Monday, August 18, 2014


I swear that one of these days I'm going to write a substantive post with, like, words and stuff. Until then… If my fairy godmother shows up one day, she had better be aware that I expect no less than this dress. Have you seen this dress? It's made of recycled and discarded Golden Books. Look at this dress. After you do that, look at more pictures of this dress, designed by Ryan Jude Novelline. WOW.

Thanks, Jess :o)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Herve Tullet Introduces His New Picture Book, Mix It Up!

This 50-second video is charming.

I've had a chance to see an early copy of Mix It Up! (out in September), and I would go so far as to say it's my favorite Herve Tullet yet.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Resurrecting My Birthday Poll

It's birthday month on the blog! I'm sending birthday wishes all over the place and keeping some for myself. Happy birthday, Leos! Please vote in my important birthday poll, everyone!

As always, if you can't see the poll, go to my Blog Actual.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sweet Songs and Dancing

This SYTYCD Top 14 dance, choreographed by Travis Wall and performed by Jessica Richens and Casey Askew, is so lovely and sweet, but every time I watch it, I'm utterly puzzled by the last few seconds. I feel like something must've gone wrong there. Surely it's not supposed to look so much like he's suddenly trying to look up her dress? As always, sorry about the screaming. There was one season (5?) where the producers made the wonderful decision either to make the crowd shut up or to screen out the screams for the television viewing audience, and it was SO nice, but apparently someone has since decided that screeches add to our experience. Blech.

(BTW, if you want more Travis Wall, here's his routine choreographed for the top 7 guys.)

It can be a bit painful to watch a SYTYCD dance if you're familiar with the music, attached to it, and find it uncomfortable to hear it chopped up and reassembled. The song in this number, "Like Real People Do" by Hozier, has the sweetest, strangest lyrics:

I had a thought, dear
However scary
About that night
The bugs and the dirt
Why were you digging?
What did you bury
Before those hands pulled me
From the earth?
I will not ask you where you came from
I will not ask you and neither should you
Honey just put your sweet lips on my lips
We should just kiss like real people do

Here it is in its entirety, if you'd like to listen.

As always, if you can't see the videos, go to my Blog Actual.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More on Being Small

A friend who read my blog post yesterday sent me this lovely video of Peter Mulvey performing "Vlad the Astrophysicist". Melancholy, sweet, centering, and exactly what I needed. Thank you, Rosa.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Locating the Moon

There are stretches of time in my writing life when I wake up eager to work and have one productive day after another. Then there are stretches like this week, when I wake up feeling like it's intolerable to be on page 12 of a difficult 400-page revision, and am I really supposed to be in charge of making all these decisions? Is it really up to me and only me to decide what's best at every moment? To figure out the solution to a lot of complicated problems? By myself, in this room today for hours?

It becomes difficult to keep my focus small. Instead of the group of pages that are my small task for today, with a small list of objectives, I start thinking about all the changes the book needs as a whole, and I get overwhelmed. I start thinking about how many days this big revision is likely to take, while my editor and other people are waiting, and I get overwhelmed. My friends might find me to be a little bit glum, because during these times, I tend to see the world through revision-colored glasses. Honestly, I feel like I'm five years old and scared and need hugs.

All of this is why this morning, I went online to find out the state of the moon. Here in the Boston area, the moon is a tiny waxing crescent today that sets at 9:13 PM. This explains why haven't seen the moon for ages: it's been up during the day, and very small. But I'm going to make a point of finding it today. One of the things that kicks me out of this rotten feeling about my revision – consequently making it easier for me to sit down and do the actual work – is to step back, far, far back, and get some perspective on how little this revision actually matters. For example, how much would this revision matter if someone were looking at it from the moon?

The funny thing is that two opposite answers exist at the same time. It would matter hardly at all; look: it's so, so small when seen from the moon. Often I like to back up even further, get myself out into the further reaches of the galaxy, so that the sun is just a dim dot. None of the things that feel overwhelming to me here in my office feel overwhelming to me if I'm looking at them from some other part of the galaxy. I find it intensely relieving to be reminded of how small we all are and how little it all matters. My life is a tiny little speck of a thing.

Yet it also clarifies how important every tiny thing is. The universe is a big mystery made up of tiny things. We are tiny, but our lives are intense dramas that matter. This revision doesn't matter, but it matters a whole lot to me.

I'm not sure why, but every time I'm able to get this kind of perspective, it becomes easier to sit down and work.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rainy Randutiae for a Sunday

  • As I'd hoped, a number of friends emailed me with suggestions of superhero role models for girls. So many, in fact, that I'm going to have to set aside some time to organize it all before I post it – but it will be forthcoming. Unfortunately, most of the suggestions were for teen readers and older, which leaves the youngest girls waiting, but it was encouraging. Many, many thanks to those of you who reached out :o)
  • I'm listening to Peter Gabriel's more recent album Up – one of his darker albums. I love these lyrics, from "Darkness," which is a song that reminds me of early Peter Gabriel (the self-titled albums), mainly in the way he balances silence and sweetness with crashing noise – this sentence has gotten ridiculous, but here are the lyrics I love: "I have my fears / but they do not have me."
  • I've gotten a few of my friends to start using Siri to dictate on their iPhones. (If you have an iPhone and there is a little microphone symbol on your keyboard, you can do this, too.) This means that now I get to enjoy other people's dictation frustrations. Recently, from codename: Cordelia: "So it looks like my phone can do FaceTime? Not sure though – I pressed FaceTime on your contact and it started raining. I have no idea what that means though. Actually, it did not start raining, though that would have been quite an omen." And from a friend who was giving me some personal advice: "Of course none of this is a moral issue or anything – I'm just thinking in terms of what would be most thanks traducing. Actually, thanks inducing is what I meant. Angst inducing!! My god, I'm beginning to think Siri doesn't have an exit stencil bone in her body. OMG! She can't even say exit stencil!"
  • While I'm at xoJane, I like Lesley Kinzel's article, "Dirty Dancing Is a Subversive Masterpiece and Here are Four Reasons Why." Probably the most touching moment for me in this movie, which I can recite practically from heart, is when Baby confronts her father after All the Stuff has happened. She tells him that she's sorry she lied to him – but he lied to her, too. "You told me everyone was alike and deserved a fair break," she says. "But you meant everyone who was like you. You told me you wanted me to change the world, to make it better. But you meant by becoming a lawyer or an economist and marrying someone from Harvard.... I'm sorry I let you down. I'm so sorry, Daddy. But you let me down too." They're both crying, and you can tell that he (played by the magnificent Jerry Orbach) is listening, and hearing what she's saying. Perhaps because I also have a father who listens and hears, I have always loved the father/daughter relationship in this movie. *sniff* Oh, and just so you don't get the wrong idea about my father, if he had ever suggested to young me that being rich or having social status mattered, I would've bundled him into the car and taken him to the hospital, convinced he'd developed a brain tumor.