Friday, June 4, 2010

The Purple Jacket Goes to the White House

Key West -- I bought the purple jacket back in early April on a rare trip to Miami. I went to the only Mall I know in a city of malls (I've come to hate shopping, though I'm not opposed to having pretty things. I just want them to magically appear in my closet with no effort on my part, when I need them). Alas, that's not how it works. So I walked into a snazzy department store where I seemed to be the only shopper on a sunny Sunday afternoon and explained that I was looking for a jacket - dressy but not formal - and not black. Oh, and it had to fit really well.

As I walked around with Jane, the salesperson, I spotted the purple jacket. I have a thing for purple. (Yes, still!) Jane pointed out that it went with a dress but could be sold separately. Can't remember the last time I wore a dress. And a purple dress topped by a purple jacket would be too much even for me. But I slipped on the jacket and voila - it fit perfectly. And even in my cargo pants, t-shirt, and Mephistos I knew it looked good. Nevermind that it was way more than I'd normally spend -- with George asleep on the grass outside the store, and a long ride ahead of us back to Key West, I figured if ever there was a time for fast, but pricey, this was it.

I had no idea at the time I'd wear the purple jacket three times during the month of May, starting with the New Jersey Hall of Fame, then to the Authors Guild gala, and finally, to the White House. Yes, that White House. Had no idea why we were invited to this reception. The invitation said something about celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month. Who even knew there was a Jewish American Heritage month?

But any chance to go to this White House was a chance I wasn't going to miss. I was once invited for dinner during the Clinton administration, and, in my Good Girl Judy mode, sent regrets because I was expected on the west coast that day where a series of meetings had already been set up. When my son heard he was beside himself. Don't you know an invitation to the White House takes precedence over everything else? Okay. Now I know.

It was seriously hot and humid in Washington on Thursday afternoon (May 27). Too hot for the purple jacket. But I wore it anyway. We arrived just before three. Who knew we'd be standing on line sweltering in the hot afternoon sun waiting to get through security? But once we were inside, it was so worth it. We didn't expect to enjoy ourselves (expected only to enjoy the experience) but we did!

Abigail Pogrebin got it just right in this piece.


We met so many fascinating people, doing all sorts of interesting things. And the smart, spunky Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Broward County, FL was there (someone I'd wanted to meet since I'd seen her on TV almost every night during the presidential primaries). I'd read that this celebration was her idea. Thanks, Debbie!

For a humorous take on the afternoon check this out: Heeb Magazine

But wait a minute, Josh -- we didn't see any food. Not a cookie, not a cracker, or a strawberry dipped in chocolate, let alone London Broil. We thought that was one of the jokes of the afternoon. What do you feed several hundred Jews? Champagne!


While I know the First Lady was in the ballroom, as was the Vice Prez, I didn't lay eyes on them. Can't even tell you what Michelle was wearing. Those in the know gathered outside the ballroom doors early, waiting for them to open, and got the up front seats. By the time we entered the only seats left were in the back. We did see Obama but that's because he was at the raised podium and Danny Schayes (7 feet tall) finally sat down.

The absolute best part of the afternoon -- Regina Spektor played and sang for us. If you don't know her music check it out now. She is amazing. It was a thrill to meet her and find out my books helped her to learn English when she emigrated from Russia as a child.


Regina -- I am your fan for life!

And that's it for the merry month of May and the posts that tell the story.
Thanks for checking in.
xx Judy

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vixen

Key West -- During our three week whirlwind visit to New York and Boston, where we packed in more than I can even blog about, one of the most memorable events was being inducted into the Harvard Lampoon.

I am now officially a Vixen. And that's about all I'm permitted to say because it's all very secret.

When I paddle around this summer in a kayak that was christened Vixen back when Summer Sisters was published (remember Caitlin and Vix who called themselves Cassandra and Vixen?) I'll be thinking secretly, Hey, I'm a Vixen, too.

I can tell you this -- it was a dark and stormy night. For real. Buckets of rain and cold wind (so Boston). George and I were staying with Randy and when she saw the robin's egg blue leather jacket I was planning to wear, with the open work in back, she said, Kind of Michael Jackson for you, isn't it, Mother? Was it? Hmm... Wish I had a photo of the back of the jacket. I admit, it's outre, but fun to wear.

