Wednesday, May 28, 2008

40 Days of Faith (and mixed metaphors)

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about raising my expectations: of life, work, romance...even God. I guess it's all these hours on trains and planes, which has given me WAY too much exposure to things that chip away at my hopes.

For example, the last magazine I read included several cheery articles reminding me of things I've neglected to worry about. Apparently, I'm way behind. It told me (in graphic detail) how I need to worry about catching something grotesque if THAT DOG licks my face...becoming something grotesque if I don't slather myself with SPF 4000 from February until late November...and making the whole world grotesque if I buy jeans that are anything less than 100% organic cotton. And if my 401k isn't fully funded? I should probably quit life now, because I'm taking up too much room on the planet.

By the end, I was pretty fed up. I mean, this is what I'm supposed to be focusing on to get from where I am to where I want to be? Really???

And don't even get me started about the relationship advice, which was varying takes on the same theme: "Marriage is disappointing; make sure you have good girlfriends to see you through..." ARGH.

Rather than simmering in my frustration, though, it made me want to push back, to swim against the tide of all this worry and doubt. And the basic rule of swimming is: Don't swim alone; use the buddy system. So I thought I'd invite you to swim with me.

In my book, I describe a time when the pastor of my church asked us all to ponder the question: "What do you want Jesus to do for you?" He based this on passages from the Bible that suggest that God enjoys interacting with us over specific prayers; that God is okay if we have specific desires for our lives, and maybe even put them inside us because he wants to help us get there. I was quite sure everyone else in our church was praying for world peace; I snuck off to a corner and asked Jesus to bring me a husband.

We spent the next 40 Days praying for our deepest desires, and the results were rather astounding. So I thought that doing something similar--asking God together for the deepest desires of our hearts, the pieces of life that we're missing--might be a fun way for us to swim against the tide of low expectations together. Or raise the bar. Or some combination of the two.

I've created a new blog: Starting on June 1st, I'll post there every day for 40 Days: thoughts about asking God for big things, words of encouragement, inspirational stories. And you can jump in as you want, commenting on your hopes and dreams; we can cheer each other on. Whether you're a person of high faith, low faith, or no faith at all, you may have noticed that it's easier to believe that something wonderful (like a husband, or a book deal, or a happier outlook on life) will happen for someone else rather than for you. I'm hoping we can capitalize on that, toss whatever faith we bring into one collective pool, and each end up someplace better than where we started.

So if you're game, come on by. I suspect it will be a fun place to hang out this summer!

Monday, May 26, 2008

A bad idea, no matter how you look at it...

We went out for dinner Friday night. A romantic "welcome home" dinner was what we had in mind. What we got instead was me running to the bathroom over and over again for the next five hours, while Steve quoted NBA star Charles Barkley's T-Mobile commercial: "That's why I DON'T eat shrimp!"


The worst part of this story, though, is that two nights later, when faced with dinnertime AGAIN and no food thawed, I actually said, "Hey--we still have some money left on that gift card--we could go back to _______! I mean, what are the odds of getting food poisoning twice?"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere...

Omigosh, I love New York! AMEX can schedule my commercial anytime, and I'll be ready for my close up. The reading with A.J. Jacobs last night was super-fun (although I can't believe how many pictures I forgot to take), and I'm excited to be hanging out with the book club from Redeemer Presbyterian Church tonight. In between, I'm guessing there might be shopping :)

Right now, I'm sitting in the lobby of the hotel (that's where they keep the free internet access), watching hoards of high school students on their way to visit the Statue of Liberty. Bless the parents brave enough to chaperone THAT trip...I can't even imagine! And someone's baby is VERY unhappy to be checking out.

Time for me to get some coffee :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I am here in gorgeous Grand Rapids, driving what may be the funniest rental car I've ever seen. Truly, this vehicle is an engineering looks like someone left a Tahoe and a VW Beetle unattended in the back lot, and this is their love child. In a way, though, it reminds me of THAT DOG (a cocker spaniel/afghan mix): not necessarily something God intended, but rather unique and charming once you get to know it :)

And, speaking of unique and charming, I've been thinking about my upcoming book events. Specifically, how to make them more interesting and interactive (Paige's recent blog post is to blame; she made me realize that EVERYONE has more fun when an author brings more to the table than just, "Hi. I wrote a book. Let me read to you for a few minutes...")

