Sunday, March 19, 2023

Book party and traveling again

I'm traveling today, which of course fills me with agita, especially since I haven't yet packed, and my good knee has been acting up so badly that when I tweaked it two weeks ago doing some mundane task of daily living, the pain was so bad I fainted. Alone at home. I came to almost at once, but that sensation of things blacking out, the world receding, will never not be weird. I think it was only the third time in my life that I had fainted, and come to think of it, each time was because of excruciating pain in that knee, the one that is usually the "good" knee. So I'm going to be a hobbling mess on this trip, where I will be meeting up with the new book team for some events, very exciting stuff, but I will be walking slow, making sure I place each knee at the correct angle, and feeling quietly embarrassed about slowing everyone down. 

The embarrassment? It's because I'm fat, and I always assume that people's unspoken thought is that my mobility issues are because of that. The world makes fat a moral issue, it shames people who carry extra weight, it does not consider that it is in fact a chronic medical issue, like diabetes or lupus, which no one gets shamed for. In fact, I inherited my mother's arthritis, which inhibited the free movement of her joints from the time she was in her early forties, and she was a thin woman. I'm sure being fat doesn't help my poor joints, but it's not to root cause. To make matters worse, there is a brand new pain in my left shin, like shin splints, only I have done no exercise that would cause such a thing, but there you go—a hobbling mess.

It was a good week anyway. All the kids came over on Wednesday evening, and that was big fun. My son and his wife seem so happy together, it makes my mother's heart content. My niece who is a college senior in Minneapolis and my nephew who is a college freshman in upstate New York have both been here all week, spending their spring break with their aunt and uncle and cousins in New York, as these siblings both live in Jamaica. That won't be true of my niece for much longer, as she is a brilliant STEM genie, and has been offered a tech world job for good money and residency status. So she will be moving to New York City when she graduates in May, and will stay with us until she and her two prospective roommates, friends who have also been offered good-paying tech jobs upon graduation, can find an apartment, most likely in hipster Brooklyn. All the young people are moving to Brooklyn. Meanwhile my other niece, Dani, who lived here after her graduation and was with us in covid lock down for a while, is giving up her lease in Brooklyn at the end of May to move in with her best friend from college. But that won't happen until September, so she may be back with us till then too. Arrindell Arms looks set to have a busy summer.

Also, happy pub week to Belonging by Michelle Miller! Her friends threw her a big book launch party on Monday evening, and she sprinkled kudos and shine over everyone in her life who has supported her. She really is an incredibly generous soul. I was happy to be there, but I think I won't go to any more of her book events, because the spotlight now should be squarely on her, it's her story, and when I am there, everyone is congratulating me, too. It feels weird. Collaborative writing, once called ghostwriting—I dislike that term but have to admit it is descriptive of the arrangement—is not compatible with too much ego, and while mine is very healthy, I do think that once the book is written, it becomes the subject's turn on the stage, and time for me to step back into the wings, feeling all pride in the work we did, but from the sidelines. Bless Michelle for acknowledging me everywhere so freely, but now it's over to you, my friend. I adore you. 

Wish me luck in Washington, D.C. this week. In addition to my blooming anxiety I am also feeling quite a bit of anticipation. I mean, everything could go well, right? And whatever happens, I will be having a highlight experience, being backstage in a world that few people ever get to see. I do love my life, screaming joints and all. 

Here are a few pictures people took at the book party. I posted these on social media, but I want to have the record here as well.

Sunday, March 12, 2023



My darling niece Leisa, my heart daughter, did a pregnancy shoot with her husband while they were in Mexico on their babymoon vacation last week. I haven't had much time to write here lately, but how could I not post these joyful photographs of my beloveds, who will become first time parents early this summer. We're all headed to Dallas in a couple of weeks for their baby shower, and I can hardly wait to wrap my arm around my niece, place a palm on her belly, and say hello to my soon-to-arrive grand niece. This heralds a whole new stage for our family. I'm so ready.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Toni Forever

"It started that way: laughing children, dancing men, crying women and then it got mixed up. Women stopped crying and danced; men sat down and cried; children danced, women laughed, children cried until, exhausted and riven, all and each lay about the Clearing damp and gasping for breath. In the silence that followed, Baby Suggs, holy, offered up to them her great big heart." —Toni Morrison, Beloved
God, how she wrote. The way she made words shimmer. I imagine Toni as Baby Suggs in that forever place, holy with her great big heart, the patron saint of questing writers. "You want to be a writer, so write," she said to me the summer I was her college intern at Knopf. A link to my recollections of that summer, which I wrote as a tribute on the occasion of her dying, is here. And now the great Toni Morrison has posthumously been honored with her own Forever stamp. How cool is that?

