Friday, July 15, 2016

Scenes from the Writer's New Life

It's hard to focus on a hard revision when my new home remains chaotic and I could be organizing, cleaning, and hanging up pictures, rather than fixing this book. The news, which is heartbreaking everywhere, every single day, also makes it difficult. But I am focusing and fixing the book, because it feels even more awful not to.

 I stuck this on my new window.

In the meantime, it isn't all chaos.

 Here's one of my favorite kitchen nooks, full of treasures.

The Scully candle says "Our Lady of Common Sense."

 These little guys live on my writing desk.

 My magic wand and my magic umbrella are in position.

  My new home has lots of charm but few electrical outlets, so I've had to get creative in some places…
 like in my bathroom, where these little solar-powered night lights charge up every day in the window.

Further afield, yesterday in New Jersey, we got together with this distinguished gentleman…

That's my dad.

...and totally learned to GOLF.

See my jaunty cap and collared shirt? They are evidence I'm a golfer. Along with
the golf clubs, of course, lent to me by my wonderful (and left-handed) Aunt Rose!
Sort of.

It was our first time. We started at the driving range, where my dad taught us the basics, demonstrated a few things, then made extremely kind and encouraging comments as it became clear that I CAN'T HIT GOLF BALLS. Oh my goodness. They're so small and far away!

 Kevin's batting average was much higher than mine.

 See how he's looking up? I never hit a ball high enough to need to look up.

 Dad, in the meantime, is a wonderful golfer.
I'm pretty sure Kevin is saying "Wow" here.

Oh my goodness. When I actually managed to hit the ball, it would usually go in the right direction, and sometimes it would even have some lift and go a little bit far. But probably 75% of the time, I didn't even hit the ball. ALSO, TODAY I AM SO SORE. FROM SWINGING VERY HARD AT AIR.

Dad demonstrates.

Kevin imitates.

Dad tries to find the ball I hit into the shrubberies.

Now, don't imagine that I got discouraged. I got the ball in the hole eventually every time. Look, here I am lining up my putt! Aren't you proud of me?

Dad kept getting pars and bogeys (if you don't know anything about golf, that's amazing). Kevin consistently scored a few strokes above par on every hole, which is excellent for a first time. I lost track of my strokes on every hole, but listen, I'M A WRITER. This means I'm extremely good at being dreadful at something; working at it stubbornly for a really long time; then eventually becoming slightly less dreadful at it. I'm going to keep trying. I would also like to point out that Kevin was wearing a Pokémon badge. Everyone knows that's good luck. It was lent to him by my nieces, who don't care a fig about golf (OR ME APPARENTLY) but had earnest hopes that Kevin would catch some Pokémon on the golf course. No one thought to lend me a Pokémon badge. Humph. Little traitors.

(Hang on, it just occurred to me that they are six and they can read now. Sweethearts: That was a joke!)

(Can you believe they are six? Almost seven! Eek!)

Despite how unbrilliant I am at golf, this was my favorite new thing I've done in a while, because, well... we got a golf lesson from my dad. :o)

Now I'm home again, and I've gotten back to work. My muscles will start to feel better, I'll continue to chip away at the chaos… and every day, my little night lights will sit in the window soaking up the sun, so they can spend the nights doing this.

Sweet dreams, everyone.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Moving and Floating

We decided to go to Float, this place in Somerville where you close yourself inside a small floating tank with body-temperature water containing a thousand pounds of Epson salts (causing guaranteed flotation), and, in silence and complete darkness, float for an hour.

Why, you ask?

Curiosity, I guess.

You step into this tank of water and close the door.

I went into this with no expectations, other than looking forward to doing absolutely nothing for an hour in the midst of a very stressful week (my moving week!). People who float regularly talk about amazing meditative experiences, and while I wouldn't say I went into this with cynicism, I definitely wasn't expecting an amazing experience. I was prepared for the possibility that it might be relaxing, just as I was prepared for the possibility that it might be completely stupid.

Turns out I loved it.

While Kevin in his tank was apparently spinning around in circles and running a series of hilarious experiments (which he told me about later), I just lay there in the body-temperature water, trying to become accustomed to the very odd sensation of not being able to feel my own body – except for these two throbbing things at one end of the tank that I recognized as my poor aching feet (moving is so hard on the feet!). At one point, my inability to feel my body freaked me out a little bit, but I flexed my various muscles and became reacquainted with my own body and was able to relax. I didn't think about my move while I was in there, not once. This wasn't a choice; it simply never entered my mind, despite it being my entire life at the moment. I achieved an emotional clarity so quickly, and found myself thinking about deeper things, the important things I haven't been able to access during the whirlwind of moving. I thought about these things with a level of clarity that I've previously only ever experienced while hypnotized. Most amazing, though, were the physical effects. I went into that tank with aching, burning hands, forearms, and feet. In the tank, suspended in water, it was like weightlessness, it was like sleeping on a cloud, all my muscles relaxed, and I came out of it with zero pain. Floating did not feel as good as a massage, but afterwards, I felt physically better than I feel after a massage.

To my great surprise, I may go again sometime when I'm in the midst of stress – especially if the stress has physical manifestations.


So, I now live in a new home! I can without reservation recommend Anton's Moving Company. Sergey, Taras and Dan were careful and tireless and fast, and made heroic efforts to get my couch into my new apartment. They went so far as to hoist it over the balcony and remove my door. Alas! It turned out to be a physical impossibility. My couch is mine no more! It's okay, we were able to keep it in the family.

