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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

An empty gift wrapped box

I listened to my son tell me he'd seen a video where a family wrapped an empty box because they couldn't afford presents. He was worried that would be us this year. His worries are not without basis. The credit cards are maxed with my surgery and awaiting reimbursement from insurance. There's a deductible that won't be reimbursed. There have been so, so many unexpected expenses this year. So there's just a lot we have to say no to. And that brings me shame at first if I'm honest.

No, you can't go ice skating.
No, we can't order from the fundraiser.
No, we can't go out to breakfast.
No, you can't have fill-in-the-blank.

And the shame is there. I feel embarrassed by all the things we can't do.

But then I think of all the memoirs I've read about people with tenacity and I know, in those stories, there were lean times. At lean times like these, the protagonist digs in. She saves for what's needed, does what's needed. The people in her life and the goal are what matter. She stays focused on those things, and is on top eventually.

I'm already on top. My kids have a great life. We talked about that. They will get to ski and ride bikes and swim. They have friends and family. We can go to the grocery store and buy any kind of fruit we want, any grain, any meat. I told him that 100 years ago, a Christmas orange was a real treat. We can, on the spot, listen to any song we want. I couldn't do that when I was a kid. It's a great time to be a human being.

In case you're worried, there will be presents. I bought a few things before any of this and I've got tricks up my sleeve. I'll pull quarters from all over and tape them to a roll of paper and take them to a pinball machine. They'll get presents from grandparents and it'll all be more than enough.

So I also told him not to worry, that there would be plenty of presents but that even if someday there weren't presents, we'd still have an awesome Christmas. I told him, we have all the important things.

And we really do. We have great people and love and health and a beautiful place to live.

It is Colorado gives day. This year, I can't donate. Maybe you can't either and that's ok. But if you can, there are women who are not safe, who need a place, who need help. There are people who don't have$50 for paying for stocking stuffers and there are those who do.

Consider donating

Thursday, November 2, 2017

My Own Kooky Mom

My mom moved to Colorado to be closer when I had my first baby. She moved here to help take care of him in time for my husband and I to go back to work. She retired in order to do this and loved her career as a veterinarian. I thought she'd keep working some part time but in the end, she decided she was ready to let her career go.

Except, she still holds on as a kooky animal person. She has 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 7 chickens. She has had as many as 9 chickens. Having a cluck of chickens isn't that odd, it's more the way she has hers.

When one of her chickens was attacked by a dog, she ran into the yard upset with Scarlet O'Hara-like intensity.


The chicken was terribly wounded. But my mother did not give up. Instead, she slept with the chicken inside her shirt with a water bottle.

Did I mention the chicken had a broken neck?

Well, it healed. Crooked.

The chicken's name is Sandy. But I call her Gobbles.

My mom does not appreciate my naming her beloved saved chicken Gobbles.

Sandy/Gobbles has been the best egg producer of the cluck. But the other bitches are jealous. They peck at her.

My mother is always upset at the injustice of the other chickens pecking at Gobbles. She rushes to her defense, swoops her up in her arms and kisses her. I'm not kidding.

My mother's church, a progressive Lutheran church filled with retirees, does a blessing of the animals every year. This year, my mother gave Gobbles a bath and brought her to church.

She just stopped by my house to tell me that one, she'd lost her phone which is why she just stopped by instead of calling, and two, Sandy/Gobbles is sick, her beak is hurt. She thinks the other chickens pecked it. Gobbles isn't eating. My mother is very upset about this. I want to be sympathetic but I just keep looking at her and going, "it's a chicken."

Meanwhile my mom still brings me eggs even though I'm a heartless asshole. She's gone home to forcefeed Gobbles in hopes that she returns to health.

If you think I'm weird, I'm just saying, I came by it honestly.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Insecure Writers Support Group

I just joined a group called Insecure Writers Support Group. We're supposed to post monthly about writing. I don't write much about writing, in part because I find that loop a little loony-making. Writing about writing aboutwritingaboutwriting. And in part because I find it a vanity exercise that writers seem to think that the entire world is so interested in the life of writers when, in truth, I find it a trope. So many other professions are far more interesting to me.

But I need to talk about insecurity. I'm driven to be honest and writing and parenting and insecurity all play into one another in my daily life.

Lately, I've had parenting moments where I felt like I've finally gotten it right. Where we've finally conquered my yelling problem, their compliance problem, and we're about to skate off into perfect family land. And isn't it lovely there? I can see it out of the corner of my eye.

I'm a successful writer there. I'm giving piano lessons to my seven year old. My five year old is reading. We laugh like mad while skiing on the weekends.

And truly things are good. But insecurity is very real and it crops up on a daily basis for me and I suspect for most everyone.

I had a bad moment the other day with the kids on the way to shuffle kids around so I could go support a rape victim at trial. I felt really bad and confessed my insecurity to my friend who was going with me. I was in the wrong with the kids. Just when I thought I had it all down. Lunches packed. Everyone dressed, teeth brushed, nails clipped, in the car, dinner in a crockpot cooking. I was just about to win the game of life for that day.

But because I was right there with my friend and confessed my screw up, we commiserated and I moved on. When my son was upset about it later in the day, it was easier for me to be the adult and not let guilt and my own feelings run the show. It helped to admit my minor struggle.

And I need to do the same with writing. I need to admit that on a near daily basis, I hide that I'm a writer because my work doesn't pay our bills. I don't proudly announce what I do often because I'm embarassed at my lack of financial success at it to this point.

I'm currently taking a break from my longer writing projects in order to focus on writing related things that seem more likely to bring in actual dollars to our home and which will then finance marketing and advertising that will help my books make money. I'm working on some of the more businessy things like courting reviewers.

None of these are the sexy, splashy, life-of-a-writer things I thought of when I read John Irving and thought if I just wrote a good book, I could running and figure out how to write more books. But they're what I'm doing.

We are scraping by on our bills so that I can keep at this thing. I'm committed. I've gotten good reviews in this week. But I feel insecure in writing sometimes. And if I fess up to that happening, I can be the adult who lets it pass, says it's okay to move on, and gets back to work.