Monday, June 28, 2010

Grandma News

After saying they wouldn't be there, Evan and Kristin and Teagan came to the shower yesterday. I was thrilled.

The highlight was carrying Teagan around, introducing her to friends and family. Teagan is, of course, a particularly beautiful baby, and she looked darling in a little yellow dress embroidered with tiny cupcakes. I even got to give her a bottle. (Kristin had expressed milk so she wouldn't have to breastfeed during the party.)

This grandma thing is a good gig.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Finding My Grateful Heart

As Dad tells stories, one of the things most present to me is how blessed we--his children--have been. Through intelligence and hard work and love and loyalty, he and my mother transmuted our lives. The timing of my nephew's text about the limousines was ironic, to say the least, and I couldn't stop thinking about the metaphorical distance between the childhoods of my father and my children.

Those of you who've been reading a while know that my former husband can be...difficult. And loyalty is not his strong suit. know. But the challenging things about him are not the whole of him. The truth is, he is part of the reason our children will never live in a boxcar. His intelligence and hard work have contributed to our family's journey.

Thursday morning, after a night of fitful sleep and constant thought-loops about all this, I called him. Very briefly (he hates to hear me talk) I outlined the story of the boxcar and the limo. And then I thanked him for his part in the safety and comfort our children enjoy.

He did not say a word. I waited a moment, and then said, "That's all I need to say. Just 'thank you.'" More silence. "Good-bye."

In a voice so tight you could feel his vocal cords vibrate, he choked out, "Thank you for calling."

We hung up without another word.

Friday, he called to ask me to find a way to get Evan fitted for a tux for a wedding in his step-family. "If I just ask him to do it, nothing will get done. Can you help?" After receiving the emailed measurements on Saturday, he called to thank me. He was gracious and kind.

We've exchanged more pleasant words this week than we have in some years since our divorce.

Now, I've been down this road long enough to know this isn't a storybook happy ending. We will not ride off into some rosy sunset. We will not hold hands around campfires, singing Kum Ba Yah. But it is a crack in the wall of bitterness and anger between us, an opening in my own heart as well as his. Because, as much as I've worked on forgiveness, as much as I've tried to let go of resentment, the best I've ever managed is a shaky kind of inner detente. I may not dwell on the old anger, but I certainly leap to new irritation when his present actions confirm my beliefs about him. And the thing is, Anais Nin was right. We see things not as they are, but as we are.

A grateful heart is a fine filter through which to see the world. I'm working on it.

Photo courtesy of Haiyen

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Buster Brown Gets Busted

So, get this. Grandpa and Uncle Forest were driving their truck through a small town in Indiana when some sort of incident stopped traffic. They were sitting in a railroad crossing, waiting for the problem to be resolved, when they heard a train in the distance.

Uncle Forest (not known to be a tactful sort) jumped out and screamed at the driver of the truck behind him to back up. The driver, who must not have heard the train coming, took exception to Forest's language or his tone or his attitude. He backed up, but only a few feet. Forest backed the truck as far as he could, trying to maneuver around the other truck. When the other driver recognized what was happening, he leaped from his truck and ran for cover.

Forest was still trying to get his truck off the tracks when the train hit them. Grandpa, snoozing in the sleeper, was oblivious to the situation until the train hit the cab. After that, he was oblivious to everything for a while. Family legend has it that Grandpa's habit of sleeping with one pillow beneath his head and another over his face was the only thing that saved him. I have trouble seeing how a pillow protected him from a 150-ton locomotive, but maybe that's just me.

Anyway, Grandpa sustained a concussion and an impressive assortment of bumps and bruises. Shorty, Forest and Grandpa's guard, was not seriously injured. Forest was trapped in the burning truck. Good Samaritans finally managed to free him, but his body was broken and badly burned. After a week or so in a local hospital, he was transferred to a larger hospital in Indianapolis, where doctors amputated his leg to save him from the gangrene that set in.