As I mentioned to Paige and the awesome folks I met that night in Philadelphia, I've been thinking lately (okay, mourning might be the better word) about how Barak Obama stole my favorite book title. The Audacity of Hope may be the single best title I've ever heard. I mean, can't you just SEE that emblazoned across the top of my lip glossed bullfrog??? It's the theme of my entire life. And--let's be honest--the life of every single interesting person I know.

After all, for any of us who dream that life could/should/would be about more than clocking hours in a cube--that we might secretly be a writer, or an entertainer, or even a super hero-- audacious hope is the name of the game. Because it take some audacity for any of us to believe that our lives could be more than the sum of the parts we see strewn about in front of us on any given day. And yet we have to believe, right?

So THIS is what I'll be talking about tonight in Grand Rapids at Schuler Books on Alpine (7:00pm). And tomorrow at Borders in New York City (also at 7:00pm) with A.J. Jacobs.

(A.J. doesn't know about this whole audacious hope thing yet; I should probably send him an email, right? But then again, WHO embodies the audacity of hope better than A.J. Jacobs???)

And as for my spiffy rental car? I'm christening it the AUDACITY MOBILE. Who knows? Maybe it will become THE car for superhero transport! There's certainly enough room in the back for the entire League of Justice...

Thanks, Paige, for inspiring me to raise my game ;)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The attempted weekend

We tried to go to the Red Sox game on Friday night, but it was pouring outside. Raining cats and dogs (and cows and sheep and even the occasional wombat) such that I officially ceased to care whether our boys in red beat the team from Texas. In lieu of the game, we went to a sports bar for dinner and sat by a table of TWELVE kids, all under age nine. They were pretty adorable, I must say...especially one little girl, who sat there staring at the flat screen TV, picking her nose, and eating it. I'm not sure why, but that absolutely cracked me up. Made me wonder what food group her nose nutrition falls into? (It's kind of like the portabello mushroom question, right?)

We also tried to buy a car. Really tried. But after a weekend spent shopping for hybrid cars, I now understand Goldilocks's dilemma. Everything we looked at was great, but yet not quite right: too big, too small, too expensive, to complicated. We had a brief moment of glee and excitement when we sat in the hybrid Camry, but then we popped the trunk--yikes! I have purses that hold more. Let's just say there's no chance of mobsters hiding bodies in the trunk of a hybrid Camry. (I bet Toyota could build a commercial around that...)

Right now, I'm trying to pack for this week's trip to Grand Rapids/New York City. There's an open (empty) suitcase near my bed, and clothes that should probably be in there sprawled from one end of our condo (where the washing machine lives) to the other (where I hung some things in the shower, hoping the wrinkles would magically disappear). Here's my big dilemma, though: what to READ on the plane. On two of recent trips, my luggage was at or over the weight limit, and hardcover books were a prime culprit (because really, how heavy can a pair of cute heels be?) So for this trip, I'm deciding between paperbacks: Anita Shreve's LIGHT ON SNOW, Jen Lancaster's SUCH A PRETTY FAT, and Chris Lowney's HEROIC LEADERSHIP.

Important decisions, no? I'm consoling myself with the fact that should I need more choices, chances are I'll be able to find a bookstore somewhere in my travels :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kermit was's not easy

We're looking at hybrid cars. I'd love to say it's because I'm a devout lover of the environment who longs to wrap my arms around our planet and give it a great big hug...but that would be a bit of a fib. We're looking at hybrids because our current car is a giant, gas-guzzling sedan and we're not sure how long we can keep him in the style to which he's become accustomed.

We bought Xavier George (Steve named him from model number, XG350) a few years ago. Admittedly, we weren't exactly savvy shoppers--my mom was in the hospital (she's fine now, I'm happy to say) and we weren't sure when I'd need to drive up to Maine on short notice, or what exactly I'd be driving to. The car we had was too unreliable for emergency times, so we headed out to find a new one.

