Other than the North Carolina Literary Festival (see post below) I will also be doing an appearance for Long Story Short at the Barnes and Noble in Cary, NC. It’s September 22, a Tuesday, at 7pm. For more info, go here. I’ll be appearing with two of my FAVORITE people and writers, Marianne Gingher and Courtney Jones Mitchell. Should be a really fun time!
Today is the last day of August. I’m not even sure what to say about this other than it just seems wrong. September already? Really? Wow. I’ve been kind of mourning the summer ending—okay, I’ll admit, there’s no kind of about it—but this weekend, I started looking ahead to good things that are happening this fall. Like the anthology Long Story Short, which publishes tomorrow, and contains the first non-teen centric published piece I’ve written in a long time. Also, the NC Literary Festival, where I’ll get to catch up with old friends in one of my favorite places, the UNC Campus. And then, there’s this:
This is the view from the middle of the main room of my NEW OFFICE, which is over the garage we’ve been building for months now. My desk will go right where that scaffolding is (I think) and this weekend I picked out paint colors (a kind of apricot-white) and the bathroom tile went in (pebbles!). My mother always used to tell me that a woman—but really anyone—needs a room of their own. I do have an office here in the house, but it’s open space you walk up into on the second floor, with no door. Which was fine for awhile, but now that the baby (and yes, I will keep calling her that, even if she is almost two) I can hear everything that goes on downstairs and it’s distracting. So I wrote Along for the Ride in our guest room, and now I’m starting a new book (fingers crossed, anyway) there as well.
But in this new place, I’ll have an actual DETACHED office, so I can be home but not home. It’s so exciting and a little scary as well. My assistant, Parker, and I seriously have our work cut out for us, as we have to move all my books and manuscripts and papers over there and somehow make sense of them. But I’m even excited about that, really. Maybe I’ll actually feel like a professional? Although I might be so distracted by the view and my pretty pebbled bathroom that I don’t get anything done. It could go either way.
But for now, it is Monday, and raining here. I’m drinking coffee, even though I have been making an effort to cut down/give up caffeine as I hear from Megan McCafferty, who is doing this big healthy detox thing, that it will give me more energy. And I could really use that right now because I am TIRED. I am also tired of talking about how tired I am, and I know you and everyone around me is sick of hearing it as well, so I won’t elaborate. But I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do about it. Do less, my mother says. Which would be great, if it meant things would get done some other way. Go to bed early, another friend says. Which I guess I could try but I already am asleep by 10 most nights. Red Bull, someone else tells me, but I know they are kidding. At least, I hope they are. Even a Starbucks double mocha makes me feel like I’m flying it jacks me up so much. Megan suggested Green Tea, which is an option I might pursue. I have to do something, though, because my brain feels so fuzzy and I am so forgetful that I’m having trouble even writing a shopping list, much less trying to tackle a novel. You know you’re in bad shape when you get writer’s block attempting your Facebook status updates. So, for now, coffee. In fact, I think I need a refill….
Have a great day, everyone!
1. Yesterday, my daughter had her first day of playschool. I know, I know. It’s not real school. But it was still REALLY hard for me. I mean, I had to label her little lunchbox! And write her name on her rain boots! And then LEAVE her and drive away. I was totally traumatized. She, not so much. I heard from the teachers that there were some tears, and she managed to muddy up not one but two outfits in less than four hours. The first thing she said when she saw me at pick-up was “I go home!” which worried me, but then when I asked her later if she wanted to go back to school, she said yes. Which is good, right? Still, I don’t know why I was such a freak about this. I had, like, major anxiety for WEEKS. And it’s just playschool. What happens when it is actual school? And college? Oh, God. I can only imagine….
2. The other night, after it had been sitting on my shelf for entirely too long, I finally put in New in Town with Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. I had no expectations, and pleasantly surprised. I didn’t hear that much about this movie when it was in theaters, but it was REALLY cute. Too often, I feel like a movie gets talked up and up and then when I see it I can’t help but be let down. Maybe ignoring all my entertainment mags is the way to go? But I can’t quit you, EW. I can’t!
