Tommy & Me at 3:53

Seven, eight, lay them straight. Remember this nursery rhyme? Old-school, maybe no one under fifty-five has heard it. I didn’t until I started kindergarten in 1967. I lived in a progressive household. We laid them straight, gay, crooked or in a circle.

Yes, this is the nonsense that ran through my brain at three-thirty this morning. Awake for fifteen minutes, annoyed with my thoughts, underfed because we ate eggs for dinner—my stomach rumbled uncomfortably—I fought for sleep. Tommy, my brown tabby, clawed the underside of the bed. He knew I was awake. Bored and hoping to get fed, the more noise he made, the higher my likelihood of getting up. I put him out.

Out, but not outside. Just out beyond the glass door that separates the bedrooms from the rest of the house. It’s winter. Cold this morning, subfreezing, but not by much. This winter is mild with lows bottoming out in the mid-twenties. Piece of cake for a cat, he would be fine. But would he really? I’d worry about him freezing. So not outside; just locked away from my sleeping family and his litter box. The litter box tugged at my mind. What if he needs to pee? Would he just go on the floor? I’m sure he’s pissed about his banishment. Peeing would be apt revenge. He’s a smart cat.

A couple of years ago, this crap didn’t happen. Whenever we passed the food bowls, we scooped out some extra kibble. A never-ending meal. Sure, the cats were a little fat, comfortable, I’d call them, but they never woke us up. Then Roz got diabetes. It’s never been clear to me if she got sick because of how we fed the cats, but Spooky, Roz’s predecessor, got diabetes too. The vet told us we did it wrong, feeding them. Twice a day, she said, a quarter cup each. The cats eat their meal in about forty-five seconds. And then they complain.

Breakfast and dinner, six a.m. and six p.m. The schedule can’t vary too much, Roz needs her shot. A micro-dose of insulin. She’s a tiny cat. Well, kind of fat but otherwise tiny. We didn’t medicate Spooky. Too many barriers. Little kids, erratic schedule, tight budget. Spooky was already old. We made him comfortable, kitty hospice. Lilac, Spooky’s litter-mate, lived only a year longer.

Roz timed things better. We’re old now. Homebodies, And she’s young… ish. The expense is minimal. A bottle of insulin costs twenty-dollars. We throw away half a bottle every two months. It gets old before we use it up. And the syringes are practically free. The vet diagnosed her a couple of weeks before we left town for France. We couldn’t delay her medication, she lost too much weight already. It went like this: “Hey, Roz is actually looking rather fit these days.” Two weeks later: “Hmm, does Roz look a little skinny to you?” Two more weeks: “I think we should call the vet!” If we waited on her insulin until we got back from France, she might disappear altogether.

As a vacation expense, France was huge. Two weeks, air fare, rental car, lodging, meals, currency exchange. And pet care. Our unpaid help wasn’t comfortable giving the shots. We brought in a pro. We haven’t taken a vacation since. Sometime last year we recovered financially, but now it’s just too big a hassle to work out the logistics. Eli’s friend John would do it, but he doesn’t drive yet.

Fifteen minutes later, still awake, stomach still growling, still worried about Tommy, I got out of bed. A few years ago, I instructed spin classes two mornings a week. Back then, getting out of bed at three-forty-five was a regular occurrence. Now I consider it the middle of the night. A conversation tonight at dinner: “You got up because you were hungry? Why didn’t you just have some chips and go back to bed?” There’s no sense in explaining it. My kids won’t understand until they’re fifty. I found having nothing to do at four a.m. rather relaxing.

When I first started blogging, I woke up each morning ninety minutes before everyone else to carve out a quiet chunk of time to write. This morning reminded me how much I loved that. Tommy didn’t get any food. I’m smart enough to not reward his behavior with an early breakfast, but he joined me on the couch while I wrote. He seemed quite content. I’ll be surprised if tomorrow morning isn’t a repeat. He catches on quickly and what works once, he always tries again. Four o’clock is an early hour to start the day, but I’m thinking I might not resist it so much tomorrow. Tommy and I might make this a habit.

Photo by Yassin Mohammadi on Unsplash. Thanks Yassin.

18 thoughts on “Tommy & Me at 3:53

  1. I had the worst night of sleep last night, and the cat certainly didn’t help. I wish I could kick her out of my room, but we are a dog house, and although the dogs are put away at night, and the bedroom door is open, she never leaves. If I finally hit my limit with cat stuff, I have to leave the room. Good luck tomorrow if your new routine comes to fruition. It sounds like a special time to do something you enjoy.


    • Well, no. We slept until the alarm. Tommy found somewhere else to sleep last night. He can’t wake the kids up with his antics. Besides making noise to purposely wake me up, the thing I hate most is how he needs to sleep right where my feet go. Sheesh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That would be frustrating. Mine stares at me.
        Every so often she just walks across me and sits, but if I touch her she bites. Everything is in my room too – her litter box, her food, her water. She really never leaves. I think it is a frustrating arrangement for both of us, but she is fed and warm and has a home so it works. Maybe tomorrow your cat will remember the morning writing plan. Sounded like a nice routine.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am awake at any and every hour. I actually dont mind getting up early if Ben and Zeus are still in Ben’s room. I like the quiet and watching sunrise. (Thank you again for the YouTube suggestion. I’m using it more😂)
    My cat has to sleep ON me. She only weighs like 7 pounds but it pins me in place and I wake up stiff. I’m too accommodating… making sure the cat is comfortable, and sacrificing my own comfort.🙄🤦🏼‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s just a preference. I could never work until 11. But actually enjoy being the only one in my building at 7AM. Plus, I think you and I are often heading off to bed at the same time.


  3. Ha! Welcome to my world. Awake at 3:53 and thinking random thoughts. Now that I am retired, though, I can go back to sleep and just wake up whenever I wake up. When I taught, I used to get up at 4:30 to get a run and/or swim in before school. Now, not so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’m going to be joining this crowd as be get closer to summer. Recently I’ve struggled with heat and I think my best running is going to happen in the twilight before dawn.


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