Saturday, May 27, 2006

Surgery Sucks

So, this little carrot top, now named Ava, has come inside. She's living in my writing room now, where she has her own food, her own bed, and a little company from me.

There will be no kittens. Yesterday we took her to our regular vet, and got the whole battery done: vaccines, tests, spay. I'm a little bummed that she won't get to be a mom, but we can commiserate on our childlessness. And she likes to cuddle. She also likes to stretch out, as you can see above.

She's smart. While we were out shopping, she took off her e-collar and hid it. She really didn't like that thing. She may also be a kleptomaniac. Things have been moving mysteriously around this room.

She is getting used to the dog, and is proving via the other indoor cats that sharing an enemy makes you closer. I keep catching the two boy cats napping together. We still may not keep her, if she doesn't figure out how to be nice to Angus. So if you know anyone who is looking...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I Don't Watch Idol, But I Do Read This.

I've become a fan of Susan DiPlacido's coverage of American Idol. Much better than the show itself, especially since Elliott (who spells his name RIGHT) was eliminated. I've tried to watch a few times, to get some ammo for the watercooler discussion, but usually give up before it's over.

Who needs to watch, though? Read this. DiPlacido writes some of the best TV criticism I've seen. And I'm sure she'll have plenty to say after tonight's big finale.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

At This Rate, It's 2+ Years to Crappy First Draft...

I promised myself to write 300 words a day on my new novel, ALMA. That ain't much, and even that ain't happening. Blame my day job, blame the pets, blame my knitting projects, blame CSI reruns every night on SpikeTV. Blame my generally happy life, in which I actually enjoy doing things other than writing. Blame my tired ass, too tired to get up at 5:00, like all the hardcore writers do, or stay up late, like all the drinky writers do. Blame the part of me that would rather do crossword puzzles and read on the subway.

Still, it's happening. Slowly but surely. It's literally taken me a month to have my character walk four blocks. True, she does think a lot on those blocks. And I'm walking those same blocks, literally, looking for metaphors and a little exercise. So I'm pushing out maybe 900 words a week.

Glacial. But I like the material. Glaciers can be exciting.

Or maybe it's more like unpacking a box. It's a dusty box, left behind by someone dead. I'm looking hard at each thing I take out of it. For clues. Connections. History. The Meaning of Life. Soul.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Where the Dogs Wear Shoes

Our Wilbur has a certain gait when we take him into Manhattan to see his dermatologist. (Okay, call me a yuppie freak! I don't care! This doctor is really helping him!) Look at that tail. Chin up, sniffing the city air, looking at the tall buildings. A little freaked out and excited.


Plus, the garbage cans smell extra delicious. And you occasionally see things like this:

More Listening: For My Fellow Podcast Addicts

A couple podcasts worth sharing lately:

1. Thanks to Moorishgirl for her tip about the Pen America media archives. They also have a podcast subscription available, which you can paste into your ITunes or find within ITunes podcast search. One very inspirational discussion: the 4/28/06 installment of George Saunders interviewing Israeli short story writer Etgar Keret. Keret is hilarious, which you probably knew already but it was a great discovery for me. And moving too. He talks about the taboos of Israel--he got hassled for naming a kitten "Rabin" in a story--and about his father, a holocaust survivor. The message in school for Keret was that if you weren't in the holocaust, you can never understand. But his father amended that cultural bias, telling him that though the feelings of the holocaust were intense, they were the same feelings anyone has: fear, hunger, cold. This is a good thing for any writer to hear, that it is possible--and acceptable--to imagine the pain of another. Of course Saunders gets in a few zingers too, as usual. His take on writing programs and the stories they encourage: "if the marriage is in trouble, there has to be a sick tree in the front yard." Hope I quoted that right...enjoy the whole podcast.

2. Frank McCourt reads from TEACHER MAN on Authors on Tour Live. He's a lively speaker, and a teacher's life is full of material. Reminds me why I left that life behind. I do not miss grading papers.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Want to Take This Dreamsicle Home?


Well, we have a new addition to our feral colony, which is exactly what we were trying to avoid. What is it about our backyard? Could it be she was looking to Vince for mob protection? Or, is my husband some kind of modern-day St. Francis of Assisi?

Anyway, here she is, and the good news is she's tame. We've looked for her people at city shelters, and no one has reported a cat missing by her description. And orange females are rare. Want to take her home?

She's about 7 months old, likes to be petted, tolerates the other cats all right, but does not like the dog. We'll take care of the neuter, vaccines, and FLV/FIV testing if you're interested. Any takers? Look at those gorgeous eyes! If you're not convinced yet, here's a back view--look at those tangerine stripes!


Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Comic Duo Worth Checking Out

I've been curious about WHICH BRINGS ME TO YOU, the new epistolary novel by Julianna Baggott and Steve Almond, ever since reading Almond's article in P&W this month, then hearing his interview with Dennis Loy Johnson on Moby Lives Radio. Baggott came up with an interesting solution to a common problem: how does one write two narrators and have the voices distinct? Have two writers, that's how. Then you get fringe benefits too, like a built-in editor, a little healthy competition to motivate, and especially the funnest part of writing: you actually don't know where the story is headed.

But too, you have to deal with conflict and compromise. The healthy competition can turn unhealthy on a dime. You may stop enjoying each other's company. You may even want to kill each other. These are the risks of collaboration.

I went to their reading last night in NYC and found myself wondering if the lingering conflict between them is shtick or reality. I'm thinking it's a bit of both. They corrected each other during Q&A, and openly acknowledged the dark side of collaboration. But, their novel is based on a fairly gimmicky premise--boy and girl, both bad at love, meet at a wedding, then write confessional letters to each other--and Almond points out that had the writers not encountered conflict in the process, their narrators might not have transcended the gimmick into the meat of a real relationship.

Did I mention they are funny? Both of them. So I urge you to go hear them bicker in person (and read from the book). They have some tour left. Here's a schedule. I haven't read the book yet, but I plan to.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm Reading Sunday May 7 in Brooklyn

Next Sunday evening I'll read at Cheryl B's series in my old neighborhood. I'm stoked, it's usually a fun, lively crowd. Plus, I don't have to go into Manhattan.

Reading with me will be poets Joel Allegretti and Cynthia Bruckman, and fiction writer Brett Berk. Looks like an interesting lineup.

May 7th 7 PM

Atomic Reading Series
Lucky 13 Saloon
273 13th St. (5th Ave.)
Park Slope, Brooklyn

For more info. and reader bios here.