Wednesday, July 22, 2009

That Was Easy!

MVY -- a month has passed since my last blog entry. I don't like to think about this because it means summer on the Vineyard is almost half over and what have I done so far? Not a lot. I haven't even been out in my kayak. I thought today might be the day. It's sunny at last -- a nice change from the wettest summer I can remember. A perfect summer day, actually.

Or, I could be reading in the hammock (I'm in the middle of a charming novel - Family Man - by Elinor Lipman.) And no, I've not been lolling about just relaxing. Remind me, how do you do that again? And I haven't been entertaining guests because so far we haven't had any -- unless you count family.

Let's see -- Larry's in residence (he works all day but he prefers doing it here). Randy comes every weekend after work. Elliot's been living here and working at The FARM Institute, baling hay and weed whacking and doing other things that require muscles, preferably young muscles. When he's not working he's off on the college tour.

Two days ago we took him to Providence, to see Brown. He liked it. He'll apply, along with 25,000 others. Can you believe that? 25,000 kids apply to Brown for 1500 places in the freshman class? Maybe it's that way at all the schools he's visiting. No wonder high school seniors are stressed. There was one mother on our tour who didn't stop asking questions. Our tour guide made a comment, she had a question. By the end of the tour I wanted to -- let's just say, shake her. I felt for her son who moved farther and farther away from her. Some parents ask about safety. I think it's mainly parents with daughters. We heard this at Columbia, too. I guess it has to do with fear of the city -- any city.

I find this all very interesting. It's especially interesting how the students don't talk to one another on these tours or at the info sessions. Most don't talk with their parents (or in our case, grandparents) either. I have to be careful. Randy told me to stand in the back of the tour group and warned me not to ask questions. The tour is supposed to be for the students. But I haven't heard any of the students asking questions. Of course everything they could possibly want to know is online and those who have done their homework have read up on each school he/she is visiting. Then there's the info session, where a college admission officer (at Brown she was young, enthusiastic, adorable, a cheerleader for the school) tells you everything you already heard on the tour, or are about to hear on the tour. She saves the admissions process and how they reach their decisions until the end, maybe the last three minutes. That's when she tells you about the 25,000 other kids who are applying with you.

Still, I had never seen Brown or spent any time in Providence. We got to have lunch with an old friend who teaches history there. He's the husband of a young writer friend of mine. They actually met when they were students at Brown. Sweet, as Elliot would say. I find myself saying this all the time now. I also find myself saying That was easy! because a friend of Larry's gave him that push-the-red-button gadget from Staples and when you do, a deep voice says, That was easy! George and I can't help ourselves. It's the perfect answer to everything. Except maybe being accepted to college.

George is in Key West this week to oversee the construction process of the 4th screening room at the Tropic Cinema. He was down two weeks ago, too. He's more than excited. He loves what he's doing. He wishes he were in Key West for the summer. I joke, "I'll see you in October." But I know he'll be back at the end of this week. Then we'll say, That was easy!

Tomorrow Larry and I will be meeting with a producer who's coming to the Vineyard to talk about adapting Tiger Eyes for the screen. Larry has always wanted to direct a movie version of Tiger Eyes. And of all my books I think it could work well. This would mean we'd have to write a screenplay over the summer (and as I've already pointed out, summer is almost half over). Because of this I haven't looked at the novel I was researching and starting to write before we left Key West. Earlier I thought it would be a productive summer -- that I'd be sitting in my little cabin working away -- that I'd even have a good start on a first draft by summer's end. But a month has gone by and here I sit (in my writing cabin, mostly answering e-mail). This is starting to depress me. Not seriously. But a little. If we're going to write the screenplay, then let's get to it! Okay, I'll know more tomorrow after our meeting, right?

Did I say that I flew to Chicago for the annual ALA convention? And I didn't get sick. Imagine that! Flying around in the summer is easier on your sinuses. Fewer colds and coughs. Plus Randy has taught me to carry Chlorox (or any other brand) wipes with me and to use them to clean my tray table, arm rests, even headrest. I know this sounds anal or something but if you saw what came off (the amount of dirt, etc) you'd do it, too.

The new modern wing of the Chicago Art Institute was the setting for the gala dinner honoring Judith Krug (see my April 14, 2009 blog). A bittersweet night. Judith would rather have been there than be memorialized. In presenting the award to her posthumously I told the story of the jacket and how, now, thanks to her family, that jacket hangs in my closet. I got almost to the end before I broke down. Judith would not have liked that. Or maybe under these circumstances she'd have been okay with it. Who can possibly fill her shoes? There's no one like her.

I also got the chance to meet Florence Parry Heide at the Random House dinner. She was celebrating her 90th birthday with a new book coming out. (She wrote The Shrinking of Treehorn, a deliciously funny book that my kids enjoyed, and many many kids since then). I asked her if writers ever get to retire. She looked at me and said, Never! And I hope you never think about it again. I had a million questions for her but there was no time to ask them. She was as lovely, clear-eyed, and witty as I imagine she's always been.

And that brings me to tonight's dinner. What shall I make for Elliot? Maybe pasta. Then I can push the red button and hear That was easy!

Hope you're having, if not an easy summer, at least a good one.
xx Judy