Sunday, March 25, 2012

That sound you hear

Photo by Kathryn Wilkens (Boy, did I need a haircut!)

That sound you may be hearing—the muffled scrape of boot leather across a hardwood floor—is me, dragging my feet.

On Thursday, I wrote the preface to the dog book. That was the last piece I needed to finish in order to complete the manuscript. Yeah. So now it’s really done. And printed (all 225 pages). And copied (all 225 pages 3 times—yikes). Now I have to wait while my first readers flip through those pages and pencil in their comments on the broad margins.

Oh dear. How do I wait? What do I do in the meantime?

I suppose I could start with all the activities and chores I have neglected in the past several months while I spent a good part of every weekend writing the book. Like vacuuming. I should vacuum. And cleaning the refrigerator. And reading the blogs I love. And getting that mid-year check of my cholesterol I promised my doctor. Ah well, that can wait.

I really can’t focus on writing anything or accomplishing anything of substance until I know what my first readers think of Dogs. Picture me, trying to sit still, but getting up to pace back and forth across the cabin, stopping occasionally to gaze outside at the weather (snowing today), my eyes taking on that far-away glaze as I ponder what the response of these so-called friends might be. (Didn’t you start reading it last night?? Shouldn’t you have called already to say, ‘Wow, I can’t put it down!’???)

Since I can’t currently attend to creative composition (my gosh; I didn’t mean for that to be alliterative), let me just give you a small sneak peek below into what the dog book contains. (After all, the first readers shouldn’t get all the fun.)

(The following excerpt is taken from the soon-to-be-released memoir by S. Kay Murphy, Lessons I Learned from the Dogs Who Saved Me.  As such it is fully copyrighted and cannot be reproduced or copied in any from without written permission from the author.)

One of the many transitions I found difficult in moving from Orange County to Mira Loma was adjusting to living in a rural setting. In Cypress, we had lived within bicycling distance of Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the ocean. In Mira Loma, we had to drive ten miles just to get to a supermarket, which was five miles outside of the closest large city, Riverside. But with my license, I could be in Riverside in a matter of twenty minutes. Often in the evenings, especially on weekends, I would borrow Mom’s car and drive into the city, just to walk the long outdoor mall on the warm nights of Indian summer.

Of course, Rufus always went with me, and he was never on a leash. Back then, there was a series of fountains along the mall which had been created to resemble outdoor scenes, with grassy knolls and water running over rocks. Ruf and I would walk along the mall, looking in the windows of the shops that were closed for the day, stopping from time to time so Ruf could splash in the tumbling water.

There were no street lights in Mira Loma and no sidewalks. Walking alone along the streets at home would have been dangerous, I thought. Little did I know how vulnerable I was while walking in the lighted mall alone at night in Riverside.

Nowadays kids often walk with their heads down, texting on their phones or equally distracted by the music in their ears. For me, it was my contemplative nature that kept me looking always inward instead of noticing my surroundings. The young man’s arm was around my waist before I’d had time to realize someone was beside me.

“Hey baby,” he said quickly. “There’s a party at my place right now. Wanna come?”

I was wearing a midriff top with hip-hugger jeans, the prevalent ‘60’s style. I could feel his fingers pressing into the bare skin at my rib cage.

“No thanks,” I muttered, trying to fake a polite tone. “I need to get—“

“What’s your hurry?” he asked, with no pretense of politeness as he pulled my body toward him, his hand tightening as it slid up under my breast. I could feel the taut muscles in his arm hold fast as I tried to pull back. I was five feet, five inches tall and weighed just over a hundred pounds, a slip of a girl against a man who was nearly twice my weight and a head taller. My mind raced as I tried not to panic. Years before in a terrifying ordeal when a prowler had broken into a home where I was staying, I’d learned how our fight or flight response can shut down our cognitive abilities, paralyze our ability to speak… or scream.