Several times over the past couple of months, I have thought, “What if I were to wake up tomorrow and this was all a bad dream? What if God were to spin us back in time and allow me to find a way to save my baby? God, you could do that, if you wanted to.”
What if I were to wake up tomorrow, only instead of it being January 6, it was November 6? Two months ago, I stood in line with Garrett for about an hour on the morning of election day, waiting to vote. It was cold and I hadn’t brought a jacket or hat for either of us, never thinking that we’d be outside for so long. I remember worrying that the folks in line around us must think I’m a terrible mother. Then I noticed an elementary-school-age boy in a T-shirt standing with his father and I didn’t feel quite so bad.
A few people chatted with Garrett and commented on how handsome and pleasant he was. Nothing new to me – after all, he was all blonde curls and gigantic blue eyes, so laid back and calm that some of our family and friends insisted he was incapable of throwing a tantrum. Or even crying! He wanted me to hold him for most of our wait (which I did, I almost always held him whenever he wanted me to), and the rest of the time he watched his favorite movie, Despicable Me, on my iPhone.
Later that morning, he cried a little when I dropped him off at his babysitter’s house. This had become an everyday occurance and it bothered me, but as usual I talked myself out of fretting about it. “It’s normal for preschoolers to be upset when their parents go to work. He’s probably fine as soon as I leave.”
Just two months ago, I had no idea then what kind of hell I’d soon be marching through. My life is so drastically different from anything I’d ever imagined that I quite literally can’t understand it. Intellectually, emotionally, it makes no sense at all. My “new normal” is so nonsensical that the idea of a wormhole opening up and allowing me to go back in time and avoid this tragedy altogether actually makes MORE sense to me than the idea that the horror movie I’m stumbling through is real life.
Some mornings I wake up and I entertain the “What if?” for a few minutes, hoping that I will hear Garrett call for me from his room, or find that the new baby’s nursery (which I’ve been cleaning and decorating as a form of therapy) is still dirty and filled with junk. Maybe the shelf in the living room will be bare of its morbid shrine – the urn holding Garrett’s ashes, all his little race cars lined up in a row – and I’ll realize that I’ve been given a rare gift. A second chance! I’ll be able to set things right. I won’t have to figure out how to go on without him.
Most of all – this is what I wish for more than anything – I’ll be able to hold Garrett again. Kiss him and tell him good morning. Make him breakfast. Laugh with him. Use chocolate to bribe him into giving up his binky. Sit down to watch Despicable Me or anything else he pleases. All those things that I miss so desperately. All those things that I had no idea were so important to me.
So far my fantasy has not been a reality. Our home is still empty of the its most important inhabitant. I have no opportunities to disrupt the fabric of the universe by altering our fate. Instead I keep living in the past, wishing and wondering, “What if?”
Garrett cuddled up with our dog Milo – one of the last pictures I took of him before he died.
Normally, I would want to start out the new bloggy year with a reflective post looking back at 2012 and some ideas about how I can be better and more productive and generally awesomer in 2013. I would talk about resolutions or share my “one word” for the year, or get all sappy and sentimental about how hard-but-good life is and how the trials in my life have inspired and grown me. I might even be super industrious and round up my favorite posts of the year from other blogs are talk about the best movies I’ve seen and books I’ve read.
But never mind that I’m terrible at keeping resolutions and can never remember what good books or blogs I’ve read (and never mind that I’m usually so behind the curve that I’d only be recommending stuff that everyone else is ALREADY reading). I can’t write a typical New Year’s blog post because 2013 looks to me like a smolding, stinking wasteland.
My two-year-old son died in November. Actually, he was murdered – a victim of abuse by a trusted friend. One morning I dropped him off at a neighbor’s house, just as I did every day, and went to work. By one o’clock that afternoon, when I arrived at the neighbor’s home to find paramedics kneeling next to my baby’s motionless body, my whole life was changed. By ten o’clock the following morning, Garrett was gone. Forever. And it felt like my life was over.
