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Autumn Crisp

As I waddled to the train station this morning, my breath puffed in front of me in a soft, vaporous cloud. This is the first morning that it has been cool enough for condensation, though the trees noticed weeks ago that it is time for the season to change. The crispness of the air feels appropriate, even late, now that it is already halfway through November.

Likewise, my life has folded neatly at the corners this weekend, as I turned in the last of my assignments for this semester and completed a few other goals. Not having a school-aged kid in the house any more, it really does only feel like the beginning of autumn for me now, as the weather actually gets cold and my own projects wrap up and leave space for new ones. Things have been very busy, as we’ve been preparing for our daughter to arrive. There are classes at the hospital (and, being a lover of education, I have signed up for them all), endless doctor’s appointments, prenatal yoga classes and reading, reading, reading and researching, as I try to understand what babies are all about and what she will need.

I know very little about babies. Small children are also a mystery. My only sibling was born fourteen years after me, an ocean away. We didn’t actually meet for the first time until he was six years old, so even the few memories that I have of him before he came to live with us don’t give me much assistance on how humans who cannot speak operate. I imagine that I have a great deal to learn. I am excited about the journey.

One of these days, we’re going to have to admit reality, and actually begin putting together a nursery. If I manage to go full-term, which is looking less and less likely, we have less than three months left to prepare. Our baby shower was this past weekend, which means that we are now suddenly equipped for many aspects of the baby’s life. When we got home, we immediately pulled out the baby bathtub and set it up on the sink so that we could learn how to use it. We ran the water in, trailing our fingers through it to see if our human thermometers matched up with the electric thermometer on the tub. We laughed as we pulled plugs and drains and forced it to overflow to see how it would work. I picked up the cat and joked that we should give it a try. All it was missing was the baby to put in it.

She will arrive, in time.

Next week, my thesis writing courses begin. These classes are the primary reason that I was interested in graduate school — the thesis itself is a finished novel of professional quality. This last semester was also encouraging; I finally feel that my short-story writing is getting to a polished enough state that it’s worth sending out for publication attempts. We wrote to some fairly strict writing prompts, which was frustrating at the time, but I was surprised to see what I managed to do with the limitations. I approached each assignment with the idea of coming up with the most creative interpretation of the restrictions possible, then wrote from there. I’ve always rolled my eyes a bit at writing from a prompt, but I found that it actually helped me to do better, more focused work than writing without guidelines. That was an interesting lesson and one that I want to think about as I go forward with my thesis planning. I’ve been tempted to use the thesis classes to pick up one of my two novels-in-progress that have stalled for lack of limitations. Perhaps it wouldn’t be the worst thing to have someone help me corral in the material that has gotten a bit out of hand.

Decisions to make, decisions to make.

In any case, I have pulled out a new writing notebook, which was given to me as a present for doing another writer a favor. It feels like an auspicious place to begin new things. I can’t wait to start.

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