3. In other news, my husband recently got an XBOX 360. Now, personally, I feel like we are too old for video games. But there’s some driving game he really wanted, so now we have game consoles on our coffee table like we’re in our twenties or something. I have heard, though, that I can sign up for something that will let me stream movies from Netflix onto the XBOX. That, I am kind of interested in. The games, not so much. I tried to play the driving game ONCE and wrecked, like, a million times. I need to find a game that plays to my strengths. Maybe there’s one for grocery shopping or obsessing?
4. Speaking of obsessing, I turned on GMA this week to see the entire cast of Thirtysomething reunited for the first time. Yikes! Apparently the show is finally coming out on DVD. I used to love it so much. The angst, the eighties fashions—shoulder pads! Suspenders! Big, mismatched earrings!—-I mean, I’m not sure I can resist it. But now I AM thirtysomething. Almost fortysomething, if I am totally honest. Do I really want to dwell on this? I am not sure. All that angst was much more appealing when I couldn’t relate.
5. Finally, speaking of 80’s nostalgia, I was watching Scrubs the other night and saw this clip. Men at Work reminds me SO much of junior high, I can’t even tell you. But hearing this song, done like this, made it seem new all over again. Just another reason why I love Scrubs. If you don’t, just play this and don’t watch. Just listen.
The other day, I posted a Facebook update about an hour after I got up. Someone commented back: “It’s so early! Go back to bed, woman!” (I especially liked the “woman” part. Made me giggle.) Anyway, it got me thinking about all the ways my life has changed since Sasha was born almost two years ago, but the early waking up thing is one of the biggest, for sure. The thing is, I’ve always been a kind-of early riser. I used to get up at 7am every single day. So why, you may ask, was it such an adjustment when I had to start waking up at 6am, only an hour earlier? Answer: because it just IS.
Seven is a civilized hour. It’s when Good Morning America begins, and some kids are even catching the bus by then. But six is EARLY. Six is dark outside, most of the time, nothing on but the morning news and infomercials, when all my neighbors’ houses are still dark. I can say this because it is six RIGHT NOW, as I am writing this. (I’ve been up since 5:30, but that’s another story.) The house is quiet, dogs and husband asleep. Baby is rolling around in her crib—she’s been up for about forty five minutes, don’t ask—-waiting for me to come fetch her. If it sounds like I enjoy this, I have to say…I don’t. Well, I sort of do. I like getting an early start, and getting so much done. But man, I sometimes miss having the option to sleep until seven. Or eight. Or nine. Like Auden in Along For the Ride, though, I have kind of discovered a whole other world I used to sleep through. for better or for worse. Sunrises are nice, I have to say. You don’t realize until you see them every day.
In TOTALLY unrelated news, last night we were flipping channels and I came across….Footloose. FOOTLOOSE! With Kevin Bacon, and the town that outlawed dancing. Playing chicken on tractors! Sarah Jessica Parker almost unrecognizable! I was gushing i was so excited. Unfortunately, I got vetoed by my husband, who is not so into 80’s nostalgia as I am. Little did HE know, though, that it was coming on again later than night. I set the DVR so I can watch the ENTIRE THING. Yesss! I heard they are doing a remake, possibly with Chace Crawford. To which I say: really? Is that necessary? Sometimes, you just have to wonder if some things are better just left alone.
Ooh, baby is kicking the wall. Better go. Still waiting on that sunrise, though…..
I’ll be appearing at the North Carolina Literary Festival, which is being held in Chapel Hill on September 10-13th. You can find out info here. I’m doing a panel on Saturday, Sept 12th at 11:10 am with Jill McCorkle and Courtney Jones Mitchell, held at the University United Methodist Church on Franklin Street.
I’m also doing at least one appearance for the anthology Long Story Short, published by UNC press. Stay tuned for details!