I didn’t know how to share this. I mean, I mentioned it on my Facebook page (which is only loosely connected to my blog) and the news spread fairly quickly among my family and friends. But on the blogosphere, what could I say? It’s not as if I had a large following of people who would miss me if I just stopped writing, so I just stopped writing.
Then there was the complication of Garrett’s death being the focus of criminal investigation (which is still ongoing). I’ve been cautioned against speaking with the press, and I felt this instinctive need to spin a coccoon around myself, to keep myself safe from accusations and suppositions and twisted words. (FYI, it didn’t work.)
More than anything, I wondered what on earth I could possibly say about this situation other than the fact that is utter and complete shit. People keep telling me, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” At first I was all gracious and stuff, saying, “Oh, I wouldn’t want you to.” But I’ve changed my response. If you are a parent, you CAN imagine what I’m going through, you just don’t want to.
Losing a child really is as awful as you think. It is unfathomable, but not unimaginable. It’s so easy to imagine the horror that most people just don’t let their minds go there.
See? I’m kind of a total downer right now. I don’t have any “Chicken Soup for the Soul” insights about grief and family and love and childhood. I don’t imagine this blog being helpful to anyone at all.
(Except maybe to me – and that’s why I’m here.)
2013 scares me. We’re expecting a new baby in just a couple of months, and that means I not only have to continue to live and breathe for myself, I have to care for someone else. I’m often convinced that I am a complete failure as a wife and mother, and that Garrett’s death is proof of that. I didn’t know he was in danger. I didn’t protect him from evil. I let him down, I let my husband down, I let our whole family down.
The old year may be over, it may be time to let go of grudges and regrets and forge ahead into a bright new future, but I can’t do that.
Maybe someday, but not today.
1. I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this yet! But that’s what I get for being a slacker and not blogging in a million years. A couple weeks ago my husband and I learned that we are expecting a little GIRL!!! Now, I did say over and over again leading up to the ultrasound that I would have been very happy regardless of the baby’s gender. And that is true – I love being mama to boys and would not be sad at all to have a houseful of them. But I would be a little sad, truthfully, if I never had a girl. I know those statements sound contradictory, but I don’t think they are. Well apparently I was hoping harder than I’d realized, because when the ultrasound tech announced, “It’s a girl!” I kind of burst into tears. A little. A lot. I may have blubbered. Don’t judge me.
And then a few days later I was in T.J. Maxx and caught a glimpse of hot pink training bras and I had a little bit of a panic attack. How, oh, HOW are we going to raise this little lady to be secure in her deepest self? How will we protect her from all the evil in this world? How will we instill kindness and honesty and gentleness in her? I’m just a little undone, sometimes, when I think of the world girls live in today. And when I think of those middle school years, holy swiss cheese Batman! I know I survived and I am fine, but it was hard, it was so VERY hard. And some girls don’t survive.
(And yes, in case you are wondering, I do have similar moments of panic when I realize the magnitude of trying to raise a gentleman in a world that is anything but gentle, but I think that the idea of protecting a girl’s heart scares me even more because, well, I’m a girl.)
2. On to less heart-palpitation-inducing subjects: I need a new computer, like, REALLY REALLY BAD, and a few weeks ago Apple unveiled their new 13-inch MacBook Pro starting at a bargain price of just $1199. I think I could possibly scrape that much money together. This would revolutionize my freelance business. Actually, it would make it possible for me to actually HAVE a freelance business. I just… oh, how I stuff-lust after this computer.
3. My toddler is now OBSESSED with football. It’s kind of cute. He even recognizes the sportscaster on our local TV station and as soon as Garrett sees this guy, he hollers, “FOOTBALL!” Jon and I joke all the time about how this man no longer has a name or identity – he’s just FOOTBALL. It’s kind of perplexing and cute how stereotypically “boy” Garrett is (he’s also obsessed with race cars, and there are Hot Wheels EVERYWHERE in our house; he also wants to watch Thomas 24/7) and I am already wondering what his sister (!) will be like. I’m not a very “girly girl” – I don’t wear makeup or do my hair, wear dresses or paint my nails, and if my little one IS girly, I wonder if she’ll think I’m no fun at all. (Oh, look! NEW mommy guilt!)
