Why I Totally Suck At Blogging

I swear I meant it when I said I wanted to write regularly.

In the middle of July, I bought myself this domain name as a way of encouraging myself to write more.  I wanted to hone my craft a little, and maybe even connect with friends and other people around the world.  From July 13th until July 30th, I think I did just that.  I published 5 different pieces in the time, some I was even happy with.

Then, right after my birthday, I quit.  I had ideas for stuff to write about, but when the time would come to actually grab my laptop, I’d watch television instead.  Or read a book.  Or check out Facebook and Twitter on my phone.  Or eat.  Anything to avoid actually writing.  Why do I do that?

Well, for one thing, I’m lazy.  Really lazy.  I think I’ve always been this way.  I’m practically a hermit, for one thing, and most all activities I’ve ever involved myself with outside of my house I end up quitting.  So, on top of being lazy, I’m also a quitter.  It’s a bad combination.

Secondly, it’s tough for me to work up the desire to write when I know I’m going to repeat the very opinions in my head on the upcoming episode of Strange Frequencies Radio.  Podcasting with my friend Bobby is one of the few things I actually enjoy, and while I think I express myself much better in writing, I end up thinking, “Why write about this when you’re just going to talk about it on the show Sunday?”  And that is typically the end of that.

stachesandglassesFinally, and maybe stupidest of all, is that I don’t often think I have anything important to say.  Or, if I do, I figure someone else can and will say it better.  So, why should I bother?  My opinion is dumb, everyone will hate me if I express it, so maybe I’ll let someone else smarter than me do it.  That’s basically the thought process.

This all sounds like whining.  It probably is.  If I had a friend who used these excuses I’d tell them to knock it off.  “Yeah,” I’d tell them, “you are pretty damn lazy, that’s true.  But you can at least put the Cheetos down once a week, or every other week, and post something, can’t you?  It doesn’t have to be some Homeric epic, dude, just put a little something together.”

I’d keep going at them.  “As far as this podcast you do interfering with your desire to get your thoughts in writing goes, you can knock that off, too.  You’re just looking for an excuse.  Use the blog as a way to clarify the thoughts in your head.  That way, come Sunday, you’ll be able to express yourself more clearly.  You’ve been saying you want to be a better speaker, right?  Well, this could help!”

That’s when they would start in with the “yeah, but…” and I’d say, “No ‘yeah but!’  Hush!  You have to knock it off with this self-doubt stuff, man.  Are your opinions going to change the world?  Probably not.  But, who cares?  Don’t sell yourself short.  You put a lot of thought into the things you believe, which is more than a lot of people do.  Plus, even when you express an opinion that may not be popular, or that may aggravate someone, you tend to have a way of saying it in a non-threatening manner.  You don’t get in people’s faces about it.  If anything, you tend to ask questions instead of making assertions, and that’s a cool way to avoid being unnecessarily confrontational.  So, do more of that.  Find out where the other person is coming from first.  Understand their perspective.  Listen to them.  Then, offer your opinion as another way of looking at the situation.  Will it change their mind?  Maybe not.  Will your own mind change?  I don’t know.  But it’s a good way to keep the conversation going.  That should be the point.”

That’s when my friend would thank me for the advice and say, “You really do understand me.”  And I’d say, “Of course I do, nitwit.  Isn’t it obvious I’m really just talking about myself here?  That you are actually me?  And that the last part of this blog entry has just been me giving myself advice?”

See, I had this idea earlier that I’d encourage myself to write more by writing about why I don’t write more.  I’ve just done it.  How about that?  Maybe I should do stuff like this more often.

Eh, I don’t know.  I tend to get pretty lazy.  We’ll just have to wait and see, okay?

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Thirty-five

Today is my birthday. I turned 35 years old. A few quick thoughts, then, as I inch ever closer to 40…

Birthdays are something of a confusing time for me. For one thing, I don’t normally do much in the way of celebration. I might have something special to eat, but you won’t see me having a party or out at the bar with a group of friends. I’m a homebody, and a quiet dinner on the couch is about as crazy as things get for me.

My birthday can also cause me to go through a period of self-reflection, where I start taking stock of my life. That’s usually a bad sign, because when it comes to matching up accomplishments or possessions with other people, even my friends, I usually come out way behind.

