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.