So, it’s Monday, I’m back from the beach, and this time it actually feels real. Like, yes, fall is coming. School is starting. And I’m ready. Or, at least more ready than I was a week ago.
The beach was lovely, though, with good weather (except for some rip tides thanks to Hurricane Bill) good friends and, of course, good food. This was our last night’s dinner:
A low country boil with shrimp, potatoes and corn, plus tons of delicious seasoning, courtesy of our friend Cameron. It was DELICIOUS. I made the salad, which was also good, although not nearly as impressive. A salad is about as fancy as I get on vacation, to be honest. I think on this trip I ate my weight in shrimpburgers and onion rings. All the more reason to hit the treadmill running—literally–today.
In other news, I have my schedule for the North Carolina Literary Festival, which is happening September 10-13. I’m doing a panel on Saturday the 12th, at 11:10 am, with Jill McCorkle and Courtney Jones Mitchell. The title is “A Mentor’s Influence” and it’s super cool because Jill was my teacher when I was at UNC, and I was Courtney’s teacher when she was an undergraduate in the writing program. It’s being held at University United Methodist Church, which is on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Added trivia bonus: it’s also where I went to preschool when I was a kid. Ah, gotta love staying in your hometown. The memories are EVERYWHERE. Anyway, we’ll be talking and then signing books, so come out if you can. You can find out more info about the festival here. I’m also going to be appearing at a benefit for The Chapel Hill Public Library at Fearrington Village on Sunday, the 13th. Tickets are kind of pricey—$75 a person—but it is a good cause so if you have cash to burn and love NC writers, find out more here. I’ll be doing at least one other event for Long Story Short, the anthology of short-short stories, in September. When I have details, I’ll pass them on.
I have to say, it is nice to be home. My dogs are kind of holding a grudge (as they always do) but the tomatoes are still busting out all over, my zinnias are blooming like crazy and I have new episodes of Project Runway and Top Chef on my DVR. Now that I’m back, too, I can start dealing with all the burning questions of fall. Like, “Will I ever start writing again?” (Hope so, and soon.) And “Is it bad I really want to see the Hannah Montana movie?” (Hope not.) And “How many miles do you have to run to work off a shrimpburger?” (Actually, I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that one.) Stay tuned….
1. So far, even with a hurricane churning in this general direction, the beach has been amazing. Sunny and hot, the water perfect. The one downside: my daughter cannot seem to understand the meaning of “Stop!” or “Wait!” when she is running wildly towards the water, shrieking with glee. Multiple times I have had to chase her down and grab her to keep her from just leaping into the sizeable waves. I know, I know. It’s not a good thing. I have tried to explain to her, scolded her, even removed her from the beach when she wouldn’t listen. And yet, it’s like she can’t help herself. My babysitter and I have resorted to running a tight, organized defense around her in case she makes a break for it, but this has its own challenges. The ocean must be respected, pretty as it is. But how do you explain this to a toddler? Sigh.
2. Another thing I’ve been doing on this trip, as well as the last one, is watching Friday Night Lights on DVD. One of the nice results of hooking my babysitters onto FNL is that they are now SO addicted that they have to catch up by watching as many episodes as possible before the new season starts. We watched seasons three and one, and have now doubled back to two. which is kind of odd but I’m liking it. You get to see people at the beginning and end—so far anyway—-and then the middle, which gives all kinds of insight. Plus, season two was the one where Tami was crazy and postpartum, and so was I when I watched it originally, so it’s nice to feel a bit calmer seeing the episodes now. We’re just on the ones where Lyla meets Logan from Gilmore Girls and Jason Street falls in love with Erin the waitress. Good times.
3. All my denial is no longer working: it’s the end of the summer. Even here at the beach, you can feel it. The beach chairs and towels are 40% off at CVS, and there are packs of school supplies beside them. I haven’t gone back to school, either as a student or teacher, for a few years now, but somehow I still get this sinking feeling when I think about it starting up. It’s like having a bad case of the Sunday blues when you don’t have to go to work on Monday. What’s the deal? Is it that ingrained? If it is, that’s just plain sad.
