The other day I was loitering outside the Body Shop in Harvard Square, waiting to meet my friend, Maggie. Aside: good people watching spot. Very good. I was scanning the crowd for her. And then I saw a woman with the right sunglasses. I squinted at her hat. Did Maggie have such a hat? Maybe. The woman got closer. Her walk was wrong. And oh. No. No no no. She wasn’t much like Maggie at all. Much less attractive. So then I felt guilty to Maggie for having mistaken such a poor copy for her.

I do this all the time. Think I see someone I know. Realize I’ve made a mistake. Realize doppelganger is very far from doppelganger and then feel like I’ve slighted my friend. Like I should call them up, tell them what happened, and apologize. Profusely. Which is ridic, because my friends will never know this happens.

Unless they read this blog post.

 

 

 

 

I’m having a baby, y’all. No, not that kind of baby. Not the human kind. A better kind! The reading series kind.

Craft on Draft is a series for aspiring writers, readers and folks who love a good story. We’re hosting three authors: Lisa Borders, Henriette Lazaridis Power, and someone who looks a lot like me. All the authors will read from a very early draft of their first pages and then the same pages in their final, polished, published glory. They’ll discuss what changes they made and why. Possibly, alcohol will be mentioned as a coping mechanism during revision.

But wait, there’s more! We’re inviting all attendees to bring a fiction first page of their own. And one lucky person will get her first page read and critiqued by the authors. What? Immediate feedback from novelists? That sounds amazing!

But wait, there’s more! The author whose page is chosen will get a fabulous pint glass, courtesy of Grub Street, filled with the drink of her choice by the talented and generous Michelle Hoover.

This is the kind of reading I’d want to attend (and will)! Where the author peels back the curtain and tells you how those pages you’ve read happened. How novel making happens, page by page.

So please join me on April 8th at 7:00 pm at Trident Booksellers for Craft on Draft.

And tell me how amazing I look for someone who just had a baby.

 

 

 

 

Addictions are serious. Disabling. Destroying. So of course my addiction is the sort to be laughed at. I wrote all about it at Punchnel’s.

http://www.punchnels.com/first-person/my-addiction-its-not-what-you-think/

If you manage to guess what it is correctly before visiting the link you are either: 1. my best friend or 2. a wizard. If you’re #2, can we talk? I have a LOT of ideas about uses for magic.

I wrote a blog post about patience and I didn’t reference Guns N Roses once. Unbelievable, right?

You should read it anyway.

 

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I read a lot. Pretty much have ever since I cracked the code of literacy. Hell, even before then. I adored visiting the basement children’s library and choosing books that my mother would then read with me.  She’d sit on the wooden rocking chair and I’d settle comfortably on her lap. We’d have a stack of books squished to our left side. And when we’d finish a book she’d move it to our right side. I can remember that movement: finished book to the right, more clearly than I recall most things.

Reading transported me to places I’d never heard of and it taught me things we completely skipped in U.S. History class (the Blitz, internment camps, Ypres.)  It has also taught me how to write.  Studying books (mostly novels) has shown what can be achieved with story and how.  As John Green says, “Reading is the only apprenticeship we have as writers.”

I read so much (and have a somewhat crap memory for what I’ve read) I keep a spreadsheet of the books I’ve completed (and in rare cases, chosen not to complete.) I started the list on January 2006. To date, I’ve recorded 542 books read. This isn’t wholly accurate as I often don’t record books that I read for research.

Today, whilst cleaning my office (again) I found a folder entitled Reading List. It contained lists of books I intended to read. Some of the books were lined through, indicating I’d read them. I had lots of post-its in there too with scribbled suggestions. And one note on hotel stationery. Not my handwriting. Far too perfect and bubbly. No, it was my mother’s.

My mother had suggested I read The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Laura Willig. And she made note of this on paper taken from The Copper Beech Inn in Ivoryton, Connecticut.

I immediately looked up the book. It’s about an American young woman resolved to discover the story behind a spy, known as the Pink Carnation. I remembered my mother having told me about this book. “It’s a bit light,” she’d said.  “But fun.  I think you’ll like it.”  I bought it two seconds later.

That hotel stationery note was a gift from the past. My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t read.  Not anymore. She finds it hard to follow a storyline and she has much less patience for difficult tasks. Less patience, full stop. I might tell her about a book I’ve just read but I know she won’t read it and she won’t have any suggestions to offer me. I worry that when my next book is published she might not be able to read it. Though I think she’ll try. If she’ll make an effort for anything, I think it will be to read her daughter’s book. She is terribly proud of me.

Part of me was so happy to find the note. And part of me is sad. There aren’t any more notes to find. This was it.  It’s the last book recommendation my mother left me.

And when I’ve finished reading it, and moved it from my left side to my right, and added it to the spreadsheet, #543, there will be no more shared books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wrote a blog post for the wonderful folks at Dead Darlings (great name, huh?) And figured I ought to link to it so I could achieve some marketing synergy! That’s how things work, right?

Go here and check it out if you want to know how not to undermine writers, or maybe you want to know so you can devastate your ex who happens to be a writer or fancies she is. Well, that’ll learn her for breaking your heart, right?

