no one but me

Our February theme for the Cabinet of Curiosities is envy, and I wrote a little version of the goose that laid the golden egg, I guess--only it's told in a quite strange voice that I have good reason to suspect no one likes but me (it pays off though! I mean if you keep reading--the voice is strange for a reason, at least).

That's not a hint to come tell me YOU liked it--though please feel free!--because for some reason it really is fine. It's just hilarious to me that I like it SO MUCH. I keep re-reading the story and loving it, fully aware that I am the only person on this green earth doing that.

Which came first? Are you KIDDING me?

Which came first? Are you KIDDING me?

Anyway. I just think it's funny, how much you can make something you love that no one else does. I guess that sounds a bit tragic, but I don't mean it tragically; it's sort of funny and nice, what whack-jobs we all are, with our own little treasured insanities.

Working on a tricky revision of my second book these days--maybe that's why it's on my mind? Sometimes it's hard to trust that something you like will have appeal to anyone outside of your own head. But you have to trust, I think, 'cause once you start trying to guess what people will like, then all the eggs are broken, and all the chickens run away.

 

starfish and sad birthdays

I spent a couple of days in Port Aransas this week, working on a knotty writing problem. I'd work for a few hours then walk the beach or the pier for an hour or two, which was lovely.

pelican.jpg

I felt so lucky to be able to leave my yellow room and its ANGST and walk along by the pretty silver shallows, and great green-rolling deep, and the busy skimming birds, and behind it all that endless ravishing sea-sound. 

I've always wanted to find a starfish, ever since I was a wee kid on family vacations at Cocoa Beach. This time I found TWO--but I wasn't quite sure they were dead, they had an alive-feeling, so I put them carefully back in the water. I can only imagine what kind of bad luck comes from bringing home a dying starfish. It sounds like the end of all hopes and dreams.

ANYWAY. Speaking of luck, good and bad, and dying, and whatnot, I have a tiny story up at the Curiosity Cabinet about a boy having a quite strange and rather sad birthday. Hint: it gets creepy.

All beaches look alike--maybe they are all the same place in some ways--and yet this was my beach so look, look.

The pier at Port Aransas just before sunset.

The pier at Port Aransas just before sunset.

Port Aransas at sunset, from the pier.

Port Aransas at sunset, from the pier.

The Gulf looking so much prettier than its usual Mississippi-mud-murkied self.

The Gulf looking so much prettier than its usual Mississippi-mud-murkied self.

cold, oh cold

Between holiday prep and festivities, and a trip to New York City, I've been neglecting this place more than usual. My apologies, o handful of visitors!

First: at the Cabinet of Curiosities website, our December stories are about winter and snow. I wrote most of mine on a plane to NYC, and it felt like I was dreaming awake in that airplane way you do sometimes. So I am not sure the story makes the greatest sense (or DOES IT? paging Dr Jung). But it's definitely cold and snowy. It's about a boy whose father forgets to pick him up after orchestra practice one snowy night, and the strange man he meets walking home, who asks him to him to choose between--as the story title says--"Diamonds and Dimes."

Speaking of cold and snow, New York was crazily festive with both. Especially our last day there, Central Park went full-on Winter Wonderland. A few photos below.

Have a sweet and hopeful holiday--hope in the darkness is the point of Christmas, I think, so if you're feeling a bit of darkness, it's okay. Just peek around for the light.

Central Park, fresh snow.

Central Park, fresh snow.

Central Park looking west.

Central Park looking west.

Rose petals under the new ice over the lake in Central Park.

Rose petals under the new ice over the lake in Central Park.

The walk up to the Cloisters, looking over the Hudson River.

The walk up to the Cloisters, looking over the Hudson River.

burn it down

A smorgasbord, as these monthly posts tend to be.

Fir0002/Flagstaffotos. No idea what that means but Wikimedia Commons asked me to put it there.

Fir0002/Flagstaffotos. No idea what that means but Wikimedia Commons asked me to put it there.

We're doing scary fire stories this month at the Cabinet of Curiosities, and mine, called "The Bone-Fire," went up this week. Immodestly (or maybe irrelevantly) I say I found it unsettling to write. See what you think.

That's Jason Phelps, who's marvelous in this, and me.

That's Jason Phelps, who's marvelous in this, and me.

Also -- I'm in a terrific play called There Is A Happiness That Morning Is, by Mickle Maher, produced by Capital T Theatre. It's been going so well (the Austin Chronicle review for one called it "a bizarre, brilliant play that is capable of reordering your brain a bit") that we've extended it one more weekend, through November 23. We've also added a pay-what-you-can industry night this Tuesday November 19. It's at the central-Austin-located Hyde Park Theatre. Tickets here or call 512-479-7529.

