Tag Archives: Judy Blume

Sunday Salon/Currently … October Surprises

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So much to tell you this week.  First and foremost, though, my thoughts are with all who are being affected by Hurricane Matthew and his aftermath. I know several of our friends and family had some stressful days this week and others are still dealing with the storms. And Haiti–my God, what a heartbreaking situation.

Speaking of storms, I can’t even with the political storm surrounding Donald Trump’s 2005 commentary about being able to grope any woman he pleases because he’s “a star.” Why anyone is shocked by this is beyond me, because all one needs to do is reference any of his rants on women (or anyone else, frankly) to know this is the Republican nominee’s true colors. I’d considered writing a post about such, but you probably have a pretty good idea of my thoughts on the matter. If not, they’re summed up pretty succinctly by the “You’re So Vain” video by the Patriotic Artists and Creatives PAC, which marks the first time ever that the incomparable Carly Simon allowed “You’re So Vain” to be used for political purposes. It’s perfect.

And in the poetry realm, Pittsburgh poet Jeff Oaks (who I was honored to read with at Acquired Taste) pens “The God Abandons Donald Trump: a dream”.  (“Now the smoke of sharpening scythes clings to your ties; the voices of the women you thought you’d smothered in gold are rematerializing.“) A great poem.

fierce-reads-fall-2016-tour-october-2016

YA author panel of Caleb Roehrig, Emma Mills, Anna Banks and Marissa Meyer being interviewed by Julie Hakim Azzam. October 4, 2016, Pittsburgh, PA. Photo taken by me.

We missed most of the Vice Presidential debates this week (Good God, was that just this week?) because we were at the Fall 2016 Fierce Reads Tour featuring YA authors Marissa Meyer, Anna Banks, Caleb Roehrig, and Emma Mills.  The Girl loves Marissa Meyer’s books, so she was the main attraction for us, but all of the authors were incredibly funny and entertaining. We especially enjoyed Caleb Roehrig, who we talked with after the event. His first novel Last Seen Leaving was published that same day and I started reading it while in line to get our books signed. I can already tell it is one I’m likely to enjoy.

the-literary-others-an-lgbt-reading-event-oct-2016There’s an LGBTQ storyline in Last Seen Leaving, which makes it a fitting edition to The Literary Others.  I’m participating in this LGBT Reading Event which is being hosted by Adam of Roof Beam Reader in honor of LGBT History Month. This week I read I’ll Give You Something to Cry About, a novella by Jennifer Finney Boylan about a family on a road trip trying to find their place in each other’s lives and the world. I loved this story, just as I loved her memoir I’m Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted about living in a haunted house (on Philadelphia’s Main Line!) and her journey as a transgendered person.

I’m currently reading Just Kids by Patti Smith (we’re doing an event at work with Patti tomorrow night, and I’m really hoping to finish this in time) and in the car, I’m listening to The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman.

ill-give-you-something-to-cry-aboutjust-kidsthe-gay-revolution

Writing … 
So grateful to my friend Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan, also a Pittsburgh blogger, who mentions my very short Halloween story “Extractions” in her post “Writers in Pittsburgh Are Going to Be Busy.”  This came as quite the surprise, especially since the Google Alert I have on every version of my name didn’t pick it up. Thank you, Elizabeth!

judy-blume-paperback-of-in-the-unlikely-eventblurb-in-the-unlikely-event

Another surprise was discovering that my review of Judy Blume’s In the Likely Event was blurbed (with my name!) in the paperback edition!  I can’t believe it. This was a review I’d published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in June 2015, and I had no idea about this until The Girl showed me last night. Crazy!

 

OK, time for a little reading before making the popcorn for tonight’s presidential debate and whatever surprises await us then.

 

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In the Unlikely Event You Meet Judy Blume (Yes, THE Judy Blume) and Have No Clue You’ve Been Blurbed in Her Book

The Girl:  “Mom, did you know you’re quoted in the new Judy Blume book?”

This announcement greets me as I’m preparing dinner, as I tend to do.

“Um … excuse me, what, sweetie?”

She holds out the paperback version of In the Unlikely Event and there it is.

blurb-in-the-unlikely-event

(As a friend pointed out, my blurb has MY NAME where all the others just list the publication. My name … in Judy Blume’s book!)

Here’s the best part about this.  Obviously, I read an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of this one and wrote my review (from whence this blurb came) for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in June 2015.

judy-blume-paperback-of-in-the-unlikely-eventFast forward a year. This summer, Judy Blume visited Pittsburgh on her tour promoting the paperback edition. Of course The Girl and I were there, among a sold-out crowd. As part of our ticket price, we were given a copy of the book, which I had her sign. Little did I know, my review (and did I mention my name?!) was included!

Needless to say, I had no idea. I’m completely stunned. I’ve provided a blurb upon request, but to my knowledge I’ve never been blurbed like this before and certainly not in a novel by one of literature’s icons.

What an absolute thrill!

