Woman Disappears During Road Trip with Cats. Cats Wanted for Questioning.

Hear ye, hear ye! It has come to pass! NICOLE SHALL ESCAPE THE DESERT AT LONG LAST!

Arizona house is sold, Virginia house procured, school year finished, movers scheduled, resignation submitted, and all finer details busily attended to. The girls will fly to my mom’s for Nanapalooza ‘16, Scottie will prep our new home for my arrival – i.e. remove his action figures from all the ridiculous places they currently reside (last FaceTime session I noted some lining the mantle of the fireplace, YAY), and with a heavy sigh I’ll lock up an empty house, effectively bidding farewell to the backdrop of my 30s. I’ll then hop in my new-ish vehicle and embark on a five day road trip across our great nation.
With CATS!

‘Cause nothin’ screams road trip like the unholy, guttural chorus of two seriously pissed off cats!

But first, let’s take a side trip down Cat Lady Lane and become better acquainted with Dr. Pickles and his little brother, Buddha, aged 5 and 2.

This is Dr. Pickles. He has trust issues.


Took 2 years, but he finally trusts us. Mostly.

His first family dropped him off at a kitty orphanage when he was only five months old. He spent the next three months of kittenhood confined to a cage, until the day we arrived with a toddler who wanted “a REAL cat, one that I can pet, and name Pickles!” Our handsome black prince spent the first nine months of his life being called “Doc.” And so it was in this manner Dr. Pickles earned his PHD.

In time we learned he was also a colossal diva. I used to think he didn’t cover his poo because he’d been ripped from his mother too young. I’m now sure he doesn’t cover his poo because poo covering is for peasants! As for affection, such is meted out on very strict terms. The majority of petting is allowed between the hours of 5 and 8 AM. But not regular old petting. Oh no (‘Tis for peasants!). These sanctioned petting hours are more akin to a ritual worshiping a deity. During the hours of sunrise Pickles throws himself to the floor, directly in your path, stretching to his full, impressive length, and lays before you, prone. One gleaming yellow eye in your direction signals that, at this time, and this time only, peasants may approach, to vigorously rub his soft, wonderful belly –  in thanks, and humility, and prayers for a good harvest.

He’s fond of ritual. Like, OCD-fond. Like the precise and repetitive paw swiping (scent marking) of the floor surrounding  his food dish after we’ve filled it, but before he eats. We call it the Pickles Dance. And then, after feasting, he will fetch a toy mouse and plop it in his dish. As if to say, “It could have used more flavor. Peasants.”
He likes things just so.
And he pees on change.

Buddha, on the other hand…


He Speshul

True to his namesake, Buddha is waaaaaay more chill! He shares none his brother’s stranger anxiety or “shittin’ particulars.” If Buddha had a Tinder profile, it would read: “Easygoing, HWP, likes parkour and kneading softy blankies, catnip friendly, open to dogs.” He also shares none of his brother’s intelligence. We adopted him at 8 weeks, and he seemed to cease growing soon thereafter. He’s a petite thing, with his dainty orange paws and the world’s tiniest orange head – that houses an even tinier knucklehead brain. He’s mentally a teenager right now, so he’s as much sweet and adorable as he is a shithead and an idiot.

And they’re both very, VERY good boys!

Truly they are. I love them with all my heart! So much so, I’m committed to making their impending transition the least traumatic experience possible. Especially considering how their trauma won’t begin on travel day one. It will start the day the movers come in and dismantle their entire indoor cativerse!

I considered flying them, of course. One terrifying day in the belly of a plane (no sedatives allowed) vs. five days of home deconstruction and five more days trapped within the terror vortex known as CAR (with a once trusted human who’s now clearly out to destroy them)! A few years back my friend Rose made the drive from this corner of the desert to Chicago, IL with her own finicky felines in tow. I consulted her immediately, and she just as immediately informed me that cargo-shipping pets when temps run above 85 is a no-go. Arizona in June = Fahrenheit 100. She recommended I call the vet and talk sedatives.

