Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Latest Writing Adventure

Anyone who knows me well knows I don’t have much sense, so it’s no surprise I signed up for an eight week course where I hope to have completed a draft of another novel. The final manuscript of Breakfast With Neruda is submitted, the draft of its sequel is tweaked, and book three is begging to be written. So why not?

How Writers Write Fiction is an annual event sponsored by the University of Iowa, known for producing noted writers such as Robert Olen Butler, Flannery O’Connor, and Rita Dove. The class is being led by poet and essayist Christopher Merrill and novelist Angela Flourney. Best of all, the class is free. (There’s an option to take it for a certificate of completion for $50.00.)

For the past seven days I’ve set up my account, joined a discussion group called Readers Writers, formed a discussion group I titled Not Your First Rodeo, and completed some of the short pre-writing assignments.  The course doesn't officially commence until Oct 1, but the organizers devised a series of Welcome Week activities which include instructional videos, readings, and writing exercises designed to establish writing communities and familiarize us with the course components.

. I like that the course has options for beginning and advanced writers. In both cases, peer feedback is part of the attraction. My recent move has left me bereft of my writing peeps. I have one local friend with whom I write, yet I’ve also been getting to know writers in my two discussion groups.

I chose Readers Writers because the level of discussion revealed participants who read at a deeper level than most book discussion groups. Also, the group was small. In a free course offered worldwide, it’s important to find a niche group. There are teaching moderators, but since I’ve not taken the class before I’m not sure this works. I imagine feedback won’t be live.

I also sponsor a group I called Not Your First Rodeo for experienced writers. I hope to find one or two people here with whom I can exchange meaningful dialogue and criticism.

In addition to readings and writing assignments, there will be quizzes. Only certificate seekers are required to take them, but I plan to participate. I may find I know nothing about writing fiction.

I’ll keep you posted.
Happy Writing.

Monday, August 31, 2015

10 Steps to Getting Your Novel Published

Sane people are not writing novels. They are spending their free time taking dance lessons, going to barbecues, learning how to golf, and having drinks or coffee with friends after work. But you're only marginally sane, and you decide to write a novel.  

Step One. Decide what type of novel you want to write. This part is easy. What kinds of novels do you read? If you’re drawn to romance or chick lit, perhaps that’s in your wheelhouse. Do you love danger and carry a gun? You should write a mystery. For years writers have heard “write what you know,” but good writing is also about finding what you don't know. A well crafted novel combines both.

Step Two) Write a draft of say 55,000 words. This could take as little as a month (see or several years. In any case, it’s not a bad start, but you know it’s not ready for publication. You just don't know why.

Step Three: Show it to someone. You have several options here. A) Take a writing workshop where you attend a First Pages session. The instructor asks for copies of participants’ first pages. (This is after he has just demonstrated how the first page should snare the reader, identify the protagonist, and reveal conflict. (For more on this read Hooked. The workshop leader projects these pages anonymously on a giant screen, where he deconstructs yours. Words you thought looked good on your laptop screen reveal too much back story, show no hint of conflict, and vaguely give the reader a picture of who your protagonist is.

Revert back to Step Two. Call this 2 A)You write two more drafts, where you restructure the story, refine characters, and flesh out details; the manuscript grows to 70,000 words.

Step Three B) Take another workshop with a Famous Bestselling Writer (FBW), whose work you admired. FBW treats you and your work as if it were stinking up the room. You stash the manuscript inside a suitcase and leave it there. Maybe writing isn't your forte. Several months later, you clean out a closet and find the albatross, and decide it’s not horrible. You make a few changes, and C) choose a writer friend who will provide honest feedback without shredding your ego. Keep writing. Why else can you do? Writing the novel was the easy part, but you don't know that yet.

Step Four: Hire an editor. Whether you self- publish or seek a traditional publisher, this step is critical, particularly if like me, ‘typo’ is your middle name. This editor will point out where you spelled a character’s name two different ways, repeated dialogue and actions, forgot names of minor characters, and used the verb ‘smirk’ too many times to count.