Here's what I want you to picture: Grandpa and Forest were carrying a load of Buster Brown shoes. The train dragged the truck nearly three-quarters of a mile before it got stopped. The impact ripped the canvas cover off the back of the truck and scattered shoes for almost a mile. As darkness gathered, townspeople scuttled over the tracks and through the ditches, trying on shoes.

That just knocks me over. There, in middle America during the heart of the Depression, some of those people probably hadn't had new shoes for years. A shower of Buster Browns must have seemed like manna raining down from Heaven.

Can you see it? A crumpled truck. A derailed train. Flashlights dancing on the ground like fireflies as people searched for matching shoes amid the smoking wreckage.

Damn. Somebody ought to write a book.

photo: Jeremy Brooks on Flickr

Friday, June 25, 2010

From Boxcars to Limos

Working in the basement again last night, Dad was telling me stories of his life. Some I knew. Others I'd never heard.

Before Dad was born, his mom and dad and two older brothers lived in an abandoned boxcar for a while, probably during 1929 or 1930. Grandma baked pies and made sandwiches that Grandpa and his brother sold to men working in the train yard. Grandpa must have rigged up some kind of metal box Grandma could bake in over a campfire, because she sure didn't have an oven in the boxcar. Or a sink. Or a bathroom.

Eventually, Grandpa got a job driving a truck for Globe Cartage, and they were able to rent a small house. Times were so desperate that driving loads of valuable cargo--cigarettes and liquor--required two drivers and an armed guard. Grandpa and his brother Forest took turns driving/sleeping in the sleeper cab, and their guard Shorty slept in his seat with a shotgun in his lap. They once were highjacked, a story I'll write in detail later. That job ended when the truck got hit by a train, badly injuring Grandpa and costing Forest one of his legs. Grandpa used his $700 insurance settlement to buy a house, the first he ever owned.

While Dad was telling this story, my nephew sent a blast text to the 116 people coming to his Caribbean-themed wedding shower on Sunday. Not enough parking is available in my sister's neighborhood, so they've arranged permission to park at a nearby school. Limos will carry guests from the parking lot to the catered party, which is being held poolside.

He has no idea about the boxcar. His is a limousine life.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Come On In

As we were growing up, Dad sometimes sang while he worked around the house. More often, he "barked," in the sing-song, cajoling tones of a carny. "A winner every time for only a dime. One thin dime, a winner every time. Come On In."

Dad's father chased success from the bottom of an Iowa coal mine to the hills of Snohomish County, WA and back across the hills of Missouri and the farmland of southern Iowa. His favorite book was Think and Grow Rich. He never stopped believing his next idea would be The One. Handsome and charming, he could have been successful at most anything if only he'd stuck to it long enough. But no matter what he was doing, when some other idea glittered in the distance, he chased its sparkle, with his wife and five children bumping along behind him.

Dad was 15 when Grandpa dragged the family from St. Louis, Missouri to Bothell, Washington, where he started building houses. They nearly starved for a year or so, but Grandpa built good, solid houses, and his reputation got around. In 1946, babies and houses were booming. The family loved Washington, and they had a little disposable income for the first time in their lives. Until....

Grandpa came home one day and announced that he'd bought a cookhouse and some game booths and committed the family to traveling with a carnival. Dad and his brothers argued. His sister and mother cried. But in the end, they packed their belongings into a 1.5 ton 1941 Ford truck and struck out for the MidWest. For two years, they lived in that truck, cooking over a campfire and bathing in ponds or creeks. "Hot and Good and Good and Hot. Come On In."

Grandma and Grandpa cooked hamburgers. Well, to be more accurate, Grandma fried hamburgers inside a steaming tent under the summer sun of Iowa and Missouri. Grandpa stood outside, luring people to the counter. "Half a Cow on a Bun for One. Come On In."

