Friday, March 12, 2010

May Your Slumber Be Blessed

Consort notes that I write about cats a lot. I think he worries I’m becoming a Cat Blogger, which in his mind is one step away from Holiday-Themed Sweater Wearer. So please note this is a very special episode about how my family is trying to kill me through sleep deprivation, with a choice role being played by a family member who happens to be a cat. So there.

For the last week, Consort has been especially night-owlish and I can’t complain because a) A big part of it leads to income and b) The other part is where he edits my Q-teas. He’s writing all sorts of businessy, MBA-ish things, adult things, which he does best in quiet (as opposed to the other kind of adult writing which requires loneliness), and quiet doesn’t really happen around here until eleven at night. Between three and four in the morning, he comes to bed. As lightly as he tiptoes, I still wake up and try to engage in the sort of conversation partners have when one has just come home from work. This, of course, would go better if I weren’t in the middle of a REM cycle:

QUINN: Did you put the penguins away?

CONSORT: Shhhh, go back to sleep.

QUINN: Sorry, I meant did you finish the spreadsheet?

CONSORT: Just about.

[Author’s note: No spreadsheet has ever been fully finished. Ever.]

QUINN: Thank you for putting up the spoons. I really appreciate it.

(Consort, having spent many nights parsing what the hell I’m saying at dark-thirty, knows I mean the videos.)

CONSORT: You’re welcome. Go back to sleep.

(Consort lies down in the dark for eight minutes, and then stands up and starts tiptoeing back out of the room. Quinn rouses from her dream, sort of.)

QUINN: Why are you going back into Lake Ponchartrain with Michael Douglas?

CONSORT: I just remembered something I need to add to the spreadsheet. Go back to sleep.

And so I do, sort of, rousing only slightly when he comes back. Consort, of course, sleeps in to the morning and works another night shift. I wake up with the pets at 7:30. Then there’s trying to educate the child and taking her places to make her socialized and tired and then it’s night and then it’s late night and I’m asking Consort something random again.

And then there was last night. More accurately, there was this morning. First, the Ghost of Excels Past, Present and Future slunk into bed and I had to wake up and toss him random nouns. Then, at some point later, I awoke to feel the child sliding into bed next to me; she had a nightmare. I edged over and fell back asleep. I hadn’t realized she hadn’t shut our bedroom door behind her until I felt the percussive thump of six pounds of feline hitting the bed. I opened one eye to see Diana, the obsessively affectionate cat. We stared at each other in the dim light from the hallway. I had, at most, thirty seconds to remove her before she did exactly what she did every time Daughter was under the covers, but if I squiggled out, my partner might wake up and remember an email he’d been meaning to write. I gave in and lifted the covers between Daughter and me. As gracefully as a high-diver, Diana plunged under the covers, stopped at my thigh and commenced to nurse on my pajamas. I can’t say as I was happy about this, but I could sleep around it. Whenever Consort finally woke up the next day I’d strip the bed and try to disinfect the room.

Minutes passed. I fell back asleep but woke again to the sensation of furry undulation. Diana, for reasons which I’m sure were obvious to a cat, had decided to head down my leg. She had a quick nurse when she reached my ankle but over the next fifteen minutes continued around my feet, up the other leg, around my arm and finally out from under the quilt. She then walked around my head and started to go under the covers for another go-around. I felt an overwhelming need to spoil her plans. I grabbed her, slowly hip-walked my way out of the covers, took her to the bedroom door and sent her on her way. Until now Anne, the other cat, had been off sleeping or grooming or reading back issues of The New Yorker but upon hearing her sister’s feet hit the ground, dashed into the bedroom just as I was shutting the door and in one leap was in the middle of the bed, darting towards Consort’s head. I went to grab her, and she leapt onto the headboard, caromed off the side table and dashed into the closet. I knew that if I left her in there and got back into bed she’d come cakewalking out just as soon as I fell asleep and start doing our hair. She had to be removed.

In case you’ve never tried it, it’s awfully fun to try to catch a half-grown cat in a closet at five in the morning. Why, between doing unsuccessful flying tackles into dress shoes and inching behind winter clothes boxes, the time just zips by. Twenty minutes later, I was sweaty and smelled slightly of mothballs, but I was holding a cat, which then licked my nose and purred at all the attention. I tiptoed through the bedroom and shooed her outside while sweeping her sister out at the same time. The dog was standing by the door, looking hopeful in the breakfast way. I sneered at him and whisper-barked, “NO!”

I slid back into bed between my loved ones, a process only slightly less taxing than putting toothpaste back into the tube. Only now as I’m writing this does it occur to me that I could have more easily pushed the kid to the middle and slept on the outside. Forgive me; I was a little tired. I lay there and watched the light of the new day form patterns on the ceiling and noticed that I was completely awake. It was a little after six, might as well start the day. Consort, feeling me extricating myself from the bed, said drowsily, “Honey, go back to sleep.”

Readers, I let him live.


Blogger Heather said...