Step Five: Title it. The title is more than just a name. A book’s title gives the reader a hint of what lies inside. A book called Love’s Eternal Promise is clearly a romance. Kafka on the Shore begs for a reader who has read Kafka. In Game of Thrones you know kings and queens are involved.

I like a title that isn't too obvious, yet also not obscure. (Poets can get by with obscure titles, but fiction readers like the book slightly unmasked.) Shadow of the Wind conveys mystery, On the Road, and Gulliver’s Travels let you know the characters are not sitting still for long, Pride and Prejudice provides hints to the book’s major themes, and The Last Song emits clues this book will be sad. Catcher in the Rye is a weird title, and though you don't learn two thirds through the book why it’s called that, the phrase rolls off the tongue. Salinger could have called it Holden’s Weird Adventure in Dropping Out, but that reveals too much plot, and somehow weakens the book.

My novel takes place during summer, and the eighteen year old protagonist has a car he calls the Blue Whale, and I considered calling it Summer of the Blue Whale, but that sounded too juvenile and chirpy. (My snarky editor friend suggested I call it A Whole Lot of Smirking Going on).
My working title was Pagoda because initially my boy has a fake ID that names him Michael Pagoda. Later this is changed to Michael Neruda after the word ‘pagoda’ did not make sense to the plot or character. After many sleepless nights, I decided on Breakfast with Neruda. Why? You’ll have to read the book for the answer….

Now that you have named your masterpiece, you move on to Step Six: publication. (Success at self-publishing requires aggressive marketing skills, and since you’d rather write, we will stick with traditional publishing.) This step involves A) researching agents in Writer’s Market, or other online sources. Make a list of agents, and B) start sending out queries. Almost every novelist I know hates this part of the writing saga. I’d rather write another novel. Or get a root canal.

What is a query? It’s where you shrink that 70,000 plus word manuscript to no more than two paragraphs, share your publishing history or related qualifications, and hint your “brand.” You need to appear friendly without being obsequious, confident without being haughty. Most importantly, your words reveal you can write well. 
Six C): Many agents require a synopsis along with query. Take your 250-500 page manuscript and shrink it to two to ten pages, depending on each agent’s preferences.

Six D) Agents and editors claim they want something new and unique, but if you scan the shelves in the bookstore or library in the fiction section, most of what is published is derivative of what has previously sold. Or we’ve just published a book with a similar theme, or a similar setting, etc. I read a great piece today that addresses this issue.

Step Seven. A) You will get rejected, possibly more than 100 times. Most will either send you a generic rejection, or not even respond. The best rejections will tell you specific reasons why they said no. some will even supply you with names of agents they know who might like your work. These are rare, but golden people who have nice notes and smiley faces next to their names in my database.  Rejections can help you make improvement

Seven B) Prepare to get weird feedback. I attended a conference in Seattle on marketing your work that included “pitch sessions. . A couple of agents asked to see my manuscript. Neither represented me,) one agent I pitched to told me, “If you rewrite it and give him a superpower I’ll take a look at it.”

Step Eight. After about a hundred no thank yous, Start doubting yourself, and think maybe FBW was right; you suck. Your friends and family think you’re brilliant, so they have to say nice things about your work. But you want strangers to be honest. You reread the good rejections and confirm your work has merit; it just wasn't something they felt passionate about. Submitting work is like dating; agents and editors have to fall in love. Even though your submission package is dressed to the nines, your hair is freshly cut and you’re wearing your best cologne, if the chemistry isn’t there, he or she will not call you. You rename your email inbox the Daily Rejection.

Step Nine At this point you have two options: quit writing and be normal, or keep trying. But seriously, can a trapezoid like you squash yourself inside a square box?

