After a few weeks of ill health followed by one day of absolutely perfect health that inspired me to say something sensible and prophetic like "She's 100% better! SHE WILL NEVER DIE!" my guinea pig died.

After a life spent wanting hay, eating hay, wanting more hay while still eating that other hay, and hating all things that were not hay, she died in the most peaceful and painless way imaginable.

I had a dream the other night which I will now mention—NOT because I think dreams are interesting as long as they're mine and not some other stupid person's, but because this dream reveals how straightforward and embarrassingly unsubtle my dream life is. I was at a movie theatre. Obviously, I had brought (the still-living) Stabler to the movie theatre with me. Just as obviously, I had not brought a carrier or basket or pair of hay manacles with me, and she immediately escaped. I then ran through the theatre trying to convince strangers to care about and look for a grown woman's escaped guinea pig, and was unsuccessful. Then a man in the front row, clutching a pale, sickly girl, cried, " care for this PIG? You search for this PIG while I stand here clutching my ailing six-year-old [Stabler was, of course, six] daughter?" And the crowd turned on me and then I woke up.

She was a tiny, short-lived mammal, and she was a nasty, no-good, ungrateful piece of work. As my friend Colleen said, she was "fierce, with no fucks to give." As many people have noted, if she had been a person, she would have totally intolerable, and I would not have been willing to keep her in a large cage in my living room. But an asshole who is small and furry and occasionally squeaks is a pretty cute asshole, and I miss her like crazy.

I am once again comically unfocused to the point of half-wittedness. See if you can identify the subjects of the different near-simultaneous trains of thought in the inner monologue I've recreated below.

I feel I am close to really understanding modal auxiliaries. They are actually quite manageable. I wish Weiner hadn't gone with those teenage-Don-Draper-in-a-whorehouse flashbacks—I didn't need a Law and Order: SVU explanation for his sexual issues. [Stabler has eaten two pieces of lettuce, but not touched one single pellet. If she weren't furry, I think she would look peaked.] "Do," "must," and "ought" are modal auxiliaries. That makes sense to me. Is every episode now going to feature Don Draper on some kind of drug/suffering from some kind of illness and then hallucinating? [Stabler's urine is a strange colour now. I must look up photos of guinea pig urine on the internet. She has not yet eaten ONE SINGLE PELLET.] I can no longer remember a single modal auxiliary. I do not know what a modal auxiliary is. I suspect that soon the show will feature nothing but Don with a head cold talking to wise dead infantrymen and Wild West–style prostitutes. [The vet told me orange urine could be caused by stress, which makes sense, because she has been fighting off infection—and being so disapproving and defiant and mean-spirited probably takes a toll, too. Pellets all still accounted for.]

"Being so disapproving and defiant and mean-spirited probably takes a toll." This photo was (I'm pretty sure) taken by Jonathan Goldsbie and is perfect.
I will be taking next week off (and accidentally took last week off) because I am preparing to move, and it's difficult to organize one's time properly when there is so much organizing and planning and cleaning and general despairing to do. A great deal of time, for example, went into creating the following:
The orange paper was all I had on hand—I am not planning a Halloween- or Netherlands-themed apartment. And the place is fully equipped with both a kitchen AND bathroom, but as I won't be putting furniture in either of those places, I didn't build small orange versions of either of them.
I didn't realize until after I took this photo that I've somehow managed to misplace my tiny orange chest of drawers—it's probably somewhere in the depths of my couch. I am not going to go in after it right now, because yesterday I unexpectedly happened upon a wizened and distressing cashew under one of the cushions, and moving prep has demoralized me enough for the moment, thank you very much.

And this is the "Stabler" that will take up so much space:

She is extremely demanding and full of hate.
But I couldn't let this week go by without at least mentioning the people who've recently made feel grateful that at least I'm not moving in with them:

1. Ann Coulter (she would be difficult to live with because she's really mean and also crazy)

She tweeted after the debate that she approved of Romney's decision "to be kind and gentle to the retard."

She later tweeted (the "he" is Obama): "If he's 'the smartest guy in the room' it must be one retarded room."

Probably she tweeted these tweets because not enough people had been outraged by an earlier tweet she tweeted, about a video Obama made for the National Forum on Disability Issues: "Been busy, but is Obama STILL talking about that video? I had no idea how crucial the retarded vote is in this election."

