Monday, July 30, 2007

Mooth Looking

I think it's a fair indication of how much I needed a vacation that I left two posts about my deodorant difficulties up for ten days and thought nothing of it...what a treat for folks visiting my blog for the first time! (I'll have to check Statcounter to see if I got any hits from people Googling The Secret who found themselves in the midst of my Ocean Breeze/Glacier Mist dilemma).

Anyway...vacation was AMAZING. What a week. I woke up in Chicago Sunday morning, flew to Boston, then Steve and I drove further north into the woods of Maine than I ever thought possible.

My sister and her husband (both of whom are much more nature-savvy than I am; they even registered at L.L. Bean for their wedding...) found a house to rent on Mooselookmeguntic Lake. And yes, it took me the better part of the week to figure out how to pronounce it. The area is known for beautiful sights, scenic hikes, and amazing waterways, all of which recalibrated my inner world into a much more balanced place. We spent hours floating around on Styrofoam noodles, looking up at mountains and miles of ice-blue sky (my sister and I also worked hard on our synchronized noodle-swimming routine, but that will remain our little secret until someone in the family learns to use Youtube).

But the big fun in Mooselookmeguntic - the wild nightlife, so to speak - is, as the name implies, moose-looking. (Or, as my four-year old niece says, mooth-looking. I made her say it over and over again, just because it made me smile). Now, we were nothing if not dedicated mooth-lookers. The journal in the cabin we rented told amazing tales of people who had seen 8, 10, even 12 moose in their visit; my humble goal was to see just one. (EVERYONE in my family has seen a moose, except for me. My father even saw one once on the golf course). We drove for miles up and down back roads, country roads, dirt roads... And yet for all our efforts, we saw nothing. It got to be a running joke, as we wondered if perhaps the Moose were attending a convention in New Hampshire?

My sister took this picture of me towards the end of one of these trips, where the closest we came to encountering nature was when I made her pull over so I could pee. (The term "scenic overlook" has new meaning in our family). At one point we thought we saw a bald eagle circling above us, but then Meg said, "Oh. Hmm. No - that's a turkey vulture." A turkey vulture. "I bet it's preying on our dying hope..."

That night, Meg and her husband went out to dinner. Steve and I had just put the young-uns to bed when we heard tires screeching into the driveway, and my sister flying up the stairs. "Come on!" She yelled frantically, "There's a moose!" "Let me get my shoes," Steve said. "No shoes!" Meg said, herding us into the X-Terra, "There's no time!" We jumped, barefoot, into the truck (leaving my brother-in-law standing in the yard holding two cartons of leftovers) and Meg took off down the road. And there, standing in a ditch munching grass, looking a bit bewildered by the headlights and semi-hysterical squeals of glee coming from our vehicle, was a moose!

It looked like God's first draft of a horse.

Now, like all good nature watchers, I had my camera at the ready, and snapped several pictures so I could share them with all of you. But as it turns out, you can't really take pictures in the dark through the windshield. So my hard-won souvenir looks like a piece of black construction paper. Oh well. The moose knows I saw her :)

But then, as the crowning touch on what was already a pretty fantastic week, Steve and I saw this as we started back home to Boston yesterday morning:


Thursday, July 19, 2007

More fallout from the Target failure

I ran out of deodorant this morning when I was, um, halfway done, I guess you'd say. This is yet another item I failed to find at Target yesterday. In a stroke of relieved genius, I remembered that there was another almost-empty container of Secret in my travel bag, so I grabbed it. So today, if you stand to my left, you'll smell "Glacier Mist;" to my right, "Ocean Breeze." I guess that gives you choices, which is always a good thing. At the very least, this approach should confuse the bears.

(Again - If I categorized, this would be filed under "TMI")

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Of Bears and Bullseyes

I just got back from Target. I went in with a list of approximately thirty-seven things I needed, and came out with a bottle of dishwashing liquid. Now, it's been a long time since I spent only $1.22 while visiting the Big Red Bullseye, so I probably shouldn't complain. But at the same time, I'm not sure the few ounces of Palmolive were worth the dash through the rainy parking lot (especially once I got home and realized that we use Dawn to wash our dishes).

