Writing 50,000 words in less than thirty days is pure madness on a good month when life is going like you want. Ah, but how often does life go like you want it? So far my total for the first five days is 20,459 words.
This is totally amazing to me considering what has been taken place here on the home front. First, I have my granddaughter with me. So, I’m mom to a lively toddler again, and she has a cold. Second, I volunteer at the local school every week. I read for three hours. Talk about exhausting. But I so love reading to the kids. Third, I have accepted book review assignments for three new books not counting my reviewing I do for a New York Publisher. But these new reviews were offered to me by publishers where I reviewed before. In other words they requested me. It is hard to say no when the books are so important and come from smaller literary presses that are sending important writing voices into the world. Plus, I am exposed to some of the finest writing in the country. One being Mary Jo Bang’s new book of poetry. You talking about beautiful.
So, what have I learned from the madness this year? I think I’ve learned the same thing I learn each year but need a reminder. I can do whatever means most to me. Writing and reading goes hand in hand. I learn tons about my own voice from both.
The word count of 20,459 is nothing to sneeze at. I’m almost to the halfway point. I think this is my best year ever if I don’t lose footing along the way. It is my goal to get a rough, rough draft of the whole novel.
Well, I'm off to a decent start. I have written 12,306 words. Not to bad. I love allowing myself the time and space to write this many words. But as of now, I really don't have much more to say. ;) I'm saving it for tomorrow's word count.
In the space of five short minutes, one’s whole life can change. My friends, you think you this to your bone—I was sure I understood—but you don’t know. You can’t until you look the change in the eye.
On Wednesday August 26, 2009, around 5 pm, I opened my back door to make sure my daughter was playing next door. They small group played under the carport and I could hear my daughter laughing. All was well. I went to turn the TV channel, and then decided to put a DVD into he player. I chose the DVD and was placing it in the tray when I saw one of the little boys my daughter was playing with under the carport. He is four years old. I opened the door, not thinking too much about the visit.
“What do you need, Buddy?”
He smiled. “Ella is in trouble by the police.”
I laughed. Ella, a smart lively young girl, was not a child to be in trouble with anyone, especially the police. Becoming a police officer is on her long list of career possibilities.
“Tell her to come home.” I closed the door.
I went to the back door to make sure Ella was on her way. What I saw next is one of the two images that appear imprinted on my mind every time I close my eyes. A police officer was kneeling on one knee reaching to the ground. I knew. I knew. I knew. I screamed to my older daughter that I thought Ella had been hurt. I ran down the hill and realized I was screaming and sobbing. Then I saw the second image that floats into my mind just as I start to slip into a sleep. One of her sandals, with a strap broken, hanging to the side, torn, was turned on its side.
The police officer looked at me. “She came out of nowhere. I never saw her. I couldn't stop.”
From this point forward, I don’t have the courage, as of yet, to write about. I just can’t wrap my arms around the pictures that flicker in and out when I allow myself to be still. But in that moment that the police officer spoke to me, I became calm. I believe this calm came from God. I understood Ella had been hit by the police car. She was awake and not sure what had happen. I knelt beside the police officer and began to speak to my precious, panic-ridden child. I took her hand and began to speak in a calm voice. I talked through a throng of EMTs. I talked through an ambulance ride that seemed to last forever. I talked as needles were used. I talked as vital signs beeped and blinked on a screen. I talked through a battery of x-rays. I talked until the doctor came into the room with the best words I had ever heard. Only a mild concussion, badly bruised knee, and a deep cut under the eye. She could go home once the wound was closed.
I have been strangely silent, unable to speak of the personal hell I walked through. I couldn’t sleep and writing was a joke. I’ve always been able to write my way through problems.
My child was alive and healthy and I was overjoyed. Life was crystal clear. But at the same time I sunk head first in to the reality of the event. I have no control, none. This is a lesson I thought I had learned already.
Today I spoke to the investigating officer. I told him Ella was back to her normal fun-loving self. I ask him to tell the officer that struck Ella that we didn’t blame him and that we should all move forward and leave that day behind. But can I? At this point, I don’t think so. At this point, I think this experience has soaked into to who I am, transforming me once again.
When I hung up the phone, I was more at peace than I had been since this ordeal began. The images have not gone from my mind. Last night I began to cry to think I had to let go and send Ella back to school Monday. But all of this does not have the power that it held two days ago. Will it disappear? No. A close family member, who went through something similar, says the emotions can come back years later, but still we go on. We celebrate life and live it to its fullest.
And as you can see, I’ve been able to compose sentences again. God is good. Count your blessings today. In this way you honor our wonderful, dynamic little girl we call a miracle.
You know summer is almost over when you take your child for sneak a peek at school. This is where everyone is prepared for school on the first day. Mom and dad meet new teacher, see the room, and get their list of supplies. Well when I went to school--I know my kids are rolling their eyes right now--I walked to school on the first day and everyday, rain, sleet, and snow, by myself, armed with a class schedule that was surely wrong. My mother never--and I mean never--set foot into the school unless I was in deep trouble. I liked it that way.
I lived a quarter of a mile from the school. No big deal to walk, unless the walk was along the main bus route to school. Yes every bus delivering to my Jr. High came down this road to drop of their kids.
I started my walk by praying that I could make it to school without one bus passing me. Fat chance. When a bus passed, it was a blessing only to have a knock on the window or the flattened face of some stupid boy against the glass. The dreaded response was a friend opening a window and yelling.
"Hey, Ann, walk a little faster!"
At those times, I hated my mother for moving so close to the school. When I brought the problem up to her, she only looked at me and frowned.
"Most kids would be thankful they didn't have to ride those horrible buses."
In what universe?
Not one of my four girls wanted to ride the bus. They thought it was the worst curse put upon them.
I always said, "If you had to walk, you'd hate it. Believe me. I know. Most kids would love to ride the school bus."
They only rolled their eyes and wondered in what universe?
What in the world did we do before all the safety rules came along? I thinking of one in particular.
Don't eat raw cake batter!
Understand I can see all the reasons for this warning, and as a mother, I enforce it with no exceptions. But as my granny used to say: What you don't know most of the time won't hurt you. It is the word 'most' we stress about now. Once of my best memories from childhood is mixing cake batter in my granny's small kitchen with my younger brother. Granny gave us all the ingredients--no box mixes for us--and stood back.
"Whoever runs the mixer gets to lick the beaters." I called out first, grabbing the mixer.
"I get the bowl," yelled my brother. Of course everyone knows that the bowl has more left over batter, but there was something about running my tongue over the beater, savoring the buttery tasting concoction. My brother would have to use a civilized spoon and not drip it on anything. Me, I would stand over the big kitchen sink licking my fingers along with the batter.
In all my years of cake batter licking, I never became sick, neither did my brother. And to be honest, in all my years of licking, I never knew anyone who became sick from cake batter. Why is that? Were we just lucky or was it a different time when our food was handled more carefully? Nowadays it breaks my heart to tell my nine year old daughter she can't lick. I'm a good mom.
But hey, when she leaves the kitchen, I have been known to hold a beater to my mouth and lick until my heart's content.
Are you a cake batter licker? Isn't it funny where our joy springs?