Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scream like a Girl

“A girl is a person who screams at the mouse and smiles at the wolf.” Shyam Kapoor

Let’s get a couple things straight here; I’ve never been a screamer. Maybe, it’s the tomboy in me, but I don’t ever remember letting out one of those high pitched wailing screams - A scream capable of sending a shudder dancing up someone’s spine and teeth chattering in grinding pulsation.

Since we’re trading personality traits, I'll readily admit I am a flinger. I’m 98% sure all humans are ingrained with the fling reflex on the off chance something offending, somehow finds its way into their hand.

All these things play a role in the following story. Beware what happens when a writer’s imagination gets away with her.

I turned off the light and snuggled down into clean sheets and up to Paul. My hand absently strokes against something rough, which tickles my palm (this isn’t that kind of story). I immediately felt along the length of my braid to the tail end, making sure my braid wasn’t the culprit. The realization that’s not me slams home with a shudder. Fingers outstretched, I explore the space beside my pillow once again. Oh holy mother…whatever it is, is now in my hand with legs, lots of legs. I fling it toward the end of the bed.

Now here’s where it gets stupid, really stupid. I should have known. A classic ‘don’t open that door’ moment from a horror movie. For one the working dog wonder did not run out of the room post haste with her tail tucked between her legs, and she’s deathly afraid of bugs.

Reluctant to turn on the light like a frightened little girl, I refused to be alarmed and curl back up under the covers, only to stare restless for hours at the end of the bed. Waiting. My eyes droop heavily, shuttering open and closed in a fitful fight against the sandman and sleep. Slumber wins in a welcome tired reprieve.

Mere minutes later, my eyes fly open. Something had scurried crablike over my wrist and off. A low moan, escapes my lips. Fingers curl inward and around the revolting crawling heap until goo leaks down over my knuckles, followed by a crackling pop. I react and fling the predatory nuisance over the edge of the bed. With a groan, I grab up a handful of tissues and scrub at my hand.

At this point you would think (at least the logical assumption would be), I’d turn on a light to see my nemesis. Instead, I push myself deep into the middle of the bed - shoving Paul to the edge and almost off the far side, and wrap the sheets and quilt around me tight, leaving my side of the bed bare. I sat vigil waiting, expecting something to come crawling over the edge with possible reinforcements this time.

Dare I peek? The way my night was going? Not a chance. At this rate, I’d find the boogey man hiding under the bed. Four AM – I finally fall into a fitful sleep.

The next morning emboldened by the light of day, I searched every square inch of my bedroom for the night creeper. Nothing – not one single insectile leg or denizen was to be found.

So now we’ve established three things: I’m not a screamer, I’m a flinger, and I’m a writer. If only I could stop psyching myself out and imagining a nauseating creature crawling off to lick her wounds and spawning more of her ilk for revenge.

Things of note:
*Paul would have gladly come to my rescue had I awoke him.
**No one was bitten by a repugnant bug during this reenactment.
***Writer’s tend to let their imaginations create dystopia realities, when confronted by alien like bugs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela


I stood in front of the door to the music room, my hand held in midair over the doorknob ready to push the door open. With a weary sigh, I let my hand drop to my side and walk over to the stairs and sit down, sorely disappointed with myself.

Shut in the room sat my latest rescue cat. Never in all the years, of saving these abandoned animals had I feared one. Nutmeg – so named for her coloring, had found me not long after she had gotten pregnant. Nothing but skin and bones, Paul and I had made the decision to have her pregnancy terminated in order to save this tiny cat - who wove around our legs while we decided her fate. Gentle, loving, wanting to please, and be held Nutmeg, came back a very different animal.

Paul gave up his music room and his lessons for two weeks in order to give her time to heal and recover - twelve long days to be exact. Two days later she bit deep into the meat of my hand. She’s nervous and afraid I reasoned and didn’t think much of it. The next day she lashed into my leg so violently, I bled and would sport bruises for over a week. Paul joked, "Must be you." She appeared fine for him. That same day she left three scratches across his face.

So, I sat on the steps, embarrassed this tiny tyrant had gotten the best of me. In an act of bravado, I strode to the door and went in and dared to approach my nemesis. She purred and curled up in my lap. I cried, I didn’t trust her and wanted so much to make her right again. Slowly but surely Meg as she came to be known in her gentler times, healed. The day we had to cut her stitches and remove them (due to the nature of her health the vet chose not to put in dissolvable stitches) both Paul and I, anticipated a few scars. Much to our chagrin and surprise, she gave us little resistance.

We now have one last hurdle - find her a home, where she’s the only pet. Our (not so) gentle Meg, isn’t so kind to other animals. She fights for everything and anything. Alone she’s the gentlest creature around. If she appears to be a kitten in the above photo, she is. I still believe there is a home, a place where she belongs, and I’ll find it. I haven’t given up on her.

I came to realize over the past three weeks, dealing with her is not much different than writing. The courage it takes to open a door and risk what lies on the other side; is the same courage that continued to spur me on as I wrote the final pages of my current book. I’m in awe of what I accomplished (animal and book). I left the last thousand or so words until yesterday…I wanted to keep them close and refused to let them go, languishing in the ending.

In a year and some odd months, I’ve written three books – Close to 232,000 words. If that isn’t practice and determination, I don’t know what is. There are still revisions to be made on my latest work in progress. But not unlike working with Nutmeg, I’m resolved and passionate enough about what I do – someday a book of mine, will find its way into a publishing house. Courage is the single step you take, one in front of the other, into your dreams. I can’t/won’t be one of those people who sit back and wonder about the ‘what if’s’. I plan to finish what I started, and go on to start another and another…Because dreams were never one dimensional.

*In a side note: We have rescued pregnant cats before and watched over them full term, finding homes for the kittens after they were old enough to be weaned. This decision wasn't made lightly. The health of the mother, overrode all else. Everything we do with these rescues is out of pocket. We’re making a difference one animal at a time and I’ll continue writing one page at a time. Life, it's about those things we are most passionate about.