Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Those who have glass furniture shouldn't throw cats.

When I graduated from college, I was preparing to move 1600 miles from Colorado Springs, the place I called home, to start a terrifying new job: inner city middle school teacher. 

Now, I had never lived away from home before. I'd never rented an apartment, or paid rent, or tried to feed myself. My folks and I travelled to New Orleans the Spring Break before I graduated to find me an apartment; I had $800 to my name and put down $750 as the security deposit on my place. I was excited. I was going on an adventure, much like Bilbo leaving the Shire for the first time, only without all the promises of safety and wellbeing. 

In preparation for my new job, I had to attend five weeks of summer training in Atlanta. After that, I would go straight to New Orleans to start work. Because I didn't have any furniture or, like, spoons, and stuff, I reluctantly surrendered my graduation money to my mom so that she could garage-sale for everything I might need while I was stuck in Georgia. 

While I was running on three hours' sleep a night and spending every spare moment sobbing about the hell my life had become, my mom was working wonders stocking my apartment. When I returned to Colorado, shell-shocked but a little more ready for teaching than I had been, my folks' garage was filled to the gills with furnishings: couches, chairs, art – and a lovely glass-topped coffee table. Remember the coffee table. It's important later. 

Mom, generous to a fault, helped me pack up the moving van and drove with me and a family friend down to New Orleans to get settled. The van was 24 feet long. Behind it, we towed my car on a 20-foot trailer. Three days and one harrowing journey through bimdiddy nowhere later, we met my dad (who flew down) to move me into my first apartment. 

It was raining when we moved stuff in, and there was a dead lizard in the kitchen, but, all things considered, the process was relatively painless. My dad left a few days later, but my mom stayed a week or so to help me transition into life on my own. 

One of those transitional steps was for me to adopt two baby kitties. 

How I found them and where I got them from is a harrowing story for another time. 

This story, though, is about these two: 

Here we have the kittyheart, rarely seen in captivity, and known to be the cutest thing in the whole history of time. 

Aren't they just the most adorable kittens you've ever seen? 

Damn straight they are. 

Anyway, the black and white one on the left is Whittaker. The calico is Zephyr. They are my furry, sharp, purrful little babies and I wub them. 

Fast forward to two weeks ago, when my babies turned about a year and a half and I've been settled into my apartment for just a bit longer than that. 

The kitties and I had flown back to Colorado for New Year's, and we had just spent a long day going house to airport to plane to airport to hotel to car to store to home, but we'd finally all made it back to my apartment. I let the kitties out of their kennel and they erupted from the duffle with kitty glee, stretching and meowing. I was exhausted from not having slept the night before (red eye flight) and all I wanted out of life was to take a nap. 

As the cats ate, I hauled the luggage upstairs and, once everything was situated, collapsed on the couch in the living room, my feet up on the glass coffee table. That's right, the coffee table. It was a beautiful coffee table, with wrought golden feet and a long, oval glass top, half an inch thick and beveled and strong enough to stand on. I know that, because I often used it as a step ladder. 

Whittaker, sated into "fat and sassy" mode, came up to see me. When he realized that I was barely conscious, he decided to create his own entertainment by jumping up onto the mantle above the coffee table to attack the baby Jesus in my ceramic nativity scene, because he's an adorable little heathen. I called his name and hauled my tired body upright to grab him and let him down before he broke the infant Savior's other arm off. 

Whit panicked. Knowing he was caught in a place where he's not supposed to be, he attempted to leap down to the floor and escape my grasp. Whittaker has never been the most graceful cat, and the poor little dude tripped over his own feet on the way down. In a markedly un-catlike way, he failed to right himself as he fell and landed, cheekbone-first, on the coffee table. 

The table shattered into a million glittering fragments. Whittaker, a black and white streak of disoriented terror, flew across the landing into the bed room. Zephyr, curious and oblivious as ever, immediately attempted to walk across the shards. Scooping her up and shutting the door behind me, I tracked down Whit to make sure he was okay. Thankfully, he was, though he looked apologetic for days

My Benedict Cumberbatch-sharp cheekbones will destroy everything you love.

I enlisted the help of my neighbors to remove the more outlandishly large and pointy pieces, and swept and mopped and vaccuumed the floor before I let the cats back in. I had a random piece of drywall on my porch, leftover from some hurricane repair, and I laid it across the table's struts. That was ugly as hell, so I put a tablecloth over it. 

And that is the story of why my coffee table is made of drywall. 

One more story. It'll be quick, I promise. 

Just before Thanksgiving, I purchased a new car, flew out to Colorado to pick it up, and roadtripped it back to New Orleans with my mom. We packed a lot of stuff into the car, since it's cheaper to drive it than mail it. One thing we were excited to finally get to transport to my apartment was this gorgeous picture frame that I was going to use to place my Doctor Who poster in a rightfully prestigious setting above my bed. 

The frame made it to New Orleans just fine. It made it upstairs just fine. Mom and I were taking the back off to put my DW poster inside when we learned that this was the most absurdly complicated frame in the history of humankind. It had like three backs and a bunch of little metal pressure gauges that you absolutely had to either remove or not remove, I'm still not sure, and also like sixteen different screws and some wire. We were reverse engineering this remarkably complex frame, and carefully squeezing my poster in and resetting the frame, and suddenly, crack. The pressure on the glass from all our bomb-dismantling cautiousness had caused the glass to shatter. It didn't shatter neatly. There were two large fragments and millions of infinitesimally small fragments. 

Unfortunately, we were in the hallway when this happened, because we'd been using the stairs for leverage. 

Then Zephyr happened. 

I live to make everything you do more difficult. And also hairier. 

Hearing something interesting and exciting happening, she bolted out of the bedroom onto the pile of broken glass. I, horrified that her little feet would soon be filled with painful, minuscule shards, lunged across the pile to sieze her before she reached it. I landed on my knees in the glass, but Zephyr was fine, albiet confused about this new frantic game her mommy was playing with her. 

The part of the story you don't know yet is that I was wearing shorts. My knees, now covered in tiny lacerations, were nestled securely in a pile of shattered glass. I saw to my wounds, but couldn't really see any glass that had been pushed into my skin. I thought maybe I'd gotten off easy. 


A few days later, when my knees had scabbed, I started to itch. I innocently scratched one knee. Under my fingernails, upon inspection, was a long, thin shard of glass. Every time I scratched my knees, I was rewarded with itty bitty pieces of glass that had been embedded in my skin, and was now working its way out of my body as I healed. 

That was six weeks ago. My knees have healed – except for when they itch, and I can yank out a few more pieces of that damn frame. Thanks, cats. 

You're welcome!