I do most of my writing while sitting on my sofa. On the opposite wall hangs a small oil painting I received on my fifth anniversary. The painting is of a small child--a toddler, probably--at the nape of his mother's neck. I love this painting. Love it.
So much of my writing is about young children and mothers, because that's where I am in life. Young (or not so young) mothers and very young children fill my mornings and days. I love this time of life.
I think most Bacon families refer to their little ones as Bits. It's cute, right? When our children were hypothetical, we referred to them as the Bits too. Then we got pregnant, and each child earned her own little nickname, and now they each have several.
Here, though, I don't want to use new nicknames, even cutesy ones referring to other portions of the swine. Neither one is a ham. My husband would be, what? The spare rib? (Get it? I sometimes think I'm hilarious, you know.) Maybe a subsequent baby could be the rump instead of caboose, but nothing else really fits.
For now, since I love numbers, I'll refer to my family by birthdate, 2008 and 2010 for the girls and 1977 for my spouse. I can't really preserve my own anonymity here, but since you asked, I was born in 1975.
I feel empty. We've just undecked our halls, and the tree left a gaping hole in our living room. Soon, toys and books and craft projects will fill that hole (it's a tiny house, after all) but I really miss Christmas year round. I don't necessarily miss the squabbles over gingerbread house treats or the constant demands of our (awesome!) advent calendar or the Santa-Santa-Santa of the season. And my book case is happy to be relieved of the stockings (Yes, book cases are plentiful at the Bacon Haus.)
This winter isn't particularly cold or dreary (yet) but I need that extra spark of twinkle lights.
I crave Christmas during pregnancy. Some women crave pickles. Some would do anything for hot cocoa, but I crave Christmas music. Maybe that's how I do my nesting.
My nest feels a little empty without that tree.
I lived in Ohio until I was 27, and since I moved out I have found dozens of smart people who confuse Ohio with Iowa.
To be fair, the states do look similar. If you rotate Iowa clockwise 90 degrees and pull on its straight edges a bit, Iowa could be Ohio's emaciated little brother.
Now, I like the Hawkeye state. Its small towns are charming, and small cities are grand. Its people are progressive; they were among the first states to prohibit racial discrimination (though its population is still more than 95% white). The corn is divine. Donna Reed hails from Iowa. Buffalo Bill and Ann Landers, too.
We midwesterners tend to stick together, but I am not from Iowa.
I love Iowans' passion for politics. At one point in my life--the most politically active, gung-ho period I'll call my 20s--I would have loved a front-row seat for the political caucuses. Today, watching the circus that is the Republican caucus, I'm proud that I played no part in them.
I could live happily in Iowa City, but I do not live there.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm obsessive. Whether I'm focused on finding the perfect birthday present or organizing an area of the house or starting a new business, I attack projects with a singular focus.
I also am freakishly particular about maintaining lists.
It will come as no surprise, then, that when we decided to have children I maintained a spreadsheet of 2056 baby names. (You know I'm not making up that number, because it's not prime.) In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I'd been maintaining lists of favorite baby names since college, or perhaps high school. Once we were ready to actually consider naming real people, I threw my lists into excel and added the most popular baby names for the past few decades. I added a column for our last name. (Because I like Beatrice, but Beatrice Bacon is a mouthful.) And then I rated them. I send my top 100 to my husband via email and he whittled the list to a couple dozen, and we worked from there.
My spouse nixed some of my favorite names: Cecelia, Genevieve, Gretchen, Mabel, Penelope, Emmett, Felix. I really had to let go of Nina and Vivian and Hector, and in some sense that was difficult.
The fact is, we were looking for four names, max--eight names if you include middles--and I had nearly 100 names that I liked. That's one thing I love about writing. I will never have my own Natalie, but two characters just chose that name for their daughter. There's not enough space in my family (or my house!) for June, Andrew, Sophie, Molly, Violet or Tadj. . .but I have 63 Gigs free on my hard drive and I can build a new bookcase.
What's more, names that have been ruined for me for life (Patricia!) are ideal for villains. I love having fun with them.
Among my very favorite things is our annual Bacon Hunt. For eight hours, we send our closest and most daring friends into Chicago's western suburbs on what one might call a wild goose chase.
The Race aspect pits teams against each other to find clues and complete tasks. Past challenges have included sun salutations, mixing batches of baked goods from scratch, solving unusual puzzles, pitching tents, deciphering clues, eating our favorite (somewhat unsavory) snacks, hitting targets with Frisbees and other wacky hijinx. Every year includes a baking challenge, a board game-related contest, physical challenges and an event at the library.
Once they've completed the challenges, teams receive a scavenger hunt list with point values ranging from 175 (arrive at the finish line in a Ferrari) to 5 points (a metal thimble). Items frequently involve costuming, finagling and creative thinking. And each year, there is a very competitive paper airplane contest.
Members of the winning team receive a homemade apple pie and bragging rights. We feed everyone Art of Pizza, Chicago's best.
Our friends claim to love the event, and we love planning it. Even before the scores are tabulated, I start plotting the next annual Bacon Hunt. By December, I have a good idea of how the amazing race challenges will go, and our spreadsheet is populated with hundreds of contenders for the scavenger hunt list.
Planning Bacon Hunt is a great break for my brain (read: unique procrastination method.) And, now that 2012 has arrived, I can officially start talking about the next one. Hooray!
Is it time yet?
I think about words all day. I often fall asleep piecing together sentences.
There are many words I absolutely despise, either for their spoken sound (moist and portion) or for their connotation (hate, cunt, faggot) or because I have trouble spelling them on my first attempt (julep, utensil, knowledgeable) and one out of absolute fear: sluggish.
When my beloved college mentor died, his life partner explained that he'd been feeling uncharacteristically fatigued for weeks. As Dave's energy waned, he enjoyed soaking in the tub at night, and he complained of feeling "sluggish." While conducting a bicycle safety course for campus police, he had a massive heart attack and died.
About most things, I am not superstitious. But I feel certain that suggesting I feel sluggish would cause me to keel over. And if I admitted my husband was feeling sluggish, I'd find him sprawled on the kitchen floor unresponsive the next morning.
I will say that he and I are fatigued. I can't remember the last time either of us had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. We're moving more slowly than we used to, and going to bed earlier. We won't be watching a ball drop or toasting the new year at midnight. We're going to bed on account of being snoozy.
And that is one of my favorite words: snoozy. I say it with a little sigh. It evokes images of down pillows and a heavy comforter, curling up with a book for three minutes before my eyes start drooping.
Happy Snoozy Year.
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: