how i became a morning person–and stopped peeing in the shower


Most of my life, I’ve been a night owl. From age 5 to 25, the three most dreaded words in the English language were:

“Are you up yet?”

In high school, my heart would pound at the sound of my mother’s footsteps at the end of the house, growing  louder as she approached my room—much like the music in a horror movie crescendos right before the grisly deed is done. After scraping my leaden body out of bed, I’d take at least two naps before school—usually one in the shower. That’s right, in the shower. I’d be so overwhelmed with exhaustion that I would crouch down and rest my head on my knees while the water streamed around me.

Looking back on it, in those days, I’d weirdly transitioned a number of daily acts of living to the shower—including brushing my teeth. I had an obsession with efficiency, and I truly believed that brushing my teeth while showering would save me a precious two extra minutes (to sleep, of course). Now, when I look back on this obsession, I worry: was I peeing in there as well?! Now, I honestly don’t remember doing this, but I admit it’s entirely possible—especially if I thought it would win me back another 30 seconds or so of snoozing. (Sorry, Mom).

In college, convinced I didn’t hit my peak productive zone til after 10, I’d sit in my lonely single dorm room and blare Les Miserables until the wee hours of the morning, drawing organic molecules, writing in my journal about my profound loneliness, and eating too much ramen.

Then, during my brief life as a commuting, corporate city-dweller, I would cry bitterly as I dug my car out of the snow during frigid pre-dawn Chicago mornings—mostly over having to get out of bed. Continuing my obsession with efficiency, I’d eat breakfast and do my makeup and hair while sitting in the morning traffic, and congratulate myself on the five extra minutes I’d saved. Sometimes I’d nap in the parking lot before going in. That stopped when, looking down during a presentation to the head honchos, I discovered I’d drooled all over my suit lapel,  which I then cleverly blamed on a run-in with the water fountain.

That all changed during grad school. Now, I rise before the sun—even on weekends. I’ve become that annoying person who won’t make plans after 9pm, and falls asleep during movies. Ideally, I’ll have at least two to three hours before I leave for work, to sip coffee, to read, to write, or go for a run.

I’d like to attribute this new “early to bed, early to rise” mentality on my work ethic, or some zen-like need to kick off my day with meditation.  The truth is, it’s bribery. Of both me, and my cat. (There I go, breaking another rule on how to avoid looking like a crazy cat lady).

See, what happened is that when I started getting up earlier, I started feeding Pierre Escargot a treat. I mean—getting out of bed is hard work. Maybe the most difficult task of the day. So I’d reward him with a treat and myself a bowl of chocolate-covered sugar bombs, and we’d get going.

What I didn’t realize is that I was effectively conditioning him to wake up earlier and earlier. Each morning, Pierre would get up increasingly early, stomp all over the bed—and me—before standing  on my chest and wailing (or “trumpeting,” as I like to call it). I’m not sure if this is better or worse for Birdbrain, who doesn’t like the early call time but probably prefers it to my previous habit of hitting snooze for a solid hour.

Regardless, for better or for worse, I’m no longer a night owl. And I definitely no longer sleep—or pee—in the shower. Now get me some sugar bombs, and let’s go.


How to Love Cats and Be Friends with People: A Not-So-Crazy Cat Lady Manifesto


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: Manifesto.

Most people think that crazy cat ladies are easy to spot. They’re quirky sorts, with fluffy, feathery hair, fanny packs, and stretch pants—after all, they can’t be bothered to put on real pants when there are so many cats to care for.  They have walls lined with dusty feline figurines. They’re profusely sweating under the thick layer of fur lining all their clothes. They love cat massage and lil bub. Perhaps most tellingly, they can’t stop talking about their cat—as if the cat were human. 

Not so, my friends.

Here’s the thing about crazy cat ladies: the craziest ones are out there, lurking among us. These stylish, accomplished women strut around in heels, kicking ass and taking names. They have a social life. They even, on occasion, have a romantic partner.  They seem normal. Yet, just under the surface, they’re brimming with cat-related trivia and anecdotes. They’re just dying to tell you about how little Mr. Miyagi went nuts over those packing peanuts.  On the outside, they’re cool and collected—but the truth is, they can’t wait to get home and wrap their arms around half a dozen cats. I know because I am one. Here’s my manifesto about how to be a crazy cat lady—on the sly.

  • YOU SHALL not wear animal print of any kind. Even ironically. Sorry. If you’re dying to be trendy, try stiletto nails. Then you can sport cat claws without giving yourself away, plus—automatic self-defense! Watch out bad guys, rude strangers, or a random piece of dental floss. You’ve got the goods.
  • YOU SHALL not send cat-related emails or post feline Facebook messages. No matter how funny the meme or ridiculous the video.
  • YOU SHALL never, EVER compare having a cat to raising a human child. Despite the many similarities between cats and babies (such as uncontrollable whining, penchant for soft, stinky foods, inability to use a toilet, and random nocturnal wailings, to name a few), for some reason, parents do not like it when you compare your idiosyncratic furball to their tiny, drooling human.

              “You’re right,” you say, trying to empathize, “Sleep-training is the worst! Mrs. Puddingworth has been getting up before dawn for months, screaming for her chicken biscuits. I’m exhausted!”  Whatever you do, do not say this to a new parent! Unless, of course, you have a death wish.

  • YOU SHALL invest heavily in air freshener and a heavy duty lint brush. BONUS: save all the fur you scrape off your clothes and use it to make DIY pillows for Christmas! Or make little tiny hipster mustaches to give out as party favors. Your friends and relatives will love them. You’re welcome.
  • YOU SHALL not talk about your cat in public. At all. Even if someone brings it up, pretending that they too love cats. This is a trick! Don’t fall for it. Inevitably, you will have much more to say on the topic than the poor fool who posed the question, and reveal yourself for who you truly are. If anything, use a decoy! Say you love dogs. Say you love birds. Say you share your bed with a one-eyed rabbit with IBS. You can say anything at all–just don’t say anything about cats.
  • YOU SHALL never let the cat-to-human ratio in your household exceed a one-to-one ratio, or at worst two-to-one. This has less to do with appearing like a crazy cat lady and more to do with retaining some control over your sanity, life, and limbs. Let’s face it—once those things outnumber you, they’ll form an army, and life as you know it will be over.


  • YOU SHALL not publish a blog post about how not to be a crazy cat lady.

Oh shit. I’m busted. Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join em. romantic stroll