Monday, March 11, 2019

Another Week, Another Sonnet

Good Monday morning. 

Well, the kids are officially on Spring Break. The kids actually have not been to school since last Wednesday, & the reason for that is a long, sordid story I'll share momentarily. It's an emotional story of how I turned my fear of vomit into something productive. 

Last week was atypical for a variety of reasons. On Monday morning I shared some thoughts on Mardi Gras, & you can read those - - - > here if you're so inclined (if you are a huge fan of Mardi Gras you might want to just skip my thoughts). A few hours later news broke that Luke Perry, who'd suffered a stroke the prior week, had died. I'll be honest & tell you I was kind of sad about this news. I'd gone to the grocery store Monday morning. I came back home to put up the milk & insulin that have to be refrigerated, & I needed to head out again to pick up the kids from school, but I sat in the living room for a few minutes in front of the fire. I drank a cup of coffee, & I let myself be sad. It was easy to indulge my sadness for a few minutes considering social media was, at least for me & many of my thirty-something friends, dominated by photos & memories of Luke Perry. He was the heartthrob who followed our years-long Zack Morris crush, after all.

Tuesday my presence at the community college was not required because most all public colleges & universities in Louisiana were out for Mardi Gras because we are a very serious people. I was still up early Tuesday to do morning duty with the kids, & then, if memory serves, I sat & drank coffee & read for a good while after Trey left to take them to school.

I should note that despite my days off from my part-time teaching job last week, it was a tough week for all of us because Trey had a bench trial that lasted through Thursday. He was gone all. day. long.  every day Monday through Thursday. They call it a trial for a reason, folks. The trial isn't over, so I can't tell you that he won or lost. It is on hiatus, I suppose, because there are still witnesses to be called, but the judge has other matters on his calendar now. Apparently they didn't block off enough days on the judge's calendar for this trial or something. I believe the additional witnesses will be heard & a verdict rendered in April. I realize this isn't overly exciting, but I just need you to understand there was a significant amount of tension in the air last week. The children felt it; I felt it. Obviously Trey was also impacted by the tension.

Due in part to the aforementioned tension, I dressed Wednesday morning, headed to Reagan's school to dose her insulin for lunch, & then I decided it would be nice to go sit & eat chips & salsa & fajitas all by myself. I did just that. It was wonderful. I was in a lovely mood when I arrived to pick the children up from school that afternoon, that is until I took a few steps down Henry's hall, the Pre-K hall, & I knew instinctively from the activity in the hallway & the faces of the teachers that someone had just vomited.

Over the course of the day Wednesday approximately six or seven children on the Pre-K hall had vomited. One of the vomiters was a student in Henry's class. I considered all this information as I drove home with the children Wednesday. I decided Henry was not returning to school Thursday. Thursday was the last day of school before the kids' Spring Break began, & so the plan was to withhold Henry completely, let Reagan go & take her spelling test, & then extract her from ground zero once her test was completed. Not wanting to possibly share germs with anyone else by asking them to keep Henry, I had to cancel my Thursday classes, which I know broke my students' hearts, but they likely cheered up when they saw the online assignments I posted in lieu of our physical meeting.

I fear stomach viruses for the same reason we all do, but I fear them maybe a little more than the average puke-averse mom for Reagan's sake. I knew from Wednesday's details there was a vicious bug circulating. We can usually overcome mild bugs that result in one, maybe two puking episodes. A  serious, all-day vomiting affair will usually land Reagan in the hospital.

Later Wednesday evening Henry's teacher sent out a class-wide message to let parents know more children had become ill once they arrived home from school Wednesday. I texted Reagan's teacher to let her know of our Thursday morning evacuation plan, & she told me to just keep Reagan at home. No student on Reagan's end of the hall had become ill at that point, but germs are persistent little villains. Many of the Pre-K students who either had puked or were exposed to the germs have older siblings.

I say all that to let you know the children & I spent Thursday at home together surrounded by paper grocery sacks that were lined with plastic trash bags. I was on pins & needles. I knew Henry would likely be patient zero in our house, & so I kept an eye on him, making sure he didn't eat or drink anything I didn't want to later scrub off my floor.

Thursday afternoon I was tired of worrying about whether or not the germs would plague our house, & I needed to occupy my mind. I started writing something (of a political nature, believe it or not). It grew & grew, & so I thought I'd revisit it at some point over the weekend & then share it right here on the blog.

I read a lot of news, & I generally read a handful of articles from The Federalist every week, sometimes multiple pieces they've put out each day. I recently had a friend (the lovely woman who edited Dear Miss Moreau) submit a piece they accepted & published. You can read her piece - - - > here. I decided to go look at their submission guidelines. They ask for: . . . items between 800 and 1,500 words. Successful submissions will cover newsworthy topics and fit the general style and tone of The Federalist. We largely seek two things: in-depth, thoughtful longreads on prominent issues of the day, and punchy responses to the breaking stories driving the latest news cycle.

