Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Up, Up, and Oy Vey!

If you've read my book, you know that I spent a large portion of my childhood secretly convinced that I was Jewish. I also aspired to be a superhero, meeting with Wonder Woman and Superman at the Hall of Justice every morning to get our assignments for saving the world. (There's really no stopping a little Irish girl from Maine with lots of time and a big imagination...) Until this morning, though, I never saw the connection between these two dreams.

Then I saw a random reference to a book which is now my favorite contender for best title ever: Up, Up, and Oy Vey: How Jewish History Shaped the Comic Book Superhero.

I mean, how funny (and fabulous) is that??? I'm going to email A.J. Jacobs right now and suggest he devote his next yearlong memoir project to superhero training. After all, it's in his genes!

Then I'm going to search my family tree for one little branch of Jewishness...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Is THIS what Elton John was singing about?

I'm sitting in my office watching a gigantic bird of prey circle over the field across the street. That, along with the HIGH mortality rate of roadside animals here on our the mountainside, is bringing me much closer to the whole Circle of Life thing than ever before. Not sure how I feel about that.

Like many people, when I'm not sure how I feel about something, I analyze it. For example: When I saw the circling bird, my first though was, "Yikes." My second thought was, "Wait...it's mid-afternoon, and almost 90 degrees outside. Wouldn't any lunch-like rodent lying in black dirt right now be broiled?" Then, after a few minutes, I thought, "Maybe the birds like that...perhaps it's a seasonal treat they look forward to all winter?" This, my friends, is why I barely passed biology.

In other circle of life news, Steve's laptop blanked out over the weekend...if you're a Mac user, best avoid Safari 4.0 until they work out the kinks.

Happy Monday :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lydia Fair 2009

If you're anywhere near Boston this weekend, you'll want to check out this amazing event at the Greater Boston Vineyard. It's a gathering of artists--musicians, poets, dancers, painters, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers (okay, I'm not sure the butcher has confirmed, but you get the picture)--who have created pieces around the theme of "RESCUE."

Before I moved, I was asked to film a few thoughts about how this theme plays into my writing. If you've read my book or my blog, you know that I'm a huge believer in rescue: happily ever after, princes on white horses, the hero arriving to save the day at the eleventh hour...so this was fun. Here's the video--my thoughts are at the beginning and the end, with some of the other awesome artists in between. (And if you hit the pause button to freeze-frame us at different times when we're talking, it's quite amusing).

One of the pieces in the show is an actress doing a comedic monologue from my book. When Christopher Greco--the director of the show who did the adaptation--asked me if I'd be okay with that, he said he'd be pulling material from a certain chapter. I looked it up and saw that it was the scene where my ex-husband threw a giant jug of change at me and called me a variety of expletives. I thought, "umm...comedic monologue???" Turns out it's a different scene. Which is probably a good thing :)

If you can get there, check it out.
Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Profound revelations :)

The upside of a long cold is that it justifies daytime sleeping and long, steamy showers. The downside is that after a long, steamy shower, I'm so tired I transition immediately into daytime sleep. It's a vicious cycle.

In happier news, here's a link to the talk I gave Sunday on finding your purpose in life. An eternal question of human existence, SOLVED in a mere 30 minutes! :)

And in the midst of my hectic shower & nap schedule, I'm working on a bio for my new post here in NY, which requires me to divulge a weird fact about myself. Where to begin???

If you had to divulge a weird fact about yourself, what would it be?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Speedy Delivery

So the good news is that we ordered a washer & dryer yesterday, and the nice store people said, "Would you like that delivered tomorrow?" Why yes, we would! (This saved us from our next stop, which was buying new towels and undergarments to get us through the week...)

The not quite so delightful news is that the store called...at 6:30 this morning...to confirm delivery. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I mean, I like doing laundry as much as the next person (okay, I LOVE doing laundry). But I'll take an extra hour of sleep over that any day of the week.

Gotta go--it's 8:08am and they're here!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Live, from New York

Oh, where to begin?