4. Yesterday, I finally finished Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. It was SO GOOD. I mean, sad and moving and funny and just…beautiful. It made me want to write short stories again, which is something I used to do a lot, but haven’t so much lately as I’ve been focusing on novels. You know when you read an amazingly well written book, you just are scared to start anything else, because you know it won’t measure up? That’s me right now. But I do have The Help, which EVERYONE says is great, and that’s up next. So maybe I’m on a roll. That would be nice. It’s just nice, honestly, to have time to read again. I have missed it, big time.
5. Last night, I watched Project Runway All Stars (I’m so lame I had to go to bed before the actual premiere of PR, but I have it on the DVR). I was so, so happy to get my Tim Gunn fix. And seeing all the people from previous (like Uli! and Daniel V!) was so fun. Was it just me, or did it seem like Santino was being especially obnoxious for the cameras this time? At any rate, it only whetted my appetite for the actual show, although I DID kind of miss all the Bravo previews. I mean, Top Chef and The Real Housewives go with PR like….summer and shrimpburgers, so it’s a bit of an adjustment. But I will—wait for it—make it work. Okay, sorry. Couldn’t resist that one.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
So I’m sitting here, drinking hazelnut coffee. Can I tell you how much I love hazelnut coffee? It’s like two products in one: caffeine AND air freshener. I love when a product pulls double duty.
This beach house is, like, so nice. The decor is gorgeous, there are TWO dishwashers (why you need two, I have no idea) and the TV system is so complicated that even I—who considers herself good at such things—-can’t figure out how to work the DVD player. All this decadence is so odd because really, at the beach, what do you need more than the view and a path to the sand? Not much. I remember, as a kid when we came down here, the beach houses were just that: beach houses. Kind of ramshackle, creaky, bare bones. No dishwashers, certainly no decor other than some seashells stuck to the walls. An outdoor shower IF you were lucky. But it was fine, because we were at the beach and that’s all that mattered. Now, though, I guess people like more comforts. I’m not knocking it. I like comfort too, otherwise I’d be camping on the beach right now, I guess.
Up in Cape Cod where my family lives, though, the houses are still the old school style. There are always plumbing problems, and bug problems, and the occasional dead mouse popping up where you least expect it. All the faucets leak, for the most part, and you usually have to follow directions to know how to use any of the appliances, which are ancient. (My mother busted out an iron a few years ago that I swear to you was from the 1920’s. Fire hazard, anyone?) You have a washing machine IF you are lucky, otherwise you truck to the laundromat to read bad magazines during the spin cycle. But there, it doesn’t matter either. Because my family is all around me, and we’re all in it together. Dead mice and all.
In other news, I watched A&E’s Hoarders last night on the DVR and all I can say is WHOA. My husband, the neat freak, would not even be able to watch this show: he can’t handle soggy Cheerios in the sink, much less people living in a house with rotting fruit and meat all around them. I was reminded, during one segment where one of the women was being FORCED to throw out some yogurt that was six months expired, of our recent debate/argument/marital issue about if salsa stays good longer than a week or so. Clearly, it’s all relative. The best part of the show, though—other than seeing people that need help get it—was watching my friend Geralin just totally kick clutter ass. She’s so perky and cute and able to keep a calm face even in the presence of a SERIOUS mess. My favorite part was when this one guy was freaking out about getting rid of his collection of old fishtanks, and he said he was feeling sick to his stomach. Geralin gives him a sympathetic look and says, “Do you need a water or a coke or something?” LOVE IT! That’s my girl.
Okay, enough gushing. My daughter is literally tugging at my leg to get me off the computer and out onto the beach for our seven am walk…..
Have a great day, everyone!
