Monday, March 29, 2010

Ninja Kitty

Currently Reading: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Current Playlist: "Odelay" by Beck

"I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
Death thought about it."Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."
--Terry Pratchett

Allow me to introduce Navi, our ninja cat:

No, she is not named after the alien race in "Avatar." Everyone asks me that when I tell them we have a cat.
"Aw, what kind is it? What's its name?"
"She's a little gray tabby, and her name is Navi."
Interest immediately shoots through the roof. "You mean like Avatar?!?"
"No," I reply completely deadpan. "Not at all."
We didn't see Avatar until a month after we brought Navi home. She's actually named after the
fairy in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time game. . . . yeah, super nerdy, we know . . .

Anyways . . .
Two months after the wedding, we brought an eight week old kitten in our apartment, completely unaware that the adorable, playful ball of fur possessed superior ninja abilities. She started pouncing early on. First it was cute, a little kitten, feeling all stealthly-like, wiggling her butt as she prepared for the pounce. Four months later, it's a full out assault. First, she'll vanish. You'll hear her four little feet pounding across the apartment, then silence. You turn the corner, and she's flying through the air, forepaws spread wide, then latch onto your ankle only to bound away and disappear again.

As a kitten, she'd hide behind the papasan chair and jump up and down, trying to bat my ponytail. Now, she's discovered she can fit behind the headboard of our bed, stick her paws through, and grab a pawful of hair or tap unsuspecting fingers. She loves the surprise attacks.

The other night, Chris and I are talking in bed, about to do our evening reading, no cat in sight. Then suddenly "PLOP!" Navi falls out of the sky and lands squarely between Chris's legs, tail waving madly. She was locked up early that night.

As I type this, a pair of oversized, tuffted ears peek over the other side of the table. Then come the eyes. It's like watching Jaw's dorsal fin skim the water. Any moment now, she'll leap onto the table, bound across it, and hop onto my shoulders. When I'm on the computer she prefers shoulders or the keyboard. I wouldn't mind except that sometimes she uses my shoulders as a launching pad.
You see, she's discovered how to get onto the kitchen counter. Half the time, she asks permission. She crawls onto the table or chair, balancing on the edge, and then she looks at me eyes wide. "Meow?"
"No, absolutely not."
She wobbles. "Meow??"
"No, nuh-uh. Get down."
She looks from me to the counter and back, and tries one last time, imploringly. "Meow????"
And she hops down with a huff, and sits at my feet.

Earlier today, Chris and I were cleaning the kitchen, chatting about childhood toys and all that (Star Action Figures or LEGOS anyone?) when suddenly Chris's expression morphs into horror and he launched forward. "NAVI!!! NO!!!!"
I turn, and there is our cat, dangling precariously from a casserole dish. "Meow??"
The dish inches towards the edge of the counter, and Chris and I grab it. Navi only hangs there, claws scraping the edge of the dish, eyes wild. "Meow???"
She glances from the counter to the ground and back again, then slowly lowers herself to the ground with a "plop." She glares at us, ears twitching, then prances back into the gameroom where she can regain her dignity in peace.

She has to do that a lot, regain her dignity.

She's glaring at me while I type this. I wonder if she knows it's about her . . .

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Into the Wild Bog Yonder . . .

Currently Reading: Green by Ted Dekker
Current Playlist: "Demon Days" by the Gorillaz

The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a Wilderness.
--Havelock Ellis

Chris has a way of making birthdays memorable.
Not long after my 19th, he asked me out . . . then wished me a "Happy Birthday!" a month late because he sincerely had the wrong b-day information. Poor fellow . . . he was so proud of remembering, too.
For my 20th, we went to the beach, and his sisters threw me a little surprise party.
For my 21st, I was in London . . . but he sent me Skype wishes, a dragonfly necklace (my favorite insect) and my favorite movie that year, Across the Universe. Mom also came halfway across the world. Yay Mom!
For my 22nd, he surprised me with a sunset picnic at the beach, a shuttle launch, and, oh yeah, a proposal. No big deal, right? -.^

There's not much that can top a proposal, and I wasn't expecting anything huge. I'm a simple person, and I hate making demands. No, all I wanted for my 23rd birthday was an "adventure."
I'd been couped up inside the apartment or behind a circ desk at work for too long, watching the winter "chill" melt to beautiful, and I was over it. Out. I needed out. I love the woods, I love walking, so . . . hiking, I said. I had seen pictures on a friend's facebook of the manatees in Blue Springs. Ah, perhaps canoeing then? Something out of doors. Anything. So I told him, and I prayed the sudden, daily torrential downpours would vanish for my birthday. It did. :)
Chris opted for the hiking--Blue Springs, as fun as that might be, didn't host a great hiking trail. Just boardwalks, he told me, and there was a chance that there would be no manatees. Ah, bummer. Yes, a real trail was what we needed.