At 35 years old, I am not married, nor do I have any children. If you want to know the truth, I’ve never been close to either. I’ve never had the kind of long-term relationship those things generally require. I’d like to say that I am unlucky when it comes to love, but honestly it’s more that I just suck at it. When your best friends are all hitched, and have a couple of kids apiece, it’s easy to feel like you are dragging behind.

I do have a steady job, but it’s a shitty job. I’ve been there 6 years, which isn’t a long time, I guess. But I do hate it most days I’m there. The easy answer, of course, is to quit and find employment elsewhere. I’m more afraid of where I’d end up if I left. In that way, I’ve sacrificed a bit for some measure of security. I shouldn’t complain, though. In this economy, I’m lucky to be working at all.

There are other things as well that I’m not really happy with. My housing situation isn’t exactly optimal, I don’t have a car, and looking at my bank account and credit card statements can be pretty scary. I spend a bit of each day going over figures in my head involving expected income and expenses, making sure I come out ahead.  That can be a little stressful.  I know if anything goes seriously wrong, I’m screwed.

Now, maybe it is easy to look over what I’ve written and feel depressed about it. Sometimes I do. It can be hard going years feeling like you are just barely keeping your head above water. Today is different, though. I’m not going to let it get the best of me. Instead, I’m going to focus on what I do have. To do that, let me talk about how my birthday has been so far.

I stayed up late last night and woke up at 2 today. That’s 2 in the afternoon, mind you. I don’t care what anyone says. That is awesome.

I checked my phone and saw I had a bunch of texts and messages from my friends. In this day and age of social networking, it can be easy to forget how many positive relationships you forge with people across the country and around the world. Some of them I’ve never met, but I feel close to just the same. Others I have met, and I know they are friends for life.

Then I took a look at Facebook and saw more of the same. Wonderful birthday greetings, jokes, and kind words from all kinds of people. Some of those people I didn’t even know I was connected to. It doesn’t matter, it was terrific, and way more than I ever expected. I’d like to believe many of them have enjoyed my posts over the years, and that I’ve made them smile here or there. No matter the reason, I appreciated each one.

A bit later I went out for lunch with my mom and dad to a local Chinese restaurant and had some delicious almond boneless chicken and hot tea. It was wonderful. My parents and I talked, we laughed, and just enjoyed being together. It was a nice time, and I’m glad we went.

11216569_10153379098491418_3901554843751194927_nAfterward, they gave me a cookie cake that they had the store decorate. It is kind of a custom. For my 30th birthday, my cake had Larry David’s face on it. Two years ago, they had a friend photoshop my face onto the body of “Breaking Bad” character Walter White. The cake was an image of me among barrels and stacks of money. This year, however, I opened the lid and saw “Happy Birthday Jason” with Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame holding up his machete. It made me laugh. A little later, I ate his head. It was delicious.

It is after 9pm now and I’m sitting against the wall of my bedroom. At the same time, I’m thinking how, yes, it’s true that if I measure my life in a series of arbitrary ways, it can certainly look like it sucks. Hey, maybe it does. But you know what? I have a lot of things a lot of other people don’t have. I have two parents who love me, a lot of friends who think I’m great, I’ve got a roof over my head and, if luck should have it, access to the internet so I can post this blog.

Is my life perfect? No. But I’d say I’ve got it pretty good. Today has been a great day.

In Defense of Ashley Madison

Ashley Madison, the social networking and dating website that encourages married people to have extramarital affairs, was hacked recently, and the customer databases of around 37 million people has potentially been compromised.  The hacker group involved, who call themselves The Impact Team, gave Ashley Madison an ultimatum in an effort to teach them a lesson about security:  shut down the site, or we will release the private information of your clients.  They did not comply, and according to recent reports, some of their users’ information, which may include real names and addresses, emails, nude photos, and credit card numbers, began appearing online.

The public reaction to the news has largely appeared to be positive, with many folks cheering the Impact Team on.  Those people cheated on their spouse, the sentiment seemed to be, they deserve what happens to them.  Well, I disagree, and I’m going to shock some of you by taking the side of the cheaters against the hackers.  Not because I condone cheating, mind you, but because I respect the privacy of the folks involved.  Let me explain.

Personally, when I first heard this news, something about it really bothered me.  On the one hand, I think many of us can agree that cheating on your spouse is wrong.  It can destroy relationships, and oftentimes ruins the ability many people have to trust.  Anyone who has gone through it themselves, or knows someone who has, can probably attest to that.  On the other hand, however, hacker groups aren’t exactly paragons of virtue in many cases, either.  In this case, the Impact Team committed a crime, stealing information they had no right to, and are now acting as a moral arbiter.  There is something wrong with this picture.

