I read Twilight about six years ago. It was after the third book in the series came out, but before there was a movie. I wanted to know what all the buzz was about, because I’d heard both raves and pans. I began reading and was pulled right in to the relationships portrayed. Then three hundred pages into the book, it suddenly had a plot instead of just a relationship. I enjoyed the book, but then I started to think about it. The more I thought, the more things I found that were of concern. It is one thing for a grown woman to read it as escapist fantasy, but I worried about young girls who were still forming their ideals for relationships. There is so much unhealthiness in the relationship between Edward and Bella. I was also concerned that Bella is so blank. She only makes one decision in the entire book and has to be rescued from the disastrous consequences. When my teenage daughter, Kiki, decided to spurn the books and join the anti-Twilight camp, I was glad and I never bothered to read the rest of the series.
Fast forward about six years.
A few days ago Gleek brought home Twilight from her junior high library. She told me that she had it, almost embarrassed, not sure that this was a thing that was allowed. She knew that lots of people hate the book. She knew her older sister dissed it. Yet she read the back cover and it sounded interesting to her, so she brought it home and she asked me if it was okay for her to read. Then I had a decision to make. At twelve, Gleek is at exactly the impressionable age that I was concerned about reading the book. If I told her not to read the book, she would probably obey. She’s a good kid. But I also know that the reason she’d obey is because she trusts me and I want to retain that trust. Someday she may ask to do something that I really feel is bad for her, something she wants desperately, but I have to deny. On that day I want her to know that I don’t just say no on a whim. I want her to trust me. Honestly, Twilight does not merit that level of concern. It is a romance book, probably no worse than half a dozen manga books that Gleek has read. So I told her my concerns about the series. We had a conversation about relationships and stalking. I told her why people love the book and why others hate it. Then I let her make her own choice. She decided to read it.
She loved it and will certainly be reading the rest of the series. And so will I, because I want to be able to talk about the things that happen in detail. I want to be able to reference specific scenes as examples as we have an ongoing conversation about how teen and adult relationships work. We’ll get to talk about how all people want to be desired and protected, but that those drives can lead them down dangerous paths if they are not wise. Those are really good conversations for us to have when she is twelve and most of this stuff is theoretical. So I suppose that a young girl reading and loving Twilight can be a good thing, which is not something I thought I’d hear myself say six years ago.
I see articles about Elf on the Shelf, Kindness Elves, or November dinosaur adventures, all of which are traditions that require daily creative effort from parents after they’ve put kids to bed, and I think that maybe parents don’t need to do that stuff to be good at parenting.
I’m so glad these things are popular when my kids are too old to care. I’d have been terrible at them. Twenty-five-year-old me would have felt like a failure for being terrible at them. You can ask my kids, I was a horrible tooth fairy. And it is okay. My kids are happy. Their lives are full of their own creative efforts. They are not emotionally scarred because they had to dig the teeth out from under their pillows and hand them to me in order to get paid. In fact, that has become a point of connection, a family joke.
So I say to parents of young children, skip the dinosaurs and elves unless they genuinely make YOU happy as well as your children. You don’t need the stress.
An additional note of caution: time and energy intensive traditions may not be possible every year. This year’s joy can become next year’s overwhelming burden. If it was fun last year and you hate it this year, find a way to let it go.
Strength of Wild Horses is funded and then some. I can now do a happy dance and heave a huge sigh of relief. I’ve felt some of that relief since last Saturday when the project crossed the funding threshold. But I feel even more relief today. This is the day when I can stop the promotional push and shift over to making sure I fulfill promises. That is a much more comfortable place for me to be.
Unfortunately I arrive here woefully behind. Yesterday I was flattened by a stomach flu virus and spent the day in bed quarantined from the rest of the household. I don’t remember much of the day and what I do remember was pretty unpleasant. So all of the shipping I was going to do yesterday, landed on today instead. Then today I was able to work at only about half my usual speed. So, pretty much everything is behind schedule and the kids are saying things like “when are we going to get out the Christmas books?” and “Shouldn’t the tree have lights on it?” I’m consoling myself with the memory of one of my childhood Christmases when we didn’t put up the tree until halfway through December. Now I wonder what crazy mess of things my mom was dealing with that year. At least this year I have zero involvement with the church Christmas party, which is a nice change from the past three years. I get to show up and just enjoy it. Theoretically. That is also the day I retrieve Kiki from college, so it is possible we’ll be delayed getting back.
