Twas the night before publication…

Twas the night before publication, and all through the house not a creature was stirring except me because gosh darn it, holy moly, gee whiz my first short story is getting published tomorrow!  Monday, June 3rd is publication day.  After a rough few years of submitting and being rejected, then completely quitting for a bit, I’ve had a run of acceptances.  (Is two a run?  I feel like it is.)  My first creative essay was published online April 20th and now my first fiction story will come out tomorrow.  Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow….

Grork Dentist will be published by Luna Station Quarterly, a magazine in their tenth year of publication.  I’ve loved Luna Station Quarterly since I first came across Holly Lyn Walrath’s story The Joy of Baking.  It’s a magazine with a cool mission: publishing speculative fiction by women-identified writers.  I love that they do a print and online publication (I’ve got four print copies arriving Tuesday from Amazon, thank you very much.)  It’s easy to share online publications with friends and family, but likewise really special to have a print copy of your very own story to hold, and smell, and sleep with, and carry in your purse everywhere, and give to your mom, and accidentally leave at your dentist office and… and…. I might need to order more copies.

The other cool thing?  I got to write my very own real live author bio.  I mean, does it get any more official than that?  My full bio is online and a shortened version will appear with my story.  Nothing makes you feel more like a real honest to goodness writer than a bio.  That is, not until tomorrow when I see my story.  I bet that will feel even better.

It’s funny, because I spend a lot of time with the Twitter writing community.  (Too much time, but hey, it got me my first publication.)  I’ve read how getting your story published doesn’t change anything.  My expectations will just get adjusted and I’ll want bigger and better things.  I must disagree.  For me, getting my first story published means the world.  As great as this story’s rejections were from high quality magazines — “We loved this story’s delightfully ridiculous concept” and “there’s some good writing here” — nothing equaled the joy of “We would like to publish your story, “Grork Dentist”, in the next issue of Luna Station Quarterly. Thank you for submitting!”  Getting a story you are proud of accepted into a journal you love is a very special feeling.  I’m now no longer afraid of calling myself a writer, and the publication has made me believe that my stories are worth writing and worth being read.  That feeds my writing soul.

Tomorrow I’m going to be refreshing my browser like an idiot waiting for the cover image to change and my story to show up.  Until then, I’ll be like a kid waiting for Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny to all show up overnight and bring me the best present imaginable.  Happy publication eve to all, and to all a good night.

Polymath Puberty Ponder

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There are times when all my roles in life — mother, graduate student, writer, and professional — threaten to draw and quarter me.  I’m pulled in different directions and the pain of not doing my best at anything rips me apart.  Then there are other times that epiphanies happen, and could only happen, because I see the world from so many angles.

It started with the note home from school.  The anticipated but dreaded permission form for my daughter’s puberty class.  The coming-of-age embarrassment of all children when they start to stink, have to think about a bra, or experience “nocturnal emissions”.  Nocturnal emissions?  When did wet dreams get such a fancy name?  I reread the note to make sure it meant a boy waking up in sticky sheets.  Yep.  The note clearly said “nocturnal emissions.”  Apparently it’s not just new math these kids are learning, but new puberty too.

That same week, I had to submit my graduate school capstone project proposal.  I’m leveraging a work project on alternative fuel corridors to examine how the climate impacts of the World Cup and Olympics could be mitigated by utilizing alternative fuel.  It’s a great proposal that hits the sweet spot of a school project for me: something that extends a work project and gets me credit from both school and clients.  As I was researching my proposal I found some fascinating journal articles that discussed the importance of delivery timing during mega-events.  The goal is to ensure that souvenir and food deliveries don’t impact spectators getting to events, and one of the strategies is to make deliveries at night.

Without warning, my writer brain engaged.  I had the perfect proposal topic.  If I shifted my focus to the Women’s World Cup happening in France this summer and refocused on the temporal aspects of the study I could title my capstone: Calculating Nocturnal Emissions resulting from the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Now who wouldn’t want to read that?


