Can a gal get a break, please? (with bonus thoughts about “the new normal”)

Yes, yes she can. (fingers crossed, knock wood, etc.)

grumpy cat feels stress

Grumpy Cat understands me

Physically, emotionally and psychologically, it has been a rough several months.  We’ve handled my son starting high school (and all that goes along with that transition), my daughter in her junior year (her hardest) and the continuing circus of working at an understaffed, overbusy ad agency. I thought that was stressful.

Then shit got real.

We went to acute stress action phase when my mother-in-law started to decline and ultimately entered hospice care this past March. In our home. It was difficult, rewarding, intrusive, beautiful – all those adjectives and more. It was also a lot of stress layered on top our already packed lives.  And more so, for my husband. Dianne passed peacefully on May 16.

With her passing came all of the activities that follow a death: the paperwork, the cleaning out and sorting of a lifetime accumulation of stuff. Stuff that needed to be sorted, wrapped, boxed, transported, donated or tossed. Mike’s sister came to town and is, thankfully, a mofo packing machine and helped make quick work of it all. (Left to our own devices, Mike and I would still be there, looking at photos and wondering what to do with the china.)

No sooner was that done then our son was hospitalized. Stress, doctors, phone calls, worry and more.  He’s home now and doing better but there’s a bit of a journey there yet to come.

And now it’s summer. Kids out of school, things slow down, leisurely evenings and weekends, right?  Nope. Just as I’m vowing to stop with the crazy hours at the office for a while, things go nuts there.  Not sure why but the workload is worse than ever right now. Seems every client we currently work with wants to start something new right now, every other client wants to consider it and new business opportunities are clamoring.  Now I am not one to be sorry we have so many opportunities but really – all at once? I blame the NSA and Supermoon.  In that order.

This past Friday morning we woke up to find AbbieCat, my MIL’s kitty, had passed in her sleep during the night. This was not a huge surprise – she was 16, overweight, with dodgy kidneys to boot – but we really had hoped to have her longer. I think she just got sad that her person was gone.

What surprised me most about this was my lack of real reaction. Normally the loss of a loved pet is very traumatic for me. Granted, this was not my cat but I knew Abbie well; she’d stayed with us many times over the years, whenever Dianne visited. I had some attachment here.  It isn’t that I don’t care. Rather, it’s I don’t have time to care right now. With all of the balls in the air and plates spinning, this registered just a bit of a wobble.

Earlier this week, while viewing yet another webinar titled “______: The New Normal”, my coworkers and I spent more time joking about how everything is “The New Normal” these days.  Mobile is Everywhere: The New Normal!  Brands Getting Social: The New Normal! It’s replaced “Synergy” and “Paradigm” as the POV presentation buzz-phrase of choice. It’s old, trite and laughable.

angry orange cat swimming

ignore the stress. just keep swimming, cat.

BUT.  What if this hyper-stressed existence I’ve been leading is actually my New Normal? Is that why losing that sweet ol’ kitty didn’t even ruffle my feathers? I honestly was more sad for my husband and kids than feeling anything resembling a feeling myself.  I noted she was gone, hugged my husband, gave her some pets and headed off to work and into a crazy calendar of meetings. It wasn’t until the end of the day that I mentioned it to a friend at work and she inquired how I was doing? Doing? Should I be doing something? Feeling something?  Apparently yes.

So here’s the thing. I can’t do anything about workload right now. It is what it is and will be what it is until it isn’t.  I can handle it or I can go elsewhere (not that it doesn’t enter my mind sometimes).  What I can do is take better advantage of the time I am off. Time to decompress, time to just relax. Not quite sure how that’s going to happen just yet but it’s worth a shot. And I have Thursday and Friday off next week. That break this gal is going to take!

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There’s a new cat in town

I admit, it’s been really hard to start writing here again.  As I went through the hospice process and loss with my MIL, that topic overwhelmed everything else here.  It was hard to write about anything else when that was the biggest thing looming in our lives.  Now that the immediate, tearing grief following our loss is passing, we find ourselves embroiled in yet another very difficult family issue, which, in respect for that person’s privacy, I won’t be chronicling here.  Just know that stuff is still hard and warm feelings and thoughts are much appreciated.

That said, it seemed like a good idea to ease in gently by talking about an easy topic: cats.

We have a new kitty in residence.  When my MIL passed, her faithful feline, AbbyCat, became our responsibility.  Abby is a rather portly grande dame of a cat – somewhere north of 15 pounds and 16 years, with a kidney issue to boot. She’s a mishmash of breeds but I’m guessing a bit of Maine coon in her history, based on her size and very thick coat, with a bit of ragdoll or siamese mixed in somewhere, to explain some of her marking patterns.  She’s lovely and when in a 1-on-1 situation, very sweet and affectionate.

new kitty sitting on chair

There’s a new cat in town and her name is Abby

The problem with Abby is she’s always lived a life that’s all about Abby.  She lived the only cat lifestyle, with a devoted old lady catering to her every whim. I can’t tell you the number of times Dianne would excuse herself from a family gathering to head home because “Abby gets cranky if she doesn’t get her canned food by 6pm.”  This was not a bad thing, frankly. Dianne was devoted to her cat and her cat was devoted to her – the importance of relationships like these can’t be underestimated.

But it’s now a whole new world for AbbyCat.  Abby is no longer the center of the universe; she now finds herself in a home with 2 adults, 2 teenagers, 2 other cats and 2 rather large and pesky dogs.  It’s big, somewhat chaotic, and filled with unfamiliar noises such as dogs barking (at everything!), cats romping, TVs blaring something besides Fox News – all of the hustle and bustle of a typical houseful. Gone are the predictable days where things stayed quiet, food came spot on time, no dogs were allowed and Obama was evil incarnate.  What’s a cat to do?

Surprisingly enough, she’s doing fairly well.  My husband and I had expected her to sort of hunker down in the bedroom Dianne had occupied and slowly wither away.  We’d been through this with another cat – a skittery little thing named Farris. When her best friend, our other cat Carson died, Farris simply stopped eating, hid in a corner and waited to die. Her kidney’s quickly complied by failing.  She was gone two weeks after her friend. But not so thus far with Abby. Abby is clearly cut from more resilient cloth. We moved her out of Dianne’s room and into our own, bringing a few familiar things that would smell like home for her.  She settled in fairly rapidly and now wanders the house.  She’ll eat from the other cat’s bowls and sleep in the sun when she finds it.  She’s still learning how to not be an only animal, however.  She’s made peace with our little brown burmese and Cooper-the-big-dumb-dog but Sadie, our overactive border collie and Mac, the crazy orange tabby are a different story.  Much hissing and growling whenever either of the latter happen to enter Abby’s space (like, the same room – Abby has a very considerable personal space.)  Our hope is to simply hit some sort of stasis where all creatures can be in the same home with a bit less drama.

We don’t know how long we’ll have Abby. She is older with dodgy kidneys buy we’ll do our best to make her time with us pleasant – part of a family. I’m hoping somewhere Dianne is smiling.