So I did.
Here’s how that five minute car ride went:


Good news is, they’re healthy. Aside from Pickles’ Periodontal Disease. He needs to have two teeth extracted, to the tune of 500 dollars, because his body white-blood-cell-ninja attacks his tartar buildup so hard it inadvertently destroys his teeth in the process. And that process is FAST; two years ago his teeth were exemplary! They told me I could wait until we’re settled with a vet in VA, that his situation isn’t urgent, but that it’s also likely causing him pain.

I scheduled his oral surgery for this Tuesday. I’d rather he be pain-free and convalesce in the home he knows (and pull $500 out of my asssss—-stounding magical money tree) before the Klan of Mover Demonoids commeth and tear his everything all to shit.

Their cat carriers have been out and open in the living room for weeks. I’m armed with sedatives, Feliway, and treats. I’ve got harnesses, comforts of home, a road-time game plan of 8-hours-a-day-tops, and pet-friendly hotels galore. All tips from the brave fur-parent souls who’ve come before me, and have graciously shared their wisdom.

But, since I’m currently competing with Dr. P on the anxiety front..…


Chin up, Buttercup, a New Day Dawns

Rang in 2016 with my mother, my mother-in-law, Maddy, Lily, and two of Maddy’s best friends. It made for a very joyous, very full household. We blew noisemakers, threw confetti, lit amateur hour fireworks, twirled sparklers; all in the street in front of my little ten year old house. Fun, simple, sweet – all words I cannot apply to 2015 itself. A sentiment Mads echoed with her NYE countdown, “Okay, guys! Only three minutes left of this TERRIBLE year!” It didn’t help that the last days of said terrible year were filled with tears, as we watched Scottie pack up a U-Haul and move to DC.

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By now, friends reading this know Scott accepted a job offer in VA. A job he was offered the day before Halloween. A job we had to keep mum about, for two months, in case the whole thing fell through. After a six month long struggle to find local employment befitting his talents (aside from a part-time, on-call, secret squirrel gig that required actual disguises and a Beastie Boys “Sabotage” style ride that ended in him hosing the interior of a rental car with projectile vomit), he cast his net wider and, what do ya know, he landed in his old stomping grounds.

MD/VA/DC is home for him, and the job – helping catch international bad guys, behind the virtual wheel of a motion sickness-free desk – excited him. Win, win – right? We certainly never intended to settle in Arizona. This decade long AZ run due only to an unlikely set of freak circumstances. But, by the time he retired from the Army, we’d got comfortable. Sierra Vista was familiar. Life here was easy. A known (sucky, but known) quantity. Oh, and then there was also the matter of the house. The luckless, piece of shit, housing-market-bubble-bought, albatross of a godforsaken house we purchased in 2006. The house we currently can’t sell back to Satan to save our souls.

Already I feel badly for bad-mouthy-blogging my house. It was perfect once. The perfect starter home for two adults in their early 30s and their four year old daughter. And all the beautiful memories made here; they’ll show up in my dreams for the rest of my life! Nonetheless, we were hopelessly stupid home buyers. Coming from a young adulthood of apartment/city-living, the two of us were all, “Gold fixtures? Well that’s perfectly acceptable. And the world’s tiniest backyard? You mean we have a BACK YARD??? Sold!” Five years, one additional daughter, and a heap of material stuff later, we’d outgrown our starter home. Sadly, like a great deal of the United States, we were also underwater on our mortgage, and in one of the worst housing markets in the country.

So, that’s all that’s keeping us here; holding me and the kids hostage. This house, and the difference between what it sold for in 2006 vs. the 50k less it will sell for now. That’s what’s splitting up our family. Funny how the military only did that once, but a bailed-out bank has the power to do so indefinitely. And imagine my complete shock at learning that, because we’ve never been late on a payment, or any payment of any kind – and because our debt was relatively nil and our credit outstanding –we might not be able to prove a “financial hardship.” Because we are responsible adults? Because being financially raped by a pre-recession banking hustle – that is today, without dispute, recognized as having been both inherently and abhorrently corrupt – is just what we get for being young and dumb. But if we’d blown ten credit-card-lender-grand here, and twenty frivolous thousand there, then we would qualify for relief?
Then we’d be primed for a…oh, what do they call it again…a…BAILOUT?!


