And In Other News

Six weeks away makes for a lot of news, but I have to say that most of it occurred within the last fortnight. For most of my health scare absolutely nothing distracted me from worry, which I was relieved about in some ways as I had very little of myself to give to other thorny problems, but it did rather leave me eyeballing anxiety without respite. As I came closer to a conclusion so life began to pick up her skirts and run, with the result that last week felt quite chaotic.

The first thing you should know is that I have now officially changed my job. I am, alas, no longer lecturer in French and I was sorry to say goodbye to the good times with Camus and Proust and Colette and all. We’ve had a blast for the past decade. But it was time for a change and I couldn’t have gone back to the relentless pace of my old job. I put down my recovery from chronic fatigue to the fact that I now rarely do more than a quarter of what I used to do daily as a university teacher. Instead I have moved into the brand new area of learning support, so new in fact to my college that no one knows yet what to call me. I was delighted to do this because I love taking on things that haven’t been done before, and I particularly like helping the students who are having a bit of a struggle, for whatever reason it may be. Only once I had happily agreed to it did I begin to realise the strength of opposition to learning support within the fellowship. Fortunately, one of my friends and colleagues in law wrote me a detailed email outlining all his concerns and dislikes which, because he is my friend and a polite person, had the beauty of clarity and concision without the need for personal attack. This was immensely helpful as I could then start to consider tactics for neutralising the various insecurities festering in the fellowship; what looks like support to the students can seem (in the wrong light) like a reproach to their teachers. As I have to arrange brand new study skills days for the incoming freshers, I’ve had a good opportunity to start on some major diplomacy; I need to work closely with my colleagues at all times if any of this is going to be actually useful. I’m very excited about next year, which will be experimental for all concerned and should be quite an adventure. The only problem is that I moved out of my old college rooms and now that I find I can keep them, I can’t face carting all the books back…..

My son is certainly moving deeper into adolescent territory. I’ve had it relatively easy so far, I think, but he had a big meltdown this week about being bored. I struggle to help him with this as I never had a day’s boredom on holiday in my life. In fact, my life has been one long progression towards winning back as much time as possible in which to read and thus recreate the holiday atmosphere. He resolutely refuses to do sport (although we have dug out the exercise bike and promised to set ourselves a goal of 100 miles to reach – alas I am failing him in this challenge), has never particularly liked doing art, will only read at bedtime and has zero interest in constructing anything. He likes having friends around and playing computer games and at the moment he’s a bit bored with both. Or it may simply be existential despair. ‘It’s just that I can see how everything is going to turn out!’ he wailed to me. ‘I know how it’s going to be, I’ve done everything I ever want to do!’ The irrationality of these sentences should have given me a clue, but no, I moved into the wrong gear and attempted to fix the problem. Not one of my finer maternal interventions. I should just have listened to him and let him get all his feelings out and then tried for a solution another day. It certainly seems to me that the older children become, the more you have to listen and the less you must try to fix. But the old habits do die hard. And if anyone has a bright idea for occupying a 13-year-old, I’d love to hear it.

I also heard back from my agent last week who was extremely good about balancing encouragement and critique but who had the kind of criticisms to give that require a major overhaul of the chapters I’d written and my concept of the book. What was most galling was that she was absolutely right. She pointed out that I didn’t have a strong enough spine to my material, the kind of coherent concept that will underlie everything I write and orient the trajectory of the book. And she’s perfectly correct, any book falls to pieces without one. When I wrote my chapters I was having a lot of fun with the material, but fun alone doth not a book make. So once I had stopped sighing and mentally kicking the cat, I settled down to think about this in an orderly fashion. I need to figure out what it is that I most want to write about, what, amongst all the possible aspects and perspectives on motherhood, is the one that really fascinates and motivates me, not what fits in with the material I’ve got, not what I think might sell, but where the heart of the matter is for me. Of course this is much easier said than done. The other thing I need to do (not for the spine of the book, but as a consequence of it) is to speak more from personal experience but I have some difficulties with this, not least because academics are strictly forbidden from doing so in their writing. I’ve written about my life occasionally on this blog (most notably of late) and I’m always surprised and hugely gratified that people are interested and even appreciative, but when I go to translate this into a broader context and a longer work, I find it hard to do. A little while back I got excited about writing a piece for LiteraryMama, in which I discussed my experience of motherhood and creativity, but when I came to do it I wrote a few pages and wasn’t thrilled with the result. And then the medical drama intervened so I let it drop. I need to figure out why something that’s so easy to do in this context becomes so very difficult in a different one. These are tricky questions to which I require good answers, as I do not think it wise to test my agent’s patience. She has been very astute and now the ball is firmly in my court.

