Friday, July 29, 2011

The intern

Starting a new position today working a few hours a week over at Daily Grommet. They call it an executive internship because I'm a little too crinkly around the eyes to call myself a straight up intern.

I'll be working with the product launch team. The job is a dream combination of storytelling and retail sales. It will be a great way to freshen my resume and has loads of potential as a future job opportunity. Last night, I had that first day of school feeling with the outfit all picked out and the lunch packed.

Can't wait to get to it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baby did a bad bad thing

So the other night I went to a lovely reading over at Brookline Booksmith and then I stole something.

The night started out innocently enough. A neighbor asked if I wanted to hear a few women read from the 2011 Best Women's Travel Writing and have dinner afterwards. Faced with the prospect of a full week alone with the kids? Yes, yes I did. I would have said yes to a trip to Walgreens to drink generic soda and browse the greeting cards.

The reading exceeded expectations. The women have had some amazing adventures (including one woman's experience judging a testicle eating contest and another returning to a hotel room in cold war Russia to find the maid wearing her leather skirt) and the writing was top notch. After, we browsed Brookline Booksmith, one of my favorite indie bookstores. Don't worry, I didn't steal anything from them.

It was one of those wonderful Boston summer nights where the rain was blowing sideways and the temp dropped to something close to freezing. Spicy food was in order, so we headed to dinner at an Indian restaurant nearby. After the meal, we split the checks three ways. The waiter brought my card back to sign and I picked up the pen.

The pen was weighty, nice to hold, and a beautiful blue color. Cerulean blue with gold trim. It said First National Bank of Arkansas. I started to sweat a little. I flipped it over and a name was inscribed on the other side. John Byron Huffman.

"I really want this pen," I said to my friend.

She examined it, encouraged me to take it. We checked out the other pens. Generic Massachusetts insurance company and something else, I forget. My pen had some history. My pen belonged a character in one of my stories. My pen was the precious.

My other friend had the idea to make a trade. I pulled a crappy plastic pen from my purse, stuck it in the check. Slipped the precious under a napkin. My mind raced along. The pen had obviously been given for a promotion or some recognition. Who was this guy? Did his friends call him J.B.? How had this pen ended up in Boston?

But, I felt guilt. Tremendous and horrible guilt. It was a nice pen. It didn't belong to the Indian waiter or even the restaurant itself, obviously, but still I felt - shady. Maybe I could tell them some story? About my father, my dead father, who worked for First National Bank of Arkansas. But then, no. My Dad is in a nursing home, not doing well. Can't go there. I could just ask for the pen. But then, how exactly?

I slipped it in my purse. More guilt. After the waiter gathered our checks, I noticed a flurry of activity near the register. Agitation. One waiter slapped the little book holding the checks on his palm. The three men hovered outside the kitchen. Arms folded. Clearly annoyed. They knew.

Or did they? Maybe someone else had stiffed a tip. My friend started showing us pictures of her New York trip. I wanted to leave. She showed us more pictures. The men glared at me over her shoulder. The pen seared a hole in my purse, or it didn't, but I felt like it would burst into flames. Or something.

Finally, time to leave. We get up. I pick up my bag. Nothing happens. Go to the small lobby. Nothing. Retrieve my umbrella from the holder. Nothing. Step outside.

I stole that pen. But then, it was the pen they hand you to sign the bill. It can't be a big deal. And it said First National Bank of Arkansas. Did I mention how blue it was? How J.B. is now a character in my linked series (the banker who forecloses on my main character)? I stole the pen because I write, I'm a writer. It tweaked my imagination. And I'm from the south. And Arkansas? Arkansas is always quirky.

I stole the pen because I'm a little crazy.

And yet it feels like a good luck charm, this stolen thing.

I'd post a picture of it, but I can't find the camera, and then, you know, J.B. might track me down. And the pen is mine. Really not a biggie.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Does this look good?

It started with a whiff of a sassy tude and the request to download Selena Gomez songs to her iPod. Next there was some squinting at the mirror, some swiveling to examine the outfit. Then she started asking - does this look good?

This morning she was taking forever in the bathroom and I went upstairs to find her meticulously applying lipgloss.

Does this look good?

No baby, it doesn't. I mean, you do, of course.

But this? This growing up thing?

Not good at all.

Monday, July 25, 2011


We just got back from a week on the Cape.

We were supposed to have wi-fi at the house we rented, but we didn't or I couldn't get it working. Either way, I took it as a sign that I should just give it up and unplug. No facebook, limited access to email, no blogging, no blog reading, no cable TV, not even the digital camera (the kids were fooling around with it before we left so I hid it and did such a great job that I still can't find it myself).

