My novel, Pretty, comes out today. You can read an excerpt at the Penguin website.
People have already been telling me they’re getting their copies in the mail. I’m relieved and anxious at the same time, and looking forward to a crazy fall. T is coming with me for most of the book tour, so expect mayhem.
I’m going to giveaway a signed copy to celebrate the release. Just leave a comment here telling me what is the prettiest thing about you. Not limited to outsides, of course. I’ll choose a name at random next Friday, September 9.
I’m still adding tour dates to the website, so keep checking back. The launch party is going to be in Los Angeles at Book Soup on September 7 at 7PM. I’m thrilled that the immensely talented Ricky Berger is going to come do a few songs. Here’s a little teaser:
On Friday, we dragged the whole operation out to the desert to see T-Bone’s first Weezer show in a while. He just doesn’t travel as easily as he once did, when he was a little bit more portable in general and a lot less vocal about his desires. So I don’t take him on tour as much (for now). But he’s just as enthused as he always was about going to see Dad play, so I was glad to be able to indulge him.
Sometimes I can’t believe what a pain in the ass it is just to get us all in the car for a weekend out of town. But as soon as we’re out of the city and the sky opens up, I’m reminded of why we insist on doing it anyway.
Like his mom, T digs the desert. He’ll patiently wait hours to see the windmills that flank the 10 outside of Palm Springs. We didn’t have time to hike in Joshua Tree this trip, but T was happy to spend the mornings splashing in our friend’s pool and the early evenings tearing out across the golf course. And, of course, the nighttime is reserved for rock.
T was a consummate rocker. Pat Wilson slipped him an Oreo and he completely spazzed out from the sugar, bouncing on the furniture and dumping bowls of mixed nuts out on the dressing room floor.
At least someone around our camp knows proper dressing room etiquette.
He nearly fell asleep on a backstage road case halfway through the show, but when I tried to get him to leave and come lie down, he screamed so loudly that everyone in the immediate vicinity turned around to see what was going on. Yup- he actually managed to holler louder than the music. It was a proud moment for a rock mom.
I have a guest blog up at Greg Olear’s Fathermucker website today, in which I recognize that being an artist can often make me a bad parent. Read it to see me cuss not once but three times (and that was edited down significantly).
And here’s the trailer for Greg’s novel, Fathermucker, which comes out October 4. His website says you will like the book if you:
a) have young children, b) enjoy laughter, and c) can’t get the theme songs to various Nick Jr. television programs out of your head. If you are a subscriber to US Weekly, a resident of New Paltz, N.Y, or a stay-at-home dad, that’s icing on the cake.
Sunday we had a playdate with my blog-friend-turned-real-life-friend Kristen and her amazing brood.
The only danger of hanging out with Kristen is that I immediately want three more children. She and Mark are so graceful about the whole thing that it looks like a completely reasonable option. In reality, I got cold feet about a year and a half ago about our second adoption process and it’s been in limbo ever since. I actually touched base with the agency yesterday and asked them to keep our paperwork on hold for another six months.
I just don’t know, folks. I feel so inadequate most of the time, especially when faced with Tariku’s challenges and needs. I feel like I need to get a better handle on this mothering thing before I add another little being to the equation. But is that completely delusional? Will I ever feel like I have a handle on it? For now I’m checking the undecided box and just crashing the party of Kristen’s big family once in a while.
It’s definitely challenging and overwhelming for Tariku to be around more than one friend at a time. In all, I think he did beautifully. I really saw him trying to figure out how to participate and be kind.
The nice thing about hanging out with some of the other adoptive families I know is that there’s so much less explaining and apologizing to do. They get it. They get that my kid didn’t have parents for a while at a crucial time in his development. It has repercussions We’re working it out. We’re healing. We’re doing great, actually. But our version of doing great looks different that it does for kids who have had a typical attachment cycle in the first three years of life.
I’ve learned so much about all of this- attachment, adoption, parenting, faith, love, community- from my blogger friends. They’ve made me feel less alone on many desperately sad and scared nights. I’m not someone who generally goes to blogging conferences (yet), so it’s a special treat for me to hang out in the flesh with one of my fave blogging moms. One of my fave moms period.
Sometimes I question what I write on this blog. Does anyone really care about my kid’s day out at the beach? Am I engaged in a navel-gazing waste of time when I should be working on an article or another book? And then I remember why I do everything I do- books, plays, blogs, whatever- I do it to connect. And I’ve connected to so much that I value in my life through blogging. I was reminded of that on Sunday.
Yesterday was my 38th birthday and the fam really spoiled the heck out of me. I got flowers and drawings and earrings and this bitchen’ handmade ukulele from Celentano Woodworks, which I’ve been coveting for six months. And T was a gem all day, which is probably coincidental, but I’ll take it.
I’m not usually a big fan of my birthday. It’s not about getting older, exactly. It’s more some inexplicable darkness that seeps in under the doors and around the windows. I’ve spent plenty of b-days in bed. But that was when I got to do things like stay in bed all day.
