What Dreams May Come

Something I'd forgotten about the last time I was pregnant: the incredibly weird, incredibly vivid dreams.

You may ask, "What do you mean by weird, eden?"  Let me give you some examples and let you decide.

Weird Dream #1 (Current Pregnancy):
I'm at a three-star (at least) restaurant with some of my high school classmates and Trig/Calculus teacher.  Our food won't be finished for a while, so we go to the "Ices" buffet to get a dessert-like appetizer.  Those clear-plastic, square drink machines that keep punch swirling and cold are set up in a circle for us to choose from.
"Try the beets," my math teacher says.
That sounds delicious, so I get a DixieCup and ladle myself a helping of cold prawns and beets (making sure to pick myself out some extra prawns).  As I do, I notice a latte-colored substance in the next machine over labeled "Wife," and decide that if my food doesn't come before I finish my beets, I'll come back and get a helping of that.
Back at the table, I start eating my prawns and beets, which are so delicious and so cold (WCWilliams reference #1), I realize that my chicken wellington has been delivered to the girl at my right by mistake, but someone has already eaten all the breading off of it.
"I think that was supposed to be mine," I say.

Weird, right?  And when the dream isn't just straight-up weird, it's obscene.  Really obscene.  I don't cuss, for reals.  But in these obscene dreams, I've got a mouth like a sailor or a dockworker or some other clich├ęd water profession that uses really bad language.  Creatively bad language.

Weird Dream #2 (Last Night):
My baby doctor has come to my grandpa's house in Emden with another maternity patient so that this woman can live out her dream of something or other to do with a farm.  Since Dr. S is already there and it's almost time for my appointment, I assume that she's going to do my appointment at Grandpa's house.  The patient before me is "Donating Flowers" (putting a bouquet of flowers in the pasture) and doing other generally weird things while my doctor follows her around.
Then, finished, they leave.  And I realize I'm going to have to go to Kirksville for my appointment.
Josh and I go outside, but I slip and fall in the mud.
"[Expletive Deleted]!" I yell, realizing I'm going to be late.  Then I realize that my OB ultrasound was scheduled for that morning at 10:30 at the hospital and I missed it.  "[Expletive Deleted] [Expletive Deleted] [Expletive Deleted], [and so on]!"

[Un]Interesting Side Note: My OB ultrasound and my next doctor's appointment really are on the same day, the first at 10:30am and the second at 1:30pm.

The food dreams were the worst last year because I was unable to eat anything but cheese sandwiches without getting sick.  I'd dream about all those things I loved to eat (not about beets), but couldn't have and wake up wishing I could.  The strangest thing about those dreams was how vividly I could taste the food.  Even thinking back now it makes my mouth water.

Weird Dream #3 (Last Pregnancy):
I went to lunch at my high school cafeteria where they are serving pizza, cheese sticks, and blueberry cheesecake, three of my all-time favorite school lunches.  I filled up my tray, sat down and ate.  It was delicious.

That's all.  I ate it and it was delicious.  I have absolutely no doubt that dreaming about sex is directly related to being sexually repressed because when I was dreaming longingly of food I was foodly repressed.  (Edibly? It's hard to say.)

There are a lot of sites (according to Google) which attempt to tell you what your maternity dreams mean (apparently this is a common symptom of pregnancy), but not many places that will list examples.  I do, because I care.


The Most Advanced Piece of Technology You'll Ever Pee On

Or, "Enis Reloaded"

If you were at the Old Thresher's in Shelbina this weekend, you may have heard some rumors flying around about me and Joshua.  They're true.  Last year we had a baby for my birthday, so this year we're having one for Josh's.
Last time that I announced I was pregnant to the internet, I was vomiting uncontrollably and I posted a list of things I didn't want to forget about my first month of pregnancy.  I don't have one of those today and I'm not vomiting uncontrollably yet, although I've been a little queasy on and off the last couple days.  What I do have for you today is a list of things I don't want to forget about this year's Old Thresher's.

  1. This is the last year my Grandpa Smith will be the president of the Old Thresher's at Shelbina.  He's been the president since the year I was born (possibly even before), and it makes me sick that certain idiots have forced him to decide he can't put up with their crap anymore.  He's done so much for them, given so much of his time and money.  I don't know what he'll do without it.
  2. My sister's new boyfriend is not as bad as I wish he would be.  I wish I could hate him because I loved her fiance.  But we all (me, Josh, Emily, Brian, Liz, and James) all camped together this weekend and played a charade/pictionary-type game and had a great time.  He plays the guitar and he's a person and even Oak started laughing at him.
  3. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, but when they gave Christy Maubach's sash and crown to her little sister and Bobby (Christy's dad) went out to join his daughter for a picture, I had to fight to keep from crying.  When we were little, the Maubachs were some of my parents' best friends.  I remember specifically staying at their house one night so my parents could fight.  By then my mom had already decided she was done putting up with my dad's drinking.  I looked up Christy's obituary on the funeral home's website.  All grown up she's someone I'd never recognize, but I do remember that she was a pretty toddler and that Emily named her first baby doll after her.  Christy's mother died of cancer last year, so now it's just her dad, her sister, and her little brothers.  I remember her mother's face perfectly.
  4. Oak laughed so hard this morning when Grandpa Smith was playing with him, and all Grandpa was doing was saying, "I'm a-gonna get you."
  5. When I let my parents know I was pregnant, my dad said, "You're knocked up again?" then he told Josh to get his butt in gear finishing our house.  When I told Grandpa Smith he acted angry.  He yelled, "Another one?  When?" and I yelled, "May."  When I told Grandpa and Grandma Hudson, they didn't get it.
That's enough lists.  I'm sleepy.


Note to Self

Remember how, when Oak was first born, he screamed and screamed whenever you were trying to change his diaper?  I miss that.  Now he's constantly trying to escape, and he's pretty good at it.  Must be the 1/16th Hitler in him.


The Opening (That Story I Mentioned Forever Ago)