Dad ran a string game. "Oh, these strings. These lucky strings. One thin dime. A winner every time. Come On In."

After that first summer, Grandpa rented a dilapidated old house and garage in Exline, Iowa for the winter. The garage gave him a place to work on the equipment he was building for the new and improved carnival he would roll out the following summer.

Mom lived in Exline. She and Dad met in school. The rest, as they say, is history.

Cleaning out the basement yesterday, Dad picked up a worn wooden stool. It had come, he said, from the carnival cookhouse. When they finally quit the carnival, his mother wanted nothing from it, so Dad gave the little stool to my mother's mother, whom he adored. Mom's mom used it in her kitchen and on her porch until her death, and then Mom's dad continued to use it. Dad claimed the little stool from the junk pile when Mom and her brothers and sisters cleaned out their father's house after his death.

And now it's mine. "Every Time You Play, You Win. Come On In."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Unlikely Angel

Walked into Mom and Dad's house yesterday and followed the sound of the shop vac to the basement. Found Mom on her hands and knees, sobbing as she sucked up sawdust from under a large piece of woodworking equipment.

"What are you doing, Mom?" I asked.

"I've got to get this cleaned up. Your dad's got someone coming here tomorrow to buy all this stuff," she answered.

I asked what stuff she meant, and the whole story tumbled out. Over the last few months, Dad has asked each of us if we wanted any of his woodworking stuff. Each of us has answered in some vague, "I don't know what I'd do with it" manner. What we meant was, "We want your stuff in your shop where it belongs."

Dad, you see, is a woodworker. Through the years, he has built tables and chairs and cabinets for Mom and for each of us kids. But the real treasures that emerged from his workshop were the toys. Each of his grandchildren has toys the likes of which most people have never seen. Each girl has a handmade miniature Queen Anne dining table and chairs along with a matching china cabinet. Both boys have drop-leg desks. Each child has a rocking horse. Each child has cars and trucks and tractors. Evan has dinosaur pull toys. Katie has a dog pull toy. Now adults, the kids have pieces of their grandfather's love to share with their own children. And their grandchildren after that.

Dad has not been able to work in the shop for quite a while now, and it's been on his mind. "I am not leaving this mess for your mother to deal with," he said yesterday. "It took her brother five years to take his wife's robe off the bathroom door. What in the world would she do with the tools I collected over a lifetime?"

And so, Dad placed an ad in a woodworker's forum. Someone responded immediately, of course. Dad made arrangements to sell all his equipment--the table saws and the band saw and the joiners and planers and the drill press--for mere pennies. More painful to me and to Mom, he planned to give the man all his hand tools. The big equipment I could stand, but not the Jorgensen wood clamps, daubbed with glue and stain from decades of use. Not the brace and bit--one of the first tools Dad owned. Not the hand plane or the chisels or the calipers. Not the things he wrapped his hands around as he worked his magic. Not the things that the bear marks of his living and his loving.

Just before I arrived, Dad had run to the store for a bolt. Mom was in the shop alone, vacuuming and sobbing. She did not want to let these things go. We talked and cried. I promised to keep this thing from happening, grabbed my phone, and drove home to make calls in private.

My brother doesn't want the tools and didn't have time to talk about it. My nephew got defensive. In desperation, I called my former husband.

"Don't let him sell his tools to a stranger, Jerri," he said without hesitation. "I'll buy them. Whatever the man offers, I'll pay more. I'll drive down and pick them up. I'll come whenever he wants. Please, don't let your dad's things just disappear. At least, if I have them, they're still in our family."

We've been divorced for 16 years.

Bill has a full shop at his home. He has no actual need for a single one of these tools. For him, as for me, it is simply too much to think of Dad's things in the hands of a stranger.

When I thanked him, and Bill said, "I love your dad. I always have. And I respect him as much as anyone I ever knew. I don't want strangers to have his tools."

