2017: A year in review.

Happy New Year’s Eve! Or Hogmanay as we celebrate in the Frozen North, a word that causes a fair amount of consternation everywhere else.

As is customary at this time of year, we look back on the past twelve months and reflect. I’m not going to waste my time on some of the crap bits of 2017 – of which there were mercifully few. Instead, here’s the things that happened this year that made it an absolute belter.

I got engaged

After two years of shit jokes and nerd stuff, Sean decided that I was tolerable enough and marrying me wasn’t the worst idea in the world.

It wasn’t rose petals, candles and writing my name in the sand. He casually sidled up to me at work after failing to find one of those flexible rulers and said “what ring size are you? I’m just curious.” Being not stupid, I twigged on what he was up to, and he proposed in the middle of our living room with a picture of the ring on his iPhone, much to the delight of our family and friends. It’s a story I’ll likely never get tired of telling.

We’re getting married in the summer of 2019, which means that this year I should probably organise stuff. This’ll be a laugh.

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At least we booked the venues. Behold!

So did my sister

Not one hour after my sister had accompanied me to a wedding fair and seen more dresses she’d like than I had, her boyfriend of six years proposed. I gather Andrew was more subtle than Sean was. Very excited to be involved in a wedding that is not my own. As well as my own, obviously.

We all went to Orlando

After multiple evenings spent weeping from envy and nostalgia in my parents’ living room, I finally got to step into Disneyworld after fifteen years. I can’t really say more about it than I did in this blog post, but I’ve managed to convince Sean that we should go back for our honeymoon.

florida
Sun, cloudless sky, and Disney. Words don’t do it justice.

Forth Magic was born

2016 saw the doors close for the last time on our regular Magic: the Gathering venue. Not to be deterred, some of my best friends and I managed to band together to secure a venue (the excellent Yellow Café in Rosyth), organise our own events, and keep the momentum even as an unsanctioned playgroup. We even ran our own PPTQ before we unfortunately lost our sanctioning.

The Scottish MtG is one of the best communities that I know and I’m very proud to be involved in contributing to that.

The best video on the internet arrived

Have you seen the video of the Fleming family attempting to remove a rogue bat from their kitchen in County Kerry? If not, please experience it right now.

There was a new addition to the McArmstrong family

In Octover, after months of wondering whether or not Stella was lonely and unstimulated while we were out at work all day, we decided to get another cat. Thus Brando came into our lives.

brando

I’m not sure Stella has forgiven us yet. She was a laid back, delicate, deliberate kitten. Brando is a feline wrecking ball, bereft of any sense of danger or decency, prone to jumping on her without notice and ignoring any hissing and smacks on the head she doles out. He’s a cuddler, a curtain climber, a bottomless pit, and we love him. Even Stella’s been caught licking him when she thinks nobody is looking.

I wish he’d grow out of licking my ears when he wants fed, though.

I started this blog

My greatest achievement of this year has been this blog. I’ve started blogs before, but writer’s block and self-consciousness saw them fall into the pile of stuff I’ve started and ploughed into before my motivation dribbled away and died. I’ve made my mother cry, my friends routinely tell me how much they enjoy reading it (even if it is for the tone and sarcasm and not the content, right Dan?) and I’ve amassed 40 blog followers and over 100 Facebook followers since I started. I’m hardly a big fish, but I’m pretty pleased with myself.

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2017 was a good year. I’m currently in the holiday mood where everything is winding down and brand new at the same time, so expect a post about 2018 and where I hope it takes me very soon…

Five true things people didn’t tell me about owning a cat (and one lie they did)

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I’ve heard many things about cats in my 20something years on the planet. Aloof, unfriendly, claws, disappearing for days on end, bringing dead presents into the house like every day is Christmas Day.

It might explain why we were always dog people. I grew up playing with my grandparents’ Labradors until, after years of pleading, we got a dog when I was 13. It wasn’t until I got into my twenties and started to hang out with a few cats that my cold cat heart started to melt.

Subsequently, shortly after I finished my undergrad degree, I acquired this:

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(Check out the nick of my stupid face. It was love at first sight for me. I think Stella knew she was doomed to being squished forever. SHE WASN’T WRONG.)

It’s been four years now since I acquired Cloth Cat, and I’ve come to realise that quite a lot of the misconceptions were, frankly, total nonsense. Below are just some of the things that Stella exists to disprove.

Not all cats are divas when it comes to food.

Here is a list of everything I know Stella has eaten in the time I’ve owned her.

  • Wet food
  • Dry food
  • Dog food
  • Grass
  • House plants
  • Cooked chicken I was about to take to work for my lunch
  • Pizza
  • Ham
  • A bit of Rich Tea biscuit
  • Mashed potato
  • String
  • A stray olive
  • Some feathers
  • Her own fur.

Here is a list of things that she’s turned down.

  • A piece of vaguely expensive salmon that I dropped on the floor by mistake and figured I’d put in her dish rather than waste. Because it was vaguely expensive.

It ended up in the bin.

There’s no escaping the hair.

Stella’s adoption certificate lists her as a British Short Hair. “Ah, excellent,” said I when I met her tiny, British Short Haired kitten face. “I won’t have to buy a million lint rollers and hoover five times a week.”

Wasn’t I stupid.

