Friday, June 8, 2012

How to Live with a Cat (and Cat-Lover) as a Dog Person

  About a month ago, Jacob and I returned home from a visit to his parent's house with a bit of cargo we had not arrived there with. My sweet mother-in-law always sends us home with some gift she picked up for us (set of dishes, ironing board & iron, little needed houeshold items, etc.), but this time we came home not with a gift, but a curse: Nicolae the demon cat.

  Nicolae is known at Jacob's parents house as a monster. He likes to charge at innocent bystanders, biting their calves and leaving bruises and welts that last for days. In his spare time, he likes to find dark spots in the house and camp out there, waiting for people to walk by so he can attack. Needless to say, I did not want any part of this cat. My husband is very much a cat person though, and when he mentioned how much he has been wanting a kitty to his mom, she instantly volunteered Nicolae. The rest is history.

  How have I managed to live with this cat and his overly enthusiastic owner (my husband)? The truthful answer is: hardly. I'm going to share with you how I, devoted dog-lover that I am, have survived this past month living with Nicolae the demon cat. Hopefully this will help some other poor unfortunate soul.

1. Always remember that you are NOT dealing with a dog. However much you may want a dog, the cat is not magically going to become one. Therefore, aggressively rubbing the cat is not a good idea. Nor is it a good idea to chase them around. Or stroke his or her tail. These actions will not be considered "play" to the cat, and will likely result in the cat either hiding behind the washer for a few days or a vicous attack.

2. Do not chase the cat with a vacuum cleaner. Hilarious though it may be, it will result in the cat hiding for hours and your husband being very peeved at you and accusing you of animal abuse.

3. Make sure the cat cannot get under your bed. Some cats like to get under beds and couches and tear holes in the lining beneath them so that they can climb up inside of it. Nicolae is one of these cats. For the first week that he lived with us, he lived inside of our bed. Every day, Jacob would have to completely dismantle the bed just to get him out. We tried everything; every day we would make sure every crack and crevice was stuffed with pillows or blankets so that the cat couldn't get in, but he would always find a way. Some cat owners have had to nail plywood to the bottom of their beds to keep their cats from getting in; we were about a heartbeat away from doing this when the cat finally stopped altogether.

4. Respect the cat's space. Remember that quote, "Years ago, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this?" It's totally true. Unless you worship the cat (like my husband does), you are disposable to him. Therefore you must choose between two options: worship the cat. Buy him all kinds of toys and always be interested in what he's doing, pet him in the way he wants to be petted, etc., OR leave him be. I have chosen the second option. I am not a cat-lover and I am not about to pretend to be one. So Nicolae and I have an understanding. I respect his space and he respects mine...for the most part.

5. Understand that you will sometimes be attacked for no good reason. Cats are more loyal than they seem. Since my husband worships the cat, his loyalty is with him. Which means that when my husband punishes the cat for any reason, the cat's rage will be taken out on me. I know this. I accept it. He's been de-clawed, so that makes this truth a little more bearable.

6. Set limits for your cat-lover. I just learned this one yesterday. As a newly married couple, Jacob and I don't have a lot of money. We are trying hard to save, but something always seems to come up. Which is why I find it a wee bit ridiculous that Jacob won't stop buying toys for Nicolae! Every time we get paid, Jacob goes to the store and buys a new squeaky toy, a new bag of catnip, a new scratching post or castle, or any number of contraptions that involve something fuzzy hanging on the end of a string. Our roommate is starting to complain. Finally, yesterday, after Jacob bought the cat a tunnel to play in, I told him, "You have to stop buying toys for Nicolae." He already knew it, but sometimes a cat-lover just has to hear it from someone else.

7. Do not touch the cat with your foot. There will be consequences.

8. Do not touch the cat's tail, lower back, stomach, or back paws. If you must touch him, stroke him gently behind the ears, and never get too rough. Or...there will be consequences.

9. If you are even slightly allergic to cats, always wash your hands after touching them and never hold them against your skin. I have learned this the hard way.

10. Enjoy them=) Cats are evil. That is an undeniable truth. But sometimes, even pure evil can be really cute when it climbs inside of a box or traps itself in a Wal-Mart bag!

  Cats are complex creatures and there are probably a million more rules for living with them. These are just the top ten things I've learned while living with Nicolae this past month. Hopefully, as I said before, they benefit some other poor, unfortunate soul whom fate has stuck with one of these creatures.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God's Best Gift

  I just literally sat at my kitchen table and sobbed for the past fifteen minutes. Before you start asking what's wrong with me though, I will go ahead and tell you that I was sobbing tears of joy...I was crying the way that people only really cry when they realize how very much God has done for them, and are completely moved to the point that words are inadequate.

