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© B. L. Bierley 2012
The Writing Addict
Pleased to meet you, reader. I am honored to have the opportunity to share my blog with you. In my initial effort, I wanted to begin with general introductions. You will understand my stories better with a little background. I decided to devise a character outline of the members of my family so that you could see us as we exist in the wild. Let’s begin.
I’m Cathy. That is not my real name. I used that name because if I were a cartoon or comic strip character, she’s the one I would most resemble. I am very much like her—a chubby, somewhat neurotic, working woman. Yes, I have an actual day job. I work so that my kids can eat, my husband and I can afford to drive cars and own a house, and so that occasionally we can enjoy the finer things in life like nicer clothes and all manner of i-devices! Working also helps me be able to afford paper and computers to feed my writing habit. Like Cathy, I eat the wrong things and suffer weight gain, anxiety and guilt afterward. But there is where the comparison ends. I’m not addicted to cookies.
At the roots I am a writer (said in the same manner an addict might say, “Hi, my name is Cathy, and I’m a crack addict. It’s been three minutes since I last smoked crack.”). Writing really is an addiction for me. I write a lot! I write mostly novels and humorous articles about life that I use to entertain my friends. In fact most of my fans are friends. My critics, or as I refer to them—my family, are brutally honest, but still surprisingly in my corner. According to both factions my novels are entertaining. I have taken a crack at a few areas of fiction (YA, Contemporary Adult, Historical Romance, and even Erotica) and even one feeble attempt at a memoir. I’ve gotten plenty of feedback, most of it positive, from my loyal devotees no matter which genre they sample. But so far I’ve yet to find an agent or an editor willing to give me a chance. Therefore, I’ve decided to try blogging. That way I can expect a more objective reaction to my work. And if I really suck, strangers reading my blog will have less scruple in telling me so.
I am not without hope, though. I continue to work and search for an agent. I’ve not yet resorted to calling all my extended family and begging friends of friends to help me. I’m still going the traditional route of trying to let my work speak for itself. So far, no one has responded to my noise. But, again, I continue to try. I keep writing and sending my queries so that hopefully someday someone will give one of my babies a chance at becoming a bestseller. For now, let’s move on to the rest of the introductions.
My husband is a loveable tyrant. I’d call him Hagar (as in Hagar the Horrible), except he’s much better looking than an overweight cartoon Viking. I could call him Dagwood (Blondie’s husband—because of his love of golf) or Andy (as in Andy Capp—because he loves to drink beer with his buddies). But these characters don’t match well enough to suit my vision of the man I love. No one cartoon character could do him justice. He’s a methodical, practical, hard-working individual who probably doesn’t know exactly why he loves his hot-mess, crazy wife. So I’ll call him Capricorn- Cap for short. That fits him perfectly! He’s the textbook example of a Capricorn male. He plans ahead. He’s cautious, loyal, and set in his ways, or as I refer to that trait, stubborn.
Cap is a bit of a perfectionist. But after thirteen years with me and the kids he's compromised more than many men could have with a less-than-perfectionist spouse. I can't say whether it's lucky or unlucky for him that his wife is a passive-aggressive Aries. Despite our differences, Cap and I are meant to be together. It was pretty clear to us within days of meeting that we would be very right as a couple. We keep the lines of communication open. I can't speak for him, but as for me-- there's not another man breathing who gets me the way he does. Sure, I might want to strangle him in his sleep now and again, but I doubt that's one sided.
Cap and I have two children. The eldest is actually my daughter from a previous union, a little thing we refer to as my “starter marriage”. Neither my ex-husband (let’s call him Grease) nor I was prepared for an actual marriage. Our split ended amicably, and we share custody of our daughter. In keeping with my comic strip/cartoon characterizations I will refer to my beautiful oldest child as DaVelma. This is because she is like both Daphne- very attractive, a little ditsy but overall a good egg and Velma–crafty, wicked-smart, and too intuitive for her own safety sometimes. DaVelma is a teenager. Her current purpose in life is being social. She uses her intellect and beguiling charm in a never-ending attempt at getting what she wants. She has an alter-ego I like to call “Moody Jetson” due to the fact that her mood swings in an average PMS cycle are so powerful they could launch her into a low-earth orbital.
When she’s not frustrating me to the point of a nervous breakdown, I admire her tenacity and spirit. She and Cap do often butt heads—mostly because they’re alike in some ways but different in others that are more encroaching upon one another. DaVelma is a free-spirited Gemini, so her liassez faire attitude toward life often rubs us all the wrong way. But I know, deep down, she’s not as fickle and unconcerned as she sometimes makes herself appear.
