Never Say …

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Last Saturday I ran a half marathon. For the second time this year. If you had told me I would do this ten years ago when picked up running as a very casual hobby (5K here, 8K there, that 10K everyone in my city does),  I would have looked you dead in the eye and said “nope, no way, not me.” Because, thirteen miles. Thirteen. Miles. The first time I ran that 10K, I thought that the six-mile training runs might actually kill me. Six mile runs are the light end of the training for a half marathon. I’ve now actually heard myself utter the crazy words: “just six miles today.” Just. Six. Miles. Continue reading

What’s On …

Just a few little notes about what’s on my playlist, my nightstand, and my stove these days.

On my playlist: I mentioned the Spilled Milk podcast briefly when I featured Molly Wizenburg’s book, Delancey, in Books and Brews a couple of months ago, but I’m still listening, and so I’m mentioning it again. It’s two comedians/writers (Molly & Matthew Amster-Burton) talking about food. Everything from lima beans to espresso. I’ve learned some things along the way, (like how it’s the length of time that the water spends in contact with the grounds that determines the amount of caffeine in your cup) but mostly I just love this one because it’s laugh-out-loud-while-walking-to-work funny. I think the best podcasts feel like you’re dropping in on a really great conversation between friends, and Spilled Milk hits exactly that mark. A couple of my very favorite episodes are Peanut Butter Cookies and S’mores. Continue reading

Full Stop.

Tuesday night I was eating dinner at my kitchen counter and catching up on reading e-mails. You know the ones that you know have good nuggets of information in them, but you don’t have the time to read them in the moment they arrive, so you leave them unread until you can give them your undivided attention. Like the ones from that half marathon training team coach, or that person whose take on marketing for creatives you love. Those e-mails. All 30 something* of them. (*May or may not be a gross underestimation of the actual number.)

At some point, I took a break from mindlessly chewing, looked up from my phone, and saw this outside my window:

img_2698And I thought isn’t that pretty before turning back to my bowl, back to those e-mails. Which is when this tiny voice inside my head grew big lungs and screamed STOP.

I put down the spoon, set aside the phone and watched the sun dip low behind that building. The yellow blending to orange and then ending in pink wisps. Art. Perfectly framed in the window.

But only for a moment.

 

Books & Brews: Triple Love Score / Sweet Potato Sage Ale

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Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a story I love with a pint to sip while reading it. 

Brandi Megan Granett had me at poetry professor and anonymous online Scrabble poet. I’m a sucker for a story with some sort of university connection. Throw in some unexpected online fame and I’m totally intrigued. Granett’s, Triple Love Score, tells the story of Miranda, who teaches poetry at a small upstate New York college and for fun starts making small poems of words related to a theme on a Scrabble board and posting them to social media as Blocked Poet. Her posts start to gather a huge following, and when she signs on with a high-powered brand manager her popularity soars and suddenly there are book deals and merchandise and cross-country book tours in support of her brand. All good and well, except her old-friend Scott has reappeared after a six-year, unexplained absence. (By old-friend, I mean man with whom she was in love and waited for, before giving up and allowing her love to morph into anger.) And he’s brought his daughter with him. All this happens at the same time Miranda is in the midst of a fun, no-strings-attached, fling with Ronan— who’s headed home to Ireland in a few weeks. Which means it’s all very deliciously complicated.

Here’s what I loved about Triple Love Score: Continue reading

Bookends

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My October weekends have been filled with all sorts of writer-ly, bookish goodness! Two weekends ago I did a reading at the Slover Library in Norfolk, this past weekend I moderated two panels at the James River Writers Conference, and tomorrow I’m headed to Philadelphia to attend the Women’s Fiction Writers Association’s regional conference. It’s odd how things lump together like this, isn’t it? How you’ll go months without any weddings, and then have three friends getting married in the course of five weeks. Or you’ll go six months without seeing your extended family and then seem them repeatedly in the one month span between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Seems like fall is the season for book events, at least in my little section of the east coast. Therefore, I’m officially renaming October weekends: “bookends.” (Get it, like books and weekends …)

Anyway, bad wordplay aside– in celebration of this bookish season, I thought I’d share img_2674some pictures and the excerpt of How to be Alive that I read at Slover, just for fun.

Setup: The scene takes place not long after the death of the main character’s fiancé. She’s trying to reach a panini press on the top shelf of a closet to make herself a grilled cheese sandwich (comfort food): Continue reading

What’s On …

Just a few little notes about what’s on my playlist, my nightstand, and my stove these days.

On my playlist: The other night I was looking for some music to listen to while Mike and I cooked dinner. I asked if he had any suggestions, and he threw out The Barenaked Ladies. Do you ever sort of forget about an album only to stumble on it again and be totally transported? Their album Stunt was on heavy rotation in the first apartment I lived in post-college, and Rock Spectacle was the first gift I gave Mike when we started dating some 15-some years ago. Listening makes me grateful for the memories, and simultaniously grateful for today.

