As I get older, my hair get darker and curlier and I’ve been losing weight lately, all of which makes me look more and more like photos of my grandmother when she was young. I looked in the mirror a few minutes ago and was struck by it. I always looked a bit like her, but it’s gettin’ a little scary now.

Occasionally that bothers me, because that means that when I’m old, I may resemble a plump, curly-haired bulldog–see Elizabeth Cady Stanton for a dead ringer*–but at the moment, I’m cool with it. Grandma buried more husbands than the Battle of Waterloo. She coulda handled this crap without even breaking a sweat.

*http://userblogs.free-radio.de/media/ElizabethCadyStanton.jpg except that Grandma’d never be caught dead in that dress.

One thing I’ve realized–partly with art, and partly with emotional tribulations–is that while Freud may have been out to lunch on a lot of things, that bit with the subconscious was spot on.

I make only the vaguest of plans on what to do next. Get a job? Well, maybe I should start looking… Get an apartment? Well, maybe next weekend I’ll go look with a friend… 

And then somebody who obviously knows what they’re doing, who apparently lives in my skull, but doesn’t see fit to talk to me, idily flips through the apartment guide and finds a number and calls it, and then finds the next number and calls it, and three hours later I have an apartment. I go up to the art supply store for illo board, with a vague notion of saying “Hey, are you taking applications?” when I check out, and the next thing I know, I’ve found the manager, pled my case, and been hired.

I am not planning this stuff. I am not thinking about it or obsessing over it. I just get a vague notion of something to do…maybe in the future…and then I seem to go and do it. I have no motivation, if that makes sense. I am not thinking, or making careful lists, or anything else. Left to my own devices, I would probably just mope and start and abandon paintings, but apparently I am not being left to my own devices.

Somebody is obviously driving the bus, but I’m not entirely sure that it’s the me that I generally think of when I say “me.”

It’s a little like painting, where I don’t think about where to put brush strokes, I just put them down where they go. Apparently the painting brain decided that the thinking brain wasn’t any damn good at the moment and unobtrusively took over the big important things, like “getting a job” and “getting a place to live.” Thinking brain can mope around on the upper tier of Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs all it wants, but painting brain figures that somebody’s gotta make sure we’re fed and don’t die of exposure.*

And have art supplies, of course.

Obviously this makes me sound seriously batshit insane, and I hasten to add that I am not suffering from any overly trendy mental disorders. It’s just…peculiar.

If anything, I’m just glad that somebody in here seems to know what the hell they’re doing.

*Ben would probably bring me dead mice, but you can only make mouseloaf so many days in a row.

I am often skeptical of the vaunted emotional sensitivity of animals, largely because I have had some really obtuse animals in my day.  That many are hypersensitive to body language and can tell when a human’s depressed, I have no problems with, but for every ministering angel of the animal kingdom you can show me, I can find a dog startled by its own farts.

Athena, for example, is utterly clueless about recent tensions, since her life is entirely occupied by the hated presence of The Enemy.

Ben, however, has apparently figured out that something’s up. While I do not expect felines to be interested or aware of the social dynamics of hominids, he’s apparently decided that A) something’s up, and therefore B) I must be accompanied at all times. Possibly he has me on some kind of one-cat suicide watch, or maybe he figures the tension is ninja-related and is on extra high alert. From his usual role as bathroom paladin, he’s expanded to four or five hugs a day, and as soon as I go upstairs, he’s on the steps, watching to make sure that no ninjas push me down the staircase on my return journey.  I’m at the computer, Ben tucks himself into meatloaf-position nearby and keeps an eye on things, with frequent visits to the lap to make sure that the keyboard’s not gettin’ uppity. If I’m on the couch, within five minutes, Ben is also on the couch. (Ninjas can often be found rooting for spare change among the couch cushions.) This becomes awkward, as Ben takes up a great deal of couch, and James often gets exiled down to the far end, since Ben does not approve of being manhandled by monkeys.

