Thank you so much for all the wonderful responses to my publishing announcement earlier this week! I’m so frustrated that I wasn’t able to reply, especially to all the kind words on Twitter. (Man, you know your life is crazy when you can’t even find time to procrastinate on Twitter.)
Things have just been so, so, so, so, so overwhelming ever since the baby came home. I can barely keep up with anything. To give you an idea: Christy wrote a perfect summary of what my days are like right now in her first take here, and I have had a tab open in my browser for a week to remind myself to leave a comment saying, “Yes, that is my life!” but I cannot seem to get to it because…that is my life.
When Yaya calls you and tells you that she has found a “terrifying” bug in her yard, it’s time to call an evacuation helicopter. I mean, this is the woman who knocks down wasps’ nests and then just stands there and chills while the angry insects swarm around her, before eventually crushing them with her bare hands. She’s nonchalant about being stung by poisonous arachnids while she sleeps, she threatens gang members with violence, and she finds scorpions in cups to be charming kitchen accessories.
So when I answered the phone to hear her screaming about some “terrifying” but that the kids needed to come see, I should have known that it would be as awful as this:
These insane-o centipedes are venomous, and their stings are said to be far more painful than those of scorpions. Oh, and they can cut you with their dozens of creepy little legs and inject venom into you just by walking across your skin.
I have seen one of these things on my property once (and I shared my heart about that experience here), and now I shall live the rest of my days in terror at the thought of encountering one inside the house. Enough of this useless bug spray nonsense; I need a flamethrower.
I’m sorry. I don’t think you understand the full awfulness of this thing. You can’t really tell how big it is from that picture, so here it is with a common object next to it to give you a sense of scale:
Well, that’s how I perceive the scale, anyway. And I need to make sure that you didn’t miss THESE, the needle-sharp dual DAGGERS at the end of its tail:
I should really stop now before I get a cease and desist letter from the legal team at the Texas Tourism Department.
On a brighter note, I did a juice fast this week! It’s not exactly a Perfect Health Diet thing, but I figured that juice-only fasts might avoid the risk of metabolic endotoxemia from too much fructose since you’re drinking each serving when your liver’s glycogen stores are low (which is probably stupid and wrong, but anyway…) I just bought the Naked brand of juices that my grocery store carries, and I lived on those for a couple of days.
I did it because I felt like my body needed a rest from the work of digestion to help it fight this never-ending sinus infection, and it did seem to help. Amazingly, I wasn’t hungry! Also, I felt good: my energy level was strong, despite not getting much sleep at night, and I didn’t even miss eating. I won’t go into the weight loss side, since we’re all focused on healthful diets and not vain concerns like a number on the scale, but instead will simply say that it was a good experience and I’ll probably do it again soon.
(Ha ha! Just kidding about the weight thing. I lost four pounds in two days.)
Speaking of health and weight and whatnot, I’m trying to get into a good fitness routine. I’m jogging again (looking as glamorous as always), and I can’t decide whether I’ll go back to Body for Life or Lindsay Brin’s Postnatal Boot Camp DVD for strength training. What I love about Brin’s DVDs is that they’re targeted at moms who have recently had babies, and all the workout ladies (or whatever the term is for the people demonstrating the moves on the DVD) are mothers themselves. Also, for whatever reason, my kids love to do it with me, which always leads to a scene more ridiculous than you could possibly imagine.
Anyway, hit me with any thoughts you have about workout routines that don’t require monthly fees and can be done in or near one’s home. Do we like Jillian or is she too crazy? Do we think that buying books about jumping rope is the very definition of absurdity, or is that just Joe? I am all ears. After feeling so bad for so long, I am extremely motivated to get back into great health.
The other day I got all fired up about making the perfect Cosmo. It was going to be a special treat after another grueling week; in fact, I was so motivated to do it that I actually made a special trip to the store to get cranberry juice — and let me just tell you, getting out to the store when you have six kids under age nine is NO JOKE. From the time we left until the time we returned, the trip took the better part of the afternoon.The shopping experience was deeply traumatic, in large part because there seems to be something in the air in our grocery store that sends my two-year-old into Turbo Crazy mode. I barely kept her from jumping out of the cart, shattering everyone’s eardrums with her screaming, and sweeping clear all the shelves.
