Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Cat Who Isn’t There

I just shot my rolling chair across the office to check on my other computer. Just as I punched my foot against the floor to send the chair off on its wild trajectory, I had a terrible, chilling thought: I forgot to check for the cats!!!! I flailed around trying to stop the chair, ‘in case’. Almost tipped myself over. Probably gave myself a pretty good bruise on the thigh from smacking the side of the table. Ow. Stupid cats…

Then and only then I remembered: we, uh, don’t have cats anymore. One died of age-and-mileage related complications, and we gave the other to a new home.

Not recently. Years ago.

It’s so odd. They’ve been gone for three years now? Four? And still I have these moments, still look for them underfoot, still find myself thinking as I shoot past PetSmart: Ohmygosh, I forgot the cat food…

The cats themselves are gone, but the habit of them remains. Hard-wired into my mind.

I’ve been freaking out about the debt we piled up this year; when I think about it logically, it’s not that big a deal for us. I’m earning more on the money in the emergency fund than I’m spending to let it ride while we gather ourselves. We could blast that bad boy in a matter of months by reducing our contributions to college funds and post-tax retirement investments. We have lots of options, even the worst of which isn’t going to do us all that much harm.

But no. After all those years of doing battle with the Credit Card Dragon, I react to carrying an unplanned balance on a credit card the same way I just did about the possibility of running over a long-gone cat’s tail. It is a habit hard-wired into my brain that credit card debt is an inherent evil that must be BURNED FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH!!!!

How…primal of me.


You know what?

I’m tripping over a cat that isn’t there.

You know what else?

I need to stop doing that.

I’m willing to bet that if I go back to the very basics and compare where we’re heading right now with what we really want to have, to do and be, I’m going to find that we’ve been straying from that path ever since I left the job force two years ago. Ever since then, I have been so utterly focused on only what was right immediately in front of me, entirely wrapped up in the day to day operations. Making the coffee, the lunches, taking the children to and from school, scoring the deals at the thrift store, paying the bills…but not thinking much about overall direction.

That’s fine, if you’re the dock hand at the warehouse. But if you’re the COO of the company? You’d better understand the bigger picture, and act accordingly.

Guess what? The CFO, COO, and half of the CEO responsibilities for the Den belong to me. There are five other people who rely on me to be on my game, to make possible the goals and dreams we’ve come up with together. My husband in particular counts on me to be not only good at this stuff, but damned good at it.

I can’t be wasting time tripping over non-existent cats and screaming about dragons (especially when the ‘dragon’ is more like a ‘newt’).

Right? Right.

So let’s revisit Things, shall we…starting with that list of what we want to have, do and be in this short little life of ours…


Very Herodotus said...

I tell you, it's tough to be CFO, COO, CEO, plus have all the responsibilities of all the grunt work of the company because your LAZY husband won't get off his rear end to get the house painted (FOUR YEARS after he started on it), get the flower beds mulched, take care of our mouse problem, clean out the garage, get the accord fixed, fix the broken tiles in the shower, or even PUT HIS OWN LAUNDRY AWAY. Just PICK ONE of these things, Lazy Man, and get it done. Especially since you took an entire day off work today and have the NERVE to suggest that you can't work outside because it's too hot and maybe you'll go furniture shopping instead!!!!!!

~ takes a deep breath ~

Sorry, Mother of Chaos. Sorry for this rant all over your blog. I guess I'm just jealous that you seem to have an equal partner for a husband, and I have one who is currently acting like a slug. It makes me want to cry sometimes.

Mother of Chaos said...

(((very herodotus)))

I SO feel your pain on that. My husband goes in cycles: he'll be Mr. Perfect for months on end, and then suddenly he'll sort of...cycle off.

I can't exactly play holy about it, because I'm kind of the same way. But at the same time, it's So! Annoying! It makes me feel so alone, when he abdicates like that.

The yard starts to look like death warmed over, and the trash can has been sitting out on the street for four days, and here we are nearly a year later and the boy's room is STILL all spackle-speckled, and the mowing strip still hasn't been put in so the tanbark still hasn't been laid down...


And then somebody rushes in to talk about how you should proactively discuss how it makes you FEEL and maybe go to counseling and somebody else says you should FORCE him to tow the line and somebody else says 'oh, you just need to show him by example' and they're all durned fools, anyway.

I'm not rushing off to marriage counseling because my husband isn't mowing the lawn. There is a far easier way.

I go out there, and start to mow the lawn myself. Invariably, I do something that makes the lawn mower seize up; then I go inside and say, "The stupid lawn mower is broken again" and the next thing I know he's busily using his industrial clippers to trim the rose bushes.

And let me tell you: sometimes getting that lawn mower to seize up is DIFFICULT...although I've found that running it through the taller wild grass in the very back of the yard is fairly effective... ;-)

Very Herodotus said...

8^) You know, I even tried taking the kids for a long weekend, leaving him home alone with no parental duty distractions. And he did get the small deck power-washed and restained. I am definitely going to try your method. I think it'll work to get him involved. Once he's involved, he fine. It's just getting him up off his fanny that is the problem. He gets complacent, and DirecTV + baseball season is an enabling combo.