Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Amusing the Muse, Refilling the Well

All writers need inspiration. My family is mine. And so are the experiences we share together. Our recent trip to Nashville was no exception. Just a few of the things my muse is amused about:

1. E has a twin. Doesn't matter that A is younger than E by 6 years. Doesn't matter that they live in different states. The two look so much alike that people were calling them by the wrong name all week. It was a hoot, and, to E, must have looked as if she were staring at herself in a mirror. They have the same nose. Same silky black hair. Same almond eyes. Same attitude and sense of humor. When the two met for the first time, E stared at A for a few beats then declared, "We-ell, she has different glasses than me."

2. Nashville serves a mean pulled pork sandwich. We discovered this our first night there. We ate at a place called Jack's Barbecue, a hole in the wall located along Broadway in the heart of the entertainment district. It was 9:30 at night by the time we went out looking for dinner, but the town was hopping. The sidewalks teamed with people sightseeing, shopping and hopping from one nightspot to the next. Band's played in store front windows. Music poured out into the street. At Jack's, we waited in a line 20 some people deep to get our family-style meal of pulled pork sandwiches, mac n cheese and beans. The meal blew my Weight Watchers points for the day, but it was SO worth it.

3. Little People of America LPs know how to party. In addition to back to back programming all day, there was a dance every night. We wore our dancing shoes every night we could. The dances didn't start until 10, but that didn't stop E and S from going strong. Can you say power naps?

4. E participated in the talent show. Her act: she spoke to the crowd of 2,500 strong about her service dog Jewel. Hubby P accompanied E, serving as a kind of interviewer to help get her started and keep her on track. They both did an amazing job.

5. S learned how fun it is to play elevator tag in a 30+ story hotel.

6. P & I relived our BC (before children) days by stopping at Mammoth Cave on the way home to do some caving. The decision was totally spontaneous, which was a breakthrough for us. We haven't been that kind of spontaneous since before E got so sick. As you might imagine, few caves are handicapped accessible. So, P, bless his heart, carried down the trail to the cave entrance. And then he carried her 80 steps down into the cave and 80 steps back up again when we were done. E loved it. S did, too, after she realized that the bats and other cave critters were more scared of us than she was of them.

7. Our glasses fogged up after we left the cave.

8. I need a vacation from the vacation but will need to hold off until after my Alumni Mini Residency at Vermont College. In addition to the editors and agents who will be there, Fantasy Day guest speakers include Holly Black and Gregory Maguire. I leave Thursday, and have to say I'm seriously looking forward to refilling the well.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Dancing Shoes, Little Red Suitcases, and the Courage to Write

We're heading to Nashville soon for the National Little People of America Conference. My little red suitcase is nearly filled. It's waiting on the bed for a few last-minutes necessities...my toothbrush, my slippers, my journal, a book, and notes for a new project.

It's a story I began years ago while studying for my MFA from Vermont College, but I didn't pursue because I didn't have the courage to write it. Now, it seems, my muse is ready to face that dark attic; so, in the notebook will go. Then it's down to the kitchen to finish gathering up the rest.

On the to-do list there:

1. Mobile medicine cabinet and equipment--some of it for P & I, most of it for E who requires round the clock meds and monitoring for various conditions.

2. Portable pantry and cooler--again, most of it for E, whose sodium-restricted diet (she can have 1000 mg or less a day) requires MAJOR creativity on the road.

3. Service dog gear--for E's service dog Jewel. Food, check. Bowls, check. Leash and a couple toys, check, check. And, lots of baggies for poop patrol.

4. Dancing shoes--The conference will include meetings with physicians who specialize in E's form of dwarfism. We'll also hear from people on the cutting edge of research on primordial dwarfism. There will also be frank talk with physicians and families about the sobering prognosis for anyone with this form of dwarfism.

The hard reality is none of the boys have lived past twenty and less than a handful of girls have lived to 25. E is 18. I imagine if any one of the parents in our group stopped long enough to think through the short time God has loaned us our children, we'd find it hard to get anything done. Which is why we need the dancing shoes.

There's a dance at the convention each night. The girls have packed a dress for every one of them.

And we've all packed our dancing shoes.