My semester is over, and so school work happens at a much slower pace.  During the couple of hours everyday that Julia naps, I totally embrace the summer like I’m a 20-year-old coed, which means a lot of string cheese snacks and naps on the couch.  I think the last semester was extra trying on my rusty 29-year-old brain.  Seriously, can you believe that?  I’m 29 – TWENTY NINE YEARS OLD.  I’m officially at the age that I thought was, like, superly totally OLD when I was 15.  And maybe it’s the superly total oldness, or maybe the full-time parenting with two insanely energetic kids, combined with the brain aerobics I was working all semester, but I’m just fried.  I can barely make a sentence right now.  Type hard it be.

Just for fun – McGrumpfacerton

But if I’m going to make the next 50 years of my oldness less dusty and worth living, a girl’s gotta have goals.  So I’ve been working on a paper on the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca (1938) and the Hitchcock adaptation of the same title (1940), and early this morning at about 1 AM I submitted the final draft to an academic journal that focuses on work with a feminist perspective.  I’m so nervous and excited – I’ve finally started that long, damning slide into rejection after rejection that is academic publishing!

So all I’ve really done since my break is rewrite that paper, chop about 800 words from it, write a biography (it felt very pretentious – have you ever had to boild yourself down into about 100 words, in 3rd person?  tres weirdo), and discover Spotify.  You can just look up anything you’ve ever heard and play it.  It’s kind of amazing, and I’ve been in a Tears for Fears and Lisa Loeb 90’s coma all day.  I have an unironic, deep-seated love of the Tears for Fears jam “Head Over Heels,” and now Hazel does too.  Raising kids is all about nurturing those seeds, y’all.

So I’ll be back regularly now, although honestly we’re being very boring.  Hazel requested full-time preschool, so she’s gone everyday, and Julia sleeps almost more than her Uncle Nick, which is just barely possible.  It’s amazing and strange.  Mostly, then, I do work when I’m not staring at the wall in a post-graduate haze, and who really wants to hear me drone on about Hamlet and Donne and Moby Dick?

Of course you do.

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This morning I was talking to Hazel about my coming to her preschool to read a Dr. Seuss book in honor of Dr. Seuss Week.  She knows I work at home, or really go to school at home, but that’s about all she knows.  So, I said to her, “Did you know I’m a writer too?  That’s what I do right now – I read and write, and later I’ll teach other people how to do that.”

“Really?  You just write?  I want to be a writer when I grow up, just like you.”

Thinking how sweet it was to hear that, I said, “I can’t wait to read your books.”

“Hmmm, what do you write?  What kinds of books?”

“I write things about other books; I read them, then I write about them for other people.”

Laughing, she replied, “What?!  Who would read THAT?”

She’s a perceptive little genius, she is.  This little exchange made my day.


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It’s Never Too Early

With our current living situation (ahem – tiny apartment covered in white gray carpet that only currently houses about 1/3 of our worldly possessions), sometimes things to do evade both Hazel and I.  I’m nervous about messing up the carpet and having to pay for it, and I hesitate to set up any permanent play stations for several reasons.  After a while, crayons and washable markers, even these window markers I bought, start to pale somewhat.  We are outside everyday, for at least a couple of hours, jumping and swinging and sliding at the playground nearby, but our inside activities needed a boost.  Since Hazel loves to read, I decided we should try our hand at making a book of our very own.

I tend to become more regimented, organized, and clean when I’m feeling stressed, and our current situation stresses me out quite a bit, so I think Hazel sees me only in that role.  I’m constantly cleaning up this apartment; it’s just too small for any mess to exist if we’re going to walk around without breaking our ankles.  She’s too young to see my creative side; my taking photos and knitting are just things Mama does to her, I’m sure, and I don’t know how old she’ll have to be before she can understand the creativity that goes into the work I do at school.  It worries me.  I don’t want her to feel constricted, and so I thought this activity would allow her space to stretch her imagination, draw, work on numbers and letters, and help to focus her attention for a longer time on one activity.

She did not disappoint!  Her story evolves a bit over time, but the words are hers.  She is so proud of her little missive,   but not possibly more than I am!  This is SO going in her keepsake box.  I look forward to the day I can whip this bad boy out…maybe at her Pulitzer Prize award celebration or something 😉

Dear Santa

Tonight Hazel and I decided it would be a fantastic idea to write a letter to Santa Claus.  She’s very into Santa and Christmas trees right now, and when I broached the idea of writing Santa a letter in the mail Hazel was overjoyed.  Amos and I helped her out a bit with the content, but it should be pretty clear which sentences were Hazel’s idea.

It may be hard to read, so here’s a transcript:

Dear Santa,

Do you want to sing the ABC song?  Our neighbor has a statue of you.  I love Christmas!  I like jingle bells, Christmas trees, and Christmas lights.  Thank you for having Christmas.  Santa is my friend.

Love, Hazel

Underneath there you can see where Hazel drew “letters” for Santa.  All those zigzags are how she draws ABCs!  After that we sat down and had a nice chai tea.  She’s been expressing interest in drinking our coffee and tea lately (most of which is decaf).  We have let her have sips now and then, and tonight I gave her a little of my tea in her own cup.  It was adorable.

