Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Post-Holiday Mean Reds

What is it Holly Golightly said she got sometimes, The Mean Reds? After dragging the tree out of the house leaving a pound of needles in its wake, after washing out the now-empty snowman cookie jar, and after putting out the mountain of cardboard boxes for recycling, I'm feeling agitated. I hate the days after Christmas.

Anyway, Christmas was awesome. The girls were precious...they swear they heard Santa's sleigh taking off ("the whooosh," Kicky explained). It was a day of gluttony all around. Eggnog pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast -- a four pound roast and nearly five pounds of mashed potatoes for dinner. We all went to bed that night fat and happy.

Christmas may be over, but the packages keep coming. Today we got the Cuisinart Indoor Grill we ordered (it has a griddle and a panini press!!) and my book on the Minnesota Starvation Experiment arrived. I am obsessed with this...found out about it during my research for the new book. 36 men (mostly conscientious objectors) volunteered to participate in this experiement at the end of WWII in an effort to understand how the ravages of war would be remedied...they were starved and refed over the course of a year. Fascinating. I think Sam's novel is going to be about this.

Anyway, here are my cuties on Christmas Eve....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


That's just me coming up for air.

Alas, as the semester came to a close and just as I thought I might be able to breathe again, I took on more freelance work...needless to say, the blog and my novel have been put on the back burner on a stove that is probably not even in my kitchen. This morning I got up at 5:00 just to let my characters know I haven't stranded them in their unfinished story. I am feeling particularly antsy to make some headway because I have big plans, BIG PLANS, for next year. I might as well make the announcement now...

My first New Year's Resolution:

1. Live like a mad poet for the next 365 days: 365 days. 5 days off. 360 poems.

I am going to live, breathe, and eat words next year. I am going to try to live my life, for one year, through a poet's eyes. (That and exercise more. Eat less crap. Be a better mom. Watch less TV. Well, maybe not that much less TV.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I did it.

I really did it. I finished a very rough draft of a novel. 29 days. 51,000 plus words. 200 pages. (This is the screen shot of my NaNoWriMo profile page...) I am sick, exhausted, and happier than I've been in a long time. Wow. It's 9:40 in the morning, but I feel like I need to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne.

I did it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mad Hatter (Knitter, Shopper, Writer, Raker)

I am in super-duper-girl mode today. Kicky had a field trip to see the Lincoln Memorial, so I got an extra hour at home to work. I got up at 5:00, wrote 2500 words, got the girls dressed and fed, went to Target (finished birthday and Christmas shopping for the girls as well as bought a gravy boat), came home, knit a sweater (well, part of a sweater) while watching a documentary on eating disorders (research), picked up the kids, raked every goddamned leaf off the front lawn, and ate a bowl of homemade chili. I can do anything!!!! (Actually, I'm not feeling so hot...sort of feverish with chills...but I can still move mountains!!!)

This weekend Kicky is having a Mad Hatter tea party for her birthday (15 or so kids). I'm making a teapot cake complete with a door mouse and "Eat Me" cupcakes. Then, later that day, the Thayer Family is arriving (yay!) with our awesome nephew. I am so looking forward to their visit. I love Thanksgiving; it always means sisters visiting. I wish my own could be here. We're having about ten people for Thanksgiving, and I am going to get the biggest turkey I can find. I'm thinking 50-60 pounds...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Wowee. The gala at The Atlas last night was nothing short of spectacular. It started out with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, an a capella group of DC cops (the Doo-Wop Cops). Then we were led into the flex theater for dinner (food from the three ethnic groups that founded H Street: Jewish, African-American, and Irish). The sweet potatoes were the best I have EVER had. During dinner we were entertained by a hip-hop dance troupe and Cirque de Soleil acrobats (not together...though that would have been interesting). After dinner, we were all led upstairs to the main stage theatre for a musical based on the history of H Street. Lastly, there was dessert (little tiny pies and donuts and tarts). It was moving to see this building, this community beginning to flourish again. And my husband was a ROCKSTAR. The media was following him around with cameras. I am soooooo proud of the work he's done. His mom came for the event as well, and she was teary-eyed throughout the whole night.

The book is still on track...16,000 plus words at this point. And joy, of joys, Effie (from Breathing Water) is back! I won't spoil things, but I was so excited when I sent Mena on a walk to the boat access area at Lake Gormlaith, and found Effie there (and she wasn't alone).

Tomorrow I am talking a game plan for Two Rivers with well as about this new book. I am excited about it. God knows if it will ever sell...I need to stop worrying about that. It's paralyzing.

Oh, lastly, I got interviewed this week by a Washington Post editor who is writing a story for the Sunday Source on NaNoWriMo. My picture might even be in the paper! How exciting. Now I HAVE to finish the novel this month.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Still ahead

I took yesterday off from the novel to clean the house...NINE loads of laundry, good gawd. But I was back up at five a.m. today, and I'm at 12,000 words. The book is sort of all over the place....not much has happened in the present story, but we're getting a whole lot of the family's history. I really, really like Finn. I actually like the whole messed up bunch of them. Franny is hazy...but then, again, she's the dead one.

Anyway, the grand opening gala at The Atlas is Wednesday. P's mom will be here tomorrow night to help us celebrate. I'm so proud of all that he's accomplished since we got here. The Atlas was featured in The Hill Rag last week....with a terrific picture of him in one of the theatre spaces.

Friday, November 03, 2006


So whatever bug I had came and went...thankfully, and I wrote through it. I have now gotten up at five o'clock three days in a row, and I have almost 8500 words (I haven't uploaded since this morning). It's amazing how holding back all these months is making this whole process go so easily. I've spent so much time thinking about the story that it actually feels like it's writing itself. Also, I didn't wind up making a soundtrack CD. I just turn on MusicMatch and find music for the mood I'm looking for, and hit Play. (Today it was Norah Jones and Yehuda Hanani, an Israeli-American cellist I discovered.) If I had to pick a song/composition to be theme song right now, it would be this: Nocturne, Op. 19, No. 4 - Tchaikovsky . It's so beautiful and haunting...

Things I didn't know before I started: Mena is Greek. Sam has a stalker/potential biographer. Finn is in love with a girl who's going to Brown.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Day One

Good writing day...check out my word count! I got up at 5:00, fought to get MusicMatch started, and then went for it. 12 pages down. I am starting to get the stomach bug though...cancelled class tomorrow, since I spent much of my day crippled in pain.

Sad news in the literary world today. William Styron has passed away.

More tomorrow as long as I am able to get from my bed to the computer.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Countdown Begins

Only three and a half hours until NaNoWriMo begins. Tomorrow, I start writing the novel that will change my life. Scary, huh???? Check out the Nano will update as I spew. My goal for Day One is 2500 words. Any ideas for a first line? (Keep in mind the book is about manifestations of hunger.)

Meanwhile, check out my lovelies:

The eyebrows are what make the costume. I missed my calling as a makeup artist, I think.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pandas and Pumpkin Guts

What a great weekend...a beautiful wedding last night. Today, I finished the panda mural for our neighbors' new baby. Then while P and the girls carved pumpkins, I made hot cider and Rice Krispies Treats. I just love Halloween.

