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Crazy Days Redux

Okay.

So. I have a shoot at 2. I have to pick up the girls from school at 3:15 (I insisted 2 was not good time, but client was certain her baby would be perfect and we’d be through.)

Then Emily has a birthday party for her best friend at 4:30. I also have a shoot at 4:30.

So,

3:00 Finish shoot.
3:15 Wait in car line to snag girls.
3:30 Dash home.
3:45 Get Emily dressed in “glamorous gown” for “red carpet” party.
4:10 Wait, wait, wait as long as possible to avoid being too early.
4:15 Run her over to party, just a smidgen before party starts. Thankfully in neighborhood.
4:20 Console crying Eliza who thinks she deserves to go to fancy dress party.
4:25 Skid to a stop before my own house. Pray clients not early.
4:30 Do second shoot, involving a bazillion small children (like seven…or eight.)

Wait.

This might be less stressful if I have Emily ride the bus home. Eliza can stay later.

Then I can have some room to finish shoot and not worry, Emily get off bus, pick up Eliza, get Emily dressed, drop Emily off at party, and do shoot.

No. Not enough time to get Emily dressed.

How about this.

Emily ride bus home. Get her dressed, pick up Eliza at 4. Drive over to party and drop off Emily a bit more early, more time to console upset Eliza, get back at 4:15 and hopefully clients not waiting.

Okay. So now I just have to call the school and notify both teachers I’ve changed the way they go home.

This is the sort of day I’m having.

Don’t get me started about the weekend. It makes this schedule look very very tame.

Irma–so sorry I have to miss your party!
Sean and Tessa–so sorry I have to miss yours too!

It’s not fair, all this stuff happening on top of each other!

Five Christmas parties.
Four shoots with families.
Three upset clients.
Two kid recitals.
One crazy mama.
And a big glass of red wine every day.

Crazy Day

So, I am a photographer at Christmas. Not all photographers have big holiday rushes–those who focus more on weddings or commercial work or models have a big slowdown.

But I photograph kids. So the onslaught begins mid October and is unrelenting until the day I cut them off, which is this weekend.

Because I had such a rough Saturday (five shoots, almost all with multiple kids), I pretty much just stopped and left my work to be taken up again on Monday. I answered no emails, returned no calls, and didn’t update anything.

So if you’ve ever wondered what the first hour of Monday morning during Christmas season might be like for a family photographer, here is mine:

8:30 — Listen to five voicemail messages. Four from the same anxious client not sure when she might ever be able to pick up images. Could I mail them even though she hasn’t paid?
8:35 — Restart 22-hour print job of 250 watercolor cards. 10 hours to go.
8:37 — Open Outlook to find 23 emails, five are new orders.
8:41 — Get interrupted by phone call wanting to redesign cards we made Saturday. Agree to redo them.
8:44 — Begin writing up orders from emails and replying.
8:59 — Phone call from worried client saying husband doesn’t like what they wore in picture, what to do? Promise to crop at shoulders.
9:05 — Back to writing up orders, faster this time.
9:06 — Realize printer silent. WTF! Try to figure out why not printing.
9:09 — Printer pissed about canceling old job on Saturday. Where is work ethic, it asks. I tell it to print or I will toss it out on its ethic. Restart job.
9:11 — Return to writing up orders–even FASTER.
9:14 — Enter orders into Quickbooks.
9:16 — Look over difficult shoot from a few days ago. Try to figure out what to send the lady since she insisted composite images are never believeable and mine would be no exception. But, her kids did not ever stand by each other. Not within five feet, even. Wants card with both kids. Rapidly create new design featuring two separate images. Email it. Hope she approves.
9:28 — Suddenly remember I will not work tomorrow to prepare for photography party. Just promised five clients images will be here by Friday, but not possible unless do all the orders by 2:00 today. Printer senses another work ethic violation and paper jams.
9:30 — Puts head on desk. Rethink whole photography career.

I have a title!

I have been so struggling with this.

I’ve played with babies and angels and mothers and wombs and sorrow and birth and all sort of words. I have pages of combinations but they all came off as too television drama, or nonfiction sounding, or just plain overblown.

This morning I lay in bed, stressing over this, trying again to put together a set of words that would both let people know the topic but also not be too melodramatic. I thought of all the terms that are unique to these women–being pregnant, trying to get pregnant, losing babies, stuck in reproduction woes. I ran down the list of the abbreviations and terms on the site and then I saw it. I knew immediately this was the title.

Baby Dust.

What term could both embody the loss (ashes to ashes, dust to dust) and also the hope (we sprinkle each other with baby dust to encourage a new pregnancy.)

It’s perfect. And I’m very happy about it. I checked Books in Print and it doesn’t yet exist as a title. Joy!

I am about halfway through my outline. I will push hard each week night until the end of NaNo to see if I can get closer to the end. There are many surprises yet in store!

Life and Light Passing

My grandfather died last night. He’s the guy standing on the right side of this picture in the flowered shirt. I took the image in March when we visited their nursing home in Wichita Falls.

He had been in a lot of pain, and just had surgery the week before. He hadn’t been able to eat in weeks. His passing gives him ease from all that.

Tomorrow I assume I will leave town, depending on the day of the funeral. It’s a hard time of year for me–I have 10 holiday shoots booked this weekend plus NaNo, a write-in I was in charge of and a photography class. But these things happen when they do. We rearrange our lives in honor of the lives that passed before us.

I wish before my grandfather died I could have told him to pick up our little baby Casey–well, gosh, I guess he’d be 8 by now and embarrassed by that–so maybe pat him on the shoulder, ruffle his hair. I’m always anxious when someone passes from this world to the next. It’s my chance to send along a message, my love, my missing my babies.

