"What we do in this life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus, Gladiator
"Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Unplugged

I've been missing for so long that I don't know where to start updating all our adventures. P, a dear friend, has graciously lent me her internet card, and I'm just signing in to say we're all alive and well, in sunny, hot, scorching Corpus Christi Texas.
My book is at about 30,000 words right now. I had expected to be finished with my first manuscript by now because I don't have the distraction of a big house, laundry, and dogs. But I still have the four kids, which is good, and keeping them entertained in 100+ weather outside is pretty impossible. We've been to the pool everyday, and to the beach which is only about 15 minutes from our apartment, but I'm burned, in every sense of the word. So today I think we'll visit the USS Lexington and then we'll go to the pool but in the evening.
The kids are so happy to be with Jeff again, and so am I for that matter.
I really need to find a solution to this lack of internet. If it weren't for my beloved iphone, I don't know what I'd do. Today it didn't have service for a very frightening hour, and I can't believe how happy I was when the little bars were showing in the screen again.
Let's see if I have found some kind of internet access this next week. Can you believe none of the neighbors has an insecure connection! i know, I'm shocked too!

Friday, June 12, 2009

After the calm, the storm

Five days of seeing the children only in the mornings and the evenings did sound like a wonderful idea last week. In fact, every day, I was ready to run out of the house to go to BYU's Writers' Workshop (I know it has a proper, official name, but it's just too long) because by the time I had to leave, the kids had drained me of energy and patience. All before noon. I left eagerly too because I knew our wonderful A. loves them, and plays with them more than I do, and that she'd take excellent care of them.
I had a wonderful time at the workshop, learning about the craft and the business of writing, meeting authors, editors and agents who are, after all, people like me. I couldn't stop taking notes, and trying to take in as much as I could, so that when I got home I could put everything in practice. Usually, my nights never went as I had planned them.
One night, Coco (the dog) was sick, and I had to rush him to the pet ER. Expensive little trip. I came back home just after midnight, and there was no time to write.
Another night the babies weren't tired. They had missed me so much! And they wanted to play, and usually that means being very obnoxious and mischievous. When someone hits you in the head with a wooden car and then bursts out in laughter, believe me, it's not funny. So by the time they finally fell asleep, my mood was not one for writing. I did anyway, but let's just say that the only outcome of that was some very sore wrists for typing so fast. The writing wasn't that great.
And then tonight, I decided to go to the grocery store to get hot dog buns. I knew it was past 7, and the kids were starving. So was I. But I thought it would be fun to have a mini celebration for having completed soccer camp (Gorgeous) and my "writing camp" like Swan said.
The babies were out of control in the store. After telling El Cangri, "Sit down or you'll fall," for the millionth time, I grabbed the strawberries and the buns from the cart and walked to the register by myself, without checking if anyone was following me or not. Swan and Gorgeous were, and Chubbers decided to push the cart. It just so happened that El Cangri was right in front of her, and she ran straight into him. He fell back, hit his head on the floor, and then she also ran over his fingers. I heard him let out a cry, and he didn't take in a breath. My little darling boy managed to come to me (I was only about five feet away from where he had fell), soundlessly saying "It hurts mami." He then softly lay on the floor, and he went blue.
Well, in the three seconds that had passed between the moment he fell and the moment he turned blue, millions of thoughts crossed my mind. "Is he having a seizure from the fall?", "Is he on the floor because he's having a tantrum?", "Should I yell for help", "what's going to happen if he doesn't breath right away?" I can't explain how a mind can hold so many thoughts and feelings and still think about the other three kids and the purse I had dropped beside me without caring where it fell.
I scooped him up, and softly blew on his face, to make him react and take a breath. I whispered, "Breathe (his name here), breathe." I knew I had to remain calm for his sake, but on the inside I was frantic with terror.
Finally, the color returned to his face and hands, and he was so cold he started shivering.
A cashier asked me if he was OK, and I realized that what for me had been an eternity had only stretched for a couple of minutes at the most.
I held him tightly while I paid, and once in the car, Swan, Gorgeous and I looked at each other, and we didn't need to say a word. All three of us had seen him, blue on that cold tile floor, and we will never be able to erase that image from our minds.
They're all sleeping now, and I've checked my Cangri so many times I've lost count. Being a parent is so scary; nothing prepares you for this.
And then there are the sweet moments. Right before he fell asleep, he was looking at my face very intently. "You have freckles!" He said. And I laughed because I don't have freckles, but he must have seen something like freckles on my face, and he hugged me and kissed me.
"I like you mom." He said right before he fell asleep. I like him and his brother and sisters too. Nothing would mean anything without them.