When I got home I looked over my haul with satisfaction. I got milk and cream, some spinach, stocked up on summer sunscreen, and even remembered that new can opener that I’d been meaning to pick up for months. And then I barely restrained myself from clawing at my eyes and screaming as I realized:
I FORGOT. THE FREAKING. CRANBERRY. JUICE.
After slumping into a chair and staring at a wall in abject despair for a few hours, I decided to improvise my own recipe. The only juice we had in the house was the kids’ juice boxes, so I went with that. The resulting momtini was surprisingly delicious.
Here’s the recipe, adapted from this one:
- 1 jigger vodka
- 1/2 oz. Cointreau
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 oz from Capri Sun or Juicy Juice box
- Lime and sugar for garnish
Mix all ingredients together in a chilled glass (preferably a martini glass if you’re fancy enough to have one). Wipe lime wedge around rim then douse with sugar for garnish. Guaranteed to make you pick up on the hidden brilliance of Barney that you’d never noticed before.
Hurray for three-day weekends, and God bless the men and women who have died in the service of our country.
One thousand eight hundred and twenty days ago, I started writing my book, a memoir about going from atheism to belief. After three complete, from-a-blank-page rewrites; countless feedback sessions from Joe and my agent and brilliant fellow writers, each of which left me wondering whether I should perhaps just give up on the written word altogether; revisions that made me feel like my brain was melting; a reality show; three new babies; and a pitch process that almost sent me into cardiac arrest every time I saw my agent’s name in my inbox…I finally have a publisher.
I know I use this word too much, but there is no other way to describe the pitch process other than to say it was EPIC. When Ted, my agent, first told me that we had multiple offers from great publishers, I was thrilled. My excitement quickly melted into a vague sense of dread, however, when I realized that I could only pick one. I know, I know, good problem to have. But because my writer angst knows no bounds, I had these visions of making the wrong decision and ruining everyone’s life in the process, leaving some poor acquisitions editor so scarred that she’d spit on the ground any time she heard my name.
I prayed for direction, and to my great relief my prayers were answered. God made it clear which house would be the right fit for this project, probably because he knew that I’d turn this situation into too much of a hot mess if he didn’t intervene directly this time. Ted made some calls, we all signed some papers, and now I can finally tell you:
Ignatius Press is my publisher, and my book will probably be released either this Fall or next Spring!
Ignatius? you say. Ignatius Press? The Pope’s publisher? The house that puts out all those works of theology that make you feel like you didn’t know anything about anything until you read this book? They’re publishing you? All I can say is: I KNOW!
Our bookshelves are about half full with Ignatius books, and I’m still having a hard time believing that mine will one day be among them. Let’s see, we have:
- A Brief Catechesis on Nature and Grace by Henri de Lubac
- A Refutation of Moral Relativism by Dr. Peter Kreeft
- Scandal of the Incarnation: Irenaeus Against the Heresies by Hans Urs von Balthasar
…And Jennifer Fulwiler talking about listening to Tupac on her iPod while reading the Catechism.
I keep waiting for Mark Brumley to call and tell me delicately that there’s this professor with five PhDs named Jennifer Fullwider, and, long story short, a horrible mistake has been made. But that hasn’t happened yet, and I’ve given it a few weeks, so I guess I can officially say:
Ignatius Press is my publisher!!!!
I invite you to raise a glass of your favorite beverage to celebrate this moment with me in a virtual toast. Thanks for putting up with my writer drama over the past few years (though I shouldn’t talk about it in the past tense, as if there’s not a whole lot more to come). I love sharing my story with you, and I hope you’ll continue to join me in the adventures that are yet to come!
There’s been a lot of talk about struggling and gratitude lately. (Here is where I was going to list the many, many blog posts that would bolster my claim of “a lot of talk,” but I can’t think of a single one other than Grace‘s because I am currently using 80% of my mental energy toward coming up with increasingly colorful commentary about why I still feel like I have a dagger lodged into my cheek when I have been on antibiotics for this sinus infection for two days.)
Anyway. One thing that always surprises me about these posts is when people throw in caveats along the lines of “I know I shouldn’t be complaining, since other people have it so much harder.” Maybe it’s because I find everything in life to be difficult, but I never think those caveats are necessary. I can’t remember a time when I had the reaction of thinking that someone has no right to vent about whatever is troubling them. I mean, I read a post where a mom says that her life is ruined because she has a fussy toddler and can’t get Talking Tom to work on her iPhone, and I think, “You’re right. That’s insufferable. How can you live such a torturous life?!”