There’s hair on my kitchen utensils, hair on my towels, hair on every available surface. All she has to do with walk within three feet of me and I look like I’m cosplaying Chewbacca. I’m live in a state of constant bafflement as to how she isn’t entirely bald as she seems to be on a one-cat mission to carpet my entire downstairs in shades of ginger and brown.

British Lotsof Short Hair, more like.

Cats aren’t always graceful ancient feline god material

I mean

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For a long time I thought cats slunk about like Si and Am from Lady and the Tramp but without the singing. YouTube did solid work in shattering these expectations but I still wasn’t fully prepared for just how ridiculous cats are. Cue falling out of bedroom windows, jumping out of trees onto garden parasols (the cartoon sliding down into the shrubbery was a particular highlight) and two memorable incidents of jumping behind the bed and getting wedged, feet dangling, between the headboard and the wall and squeaking pathetically until I got up and rescued her.

If cats are ancient gods, I’m pretty sure mine is the equivalent of Mushu from Mulan. But Mushu’s awesome, so it’s OK.

Cats WILL come when you call them

Breaking news! You don’t need a variety of weird cat-friendly noises (you all know them, don’t tell lies) and a bag of biscuits to make a cat appear. You can teach them their name and then they’ll show up (the biscuits do help with this part though). It does however mean I end up channelling Marlon Brando whenever I want to see her.

(Yes, contrary to popular belief, Stella’s last name isn’t Artois. She’s named after Stella Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire. Prior to this, she was known as Beyonce in her foster family because she’s got a patch of light hair on one of her toes that looks like a ring. I chose badly re-enacting classic American theatre, however hollering “Beyonce!” in the garden to coax a lazy cat from the bushes would also have been excellent.)

They’ll shred you the moment you even vaguely displease them

Cardinal rule of cats: you pat them very carefully and you stop when you start to get That Vibe: the one that says they might suddenly turn around and rip off your epidermis. Don’t touch them underneath. Ever.

I don’t know if it’s her overall personality or the fact that I was so enamoured with Stella when I first got her that I used to pick her up and squeeze her several times a day, but she’s a teddy bear. She’s quite open to being seized and cuddled at random. All you have to do is think about patting her and she falls over. She’ll roll onto her back and stick all her legs in the air and let you stroke her underneath until you get bored or she falls asleep.

In fact, in four years I can count the number of times she’s taken her claws out on one hand.

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And one lie about cats I believed for a shamefully long time:

Cats won’t love you like a dog would

Every day, when I come in from work, I go into the living room and deliberately make a hell of a lot of noise. Every day, without fail, Stella will come barrelling down the stairs like a sack of bricks with legs, aquaplane (but on fur, not water – furplane?) across the laminate flooring and start decimating the couch out of sheer joy until I go and grab her and throw her over my shoulder.

She sleeps on the bed most nights, sometimes rolled up on the end, sometimes right next to me so I’m spooning her, sometimes across the top of my head on the pillow like an odd little hat.

It’s very unusual for her to not be in the same room as me if I’m in the house. If I’m doing the dishes she’ll be trying to get into the cupboards so she can drop a kilo of hair all over the plates, if I’m in the spare room on the PC she’ll lie under my desk. If I’m in the living room she’s either on the floor in front of the window or on the couch between us.

She’s a ridiculous, dopey, lazy sack of cat who often forgets to put her tongue back in when she’s been licking herself, sees a closed door as an invitation and is currently standing on my keyboard without a care in the world, so I’m writing this with my chin on her back and a mouthful of tail.

And she loves, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically, everyone who comes through the door, without prejudice.

Good day friends!

I had a blog once, back in the day, but it kind of fell apart due to a) my crippling anxiety with regards to writing things and then showing them to other people (fun fact: I’ve suffered from a generalised anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember) and b) feeling like my life was shockingly boring and I had nothing to write about. I plan on fixing the latter by roping my friends in to give me random prompts every once in a while (fun fact: I nearly called the page “Smells Like Team Spirit”). The former I’ll attempt to get over by ripping the plaster off, firing nonsense into the internet and trying to resist the urge to set myself on fire afterwards.

Since I’ve already dropped a couple of facts in, here’s ten of the most interesting facts about me. Some of these will probably come up in the future. Some, like my awful jokes, will probably not.

1.       Most of my friends call me Sticky. I made a throwaway comment once about how nicknames never stuck. Unfortunately, this one has.

2.       I’ve got a big floppy cat called Stella. She hardly ever moves, chews my hair when she’s hungry and fall over when you pay attention to her. I love her.

3.       I have mild megalophobia. Nobody’s ever heard of it but it turns me into a jumpy bag of nerves any time I’m near an airport.

4.       I run (with my friends) our local Magic: the Gathering community. It’s simultaneously the most stressful and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

5.       I got engaged two weeks ago. I accidentally found out my fiancé had bought a ring so he got on one knee with a photo of it on his phone in its absence.

6.       R.E.M. have been my favourite band since I was nine. I never saw them live before they called it a day and it haunts me.

7.       My parents found out I could read when my dad had the newspaper sports pages open and I asked him who Colin Montgomery was.

8.       My jokes are so bad that I’ve been removed from buildings for punning.

9.       I’ve seen far too many episodes of Air Crash Investigation for someone who was already a nervous flier.

10.   I learned “London” by William Blake for my Higher English exam and I could still recite it and then sit down and write a pretty hot critical analysis of it nearly a decade later.

Thanks for reading!