Thursday, March 2, 2023


It just never gets old, opening the box and holding that first bound copy in your hands, the matte feel of the cover, the grassy smell of the paper, the inked words looking all official, the way you dreamed it as a little girl, but never thought such a thing could ever be possible. Dreams, I now understand, are so powerful as to leap hurdles of doubt, geography, implausibility. "All you have to do is envision it," my cousin Helen used to tell me. "The  spirit universe will take care of the rest." You have to know Helen. When she says things like this, people simply believe her.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, this book that I wrote from hours and hours of interviews and conversations with CBS Saturday Morning co-host Michelle Miller and others in her circle through most of last year has been made an Amazon Editor's Pick! This makes me so happy, because despite the foundational wound of her White Chicana mother abandoning her Black daughter at birth, Michelle is a beautiful human, her heart as wide as a continent, her whole being irrepressible and generous and brave. 

The pub date is March 14, 2023, but you can pre-order here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Good Morning

I turned in the preface and first three chapters yesterday morning. And now we wait. My subject and I worked on the pages together, and she pronounced herself very happy with the result, but now we would like the editor and publisher to be happy with them, too. It definitely helps that my subject has approved them. Perhaps that means the additional edits will be lighter, we shall see. 

I don't usually turn in any pages till I have a full draft, so it was interesting to note the different approaches I have when drafting the story versus when I'm preparing the manuscript to be turned in. I'm rough and ready in the former stage, forcing myself to just get down the words, to tell the story plainly, trusting lyricism to find its way in, if not in the first draft, then later. There's a forward momentum to the process, an energy to keep going, knowing that you will be able to improve what's there in subsequent passes. 

It's different when you're trying to get a piece to the level of polish needed for its release to judge and executioner. You're reading in an entirely different way, literally weighing every word, listening for the rhythm of the sentences, the pacing of the narrative, figuring out how much telling you can do before showing—building actual scenes with dialogue, allowing the reader to see, hear, touch, smell, and relate emotionally to the action. 

I swear I read those first twenty thousand words more than a hundred times, until it all began to seem incredibly flat (fortunately, I now know this is a real stage, the conviction that everything you've written is drivel). And then, on Sunday night before I was to email the chapters to the rest of the team, I suddenly realized why I couldn't stop fiddling with them. It was because the very first paragraph kept bothering me. It was okay, it was serviceable, it did the job we wanted it to do, but something just never felt quite right to me. And suddenly, on maybe the one hundred and tenth reading, I knew exactly what I needed to do the fix it! 

Honestly, it was a thrilling moment. It simply entailed changing the paragraph from the present to the past tense and pulling a sentence from the middle of the first page to be the opening salvo, a far more immediate entry, set in the consciousness of my subject, rather than in the consciousness of people in the room looking on. It was internal emotion and wonder versus external description, and it reminded me why, as hard as this process often feels, I love what I do. There will be further changes of course. I am also an editor, and I understand the value of the editing process, a necessary collaboration. How many times have you read an almost brilliant book and thought, if only it had been more bravely edited?

So I'm talking about writing again, because this is how my days are being spent right now. It's all consuming, really. But yesterday I went for a walk with my friend Jane. We call these walks our bench tour (as in "Fancy an afternoon bench tour?"), because we walk the garden paths from one bench to another, sitting for a while on any bench that is drenched by sun (it was below freezing out) and chatting about our lives. She is heading to London for a solo vacation today, and was feeling a lot of stress about that. She shares my travel anxiety, which probably means she will be just fine once she actually arrives. Steve, I told her I have a friend in London who I could reach out to on her behalf in a crisis. I hope I didn't overstep! I'm pretty sure there will be no crisis, and that she will have a wonderful time, with no one to please but herself. 

