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  1. 3′s Conquest

    May 8, 2008 by rebecca

    So #2, who as you know is 3, and maybe I should just call her 3 instead of the ickier #2, anyway 3 spent the whole weekend talking about a new boy in her class. She wants to invite him over for a playdate. So I send an email to the mom, who I know socially even though her boy is new to the school and so I don’t know him so well, and she says Oh yes he’s been talking about her too. And thus the playdate is arranged.

    So I’m a little surprised first of all to see how tall the boy is, and then I’m really surprised that he’s written 3 a note that says Dear 3, I am so happy that you are my best friend. I’m thinking this is pretty amazing, for a preschooler! Then, when he reads something out loud to me, I have to ask him, Friend of 3, how old are you? He replies, I’ll be six in July. I almost fell off the bench! Somehow my little 3 has managed to reel in a boy more suited to play with her older sister!

    But they played together beautifully. He is quite devoted to her. He wished in the wishing “well” up the street that they could live together forever and be together all the time (she wished that he would stay for dinner). The next day, at school, she started pouting when he tried to play with another kindergarten boy. At the mere sight of her bowed head and trembling bottom lip, he quick as a wink grabbed her hand and went running off with her. I tell you, I’m just so blown away. She’s never made a friend at school — most of her friends are her sister’s friends’ little siblings — so it’s really very sweet, and amazing.

    AND his parents are fabulous people! I’ve got both girls hooked up with good families. Phew! My work here is DONE!

    (Flickr photo courtesy of Maggie Woo)

  2. Lovely Librarians

    May 6, 2008 by rebecca

    Wadsworth LibraryA word on librarians: My mother, for my whole growing up and beyond, ran libraries, as I think I’ve mentioned here before.  This means a few things, for me: 1) I can’t for the life of me return an overdue book/video/DVD.  It’s pathetic, I know.   But the woman spoiled us.  She always kept track of what was due back when, then scooped them up all on her way out in the morning.  I leave library books where they fall, behind beds, under dressers, etc., and only am bothered to hunt for them when the local librarian begins calling.  Pathetic, as I said.  Also I’ve racked up  (and paid) enough fines to build a small library myself.

    2)  My face has been exposed more than most humans’ to the blinding (probably cancer-causing) light from the photocopy machine. The library owned the only publically-accessible photocopier in our town, so when my brother and I were parked there waiting for mom to take us home after school, guess what was our favorite activity?  I still remember the first time we did it — you thought we’d inhaled gasoline and invented Pong all at once, we were so impressed with ourselves, and laughed so hard.

    3) I have never written in a book.  EVER.  It pains me to even sign my own book, somewhat.  Not enough not to actually do it, of course, but just enough to wince and be glad my mother isn’t there to see it.

    4) I really respect the opinions of librarians, who really and actually do read more than all the rest of us put together (those new cut pages!  those crinkly library wraps!).  So I when I logged on this morning to see two glowing reviews of NTCHT by LIBRARIANS,  you know I was excited.  One is here, under the headline (which I love) Chick Lit Grows Up.  And the other came in an email, from the Gale Free Library.

    A librarian, loving your book?  There’s just nothing better than that.

    (Photo is my mother’s first library, Ella M. Everhard Public Library, in Wadsworth, Ohio.  Photocopiers open to the public!)

  3. Out, Out, Damned Stress

    May 2, 2008 by rebecca

    I read a piece in the NY Times about longevity. Seems the best things you can do are: Eat small, frequent meals; drink a glass or two of wine every day; get more vigorous exercise; and banish stress from your life.

    BANISH stress from your life.

    I was so struck by that word, BANISH. Not reduce. Not manage. BANISH. All of it, forever. What would that be like, to NEVER STRESS? To resist it with every fiber of your being? (Sounds stressful.)

    I just find that so utterly radical. I picture a statuesque woman holding out her manicured hand and saying, in the voice of my friend Mary Foretich, the Texan (since this was actually one of her favorite phrases): “Out of my way, little man!”

    When I was trying to at least REDUCE the stress in my life a few months ago, I went around for about three days saying this mantra: I hurry for no man, I stress for no child. Then I got busy running around like a headless chicken and forgot all about it.

    But I like this better. The next time someone asks me when dinner is, I’m just going to hold up that hand and say, “I BANISH THEE, stress!” Then pour myself that glass or two of wine.