Both Randy and George came with me with the Lampoon's permission. They also were sworn to secrecy once we entered the castle. No kidding, the Lampoon is housed in its own castle on the Harvard campus. (Randy and George weren't with me for the official induction so only I know what really happened and I'll never tell except that it was dark and mysterious...)

For months I'd been emailing with Damilare, who extended the invitation on behalf of the Lampoon. I'd imagined a tall, exotic, female student
. The truth hit me when I asked if the evening was to be festive or casual dress. Whatever you feel like wearing. It really doesn't matter, was Damilare's reply. Suddenly, I knew Damilare was a guy! No woman would say that to another woman.

Judy with Damilare Sonoiki, and Courtney Bowman, current president of the Lampoon, outside the Castle.

And what a good sport he was when I told him my story. I love that this big, handsome guy grew up reading my books, already has book ideas of his own, and is part of the Lampoon. I think it's okay to say (at least I hope it is) that Courtney's parents met when both were on the Lampoon staff. I'll bet there were a lot of laughs around their dinner table.



Here's my official medal. So cool!



Thanks, everyone on the Lampoon staff, especially Damilare and Courtney.
xx Judy

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Graduates

Key West -- 'Tis the season for graduations and this year I got to celebrate, too.





My commencement was at Rutgers and I got to wear a regal crimson gown and black velvet hat. I loved parading around in it.

George now calls me Dr. J. It's not my first honorary degree. That was at Mount Holyoke College -- see my commencement blog of Friday, May 29, 2009 titled SAT (For Better or Worse). But because I grew up in New Jersey, being honored by Rutgers has special meaning.

I have Susan Wilson to thank for this. Susie was my champion. She's the one who sparked my interest in Answer and Sexetc. Because of her I serve on the Advisory Board of this important organization which is part of the Center for Applied Psychology at Rutgers. Thanks, Susie!

But back to Rutgers and my memories of spending weekends there, bunking with students at Douglas College (Rutgers' sister school in the days when the two schools were segregated by sex), and going to fraternity parties with boys. I never learned to like the taste of beer but not drinking didn't stop me from having fun. (I'm sure I had more fun than the kids who got drunk and sick. Ugh!)

Who would have imagined then, that fifty years later I'd be back for an honorary degree? For anyone interested, below is a video.

video

And you know what the best thing about it was? I didn't have to give a commencement address. So I could relax, enjoy, and listen while Eleanor Smeal, former president of NOW spoke. She focused on the fiftieth anniversary of The Pill and how it changed the lives of women. Can you believe it's been fifty years?

I have no idea who gave the commencement address at my high school graduation in 1956, nor do I remember a thing he/she said. I remember only clutching the hand of my best friend, Mary Sullivan (lucky for us we were seated next to each other, connected by the alphabet - Sullivan and Sussman). Her hand was clammy. I think we wore white. I have no memory of receiving my diploma. And four years later, when I graduated from NYU, I skipped commencement. My diploma arrived by mail. I was married with a baby by then. I felt too grown up for graduation. Little did I know! Which is why, I think, all these graduations mean so much to me.

So congratulations graduates everywhere -- you made it! And now, another beginning. I wish you all the best.
Love,
Judy

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jersey Girl

New York -- day 12 of our whirlwind visit to the city. But let's start at the beginning. The Miss New Jersey contest -- oh, wait! -- that's what George called it, but really it was the New Jersey Hall of Fame. What a night, what a hoot!

First there was the heat. The temperature outside was 90 plus that afternoon. The car picked us up at 3:30. The air conditioning worked for about 5 minutes then cut off. I don't even like air conditioning. I'm a person who rarely sweats. And I like to sweat, at the gym, or in my tap class --but not when I'm wearing my new purple jacket and an hour's worth of "natural" looking makeup, professionally applied. By the time we reached the NJ Performing Arts Center in Newark I was ready for a swim. Instead, it was red carpet time -- directly from the car -- no chance to use the restroom first. And if I thought it was hot inside the car, the red carpet with all those lights made it feel like a sweat lodge.

George denies he's the guy with me here -- says it must be my bodyguard. But we know better.

Soon Frankie Valli arrived and the crowd went wild. At the end of my final TV spot I sang to him.

video

Can't believe I did that in public!

