The Literal Catcall (This Terrible Evening)

It was an average Monday evening. I was housesitting for a family friend, and I was tucked in on the couch with a pizza and an old movie. But then sun was starting to go down and one of the four cats I was in charge of had not come home yet, so I decided to pause Gregory Peck and perform a (literal) catcall. I knew I already had two inside, and the other two had come home quickly when I called on the first night, so I was sure I’d be able to find them, even if it took a little extra effort.

“Luuuuuna!” I called into the dusk.

I heard a cat meow and then saw her appear at the top of the fence. She ran to me and rubbed her head on my legs and then walked by me into the house to eat her dinner.

“Good,” I said, shutting the door behind me, “now I just need to find your brother.

A tip the family had left for me should I find that the cats weren’t coming in was to shake the container of dry food while calling out to them. It was the cat equivalent of ringing the dinner bell. So, after a few calls of “Tuffy!” went unanswered, I went back in the house, grabbed the plastic container and returned outside to make my official evolution into a temporary cat lady.

“Tufffyyyyy!”

*shake shake shake*

“Tufffyyyyy!”

*shake shake shake*

I walked around the backyard, up the side yard by the trashcans, around the front yard, then back in through the backyard for a final lap. Just when I was about to give up and start officially submitting to a panic, I heard a small, “meow.” I looked back at the door to see if Luna was looking on from behind the glass, wondering why I was shaking the food and not giving it to her, like some sort of deranged Pavlov experiment gone wrong. Was it her that meowed? I made another call to Tuffy, this time taking steps away from the back door and towards to the fence outlining the yard.

The meow got louder.

“Tuffy!”

“Meoooowww.”

I placed both hands on the wall and peered over—adding “apparent pervert” to my night’s resume—then let out a few more calls. Each “Tuffy” garnered a “meow”, but while I knew I was close, I still couldn’t see him. So, like any housesitter desperate to keep a cat alive so you don’t crush the spirit of the family, especially the 10-year-old girl who calls you her friend and has expressed more love for this cat than pretty much anything else, I called my mom.

I mostly just wanted moral support, as I was going into the thick of it now. Donned in sweats, a baggy t-shirt, still damp shower hair, and a makeup-less face, I was walking up and around the block to the house whose backyard bordered mine, and having seen the entire Taken series, I thought there was no harm in having my mom on the line, should the neighbor happened to be a crazed killer.

“Alright,” I told my mom, “I’m knocking now.”

From behind the door, I heard a voice say, “who’s there?” I considered answering, but I didn’t feel like I could give a clear picture of who I was and why I was there without using a lot of apologetic hand motions, so I waited for him to open the door.

“Hi,” I said as friendly as I could, knowing damn well I would have never answered the door if the roles were reversed. “So my friend and I are housesitting in the house, um, over there…around the block, and our backyard’s touch…yours and theirs…and I think their cat is stuck in your backyard.”

The man stood silently, his face slipping more and more into confusion, as he (most likely) awaited my explanation as to why any of this should matter to him.

“Sooooo,” I continued, “can I go into your backyard and see if the cat is back there?”

“Um, sure,” he said. I thanked him, then reported back to my mom in the receiver of the phone, explaining my EXACT location and the man’s appearance, giving her time to plan her rescue/revenge murder, should the need arise.

“Hold on!” the man said as I approached the gate to his backyard. He had already made his way outside by way of the house and was trying to get a leash on his dog so I could trespass freely. Thoughtful, I said to myself, knocking his murderer potential down to 78%.

I walked through the grass, over to the corner of the yard I’d been able to see from the other side of the wall. I called out to Tuffy and again heard the meow, this time distinctly higher than me. I let my eyes travel up a large, thin trunked tree, and there, about 30 feet up, was Tuffy, peering down at me with a look that said nothing short of, “it’s about damn time.”

I got an idea. I told the man I’d be right back, gave in to my mom’s kind offer to come help, then walked back out the side gate and around the block to my house.

