The Five!

1. Next week, I will be at the beach. *reads over that sentence again* Man, I feel calmer just seeing that in writing. Really. This trip has just sort of been out there, at the end of Phase One of the book tour hoopla, waiting for me, and by Monday I will get to join it. It will be a million degrees in the shade, but do I care? NOPE. Regular readers know how much I love the NC Coast, and when I went in late March it was lovely but cold and still felt like winter. I will wake up Monday morning to begin my 41st year (which is honestly freaking me out more than I’d like to admit: 41 just feels SO MUCH OLDER than 40, why is that?) with the ocean in view. Also, I might have a shrimp burger for lunch. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t HAVE to know. That, my friends, is the beauty of all this. Or one of them. Can you tell I’m excited?

2. Before the beach, though, we have a few things happening as well. Biggest of all is a family wedding in which my daughter is the flower girl. Cute, right? So cute! Also: stressful, at least for me, as I have no way of knowing until the moment before whether or not she’s going to cooperate and go down the aisle. I love my girl and would not trade her for anything, but MAN she is stubborn when she wants to be. Also hindering the wedding issue: she hates having her hair brushed and does not like smiling for the camera. I am 0-2, people. I plan on packing a cooler with meals, snacks and copious amounts of candy for bribery purposes. Also my iPad for the waiting around (games! Little Bear!). We will be in a church, so if I end up having to throw up some prayers, at least I know I’m in the right place to be doing so. So far my plan of attack has been to NOT talk about all this in her earshot too much. Instead, we discuss the beach. I have found that with a three-almost-four year old, there’s a delicate balance between preparation and thwarting success. If she makes it down without a tantrum, it will be hard for me NOT to do a victory lap behind her. But I’ll try to control myself.

3. I’m reading a book that’s so good I don’t want it to end. Don’t you love when that happens? It’s THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME by Jean Thompson, and it’s just fabulous. The plot is deceptively simple: it chronicles the lives of a family from Iowa through a few generations. But it is SO REAL and amazing and the writing is the kind that makes you think writing must be easy, which I can tell you it is NOT. Man. I’m stretching out the last fifty pages or so because I’m going to miss the characters so much. Luckily, I have another great book in the wings: STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG by Kate Atkinson, which I began on my iPad while I was traveling. Having TWO great books you can’t wait to get back to? That’s worthy of a victory lap. Whatever quiet time I get alone at the beach, I know how I’ll be spending it.

4. A friend forwarded me a link to a piece in the NY Times that ran today about celebrities writing novels and how publishers sometimes prefer NOT to explain that often co-writers are involved in crafting the stories. (Did you know the Kardashians are writing a novel? Me neither!) There are lots of reasons this was interesting to me, but what I couldn’t stop thinking about was how much it would bug me if I wrote a whole novel and someone ELSE got all the credit and to do all the fun stuff. I mean, writing can be fun, some days. But a lot of days are just you starting at the blinking cursor wondering how the hell you got into this mess on the page and if, exactly, there is a way out of it. (Okay, maybe that’s just ME staring at the cursor, but you get the idea.) When the book comes out, though, and you get the applause and the readings and the nice comments, that’s so great, and it makes you forget, at least for a little while, all the self-loathing and stress involved in the writing. I can’t imagine if you did all that work and never even saw your name on the cover, or your picture on the flap. What about if a book you wrote made the bestseller list and you couldn’t even tell anybody? TORTURE. I’m sure the co-writers/ghostwriters, when they are used, are well compensated in other ways. But still. Writing a novel is such an achievement. It would be such a shame to not be able to claim it, all your own. Then again, I’m emotional about all things book right now: blame exhaustion, excitement, the whirlwind of the last month or so. Maybe another time I’d see it differently? I wonder….

5. Now that it IS officially June, I’ve been doing all my favorite summer things. Like going to the beach, above. I bought two new pair of flip-flops (silver and black) to replace my busted Havaianas (still not sure if my feet swelled while traveling or what, but they just kept breaking, which was so weird!) and invested in two sprinklers, a functional and a silly one. You know the types. One is the basic kind that was really ALL we ever had when I was a kid. You turned it on, it shot water up, then waved it slowly back and forth. These days, though, kids have a LOT more options. Have you seen how huge and high-tech Slip N Slides have become? Or all the options for wading pools? Jeez Louise, as we said in the olden days. Still, I did give in and buy my kid one of those sprinklers with the funny little tubes attached: turn it on, and they shoot up and dance wildly, as if possessed (or at a Dead concert. See, ANOTHER old reference. Can you tell I’m almost 41?). I have to say, though, I did not have high expectations for either sprinkler as entertainment since, let’s face it, water play has come a long way since my backyard in 1978. But you know what? My daughter LOVES it. And she especially loves my old-school basic one. She cannot get enough. We turn it on, jump through it. Watch it water the plants while we have tea parties nearby. It is simple and functional and cost me ten dollars. In a world of iPads and Nick Jr, I worried it wouldn’t have much to offer her, and I’m so glad I was wrong. Plus, there really is nothing like running through a sprinkler on a hot day, whether you are almost four or almost 41. Really. If you see one, you should totally try it. Just, you know, be stealth about it if it’s in someone else’s yard. I don’t want to have to worry about you getting chased off by a big dog or something.

Have a good weekend, everyone!