Remember when you just took a trip without the facebook updates? There aren't even any pictures to post after the fact. Like it's 1995 or something.

Felt pretty good.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The right words

Last night, I went to a reading over in Jamaica Plain where Dawn Dorland Perry read an amazing essay called Why I Write. There is a section where she talks about why writers labor over words, the right words.

She says "As writers we may find ourselves always looking for a new way to communicate it, share it, and connect–always looking for a better way to tell the story, some new combination of words that guarantees we’ll be more closely, more surely this time, understood. "

The whole essay is beautiful, but this particular bit knocked me in the gut.

Check out the whole thing over here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer lovin'

It's official. White wine in the fridge. The window units cranking a humid chill.

Summer is screaming by. Spent Saturday at the Cape having a cookout with some friends who have a lovely little house on a cliff. Little Guy skipped his nap, exhibited some colossally outrageous three-year old behavior towards the end (the nerve). After a sleepover the night before and a full day at the beach, even Girlie got a little weepy. We had an early dinner, rolled out of there by 7 PM. Both kids asleep before we hit the highway. All in all a good day.

Sunday was catch up. Put together a big boy bike for Little Guy, cook out with the neighbors, errands. Today there were swimming lessons, gymnastics camp, a trip to the library, bike riding, the post office and now, Hubs working late.

So we're busy. Fun busy, but maybe looking a little badly sewn at the seams.

And to top it off, I have an interview on Wednesday. An interview. For a potential J-O-B.

It has been a little on again, off again, and now it's on. It looks like they might not be in a position to hire until the fall. Still.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Peeling Wallpaper

There is a house for sale behind us, but I won't even look at it because there is wallpaper in every room.

Just before Girlie was born, we had a kitchen full of fruity flowery 80's paper and in some insane hormone driven spurt of nesting I decided to remove it. I spent endless hours using every known method - renting a steamer, applying some questionable chemicals, finally ending up with a small squirt bottle of warm water, peeling it inch by inch.

The trick is to remain in a calm, zen-like state. Once you get a piece started, you have to slowly slowly peel down the paper. Peel. Spray. Peel. Spray.

Of course, I would begin this way only to end up impatiently going at it until I ripped only the top layer, leaving the papery underside still stuck on. Once you reach the papery underside, you're in for a tough peel. Once you reach the papery underside, you're screwed.

Some days the writing feels just like that kitchen. If I could just peel it inch by inch. Slowly. Patiently.

But no.

Papery underside.

Stuck hard.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


We packed a ton in this weekend. After going to bed late last night, Little Guy was up at 5:30 AM, a full fifteen minutes earlier then the last time I complained about it which means we are on target for 5:15 waking shortly. We've tried everything, but he is usually wide awake just after sunrise. Short of dropping an enormous black cloth over the exterior of the house (which I've fantasized about), we seem to be stuck with the early waking during the summer.

Ah, but for a rainy morning. He might sleep past six.

But then we're stuck inside.


This morning I looked up the sunrise schedule to see exactly how much longer this will continue. By September we should be back on track. The difference in the schedule is just seconds a day, but somehow over the course of a few months it does shift. Creeps along really, but it does change - a much needed reminder that almost every situation is temporary.

Anyway, the longest day of the year was some time in mid-June, though if you ask me, I'd swear that it might be today.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What am I trying to say?

One of my instructors from Grub offered to meet with each student individually after the last class to talk about our writing. He did it on his own time - which was amazingly generous. Most of the instructors teach multiple classes and juggle freelance work, barely piecing together time to get their own projects in and this was such a nice extra.

During our chat, he asked if I write without knowing what is happening in the story. The answer is yes and no. Usually, the basic concept comes to me before I write it, but I never know any of the details until I get to them. I like the surprise.

In every other part of my life, I tend to be a very linear thinker, so I am always hesitant to put too much of a plan together because it rubs against my creative mind. He said that he'd thought that to be the case, and that my work had a certain natural energy (!) which carried the reader along. He called one of my stories tight. Nice.

That said, at the end of the first or second draft he thought I might need to spend some time thinking more about what I want the reader to leave with. In other words, what am I trying to say?


Good question.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Good morning

At my computer by 4:45 this morning. Usually, I'm up around five, but I woke a little earlier and couldn't dim the brain chatter, so I decided to just get on with it. Not a ton of volume going on in the writing, but I feel like I am finally working out some small important things, so though I was a bit bleary, it felt delicious to grab some extra time.

As it is, I've put a good bit into the day already. Writing, email, banking online, breakfast for the kids, chopped up fruit and veggies for later, made a paper airplane, fixed a paper airplane.

As I type this, Little Guy is wandering by blowing air through a snorkel. It sounds like some kind whale call.

Not even 8:30 AM.