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5 posts from June 2011

Putting the Et in CeteraJune 25, 2011

Whoo! Having ADD-like whiplash on the computer this morning, so I thought while I was spinning like a top, I'd pop over and say hello.

Hello! Did you hear about New York? WOOOOHOO! That's what I say. And hey, I'm going to New York on Monday (for RWA National). It's too bad I'm going solo, or I'd get hitched again! Next trip. This time, I'll just settle for 

BOOK SIGNING IN NEW YORK

(Seriously, there will be soooo many authors at this signing -- hundreds! Come meet your favorites! And I would love to see you.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 – 5:30 – 7:30pm
RWA Literacy For Life Autographing
Marriott Marquis Hotel
1535 Broadway
New York, NY
**Open to the public

Now, to share a couple of things. (I like doing this. I hope you don't mind. I've been reading SO much lately--it goes along with all the writing, I think, and while I don't tell you about the books I don't like or just merely like, I do adore sharing the books I love.)

THE PILE OF STUFF AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS, Christina Hopkinson

Now, let's talk about this book. I absolutely loved it. I was charmed by it. Light, humorous women's fiction, Brit-chick-lit (don't hit me). I ate up every word, and I wanted it to last forever. However, I could see how people might be annoyed by the premise of this one: the main character's husband's slovenly ways are driving her so crazy that she starts a list of his faults, a detailed, Excel-spreadsheeted way to ascertain if she should stay married to him. She's a bit whiny. She's a complainer. SO AM I! I was highly amused by the whole book, and I think she tells a good tale. I'd be interested to hear what other people think.

CONFESSIONS OF A FREELANCE PENMONKEY, Chuck Wendig

This has just made it to my short list of Must Have Writing books (I should really write that list down somewhere, sometime). Now, Chuck's not for the faint of heart. If you don't think swearing is funny when done well, might be better to step to the side. However, if you want straight-to-the-heart-of-it-all advice on how/when/why to write, get this book. Immediately. In fact, he made me so uncomfortable when he was talking about rising tension that I had to put it down for a day or two because I KNEW I had to look at that in my current novel-in-progress, and by god, I didn't want to. Damn it. (His blog is awesome. Really awesome. This week he had a good post on Novel Writing.)

Listening to:

The Cinematic Orchestra: Ma Fleur  - good, ambient writing music.

Leftover Cuties  - Uke AND accordion and a pretty girl with great pipes! What could be better?

Lois the Pie QueenJune 19, 2011

I had a dream this morning before I woke, and it went like this: I was sitting at a table eating chicken and waffles. Oh, delicious, delicious chicken and waffles. Then I woke and spent the next hour thinking about the wonder that is a fried piece of chicken eaten over a waffle. 

Now, it is possible that in your neck of the woods "chicken'n'waffles" is not even a thing. It's a soul food thing, and it's not something I thought I would like when I moved to Oakland fourteen years ago. It sounded weird. Who wants fried chicken for breakfast? Then I had it, and it was good. Savory and sweet, great. But I wasn't IN love with it; it was just nice. But it grows on you, I'm telling you, until one morning you wake up and the first thing you do is start reading Yelp lists to find the best chicken and waffles near you, which is what I did this morning.

There were differences of opinion. Apparently, there are some good SF places, but I think Oakland is really the chicken and waffle hub, so I didn't even consider crossing the bridge. I've always been a Merrit Bakery gal, but it's only mediocre-good there. Roscoe's closed, and the Home of Chicken and Waffles sounded pretty touristy. Brown Sugar is good, but I'm not totally in love with their waffle.

Yelp told me about Lois the Pie Queen.

Let me tell you. You should go to there.(390 Yelp reviews, and 4.5 stars!!)

Lois1

It's tucked away in North Oakland off the main drag of MLK. When you poke your head in, it's just a room, with a good old counter on the left and tables to the right. It's probably as big as our living room area at home (not big). On the left wall are maybe a hundred framed pictures of people eating there (not stars, just real people) for the past sixty-five years it's been serving food.

