on writing, Personal Journey

July… Don’t Want to Forget

CNW_Winner_200July was NaNoWriMo month for me. I set a goal of 30K words, figuring a thousand a day would stretch me. Boy, did it ever. I consider writing a fun, yet precise and artful enterprise, but in NaNoWriMo the point is to get your story out as fast as possible. In the writing world this is referred to as the vomit draft.

Because so much will be slashed or re-written, it’s not worth it to make every image glorious, every word just so. That comes later. Still– spending a month hurling sub-par exposition onto the screen because I had a word count to make… hurt my lit-snob eyes.

At first it was hard to keep going. Part of what motivates me is the delusion that what I’ve got on the page is excellence. Like exercise or right eating– if breakfast was a donut, might as well hit McDonald’s on the way home because they day is shot. With the vomit draft, I had to leave that thinking behind, to have faith that the sacrifice of my summer mornings would eventually reach the throne room. Confession: I actually love writing and would gladly do it all day long. What I sacrifice are the other practical things I could be, maybe should be doing.

This chart represents my July. How Maureen McHugh got into my head as I slogged through this process, I don’t know. Or else, maybe I’m not that special; I’m just like every other person struggling to write a book. Ok, probably that.

Credit: Maureen McHugh
Credit: Maureen McHugh

While I was practically chanting to myself it’s not a waste to pursue this dream of mine, my kids were doing their summer things too. My job is to get them there. Luke spent Monday through Thursday afternoons downtown. That meant I created my curriculum in the beautiful Carnegie Library or jogged the Hope Memorial Bridge while Luke dragged weighted sleds across Wasmer’s turf field. Have you ever stepped onto a turf field on a summer’s day? It’s like stepping on Mercury. I could see the skyline of Cleveland and feel the breeze off Lake Erie. Luke could feel his thighs melting, I imagine. Two of the pics below are of the aftermath of soccer tryout preparations. Note the dead grass and clever use of lawn accoutrements.

They say chlorine is the breakfast of champions. Gabe had it for breakfast and dinner. He participated in our city’s rec team and in the long course with his club team. The combination made him strong and lean as he’s ever been. Long course was a dish of humility– holy cow, is this pool long; the rec league, a dish of validation– is this kid for real…

Gabe and Coach Lindsey

Yep. Real as the alarm every morning and the practice every night. …because that’s how winnin is done. – Rocky Balboa

Bob’s summer. He gave it as he often does, to planning a mission trip to South Dakota. Nothing makes Bob happier than helping people stretch themselves in service and charity. The team built a playground and helped construct a house. They led the church services and even fed anyone who came to church. This missions trip is not for the faint of heart. I also posted about it here.

It’s no pleasure trip either. A manager at Aeropostale, Tory gives the same due diligence to cleaning sludge out of a flooded basement in South Dakota as she does to running the store. That was her task for two days. All alone, no complaints. Like Bob, she’s got a feel for managing people and is not above any job that God needs done. I’m here, Lord. Send me. I have a feeling that willingness to get their hands dirty is what makes them effective managers.

As the team wends its way back home, stopping in the badlands, Custer State Park, and Mount Rushmore, they solidify friendships that will last long after the trip is over. Here they are at Indiana Dunes State Park, the last stop on the way home.beach

That was July. Today Luke is at soccer tryouts for St. Ignatius. We’ve always sought the biggest pond for our frogs. Sometimes that big pond was speech and debate, post-secondary college, Model UN, Civil Air Patrol, or the higher athleticism of club sports. I watched club soccer kids getting cut on Tuesday, kids who’d be playing varsity on their city teams. I watched them shake hands with the coaches, hang their heads and walk away from a sport they love.

I think, this pond feels more like Lake Michigan.

It was at this point in my post that I had to leave to pick up Luke from tryouts.  Teams were being finalized as I typed. But August happenings will be another post. 🙂



Personal Journey

L is for Luke

LLuke. When he was a chubby toddler, we called him The Mayor. It was during the summer performances of Music on the Mound that Luke, then 3 years old, would go blanket to blanket and engage his constituency in monosyllabic conversations that culminated in uproarious laughter and his parting wave. Then on to the next blanket, the next set of hearts to melt… Luke could charm the socks off a Gulag prisoner. Though he’s tough as steel, and probably because of that, his smile is a gift that never gets old.

I wrote this post when Luke was considering whether or not to attend high school at St. Ignatius. He’d been homeschooled all his life, and St. Ig had a reputation of three hours of homework per night. Three hours was the totality of Luke’s academic day up to that point. And don’t forget– there’d be no more sleeping in, no more school on the couch wrapped in a cozy comforter, no more getting out of school simply by scowling at mom when she’s in a fit of weakness. Going to school, any brick and mortar school, would mean galactic shifts in the tectonic plates of Luke’s world.

Luke received First Honors in his first semester at Saint Ignatius, a 4.1 GPA. Transition accomplished.

If you hung with me through that shameless kid-bragging score, here’s some balance. Luke’s had his share of disappointments. His gym grade is partially based on how many baskets he makes. Not cool for a soccer player. Or Luke’s attempt at memorizing all 75 prepositions for his English test– a valiant effort but an imperfect result. Now the big one: Soccer tryouts didn’t go as he’d hoped. Rather than wallow in self-pity, Luke held on to Michael Jordan.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Cut. I don’t even know logistically how that’s possible that Michael Jordan could be cut from high school basketball and still end up professional. But it’s true. So Luke, not cut from high school soccer, just not getting his exact desire, could surely make the best of it. And he did. And I’m proud. I don’t know how many goals he scored or assisted– lots. I’m more pumped that Luke persevered.

This was a really hard post to write because Luke hates having anything written about him. Super-private, he is. If I don’t post anymore after this, it’s because Luke took his revenge.

Last but not least, Luke has a soft spot in his heart. Her name is Delaney. Here they are, looking adorable.

Luke Delaney Horse