It's the day before Thanksgiving and I'm hanging out with Luke's family. Well, not right now, because I broke away to have some writing time, (it always begins with blogging and email) but I'll hook up with everybody again tomorrow. I need my space, I need my time, and I'm a much happier girl if I can breathe a little bit before throwing myself back in the fray. Tomorrow will be a fun day with happy little cousins and food and chaos and a family talent show, and it'll be great, but for right now, I need solitude.
Anyway, I had a 61-word piece come out yesterday! I talk about it here.
Also, I'm working on my demon story again. One of the characters (Surprise!) has Williams Syndrome. It worked its way in, and it feels completely natural to me. I didn't think, "A ha, this would be a wonderful chance to showcase Williams!" But art imitates life just as life imitates art, and it's such a big part of my life that it only makes sense that it would show up somewhere. So hooray. I hope that if/when you guys read it, it will be something that we can all agree is right and true and does it a semblance of justice.
I had this utterly bizarre dream today. It involved riding in the back of a van with a sporadic driver, and Riley, Luke, and I were back there. Riley is my lanky brother, FYI. And we were trying to get this seat belt around Riley because he'd go sprawling, limbs a-flying, whenever this driver would stop short. And Luke starts singing "The Boom King" song from Flight of the Conchords, and I was joining in because hey! Flight of the Conchords! Then the phone woke me up, and I was all, "??!!"
Because. Weird. But at least I'm concerned for Riley's safety, apparently. Got your back, bro. :P
So! I had a poem go up today! I linked you to it from here.
It has been so insanely busy here, no joke. We just had Young Women in Excellence (I work with the 12-13 year old girls in church, and YW in Excellence celebrates the girls. There's a medallion they can earn that is kind of the equivalent of the Eagle Scout for boys.) and I played the piano for it, as well as making over three dozen caramel pecan rolls. Every night for the past two weeks, I have two or three meetings taking place at the same time. Tonight at 7:00 I have a NaNoWriMo write-in, a leadership training meeting, and my writer's group meeting. I'm going to the third one, and it's about getting an agent, so it would be extremely useful for me. I'm trying to parcel out my time to writing, church, Niko's school and my first priority, which is my family, and it's incredibly hard. But anyway.
Yesterday was Niko's parent/teacher's conference. Niko adores his teacher, which pleases me. She is so kind. She explained that they use the same report card for both the special needs and mainstream kids, so even though Niko has been making progress, it's not going to look well on his report card. She seemed so worried, and I understand because nobody wants to think their child is subpar. But he is making progress, and I can see it, so a report card basically means nothing. Nina was thrilled to be in a classroom with all of these fascinating toys, and Niko showed off a little. Okay, a lot.
They're cutting the education funding down by 120 million dollars again this year, after cutting 130 million last year. Forget that we're already 50th in the nation when it comes to student spending, and forget that at the DMV last week I met a guy who asked me if he had four or five people before him because he couldn't figure it out himself. I am so angry. Isn't education the primo thing to spend money on? Isn't it the most important? Why yes, yes it is. But that was the subject of one of last night's meetings.
As for writing, some helpful things have popped up, including somebody who has been writing for a while and decided to give me some helpful advice about breaking in a little bit. As always, I talk about that at A Broken Laptop.
Today was the primary program in church, where the little kids get to walk up to the pulpit, say their assigned part, and then they all sing songs. It's really cute, and has driven me a bit crazy in the past because it's usually a disaster for us. The picture on the cover of the program last year was a slew of happy, smiling primary kids and me holding a screaming Niko on my lap. You know, the usual.
Our ward called a sweet new couple to be Niko's aids, and kind of tend to him during Sunday School and the program. They came over last night to get to know him a little bit, and he absolutely adores them! This made it much easier today.
So here's a list of things that went fabulously well:
1) Niko let us put him in his church clothes. Pinstripes, vest and all. He looked especially dapper. Sure, the socks and shoes came off after a while, but who's complaining? Not I!
2) He sat up there for almost the whole time. Usually he's flipping out within minutes. And anybody familiar with his meltdowns...yeah.
3) When it was time to say his part, they carried him up. He grabbed the microphone and hooted confidently into it for a while, and then they said his part for him.
4) He danced and waved while they sang. He hopped up and down. He spun in circles.
He was happy, and he was loved. It was amazing to see Niko and how far he has come! I nearly cried. Then the bishop got up, and he did cry. He said that his sister had Down's Syndrome, and sometimes it's hard to have a special needs person thrown into the mix because we like things to always be a certain way, but that we're doing a right thing by bringing him and Niko is assured a place in heaven. And to see this man crying about my son...it was just...wow.
We all feel this way about our kids, I think. We're so proud of them when they do well, and we're so heartbroken when things hurt them. With a special needs kid, it seems like the feelings are a little more dramatic, but they're the same feelings. I just want to point that out. I know there are people who want to ask questions and don't know if it's polite. Ha, I know that people send you to my blog, and I just want to let you know something. You can ask me, and it's okay. I'm no different than you.
There are a million different pictures of Pypes looking absolutely stunning on her wedding day, but this is my favorite. "Look at your shoes!" "Look at yours!" This is us, this is how we've always been, and it's ten years later and here we still are. It makes me happy.
My novel is winding down, and it's time to wrap it up. Goodbye, Bryony the Star Girl. I'm going to miss her. But then on to my demon novel to get in the rest of my 50,000 words. Luna and Reed Taylor have been waiting too long. I had a happily smug realization yesterday: I write for no man. I talked about it here.
