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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

what vacation?

I am up north this week with the girls and my mom and grandpa and my older sister and her fiancé. (Up north is what we say in Minnesota to mean anything north of the Twin Cities.)

On Saturday, I led my “Writing Family” workshop in Park Rapids, and it was so much fun. Out of the 21 participants, 3 were men. Men in class—who knew? I haven’t had a man in one of my classes since I taught at the University of Minnesota. And really, those undergraduates weren’t really men yet—they inhabited that nebulous space between boyhood and manhood. Something like being a pre-teen, I guess. Pre-man?

Anyway, it was fun on Saturday to have a little thoughtful, writerly testosterone in class.

We covered a lot of ground in 3 ½ hours: we discussed the use of concrete details and how to develop three-dimensional characters, strong scenes and believable dialogue. We also discussed ways for them to tap into their reflexive voices. They wrote a lot, and they were good. It’s so inspiring for me to sit in a room with a group of people writing at the same time. You can almost see the creativity rising like steam from their bent heads. It made me excited to begin my fall Mother Words class.

I would like to say that I’m now spending the rest of the week relaxing, but it’s not very relaxing to be out of town with my two darling girls but not with D. He’s home, working, and feeling bad that he’s not up here with us. As a former teacher, it’s been very hard on him (and me) that he’s working so much this summer. We’re used to coming up here for a couple of weeks every summer. Every morning he would golf, then play with Stella in the afternoon, and fish in the evening. (And we would cuddle and go for walks and sometimes sneak into town for a movie, just the two of us.) But now he’s at home, working ten to twelve hour days. And when he gets home from work, he’s been working around the house: re-grouting the bathroom window and assembling the crib in Stella’s room. (Zoë has been in a co-sleeper in our room up until now.) He’s talking about painting the porch, as well, but that seems excessive.

So I’m up here and it’s gorgeous, but I miss D and I miss his help. My family members, and especially my mom, are so helpful with Stella and Zoë, but I always feel as though they are doing me a huge favor—which they are—by taking Stella down to the beach or walking Zoë until she falls asleep. I don’t feel I can say, “Hey, can you watch both of my kids while I go down to the dock and read?” And I know it can be hard to have a very active almost-five-year-old constantly saying, “Auntie Sara, Auntie Sara, Auntie Sara, look at me, look at me!” Not to mention how hard it can be on people’s nerves to have a screaming baby around.

Speaking of my screaming baby, she is now sleeping sounding in her stroller next to me, and maybe I’ll even have time to finish this post before she wakes up. The little dear is five months old today, and this seems impossible. How did it happen so quickly? (The days don’t go quickly, mind you—they are sometimes excruciatingly slow. But the weeks and months seem to fly by. That funny trick of time—how elastic and changeable it is.)

Zoë loves to grab for things now, especially when I am trying to feed her rice cereal or mashed blueberries and apples. The food gets everywhere, and when I try to loosen her vice grip on the spoon, she lets out a piercing pterodactyl cry and glares at me. I sense that she will be just as stubborn as her sister. Where did this come from, this steel will? Hmmm.

Ah, I can hear her now, waking up, so I’ll sign off and post this now or it will be days before I get back to it.


Andria said...

"The days are long, but the years go by fast." So they say.

I can totally empathize with family help being wonderful, but not like Daddy's help. You always feel indebted.

~Denise~ said...

I do hope you get to head down to the dock and read some.

Time, does indeed, go fast when you aren't looking, and slow when you are.

Ines said...

I know this very well. Thank you for sharing this with us, Kate. I love your writing... have you thought (any)more about offering a webinar for us that don't live close by?

kate hopper said...


Ines, I am going to do an online version of Mother Words beginning in January. I'll send you details as soon as I work everything out.

Ines said...

I am already grateful (full?)...

Anonymous said...

elastic time. yes indeed. i can't believe she's five months either!

i hope you get some time for dock reading, it sounds just about perfect.