arrival, gratitude

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I started writing this book five years ago, in the winter. I started writing it after a long, dry spell of not writing much. I started writing it during the times when my then-toddler napped.

I remember I would get him down to sleep and then bring my laptop into my room and sit on the lumpy chair and force myself to write 500, 1000, 1500 words at time. Then I would write beyond that. I would write and write until he woke up.

As always, I wrote in a fury. I wrote when that not-so-carefully patched up thing within me busted open again.

I started writing this book out of a sense of desperation and loss. I felt I had something to say about how hard it is to grow and survive and to learn how to thrive and be self-reliant. But it took me quite a few drafts to get to exactly the place where it is now. The place where it says just what I want it to.

Not everyone is going to love this book. Not everyone is even going to like it. Some people may even hate it. Some people will be put off by hard truths. Others may feel I don’t go deep enough into the truth. But the reactions of these readers are now beyond my control.

And thanks to my editor, Andrew Scott, and my publisher, Victoria Barrett, and thanks to Penn Whaling and Ann Rittenberg and the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency, and thanks to my husband for his faith in me and my child for his unwavering certainty that his mommy is the best (and thanks to him for taking those naps back then as well) and thanks to all those many people who have believed in me and supported me all these years, this book lives today.

As soon as this book hits your hands, it is no longer mine but ours. Thank you for sharing it with me.

 

Available for preorder from Lacewing Books, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Powell’s, and Amazon.

 

get over it?

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They are called weather events now. Events. No tickets and no fliers. Free and open to the public. I was starting to get a feeling–a suspicion–that people would rather I shut up about our historic weather events. These massive, unprecedented snow storms, burying and burying and burying us.

We in our particular little coastal corner north of Boston have been completely obliterated by snow. One school district shut down for the entire week before February vacation because they feared for the safety of the buildings, their roofs heavy with snow. Indeed, we have had other local tragedies, including roof collapses and loss of life.

I was starting to get the feeling that people wanted me to shut up about our weather events, though.

They had experienced winter before! They had lived through storms! There was that one year… or those couple of years in a row. They had been cold. They had shoveled.

Yeah, yeah. Me, too.

I was starting to get the feeling that people wanted me to get over it. I tried to. I did.

I was told to think spring!  I reminded myself of how much fun my kid was having with all the snow. I joked about it. I tried my best to be lighthearted. I swear I did.

But there comes a point when your backyard is full of trenches and you realize that you are, in fact, at war. This winter is just the beginning. Or not even the beginning. It’s been going on for a while.

It’s a fluke. It’s mother nature. No. It’s real. It’s deadly.

As the west coast blazes hot, we turn to ice.

In two days rain is forecast. Our town officials sent out a call, warning of roof collapse, telling us what it looks and sounds like when a building becomes structurally unsound.

We are huddled in our trenches, waiting for the next battle, preparing our fortresses, readying our weapons. We keep our trenches clear.

These trenches are what climate change looks like.

We must not avert our eyes.

 

lesson

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I keep waiting for there to be a lesson in all of this weather. Something about patience or fortitude. Something about tenacity and grit.

The snow falls and we shovel it. We rake it off the roof. We wait.

The snow melts and freezes. Our roof dams up. Drips enter through the walls. The ceilings bead.

We break up the dams but more come and then more.

Each morning we find a new drip in a different room.

More snow is in the forecast.

I wait. I wait for my new book to come out. I wait for someone to read it and say something about it. My anxiety falls down upon me like snow. It melts and freezes and backs up onto my roof. It drips down inside me, threatening collapse from that we cannot see.

Then a voice comes through. A human voice. A person I do not know takes the time to read my book and say a few words and the snow stops falling and the ice melts and goes away and the piles melt and the crocuses bloom.

All is not lost. The walls will be fixed. The ceilings repaired. A new roof installed. We will all begin again, maybe better than before.

All is not lost. A person and another and maybe even another will read this book and I will hear their voices. Let them sing to me. Let them rage at me. If what I have said speaks to you, I have done my job. It feels like everything to do my job.

Thank you for this lesson. Thank you for the snow and the ice and the drips and these broken walls and these cracked ceilings. I am listening.

Thank you for letting me speak to you and thank you for you hearing me.

Thank you

 

 

 

 

melt

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The dog races into the yard, while the birds, defying their fear, remain feeding. They know nothing of the melt. How the ice feathers down, enlightening with its touch. The dog, the birds, move over the fractured ground, knowing the cold, but not expecting what comes next. There is this moment. This one and this one.Water cycling into water into air.

 

 

 

grown

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I was the ugly child in the after school special. Grown mean, grown angry. Left in the back room to pick my own scabs smooth. Everyone was watching and no one was watching. There were eight rooms in that house. There was stained glass. There was yellow cake. Pillars. Beneath the stairs in the basement, a box of my father’s clothes. All that remained of him. We might have played in the hayloft when we were younger, but now we were grown.

match game

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My child has been home sick all week. A fever has kept him from being very active. We’ve watched a lot of television. Too much. We are heavy with it. Easy to fall into and out of. So many choices that it is impossible to choose.

I remember myself. Sweaty on the couch. Light wavy through the red curtains. Woozy on actifed. Sleep and then not. I would watch Sesame Street, the Flintstones. I would watch Coronation Street with my mother. Maybe eat some soup or a popsicle.

And then the prize: Match Game.

I didn’t laugh because I didn’t get the jokes. The flirtation made me anxious, self-aware. My biggest crush to date had been James Garner when I was in kindergarten. By first grade, I had moved on to Richard Dawson. Bert Convy.

But the women were most interesting. The ones who played smart. Brett Somers. There was a great deal of scorn directed at her. Distrust. Being a woman and being smart was dangerous.

Someday maybe I would be dangerous too.