Why I Feel Good About the Feathers in My Car’s Grill

Maybe I should have made a really ugly hat. (mainstylelist.com)

Or, to bastardize Emily Dickenson: Self-Forgiveness is the Car with Feathers in its Grill.

Doesn’t seem to make sense. That’s because sense has little or nothing to do with it. Sense is the thing that tries valiantly and in vain to override instinct, synapses, chemicals–namely, hormones.

Let me start again: Every May, drivers in Phoenix are treated to a feast of aviary roadkill. It is often found in pairs. Doves, I think. Of some kind. Rather small. Gray and feathery. In May, one will notice couples of these birds crossing the road, chasing one another from one lane to the other–blind to oncoming hazards much bigger, much harder, and with much more inertia than themselves.

For those of you who haven’t guessed it already, May is, for these birds, mating season.

Made me think of my own mating seasons. The strange, bad, funny, head-shakingly inappropriate choices I made in love on the road to Husbot. In disecting the intricacies of my intimacies, it is easy to not forgive myself some of the remarkable detours along the way. In my MFA Creative Nonfiction program, we were warned about this. Be kind, we were told. Be kind to your younger self. You were only a child. A teen. A young woman. Still a young woman. And be kind to yourself, now. I know everyone preaches that. But it begs the question: If I’m TOO kind, then how the hell will I EVER learn ANYTHING? Ah, that darned rationality stepping in again.

I recommend to everyone who can empathize to drive under the speed limit toward two birds walking in the road–one named Romeo, the other Juliet–expecting them to fly away at the last moment, thus miraculously avoiding contact with your car as birds always do–and then thwump, feeling the impact on your grill and watching a shower of small gray feathers wash across your windshield. It might make you realize that we need to forgive ourselves our mistakes in love. And consider ourselves lucky in all cases in which we don’t end up just a feather under the windshield wiper.

 

 

 

Gingerbread Cocktails and the Gloppy Bloppo

This is me, floating on a puff of whipped cream in an oasis of calm. (muchadoaboutfooding.com)

I have stepped out of the space-time continuum for sixty-eight hours and entered a world where the most madness occurs in a poorly-written knitting pattern and the most physical activity has been achieved by a monstrously fluffy kitty who murdered a bunny in the backyard.

No, I have not been institutionalized: my friend of thirty-seven years, Solveig, flew me to Colorado for an early forty-fifth birthday present. We have done little but sit and eat Pad See-Ewe and dark chocolate and she has knitted and plied me with cocktails, and I of course have been writing.

But it hasn’t been much fun. The writing part, I mean. I’m at a crossroads which is another way of saying I’m feeling a little lost. One thing I loved about writing for magazines was that I had a specific assignment. Another was that I had a deadline. Another was that I loved learning about the lives of the people I interviewed. I loved the certainty of publication, and that a large number of people would enjoy and/or learn from what I’d written. The downside was the small paycheck, which made it impossible for me to do full-time and also feed myself.

I am not currently writing for magazines or for anyone other than myself and my blogdience. I am considering a rewrite of the novel but must first weigh the value of the intensive time commitment. I am almost ready to pick up the thesis I completed last spring and turn it into a book–a memoir about fumbling my way through one bad relationship after another (The Gay Exfiance, The Sociopathic Candyman, The Congenial Excon, etc.

In the meantime, I have returned to my first literary love: picture books. In the nineties, I made several attempts, received several  extremely polite rejection letters and requests for more work, and then, due to youth and impatience, I think, quit trying. My early lack of persistence was astonishing.

But this blog reminded me of my love for combining words and images. And, I cleverly became a mother, thus creating my own captive audience–an audience that has no qualms about expressing boredom if a character is dull or a plotline is predictable or my verbal flourishes are self-indulgent. Really, it makes the learning curve MUCH shorter.

And so now I’ve recently finished a manuscript called Squeak and the Gloppy Bloppo. It’s eight hundred words, and with any luck, they are the right ones.

In the past two days, along with polishing off a gingerbread martini, an orange-jalapeno martini, and a pomegranate-elderflower martini, I polished my manuscript and the cover letter. According to Solveig’s handy breathalyzer, I was never legally drunk–when cocktails are stretched out over a twelve-hour period, you can have your drink and your relative sobriety, too. I would have renewed my efforts at researching agents, via the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, which provides a wonderful network of writers, illustrators, agents, and editors), except that when I opened my notebook with my list of twenty targets, I found I’d brought Mbot’s field journal, instead. The crayon drawings of angry birds, one-eyed robots, creekbugs, and monsters made me miss the bots terribly and reflect on the dichotomies of passions, careers, quiet time, and motherhood.

