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You Gotta Fight for Your Write

What a year it has been! It's amazing how a baby pops into your life and completely rearranges all your priorities. For example, who knew that I can survive without social media? It's funny how my Facebook feed and my blog have an inverse relationship to how interesting my life is--when a lot is going on, I don't have time to post about it. I used to notice the same thing with journaling as a teenager. (Remember those days before social networks and texting--even before Instant Messenger and even before everyone had email? When kids passed notes in class and wrote in journals with tiny locks on them? Journals filled with nonsense about cute boys and TV shows and only brief mentions of really important things two months after they occurred?)

But through it all, I've managed to add or swap a few words from my first chapter here and there. For anything I can write this year, anything at all during this first year of motherhood, I'm giving myself extra credit. My most important goal as a writer this year is to try to absorb everything, be in the moment, and learn life lessons while fighting the good fight for a teeny bit of writing time just to keep in practice.

At this very moment, Nux Gallica is taking a nap, and I'm too pooped to clean the house, so it's time for a long overdue update on the Nutshell. Stuff that has been more important than blogging includes:

The Bad and the Ugly

Bicycle Anxiety: One of Mr. G's greatest challenges during my pregnancy was that I didn't allow him to ride his bike to work. He needed to have a car with him at all times just in case I needed him. Now that he's back on two wheels, both he and our roommate, the Baked Chef, have had some rough rides. The Lansing area has been making great progress toward becoming bike-friendly, but it still has a long way to go.

The Baked Chef got himself a spiffy new hipster bike and skinny jeans, the better to do stupid tricks in the road. He spray painted his wheels hot pink, handmade a houndstooth cover for his seat, and bought this crazy tiny speaker that pumps out earth-shaking dubstep while he shows off for the passersby. As a result, he has come home cheerfully bloodied on a regular basis. Of course he doesn't wear a helmet, because that would be a terrible waste of a mohawk, and what's one more concussion on top of the last 15 or 20, right?

However, even the Baked Chef was a bit shaken the day he rode his bike to work and was charged by a stray pit bull in the street. He managed to fend the dog off for awhile. He yelled and threw stuff and guarded himself with the bike, but the dog kept attacking. Then, the classy owner of the dog finally came out of his house and said, "Don't yell at my dog!" and egged on the dog to attack more. At which point the Baked Chef pulled *my* Kryptonite bike lock out of his bag and smashed the dog's skull in. He fled to work and called the police, who didn't follow up but basically thanked him for dispatching one of Lansing's many neighborhood-terrorizing fighting dogs. Ever since, I have been waiting for Mr. Dogfight to find the Baked Chef in an alley somewhere and seek vengeance. Ah, Lansing.

But it's far more likely he will be crushed in some kind of horrific accident, because those happen to cyclists all the time around here. Just last week, the Baked Chef came home with a bloody face after being run off the road into a tree by some texting girl in an SUV.

As if the Baked Chef's adventures aren't enough for me to worry about, Mr. G, my husband and the father of my baby, who always wears a helmet and proper cycling gear and doesn't do stupid tricks in the street, nevertheless got into an awful wreck on the way to work one day and ended up in the hospital.

Baby Nux Gallica didn't recognize her daddy when he came home and was very upset. It was heartbreaking. It was also face-breaking. Seems like every time I turn around, Mr. G and the Baked Chef have a few more scars, a few more chips in their teeth, and repeatedly rearranged noses. Luckily, when I was pregnant, we purchased supplemental accidental injury insurance! Except...

Baby Scams: I had Pollyanna-ishly ignored the fact that insurance companies love it when women have babies, because it's the perfect opportunity to deny or ignore claims, relying upon our vulnerable position to ensure we won't argue! As soon as Nux Gallica was born, our health insurance company, usually excellent, sent us some bills for expensive but routine pregnancy tests that they had denied without giving a reason. I called the medical lab, which informed me that my particular insurance company had stopped paying for those tests for all women at the end of their pregnancies and refused to give a reason. I looked up the insurer's policy, and it clearly stated that they did cover the tests they had refused to pay for. So I sent a registered mail letter demanding an explanation (registered so they couldn't pretend they didn't receive the letter, which is their routine way of handling appeals), and lo and behold, the insurance company sent me a letter saying I was absolutely right, paid the claim, and would not say why they had denied it in the first place.