Niko has been crawling into bed with us at night. I rolled over last night and there was Luke, Niko, and my 6'1" shark Dirk Nevinski on the bed with me. It was a full house. It's sweet, but unacceptable, and I escort Niko to bed every time that I notice him there. I also signed him up for the Williams Syndrome Registration. Should I have done this years ago? Possibly, but I wasn't ready. I'm open and friendly, I'll talk WS with you if you'd like, (or about being LDS, or about whatever) but this was close to my heart and it has taken me this long to be able to do it. I'm also proud of Nina, who is going to grow up to be such an advocate for her big brother. I can already see it. That is a little girl who knows how to love. And she knows how to dance, which she didn't get from me, and certainly didn't get from her father. She's magical.
I miss our old city, and I miss Finland. Especially Finland, where it was pristine and cold and there was that dignified somber holiday feel in the air. But I realize that it's that time of year again, where we once picked up and left to live in a foreign country with a tiny sick baby and no furniture. Ha, thought I was kidding, right? This. I miss this.
It's also the anniversary of '80's death, and I wonder if I'll be hit with that every November for the rest of my life. It's sort of like a soft blow. I think that I might, and do you know what? It's okay. She was a wonderful friend and I miss her, and I think it's just fine if that never changes.
On a brighter note, I'm wrapping some Christmas presents today. Oh yes, it is sliding headfirst into the holidays, people, and I am very much looking forward to it! Niko is so much more aware than he was even at this time last year, and Nina was just a new little thing who clicked her toys together on Christmas morning. I think this year will be spectacular.
Also, Flylady has a Christmas control journal, and I called my mom and left an excited message telling her to print it off and fill it out. Christmas? Shouldn't be about stress, but it has become that way. I think we should scrap it all and go back to the basics.
Niko is almost home from school, and I dressed Nina like a rock star. Sort of the 1980's look (black with neon pink) and a ponytail high on her head. Which is very much a Janyece-inspired look (yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Junior high, anybody?) and that's probably because I was talking to her about NaNoWriMo not too long ago. All of the old gang from the past has somehow invaded my head, and I'm not too keen on letting them out. Go ahead, guys. Just knock around for a while in there. S'alright.
This was the illustration for "Ray The Vampire" on Flash Fiction Online. (http://flashfictiononline.com/) Copyright 2008, R. W. Ware. The artist also replied graciously to my thank you note, and that always sits well with me.
The Editor made a Wordle, and this made me laugh. (http://www.wordle.net/) I am SO going to put this on a t-shirt! It might be my new running shirt now that "I Leave Bite Marks" bit the dust, no pun intended. (Okay, June, maybe a little pun. Just for you.)
I have decided to take a break in querying for my Ray novel. Thanks mostly to the Twilight series, the market is so saturated with vampire novels that it's suffocating. Hooray to these authors and their success, but it makes me want to sigh because I loved vampires before vampires were trendy, and now I'll just have to wait until everybody is satiated of them, and then sick of them, and eventually enough time passes that I can reintroduce my novel and not have the instant reaction be, "Oh no, not another one." Of course, mine isn't your typical vampire novel, and it was written before I'd even heard of Twilight, but that doesn't matter much. And besides, all authors say that anyway, ha.
Also, thanks and curses to my friend xmolder for his five minute chocolate cake recipe that he delighted/inflicted me with. It's delicious, and quick, and amazing with white chocolate chips. Curse you and your cakey deliciousness! Now I'm an addict.
Niko has started eating apples. Whole apples, off of the core. It's such a beautiful thing to see. We have a tree at home, and Dad brought a bag of Jonathan apples for us. Today Niko rode by on his tricycle with an apple in one hand, and Nina waved at him as he passed her. It was a triumph for all of us.
Barnwood Poetry Magazine purchased a poem of mine titled "white blindness". It will be up soon, they tell me. I'm very happy!
The other day I was picking up some pictures at the store. Luke must have had the kids, because I was alone. And as I was paying, the woman suddenly started talking about her nephew, who was three years old and didn't speak. Not a word, she said. She said how they worried about him and how frustrating it was, and how people seemed to judge them when they went out together. She said that she's afraid he's trapped in there, that he does sign language, but is it really enough? Then she suddenly apologized and said that she was so sorry, that she was saying silly things to a stranger, and I could tell that she was embarrassed.
I smiled at her. I just smiled, and she smiled back, and I said that everything turns out all right in the end. I truly believe this, and I was grateful that for a second I could be the one to reassure somebody else.
We just got back from the wedding, and I'll have pictures of the kids' costumes later! While walking through the airport, Niko dove into a pile of newspapers that a gentleman was lying on the ground, and he kind of swam through them.
"I'm sorry!" I said. "He's looking for pictures of washers and dryers."
"Bless you," he said back, and he looked at my son with so much love. "Keep them. I was going to throw them away anyway, honestly. Bless you."
My dad came down the day that we got home, and he is always such a help. He cleaned my kitchen and told me to work on my novel. He babysat my kids and sent me to the spa for my very first massage. Which was fantastic, by the way! They tell you that when you get a massage, sometimes it affects your moods and emotions. Pshaw, I thought, but the woman said, "Oh my, Miss Mercedes, you really are very tight," and she worked on everything. Legs and neck and that awful little muscle on the right side of my back. Every time that she ran her fingers down the inside of my arm, my middle and ring fingers curled. She worked on my hands, and it was the most bizzare thing: I started to cry. I suddenly felt how hard they worked and how tired they were, and how my whole body ached and things were pulled and I hadn't even realized it, because that's just how it always is. I realized that I never feel well. It felt very, very nice to have somebody take care of me, and it was touching, in a way. I thought that she was extremely sweet and did her best for me, and I hope she went home and had somebody to take care of her.