I don't think I've ever been as freakin' tired as I am right now. I mean, my brain feels as sludgy as liverwurst. My eyes actually hurt to be open. And let's not even mention the headache. I want nothing more than to just curl up and black out.
And yet, I'm listening to little girls tap out "Old Macdonald" on a tinny electronic keyboard next to me. Because I'm still mom. I'm still "on." And there's no rest in sight. Ugh.
It's been exactly two months since my last blog post. WTH have I been doing all this time?
Well, the good news is I've started another novel. And I've been THINKING about Shadow King and my looming editing work. I've gotten lovely useful comments from my beta readers. And there's another short story brewing in my head. Sounds like author heaven, right? All wheels turning, all cylinders engaged.
The bad news is I've been dealing with yet another health crisis with yet another parent. January seems to be a sucky month in this respect. And there's been a slew of snow days, which have meant I'm on mommy duty more than author duty.
I don't know how you imagine your 40s, but I never thought I'd understand so clearly and keenly what the term "sandwich generation" means. It means stuck in the middle, with two equally beloved and equally cranky and needy groups of people vying for a dominant piece of my pie. Or, I suppose I should be consistent in the analogy: vying for a bigger slice of ham and cheese. (If you're a vegan, think hummus.) I had a realization the other day: this is what the rest of my life will be like. And I thought, how did I get here? I'm not even that nice of a person.
Seriously, I'm not. I'm no selfless angel. I don't live to serve. I don't get off by denying myself. How can I possibly fit into this role of caregiver that has been thrust upon me, by choice in the case of the children, and circumstance, in the case of the parents?
The beta readers I mentioned above both had a similar reaction to one element of Shadow King: that of the plain-clothes, off-the-mountain, earthly Jesus. They were freaked out a bit. Without giving away the plot, I can say that Max encounters the divine not in the way we often imagine - a garden of blazing light, with angelic choirs and celestial majesty. Nope. His Jesus shows up in khakis and a sweater. He carries a pocket knife; he plays checkers, drinks whiskey, and talks about sex. He's ordinary, but pushy; he gets into Max's head and messes around there. He doesn't go away, doesn't take kindly to being ignored, and won't let Max step away from what he's been called to do.
So why is this Jesus freaky? I think because he's so real. He's so close. He's so human. He's just around the corner; Max bumps into him all the time. Transcendent encounters with the divine are easy to accept in literature, because so few people ever have them. They sound beautiful, comforting, not scary. A God who drinks your Perrier at a cafe is freaky because it could happen to you. And then what would you do?
Like Max, I'm feeling selfish. I don't want to sacrifice myself for the sake of others. I don't want to love my neighbors as much as myself. I can't imagine I'm that good of a person. But that same Jesus that's bugging Max won't leave me alone, either. He's drinking my coffee. He's messing with my head. He keeps calling, and because he's infinite AND human, he'll keep at it.
I guess I'd better stop ignoring. Can I be myself and the sandwich? Maybe so, with the right help. I'll let you know how it goes. Peace to you all.