(I based this on illustrations from a really sweet book called Big Panda, Little Panda).

Good thing I have on Kicky's old mermaid costume. This looks fishy..... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Good Mail Day

The boots arrived today (and they fit!!!!). So did some really pretty yarn I ordered. So did a rejection from Soho which said that Two Rivers has "enormous commercial potential" -- too literary for the mainstream publishers, too commercial for the literary folks. I can't win.

Did I mention I'm going to write a doozy of a novel next month? (I figure if I say it enough times I'll be too ashamed not to follow through.) I am tying up all loose ends here (editing stuff, lesson plan prep, house stuff...hell, I've even started Christmas shopping). I imagine wee hour mania for a month and dream a pretty little novel at the end. I told my agent my plans today. I'm certain he's ready to write me off as a certified lunatic any day now.

But here's a real crazy thing. I found a scarf knitting pattern on a blog which (come to find out) is written by a knit-chick who also is a nanowrimo lunatic. Is this proof that compulsive writing and compulsive knitting have something in common???

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In the trenches

I am in a bidding we speak...ebay, a pair of vintage Frye harness/biker boots I've been coveting for months. Wish me luck. (Wow, this is like gambling or something...)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wish Lit

In case anybody's interested in what I want to read (or if you want to get started on your Christmas shopping)'s the list I've been compiling on amazon:

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
(Mostly interested because it's gotten such a huge amount of press.)

Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz
(Mentioned on my friend, Nichelle Tramble's fabulous blog.)

Every Visible Thing: A Novel by Lisa Carey
(Sounds a lot like the book I'm going to write next month.)

Paint It Black: A Novel by Janet Fitch
(Loved White Oleander...also sounds a little like Mary Gaitskill's Veronica.)

Once Upon a Day: A Novel by Lisa Tucker
(Don't remember where I heard about this one.)

When Madeline Was Young: A Novel by Jane Hamilton
(Hamilton is another all-time favorite.)

History Lesson for Girls by Aurelie Sheehan
(Another mystery addition.)

One Mississippi: A Novel by Mark Childress

Cellophane by Marie Arana Jumping the Green by Leslie Schwartz
(Lots of local press...she's a Washington Post book editor, I believe)

The Tenth Circle: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
(Never read her...this one sounds interesting.)

Firefly Cloak: A Novel by Sheri Reynolds
(I'm a sucker for the mother-desertion novel.)

Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas
(Another Mississippi Freedom Summer book...)

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright by Jean Nathan
(I was obsessed with the Lonely Doll books as a kid...totally freaky. The author's story is SO bizarre.)

Breathing Water (so much water)

Rain. Rain. Rain. God, this is miserable weather. And I still have yet to buy an umbrella. I was so desperate this morning, I brought Kicky's ruffly little Degas ballerinas umbrella to school. I looked like an idiot.

Jim's meeting ran late, so I had to meet him after I picked the girls up. We had a nice (though loud and slightly embarrassing -- the girls were putting on quite a performance -- and there was the everpresent danger of hot cocoa in little hands) lunch. Got home and decided I absolutely do not want to venture back downtown for Tayari's reading tonight. I am so useless after 7:00 p.m. anyway.

Oh -- weekend recap. I got sick. Really sick. I cancelled workshop Saturday morning and spent most of the day in bed. What a was almost worth feeling like ca-ca. No one else in the family needed me...and I slept. Also, my neighbor wound up having to have an emergency C-section. It was so scary...she was in a bit of danger for a while, but luckily both baby and mama are fine and coming home soon.

This weather makes me want to curl up with a book. I have a huge wishlist going on's how I keep track of the books I want to buy. Still reading Ordinary People; just finished Digging to America (Ann Tyler).

Oh yeah...I just got a call from my old agent's office that there's been some film interest in Breathing Water. I'm not going to get my hopes up though...these things almost never pan out.

Friday, October 13, 2006

13 Friday

What a weird day. I woke up feeling particularly spunky, gathered my paints and brushes, had a quick cup of coffee, said goodbye to the girls and P, and went next door to work on the mural. C. in her crazy but understandable pregnancy-induced forgetfullness lost the book I was using as a reference, and so I started by painting the tree and leaves. (The pandas could wait, I figured.) So, C. had a doctor's appt. and she left me to my work around 9:00. I had forgotten how much I love doing murals. It's so satisfying to see my ideas materialize in such a vivid and visual way. There is something to be said for the immediate gratification factor of the visual arts. Anyway, just as I was packing up my stuff to go, C's mother called to tell me that she had been admitted to the hospital (pre-eclampsia) and that she was likely going to have the baby today.

I went back to the house, thrilled in that "there's a baby on the way" sort of way, and found an e-mail from the director of the program at school, accepting my insane offer to teach three classes next semester. (Private pre-school tuition is going to be the death of me.) It's normally not allowed, but the chair approved it, and it made me feel sort of nice. Valued. Respected. I then got an e-mail from a former student which was very, very kind. I felt so puffed up and happy all day.

Anyway, I'm waiting for the call to let me know whether the baby is a Declan or a Zadie (or a Lydia). P is out for some fundraiser at a bar thing-y, and I plan to watch "Shopgirl" and then go to bed early.....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

6X and Beyond

DONE with the journals. And the semester is already half over. Fall semester always goes at lightning speed...

Tomorrow I am painting a panda mural in my neighbors' nursery (a big tree and a panda mama and baby). She's due in less than two weeks, so I really need to get on it. I have it sketched out; I just need to paint it. I'll post some pictures when it's done.

This weekend I plan to catch up on sleep. We are also (maybe -- babysitter pending) going to go see "DYBBUK" (the Teatr Novogo Fronta in collaboration with the Embassy of the Czech Republic) at P's work. I know nothing about it, but a night out with P sure does sound nice. Next week my writer friend, Jim Kokoris, is in town and we're going to meet for lunch. Tuesday night I'm going to hear my GW colleague Tayari Jones read at school. I feel like such a grown-up this week! I might even, I don't know, do something crazy like go clothes shopping for something bigger than a size 5T. I think I grew. Halfway thru my 8:00 class the other day I realized my pants were about an inch highwater. Is it possible to keep growing after 3---, I mean 29??

Monday, October 09, 2006

Grading Misery

I am losing my mind. I will never, ever require journals in my classes again. I spent the entire day yesterday grading my students' notebooks...deciphering illegible writing, locating the often well-hidden assigned entries, and trying to fairly evaluate the unevaluatable. (And I am only half-way done.) I've taken over the diningroom table in an effort to keep my real office clutter- free for the upcoming novel writing experiment:

Note: that's only half of the journals. That brown box? It has a 500 + page manuscript I am editing. The plastic bags hanging off the chair have the beginnings of homemade witch and cat costumes as well as a male to male HCMI cable that needs to go back to RadioShack but just can't seem to find its way there despite the fact that it cost $50, and we don't need it. Also, notice the piles on the secretary behind the table. Those are my magical mystery piles I just keep adding crap to (right now the top items are a kids' toy catalogue that has been ripped to shred, Taz's kitty brush, some important financial papers, and my rejection binder for Two Rivers. I'm waiting for the desk to break before I actually file stuff. God, I'm turning into a hoarder...
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 08, 2006

"Book" Hot

Here is the funniest discussion about whether some of the "hot" young authors out there are actually hot or not.

