Sunday, June 17, 2007

Zeit // Geist

I'm not saying my new pad is haunted, but if Maude could talk... she probably would.

Starting with a couple weeks ago — coincidentally, the same day I hung a full-length mirror on the hallway wall — she's been, shall we say... intermittently spastic.

Granted, she's an odd cat anyway. And for a couple days I excused her elevated neuroses for a fascination with the mirror (which never seemed to intrigue her at the old place). But now that it's up at this place, she'll look into it, all wide-eyed, and then run screaming, back arched at first (and then quickly dropping low to the ground) for no apparent reason.

And while a part of me wants to say that this just means "cats" have no place on the list of mammals that appear to have some degree of self-awareness (alongside humans, chimps and elephants), I'm starting to think it's a bit more complicated than that.

From about 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every night, she dons an entirely new persona. She'll cry and moan, sometimes insisting on walking between my feet every step of the way. If I try to pick her up, she'll purr in delight for a second or two before she sticks out her claws — pupils dilated — and turns her head every which way staring at imaginary images swirling over and around my shoulders. She'll cry until I put her down, at which point she resumes her position between my feet.

When I first told Washington about this, he discounted it as usual Maude shenanigans — and then he happened to stop by around 10 one evening. Here are some resultant quotes:

"You're really creeping me out, Maude."
"It's like she sees something that we can't see."

and my personal favorite:

"You'd think there was a poltergeist here or something."

Prior to this, I had referred to Maude's behavior as "tweaking" and had hypostheised that perhaps she was tripping on Murphy's Oil (or whatever) that she licked off of the floor. I even considered that perhaps a tiny bug had caught her attention, though she's usually much more pleased (rather than terrified) to chase after them.

However you look at it, things took a turn for the worst this past Friday, when Washington was trying to reach for a cat toy under the radiator, but returned with a damaged photo instead.

It was of a wedding (or perhaps a prom), circa 1982. A man and a woman were standing next to each other, hand-in-hand, smiles big on their faces (though you couldn't see all of the man's face -- the photo had been damaged by some spilled liquid, and time).

Washington handed the photo to me, and my arms started to shake. I thought it was just nerves at first, but then my apartment lights went out, and my body turned cold. My spine ached.

Next thing I knew, the photo was on the floor, and I had burn marks on my fingers.*

*Just kidding about that last part. Everything up to, and including, the discovery of the photograph is true. Any "reasonable" explanations about Maude's behavior that do not involve the paranormal are VERY MUCH appreciated.


Lee said...

Wow...that is creepy. Can't offer any advice about cats. They make me sneeze.

Have you tried moving the mirror tho?

Unacademic Advisor said...

Maybe it has nothing to do with the time of night. Maybe she does the same thing in the middle of the day too, but you aren't often there to witness it. Even though you had the mirror in the other apt, the new digs may have made Maude notice it more. She may just be jittery because of the new environment. Some animals, especially cats, are sensitive to that sort of change. Perhaps she'll adjust in time.

Have you considered that she might be hearing or feeling some vibrations that you aren't able to sense? I'm not talking paranormal here. I just mean the trains or some other non-visible source. Just a thought. Either way, she still may adjust in time.

Winter said...

Oh man! I was so hoping you lived in a haunted apartment :(

That would make for some amazing blog post.

Anonymous said...

You might want to ask around to see if your place has a history. Failing that, Maude is nuts and needs Therapy.

How sensitive are you to the paranormal?

disgruntled world citizen said...

or maybe its just that she thinks there's another cat on the other side of the mirror. of course, maude, god love her, is, yes, a bit odd...

i'm pretty sure your apartment is not haunted.

ds said...

personally, I think it's time to put her down. we all know she's had a rich and full life (minus time spent in recovery from surgery). it's the humane thing to do. you know that if the situation were reversed and you were suffering from some strange undiagnosised mental disorder that she would do everything in her power to ease your fall into falling. besides, here of late she's really just become a minor side character on your blog. I for one have really enjoyed the new character of apartment and the recurrence book review. I say just call it brain cancer and write her out in an episode or two. in a couple of months we'll all have forgotten about not knowing her at all.

you know, I would feel like a real bastard if something is wrong.

love always-


thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Lee - I thought about moving it, but it took me an hour to get it up straight... so I'm hoping Maude will just adjust.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Un Ad - Prior to my return to the gym (which was just this past week), I've been getting home around 5:30. She's fine from 5:30 to 8:30, usually.

I do think there's a good chance she just hears something I can't... perhaps neighbors, a nearby cat (many of my neighbors have cats), etc. Plus, I am three blocks closer to the train. I still can't hear it inside, but perhaps she can?

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Winter - The jury, as they say, is still out on that one.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

BPP - Oh, she definitely needs treatment. But I'm already too close to being that proverbial "cat lady," so I refuse to get her on kitty prozac or anything of the like.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

DWC - That's what I figured the first time she behaved strangely. But now most of her outbursts are nowhere near the mirror, and that doesn't explain why she's looking all around my shoulders like she's following something invisible in the air.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

DS - You're lucky Maude doesn't have opposable thumbs. Because if she'd gone online and read this, she'd be SO upset.

Stacy said...

I see ghosts all the time, they are usually harmless. Last Day of The dead, I saw one at the recycle station, I took her a beer.
All you need to do is burn some sage and open the window and explain to this entity that it is time to move on, or you could tell Maude it is your new best friend, jus sayin. . .

disgruntled world citizen said...

I would just like to say that Maude's white "bib" is cat-sexy.