Monday, April 27, 2009

Temporary Home #17

Ahh...back in Ohio. Let the house hunting begin! (Actually, it has begun and may be over...I'd been home less than a week and had an offer on a house accepted. Keep your fingers crossed for me!).

Until I know for sure if my dream house is mine, I have a temporary dream cottage to live in. A guest cottage on a horse farm. What could be a better reintroduction to Ohio? The cottage comes complete with roommate Joey-the-cat (who can even play piano) and doorman Humphrey-the-goat. Is that service or what? The farm—which is a redbud lined path away from the cottage— also has four horses, a miniature pony, two great dogs, and several wonderful people. Deer walk past my windows, birdsong wakes me before the alarm, and the balmy breeze makes the wind chimes sing. Life is good.

I haven't written in two weeks in between bidding my New York friends farewell, catching up with Ohio friends and family, and then hitting the ground running with the house hunting, but this will be the perfect inspiring place to get back to work. I've received several reader letters lately demanding a new novel, and I aim to please!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bidding Brooklyn Goodbye

Tomorrow, I head back home to Dayton. I have loved my time here in Brooklyn so much, but I feel ready. These past days, I was so conscious of savoring every detail of my neighborhood: last night as I snuggled in bed, a man walked down the street singing “That’s Amore!” in Italian (in a beautiful voice). I smiled into the pillow and thought, “Ah, Brooklyn...” This morning, I savored that metallic screech of Key Food raising it store front guards. 7:00 AM every morning. I savored the squeaky gate of the Italian man across the street, who lets his dog Gino run loose on the street.

There’s much I will miss. I’ll mostly miss effective (heck, amazing!) public transportation. (I adore the subways). I’ll miss that automated female voice on the 2 train. Was it just me or does anyone else notice she seems to have an attitude about the stations she announces. She drawls out “Wall Street” as if she’s mocking it, she says “Borough Hall” very flirtatiously, and she says “Hoyt Street” as if she’s surprised to discover it’s next.

I’ll miss true diversity. The mixed casts of characters on the trains. Hearing multiple languages on the trains, in the stores, walking in the park.

I’ll miss having any kind of food I desire (not just pizza) delivered to my door.

I’ll miss having hundreds of options for live theatre on any given night.

New York is a wonderful city. It’s my favorite big city. And I adored Brooklyn. But I’m craving home. That Easter-basket-grass green of the grass at this time of Ohio. The way the dogwoods, redbuds, magnolias, and pear trees make Ohio in bloom look like a Monet painting. How clean the sidewalks are. Wide open spaces (both outside and in restaurants). True quiet. Asking for separate checks. Being able to have daily contact with horses. Fields of calves and lambs. Dirt to dig in for a great big garden (not just pots on a balcony).

I thank my good good friends here in New York, with special love and thanks to Sarah and Mike for the patient, helpful Brooklyn orientation and for introducing me to the good places to eat and shop. Thanks to Anna and Rob. And to Leslee. And to Sam & Ed. And to wonderful wonderful Lisa!

I’ll miss Stella, my temporary dog, big ol’ goofball that she is!

Monday, April 13, 2009

New Interview

A wonderful reader contacted me recently after reading The Kindness of Strangers and interviewed me for her blog. Check it out at Raisin Toast.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Project Traveling Light

I was so honored and flattered to hear from a reader that she had been so moved by my first novel, Traveling Light, that she was starting a website called Project Traveling Light. Needless to say, this made my day! I treasure all communication from readers, but I've never seen anything like this before.

If you've read Traveling Light, please visit Heather's site and leave comments on her message board.

Many, many thanks!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Coffee, Chocolate, and City Hiking

My wonderful dear friend Tanya Robie came down to the city from upstate for a visit. I met Tanya during my MFA work at Spalding University. She is a radiant soul, and for any of you Julia Cameron readers out there, a “believing mirror” extraordinaire. She was only here less than 48 hours but it was an inspiring time! Thursday was one of those gorgeous days that demands to be appreciated. We met up with wonderful dear friend Sam Zalutsky (on faculty at Spalding) and spent a sunny afternoon in Prospect Park sipping our first iced coffees of the season. All of us are going through changes—new jobs/no job/finding time to write—and it helps so much to know there are others out there not living the 9-to-5 life and making it work just fine.

After Sam had to head back to Manhattan, Tanya and put on another layer (once that sun dipped down, it was chilly), then trekked through Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Brooklyn Heights and reached the Brooklyn Bridge right at true sunset. Gorgeous. There were dark comic-book clouds all over Lower Manhattan so it looked very dramatic. We then trekked back to Faan for a wonderful Thai dinner. Tanya likes to hike. We've had great hikes in her upstate town of Rosendale and at my Connecticut autumn home. This was just city hiking.

