Friday, January 30, 2009

One week

Only one week stands between me and something I've been looking forward to and dreading at the same time.

I belong to a writer's group called "Southland Scribes" in Orland Park and since my book is mostly finished, my group-mates encouraged me to sign up for this year's Love Is Murder Conference in Chicago. It's a meeting for mystery/thriller writers.

They have a pitch session, which is the primary reason I'm going. I go in and pitch my book to as many editors and publishers as I want. I have three minutes with each company or editor and I have to give them a brief synopsis of the book and how I plan to market it. It has to be memorized. Now that I only have a week left, I'm very frightened. I have great confidence in my ability as a writer, but after laboring over the same story with the same characters and plot for the last four and a half years, my confidence in the book is fading.

I want a change, I want to write something new. But I'll never be able to do it peacefully until I know the book is finished and waiting for publication. I have a brief outline of what I'll say to these publishers and editors, but I'm not definite about it yet and my stomach clenches every time I think about it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Requiem for a Fighter

No, my car "Little Red" hasn't died, but after tomorrow, she won't really be mine anymore. Just so you know, it's sort of tradition in my family to personify our possessions. I have an iPod called Duke and my laptop's name is Blinky.

Anyway, Nathan and I have been talking for sometime now about getting me a new car because Little Red has been falling apart at a much faster rate than usual. My uncles have been looking for something to do with my grandmother's car which, apart from being four years newer than Little Red, has been kept in a garage and is in generally much better condition.

So, we're buying Grandma's car and Little Red is going up for sale. I'd like to say a few words about her, if I may. She was in pretty rough condition when I got her from another family member, the summer before my senior year of college. She hadn't been driven in a year and needed a new catalytic converter. Within a year she also needed an entirely new brake line. Her speedometer doesn't work reliably, so I have absolutely no idea how many miles are actually on her and the gas gauge doesn't work either. I've had to replace a power steering belt, have a new defrost fan put in and a new starter on top of other things. Yeah, I've complained about her and we've had our spats.

Despite all this, I'm still grateful for her because almost without fail, she roars to life every morning, if she's covered in snow and has been sitting for a weekend, or if she has been run off her feet. My whole life I have really loved only three vehicles, my parents' old Ford Contour, which we called "Stumpy." Stumpy was even more freakishly reliable than Little Red. I also loved a 1969 Chevelle owned by my good friend Travis, and Little Red.

I will miss my old friend. But I hope, even though she's 13 years old, she will give someone else at least a year or two of faithful service.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notable firsts

We've been having some new experiences lately...

I learned how to knit in the round and made my very first baby hat. This is the best view there is of it, it actually looks pretty awful. But, it's a start.

We got a griddle for Christmas and used it for the first time this past weekend. Nathan made me a feast of eggs, bacon, and pancakes. Neither one of us had used a griddle before and all things considered, the food turned out very well.

I used our broiler for the first time in the nearly three years we've been living here. (I use the word "we" loosely. Nathan lived here about six months before I moved in.) I also picked out a recipe from Nathan's Tabasco Cookbook for the first time for dinner this evening. We shall see...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The depression...I have it

Today, Nathan and I went to our first meeting about adoption. It was nerve-wracking, it was exciting, it was...depressing. We went to the Archdiocese of Chicago's offices to meet with Catholic Charities. We were one of a group of couple and we appeared to be some of the youngest in the room.

Right away, the focus seemed more on international adoption, which we are not considering at this moment. Call me crazy, but I want an infant, which appears to be a problem in its own right, but I'll get to that later. There was a lot of talk about international adoption and there seemed to be more information about it in our little packets.

As far as domestic adoptions, the material was not presented in the best light. Our presenter made it sound depressing and problematic. She said they only placed 10 babies last year and the whole process averages 2 years. TWO YEARS!! Two years from now I'll be almost 27. I realize that isn't old, but I always thought I'd have kids by that age.

But the worst part, the part that made me tear up on the way home was that after the arragements are made and the baby is born, even with the birth father known and consenting, the baby goes into a temporary care home. That is enough to make me not want to do agency adoption, full stop. What the hell kind of arrangement is that?

I want my baby home with me after it is born. I want to spend the first days of my baby's life getting to know her and playing with her tiny little fingers and waking up with her at two o'clock in the morning to give her a bottle. I don't want someone else doing that. What kind of mother would that make me?

If the birth father is known, this time period can be very brief, only a week or two. If the birth father is not known, this is the time period in which you have to exhaust all possible measures to find him. That takes a month. ONE MONTH!!!! The first month of my baby's life spent in someone else's home? I don't freaking think so!

