653: Just Do It


In the relationship scenario where partners are “supposed” to be equal, THIS is the guiding motto: Just Do It.

I am not counting the relationships that are based on servitude and power. I am not including relationships where service is bought and paid for, and yes, those relationships certainly do exist. I mean a relationship where two people are attempting to get along and share lives with each other – you know, the relationship most of us would like to think we have, are providing and are contributing towards.

Just Do It. If you see something that needs doing, just do it. Do not see it, and just pass it by, knowing that your partner will take care of it, because they usually do. If you are there, and see that it needs doing, Just Do It.

This includes cleaning the toilet, changing out the empty roll of tissue for a new one, cleaning the tub/shower when the mildew starts growing, sweeping/vacuuming, dusting, washing the dishes, putting the clean dishes away, starting a load of laundry, or folding and putting away a clean, dry load – feeding the dog/cat, or handling other pet needs like a bath, litterbox, walk, or vet visit, cooking a meal, or handling the billion and one needs associated with having children to care for and raise. This is only a starter list, and believe me, when the relationship gets lopsided with one partner handling most of the “maintenance” chores that just come with living? That isn’t a partnership. That is unpaid servitude. And it justifiably incites resentment in the person saddled with the unavoidable tasks of daily living. They ARE unavoidable tasks – that YOU are avoiding.

Just Do It, unmet, can be the reason why there isn’t any sex between you anymore. It is difficult to feel loving towards someone who is shirking daily tasks and leaving work for the other to do. It can explain why your partner is quiet and distant. You aren’t contributing to  shared living when you refuse to contribute to the little chores that come with living. Both of you live in your home. Both of you need to take responsibility for taking care of it, and your belongings within the home. Neither of the two of you should be responsible for all of it – and not even the lion’s share of it.

That’s why it is called sharing. That’s why you are called partners.

It your toes are smarting, good. Step up. Just Do It. Try your new commitment daily for thirty days, so it becomes a habit, and see if your relationship improves. An improved relationship is worth thirty days’ investment of your time and energy, right? If it isn’t, why are you even still there?

Just Do It.


573: Unacceptable Risk


In America these days, there is no acceptable risk for something someone does not find useful to themselves.

We all get in our modes of transportation on a nearly daily basis, and willingly take the (rather significant) risk that our routine daily trip will not, this time, come to a horrible, bloody end. It does happen that way for many people the world over. We take that risk with nary a qualm.

We take other risks with insouciance, too.

Have you actually read the warning labels that come attached to most small appliances these days? Seriously? I think we should just improve the gene pool and leave these labels off, thanks very much. WHO showers while using their toaster? Or tries to dry their hair while still in the shower? The awful part is that SOME one obviously did it, or there would not be a warning label for the rest of us…who don’t actually need one, thanks.

I remember the prenatal class I took during my first pregnancy. They were very careful to warn us moms-to-be not to have sex (immediately after delivery) while we were still in the hospital.  I’m not too sure about the other moms, but that was a totally unnecessary warning for me – any man who got anywhere near me immediately after delivery had better have had a shot of morphine, not sperm. It wasn’t actually an experience I was looking forward to beginning all over again at that point, believe me. It took me nearly three YEARS to forget about how much better it felt going in than coming out. Once again, this warning prompts the question: WHO did such a thing, and was she conscious at the time? And as for risk, pregnancy and childbirth are still (even in this modern age) statistically pretty high risk endeavors, and still women do it all the time.

Risk. Actually, I take lots of risks when I get out of bed in the morning. Your home is full of mortal dangers: the electrical circuits, the bathtub, ceiling fans, the stuff crammed on the top shelf of the closet, the pets that weave in and out between your feet, assorted cleaning chemicals which can’t be combined (that bleach  and ammonia thing gets a few people every  year), food left on the counter, or saved a few days too long in the fridge….you  just don’t know all the stuff that can kill you once you take the risk and get out of bed.

Let’s just understand that risk is part of living. The only way to eliminate risk is to die – and then you have to hope that the funeral home dude isn’t a necrophiliac. You just don’t know – and at least, at that point, you just would not know (or care much, either).

Let’s get on with the business of living – and be mostly careful, without being nuts about it.

411: To Adopt, or Not to Adopt?


I am a sucker for a mewling kitten. I know this from bitter experience. By the time I got a job in Panama, and we were packing up to move from Morocco, I needed to find homes for ELEVEN cats. I managed all but three by the time it was time to go, so at least I only had to book flights for three pets to Panama, and let’s not discuss how much that cost.

The trouble is, once I got to Panama, it took less than a year (only ONE kitten season), to acquire two more. The fact that two of my beloved fur children went to heaven during that time, so that the total number of fur babies remained constant at three, is neither here nor there. The question remains, should I adopt, knowing I will not be able to resist anyway, and also knowing that I will not be staying in this country for another 15 years or so, which is usually how long a cat lives, on average?

