I Could Be a Crazy Cat Lady (Almost)

I’ve always been drawn to cats.  Don’t get me wrong; I love all furry creatures, but I just have a special bond with cats.

From a young age, I loved to watch cats gracefully stalk anything that moves.  I giggled when they shook their hind ends and poured every ounce of concentration into choosing the right moment to pounce on whatever caught their interest.  I admired their agility when they leaped onto a tree trunk and climbed up to a high branch in a flawless, fluid motion. 

The way they acted disinterested and then practically made me beg to pet them fascinated me.  I wondered if they would care if I said “forget it” and walked away (like I could actually do that).  To this day, I find a cat’s purr one of the most relaxing sounds.

As a child, my parents weren’t too thrilled with my love of cats.  The last straw was when I lured a bunch of stray cats to hang out in our front entryway.  It was a great place for homeless cats, I thought.  They were protected from the wind, rain, snow and sun.  The potted plants gave them lots of places to hide (and to “do their business” as I later found out).  I provided water in plastic dishes and sat outside for hours petting the cats.  It was a perfect arrangement because none of us had anywhere else to go or anything better to do.

One day, my parents sat me down and explained the reasons I should not be so friendly with the strays.  They were mostly concerned with diseases that the cats could carry (as an adult, I understand this is a valid concern, but as a nine year old child, I thought they were just being mean).  The conversation’s ending came as a total surprise to me.  They offered a solution that they felt would be best:  they would buy me a cat.

Misty was an indoor/outdoor gorgeous blue point Siamese cat.  In our small town, there weren’t a lot of places to get a cat, but my parents found Misty at a pet store for a low price because she wasn’t a baby kitten.  I didn’t care because I had a cat of my own.  My excitement faded to disappointment and a little jealousy when I realized Misty liked my mom best and nearly always ran away from me.  This affection was ironic because of my parents, my mom liked cats the least. 

We only had Misty a few years before she disappeared.  After several weeks of no kitty, my parents gave in and we got another kitten.  Through the school years when friends came and went, Abby never left.  She lived eighteen years and by the time she died, I was married and had a house of my own. 

Abby holds a special place in my heart, but I have had four other cats since then:  CeCe, Cybil, Lizzy and Sammy.  Right now, I have three cats, but if my husband was agreeable, I’d most likely have a few more.  I can almost see myself as one of the odd (usually unmarried) old ladies that you see on TV with fifty cats in a tiny house.   Besides my husband, there is one other thing that holds me back:  how on earth would I be able to keep up with all those litter boxes?  Ick.

My beloved cat, Abby…on a hideous 80’s couch

This past week, I wrote a couple of poems dedicated to my special furry friends.  I’ll share them with you on Thursday, which will be my next post.  Have a good week!

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I Hate You, Technology, My Love

My love/hate relationship with technology is stormier than any celebrity relationship gracing tabloid covers.  When things are good, they’re really good, but when they go south, well, it gets ugly.

My most recent spat with technology began last weekend when I got the brilliant idea to reformat a tower computer that’s been sitting under my desk unused for nearly two years.  Back then, I had grand plans to make it the kids’ computer after I cleared the hard drive of every bit of personal information that someone could steal away.  (I guess ‘someone’ is the same person that would wait outside to dig through my trash if I didn’t shred all of my mail). 

I suspected the task would be difficult because people that knew a thing or two about computers told me so.  Last Sunday, I felt brave and ready to conquer the task.  I managed to download the boot disk files onto a floppy and CD, just in case one didn’t work.  It was going so smoothly, I decided those people who told me it was a pain didn’t know what they were talking about.

My progress came to a screeching halt when I discovered that the BIOS screen didn’t display on my computer.  (No BIOS screen = no reformat).  I shut down the PC and restarted it three times to make sure I didn’t blink and miss it.  Nope.  I realized the people who foretold this misery were right.  I consulted with the ‘experts’ on what to do next.  When I mentioned I just wanted to get all my information off the hard drive, the immediate suggestion was physical destruction of the hard drive.  Really?  That seemed so brutal; I wasn’t sure if I could do it.