Aside from that, there are many other issues involved in this story which bug me.  While I can’t exactly support cheating, I also think we have to stop looking at this issue through such black or white lenses.  I am of the opinion that marriage can be complicated, and not all extramarital relationships are as horrible as they may first appear.  Some, in fact, wouldn’t even be considered “cheating” at all.

For instance, some of the folks whose spouses have memberships with Ashley Madison could very well be aware of it already.  Many couples choose to have open relationships, wherein the partners sleep with other people outside the marriage.  The partners consent to this, and often there are rules involved that each must follow.  Perhaps they agree they cannot sleep with anyone the other knows.  Or, maybe the spouses must inform the other before the sex takes place.  Different couples have different rules, and while I personally wouldn’t be comfortable with an open relationship, there are those who are.  I can respect that.  Supposing that some of the customers of Ashley Madison enjoy this lifestyle, should they have their privacy destroyed simply because a hacker group wanted to cause a stir?  Should their names, addresses, nude photos, and credit card information be revealed to the public just because you and I might prefer monogamy in our relationships?  I don’t think so.

Some situations, however, may be sadder.  There are marriages that are marriages in name only, degenerating into loveless, even sexless relationships that are kept together solely for the sake of children, or any of a host of reasons.  Others may involve a person who is impotent, or has simply lost the desire for sex in their later years.  And what about violent marriages, where sex is taken rather than shared, considered a condition of matrimony lest the other receive the back of a hand?  I’m sure you can think of others.  Now, again, I’m not saying it is necessarily right to have an extramarital affair in those cases.  But I am saying I would understand them wanting to pursue sex elsewhere, and I don’t feel as if they should be publicly humiliated for doing so.

But let’s be honest.  These situations I’ve mentioned thus far aren’t the ones many of us first envision when we think of a site like Ashley Madison.  No, instead we think of the dutiful and loving wife who worships the ground her husband walks on, all while he is busy sleeping around behind her back.  Truthfully, many of the spouses of the clients of Ashley Madison may well be involved in situations just like that.  They truly are victims of deceit, and I feel bad for them.  But be that as it may, is this how we want them to find out?  By being alerted that their husband or wife’s naked photos were put online in a hacking case?  That their address and financial information is available for anyone with an internet connection to find and use?  Speaking only for myself, I don’t think I would like to find out my wife was cheating on me that way.  That wouldn’t just humiliate and harm them.  It would humiliate and harm me as well.

Regardless of the people involved, or the situation they are in, there is one more reason that I am against the release of private information in the Ashley Madison hacking story.  Hopefully, it is a reason we can all share.  The fact is, the marriages and extramarital affairs of others is simply not our business.  It is not yours, and it is not mine.  Unless we are the husband or wife involved, or are close to those who are, there is no reason for us to know about it.  We simply have no right to snoop around in their lives for our own enjoyment.

I don’t like Ashley Madison any more than you do.  But the Impact Team, in my opinion, has behaved worse than those who cheat on their spouses.  They have stolen and released information they have no right to, creating the potential for a great deal of harm, and all the while pretending to have the moral high ground.  While I’m sure these hackers believe that they are doing the right thing, as far as I can see nothing much positive will come from their crime.

Breaking Bald

youngjason

The good old days

When I was a kid, I had an incredibly thick head of hair.  My grandma would brush it before she took me to school in the morning, and I used to hate it because it hurt so bad.  She would get the brush stuck in snags, I’d wince, and she would say, “Well, you’ve just got so much hair!”  Personally, I think she was just in a hurry, and wasn’t being very gentle.  Still, I only wish a brush could get caught in my hair nowadays.

Yes, I’m going bald.  Slowly, for sure, but it’s happening.  I’m on the verge of turning 35 and, while that doesn’t make me unique among guys my age, it still isn’t something any of us look forward to.  It’s so demoralizing, in fact, that a lot of us spend a good part of our day trying to cover it up.  We spend more time in front of the mirror than we used to, checking every angle for signs of thinning hair, then figuring out a natural-looking style we can use to conceal it.  What if I change my part?  What if I comb this area sideways, and this area forward?  Some of us buy expensive products that promise to help regrow hair, or at least slow its loss.  Others go the more ridiculous route, and opt for hair transplant surgery, or even the dreaded hairpiece.  People like me can’t afford that, and wouldn’t spend the money if I could, so I’ve chosen the cheaper option of just putting on a baseball hat occasionally.  I call it the poor man’s toupee.

korbus

I’m 33 here. Not too shabby.