I read an interesting article once about the importance of looks in the publishing industry, questioning how Virginia Woolf might have faired in the biz today...

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I have taken procrastination to a new level today. Made it into an art form. I have thirty journals, thirty critiques, and four stories to grade as well as a 500 page novel to edit. What did I do instead??? Made matching hats for P and Kicky. Of course.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Taz at rest. At last. Posted by Picasa

No plot, no problem, no-vember

I am getting so excited about the great nanowrimo experiment of 2006. I just got my copy of No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty who started Nanowrimo in 1999. I just started reading it after class, and it's fabulous. The whole premise behind Nanowrimo is that a novel written with a strict deadline creates a sort of psychological freedom... As a writer, I play these games with myself all the time. Because who really cares if I finish the next book? Certainly not the publishing companies. Even my agent isn't tapping his fingers impatiently. they all have bigger fish to fry. But it matters to me. I need to write the next book. Baty says, "A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most ass-kicking form." And I need a big kick in the ass.

I have this notion that I'm going to wake up at 4:30 every morning to work. (I actually having been getting up pre-dawn for school two days a week, and I find that I am both spunky and inspired after the initial hell of pulling myself out of the sheets.) I imagine a quiet house, a cup of coffee, two and a half hours of time to tap-a-tap-tap my heart out. I think preparation is key...and I've been taking notes, plotting and planning, imagining without letting myself write a single word. I'm hoping the story will explode out of me by the time I sit down to write. (Optimism, optimism.)

Anybody want to join me? Come on, let's write a book next month. It'll be fun.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


We adopted our new (old) kitty today. His name is Taz (Tazzy to the girls), and he's eight years old. His family ditched him at the Humane Society when they got a dog. He's so cool...a gray tiger/tabby. He purrs incessantly, and has spent the afternoon rubbing up against things.He hasn't eaten yet, and the litterbox is pristine, so I'm a little nervous about nighttime. But I don't seem to be having any allergies, and he appears to be a mellow, mellow cat. Even P seems to be falling for him...and he's not even a cat guy. I'll post pictures as soon as my camera batteries are charged...Kicky wore them out the other day taking pictures.

Speaking of which, I just ordered a digital camera for her for her birthday. It's made for kids: unbreakable, a two hole viewfinder, handles, pink. It's only a 1.3 megapixel, but it can hold fifty pictures without a memory card, and she'll get such a kick out of it. Yesterday her class took a field trip to a pumpkin patch, and her favorite part was looking at the pictures afterwards. My little Diane Arbus. My baby Annie Leibovitz!

Monday, October 02, 2006

High Def

What a busy weekend. On Friday night we went to P's friend's house with the girls (she has two boys just about their age). We made homemade pizza (rather the kids made and then threw small weird piles of dough -- her oldest son even chucked his clear across the diningroom nearly bringing down a gigantic oak-framed mirror, apologizing, "I was only showing off!"). They were such a great couple...just as crazed and overwhelmed by parenthood as we are. It felt nice to commisserate. It's always so life-affirming to find out that your kids are no more bizarre than other people's kids.

On Saturday I taught at The Writer's Center, then we took the girls to the Humane Society to look at cats and test for allergies. After a half hour of petting and squeezing, there was no sneezing so we're pretty sure we're safe. I made a roasted chicken (with a fresh lemon, thyme, rosemary, garlic rub and parmesan mashed potatoes), and P and I had the semblance of a romantic dinner.

On Sunday morning the TV pooped's been threatening to for over a year, and with the horrendous possibility of a whole day with the kids and no PBS Kids, we made a beeline for Best Buy and got a fancy schmancy HDTV LCD TV... Not in the budget, but what can you do? We turned on a football game and you could see the players' eyelashes and shoelaces. Amazing. We also made a visit to Smokey at his foster home. Fell in love...he's a sweet cat, so our application is in. They'll do a home visit soon to make sure we'll be fit parents. Last night I made turkey reuben sandwiches...

What I didn't do this weekend was tackle the pile of student notebooks I have sitting on my desk. They are a nightmare to "grade." (How do you grade somebody's free-writing???) I also didn't do the laundry. I didn't put away the clothes that Esmee has outgrown, and I didn't update Kicky's website. But I did manage to get my car to the shop to investigate the clunkety clunk, and they discovered one of my tires had some sort of tread issue. Of course, I haven't had my tires rotated, so there's no way the warranty would cover it. The kind (I'm actually not being sarcastic...he bought the girls juice and gave them lollypops and came in under his estimate)mechanic also called my attention to the fact that I have reached 15,000 miles and (if I want the warranty to cover any future problems) I would need some pretty heavy maintenance. $300 later, the car doesn't go thumpety thump anymore. What am I, made 'a money???? I also did manage to drag the Halloween decorations down from the attic and assemble a scarecrow out of overalls, a pair of old boots, a pillowcase and a bunch of plastic bags. There.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Kicky and Esmee would eat that poor cat alive She wouldn't even come out of the bushes when she saw me coming. Maybe we'll go to the Humane Society this weekend. There are a couple of cats I have my eye on...

Making chili, but I don't think I soaked the beans long enough. Nothing like a bowl of crunchy chili.

I need to read Jude the Obscure. The teenaged neighbor girl in my new book is going to be named Folly. (The mother will be a high school dropout who got the name from the novel, but misspelled Fawley).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ordinary People

I am reading Ordinary People for the first time. I picked it up, because I understand it was this slushpile-find phenomena of the seventies, and I was curious. I also wanted to see how she handles the aftermath of the death of a child. So then, this weekend, in the Post, there was a review of Lisa carey's new novel, Every Visible Thing which referred to Ordinary People. Now, Lisa Carey is also the author of The Mermaids Singing, a novel which came out not long after I first got an agent for my never-to-be-published novel, Paper Rain. I remember my old agent talking about it, comparing it to my work. I can't tell you how many times I'll have an idea for a story/book, and then I see something similar pop up somewhere. This actually happened with The Lovely Bones as well...which came out not long after I finished another never-to-be-published book called Small Sorrows (a book about a child abduction and murder, go figure). It always makes me wonder if there isn't some sort of creative collective consciousness among writers. Either that or I'm just terminally a day late and a dollar short.

Anyway, I think I've finally decided on a point of view: third person limited, alternating between the main characters. I may change my mind. I did about a third of the way in through the last book.

Tomorrow I am meeting the cat. 8:30 a.m. at feeding time. By afternoon we could be pet owners. This is exciting stuff for someone whose only real pets in the last decade have been two bala sharks named Lenny and George (rest in peace).

Monday, September 25, 2006


I'm feeling strange today. I don't know exactly why. A bookseller sent me several books to sign. I guess he plans to sell the signed copies to collectors or something. It made me so sad...the hardcover library editions and galleys, clearly books he bought on ebay or amazon for pennies. Rarities now. None being made anymore.

On a lighter note, I think we may adopt a cat. It was P's idea...surprisingly since he's not a cat fan...but someone in the neighborhood has a stray they're watching until someone adopts her. Her name is Funny (though Kicky plans to christen her Sasha). Maybe a new little creature is just what we need around here.

