Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gavie

Was it really five years ago that I went shopping and bought the wrong groceries? Went to the ice cream store and ordered a sugar cone, which I never have and never will like? Went home and remarked on how the cat was acting weirder then usual around me?

Was apparently going into labor and didn't even realize it?

Was it really five years ago that I woke up at 1 a.m. and said to the big guy that my back hurt? I remember laying in bed, looking at the clock, trying to figure out if I should worry about the strange, minor pains that were coming with odd irregularity: one minute, five minutes, three minutes, ten minutes...

If it hadn't been for the small dot of blood on the bed sheet, I might have rolled over and tried to go to sleep.

After all, I was only seven months pregnant!

But the small dot was enough for the big guy to put his foot down and drive me to Magee at 1:30 in the morning.

My water broke just fifteen minutes after our arrival. Gavin was born at 4:59 a.m.

One wonderful squall came from my son before his lungs collapsed, but I knew nothing save for the fact that he was alive and had screamed as babies are supposed to and that the doctors had him on the crash cart and were taking care of everything. My husband and mother were there and neither gave any indication that something might be wrong.

It might have been five minutes later or forty, I've no idea, but when he was stable again I got to hold him -- forever, my memory will be of the fact that the first thought into my mind was that he was wrapped up like a little bowling pin. I could only hold him for a moment and it wasn't enough, but at four pounds and only seven months a moment is dear.

Just this week I read, again, that premature babies face a larger number of health risks, developmental issues, learning delays, etc. etc.

Someone, very fortunately, forgot to tell my son about the article.

Just yesterday, for example, Captain Chaos climbed the hill in our backyard and began throwing rocks down it to... well, I'm not sure why really. Maybe he was testing the theory of gravity. Then, because he thought it would be interesting, he tried to pulverize a deer bone (found in our backyard, our property abuts state land) with an ancient gardening spade. After that, the rocks he tossed down the hill were moved to his new pile of dirt that is half-on and half-off of our stone patio: seven pots of dirt that once held vibrant annuals were sacrificed to make a nice pile for his Tonka trucks.

"Look how strong I am, Mommy," he called, lifting the rocks and moving them to his miniature construction site. "Look!"

Ferocious mother-love welled up, and it took all of my strength not to turn into a mess of tears right then and there. He has no idea how strong he is -- nor does he know how his simply being mine gives me strength to fight for what I need.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Loose ends

I feel rather at odds, readers. With Killing Julie finished and in the hands of others, I wonder now what to do (intellectually).

The truth is that I always feel this way when I wrap up a project. Doesn't matter if it's my own novel or state exam questions for a high school competency test. It's all about the work and the high that comes from the act of creation.

So what now?

Return to writing Tigers, I assume. Begin to scrapbook again, perhaps. It's time to think about cleaning out the basement and setting up the workspace that my sister-in-law and I keep dreaming about -- space for my stamps and space for her clay. We can get ready for next Christmas and the craft shows we'd like to take part in.

I could work on ChickLit, which is Selina's story. I'm not quite interested in her anger/angst at the moment, though. Also, the more I think about it, the more I want a feminist bend to things -- and that demands a few refresher readings on woman and wolves. (Remember, I did go to Seton Hill when it was 96% female!)

A third tale is bouncing around in my brain, untitled but fully plotted: a small town and a few celebrated murders, a girl's coming of age, and a minister who fancies himself a successor to Father Karras (The Exorcist) and is quite -- shall we say? -- hellbent on proving it to his followers.

A fourth is beginning to take shape a well. A simple love story, one that is 180-degrees from everything I've ever written. No murders, no aliens (yes, I used to write sci-fi!), no mysteries beyond when the first kiss will take place. This is the murkiest idea right now -- which is ironic given my addiction to romance novels! I suppose the whole problem is what would make it different. Two leads who fall in love isn't the most exciting plot, you know.

Ah well, we shall see!

In the meanwhile, I guess I'll just turn up the iPod, open up my collection of Yeats, and go to the Lake Isle of Innisfree for a bit...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Frozen veggies, family, and a deadline met

The nice thing about being with relatives is that you can spend their visit with a bag of frozen peas on the small of your back and not feel like some weirdo.

