Cat Drool, In-laws, Airports and Cannibals

Finally, a moment to myself after a hectic few days. My cat is even playing along and sitting beside me on her makeshift perch instead of traipsing all over me. I put a small square pet bed on top of my rolling file holder so she would have someplace other than my keyboard to lounge. If she isn’t on my keyboard, she is on my lap, which gets really uncomfortable after a while. It isn’t the constant kneading with her little claws that does it; her drooling is the kicker. She sits contently in my lap and purrs and drools all over my leg. Cat drool is just plain yucky and that is all there is to it, thus the invention of the file-holding cat bed next to my desk. Ingenuity is one way to kick a cat butt and keep your leg dry. You can quote me on that.

Cally Cat

Cally on her “stay-off-the-keyboard” bed

So, what kept me so busy? I took a trip to see my in-laws. If you are expecting to hear horrible in-law stories, this is going to be really disappointing for you. I don’t have any killer cousins in-law or loosey-goosey sisters in-law ; no, none of that here. I actually hit the jackpot when it comes to my husband’s family. They are the most fun loving group of people I have ever been around. Having in-laws you love and love to be around really makes things easier. I know lots of folks that have all kinds of extended family troubles and sure, it makes for great stories, but I would rather hear those stories than live them.

I don’t know if other writers do this or not, but when I am around people, I often wonder if they would make interesting characters in a story. Certainly there are some who I could base an entire book around. (Those folks are in MY family.) Sometimes, I like to pull out character traits from a few different people and mash them up into a completely new person. This person would most certainly have issues, lots and lots of issues.funny-crazy-people

Here’s the problem; I like to write stories that have a mix of horror, suspense, sci-fi, and humor. My in-laws gave me lots of humor, but not much of the other stuff (for which I am very grateful). Luckily, at least for my imagination, we got stranded in the airport for a while because of storms. Thus, I had lots of time in the airport to play with strangers. OK, that sounds a little odd. What I meant was I would pick a person at random and make up stories about them. Everybody does this, right?

For instance, when we finally boarded the plane, a middle-aged man caught my eye. He was about 5’ 10” and had brown hair. His hair was what made me first notice him. His meager strands of hair looked like they were made of wax. Although there wasn’t much of it, he had found a way to plaster down to his scalp in straight, chunky lines. The hair didn’t move and it had a dull sheen to it, not greasy, but almost tacky. He had a round doughboy face and wore little spectacles that were so tight, they cut into the tops of his cheeks and always seemed foggy. Maybe that is why he kept squinting. I call them spectacles instead of glasses because his eyewear had a sense of nostalgia to them; it just didn’t feel right calling them glasses. He wasn’t fat, but he wasn’t fit either. He was just sort of soft. His clothes didn’t help either. Beige corduroy pants, an off-brand beige polo-style shirt, and a faded old blue sweater didn’t do much for his image at all. I didn’t see his shoes because of my vantage point, but they were probably beige too.

Anyway, he had a Chick-fil-A bag with him. I assumed he picked up a chicken sandwich in the concourse before boarding. A lot of people pick up food to take on the plane with them to eat later, ever since the airlines started charging for cookies and chips. (Those bastards.)chick-fil-a

It wasn’t the bag that was unusual; it was what he did with it during the flight. The first time he opened the bag, I expected him to pull out a couple of those waffle fries that Chick-fil-A is so famous for, just for a taste. But he didn’t. He just looked into the bag for a few seconds, rolled it up, and set it on his lap with both hands on each side of it. I thought maybe he was not hungry yet. About 15 minutes later, he opened the bag again, looked inside, then reached his hand in, but didn’t immediately pull anything out. He fumbled for something and then stopped when he seemingly found what he was looking for, but he still didn’t pull it out. He just sort of fondled it inside the bag. OK, that was strange enough, but then he did it three more times! By now I am coming up with all kinds of stories about this guy and his bag. Perhaps he did have a Deluxe Spicy Chicken Sandwich and a large order of waffle fries in the white and red bag, but he could also have severed fingers in there too.