The chess world held its breath.  The grandmaster stared at the board.  He knew where every piece was—he could’ve been playing blindfolded, and had on many occasions—but he couldn’t look away.  Across the table, an international master, a man in his late twenties, was staring, too.
In the silence, the click of the younger man’s swallow sounded like a gunshot.  The grandmaster took a deep breath, felt his lungs protest.  Forty years worth of smoking did that.  Forty years of smoking and a shock like this.  He ran through the openings again: the Sicilian, the French Defense, the Italian, Guccio Piano, Ruy Lopez, Caro-Kann, Queen’s Gambit...  Through their variations.  Anything he could remember.  The international master was doing the same, he knew.
It couldn’t be possible.  A new opening? 
A new opening. 
A new opening that put black in zugswang.
Could it be possible?
The grandmaster stared as though the answer would come to him from the pieces themselves.  Common knowledge in the chess world was that all the useful openings had been discovered.  To come across one now…
Should he protest?  Demand a read-back of all the moves up to this point?  See right now whether some mistake had been made along the way to allow this…this thing…to happen. 
Had the international master planned this?  Had he studied and plotted his days away and lost sleep night after night until he realized that one opening hadn’t been discovered?
A glance at the younger man’s face showed the grandmaster that he hadn’t.  He had just played, and damn well.  Now here they were.
Here they were.
The grandmaster saw the next twenty-four hours as though he’d already lived them.  Officials, along with the rest of the chess world, would start scrambling to refute this opening.  It’s actually a variation of this, or the game went awry here.  Then the future split into two possibilities: When the officials in the chess world announced that this was a new opening that put black in zugswang, the international master became famous, gave interviews, wrote books.  Or when they realized there had been a mistake, the international master suffered through a month or two of ridicule before going back to being relatively unknown.
Either way, tonight the international master and his wife would celebrate.
The grandmaster had watched them in the hotel lobby last night after the tournament’s third round.  The international master had relived the match for her, motioning with his hands and showing her the notations in his notebook.  From her expressions the grandmaster had realized she didn’t know anything about chess—she didn’t even care about the game.  What she cared about was the international master’s smile, the fact that he was happy, and that he’d won.
The grandmaster looked up from the board.  The younger man’s awestruck gaze met his.  In that second, the grandmaster could see everything in the international master’s life: His mother’s death during childbirth.  His father beating him with the shower curtain rod.  The day after he turned fourteen when he grabbed a knife and started fighting back.  The rec room of the juvenile correctional facility where he learned to play chess.  He read all the letters that the girl at school sent the international master because she wasn’t allowed to call him.  He felt the softness of her breasts as she hugged the international master the morning of his first day back and the sting of her slap that night when he tried to slide his hand up her skirt.  He disappeared with them the night of their senior prom and reappeared the next day to tell her parents they’d gotten married.
When he tried to teach her chess, she refused to learn more than how the pieces moved.  Other than how he did, she had no interest in the game.  Every time he played, whether she was in the skittles room or looking over his shoulder, he could feel her anticipation.  She was his queen and he was her rook; she sent him out to win and he did.  In return, she protected him from his nightmares, gave him a son, and never left his side.
Tonight while everyone in the chess world tried to disprove this new opening, the international master and his wife would put their son to sleep, then share a bottle of champagne.  It didn’t take much alcohol to go to her head.  He would help her off with her dress and lay her in bed, then he would make love to her.  A little clumsily because he was never much of a drinker, either, but they had been together for so long that what she wanted was built into his muscle memory.  In the morning the people who were jealous of the international master’s meteoric rise through the rankings would either ridicule him or sulk.  Publishers would come at the international master from every side whether he was right or not, begging him to write a book about the opening, his approach to chess, his life story, anything.
The grandmaster blinked and when he opened his eyes the international master was looking at the clock.  The grandmaster studied the pieces.  Nothing had changed.  Four moves for white to checkmate.  Six if black moved his knight first.
Was there any chance the kid didn’t see it?
No.  Everyone saw it.
The grandmaster stopped the clock, then reached across the board and shook the younger man’s hand.  He finished his notation, posed for a picture with the international master, then cut his way through the crowd.  Let the kid have his day.
In the sitting area of the lobby, the international master’s wife looked up from her book, then looked away again.  This was how she’d been all afternoon, the grandmaster realized.  Not reading at all, but waiting, glancing up from the page every time someone came around the corner, hoping every time that it would be her husband.  On her lap the infant stirred, but kept sleeping.
The grandmaster pretended that he didn’t recognize her as he passed.  At the front desk, he put a fifty on the counter and asked for room service to send a good bottle of champagne up to the international master’s room.


Forwarding Address

If you're worried because you're looking for the newest installment of SINES (seems pretty unlikely, but I'll play along) and it isn't on WTC, that's because I moved it.  I was getting tired of it stinking up a blog that enjoys its eclectic irregularity.  As of tomorrow, all SINES chapters will have been deleted from WTC.  You may now read or ignore my non-graphic webcomic here.

Remember, kids: Love Everybody.


Lazy Sunday

Sorry to everybody (if anybody) who was eagerly awaiting SINES, Chapter #6.  Barring the unforeseen hand of good fortune, no SINES posts will be made on Sundays.  You should check out Letter to the Preditor, though, if you need a superhero fix.  In the meantime, here's a picture of my favorite mutant of all time:


Six-Letter Homophone for a Breakfast Staple

I think I'm in a period of transition.  At first this worried me because I want to be done with this darn romance novel so I can move on with my life (and get rich or at least pay for Josh to go back to school).  But, like sticking with one project until it's finished, worrying doesn't come naturally to me, so I quit.  If I finish the romance novel this year, that's great.  If I don't, whatevs.  I'd rather work on something when I'm obsessed with it than force anything.

Speaking of being obsessed with something:
I'm obsessed with writing graphic novels.  Probably because dialogue (Holy cow!  Googlechrome's spellcheck doesn't recognize dialogue as a word!) and action (the fighting kind) are my favorite parts of writing.  Also probably because I can't draw at all, but I love people who can.

Since I suck at drawing and I don't have the patience to write a scene for someone else to draw (I tried, but I suck at that, too), I've decided to write a serial story.  Each installment will be at least 400 words, but less than  700, which is a difference of 300, a number that almost makes me sick, but it's too late to change my mind.  I hope to post the first installment tonight and another each following night until the story is done or I get tired of doing this (I hope it's the first one, though).

Enjoy supper and, if your baby is having a growth spurt but doesn't want to sleep, try to retain your sanity.


One piece of drywall later...

Hanging drywall is hard.  So we stopped.*

Joshua called it:
Yesterday, we were walking over to the trailer court when a Macon County Sheriff's car passed.  The officer was holding some papers in his hand and driving toward our house.  If you'll remember, recently I'd been granted a second chance at reporting for jury duty.  Last time I didn't respond to the summons because I was giving birth, then in Columbia with Oak, then excising my gallbladder and sternly rebuking my pancreas.  I had to appear in court and everything.  This time around, I straight up forgot.  When I pointed out the cop car to Joshua, he said, "You know you're going to jail, right?"
I do.

I had a really great time at church today.  The kind you always hope you'll have, the kind that leaves you crying and feeling better and where they sing all your favorite songs.  If admitting you have a problem is the first step, then here's mine: I can't handle everything on my own.  The good news is, I'm done trying.  For real, my pride isn't worth it.


*Not true.  Hanging drywall is so hard, but we stopped because the sheets were in the garage and it started raining again.  Not that I was upset.*'
*' If the footnotes look familiar, it's because I stole them from a friend's blog.  Sorry, Mae.


Another One of Those Things

I think I might start a website dedicated to me.  All this talk about who owns what on whatever internet thing is starting to make me wary, but I doubt I'll continue to be as motivated as I am today.  Seriously.  I gave a speech yesterday night (um, last night?) and just now I finished a story.  (A short one--less than 5 pages--but still one I really enjoyed.)  I feel like I could take on the world.  Of course, tomorrow I'm hanging drywall, which probably means I'll lose steam on the get-stuff-done train real fast.

So, to keep you entertained, I found this:


Writer Syndrome

Sounds like it could mean a lot of things, but today I'm imagining it to be parallel to something I call (starting five minutes ago) "Mommy Syndrome."  Mommy syndrome is a malady parents come down with after taking care of their family all day--they just want someone, anyone, to take care of them for a while.*  Writer syndrome is something writers get when they've been working hard writing for what feels like forever and they don't want to write for readers anymore--they just want someone to write for them for a little while.

Let's face it, writing isn't easy (if you think it is, you're probably too busy sucking eggs to try it).  It takes a serious toll on your creative faculties.  Imagine for a moment that you're trying to put together a 1000-piece puzzle of clear blue sky.  Now imagine that you have to make each piece yourself.  Sure, that almost sounds like it would be easier--aren't you just taking the last piece you used and cutting one out to fit it?  And they're all blue, right?  But remember that this puzzle has to be a thousand pieces, that each piece has to fit into another piece without overlapping or leaving any gaps, that people are going to look at and point out to each other every piece that's a slightly different blue and each piece that isn't cut just perfectly, and--most importantly--that the very last piece has to complete the puzzle.