  I have a few old love letters from my husband (from back when we were dating/long distance) saved on my computer. I saved them just for memory's sake, but this morning I decided to go over them and read them for the first time since I got them. Now when I first got this particular letter, I read it with skeptical eyes. Jacob and I had been together for about 2 months at the time, and the letter was filled with romance and promises and a lot of intensity. I remember when I read it I was not as much moved by them as I was overwhelmed by his intensity. I remember not really knowing how to reply to them. At the time I thought it was just my personality to be aloof like be skeptical and unreceptive of love. However, when I re-read the letter this morning, I began to almost immediately cry. Every promise he had mentioned in the letter, he has fulfilled. When he promised he would stick it out through the hard times and would not let go of me no matter what life threw at us? He meant it. When he promised to be there for me when I was hurt? He meant it. When he told me he wanted to be there to hold me when I was wrinkled? Well, I'm not exactly wrinkled, but I know he will still be with me when I am.

  As strange as it may sound, just reading that letter again helped me to see how God has used Jacob to change me, and what a gift Jacob is to me. When I first read that letter, I was unreceptive. Two years later I am not only moved by his words, but I can see how he's fulfilled them. And I can see a change in me. Two years ago, I thought it was my "personality" to be unreceptive to love...I thought it was normal that it made me uncomfortable for someone to love me so much. Jacob has taught me how to be receptive of love by giving his love to me relentlessly. God used Jacob to show me His own love. I realized that this morning as I was reading, and that is what moved me to tears.

  This blog is not just about my husband, as wonderful as he is and as much as I adore him and am so, so thankful for his impact on my life - it is also about God's good gifts, and His willingness to give them to His children. Jacob, as I've said before, is God's best gift to me. I can't thank Him enough.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Prayers, please?

  Week 1: Apply for jobs. Unpack stuff. Enjoy new apartment. Spend time with husband. Put together meals. Start reading "The Hunger Games." Get on pinterest. Work on school work. Be very facebook active. Be very lonely.

  I am a person who needs people. I used to hate saying this and I truly believed that I was as independent as they come, and that I didn't need people. I now think that that was an immature attitude to have. EVERYONE needs people. Some people need people more than others, and I am one of those. I'm an extrovert. That doesn't necessarily mean that I'm super-outgoing (although I can be under the right circumstances), but it does mean that I need contact with people a lot. Introverts recharge by spending time by themselves doing quiet, introspective things. Extroverts recharge by being around people and having fun (or that is my understanding anyway). I haven't had enough "people time" for my liking lately.

  It's not the end of the world. In fact, it was to be expected. I knew I was moving to a place where I wouldn't know anyone. I knew that I wouldn't have a job right away and that I'd be spending a lot of time at the apartment by myself. I even knew I would be lonely the way I am right now. I accepted these things before I came here, and in spite of my loneliness (during the day, when my husband is gone), I am very happy with where I am and still believe with all my heart that this is where God wants me.

  So I am not trying to say by airing these frustrations that I regret my decision or that I am sad, depressed, or even desperate to meet people (at least not yet...I'm only one week in, haha). I am simply saying that I am lonely, that I feel I am lacking something quite essential to me, and that I'd appreciate prayers. First of all, please pray that if God has something He wants me to learn from this time by myself or something He wants to change in me, that I would be open to it and not look for people simply to have people around, but rather to turn my attention where He wants it. Second, please pray that I get a job. Financially, it isn't needed at the moment (although it would be a plus, for sure), but it's important to me. Third, please pray that I meet people (preferably young women around my age) and start making some friends in this area!

  I also have an idea in mind for a business I'd like to start...I've been thinking hard about it lately and am not sure exactly how it would work. Please pray that if it's what God wants I would have some kind of breakthrough in that department =) Thanks!

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 10th, and Brighter Days

The Dark Side
  Two days ago was the longest, and one of the most exciting days of my life so far. At 4:30 in the morning I got up, took a shower, and started getting ready to leave for the airport. I said goodbye to my sister at 6 AM and my mom, stepdad and I headed to Dulles. There, I said goodbye to them and took my first flight to Chicago.

  There was supposed to be an hour long layover, but my first flight was delayed, so when I landed in Chicago I headed straight for the next gate. My next flight was very fast and very relaxing. I got some sleep and I got to look out the window at the sky.

