Downswing

I feel icky. And then I feel bratty. And then I feel like I can’t get safe enough. I need money.

It started yesterday. My cat has long-since established dominance in my new place. My roommate’s cat holds his own just enough that she doesn’t attack him (much), but there is the odd chase here and there. Penny is obsessed with Oliver, and his room is her favorite place in the house.

Several weeks ago, my roommate caught on that she was using his litter box. I was horrified, of course. That’s complete alpha ownership behavior, and poor Ollie must feel so violated and insecure.

Recently, my roommate changed litter brands and Penny didn’t approve. She pooped outside the box and he stepped in it. He, my roommate; not he, the picked-on cat. His slippers were ruined and he ground shit into the carpet all over his office.

I fell apart.

As far as I was concerned, it’s all over. There’s no coming back from that. I felt like an idiot. She’s been at it forever, and we just got wise. It’s not going to get better. Ollie’s not going to hold his ground any more than he does, but she’ll keep getting bolder.

The only solution I could immediately find was to keep my girls captive in the bedroom while I’m at work, and I wanted to cry. That’s fine for Fat Cricket, my little Shadow Cat. She never leaves our room, never has. But Penny basks in the sunlight of living room windows, or on a recliner and blankets in the spare room, and on Ollie’s bed while he cowers underneath it.

She can scarcely stand our door being closed overnight. She wakes me up with the most pathetic (hilarious) chorus of mews, begging to wander in the dark. Every night. Her vocabulary of varied pitch, vowels, and syllables is staggering, and utterly delightful. “Oh! You tell a good sad story,” I tease her, and readjust to fall quickly back to sleep.

I can’t bear it. I can’t imprison her.

My mind leaps. “It’s over. I have to move.”

I tried to keep myself in check. No need to “awfulize,” or borrow trouble. Let it play out. There might be an option you can’t see in this state of mind. If not, you face what comes next when it comes. Today, you just clean the carpet.

I couldn’t! I was pouty, angry, sullen. The mood of the entire house changed, and I felt that old shame for using my energy to hold everyone hostage. Negativity was palpable. Jax kept reassuring me and I wanted to scream, “Shut up!”

Even my cats looked at me with that searching anxiety. That’s the worst. I felt awful. I was mad, at a cat! Who has no ulterior motive, who’s being perfectly feline. She’s alpha, because she is. That’s all. And I was mad at her!

I was mad at myself, for thinking her dominance was cute. For thinking I was some kind of cat whisperer who’d negotiated a sort of peace between the 2 of them. For thinking it was getting better. For blurring the lines with my roommate, and spending most nights in his bed and not mine. Why shouldn’t she?

I was mad that I can’t afford to live in Salt Lake without a roommate, mad that I’ll never be able to buy a house. I was mad at all the stupid decisions I made in my 30s that cost me so much. I was mad at all I’ve lost and given up, and can’t get back. I was mad that I’m getting older and running out of time to do anything I once dreamed I might. I was mad to know that my life will never be anything more than scraping by. I was mad that my roommate thinks his yard is xeriscaped, when really it’s just overgrown and ugly. I was mad that I’ll never have a haven of my own. I was mad that I’ll always be alone.

I’m mad that that’s exactly what I want, and I’m still not satisfied. I’m mad that I’m losing my looks. I’m mad that I failed, and now I’ve lost my bloom. It’s all over.

You know, perfectly reasonable stuff like that. Meow >^..^<

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