If I'm the only writer that ever gets a little frustrated trying to make and piece together this puzzle that, for some unknown and idiotic reason, I decided had to be of clear blue sky, I'd be very much surprised.  I know for a fact there are writers out there who are infinitely better and harder-working than I am.  Surely there are times when they think, "You know, I'd just like to read a book today," too.

*I guess if you're me, though, you want someone to take care of your kid for a while.

I Doubt It

Just yesterday night...um, last night, I guess...I reached a milestone in my story (which I would have to explain if I told you what it was, and which I suppose I could have done here in fewer words, but won't) and the page 400 at the same time.  This isn't that big of a deal since some stories are really long, especially single-title romance novels which cover epic stretches of time, but it's a big deal for me because this is the first time I've ever estimated how long something would take to happen (a few weeks ago Joshua asked me how long I thought it would take to get to this particular milestone and I said "It ought to happen by page 400.") and been right.  I'm not sure, but I might be well-known for thinking I can fit a story into a certain amount of space (20 pgs, writing school kids?) and realizing later that the story was in fact a very arduously compressed novel.  So I'm pretty excited.

I'm also pretty excited that I've reached page four hundred because it's the farthest I've ever come on a project (2/3 of the way, baby!), although it presents me with a new problem: repetition.  A four-hundred page novel is bound to repeat phrases from time to time, but if you're a writer and you're anything like me you remember exactly how you phrased everything on every page...

What I'm trying to say is, when there's no other way to write that "____ slammed the door,"  "slammed the door" really starts to grate on your mental ear.  Suddenly you start feeling like everything you've written has been written before and you start to wonder whether you're just phoning this book in, but there's nothing else you can do, you have to say that they slammed the door because they did slam the freaking door, and--

And your brain gets paranoid.  Which it probably shouldn't bother doing since you (meaning me) are going to be called a hack for writing a romance novel anyway whether you use the same phrase over and over again or not, so you (me again) should just do it up right.

Good advice, self.  That's what I'll do, then.


A List of Random Stuff

1.  Blogspot informed me today that there is a new template organizer or something that will make my blog totally awesome and easier to look at.  Naturally, this made me laugh.  I hate unnecessary change.  Even a small unnecessary change is enough to really upset me.  For example: Every few months, or sometimes weeks, Joshua decides our house/apartment/camper/tent (wherever we're living at the time) needs to be rearranged.  Unless you're someone who also really hates unnecessary change, you wouldn't believe how mad I get.  I'll sit and glare while Joshua moves everything around and I'll point out why something shouldn't go there or why I liked it here.  My view on arranging things is, if something needs to be moved, I'll move it.  If it hasn't been moved in a month, it's probably fine where it is.  So, thanks Blogspot, but no thanks.

2.  Are you that bored that you read that entire last paragraph?

3.  I hate it when you read a name, then you hear that name said out loud and the pronunciation is nothing like what you made up in your head.  For example: Siobahn, which I learned to day is pronounced 'sha-baun.  Lame.

4.  I've put a lot of thought into it and decided that any mom could be the kind of mom who goes out for milk and never comes back.  Deciding not to is what makes the difference.  There's no doubt in my mind that if I left with the intent not to return, I wouldn't.  But I'm too jealous to do that.  There's no one I'd trust to raise my son right and I sure as heck am not going to let some other chick sleep with my husband.  I mean, I'm a writer.  What makes her so special?

5.  The scars from my surgery are going away, which is too bad because they looked like someone had shot and stabbed me.

6.  Condoms aren't as effective as you'd think.

7.  I have so much work to do if I plan to finish this romance novel by August.  And just imagine how much I could've gotten done if I'd worked on it instead of this post.


Scary Story

Something that frightens me is the fact that, despite my love for my husband and my son, I find myself thinking at times that I could be one of those mothers who leaves and doesn't come back.


Abject Failure

Today is my 4th wedding anniversary!  In honor of that, I'm finally getting around to a subject I keep meaning to write about: Joshua.  I was hoping to write an essay about him as a Christmas present, then for his birthday.  If I don't do it today, I doubt it will ever get done, and 4th anniversary is the blog-post anniversary, right?

Once, along with my class (twice, really because it happened in two different classes with the same professor), I was given the assignment of thinking about how I would write about the most important thing in the world to me.  Everyone in the class did it wrong (both times).  I hope that this time I will at least approach coherence.  Please forgive me if things get crazy.  When I write about Joshua, I feel all Shakespearean.


Joshua is a man in a world where it has become unpopular to be one.  He takes pride in the sweat of a hard day's work because it means that he is providing for his family and because coming home completely exhausted makes him feel like he has "accomplished something."  We live in a time when men Joshua's age are expected to be little more than tall boys.  Go to college, the world says, find yourself, then be a grown up.  Joshua went to college for a year and realized that an expensive four-year daycare wasn't worth his time, so he quit, got married and started supporting me.

In New York City, he built a thriving business out of nothing, paid our rent, bought my books, and kept me from giving up even though he hated Brooklyn as much as I did.  Our second year there, a man turned a gun on my husband in broad daylight and told him to hand over his money.  There was $400 in his pocket, but Joshua didn't try to be a hero and wasn't a coward; he used his brains.  He eased a twenty out of the roll, then pulled it out and handed it to the guy.  Our last month in Brooklyn I had such severe morning sickness that I couldn't go an hour (sometimes thirty minutes) without throwing up.  Joshua worked every day, built and delivered furniture that had taken two of us to carry before I was sick to 5th-floor walk-ups and basement apartments.  He never rested and never complained and by the end of the month our bills were paid and we had enough money to move back to Missouri.

There are a lot of things that Joshua is now at the age of 23 that it isn't cool to be.  Responsible, intelligent, logical, moral--and there are times when he can't understand why the rest of the world isn't all those things, too.  Even the hint of infidelity on a television show is enough to hurt him.  There isn't any reason to be untrue to your spouse or girlfriend and nothing will ever convince him otherwise.  When it comes to me, Joshua is a jealous man, but I can't fault him because I know it comes out of an overwhelming love, not a guilty conscience.

Joshua is the only person I've ever met without that evil in his heart that makes him want to hurt other people to make himself feel better.  He's a good man, truly good.  I've done things and said things that should have made him pack his stuff and leave, but he stays.  No matter how terrible of a person I am, no matter what awful thing I've done to him, he won't let go of my hand.  Sometimes I wonder if it's just his promise to have and to hold me as long as we both shall live that keeps him by my side.  He's dedicated enough to honor that I wouldn't be surprised, but the dedication he has to seeing things through from start to finish is stronger.  He didn't just promise to stay with me, he promised to love me, and he does.

I’m very good at writing romantic leads.  This is because I base everything good about them on my husband.  His selflessness.  His sense of honor and justice.  His honesty.  His devastating good looks and his spot-on comic relief.  Which isn’t even to mention the things I've refrained from talking about here because they’re just for husbands and wives.

I give up.  This is too hard and I'm not even approaching organization.

Joshua, I plan on you reading this tonight.  I’m sorry I couldn’t turn this into more of an essay and I’m sorry that this is the worst example of my writing yet.  I wanted to do so much better for you, to show you somehow all of the beauty you’ve brought into my life, but how can I even begin?  I know how you’re going to react to all this praise: you’ll find nice things to say about me, turn the conversation away from you, and I appreciate that.  Don’t forget that you’ll always be my knight in a scuffed-up leather jacket and blue jeans.  You’ll always be the only man I've held hands with, dated, or kissed.  You’ll be the father of my child and the man who agreed to name our son Oak Elijah for the sake of a pun.  It almost goes without saying that I love you, but I do.  Happy anniversary.  Sorry about the mess.