Also! This deserves a whole, thoughtful, not smogasbordy post, but -- you should go read Anne Ursu's blog post "On Gender and Boys Read Panels" -- it's really good, and brought some issues to the surface for me that I didn't realize I had so many big feelings about. (Also if you haven't read her beautiful book Breadcrumbs, do that right away. She has a brand new one out, too, called The Real Boy.)

masks make you do things

For Austria and its neighbors, this is a CHRISTMAS mask. This guy takes care of the naughty kids by dragging them to hell. So, you know: Merry Christmas!

For Austria and its neighbors, this is a CHRISTMAS mask. This guy takes care of the naughty kids by dragging them to hell. So, you know: Merry Christmas!

I think they possibly do make you do things, masks. I am very interested in masks--Keith Johnstone's chapter on masks in his brilliant book Impro has really stuck in my head in the many years since I first read it.

Anyway, I explored this a bit in my latest Cabinet of Curiosities story, which is called "What the Mask Wants," and which is creepy. 

 

I have always wanted to work with masks in a theatrical sense, but I've never gotten to (yet). Still, any role you take on is a kind of mask, and I've taken on a good one I think in Capital T Theatre's production of There is a Happiness that Morning is by Mickle Maher. It's about two English professors who accidentally have sex in front of their students (long story!) after reading a poem by William Blake. When the play opens, they're supposed to be apologizing to their classes, and one will, and one very much won't. It's tremendously funny and also quite thoughtful--about Blake, about marriage, and about how we bounce back and forth between "everything's so beautiful!" and "we live in HELL" and how the more we do that, the farther we get from "that slow sea and shore inside of us: that strand forever calm and wide where we might wade, breathe, and linger, fusing life with the Real." 

So it runs October 24-November 16, 2013 at Hyde Park Theatre, and you should come! 

gorgeous cover is gorgeous

The Cabinet of Curiosities had its big cover reveal (COVER REVEAL! I like saying that, I feel like a magician)  over at The Book Smugglers. The cover, see below, is flipping gorgeous, with art by Alexander Jansson.

But just because you can see the cover here, you should still go to Book Smugglers because there is also a fairly amazing (we immodestly feel) giveaway that includes signed books from all four of us AND a $50 IndieBound gift card, which you can use to buy even more books! It is RAINING BOOKS, if you enter this thing. So go enter!

And admire the cover: 

 

CabinetofCuriosities_web.jpg

better not oversleep or your dolls grow teeth

 . . .  or so goes one of the cautionary rhymes in my new Cabinet story, "Nursery Rhymes." In it, an unfortunate little girl not unlike my own wee rambly distractable self-when-young comes across a book which is not, but might as well be, titled "How To Develop an Anxiety Disorder -- in Easy Rhymes!"

In other news, I just got back from Portland, Oregon, where I went to see some of the TBA (Time-Based Art) Festival. I didn't have as much luck with the festival as I'd hoped, but Portland is glorious, all lush and wet and garden-studded. I visited my old college, Reed, for the first time in decades, which was straaange:

Reed College, looking extra-collegiate.

Reed College, looking extra-collegiate.

and the nearby Rhododendron Garden: 

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Glorious much?

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Glorious much?

and the Japanese Garden: 

The Portland Japanese Gardens. I haven't altered this photo, the color is just always this saturated in Portland, maybe because of the clouds? 

The Portland Japanese Gardens. I haven't altered this photo, the color is just always this saturated in Portland, maybe because of the clouds? 

 . . . and more gardens, and Forest Park, which is AMAZING, a giant FOREST more or less in midtown.  And I saw random splendid Portlandish sights like this one:

Shot through the window of some office on a walk home. 

Shot through the window of some office on a walk home. 

But now I'm home in Austin and seem to have brought some rain and gray with me, which we needed desperately, so I feel very clever. 

  

danced to pieces

Not me. I wish, but I am a pretty dreadful dancer, except in my mind.

A green ukulele is a joy forever.

A green ukulele is a joy forever.

No: I mean the fairy tale "The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces," which was one of my favorites when I was a kid. This month at the Cabinet of Curiosities we're doing fairy tale retellings, so I did that one, and it came out all raging and Sylvia Plathish which is perhaps unexpected in a middle grade story! But I think it would be ghastly to be a fairy tale princess.

It posted today so what are you waiting for? Go read it. 

In other news, ermmm, oh! over at the Enchanted Inkpot today, I also interviewed Ellen Booraem about her new book Texting the Underworld. It's a splendid book that manages to be funny about subjects like childhood anxiety and, actually, death itself. You can win a copy of the book there, too.  

And . . . it is very hot here in Austin, Texas. Like we-are-ready-to-shoot-ourselves hot. 

And . . . I got a ukulele, for some reason. It's green! In six months I will regale you all with a halting but sincere version of "You Are My Sunshine, My Only [pause to change chords] Sunshine."