Monthly Archives: February 2014

Franklin Bear

Everett Bear

I have a long list in my head of things that I want to blog about, but when I think about those topics (fostering, having and then living with the fact that I had cancer, the experience of having Everett and our struggles with infertility, becoming disabled through social security, etc.) my head wants to explode. Mostly, everything that I want to share right now is just too emotionally draining. In order to write effectively about it, I would have to delve back into that brain space because that’s just how I write. I haven’t been sleeping lately, so those topics are just going to have to wait, lest I start to weep openly in Starbucks. Instead, I think I’m going to share a story about something that happened the other night.

We have a bedtime routine for Everett. I insist we follow it, even when we are tired and don’t feel like it. Everett sleeps better and then we do too. Ben was running his bath and I was holding him in the bathroom waiting for his little tub to fill with warm water and bubbles. Recently, he has begun to notice the artwork on the walls. He’s amazed by the little red elephant tile I have hung in our master bathroom.  And he smiles and laughs at the pop-art painting of a schnauzer wearing sunglasses and a scarf my parents brought back from a trip they took down south.

Not long before we found out I was pregnant, my Great Uncle Frank passed away. We were very close to him and his passing was a great loss to me and the rest of the family. Uncle Frank was well loved by his community of antique dealers and artist friends. His closest surviving friend, Ceil, has become like another member of our family. She never had children (although my understanding is that they tried for many years). Her husband has passed away as well, leaving her alone in their little rancher. She is in her nineties and is about as spunky as they come. I think because of her own fertility struggles, she has developed an extra affinity for me, and was beyond excited to hear our good news.

Uncle Frank was a great many things, but he had an artist’s sensibilities. He painted mostly still-life in oil. But as a present for Ceil one year, he painted one of her favorite teddy bears in watercolor. When Ceil found out that I was pregnant, she made the painting a gift to me and Everett. It is framed in gold molding and has a lot of yellow hues. Because we chose to do the baby’s bathroom in yellow, I hung it next to the mirror.

So the other night I was holding Everett and we were waiting on the bath. Instead of playing peek-a-boo with himself in the mirror, he was staring intently and smiling at the painting. I told him that that was Franklin Bear and that Franklin was part of his name too. “You are Everett Franklin after the man who painted that bear,” I said. He gave the biggest smile, reached out his whole arm, and opened and closed his hand in perfect replication of how I’ve been teaching him to say hello and goodbye. He did this several times. He has never done this before, no matter how much I prompt. I asked him, “Are you saying hello to Franklin Bear?” He smiled at me, gave a little laugh, and did it again.

I don’t know why I found this so touching; perhaps because I don’t believe in an afterlife. I think there doesn’t need to be some other place where souls go. Uncle Frank is in Everett, he’s in that painting, and he’s in our hearts. And isn’t that enough? I think it is. I think there is something beautiful about Everett smiling and saying his first hello to Franklin Bear. Uncle Frank may never know my son, but my son will know him through his art, his generosity, and the imprint he has had on our lives. Who could ask for a better legacy than that? In the end we are only the love that we shared with others.

Ok, so much for not weeping openly in Starbucks. Until next time, have a beautiful week and take time to appreciate and love the ones around you.

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Book Challenge 2013 (My Crazy Life)

I am writing this through a haze of pain and medication. Perhaps when I open this document to edit it tomorrow I will discover that all that is here is gibberish and an atrocity of grammatical errors and misspellings. Tuesday is my writing day. And by “writing day,” I mean – my mother-in-law graciously has agreed to babysit for me and somewhere in between the scrubbing of bathrooms, the laundry, the dishes, the banking, the grocery shopping, the doctors and vet appointments, and all the other things that must get done, I try to get to Starbucks for an hour to shove a salad down my gullet and write something of interest.

 

That didn’t happen this Tuesday. As usual, there were other demands. We had a wedding to go to (which was lovely), but Tuesday is my day. All the other days and hours belong to everyone else. But I just want one hour on a Tuesday to do something for myself that is not health related. That didn’t happen though.

 

So now I’m writing this blog at 10:00 pm on a Thursday. I’ve cleaned, and organized, banked, and scheduled appointments. The baby’s been fed and bathed and Ben is reading to him in the other room. My body aches after my nightly medical “routine.”  I’m in bed reading all the posts on Facebook, and all I can think about is how much I want, no need, to write. What I write is not important. It’s not important if anyone reads it, although that would be nice. What’s important to me is the act. I feel stagnant, physically drained, emotional without an outlet. There are times when I feel like I don’t have creative energy, but this is not one of those times. Right now I feel like I have too much creative energy, and no actual physical energy to meet the creativity’s demands. I feel like all that creativity is just sitting and it’s making me agitated and fidgety.

 

This is not the point of this blog, however. All of that is just a tangent. What I really want to write about is the reading, or lack of reading, that I did last year.

 

Usually, I try to shoot for fifty books a year. That is about my max capability. I am not a fast reader, but I read frequently. I always carry a book in my purse. Because I am often in doctor’s offices, and I get 10 – 20 minutes before appointments of uninterrupted reading done. I had also gotten into the habit of reading a chapter or three before bed. I read in checkout lines at the store or while waiting for Ben in the car. I also would read at Starbucks almost every day before I became pregnant.

