Viva La Clark!

If you haven’t met Clark, you’re missing out. This interview is my attempt to get as much of the full experience of Clark online as possible. She really is a personality and has adjusted well to inserting herself into our daily activities. For example, just the other day-

Clark: Are you ever going to start my interview?

BH: Yes, Clarkinzie. Just a second. As I was saying, just the other day she hopped from chair to chair –

Clark: The only good thing about this interview so far is you’re sitting down in one place and I can sit on you.

BH: Fine. I’ll ask questions. You answer.

Clark: If I feel like it.

BH: Ahem. How did you first join our family?

Clark: Well, really, if you remember accurately, it was more about you people joining my family. But I only invited you because the man you call Husband offered me bits of muffin on the street.

BH: You’re an indoor cat! What were you doing on the street?!

Clark: Don’t interrupt me. But I’ll humor you. At the time, if you recall, I was enjoying the freedom of napping on the sunny pavement whenever the fancy struck. As I was saying so eloquently before, I invited you into my family. There were conditions, if you recall. Would you like me to recount them?

BH: Can I stop you?

Clark: The basic requirement was that you feed me good things. The muffins disappeared, and I will go on a sleep strike if you don’t bring them back. Another requirement was that you allow me to sleep on your heads. There was a  hiccup in your end of the bargain when that ghastly creature [ed. darling Z] was born and my whole world crumbled around me [ed. we all had to make adjustments]. Now, however, I’ve reclaimed my place at your faces, at least when that thing [little Z] isn’t kicking us all out of the Family Bed (Of Pain). There are further requirements, but listing them all would cause the world’s internet system to crash from all the information.

BH: Tell me about your relationship with fruit snack wrappers.

Clark: They crinkle. They roll. They bounce. They skid across the hardwood floor and collect all those dust bunnies you’re too lazy to clean up [ed. that, despite all of your hard work, appear out of nowhere]. What’s not to love?

BH: How do you really feel about your dry cat food?

Clark: If the huge amount left in the bottom of the bowl every day is any indication at all, you wouldn’t need to ask that question. Although it is organic because you’re extremely paranoid after the pet food (and rightly so – we don’t want to take any risks with my health) scare of 2008, it still tastes like _____ [ed. This is a PG-13 rated website].

BH: What’s your favorite part of the day?

Clark: It’s a tie between the canned chicken coming out of the refrigerator, and when that noisy little cat-chaser [ed. spirited munchkin] takes her nap.

BH: What’s your favorite place?

Clark: Since you so cruelly refuse to allow me outdoors and into the street where I may nap [ed. and risk getting run over], [ed. and kill songbirds], I have to satisfy myself with sleeping on any part of your body that is still for at least one minute. If the blanket comes out, I am certain of victory. If you’re sitting at the table eating, or at this infernal computer typing, certain victory again. Barring a spot on an actual slave [ed. human], I will often curl up in the papasan chair or in the south-facing bay window in the bathroom.

BH: Thank you, Clark, for agreeing to this interview. To our studio audience, if you’d like more Clark, you can view a previous post: The Unsung Clarkie Underfoot. Clark, is there anything else you’d like to say?

Clark: It’s time for you to stop typing so you can pet me.

The Unsung Clarkie Underfoot

A Wednesday Momming Around Entry


Don’t sit down. Especially with a blanket and a book or notebook. This cat has Couch Radar and she knows when your lap is easy game. Even the dinner table and the desk are fair hunting grounds for her. Your lap is her prey and she is a skilled huntress.

Clarkie (Clark) is my other baby, and she will never allow herself to be forgotten (you’ll feel the prick of her paw on your face in the morning, or trip over her as you prepare breakfast). Since Z made her screaming way into our lives, though, Clarkie has been shuffled off to the side in a classic case of Forgotten Older Sibling. Has anyone read Socks by Beverly Cleary? Because that’s what I think of sometimes with Clark, and it makes me very sad.

We feel bad for her, especially now that Z is on the move. It used to be that we’d drag a toy mouse on a stick over the bed for her to chase, or toss paper balls around the house. Now Z runs after Clark, an old paper ball held in her sticky, outstretched hand. Screaming. And Clarkie just trots in the other direction. Quickly. I can see a martyred expression on Clark’s face. I think she’s grateful that she is unable to have children, and a little resentful that we did.