  We landed in Little Rock after about an hour and a half. My layover in Little Rock was scheduled for just under 3 hours (it was the cheapest ticket!). I worked on a little schoolwork, got something to eat, and called my husband. The few hours went by quickly, and then I boarded the third plane. I sat next to a mother and baby, and we talked casually, expecting the plane to take off as scheduled. However, after fifteen minutes past our departure time, the pilot got on the speaker and told us to exit the plane, and that they were having mechanical issues.

  I waited in line (with all the other stressed out people) to talk to the ladies working at my gate for about another 15 minutes only to be told to wait and see if the issue could be fixed. After ANOTHER 15 minutes of waiting to find out if it could be fixed, we were told that it couldn't. I spent the next very stressed out hour talking to people who worked at the airport, asking what I should do. The only answer they could give me was to go to the front of the aiport (so that I would have to go back through security) and see if I could get my ticket changed.

  I stood there talking to a very nice, but quite incompetent guy in ticketing who kept giving me all the wrong answers (ie, telling me the best answer would be to refund my ticket and buy another one even though I couldn't get a full refund on my ticket since I'd already flown, putting me on a later flight than the next one available, etc, etc.). Thankfully another worker came up and simply placed me on the very next flight then handed me a boarding pass.

  I had to go back through security, where they made me throw away a water bottle I had just bought, right before I had to go back to ticketing. And of course, at the airport, a bottle of water costs about the same as a bar of gold might anywhere else.

  About 2 hours after I was supposed to have already been with my husband, I boarded the plane (for the fourth time) and arrived in Texas an hour and a half later...and of course, when I landed, my luggage was nowhere to be seen. It turns out it had never left Washington, DC, and would have to be delivered to me the next day. My luggage fees are apparently non-refundable, too.

The Bright Side

  Did any of that matter when I was in my husband's arms again after not seeing him for two weeks (English to Newlywed-ese: 500 years)? NO. Not at all! And not having my luggage the next day hardly mattered to me either. I was so happy and so excited to be with him again! Just touching his face is so wonderful...

  He showed me our apartment, and I was SO impressed! I love the place! It is so beautiful and such good quality. We are so blessed to be able to move from my mom and stepdad's house right into a very nice apartment!

  We spent the night after that going grocery shopping together (very interesting), and doing other newlywed things. I could only stay up for so long though after being up at 4:30 in the morning and having such a hellish day, so when Jacob tried to put a movie on, I basically fainted. I fainted next to HIM though, so it's okay =)

  Yesterday, I spent all day long with my sweetie, and loved EVERY second of it. I cooked our first meal in our new apartment (hamburger helper and garlic bread) last night. It was so nice to be able to do that in my own place and be able to provide for Jacob in that way, even if it wasn't much!

  Today, I spent the day alone, worked on school a little, got a bath and got ready for the day, applied for a couple jobs (they both seem promising!), and unpacked my suitcases. The boxes will have to wait for another day!

  Just thought I'd give everyone an update on what's been going on since my move! I am very excited, and I definitely see this move as a good thing! Please continue to pray for Jacob and I. There are challenges ahead, of course...but I know that everything will be okay. I have him, he has me, and we both have God! That is everything we need.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A New Chapter and A Big Move

  Many of you may already know that Jacob and I have made a life-changing (somewhat - depending on what you'd call life-changing) decision. I am sorry about the manner in which some of you have found out. I have tried to use discretion in talking about it so that I could talk to my friends about this decision in person or at least one-on-one. But as the time is coming close for this change to come to fruition, it's clear to me now that I need to simply announce our plans.

  Jacob and I have decided to move to Texas. Dallas, Texas to be specific. The way this came about is a somewhat long story, but I will paraphrase it. Basically, Jacob was offered two job opportunities. One was here, and one was in Texas. The opportunities were both good ones, and we were torn. We have both been wanting for some time and for various reasons to go back to Texas, but it seemed so much easier to stay here. My family is here, and when I move I will miss them terribly. My job is here, and it is the best job I have ever had. I love my coworkers and my managers and the work is great as well. We found ourselves unsure of which way to go.

  So we prayed, and we prayed hard that God would show us which way He wanted us to go. Our prayer specifically was that God would make it absolutely clear to us which "door" we were to walk through. We asked Him to close whichever door He didn't want us to go through. He did this one day when after Jacob prayed that prayer his phone rang. It was the man who had been talking with him about the job here in this area. He had called to tell Jacob the position was no longer available because his background check was taking too long to come back since he had previously lived out of state. All the positions had been filled.