Monday, June 08, 2009

My Alma Matter

When I was about eight years old my mom bought a grammar book. It was yellow, and it smelled funny, but I read it and read it until I had it completely memorized, as if it had been the greatest novel of all times. Being a book about grammar, it contained countless examples of how to apply the rules of grammar, what else?, in the Spanish language, or Castillian, as we say in Argentina. One of the examples had a sentence that more or less read, "Juan was grateful to his alma matter." I had no idea who Juan was grateful to, or what was he grateful to. You'd think that as a compulsive dictionary reader, I would have looked up the definition in the dictionary. But I never did. I don't remember when I learned the meaning of the word, but today I certainly felt the meaning of that concept, being grateful for my alma matter. In my case, it's BYU, or Brigham Young University.
Today my eight year old son started his first official soccer summer camp there. The camp is from 9 am to 8 pm. Needless to say, a very happy and exhausted little boy is softly snoring in the next room.
My friend G.'s son also is in the same camp, and even though the camp is for 10-15 years-old, they let our younger boys sign up. They look so small compared to their fellow campers, but boy do they work hard! When we arrived for the orientation (I was lugging three other kids besides my soccer boy), Friend hadn't arrived yet. So instead of sitting by me to wait for his friend, Gorgeous Boy went up to some boys who were shooting some penalty kicks and asked them if he could play with them. Of course they said yes, and he played until Friend joined the little group.
When orientation started, the two little boys in the front listened to their coach in attention.
I could not make myself leave him there, and I know G was feeling the same thing. But I figured by then Gorgeous was already embarrassed enough by his overprotective mom and his three little siblings who were showing off in front of everyone, so I left. My heart literally stayed behind.
I had no time to dwell on the fact that my precious son was left alone on campus because I had to prepare to attend my first Writers' Workshop, right there at BYU too. I arrived early--by mistake. I thought the workshop started 1/2 earlier than it actually did; it must be a mechanism I have developed unconsciously so that I'll be on time. I didn't know a single person, and it was "Mingle" time. I was petrified. People were talking about their deals, and editors calling them for an opinion about this and that, and I felt myself getting smaller and smaller. Then, I remembered my brave son, walking up with his head held high and introducing himself to other people. So I lifted my head, squared my shoulders, and I said "Hi" to the lady sitting beside me. For the "Mingle," different authors were sitting in a room, and people just sat in the provided chairs in front of the authors and asked questions. Guess what? I always sat in the front row and participated of the discussion.
So now, it's finally writing time, and by my laptop I see a BYU Workshop brochure. I remember receiving that first brochure from BYU when I was about 16. I was in Rosario, and I read and reread the brochure in the fancy paper so many times I memorized it. BYU might as well have been in the moon. It was unreachable, impossible. But guess what? Three years later, on a sunny Spring day, I arrived in Provo, UT with my tiny suitcase and a big smile on my face. Three more years passed and I had my bachelor's degree. Now my dream of becoming an author seems impossible, but I know I can do impossible things thanks to the Lord who's always been by my side, as well as so many angels in the form of family, friends, and today, my son.

PS: The boys walked by themselves all the way from the soccer fields to the Cannon Center (cafeteria). Those familiar with campus know how far that is. I'm hyperventilating just by thinking about those two little boys alone on campus!!! Gorgeous said, "We used the tunnel to go across the street. And then, we only served ourselves what we wanted to eat, and when we finished, we went for more. After eating we still had time, so we took turns reading Friend's book. Tomorrow I'm taking my own. We were running and playing in our free time. I love BYU!"
I'm going to go collapse now... my baby ... sobbing...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Things I learned this week

This week I have learned that even though school is over, the crazy running continues. Gorgeous Boy had futbol camp this week, and although it was only two hours long in the afternoon, it was everyday, and it cut my days in two. I felt myself under a permanent cloud of exhaustion, yes, like Eeyore being followed by a cloud, except my cloud wasn't gloomy, but tiredness.
The best part of camp was that my best friend G is finally (!!!) moving back to our area (same county, at least), and she signed up her son in the same camp. Gorgeous and Friend were born ten days apart, and they have been dear, dear friends since they were babies. The rest of our kids adore each other too, so they play happily and we talk and talk and talk, and we wash down our words with an endless stream of mate. She drinks it bitter, and I like it sweet. But G and I have reached a compromise, we only put sugar in the mate when it's my turn to drink. I drink it a lot more bitter than I'm used to, and she drinks it sweeter than she would like, but we can both live with it. It's mate for crying out loud! And she loves futbol too; she's a fellow Scoundrel (The Scoundrels, Rosario Central, my home town team), and get this one: yesterday I drove two and a half hours to my beautiful niece's baptism. During the whole drive, Argentina was playing against Colombia in the World Cup Qualifiers, and of course I cou;dn't watch the game. G texted me the whole game, telling me how bad Argentina was playing (we have the most expensive players in the world!), and then the much desired message of "Goaaaaaal" and then "it's finally over." Now, that's a good friend. And if you're worried about my checking texts while I was driving, don't fret, there were such horrific traffic jams than the usual one hour drive was the aforementioned two and a half. We were perfectly safe everytime a message came, or if I was driving during a spare stretch of normal speed, I waited until I reached my destination. See?
I also learned that cousins are the best of friends. My kids are spending the weekend with the cousins, and they're having a blast. It must be the call of the blood because even though my kids and Jeff's nieces and nephews don't see each other a whole lot, every time we get together, they hug and play and laugh nonstop.
I've also learned that even when I complain about the dogs, I still love them so much!!! Coco had some kind of accident this week. I don't know for sure because no one saw what happened. He suddenly started yelping, shaking and panting. I knew he was in pain, and when the kids were already in bed, I took him to the Animal ER. $350.00 later, we still don't know what's wrong with him, but the Dr suspected it was his back. Fortunately we have some medication to give him, and he's been doing OK. But guess what? From being a lively seven pound Maltese, he's now diminished to three pounds of tail-wigging-loving-eyes, aging dog. It make me sad, and it helps me treasure him and Dandi more. And everyone for that matter.
I've also learned that once I start writing I can't stop. As I'm sure you've already known all along. But seriously, the last day of school this idea came to my mind and I have been working on it everyday. I'm 15,000 words into a new manuscript, and I'm in love with my story. I think about it all the time, and it's moving along smoothly. That's why I haven't posted all this week. I'm just too busy with my "new baby."
I can summarize this week into saying that I've learned I can do things I don't like very much just because I love my family and friends (and dogs) and what I do. I don't like sleeping only three hours a night; I don't like chasing kids in the park or around the pool; I hate going to the vet. But I still do what I have to do because the reasons are important to me. Does that make sense to you?