It’s Official; Cats Are The Cure For Everything

, , , , | Learning | February 25, 2021

I used to get what I called “I hate everything!” days. Let me explain that: I used to struggle with depression, a lot of unresolved anger and grief, and several other mental health issues. I started therapy when I was in my early twenties, and I am so much better now, but back when I was in university I would sometimes have days where I felt nothing but anger and resentment toward everyone and everything. If the toaster malfunctioned, I wanted to throw it against the wall. If someone walked too slowly in front of me, I wanted to punch their lights out. If my dad called, I wanted to cuss him out.

On such days, I only had negative things to say. It was an awful feeling, but thankfully, my enormous fear of hurting people kept me from acting on my impulses. Still, I didn’t trust myself on those days, so I would stay home, lock myself in my room, and not interact with anyone.

One day I couldn’t do that, and that was the day that changed everything. I had an English literature seminar that day, and since I was struggling with that class a bit and had already missed a class because I was sick, I knew I couldn’t afford to miss it. I told myself to just go and keep my head down and my mouth shut. This is what I kept repeating in my head as I walked to class, wanting to scream insults at every cyclist that didn’t obey traffic rules and to kick everyone who got in my way. “Eyes down, mouth shut. Eyes down, mouth shut.”

Unfortunately, my calculations hadn’t accounted for my teacher, a young, happy-go-lucky guy who was super enthusiastic about his subject, loved every book we had to read, and loved interacting with his students even more. Normally, I really enjoyed the discussions we had in that class, and I was usually one of the most involved students. I should’ve known he’d get suspicious if I kept quiet.

The book we had to read that day was Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man And The Sea.” I’m not a fan of Hemingway on a good day, and this was most definitely not a good day. So, of course, the first thing our teacher asked us is what we thought of the book. “Eyes down, mouth shut,” I kept repeating to myself, as the rest of the class started debating. And then, disaster struck.

The teacher smiled brightly and turned to me.

Teacher: “What about you, [My Name]? You’re unusually quiet today. What did you think of the book?”

Now I’m thinking, “Don’t hurt anyone, don’t hurt anyone!”

Me: “Didn’t really like it.”

It’s all I trust myself to say, but [Teacher] isn’t satisfied.

Teacher: “Really? That’s it? That’s all you have to say? Nothing on the struggle of man versus nature? The wonderful use of language? The fascinatingly ambiguous ending? The—”

Readers, I’m sorry to say that I snapped. I flew into a rant about how much I hated this book and its author. I think the least harsh words I used were, “pompous, grossly macho, and ridiculously over the top.” The rest I won’t repeat, but I get a good few minutes of belligerency going before I suddenly realize the entire class is looking at me like I’ve grown an extra head, and the teacher looks like a kicked puppy. I turn red, duck my head, and mumble an apology.

Feeling guilty but still angry at the world, I say:

Me: “Sorry, I hate everything today.”

Before the teacher can recover, one of my classmates, whom I have previously bonded with over a shared love of cats, jumps up, pulls out her phone, and shoves it under my nose.

Classmate: “There. Do you hate that?”

It’s a picture of her cat, a very fluffy white Persian, wearing a tiny Christmas hat and looking very grumpy about it. The balloon of anger inside of me deflates a little.

Me: “No, I guess I don’t hate that.”

Classmate: “Look at her! Look at how grumpy she is. She only agreed to the photo because I was holding a treat. You can’t hate that!”

I really can’t. Somehow, that picture of a grumpy cat in a Christmas hat pops my balloon of anger, and I just feel tired — a vast improvement.

Me: *A lot calmer* “No, I can’t hate that.”

The teacher seems to think it’s safe to talk to me again.

Teacher: “As much as I appreciate the rescue, I must ask if that’s relevant for class.”

Classmate: “No, sir, it’s a picture of my cat.” *Shows him* “But it worked, didn’t it?”

Teacher: “Okay, that’s adorable. But we really have to continue now. [My Name], do you need to leave for a moment?”

Me: “I’m good, sir. And I’m sorry. Thanks, [Classmate].”

We continued the seminar without further incident. Afterward, I wondered if [Classmate] had found the cure for my “I hate everything!” days and decided that next time, I would look at cat pictures BEFORE going out. I did, and what do you know? It worked! It didn’t miraculously make me happy, but at least it made the anger go away.

Thanks to therapy, I no longer have days like that, but I still look at cat pictures when I feel down. My therapist and I even made it a part of my treatment plan, because apparently, no matter how miserable or angry I feel, I can’t resist cats.


This story is part of our Best Of February 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of February 2021 roundup story!