I was awake half the night last night thinking about the opening of the new book. This story is so cinematic in my head...I can picture all of the scenes. I am typically a visual person, but these ideas are more visceral than usual.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I went to school early this morning (still dark out, coffee in a travel mug, fifty degrees -- early), and spent the hour before class wandering around the university library, which is beautifully deserted at that ungodly hour. Here's what I checked out:

From Feast to Fasting: The Evolution of Sin
Salinger's Glass Stories as a Composite Novel
Still Time (photos) by Sally Mann

The cover of Still Time is a photo, "Night-Blooming Cereus"

that I desperately wanted to be the cover of Undressing the Moon. SMP had other ideas, however. The photo book I really wanted was Mann's Immediate Family. (I couldn't get the self-checkout machine to scan the damn barcode). Anyway, her daughter, Virginia, looks so much like Esmee, the photos feel strangely familiar.

I don't know where this weird research is leading, but it will lead somewhere. It always does. New novels begin this way: meandering, exploring, and then obsessing.

There's a little boy in Kicky's class who spent the entire year last year learning about dinosaurs. He could steer every single conversation back to Triceratops. So, the other day I thought I was being clever and asked him what color dinosaur eggs are. His answer? "Oh, I don't care about dinosaurs anymore. I'm into Power Rangers." I want to be like that. Bring on the next obsession, please.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

To Do

I really thought that having two mornings a week completely to myself would be exactly what I needed. I imagined myself writing away, being pro-active with my lesson plans, and cooking lavish and healthy meals to be served to my adoring family come dinner time. What has actually happened is that when the door closes and the rest of the family is gone, I find myself filled with anxiety, making elaborate lists of menial things that need to be done and then spending thenext several hours trying to prioritize and execute these items, feeling guilty the whole time that I am neither writing nor planning nor cooking anything other than my own daily breakfast burrito when I realize I've forgotten to eat. For example. Today I envisioned making a reading list, outlining some major scenes for the book, and actually reading some. What I did do:
  • balanced the checking account
  • stressed out
  • paid the car payment
  • stressed out about the clunking sound that's happening somewhere in my driver's side wheel
  • went grocery shopping (the kids went to school with the most ridiculous excuses for lunch ever -- plums, hard-boiled eggs, and juice boxes)
  • planned my lesson for tomorrow
  • sent out a bunch of e-mails trying to procure either payment for the various and random jobs I do, or to actually procure the jobs themselves
  • said "Hi" to P, who came home to grab the car emissions test paperwork
  • stressed out about the car emissions test
  • said "Bye" to P, who probably sensed how stressed out I was and decided that anywhere might be better than here
  • made a breakfast burrito while talking on the phone to someone about payment for one of my various and random jobs, spoke to someone else about a new possible job
  • returned my dad's call
  • and now it's 11:30 and I have a half hour before I leave to pick up the girls

I've been having dreams where my entire world is falling apart. Last week I dreamed that we lost Kicky in an airport. I also dreamed a bunch of hippie kids took over the treehouse and turned into a sort of hip after hours club. Last night's dreams were too bizarre to mention. They've been lingering with me all morning though. I need to cut down on the caffeine. I need to get back to writing. I need the beach.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Same 'Ol Girl, Brand New Website

Sorry about the earlier post. Bad day.

Anyway, I decided to post the new website. Why not? I was going for a sort of treasure chest effect. If nothing else, at least the info is all current. I hadn't updated the old site since 2001. So much for dynamic content.

Here's the link:

If this is your first visit to Mermama (via the link on the new website) -- Welcome to my mad, mad world.


House of Cards

The"A Prayer for Owen Meany" post-show discussion at The Round House Theatre was really fun. First of all, the performance was incredible. It was perfectly cast, and Blake Robison did an amazing job of interpreting Simon Bent's script. I was pretty nervous about getting up on stage, but the audience (for the discussion) was both small and receptive.

Did I mention my new method for plotting? I've been lugging around these spiral bound notecards lately. Everytime I get an idea (for a scene, an image, a character), I jot it down. I'm hoping that by November the book will be full, and I'll simply have to sit down, pull them out, arrange them, and write the next book. It seems pretty simple, but I've found it so liberating. usually I keep all that crap in my head until it's time to write. They're like little magic recipe least in my imagination anyway.

I need to get a full time teaching job. I am working so, so, so hard...teaching a full load without any of the financial (and other) benefits full time status. Oh, woe is me.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Real World

So after four debaucherous and languid days at the beach, I am home and thrust right back into the throes of the real world. San Diego was amazing. We got to meet our friends' new baby: Rowan, who is truly, truly, truly one of the cutest I've seen. It seems impossible to me that Esmee was nearly two pounds lighter than he is. Such a small, small peanut.

Dan and Angie's wedding was beautiful (on the beach, her dad officiating). The reception was fun and the food was fantastic: fajitas, fajitas, fajitas. I am growing softer and softer around the middle with each foray outside of the DC Metro area.

Back at home, I've started teaching again. My classes are early (8:00 and 9:35), and the back to back schedule makes me feel a little like a record skipping.

In an effort to stay sane about the book, I've been furiously jotting down notes for the new one. My plan is to write it during nanwrimo in November. I spent five years on Two Rivers, to no apparent avail. Undressing the Moon took only five weeks. Maybe I just work better in marathon mode.

On Sunday I am going to be the guest at the Roundhouse Theatre's Post-Show Book Club discussion of the stage adaptation of A Prayer for Owen Meany. I'm nervous but excited as well.

Fall is descending...and I am starting to get that lovely autumn feeling of possibility. That back -to-school hopefulness.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Painting Rocks. Posted by Picasa

I'm back!

I am home again, home again, jig, jig, jig from Vermont. The month was terrific, but full of activity. I frankly wish I'd had just a few more days where I wasn't on the road or visiting, but when you only get home once a year you really are forced to cram things in. The girls had a blast...trips to Santa's Village, the County Fair, Ben & Jerry's factory, Lake Champlain, and their first Chinese Restaurant experience. They swam in the pond, ran in the yard, climbed up into the treehouse, and ate s'mores. My best friend and her kids visited a lot, and they were so good to the girls. Summer cousins...

This year, my grandmother decided it was time to part with a portion of my grandfather's library, as well as with his Underwood. So, I came home with seven boxes of books, an antique typewriter, and an Andrew Wyeth print I gave him year's ago that hung in his study. I can't wait to unpack everything in their new home. My parents are also bringing down his Alice/Lewis Carroll collection (about twenty books) for me. This may be the most exciting inheritence of all.

I am feeling overwhelmed by everything I have to do this week. School starts at GW (and for the girls) tomorrow. That always knots my stomach up. Patrick and I are also leaving on Thursday for San Diego. We're going to a wedding and, possibly, greeting our other friends' new baby (if he arrives in the next few days).

Today is also our seventh anniversary. Boggles the mind. Seven years.

No (good) book news yet. Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sick and Tired

I am sick and tired of summer. Literally sick. And tired. (Two more days to prep for this trip and I got hit with some upper respiratory malfunction. Does it sound like I am always sick? I'm not, I'm really not. And actually the whole stomach thing has gotten quite a bit better.) I think it's this hellish weather that brought it on. This heat is the most oppressive and depressing thing I've ever experienced. Our entire family is crabby and snotty and wheezy (except for P who rarely gets anything). I can't wait to get to the pond.

