Saturday, January 20, 2007

Writing As Therapy

Okay, I'm venting here. Feel free to go on to the original Saturday post below.

I've mentioned my geriatric cat, Tribble, more than once in this blog. Tribble is now over twenty. I affectionately refer to her as "my little paperweight." She settles in one place and doesn't move.

Last summer we had a really bad experience when she was attacked by a pit bull (see my post of July 7th). Fortunately, I was outside at the time and got to her before the dog could tear her apart. I held her up in one arm (she's tiny and very frail) and ran for my house with the dog jumping and lunging at her the entire way. I got bit in the process (by Tribble, who was insane with fear).

When I confronted the neighbor who owns the dog, he laughed at me, saying "My dog would never hurt anyone. And I'm not paying for your cat's bite."

Said neighbor has been a bit of a problem. He is currently on his third pair of pit bulls (in ten years). He had to put the first pair down after they rampaged the neighborhood when he went off on vacation and left them in the yard, asking a relative to feed them. The second pair was stolen while they were still puppies. This third pair is old enough now that they are beginning to run the neighborhood.

I was angry enough that I sent the neighbor a "demand" letter, warning him that he WOULD pay for my medical bill--even if I had to sue him. I would probably never have gone through with the lawsuit because I don't believe in suing my neighbors--especially over a piddling little sum. However, he responded by sending the police to my door, saying I was harassing him. The police were very nice and actually encouraged me to take him to small claims court, saying he needed to take control of his animals before they hurt a child or killed an animal.

I'm not going to go through all the legal hassles, except to say that the judge was so angry over my neighbor's refusal to take responsibility for his animals that he awarded me $800. I had tacked on punitive damages to my small claim, hoping to encourage the guy to settle. It never occurred to me that I'd actually be awarded them. The neighbor is paying me in monthly installments (this time, he believed me when I sent a letter saying he WOULD pay me or I'd have the county confiscate his boat).

One of the fallouts of the event was that poor little Tribble retreated to my guest bathroom and didn't come out for five months. I had to move her litter box and food dishes in there because she would not come out even to eat.

After waiting months for Tribble to recover from her trauma, I began encouraging her to return to society, moving her food dishes a little bit closer to the door every day (my social work training really does come in handy sometimes).

We've had success--sort of. Tribble has now moved permanently next to my laptop, inches from my typing hands. I guess she feels safest with me. Sometimes, she drifts onto the keyboard itself, and I have to move her in order to reach the keys. She doesn't leave that spot except to use the litter box or eat. She has her own tall glass of water on my desk.

Last night I was so tired I went to bed without turning off my computer. Got up this morning and found Tribble stretched across the keyboard. And my computer was totally screwed up. She had somehow changed all the settings. It took me over an hour to undo all the damage she had done.

When I began writing this post, I was irritable over the lost hour. However, as I type this sentence, I realize that I'm thankful Tribble is still alive and relatively healthy. I'm grateful she is recovering from her fear and has had the courage to come out of the bathroom. And I'm not going to begrudge her my lost hour. We both survived that pit bull attack, and she's back in the world. Sort of. That's good enough for today.

I'm going to a writer's workshop in Denton, Texas today. Hope your weekend is fun.


Marie Tuhart said...


Hope you had fun today at the writer's workshop in Denton. It sounds like Tribble is getting better. I'm sure the poor thing was so tramatized by what happened it will take a while before she feels safe again to venture outside.


Sherrill Quinn said...

Oh, poor baby. That's like having your elderly mother beat up the neighbor's kid and the parent won't be accountable. I'm glad you got someone in authority to take away the choice from him.

Glad Tribble is doing better, even if she is paper-weighting on your keyboard. *G*

Maya Reynolds said...

Thanks, Marie and Sherrill. For over twenty years, she slept on a corner of my bed. Now, when I put her on that corner, she hops down and runs for my keyboard. Baby steps.