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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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What's next.


On Sunday, I hiked with my nine- and eleven-year-olds up the hill we call Pinnacle Mountain. We spent thirty minutes or so at the summit, catching our second wind and taking in the spectacular view, and every few minutes, I would panic, because my five-year-old was missing. Then I'd remember he was with his grandmother, hunting for alligators at the base of the hill, and my heart would start again.

Lots of people have been asking "How does it feel?" to have completed my manuscript. It feels just like that. Brief interludes of satisfaction, punctuated by the sudden, gaping certainty that something Very Important is missing.

I'm also being asked, "What's next?" I've so far resisted responding with "Next, I smack you right in the mouth," because I am practicing my interview skills for when I go on Oprah*.

What's next is making a birthday cake, shaped like a dragon, for my newly-minted six-year-old. Putting on a haz-mat suit, and cleaning the bathrooms. Helping my 5th grader with his science fair project, and taking him shopping for a shirt and tie to wear for his graduation from elementary school. Sewing the new Bear patch on my cub scout's uniform. Taking a deep breath and a hard look at the bills I've been rotating to the back of the stack, the to-do's that keep getting carried over from one day's list to the next and the next.

What's next is doing the same job I've done every day for the past sixteen months, book or no book, but getting to do it without feeling like I'm supposed to be doing anything else. At least until I hear from Oprah.

* I joke. All my hairbrush interviews are with Terri Gross and Craig Ferguson.


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Friday, April 23, 2010

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I wrote a book. And sixteen months and 70,000 words was all it took.

Sent from my BlackBerry Smartphone provided by Alltel

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

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Pulling it Together

I wake up in a field of forget-me-nots, blooming all over the walls of my niece's room. Beyond them, the house stirs, softly at first with my sister and brother-in-law's muffled voices, then comes wide awake with children's chatter, like a flock of starlings swirling in the hall. I reach for my phone to check the time. Five in the morning in Arkansas. Half-past seven in Newfoundland. I face the open closet door in my mind. Which panic attack to wear this morning? The so very late final chapters of my book? The scholarly talk I'm scheduled to deliver here on Friday, and have yet to write? Tax returns waiting for me when I get home next week? Choose one, I tell myself. You can't wear it all. Oh but I can try, says my frantic brain, like my little niece running up and down the stairs last night to put one more adornment on to show Auntie.

Wait. Just one more thing. Adding the tiara, the bracelet, the high heel shoes I sent her at Christmas time, one sprint at a time. Auntie Kiki, Auntie Kiki, see this. She twirls and then waits for my praise.

So beautiful, darling. Perfect.

Wait. One more thing.

Her satin heels clattering over the stairs. The breathless return. The offering of self. The self-appraisal. The little frown.

Always one more thing between us and our most pleasing, perfect selves. Always, the same damn set of stairs.


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