But because of all the good things in this world–love, support, care, empathy, understanding–I’m sure my grandfather already knows.

NaNoWriMo Progress

Despite a foray at the Ren Fair this weekend and a killer photo schedule, I managed to get back on pace for my 50,000 words in November.

The book is going well although chapter two did falter for a while (I started over completely last night), and readership is high over at the novel blog. I feel blessed to be so supported by both the trove of women coming from my miscarriage site to follow the book’s progress as well as all my writer friends. I managed to write almost 3K at Java besides the distractions of the waiter spilling wine in my lap, Brecca’s distress over her rat purchase, and James’ drinking two hefty shots of pancake syrup. Yeah, you can see the video.

My Thanksgiving just got sort of screwed up, so not sure what is going to happen or if I’ll get to travel, but otherwise all is good.

Trick or Drinkin’

This was, hands down, one of the best Halloweens I have had since I was a kid.

I spent much of the day preparing for NaNo, creating an outline and organizing my notecards. Then I picked up the girls and we got all costumed up and met other little Westlake kids to trick or treat in the neighborhood. I had not done this for several years, letting their dad take them. But this year he wanted me to do it, so I packed up my little Belle and Harry Potter’s friend Hermione and headed over to the meeting place.

The moms were emptying a bottle of wine into plastic cups. “Here’s yours!” they called merrily and outfitted me with a good 12 oz glass. “This should get us around the block then we’ll call for reinforcements to run us out another bottle!”

We lined the kids up for a group picture then began walking the block. All the parents waited at the ends of the long walkways as the kids climbed endless steps in the hilly neighborhood. Everyone sported wine or beer or opaque cups with sippin’ straws. One of the women who opened the door glanced up at us. “I see you all are trick or drinkin’!” she called. We toasted her with our white cups and rounded up the kids to push along to the next manicured lawn.

The streets were mobbed and kids called out to each other in every direction. Here everyone knew everyone else. I had forgotten the camaraderie–the genteel sheen glossing every conversation. We did have fun.

After the girls complained their loot had gotten too heavy, I whisked them back to their father to prepare for the kickoff for National Novel Writing Month.

I missed kick off by some three minutes, but settled down and spun out my first two thousand words of the miscarriage novel. I have posted them to the novel blog. I discovered some of the women in other time zones were actually counting down the minutes until I started writing the book! This will be way fun, even though the book will be an undeniably heavy read. It’s only been 12 hours since I posted the first chapter, and 200 people have already surfed over to read it. I have SO got to sell this sucker! They are counting on me!

I worked at Katz’s until 2:30 a.m. and then got my blog updated as well as other minutiae until 4 a.m.

A most extraordinary day! Good luck to all my fellow wrimo friends!

Proud Mama of a Big Brave Rock Climber

I blog so often about little Elizabeth, as she is the diva and the attention grabber of my pair, but two weekends ago, seven-year-old Emily and I went on a mother-daughter camping trip.

Much of the activities were a bit scary even for a second grader–jumping off a huge dock onto a giant inflated raft called the “blob” about the size of an 18-wheeler, swinging off a 50-foot rope into the lake, and even the archery was a bit hard to manage for the girls.

But in one of the sports that sent almost all the girls into paroxysms of fear, Emily kicked some tail–rock climbing.

The camp had set up a rock wall that was a good two stories high. Most of the girls put on the harness and gave it a try, but few got beyond the reach of their mothers. I could see the difficulty, even with the harness you had to both cling to the rocks with your hands and push up on others with your feet while at an angle that felt like you were falling. Many tears were shed; many panicked kids begged to be brought down.

Emily was the third to the last to go. I was a little anxious, as only three girls out of the 15 had managed the climb even partway and only two had reached the buzzer. Emily watched her best friends come right down after going a mere three feet up, but she seemed loose and ready.

I shouldn’t have worried. She no more had her legs in the harness when she began scaling the wall rapidly and methodically, looking up for the next handhold and never glancing at the ground until she pushed the buzzer. When it came time to slide down the rope, she shoved away from the wall and sped down the line so fast even I felt a flutter of panic.

But then she waited her turn and did it again.

That’s my girl!

I Have Been Phantomed!

Yesterday, on the front porch of the house where my kids live, we discovered a white bag covered in Halloween stickers. Inside were Halloween toys, skull pens, Pez, candy, and a note that read:

You have been phantomed!

You must phantom 2 other families!

Here are the rules:

1. Make 2 copies of The Phantom and rules.
2. Hang The Phantom you received in your front window to display that you have been phantomed. Once you have been phantomed, you cannot be phantomed again.
3. Within 48 hours you must phantom 2 other families with a set of rules, a picture of phantom (ghost), and some treats (treats may be cookies, candy, or something that you think the family would like.)
4. Phantoming stops Halloween night!

Signed,
PHANTOM THE GHOST

Normally, I do not like chain letters. I especially hate the ones that warn of dire consequences if you break the chain.

But I like this. It’s easy enough. Make two bags for Halloween and deliver them. No nastiness about breaking the chain. And it’s finite–a clear end-date.

Yesterday Emily and Elizabeth and I picked out treats for the other families. We delivered them easily and ran around looking at windows but didn’t find any others who had been phantomed. I have no idea who started it, or who picked us, but it’s a great idea, and I encourage you to do it too. Emily and Elizabeth had a blast!

Unexpected Glee

I realized earlier today that I should have heard the results of the Abilene Writer’s Guild contest by now, so I surfed over to their page, assuming I had lost but seeing if any of my friends who had entered had won.

I was quite surprised to learn my novel Helena the Muse had won first place in her category!

You think they’d let a girl know such a thing!