Continue reading

Care & Feeding In Albuquerque

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At the end of September, I retreated. I spent four magical days in Albuquerque, New Mexico surrounded by other authors, learning and editing and talking and listening and laughing and writing and just being… still. Which is something I’ve talked a lot about14457348_10211129525020922_5240464678755916991_n here lately– this idea of rest and stillness, and the fact that it seems simultaneously necessary and a bit out of reach.

Leading up to the trip, I was very aware of what hadn’t happened since I attended last year. Most specifically that I hadn’t finished a book. I felt a little queasy about admitting I was still working on it. That it had been a slow year. That I still wasn’t quite sure where the whole thing was 14354956_10211120518395762_4196198396467923707_ngoing. And then suddenly I was in the Atlanta airport and there were familiar faces. People that I had become accustomed to seeing only as tiny square profile pictures were right there, in person. Giving hugs. And I knew instantly that this was going to be everything I needed.

Post retreat, Jessica Topper, wrote a lovely reflection in which she described the experience as “the care and feeding of writers.” I keep coming back to that phrase. About how really when I talk about rest and stillness, I think I’m talking about being kind to myself and seeking experiences that nourish instead of tearing down. I didn’t sleep all that much more than usual in Albuquerque, but I was heard, understood and encouraged. And I have rested. Now to finish that book …

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Huge thanks to Women’s Fiction Writers Association for creating this fabulous tribe (and especially to Orly Konig and the conference committee) and to Barbara Claypole White, Jessica Topper, and Mindy Miller for the photos in this post (because we all know I’m terrible at documenting my travels, or mostly anything except food & beer).

Books & Brews: Delancey / Legend Brewery’s Oktoberfest

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Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a story I love with a pint to sip while reading it. 

I’m mostly a fiction reader, as is fiercely evident in a scroll through my previous Books & Brews posts. However, if I had to pick a close second– it would be memoirs. Specifically memoirs that involve food. I loved Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michelle Maisto’s  The Gastronomy of Marriage. I bought and cooked liver after Julie Powell made it sound so romantic in Julie & Julia. And… I can stop, clearly using “liver’ and “romantic” in the same sentence adequately demonstrates my love. Anyway, I was doing a little updating on Goodreads recently and noticed this delicious memoir* that I had added some time ago and figured I was due for a little break from the fiction. This month I read Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg. (*I think I’m going to officially call the sub-genre of memoir about food: “delicious memoir.”)

The book chronicles the birth of a business. It starts with the author’s husband making the proclamation that he is going to open a restaurant that serves the New York style pizza he loves, because he is unable to find an acceptable substitute in Seattle. She assumes it’s just another of his fleeting interests (like violin making or ship-building), but his interest doesn’t wane this time. Suddenly there’s a lease and a space to remodel and staff to hire and pizzas to make, and sides and desserts to plan and prep. Wizenberg’s memoir tells the story of both her whole-hearted involvement in the project and her ultimate decision to step out of the kitchen at Delancey.

Here’s what I loved about the book: Continue reading

I’ve Been Trying to Do It Right

Last Friday night Mike and I went to see The Lumineers. The show was at an outdoor amphitheater and the evening could not have been any more perfect. Just a little heat from the day rising from the concrete and a cool breeze blowing those little hairs at the back of my neck that always slide out of the pile on top of my head. And if the temperature wasn’t enough to make me believe in the promise of fall around the corner, the moon hung low and full and orange in the sky. The band was everything I hoped for when I snapped up the tickets months ago: harmonies, and cellos, and accordions, and suspender wearing drummers, and powerful emotive vocals. And stories. Man, I love it when the songwriter gives a little of the “why” behind their words. And then there was the beer … Continue reading

How Do You Measure A Year?

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I was just scrolling through the pictures on my phone and found some from our trip to Portland. I had the thought: that was something really awesome we did last year. Except we went in March. As in March 2016. Six months ago.

Moments before this I was reflecting on the fact that next week I would be headed back to Albuquerque for a writing retreat and thinking how it certainly didn’t seem like it had been a year since the last one.

There are 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds in every day. The same amount of time, no matter how it’s measured. So how is it that is can feel so different? Has there been so much going on these last six months that it seems like more time must have passed (as in: surely, all that could NOT happened in just six months)? Or is the time since Albuquerque shortened by the fact I’ve kept up with friends online and feel like I just saw them? Perhaps a little of both?

Or maybe none of either.

Maybe tomorrow Portland will seem like yesterday and Albuquerque light years away. Time passes, fast or slow. And maybe it doesn’t matter how close or far away events of the past seem. Yes, it matters that we made those moments and have those memories, but I think maybe what matters more, is moving on to make the next moment. The next connection. The next adventure.