Gatorade and Saltines

Little Miss Talkalot is Little Miss Very Sad. Because she's caught some kind of virus replete with fever, she missed the Valentine's Day celebrations at school yesterday and she's missing today's 100th day of school celebrations. (Apparently, there's always something to celebrate in our elementary school, which really isn't a bad way to live life, is it?)

A. stayed home with the girl yesterday, and today it's my turn. I'm missing two meetings and cancelling the same class I had to cancel on Friday when the boy was diagnosed with strep throat. This season of illness is kicking my butt. It's been a week since I assumed the new administrative role and yet I haven't really had a chance to fulfill its duties. But at the very least, I can say that I'm not falling behind in four classes, just one.

Also, it's just really weird to see my daughter so sick. And it's not that she's near-death, but that we're just not used to seeing her act so . . . sedate. She's sleepy -- she actually napped yesterday -- and quiet and generally unhappy. It's a weird occurrence, and puts a weirder spin on my world. The universe is misaligned somehow when my usually chirpy, bright, bouncing daughter stops her chirping and bouncing and dims her little light.

The boy, meanwhile, is up to his usual terribleness. Which makes me laugh and laugh and then cry and cry because I've lost all hope of control. Today's top priority will be defending his sister once he becomes bored and begins to terrorize her.

There's also a literal mountain of laundry on the couch in the basement, and a similar pile of dishes in the sink, and crumbs to wipe up and dog hair to vacuum. Ah, domesticity.

In news that's not kid- or cleaning-related, I've finished the fairy tale! That's right! I know, you expected more fanfare, right? Something like flashing lights and victory signs? Me too. It was strangely anticlimactic, but also extremely satisfying, when I completed the last stanza of the poem this morning. There's still lots (LOTS) of editing to do and fine-tuning of the meter and also two or three poems to write for that section of my manuscript -- but the poem itself is done. DONE. Feel free to skip the next line as I indulge: DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE!!!

So my manuscript, Fabulous Beast proper, and not Fabulous Beast, the chapbook, is at 69 pages. The fairy tale poem ended up being 24 pages long, and the mother/daughter poems that I'm writing as interruptions to the narrative are currently 4 pages in number, but may be 6-7 when the MS is finally complete. But holy-freakin-cow: I've actually finished something that I started.

Most of my writing life has been filled with fits and starts. It went something like this: I begin a series of poems, I run out of steam, I MAYBE get a chapbook manuscript out of whatever I've produced, I shop the chapbook manuscript two or three times, and when it's been rejected two or three times I put the manuscript away.

I'm pretty pleased with myself for writing so much and for such an extended period of time -- I'd never ever written daily (or nearly every day) for six months before I went on this sabbatical. And it is reassuring -- even though the semester is young -- that I've been able to maintain my "writing in the morning" schedule. It almost makes up for my fat ass and all of the running I haven't been doing. (Although perhaps -- when the kids nap -- I'll even get in a run today!) (Or, you know, take a nap with them because I'm exhausted from this getting-up-at-five-a.m. crap.)

I'm sure this kind of accomplishment wouldn't really be viewed as an accomplishment by someone more disciplined and talented than I -- but I'm going to crow for a little while longer. Or, at least, for the space of this post.

In the next two-three weeks, I have the following to concentrate on: (as far as my writing life goes -- my child-rearing life and my academic life have their own lists)

* Writing those "interruption" poems for the fairy tale section of the manuscript
* Writing the myth poem I have been mulling over in my head for the past two months
* Revising the first two scenes of my verse play
* Writing my report for the Sabbatical Committee (I wonder if I can just print out the pages of this blog?)

That's a lot of work to do in three weeks -- especially when one of those weeks will be filled with travel and attendance at the AWP conference in Chicago. But it's so nice to feel inspired and energized by this feeling of accomplishment. If this was the evening, and not the beginning of a day filled with sick-kiddy-wrangling, I might help myself to a glass of sparkling wine in celebration. Instead, I guess, I'll settle for Gatorade and saltines. (Cheers!)

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