S.A.D. and the incredible adventures of Spidercat

Saturday 11th August 2013

Hello again my lovelies!
It has been AGES since my last chatty update, so it MUST be time for another one!
This one has become quite epic (quel surprise!) as there’s almost 3 month’s worth of news to cram in, so I am going to divvy it up into some little subsections like a proper newsletter!

Saving the world…
Let’s see, work has been busy busy busy, so not much to report there, except that since finally launching our first e-learning course, I am now officially tech support for an awful lot of complete morons out there in the ether…
The most typical problems are “can’t log in” – mostly solved by checking that their caps lock isn’t on when typing in their password etc. I have also had two people email me to tell me that they don’t have internet access. Hard to know how to respond to that via email without insinuating that they must be at least slightly retarded, but nevertheless we were able to establish that by emailing me their problem, they have in fact actually accessed the internet…..
And so on.

I have also helped at least 80 people to disable their pop-up blockers on their web browser, so in my own small way I like to think I have built some global capacity!

In other work-related news, my contract is up in December this year, and although my boss is keen to keep me on, it’s all a bit up in the air, with a lot of “maybe”‘s, and “if there’s money in the budget” etc. She has escalated it upwards, and while I have still heard nothing definitive on the subject yet, I had a fascinating conversation with a more senior colleague at the pub last week who said “What? You’re staying on aren’t you? I thought that was all decided when we voted on it at last week’s management meeting!”. So apparently my future has been an agenda item at some senior management meetings, and according to the pub grapevine they are talking about extending my contract for another two years…. but I haven’t heard anything official, and am therefore not counting any chickens yet…..

In typically British fashion, I am now going to start the “moaning about the weather” portion of this email. I can’t even tell you it’s been an utterly shitty summer, because we haven’t had any summer yet! Rain, rain, rain and some more rain, along with grey, cold, damp, miserable, wet, and depressing. The wettest summer on record has so far been blamed on global warming, or possibly the gulf stream moving north (no doubt because of global warming) etc. The fact is, we have not been globally warmed. It’s more like global damp, and I am not amused.
For three months straight it has been bloody awful, and I think I started to suffer from a touch of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) – also known as “depressed because the weather is so shit” disorder. I reached a stage where every morning I would open my curtains and gaze out at the grey, wet, overcast, misery stretching as far as the eye can see, and my heart would literally sink. And when every morning starts like that you know you’re in trouble.
A lot of people tend to feel this way in the autumn and winter, when it is also cold, grey, wet, damp and miserable, but I never do, because I know it won’t last, and then eventually summer will come round and there will be a few weeks of sunshine and happiness and flowers and laughter and general gaiety before the cold, wet, damp weather returns. So to lose the precious few weeks of potential sunshine has been more than a bit depressing, and as the days get shorter and shorter again, you suddenly realise you didn’t even notice the longest day, cos the clouds were so purple and foreboding it was dark by 4pm anyway. Also our office canteen has taken this to an extreme and on Wednesday served up a roast turkey Christmas dinner, complete with mince pies, and a stern warning that there is ONLY 138 days until Christmas.
It’s as if everyone has forgotten it is technically still August!

Anyhow, I was also feeling a bit miserable as I did something horrid to my neck last month that left me in lots of pain, which is never fun. I was carrying some heavy shopping bags home from Tesco (as I am now a car-less person) and the heavens opened and attempted to drown me on my way home. I was fumbling around trying to walk faster, hold all my shopping in one hand while desperately trying to get my umbrella up, when something in my neck went “twang”.
It was sore, but ok at first. But when I laid down to go to bed that night my whole entire neck went into spasm and it was agony all night. No sleep for Maya, and it’s lucky that only a very tiny percentage of you have experienced just how grumpy I can be when I’m very very tired…
I was on the doorstep as soon as the doctor’s surgery opened the next morning, and sat in the waiting room crying with pain for about 90mins until the doctor could see me (after getting a lecture about not calling in advance and making a proper emergency appointment!). The doc was very sweet though, and told me to go home, lie flat on my back with a rolled-up towel under my neck and take massive amounts of codeine, paracetamol, ibuprofen, and diazapam until it felt better, and then gave me some neck exercises to do once I could move my head again.

Anyhow, lying on my back for several days, unable to move, watch tv, leave the house or do anything much except lie there listening to the freak July hailstorms and thunderstorms beating down on my poor flowers in the garden did not improve my S.A.D.

But then, amazingly, just before I became a completely useless blubbering lump of misery, my neck got better, and then the sun came out.
Only for a week mind you, but that is neither here nor there, because the weather decided to take pity on me, and the universe conspired to cheer me up.

The one week of glorious sunshine happened to coincide with my lovely friend Betty coming to stay with me, so it was a week I had booked off work and had planned a little “staycation” in Oxford. It was the most glorious of all coincidences that I wasn’t trapped in the office all day when the sun finally did come out!
So Betty and I slapped on some suncream, I bought some new sunglasses and an enormously stylish straw hat, and we explored Oxford for a week!
There was punting on the river, and ice-cream, walks around the city and colleges and parks, a trip to the botanical gardens and several museums, long evenings drinking home-made cocktails in my little garden, swimming in the outdoor pool, and lots of shopping and eating and wine etc.
In short, it was fabulous, and I was able to harness the sunshine in order to restore the balance of vitamin D in my body, and top up my serotonin levels as well, (just in time for more cold, wet, grey, rain….).