I remember the first time I noticed something was wrong.  I was in my early 20s and saw a Polaroid of myself at a “meet and greet” with my favorite professional wrestler, Mick Foley.  We were standing under lights, and I could see much more of my scalp exposed in the photo than I thought was normal.  I was horrified.  How could this be?  I’ve always had such thick hair!  I tried explaining it away as a bad angle, or my hair being oily and stuck together that day.  Anything, that is, except for the truth.  I was just losing my hair.

After that, I started paying more attention in other areas.  I began to notice the number of strands left on my pillow when I woke up.  I would see the hair left in the drain trap after a shower.  I would go online and see how much hair the average male has on their head, then attempt crazy multiplication in my mind.  If I lost x number of hairs per day that weren’t replaced, how long until I was completely bald?  I began to be a lot more careful when drying my hair after bathing, even eschewing the use of a towel altogether in favor of air drying.  There was even a short time where I would hang my head upside down over the side of my bed for 15 minutes because I believed the blood flow would prevent hair loss.  I was driving myself crazy, and what I was doing didn’t make any sense.  Eventually, I just let all that go and allowed nature to take its course.

It has been a good run, but this past year especially has been a reality check for me.  I can look at older pictures of myself and see that my hairline has been receding over time.  Keeping my hair around medium length wasn’t doing much of anything other than prolonging the inevitable.  It was becoming easier and easier to see how thin I was getting up front, and whenever my hair was wet, or I stood under the light in my bedroom, I could see in the mirror that it wasn’t looking good around the crown of my head either.  It was time to change things up.

balding

A look of horror as my hair is rapidly thinning

So, I’ve finally decided to do something about it.  No, I haven’t started using Rogaine, but I’m taking control of the way I look just the same.  After reading multiple articles, watching videos online, and noticing how men with thinning hair have been cutting their hair short, I felt like it was time to follow their lead.  Early Saturday morning I grabbed my Wahl clippers, and almost without thinking about it, grabbed the #5 attachment.  I first wanted to see what I would look like with hair half as short as I normally wear it.  Well, it looked terrible.  The thin spots were hideous.  I popped the #5 off and grabbed the #2.  Using this would make my hair 2/8th of an inch.  I hadn’t had a buzz cut like that since I was a boy, but away I went, buzzing and shearing my hair away with reckless abandon.  I watched clumps of hair fall to the floor, deciding not to look in the mirror until I was done.  Then, let come what may.

I finished up, trying my best to get behind my ears, and taking off any random longer hairs I missed.  Finally, when I saw nothing else falling, I looked up into the mirror.  That was my face, all right, but I looked different.  I reached my hand to my head and felt my hair.  Strange after so many years of being able to run my fingers through it, because all I could feel now were sharp little nubs.  I rubbed my hand over my unshaven face and it was a similar sensation.  I looked again at my face and hair together.  I kind of liked it.  I felt free.

buzzcut

My new look

The truth is, buzzing my hair off showed my just how bald I had been getting.  The infamous horseshoe pattern of baldness that men get was definitely taking shape.  But that’s okay.  I’m glad I know.  I don’t like it, but I can accept it knowing that it is the reality.  And I’ll admit it.  I haven’t totally gotten over my self-consciousness yet.  While I’m going hatless outside to get some sun on my scalp, I’m still putting the hat on when I walk into a store.  Occasionally I take it off and rub my hand back and forth on my head.  It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting a little more confident each day.

If I have any advice to give to someone who has been in my situation and is wondering what they should do, I would recommend them buzzing their hair off too.  Whether you’re overweight like me, or thin, and no matter the shape of your head.  If you are considering it, just do it and get it over with.  Worse case scenario, if you really hate it, it’ll grow back in a few months.  But you may just surprise yourself and enjoy it.

Now that the weekend is over, my big test is going back to work.  I can’t wear hats there, so I’m going to surprise my friends and co-workers with my new ‘do first thing, then just let my balding noggin be freely exposed while I answer phones, call customers, and pound the keyboard all day.  The quicker I realize no one is staring at my head, because no one actually gives a damn if I’m going bald, the better off I’ll be.  I’ve gotta tell you, I’m actually looking forward to it.

