Lesley's List: This Week's Five Small Vanquishers of Pessimism

Dealing with a sick pet: the worst or the very very WORST?
Publish date:
June 1, 2012
movies, shopping, video games, comics

Rufus chilling out in his carrier yesterday, waiting on the vet.

So my cat Rufus, fatass of legend, has spent the past couple weeks teetering on the edge of hepatic lipidosis; without getting all technical about it, this is a liver disease unique to cats which happens when they stop eating and lose weight too quickly. Without treatment -- and treatment is exclusively dietary, meaning you cure the illness by making the cat eat -- this can be fatal.

As a result, I’ve spent the latter half of May hovering over this poor cat with food bowls trying to inspire him to eat. His mammoth size notwithstanding, Rufus has never been a voracious eater, so following his intake has been a challenge, albeit a necessary one to prevent his needing to have a feeding tube installed.

Yeah, this is a thing that happens: Fat cats get feeding tubes to make them eat.

I’ve been a little stressed out by it. Ha, that is a hilarious lie. I’ve been totally off my rocker. There’s something especially impossible about a sick pet who can’t express their sensations in words. In this particular case, I wish I could just explain to Rufus that EATING WILL MAKE IT BETTER and have him understand. (My efforts at human-cat telepathy have failed, unless Rufus was also thinking about whether to roast or saute the asparagus in the fridge at the time.)

Anyway, this week's list comprises some of the things I've been using to cope.

And it will.

Calming Manatee

A friend and occasional xoJane commenter directed me to this one. It basically does what it says, and summons a calming manatee for you, via the magic of the Internet. It actually reminds me of a less wordy version of a sort-of advice column (and sort-of self-esteem booster) I did last year called Your Beluga Best Friend.

Manatees, like belugas, are pretty soothing animals to look at. Like you know they’d give great hugs. And they probably move too slow to outrun you if you wanted to test that theory. I like an animal that runs less quickly than I do.

I think it's pretty. If you like blocks, I mean.


Minecraft is a game about punching trees. Or rocks or whatever. This is where I’m supposed to be all BUT WAIT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO IT AND YOU BUILD STUFF AND THERE ARE ZOMBIES but the crux of the experience, for me, is about punching trees. I avoided Minecraft for ages but the recent release of the Xbox Live version broke down my last defenses.

(Honorable videogame mention: Fez, also on Xbox Live. Some of the levels for Fez get downright stressful, though, hence its secondary status.)

So many glorious wonders to behold!

The Vermont Country Store Catalog

My grandparents are all dead and have been for some time, and if I’m honest, none of them would have been much into this catalog anyway. But there is something weirdly reassuring and grandparenty about the Vermont Country Store Catalog, in a collective-unconscious sense. Somewhere, there are rosy-cheeked grandmas ordering shampoo that hasn’t been mass-produced in 30 years and bunion correction devices and muumuus by the dozen.

This catalog makes me feel a part of that. It’s basically a flat paper grandma surrogate for those of us who’ve no longer got one.

Ted Naifeh’s Comics

I am an emotional shopper, like some folks are emotional eaters; when I get stressed or scared or upset, my first inclination is to self-soothe by buying things. So it came to pass that on Saturday night at 3 AM in a fit of cat-related worry, I impulsively ordered six graphic novels online. Six! Total book binge.

My favorites of the lot so far are Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin Volume 1: The Night Things (a special hardcover edition of which was just published this month) and the first book in another of Naifeh’s series, Polly and the Pirates. These stories are kid-friendly (and therefore fun and not too stressful) without being saccharine, and I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying them.

Actually I’m not. My childhood obsession with Archie comics probably means I have the highest possible tolerance for overly earnest kid-comics. But I can’t say I regret their purchase, even if it happened curled fetal-style in bed with the covers over my head and peering fixedly into mobile on my phone as though it holds the key to making me feel better about my ridiculous sick cat.

"Snow White and the Huntsman"

Another reliable tactic for cheering myself up is getting the crap out of the house on occasion. Seriously, the combination of working from home and being a hyperfocused workaholic often means I can go whole days only breathing the outside air long enough to pick up my husband from the train station. Movies are useful motivators.

It’s been a good long while since a movie came out that I was all that excited about -- "The Avengers" doesn’t count as I really only absorbed that excitement from other people -- but "Snow White and the Huntsman" looks completely amazing. Kristen Stewart (WHO I REALLY LIKE FOR SOME REASON OK) and Charlize Theron being all badass? Thor as bonus eye candy? How can this NOT be good?

So that’s my list. What’s your favorite cure for pessimism lately?