The Life and Shred of Catnip

Once, back when I was still excited about the plant dream enough to try it myself, I bought a catnip bush. I thought this would be exciting for my cats to chew on occasionally. I left it out in the living room the day I bought it, leaves pristine and healthy. It was a decent size, not some small starter plant. It was left unguarded for the night while my husband and I slept.

And it got shredded in the darkness.

My kitties had apparently not only found the plant but became enthralled with it, biting off almost all the leaves for their late-night activity. When I checked it in the morning, the plant was sending major SOS vibes with barely any leaves left.

I came to its rescue and moved it to the guest bedroom, a space we kept off limits from the cats. I set the plant on a nightstand in front of the window, opened up the blinds, and hoped it would survive.

Plants are usually pretty hardy. I know I say this coming from someone who kills cacti, but generally speaking, you can forget to water them a couple of times, give them the chance to recover, and they will attempt to thrive once more if put in the right environment.

And thus was the way for this catnip bush. Its leaves grew back and intertwined between the window blinds. Occasionally I would snip one or two off to give to the kitties, but other than that it was left alone to muse in its own corner of the house.

Until the day came when my husband was running wire for the hot tub.

One that fateful day, he went into the guest bedroom to check on something related to the far wall (as that was the outside wall the wiring was being set up on). Upon finishing he left and went back outside, absentmindedly leaving the guest bedroom door open.

And allowing doom to walk in.

Two dooms.

My cats, Socks and Elsa, curious as they are, slinked into the room they hadn’t seen in ages. I imagine they explored under the bed first, then on top of the sheets, until one of them discovered the plant by the window. Soon after the other feline joined in and together they got incredibly high off my catnip plant.

I walked into the room many hours later, not knowing the door had been left open. The kitties had left long ago, leaving behind a decimated plant, worse than the first time. No leaves had been spared, and even stalks were cut down in their prime.

All I could do was provide water and close the guest room door, hoping the plant would recover.

This time, however, the damage was too great, the shock too much to overcome, and it died. I didn’t get another catnip plant after that, and instead went with pre-shredded mixes. My husband loves to put the kitties in boxes and sprinkle catnip on them, and then we sit back and watch them spaz out amongst the cardboard.

Which do you identify more with from the story? The plant or the cats? For me I would like the curiosity of the cats without the destructiveness, tearing through life with vivacious energy. But sometimes life brings out its own claws and can knock you down, shredding energy like the catnip leaves.

I think one of the constants through life is how you face those stressor moments. Whether it be a class, an obstacle, or just getting through the week, it helps to know that there is an end to that moment.

Over the summer I was stressing about a lot of stuff, and feeling pressure from various directions. I felt like my world was shrinking and I didn’t know what would happen.

Through it all I had skeletons of plans. My plan A, my backup plan, and my backup backup plan. (the working, reserve, and stock culture analogy for any of my Micro students reading this). I was squeezed and my leaves of hope were getting thrashed, but I played the cards I was dealt and continued making moves. And maybe they weren’t the greatest moves in the grand scheme of things, but out of all the options before me they seemed the best approach.

And to think a few months ago I said I was going to have a relaxing summer with no burnouts. One can never predict the future.

I hope your leaves haven’t been shredded too much that you’ve lost hope in what you’re pursuing. Perhaps with some time and recovery you’ll come back where my catnip bush did not.

Onwards, dear readers. Slowly onwards.

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