We were both so distracted by everything going on with my family that we narrowed our "must have" list down to two things:
1. A trunk big enough to fit Steve's gigantic goalie pads for the days he plays hockey; and
2. A tan interior, so THAT DOG'S fur wouldn't show too badly during spring when she sheds.

Needless to say, we stumped the sales guys. I mean, who buys a car based on trunk size and matching the interior to their dog??? Still though, we could have done worse. Xavier George has been a fabulous auto, right up until the cost of filling his tank came to equal the cost of sending him to college.

So the hybrid search begins, and I have to ask: do any of you drive hybrids? Do you like them? I rode in a Prius cab from the airport the other day, and on Boston's crazy, beat up roads it felt a bit like riding a roller skate down an Olympic mogul course....

But I wonder, does it feel different when you're driving? Or would I be so distracted by all the money I was saving on gas that I'd ignore the increased chance of peril? Encourage me, oh wise blog readers! Help me be glad to be green!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I'm home! The alarm went off at 5am this morning in Chicago, and I clicked my heels together like Dorothy, hoping for some supernatural transport. It came in the form of a driver named Danny who got me to O'Hare before rush hour. Three cheers for Danny!

Now I'm eating pasta, petting THAT DOG, and planning to take a nap.

Happy Wednesday :)

UPDATE (3 hours later): Nap was great. Woke up to discover this priceless gem on Galleycat, and almost wet my pants, I laughed so hard. (My favorite part is where he asks, "Wait-my book can have it's own Facebook page? I thought that know, a face?")

Monday, May 12, 2008

Live, From Studio SB

I was on TV today!!!

(Note: I had planned to blog about my flight yesterday from Boston to Chicago: Asking if any of you know why United has that bizarre 3'x5' red floor mat at each gate to "welcome" their frequent flyers; telling you about the guy in the back of the plane who fell sound asleep the minute we took off and spent three hours snoring LOUDLY, in between bouts where he stopped breathing altogether.... But if I were reading this, I'd be thinking, "ENOUGH about the snoring plane dude, Trish...tell me how someone who trips over her shoes and spills coffee everywhere she goes survived a ten minute segment on live TV???") So here you go:

Truth be told, I spent the whole morning--from the moment I woke up to the lovely chiming alarm clock at 5:30am--worrying about spilling something on myself. I had an entire emergency backup outfit waiting in the car in case had one of my unfortunate collisions with liquid, but I'm proud to report that by refusing all beverages, I made it to the set unsullied. My Aunt Debbie came with me to the show, which was great...she even knew one of the hosts. I knew I could count on her to speak up if I came out of the ladies room with lipstick on my nose, but fortunately (okay, miraculously) it never came to that.

The actual filming--what I thought would be the most stressful part--was surprisingly normal. The two hosts of The Harvest Show, Chuck and Kelly, were friendly, engaging, conversational...totally easy to chat with. They asked great questions and I think I answered them in a way that was at least coherent. And I managed to get through the entire interview without using the word "determinator," making this a personal best.

I thought the whole camera thing would be weird, but the chairs were turned towards each other so I couldn't see them at all. What I could see, though, was a giant flat-screen TV of the segment we were filming, which made me think deep, reflective thoughts such as, "Wow-I'm really pale!" Profound, and focused in the important moments. That's me.

I realized midway through the segment that my habit of looking up/down/off to the side when I think about an answer probably looked weird on TV (I noticed that Chuck and Kelly managed to keep their eyes upright, facing actual people) so I tried to correct mid-stream. But overall, it was fabulous and fun, and much more natural than I ever expected.

You can check it out here. (If you click on the link for Monday May 12, I'm the second interview, about 30 minutes into the program.)

Tuesday, I'll be reading & signing at Borders Books in Evanston, IL, which is outside Chicago. David Sedaris will be there a month from now, so this is kind of like me being his warm up band, right? Like Gwen Stefani & NoDoubt going on tour with U2???

(Sure Trish, It's just like that...)

Hope to see some of you there :)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Life Lessons

We just got back from our DC/Philadelphia tour. After hours on trains, planes, and practically every vehicle Toyota makes, I've learned a thing or two...

