Wonder 57

It’s true what they say about healing and time. I made it through the day. Tanner came home from school. Then I made it through the next day, and the one after that, and the one after that, and pretty soon, when Tanner headed into school, I headed into the clinic. We rode the ferry together each morning.

Slowly, a steady routine, my cheerful, quirky son, and the persistent beauty of the sunlight on the bay every morning, every evening, bore through the grief.

My heart still aches. That pit called loss still opens up before me now and again, usually when I least expect it. But I’m no longer stone inside, and I can smile.

Tanner brought home a school project. It’s for extra credit. He’s such a smart kid, but he’s having a tough time at school. He can’t get his grade up over a C.

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I don’t understand it. His teacher referred him to the counselor, who referred him to a psychologist, who gave him an IQ test. “His scores are off the charts,” the psychologist reported back. They enrolled him in the gifted program. He still kept bringing home Cs.

I’m not worried. I know life is more than a letter grade, and not all forms of intelligence fit into a classroom with desks arranged in little rows. I’ve been thinking of transferring him to the Open School in Windenburg, but he says he wants to stay in his school with his friends.

“Teacher says if I do good on this project I’ll get a good grade,” he said. “Will you help?”

Of course! Working on a project with my boy? What could be better!

We set it up in the meadow at the side of the house.

“It’s supposed to be a castle,” Tanner said.

“So,” I replied. “We are making a castle out of air!”

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“No,” he said. “We’ve got stuff.”

I looked at the little jars of paint, the dowels, the stacks of styromfoam, the glue gun, and an adorable little vice. “All of this was in that box?”

He nodded.

“No wonder it was so heavy!”

“You know? I think I’ve got a circuit board. What if we made an electric draw-bridge that went up and down when you pushed a button?”

“Could we?” he asked. “That’d be so great!”

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I brought out the stuff we needed.

“So, it should be the kind of thing that I can push the button even if I’m across the room. Can we do that?” he asked.

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I thought we could.

“You’re the best dad!” he said.

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I don’t know if it was the concentrating on getting the circuitry to work or seeing how happy and excited Tanner was, or just doing a project together in the sunny meadow. but I suddenly realized that I was happy. Genuinely, positively happy.

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We had a blast. The first circuit board I rigged up exploded! We had clouds of instant paper mache dust.

“This is great!” Tanner said. “Can we do it again?”

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I said that big explosions weren’t really historically accurate, and then Tanner started talking about big giant dragon farts, and, even though it was so stupid, I couldn’t stop laughing.

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Eventually, as the sun was getting lower, we got down to the business of constructing the thing.

“OK,” Tanner said. “We gotta do good. Like really pay attention to every detail. No extra glue drips, OK? Like Super-Tastic-Builders!”

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So that’s what we were, The Super-Tastic Construction Crew.

I’ve got to admit: the castle looked great when we finished, and the drawbridge really worked–no explosions!

Tanner said we should celebrate with a song. So we made one up on the spot, complete with a dance.

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Super-Tastic One!

Super-Tastic Two!

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Super-Tastic Me!

Super-Tastic You!

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I’ll check the wind, and

you check the rain, and

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And when we’re done, 

We’ll do it over again!

“And watch out for dragon farts!” Tanner said.

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Oh, man. It feels great to laugh again, in a wide meadow, with the sun setting, and the mockingbird singing, and my boy joking.

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Author’s note: Oh, look! Wonder is back! For new readers who’ve come to this blog in the past year, this story follows Charlie Rocca Cups, a wonder child, now grown up. He’s recently adopted a son, Tanner. He’s also recently moved through a tough season of grief, as good friends, his aunt, his mom, and his father have passed on in a short span of time. And for readers who’ve been around longer, I hope you remember Charlie! It feels great for me–and for Charlie–to be rediscovering how bright life can be when grief’s shadows begin to recede.

Aimless: Take a Breath!

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One year ago, I was put in charge of a big project at work that would take this entire year to complete. On the one hand, I felt inspired: It was a project we’d been wanting to do for over fifteen years, and we finally were able to! On the other hand, I felt some dread: This project would demand most of my organizational and creative energy.

My mixed feelings stemmed from realizing that to give the project what it needed to succeed, I’d have to scale back my creative activities with SimLit. It wasn’t a matter of time so much as energy. Before embarking on this project, my work days were filled with detail-oriented work that asked for a tiny portion of my brain power–so while I coded and posted and proofread and resized and optimized, most of my mind was free to wander, and that wandering is how I create my SimLit stories.

In addition to the excitement of the project, I felt a bit of grief: How much of my writing would I have to let go of?

I reached out to my friends on the EA Forums who frequent the Kindness Bench.

The advice and suggestions I received from them filled me with hope, enthusiasm, and faith that I’d be able to make it through this, keep up with my writing as much as I could, and return when the project allowed.

I probably read more SimLit this past year than previously because reading was something that kept me going and fueled me before I headed into the office for the busy, stressful afternoon.

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And I made it through it! Often during this past year, when I was feeling frustrated by the stories inside me that wanted expression–but which I didn’t have the right energy to express–and even by those seed that were waiting to be watered, I remembered my friends and their advice.

If a busy high school student can balance her academic, creative, personal, and interscholastic activities with her writing, I could, too. If some of my friends gained energy and enthusiasm when they had to take forced breaks, maybe I would, too! If one friend is able to take advantage of the little moments that appear for writing each day, maybe that would work for me. If another friend assures me that readers will still be here if I need to take a break, I’ll trust her.  If yet another friend can manage to balance grad school with her creative SimLit activities, then surely I can handle this! And if my virtual sister is there to offer support and step in to help with our forum activities, then I knew I could get through it.

It was a tough year–especially the last few months.

But we made it. I kept writing. I found projects that worked with the quality and quantity of energy I had and that didn’t demand the energy I lacked.

And now, here I am on the other side!

For a year, I’ve been looking forward to this particular weekend! And here I am!

The project is a success overall–still tons more to do with it, and a million-and-one details to attend to, but it will work out, and I will likely not be fired, and the support from a handful of coworkers comes close to making up for the lack of support from the administration. And it makes a lot of people’s lives a lot nicer and it helps families and our organization, too. So, a success overall.

And that leaves me… here. I don’t yet know what I’ll focus on with my writing. My plan is to continue with Forgotten Art (which is part of the Pen Pal Project) and Vampire Code, while circling back and finishing a few projects that are close to completion, like Drifter. I’ve also begun a Murkland Starter Challenge, Through a Glass Murkly, which is hosted on its own blog.

I can feel that my creative well has been pretty well drained, but I can also feel vernal springs bubbling to fill it up again.

What a time for thanks! For gratitude for friends, and creativity, and life, and opportunities.

What a time to pause and breathe!

Vadish!  I look forward to whatever is next, and I hope you’re here to read with me!

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