Aidan’s Book Corner

A while back, I wrote a post called Grace about my nephew Mark, born with anencephaly and my niece Colby, born with Trisomy-18. When babies like Mark and Colby become a part of your life, you grieve;  in your grieving, you look for ways to honor their brief lives.


My sister-in-law Melissa just told me about a great thing that has begun at the hospital where Colby was born: Aidan’s Book Corner.

Aidan’s mom is Maggie. Aidan and Colby were born the same week at Community North Hospital in Indianapolis. He passed away at 8 days from a massive brain bleed.

Maggie and Melissa began going to grief support meetings at the hospital in March 2010 and became very close.

They went through grief training and are both now volunteers at the hospital in the Open Arms bereavement department. Aidan’s Book Corner is something Maggie started to honor her son because they read to him in the hospital everyday. New books are collected, and there is a cart that someone takes around the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for parents to choose a special book to keep for their baby. Barnes and Noble is now also involved and people are able to donate books directly at the a few of the local stores.

Maggie and Melissa and everyone involved in Aidan’s Book Corner are working to create a National Aidan’s Book Corner Day and have chosen February 1 for the date.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say International. Canada and Australia, I’m looking at you!

Here’s where you come in:

Donate a brand new children’s book to your local Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Please Tweet it, pass it on, email it, or facebook it. We want this to be an amazing day across the country, where parents in the NICU will feel a little support from the heart of someone who cares.

Every single act of kindness has monumental impact when your baby is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Don’t underestimate the power of a small, good thing; this is a great way to honor the lives of Aidan, Colby, Mark, and the countless other babies who shared with us a brief and beautiful grace.


You Can’t Swing a Dead Cat in Here. . .

I used to date this guy back in the last year of high school and the first year of college.

I’ll refrain from commenting on the quality of the relationship.

{insert mature restraint of tongue & pen keyboard here}

{insert immature smug self-righteousness here}

His mom lived in an apartment complex that offered external storage spaces for rent to its tenants. His mom had one. We went into the storage space one day and. . . stored some stuff.

No really, that’s what we did. What were you thinking?

We stored stuff and then we left. We shut the door on the way out and went on about our business– whatever kind of business it is that one has at that age. Terribly important things, I’m sure, like buying Noble Roman’s breadsticks, playing the new Guns & Roses album and finding someone to cop beer.

A couple months later we went back into the storage unit. Whether to store or unstore, I can’t quite recall. What I do recall is that there, on the concrete floor, near the back and behind an old armchair was a cat.

Or, more correctly, what was left of a cat.

Which was a perfect, black and empty fur shell.

It appeared that the cat had gotten in without us noticing when we were storing stuff previously; unable to get out, it starved to death (then decomposed, as is the nature of things).

At this point I’m sure you’re thinking this is a hell of a way to start your morning, reading about dead cat shells. I would like to point out that I did give you fair warning with the title.

At the time, the dead cat shell was the creepiest and weirdest thing I had ever seen and while I did feel a twinge of guilt myself, I secretly blamed my boyfriend.

Even today, more than twenty years later, I have a sense of trepidation every time I open a storage door. Any door to a dusty, seldom-trafficked space where people store things that are– or at least once were– meaningful enough to them that they pay extra money to keep them safe. I open those doors and I wonder what I’m going to find. I wonder what got in and died while I was away.

Which is exactly how I felt last night logging in to my blog for the first time in about two months .

If you can gingerly log in, peek at your notifications through your fingers, glance at the new comments only briefly so as to not have a horrifying image (like a dead cat fur shell) burned into your retinas, well. . . I did that. It’s gonna take me a little while to get through the debris. I have a lot on my mind that would be positively destroyed by the discovery of ex-household pets. I must proceed slowly.

As for where I’ve been?

I haven’t been in my garden. Nor my yard.

Nor at the mall, thank God.

I haven’t been on Facebook in part because I’m weary of people at opposite ends of the political spectrum exhibiting how exactly alike they are in their closed-mindedness.

I’ve been at work and at home. Grocery stores and Costco. The airport, too many times. My kitchen, eternally. And the laundry room.

I’ve been in biographies of Nureyev, Hedy Lamarr, Valerie Bertinelli, and Judas; I’ve been in the music of Johnny Cash, Sixx A.M., a bunch of stuff Brian Paulson produced and that Live album that I always go back to, every time.

I’ve been in my ’66 Mustang Miss Lucy.

I’ve been in a meditative mood. I’ve been in a state of high agitation. I’ve been to hell & back, and also Owensboro, KY (which was a whole separate trip, and much more pleasant).

But whatever. I’ve missed this place and you folks and I’m here now.

Lovely to see you again, my friends. Make sure nothing snuck in behind you before you shut the door.

Coming to a Close

Somewhere at the very end of May, it came to my attention that there was such a thing as Camp NaNoWriMo. You probably know, National Novel Writing Month is November. Affectionately referred to as NaNoWriMo, participants commit to writing 1667 words per day to have a novel of 50,000 words at the end of the month.

Quantity, not quality, folks. Well, at least for mere mortals like me.

I made one attempt at NaNoWriMo a couple years ago. One way of looking at it is that I failed. I didn’t even make it to the half way mark. But I prefer to look at it as I got a good chunk of raw material towards what has become my work in progress.

For some reason, when I saw “Camp” in front of NaNoWriMo, I was thinking, Camp must be shorter somehow. Camp must mean a smaller word count. Camp sounds like something I could do!


So I Tweeted my friend Erin, who writes the blog MomFog. She has five kids too- and she actually gave birth to all of hers, leading me to believe it was at least somewhat intentional. Erin completed her first NaNoWriMo this past November and I asked her if she was doing Camp.

To which she replied, well I guess if you’re doing it, I’m doing it. And because I’m a Twitter NitWit and don’t have a smart phone and am not on it all the time, the next Tweet I got from her said she was signed up.

So I signed up. Because at this point, I had to.

Turns out, “Camp” is still 50,000 words.

I did a bit of a cheat. I am bogged down at a place in my work in progress where I have a crapload of backstory. Way too much. I don’t know how to work it in, I’m not sure if it fits. I’ve been struggling with moving forward. What happens next. So I decided that for CampNaNoWriMo I would simply write what happens next. No building on back story, nothing in the past, only forward motion allowed.

I did really well for a while. I was even getting up extra early to write and I was totally on target.

Right up until the week that the kids got out of school.

Which is the week that CC started working a second job during the day, prepping the next tour to go out.

Which is the week that camps started and the chauffeuring began.

Which is the week that my show posted the closing notice.

It came down to the last day of June and I was 8,000 words short. My plan was to finish, even though we had a two-show day. I would finish between shows.

I’ve been on shows closing before where the atmosphere backstage is a total downer. But this is such a great bunch of people that it was total party time. All kinds of people were stopping in to say goodbye, the head carpenter brought in a bunch of food, the ushers made a bunch of food. I typed about three sentences and finally decided I would really rather enjoy the time.

And so I did not complete CampNaNoWriMo. But I have 42,000 words of what happens next. And I don’t regret either my decision to start it, nor my decision to not complete it.

Also, I can’t wait to start revising. There’s some serious crap that should never see the light of day contained in that 42,000 words.