- Manuscripts from VONA. It has been a looong time since I was in a workshop, and at first I regarded the stack of manuscripts like papers from my students (I think I literally said outloud, “Arrgh! Aren’t I on summer break from teaching?!”). But then I started reading them and fireworks exploded in my head; they were rich and creative and I enjoyed reading them as a peer. I learned as much from reading and critiquing their works as I did having my novel excerpt workshopped, no small thanks to Mat Johnson’s extreme generosity and heart as our mentor and workshop leader.
- Vida by my amazing friend Patricia Engel. Vida is out this Fall; when the galley arrived in the mail I think I nearly squealed with pride. Buy it.
- Blindness by José Saramago. Started reading it before VONA. Still reading. Can I say WOW?
- Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie is one I’m picking up now. It was mentioned several times in workshop, 3 of those mentions occurring during my workshop. Must read.
- The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee. This is a book that is so dark, I can’t immerse myself in it right now. But I also know this is a book I’ll probably savor like I finally did Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, another book that sat next to my bed for 2 years before I picked it up and read it nonstop. The Road, as you know, is a book that I consider perfectly written.
- And I read a rejection letter that had a substantial handwritten note about my story they liked reading (but still rejected). I’ll take it.
- Really? The truth? Nothing. Except this blog. My journal. Dabbling with a few half done essays, including one about my stroke and its impact on my writing and the 2 year recovery process. Thinking and obsessing about my novel and what I want to revise, which I kind of count as writing. I am in a trough void of confidence these days (picture a neverending chorus inside one’s head chanting, “You suck, you suck, you suck, you suck…”). But VONA has recharged me. Couldn’t have come at a better time, really.
- But I did send out a bunch of stories. Spent enough on postage to miss the money.
- Nigella’s cooking show on the new (and so much better than Food Network) Cooking Channel. I want her to take care of me.
- Jamie Oliver’s cooking show. I don’t think he meant to be funny, but…
- Per Mat Johnson’s recommendation, Children of Men. A grim movie but one that tells a story in a non-stupid way.
- See happenings below, for the sights on our road trip.
- A special meal at Poppy in Seattle and savoring its thali-centric menu.
- Albion strawberries from the farmer’s market.
- The McGangBang (McChicken sandwich inside of a Double Cheeseburger):
Pizzaiolo. Caffe Intermezzo salad. Lots of fast food on the road. All a blur.
We ate a sh*t-ton of road food this month–such that the first thing I did when I got home was make chicken matzo ball soup.
- One of my friends is sick and without health insurance. She is starting radiation and chemo this week. Pray for her. Send lots of positive thoughts. She is worth praying for, you won’t regret it. Let’s put it this way: she is the kind of person, who despite her diagnosis sent ME a get well gift when she heard about my brief ER/Trauma visit:
- Road trip to Seattle!
- Road trip to Seattle…where I got hit by a car. The first thing I saw in Seattle was Harborview’s ER Trauma 1 center.
- I pretty much HATED Seattle after getting hit by a car, which happened my very very first morning in the city. (I’d literally left the hotel and walked 20 paces when I got hit by a car while walking in the crosswalk on a green light). I tried eating a sandwich from Salumi, but it was an incredibly average two bites (I stopped eating it in my malaise). But guess what? My friend Tara saved Seattle’s honor by inviting me to join her for dinner at Poppy, to which I limped via cab (pain) and thoroughly enjoyed (thank you so so so much, Tara, especially for the wonderful conversation and hospitality even if I was distracted by pain and unable to laugh for fear of rib pain):
- Then, road trip back from Seattle. I love the surprising things you see on the road.Like, the people from Little People, Big World driving alongside you:
And Mount Shasta, which isn’t so much surprising as it is stunning. I swear, as I grow older, I become more and more like my parents, who are Korean, and thus obsessed with mountains as I have become:
Happiness and hope in a car:
Not enough room in an 18 wheeler for your stuff, so…
- One of my short stories, sent to a litmag, was returned to me in its original envelope. The stamps were not cancelled. The envelope had been opened and taped back up. The contents were still inside. The post office said the address was wrong. Who opened up the envelope? And did they read my story?
- VONA. Workshop with Mat Johnson, which was an amazing experience, the highlight of June. He is smart and funny and compassionate.
- I also met Tayari Jones irl!
- My dogs went to the vet. Not exciting. Except they both took simultaneous dumps in the exam room before the vet walked in. And when I limped-walked to get a paper towel, I stepped in one of the dumps (didn’t realize that was happening behind me on the floor). Total shitstorm. These are my 2 wiener dogs planning the whole thing, en route to the vet:
- My 17 year old Wiener Dog lost a front tooth. This is after the vet appt. We don’t know where the tooth is. Is this how it happens? They just start falling apart?
In sum, I looked out the window today and saw sunlight, and leaves rustled by a slight breeze. My dogs are sleeping on the couch, and Jónsi is playing on the stereo. My aches and pains and recurring sadnesses are not much in the Universe. I’m in love with my husband and he, with me. I’m able to hug my friends and family. Hell, I have friends to hug. I feel thankful.
p.s. this feeling of peace/contentment/satisfaction will dissipate at any moment.