It made me think about how one of the easy things about motherhood is that I have an assignment, I have deadlines, I learn every day about interesting people and situations and things, and others appreciate what I’m doing. The downside of course is the low paycheck. Also of course that a bath can be undone in three minutes in the sandbox, and a book is slightly less easy to destroy.

But a children’s book manuscript, by an unknown author, in today’s publishing environment, is not a sure thing. And even if it ever does, it is not helping to pay the Amex bill today. It makes me question whether I’m being realistically hopeful or simply self-indulgent. These are some of the things mothers ask themselves, too, about motherhood. Both writing and motherhood are exercises in persistence, patience, and faith.

But people are enjoying the story. I first told it nearly two months ago, and every few days, Mbot mentions the gloppy bloppo, or Magnolia, the heroine. He asks what I’d do if he turned into the gloppy bloppo, and I pretend to have forgotten the trick to turning a gloppy bloppo back into a little boy.

So we’ll see. Uncertainly is uncomfortable. And there is nothing like being surrounded by peace and calm, kitties and knitting, to give me  a chance to think about the uncertainties. A gingerbread cocktail is comforting, but sadly, it’s only a temporary solution. Learning to live comfortably with uncertainty is the answer.

Working on it.

 

 

I Cheerfully Accept the Versatile Blogger Award as My Airspace Fills with Flying Dinosaurs

Six months into my blog-o-rama, I received this Versatile Blogger Award. Woohoo! Thanks for the nomination, iGameMom!

There are 3 rules for accepting this award:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post: iGameMom

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

  • I am 5’10″.
  • I am 44.
  • My Bots are 3 3/4 and 2 1/2 (except for Husbot, who just turned 49, the dog, 12, and the antique cat, 16). The math shows that I’m tired.
  • Last week, while driving the Bots in my parents’ car on vacation in Idaho, I got pulled over for going my age in a 35-mph zone. We got off with a friendly warning and two golden Junior Sheriff stickers, which blew any chance I had of keeping my speeding a secret from Nanny and Poppy.
  • Conversation in my house at this moment: Mbot: “Mom, I’m saying ‘asparagus,’ and my brother is laughing.’ His brother is standing in his crib giggling and banging his head against the wall. It is Quiet Time here like ketchup is a vegetable. Mbot now has tossed Baxter, his stuffed moose, over the back of the sofa. “I can’t say ‘asparagus’ now cuz I lost my moose.’ In the background, “The Flower Duet” from Leo Delibes’ opera Lakme gives the false impression that there are people in the room who are calm.
  • I love discovering new blogs–there are so many fascinating and funny ones–but seriously, who has time to read them, especially new Mombots out there? I am flabbergasted and flattered that my readers are….reading.
  • Every time we drive anywhere now, Gbot says, “Mommy, you are dwiving toooo faaassst!” I would like to think this is the fault of the friendly if overzealous policewoman we met on Thursday, but maybe it is not.

3. Pass this award along to 15 other bloggers.

I am working on this one. It is a fun project, but also a big challenge, since it’s all I can do to find time to actually write my posts. I just visited The Good Greatsby (the daddy blogger of 230,187 hits), and he is seriously hilarious, but when I read that he’s at his computer sixteen hours a day, his bona-fide-ness as a daddy blogger kind of lost its bonafidity. At the computer sixteen hours a day? If I blew myself up for the Jihad, that’s where I would go instead of to the place with the seventy-two virgins. I’m overstating my point, of course, because the weeBots are my path to immortality and joy, but good god, is a one-hour quiet time without two potty emergencies, three unauthorized naked-butt incidents, four projectile-bombing of brothers with Magna-tiles, five crib escapes, six sofa mutinies, and an owie too much to ask?*

*The numbers in this account have been D’Agata-ed.**

**Dag-at-’uhd (verb): from the noun “D’Agata,” the surname of editor and lyric essayist John D’Agata, whose tenuous grip on reality, ethics, and math has enjoyed much recent publicity.

And so I will nominate fellow Versatile Bloggers as I discover them; it’s my hope to add to the list weekly. I am happily able to name four today, while, now, a giant Tyrannasaurus Rex is flying through the airspace in my living room. If I stop to think of more, someone might get hurt.

