Little Life Lessons

Thursday was a long travel day and I think we all spent most of yesterday still trying to recover. We dismantled the Christmas tree, put away all of our new and lovely gifts, did loads and loads of laundry. Went to Trader Joes. Took the cats in the backyard for some fresh air. Showered, cooked, remembered the things we like about our little house, our little life. At the end of the day we went to the bluffs in Santa Monica, overlooking the great wide, rolling Pacific ocean, and for just a tired minute, we reveled in this place where we live.

It’s so hard and hectic to travel sometimes, but everything about being out in the world and everything about returning to the place you live, only serves to enrich life, I think. I tried to explain this to Veronica the other night on the plane when she was exhausted and saying she never wanted to leave California again. I reminded her of how much she loved her seeing her cousins and her grandparents, how fun it was to sled and to watch her uncle Matt build a snowman, how exciting it was to make new friends on airplanes and try new foods and sleep somewhere different. And again yesterday as she marveled over being in her room again, I tried to remind her of how it can feel to come home.

I’m not sure if she entirely understood, but later she said something that made me think it might be sinking in after all. We recently got a new car seat for Vera. It’s a little more grown-up, sits a little lower, and has a cup holder (her favorite part, naturally). On the way to Trader Joe’s yesterday she suddenly exclaimed, “Mama, the same car looks like a different car from a different seat.” I smiled at her in the rearview mirror, my sweet little girl who is growing up so fast. “Exactly,” I said.

And that’s what I mean about travel. Going out in the world, as hard and hectic as it can be, can give you a whole new seat from which to see your world, making the same old thing, appear altogether new.



Notes from Ohio

Hello from Ohio!

As I write this a winter storm is raging softly outside the windows. Juliette is napping, Vera is drawing, and my mother-in-law is reheating last night’s Christmas meal. We head home tomorrow (snow permitting) after a solid ten days in the midwest. It’s been such a nice trip, catching up with old friends and spending tons of time with Greg’s giant family.

Although there have been so many great things about being back, my favorite has been watching Veronica run around with her cousins. Here’s a cute video I took of a few of them last night trying to play Christmas carols. I can’t wait to show this to them when they’re teenagers.

We’ve had some ups and downs. Flying with two kids over the holidays is pretty much my idea of torture, and almost the whole family coming down with the stomach flu on Christmas Eve wasn’t ideal. But really, those things were easily eclipsed by how relaxing and cozy everything has been. I can hardly believe that this is my sixth holiday season spent with the Booses. Just thinking about how swiftly it’s all flown by gives me the shivers.

On that note, I’ve been feeling this desperate, panicky feeling of wanting to cling to the very last of Veronica’s babyhood. There’s hardly any baby left to her — she’s almost all big girl now. She wants to do so many things on her own, and actually can do so much on her own. She wants to snuggle less and less, and she is developing a little world all her own. It feels like water slipping through my hands though, the more I try to hold onto it.

On the other hand Juliette couldn’t be sweeter these days. As long as she’s near me she’s all smiles and laughs and cute little baby talk. I still have days or moments when I can’t believe I have two girls. Sometimes it’s just that I can’t believe I’m so lucky. Sometimes it’s that I’m overwhelmed and can’t believe this is happening and sometimes it’s because I want to do right by them, give my love and time and attention to them equally.

On Christmas morning I could hardly believe the sight of the two of them under the tree. I kept thinking about myself six years ago, lonely and unsure of what lay ahead for my life. How that has changed in a thousand, thousand ways.

I’m going to be working on a year end post in the next few days but for now I want to mention that my paperback came out this week. I would be so thrilled if you wanted to pick up a copy or recommend it to someone you know. It’s harder than ever these days to be an author and every little bit of support helps. I’m really proud of my book and every time I get an email from someone telling me that it made a difference in their life, I feel like I’ve accomplished something important.

Oh, and last reminder (not that I want to think about travel again right now) but I’ll be in Atlanta in two weeks for a reading at the Georgia Center for the Book. I’d love to see you if you’re in the area!

Hope everyone’s holiday was as messy and wonderful as mine.


Notes from Chicago

Hello from Chicago!

It’s cold here. But it feels oh-so warm and lovely to be seeing old friends and family. We spent yesterday afternoon and evening at Greg’s sister’s house and Vera could not have been more thrilled to be reunited with her cousins. I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me to see her with them. All of my cousins were always so much older than me, and also with being an only child I just never had a family experience like the one she is part of.

It also feels better to be out in the world and getting my mind off the Newtown tragedy. I’ve really had a hard time processing it, as all of us have. Yesterday, walking through the airport, I felt so vulnerable and edgy. I haven’t felt this affected by a national tragedy since 9/11. I think it’s going to take all of us a long time to heal, and hopefully good things will come from it, in the form of a safer country.

Here are a few more good things:

I found out last week that The Rules of Inheritance is a finalist for a Books for a Better Life award, and I’m feeling impossibly humbled. Other finalists include Anne Lamott (!!), Kelle Hampton (do your read her blog??), and Andrew Solomon (I think everyone I know is reading his book right now). This also means that I’m going to be in NYC in March for the awards ceremony, which is pretty exciting.

Here’s an essay I have up on the Powell’s Books blog. I wrote about my relationship with author Deni Bechard (otherwise known as the college tutor in the first chapter of my book). I think this is one of the most interesting side-stories from my book.

Lastly, I’m reading tomorrow night in one of Chicago’s newest bookstores, City Lit. I know the weather is supposed to be yucky, but I would be so, so excited if you came out to say hi.