Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Story of the Day. No Ulterior Sales Motive.

Thanksgiving weekend, I was torturing myself trying to remove poached eggs from silicone floaty cup thingies, when my dear friend Peter said something about our family always having problems with eggs. "Huh?" I said, as the mangled egg slid onto the English muffin (which, let's face it, should be re-named Egg Sponge.)

"You know," he replied, "like the time this summer when your husband used the bug spray instead of the Pam to make the scrambled eggs."

I put down my spatula. "Excuse me?"

His wife made a little whistling sound that she makes when she's trying to only signal him, like a dog with high-pitched hearing. Except we all can hear it and we know exactly what she's doing.

Yes, it's true. My husband, renowned short-order breakfast cook especially on vacation, served poisoned eggs to his children and his houseguests, and didn't realize it until after the kids complained that the eggs tasted "funny."

"Was this the same day we took Middle Daughter to the ER for stomach pain?"

Yes, he confessed. And you never mentioned this to the ER doctor? "She didn't eat the eggs," Peter said. I remembered now, so clearly. My daughter had had stomach pain for days, and my husband, no alarmist, had suddenly called and said he was taking her to the ER. And I also remember everyone obsessing over what my daughter might be allergic too. And Peter and my husband, asking her repeatedly, over and over, "Are you sure you didn't have the eggs?"

Angrily, I remember telling them, "I don't think she's allergic to eggs, okay?"

As it turned out, they had both snuck out of the house and called the poison control hotline, and reported this entire story to Peter's wife, but not to me, because no one wanted me to "over react."

I walked over to Peter's wife and stared her down. "It's one thing for the guys to keep the secret. But about the female code, sister?"

She shrugged and said, "But your kids didn't eat the eggs. My kid did. We figured you didn't need to know."

I nodded. Okay, this made sense to me now. We carried on with our breakfast, went for a walk before they packed up to leave. It was only later that I thought to ask the next question: "Did I eat the eggs?"

When the three of them burst into laughter, I had my answer.

The moral of the story, I told my husband, is "Never fully trust men in the kitchen." No, he said, the moral of the story is "Keep bug spray in the living room."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Story of the Day. No Sales Pitch. No Links.

On the train to the city this morning, I look out my window and see a young woman, barefoot in a revealing minidress, carrying gold high heels, weaving on the edge of the platform. Walk of shame? Call girl with a hangover? Ah, it's so hard to tell these days. Suddenly she climbs down and wanders up the tracks unsteadily. Whoa, situation upgraded to Drug Overdose or Suicide Pact. I mean, she's half-dressed and barefoot, and it's winter, y'know? Alarmed, I call 911. As I calmly give the description of the girl, some dude near the front of the train stands up, stares at me, and clears his throat cinematically. (Cuz I'm in the quiet car, don't you know.) I calmly hang up and announce, "I just want the throat clearer and all of you to know that was a 911 call to report someone drunk on the tracks." My seatmates are incredulous. You try to help and this is what you get! I replied that had I been on Amtrak, I would have been tackled like a terrorist.

We get to the station and the throat-clearing dude comes up to me and says, "Miss, I'm very, very sorry. I was wrong." I told him it was all right, that I understood (and I resisted the urge to tell him to take up yoga.)

I tried to remember the last time someone ten years younger than me called me 'miss.' Or the last time a man told me he was not only sorry, but wrong.

Karma nicely corrected, don't you think? Then the conductor called and verified that the girl had been crossing the tracks, and had made it to the other side.

Now let's hope she also got some coffee and a jacket.

Trappe Book Store

Had a great Liars Club event at Trappe Book Center in Collegeville, PA. A beautifully merchandised and thoughtfully curated book store if ever there was one! Order my book from them (info here) and I'll stop by to autograph it.

In photo: Moi,Gregory Frost and Marie Lamba.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Page for Bird House

Publishers Weekly, Authors Nightstand

Great Review of The Bird House in Publishers Weekly. I'm just sayin, I'm not braggin', okay?
And to readjust my karma, let me tell you about another author on my nightstand . . . she writes big fat yarns like the rainy-day books you loved as a girl. Kate Morton. Her new book is called The Distant Hours. See? I just said something nice about someone who isn't me. God I'm so nice. :-)

How? When? Where?

Burning question: how do you find time to write?

During the day, Jonathan Franzen writes in a dark windowless basement on an old computer with no internet connection. During the evening, Tillie Olson wrote in a laundry room in between ironing shirts. I have written in a notebook during my train ride into work, on the back of an envelope while I was waiting at the doctor’s office, on a computer while my kids were napping in the room next door, their sighs and gurgles on the baby monitor providing occasional punctuation. I built every novel I have ever written in tiny snatches of time, not large blocks of it. Half an hour here. An hour there. Even if all I write is one good sentence, that’s an accomplishment. And that’s how everything is written: one sentence, one paragraph, one chapter at a time. I have friends who write in journals every morning, friends who scribble on index cards during their lunch breaks. Anyone who finds time to walk their dog, run on a treadmill, eat dessert, lay on a beach, bake a pie, or play a hand of poker can find time to write. But anyone who finds themselves continually asking about the how, the when, the where of writing . . . . really needs to look deep in their heart and make sure there is a why. Where there’s a why, there’s a way.

For more responses on burning questions, check out the Liars Club blog.