It’s a good thing we did all that hiking on Thursday, because Friday was the biggest rain I’ve seen yet in my time here. Tanya made great French press coffee, I ran down the block to Blue Sky Bakery for the best muffins in the world (blackberry plum, blueberry peach, and pumpkin apple walnut), and we wrote for hours with the dime-sized raindrops ping-ing on the fire escape.

Midafternoon, the skies cleared, the air smelled so fresh and clean (a rarity here, at least in my limited experience), and we even saw a rainbow. We did a little fun shopping, had decadent Cafe Torinos at The Chocolate Room (a cup of bittersweet hot chocolate and a shot of espresso topped with steamed milk. Oh. My.), then “discovered” the rooftop of my wonderful building (it’s been too cold until now to go up there). A deck, permanent tables and great benches. Really nice. Stunning views of Downtown Brooklyn and even the Brooklyn Bridge!

We met up with Tanya’s friend Jeff who was hitching a ride back to Rosendale for his brother’s birthday and were joined by Mikey C. for dinner at The Olive Vine before Tanya and Jeff hit the road.

Was it really only two days? My throat was actually a little sore from all the nonstop talking! Fortunately, Tanya left behind a bouquet of lilies and buckets of inspiration!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Big changes to report here. I'm not going to Portugal next on my Year as a Gypsy. I am being "called" to land somewhere and have a home again...bigtime. This Year as a Gypsy was for me to figure out what I really wanted. I'm so glad I gave myself space and time for adventure and to let my life shake itself out. It was time to listen to myself and what honestly makes my heart sing. Some of what I learned surprised me...but there it is, the clarity I asked for. I'm longing for a home of my own, wide open spaces, the daily presence of horses, and a garden to dig in (a REAL garden—not just some pots on a balcony).

So...when I leave Brooklyn on April 15th, I'll be heading home to Dayton to look for a house. I've felt downright gleeful since deciding.

And if life is like a draft of a novel, I'm not deleting the chapter, "Living in Portgual." I'm just moving it to a later slot in the manuscript because something more powerful came bubbling forth in the story with more energy. :-) And Dayton is a good, convenient place to leap from when adventure calls.

My friend in Portugal is wonderful and she understands. She’s also hysterical. Here’s part of her e-mail (we had planned to go to Venice and into Spain while I was living in Portugal):
“The way I look at it...Lisbon has been around for a long time and other than that pesky earthquake in 1756, it hasn't changed much. People were living in the swamps that were to become Venice since Neolithic times...and again other than that bothersome Black Plague in the 15th century and the yearly flooding from that oh so whimsical aint going anywhere either....soggy yet serene. And same for Barcelona and Seville...unless of course the Morrocan pickpocket gangs decide to palm the cities while everyone is eating tapas and not paying attention.... So we got us some time I figures.”
I've learned I can label these chapters...but I can't write their endings in advance. Discovery every day.

I love asking for clarity, then getting it. More than that, I love listening to it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fighting AIDS One Book At A Time

I've been volunteering at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe while here in NY. I work in their book store on Crosby Street. I decided to volunteer for a couple of different reasons—I was inspired by our new President urging us all to volunteer in some way (have you?), I wanted to meet people and belong to a community while I was in a new place, and I wanted to do something to give back. My life feels so good and full right now—my cup runneth over bigtime—so it feels important to pay it forward.

Housing Works is a remarkable organization. As any of you know who have read my first novel, Traveling Light, HIV and AIDS prevention and care are a subject near and dear to my heart. Housing Works is a pioneer in Social Enterprise—where non-profits run businesses to pay for the services they provide and to spread awareness of their mission. What is that mission? To end the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness.

They provide lifesaving services, such as housing, medical and mental health care, meals, job training, drug treatment, HIV prevention education, and social support to more than 20,000 homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS.

Through their Bookstore Cafe and Housing Works Thrift Shops (a chain of seven upscale thrift shops throughout New York City and now in Brooklyn) they contribute more than $13 million annually to support their own work (AND provide jobs to graduates of their Job Training Program).

Their Bookstore Cafe is a magical, cozy place. Small, warm, friendly with little tables and chairs tucked into every imaginable nook. The cafe is awesome. I love the sign painted by the cafe cash register: “Fighting AIDS one knish at a time” and “This cafe is volunteer staffed. That’s why we can’t find the vanilla syrup.” The store has wonderful events, many of which are free (like Tuesday comedy nights). Check out their calendar!

Everyone who works and volunteers there is interesting and has a sense of humor. I’m grateful to have met Eddie, Adam, Nick, Ryan, Zoe, Shirley and Chayla, and wonderful fellow volunteers Katherine, Carolyn, Dessa, Robin, Anna and especially Rosie! I will miss you all when I go. I’ll be back. And there’s talk of me possibly having a reading there for my next novel. Woo hoo!