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650E3845-351D-46D9-A4FB-20D4AC733C3BThe cleaners were here this morning.  When they come to clean, I retreat to a coffee shop, indulge in breakfast and latte, and plan a day.  Then, I library-ed, paying a fine before taking out paper books and books on CD.  Two travel books on Australia, another Percy Jackson for Julia, an Annie Lamont and some memoir for me.  Then, home again for my regular round.

The near-daily round was instituted to get me writing daily—Italian practice, fiction and spiritual reading, meditation, gratitude journal.  I give myself credit for house work and Julia related email.  All in warm up for some pretty awful first draft fiction. <Gulp> I accept the awfulness and keep going.  Day after day.  Every so often I look back and find a word, a phrase, once a sentence that could be included in a second draft.  Oh, I have so much ability to produce dreck.

The story, according to the outline and what just appears on the screen and follows its own rules, is fluid.  I carry the baggage of going through this process before and failing to carry my baby full term. In order to do this work, I limit my out-of-the-house life, seeing fewer friends, taking on fewer challenges, even doing less journaling.  It comes down to Julia, mindfulness work and the writing.  In Spring, gardening. The work eats time.  It is an incredible indulgence, dark chocolate almond bark with a very high cocoa content.  It does not always result in exhilaration.  Rarely does it result in exhilaration.  Most of the time, I slog through.  I worry that I am wasting time, that I don’t have the chops to finish the task at all.  I know that spending so much time doing the work, I am a duller conversationalist.  I have nothing to talk about and I ask fewer questions. However, a few months ago, I came to the conclusion that I am happier trudging along the mucky path to narrative creation than skipping down any well paved yellow brick road.

And so, I will be complaining and crowing, looking distracted or smug on these pages.  Forgive me, if my self-indulgence becomes obnoxious.

Julia is the train that chugs along side me, many times passing, leaving me in the dust.  Some of her catch up.

She did great collecting her Honor Roll certificate for first semester.  She was able to go up on the stage when her name was called, take the certificate and shake hands, and stand with her classmates until dismissed to go back to her seat.  We have been practicing standing still during out morning meditation time.  I can’t be sure the practice is taking root but she looked great standing up there.

Julia finally got her new glasses!  Long story, she broke the old ones, the frames couldn’t be repaired, she was due for a lens change relatively soon and I decided to see the eye doc sooner and get new lens and frames in one swoop.  Our doc is in Chicago and really busy on weekends when we usually see her, so, we had to wait almost a month.  During the month, I discovered how much Julia needs her glasses!   Cello seemed to get harder to practice every day — not easy to squint, get close to the music and bow a cello at the same time.  I should have taken an earlier appointment during the week and just taken her out of school. Oy, bad call!

She picked out glasses that “look like my Dad’s.”  And it’s true, they do.  Funny thing is that by the time Julia met David, he had his Lasik surgery and no longer wore glasses.  However, in most pictures that she has seen, David has glasses on.  And so, there is a blending of the Daddy she knew and the one in our family photos.  Memory is fascinating.

Julia’s interest in friends continues and she continues to mess up, judge situations badly and expect too much.  She texted someone who gave her their phone number.  The girl answered, saying she was busy and Julia replied that her feelings were hurt by that response.  And today, she told me how these girls she liked were ignoring her.  She also complained to her speech therapist today that the work sheets about friendship don’t help.  We talk endlessly about what is working and what is not.  Not much in the former category. She also lets me critique her texts. I am trying to convince her to text her sister often.  Baby steps!

Cheer is over for the year — no one to cheer for during spring.  The team had a end of the year banquet on Tuesday.  The girls met for dinner and parents came in afterwards for dessert and awards.  When I came in, Julia was sitting alone playing with her phone and I reminded her that she was missed an opportunity for practice.  Just because she wants to friend practice, doesn’t mean she always does it.

Julia was somewhat disappointed that she didn’t get a letter—who knew she knew what those were?  The freshmen team that was formed for the winter season was not eligible for letters but did get certificates with charms attached.  If they do cheer for another season, next year at this time, they will get letters and be able to pin their first year charms onto the letter.  Julia was also called up with another girl to be recognized for her wonderful spirit.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her so happy as she bounded up and hugged the coach.  Watching her want this approval and then reacting so typically when she gets approval demonstrates how quickly she is coming to new understanding.  Now, if I can only get her to return every hi and hello said to her with eyes on the speaker, a smile and a greeting.  We work on it!

One sad note, the cheer coach will not be coming back.  Jessica has been wonderful to Julia, always encouraging and positive. Watching and listening to Jessica at the banquet it is clear that she has built personal relationships with many, many of the kids on the team and they are dear to her.  Earlier in the season, she pulled the team from all cheering when some of the cheerleaders were called names and bullied by those attending sports events.  Jessica inspires the team to do its best and protects her kids in every way that she can.  She does not, however, feel like she has gotten support from the school or the district and I think that has worn her down.  I hope her policies of caring, compassion, inclusion and diversity carry over for next year.  Julia expects to be cheering.