30 October 2009

The Return of Mr. Whiskers

I held out as long as I could, I really did.

For weeks, I found excuses for giggling during therapy - knock-knock jokes, lines from sitcoms, bumper stickers. I tried as hard as I could to keep from mentioning how much mental energy I have expended of late thinking about my therapist's cat.

Yesterday, I failed.

I blame my mother.

John's birthday was the 24th, and my mother mentioned something about having a birthday party with the cat, and I mentioned something about giving the cat a party hat, and it went downhill from there. Yesterday, about two-thirds of the way through my hour, I pictured Mr. Whiskers in a party hat, and I lost it. It started with a choked-out laugh, scarcely suppressed.

John raised an eyebrow, clearly wondering what I found so amusing about having boundary issues. I tried to cover my laugh with a cough, but that only made things worse. I found myself wondering if John would say "Bless you" to his cat if the animal sneezed (do cats sneeze?), and I laughed again. Unbidden, the image of John and his cat in matching Christmas sweaters came to mind, and I found myself shaking like a hotel bed with Magic Fingers.

I laughed out loud, more of a bark than anything else, and the dreaded giggle loop came crashing down around me.

I bloody lost it.

John stared for a moment, clearly worried about my sanity. Then, perhaps realizing that as my therapist, he should have a better grasp on my sanity than to simply wonder, he asked me what I found so amusing.

Excuses flooded my mind, each less plausible than the last - I just got a joke I heard yesterday. I figured out the best way to exact revenge on my ex-boyfriend. I'm having a seizure.

Perhaps if I hadn't been trying so hard to come up with an excuse, I could have actually come up with one. But in this sudden surge of brain activity, I lost control over my tongue, and out came the words, "You have a cat!"

Understandably, John didn't see what was so funny about the fact that he owns a cat. I can't blame him. I laughed the laugh of the damned for another minute, and then the tale of Mr. Whiskers came tumbling out of my mouth. The cat's name. The leash. The screensaver. The matching Christmas sweaters.

John seemed particularly offended at that last bit. "Oh, gosh, no!" he exclaimed, and I could see him racking his brain, trying to figure out what he may have ever said to me to make me think that he was the sort of man to put a sweater on a cat.

I gave him the first excuse I could think of. I blamed my mother.

"She's a sick woman," I blurted out. "She needs medication!"

He raised an eyebrow, which gave him a rather unintelligent look owing to the fact that his mouth was still open, as it had been since I brought up the topic of cat sweaters.

"I don't know what's wrong with her," I continued. "It's got to be her ADD!"

John managed to compose himself at last. "Does she do that sort of thing often?" he asked. "Just take a topic and go off on it?"

I thought about that for a moment. "Yes," I lied.

I'm not sure if he believed me or not. He didn't seem to, but I could tell that he wanted to, that he would rather believe me than accept the fact that after working with me for four years, I am still mentally disturbed enough to spend the better part of two months imagining his life with his cat.

After the tale (no pun intended) came out, there was a moment or two of awkward silence, during which, I believe, John and I made a tacit agreement never to speak of Mr. Whiskers again. Then he asked me how long I'd been seeing him, and I cheerfully told him it's been four years.

I think a little bit of him died when I said that. I could see a bit of light leave his eyes. I smiled more widely. It is slightly perverse, I'll admit, but the truth is that, as much progress as I have made since 2005, I didn't feel I'd accomplished very much until just then, when I realized that, whether he liked it or not, John would never be able to forget me for the rest of his life.

And if I'm not mistaken, he's learned an important lesson about sharing bits of his personal life during an hour that someone else is paying for. And that, my friends, is progress.

23 October 2009

Birthday Blog

So. It's my birthday. I'm 26.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, I am now firmly out of my early twenties and smack dab in that comfortable mid-twenties age bracket where you are neither too young for things nor too old for them.

On the other hand, I don't think that anyone aspires to be mid-twenties, single, unemployed, and living with mom.

In my defense, I've had a rather busy year. I got dumped, fired, and pregnant, my dad died, my car broke down four times, and I placed my baby for adoption. I think I can be forgiven for taking a little time for myself to figure things out.

Part of me feels that, at my age, I should know what I want to do with my life. I thought I did, actually. But the more I look into certain degree programs, the less excited I get about going back to school. I'm not even going to get in to the cost of ASU.

