Of Maps & Pigs & a Broken Shoe

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At MAKE TIME on Sunday, we made maps of where we are and where we’re heading.

How do you pick out the path amid the chaos?

This time of year is always chaotic in an academic family. We started back to school in mid-August, and the pace hasn’t let up. A month later, deep into September, I find myself gasping for breath, trying to keep my head above water long enough to sight land. At the end of the day, I’m often left feeling hollowed-out and thin enough for the light to shine through.

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I am really excited that I grew muskmelons for the first time ever! But not so excited that I sliced my thumb cutting open the first one. Still, it was delicious.

On Sunday, I hosted my ninth in-house creative retreat. Hanging out with other creative peeps is good medicine for my soul in times like these, and there is something about visual artists in particular that helps me look at the world, and my work, in fresh and wondrous ways. Ella wandered the woods gathering natural treasures for her one-of-a-kind creations (imagine a craft fair in Lothlorien and you will have some idea of what she does). Sarah painted the landscape from the hilltop. It was all very artsy and lovely and heart-swellingly serene. And then the uninvited guest showed up.

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This is Violet. Violet, it turns out, is my next door neighbor and a part-time escape artist.

I spent much of the day, and the ensuing few days, in entertaining this surprise visitor before we figured out where she belonged and got her back there. In the meantime, I did a LOT of poop-scooping and discovered that to a pig, a dismantled above-ground pool is a super-nifty sleeping bag. My husband discovered what it is like to wrestle a 100+ pound pig into the back of a pickup and gained a healthy respect for those dudes in the Middle Ages who hunted boar.

Arguably the most exciting moment of the week for me was a full request from an agent for a manuscript I have only just put out into the query world. Outside of teaching and caring for kiddos and critters, I’ve spent every waking moment getting my submission ready. I sent it off yesterday evening. To the wrong email address. And then to the right one. Fingers and piggy-toes crossed.

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My shoe under a desk. With dragons. Because dragons.

It’s felt like a month of “if it can go wrong it will.” Or “if it can possibly be more chaotic it will.” It’s been the kind of month where I get to school and realize that my shoe is broken. Heel-coming-halfway-off-so-you-can-hardly-walk broken. Gorilla-Glue-your-shoe-and-clamp-it-under-the-weight-of-your-desk-during-your-planning-period broken.

It’s been a pig-in-the-yard, broken-shoe, crazy-massive-revision, overgrown-garden, hyperactive-dogs-who-really-need-a-walk, what-the-heck-is-for-supper kind of month. A Thursday-blog-post-dashed-off-on-Friday month.

But there is beauty even in this chaos.

I have learned that a pig is a lovely laundry companion. That Gorilla Glue is all it’s cracked up to be. That left to their own devices, my children will dismantle an entire playset. I have re-learned (I have to re-learn it every. single. time) the pleasures of revision. I have a new submission out in the world.

It’s going to be okay.

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What loveliness have you found in the chaos?

Deep peace of the snoring pig to you.

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6 thoughts on “Of Maps & Pigs & a Broken Shoe

  1. As a teacher for much of my life, I so sympathize. Yes, this is the time of chaos, and Thanksgiving comes always as too little too late. However, even your chaos sounds like a lot of fun and there are definitely traces of a path. Think manuscript. Think pig-red herring or path?

    1. Yes, Sybille! You have given me a new mantra: “The pig is the path.” 😀 It is always so good to connect with other teacher-people who truly understand the madness!

    1. What is it with this month?? I will definitely keep you posted. I have a feeling that when I finally find an agent, you will hear the celebrating all the way on the other side of the continent. 😀

  2. What a lovely, lovely post. Hip hip hooray for manuscript magic! Got all my fingers and toes virtually crossed for you!

    I confess I have a little less of September adjustment than I have in past years, when the son was still in school and I was still in charge of transport. And, it used to be one of the busiest months at a job I no longer have…..so, now I need to just witness and shift my own self a bit with the partner’s (teacher) September mayhem; and now have the blessing of witnessing some of the more subtle shifts (light, temperature, texture of the breezes, foliar color) in my favorite time of year.

    But September IS a transitional month, no doubt about it!

  3. Thanks so much!

    It’s lovely to hear from someone who’s been through the September craziness and is now able to drink in all the nuance, the angles of light. Good fodder for writing!

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