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Fighting Tooth And Nail To Keep A Cast Together

, , , , | Learning | February 23, 2021

It’s the first week of classes in my first week at university away from home when one of my wisdom teeth literally shatters in the middle of lunch. After a bit of calling around, I discover that since I’m not registered with a dentist in my new city yet, my only option to get the remaining jagged shards removed is the emergency after-hours clinic at the hospital. Since any movement of my jaw slices my cheek into ribbons, I don’t have much choice.

I’ve managed to get myself cast in the theatre society’s next play and the first read-through is this evening, so my next call is to the director. It’s relevant that this play is a satire with some VERY adult themes.

Me: “I’m really sorry, [Director], but I can’t make it tonight.”

[Director] gives a long, despairing groan.

Director: “I will make any changes to the script you want, but I’m begging you not to drop out on me.”

Me: “What? No! I’m not dropping out. I have a dental emergency, and even if I’m not in the chair during rehearsal, I won’t be able to speak.”

Director: “You’re sure? You’ve read the script. You’re okay with it?”

Me: “Yeah. I won’t be inviting my granny to see it, but I think it’s pretty funny.”

Director: “Oh, thank God. My lead actress and both parts of the double-act dropped out as soon as they saw the script. The lead actor is wavering, too. I couldn’t take another dropout.”

I got my tooth out — which was a disaster — and made the second rehearsal. The play went great and I’m still friends with some of my fellow cast members nearly twenty years later.

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Art Is… Complicated

, , , , , , | Learning | February 17, 2021

I was a physics major, but there were still some general education courses that were required. Although a few had some useful information, most of them were worthless. I went to the first few classes, and if I found that they contained no useful information, I would not read the books or go to the lectures except when needed. One of these courses was called “Survey of the Arts.”

For my midterm essay, I argued that art movements typically have patterns opposing societal change, such as the “Romanticism” art movement standing against increasing industrialization and a decreasing sense of individual dignity.

For my final essay, I argued that art movements typically have patterns reflecting societal change, such as the “Realism” art movement being caused by increasing industrialization and a decreasing sense of individual dignity.

I got good grades on both.

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Book This One Under Lost Cause, Part 2

, , , | Right | February 9, 2021

I work in a university library.

Patron: “Hi, I’d like to buy this book.”

Me: “Sorry, sir, but we don’t sell books. You can borrow it, though.”

Patron: “No, I don’t want to borrow it. I want to buy it!”

Me: “Well, then, you could go to [Local Bookshop]. It’s not even three minutes away.”

Patron: “But I wanted to buy it here… Do you really never sell any books? Ever?”

Me: “Well, we do sell books sometimes, but only old books we don’t need any more, and it’s not often. The one you want is fairly new, so no, we probably won’t sell it.”

Patron: “Aww, that’s too bad.”

He hands me the book and I put it away. I think he’s leaving but he comes back suddenly.

Patron: “Actually, do you have any comics?”

Me: “Yes, we have some historical comics in the history section and some educational comics in—”

Patron: “No, no, I mean fun comics.”

Me: “No. You might want to try [Local Comic Shop] or [Local Public Library] for that. They’re not far from here, either.”

Patron: “But why don’t you have some? You’re also a library.”

Me: “Because we’re a university library, sir, not a public library. All books here are supposed to help students with their classes.”

Patron: “But students need to relax sometimes!”

Me: “Yes, obviously, but we’re located in the town center. Students can relax pretty much everywhere here; there are bookshops, the comic shop, the shopping center, the cinema, coffee shops, and many more.”

Patron: *Muttering* “Mmmh… it’s really too bad that you don’t have comics… Too bad…”

He finally left. I have no idea why he didn’t just go to any of the shops or the public library.

Related:
Book This One Under Lost Cause

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Who’d Want Them Regularly?

, , , , , | Right | February 8, 2021

I live in halls at university. Student diets being what they are, my friend group of six orders a takeaway at weekends with a rotation of who picks the place, always paid for collectively.

My girlfriend and I favour a Chinese place, and over time, as we become known as regulars, the service becomes faster, the quality gets better, and it eventually gets to the point that we even get extra little items thrown in as a thank-you. Stamped proudly on the receipts is the word “regular,” and we are more than happy to keep ordering.

Another member of the friend group favours a more generic takeaway that does a bit of everything, so when it is her turn to pick, she always goes for that one.

A couple of months roll by, and one evening, her receipt arrives with “regular” on it. Rather than be happy to be a valued customer, she has a minor freak-out and proceeds to never order from them again the entire three years our courses run for, instead ordering almost at random from whatever takeaway she’s seen a menu for last.

It blows my mind that she would be unhappy about being a regular; how can you get upset at being valued?

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