Saturday, March 17, 2007

Glass or Steel?

Lately I have felt like a complete poser. Forgive the 80’s terminology, but that is what I feel like. I want to write, I want be a writer, but I am doing very little writing what so ever. Whine Whine! As my Hubby, the Air Force Academy grad, would say... "Wah Wah Wah...I want my milk and cookies!" This blog tonight may not be about writing at all, but there are some things I would like to talk about that may influence someone’s life out there.

As Alyson so sweetly pointed out, my daughter had surgery in Texas last week. This was not her first, nor will it be her last. It was the most invasive, and the second most important. My daughter was injured during delivery due to a failed ventouse and forceps delivery leaving her paralyzed on the left side. She has a Brachial Plexus Injury called Erb’s Palsy. The past 8 years have been a very emotional journey for all of us in our family. Our whole world revolves around Bryn’s physical therapy, occupational therapy, craniosacral therapy, water therapy, dr.’s visits...etc. It can be a bit overwhelming, but it is life. She is an amazing kid and an amazing

I think over the past eight years I have deliberately punished myself for the guilt I feel over what happened the day she was born. The day before she came into this world, I was carrying two large boxes of water. We were living in Australia and water commonly comes in 4 liter boxes, like cheap wine here in the states. I carried the boxes of water from the market all the way back to the house. Well, it was too much and my water broke, even though I was not in labor. I will spare you the details, but I have always thought...”if only I had not carried the water, then Bryn would have stayed “inside” until full term, and then the Doctor would have.....”...bla bla bla. Somehow I thought everything would be different, if I had just changed my behavior. This belief was further complicated by an acquaintance who quoted a verse from the bible that was something along the lines of “Visiting the inequity of the Father unto the children”. Bryn was paying for my sins. I have been harboring this guilt in my heart for eight years.

When we were in Texas I met an amazing woman from Iraq. She and her husband are both Doctors and on the night her baby was born there was too much fighting outside the hospital, she could not get in and her husband could not get out. So she had to go home and deliver her baby at home with the help of the neighbors. Her baby was delivered by forceps as well. He also was left with a debilitating Erb’s Palsy. You may have heard of his story on CNN or in People Magazine. He and his mother flew to Texas and had his surgery the day before Bryn’s. While our children were recovering we spent some time together. She said the most beautiful things to Bryn. I wish I could recall every word for you, but I was so in awe of her strength and beauty that I can only paraphrase for you.

She told Bryn that she had been thinking about how to explain to her son why this had happened to him and what he was going to need to do as he grows. She told Bryn that people who are born perfectly healthy and grow up easily are like a delicate glass. When they come to face the very difficult things in life they will shatter like the glass. But that Bryn and Karm, because they will face so many difficulties and have to conquer so many hurdles in childhood they will grow to be strong and solid. When they come up against the very difficult things in life they will survive and succeed because they have learned to survive and succeed as a child.

In America many people look at children like Bryn and feel pity, sorrow or anger (at the situation). Here is a woman whose country in in civil war, who makes only $400 a month as a doctor, whose baby is permanently disabled due a series of events leading back to a war started by an outside country; and she is focused on how good this will be for her son. Just hearing her speak was so humbling to me, and liberating. Who am I to think I am so important that I should feel responsible for the the greatest life learning event for my child? There are much greater powers at work here. This is not something to crucify myself over, but something to rejoice over. It takes quite a stretch to change to this mode of thinking, but I am working on it, every hour, literally. I have always known that Bryn would be stronger for her experiences, and I try to remain ever so positive, but I never honestly viewed it as good.

So I guess the human experience, what ever that may be, is mostly good. We are all learning, and traveling through time and we should be grateful for the bumps in the road that life hands us, even the ones that seem cruel at the time. Even though I have gone off the track from writing, I hope this story brings you a little peace too.

Monday, March 5, 2007

What's in a name?

What is in a name?

Several months ago, members of our writing group discussed whether or not we would use our real names when we became published. One of us is a teacher and at the time was a bit leery of her student’s parents knowing that she may write a steamy romance novel. Another one of us values her privacy and just would not want to use her real name at all. I write in more than one genre, so I would not want the any of my pen names to ever cross. This could lead to disaster, like when I was a kid and I read Judy Blume’s erotic book Wifey, quite by accident. I was ten years old at the time. Ten was a bit early to discover what kinds of trouble bored housewives can find.

So how did we go about choosing our names? At first I suggested we could use the “Porn Name equation”. Have you heard of this? For your first name you use your middle name. In my case that would be Ann. Then you take the name of the street you grew up on for your last name. Well, this is a problem as I moved several times before I grew up. This leaves me with several choices.

Ann Chanticleer
Ann Bay
Ann East Fifth
Ann Windsor Forest, etc.

The last place I lived with my parents was Purple Brook Road. Ann Purple Brook? Hmmm, ah , NO!

So we decided to go with names that were more personal and close to our heart. I chose the name of my grandmother. Not just because her name is a beautiful name, and not because I loved her, but because she was so in love with romance. Never did I see her with out a a romance novel in her hand. Walking across the house caring a load of laundry..... with a French damsel in distress. Watching her favorite football team on Sunday.....with a beer in one hand and a Gothic in the other. The question of “Who moved my book” was one that all thirteen of her grandchildren feared. For loosing Grandmama’s book was a crime punishable by the horrid WOODEN SPOON! Grandmama did not loose many books!

Grandmama introduced me to romance and as early as the age of 13 we were swapping books back and forth via mail or her yearly visits. When she found out that I wanted to write romance, she gave me my first piece of writing advise. My 75 year old grandmother looked strait into my eyes and said. “If you want to sell your first romance, the sex has to be really hot and the couple has to jump in the sack really early!”

So in honor of my Romance Worshiping Grandmother, I chose the pen name Jacqueline McDermott. I think she is smiling down on me, and I hope to make her proud!