I've been reading Franny and Zooey again. I want to create my own Glass family. I think that's where this new book is going. As much as families are integral to my other books, they are really peripheral to the central story (except for, maybe, Nearer Than the Sky). I want the family to be the main character of this next one. I'm dying to see "Little Miss Sunshine" for this very reason. It looks terrific. Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, the southwest, a roadtrip and a child's beauty pageant at the end...right up my alley.

Anyway, this may be the last post for a bit. Little access to the internet in Vermont. Probably not a bad thing for me...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


So there's a whole new attitude that goes along with the shiner. We're calling her "Bruiser" these days.

I've written what I think will be the first chapter of the new book...though you never know. I'm having a hard time deciding on the point of view, but my cast of characters is coming into focus. I also have a pretty good sense of the plot. Go figure.

I've been mostly reading about hunger and fasting, including Kafka's "A Hunger Artist" this morning. I also checked out "Hunger" by Knut Hamsen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

princess and the pea

The party was a tremendous success. Kicky found the pea for the first time and got to wear the tiara. After the shortcake, a rousing game of "Pin the Pea on the Mattress," and a terra cotta pot and glitter glue craft project, everyone went home exhausted but happy. Esmee and Kicky jumped in the pool and knocked heads. the Princess has a big-ass lump on her head.

Before and After

I had a dream the other night that I was eating seriously felt like I was digesting straight pins.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Close Call

Last night I went out with L.D. for dinner. We decided on Utopia because my stomach is such a mess that I can't eat anything even remotely spicy. We had such a nice time, catching up. I had the seafood bisque which should be illegal, and then at around 9:30 I headed home.

So there is this intersection (Georgia Ave. and Aspen), which I drive through every day. I just made a comment last week to P that I'm worried that I'm going to get hit there someday. Every time my light turns green at that intersection, I make sure to look before going ahead...I've seen a lot of people blow through the red light, and so I always wait a second or two to go. But last night when the light turned green I waited a couple of seconds, and then I got the sense that I should wait a few more seconds. It was like some weird gut feeling that if I pulled forward something terrible would happen. And then, as I'm at a dead stop with the green light to go, a car coming down Georgia (on my left) at about fifty miles an hour runs right through the red light. If I hadn't waited, that car would have crashed into the driver's side of my car. There is absolutely no way I would have lived through that. I have no idea what stopped me. Maybe it was just me being cautious, overly cautious, or maybe it was something else. I don't know. I'm just glad I'm not dead today.

Stomach still hurts like a mother...L.D.'s going to send me some anti-inflammatory diet info. All the stuff I hate: dark green leafy things, whole grains.

The Princess Party is this weekend.

I have started the next book. It's about hunger.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Firecrackers Posted by Picasa

Firecracker, firecracker, boom, boom, boom

Finally, something great happened today. I used my B&N gift certificate my sister gave me for my birthday to buy Miss American Pie (a memoir based on the author's childhood journals) and The Rich Man's Table (another Scott Spencer novel). The package came today after a violent storm, and I opened it up to find that the Scott Spencer book is signed. What a perk.

Did I mention that I think I'm getting an ulcer? I had the same thing happen when I was in college, and I'm worried that it's happening again. It's hard to believe that this stress is on the same level as the stress that caused that to happen, but maybe.

Tomorrow night I'm going out with one of my longest friends (she's actually quite a bit shorter than me -- ha, ha). She's got a great shoulder though.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I haven't written in so long, I feel like I'm calling up a friend I've neglected. Remorse over laziness.

I don't understand this place. Last week it rained for days. Days and days and days. Our porch roof leaked, an eighty foot tree two houses down just fell over one night, decapitating a telephone pole and leacing us powerless/phoneless/cableless for more than a day. And then, just as things started to look up, yesterday (the 4th of July, for Christ's sake), it came back and last night I spent six hours in a pitch black house while the air outside was exploding...I didn't know whether it was thunder or fireworks or some terrible Korean missile. This weather is killing me. It was also ninety degrees without even a whisper of breeze. The poor girls were drenched in their beds. I sent P to our friends' to celebrate the holiday...he would have gone mad, I think, in all that hot darkness.

Despite the recent weather, my birthday weekend was so nice...a visit from P's mom, rhubarb pie, and a night out which included Mexican food. Amen.

Only a few weeks left until the girls and I make our way to Vermont. P will be joining us for a whole week this year. I am looking forward to working on the new book. Meanwhile I'm reading like mad...just finished Men in Black (no relation to the movie) by Scott Spencer. I am his newest biggest fan.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Tomorrow is my birthday. I am wondering how many more 29th birthdays I can get away with. Maybe 2 or 3??? No big plans. P's mother will be in town, and so on Saturday night we're going out. I told P I want Mexican food. I'm pretty easy. I do require a rhubarb pie, however. I'll probably have to both make it and eat it though. The rest of the family doesn't share my passion for the 'barb...

This is me when I was really 29. I don't look that much older, do I?? (Notice I haven't included a recent pic for comparison.) 29 was a good year. I published my first novel, got engaged, got a big grant. Maybe this 29th will be spectacular too.

I've been going through the girls' old clothes and artwork...after watching an episode about hoarders on Dr. Phil, I got motivated to go through the boxes of onesies and mountains of fingerpaintings that have been gathering in the corners of our house. It's so hard to throw/give away that stuff. I finally got the collections down to a manageable size; there are some things I just won't part with. At least I don't keep tuna cans and cereal boxes, I guess.

I'm starting to think a lot about the new book. I think this one is going to have multiple points of view. I start teaching the Intro to the Novel workshop this weekend. The timing is perfect.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Squawk! Hallelujah.

I am totally obsessed with photographing these baby birds. Watching them is fascinating. I think the fourth egg is a dud. It still hasn't hatched.

I finished Holy Skirts last night. It was amazing. I checked Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson and Ordinary People by Judith Guest out of the library the other day. I have found that getting books out of the library makes me read faster...knowing that I have to bring them back really helps me get to the end.

I am starting to get excited about going to Vermont this summer. I spoke with my grandmother this morning. She wants me to go through my grandfather's things...including a virtual library of books...and bring back anything I'd like. Time to get more bookcases. He has THREE encyclopedia sets, a leather bound set of the classics, an entire bookcase of philosophy books as well as shelves and shelves of poetry and fiction. Nevermind the files and files of ephemera he so meticulously kept. In my file is a pop-up book of Hansel and Gretel. Their house is like a giant treasure chest. I am also going to bring back his Underwood to add to my typewriter collection. I inherited my other grandfather's typewriter when he passed away a couple of years ago. My most prized possessions.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Happy Father's Day to Daddy Robin! The baby robins have started hatching. There are three so far.

