December wrap-up (updated)

December 30th, 2008

I set some goals for myself this month, wrote them down and put them out there on the internet for anybody to see, goals that were, for me, pretty ambitious. The month is drawing to a close now and it’s time to check in and see how I did.

  1. I’ve got a poetry submission still pending – as of December 8 I’m allowed to inquire as to the status. I need to find a secondary market for this package so that if it’s rejected by the people holding it now I can turn it right around and get it out the door the next day. I’ve found the next journal for these poems, but I haven’t followed up on their status. I’ve never done that before and I’m not sure how to word the request.
  2. I have two poems that sit nicely together. They need a market and a companion. (Two poems is generally too few for a submission). I think I’ve found the market, but I haven’t found/written a companion piece. Updated to add: Actually, I think I do have a complete package here.
  3. I have a submission package ready to go out the door. I need a good cover letter and I need to just send it already. I’m holding back because I think this is a journal I have a good chance with – I mean, we feel like a really good fit – and I’d love to know about that pending submission I mentioned so that, if it’s an acceptance, I can put that in my cover letter. The fact that this journal’s reading period is open until May is not helping my inner procrastinator. I didn’t send this package out; still waiting to hear about some poems and now waiting until a prose piece that’s been accepted is actually published.
  4. I’m revising a prose piece to submit to Brevity. This, my friends, is hugely ambitious but it’s a good piece. A really good piece. Discretion is the better part of valor. This was an overly ambitious choice and I decided not to burn any bridges. Perhaps next year.
  5. I’m working on a prose piece to send here. Their deadline is 15 December. I sent it. And they’re going to publish it. I’ll let you know when it’s out.
  6. I want another poetry submission out the door by the end of the month. New or newly revised I don’t care. That would make a total of three packages out this month, which is low for somebody who actually wants to publish, but it’s three more than zero as my father would say. Didn’t happen.
  7. I have got to organize my market research. I’ve got lists and excel spreadsheets and journals and piles of sample pages from on-line archives scattered between desk and filing cabinet and computer. I did a lot of market research and organizing and it will make my goals for 2009 that much easier.
  8. I want to order sample copies from five or six journals, now that I have straightened out the disaster that was my US bank merging, or being acquired, and setting my account to “dormant” without, as far as I’ve been able to determine, actually telling me, resulting in my bouncing checks to no fewer than five literary magazines. Can you begin to imagine the horror of bouncing checks written to the very journals with which I hope to place my work? Can you? I straightened out my banking mess, wrote new checks to the journals I’d ordered off of the old checks, and sent for some additional journals as well.

A modestly successful month. I could make excuses, like the holidays, or the fact that my entire family threw up more than once in the week leading up to and including Christmas. Even the cat! But instead I’m just going to say that for somebody who is still new to all of this, for somebody who is still figuring out the writer-mother-wife-self balance, for somebody as thin-skinned and thrown off stride by “thanks but your work is not for us” letters as I am, I did fine.

I’m doing fine.

Postcard poetry

December 23rd, 2008

I’ve got a postcard haiku up at the cool site Postal Poetry. You can see my poem here.

Protected: The Letter

December 22nd, 2008

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Scenes from a day

December 18th, 2008

This morning on the way to Small Boy’s Gymboree class I see four groups with instruments and collection buckets leaving the Salvation Army headquarters.

* * *

The sidewalks are already wet and slush-covered; no more dragging the sled around the neighborhood.

* * *

At lunchtime the inevitable happens and Boychen falls off the ladder up to his brother’s bunk-bed; a fall of about one meter straight to the hardwood floor.

* * *

At the Natural History Museum Small Boy points to a set of jaws in a glass case: “Look, Boychen, that’s from a shark. Sharks can be dangerous but they don’t come on the land. They only live under water. They eat fish, and fish live in water, so sharks live in water too.”

* * *

R takes Boychen to the pediatrician, who does several neurological tests and declares “He was lucky.” We have to wake him twice during the night tonight.

* * *

On the way home from the museum Small Boy and I stop to pick up ingredients for dinner. He pushes the cart, puts in everything I point to, unloads everything at the cash register, and puts the cart away.

* * *

I run into an acquaintance who I hope will become a friend.

* * *

On the way home, we pass a Salvation Army band singing.

