Friday, April 05, 2013

Guest Post - "Passing Through Gethsemane"

Hi, folks!  The Cybernetic Atheist here!  I have a special treat for you, a Guest Post from the youngest CyberDaughter!  It is a long post, so I split it into two pages - enjoy it and please, read to the end!
Passing Through Gethsemane
Greetings and salutations, everyone! I am Cyberdaughter and I will be providing your entertainment for the evening. This is a pretty long story but I assure you it’s worth it to read until the end – I hope to make you laugh or, failing that, I hope to make you feel much better about your own day. Before I begin, a little bit about myself:
My gracious host, The Cybernetic Atheist, is my dear father. (Hi, pops!)
We get along swimmingly, for which I am grateful considering that we are very similar and this means I think I’m a pretty cool dude. We are fun, hilarious, corny, and love to both cook and eat food. We’re also incredibly talented, good looking, charming, rich…okay, okay, stop laughing, it’s close enough to the truth! Right…?
I live in sunny Florida and poke fun at my parents all winter long; in return they both poke fun at me all summer long. I live in a nice little one bedroom apartment in a quiet part of town with my two cats, Merlin and Lucy, both under a year old. Merlin is laid back, super cool, listens to me (I hesitate to use the phrase ‘well trained’ without knocking on wood), and loves to sleep on my head like a furry little football helmet. He’s also known as “Merle”, “Adolf Kitler”, and “Merlin Monroe” due to his ridiculous beauty mark. Lucy is three months younger, craves attention like sustenance, doesn’t listen to a word I say (ever), and is also known as “Tiny”, “Little”, and “Princess”. Both cats are very social and neither of them has ever lifted a tooth or claw in anger.

I’m pretty proud of my little furry friends. As I told my oldest sister: what separates me from the crazy cat ladies of the world is that they brag about their cats, but they’re nothing special. I brag about my cats because they’re clearly cooler than everyone else’s. Also, I’m not quite old enough to be a crazy cat lady yet.
But enough about my cats. I work in customer service and I’m fortunate enough to work from home most of the time, which saves me more money on food than it does on gas. I’m a redhead, which I’m exceptionally proud of. I’m sure this is a surprise to you. Contrary to stereotype, however, I may just have the world’s longest fuse. I am a well of patience and understanding. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but I’m pretty calm and laid back most of the time. When my fuse runs out, however, that is a different story.
Few people have ever seen it, and most run when they realize I’m not laughing anymore. They are smart, and they are alive.
I’m also an avid reader. I will read anything I can get my hands on, and I blame my eventual financial ruin on my parents for teaching me how to read. Thanks a lot, guys.
I enjoy writing on occasion, so when I told my dad this story he choked back his uncontrollable laughter and asked me to type it up for him so that I could guest-blog. I like to think I’m an exceptional storyteller, but I’m not sure how well this translates in to text – I use a lot of sound effects and grand gestures which don’t type up well. Maybe next time I’ll volunteer to record a video? Who knows, I could be a YouTube star one day! (Hah.)
I ask that, in light of this, you use your imagination to visualize my stunning self contorting my body in various ways while shouting and mimicking cats to illustrate precisely what is occurring at each moment in the story. I’m quite dramatic, so don’t hold back.
So! To set the scene for you, I will tell you that my apartment is nice and clean. I spent Sunday doing my big cleaning of the week, plus a little extra since I have company coming this weekend. Everything was spotless, I hadn’t used the kitchen yet, and the laundry was freshly washed. All of it! Incredible! These are rare, treasured days. I normally keep my place looking nice, but this was truly exceptional.
--TRIGGER-WARNING: Read at your own risk. Stop now if you are easily disturbed by bodily functions or have a weak constitution. Surprisingly, despite this warning, this is a work-safe story.--
Monday was a bad day for me.
