It wasn’t surprising the summer of 2020 didn’t end as expected. “As expected” ended in March. We roll into fall, where I would normally be anticipating the football season, but here we go, not knowing how long or what players will be in the game.
Forget about doing live music gigs. Even the Rose parade has been cancelled and every other holiday tradition, right up to Valentine’s Day of next year is kind of hanging in a closet of uncertainty, like my band wardrobe. Might be just as well I haven’t been out in public much. I have only been able to have one mani-pedi and one hair appointment in six months.
There have been other disappointments and struggles for me this summer. Not as major as other people have faced. I am still employed and everyone close to me is healthy. I know others have had it a lot worse, but the constant stress of having to “mask up” and worry who you run into every time you leave the house has only added to my overall feeling of darkness.
In an effort to bring some joy into my life, I set out to adopt a kitten, looking to replace the void in our little family after losing Kato. Even that was difficult, having more people looking for animals then available animals in the shelter.
Finally, I got the call I had been waiting for. A beautiful two month old grey tabby was ready for me to adopt. Her foster mother described her as high energy and a bit of a drama queen. The smartest of the litter, a quick learner and affectionate, but very strong willed. She sounded like a perfect combination. She was named Apple, but I quickly renamed her Aja Blue, after my favorite Steely Dan album (Aja) and my favorite Steely Dan song (Deacon Blues). The D-Man and I had been listening to a lot of Steely Dan this summer.
She has lived up to all the things her foster mother said about her. She spent the first week trying to show her 80 pound dog brother that she was ready to rumble until she finally realized he wasn’t going to fight her. Instead Kody has gone in to tolerate mode, sometimes looking at me as if to say, “When is she going to stop being so crazy?”
Then about two weeks ago, I took her to be spayed. I took the day off from work and combined dropping her off and picking her up with having my electrical panel upgraded. Maybe not the best combo in hindsight, since it was another hot day and there was no electricity.
I brought her home just as they were wrapping up and she was livid. Livid that she had to ride in the car in a cage. Livid she woke up in pain and livid that she now had a cone on her head. I made the mistake of trying to switch out the one they sent her home in with a softer one I had bought for her. It didn’t fit and I couldn’t get the one she had been given back on.
So in the middle of having construction folks wrapping up, I had to get in the truck and drive her to the vet to have them put the cone back on. Meaning another car trip that she was freaking out about.
I sat in the truck as they took her in, hot, stressed and wondering how in the heck I was going to get through two weeks with a kitten in a cone. Two weeks? I couldn’t imagine her wearing the damn thing for two minutes! How was she going to eat and drink in that thing? Would her cone head even be able to get into the fancy litter box with the small hole that I had bought for her?
The vet assistant who brought her out was wonderfully upbeat. “She did fine!” she told me.
“So can she eat and drink in this thing?” I asked. “I mean, do I have to take it off and try to get it back on again?”
“Oh no, kittens adjust. Just leave it on for the two weeks. She will get used to it and do just fine.”
To say I was doubtful is an understatement.
Once I got her back home, she finally settled down and stopped trying to pull the cone off. She even took a nap in it and sure enough, managed to eat and drink with it on. Getting in the litter box, though noisy, barely phased her.
By the third day, she had her cone head walk down. A little swagger with her big head swaying side to side, ready to face the world. She quickly got back to doing jumps, playing with toys and clearing the back of my office chair to land in the middle of my desk, all with a big plastic hat that should have thrown her balance way off. This cone head existence had become her new normal. She accepted it and moved on. After all, there were wadded balls of paper to chase!
No 2020 wasn’t what we expected, any more than a kitten expects to wake up in a cone. Livid to start, it takes less than a day to accept they have to wear something uncomfortable around their neck and move on. They don’t spend a lot of time wishing for what was, because why do that when you can still play, eat and sleep on a comfortable couch or a sunny window?
It got me thinking. We could all use a little bit of that cone head swagger now, couldn’t we?