Everything Zen in the Tibetan Singing Bowl

Now that Z takes one long nap instead of three excruciatingly short ones, Clark has found my lap again. As I type this she’s tucked into  my sweatshirt, twitching her ear occasionally, but I can tell she’s happy. Ah yes, there’s a purr.

And yeah, she’s obnoxious sometimes. When it was especially difficult to get Z down for her nap for awhile, Clark would wander into Z’s room, meowing loudly. It was like she had Spidey (Kitty) Sense that Z’s eyes were closing, and she just had to foil my hard work. Punishment for spawning. I could read the vengeance in Clarkie’s eyes.

Clarkie is infuriating in some ways, and we have to be, you know, responsible for her, and clean up her poop and make sure she’s fed. But she’s soft, and cute, and so full of love and joy, and she makes us laugh. So really, she isn’t that different from Z.

*   *   *

Writing update:
No longer rushing to finish revisions. These things take time, and I don’t want to ruin chances with this Dream Agent by sending anything less than my very very best.

Mood Enhancers that Do Not Come in Capsule Form

1. ice cream–the ultimate comfort food

2. learning that my mother is bffs with an editor at a big-time publishing company (I can’t speak from experience here, but I know this would cheer me up)

3. Clarkie, my cat

4. Sarah Dessen’s novels This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever

5. Pride and Prejudice on film (the BBC version…but when do I have 5 spare hours?) OR, you know, the book is okay, too

6. movie Blue Crush (I love sporty girl movies–the inspiration comes in handy for after I indulge in #1 above)

7. Louise Rennison’s book Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging

8.  movie Bend It Like Beckham (see #6 above)

9. a walk (again necessary to counteract negative effects of #1)

10. watching Z dance

11. an empty kitchen sink–no dirty dishes!

12. reading Abridged Scripts from The Editing Room

13. perusing paint swatches (see post Baby, Let’s Paint the Town Coral Expression)

14. gardening (unless there are slugs)

15. circling everything I want in the IKEA catalog

16. NAPS–mine and Z’s

17. chocolate never hurts

18. new pens and/or new diary books

19. emails from the library telling me a book I’ve been waiting for has arrived

20. having prettily-painted toenails

There are so, so many more, but rather than list them all, I think I’ll head out and enjoy some of them.

Two Rules of Storytelling

I posted a version of this elsewhere long ago, but the topic warrants more attention. I am the Public, and this is my Outcry.

1) Do not leave the story open-ended. I didn’t sign up to read this book or watch this show so that I can figure out my own ending. It is not a “choose your own adventure” book. Issues must be resolved, and if you leave something out, unfinished, I will notice. Now, if the heroine walks out into the ocean to kill herself & you stop there (The Awakening?), that’s fine; I can piece that together. But if sharks start circling just as she spots a sailboat with her lover on it…not cool. Some writers think this is an artistic option to ending a story, but I usually feel cheated. I have too much imagination for open-ended endings–I come up with too many ideas and then can’t choose. I want to know What Really Happens. I find that far too many YA novels leave off an ending in the hopes that a cliffhanger will make eager readers line up outside of bookstores the night before the sequel’s release. I will not be in those lines, and I will definitely not purchase another book in the series.

2) Never kill the dog. Examples: Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, Benji, and I Am Legend. All stories or movies that I never want to think about again. I watched a really terrible Sylvester Stallone movie from the mid-nineties (no, I don’t know why I watched this). All these people die in this tunnel disaster, and it looks for awhile as if the dog dies too. Then the dog shows up, alive! So even though the acting and plot left much to be desired, the dog lived and I would re-watch this movie any day over seeing I Am Legend again. If there’s a dog, and it lives, sign me up. If the dog dies, I want my money back. Now. And a memory erase procedure, a la Eternal Sunshine Etc., so I don’t have to think about it. This rule also applies to cats, but thankfully I can only think of one piece of literature to support it–some Poe story about midway through a collection I own. I stopped reading through the collection at that point. (Although I must point out on a tangent that “The Cask of Amontillado” is one of my favorite stories.)