Then, bliss -- the cool air of the lobby of the theater, and a glorious theater it is. An opera house that seats 2,000. I headed for the Womens Room where I stripped down, spritzed myself with water, and paper towel dried, praying my deodorant was still working. It was -- whew! I mean, Miss New Jersey with smelly armpits?! But this is probably more than you want to know.

Each honoree was assigned a "minder" (that's what they call them in the UK) -- someone to make sure you get to where you need to be when you need to be there. Only problem was, our minders weren't properly informed (no fault of theirs) so mine didn't know there was a dressing room for me, or a green room with snacks and drinks where the official photo of this year's Class was taken. I made it just in time. Beautiful Susan Sarandon, who was there, isn't in this photo. Maybe her minder didn't know either. That's Michael Graves in a Segway chair. Thrilling to meet him.

And not bad, being seated between Jack Nicholson and Frankie Valli, with Carl Lewis behind us, and one of my favorites, Danny DeVito, next to Frankie. I was disappointed that Philip Roth didn't make it. He is surely one of America's finest novelists. Not to mention that our mothers went to high school in Elizabeth together.

Each of us was introduced by a video.



OMG -- was I ever that young and earnest? And how about David Letterman and Tom Brokaw in 1980? But that narrator's voice! Makes everyone's life sound so, well, lifeless.


I was lucky to have the fabulously smart and funny Judy Gold as my presenter.

We met when I went to her play 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother.


Most moving moment of the evening -- widow of a police officer who was shot and killed on duty in Jersey City. He was acknowledged as a NJ hero. With three small kids, the youngest just a year old when her husband was killed, I'd say she's pretty heroic herself.

Funniest -- The Boss introducing Danny DeVito, then DeVito himself!

Four hours after it began the show ended. Even the Academy Awards don't last that long! As Jack Nicholson said at about 9:30 -- It's hard to give an after dinner speech when you still haven't had your dinner.

Something I've been thinking about -- from age 12 on I dreamed about living on the other side of the Hudson, which I finally managed when I went to NYU. For a long time I hated to be asked where I was from (wanting to be seen as someone more exotic?) though I never denied my Jersey roots. After all, N.J. was, and continues to be, an inspiration - so many of my books are set there, including the one I'm just starting. But lately, when someone asks where I'm from, I say proudly -- Hey, I'm a Jersey Girl! Ya wanna make something of it?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chicken Little

Key West -- this adorable chick(en) in New Hampshire has been given my name, with my blessing. She's going to visit classrooms to promote reading.

Look! "Judy Blume" is wearing a crown in this photo.

This is what Wendy Thomas-- (as heard on NH public Radio and seen on WMUR Channel 9, Wendy has also been a guest on the Chicken Whisperer’s radio show and has been featured in Parenting NH, Backyard Poultry, Woman’s Day, and Reader’s Digest for her chicken stories and adventures in thrift) wrote to me:

When it came time to choose our “Judy Blume” chick, there was no discussion. The answer was obvious. Remember the smallest little Amberlink chick who got sick after one of her sisters died? The one that we put into a chick ICU box to keep her safe and warm? The little girl I held warm to my chest clucking to her softly, giving her encouragement to continue?

This is the chick that beat the odds and survived.

She is still the smallest of all her sisters but this little chick has spirit, pluck, and a heart bigger than all of the White Mountains in her new state. She’s independent, clever, strong, and still likes to snuggle down while you cluck gentle endearments into her ear.

Really, was there any other chick that would do?

It is with great honor and joy that I introduce to you the newest named addition to our flock: “Judy Blume”.

Here are the "Good Egg" questions Wendy asks before you get a chick named for you, with my answers.

Good Egg Judy Blume’s Interview

What is the best advice an older relative or family member gave you?

My father told me to live life to the fullest, to make every day count. I try to remember that.

If you were given one wish to use anyway you wanted, what would you wish for?

A decent life for kids everywhere, where they have hope for the future and can dream about what they want to be when they grow up, knowing that anything is possible.

If you were allowed the use of a large billboard over a well traveled road, what would you put on the billboard?

Reading will change your life!

What’s the passion that drives you to get up every morning?

My work — knowing that today could be the day it all comes together. Unless it’s a Friday — then it’s tap dance class.

What is your ideal dinner? What would you eat and with whom would you share it?

Pasta with fresh veggies, a crunchy green salad, and a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery (in NY) — served at home in Key West under a starry sky, with my husband George for company, and Ella playing in the background.

