There are approximately sixty-one playgrounds in Gainesville, Florida.
I know them well—Oh, tiny play house at Tioga Town that someone I know accidentally peed in, Oh, Spinny Thing of Death at Westside, Oh, condom wrapper my kids thought was candy at Fred Cone Park, Oh, dirt throwing… everywhere.
I say “approximately” sixty-one playgrounds because a swings-only park, like Bivens Arm, would hold any three year old’s attention for about two seconds. (Also, I Googled it, and up came articles regarding R-rated goings-on there. I never discovered anyone “communing with nature,” but I won’t suggest taking kids there, just in case.)
In my opinion, the better sections of many of the nature parks in the city are the hiking trails. Continue reading Playground Burnout? Find a Tree to Hug.
Immediately after Roberto, the kids, and I moved cross-town in January, Kid Number One was thrown into a month-long tailspin of depression and tantrums. It turned out one mom’s boxy, charmless two-bedroom apartment was one little guy’s “home.”
Continue reading “Home” is Where Your Hot Wheels Are
Pregnant with Kid Number One, I imagined us one day binding a primitive-looking Moleskine-esque collection of books. The visions I had were soft-lit; maybe we were in home-sewn clothes too because, hey, this was a fantasy, and having children, to me, meant latent Little House on the Prairie skills would finally come forth, a complex phenomenon born of the miracle workings of emergence. My little boy, who I also imagined would tumble from the womb aged four years old, would write imaginative and brilliant fiction while I wrote my stand-up routine or creative nonfiction. We would nest ourselves in a swirl of blankets I would have knitted or crocheted; honestly, I don’t know the difference. Like all pre-parenting dreams, the details were fuzzy.
Now, as a card-carrying mom-type person, I know that finding the time, means, and space to write is almost as impossible as me learning to sew or getting my kids to put down the light sabers to sit still to glue together old timey books.
But the dream, while on life support, is not dead.
Continue reading Writing Awards for Parents: the Dream, While on Life Support, is Not Dead
Gay Talese’s writing was a source of inspiration for me as a young journalist who didn’t have a degree from J-School and who, frankly, back at the office after her first selectmen’s meeting, cursor pulsing, couldn’t figure how to structure a news story.
Talese’s journalism had the shape and style of good fiction, which is what I liked to read best. He inserted cinematic scenes, dialogue. He experimented with diary structure and James Joyce’s stream-of-conscious style with deeply reported material. He delayed “news pegs,” or the part of the story that shows why it is important to run it now, why it is newsworthy, and waited till the final paragraph to reveal a notable person’s name the story was about.
His aim was to shine a light on the “losers,” to show the struggle to win, to be great. As Barbara Lounsberry wrote in her introduction to The Gay Talese Reader: Portraits and Encounters, a collection that sits on my bookshelf, “He wanted to write about the overlooked nonnewsworthy population that is everywhere, but rarely taken into account by journalists and other chroniclers of reality.”
So did I.
Continue reading Gay Talese Has a Cold (Answer)
My dad is on the road again.
Nine years ago today, the two of us were in snowy West Virginia, getting very little shut-eye at a Jane Lew rest area. We were bunking in his Covenant Transport eighteen-wheeler after three weeks on the road together, and he had woken me with a jab to the side at 2:45 a.m., disrupting a dream I was having about Mulder and Scully teaching me to ballroom dance.
The road trip that inspired the travel memoir was coming to a sleepless close. Continue reading Sightless in Seattle
In a rare quiet moment yesterday, I found myself explaining to Kid Number One—with questionable accuracy—how maple syrup in made. We were looking at a very tree-looking tree in the park, a tree that was not a maple, but served as a nice stand-in. He repeated each step, and at the end of my lesson, we looked at each other and smiled, with a sweetness I, daresay, that rivaled that of any Grade A, Fancy.
Unfortunately, all of these steps Curious George taught me, not my New England upbringing or a sap-loving sugar shack farmer.
Continue reading Fallout of Working from Home: Introversion Resurge
Maybe it’s due in part to our recent cross-town move, but for the past two weeks I’ve been devouring travel writing. World Hum lead me to read Tim Cahill’s Pecked to Death by Ducks, which lead me to rent A Walk in the Woods. The last one is based on one of my favorite Bill Bryson books about him hiking the Appalachian Trail with his wonderfully fat friend “Stephen Katz.” The pair ate Little Debbie snack cakes, and Bryson puffed on a pipe for the length of trail they managed to get through.
It got me thinking: are there women out there with toddlers who are penning great travel stuff? Christine Gilbert of almost fearless, a blogger I’ve mentioned before, is one example of a woman doing it and doing it well. But what about us wannabe travel writers who don’t have much money and are homebound with their kids?
Continue reading Travel Writing for Stay-at-Home Moms
It being December 31, a Ryan Seacrest year-end wrap-up is in order.
I began this blog in October as a dominant arm of the powerful Sarah Wolfgang Publicity Machine I was building and strongly alluding to in my book proposal. I will bring the people. We will hit nine thousand copies sold in the first week of publication and land easily on The New York Times Best Sellers List.
Continue reading 2015: A Book Proposal, Intercontinental Travel with Toddlers, and One Unattended 5K
In 2010, I went with my Goucher College classmates to a writerly nerd’s Disney World: The New Yorker office, The New York Times (I texted family and friends from the bathroom), several publishing houses, and the offices of an editor and two literary agents.
Continue reading Tackling a Book Proposal in Two Weeks: Part 2
In August, I made a concerted and mega-rushed two-week effort to get my book proposal from nothingness (The Agent: “And remind me: did you write up a proposal for the manuscript?”) to a winning sprint across the finish line. Continue reading Tackling a Book Proposal in Two Weeks: Part 1