My blogs run around 1,000 words on average. When you write a lot, word count is king. A thousand words usually come quickly. Don't tell students that, but it is true. I've often considered that I write around 4,000 words a month, on average, on this blog. That's about 50,000 words a year, or the equivalent of roughly half a novel. The truth that I know in my gut is that if I am to finish another book (at least before my kids are both in college) I will have to cut back on blogging. I don't know when that'll happen, or if I'll discover I prefer to keep blogging & maybe also write shorter pieces for publication elsewhere instead of attempting to finish another novel. I pick at fiction. I write scenes. I write dialogue that runs through my head, but actively plugging away at a coherent piece of long fiction is hard work.

Anyway, that was a longer detour down Word Count Road than I intended to take. My point was that what I'd written & was intending to share here already fit the submission guidelines for The Federalist . . . & so I just emailed it to them without much of a second thought. I guess maybe I was emboldened by the fact that it was late Thursday afternoon & no one had puked, but something just lit a fire under me, & I thought, Why not?

I got an email of acceptance Friday. They asked for a brief bio & a headshot, & so I of course texted my mom & Trey with the news before even composing the brief bio.

Here is a funny observation I will share with you. I think some of the males in my life are more impressed with my having one piece — one piece that comes in at around a thousand words & took me maybe thirty minutes to write — published by The Federalist than they are by my having spent a year writing an entire book that is a fictional romance. The texts I received in response to the news about The Federalist piece contained a lot of exclamation points. One text (from a former student) contained an expletive. And you know, that's fine. I just find it interesting. Different strokes for different folks.

It's nice to find outlets for your writing. It is nerve-wracking, too, knowing that my words are out there in front of a larger, more diverse, possibly angry audience. This little blog is usually visited by the same lovely group of people who have kind things to say, & I like it that way.

So, that's the story of how I channeled my vomit-anxiety into words you can read - - - > here. It's an inspiring story, I know.

I'll share two other tidbits from last week before I move on. First, on Friday night, tucked in my bed feeling pretty certain we'd escaped the vomit germs, I watched Music & Lyrics for the first time ever. I am sharing this to let you know this movie is on Netflix, & if you missed it when it was released in 2007 (as I did) you should watch it. It is hysterical. Hugh Grant plays a former eighties rock star who is tasked with writing a song for a hot young star who has a very Taylor Swift vibe about her. If you like Hugh Grant &/or eighties music, you should take the time to watch this while it's on Netflix.

The second tidbit is related to what I am reading. The March book club book is The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester. I may've mentioned this book to you before because I read it last year in order to screen its worthiness for the book club. Well, it is more than worthy of the book club's attention. I am rereading it now so the details will be fresh in my mind when I meet with the book club ladies, & I am thoroughly enjoying the reread. I won't say much more about it today other than it is an excellent read. If you enjoyed Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden this book has a somewhat similar vibe. It shifts from past (the past in this case being circa 1940) to present, there's a wonderful mystery, & there is, of course, some romance.

This week ahead will, like last week, be atypical for us. Tomorrow I will teach my classes (my Spring Break comes in a few weeks); the kids, who are, as you recall, enjoying Spring Break this week, will hang out with my mom tomorrow. I am not meeting with my classes Thursday. I told them at the beginning of the semester we would not meet March 14 as my plan to handle Spring Break was always to have my mom keep the kids one day & then cancel my classes on the other day of the week I teach. It's frustrating that I didn't hold classes this past Thursday due to vomit fears, but the great thing is last semester I went through online teacher training, & part of that training included concocting & preparing all manner of online quizzes & assignments, & so really we're not losing that much by missing these two physical meetings. The Internet is sometimes just the best thing ever.

On Thursday of this week my dad will be honored for the forty years he's spent practicing law with Hudson, Potts, & Bernstein, the firm with whom he has spent his entire legal career. I will turn thirty-nine later this year, & so I have no memories of a life without Hudson, Potts, & Bernstein. I am looking forward to the evening very much. I am excited about honoring my dad; I am excited about eating a steak while my in-laws care for my children across town.

I think this is a week that would make my late grandfather smile widely. I wish he could read my piece in The Federalist. I wish he could partake in the celebration for my dad Thursday night. We love & miss you, Jesse A. James, Jr., & your descendants continue to argue & write in ways that I think would make you proud. I think of you every time I insist on loading the dishwasher my way, & I think of you every time my fingers are flying over my keyboard.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. The temps are warming, there is pollen on my car, & I am exhausted from the hour of sleep I lost Saturday night. Still, I press on, losing myself in fiction & coffee. I hope to return in a week's time with photos from Thursday night's big event & tales of a healthy & relaxing Spring Break.


1 comment:

  1. I loved your Federalist article and so glad you miss the vomit bug!