I haven’t been writing much lately BUT I have been reading! I’m slowly but steadily making my way through the stacks of books in my library queue. There have been some misses for sure—I found The Lost Apothecary, Mexican Gothic and The Vanishing Half all overrated—but also plenty of hits.
My favorite book that I’ve read so far this year is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. It was laugh-out-loud funny, which I find is such a hard thing to accomplish with fiction. I just finished AC Wise’s Wendy, Darling, which was so good that I put the baby to bed, stuck the toddler in front of Paw Patrol, and curled up with a bowl full of popcorn to finish it. I loved And Then She Was Gone, Disappearing Earth as well as Saint X, which was beautifully written, although I need to stop reading books about missing daughters because they destroy my heart. I don’t normally like books where the main characters are writers, but I did recently enjoy The Plot, which pulled it off! Some other good books that I was way overdue to read were The Book Thief (how it took me this long, I don’t know!), Ready Player One and The Thirteenth Tale (again, a successful example of writing about writers!).
My second daughter and I have also been flying through the Nancy Drew series. I always thought I was a stickler for the original 56, but we’ve moved onto the ones in the 100s and I think I actually enjoy them more: There’s way less sexism and racism, the bad guys aren’t as obvious, the plots are more complex and they don’t use the word “attractive” every sentence (Nancy is an attractive 18-year-old, who lives in an attractive house and drives an attractive car).
Anyway. I’ll get back to writing soon enough here, but I’m definitely enjoying making a dent in my library books in the meantime!
So apparently it’s been more than a year since I’ve updated, but I guess it’s been more than a year for a lot of things so I’m not going to let that get to me. And what a year, right?! Here in Nevada, it seems like we are moving in the right direction. Lots of vaccinations (I was able to get my second just this past Saturday!) and the state has been steadily opening up. In fact, the Mustang Ranch—one of Reno’s infamous brothels—recently reopened. You know things must be getting better when brothels are considered “safe” again!
Personally, the past year has been a mental struggle as much as anything else. My kids finished up last year with distance learning but then went back to in-person learning last fall. And even though they were in school, there was always the chance their classes would be excluded due to positive cases (as happened several times for us). My preschooler had it tough, too: Her school shut entirely for three weeks last fall when several teachers and one or two older preschoolers tested positive.
Between Covid and four kids, I haven’t been writing. It’s felt strange not writing for Tahoe Quarterly, and a little heart-breaking to turn down assignments, especially for the Mountain Home issue, which is my favorite of all. I did find time (eventually) to read the issue and it was fabulous. Difficult to put together, I’m sure, as most of the projects weren’t available to physically tour, but a great read nonetheless, so big shoutout to my editor Sylas and the very resilient TQ writers!
I am heartened by the fact that—between vaccinations, schools staying open and reopened brothels—we seem to be at a turning point. I’m very hopeful that things continue to look up… and that there’s writing in my future again soon!
I have been ridiculously bad at updating. In my defense, I’ve also been ridiculously busy. Part is catching up with TQ work. We took an eight-day trip to Hawaii (yay Hawaiian air miles!) during my oldest daughter’s fall break at the beginning of October, then went back east for almost two weeks to attend my brother’s wedding one weekend, and my college roommate’s wedding the next. Suffice to say, leaving town for three-plus weeks in a month is exhausting! Lots to catch up on with work and life.
The other reason I’ve been busy is this sweet little girl. My other two are a little older (7 and 5), and it’s been so long since I had a baby that I’m really enjoying this phase again. It doesn’t make it any easier to work when she’s being adorable or rolling around or trying to eat her own feet!
Anyway, I’m making the most of nap times! I really enjoyed my latest pieces for TQ. I recently interviewed an entrepreneurial area mapmaker, and in a separate piece, dived into the history of Mt. Rose’s Reindeer Lodge. I’ve been going back and forth with Kim Henrick, whose parents built the lodge in 1957, and she’s been a wealth of information, stories and memories. So fun to learn more about a place that I’ve wondered about 100 times.
The other reality of my life lately is that I only get to sleep in short hour-long spurts thanks to a teething baby, so it’s hard to justify staying up later than about 9 p.m. So on that note, I’m off to sleep before my favorite distraction decides to get me up.
My kids have had a looong winter break—three weeks off from preschool, plus my babysitter and daycare provider were out of town. So it hasn’t been great for productivity, but it has been a lot of fun! Last week, the girls and I went to the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum for kids. I love this place—there is a room for kids five and under, a three-story high “cloud climber,” rooms for science and experiments, a model of the Truckee River. The only bad thing is that, when nap time comes, it’s hard to get my children to leave. Anyway, we were in the art room, where the featured project was to create Salvador Dali-type projects. There were a variety of magazines from which to cut out pictures, including a bunch of old Tahoe Quarterly’s! My daughter loved seeing my name in print, and cut out my byline from an old Arts article to paste onto her collage. Fun day at the museum, and always nice to see where the magazine (sometimes unexpectedly) ends up!
What to do, what to do? I’m trying to figure out what to do with the girls. Jason has been on a three-week hiatus as he switches jobs and It’s been wonderful having him to entertain them, but with him starting work again on Monday, they become a lot to handle all day every day. We checked out the Methodist preschool just down the street, which is a half-day program that starts in mid-August. When we went in, the director told us that she has only one spot left, for Tuesdays and Thursdays. She’ll hold it for us till the end of the week, so we have till then to decide. Pros: I’ve heard really great things about this school—they hatch butterflies and chicks, take science walks, learn responsibilities and incorporate “Jesus time” that Nora wouldn’t get at her heathen household—and it’s only three minutes down the road. Cons, it’s only four hours, twice a week. Which is a nice little intro to school, but for my sanity level, it’s not a ton of time off from my always-wanting-to-play firstborn. Plus, I thought that if Audrey was going to go to daycare, it would be nice if they could go somewhere together. Nora hasn’t been real big on going to her in-home daycare lately, and I don’t blame her: It’s hit or miss if she’ll have friends her age on any given day, and I’m about done because it takes 25 minutes to get there, which means I spend almost an hour of Nora’s day in daycare in the car. Still, Mercedes is super nice, she’s flexible with our schedule, relatively cheap (though it would still be $70/day) and the girls would get to be together.
I tried calling some centers with daycare and preschool, but they are crazy expensive (like close to $400/three times a week for both girls). I work and write when I’m babyless, but since I’m just freelancing, it’s pretty impossible to justify spending $400 per week when I may only do $75 worth of editing. The cheapest place is Next Generation Kids, which I loved because they teach in Spanish, but since Nora already had a breakdown there back in January (long story) I don’t think I have the heart to try again. I could look into getting a babysitter a couple times a week here, but part of the appeal was them getting to socialize with kids their own age.
Which brings me back to my dilemma. Send them both to Mercedes? Send Nora to preschool and keep Audrey at home? Send Nora to preschool and find a closer daycare for Audrey? Find a “mother’s helper” to entertain them at the house while I’m at home? How on earth do other people juggle writing writing, freelance work and babies? Welcoming any and all suggestions!