1. I can't drive and eat a Wendy's cheeseburger. I think I can, but I can't. Next time I decide this might be a good idea (you know, so I can get to my destination that all-important six minutes faster), I might as well just squirt whatever top I'm wearing with mustard and throw it away.

2. I shouldn't eat a cheeseburger from the Amtrak club car. I'm not sure anyone should, but it's too late to be making such sweeping generalizations. Suffice to say that from this point on, I'll take minor hunger pangs over heartburn. Not a tough choice.

3. People are worth it. I've met the most amazing folks this week. From Heidi and Megan in DC, to an anonymous blog friend I'll call "Drinks & Fiddles" I met for coffee when I first got into Philadelphia, to the incredible Paige who was part of the wonderful crowd at the fun girls' night event last night (not to mention my newest blog friend, JP), all the travel and bad cheeseburgers and hours of driving were totally, TOTALLY worth it.

I'm too exhausted to describe it with any sort of clarity, but I'm extra grateful for all of you I'm meeting on this tour. Who knew a frog could lead to such great friends?

Good night, all. Sweet dreams :)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lost & Found, VA edition

Yesterday, I learned that I should never, ever (really-under ANY circumstances) rent a car without saying "Yes please!" to the nice man at the rental counter when he asks if I'd like a GPS. Even when I'll be in a city I've been to before. Even when it's a place I used to live.

We spent most of yesterday lost in Northern Virginia, which isn't all that hard to do, given that so much of this area is newly developed and looks pretty much the same. But the special and unique part of our getting lost was that we somehow wandered so far past where we were headed (I kept saying, "I think it's just a bit further, up here on the right...") that we ended up IN THE WOODS. On a DIRT road. Passing abandoned farms that look like movie sets for some horror flick. Not good.

When we finally found our way back to civilization, we abandoned all our plans for errands and other useful endeavors and headed directly to our friends Gavin & Emily's house so we could pat their puppy. This is Soren. Can you see why some quality time with him makes life much better?

He's only eleven weeks old, but there is every indication that he'll grow up to be a very fine THAT DOG in his own right. Which you all know is high praise :)

Yesterday's other redeeming feature was last night's book signing. I'll admit, it was a little (okay, a lot) humbling: It was my first time as an author to come up over the stairs to the area where I'd be reading to see...two people. Every author knows this day is coming, the day you'll be reading to some random guy browsing the Science Fiction section next to the podium and giving directions to the bathroom. And yet you hope against hope it never will.

Steve was there, as well as Gavin & Emily. So when you add in lovely Anna, the Borders employee, we had seven of us all together. Rather than pretend that it was normal to read aloud into a microphone for an audience of seven, I asked everyone to introduce themselves so that at the very least, we'd all be friends.

This is how I met Megan, who should be paid by every bookstore in the greater DC area to attend author events. She asked the BEST questions...I wish I'd recorded it. It was like a dream, chatting with her about writing, dating, sorting out life. Megan is new to the blog world, so if you're reading this today Megan...Welcome! And thank you :)

AND THEN, my next audience member introduced herself, and it was HEIDI!!!

Now, I get rather excited to meet blog friends...I almost couldn't do the reading, because all I wanted to do was sneak off to a corner and chat. If there'd been a restaurant next door, I would have suggested we all move there and order chocolate martinis :) Heidi took approximately 14 forms of public transportation to get to the reading, which absolutely makes her my hero. And she explained blogging to Megan in a better way than I ever could have, which made the whole event like a little party where everyone kicked in something to the conversation.

SO, all that to was one of those lemon-ish days that turned out to be filled with lemonade. Thank you Steve, Gavin, Emily, Soren, Anna, Megan, and HEIDI! I'm a grateful girl.

Next stop: Philadelphia!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Dog in Maine, Frog on Tour

I just left THAT DOG in Maine, placing her care in the capable (albeit sticky) hands of my niece and nephew, dog-sitters extraordinaire. Steve and I will be traveling this week, taking the frog book on tour in Washington DC and Philadelphia. And while THAT DOG is a Philly native who has friends in dog parks across our nation's capital, the idea of squishing her into the cargo hold of a plane is more than I can bare (bear? How can I not know how to spell that???)

