21 January 2013


Wow. I came over here to post and I had to sign in. It's been so long since I wrote anything my blog has forgotten me.

I've been in a vacuum. Or perhaps cocoon is more apt. I've been spinning in the silk of daily life, wrapping myself up in the process of restoring my house to its natural order, or disorder, depending on the day.

When Mom and Pappou moved in we shifted Two and Three to rooms downstairs. When my sister Erin came in July and stayed, One gave up his space and moved downstairs to a curtained section of the rec room. When Mom's needs changed, Pappou followed the boys. It was a real guy's dormitory. So this month has been about shifting everyone back upstairs into real rooms with windows. I'm happy to say that project is almost finished, despite losing a significant amount of time to a flu-like plague that felled everyone in the house.

The beauty of cocooning lies in its singular focus. My need for physical order has distracted me from having to unspool the parcels of grief knotted inside me, small, rough packages lurking beneath the beat of my heart. But the hazard of languishing inside that protective batting is all outside noise, positive and negative, gets muffled and ignored. Nonetheless, I was fairly content to stay tucked away inside my domestic shell until my friend Colette Auclair cracked my chrysalis.

Colette and I met through a writing contest. Last year her novel THROWN was nominated for the RWA Golden Heart, which is a big deal in the romance writing world. She wrote me last week to tell me THROWN is going to be published in December as part of a three book deal with Simon and Schuster! Naturally, I was...well, depressed. I had a real moment of I have no mother, I have no book, I have no future--fuck-it, I'm staying in the cocoon. But a little time passed, some light filtered in through the rift and my perspective changed.

Over the years, we've purchased a few butterfly kits for the boys. The larvae fatten up and climb to the top of the cage where they attach themselves and spin a cocoon to await their metamorphosis. It's a violent process as the shimmering alien shells shake and twist, finally splitting to release the new creature inside. Not every butterfly survives and more than a few are injured, but every single larva heeds the natural directive to inch upward.

The need to publish isn't a biological imperative. But  I've created a story, I'm in the middle of revising it, and I think it's earned the right to finish the trek to the top. I've spent a lot of time fattening up and spinning, debating whether I want to muster the energy to write.

I do.

I think it's time to leave my cocoon.

04 January 2013

All for Four and Four for All

I don't usually make specific new year resolutions because I know it's impossible for me to pledge to do something EVERY DAY for the next 365 days. I'm more of a one-day-at-a-time gal. This is a good and bad thing. It means I have goals but I'm not so great with the nitty-gritty that helps me attain them. Or, I think of the details but I don't have great follow-through because there are so many other things crowding my brain, like keeping my children alive and in school.

However, inevitably the year comes to a close and I reflect on what I accomplished or, more specifically, what I did not. My failures always elbow their way to the front of the line ahead of my successes, so I mull those over for a few days before crafting a plan to:

- save money (always at the top of the list) so those kids can go to college and I can move to Montana

- lose weight and become more fit, but without actually leaving my house because who has time to drive somewhere and if I pay for a gym wouldn't that be counter-intuitive to the previous goal?

- interact more with the children in a fun, healthy way, which I'm sure would be so much easier if I had a ranch where we would spend loads of time outside in an idyllic electronics-free world

- make the children more independent, even though it takes twice as long to teach them to do something rather than do it myself


- for the love of Mike, write!

I can type these from memory because they're the same goals I have every year. I fail at most of them, some quite spectacularly (ask the Captain to show you the checkbook), others not so much. But this year I may just accomplish one of them despite my own shortcomings.

We were having our annual New Year's Eve party (family comes over, we play games, nieces and nephews spend the night, we feed everyone a big breakfast) and Four sat down on the couch next to me.

"Mom," he said, looking concerned, "I want you to help me."

"With what?"

"I want to be more fit. I want to lose this." He grabbed his ample stomach. "I heard that kids can die from being overweight and having diabetes, so I want to exercise and lose weight."

Now, we've never told Four he's overweight, but it's true. His body has changed dramatically over the past few years, which we believe is a side-effect of the medication he takes to control his impulsivity. We've taken him off the medication a few times with disastrous results, so we always chose his personal safety over the physical consequences. But he's been teased at school and he's become more aware of how he feels, so I guess he was ready to try and do something about it. And even though I haven't been willing to do anything about my own extra poundage, I would gladly wedge myself into spandex and walk across hot coals into Gold's Gym to endure the withering glances of the young and nubile if my Four asked, because he's special and I love him more than Almond Joy.

"Okay, honey," I said, "let's start tomorrow."

He smiled and trotted away and, sure enough, we started the next day. The Captain showed him how to use the elliptical machine and I dusted off an indoor walking DVD. For the past three days we've been walking a fast-paced mile, complete with side-steps, kicks and arm exercises. Yesterday, Nonni/ M.I.L joined us in the living room and I wish I could have simultaneously participated and observed from afar as the three of us tried to maintain the pace and not bump into one another. Have you ever seen that "Saturday Night Live" skit where Frankenstein, Tonto and Tarzan sing Christmas carols? It was like that, but with exercising.

This morning I kissed Four and sent him up the driveway to the bus. I told him to have a great day, and he reminded me that when he gets home we're going to try for two miles.

I resolve to be there.