And it was perhaps the best restaurant experience I've had in years. Maybe ever.

We didn't know how to work it when we got there. It's Father's Day, so there were people waiting outside. I kind of hovered at the door, waiting to catch the hostess's eye, but I didn't see a hostess. I was confused. I'd never not known how to work a restaurant before. Mild panic set in. But then I saw a handsome man with dreads who was pouring coffee and seemed to be in charge, so I walked toward him.

"Hi, we'd like..."

"How many people, baby?" He touched me on the elbow, gently, and his  voice was even softer.

"Two."

"I gotcha, baby."

And I swear, they were the most welcoming words I've ever heard. I couldn't WAIT to sit down.

We got coffee and chatted with people outside (because everyone was in a good mood! They were at Lois the Pie Queen!). We were seated by the owner (of course that's who he was) in the window two-top (because everyone in line was held perfectly in his head -- he seated a TWELVE top in his tiny busy restaurant while we were waiting), and he laughed when I told him how excited I was. Then our server gave us the prettiest, most genuine smile I've ever seen a server give--she seemed genuinely thrilled to be working on such a glorious sunny day.

Lois2

We got the best chicken and waffles I've ever had. The chicken was perfectly cooked, and the crust was just right and very basic, maybe just flour and salt (but not too much salt). The waffle was traditional. Butter and syrup. The coffee was great. The busboys might have been the most good-looking bussers in the history of the universe (like why aren't you in a movie good-looking), and a young boy (maybe ten?) was helping refill coffee and proudly asking each table, "Are you doing okay? Do you need anything?"

And the clientele? Perfectly Oakland, a mix of every race and age, and the sweetest customers were all the new dads -- there were many babies in carriers, all of them cuter than the next.

AND OH MY GOD THE PIE. A Yelp-er pointed out that when one visits a restaurant with a menu choice in its name, you should try that menu choice. So at Lois the Pie Queen, we had to have pie. Yelp had recommended the lemon icebox pie and the key lime pie. They were out of lemon icebox (this was by 11:30 in the morning) but when I mentioned I would want key lime pie (not even on the menu -- how COOL did I feel?) to our server when we ordered, she said she'd put aside a piece for me.

Thank god she did.

It was mind-blowing. I'm not a key lime pie fan, unless it's southern, at a real soul food or BBQ joint, and this was IT. You know how you eat something and eat it, and you kind of get used to it? So the first bite is the best, and then the other bites are quite good? This was one of those things where every bite was like the first bite, with an amazing blend of just-right tart and oh-my-god sweet that made me wish I never had to eat anything else, ever.

When we left, I thanked the owner and we hugged. He kissed my cheek. I felt anointed. We left the restaurant, stumbling, drunk on happiness.

And I'm not quite sure everyone would have this experience, which makes me even more happy that we had it. Some people would say, "Where's my mocha?" or "Do you have lite maple syrup?" or "They should redo this room." To them I say, you are missing the point, and if you're not at Lois the Pie Queen, there is more pie for me.

PretentiousJune 10, 2011

I will label this pretentious, and I know it is such. But I can't help what my heart loves! Friends, let me keep just this one affectation!

You know I love Moleskines. That's been established.

Hello. All sizes!

2011-06-10_09-46-10_828

Cue Transformers music -- more than meets the eye:

2011-06-10_09-46-49_923

Look! It's a case for my new already beloved MacBook Air (I'd been due a new computer for years, and this one has exceeded all expectations -- it's the tiny 11inch with the biggest memory/ram/whatchoocallit).

2011-06-10_09-47-31_959

It's so SMART -- now I can just throw it in my bag and go. And it is so cute I can't stand it. Got it HERE. (And for the curious, it really feels/looks just like a Moleskine. LOVE.) (Also for the curious, the computer does not come preloaded with words all lined up for writers. I've looked. Writing is still hard. Dang it.)

