Introducing: The New Boss of Me

Louie05Everyone, I would like you to meet Mr. Walter Louis White.

His name WASN’T my idea. I have never seen Breaking Bad in my life, but my parents have, and since they were his foster parents for a couple days, they decided on Walter White. When he became mine, I picked his middle name, and that’s what he goes by: Louie.

As the January entry of my 2014 New Years Resolution, “Do Something New Every Month,” Mr. Louie is featured as “Adopt a Cat” – which, if you’ve read my full Bucket List & Resolutions, you will see that this also crosses off a life goal as well!

Living with Louie has certainly been an adventure, and it’s only been two and a half weeks since he moved in. He’s taught me invaluable life lessons about kitty ownership that I think ought to be shared.

1. Cats are not like dogs.

Yes, this is common knowledge. But try going from being a dog person for most of your life to living completely alone for over two years, and then getting a cat. I’m used to dogs. Floor dwellers. Silent unless commanded to speak, or a leaf flutters in the wind. Teachable, out-smartable. The bigger the dog, the more protection against intruders. Not so with felines. It didn’t take long to figure out that there is nothing out of Louie’s reach unless it is behind a closed door. Also, I learned rather quickly that Louie does not tend to come when he’s called, as do most dogs. And, it was immediately apparent that Louie likes to talk – A LOT. And not much will get him to stop (“Louie! Hush!” hasn’t worked yet, though for some reason I keep trying. He just sasses me right back.)

2. You don’t train cats. They train you.

After I figured out that my space is Louie’s space, there needed to be some immediate changes. This realization came after I watched him dance around my dirty dishes on the kitchen counter the first night he was home. I could have scolded and punished him for being on the counter, but what good would that do since he has free reign to go wherever he wants to while I’m at work? So after a couple of incidences where I had to chase him out of the dishes, the laundry, the stack of mail, and the pile of shoes, it was clear that Louie’s first training session for me was titled “Don’t want me in it? Put it away.” Needless to say, my house was spotless in a couple of days.

Louie also has a very strict timeline as to when meals ought to be served to him. Yes, he instilled this timeline himself. For example, he is under the impression that breakfast is served NO LATER THAN 7:30 every morning. Even on Saturdays. Sleeping in is for dog owners. As soon as my alarm goes off at 7:00, he is on my chest, staring into my soul with those big ice blue eyes, and says, “MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM.” until I either body slam him into the mattress, or finally shuffle halfheartedly into the kitchen to measure out his 1/3 cup of Kitty Kibbles. And then he takes two stinking bites and then goes off to play with his little mousey toy.

Jerk.

3. Catnip is crack for cats.

Louie, when he’s not hungry or grumpy, is a pretty chill dude. He is very fond of naps, and cuddling, and he’s not very active (hence the carefully measured diet). His pastimes include scratching his cardboard box and scratch mat, and kneading my furniture. And he likes to follow me around the house and talk – nonstop.

That’s when I pull out the catnip.

The dude goes BONKERS. For like 5 minutes. Then he gets tired, and falls asleep again.

4. Purring is good for the soul.

There’s something about it that is like magic. Maybe it’s just my lonely heart bonding with the nearest living creature, but there’s something about a warm cat curled up on my chest, head tucked under my chin, purring low and slow like a motor boat that just washes the stress of the day away.

Louie iphoneAll that to say, my “Do Something New” entry has turned into a bond of true love. Louie may be a narcissistic, food-hoarding, carpet-scratching catnip addict who thinks he’s the boss of me, but who’s to say that’s not exactly what I need in my life right now? He’s officially a member of the Emma Dilemma family.

And I love him.

 

 

 

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It was fun, but I’m glad it’s over.

I for one am happy to see 2013 disappear into the history books.

Not for any particular, profound, deeply reflective reason, but to me the year change is a nice reminder that no matter what happened, life moves on. As Victor Kiam said, even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward.

I fell on my face a few times last year. It really hurt, and it hurt people around me too, but made standing back up all the more worthwhile. Let us pause and look back on a few of the moments that made 2013 memorable:

  • Graduation from college with an Associates of Science and an Associates of Arts (and 3.69 GPA – not too shabby)
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  • Weddings – I was the maid of honor (for the first time!) in one, crashed another, and caught the bouquet in a third.
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  • I traveled to Nashville, Pennsylvania, and San Antonio. (Some favorite moments included going to the Grand Ole Opry, meeting my cousins’ children, and taking my mom on a roller coaster, respectively).
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  • Photography: I bought a camera, and quickly realized that I was over my head. However, with a little practice and some coaching, I discovered a true passion for portraits and close-up photography. (I also learned how much I love COLORS.)
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  • I started a blog. Thanks to all of you wonderful people who read it, I’ve kept writing. And I still can’t believe you’re still reading.
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I lost friends, won back some old ones, and gained a few new ones. I broke a heart, and I broke a car (to my knowledge, at least one of those has been repaired). I learned a lot about myself, and a lot of it surprised me. I discovered the strength of family and the power of a hug. I realized what it takes to be a true friend. I found freedom in forgiveness. And I was humbled by how much I need grace…

But for 2014, I’m ready for a year of discovery, exploration, adventure, and anticipation…
I want to take leaps of faith, even when they’re scary.
I want to make active choices for the life that I’m living NOW, not for the life I want to fall into my lap.
I want to work harder, push further, love deeper, and pray longer.
I want to enjoy the moment without my phone.
I want to look into my friends’ eyes and hear their hearts, not their news feeds.
I want to have stories to tell, songs to sing, moments to remember!
I want to enjoy contentedness with all that I have been abundantly blessed.
I want to learn how to love life as a process, not an event.

