Monthly Archives: February 2011

Reject Me Now

I got my first rejection email today! I know this shouldn’t be cause for celebration, but still, somehow, it is. Because it’s the first time I actually allowed myself to send out one of my stories for publication. Which is a very big deal.

I have this belief that I will need a certain number of rejections before I actually get something accepted. It’s not because I’m being cynical or not believing in myself. I think it has something to do with practically every author recounting their many rejection slips. Stephen King started submitting stories as a kid and he put them all on one nail on a wall and let them build, for years. A recent published author in Glimmertrain said that it had only taken her 10 years to get a story published in that literary magazine.  This makes me think that I better get on it, if it’s going to take ten years.

But what is more interesting to me right now is that the email contained a message. It said that though my story wasn’t the right fit, they “were impressed by my writing” and hope that I feel “encouraged by this short note” to send them more work.  I glided right past this on my first read of the email, shrugged it off.

What I find interesting is that a year ago, these words would have me turning cartwheels. When I first started out, a few years back, all I wanted from my writing class was one word of encouragement. I wanted someone to tell me, yes, I have what it takes. I wanted someone to say that a story was worth publishing. Just one “wow” was all I was searching for.

About three or four classes in, I got my first “wow”. But I shrugged, because by then, I wanted more. I wanted perfection, publishing, to be the best.

Last class, my professor told me a story was ready to be published. I was satisfied, as I felt I had done my job. But I wasn’t elated, like I would have been if a professor had told me this in my first year. It took me a few weeks, to remember this, and then I truly felt pride that I had accomplished one of my goals. I had worked hard, and improved. I was getting better.

I don’t think this is a bad thing, to constantly be wanting more, to want to be better. And yet, sometimes I think we get so caught up in next, that we forget how great now is. Next will come. But today, I am looking back on where I started, at how little I knew and how much I wanted. And I am celebrating the steps I’ve taken, the small moments I’ve achieved.

So a rejection letter is great. It means I’m out there, it means I’m on my way.

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Hire A Private Jet or Just Throw Yourself Out The Window

It’s a cold and rainy day. I’m holed up in my office, drafting a collateral assignment of real estate notes pertaining to well, gas stations. There are three separate projects and a billion different notes and credit agreements and deeds of trust that I’m trying to piece together in some semblance of order. Oh wait, I’m sorry, I’m boring myself here. Let’s start again.

It’s a cold, drizzling Wednesday in January. A young-ish lawyer hunches over her desk, twisting her hair in a ponytail as she stares at the mounds of paperwork that she is meant to parse down into three succinct and well-drafted paragraphs. In two hours. She looks at the three cups already littering her desk and wonders if she has time to get more coffee. She checks her email and sees this:

Hire a private Jet, Hit the Hamptons, Santa Barbara, Sundance and Palm Beach.

She looks out the window and imagines herself on a beach in Santa Barbara, a mango margarita in her hand. She looks back at her desk and slams her head down onto the keyboard, once, twice, three times. Her boss, a hulking man so pale that she can see the veins running across his forehead, walks by but doesn’t stop. She stands and backs up to the doorway, then takes a running leap towards her 11th story floor-to-ceiling window, the one that she thought was so uplifting when she first moved into her office. Out she falls, into the gray, into the air, into nothingness.

And scene.

Random right? So the other day I’m sitting in my office. And I get this email from Jetsetter, a budget travel company that I signed up with back when my husband and I were childless and we actually went places on the spur of the moment. Why I still get these emails, I don’t know, because really they are just a cruel reminder that no, I will not be dashing off to Mexico or Jackson Hole for the weekend. I usually barely notice them. But this one, yesterday, came on a particularly dreary January day, during a particularly dreary work assignment. And really? Hire a private jet? That’s a little over the top even for Jetsetter.

And then I saw the “suggestion” website at the top of my google mail. Anyone ever notice this? I assume the program “reads” your emails, and pulls certain words out and then makes suggestions for websites that you might find helpful.

But this suggestion? It was for suicide clean-up help. What the what? So I clicked on the site. It’s actually a very respectful and helpful company that comes and does the cleaning for you after a particularly tragic event, such as murder or suicide. (By the way, did you know that police do not clean up the scene? They just leave the blood and mess for the ones left behind.) So this is a quite helpful website, but one that hopefully none of us will ever need.

But what exactly in my emails led me to this site? I am wondering if my computer is trying to kill me. Has Stephen King written a story about a computer that drives its owner to suicide? Because you notice that my computer didn’t recommend a suicide hotline or anything. No, it went straight to suicide clean up. Like I don’t even have a chance. I mean, I hate my job and all, but seriously?

Oh and don’t worry, I’m not about to jump out of my office window. But I am going to keep an eye on the computer from now on…

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Stuck

O and I had a lovely weekend. Last Saturday, we watched The Wiggles, ate breakfast, took the dog on a walk, went to the toy store, got locked in his bedroom and I had to jump out of the window, went to a birthday party and ate hot dogs and cake.

