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 counter...it 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 war...as 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) ...here'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 treat...it 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 amazon...it'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 out...it'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.