Friday, October 22, 2010

Robert G. Hilts

Late on the afternoon of Oct. 21, 1991, the phone on my desk at work rang. I worked as a secretary in a law firm in those days and calls were announced. My desk was, basically, in the hallway; I shared a space with another secretary and we were positioned for rapid response to any demands issuing forth from the lawyers' offices on the other side of that hall. When my phone rang, my boss and I would make eye contact while I announced who was calling—he'd shake his head yes or no to taking the call.
"Your dad is calling," the receptionist said and put the call through; before I could form the thought that this was odd, there he was.
"Hi, Dad." My boss turned back to the work on his desk.
"Just calling to say hello, ask how you're doing."
Even though I knew, we chatted for a while because that's what he wanted. I told him about the hearing we were preparing for, the amount of work required to get the paperwork in order, the endless typing of motions and copying of pages and faxing of documents. "Dad?"
"Are you okay?"
"Well, Button, I don't know if you've heard, but I've got cancer. But I'm fine. I'm okay."
"Yeah, Dad. Listen...."
"Honey, I've got to go now. Just wanted to say hello. You be good. Oh! And, um, thank you for your letter. It means the world."
I told him I was leaving work in an hour and would be at his house as soon as I could be. He told me no. He ordered me not to come. "I love you. Okay?"
"Okay, then. Bye bye, now."
"Bye, Dad. I love you."
My cubicle mate had gotten up when I said hellp, closed the doors of all the lawyers' offices then disappeared down the hall.
After I'd cried and sobbed and cried some more, I stood up and opened my boss's door. But I stayed at work, very late, because I am my father's daughter and work has always been a kind of haven. Then I went home and got in bed and waited for the call that came at 4:30 the next morning.

Today is the 19th anniversary of my father's death.
I miss him, of course; it doesn't take the anniversary for that happen.

The Week of The Heavy Hits

The first signs of a cold I mentioned in my previous post turned into a fully blown assault on my general well-being; I spent a day in bed, feverish, aching, too sick to do much besides watch television. My voice went from raspy to non-existent—a challenge in the classroom.

More difficult was getting some feedback on my work that seemed designed to stop me dead in my tracks. Which it has done, though I'm rallying now.

I never thought that being a writer would be easy. When I quit my perfectly good job as a legal secretary to devote myself to writing, I expected that there would be plenty of moments of panic and doubt and...well, I was right. But I was also right in believing that if I didn't do this thing I would regret it for the rest of my life.

I've been blessed in many ways. The trick, it seems to me, is to remember those blessings, and acknowledge how lucky I've been. So, a gratitude list. Here goes:
  • My husband's belief in me buoys me when my own doubts seem to be winning, as does the support of my friends. 
  • My daughter continues to tolerate me. And we laugh together. A lot. 
  • The Inner Bitch has been very, very good to me.
  • The Universe keeps sending messages that I was right to make this choice.
  • Today the sun is shining and the changing leaves provide moments of breath-taking beauty. 
  • Against all odds, I still have a roof over my head and a room of my own in which to write.
What are you grateful for today? 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Signs and Portents

I knew it would happen, I just wasn't sure when.


Today is the day when the various demands on my time, energy and capacity collided. I have no one to blame but myself, of course; I wanted to teach, I wanted to do what I could to make it possible to teach more in the future, I wanted to figure out a way to make enough money.

Of course I have the first signs of a cold.

Of course I rushed home from my morning gig to do an interview at 12:30—an interview that is scheduled for next Monday.

The good news is, now I can just write for the rest of the day. Except there's no food in the house, no milk, no half and half, no...the list of what isn't here that should be is long. 

So. Now I know that it's time to pay attention. Make some soup, have a little lie down, enjoy a cup of tea, then write.