How to take a nap. With cats.

As a nap expert and college professor I feel like this is a real strong point for me, so allow me to share some fine tuned techniques I’ve curated over the years. I hate the word curated but since this is a tutorial, there’s a lot of pressure on me to make this feel exclusionary and elitist. Using words like curated and conserved really grants me that sense of unearned snootiness that so many writers crave.

Now then, let’s begin.

I’m going to present this tutorial in a simple series of steps which will yield an amazing (amazeballs, if you prefer) nap experience.

  1. Is the sun up? Congratulations, you can take a nap. If the sun is down, it isn’t a nap, it’s sleeping, which is a prohibited activity for parents, students, parents of students, and anyone who is not a cat.
  2. Lower the thermostat to 58 degrees. If it’s winter, you’ll want to raise the temperature to 66 degrees. Do not deviate. It’s science.
  3. Do you have any cats? If yes, go to step five. If no, go to step four.
  4. Visit your local animal shelter and select 5-20 cats to ignore your presence. Take the cats home, release into house and go to your bedroom for further instructions.
  5. Begin preparing your bed by layering a sheet, two blankets, and no less than six pillows. It is preferable that one of the blankets is fuzzy and/or a worn quilt. Bonus points if the quilt belonged to a deceased relative.
  6. Turn your pillows. Examine them for irregularities, then strike the pillows with firm, sharp blows in order to show them who’s boss. Restack.
  7. Turn back one corner of the bedcovers at a 45 degree angle. Any more will result in a temperature compromise in the Central Mattress Zone. This is unacceptable. Protect the heart of the Mattress Zone like your virtue, unless your name is Tiffani, in which case you protect the toasty area of the bed like it’s your Volkswagen Jetta.
  8. Slip under the covers carefully. Don’t cause disarray. The idea is to be a lump, not a tornado.
  9. Remain still for ten seconds while the cats begin to arrange themselves on your head, face, and shoulders. Bonus if you have any exposed skin that they can knead with their claws; you should steel your nerves so as not to move while they soften you for mattress material.
  10. Put your phone down.
  11. Seriously, put the phone down.
  12. FFS, Kelsey, get off twitter and put your phone down.
  13. Close your eyes.
  14. Don’t answer the text. The cats will get mad and since there are twenty of them and you’re basically a human burrito under the covers, they can eat you if they so choose.
  15. Quietly admonish the one weird cat who is eating your hair.
  16. Give up, since hair grows back.
  17. Quietly admonish the three cats who have chosen to give themselves full body baths while laying on your stomach.
  18. Remark that if you could lick your own legs, it would save a lot of time in the morning.
  19. Feel yourself drifting off to sleep, a sweet release of relaxation punctuated by toasty little lumps who begin purring because they sense your surrender.
  20. Wake up in a panic five hours later, groggy, disoriented and with a lowkey headache.
  21. Vow to never sleep during the day for that long, know it is a lie.
  22. Name the cats.
  23. Change three names of cats, change back. Look at phone. Plan nap for Thursday.

This concludes my expert advice. Naturally, you’ll want to tailor these steps to your own needs, but I don’t recommend it. I’m an expert, and I have over eleven college credits.

This concludes my public service for the week.

Terry

 

Cancer took another friend.

Cancer– the scourge of our lifetime– took Dr. Lloyd Elliott this week. He was fifty, he was our family veterinarian, and he was a rare individual.

My wife and I love our animals. We regard our relationship with them as a kind of covenant, and Dr. Elliott was a huge part of our lives for the past sixteen years. He was kind, intelligent, patient, and gifted. He was empathic. He was a friend. He took care of our pets in health, and helped usher them on when disease and age made their lives unbearable.

He was with us on the very best of days, and on the worst as well. He cried with us, cheered with us, and cared for our friends as if they were his own. On the last day of Bernadette’s life, my Great Dane was too weak to walk. She weighed two hundred pounds, but Dr. Elliott met me at the car and helped us into the hospital, where she would take her last breath as we all cried, missing her even as her spirit left the room.

Dr. Elliott was– and is– a special human, and I will miss him. I cannot fathom what his family is enduring. I buried my Mother due to cancer, as well as my Nana, my Aunt, and my Grandfather. It’s a ruthless, implacable and capricious killer and I hate it with all of my heart. We lose good and great people to it, and through it all, wonder who is next.

I hope and pray that Dr. Elliott’s family can, in time, find some measure of peace. What do you say? I don’t know. I didn’t even know what to say when my own mother died, how can I articulate the loss for another family? Is compassion really enough? It feels hollow, somehow. I don’t want that kind of hurt to exist for a family who gave us someone loved by so many people.

Sometimes, it feels like sorry isn’t enough. This is one of those times.

Jezebel and the Rabbit

This Tuesday, something happened that is a (sadly) common part of my life. 

Taking my son to school, I noticed a rabbit sitting in a driveway. From her body language, I knew she was badly wounded. I stop, approach her carefully, and pick her up. She’s shaking, in pain, and scared.


I’ve been rescuing animals since I was a child. My dad taught me to love animals, respect their plight, and above all else, render aid when and where I could. In the past month, I’ve handled a possum, a crow, five kittens, a rabbit, and snakes, frogs, and turtles. In truth, I have pulled over to escort woolly bear caterpillars across the road (I find them charming and oddly funny). 

I am a magnet for turtles. This is known.



The bunny’s injuries were too severe, and I knew it. We drove across town to the animal hospital, and she was given peace. My wife kindly said, “Her last few moments were warm.” I do this a lot– every time, it’s hard, and every time, a bit of me stays with the small life that just ended. I’m okay at first, but like a tide returning to shore, the feelings catch up with me. I cry, think about what it means to help (it’s not always easy) and move on. In more than forty years, it doesn’t get easier. Ever.

What I’m going to write now is something I’ve been considering for several days. As a writer, I have to be– polite? Careful? I must choose my words, because my living comes from the sale of books to kind people who believe in my stories.

Therefore, I’m comfortable with the following departure. 

A few days ago, Jezebel published this:
http://theslot.jezebel.com/an-october-surprise-for-mike-pences-dog-death-1788255412

Let’s read that headline together: “An October Surprise For Mike Pence’s Dog: Death”.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t like politicians. That doesn’t matter here, at least not to me. Jezebel is a site that combines snarky exploitation along with the journalistic integrity of Gawker. They’re not journalists; they write clickbait about private lives and scandal to earn money. That’s it. They earn money from pain, or shame, or curiosity. 

That headline is beyond the pale. Even for the appalling standards of clickbaiters, it’s sick. It’s the lowest common denominator in a field dominated by exploitation and stupidity. I’d say they have no shame, but that’s redundant. 

I’ve never read Jezebel, or the *author* of that piece, one Brendan O’Conner. I certainly won’t start now. I will, however, tell my readers to consider who you’re supporting when you click on anything from their site. 

For me? I won’t forget this article. I leave that decision to you. Thanks for reading.

Terry