I Was A Teenage Miscreant

Like a lot of kids growing up I got into my fair share of trouble.  Often that trouble didn’t go far beyond mouthing off to my parents, causing a little mischief around the house, and getting grounded.  As I entered into my mid-teens, and started thinking I was really hot shit, I cranked it up a notch, egging houses, spray painting buildings, and swiping the occasional item from stores.  I was slick, too.  Whether it was something as simple as a candy bar, maybe a toy, or even a piece of jewelry, I never got caught.  Later, again like a lot of other kids, I wised up and stopped doing stupid stuff.  Hustled myself up a couple of real jobs with actual responsibilities, and decided to be a more productive member of society.   Imagine my surprise, then, when I was busted by the cops after I had decided to stop looking for trouble.

It was 15 years ago today as I’m writing this, when I was 19 years old.  I was due to start a new job doing technical support for a broadband internet provider in a few days, and was just kind of hanging out until I had to show up for orientation.  It was stuffy as hell in my house that day.  I was sweating just sitting around, and my clothes wouldn’t stop sticking to my body.  I had to get out.  There seemed to be a bit of a breeze outside, so I decided to go for a walk.  Around the corner from my house was the elementary school I went to years before, and I thought it might be a good idea to pay an afternoon visit to my old stomping grounds.

After traipsing around through the ample field behind the school for a bit, checking out the baseball fields I used to play in as a kid, and saying hello to a few old ghosts, I started heading back.  As I was approaching the rear of the building, I ran into a couple of people I knew. They were out for a walk, too, but were looking for more trouble than I was.  In fact, I caught them right in the middle of deciding to break into the school through an open window.  Well, I was too fat to hoist myself up, nor was I interested in committing a B&E that day.  I should have left.  Stupidly, I stayed.

Those two managed to get in through the window and, after rummaging around a bit, began tossing a few items out the window and onto the grass where I stood.  Nothing expensive.  They were in a school, after all, and while I’m sure there were probably staplers and other assorted school supplies as well, all I remember seeing were notebooks.

There has always been something about blank paper that I find alluring.  Sometimes, if I’m out at a store, I’ll buy myself a cheap spiral notebook, even though I have no immediate use for it.  I must have a dozen or so laying around at home now, most of them in varying stages of disuse.  I looked down at the ground that day, and there was a small notebook with Garfield on it, untouched by pencil or pen.  I slipped it in my back pocket just as the others were climbing out of the window.

I don’t recall what happened immediately after this.  We probably stood around gabbing and laughing for a few seconds.  But what I do remember is looking to my left and seeing a police car.  Without even thinking, we began to run.  Suddenly, there were police everywhere.  There were even a couple of cars in the street out in front of the school.  Aside from being overweight, I’m also not exactly fleet of foot, so Johnny Law was able to lasso my rotund ass in a grand total of about 30 seconds.

The cops handcuffed me and swiped my Garfield notebook from me (foiled by Garfield!).  They asked me several questions about who I was with and what we were doing, but I’ve seen Goodfellas, so I knew to keep my mouth shut.  While sitting in the back of the cruiser, I heard over the radio that the others were captured.  Criminal masterminds we were not.

The police then took me downtown, and I was cuffed to a bench somewhere deep inside the bowels of the Toledo Police Station.  After sitting in there for a while, thinking maybe I could pull of a daring escape like famed outlaw Billy the Kid, I was brought to another part of the building where I was fingerprinted and photographed.  Then I was tossed, along with a few other guys, in a holding tank that, while roomier, smelled strongly of piss.  That was probably because there was a drain on the floor at the far end where everyone did their business.  Be that as it may, the odds of me escaping were looking a lot less likely.

I don't remember looking like this much of an asshole

I don’t remember looking like this much of an asshole

There was glass on the door of this new place, and I could see a cop at a computer across the way.  One fellow I was locked up with entertained me by pounding on the door, repeatedly yelling at the officer to bring us juice and cookies.  He seemed to believe we were not prisoners, but guests at a hotel serving a lovely continental breakfast.  One by one, the others in the cell with me were taken out, and either released or taken elsewhere.  Now I was alone.  I laid back against the wall, closed by eyes, and retreated off somewhere into my own mind.

What seemed like hours later, the door opened, and I was released to the custody of my parents.  I don’t even remember making the phone call, but I guess I must have.  My mom hugged me, despite the fact that I had probably broken her heart, and caused her enough stress to last a lifetime.  Kids always break mom’s heart the most.  At least I know I did.

