Category and Genre: Adult Memoir
Word Count: 73,000
When you’re burned out and suicidal, moving to a tropical island seems like the perfect solution. But when I quit my job and dragged my husband off to live in the Canary Islands, reality was far from paradise. For one thing, we moved in with my in-laws, two teenage girls and a mother-in-law that hated my guts. For another, I got pregnant. Having a baby is stressful under the best of circumstances, but add in culture shock, diabetes, and an impenetrable language barrier and you get a combination that would test anyone’s sanity. To make matters worse, I was terrified of being a mother and had to reconcile with impending parenthood – and fast. Cuckoo’s Cradlesong is the memoir of a woman who tried to find serenity on a beach, overshot, and discovered self-acceptance in a pile of baby poop instead.
First 250 Words:
I finally lost my mind when Rosie died. Before then, I’d played peekaboo with my inner agoraphobe and had a brief affair with binge eating. But after Rosie dropped dead of a heart attack, I couldn’t hide the crazy anymore.
The last time I saw my friend alive, she wore a paper crown. The words “Princess Puke” were scrawled on it in glittery puff paint. Andy, one of our special ed students, had thrown up in class again. Rosie – my friend, coworker, and surrogate mom – braved the threat of inverted oatmeal to escort him to the nurse’s office and call his mother. It was a weekly occurrence. Rosie’s crown was in recognition of services rendered above and beyond the call of duty.
That afternoon, we sat in a middle school faculty room in Utah. It smelled like old Jell-O and sounded like a muted tidal wave, the roar of our students who waited on the other side of the wall. Linda and Margret, my fellow teachers, cheered as Rosie curtseyed and laughed, holding her crown on with one hand. “Speech!” we cried. “Speech!”
“Well, I don’t know what to say.” Rosie pressed her palm to her chest. The hand was wrinkly and liver spotted. Despite her youthful demeanor, she was nearing sixty. “This is so unexpected. It will go great on my resume when they really do fire me and I apply for that job as a Wal-Mart greeter. They always need someone to mop up there.”