Crafting and Hobbies, Memoir

At some point, you just have to start writing again

I’ve been trying to pick up my writing practice again since I brought my son home from the hospital a few weeks ago. The day of Corbin’s accident, my writing activities came to a screeching halt. For the first week or so after the accident, I was in complete shock. I could barely function, and I couldn’t think past the “right now.” I lived in the moment in a way that I don’t remember ever doing before. Family members brought me books to read, coloring books to scribble in, and yarn to crochet with. I couldn’t concentrate on any of it.

After that first week, my brain began to thaw, but I still couldn’t concentrate on anything important. I picked up a crochet hook and some of the yarn that my aunt sent and got my hands busy. Crocheting is good for my anxiety. My favorite pattern involves counting to ten over and over and over again, and I find it strangely soothing. Maybe it’s my OCD.

crochet afghan
This is the afghan I started crocheting while we were in the hospital. I finished it a few days ago.

I tried to at least pick up my journal to chronical the days during our five weeks in the hospital, but even that couldn’t hold my attention for more than a minute here and there. Most days, I would spend my mornings waiting for the doctors to do their rounds so I could listen in when they got to Corbin. In the afternoon, I would lay down and take a nap. My days revolved around catching the doctors on rounds, ordering room service, and counting down the hours until naptime and bedtime. (It’s no wonder I gained ten pounds while we were living in the hospital!) Continue reading “At some point, you just have to start writing again”

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Corbin, Memoir

An update on my “semi-famous” son

My son and I were invited to attend the Homecoming kickoff assembly at his high school Monday morning. While he’s not officially back to school yet (It will be another month before we find out when the doctor will release him to return to class,) he enjoyed stopping by the school and soaking up his fifteen minutes of celebrity status in front of the entire student body. Here’s a video:

Continue reading “An update on my “semi-famous” son”

Corbin, Memoir

Before and after life turns on a dime

before the accident
My handsome son before the accident.

It’s true what they say about life and dimes. Two weeks ago, plus one day, my life was turned into a violent tailspin when my sixteen-year-old son was hit by a semi-truck while riding his bike.

So many things went right that morning, despite the great and horrible wrong that landed us where we are today. The driver of the truck stopped and helped my son rather than hitting him and driving away. Local first responders arrived on the scene in record time and rushed my son to the closest emergency room. A helicopter crew then took my son quickly to another hospital in a nearby city where a first-rate neurosurgeon literally saved his life.

I was later told that my son would be dead if everyone hadn’t reacted so swiftly. If even one person had faltered that day, I might be in mourning right now rather than living in a hospital, watching my son make miniscule yet amazing improvements each and every day. Continue reading “Before and after life turns on a dime”

Memoir

I dreamed I rode my horse

English: Eye of horse.
English: Eye of horse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night, I dreamed I was riding my old horse, Ruby, who’s been gone now for at least a decade. She’s a flighty old nag even in my dreams. Ruby had this annoying habit of flopping her head backward constantly, which always left me with the fear of being head-butted as I rode her. Once her son, Stormy, was old enough, I usually chose to ride him instead when I had the option.

In my dream, I was riding Ruby along a country road, and she kept throwing her head back at me as she always did. Up ahead, several other horses milled about on either side of the road. They perked their ears up as we drew closer, and Ruby grew increasingly agitated. Unfamiliar horses always made her nervous. I too grew anxious, clamping my fists around the reins in an effort to maneuver her past the other horses without incident. Continue reading “I dreamed I rode my horse”

Essays, Flowers, Illinois, Memoir, Nature

I’m suffering a little spring nostalgia

I’m feeling a little sad today. The redbud trees are slowly beginning to exchange their flowers for leaves. It may have been cool this week, but summer will soon overpower my favorite season, and we’ll be wilting in the sultry steam of a central Illinois summer.

This time of year always reminds me of my Grandma Webster who passed away just over nine years ago now. I was pregnant with my younger son when Grandma left us, so I will always be able to recall just how long she has been gone.

When I was a kid, I used to sneak down the hill by Grandma’s house with a pair of scissors and cut a few twigs of blooming rosebuds to surprise her with. Every time, she showed her appreciation for the gesture as if it was the first time. She had a way of making every single one of her grandchildren – so many of us now, I’ve lost count – believe ourselves to be her favorite. To this day, I am still fairly confident that I was Grandma’s favorite. But then again, so is everyone else!

redbud tree
The redbud trees are in bloom all over central Illinois right now, but they won’t last long.

