Retreat Day 4: Writing is Glam!

Yesterday, after suffering odd morning-dreams about people destroying my friend’s apartment with sledge hammers, I awoke to three strange men wielding power tools (TSMWPT). They were replacing my friend’s oven which, as I learned, is an all-day operation. They also took over the entire kitchen, forcing me across the street for coffee and a bagel. I love toasted everything bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes, so that was cool, except for the part where New York City is like out of tomatoes on account of salmonella or something. The guy looked at me like, lady, don’t you read the papers?

Newspapers? Newspapers! Damn it, Bagel Guy, I’m a writer, not a reader!

Anyway, after the oven ordeal, which included an big hole in the office wall with lots of wires and metal things poking out that I was ordered not to touch (right, and I was just thinking, “what do these wires do? What would happen if I twisted them together with my fork while blow-drying my hair and standing in a wash-basin full of water?”), I was finally rid of the TSMWPTs and ready to cook a nice dinner.

Ok, this next part is really gross and embarrassing so we’re going ESPN extreme highlights on this one.

*Begin movie guy announcer voice*

In a world where solitary writers go too long without contact from the outside…

  • Me: La la la, I’m making yummy dinner, la la la. I’m going to—wait, what the f*** was that?
  • CR: *Scampers across kitchen floor.* No, no scampers is the wrong word. Saunters is better. *Saunters across the kitchen floor.*
  • Me: What the f***?!!!! *Jumps on one foot repeatedly to reduce surface area of body touching its potential path*
  • CR: Hi! I’m the world’s biggest cockroach. And I am here to f*** you up. Booooo!
  • Me: What the f***?!!! OMG are you talking to me?
  • CR: Yes! And now is the part where I stalk you! *Stalk stalk stalk*
  • Me: Are you following me? Ewwwwww! Arhhhhhhhh! Why are you so big? Get away from me you f***ing many-legged exo-skeletal freak!
  • CR: You can run, but you can’t hide! *Stalk stalk stalk*
  • Me: *Has nervous breakdown, complete with full body sweat, the shakes, heart palpitations, crying, calling husband*
  • Alex: Bims, I’m seriously worried about you. *Offers complex kill strategy involving trapping, mushing, and scraping*
  • CR: Let’s see what happens if I go over here. *Saunter saunter saunter*
  • Me: It’s chasing me! Ewwwww ewww ewww it’s going to mate and multiply and crawl all over me in my sleep!
  • CR: Boo! Hahahah! I am going to eat you.
  • Alex: Just get a newspaper and—
  • Me: Arhhhhhh!!!! Ewwww! *Hangs up on Alex. Dials Pook, who is playing pool around the corner.*
  • Pook: What up? You wanna meet for a drink?
  • Me: Okay okay okay I know I’m crazy but you have to get here like right now oh my god f*** just get here okay f***ing now please?
  • Pook: What happened? Are you all right?
  • Me: There’s this giant crawly thing and he’s brown and shiny and stalking me and—
  • Pook: Are you f***ing serious?
  • CR: Wow, you really are ridiculous. Boo! *Stalk stalk stalk*
  • Me: Get here! I’m hyperventilating!
  • Pook: Hahahahaha okay, be right over (and by the way, sack up, you whiny bitch).

So, um, ya, my brother had to leave his pool game to come and do a perimeter sweep, which was sadly unsuccessful, and I was so creeped out that I couldn’t eat my dinner until like 2 hours later, and it’s all because the TSMWPT displaced this giant South American poisonous hissing cockroach when they put in the new oven. By the time I could go to sleep without freaking out about the bug, the sun was up and I then convinced myself that someone was in the apartment and I actually dialed 9-1-1 and had my finger hovering over the SEND button because I just knew that when I opened the door I’d see a murderer, a rapist, and a giant cockroach, and the roach would laugh and turn to the others and say, “See? I told you she was here all alone.”

When I told my agent parts of this story today, he just nodded and smiled looked at me in his patient, understanding, I’m-used-to-dealing-with-fruitloops-all-day way and said, “You’ve become Jack Nicholson in The Shining.”

Heeeeeeeere’s Sarah!

Just another day in the glamorous life of a writer in New York.

NYC Writers Retreat, Day 2

The view from last year’s Grand Lake retreat:

Grand Lake Docks


The view from this year’s NYC retreat:

Plip Plip Plop


Not the most pleasant retreat weather here in New York today, but the storms are working hard to keep me inside and writing. I love listening to the rain on the street, the shush of the cars, the occasional laughing scream as someone who forgot her umbrella runs for cover. The thunder rattles the windows, and though I have to keep my computer unplugged during the lightning show, I do love hearing the sky fall.