Finger Food

Finger Food (no fingers were truly harmed in the writing of this blog)

Yep, in my boredom, I came up with a story that this guy had killed and tortured some random soul back in the terminal restroom and taken his fingers as souvenirs. He hid the body in one of those giant trashcans the janitorial staff always leaves at the entrance to the restroom. I don’t know why they do that; maybe it gives the impression the restroom has been freshly cleaned. The dead guy, most likely a guy since it is a men’s restroom, won’t be found for hours because those cans sit there forever. Perhaps it will start leaking blood or producing a foul oder (eau de toilette of decomp) before someone will notice. Then I started thinking about it a little more; Doughboy could actually be a Dr. Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter want-to-be and is savoring the moment when he can eat the fingers with his sandwich. Fingers instead of fries? Hmmmm. He might be debating if he can sneak one into his mouth without being noticed. This must be sheer agony for him, being able to touch the savory little digits, but not being able to chow down.

I was having a lot of fun while Doughboy fiddled with his bag, but alas, I guess I will never truly know what was really in there, because once the plane landed and everyone shuffled out, I lost sight of him. Maybe he went straight to the men’s room, perhaps for an entrée to go with his fingerling appetizer.  (Sigh) Those are the breaks.

I am not going to ask you if you think this is normal or not. I am pretty sure it isn’t. Still, I can’t turn off my imagination. It just goes and goes, usually in dark and creepy directions. Yep, my imagination is the next best thing to reading books by Stephen King, Jim Butcher, Mark Tufo, and Jonathan Maberry. Perhaps reading these types of books perpetuates my somewhat sinister thought patterns, or maybe it is just natural.

One day, I will pen a book of short stories about the people I ‘enhance’. Maybe some of them might turn out to be actually true. (Cue the ominous music.)

Cat Wink

Cat butts are taking a beating this week, at least in my imagination.

Karen.

Cat Butts vs. Monsters and Demons

Blogging Style

If my blogging style had an avatar, it would look like this.

I think I have an unusual quirk to my blogging. It seems that I write a blog post, let it sit for a day before I proof read it, and then after I read it, I think of something else I would rather say. This blog post is no different. I think I am going to call this a sort of post-apocalyptic blogging style.

This is what happened to my pre-blog this week. My thoughts were down on paper and I was talking about kicking certain cat butts and how much progress I was making when it hit me. I have really come a long way from where I was. Sure, I am struggling with kicking certain cat butts right now, but I am doing it to make my life more fulfilling and chase after my ultimate dream (of finishing a novel). In my past, which seems like a very long time ago, I was not kicking anything. I was running from a monster.

The Monster

Not a fun guy

And no, I did not win that battle. I was just a child, and too ill-equipped to do proper battle. When the monster was done with me, I was left in a realm in between chaos and the world I once knew as a child. Although the monster could no longer get me, I was surrounded by demons, spawned by my own fear, hurt, anger and confusion. To say it was a prison is an understatement. I am not sure if Dante even had a circle of hell to describe the place I was in.

I’ve since learned that demons only have as much power as you give them, but it took a while to learn that. I also thought so many things were out of my control and I wasted an incredible amount of time outside of life. It’s tough to explain unless you have been to that forsaken place. I am not alone; many people have been imprisoned there, and many are still trapped in that netherworld by their demons. Some even die there.fallen angel

The story of my journey would probably make for a hell of a book. Someone else will have to write it though. I refuse to go back there, even in retrospect. I am putting as much distance between me and what once was as I can. I suppose that is why kicking my cat butts are so important. Conquering small things like cat butts puts distance between the demons and me. Failing at kicking a little cat butt is more than just procrastination or poor planning, I see it as a demon coming to reclaim the power I took back. So, when I write about being upset I didn’t find the time to practice my guitar, or outline a character in my story, it might seem trivial unless you know the back-story. Every day, I am trying to put distance between my demons and me. You know what they say, “There ain’t no rest for the wicked.”

I know this blog entry isn’t as light-hearted as some of the others. Sorry about that. I just felt I needed to add some perspective on my cat butt kicking. Things are not always what they seem to be; but, they can always get better.

Shadows of the past

Cat butts getting out of hand

Here’s to kicking more butts this week! Don’t let them get you.

 

Karen

Cat Butts of My Own Creation

Nope, I did not disappear. Perhaps you thought I forgot about my blog. That isn’t the case. I actually wrote a couple of entries, but didn’t post them because I didn’t think they were very interesting. Yep, I did a bad thing and critiqued myself to the point of obliteration. Nothing got posted and that is not supposed to happen. (A slap on the hand and a kick in the ass for me, from me.)

Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes

To make it up to you, I am going to recap the past few weeks very quickly.

