The mistake is to think you should have lots of friends. A human connection with someone you trust, threads of trust through the heart doesn’t come easily if you have a complicated heart. When you have a friend, you sit down and have tea or vodka or wine and you share stories. Stories are the fabric of a friendship.
In Virginia, I was first learning friendships as a semi adult. I sat down with some kids at a park and we ate pickles and potato chips. We were in the park, lying down eventually looking at the clouds, and we found animals in the sky. That was the beginning. Pickles, potato chips and animal clouds are a very good beginning.
I am glad to be home, the chicks are talking all the time, our birthdays are this month. We used to ski in January, now it’s all sky and petals happening. The birds are nesting and during the windstorm last weekend, our cat slept on the roof like Jesus on the boat.
What happened when you came home?
From London? On Friday? The baby chicks came.
Tobi and I went to hear Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvasov sing at the Broad Stage; we were carried on music.
Saturday: We painted the playhouse green and orange. I had a haircut.
Mark and I went to dinner with the Bonpanes and had cake.
Sunday: We had birthday cake for lunch. We went to Disney Hall to hear Alexander’s Feast.
This week—work, reading on Wednesday, dinner with Ron Carlson Thursday, Magic Castle Friday.
Amid the chaos and work, the readings and books, the sweeping up piles of pink petals from the patio, we are finding that we can build ourselves a cathedral of the soul.
In movies, they often say, Only one man can solve this problem. It’s not one woman. It’s one man. That’s when they call Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, or Clint Eastwood. Those men are the only man that can solve certain global problems. One man seems pretty limiting. It could be a woman. Amazing things do happen. We started this press twenty-one years ago. We are small but growing. At the London Book Fair, you realize how many publishers there are globally and how small you are. Like a star in the Milky Way Galaxy. But Red Hen Press is still a star. Glowing in the spring sky.
London is energetic. I like the feel of the air. It hasn’t started raining although they said it would. Maybe I brought California. It’s lively here, and Karen and Teri were fantastic. We went out for Indian food tonight with Raina. We got drinks at the hotel where Eliot courted his second wife, the Russel Hotel.
Past Kensington Palace and the tulip gardens. Past the statue of Queen Victoria. Past the lilies of the valley and the swans; the English doves which are so much bigger than the American ones, then down the street past shops and flower sellers, little cafes and fruit shops. Past the English schoolboys hitting each other in the street and the English schoolgirls pretending not to care. After breakfast of poached eggs and steamed tomatoes watching the others with their beans and sausage. The full English breakfast is a bit much for me. And then I here I am and Jeffrey Archer is talking about the debut of his book Cain and Abel on the Johnny Carson show, and I’m at the book fair and off to the races.
On the train from Heathrow, a woman asked me where I stay in London. I’ve been staying in the same area for over fifteen years. I know the nearby restaurants and most importantly, I’m near the park. She smiled, a smile that meant, “You aren’t still staying in Bayswater, are you?” but I like it. I always eat Lebanese food the first night and save the pita bread for the swans. I am so happy walking around Hyde Park watching the daffodils bloom, the lilies of the valley in their wet dark moments opening, and the trees sketching lines across the sky. This trip I may walk to my meetings, forget the Tube.
British television urges me go give money to save camels, donkeys and llamas who are working too hard to carry and pull. The donkeys shown seem quite overburdened. The store near my hotel sells lime water and curried chicken.
I watched the movie Joy on the plane. It was good to see this woman inventing a mop. I don’t think seeing that movie with Mark would be a good thing though. I’m not sure he would appreciate the mop.
I also read Marquez’ My Melancholy Whores which is about an old man who sleeps mostly with whores, and rapes his housekeeper. The housekeeper then falls in love with him. He decides for his 90th birthday to treat himself to a fourteen year old virgin who he only sleeps next to, like David with Abigail the Shulamite. But finally, when she’s fifteen they do sleep together, and she has a great time and you guessed it, she falls in love with him. The writing is beyond scrumptious, the plot is more than problematic. Food for thought on the plane ride.
In British films, you have your British explorers presenting their findings to the Royal Society. I know at least one writer who would have loved to live during that time—oh to travel and to come back to London and have people listening in rapt attention to your adventures. Like Marco Polo. Exactly like Marco Polo.
The Polish girls were drinking at 11 in the morning at my hotel when I came in. They were eating chips and drinking and taking turns smoking outside. I got a room in the attic overlooking the city. A slanted roof with pigeons outside. I ordered takeout Lebanese for dinner, so I have pita to feed the birds. There’s thin light coming in the window. When I arrived, I carried my suitcases up the many flights to the attic, and then came back down and stood outside in the morning light. The smell of toast was overwhelming coming from the hotels. At home, bread is out of the question. If we go out for breakfast, I have poached eggs with spinach. I haven’t eaten toast since I don’t know when. The Polish girls made me toast and coffee. Up in my room, I could see the tops of the trees starting in on spring, the buds ready. I like my room, cool and airy, I like the tops of the trees. It’s supposed to rain every day that I’m here. Luckily, I have an umbrella. I’ll walk around London with my umbrella and imagine that I am Winnie the Pooh. Tomorrow my girls get here, and all together. Teri is kind of like Tigger and Karen is Christopher Robin. We will walk around the city and feel the rain.
Say yes. That’s my move. I try to say yes whenever I am invited to read, speak, sing or dance. The singing and dancing is not something I am getting paid for, but I am still willing to walk out on the dance floor. AWP went really well, it actually could not have gone better. We sold a lot of books, and I admit I forgot about social media the whole conference, but I am going to get back on it. On Saturday, I fly to London for the London Book Fair. After AWP, I can say this, I have some really good literary friends.
The Texas air is warm. I’m excited to be here for the book festival, but mostly, to see Peggy. I dream of flying. Not like pelicans or crows, but more like seagulls. Or hawks.