborious a task it is to get it together to get on a big boat and go somewhere. The communists at Disney want to know everything about me, including the name of my firstborn, and if no such child yet exists, the potential name of my firstborn, and if the potential doesn’t exist, the reason for the lack of said potential. I’m signing contracts, I’m filling stuff out online, I’m being urged by Goofy to make sure all my passport information is entered, I’m triple-checking baggage tags, I’m making a list of the lists I need to make and checking that stuff off, I’m communing with the Department of State… it’s overwhelming.

Leave it to Mickey Mouse to turn grown women into whirling dervishes.

Rat bastard.

But seriously, I’m looking forward to it… now. Because I figure everything’s done, and what isn’t… well, it’s not going to get done at this point. Once I leave work, I’m driving straight to Sister 2’s house (2.5 hours), going to bed, getting up a short time later and heading out with her, her hubby, their tot and Sister 3 to the airport, from which we will fly to Orlando, and then take a shuttle to their hotel, and then get picked up from there by Parents, who will take Sister 3 and myself to our hotel, where Parents are also staying. At some point, Sister 1 and BIL 1 join up with us, with Twin Nephs in tow, having gone to Orlando early to visit BIL 1’s brother and his family.

They drove all night (cue Cyndi Lauper) last night, and I understand Twin Nephs did not want to sleep in the van, because they thought they had to sleep on the “Mickey Boat.”

We stay tomorrow night at the hotels, and around noonish on Friday, we board the Disney Dream for four nights of seafaring adventure. Ports of call: Nassau and Disney’s Castaway Cay. They own the joint.

It’s an island.

And they own it.


(I actually love Disney, for the record. But come on. You know they’ve got a plan for world domination.)

But I digress. What’s done is done and what isn’t, isn’t. And in point of fact, what almost wasn’t… was getting someone to feed the cat. The cat, having been acquired as an allegedly low-maintenance pet, developed transient diabetes a few years ago, throwing in a UTI and pancreatitis for extra fun, and now cannot eat dry food. She has to have wet food, and wet food cannot be left in a great heap on the floor for days and days and days. So I need a cat-feeder if I go away for more than two or three.

My Budd-ish neighbor, Shanti-Mayi/Toni, has my spare apartment key. She has two cats, Agape and Tres-Siete (three legs, seven lives left), and she’s very kind about feeding my cat if I go anywhere. Alas, Shanti-Mayi/Toni appears to be out of town.

Would that I had realized this prior to 11pm last night.

Okay, this is fine. I have two other neighbors, and they’re both super nice and love animals. They’ll help.

Notes went up on doors. The night passed. The notes were still on the doors come morning.

Oh. They’re not here either.

(What the hell, people? Am I the only one in the building? Okay, new rule: if ever there is only one person in the building for an extended period of time, said person should be notified of their status as the solo resident so that they don’t go trying to save the rest of the group in the event of a fire, for naught.)

So… everyone’s gone. And I’m going to be gone for six, and possibly seven, nights.

Me, to the cat, somewhat desperately: “You really can’t open cans by yourself?”

Cat, still nonplussed: “Meow.”


I was coming down to the wire. The carriage was about to turn into a pumpkin. This morning, while I was madly cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, washing dishes and calculating time constraints, I had to email my former neighbor, Ali. “Ack! HELP!” was the subject line. I begged her to either come dump a supply of the cat’s food every two or three days, or come get her and take her to Ali’s place, whatever works. Ali now lives 20-25 minutes from me and she’s a single mom, so this isn’t an easy drill. I sweetened the pot with an offer to have her and her son stay at my place at least for the weekend, using such luxuries as cable, internet access and pool passes, and granting free and unfettered access to my bookshelves and DVDs.

I think she bought it. In any case, she’s feeding the cat. Phew. That was close.

Her agreement to help, and possibly stay at my place for the weekend, then necessitated a flurry of new and unplanned mandatory activities, like putting fresh sheets on the beds (requiring another load of laundry), vacuuming the whole place instead of just the part a casual feeder would see, cleaning the bathroom, and figuring out where to hide two separate keys: the one to the building and the one to my apartment. I think that was fairly well accomplished, unless someone finds the one I hid outside before Ali does on Friday. Then we could have a problem. The management won’t let her in because they don’t know her. I’m not reachable at that point, and even if I were, I couldn’t come home. I’m with a giant mouse, on his boat.

And as we know from a previous post, the cat isn’t so great about catching up with mice, or knowing what to do if she did.

Bon voyage, readers. I wasn’t able to write any posts ahead of my departure. I’m told Mickey does offer wi-fi at sea… but he charges for it, of course.


Cat. Nonplussed.

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