Also on Sunday, I accidentally introduced my cellphone to my washing machine.  (Not a great day for me, can you tell?)  Even sitting in a baggie full of rice for a few days couldn’t resuscitate it.  I’d grown attached to it after five years together, but because of my co-dependent relationship with my cell phone, I had to get over my grief quickly.  I couldn’t manage my daily life without it, so I purchased another phone on the rebound.  I chose a flashy red phone with a QWERTY keyboard that I’ll never use since I’m old fashioned and only use the phone for talking. 

Not wanting to be left out of the conspiracy to destroy me, the email account that I send queries from is misbehaving.  I discovered extra line breaks and mid-paragraph returns are mysteriously appearing.  (Three agents now suspect I might be under the influence while querying).  I emailed support and got a standard response with 10 troubleshooting steps to try.  I’ve gotten through most of them, but it’s still not working.

In a final crippling move, my husband’s laptop started popping up some corrupt file messages last week, so yesterday, he called support.  I don’t know what they’re going to do to it, but I’m supposed to back up the files before he calls them back, because there’s a chance we could lose our files.  (At this point, I’m not sure what’s more in danger of being lost; the computer files or my mind).

Yep, I finally had to admit that technology brought me to my knees.  I didn’t see any way to overcome my disadvantage, so I finally snapped and fought back.  Technology has gotten way too controlling and I couldn’t take it anymore; my hammer and I took matters into our own hands.  (Well, my husband helped too).

Hard Drive Beaten Into Submission

That hard drive won’t be telling any of my secrets.  In fact, the other computer parts won’t even recognize that it was a hard drive. Oh yeah, we messed it up all right.  And it felt great.  I haven’t felt this calm since….since…wow, when was I calm?  Oh, never mind.  It doesn’t matter. 

Last night, I was ready to divorce technology.  Tonight, it charmed me back into its arms.  I couldn’t resist the power of the internet, blogs or even my manuscript.  I may hate myself tomorrow, but for now, technology and I are on again.

Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with technology?  I’d love to hear what you find most endearing, frustrating or exciting about technology.

Excuse Me, Subconscious, I’m Taking My Life Back

After I accidentally washed my cell phone last weekend, I complained that my querying would be on hold since I didn’t have a phone.  Because, you know, I’ve got such an awesome query that the agents are going to pick up the phone and talk to me instead of a simple email reply.  I’m being sarcastic, of course.  I’m very aware the chances of an agent calling me are somewhere around 1 in 879,326,294.3335 – in other words, I’m more likely to get hit by lightning twice or win the lottery jackpot (or both in the same day).  But still, in my mind, it made a good reason to not query right now.  It didn’t even immediately strike me as odd; that took time.

Having a degree in psychology, you’d think I’d catch on to my thoughts and behavior sooner.  But no, I stealthily tip-toe down the path of avoidance and don’t look over my shoulder until I’ve nearly forgotten what it was I should be doing.  Yes, my subconscious is extremely sneaky and devious.

Here’s what I’ve done this week during the evening hours normally set aside to work on my second novel:  wrote bad poetry, cleaned house, wrote query song, read/commented on blogs, emptied and organized desk drawers and wrote more bad poetry.  Impressive; I managed to avoid any querying and didn’t even open novel #2. 

Suddenly, I see this is a life pattern; to put it harshly, I have a history of being a lazy quitter.  When things get tough, I take the path that requires the least effort of me.

Let me summarize my work history as a glaring example of this:  several months after graduating college, I took a job at company #1.  The hiring manager was my best friend’s sister, so it was hardly a ‘cold’ interview.  When I decided to leave there, I had an ‘in’ at company #2 because a co-worker’s dad worked there and talked to the hiring manager.  When company #2 closed, someone from company #1 called and offered me a job.  Rather than pound the pavement, I took the offer.  After nearly five years, I remembered many of the reasons why I left in the first place, so I left again.  No, I didn’t relentlessly search and interview until I found my dream job; I went to work for the manager I worked for at company #2 and I’ve been there for two and a half years.  (Don’t get me wrong, the job isn’t miserable, but I’m not passionate about it either).