The car ride back home was so strange, and while I would have completely deserved a thorough tongue lashing along the way, I don’t remember much of anything being said.  Even my dad was surprisingly calm, and I figured for sure he would have beaten the hell out of me.  Instead, we just made idle chatter about what happened, what my stay at the police station was like. and how to go about getting an attorney.  Nothing in depth.  I think we were all ready to crawl in bed.  That night, I considered pounding on the door and hollering for juice and cookies, but I thought better of it.

Weeks went by, possibly even months.  I got that attorney, explained to him what happened, and I ended up getting the most serious charges of breaking & entering, and receiving stolen property dropped.  In the end, I pled to simple disorderly conduct.  I went to court, was respectful to the judge (who very much appreciated me ending sentences with “sir,” and “Your Honor,” by the way) and that was that.  It actually didn’t work out that bad for me.  The others, because they had actually entered the school unlawfully, ended up spending a short time locked up.  One of them may have had to write a letter of apology to the school as well, but I can’t be certain.

So that’s my story.  I may not be a hardened criminal, but it was still one hell of an experience.  And I got a stupid looking mugshot out of it, too.  I ended up starting that job I mentioned and worked there for three years before moving on to other things.  I turned 20 years old shortly thereafter.  My teens were over, as were my days of trouble with the law.  Of that I assure both you and my mom.  I pay for all my Garfield notebooks now.

Jason Korbus Dot Com

As an early birthday present to myself, I decided to buy a domain name for this WordPress blog of mine. I chose JasonKorbus.com even though, admittedly, I felt a little like a douche doing so. After all, who am I? I’m not famous. I am not the author of a book, or much of anything else that requires promotion of my name. Honestly, I don’t even consider myself a very good writer at all. So why have I decided to rename this blog after myself? A couple reasons.

For one thing, I’m retiring the name this site was formerly published under. “Fortean Squirrel” no longer adequately reflects my interests in areas outside the paranormal, or other weird, seemingly unexplained events. It hasn’t for some time.  There’s just too much other stuff I want to write about, and I thought “Confidential Korbus” was kind of catchy. While the blog can still be accessed by punching in confidentialkorbus.wordpress.com, that is more about keeping my old posts, and not feeling like I was really starting over.

Secondly, I really dislike anonymity online. I’ve long felt that, if you’re going to put forward an idea, give your opinion on someone else’s idea, or perhaps offer any kind of criticism, you should have the guts to put your name next to it. With this domain there is no way I can post anything without it being abundantly obvious who the writer is. Let me be right or wrong, but do so as Jason Korbus; not a login name or silly blog title as my identity.

Last, but most importantly, I want to get back in the habit of writing more often. As I said earlier, I don’t consider myself a very good writer. I think I’m okay, but I want to get better, and I’ll do that by practicing. A free blog apparently wasn’t motivation enough for me. Now that I’m paying for a domain, I’d like to think I’ll consider being lazy similar to wasting money.

My goal now is to post somewhat regularly, but not so much that I overstay my welcome. I want to offer opinions on current events, let you know about things that interest me, and fill you in on any adventures I find myself a part of. I’d like to think I’ll be funny or insightful occasionally, too. I hope you’ll join me as I go forward with “Confidential Korbus” on JasonKorbus.com, and maybe leave a comment or drop me an email now and then. I would love to hear from you.

Be seeing you down the road.

My Cat is Eating All My Clothes

This is Morgan.  Morgan is just under two years old, and has been pure hell on wheels since I got her.  She stalks and harasses the other cats, jumping on them while they sleep.  Other times she hops on their backs when they attempt to Beastrun away, riding them through the house like they were her own personal pony.  She jumps up on countertops and knocks stuff down.  She literally runs up walls and tries to grab on to pictures or holiday decorations.  She even figured out how to open cupboards and began chewing open cans of food.  It got to be that everyday she would up her game, figuring out new ways to be destructive.  Morgan didn’t even seem a proper name for her, so I started occasionally calling her Beast.  She actually seemed to like it.  Thing is, I probably should have known that she might try to live up to the moniker.  Well, live up to it she has, because lately this Beast has begun to eat my clothes.  No, seriously.

It all started with shoelaces.  Normal enough, I thought.  She’s a cat.  Cats like to play with strings, right?  I couldn’t be surprised if I found a piece of my shoelace missing a time or two here and there.  I’d just start putting my shoes up and tucking the laces inside.  Problem solved.

