Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Catching up with Myself

Home. It's time for soup and fall vegetables. I bought beets, squashes of all kinds, beans, potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, and eggplant at the Farmer's Market over the weekend. Here's today's lunch. It's a mixture of yellow and green split peas, brown and wild rice, carrots, celery, onion, and some marjoram, allspice, garlic, cracked pepper, and ginger. I made it up. Added a slice of Farmer's Market whole-grain bread with just-ground peanut butter, and an apple.

Here's my lunchtime view. It's November, but we're still eating outside -- the sunshine is warm. I'm thrilled with the few days home, even if they are filled with administrivia. Paperwork, mostly, and laundry and lots of slow moving. Sleeeeeping. In my own bed.

I'm pulling together the odds and ends that I have finished so far with the new novel, as I'll meet with my new editor, Kate Harrison, on Friday in NYC. We're about to plunge into this Sixties trilogy in a big way. I spent a good while yesterday putting together a montage of photographs from the Sixties that I want to share with Kate and Harcourt folks. I put the images in PowerPoint along with musical accompaniment by the Maria Schneider Orchestra, in particular the cut called "The Pretty Road" from her new cd, SKY BLUE. I decided against a traditional '60s song and went instead for something completely different and orchestral -- I like the effect. I *love* the Maria Schneider Orchestra.

I was influenced in my musical choice for this montage by the effects in a movie I saw over the weekend, AMERICAN GANGSTER. I usually stay far away from violent movies, but I'm watching all kinds of movies (and documentaries) right now about the 1960s, and I was particularly interested in watching Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe working together. This is an amazing movie, and I loved the musical treatment. See what you think of the way "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" is used in this movie to juxtapose one way of life against another -- amazing, that's what I thought.

I'll be writing (and asking questions) about the Sixties in this journal as I talk about the process of research and writing the new novel. Who has seen TALK TO ME, the new Don Cheadle movie (just out on DVD after a summer theatre release)? It's terrific. I lived in D.C. in the mid-1960s, when Petey Greene was a D.J. on WOL radio.

Before I go back to paperwork, I want to give a shout-out to the good folks in Iowa City who made the week with 5th and 6th graders possible. Thank you all so much, new friends, for everything -- every single thing. Here are a few last photos from last Friday, to wrap up that week. Did I mention that all the "20" tee-shirts stand for the 20th anniversary of this Iowa City Community Reads program:

Friday's schools were Lucas, Hoover, and Wood. These three characters from Lucas were doing their imitation of the lit candle swaying in the dark after the assembly -- ha! They're holding bookmarks. Thanks, guys!

This was a surprise bunch at Hoover -- writers from the Iowa chapter of SCBWI! They brought me treats and a warm welcome -- it was so good to meet them. Thank you for coming! Let's see if I get this right. From left: Linda Karwath, Patty Hinch, Connie Hecker, Katherine House, and Dori Butler.

Here are the Lucas kids -- what a banner! "Pretend my aunts are running for us," I said. "Come here and love my neck! I could just eat you up!"

And here are the Hoover kids -- what a big welcome. I forgot to take my camera out of my bag at Wood, but trust me, I was there! I got a bit frazzled by late Friday -- fifteen schools in five days, 18 schools altogether and so many wonderful memories --

Saying goodbye to Iowa City! Great, collaborating, inventive, curious, creative librarians with a terrific program. Thanks to Julie Larson and Sue, who kept us all organized, to Paula Brandt at the curriculum lab at the University of Iowa, to Hills Banks and the Iowa Schools, to Barb Stein who is a goddess, to Mark and Bob at The Brown Street Inn for taking good care of me, to the folks at Prairie Lights for welcoming me, to the Iowa City Public Library and Katherine Habley, and to all the teachers who prepared their students for this week, and to those students, those wonderful readers and writers, those wonderful smiles and embraces -- all that good energy. I won't forget you. You have enriched my life.

I caught an earlier (and direct) flight home from Cedar Rapids in time to see my daughter's Oglethorpe Singers concert (thanks so much, Barb Stein, for literally speeding me to the airport on Friday afternoon). I slipped into a seat on the front row just in time to hear the Singers perform "Sing Me To Heaven." Here's a YouTube link to this song (rehearsal by the Bucknell Choir).

I stashed my luggage under a table near the theatre seats, and I sank down in gratefulness in my primo front-row seat. Car, plane, Marta train and taxi had brought me to the theatre, and now here was music, live music, accapella live music. I sat there, bathed in the sweetness of coming home and listened to those lyrics, to those voices, those notes. Big fat tears rolled down my face. Home.

After the concert: My daughter Hannah with good buddy Keith. They both graduate in May. Sigh.

Come have some supper with me. It's chilly enough for a fire tonight here in Atlanta. Two more days until NYC and NCTE. My new husband Jim, my piano player, is coming with me. He has the jazz scoped out already.