It is enough that they get several good years with me and then get another home, as good as I can provide for them? That is certainly better than life on the street would have treated them, because I take them to the vet, and neuter them, and care for them. Still, I know that changing families can be stressful for both people and pets, so am I being fair or unfair to them, loving them for a time, and sharing them with some other good family when I have to go?


335: The Green Monster

Fluff-man is insanely jealous.

My neighbor across the lawn rescued three calico female kittens from a dumpster, and I took photos, made up a flyer and posted it at our 400+ student school, hoping to help get them adopted out. No such luck. Not a single nibble. So, I took one.

kitties 002

She is a cute little seven-week old, frisky and loving little lady, who attacks my hand in play fights while I am reading on the couch, and then licks the places she play bites in apology. She’s such a sweetie I named her Dulce – the Spanish word for sweet. She and I are getting along just fine. Caruso, my man-kitty buddy, a chunky, handsome tiger-striped brown boy, is fascinated with her and wants to play – but he’s a little big and she is scared of him still. So, he contents himself with lying nearby and watching her antics. Fez, my champagne and white regal lady kitty, is disdainful, but she contents herself with growling under her breath, and occasionally hissing as she strolls majestically past the little interloper.

The problem is Fluff-man. He is INSANELY jealous. Whenever he spots her, he distorts his handsome kitty face with the evilest-looking hiss (issued repeatedly), and he growls so furiously and loudly at little Dulce that it is almost howling. You can hear his mental wheels turning loud and clear – that little s*&$ is getting pets from MY MAMA, and I HATE HER GUTS. I came home from work yesterday to find Dulce mewing piteously, sitting forlornly on top of the drapery rod, just beneath the ceiling, where she had obviously climbed to escape Fluff-man’s furious swats.  Fluff outweighs her 10 to 1, so this is a real issue for the little girl.

Today, I set her up with food and water bowls and a private kitty potty in the unused second bedroom, and I shut the door. Her ”I am abandoned” wails were difficult to hear, but I’d rather she be a little lonely than hurt. My unrepentant, furious Morocco boy kitty is acting like a Muslim meeting a Jew for the first time. It’s not pretty.

I am hoping that time will temper the fury and I can convince Fluff that this new little furry face does not mean I love him any less.

312: Euthanasia

I am stranded in the Orlando airport, a full day after I was supposed to already be on the ground in Panama.  I was refused boarding by American Airlines because they decided I did not have sufficient documentation for my cats to fly: after telling me that they could not fly because their kennels were too big (not) and that they could not fly because the temperatures on this early morning flight would exceed 85 degrees F at their destination (Panama) where they will be living for the next two years.

See, you have to have a veterinarian health certificate (done), within ten days of the scheduled flight (done), authenticated by an office of the USDA (done), and then apostiled by EITHER the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy (in Washington, D. C.) OR the Foreign Office in your state, Georgia (done). Then, you have to e-mail these scanned documents to the Panama Embassy in Panama to let them know the cats are coming (done) three days in advance in order to request that they have home quarantine (done). Oh, heck, no. American Airlines said that I needed additional documentation from the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy that the cats were good to fly. One eensy-weensy little problem: the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy does not provide any such certification, which would essentially be clearing the cats through their customs even before we board a flight to get there to submit ourselves to their customs. Not happening – either on the Panama side or on the American side.

I looked into renting yet ANOTHER car to drive to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city, so that I could have my existing paperwork apostiled in Florida, like I already had it apostiled in Georgia, but I don’t have enough room on my credit card, since another rental car company (rentalcars.com) refused to refund my pre-paid rental online when the pickup was refused in Orlando because I have a USA driver’s license, meaning I had to rent another car for 600 dollars cash (plus the 400 dollars they would not refund). Because of this, there is not room on my card to book another car, and they won’t book a one-day rental for cash, even though they were perfectly willing to book an eleven-day rental for cash. Obviously, if I can’t afford to rent a car, I also can’t just bypass American Airlines and book tickets on another carrier, either. I thought of that, too.

It does not matter anyway, because even if I went to Tallahassee to get this Florida apostile, since I am departing from a Florida airport instead of a Georgia airport, I would still only have a STATE apostiled health certificate for my cats (like I have now), not a PANAMANIAN apostiled document, which is what American Airlines is demanding.

I have one option left. I do have enough money to book a cab to the nearest veterinarian, and I can ask that my three beloved pets be euthanized. I cannot just turn them loose to scrounge a living on their own in Orlando, and I won’t take them to the animal shelter, because that is where adult cats are most often euthanized anyway: kittens get adopted, not adult cats. I am out of options, and I am already a day late getting to Panama for my new job – which I have to have. I’ve already notified them that I will be late reporting to work, and I can’t take much more time. I am not independently wealthy such that I don’t HAVE to work. I am already in tears as I write this, and I have been in tears on and off for the last thirty-six hours. I’m out of ideas. I did my best, and it was not good enough.