In other news, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Biden's standing to authorize student loan forgiveness this morning. On the day applications for forgiveness opened last fall, my two kids and my niece immediately applied, so that when my husband and I, hearing on the news that the portal was open, called to let them know, they reported, oh, we already sent everything in this morning. Their diligence put them among the 16 million applicants who got the proposed portion of their loans approved for cancellation before the legal challenge to Biden's program was filed, though the actual forgiveness is on pause pending the outcome of the litigation. In my daughter's case, this would wipe out the remaining portion of her federal student loan entirely. I do hope everyone else who stands to benefit will be able to do so once the court rules. But with the current composition of the court, that is hardly a given.

It's currently snowing in New York City, the first real snow of the winter. I'm imagining being in a room with a stained glass window as serene as the one in the photo up top. It reminds me of when I spent two charmed weeks at Yaddo twenty-three years ago now. My children were babies then, and my mother came to stay to help out while I was away. I remember my cousin Karen joked to my husband, "I hope my niece and nephew are being cared for to the same standard as when their mother is there?" "Oh no," my husband told her. "The standard is much higher. Their grandmother is here." 

He wasn't lying.

Happy Tuesday, my dear friends. 

I'm off to visit you all.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Notes from the week


Our friends Lisa and Ozier brought us those lovely tulips last Sunday when they came over to watch the Super Bowl with us. We all enjoyed Rihanna's half time show in the sky, her swollen belly front and center, setting off a flurry of coast to coast texting: Is she pregnant again? She definitely looks pregnant. And so she is. More power to her and hers. All day Monday I kept photographing my tulips as the light played across them through my kitchen window. The colors were so delicate as the buds opened and bowed their lovely heads. They gave me hours and hours of joy.


All my wordsmithing mojo is going into work right now, but I don't want to neglect writing here. It allows me to keep in touch with you dear friends, while also affording me writing practice. Nothing will go very wrong if I express myself inartfully here, though it will help to keep the connection between mind and fingers-on-keyboard, staving off the dreaded writer's block. If I'm being honest, I don't really believe in writer's block, at least not for myself. Writer's block is really fear of being judged and found wanting, but my parents buried even more deeply than that fear (which I do possess in abundance) the idea that one must honor one's commitments, and so if I have a deadline, it would actually be worse to blow past it than it would be to turn in a piece of writing that still needs work. Writing, after all, is always in process. I once read that a book is never truly finished, only inked. And indeed, in every book I have had a part in, even after it is inked, I still see edits I wish I could make, ways to make the narrative flow more effortlessly, carrying the reader along. That is the goal anyway. Writing is a kind of progressive sight, as new things rise into awareness that you hadn't thought of before. That's why those books that take ten years to finish end up being so brilliant—case in point: Isabelle Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns. And look, I have banged on about writing again, when that is really not what I intended to do when I opened this page. 


I've been thinking a lot about Senator John Fetterman, the new Democrat from Pennsylvania, who checked himself into Walter Reed Hospital this week to be treated for worsening depression. I admire so much that he did that, despite being a public figure, knowing all the vitriol it would draw from right wing doomscrollers, who have said and posted the ugliest things about him since he suffered a stroke at the height of his Senate campaign. He won the seat anyway, because voters saw his humanity. I want to wrap this big, huge man with his valiant heart on his sleeve in emotional safety. I wish I could protect him from the world. A story by Jennifer Senior in The Atlantic reflected on what the senator has been dealing with since being sworn into Congress in January. The piece might be behind a paywall so I'll quote part of it here.

It is said that he was unhappy that he missed out on (and still hasn’t gotten) the time he needed to properly recover from his stroke. And now here he is, in one of the most public-facing jobs imaginable—possibly even more so than the presidency, where you have the luxury of retreating into the antiqued seclusion of the White House, away from reporters and constituents.

On top of this, Fetterman was spending his weekdays alone, apart from his wife and three children, who are still in Braddock, Pennsylvania. For most of the week, he doesn’t have his loved ones by his side, the people with whom he could safely pull off the mask. Instead, he had to perform all day long, then return to an empty home.

Illness, too, can be cruelly isolating. Fetterman was trying to adapt to a demanding, high-intensity job with closed-captioning at his desk and audio-to-text transcriptions of committee hearings; he carries a tablet that converts what his colleagues say into text. This technological wizardry might make his work easier to do, but it also sets him apart, accentuating how different his lot is from everyone else’s. I’m guessing it isn’t easy to experience this difference during every interaction he has—not when his condition is so new, not when he hasn’t had ample time to adjust.

Fetterman has basically been forced to contend with the effects of a severe brain trauma while working an absurdly demanding job in one of the most polarized and toxic political climates the country has ever known.

