My Daddy has no respect for the hustle…(#94)

 

No matter how many times I try to convince people that I actually DO write at home, people unintentionally make a lot of assumptions about my time.  I, as far as they are concerned, live within a time vortex that is void of physical limitations, responsibilities, gravity, or time constraints. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for me to be asked to:

1.) Watch someone’s child on a moment’s notice,

2.) Drop off a package at FedEx,

3.) Look up and compare airline ticket prices,

4.) Make a life-changing decision for someone else.

Considering that I oftentimes do need a break from teaching a human how to be human or looking at the blank pages of my Scrivener screen (that’s a writing program), I normally try really hard to not take these arbitrary requests personally.  Besides, I figure that no one in my mental rolodex mocks my declarations for daily productivity as much as my Daddy, who as a retiree also tends to treat me as a retiree.  (Regardless of how many times I try to convince him that I really AM doing something other than watching The Family Feud while at home.)

I love my Dad with all my heart so that’s why I talk to him several times a day about new car models, Good Morning America and Sports Channel highlights, or whether he should eat a Subway and Potbelly sandwich for lunch.

With each detail that he likes to ponder about his meals, I remind myself that helping him decide these “important” issues is the least I could do since he gave me life and 30+ years of support.

Should I get an extra jar of hot peppers for the house?  Hot? Mild? Medium?

What type of chips do you think I should get?  

What’s the name of that cookie your momma likes to get?

(With each question I weep silently…)

It’s usually only once the last detail of his meal is decided / or topic of choice has been fully discussed does he acknowledge that my youngest has likely been yelling, “Want iPad!” or “Uh oh, I boo-boo’d” in the background.

“Well, I see you are busy,” he says coyly.  “You should have told me you were busy.”

“I should have?” I always ask sarcastically. 

“Yes pookie,” he usually replies.

I roll my eyes and laugh because we both know that I never will. 


 

 

I’m NEVER going to finish this second book (…without Jay Z and Jesus) (#95)

It’s 7:34, I just opened my laptop, and all I can think is

“How in the [BLEEPPPPPPPPPPPP] am I going to finish another book?”  

[As I hear my oldest child yell at my husband, “I AM NOT AN ALIEN!” from the other room.]

I can’t settle on a point of view, I keep falling asleep during my writing hours, and…

[As the recurring question, “Mommy, am I an alien?” continues to ring through the air.]

and…

[As my youngest kid runs down the hallway, wet and naked.]

…because I’m nervous about introducing too many new characters into the next book because nothing is worse than not being able to keep up with all the characters in a book.

It will get done, it will.  

I just need someone to bring me the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Chalice of the Last Supper, and the single thug tear that Jesus wept when Lazarus died to make this happen.

It feels impossible, it really does, but just saying that makes me want to listen to Jay Z’s verse on the Diamonds from Sierra Leone Remix.  

As a matter of fact…

[Hearing Shirley Bassey’s voice in the background]

[Hearing Jay Z’s voice]

“The pressure’s on, but guess who ain’t gon’ crack? [laughs]
Pardon me I had to laugh at that
How could you falter when you’re the rock of Gibraltar
I had to get of the boat so I could walk on water
This ain’t no tall order, this is nothin to me
Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week
I do this in my sleep…”

[Hands waiving in the air.]

Yes!!! Jigga man, yes! 

[Opened my eyes to see my youngest trying to put a Veggie Straw down a floor vent.]

Yep, finishing this book will be nothing short of a miracle…when it happens.

 

 

 

 

Penises, Paginas, and The Walking Dead (#96)

I am the mother of two boys.

If you don’t belong to the “All Boys + One Girl Club” then just close your eyes, imagine every insane thing that you think a little boy might do in his lifetime, then roll it into 24 hours and multiple it by two.

Add a chocolate milk addiction, a perpetual curiosity with their anatomy, and an eternal attachment to your breasts, then you have finally entered my household.

I love my kids…I love them. I love them. I love them.

[As my youngest walks into the room and falls out for really no apparent reason…]

[Chanting to myself….I love my kids…I love my kids…I love my kids…]

Being a parent can be scary. While you try to nurture your kids’ natural inclination to look at the world with wonder, you also have to teach them to look at the world with a certain degree of caution. No sooner than you ween your kid off the teet, you have to consider how soon you should wait before you teach them about Stranger Danger, anaphylaxis, and the small parameter of people who are allowed to touch their bodies.