All to say, I’ve stayed behind to deal with the house.

Today my boss called to offer me a job in Alexandria, VA – a stone’s throw from my Scottie. Someone just resigned in our office there, and, “say…just how soon will you be moving out here, anyway?” Excellent question! Soon? Soon-ish? In a wee bit? In a while? A few months from now? Summertime? Next fall? Winter?  Maybe goddamned never?
I had to decline, and ask to be kept in mind.

But, as always, I’m keeping my chin up…like an exceptionally grumpy buttercup.

"dem skies, tho...."

“dem skies, tho….”

End of an Era

With every Halloween there comes the inevitable question, “What are you guys dressing up as this year?”

Ween 2014

Ween 2014

Asked by friends and family with utmost enthusiasm; genuinely excited to learn what fun costume ensemble my husband, my girls and yours truest plan to reveal that year. We’re assured just how much they look forward to it, every year.  Last Friday, Oct 30th, my ex-husband texted, “By the way…..what’s the family theme this year?” Even he’s into it!  But perhaps our last minute group effort in 2014 should have served as an omen of things to come – or to not.  Yet I still didn’t see it coming when Maddy came to me and stated, “I don’t want to dress up this year. I just want to stay at home with my best friend and pass out candy.”

And so it goes, inside just a few short words, another teenage daughter plunges a knife RIGHT THROUGH HER MOTHER’S HEART!

Except that, of course I saw it coming; the rational portion of me, anyhow. After all, I’d quit dressing up at her age. Not all together, of course. I participated in whatever half-assed grease paint and/or wearing of cheap, plastic, gum-slicing fangs that my friends and I had lamely agreed upon. It’s not that I was in denial about her growing up, or that I had no idea teenagers, as they progressively teen, prefer to hang less with family and more with friends. I’ve never forgotten what it is to be her age, and I knew she’d one day outgrow our annual spooktastic fam fest– the very one she was responsible for creating at age 5. It’s merely that I thought she knew this particular holiday was IMPORTANT!

I thought she knew that the complete Halloween happiness of as many as a dozen whole people relied upon whether or not our family chose an inspired theme, costumed ourselves accordingly, and then posted photographic evidence of our glory for all to see.
I just… I just thought I’d raised her better.

It was during this crisis-of-the-mothering-soul that she attempted  to sooth me, “It’s okay, mom. Just let Lily pick the theme. That’s how it all started anyway, when I was little. There were only three of us then. Just pretend it’s like back then.” And, even though it’s not like then, because it’s all very much NOW, her effort to comfort me actually worked.

Ween 2015

Ween 2015

But unlike 5 year old “I wanna be a devil” Maddy, and 6 year old “I wanna be Wednesday Addams” Maddy, our littlest Lily is deathly afraid of all things scary this year (more than half our usual Halloween decor went undisplayed) and she told us she wanted to be a banana.
And daddy would be a monkey. And I would be Carmen Miranda.
And so it was.

On that most sacred night of thrillsome nights, Maddy and her best friend (wearing high-waisted jean

IMG_20151106_174925shorts and turtleneck sweaters) dressed as Monica and Rachel from “Friends,” stayed behind at our house and passed out candy.

Lily trick-or-treated as the cutest 1st grade banana of all time, and thoroughly enjoyed her parents serving as her supporting cast. 

All of it working out splendidly. All of it marking the end of an era.

“End of an era.” As far as family themes go, those four words depict a fitting one for 2016 – and I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout Halloween.
But that, my friends, is another story for another time.