There was a problem, though. A problem neither of us really understood at that moment. You see, in my mind, a trail is a pleasant, cleared path, taking only an hour or two to stroll through. Maybe a few logs and rocks to hop over, but that only makes it more fun. I like climbing on things. Something dry. Something pleasant. Something not at all risky. For Chris, it meant blazing a your own trail. Path not necessary. Boardwalks laughable. Adventure at its pique. You see where I'm going with this?

I agreed to do a five mile trail . . . you know, the path kind that's easy to follow. Five miles, I thought, I could do five miles easy. I'm sure I walked at least that far for fun back at my parents. Five miles, no big.

No big. Uh-huh. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

We arrive, and the first thing we notice, besides the gopher tortises lounging about, is the bathroom's are locked. Actually the entire reserve facility is locked. Luckily, that wasn't an issue that afternoon . . . but it might have been. There was no way in heaven or earth I was unloading ANYTHING into BUSHES. I'm no priss, but indoor plumbing is one of the few modern conviences I require.

Chris started down a trail, and it wasn't long before I was beating palm branches out of my face and dodging gobs of muck. Remember the torrential downpours? Yeah, they'd left their mark, and it wasn't pretty. At all. Especially when you're wearing the only pair of jeans that didn't meet an untimely dryer death. If I had looked up to see any scenery, it would have been pretty. Instead all I saw was muck, branches, and the frequent sign preaching the evils of the wicked, non-native air potato. So, I asked Chris to find a clearer path . . . or an actual path . . . any path. Ok, more liked begged. You can only dodge so many muck pits before you lose all will to continue.
Being the brilliant navigator and wilderness man that he is, Chris easily found a new path, this one clear and along a beautiful river. I love water. Having rivers, lakes, or the ocean nearby make long walks all the more awesome.

That path eventually led to a road, which led us to a boardwalk through a bog (YAY BOARDWALK!!!) and, eventually, to the beautiful Lake Jessup. I cannot begin to describe how pretty it was. A Great Blue Heron flew lazily overhead; egrets wading in the shallows. A family of ospreys wheeled over the treetops . . . dodging the flock of buzzards passing through. The sky was clear, the water was blue.

There are little places like that where you realize how pretty Florida really is . . . and then your husband breaks the mood by mentioning how this little spot of paradise is infested with gators.

I HATE gators--the kind of hate that springs from terror. I don't mind snakes, lizards, toads, or little gators. Heck, I love creepy crawlers. I'm just bothered by the big things that hide underwater, sneak up on you, and pounce, visciously, without warning, gobbling you to your doom. They make gators villians in movies for a reason. They're scary. "They're more scared of you than you are of them," people say. Pffft. Yeah right.

We start back, and things became . . . interesting. Chris found a short cut. There's something about men and short cuts that always turns out badly for the women in their lives. It starts off by the trail literally disappearing into a marsh. "Chris, this isn't a trail."

"Sure it is. Look, they laid logs down for us to cross on." He pointed to a tree trunk, collasped hapazardly over the marsh.
Uh-huh . . yeah, that looks like it was totally on purpose . . . or not . . .

He was right, in the end. It WAS a trail . . . a trail that had been turned into a flooded bog. The river had risen with the rains, and this path was all but swallowed. At first that was almost ok. I don't mind mud, in fact, I like getting messy . . . just not in my only pair of jeans. I might have gotten past that, though, if Chris hadn't found the sign. It was a sign like all the others on nature trails: information on local wildlife. This was information on very prominent Florida wildlife. The wildlife with scales, teeth, and a nasty disposition. "Hey look! Haha! A sign for gators! And on the path you can't run on! Haha!" Chris said.

Wait? What?!

Initiate Female Freak Session. Now.
I wailed. I snapped. I got mad. I was beyond terrified. Poor Chris. He was being the perfect gentleman, too. Went first on the path to find the dryest way, held out his hand to help me balance my footing, reassured me that everything was just fine, he wouldn't let anything happen to me. Nothing stopped my pleas to turn back. All I could think of were these key points leading to our certain doom:
  • Gators
  • No one knows we're here--they can't look for us if we're lost . . . if they ever realize we're lost . . .
  • Gators
  • Gators
Poor, poor, Chris, perfectly chivalrous and trustworthy, and I couldn't appreciate that with my life in danger. He thought I was just whining about the mud more than usual; he had absolutely NO idea I was scared. It never occured to me to actually say, "Hey, Hun, I'm terrified. Can we please turn around?" I thought my body language and tone were communicating that more than effectively. Just differences between guys and girls, I guess.

