Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not today, apparently

My wonderful husband put out the recycling last night. He was SUCH a trooper, hauling it down three flights of stairs. There was lots of it, because we'd emptied out our fridge last week before traveling, opened a few presents, etc. Plus, I'm trying to be less of a pack rat, so I decided I could probably part with a few of the 14 early drafts I still had lying around of book #1. I hemmed and hawed about recycling these because--as any writer knows--you don't really want people seeing your first attempts at something; they're usually pretty embarrassing. BUT I'm also trying to care more about the environment (which sort of goes against the whole "be less of a pack rat" goal in ways I've yet to reconcile), so I couldn't throw 42 trees worth of paper into the trash (and yes, before you ask: I had printed on both sides). I reassured myself that no one would ever see them because they'd go straight into the truck the next day before dawn, and stuffed pages upon pages into that blue container.

I just got home from running errands. When I pulled onto my street, I made a grim discovery: today is NOT recycling day. What today is, on the other hand, is windy. Very, very windy--like a tornado in Chicago. Because of this, our stuff--including every page of those 14 early drafts--is now strewn out across our sidewalk, down the street, and into the lawns of all our neighbors. Given our peculiar location, it's entirely possible that our abandoned paper now covers three different cities in the greater Boston region.

It's going to be a longish afternoon.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Put a laptop in this bear's paws (and a giant mug of coffee by his side) and this is me for the next month. I keep telling myself that a publishing deadline is a gift, not a chore, and it's the truth. I LOVE having this opportunity, even though it feels risky and impossible right now. Like almost anything I've ever done that mattered, the work standing between me and my goal seems insurmountable. I've been here before--final exams in college, studying for the bar exam the summer after law school, trying to plan a wedding in two months. It's usually the most important things that seem completely unattainable. But here's what else I know: in the words of my friend Jon from law school (who used to nap while watching televised golf while the rest of us studied frantically), Things tend to get done.

I may have blogged about this before (probably around the time of my last impending deadline), but I'm happy to report that this maxim has never failed me. I'm leaning on it now. And in the moments I start to doubt, I remind myself of another bit of smart advice I heard from a guy I know: What is impossible with people is possible with God.

(When I woke up this morning, I told God that if he wants to stop by the cave sometime soon, I'm happy to squish over and make some room...)

With 2009 on the horizon, what are your impossible possibilities?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good News, Great Advice

I found this yesterday, and it's kept me singing ever since:

Seriously, how fun is this song? I loved this movie when I was a little girl (although I can't help but wonder about how differently things might have gone for me had Kris Kringle mentioned--even in passing--that the direction we walk in makes a HUGE difference?) and it's interesting to see it through new eyes now that I am officially a grown-up. I think I'll make it my theme song for 2009.

Feel free to sing along :)

The second most exciting news I've received this week.

Have you seen this? THE BEDAZZLER IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!

When I was growing up, the Bedazzler was the one gift I longed for more than any other. It was a Christmas-only offering, part of a line of products by a company called Ronco. With Ronco, anything was possible: you could make elegant glassware from old soda bottles, scramble an egg inside its own shell, fashion potholders from worn-out sweaters...every craft dream you never had was within reach at Christmas, for just $19.95 + shipping and handling. But the best of all was this plastic gadget that allowed you to let your sparkly self shine through as you added rhinestones and sequins to your very own jeans, sweaters and jackets. I wanted one in the worst way.

Year after year, though, my parents told Santa to ignore this item on my wish list. We lived in Maine, and I was plenty bedazzled for those parts as it was. Mom and Dad saw how I'd be ostracized if I added sequins and rhindstones to my Fair Isle sweaters and plaid flannel shirts, and tried to head me off at the pass.

Ultimately, though, sparkle prevailed. My teen years were the late 1980s, which were the height of bedazzling, and once I was old enough to earn my own money, there were many catalogs willing to send me clothing that was pre-bedazzled. (Once in high school English class, my friend Matt put down my name as the definition for one of our vocabulary words. The word? Festooned.)

I'm heading back to Maine for Christmas, and the only sparkle will be in my eye. But who knows...maybe THIS year, Santa will bring me the Bedazzler? And in these economically challenging times, shouldn't we all ask ourselves: "Why buy new clothes when you can Bedazzle the ones you have?"

Here's to sparkle power...have a Merry Christmas :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Playing Tag While I Ideate

My fabulous Jersey girl Jen tagged me. So here, for your reading enjoyment, are seven things you might not know about me. I'm a little baffled about what to write, given that I share almost everything here--once you've admitted to pulling your favorite hair clip out of the toilet, really, how much more is left to tell? But I'll give it a try.

1. I used to have nightmares and walk in my sleep. My sister was a trooper about this, always cheerful when I'd wake her at 3am to check my closet for evil intruders. (Once, I even asked her to investigate a giant pile of laundry in the middle of my floor. Because that's what evil intruders do, right? They burrow down in the laundry...) I am happy to report that this doesn't happen anymore--either the sleep walking or letting the laundry pile high enough that someone could hide there.

2. I'm listening to a podcast right now about male/female relationships, and the speaker just said that it's now common for junior high boys to have a picture of their girlfriend, in the natural, on their cell phones. I know this is supposed to upset me. But thinking back to myself in those days--the braces, the home perm, the strange pockets of chub bursting forth all over my body without warning--I can't help but wonder if that particular picture might have curbed teen "exploration" for at least a decade? Just a thought.

3. THAT DOG has acne. Not on her face. On her leg. What creature gets leg acne???

4. Toilet paper must come up over the top of the roll. I'm fairly certain the rotation of our planet depends upon our getting this right.

5. I stopped eating wheat the week before Thanksgiving because I was tired of buying Excedrin in bulk to fend off a never ending sinus headache. It's gone pretty well so far, but WOW, there are some scary websites and blogs out there on this topic. Apparently, wheat particles lurk everywhere--even on doorknobs. I'm not sure what to make of this.

6. A little sticker on our car says we next need to get our oil changed at 59,740 miles. Which is totally amazing, given that the car only has 7,514 miles on it. THAT, my friends, is some serious oil they gave us! (Or alternatively, there's some other Toyota driver cruising around greater Boston wondering how they're 52,000 miles past due...)

7. I took this cool test last night to determine my strengths. If you're looking for a fun change of pace to get you thinking about what's possible in your life, this is well worth the $14. One of my strengths is that I'm an "ideator," which reminds me of the IBM commercial where the executives cleared all the tables out of the conference room and are lying on the floor trying "to ideate." I know the commercial was meant as a slam, but every time I see it, I think, "That would be a GREAT way to work!"

I'm asking Santa to bring me one of those cozy neck pillows for Christmas :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A purely theoretical question

Say you accidentally flushed your favorite hair clip down the toilet...
But, miracle of miracles, the toilet sent it back to you (almost like you were meant to have it!) with the new water. Would you:

a.) Wash the clip in your favorite antibacterial soap and thank God for plastic-resistant plumbing? or
b.) Throw the clip away and lament its loss forever?

(Did I mention that it's your FAVORITE hair clip?)

Monday, December 15, 2008

An Absurd Dilemma

There's a book I want to buy. Through a weird set of circumstances involving bookstore supply and coupon opportunity, I can get this book in either hardcover or paperback for the exact same price.