Anyway...on a happier note...

We're going on vacation! We're venturing into the woods of Maine, further north than I've ever been. My sister just sent me a warning about bear sightings - how you need to wear bells to fend them off and not get eaten. (Target didn't have any bells, but I guess I could squirt the bears with Palmolive...) I'm not too worried about it, though. I spent the winter taking singing lessons from a friend who is a trained soprano. Sometime around week three, she kind of gave up. She stopped charging me, and made a point of singing extra loud so I wouldn't hear myself and get discouraged. So next week, if we see a bear, I'll just belt out a few lines of "You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings," which should be enough to create a nice little zone of safety around us. As a matter of fact, I bet that's what they used to do in the olden days! :)

(If I was savvy enough to categorize my posts, I'd totally call this one "wildlife management.")

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ways to embarrass myself that don't involve coffee

My amazing friend Dave sent out an email yesterday, announcing that he will be doing the Pan-Mass Challenge again this year to raise money for cancer-fighting research. (Some of you met Dave in a recent post by Lynette - he is one half of Impossibly Tall Rowing Couple.) When I read the email, I forwarded it to hubby Steve, saying something to the effect of, "We should make a donation," followed by bit of mushy stuff about how much I love him. All good.

Except that as it turns out, I didn't forward the email to Steve - instead, I hit "reply" and forwarded my thoughts of love and devotion to Dave. Sigh.

Fortunately, Dave has a good sense of humor. He agreed that we should make a donation, and assured me that he loves me too....I could almost hear Dave, his gorgeous wife, and their adorable daughter (aka Impossibly Tall Toddler) laughing from the other end of the Charles.

All that to say, if you want to support a great cause, and/or be motivated by one of the most athletic people I've ever met in person (he's actually doing an extended version of the race - you know, so he'll bike the FULL width of the state, rather than just 9/10ths of it) check out his site and make a donation. I'll leave it up to you whether or not you send him embarrassing emails intended for your significant other.

Friday, July 13, 2007

All you need is love...and some upscale wine & cheese

Check this out. Amazing.

Might it be possible?

I've been pitiful in terms of writing production lately. I have all these ideas - snippets, really, like tiny pieces of a much larger map. But so far, I'm not going anywhere. I'm certainly not coming up with anything substantive enough to generate 1,000 or 1,500 words per day (you know - so when Oprah asks me how I'm such a prolific writer, I can tell her about my "disciplined approach to my craft"). This morning, as I sat on my usual place on the couch, staring at all my favorite books on the shelf across the room, it occurred to me that perhaps my little shrine to other people's writing wasn't doing me any favors; that I'd made a bit of an idol out of all those pretty covers and stories that move or inspire me, which means that I start each day thinking about all the great writing other people have done, rather than what great writing I might be supposed to do. (Let that last sentence be an example of how far I've strayed from the goal...)

So I dismantled the shrine, leaving only the Dictionary, our wedding pics, and the baseball Steve caught off a foul ball pitched by Daisuke Matsuzaka at a Red Sox game earlier this season. My beloved books are now in piles on the floor of the office. It will be fun to see them up again in a few weeks, once I'm free of whatever misguided thoughts I had that being near other people's finished books would help me get started on mine :)

I'm also coming off a long reading dry spell, filled with books I couldn't bring myself to finish (don't worry, author friends - none of them yours! I was attempting to read some of the classics I missed along the way; apparently, I'm still not insightful enough to be swept away by their wonder...) But yesterday, I found some inspiration as I read another AMAZING novel by Anna Quindlen: BLESSINGS. I read her recent RISE AND SHINE last month, and loved it equally, if not more. What astounded me most about these stories was how detailed they were, in all the right ways. Her words captured the essence of the places, scenes, and people with exactly the right balance of show-don't-tell. And she gets the emotional pitch of family dynamics exactly right. Beautiful stuff. Not to mention that the stories were so good, I forgot to be a writer-in-training and was totally caught up in the characters.

