Status Report Post-Launch

Q: How are you doing since your son has left for college?

A: I made my way onto a High Score chart at the SilverBall Museum in Delray Beach, Florida, today. Woot! *PINBALL, ya’ll!*


Not sure why pinball scores are gendered, but that’s a discussion for another time. I’m “Female” high score.

They have good fries there, too. Bonus: there’s a Pokestop there, so I made it to Level 18 in Pokémon Go. And I drew one of their light fixtures in my sketchbook. This all suggests I’m doing pretty well, thanks for asking!

However, a closer look will reveal that yes, I was awake at 3 a.m. and approving final edits for a short story for magazine publication. (Yes, I did spend about ten minutes debating with myself about the inclusion of a comma or the word “and,” or refusing to accept the addition of either because I meant a particular word to be an adverb, rather than a verb!) And now it’s 6:03 a.m. and I’m checking Hugo winners (Congratulations, folks! N.K. Jemisin, cracking me up! Maybe next time, Chuck Tingle!) and reading about convention drama and then dashing off a quick blog post. The hour discloses: SOMEBODY is not sleeping. Sherlock concludes: perhaps all is not at its most serene here.

I believe in greeting and making space for the Big Feelings. There are a lot of those here. I have many folks in my circle experiencing the same sorts of things. We all know that there are no shortcuts to accepting this new stage in our lives. So … yeah.

Meanwhile: I have exciting books to read, art to view, pinballs to flip, a hand to hold, dogs to walk, cats to serve. Life is pretty good.


Holding Patterns


Photo by Denise Thompson

We’re in a period of transition here. The Young Person of the house is heading out to university on Friday, and the nature of the place is shifting.

Our home has been both a school for Atticus, and a place of creative work for me. Along the way, we’ve hosted educational and creative gatherings, fostered injured and orphaned wildlife, and trained for competitive pinball. Nerf battles, Star Wars marathons, harp and guitar and bass and voice … these are the sounds of our home.

Prior to moving to our home, the longest I’d lived anywhere in my life was around two years. We’ve lived in this house for more than sixteen years. I know how to be here. I have ways of being in the space. But the place is about to get much emptier. Much quieter.

I’m moving through my days, even before Atticus leaves, and finding myself tripping over the old patterns that just aren’t working any more. It’s tough to know what to hold on to. What to let go.

I’m considering an off-site studio space. Someplace that won’t echo with absence.

I’m looking for a space to help shape my days.

Meanwhile, I am sleepless. Which is why I’m writing a blog post at 4 a.m. (Hi! Are you awake, too?) The cats are very happy at my early rising. The dog, not so much.

My thoughts circle like planes waiting to land. I have stories to write, stories to paint, energy that needs direction. I’m just not able to ground them yet.

I understand from my friends that I’m not alone in my slightly-befuddled condition. There are many of us parents and care-givers finding new ways to be as our young people make their own transitions. Here we are, in our holding patterns. Luck to us all, good flights, safe landings.




Into the City



It’s more than a city. In many ways, it’s The City, at least in this time and place. It’s spun up in so many stories that it’s difficult to know where the legend ends, and the mundane world begins. That’s a thin barrier between. And certain things have been leading me to think that perhaps there is no barrier at all, there, between what is, and what people have seen or said to be true about the place.


I had so many impressions of The City before I got there. It was in the O. Henry , the All-of-a-Kind Family, countless books I read as a child; it was the magical world of Auntie Mame, and so many old movies that the black, white, gray, and sepia of the concrete seem inevitable; the explosion of neon signage from a bodega is startling as a tiger.


Except for Times Square, home of color and lights and people, the 24-hour parade of glare and sweat, slow walkers and fast talkers. The streets are choked with people, oversized buses, construction equipment, yellow cabs, and the black SUVs and towncars that are the upscale statement of those who want to be noticed not taking a yellow cab. This is the New York of TV and movies, the morning and late night shows. Loud and intense and glaring and purposeful and explosive as a pinball machine with the glass off.


You may have noticed the conspicuous absence of story and tea last week: I was learning to navigate New York City with my teen son, Atticus. I did some research, prowling about MOMA and the American Museum of Natural History. We took a ferry to see the Lady in the Harbor. I fell obsessively in love with an old train station, too. Fascination is wonderful food for an artist.

We were also experiencing tales of a different sort: we saw a flurry of shows in the theater district. HAMILTON on Broadway! Astonishing thing.  It exceeded our expectations. Yes, even despite the hype. Really a remarkable piece of work, with important things to say about our country and government and those folks involved in the founding.  Things about pride, and determination, and love, and loss. Things about being human.

Our New York minute: we saw Neil Gaiman walking past; he was attending the same Hamilton performance. We refrained from saying hi, because we didn’t want to get the man mobbed. He’s got a BABY at home … if he’s getting a creative night out, good for him! It’s okay, life is big, and @neilhimself will get another chance to meet us sometime.

A friend laughingly commented on my “brush with fame.” My husband said, “Not really, Nancy gets to see Atticus nearly every day!” This is true. Although not for long, as he prepares to leave for college and his own adventures. The City was our last grand exploration together before he departs. And my life will be changing, hugely, also. So we took in The City, as much as we could. And it’s possible, perhaps inevitable, that standing on that threshold together defined our experience of New York.


Obligatory “what else we did,” to remind myself as much as anything:

We saw four other plays, each a living breathing piece of art. They resonated with us for different reasons; we saw our lives on the stage. Theater is a magic mirror that way.


We visited the East Side with friends and experienced a nosh fest and incredible banana pudding. We practiced transport via subway and train: relatively simple if you’ve done it even once, weirdly complex if the system is new to you. Wandered through graveyards, churches, memorials. Looked at the trees and fountains and memories where the World Trade Center buildings used to stand.

We had fantastic crepes, and really good pizza. We walked until my tendons felt like iron bars. Explored the world of the Stage Door, and met Interesting People from places near and far. New York City has a plethora of bookstores, and art supplies can be found where you least expect them. So I suppose it’s no surprise to find theater and art and music and books in evidence throughout the city, as part of the everyday lives of people participating in the experience. Powerful stuff, and had this blog post not already run so long, I’d be talking about the importance of cross-pollination in creative work. Maybe we’ll do that next time.


Suffice it to say that I’m back: worn, as you’d expect from seeing a legend in the flesh. Disillusioned and re-enchanted. Full of renewed purpose. Creativity crackling from the ends of my fingertips.  And I have a very different sense now of this city that makes up so much of the landscape of American art and letters and film and drama. The City. It feels real. It feels, in some small part, mine. And I suppose mine is now yet another story of The City. It’s built of them, after all.