Month: April 2010

Kid perspectives on what we do

I was carrying five large boxes to the curb one at a time. They were full of books which are getting shipped to Penguicon in Michigan. (Howard and I will be there in three weeks. Stop by if you’re in the vicinity.) As I was making the trips in and out of my house, I became aware of Gleek talking to the neighbor’s babysitter.

“Oh yes.” Said Gleek “Those are full of books. Our fans buy them.”

My mind stuttered to a halt to hear Gleek talking about “our fans.” I sometimes feel self-conscious talking about fans, because really they are fans of Howard and the comic strip. And they only belong to the category by choosing it, they don’t even belong to Howard. To have a fan is to have a gift, it bestows (limited) obligation, not ownership rights. But then I remembered that it we talk about our house, our car, and our food. These things become the communal property of the family even though Howard and I are the ones who pay for them. It makes sense for Gleek to generalize the source of our income. However my kids definitely have a very different perspective on where money comes from than the one I grew up with.

It’s all about the cell phones

Patch: “I know why you and Dad make comic books.”
Me: “Oh really? Why is that?”
Patch: “It’s for your cell phones.”
Me: “How are comic books about cell phones?”
Patch: “You make comics to get money. Money pays to keep cell phones connected. Cause if you don’t pay money then the only number you can call is 911.”

A better day

Last night I prayed that I could make today better, that I could get my priorities in the proper order. I did. Unfortunately that does not mean everything was smooth sailing. It does mean that we ended the day with the house more orderly. More important, half of us now have a much clearer understanding of the other half of us. It was a bit of an emotional tangle to get there, but we arrived.

The day also included hours of time spent outdoors, baths for everyone, and a haircut for Gleek. We just might survive this spring break thing after all.

Frazzled Today, better tomorrow

I have achieved frazzled. I’ve actually been there ever since yesterday afternoon when I got an email reminding me of some artwork we had promised to a convention which I had then forgotten to actually supply. Fortunately we had plenty of art to hand off to them and the problem is now solved, but the jitters have remained.

Howard has kicked into high gear, and is thus thinking 10 miles per minute. He’s drawing that fast too. The last pieces are coming together. The tweaks we’re making on the book now are the ones which most people wouldn’t notice, but which are the difference between good and amazing. The last of the margin art is going in today. A few things remain to be colored.

But then there are the other pieces. The loose business pieces in several flavors of new that I also have to wrap my head around far enough that they get filed rather than lost.

And through it all, the kids tromp and play and want food. That is my day. By tomorrow the sun will come out both literally and figuratively.

Didn’t I say I wasn’t going to do this again?

I’m having deja vu. Last year Spring Break was rainy and I was under high pressure to finish a book before the end of the week. This meant I had little attention to give to the kids and they were all trapped indoors.

Guess what today was like.

Forecast says there will be sun later this week. I’m hoping for work to be done too.

Longshoreman of the Apocalypse Nominated for a Hugo

Schlock Mercenary: The Longshoreman of the Apocalypse has been nominated for a Hugo in the category “Best Graphic Story.” Howard and I are both very excited. Howard will be going to Australia to participate and pick up his shiny nomination pin. We’re not sure yet about the extent of his stay, but he’ll definitely try to do some signings outside of the convention. The kids and I will be staying home, but we are not forlorn. We have tickets to the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. We told the kids both bits of news at the same time. The part about “Daddy’s going to Australia cause he was nominated for a Hugo” was met with smiles. The part about going to the festival was met with outright glee. It is good to know where the kid priorities lay.

Cadbury Eggs, change, and life after death

When I was a child Cadbury eggs were the epitome of Easter goodness. I saw them on TV. There was this bunny who would wiggle his nose while making chicken noises and then hop away leaving the egg behind. A pair of hands would demonstrate how the chocolate shell was filled with gooey white goodness. I watched that long sweet string stretch between the two halves of the chocolate shell and I wanted one. Cadbury eggs were my Easter dream. On the few occasions that one came into my possession, I treasured as I ate. It was heaven on earth as far as I was concerned.

The Easter season of my first year at college, the local grocery store had a box of Cadbury eggs sitting at the check out stand. It was one of those newly emergent adult moments when I realized that I did not have to beg for this treat. I could just buy it. And so I did. Then I ate it and it tasted pretty good, but my stomach was unsettled afterward. It became a yearly ritual, buy egg, eat egg, wish I had not eaten egg because I felt sick. It took four or five years before I really faced the fact that I don’t like Cadbury eggs. That gooey sweet heaven to the child me is sickeningly sweet to the adult me. Part of me feels sad for the little girl I was who now has the ability to buy all the eggs she could dream of, but who no longer wants to.