Last night, I had the A/C on in the bedroom and started hearing noises. I know it was probably rain and thunder, but in the moment, I was pretty sure someone was trying to break in (despite the fact that this is a doorman building and someone would basically have to scale the wall and smash a window to enter without my permission). You know how it is when you’re staying in a new place—you have to readjust to all the new creaks, moans, groans, thumps, and rattles that differ in every home and don’t seem to show themselves until the late evening. I was jolted awake in two-minute intervals until about 5:30 this morning, so I’m getting a late start today. But I’m expecting the writing to go well and my sleep to come a bit easier later.

Better than being stuck out there, cold and umbrella-less!

NYC Writers Retreat, Day 1

Around this time last summer, still a resident of Colorado, I spent a week at the Shadowcliff Lodge for the Lighthouse Writers Grand Lake Retreat. Seven days of immersive writing workshops, seven nights of equally important immersive writing tomfoolery. In Grand Lake, I worked on 20 BOY SUMMER revisions for my agent, after which the manuscript went on to achieve great things. It’s also where I met Rachel, Lisa, and lots of other new writing pals. The Shadowcliff Lodge and all of the Lighthouse writers and faculty have a special place in my writing heart.

I wanted to go again this summer, but skyrocketing airfares (Delta is even adding a fuel surcharge for supposedly free award tickets!) and timing issues will keep me in New York City.

Those little snags won’t, however, keep me from enjoying my own writer’s retreat here in Manhattan. My friends are on vacation in the Tetons, and I’ve taken over their home for an entire blissful, solo, writing-filled, not-sure-I’m-gonna-give-it-back-when-they-return week. Unlike the Lighthouse retreat, the Manhattan retreat requires me to cook my own food and doesn’t have:

“…a wonderful chance for you to forge a supportive and stimulating community, a collective spirit to help reinvigorate your writing voice. And a chance to work with excellent writers and teachers…” —Lighthouse Writers Workshop

But here, I get to people watch when I need character ideas, and my retreat is, well, free. And I have many unrestricted hours in which to write, write, write, and more write. If I stay focused (so, ya, don’t call me or anything), I might actually be able to finish book 2… this week!

I guess I’d better get to it.

Stormy Weather Five

In which I attempt to relate (however tangentially) five events under the banner of bad weather, give a nod to my fascination with storms, and blow the dust off my June blog drought.

1. Happy birthday, Flurfy!


Last week we took a trip out to Coney Island to watch the Brooklyn Cyclones in celebration of our friend Flurfy’s1 birthday. The Cyclones suffered an American-as-apple-pie BEATdown from the Staten Island Yankees, but the evening was redeemed when I got to pose with the mascot (whom I’d been secretly admiring all night from a distance, especially when he got to dance with the ketchup and mustard puppet people during the 7th inning stretch).


Speaking of cyclones…

2. Crazy Storms Invade Queens, Welcome Sarah Home

Standing out on the balcony the other night, I looked to the sky for a reminder of what I love about the east coast. Stormy weather? Bring. It. On. People think that the weather in Denver is tumultuous, but that’s an urban geo-legend. The climate in Denver is similar to that of San Francisco, and even when it snows or rains, it generally passes or melts quickly2. And while rural areas surrounding Denver are prone to tornadoes and rapid onset lightening strikes, we didn’t get much of that in Littleton. There was only one night where Alex and I shot up in bed, debating for a good ten minutes on whether we should head down to the garage and sleep in the car. Instead, we just had our bed fitted with rubber tires.

Anyway, here in the Q-borough, the sky was like this big cauldron of magic soup, and then my mother-in-law said, “Bims, you’d better get inside, I think it’s a tornado.” Hearing this, I turned my camera upwards and captured this, and when it started swirling, I videoed it.

stormy swirly

swirly stormy

After that, we were treated to a crazy thunder storm. But alas, no tornadoes. Which is probably a good thing, because the closest I ever came to a tornado was in Hamburg, NY, circa 1985. A forceful gust of wind had snapped off a rather large tree branch, to which I responded, “Oh my god! I don’t want to die!!!!!” and practically knocked over my entire family, babies and pets included, running to the basement, where I stayed for a few long minutes until I was sure it was safe, and when I got back upstairs, everyone was just sitting around the dining room table looking at dinner menus as my life speed-racered before my eyes. My uncle looked up and said, “We’re ordering pizza, what kind do you want?”

Yes, I’m the one you want by your side during a dangerous situation. Oh, Auntie Em.