It breaks my heart, thinking of what these past months have been like for him. I pray he takes the time he needs to heal and gets everything that he requires medically and emotionally, including renewed immersion in the life of his beautiful wife and three children, who seem to anchor him.


Bathroom update—it's finally done! It was a lot, especially since the first tile I chose for the floor looked wrong. What I thought would be gentle watercolor swirls of gray in the 6-inch white hex tiles, ended up being hard black slashes in every direction on random tiles, and most of those tiles happened to end up in the middle of the bathroom. In a larger area, it would probably have been okay, but in that postage stamp-sized space, it was jarring. It had been laid when I was away in D.C. for work, and when I got back and saw it, I realized I couldn't bear to live with it, that after already spending so much money to renovate that tiny bathroom, we needed to just go ahead and spend more to have the tiles drilled up and new ones laid. Here's a picture showing the tiles I hated, and the ones I chose to replace them.

My change order put everything back two weeks, but the contractor remained gracious, even as I worked myself up into a frenzy to express how much I needed to have the floor changed, as if I was afraid he might refuse me if I wasn’t emphatic enough. He reminded me that the goal was for me to be happy, and so if I needed the tiles changed, then of course he would make that happen. I felt so guilty about making him do the work twice, my husband merely rolled his eyes, but now I am indeed happy with the new floors, simple white 2-inch hex tiles with platinum gray grout. 

I'm happy with the rest of the bathroom, too, though it is true what my friend Lisa said, it is still only a bathroom, nice and clean and new, nothing rusty and broken in there anymore, yet it changes nothing essential about my life. But it has been accomplished, this thing I have dreamed for some years now, and I am relieved to no longer be looking at woefully discolored grout and grungy looking, worn through enamel in and around the bathtub. I am planning at some point to also redo the other bathroom, though I think I need a good long break from construction happening in the background of my life. The tiny hallway bathroom ended up taking two weeks longer to complete than the kitchen. I suppose that's just how these things go.

Here are a couple of pictures, but they don't really reflect what I see in real life, as the bathroom is so small it's hard to get a good perspective. But it's done at last, and I'm grateful.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Dinner with my beautiful girl

She comes into the city to be in person in her office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, working remotely from her home in Brooklyn the rest of the days. In New York, “the city” generally means Manhattan. All other boroughs are called by their proper names. Anyway, since she was already going to be in the city, we made a plan to meet up for dinner in Battery Park. Her office windows overlook the reflecting pools where the two World Trade Center towers used to be. It’s a fairly fancy part of town, with wall to wall cops on every block because of what happened there 22 years ago now. Everything has since been rebuilt. It’s all even shinier than before. My girl and I sat in a cozy round booth and ordered our usual margaritas and also scallops and mussels and she was as radiant as always, even though she’s working through some hard life stuff. She also doesn’t love her present job, but she’s doing well there anyway, managing corporate tech crises like the boss she is. Her old boss from her last job reached out to her and said, “Let’s start a business together. But seriously.” They’re actually going to meet to brainstorm this week. They had such a good connection when they worked together, and they’ve forged a full friendship now that they’re no longer in hierarchical roles. We agreed one can make new and true friends throughout life, as evidenced by how close I have become in the past couple of years to a neighbor whose son and mine played together growing up. We were fellow parents then. Now we’re irreverent besties who don’t have to mince words. My daughter and I also raised our spicy margaritas to toast the fact that I’ve completed the three chapters I need to turn in to the publisher soon, phase one of my contracted delivery dates, but first my subject will need to engage with the pages, and give me any changes she might want to make. I’m ahead of the schedule we agreed on (always under promise and over deliver my dad used to say), but I went ahead and told my subject I’d get the chapters to her this coming Wednesday, so I’d have to honor my word and not back out. It never gets easier to turn over a piece of writing and wait for the verdict, but one has to be brave. I’m now twenty-two thousand words into the narrative. Roughly eighty thousand more to go. This is utterly disjointed and stream of consciousness. I’ve been deep in the work trenches, missing you all. But seeing my girl on Thursday evening, that was like all the light in the world breaking through. Just being in her company brings me such joy. She is wise and complicated and loving. My world spins easily in the sun of her smile. 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Holding space


Photo: Jnane Tamsna

Tyre Nichols was just trying to get home

I am lying here in the darkness with the covers over my head, brooding on the things in this world that derail and ravage me, and the king of them all is sorrow. 

