Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cat poop=OCD explosion=flooring=money anxiety=Christmas

Our cat, Shanks, is approaching 17 years, but I doubt very seriously that he will last much into 2015.  He is absolute skin and bones, and I can tell it is getting harder for him to climb the steps.  Still, he is spirited enough to jump onto the toilet and then the countertop in the kids' bathroom in the hope of getting to sip water from the faucet.

This week he had an episode of diarrhea in the basement, where we keep him at night.
Now I can handle blood.
I can handle vomit.
I can handle snot.
I can handle pus.
Basically, anytime I have to deal with poop, be it human or animal, I fight the urge to douse myself from head to toe in isopropyl alcohol.

My brain cannot get poop out of its network, and our light beige 14-year-old Berber carpet in the basement cannot get poop out of its fibers.  Basically, from here on out anytime I see the basement carpet poop stains from our cat, I'm going to go all heeby-jeeby just thinking about the lingering E. coli.

I had already told D that as soon as (like seconds after) Shanks bit the dust, I was going to get new, darker, less-likely-to-show-every-stain carpet in the basement, but this poop thing has changed the plan.  We're getting laminate tile in the basement.  Like now.

The best thing we ever did in this house is pull up the light beige carpet on the main floor and put in hardwood.  (I'm reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry right now, and I'm really thinking life was much better in the days before carpet.  Packed dirt floor or wood planks=wonderful concept.)

So, the good thing is new flooring that will clean easier.

The bad thing is that spending money (especially a sizable chunk of change) always, always puts me in a different kind of anxiety spin.  Even when we have the money to spend.  Even though we live in such a way that we don't have any debt except our house payment.

I always think to myself that we're right-smack-in-the-middle-middle class.  But I recently had to admit to myself that we're upper middle class.  Maybe even rich.

I don't like admitting that.  I don't want to be that.

That sounds idiotic.  I want the security that comes with having savings, that comes with money.  I guess what I mean is that I don't want to lose sight of "there but for the grace of God go I."  I don't want to lose sight of other people's struggle, of those I know who are working poor.  Who work hard but live paycheck to paycheck for a variety of reasons.  

And I think having money, having security, makes you lose sight of other people's struggle.  You take for granted all the things you have, and you're not even away that you are taking it for granted.  You are just used to what you know.  Then, when you have occasion to visit someone who lives very, very differently from you, you are reminded:  "We have so much."

For me, the guilt comes next.  Even though I know that D and I make choices to live as we do, I also am fully aware that we were lucky.  We had functional families, not broken by divorce, which in and of itself, changes the economic dynamic of a person.  We had parents who did everything in their power to support our education: encouraging us, paying for it.  We were given a foundation that automatically gave us a leg up over others.

We didn't have unanticipated pregnancies when we were starting out or health issues or anything beyond our control that can lead to financial problems.

So even though we try to make smart financial choices now, and have been trying to for the past 17 years of our marriage, we had decades of fortune behind us that were often out of our control.

And, perhaps, this is one of the reasons why I struggle so with Christmas, with the story of Christmas, of the poor couple coming with virtually nothing into an unknown land, an unanticipated pregnancy, with everything hopeful that such a story could entail....of being cared for by others.

But along with that the knowledge that Christmas has become such a materialistic, consumer-driven, outdoing others, look-at-what-I-got occasion that drives so many people into debt, further into living paycheck-to-paycheck.

This is how my brain operates.  Cat poop leads to all this thinking.  

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