Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunny days and cow patties

Ok, so I got sidetracked. Is anybody shocked?

After my last post, I got a call from H Texas Magazine for a second interview. Yes, that was the interview I went on in March where I was pretty much dismissed out of hand.

Or was I?

My second interview was Thursday morning. I think it went well, but who can tell? Whether I get the job or not, it was pretty cool to get a call back. Laurette, the Editor-in-Chief, said she would be making her decision soon, maybe even during her flight to Sonoma that afternoon. She sent an e-mail over the weekend with an article attached for me to edit as a final follow-up. I did my best and sent it back. Stay tuned, we'll see what happens.

On my way back from the interview, Dalt's brother Paul called. We had lunch and then I went with him to go check on a cow that might be sick or dead. I ran home and put on some old jeans and work boots (a gift from Dalt), and off we went on our cow adventure.

It was a little after twelve and the sky was clear and bright, but not too hot. We bumped our way across a rutted pasture in Paul's truck until we found the cow laying on her side. At first we thought she was dead, but then her front leg moved and she tried to raise her head.

She was in the middle of a green field on the other side of a barbed wire fence. We couldn't tell, but it looked like she might be in trouble trying to have a calf. Paul didn't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no calves, but he did know a guy named Clifton who lived nearby and might be able to help. He couldn't reach him on the phone, so we drove over and told him and his wife, Cathy, where the cow was and the shape we thought she was in. They said they'd meet us there.

We went back to the pasture and this time drove down and around the bottom gate so we could get right up to where the cow was. I loved the ride. Most respectable people were stuck inside an office (or school), and there we were in the middle of a beautiful afternoon, blowing across the prairie in a pick-up truck.

We pulled up as close to her as we could without scaring her, and got out to see what we were dealing with. She was a blonde cow, but her belly and torso were so covered in black flies she looked spotted. She tossed her head and gave her legs a weak kick, but couldn't get up. Paul walked around to her rear end to see if there was any discharge, but there was only a pile of feces where her bowels had let go. He pulled back her mouth to see her teeth, but he couldn't see any so he thought she might just be old and ready to die.

Clifton and Cathy got there and it was decided that we would go get the tractor to try to get her up on her feet.

Note: The owner of the cattle, the land, and the tractor is a man named G.H. - Paul just helps him out every once in a while. He was in Houston that day and thought the cow might be worth trying to save; Paul thought the cow needed to be put out of her misery.

We went back to G.H.'s, got the tractor and met Clifton on the way back going to get his trailer for us to load her on so they could take her to the vet. Paul was driving the tractor and I followed him in the truck. The tractor is about ten to twelve feet tall with wheels that look like they could climb Kilimanjaro.

Two hours later I had driven the truck across that bumpy pasture myself (without getting it stuck), opened cattleguard gates and chained them back, donned work gloves to help load a sick cow onto a trailer, sweated in the sun and rode high and mighty on that big ol' tractor across a few ditches and a whole lot of open field. It felt good.

On Saturday, Dalton and I worked in my yard for hours. I mowed and he wielded the weedeater, and between the two of us my yard looks better than it has since I moved in. It was another bright sunny day, another day spent doing honest, hard work that yielded a tangible result.

The thing is, on both of those days I kept expecting Paul or Dalton to tell me I was doing it wrong, to make fun of me for going too slow or being too stupid. I fought my fear of reprimand and gave it all a hundred percent, even though inside I felt like an inept twelve year-old all over again. I kept seeing my dad's disappointed, disgusted-with-me-face. I kept hearing his sarcastic, drunk voice. I just knew it was coming.

But it didn't. They were just good days with good people, where the best I could do was good enough.

Nice, huh?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pretty to think

I am almost through editing the previously mentioned romance. My goal is to finish it by the end of this week and to send a query letter to Harlequin by next Monday.

Dalt and I ran into a friend of his at Walmart on Sunday and when she asked me what I do, I had one of those spectacular deer-in-the-headlights moments.

"Well, I'm a writer. But I don't have a job right now, so I'm working on a book."

"A Harlequin Romance," Dalt added proudly.

Then it came - that look people get when you tell them you're a writer. The subtle eye flicker, the polite smile as they file you under the "ridiculous loser" category. The "Harlequin Romance" tidbit provoked an extra ill-concealed eye roll.

Here's the thing - I have decided that the reason I'm backed into this wall of unemployment is so that I will finally be forced into doing what I really want to do, write books.

Yes, I've been working for the past quarter of a century at jobs I don't really like just to make money, instead of biting the bullet and doing what I really want to do. Now I have the opportunity to give it a go. And still, I'm working on a cheesy romance novel because I think it will be the best way to make money, faster.

But this is progress, isn't it? Instead of working at low paying jobs I don't like, I'm working on a book I don't really like.

And tomorrow, I'll get hit by a bus and none of it will matter anyway.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It always comes down to selling, doesn't it?

My yard looks fantastic. My house is relatively clean. The laundry is caught up. And I still don't have a job.

There are those who say this is because it is the only way I can be backed into finishing a book. Others tell me I'm fantastic and something big will come my way. I say - help, I need money.

So, for those of you who believe in me - here's your opportunity to support your position. Become a charter member of Keep Cas

For the low, low price of whatever-you-can-afford, you can put your money where your mouth is and contribute to my writing future. Benefits include a mention in the acknowledgments portion of my first best-selling novel, a daily prayer, and complimentary car wash. Members will also get a shout-out from the stage when I receive my Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, your choice of personal Haiku, limerick or sonnet, and an autographed DVD copy of my Barbara Walters interview.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

In the twinkle of an eye

Still no job.

I've pulled out an old manuscript I worked on during my writer's group days to edit and re-write. It's not fantastic, but it's the closest thing I have to being finished and I can submit it to Harlequin or something, just to try to get some money coming in.

It's kind of funny that I'm always talking about walking by faith, and here I am. Wallowing in depression 'cause I can't see the other side of this mess.

Savannah had a nice birthday Saturday. She turned eight yesterday, but my family came up from Houston and spent the weekend with us, so we had her party on the 5th. It was kind of surreal. It feels like five minutes ago I found out I was pregnant with her, I blinked, and now she's eight.

I've decided to give up blinking.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sleepless nights

You know, generally speaking, I love dogs. They're cute and supportive, non-judgmental and all that stuff. But in my neighborhood, there is a herd of insomniac, barking dogs that I would love to see meet their end.

Oh, they're perfectly quiet during the day. You never hear a peep out of them. The early evenings are relatively peaceful. It's the midnight hour when they start, and only if I'm having a great dream.

The other night I woke up suddenly out of a sound sleep. It seemed like a noise woke me up, but the room was completely silent. Kind of eerie. I laid there for a minute and tried to figure out what the sound had been. Had an electric transformer blown? Was it a rat the size of a labrador? Did someone break into the house? Does it make me a bad mom if I choose to roll over and go back to sleep?

I ended up not going back to sleep. Instead I started thinking about things I can't do anything about, bills I can't pay, friends I don't see anymore, and what a laughing stock I must be to people who ultimately don't matter.

My eyes closed about thirty minutes before the alarm went off, then I got up to take care of the people who do matter. I turned on the light inside my closet and found what had made the noise the night before.

The gift bag that held Nathan's funeral cards and death certificates had fallen off the top shelf.