Month: July 2013

Taking Care of Business

Today I am uploading the Tub of Happiness reprint files. There are 1377 images in the book, so it is going to take most of the day. Fortunately uploading is mostly a process I can walk away from. So I walk to where the sketch pages need to be trimmed and I work on that. We’re just about ready for Howard to start the process of signing and sketching copies of The Body Politic. We’ll be shipping these next week. I still need to pin down the exact days, but it’ll be Tuesday-ish through Friday-ish. Once I know the days for certain, I’ll have to put out the call for volunteers. Fortunately this shipping process is much smaller and simpler than that for the coins. The vast majority of the orders are one book into one box. we won’t have to assign people to stare at rows of coins and check them against an invoice. A few days of work and it will be done.

More of it would be done already except getting our furnace and AC replaced has proved to be distracting. I spent part of yesterday dismantling my shipping room so that they would have room to work. Today I have three men traipsing through my house carrying large things and making banging, clattering, and drilling noises. Also the house is stuffy because no AC. This afternoon or tomorrow I’ll get to reassemble my storage room. That process will be complicated by the fact that I need to sort merchandise into things that need to go to WorldCon and things that need to go to our storage unit rather than taking up space in my storage room.

Also distracting is the fact that this looks to be one of our most expensive weeks ever. The HVAC system replacement is not cheap and this morning Kiki came and showed me the amount due for her tuition, meal plan, and dorm fees. That number was not unexpected, but staring at it the same day as the other bill made the math portions of my brain kind of unhappy. Looming on Friday is the consultation with an oral surgeon about Kiki’s wisdom teeth, which very probably need to come out. It all adds up. The good news is that, as the boss of my company, I can decide that the Taylers did a really good job shipping all of those coins and perhaps they deserve a bonus. Thus money flows from the business account to the family accounts. But before I can do that, I have to sit down and do math on all the things which the business needs to pay in the next few months. I’m pretty sure it will all work out. I just need to sit down with the accounts and crunch all the numbers. This would be easier to accomplish if my work computer were not busy uploading and my house were not full of construction noise.

Three weeks until our lives shift from summer schedule into school schedule. Two weeks to GenCon. Four weeks to WorldCon. Book shipping next week. It is a lot to track and one of the reasons that I don’t actually attend any of the events. Me leaving the house adds significant layers of complication to everything. For this year I’m glad to stay home.

Contemplating My Angry Mode

Yesterday I enjoyed a twitter conversation with John Scalzi because we’re convention friends and we were frustrated about a similar problem with WorldCon memberships. Fortunately the good WorldCon volunteers resolved the problem and my last tweet was a comment that John’s situation was fixed more quickly than mine because he had the might of Krissy (his wife) on his side. John responded with:

Krissy is a mighty weapon. Mind you, I don’t want to see you in angry mode. I bet it is AWESOMELY TERRIFYING

You can read the whole conversation thread here if you wish.

I wanted to say something clever in response to John, something that would make him laugh. So I almost answered
“Very few people see me in angry mode. It usually hits them from behind.”
I even typed the words into the tweet box, but then I deleted them. Because that would be funny for those who know me. But for those who know me less well, it makes me sound like a sneaky and vengeful person, which is not who I want to be. I don’t get angry and seek to hurt other people in order to make myself feel better, even if they have already hurt me. However I will absolutely, unequivocally do everything I can to remove a malicious person’s ability to hurt me and mine. I am unlikely to accomplish that goal with a confrontational assault. Instead I would stand back, figure out where their power comes from and then undermine it just enough that me and mine are safe. I picture this like the underground water which is invisible until it creates a sinkhole under the enemy’s defensive wall.

To this point in my life I’ve never really had to do this. I am perhaps fortunate in that no one has harmed me with malice. I’ve been sideswiped by malice, but not pursued by it. If malice is moving away from me, I just let it keep going rather than drawing its full attention with my response. For accidental damage, clear communication leads to apologies and healing for all parties. I’ve dealt with that plenty. Most people do not intentionally offend or harm others. I avoid the kind of people who do. They are not worth my emotional energy. This morning I followed a link to Theodora Goss’ post about The Best Revenge. In which she says:

1. Live a fabulous life. This step is absolutely crucial. When you feel vengeful, ask yourself, am I doing something fabulous? And if you’re not, go do something! It doesn’t have to be something extravagant. It can involve getting ice cream, or buying flowers, or walking by a river.
2. Write about it. Or take pictures! Share that fabulous life, share your story. The purpose of sharing your life is not to make anyone else envious, but to allow other people to participate in it. And of course you should participate in their stories and lives as well . . . I love it when my friends are living fabulous lives too. (But Step 1 is absolutely crucial: the point is not to post pictures, but to actually have a fabulous life. The pictures come afterward.)

