Sunday, August 15, 2010

Family Life as Germ Warfare

I got strep.

This doesn't usually happen. Usually my children get sick, I nurse them, and then I get sick.

But this time, I started it. I picked it up randomly, at the grocery or the swimming pool or something. No one I know is sick, but I was the first to fall. Then, my older daughter got it. Now my husband has it. We're fighting to try and make sure the baby (age 3) doesn't get it.

I'd never realized before how germy family life is. Once I was recovered enough to think about it (which was right as my older daughter fell ill), I put on my combat gear and set to work.

I wiped every handle, knob, switch and button in the house with clorox wipes. Boy! There are a lot of those. I lysoled the couch. I washed all the bedding and towels on the sanitary cycle. I threw away anything in the fridge that had been eaten from (half finished chicken breast, leftover French fries, unfinished yogurt, etc.). I quarantined big sister in her bedroom, a floor away from the little one.

So, we've been trying to protect ourselves from each other. It's NUTS how many things that entails. We can't buy a smoothie and share it. We can't put the cucumbers in a communal bowl on the dinner table. We can't share a bowl of popcorn (hands in bowl, hands in mouth, hands in bowl, ewwww!) We can't kiss. A hundred times a day, someone starts to do something that would spread contagion and has to stop him or herself.

When we're all healthy, it's amazing what we all share unthinkingly. We all get loco-pops and Little Sister asks to taste mine. I let her. The girls take a bath together. They kiss Daddy in the same spot on his cheek. We pour Little Sister's unfinished stew back in the pot, which Mom and Dad eat as leftovers for lunch the next day. It's a little disgusting when I think about it too much. Maybe in this case, the unexamined life is better. Family life is gross. And that's not even bringing poop and snot into the discussion. EEEEWWWWW!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On Second Chances

When the universe is kind enough to grant you a second chance, you need to grasp it with both hands and squeeze. You need to appreciate it while it's there in front of you and never never never take it for granted.

This time of year, six years ago (amazing that it's already been that long), I thought my life had fallen apart. I was divorcing, moving, changing jobs, everything that comes with starting over. I was 32. Until about a month before this, I thought my long-suffering marriage was on an upswing. There was talk of a second child, a vacation, renovations to the house. But, in one clear moment of lucid honesty, it was over, as it should have been many times before.

For a few months, I lamented. Even at the time, I realized it wasn't the marriage I was grieving for. It was the other things I would be losing: a house I loved, a life in a wonderful small community, a job with great people, my opportunity for a second child, a VW Bug, my independence (temporarily), the ability to do anything at all without my oldest child in tow, my community theater group. There were a lot of things I loved about my life at that point, but none of them were my husband. Him, I really wasn't going to miss. About his absence, I felt relief.

So, since I don't do actual spring-cleaning, I'll do some soul spring-cleaning. I'll remind myself how very lucky I am, after hitting that bottom six years ago, to again have a home I love, in a lovely small town, a good job in a pleasant place with good colleagues, a second child, a sweet if kind of stupid dog, and the very best husband there is.

That last part, that's the balance. That's what I missing before. It's one of those things that, once you have, you can't understand how you lived without it so long. So, I'm keeping him, and encouraging him to keep me in return.

It's both wonderful and terrifying, having what you want. And I'm holding on tightly. And telling them all every day how lucky I feel to have them.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Point of View and Reading like a Writer

My writing group met this past Sunday. It's always so invigorating to go--to talk about wordsmithing with others struggling to make words do what they want, too.

This week, we got mired in Point of View. It turned out we have some pretty diverse opinions about what is and isn't "allowed" in point of view in a novel.

My novel, for example, is in multiple 3rd person point of view, changing which character we are close to chapter by chapter. However, in workshopping, I've found that there are times when I let that lapse and went into the wrong head during the wrong chapter. Some are okay with this; others are not.

Another writer in the group has a complete novel in first person. Another, in third person omniscient. Another is trying to alternate between first person and third person, wanting the best of both worlds.

As we discussed, we talked about examples and I realized that I don't read like a writer. When I read a novel I like, I should be able to article what I like about it, what it is that makes it work for me--techniques used, characters, sparkling dialogue, narrative humor . . .

So, now in February, I've found my new year's resolution: Read like a writer.