4. And now for the linkish part of my quick takes: From Small Notebook, we have How to Find the Right Fixer-Upper House. This is just a great, practical little post… much like everything on Small Notebook. You should just go ahead and subscribe to that blog. Go on. I’ll wait here while you do.
5. This is actually where I am right now in my decluttering mindset: We Will Never Have a Garage Sale. I used to save stuff as I was purging so I could have a garage sale a couple of months later and make a million dollars. (Okay, sometimes, if I was lucky, I netted about $100. Which is nothing to sneeze at but as the chick in the linked post notes, that’s a lot of work for not very much coin.)
I am seriously in love with the person who created this sign. In. Love.
The problem with saving your crap before you part with it permanently is A) you have a chance to reconsider and may decide you want to keep the crap after all B) you have to store the crap until the date of the sale and C) you’ve got to figure out what to do with it if it DOESN’T sell. I am now at the point where I just freaking want some room in my house. We are adding a fourth person to our family in four months and I am sick and tired of tripping over and cleaning around things we never use and I know my patience will be even THINNER come spring. I would much rather just load my car up with my trash (which could easily be someone else’s treasure) and take it to the local thrift store so I can support a deserving charity, stimulate my local economy, and get a tax write-off. WIN WIN WIN.
6. From Real Simple: Most-Pinned New Uses for Old Things. Some of these seriously blew my mind, like this one:
Use an empty baby wipe container to keep your yarn from tangling up with knitting or crocheting. Say WHAT?
7. I’m going out of town with some girlfriends this weekend. My terrible luck in raffles and contests finally gave out, and I won a free weekend stay at a house in the Outer Banks, so my gal pals and I decided to leave our husbands and kids behind and get some much-needed R&R. (Amazingly, the house that we’re staying at is located at the widest part of the beach so it suffered no ill effects from Hurricane Sandy. SUH-WEET.) I have to admit, I am really nervous about being away from my son for almost two whole days, and I am nervous on my husband’s behalf because he’s never been the full-time caregiver before. Plus I know he misses me when I’m gone. (Which is nice.) But I am pretty sure that this will be a really restful, fun weekend for me and I am going to enjoy every minute of it. I’m in charge of the menu and I’ve picked out two sinful new recipes to try: French Toast Casserole and Caramel Apple Coffee Cake. If they turn out well you just might see them in an upcoming Munchies Monday post.
All righty, folks, that’s it! Go see Jen for more quick takes.
Has anyone else been surprised by which of your friends/family members/coworkers/acquaintances have gotten all sorts of political on Facebook? I mean, some people you expect it from, but then other folks you’re like WHOA I NEVER PEGGED YOU FOR BEING A WIDE-EYED UNWASHED LUNATIC or HEY I THOUGHT WE WERE HAVING FUN HERE WATCHING VIDEOS OF CATS FARTING AND NOW YOU’RE ALL BUZZKILL SERIOUS AND STUFF. Even if you agree with someone, it can get a bit overwhelming when every.single.one. of their posts is all doom and gloom and America’s going to diiiiiiiiiie if we don’t elect the right guuuuuuuyyyy.
It’s bad when the shit in your Facebook feed makes this look harmless.
I had a little chuckle to myself this morning when it occurred to me that gee, I am glad (and everyone I know should be, too) that I didn’t really know the internet existed a decade ago. I mean, I did, but I wasn’t online, so my obnoxious fundamentalism was limited to the one place I could actually physically occupy at any given time. I had emotionally charged conversations about religion and politics with, at the most, two or three people at a time. I wasn’t subjecting HUNDREDS of people to my bigotry and self-righteousness, so only a handful of folks on this planet know what a royal asshat I was at the time. Surprisingly, a few of those people have chosen to overlook that asshattery and allow me to be part of their lives right now, a favor that I continually attempt to reward with (mostly) apolitical posts and videos of cats farting.