Vivid Living “Life in full bloom, thorns and all”…Nancy Sharp’s articulate insights are always inspiring, often awe-inspiring.

Braided Brook Russ Beck and Dylan Klempner edit this wonderful site that features personal essays from a variety of talented authors. Submissions accepted.

The Middlest Sister Nicole Belanger Smeltzer has probably been nominated many times over for her fabulous cut-and-paste comics. She’s been Freshly Pressed (which doesn’t always mean greatness, but she is all the good things we imagine when we think of FP). I see she now has a contract with a literary agent, too–hooray!

Simplicity Mom Stephanie Green is one of those people who seem to defy the laws of time, space, and economics. She moms, wifes, gardens, sews, cooks, cans, disciplines, diets, reads, socializes (and must sleep somewhere in there), and writes about it. Now that I’ve thought about all that, I have to go take a nap. Apparently I am the only one in this household who needs one.

Idaho Vacation, Part 3: Han Solo Will Never Need Botox

This Lego action figurine does not come with interchangeable gray hair. http://www.squidoo.com

Due to more snow, our flight last night did not even take off from Twin Falls, eighty miles away–it was cancelled altogether. But while we’re here, we’re doing as the locals do.

Last week we went to Tuesday Science Story Hour at the Ketchum Children’s Library. Miss Ann, an ageless font of knowledge about the natural world, anchors a circle of usually over twenty preschoolers and mesmerizes all present with books, felt board demonstrations, fossils, more recent skeletons like that of a mouse, found in her neighbor’s attic, and a dehydrated chipmunk, courtesy of her neighbor’s cat. The last time we went, in August, Miss Ann brought a lizard of some kind, and meal worms for him to eat. Someone had made the mistake of feeding the lizard beforehand, though, and the meal worms lived to see another day.

This week, Miss Ann brought Jaja the hamster.

Everyone got to feel how fluffy Jaja was; I felt lucky to escape without Mbot insisting we take Jaja home with us.

Meanwhile, Gbot had other things to attend to. After circumnavigating the library at a run (trying to catch him between the shelves was like racing down the corridors of the Death Star in search of a way out), he discovered a side room in which an older kid, too old, apparently, for Miss Ann and Jaja, was examining a pop-up Star Wars book.

The older kid took great pleasure in describing, in appropriately hushed tones, each character and pop-up setting. Most of it was news to me because, although I’ve seen the first four episodes–the original as an eleven-year old in 1978 nine months after it opened–and have watched the original many times over, I intentionally missed the final two. I was just not interested in armies of computer-generated organisms fighting epic battles. I think I wanted to hold onto my memories of a young Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

Then the big kid turned to the page with Han Solo. Gbot and I stared, fascinated.

I’m willing to bet we were fascinated for different reasons.

I was struck as though by a light saber by the fact that Han Solo hasn’t aged.

And at the same time, I was struck by the fact that I have.

It wasn’t about recognizing my own mortality–I got that when I became pregnant with Mbot and felt, as I never had before, how necessary I was for the life growing inside me, but how expendable I was, too, creating my own replacement. No, this moment with Han Solo had to do with how immortal he was. He hasn’t aged one day since 1977.

This week, I rediscovered fairy tales in the books my mother had saved from my own childhood, and so I was primed to consider how George Lucas is the twentieth-century Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson. How Han Solo will live, brown-haired and wrinkle-free (alongside Harry Potter) for centuries beyond my allotted maybe-four-score-plus-maybe. How I had witnessed the birth of this fairy tale, and how much power these immortal stories hold, a literary web we take for granted that connects us and our children not just to each other but to our past.

I was able to get seats for us on a flight on Friday. We are crossing our fingers. Maybe one cool thing about the Millennium Falcon is that it can land in snow?

Robot, Hero, Discovered in Arizona Desert

They're right there, on the Lucky Charms. (www.inhabitots.com)

Although I reminded Husbot twice before I left town and texted him both the night before and the morning of Mbot’s show-and-tell, to remind him about it, I neglected to mention Recycle Robot.

We had discussed him several times before I left. To the every-fourteen-business-days question, “What would you like to bring for show-and-tell?”, last week Mbot replied, “Recycle Robot.” I was surprised he remembered Recycle Robot. Recycle Robot the First had lived an exciting yet abbreviated life in the limelight (see Recycle Robot vs. Sister Mary Villus.)