And because boys are…well, boys…as soon as my kids begin to pull on their penises with curiosity, I try to make a big deal out of their discovery.

“Hey, that’s your penis! Say, ‘Hi Penis!'”

As most Child Psychologists recommend, there’s no “Mr. Winky” in my house. Taking ownership of the one thing that will likely be their best friend and best enemy is something that we try to start as early as possible. When they interrupt a phone call with a non-emergency, I calmly ask, “Has your arm or penis fallen off?” After taking stock, my boys know that if everything is still attached, that their request can probably wait.

And it’s worked out fine so far, that is, until my oldest boy came home inquiring about “Paginas.”

Suddenly his frequent  bursts into the bathroom weren’t just to ask for pickles, but to ask, “Are you peeing from you PAGINA?”

These questions would follow me throughout the day, and have become increasingly more difficult to answer.

“Why do women have PAGINAS?”

“Did God take away your penis?”

“Does your PAGINA belong to the urinary or digestive system?

Suddenly, my cool, calm and anatomically-liberated thinking began to unravel. Do I go the religious route, the medically approved route, is this the time to mention Caitlyn Jenner?

Overwhelmed at his sudden curiosity about the anatomy of the opposite sex, I defaulted to a response that is tried and true, one that has been handed down from generation-to-genearation.

I said, “(Boy #1) The word is vagina. Va-gina. Girls have va-ginas. They are girl’s super-secret personal area and it does strange and scary things. Just like no one should touch your penis, I hear that you might die if you touch a girl’s va-gina. And this is a good thing, because girls have horrible cooties. Even the cute ones.”

Somehow, he was appeased by the answer and I was able to walk away from the conversation without further trauma to either of us.

And since cooties = zombies….

Can we give it up one time for how PHENOMENAL “The Walking Dead” was last night?

Oh Maggie…Oh Carol…Oh Glenn…my bet is that one of you all are not going to make it through the next episode. I’ve come to the conclusion that (on 99% of the shows on television, Wheel of Fortune included), if someone makes you the beacon of hope then you are going to die…or hit bankruptcy. As soon as they showed us the ultrasound of new life in the last week’s episode, and everyone was on the bus smiling as they drove back to the Alexandria Safezone with Jesus to vote on whether they were going to kill all the Saviors….I shook my head. I knew that they were goners.

Although I hope that I’m wrong! But with Negan lurking in the background to make his on-screen debut, I’ve already put all three characters on my prayer list this week.

If you need a little inspiration…(#97)

Around this time of year, most Chicagoans are already planning ahead to the first day of summer (since Spring IS NOT guaranteed in our dear city).  Though this has been a fairly mild winter, most of us recognize that we still may have between 1-3 additional months of cold weather with the possibility of a random blizzard popping up out of nowhere.  (Thanks Canada!)

Despite the frigid temps, I can already smell the fajitas at Uncle Julios on North Avenue and can already taste the Rum Punch at Ja’Grill in Hyde Park.  I wish I could go and get a mani/pedi right now for my yet-to-be planned vacation and am already trying to lose weight in honor of the beignets/grilled oysters/crab/fried catfish/gumbo/pralines that I’m going to eat in Louisiana.

So whether you are in the Windy City or elsewhere and are like me — depleted of Vitamin D and in desperate need of a change of scenery and a strong mojito – check out this list I came across of world destinations, close your eyes, and imagine yourself someplace you have never been, with people you want to be with, doing things you probably shouldn’t be doing.  🙂

World Vacation List

 

 

 

Good morning ramblings…(#98)

I have always been a very early riser but my kids take early mornings to the next level.  The littlest one usually comes creeping into our bedroom around 5:00 am to try to steal our vacuum cleaner (don’t ask me why).

On days when he doesn’t feel like early morning housecleaning he simply climbs into our bed, sits on top of me and says, “Mommy. Mommy. Mommy,” until I decide to stop faking like I’m sleep.

My oldest, sleeps a bit later and doesn’t creep out of his bed until closer to 5:30 am.  By the time he slumbers into our room, he is dressed in his spiderman robe, a winter cap and gloves, and is usually carrying an obscene amount of children’s books with him.

I know you aren’t supposed to call your kids bad but at a minimum I think I can fairly call mine quirky with strong anti-authority tendencies. Their most favorite activity in the entire world is running around the house naked before bath time. I could write an anthology about how bad, explorative, mischevious my kids are but I don’t want them to sue me when they get older.

