Showing posts from February, 2015

An L.A. Interlude

When the L.A. Teen Writer Series invited me to appear on a panel with some very fabulous writers--Susan Adrian, Jennifer Niven, Amy Talkington, Sandra Waugh, and moderator Mary McCoy--I wasn't about to let a whole continent stand in my way.  

I've never been to Los Angeles before, so of course I had to squeeze in a little sightseeing.  First stop: TCL (formerly known as Grauman's) Chinese Theater!

After that, I set off for a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard.  In New York City you can tell the tourists because they're looking up.  But on Hollywood Boulevard, the tourists are bumping into each other because they're all looking down--at the Walk of Fame.

Here's what I noticed about L.A.  They do things with a special flair.  Take, for instance, the lowly shopping mall...

...where a person might buy herself a plain old-fashioned smoothie.

Even the local high school is pretty darn flashy.

And the Central Public Library's not too shabby either.

By the way, our panel was …

Home is So Sad: A Poem By Philip Larkin

Not long ago,  I was in Florida, taking care of my mother who was recovering from pneumonia.  My Mom is doing better (knock wood!) but the illness took its toll on her body and her psyche, and made her a sadder version of herself. 

Even being home in Florida felt sad.  Something about the contrast between the piercing blue skies and balmy weather and my mother's newly circumscribed days.  The visits from nurses and physical therapists.  The meals--carefully prepared but barely eaten.  The soft boiled eggs and canned peaches and Ensure.  

This visit was like a new, gray layer in a pentimento.   The early layers are bright: Christmas with my parents, my sister, my husband, my uncles and aunts.  Disney World with my sons.   Lobster dinners on the water.  Pilgrimages to the power plant where the manatees gather in cold weather.  Boat tours on the Indian River.  And then, six years ago, my father's illness and death.  

Now the things that used to signify homecoming and vacation mean s…

The Love, Lucy Playlist

Whatever else my new novel Love, Lucy is about--romance, Italy, finding your way in the world--it's also about music.  At the book's start, Lucy has given up her first love--musical theater--in exchange for parental approval and a backpacking trip through Europe.  Then when she meets Jesse Palladino, a New Jersey street musician busking his way through Italy, she starts to find her voice again.

So of course there has to be a Love, Lucy playlist--the songs that might catch Lucy's ear in a Munich internet cafe or a boutique on the Via degli Strozzi.  Songs she listens to on her iPod on the overnight train from Munich to Florence.  Songs she revisits after returning home to Philadelphia, trying to recapture the thrill of her travels:

Thanks to Ashley and Alexis of With Her Nose Stuck In a Book for inviting me to contribute Lucy's playlist, and this little riff on my song choices:


When I graduated from college, my parents gave me the gift of a lifetime: two months backpack…