You have exhausted the list of agents out there who are looking for your type of work. One day you’re reading an online trade journal and come across an article about a publishing house looking for contemporary realistic YA that describes your tale. This house also accepts un-agented materials. You sigh, and think, well why not? You send them a query along with the first 25 pages and a two page synopsis.

Step Ten: The acquisitions editor likes your manuscript, but asks you to rewrite two chapters before she will consider it. You suspected there was a flaw in your book, and this editor nailed he problem. You rewrite and resubmit a couple of weeks later, and a short time later an offer is made. Your work is done, right?

Ha! Writing the novel was the easy part. The work is just beginning.

Happy Writing.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Just Call Me MoeGyver

There are many advantages to living alone. I can leave a big mess and nobody will bark at me to clean it up, or I’m not picking up after anyone else. I can watch my own shows or listen to my choice of music. When I feel the need for company I go out with friends. Unless I lock myself out of my condo.

When I lived in Zanesville several of my friends had keys to my place, as I often locked myself out until I had a house with a garage. I usually kept the door from the kitchen to the garage unlocked. Even so, my front door key was on the same key ring as my car key.

Sine moving here I’ve been locked out twice. The first time was when I did a load of laundry. I set the clothes in for washing and walked back to my apartment. Walked up the steps, pulled out my key ring, and all that hung there was my car key and the laundry room key. WTF? I know I had to have had the key to lock my door in the first place, so I retraced my steps to and from the laundry area, and luckily found my key on the ground.

I bought a new key chain/ so far so good. Today, though, my keys would not have helped me.

I had just come home from Office Dept after buying file folders. I noticed Henry was enthralled with a bug on the floor. On closer inspection I saw it was a bumble bee. Bees are growing scarcer, so in order to save it, I let it crawl inside a trash can and took it out to the patio. On reflex I pulled the screen door closed behind me. The bee flew off, and when I turned around to go back inside, the screen door was locked from the inside.

I had no keys, no phone. Nothing. Just me on the second floor patio. Henry sat on the other side of the door, looking at me as if to say why are you still out there? Pablo was asleep under the bed. I had to pee and it was almost lunch time.

Screen doors aren’t well constructed. How hard can it be to break in? Harder than I thought. I tugged, pulled, beat the latch. Nothing. This baby was well made. I thought if I had a Phillips head screw driver I could unscrew the latch, but the only items on my porch are a few plants, my tub mat, and a wash cloth.

What would McGyver do? I looked at my jewelry: a medical ID bracelet and several cheap bangles. I used the ID portion of the bracelet to unscrew the two little screws holding the outside handle on. It came off, but the inside latch still held. Sigh.

But that gave me a small space between the frame and latch to insert something. I bent one of my bangles to form a hook and worked in in until I finally popped the lock. “I’m a cat burglar now,” I said to my cat. Henry walked away and curled up on the couch, relieved to know the hand that feeds him isn't stuck on the patio.

My B&E tools....

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Breaking Up With Bubble Wrap

I've been slogging through the stuff I paid way too much to have shipped across the country. Old manuscripts that will never be published, an enormous amount of old photos, and miscellaneous items. I think of the organizer gurus you see on TV who proclaim keep only what you need and what brings you joy. The rest discard or donate.

Initially all those boxes cluttering my living room did not bring me joy. I felt I was living inside Susan’s house in my upcoming novel. Since my place came almost fully equipped, there are a lot of kitchen utensils I've already donated. And I'm also finding there are things I own I don't really have room for.

On Sunday I wanted to burn all my books. Boxes and boxes of them, cluttering my living room floor. But Monday morning my mission was to buy a bookcase. I couldn't do any more unpacking until I had to place to shelve my tomes.

Since I've been building (badly) cheap furniture, I wanted something ready-made. Seriously, I would have flunked shop class. Elizabeth tells me she loves building things. “It makes me feel powerful.” I feel powerless because I’m so inept. It took me six hours to put together the boxed night stand I found in the hall closet, and the bottom drawer still doesn't slide in and out with ease.