Photo by Seb Creativo on Unsplash

Acceptance

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I’ve been sending little stories of mine off to journals to be read, judged, and rejected.  From 2015 to 2017 I had one story rejected four times.  Then last year I got brave.  I threw three stories to the winds and let the rejections flow: ten of them.  I worked hard to perfect those little tales.  My writing group read them and gave feedback.  My mom read them and gave feedback.  My husband read them, corrected my grammar, and disliked them.  I even donated enough money to a new journal so a real live editor could critique my story.  I worked and tweaked, and while the rejections kept coming they started to give me hope.

My favorite rejection?  One that ended, “We loved this story’s delightfully ridiculous concept, but we felt the story didn’t have enough conflict to support it through the middle and ending.”  Um, the words love and this story appear together in this delightful rejection.  It almost feels like an acceptance….almost.  Another was rejected the day before they sent out the list of anthology finalists.  They said, “…there’s some nice writing in the story, but unfortunately we felt it just wasn’t quite right for the collection.”  Nice writing?  That’s enough to make me brave enough to submit somewhere else, and to watch this journal’s calendar carefully so I can submit to them again.

I know that ten rejections in a year is nothing.  One of my favorite blogs, Rejectomancy,  has a whole formula for calculating your power as a rejectomancer.  Aeryn, the blog’s author, revels in his rejections, having just tallied his 300th rejection.  Three hundred.  I love Aeryn’s blog because it’s really hard for me to get all freaked out about 10 rejections when he’s statistically analyzing three hundred.  Also, I’m not just a writer but also a geeky spreadsheet loving engineer, so recording and analyzing rejections is a form of comfort for me.  Another comfort?  Watching your Rejectomancy score increase as you get different types of rejections.  By the end of 2018 I was at 20 points: a glass level rejectomancer aiming for ceramic.  (Really, this system is so amazingly nerdy!)

2019 hit and I was ready to submit like mad.  Armed with my positive feedback and desire to rise through the Rejectomancy ranks, on a whim, I submit to a journal I had not researched that promised personalized feedback.  The story I sent had already received one lovely personalized rejection – the nice writing one – and one form rejection.  It was a piece I loved and felt confident about.  The day after submission I was rejected with a full page of detailed information about how horrible my story was, what a terrible writer I am, how the concept was interesting but horribly executed, and the ending sucked.  It would have been kinder and more succinct to reply, “You are a terrible writer with no concept of story.  Your words caused my eyes to bleed.  Cut your hands off so your tales never torture again.”

So I quit writing.  I quit submitting.  I quit my writers group.  I quit.  The end.  Eleven rejections was all I’d ever see.  It was one thing to get rejected with kind words and another to have strangers rip me to shreds.  Writing wasn’t worth it.

Except, I didn’t really.  In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamont talks about writing presents, “Twice now I have written books that began as presents to people I loved who were going to die.”  The concept of writing presents speaks to me, drives my desire to finish my novels, and made me write a love letter to myself.  I wasn’t dying, but my hope and dreams of being published were dying, so when I saw a tweet for the 1000 Love, You Letter’s project I started to write.

The concept is not really me.  I am not a self-love essay writing kind of gal.  I’m an alien dentist, fisherman of children’s souls, bumblecat type of writer.  I’ve got stories about convicts puking, the end of the world, and heaven being destroyed by bureaucracy, but my dying craft cried for a story, a goodbye, a last hurrah, so I wrote myself a love letter.  No one read it but me.  No one edited it.  No one even knew it existed.  I wasn’t going to send it, but my tribute required a submission, so I sent off my letter.

The submission’s initial response is what you would expect from a project collecting letters from women writing love letters to themselves.  “This is a beautiful letter and we’re thankful for you trusting us to share it with the world.”  Sweet, and what you’d want every vulnerable woman essayist to hear.  Writing a love letter to yourself is an embarrassing emotional effort, and even more embarrassing knowing that others are going to read what you wrote.  Urban Ivy, the publisher, does a wonderful job of making the brave women who submit to them feel valued and that kindness was a salve to my broken writer’s heart.