In our discussions, I said things like, “If you want to bring Recycle Robot to show-and-tell, we need to build him. Would you like to build him now?” And something would always happen–drawing a picture or becoming Wonder Girl or becoming Fasci the horse or zooming around the house on his Strider bike–and Recycle Robot would retreat into the hazy future. Show-and-tell wasn’t ’til Thursday. Which, in preschooler years, isn’t ’til December.

I thought Mbot would forget about Recycle Robot. Did I really think this? No. But I fervently hoped it. Surely he would fixate on a flattened penny, or one of Daddy’s maps of the Coconino National Park, or his new fave bedtime friend, the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book from the library.

Today, far away in Chicago, I pushed away the niggling fear that Recycle Robot would rise to haunt me, as I went from the Goucher booth at the AWP Book Fair to the panel on the mix of motherhood and writing (the product of which does not combust if combined in just the right manner) to another on running writer’s workshops. Before I headed out to a reading by the poet laureates of both Great Britain and the United States, Husbot called.

“How is everything going?” I asked from my perch overlooking the Chicago skyline.

“Great, just fine,” said Husbot. “Except,”

I froze. I knew that Recycle Robot was coming to haunt me.

“…Except at 10:30 yesterday, Mbot sprung on me that he was going to bring Recycle Robot to show-and-tell.”

I sat rigid on my puffy, immaculate bedspread and did the math. 10:30. That would give Husbot exactly seventy-five minutes to make Recycle Robot. Subtracting time spent coaxing the Bots into the bathroom, convincing them into socks, supervising the application of shoes, acquiring last-minute food and drinks, and loading into the Midget Mobile, I calculated that this left no more than six minutes and thirty-eight seconds for the design and construction of Recycle Robot.

“I tried to talk him into something else,” continued Husbot. “But he was insistent. And he was good about not throwing a sputterfuss.”

“What happened?” I asked. I felt like I was watching a Hitchcock film. Everything was pretty bad, and you waited, and waited, and then things got much worse.

Husbot’s voice was nonchalant. “We made Recycle Robot.”

I blinked. “What?”

“I found a Triscuits box, and we put on a plastic head, and got cardboard tubes for legs….Mbot drew a face on him, and wrote his name on the back…It was great. He was very pleased with it. Everyone really liked it.”

Thoughts whirled in my head: Why couldn’t I pull Recycle Robot out of my ass? It had taken us almost two hours to make Recycle Robot the First. Of course, I had insisted on articulated limbs.Why did Husbot sound so relaxed about it? It’s not like he was the show-and-tell expert. I had needed an extra glass of wine the night that Recycle Robot the First was born. But those thoughts splintered and disintegrated like cheap fireworks and the one that filled the pristine room on South Michigan Avenue was:

It’s things like this that make women fall in love.

Who was your hero today?

Report from Chicago: Robot People, Monsters, and Me

The monsters in Chicago are, for the most part, benign. (www.usersites.horrorfind.com)

I am in Chicago.

I am here for the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference and Book Fair. According to the AWP website, 7,999 others are here for it, too.

The day before I left, I explained to the Bots that I was going to Chicago. They know that I will be gone for one-two-three-four days. Mbot knows that Chicago is not too far away and on the North American continent, and, that, according to a Google Street View, it has robot people walking in front of the big castles, but he does not think they are bad robot people. Gbot knows that he can see Chicago by looking south from the top of the jungle gym.

I know that it is windy and I have been alone but surrounded by people now for twenty-four hours. The conference starts in an hour. Last night I sat at the bar and perused the four hundred on-site events that I could attend if I had Hermione Granger’s time-turner, everything from “Behind the Book: Debut authors reveal the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” to “Ear Candy: Teaching the Pleasures of Poetic Meter.”

There are some talks about composing narrative, the value of the traditional form and the possibilities of breaking the mold. I thought of the story Mbot told me a few nights ago as I was putting him to bed. It went like this:

“Mom, do you know what camping is? It’s when you go into a dark forest. With a fork.* And if you find a monster?”

He raised his eyebrows, tipped his head to one side, and raised both hands, palms up, beside his cheeks. “Oh, well! The monster eats ya.”*

So much for the happy ending.

I was surprised by his story because Mbot has a distinct aversion to scary things, particularly in stories. Whenever anything unpleasant happens in a movie we are watching–even if happens to a bad guy–he jumps off the sofa and retreats into the kitchen with Junepbear, who apparently also dislikes onscreen unpleasantness.