I’ve never had to exert effort to impress anyone in the business world; I took the easy way out and accepted what came to me instead of looking within and contemplating what I really wanted to do when I grew up.  None of the job changes really furthered my career; I’m doing the same stuff I did twelve years ago.  I guess one could look at it that I’ve been lucky enough to have contacts – if that’s the case, too bad I don’t have any of those in the literary world 🙂

Why I make decisions that keep me running on life’s squeaky hamster wheel, I don’t know.  But now that I’ve figured out my subconscious plot to numb me into submission, I have to fight back.  Becoming a published author may be a longshot, but I’ll never know unless I dedicate time each day to the cause.  I’ve got to go work on novel #2 now.

P.S.  I tried a query earlier, but am having trouble with my e-mail.  That’s another blog post entirely!

Pounding On My Keyboard (Query Song)

Last week, I was singing (I use this term loosely) along to Taylor Swift’s song, Teardrops on my Guitar, as it played on the radio.  For some reason, the words for a query rejection song came to me during the chorus.  That’s when I got the idea to write them down and make up a couple of verses too.  Most of the time when I change words to songs, it’s to make it about my kids and something we’re doing at the time because it makes them laugh.  (They think I’m crazy and weird, so I have a reputation to live up to.)  There’s just one problem with this whole process:  I don’t sing very well.  I sing anyway because I like to, but not in front of people.

In honor of the rejections I received today, the words to the query song are included below.  WordPress requires a space upgrade with a yearly fee to add audio, so you’ve been spared the pain of listening to it.  *Whew*

Pounding On My Keyboard

(melody of Teardrops On My Guitar by Taylor Swift)

Query rejections, I try to laugh so I won’t scream

And breakdown, or hit “reply”, or something else embarrassing

Then there’s the chosen few, the represented ones

Oh, do they even know how lucky they really are?

Query rejections, I pour my heart out in email

Say a prayer, then click send and get a bunch of “not for me”s

I always hope for “yes”, but so far get a “no”

And still I try again, another agent even though

     CHORUS

     My rejections cause the pounding on my keyboard

     Still hope remains and keeps me

     Waiting on my email guard

     I see mail in my box, can’t avoid it – I click anyway

Tomorrow’s a new day, a chance to finally shine

When I could get my break, with any hope before I cry

     CHORUS

My resolve shaken up, now I think that I suck

Yet this dream that I chase will see me through…

Query rejections, I try to laugh so I won’t scream

It’s all in how you look at things

I’m tired today because I stayed up too late last night catching up on neglected tasks.  I don’t function well on 4 hours of sleep.  Aside from nearly falling asleep at my desk during the after lunch lull, I was (am) a bit cranky.  I found myself thinking “whatever” several times today.  To me, “whatever” signals that I’ve stopped listening and the person needs to go away.

After an eleven hour day (from the time I left this morning to when I got home after my son’s gymnastics class), I should’ve been happy that my husband had dinner ready.  Instead, I was annoyed because he used an entire box of pasta and a whole jar of alfredo sauce.  If we were having a block party and planned to invite 10 of our closest neighbors, this would’ve worked out great.  Instead, we’re going to be eating pasta for the next two days because I don’t want to waste it. 

Even more frustrating is the fact this was an encore performance and the same thing just happened a few months ago.  Grrrrr.  Don’t get me wrong, even when I’m not tired, this type of thing really annoys me.  But it’s been 3 hours and I’m still dwelling on it.  That tells me I need a nap 🙂

 There.  Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can be happy that I got to eat and didn’t have to cook or clean tonight.  While I’m looking on the positive side, I can report that he has learned something after 13 years of marriage:  he didn’t dare ask me if it was “that time of month”.  (no, it’s not) That’s a good thing, because I just don’t have time to plan his funeral right now.