Short Shill June 8, 2011

Hey, y'all, if anyone missed it when it was offered for free from my publisher, my short story "Honeymooning" is available again. It's a Cypress Hollow tale, about Janet and Tom, and I can't actually give it away on Amazon (there are Self-Publishing Rules) so I priced it as cheaply as they let me go at $0.99. It's HERE for the Kindle and HERE for the Nook (and Kindle in UK HERE), and I'll let you  know when it's available on other platforms.

And errrybody, thanks for your comments yesterday. I really did spend most of the afternoon in bed, which was awesome. Then the sisters came over to eat Lala's fantastic chili (her first  cast iron Dutch oven experiment) and my rather good cornbread, and it was extremely nice. What you all said was amazing, and anyone thinking about grief in any form might wanna go have a peek at those comments. xooxox

Stages of GriefJune 7, 2011

I've given up on today. I had a meeting this morning, and then I wrote 2000 words, and I think that might be all I'm good for. I was, in fact, out driving with the intention of going to Santa Cruz for the day, but then I got a milkshake and sugared myself right out. I turned the car around and went home (via the cafe, where I MADE MYSELF work for a while, gritting my teeth the whole time).

It's the little mama's birthday today, and I'm thinking about grief and what I know about it.

What I know is this:

Not much.

The way I, Rachael Herron, grieve for my beloved little mom, is not the way I'll ever grieve for anyone else, and not the way you'll do it for anyone, either. This is my mileage. Make of it what you will. *

The first month is awful. Let's not even think about that month.

The first six months suck with a white-hot fiery agony. Much of the time breathing feels like a check-box you'd rather not check. There is joy, of course, daily, because joy happens even when you'd rather it not. But there are nights of howling black loneliness even when you're surrounded by your loved ones. Everything feels heavy, especially your feet and your eyes, and neither are worth lifting. Dreams are dark, corporeal, and devastating.

The second six months are pretty bad, but there will be a day here and there when you forget about your little mama until nightfall, and then it will all come back in a rush, and it will hurt, but more like being socked in the stomach, less like being stabbed in the heart. You'll have one good dream about her (the one where she comes up behind you and says in your ear, "I'm here", and you'll cherish it, hugging it tightly for weeks).

The year and a half mark was, for me, a turning point. That was the first time I could think of her without pain. I could remember funny things, and even more important, I could remember her faults again (not that there were many, mind you). I could remember how she bugged me every once in a while. I could almost hear that grumbling noise she made as she walked around the house, picking up, and I realized that I (and Digit) make the same noise. Those memories made her into a real person in my memory, whereas before that time she was so shiny and perfect I could barely see her in my memory for the bright glow of her halo.

Now, it's three years this week (can you believe that? I can't). I'm multi-published, something she didn't live to see. Dad's getting married to his girlfriend in October (I adore her, hi Lola!), and overall, the world has kept spinning pretty well, even if it wobbles sometimes.

But Mom is still around. I know this in my heart, and you know I'm not a woo-woo kind of person. But our loved ones ARE nearby, and I see Mom regularly in my dreams (and sometimes she's grumbly. I love that). I can say to a stranger when asked about my mother, "she died," without breaking into unexpected tears. I don't even feel like I'm pushing the tears back anymore. It's just a fact now.

Just like it's a fact today is her birthday. She would have been 71. And I knew it was coming, and I've been through a couple of them, and I thought I would be okay. Today I'm not okay, though.

I am, however, very good at self-care. I've tucked myself back in bed, and I don't plan on leaving it until evening at the earliest. I have my computer, my iPad, my phone, and three dogs. The cats will follow when they realize where I've gone. Lala is being very nice to me, because she's had Great Loss, too, and understands. If I need it, she will go get me ice cream.

I'm pulling the covers over my head, but I also wanted to say, I'll be okay. I know that. And there's great value in that.

Litltemama

In New Zealand at Hot Water Beach

*(I was emailing a friend about the death of parents, and this has been on my mind. Yes, it's supposed to happen before the death of the child. Therefore, most of us go through it. But there is NO reason to discount it because of this. In some ways, it's the deepest, most cutting loss we'll go through, and I hate when it's made less because it's "just" a parent. I have Strong Feelings about this.)