Your description of Diana's furry undercover undulating just brought to my mind the memory of a cat we had when I was a teenager. She was the kitten of one of our most fertile barn cats, and whereas her momma was friendly, in the kitten friendliness turned to overwhelming affection. We actually renamed this little calico "Kisses" because she had to be with (and by "with" I mean "on") a human at all times. (I don't recall what her first name was, just that Kisses started as a nickname and then stuck for good.)

Kisses was an indoor-outdoor cat, as any cat that person-crazy could never survive just chilling out in one of the barns. Not only did she love to go under the covers at night (and needed no human assistance to get there - she was a feline Houdini) but beyond kneading and nursing on clothing (socks were a special favorite) she loved to nurse on human hair. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like rolling over onto a hank of your hair there on the pillow, and then discovering your hair is wet with drool, and that *it isn't your drool* that has soaked it.

I think perhaps the spirit of the long-departed Kisses lives on in your house now!

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, that is great, what a way with words you have. Thank you for the smiles I am having reading your blogs and listening to your Q-Tea!


11:30 AM  
Anonymous Judy S said...

Isn't it amazing what we tolerate with our loved ones -- both human and furry?

Very amusing story --- I could picture the whole event!

May I suggest a cat nap for you this afternoon? ;-)

11:34 AM  
Anonymous DebBeausoleil said...

Quinn, this is hilarious! I do, indeed, know what it means to chase a cat out of a closet at five in the morning.

Several years ago, my husband & I were guests in his mother's house. She had us sleeping in her bedroom. This, in and of itself, wasn't a bad thing. Too bad no one bothered to tell her 20-some cats that we'd be sleeping in their room (Mom takes in cats and tries to find homes for them so that they're not euthanized). We spent the first night chasing cats out of the room, but when we'd open the door to let them out, 4 more would slink in, promising to be quiet. We'd get back into bed and before long, the familiar growls and warning hisses would come out from under the bed, signaling yet another disturbance was about to take place. It was the longest night of our lives.

There's nothing quite like feel the weight of a cat as he springs off the bed to attack his sister or brother. I absolutely love waking up to the sound of a cat, positioned near my head, growling and spitting at a kitty intruder that's wandered too close.

The subsequent nights, we chased all of the cats out and firmly closed the door before retiring for the night.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

Diana reminds me of our elder daughter at age two and some. The poor child had totally destroyed her baby bed, a hand-me-down many times over, and had been given with much pomp "The Big Girl Bed" to sleep in as had so many of her ancestors. She loathed that bed. Despised the lovely percale sheets. The beautiful pillowcases embroidered with her initials by an artistic great-grandmother. Even the dust-ruffle that I made from eyelet cotton was greeted with nothing but scorn.

By the way, this was over 30 years ago.

Every stinking night, this child would creeeeeeeep into our bed along about 2:30 in the morning.

"Why are you here?"

"My bed is #$@#$%#!@~ #", replied our beautiful child. We lived next to a wonderful gentleman who had retired from the Merchant Marines and forgot to leave his vocabulary at sea. The two of them were very best friends.

This child would start with her head on my pillow, and then roam. Sound asleep, she'd scale the Matterhorn, conquer myriad rapids, speak in the language unknown, and snore like a foghorn. All the time, patting me in her sleep.

This went on until she received a four foot tall stuffed ScoobyDoo as a reward for not cussing in church for two weeks. Scooby could only sleep in her bed, and the little kid bought it.

Does Diana watch cartoons?

5:49 PM  
Blogger Cat Connor said...

I never think to move the child to the middle either... :-)

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Robin Raven said...

Loved this entry. It's great. Cats are so different than dogs. I'd spoil my beloved dog Marta so much that she had a pillow and would slumber peacefully beside me most nights. No nighttime chaos for her.

Enjoyed your Q-tea, too. I never try cooking. Maybe I should, then I could lose some weight. :) It's Gardenburger, Morningstar and Amy's meals for me. haha You seem more health conscious than me, but I occasionally enjoyed AstroBurger on Melrose, as they have a big vegetarian menu in the drive thru. Just FYI. haha

5:14 AM  
Blogger Quirky said...

Oh Quinn, I adore you. Every time I read one of your posts, it's like you've been watching my life instead. Only like Consort, I'm the night owl who comes to bed at 3 or 4am, and we have not two but five cats who are sprawled out over and under covers, draped across knees, playing in my hair, giving friendly licks to the back of my neck while I sleep, and instigating 5am cat WWF matches.

No wonder I sleep until noon.

1:39 PM  
OpenID nvr-sk-to-tll said...

Great post, Quinn. I've had my share of late-night experiences with overly friendly felines, including a recent incident involving a young tourtoiseshell nesting on my feet as I slept on my sister's sofa.
May you get the sleep you so richly deserve...

PS: I'm LOVING your Q-teas.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

We have a Dianna named Bradley, but I prefer Brat-ly. We have 2 cats and 2 Alaskan Malamutes. Brat=ly as we will call him here on loves nothing more than to tease the dogs so he can growl and spit at them and the best time of day is the middle of the night when they are asleep in our bedroom. The dogs on the floor and Brat-ly safe and loud under the bed. We try never to let him in our room, but he has ways. BTW I too LOVE the Q-teas as well!

5:00 AM  

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