There is a heaviness to grief that cuts straight to the bone. It’s a feeling that cannot be explained or reasoned away. There is no easing it and no way of knowing how long it will last. It’s lethargic and inward and takes you beyond yourself.
After battling a rare form of cancer, my grandfather passed away on Wednesday evening at 10:59 pm. I was with him when he passed and, though it was difficult to watch him struggle in the hours before, I felt that his passing was peaceful and easy. In those last 20 minutes, he just settled. It was like falling asleep; he stopped gasping for air, his breathing returned to a natural, steady rhythm, and then he was gone. It was that smooth.
Though the loss is painful, I was glad that it happened so easily. I didn’t want him to be in pain any longer and I like to think that in those minutes he was at ease. He was not a perfect man, but he was loving and caring and he was a stubborn old goat who had a gift for opening up and telling stories no matter who was listening. I didn’t see him often enough, but in the last two years I lived closer to his home and was able to spend more time with him on the weekends. Though we had our differences when it came to certain beliefs, he always believed in me and made sure I knew it. I said goodbye to him on Saturday when I stopped by his place to pick up my aunt before taking her to the airport, and that was the last time I heard his voice.
He never gave me presents because he was a practical man and figured money was a better gift than an object, so I have few things to remember him by–an antique bracelet he found at a garage sale a couple of years ago, an old shoeshine box that he found and knew I would like (we shared a love interesting of wooden boxes), and an old hammer with three mismatched screwdrivers, things he knew I would need when he wouldn’t be there to help. Then there are the plants–my whole garden came from his, a living tribute that I have been worrying over for the last year and a half as the harsh, unpredictable weather tries to beat my efforts.
He uprooted his life and left his homeland to escape communism. He watched his family grow. And he made sure we were always looked after. When I had to have emergency surgery three years ago, he was the one who watched over me while my mom was at work, and when I moved out, he was the first to come inspect the place. When I met Edward, he was one of the first to approve, and when I graduated and became a librarian, he made sure I knew he was proud.
I have few pictures of us together because I was often the one behind the camera, but last Christmas I made sure to take one where we were together. However, my favorite pictures will always be those that my mom brought with her from Cuba, the ones where he looks like an old time movie star, and this one where he’s doing what he loved best–climbing and fixing things:
Ugh. It is unbearably hot today. It feels like stepping into a moist oven every time I go outside. Just the thought of moving makes me feel exhausted. Not good.
I did manage to do a couple of productive things today:
1) I finished reading Written in my Own Heart’s Blood (I try to reconcile my bookish feelings here).
2) I printed out a double-sided, 2-page copy of the soul-crushing Draft 2 for reading and note-taking (re: sense-making).
Somehow, I will work up the will to take a walk this evening… after the sun goes down.
I almost can’t believe how quickly the last month went by… July was definitely jam-packed with happenings, some more welcome than others, but I managed.
Writing is on hold and I’m loving it. I really needed this time off to recharge (though the story is never really far from my mind). The plan is to start reading 5 chapters every weekend until I get through the entire manuscript. I’ll be looking for the big picture stuff–plot issues, time/setting, characterization, etc.–while creating a new chapter/scene outline using cards and noting down all those little details that slip between the cracks (like is it winter or fall? and why is this person suddenly blue-eyed when they had black eyes two chapters ago?)..
With 20 chapters to get through, 5 chapters every weekend should be manageable.
Finished City of Heavenly Fire, wrapping up yet another one of those series that have followed me from my teens into adulthood. My thoughts on the ending… it was okay. I find that I prefer The Infernal Devices over The Mortal Instruments series–I find that the story and characters in the ID arc are better developed–but TMI started to get a little bloated in the second half of the series and CoHF really epitomizes that. I found myself struggling to finish it, mostly because there were so many subplots fighting for attention. It felt long. The resolution seemed to go on forever, and then there was an Epilogue. Just when I thought it had reached a conclusion. So it was okay, but it could’ve done with some cutting IMHO.
So now that that’s over and returned to the library (right on time too), I finally get to dive into Written In My Own Heart’s Blood. Hurray for Highland hotties! (sorry, fangirling).
Dad’s still sick. Granpa’s still sick. Mom is her usual self. This is what happens when you are raised by elders.
The boy needed professional (ha!) pictures for a website bio. He returned the favor (though I was unprepared and sporting mad hair and no makeup). I give you, my lazy girl weekend look…
(in no particular order)
1. Made a list of all the things I have to do.
Because if I don’t, I will surely forget something and then find myself making excuses for why I didn’t do the thing I said I would do.