Upon returning, I now had two reinforcements and the plastic container of food. But at this point the sun had made its descent below the horizon, making it hard to differentiate between Tuffy and a thick branch. So we all stood in the grass with our iPhone flashlights, calling out to this cat like it was a jumper on a ledge. My dad climbed up on top of the wall and began to shake the tree, hoping to at least jolt Tuffy up, and when that didn’t work, he started trying to lightly nudge him with a shovel.

“You’re okay,” we all said gently. Tuffy made a move to another branch and we cheered. At least he wasn’t stuck anymore. We continued to call him, but he stayed still. It was minute 40 by this point, and as our necks had just begun to acclimate to our constant looking up, we were met with something that immediately made us look down: sprinklers. Water began to shoot out in every direction, soaking my mom and I and stranding my dad on top of the wall.

“I’ll get those!” the man said, trying not to laugh.

After a few minutes, the sprinklers died down, and we all trudged across the damp lawn to look back up at the tree, where we found Tuffy, still sitting in the exact same spot.

“I think it might be time to call it,” my dad said. “He doesn’t appear to be stuck anymore and we might be scaring him more by all standing here watching. I say we head back and let him make his way down on his own time.”

Tuffy seemed to agree with this, as he began to shift almost immediately after my dad started climbing back down the wall. “Follow us!” I said as we walked out the gate, apologizing for the thousandth time to the man for essentially ruining his evening. Thankfully, he—and his wife who I met briefly when she came outside with a dog treat to try and coerce Tuffy—ended up being 0% murders and 100% great people, as they both wished us a good night.

When we made our way back around the block to our house, I could still see the couple shining flashlights up into the tree. Clearly they had become as invested as we were. I carried the plastic container of food back out to the bordering wall and shook it into the evening air like the most desperate tamobourinist ever.

Suddenly I heard an all too familiar meow, this time from behind me. I turned on my heel—which made a loud squeak, as my shoes were still soaked from the sprinklers—and found Tuffy making his triumphant march to the back door.

“YAYYY thank you!!” I shouted to a handful of parties including the neighboring couple, my parents, God and Tuffy himself. For now I would sleep easy, knowing that a) this cat was still alive b) it was no longer in a tree and c) it was (hopefully) slightly traumatized so that it wouldn’t return to the tree again (at least not while I was housesitting). My mom and I walked back into the house and I thanked her and my dad a thousand times over for coming to help. Then, as I’d been initially planning to do when I paused the movie, I went to the freezer to grab my pint of ice cream. Sure, the journey from my seat to the fridge had taken over an hour longer than I anticipated, but I’d finally made it, and now that all four cats were safely inside and 100% not dead, it made the ice cream all the more sweeter.


 

About the Author

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Kimberlee Koehn is a writer based out of Los Angeles, CA and is extremely passionate about telling stories and spreading positivity. When she’s not writing, you can often find her reading, hiking, watching sports, and most likely talking to herself.

You can find her at kimberleek.com


Want to submit your own terrible morning? Visit our submissions page to find out how. 

Chunky Smoothie Kind of Morning

Confession: I am a morning person. I keep my blinds open all night so I wake up to the sunshine instead of an alarm, and I look forward to getting up and drinking a cup (or 5) of coffee. I enjoy morning chats and I sing (badly) to old Britney Spears songs while getting ready. I’m THAT person.

On any given weekday, my morning routine looks about the same: get the coffee brewing, attempt to make myself look presentable, blend up a breakfast smoothie and hustle out the door.

THIS particular morning, everything seemed to be going fine—until it wasn’t.

The culprit behind the sudden turn of events? THE BLENDER.

Now, I’ve got a pretty badass blender, and it doesn’t usually give me any grief. Everyday I throw in a mixture of frozen fruit, almond milk, spinach, and protein powder, and out comes a delicious and healthy kickstart to my day.

Every. Day.

So I don’t know WTF the deal was on that morning. Maybe my freezer went all macho overnight and made the fruit too frozen? Maybe the sharp little dudes inside the blender decided to take the morning off? Whatever it was, MY SHIT WOULD NOT BLEND. More milk? Nope. Higher speed? Nice try. Stir with a wooden spoon between blending attempts? Adorable, but no.

Note: If you’re planning to stir your smoothie with a wooden spoon, be sure the blending has completely ceased before doing so. Otherwise the wooden spoon WILL chip and you WILL end up with unwelcome splinters inside your mouth.