So, whilst I am still convalescing from the undeniable toll big life events extract from one’s wellbeing, I’m carefully planning diplomatic sorties into the sparsely populated academic jungle (everyone’s in hiding from admin over the summer months and I don’t blame them), trying to figure out what best to do with this new breed of child, the adolescent, and struggling to solve structural difficulties in my writing with the intriguing pressure of not wanting to miss a career opportunity. But however complex the next few weeks look, they are infinitely better than the ones I’ve just had. Thank goodness these problems are not life threatening, lie (theoretically, at any rate) within my zone of competence, and allow you to get it wrong a few times before you get it right. I’ll take that over medical testing any day.


24 thoughts on “And In Other News

  1. You may be too close to all this material to notice (but I’d be surprised if that’s true) the very broad divide between your son’s complaint “I can see how everything will turn out,” and your own quite opposite concerns of the last many weeks, “I’ve no idea how things will turn out.” If there’s a chance to turn that disparity into an object lesson on motherhood, it’s at least worth thinking about as a unifying principle for a book you’re very well qualified to write. Whatever choice you make will be brilliant; we’ve plenty of evidence for that. My only worry, and one that others may share, is that you still seem to have so very much on your plate, all of it new. But maybe it’s our turn to worry so you don’t have to. As for bored teenagers, I’m too busy to help them. Give them jobs. (Good thing I don’t have one.)

  2. My favorite response to “I’m bored,” is: “Fabulous! That is exactly what I like to hear! Now, let me show you how the washing machine works…or the dishwasher…” Somehow they stop mentioning boredom after a while.

    Maybe at his age he needs something a bit more grownup to do? Something to be in charge of? (I can’t think of what, though).

  3. I have two sons, one is 12 and the other 15. The 12 year old has so much to fill his days with he doesn’t ever stop – he draws, paints, writes, plays football, models etc. The 15 year old is addicted to computer games and has got increasingly sucked into the online gaming world over the past few months. It gives such constant instant adrenaline rushes it makes everything else seem boring. I shouted at him the other day, I might as well have had a virtual baby when I had you – it would have been so much easier, and that’s where you are always in cyberspace anyway! That was when I was trying to drag him away – to the beach!
    Have tried suggesting jobs – works sometimes. We managed to get him to join a rowing club, which assuages my conscience somewhat. But I shall be looking as eagerly as you at what other people suggest.
    As far as your book goes, I agree with your editor that you need to tell a story, even though it’s non fiction. People are programmed to want that narrative arc. You could choose a through people’s lives theme – or across cultures theme, how does motherhood change over time, or across cultural boundaries. Or maybe, make it more personal, and link it with a prologue to each section from your own life/other’s experiences. You’re so good at that, as your last few blog entries show. But you need to follow that narrative arc of introduction, building to a climax of some sort (lost children?) and then the denouement. You could link it to people’s uncertainties/longings about having babies at the beginning, to the way in which our lives change as the children get older, and then the way in which it starts all over again in older life with Grandchildren, if you’re lucky. I remember feeling a terrible feeling of shock that we’d changed our lives irrevocably when we had our first son, and now I can’t bear the thought of life without them nearby.
    Except sometimes, when son number one won’t get off that computer…

  4. Sounds like you’ve assembled all the elements for a good next decade. As far as the bored son issue goes my husband has in the last year made a change from computer games to console games which he seems to be enjoying. Something like Guitar Hero or Rock Band are quite a different sort of gaming experience to World of Warcraft. As a wife I’d obviously prefer it if he spent his spare time doing home maintenance & housework & foot massages, and the like just, as if I had a gamer teenage son I’d probably prefer him to get a part time job or to volunteer to paint the house- but you know how it is when you live with a gamer.Sometimes a new game is what it takes to keep them happily occupied.