At the moment, I have an AGS, a cosmetology license, and a notary commission for the state of Arizona. I sort of like that none of those things are the least bit related. It makes for an interesting resume. I've considered spending the next few years getting more interesting little certifications and qualifications, just so I could print up the world's strangest business cards. For instance, I'm considering learning to drive a forklift. How cool would that be if my business card said "Jill Elizabeth. Hairstylist, notary, forklift operator"?

(Pardon me while I have a strange interlude. It bothers me that I can't ever remember whether in cases like the preceding I should put the question mark inside or outside the quotation marks. I think I'm doing it wrong, but it doesn't look right when I do it the other way. Grr. Okay, end interlude.)

I've also recently got it into my head to become a CNA. And a pharmacy technician. And I'd love to learn stunt driving. And get a masters in social work - which of course means I'd have to first get a bachelor's in social work.

None of this has anything to do with my birthday, does it? I've slept seven hours in two days (I've been doing school presentations for LDSFS, and high school classes are early) so I have the attention span of a fruit bat at the moment.

But it's my birthday, and if I want to ramble, I'll ramble.

I have a personal history of bad birthdays. I had good ones as a child, but the older I got, the worse my birthdays became. I think it was my eighth birthday party when one of my friends convinced another two of my friends that none of them liked me anymore.

There was one year when I was late getting home to a family party, and I arrived to find that my relatives had eaten most of my cake without me. No candles, no singing. There was the year I was in a car accident. The year I started taking antidepressants. The year everyone but my parents seemed to have forgotten my birthday. The year I failed my driving test. The year my college roommate's bad hygiene made the dorm room smell like excrement. The year my mom was in the hospital for gallstones. The year I was in beauty school learning exactly how little talent I had for doing highlights. The year I had to work at the salon for ten hours all by myself. The year my dad had cancer. And last year, when I found out I was pregnant.

Happy birthday? Not possible.

This year's been pretty good, actually. I think partly because I had such low expectations, but there you are. I had to wake up early to do two more school presentations, but then I had brunch with a friend and then relaxed and played a video game and read a bit and went shopping and went out to dinner with my mother and came home to watch TV and chill.

Not the most exciting birthday in the world by anyone's standards. But nothing horrible happened and except for my birthday migraine, I feel alright. So far my 27th year is off to a dull start. But on the upside, dull is better than bad, and I did get a free Grand Slam.

19 October 2009

On the Upside, There Were No Mountain Lions

I don't usually use this blog to talk about specifics of my life or what I've been up to lately. I have another blog for that, and it is appropriately pathetic. But I just got back from a trip to Tucson and suffice it to say that an acid trip would have been less upsetting.

I got directions to the hotel from the hotel's website. It was fairly specific, down to the fact that one road would change names after I'd been on it a few miles. However, it then specified that I needed to stay on said road with changed name, so when I was on Skyline and saw that I needed to turn left to stay on Skyline (the road was, just for the hell of it, changing names again, which the website didn't mention), I turned left. There are a number of places in Tucson where, for reasons unknown, the same street intersects itself. Skyline intersects Skyline, Sabino Canyon intersects Sabino Canyon, and Kolb runs parallel to Kolb in one place. Sort of a nexus-of-the-universe thing.

I should not have turned left. As it turns out, I needed to stay on Sunrise, which was once Skyline, which was once Ina. It would have been nice if the website had mentioned that.

But Jill, you might say, how hard could it have been to find a giant resort built into the side of a mountain? And perhaps I could have found it by myself had it been daylight. But this was Tucson, and for reasons I can't explain, they aren't big on things like streetlights or signs or roads that go in straight lines or roads that actually lead somewhere. But they especially hate lights - I have never been in a darker city. I think there may be some sort of city ordinance where no one is allowed to use anything brighter than a ten-watt light bulb, even outside. The hotel wasn't lit up and the street wasn't lit up.

After an hour or so of trying to find my way around Tucson, I found the hotel. My mother checked into the hotel. It's supposed to be this luxury resort. Well, I don't know where all the money goes, but it isn't into their electric bill. We drove around the hotel for ten minutes trying to find the parking lot by our room, but again, it was too dark to see where I was going. We returned to the lobby area and one of the valets drove a golf cart in front of us to show us where to go.