This is rare – I don’t normally have bad days. Well, everyone has bad days some time, but normally my cynical and self-deprecating sense of humor helps me overcome them (or at least grin knowingly and then go grab a glass of wine…good enough). Monday left me shaken, though. I was dealing with a woman at work (we’ll call her Dana) that seemed to deliberately outmaneuver my every attempt at organization and civility, and I was done. That night I relaxed, watched a little B5, and tried to hit the reset button.
On Tuesday morning when I woke up I was understandably wary – Monday had pulled a fast one on me and I was hesitant to see what this new day would bring. I begged the universe: please, please! Nothing could be worse than that! The universe looked back at me, thumbed its nose, and sang “nah-nee nah-nee boooo boooooooo!” like some little kindergarten brat, and Tuesday was born.
I spent the entire afternoon dealing with Dana again. She’s a classic case of avoidance – my supervisor would call her and leave a message; she would email me a response. I would call her and leave a message; she would email my supervisor a response. Nothing of substance, mind you. She would pick over the carrion of our messages and regurgitate a response that cobbled together only the most convenient of the facts mixed with some sort of bizarre internal fantasy that she must be running in her head 24/7. The last email that she responded with sent me over the edge. That was it – she got under my skin. My blood boiled, red fuzz crowded out the edges of my vision, my mouth hung open as I tried to formulate some sort of response to her insanity.
So I stepped away. After some deep breathing (read: cigarettes, lots of them) I came back to the computer, sat down, and began typing. I constructed this email in Notepad because I knew that if I accidentally sent her this message I would likely be in line at the soup kitchen by next week. It was a carefully crafted masterpiece that explained in no uncertain terms that what she wanted was impossible, it was her own damned fault, and she would have to take what we would give her.
Except, you know, more diplomatic. I do work in customer service, after all.
I then sent this note to my trusty coworker and asked him, “Hey S, does this make me sound like a bitch?” to which he tactfully replied, “well, we should probably fix this sentence…and this one…let’s re-word this, too…”
He’s a great coworker.
I then sent the now acceptable email to our salesman to review, assuring him that I wasn’t going to ruin his commission with a few choice words. He approved, so I went ahead and sent her the message.
Not expecting a response for several hours, I settled in to wait. I kept an eye on our inbox and let the steam slowly escape from my ears, praying for patience, praying that she wouldn’t respond until tomorrow. Eventually I calmed down. Not all the way down, exactly, but I backed away from the edge of murder and in to the slightly quieter territory of imagining her slow death. By 5:00pm I was able to think about other things for short periods of time, even if it was mostly about the glass of wine (or four) that I would be having the moment the clock struck six. The seconds dragged by as I kept an eye out for anything that might come through, but things stayed quiet.
I smell poop.
Now this isn’t entirely unusual. All cat owners know that when a cat uses the litter box there is a brief wave of horrifying odor before the magical cat-crystals cover it up somehow. I ignored it.
I still smell poop.
If anything the smell may have actually gotten a little bit stronger. Now we’re moving in to the realm of the unusual. I sit for a moment, torn, before finally deciding that I should probably find out where the poop smell is coming from. Maybe someone forgot to cover? I swing my chair around and get up, take one single step, and…
I have stepped in the poop.
I have a moment in which my entire soul cries out to the universe: “WHHHHHYYYYYYYY?????!!!!!!! WHY TODAYYYYY??!!” and then I quiet myself. It’s not dignified. I heave a huge sigh and grab some tissues, clean the poop off my foot, and hobble to the trash can. Did I mention that I’m not wearing any shoes? That’s right. Nice, warm, squishy poop oozing between my big toe and my second toe, laughing at me through my nicely painted red toenails. It’s a desecration. I then hobble over to the sink, prop up my foot, and wash it.
One freshly geranium-scented foot later I decide that I should clean up the poop. Immediately. I glance at the computer – no emails. I go grab a paper towel (or seventeen) from the kitchen and head back to pick up the poop, stopping to stand over the spot, when a sinking feeling starts in my chest.
Something is wrong.
There is no poop.
Where is the poop? I had only stepped in one small, discreet turd nugget. Where is the rest? No cat poops just one little nugget and then walks away! Right…?