    (Do I need a crucifix for that?)

  4. My Unsolicited Advice to Writers

    May 1, 2008 by rebecca

    The lovely Leslie Pietrzyk, who blogs over at workinprogress, has graciously posted a piece I wrote about some the lessons I learned while writing my first book. She herself has TWO books, A Year and A Day (awesome cover) and Pears on a Willow Tree.

    I probably shouldn’t have said that I spent the last twelve years unlearning what I learned in graduate school.  That’s probably not entirely fair.  But it’s somewhat fair, anyway.

    Give the girl some love, please!

  5. Eat, Pray, Love — and earn money from home!

    April 29, 2008 by rebecca

    I just finished the blockbuster smash hit Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, a famous writer’s name if ever there was one. It’s very well-written — she’s funny and charming and there’s seemingly no gap between her interior voice and what comes out on the page (something I’m personally struggling with at the moment).

    But I found myself becoming a wee bit worried about some of the people she writes about. (Again, something I’m struggling with now, as I try to write about my hometown). She acknowledges in the book that she lied to a Balinese woman — a friend! — she was trying to help, and also told us about this woman’s work as a healer, which sometimes requires her to have studly young messenger boys come impregnate women of the village whose husbands were infertile (is that the right word, when it comes to men?), because in Bali you would never tell a man that he has a problem. So when a couple comes to her with fertility issues, she examines each one, and if it turns out to be the husband’s fault she tells him that the wife needs to come back for special treatments, ie, being mounted a couple times a week by a studly young messenger boy. Which made me a little nervous for the healer woman, given that this book was a monster smash hit and surely somebody in all of Bali might get wind of this, and how good would that be for her?

    Maybe I’m overly concerned with this because I’m trying to write about my hometown, which is in Ohio, so you know I’m a nice girl from the Midwest having a horrible time trying not to offend anyone.  NOT that I have such stories to tell as the wives of the community frolicking with messenger boys.  Or, I think.

    Also Gilbert writes pretty candidly about the man she has an affair with in Bali, and if we are to believe the post-script with whom she’s still involved. He comes across as a nice, decent guy, but the way he fawns all over her — I don’t know, I might find that hard to write about. I might be a little self-conscious there. I do admire that she puts it all out there — and that it’s skillfully edited so just as soon as you begin to weary of her voice and her SELF you get some kind of relief. She’s able to create an amazing amount of sympathy for herself, a woman who is basically very well-off, attractive, educated, unencumbered by any responsibilities, and who is paid by her publisher to take a year off to indulge her whims. Oddly, you like her anyway. I’m just the wee-est bit uncomfortable with the whole possibly offending the people she loves thing.

    Oh and extremely jealous. Did I mention?

  6. Hill, The Babe

    April 24, 2008 by rebecca

    In other related Hillary news, Hillary’s related to Angelina Jolie.

    According to the New England Historical Society they are 10th cousins. but why go to the New England Historical Society when you can read it here, at

    Now, I sort of predicted this, and if I knew how to search my blog archives quickly I could prove it. Anyway I do have a catchy little commentary that never got sold on the topic. Check out this pic of Hillary that ran in the NY Times sometime last year — I totally thought it was Angie baby, at first glance.

    Babe, no? Those lips, those eyes, that hair: Hillalina!!

  7. A Brief Political Rant

    April 23, 2008 by rebecca

    I’ve stayed out of the political discourse, as you very well know.  Black, white, male, female, reptile,  anthropoid, narcoleptic bulimic amoebic speck of space dust — anybody but he what’s in there now.  I don’t care.

    But now I’m pissed.  I accidentally read The New York Times today, and that rag couldn’t make its preference clearer.  The Times clearly expects Clinton to back down, despite the fact that Obama hardly has a clear mandate, and despite the fact that she’s able to continue funding the campaign.  I don’t understand why the democratic process shouldn’t be allowed to work, or why we should have to gnash our teeth  because we’re looking at two excellent candidates while McCain lounges around not doing much.

    It’s such an old story and it makes me really angry: she should step out of the way to make things nice for everybody. That alone is enough to put me in her corner.  I like and admire Barak Obama; I’d be thrilled if he became our next president.  Hell, I think I even voted for him.  But the whole tone of the media coverage is getting my back up.  It’s too old, too familiar, too patriarchal, and I say, fight on, Hil.  As Tom Petty, that radical old feminist would say: Don’t back down!