In other news, we got to treat for possible head lice only twenty four hours after decontaminating for stomach flu. The treatment was preventative more than anything because the child in question had been quite thoroughly (and accidentally) exposed to an active case. I’d rather be thorough now than have to deal with a more widespread case later. Patch announced a burning desire to have cello lessons. Link has been taking more control on his homework lately. All of the kids were quite sweet and helpful to me while I was sick. And I can tell that I’m still not 100% because I planned to keep this post far more focused and I ended up rambling.
I thing a few more days will clear the backlog of obligations and I’ll be able to focus on one day’s work at a time. Tomorrow: shipping packages and sending surveys to all my Kickstarter backers. Tonight: sleep
There comes a point in the day where I just have to ignore the voice which tells me that there is something I ought to be doing. It is 10:49pm and that voice has a list of things which I could do right now to promote my Kickstarter, or make my house ready for tomorrow, or prep for shipping out the sketched calendars or to be a better parent. I’ve been whittling my way through the list all day. It keeps getting longer, not shorter. So at some point I just have to accept that I need to take time off even though not all of the things are done. I need to sleep, to rest my brain. Though sometimes it makes me sad because the things on the list are things I really want to do. Gleek had a choir concert today and I have thoughts about it that I’d like to explore in writing. I also have thoughts about Gleek, therapy, and Frozen. Finding a conjunction of time, energy, and brain space is tricky. Maybe tomorrow.
In order to have Kiki home for Thanksgiving, I had to fetch her from college. That’s a three hour trip each way for a total of 12 hours of driving split between Tuesday and today. Driving time is excellent for my brain to wander and often it latches on to various thoughts and tells me that I really should flesh them out into full blog posts. Then I get home and realize that they’re really only interesting enough for snippets, not a full post. Except I collected enough snippets that I can make an entire post about them.
I spent a good hour of driving time thinking about how traffic patters on a two lane (each way) interstate are changed by holiday traffic. I developed an elaborate if-then driving strategy which I was going to detail in full. Of course that sort of thing is not actually interesting unless one is bored because she has to drive for two more hours and needs to occupy her brain somehow. So, I’ll spare you all from a thousand word screed about driving tactics. You’re welcome.
At one point on the drive I rode along side a tall cattle fence. Something about the design of the fence and the landscape made me think back to when I was in South Africa. We drove along roads similar to the one I traveled, but the fences were far more impressive. They were elephant fences, three times taller than the tallest cattle fence. My guide informed me that they only served as guidelines to encourage the elephants to pick a different path. Very few fences were able to withstand an elephant who really wanted to get through. So I pictured elephants wandering across the landscape. Then I pictured dinosaurs, because Jurrasic Park had animal containment fences too. Those worked about as well as the elephant fences really. Then I drove over the hill, left the fence behind, and found new thoughts to think.
I recently re-watched The Abyss because I wanted to see if it was still as good as I remembered. It was and it wasn’t. I watched the director’s cut, because that is the only version where the ending makes sense. The first two thirds of the film were excellent. I really engaged with the characters and their situation. I remember the final third being good, but this time it was very unsatisfying. On one of the drives, I figured out why. The ending speaks directly to people of the cold war era in 1989. Everyone felt pretty much powerless in the face of possible nuclear desolation and the average person really longed for some greater being (or aliens) to show up and demand world peace. That is what the aliens do. I think the fact that this ending was deemed satisfying in 1989 says something about the collective desires of many people. I find it interesting that the zeitgeist of the time was already tempering and ending the cold war. Some movies teach us a lot about the society that created them.
When I got a new journal, I got one with a plain cover. On the back I’ve started writing quotations that strike a chord with me right now. I find it interesting that four out of the five have to do with courage. I’d no idea that courage in the face of fear was so resonant for me right now. I’ll be pondering why.