When I told Mom and Dad that Bill wanted the tools, they both broke down in tears. Dad called the man to cancel the appointment. He sobbed as he explained that his kids wanted his things to stay in the family.

Mom picked up the phone twice yesterday afternoon to call Bill to thank him. Both times, she ended up crying so hard she hung up before she could finish dialing. She plans to try again today.

The growths in Dad's good lung are growing. He's having a PET scan on the first and we'll get the results from that as well as a battery of other tests on the 12th. He's known this for a couple weeks but didn't tell anyone until yesterday. All this flurry of activity, this press to get rid of his things is his way of trying to soften the blows headed toward us all.

Please pray or hold him in the Light or simply hold space for the great heart of this good man.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Goose, Goose, Grey Goose

The noisiest goose in the world has lived on our pond for three years. The goose wars drove off all the Canadian geese, but this lone grey goose stayed. It honks at all hours of the day and night, the loudest, most plaintive cry I've ever heard from a fowl.

Seven weeks ago, her silence woke me in the night. Her cries had waked me at least once a night for three years, so her silence was palpable and a bit alarming. A few days later, a glimpse of her at the edge of the pond reassured me. In the last two or three weeks, I've neither seen nor heard her. Yesterday, my neighbor happened to be outside when I was out with Cassie, and I asked her about the goose.

"Oh, she's here," Carolyn said, pointing to the corner.

That poor goose has been sitting on a nest of eggs for seven weeks. She's now rail thin and cannot manage even a bleat. I got fairly close to take this picture. Her beak opened. Her tongue fluttered. No sound came out. She is literally dying to become a mother.

I recognize her desperation.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This Is Not the Story You Think It Is

Laura Munson is one of us--a seeker and a thinker; a wife and a mother. She is a writer, one who had not found her way to being published despite 20 years of dedication, 14 completed novels and reams of "good' rejection notes in her office.

And she decided to stop suffering. Just in time, too. When her husband announced he no longer loved her and may never have loved her, she was given an opportunity to practice non-suffering. A big time opportunity.

Munson says, "It is possible to commit to non-suffering in a time of crisis. To let go of outcome. To truly live in the moment as a way of survival, not just as spiritual preference or practice. When we are living like that, we are living in freedom."

As a writer, Munson did the only thing she knew to do in this uncharted territory: She wrote her way through it. On August 2, 2009, her essay "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear," was published in the NY Times "Modern Love" column. The response almost crashed the paper's servers--they had to shut down comments to slow the overload. Within 48 hours, Munson had a contract for a memoir, a book she had written as the story unfolded. "This Is Not the Story You Think It Is" was published in April, 2010.

Munson's book is worth reading. And rereading. And reading again. She is a woman who lives her belief in people and principles. Despite her husband's "dis-affection," as she calls it, she loves and believes in him. Despite 14 unpublished novels, she believes in herself as a writer. Despite the tidal pull of anger and bitterness and reactionary choices, she believes in the freedom of choosing not to suffer. She doesn't paint this as easy or herself as a saint. She simply keeps putting one foot in front of the other on a path to peace.

Her path did lead her to peace and to being published and to living the life she imagined.

Long may it wave.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Unexpected Pleasures

Driving home from MN yesterday, I stopped in Des Moines for lunch and wifi to catch up with work a bit. Settled in with my ice tea and an electrical outlet, I zoned into the rhythm of work correspondence.

Katie called, just to check my progress on the drive, to make sure I was safe. When she makes the drive, I ask her to check in at the quarter, half, and three-quarter points. I feel better knowing where she is on the road, knowing she's still safe. She now asks the same of me. This slight shift in our relationship brings tears to my eyes. She feels protective of me, too.

Just before the three-quarter mark, Katie calls. She is at her second job and struggling. For the last two months, she has worked noon to 4:00 at her new corporate job and 4:30 to 11:00 pm (or later) at her old room service job at the hotel, four days a week. Fridays she works only at her corporate job. She is tired beyond tired.