Likewise, when it came time to make a small claim to cover a fraction of Mr. G's medical expenses from this bike accident, the supplemental insurance company let us know that they were understaffed and couldn't process anyone's claims anytime soon. So, we asked, can we just cash in our cash value insurance account and call it quits? No, they said. Even though it was never stated to us in writing, the people on the phone said they wouldn't give us any money until we had paid four years' worth of premiums, and even then, it would only be a paltry fraction of the total paid.

That's a straight up scam! Word to the wise: Don't be fooled like me and buy whole life insurance. EVER. It's a complete scam, and you can't win, even if your spouse dies tragically. They'll probably take advantage of your grief and confusion to try and pull one over on you. Sick but true--insurance companies work in the interest of their stakeholders, not their customers. That's how the money is made--by denying claims or illegally breaking contracts. I KNOW this, but I blame the pregnancy hormones for causing the delusion that everyone is my friend, including that nice insurance salesman. So, from now on, we're on our own when it comes to personal injury. Which leads me to...

MILFy Workout Injury: Nux Gallica absolutely hates it when I work out, because she has an attention span of about 30 seconds, and even if I use her as a weight or dance with her in my arms, she gets bored way before I even get my heart rate up. So I've gotten a bit out of shape this summer.

Miss Moppet kindly lent me a few of her super awesome belly dance workout DVDs, so I told Nux Gallica to buck up, and I popped in Veena and Neena's Bellydance Fitness for Beginners - Arms, Abs, Hips, Buns & Thighs. The "basic moves" segment went just fine, but when I tried the cardio workout the next day, which consists of jumping up and down on the balls of your feet for an eternity without a break, I tore something in my left calf and couldn't walk right. For about a week, I was stumping around like Frankenstein because I was unable to lift my left heel off the ground.

The only way I could walk right was by wearing high heels so my feet were already extended. Mr. G thought it was hot that I wore tall shoes all week. I felt like a Barbie doll--all stiff, rubbery legs with feet that don't flex. The injury might have been a good excuse to sit down, skip the chores, and do some writing and blogging, except...

The Good Stuff

Friends! There was a whole week this month when every day after work, an old friend popped by and either made us dinner or took us out to eat. And anyone who says no to dinner with an old friend on a summer evening so they can sit alone and write is insane.

Family! Fans! My parents and brother have generously spent a lot of time at our house this summer, helping us do things like install new ceiling fans and clean up our jungle of a yard.

Fun with Baby! Nux Gallica is at an exciting stage full of giggles and food-smearing and crawling everywhere. We've had to do lots of baby-proofing and adjusting to new routines and activity levels. We had about a month of sleepless nights when the little Nut decided she wouldn't sleep apart from Mommy. Thank goodness she's doing a good job of sleeping through the night by herself again. Mommy and Daddy could barely drive to work and form complete sentences, let alone do stuff like write books.

And there is more, so much more, but a genie needs to keep a little mystery about her. In the meantime, I am grabbing moments here and there--while pumping milk, early in the morning, late in the evening after Nux Gallica has gone to bed--and writing, often on good old-fashioned paper. I don't want to become one of those people who identifies as a "writer" but who doesn't actually write anything.

So tell me, parents and other busy people, how do YOU fight for your write?



    reading this about gave me a panic attack. What a summer!

  2. Holy crap, biking in your city is terrifying! What a busy summer for y'all indeed!

    Also: your baby is so cute! *cue ovary explosion*

    (As for the writing question: dear lord, I have no idea. I go through spurts where I feel like I get tons done and it's amazing, and other times I feel like I never do anything.)

