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Cosa come home!...

The last month and a half has been one of the most challenging times in my life.

Not hard in a depressing way. No one died. I didn't go through a massive breakup. I wasn't laid off. My problems seem piddly compared to those of others I know, but nonetheless I went through an amazing period of work and stress where I was juggling about eight things at any given moment. I've said before in these pages that I enjoy living that way. I do. It excites me to know that I'm doing what I set out to do and it's a thrill to make headway.

Last year at about this time, I was doing a lot of the same. I'd just started editing, so learning that job was a huge challenge. I was also doing a full-length LCP show, and that's always a huge time-suck. Between rehearsals, performance, publicity and just mental preparation, it's an exhausting but really rewarding process.

Now, I've added this site to the mix, and there is now a recent new element to my day job that has made it much more challenging, and a much harder struggle. But I like struggle. I thrive on it. So, I happily throw that on the pile.

And then, a week ago, I almost had a breakdown. I was stressed and overwhelmed, alienating friends, being kind of an ass. I started to moan that my life wasn't fun anymore and that I was unhappy. I began to question my career, my friends, my purpose, the city I live in, all that. You know how it goes. You begin to doubt all the fabric of your existence, and you start poking it for holes, trying to tear it apart instead of sewing the good parts back together.

It was the stress talking.

Because now it's a week later. Our first week of LCP shows went extremely well (with one very bad and stressful first act Thursday night, but otherwise the shows have been great). My folks saw the show. Some co-workers saw it. We got a write-up in the paper today. All the hard work finally made it to the stage.

Suddenly, during the day Saturday and all day Sunday, I had free time. Completely free time. No rehearsals to go to. No work to run in and complete because my busy schedule had put me behind. No huge errands. I spent a glorious day just having fun. I watched The Sopranos. I barbecued some chicken and hot dogs. I went and saw a computer animation/dance performance. I even got Tribes 2 to function on my computer after fruitless attempts to get the damn thing to work.

And suddenly I'm happy. Really and truly relaxed, happy and content. The show came together. Work, I can handle. The site is going to be updated more regularly now that things are slowing down. And I'm planning a vacation in May, the first real for-pleasure trip I've taken since last October.

It was the stress. I always say that I live for it, but a little goes a long way. And lately, it was just too much.

I'm very happy to be out of the hole now.



Cosa went missing for two days.

After our Friday night show, I couldn't sleep, so at 4 a.m., I found myself wandering the house. I opened the front door and Cosa stepped out onto the porch curiously. Since she's a very indoor-ish cat, I was amused that she was venturing past the front door, where I usually have to scoot her out to get her some fresh air. On this night, she walked right out.

"Go on out if you want," I said.

And then I didn't see her the rest of the weekend.

On days when she gets out accidentally, she'd always wander back and scratch on the front door.

Saturday afternoon, after sleeping very late, I noticed she was gone. I went out the front and called for her, but she wasn't around. I brought out the can of Pounce, rattling it, hoping she's run back. No Cosa.

I had to get ready for the shows that evening, so by the time I got back, after 1 a.m., I was really getting worried. I called her name in the front yard. Again with the Pounce. Still no cat.

By Sunday morning, I was really afraid. Somebody might have taken her in and that's why she wasn't wandering the neighborhood. Cosa doesn't wear any tags (she always tears off the collars), so there'd be no way to know her owner.

Nothing sadder than a box of
litter with no cat to defecate in it.

I flirted with making "LOST!" flyers using the photo from her hunger strike. It was getting really depressing. I thought about a life without Cosa. As I vaccumed my house, I saw her stuffed toys all over the place, and I got misty. I cleaned her litter box, wondering if I'd ever be able to clear out her miniature poo logs again. Her food bowl, untouched, was a pitiful reminder.

And then, that evening, as I was doing a load of laundry, I heard a loud meowing. I couldn't tell if it was Cosa because she's only loud like that when she's angry and hissing. This was a forlorn, hoarse meow.

I went around the duplex behind mine and listened. No meowing. As I came all the way around, I could suddenly hear it again. A black and white cat was backing away, but past her I could hear the meowing from inside a closed door. I opened it. There was Cosa, crying loudly, staring up from the tiny laundry room. She'd been trapped in there by the closed door.

I carried her back as she mewled and twisted in my hands. I brought her home. She sniffed at her nearly empty bowl. But she wouldn't eat. She looked up at me, meowing pitifully. I gave her Pounce and she gobbled it up. I filled her bowl to the brim with food and then she did dig in. Then she went straight to the litter box and my heart leapt at the return of the Cosa-poo.

I still don't really understand cat owners. I still don't really count myself among them. This cat is mine, but it all happened by accident. And every time she bites, or keeps me up late at night with her jumping and scratching, I'd briefly consider the difficulty in getting rid of her and eventually give up the idea as too complicated: Who'd want an ill-tempered black cat anyway? Even one that had fought for the cause of relieving third-world debt?

Yum yum.

But then she was gone, and the house felt so empty. I couldn't hear the sound of scratching. There was no one to jump up three feet to bite my hand as I flipped the light switch off before I went to bed. The carpet around the litter box didn't need vacuuming. And the little malevolent, needy demon spirit that accepts behind-the-ear rubs one second, and bites into the wrist the next disappeared.

And I missed the little fiend.

I'm glad you're back home, Cosa. I didn't want to have to eat all the cat food alone.


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