Do you have any favorite chicken stories or memories?

Since I live in Key West, where chickens roam freely and are protected by law – I have more than one chicken story. My favorite is the day my husband was at the Post Office. When he returned to our Jeep and opened the door he found a newly laid egg in the driver’s seat. He brought it home, cooked it and ate it! Everyone who lives here can tell you a chicken story. We’re probably the most chicken friendly town in the US.

Thanks for being such a Good Egg Judy!

Jodi Picoult and Chris Bohjalian, bestselling authors, also have chickens named for them. Wendy's chickens are egg producers. They will never be eaten. She promises they'll live the good life in rural New Hampshire. Well, they may have to go to school but they won't have to worry about their grades.

They'll just promote reading (and maybe egg laying?)

Our very own "Judy Blume" chick.

Speaking of class visits, I was able to visit two schools last week without leaving my desk, thanks to Skype. I love to meet my readers but when you have a hectic schedule and live in faraway Key West (and don't like to fly) Skype makes it possible. I spent time with a lively 4th grade class in Birmingham, Michigan, and with the students at an elementary school outside Louisville, Kentucky. All the kids had questions for me.

As more teachers get used to the technology I expect to make more classroom visits via Skype. We had some technical difficulties for sure. For a while all I could see of the Kentucky school was the ceiling in the cafeteria. And when I saw the video of the Michigan visit I found out there was a delay in my response to their questions. But it was still a very fun morning. And inspiring. Well worth the effort on all our parts.

Tomorrow we leave for almost a month in New York. I'm getting anxious -- not about leaving but about the last minute packing up and the event filled schedule that will keep me hopping. Stay tuned and I'll let you know about:

The New Jersey Hall of Fame
The Children's Choice Awards - there's still time to vote for your favorites
The Harvard Lampoon (where I'm being "lampooned")
Receiving an honorary degree at Rutgers University
Most Important of All -- Elliot's Graduation from High School!

Plus catching up with friends, seeing editor and agent, and taking advantage of all the city has to offer. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it all.

Will try to post blogs along the way -- or at least tweets. Enjoy the merry month of May!

Love,
Judy

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How Did it Get to be April?

Key West -- While I've been waiting for that How I Spent My Birthday video to come in, another month has gone by. So I will wait no longer to tell you I celebrated my birthday by tap dancing on stage with my class and our fabulous teacher, Bruce Moore (center). The other handsome fellow is Bobby Nesbitt, star of Key West's Lyrics & Lyricists series. The rest of us are -- well, you can see for yourselves -- a game group of new and/or former tappers. We rehearsed until we dropped (okay, not quite) and performed at the invitation of Randy Roberts, another Key West treasure, during his show at the Tennessee Williams Theater. And what a great show -- what an experience!


George kept reminding me, it's not how well you do it, it's that you do it at all -- but to me, it's about doing it well, thank you very much (we are not, after all, dancing bears). So I tap-tap-tapped out onto the stage, took my position, and froze! No kidding. I think I smiled and moved my arms but I realized during those first few time steps I wasn't actually tapping. I remember saying to myself, ohmygod, Judy, you're not dancing! I must have danced eventually but truly, I have no memory of it. Randy Roberts, who has seen the video, swears I was dancing but I have performance amnesia. Imagine that -- after all these years of giving speeches on stage. It was fear of forgetting the sequence of steps, I think, that gave me such anxiety. At one point I thought of writing the sequence down on my hand -- but once Sarah Palin wrote notes on her hand -- you were not going to catch me doing the same thing. No way. Next time I have the chance to dance on stage I'm going to remember it!

I'm celebrating today, the first day of the rest of my life, because Larry and I finally sent in the "polish" on the Tiger Eyes screenplay. Never, ever, have I wanted to be done with a writing project the way I wanted to be done with this one. We've worked for eight months, sending the script back and forth. But, I have to admit, with each draft it improved. And when I read the final draft I liked it (unheard of -- usually I'm so sick of what I've written by the time I send it to my editor I'm convinced it's the worst piece of drek ever!) I even cried at the end. Let's hope this movie actually gets made. After a break it will be time to get back to the novel I started a year ago. A year! I'm almost afraid to look at my research and notes.

