Prove or disprove and salvage if possible

Both your children will be away, people said, thus you will have a productive summer. In honor of my younger child, who is studying number theory for six weeks straight, let’s do the math. On the plus side:

  1. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, and laundry are far easier and cheaper. (I cannot BELIEVE how much less money we are spending on food.)
  2. No one is inconvenienced by my favorite work schedule.
  3. Knowing my kids are happily having successful adventures eases my mind. My daughter communicates constantly so we knew right off she was thrilled with her internship; my son is cagey but when we visited we finally felt assured he was okay.
  4. I can’t think of any other pluses. Until the kids are twelve or so, they need ferrying to part-day camps as well as close attention much of the time. My youngest is 17 and has a driver’s license. He hasn’t been needy, except in that way teens can need you in unpredictable spikes amid long intervals of independence, for ages. If I have more time in his absence, it’s minimal.


  1. Sad, sad, sad. Husband is sad. Cats are sad. Well, one cat is.*
  2. The U.S. government.
  3. My screwed-up town.
  4. Existential crisis brought on by the 3 problems above.

It’s a wash. I’m getting a perfectly respectable amount of work done for an empty-nest academic in the summer, but so far, no holy miracle of ramped-up sentence success. I spent June enacting deep revisions to my novel manuscript, responding to very good advice I received from a small press, and we’ll see where that goes. I enjoyed concentrating on it, at any rate, and it’s definitely a way better book now. And I’m a better writer for having undertaken the challenge.

I’ve also been reading in all genres, working on submissions, and writing a few poems, although I find tuning my brain to fiction-writing makes poetry harder. I’m now revising a couple of essays and finishing research for a third–I’m visiting an archive near Richmond on Tuesday, so Chris and I will stay overnight and share a fancy dinner, maybe visit a museum. I really don’t know yet how much I’ll finish by the time September hits in all its frantic glory. I’m trying not to worry too much about that, either, although being zen about the passage of summers and outcome of my labors–well, it hasn’t been my specialty. Working on it.

*The other cat, pictured below, is wondering if it’s snack time yet. Honey, aren’t we all? Also: good friends for whom I am very grateful; a number theory problem set; taking the mathematician out for dinner; and a new poem in Grub Street, with cool art and a handwritten edit.


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