I recommend the whole article, but the primary point I took from it is to turn away from pain and seek out joy. This is very wise and my usual approach. I would only go angry mode on those who actively pursue and seek to interfere with my attempts to move on.

I’m actually glad to have an angry mode. I didn’t for a long time and it made me very vulnerable to getting stepped on.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Returning Home

“So what is the plan for this evening?” Howard asked as we drove home from the airport. My answer was simple. Assess the state of the house, assess the state of the kids, clean up the messes both physical and otherwise, put everyone to bed on time. After three days and two nights with no parents in the house, I knew that we would be coming home to some mess. I also knew that the mess would be trivial. Kiki did a wonderful job as adult-in-residence, though it took an hour of talking for her to feel like it wasn’t an utter disaster.

The kids were very glad to have us home. I knew that they would be. The tightness of their hugs was a good first measure for how unsettled they were. Kiki is not the only one who will need to talk this through. Our absence ties into the other changes that are coming. Though I’m really hoping that we can stay focused on summer things for a few more weeks. Stressing about changes ahead of time is not particularly beneficial.

One of the things that surprised me most was the lack of anxiety on my part. I kept expecting it to be there, but it wasn’t. Rather like the way that my left foot stomps for a foot break because the van had one and I drove it for twelve years. My new car does not, so that foot reaches to find air where the habit portion of my brain expects resistance. I’ve always been anxious about leaving the kids. This time I was leaving them with newly-adult Kiki instead of an adult who has parenting experience. Surely I should have been more nervous, but I was less. I knew it would all be okay even though I knew some of it would feel quite hard.

For now we are all home. Nothing is broken. Tonight we rest, tomorrow there is work to do.

Jay Wake

Jay walked in and there was applause. I heard from where I stood in the reception area despite the fact that Jay had entered at up a flight of stairs and across a lounge area. I was among the bustle of those who were setting up tables and arraying the t-shirts on them. There was an hour until the official beginning of the event, but with Jay’s arrival the show had already begun. All of us turned, aware of the arrival of Jay.

People began to accumulate as the start hour approached. Friends greeted each other and clustered in little groups, none of us quite sure how we were supposed to be feeling about this event. A wake is a strange thing when the object of it has just smiled and hugged you. We were there to celebrate and to grieve, yet the largest portion of the grief is still incoming, we all know this. We hear it like the whistle of a WWII bomb that we know will cause damage, but we’re not sure yet where or when it will land. The urge is to duck and cover, instead these friends of Jay gathered, smiled, laughed, and admitted to each other that this thing we were doing was kind of weird. None of us doubted that it was right. Jay needed a party and that was borne out as he ended the evening as energetic as he’d arrived.

Food makes many things better. After we all sat in the banquet room, after six friends bore Jay into the room in a casket to tumultuous laughter and applause, after Jay jumped out and made us laugh again, then we all filed through the buffet lines. Just the act of selecting seats had settled some uncertainty, the food resolved more. We all know how dinners go. It was familiar and we knew our roles. I watched everyone settle in to conversations. Some of them were about Jay or about the event, but mostly people spoke of other things. Various groups broke out into laughter. We did a fair amount of laughing and storytelling ourselves.

Most of the people were unfamiliar to me with the exception of a few people I’ve met at other events. Then there were the other familiar faces, people I’ve never met, but whom I’ve seen in photographs while assembling the Jay Wake Book. I sometimes tracked their progress through the crowd, wondering how they are doing, because I know that Jay means much to them. I’ve read their stories. After most of the dinner was gone, there were announcements. I stood in front of the crowd of strangers and friends. I explained the Jay Wake Book and expressed hope that everyone would send me something. (Please do. I’m sure I didn’t say it right, that some other arrangement of words would have been better. Howard tells me that I said what was necessary, but I can’t even remember what words I used. This frustrates the part of my brain that would like to analyze and figure out what they ought to have been. I did not rehearse them ahead of time as is my usual habit. I wonder why I did not. I was distracted perhaps.

