February 9th, 2019


LJ Idol Prize Fight: "A Fresh Perspective"

A Fresh Perspective
idol prize fight | week 15 | 1000 words


Marty Bartlett wanted to be a writer. In other words, he had ideas he wanted to foist off on the general public.

For money.

He was not alone—many people shared the same dream. In fact, the Internet was full of books and online courses with titles like, "Novel-Writing By Numbers," "Financial Backing: Fleecing Your Friends And Family," and "Oh, So You Really Think You're All That?"

Marty, who had tried many of those books and courses himself, was convinced he had what it took to achieve greatness! There was just a small problem in that… well, he hadn't managed to pull it off yet.

He had the time to devote to writing, and he had all sorts of ideas, he was sure of it. But no matter what he did, none of them ever seemed to add up to an actual story.

Marty tried creativity exercises, mindful dreaming, and long walks along the river. He made a nice welcoming space in his house just for writing, and when that didn't work he took his laptop to a coffee shop, a car wash, and a duck pond to see if that helped. The results were underwhelming.

He used a recording app on his cellphone to capture his thoughts on the go. Many of those thoughts seemed to be grocery-related, but the concept had merit. Besides, it was so easy to get distracted.

One day, Marty was busy mashing words together to form some kind of plot for a book. He took a short break to get something from the car, and as soon as he stepped off the porch, a bright blue thing with wings and a tiny little face flew right at him and nearly hit him in the head.

"Gah!" Marty yelled, ducking out of its path as it bombarded him with an explosion of glittering dust.

"Sorry!" he thought he heard it shriek, which was ridiculous.

"Note to self," he gasped into his phone, "check the shed for bats! And take the pants in for dry-cleaning on Monday."

Ugh. At least it hadn't gotten in his hair.

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If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.


A feature, not a defect

First, thanks to all who read and voted in Idol! I hope you found some stories you liked. I was off last week, but wrote again this week as we start the Top 20. My story is here, with a link to all the stories at the bottom.

Second... let's talk cats.

We went to the county animal shelter last weekend to look at cats, and were surprised to find that they had hardly any. We're looking for a young adult cat, not a kitten, and the last time we were at the shelter (after its major revamp), the place was full of them!

The volunteer who showed us where to find the two (TWO) adult cats they had said that spring is usually the better time. Which is true if you're looking for kittens, but we didn't think there would be a shortage of other cats. Maybe as more people spay and neuter their pets, there are fewer kittens and more older cats get adopted? I hope?

We were not interested in the 15-year-old cat or the 10-year-old cat, so we looked at the ones on "stray hold" and there was a sweet little thing who was about 5 months old. Not available for almost a week, and younger than we were really looking for, so... off to view the adoptable cats at Petco and back to online searching for our area.

We're interested in a little black cat (I know, it may still be too soon) on the Petfinder.com website, but still waiting back to find out how old she is, what her temperament is like, and whether she has any major health problems. For some cats, that information is already shown, but not for all of them. Mainly, we need a short-haired cat (for HalfshellHusband's allergies) who is ideally about 1-3 years old, affectionate, and not FIV-positive. And ideally also not super high-energy. We're open to adopting a bonded pair as well. Still waiting...

The age and health issues are because of our last cat, who was four when we got her, probably FIV+, and had heart and kidney issues. And wound up being with us only five years. :(

Now the reason for the subject line, which is a common saying in my profession (software engineering). Periodically, I've looked around on Google to try to find out why Jinx had such a short, tapered little nose (which made it hard for her to breathe), and bumpy ridge on her forehead, and such a stocky little body. Last weekend, I stumbled upon something that indicated some of those traits point to breed-specific results for Bombay cats. She wasn't a purebred, obviously (with her belly more sable than black), but so many of her weirdnesses fit that breed!

That little nose—I've never seen a cat before with such a tiny nose, or one that tapered toward the bottom like that. The stocky build (Bombays are bred to look like little leopards). How heavy she was when we first got her—a medium-sized cat of 13 pounds, and not especially overweight. Bringing her home in her cardboard box was like transporting a bowling ball—the bottom of the box sagged.

The trilling purr with notes, like this kitten, but more volume and more musical range.

The obsessive devotion to one particular person (here, our son, whom she picked as Her Boy at the animal shelter) is typical too, though that could just be personality.

From the pictures on that page for Jinx, you can see the short little muzzle in profile. It isn't the pushed-in face of a Persian or Burmese, and her nose isn't turned up, but it's just oddly different from most cats. All that time I was wondering where that came from, and it looks like it was a side-effect of a deliberately created breed.

There's still no explanation for that forehead ridge. Other things, like still being playful at age 6, and the sneaky-smartness that led to her hiding in closed cupboards and opening doors... we'll never know whether that was the breed or just her, but she was a beauty and a character and a half, and we sure miss her. ♥