We have a new addition to the family: a tiny ball of hyperactive white-and-apricot fur, Sweetie Pie, named for what I called him the first time I held him in the palm of my hand. A hamster topped my daughter's Christmas wish list, and we decided she was old enough to have a pet of her own (as in, she cleans the cage, she feeds and waters him, she watches for illness, etc.)
Instead of waiting until Christmas, we took her to the store a little early and let her choose the one she liked, along with all the hamster cage/food/bedding stuff. This was a typical family event, in which everyone had to go and see and help her decide. Pie seems to be a good pick; he doesn't bite and he sure loves that wheel.
You're nodding off now, I know, but when you consider how screwed up this last year has been for us, a boring family trip to pick out a hamster is something worth celebrating.
It amazes me when I think of how damaged and neurotic we could be, under the circumstances, and aren't. We are steady. We are moving on. We haven't forgotten what has happened, but it hasn't changed us. I watch my kids being kind and affectionate toward each other, or my man (who has had, hands down, the worst happen to him this year) doing something incredibly sweet for me, and I marvel.
When I mail out this mansucript I'm working on next week, I will have written nine books in 2004. I know most people think I write novels in my sleep, but believe it or not, I do go through the same things every other novelist does with each and every book. Well, I don't do that thing where they hate what they write and beat themselves up over it, but you know what I mean.
The main reason I was able to do this is my family. They let me go when I needed to write. They found AAA batteries for my PDA when the power was out during the hurricanes. They went for a ride or a walk when I needed quiet to think. When deadline week arrived, they took over the cooking and cleaning and chores so I could get that particular book done.
There's really nothing in it for them but more work. My writing income does pay for my kids to go to private school, but they're too young to read most of my books. My income also takes half of the family financial burden off their father's shoulders, but the love of my life does not read, period. They have no interest in my novels; they do it for me.
This, combined with a book I've been reading, sank in yesterday morning. Not exactly an "It's a Wonderful Life" moment, but close. Like everyone, I've taken some short side trips on other paths, and I have a pretty good idea of what I might have been, and where I'd have gone, if I'd stayed on them.
Thank God I doubled back to find this road was still open.