When my plea for submissions was finished, I presented the first iteration book to Jay. It is a proof of concept, incomplete and imperfect. Each submission is there in full, but I know which stories are waiting in email, and I have list of people who have told me they want to send something. I will do better on the final version, make sure that the cover is better placed and centered. Jay thanked me and I handed the microphone to the master of ceremonies. Howard waited for me and we sat together to listen to the next portion of the program. There were other gifts, many of them cause for laughter.

I understand how a good roast can be wonderful and cathartic. Laughter is healing. Yet they are uncomfortable for me. As the evening started switching gears into the roast of Jay, Howard and I quietly exited. We visited with some friends in the reception area to the occasional sound of uproarious laughter that came from behind the doors of the banquet hall. The speakers were doing their jobs well. I think Jay laughed loudest.

It was late when the doors opened and the crowds emerged. They all smiled, some looked a little teary. A part of me regrets that I did not stay to hear all the words, but I know my limits. This event was an emotional ride for everyone involved, probably most especially for Jay. In fact many of Jay’s nearest and dearest did not attend at all or left early. Grief is complicated and individualized. Two people may have the same cause for grief, but they travel very different paths through the landscape it creates. What heals and enlivens one person can be wounding knives to another. One of the wonderful things about Jay is that he understands this. Most of his close friends do too, because Jay draws amazing people to him. Or maybe he teaches it to them.

I wandered the banquet hall as groups of people paused in their departure. I perused the tables to see if anyone had filled out submission forms that I needed to pick up. A few had been delivered to me. Mostly they were pocketed and people would likely email me later. I hope. I want the Jay Wake Book to be quite thick. I collected the “Things I Learned from Jay” notes off of the wall and folded them to be put in the book later. There is much work for me to do in the weeks to come in order to follow through on that project. But for the evening my job was complete.

Howard and I wandered the reception area. Often at Howard and I circulate separately during public events, but we stayed together for this. It was not a part of a plan, just what happened, perhaps because Howard did not need additional space to wear his public event face. Or maybe we wanted to stay close. We were sitting together when Jay came to say goodnight. He thanked us for all we did for the event. Jay was not the first, nor the last, to thank us. These thanks felt strange, because Howard and I feel like we did not do that much, not compared to others. We just did a few things that obviously needed skills we have. We feel honored that we could be of use on this occasion.

We lingered as the crowds dispersed, the individual participants in this event scattered out into the night and Jay Wake was completed. Yet each person carried a piece of the event with them, so perhaps it has not ended, but rather become diffused and will spread like a meme. We went to bed tired both physically and emotionally.

We sat with Jay and Lisa as they ate breakfast the next morning. It was the first chance I’ve ever had to visit with Lisa. I am now quite certain that Jay’s heart and health are in excellent hands. Howard and I were glad to have that quiet hour to visit without interruption. We felt a little selfish in taking it, because there are many others who would like an hour with Jay. Yet the hour was there and we did not waste it. The conversation was likely the same sort of conversation that Jay has often, we talked much about the current state of Jay. I suspect these conversations can be wearying. Though I hope we traded some good company and laughter for the life review.

Then we collected our things, tucked our memories of Jay Wake into our hearts, and departed for the airport. This was a wonderful difficult trip and I’m so very glad we were able to go.

Gatecrashing and Guest Posting

Yesterday and today we’ve been gatecrashing the Cascade Writer’s Conference. I suppose it is not technically gatecrashing, when the conference organizer is so kindly giving us badges and anything else that we need. Mostly we’ve been dividing our time between fantastic conversations and writing words. Howard hopes to finish this weekend with a full draft of his next Rune Wright story. I’ll be happy with some progress on the Amelia outline. We’ve already had some very useful business conversations, which is not at all what we expected from the weekend. This evening is Jay Wake at which I expect to both laugh and cry.

In the meantime, I have an essay up on Segullah as a guest post. 100% is Not Available in which I talk about parenting, weariness, and grace.

A Quick Rant About Things Broken

I am very grateful that all of the things continued to work during the years when we were constantly terrified that we would run out of money. I am glad that we have the necessary money this year when all of the things are breaking.

But I am tired of surprise expenses.
Teeth are expensive, air conditioning is expensive; furnaces, doctor’s appointments, diagnostic appointments, vehicles, furniture, vacuum cleaners, computer repair, and dishwashers–all expensive.

That is all.