  After we received this confirmation, we decided to move full steam ahead. We signed a lease on an apartment in Mesquite, Texas. The place is beautiful, and I am very excited to live there! I will try to post pictures once we are settled in. Jacob is scheduled to leave with all our belongings (except those essential to me) this coming weekend, and I will be flying out to meet him on March 10th. We will be sharing the apartment with our good friend Josh for the next 12 months.

  I am extremely excited and extremely nervous about this move. I am having a lot of mixed feelings about it; I will miss my family and friends terribly, and I will miss my job. I will miss the area, too. But there is definitely a peace in my heart that I know is from God. I know that this is where He wants me and that there is a reason for that. I KNOW that this will be a good thing.

  Jacob and I would both appreciate your prayers as we start our life together. Please pray specifically for peace, that we would make friends quickly (this prayer is mostly for me, because I know very few people in that area and am not sure how soon I will be able to get a job).

  If you're reading this I probably love you. Thank you so much for your support!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Five-hundred-twenty-five-thousand-six-hundred minutes

  At the beginning of every year, I feel compelled to write a blog summing up the last one; describe highlights and low points, review lessons learned, etc. This blog is 2011's sum-up.

  I spent new year's 2011 with Jacob in Texas. At the stroke of midnight, he kissed me and whispered in my ear that 2011 would be the year we would get married. In spite of all previous evidence pointing to the fact that Jacob generally does the things he sets his mind to do, I found it hard to believe him.

  I went back to West Virginia where I continued living and attending classes at Shepherd University. It was a somewhat lonely time for me. I was surrounded by friends at Shepherd, but it was hard for me to be fully "there" knowing that Jacob was 2,000 miles away from me and could not be an active, physical part of my life. I often thought of and longed for the past.

  I did make some wonderful memories with friends in spite of my predicament. Many evenings were spent eating out with my friends, pulling all-nighters and IHOP runs with my roommate, helping friends out with school work and experimenting with a wide variety of ways to avoid my own! When the weather got warmer, I was ecstatic. I have happy memories of walking to class and seeing students playing guitar or writing in journals outside, laying on the lawn, some of them even sun-bathing! My roommate Hannah and I went through a tye-dye phase, which I loved!

  My heart broke a little bit when it was time to leave Shepherd University. I had resolved not to come back for the fall semester. Jacob and I had been talking more about marriage, and I was unsure as to whether or not I would be in West Virginia or in Texas when it came time to start school, so I had started looking into online school. It was so sad to see Turner 104 without my pictures on the wall, my books in a pile next to my bed, and Bootsie (my stuffed cat) sitting on the comforter. I was full of hope for the future when I turned my keys in, but there was definitely a part of me that knew I would miss the place terribly (and I do).

  Moving into my mom and stepdad's house was a transition. My family had moved in after I started school, so I had never called the place home. I got comfortable quickly though, and began focusing on Jacob's upcoming visit and starting school at American Public University.

  Jacob arrived in West Virginia on May 13th, 2011. I was so ecstatic to have him around again! Being without him for 4 months had been torture for both of us. The next day, on May 14th, he took me to Jefferson Rock and proposed! It was such a wonderful moment for me! I had known we were seriously contemplating marriage, but I finally had a ring on my finger and a promise. I was such a happy girl!

  The rest of the visit went happily. We watched movies together and stayed up late every night. We talked about our wedding plans and where we would live. He smoked cigarettes while I blew bubbles. Every day with him seemed magical. When he left, I was sad, but the ring on my finger kept my spirits high.

  In that next month, I secured a job at the Holiday Inn Express as a front desk clerk, and started classes at American Public University soon after. I liked my job at first, but found it hard to keep up with the ever-changing rules, and was very intimidated by my boss's bullying attitude. After about a month, I was terminated for not "having the right personality". At first, I was very stressed by my financial predicament and felt bad about myself for being rejected in that way. However, before long I was on the rebound again looking for another job!

  Jacob and I had discussed our engagement and prospects in depth, and decided that it would be best to take my mom and stepdad up on their offer to let us live in a room in their basement for our first year of marriage. He moved to West Virginia to be with me in July, and the next month or so was spent getting him settled in, buying a car, and getting used to living together.