Part One: I attended a phenomenal trade show for work, SCAA 2014. It was all about specialty coffee and the people who live for coffee. My biggest takeaway from the show wasn’t all the knowledge I gained about the industry; it was how passionate these people are about coffee. Their passion gave them the courage and belief in themselves to overcome tremendous obstacles in their lives. Learning about these people gave me a new perspective. Here I am, trying to write out a blog entry a week, and here they are, traveling half a world away to embrace their passion. It made me ask, “Where is my passion? Why don’t I have that kind of drive?” I will tell you, I think I let it get covered up by random cat butts, all of my own making. Saying that I am going to kick all those butts is easier said than done. I am truly having some challenges. Every time I kick one, I just invent more.

Cat Butt Mug

This is my kind of mug (www.zazzle.com)

Part Two of my hiatus from writing: I attended a second trade show, The National Restaurant Association (NRA), in Chicago. The show was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I ate so much food; I won’t need to eat until Christmas. NRA was different from the first show I attended a few weeks prior. This show was all about the innovation of stuff (food, beverages, services, equipment, etc.) for restaurants. All the exhibitors were showing their products, as were we. I met lots of people who were very excited about seeing everything; but I also noticed this show had more of a business atmosphere and not as much passion as the previous show. I am not saying that is bad; it was just different.

As I said, I am truly struggling with getting my life on track. In my first blog entry, I listed a few things I wanted to do, but felt like there were too many outside influences keeping me from them. I have come to realize that the only obstacle in my way is me. Yes, I am the biggest cat butt in my life and I need a kick in the ass. If I have learned anything these past few weeks, it is that people can accomplish amazing things if they want it badly enough and are willing to give it some effort. I’ve been working really hard at creating reasons why I can’t do something. Well, to hell with that. I am going to find reasons why I can do what I love.

This means starting with the small things as well as the big things. For instance, right now I am sitting here, writing this blog entry while fending off two cats that want my attention. (Yes, real cats). If I let Cally get her way, she will jump in my lap, making it impossible for me to type. I also know that if I don’t let her in my lap, she will get angry and shred something, like a shoe or the sofa. Oh well, I am still typing; let the clawing begin.

This isn't my cat, but it might as well be.

This isn’t my cat, but it might as well be.

I don’t know if this new approach will work yet, at least in my personal life. Setting goals and meeting deadlines at work is easy. I feel pretty confident I can do what needs to be done to satisfy my job responsibilities. Yet, when it comes to setting deadlines for my own personal goals, I am scared to death of failure. I think this is because I am embarking into the unknown. If I fail, I will have to face the fact that I am not who I think I am. It isn’t that I expect to be a success; although that would be nice. No, I am afraid that I will fail to finish. I am afraid I will fail to see my dream through to the end. That would mean that I don’t have what it takes to be a novelist. That is worse that rejection. I can take someone telling me my writing is crap. What I can’t take is starting this and not seeing it through to the end.

I’ve been here before, feeling the power and pull of a dream. As determined as I am now, I know self-doubt can suck the life out of passion like hungry orphaned calf can decimate a 1/2 gallon bottle of milk. How can I keep the passion alive, day in and day out? I think I need to change my routine up a bit.  One little thing is that I’ve started following some of my favorite authors through their social media outlets. Jonathan Maberry is a hoot and full of great inspiration. Hopefully, some of his enthusiasm and passion will infiltrate my butt filled mind.

Kicking my own butt this time,

Karen

Stray Cat Butts – Those Damn Stinkers

Stray cat butts happen.  It’s a fact.  Sometimes a challenge comes along I didn’t plan for.  Writing my novel, learning to play the guitar, and taking dramatic photos of the veggies I grow in my garden are objectives I’ve put down on paper and I am tackling them with all my butt-kicking strength.  Out of the blue, here comes an unexpected challenge, but worthy objective: The Spartan Race.  I wasn’t planning on it, nor had I even thought about it, but here it was.