Ask for me tomorrow...

How can this have come as a surprise to me?  From the day I decided to write this story, I knew Clarence would die.  I've been planning and researching and writing toward this moment--probably the greatest emotional climax that my story is going to have--for two years.  I planted the misinformation of his father's sickness, I showed his mother where to buy the arsenic, I put his freaking house in order.

It's a cliche that people say when someone they loved dies: I always thought I'd have more time.  Well, I honestly thought I'd have more time.  Then suddenly I realized the scene I was writing couldn't end anywhere but Clarence's death.  I think Twyla and I realized it at the same moment.  We both started crying.  I almost woke Joshua up with all my sniffling and sobbing.

Clarence Matthews is dead.  Somehow the story and the people in it have to move on.  Tonight, though, we say goodbye to a man who lived his short life to the fullest and filled every second he could with love and laughter.  We're all better for having known him.


Not by Bread Alone

I seem to consume a lot when I'm in the middle of a really productive period.  Not a lot of food, but lots of liquids and information.  If I can get away with it, I'll spend about 50% of my day reading stuff online, learning about random things (recent searches from my laptop: "difference between baking soda and baking powder," "what is Esperanto?", "seraphim," "surname meanings 'w'," "graphic novels," and "egg substitutions").  The rest of my day (50% for those of you who can't do the math) I spend writing and drinking.  Coffee is the most obvious, since you can smell it when you walk in.  Water, however, is the most copious.  For every gallon of coffee I drink while working, I'd say I drink at least four gallons of water.

But really, if you wanted to get technical about it, I probably spend 40% of my day reading online, 40% writing and drinking, and 20% of my day going to the bathroom.  Because nothing goes through you faster than coffee, water and information.


In Future Memoriam of Clarence Matthews

I've been in a kind of bad mood the last few days--which would be fine if I had any right to be.  But I don't.  Many of you (are there really "many" of "you" or is there just me?) know that I've been writing a romance novel for the last two years because romances make quick money, they're always in demand, and even someone like me likes to write a happy ending now and then.  (That wasn't originally intended as a pun, but now that I see it, I like it.)  What you (assuming there are some of you) may not know is that I've had to stop for long periods of time because of school and life and pick back up later.  What you may not know unless you are a writer is that picking back up on something that you wrote a year, a month, or even a week ago isn't easy.  You have to recapture the style, the mindsets and voices of your characters, remember where the story was going, remember what's already happened, recover the emotional tone...the list feels endless.

So, by rights I should be overjoyed that I've finally got back to my romance novel and the checklist isn't giving me too much trouble.  My coffee pot's ringing off the hook, the way it does when I'm about to get some serious work done.  I wrote three pages the other day that conformed to the tone, characters, set the plot in motion...I should be more than happy.  But I'm not.  Yesterday I realized that I'm about to kill the most decent person in my story.  Clarence is a loving husband, a wonderful father, and the best friend a man could have.  Doing the right thing is of the utmost importance to him unless it would be funnier to do the wrong thing.  He's charming, selfless, and alive.  So alive.  And even though he's always known that he would die the same way his father did, he doesn't want to die.  Not yet.

Psychologists might suggest that I'm freaking out so much because I'm only 23 and haven't had time to deal with my own mortality.  Not so.  I've been dealing with mortality all my life.  My parents never shielded us kids from death.  If someone we knew died, we went to the visitation or funeral.  When our pets kicked it, we were on hand to bury them.  My favorite bottle calf had to be butchered so we could eat it--I think I've had time to realize that when someone dies they're not here anymore.  No, I'm freaking out because I'm about to effectively push the delete button on a truly good guy for no other reason than moving the plot forward.

Clarence has to die.  There's no way around it.  It's all been leading up to this.  And so I'm a murderer for the greater good of my story.



To the (maybe) one of you who read this blog, I'd like to say how excited I am.  Tomorrow is the first tournament in my husband's chess career in almost 10 years.  We'll be leaving for KC in the early afternoon (after getting new tags for our license plates because we can't afford to get another ticket and it's been more than a month since they were supposed to be renewed) and Josh will be registered and ready to rock (in a chess sort of way) by 7pm.  As you can imagine, he's all geared up about this thing.  It's part of his plan for life: become a master woodworker, get a degree in some field of science related to physics and astronomy (astrophysics, perhaps?), become a chess grandmaster.  And, like woodworking, chess is in his blood.  Josh's mom has told me stories about how her mother and father (straight up German, accent and everything) would sit in silence for hours completely focused on a game.  Josh's mom knows how to play chess, but never really fell in love with the game because, like Joshua, her father didn't see any good coming from letting someone win.  "How will you get better if I let you win?"  Logical.  I'm usually good for three or four games before I get so upset I don't want to play anymore (which is part of the reason Joshua doesn't like to play with me), but Josh can play and lose a hundred times without taking it to heart.  According to him, losing is a learning experience.  (He's definitely not a Hudson.)

I know for a fact that my husband has the ability to become a grandmaster.  What I don't know is if he really wants to.  Like everyone 30 years older than their age, Joshua's hell-bent on reasoning out his purpose in life. "Chess is just a game."  That's what bothers him.  Would God put him on Earth just to play a game?  That's not a question I have an answer for or even a compelling argument.  When Josh begins to doubt his direction, I just ask him whether he thinks God would have created him with endless cool-headed logic, foresight, and a dispassionate point of view for no reason.  Me, I'm different.  I'll never be great at chess because a game is personal for me.  The same goes for an argument about science, history, or decision-making.  I can't separate my emotions from even insignificant things, but Joshua can.  I've called him Spock before, and with good reason.  He has the ability to be great.  I hope the tournaments we go to this month show him that and help him decide if chess is the path he's supposed to go down.  I also hope he wins, but what wife wouldn't want that?



Yesterday, in my rush to get that letter posted before Oak woke up and started demanding food, I forgot to apologize in advance to Mae.  Thus:

I'm sorry, Mae.  No writer deserves to have a paragraph from his or her first draft posted anywhere, no matter how beautiful it was.  Please forgive me.


A Lot of Thought and a Letter to Someone I Love

As you may have guessed, very little thought goes into these posts.  Why do I keep a blog?  Solely to satisfy my narcissism? That could be.  At times, though, I feel like there is some greater purpose to this blip in cyberspace, like maybe there's a reason I do this other than I'm bored and kinda stuck on myself.  And at times I feel like that reason is on the verge of revealing itself.  At still other times I know that reason is you.

Some of you may know that I graduated from Pratt Institute with a degree in writing.  To do that, I had to write a fiction thesis (which, to my surprise and delight) didn't have to be finished, just long and properly formatted.  Tacked onto the beginning of that thesis was a critical introduction in any format I wanted as long as it clearly explained my feelings about, approach to, and reasoning behind the thesis.  I did my best to be completely honest with myself as I wrote it, but ended up having to draft it several times before I arrived at the truth and the final version, which I'm posting here as a reminder to myself and everyone else that I made a promise.  So here it is; my critical introduction.

