Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Living in a Baseball Park

It's getting near the end of summer. I love this time of year, because the race is on, to see which baseball team can get into the post season. This is when I start checking the standings every day, to see who's inching their way closer and closer to the World Series.

Since 2006, my family and I have been been visiting ballparks. This past July, we visited the new Target Field in Minneapolis. Wow! It's so beautiful! Prior to this, I'd been to Petco Field, Dodger Stadium, visited the Oakland A's, the Giants and the Mariners on the west coast. On the East Coast, I've been to Fenway Park, and the old Shea Stadium. I'm from Chicago, so of course I've been to US Cellular Field and Wrigley. And I love to day-trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee, so we've been there, too. I've also been to see the Tampa Bay Rays play and the Toronto Blue Jays.

I would have to say my all-time favorite place is Fenway in Boston. It's old and new all in one. I love that it's preserved and well taken care of and it just feels historic and beautiful to be there. Target Field is my 2nd favorite. It was friendly and just really nice. Plus they have this big gold glove (check out the picture above). I love Miller Park because they have a dome. You never have to worry about the rain when you go there.

I love ballpark food. US Cellular has the best hot dogs! In Seattle, you can get chocolate covered strawberries on a stick and in San Francisco, they have garlic fries. Milwaukee has great cheeseburgers.

In Toronto, we stayed at the hotel that is attached to the stadium. You just head out the lobby, around the corner and down the stairs and you're there. A baseball fan's dream.

This time of year, I have a hard time concentrating on anything other than baseball. I'd like to ditch work and my chores and go sit in a ballpark every night. In fact, I'd love to move into a skybox at Fenway, turn it into my apartment and be available for the rest of the season!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Terry McMillan's book, "Getting to Happy"

Saturday, early, I grabbed a book, thinking I'll read a chapter and then figure out what to do next with my day. It's 8 hours later. I've indulged in reading all day long. Like I used to do in the summers. When I was a kid. Such a simple pleasure! I first got into Terry McMillan when "Waiting to Exhale" came out, years ago. I loved these 4 friends, Robin, Savannah, Gloria & Bernie when they were younger. Now, they're in their 50's. Like me. They're all dealing with tough stuff and I feel rejuvenated, having spent the day with them, watching them all transform.

McMillan asks a brave question in this book: "What is happy?" Each character defines it for herself and then works to get there. I found myself asking: what does my happy look like?

Last month, the owner of WestSide Books, the home of my novel, Shattered, put the company up for sale. Every day since, I've moved through a different kind of emotion or thought about it. I don't know what it means for the future of all of us authors at WestSide. I just know I feel a lot of anxiety because it's all so uncertain. I hope another publisher will buy us, hire Evelyn Fazio--who was the heart and soul of WestSide(she's in the picture with me above)--and move us all forward, continuing to publish realistic fiction for young adults. What is certain is I don't have control over any of it.

But what I do have control over is my writing life. For me, "getting to happy" is about continuing on with the life I had before WestSide. A lifestyle I created while being a grad student at Vermont College. Spending time reading young adult literature, to learn how to write for teens, journaling to be true, and writing and re-writing to get it right.

I'm also back to wanting to get published. I'm working at putting my best work on the page, even if it takes hours to write one sentence. Even if it takes 5 drafts to get the story out. Moment to moment, word by word, I'm living the me I was meant to be: a writer. Yes, publication brings its own kind of special joy. But honestly, what makes me ecstatic is creating.
I don't know if I'll ever make it to another publication. But I'm pretty sure, if I keep on writing, I'll make it to happy.