Learning to Let Go and Be At Peace With Nature (Or: The Blog Post I Would Have Written If I Were Not Me)


It's been pretty quiet around the blog lately, hasn't it, friends? That's partly due to my job becoming uber demanding and draining, but there are other culprits to share the blame: fleas. And I kept avoiding writing about them, even though they were constantly on my mind, because I was like, "Gross. Who would ever think a blog post on fleas would be something people wanted to read?" And then I thought, well, perhaps some bloggers would turn the invasion of their home by blood-sucking, non-stop-breeding, difficult-to-kill fiends into a 'learning experience' wherein they realized their need to 'let nature take its course' and 'not sweat the small stuff.' You know, embrace the circle of life and the animal kingdom in all its forms and ultimately shush to sleep the OCD cleaning monster that waits eagerly within us all, breaking through to a new realm of calm and serenity and acceptance.

I am not that blogger, and this is not that blog post.

Neither is this a blog post that will outline the life cycle and habits of fleas, detailing the nitty-gritty aspects of their ruthless ways, because IT WILL HAUNT YOU. And you will live in fear of fleas, consequently caulking the hell out of every hole in your home until you've convinced yourself you might be safe. You'll cover your home in white sheets, white clothes, white drapes, white EVERYTHING, so if the tricky buggers have infiltrated, you'll catch them at their initial breach. I care too much about you, readers, to lead you into that particular circle of hell.

I know what you're thinking. "Fleas, Maryann? That's it? You're sure you don't mean termites or cockroaches or spiders? Everyone with a pet gets fleas at least once--it can't be that big a deal. How bad can they be?"

Allow me to paint a picture for you... My cat, Oz, has retreated to the top of our kitchen cabinets. He only pauses his incessant grooming to meow at me mournfully, refusing to eat or drink or use his litter box. I crouch over the still-warm vacuum, tears streaming down my face as I whisper-sing to him, "Nothing's gonna harm you, not while I'm one's gonna harm you, no one's gonna dare..."

Or here's another picture: me, covered head to toe in clothing with no gaps save for my face, brushing Oz with a flea comb. Unable to kill the fleas I find with my gloved hands (their shells are too strong) I place them on the table and crush them with the blunt end of a kitchen spoon, allowing, of course, they didn't JUMP AWAY FIRST.

Yes, we had a bad infestation. I think it's due to my not knowing the signs of fleas, and therefore ignoring them for over a week. (Note: if you're pet looks like they've been rolling around in pepper flakes, THEY'VE GOT FLEAS. Unless, of course, you bathe your cat in pepper.) Once the truth dawned on me, everything went into panic mode. How do I alleviate the suffering of my poor cat? Where can I eat, sit or sleep in a place where no surface is safe from these monsters? My initial reactions:

- Like Amy in Little Women after Beth contracts scarlet fever, Oz must be taken away from this dangerous place, whisked into the night, far away to a home where he'll be safe
- Do vacuums have lifespans? How many vacuums is too many vacuums? If I vacuum before I go to work, come home and vacuum on my lunch break, vacuum before dinner, and then once more before bed, what will my electricity bill look like?
- I will sleep in the bathtub. I don't care that it makes my back hurt and I won't be able to actually become unconscious. IT IS THE ONLY WAY.
- Is this a plague sent by God to punish me? You know, like pestilence?
- I will shrink-wrap mine and Oz's entire bodies.

I cried through Oz's whole vet visit, which is probably why it cost over $200.* "Give me all your drugs! All of them! Anything for my baby...ANYTHING!" And then add another good chunk of cash onto the Fleabusters who came last weekend and dusted the place in a safe, Ph-balanced powder that should, in 2-5 weeks, get rid of the fleas completely, guaranteed, for a year.

Until then, I've been acting like any sane person would, running everything I own in the hottest heat the dryer provides, eating my dinners on the kitchen counter on top of a plate on top of a cutting board on top of a towel, and canceling all socializing so I can fit in a few more rounds of vacuuming. The best news is, Oz is doing so much better, and because of it, is %800 more cuddly. Not that you could tell from this picture:

But you'll have to take my word for it, because no one is entering our home again until 2012.

*Yes, I've struggled with the idea of spending that kind of money on a cat. Yes, it should have gone to a charity or a sick person or a third-world country instead. And I am ready to answer for that when I get to heaven someday (or hell, if this was just one more nail in that likely coffin). God will ask me why I spent so much money on a stupid cat and I will respond, "Because we belonged to each other in a way no one else did. He greeted me each evening when I came home from work, let me cry into his fur when I was sad (or had too much to drink--often both at once), slept by my side, and put more scars on my body than my neurosurgeon. I'm not saying he deserved it more than anyone else, I'm just saying that's why I had to spend it." And then I'd launch into a stirring rendition of "Everlasting Love" (the Rex Smith/Rachel Sweet song, not the Natalie Cole one that's in every 90s romance movie) but before I got to the chorus I'm pretty sure God would send me at least to purgatory.


Amber said...

Picturing you singing "nothings gonna harm you..." to oz made me laugh till i cried. Thanks for that, it made my week! I hope you are well and flea free now. I miss you alot!
*Lenny had fleas last year & I found a really good (and healthy for cats) flea powder at a pet shop in Fremont, just past that place where we used to meet for thai food.

Erin said...

AHH! Despite the frustration you must be feeling, your posts never fail to make me smile and laugh.

I wish our schedules weren't so opposite. I do really want to see you before we leave—even if it's coffee/lunch on a Saturday/Sunday.

Chelsea Lee said...

oh silly rabbit. i wish you had called me, i happen to be a flea expert! btw, i've decied that you should write a book. it needs to happen. cancel all other life plans- this is priority 1!

Kristen said...

Oh my gosh, this made me lol. So much lol-ing. I liked the Little Women reference, but my mind went to the Velveteen Rabbit, aka one in an endless scourge of horrifyingly depressing childhood books. Oh, you're sick, little child? Let's burn everything you hold dear!

Jess said...

I definitely agree with Chelsea on her demand- you need to write a book!! I'd buy it and copies for all my friends.

I had a similar horrific experience back in Feb. 2010, when I got lice from two kids at work. I was banned from my workplace, and didn't even get worker's comp! And then there's the nonstop cleaning and paranoia that really takes it out of a person! Not to mention people (my coworkers and parents of the kids I worked with) looked at me and treated me as a leper. That was fun. I am still paranoid about lice! It sounds like fleas are just as aggravating!