It’s not that I don’t feel strongly about my country’s leadership, or the issues that we’re all worried about right now – the economy, healthcare, religious freedom, equality, foreign relations. I do, believe me, I DO. It’s just that I have changed my mind countless times as I’ve gotten older and wiser and tireder.* It’s just that I have alienated enough people with offensively self-interested rants to know that A) it’s super sucky lonely when you’re so obnoxious that people pretend they don’t see you in the grocery store and B) you will never, EVER change people’s minds by yelling at them, by posting snarky macros on Facebook, by making fun of others’ fundamental beliefs and principles. The only thing you will do when you go on a Facebook campaign against “the other guy” (and keep in mind that no matter WHAT issue you’re harping on, it’s likely that half the people you know will be on the other side, and you may unknowingly be wounding them DEEPLY with your words) is look like an asshole.
“But Emily,” you may be saying, “I am just telling the truth. I am standing up for MY beliefs. Isn’t that the Christian/American/intellectually honest/insert-your-rationalization-here thing to do?” Eh. I would say it’s the human thing to do. We tend to plant our flag or draw our line in the sand and then DARE anyone and everyone to challenge us. It’s not necessarily about integrity, it’s about wanting to be recognized and heard. We are all, deep down inside, two-year-olds who crave attention. Even negative attention will work.
“But Emily,” you may be saying, “I HAVE to say this stuff. I fear for my country if I don’t. I fear for my family and friends who are doomed to hell/following false religions/slaves to irrational unscientific bullshit/insert-your-rationalization-here.”
Okay, then, so what I hear you saying is you don’t necessarily WANT to be a zealot but you feel that you are COMPELLED by your conscience to do so.
Well, then. Let me tell you how to do it.
First of all, remember that this is about the ironclad truth of your convictions. It’s not about building relationships or being kind or giving people the benefit of the doubt or reaching across party lines or even doing what’s best for your country or the human race. Nonononono NO NO. Do not let yourself be distracted by that sissy-nancy bullshit! Your goal – your assignment – your DUTY is to stand firm in what you believe AT ALL TIMES. Don’t let someone wear you down with reasoning or tears or facts or even a plea to “agree to disagree” or “let bygones be bygones” or “please, it’s Christmas dinner and you made your mother cry.” THAT IS NOT THE GAME WE’RE PLAYING HERE.
Secondly, get yourself some metaphorical blinders and focus CLOOOOOSELY on how the other side is attacking/offending/demonizing/slandering/silencing you and/or your comrades-at arms. (And be sure to think of them as THE OTHER SIDE. They are not people with actual names and faces. THEY ARE THE ENEMY.) Stand in front of the mirror and practice looking righteously indignant – it looks sort of like you’ve just been hit with a wave of food poisioning. Repeat to yourself: HOW DARE THEY SAY MEAN THINGS ABOUT ME? Can’t they be civil? Can’t they be rational? Talk a lot about how the media is CLEARLY biased toward the OTHER side. Talk about how persecuted you are. Paint a picture in your mind about how you are the one who’s keeping it classy, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Thirdly, don’t, I repeat, do NOT let anyone change the subject. No matter how the conversation begins, always find a way bring it back around the your pet issue. Someone posts a picture of cute puppy dogs? Comment with, “Yeah, you know Mitt Romney wants to kill your puppy dogs.” Someone posts something about how they hate their job? Comment with, “Yeah, well, just be glad you have a job after Barack Obama killed our economy.” Someone says they’re going to Subway for lunch? Remind them that if they were a REAL Christian they would eat at Chik-Fil-A. Someone is sick? Remind them that the president they hate so much made it possible to stay on their parents’ insurance policy, you’rewelcomeverymuchdingbat. See? EVERYTHING COMES RIGHT BACK ROUND AGAIN IF YOU WANT IT TO. Circle of life and all that shit.
