Friday, June 25, 2004


I need to get a job really soon. I’ve been unemployed for more than two months now, and I’m starting to lose my mind. Sure, there are some definite perks: my house is immaculate, my bills get paid on time, nobody complains anymore when I don’t wear pants. But all of these benefits combined still don’t outweigh the unbelievable stress that comes from being in a one-bedroom apartment all day long taking care of twin four-year-olds. That's right, I'm talking about my two Siamese cats - Punch and Judy.

Unless they’ve owned a Siamese cat before, it’s hard for people to understand what I’m talking about. Most cats meow. Some just mew. I’ve even heard stories of cats that just kind of silently mouth the word “meow”. Siamese cats, on the other hand, scream. They yell, they demand, they shout. All the time, and for no apparent reason.

I’m starting to worry that my landlord is going to evict me. Other tenants give me dirty looks in the hallway, people let the laundry room door slam in my face, and somehow the Chinese takeout menus and political flyers always end up in my mailbox. In fact, I find myself wishing that the neighbors would hold loud parties, or take up the drums, or have fussier babies. Anything to take some of the focus off of me.

At one point, I actually took Judy to the vet to see what was wrong with her because I thought this just could not be normal behavior, even for a Siamese. She does this thing, pretty much every night, where she frantically paces around the living room like a dingo's got her baby, and every time she passes the fireplace, she screams. Not just a quick meow, but a long howl that gets progressively louder with each second.

I did some research online and diagnosed her as having hyperthyroidism. She has all the classic symptoms. It was the vet’s first guess as well, so I was pretty excited at the idea of just slipping some Synthroid into her tuna fish every day and regaining my sanity. But unfortunately, when the blood test came back, the vet had to inform me that she was perfectly healthy. Damn.

The vet’s only suggestion was Valium. While I weighed this option aloud, expressing some concern about developing a dependency, the vet clarified that she meant for Judy. So my choices were to either have a cat with ADHD sprinting around my apartment all day, or live with some sort of crank addict jonesing for Whiskas liver snaps. What to do, what to do? I chose the drug-free route, but it’s comforting to know that I do have the option of getting her some meds in the event of an impending eviction.

When I first started spending more time at home, I wondered if maybe the cats were just yelling all the time because I was there. Maybe they didn't do this during the day when I was away. Once I went back to work, they'd settle down and go back to their normal routine, right?

I hung onto that naïve belief for a few weeks, until one day when I was leaving my apartment. I thought I heard my cats yelling goodbye to me, but then realized that the sound was coming from the neighbor’s door.


Then I heard my neighbor’s voice:

"Who are you talking to, sweetie?"


Apparently, my neighbor’s two-year old daughter has been crouching by their front door, conversing with my cats for the past several months. This poor child’s first word may have been “meow” and it’s all my fault. I need to get a job really soon.