Saturday, March 26, 2005


I'm waiting on a lot of things these days, it seems. Waiting to finish the novel (until Monday...which would be my grandfather's birthday -- and I've got this hoody-goody voodoo superstitious thing about finishing my books on a significant date, not sure why such the last one was such a bust despite the cool finish-date). Waiting to do my taxes. Waiting to boil the eggs for Easter.

I started painting the murals for my first client yesterday. Frogs. Lily pads. Three birds on a branch. It was amazing how nervous I was painting someone else's walls. Perhaps the fact that she no longer has any of the base coat paint left...sort of like writing in pen instead of pencil.

Tomorrow we're throwing a brunch/Easter egg hunt...very small. This damn cold wet March weather is not abating, so I think the Easter Bunny will likely leave eggs only inside.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Night-Blooming Cereus

Funny how things that didn't quite fit into my other books are finding their way into this one. Today, in the next to the last chapter, the night-blooming cereus metaphor just, finally, belongs. I thought it belonged in Undressing the Moon, but it didn't. IIt only took four years to find the perfect spot. Anyway, I am feeling melancholy about this book coming to an end. It's like when a good friend moves away. Post-partum depression. I'm dragging, dragging my feet (and all other appendages as well as a heavy sack of rocks) as I near the end.

On Friday I'll be painting frogs and snails for a 15 month old. I met with his mom today, to discuss said frogs, and ended up staying to chat for over an hour. I'm finding the other moms here is so bright (this one a lawyer who has decided to stay home -- a Harvard grad, no less). Tomorrow is another Purim party at Kicky's school. And this weekend we hunt for eggs. This poor child is going to be so confused.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Dyna Day

Writers by Day... Posted by Hello

Remember this show? It was on Saturday mornings in 1976/77, part of the Krofft Supershow (along with "Sigmund and the Seamonster" and "Dr. Shrinker"). Electra Woman (Deidre Hall from Days of Our Lives) and her sidekick, Dyna Girl were writers by vocation, crimefighters by necessity. I always identified more with Dyna Girl (being a brunette and all). Today I had a Dyna-Kinda-Day, exhibiting some pretty serious superheroics...not fighting crime per say, but exercising my superhuman ability to multi-task. I managed to write another chapter, do two loads of laundry, secure a new mural client (frogs and ladybugs), knit about four rows of a baby blanket, file three months worth of paperwork, do two days worth of scungy dishes, feed the kids three almost-square meals, and bathe them both simultaneously without anyone drowning. Of course, they were stuck in front of the TV most of the day, prompting Kicky to announce (to no one in particular), "I'm a PBS kid!" Probably better than whatever I learned from Sid and Marty Krofft.

Monday, March 21, 2005

View from the End

Posted by Hello

Today I wrote the climactic scene of the novel...and it was the most shivery, fantastic writing moment that I have had since the pond scene in Undressing the Moon. And here I was, with no one in this time zone to share the sheer crazy of being almost done (and it working, working). Patrick wasn't answering his cell. And really, I'm not sure who this really matters to anyway. How do you describe the ridiculous elation of telling a 293 page (thus far) lie?

Still buzzing with it all, I picked Kicky up from school and took her to her best friend, Ella's house for an impromptu playdate. Esmee infected every toy in the playroom with her own special recipe of snot, drool, and dribbled milk. No one seemed to mind. And now the girls are screetching and chasing each other around the house -- a pre-bedtime pagan toddler ritual.

Tomorrow begins the wind-down. The slow spiraling. The denouement. It's all downhill from here.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Fever Weekend

Finished the final Betsy chapter today. And the final 1968: Fall chapter as well. A wonderful paragraph about a blackberry made all of the recent efforts seem worthwhile. Now I'm trying to come up with an apt title. This is the hardest part. Everything I come up with is either trite, pretentious, way to elusive, way too sentimental, or already belongs to another book. I'm thinking about something like "Two Rivers Elegy." Friends and husband nixed "Blackberry Elegy." (I told you I fancied that blackberry paragraph.)