Possibly because all the driving shook so much loose in my head, but church was a full pack of tissues event. It was a day where my heart was cracked open a little and it all leaked out my eyes. As I walked home, which is not technically part of any of the road trips, but was still a transit, so I’m putting the thought here. That sentence got away from me. Start over. As I walked home, I was thinking about my recently funded Kickstarter and the things I’ll need to do in the next few days before it closes. I was also thinking of all the other things I had to do, including six hours of driving (see, it relates.) The thoughts chased themselves around my head, then between one step and the next, I had a very clear impression. This year has been rough and wonderful in a hundred small ways. Most of the things that happened were ultimately good, but that doesn’t make going through them easy. I have been the shepherd of all these processes. I have guided my children, Howard, and myself through a dozen different transitions. I have worked long hours days upon end, switching from business work to family support, and back again. I saw all of that as a gestalt encapsulated with the feeling You have worked very hard, Strength of Wild Horses is a gift. I don’t get to have this project because of that work. The two are mostly separate. But it is more like a loving father who sees a hard working child and says “Well done. This is for you.” It has been a long, long year. We’re almost through with many of the transitions. I have just as much work ahead as behind, but right here–today–I get to have a project. It is one I longed to have for a long time. It has already given me so much, and it will continue to give to others. Strength of Wild Horses is a gift.
The phone rang when I was five minutes from home (we’re back to road trip stories now). “Mom! What is wrong with the microwave!” Gleek asked urgently. I’d been away from the house for seven hours. I’d no idea what may have occurred to make the microwave not-normal. I pointed this out to Gleek, while also mentioning that perhaps she should go inquire of the parent who was at home with her. It turns out that the turn table had been removed for washing.
I came home to Christmas lights in our front yard. I put them up yesterday and made sure to plug them in before I left, so I could see them when I came home. The tree is pretty, the lone strand around the doorway looks like our house was decorated by someone who only had a step ladder. Which is the case. We own a much taller ladder, I just didn’t want to climb it. The cost of falling is too high. Perhaps some other year we’ll spring for professionally strung lights put up by someone with proper equipment. I came inside to see that Gleek and Patch had assembled the tree. They’d also pulled out the Lego advent calendar. For the last three years I’ve bought one on clearance during the last days of December and then put it away for the next year. Patch opened the first door and assembled the little speeder. I’d only been in the door for a few minutes when Gleek asked where our advent candle is. I took a taper and quickly painted numbers on it. It is always interesting to note which of the family traditions matter to the kids. They’re not always the ones I work hardest on. The best traditions are the ones that spontaneously continue because they make everyone happy.
In two weeks I’ll get to road trip to fetch Kiki again. That time we’ll have her home for a month.
This Kickstarter project has felt like a gift. Over and over again I have been moved to tears by the kindness of friends who blogged, tweeted, shared, linked, commented, emailed, messaged, and liked. People spread the word much farther than I could have done by myself. That is a gesture of trust and friendship that I will always treasure. So many people believe in this project and what it can be. They also believe that Angela and I can deliver something worthwhile. I leaf through the pages of originals and know that Angela has truly delivered. Now I’ve got to complete my part. I need to arrange words and pictures. I’ve got to collect order information from my backers, most especially those names which will be printed in the book. I’ve got to prepare the files, send the book to print, and be ready when it comes back. Each backer is a person to whom I’ve made a promise and I’m excited to fulfill those promises. The closing of the Kickstarter is a beginning, not an ending.
My five year old niece looked up at me and babbled out a request in German. Unlike her older two siblings, she didn’t automatically switch to English when she walked in my house. Of course the last time she was hear was a third of her life ago. That’s a long time for a little child. I’m just happy that she still remembers me. I expect she’ll start using English very quickly, she already knows it just like her siblings. It is fun to have all of them here. It is even more fun the way that they just slide right in with my kids because there are good matches for age and interests.
My children are blessed with an abundance of cousins. This is not a surprise since I have six siblings and Howard has three. Howard’s siblings have all settled within twenty miles of each other, so we get the clan together about once per month. I’ve discovered that gathering for three hours once per month is far less stressful than gathering for a weekend once per year. My kids and their Tayler cousins have ongoing games and relationships. We used to see the cousins on my side of the family more often, but people moved around and shifted life phases. Three of my siblings have settled up in Idaho, so we need to trek there so that my oldest kids can visit their same-age cousins. But my sister’s family has just moved into my town for the next three months. They’re setting up a house that they can stay in when they visit from Germany. This means that my kids will get to spend time with their German cousins far more regularly than they ever have before, and I’m glad for it.
Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to hang out with family. It has far less pressure of expectation than the Christmas holidays, which helps keep the weekend relaxing. Tomorrow I need to bring out the holiday decorations and we’ll be pulled right into Christmas. Monday has lots of work waiting for me, but today I can listen to my children and the accent inflected voices of my nieces and nephew. It is a good sort of evening to have.