Here's where it gets embarrassing: Last night when we were out shopping, I was so stumped by this "predicament" (and I know: how big a problem can it be if there's no downside?) that I left the bookstore without buying either copy.

(And admitting this is in keeping with what I told a blogger friend recently about how I come up with something new to post about each day: "I just think of the stupidest thing I've done in the past 24 hours," I told him, "and write about that...." With this system, I never lack material.)

What would you have done?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Philosophical Thursday

Question: If you had these two choices about how your life would go, which would you pick?

Life #1: Leisurely, luxurious & slightly dull

Life #2: Adventurous, fulfilling & filled with people and situations that drive you up a tree

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Now we know

If you're a Facebook friend, you know I had a little culinary learning experience yesterday. One should not, it turns out, mix cottage cheese in with scrambled eggs. There are few things grosser than CURDS (which are rather gross on their own) subjected to high heat.

The results were sufficiently disgusting that I think some sort of legal duty to warn attaches to my actions, so consider yourself informed.

I'm off to make some oatmeal. It might be bland, but at least it's not dangerous.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A rectangular package tucked under the tree = Christmas happiness

If you're looking to give books as gifts this year (and really, why wouldn't you be? A book is simply the best gift EVER) Borders is offering a buy one/get one at half-price deal this week that rather rocks. I suspect that if you Google "Border's Rewards" it will link you to the coupon.

I have big plans for my coupon. On my great-gifts shopping list:

DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME: A NOVEL by Jancee Dunn (for friends who lived through the 1980s with me)

THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS: ONE GRUMP'S SEARCH FOR THE HAPPIEST PLACES IN THE WORLD by Eric Weiner (for someone I love who loves to travel and loves to laugh, but doesn't actually get out much)

by Patricia Wood (for everyone who needs hope. This may just be the best story ever written about the unlikely triumph of the good over evil.)

TIME OF MY LIFE: A NOVEL by Allison Winn Scotch (for my friend who thinks Mr. Right got away)

LIFE'S A CAMPAIGN: WHAT POLITICS HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT FRIENDSHIP, RIVALRY, REPUTATION AND SUCCESS by Chris Matthews (for an entrepreneur I know who wants to understand people and teamwork better).

DREAMING WITH GOD by Bill Johnson (for a spiritually-inclined friend who needs reassurance that how things are today isn't how they'll always be).

THE MIDDLE PLACE: A MEMOIR by Kelly Corrigan (if the funds allowed, I'd buy this for every Irish person I know. Given that my maiden name is Patricia Clark, though, you can see why I'll need to make some choices).

THE CURE FOR MODERN LIFE: A NOVEL by Lisa Tucker (for my friend who lives in Philly and will recognize all the landmarks, AND be encouraged by a story of how unorthodox choices can lead to good things)

In this spirit of Christmas book glee, I'm wondering if I can't offer something even better than Borders?

The other day I met a woman who said she'd given my book to a friend who had lost her hope of happily ever after. This got me thinking: if you know someone like this (or you ARE someone like this) and would like a copy of HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT for Christmas, email me your address (Trishryanonline AT gmail DOT com). I have a few author copies left, and it would be fun to add them to the Christmas cheer :)

What's on your Christmas book wishlist?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Increasing the cost of air

The good news is that we bought a humidifier this weekend, so when I woke up this morning I did not have to use my fingers to forcibly open my dried-shut eyes.

The bad news is that through some strange twist in the economy of home appliances, humidifiers now cost about the same as what I paid for my first semester of law school.

What's up with that?

There was one choice with a lower price tag: It was a cute pig humidifier, with an .08 gallon tank that shoots steam out the pig's nose. It was only $40, and I'd have named it Baloney, which would have made me giggle on and off for at least three days. But I suspect that refilling Baloney every 45 minutes would have shortened the duration of his charm, and winter is LONG here in Cambridge. So we went with the more expensive model--it has no name, and no nose; it's altogether devoid of comedic value. Today, instead of giggling, I'm breathing deeply of our newly moistened air, seeing dollar signs of how much we paid per breath...

I still might name the thing Baloney. That's the first non-expletive that comes to mind when I consider the new cost of steam.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

How not to be annoying

Gretchen Rubin, my favorite happiness expert, has a post on her blog called, "7 Tips to Avoid Annoying Other People." It's priceless, in no small part due to Gretchen's acute recognition that it's tough to be truly happy if everyone who meets you feels the immediate urge to roll their eyes and complain. But the best, best, bestest line in the post--the one that makes me want to claim Gretchen as my new BFF--is this self-aware statement: "As a person who scores low on Agreeableness, I'm not naturally very considerate."

How can you not love someone this forthcoming? I'm afraid to take the test, but I suspect I'm a low-agreeableness girl myself. Gretchen gives me hope.

So lets dish: what's the thing you find annoying...about yourself?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The secret life of girls

I just read this provocative article by social commentator/controversial boat-rocker Caitlin Flanagan. It made me fall in love with being a girl all over again. I haven't read the Twilight series yet, and probably won't get to it for awhile (I'm still recovering from last weekend's Lord of the Rings marathon, and I just spilled oatmeal on my computer. It hardened like a rock and will likely take me the rest of the day to clean off...) But this article makes me see why my friend, Up With People Girl loved these stories. It's not so much that we're curious about vampires; it's that we're curious about love.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I might be Enchanted, but I don't want that ring

We watched the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy this weekend. It was both spectacular and completely exhausting. (I'll go out on a limb and say that Peter Jackson could have used some editorial assistance on the third installment: four and a half hours is too long for ANY movie...especially when every emotional moment is dragged out in slow motion.)

That said though, the message of the story--the hundreds of little battles between good and evil each of us face as we try to get to our version of "Happiness in The Shire"? Amazing.

As I searched for a picture to illustrate this post, I was surprised to see websites like this one, where you can order a LOTR ring of your very own. Have these people seen the movie??? The whole point is that the ring will destroy you. Why would anyone order their own destruction over the internet?

(Actually, never mind...That's a much bigger question than I'm ready to wrestle with today...)

On a lighter note, on Saturday night, Steve went to the Bruins/Redwings game and I stayed home and broke up all the Hobbit watching with a girly diversion: the movie Enchanted. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Isn't it interesting how the prince isn't always who we think he'll be???

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!

If you could have any superhero power in the world, what would it be?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Agree or disagree?

'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You know you're distracted when...

Last night I came into the living room where Steve was watching NFL football.
"What inning are then in?" I asked.
He stared at me like I'd lost my mind.

And I kinda have.

I'm in writing mode. Ninety percent of this "mode" takes place far away from my keyboard, as my brain churns through the various conversations, articles, movies, songs, and journal entries I've accumulated over the course of my life, fitting various pieces together into possible new combinations. Some are worth writing down, others not so much. But you never know when the next cool idea might pop up, so I let my brain do it's thing and try to stay out of complicated situations. On the inside, I'm like a computer (They say we only use 10% of our brain capacity, but this week I really think I'm up near 13 or 14%....) but on the outside? I'm a disaster.

As if to prove this point, I just went to the grocery store, and almost loaded my stuff into someone else's car. Here's what happened: I came out with my items, rolled the cart up to our RAV-4 (we call him "The Ravioli" to make him feel special, but really he's just like every third car in Cambridge), hit the unlock button, and opened the back gate. "Why is there a pillow in the car?" I wondered. It looked like the pillow back at home on my bed, the one THAT DOG was sleeping on when I went out. Then I saw something hanging from the mirror. It was gold-toned and flashy and most definitely not mine. "Omigosh!" I said out loud. "this isn't my car!!!"

