Monthly Archives: August 2010

Driving Me Crazy

If you stay up late watching tennis, you will be tired the next day and not want to get out of bed or do any work or write anything clever. Fortunately, your 14 year old realizes this and lets out the dog, Charlie, a frisky guy who likes to go out early, even if I have stayed up late watching tennis. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t like tennis, at least not the way he did at first. But, your 14 year old, and even your 13 year old, though they can do assorted wondrous things for themselves, cannot drive the car. It sits out there, beckoning. Take me somewhere. Put them in it and take us all somewhere. C’mon, do it now. Put the key in. 

I’m sick of driving. We don’t have school buses in our little community. Instead, moms drive their own school buses, with nine seats and wheels that surpass my head height, even when standing. Even when we know the deal with the oil and the Mideast and the global warming. Anyway, that is something else. Today, we are talking about the quantity of driving, rather than the quality. My quantity is too big.

So, when I don’t have to drive to the tennis courts or the lake (for rowing, not to jump into), or the schools, or the supermarket, or to cover a story, I just sit at my desk and look at the car, out the window in our driveway. Not yet, I say, through the glass. Simmer down. 

Not too long ago, though, she got to go far….(Click here)



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No More Grilled Cheese

In the summer, you have to make lunch. At the table. You have to make lunch, just like you make dinner. It is a good time to eat, better than later, the experts say. But it is a bad time to be in the kitchen. It just interrupts everything. Kids have to eat lunch, though, so when it is summer, and they are home, you have to make it.

Yesterday, school began. It is now 12:22 pm. I have just experienced my second day of not making lunch in the kitchen. It feels like a vacation, not that I don’t enjoy feeding my children. I do, I just don’t like the plates, and the dishwasher. I’d rather keep bees than empty the dishwasher.

Anyway, here is a story about that weed lady I told you about months ago…(Click here)

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Taking a Seat

The only chair left was in the Reference section. It is hard to be creative in the Reference section. Test preparation manuals don’t inspire the flow of compelling ideas. And that is what I am after, after all, the flow. The Flow.

When the house gets stale, I leave, in search of a place that might do the mental trick. Often, I will go to the bookstore nearby. At the bookstore, you don’t have to feel guilty about not buying coffee. Coffee turns into another substance when it is not made in my kitchen. So I go to the bookstore, where there are big upholstered chairs set amongst the stacks. 

“Try that book,” they seem to say. “Here, sit here and read it, or some of it. C’mon.”

But I do not go to read. The literature section has three chairs, and they were all occupied today. That made me pretty mad, since the occupiers were not writing anything. One was talking…talking!…to another person who sat on the floor. The second was reading. Imagine, reading in the literature section. The third was sleeping. I felt like a pregnant woman on a bus, hanging onto the strap. Look at me, will you? I’m a writer. I’m dying here. Get up, will ya?

I walked around the store until I found the chair that ultimately became mine. I was not motivated, tucked in between guides to Asian walking trips and dictionaries of generic drug names. I debated whether to go back to the shelves where the real books were, and to haul the non-writing people up to standing. But I realized that might be a neurotic choice. Instead, I picked up a “Fast Fact Review for Algebraic Equations” and settled in. 

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Oh Hi, President Obama, SO Nice to Meet You

You know, no one asked me if I would like to invite the President to my house. It’s probably because I didn’t contribute $50,000 to his campaign, but really, what’s the difference. I would have if I could have, but I couldn’t. He will be in Dallas today, after a stop in Austin, at a lawyer’s house not too far from mine.

If I were the one hosting, here is what I would do: First, I would invite people who did not/could not contribute $50,000 to his campaign, even though the purpose of the event is to rally people who did and can, again. Okay, so I wouldn’t fill up the room with them, but I’d sprinkle in a few. Like me. I’d sprinkle in me. After all, I have other things to contribute to the party, well both parties, the one with the hors d’oeuvres and the political one. I can, for starters, inject unexpected and thought-provoking conversation into the conversation. I can play the piano. And I don’t eat too much. I am the perfect guest. Oh, I always bring a fabulous hostess gift, if they are accepting them at such a soiree, I don’t know.

To the other party, I can rally support, among 13 year olds, anyway. I can write things that say why the President should be re-elected. I can make brownies, with little “O”s iced on them. 

I do not know when the event is scheduled to begin. It’s all a hush-hush. Clearly, I will not crash. I think the admin is onto that sort of thing now. But I will make a final plea here–and I know you advance team folks are reading (Hi there, advance team folks!)–to just add me to the list. Just another name, no big deal. Just another supportive citizen with a really nice personality, and a pair of heels waiting by the door. And if it will make the difference, okay, I won’t play the piano. I can live with that. I guess.


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The Book People…and Me

A friend of mine told me today that the people–The Book People–torture me so that when I finally do see my pages between two covers, on a shelf, in a store, or in a person’s hands out in the world, maybe on a bench in a park, that I will feel that much more successful. That much more proud because of the effort, in writing, yes, but more, in persisting. The writing is easy. The struggle, though, hanging tough despite it, is the hard part. But it’s good to know it at the time. Struggle is good, I tell my kids, a lot.