Sometimes I think it would be cathartic to just blow it out and have a Complaining Olympics where we all write posts venting about what we’re struggling with right now, and no caveats allowed. Valuable prizes would be awarded to the person who showed the most skill at wallowing in misery. I can hear the hushed tones of the commentators now: “Patton had the gold medal in the bag with her residency nightmare until she had points deducted for saying she didn’t think her problems were the worst in the world. Alexander was disqualified for overcoming her pain with a saint-like attitude. Fulwiler has now pulled into the lead with her seven-day series about her sinus infection in which each post was made up entirely of expletives.”
Okay, okay, maybe it’s not the best idea ever. But those posts would be fun to write.
Speaking of things we (“we” meaning “I”) complain about, here’s what happened to the scorpion I think I may have mentioned earlier this week:
I want to issue a threatening memo to all local scorpions that says: Here’s what happens when poisonous arachnids terrorize homeschooling households!
My aunt and uncle are in town, and they went to see some of Austin’s famous bats this evening. They didn’t even need to go to the spot downtown under the Congress Avenue bridge; there’s a bridge up here in the ‘burbs that has just as many, if not more, bats that fly out from under it every night.
Every time I drive by that bridge I think of our friend Irma. She’s the quintessential old-school Mexican Catholic woman, who immigrated to the United States to give her daughter and her grandchildren a better life, and has that fabulous combination of being warm and loving yet having no tolerance for nonsense. One day I was giving her a ride home, and we happened to stop at a light in front of the bridge just as the bats were coming out. I watched the animals pour out by the thousands, flocking into the air in such numbers that it looked like plumes of black smoke were emanating from the bridge. I saw the delighted looks of the tourists in their khaki shorts and polo shirts who nodded at one another in awe as they snapped picture after picture.
I turned to Irma to make a comment about the majesty of the moment, but when I looked over I saw that she was crossing herself as she whispered, “Que feo!” ["How ugly/vile/disgusting!"]
That moment gave me a new perspective, sort of like I had with Austin’s other claim to fame, live music. I still think the bats are kind of cool…but I can also see how someone would behold all these possibly-rabid animals filling the sky and say, “Que feo!”
Let me just tell you: When a family checks out of their carpet, things get grim.
You see, the previous owner of this house chose to replace the carpets just before he put it up for sale. I imagine him standing at the carpet store six years ago, trying to decide between the colors “First Winter’s Snow” or “Gleaming Ivory,” but ultimately deciding on “Stain-Sucking, Extra-Colorless Super-White.” (I probably don’t need to tell you that he did not have young children.) As you can imagine, it has been a tough row to hoe to try to raise six children with this carpet underfoot.
Joe and I have made a valiant effort over the years, but an ocean of Resolve could not save this thing now. At some point in the past couple of months we realized that we simply have to tear out this carpet and get hardwood floors; if we don’t make the decision ourselves, at some point the health department will demand it.
Ever since we had that realization, we’ve mentally checked out of the upkeep of the carpet. Sure, we’ll spray some cleaner on the stains and swipe it with a rag a few times, but it doesn’t take much effort before we call it quits since “we’re going to replace this thing anyway.” By now I don’t think there’s any way to check back in to caring about the carpet…which is unfortunate since it will be quite a while before we’re in a financial position to re-floor the entire downstairs.
It reached a new low this week, when we experienced the horrible combination of events in which the kids were drinking red Kool-Aid at Yaya’s house just hours before the stomach flu hit. At this point our best strategy might be to just post a sign for visitors that says: “Welcome! Don’t be afraid to walk on the carpet. All of the stains are dry (probably).”
I have this idea that I’m so excited about: I want to write a memoir about the diet/fitness stuff I did after baby #5 was born when I lost 35 pounds and felt so good. I don’t want to write it because I think I have Important Things to Say on this subject, but simply because I think everyone should write memoirs about experiences that are interesting to them (seriously! go write a memoir — I’ll read it). This idea clicked for me after ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek’s memoir had such an impact on me: I’ve read a million dry how-to books that talk about how to have better endurance when you exercise, but having those same insights packaged in the context of one man’s personal story made it all so much more palatable and pleasurable to read.