I was mortified. I don't know why--it wasn't as if I was going to steal the pillow or the shiny gold ornament. I looked down the aisle of vehicles and saw MY ravioli, two spots down. I hustled my bustle, tossed my goods in the back, and took off, happy no one caught me. Sigh.

All I can say is, Lock your cars people...I'll be like this until February.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I don't get it...

This weekend was filled with things that baffled me.

I don't understand Budweiser's new ad campaign, which extoles their product's "Drinkability." Um, isn't that pretty much the bottom rung on the beer ladder? The last step for a beverage before "that stuff's undrinkable?" Even back when I was sneaking beers in high school, there were certain brews that were too gross for us (which was why my father was a GENIUS for stocking only Natural Light in our house--he never lost a single can...) I think most people are hoping for more than this lowest-denominator experience when they plunk down their hard-earned cash for a six-pack. (And before you declare me a beer snob, I'm a longtime fan of Miller Lite. "Great Taste! Less Filling!" Now there's a promotional campaign!)

I also don't understand the latest installment of Indiana Jones, which we rented this weekend. The ending includes A SPACESHIP??? I can't bring myself to believe Spielberg and Lucas signed off on this. Or Harrison Ford, for that matter. It's just too painful a lapse in creativity, and I'm waiting for someone to tell me the entire film is a rogue CGI creation by a couple of kids who got kicked out of MIT.

And finally, I don't understand my refridgerator. Specifically, the "Humidity Controlled Crisper." What is that about? We don't have a particularly fancy fridge--it came with the condo, and is basically the most generic GE you can buy, wrapped in stainless to make it look upscale. But it caters to the humidity preferences of vegetables, which strikes me as an odd way to instill glamour in an appliance. The previous owners apparently understood the value of this, as they scotch-taped the lever in place, guaranteeing their leaks and onions a permenant humidity level of six. (Whereas I've found that if I leave anything in those drawers for long enough to notice the humidity, they've outlived their usefullness as a food product...which is what led us to be cleaning out the fridge in the first place.)

Drinkability. Space ship endings. Humidity Controlled Crispers. Do you understand these things?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How do you rise above?

I'm listening to the first of a series of talks by our friend Bob Wilson, called "Living Above The Daily Grind." It has me thinking about all the things--from small frustrations (THAT DOG going outside seven times before she did what she was out there to do this morning), to real concerns (the bizarre refusal of my back to straighten out since late yesterday morning, leaving me lurching about like a 90 year old woman)--that wear down my enthusiasm about how cool life really is.

In the talk, Bob asks the question we're so tempted to wonder: "Is this really the best God can do?"
This has been a central question of my life since I was a little kid.

We all have coping techniques, some more helpful than others. What are yours? How do you live above the daily grind? And if you believe God can do better, how do you tap into that?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

All God's Creatures

Steve and I went up to Maine this weekend to babysit for the nephew and niece. They were loving, fun, adorable, and it was (with the slight exception of two hours spent watching the dumbest kids' show Nickelodeon has ever come up with) a delightful experience.

Until the incident with the cat, that is, who will hereinafter only be refered to only as IT.

I think I've mentioned this creature before--IT was a stray that wandered into my sister's yard, and into the niece's heart. They love IT. I hadn't spent much time around IT, but my main goal was convince THAT DOG that IT wasn't a treat to be chased, subdued, and eaten in hearty chunks. Once that was established, it seemed we were all going to get along just fine.

Fast forward to 3:00am. Or 4:00. Or 5:00. Any of these early morning hours will do, because the same fantabulous game of feline fun was going on: IT would swat at, pick at, or crawl right up on THEIR DOG (a 100+lb. black lab who doesn't move about all that quietly when disturbed). He would move. She'd follow. There was growling and purring, swatting and huffing. Finally, at 5:00am, THEIR DOG was so riled up that he needed a moment outside, to relieve and collect himself. So I trudged downstairs to let him out. I opened the door and reached for his collar, only to see THAT $%##@ CAT streak right out past me into the soggy wet night. I was shocked, and furious. And baffled. How do you corral a cat???

So there I was in the yard, in my pajamas, desperately pelting Friskies at this doomed creature as it ran off into the rainy night. There's a chance I muttered some explitives. What am I going to do? I wondered. Where can I get an emergency backup cat before the kids wake up???

I went inside and prayed: "God, please bring IT back. Or at the very least, if the dumb creature gets eaten by some scary thing lurking out there in the woods, please don't let there be cat parts all over the yard, because I won't know how to explain that. Thanks. Amen."

IT returned just before lunch, to much rejoicing by the children. I went over to THAT DOG and said, "Next time we're here, have at IT..."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hope Floats

I've hemmed and hawed about whether to post my reaction to our new President here on the blog. On the one hand, it feels so intrinsically part of who I am that it almost seems dishonest not to mention it. On the other, you don't come here for political opinions. I know this. And I've seen the laments of fellow authors who watched their readership plunge after taking too big a political stand on a platform given them to discuss some other subject.

And yet I feel like I have to talk about it: about how awed I am by Obama's intelligence...and his humility. I can't remember the last time we had anyone with this powerful combination in the White House. It excites me. It gives me hope. As I watch the response around the country and around the world, tears fill my eyes, and the refrain "We got it right..." repeats over and over in my head. This wasn't a normal election, and it wasn't, I suspect, about any of the things we thought it was. On the whole, I think we got it right.

Now, to REALLY blow my commitment to keeping things light and easy on this blog, I'm going to bring the Bible into the conversation! Why? Because it has two great suggestions for all of us, whether we feel like we won or lost in this election:

1. Fret not, it leads only to evil. Don't curse our country and lament about how we're all going to hell in a handbasket. Even if your greatest dream is that the Obama Presidency last only one term, it's okay to believe it might be a good term, for us and for our country.

2. Pray for him. He'll need it.

Thanks for humoring me.

I promise, I'll be back soon to tell you about how THAT DOG's new favorite game is to hide one of her toys somewhere and then bark at me incessently until I hunt it down. Almost like reverse fetch...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

November 4th. Finally.

I just voted. It was a little anti-climatic, to be honest. After two years of watching, waiting, and wondering (I try to keep hoping to a minimum in the political arena, as it seems better invested elsewhere), not to mention Palin Bingo, it feels a tad surreal to know that when I get back from SEEK class tonight, the election will finally be over. Finally! It just doesn't seem possible that the five minutes I spent today, filling out little circles with black pen in our elementary school gymnasium, is the culmination of this long, fraught campaign season. And yet it feels so good to know that it's almost over!

Truth be told, I was due for a calm day, as I was up late last night, tearing through the pages of Jane Eyre. Have you read this book? You must. It was the only classic I enjoyed in college, and now I remember why.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Small pleasures

I'm deep in the writing zone right now, and blogworthy material is tough to come by. How much can I share about rushing THAT DOG out to the back yard when she needs to be emptied, as I frantically try to keep hold of the thread of whatever subject I was wrestling onto the page? (Honestly, sometimes I'm tempted to squeeze her to speed things up a tad...I don't, but I'm tempted...)

