Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Meow of Change

I’m on an emotional rollercoaster.

We now have a cat. This may not seem like emotional-rollercoaster material to most people, but it’s big to me. See, here’s the thing. I have never been a pet person. I think pets are great for other people. Pets are cute and all, and I understand that they make great companions. I don’t hate animals or anything—I just didn’t want one of my own. If your cat or dog comes to me, I’ll probably talk to it and pet it nicely, then wash my hands when I get home—I’m a bit OCD about animals.

In addition to the OCD thing, I didn’t grow up with pets. My family started adopting cats about the time I went off to college, so I did live with a cat for a couple of summers, but never had much to do with it and I wasn't the person who took care of it. And since reaching adulthood, I simply have never wanted a pet. And when I say “never wanted a pet,” what I mean is I NEVER WANTED A PET (note the all-caps. I’ve learned on the Internet that all-caps are GOOD FOR EMPHASIS). I didn’t want to care for a pet, didn’t feel any lack for not having a dog or cat around, didn’t want the responsibility. We did end up with a couple of pets despite my antipathy—we currently have a frog that my daughter brought home from biology class in high school, and a hermit crab that is very likely undead (the zombie apocalypse starts HERE!). But a cat or dog was completely out of the question. I’d tell my kids they could have all the pets they wanted—after they grew up and were living on their own. Alternatively, I’d say that the day everyone in my house learned to pick up after themselves was the day I’d consider a pet (boy, was I ever safe with that deal).

But my youngest daughter turned out to be a cat lover. In fact, she’s half cat herself, and known to meow in answer to questions. She has lots of stuffed cats. She reads about cats. She loves visiting the cats at the zoo (our nearest zoo has cats to help teach kids how to treat animals). But I was still adamant—I did NOT want a cat. We were NOT getting a cat.

Then my college daughter and her roommate found a stray kitten and took her in. No owner turned up to claim her in response to the “found cat” posters they hung around, nor could they find an indication that someone was seeking her. They took care of the kitten and grew to love her, even though they knew they couldn’t keep her long-term, not in student housing. As time to come home for Thanksgiving neared, they knew they needed to find something to do with her. When they hinted at bringing her home, I was NOT in favor. I did NOT want a cat.

But I was starting to feel bad--bad that there was this cute kitten they’d bonded with who was probably going to end up in the animal shelter. Bad that my youngest daughter would love a cat so much, but I was Anti-Pet.

Cat that needs a home . .  . daughter who wants a cat. Oh, the guilt. And my youngest daughter has been having a hard time with her sisters gone at college. She’s on the tail end of the family after two boys, the same position my youngest sister was in—and my youngest sister was the one with the cats, and she appreciated having them while she was the last child at home. Maybe a cat would help my youngest daughter and be a companion for her. And did I really think I’d be able to hold a hard “no cats!” line for her entire childhood when she loves cats and I was already starting to feel like an ogre for holding out? If we were ever going to get a cat, now was a good time while she was young, so the cat’s lifespan could coincide with my daughter’s time at home. And my college daughters kept assuring me that cats were very low-maintenance pets, etc.

I finally buckled. I knew for a while that I was going to say yes before I could finally get myself to tell this to my college daughter—it was just so daunting to me to come right out and agree. I’ve always been so adamantly anti-pet that this was a BIG change for me.

We’ve had her for a week now, and she seems to like living here. It’s been a bumpy emotional ride for me, though—turns out that my cat-loving youngest daughter is scared of the cat. She loves her in theory, but living with a cat is new to her, and since this cat is still a kitten (6-9 months old, the vet said), she can be very spazzy, which scares the crud out of my daughter, who likes to approach animals (quiet animals) on her own terms. Her fear left me feeling like "Aaaaarrgh, what have I done? We got the cat for YOU—heaven knows, I don’t actually want a cat for ME!" But already my daughter is doing better. She’s still very skittish, but I know it’s just a matter of time before she’s comfortable with the cat. And my younger son adores her, and I've even seen my oldest son pick her up--I have a sneaking suspicion that he likes her too. 