I found a book case first store out of the gate: Home Goods. And look how perfectly it fits in the space.

This book case took care of some of my books, but I still needed another. Today I went to Storables, and found shelving sold in pre assembled pieces. I bought three interlocking shelf pieces for fifty bucks. They were on sale. I think I need one more, though.

My living room no longer looks like a hider lives here. I can't say that about my didn't get room/office and bedroom. But my brother and sister-in-law are visiting me next Monday, so I need to haul ass and get ER done. (You can take the girl of Ohio, but she still remembers the indigenous vocabulary.)

The only furniture I need now is a dresser and I might be able to keep my clothes, which is a good thing since unclad, I resemble Buddha.

Each day I find basic items I need, such as today, while preparing meatball soup to share with Scott and Jena tomorrow, and I discovered I had no way to open the beans. While the onions simmered in the croc pot I ran to Wal mart and bought a can opener.

On a side note, my editor sent me a PDF of my book cover. It’s gorgeous.  I'll share it when I can.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Living Small

When I sold most of my belongings and moved across the country, I assumed I’d be moving into a blank space. I stuffed two director’s chairs, a fold-able table, and an aerobed in the trunk of my car, assuming these would be my furniture until I could buy some. I recently moved into my one bedroom condo.  What I didn't sell or give away I left for the young couple who bought my house. Included in that were a lot of my cooking supplies, some lamps, towels, furniture, my toolbox (I kept a few critical tools), and yard maintenance tools.

In a way you could say I paid it forward, because the condo I put an offer on came with a bed, two lamps, a couch, two chairs, a set of dishes and other kitchen/cleaning supplies. The couple who owned it didn't actually live there; it was a weekend and occasional residence when business brought them to Seattle. They are retired, and no longer needed the space, and generously left the contents. I am slowly filling in the gaps of what I need.

I don't need to steal any of Jena’s knives because the owners left me a nice, sharp set, along with other spoons and cooking tools.  When my shipment from storage comes some of my own utensils will get donated to Value Village, which is a local second hand store.

I didn't want to share my bathroom with cats again. Three weeks in the hotel stepping over cat boxes to use the toilet were enough for me. Across from the bathroom is a utility closet, which after I moved the vacuum cleaner and step ladder, (The bedroom closet is huge and accommodates these) I had enough room for the boys’ boxes, even though a potential issue in a small space like this is cat litter odor.

I went to Pet Smart to buy more cat litter I discovered a Litter Genie. It’s Similar to a diaper Genie, which I had thought of buying until I saw this. You scoop the poop or clumps of pee into the chute, pull a lever, and it disappears, No odor. Allegedly one bag lasts for three weeks, but because Henry pees several times a day. Poor old kitty. I have a feeling I will be cleaning the unit out once a week.

Because the couch is ultra modern in white leather, accompanied by a white and a black leather chair, I wanted to add pieces that complemented them, but also acted as storage. I bought two red naugahyde foot stools that double as storage and the lids can be flipped over to form serving trays.  I also found a red bookcase that fits on a short wall, and paired it with a sea green glass lamp.

I’m trying to select pieces carefully that coordinate with existing furniture, but also serve a function. I also bought an oak (well, processed oak) desk and bookcase to match the kitchen cabinets. Hauling the pieces upstairs took several trips. Once built, these will go in the dining room next to the small oak dining set the owner’s left. (Next blog post will be about why I would have failed Shop Class.)

Until my storage stuff comes I’m on hold from any more large purchases. I know there’s a cedar chest coming, as well as my crock pot, wicker foot stool and cobalt blue lamps, but I’m not sure what else is in there. Books, of course, yet not as many as I once owned. (I probably sold or gave away 80% of my books.) I also shipped Fall and Winter clothes, several paintings, art supplies, and a few miscellaneous items, yet some of what’s arriving could end up at Value Village.