We're here, in our new townhouse in the mountains of New York, listening to the wind blow and wondering where we packed our underwear. Good stuff :)

The move was amazing. I think I'd lost track of how good it feels to let other people help. Sounds ridiculous, right? But I'm rather independent, and that--combined with a strange worry I have about not wanting to bother or inconvenience anyone--led me to build a life where there aren't many situations in which I need to ask for help. But moving all of our stuff out of a third floor condo? There's no way I could pull that off on my own. (Ditto for moving stuff into a three floor townhouse).

So we asked. And I was simply flabbergasted by how generous our friends were with their time, effort and (let's be honest) muscle. Moving out felt a bit like one of those impossible challenges on The Biggest Loser, where teams go up and down stairs endlessly trying to complete the task. Turns out we have more stuff than we remembered, and our friend MacGyver Man stayed in the truck doing all manner of miracles to fit everything together, creating a puzzle that might have earned him a PhD in geometric problem solving had we thought to take pictures.

Then, the next day, after eight hours on the road--Steve in the giant truck, THAT DOG and I following in the car, the two of us communicating by walkie-talkies I picked up at Target (which, it turns out, are WAY more fun to use when you're a grown up), we arrived in Ithaca. And a team of people--some we'd met before, some who only heard we were coming and wanted to welcome us and help--pulled in one by one and moved us in. It was amazing, and humbling, and one of those experiences I'll remember for a long, long time. Sitting around afterwards, eating pizza and comparing notes on where to buy food, register a car, and get a great deal on a washing machine, I thought, "This feels like home..." And it does.

I'm a tired, but grateful girl :)

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Today's story of stuff

As I'm packing our world into boxes and bins, I've realized something strange: As much as it's become an American pastime to complain about how much stuff we have--how we really should throw out more/buy less/get organized/simplify--that's not true for me at all. Maybe it's because I've moved a lot, or because we've always lived in tiny condos, or because there are whole swaths of my history I have no desire to commemorate...but my experience of packing has not been of the "I'm so overwhelmed/how did we accumulate all this?" variety. Rather, it's made me oddly grateful.

Is it totally uncool to say, "I like my stuff"???

Let me clarify: nothing in these boxes defines me. I'm not overly proud of it, or excited to show it off. There's a chance you could offer the entirety of my possessions at a yard sale and not make enough money to order pizza for friends and family (Unless of course THAT DOG set up a booth to sell autographed pics, in which case you'd clean up...) But for the first time in my life, I guess I feel like I have what I need to set up camp in a new place. Before, with each move, there was always so much I knew I'd need--like there were endless trips to box stores in my future trying to make my new digs a home. I don't feel that this time. I feel like it's the life that will be new for us in Ithaca, not the stuff. I'm excited about that :)

(Omigosh, I just re-read this and it's just a bunch of pseudo-philosophical babble. Readers, I apologize. You deserve better. But I'm on day four of heavy cold meds, and that really is what I'm thinking about. Pitiful (and worse, pedestrian...) but true. I'll be back, hopefully off the meds and with a new internet connection in the great state of NY, next week!)

But if you LIKE my delusional, fogged out musings, I'll be twittering (tweeting?) from my iPhone for the next few days here. Want to see how DayQuil affects my ability to navigate a moving truck down I-90? Come on along!

And now, a question: Do you secretly like your stuff, too?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pass the Tissues!

I'm not so good with goodbyes. I'd forgotten this about myself. It's been a long time since I've relocated...not since I landed here in Cambridge nine years ago hoping life would somehow get better. It did! But now I'm leaving, which means goodbyes.

The reality of this hit me like a train yesterday. As most of you know, a few years back I wandered into a church where I saw my whole life turn around. Yesterday was my last Sunday as a member there, and let's just say I was unprepared.

Yikes, it was the full-on ugly cry. I have a cold which didn't help, but most of the liquid was the product of a sudden, slightly paralyzing awareness of how much this place and these people mean to me, and how much I'll miss them. I think I've watched one too many episodes of Friday Night Lights, as my mind did one of those montage flashbacks to every important and poignant moment from the past seven years, blinking them through my head one by one. By the end, it's a miracle I could breathe :)

And yet it was an amazingly happy day, in the midst of all those tears. (Maybe that's the difference when you leave to go to something, rather than just run away?) My friend Dave gave an inspiring talk about how Easter doesn't mark the end of Lent so much as the beginning of something new and altogether different, where miracles are really possible. My friends Christopher and Kristina sang songs about hope and possibility that had me up on my feet and clapping, even as I blew my nose (I'll never say I'm uncoordinated again, because this was an amazing feat of multitasking). And right in the middle, a surprise I never saw coming: My friends (and favorite band), Ryanhood climbed onstage to sing the title song from their new CD, The World Awaits.