I must find the rest of the poop.
So now I’m on a poop expedition. An exploratory mission that encompasses the entire house, but each room passes in disappointment. No poop in the bedroom. No poop in the bathroom. I head back and check the bed – I’ve heard stories – but there is no poop. Nothing in the entry way and nothing in the living room. No poop in the dining room and the kitchen is as clean as a whistle.
More puzzlingly, there is no poop in the litter box.
So where’s the poop?
I work my way around again, slowly, checking under furniture and behind shelves and in my shoes.
No poop.
Then the sinking feeling begins again. There is only one other place that the poop could be. The thought is horrifying but some instinct inside of me takes over and gets down to business. Must be the mother instinct. I play back the video in my head of stepping in the poop and realize that the closest cat to me when it occurred was Lucy (she is, after all, a medium hair). She is now standing, curious, about three feet from me in the living room. The cats have been following me the entire time, as they are wont to do.
“Hey Lucy, come here sweetie.”
She bolts.
This, too, is very unusual. Lucy is a born and bred attention whore and would do anything, possibly including murder, to get a neck scratch. That sinking feeling has turned in to a small lead weight in my stomach. Fortunately I’ve done at least one thing right in my life and my cats love and trust me implicitly, so it only takes a few moments to coax her out from under the coffee table and in to my arms. I soothe her and reassure her that she’s done nothing wrong, giving her the scratch she so clearly wants. I then slide my left hand under her front legs and hold her up, using my right hand to lift her tail.
Sweet love of god. That is the smell I have been searching for.
The poop is stuck to Lucy’s butt.
Despite the discomfort this is going to cause both of us I am feeling a little bit relieved now because I have solved the poop mystery. I carry her over to the sink to grab a paper towel and get this whole undignified act over with, but this is where the real trouble starts. First of all, I realize I’m going to have to let go of her tail in order to get a paper towel. I was really hoping that I would grow a third hand some time between the living room and the kitchen, but no such luck – her tail will probably get poop on it. Then I realize I’m going to have to set her down for a moment because she is starting to squirm with discomfort, but there are dishes in the sink. I compromise and set her back paws on the edge of the counter as I move the dishes to the other half of the sink with my right hand, then carefully set her back paws in to the sink. There is no way in hell I’m going to get poop on my counters.
This is about the time that Lucy realizes that we are at THE SINK. This is where WATER comes from.

I’m bleeding.
Wishing once again for a third hand, I desperately try to soothe her (“I’m not going to give you a bath honey; I’m just trying to get the poop off! Stop struggling!”) as I clumsily grab a paper towel. After a few attempts which result only in tiny pieces of paper towel, I manage to grab four. Now is not the time to worry about waste, though – I have poop to clean! I finally scruff the squirming mass of black fur in front of me and take a deep (shallow, really, it smells vile) breath before I dive in to the work. Her tail is battling me just as much as her paws are and I’m trying my best to maneuver around it, but I’m not very good at this.
I smear the poop.
What was once a nice, tiny, easy-to-remove nugget is now firmly embedded in 800 cubic meters of the softest, most absorbent cotton batting you can imagine – Lucy’s butt. If you were watching me at this moment you would note the panicked look in my eye, the defeat written on the four new wrinkles I just formed, and the sudden slump of resignation in my shoulders.
I’m going to have to give Lucy a bath.
“I’m sorry honey, I know I promised, but you squirmed and mama’s not so good at poop-cleaning, apparently.” I turned on the water in the sink to bring it up to a decent kitty temperature.
I’m bleeding again.
At this point she has clearly sensed my inevitable betrayal and starts mewing piteously. There is no one in all of the world she trusts like her mama, and her mama is committing the worst crime against cats humanly possible. Her life is over and she is crying out her misery to the world. I should mention that Merlin has been following this entire saga with quite a bit of interest and takes this opportunity to start screaming at me in protest. I am clearly killing his sister slowly and viciously and I must be stopped at all costs. The chorus is deafening.