Our son is Ziggy through and through. He’s shy and introverted, with moments of prophetic clarity and wit that shine out during unexpected episodes. He’s adorably odd and a little secretive, unless he’s feeling troubled or over-stimulated. Then he’s like a hedgehog—prickly and hitting every nerve you’ve got. Ziggy is my creative, artistic child. He draws free-hand cartoons of his own creation for fun. He enjoys life mostly by force. Ziggy is a hermit. He's completely atypical of my side of the family in that he never wants to leave the house. It doesn't even compute with my sisters and mom that he prefers not to go out shopping! If there's a possibility he could stay at home instead he does. Getting him out of the house is like sending a bill through the legislature—you never know exactly what the outcome will be.
Now, I realize my descriptions of my loved ones might seem cold and critical. But truly, I am neither. I am a fierce mama bear. I love my family and would stand up for or with any of them in a second if they needed me. They rate right up there with breathing with me. So I am the only person I will allow to refer to their quirky characters in such a way. Anyhow, those are the human members of my family.
Like many American households, we have pets that are a part of our family dynamic. Some we purposefully acquired. Others we were somehow tricked or bamboozled into taking in. I’ll start with the dog. Our dog is a rare breed that turns heads whenever we venture out with him into the public eye. He always provokes the question, “What kind of dog is that?” We tell them the truth. He’s a Vizsla. And people respond with the same blank stare or puzzled expression as when they first saw him. I won’t bore you with a breed description, rather, I will tell you about our Vizsla. I will give him a name that sums up the type of love and devotion we receive from our dog on a daily basis. Velcro is a neurotic-to-the-point-of-obsessive-compulsion dog. Actually, you might call him a stalker. He is devoted to his humans. His preferred human is undoubtedly Cap, but he’ll take me, Ziggy or DaVelma (in that order) whenever his favorite is not available. Sure he loves the kids, but his love is proportional to their willingness to play with or pet him.
Velcro was a costly pet. Therefore he is like royalty in our household. He’s slightly demanding of our collective attention like any monarch, but he’s really more of a figurehead with annoying tendencies that work toward getting his desires met promptly. And he prefers to follow, rather than lead—follows us to the bathroom, the laundry room, the kitchen, basically everywhere. He’s never outside of fingertip range.
Velcro is extremely fussy when it’s time for bed. The minute I tell Ziggy to brush his teeth, Velcro is there, following us or staring at Cap or me as if to say, “I know it’s time for bed. And you, fair humans, are my royal mattress testers. Whenever you finish your royal bedtime duties, you will get upon the mattress and make sure it is soft enough for me. Now, I am ready to go to bed. That is all!” He doesn’t sleep with us, though. That is where we draw the line. Cap is a light sleeper who finds it difficult to get comfortable with a fifty-plus pound canine lying flush with his back, hip or stomach—whichever is toward the middle of the bed where Velcro occupies the mattress during his “bed” time. When Velcro goes to bed himself, his lordship has a very nice bed for sleeping: a pet bed with a mattress made from chopped remnants of memory foam which is further encased in an über-soft fleece cover and laid across another double-layer of memory foam recycled from our attempt at getting another year out of our tired, king-sized mattress.
In a way, Velcro’s sense of royal entitlement is valid. He has a throne—our old recliner that belonged to Cap before he got his new Lazy-Boy. He has a food taster and whipping boy who is often blamed for his misdeeds—the cat (you’ll hear about him next). And he has his loyal subjects—his toys and his humans, who pamper him while he lavishes his undying love upon them.
The cat, whom I’m calling Scooby for reasons I’ll defend in a moment, loves no one. I’m calling him Scooby because it’s obvious to me that Scooby Doo should have been drawn as a cat. Observe (both in our cat and his cartoon namesake) how he’s unavailable unless there’s something in it for him He hides at the first sign of trouble or danger and comes running at the first whiff of food. He’s attuned to one member of his group or family more than the rest, yet he’s dependent on them all if he feels his needs aren’t met by his chosen human. So I stand by my name selection. Our Scooby is much like any other cat. He tolerates me above the others, probably because I’m the only human in the house who will respond to him. I know Scooby’s needs best because he and I both speak the language of neediness. For example, if his litter needs scooping he’ll give a long, plaintive meow that sounds like he’s in pain. He’ll give this signal every ten minutes until he gets what he wants. Apparently he’s appalled by his own “business” because this level of complaint begins after the second bit of “business” goes in his box and doesn’t quit until the litter is scooped out or changed.