"Dear Reader,
Before this letter, I wrote you another one, an introduction to Just One More Soul, which had to be thrown away. 
The first letter filled the assignment—it contained some plot summary, a description of the work, my feelings about commercial and genre fiction, and a discussion about the influence Stephen King has on my writing—but it never explained why I started writing Just One More Soul or why I’m so determined to finish it.  During a workshop of one of my stories this semester, a professor said, “Why is always the most important question.  It’s the question that allows you to ask all the other questions.”  My biggest problem, in writing and in life, is that because I know why, I assume everyone else does, too, and I don’t bother to explain.
So, in as simple terms as I can state it, this is why I wrote Just One More Soul: to prove to you that no soul is beyond redemption.
The narrator of the story, Tristos, spent his early childhood as a sex slave in a sarai (a brothel catering exclusively to pedophiles), his teens as a rebel soldier, and his adult life as a political assassin.  Revenge was the reason Tristos became a soldier—most of the men who frequented the sarai were soldiers loyal to the dictatorship the rebellion was trying to overthrow.  Tristos was thirteen when he joined the war, and after watching an enemy soldier beg for his life, he realized that the ability to kill gave him power.  When the man the enemy soldier was begging agreed let him go, Tristos stepped in and cut the soldier’s throat.
It’s similar, in a way, to rape victims who begin to carry a gun.  Very few victims actually use the gun, but just having it gives them a sense of control, a feeling that if they were in the situation again, they could stop the rapist.  Tristos can’t articulate his reasons for thinking so, but as a soldier and later as an assassin, he feels that he’s making Nytundi a safer country for innocents, most importantly the girl he fell in love with in the sarai, Thestra Droboskaya. 
Tristos sees Thestra as the ultimate innocent because of her beliefs.  She was born into the same conditions as he was, but found triumph over the helplessness of her childhood when she learned about God.  She spends her time trying to rescue people from the fallout of the power struggle between Nytundi’s two political parties, the Truth and the Light, and reaching out to Tristos again and again in attempt to show him that violence isn’t the only way to bring on change.  Thestra wants Tristos to see that God’s love changes people, too, and when people change, the world changes.
Redemption in the Christian sense of the word is based on the belief that no human can fully atone for all of the sins they’ve committed, and that divine intervention is required to save a soul from eternal damnation.  The Bible says that God loved us so much He sent his only son, Jesus, to die for our sins.  Baptists believe that when Jesus died, he took the sin of all humanity upon himself, and when he rose again, it was symbolic of his victory over sin.  That gave all sinners the option of accepting Jesus’s victory in place of their own failure, and by accepting it, receiving a place in Heaven, redeemed of their sins.
One of the most common misconceptions people (including some Christians) have is that there is a cut-off point for who can be redeemed, and anyone past that point isn’t worthy of redemption.  Tristos believes that, and I worry you do, too.  I started writing Just One More Soul to show you that the only line you can cross that will cut you off from salvation is deciding not to accept redemption.
Before you start reading, you should know that this story isn’t traditional Christian fiction and I never intended it to be.  I realize that people I know—my little Baptist mother and mother-in-law, my Bible college graduate grandfather, my devout Catholic grandmother, the preacher and congregation at my home church—are going to read this.  I’ve been struggling with that knowledge most of my life.  How do I reconcile my faith with my writing?  That’s been the question since I decided to become a writer, and it brings up a whole host of other moral questions:  Is it worse to write the cuss word or to lie about the way my character talks?  Am I doing more damage admitting that some of my characters have sex outside of marriage or by pretending that no one ever does?  Most importantly, how can I prove anything to anyone if they don’t trust that I’m telling the truth?
A lecture at Pratt Institute was the last place I expected to find the answer—especially since I had planned on going to the bathroom and not coming back as soon as my professor took attendance.  Fortunately, I didn’t get the chance because my professor decided to mark attendance when the lecture ended.  Stuck there against my will, I tuned in and out while the guest speaker went on and on about Chekhov.  During his life, the speaker said, other Christians berated Chekhov for writing about thieves, murderers, and evildoers of every kind without harsh enough judgment.  Chekhov replied that as a writer, his job wasn’t to judge good from bad or right from wrong, only to present people honestly.
All the cylinders fired in my mind.  Whether he’d done it on purpose or not, Chekhov had pointed out an essential truth about Christianity.  Jesus hadn’t ignored sin—he ate with tax collectors and whores, chose his disciples from rowdy fishermen, and he redeemed the thief on the cross.  When the holy men rebuked him for preaching in the streets, he told them that a healthy man doesn’t need a doctor.  They wanted him to condemn all sinners, but that wasn’t why he’d been sent to earth.  He came “to seek and to save,” which meant living alongside sin, confronting its existence, not hiding it or hiding from it.  Jesus understood that no human had ever lived without sin—that’s a basic truth stated in The Bible—and that having compassion for your fellow sinners, letting them know that you love them and that God loves them, can change their life. 
That was my answer.  If no human has ever lived without doing something wrong, then to write a story without admitting that your characters sin and expect it to say something about the human condition is to call God a liar.  My main character enjoys killing, he’s addicted to painkillers, he cusses, drinks, does drugs, and has sex.  I didn’t dilute any of it when I wrote Just One More Soul, I just told the truth about who he is.  I’m sure I’ll probably be accused of justifying immorality for writing about things like fornication and murder, but I’m not worried.  The Bible details every sin imaginable, and it has never been accused of justifying immorality.

What you have here is only the first seven chapters of Just One More Soul, and less than a third of the story.  Things have been hard, but they aren’t hopeless yet, and Tristos hasn’t reached the breaking point, but he will.
My relationship with Tristos has been eye-opening.  I’ve never been as invested in one of my characters as I am in him.  Maybe that’s because I put myself in him—I’m bullheaded; I always think I’m right; and I go about things the way I want to, not the way I should, letting the ends justify the means.  Just like Tristos, I have the desire and capacity to hurt people, maybe worse.  And just like Tristos, I want some kind of purity in my life to off-set that blackness in me.  I gave Tristos all the darkest parts of myself, expecting to hate him, but he’s been with me for more than a year and I can’t do anything but love him.  I don’t want to hurt him, and yet I plan to completely destroy him before this story ends.  One of the maxims of the military is that you can’t start building someone up until you break them down.  Tristos is tough, but I’m going to break him down so that he can become something better. 
Only recently have I realized that this parallels God’s relationship to humans.  By all rights He should hate us, but He can’t because He loves us too much.  That love makes Him want to rescue us and it’s the desire to rescue us that keeps Him from making our paths smooth.  He could shield us from experiencing any of the pain and trials of this world, but we would be weak and complacent.  Instead God refines us in the fire and sharpens us with steel, just like He promised He would.  In the end we emerge something better, stronger, and purer than when we started.
I know you’ve gone through a lot.  You’ve been hurt, life has kicked you around, and people you trusted—people you loved—walked out of your life like you never meant anything to them.  It happens to all of us, and it’s going to happen to Tristos even more as the story goes on.  We deal with it by doing whatever we can to pass the time and hide the pain—drinking, smoking, fucking, staring at a screen, opening books, sitting in crowds of people we wish were our friends.  We have to be pulled out of that rut to be happy again, and it’s always painful to get pulled out of your rut.

