A perfect day

March 22, 2012

7:40 AM Woke up feeling rested; I’m exercising again and sleeping better. Minimal bed-head, so I don’t look scary when I head downstairs to say bye to my husband.

Don is on his way out of the house to have breakfast with his mom before he goes to work. He’s done this just about every day for five and a half years, and he’s practically a staff member at the assisted living place where she lives. Blanche is a favorite with the nurses and aides: 97, bent and dry as a grasshopper, demented but endlessly pleasant. I have warned Dan and Jess not to expect me to be so nice. I wonder how irony and sarcasm are affected by dementia…

8-9 AM Two cups of coffee, three newspapers.

9-11 AM Cracked open a can of sugar-free Red Bull, fired up the computer, checked email. Got some very nice letters from new readers. Dave and Elaine Pendergrast’s donation just pushed the Doc Holliday Memorial Fund at Smile Train over the $14,000 mark! YeeeHAH!

Opened the file for The Cure For Anger,  jumped to “XXX,”  which marks how far I got in editing the existing manuscript the prior day. Reread yesterday’s work, smoothed out a few passages, worked through another chapter. The restructuring is just about finished, and I’m gaining confidence in the solidity of the story’s foundation. Another week, and I’ll be ready to press on to the central third of the story.

Also beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t just call this novel Wyatt. Easier to remember. Goes with Doc. Is it just a coincidence that my best sales figures come from the books with the shortest titles?

11-12 AM Worked out while listening to the Diane Rehm Show on NPR; made bed, showered, dressed. Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, layered J.Jill tops, a dogwood blossom necklace made for me by Gail Kelly, a reader who is a talented jewelry artist. Make-up, too, because it lifts my own mood and so I’ll look nice for Don when he gets home. After 42 years, it’s especially important to make an effort.

12-4 PM Breakfast: pb&j, strawberries and banana slices. Went outside, stunned but grateful for appallingly beautiful weather. It should not be 80 degrees and sunny in Cleveland in March, but we can’t help enjoying La Nina’s gift to the eastern half of the country.

Read half of Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, which I’m reviewing for The Cleveland Plain Dealer. This thing is right in my wheelhouse, whatever the hell that baseball phrase means, and Mr. Lehrer is going to get a nice quotable review from me. He is describing the biology of creativity. The book validates and elucidates patterns I’ve noticed during 20 years of writing fiction: the way I despair every Monday, but wake up on Tuesday with a line of dialog that breaks the impasse I reached the day before. The way flashes of insight or solutions to problems always seem to emerge while I’m standing in the shower…

In the midst of reading Imagine, I had another phone conversation with Brian Dearth from Smile Train. He would like me to begin telling the stories of individual children whose clefts have been repaired. The job would involve reading and curating reports that pour in every night from surgical teams around the world. I’d decide on good stories, investigate further, and write them up for publication. This is a gig I’d jump at, if I weren’t already under contract for The Cure For Anger, but I can ease into the work this year, and go deeper when the novel is done.

Working with Smile Train would be a useful way to spend my days and refill the creative well… That jackass Lebron comes to mind: maybe I’ll call a news conference and announce, “I’m taking my talents to Smile Train.”

4-6 PM Laundry. Email. Needlepoint in front of the TV. I’m working on a pillow my son’s mother-in-law Cheryl wants for her living room, and it’s going to be a good project: lots of colors, lots of little puzzles to solve. Needlepoint is Sudoku with yarn.

6-8 PM Don called to tell me he’s on his way home, and he sounded like he’d had a reasonably satisfying day, too. His mood when he walks in the kitchen door has always affected mine, so it’s a relief when my honey sounds cheerful on the phone. I made an “Asian” salad, which isn’t remotely Asian, but is very nice. We ate it out on the back porch, marveling at the pleasant temperature and the birdsong and the amazing display of blossom so early in the year.

Took Annie the Dachshund for a walk. She goes to work with Don when I’m away from home; she gained an entire pound while I was in Arizona for a week: treats she gets from people at the business, who spoil her rotten. Diet and exercise for the tubby little princess of Countryside Road. She needs to get back down under 16 pounds.

8-10 PM Caught up on DVR’ed episodes of Househunters International on HGTV and discussed where we’d live if we had nothing to hold us to where we are now. Move closer to the kids out in LA? We’d have weather like this a lot more often, but California’s so screwed up… What about Vancouver? Toronto? Stay right here until we’re old enough for the ice floes? Damn — if this weather keeps up, there won’t be any ice floes when we need them… Dan and Jess will just have to shoot us.

10-10:15 PM Listened to TED lectures on my iPod before falling asleep, thinking, Perfect day. Just perfect.





8 thoughts on “A perfect day”

  1. Forgot to say that I worked on a new piano piece, too: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Got the first seven measures into each hand, but can’t put them together yet…

  2. Hi, Mary!
    Thanks so much for the shout-out – I am just feeling very blessed and thankful that we are able to help a little! 🙂
    And I am also thankful that creativity biologically found it’s way to YOU! Your books have brought so much pleasure to the world, and those who have read them and love them like I do know what I mean!
    I understand about being affected by the husband’s moods. Mine changes when his does and when I hear him being cheerful or zen while on the phone or when he gets home, it is SUCH a blessing! 🙂
    God bless you! Sending love and prayers your way!
    Elaine P.

  3. Which version of Jesu are you working on, Mary? Dame Myra Hess (I saw her once in Hong Kong — in preference to going to a bar when I was in the Marines) published an edition for piano that’s a real so-and-so. She used it as an encore piece — similar to your concert pianist friend who played Traumerei so beatifically on the video you sent me. Yes, she played it beautifully, but my takeaway was the transfigured expression on her face as she played.

  4. Hi Mary,

    Thought I’d throw in my two cents’ worth: I like ‘Wyatt’ as the title for the next book also. When I initially heard you were working on something called ‘The Cure for Anger,’ my first reaction was, “Bummer! I was hoping she’d do the sequel to ‘Doc’ next.” There’s just a lovely symmetry to ‘Doc’ followed by ‘Wyatt’– simple one-word titles, strong, descriptive, ‘Wyatt’ clearly the sequel we’re all eagerly waiting for. ‘Doc’ and ‘Wyatt’ would make for a perfect two-book set.

    Barbara F.

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