Monday, September 24, 2018

Fall takes


Well, it's fall now!  And the weather fairies seem to have gotten the message, because on the Equinox it was clear and breezy, and since then it's been cold and drizzly.

Fall gives me weird feelings.  I don't know whether to cheer for the changing weather or dig in my heels ... because for a short time, it's getting better and better, and then suddenly it's too cold and going too fast and all the leaves fall off and then it's winter.  I really hate winter.  I hate not being able to go outside, but I'm very intolerant of cold so I sit inside staring out the window feeling trapped.  It doesn't help that our house has mostly small windows, and isn't very warm.

But we're far from that day just yet.  Last night we got to sleep with the window open and the fan off, which was lovely.  I'm not used to all that silence though.  The window units are like a jet engine.  When we turn them on in the spring, they're way too loud, but my ears got used to them and now expect them.  At least the crickets are still going strong!  I love the way summer nights in Virgina sound like we live in the middle of the jungle.


I'm still submitting my novel.  So far I've sent out 72 queries (meaning, a query letter and some number of sample pages) to literary agents.  I've gotten four manuscript requests, and most of the rest were either non-responses or form rejections.  All four of the people who read the manuscript turned it down.  But I did get a few encouraging responses saying the story was good, just not quite what they were looking for, and one actual piece of constructive criticism saying the ending was a little anticlimactic.  So I put the querying on hold for a while so I could rework the beginning a bit (since that's the part most people are seeing and not being interested in) and redo the entire ending.

I've gotten that done, and I think it's a huge improvement.  I blew some stuff up, that's always good, right?  So I'm ready to go back to querying, hopefully with better luck this time.


NaNoWriMo is coming soon and I am not sure what to do!  I feel overwhelmed with my life now, and what's going to change before November?  How will I have time to write anything?  But I remember I felt the same last time and I got it done.  So I'm not backing down just yet.

I think I've chosen a story.  I had like seven ideas to choose from, and a big part of me has been saying what I need to write is the memoir, the one about my experience in RC, but I just . . . really don't want to dig all that stuff up again.  So I'm thinking of the interstellar triller with the love story in it.  I came up with the idea when I was twelve or thirteen and reworked it many times without actually writing anything like a novel out of it.  It's hard because my main character is actually two people living in the same body.  How does one narrate a thing like that?  I'm planning on focusing on one of the two people, but they talk to each other and it's going to be a little difficult making all the inner dialog clear.  I tried a few pages in third person and they suck so I'm going to experiment with first person.  Not sure.  Third person is more the thing for adult sci-fi, but of course the right thing is the thing that works for this particular story.


So much political stuff going on right now.  I have been getting way too sucked in, and arguing with way too many strangers.  The one bright side is, a lot of the more-liberal Catholic facebookers keep friend-requesting me.  I never know whether or not to accept those.  Like, they seem like nice people and I'd probably like them.  But would they be super disappointed to find out I'm not actually in their tribe?

I have a smartphone now, which is mostly great because I can take good photos and the school can reach me when I'm at the park.  But it just makes my facebook addiction even worse.  I'm thinking of going back to screen-free Fridays.  Or at the very least, facebook-free.  My messenger conversations with friends really get me through the day, and of course there's writing and reading the news ..... BUT, on the other hand, it's one day a week and I have a pile of books to read.


I got the results from Marko's psychological assessment.  Did I mention we did that, back in August?  It took like five months to even get the appointment, and we had to drive an hour away, but insurance covered it so I really wanted to get it done while we've got it.  (Not expecting to lose it but in this climate who can say what's going to happen?)  Marko was luckily very cooperative.  It was really nice having a day out with him, without any of the other kids.  We even got burgers and milkshakes together.  His behavior lately has frustrated me to no end, so I really needed that chance to see his better side.

Well, he has autism.  Which obviously came as no surprise, but this diagnosis is official unlike the previous one.  We got a big packet full of resources to look into, which I stuck on top of the piano to look at later and really need to go through.

The big thing I need to look into is some kind of counseling for his emotions.  The occupational therapy he gets at school is focused on school stuff, like his (in)ability to write.  But his behavior at home has started to be really dreadful in the past six months or so, and a lot of that is because he is having interpersonal issues with his siblings.  He takes everything as a personal affront (them playing games that don't interest him; them playing pretend; anyone who is not him being first at everything) and, since he's learned to control his temper a lot better, he often doesn't melt down but instead passive-aggressively teases and annoys them.  It's like regular sibling rivalry, but on steroids because even when they're trying to be nice, he often interprets it as being mean.  

It doesn't help that Michael has a big chip on his shoulder lately and Miriam has tended to jump straight to banshee shrieking at the slightest offense.  Maybe they're hyper-defensive because of Marko's bad behavior.  Or maybe Marko's behaving badly because they're being so mean.  I don't know, but it's a big cycle and I keep trying and trying to break it, but the only thing that works is separating Marko from the others.  I keep begging him to please, PLEASE, read a book or type a story or play with your cards or ANYTHING that is not interacting with your siblings!  But that's not a long-term solution because he has to learn to interact with peers someday.  I had hoped he'd learn that at school, and he's made some small progress, but not nearly as much as I would like.  So that's what the counseling would be for.


Jackie is still so hard.  If she naps, she's up till ten or eleven at night.  If she doesn't nap .... she's still often up late because she took a 30-second doze at the dinner table, or because she was up late the previous night, or whatever.  But if she's up late once, she's tired and cranky and there's no way she's getting through the day without a nap.  It's a cycle I'm constantly battling.  And then I hear about 20-month-olds that both nap, even in the afternoon, and also go to bed at seven and I get sour about it.  Did you know that some children, you can deliberately mess up their nap schedule or take them to an evening activity, and the very next day they resume a normal sleep routine as if nothing ever happened?  SO UNFAIR.

In the daytime her hobbies including nursing for what feels like hours while humming Twinkle Twinkle, pinching my belly, and trying to flip upside-down; biting for no reason; demanding food purely for smashing purposes, and coloring on the walls with marker.  I mean, standard toddler stuff.

Her verbal skills have really exploded though.  From just a couple words, in a month or two suddenly she had dozens.  Other. Me. Blue. Purple. Yellow. Apple. Egg. My. Come on. Man. Out.  Some words she won't even try, like Marko or Michael's names; others she seems to pick up after hearing them once.  I can't say it makes her easier to please -- I mean, the main problem in her life isn't that I don't understand her, it's that I do and still sometimes say no.  That's when she goes ballistic and goes for the eyeballs.

Is Jackie more difficult than the standard baby?  Or am I just so tired it seems that way?  The world will never know.


Oh, I do have one thing I'm very proud of!  I finally went to the dentist and got my cavities drilled.  It was both very scary to face and very expensive, so I had every motivation to put it off, but I finally got it done and that's a thing I don't have to worry about again for awhile.

Now is it me, or do dentists univerally pick the worst possible music to play in their offices?  It's always eighties music, and not the good stuff.  Somehow easy-listening eighties music makes the skin crawl up the back of my spine.  It feels like something horrible is going to happen.  And I don't know if it's legitimately terrible music, or if I got this association from how dang often I've been scared in dentists' offices and that's what was always playing.

A few worst offenders: I'm Still Standing, Fly Like an Eagle, literally anything by The Police, Your Kiss is on My List, Take On Me.  Is it the minor keys, the synth, or what?  I don't know, but a whole lot of 80's songs give me the heebie jeebies.

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