Saturday, November 24, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012


     There are a number of reasons that I don't care much for Thanksgiving. One of them is that I have a genetic resistance to being told to do anything, and I resent being told that Thanksgiving is the day when I have to be grateful. I'm grateful for many things, on many days, because I choose to be, not because the calendar tells me that I have to. So, on that contrarian note, I think that my post this weekend should be about some things for which I am NOT grateful. Chalk it up to my effort to achieve balance in the universe.

1. I am not grateful that that, possibly fifteen years ago, I arrived in New York one day about an hour early to hear Arthur Miller speak about playwriting, and so I went into a coffee shop next door to kill some time, and there, sitting alone at a table and doing absolutely nothing other than drinking his cup of coffee, was ARTHUR MILLER HIMSELF, and I was so paralyzed by shyness/fear/confusion that I went and sat by myself at another table for the entire time, and missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him.
2. I am not grateful that, half an hour ago, I failed to win a KidLit Cares auction for a critique by Wendy Lamb of the first three chapters of a novel.
3. I am not grateful that the human race is well on its way to destroying its own environment and, for some reason, thinks that short-term financial gains are more important.
4. I am not grateful that Alan Turing, the genius who during World War II cracked the Germans' fiendishly difficult Enigma code, was later hounded by his own government into committing suicide at age 42 because of his homosexuality.
5. I am not grateful for the invention of chewing gum.
6. I am not grateful that my father died at a time when he and I were on bad terms, and that I never had the opportunity to try to reconcile with him.

     That's it for now. Please feel free to leave comments about things, large and small, for which you are ungrateful. Let me know I'm not the only one! And then I'll do a gratitude post in, maybe, July.

Monday, November 12, 2012


     What a bad, bad blogger I've been.  Between post-hurricane trauma and pre-election angst, I've been feeling like the world is spinning too fast for me and I can't catch my breath long enough to think.  But I'm better now, and there are a few things I'd like to share.
     First of all: If you're a member of the kidlit community, and if you want to contribute to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts but haven't yet gotten around to it, then proceed immediately to author Joanne Levy's website.  Author Kate Messner originated the idea of an online "talent auction" of wonderful prizes for kidlit authors, with all proceeds to benefit the Red Cross and its Hurricane Sandy efforts.  Kate officiated over Round One, and has (as of today) handed the reins over to Joanne Levy for Round Two.  If you don't see anything on the list that piques your interest, keep checking back.  New items are being added on a rolling basis.
     Second of all: I won the most awesome prize in Round One!  I am now in the position of donating to my daughter's 11th-grade Honors English class a 30-minute Skype session with none other than YA Goddess LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON!!!  I emailed the teacher about it today and she sounds almost as excited as I am.  Please at least look over the Round Two offerings and seriously consider bidding on one or more.  Donating to a good cause and getting a manuscript critique, phone chat with an editor, or one of the other fabulous offers to boost to your writing career -  hmm.  Sounds to me like a win-win.
     Third of all: about this presidential election.  To me, Obama's reelection ranks as far more significant than his election four years ago.  Four years ago, he ran on a message of hope and change.  And even though the degree of change he's been able to accomplish so far has been disappointing, we as a people haven't lost hope.   That takes my breath away.  Americans are constantly trying to replace the old with the new, like kids tiring of their new toys after 15 minutes and wanting to move on to bigger, shinier, trendier toys.  Barack Obama is no longer new.  We know what his goals are and how he'll seek to accomplish them.  We know that he's, above all, a pragmatist, a negotiator, a strategist.  We know that none of those qualities made it possible for him to alleviate partisan gridlock in our government, or to bring the country back to where it was economically before the whole world's economy went into freefall.  But we, the majority of us, are willing to stick it out with him, to give him another chance. We are willing to forego the illusion of immediate gratification in favor of the hope for a better reality. The American people are acting like adults.  And I have never been prouder to count myself as one of them.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


     I'm posting this from the refuge of my brother-and-sister-in-law's house in Philadelphia, where I just took my first hot shower since Monday morning.  My daughter and I escaped our cold, dark NJ house and drove down here last night when I got home from work (husband stayed home with the dogs), and are hoping against hope that when we get back there tomorrow, our power (electricity, heat, hot water, all those little things we take for granted) will have been restored.  It felt sort of adventurous for the first day or so, heating water over a little propane camping stove, but then the weather started getting colder, and we started relying on our fireplace for heat, and sleeping in the living room, and by yesterday, the thrill was definitely gone.  And yet, we were among the lucky ones.  No major damage to house or property, no one injured.  Our neighbors' giant tree is down in our back yard, but we can live with that until such time as there are tree people who are no longer tied up attending to dire emergencies and can come haul it away. We are safe.
     And an added bonus: this week without the Internet has definitely cured me of my Twitter addiction, cold turkey!  But, now that I'm online, how could it hurt.....