2. Sue-Ann Levy (she's Canada's answer to "she would be difficult to live with because she's really mean and also crazy")

During Monday's debate, she tweeted: "Obama says he 'will stand' with Israel if attacked and they are a 'true friend.' His nose is growing again. #MuslimBS"

3. A bunch of scientists

Researchers asked a bunch of scientists to share their thoughts about why there aren't so many women in science, and why when women do go into science, they tend to be more interested in biology than physics:

“Physics is more difficult for girls and you need a lot of thinking, and the calculation, and the logic. So that’s maybe hard for girls.” — male grad student, physics

Awesome. And if you think women can also say some worrisome and essentialist things about women, but do so in a slightly less douche-y fashion, you're absolutely right:

"Physics is more abstract and biology is more concrete. Women are less likely to like abstract things.” — female associate professor, physics

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you're not entertained, fair enough.
I am depressed because of my guinea pig. I'm not referring to a person I call a "guinea pig" because I'm always trying things out on them. I'm talking about an actual guinea pig. I am a childless, guinea-pig owning grown-up.

My husband is terribly, perversely, insistently allergic to cats. We weren't mature enough to handle a dog. So I researched small, furry mammals, tried to find the ones that looked most like miniature capybaras, and got two of them.  They are named Benson and Stabler. Benson is small and wily, and Stabler is tubby and indignant. Actually, they're both generally indignant. They live in the guinea-pig cage equivalent of the Sun King's court, make regular angry noises because they feel they deserve a constantly-replenished supply of hay, and look a bit like vaguely-startled (and indignant) slippers.

Now Benson is sick. Benson, who rushes about, squeaks, and rushes about some more, is now listless, despondent, and refusing to eat. I rushed her to the vet today and she's going to have to stay the night and be subjected to a battery of tests. I am depressed for a number of reasons:

1) It is crazy to have pets. Pets, as a rule, tend to die before people do. If you decide to live with animals, you are inviting the promise of loss into your home. 

2) Pets can't talk. Benson just stares at me with giant, expressive, terrified eyes and there's no way I can explain to her what's going on. Of course, if I could explain things to her and she could understand me, she probably wouldn't be all that reassured.

3) One of my most vital and meaningful interpersonal relationships is with a guinea pig. 

4) People sometimes acknowledge that it's traumatic when a cat or dog dies. Almost nobody takes it seriously when a guinea pigs dies. In fact, they usually feel the need to say something like, "Oh, when I was a kid, we accidentally starved ours to death", or "I threw mine down the stairs when I was a kid and then starved it to death", or "I was intending to starve mine to death, but then it escaped into our basement. We never found him." Even if Benson recovers, she will eventually die, and when she does, almost everyone will be bemused when I am plunged into deep mourning. Stabler will not mourn. Stabler doesn't like Benson very much. In fact, neither of them like me all that much. 

Which leads me to:

5) One of my most vital and meaningful interpersonal relationships is with a guinea pig. Who doesn't like me very much.

Update: RIP Benson. You were a spirited and sweet-tempered guinea pig, and smarter and cuter than most people.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.

Christine O'Donnell (Repubican candidate for Senate in Delaware) is an inspiration. To me, and, if you are right-minded and/or a Satan-worshipper, perhaps to you too.

First she admitted on Bill Maher some time in the 90s that she dabbled in black magic when she was in high school. Her defenders defended this revelation in the following manner: "Who DIDN'T do something wacky in high school?" I know I regularly attempted to induce malign forces to manifest themselves in my friend's wood-paneled basement.

Then she made the claim that a married masturbator is adulterous because he or she can't do it without lusting after someone to whom he or she is not married. Or something. She didn't believe this when she was worshipping the Evil One on altars and such, which means that while she was maybe a bit sketchy then, she was at least more fun. I suppose that's what's often said about Satan. Which is why I totally revile her early fun-ness and embrace her self-abnegating grown-up self. 

But I don't just like her because she's a once-devil-loving masturbator-hater. She's also living proof that it's way easier to be an expert than you might have thought.

In a recent debate with her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, O'Donnell indicated she couldn't remember what the Fourteenth and Sixteenth Amendments to the Constitution were all about and MAY have revealed she wasn't all the sure what's in the First. 

Ignorance is never worrisome, but it's especially un-worrisome in this context because O'Donnell has already proved she's a constitutional scholar. She's mentioned on a number of occasions that she received a "graduate fellowship" in Constitutional Government from the Claremont Institute. 

Would you like one also? Not as difficult as you might think! Turns out the Claremont Institute is a right-wing think-tank, the graduate fellowship is not, strictly speaking, a graduate fellowship, and the whole thing lasted exactly one week.

This has filled me with hope. I've always wanted to be a cardiac surgeon. Now, thanks to the folks at the Cavy Institute, I have a fellowship in Cardiac Surgery Preparedness. The fact that the Cavy Institute was founded by Benson and Stabler, my guinea pigs, does not in any way call this honour into question, as they are completely dedicated to the Life of the Mind.
Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.