He's handsome and he charms snakes. Swoon.
I never question why I married this man. Here is the Dogtor, who inspires so much of my fiction, playing happily with a snake he fished OUT OF OUR POOL. (I'm still coming around to that fact).
He's handsome and he charms snakes. Swoon.
Monsieur Scootie Beags is colorblind, but still likes to pull raspberries and oversee the garden, which is weeks away from hitting its prime. We're still awaiting cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn. Our raspberries and broccoli are going nuts. I've already put up rounds of broccoli, collards, and kale. I've made strawberry and raspberry jam and used so much sugar my teeth hurt thinking about it.
In other news, I cook like a chaos muppet.
I also chased Scoots, Pippa, and Betsy away from a snake today, which really got my adrenaline going. Betsy had a "Lassie Lite" bark going on and I knew right away what I was going to find when I got closer to her in the grass. She and the other three dogs took turns lunging at the snake. My alpha voice, apparently, is not that convincing; I had to start pulling collars and throwing raspberries.
This, friends, is where my writing time goes.
Coming soon to you in November - the paperback of BOLP! With new words on the cover and a BRAND NEW story inside, called "Phoenix."
Today, as the Bennington MFA residency drew to a close, a few alumni and faculty members gathered to celebrate the work of Hedy Zimra. As we walked to Commons, a storm blew up and the wind raced over everything.
We started promptly at 2:30. I read her short story "The Driver," a story which impresses me more upon each read. Tanya Jarrett and A.N. Devers read some of her poetry, and Emily Oberholtzer spoke on what made Hedy, Hedy.
But the best part - the hardest part - was the weird energy after everything was said, the way we said goodbye, and no one left the room, not for a long time.
I will think of the graduation ceremonies tonight, and how on my graduation night, years ago, I danced with Hedy to David Bowie. I thought reading her work aloud at Bennington would be healing for me, but I can't stop thinking about her tonight.
Above, Hedy bringing glamour to graduation. Sparkling.
I remember some things she told me while wearing that dress, but, like most things she said, they feel like secrets.
We miss her.
Remember that time you re-plotted your novel in progress in your notebook, then lost your notebook?
Here's what happened: the girls went down for a nap in the B&B we were staying at in Nantucket. My reading finished 5 minutes later. I didn't dare enter the room while the girls were nabbing much-needed sleep. So what did I do?
First I ate cookies and tried to drink expensive coconut water, which didn't work out for me. (An idle MMB is a bad MMB.) Then I read some of Natalie Bakopoulos's book The Green Shore. Next I wandered into my B&B and sat in that weird "parlor" room that no one really goes into, and re-plotted my novel. Then I apparently left the notebook in the parlor and went on about my life.
Only when I was checking out of the B&B did I happen to see a suspiciously-familiar black notebook with this note on it. And I can't bring myself to remove the note, even a week later. I love it. It represents, so much, where I am in my life right now. Disorganized. Barely holding on. Inspired. Forgetful. Taking risks.
It was an honor to be asked to attend the Nantucket Book Festival. I gave a reading with Natalie Bakopoulos, whose terrific book The Green Shore (about the 1960s Greek military dictatorship) is just out. I got to connect with some fun friends, Nichole Bernier (whose book, The Unfinished Life of Elizabeth D hit its second printing its first week!) and J. Courtney Sullivan, whose bestseller Maine is almost as awesome as she is in person, but not quite.
The Dogtor wrangled the girls between the beach, B&B, and various icecream shops, pulling them from place to place on his rented bike. We were those people who thought: surely this party is child friendly when it surely wasn't. Live and learn.
I still feel incredibly lucky to have a husband that supports me, and a career that takes me to beautiful places to spend quality time with kind and talented people.
Above Picture: On the fast ferry to Nantucket for the Book Festival, where newly bipedal Z staggered and lurched and hollered and ate a hundred Cheerios.
If you were one of my children, you'd know I always have Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem Recuerdo in my head. It's one of the few poems I have memorized, and it bounced off the walls of my brain the entire trip, in Edna's wonderfully affected voice. I like a little woman with a big voice.
You've probably figured out by now that I adore my husband, and think he has an awesome job. The Dogtor does not sit behind a computer all day - he is active. He gives vaccines, conducts wellness checks, expresses anal glands, biopsies lumps, and...corrals loose cows. (Look at that wing span, people!)
Side note: This is apparently a wily cow-girl who has broken out of her pasture three or four times.
The Dogtor particularly loves giving tours to kids and answering their questions. These were two of my favorites (with names removed), and are not any different from the questions we typically receive from adults while attempting to eat dinner out. Bad smells, weird orange stuff, you name it.
I love being married to a veterinarian, particularly the Dogtor. I am immensely proud of the hard and good work he does and, as you can tell, find inspiration in it.
*Picture of the Dogtor in action compliments of the lovely Heather Cole.
Here's one thing I'm certain of: I'm not allowed to complain about living my dream. But what I can tell you is that it's harder than I thought it would be. It isn't as pretty as I had pictured - what is? But being a mom who is also a teacher and an author trying to promote her first book, I've found myself with my toes at the edge of a cliff, and last night was one of those times.
Here's the thing: I'm not good at saying no. It's still a HUGE honor for me to be asked to do anything, read anywhere, show up. Like I said above, I dreamed of "this day." And I had an incredible time at the Housing Works party in NYC. I was on a high as I boarded the train at 11 PM - a rather absurd thing I've done recently in order to be back home in Vermont when my two girls wake up.
But this is when things started to get desperate.
The locomotive didn't work. It took 2 hours for them to replace it. So at 1 AM, my train left Penn Station. I got to Albany at 3:30 in the morning. Now, compounding this fatigue is the fact that I still have young girls who regularly get up at 5 AM. I've been training for big runs (just ran a half marathon on Sunday), grading papers, writing. I was in NYC last Thursday and am due in California this weekend. It's also garden season - in other words - I'm flat out exhausted.
I'm also HORRIBLE with directions. So when I pulled out of the parking garage in Albany at 3:30 AM and both of my options for getting onto the highway back home were closed, and my nav function on my phone was in rebellion, I started to breathe kind of heavy and maybe I swore and maybe I cried and maybe I pulled over to a gas station whose employees wouldn't let me in and November Rain came on and I sang with all my heart and maybe I just drove off into a weird part of Albany until I finally found a highway I knew and got on it.
The sun was beginning to rise as I pulled into my driveway in Vermont. Birdsong and hungry cats at my feet as I stumbled out of the car toward the door. And all I could think was: living the dream.
But at 6:30 AM I had two girls crawling in my lap, and fun memories from the night before. And also great - a super meaningful and kind thank you note from a book club I Skyped with. My writing life isn't pretty (I look like Courtney Love right now), but it's my life, and I know I'm damned lucky.