I think I've mentioned before that I have a slight problem with ringing in my ears. It's not bad, just a constant background noise that until I was about 12 years old I thought everyone had. I can ignore it most of the time; the times it's most annoying is late at night when the house is quiet. Then it can manifest itself in odd ways other than a ringing: the sound of TV on in another room, the dull roar of a horse race or an auction...Dan Rather's voice droning the evening news.

Yeah, that particular one is really annoying.

Four thirty this morning I woke when Buddah jumped from the bed onto his climbing tree (um, yeah, I displayed an incredible amount of intelligence by putting it right next to the bed) and as I tried to fall back asleep I heard Max downstairs, meowing. He's known to sing his little heart out in the middle of the night, and I'm known to utter, "Max, just shut up..."

As soon as I said his name, he let slip a tiny meow from the other side of the bed.

So I had Buddah in the room on the tree, and Max curled up next to me...and a kitty crying downstairs.

I strained to listen; maybe it was a cat stuck outside in the rain. So I got up and peeked out the window, but I couldn't see anything wet and shivering, and the sound was coming from downstairs.

All right, maybe there was a cat by the front door. But I stepped out into the hallway, and the meowing stopped. I waited at the top of the stairs, and when after two or three minutes it didn't start back up, I went back to bed.

Within five minutes I heard it again; I got back up and out into the hall, and nothing.

Back in bed, and there it was, the definite sound of Max's sometimes annoying meow wafting up the stairs, but he was still curled up on the bed.

And then Dan Rather started up, his deep voice a rumble alongside of the sounds of Max.


At least when I hear Dan mumbling in the middle of the night, or the patter of an auction coming from another room, I know what it is. This new twist to my tinnitus is going to have me up and down, checking to see if Max is singing or if he needs help.

I may never sleep through the night again.

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