After what felt like hours of struggle, I resigned to the fact that it would just have to be a chunky smoothie kind of morning. So, I dumped the contents of the blender into a mason jar and ran out the door, 10 minutes behind schedule. As I got in my car and started my hour-long trek to work, I let out a frustrated sigh and hoped the rough start to my morning was not indicative of how the rest of my day would go.

LOL. If only that were true.

I had to speed racer drive (sorry, Mom) in order to have any hope of getting to work on time, but my lane weaving and sharp turns proved too intense for my lid-less mason jar. That’s right folks, chunky green smoothie, all over my passenger seat. With colorful words spewing out of my mouth, I stopped at the next red light and searched for something to (sort of) clean up the mess. I settled on an old softball T-shirt (RIP), and begrudgingly used it to soak up my breakfast.

Note: Long work commutes make for a lot of time spent in my car, so it regularly serves the dual purpose of transportation and a second closet. This would prove useful…more than once…on this single morning alone.

Now hungry and thoroughly irritated, I reached for my sunglasses to shield my vampire eyes from the suddenly too bright sun. Spoiler alert: they weren’t in my purse.

Cue the mascara monster.

I already have severely sensitive eyes to begin with, so having to stare into direct sunlight my entire drive to work sent my non-waterproof mascara running down my face like Lauren Conrad’s tears in The Hills.

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Fueled by road rage and starvation, I arrived at work 2 minutes late looking like the very definition of a hot mess. And even after I wiped as much of the black streams of death off my face as possible, this hot mess only got messier, as I quickly realized that my sunglasses were not the only important item I left behind. Spoiler alert: I also forgot shoes.

Note: I love being barefoot, and it is not uncommon for me to drive that way (is that still against the law?) I usually set a pair of shoes next to my purse and grab them both as I’m walking out the door. Obviously, however, that did not happen on this particular day.

I laughed out loud in that frightening and completely unamused sort of way, then ravaged my car (closet) for something to put on my bare feet. My options were a pair of metal cleats or some bright red converse. I’m a diehard New York Giants fan and I was wearing blue, so I opted for the converse and pretended like I was channeling some sort of team spirit. I mean, at that point, why not make lemonade, right?

And even though I walked into the classroom of children as a brightly dressed disheveled mess, they all still smiled and greeted me with a lovely, “Good morning Miss Natalee!” and suddenly all was well again. Chunky smoothie kind of morning and all, they were happy to see me, and I was happy to see them.

At some point during the day I also spilled my coffee on my light wash jeans, but that happens on the daily so I won’t act like it made things any worse. The bright side of the morning? I totally pulled off the blue and red and even received some high fives from my fellow Giants fan coworkers. Go big blue!


 

About the Author

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Natalee Koehn is donut lover, dog worshipper and grad student pursuing a Masters Degree in Speech Language Pathology. You can often find her studying, hiking, watching football, or inquiring about tacos, all while soaking up as much sun as possible.


 

Want to submit your own terrible morning? Visit our submissions page to find out how. 

The Morning Tangle

I walk and meditate and I’m famished.

My husband returns from swimming laps.

With synchronicity

we take our places in the kitchen.

He hoards the cutting board,

slices a peach and banana.

I prepare coffee. We pivot for a

choreographed collision at the refrigerator,

him for almond milk, me for an egg and jam.

.

We exchange no words, for

we are dangerous before we eat.

I covet his bowl of cereal and fruit,

and he eyes my lightly-over egg and toast.

.

Safely seated in a no-chatter zone,

we take favored newspaper sections.

Earlier I meditated on wherever I go, there I am.

.

My mantra shifts: Wherever I go, there he is.


About the Author

Jeannie Greensfelder

Jeanie Greensfelder is the author of Biting the Apple (Penciled In, 2012). Her poem “First Love” appeared on Garrison Keillor’s The Writers’ Almanac, and her poem “Sixth Grade” was featured in Ted Kooser’s column, “American Life in Poetry.” Her latest book, Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith (Penciled In, 2015), reveals life during a 40-year marriage. She lives in San Luis Obispo, California.