  8. Post-Partum

    April 21, 2008 by rebecca

    I have been sleeping like a crazy person lately, that is, I’m not sleeping so well at night and I’m barely able to wake up in the morning, and by the afternoon I need a nap, then I’m ready for bed when the kids go down at 7 or 8, then I stay up doing something goofy on the computer and suddenly am not tired until I force myself to hit the hay around 10, and then I read until 11:30 and then don’t sleep again until morning and the whole thing starts again.

    See?  Crazy.  Person.

    Paige suggested it was some kind of manifest post-partum depression.  Did I mention I had a book come out, some weeks ago? She may not be totally off the mark there.

    Also it’s crazy warm here in the northeast corner of the country.  We actually put away all the snowsuits and mittens and hats over the weekend, a good four weeks early.  Probably we’ll pay for that, eh?  I worked in the yard and bagged up a dozen lawn & leaf bags full of leaves and yard yuck.  We went hiking in our favorite gorge (except I wouldn’t go down and I wouldn’t let the kids go down into it, because the slope was still covered with hard-pack snow and the river was running hard), but my beloved, of course, had to take off his shoes and go wading in up to his knees.

    Yes, this is the same man who made it through medical school.

    I figure he’s going to end up sick in bed by about Wednesday afternoon.  The girls are home this week from school AND my parents are visiting AND I started working out with a trainer at the gym, because it’s halter top and cutoffs season coming up, doncha know!

    Gee, maybe it’s not such a mystery that I’m in bed so much of the time, these days…

    Also now that I’m well into the second book, I have to ask for your favorite carnival rides.  Tilt-a-whirl?  Ferris wheel?  The Spyder?

  9. The $62 Suit

    April 17, 2008 by rebecca

    Click for larger!I went to the MALL with GIRLFRIENDS yesterday! I *am* still occupied with 1985. Have you noticed how that song has gotten under my skin? HAVE YOU? I noticed it particularly when I was curling my hair back away from my face with my curling iron the other day.

    Anyway, hard as it still is for me to accept, I found a swinging two-piece $62 suit at H&M. Jacket, $50. Pants, $12. I KNOW! See, when I was selling computer magazine ads, there would have been zeros on the end of those numbers. But as a FAMOUS AND SUCCESSFUL WRITER? $62 suit.

    I’ll be wearing it to my first SIMULCAST today on WAMC. If you happen to be in the listening area, tune in at 11am (click the map!). You can also listen here, on the web. I don’t know the local public access cable channel. You’ll have to figure that out for yourselves.

    Oh, and I’ll be wearing my new $20 Madden Girl shoes, from Marshalls.

  10. Small Town Adams-Morgan

    April 14, 2008 by rebecca

    OK, this is what I love about my old hood in DC, Adams-Morgan, which is the setting for my book. I sent a copy to dear Miss Pixie, of Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot, where I scored most of the furniture for my fabulous fifties retro DC apartment, AND the curvy black desk chair that I still use in my office. You just never knew what you were going to find at Pixie’s. She had all manner of smoking stands, picture frames, couches, chests, just everything. And all of it very carefully hand-picked and vetted by hers truly. She has fabulous taste.

    So, Miss Pixie’s had this great location on 18th, where it curves around. The building is actually semi-circular, and very eye-catching. There’s a stolen electronics store on one side, and a high-end florist on the other. I used it as the inspiration for the location of Pru’s shop, so I sent Miss Pixie a copy of the book and note telling her how much I missed the store.

    So then I find out, through the magic of the Columbia Heights (next door to A-M) listserv, that Miss Pixie’s is there no more! Eek! I had Googled her and gotten the 18th street address, but I did not VERIFY THIS on her web site, which would have been a good idea. Desperate, I sent a note out over the listserv, asking where Miss P could be found. And today I received an email from MP herself, saying that the mailman had delivered my package to her HOME address, because he knew she had moved her store. Lucky girl, she lives just across the street from where I used to, on Columbia Road.

    Sounds like something that might happen in a place like Lenox, MA, doesn’t it? Nope, Washington, DC.