Uncertainty, the unresolved, that feels like a vise grip on my heart sometimes, thoughts looping and insides churning, tied in knots. The physicality of fear, because what else could it be when uncertainty so unravels us, is really quite literal when you’re experiencing it, as I have been of late. Yet I keep on. 

But sorrow. That is the thing that lays me down, hollows me out, makes me useless and unable to move forward. The sorrow of Black mothers. 

I like awake in the night and pray to God, love, universe, whoever or whatever is pulling the strings, to protect my beloveds, to protect all our beloveds, to keep them safe, let their hearts rest easy. Let them not meet trouble. 

Because sorrow. Especially of Black mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, lovers, friends. 

“I’m just trying to get home,” the young Black father, artist, and skateboarder told those Memphis cops who pulled him over "on suspicion of reckless driving"—well, was he or wasn't he? Couldn't they tell?? They beat the young man mercilessly, kicked and pepper sprayed and pummeled him, though he tried his best to comply, tried to deescalate things, even though he knew he hadn't been doing anything wrong. When he realized they meant to murder him, he tried to run, but they caught up to him, and battered him some more. Three days later he died in the hospital, and five of the cops involved were summarily fired, all of them happened to be Black. There has been little mention of the sixth cop who was out there brutalizing young Tyre Nichols. That cop wasn't fired, no need to wonder why, because that cop happens to be white.

Writer Jemele Hill pointed out that anyone who thinks this isn't about race because the five cops charged are Black is failing to grasp that police forces were founded on and continue to operate from a code of white supremacist violence, and non-white officers trained "under the boot of oppression" learn to carry that water. Also, as activist Bree Newsome Bass noted, "The white owner class is not policed or surveilled because the function of police is to maintain the race/class hierarchy." Don't forget, our nation's police forces evolved from Southern slave patrols. Does any of us truly think those cops would have beaten and brutalized a young white man in the same way?

Not gonna lie, this one has me by the throat, as George Floyd's murder did, as Breonna Taylor's and Philando Castile's murders did, and so many others whose innocent Black bodies were so savagely destroyed by the police state.

Rest in peace Tyre Nichols. Your mother said you were a good son. Your friends called you a beautiful soul. You were trying to be a good father. You did not deserve to die.

Thursday, January 26, 2023


Is that not an extraordinary looking man? I am mesmerized by his face, as if he were real. He isn’t. He’s painted by a digital creator under the name @creolexhibit, a self described “mystical fine artist.” I don't even know the gender of the artist but I do love the work, which I found on Instagram. I look into the faces of the people in these digital paintings and they tell me stories, entire and full blown.

Re my last sad post, I'm mostly fine now, at peace with my Uncle Al's passing, because what a fine and joyful life he had for 97 years. And my girl seems okay for the moment (fingers crossed the wind didn't change as I wrote that) so I'm just engaging with the work that is in front of me to do and letting that take over my consciousness as much as it can. 

I traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to do interviews, got back last night, and as much as I agonized about the trip beforehand (eye roll, because don't I always agonize about showing up), it felt warm and rich and connected and gave me lots of new material to dig into. I have to say I'm "in it" now, this new manuscript I have been contracted to achieve. I don't know how good any of what I'm writing is yet, but I do wake up each morning eager to get to my laptop so I can continue, and that it definitely a sign that the story is beginning to live inside me, with random thoughts about what I should do in a particular paragraph, or a particular section, occurring anywhere, anytime. I love when that starts happening. Oh I have a far, far way to go, but I'm on the road, or in the water, depending on which metaphor for long journeys you prefer. 

I do need to get another puzzle going on my dining table, as so many connections happen when I'm not really thinking about the writing, just hunting for the next jigsaw piece. Plus there's the whole thing about just finding the next piece, writing the next sentence, doing the next indicated thing—a puzzle reminds me of all that. Here's the one sitting at my elbow that I think I will start on later tonight. Hello, my dear friends in this pearlized blue world. I am so happy to be with you here.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Day break

