Friday, December 24, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
It's so good to have Krissy local again, though. She came over yesterday with a new bow and arrow set. When asked where she acquired the weaponry, she answered with the immortal words of Timmy Turner: "Internet."
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Many many thanks to Marrit and Anneke Gorter and family for hosting us in Aruba (and the trip to the secret beach!). What a cool place, and what a cool family.
A good summer all around. Busy, like no summer before. But no shortage of nice moments. My nephew and niece CJ and Samantha Wagner are kicking serious butt
in the world of golf. They passed through Pennsylvania last month and we got to see CJ play (that's him to the right). I don't know much about golf beyond cocktails and golf carts, but sure am proud of those two.
What else? Matt Walker and I are valiantly progressing at snail's pace toward a finished screenplay for The Ice Beneath You. It's been a cool experience, working with Matt on this. It almost doesn't matter if we ever finish...the process is a good time. But finish we will, and soon, I think.
And I've set a goal for end of autumn to finish The Dog House. And I mean it. Really. I do. And I will. Watch me.
I have to, actually. Because I'm ready to go back and finish The Night Door. It's had enough time to marinate. But that's a winter book, so I need to be ready to do it by winter. And I can't do it until I finish Dog House. So there it is.
And that's about it, I guess. Except: I can't stop listening to Peter Mulvey's Notes From Elsewhere and Kitchen Radio albums lately. Check em, if you haven't. Peter's as good an album as any to slip into autumn with, and those two in particular are good slip-into-autmn albums. Know Peter's stuff? No? You should. Really. I wrote about him in this piece I did for The New York Times around the time when In Hoboken came out. He's the most, indeed.
Additional note: Over at Ward Six, the blog of novelists J. Robert Lennon and Rhian Ellis, a discussion on Kindles and iPads and Hardbacks and Paperbacks. My comment to this discussion was easy to write because it seems this is Topic #1 these days for many writers. And then a conversation about why we (writers) do this, and who do we do it for.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
This is the forty-eight-hour period when Kristina turns twenty-two and I turn…well, you know. (The pic here of the two of us is from a few years back, on the Upper West Side, I think. I was still in my "fat Bauman" phase, yikes. But Krissy looks fierce, in the best possible way. I love it.)
My title above is a slight tweaking of a Jimmy Buffet title (“A Pirate’s Look at Forty”). Love the song, but always thought Jimmy put an “s” in the wrong place. Stronger this way. Not that Jimmy asked me. But it’s my post, so I’ll put the “s” where I please. Jimmy will understand.
As a brief aside, I always liked Jimmy Buffet. Back in the day, Jimmy was an ass-kicker, and still somewhat obscure. We loved him, down at Fort Eustis, Virginia, back in the early 1990s. Can’t think of a better songwriter for a bunch of slightly crazed waterborne soldiers. This was an environment, after all, where lines like “This morning, I shot six holes in my freezer” (from “Boat Drinks”) and “I have been drunk now for over two weeks” (the aforementioned “Pirate”) held no shock factor but were simply straight journalism about us. Jimmy was singing about how we lived, and we didn’t think much about it.
Eventually, I left behind the sea dogs and pirates of army life and fell in with a different group of ne’er-do-wells. Musicians and artists, and those brave or unfortunate enough to live with us. The violence slipped away, but the alcohol consumption didn’t decrease much. We moved in expanding and contracting circles with a magnet somewhere in Massachusetts holding our center of gravity loosely in place. We were very young and had no idea we were very young.
Who among us thought -- did any of us have even an inkling of premonition -- that the age of forty was a possibility? Did any of us see us at forty? That would have been hard to see, us gathered in a cold apartment kitchen on a Northampton morning, tousle-haired and sock feet with sweaters layered and bacon sizzling and coffee pressed so strong. The Story on their second album, from a cassette deck on the counter, those harmonies and alternate tunings floating behind our brave and limitless winter. Could any of us in that room have cut through the thick-pad gauze of slow collective hangover, still wrapped in the fumes of the night’s tequila, cut through to see us at forty?
Us, pulled apart and pulled back together over and over in the fifteen years of future to come, passed through madness, sadness, marriage, divorce, death, childbirth, babies.
And could any of us been so prescient as to know that this music we were hearing for the first time, this music that pointed us toward the future, would someday point backward, that all of us in the kitchen so alive would be ghosts soon, and this music would speak not of the tomorrow we were desperately trying to channel and control and own but a yesterday we would desperately be trying to remember?
Of course eventually we do gather in kitchens again, in smaller groups, those of us who made it this far. Our popcorn turned to pasta, beer turned to wine. In quieter conversations, and more averse to risk. I used to laugh the frenetic laugh of the perpetually nervous. That, thankfully, has changed for the better. Although I’m not sure any of us are any less scared; simply afraid of different things.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Two of my favorite essays I ever wrote for All Things Considered were about Kristina. It's not easy writing about family. In fact, it's not easy being in a family. I could never, ever capture complex, beautiful Kristina in a piece of writing. Impossible. But memories help put a picture together, even an imperfect picture. This one from 2004 is really just a reminder of how far we've all come. But this one from 2003 is hands-down my favorite thing I wrote for NPR. When I think of my "little Krissy" and how patient and amazing and curious and smart and funny she was (all those traits just strengthened since then), this is the memory I have.
And now back home. Nothing more telling that life is back to normal than this: I walked in the door last night to find a big bag of Poly-Fil on the kitchen table, this white fluffy synthetic stuff. I said, "What's up with this?" The answer: "Fiona decided today she needed to make voodoo dolls." Of course.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
It's a strange thing to watch TV and see buildings that I have seen (or, in some cases, been in) flattened to the ground. The entire view of Port-au-Prince has changed...the cathedral, the Presidential palace. As for Jacmel, beautiful Jacmel, I haven't seen pictures of the town, but can't imagine what an earthquake would do to the city. It's such a fragile place, Jacmel.
I'd wanted to post today some options for $$ aid, and some good reading about Haiti. Karen Kleckner at the Library Journal beat me to it. On her one page she has both...a link to 2 lists of aid options, and a good list of Haiti reading. (The Library Journal list is all novels. In addition, I highly recommend Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.) Please do what you can, and read a good book while you do it. Haiti is one of those countries that is so easy to assume you understand...but nobody understands. Certainly not until you've been there, and even then, not really. Broadening understanding of our troubled neighbor to the south is a good first step in helping them.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Enough about me. What else, to start the year? For one, if you write, you should consider my friend Peter Murphy's annual poet and writer's retreat in Cape May, NJ, coming up later in the month. I taught there a few times, loved it, but have been unable to attend the past few years. A serious bummer, that. Because it's a wonderful weekend. Highly recommended.
That's about it. I said above what book I'm beginning the year with. I ended 2009 with Barbara Kingsolver's new novel The Lacuna. I haven't read anything by her before, and this was fantastic. I read it on mid-December flights between the UK, Germany, and Italy, and enjoyed every page. And music? My new discovery (I'm late, what can I say) is Vampire Weekend. Love them. Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma, indeed.