Anyway, here are three things that have made me exceptionally happy over the past couple of weeks:

First, Allison Winn Scotch's novel, Time of My Life. I'd heard the buzz about Allison's new book, and was excited--in a guarded kind of way--to read it. There's such danger with highly touted books, the ever present question, "what if I'm the only one who doesn't get why it's such a big deal?" So I flipped the early pages with my guard up, almost like I was on a first date and afraid to get my hopes up. A few chapters in, though, my careful facade was tossed aside, and I was totally engaged in both the story (a fascinating concept: what if we got to redo our one "lost love"?) and Allison's handling of it, which was both bold and steady. This book is the real deal. I love how she started it...and I adore how she ended it. Brilliant. I see an "I was a guest on Oprah" mug in Allison's future :)

Second (and decidedly less glamorous) this soap. This is the best smelling soap ever. It has me looking for excuses to wash my hands.

And finally, Cashmink scarves. I love winter scarves, and these are amazing. I can't find the patterns I purchased anywhere online to show you, but I can tell you this: $16.99. That's a price that makes me happy, even more so because they're soft and warm and wonderful.

There you have it...the full spectrum of Trish's autumn happiness. Remind me in the spring to thank Allison, Softsoap, and V. Fraas for contributing to my success :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is there a verb "to turtle"? Turtling???

I'm retreating this week, like the turtle. Inside my shell I'll be writing, reading, thinking deep thoughts...and working on my gymnastics moves :)

See you next week!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blast from my gymnastics past

This week brought a flurry of activity over at Facebook, where--out of the blue--I've found or been found by a bunch of friends I grew up with. Kennebunk High School was a pretty small place when we were there, so everyone knew everyone. Now, as we reconnect, amazing to see how all our lives have turned out. The most astonishing thing, though, is how many people look the same! It's like we're all still 18, only now we have better haircuts.

The zenith of this reunion frenzy, for me at least, is this horrifyingly fabulous picture! This is me at gymnastics practice, in a photo resurrected by a teammate. Oh, the embarrassment! I was a pitiful gymnast: afraid of heights, so nearsighted I couldn't see the vault until I'd almost run into it...you get the idea. I can't imagine why I needed the ankle wrap, because this was my ONE move on beam; the most strenuous thing I ever did to my foot during those years was to point it. We had some amazing people on that team, though, with serious skills--we were Maine State Champions, two years in a row. And I got to be part of it all based on...who knows...enthusiasm, maybe? It's amazing how far that can take you :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Time to call in the big Gunn

I've been out searching for sweaters to fend off the coming cold. It's not going well. Mind if I vent?

First, WHAT is the deal with the proliferation of short sleeved items in the knitwear section of Ann Taylor? Store/Loft/Outlet--I've tried them all. Not a full sleeve anywhere. Have their designers ever been north of the Mason-Dixon line? Do they understand WHY we expand our wardrobe come autumn to include wool? To leave the sleeves off of a sweater is, in my humble (and shivering) opinion, to seriously miss the point.

And it's not just Ann Taylor. I've tried Macy's, Express, every store in the TJMaxx/Marshall's chain...Nothing. In desperation, I dove into the "these sweaters don't fit/look terrible/were ruined in the moth invasion of 2007" bag I found in the back of my closet. I pulled out several of the items, convinced myself that anything that warm (and full sleeved!) couldn't possibly look that bad, and put them back in my closet. Then Tim Gunn came along and ruined my celebration.

Have you seen the new season? So good! I love him. Even though he told a girl with similar proportions to mine--wearing a sweater almost exactly like one I'd just pulled from the discard bag to put back in the rotation--that she looked like a giant cableknit cube. Sigh. And her sweater didn't even have moth holes...

Today, those holey, ugly, pilled disasters went back in the trash. If you don't hear from me, it's because I'm huddled under a blanket, trying to keep warm. Hard to type from there...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just like Laura Ingalls Wilder

I just fixed the hole in my favorite sweater. Without scotch tape, staples, or safety pins. A domestic victory!

(The next installation of my 9-part life story will be called "Little Condo in the Big City")

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Food, folks, fun, fall

Oh, where to begin?

We had an amazing weekend, and my love of all things autumnal (including the word autumnal) was more than confirmed.

First, I drove to Maine to deposit THAT DOG for a visit with the niece, the nephew...and their new cat. This was THAT DOG'S first experience with a non-canine creature that's supposed to be indoors, and suffice to say she didn't warm to the concept. Upon seeing said creature, she responded in what was (in her eyes at least) the only appropriate fashion, howling in stunned alarm and chasing the cat up the stairs, down the hall, and cornering her under the bed. It was not one of those cuddly family moments you hope for, but at least no one got eaten. Sometimes you have to be grateful for small things.

After dropping THAT DOG off for her feline acclimatization, Steve and I drove to Ithaca, NY for the weekend, to spend some quality time with friends I met at the beginning of the book tour. Our running joke all weekend was that Ithaca is JUST like Cambridge...only without the stress, the crazy drivers, or the parking tickets.

If I had to sum up my weekend in three bits of life wisdom, here's what comes to mind:

1. When touring wine country (who knew Ithaca had wine country?) avoid the places with the giant Hummer Limos in the parking lot, especially if you see dozens of 20 somethings pouring out, shouting, "Bring on the VINO!" There are other, lovelier vineyards to explore.

2. It doesn't mention this on the label, but Tylenol is super-helpful when you're at a dinner party and your friends make you laugh so hard, for so long, that your face aches.

3. Don't eat at the Ponderosa off the side of the highway. Never, ever, ever. (But if you do, there's a Wal-Mart 35 miles east that carries a full selection of Tums).

But that all pales in comparison to what Steve and I really learned, which was that long drives are worth it when you get to spend time with great people and expand the scope of your world. (Of course, I'm not sure THAT DOG would agree, given that her world expanded to include an indoor cat...but I took her for a run on the beach on the way home yesterday, and I think that was her version of Tums, making everything better!)

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Golden Retriever at the Aquarium...and hurds of turdles

My sister and niece came to visit this weekend. My niece is five, and very sparkly. She's a girl who loves adventure. She's also a girl who knows what she wants. We went to the Boston Aquarium, where after 30 minutes of fighting her little way through the crowds to see Myrtle the Turtle and Sebastian the Shark, she looked up at us and said, "Can we go home and put on jammies now?" It was 3:30.

What's even funnier is that when asked which creature she liked the best at the Aquarium, she raved about Clancy... the Golden Retriever we met out on the sidewalk as we made our way home.

In grown up highlights, we found a FABULOUS new game called Bananagrams. We didn't find it, actually--it was a gift from our favorite Midwesterners who were in town on Friday. It's amazingly fun, but also (for me at least) mortifying. While playing with Steve and my sister, I had these brilliant moments:

"I could add LE to TURD and make...TURDLE!"

Then later:

"I can win this game! I've got all the letters I need to spell HURDS!"

Yep. Hurds of Turdles.

My sister's response? "Wow--your editor has her work cut out for her..."

Thursday, October 02, 2008


No matter what your voting plans are for this November, this will keep you entertained tonight.

And for those of you who'd like to compete against your spouse/significant other/roommate, here's a link to a card for the other side (Biden doesn't have his own card yet, but tonight could change all that...)