Since I'm writing this, now, you know that I didn't become gator bait. Chris was right: it was a path, it just became more flooded than dry as it went on. We were fine. He wasn't going to take me anywhere he thought could be truly dangerous. I just had to trust him . . . and I didn't I've learned my lesson, though . . . and I think he's finally figured out how much I hate gators. -.^

He took me out to a nice dinner that night, so, really, I got the best of both worlds. A memorable, and honestly, really fun hiking trip with my husband that I can't wait to repeat (honest! I can't wait to go back now that we know what we're doing) and a lovely evening out where I didn't have to cook or clean. Chris told me all about his childhood summers in Sanibel, hunting, and deep sea fishing--a place I've never been and things I've never done but would love to try . . . at least the fishing part. I don't know if I could kill Bambi. Really awesome evening, and a really wonderful day all in all.

Thanks for the adventure, love. It really was fantastic. And oh the memories!

Wilderness Man Victorious!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Marriage, Part-Times, and Other Oddities

Currently Reading: The Good Neighbors - Kin by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh
Current Playlist: "Everybody" by Ingrid Michaelson

I used to believe that marriage would diminish me, reduce my options. That you had to be someone less to live with someone else when, of course, you have to be someone more.
--Candice Bergen

To be perfectly honest, there are moments when I forget I'm married, even after six months of rummaging around in the same space as my husband.
Not the "Oh hey he's cute, lemme ask for his number" forget I'm married. The "Oh my gosh! There's a MAN in my bed!" forget. I see pictures of Chris on facebook and go "Aw my boyfriend's a hottie . . . wait . . ." *glance down at left hand* "Husband. My HUSBAND is a hottie, haha. Wow, that actually happened."

I asked Chris if it still strikes him as odd. He just smiled, nodded. "Yeah, it's a new realization sometimes. I'm so lucky."
And then I melt to a puddle at his feet.

Life's established its own rhythm. We work, we clean, I cook, we sleep, begin all over again. It feels perfectly natural. I go back to my parents and I jump back into "Sister Sarah" mode, as if I never left. We go to Chris's parents, and it's just like we were dating again. Still no going into his old bedroom by ourselves with the door closed . . . personally, I think we're waaaay past that. I mean, the man did marry me. We walk out to his car after visiting family, and I have to stop myself from kissing him goodnight and going right back through my parents' door. I'm used to driving away, back to the apartment, now. It just took a while. It's weird.

Some days, it feel like my path has been laid out before: marriage, cook, work, produce spawn, cook some more, feed spawn, clean some more, change spawn's soiled goods, cook and clean some more, die. I see my friends heading off to grad school, travelling, starting careers, and here I am: a part-time library clerk, a B.A. possessor who doesn't know what the crap to do with it, an insignificant speck. People told me I'd do great things. I hated that statement then--Do what? How? What do you expect? Now, I just cringe. There are days where I wake up and feel like a complete failure. It's the 21st century--women are supposed to do more than homemaking, right? I look at my cooking and see June Cleaver smiling back at me out of the casserole. Oh gracious. There's more to life, isn't there? Oh please tell me there's more than pots, cakes, babies, diapers, and teenagers.

Then God thumps me over the head. What do I mean "Is there MORE"?! Of course there is! But there's more right where I am now. I don't have to be Hillary Clinton or Oprah Winfrey to be someone special (and thank God for that!)

God has given me so much. He gave me Chris. He gave me the part-time. He allowed to me not KILL my husband through accidentally FOOD POISONING or whatever else I could have screwed up in the kitchen . . . in fact, He allowed my husband to actually LOVE what I cook. He gave me everything I am and everything HE is. That's a lot. That's a whooooole motherload of a lot. And to whom much is given, much is required. I don't know what that "much" is yet . . . but maybe one day I'll know. If not, it's ok. I may never rewrite history or be anything other than me, and that's ok. It's an honor to do what I do, it really is. It's a gift just to live, to try, to have someone beside me through it all.

Mother Teresa said:"We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love." It's true, because, sometimes, everything feels so very, very small. And that's all right.

So for now, I'll focus on the little things . . . and on not being freaked out by the man in my bed.