Cats and Catastrophe

I promised to deliver on cat pictures at some point during my sojourn as a blogger.  Let today be that day.

Had there been some sort of vote in high school for ‘person most likely to be found rocking in a corner cradling a basket of kittens’ I am confident the voting public would have cast their ballot for me.  I am, generally, a well spoken, articulate young woman.  However, immediately a cat is in the vicinity, an alarming change comes over me.  It’s sort of the way some people are with babies.  Or the way Kirsten Bell is with sloths.  To quote that one crazy lady from that one short lived internet meme “…I’m sorry.  I’m thinking about cats again.”

At home (read: in Australia) I have two cats.  They are both rescues who came to me initially as foster kittens who I then found myself inexplicably unable to let go of.  Child 1, Percy Bysshe Shelley, is an overweight white cat with a fucked up tail that resembles a windscreen wiper (baby, he was born that way).  Child 2, T.S. Eliot, is an extremely large tabby who, although initially aloof, became so attached to me that he would whinge outside my bedroom door in the mornings – not to be fed, just because he wanted our customary 45 minute cuddle before he resumed his normal day to day routine.  I had a dream about Eliot last night where I flew back to Australia for 24 hours specifically to visit him.  My mother was bemused.  The cat was pleased.

As you can imagine, being in a household sans cat is, therefore, taking its tole on me.  I have developed the disconcerting habit of squealing “THERE’S A KITTY!” mid-conversation, when I spy I feline on the street, from the window of a passing car, anywhere in public, etc.

Here’s the thing about New Orleans: there are many, many stray cats.  Some people speculate this is a post-Katrina thing.  Certainly there were a lot of animals orphaned during the storm, and it makes sense that the stray population experienced a sort of boom thereafter.  When I visited New Orleans in 2010 I noticed that strays tend to congregate in Jackson Square at night.  It’s almost eerie, actually.  You look through the bars into the park and there are all these cats – 20-30, usually – just chilling out.  Sometimes grooming each other.  Lazing about.  Shooting the breeze, or whatever it is cats do in large groups (plot our demise?).

As a result of this, I have taken to carrying cat treats around with me, in my bag, at all times.  This is a purely selfishly motivated decision.  I want to pet a kitty.  I want to pet a god damned motherfucking kitty.  And I will do it.  COME HOOK OR BY CROOK, I WILL DO IT!

I’ve also gravitated to people who already own cats.  In fact, right now, the primary requirement to be my new best friend is to possess a feline.  My friend Joseph’s cat Tigerlily is being roped (somewhat unwillingly) into being my surrogate cat-daughter.  The first time I met her, she bit me on the face.  Things have improved a little since then.

Which leads me to the night I found myself browsing Craigslist.

Australia doesn’t really have a Craigslist.  We have Gumtree, which is the same concept, but executed in a typically Australian way (meaning it is underutilised and kind of useless).  Since being in America, I have been stunned at how useful (and how hilarious) Craigslist is.   A friend messaged me the other night to see if I wanted to come out for a drink.  My response was “FSSST!  No!  I’m eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon and reading Craigslist!”

Which is how I found an ad, posted by a nice chap named Nathan, asking for donations of cat food.

Look, I’ll admit.  I was maybe slightly drunk when I read this ad.  But my heart swelled with soft, fluffy feelings for Nathan and his quest to feed the neighborhood strays.  Did I have spare cat food?  No.  In fact, I question who on earth would ever have spare cat food just lying around.  Either you have a cat, who one would assume requires said food, or you don’t, in which case what business do you have keeping your fridge stocked with emergency Fancy Feast?  Either way, I wrote him an email.  “Nathan!” I said “I will go to the grocery store!  I will buy you some cat food!”

Then I sort of forgot.  A day later, Nathan emailed me back.

“That’s really sweet of you!” he said “But a friend paid me back the money they owed me so I can afford it now.  Don’t worry about it!  I hope something great happens to you today!”

This is how people are in this town.

I went to Rouses.  I bought a 12 pack of Meow Mix.  Then I bought a small card with a picture of a cat on it and a hilarious cat-related pun on the inside cover.

Then I commandeered my house mate and together we drove the few blocks from my house to this guy’s house (he had previously given me the address at which to drop cat food).  Not wanting to be The Crazy Girl Who Turned Up At Your House With A Cat Themed Card and Meow Mix, I ninjaed my way out of Stephanie’s Ford Festiva, jumped over the sink hole in this guy’s front yard and deposited the food and card on his door step.  I then returned to the car, happy to have completed my secret mission…well, secretly.  Before I tripped and fell in a puddle.

Upon re-entering the car, I was heard to yell “QUICK, STEPHANIE!  DRIVE!”

These are the things I do when I do not have cats in my life.

Which brings us neatly to the ‘Catastrophe’ part of this entry.

On Monday morning, I woke up and attempted to turn on my laptop.  It would not turn on.  I was a little miffed by this, but assumed it may have been out of battery.

I took it into the kitchen.  I sat down at the kitchen table.  I plugged it into the charger, which was plugged into the wall.

I pressed the on button.

Nothing happened.

This was not typical for my three month old Sony Vaio.  I would contend that this is not typical for most unbroken, functional machines which 12 hours previously had been happily streaming Doctor Who with nary a care in the world.

Perplexed, I turned the machine over and popped out the battery.  The battery looked okay.  I mean not that I am Chief Examiner of Batteries, but you know…it hadn’t melted or anything.  I blew on it, assuming that the DIY fix for VHS machines circa 1980 would probably work for laptops, too.  Then I popped it back in the machine.

At this point, my laptop caught on fire.

My room mate, who had just entered the room, suggested (rather calmly, I feel, given the situation) that we should perhaps unplug it and take it outside before the house burned down.

We did so.  It lurked on the back porch for awhile, smoking malevolently.

Later on, when I hesitantly popped the battery back in again (this time with the laptop disconnected from the wall charger), it began smoking again.

The moral of this story is: I have no fucking idea.  Why the hell does a laptop spontaneously combust?  I am hoping this is something Sony will be able to answer for me after I ship my laptop back to them, although the initial Sony consultant I spoke with seemed convinced that my laptop had probably caught fire because it was made in Australia.

Nice try, buddy, but I’m pretty sure all Sony laptops are manufactured in Taiwan or similar.  Also despite being Australian, I don’t really have a penchant for appliances that burst into flame.  Well.  Only some of the time.

The good news is that I was able to recover my data (I back up frequently, but there were a few things missing).  I took my computer to Magazine Street Computers on (wait for it, this will blow your mind) Magazine Street uptown.  I knew I was onto a good thing when I walked in and there were three cats.  Three.  THREE!  (See?  We’ve come full circle).  The fellow who runs the store (BJ) was lovely, patient and reasonable.  And he loves cats.  AND HIS CATS LOVED ME.

Proof that I was loved by a cat.

Not only did BJ recover my data for me (at a really reasonable cost) he also rented me a laptop (which he doesn’t ordinarily do – but he happened to have one lying around) to use in the mean time.  Which, in my first week of Graduate School, was pretty much a life saver.  Also he’s published a book about surviving cancer which, for every sale, contributes part profit to Cancer Research.  What I am saying is: BJ is awesome.

Stay tuned to Amerikia for an entry about the Louisiana Gas Station (Rosary Beads!  $4 wine!  Pickled Pigs Feet!), a rant about how difficult it is to find Blu Tack ANYWHERE and a few thoughts on UNO’s MFA program.

 

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