Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Dragon Year

Welcome to the year of the Black Water Dragon!

I'm pretty sure...  I read somewhere that the Dragon year technically begins on Feb. 4 even though I also read that Chinese New Year was officially yesterday and read some other stuff on Chinese astrology to figure out what that meant and didn't entirely understand it or do the tables properly...  But let's say I did.  

So again, welcome to the year of the Black Water Dragon!

Dragon is reputed to be the luckiest of all the animal signs in Chinese astrology, and why not?  What's cooler than a dragon?  And who couldn't use a little extra luck these days?  Especially with the Mayans sticking us with their super-vague 2012 count-down-to-DOOM.  (Thanks a bunch, Mayans!)  Although it probably wouldn't seem so vague, or maybe even as ominous, if their books had survived to be translated, studied, and understood, but that's another topic for some other post.  Today, let's look to the Dragon and to luck.

As luck would have it, I rang in a new birth-year with all of China and am welcoming this as my surrogate Dragon year, complete with extra black water dragon blessings (still not sure what that really means but have decided to believe it's positive).  In that spirit, prompted by stalwart friends and colleagues, boosted by family, and inspired by Jane Espenson's frequent tweets to join her in sixty- and ninety- minute writing sprints, and gifted the following book for my birthday, I decided to apply Pilar Alessandra's The Coffee Break Screenwriter to my creative process to produce more and better in the time-crunch that is life-lately.  

You see, I have twin pre-schoolers who have been, until this past weekend, physically restrained for periods dedicated to sleep.  From 7:30 pm - 7:30 am (ish) every night, and for roughly two hours every afternoon, our rambunctious tots have been secured in their cribs, so even if I'm frazzled to bits mediating twin-to-twin disputes and texting my husband, "no napping here!" I could, in theory, go to another room confident they wouldn't and couldn't actually harm themselves or each other and, in some days, actually get something done, like sketching or cartooning or writing or cleaning or organizing or spending time in the bathroom all by myself...

That blessed time is ended.

We were able to get away with cribs this long because our daughters are, by all criteria, angelic.  You think I'm kidding, but it's true.  They are fantastically wonderful girls.  We said climbing out of cribs is a "no-no," and they actually followed that rule.  Aside from proudly demonstrating for us from time to time that their little feet can indeed reach all the way over the side, neither has ever disobeyed the rule that they are not to climb out.  Miracle as that is, a few months ago when we suggested to our twins that we could remove one side of their cribs to make them "big girl beds" so they could get in and out all by themselves, both rejected the idea.  I was startled neither wanted her freedom.  Then I realized neither wanted her sister to have freedom.  You see, they share a room, and with their cribs intact and secure, each controlled a sort of castle keep, sometimes walled with blankets for added privacy, lined with plush-toy sentries to repel would-be invaders (read "twin sister").  Yes, freedom is great.  But even pre-schoolers know (and possibly pre-schoolers know this better than adults) freedom must be defended.  And defending freedom is exhausting.

Taking hearts in hand, possibly overconfident, not entirely unaware, we recently agreed our girls were "old enough."  With much adieu and production in due recognition of this momentous rite of passage, we removed one side off the cribs.  And now...we have lost containment. 

For the past three days, nap-time has been a 2 hour session of pre-schooler wind-sprints.  As if I can't see their tiny bodies flash back and forth from bed to bed through their slightly open bedroom door, or hear their giggles and squeals as they drag everything they own from one bed to the other, my twins have the nerve to look genuinely surprised when I appear and order them back to bed.  Ten thousand times in an hour.  Today they had the decency to engage in this mania fairly quietly...but come on!  Without naps, they're normally fried by six.  Add the running and heart-racing glee of being sneaky and they're practically face-planting by supper.  And grumpy, and clumsy, and zombie-eyed...  

History, Mystery, take a nap already!  Have you seen this book?

Our new rule is that once in bed they are not allowed out of bed until mommy or daddy says so.  To date, this rule seems only to apply at night.  No amount of sit-downs or talking-tos or stern looks has stemmed the nap-time antics.  So for the time being, and foreseeable future, I have lost my nap-time work-window and am back to writing only at night, with a brain bruised by hours of "get back in your own bed!" and "leave your sister alone!" followed by hours of being whined-at, tugged-on, and "no!"ed and "why?"ed to near insanity.  

Still angelic mind you.  But tired angels.

What better time to put Pilar's book, and myself, to the test?

My first attempt came--and quickly went--yesterday.  To no fault of Pilar's, I got through the Introduction (one page) and How To Use This Book (page and a half) before the day succumbed to twin-juggling.  In fact, I got just far enough to read that at the end of each ten minute "Take Ten" exercise (which I look forward to attempting), I'll see a summary of "What you've accomplished," which Pilar promises will remind me that I have actually moved forward in my story "despite the short amount of time in which you've worked."  Well, it was indeed a short amount of time.  What did I accomplish?  

I got started.  And that's not nothin', sweetheart.

So, I'm gonna stick with Pilar (I'll keep you posted on the new project and its progress), and I'm gonna channel my Dragon luck (starting now, whether it starts now or in February), and I'm gonna tell myself the Mayans would've simply tossed the old and started a new calendar in the eleventh hour of 2012 just like the rest of us who wait to the last minute to buy our new calendars so we can get 'em at half-price.  This year mine features tree frogs.   

Dragon up!

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