The TUNING FORK

tuning fork, jodi picoult, small great thingsI flew to California this summer and survived the flight by reading a big thick book: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. The book caught me, like the way we get a hitch to our voice when something hits us profoundly.

I thought I knew and understood about race. About how unfair racism is. About how I’m not racist, because I don’t see the color of someone’s skin.

For instance, I was talking to “my” Starbucks barista today about a man who had entered the café at 6 the previous morning singing a Broadway tune in a much too elevated mood for most humans at that time of day. Continue reading

You Look Like a . . .

Groton Library, Groton MA, shop local, read localLast Saturday I participated in a “Shop Local” Book Fair at a beautiful picturesque library in rural New England.

Twenty other authors and I sat behind tables covered with colorful cloths and plants, candy in dishes and strong stubborn wishes that visitors would want to buy and read our books.

Sally Field, you really like me

Photo: AP

As a writer, I wanted to hide behind the stacks of library books behind me. But as an author, I stood tall and smiled tremulously, feeling like Sally Field before she got her Oscar, thinking “Please Like Me (my books), really really Like Me (my books).” Continue reading

How to Thicken Your Skin

thick skinApparently, my skin is not nearly thick enough.

In my world, skin shouldn’t have to be thick. I slather it with lotions to make it soft, sunburn-free, and smooth. I’ve never encountered a lotion claiming to:

   “THICKEN YOUR SKIN! Lavender or Rose Scent. Never again let a mean word seep in.”

No, I rub lavender body lotion day and night to keep skin from drying out in the NE weather.

Apparently, that lotion has also thinned my skin.Thymes, lavender body lotion

At least, that’s my first guess when I go on the Amazon page for my book The Right Wrong Man and read – gasp – a bad review.

My stomach turns into a turnip, my eyes moisten, and my soul shrivels into a sniveling snail.

How could this reader be so…so… mean? Continue reading

A Directional Career Curve

career, career directionI had just earned my graduate degree. I was ready to take on the world in a career that would be so exciting…so invigorating…so worthwhile, that …well, I never went past the exciting, invigorating, and worthwhile parts.

I just knew I wanted a great career.

I read the ads in the newspapers. I talked to the headhunters, who chuckled over the phone. “A Master’s in English? And you want to do what with it?”

I didn’t have an answer. I knew what I didn’t want: No more school, no teaching, no secretarial position. They laughed and hung up.

I was offered three jobs at the University where I received my M.A.: one at the registrar’s office – secretarial; one at the Dean’s office of education – clerical; and one at the mailroom – sorting mail. Instead, I accepted a position that I read about in the classified section of the Newark Star Ledger: Continue reading