Before I quit writing, I dreamed of seeing my story in print on a piece of paper.  Not on a website, but on a tangible page where I could run my finger over the text.  Something that I could put on a bookshelf and read until it was tattered.  Something that, when I was old, would smell like old paper and ink.  My submissions were brave and bold, targeting the journals that still print and accept less than 0.5% of the stories they receive.  I had a plan to move onto online journals once I’d exhausted the list of print publications.

The submission response from the 1,000 Love, You Letter project also said, “We will be in touch by March 15 to share which letters will be published in the Love, You book and on our social media!”  Even though I had quit writing, this little glow of hope that I find hard to extinguish grew as I watched the social media announcements about the project.

On International Woman’s Day, Friday March 8th, a message in my inbox was titled, “Your Love, You letter has been selected!”  I was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway so checked my email. (Totally unsafe. Never do this.)  I didn’t want to read the email on the road, but my glow of hope spread during the 20 minutes it took me to get to work.  My dream of publication might be coming true.  I wondered if there was going to be a request to send my bank account information to a prince in Nigeria before they published.   Then I yelled at myself to just be happy for once and not think how this could go wrong.  I thought about who I wanted to tell and how.  Once I parked, I reopened my email and read, “We’re excited to share that your letter has been selected to be featured in the Love You Book which is set to publish this Fall and will also appear on the 1000 Love You Letter website within the next few weeks.”

I burst into tears.  Happy tears.  Accomplishment tears.  Dream tears.  Tears I never thought I’d be able to shed but always wanted to shed.  My present to myself was going to be published, and not just published, but published in a book.  I unquit writing right there and then.

A week later I’m stalking the publisher, Urban Ivy, the letters that are already being published online, and the Instagram and Twitter feeds about the project.  I’m liking and retweeting and anxiously awaiting the next steps.  10 points were added to my rejectomancer score jolting me right past the ceramic level and on my way to denim.  My confidence restored, I resubmit my one-day-rejection story to a journal I love in hopes that it will find a home there, or at least some kind words.  I returned to my writing group, tail between my legs, and told them of my acceptance and thanked them for their kind words that I had ignored while I was feeling sorry for myself.  Because they are awesome people, and writers too, they welcomed me back.  Slowly I’ve been telling family and friends, while savoring my happiness.

I wish this fairy tale ending on everyone.  I hope that every low point is offset with a high, but I know that this is a wonderful, beautiful anomaly.  Unquit writer me is going to  continue to have mean things said about her writing.  If I’m really successful, people will rant about me the way I rant about Neal Stephenson and Paolo Bacigalupi; I cannot stand the famous, successful, prizewinning works they produce.  I have to get thicker skin and grow from these experiences: both the bad one and the good one.

The primary wisdom I gained from this came from my good friend Lew Gibb, part of my amazing writing group, who said about my mean rejection, “My wife and I have a great saying that works in these types of situations: ‘If someone honks at you for more than a second, it’s not about you.’ Everyone’s dealing with their own shit. It’s obvious, since they did the literary equivalent of a three second honk, that your reviewer allowed their shit to overflow into your story.”  He’s right.  I need to be strong enough to tune out the long honks.  I need to value the cheers of myself and my friends more than nasty words generated in a single thoughtless day.  I can’t just write love letters when I’m down.  I want to remember that everything I write a present, even knowing that there will always be critics who despise my gift.

But guess what?  I’m going to be published!  Acceptance at last!  I cannot wait to hold this book.  I’ll need at least two copies: one to cherish and one to get spotty with I’m-holding-my-story tears.

Jobs I Do Not Want

Last night, I was lucky enough to sit directly behind the bench at a collegiate hockey game.  There I witnessed a job that I do not want: a hockey skate maintainer.  Hockey equipment manager?  Whatever this guy is doing, I don’t want to do it.  One of my phobias is slicing.  I hate movies that feature knives or swords.  Every hockey game I anticipate the moment when a player’s Achilles, leg, or face will be sliced open by an errant skate.  This guy has to pry blades out with a wimpy plastic tool, sharpen them, and then use his bare hand to press them back in wall while pucks and sticks and players fly about.  I couldn’t stop watching him, anticipating his hand being cut in two.   Gak.