Let's get those bingo skills in shape for our golden years :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008: Year of the Frog

Does this mean 2009 will be the year of the Prince?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Blog from the fog

I'm having one of those "too foggy to blog" days, so I thought I'd just post a basic update, and invite you to do the same. Here are two tidbits about life in Trishville:

I spoke at a meeting of Moms today. It was amazing, and fun, and totally daunting. I mean...I'm not yet a Mom, and I don't play one on TV. I'm an AUNT, which means I know all about creating fun and havoc, then handing children back to the people who made them when diapers need to be changed, but not so much about actual parenting. The good news, though: I made it through the whole session without suggesting: "If crate training works for dogs, should we consider it for children???" I think the Moms appreciated this.

Saturday, we bought a new bed. To replace the trillion-dollar catastrophe we purchased right after our wedding. We've long thought the older one must be defective, given that it has giant craters on either side where we sleep, and a huge lump in the middle. (When THAT DOG jumps up on the bed to hang out with us, she looks like the Queen of Sheba, surveying us from on high...) But when we mentioned this to the not-at-all-helpful guy at the furniture-store-we-don't-ever-want-to-revisit, he said, "Oh! That's burrowing. People LOVE to burrow when they sleep!" I was like, "I'm not a ferret...I don't burrow."

New bed comes Friday. There will be rejoicing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I ordered 20 copies of my book from Amazon yesterday, for an event I'll be speaking at next week. As promised, they shipped them immediately...

One by one.

How is this possible?

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm less of a loser if I help you win big!

So I had planned to blog about how I almost came to blows with the salesman at the mattress store yesterday after he said he wouldn't sell us a mattress without a box spring. (We already have a box spring; a new one can't possibly bring me $600 worth of enjoyment, no matter what he suggests to the contrary while standing on various box springs around the store trying to make some sort of convoluted point...)

But then I saw this post on Allison Winn Scotch's blog and thought, This is far more interesting then my mattress woes...why not love my blog readers enough to send them there?

So there you have it! Head over, enter to win a copy of Allison's new book, Time of My Life, and tell us: what is your "What if?" life moment?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Three hours? No problem!

I had the fun--and slightly terrifying--opportunity to teach a writing class at Grub Street last night. Grub Street is THE writing organization here in Greater Boston, offering classes, writing groups, conferences, galas--it's an amazing organization. So when they asked me to expand the short talk I gave at the Muse and the Marketplace conference in the Spring on Memoir: Behind the Scenes into a three-hour class, of course I said yes.

And then yesterday afternoon around 4pm, I thought, Oh--what have I done?

Three hours is rather a long time. I tried to remember the last time I sat through a three hour class--if ever? All I came up with was the soul-sucking tedium of Bar Review, in that long summer of my life between law school and taking the bar exam, where android lawyers from distant cities lectured us via video hookup on the never-ending intricacies of Civil Procedure. I remember sitting there in that classroom, staring at the video monitor, thinking "I hate you. I simply hate you..." Good times.

Here's what I forgot, though, and was reminded of the minute last night's class began: I hated being a lawyer, even before I was one. But I love being a writer. I think that makes a difference. The class was filled with fun, interesting people. They inspired me, reminding me what a cool thing it is to write, to wrestle our personal experiences into stories that might entertain or inspire others. It was a great experience--almost enough to push that whole "studying for the bar" debacle out of my mind :)

And I had a secret going into the class which gave me an extra shot of courage: our awesome blog friend Stacy (you probably know her as the girl with the minions) sent me a gorgeous necklace the other day. It was a thank-you for an interview we did together for her awesome online magazine, Halfway Down The Stairs. I was surprised, and touched beyond belief. I wore the necklace last night, as a little reminder that this writing life is filled with unexpected benefits (I'm even hokey enough to call them blessings). It connects us to cool people we wouldn't meet any other way. And last night's class continued to prove this true.

If you're a blogger, you're a writer, and therefore part of this. So let me say now: Thank you :)

Pretty cool, huh?

Here's a link to my interview with Stacy. (That it's in the magazine's "Bon Appetit!" edition strikes me as rather ironic, given my culinary ineptitude, but maybe it's a sign of things to come???)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wanted: Sheep, Numbered 1-1,000

What do you do when you're plenty tired, but your brain is so full you can't sleep?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reading and Writing (Absolutely no Arithmetic)

I read two great books this weekend. (It was raining, and I'm not much for college football.) First, Don't You Forget About Me, a first novel by Jancee Dunn. If any part of your adolescence coincided with the bizarre decade that was the 1980s, you will love this book. My favorite thing about Jancee's writing is that she doesn't just talk about all the funny fashion and music choices we made back then, she captures the feelings in a way that is spot-on. Reading this story was like being transported back to my own high school experience, and then snapping back to the present quickly enough to appreciate that while that was a wild ride, it's not something I'd ever want to go through again!

The second was the final Harry Potter book. This series might be the best take on the supernatural battle between good and evil I've seen in recent fiction, and book #7 is the most intense. I won't give anything away, except to say this: It's possible (even preferable) to get through the entire book without giving a whit about Dumbledore's romantic preferences.

I've been thinking a lot about writing lately, specifically the question of what keeps us motivated. I look at authors with two, three (seven, twelve...) books on the shelf and wonder, what does it take to sustain that kind of inspiration/persperation over the long haul? So I emailed some of them, and I'll be sharing their thoughts here this week.

But I'd love your thoughts, too, because we're all so different.
So if you're inclined, tell me:
What was something you did recently that was really hard that you didn't HAVE to do?
What kept you going?
Was it worth it?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thanks, but no

Has anyone else seen the new body lotion commercial with the tag line, "Shouldn't YOUR skin be soft like yogurt?" Or did I fall asleep on the couch and dream it?

I hope it's the latter. Because really, it's hard for me to imagine what kind of exhausted minds would base a marketing campaign for skin care around a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation? Not to mention that, when I dream of what my skin will feel like at it's optimal best, goopy and runny are not the words that come to mind...

Is it just me?

(Thanks to the fine folks at Wikipedia for helping me get my yogurt facts straight, and providing the lovely picture.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Big Plans...

We were up laaaaate last night, watching the Red Sox. I won't talk about how the game turned out, because it's too grim to recount. Instead, this will be a rose-colored glasses/lemon from my lemonade kinda post about the rest of the night, where my friend Francesca and I cooked up big plans to save (a teeny, tiny portion of) the world.

It started at 9:49am with an email that said, "Rob and I have extra Red Sox tickets, wanna come to the game tonight?" (For those of you who live outside New England, this is the rough equivalent to asking, "I just found all this extra cash we can't use, wanna go shopping at Mercedes?")

Naturally, I said yes. I had a secret motive, you see.

In this picture, we look all happy and innocent, just two girls enjoying America's favorite pastime with our husbands (wait, that sounds entirely different than what I meant...and REALLY different that what's in the picture...) But the t-shirts and cheering were just a cover for our REAL mission: We're planning to stage a coup (and I'm not too proud to admit that if I hadn't found that word in my Webster's Misspeller's Dictionary, I would have anounced we were staging a coo...taking on the powers that be by attacking them with soft, soothing noises...)

We're not plotting to take over the whole world...just a very small corner of it. Specifically, the corner occupied by members of our college class. You see, the most recent edition of our college alumni magazine just came out. It offers page after page of facinating descriptions of the things members of other classes are doing: feeding the poor, solving illiteracy, discovering a cure for the common cold.... And then there's the news of our class: No one sent anything in, so the poor girl saddled with our class notes had to tell us about how her recently adopted cat got spayed.