Lastly, and this is VERY important, you must make friends with loneliness. You must acquaint yourself with the idea of suffering for your convictions. Because if you limit your list of “true friends” to people who never disagree with you, never hurt your feelings, never make a decision (political, religious, or otherwise) that you don’t respect, you will end up with ZERO FRIENDS.** There is an exception for cult leaders and other folks whose “friends” are actually yes men who are compelled to agree with everything they say. But since most of us don’t have the determination to go quite that far – and believe me, it’s hard work and generally necessitates a psychotic break – most of us will just find our circle of friends getting smaller and smaller the more set in our ways we become.
Appropriate coping mechanisms for the enlightened and persecuted depends on what kind of zealot you are. I suggest choosing a cause that allows you to drink, because intoxication helps you to forget what are jagoff you are.
So there you are: My four-point plan to become a fundamentalist jerk. No, no, save the applause, I’m just trying to help you out. The great news is you don’t have to be a Christian or Muslim or subscribe to ANY religious beliefs to make this work. You don’t have to be a Republican, Democrat, or any other particular party affiliation. Heck, you don’t even have to be an American, because the language of asshat is understood loud and clear around the world!
* This is why you’re never going to get me to NOT vote for someone by telling me that he or she is a “flip-flopper.” Since when were human beings expected to stick to one belief FOREVER? Has anyone out there ever NOT seen the error of their ways and changed their stand on a political issue? Anyone? Bueller? YEAH I DIDN’T THINK SO. I respect people all the more for changing their minds when they learn something new on an issue instead of dogmaticly clinging to an argument that doesn’t hold water anymore.
** And it is ESSENTIAL that you do this. Allowing someone into your life who doesn’t agree with you 100% is like sleeping with the devil. You are lukewarm and useless to “the cause.”
I am (as usual) a little late to the party – in this case, the virtual book party that peeps around the internet threw in honor of Rachel Held Evans on the day her second book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, was released. (By the way – if you buy the book before 11:59 p.m. tomorrow night, the publisher has a mess of nifty freebies to give you!) But I truly believe in the old “better late than never” adage, so I will treat you on this fine Seven-Quick-Takes-Friday to seven reasons you should read Rachel’s book.
1. It will make you laugh. Isn’t this essential when you’re pulling apart heavy topics like religion and gender roles and baking? Yes, yes it is. And I promise you that you will LOL while reading about Rachel’s ill-fated attempt to make an applie pie (you know, a friend of mine often says that “BAKE is a four letter word” – TRUFAX). Maybe you will laugh because you are an incredibly gifted baker and you don’t understand what the hell is wrong with this woman. Or maybe you are like me and you will laugh because oh my goodness, YOU FEEL HER PAIN. Either way, is funny.
NOT Rachel’s pie.
2. It will teach you. I loved reading the snippets of correspondence between Rachel and her friend Ahava, an Orthodox Jewish woman living in Jerusalem. I confess that as a child growing up in non-denominational Christian churches in America, I have always thought that Judaism was just Christianity-without-Jesus – like skim milk, bland and boring because you could tell something good was missing. (I KNOW, I KNOW, the utter ignorance and bigotry of that viewpoint is embarrassing, but I know I’m not alone there.) In the past few years I have tried to learn more about the Jewish faith and I have been quite overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of Jewish teaching, traditions, and culture. Ahava was kind enough to give Rachel (and her book readers) bite-sized understandings of what it looks like to be a woman observing God’s most ancient laws, and the ways those observances can challenge and enrich one’s life.
3. It will challenge you. I don’t care who you are or what you believe about Jesus and God and marriage and babies and frumpy clothes and anything else that we associate with “biblical womanhood.” I don’t care if you are a Biblical scholar who’s got all theology all figured out. (Well, I do care, because I have to say, no, you really can’t have it all figured out, because no human mind can completely wrap itself around God, but that’s a topic for another blog post.)
You are going to come away from this book with a new perspective on God’s relationship with half of his creation. You may not change your mind about certain things, or maybe you will. But your gray matter’s going to get moving, and that is a good thing. For instance, Rachel’s visit to Amish country illuminated the concept of modesty for me. Modesty in that culture isn’t just seen as covering up boobs and butts (though we’re all aware that they’re not big proponents of the Daisy Dukes school of dress), it’s also about being humble and not drawing attention to oneself.