Somehow it got to be 9pm and I find that I am glad that I bought pumpkin pies when I was at the grocery store, else I would feel compelled to be baking them right now. What I want to do right now is watch some TV show and eat. All the hours of my day got used up. They were used well, but they’re gone now, and so is my energy. So instead of a focused and composed set of thoughts on the advent of Thanksgiving, I have a rambling series of thoughts instead.
I drove six hours yesterday to fetch Kiki from college. We talked all the way home about everything and nothing. Kiki has two more weeks in her semester after this weekend. Beyond that she has a new semester and a new roommate that she picked for herself. She’ll have new classes and new challenges. She’s excited for all of it. She’s also excited to be at home, even though she’s sleeping in the concrete room that used to be my shipping room.
Kiki came with me to the warehouse today. She helped me put orders into packages. We sent out all of the unsketched complicated orders to international destinations. The remainder of the unsketched orders will go out the day after Thanksgiving, along with the first accumulation of holiday orders. Working with Kiki made me so glad to have her and to have the warehouse.
The first thing I did this morning was have a cover conversation for the Strength of Wild Horses book. Angela has struggled with it because I wasn’t able to articulate what I want the cover to be. I finally did that this morning and I think the result will be delightful. It is also possible that I paged through all the original art just because it is here and I could. Angela’s pictures make me happy.
Despite all of the work things, today had a holiday feel. Some part of my brain knows that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I’m glad.
There is an increase of interest when days left in the project drops below double digits. This is nice because the project has been sort of idling its way through the middle span of time, which is normal, but can feel discouraging after the frantic energy of the first ten days.
In theory I should nurture that swell and use it to build toward the end of the project.
I am exhausted. Not just from the project, but also because of all the other things that landed in this same time.
My life is made out of “other things” and I don’t know that any other time would have been better. In any case I waited for years hoping for a good time to show up. Instead I had to shoehorn it in even though the timing was not ideal. The truth is that if I wait until there is a “good time” before I reach for my own creative dreams, I’ll be waiting forever. I had to put a stake in the ground, launch the Kickstarter, and declare “this thing is happening now.”
Thanksgiving is in two days. Everyone will be away from their computers. Any momentum I build Today, tomorrow, Wednesday is going to vanish. I’ll have to start over again on Monday.
Note to all would-be Kickstarter folks: Dodge holidays, putting them in the last 10 days of your project is not wise.
I’ve heard that December is an abysmal month for Kickstarter. I believe that. I am worried that everyone will have moved on and be otherwise occupied. It is possible that December will prevent me from getting that final 30%.
Running this project has already given me many things. All the support and kindness will not go away even if the project fails to fund. I get to treasure all of it. I’m already very grateful. Very glad. The originals from Angela arrived today and they deserve a joyful post of their very own. I so very much want them to be in a book that I can share over and over again.
70% funded. So close. So far away.
I knew that having a warehouse would change my shipping system. I did not know exactly how. I’m still figuring that out. I thought I would shift all the postage printing over there right away, but right now the invoices and postage printing are still happening downstairs at my desk. Then I go to the warehouse to do the shipping. This means I can’t just do a little packaging in the 30 minutes between homework and dinner. I have to plan ahead. Which in turn means that I can plan ahead to take the kids with me.
Gleek and Patch had never been to the warehouse before. They are small enough that they could not help with the heavy lifting. The were very impressed with the space we had. Then we set up four work stations. Gleek and Link worked on shrink wrapping boxed sets. Patch put calendars into envelopes. I did a little bit of everything. At first they squabbled a bit over who got to do which job, but then we all settled in to working. Ninety minutes later we had a stack of neatly wrapped sets and about a hundred packages. It all went much faster than I could have done by myself.
As I worked, I listened to Link and Gleek working and laughing. Those two do not naturally gravitate to playing together and often when they do, it ends with arguments. Yet once we got going, they worked together pretty well. In the car on the way home they all talked with each other and I realized that they need more chances to work together. My kids need more chances to do work that they know contributes to our family income. I can picture myself taking various kids over to the warehouse to help with jobs an hour at a time. It could be a really good thing.
The fire marshall came by the warehouse and gave his approval. I’m expecting a city inspector on Wednesday and then it can be an official place of business. I even installed blinds in the window. Poorly. But they’re hung. I emptied the storage units and set up a bed for Kiki. I think I may finally be completing some of the projects at last. That would be good. Because I am very tired.