Quindlen started out (and still makes a living) as a nonfiction writer; my parents have used her savvy Newsweek articles for years to initiate conversations with my sister and I to figure out what we think about everything from the latest political kerfluffle to the role of family in our growing lives. I'm amazed that Quindlen can write fiction AND nonfiction at the same time, all of it good enough to stand on its own merits rather than on her accomplishments on the other side. Talk about raising the bar!

I've always felt that fiction was beyond me as a writer - partly because I made enough dumb choices in my 20s to give me plenty of material for nonfiction, but also because I'm in awe of those of you who plot storylines on a big board with post-it notes, create people who aren't real (and yet by the time you're done with them, they totally are), and weave sub and sub-sub plots effortlessly through it all, tying everything up in the end. How do you do that? I feel like Anna Quindlen's little sister, following her around trying to learn to be a grown-up writer :)

Quindlen's example makes me wonder if there might not be more room than we think to write freely if we don't box ourselves in.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Feeling like Sally Field at that awards show...

The past twenty-four hours have brought some amazing, surprising highs. Thank you Allison, for this. Thank you Lynette, for this. It's stuff like this that comes along when you least expect it, changing the shape of your day from a flattened pancake to a round, sunny smile. For lack of a more elegant way to put it, I'm flabbergasted.

And, but way of full "Lord & Taylor" ensemble came from Target :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The key to life (mine, anyway)

Yesterday's low point: Walking out the front door to drive to the gym and realizing, just as it locked behind me, that I wasn't holding my keys. Lamenting that we live in an area that's too citified (read: of uncertain safety) to leave an extra key hidden somewhere outside for just this type of circumstance. (My wise (and ever-so-slightly wise-ass) sister suggested that we hide a key in someone else's yard...I'll look around for possibilities when I go out later today, but the place with the Doberman is out...)

Yesterday's high point(s):
First, the realization that this could be much worse. That on the scale of Trish's embarrassing mishaps, this might not even make the list... the weather was warm, I was fully dressed (it wasn't one of those January mornings where I take the dog out in my PJ's & flip-flops, looking like I'm on my way to a casting call for What Not To Wear) and Steve would be home in an hour or so. Second, deciding to take a walk to fill the hour. I found a secluded place at a nearby park (much prettier than the gym, I have to say) where I sat and looked out over the water, trees, birds, and other call-of-the-wild scenery. It was so relaxing. It helped me get past the whole "why do we live in the big scary city?" rant, and reminded me why this place is home.

Lemons, meet lemonade.

How about you? High? Low? (If you're searching for a High for today, just remember your keys when you leave the house. At least then you can say, "I'm more organized than Trish...")

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Looking for definitions

Today, we'll start with a confession: when I put up the picture of Steve cleaning up my spills and splotches yesterday, I just thought the whole thing was funny. Embarrassing, but funny. But your comments made me see that more than that was going on; that Steve was appreciating what it means to be married to me - "counting the cost" as some might say - and deciding that it was worth it, even if we'll never be a wall-to-wall white carpet kind of couple. Thank you for the reminder :)

It came at a good time. As your comments trickled in, I was hip-deep in books about failed or failing relationships. I'm working on the proposal for Book #2 again, specifically a chapter about disappointment and betrayal (which is approximately as much fun as having a cavity filled. Necessary - even interesting at times. But not the most delightful way to spend an afternoon). I got all snarled up in a book about a woman who left her husband for a year to find herself, as if you can ever have a "self" wholly apart from the person you're married to, be he good, bad, or somewhere in between. (I know that isn't the prevailing sentiment in women's studies these days, but in my experience at least, if you're sharing a bed, a refrigerator, a mailbox and a TV remote control with a man you've pledged to love, honor, and cherish in sickness and in health, you're sufficiently intertwined that individuality becomes an almost silly notion. You can find your talents, your dreams, even your fabulosity, but you probably can't find your "self"). Anyway...

It made me wonder (to take us back to a happy place), what do we mean when we think of being loved, honored, cherished? What does that look like? For me (and I never would have guessed this), it looks like a man with a bottle of Multi-Purpose cleaner and a paper towel, seeing where his wife spent the day and laughing about it.

