the crazy cat lady.

Seven (seven!!!) years ago, a friend of mine called me up and said, “I know your aparment complex doesn’t allow pets, but my mom just found a box of three four-week-old kittens. One has died, I’m taking one, and the other one needs a home. Will you take him?”

Even though my apartment complex did, indeed, forbid pets, I told her I’d come over to “take a look at” said four-week-old kitten to “see” if I’d “want” it. As if anyone with a soul is going to look at a four-week-old kitten and be like, “Nope, sorry, good luck not dying like your sibling did, pal.”

That’s how I ended up with my first cat. I named him Romeo, after the Shakespeare character, because he was loving to me and only me and was rather intense about it.

So Romeo and I spent a lovely five and a half years together as a team. Me and Romeo. Romeo and me. No other cats to distract my attention. All Romeo, all the time.

Until June of 2011.

One day, I had to stop by the house after work for something on my way to a meeting. So I zoomed home, ran up the steps toward my front door and, as I was running, caught a small, black fuzzy thing in the corner of my eye.

“Please don’t be a kitten,” I prayed.

It was a kitten. Of course it was a kitten. A freaking four-week-old kitten with an eye infection, teetering on the edge of life. Damnit.

I scooped up the little dying furball and ran inside. I tossed him at my poor, unsuspecting husband and said, “I’m sorry. I have a meeting to run to. Please do something about this.” And then I left.

A $70 vet bill later, we couldn’t just set this kitten free. So he was ours. We named him Hamlet, because “Romeo and Whiskers” just doesn’t sound right and he is dressed in all black and acts out in outlandish ways, much like his Shakespearean namesake.

So. That’s how we got Romeo and Hamlet. Normal, right? At that point, I wasn’t anywhere near crazy cat lady status. I was just a girl with two cats.

But you see, it didn’t stop there.

Since we took Hamlet in at such a young age, his mother began to hang around. Feeling quite sad for her, what with the loss of her only begotten son, we started to feed her. And so we named her Gertrude, after Hamlet’s mother in the actual play.

Fair enough.

But then, other cats started to show up on our doorstep demanding food. Gertrude even took a suitor, whom we named Claudius. Okay, that’s cool, can’t fault a girl for shacking up right?

But then she got pregnant. Ugh. Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

So that makes two cats on the inside of our house (Romeo and Hamlet) and four outside.

Until Gertrude got pregnant again. By Claudius, we assume, but who knows. (Does it matter?!)

At that point, we just gave up and decided to name all future cats to come into our lives via this avenue as The Players.

Our friends thought we were nuts. When we went out of town, we’d have to have someone come feed Romeo and Hamlet, of course, but also the entire cat population in our neighborhood that we felt a heavy obligation to.

Someone once told me that I was an anomaly because I am, and I quote, “… the only crazy cat lady in existence who actually got married, too.” I don’t see why adopting every cat that crosses my path makes me “crazy” rather than “more loving than all of you, Selfish McSelfishpants”, but whatever. An anomaly I is, I suppose.

When I think of a crazy cat lady, I imagine her sitting in her house, talking in a high-pitched voice to one of her thousand felines, basking in the attention they give her simply because she refuses to leave her house lest one of them mews and goes unnoticed. She is up to her ankles in litter and Meow Mix, and the only thing she gets in return is the thunderous roar of simultaneous purrs and a coat of cat hair on her lap so thick she could knit a blanket with it.

She cannot move on from this life. She is invested now. Invested, it seems, in something that is really only a detriment, both physically and mentally.

As a I dabbled with cat lady-dom, I felt way too close to that image for comfort. The fact that I couldn’t take a trip out of town without taking the entire cat population into account was disheartening at best, frightening at worst.

Luckily (???) some people broke into our house and stole all of our stuff so we had to move, leaving Gertrude and the rest of them all to die, probably.

I tell you that story, not to draw attention to the fact that, when it comes to cats, I could probably benefit from some sort of psychoanalysis, but because I think there’s a little crazy cat lady in all of us.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my good friend Libby. We talked about a myriad of good things, but at one point in the conversation I found myself begging and pleading with her to stay my friend despite my new-found responsibilities surrounding motherhood.

“I just don’t want you guys to forget about me, you know? I mean I had a baby, which means I couldn’t hang out with you guys on Saturday night, so I’m worried that you’ll all forget about me…”

My insecurities were just zooming out of my mouth like a freight train.

“That’s so silly,” she reassured. “We’d never forget you. That’s just your crazy cat lady talking.”

Huh?

Evidently, Libby refers to the voice inside one’s head that plays off of one’s insecurities, the voice that makes you feel like you’re not good enough the way you are and no one — except maybe your cats — will ever love you, is your crazy cat lady.

Ha. Despite the fact that she has to take a truck load of allergy medication before heading over to my house, that metaphor resonates with me more than she probably knew at the time.

