Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The pleasures of home

Here I am, a week at home, with just my enormous manuscript and me. Dear Reader, it's almost 600 pages. I'm on my third, or fourth, or fifth revision, depending on what you count as a revision. During revision, you love the story, you lose the story, you loathe the story. Then you repeat. Each time you experience something like terror. You wonder if you are making it better, or worse. You wonder if you're answering your readers questions. You wonder if you will ever finish this book. Somehow, you do. Somehow, after five or ten or fifty revisions, it's truly finished. A story. A story that works, that brings characters to life and explores the human condition and makes people nod their heads and clutch their hearts and wring their hands. 


Here in providence, spring appears to have finally sprung. Out my window: trees with pink blossoms and trees with green leaves. Sunshine. Blue sky. 

All day, every day, this week I pick up a pen and rewrite, page by page, scene by scene, word by word. And I watch my story start to bloom. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spring!

It's here. That elusive thing called spring. I remember so many years ago when I lived in NYC, how the sight of blossoms and the promise of spring delighted me. Nowadays, spring leaves me saddened by the deaths of my father and Gracie; joyful for the births of Sam and Annabelle. 
It makes me smile, at the pink outside my window; and cry at the unexpected chill, the cold driving rain. 

For you, dear readers:
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171754

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

When all at once I saw a crowd...

...a host, go golden daffodils. 

It's hard not to think of Wordsworth here in spring struck NYC! Everywhere I look: daffodils, crocuses, trees with white or pink blossoms. 

As you know, I've been thinking a lot about the dualities of the heart, how it holds grief and joy, despair and hope, all at the same time. And walking through these Greenwich Village streets yesterday and seeing spring in all its glory brought that duality to mind yet again. A winter with 110 inches of snow, a winter so gloomy it seemed spring might just not come this year. And then here it is in all its glory! As Pablo Neruda said: "You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming."
Are these not words to hold close when our hearts ache? When it seems we are in the midst of an endless winter?


Friday, April 17, 2015

April, the cruelest month

Here I am, sitting in a hotel room in Orlando. Happy. Annabelle near me. Sam about to graduate from NYU and off to do summer stock in Annapolis, MD. My books selling well. A new novel almost finished. Feeling possibility and love and all good things. 

Yet 13 years ago I was in the ICU, beside Grace, praying for her to live. In four hours she would be dead. And my world would feel without possibility. Without hope. I would enter despair like no other. 

Yet. 

Yet. 

Oh the human heart! It never ceases to surprise me. 

If you are reading this and you are feeling hopeless, know that one day you will look up and find wonder again. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

buona pasqua

My Italian-Aerican family celebrates Easter with as much enthusiasm and tradition as we do Christmas (Eve and day). So as I sit here in BWI waiting for my flight home, I'm full of excitement for the upcoming weekend. 

Gogo and I have a tradition of shopping on Federal Hill, Providence's Italian section, for special Easter ingredients and then having lunch together before going home and making the macaroni pastera, a crustless pie made from fresh egg noodles cooked in the water in which the Easter ham is cooked and mixed with eggs, cinnamon, Parmesan, and other spices. This is baked Saturday morning, and eaten at noon. Back when Mama Rose and Nonna were alive, we ate it to break not only a fast but also a silence imposed on Good Friday. 

When my dad was alive, he made a secret punch for Saturday night that made everyone...well...really drunk. And Cousin Chip made an enormous paella. In fact we called that night paella night, and it was a badge of honor to survive it without embarrassing yourself. 

These days, Easter Eve is tamer. We host dinner for 8-12 cousins and friends, usually a leg of lamb or pork roast. We color eggs before, and though there have been years that found us dancing in a conga line through my neighborhood, there have also been a few years when a handful of us slept at the beach in our VW van. 

Either way, Easter breakfast will have that ham, and rice pastera, frittatas, fresh cheese, my special cheese soufflĂ©. And a few of us, or many, will be there to share it. 

I hope your own Easter table is full--with family and love and the food that feeds your heart. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Snowy Woodstock

Happy spring! Which for me meant snow here in Woodstock NY. When I was little my mother used to have me repeat this silly poem on the first day of spring: spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is? 
Certainly true yesterday!

The Woodstock Literary Festival is in full swing. I spent the day teaching a workshop in front of a wood fire in the most idyllic setting with the loveliest people ever. 

This afternoon at 4 I'm on a panel with Jane Smiley and Stephen Dobbyns. In between now and then, other panels to attend and the streets of this town to wander. 

I'm staying at the funky wonderful Hotel Dylan in one of the most comfortable beds I've had the pleasure of sleeping in. 

On my mind though as the snow falls are revisions for this new novel of mine. Soon I will take it on a date, me and those 560 pages, and go to it--cutting and tweaking and relentlessly revising. 

This is one reason I've been knitting up a storm! I've brought a shawl I just started here with me. But below is the blanket I knit for Annabelle. 

Monday, March 16, 2015