Lucy: “MEEEeeeeewwwwww….MMMMEeeeeewwwwww….!”
Lucy’s tiny little mew is heartbreaking, but Merlin’s angry yell is almost as bad – I just went from his favorite person in the world to Benedict Arnold, the worst turncoat this apartment has ever seen.
I have betrayed them both and I am ashamed.
Despite all of this, I know that I must get the rest of the poop off as best I can with the paper towel. This is not easy as Lucy is now struggling as if her life depended on it. In her opinion it does so I can’t really blame her all that much even though I probably have a few new scars already. Eventually I manage to grab a hold of the poop and as I begin to pull it out I realize what the problem was the whole time.
It’s not one poop.
It’s three.
Connected by a string.
A shudder runs through my body as I realize that I am literally pulling poop out of her butt, not just off of it. To think that earlier we all thought we were suffering an indignity – we had no idea!
I pull a fantastic gymnastics maneuver (read: probably looked like a mime with epilepsy) and throw the poop away while keeping the cat’s writhing body in the sink and avoiding the screaming banshee at my feet. There is a sense of relief as I realize that we’re done with poop now, all I have to do is clean the cat and we’re good to go. They’ll probably hate me for a while, but I have some delicious canned treats for emergencies like this. I’ll buy my cats’ love back, I’m not ashamed.
The water is finally at a reasonable temperature, so I stick Lucy’s backside under the flow. Her flailing reaches a peak but I have her in a ninja grip now so I’m able to keep her from severing my arteries. By ninja grip what I really mean is that I’m scruffing her and apologizing like I killed her mother as my face narrowly avoids her razor-sharp claws. I feel horrible. The chorus intensifies.
Lucy: “MEEEeeeeewwwwww….MMMMEeeeeewwwwww….!” There’s a distinct waver to it this time.
Merlin: “MOOOOOOW! MOOOOOOOW! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!” Somehow he has managed to make this meow sound nasal, like he’s from New Jersey or Boston. I’m too disturbed to laugh.
Now that Lucy is wet, I grab my dish soap (thankfully just swapped out for something all-natural and probably really safe for cats. I hope) and pour a generous amount on to her hindquarters. I take another deep (shallow) breath and resign myself to the fact that this is gross but necessary, and then I dive right in.
As I swirl my hand in large circles around the poor cat’s butt, I suddenly realize that I did NOT get all of the poop with the paper towel. I am now creating large, bubbly whorls of what I can only call poopsoap.

My entire body is revolting at this discovery. My face is frozen in a mask of disbelief and horror, but I quickly close my mouth for fear that this could, in fact, get worse. My muscles are rigid with disgust, and even my toes seem to shrink back away from what is very, very real and very much happening to me.
My hand is covered in poopsoap. Lucy’s butt is covered in poopsoap. There is a thin film of poopsoap covering my sink, and this is the worst day of my life*.
Lucy: “MEEEeeeeewwwwww….MMMMEeeeeewwwwww….!” it seems like she knows.
Merlin: “MOOOOOOW! MOOOOOOOW! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!” he’s up on my leg now, begging me to stop.
I can’t stop apologizing to them. It’s just so horrible. But I can’t stop now – I’ve invested in this situation, and I have to see it through. Lucy must be washed. I continue to make circles in her fur, my stomach churning at the smell of the most vile poop I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across and the relaxing scent of lavender. Why did I have to pick lavender for my dish soap?
Once again, I get that strange sinking feeling in my chest. A little voice in the back of my head is speaking:
“Hey Numbnuts – something is wrong.”
“Nonsense little voice, you are simply trying to reject the reality of this untenable situation before you.”
“No seriously, check out the sink – something’s really wrong.”
“Whatever do you mean – OH GOD!”
The sink isn’t draining.
How will I ever trust my dishes again, now defiled with poopsoap?