Because I am living small, I need to be cognizant of being well organized, and learn to live with less. My old desk held lots of stuff, and the roll top feature provided instant hiding for the usual messy surface if company came over. I no longer have that option. I love office supplies, but from now on I will need to second guess buying packages of cute paper clips. I don’t have anywhere to put them.

Luckily the bedroom closet is ginormous because all seasons of clothing will have to go in there. I live close to a Half Price books, and every time I finish a book I don't plan to read again, I will trade it in on another.

In a way I’m changing my personal style. I’ve always been a fan of patterns and pillows, but that just won't work with my new modern decor. I’m okay with that. I had way too much stuff for one person anyway. How much do we truly need?

 Interesting footnote. when I went to get something out of  my car earlier this evening I smelled pot smoke. In Ohio the toker would get busted, but it's legal here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

"That's My Spot."

I’m still trying to find my “ spot.” I am revisiting a Starbucks I disliked the first time I was here. It has an odd set up, the tables are squeezed together, and there are very few plugs, but I’m hungry and I have a free reward on my card. Also, it’s freezing in here, but the Starbucks in Zanesville is always cold, so maybe this is my new spot.

Starbucks has been a chief source of my meals on this journey. Several people gave me Starbucks cards as going away gifts, and out here I can buy Protein Bistro boxes, which comprise of a hard-boiled egg, grapes, apple slices, a multigrain roll, a couple wedges of cheese, and a packet of natural peanut butter. There are other types of boxes, and they cost five bucks, but each is a healthy choice. Today I am using my reward for a free one.

I need to learn about twenty new languages so I can eavesdrop on conversations here. Right now I’m in a middle seat surrounded by people chattering in various tongues. But since I can’t follow their dialogues, I can’t use that as a distraction from writing.

This location is only twenty blocks from my condo, which I will be moving into Saturday morning. Technically I can walk here, but most likely I won't since I will also be hauling a backpack containing my laptop.

My table faces the parking lot, and I’m getting glare from windshields. I could move to the facing chair, but it’s bad feng shui to sit with one’s back to the door if you are alone.  

The other day I met my fiend Cat at Third Place Books. I arrived early in case I got lost, which I didn't. Since I was inside a bookstore I knew I may as well peruse the volumes before Cat and I sat in the cafe area to write. Writers work alone, yet sometimes sitting with another writer optimizes productivity, as if we emit some shared creative energy.

At one point I got up to use the bathroom, and left my belongings with Cat. As I was walking back through the store, a woman stopped me and asked where she could find the James Lee Burke novels. I said, "I don't work here, but I'd be happy to show you."
She eyed me, and said, "You look like you should work here."

I've toyed with the idea of working in a bookstore part time, but two things come to mind: One, I might just have to sign my check over to the store from all the books I buy. At least that was the case when I was younger and allegedly supplemented my income with a second job in a bookshop. The other caveat is I like hanging around bookstores. If I work in one, will that omit a potential hangout spot?

Eventually I will find that elusive spot, or since I’m in a large city, many spots where I feel comfortable and welcomed. This Starbucks might make the list. The baristas are friendly and seem to enjoy their work.  (I’ve been to a couple where some or all of the employees are rude or indifferent.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Taking Circuitous Routes

My friends in Zanesville, noted as the being the fifth worst city in Ohio, often complain about the traffic on Maple Avenue. For about two miles from I-70 and Colony Square Mall, cars clutter both north and south bound lanes. Throughout the rest of the city one can drive with relative ease.

Traffic in Seattle is like that strip of Maple Ave. magnified 200 times. A five mile trip can take an hour depending on the time of day and road construction. Freeways are best traveled between 10 and 2 pm. Traffic is heavy, but it moves, sometimes even at the posted speed limit.

Traffic is going to get worse. High rise apartments and condos are springing up quickly and being squeezed onto lots that once held single family homes. The bus system in Seattle city is fairly efficient, but the light rail is limited, and if one lives in a suburb, he or she needs a car. My cousin Jena says traffic tends to keep people in their neighborhoods.