But scary is part of every story, part of traditional narrative arcs and nontraditional narratives alike. Our heroes start in a place no more than medium-good, face scary parts, then conquer the badness to arrive at a happier place than they occupied at the beginning.

So now it is 8:27 and time for me to go out and learn. I am excited about that part. It’s the thought of meeting those other 7,999 conference attendees that makes me uneasy, the thought that I perhaps won’t try hard enough to meet others, although I know I will enjoy a good many of them and begin a few friendships. Even now, at forty-four,  a professional and a mother, it’s more comfortable for me to sit and write than to go out and meet people.

But Chicago is full of good robot people, and Gbot is keeping an eye on me from the top of his jungle gym. So it’s time to kick myself out of my capsule of comfort on the nineteenth floor and head out into the wind and the world. And if I’m a little scared? Scary is all part of the story.

Where are you along your narrative arc?

*Mbot is big into the fork as weapon, ever since he saw a picture in one of my books of a sculpture of the Greek sea god Poseidon holding a trident.

**It is still unclear as to whether the monster eats you with your own fork.

Welcome to Superhero Underpants, the Blog Formerly Known as five to six.

Superhero underpants are always at the ready. Plus, they look great with boots.

For those of you who tune in regularly, you no doubt noticed that the name of this blog has changed.

But the blog itself has not.

My original intention of writing from five to six o’clock each morning, setting down a concrete meditation before the ruckus rose around me, was a really great goal. I loved the idea. But then the ruckus started rising at 5:30.

And as the days became weeks and then months, I regularly managed to 1. fail at the a.m. meditation thing and 2. write about superhero underpants.

Superhero underpants speak to me. Although I don’t wear them myself, I spend a lot of time with them, and not always under the most favorable circumstances.

Even Gbot, who is not yet fully potty trained, senses the power in them. I think everyone could benefit from something that makes them feel braver, stronger, taller, and more batlike or spidery than they are. There’s a special kind of confidence that comes from knowing that Batman’s got your backside.

And then there’s this angle: if motherhood were a piece of clothing, it wouldn’t be a Chanel gown or even a pair of stretchy jeans. It would superhero underpants: working behind the scenes, 24/7, supporting and protecting, vanquishing messes small and large.

In addition, there’s that pesky compulsion of mine to save things (see “Saving the World, One Stick of Secret at a Time.”) There’s that part of me that thinks I can save the day by writing it down and, literally, saving the day. Not as impressive as sending Mongul back into outer space, but hey, that’s already been done, right?

Who’s got your backside….And how do you save the day?

Sending Up Cool Words

Eyes and throat behaving (almost) normally at last. Midgets behaving completely normally: yesterday morning, Gbot squeezed hand cream all over a box and Mbot shook Gbot’s milk-filled sippy cup into the mouth of the tyrannosaurus but the milk mostly ended up all over the rug. In the aftetrnoon, Gbot doused himself in cold coffee that I’d forgotten to remove from Midget-level and the cup crashed to the floor. Body fluids were mopped from the floor, fortunately, none of them blood. No one listened on our walk, making me marvel at the selective deafness of all three (both Midgets and the dog). I thought briefly of the Christmas cards I’ve been trying to send out. I suppose now they will be New Year’s cards. Or President’s Day cards or Valentine cards. Bastille Day. Columbus Day.

I wouldn’t bother but I believe they’re important. I don’t want to be one of those people who people forget to care about because we apparently don’t care enough about them to keep in touch. But keeping in touch sometimes stretches my abilities. I have to remind myself how important it is.

Mbot just came into the room and climbed up onto the bed. I think my blogging moment for the day is over.

“Mom, there was a little tiny battle in my nose. It just taked for a little bit of years, a whole bunch of years. I had to get some…some blood that was not good for the other cilia and silly looking blood cell guys, so I had to get it out of my nose.”

“Did you need a tissue?”

“Yeah, I need to get another one off.” Pause. He scooted close under the covers to look at the computer screen. “Yeah, those are cool words you’re putting on your computer. Are those computer words? Are you sending up the words?”

“Yes, Bug.”

“I have a secret, mom. I love you. I don’t want Tesserwell to get cranky with Gbot because I love Gbot. I keep him safe and warm. When he gets cold, I spread a blanket over him.” Oh. Maybe that’s why he was pushing a big pillow on his brother’s head yesterday.