 

When I got pregnant, all of that changed. The nausea was so intense; I couldn’t focus enough to make the words make sense in my head. I started listening to audio books and podcasts while playing Mindcraft. This worked great until Mindcraft refused to update on my computer for some reason. I watched a lot of television: The Wire, Sports Night, Homeland, Justified, Deadwood, Firefly, House of Cards, House of Lies, and Dexter. During this time, the final Wheel of Time book came out. I just couldn’t read it. This is coming from a girl who wept more when she heard about Robert Jordan’s death then she did when she was first told she had colon cancer. That’s how bad my pregnancy nausea was.

 

After Everett was born, I foolishly assumed the nausea would go away and I would have time before bed to read again. Ha! I knew the baby was going to be a lot of work and certainly I had heard about sleep deprivation and how intense those first few months are, but I really was not prepared for what was to follow. Everett was colicky and cried all the time. We had latch issues so I had to pump every three to four hours for three months straight. I struggled (and continue to struggle) with post-partum depression. I’m exhausted all the time, but I can’t sleep. These things do not lead to productive reading. Still, I did manage to get a few books in and I’m grateful for the time I did have. A year with no books would be too sad to bear.

 

So what did I read? Here’s my list according to Goodreads (which I update pretty religiously):

 

1. Narcissus In Chains, Laurell K Hamilton

2. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, Jenny Lawson

3. Cerulean Sins, Laurell K Hamilton

4. Killbox, Ann Aguirre

5. Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris

6. Kushiel’s Scion, Jacqueline Carey

7. Kushiel’s Justice, Jacqueline Carey

8. Kushiel’s Mercy, Jacqueline Carey

9. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R King

 

*Spoilers*

 

Anita Blake:

The two Hamilton books were filled with sexy scenes and seriously struggled when it came to plot. I’m not even really sure what happened in Cerulean Sins except a lot of sex. And the worst part is that the main character wasn’t even really an active, willing participant in the sex. She was basically hexed with it. And although she enjoyed it while it was happening, she really had issues with it after the fact. I don’t know if I particularly like what these books have to say about women and sex. Anita is capable and badass in the first few books, but what she has become is bizarre to me. It’s like the author is trying to show that Anita has the power to do whatever she wants and it’s ok to be sexual, but the way she gets Anita to that space is to basically strip away her free will. Yeah! Sex is awesome! But you wouldn’t be learning this very important lesson unless the “monsters” made you… what?!

 

Sookie Stackhouse:

Dead Ever After was a disappointment. Not because I needed Sookie to end up with Eric, but because a lot of it felt phoned in. It was like Charlaine Harris was tired of these characters, but needed to write one more book to be done with them. Her writing didn’t feel like an act of love, it felt like a boring chore. And I’m sorry, but if the world was falling down around you and you had important information to give another person – a person whose life could be in jeopardy if you failed to give her the information – you would not wait until after dinner, rest, or whatever the hell other plot contrivance Harris could think up. That was possibly the most annoying thing of all. That and the fact that when Sookie does finally have sex with Sam, it’s like dropped in from out of nowhere. There’s no build, no lead up, just wham, bam, thank you mam. She just waltzes over to his trailer and they do it. After all the times they have been in situations where it would have felt totally natural for it to happen, it’s a total let down that that is how it happens.

 

The Bloggess:

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, however, was delightful. It’s one I had been eyeing for quite some time, but just couldn’t justify the expense of a hardback. I was super happy to find it under the Christmas tree last year. It was both hilarious and made me a little teary when she talked about her struggles with getting and staying pregnant and the love she has for her daughter. Mostly though, the book is hilarious and I feel as though I am a kindred spirit with Jenny. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you do. Also, you should check out her blog at http://thebloggess.com/

 

Jacqueline Carey:

This was the second trilogy in the Kushiel series. I adore these books. The way that you can tell is that they are about 1,000 pages each and I still found time this year to read all three. These follow the character of Imriel, who was introduced in the third book of the first trilogy. I wish Carey had handled Imriel overcoming his abuse a little differently, but overall I think it’s a beautiful love story, if not exactly what I expected.

 

Sirantha Jax:

I love this series and have two more to read. I may write an entire blog once I finish.

 

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice:

This was a perfect book to read after watching the BBC’s modernization of Sherlock Holmes. If you are a Sherlock purist, this might not be the book (or series) for you. I’ve also read a lot of reviewers who complain that Mary Russell is a total Mary Sue. I have definitely read worse Mary Sues. To keep up with Homes and not just be a female version of Watson, she would have to be pretty spectacular. I mean Sherlock has his faults, but he’s amazing. It would then follow that Marry Russell, as his apprentice, would have to be amazing too. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense for Sherlock to bother with her. I know later in the series they become lovers. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m not generally one to have a problem with age differences, but the fact that he is first her mentor and plays a rather fatherly role – I do worry that the romance is going to feel a little bit icky. Just some thoughts…

 

So that was my year in reading. I also started, but did not finish several audiobooks, which hopefully I will find the time to complete in the near future. Audiobooks have taken a backseat to my podcasts. And podcasts have taken a backseat to the baby. I use to have time to listen to these while I drove, did chores, and worked on my art and crafts. Now I have the baby and all multitasking has to do with him and the other thing I am trying to accomplish. Plus, I don’t know if Sex Nerd Sandra is particularly appropriate listening for a 9 month old. I mean, I want him to be comfortable with himself, but I’m pretty sure learning about dominant / submissive sexual styles is not really appropriate or necessary.

 

So on that note, I will leave you until next Tuesday. Here’s to hoping I find that hour at Starbucks and that my mocha is tasty and full of caffeine.     

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