Anyway, I'm terrible at leaving her. I imagine her sulking off in a corner, spending every moment pining for us and wondering why we abandoned her. The truth? I suspect that at this very moment she's following a small child across the living room, hoping a cookie will crumble. She'll have a happy week of scarfing down wayward goldfish crackers and scraps of PBJ's. I think she'll be okay :)

Here are some pics from the two signings this weekend. How do I love bookstores? Let me count the ways...First, the amazing display created by the Harvard Coop:

And me signing a book for my Dad at the Borders in South Portland, Maine.

This was a funny moment. You see, I gave my parents a copy (if you've read the book, you know that they've earned it...) But being the awesome, supportive Dad that he is, he bought another copy. He had me to sign it "To Whom It May Concern," because he can't imagine which of his fishing buddies--he's a retired lobsterman--he's going to give a book about how his daughter sorted out her love life. Can you imagine that conversation??? Makes me laugh, just thinking about it...

Here's the incredible Borders staff: Stephanie, Craig and Shanna. I ADORE them. If you're ever in Maine, stop by and say hello--they're fun folks to know :)

Next stop: Borders in Bailey's Crossroads, VA-- Tuesday night @ 7:30.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Flyin' the (Harvard) COOP

I'll be reading/chatting/signing my book at the Harvard Coop Bookstore tonight at 7pm!

This feels like a bit of a full-circle moment, as the Coop was one of the places I came to all the time when I first moved to Cambridge, when I was sorting out the scraps of my life and not sure what to do with the long hours of every day. I didn't have job, or a plan. But I had THAT DOG, and enough money to buy a small cup of coffee.

At least three times a week, THAT DOG and I would walk to Harvard Square to "fly the Coop," as I jokingly called it (when you're alone a lot, it's amazing how funny you think your own little sayings are...) THAT DOG would prance in like she owned the place, head held high, ignoring the outreached hands of small toddlers who squeeled, "doggie! doggie! doggie!" as we passed by. We'd head up the spiral staircase, around past all the rows of novels I longed to read, and up to the third floor. In those days, even THAT DOG knew that the self-help section was where I needed to be...she waited patiently for hours as the two of us sat in the window seat overlooking the square, me searching for answers, her keeping an eye on the action down below.

Tonight, I'll be up on the third floor of The Coop again, talking about the answers I finally found. I won't have THAT DOG with me (partly because she steals focus, but mostly because I'm afraid someone will feed her one of the Hersey's Kisses I'll be passing out and she'll leave something unfortunate on the carpet) but still, it will feel like a homecoming, in a bookstore I love.

If you're a Cambridge/Boston-area blogger, come on by!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Party Pics!

We had a party last night! After all, when a new frog hops out into the world covered in lip gloss, what can you do but celebrate? My sister Meg and I spent two days scouring greater Boston for everything we thought we'd need...buying everything from plates to ice to votive candles (because what kind of evening would it be if you ran out of votive candles?) as if we were hosting the summer Olympics. Not such efficient party planners are we. But what we lack in common sense, we make up for in sheer enthusiasm. Here are a few pics:

First, the incredible cake my friend Laura made...can you believe it? That's her, slicing into the masterpiece:

This is me telling the story about the guy who came out of the closet on our first date:

...and this is Steve's family laughing at me:

George from the Harvard Coop Bookstore, selling lots of books:

Which I then signed, until my already tough-to-read signature morphed to something that looked like "T4foh Ry9g--th6#kz f4 cob4ng!" (And check out Steve off to the left in the green of our friends asked him to sign his book, given that he's the hero of the story :) )

This is my incredible sister:

and my amazing friends who dressed like waitstaff and handed around hors d'oerves made by Rob the culinary genius, who managed to evade the camera:

and Christopher Greco, who played his song Here and Now, which I describe in the book. This was the one moment in the evening when I came dangerously close to the ugly cry...Meg treked clear across from the other side of the room to bring me Kleenex:

and of course, my handsome hubby, helping me thank our family & friends:

It was a great, fun evening...enough to make every second of writerly angst totally worth it :)