When I realized I wasn’t going to finish Just One More Soul this year, I felt like I’d failed.  I started writing this for you, to show you that life isn’t hopeless, that things won’t always be as bad as they are now, but how can I make you see that if I don’t even get you to the end of the story?
My answer came from critiquing one of my classmates’ thesis introductions.  I was sitting on the windowsill in my kitchen, reading it when I broke down crying.
“David Foster Wallace is gone,” she wrote.  “He gave up.  I read every word of his and know that he decided one day that he couldn’t handle life anymore.  His stories try again and again to dissolve the barrier that exists between everyone and the rest of the world, and again and again he falls back on the conclusion that this dissolution is impossible.  We’re trapped in ourselves, his stories repeat, and that’s a terrible place to be even for an instant.  So yes […] I understand why you were so paralyzed when Wallace died: you thought he was going to make it, that he was somehow living despite an acute understanding of how much everything hurts, and he wasn’t going to ignore his pain even though that might have been easy, and then he gave up, which means that it really must be that bad, and that we’re going to run out of reasons to stay alive, or maybe we already have.”

That was on page seven.  I scribbled an apology to her on page six and ripped seven out of the manuscript.  I was furious and sick and heartbroken.  The world shouldn’t be this way.  People shouldn’t fail each other.  No one should kill himself because other people had failed him.  Worst of all, that my friend believed Wallace meant that I had failed her.  I know that humans aren’t hopeless and life isn’t just pain that only death cures.  I have God to show me that, but I haven’t shown anyone else.
I know that you don’t believe in God, and you think my logic is flawed because it relies on the precept that there is actually a higher power.  I can’t convince you that God exists and I won’t try—that’s between you and Him—but I can tell you this: I read Oblivion and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.  My classmate was right—over and over Wallace’s stories come to the conclusion that the barrier between people can’t be dissolved, that one human can’t reach another because of that barrier.
But Wallace was wrong.  He based his conclusion on the assumption that the fear of the pain it takes to live without the barriers—even for a few minutes—is greater than anyone’s desire to reach another person, that people are so caught up in keeping themselves from getting hurt that they can’t put their comfort at risk to save someone else.
The first critical introduction I wrote to Just One More Soul, the letter I mentioned before, had to be trashed because I’d written it with the barriers up.  I wanted to reach you, but I was afraid to let you see what was really in my heart, so I failed.  It was only after reading my classmate’s introduction that I realized I was doing the same thing as Thestra was in my story.  Over and over again she reaches out to Tristos, but it never has any affect on him until she puts herself at risk and lets her barrier down. 
Once I heard a preacher tell a story about a man trying to win souls for Christ.  He went out every day and witnessed about God’s love to as many people as he could, but no one he spoke to ever accepted Christ’s salvation.  When the man told his preacher, the preacher asked him, “Are you really expecting to win the soul of every person you talk to?”
The man said, “No, of course not.”
“Well, that’s why you’re not,” the preacher said.
That man’s barrier was not believing.  As long as he assumed people would reject his faith, he couldn’t be disappointed when they did.  I had the same barrier.  I didn’t tell you the truth about my motives for writing Just One More Soul because I thought you would reject me.  Somewhere in my mind I knew what had to be done—I couldn’t have written it into my story if I didn’t—but I hadn’t yet applied it to my life.
It only takes one person to prove Wallace wrong.  I know that if I take down my barrier and let you in, I can reach you.  The problem is, fiction is just another barrier between us.
My name is eden.  When I was in preschool, I was molested by the grandson and granddaughter of my babysitter.  Since the girl was my age, I don’t think she actually knew what she was doing; she didn’t act like she thought it was anything unusual or wrong.  I knew something was wrong, but like most kids I couldn’t tell until I was older and looking back.
My dad was an alcoholic.  I accepted Christ at a Wednesday evening service my granny had taken me to and I waited up to tell Dad that I was saved, but he didn’t care because he was drunk.  I very acutely remember standing on the corner of his waterbed, staring at the mole on his side as he got undressed to go to sleep.  My mother is a strong woman, but back then she was just a kid, stretched too thin between four babies and countless jobs.  One night she came and sat on my bed crying and told me that she might have to divorce Dad.  She wanted me to pray with her, so I did.  I prayed that she would leave him because I didn’t like him.  He scared me.  I was disappointed when she didn’t, but glad when I found out that detox would keep him away from us for almost a month.
When he came back, Dad was changing, painfully trying to adapt to his new life without booze.  I didn’t make it easy.  I was selfish and hurtful and ready to start that teenage rebellion a few years early.  Instead of just taking it out on my father, I rebelled aimlessly.  I hated everyone who was close to me because, I told myself, they hated me first.  I pushed them away.  They were a family, they all loved each other, and I felt like someone looking in from the outside, but I wasn’t about to admit that I needed them.
Puberty struck and things got worse.  I didn’t trust anyone, so I couldn’t talk to them.  I went to the internet for my information and instead of sex I found pornography, an addiction that lasted into adulthood.  The people around me barely registered anymore except as entities to hide from.  I was becoming a worse and worse person and I didn’t know how to stop.  I lived in my depression; I read, wrote, and fantasized about killing myself.  If that sounds melodramatic, you should’ve read the stuff I was writing.
This is something I haven’t told anyone but my husband: I was sixteen when my granny died.  Like everyone else in my family, I thought she was a hypochondriac and when she told me to tell Mom, an LPN, that she was having some pains in her chest, I filed it away under the myriad other things she thought she had wrong with her.  I rolled my eyes, said goodbye and hung up the phone, eager to get back to the story I was writing.  Several hours later, my grandpa called and told me that Granny was having a heart attack and to get Mom.  It was my fault.
I was at the blackest point in my life.  Not long after Granny died, Upward Bound started recruiting at my school and I jumped at the opportunity to escape, even if it was only for six weeks over the summer.  My family wasn’t ready to lose anyone else yet, but I had to get away, so I forged my parents’ signatures, and when they found out, I cried until they let me go.
Upward Bound is where I met my husband, Joshua, who I firmly believe God put in my life to show me how strongly one person can love another without the benefit of biological ties.  I didn’t want to lie to him about anything.  I was more honest with Joshua than I was with myself and he loved me despite every awful thing in my heart.  Just knowing him made me strive to be a better person.
But I still couldn’t stay in MissouriBrooklyn seemed far enough away, so I went.  The people from Pratt’s TransFORM Christian Fellowship welcomed me in and took me to a fall retreat where, for the first time in my life, I heard the words of a song we were singing and realized it was a love song.  Sure, I knew that God loved me, I was His child and all that.  But that night, as I stood by the lake and talked on the phone to Joshua and the words of the song played over in my head, I realized that God was in love with me.  I started crying and I fell down where I was standing.  Joshua loved me no matter what I’d done and I knew that was true because there was nothing he could do to make me stop loving him.  And that was how God loved me.  Endlessly.  Openly.  I could never hurt Him enough to drive Him away.  He was there waiting for me even after everything I’d done and He always would be.
It’s not like I haven’t done anything else wrong since that night.  I have an addictive personality and alcohol was the next thing on my list.  I’m less than a week sober, but praying it lasts for my baby’s sake.  Now instead of my family, I hurt my husband when I feel angry or alienated.  History repeats itself.  I turn away from God and I turn back.  There’s never been a time when He turned away from me, and praise Him, there never will be.  His Son saved me from my sins and He saves me from myself.  Thank God.
So my barrier’s down and my hand is out.  It hurts to exist like this—vulnerable, naked, waiting for you to accept or reject what I’m telling you, waiting to see if you’ll reject me, too—but I can’t give up.  If I take my hand back now, it’s possible that no one else will reach out to you.  I’d rather let you hurt me than take that chance.
Right now I’m promising you that I will finish Just One More Soul and find a way to get it to you.  This is the truth: the soul in the title is yours.  Whatever pain or humiliation I go through will be worth it if I can reach you.
All my love, sincerely,
eden Etteldorf"



I recently asked myself, "Is there any way I can become more of a mom?"  The answer, of course, was to join some sort of community of mothers in the only place where community still matters: the internets.  So I joined some sort of internet community of mothers called "Circle of Moms," and they asked me some questions (20), I guess to authenticate my motherliness.  An excerpt of the interview follows.