This is just one more “What the Fuck” moment in a long line of “What the Fuck” moments. I blink a few times as I try to comprehend what is occurring and then finally turn off the water with a weak, sad acceptance. This day has stolen a little piece of me and I’m not sure I’m going to get it back. I stand at the sink listening to the chorus of cats as I contemplate how I made it to this moment. Is this what an existential crisis feels like? Where did I go wrong? How did I make it to this place – here, now – with only these two decisions? Neither decision is a good one. There is no lesser of two evils.
I shake off the philosophical moment. I can either:
1.       Turn on the garbage disposal to clear the blockage, losing an eye to the cat in the process, OR
2.       Take Lucy, dripping with poopsoap, all the way through THE ENTIRE APARTMENT to the bathroom and finish the process elsewhere.
I’m not okay with either of them. I don’t want to choose. Maybe if I put it off for long enough, another option will present itself.
I make the wise decision to keep both of my eyeballs intact and decide to find a way to take the cat to the bathroom.
So I look left.
I look right.
I look down.
I look behind me.
I curse the fact that I never put away clean laundry.
Lucy: “Meeew?” She thinks the bath might be over. She is wrong.
Merlin: “MOOOOOW!” He just wants me to put her down already. Sorry, buddy.
I survey the scene in front of me and sigh heavily, then almost retch. Woops – gotta watch the breathing. I wring out Lucy’s tail, another few hundred cubic meters of highly absorbent cotton batting.
I steel myself once more and place my hand squarely on her butt, smooshing in to the now-cooling poopsoap, and lift Lucy gently in to my arms.
I wrap her in my shirt. I am still wearing it. I quite like this shirt.
I can feel the sharp pinpricks of Lucy’s claws and she desperately clings to me, nicely accented by the cold and unforgettable feeling of poopsoap soaking in to my skin.
This is happening.
Her fur is weeping poopsoap. It’s everywhere. I can feel it, I can smell it, and it’s a stain I won’t ever be able to remove. She is calm now – warm towel normally signifies the end of the bath. Except this isn’t a warm towel, and the bath is not over, and she may hate me even more before we’re through.
I begin the walk of shame through the apartment. I feel a drop hit my foot and speed up accordingly – this can’t happen. Not here. Merlin is desperately trying to trip me, but he has stopped screaming for the time being – what a relief.
I pause, leaned back awkwardly to keep the mess from hitting the floor, and check the inbox. No emails. Oh look! Only three minutes until I get off of work! And I was so looking forward to 6:00pm…
I quickly continue to the bathroom before I am overcome by hysterical laughter. I am on the verge of a mental breakdown, but I can clean that up later – this has to be cleaned up NOW. With my elbow, still clean somehow, I swish aside the shower curtain.
I am bleeding again as Lucy claws a new path down my back. Shower curtains also mean water.
I manage to pluck her off of my back and scruff her again, setting her in to the bathtub as I turn the water back on. I get in too – I’ve got nothing to lose anymore. Merlin plops himself down on the mat and takes up the chorus again with Lucy:
Lucy: “MEEEeeeeewwwwww….MMMMEeeeeewwwwww….!” Why don’t you love me anymore? She cries. Her eyes seem to have changed shape and look permanently morose, like a cartoon.
Merlin: “MOOOOOOW! MOOOOOOOW! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!” He sounds like an air raid siren. I wish I could hide under a desk right now, but unfortunately I just HAD to become an adult.
Finally, I rinse us both off and we are rid of the poopsoap. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I grab my body wash (also all natural ingredients – this is what happens when you’re a redhead) and lather us both up with NORMAL soap, desperately willing my nostrils to forget the disturbing scent of lavender and sodomy.
We rinse again, and finally I lift poor Lucy from her watery prison and wring her out once more. It is then that I realize, again, that I never put laundry away – the only towel in the bathroom is mine. My towel. My favorite towel.
Ah, well, it’s only wet cat. I can do laundry again.
I wrap her in the towel and start rubbing her vigorously and she is realizing that THIS, in fact, IS the end of the bath. The chorus quiets down again and there is blessed silence in the house, for which I am eternally grateful. Merlin is still very much all up in our business, so I decide that perhaps it would be best to set Lucy down to be tended to by him. I do, and he does. They begin the slow recovery process. If cats could get therapy, they’d need it.