The biggest accomplishment of our class is that one of our members is a responsible pet owner???

Pitiful. So much so Fresca and I have decided to TAKE ACTION. Members of our college class: Be ready! (Because seriously, unless you spay your cat yourself, you shouldn't have to put the news in the Quarterly.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Write Now

I'm thinking about writing for a class I'll be teaching next week.

Do you like writing? I mean writing in the general, everyday sense, rather than WRITING (which is what we do when we think people--rather than friends or loved ones--will be reviewing our efforts).

Tell me: What's something you've written in the past day or so: a grocery list, labels for file folders, descriptions for the pics in your online photo album???

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

This is your brain...described in food

I just read this great post on The Dude Abides. I liked it so much that I even copied Cathleen's illustration, because it's simply too awesome not to have on my blog. (I'm justifying this thievery with the axiom imitation = flattery.) The post describes Cathleen's experience with how our our brains--specifically the differences between the left and right sides--can affect our experience of the world around us. Interesting stuff.

And if you're squeamish (like me), kinda gross.

Here's why: The post includes a video of a winsome neurologist/stroke survivor...holding a human brain. Suffice to say that I may never again able to chop up a head of cauliflower...

(It could be worse, though: I just read an essay by a father who complains that since seeing one of those "This is Your Brain On Drugs" commercials when she was six, his youngest daughter still won't eat eggs.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Follow the leader

I have to admit, it's taking everything I have not to blog about the twists, turns, and dramatic revelations of our ongoing Presidential election. The past month has been like a reality TV show, where each new episode features a character doing something that astonishes and/or horrifies me. But because so many awesome writers are already filling pages with articles, op-ed pieces, and blogs about the bizarre state of our Union, I'll back away from the keyboard...

Except to ask this (because I'm curious how other people sort out all the information coming at us): Do you think it's fair to write someone off because you just don't like them as a person? Or because what you see in their personal lives (rather than their political record) indicates that their priorities are vastly different from yours, and that they seem to lack the character you'd want to be led by?

Here's why I'm asking: I've had some interesting experiences with following different types of leaders (if you've read my book, you know about one bestselling New age author in particular, not to mention a disaster of a first husband) whose personal lives turned out to different than what you'd expect based on their shiny public appearance. Ever since then, I've looked at potential leaders with two very specific questions:

1. Do I want to go where they're going?
2. Do I want to end up where they are?

And when I ask this, it's not based entirely on their position regarding potential amendments to the Constitution, or which decisions are best left to local government, but also their personal life: the interrelationships between the people and situations and circumstances closest to them.

Does this play a role for you as you're picking leaders to follow?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Secret swimmer man

I drove up to Maine today to take my Mom out for a birthday breakfast and my sister out for a "Your cold isn't that bad, is it?" lunch. Fun stuff.

On my way home, I grabbed a cup of coffee and went to the beach to ponder deep things about the meaning of life, etc. That's when I saw this guy down in the water:

I don't know if you can see from this distance (I was trying to be stealth like Swishy with my camera) but he had on swim trunks, goggles, and...a scuba hood?!? He kept staring up at the beach, then diving into the waves over and over again. Clearly, it was a happy moment for him. I felt kind of bad watching, but he was RIGHT in front of where I was sitting; there was only so much staring out over the horizon I could do.

If you have any idea what this might mean about the meaning of life, let me know, cause I'm stumped...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Beleaguered Chef

I'm cooking. A casserole. It calls for a cup of Miracle Whip (don't judge!)
The fancy measuring gadget someone gave us as a gift is reversible--one end measures liquid, the other solid.

Is Miracle Whip a liquid or a solid?
Does it matter?
It doesn't look like it matters.

(This is why I'm not a foodie. I can't handle the technicalities of a 1970s casserole...)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Tennis anyone?

I love the U.S. Open.
I love that I used to think John McEnroe was a complete idiot, and now he's one of the best commentators in television.
I love that you can be ranked 132 in the world, have the match of your life, and send the top seed home early.
I love that rowdy fans cheer for their favorite players, creating fan clubs like "The J Block" and "The Fish Tank."
I love Payton and Eli Manning threatening to take out the Williams sisters in that Oreo Cookie commercial.
Really, I love it all.

I went to the U.S. Open once, back when I was a lawyer. Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi, and I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brooke Shields, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Billy Joel in the stands. I felt pretty fancy. I took approximately 1,000 pictures, wanting to remember everything forever. Unfortunately, the film development place did something funky, and superimposed my Christmas pictures from earlier on the roll over the top of my U.S. Open pictures. Which means I now have dozens of shots that look like my 1-year old nephew opening gifts in the middle of Louis Armstrong Stadium....


I dream of being organized enough to go back. It's not difficult, or even all that expensive in the early rounds. But it requires more thinking in advance than I've been able to pull off so far. I think the problem is that the U.S. Open is my gateway into this new season: until I see it on TV, I'm in complete denial that summer is ending. These two weeks of tennis ease my transition, so that by the time the champions are declared next weekend, I'll be ready to move on to the first great activity of autumn: back to school shopping :)

My picks this year? Andy Roddick and Venus Williams.
(If my record with the Olympics offers any indication of my predictive abilities, they'll both be out by the end of the next round...)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Boston Globe Interview

I'm in the Boston Globe today!

It's always interesting to see what comes out of an hour-long conversation/interview. As you'll see, I was rather caught up in the world of Sex And The City: The Movie when Rich Barlow and I spoke...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stuff & Things

1. We have winners of yesterday's Froggy Goodness Giveaway: Aimee! Liza! Melanie!
...Email me at trishryan AT gmail DOT com and let me know where to send your prizes :)

2. We have the link to a fun interview I did with Carrie at Words to Mouth. It includes some embarrassing revelations about how my writing career began back in high school, when I realized I'd need A's in English to balance out my C's and D's in math...

3. We have one of the funniest posts ever from Manic Mom, about her husband's creative attempts at garbage disposal. Priceless.

4. And finally, we have a picture of THAT DOG's attempt at performance art. Can you believe how proud she looks? Unbelievable. She hasn't done anything quite like this since she was a puppy.

I'm not sure what the vet did when he removed those two weird growths from her head a few weeks back, but I think I might want them reattached...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

7/7: Winners! We Have Winners!

I was up late into the night, reading your funny comments and feeling great about this wild crazy blog world we inhabit. Thank you for playing along with me...this has been a fun seven days :)

And now, without further ado, the winners!

Congratulations, Grits!

Congratulations Kristen Dedeyn Kirk!

Congratulations Susie!

Congratulations Liz!

Congratulations Joy!

Congratulations Nicole!

(this is Allison Winn Scotch's second novel, TIME OF MY LIFE , our mystery pick)

Congratulations Ruby (Mouth)!

If you see your name on this list, please send me your mailing address: trishryanonline AT gmail DOT com.

After I'd picked all the winners, I felt this Rosie O'Donnell-esque urge to give more (Rosie and I don't have all that much in common, but our love of giving away free stuff bonds us like sisters). I dreamed (dreamt?) up three fun, froggy care packages, each of which will contain a copy of HE LOVES ME HE LOVES ME NOT, a decorative lip glossed mug, and this very funny "Grow a Prince" kit, where you drop a frog in water and watch what happens (I'll admit that I've not tried this, so I make no promises about the outcome...)