The day’s begun. The blog post scooted out under the wire but don’t bother checking the mailbox for a New Year’s card yet. But at least I got to send up a few words.

Are you sending up cool words today?

Look Out!

Burt Lancaster pours a drink in The Swimmer, based on a Cheever short story. http://www.thisrecording.com

Antibiotics and eye drops are helping, although my mother-in-law tells me that I still look terrible. I admit, I am not going to be ready for my close-up any time soon.

There is an upside to feeling like poop, though, and it is this: if you are fortunate to have someone looking after your midgets, you can actually lie down and read in the middle of the day without feeling like you should be taking the Christmas tree down. And so that’s what I did. I read Home Before Dark, nonfiction writer and novelist Susan Cheever‘s 1984 biographical memoir of her dad, the Pulitzer-winning, National Book Award-winning novelist and short story writer John Cheever (whose memory bears the distinction of being called to life in Seinfeld and Madmen episodes). I like to see how a complex and nearly lifelong relationship can be reduced to two hundred and fifty pages or less. I wonder, as I always do, about the mountains and mountains of facts and moments and characters and stories that were there, in the lives, but that were left out to make the story.

Intent on finding a copy of Cheever senior’s 1977 novel Falconer, I turned to my old friend, Amazon. And there I quickly learned that, fifteen years after publishing the chronicle of her father’s life–which dealt largely with his alcoholism and how it affected his work and relationships (and vice-versa)–his daughter published her own memoir. It’s called Note Found in a Bottle: My Life as a Drinker.

Knock me over with a feather. Should I have had an inkling? In the story of her father, there was no hint that she shared his disease. And I think: What an extraordinary feat, to tell his story without letting her own get in the way. She was, for a long time, an editor at Newsweek, which no doubt strengthened a natural inclination to look outward instead of inward. But sometimes it’s not so easy to separate the two.

I appreciate the reminder to keep looking out, out, out, even if my eyes might be crusted shut with goop. Better that than crusted shut with egocentric self-indulgence. Antibiotics cannot get rid of that. Unless of course you are bacteria.

What did you look out and see today?

And on the Ninth Day, She Blogged.

If I have time to write a (belated) letter to Santa, then certainly I can summon the resources to write a formal apology to my followers for the unannounced nonblogathon I completed the week around Christmas. Those of you who read “Dear Santa” will understand that it was a busy time. But it’s not like I was in a coma or anything. I have been busy in the past and managed to blog. So what was different this time? (And no, I still  maintain that any lapse is NOT because I was watching back-to-back episodes of House, really. Netflix only allows me one DVD at a time and doesn’t stream the good doctor.)

But for the sake of clarity, let’s do a differential diagnosis:

Mental fatigue

Physical exhaustion

100 notable things occurring per hour

It’s a short list. Everything points to hyperinput in a weakened state, causing a crash in the system. I kept noticing things, and even grabbing scraps of paper and scribbling down quotes and observations. But there was so much. And at the end of the day, and at the beginning, so few resources to process it. What do I blog about? I would think each day. And then: What do I not blog about? And no one, even my mother, although she would refute it, really wants to read the unabridged version.

In the 2000 movie Wonder Boys, Michael Douglas plays a professor and acclaimed novelist who’s been writing his second book for years. It’s reached over a thousand pages. A student finds the unfinished behemoth in his desk, reads it, and says something to the effect of: “You always tell us that writing is about making choices. But…you didn’t make any.”

Blogging has taught me many things. Time management is not among them. But this is: that writing is about making choices. Writing’s not much different from cooking, or getting dressed in the morning for that matter: a little bit of this, and an awful lot of not that. A lot of the work is in deciding what to leave out.

This morning, on the last day of the year, the Midgets made purple hand prints on the New York Times after painting rocks. I insisted they wear smocks (two maternity tops that come to their ankles, worn backwards and tied around the waist). Gbot calls his smock a “Monet” because Mbot has told him that Monet always wore a smock to paint in. “He has a tiger smock. He got it at Chuckee Cheese’s. Mom, did you know that Monet started out as a talking billy goat?”

I did not. But I know that two months ago, Monet was really really small, and he was a really really old mouse named Googy. When I told Mrs. Pursell this during the parent-teacher conference, she smiled and brought out the photograph of the painter that she’d been showing the class. It was about 1 1/2″ inches high. We all agreed that Monet, if not a mouse, was at least really really old, and really really small.

When you remember this day, this year, what will you leave in? What will you leave out?