Beyond all of this, I want to become stronger in my faith and weaker in myself, and remember every day that without Him, I’d have no hope. No matter what year it is or season of life I’m in, He is still good and sovereign and on His throne.

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

– Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-15 (ESV)

Is it wrong to eat my mother?

It started out so well…

As I faced the Great Texas Icepocalypse of 2013, I knew I had two options: stay at my own house alone where I would eventually die of boredom and be eaten by a pack of wild, rabid dogs, OR stay with my parents and eat warm meals, watch endless games of football, and spend quality time with my mother. I opted for the latter. And besides, it was only supposed to last a couple of days.

It was going to be the perfect mother-daughter bonding time. I could already smell the buttery cinnamon wafting out of the oven, and hear the fire crackling in the woodstove and the tinkling laugher as we merrily hung the ornaments on the tree together, reminiscing over every cotton ball and popsicle stick ornament from my childhood.

It started out SO well…

Day 1.

I woke up like I was in an Ambien commercial. Refreshed, energized, and practically glowing from warm, restful sleep under an electric blanket. The scent of fresh coffee hit me before my feet hit the cold floor, and as I entered the living room, my mother called to me from the kitchen with a bright and cheerful “Hi there, honey!”

Heaven.

Though the weather outside was frightful, we had a beautiful day. Like the good daughter, I took the dogs out so my mom didn’t have to brave the cold. In return, she made homemade blueberry muffins. We cozied in on the couch, and had deep heart-to-heart discussions about love, faith, and healthy living.

Day 2.

No fresh muffins…

No worries, I ate the remnants from yesterday’s breakfast. Mom and I chatted a bit about the weather. We stayed inside. It was quiet.

The ice had compacted and solidified overnight, so it was clear that my stay with my parents would be a little longer than expected.

We eventually decided to watch a movie. Bridget Jones Diary kept us entertained and laughing for a good 2 hours, and then it was quiet again. Only 6 hours until bedtime… We were confined to the main living area of the house because it was the only one with heat, so we were grateful that we got along so well. Braving the cold, we went outside to take pictures of ice to post on all of our social media and spent the rest of the day scrolling through thousands of other filtered Instagram photos of merry sledders and icicles on rooftops.

Day 3.

We ran out of milk. Our morning greetings were reduced to low grunts.

The ice froze on, but our cheery dispositions slowly melted away over the long hours of confinement. I took a long hot shower for the sake of alone time. Our entertainment consisted of mocking each other.

Day 4.

All attempts at personal hygiene were abandoned. Roads were still impassible. Considered walking the 7 miles to my house. Leftover spaghetti for breakfast. Took turns chasing the cat out of the half-decorated Christmas tree. Sick of the living room. Stopped talking to each other. Spent the evening working on a jigsaw puzzle and bottle of wine. She finished one of them without me.

Day 5. (Today)

Contemplated cannibalism. Tried to chop up the ice on the back porch for fun. Didn’t work, gave up. Battery life on phone back down to 20% after refreshing Facebook 375,284 times. Argued with mom over how to properly scramble an egg. Wondered how long it would take wild, rabid dogs to consume an entire corpse.

The ice is threatening to melt… Kinda.

This has been such a great practice run for NEXT weekend when my mom and I will spend 4 days together in San Antonio for my birthday. We are still excited about the trip (The Hobbit, SeaWorld, and Riverwalk, oh my!), but this time we will be sharing a bedroom… Hilarity ahead…

Stay tuned…

Family is like granola….

We’re just a bunch of nuts, fruits and flakes.

This weekend I’m spending time in southern Pennsylvania with my mothers family.

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Since I haven’t been up here in about 6 years, this trip was bound to be interesting. 3 of my cousins had gotten married and there are now 3 little cousins and one on the way. My grandma has had Alzheimer’s for 2 7 years, and my grandpa has dementia. My aunt and mom tend to dress alike. Since I’ve been here, my mom has started calling me by my aunt’s name, Nancy.

Sigh.

I had pretty high hopes on the flight up, but I’ve got to admit, it was weird seeing my cousins again for the first time in so long. It was like I know you, but I don’t know you, should I hug you? Oh, high five. Okay, I can handle that. Whoa, that’s your 4 year old kid….

My mom was getting on to me for not using my people skills and getting my cousins to talk to me, but how do you say, “hey, I’ve creeped you on Facebook for the last 6 years, so I have a general idea of who you are/what you do, but do you mind filling in the gaps for me?”

The best part of being here so far is meeting Addie. She is the smartest almost-four-year-old I have ever met, and stinking hilarious. I was playing with her for nearly an hour the day she got here, and every time her princess horse got into a catastrophe, she would say, “oh, that’s too bad.”

I’ll be here until Tuesday, so stay tuned. For now, I’m going to go surprise my grandma (again) that I’m here in Pennsylvania to see her.