Clean slate

December 17th, 2008

We woke up to new snow, soft and white and fluffy. By ten a.m. I’d shoveled the front walk twice. Ordinarily that’s a Small Boy job, but he spent last night at The Farm where waking up to fresh snow is a new kind of paradise. I wish I’d been able to see his face when he woke up and looked out the window. In the afternoon I bundled up the Boychen, loaded him in our sled, and dragged him around the neighborhood. The sidewalks on the sidestreets hadn’t been cleared yet and the snow had been packed down by foot-traffic so they were perfect for the Davoser sled. Boychen was so bundled up he couldn’t move; he sat propped like a bag of flour in his little seat we’ve got attached to the sled. I couldn’t tell if he was having fun or not – he’s usually so expressive – and after awhile went back to the apartment. When I started to take Boychen out of the sled he began to cry and wave his padded little mittened hands at the sled, so I belted him back in and dragged him around some more. We just walked around the neighborhood; we didn’t go to any sledding hills or do any fancy tricks. I just walked around dragging my little guy behind me. I had so much fun. We just walked around the neighborhood and it was so much fun. I should remember more often how easy it can be to have so much fun.

Here

December 10th, 2008

Driving home in the dark from a Christmas-cookie decorating party, on icy roads with a light snow still falling, the car slides. Just a little bit. It is not serious; I am never out of control and I quickly right the car again. Ice crunches under the wheels. I keep driving.

I feel a tingling all over my body, a quickening of my pulse. A little skid is a whole different kind of scary with my happiness asleep in their car seats in the back.

Suddenly I am not elsewhere. I am here, where I want to be, and my hands are on the wheel.

Elsewhere

December 8th, 2008

I bring Christmas presents to the post office this morning, stopping along the way to recycle some glass jars and the first batch of aluminium that has been piling up forever because my husband and I, for all of our different virtures, share many of the same faults: procrastination, disinterest in many simple household matters, an out-of-sight-out-of-mind tendency and we do have the lovliest storage space for rendering the recyling invisible. After the post I visit the neighborhood organic butcher and buy beef for soup tonight; then to the whole food store where I pick up locally grown carrots still dressed in the dirt that nourished them. At home I feed Boychen lunch and do some laundry – bibs and face cloths, I am forever washing bibs and face cloths from the Boychen – and hang it outside: it is cold but there is sun that might bleach out the pureed carrot stains. I strap the Boychen into his Three-Wheeled-Bike-on-a-Stick and we head to the storage room where I gather an armful of Small Boy hand-me-downs. The Boychen is growing, I need the next size up. I am once again grateful that my boys are both winter babies and so sizes and seasons change in step. I throw the darks into the laundry, just a short cold wash to freshen them up, and vacuum, pushing the Boychen in his trike with one hand and the vacuum cleaner with the other. When he naps I make the soup, beef barley and the smell is filling the house now.

I try to find some virtue in this day, in the making of the soup at least, but I cannot. I am elsewhere today and these small domestic circles frustrate me. I think of a life in which I work a job – staff at a bookstore or waiting tables at The Three Bears in West Yellowstone, Montana – and return home to a little apartment where I pull on an over-sized fisherman’s sweater and read and write with a bowl of soup – yes, beef barley, I’ll carry the beef barley forward – at my elbow. It’s not hard to imagine. I’m a loner by nature and the simple chatter with customers would be, most days, enough to satisfy me.

These are the days that exhaust me, the days when alternate lives seem to step out from behind every tree; these days when they look good to me. Even with the smell of the soup, the soft hair of my sons, my husband stepping through the door there are days when those lives look so good to me. Then I feel like an animal in the zoo, pacing back and forth, and I look for the things in this life that would look so good if it stepped out from behind a lodgepole pine in West Yellowstone, Montana, and whispered to me as I walked home to my fisherman’s sweater and my soup.

But the truth is, I am elsewhere today.

Oh yeah, that feels good

December 6th, 2008

I feel so much better now.

The best laid plans…

December 5th, 2008

… probably never had children. Not my children, at any rate. I think I’ve had a sum total of 14 seconds to myself since I wrote this, so the December goals, they are not looking good. And there are things, writing related things, I didn’t even put on that list.

Sigh.

December

December 2nd, 2008

I meant to blog last night. I liked the way NaBloPoMo made me sit at the end of the day and think of something to recapture, something to convey. I liked the way it made me take the time, if only for five minutes, to think about what might have been inside my head that day. I meant to blog last night, but it was one of those days. And, since it was December first, I took the opportunity to fall onto the couch at the end of the day and watch the first episode of The Starter Wife, which just started on Swiss television.

