Monday, August 25, 2014

The reading and the end

Lately, I've had a rather difficult time controlling my temper. 

In fact, Lily and Jovie would probably ask that all available parties conduct an intensive search for my temper, because it appears I'm constantly losing it. 

(Perhaps I should tether it to me with one of those little elastic clippies that parents use to affix pacifiers to onesies -- as to prevent the the cataclysmic explosions that occur following pacifier loss. Or, maybe I just need a pacifier.)

I don't know whether it's that the girls are finding new and interesting ways to push my buttons or that I'm not getting enough sleep or that my lifetime stores of patience are dipping dangerously low or if it's a combination of all three. 

Either way, it's become an area of growing concern for me. I don't like yelling. I don't like throwing things on the floor or slamming my fist on the table. I reprimand my children for that behavior and I hate myself each time I fail to control my actions.  

My temper has become an unwelcome doppelganger in my life. And I'm starting to think that we shouldn't chide people for acting like a child, they watch us, afterall. Maybe they should be reprimanded when they act like a grownup.

So Friday dawns -- the day of my Big Reading for YorkFest's opening reception. I was not feeling especially excited about it. I felt worn out and moody, not to mention I had no idea what to wear. Then at some point in the afternoon Lily did something -- maybe shoved Jovie in the face or demanded something in a manner that made me feel like The Help (which she'd been doing all day already). Whatever it was, I lost it. Again. I screamed at her to stop screaming at me (such an effective method for conflict resolution) and then immediately felt like a troll. 

I did not feel like I deserved to have this great moment standing in front of a group of creative sorts sharing this dumb short story I wrote. I certainly didn't feel like I deserved the bouquet of flowers Brad sent me. I felt like I deserved to be hiding under a bridge somewhere, looking for goats to eat or something. 

Brad got home early to help with the girls. I figured out what to wear. Lily told me I looked beautiful.

We all headed to the gallery together. Lily and Jovie were the only children there (well, only children under high-school age). 

Hamming it up before I read.
As my nerves started jittering, my friend Becky walked through the door -- braving D.C.- and Baltimore-area rush hour traffic to share my night -- a complete surprise. When my nerves started getting extra jumpy, my sister Sarah walked through the door -- braving Baltimore-area traffic to listen to my story. When my palms started sweating, Jovie nuzzled my neck and patted my face -- Lily smiled at me from across the room. Both girls made the small weird noises that they like to make when they're in new places among strangers (Lily growls and Jovie sucked her hand -- as demonstrated at right), but they were such little nothing sounds. They were otherwise angels.

And just like that, it was my turn. So I put the day behind me. And I read an excerpt from "The Short Bonnie Life of Donovan MacWallace" (an excerpt because even my short stories are long) complete with ridiculous Scottish accent. 

Here's proof:

Hamming it up while I read.

And people laughed, which was the point. And even seemed to think I did a serviceable Scottish accent. Walking back to my family and friends I felt energized and excited and happy. And not just because of my bomb-ass third place ribbon ...

Hamming it up after I read.
... but also because I felt like I was part of this community of artists and writers. Like I was one of them somehow. Which was kind of surreal for someone who spends her days scraping crusted-on breakfast cereal off the kitchen floor and pretending to be Princess Twilight Sparkle. As I listened to the other amazing, beautiful, hilarious stories and poems, I felt really grateful for the opportunity to share the evening with such talented writers and inspired to continue creating. 

And I don't mean to sound overly sentimental or boastful or anything, but I have to say for my fellow stay-at-home moms and working moms and moms who do both -- it feels really nice to have a win now and then. Even when we don't feel so worthy of it. I'm not going to say that the night will solve the problem of my temper, but I will say it makes me feel less like a tool at my family's disposal. 

On Saturday Brad drove the girls up to his parent's house for the weekend. He thought maybe I could use a couple days to myself. He is very thoughtful, and right, as it turns out.

So for past two and a half days it's just been me, the cats and the dog.

He's really bored.

And my laptop.

And here's where I buried the lead.

Between Saturday and Sunday I wrote around 10,000 words for my novel.

And while it's still an extremely rough first draft.

I think it's finally a finished rough first draft. 

Which means after four years and 128 posts centered largely around writing about how I was never going to finish writing my novel ... I think I finished it.

("Phew," I can hear you say, "At least we won't have to here about that anymore.")

That's all I got, too.


Now excuse me while I go fold the laundry, mow the lawn, make dinner and wait for my family to come home. 

I've missed them.


    #2: A weekend alone? I can't even. I think Brad is very smart. And I hope it was amazing.
    #3: Of course you're a writer, an AMAZING one.
    #4: How could you not crop that scarily chubby-in-a-kind-of-looking-pregnant-but-isn't way person out of the right of that photo?! ;-)

  2. Joan -- you looked adorable. That color is lovely on you. Thanks for all the kind words -- and again, thanks for being brave and sharing your story. So inspirational. Knowing there was another first-time reader in the room made my job easier. Can't wait to see more of your work.

  3. You did it! You did it! Yay! When I can read? I am so excited for you. Also, Brad is perhaps the best husband on the planet.

  4. Beth - I have some editing to do. I promise to send you some chapters after though. Also, you're right. Brad is amazing. I'm a lucky lady.