You’re wondering why I moved here.

I tend to use maps or landmarks to find my way. My GPS using friends and family think I’m nuts, but I think it’s good for my brain to discover my route on my own. If we become too reliant on technology to steer us in the right direction we don't truly learn the path, or its alternatives. I found this when students did internet “research.” Most used Google to find a site or two, and stopped there. They skated the surface of wisdom, avoiding the narrow back roads that may lead to a treasure.

I’ve grown comfortable knowing where to drive in Zanesville and Columbus without a map. Now I have to pay attention to detail to keep from getting lost. Sometimes I think those details change. I have yet to find this Barnes & Noble without getting turned around. Until I find a permanent place to land, the bookstore cafe has become “my spot.” I swear the landmarks change just to screw me up each time I drive here.

I use my GPS app only when I am deeply lost. The other day I tried to drive to Lake Forest Park. I followed the freeway sign for the Lake Forest exit, and thought I was headed in the right direction. After a half hour of driving and a couple of turns, I ended up right back at my hotel. I burst out laughing. I pulled into the parking lot, got directions from the app, and tried the trip again. I saw what my error was; I turned left in a spot where I should have gone straight. It looked vaguely familiar. (Of course it was familiar, it was near my hotel.)

My target on this venture was Third Place Books. I had come here several times when I house sat for Jena and Scott last year, and knew the route by heart from their house. One of the reasons I moved here is the city still supports independent bookstores. Zanesville is an hour’s drive from the nearest bookstore.

Every day I am here I get less lost. Today I am meeting my friend Cat at Third Place Books, and I’m pretty sure I can find it again. I’ll leave early just in case they move the landmarks.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Soup's On

My hands stink of onion and garlic and this makes me happy. I cooked yesterday. It's been three weeks or longer since I’ve sliced, sautéed and stirred anything. The week prior to my leaving Ohio I ate most of my meals out with friends, and these past two weeks I’ve either eaten on the road, or in the hotel, with the exception of my three days on the farm where cousin Cheryl cooked for me. A couple of days ago I texted my cousin Jena and said, “I have a hankering for some MOEnastrone. I want to come to your house and cook dinner for you.” She loved this idea.

She was having concrete laid in her back yard, and we worked out Wednesday was a good day for me to keep her dog Luna company while the men worked in the yard. I left the hotel late in the morning and shopped for my ingredients at the Fred Meyer near Jena’s house.

Jena had left out a big pot for me and labeled cabinets so I could find spices, olive oil and utensils. I turned on the burner and drizzled olive oil inside the bottom of the pot. I diced an onion and tossed it in the warm oil. Next was garlic. The knife I used on the onions wasn’t cutting the garlic. I pulled a different knife out of the knife block and fell in love. This very expensive looking knife sliced the garlic like it was butter. Note to self; steal this knife.

As the garlic and onions softened, I added broth and chopped and diced zucchini, carrots, celery,  and tomatoes. I’m often asked for my soup recipe, but I don’t have one. Each time I make it, the soup tastes slightly different from the previous batch. It depends on the season and which ingredients I choose. This time I used chicken broth Jena had prepared. I often use vegetable broth if I’m cooking for a group to appease vegetarians. Sometimes in winter I use beef broth as it has a heftier flavor. The two ingredients I always use are kidney beans and tomatoes.

In summer I aim to use almost entirely fresh vegetables. This time I also added frozen baby lima and green beans. Because I was cooking in Jena’s kitchen, I used the seasonings she had on hand at home I use an Italian seasoning mix, but the closest Jena had was an Italian sausage seasoning mix, which added a slight kick to the soup. 

As the soup cooked, I looked up recipes for making chicken parmesan. I used the Food Network recipe as my guide, and adapted it slightly. (I never follow a recipe to the letter. I like to leave my own signature on a dish.)