CoM: Do you think it's harder to be a mom or a dad?
eE: The fact is that the baby-workload for a stay-at-home mom is much heavier and never ends.  Twenty-four hours a day you are a mother.  Even when Dad is holding or feeding the baby or giving you a night off you aren't excused from helping him or giving him tips.  Still, I think the emotional toll being a working father takes is much harder to handle.  Can you imagine leaving your baby and wife at home for nine hours a day, not knowing if you're going to miss some huge milestone, wondering what new thing your wife is going to learn about your baby today that you won't?  I wouldn't want to trade places with my husband, anyway.

CoM:  What surprised you most about being a mother?
eE:  The guilt I feel if I have to go to the bathroom before I give Oak a bottle or if I need a drink of water while he's eating and I sit the bottle down and he starts to cry.  It's like he's saying, "Couldn't you have done that 10 minutes ago?  What kind of mother are you, putting yourself first like that?"

CoM: Is there anything good about being a mom?
eE: The smell of Oak's head, even if he hasn't had a bath for a couple days.  And sometimes when someone else is holding him and he won't stop crying and they're like, "Here, Mama, you take him," and instantly he stops crying.  That's pretty cool.



Rather than get into all the stuff I keep promising to, I'm going to let you in on something awesome I invented today: coffee candy.

The inspiration for coffee candy comes from Maggie Brown's (a restaurant/bar near Pratt in Brooklyn).  There, after eating an $8 burger or $11 hot wings, patrons are served a delicious piece of chocolate with coffee grains in it.  Chocolate with coffee grains in it is exactly what I invented today.

I'm aware that it isn't considered "inventing" if you just copy something someone else has already made, but I figured out how to replicate it without a recipe or any guidance, so I'm taking what I call "credit" for it.

Here's how to enjoy some yourself:

  1. Melt some chocolate chips of your choice.  I used Milk Chocolate Chips (which I'm told you should never use for chocolate chip cookies) because that's what I had.  I'm told some people also like Semi-Sweet Chocolate and still others like Dark Chocolate.
  2. Add the coffee grains of your choice.  I used a dark breakfast blend whose name I forget because I threw the package away back in January, but if you don't like caffeine or you plan to eat these chocolates before going to bed, I'd suggest using your favorite decaf.
  3. Stir.
  4. Drop on wax paper or tin foil, whatever.
  5. Cool.
That's it.  You may think I've got a lot of nerve taking credit for something this simple, but I may think you're stupid.  It's hard to say.


What's the Happy-Hap?

It's the hip new way of saying "what's happening" or "the current goings-on."  In a Shakespearean play it's a "lucky occurrence."  In my case it's continually setting out to write about my experiences with gall stones and pancreatitis but getting distracted by something which is going on around me.  Today that thing is the old man who lives next door.  For the past twenty minutes he's been in his back yard.  Twice he's started walking in one direction or the other only to stop, turn around, and go back to the picnic table.  I don't know what is going on, but I know if I keep watching this I'm going to cry.


Been a Long Time Gone

But that's because I've been busy with my life outside of cyberspace.  Settling into a routine of feeding Oak, clothing Oak, changing Oak's diapers; getting sliced and diced as a revenge prank on my gallbladder; re-reading some old favorites.  Pretty standard stuff.  I'm sure you understand how a person falls behind now and then.  Keep an eye out for a future post about how the doctors who did my surgery tried to convince me that I had post-partum depression.  In the meantime, I'm cooking something awesome today that my mom made for New Year's Steve this year.  If you like fruit and and you like cookies, you'll love this.

Fruit Cookie
  1. Take some sugar cookie dough and roll it out flat on a pizza pan.  I'm using pre-made stuff because I'm not a superhero like my mom, but if you are feel free to use homemade dough.  It will probably taste better (unless you're a bad cook).  Bake for however long the package says to.
  2. Remove from oven (duh) and cool.
  3. Apply icing liberally.  I am using homemade icing because I do have powdered sugar.  Most icings are some variation of powdered sugar, milk, butter/margerine, and vanilla extract.
  4. Sprinkle with your favorite chunks of fruit.  I'm using papaya, strawberry, mango, and pineapple.  I wish I had some kiwi and blueberries for more color, but them's the breaks.
Unlike the crap I make up, this is something my mommy makes.  If it doesn't turn out good, you didn't make it right.


Animal Facts: Bats!

Bats, like humans, are one of the few mammals that can fly.  Unlike humans, bats don't ride in airplanes.  Bats have very long arms with creepy little claw-hands at the end.  These claw-hands have an extra strong grip so that they can hold open the stretchy sail-like piece of canvas bats use to fly.  When the canvas is not in use, or if a bat needs to dive suddenly to avoid a predator or catch an insect, the bat simply lets go of the canvas and it snaps back into the specially made pockets on either side of the bat's abdomen.  This is why bats without hands cannot fly.


Right Now

I'm so tired.  Should I expect this to get better or worse?


Want to Hear Some Weird Stuff?

Or, "Reasons You Should be Nicer to Ronald McDonald"

Reason #1: I'm typing this from his basement.
And, man, is it nice down here.  Apparently, Ronald McDonald lends out his extra houses in areas near hospitals so families can stay near their sick kids.  It's called "temporary emergency housing," and let me tell you, it's a Godsend.  They charge you a $15 key fee on the first day; after that they'll accept any donation you can afford and you can stay up to 14 days straight.  (Long-term patients' families can check out for 24 hours and check back in.)  Community groups bring in dinner each night so families don't have to pay to eat out all the time, or you can use the kitchen to cook your own meals.  It's even fairly well-stocked in case you don't have the cash for food.

Of course, I wouldn't know any of this if Oak hadn't started turning blue because he couldn't breathe Saturday night.  Really, I wouldn't know any of this if Oak hadn't gurgled just loud enough for me to hear that he couldn't breathe Saturday night.  So, I owe this new found knowledge and appreciation of a TV clown I've always hated to my equally new found son, Oak Elijah (you probably know him better as Enis), who is now almost 2 days old.  He did it twice more while the nursery team and on-call pediatrician observed him.  Sunday morning around 11, they transferred Oak down here to Columbia Regional's NICU, which according to everyone but Joshua's sister is the best neonatal unit in Missouri.  My OB got to the Kirksville hospital at a little after noon, discharged me with a frown, and then Joshua and I were on our way.

When we got to the NICU they let us know two things about Oak:
  1. He stopped breathing on the drive down and they had to intubate him.  Five seconds later he decided he was done with the tube and extubated himself.
  2. To quote his bedside nurse: "By the way, Daddy [to Joshua], very well-endowed."
I haven't been able to speak with a doctor since last night, but they seem pretty sure pneumonia is the reason he couldn't breathe right (newborns get this in the grossest way possible), and since they started antibiotics he's turned that nice reddish color that babies get when they've finished cooking.  The doctors want to run the full course of antibiotics, so it sounds like the earliest we can go home with Oak is next Sunday.  But that's fine because he'll be alive and able to stay alive, which is what counts with living things.