If you didn't win but still want to, drop me a comment...tell me about your favorite lip gloss or lipstick (or if you're a Chapstick girl...that's okay too) I'll pick three tomorrow :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

7/7 Day Seven: Dave Schmelzer's NOT THE RELIGIOUS TYPE

I saved a fun book for last in our Seven Books in Seven Days giveaway. It's by a genuine friend of mine (as opposed to an author I stalked and/or offered my teeth to meet), and it's the very first book I ever "blurbed" as an author myself, which was (as you can probably imagine) both terrifying and thrilling.

If you've read my memoir, you'll remember Dave. He's the exceedingly tall pastor who took the stage the day I wandered into his church. I sat towards the back, scanning the room for cute guys, ready to bolt the minute anyone said anything judgmental or horrifying. But instead, Dave suggested an oddly hopeful approach to God and faith and life, as if he honestly believed we're created to experience things beyond what we might even think to ask for. For obvious reasons, I was captivated. If you've ever read Anne Lamott and wondered where one might find the open-armed, low-pressure/low-rhetoric, Jesus-ey brand of spirituality she describes, NOT THE RELIGIOUS TYPE is a great place to start.

What I love about this book is that Dave does a great job of combining his unique story with wise and thoughtful musings on various topics. I think he's the only pastor out there celebrating the vital contribution of the New Atheists to American society, or admitting in a chapter title that he wants lots and lots of sex. As the jacket copy says, "Dave suggests a new, unexpected way of seeing the world and our place in it." I've know Dave and his wife long enough to know that this isn't just some show he's putting on--it's the real deal. If you're a spiritual seeker, this will be a fun addition to your collection.

(Plus, my blurb on the back will make it worth millions someday!)

If you'd like to win, leave a comment....tell us something you love and appreciate about one of your friends.

Happy Monday :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

7/7 Day Six: What's Life Without Surprises?

Today's book giveaway is a mystery (even though it's not). I'm keeping it a secret (but I promise it's not The Secret).

Here's what I can tell you: it's a second novel from a spectacular writer. It's a fictional account of some very cool things happening to a protagonist I think most of us will identify with in one way or another. The advanced copies received rave reviews, and there's a good chance we'll even see this story on the big screen.

The book won't be available in stores for months, but thanks to the general coolness of this fabulous author, you, my awesome blog readers, have a chance to win a copy NOW, which we'll send to you as soon as s/he gets author copies from the publisher.

Want to win? Leave a comment answering this question: Are you good at keeping secrets?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

7/7 Day Five: Joshua Henkin's MATRIMONY

This giveaway series is making it look like I stalk authors on a regular basis, but that's simply not true. There have been dozens of titles I've read this year that I loved in a polite, quiet way, turning the last page and then placing them back on my shelf without harassing the author at all.

But Joshua Henkin's MATRIMONY was not one of those books. I harassed Josh (note that I call him "Josh" now, instead of Joshua, totally inflating the level of our discourse, which basically consisted of me emailing him and saying, "I love, love, love, love, loved MATRIMONY...thank you for writing it!" and "Josh" emailing back to say, "I'm so glad you enjoyed it." Of course now, in my mind, we're best friends forever...even though I have no idea if anyone in his real life ever calls him Josh...) and am so glad I did. Because as he planned the launch for his paperback, he emailed me and asked, "Would you like a signed copy for one of your blog readers?" Which was where the whole idea of Seven Books in Seven Days began.

MATRIMONY is an awesome story about relationships and writing and characters in the midst of figuring out what life--individually, collectively--might be about. It also taught me the correct use of the semicolon, which is no small thing. You'll love it, even if you already have a firm grasp of basic punctuation.

If you'd like to win a copy, leave me a comment. Perhaps with an observation about...matrimony.

Here's to a wonderful Saturday :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

7/7 Day Four: Alison Pace's CITY DOG

Today's selection is brought to you by THAT DOG, who is looking at me right now as if to say, "You're a writer--Why haven't you written a book about ME?"

If anyone can inspire me to make THAT DOG's literary dreams come true, it's Alison Pace.

Alison is the queen of canine-lit. She built her career by deftly weaving adorable pups into compelling story lines, creating her own sub-genre and raising the bar for the rest of us. To put it bluntly, her books captivate me and make me happy. (While reading her last book, I told Steve one night, "I can't eat dinner until this dog gets adopted...the adoption has to go through, it just has to!!!") Her stories are funny and memorable, which is why when I learned that her latest, CITY DOG, will be out early next month, I sent her an email and asked, "Can we give away a copy now? Can we, can we please???"

(Note: if you're the winner of CITY DOG, and your copy arrives looking like someone might have read it already, you're wrong. I'd never do that. Really....)

Leave a comment if you'd like to win...tell us about your favorite pet, the one you have now, or even the one you'll have someday.

[ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: I'll be giving away books through the weekend, so tune in to check them out. All drawings are open until Tuesday, when I'll pick the winners for all seven. So if you're just discovering this, feel free to drop a comment in any/all of the posts.]

How happy are we that it's Friday??? I'm off to walk THAT DOG. She wants to discuss who will play her in the TV sitcom version of HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT, and whether she should retain her own agent...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

7/7 Day Three: Cathleen Falsani's SIN BOLDLY

Earlier this year, I stalked Cathleen Falsani at a writer's conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I'm not sure what came over me; maybe all the Midwestern niceness in the air convinced me that since everyone I'd spoken to had been so kind and wonderful, anyone I spoke to would have to be kind and wonderful. I guess I thought those were THE RULES.

Still, though...I made a bit of a fool of myself.

Cathleen's talk was scheduled for some unspeakably early hour, and yet the room was packed. I, along with millions of others, had been captivated by her first book (celebrities talking about their spiritual beliefs...what's not to love?) and was curious what lurked beneath the cover of her newest project, which wouldn't be out for several months. The title? SIN BOLDLY. For a girl like me, it was the literary equivalent of "You had me at hello..."

After her talk, I literally stormed the podium, my little frog-faced book cover postcard in hand. "Idlovetoblogaboutyourbookwhenitcomesout!!!" I gasped.

"Ooookay..." she said, warily (she was very nice, but decidedly wary...). "I'll do my best to get you an advanced copy..."

At that point, I may have hugged her. Or maybe not. It's all a blur.

Later, my publicist said, "Cathleen and I are friends--she's great! I'll introduce you." My inane response? "I'd give my eye-teeth to meet Cathleen Falsani!"

Since then, Cathleen and I have communicated by phone and by email. She wrote a wonderful column for the Chicago Sun-Times comparing parts of my book to the friendships between the girls in Sex And The City (reprinted here in the Huffington Post) and I wrote rave advance reviews of SIN BOLDLY. We've talked about dogs and cats and friends and husbands, and how the right lip gloss really can improve an otherwise crappy day. My publicist is right; she's fabulous. And chances are we'll meet in person (possibly soon). So I need to set the record straight:

Cathleen, I cannot exchange my eye teeth in order to meet you. Aside from all the obvious reasons, both functional and aesthetic, My parents spent thousands on orthodontia when I was young, and they just wouldn't understand.

