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.