Last night was wonderful. We had friends (and friends of friends) over for a barbeque. It was an international night...only in DC. Our guests were from Israel, Africa, France, and Mexico. One of our friends brought some Vietnamese coffee, and another brought the most delicious homemade icecream I have ever tasted. We let the girls stay up and catch fireflies. When they finally went to bed, I put the container in their room so that they could keep watching them as they fell asleep. Esmee was simultaneously fascinated and freaked out by them. We all ate too much, drank too much. It was a blissful night...mosquitoes kept at bay by a new citronella lantern I bought. Terrific conversation.

One of the guys from France, who is my age, said that he recently started destroying all of his photos after a couple of years. This way his memory isn't skewed by the photographic images. I was horrified by this idea. I think that so much of my memory is intricately tied up with the images found in old photographs. He said it was either brave or stupid, he wasn't sure yet. Maybe a little of both?

Today is Father's Day and I bought P a fishing pole and tackle box, got him his fishing license. He's so excited. It is also my dad's 60th birthday. I need to call him and give him a hard time...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Blue Eggs, Blue Eyes

I forgot to mention a while ago that I went to check on the dove eggs one day, and they were gone. Just gone. No evidence of foul (fowl?) play whatsoever. And then a couple of days ago I noticed some bird activity in the exact same spot on our fence. And then yesterday, lo and behold, I found this: a nest with four perfect robin's eggs. This spot must be prime real estate for young bird families, I guess. They must not have heard about the last residents.

Esmee now says "Blue Eyes" when she plays "Peek-a-Boo." I think she's trying to say, "Surprise."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Arrival of the Fireflies

A dreamless night last night. Maybe it was because the fireflies have finally arrived. Last night I sat outside for an hour watching them. Took some pictures. The streak is me moving the camera to follow one of them.

This weekend we are going to barbeque. I am looking forward to having people over. I've felt remotely remote lately.

Also, I think I'm getting an ulcer. My stomach has been hurting for days now. My body is pissed off at my brain.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


The dreams are getting worse. This morning, after getting up and reading "Little Quack" to Kicky who was feverish again and complaining of a stomach ache at 3:00 a.m., I fell back into a sort of death sleep in which I dreamed that my old agent had read the revised version of the novel and had nothing good to say about it. She said it was "worse than the first draft," that Betsy was a terrible character, that none of it was believable (or readable for that matter). And then there was a horrific moment when I couldn't figure out how she'd gotten a copy of it...was it out there, circulating the streets of New York, was I the laughing stock of the literary world?

I need a hobby.

It's gray outside, and George Bush is on every channel. Great way to start a day...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Gimme fever

There's a fever raging through our house. Esmee got it first: 103.5 at the highest. Kicky is now crashed out on the couch with a 104 temp. Last night it was almost 105. The weird thing is there are no other symptoms (besides the vomiting which I think was because of an Ibuprofen overdose). She is miserable. You can feel the heat coming off of her. So far I just feel a bit of a pit in my stomach (which very well just live there anyway). P seems fine too.

It's pouring rain outside, Esmee is asleep, and the house feels weird. Infected. Too quiet. I've been tumbling through my to do list and actually managing to cross things off. Planned for my class tonight, ordered the first season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for my dad for Father's Day, balanced the checking account. I lead a thrilling life.

I'm reading Holy Skirts now...picked it up again...and I think it's genius so far. Rene is a brilliant writer.

Friday, June 09, 2006


I've been having disturbing dreams lately. While I was in San Diego, I had a dream that I was eating goldfish out of a fish tank upon the back of which a dirty, scabby, Ty Pennington was clinging and sucking algae like some terrible human suckerfish. Last night I had a dream that Angelina Jolie's body was stuffed under a manhole in my backyard, and I was the only one who knew about it. But while my subconscious is busy defiling celebrities, I've actually been feeling sort of strangely happy: a sort of calm before the storm feeling. Precipitous. San Diego seems to have rejuvenated me. I am finding that I have tremendous new reserves of both energy and tolerance with the girls. I am placid. Patient.

Reading This Book Will Save Your Life. Not my favorite A.M. Homes, but it's pretty good on the heels of a visit to southern California.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ocean Beach

I'm back from the beach and a little melancholy. Being there made me as homesick as I suspected. It didn't help that the weather was perfect...sunny, seventy, with the coolest ocean breeze. I gorged myself on all my old favorites (New York Giant Pizza, chimichangas, etc...). I got happily sunburned after a languorous day in the sand, bought some kitschy beach stuff for the girls, and then had an awesome visit my girlfriend H. and her family. Her girls (3 and 1) filled the whole the merbabies left, but I was still so happy to see them this morning.

I miss the beach. It felt like I was home.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Vacation (All I Ever Wanted)

Starting to feel some pre-flight jitters. A lot of it has to do with my fear of flying, but I also think there's a little part of me that's afraid that going back to the beach will make more homesick than I already am. I love where we are, I really do (though it's been difficult these last few days with the temperature in the nineties), but there's still this little snarly thing in my belly. I'm worried that I'll get there and not want to come back.

I also know that I'm going to miss the girls. P and I are accustomed to these tandem vacations, but I've always got at least one of the kids with me. They're appendages really. Just extra arms or legs. Kicky's old enough now to miss me too; she's already asked me not to go. I do think four whole days with Daddy alone will be great though. For all of them.

I'm also hoping that this vacation will be a good distraction from the prevailing dread and anxiety and hopefulness and fear and anticipation for the book...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Entrance to the rabbit hole... Posted by Picasa

The Blue Door

I spent most of yesterday painting the stairwell to our basement. It's what I call Breathing Water match the framed dust jacket P made for me (that I finally hung on the stairwell wall after the paint dried). It's shocking. The color. Kind of theatrical. I also faux finished the door to look like it has panels. It almost feels like you're falling down Alice's rabbit hole when you go down the stairs now.

Packing for my trip...bringing lots and lots of books. I always think that I'll read during my flights and almost always wind up so anxious that I can't get through more than a paragraph or two. But better safe than sorry. This trip I (won't) read This Book Will Save Your Life (A.M. Homes) and Preservation Hall (Scott Spencer).

I need to start writing again. I feel useless. I always think I'm going to enjoy my down time and inevitably end up feeling scrappy and disjointed. I think teaching the Intro to the Novel class at The Writer's Center will be a nice jump start to get me back to work again.

Monday, May 29, 2006

West Nile

I started reading Holy Skirts this morning while the girls splashed around in the mosquito infested baby pool...but, alas, it was just too hot to concentrate. It's 85 degrees inside and 90 out. So we came inside and Chelsea came over to cut my hair. She's amazing. It has been two years since my hair has been touched by a pair of scissors. It looks so much better. I look less like a crazy lady (the kind that sits on her porch in her slip with a bottle of Jim Beam and a shotgun threatening all the neighborhood kids) and more like a regular person.

P comes back from San Diego tonight. I'm ready. The girls have exhausted me. (One particularly bad moment in the bead aisle of Michael's yesterday almost put me over the edge.) I miss him too.

I am gearing up for my own vacation on Friday. I can't wait to dig my hole in the sand. A nice deep hole.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I am surviving the weekend without P. I actually thought I'd get some things done while he was gone, but instead I've been useless. It's hot, and I'm sluggish. I was going to paint the stairwell last night, and instead I got sucked into four hours of "Laguna Beach." God. How pathetic. Today my to-do list is novel length, though if the weather predictions (88 degrees!) come true, I will more than likely find myself crashed out on the hammock or sprawled uselessly under one of the ceiling fans.