Anyway, we got home and, since we are looking at moving into the Joliet Diocese very soon after all, I looked up their web site and the process by which they place babies. And they require that adoptive parents be married three years and have exhausted all infertility treatments possible.

To the best of my knowledge, Nathan and I do not have this problem. We do have other problems, however and hopefully these will work well enough. My biggest issue with the Joliet Diocese's requirements is the three year one.

For my whole life, even the parts of it that I didn't want to get married, I wanted to have children. I have no delusions that raising children will be easy or constantly fun, but it is something I feel in my soul that I am called to do. When Nathan and I got married he said he wanted at least two years of being married before we had children. This wasn't quite what I hoped, but I am so grateful that we had these two years to get to know each other as people and as husband and wife. We have talked about what we want for ourselves and for our children and what we think parenting will be like.

It took me nearly a year to get over the fact that I should not have my own children. But I am over it, I am ready to have a child through adoption. But I am so unbelievably sick of waiting around to being this process that I don't know how much more I can take. I waited the two years Nathan asked me to, I waited while I thought his work circumstances might change, I waited until now to go meet with Catholic Charities.

We will be married two years and six months by the time we are ready to begin the process in Joliet. Is it really necessary to wait the further six months?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"New" bathroom

The new tile in our bathroom is done. I finally get to take a real shower, as opposed to kneeling by the tub washing my hair. I only wish they had redone the entire bathroom.
It would be nice to be rid of the medium pink bathroom fixtures and black wallpaper with light pink and green flowers, neither of which you can see in these pictures. Oh, fortunate you...

I am, however, really happy we have a new shelf, which isn't a piece of moldy rubber hanging onto the window.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Animal Rescue--Nathan Style

While we were bouncing between Shabbona and Pecatonica Saturday, our landlord and a plumber were redoing the tile in our bathroom. The old tile had come away from the wall and water was dripping behind it to the apartment below us.

Nathan and I drove separately and I got home first. Upon arriving, I found the work wasn't done, with just boards up and a hole around the knob for water. I also found one cat, Hyperion. Hecate was nowhere in sight. If you remember from an earlier post, this is a habit of hers. So, before I panicked, I looked all over the apartment. Literally, all over. I could not find her anywhere. Then, I started panicking.

I went downstairs and knocked on our neighbor's door and she said she hadn't seen a little black kitten, but she would let us know if she did. Nathan got home and called the landlord, who said the cats had been in the apartment the whole time. Then, the downstairs neighbor knocked on the door and told me she never was able to hear the cats, but she could hear one coming from just above her bathroom.

I went into our bathroom and bent down in front of the water knob and called for her. I heard a very small "mew." Hecate had been boarded up in the wall. We called the landlord and he came right over and unscrewed the bottom board. Hecate was sitting on a ledge about three feet below the level of the bathtub.

It took about two hours to lure her with food to a place just underneath the tub where Nathan could reach his hand in and pull her out. We immediately took her out of the bathroom and closed the door, giving her the food we had used to lure her. She ate pretty heartily, then went to use the litter box right away.

Hecate's hiding space was on a ledge just to the left and underneath the white snaking pipe. She was there for quite a while, then she found a ledge and ended up underneath the bathtub.

When a week kicks your butt...

Last Tuesday, my grandmother, Mary Patricia Eaton passed away. The first full week I was supposed to have at work in three weeks turned into a three-day work-week. (I didn't want to sit around feeling sad Wednesday, so I went in to work.) And for as hard as the ensuing four day weekend was, I learned to be grateful for quite a few things.

1. I had nearly 25 years with my Grandma, most of them filled with love and happy memories.
2. My brother, though we haven't always gotten along, will drive from Virginia to Illinois to share the hard times.
3. There is no support system like a large family. This includes everyone: uncles, aunts, cousins, their kids, mom, dad, siblings, and in-laws.
4. Wakes are strange affairs, blending the tragic and the happy, when you see people you haven't seen in years and people don't mind crying and laughing within the span of the same hug.
5. Older cousins are important
6. When someone lives their whole life in one town, it means they have lots of really good friends
7. There is a Fail Blog to cheer us up when we are sad
8. God will provide a guilt free way to get new glasses (my sisters' dogs in a destructive mood).
9. At 8 p.m., our landlord will cut a hole in the wall to rescue a tiny feline (see next post).
10. But most importantly, my grandparents are together again.

Mary Patricia Tarbert Eaton---June 17, 1932--January 6, 2009