4. It will make your heart hurt. In America (and much of the developed world) gender inequality is insidiously hidden in the pages of beauty magazines and the payroll books of corporations large and small. In the developing world, it is brazenly, devilishly obvious in the dark realities of human trafficking, child prostitution, maternal and infant mortality, and gender-based violence. It is easy for those of us with good lives and comfortable homes to be completely blind to the suffering of millions of women around the world, but that doesn’t mean our blindness is excusable. As Rachel’s conscience is pricked and she seeks to empower and encourage women the world over, I guarantee that you, too, will find yourself compelled to change your life in large and small ways.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
~Micah 6:8 (NIV)
5. It’s a great conversation-starter. We’re going into the holiday season, and I know some of us are dreading the small talk and awkward silences that cannot be avoided at requisite holiday gatherings. You could be the life of the party (or, at least, the person everyone talks about all next year) if you break the ice with, “You know, I recently read a book by a woman who camped out in her front yard while having her period to observe Old Testament purity customs.”
But on a more serious note, if you spend much time in the Christian or feminist blogospheres at all, you’ve probably heard some good and not-so-good things about Rachel’s book. Wouldn’t you like to join the conversation with an informed opinion? I thought so.
6. It will make you proud to be a woman. That is, if you are a woman. If you’re not, it will make you appreciate all the more the women of valor that God has placed in your life. The one chapter in this book that I keep seeing people mention on Facebook and in blog posts and on Twitter is the one about the Proverbs 31 woman – you know, the chick who rises early and burns the midnight oil keeping her houseld and business running smoothly, who is rich and powerful and hard-working and stylish and savvy and smart and sexy and probably a size two? You know, that shining example of “Biblical womanhood” whose very existence makes all the rest of us chicks feel like slugs?
I was going to put a picture of a slug here, but looking at slugs makes me feel barfy, and I really am not feeling that committed to my art right now.
Actually, this particular set of verses was never intended to be a divine guilt trip. Rather, it’s a model of how husbands and fathers and brothers and sons and friends should give props to the women they know for working hard and loving deeply. It’s God modeling for all of mankind how to build each other up with genuine appreciation for who God made us to be – instead of tearing each other down for not meeting human expectations of what we should be based on our gender. And that’s just freaking awesome.
7. Because Rachel is awesome. (Just ask her husband!) You don’t have to be an author’s fangirl to enjoy their books, but it helps. I have been following Rachel’s blog for a year or two now, and I have to say that I admire her greatly. There’s a misconception in Christian circles that in order to be a fierce and fearless believer, you have to be all DOOM DOOM DOOM SIN SIN SIN, getting into people’s faces and tearing them a new one for every way they fall short of the glory of God. But Rachel is showing me that it takes a lot of courage to be gentle, to be a peacemaker, to communicate truth with humility and love. If you are on a journey to learn how to better love God and your neighbor, Rachel is someone you’ll want to have on the road with you.
All righty, folks, that’s it! Go see Jen for more quick takes! And be sure to check out Rachel’s blog (you can find some of her most popular posts here) and grab your copy of A Year of Biblical Womanhood.
1. Hat tip to Abigail for this one: Couples Who Share The Housework Are Actually More Likely To Get Divorced. As the article states, this likely has more to do with the opinions/ideals/lifestyles of people who take an egalitarian approach to household chores, rather than a prescription for a magic divorce bullet called “wimminfolk do the dishes.” In the same way, I often look suspiciously at the low, low, low divorce rates for couples that practice NFP, because I’m not sure that foregoing contraception per se will innoculate a family against strife. I think the statistics probably have more to do with the fact that people who are morally opposed to the use of birth control are probably also morally opposed to divorce and much less likely to say, “Screw it. Let’s just call this whole thing off.”
2. Following the directions in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I made my first loaf of bread earlier this week, and I was amazed at how incredibly easy and quick it was. Mixing the dough took all of ten minutes (and most of that time was devoted to counting out half-cupfuls of flour and getting my water warm-but-not-too-hot. I let the dough rise for about three hours then popped it in the refrigerator. The next morning I had just enough time to cut off a hunk of dough, shape a loaf, let it rise and then bake it. I waited until evening to have a piece and letmetellyou it was HEAVENLY.