I know it's just a matter of time before I'm comfortable too. I will get used to her, and grow to love her. Of course I hold her, and pet her, and feed her, but it’ll take me some time to really adjust. If you're someone who's comfortable with pets, you're probably wondering how I could possibly be so freaked out over a sweet little cat. It's hard to explain--it's just a huge psychological shift for me. A change. I'm not good with change, but I'll get there eventually. Who knew I would ever agree to a pet? What's next? Taking up skydiving?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Awesome Book and a Great Day to Buy

When I was a brand-new author, the very first review of my first book came from an author named Robison Wells. I hadn't met Rob at the time and didn't know him at all, and man, it was exciting to see that he'd enjoyed my book. As I got to know Rob, I found there were even more reasons to like him than his great taste in literature :) Rob is a talented author, witty, funny, extremely smart, and a very nice guy. He's done a tremendous amount to help other authors and is the founder of the Whitney Awards. When Rob signed a book deal with Harper Teen for his YA sci fi novel Variant, I was thrilled for him. Recently, Variant was named to Publisher's Weekly list of the Best Books of 2011, which is INCREDIBLE! It's a fantastic book--smoothly written, rapidly and flawlessly paced, fresh, intriguing, exciting, and with a twist that will knock your socks off. I can't wait for the sequel.

But Rob's had a tough time lately. He's dealing with severe panic disorder, which has led to his being laid off from his job. Author Larry Correia has started a Book Bomb to help Rob and his young family at this time of need, and many of Rob's friends are joining in. Author Luisa Perkins tells more about the Book Bomb here, and is running a contest with a $50 Amazon gift card and copies of her cookbook, Comfortably Yum, as prizes. If you're thinking of purchasing Variant, for yourself or as a Christmas or birthday gift, please consider buying it TODAY and helping push Variant up the Amazon rankings to get more exposure for Rob's book. I'll be participating and here's hoping for an awesome day for Rob and for Variant!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween and Other Spooky Fun

We had a lot of fun trick-or-treating last night. The weather was perfect--in the 70s--and it was great being out in the neighborhood with friendly neighbors handing out candy and glowing pumpkins and all the Halloweenishness of the evening. My daughter got so much candy that she tired of carrying her bag and enlisted my help, which I feel gives me proprietary rights over her candy. 

I was a trick-or-treating pro in my day; some of my happiest childhood memories are of trick-or-treating with my older sister. Part of me still wants to be that kid—to experience the exquisite excitement of Halloween day as I waited for evening to arrive, the thrill of racing from house to house with my sister, then going home to dump out our candy and sort it into piles by candy type (that was always an important part of the evening). While I was out with my kids last night, I texted my sister, saying I wished she were there. We could have gathered twice as much candy as my kids; we're just that good. Of course, if we'd gathered twice as much candy as my kids acquired last night, we would have needed hiking backpacks or possibly a pickup truck to carry it all; people give out a lot more candy than they did when we were kids. 

The kids’ costumes this year were very easy, which was nice, and I only had two kids to outfit. My older son didn't need a costume, and my two older daughters are off at college, so they're on their own if they want to get festive. I asked my second daughter if she was going to party for Halloween and she said yes, if by party I meant "take a chem midterm." Bummer. But they did have fun: they had a dinner of Bloody Bones soup (Lipton noodle soup mixed with tomato juice), watched “Disturbia,” and displayed a very artistic pumpkin they and a roommate had carved with the likeness of BYU president Cecil Samuelson. Apparently, we need to kick our pumpkin carving up a notch: we just made circles and triangles and such here at home.

My youngest daughter dressed as a cat (I ordered the costume from Amazon, so very easy. I like easy, especially because I don’t like sewing and have few skills in that direction). My younger son, Techno-Boy, was trickier. He's very picky when it comes to costumes. I thought he’d be great as a mad scientist, but he didn’t like that idea. I took him to the costume store, and the conversation went much like this:

Me: "How about a ninja?"
Him: "No."
Me: "How about a pirate?"
Him: "No." 
Me: "How about a vampire?"
Him: "No."

And so on. He wasn't giving me anything to work with (you can't do much with a flat "no") and I got frustrated and said let's go home and you make a list of some ideas, because this is a waste of time. On the ride home, I made a suggestion and--hooray!--he latched on to it, and the costume problem was solved. Forget the zombies and Grim Reapers; he decided to go as something truly terrifying—an IRS agent. He wore a suit and tie and carried a bag labeled “Taxes.” I asked him if he wanted my sister to design a badge for him, a suggestion that offended him. “Do you know who you’re dealing with?” he asked, and designed himself a badge using the IRS logo that he found online. 

And now Halloween is over and we have a great deal of candy in the house. This will ensure that my motivation to exercise stays high, so I can keep sampling it. Mmm . . . Halloween candy. You know what's awesome? The smell of Halloween candy all mixed together. That's a uniquely Halloween smell. Just take a sniff of your kids' candy bags. 

In other spooky-related news, Rearview Mirror has received some great reviews. I’m very excited about that. Here are some links: 

Tristan at Based on a True Story

Lori at Books are My Friends

Donna at Weaving a Tale or Two

Julie at Julie Coulter Bellon (LDS Writer Mom)

Thank you for the reviews!