(Right now my oldest is trying to talk to me about the solar system.  How do I tell him to beat it without breaking his spirit? #mommaproblems)

Moving on…

So my husband challenged me to a 100 day write-off (to get me out of my writing coma) which probably sounds odd since he is a dentist.  In college, shortly after we first met, he let me read a few short stories that he had written and I desperately tried to convince him not to go to dental school (true story) because they were so good. #thankyouforignoringmyhorribleadvice

This was before I had ANY thought of being a writer myself and way before I realized that writers are typically impoverished.

The last time we wrote together, the superiority of his story made me stop writing for months. I’m not saying this because we sleep together but there is a genius to his storytelling that I hope the world gets to read one day.

On the topic of writing…

It’s almost time to leave to make the kid’s breakfast but I’m excited about writing my second book.  I’ve had 90% of the story in my head for a few months but there is a part of me that still wonders if it’s the right story to tell.  Until I know how the first and last chapter will end, the story can still go anywhere.  I know what I want to write and I have an idea about what people want to read, so I’m just trying to figure out who will get what they want.

About tragic endings…

I’m also thinking about the SUITS finale on USA last night.  (Clenching my heart.) SOOOO GOOD.  Now, I kinda get why people were traumatized by the end of the Lotus.  I NEED for Mike Ross to be okay.  I need for him to get his happily ever after.  Just thinking about him going to federal prison makes me want to cry but, I get it.  We don’t realize just have much we love our heroes, even when they have done bad, until we see them hurt.  But if Harvey Spector would have gone to jail, I probably would have just died in my bed.  That would’ve been too much.

So to all of you who sent me late night emails and text messages about Lotus getting left in the airport, I’m sorry.

…But I had to do it.

 

On being no more, and no less… (#99)

 

 

When I was a child, my father instilled two major lessons in my siblings and I:

1.) Always try to do the right thing (which included getting good grades, doing our chores, and NEVER EVER walking around the house barefoot),

2.) To remember to always “put the shoe on the foot” when faced with almost any life problem.

The platitude of considering other’s perspectives became an attribute so steeped within me that it almost became an otherworldly gift I possessed.  With time, my father’s directive to always see myself in other people, felt like equal parts quest and calling.  So in the 3rd grade, when I became friends with a girl who would become my best friend for many years, I tried hard to understand why our lives looked so differently.

Technically, I didn’t do anything but be born and I wasn’t even as good of a student as her, so trying to wrap my mind around why her family had to struggle financially and mine did not never made sense in my young mind.  As a result, the idea was born that nothing I received in life could be solely attributed to my own effort.  In fact, as I became older, it was easier to speculate that divine luck was on my side rather than to believe that I deserved anything over anyone else.

It wasn’t until recently (and by recently I mean last week) that I realized that the problem with always believing that I was no better than anyone else was that I couldn’t depart from that narrative over the years that it felt like my life suddenly began to go apesh*t. (Sorry mom.)

During the many years where it felt like nothing was working for me remained the thinking that my difficulties and challenges were happening because I truly was no better than anyone else.  My way of understanding myself in relation to others had become cancerous.

For a time longer than I would like to admit, disappointment began to make a certain sense.  Of course things would happen to them and not me, I would unconsciously believe.

Because: Me = Unworthy and underserving

My poor understanding of God and humility almost sent me to the pity party of no return.

Even though I am far from my roughest days, it wasn’t until recently that I came to understand how and why my well-intentioned thinking had led me so off track.  By only believing that I wasn’t worthy of the good things in my life, I subjugated God to the role of an arbitrary hoarder and unreasonable warden of good will and blessings.  By failing to also understand that I am also no less worthy of any good thing, I made it more difficult to trust God to be who he is, the bearer and boundless receptacle of all good things, who gives willingly in his perfect and ordained time.

So while I still believe that I am no better than anyone, I certainly more clearly understand that I am no less than anyone else either.  And as long as I am no less than than anyone else, that means that I am JUST as worthy as anyone else and afforded the same possibility (and probability) of seeing miracles happen in my life, getting free Starbucks on any given day, or being discovered by Shonda Rhimes as anyone else. 

Hello, it’s me! (#100)

 

 

HELLO!

I’ve been trying to figure out if writing, as a craft, is more like riding a bike, having sex (sorry Mom), or cooking pasta.  Maybe it’s a little bit like all three, maybe it’s like none of the above.  Or maybe, just maybe, writing is really like riding a bike a night, with zombies chasing you…with prosciutto meatballs tied around your neck.