I imagine them both reclined on a tiny chaise lounge, one paw over their faces, crying ‘it was so horrible!’ as they work through their mommy issues.
That’s about when I notice that, in my haste to relieve Lucy of the horror she was going through, I neglected to remember that my entire chest was covered in poopsoap.
There is poopsoap on my towel.
A small chuckle escapes my lips before I can tuck my sanity back in. I throw the towel in the bathtub and strip myself down – there’s no way I’m keeping the clothes on, but there’s no way I’m going to clean the kitchen AFTER I shower. Not happening. I make my way back out to the sink and grab a few more paper towels. I wipe up the majority of the mess and toss it in the trash can, then remove the bag and tie it up. I can sanitize the kitchen later, but this trash needs to go out NOW.
I take a brief moment to remember that I have lots of neighbors, the closest of which is pretty creepy, so I should toss on some sort of cover up before I venture to remove the trash from the apartment. I grab a nightgown that needs to be washed anyways and take the bag outside, locking the door with a vengeance as I reenter the house. I’m actually a bit at a loss as to what to do next, but I know that if I hold still I’ll lose my fragile grip on reality so I keep moving. I head back to the kitchen and glance at the sink, turning the water on to see if it’s still blocked.
Yep. It is.
The next two seconds go by in very slow motion, yet as quickly as lightning. The voice in the back of my head says “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” like a bad movie as my left hand reaches out and quickly flips the switch for the garbage disposal.
The switch was only on for a second or two, but it doesn’t matter.
No, it does NOT matter.
I am now covered – head to toe – with a mixture of carrots, celery, chicken fat, and poopsoap. In case you were wondering, yes, it DOES look exactly like vomit. It’s almost eerie how much it looks like vomit. It smells…like vomit.
And lavender.
It’s in my hair. It’s on my face, all over my chest, oozing down my legs with a cold, sickening wetness. There’s a small piece of something on my foot, just next to my little toe. It’s on the floor. It’s all down the front of the cabinet.
I am too stunned by my own stupidity to even react.
Instead I grab even more paper towels and clean the chunks off of the floor and the cabinet – I don’t think the cats are stupid enough to ingest this stuff, but lord knows it’s not my day to assume. I toss the paper towels and head back to the bathroom. I strip off the nightgown and drop it in the entry way.
I got off of work only five minutes ago. Has it really only been that long? It feels like an eternity. Time stretched itself so that it could pack in as many psychologically damaging moments as possible. I put on the out of office, making a mental note to Lysol the keyboard later.
Then I shower. I do laundry. I drink.
Lucy is oddly friendly for the rest of the evening – I thought perhaps she was somehow aware of my heroic efforts and was showing the appropriate gratitude, but my mother cleared that up very quickly when she pointed out that she was probably just terrified of me and trying to make sure I never did that to her again. I feel like some sort of horrible tyrant or an abusive parent.
I have company over that evening – I know, you must think I’m crazy, but I feel like it’s some sort of insurance policy. Nobody would ever believe that something like that would happen to me – but if they’re there to witness it, maybe it won’t happen.
Or maybe I’ll have a second set of hands in case something else goes wrong.
I smelled poop all night. I couldn’t tell if I actually smelled poop or if perhaps I have some sort of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I didn’t smell lavender – I would have expected the lavender to be included in my hallucinations. I asked my company to alert me immediately if they smelled poop and to do me the enormous favor of tracking it down (I have VERY good friends), but it was reported back to me that no poop was smelled and I am clearly imagining things. Later, after the company left, I found the poop.
That’s right, I wasn’t crazy! It was stuck to the underside of the trash can lid.
I plopped down on the couch after cleaning the remaining poop, letting my head fall back and my eyes shut.
A work email. From Dana.
“But I’ve had the information you needed by last week all along!”

*This is actually the worst day of my life.

1 comment:

chad albus said...

Big belly laughs.
You indeed have a knack for story telling.