If you are not familiar with the Spartan racing circuit, I will try to briefly explain.  It is a race full of challenging obstacles, like a rope climb, wall jumps, tire pulls, etc., and everything comes with mud, lots and lots of mud.  This isn’t something I’ve done before but my husband and a couple of friends were going to do it with me, so I was in.  As the race got closer, I started seeing some cat butts pop up.  My friends dropped out; they had really good reasons (not cat butts).  Like any person used to stumbling on fur covered ass and tail, I started thinking about some excuses to dropout too, but all I came up with were sad little cat butts.  Besides, my husband was still going . . . .until he told me he wasn’t.  So here is the cat butt conundrum: I could drop out; after all, I didn’t pay for it.  I volunteered my time during the race course build in return for free entry.  (My husband helped with this and we got free hoodies out of the deal.)  No one would really blame me if I dropped out, but I could not stomach the idea of a random cat butt getting in my way.   After all, I’m on a mission to tackle useless excuses that make me feel better about not finishing something I start, right?  Just because I was a little scared about running this Hari-kari race on my own wasn’t a good reason; it was just a cat butt.  And I kicked its ass.

I won’t lie; the race was tough and I didn’t complete every obstacle challenge.  (Each challenge a racer failed meant completing 30 burpees before continuing.)  However, I did complete more obstacles than I failed and I finished the race quite bruised and muddy, but I finished.  To top it off, I had a great time; I will most definitely do it again.

Spartan Race 2014. Karen kicking some cat butt

Spartan Race 2014. Karen kicking some cat butt

So “IN YOUR FACE RANDOM CAT BUTT!”  I beat you! I feel like saying, “Look kiddies, if I can do it, you can too.”  But that sounds goofy.  The fact is random cat butts are always going to pop up.  Some of them will be fatter and stinkier than others.  I might not always beat them either, but I am certainly going to try.  I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Another cat butt “done gone”!

Karen

Beyond the Cat Butt

In my very first post, I let you know that I am out to kick all the cat butts (excuses) in the way of my goals, but I didn’t say what my goals were.  Well, I have quite a few, but the biggest and most compelling is to start and finish the novel that has been living in my head for the past two years. I hope you weren’t expecting me to say I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro or swim across one of the great lakes. Yes, that would be a momentous goal and I am not saying I won’t attempt those challenges, but for some reason, writing my novel seems like a bigger challenge.

I have auxiliary goals as well that I started, but then let cat butts get in may way, and they are just sitting there…. Waiting.  Here is a sampling:

  1. Learn Italian. I bought the RosettaStone learning kit, but I haven’t even opened the box.  Fail!
  2. Learn to play the guitar. I bought a guitar and started taking lessons, but then took a break (because of a giant cat butt) and never started back again. Another Fail.
  3. Learn a new technique each day from Adobe Tutorials. I’ve bookmarked over a hundred and mastered three. Epic Fail.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Jsome1

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Jsome1

I could go on with a few more, but you get the idea. I let myself succumb to the cat butt fatigue.  The reason for this blog is bigger than just chronicling my struggle to kick some butts; it serves several purposes.  The most obvious reason is to get me used to writing on a regular basis again. As you can tell (if you have made it this far), I am pretty rusty. All the great writing elements that writers use to keep readers engaged are non-existent in my poor excuse for writing.  By blogging, I know I will get better. I will become more creative; and by the time I work my way up to actually penning my book, I hope to have the confidence and drive to finish.

This blogging method of improvement didn’t come to me by chance. I have to give a shout out to Kristen Lamb http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com  – the most impressive blogger I have ever run across.  Kristen, I’ve followed your blog for over a year now, and I am here in the blogosphere because of you.  Yes, it did take me a while; I let the cat butts get the best of me.

Here we go! One cat butt at a time, I am making my way out from under fur and cat ass.  This is no easy journey; it is taking me out of my routine of making excuses why I can’t do the things I enjoy.

Kicking another cat butt by making this post!

Karen

Cat Butts on Parade

Crazy Cat Butts Buts….. Yes, it is a strange title, but there is a reason behind it.  Today is the day I stop getting sidetracked by all the crazy cat butts in my life. I’m the sort of person who has grand ideas about the things I want to accomplish and start out with all the best intentions, but then I get side tracked by whatever.  I call “whatever” a cat butt. Why? Because it is always in the way – stinking, smelling, in-your-face, little puckering cat butt.

Today is the day I start kicking some cat butts out of my way and start doing what I need to do to live my life.  So this is the start – a blog. Believe it or not, it is on the list for many reasons. One reason is to keep me on track. Another is that it leads to some other bigger goals. If you hang with me, you will learn all about them and how I go about kicking some cat butts.

Right now, this blog is kind of bare bones, but it will get better.  Everyday, another cat butt is going to get kicked out of my face. So here it is, a line in the sand (no cat turds allowed).  This is the beginning.