My list of jobs I don’t want now includes:

  • Hockey skate maintainer
  • Glass sharpener
  • Spider wrangler

Please don’t recommend me for any of the above opportunities.  Thank you.

Work is Raunchier than Fiction

Note: Image above used in a real webinar.  Transcript below has been adjusted to better align with the image’s message. 

Ally:  Okay, so there was a question about the potential fueling options in the New York Metro area.  Johanna can you do a quick on-the-fly evaluation?

Johanna:  Sure!  Let me zoom into the region.  Remember earlier we showed an analysis indicating that natural gas has some penetration in this area, so I’ll turn on the natural gas layers.  As you can see, there are three distinct strategic thrust areas:  the areas outlined in blue.  Those shafts indicate where we have a deep penetration of natural gas stations — indicated by the blue dots — along an interstate.

Johanna:  First consider the shaft from Scranton heading east.  There we have an exciting opportunity for double penetration into both New York and New Jersey.  Next while there is only a single station in White Plains, with some attention, that shaft could rise and stimulate the upstate New York market.  Finally the shaft along the Long Island Expressway has so many stations it almost seems to be ready to explode with potential.

Johanna:  This map makes me so excited about the growing opportunities in the New York region.  Transforming these shafts into natural gas corridors isn’t going to be easy — in fact it’s going to be hard, very hard.  In the end, with a little political and technical stroking, I know our strategic thrusts will climax into a robust natural gas fueling infrastructure in this region.

Ally:  Gosh, you’ve got me worked up!  I can’t believe how huge this opportunity is.  That was a stimulating question and a really deep analysis by Johanna.  Thanks!  Are there any other regions folks would like to explore?

Parental Elastic

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Fifth grade.  It’s impossible to watch my daughter grow and not remember myself at her age.  Fifth grade was a turning point.  Fourth grade was rotten.  Third grade was unremarkable.  Second grade was amazing, but little kid amazing.  I remember finally feeling like I was growing into myself in fifth grade.  Watching my daughter start to navigate this school year I am struck that there is something more than a new year and a new teacher going on.  For the first time, I can really see her starting to become the adult she will be someday – not in flashes, but in persistent displays of adult. Grown up.  Not little kid.

The first day of fifth grade, my husband and I walked her up to school, like we had every single day of daycare, preschool, and elementary school.  Then the ultimatum: we could walk her to the gate, but no farther.  Most of the other kids’ parents didn’t drop them off at school, even in third or fourth grade, she explained, so it was time for us to stop too.

Last year this announcement might have stung.  Two years ago, my feelings would have been hurt.  Three years ago, I would have talked her out of her decision.  Now?  It was okay.  I had been feeling the awkwardness myself.  Watched the dwindling parents. Noticed the kids didn’t come and say “Hi Coach Johanna” anymore.  Heck, I wasn’t even sure they remembered I was their second-grade soccer coach.  In some ways it was a relief.  Dropping her off a block from school gave me a chance to get to work on time and avoid the yoga-mom chit-chat after the bell rang.

Two weeks in, a new development.  Her friend approached her about biking to school together.  So, our routine shifted.  My husband or I ride her to her friend’s house, then ride home while Afthead Junior and her buddy head to school.  Now I’m out the door to work before school even starts, with a little bit of exercise under my belt, and the girls ride their bikes home alone every day.

I remember the freedom of walking home from school.  I remember the fear when a new route creeped me out for some reason, and the joy of taking my time during a nice day or when there was a friend to walk with.  I remember watching for mean dogs, like the one in the Ramona Quimby book.  When my daughter comes home five minutes later than normal with a big grin on her face I’m happy for her freedom, for her exploration, for her independence.  Sometimes she tells me why she’s late, and sometimes she doesn’t.  It’s a step toward a more grown up relationship where she shares what she wants, not just because I’m her mom and she’s supposed to.