And then, every single time I tried to make ANOTHER loaf of bread for the next week, something weird happened that kept me from doing so, or that ruined the bread itself. By the sixth or seventh bread-baking attempt I was about ready to give up. Then the stars aligned and I FINALLY made another PERFECT loaf and that made up for everything.
Honestly, it’s amazing what simple carbs do for my emotional well-being.
3. Speaking of weird things that happened while attempting to bake bread, here’s some helpful advice for anyone who might consider using the methods in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: when the book says to put an empty broiler pan into the oven during pre-heat and then to pour hot water from the tap into the pan after you slide the bread onto the baking stone, it’s advisable to NOT use a glass pan and if you ARE going to use one, make sure that the water you pour into it REALLY IS HOT. Otherwise you will have an oven fun of glass shards, and you will scare the beejeezus out of your husband when the glass pan explodes in front of you and you shriek in terror. ASK ME HOW I KNOW.
4. Last night I went to a party at a neighbor’s house for a new direct-sales company that I hadn’t heard of before: Origami Owl. OH MY GOODNESS THIS STUFF IS SO CUTE. I’m probably going to have a party myself and buy a million of these darling little memory lockets for Christmas presents. And by Christmas presents, I mean FOR ME.
5. Only FOUR MORE DAYS until my ultrasound – and then we’ll (hopefully) know whether we’re having a boy or girl! Garrett keeps talking about a “baby sister” and part of me kind of hopes he’s right. I know my mother-in-law would like to have a little girl to spoil since she already has to boy grandbabies. My mom doesn’t care either way because she’s already got a bunch of boys AND girls to spoil already. For me, finding out the baby’s gender makes it easier for me to focus on preparing for his or her arrival. It seems more real, I guess? And it means we can get serious about picking out a name.
6. Although I should say that this pregnancy feels VERY real now that the little person is wiggling around so much. Garrett hardly EVER moved. In fact, there would be times when I hadn’t felt him for awhile so I would get worried and go lay down and poke my belly. Then he would poke back and wiggle a bit and I’d feel okay again. As it turned out, nothing was really wrong with Garrett, he was just an extremely chill kid – he’s only now becoming fairly curious and active. Already child #2 is showing me that YES, we did luck out with a freakishly laid back child the first time, and we’re probably going to have to put this little one on Ritalin before he/she is six months old. (Of course I’m exaggerating. Just trying to drive home the point that GEE WOW each little blessing is different. Please to not send me anti-pharmaceutical hate mail.)
7. Found this image on Facebook and LOVED IT:
Please Do Not Feed the Fears.
I wrote an 800-word post yesterday and shortly before I was done I fat-fingered the delete key and ended up with just under 300 words. Cue weeping and gnashing of teeth; all of my brilliant insights were gone. So I closed the browser window and sulked for awhile, and now I’m back to try to re-write the entire post. Why? BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT. Update: It almost happened again after I had re-written the entire post. It was awful. I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if suddenly all the voices in my head were crying out in melodramatic writerly anguish. But now I’m about to hit “publish” and I think everything is going to be okay.
I know you’ve all been FREAKING THE HELL OUT because I haven’t posted in awhile and for that I am sorry. I hate to alarm my faithful blog followers. You see, last Thursday I was talking to my mom about my grandma who has been in and out of the hospital and is now in hospice care and we decided that since I’m not too terribly busy at the nine-to-five I should jet down to Florida with the bebe (and a half) to “say goodbye.” I use quotes because of course I didn’t actually say the words “good-bye, grandma, have fun in the next life, see you in a few dozen earth-years or whenever I end up kicking it myself” because that’s kind of creepy and melodramatic. Plus I’m pretty sure grandma didn’t even recognize me or know what the hell was going on. It was sad, NGL. My resolve to remain lucid and active until I’m 95 years old then die in some fantastic you-gotta-be-KIDDING-me type of accident has been doubled.
