Defying gravity

My husband made an observation about me the other day…I was a little surprised that he hadn’t either noticed or noted it before, I suppose. He observed that I thrive with my back to the wall – which is to say: I love proving people wrong, I procrastinate and produce (things that sometimes amaze me) under the gun, and when I only have myself as a critic, I start to unravel.

It’s probably good then, that he was doubting whether I’d be able to get this particular agent person to take me on – (note: he has clarified and said he was referring to this based on a short story that I had written, that he thought it would be a bad idea to send it to this agent, I guess he feels it was not one of my better moments in writing....) I shall refer to this particular agent person as just that, or maybe, “this P.A.P.,” at least until I have unleashed myself and my mountain of wordiness onto the poor soul. I had been secretly worrying about it all, but once the Husband voiced his concern, I could feel the tiny little fire – even if now I find that it was a focused concern, on one particular thing (this was the story I sent off to this Glimmertrain submission process – I don’t have extremely high hopes for it. My short stories sometimes don’t seem to do what I want them to – I guess that’s why I tend to focus more on longer fiction – more narrative to engulf myself in. I’ll post it after I find out whether it was rejected, I guess…!)

This is the wee flame that propelled me from community college into UNC, as a junior transfer. I’d originally applied as a sophomore, and they called to say, jeez, you have too many credits for that, and not enough for junior…I don’t know what came over me, but I pounced. Maybe it was the thought of being in Jordan-land. Or the look I’d had at the campus, with its old, old atmosphere. I just rounded the corner, contacted a few people (thanks again to my high school AP English teacher!), and fought my way in. I had to do that a bit at UNC, probably because it’s a 50k student population, instead of a tiny liberal arts school…but yes, I managed to get my degree, even after being told I was two courses shy of graduating, mere months before I was due to hit OCS for the USMC. Again, under the gun, right, yessirree.

Sometimes, it hasn’t panned out 100%, but by and large, I find that I can really gear myself up when a deadline is looming. I recently found a paper I wrote for an astronomy class, under the same pressure. Somehow I had absorbed all this data about theoretics, quantum mechanics, and wrote about wormholes in a way that was clear I knew what the hell I was saying when I wrote it. Rereading it, however, holy cow…I could barely make sense of it.

Not just academics, either. After our first child was born, and shipped to a NICU out of state, I fought with everyone over the bill we were sent by a private doctor who saw him during that time. In the end, the doctor decided to write it off, and the whole thing was resolved peacefully.

In the past few years, my skills have slipped, though. I guess life got a little stressful, and I bundled myself up in the shell of protecting myself and our kids from the big bad world. It sounds ridiculous, unless you’ve been down our road. When you have a child with a major disability, you tend to be either really reactionary, or else, like me, becoming like a tank, heavily armored, and ignoring everything.

This past year has dumped me on my head here and there…and I was really starting to be stressed out and unhappy over everything…but, of course, bottling it up until my guts hurt. And then, I started talking to whatever it is out there that might be watching over us…I don’t know what to call it right now, obviously that is a whole different story (I grew up a “PK” – a priest’s kid)…but I was asking for a signpost, basically something to tell me in which direction to head. If it’s to be writing, that’s where I would love to go, but I don’t want to be selfish and do it if it’s not the right thing for me to do. And, when and where I least expected it – that was when my dad jumped out of his seat the next time I saw him, and he dug out a business card from his date book, and handed it to me, with this particular agent person’s name on it. If that’s not a signpost, I don’t know what is. Anyone could have given me a name, but this came from my dad, and it’s someone he has known for a long time. And this person’s family are a truly amazing bunch. I could hardly ask for a clearer roadmap, I guess.

So that lit the first fire of “gotta do” under me, and thankfully, my husband and his tiny expression of doubt have pushed me quite a bit further down the line. Where to now…?

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