Filed under: Life

Hello, November

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 • No Comments on Hello, November

The babies are asleep (as is the husband), Lucas has celebrated his first Halloween, Patrick has gone trick-or-treating for the first time, I’m still up doing some work and uploading Halloween pictures to Facebook, October is being washed away by the rainstorm outside and November is mere minutes away.

It’s been a busy year so far, but it’s about to pick up speed for the next two months. What does November hold?  Lucas’s two month birthday, Sheri’s annual Thanksgiving visit, National Novel Writing Month (I’m in… I think), Patrick’s 2 year birthday party (his birthday is December 4, but I think we’ll celebrate while Sheri is still here) and lots of writing and editing and coffee and autumn fun. I’m also in for a lot of medical tests for a blood pressure issue that have been plaguing me since Lucas’s birth. Fun. I’m going for a lot of blood work in the morning—fasting blood work, which means no Halloween candy for breakfast. Not that I’d eat candy for breakfast. Or let my child eat candy for breakfast. No…

I haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo in six years (I think) and I don’t even know what’s possessing me to think about doing it this year. But… maybe. We’ll see. I’ve started strong a couple of years and quit at mid-month, so I imagine that might happen again this time. There is something exciting about the challenge, though. The thrill of contemplating writing an entire novel in a month. The push to get those word counts up from day to day. It’s fun, in it’s own way. It’s also madness, but I’m already crazy.

I have been tossing around a couple of ideas for the book I will work on and hopefully finish. NaNoWriMo requires a fast-paced plot that can hold my interest for 30 solid days. I think I know what I’m going to write. I’ll sleep on it and see where I end up tomorrow. The plan is to write as much as I can as many days as I can and try to squeak out the 50,000 words. One year, I hit the word count around 3 weeks into the month. I sincerely doubt I’ll be able to do that this year. Because in addition to two babies, I also have other writing and editing to keep me busy.

I’m holiday shopping already, in hopes of finishing early this year. In truth, I’ve been buying gifts since about June, but I have a long way to go. Christmas and Hanukkah will be here before I can blink, so online shopping is going to be my best friend this year. I’m so looking forward to the holidays and I’m hoping I have time to do the baking I want to do. But I know the days ahead are going to be exhausting and hectic and I want to remember to slow down and savor the moments. Which means minimizing stress and letting go of anything that doesn’t make me happy. (Which might be my NaNoWriMo book…)

I’m ready for 2012, ready for Lucas to be sleeping through the night so I can get some more rest (relatively speaking), ready for some new goals, memories and adventures—including a trip to the UK. I’m ready! But I’m also excited about the next two months and all it holds.

Goodbye, October! Hello, November!


Posted by Kristina in Life

The Week in Retrospect

Sunday, October 9th, 2011 • 3 Comments on The Week in Retrospect

I know it’s been quiet around here. I feel like my blog has become obsolete as I share the pertinent information on Facebook and rarely have time to write thoughtfully on anything other than my Oh Get A Grip! themes. (And sometimes I don’t do a very good job there, either.) So the stretches get longer and longer between blog posts here and the list of things I want to write about continues to grow…

It’s autumn, which always feels like a new beginning. The school girl in me lingers… the urge to buy school supplies is often overpowering. What’s a new beginning without a new notebook, right?  And with new beginnings, I feel like it’s time for change. Yeah, I know, I just had a baby and what a change that’s been. We’re adjusting, the four of us. For Patrick, it’s a matter of learning to share his parents (primarily dad) and get used to a new little being in the house.  For Jay, it’s about learning this new son in a way he never got to learn about Patrick when he returned to Dubai. For me, it’s about trying to find the new balance between family life, work life, social life and still cram in some solitary time for myself. It is an impossible balance right now, but it will come.

It’s been a surreal kind of week from start to finish. I feel like I’m in a bit of a fog lately, between postpartum recovery and lack of sleep. So it’s mind boggling how much was going on this week while I kept hearing the same refrain, “Get some rest!”

My in-laws were in town for a few days, which was good because they hadn’t yet met almost 2 year old Patrick, but was also a little stressful as it felt like we’d just gotten into a new routine when they showed up. I don’t have any family to speak of, so it’s good for the boys (well, mostly Patrick right now) to meet their grandparents and know their extended family. But it’s not likely we’re going to get to Tennessee anytime soon, so this visit was a long time coming. Of course, for an introvert/loner like myself, being in the house with three other adults and two little kids felt kind of claustrophobic. You have to remember I’m used to going six month stretches being the only person in the house when Jay was away on deployments. Just the four of us feels like a full house now—and the kids are little. Add a couple of house guests and I’m overwhelmed. The days of being alone in the house are over and, on one hand, that’s a good thing—I have a family! On the other hand, I do miss the solitude and peace sometimes.