I’m sad. The world is sad. Another mass shooting in California last night. And this morning the news the my Uncle Al has died, that wonderful man who so championed me, who openly and unabashedly hoped I would be his daughter in law but then fully supported my relationship with the man I would ultimately marry, whom he had known since my husband was a boy. He had been my husband’s family doctor in Antigua, and before that he and my Aunt Myra had become close friends of my parents when he was studying medicine in England and my dad was there studying law. They were part of an expat student community there, young men and women from the many different islands of the Caribbean pursuing medicine and law. Uncle Al and the lovely Myra became parents to two sons and two daughters, including a woman my age who would become like a sister, and who in 1983 would introduce me to my future husband. It was in Uncle Al’s home that I stayed when I visited my husband in Antigua in the years before we were married. Uncle Al talked to us both of love, of growing old together, his wit and wisdom the very definition of sparkling. I have always thought of him as the godfather of my relationship, an example my husband and I could follow into the future, a beacon of how to be. And now he is gone, and it hit me harder than I was expecting, perhaps because I am sad right now about other things too. Strange how sadness and worry can blot out the light, reducing consciousness to a pinprick, and you have to remind yourself to breathe. And yet the last thing you want is to add another layer to anyone else’s portion of pain, and so you must carry the big rock sitting on your chest like the stoic you aren’t, keep doing life somehow, praying that everyone and everything will be healed, comforted, redeemed. This earth life is messy and hard. For the 97 years he was here, Uncle Al made it less so.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Zoom zoom


Just got off a big Zoom check in with the publishing team for my current project, and now I can exhale. I always get so nervous before these meetings, but it went off beautifully, every person on the call seeming to operate from a generous head space, all players in touch with their humanity, which is to say, with love. Is that a weird thing to note about a work meeting? Because I do think the whole secret to the success of this collaborative endeavor, when you strip everything else away, is love.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The things you think keep you safe, don’t

It’s been a while since I’ve lain awake in the dark, a rock on my chest, mother fear swirling so hard I can barely breathe. I try to tell myself that fears are only imaginings, and whatever comes down the pike will be met and survived anyway. Still, I cannot bear the thought of my children’s hearts at risk, as if I can bubble wrap them and spare them life’s pain. I wish I weren’t brooding on the fact that my sunshine daughter seems to be struggling right now, in part because I gave her my overthink-everything-brace-for-catastrophe gene. And my son and his wife will soon travel to a place where everyone might not be hospitable to their interracial union. Will they be safe? These are the things that keep me up at night. This night. I am twisting on a spit of anxiety and dark mother thoughts and can’t seem to reason myself free. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Trying: a synonym for living

I was just so taken with this list of new year resolutions posted on Instagram by writer, artist, and performer Alok Vaid-Menon. Meet Alok, if you don't already know them. A joyful, intrepid, and empathic soul.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023


Some readers here were so upset at my post about watching the Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan, and my expressed sympathy for the couple, my believing their experience as they related it, that they wrote me "how could you" and "I'm so disappointed in you" messages, and summarily took themselves away from being in community here. I accept that. Because by my lights, Harry and Meghan have every right to tell their story in their way, to speak the truth as they see it, regardless of what the British tabloid media might have to say about them, indeed especially because of what the British tabloids have already said about them, chewing them up mercilessly in sacrifice to more senior members of the royal family—Charles and Camilla, William and Kate, if you want to name names, and their faceless courtiers. Why should Harry and Meghan remain silent in the face of lies told about them? Of the ugliest, most violent racist and sexists tropes arrayed against them by bitter old men whom Camilla invites to her Queen Consort luncheons and teas? 

All that to say, I am now reading Prince Harry's new book Spare, which he wrote with a very fine collaborator, J.R. Moehringer, who also penned Andre Agassi's critically acclaimed memoir Open. (J.R. Moehringer's name isn't on the cover of either book, which is why I'm naming him here, because I know he talked deeply with Harry through weeks and months, perhaps even years of interviews, and labored with him over each carefully chosen word.) I'm still only a few chapters into Spare, but I find the book to be exceptionally well written and emotionally revealing. Harry is not trying to hide. He only wants to tell the tale from where he stood, with as much self examination as he can muster. And once again, I believe him. This is how it was, and is for him, as he and his biracial wife continue to be demonized, with the British press putting out a statement yesterday—gleaned as always from a mysterious palace "source"—that the royal family cannot reconcile with Harry as long as he remains "kidnapped by the cult of psychotherapy and Meghan." 