I've got the Princess and the Pea party to plan. Invites this year will come with bracelets with "pea" beads. I also need to buy the paint for the stairwell. Chelsea, our neighbor, is going to cut my hair tomorrow. I also need to pick up a few things for my trip next week. All the while I've got to keep the girls from killing each other. They're going through a fighting phase (please let it be a phase).

I'm reading Ordinary Daylight, a memoir of an artist who lost his vision. My wheels are spinning for the next book: diving into some research. It's all a distraction really from obsessing about the fate of Two Rivers...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chimichanga Envy

Okay so now I have a mindbrain...the book is going out this afternoon.

Thankfully, I convinced P to park at the airport which ultimately spared the rest of us from a 4:00 commute to Baltimore this morning. He called to let me know he arrived safely and then, the bastard, sent me a picture of a chimichanga. I could kill him. I'm going to eat chimichangas for breakfast. lunch, and dinner next weekend.

The girls are being sweet today. We went to the grocery store this afternoon and got everything we'd need to make homemade pizzas. They were so careful, artful in their designs. And they were good too! (Kicky was particularly proud, though she wound up picking off all the mushrooms, green peppers, and pineapple.)

Oh yeah. Bummed about Kat not winning American Idol and feeling a sort of withdrawal. Got the American Idol shakes today. But the bigger question is, "Am I desperate enough to watch 'So You Think You Can Dance?'"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Tomorrow's the big day...the book goes out. I am one big fat bundle of raw nerves. P is also leaving tomorrow for his San Diego vacation. The girls and I have to drop him off at BWI by 5:30. That ought to be a fun trip. I am excited for him though...he needs a vacation, and unless he leaves town he doesn't ever really relax. While he's gone (FIVE DAYS ALONE WITH THE KIDS) I hope to do some fun things with the girls: a picnic on the Mall, a visit from some friends, maybe (if the weather permits) get the baby pool out. I suspect it's going to be a very, very long weekend.

Here are the latest Kicky-isms:

"Daddy, do you have a mindbrain?" (Translation: migraine.)

"Daddy, you need more fashion, more style, to be a rockstar." (Does he have some secret aspirations I don't know about???)

"Mommy, so when are we going to Hollywood anyway?" (Soon, baby, soon!)

Sidenote: Voted for Kat last night on AI, though that last song was the schmaltziest, yuckiest song I've ever heard.

Friday, May 19, 2006


It's been a sad week for me, though I'm ashamed to admit the source of my sorrow. I know writers are supposed to be scholarly and contemplative, writing and reading and discussing things of import all the time. But I (you may be relieved or disgusted to know) am not this sort of writer. I am an interminable sucker for TV. Always have been. Hours a day. Every day of the week. There, it's out there. And the aforementioned heartbreak started with Elliot's departure from "American Idol" on Wednesday and culminated in the end of "Will & Grace" last night. I wept for both endings. Even Sophie's Choice hasn't done that to me yet.

Speaking of which, this weekend I want to finish reading it. It's incredible. I wish I could write something so absolutely complex. If you haven't noticed I'm on a real 1970's lit-kick lately. I actually ordered a used copy of Scott "Endless Love" Spencer's Preservation Hall too which arrived a few days ago. ( I feel less guilty about my TV affliction/addiction, because I am equally addicted to buying books -- the used books feature on amazon is my heroin.) P's also got another 10K on Sunday. This time we won't go to the race, but we'll meet him at The Diner afterwards. I'm thinking about their Croque Monsieur. I am also teaching my final workshop until mid-June. I am ready for the break.

Oh, and lastly, next week the book goes out and I'll start my feverish trembling.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


So I have been trying unsuccessfully to upload a photo to accompany this post...not sure if its impact will be as huge without it, but here goes.

Esmee is a prodigy. An artistic genius. A savant. Last week we found three faces drawn on the wall. We blamed Kicky who swore they were not hers. Initially we didn't believe her, and then P reasoned that the faces were likely simply a happy accident of (thankfully) washable marker. But then yesterday, while Kicky and Esmee were in the kitchen drawing, Kicky screamed out, "Esmee's drawing on the table!" What I found was a face. And body. With arms. Legs. Hair. Buttons. Scrawled all over the kitchen table. Still leary of Kicky's truthfulness, I got out a big pad of paper this morning and asked Esmee to draw a face. Here's the crazy part: she proceeded to draw a whole series of faces. Eyes. Noses. Hair. Smiles. I brought one of them to her preschool where I consulted with some of the teachers who were amazed. She just turned two in January. She hardly speaks. And yet, this, this genius!! I wonder when the galleries are going to start contacting us. Really. Goddang, I wish I could put up picture!!

Get back to work, you say? Start a new book, you say? I know, I know. WAY too much time on my hands...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I am reading Sophie's Choice for the first time, fascinated by Styron's narrative gymnastics. It's truly a writerly book. The rain has abated (at least for the moment), and I have been sitting outside with that massive tome waiting for my hair (badly in need of a cut) to dry.

Last night was the GW English department's get-together to celebrate the changing of th guard (the old chair stepping down after eight years). It was terrific. I hung out with C.S., the youngest of us all, a poet, with terrific hair cut, always...felt a tremendous sense of unhipness. The shoes that woman has. They're like little miracles on her feet. Last night's pair were gold with heels that actually looked like some sort of post-modern sculpture. I kept my feet tucked under my seat the whole night. Enjoyed the meatballs and baked brie. Almost cried during the farewell speech the department secretary gave.

I'm feeling that swelling up I feel when I'm not writing. I don't know where to direct my energy, and so it pools in pulsing wells somewhere near my throat and in my chest. My hearts been skipping beats againas well, which always sends me into a hypochondriacal tailspin. Nevermind that I almost electrocuted myself yesterday retrieving the "Disney Princess Stories" from the broken DVD player. I swear I still can feel a little bit of the current running thru me.

Only two and half weeks until I am seaside and sunning...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mermama Day!

Last night we barbequed fajitas, had a bunch of people over, and drank many a Corona with lime. The weather held out, verging on rain, but never quite following through.

This Mother's Day morning (finally raining outside), P let me sleep in and I awoke to two framed drawings by the artistes, a new basket for the porch (to hold the plethora of magazines that have previously been teetering on tables all over the house), and a gift certifcate for me to buy a new bathing suit for my San Diego trip. We lounged around all morning and then P watched the girls while I went to the closing of the Dada exhibit at the National Gallery.

It was amazing...such a tremendous selection of work. My favorite were the photos by Man Ray and many of the collages. So much of it reminded me of my grandfather, or the objets d'art at camp. (The "Fink" plaque, the wire sculptures.) I think the most interesting element of the exhibit was seeing the art juxtaposed against footage of WWI...which provided a real context for seemingly nonsensical pieces.

I also ducked into to see three Joseph Cornell (one of my favorites) assemblages. Afterwards, I went to the gift shop and picked up Rene Steinke's novel Holy Skirts (based on the life of Dada artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven). Rene did a blurb for Nearer Than the Sky, but we'd never met before. After the lecture (which was fascinating), I finally got to meet her. What a lovely, smiling face she has. Her son was with her...a curly headed cherub not unlike my own. Her writing is so lyrical; I can't wait to dive in. The Baroness was quite a muse, it seems...a woman who made a bra out of tomato cans and wore a flashing taillight on her bustle. A living, breathing work of art.

