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Thursday, September 25, 2008

You want a piece of me?

I found them today. They have been neatly stacked just three feet from my keyboard for months. They were on top of my book proposal and it was time for them to go. I scattered them on the floor, put on some of my favorite dancing shoes, and jumped on them while music played loudly until I felt that their negativity was completely gone. The hold they had over me has been replaced with the joy that I get from dancing around my office. So there!

Why was I saving all of those initial rejection letters from literary agents? What was I saving them for exactly? To make myself feel rejected? Was I going to frame them? Where they supposed to motivate me to work harder? Because they certainly haven't motivated me at all. They sucked the wind out of my enthusiasm for writing. They drained my drive. They fizzled my fire. Just because those 20 people didn't want my book project does not mean that I'm not going to succeed. It just means that those particular agents were not for me.

Being rejected is just part of the game. Those letters weren't the first rejection in my life (that started in junior high school), and they won't be the last. They were just part of the process. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Not sure what I'll do with them once I pick them up. I might file them away so that when my book is published and I'm hugely successful, I can go back and read them and laugh about how crappy they made me feel. But I'm already feeling better now they have been stepped on. I've taken back my enthusiasm. I've taken back my drive. Sometimes it's hard to remember that I am in control of my destiny. Not some agent. Not some rejection letter. Not a stack of dirty laundry. Not a sink full of dishes. Whether or not I success is up to me. No one else can do that for me. And I'm not ready to give up.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's good to be wanted

I have not done anything concrete that can be added to my resume since I was working as the official mom blogger for Oprah two-and-a-half years ago. I'm not saying that I haven't been working. To the contrary. But parenting two kids and writing a 24,000-word, 56-page book proposal isn't something resume-worthy--at least to my knowledge.

So since I have no actual job and nothing of note to keep that resume-thingy fresh, I've decided to start volunteering for the Taproot Foundation. A couple of weeks ago, I went to an orientation to find out more about how Taproot works and how I can contribute. During the two-hour meeting, I definitely felt a little out of place. Most of the people in that room were consultants and project managers and accountants and web designers. Then there was me--the writer. Just when I felt like slinking out of the room with my typing skills tucked between my legs, the orientation leader said something that made me want to show off my calloused finger tips. He said that for every two people in that meeting, there were two other people who wanted to be a part of Taproot. They were turned down because they didn't have the right skills. So they actually wanted me to be there. It wasn't just a one-sided desire on my part to be a do-gooder.

Being a good writer is a skill. Not everyone can do it, even if anyone who wants a platform can have one on the Internet. Sometimes it's just hard to remember that even though I'm not currently getting paid for my skills, they still exist. And they are worthy. Someday soon I hope to figure out how to merge one with the other.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Profound Love Found: Do you like me?

The following note is from a box of love notes recently found in my mother's attic from junior and senior high school. Sadly, they are not dated. I'll be posting them here from time to time as I stroll down memory lane. I will include all typos and grammatical errors.

Hi How's life? Fine here. Do you still like Joe? Did you tell him that you don't like him? Do you like me? Will you go out with me? I like you. Do you like anyone else? If you still like Joe you can go out with him again. I used to like Kelly but she likes Angelo L.

Gotta Go

Your (Boy)friend,

p.s. w/b/s
p.s.s tell me all answers in Spanish

Which is true?
Suzanne -n- Joe
TLF Suzanne -n- Angelo

Love: 1
Heartbreak: 1

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The tears finally came

The first week of kindergarten came to an end and my tears finally flowed. And it wasn't in any way I could have anticipated. It has nothing to do with R growing up. It has nothing to do with letting my first born out of my sight. It has nothing to do with an inability to let go.

We were enjoying the summer concert series in our local park. The weather was perfect. The park was packed, and the area in front of the stage was filled with kids dancing around, jumping, and riding their bikes. Two girls came up to R while we swayed to the music. His face lit up as soon as he recognized them from school. He was making friends and was so proud to tell me that they were in his class.

The blonde girl with curls leaned over and touched R's shoulder and said playfully, "chase me Riley." With that command, she and the other schoolmate ran off as fast as two healthy five year olds run. R smiled a goofy smile and started out after them. Only his body wouldn't cooperate. He trotted awkwardly. He wanted desperately to run after them. To chase them. To catch them and continue the game. His face was full of frustration and there was nothing I could do to help him make his body move faster. To be more agile. To be more energetic. To be more normal. To be healthy.

That is when the tears came. They stung my cheeks. They stung my heart.

I desperately wanted to scoop him up and tell him everything was going to be okay. But all I could do was watch him struggle and curse the rotten heart he was born with. I ached in a helpless way I haven't felt since he was in the hospital and consumed with pain after one of his surgeries. Only at the park, there was no fentenol or morphine to remedy the situation. After a minute of trying to catch them, he stopped with exhaustion and sat down on the pavement. That is when I went to him. With exasperation in his voice, he said: "I just can't go anymore."

His words reminded me of how I have felt many times during this journey. There have been many times when I felt I couldn't go anymore. But somehow, I just kept going. I kept finding a way to get out of bed. I kept finding a way to drive myself to and from the hospital. And I continue to find ways to get past all the what-ifs and I try to not think too much about what is to come. I just keep going. As we sat on the ground, I hugged him. And then I said that when he was ready, he could get up and try again--if he wanted to.

On second thought, maybe my tears at the park were about R growing up and my inability to let go. I'm so afraid of the struggles he will face. The physical challenges. The teasing. His frustrations. I can't help but worry about how the world will treat him. But while I'm affected by all the experiences he will have as a result of his health problems, this is his journey. And being different and slower and more tired is a reality for him. I cannot protect him. I cannot shelter him. Nor can I filter the feelings that go along with all of that.

School starts a new phase for him academically and physically. It is certainly something I had anticipated. But it was only all in theory, sort of the way you imagine what it will be like having a newborn. But until you're in it, you don't really know. And like having a newborn, it's going to be harder than I imagined.