Other thoughts --
Those of you waiting to hear from colleges have heard by now. I hope you taped your letters of admission to your wall and congratulated yourselves. I hope, if there was disappointment, you're over it. Rejection hurts. Always. But moving on feels good! And you're going to be happy wherever you go. There's no such thing as only one "right" school.


A note of caution --
Don't let senioritis make you crazy. I know it's tempting to feel like cutting loose now. (I have a grandson about to graduate, remember?) But when I was in high school a group of the smartest boys, all college bound, got caught up in a scandal that brought them and their families nothing but grief. One of them worked in the school office where he got his hands on the final exam (can't remember which subject). He made a copy, then shared it with his friends. Not sure how they were found out, but they were. The colleges who had already admitted them were notified, and most reneged. And how stupid was it for them to cheat, anyway?! These guys would have gotten their usual good grades on their own and would have gone off to their chosen colleges -- except for their failure to think of the consequences of their behavior. So have fun, sure! Enjoy your last weeks of high school. Just don't give up on thinking, okay?

And to everyone else, Happy Spring!
Love,
Judy

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

Key West - they're at it again and this time right in my backyard at the Sugarloaf School, on Sugarloaf Key, about 20 miles from Key West on US 1. That's right -- a parent has challenged Forever, charging that distributing the book to minors is a felony under Florida law and that it also constitutes sexual harassment. Huh? She doesn't believe in censorship, she says, but she wants the book removed anyway. She's holding the librarian responsible, as a student checked the book out of the school library, then read aloud passages from it on a school bus.


Welcome to the world of school buses. What your child doesn't learn at home, he/she is sure to learn on the school bus. This parent doesn't want any student to have access to Forever. Sugarloaf School goes through 8th grade. The best time to read Forever is before a student is sexually active. Then there's time to talk, to think, to weigh the pros and cons, to consider the consequences. There will be a hearing in the next weeks to decide what to do -- remove the book from the school library's YA collection; limit (by age/grade) the students who can access the book; or leave it on the shelf where it is.A reporter from the local paper, the Key West Citizen, called me for comments. I explained to him that the book is a love story about two 18 year olds, seniors in high school. The first sentence in his article in the next day's edition of the paper referred to Katherine and Michael as pre-teens. Was he listening? I mean, what's going on? I thought about writing a letter to the editor but don't want to escalate the situation. It's not as if we haven't been through this before.

I've put the teacher who contacted me, and the school media specialist, in touch with Joan Bertin of the National Coalition Against Censorship. And I've sent them a letter, along with some recent e-mails from readers about the book. I asked if I could attend the meeting but was told it probably won't be open to the public. The school seems to have its policy in place for dealing with challenges to books. I applaud them for that.

A couple of the best teachers I know lost their jobs for defending books and their students' rights to read them back in the 90's. Two were in the state of Florida. One, Gloria Pipkin, wrote a book about her experience - At the Schoolhouse Gate: Lessons in Intellectual Freedom.

And now, today, comes news from Riverside, CA that there's been a challenge to the dictionary for including the words oral sex. They're considering removing all the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionaries from classrooms. Gee, Forever doesn't even include those words. When I wrote the book in 1975 oral sex wasn't winning any Teens Choice award. No rainbow parties for Katherine and Michael. Katherine and Michael were in love, they acted responsibly, and now they're being bashed for it.

Update: The committee at the Sugarloaf School voted to retain Forever in its YA collection. Thank you to everyone on that committee who stood up for the students. And thank you to Joan Bertin and the NCAC for their thoughtful letter.

And can you believe this one? Barnes&Noble online has contracted with an organization called Common Sense to rate books for parents who have concerns about contents. Read a great post about this on Salon.com.

Margaret
got the green light for kids 14 and up! Readers younger than 14 received the yellow light -- proceed with caution. Most kids are reading Margaret at 10. I can't imagine a 14 year old reading it for the first time. I wish parents could make these decisions for themselves, not depend on some rating system. Common sense is the tool every parent needs. Not an organization calling itself Common Sense.

Some people think the Common Sense website is fundamentally misguided, in creating categories that essentially label certain kinds of content “inappropriate” for kids under a specific age. I will have to check further but at this point I agree. And this isn't about only my books. Your favorite books might get a yellow or red light, too. It's all about fear, about not trusting your own judgment, and certainly not trusting your young readers to choose the books they want to read.