  5. Well, I’m sorry you’re going through the adolescent stuff with your boy, but I’m happy I’m not alone. My 12-year-old boy is already such an adolescent it’s driving me crazy! Boredom–yes, we’ve got that here. Hours on the computer i-chatting with his friends about nothing, computer games, yes, we’ve got those. He’s tending toward Guitar Hero more than World of Warcraft lately, so that’s good. He still loves to read, and that’s good. His sense of humor still shows through, occasionally, so that’s good. But you’d think I was an idiot and know nothing about anything. What a cliche we’ve both become! Also, I love the, “I’m bored,” thing. I wonder if it’s adolescence in a world that is so overstimulating, so full of in-your-face entertainment, or if it’s just adolescence in general. What I wouldn’t give to be a little bored these days! One of the few things that works when my son complains about being bored is a complete change of scenery. Offering him a smoothie if he walks to our little town square with me, for example. Or sometimes just the threat of having to do something with me is enough to stop his complaints! Anyway, this adolescence thing is a whole new world for our family, too–yikes!

  6. Congratulations on your new job! How exciting to be making the leap into something new. I know you will be a great success, you care so much about the students. As for your son being bored, I remember that feeling. Usually when I’d complain my mom would say that I could then vacuum/dust/weed the garden/clean my room and suddenly I had all kinds of things to do. Or she would tell me if I was bored it showed a lack of imagination on my part. This would generally make me so made that I had to prove her wrong. Good luck with figuring out your book. Maybe the difficulty you have with the personal in your professional writing is that you think about it too much?

  7. I like davidbdale’s suggestions and second them – the only word of warning I will add is be careful to clear things with your son if you are writing about him for publication. If you do this, write first unfettered by what he might think, and then show him the finished article. This stops him objecting in principle, but allows him to see how thoughtful your writing on the subject actually is.

    In terms of your difficulties in writing the personal into books – why not pretend you’re writing for the blog?! Artifice, I know, but it might work!

  8. Congratulations on your new job – seems like it will be an interesting challenge! Certainly it doesn’t mean you will stop reading French lit altogether, you can always discuss it here! As for teenage angst, I have no idea how to keep a 6-weeks old baby occupied, so I won’t venture to suggest anything for a 13-years old.

  9. Dear David – you are very smart, do you know that? I hadn’t made that connection at all but it is a startling one and most provocative! Things have suddenly become a bit busy, it’s true, but I always take your words to heart and I did have a very quiet weekend (hence I am behind on my blog reading). I’m not intending to move fast this week, either! I’m waiting for my son to be old enough to do research for me, although I fear I’ve a while to wait. He says he would be happy to do a job for money – where do those salt mines go when you need them? You are very sweet indeed to look out for me and it is much appreciated. Yogamum – I love your style! I can see a trick I’ve been missing 😉 But you’re quite right. Something responsible would be very good indeed – I did contact the volunteer centre to see if there were anything on offer but I’m waiting for them to get back to me. But I should think more widely than that. Tricia – it is always so comforting to know that mothers with more than one child realise that these characteristics are personality driven and not maternal failings! Rowing is a very good sport, so you have done well there. And thank you so, so much for your extremely helpful suggestions regarding the book. There’s a lot for me to think about there, and having read your work I’m not surprised you’ve got wonderful ideas about keeping readers interested! Ms Make Tea, that is a most practical and achievable solution you suggest there! Funnily enough we almost got Guitar Hero last week but we have no guitar, which the shop assistant suggested was essential. So it’s worth thinking more about that. And I a part time job would be great if we could find the right thing. Failing that, I’d probably pay for a foot massage 🙂 Gentle Reader – oh do I empathise with that ‘mother knows nothing’ line!! I get a lot of it around here, and one of the current difficulties is that suggestions coming from me are bound to be wrong. I do think that the level of general entertainment on offer is so intense that boredom seems more acute, but I also think he’s just between occupations, childish things having lost their sheen and grown-up activities not yet attractive enough. But a sense of humour all round helps no end! It sounds like you are managing your boy wonderfully well! Stefanie – oh thank you so much! I am looking forward to it! I definitely think household chores as deterrents sound like a good idea, and when I read what you said about overthinking, I thought LOL! that would certainly account for it 🙂 Equiano – I like them too! Yes, it’s a wise precaution to discuss what I write with my son, and I intend to ground whatever I say fully in my experience rather than his life, if you see what I mean. It may well be that I have to rehearse some of this in the blog and then transpose it, which will remove one layer of artifice!