This is part of growing up. This is one of the things children sense and fear about it. They know that in the years to come they will change. They will become so different from what they are and the worry how they will still be themselves. I’ve felt that fear.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I buried myself in research. I wanted to learn everything about pregnancy so that I could know what to expect. What I found was alarming. My body was going to change weight and shape, my balance would be changed, my joints would loosen, I would become forgetful, moods and emotions would shift on the waves of hormones, even my clarity of thought would be shifted. I cried to Howard one night because I could not see how I could still be myself when everything about me was going to change. I went through it all. I went through all the mothering that came next. I set aside old dreams of writing and drawing to pick up new dreams of nurturing and teaching. I repeated the pregnancy process three more times. I set aside almost everything to survive radiation therapy. I learned to love gardening. Then I came to a time when the nurturing and teaching left enough room for me to dust off the other dreams. I have changed and changed again, yet through it all I was still me.

I used to joke that my oldest daughter had the taste of a magpie. She loved all things sparkly, shiny, and bright pink. She bedecked herself often. She and I had a bit of a struggle over how we should decorate her room, she won the day with a hot pink Barbie comforter. That girl is gone. The daughter I have today does not like pink, particularly not hot pink. She likes cool colors and solids rather than prints. Sparkles and shine are occasional accents, not standard fare. Yet she is still the person she was. And she is not yet the person she will become. Neither am I.

I am thinking of Cadbury eggs today, because it is Easter. They sit at the check out stand and I do not buy them. This year Easter is also the General Conference for my church and many of the speakers have spoken of death, resurrection, and life thereafter. I know that not everyone who reads this blog believes in life after death, but I do. And today I have been thinking about how life after will be different. I will be different. I will be as different from who I am now as I am currently different from the girl who loved Cadbury eggs. Today this thought is not frightening, because I can see that though I will be different, I will still be me. Those I love will meet me there and they will still be themselves too. We will all be moving on to whatever comes next just as the Cadbury girl moved on to be me.

Change is paradoxically the one constant. We continually shift and grow. I look forward to seeing who I will become in the years to come and in the years hereafter.

An empty space

My first task each weekday morning is to get the kids off to school. It is chaotic and frequently frustrating, but it has gone better since I started making the kids pay attention to clocks. After I drive kids to their various schools, I come home and begin assessing what the rest of the day will look like. I check email, I check task lists, I talk with Howard. Then I make a plan for the day. Usually the plan gets altered repeatedly in the course of the day, but having a plan helps.

Yesterday I found myself at 10 am with nothing left to do. Seriously. I still have piles of work, but all of it was waiting on a piece from someone else. Book layout is waiting on margin art. Cover layout is waiting on some illustration pieces. Convention prep is waiting on a photo shoot which we’ll do next week. No one had ordered stuff from the store since I shipped the day before. There weren’t even very many emails. The weather was stormy and wet, so gardening was out of the question. I puttered around the house for awhile. Then Howard left the house at noon and I was alone. Alone for two hours with nothing urgent to do. It was marvelous.

I was tempted to sleep. Sleep makes my brain blank which sounds really attractive since it has been a noisy place to live of late. Instead I decided to spend those two hours being a writer. So I crafted a query letter and submission packet. My friend Janci offered to read it and give me a critique about whether it was working. Writing the query is yet another baby step toward the time when I’ll be querying my project for real. Part of my brain spent time telling me that I was being silly and that no one could be interested in buying my book, but I ignored that part and did the work.

Then it was time to pick up the kids. And none of them had homework. And they all dashed off to play at friends’ houses. And then I was alone again for three more hours. It was enough time to eat food, play a video game, and clean up the house. It was wonderful to be able to do the things I chose to do simply because I wanted to do them.

It also meant that my brain was untangled and ready when the North Valley Writer Girls could not come, the Utah County branch all congregated at my house instead. It was really fun. I was able to be at home for my kids while still getting to talk with other writers.

Today I think there will be more time free for thinking and unwinding, although I won’t be alone in the house. I’ll also be listening to my church’s General Conference which will fill my head with new thoughts to think. Next week the kids are home for spring break while I simultaneously attempt to finish up a book. It will definitely be interesting.

Utah’s Biggest Liar

We just got back from the Utah’s Biggest Liar Competition at the Orem public library. Howard and I were asked to be judges after the contest organizers met us at LTUE. I guess they could tell by looking at us that we might be good at it. It was a family event, complete with a junior competition. So we brought our kids along. I loved seeing the range in experience and practice. I loved how those who were just starting out with storytelling got the same chance as those who had been practicing for a while. The most common flaw was that the stories ran over time. But mostly we didn’t mind because they were fun to listen to.

The kids behaved really well and had a great time. Although Gleek says the best part was after the competition was over and she got to play hide and seek in the library with some other kids. But then she was the one who was telling story after story during the post event cookies. Each story was wilder than the last. All the kids will be getting a reward of some sort, because Howard and I were able to focus on our judging duties without being worried about them.

I came home energized and happy. It was such a nice change after the dragging day that I’d had. I loved getting to talk with the people who were there. I hope we can be involved again.