On the mommyfront: last night we almost took Kicky to the emergency room when I realized that she wasn't trying to get out of dinner but was actually very, very sick. After I managed to teach her how to put the thermometer under her tongue, we discovered that she had a fever of nearly 104. Not to worry, the doctor said (after I had already played out in mind a diagnosis of meningitis, acute lymphoma), they aren't typically concerned about a fever until it exceeds 107. 107??!! As it was, you could practically see the heat rising off of her...wavy little desert highway aura. I brought her to the doctor this morning, and after having to trick her into allowing the doctor to "tickle" her throat with a Q-tip, the diagnosis wasn't even Strep, but a "virus." And because we have a deductible, this little virus will cost us around $80. And the saddest part is that doctor's orders were to stay home, missing the Purim party at her school. We did our best to replicate the festivities in the living room. Patrick and I donned costumes from the dress-up box and banged on instruments as we listened to the Big Band station on our digital cable. Afterwards we made a lemon cake covered in jellybeans. Tonight she went to bed feverless. But alas, Esmee was dripping from eyes and nose, and I feel that certain little tickle in my throat...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Meltdown at the Playground.

This morning I started writing the chapter where Betsy dies. I've been anticipating this for so long now; it seems strange that I'm actually at the point in the novel where it happens. And though we know from Page 1 that it's going to happen, there is something sort of heart-wrenching about actually illustrating it. All of sudden there Harper is, standing in the middle of the road, in the rain, holding her....there's a point where I start to believe in my characters. I think I'm finally there.

I put the book aside to pick Kicky up from school. Ella couldn't go for milkshakes today (or unofficial Friday ritual), so I did the lazy thing and got a frosty from the Wendy's drive-thru. Feeling high from the book and a double cheeseburger, I gave in to Kicky's pleas to go to the park. It was a gorgeous day, and there were about six thousand kids at the park. I have no idea what happened, but as I struggled to keep Esmee from eating a fistful of wood chips, I became "that mom" know, the one with the bossy kid. The one whose child is screaming at all of the other kids, barking orders at the slide, chasing kids off of their tricycles. All of the neighborhood moms...most of them seemed to know each other...silently watching their children being terrorized by my monster. Huddled and whispering. Conspiring, I'm certain, to ban us from the park. an effort to save face, I called Kicky over, said that it was time for Esmee's nap. Like it would be that easy. Within seconds, I'm scooping her off the slide (Madelyne Toogood, I feel for you honey) and carrying her, kicking and screaming, away from her victims.

And so, like the library (a whole other story), the park has become one of those places we can't go.

This weekend I am meeting with one of the neighborhood moms about painting a mural on her daughter's wall. Maybe I can ingratiate myself this way. Mama Frankenstein.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


First. Posted by Hello

Today Kicky starts dance class at The Atlas. It's called "Creative Movement," and I suspect that's a good thing. Patrick is excited to give me a tour of the facility. It's the reason we're here. The dance studios are open now, and The Joy of Motion has moved in.

This morning was devoted to the book...I neglected both children (am ignoring Kicky's request for "two pink ribbons" as I write) all morning, opting instead to work on a Betsy chapter (just before she dies). The whole book is sort of spiraling toward the end. All of the small pieces are starting to fit together into a cohesive whole. All of these crazy tidbits and characters that didn't seem to matter are suddenly integral to the whole story. This is the magic. This is why I do this.
It's like dancing...all those steps (first position, jete, tendu) coming together into one glorious piece.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Losing my tail.

The merbabies. Posted by Hello
On December 26, 2004, our family left Ocean Beach, California where we had lived for the past eight years and moved toWashington, D.C. just in time for Bush's inauguration. Here is the story of the move and its repercussions. (The move, not the president, though that might figure in here too.)

Thursday, March 10, 2005