She is, she says, thinking of turning in her resignation at the hotel. When I ask what the benefits are, she breaks into tears. "I just can't do it anymore," she says. We work through the list of "pros" and then the list of "cons," and she makes a decision.

"I knew you'd help me think clearly," she says.

20 miles pass before she texts: "Thanks for the guidance, Mom."

At dinner with just the two of us last Friday, I reminded Katie that I am, always and forever, radically on her side. This sometimes means telling her hard truths, but mostly it means helping her hear herself, helping her accept what she already knows.

I wanted babies and children so much. I looked forward to all stages of my children's childhoods. I looked forward to being a grandmother. What I didn't anticipate was the pure joy of being a witness to their emergence as adults.

It is monumental, this joy. And all the sweeter for having been so unexpected.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Very Good Day

We bought Katie's wedding dress yesterday.

The wedding dress store is housed in four older homes in a beautiful part of St. Paul. We had a dressing room and an assistant to ourselves. The assistant pulled a curtain across half the room while she and Stephanie (Katie's maid of honor) helped Katie into each dress. When they were set, they pulled back the curtain to reveal the loveliness.

I cried every single time.

The sixth dress was THE one. Everyone in the room--Katie's prospective mother- and sister-in-law, Stephanie, me, the assistant, and Katie--knew we'd found it. And wonder of wonders, it was within my budget and available in plenty of time.

In the evening, we were invited to Craig's aunt and uncle's house, a truly gorgeous home on Crystal Lake in Minneapolis. Their yard is so beautifully maintained it looks like a park, and their house is stunning. Not enormous exactly, but spacious and gracious and comfortable. We had wine and rustled up some simple food. We talked and laughed and cried.

Dianne, the aunt, recently lost her mother. When we talked about her mother's death, Dianne told a lovely story about Katie and Craig. When they heard the news, the kids showed up at Dianne's and started getting ready for the activities that were sure to follow. They went to the grocery store and liquor store and Target. They got ice and toilet paper, two things you always need when a crowd gathers. They ran errands and answered phones.

"I feel bad that I've never written them a thank you note, but how do you thank someone for that?" Dianne sobbed.

Later, I pulled Katie aside and told her how proud that story made me, how much I love her. She hugged me and smiled, and we went back to the group. Later, as we were clearing the table, Katie stepped close and put her arms around me.

"I didn't think anything about the things we did that day. You show up. You do what you can. You help. That's just what we do. That's who you raised me to be, Mom. It's what you taught me and showed me all my life."

All in all, it was as good as day as any one could ever hope to have.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Navel Gazing

Got to hold the baby for a little while yesterday. She's so beautiful. Evan and Kristin were squabbling and tense when they brought her over. For me, all that disappeared the moment I pulled T from the car seat. We walked and rocked and sang. I read Good Night Moon. It was all good.

And can we talk about what the miracle of the belly button? Both my kids had belly buttons before we met, so I've never watched that transformation. T's stump kind of scared me when she first was born. It was black and had a weird texture. That clamp looked fierce, and I didn't know what to do with the top edge of her diapers when I changed her.

Now she has the most beautiful little navel. It's amazing to me that belly buttons simply right themselves over time.

Lots of things work out unto good when we give them enough time, light, and air.

Something I need to remember.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

No Answers

At 6'4" and nearly 300 pounds, his body is not built for blending in. His clothes do not help: a Mizzou golf shirt with bright gold stripes from his underarms to his waist. From the moment he appears in the cafe area of Barnes and Noble, he seems to be trying to fade into the background.

Mizzou-guy doesn't bother with coffee or even a cookie. He picks a one-person table and shifts the chair to position himself behind a nearby column, facing the back of the store. He takes off his glasses and sets them on the table, then opened the hot-rod magazine he carries. He can't see the magazine with the glasses and can't see the object of his attention without them, so he reads a moment, puts the glasses on to check whatever it is, then takes the glasses off to read. Periodically, he leans a bit more to the right, putting more of his body behind the column, and then peers around it toward the back of the store.

