Saturday, May 30, 2009

I can be pretty in plaid!

I received a mysterious email today from Manic Mom. It said "Go. To. My. Blog...That is all :)" Being the obedient girl that I am, I hopped right over, to see that not only had I won a signed copy of Jen Lancaster's new book, PRETTY IN PLAID, but Manic (who is so BFF with Jen that she's listed on the book's acknowledgment page) filmed the drawing to post on YouTube:

Jen is EXCEEDINGLY gracious and displays a real knack for rolling with the punches in this video, especially in the place where Manic said, "You know Trish Ryan..." and Jen goes along and said, "Oh sure! I know Trish Ryan!"

Here's the truth: Manic introduced Jen and I last year at a book conference. I was one of approximately 1,000 adoring fans, but because I'm a friend of Manic (FOM) I went with her to the front of the line and got to meet Jen personally...for approximately 22 seconds...before we moved out of the way of her hoards of other adoring fans.

But if she ever comes to Ithaca for an event, I'll be her local Manic Mom :)

THANK YOU Jen, THANK YOU Manic...I can't wait until my book arrives! In the meantime, I'm heading to the mall to find a pink sweater to toss over my favorite yellow t-shirt...LOVE THAT!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trish is in need of some dish(es)

If I eat one more plate of grilled chicken with a side of broccoli, I think I just might scream.

I'm in a total dinner rut. It's gotten so bad that I'm tempted to cook up the Tater Tot Casserole recipe I found in the book by the family with 18 kids (I'm oddly enamored with them, but I don't think I'd fit in my jeans next week if left alone with a pan of tater tots baked with cheese and cream of mushroom soup...)

Can you help? If you have a favorite recipe that doesn't involve eggplant or scallops (0r tater tots), could you PLEASE post it in the comments below?

Thanks in advance. Until then, I'm off to grill more chicken...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In the Spirit of Adventure...

For those of you who dig spiritual things, here's a link to a new post on this year's 40 Days of Faith blog. We'll be starting again on June 1st, so if you feel like giving it a try, leave a comment here or over there. The more the merrier :)

In other, equally exciting news, the new season of So You Think You Can Dance starts tomorrow night!!! Now admittedly, I'll watch almost any reality show on TV so long as the participants aren't eating vipers or dangling over the Grand Canyon in a thong. But SYTYCD is the one that makes DVR a vital part of my budget (because no matter where I live, I always have some sort of class or talk that night).

I can't wait!!! I'm moving the coffee table out of the way now, just to be ready!

I just checked my DVR at lunch and realized that SYTYCD premiered last week! How did that happen? I'm mortified to have missed it. Sliding my coffee table back into place in shame...

Monday, May 25, 2009

THAT DOG v. Oprah

The only one in our little family more excited than me to see the latest edition of O Magazine land in our mailbox was THAT DOG. While I was ogling the adorable puppies on the cover and looking forward to wonderful tales of love and joy penned by fellow canine fanatics, THAT DOG was calculating how this nice thick issue would give her just enough height, when piled upon our several back issues of Mens' Journal, to reach the depths of the bathroom wastebasket and pull out all the used tissue goodness lurking therein.

But having a size advantage on the pup (not to mention opposible thumbs) I got the magazine first. I flipped it open, while THAT DOG stared at me impatiently. You can imagine my dismay when the first thing I read was a heartbreaking, dismal essay by a woman who moved to my same new city, with a dog approximately THAT DOG's age...immediately after which said dog died.


It was horrid. Awful. And yes, I know all about the seasons of life and that sooner or later, all pets go off to meet at that great country farm in the sky...but I don't really want to read about it happening here, to a dog like mine.

So if anyone has a birdcage that needs fresh pages to line it, I have a magazine ready to go. (I'll make it up to THAT DOG by leaving the wastebasket out where she can reach it on her own, with an extra tissue or two thrown in for good measure...)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A little of this, some of that...