The day after my in-laws left, the incomparable Tristan Taormino was in town to speak at my alma mater, Old Dominion University. For whatever reason, ODU didn’t provide anyone to pick her up from the airport, so I volunteered to play driver/assistant while she was here. It was lovely to finally meet her (Tristan has bought several stories from me since 2002) and see sex education done right.  It was a bit odd how her event was promoted—or not promoted. The information on the ODU website was little more than “Pucker Up” (Tristan’s website) and a phone number to call for more information—in an entirely different building than where she was actually speaking. I surmised this cloak and dagger approach was to avoid controversy and protest. Which is… ridiculous. Her presentation, despite her straightforward language, was hardly controversial. I was afraid the lack of university promotion would make for a poor turnout, but the space was packed with well over 200 students who were wildly excited to see Tristan in person.

Friday, we celebrated our twenty-first wedding anniversary, which involved an hour drive to Williamsburg to have lunch at our favorite restaurant, the Blue Talon Bistro. In previous years, it’s been a leisurely lunch in the middle of a peaceful day of walking and shopping. With two children under two, we barely had time to eat and there was hardly any conversation as we took turns walking a wailing Lucas outside to spare the other diners the noise. Oh well, at least we can say we went, even if all we did was drive up, eat in a rush and drive back. If nothing else, the weather was beautiful!  It will get easier… I keep telling myself that about so many things these days. It will get easier.

The rest of the week included yet another postpartum doctor’s appointment. I’ve been having issues with high blood pressure (not to mention the allergic reaction I had to the Percocet), but things seem to be improving on all fronts. I’m almost out of the postpartum period, with one more doctor’s appointment next week. Now, if only the hormones would level out and stop ricocheting around like pinballs. Whew. What a ride!

On the writing/editing front, Steamlust: Steampunk Erotic Romance is officially out and the numbers on Amazon are encouraging. I hope so much that this book does well. I pitched steampunk to Cleis twice in an almost one-year period—it wasn’t an easy sell. But I think the genre is really hot right now (like fairy tales!) and I hope the book finds an audience. If you haven’t seen the book trailer Nikki Magennis did for Steamlust, do check it out. It’s beautiful!

I also got the final word on Lustfully Ever After: Fairy Tale Erotic Romance this week and will be announcing the table of contents very soon. It’s going to be such a fun collection of fairy tale erotic romance! Copyedits are due in a couple of weeks, so I need to get on that asap. Thankfully, the accompanying note said the book was well edited (by me!) and had only minor corrections and questions. It really does pay to put in the time on the front end, even when it feels like I have no time.

Now that Steamlust is officially out I’ll be thinking about my December anthology. New York Times bestselling author Shayla Black gave me her foreword for Best Erotic Romance this week—yay! This first edition of what will hopefully be an annual collection is filled with some wonderful stories. I’m very proud of the books I’ve done for Cleis Press this year. I haven’t written nearly as much as I would have liked, but I’ve put my heart into the books I’ve edited.

I have commented more than once in the past week that the universe works in mysterious ways as I’ve noticed connections (and disconnections) in the world around me. It’s been a week of ups and downs and side to sides and two steps forward and one step back. This week I’ve had conversations about life, love, sex, lust, relationships, publishing, writing, academia, the military, motherhood, children, plastic surgery, success, failure, money, family, hopes and regrets. I’ve gotten phone calls and text messages out of the blue that have reminded me I may feel like I’m struggling, but I don’t have to struggle alone. There have been surprise baby packages in the mail and moments of unbidden tears. I’ve laughed with my toddler and comforted my newborn. I’ve felt more like myself than I have in months—and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if the tunnel feels like it’s miles long.

I’ve contemplated change a lot this week, breaking out of my writing comfort zone, going back to school, trying something new like a Pilates class or guitar lessons, taking a big trip to the UK in 2012, planning readings closer to home, letting go of the obligations that weigh me down and carrying only those that inspire and fulfill me.

