Lake Kachess, WA
Pebbles grind beneath my shoes on a rocky beach overlooking the blue-green waters of Lake Kachess. The clouds are clean white and bunched, like someone pushed them together to bulk up their size, then puffed them up using a straw. One cloud strongly resembles a charging elephant—how long has it been since I looked for shapes in the clouds, and for only my benefit, not just so I could amuse my children?
I’ve left my kids with my in-laws at the campsite. My son is listening to an educational kids podcast, I think this one is about a bag of worms on the velocity of poop. I heard him giggling several times before I left. My daughter has commandeered her grandparents’ Airstream trailer for her beauty rest, along with tailor-made Velcro straps that cover the windows to create the proper level of darkness for sleep.
I thought I’d use more of a “learn to deal with it” parenting philosophy with my children, but I make plenty of accommodations for my kids. I guess it just goes to show that we human parents only have so much resolved available to us. I have to save some for myself. Like resolving the finish this knowledge by the end of October. Yep.
These kids, man, they make life so much harder and so much better. Just… All of it. A father of three told me that having kids makes your life more of everything. More frustrating, more exciting, more exhausting, more rewarding. More. And yet? I am confident that my kids positively impact my thinking, writing, my outlook on life, my plans for the future and that they undeniably enrich the stories that I write now.
As some of you know, the second half of my two Lebanese grandparents passed away late last year. Hikmat and Sally Saba were loving, abundantly generous, affectionate and, in many ways, volatile personalities. I knew them for over three decades, which meant they changed a lot during that time, probably as much as I did. I miss my Teita Sally when my son mentions a memory of eating pesto pasta on her couch while she crowed over him with joy. I miss Jiddo Hikmat when I see a fresh vegetable garden that’s been lovingly tended. I wish the grandmother who taught me the art of arranging flowers could witness the summer blooms in my own garden in the house of mine she never lived to see. Sally and Hikmat also exposed me to their politics and values, as seen from those who grew up on the shores of the Lebanese Mediterranean. I inherited passions and compassions, angers and lamentations that otherwise might never have known, if not for their story.
In this podcast (see below), I talk about my kids’ effect on my writing as well as how Middle Eastern conflicts helped inspire “Untrained Luck,” my Writers of the Future story. My voice sounds quite low on the recording, so I must’ve been channeling my inner jazz singer. (I’d sing “It’s All Right with Me” in case you want to know if I had a jazz song ready.) I also share some recommendations for aspiring writers. Below is the podcast link in Stitcher. You can get it through Apple podcasts.
I’ve made plans to attend World Fantasy Con in Los Angeles this fall. I’m really looking forward to/anxious about the socializing process, and I’m learning, bit by bit, to stand and speak more confidently about myself and my writing. I love writing. I’ve written some things that people have marked noteworthy. I am professionally published. I’m committed to staying in this game for the long haul.
The quietness of this beach is affecting me. Usually, perspective comes clear for me only once the object of focus has passed. For instance, I see my Lebanese grandparents more fully as human beings with stories I’m interested in retelling, but I could not see this in the midst of their health challenges and the emotional drama that entangled my entire family, for better and for worse.
I’ve only just realized that I’m finally shedding the inpatient “Oh, grow up already!” mindset that I’ve felt for a long time toward my own kids. They still exhaust me on a regular basis, but I’m not despondently drowning anymore.
It hits me–my kids are rapidly losing their baby talk and learning real ways to help me around the house (no one is scrubbing the toilet yet, but my son can empty the whole top-loading washing machine if he has kitchen tongs to reach the socks on the bottom), and I am sure I don’t want them to rush off to college. I want to delight in who they are and what they do, right here and now.
This feels like a rare perspective. It didn’t wait to grab me until my son learned to drive or my daughter got her first job. When the perspective comes before it’s all in hindsight, that’s a gift. And for some odd and wonderful reason, I’m holding that gift in my lap right now, as I sit in the sunlight on this beach at Lake Kachess.