Last night was Girls' Night: Friends, ice cream, wine, and the American Idol finale. I haven't watched this season, so it was interesting to come in at the end and see the final two. Our crowd was resoundingly in favor of Chris (LOVED the guitar & drums number...Simon was SO wrong...) with one vocal Adam fan keeping my living room full of non-voters from being completely one-sided. Both guys are pretty amazing, but I have to ask (for those of you more familiar with the Idol scene) WHAT WAS that last song they made them sing??? It was kind of ridiculous, totally written for a female vocalist, and way too high for either of them. I know that the one judge (WHO is she???) wrote it, but still, it was kind of a mean thing to do to those guys. Your thoughts?

In other news, I just found out that my author pic for book #2 has to be in by June 8th. Which means that if things don't go well with the new hair stylist in my new town tomorrow morning, we'll be looking at me in that green sweater for two more years. (Please pray or send good thoughts as you're inclined...)

I just started THE LAST SUMMER (OF YOU AND ME). It's sunny outside, and I almost feel like I'm at the beach with the characters. Love that :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Off to Edit. And...

(Okay, that title sounds more suggestive than I intended...)

I'm going into hiding this week, working on the revisions suggested by my editor for Book #2 and scanning every song lyric I can find for subtitle inspiration. And between chapters, I'll be watching this video. See the backup singer in the orange dress? My goal is to perfect her shimmy: arm waves, the occasional kick ball change, funky wiggle during the it. Every girl needs a good disco shimmy, and this is the one I want!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Needed: bins & a labelmaker for inside my head

Do you compartmentalize? My head is swimming, and I could use some tips.

There are 101 things are swirling around in my mind vying for attention, and I'm having trouble pinning any one of them down for more than four minutes to make progress. My manuscript for book #2 is coming back for revisions, I'm working on a proposal for book #3, and in two hours I have a radio interview about book #1 (that I'm so terrified I'll forget to call in for that I've postponed all errands until this afternoon.) I have two fun talks to write, and five books to read that I think might give me wise and pithy things to say in those talks.... And yet here I sit in a heap of things that need to be done--things I'm actually excited about doing--not sure where to start. (I'd try the "eat the biggest frog first" approach, if I could size up the different frogs...)

In the middle of this, I'm staring at an amazing quote I copied into my journal back in November by Robert McKee:

"We stretch toward the bests and worsts because story--when it is art--is not about the middle ground of human experience."

So true! But how do we go after that when so much of real life is middle ground? Can I simply skip getting a NY driver's license or taking my dog for this year's round of shots? What about the towels that have been sitting in the dryer since Monday night? At some point, the middle ground needs some attention, too.

Maybe I need Julie Morganstern?

How do you manage the ups, downs, & middle ground of your human experience? How do you put the 100 other things on hold so you can focus on the one? How do you pick which one?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Destiny's Child?

When I dropped him off at work today, Steve said to me, half-joking, "GO TO YOUR DESTINY!" It's a running thing we have from the Olympic runners who were twin brothers and used to say that to each other every morning before they went out to train. Usually, it's inspiring.

Except today. Because right after Steve said, "GO TO YOUR DESTINY!" we both realized that my next stop was Target, to buy toilet bowl scrubbies.

So here I sit at 9:42 am, my destiny achieved.

There you have it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

An actual Big Thought

I'm reposting because what I wrote below is vague, shallow, and silly and really, who cares? Here's what really stopped me in my tracks in Texas:

We threw a giant outdoor festival for the survivors of Galveston. They've been through two storms that essentially wrecked the island, and we wanted to help and encourage them. Part of my job was to stand on a chair with a bullhorn and tell the incoming folks what they'd find inside. Three things made them look like they wanted to mow me down so they wouldn't miss out: Free haircuts (because who has money for that when you've lost everything?), free family portraits (these folks had lost all their pictures), and a small gold ticket for free groceries. I didn't know whether to cry or throw up, the need was so great, and what I could offer so small. All I could do was smile, try to convey some love and encouragement, and run through my mandatory shpiel as fast as possible.

A friend who was in the prayer tent told me about one woman he met who was hoping God might help her husband get off of drugs...but this was the THIRD thing on her list, after a safe place to live and a job.