 

 

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sequel (47/99)

“When you were 15, what did you think you’d be doing now?”

We were at lunch and my co-worker had posed the question as part of a conversation we were having about the pressure to go immediately to a four year college, rather than saving a significant amount of money by taking basic classes elsewhere (such as at a community college) or by pursuing a trade.

I knew my answer immediately.

“I was going to be living in New York City, writing my latest bestselling novel (the first bestseller having been published by the time I was 18, of course) and having a fabulous career.”

(If those words sound familiar, you either knew me when I was 15 or you’ve watched at least the first 15 seconds of my Listen to Your Mother video.)

At 47, the closest I am to living in the Big Apple is the fact that we have an apple tree in our backyard.  In Pittsburgh.  And yes, I have a career, the same one for the past 25 years now and one that I generally like and (in my opinion) am pretty good at.  And I am indeed writing a novel (or a memoir, or a collection of linked stories) — the same one I’ve been writing on and off for years, and which probably won’t be a bestseller because my last name isn’t Kardashian.

Several times this week my younger years have crept into my present. They’re always there, of course — they’re not called one’s formative years for nothing.  I’m sure that has to do with the release of my Listen to Your Mother video since my piece focuses on my teenage years in a significant way. I also spent Tuesday evening in the company of the one and only Judy Blume, who wrote the script for my adolescence and every else’s in the sold out crowd.  (I know, I promised you a post. I’m working on it.)

My girl and I got to the Judy Blume lecture more than 90 minutes early, snagging a good spot in line and seats in the third row. While we waited, I started re-reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret on my Kindle. As I posted on Facebook, there’s only one book to read while waiting for Judy Blume.

Are You There God

(Incidentally, did you know that Judy Blume wrote Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret in approximately six weeks?!  It’s true; she told us so herself on Tuesday night.)

So I sat there reading and being transported back in time to my pre-teen self. My girl’s main reason for coming was to “see an icon” (clearly, I’ve taught her well) and to get an autographed copy of Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret for HER best friend, who lives in Texas and who she had plans with for today.

Those plans changed due to a death in their family, but we still managed to get the girls together for a quick breakfast at Panera this morning. While the girls sat inside laughing and talking for an hour and catching up, I sat outside on the patio, finishing Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and keeping an eye on the girls without being intrusive on their conversation.

It felt somewhat surreal, watching the bond between my girl and her BFF and reading this pivotal book from when I was almost their age.  I believe books (even ones we’ve read previously) have a way of finding us when we need them most, not unlike how a good friend shows up when we’re struggling.

The themes within Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret of changing bodies, friendships, and questioning the beliefs handed down from one’s parents seem especially resonant for both me and my girl right now.  We’re both dealing with changing dynamics within friendships and while neither real-life story is one that can be told in this space, suffice it to say both have been difficult and painful journeys.

On Tuesday night, I was trying to think of a question for Judy Blume that wasn’t the usual stuff of author Q & A (“how do you get your ideas?”  “what advice do you have for aspiring writers?”). This morning, it occurred to me that I would love to know what Margaret Simon, Nancy Wheeler, Gretchen Potter, and Janie Loomis are up to now at 58 years old. Did Margaret ever find religion or is she still searching?

Sitting at the Panera reading Judy Blume, I was mentally kicking myself for not asking her if she had ever considered writing a sequel of sorts to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

While seeing life come full circle by watching my girl and her friend, I realized that perhaps we didn’t need a sequel to know how their lives turned out.

Life has already written it for us.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #47 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

 

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sunday salon: a laid-back, do-it-yourself kind of mother’s day

 

Mothers Day 2015

Mothering:
Today is a low-key, very laid back kind of Mother’s Day. Hardly recognizable from any other Sunday, actually, which is fine with me.  Both of our mothers have been called, the requisite Facebook sentiments have been posted, and …that’s about it. I’m perfectly fine with Mother’s Day being an ordinary Sunday as it wasn’t that long ago (and yet, a lifetime ago) when this was a much more bittersweet holiday. Compared to that, I’ll take average and ordinary any day.

Still, I did take advantage of the occasion to purchase some gifts for myself.

Mothers Day 2015

 

(Why yes, you observant thang, there is a missing bottle of wine in the Barefoot Merlot four-pack. That’s because it was purchased and consumed on Friday night.)

And this arrived in Friday’s mail:

Mothers Day 2015 - Be BraveI wanted a Bravelet for various reasons, namely as a motivator and inspiration for writing about some things that I feel compelled to write more about, but at times struggle with. It’s also a reminder of times I’ve needed to be brave, because sometimes we tend to forget the hard stuff we’ve been through when the here and now shows up.  Finally, and most importantly, it’s a way for me to support the phenomenal work of the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation, an organization that is very personal to me.  ($10 from each Bravelet goes to a cause of your choosing, such as BYMRKH.)