The upside to my sad weekend jaunt is that Gee Money got to play with his cousins (and by “play” I mean “yell at them for expecting him to share THEIR toys”) and I got to hang with all of my siblings at once. Score. Garrett did insist on sleeping with me three out of the four nights we were there, which kind of sucked because I’m not used to sleeping with a toddler because I’m a failure at all sorts of crunchy mothering. (No really. The only thing I’m good at is refusing an epidural. Long term sacrifice such as that involved in breastfeeding, cloth-diapering, cosleeping and a diet devoid of processed industrial foods is nearly impossible for me.) I’m just always afraid that I’m going to roll over onto him, or that he’s going to fall off the bed or suffocate in a pillow, and between the hyper-vigilance and the periodic kicks to the face and the mini-tantrum every time I annoy him (read: move or breathe) I don’t get much sleep.
It finally occurred to me on the last night we were there that if I withhold his “binky” until he actually lays down in his own bed and goes to sleep, he will be motivated to… actually lay down in his own bed and go to sleep. In other words I resorted to a form of torture that is likely restricted by the Geneva convention so I could have seven hours of interrupted sleep and I don’t feel bad about it at all.
ANYWAY. What’s got me totally stoked right now is that I was invited to be part of the launch team for Rachel Held Evans’ new book A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”. When I “applied” for the job, I totally didn’t think I’d get picked, because Rachel has a huge following on her blog and I’m sure many of her readers/commenters/friends are much more social-media-savvy than I am. Yet somehow fate smiled on me and I got to be one of the cool kids. I’m really enjoying the book and feel honored to be part of promoting it, even if my voice is kinda small.
Buuuuuuy the boooook. You know you want to.
The coolest thing about the launch team experience is seeing the publishing PR world from the inside out, and being part of a relational, grassroots effort. As a bookseller at Barnes & Noble I saw how certain books get on the NYT bestseller list through the concerted effort of savvy PR professionals. (I also saw what happens when Oprah features a book on her television show. I’m not sure if she’s changed her M.O., but back in 2006, she didn’t let retail outlets know ahead of time that she was going to turn a book into a megabestseller, which meant that we would sell out of certain titles in about 2.5 seconds, which created an even BIGGER demand. I think this is called the “iPhone approach” to marketing.) However, I don’t think that most publishers will throw buckets of advertising dollars after their latest offerings unless the author’s name rhymes with “even sing” or “cora snobberts.” As Michael Hyatt has noted time and again, in today’s world it’s the writer’s job to build a platform and get noticed. I think it’s great that Rachel has enlisted the help of people who already believe in her work and want to see her succeed because that means the shout-outs she gets all over the net will be genuine, and that makes a difference.
The second coolest thing about this experience is that I’m feeling really inspired as a writer. Nearly eight years of working for “the man” plus my massive mortgage payment and the sometimes exhausting responsibilities of caring for a kid and a half (and a passel of furbabies) has kind of worn down my passion as an artist. I’ve been focused on surviving and paying bills, and though I wouldn’t call my life one of “quiet desperation” I can see the existential crisis on the horizon.
Years ago I didn’t just want to be a writer, I believed I was a writer already – because I WROTE. Now I compare myself to “real” writers (you know, people who have more than four followers on their blog, people who have agents and book deals) and I have let myself believe that their voices are more important than mine. I’ve started to think that I don’t have anything to say – and that’s just dangerous. Because when you think you have nothing to offer, you shut up, and none of us should allow ourselves to be silenced.
It’s probably a good thing (and not a coincidence) that I’m feeling this fire of inspiration right before the month of November. I am going to put duct tape over my inner critic’s mouth and sit down at the keyboard and bang something out, because I don’t just want to be a writer, I AM a writer. I have a voice, I have something worthwhile to say, and I’m going to say it.
P.S. If anyone out there REALLY loves me and has $45 to spare, you could buy me a NaNoWriMo hoodie, because it’s getting cold outside and I love looking like a hipster.