Earlier this week, in a fit of youthful exuberance, Gavie and I played "spin until you fall down." The game is played by picking up my son and spinning in circles until I'm about to fall down. Then we stop and let the world catch back up.

However, I'm not four. I'm not even twenty-four. I'm thirty-four. My body is thirty-four. My muscles are thirty-four. And, for the past few days, I've been reminded of that... rather painfully.

Thus, the bag of peas on the back. Actually, to be perfectly honest, there's a cloth bag of frozen buckwheat draped around my neck.

(Someday the muscle spasms will end... or so promises my chiropractor, who I saw yesterday and who I will see again come Monday.)

My back put a huge crimp in the weekend plans. We were to have neighbors and some family this eve, but as my back locked back up this morning, I had to call it quits. But family is family, and despite my cancellations, I soon found relatives in my living room. They weren't worried about my back or my being on the couch not wanting to move, they just slapped a fresh bag of frozen something on me and put a beer in my hand. They were going to celebrate regardless.

So why the gathering? My deadline has been met, readers.

I've finished my book.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

So continues the novel adventure...

First, the update: 380 pages, 76,845 words, and a dead antagonist. Life is good. I might just make that March 29th deadline!

Second, the spin-off: There's a new link to your left, w(or)d(p)(lay). Rory's best friend Selina Deitson came into being a bit over two years ago in a different blog. Recently, for those who don't know already, I took the entire blog down -- all 205 posts -- and redid the entire tale. Sorta. I'm using the 205 blogs, but I'm re-arranging them. I want to see what happens. True, there is some editing to make a few things make better sense re-ordered, but the bulk remains the same... that being that Selina is a bit too-free of a spirit, is awash in excessive self-doubt, and is tired of being a stewardess to the world. She is the angry everywoman who doesn't know what to do with her anger. (Be warned: there's a few Killing Julie spoilers in there, and it isn't exactly the sort of bedtime story you'd read to your kids.)

Third, the red herring: If you click on A Novel Adventure, there remains one post only. The current version looks nothing like it, particularly since Elizabeth no longer exists.

Lastly, the request: To those of you who have ventured into the publishing world, to those of you know know someone who has, etc. etc., I am looking for referrals for agents. If you have a name or any advice for me, please drop me an e-mail.

I am eternally in debt to you all for your support, patience, help, and continued readership! Thank you!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Getting it right

Last night I slipped in late and left early; I sat in the back and sought attention from no one. Only a few knew I was there, and that was enough for me.

And in the car, heading home, I cried. Just a little, but cried nonetheless.

All that work, all those uphill battles, and all those days where I swore that I was insane to bother... worth it. Completely worth it.

I sat in the back of Soldiers and Sailors in Oakland and listened to Gloria give her graduation speech. I looked at the sea of caps and gowns and knew the battles nearly of of those students had endured. The program listed the names of those who made it through, who overcame issues that lesser men and women would have fallen before.

It's easy to disparage those who come from urban backgrounds, from the welfare rolls, and from cushy little suburban homes where the paved road was soft. It's easy to snort in contempt at the single mother who's pregnant -- again. It's tempting, too, to tell some students to pull their heads out of their posteriors and get a clue.

It's not easy to remember that they only know the lives they have. Some of them have always been single parents, they've always had someone telling them to give up when the road is bumpy, and they know nothing about a world where you don't have to sleep in the bathtub on nights when the gangs are particularly active.

The ones who live such lives, who work hard, and who graduate into careers and into their futures have nothing but my deepest regard. They are amazing people.

Gloria's speech was simple. Two sentences stick with me the most, and they are ones I need to keep remembering:

If it's not good, make it good.
If it's not right, get it right.

Last night, sitting there, I realized that I had managed to "get it right" maybe just a bit more then I thought... and that I need to make a few more things in life "good" before I can count myself as the person I want to be.

And so I slipped out of the hall early, condemned to leave due to other's schedules. But it was better to slip out then fall apart in public, which I was perilously close to doing.

You see, readers, I was mentioned in her speech. Despite my no longer being a teacher there, despite my not having had her in class for what seems eons... I can only shake my head in wonder at it all.

Thank you, Gloria, and all of my students over the years, for giving me that chance to get it right and to make it good.