Heading out for our annual Labor Day camping trip I grabbed my favorite “won’t wash my hair for three days” headband.  I pulled it on and heard the little elastic strings woven into the headband fabric snap.  The band fell down.  In the past year, while I wasn’t paying attention, the elastic had passed on into the land of non-stretchiness.

With my hair askew and my useless headband around my neck it hit me.  There are no apron strings between parent and child.  At least not in my situation.  There is an elastic band holding us together.  In the beginning it was tight tight tight.  It held her inside me as she grew into a baby.  It held her to me when she was an infant and couldn’t walk.  The first snappings happened as she toddled away screaming “I can do it.”  She needed more space.  The band got less and less restrictive as she went off to preschool, kindergarten, elementary school.  It was strong enough so that when her friends were mean, her coach yelled, or she failed at school the energy in the elastic always pulled her to me: back to safety and momma.

But now I can feel the elastic slipping.  There are less stretchy bits left than non-stretchy bits.  What will happen when all the elastic is gone?  Will we toss it like a cheap pair of underwear?  Like a swimsuit gone see-through and obscene?  Will I store it away in some box where it will sit next to baby teeth going to dust, pulling it out occasionally to caress the rotting fabric and reminisce of days when our relationship was simultaneously simpler and more complicated.  When I always stood between her and the dangers of the world.  Will I brandish it at her when she doesn’t call or doesn’t come home for the holidays demanding she remember what I did for her?  Or, will we keep it and use it when we need it?  When her boyfriend (or girlfriend) dumps her, will she pull it out and wrap it around us?  When her own baby is born will she stretch it around me and her own new elastic band providing an extra layer of support to a new precious life?  When I’m infirm and heading to the rat-infested nursing home will she give it to me, so I can clutch desperately to the fragile ties between us?  Whatever happens, these long-term connections are a choice, not a given as they were when she was tiny and wee.

Apron strings can be knotted, ripped open, re-typed, or left dangling at will.  Our bond has more of an air of inevitability about it.  Someday it will not be needed, but I hope it will be wanted.  I hope there will always be days when she chooses to ask my advice, spend time with me, or just snuggle up next to me because she finds me a comfort.  And I hope I’m brave enough and wise enough to give her the space she needs, letting the elastic continue to stretch to fit our ever-changing relationship.

Last week an early morning rush to band left her frazzled.  The week of soccer, running, homework, early mornings, and late nights caught up with her.  We’d barely seen each other between our non-coincident commitments.  She gathered her trumpet and her backpack and then asked, just outside of school in view of any other early arrival, “Mom, can I have a hug?”  I got out and held her while she cried.  Then I opened the car door and told her, “Get in.  You can practice trumpet at home.”  We sat together in the basement, annoying her sleeping dad, while she played for me and pretended to be her band teacher: giving herself corrections and praise.  An hour later I dropped her off at school and she ran in with her normal quick hug and “Love you mom.”  I watched her turn the corner then drove off to start my own day.

Aspirations

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Photo by Pete Johnson on Pexels.com

Someday….

Someday I will be a morning person.  I will jump out of bed before the sun even rises, lace up my running shoes, greet the day with the chirpy birds, and let the pink glow of the sun warm my soul as it lights the sky.  Upon arriving home, I will feed the chickens and barn cat — respectively thanking them for my eggs and for killing the rats.  Then I will feed the house cats and take a moment to appreciate the happiness they bring to my life.  Exercise, gratitude, and chores complete, I will shower, shave, and be ready to greet my waking family with well-groomed joy knowing my day has begun with no sleeping-in or running-late guilt.