Baby Pit

  1. My pal Mike doesn’t have children (just a pug, cats need not apply) nor does he want them. He doesn’t hate them, he’s just not interested. So it goes that a lot of kid-affiliated subject matter is foreign to him. Like the time he was trying to describe an infant in a playpen and said, “You know, it was in one of those things …..one of those baby cages.”
    He’s yet to live that one down.
  2. I’ve never been Johnny-on-the-spot with my cell phone, and at this late date I doubt I ever will be. Most of the time I misplace it, and don’t care – and then I can’t find it because, due to neglect, the battery died. I don’t realize this until I need it, of course. But whenever it is on my person and fully charged, I DON’T need it, and no one else seems to need me to have it. It’s not until the damn thing is lying lifeless at the bottom of the laundry hamper, or under the passenger seat of my car, that there’s some emergent situation where someone needs to get ahold of me RIGHT NOW, or vise versa.
    Point is, it means I’m not a prompt texter-backer person. But my friends text me anyway, and thank the heavens for it! Because later, whenever I eventually re-tether my electronic leash, hilarity awaits me. And that’s a very wonderful thing!

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Screenshot_2015-09-17-13-21-32 Screenshot_2015-09-17-13-21-46 Screenshot_2015-09-17-13-22-00

The Title is Title

The following are titles of blog posts I’ve intended to write for years but probably never will:

  • McDonalds’ Playhell: Lord of the Fries
  • South American Donald Trump Wants You to Buy a Classy Thong
  • I Just Gave You Melanoma
  • Return of the Working Mother (Demise of the Magic Fucking Laundry Fairy)
  • The Korean Cab Hustle
  • My life with PMDD: Premenstrual Dysphoric DEATHtoALL
  • Kid-Free, Clothing Optional
  • Soju Blackout
  • If There’s Lipstick on Her Teeth, It’s a Vicodin Day
  • Hello Ultra-size Tampon, Goodbye Hymen
  • Damnit Niki: And Other Tales of Assholery

Then again, my failure to share these gentle, heartwarming tales might just be for the best.

Because Wine.

The fabulous owner of our beloved local vino bar, Hoppin’ Grapes, has invited me and two other lucky ladies to an industry wine tasting event in Tucson, later this month, and my cheeks are all aflush just thinking about it.

It’s a large, annual event held at a beautiful resort where vendors ply merchants with free booze and food. Excellent booze, superb food. Some friends of mine were invited to go last year, and they described the experience as something close to a celestial playground for lushes.
A fermented nirvana.
Heaven for winos.

“I had a 300 dollar glass of wine, and do you know what? It tasted like a 300 dollar glass of wine! I tasted every dollar of it. Every. Dollar. It was amazing……… I think it changed my life.”
That may not be a direct quote, but close enough.

Thus my team of wine-tasty ladies and I have already booked our master suite and, it likely goes without saying but, MY EXCITED MENTAL CARTWHEELS OF EXCITEMENT ARE SO FREAKING EXCITED RIGHT NOW. Because, if there’s a chain in this scenario, anywhere, I’m completely certain this event is going to fly the frack off it!

The only draw back might be that I’d recently decided to make ever-so-slight changes to the amount (abundance?) of intoxicating beverages I consume. Perhaps a contradictory goal in light of today’s “Whoo-hoo! Let’s party, bitches!” war cry. But……it’s all good. And fine. And well.
Pay no mind to the drunken woman behind the curtain.


Cat Van-GO

Last winter my friend Mike was commissioned to deliver his soon-to-be ex-wife her household goods and a couple of cats. When he returned, and told me the tale, my reaction was, “You did WHAT with the cats??!!!”
Then I begged him to blog it. And he did.

Note to cat lovers: he (generally) means well.

the grumpy blogger

Cat VanGo

I apologize in advance, this post is very long. But worth the read:

Back in January of 2015 I needed to take care of some loose ends. I had a storage unit full of furniture and two cats that did not belong to me, in Arizona. I had to deliver both to a condominium in Utah that I had just purchased for someone else – as a condition of my future freedom.

I will admit that I occasionally make questionable choices, but I was pretty sure that I had developed a plan above reproach. I would rent a truck, load it full of furnishings, and drive 14 hours to deliver the load to its new home. I spent less time considering the cats, I have to admit. Ok, NO time. I had calculated the space taken up by all of the items and determined the best size truck to transport…

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