Monthly Archives: August 2013


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couchcats The primary purpose of the internet is to share photos of cats. The secondary purpose of the internet is to share recipes, and honestly the other uses of the internet are pretty trivial and don’t bear mentioning.

In this photo my girls are not being especially cute, but they’re sitting pretty near to one another without hissing so I think it’s a win. Gremlin is the one dressed in black. Goblin is the tortie.

I got Goblin when I moved out of the dorms and set up shop as a bona fide adult. My intention was to bestow an erudite name upon my animal. The dog from A Wrinkle in Time was named Fortinbras, and I wanted something similarly cultured and literate.

But my trip to the Guilford County Animal Shelter happened right when the first Lord of  the Rings movie was released. My new small creature, still struggling to learn to meow, entered my home when my head was filled with hobbits and wizards and orcs. This is how Tolkien managed to beat Shakespeare.

When Goblin was a year old, I took her to the vet for a routine checkup. Someone had surrendered four small kittens, all weaned prematurely, and they were in a cage right by the desk. The runt was particularly pathetic looking.

I went to the vet that day with one cat and returned home with two.

Twelve years later, I’m approaching the two-year point in my adventure with unemployment and underemployment. I’ve had a strong bias in favor of positions that would have let me keep the cats, but I started exploring overseas positions when my roommate agreed to take them in the event that I moved to Indonesia or wherever.

Neither the Foreign Service nor the Peace Corps panned out, however, which effectively limited me to the United States and Canada because my entire Spanish vocabulary consists of “burrito” and “nachos” and a few other nouns in exactly that same vein.

So, okay, English-speaking North America. That’s a pretty expansive area and I get to keep the cats.

My modest income from contract writing — and I want you thinking of Julian of Norwich: that is the level of modesty we’re talking about here — was initially meant to be a stopgap measure until such time as I found grownup employment in Asheville. Took me the better part of a year to realize that there are no jobs for me around here. I changed tacks and started sending out applications to library jobs in desirable locations such as the Rockies and New England.

I’ve been able to stay afloat for a few reasons. I live frugally; my roommate pays for all the food in exchange for my doing all of the cooking; I haven’t had any unexpected financial crises.

But this precarious balance is about to crumble. My roommate has announced his intention of moving by the end of September.

That’s the bad news. I’ve got to find someplace else to live by October.

Here’s the worse news: he probably won’t be able to take the cats.

If necessary, I can move in with my Grandmother in Wisconsin. This is far from ideal but it’s a lot better than sleeping under a bridge. My biggest objection to this scenario is that the cats can’t come with. Grandma doesn’t like animals.

As an option of absolutely last resort, I could leave the cats with my parents, but they already have ten cats. Adding my girls to the mix would make everyone miserable.

The best way out of this would be for me to get a job. I have recently revised my understanding of acceptable places to live. In addition to clearly attractive states (Vermont! Colorado!), I’ve started looking for job opportunities in states of middling attractiveness (California: not cold enough, high cost of living; Arizona: far too hot; Iowa: no personality) and in states of dubious virtue (Georgia: as hot as Arizona, but with lots more humidity; West Virginia: they’ve chopped the tops off of their mountains).

And so help me God, I’ve applied for jobs in Texas. And Louisiana. And Mississippi. If you’ve lived a wicked life, these are the states you get sent to when you die.

Obviously I’ll mention it here if I get hired. But forgive me if I don’t post anything for a while. I’m spending a lot of energy hunting for jobs, applying for jobs, and convincing myself that Delaware has a lot of charm.