  10. Smithereens – your comment came through while I was replying to the others! I certainly will never abandon French literature. I’m still writing my academic book (another project I need to pick up again) and I daresay I will lecture occasionally in the French department when they need me. And there’s always the blog too! I read somewhere that teenagers are very like the toddler stage because the brain activity and accelerated growth are very similar, so we are actually facing similar challenges! I have a very vivid memory of the difficulties involved in entertaining the very, very young….

  11. It’s been a long time since I left you a comment but I have been reading (most) of your posts! I just wanted to say congratulations on the new job and good luck with the diplomatic efforts. I expect this new role will be rewarding enough to make any smoothing-over worthwhile. As for your son, I distinctly remember feeling that boredom – the summer seems so long (oh, how I wish for those long summers now) and then suddenly, it’s back to school and regret replaces boredom! I am afraid I have no pearls of wisdom to offer but I will say that you should not shoulder too much of the responsibilty of keeping him amused – he is old enough to do some of that himself.

  12. Dear Lit, I have been reading, with great concern, about your dance with the devil. Very, very scary, I empathize completely, and I am sure I would not have been as graceful as you were! In the last two weeks I have been dealing with my own fear and the positive attitude of a very dear cousin with breast cancer. She had to come back to the US from a beautiful island where she has lived the past 15 years, leaving a nine year old son there. Good news is, radical masectomy will probably not be necessary, which is what would have happened if she had continued with the medical care in her third world country. The disparity in medical care around the world is crushing to one’s sense of fairness and well-being. I am so glad that your results have been so positive, and you are off on new adventures. We can compare notes throughout the new semester and our new positions!
    I have three children who have passed the tumultuous 13’s. It can be pleasant, and it can be terribly painful. My middle child cried for a year and a half, and believe me, I am not exaggerating. You have realized the best thing you can do is listen, and heaven forbid, do not give advice. Listen, repeat back to him what you think you hear him say, confirm that you have heard correctly, and listen some more. Any advice you give he will not take anyway, and on top of that he will be insulted that you think he can’t solve his problems, but you can. The next best advice I can give you is simply limit the computer time, especially if it is on-line. Cyber friendships invariably lead to trouble and/or heartache. He is a child, after all, and must do what you say. One chore every day, read a 1/2 hour every day. Anything he wants, have lots available, or take him to the library with you. At that age, I bought magazines for my kids and brought home a variety of books, including big, photograph books of stuff I thought they would be interested in (cars, star wars, interior decorating of urban spaces, etc). Beyond that, let him be, without pressure. He will find his way, and your way is not the only way. So, listen to me, giving you advice, telling you not to give advice!! You asked for it!
    Good luck, you have a full plate. My positive thoughts are with you.

  13. Yes, I recommend the “Bored? Have I got some chores for you” solution. Works everytime ;). (Not that I have kids or anything.) It seems I have a lot in your blog to catch up on! Reading your upcoming conflicts about the new academic support is interesting as such outfits in my part of the world are carried out so matter-of-factly. I hope you can give a bit more detail about as you go along. Course loads at my school tend to be so heavy that, even with tutorials, some of us would go crazy without some learning support. Even some of our subject oriented student societies (like the Chemistry Club) offer work help, text books and older course notes to borrow, old exam papers etc.

  14. Hmmm … when I complained about boredom to my mother and she suggested chores, I just got more irritated and complained even more … but then I was an unbearable adolescent. The only thing that worked with me was to ignore me and eventually I’d go and read a book 🙂 I did turn out to be a tolerable adult even though I was an intolerable adolescent, so one way or another, there is hope!

  15. I am terrified of my children turning into teenagers, so am not here with advice but respect. Good luck, Litlove, with negotiating the murky waters.

    I love the sound of your new job. I hope it will be immensely satisfying for you, and not too overwhelming in terms of its demands on you. As for your rigorous agent, she sounds like a good one. I have no doubt that you will find that strong spine for your material.

  16. Litlove, my goodness, I am impressed with your writing. Your posts are so interesting. (Wait till he turns 21, then the real adventure begins…) After reading about your career and areas of expertise, I am certainly inclined to take your comments on my excerpt on Authonomy very seriously, indeed. If you say you found it confusing, I need to do some work, because you have a long history of reading and understanding some pretty heavy material. What is sad, is that I thought I had gone to great lengths to avoid using a single name more than I absolutely have to in the initial chapters, for that very reason. I refer to people as “slaves” or “healers,” or “boy” or anything, in the beginning, rather than using their names. But unfortunately, even the place-names are names, and pretty foreign-sounding, to many. I’m going to look at all that and see what can be done. It was funny that you suggested a scar or disability to distinguish one character from another: my main male character does acquire severe scars from a lion mauling, but we haven’t quite gotten to it yet in the chapters on Authonomy. Anyway, just wanted to say I enjoy your blog very much; as a mother of a new 21 year old, I feel confident that everything will be okay, and again, I really appreciate your comments.