Scooby’s hunger report is different. He has a small metal food bowl that is kept in the laundry room, making it out of reach for Velcro. When he can see even a fraction of the bottom of his food bowl, even if there is plenty of food around the millimeter of reflection he can see there, he becomes a complete pest—at bedtime. As Cap and I are drifting off to sleep, Scooby starts his flash-mob demonstrations which include pouncing on my feet and pacing up and down from my legs to my chest and back again until I eventually get up. Only after I stumble out of bed, stub my toe on the end table, trip over one or more of Velcro’s ever-present toys in my quest to refill the dish according to Scooby’s standards am I allowed to fall asleep. Scooby then thanks me by hacking up a portion of the food he’s just eaten in his haste to show how famished he was! And where does he put his offering? Right in the path I must take in the morning when I awake out of sorts from my lack of sleep and schlep into the bathroom. Despite this generosity, I am still the only person in the house that even remotely likes Scooby. But DaVelma and Scooby are the most antagonistic pair in the house. They have a true love-hate relationship. DaVelma hates Scooby, and Scooby loves to annoy her by opening her closed bedroom door, molesting her favorite hat, and stealing her makeup brushes and denuding them of bristles—just a few of the many services he provides! It wouldn’t be Saturday if DaVelma weren’t shouting after him and threatening to drop kick his hairy butt all the way to the trampoline in the backyard.
We have, on occasion, a few lesser known, short-term pets. I call them “Scooby Snacks” since Scooby is usually the one member of the household who has the greatest potential to make their existence short-lived. Our current ones, collectively called “Scooby Snack D”, are a pair of fiddler crabs that Ziggy brought home just before this past Christmas. We’re still not certain exactly how we got roped into ownership. We originally thought they were a science experiment Ziggy was supposed to care for in order to get a science grade. It’s April now. Cap asks weekly when Ziggy is supposed to turn them in. I’ve given up the illusion that they were never supposed go back. My theory is that Ms. “Gifted Teaching Methods” didn’t want the guilt of their deaths on her conscience, so she sent the little devils home for the kids to fail to provide adequate care. Then their deaths would be a new lesson for mothers and fathers to teach their children about the circle of life. Either that or explain upon their mysterious disappearances that the tooth fairy took them with her because she got lonely.
Fortunately (depending on how you spin that) I am rather skilled at keeping weird, unwanted pets alive far into their relative senior citizenship. Take Scooby Snack C for example. When Ziggy was in first grade, we received as a parting gift a female guppy. She arrived home in Ziggy’s backpack in a clear solo cup with a lid—and nothing else. After fifty bucks to buy gravel and a lighted aquarium complete with a bubbler so that the water would be re-oxygenated per her highness’s needs, Queen Sheba stayed on my kitchen counter until Ziggy began fourth grade this year. She passed away at the ripe age of two and a half years old give or take a month. For those of you who are keeping up, that’s about six months longer than the average lone guppy life-span.
Anyway, now we have 2 crabs a male and a female. I blame the school’s new outdoor classroom and “Go Green and Support the Environment” mentality for me having to support all these extra creatures at my own expense. I spent nearly eighty dollars total on a ten-gallon aquarium and cover (sold separately), sand, non-chlorinated water, salt, a meter to tell me how salty the water is—because freshwater crabs prefer a “brackish” environment, and a plastic castle. I was moved to go out and buy extra clips for the aquarium cover after Scooby turned the travel container upside down in his attempt to get the “sushi” out of the box while we were gone to purchase the supplies. My only consolation is that even though we have a mating pair, fiddler crabs require fourteen inch deep sand in order to get busy and make babies. Our aquarium has barely five inches of sand at the deepest point as a desperate form of birth control.
My compassionate son isn’t the only cause for Scooby Snacks. DaVelma brought home her share over the years, though most were from family members. The first was pre-Scooby, a blue Chinese Fighting Beta who wouldn’t eat. After trying numerous and expensive types of specialty fish foods and having the tragic little fish become so thin and frail as to be ghastly to watch, we took him to the vet (yes, forty dollars for an office charge for a frigging fish). The vet said that it was likely that the fish was overbred, causing a tumor to grow in its stomach as an appetite suppressant. We watched that poor fish deteriorate slowly until it finally wasted away and died. I hoped that traumatic experience would end DaVelma’s want of a small pet. It did until we got Scooby.
Since his arrival, we’ve owned a parakeet—Scooby Snack A, who died of a heart attack as a result of one of Scooby’s surprise attacks on his cage, and a hamster—Scooby Snack B, who was found dead one afternoon under suspicious circumstances. Her cage was lying on its side in DaVelma’s closet. The food bowl was empty, no water was in the water bottle, and the cage was slightly opened by some sort of force either from a fall or the repeated poundings of paws. DaVelma and Velcro might have been accessories to the murder since the cause of death was either starvation, old age—the hamster was passed down from a previous owner who was no longer capable of having a hamster, or like Scooby Snack A—acute myocardial infarction. Since the hamster had no known family, the case was closed after a brief investigation.
That is my nuclear family folks. We’re not dysfunctional, despite all possible evidence to the contrary. In fact we are all pretty fond of one another, warts and all. I hope you’ll come back and check out my future blogs, or as I like to call them—MY DAILY FIX. After all, what’s an addict without someone to support and enable their addiction?