When I got home there were a pile of chocolate peanut butter cookies (still warm) waiting for me. I'm glad to be a mom.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Stepping stones.

Posted by Picasa

The stepping stones are finally done. It's hard to tell from the picture, but each one is a mosaic made from a billion marbles and broken pieces of glass. Do I have too much time on my hands? Obsessive compulsive disorder? A little of both. Look what happens when I'm not writing!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I am feeling frustrated and tightly wound today...I think it's the transition from the madness of the end of the semester to a virtual stasis in my routine. Sort of like those first few staggering moments runners have at the completion of a race. I have also already been challenged by a student regarding her final grade...though I shouldn't be surprised; this usually happens once a semester despite every effort I make to be fair and gentle with my grading. I hate grading. It's inane in a creative writing class. I've had to penalize terrific writers who were lazy and reward mediocre writers who simply worked hard. I am glad the semester is over.

On a brighter (brilliant) note, Henry and I discussed submission plans. A blitzkrieg to editors at every major house beginning the week after next. Hopefully it will blow at least one of them away. I sat down here in my office last night re-reading the latest version. I think it's good. This is the most confident I have felt about it yet, though I'm not sure whether or not my confidence is simply a coping mechanism.

Speaking of which, I just finished The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. What a heart-breaking life. I'm not sure how I feel about the book yet. There were some miraculous observations about grief, but it left me feeling melancholy. For Didion. For all widows and widowers, mothers of lost children.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

80 bolts. 600 pounds of sand. 2 happy girls. 1 exhausted mama. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 05, 2006

Here we go.

Henry called this morning and said the book is (finally) ready to go. Next week we will start to prepare a submission list, and sometime in the next two weeks I'll start crossing my digits (fingers, toes, eyes, etc...) Joy. I have worked so hard. I hope he can find a good, good home for it.

Last night P and I went to the Levine School of Music gala. I spoke to Knight Kiplinger...yes, the Knight Kiplinger, about my books (of all things). He was so goofy and happy to talk. Life is so strange. We also got to see Sweet Honey in the Rock and eat some of the best roast beef I;ve ever tasted.

Today I spent three hours building a boat sandbox. There were eighty bolts. EIGHTY BOLTS. And while I was sweating and cussing, surrounded by a thousand little pieces of boat, Esmee and Kicky were Lord of the Flies in the backyard. At one point Esmee got ahold of the knife I opened the box with and she looked like she was about to cut her stuffed dog's throat. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

How Not to Hang a Hammock

Today is my last class at GW until the fall. I am bringing Kicky to be the guest lecturer. She plans to discuss Hide-n-Seek.

We spent most of the weekend working on the backyard. We got a new patio set, and, in the spirit of Gatsby, I strung lights all along the deck and bought a new tealight holder that circles the umbrella on the table. We also tried hanging the hammock, but physics was never my thing, and we (me, Kicky, and Esmee) quickly came crashing to the ground. No broken bones, but my spirit sure was crushed. Anyway, the irises are blooming, almost pornographic, in the front yard. The boat-shaped sandbox I ordered for the girls should be here on Thursday.

I'm worried about the dove babies. There's a one-eyed cat (I kid you not) that has been lurking, stalking. I tried to shoo it away yesterday, but it didn't flinch. Ruthless. It just stared me down with its one good eye until I ran it out of the yard.

Patrick is closing on the castle, I mean house, on Florida today. I finally went to see it last week. It's beautiful: ten foot (tin) ceilings, rooms shaped like jigsaw puzzle pieces, so much light. They're renting it out to a thousand Greenpeace interns. Anyway, his partners are coming up after the closing to celebrate. Hopefully, it'll be warm enough to sit out on the back deck.

Did you know that Fitgerald only sold 26,000 copies of The Great Gatsby before he died?

Still no word from Henry.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


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How can you not have hope when you see something like this? Two mourning doves have built a nest on top of our fence. These are the unattended eggs. The mama bird went crazy when she found me, some sort of avian paparrazzi, taking this unauthorized photo.

I am still reeling from last night. The reading was incredible. A.M. Homes was so funny, acerbic. I bought her newest novel, This Book Will Save Your Life. Now, that's a title. But afterwards, as I was pulling out of the parking lot the most horrendous thing happened. I heard a thumping sound on the back of my car, and I stopped. A man was glaring in through my window at me. "You hit me!" he yelled, and I rolled down the window. I was falling all over myself, apologizing, offering to call 911. He said his wrist hurt. And then he started talking about insurance, and settling things, and said he'd go to the doctor later. Then I start thinking that maybe I didn't hit him at all...maybe he hit me, and was now trying to get something out of me. So, I start fumbling around in my purse for my insurance card, and then I thought, I am alone in the dark in the parking lot with a man who claims I hit him with my car. I felt like that Mama bird, all fluttery and frantic. So, I offered again to call the police, an ambulance, but he refused, still talking about "working with me." Finally he took my insurance information and left...without giving me his name. I drove home rattled and confused. I am still a little rattled...the power of guilt is something else. My initial reaction was a horrific sense of remorse, and to have that gut instinct manipulated by a stranger is so unnerving. I've also never had anyone think that I was someone they might be able to get money out of. (This certainly never happened when I was driving my '63 Bug or the Volvo wagon.) Anyway, the insurance company said that he likely won't actually try to make a claim...but still, my head is swimmy with last night.

As for the book, Henry said that he hopes to read the latest version this weekend...maybe we can get things started next week. I am ready.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I am feeling so damn ambivalent today. I think it's a reflection of the weather. All morning it's been alternately sunny and verging on a storm. I feel the same way, though I can't quite get at the source.

I'm reading The Great Gatsby for the first time in 20 years. The last time I read it was in Mr. Tavares' American Lit class at Lyndon Institute when I was a sophomore. We all had such a huge crush on him...I don't remember much about Gatsby (or The Crucible, or The Scarlet Letter, or The Old Man and the Sea for that matter), but I do remember spring, and Mr. Tavares sitting on a desk at the front of the class talking about books while we melted. Anyway, the book is so small. I don't remember it being so short. It's lovely though, and it makes me want to buy Patrick a pair of white flannel trousers...

Tonight I am going to see A.M. Homes at Politics and Prose. I feel like I'm going to see a rockstar. I've even been trying to figure out what to wear...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

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I am a terrible mother. I allowed Kicky and Esmee to eat so much candy on Sunday that Kicky actually threw up. In the middle of the night. All over her bed. The walls. Other than that, we had a great weekend. Company over for a barbeque on Saturday, and the egg hunt on Sunday. Kicky swears she saw the Easter Bunny's tail through her window. Esmee can say "treehouse" now. I made a mosaic stepstone for the flower garden (one down, nine to go).

I am getting antsy to start a new book. I'm waiting until I hear from Henry that the book is ready to go though....

School ends at GW in two weeks. Though I hate to see my students go, I can't wait to have my time back.