Yesterday, while purchasing a new, small, narrow couch online that will definitely fit through my door, I was amused to notice the little drop-down box where you indicate how many you want to put into your shopping cart. Do many people buy more than one of the same couch? Today, while looking for coat hooks at Pottery Barn, I chose one of their couches at random and investigated how many I could put into my shopping cart.

I wish I'd thought to check on the giftwrapping charge for 99 couches.

Afterwards, I closed my browser and wandered off to organize my new kitchen. Later in the day, Pottery Barn emailed to remind me that I still had items in my cart. Did I forget to purchase them? Yes, thank you Pottery Barn, I did forget to purchase 99 green Chesterfield Grand Sofas.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading my first blog post from my new home. Despite the chaos, I already love it here, and now I'm going to put some books on some shelves.

Monday, June 27, 2016

My Mother Made Me a Hat

So, the movers are coming tomorrow, and though I'm surrounded by exquisite disarray, I feel this is the moment to blog pictures (taken by Kevin) of a very special (perhaps even magical) hat. Because now is the time to celebrate beautiful things. :o)

My regular readers know that I knit. Well, my mother knits on the superwoman level.

She made me this hat.

Look at the hearts, the intricate designs that went into the making of this hat…

The adorable tassel.

Furthermore, it's some sort of special Scandinavian double hat, basically knitted as two continuous hats that you shove one inside the other, and actually quadrupled around the ears, not to mention that it is made of Icelandic wool, all of which means that I will never be cold again. But also, the first time I sat with the hat (which my mother had given me without comment), examining and appreciating it, I found myself wondering whether she had knitted any fancy designs into the inside hat.

So I pulled the inside part out…

And found a secret inside.

Upside down and backwards inside the hat she made for me,

my mother knitted my book titles.

Yeah, so. Thanks, Mom, for what's basically the world's best hat.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Monday, June 20, 2016

Common Stories Event with Nancy Werlin and Annie Hartnett this Friday evening in Harvard, Mass

Hi all! If you're looking for something fun to do in eastern Massachusetts this coming Friday evening, please join me and writers Nancy Werlin and Annie Hartnett for a Common Stories event Upstairs @ The General, taking place at 7:30pm at the General Store in the town of Harvard, Mass. Each of us will read and answer questions, and then we'll be available for book sales and signing. There's a $5 cover charge and food and wine will be available for purchase.

Here's a press release in the Harvard Press, and here's the Facebook page. The General Store is at 1 Still River Road, Harvard, Massachusetts 01451, p: (978) 430-0062.

I'm in the middle of a hectic revision (again) and am moving house next week, so I will endeavor to read from one of my actual books, rather than accidentally reading from my master packing list, or bursting into tears (for example). :o) Just kidding. I'll be in great shape, really. Come join us!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

"Look for the Helpers"

One of my sisters lives in Jacksonville, Florida, which is relatively near Orlando. She says the lines to donate blood go all the way around the building and the wait to donate is two hours or more -- at every donation center she tried.

Mr. Rogers says, in moments like these, that we should look for the helpers. That's where the hope is.

My heart goes out to everyone.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Monday Randutiae

A few links for your Monday...

Jon Almeda at Almeda Pottery makes the teeniest, tiniest stuff on his teeny potter's wheel. Here's his Instagram. Ack! So beautiful. (Thanks Alison!) ETA: Here's a gorgeous collection of pictures at Bored Panda.

In a similar vein, Althea Crome at Bugknits knits with needles sometimes practically as thin as a human hair. Her miniature knitting galleries are so much fun to peruse. Teeny, tiny knitting art! (Again, h/t Alison! ^_^)

The theme of the 2016 Met Gala was Manus x Machina and the clothing choices were appropriate. For example, Karolina Kurkova wore a "cognitive dress" with LED lights, the colors of which changed in real-time depending on the moods of users commenting on the gala via Twitter. Here are a whole lot of pictures (collected at the Huffington Post) of people dressed up for the gala.

I really liked reading Andi Zeisler's opinion piece in the Washington Post, "You can wear high heels and be a feminist. But please don’t write an essay about it." I keep trying to come up with a summary to share with you, but it's brief, and it's its own best summary, so I encourage you to follow the link and read it.

In Rome, women are meeting to discuss female priesthood in the Catholic Church. Says panelist Jamie Manson in this NPR article, "Imagine if a church of one billion people, with this charismatic, rock star pope, suddenly said to the world, that women are equal to men. Imagine the power that would have over cultures across the world, where this patriarchal idea of women's subservience to men is at the root of all that women suffer globally." I, for one, can say that if the Catholic Church suddenly decided to commit to the notion that women are equal to men, I might first die of shock. And then I would be happy to be reborn into this new world.

[Triggers ahead for rape/sexual assault news.] Finally, as you may have heard, Brock Allen Turner, a 20-year-old former Stanford swimmer who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, was recently sentenced to six months in jail because, according to the judge, Aaron Persky, a longer sentence would have had "a severe impact on him." Gee, I wonder how long the impact on the victim will last? The woman who was assaulted by Brock Allen Turner has written an open letter to her assailant, and it's wonderful, powerful, irrefutable, compassionate, and completely admirable. It's also hopeful; it did not leave me feeling powerless, in case that helps any hesitant readers to decide whether and when you have the emotional fortitude to read it. You can find it here.

That's all I've got for now. This week I'm plotting, packing, and getting started on the job of buying a car (!! It's been years since I gave up my car!! But I'm moving to a place where I will benefit from having a car. Can I ever find a car I love as much as I loved my last car????). I'll report back soon.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Final Score

Heh heh.