The hotel is quite literally built into the side of a mountain. Our room, which had an outdoor entrance, faced this:

My mother was afraid that a mountain lion was going to come down and eat us. I was more concerned about the unusually large cockroaches, several of which seemed to be enjoying the lack of light around the hotel. We got into our room. My mother claimed one bed, so I went to the other one. It had hair on it. I don't mean two or three long hairs. It looked like this all over the bed:

Apparently, the Wolfman is on the housekeeping staff. I am highly allergic to dogs and their fur, but Loews prides itself on being a pet-friendly chain of hotels, which apparently means dogs are allowed to frolic in freshly-cleaned rooms. I found hairs in the bathroom as well. The front desk was called, and hell was raised. I got fresh bedding. I inspected it closely for more mystery hairs. It seemed to be okay so I went to bed. I was looking forward to seeing Tucson during the day. Unfortunately, the money and marketing conference my mother and I were attending went from 8:30am to 5:30pm, so by the time we got out, it was too dark to do anything. I gave up on having any sort of good time and commenced drawing cartoons in my notebook.

We checked in on Wednesday night, and while I was waiting for housekeeping to de-fur my bed, I looked out on the balcony. There was a grassy sort of area outside the patio and a woman was walking one of those nasty little furry crap machines - pomegranates or whatever they're called. So on Saturday night, when I heard a strange grunting bark outside, I figured someone else was walking a dog out there. But the dog sounded sick. Really sick. And angry. I opened the curtains to see what sort of dog it was.

It wasn't a dog. It was a pack of javelinas. Javelinas, or collared peccaries, are a sort of wild desert hog. They are alarmingly large and noisy, and they were hungry. I'm an idiot, so I went out on the patio with my camera. Of course, it was too dark to get a good shot. Not because it was night time, but because there are about two light bulbs lighting up the whole of the outer hotel.

I saw the javis again in the parking lot on the way to find a Denny's. I almost ran one over with my mother's Highlander. But the car's headlights illuminated them a bit better, and I got this picture:

Apparently, my mother should have been more concerned about javelinas than about mountain lions. There was also a frog by the ice machine, and a coati by the swimming pool, and of course the world's largest cockroach hanging out on the stairs, and a few grasshoppers that were determined to gain entry into our room. The mountains are indeed beautiful, but it was all just a bit too much nature for me.

I've decided I hate Tucson. I don't ever want to go back. Maybe someday, if they decide to invest in lighting. But I'm getting a room inside, and I'm taking a gun in case the javelinas get aggressive.

05 October 2009

Happy Anniversary! You're Crazy.

Tomorrow is kind of a big day for me. Kind of.

It's also sort of depressing. Tomorrow is the four-year anniversary of my being in therapy (with this particular therapist, anyway). This is depressing for several reasons, two of which are that 1) my relationship with John is the longest I've ever had with anyone to whom I am not related, and 2) it's been 4 years, and I am still in therapy.

I mentioned the anniversary to John last Thursday at our session. He wasn't sure of the date. He unearthed my file, which is dangerously thick.

He rifled through a heavy stack of session notes to the last page. "Four years," he said. I wondered if he was thinking what I was, which is that I'm not sure what it says about his skills as a therapist that I am still seeing him four years later, and I'm not quite 26 so how screwed up can I really be yet that I need four years of therapy?

He then asked me what sorts of things I felt I still needed to work on. I'm sure he was thinking along the lines of grieving my father's death and my baby's adoption and the anger I have at my ex.

But what I was thinking to myself, that I almost blurted out, was, "I have a problem, John, and it is a big one. I have spent more time wondering about you and your cat than I have spent on anything else this week."

I didn't say that, of course. I thought about it - several times I thought about it, throughout my session. And at one point I actually laughed out loud about it. John asked what was so funny and I had to make something up to keep from telling him that every time I drive past a pet supply store I picture him inside pushing his cat up and down the aisles in a shopping cart.

I told him what I felt I still needed to work on, and he said something about how those were valid issues, blah blah blah, and as he spoke I pictured him discussing boundary issues with his cat.

I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this up. Eventually I am going to have to tell him about the cat problem, and I'm not sure how he'll react. I'm hoping he will find it funny and we can have a good laugh about it and move on.

I am terrified that he will feel the need to give me details to set me straight on the subject. I know too much already. What if I discover something even more distracting? What am I going to do then?

I think it's probably a good thing that, four years later, I am still in therapy. I seem to need it.