  Jacob and I searched enthusiastically for jobs together while I maintained a (VERY) modest income continuing work at Kohl's, where I had worked for the previous two years. By early September, I got a phone call concerning the resume I had submitted to the Bank of Charles Town. They wanted me to come in for an interview! The hiring process was long and nervewracking, but the late September I was hired and on September 29th, I started as a teller. I loved my job instantly and learned its processes quickly as well.

  In October, Jacob and I decided we couldn't wait much longer to get married. Although we had been living in the same house for a few months, I could not (according to an agreement with mom and Gary) move into our bedroom until we were married. We loved each other and knew that we were ready to start the rest of our lives together, regardless of our youth. We began to focus heavily on our wedding. We set the date for November 13th and stuck to it. My whole family and a few friends pulled together and worked hard on making the day special for us. I found an elegant and simple wedding dress and the perfect lipstick. My mom decorated the place beautifully, fixed a lot of wonderful food, and made a cupcake tier. The ceremony was intimate, with only immediate family and one family that I have known since early childhood present. Jacob and I were both as nervous as we could possibly be, but as we looked at each other, there was a wonderful sense of peace that we both felt knowing we were making the right decision. I was reeling the whole day, in ecstatic disbelief that I could call this man "my husband".

  Later on in November, Jacob was also offered a job at Sheetz, which he started just before December started. This was a victory worth mentioning; it is nearly impossible to find a job lately. Even more so for Jacob, because some of the skills he had learned from previous jobs in Texas were not of much relevance here.

  This past month we have spent becoming more comfortable with our jobs and with married life. I have realized this past month that American Public University is not the school for me, and will no longer be attending. Other than that, December was fairly uneventful until Christmas Day. That morning, I woke up with a horrible stomach ache. Shortly after I woke up (before I could even touch my stocking), I began to sweat horribly, to the point where my skin felt cold and clammy. As this happened, I stared at my arm thinking, "This can't be normal..." My vision began to blur and I started getting dizzy. My mom knocked on the door to the bathroom (where I was when it started happening), and asked if I was okay. "Help..." I said weakly, and leaned over, virtually blind now, to open the locked door for her. My mom instantly started to freak out when she saw me. Apparently I was completely colorless and my pupils were dilated to the point that my irises weren't visible. I could hear her screaming for people to call 911, but only barely. My hearing was bad, too. I couldn't protest or stand up or do anything except feel HORRIBLE and helpless and try to see things without success. I thought I was going to die...on Christmas morning. My mom got some orange juice for me, which at first I refused telling her to "Get the toilet out of my mouth". When she convinced me that it was not the toilet or the trash can I was putting in my mouth, I drank, and color instantly began to return to my face, sight to my eyes, and hearing to my ears. By the time the ambulance arrived at the house, I looked perfectly normal, but they discovered that my blood sugar was fairly low. They were wonderful people, and very gentle and kind, saying they take the shift on Christmas day because they don't have children at home. I refused to go to the hospital with them, but they told me to call again if I needed to go again for any reason.

  Christmas was still Christmas in the most basic way, but I felt terrible all day and could hardly move, and the whole day was overshadowed by my family's worry for me and my own fear and confusion about what had happened. It just wasn't a very satisfying climax to the Christmas season for me =/

  This past week I went to see a doctor and was officially diagnosed with hypoglycemia, which means I have to change my eating habits a lot. I now have to eat six small meals a day instead of three big ones, and I can't eat a whole lot of sugar because my blood sugar could spike and crash the way it did on Christmas.

  I would say this has been an eventful year.

  To me, it's just amazing how a year can take you from one point to another without apology for any changes it might make to your life. In the year 2011, I both began to consider marriage, and actually got married. If you had asked me on December 31st 2010 if I thought this would happen, I would have said no. I would have said Jacob and I would probably wait a few years until I was out of school. I would say we might get engaged soon, but it would probably be a long engagement. Funny how we think we know where we're headed, isn't it?

  I am looking SO forward to all the wonderful and unexpected changes 2012 is going to bring me! I have a few goals (NOT resolutions) that I'd like to meet this year, and these are:

  1) Learn to truly love and accept myself. My insecurities are serving NO ONE.
  2) Learn to eat right for the sake of my health and not almost dying on a holiday again.
  3) Move out/hopefully buy a house.
  4) Learn to invest.
  5) Start my own business.
  6) Go back to Shepherd part time.
  7) Learn to crochet.

  In spite of all its ups and downs, 2011 was a good year. You have big boots to fill 2012, but I think you can do it=)

  Happy new year, everyone! If you've made it this far, thanks for reading my long-winded and somewhat scrambled blog!