At night, since I’m bedding down in the den at the moment, as soon as I’m down, Ben makes one last round, grabs a light snack, and then comes in and pours himself into the space between my feet. He drapes a front leg across my right ankle and reclines like a Roman emperor. And there he stays, for eight hours or more. If I decide to sleep on my side because my foot is asleep from–to use an example completely and totally at random–a sixteen pound cat draped over my ankle, he tucks himself up behind my knees. Other than that, he does not move. Any shifts in position are conducted around him, like a furry cinderblock. He never used to sleep with us–possibly James twitched his feet too much–but this is now Ben’s post. Ninjas beware!

About the only things that distract him from his duties are food and somebody carelessly leaving butter uncovered on the counter, his latest vice.

Ben’s Big Adventure

So today while I was out at the NC Webcomics Coffee Clatch, I get a panicked call from James. “Ben’s outside. How do I get him back in?”

Apparently in a fit of sudden madness, Ben bolted out the door as James was going outside, and took off across the yard. James gave chase in terror, thinking something to the effect that Ursula might well forgive murder, kidnapping, adultery, arson, high treason, and/or genocide–probably with a shrug and a “Hey, these things happen…”–but if he lost my cat, particularly NOW, the only way they’d identify his body afterwards would be from the dental records.

At this point, James’s friend Lance arrives, and also gives chase. They pursue Ben across multiple yards, tearing through the neighborhood, when at last Ben reaches the home of Buddy, the chocolate lab who lives down the street. Buddy is desperately excited by the notion of NEW CAT FRIEND! and begins expressing this in his usual lunatic chocolate lab way.

Ben decides that maybe home wasn’t so bad after all, makes a U-turn, and bolts back the way he came. James continues to pursue, and on my phoned advice, grabs Ben’s favorite food in the whole world–Athena’s prescription stuff that he’s allergic to and isn’t supposed to eat–and dumps it out in front of the wayward Ben.

Seduced by the allure of forbidden chicken byproducts, Ben halts. James scoops him up and rushes him inside, then collapses into a wibbling pile of nerves, just about as I drive up saying “Get the feather-onna-stick! He can never resist the feather-onna-stick!”

Ben is none the worse for his adventure, and escorted me politely into the bathroom upon my return.

(Ben is in fact microchipped and all, but I’d just as soon not test his traffic-dodging skills.)

Got an apartment!

It’s fairly nice and not too expensive, and as a result, is also miniscule. Ben and I will be living in…510 square feet.

Okay. I can do that. I was expecting to sleep in my studio anyway, and Ben was living in a cage at the shelter, so it’s not like he’s not familiar with small spaces. (I believe the cage was about the size of my new bathroom, actually.) Walk-in closet, though! Yay!

As for the rest…James had an “Oh my god, what am I doing?” moment of sudden mental clarity, and so he’s going to therapy and we’re going to…date. It is perhaps peculiar to date one’s own husband, but we’ll see how it works. If things go well, we’ll do the whole run at marriage counseling and, well, lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, as they say. 

On top of this madness, my agent called with more probably-nothing-will-come-of-it-but-dude-it-would-be-amazing-if-only news. Unfortunately, I am so pounded flat by recent events that I’m not even excited, I’m just going “Oh. Yay. More things to worry about…”

It’s like a roller-coaster. Tomorrow the cat will probably die, the next day I’ll win the lottery. I sort of want to grab the universe by the lapels and scream “I need some down-time here!”

But this, too, shall pass. And, as Grandma also used to say, “The first hundred years are the worst.” So I’ve only got–what–seventy left, and then it’s all smooth sailin’ from there….

It snowed last night!

There’s less than an inch on the ground, but the entire state has closed down. This is not surprising. A single snowflake falls anywhere in the Triangle Metro, and cars spontaneously flip over.

Those of us who did our time in Minnesota, and have vivid memories of that time we had to dig DOWN to get to the car, find this amusing, except that we have to drive with all these people on the road.

It’s currently a mix of snow and freezing rain, which is crap to drive in no matter what state you’re from. James just bought a Nissan Frontier with four-wheel drive three days ago, so he can go get the groceries. Me, I’m stayin’ home today and running off prints and maybe drawing mice or something.

A very entertaining on-line D&D session today, in which our characters nearly died while driving an empty cart down a sparsely populated road, during their first hour on the job.

This does not bode well for their future employment.

And god, I love playin’ a paladin…