When my daughter was 12 she wanted to read Portnoy's Complaint, recently published and endlessly discussed in our family. She was a reader and she was curious. I suggested she wait a few years when it might make more sense to her but she really, really wanted to read it now. What to do? I gulped and told her okay, but to please come to me with her questions. She took it from the shelf and ran off with it to her bedroom. Ten minutes later she was back. Bor-ing! she said, putting the book back on the shelf. I knew what that meant -- there's something in this book that makes me uncomfortable. I don't want to read it.

Meg Cabot has also blogged about Common Sense and BN.com. Meg is the one who alerted me to the situation.

If it's true that BN.com has removed or revised the Common (Non)Sense info
for parents, as the Salon story suggests, then Yay! And thanks to all the writers who got involved (Sarah Dessen, Rachel Vail, Meg Cabot are three I know who took a stand). And thanks to Kate Harding at Salon.com. And to the librarians who've spoken out on behalf of young readers everywhere.

Next post -- soon, I hope! How I Spent My Birthday. And no, it wasn't blowing out all those candles on a cake.
xx Judy

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy F-ing New Year!

That's Happy Freezing New Year!

Yes, it's true. We're freezing in Key West. I know...I know...this is nothing compared to the rest of the country but we're setting some kind of record here. If not the lowest temps ever recorded it's certainly a record number of brrrrr days. You should see us -- everyone is in as many layers as they can come up with (and tank tops don't count). There's not a space heater to be had. Who knew my study had no heat? Who cared until now? So George has moved my computer to the kitchen counter (feels like the old days when I wrote my first books at the kitchen table on my college typewriter).The thing about cold weather in the southernmost city is that it's so unexpected. We don't know how to deal with it. I drive a '99 Jeep Wrangler and we took out the windows so long ago we don't even know where they are. Also, we just discovered, the heater isn't working -- not that heat would help much in an open car -- but still.

My only other source of transportation is my bike and I'm still riding it but pedaling into that north wind takes my breath away (literally). Please don't take any of this as a complaint -- I know better -- and probably in another week we'll be living in our tropical paradise again (please!) if not for our sake, for the manatees, who are suffering.

We had a lovely holiday with Randy, Elliot, and Larry. Amanda and Jim couldn't make it this year and we missed them. Here we are at breakfast at Sarabeth's the morning after Christmas. (Note: it's still warm!)


Randy prepared homemade pizza for New Year's Eve. Yum! Then she and I played Scrabble with the set she gave us and later we saw a movie. Larry went back to New York on the 30th and Elliot was especially sad until a friend with two granddaughters visiting heard he was in town and invited him to join them (here they are with their grandpa) to ring in the New Year watching Sushi drop in her red shoe from a building on Duval Street. He had a great time! As usual, CNN was there to capture it all.


Randy made a delicious fritatta for New Year's brunch, with homebaked buttermilk biscuits.

Elliot still had one essay to go on his final college application but managed to make the deadline -- midnight on January 1. Now it's nail biting time until April, though I don't think he's as nervous about it as his Mom.

They left on January 2 and that night six old friends of ours arrived in town. They're not staying with us but while they're here we want to see as much of them as possible.

We spent a week together in Mexico about 15 years ago and performed our version of an Esther Williams water ballet. I'm the only one without a bathing suit -- forgot mine and had to jump in the pool in my underwear. I'm also the only one with white goo on my lips to prevent a sun blister. What fun we had! Our Key West reunion is bittersweet because we've lost two of those beautiful women, both from lung cancer. But the rest of us are still kicking.

And last night, the Literary Seminar kicked off with Take a Poet to Dinner. This year the KWLS celebrates poetry, and especially the poetry of Richard Wilbur who lived here for many years. He'll be speaking on Saturday night. Can't wait to hear him. My poet for last night's dinner was Maxine Kumin , who had just arrived in town. She said Key West felt about as cold as New Hampshire. Now that's something! I'm sad for the poets and the 400 members of the audience who looked forward to a warm, sunny get-a-way.

As for work -- Larry and I are still slogging away at the screenplay (but not, I'm happy to say, slugging each other). I have to admit, it's frustrating. But I have the feeling it will come together eventually. Or maybe I'm just being optimistic. In any case, I'm longing to get back to the novel I started last spring.

Wishing all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year. Keep warm!
Love,
Judy