I have completed the final revision of my novel, and am very pleased with the outcome. The Book People have expressed interest in seeing it, now, following this last brush-up, and tomorrow, I will be sending it into the ethers. Kiss kiss. Bon chance.

I learned a long time ago from a musician friend that keeping ones equilibrium in the face of judgment is critically important, particularly for a creative person, particularly for a writer. Thank you, Ira. I learned this when I did not keep my equilibrium, becoming way too ecstatic when granted an acceptance, too dejected when not. Now, I am like a canoe on a docile lake. No, a canoe on a piece of carpet, inside a house. I am so full of equilibrium that I could be a brick layer.

Okay, I lie. That equilibrium stuff is sort of not true. I like to say that I’m a canoe, but really, I am making it all up. I will say that I am better than I used to be about rejection/acceptance and their accompanying ranting/delirium. I mutter now, when told No. Bake, when it’s a Yes. It’s not difficult to tell which way it went.

For this, The Sending of the Book, I am as prepared as I could be. Confident. Hopeful. Determined. You are supposed to visualize the goal, I’ve read. I can do that, and have been doing that. I’ve been on Oprah’s set. I’ve seen store windows full of copies. I’ve answered reader questions at signings, determined to wear the pants, not the skirt. I have no baking products in my pantry. None.

So, wish me luck. LUCK! And cross your toes, and chant something in an obscure Pacific Rim language. Hooray for the creative process.


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Caution: Men Working

And then the Lord said, “Let there be no more digging up the pavement in front of my house with excavation equipment including bulldozers, jackhammers, road graders and scoopers that could pick up a naval attack vessel.”

They began yesterday at 6:59 am, one minute ahead of schedule. Twelve of them, in orange vests and drapey hats, like bugs on a hill, each with a tool in hand or under foot. Several drove, whirling like dervishes in miniature tank-ish vehicles, scraping and loading, lifting and passing. Reminding me of something Balanchine would have choreographed, the display of coordination in the street was mesmerizing, if not beautiful, on some level. Not my level. My level was desperate. Noisily desperate. Climb into the dryer desperate.

For the entire day, they produced sounds that I had never heard before, a gutteral, snarly audiotrack of destruction too abrasive for a mammal such as myself, a mammal who was trying to form literate sentences at a desk not twenty yards away. I formed two, maybe three, and then, realizing the futility, decided to clean out the kids’ bathroom cabinets. For hours, I sorted ponytail accessories–elastics from the kind with the balls on the end, fuzzy from sleek–as well as barrettes, clips, bobbies, headbands and ribbons, contact solutions, dental flosses (is it flossi?), lotions–for itchy skin, sensitive skin, vanilla skin, strawberry skin–and the ever-critical battery of sunscreen products. I emerged lathered in cream, headbands on my head, cotton balls in my ears.

By sundown, I had performed similar service on several closets, baskets of magazines, the pantry and the aforementioned head, as my bangs needed trimming. Alas, the racket ceased. In my door, a note. NOTICE, it said. Please remove your car from your driveway before 7 am tomorrow morning and do not return it to your driveway for three days, until after the cement we are pouring is cured. I needed curing. No, they needed curing. What was wrong with the street anyway? 

I set my clock for 6:58 and went outside in my pajamas to find the men waiting. Waiting for me. “There she is,” one said, in a different language that I did not understand, though I know that is what he said. “Finally,” said another. 

Yeah, right. Out of my way, Mr. Bobcat. 

I parked a mile down the street and traipsed back, still in my pajamas, yes, mumbling like tired crazy people do when they are outside in their pajamas. On the way in, I noticed in the window’s reflection that my hair was sticking up like a carrot in one place on my crown and that another section was plastered sideways onto my cheek. It could have been worse, I thought. I checked to see that I was, in fact, wearing my pajamas.

The clattering began as soon as I shut the door behind me. I showered, dressed and left the house, sound waves twitching through me as I trekked to my car. When I returned hours later, the noise had stopped, only to begin again tomorrow, when it will be my neighbor’s turn.


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I Will Try Not to Talk About the Heat

It does not seem possible that just 26 percent of the oil from the oil spill is left in the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday, there were 60 years of damage to contend with. Today, poof. All gone. Please.

When did things become all or nothing? When did we lose the gray? Everything is gray, really. Do the people telling us these statistics (gained, apparently, from projections, not real data), President Obama included, I’m sorry to say, really think we are that idiotic? Everyone takes science lab. Everyone can feel a spin.

So, when you stay in your house the whole day because it is too hot to go outside, you get a little stir crazy by, oh, 3:47. Then, you go out. You think of somewhere to go. I went to the bookstore, then to buy paper for my daughter’s birthday invitations and then, to the supermarket to buy lettuce and mushrooms. Clearly, I could have survived the evening without lettuce and mushrooms. It wasn’t even cold in the ice cream aisle, where I went on purpose to feel cold. It was hot in the ice cream aisle, where you usually need a parka.

If they only said to us that the cap is working and that there is much more cleaning up to do, the silly news people and I wouldn’t be feeling as if we were told a fib and talking about it. It would have been such the smarter strategy. 

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