Evaluating My Summer

There are days when it is very easy for me to identify all the places in my life where I could be doing better. This would seem like a good thing, not being blind to the need to improve. It would surely be worse if I woke after my kids, let them play on computers all day, expected them to forage through (well-stocked) cupboards for their own meals, and did not realize that this pattern of behavior counted as sub-par parenting. As a short-term rest from Mom always being in their faces expecting chores and homework, my kids welcome this laissez faire style, but over the long haul it is not good for them. They need structure, regular bedtimes, meals, or it can get perilously Lord-of-the-flies-ish around here. So I was noticing the need to improve my parenting game. I opted to take the kids on an outing. We went to a “Fun Arcade” to which we have passes. The kids did have fun there, playing laser tag, driving go carts, steering bumper boats. I had a sort of fun too while I watched them and took some pictures. Yet we all came home cranky and in dire need to be far away from crowds of people and noise. I brought home a lovely headache. Mission accomplished. Sort of.

The plan was for the outing to occupy the morning and I would get business tasks done in the afternoon. Yet I had real difficulty re-engaging my business brain. I’d opened up my long parenting thoughts, spent a morning thinking of the other outings and things we’d like to do this summer. I mused upon ways that I could spend time with my kids and enrich their lives. Those thoughts filled my brain and did not want to be tucked away so that I could answer emails. I was stressfully aware of all work waiting on my attention, but unable to focus on a particular task enough to complete it. This, of course, sent me into an existential despair. obviously I can not possibly be a good mother and a good business owner simultaneously. The best I can manage is a haphazard rotation. I would long for the return of school, when there was more separation between the parenting and the business management, but I quite clearly remember how much I was looking forward to having less schedule for the summer.

I spoke today with a friend about the state of publishing and her current strategy for revising and submitting books. Her assessment of how the business of publishing is currently running was sound to me, but rather discouraging considering the types of things that I write and the speed at which I write them. I don’t write best-seller material, or at least I haven’t yet. My publishing career may never take of because of a hundred factors out of my control. Yet only a few days ago I spilled angst on these subjects and decided to write anyway because I have stories that I want to tell whether or not they ever gain a wide audience. The size of the audience is not how to measure the worth of a story. So I focus on the work itself, not where I think the work will take me, or what public appraisal of the work will bring to me. It is me and the words, me and the story. Those are the things that matter.

After my friend left, I looked over to my kids who were wearing headphones and clicking with their computer mouses. I walked over and kissed the tops of their heads. They didn’t even flinch, because that is a normal thing for me to do. They live in confidence that they are loved, that the cupboards will have food, that we’ll all attend church together, that if they have a problem, or a scratch, or a random thought, they can find Mom or Dad and tell us about it. They usually have to dig in baskets for clean clothes to wear, but the clothes are clean, the dishes get done (mostly), and our floors are clear in the middles where people need to walk. All of this stuff is the work of parenting. It is the moments when I fit grocery shopping and laundry in between the business email and shipping. These things are done with out expectation of accolades, and certainly not because I expect my kids to remember it. The outings (which I’ve been feeling guilty for not doing) are the times that get the photographs and are chronicled as family stories. The true work of parenting is listening when a child wants to tell every detail of her dream. The dream itself is unimportant, but the listening is very important.

The heart of creation, whether it be a family, a story, a business, or a household, is in the quiet work done almost out of sight. When I readjust my vision to focus on those things, I think I may not be doing so badly this summer after all.

Summer Scenes

“Oh no! They paved the street.” Gleek was genuinely distressed to see the smooth black surface as we exited the house. I was surprised that this was a surprise to her, because the fact of street paving had required my attention for much of the week, including a grocery trip “so we won’t have to go out tomorrow” and then having to sneak out of the cul de sac just before the paving crews arrived because of another urgent errand. I put up with it all because I viewed new pavement as a good thing. Our cul de sac had become a web of cracks sealed with tar. What I did not know was the long and elaborate games that Gleek had around those tarred over cracks. The cracks had personalities and they played a role in her imaginative worlds. Only now all the cracks were invisible.
“I feel like my friends are suffocating.” Gleek said. “Why do things have to change? I don’t want things to change.” I put my arm around her shoulder and we walked past the still-warm tarry street to where my car was parked. I don’t think Gleek was just lamenting her cracks. This summer she is twelve, play has changed. In a few weeks she’ll be in junior high, that is change too. Kiki will be heading off to college, that is different. Gleek shed tears for all the changes, though she only thought she cried over pavement.

It has been several days since Gleek cried over the street. She’s noted that the texture of the cracks can still be seen now that the new layer has settled in. Her friends are changed, not gone. Hopefully that bodes well for the other things.