I was dumbstruck, jaw on the floor, tears running down my face...It was like God sent Ryan and Cameron from Denver or Minneapolis or wherever their last tour stop was just to let me know that even though I'm sad to be leaving, this is absolutely the right thing to do; that Steve and I are going to something good and exciting, and we won't lose what we have here...we'll build on it.

I found this clip on YouTube that you should check out. Listen carefully to the first thing Cameron says as he introduces the song; it sums it up pretty well:

"You're in your house. You have a front door. And you have to go through it."

The World Awaits.

I just need to mop up my face first :)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Big News #2: As Seen On TV...

Okay, that title makes it sound a bit like I'm announcing my appearance on some new reality show...which I'm not (although I take a little time each day to work on my moves in case So You Think You Can Dance should call). You'll understand the title in minute. But first, the Big News: We're moving! Here's the scoop:

Last spring, the first stop of my book tour was Ithaca, NY. I fell a little bit in love with it there--it's a funky city, like Cambridge, but incredibly beautiful like my home state of Maine. I came home from that trip and told Steve, "We really need to visit there sometime." We went back in the Fall to see the leaves change, and it felt like home. A few months later, Steve noticed a job posting on the website of the church we'd attended, the Vineyard Church of Ithaca. Now, Steve is a biotech guy--he wasn't exactly surfing church postings looking for a career change. And yet, it felt like something he was supposed to check out. So we drove to Ithaca in the middle of a blizzard to check it out...

And here we are four months later, packing our stuff into boxes and heading out on a new life adventure! Steve will be an associate pastor at the church, I'll be on the speaking team (which means there will be regular opportunities for you to listen online as I talk about the embarrassing things I do...in case reading about them here on the blog isn't enough).

(I'll be Twittering the move--everything from the giant truck we've rented, wrestling our mahogany dining room table down three flights of stairs, to the fabu rest stops along the NY Thruway--here if you need a chance to laugh AT someone, rather than with them.)

Speaking of which...we've been packing. And my sister was in town, which means I'll try all sorts of crazy things I might not do on my own, including....SPACE BAG. How excited were we to stuff piles and piles of stuff into bags and then vaccum out all the air??? WAY TOO EXCITED. I even took pictures. We started with two pillows:

Then we crammed them into the little bag and tried to use the super-zip plastic device to close the bag. Turns out it's extraneous and we just sealed the bag by hand like a giant zip-lock.

Then out came the vaccum cleaner and WHOOSH! We sucked out every last bit of air until the two pillows looked like this:

Incredible, right? We were beside ourselves with glee, spastically searching for other gigantic things we could squish to one-sixteenth their actual size.

But then, we noticed something sad. The pillows were growing, sort of like one of those monsters on a cartoon you think you've killed but then comes back to life. Twenty minutes later, they looked like this:

Sigh. The Space Bags went back to BB&B, and I'm left to contend with bulky fluffy items with no new and exciting technology to help.

Cheer me up--what are your favorite packing tips? Anything you'd never try again? Share!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Big News, Part 1

I was in Barnes & Noble this weekend, and saw the paperback edition of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not on the shelves!!! They had several copies, right out there for the whole world to buy, almost three weeks before the "official" release date. Elegant creature that I am, I just stood there clutching my latte, staring at the shelf like I'd lost my mind. (THIS is why I'm not on a reality TV show...I'm simply too much of a dork).

Of course I bought a copy, secretly hoping that the girl at the checkout would notice that the name on my credit card and my B&N membership card matched the name on the cover of the book. (Again with the dork theme...) Alas, she didn't (or perhaps she thought I was truly pathetic and was simply kind enough not to mention it?) Anyway, here it is!