Want to know what it's like to have (as in, to give birth to) a baby?  Painful.  And strangely sudden.  One second you're about to cry because you can't push the way your doctor keeps yelling at you to push, then suddenly you have this purple and white thing on your chest and everyone's telling you what a great job you did.  And even though everything you've read about pregnancy tells you not to expect to fall in love with your baby the first time you see it because it takes time to develop any relationship, you're still kind of surprised because it really is just this purple and white thing that came out of you.  If you're like me, you can't even figure out that they expect you to hold him and touch him and that's the reason they put him on your chest in the first place.

Want to know what it's like to have (as in, to be the owner or parent of) a baby?  It's like being some kind of big cat living in the wild.  Once the weirdness of giving birth to this tiny, purple, helpless thing passes, and you get to see it turn a normal color and dry off some, the weirdness of how you love it sets in.  You want to smell it and lick its hair and rest your face against its stomach.  That's really what it's like.


Guess Again

I've been thrown for another loop today after my most recent appointment with the baby doctor.  No, nothing's wrong with Enis.  This, I think, is a bigger loop.  Today my baby doctor told me that if I don't go into labor on my own by next weekend (one weekend before my due date), they are going to induce me.

Don't get impatient.  Wait for the loop.  It's coming.

Loop: They'll induce me because Enis is on the edge of being too small.

Common sense might tell you that the wisest course of action when a baby is smaller than it should be for its gestational age is to let it bake a few more weeks.  That's what common sense told me, anyway.  But in fact, this is risky because small babies have a higher rate of unexplained fetal death in the last few weeks of full-term pregnancies (stillbirth).

This, as you can imagine, puts a lot of pressure on me.  All along I've been certain that I'm going to have the baby on my super-birthday (the 19th) only to find out that that is no longer an option.  Now I not only have to re-guess and re-plan for another date, but also, try to go into labor on that date so I'll be right.

So I've decided the 12th is the day.  That may mean I'll have to go into labor on the night of the 11th, but that's a night and number I'm willing to risk.


This is for all you writers out there.

Or, "Something you probably already know."

Dear Writer Friends (and maybe Photographers),
Do you have spare time and knowledge that pertains to various and sundry subjects?  Do you want/need to make money?  Did you waste your time at your internship because it was required to graduate and not end up with a contract to write for some awesome news blog or other thing?

My answers to those questions are Maybe, Always, and Did I ever (respectively).  But I have connections that you can now benefit from.  My mother-in-law is someone who watches the evening news and reports on it regularly to me (this is my connection).  One of the most recent things she told me about was http://www.seed.com/, which is a website where writers can submit short articles on various topics for varying amounts of money.  Photographers are welcome, too, I guess.

Well, that's pretty much all I had to say.  Since I imagine you're not quite as lazy as me, I assume you'll all be rolling in the dough in a few days.



Let's Say Something Controversial about Abortion

Now that I'm 9 months and 4 days pregnant (according to a due date calculator I found on the internet), I thought I'd try to tackle a more serious subject. I know Andriana gave everyone a chance to publish their opinions of abortion on her blog a while back, but as usual I lost track of time (I'm so busy these days) and the topic closed before I got around to answering. It doesn't seem likely that I'll have anything new to say about abortion, but I have a deep-seated belief that people want to hear what I think about everything. This is what makes me a writer.

Before I begin, I'd like to say that I don't consider myself to have been prejudiced about abortion because of my pregnancy. Everything I plan to say is based on beliefs I've figured out for myself and held for a very long time. I don't doubt at all that I'm prejudiced by my religion, although my religion, too, is based on things I've been figuring out for myself since my sister showed me that the church we grew up in is made up of other humans and in no way infallible. If you're one of the 2-3 people who read this blog and you think I'm wrong, or stupid, or misinformed, please feel free to post a hateful comment. Now let's get on with the show.

Abortion is something I can't condone for any reason--whether a girl thinks it's the wrong time for her to have a baby, she's been raped, or even if there's a chance that having this baby would cause her medical problems or death. I loved Obama and held out great hope for him through most of the campaign, but couldn't force myself to vote for him after hearing him say that abortion was in many cases "the responsible choice." There is no situation where abortion is the responsible choice.

I imagine you're already probably pretty ticked, but don't give up yet. I'm about to state my reasons for what I just said.

At the absolute center of all my beliefs I'm a compassionist. That's a word I made up today to describe what I think every religion should strive to be. Compassion (I think) is a consciousness of other people's situations, coupled with the desire to understand, and ultimately, help them. Doesn't sound like I'm making a good case, yet, huh? My very base belief is that compassion is love and that every living thing is deserving of this love. So, if you have compassion for another living being, you will do everything in your power to keep from harming them--even to the point of letting yourself be harmed instead. To have true compassion for another being you have to do one of the most unnatural things in human nature: stop thinking about what's best for you. Because, let's face it, how can you focus on anyone else when you're worried about yourself?

A question Joshua likes to debate with people is: If you had a gun and someone attacked you with a knife, would you shoot them?

According to any scientist all organisms, even single-cells, are living things. Babies, then, are living things from conception (before developing any sensory or major organs). Like certain tribes of American Indians (the Lakota specifically), I believe that all living things are connected and that harming one harms them all. Ending any life scars not only that life, but also the person who made the decision, the person who carried out the act, the people who assisted in carrying out the act, and all the people who were affected or would have been affected by that life. Everyone considered, that's a fairly large scar on humanity.

I haven't yet mentioned Christianity, which on official forms I mark as my principal religion. I believe that to be Christian means to strive to be like Christ, who throughout his life taught his followers selflessness so that they might have compassion or love for the rest of the world. (Speaking of dying so others can live...) I couldn't consider myself a Christian if I condoned harming another living being.

Lots of people will say, "But Christians believe in violence! Think of all the wars they've started in the name of God!" It's true, I do believe in war (or violence), but never as a means for personal gain as is so often the case. The only time I condone violence (interchangeable in my opinion with "war"), and the only time I believe God condones violence (or war), is the taking of the aforementioned scar upon yourself for the sake and salvation of another living being.

This doesn't, however, excuse the people who would harm an abortion-performing doctor or say sickening things to a girl who's decided to have an abortion. A Christian who would do something like that has strayed pretty far from the path. First off, they're forgetting to love everyone as Christ loved them, and second, they're forgetting that no one person is worse in God's sight than any other.

Well, I feel like I've come to the conclusion of an essay. The only thing that's left is actually concluding. How to do that? I guess I just state that I disagree with abortion as a concept, decision, or action, and that I disagree with anyone who would try to physically or emotionally harm anyone involved with abortion. As Big Kenny would say, "Love Everybody."

That's a pretty lame ending, but it's over nonetheless. Feel free to post hateful or angry comments now.


What's Got Fatty So Worried?

Or, "Things That Make Me Paranoid About Pregnancy"
(Presented in no particular order.)
  1. Enis getting switched at birth with someone else's baby or kicked out of the nest by a parasite baby like those one birds have. I've already begged Josh to keep a marker in his pocket so he can write something on Enis the second the doctor hands him over. Failing that, I've also made Josh promise that he'll follow the staff everywhere if they have to take Enis out of my room for any reason. I'm not raising someone else's baby.
  2. Not knowing when labor starts. I've heard this fear is fairly common, but I feel like it's more likely to happen to me.
  3. Calling my doctor when labor starts. Because one, how can I call if I don't know? Two, how can I call if I don't have her number and it's the middle of the night? Three, I don't want to ask for her number.
  4. Forgetting to zip my fly when I don't have to wear maternity pants anymore. For 9 months I've been pulling them down and pulling them up, mission accomplished. This is how habits are formed, people!