I’ve since learned that it’s common for adoptees to not like birthdays. When I read that, it made perfect sense. I was finally able to put my finger on that specific birthday darkness I get- it’s loss. A deep, body memory of loss. I came upon that because I was researching T’s adoption, not my own. And once again, the effort I put into Tariku winds up helping me in ways I could never have imagined.
And yesterday, for some reason I didn’t succumb to feeling blue. It washed over me at times during the day, but it passed. We all went to Zuma beach in the late afternoon and I felt kind of serene, in fact. This is how many years I’ve been on the planet. This is what that looks like on my face. This is what I have to show for it.
I can’t always see it. I don’t always feel it. But I’m doing just fine.
Someone at the Griffith Park pony rides called the cops on my babysitter Jen.
Let me tell you about Jen. I’m convinced that Jen is actually some kind of Bodhisattva , who has put off her ascent into Nirvana in order to stick around and offer aid and compassion to the rest of us suffering souls. She is so gentle that I often have to give her my, “you need to be more assertive and learn to say no, just not to me” talk. She’s been taking care of T for years now and I consider her one of the family. I trust her implicitly. I often defer to her wisdom in difficult situations, in fact.
Apparently T was refusing to get into the car (daily occurrence) and was pitching an epic fit about it so she just sat down with him in the dirt until he could calm down. Which took a while. End of story.
An hour later the cops showed up at the door. Someone had witnessed his tantrum and had written down our license plate.
And do you know what the cop said?
Without my saying a word about T, he said, “I read the report and I didn’t even want to come here. I have a three-year-old with special needs and it sounded exactly like what goes on every day at my house.”
I get a little teary thinking about it. Because a moment that could have been shaming and scary turned into this surprising opportunity for understanding and connection.
I don’t know what to say. It gets loud around here. It gets really loud for a really long time. And the absolute best thing we can do sometimes is just sit down and be present with T. I consider it a victory when I can do that and don’t shut down or yell or cuss or cover my ears.
And it’s embarrassing when it happens in public. Yes, it is. But I try to remember that what other people think about my parenting of my screaming child isn’t my concern. My concern is how to give him tools to start learning to regulate his emotions. And while I’m at it to better learn to regulate my own.
2 weeks exactly until the release of Pretty (so not anxious about it at all.) I’m glad I’ve been through this once before already and I know that the anxiety pretty much dissipates immediately upon publication. Right now, I feel this massive pressure to somehow control the outcome. What can I do? Who can I call? In a couple of weeks that illusion will be blasted and I’ll have to just surrender to the fact that my job is to do my work, get it out there and then make myself available if someone wants to talk about it. Whether or not people want to read it isn’t really my business.
Still, I’m happy to say that I’ve had a couple of good reviews come in already. Leah Tallon’s at The Nervous Breakdown is my favorite.
I have an interview up at my friend Christina Soletti’s blog, Steady Happy, today. I’m talking about trying to find work/mom/life balance. You know- the subject I know absolutely nothing about but am nevertheless happy to expound upon for days if you let me. I adore Christina and always feel a bit wowed by how glamorous and industrious she is. I’m honored that she asked for my contribution.
We performed Cattywampus last weekend, after a manic three weeks of rehearsals that I rolled right into after the closing night of Mother Tongue. Until this summer, I had pretty much stopped performing since we got T. I figured something had to give and it wasn’t about to be my writing. So in some ways I feel like my body has been engaged in a way it hasn’t been for a long time and it’s been wonderful. I try to write from the body and not just the brain, but I think this sometimes winds up being more theoretical than anything else- at the end of the day it’s still just me and the keyboard. It was amazing to break away from it for a minute and work with such a talented group of people- to experience that creative interchange and trust that come with making a piece of theater happen. I’m proud of the work we made.
I’m grateful to be back working at home today, but that sound you hear is me taking a massive crash into my daily routine. To go from the adrenaline of dancing and turning over tables and getting all kinds of crazy to facing an inbox with about 473 emails and a pile of paperwork and spaghetti dinners and craft projects and conflict resolution is a bit of a tumble. I’m still sort of shuffling through it.
I had a great conversation about balancing art and kids with a film director friend of mine yesterday. He said that, sure, his kids pose plenty of obstacles to his creative work, but they’ve just relieved him of the job of getting in his own way. So, so true.
I’m glad to say that the show isn’t over yet, though. If you missed it, you can still catch us at the REDCAT New Original Works Festival on September 15, 16 and 17. We’re on a bill with choreographer Rosanna Gamson. Here’s what the REDCAT website says about the show:
In this backwoods reinvention of August Strindberg’s classic Miss Julie, writer and director Robert Cucuzza hones an essential tale of class and power, and stages it in modern-day Appalachia. Cucuzza and his collaborators orchestrate a multidisciplinary approach highlighted by distinctly American forms—country-western music written and performed by Juli Crockett, line dancing choreographed by Jordana Che Toback—that binds Strindberg’s characters, both the rich and the poor, by exposing their shared vulnerability in a time of economic collapse.