Maya, my white-pawed, chronically grumpy cat, is not good in a crisis.
She likes to play chase, but every time I chase her she panics, becomes paralysed by indecision, and finally runs into the nearest corner and flips onto her back.
I’ve explained to her plenty of times that in the wild, this would really be seen as less of a survival strategy and more of a suicidal strategy, but no amount of practice has made her any better at evading fake predators. Every. single. time. she is chased, she does the same thing. You can see it happen. The pupils dilate, her eyes flick madly from side to side as she considers her options, and by the time I’ve reached her it’s too late for her to escape and so she just flings herself into a corner, completely at my mercy.
At first, I thought it was hilarious. Thank God there are no large eagles about that might pick her off the balcony as a snowy snack. I’ve seen The Proposal and that’s the only part of it that has stuck in my mind. Eagles are a considerable hazard for small white pets, apparently.
Lately though, I don’t find it as funny because I’ve realised that we have a lot in common, Maya and I.
It’s been ages. I know. I missed you!
The truth is, I rang in 2019 with good food and great friends.
…And it was all downhill from there.
I got sick. I spent a full seven days of the first month of the year staring at the ceiling and punctuating the silence with a honking cough that made me sound like a forlorn (but still aggressive) Canadian goose. I curled myself into a comma and lay there, an entirely useless lump of humanity, as things piled up around me. Layers of clothes carelessly tossed on the ground became small hillocks. The work I didn’t feel well enough to do stacked up. The list of chores I had ambitiously made at the beginning of the year grew longer and longer and longer until it covered four or five pages spread across three different notebooks.
By the time I had mostly* recovered, I was faced by an incoming tsunami of Uns. Christmas presents ungiven. Friends uncontacted. Work unprepared. Tasks untaken-care-of. Shows unwatched. Food uneaten. E-mails unsent.
The list of Uns was very long.
Instead of diving under the wave like I should have, I made the mistake of letting it crash over me. Instead of bracing myself for the onslaught, I just… slipped under the surface.
In other words, I pulled a Maya.
I panicked. I found a corner, and I flipped belly up, paws outstretched, waiting to drown in a sea of Uns.
The past week and a half has been a string of all-nighters and wide-eyed, sleep-deprived flurries of frantic activity interspersed with many, many tea breaks. On Friday, I was in bed by 9pm, exhausted by my attempts to claw my way back to normality. My list is still long, I still have a lot to do, but today I feel capable, or at least prepared. I have my inflatable armbands on. I have decided not to run headfirst into any more corners.
Okay 2019, let’s be having you.
*I still have a cough but it now sounds like a small dog’s bark and comes on with hardly any warning at all, surprising both me and my cats.