Hear that? It’s the sound of the ocean, which is right outside my back door as I write this. Yes, I am back at the beach. Yes, I could not help myself. I just needed a bit more time here, and despite a CRAZY day coming down yesterday now I am here and it’s all good. Next week, everything begins again, but for now….I’m happy to just stick for awhile. To stick at the beach is just a bonus.
Anyway. Lots of cool stuff coming up, starting with TONIGHT, on A&E, there’s a new show called Hoarders, which is all about people who can’t get rid of anything and how all the clutter rules their lives. It’s a serious compulsion, and interesting all on its own, but I am especially wanting to watch because my friend Geralin, who is a professional organizer, is featured on some episodes. Geralin is pretty much my best friend from college, and she’s about the most organized person I know. I want her to come to my house and, like, get my entire life in order. Anyway, I’ll be tuning in, and if you’re interested, maybe you will as well.
Also ahead: the North Carolina Literary Festival, which is held at UNC-Chapel Hill this year. Hooray for NC writers, and the other writers who are coming to make this festival one of the best ever, truly. You can check out the latest info here. John Grisham, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Strout, R.L. Stine …what’s not to love? I will be there as well, although I am not sure what my exact schedule will be yet, if I am reading or doing a panel or whatever. As soon as I know, you will know. Promise. But if you are within traveling distance to Chapel Hill and LOVE books, you know where you want to be Sept 10-13. I can’t wait, personally.
I just turned on the news to see that there are not one but TWO hurricanes now out in the Atlantic. Whoa. Better go dig my toes in the sand for a bit while it’s still so gorgeous here….
1. I feel like the summer is just whizzing by right now. I mean, it’s mid-August. School starts at UNC in less than two weeks, for the public schools around the same time. My own daughter is starting playschool (sob!) the end of this month. Part of me really wants to try and embrace the fall, and get excited about things fall-lovers do, like cool weather and sweaters and apple cider and pumpkins. That is the stuff that fall lovers like, right? I have no idea, because given my choice, I’d be all about flip flops and shrimpburgers and ice cream all year round. Maybe I should move to Florida or something. Huh. Seems like an extreme solution, though. I think I should at least try to embrace sweaters and apple cider first.
2. Something else to be excited about for the fall: my first box set! Check it out:
I’m not sure what the release date is for this, other than it’s sometime in September. Exciting, right? My husband and I have always joked about The Sarah Dessen Collected Works and now it’s actually kind of happening. Shrimpburgers not included!
3. Also coming up in the next few weeks: the return of shows! There’s Project Runway, and Top Chef. Also, Mad Men, which I honestly tried to watch but was way too dark and smoky for me. Maybe it was because I was a new mom and needed bright, cheery things to watch. Should I try again? I just added The Wire to my Netflix list (again) because everyone keeps saying I HAVE to watch it and I guess I can’t go around demanding everyone watch Friday Night Lights without listening when other people champion their favorites. Fair is fair, right?
4. My husband now wants to buy a car JUST for the racetrack. As I write this, he is looking at a bright yellow Z car. He keeps saying, “You’d look so good in it!” Which is ridiculous because 1) I’d never go on the track and 2) I look really bad in yellow. Why can’t he take up something safe, like stamp collecting or video games? Does it HAVE to be bike jumping or race car driving? Geez. This is marriage, though. You have to understand.
5. Okay, so I know I am super late to this. But John Hughes died last week, and it has honestly taken me this long to even begin to process it. What would my teen years have been like without Sixteen Candles and the Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink? Uncle Buck is one of my husband’s favorite movies: I have seen it, literally, hundreds of times. John Hughes just had an understanding of being a teenager that the rest of us who try to chronicle this time can only hope we can aspire to. I don’t know how to honor him other than to do what everyone else is doing, which is watch his movies and quote them and just remember. “Make a wish,” Jake said at the end of Sixteen Candles. And Molly Ringwald replies, “It already came true.” How can you do a better finish than that? You can’t. You just can’t!
Have a great weekend, everyone!