I’ve also thought a lot about what I want to accomplish in the next five years, ten years, twenty years. The death of Steve Jobs at 56 is a reminder that I don’t have time to rest or be lazy. As tired as I am, as overwhelmed as I feel, there is still so much to do in this life—and there are no guarantees. I’m 44 and some days I feel 25 and somedays I feel 60. I hope to make it to 56 and beyond. But who knows? I see the missed opportunities and I want to kick myself for not pushing harder and doing more. I see the unlimited possibilities and even though I’m so eager to go for them I paralyze myself with questions and doubts. I need goals—and that’s a hard thing for me, because making a list of goals feels like limiting myself. I don’t do well with limitations. Or rules. Or being told no. But I need to focus on the things that are important to me—me!—and let go of the idea that I have to impress or please anyone else. You’d think I would have learned that lesson by now—and I have, I swear I have—but sometimes I need to remind myself.

What a week. What a month. What a year. 2012 isn’t so far away, but there’s still a chunk of 2011 left and I intend to make the best of it. You do the same, okay?

Posted by Kristina in Life

19 Days

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 • 1 Comment on 19 Days

I had a baby 19 days ago. My second baby. What’s my life like right now?  Crazy. Chaotic. Exhausting. Wonderful. Scary. Painful. Joyful. Overwhelming. I’m riding the postpartum rollercoaster—sometimes I’m so high on life I think I can accomplish anything—and I try to do just that.  Then I overdo it by pushing myself too hard and hit rock bottom, quite certain my life will never be peaceful or mine again. In the course of 24 hours, I can go from bouncing off the walls with energy to sobbing in the shower in utter defeat. Oh, hormones. Oh, life.

I’m officially back to work. I say officially because even though I was never really not working, yesterday I had to stop pretending I could choose to take time off when in the span of a couple of hours I had several emails, a phone call and various immediate tasks to complete related to three different books. I was up working until 1 AM—this is not something I would necessarily choose to do at 19 days postpartum, but it had to be done. Right now, I have to beg, borrow and steal time whenever I can. And I’m grateful for the work and thrilled with the books I have coming out—Steamlust releases next month, Best Erotic Romance in December.  Writing (and editing) sustains me through the frustration of toddler tantrums and newborn sleep cycles right now. Though I could probably use some sleep myself.

After Patrick was born and I felt overwhelmed with the task of taking care of a newborn (I had no previous experience with babies and no help), a wise writer friend told me to slow down and stop expecting so much from myself. She wrote me a lovely email of support and understanding and it meant the world to me, maybe because we weren’t much more than acquaintances and she’d taken the time to reach out to me.  In any case, I saved that email, not knowing that I’d soon have a second child and need her advice again.  Part of what she said to me:

…try to do one thing every day, however small, that can’t be undone by another load of laundry, etc. Just some tiny thing to make you feel as though you’ve actually accomplished something OTHER than being Patrick’s mama. Something for YOU. Even if it’s only reading ten pages of a book or a magazine article, whatever. And remind yourself that every day is one day closer to that seemingly elusive routine, one day closer to his sleeping through the night…

Truth be told, there are days when doing one thing is simply too much. I’m exhausted because, even with Jay being home and having so much more support this time than I did when Patrick was born, I have two children now and I’m older than I was then and I’m still recovering from surgery (which has been harder and more complicated this time).  On the other hand, I’ve had some amazing stretches of sleep (4 hours = amazing in Kristinaland) that I haven’t had in at least six months , thanks to Jay’s stoic ability to juggle a tired toddler and a crying newborn. We also have a terrific babysitter who has been great about schedule adjustments. One day last week, I was in bed from 8:30 PM until nearly 4 PM the next day. Granted, I wasn’t sleeping the entire time or even half of it—but oh the joy of being able to stay in bed, cuddle a newborn, tickle a toddler and not have to do anything else. It was much needed rest therapy. If only I could get a couple of days a week like that. But then, my mild case of Type A personality already rears its head when I have a perfectly good excuse to do nothing, so I don’t know if I could spend that much time laying about even if I am fantasizing about it.