Fifteen minutes into this peculiar dance, Mizzou-guy leaps to his feet and practically runs toward the back of the store, abandoning his magazine. His belly, hanging down at least 5 inches over his belt, ripples from the sudden movement, something like the water in a pool after a teenage boy's cannonball.

What or who was he watching? Where did he go? Why is a tired looking, middle-aged man hiding in plain sight in the cafe of a suburban bookstore?

I'll never know, but I've got the itch to make up a story for him.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

When the Rainbow Isn't Enough

At a coffee shop the other day, I met a lady dressed--head to toe--in yellow and orange. From her feet to her ears, she matched and coordinated: yellow and orange caftan, orange earrings/necklace, yellow bracelets and watch, amber rings, orange shoes, orange and yellow purse. She seemed to be 80 or so, and the vibrant colors washed out her pale skin and hair. She looked like she was wearing a "costume" instead of an "outfit."

She saw me observing her, so I smiled and said, "You have such an eye for accessories."

Thrilled, she explained that she saves time by choosing a color theme for each week. On Sunday morning, she enters her walk-in closet, which is organized by color and laid out like a rainbow, and picks the week's theme. Then she selects her accessories for the week and the week's first outfit. For the next six days, all she has to do is choose an outfit from the right section of her rainbow--she wears the same accessories until she "resets" the following Sunday.

I wanted to hear more. Not just how she does this, but why. What is the story of an 80-year-old woman who can't go outside her bedroom without perfectly matched jewelry, shoes and purse? What chaos is she holding back with her rainbow? Does she see herself or only all the colored plastic?

She was meeting a friend, who arrived while we were talking. Otherwise, I might still be sitting there, asking her questions.


Saturday, June 05, 2010

A New Song Waiting

I saw Letters to Juliet last night. The story was just as predictable as expected, but I loved the movie. I may go see it again today and will surely buy the DVD. Not for the story, but for the chance to see the hills and valleys, the trees and hillsides, the golden glow of Tuscany.

I am meant to go to Tuscany some day. I'm interested in many places in the world, but only Tuscany calls to me in the night. Something waits for me there, and when the time is right, I'll find my way to it. This, I know.

On Thursday, I worked from 6:00 am to 2:00 am Friday. I did go to a local coffee shop for a few hours of the marathon, but mostly I sat in a chair with my nose pointed toward the screen of my laptop and the deadline in front of me. This is of no particular importance other than this sort of leaden lumpiness is the exact opposite of the feeling I have for Tuscany.

As I knew it would, the scenery of Tuscany lifted me, gave me a frisson of my favorite feeling in the world, that of being in alignment with the Universe. It has happened to me a handful of times, always when I've stepped beyond my normal boundaries and risked something, always when I've followed my heart to places my head would not lead me.

Maybe it's because being in alignment is about vibration and sound is a vibration, but every one of these experiences has a sound track, a song so present I feel as much as hear it. I've written here about the 4th of July I rented jet skis and screeched across White Bear Lake, screaming along with Tom Petty's voice in my head...and my bones and my heart. "I'm falling...."

Lindsay Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac reverberated through the Wrangell Mountains, telling me to "go my own way" as I meditated on a rock in the middle of an honest-to-God tundra during a break from a bike ride across Alaska.

Kenny Loggins boomed from my radio early one morning, assuring me I was right where I belonged as I rounded the curve down to the harbor of Duluth, MN. The man I was dating was running Grandma's Marathon, and I got up that morning wishing I could see him cross the finish line. The kids were at their dad's house for the weekend, and I rattled around the house a bit, vaguely dissatisfied and sad. As though my fairy godmother touched me with the wand of understanding, all at once, I realized I could go, I could just get in my car and drive there. It was a revelation, a recognition of freedom.