Over the past several weeks, my crazy cat lady has been telling me that I’m going to be forgotten and replaced by my immediate circle of friends because I’m the only one with a kid. I’m the only one who, when invited out somewhere, has to take into account bedtimes and bathtimes and nursing times and if I’ll have the car seat or not, etc. etc. etc. My crazy cat lady wants me to believe that, because of all this, I’m less valued by my friends. I’m not the same Lindsay I was before, and they won’t love the new Lindsay. Or my kid.

My crazy cat lady doesn’t want me to leave the house. She wants me to stay where it’s comfortable, surrounded by a thousand cats (doubts, fears, insecurities) that bind me forever to a life of recluse. A life without reaching out, accepting love from other people who are real and honest and different. There is nothing beneficial from this thinking. Much like an actual cat lady, there is little return on this sort of thinking.

It’s all lies, of course. But the feelings are there regardless. My crazy cat lady is relentless.

What does your crazy cat lady tell you?

friday favorite: black nails.

Not sure why, but I’ve always felt like a sexy vixen (rawr) whenever I paint my nails black. While it’s extremely rare that I have the time to paint my nails any color these days, I was able to snag some time last weekend to finally sit down and give myself a little nail-love with my favorite OPI.

I was always that girl who, at slumber parties, painted her nails something other  than pink or purple. I always went for the crazy, weird colors. And once I discovered black, well, I never went back, as they say. Therefore, I feel the most like myself when my nails are black, as weird as that sounds. And after a week of second guessing things about my character, it was nice to be able to bring myself back to center, even if it was in the most minuscule way.

Your turn! What’s your favorite thing about yourself this week? Comment, ready GO!

things i love thursday! (october 4, 2012)

Okay, you guys. If I can come up with a list of good things after the crap I’ve been through this week, so can you. NO EXCUSES, y’all. Let the positivity fly!

THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:

  • Getting text message pictures like the one above from my husband while I’m at work.
  • The outpouring of support I’ve received over this blog post.
  • Seeing Mr. Nystrom snag a Mrs. Nystrom!
  • Reconnecting with friends from the past.
  • The view on highway 40 under a full moon.
  • Sushi.
  • Being a mommy.
  • Getting a text from my boss on Monday morning letting me know that the power was out at the office so I was to stay home with my baby for a few more hours.
  • Being able to drive for four hours without stopping to pee again. I’m like a new person with a new bladder! #pregnancy
  • Lunch with Angie at Panera with “bangin” salads.
  • Coffee.
  • Giving Dax a bath.
  • Painting my nails.
  • Buffalo chicken.
  • Books.
  • Sherbet.
  • Customer Service Week!
  • “Money Makers”.
  • Seeing a grown woman in a onesie.
  • Dax’s smiles and coos.
  • Good music.
  • Gift bags.
  • Friends who are secret-pregnant.
  • Encouraging text messages.
  • The blogosphere.
  • Seeing some real talent at my work talent show. Wow. So good!
  • My friends and family.

What do you love this week?

it isn’t easy being green. with envy.

I’ve been dealing with some stuff.

That’s what I told a couple of my girlfriends in an email last week. Only I didn’t say “stuff”. I said something else. Something much more fitting to describe exactly what it is I’m going through.

Yesterday, I got an email from NaNoWriMo. When it hit my inbox it felt like a sack of pumpkins to the face. Oh yes. It’s October, which means that next month is November. National Novel Writing Month.  Has it really been a year since I touched my novel?

Let me give you a little bit of insight as to how my life looked a year ago:

I’d just gotten surgery to repair my ACL, an injury I sustained during an awesome dance class at an incredible studio. I was writing like it was my job (which, okay, it is my job but youknowwhatimean), my blog was getting roughly a bazillion hits a day (roughly), and I was taking on my biggest writing challenge ever — fashioning a novel (albeit a complete crap one) in a month. All the while, I was involved in four ministries, one of which I led, at my church.

I was doing it all, basically. I was the it-girl.

And then bam. On November 16th, I took a positive pregnancy test. A figurative slam on the brakes of life, if you will. A happy gear shift, for sure, but a gear shift none the less. I went from being completely focused on my life and my goals to turning down everything (including beer, dang it) that I wanted in order to put someone else — someone so precious and special — first.

I was thrown head-first into a season of rapid life-changes, both physically and otherwise. As I watched my body grow, I also watched important things in my life grow distant. It was almost as if I was taking up too much space to allow for anything else. A painfully obvious metaphor, of sorts. I stepped down. From a lot of things. I put writing on the back burner. I surrendered the ministries in which I volunteered (one of which I’d run for five years — that was pretty hard to let go). I removed myself from all of the “good” things in my life in order to make room for the “best” thing.

