Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just Another Day

Just when I think Michael’s OCD is just my imagination he does something crazy. Yesterday he decided to dust under the beds. I’m not kidding. He and Wagner have toddler-sized brooms and after they swept the hall they decided to sweep our room. That’s when Michael noticed the colossal piles of dust under the bed and took out the feather duster. It’s probably not the right environment for someone with sensitive lungs, but he was so into it! Granted, he didn’t do a very good job, but of course, I haven’t managed to do better in the three years we’ve been there and the kid is only two and a half years old, so I let it go.

Today I gave him a pair of his favorite socks. Last night he had to put his dirty socks in the hamper.

‘Those my favorite socks!” he reminded me.

“I’ll wash them tonight and you can wear them tomorrow.”

“Thank you!” he said with a broad smile. “That would make me happy.”

Meanwhile, Wagner is sitting in a box pretending to be a kitty cat.

It’s kind of like that scene in Parenthood where one cousin speaks Spanish and knows all her square roots and the other cousin likes to put a bucket on his head and run into the wall.

I must admit that I did not do laundry and wash Michael’s favorite socks. I was on Facebook. I’d feel guilty about that except that those aren’t really Michael’s favorite socks. Those white socks are from the Gap and are size 12-24 months which means they are too short to pull up over his knees. The socks that are from Children’s Place and are size 3 – 4 pull up over the knees, just the way he likes them. So the fact that I was able to offer Michael the socks he really loves instead of the socks he thinks he loves actually made me feel like a better mother than if I had just done what I said I would. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Last Day to Donate!

This is it. The Write On, Mamas Indiegogo campaign ends tonight at midnight. Which means that this is the last day of the Blog-off. I’ve blogged for each of the 35 days of the campaign and reposted on five different sites: the family blogA Band of WivesSheWritesWrite On, Mamas, and my writing journal.

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned over the last 35 days:

It feels really good to write every day.
I had some fun fiction posts in this blog-a-thon. This one and this one were my favorites. And I got to thank some people in a way that felt both public and private. As in this post and this post.

It pays to go out of your comfort zone.
I felt so sheepish posting on sites that had were part of a larger community. (Such as SheWrites or ABOW.) I just kept picturing cynical folk glancing at their left sidebar and rolling their eyes at my self-promotional posts. For all I know, cynical folk did roll their eyes, but at least they didn’t email me to let me know about it. Instead I became better acquainted with those saints of the Internet, lovely people such as Leila Radan, ABOW's cheif communications officer, who writes a comment on every single blog post on ABOW.

It makes a difference what time of day your blog posts.
This post will publish to my Facebook timeline at the exact worst time: midnight on the west coast. The best time is mid-to-late afternoon or early evening. That seems to be the time when friends are online and perusing. They comment, they remember. Sometimes they even donate. (Hint, hint).

Blogging takes up a lot more time than I thought it would.
This was really this only negative. The writing doesn’t take up much time (and if you’ve been following along these last 34 days, this doesn’t surprise you). But the formatting for different blogs, creating hyperlinks, remembering to tag each post, pretending to know what “SEO” means. I can’t wait to go back to not writing my memoir.

You never know who is reading and nodding and will decide to donate.
Three years ago, I spent Christmas in the hospital. Two years ago, my niece and I put together a fundraiser to give cozy blankets and fuzzy socks to other patients facing a holiday hospital stay, specifically (Depresser Alert!) terminal cancer patients at the hospital where my father-in-law was treated. We raised $1500. There were many friends and family whom I knew would donate. But there were so many others—random friends to whom I just sent an email to on a whim—who had their own stories and their own reasons for wanting to contribute. I was floored at their generosity.

This is the last day I’ll bug you. Got an extra Andrew Jackson? Or a handful of AJs? Go here. I promise you warm fuzzy feelings if you do.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just Two More Days

I love my Mamas!

Sunday, November 11th was our monthly Scribbles & Sips event at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts. We had a good group—about 16 Mamas turned out to hear Rachel Sarah discuss the challenges of putting our loved ones on the printed page. We also snatched up copies of Rachel’s book Single Mom Seeking.

We also talk about our writing projects, the Indiegogo campaign, our December party. There are exciting events on the horizon—a writing retreat in January and possibly another one in June. Of course we have our monthly meetings. I’m still working on some kind of weekly practice for the group.

Last year this time we met in conference room at the back of bookstore and we had just gotten word that we’d need to find a new venue for meetings. And a new name. And a new website.

So we did. And here we are. Thirty members strong. We’ve got an online community through Big Tent, a Facebook page, a website. Three of our mamas went to the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. We read at Lit Crawl. We even have matching t-shirts.

And now we’re going to publish an anthology.

It’s not to late to donate to the cause. Our campaign doesn’t end until Tuesday at midnight. At that point, we’ll collect the funds we’ve earned and pay a percentage to Indiegogo. Last week a small press that was already familiar with some of our writers learned about our new project. We’ll be meeting soon to see how we might join forces.

It was a good year. And not over yet! What will December bring?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Three Days Left!

Only three days left of the Indiegogo campaign to help fund our Write On, Mamas anthology!

“This is me in the rain and I’m smiling,” my five-year-old says about the stick figure with blue circles for eyes and red circles for hands.