I was thinking about my writing goals for the month, the goals I set out on my little sabbatical last week, and I’m starting to think about my goals for next year. I had a lot of goals for this year, poetically speaking, and I didn’t come close to the half of them. I lost a lot of the year to post-partum depression. Sitting here now, realizing it is December, realizing that my baby has turned one, I’m beginning to understand how much of the year I lost. I’m glad to be on the other side of it, and I’m ready to turn the page and be done with it. I think I need to sit for a day or two over the holidays, when R is around and I have the time, and process how much PPD really stole from me last year, but after that I am ready to turn the page.

I’m forgiving myself for all the goals I missed this year. I got by. My sons got by. My baby is thriving and looking at him nobody would ever guess that he started his life under a cloud of sadness. He is one of the happiest children I’ve ever known. His default setting seems to be “Wow! This life stuff is going to be so exciting!” I’m eternally grateful for that. My older boy – well, it was different for my older boy. He was old enough to know something was wrong, to see me cry, to understand all the different emotions that passed over my face. The PPD rolled off my baby like water off a duck’s back, but I think some of it stuck to my older. To my sweet Small Boy. I need some time to think about that.

I’m letting go of last year. I wrote some stuff. Some of it was good. Some of it was bad. Some of it got rejected. (Most of it got rejected.) Some of it got accepted. Under the circumstances, that’s maybe more than I could have expected. I’m looking ahead now. I’ve got a plan, a sense of how to move forward. Carolee – who’s mostly password-protected these days but I’m all about the link-love – has been posting her weekly or bi-weekly writing goals for a while now; it’s been motivating and enormously instructive in how to go about the practical side of submissions and market research and thinking about how to get there from here.

I’m not in a position to make weekly goals – I’m still trying to find the 12.5 hours a week I figure I need in order to achieve the bare minimum of what I hope to achieve. But monthly, monthly I can do. I’ve got quite a list for December. For somebody in my position it’s ambitious but I’m learning that falling short and forgiving afterwards brings me further than setting “realistic” goals that I acheive every time. So I’m aiming high. I’m sure some of you could tick tick tick off the following in a day-and-a-half but the thing about goals and ambition and what’s hard and what’s easy is that it’s all relative, conditioned on the life of the goal-setter. For me, for my life, this is a big list for a month.

  1. I’ve got a poetry submission still pending – as of December 8 I’m allowed to inquire as to the status. I need to find a secondary market for this package so that if it’s rejected by the people holding it now I can turn it right around and get it out the door the next day.
  2. I have two poems that sit nicely together. They need a market, and a companion. (Two poems is generally too few for a submission.)
  3. I have a submission package ready to go out the door. I need a good cover letter and I need to just send it already. I’m holding back because I think this is a journal I have a good chance with – I mean, we feel like a really good fit – and I’d love to know about that pending submission I mentioned so that, if it’s an acceptance, I can put that in my cover letter. The fact that this journal’s reading period is open until May is not helping my inner procrastinator.
  4. I’m revising a prose piece to submit to Brevity. This, my friends, is hugely ambitious but it’s a good piece. A really good piece.
  5. I’m working on a prose piece to send here. Their deadline is 15 December.
  6. I want another poetry submission out the door by the end of the month. New or newly revised I don’t care. That would make a total of three packages out this month, which is low for somebody who actually wants to publish, but it’s three more than zero as my father would say.
  7. I have got to organize my market research. I’ve got lists and excel spreadsheets and journals and piles of sample pages from on-line archives scattered between desk and filing cabinet and computer.
  8. I want to order sample copies from five or six journals, now that I have straightened out the disaster that was my US bank merging, or being acquired, and setting my account to “dormant” without, as far as I’ve been able to determine, actually telling me, resulting in my bouncing checks to no fewer than five literary magazines. Can you begin to imagine the horror of bouncing checks written to the very journals with which I hope to place my work? Can you?
  9. Can you?

Looking at it now it doesn’t seem all that ambitious a list even to me, the one who right now has a feverish child coughing in his bed and the bowl he vomited in sitting in the dishwasher. And yet I know it is. Ambitious. For me. Baby steps.

The Boychen walks now. He loves to walk just for the sheer pleasure of it. He’ll make it ten feet until he plonks down, then he’ll get back up and keep on going with a huge grin on his face. I’ve never seen anybody take so much pleasure simply from being ambulatory. So when I say baby steps, I mean it in the best possible sense. Teetering and tottering and landing on my butt but smiling every bit of the way.