Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekend With My Muse

Tonight marks the first night of a weekend away with my muse courtesy of P.

With E so recently out of the hospital, I've been reluctant to take advantage of his Christmas present. But somewhere around midweek, I began warming to the idea.

A constellation of events came together this week to help change my mind. E continued to improve as the week wore on. Yesterday her neurologist set in motion the beginnings of a workable care plan. Today E made it through her first day back at school since being discharged a week ago Thursday. What's more, my cell didn't ring once with a call from the nurse's office to come get her early, not in the middle of Jazzercise, nor while catching up on email. I began packing. Mini Dell, power cords, Kindle, note cards, reading material, colored pencils, markers. I've packed anything and everything I think I'll need in order to coax my muse from the place she retreated when all heck broke loose. I'm hoping that with enough uninterrupted time together she (and I) will dare risk getting excited about M&R again.

As I type, I'm printing off M&R Nano, the book I wrote in November for National Novel Writer's Month. My plan is to read it in one sitting then cut out my favorite scenes and literally lay them out on the floor of the hotel room in story order. From there, I'll identify scenes I love, and holes to fill (or back fill) as needed. Then to start writing.

Looking forward to an uninterrupted night's sleep (in which I don't need to listen to the baby monitor in case E needs something), ordering in breakfast, and setting to work. Then, if the weather's good, I hope to break for lunch and scout out the Bean and/or the Art Institute, both of which are walking distance from where I'll be staying.

Then back for round two. And, hopefully, when I return, my characters will meet me at the door.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Report from the Trenches

In full battle gear these days, not by my own choosing. Last week we found ourselves in the hospital at E's bedside.

The saga began a week ago last Monday when E's aide called to say that E had fallen asleep at her desk soon after arriving at school. By the time I arrived at school, she'd fallen asleep again, this time at her scooter while waiting for the elevator to come. Even more worrisome, as she drove up to meet me at the main doors, she could barely stay awake, let alone carry on a conversation.

It hurt to open her eyes, she said. Everything was blurry and the light hurt. This isn't right, I remember saying. Something is very wrong.

I left the scooter at school, carried E to the parking lot (thanking God she's a little person), and called Children's from the car.

E didn't wait long in the ER, not with a history of aneuryms and symptoms like extreme, sudden-onset fatigue and blurry vision. The folks at the hospital moved quickly, admitting E and running a battery of tests to help understand what was going on.

The good news is E's home. The bad news is we find ourselves living in an unnerving in between place. We know what the episode wasn't, but we're not yet certain what it was, and we don't yet know what this all means for the long term. Tomorrow we meet with the first of what feels like a million doctors who, over the next couple weeks, will help us put this puzzle together.

Writing wise, I didn't have the time or energy to work on M&R during this latest saga, although I brought my mini Dell with me each day hoping I'd find the time to do so. For what it's worth, I did manage to keep a journal. Writing in it by hand the old-fashioned way seemed to work best.

Reviewing it now, I realize how much I'd forgotten about the last time we were in the hospital for days at a time. After each big ass test, the not knowing was the worst, because at least with the knowing, you can begin to assess and acknowledge the road you will be traveling on next.

And then there were the other details, the alarms and smells--some antiseptic, some not, and the haunted faces of the parents who passed me by in the hallways. After a while I got to know their faces, and after a while I realized that I probably looked as tired and stretched as they did.

We're returning to normal now, if you can call the place where we're at normal. E is getting stronger each day, able to stay up longer before she needs a nap. I'm slowly digging out of piles that grew while we were gone. What seems to be working best lately is to let the big A To-Dos prioritize themselves.

Yesterday, the big To-Do was an IEP for S where we talked high school and Freshman classes. Not a trivial meeting this one. I'd love to say we felt fully informed about the choices we were making for her. We didn't. A number of items that came up during the meeting remain open issues as far as I'm concerned, and they're on my list to pursue as soon as today's big To-Do is past.

Today the big to-do is my teen writers workshop. The topic: Characters You Love (and Love to Hate). I'm looking forward to tonight for several reason. The first is that I will be joined by long-time friend and writer extraordinaire Jenn Knoblock. The second is that in the past I've left my workshops feeling invigorated and inspired.

Toes and fingers crossed that tonight is no exception to the rule because my muse can really use the boost.