“And this is Grandpa in the place that dead people go. And he’s underground. This is his tombstone.” She points to a little orange rectangle. A double arrow connects the little orange rectangle to a big, smiling stick figure in a big brown rectangle. There are crosses on either side of Grandpa’s head.

Thinking inside my Mama-skin, I conclude that my daughter’s self-portrait with Grandpa is an idea that had bubbled to the surface, instigated by the altarcito her kindergarten class made for the Day of the Dead. Nothing more.

But I file the idea away for a time when I write about a good man who has passed into the Afterlife, a man who watches over this wife of the last forty-seven years, trying to send her messages of comfort from beyond. He hangs out in the corners of rooms trying to get someone—anyone—to deliver a message to his wife, but everyone—his four grown children, their spouses, eleven grandchildren, including two grandsons who share his name—nobody takes notice.

Then one day he whispers to one of his granddaughters. She thinks it was her idea to pick up the crayons and draw a cemetery in the rain. She’ll show the picture to her grandmother when she comes to visit at Thanksgiving.

Grandma covers her mouth and puts her other hand on her heart.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Four More Days

Nine months ago we said, “Hey! Let’s publish an anthology of our essays!”

Eight months ago we found an agent who said, “I can help you do that.”

Seven months ago we put out a call for submissions and set a deadline for the first drafts. We planned to self-publish something by the end of the year.

Four months ago we broke into groups and exchanged feedback on our work and set a deadline for second drafts, which is when we realized we could use this opportunity to become better writers. We could raise the money we needed to hire the editors we wanted to shape a book we could be proud of.

Three months ago we met with a professional editor. We researched fundraising platforms. We talked to other folks who’d had successful online campaigns. We added up our editorial costs, our printing costs, the cost for a graphic designer.

Two months ago our website went live and we started posting our content. We made a video. We wrote a mission statement.

One month ago we started our Indiegogo campaign.

We’ve got three days to go before our campaign is over. At the time I’m writing this, we’ve got $5734 in contributions, plus some publishing leads that might make up for the fact that we’re going to miss our mark.


Look what you’ve done! That’s pretty good! the voices say. High fives all around! You should be very proud that you’ve done this well. Don't be too disappointed that you won’t hit your fundraising goal, the voices add. You’ve done a good-enough job. You can stop.

I get this feeling every night when I sit down to write. It’s late. I’m tired. And besides, look what I did yesterday and the day before that! I pretend it’s ok that I’m not pushing myself to write. But since it’s easier to think of something to write than it is to think up excuses, eventually I write.

Which means that I’ll keep writing and posting and tweeting for the campaign. Maybe you’ve been reading and thinking but waiting to contribute. Maybe today’s the day you click to donate. Maybe we’ll get closer to our financial goal.

Or maybe you didn't even make it to the end of this post. Maybe you gave up reading after the second paragraph.

That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I didn’t give up.

Three more days.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Five Days Left!

I’ve written about this before: Pat Schneider’s Artist and Writer’s Method and the workshop facilitated by Cary Tennis. I go on Thursday nights. A prompt is given. We write for twenty minutes or so. Those who decide to share, read what they’ve written. We reflect back—sharing what stays with us, what we see. Cary is hosting our first Write On, Mamas retreat, January 27, 2013 at the O’Hanlon Center of the Arts. Email programs [at] writeonmamas [dot] com for more information.

This is what I wrote tonight for the first prompt: “write about the death of a real or imagined person.”

There’s a tribe of Native Americans who practiced a custom in which the mother to carried her stillborn baby until his soul was safely transferred to the other side. The vital organs were removed and replaced with grass and she’d carry the tiny corpse in a sling that she wore night and day.

I know why this is so.

We always talk about the soul as if it is something that resides on the inside of a person’s skin. But really one’s soul is the radiance that is emitted, like rays of sun. And so a mother carries a child for nine months and his rays roll together with his mother’s, like sea air and the night fog. When he is born, he takes some of her radiance with him. And if he dies before he grows into his spirit, his mother needs to hold the body until she can reabsorb his soul back into her skin.

There are parts of the corporal body that are not matter.

This is what pulls Diana's shoulders to the ground, why she slouches. Why there is no color in her face. Why her jaw is weighted and drags down the corners of her mouth. They buried part of her soul when they put that little body in its coffin. They trapped it in that little pine box. On Sundays she goes to visit that bucolic place with the green hills and the large oak tree. Wisps of hemlock green waft into the air, like smoke escaping from a smoldering church. They find their way back into her body—through her ears, her nostrils, the pores on cheeks, the hair on her arms. She drinks in this lost life—not his, but hers.

This grieving process would have healed much more quickly had they just let her carry a corpse with a ribcage full of straw.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Six Days Left! (or five, I can't count)

This is not a parable. This is just something that happened to me in the last year and changed the way I behaved in my marriage.

I had this turning point in which I became aware of how often I blamed Matt. The recycling container is full. Yesterday’s mail is all over the dresser—along with the mail from the day before that and the day before that. The clothes are still in the dryer. Chiara has gone to bed too late. And on and on and on because Matt, let me tell you, is constantly fucking up.

Then one day—somehow because of something Gretchen Rubin said, something I can’t even remember now because I don’t want to give her credit for anything—one day I said to myself, “I am going to take out the recycling.”

And the next day I said to myself, “I am going to sort yesterday’s mail. And the mail from the day before that and the day before that.”

And the day after that I said to Matt, “I need to fold clothes. Will you help me?”