And there it is. Your Black wife or the family firm, buddy boy. I applaud Harry for choosing his wife and children. As far as I'm concerned, don't come for this broken kid with the royally ostracized mother hounded to her death by paparazzi, this young man who so painstakingly put himself back together, who ultimately found and chose love, despite its obvious inconveniences, and who is now daring to push back against lifelong conditioning that says he should bear his trauma in stoic silence, to tell his side of the story.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Six, The Musical

Another fantastic evening with my fave theater buddy. We did our usual pre-show dinner and margaritas at Seamore’s, then saw "Six," a rock performance about the six wives of Henry VIll reclaiming their stories from the patriarchy. This was my girl’s Christmas gift to me, and we loved the show! The audience was on its feet, dancing at our seats. As we were leaving, my girl said, “Wait, we still have to take our theater selfie!” And so we did. These Broadway nights in January are the best mother-daughter holiday tradition ever. 


Saturday, January 7, 2023

Book news!

The book I was working on most of last year got announced today—co-host of CBS Saturday Morning Michelle Miller did the cover reveal and shared her memoir's upcoming pub date on her show, so now I can share it here, too!

From the book's flap copy: "Belonging is the powerful and poignant chronicle of Michelle's decades-long quest to connect with the woman who gave her life, to confront her past, and ultimately to find her voice as a journalist, a wife, and a mother ... At once heartbreaking and uplifting, what emerges is an intimate family story about secrets—the secrets we keep, the secrets we share, and the secrets that make us who we are." 

The book will be published on March 14, but you can pre-order it now. Michelle shares a hopeful, intimate, and courageous story about race and identity in America, and the quest to discover, or create, the places where we belong. Also, I loved working with her! She's one of the kindest, most invigorating, and generous humans you will ever know.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Work January

The bathroom renovation started with full scale demo yesterday. This was all supposed to happen in December, but then the man and I got Covid over Thanksgiving, and everything had to be delayed. I sit here at my desk listening to the sounds of tiles breaking and smashing to the floor, wall plaster crumbling, debris coming loose. The sink and toilet and medicine cabinet have already disappeared, I never even saw them going out my door. The good news is that I am not as wracked with panic and uncertainty over my material choices as I was with the kitchen remodel last spring, most likely because my thyroid medication is now back in balance so I'm not spinning into darkness, which means I am able to tell myself that it's just a bathroom. So what if it's not high design? We just need it to be clean and bright and functional. Even so, I'm sure I'll learn a whole lot from this process that we can then apply to the back bathroom remodel, whenever that comes around.

In the meantime, the writing life is slowly reclaiming me. I have begun to live again inside the stories, holding each one up to the light, considering the facets, musing on how to best arrange the details to reveal the essential thing. My subject on this book is perhaps more fully engaged in thinking through the material than any subject I have previously worked with. She is ready and willing to delve deeply, the peel back layers, to be thoughtful and brave. But after drafting a preface I am still only on chapter one, and it is always the hardest chapter, because it sets the tone, yet it takes place before a person's memories are truly their own, and so the exact right details to bring the story into view can be elusive. But I'm definitely in it now, mulling day and night over what I know so far, living with the stories inside me as I function in the world, making morning coffee, cleaning up the kitchen and packing the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, dismantling the puzzle completed on the dining table, picking out end pieces for a new puzzle as I re-listen to interview tapes to get my subject's particular way of expressing herself back in my head, trying to remind myself that I just need to get down a bad draft first, and then lift it up from there. 

As someone observed on Post News, the new gathering place for Twitter escapees, "Holiday January is over. Work January has begun." Welcome to 2023 in earnest, dear friends. Doesn't it sound just a little bit like science fiction?

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Highlight reel

Happy new year my dear friends. Highlights of the past year? Easy. My son got married to his love. My daughter got engaged to her love. And my niece, who I think of as my third child, is expecting a child of her own with her love, whose wedding we attended in Jamaica two short months before the world got locked down and everything changed forever. It's always about the children for me. If they're happy and doing well, then life is good, no matter what other challenges might be in the wings. It's such a simple equation, really, and in 2020, despite some sadness (it's real life after all), the equation definitely favored our family. My new daughter-in-law shared with me some of the wedding photo proofs they got before Christmas. I particularly enjoyed seeing the moments where I wasn't—my son getting ready with his groomsmen, his boys, the whole wedding party on the way to the lakeside chapel, their buoyant mood, their celebration and joy. Here are are few of the photos from that day that were new to me, because what better way to ring in the new year than to relive a sublime love-filled weekend in the woods that was absolutely a highlight of the outgoing year.