I had only the vaguest idea of where Duluth was (north), and no idea where the marathon was actually run, but I followed the highway signs 154 miles, got off on an exit that "felt right," and parked in a church parking lot. The first person I passed was kind enough to explain that the path of the race turned for the finish line about two blocks away. "Right where you belong," Kenny echoed in my head.

Everyone I passed smiled broadly and went out of their way to be kind and helpful that day. It might have been because I was the only woman in the crowd dressed for a tea party: a beautiful steel blue linen dress with buttons the color of old pennies, ankle socks and shoes to match the buttons of the dress. Oh, and a flower on my lapel. And a copper-colored straw hat. Even so, I think it was because they could see or sense that I felt at home in my own skin, sure of what I was doing. Free. Holding the tail of a cosmic kite.

I didn't recognize my love crossing the finish line--not consciously, anyway. But I did cheer and hoot and holler for strangers accomplishing this tremendous thing. And I made friends with a family sitting next to me on the street. Together, we wandered the street fair down by the harbor and ate snow cones. It was one of the most wonderful days of my life.

The scenery of Tuscany in "Letters to Juliet," evokes sense memories, a phantom hum throughout my body. Not Tom or Lindsay or Kenny, but a new song waiting to be heard, a new adventure waiting to be lived.

My jar is open. Time to fly. I can't swing Tuscany right now, but next weekend, I'm going to Duluth.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Point of View

Read an essay in which a writer describes writing the same story from several different points of view, just to get down the details. Then she actually writes the story.

The story I submitted, the one I've been obsessing over, is the story of the day I met Katie's birth mother. Most of it was posted here at the time. It's written in first person, as it was lived.

By that, I mean--I didn't give a thought to what was in Nancy's mind as she walked up to or through my front door. I wrote about my nerves, my self-talk. I did not mention hers because I couldn't. I have no idea what it was.

What an exercise it would be to write that day in third person, to put on the hat of omniscience and imagine the view from the far side of the mother equation. Of course, it would be pure fiction. But, in its own way, so is the story I wrote, which kind of presumes that mine was the only heart breaking that afternoon.

Damn. AFGO*

*another freaking growth opportunity

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Glimmers of Hope

Since mid-May, every morning, I've logged onto my account at the literary magazine where I submitted my story. Every morning, I steel myself for what I will see. So far, all I've seen is "In Process." I choose to see it as very good news that they've had the story for over a month without rejecting it.

Last night I read an interview with one of the magazine's editors. She says she reads the first page of every story submitted, right off the online system. She responds right away to the immediate "NOs." She marks others for continued reading, and then weeds out a bunch more from that stage. Some, she prints out and reads in full. From that group, she passes on a smaller number to her co-editor, who winnows down further.

From this, I deduce that my story was not an immediate "NO." I base this on nothing but supposition. And ego. Let's not forget ego. But seriously, it seems likely, after five weeks, that she surely has read at least the first page and judged it worthy of further consideration.

Evan and Kristin went home Sunday. Kristin is not supposed to be doing the stairs yet, but they were very anxious to get home. They actually stayed here only a few days, and then Kristin went to stay with her grandmother. We had no drama, and no cross words. They just left. I haven't seen Teagan since Saturday. Katie drove 1000 miles to be here for the weekend and saw the baby for a total of 30 minutes.

Teagan has not yet worn even one of the outfits I made for her. In fact, Evan and Kristin haven't taken a single piece of it home with them, not even the quilts. When I tried to pack those pieces up for them, they said, "No. She's going to need some things here." I choose to see that as positive, an indication that she will, in fact, spend some time here.

Every day, I log into the magazine's system and see I haven't been rejected yet. Every day, I am relieved and happy for an instant before reminding myself not to get too comfortable. Just because I haven't been rejected doesn't mean I won't be.

And so, I wait to see what will happen.

In process.