What does it (or might it) look like for you?

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Map of My Day

People who know and (claim to) love me say that I'm a little foggy in the morning. They suggest, with only the smallest of smiles, that the moments between my emergence from the bedroom and my first sip of coffee are the absolute best time to get me to agree to try camping, become a vegan, or to buy new iPhones for the entire family so none of us ever get lost again (or, if we can't figure out the map feature, at least we'll have music to make the wandering more pleasant). These seem like fine ideas to me first thing in the morning, because really, all I care about at that point is coffee.

My morning routine is quite predictable: Once I have my coffee, I shuffle back into the living room or bedroom, where I sip contentedly while God and I talk over the coming day. He reassures me I don't have to vacation in a tent or subsist on plant life; he tells me to wait a few months until the kinks have been worked out of the iPhone. This is my favorite part of the day, and not much keeps me from it.

Last night, my dear husband told me a secret: when he gets home at night, he can tell where I shuffled with my morning coffee, because I leave a trail of drips on the hardwood floor from the kitchen to wherever I wandered off to. I told him he was wrong. That's silly, I said, slightly indignant. I can't possibly spill that much. Then he lead me on a guided tour of little brown splotches all over our condo, like a google map of "Trish's favorite places."

"Yesterday, you had coffee on the porch," he said, wiping a splash off the back door. Sigh. Busted. Hee :)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I'm working on a new page for my web site, a page of inspiration I've found in unexpected places.

This past year of blogging has made me realize that there are different types of inspiration. Some things - the egg on our car, my love of chicken decorations, my niece's certainty that baloney comes from God - make me giggle. This is blog inspiration, the stuff that has me formulating posts in my mind as I'm brushing my teeth or logging time on the treadmill. The little things that make life fun.

But there are bigger things I come across, things that make me stop for a moment (or a week) and wonder if my perspective on life might need to stretch just a bit. These things don't just make me giggle, they change me somehow, or push me into some new way of approaching whatever it is I'm here to do. Those are the things I hope to capture on this new page, because let's be honest...when we're most in need of inspiration is when it seems most difficult to find.

And as I've spent the past few weeks immersed in the business side of publishing, the other side of my brain (left? right?) is agitating for pretty things, for quality time with artistic brilliance that isn't quantifiable. It wants to read poetry (I don't want to read poetry; I'm not that patient. But my brain, it wants some couplets, a haiku, and maybe even a new take on the classic, "There once was a girl from Nantucket"). It wants to spend an hour on iTunes pulling up old Crosby, Stills & Nash songs, remembering how I used to drive around the beach trying to harmonize with "Our House" , wondering if I'd ever find real love. It wants to get TiVo so I don't ever have to miss another Mia Michaels piece on So You Think You Can Dance.

What does your brain want?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Scrambled Egg

A bird laid an egg on our car the other day.

There are no trees near where we parked (unless said bird shot-putted the egg from the branches of the maple across the street) so we're not entirely sure how this happened. All I know is that we walked out our front door and Steve said, "Aw man - some bird yatted all over our car!" (aside: yatted just might be the funniest word I've ever heard for this) and when we went to clean up the damage, there were tiny, speckled bits of shell, right there in the yat.

When I told my sister about this, she made several (funny) comments about the loose morals of big-city birds. We wondered if perhaps the naive lady bird didn't even know she was pregnant (how else could an egg just fall from you when you're flying? In late June?) Now that the weather is cool enough to leave the windows open, I might just spend some time reading aloud from a book on the facts of life so that these chickadees don't end up in this kind of trouble again...

It's also possible that a gang of birds has decided they don't like us (or the way THAT DOG gleefully sprints for them like a scene from Born Free the minute I open the door, forcing them to scatter in every direction) and have targeted us for retribution, trying to drive us from the neighborhood. You'd think they'd love us - after all, we're the people who held up traffic on a four-lane road while a flock of Canadian geese and their fuzzy little offspring strolled across the street the other day. Of course, we had Chicken Romano for dinner that night, so perhaps these two acts cancelled each other out...