  3. Wow, busy busy! It's really great to hear you're doing! And your little doll is absolutely adorable. Sounds like you're doing a great job keeping up with the craziness of life. I hope your hubby stays safer. :(

    My little one never, ever let me exercise when she was younger. Even now she just wants to help me out and she gets in the way. Writing is hard, even now as she's almost five years old. I usually just stay up way late to fit it all in. No sleep for momma.

  4. I'm completely and utterly impressed with your persistence. I'm having a hard time squeezing in writing around work and school. You're doing it with that adorable baby of yours. You are officially my hero. And maybe some sort of rock star, too.

    The story about the pit bull made me kind of grumpy, I must admit. I'm glad your friend is okay, but it makes me sad that these dogs have such bad reps because of the way their owners treat and train them. I grew up with pit bulls and, when raised right, they are seriously the most loving and loyal dogs I've ever known. If only these assholes that fight them would knock it off, people would realize that...

  5. Esperanzita, you know how we roll up here in the 517. Not all of us can afford to immigrate to Mexico for a better life, okay?? ;)

    Ashley, the explosion of your innards is appreciated. She is cute, isn't she?

    Michelle, I was afraid someone was going to say that. I never realized how little sleep I could function on before having a baby. College has nothing on motherhood!

    Meika, thank you! I feel a little like a rock star, as in perpetually exhausted and hungover, except that I'm not actually hungover and I was feeding and changing all night instead of partying.

    The pit bull thing is sad. The dog was definitely a victim in that situation (the owner, not the dog, being the villain), and the Baked Chef felt terrible for killing the dog. Dogs of any breed behave according to how they are trained. Obviously this one was trained for violence. Because pit bulls were bred to fight, that's what most of their owners want them for--if not for actual dogfighting or attacking people, then for 'hood status and intimidation. Pit bull attacks in Lansing are rampant. It seems like every other week I hear about police shooting a pit bull that has been terrorizing an elementary school or killing neighbors' dogs. Pit bulls are sort of like weapons--they don't cause the problems all by themselves, but they're very dangerous in the wrong hands. I'm VERY disappointed that the police did not follow up with the owner of the dog and make sure he is not abusing other animals.

  6. It IS very disappointing that the police didn't follow up. How do they expect to make any progress on this situation if they're not even going to the source of the trouble - the owners? I'm very vocal about the pit bull issue, but no matter how much I talk up this breed, it does no good if there are people out there abusing them this way. I'd like to round them up and make THEM fight!

  7. Really. There should be gladiator rings for the dudes who fight dogs. People can bet on them, and all the winnings go to animal shelters. There's a fun short story idea.

  8. Oh my darling GotS, I sometimes forget that the 517 is rough and tumble. But when I get angry, offended, am insulted or become otherwise aghast the hood comes pouring out. Rap Snacks!

    As far as the pit bull incident-people who abuse animals (this includes creating beast monsters out of noble creatures no matter what breed) deserve nothing less than a slow and painful death. I went to a dog shelter opening a few weeks back and the woman who was sort of the driving force behind getting the shelter up and running said something that was so touching I cried a bunch-thinking of my own crabby pants poochie.

    "People say that dogs are a part of history. This is not true. Dogs *are* history, they are our history, and they are our future as well."

    The way you treat a dog is part of who your are as a human being, I truly believe. Anyone who mistreats a dog is not someone I want to be around, ever. The same goes for idiots who run my lovies off of the road! Shove off! Take their licenses and make them ride about town and throw a car on them so they can see how it feels! UGH!

  9. Oh hon, I'm so sorry you hurt your leg with Veena and Neena! Those videos are no good.

  10. Miss M, I like the Basic Moves part of the Veena and Neena DVD. And I should have known about the calf injury, because it occurred to me later that I had done the entire cardio workout a couple years ago on YouTube, and the SAME THING happened. I blame Mom Brain.


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