I asked a fellow Vineyarder, the wife of our national director, "When does this stop breaking your heart?" "It doesn't," she said, hugging me. "That's the gift of compassion." Here's the thing, though: I don't have the gift of compassion. But what I saw there rammed through all my defenses and made me want to do whatever I could to help these folks. And sometimes the best you can do is run through your shpiel as fast as possible, and then pray for miracles as the crowds stream by.

Big thoughts from a big state

So sorry to have disappeared for a week. I know that violates the cardinal rule of blogging. And it was a week full of bloggable moments, so it broke my heart a little to have no internet connection in the conference center and an iPhone that didn't want to play nice with Blogger.

In a nutshell, the conference was awesome. It was a morning, noon & night kind of event (I'm not sure my blogs would have been coherent had I posted) and I'll likely spend the better part of this week processing it all.

There were great reminders about how easy it is to get off track from what we're called to do with our lives by the urge we all have to please the people around us. So today, I'm thinking about how to resist that without becoming one of those weird creative types who thinks the world is out to get them.

I saw an VERY gifted public speaker who challenged me to raise my game when I speak--when you're really prepared, I realize, you can connect with the audience at a whole different level.

And I met some folks who have been pursuing big dreams for years, and realized that pursuing big dreams is challenging. I tend to forget that. But if something is easy, it probably isn't worth dedicating a whole life to, right?

So that's what I'm mulling over today, now that I'm back in NY with the hawks, our neighbor's pony, and the chickens down the road.

More tomorrow :)

Monday, May 04, 2009

No snakes on the plane (or at the hotel, or in the conference center...)

We're flying to Galveston, Texas this morning for the Vineyard National Conference. I'm excited! I dig getting together with folks from all over the country who like to talk about God and the cool things that can happen when we pray instead of freaking out. As someone with a propensity to freak out, these kind of get-togethers are good for me.

(Especially since I just did a Google search for a picture of Texas to put with this post and found, in addition to the usual "don't mess with Texas" logo, a photo of a guy holding a terrifyingly gigantic Texas rattlesnake. NOT what I was looking for. Granted, it was on the Urban Legands website, but their version of "disproving" it was to say that the perspective of the photo might be off, and that the snake might be "only" seven feet long, rather than nine. LIKE THAT MATTERS!!! I'm already fighting off queasiness because the plane we're taking out of Ithaca is so tiny it has the word "Dash" in the title; I hadn't even thought about snakes. Esh. Note to self: Don't freak out. Pray....)

I'll be twittering from the conference. If you're curious about life down South (or this Northerner's take on it) you can follow along at

All week, I've had the song "Deep in the Heart of Texas" going through my head, despite the fact that Galveston isn't in the heart of Texas at all. There must be another Texas song, right? Anybody have one? (It will give me something brave to hum on the plane...)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Mop Flop

Sorry for the radio silence this week--I was sick. The good news is that it had nothing to do with pigs or the flu. But suffice to say that the few thoughts I had yesterday were not of the bloggable variety.

Feeling better today, and have an admission to make and a question for you all. First, the admission: on Tuesday, I mopped a floor (several, actually) for the first time in my life. I'd done the whole sponge-on-the-end-of-a-long-stick kind of mopping before, but never the swingy-strings-that-could-substitute-for-a-pretend-horse-when-you're-five kind of mopping. You know, REAL mopping. Given the grungy state of the linoleum floors in our apartment, I went into the endeavor with high hopes and big expectations.

HUGE letdown.

I mopped with all my might, but the floors look essentially the same. No scum was scrubbed off. The dirt barely even budged. The only solace I take from all that effort is that our floors are now VERY disinfected (I wasn't sure how much Pine-Sol to use, so I opted for the "if some is good, more is better" approach.) So now I have dirty floors you could eat off of, and the whole place smells like one of those scented cardboard trees you buy at the gas station to make the inside of your car smell better. A strange result, and probably not enough to inspire me to mop again.

So tell me, helpful, domestically-able readers: Why do you mop? Did I miss something?