Final Grades, Flowers, and Mother’s Day Beauty

I spent a few hours today looking back at novels I started and wanted to pick back up. I got so lost in one that I added 3,000 words, not noticing how mentally tired I was until I walked away. (3,000 words is about 10 double spaced pages, FYI.) One of the hobbies that continues to make me happy pre- and post-attack is gardening. And my husband continually supports my plant whims and impulse buys. Over the weekend, it was Emperor Wu hostas. I had never seen them in a store before, and they could be mine for $10. They are the largest known hosta variety and exactly what I needed to make a shady back corner feel more lush, tropical, and inviting. Giant 4-5 foot tall hostas might do that. Or they might make it feel like I’ve stepped into Jurassic World. Either way, I really don’t mind.

My final grades got posted, and I am beyond excited. Y’all, I managed to get an A in organic chemistry 2. In fact, I got a 4.0 in cell bio, organic chemistry 2, microbiology, and all of their respective labs! The A in organic is what really flabbergasted me. I adored the biology classes and could read biology textbooks for fun, but I had to work at organic chemistry.

My husband has been with us for three Mother’s Days now. One, we’d barely begun dating. The next, we were newlyweds. And now, I think we’re comfortable and finally know more about who we both are. I was told to go sit upstairs and read on Saturday by my plotting daughter. I read, but I do have superhearing, courtesy of the PTSD. And I heard the sewing machine whirring and wondered what they were plotting. On Mother’s Day, my family gifted me with chocolates (a tried and true, much beloved option) and my daughter had been sewing me a constellation-covered pillow case. Ben bought me plants because he knows anxiety simply can’t survive the thrill of putting a new plant where it will thrive and be beautiful.

But the things that made me happiest were the cards that my family all wrote messages in. My kids are all old enough to say heartfelt things in cards now, and I love it. My eyes roam over the ink, and I soak it in. And for a bonus, we got to hike with a dear friend and her family to a local destination. My kids trudged through 8 miles, four downhill, four uphill. And we saw a few wonders–hundreds of tadpoles, many wildflowers, waterfalls, and huge butterflies. But mostly, I adored my kids seeing new places and experiencing the world. We were all exhausted, but happy.

Back to Writing/Life Update

I am back to my writing–finally. The pandemic was a terrible time for so many people, but for me it was a chance to heal. Just a few months after my attack, the whole world shut down. And the expectations that I would be able to pick up my life as it was disappeared. I’m more grateful for covid lockdowns than most people. I thrived in the isolation with my family and my hobbies and work.

I often tell my daughter that people can be more than one thing. And I have been furiously working to be many things–author, mother, and medical doctor. I went back to school during the lockdown, and it’s been a wild ride. (Everyone needs a biology degree and chemistry minor along with a medical degree to accompany their English degrees, right?) My poetry has become more infused with science than ever–who else is going to write about DNA cleaving enzymes and people that are like ligase? At my core, I want to heal people, physically when they need it and with stories when their minds need a refuge. The little explosion turning my wheels is knowing that people feel less alone when they read truths laid bare by people like them.

And people I meet usually want to put me in a little box that says “Author” or “Aspiring Doctor”. But I’m not having it. Both sides of a brain can work and make beautiful art.

I received rave reviews on my latest poetry book from beta readers and am still reading it, searching for errors that will haunt me if I publish them. And I worked on creating my own cover. I don’t know if you adore ironic juxtaposition, but I do. And poetry books so often have big blocky titles that scream “High Literature”. I just can’t take myself that seriously. I could be the poet laureate and that wouldn’t happen. Or they have the face of a well known, beloved poet. That’s when you’ve made it, right? When you put your face on a poetry book and people think it’s natural? I’m looking at you, Mary Oliver and Nikki Giovanni. But my little book is full of contradictions, the kind that Southerners know about, the sorts that run society and confuse non-natives. So, I put my title in swirly romance novel font with a Gothic cemetery in the background. It’s not a mistake. I want you to feel as jarred as I did, too stubborn to die, but furious that ordinary beautiful things like sunrises kept happening.

And if you’re looking for more of that deliciously Southern ironic juxtaposition with a streak of science, Hell and High Water is on sale for $0.99.