For the first nine months of 2015, I wrote consistently: late in the evenings, in the mornings, while my kids were begging for cookies and chocolate milk, even during drives to family barbecues.  Adamant to not allow another year pass without having a finished book, my computer stayed planted in my lap — warranting secret fears that I was going to get leg cancer (if there is such a thing) and that my children were somewhere eating detergent or putting knives in electrical sockets (which IS a “thing” in my house, unfortunately).  Then “Lotus” was released, and after two months I could finally believe that (other than the hate mail I received about the ending) that most people didn’t hate the book.  I could finally exhale, go back to remembering to feed my children dinner every evening.  After years of writing many, many pieces of disparate copy, I finally felt like a writer.  And since I was finally a real-live-breathing writer, I believed that I would be able to get back to writing whenever I so chose to do so.

 

nolanandroman
(Me, being a good mommy and a bad writer.)

 

But life has had different plans…

When working (or trying to create work) from home…while mothering…there is a tendency to mother first and be (insert whatever profession) second.  So most days, when I think of something REALLY- REALLY-REALLY excellent to write, I don’t get a chance to jot it down until after my kids are clean, dressed, fed, after wiping oatmeal off of the floor and walls, after sending BOY #1 to school, after going through BOY #2’s ABCs and sight word flash cards and colored truck exercises and number songs out of fear and guilt that BOY#2 will fall behind on his pre-pre-pre-pre school academics. After BOY #2 has gotten fed up with learning and has thrown his flashcards on the floor (and kicked them), after BOY #2’s tumbling and/or music class, after picking BOY #1 up from school and taking him to his music lesson, after coming home and cooking dinner, after feeding the kids again, and then after giving my husband a five second hug to show that I love him even though I don’t want one more person grabbing my boobs or squeezing my butt and thinking that it’s funny.

(As you can see, BOY #2 is VERY good at being two years old.)

nolan4 Nolan nolan3

And one more picture for effect:

nolan again

So days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months.  As much as I love my family, deep down, I didn’t want to allow myself to drown into the vortex of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Bumble Bee Violin, Jacking Jacks Tumbling classes and Wednesday night pasta.

romanandnolan
But why?

            

Tapping into my inner Deepak Chopra, I wondered why it became SO hard to write.  The ideas struggled to come, the time to write seemed not to exist, BOY #2 would even shout “NO” and close my laptop whenever I would open it.  So for a while, I stopped resisting the natural flow of where my life was taking me.  I focused solely on my family, and while things grew easier, I could feel that the same spirit which keeps leading me to write was simply allowing me a moment to rest, while simultaneously assuring me that the moment wouldn’t last forever.

When the time came for me to start writing again, I could feel it like an alarm vibrating through my body every single day.  And with each day that passed that I didn’t write, the alarm within me, sounded more loud and urgent.  Feeling like a writing virgin, I spent a full day asking myself…

Do I still know how to write?

Can I still connect with my writing voice?

Should I just become a flight attendent and travel the world in search of the most perfect baklava and macaroons?

Will I ever fully get rid of this bra back fat?

I wasn’t sure how to answer any of these questions, but I decided it was time to get back to writing anyway.  Because the truth is that writing for me is no different than being a mother or trying to be a good wife:  You get naked and something just might pop out of you…it might be perfect or it might have flaws, but either way, you commit yourself to nurture it everyday.

 

 

 

(Blog Challenge, Day 24) The five favorite moments in Lotus.

  1. The first flashback of Lotus and Gabe in his college apartment.  I could envision it clearly. I felt her anxiety as if I was there, eavesdropping on his living room couch with a bowl of popcorn.  I loved every moment of it.
  2. The first conversation between Lotus, Lola and Dakota at Lola’s house.  Even if the conversation was fictional, I’ve had it 1,000 times before in real life.
  3. THE KISS.
  4. The argument between Nick and Lotus in the hospital lobby because the depth of their issues finally began to be revealed.  
  5. The entire Third Trimester.

 

Kay

 

Kay’s debut novel, Lotus, is now available on Amazon.com, iBooks, and BarnesandNoble.com.

 

FACEBOOK:  HTTPS://WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/KAYWSMITHAUTHOR

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Please excuse any grammatical or syntax errors in this post.  Take them as a sign that I consider you a friend.