The amazing feats of the Incredible Spidercat

Many of you may remember from my previous email that Cleo and I are going through a rigorous battle of wits and endurance in the ultimate war on house training.
After repeated assaults on my carpet, I decided to lock the cat outside overnight for a few days and see if she adapted her night-time defecation habits. I was concerned for a while that this might have a detrimental effect on how much she trusts the cat flap, but decided enough was enough. It seemed to be working for about a week or so, although as the nights progressed she started hiding in my room to avoid being expelled of an evening. Then the continuously shitty weather forced me to change my tactics – I really couldn’t force her outside in a torrential downpour, nobody’s that cruel, so I relented and reinstated the litterbox once again, as a temporary measure. The weather may have lost me the skirmish, but the war on poo continued….

During our week of fabulously hot weather, I once again reinstated the “cat goes outside overnight” rule. Unfortunately as it was blisteringly hot, and Betty and I were sharing my room, we needed to have both windows wide open, and I was forced to lie awake at night pretending not to hear Cleo yowling away like a banshee outside. It’s a time-honoured tradition in warfare, keeping your opponent on edge and sleep-deprived, but I knew I had to hold my ground and not give in.

One night, at around 3 or 4am, I was woken up suddenly by a crash outside in the garden, and sat bolt upright in bed, like you do when woken abruptly by a loud noise. A few seconds later the cat hopped casually down from my windowsill and calmly strolled over to the bed, sat next to me and started licking herself, exuding nothing but nonchalance.
I stared at her in confusion for a few seconds while my sleepy brain took in the closed bedroom door, the open second-storey window, and the Houdini of a cat that was now calmly settling down for the night on my bed.

She literally scaled the outside wall of my house, or possibly climbed the drainpipe up to the roof, and then leapt into my room in an incredible feat of cat-burglary. It’s literally about 2 or 3 metres from the top of the fence to my window, and the window opens outwards facing the fence so she couldn’t jump straight up from the fence without hitting the open window in the process. Photo attached as proof.

Astonishment was soon overtaken by blind rage at being woken up at 4am, so I picked her up and marched back downstairs with her, muttering to myself “For fuck’s sake!”, “Oh no you don’t!”. I had to fumble around in the dark for a while looking for the keys to the back door, which is hard to do while half asleep and holding a confused and wriggling cat in your other hand. Eventually I got her back outside, and stormed back upstairs to close the window. Then I lay there thinking “It’s far too hot for us to sleep with the window closed. What if she tries it again and hurts herself? Or just keeps us awake by hurling herself at my closed bedroom window all night?”
I got up with a sigh and unlocked the cat flap, and slumped back to bed utterly defeated, while Cleo happily settled herself back on the bed for a well-deserved nap.

So, the war is now officially over, and I have declared total and utter defeat. I have to admit, it was a stunning victory.

Poor Betty managed to sleep through the Incredible Spidercat’s wall-climbing feat, and all she remembers is being woken up at 4am by me storming around the house filled with rage and muttering “Fucking Cat! Fucking CAT! FUCKING cat! For fuck’s sake! Fucking cat….zzzzz”

However, the cat and I have now made up, and after trying out several useless home remedies like putting down orange peel, spraying orange and lavender essential oils onto areas I want the cat to stay away from, I have finally found a spray at the pet shop which seems to actually work – appropriately named “GET OFF! Cat and Dog repellent”.
So Cleo the Spidercat has agreed to cease and desist poohing on my carpet in exchange for continued litterbox privileges and a new scratching post to play with.
Peace has been restored, and we can now both sleep peacefully through the night. And ironically now that the war is over, Cleo seems to be spending most of her nights outside anyway!

Miscellaneous odds and ends…

I guess that’s enough chat from me…
The only other interesting things I can think of are that I recently got a email alert from my dating website, telling me “You have a new message from ‘bendoverbabe'”
Obviously I didn’t bother to read it, but it did leave me feeling frankly quite disgusted with the entire male species.

Also my neighbour had a gas scare recently when her carbon monoxide alarm went off. My first question was “Do you mean your smoke alarm?” (cos I have one of those). She said no, her carbon monoxide alarm had registered a leak in her boiler. This is the first time I’ve ever lived in a house with gas heating (we’ve always had oil heating, and electric cookers) so it had never occurred to me I needed a CO alarm! Anyhow, it also reminded me it was about time I had my boiler serviced, so I went out and bought an alarm, which is now safely installed in my kitchen, and I am proud to say my boiler is officially certified as safe!
In your face carbon monoxide!
No accidental, silent, painless death-while-you-sleep for me!
Ruby, my lovely lodger, is also quite relieved….

Also my annual eye test has confirmed that my degenerative myopia has now reached (negative) double figures, a new personal best which tips me over into a category that the NHS politely refer to as “complex” (no-one like to use the word blind these days…) but the good news is I now qualify for free eye tests! Almost as good as a gold medal!

Guess that’s it from me for now – hope you’re all well – send me your news too!

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