Make no mistake. When I saw his little face on July 19th at 1:34 AM, I could see why he was, indeed, the “best” thing. He was (and is) absolutely perfect. He is my whole world. 

That should be enough for me. It should. But guess what?

I’m human. I’m broken. So sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, like right now, for instance, it’s not.

This year looks  a lot different than last year. I’m not dancing. I’m not writing as much. I’m most certainly not writing another novel, or even editing the one I did write, and I’m watching as all the ministries in which I served move on without me. Moreover, they’re moving on with other people. People who, by my account, are better and more lovable than me. My brokenness begs me to cling to the public affirmation associated with being involved in and doing everything, and so now, since I don’t have any of that, I don’t feel as though I am worthy of love. It’s especially hard because the only person for whom I’m “doing” things, the only person from whom I can receive affirmation, can’t speak. Can’t audibly affirm me. (Unless you count coos and the occasional but oh-so lifesaving smiles.)

To make matters worse, I had to go back to work. And my milk supply consequently dropped. So now I sit in my cubicle, praying that the one thing I — and only I — can do doesn’t slip away, too, making me (in my mind) completely and utterly useless. It feels like this thing — breastfeeding my child — is the only thing keeping me from being obsolete and unloved. As each pumping session shrinks just a little smaller than the last, I begin to panic.

Enter: envy. Pure, immature, annoying, soul-crushing envy.

I find myself envious (and bitter, to boot) of everyone these days. Stay-at-home moms who can answer the demand of their nursing infants and, therefore, don’t have to worry about a diminishing milk supply. Published writers who, because they’re published, are better at it than I. Singers, because dear GOD don’t ask me to sing. Songwriters. Artists. Friends. Not friends. Redheads. Brunettes. Blondes.

The list is endless.

Chances are, if I know you, I’m probably envious of something you have that I don’t. Even though what I have — a beautiful and perfect baby boy — is something you can’t ever have. Sure, you can have a baby boy at some point. But he’ll never be my baby boy. He’ll never be the perfect little angel I wake up to every morning.

It’s the nature of the sin. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t God-honoring. It’s wrong and stupid and awful. And yet, here I sit, stewing in envy. The painful thorn in my side.

One of my favorite writers touched on this earlier this week when she lamented about the solitary nature of book-writing. The way she explained her feelings echoed mine. It’s as if I’m a duck floating atop a pond. Quiet and inconspicuously still above the surface, but furiously paddling my feet beneath, unseen and unappreciated by all.

Barf. Whatever.

Because this terrible ulcer in my heart wouldn’t stop festering, I had no choice but to open up about it to a couple friends. (In two completely unrelated lunch meetings, both over sushi, which I found to be adorably ironic.) I sat across the table from these two friends, friends I’ve known for years, friends who have seen me at my absolute worst, and I let them have it. I let them know that, yep, I’m still messed up. I compare myself to others and get really freaking jealous and it really sucks.

And they listened. And they challenged me to think differently. To be proactive and to make changes.

But change is hard and I hate it. 

This past weekend I took a short, 24-hour trip to my hometown to see my best friend’s little brother get married. It’s a four-hour drive, and since I had to take Dax with me, I had to drive at night. I hate driving at night, but Dax sleeps through the night now and also conks out during car rides so there was no way I was going to drive during the day if it meant my son would revert back to a nocturnal disposition.

My least favorite part of the drive, probably because of the low speed limit and lack of passing lanes, is driving east on highway 40 through the Ocala National Forest. As soon as I get on 40, I start counting the minutes until I can finally turn right onto 17 and get the hell off of 40.

But this time, it was different. I wanted to stay on 40 forever.

In the dead of night, the Ocala National Forest should have, by all accounts, been pitch black. My Camry and I should have been shrouded in complete darkness. But we weren’t.

The moon was full, and so it poured buckets of silvery moonlight across the land, transforming the forest completely. The trees were a mass of dark, almost-black-but-just-not hunter green against a slate sky and clouds disguised as clumps of charcoal. It was devastatingly beautiful — a type of beauty that could only be seen in the dark of night. As much as the sun could try during the day, that type of allure was only achievable with the overwhelming glow of the full moon. (I tried to take a picture of it with my iPhone but none of the photos did it justice. So hopefully my words will.)

It reminded me of me. And what I’m going through in this time. Though I am, indeed, walking through a “dark” period, a night which has gone on way too long with the hope of dawn too far off in the distance, there is hope. There is truth. There is light.

There is light in the truth my friends bring me through honest, raw, desperate conversation. There is the reality that, though I am broken and have weak moments, I am loved and valued, even if I am not publicly esteemed as such right now. And though I’m currently wrestling with this beast of a sin, I can beat it because I am a daughter of the Most High. A princess.

A broken princess. A messy princess. But a princess, none the less, bathed in the sweet, soft moonlight of grace.