2. Rearranged my office space.
Because I’ve been here for two months, it’s about time I made it look livable.
3. Enjoyed a spot of tea. Twice.
4. Bought myself a new planner.
Because #1 requires constant reminders. And I have a weakness for school supply sales.
5. Properly did myself up and wore bright colors rather than rely on the usual darks.
Because the boy reminded me that I am no longer an angsty teenager.
6. Strolled down to the bay during my lunch break.
Yes, it’s finally happened. I just typed the last period. At 90,402 words, the second draft of Anúna is complete.
For the sake of ceremony and self-indulgence, here is the last sentence that appears in the current draft.
What’s next? A full read-through with an eye towards consistency issues and other narrative quirks before digging into draft 3. But first, I’ll let it rest.
On Monday morning, I reached what felt like a natural ending to my great climactic scene :) so it’s all downhill from there… not that that’s a bad thing. It’s about time. I’m feeling the urge to start tinkering with a new plot… perhaps even a side story to help me refresh. I find that it helps me to think of something completely different between drafts. It keeps me from wanting to throw things in frustration every time I think of another element that needs changing. And there are plenty of them (I am more than aware of that), but there also comes a point in my writing when I need to be willing to step back and let go before diving in for another round. My intro (+ the first five chapters) need another look, but I’m going to avoid making any major changes before getting some reader feedback. I don’t want to muddle it up before having another set of eyes go through it.
In other news, I recently shuttered the book blog. It was time and I’m ok with that. Needless to say, there is no way I will stop talking about books; it just means that my posts will be more like random comments and side posts on tumblr than full reviews.
I’m currently reading the second in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger, Curtsies & Conspiracies. I’m enjoying it more than the first one and will definitely read on when the third and fourth books come out.Next in line is Cassandra Clare’s City of Heavenly Fire, which just arrived for me from the library and which I did not expect for several weeks yet. This means I’ll have to speed my way through to finish before it’s due.
In the meantime, I continue to stare longingly at Diana Gabaldon’s Written in my Own Heart’s Blood, which arrived in the mail several weeks ago and has been resting on my nightstand while I read through the sudden deluge of library requested books that I’ve received.
My dad is still not well and there’s not much we can do for him but wait and hope the therapy makes a difference. It’s terribly worrying when you’re parents are older and in poor health. My mom, meanwhile, is not handling it very well and that’s equally concerning, as well as stress-inducing for me as the person in the middle.
I kind of like this subheading thing… may start using it as a regular thing.
These are the things that are making me think…
- The ending.
- The thought of letting go of writing for a while and taking care of my body rather than my mind.
- My dad is a stubborn man and I wish there was more I could do to help him.
- My grandfather is surprisingly similar in temperament and situation.
- My car may or may not be ready to clonk out of existence in the next six months (re: I may or may not be ready to pony up the money to buy a new car in the next six months).
- Someone is racking up the water bill at my complex and the landlord is threatening to raise the rents :( :( :(
- I may have snitched in order to avoid the above scenario and this makes me feel like a total narc.
- My insurance plan finally kicked in. Better start saving for the copays.
I didn’t feel like writing tonight. Then I decided to force my sorry self into my chair and start writing.
And it worked.
And now I think the end of draft 2 is finally within reach. And oh my giddy goodness does it feel good to finally reach an ending that isn’t drawn out over several months of struggling with words. It’s not what I expected, but it’s going somewhere better and I can’t wait to see it reach a conclusion.
To endings and new beginnings!
I am slump girl.
And it’s sheer laziness on my part, but it’s a reality I have to face. I’m writing. Actually, I’m writing a lot. I’m just not writing for myself. I’m writing proposals and emails and work plans; and though I know where I need to go, I have no drive to get to it. There’s no one to blame but myself, but I think the time has come to own up to it and realize that I need a break. It’s something that needs to happen if I want to get back to writing with a fresh mind and a willing heart. So I’m going to give myself a break until Sunday. And I won’t beat myself up for it. This is a conscious, purposeful effort. I’ll enjoy a few days off and deal with the feeling of burnout that I have been brushing aside for the last few weeks to no effect. Instead, I’ll sort through clothes and set up donation piles. I’ll clear the clutter in my home. I’ll clean. I’ll cook. I’ll enjoy kitty cat love time and birthday treats with the boy and the family. And I’ll start again on Sunday.
We all need a mini break some time.