  17. This may need a longer letter, Litlove, but while I can’t help out with 13 year old boys, I do know something about the minefield that is working with student support. Coming at this from the point of view of the lecturer I would say that the most vital thing is to take the academic staff with you. While, undoubtedly, your first concern is for the student, if you haven’t got the lecturers with you you will be able to do almost nothing for them. Because I don’t know how your particular institution works it’s hard to be specific but where I’ve worked it has always been more successful when the support staff have been seen as embedded in the department rather than as a separate body. Drop me a note if you’d find it helpful to talk about this more.

  18. Litlove, I have only just caught up on the last several posts. I have alternated between emailing you and just posting and have decided just to post because we are all friends here. First of all, I am so, so happy you are okay. So happy. Second of all, I generally assume that Europe must always be superior to America but in terms of your first physician and nurse I am appalled on your behalf – appalled, and please don’t let it forever ruin your opinion of health care workers. As you know I work in a cancer hospital and it is my firmest belief that while no doctor or nurse can alleviate the stress and anxiety from cancer scares, many of them carry themselves with compassion and intelligence. I can’t think of one doctor here who would have commented on your age in that way or given such a fearful description of a biopsy, which while certainly not a procedure anyone should go through electively should not be made to sound like being stretched to death or something!
    And interestingly my colleague and I are doing a lot of work for Dr David Servan-Schreiber right now since his research is affiliated with the institution where I work – we are working with his publisher to promote his book locally. And I think there is some value to his work and the work of like-minded researchers although it is important to note that at a base level cancer is the overexpression of cells when something goes wrong, either biologically or environmentally or what not and that is often out of your control.
    A-hem. ANYWAY. I’ve been going through a few health concerns of my own (nothing too serious)and after reading your posts I feel like I have woken up from my dream world – my dream world of “what ifs” and realized all of my worrying and imagination is doing me no good whatsover -you are so RIGHT, I am trying to control my own narrative (because, as readers of literature, we are so used to the twist, the tragic ending, yes?) when all I can do is control what I can control.
    Thank you so much for sharing this story with us – you certainly didn’t have to, but it’s really been a gift for me and I have no doubt for your other readers as well. Your narrative is so honest and graceful and beautiful and…well, thank you.

  19. Well, congratulations on the job change! Poor Proust will miss you, but I think you’ll feel much better with a lighter/ different workload.

    As for occupying the teen, when I was that age I spent the whole summer locked in my room writing terrible novels in longhand. Have you tried him on writing? Blank paper is cheap! OK, I have no real suggestion here. I am dreading when my kids reach that age and become permanantly bored.

  20. Ahh, teen angst! Yeah, just let him vent. If he gets too “woe is me” and “life is meaningless” and all that, tell him that things are not all about him, and they never will be. He’s just a speck in the cosmos.

    Congrats on the new position, and I’m sure the book will come together very well now that you have a plan. It’s good to have you back unworried and unharmed!