Speaking of a tumultuous tornado of a time…

3. Congratulations, Ash! You Survived H.S. in the Suburbs!


Our friend, Ash, just graduated from high school in Pennsylvania. High school graduations are a time of joy and celebration and pomp and circumstance, but for me, well, I think I’m still suffering a fifteen-year-long an allergic reaction. We did learn, however, that for the smartest representatives of the class of 2008—valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively—life is equally “a box of chocolates, like in Forest Gump” and “a blank Word document with a blinking cursor.” Ponder that, why don’t you!

*Blink blink blink*

Anyway, congrats, Ash. I may jest to camouflage my own youth-related anxieties, but we’re thrilled that you mostly survived it.

Wait, why are you crying?


Speaking of high school torrents most of us would rather forget…

4. Hey There, Delilah

This is the real reason for my failed blog crop.

I’m working long hours (with alternating procrastinatory intervals) to wrap up my 2nd YA novel, so if I don’t answer your phone calls, emails, door-knocking, IMs, texts, smoke signals, blogs, taunts, catcalls, or Scrabulous nudges3, it’s so not you. It’s me and the little people who live in my book—specifically Delilah, who’s giving me a hard time because that’s just the way she is. Right now, Delilah is more important than you.

Speaking of thunderous shakedowns…

5. Earth to Humans: All Passengers Must Exit

Anyone else get the feeling Earth is trying to shake us off? Just wondering.

1. Not his real name. He was very adamant about that. Perhaps I over-expose him with my ever-prodding camera lens?

2. With one exception: our first week in our new CO apartment. We got socked with a blinding, freezy flood of a blizzard, trapping us inside for 4 days. I had just started my new job the day before, so I worked 1 day and then took a little snow-bound break. Hey, I like to ease into things. Anyway, trust me. Colorado weather? 99% sunshiney good times.

3. Okay, okay. I never ignore my Scrabulous turns. Especially when I’m winning. But I am ignoring mostly everything else, including sleep and personal hygiene. Which is why it’s best for everyone that I not answer the door, either.

Month in Review: A Pictorial Essay

This week marks 5 since we arrived back home in April. In some ways it feels like we never left. In others, it’s like we’re still here on vacation, time ticking toward the day we head back to Denver. I’m not sure when it’s going to finally hit us that we’ve traded in all that space and comfortable cost of living and sunshine and distance from family drama to come back, but when it does, I think I’ll be ready.


In the mean time, enjoy a few photo highlights from our month in New York so far…

It’s Spring! Speaking of getting sprung… I hate seeing flowers locked up like this. So unnatural.

Daffodil Delinquents

View outside of Seaside Johnny’s in Rye, where we tried to eat but had to move inside ten minutes into it because it was like 40 degrees and windy. Kind of like it is right now. Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve seen the ocean since a trip to Acadia in 2003, so it was cool. Like the beach, ‘cept different.

Seaside Johnny's

Cherry blossoms on West 4th Street after downing a few margaritas outside in the Village. It was 70 degrees that day. Unlike today. But anyway.

Cherry Blossoms

Speaking of cherry blossoms and happy times, I got to meet a few fellow YA authors from the 2009 Debs group at Candle 79 this weekend. Writing is such a lonely, crazy pursuit—it’s nice to take a break and hook up with people who are equally lonely and crazy. I mean, in the writing sense. Not that they’re crazy. Just—oh, never mind. It was a great time! Thanks, Neesha, for the pic.

*Waves to Debs!*

2009 Debs Brunch

Fun with my brother, Pook, at the Museum of the City of New York (don’t blink, or you’ll miss it) and a stroll through Central Park, followed by too many drinks and therapy at Wicker Park. Fortunately there’s no photographic evidence of that. Really, this isn’t a theme with me, it’s just been a month of celebrating our triumphant return!


Museum of the City of New York

Central Park

A little pigeon PDA right outside my window. Some people don’t like these birds, but I do. They make cool sounds. I’m trying to develop a way to communicate with them, but unlike my multi-talented husband, I can’t get the warble quite right and I usually scare them away.

Pigeon PDA

Speaking of love… Mother’s Day post-brunch at the Chocolate Room in Park Slope. I’m going to stalk the building every day until the tenants in the apartment above give up, and let me move in, so I will never be more than 10 steps away from this decadent dessert den.

Chocolate Room

Butterscotch Custard Love

Finally, me and Mom at the old Irish pub Alex and I used to frequent when we lived in Woodside. This picture was taken the day after we moved back, but since I didn’t get to see Mom for Ma’s Day, she can look at this and pretend that we had brunch together on Sunday. But really I was at the Chocolate Room, as you know. Which was way better. But anyway.

Me & Mom

Happy Spring, Happy Mother’s Day, Happy *insert favorite thing here* Day!