Meanwhile, I am here in the airport, sleeping on a bench with three cats in small crates who need to be walked and relieved every few hours, fed and watered. The wifi works here only on the third floor, and I have to go to the first floor (with them and all my luggage for two years’ stay) to take them outside to pee. And every few minutes, an announcement is made at this airport not to leave your luggage unattended. I am here alone – I have to pee sometimes, too. Oh, well.

And people wonder why I left America.

149: Moroccan Strays, or how I became the local cat lady

In Morocco, it is not very customary for people to have pets, at least, not pets in the way that most Americans think of their pets: as members of the family. If people have a dog, it is usually a guard dog, and it is kept OUTside the house, to alert the people in the house if someone comes. Generally, in Islamic cultures, dogs are considered unclean creatures, because they have this nasty habit (when they are wild dogs, or NOT pets) of eating garbage, dead things, and licking parts of their bodies that are also generally considered unclean. Many devout Muslims won’t touch a dog. There are stray dogs in Morocco, but not too many, since someone will usually take one (especially if it is male) for a guard dog.

Moroccan dog: a sheepdog cross

Cats in Morocco, however, are another story. Cats are considered to be vermin: sort of like a large rat. They also, when feral (wild) will eat garbage and dead things, and lick themselves in nasty places, but no one wants a cat for a guard animal. As a result, they are viewed as mostly useless creatures that eat food someone else could be eating, and as occasionally doing humans a small favor by killing a mouse. Because of this attitude, there are LOTS of stray cats in Morocco.

Watching the world go by…

This is a problem for me. I have always, always, always had a cat or two. In fact, when I was growing up, my mother paid her way through graduate school by raising underfoot and selling registered Siamese kittens (applehead; sealpoint, bluepoint, lilacpoint: for those of you who know what that means). Since we had three to four registered queens (mamas) and one registered tom (papa), when all four had litters of kittens at the same time we could have as many as forty to fifty cats and kittens in the house at once. Fortunately, that did not happen often. My dad tolerated this since each duly registered and sold kitten brought several hundred dollars – in the 1970’s. In our house cat hair was a way of life, and if you sat down, there was always a laptop who quickly arrived and asked for cuddles and scratchies – usually two or three. As a result, I understand kitties very well, and I know how loving they can be.

When we arrived in Morocco, our very first evening out (after we slept about twenty hours getting over the flight and five-hour drive from Casablanca), we found the local village marche (commercial area) and chose an outdoor cafe for a meal. As we ate our delicious rotisserie chicken with all the trimmings, several marche cats slipped under our chairs. Being a kitty person, I began accidently dropping my chicken bones. I noticed my husband was doing the same. There was one lovely black cat with huge golden eyes who would very politely and gently place one paw on my thigh occasionally, as if to say, “I finished the last one, and it was wonderful – do you mind if I have another?”

All of those kitties were adults, and all were fairly healthy-looking, living there at the marche near all the cafes and restaurants (not to mention the meat market). I felt no burning need to adopt one, since they all seemed to be doing well. Plus, adopting an older cat is sometimes a tough business: they are already set in their ways. It’s like trying to marry a bachelor, thirty years of age, who still lives at home and lets his mama take care of him. It’s not going to turn out well – oh, wait: I DID that the first time. Explains why I have a SECOND husband.

Anyhoo, I waited until Spring, when the year’s new crop of kittens arrived, and then I catnapped one. Moroccan cats are notoriously skittish, and most will NOT let you close enough to touch them, even the marche cats who are accustomed to people feeding them still mostly keep a wary distance. They are this skittish because most Moroccans throw stones at them, kick them if they can and generally treat them like the vermin they think that they are. This type of behavior on the part of most of the humans that the cats see does not make for friendly cats.

Quiet moment

This kitten had huge ears, and was looking the other way when I swooped down on her and scooped her up in my scarf. I know better than to surprise one with my bare hands. I took her home, petting her and cooing to her all the way, and when I got there, I bribed her with cheese. She decided it might not be too bad to stay. Since then, one by one, I have brought home others who are either adopted by other people, or stay with us. Since I know cats quite well, I socialize our kittens like I used to handle and treat my mother’s Siamese, like they are small, furry children: sisters and brothers of mine.

This causes astonishment when Moroccans come to our apartment, and see our cats sitting calmly in a lap, purring. Moroccans are amazed that our cats will approach people and ask for petting. Our cats have never been mistreated and so do not fear people, and they act like the loving creatures that they can be. Humsa (Arabic for number five) likes to go next door to the mosque at the times when prayers are called, and he waits for the people to come by and pet him – and they DO, because of his very sweet disposition, which is a rarity for Moroccan cats. My husband even saw our landlord chew out a motorist who nearly ran over Humsa in the street outside our apartment building. The Arabic probably included a warning about children playing in the street, too – but it was Humsa he defended. I consider this to be great progress for Moroccan kitties!!