Or so I thought, anyway.

Next I caught her chewing on my blanket a few times while I was laying in bed.  A little weird, but I was able to scare her off by yelling or clapping my hands.  No real harm done.  She just seemed to *enjoy* nibbling at it, I don’t know why.  But I couldn’t very well let her chew holes in it either.

That’s when things started getting bizarre.  I’d start to find holes in my pajama pants, for instance.  At first I’d attempt to rationalize it away.  They’re a few years old, maybe they’re just worn out.  It couldn’t be the cat.  Just couldn’t be.  Why in hell would a cat want to destroy my pants?  Besides, I wasn’t finding any of the missing pieces of cloth laying around anywhere, and Beast frequently likes leaving little trinkets (such as candy wrappers, balled up receipts, bottle caps) that she has found along her journeys out in the living room to play with later.  I even checked in her “lair,” which is what I began calling the area behind and underneath the sofa where she would hide out at times.  Nothing.  Not a damn thing.

But then I was getting dressed for work one day, and my brown shirt had a huge piece missing at the bottom.  There’s no way this could be explained away as normal wear and tear quite so easily.  Still, I had not seen any piece of the cloth laying around and, wait a minute, it’s not like I left the shirt laying around anywhere.  It had been hanging up in the closet for the past week.  If she had actually ripped it off with her teeth, she would have had to be standing on her hind legs to do it.  I knew she was a Beast, but would she really put that much effort into something like that?   few days later, I find out my favorite blue flannel has holes up and down the sleeves.  What in hell is going on here?  And where in hell is the cloth?  Could she really be eating it?

flannelNo, couldn’t be.  If she was really eating the missing cloth, she would be sick.  Refusing to eat.  Vomiting.  Something!  But no, this cat had all the energy in the world, and an appetite to match.  She wasn’t even lethargic.  Hell, she barely seemed to sleep.  It just didn’t make sense that she could be eating shoelaces, pajama pants, and my t-shirt, and not show some signs of distress.

I began to look online for answers.  It turns out that a number of people had cats who were doing similar things.  They wanted to know why.  Some suggested their pet had separation anxiety, or was just bored.  Others said the cats had the feline form of pica, where you crave and eat non-food items such as clay, dirt, or, I guess, shirts.

That’s when I found a piece of clothing in her stool outside the litter box.  Now I’m nervous, and kicking myself for not getting her to a vet sooner.  Why in hell did I wait?  Shouldn’t I have realized it didn’t make sense for all the missing material to have just disappeared?  The appointment was made to get her an x-ray and find out if she needed surgery to alleviate the obstruction in her bowels that I had now convinced myself she had.  This poor cat.  She is days from serious health problems, and here she is running and bouncing off the walls, terrorizing the other cats wherever they go.  She doesn’t even know the trouble she is.

The day of the vet appointment comes, and I even bring along my flannel shirt so they can see what we’re dealing with.  I’m just waiting to hear how much is in her belly, and how much it’s going to cost for her to have surgery.  They do an x-ray and it’s the strangest thing.  It’s totally clear.  She doesn’t have a scrap of t-shirt in her.  The vet says that, strange as it may sound, it’s likely that my clothes simply broke down in her belly, and she digested them like she would normal food.  So, does she have pica?  No.  Pica is extremely rare, and simply feasting on my clothes alone isn’t evidence of it.

So, what in the hell is it?  It turns out that it’s similar to something I wrote earlier.  She just enjoys chomping on clothes.  It soothes her, makes her feel better.  Nothing more or less than that.  She’s just a cat who needs to be kept occupied, and when I’m sleeping, away at work, or even just sitting quietly in the living room, she needs something to do.  So, when there’s no cats around to chase, or she’s a little bored of leaping up the walls, she might take a stroll around the house looking for something to chew on to give her some relief.

Though I’m down a few shirts, admittedly I feel a whole lot better.  Still, I’m not leaving clothes within her reach quite so easily anymore.  I’ve stopped using a hamper for laundry, and started using a tote I can lock up instead.  And I keep my bedroom door closed a lot of the time so that she doesn’t get any ideas about heading toward the closet.  It’s kind of a pain in the butt having to implement these changes, but in the end it is a tradeoff I’m happy to make.

Still, I wish I had started calling her something sweeter sounding.  You know, like Buttercup, maybe.