It took me weeks to feel like I accomplished anything after Patrick was born, but this time I’ve already had days when I not only accomplished one thing—I’ve sometimes accomplishedtwo and three things, too!  I’ve written some, I’ve blogged some, I’ve worked on editing and promo for upcoming books and I’ve even managed (so far) to keep up with my blogging commitment at Oh Get a Grip! (though I wonder about the quality of my writing). It was nearly three months before I was able to get out of the house without Patrick to work in my usual fashion, now I’ve already spent a few hours here and there working at Starbucks (both with and without Lucas), feeling the pull of the familiar routine before I need to go home. I didn’t get out to see a movie for over three months the first time around, but I’ve already gone to a movie (I Don’t Know How She Does It—timely escapism), which was followed by lovely wine, good conversation and live music.

I’m dealing with the baby blues, recovering from surgery (“major abdominal surgery,” I’m often reminded), coping with a nasty allergic reaction to the pain meds they sent me home with (which manifested itself as a miserable itchy rash that has driven me around the bend), postpartum high blood pressure and occasional blinding headaches, and the aforementioned exhaustion of having a precocious 21 month old toddler who is also going through an adjustment phase and a beautiful newborn who hasn’t yet figured out the difference between day and night.  I’ve taken care of both babies all by myself for several hours, with both of them awake most of that time. That doesn’t sound like much, but right now it’s a big accomplishment.

I’ve run errands (I drove Saturday night for the first time in two weeks), I’ve eaten out with my family (no small task with two under two and me unable to pick up anything heavier than the newborn),I’ve ordered birth announcements and gone food shopping. I’ve watched some television (season premieres of Two and a Half Men and Castle last night), thumbed through a few catalogs and thought about holiday shopping and read a few chapters of Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. Before Patrick, I read all the how-to baby books, this time I’ve gone a different direction. Though I still intend to reread both Baby Whisperer books—for baby and toddler.

I’ve thought about Patrick’s second birthday and contemplated travel plans (book promo + vacation) for next year.  I’ve thought about sex, because even if the body can’t, the mind still wants what it wants. I’ve thought about exercising, moving my body in ways it hasn’t moved in a year—or three.  I’ve thought about what I’m going to write when I have more than an hour to myself when I’m truly alert and lucid and able to be creative. I’ve thought about stories I need to send out and stories I need to write.  I’ve thought about the nonfiction book proposal I’m supposed to pitch soon, soon, soon. I’ve made a few phone calls and sent probably a thousand text messages, because texting is easier when babies are crying or eating or sleeping. Texting is soothing. Click, tap, words.

I’ve reached out to friends, not because I need help (which I probably do) but because I just need a smile or a reminder that I’m still me and there is still a great big world outside my door.  I’ve nested and cocooned and hibernated. I’ve enjoyed a rainy Sunday with my exhausted family, I’ve reveled in the autumn-like drop in temperature. I’ve drank caffeine—coffee is a blessing right now—and made the most of the burst of energy that followed. I’ve eaten spicy food and not needed to pop a Tums afterward. I’ve gone hours without having to go to the bathroom. I’ve slept on my stomach and on my back. I’ve written thank you cards and mailed them. I’ve thrown away dying flowers and folded laundry. I’ve made tentative plans—for lunch, coffee, dinner, a movie, a chat, some girl time. I’ve gone to doctors appointments and taken Lucas to doctor’s appointments. I’ve made play dates for Patrick, I’ve had people over for dinner and enjoyed the semi-chaotic fun of having five adults, two toddlers and a newborn crowded in my eat-in kitchen. I’ve bought wine that sits chilling in my refrigerator for those evenings when only a glass of wine will do. (Which is most nights, right?) I have taken pictures of beautiful children at play and at rest. I have studied my wrinkles, stretch marks and scars in the mirror and been both depressed and impressed. It’s amazing what the body can do—and the marks time and trauma will leave behind.

I’ve thought a lot about the past and even more about the future. I’ve reveled in the now. I’ve forgiven myself for doing nothing, I’m patted myself on the back for accomplishing more than I expected—or others expected. I’ve been told I rock, I’m amazing, I’m crazy. I’ve been told I need to slow down, write a book, tell others how I do it. I’ve been supported in ways I didn’t even know I needed support and I’ve detected a note of horror in the “Better you than me!” comments I’ve heard about having two children so close together (and at my age). I’ve wondered what the hell I’m doing and I’ve embraced the wisdom in the saying, “Everything happens for a reason.”  I have lots of plans and no regrets. I’ve had more good days than bad.

That’s my life in the past 19 days. Not much different than usual, really. Just me, finding my balance.

Posted by Kristina in Life

I'm a writer, editor, blogger, mama, wife and coffee lover.