  21. Kate – how nice to have you visit and thank you so much for the lovely comment! I’m looking forward to the new role too, and precisely because my son is 13, I’m not the best person to make suggestions to him right now! Not that that means I remember to be restrained 🙂 Qugrainne – Oh I am so very sorry to hear about your cousin. Under the circumstances I am very glad she has at least been able to benefit from good medical care and hope that her treatment and recovery will be as swift and easy as it is possible for them to be. Thank you also for the wonderful advice on beating adolescent boredom. I’m reading it very carefully and taking it all to heart! Imani – it’s so interesting to hear how these issues are treated in other countries. My university also puts a lot of work and pressure on student’s shoulders but up until now there’s been no learning support, even though there has always been lots of pastoral care. I’m sure I’ll be discussing how it’s going here on the blog and depending on my blogging friends for their wise words as ever! Dorothy – I have such terrible trouble imagining you as a difficult adolescent! There is indeed hope if my son turns out as lovely as you. He hasn’t yet stomped off to find a book, but I live in hope. Charlotte – I’m sure your children will be delightful teenagers one and all, and if not, I have every faith in you. I’ve got my fingers crossed for the job and the spine of the book is… well, let’s be generous and say it’s on its way, just stuck en route somewhere. Reb – I really feel I ought to return to authonomy and read your work again. I read it when in the first flush of rushing around reading other people’s novels and I don’t think I’ve gave it the time and attention I would give to a new book I’d picked up to read. I recall its details well, however, which says a lot about the vividness of your writing, and it was not at all the kind of book I would usually read and so do take into account both the pull of your plot and my unfamiliarity with the genre (neither is negligible). Also, I’m a nitpicky academic, always saying give me more information on this, that and the other. I remember your work as being tremendously evocative and conceptually ambitious, and as having a strong narrative drive. Believe you me, I know how hard it is to be really clear – I struggle a lot with it myself, and pretty much any draft narrative can benefit from further signposting. So all in all, I’m sure my comments were all about detail and not about the really important things. And thank you for the encouragement about my son! Ann – minefield is about the size of it! I’d love to discuss this offline and benefit from your experience. I’ll email you in the morning. Courtney – oh such a wonderful comment from you – thank you so much. I did think of you and your work so often going through this, and wondered again how brave you were to be involved with it and face it every day. I know I couldn’t. Here, the health care was pretty fantastic for being free, when you consider it altogether, it’s just that you can fall on some less sympathetic types and doctors don’t always think about how hard you are listening to what they say. I was fascinated to hear you are working for Dr Servan-Schreiber – WOW! How interesting, but yes, he does say that all you can ever do for sure is improve your odds a bit. At the moment, I’ll take that! And thank you so much for the kind words – I struggled so much with that sense of narrative dominating my experience and it was very therapeutic to get it off my chest here. I consider myself in very good company if it chimed with your experience too. Boxofbooks – Thank you very much! Proust will probably get by without me, but I like to think of him sighing wistfully from time to time. If only my son would consider writing! alas he thinks it the most evil among the evil tortures school has cooked up for him, but he will figure out what to do with himself eventually. It’s like most motherhood issues, I think, you hop about a bit, but really it’s a question of waiting with a hopeful look on your face…

  22. Chartroose – lol! I’ll try that speck in the cosmos thing one of these days! Thank you, it is very nice to be wittering on about other things and fretting about issues that are not in the least life-threatening! 🙂

  23. I went through some terrible angst recently because my daughter turned 21 on July 12th, we live in different states, and all of a sudden, she never called me. We had been talking at least once a week, then she turned 21 and boom, nothing. Plus she wasn’t returning our calls, or responding to our emails. I got very depressed, I’ll tell you, when I saw a caption on her myspace page saying she was “hung over.” I had mental images of her going out and getting drunk every night. I also was convinced she was angry at me over something, or that she simply didn’t want to deal with me anymore. Then recently I tried calling her again, she answered, she was fine, and happy, and was taking a pizza home to eat, and she’d been going to work every day, and all of my fears had been in my head. I’ve talked to her since and she’s just the same as she was; she probably just forgot to call us back when we left messages, and she doesn’t check her emails very often. I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes we parents just think the worst, when things aren’t really that bad. I always knew she’d go out and have a few drinks: that’s what comes of making such a big deal out of having to be 21 before you can drink. Hopefully, she will quickly outgrow the “romance” of those long smoky nights in clubs and put it behind her.

    I hope I didn’t make you feel bad with my comments on the excerpt. I am sure you were completely right in your assessment and I consider them extremely valuable. I did get a lot of comments saying there were too many long names too quickly when I first started out with this years ago, and I have rewritten several times with that in mind, but it’s always good to hear specifics about where people feel confused. That’s the only way I’ll ever fix it, since it’s all so clear to me, the writer. I have gone back and highlighted every single name, place or person, in blue, in the first 4 chapters, and will work on simplifying and clarifying. I don’t want to get rejected someday because of confusing names. Thank you again!

  24. Reb – I like your story very much indeed. I think it’s such a classic maternal thing to do, to worry that way and then to find out that there was really no reason. But I most appreciate the way you contained your anxiety and were able to respond so well when she turned out to be fine. It isn’t always easy to do, so well done to you. As for your comment, you didn’t make me feel bad at all – I just wanted to reassure you I recalled lots of really good things about your chapters. I think that’s an excellent idea to highlight the names – you were very smart to think of that!

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