Someday my body will be a temple.  I will feed it nothing but wholesome food.  All the fruits and veggies it can take.  Eggs from my beloved chickens.  Cheese from cows lovingly hand milked in pastures where they eat nothing but all organic free range vegetation.  I will cook my own meals, and when I can’t, I will only eat at restaurants that also consider my body a temple worthy of local low-carbon-emission produce.  Occasionally I will allow myself a treat of a single square of bitter dark chocolate, so I can savor both the sweet of the dessert and the bitterness off mistreating my temple.  The only beverage I will ever drink is pure clean water from glass containers.  I will exercise everyday, but vary my routine from running to yoga to Pilates to ensure my cardiovascular health, flexibility, and strength.

Someday I will be on time to everything.  After my blissful morning and my temple-worthy breakfast I will drop my child off at school exactly seven minutes early.  Time for her to play a bit, and visit with her friends.  Then when the bell rings I will walk my perfectly dressed self — in a size six, a slim nonjudgmental size — to my car and drive to work, arriving exactly at 8:30.  People will depend on me, knowing if they schedule an 8:30 meeting I will be there nonplussed and ready to face whatever challenge they need faced.  After working an 8 hour day — not including the 0.5 hours spent enjoying the wholesome lunch I packed, then walking around the park to clear my mind — I will be waiting for my daughter at 3:00, just as the bell rings, to walk her home from school.  Hand in hand, we’ll talk about her day and my day as we much on fresh vegetables from our garden.  She will have friends, I will be successful at work, she will be successful at school, and we will be so proud of each other.  Then I’ll drive her, and all her friends, in my electric vehicle — powered by solar panels installed on our home’s roof — to whatever practice she has that day:  carpooling to ensure our position in the social hierarchy while minimizing our carbon footprint.

Someday I will make good use of all the time available to me.  While my daughter practices I’ll be using that time to write my novel, do grad school homework, catch up with beloved friends and family, or knit scarves for the poor.  However, I will willingly pause to talk with other sports parents where I will be modest about my child and supportive of their children and their worries about traffic.  I won’t squander time dinking on my phone, talking to parents who make me want to stab my eyes out, or half-listen to eye-stabby parents while dinking on my phone.  I will be present and understanding.

Someday my evenings will run like clockwork.  After practice, I’ll enjoy a wholesome meal with my family.  We will all eat exactly the same thing, correctly proportioned to our body mass index.  Dishes will be cleared, washed, and the kitchen will be cleaned in harmony, then everyone will sit down to homework.  (Well, everyone but my husband who will enjoy a well deserved hour of rest watching some sporting event, but he will not be too loud or too emotionally attached to the event.)  Homework done, my daughter will bathe, and I will read aloud to her for 20 minutes.  Then she will make her lunch, brush her teeth, brush her hair, put on pajamas, and deposit her dirty clothes into her hamper.  She will go to sleep by herself in her own room in her own bed after reading to herself for exactly 10 minutes.

Someday my late nights will be all my own time.  Having accomplished everything I needed to do while in the office, I will spend 45 minutes catching up with my husband.  2.5 times per week we will have age-appropriate sex.  Sated or not, I will then spend a few hours editing my novel, writing a blog post, or drafting a new short story.  Sometimes, I will work a bit on a knitted gift for a friend, or hand-write a few thank you notes.  Occasionally I will document my day’s accomplishments in a perfect Instagram shot or Tweet.  Before bed, I will do a quick clean up of the house – filling the dishwasher, folding laundry, picking up clutter, sweeping, and wiping down counters and other surfaces – before reading for 30 minutes and then drifting off for an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep.

Someday….

Banana Slug Factoids

The banana slug is an amazing creature found in northern California.

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Preferring damp areas with heavy vegetation, the banana slug can be found snacking on ferns, vines and other plants along the coast.

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The juvenile banana slug is a light greenish yellow, the adult a yellow with brown spots, and the elderly a hard to find dark brown.

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The slug does not just resemble it’s namesake fruit visually, but also has a pleasing fruity taste when licked, and a sweet odor. Historically, the slime was used by natives of this area as a topical analgesic due to it’s numbing qualities.   It is cool, damp, and slimy to the touch.