Another treasured spring memory is a composite of all of the times I went mushroom hunting with my grandma in the woods by her house. Morels are plentiful in the woods of my homeland this time of year. When I was a kid, it seemed as though everyone I knew made a mass exodus into the local woodlands to search for this delectable treat. For a few short weeks, we’d have fried mushrooms for breakfast, and then again as a side dish at lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, I’ve never been any good at finding them myself. Continue reading “I’m suffering a little spring nostalgia”

Writing Prompts

Wednesday Writing Prompt: Food, part 2

Small fruit and vegetable market in Ventimigli...
Did someone say, “fruitful?” | Small fruit and vegetable market in Ventimiglia near the French border. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello again. In case you missed it, last week I posted part one of a writing prompt inspired by Joanne Karpinski’s essay, “Discerning Diversity in America” from Teaching Life Writing Texts (286-291). Today’s writing assignment consists of revising your original essay from last week. If you are just now joining us, please feel free to complete last week’s writing assignment prior to reading the rest of this post.

Part Two

“Revise [your] initial essay by establishing a social context for [your] personal narrative about food. How do the preparation, presentation, and consumption of food reflect larger value systems? How do attitudes toward certain foods connect to overall values—are they consistent or contradictory? How can food be used as metaphor in [your] expanded piece of life writing?” (289-290). Continue reading “Wednesday Writing Prompt: Food, part 2”

Memoir, Parenting

My son, the writer

Avery's book project
My son is working on this book project for school. He wants to publish his story when it is done.

My 8-year-old is writing a book for a competition at his school. Yesterday, he brought his notebook to town with him so he could work on his project while we waited for my cracked windshield to be repaired. He likes to use waiting room time constructively and always brings something to read or work on.

At one point, my son stopped to ask me to list all the foods I cook for dinner that “he really really likes a lot” (I could only think of tacos.) You see, he is doing a life writing piece and couldn’t remember what we’d had for dinner on a particular day he was describing, but he could remember it was something he liked a lot.

Since I wasn’t much help, he finally said, “I’ll just use tacos,” and got on with it. He didn’t let himself get hung up on that insignificant detail but instead chose something that acted as a fair representation of the truth. This is an essential concept to keep in mind when writing nonfiction, which many readers consider to be completely “true.” Sometimes obsessing over getting a tiny detail just right is counterproductive. There comes a time when you need to just come up with a fair representation and get on with it. Continue reading “My son, the writer”

Book Reviews, Memoir

The Stories We Tell | An analysis of Mary Gordon’s “The Shadow Man: A Daughter’s Search for her Father”

Pieter Claeszoon - Still Life with a Skull and...
Pieter Claeszoon – Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This semester, I am taking a graduate-level course in women’s life writing, partially in an attempt to generate interesting and intellectual content for my blog. Throughout this course, we will be writing “course autobiographies” on some of the texts we are reading. The following is my analysis of Mary Gordon’s The Shadow Man: A Daughter’s Search for her Father.

The stories we tell

The Shadow Man: A Daughter’s Search for her Father is the story of a woman who has based her life on the testimony of unreliable witnesses. Her entire sense of self is disrupted when she realizes that many of the stories she has lived by are not true. While this is not the type of text I would normally choose to read for fun, I do believe it holds value as a teaching tool. In addition to telling the story of Mary Gordon’s search for her father, this text also sets an example of how all humans construct stories about who they are. Continue reading “The Stories We Tell | An analysis of Mary Gordon’s “The Shadow Man: A Daughter’s Search for her Father””

Blogging, Book Reviews, Memoir, Women in the World

Read with me: Spring 2015 reading list

Two of the books on my reading list
I just barely managed to get these two books purchased in time to get my reading done for class this week. I’m planning to get the rest of my books from the library as I need them. Seriously, who can afford to actually buy books?

This semester, I am taking a graduate-level course in women’s life writing in an attempt to generate blog post ideas. I’ve found that I write more when I’m taking classes, so my plan is to just continually take classes for the rest of my life whether I need any more degrees or not. It’s lucky I recently landed a full-time civil servant position at a state university where one of the benefits is free tuition!

It’s also too bad you can’t eat tuition, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Since I’ll probably end up discussing some of the books we’re reading for class this semester, I thought I’d share my reading list with you in case you would like to read along: Continue reading “Read with me: Spring 2015 reading list”