“This has been the worst summer of my life.” Link said. I’m not surprised at the declaration. Our schedule has been very sparse on fun outings, and his schedule has been heavy with requirements and doctor’s appointments. Add to that the fact that Link feels some separation from his friends. He’s struggling to find new ways to relate because many of the things which interest his friends do not interest him. One part of me thinks I should attempt to help solve these problems, that I should direct, nudge, encourage. Another part of me recognizes that ultimately Link is the one who has to learn and grow. I can’t give that to him as a gift. Mostly what I can do is make sure that the next four weeks have some happy things for him.

Part way through church I leaned over and put my head on Kiki’s shoulder for just a moment. I could do that because Kiki has graduated from the youth programs and now sits with me during the adult classes. She looked at me puzzled. I whispered to her,
“I just counted weeks in my head. There are four.” In four weeks she’ll be off to her next adventure and I’m glad for her to go, but she’ll be missed here.

“Patch went in the dunk tank!” Kiki told me with impressed tones. Indeed he did, as evidenced by his completely drenched grin. His clothes stuck close to is lanky frame, emphasizing how much taller he has gotten this summer. “It was scary, Mom, but I’m glad that I did it.” Patch said before he proceeded to tell me in detail every moment of his dunk tank experience. He walked tall on the way home, quite pleased with his bravery. Gleek braved the tank as well and felt similarly pleased. We’ve never had a dunk tank as part of a church party before, but this one was a huge success.

We bought a veggie tray late Saturday night and put it out first thing Sunday morning. It was an experiment in psychology and healthy eating. If healthy snacks were convenient, would we eat them instead of rummaging the cupboards for chips? By Sunday evening the tray was three quarters depleted, so the answer appears to be, yes. It is only a beginning. Hopefully it is a beginning that we will follow through on, because this summer the meals have been exceedingly haphazard. Getting up and going to bed have been pretty random as well. Half the time the kids are out of bed before I am and they’re on the computers already. At least we’re making token efforts toward pulling these aspects of our family life back together. Bedtimes and meals, they’re good for us. Really.

“Mom, will you play Minecraft with me?” I haven’t played video games in years. Well, except for Plants vs. Zombies, but that’s a little game on my computer. I used to play video games quite a lot back when our console was a Nintendo 64. The kids did not have the skills to play through difficult sections, and they wanted to see the whole Zelda story, so I played for them. It was a thing I could do to entertain the kids. Then somehow they took the controllers and didn’t need me anymore. I had other things to do, so I did those instead. Occasionally I became interested in a game that had a story, but it was always the story which interested me, not holding the controller, so I was happy to be the one to watch. Minecraft is the latest craze with my kids. They love it. I’m fine with it, but I never watch because it is a sandbox game. No story, just the ability to go anywhere and build anything. I wasn’t interested. But then Gleek looked at me with big eyes. She loves this game and she wanted to do something with me. This is how I came to spend two hours of my Sunday afternoon digging a big square hole in the ground and being generally clueless about things like torches, axes, and red rock. Gleek had a great time zipping around me, making sure I didn’t fall into holes or get lost. Sometimes I need to join them in their activities rather than pulling them out to do something I dictate.

Updates on Progress and Other Things

I am tentatively, and with fear of jinxing, declaring my desktop computer to be fixed. We replaced the motherboard almost two weeks ago and it has not crashed since then.

There are only 35 more coin orders to ship. They are all orders where the person who purchased the coins has not given me an address.

Pre-orders for The Body Politic have been progressing well. We’re almost two weeks in and almost sold out of sketch editions. The books were delivered yesterday and my garage smells like triumph. (Triumph is the smell of 5000 freshly printed books.)

Gleek was laid flat by a migraine today, the second she’s had in the past couple of weeks. Sadly this is likely a gift from my genes. I had periodic migraines for about a year when I was her age. I’m taking it as a sign that we need to pay more attention to healthy eating. Not that I think that will solve the problem, but it is a generally good idea.

I’ve finished up the edits on the Tub of Happiness reprint. There were over a hundred corrections to evaluate and apply. I’ve handed half a dozen image edits to Howard. Once those are done, I can upload files to the printer and call it done.

I got copies of the Jay Wake book back. I’m not entirely pleased with the print on demand cover, but the contents are exactly the way I intended. In a week I will get to deliver these copies and then work will begin on the final iteration.

Travel to the Cascade Writer’s Conference and Jay Wake has been arranged. I’m looking forward to attending a writer event and to supporting the efforts of those creating Jay Wake.