The cover totally matches the dress I wore to my senior prom, which means that I have to post a picture as soon as I can dig one up. (If you're having a tough week, now you have something funny to look forward to.)

When I got the book home, I looked it over to see if there were any differences between this edition and the hardcover (aside from the 121 places I'd misspelled my favorite singer's name in the original). Perhaps the biggest change is here in the author bio, and offers a hint at the next part of my big news:

Can you spot the difference?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Reader's choice

I'm running out the door but will be back to post later. I have three blog-worthy items vying for priority in my head: one funny, one about a big life change, and one about the book. (They're somewhat interwoven, but that would make the longest post ever, so I'll split them up.)

Any preference for what comes first?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Accidentally On Purpose

I'm working on a talk right now. The topic is "Finding Purpose" which (I'm realizing now) is a subject so deep and wide that it's pretty much unfathomable. (I did a Google image search to find a picture to post here, and the stuff was all so sappy and impossibly grandiose that I settled for this t-shirt, figuring that at least it's sort of my life purpose...) But in the midst of all the clouds and stars and silly promises, the quest is leading into some unexpectedly great reading:

First, my publisher sent me a copy of Kristin Armstrong's new book Work In Progress: An Unfinished Woman's Guide to Grace, and I dropped everything I was doing and sat right down to read. Here is the first (but by no means the last) thing I underlined:

"We cannot strive our way into being beautiful. We have to relax into it; we need to breathe."

Could I please get someone to follow me around and remind me of this in 5-7 minute intervals? Kristin is gorgeous and elegant and has been through more than most of us can imagine in terms of relational ups and downs. I'm THRILLED to have her thoughts on moving closer to grace. I think it's part of life's purpose, but it's not something you can just do; you (or at least I) need a guide. This is a good one.

Second is Po Bronson's What Should I Do With My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered The Ultimate Question, an unexpected find that jumped off the bookshelf at me as I was browsing through a completely different section of the store. It was misheleved, and I'm grateful to whoever was too lazy to put it back where s/he found it. WSIDWML is a collection of essays about his interviews with people at the beginning/middle/end of some major life transition. Here's my first favorite quote:

"When I started this book, I thought the Question ["What do you do?"] was a scourge on our society, a contagious mental virus transmitted via verbal exchangees. But I'm starting to see that the Question serves a valuable role. The Question is how we hold ourselves accountable to the opportunity we're given.... if you don't like the Question, maybe it's partly because you don't like your answer."

Um, yikes. So harsh, and yet so true. I've spent most of my life HATING the Question, either because my impressive answer ("I'm an attorney") was actually ripping me apart inside, or later, because my pathetic answer ("Um, well, today I took a bath, then petted the dog for awhile, and then spent five hours wondering if and how my life was worth living") wasn't exactly cocktail party material. And yet, I think he's onto something with this idea of accountability. Has me thinking about this whole "opportunity" thing in a new way. Love that!

What do you think of the "What do you do?" question?
(More importantly, are you relaxing/breathing? I hear it helps the pretty!)

City Fun

The Woz was voted off last night. Somebody, somewhere needs to get that man his own reality show. In these dire economic times, we need joie de vivre on a segue scooter!

Speaking of which...my sister and THE NEPHEW are coming to visit tomorrow! There will be elevator rides to the top of skyscrapers (they live in Maine, so skyscraper = anything over five stories) and then we'll drive back and forth through the Big Dig a few times saying, "Hey--we're UNDER the city!!!" My sister and I will pretend it's for him, but hey--we grew up in Maine too. You just don't put your roads under buildings and rivers where we're from (which is why the welcome sign when you enter the state says: "Maine: The Way Life Should Be...").

There's an IMAX movie about bugs I'm pretty sure would haunt me for the next sixteen years, so we'll skip that, along with the one about risk that gives you a real-life feeling of skydiving. I can barely ride an escalator without getting queasy, so I don't thing that's for me. Here's my question: WHEN will the do the giant IMAX film on SHOPPING??? Going into all the biggest stores with an aerial view so you can be the first to spot the bargains??? That, I would stand in line for.

If I see an official looking person at the theater tomorrow, I just might mention it.