A Funny Thing Happened

I woke up with a goal in mind. Today, yes TODAY, I was going to finish up this proposal/research paper that has been hanging over my head like a guillotine.  The word limit was 3000-5000 words, and I have had 1300 words (all appendices and the introduction) finished for weeks now.  Research is piling up on my desk, with tons of notes and outlines, but I have been sitting behind the biggest writer's block of the century.  Add to that a sick baby for a week, meaning she stayed at home with me rather than go to the sitter, and my work time/desire has been shot.  Until last night, when I just shook myself and said, "Tomorrow.  DO IT TOMORROW."

So, after having a banana and some coffee at my desk this morning, I dove into the material.  About 6 hours later I hit "save" on the nice, neatly formatted 3900-odd words and started high-fiving my computer.  Seriously, I could have danced some kind of Irish jig if I had any Irish rhythm.  Not only did I finish with rough draft, with just minor stuff to add next week after one more interview, but I had another hour and a half at least until Amos and Hazel would be home!  WOOOO, SPRING BREAK!!!!!!!
To celebrate I decided to take a shower AND use a sugar scrub.  I know, it's like my own private honeymoon with myself!  After stepping into the special, awesome, Vera Wang, Amos-gifted robe that I can't wear around a baby, I thought a little apple wine might be nice while I let my hair air-dry.  I always let my hair dry for about 20, 30 minutes before using the blow dryer, so why not make that time special when I'm feeling so awesome, right?  Right!  My good friend Amy gave me two bottles of homemade apple wine last summer, one of which was chilling in the fridge for just such a moment.  I poured a glass and settled down at my computer to catch up on all my favorite blogs.
My phone rings from the kitchen.  I stand up, stumble into the hallway, and realize two things.  First of all, I'm walking down the hall bracing myself on either side with my hands.  Secondly, I'm walking like that because I'm drunk.  Like, druuuuunk.  Drunk-dialing drunk.  Mouth open drunk. Bangs are in my eyes and I'm not moving them because I don't see them drunk.  Yep.  And, being drunk, I think this is pretty funny.  
See, I kind of skipped lunch because I was in a writing fury.  And I kind of wasn't hungry because I drank 6 cups of not-decaf coffee today after breakfast.  Yeaaaaah.
All I can think is that I have GOT to eat and it has to be NOW because if Amos comes home and sees me I am going to be kind of embarrassed.  I blow-dry my hair, whipping that machine around (FYI, not all that fun if you're drunk), throw on a flannel, and careen down my crazy steep staircase, hoping to duck into the natural foods store below us and grab some kind of granola to soak up the wine.  I bust out onto the sidewalk and hear "It's Mama!!!!" from across the way.  I turn in classic slow-motion to see Amos and Hazel waving like adorable maniacs, mouths open and everything.  Of course he can tell something's up, and of course he pokes fun at me while we're in Tom's.  It's only when we get upstairs, and he sees how little is gone from the bottle, that he actually laughs so hard he has to put Hazel down before he drops her.  
The moral of this story is that if you have a cool husband he'll take you out for Mexican so you can sober up at 4 pm.

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Papers and other papers

My favorite part of being in school, second only to the readings (usually), is writing the big paper that generally comes at the end of an English class.  This semester, I have a paper due in my research class where I have to detail a critical analysis of one literary work using five approaches (like feminist, reader-response, etc.).  The other class, which is about teaching and assessing writing, requires a proposal that I honestly haven't even thought about – yet.

Anyway, I've started on this big paper now because the background reading and research is going to be fairly extensive.  For example, the sample paper our teacher put up is 14 pages long, with 3 of those pages being the works cited list.  Yeah – lots of reading!  I originally chose Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale as my title of choice, mainly for two reasons:  first, I love that book, and secondly, I have A LOT to say about it.  It's a complex, thoroughly enjoyable read, and I knew for sure I could get 14 pages or more easily.  
I sort of ran into a problem yesterday, though; I realized that one of our textbooks, which details various literary approaches and which we are reading slowly and not consecutively, has student essays on The Handmaid's Tale in the back of the book.  UGH!!  So, while my teacher gave me permission to go ahead with my paper as long as it was original, I just feel that it would be too close to some of the material to proceed.  
Today, mulling things over in the shower, I made a command decision – rather than let all my research up to this point go to waste, I am going to write a paper in hopes of having it published in an academic journal.  I have this idea about one aspect of the book that I haven't read any research on so far, so I think I'll keep going on my research as a side project.  How cool would it be to get something published?!  I'm pretty excited about it!
I'm going to use Passing by Nella Lawson for my class paper instead.  I know, if you're Laura Whitley & you're readinghis, we read both those books in Ingram's class.  What can I say?  I loved every book she assigned!  This book is fairly short, which is a bonus when you have a deadline, and not quite as famous as The Handmaid's Tale (the amount of work written about Atwood's book is staggering, to put it mildly), so perhaps I can come up with some original ideas and challenge myself a little more.

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