Monday will be my day for shipping things to GenCon. We need to send coins, hats, mugs, and The Body Politic. Also on the preparing for GenCon task list: Banners and flyers.

There is also a preparing for WorldCon task list. Howard has acquired new boots and the new tux will be showing up soonish. I still need to buy Howard’s plane tickets. There is math to do in order to figure out how much capitol we can spend on this event. I also need to do the math “guess how much product to send” dance. At least we’ve arranged for transportation of merchandise.

Salt Lake City ComicCon is in September. I keep forgetting about it because it is a newer addition to the schedule. I should make a list for this.

The Unofficial Anecdotal History of Challenge Coins has done some basic collection, but we haven’t yet begun significant editorial work. Once Howard and I hammer out a process, I expect it to go fairly quickly.

We need a new dentist because I don’t trust either of the two we’ve worked with in the past month. Kiki’s wisdom teeth should probably come out before she heads off to college.

My new car still does not have a name. I’ve been noodling and trying to find one that fits. I’m not sure that I’m going to though. The closest I’ve come is realizing that this new car functions as our family’s sky bison, the friendly white thing that is willing to haul all of our people and our stuff, but it can’t be Appa and none of the other sky bison have names.

Howard has been writing prose regularly and making significant progress through his writing commitments. I’m happy about this. I’m working on writing as well.

My intended push toward healthier eating did not materialize in June. I’m going to have to expend some effort and do meal planning. Because it is time for us to be cooking more, eating healthier, and eating out less. Better for our budget and us.

Tonight I cooked a meal using thyme grown in my back garden. I’m quite happy about that.

Link’s doctor has said that no more follow up appointments are necessary. We just need to continue the home treatments we’ve been applying and everything should clear up.

I finally convinced Patch to let me trim the hair around his ears and neck. He looks less scraggly now.

And it has gotten late enough that I can’t remember the other things I intended to post updates about. Time to sleep.

My Summer

“So how is your summer going?” my neighbor asked as we sat on my front porch. She’s not a neighbor I visit with often, just about once a month when she comes over as my visiting teacher. It is one of the programs of my church where women of the congregation are assigned to visit each other. It is a good program, helping people make connections and build friendships where they otherwise might not. Like me and this neighbor. We’ve known each other for years, but not had much cause to sit down and just chat. This does leave me with a bit of a dilemma though, because to really clarify how my summer has been would require quite a lot of back story. I could spend hours explaining how our business goes, the various ailments and recoveries of my children, the transitions we have paused for the month of July, and dozens of other things big and small which all contribute to how I feel about my summer on this particular sunny afternoon.

I give all of that a wide miss and simply answer, “Good.” It is truth. Things are good, particularly on that porch with the air warm around me, but the sun veiled by the shade of a tree. I can look across the mowed lawn with it’s clumps of clipped grass that really ought to be raked, but it was so much effort to get my son to mow that I chose not to spend effort arguing about raking as well. There are also weeds aplenty in sight, but I look up instead to the pink blossoms of the mimosa tree. I can smell them as the breeze wafts toward me. Wasps fly languidly in the tall grass and my cat is stretched out on the warm pavement in the shade. On that hot porch I can immerse myself in the feel of a summer afternoon when nothing is particularly pressing. My to do list has been steadily shrinking. This surprises me because for so long things accumulated far faster than I could get them done. Now they are starting to be done.

The coins are shipped. The Body Politic has arrived en-masse. Link’s doctor says he does not need any more follow up appointments. Kiki has been to her orientation meeting. There are still business things to do, but it is a reasonable number, one that allows for me to sit on my front porch and visit with a neighbor. Of course she wants more detail than “Good.” So I try to focus down a little bit more on one small piece of life. Somehow life is easier to share in pieces. Since Kiki is on the porch with us, we end up talking about her orientation and her impending departure for college. It is a comprehensible challenge, easy to define and explain. Much simpler than talking about my writing, or my worries about the coming school year these things are complex and I feel many contradictory things in relation to them. It is nice to focus on an aspect of life rather than trying to hold all of it in my head at once, as I so often do.

Perhaps this is why I feel so calm during summer afternoons when I step outside. In those moments I let myself be fully present in that moment rather than on a computer with half a dozen windows open, trying to remember which thing should come next. I don’t have such a respite in the winter months and I miss it. My neighbor stayed only for a short visit before getting on her bike and pedaling home. I sat for a few minutes after she left, just feeling the fading heat of the day and knowing that this summer is good.