 

Me and the VHB were in the car the other day, stuck behind someone with a silly bumper sticker. I can’t remember what it said. I know it was jokey, and the joke was dumb. And I thought, “Wow. You thought that line was so funny you stuck it on your car and now it’s never gonna come off and people are going to judge you forever by it, or until you get a new car.”

And that’s when I realized. Bumper stickers are tattoos for your car.

I don’t like tattoos.  I’m not against them in general. Some are beautiful.  But for me?  No. Because the idea of committing to an image, a word or a joke for the rest of my natural born life terrifies me. What if I hate it in six months or, much worse, six minutes?

Maybe if I find something I really like I’ll have it tattooed onto to my skin when I’m 86 years old. And then I’ll go stand on the street near my nursing home shouting at bumper stickered cars, “You call that commitment? This is commitment!” And then I’ll lift up my shirt and part the folds of my wrinkled skin to show them my tattoo.

You know, this idea is really growing on me.

 

 

 

 

Do y’all know what a ganglion cyst is?It’s a benign tumor you get on or around your joints, most commonly your hands and feet. Delightful, no? You can look ‘em up and go “agh” when you see the pictures and be thankful you’ve never had one. Unless you have. In which case, I feel you. Because I get ganglion cysts on my left wrist. And they hurt like a bastard. I once had one so painful and motion-reducing and hard that it had to be cut out of me. Surgery. It sucked. Especially since it coincided with me leaving New York. Moving with only one hand? Not recommended.

Anyway, this is important because I’ve been ganglion free for years-huzzah! Until recently, when my left wrist started feeling less than delighted during the push up portion of kickboxing class. Usually it’s my triceps that complain. But this was definitely my wrist, and in the same old spot. Le sigh.  The bump was tiny, but it really hurt so I made an appointment with my doctor, who has the same name (different spelling) as a famous actor. I adore my doctor. I had a sore throat once and he “prescribed” me popsicles.

“Popsicles are soothing,” he said. “And they have no known side effects. You can keep ‘taking’ them as needed.”

I showed him my tiny bump. He moved my wrist around. I gamely did not groan or scream. And then he said.”You know, they used to take the family Bible and smack it against those cysts to break them up.”

I knew this. My pediatrician told me this same story years ago, and then made me promise I wouldn’t try it because I could break my hand.

But my current doctor told me this story in different forms three times. In other words, he was advocating it. Unlike aspirating the cyst (sticking a needle into it and draining the fluid out) smacking the cyst with a heavy book actually breaks the cyst up.  Bye bye!

So I thanked him for the advice and returned to work. Then I looked on YouTube and found a video of a kid with a big old cyst on her inner wrist.  A friend with a large book smacks it and–presto! It’s gone, baby, gone. I wanted that. So I found Champika in her office around the hall and said, “Champika, you are my least responsible graduate student. I need you to take a heavy book and hit my hand with it.”

Champika said, “Oh?” and then a second later “Okay!”

Her face fell. “But I don’t have a heavy book.” She looked up.  “Ricarose does, though!”

In fact, Ricarose had a shelf of heavy books, including Graduate Research Methodologies.

So I sat at Ricarose’s desk and circled my cyst with a pen so Champika had a target. She hovered the corner of Graduate Research Methodologies over my ganglion and then whacked me with it. “Ow,” I said.  And then, “Not hard enough.”

She whacked me harder. I pushed at the cyst. It felt better. Not gone, but better.  I rotated my wrist. Range of motion: improved. Pain: lesser. Verdict: hooray for getting smacked with a book.

“I should do this for money,” Champika said. “It’s fun.”

Fast forward to the next day, when I tell the very handsome boyfriend (VHB) about my adventures in ganglion therapies.

And then fast forward weeks later to today when I complain my wrist is bothering me, again. The cyst, which had loosened but didn’t entirely break up, is hurting again.

“I could hit it with a brick,” VHB said.

“Book!” I said.  “It’s a book. ”

“Right,” he said.  “I was close.”

“The letters between the ‘b’ and ‘k’ are kind of important.”

“Blank,” he said.

“Block,” I replied.

“Buick,” he said.

“Not Buick!” I said. “God, if you run me over with a Buick and claim you were trying to cure my cyst, that will not be cool.”

The good news is we don’t own a Buick.  And now I think we never will.

 

P.S. I asked the VHB if I could refer to him as something other than the very handsome boyfriend since it’s rather long to type and I always have to introduce him as such in case there are any first time readers who don’t intuitively know what VHB means (visually heightened bobcat?)

“Like what?” he said.

“Your name?”

“No.” He likes being the very handsome boyfriend.

I should’ve known better than to bestow that title. Of course he likes it. I’m a victim of my own success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did I do before animated gifs?

 

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This sums up my whole day.

Okay. I give in. I’ve joined Twitter. Frankly, what was holding me back was the fact that someone had my name for her Twitter account. So I spent a LOT of time typing variations on my name and hating them all. And then it came to me. The perfect account name. StephofLegends. Follow my 140 characters or less of daily thoughts (let’s not call it wisdom.)