Yep, you read that right. I somehow managed to lock O and I inside his bedroom on Saturday. Well, there is no “somehow” about it. Our doors are very old and so are the doorknobs. In order to get the door to shut properly, you have to yank it hard. When you do this from the outside, the door is shut tight so that O can’t push it open and the dog can’t nose his way in. When you do this from the inside, apparently, what happens is THAT YOU CAN’T GET OUT. The latch won’t catch and that door isn’t opening. No matter how hard you turn the knob, throw yourself against the door, or plead with the door gods. That door is closed.

So it’s noon. The husband is at work till at least five. I didn’t bring my phone in O’s room with me, because you know, why would you need a phone to put your kid down for a nap? It’s not like you would need to call for help or anything. We’re stuck, no way out. I pound on the door, yell, hope that my dog is actually Lassie and will either go for help, or at least understand the situation and throw his 90 lb self against the door to open it. My dog hears me, because I hear him enthusiastically thumping his tail on the floor when he hears his name, but either he doesn’t understand me or he wants to see how I will get out of this one.

Ok. So I think, What Would The Husband Do? The husband was in the army. And he always reminds me the motto is “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”. The husband wouldn’t panic and he wouldn’t stay in a stuck room. The husband would also never get stuck inside a room, but no time to think about that. We have to improvise, adapt and overcome.

Only one option. I go out the window. First, I have to wrestle with the stupid child locks on the window. This is the only moment where I truly panic, when the window will only open a few inches. But my clear head prevails and I figure out how to master the child locks. I step out on the roof, at which point O’s screaming goes to Def Com 5. It’s no longer “I don’t wanna nap” whining, it’s full on hysterics. I guess he knows if his mom is climbing out of a window, things aren’t good.

On the roof, which luckily is flat at this part, I yell for help. Nope, nobody is outside to rescue me in my damsel in distress moment. I go back and lean in the window and tell O to calm down, mom’s got it. We’re sucking it up, buddy, it’s the family mantra. He looks at me for a second, then starts screaming again.

The problem is once I jump off the roof (which by the way, does not look as easy from up on the roof as it does from below), then I can’t get back in. Because I lock all the doors in our house like we live in South Central and of course I don’t have any keys hidden. One neighbor has a spare, but what if she’s not home? O will be stuck inside the house alone. But I see no other options, so I jump.

Well, actually, I slide off the roof, scraping my stomach and arms and then dangle off the gutter, and then jump down. But I make it, I’m saving my baby! I run to the neighbors. No one home. Now I’m starting to get nervous. Is this going to be one of those situations where I end up on the news, saying “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time to jump out of the window and leave my toddler alone in the house. I had no idea he would climb out of his crib and start a fire.”

I run down the street. My other neighbor, Mark, is strolling happily like a normal person on a sunny Saturday who HASN’T locked himself and his kids into his own house. Mark looks at me like I’m crazy, but who the hell cares because Mark has a spare key from the previous owner. I grab it like he’s offering me the last beer at last call and run home. It works! I run in the house and go up to open O’s door. He stops crying immediately and gives me a grin and practically jumps into my arms. All is good, Mom has saved the day!

Then I tell him it’s nap time and the crying begins again, but this crying I can handle. I go downstairs and wonder if it’s too early for a martini. I forego the martini, mostly because I don’t know how to make one, that’s the husband’s area of expertise.

And I wonder about how calm I was. Because the door has gotten stuck before, but my husband has been home to open it. But in those seconds before he came to open the door, I would panic and think, “Oh my god, what would I actually do if this door got stuck and the husband wasn’t here and I forgot my phone?” And then I would make sure to keep my phone with me for the next few days, then forget again. But the thought of it would send me into a tailspin. When I wake up at 4 am, these are the things I worry about: How I would get O out of a locked room? If a serial killer/rapist broke into our house, what are my escape routes and how would I get out? If there was a fire, what things do I need to grab immediately? If I went into labor in the car, how would we deliver the baby if we somehow couldn’t make it the five miles to the hospital? If my husband thinks he is going to leave me for another woman, how will I hide the body? I go over and over my plans of action in my mind. But I pretty much assume I will panic and not remember any of these detailed plans.

But in the moment where the thing I was worried about actually happened, I surprised myself. I was calm, I was logical, I did what needed to be done. It was only afterwards that I panicked with what might have been. I thought I was the kind of person that would be emotional and flighty, and I found out I’m actually kind of bad ass. If I was on Lost, I thought I would be Claire, crazy and crying in the jungle. But turns out, I am more Kate-like and can probably totally track wild boars and shoot a gun perfectly and look amazing in clothes I’ve been wearing for 180 days straight.

Even the husband was proud of me and gave me the highest praise- he said I did exactly what he would have done. He then proceeded to show me how to jump and land if next time I had to do it with O in my arms. You know, like he learned when he jumped out of airplanes.

Now I have something new to worry about at 4 am.

 

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