The Friday Five!

1. We’re in full-fledged back to school mode around here, finally. Classes at UNC started on Tuesday, which always sends me into a spiral of both wistfulness and gratitude. On the one hand, I so miss my students, buying fresh legal pads, pens and index cards and printing out my syllabus. Plus there’s that crackle in the air as everyone comes back and all is new. But on the OTHER hand, I’m grateful as always for the ability to write full time and not spend a lot of my weekend time grading papers. Still, it’s fun to experience it vicariously, from this distance. I grew up here, the daughter of two professors. The academic calendar IS my calendar: for me, the year begins in late August and ends in May. And so it’s begun. Goodbye, summer! I will honor you by wearing flip flops as long as possible.

2. Then, on Monday, the public schools begin. It’s been years since THIS event has really affected me (other than getting stuck behind school buses when I’m late) but this year my daughter begins kindergarten. SOB! It’s so nuts. At least they are easing us in slowly, with half days and half-class days: things don’t really get into full swing for another week, during which time I can arrange for extra therapy for myself, and I think I will, especially since we have her 6th birthday party next weekend as well. TOO MUCH CHANGE AT ONCE. It’s like time whiplash. And with her in school, I’m still not sure WHAT I am going to do with having whole days to myself in a row: that hasn’t happened in six years. I can go out to lunch again! Maybe see early movies! Oh, and, um, write another book. Right, there’s that. Like I said, we have to ease in. S-l-o-w-l-y.

3. Because it’s the end of summer, I’m trying to make the most of my garden, so I just went out to cut some roses, zinnias and lantana for a bouquet. I was feeling VERY Martha Stewart with my clippers, imagining how I would arrange everything Just So, when I noticed a butterfly stuck in a spider web. It was flapping like crazy, trying to get loose, and I had that moment: interfere with nature, or not? I do move turtles out of the road, and I take bugs outside rather than letting them hurl themselves at windows until they die of exhaustion or boredom or whatever. So I took the scissors and jabbed at the web, but then the butterfly still had stuff stuck on it, so I took it VERY CAREFULLY by the wing and eased the bits of sticky stuff off. Then it flew away, and I had that moment of feeling so good about myself, a good deed done. Then I took a step backwards and fell into a pricker bush, scratching the crap out of both of my legs. Really? This is the counterpart to saving a life? If that isn’t instant karma, I don’t know what is. Ouch. I’d do it again, though, because I am a sucker for anyone in a struggle. What can I say, I relate.

4. One thing I will have more time for with a kid in full-time school is reading. At least, I think so. Maybe that was why, on total impulse, I subscribed to People magazine this week. WHY? I don’t know. Because I already get US Weekly and Entertainment Weekly: that’s a lot of weekly, you know? And it’s not like I can’t enjoy People at the supermarket checkout while the person in front of me digs for their coupons, like everyone else. The truth is, I LOVE subscribing to magazines, ever since I realized how much cheaper it is than buying issues one by one AND how much I like getting them in the mail. I also get Real Simple, Cooking Light and ¬†Vanity Fair. I used to get even more, until I had a kid and realized I had no time to read them. But now I might! I tried to justify the People subscription by telling myself my babysitters will also enjoy it, but then I realized with my kid in school I won’t have them around as much, either. Whoops. On the book front, I finished listening to Nia Vardalos’ INSTANT MOM, which was all about her experiences trying to get pregnant and later adopting a little girl from the foster care system. A great, GREAT read or listen, I highly recommend. Plus the side stories will totally make you want to go watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding again, and there is NOTHING wrong with that. Now I’m listening to David Sedaris’ latest, LET’S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS, which I am loving, even though I got some weird looks the other day for laughing hysterically, alone, in my car in the grocery store parking lot. In books, I’m reading Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS, which is just a great as everyone says. After that I get to move on to Megan McCafferty’s JESSICA DARLING’S IT LIST, the prequel to SLOPPY FIRSTS and the books that followed. Am SO excited. Hey, maybe I AM reading a lot already. Look at that!

5. Finally, a personal accomplishment, of sorts: I did a backbend in yoga this week. It wasn’t perfect or even that pretty, but I pushed myself up into it and held it, and I could not be prouder. There’s a lot I can’t do in yoga, and it used to be something that stopped me from wanting to try and do it. What if I fell out of a pose? Or, worse, everyone SAW me fall out of a pose? What if I was facing the right when everyone else knew to face left? Truth: all of these things have happened to me this summer as I finally started doing it regularly. In fact, all of them happened TODAY in class. (Yep.) I’m someone who is always aware of how/what other people are doing and judging myself accordingly. I do it especially when it comes to my career (and I’ll admit it, as I have this feeling I am NOT alone), comparing myself a lot to other writers and my books to theirs. It can make you nuts, even crazier than reading reviews on Goodreads. (I don’t do that. Anymore. Love the site, but love my self esteem more.) No matter how well I do, I think I should be doing better. It’s a pretty rotten mindset sometimes, so having a way to work through it—even on a mat, in a crowded room of people saying OM—is a good thing. So what if I fall, or go left instead of right? At least I am showing up and trying. It’s the same thing I do here in my office, every day, as I open up whatever book I am working on and stare at where I left off the day before. It’s not about what everyone else is doing. It’s just me, here for now, trying to breathe. And occasionally, when I can do something I didn’t think I could, it can be pretty great, just like that backbend. Namaste, y’all.

Have a good weekend, everyone!