Writing
Along with 1,600 other hopefuls, I applied to be a Book Riot contributor. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but I’m okay with that. (Here’s the funny thing about starting to send more stuff out into the world: in some ways, the rejection gets a little bit easier. There’s no shortage of places to submit to. If you’re not right for one gig or the piece isn’t right for one publication, there will be another coming along.)

This week, one of those places was The Philadelphia Review of Books. Poetry editor John Ebersole put out a call for political poems and stated he would publish them on the spot.  I had been thinking about hearing Desmond Tutu speak five years ago in Baltimore and the recent riots. The result was “Baltimore, April 2010” which appeared on The Philadelphia Review of Books’ blog along with more than 100 other poetry submissions. Go read them, as these folks are some fantastic company.

Listening

Salt Sugar FatIn the car, I’m still listening to Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. It’s fascinating and sobering to learn the marketing and product development strategies behind some of the best-known brands. Scott Brick narrates the audio of this, and I just love him.

Reading

In the Unlikely Event

Last night I started the soon-to-be-released (June 2) Judy Blume novel, In the Unlikely Event, which I’m reviewing for the Post-Gazette. Here’s what I can say about this, as of page 31: this is definitely going to appeal to those of us of a certain age who grew up reading Judy’s books. We’ll see if that continues to hold true throughout, but trust me when I say that the nostalgia factor is strong with this one.

For those who celebrate this day and embrace all that it is, for those who look at this Sunday as just another day, and for those who, understandably, find Mother’s Day difficult for any myriad of reasons, know this: today and every day, you are and always will forever be mom enough, no matter what. Happy Mother’s Day.

 

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the sunday salon: april reading, judy in june

The Sunday Salon

Currently // My usual Sunday morning-into-early afternoon perch on the sofa, perusing the Pittsburgh and Philly newspapers along with Facebook and blog posts. On tap for today is grocery shopping and some household chores I need to get to (cleaning the showers … ugh).

What I’d Rather Be Doing // Sitting on the deck reading. It’s a gorgeous day. Finally, spring in the ‘Burgh. About goddamned time.

Reading, April recap // Thanks to the Read-a-thon and several very short books, I read seven books in April. A record month in a year that’s shaping up to be slow going, reading wise, but fantastic in quality. There are just too many damn good books out there.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler (audio)
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, by Alexandra Fuller
Leaving Before the Rains Come, by Alexandra Fuller
Deep Lane: Poems, by Mark Doty
We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My Sunshine Away, by M.O. Walsh (audio)
Acorn, by Yoko Ono

Of these, My Sunshine Away will be making an appearance on my favorites list for 2015 (loved that one!) and there’s a good chance Leaving Before the Rains Come, Deep Lane, and Z will also show up there.

Reading, currently // I just finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Expect a full review here later today or (most likely) tomorrow, since the pivotal event in the novel occurs on May 3.

Next up will probably be the new Judy Blume novel, due June 2.

Yes. You read that correctly.

NEW. JUDY. BLUME.

Here it is.

In the Unlikely Event

I’m reviewing this one for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and yes, I fangirled my heart out when this was assigned to me. Although, can we talk about that cover? I mean, It looks kind of … amateurish and cheesy, don’t you think? This is a new book by Judy freakin’ Blume we’re talking about here. She’s a goddamn icon. Surely someone can do better than that for a cover, hmm?

Listening // Still listening to Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss and vowing not to eat another thing ever again.

Writing // The Girl took part in a teen program at the library yesterday, leaving me with a chunk of uninterrupted, quiet time to write. I brought my laptop up to the main reference room area and … total writer’s block. I suppose that’s to be expected; I was stunned to see that November was the last time I’d touched The Novel in Progress. It had also been over a week since I wrote anything besides work-related stuff – so it was like dusting off the mental cobwebs.

Sigh.

Wishing // My wonderful sister-in-law a very happy 40th birthday!

Feeling: Ancient and lazy. I swear, if I see one more Facebook picture of a high school friend’s kid going to their senior prom or graduating college or doing the stuff it seems like I was just doing five goddamn minutes ago, I may lose my mind.

Not to mention, every one of my friends has become an Olympian all of a sudden. For real, you’re either running Boston or the Pittsburgh Marathon or the Broad Street Run. Meanwhile, my lower back and ass are killing me today because I carried my laptop, bookbag and 510 lb. purse up one floor of the library’s steps. (Hey, I could have taken the damn elevator.)

Speaking of Facebook pictures, I’m more and more convinced the Duchess of Windsor is not real, you guys. Did you see her, 10 hours after having that baby, looking as fanfuckingtastic as ever? Jesus H. Christ. Of course, you know if she walked out of the hospital in sweats and what have you that would be what everyone would be yammering about. But, still.  I can’t. I just can’t.

Hoping // That The Boy will go back to school tomorrow. He’s been sick with pneumonia for more than a week (today is Day 10). The coughing has gotten much better, but he’s still not himself, especially in the mornings. He’s sick of being sick and we’re getting frustrated with the slow progression of things.

Happy Sunday, kids. Hope you all have a great week ahead.

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