Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Life and Death of a Story

All my life I have loved to read.  I hope that never changes. 

When I finish a book, I have a mourning period.  This isn’t anything I do on purpose, it just kind of happens.  I race to get to the end of the book, ecstatic to discover the ending and what happens to all the characters.  I giggle with glee as I add the title to my booklog.  (Yes, I really do keep track of all the books I read.  I am a nerd.  I can’t help it.)  I have an entire shelf of books waiting to be read, so availability is not a problem.  Eventually I do select the next lucky volume, and by the end of the first chapter I am no longer grieving for the last book.

Now I just have to hope the same goes for writing books.  Almost seven years ago, shortly after the birth of my first daughter, I wrote a children’s book called Simon’s Perfect Web.  That was the last thing I wrote for a long time.  I would like to say that this was such an awesome book that my mourning lasted that long, but that really isn’t the case. 

I have since turned Simon into an ebook, and have written a 17,000-word novelette that will seen be for sale as an ebook as well.  I can tell you I am very much in mourning over my novelette!  I was very attached to some of the characters, and even when I wasn’t actively writing I was plotting the storyline out in my head.  It all started with just one simple idea that I wasn’t sure how to use, and has morphed into an entire book.   And now, it’s over.  Just over.

I’ve had some other ideas for books here and there, and scribbled them down in my notebook.  I’ve been very distracted by sending submissions of Simon’s Perfect Web to publishers, figuring out how to launch a freelance business, and bisecting the basics of blogging.  I even actually sat down to start the next book the other night, but I just didn’t have my heart in it.

Surely this will end soon.  I will be able to cast of the veil of mourning and dash headlong and fancy free into the madness of writing again.  Meanwhile, I will stand by the notion that chocolate and Cherry Coke fixes anything, and head to the grocery store.

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Neither Hair nor There

For those of you who follow my blog (and shame on you if you don’t!) you know that I recently whacked my mane for charitable reasons. 

I miss it.

Before my hair and I were separated, it spent a lot of time getting slammed in car doors, caught in drawers, and tangled in my glasses.  While this certainly sounds like a major difficulty that I ought to be glad I am rid of, short hair has its own complications.  Now that the weight of my hair is gone, it rearranges itself into wonky swirls and flips.  These are quite unattractive, and must be tackled with a serious flat-ironing session every morning.  No more wash-n-go for me!

I am still working on training my subconscious self to realize that there just isn’t as much hair there as it used to be.  When I’m in the shower, I find myself still using a rather large dollop of shampoo, even though I only need about a third as much now.  Not to mention I get many of my blog ideas in the shower, so the shorter hair severely cuts down on my creative time.  When I get home from work, I am in the habit of putting my hair in a ponytail to keep it out of the way while I clean the house/cook dinner/poke around on my computer.  Shorter hair renders this completely unnecessary, so I have to slap my own hand almost nightly when it reaches for a ponytail holder.

Faithful readers, don’t get me wrong.  I do not for one second regret the reason behind my brisk bob.  I am very glad to know that someone will benefit from my scalping.  Perhaps I just want to say that I hope they enjoy it, and maybe slam it in a car door occasionally to make it feel at home.

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A Project that has Grown on Me…Literally

A few days ago I went to the hair salon and had most of my hair chopped off.  It had been down to about my waist, and is now shoulder length.  Part of the reason I did this was because it was just getting too long and difficult to manage.  Another reason is because I was ready for a change.  The biggest reason, though, was that it was just time to donate again.

The first time I donated my hair was in late 2008, while I was pregnant with my second daughter.  I don’t think I had a very good reason for doing it that time.  It was just what the hormones commanded of me.

Several months later, I went to my obstetrician for a routine 7-month ultrasound.  The ultrasounds were always one of the best parts about being pregnant.  There is nothing like seeing your child up on that big screen, moving around and growing inside of you.  There is nothing like being told that the ultrasound is abnormal.

The ultrasound tech and the doctor were not able to tell me much.  They explained that there was something “down past the spine”, and it had not been there in the ultrasound that was done a couple months prior.  I burst into tears, and my doctor held me while I cried.  I am still so grateful for that amazing gesture.

A few days later I found myself at the Center for Advanced Medicine in St. Louis.  A very lengthy and detailed ultrasound (which was rather uncomfortable given how pregnant I was at the time) revealed that Claire had a Sacrococcygeal Teratoma.  Basically this is a tumor on the tailbone. She would have to undergo surgery very shortly after birth to have the tumor and her tailbone removed.  The length of her hospital stay was unclear.  How well the lower part of her body would function was unclear.  The likelihood of the tumor being cancerous, however, was very small.

A follow-up ultrasound in St Louis showed that the tumor was growing rapidly.  The doctor sat down in his office with me, and explained that the “solution” for this was to deliver the baby via c-section.  This particular type of tumor has a very good blood supply, and he didn’t want to risk it hemorrhaging.   When I asked about the time frame, he said, “How about tomorrow?”

Claire was in the NICU at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for a total of two weeks.  She had her surgery at one week old.  I was so happy when they told me at the two week mark she could come home.  The worst was over.  Then the oncologist showed up.

There is a very bright side to this story.  Claire is going to turn 4 in May.  There have been many return visits to Children’s Hospital for tests and scans to make sure the tumor wasn’t coming back.  She did not have to undergo chemo or radiation.  I like to joke that Claire has spent enough time at the hospital that she has nearly completed her residency.  I can’t deny that it has been a long and difficult journey.  Last August her oncologist declared her a “normal kid”, and she now only has to go back for annual visits.  We celebrated with ice cream.

The point of all this, is that donating my hair now means so much more to me than just a change of pace.  Claire didn’t have to lose her hair, but I can’t help but think what it could have been like.  My baby was lucky.

 

 

(Please note:  Do yourself a favor and don’t look up Sacrococcygeal Teratomas online.  The images are not pretty, and the majority of them show cases that are far worse than what Claire had.)

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