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Growing to over ten inches, the huge slugs are easy to spot once you identify their habitat and coloring.

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Using their gelatinous muscled bodies, banana slugs can almost defy gravity as they move from leaf to leaf.  Occasionally the laws of physics get the better of  them, and a distinctive plop and shriek can be heard when they fall off leaves onto a human head.

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Ah nature.  Glorious.  Unusual.  Slimy.  Thankfully travel allows me to experience such wonders, so different than the common brown slugs found in my garden at home.


Note:  no sources are provided for this article, because everything above is either hearsay or made up.   All picture credits my own and were taken at Patrick’s Point California State Park, just North of Eureka.    

My favorite flower

I’d like to introduce you to my favorite flower.  Don’t misunderstand.  Tulips are not my favorite type of flower: that’s an iris.  This specific tulip is my favorite flower.   My husband and I have owned our house for almost 18 years.  I believe this flower came with the house, or at least I don’t remember planting it, and I don’t remember a spring when it didn’t bloom.  It’s a big tulip, the flower probably four inches tall, and it can’t decide if it wants to be pink, orange, salmon or all of them at once.  In a garden filled with blossoms it commands attention.

The spring before my daughter was born I remember checking on my favorite flower each morning wondering if my baby or flower would arrive first.  The flower bloomed a month before my due date, and my visions of enjoying it’s beauty with my baby evaporated when it’s petals fell and I was still pregnant.  Seasons, flowers and babies have their own timelines.

Now every spring I remember the anticipation, anxiety, and excitement of those last weeks of pregnancy.  With my favorite flower’s arrival comes reflection on my decade of motherhood.  I tell the story of the flower to my daughter, and we remember our springs together.  My favorite flower makes me pause to remember and appreciate the wonder filled life I’ve been given.

Don’t stop by, anytime.

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My house on an average day. Playing with cats is more important than putting laundry away.

I hate unexpected visitors.  I don’t want you to stop by if you are in the neighborhood.  If you are going to be driving by, feel free to text or call to see if I’m available, but if I don’t respond just keep driving.  Sure it might be fine to stop, but it might not.  I’m too polite to tell you to “go away” at my door, but I will quietly seethe your entire visit if you aren’t welcome.

See, I might be naked, fighting with my husband, or naked fighting with my husband.  Those things don’t happen all the time, but they do happen.  I might be in my introverted shell and while you’ll think I’m lonely, I am not.  I enjoy being alone.  It’s an infrequent pleasure in my life.

If I’m in the front yard, feel free to wave or honk or slow down for a quick chat, but unless I invite you in, please stay in your car.

I realize this is weird. My extroverted best friends with people skills tell me, “I was in your neighborhood yesterday and I didn’t stop.”  I think I’m supposed to feel guilty, but instead I reply, “Thank you.”  I know they are trying to illuminate the fun times I am missing, but I am not missing anything.

My house will be a mess if you stop by.  I am not a housekeeper.  If I don’t know you are coming there will be shoes and backpacks tripping you just inside the front door.  The dishes from breakfast, lunch, and maybe dinner the night before will still be on the table – worst case – or in the sink – best case.  The cat-box will be dirty and the house may stink.  My slovenly ways mean you will judge me and find me wanting.  I’ll feel terrible and you’ll feel superior, but I’m sure you can find ways to feel good about yourself without me being involved.

Please, if you are invited, come on over.  It’s not that I hate people, or parties, or visitors.  But I am descended from, or reincarnated from, peoples who had barriers to keep away invading hordes.  The drawbridge must be lowered, the moat monster put away, and the dungeons cleared before honored guests arrive.  If guests are expected, I know I won’t need backpacks to alert me of intruders, convenient food left in case I must suddenly flee, or cat poop to fling at invaders from warring tribes.  Be confident that if I asked you to come, you are welcome.  My house will be clean, my clothes will be on, and the familial fighting will be negligible.

I beg you, don’t stop by.  Give me a call if you are in the neighborhood.  We’ll meet at the coffee shop.  I’d love to see you there.