After the chicken went into the oven, I took Luna for a short walk, and by the time we walked in the door Jena was home from work and the chicken was ready for me to add marinara and cheese. Jena opened a bottle of red wine, and we chatted as she prepared salad. We ate outdoors since the night was clear and crisp.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Let's Not Shake it Up

I never should have read the New Yorker article about Seattle’s odds of being devastated by the Big One. Disaster images run through my overactive imagination as I walk along the beach at low tide, half expecting a giant surge of the predicted tsunami.

I sit outside a cafe in Edmonds, a beach town north of Seattle, and observe the calm as I eat my carrot ginger soup and caprese sandwich from the pretentious cafe. (The soup has a grassy, vegan flavor, and they’ve put something like grape jelly on the tomato, basil and mozzarella sandwich.) It’s sunny, and 80 degrees, and it seems impossible the earth might suddenly collapse beneath me, obliterating everything in its path.

Californians expect the Big One at any moment. They live with frequent trembling earth and know the risk of living on a fault line. But the earth doesn't shimmy here.  The eventual disaster will take us all by surprise.

Earth never promised to be a safe place. It’s been trying to shake us humans off for millions of years via earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, fires, ice storms, blizzards, high winds, pollen, insect invasions, high heat, sub freezing temperatures, volcanoes, floods and droughts. Pick a place on the map and one or more of the above is indigenous to the area.  Kansas is urging its citizens to pack a kit for the zombie apocalypse.

This is a good idea anyway. After having lived through numerous storms and power outages in recent years in Ohio, I keep a couple extra gallons of bottled water, bandages, and snack bars handy.

The end of the world has been predicted for centuries, though, by scientists, soothsayers and religious zealots alike. A recent spate of disaster moves, books and TV shows depicting the earth in ruins denotes our fascination with cataclysm. We frequently hear of groups waiting for the mother ship to take its disciples home.  

Yet aren’t there enough real disasters to worry about without pondering the potential for calamity? The lesson here is to finish my weird lunch, enjoy an afternoon walk and window shop in this cute little town of Edmonds as if it’s 1999.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

El Gato Blanco vs. Los Humanos

Okay, so this morning I’m minding my own business, taking a nap on the giant hotel room bed, and the Crazy Cat lady sits down and strokes my fur. So far so good. Then she says, “I’m sorry.” It’s never good news when she starts a conversation with an apology.

She lifts me up and stashes me inside that blasted crate again. That means either we’re moving again, or the vacuum cleaning lady is coming back. She scoots Henry inside his crate, too, and says, “I’ll be back in a few minutes. Be good.”

She leaves. Henry doesn’t even bother to complain anymore. Hw sighs and just stares out the wires of his cage. My crate, though, is soft sided. I got out of here once; I’m sure I can find a way to escape again. When I got loose in the car all I had to do was bag my head against the zipper. CCL got wise and faced the zipper side of my crate against the wall. But this thing also has three mesh windows. Unlike the back seat of the car, where I was surrounded by stuff, there is nothing blocking me between the mesh and the outside world.

I bang my big white head against the mesh. There’s no zipper. But wait. I have built in scissors. I claw at one of the windows until I can fit my head through the hole, and voila! Just as the vacuum lady walks in, screams, and slams the door, I’m free!

I stalk the room. Because Henry is locked up, it’s mine, all mine! I’m just about to dance for joy when the CCL comes in and grabs me. “Bad kitty. You escaped,” she says. She jams me back in the carte, but turns it so the hole is now underneath me, and the zipper side is against the wall. But this time she sets the whole contraption inside the closet, loads a pair of shoes on top, and ties the door shut.

I hear her laughing with the maid when she leaves, and the vacuum lady makes all her cleaning noise.  I create a new hole in the mesh and wriggle my way free, but I can’t get out of the closet. It’s not so bad in here, though, so I lie on the top and take a nap until the Crazy Cat Lady comes back.

She’s not mad, though. She sets me in the window and gives Henry and me some treats. After a bit I curl up on the hoodie she had planned to wear today. Cat 1, Human 0.