Monday, July 28, 2008

Home Team

So, I had a bunch of fun events last week. I was at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center with
JamieMalanowski who read from his new novel, The Coup - a biting satire about the political scene. And I was happily surprised to find my friend, Chris Raymond, editor for ESPN books, doing the introductions. A terrible thunder storm threatened the whole evening, but held out until the end - even nature was supporting the written word.
Then I drove up to the Boston area with my family on Friday. We stopped in the Berkshires for lunch with my sister and her husband and son, then all of us caravaned up to Newburyport where I read with my cousin Andre Dubus at Sue Little's Jabberwocky Book Store, a haven for lovers of literature if there ever was one. Sue has a wonderful area behind the store for events, and all the balconies and chairs and halls were packed with people to see Andre. It is, as a reporter for the local paper said in an article he wrote about my book, Dubus country.
I went first, and after thanking Sue for having me back - I was there for Aftermath of Dreaming - I told the crowd that Andre's daddy and my momma (brother and sister) grew up in South Louisiana, and I grew up in Baton Rouge, otherwise known as Death Valley because of the LSU Tigers' stadium. So being there at Jabberwocky to read with Andre felt a bit like playing with the LSU Tigers for their homecoming game. I was honored as hell, but just relieved I wasn't the quarterback. But it was an amazing night, it almost reminded me of my acting days. They were one of the best audiences ever. And Andre was the generous and funny and brilliant man that he is. We sat at the signing table for over 2 hours and I think I met everyone in Newburyport. This is us after it is over (Sue is in between us) and the only sustenance Andre and I had had since lunch were the grapes on the table. (And yes, I'm wearing the same damn skirt!) But it was an amazing evening, and I feel so blessed to have such a great cousin whom I adore as a writer and as a family member, and was so sweet to invite me to read with him like that. I did Borders in Braintree - south of Boston - the next day - and wore different clothes, but of course don't have pictures!! The manager there, Stacy, was wonderful and so sweet. I met lots of fun people who bought my book, and just loved chatting with them. My husband brought my sons in when I was finished and Stacy gave them a stuffed animal of Pigeon from the Mo Willems series - how lovely was that?? She was a dear. Then we went to Jeb's house where all the Dubus' gathered and we stayed up too late, but then slept late (7:30!!! I realize to most of the world, that is early, but it is noon as far as my 18 month old is concerned), Sunday morning, and we convened again at Aunt Pat's for all-morning breakfast. Thanks to my home and family here in New York, and Dubus cousins in Massachusetts, I think I might actually belong up here in the North. Maybe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I went into the city today for an afternoon and evening of appointments. This morning before I left, I suddenly realized I was experiencing free-floating anxiety, which, while unpleasant, did remind me of an old Roz Chast cartoon in the New Yorker from forever ago, entitled: "Little Beverly Playing Cards - Play 'Em! Collect 'Em! Trade 'Em!" The cartoon showed Little Beverly - yet another of Chast's odd little girls - in a series of prosaic tasks, until the last card showed Little Beverly standing still in the middle of nowhere with the caption, "Little Beverly experiences free-floating anxiety." Clearly, this cartoon struck a chord. So while I am never unhappy to be reminded of a Roz Chast cartoon, I wasn't thrilled about this anxiety especially since I don't have it very much, or if I do, I at least know what it is about. I ran through the list in my mind of possible options, but all is fine, until I was on the train going in, and realized that it was because I was leaving my children. Now, mind you, my children are fine. They love and adore my sister (who was babysitting) to the point where when I leave, it is not an issue at all. I know they are in great and capable hands. And for my end, I spend lots of time with them, happily so. But frankly, sometimes it just doesn't feel like enough. Especially in the summer. To be honest, the only thing I feel like doing lately is being in the park with them, playing in the sand, and caring about whose turn it is on the slide. I took the subway from Grand Central to the upper west side, and was walking up Columbus when I passed a woman pushing a double stroller - not a difficult sighting in that neighborhood. In the stroller were two little girls who looked about my sons' ages - 18 months and 4 and a half. Our eyes met, and I told her that my two were at home. We exchanged their ages, bonded on similar spacing, and then I said, "I wish I were with them now. I had a really hard time leaving them today." And we talked about just wanting to play with them as much as we can in this tiny, finite, little patch of a moment that we get with them at this age. Playing with them at home in our yard, or at the park, or on the couch which is suddenly a plane is such an amazing escape for me from all the other stuff that my mind is sure - and will tell me - is important and necessary. And on one hand, it is. But not more them. I have really just been wanting to play with them this summer, and am as much as I can. My youngest is 18 months and I adore that age. He thinks he is four, and keeps up with his older brother quite grandly, but his little body betray himself in very dear ways. His days are an opera of "no's." But they are sung so sweetly, they invoke laughter in me rather than upset. My oldest is all about going to the doctor now. He is constantly bandaging everyone in the house, and having his leg wrapped with this green safety tape that another one of my sisters gave him for his work sites. He always reminds me of a painting I used to look at when I was five in this book my momma had called, "Great Paintings of the World" of three Civil War soldiers hobbling home with their legs, arms, and heads wrapped with bandages. He is constantly coming up to me and say, "I need to tell you something by whispering." then he leans into my ear for the secret, which usually starts with him saying, "Are I....?" I will be heartbroken when that stops. Sorry for the smushiness about my children. I meant to write about other stuff, but ended up not.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Birds & the Bees and Cookies

So, a friend of mine just got home last night from a long vacation only to discover two new kittens. This in itself is shocking enough, seeing as how she didn't even know that the mother was pregnant, but it was made even more so by the fact that said cat had just had a litter in April. I think my sons' reactions summed it all up: my 18 month old grinned madly while waving his arms ecstatically in the air, and my 4 year old said one word,
And come to think of it, that is exactly what he said when we told him that I was pregnant (and no, it wasn't a "we", there is nothing "we" about pregnancy), and he was going to have a little brother.
I thought it was a reasonable response. Why exactly? But thanks to reading my Penelope Leach, we didn't try to pass off some, "Because we love you so much, we wanted more" answer, which really if you think about it makes no sense. Or is only setting him up for a lifetime of excessive longing and/or addiction - there's a fate. So we just said, "Because we are, and he's going to be part of our family." Then he cuddled in my lap for awhile and seemed more interested in my protruding belly than he had been before, but then he got on the floor and we played airplane. And had a cookie.
And speaking of, I was in my favorite place in this area to get a cookie and coffee, Coffee Labs in Tarrytown, NY. I wrote most of my blog essays in there, and got to listen to music I'd never find or turn on myself and was well supplied caffeine-and-sugar-wise. And ending up going every week.
Because I love them so much, I wanted more.Post Options