Fortunately for me, Cathleen resides in the Midwest. I don't think prevailing niceness laws permit her to demand my teeth. (I guess there's also an outside chance she wouldn't want them...) Still, I hope she'll want to hang out :)

Anyway, SIN BOLDLY is great. It's finally out in the world, and Cathleen is sending me a signed copy to give to one of you. You'll love it. Leave a comment and you're in the running to win!

Happy Thursday. I hope the sun is shining where you are...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

7/7 Day Two: Heather King's REDEEMED

Heather King can write. Her style is raw and confessional, beautiful and poignant, absurd and funny...it's the real deal. Her memoir, REDEEMED is on my short list of go-to sources when I want to dive into the world of how writing should/could/would be done. She even does subtitles well. I mean, "A Spiritual Misfit Stumbles Toward God, Marginal Sanity, and the Peace that Passes All Understanding"? How could anyone not want to read that?

REDEEMED covers a wide swath of life: alcoholism, law school (she's perhaps the only person I know who went into law school a drinker, rather than picking up the habit as a survival tool sometime in the middle of her first year...kind of makes me wonder if I might have done better with a similar approach?), breast cancer, marriage struggles, her father's death...it' s a doozy of a book. And yet somehow, she manages to weave humor through these stories, and hope, and an overall sense of life that's hard for me to describe.

Perhaps the best compliment I can give Heather King is what happened when I gave REDEEMED as a gift to my friend Midwest Girl: the next time I saw her, she brought the book out to dinner with us and we spent the better part of the evening talking about King's words and stories and experiences, sometimes just saying to each other, "I can't believe how well she captured that...I thought only I felt that way..."

If I had the chance to sub-subtitle this book, I'd call it DRINK, PRAY, LIVE.

Heather is a fellow New Englander (which is not at all relevant to this blog post except that it means I'm a tiny bit like her and I'm dorky enough to think that might someday make a better writer...) She'll be sending me a signed copy of REDEEMED to share as part of our "Seven Books in Seven Days" adventure. Presuming I can overcome the urge to keep it for myself (and I won't lie; that's a fairly big presumption...) I will be passing it along to one of you next week when I draw the winners. So leave a comment!

Have a great day :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

7/7 Day One: Laura Dave's THE DIVORCE PARTY

There aren't many novels that prompt me to pull out a pen and underline. I write nonfiction, so novels are usually an escape for me, a way to be swept away in a story. Laura Dave's THE DIVORCE PARTY is the (wonderful) exception to this rule.

It's a story about relationships--one fresh and new, another falling apart, and then the interlinking familial bonds you can't just walk awayfrom, the ones you spend the better part of a lifetime working on and working out.

One of the pages I dog-eared: a mother thinking how she wishes she could go back in time and do things a bit differently. She longs to, "Make different choices, be braver, do just about anything so her daughter thinks she is worthy of getting everything that she needs as opposed to trying ot figure out how to be better at giving it away."

And this thought I loved so much, I used it in the first day of my Forty Days of Faith blog earlier this summer: "In the end, belief isn't supposed to make sense, at least not all of the time. In that, it finds its power. It gets to creep up on you and carry you forward."

So gorgeous. So true. So underlineable! (Is that even a word?)

Laura is not only brilliant, she's generous, too. She's sending me a signed copy of THE DIVORCE PARTY to share with one of you. If you'd like it, leave a comment. I'll include a pen when I mail it to you, because you just might need it :)

And if you'd like to see my thoughts on the romantic trials of Olympic swimmer Laure Manaudou, check out my inaugural post in the Love & Relationships section of Basil & Spice.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Seven Books in Seven Days

I'll be at a conference here in Cambridge this week, speaking about reading and writing. As I prepared, I thought about the books I've loved over the past year or so and what captivated me about them--some entertained me, some inspired me, one was just so beautifully written that I couldn't stop underlining passages. In the midst of this, I thought, Why not share the love? Why not do a big Trish's Dishes book giveaway?

This gave me a fun excuse to contact some of my favorite authors (each of whom I've accosted with fan-emails before, so they're familiar with my love of their work) and ask, "Would you be up for donating a signed copy of your book to give to my blog friends?" Of course, being gracious and wonderful, they all said yes.

So starting tomorrow, we'll be giving away Seven Books in Seven Days. That's a bit of a misnomer, actually, as I'll also be giving away copies of my book, along with some fun prizes and who knows what all else. Really, what could be better?

(And for those of you who are kind enough to wonder, THAT DOG is healing nicely.)

See you tomorrow!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Recovery Ward

I'm here in the bedroom with THAT DOG this morning. She and I are recuperating.

She's got the worst of it--yesterday morning she jumped into the car enthusiastically, expecting to go to the park or maybe even the beach. Instead she woke up seven hours later on the vet's recovery table with sutures in her ear and eye where weird growths had been removed, drugged in a way she hadn't experienced since we lived with the roommate who toked up every day after work (as I recall, THAT DOG had a particular fondness for him...)

She's still stoned this morning, looking up at me from time to time as if to say, "Dude! Wasssup???" In her natural state, THAT DOG rarely says "dude," but her recovery persona seems to skew towards Ashton Kutcher.

Me, I've got a run of the mill head cold that wiped my voice out minutes after the TV crew left our house on Tuesday. It was bizarre--I had functioning vocal chords, and then I didn't. Things are better today--just a little foggy--but not at all conducive to writing my first guest blog for the website Basil & Spice. So if you log on there next week and see a post about the spiritual connection one can find in a bottle of Tylenol Cold & Flu, please-- could you leave kind comments and email the head of the site to reassure her that I'm not usually like this?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ready for my close up

Yesterday was TV filming day at the Ryan house! It was unlike anything I've ever done before, and I'm not even sure I can describe it all...but I can try :)

When I first learned that CBN, a faith-based television channel from Virginia, wanted to send a crew to our condo to do a story on my book, I had two reactions: First, I called Steve at work and screamed, "WE NEED MULCH!!!" because the front of our house looked like an overgrown junkyard. Then I pulled out our new vacuum cleaner and vacuumed...the curtains (You know, because clean drapes are such an important part of quality television... )

In short, I didn't know what to think, or how to prepare, so I dove into minutia with wild abandon, and then asked friends and family to pray that I not make a complete fool of myself. We won't know until the piece airs, but I think their prayers were heard.

The three members of the crew--a producer and two videographers--were fun and full of creative ideas. They filmed me riding the subway, walking down the street in the rain, reading on my bed. But every shot was set up with so much thought about angle, lighting, background. It was very cool to watch, and kept me from freaking out (too much) about the fact that I was the one being filmed.

Some shots didn't work so well...they tried one of Steve and I "cooking" in the kitchen. I was supposed to chop lettuce while Steve chopped an onion, and we'd pretend to chat about our day. What neither of us realized until that moment was that we lack the ability to talk--even pretend talk--and chop at the same time. It was pitiful. Steve's onion looked like it had been massacred, while I looked like a first grader trying to cut that big head of lettuce. The crew was laughing so hard at that footage that I suspect we'll be featured in a bloopers segment at some point in the future. My dream of being the Next Food Network Star died, right there in our kitchen.

Overall though, it was an amazing day. I suspect I'm one of the few writers in the world who gets to chat with the books editor for Cosmo magazine one week and the 700 Club the next. It can feel a little precarious sometimes, bridging these different worlds. But it sure keeps life interesting, and it's a great reminder that in terms of our greatest hopes and dreams in life, we have more in common than we might realize just by looking at the surface. Good stuff :)