I’m thinking I would just offer it here on the website as an ebook: no five-year, sanity stealing writing journeys, no shopping to publishers, just me having fun telling a story. Now if I could just get to feeling good again, I could get started (I see a possible epilogue there).
For years I have held strong on my stance that I don’t understand organized exercise. I have tried, always unsuccessfully, to understand why a person would run five kilometers on some race organizer’s time table rather than just running the same distance around their neighborhood whenever they feel like it (read: it’s all about getting up early for me). Then, the other day I came across Sole Searching Mama’s post about her participation in the Oklahoma City Marathon. It’s the first thing I’ve ever read on the subject that made me kind of “get” what’s special about these races. I still maintain that it is extremely unlikely that you’ll ever see me running with a number on my back…but it definitely got me thinking.
I had a whole other paragraph here but I just deleted it because SCORPION!
So there I was, carefully typing out said paragraph, and I see a dark, moving object on the floor to my right. I knew even before I looked down what it was, since dark moving objects are only ever one thing in this house.
But here’s the worst part: It was moving away from my desk in a clear trajectory. You would think that the “away” part would be good, but, nay, it was in fact deeply troubling, as it indicated that only a few seconds before, the scorpion must have been RIGHT UNDER MY DESK. Where my FEET are. It is extremely important to my mental health that the space under my desk, which I cannot easily see unless I scoot my huge chair way back, remain a FEET-ONLY zone.
To give you an idea of what I’ll be fixating on for the next 1,000 days or so, let’s take a moment to re-imagine me typing that paragraph in light of this information. Picture it like it’s a movie:
There’s the protagonist, smiling, dashing out her brilliant prose for her blog. You may have noticed that I’ve been slow to update the ol’ blog lately, she types. That’s because I’m so tired from getting up with a newborn that I’ve forgotten all of the English language except for about fifty words. Also, our house has been hit with a particularly disgusting stomach flu — but on the plus side, sometimes our two-year-old has to take a break from screaming and hitting me to puke. But I’m treasuring these moments since they go by sooooo fast!
Now the camera pans to her bare feet under the desk. We hear the clicking of her keyboard as we see the malevolent arachnid inch toward her toes. She pauses to come up with more scintillating content for her blog, and in the process stretches her legs. Her feet brush past the scorpion, missing it by mere millimeters. The scorpion feels threatened by the giant foot. It turns to engage, its dagger tail in the attack position, ready to plunge into the unsuspecting foot.
Just as it moves in for the kill, the protagonist thinks aloud about another possible sentence for her blog post. “I don’t even mind the fact that I also have a raging sinus infection, because I’m counting it all joy!” she says, which causes her to laugh so hard that she scoots her feet back just as the venomous point of the scorpion’s tail was about to be stabbed into her flesh.
If this were a good movie, it would end with the protagonist seeing the scorpion and promptly buying a new house. As it was, I screamed at Joe to come deal with it, which was unfortunate since he was evidently suffering from temporary amnesia in which he no longer knew that you can never, ever, ever kill scorpions on carpets:
Joe: [Raises up shoe and stomps on scorpion.]
Jen: That’s, uhh, that’s not going to -
Joe: [Angry scorpion now running at him with tail in the attack position.]
Jen: It doesn’t work to -
Joe: [Stomps scorpions a few more times. Scorpion stops moving.]
Jen: It’s not dead.
Joe: [Beholds silly woman and her crazy-talk with bemusement. Touches scorpion with tip of shoe. Scorpion jumps up and starts running at him again.] Whoa! This thing isn’t dead!!!
Joe eventually disproved the Can’t Ever Ever Ever Kill Scorpions on Carpets rule, but it was only after going all Michael Flatley on it for about five minutes. I maintain that the rule holds for me, though, as I would never try to kill a scorpion by stepping on it. I feel certain that I would somehow miss it and it would end up gripping onto my shoe with its little pincers, hoisting itself onto my ankle, then running up into the pantleg of my jeans, where it would sting my leg over and over and over again as I writhed and screamed in agony. (I assure you that this is only one of many things-going-horribly-awry-with-scorpions scenarios I have all worked out in my head.)
All this is a long way of saying: If my tone seems painfully strained for the rest of my writing career, it’s because I will henceforth be writing while holding my legs at least three feet off the ground.