Extra, Extra! Read All About It.

I’m opening a long-closed blog door, peaking inside, breathing in dust. I’m calling out to see if anyone answers. If they don’t, it’s because they’ve moved on, as people often do in long abandoned rooms.

Annnnnnyway. I have a new website and I wanted to let my friends know about it.

Full disclosure: I’m almost finished with a novel I love, and it will enter the world before too long. It’s got all the things I’m interested in woven into its fabric, i.e. sisters, sons and daughters, jealousy, violence, school shootings, God.

The website is a more “professional” Internet home, though, Lord knows, I’m not the professional type. The website itself in its baby stage, but there’s a way for people to stay connected to my work by signing up for my newsletter on there. If you do, I’ll send you a short story I wrote. It won a prize I’m pretty proud of.

So, but this is the kind of thing I hate to do–mention my writing in a “join my email list” kind of way. But this is how it is, now, folks.

This is how it is.

If you’re still reading, and you feel like it, head on over to hannahvanderpoolbooks.com and sign up for my newsletter to stay in touch. You’ll be the first to know when my book baby takes its first wobbly breath. I’ll also be sending out free stuff (fiction) once-in-a-while. Oh, and news.

It may be that I’ve written all of this for the sake of that little mouse over there in the corner. If so, I hope mice like to read.

Love,

Hannah

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Since Then

June was insane.  I finished a draft of my third novel by writing every day for thirty days, no excuses, including weekends (I logged about 40,000 words).  During ten of those days, my husband was singing in California, leaving me to parent our 12, 13, and 14-year-old on my own (read: forage for brightly colored foods like pop ice and cheese and binge-watch old episodes of House while the kids played too many video games when they should have been sleeping).

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(Photo by my son, Ivan)

By the time my husband finally came home in early July my youngest sister and her three kids were already visiting our home to celebrate Independence Day.  Then, suddenly, my grandmother passed away, and my middle sister and her three kids drove thirteen hours to join the rest of us during that hard time.  The last seven days are a smear of lipstick and tears.

And, to quote Sarah Mclachlan, I’m so tired that I can’t sleep.

A few things come to mind: 1). Life happens in contractions.  There’s the normal we get bored of and there’s the pain we resent.  2). We don’t appreciate the respite without the strain in-between, and 3). You can still get a lot of stuff done in chaos, but you’re always glad when you managed to work ahead and can somewhat avoid that I-can’t-feel-my-feet feeling.

And then there’s this.  God is always good, even when life isn’t.

The One Percent

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As I type, my daughter lies sleeping next to me.  We’ve been up since 5:00 A.M, stuffed stray shoes in backpacks, filled coffee mugs one last time, because my sister and her kids left to return to their home in VA while our town still slept.  They were with us for over a week, a blessing we didn’t anticipate because we hadn’t counted on the winter storm that painted our city and theirs in clean, thick white.  We couldn’t have been more pleased.

We did a lot in our eight days of togetherness–a little homework, a lot of Netflix watching, video game playing, late night giggling, drawing, even poetry reading.  We took turns cooking our favorite comfort foods and tossing paper plates and napkins into a continually popping fireplace.  We stared at one another’s messy hair and naked eyes and smiled comfortable smiles.

We are rich in family.

I told all six kids that after they’d piled into one room to spend their last night together.  Rich as Croesus.  Not everyone is.  And just like with material wealth, those who live in abundance should seek out those who don’t, in order to bless them in small or big ways.   My prayer is that some of what filled our house this week will spill over into other lives that intersect ours–to pay it forward, somehow.

In the meantime, I’ll keep warm this winter from inside out, my heart stoked with the orange embers of sister love.

The Invisible Tie

My sister is coming to visit tomorrow, and it’s at just the right time.  It’s always at the right time–one I can hardly plan and didn’t know I needed until after she arrives.  Then she parks the van, and the kids tumble out,  and I realize I almost wasn’t making it before but that I didn’t know it.

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And then I feel that jolt, you know the one, when you jerk in bed because you think you’re falling off the edge, and your heart is left racing at something that never happened.

Sometimes my heart races when she and I are sipping coffee in my kitchen because, what if she hadn’t come right when she did?  But then I tell myself it’s just a bad dream. Because she always comes when I need her.

Sisters

DSC_0219I wake up to a fast heart because there are minutes over coffee that I’ve already wasted,

and I can’t remember what day it is.

So I hurry on a wrinkled cardigan I grabbed off the floor (I’ve stopped picking up around here),

and I find you in the middle of the kitchen, with crazy hair and childhood eyes, and

you’re sipping my memories with careful lips.

You see that my face is blotchy, that I look like something from the future, but I don’t mind,

for once.

Because my future will have you in it, and we’ll sink together as we listen to

Dvorak and watch Wheel of Fortune, in three of those gliding chairs.

Eyes Wide Open

We have family staying with us for several days.  There are sisters and kids everywhere,  lots of goodness and extra pairs of shoes by the back door.  Since I’ve been out of sync with my routines for weeks now, I’m tempted to get antsy when I think of the days ahead, though I love each person under my roof.

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I’m tempted, I say, but I’m determined not to give in to the feeling.  Because I’m understanding, more and more, that life is just a handful of breaths–and that God and people are the only real things when it all comes down.

Routines should serve us and not the other way around.  So the thing I’m going to do this week, if I don’t do anything else, is to look my people in the eye.  I’m going to be here, listening and remembering, not writing my novel in my mind, or grumping about the watercolor days.

I will stay awake.