You can find her at: http://jeaniegreensfelder.alhteam.com/


 

Want to submit your own terrible morning? Visit our submissions page to find out how. 

Damsel in Distress


Monday morning.  President’s Day.  I SHOULD have off from work, but I don’t.

I step outside my apartment building around 8:30am and immediately feel the biting, piercing cold.  I cross over 1st Avenue and within seconds I hear a quiet yet commanding voice: “EXCUSE ME!!!!!!!!!!

I look to my right and there she is – a very old woman, sitting in her wheelchair outside of the senior center across the street from my apartment.  ”Can you give me a push?“  I look around and yep, I’m the only one there.  She is talking to me.

I walk over to this woman, who is tiny and wrinkly like a little shriveled up raisin, and am prepared to move her wheelchair slightly for her.  Maybe the sun was in her eyes and she wanted to have her back to it.  Maybe she wanted to face a different direction.  I don’t know.  As I place my hands on the wheelchair handles she asks me where I’m going.  I tell her I’m headed to the subway.

Perfect,“ she says.

Whoa, wait.  Perfect?  Does this little old lady expect me to push her three avenues and three blocks to my subway stop?  And then what happens?  She’s getting on the 6 train with me?!  Where exactly is she headed?  I don’t want to commit to this.  I immediately look at a man in a janitor-type uniform who is sweeping around the area for guidance. He shrugs.

HELP, let’s go – I’m FREEZING!!!!!!!!“ she screams at me.

IT IS WAY TOO EARLY FOR THIS SHIT.

It then immediately dawns on me that it’s totally strange this elderly woman is lounging outside on a freezing cold morning, unattended.  Is she a resident of this senior center and plotting her escape?  Am I her accomplice?  Even worse, is she some kind of scam artist?

I pictured me innocently wheeling this woman around the Upper East Side and then getting put in ‘cuffs for ‘Attempting to Steal an Old Person.’  And I assure you, I do not want an old person.  A puppy, maybe, but not an old person.  And ESPECIALLY not this one; she seems cranky.

I know the man with the broom has observed my encounter with Granny, so I call him over and explain to him that I don’t feel comfortable taking this random old lady for a joy ride, and that I don’t feel comfortable just leaving her, either.  She now changes her tune.  “I HAVE TO GO TO THE FOOT DOCTOR!”  she demands.  OK, enough of this.

I head towards the senior center and barge into the front door to find a woman sitting at the front desk, conversing with a man who appears to be an orderly of some sort.  I begin to explain my situation.

Hi, so there’s a woman outside in her wheelchair –-”

Yep, Francis.”  The woman at the desk interrupts me.

OK well she is asking me to take her somewhere in her wheelchair and I felt bad just leaving her –

Yes, I know.  She does this every day.  She actually can walk you know, she just doesn’t want to.  She’s fine, don’t worry about her.

(WELL I HAPPEN TO HAVE A GOOD CONSCIENCE SO SUE ME)

Uh, okay.  It’s also about 15 degrees out and she said she’s freezing, so…

The woman turns to the orderly and says, “Bring her back in here, will ya?”  He obliges and walks me out, giving me the back story on my friend Francis.  “She’s 100, you know.  She refuses to walk but she can.  She also always tries to get random people on the street to take her somewhere.

Yes, I gathered that.  So as Francis was getting wheeled back inside, I said goodbye to my new friends and continued my walk to the train – all while thinking to myself, I hope I drop dead before getting to that point in my life.

And for added measure, I made it to my subway stop (still frazzled from earlier events) to find a ton of signs everywhere:  ”NO LOCAL DOWNTOWN TRAINS TODAY. PLEASE WALK TO 59th STREET.“  (Which is another 10 blocks away).

So I took a cab, and entered a desolate, deserted work building – because every other company was off today.


About the Author

Allison A

Allison is a 30-something New Yorker who blogs over at (her initials/nickname; not to be confused with Alcoholics Anonymous) about dating/relationships, women’s issues, pop culture and the hilarious shenanigans she often gets herself into. When she isn’t writing she’s working at her day job in digital media/advertising, photographing EVERYTHING and thinking about how she can become friends with Beyoncé.

You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.


 

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