Posted by: Sarah | June 11, 2010

Literary Blogs: Dear Diary… Part II

I hope you enjoy my second “Cultural Diary” installment.

Again, the new blog by The Paris Review is wonderful. From literary news to World Cup reflections and the hilarious Ask TPRposts, it has me hooked in its first month. You’ll have to go check it out for yourself.

Meanwhile, here’s a quick peek at a day in my week.

Yours truly, Sarah

Thursday, June 10


9 a.m.
Wake up late, late, late. Stayed up too long the night before watching DVR-ed Bravo shows, totally engrossed in the debut of “The Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.” Sarah Jessica Parker made a cameo and I cheered alongside the participants. (It’s funny how she has that effect.) I slept uneasily though, dreaming of how someone might paint my portrait—hopefully not as a clown on a painter’s pallet.

9:05 a.m. I decide not to forgo my bed reading simply because my night gobbled up a little more of the day than usual. I read one chapter in Prayers for Sale. (Yes, I’m STILL on it. I’ve been writing more than usual lately. Is hard to engage in other people’s fictional worlds when my own characters are romping through my imagination.)

9:25 a.m. Can’t neglect the pup. He’s still sleeping on the carpeted steps when I come down and yawns as if he too had a late night.

9:30 a.m. Our routine: morning tummy scratch, a sing-along, outside for a tinkle and breakfast kibbles.

9:50 a.m. I debate a nutritious farm-fresh breakfast versus a frozen fudge bar (i.e. Chocolate ice cream on a stick) made from no ingredient I can pronounce except milk and cocoa. The bar wins. It’s too hot for real food. And it’s sugar-free so it can’t be all bad for me. I feel slight shame as I pull off the wrapper and wonder if my advocacy of organic, fresh, and natural foods is a sham. Would Jonathan Safran Foer be disappointed in me? Is the milk from ethically raised, organically fed cows? Two licks and I decide that even Jonathan would deem breakfast ice cream (wherever it came from) totally legit when you live in a 110-degree sandpit.

9:55 a.m. Outside my kitchen window, Gatsby has caught a lizard and is about to nibble its head. I bang on the window, “No-no! Gross! Stop it, Gatsby, let that poor thing go.” He looks up at me, ears perked but paws still clamped tight around the writhing thing. I bang once more with my knuckles. He releases it and hurries to the back door. I give myself a mental pat on the back. Score one for saving the animals! I’ve officially made up for breakfast now. I let Gatsby in and he tries to lick my ankles. I skitter away. “How about we have an ice before kisses? Fresh breath will get a man far,” I tell him and toss him a cube from the fridge. He gleefully chomps it to bits. It’s nice to have a pet with such low expectations.

10:05 a.m. I brew my Pekoe + Matcha green morning caffeine and head up to my writing office.

10:15 a.m. On the Mac, clickity-click. Doing email first thing to get it out of the way. Okay, that’s a lie, who doesn’t want to check their email? Along with a handful of truly work-related items, one of my best friends emails about her morning OB/GYN appointment. She’s on East Coast time so she writes me on her lunch break, bemoaning the lengths at which we women go to gussy up the ‘little miss’ for a 10-minute exam. We all do it. Things have got to be sparklin’ when you know somebody with a miner’s lamp is going down under. I’m laughing out loud as I read her email and dribble my tea on the carpet. I’m OCD about such things so I must-must-must stop everything to apply carpet stain spray and dab it out.

11:20 a.m. No more bojangling. Serious work time. I open the draft of my third novel. Today, I’m inserting a new chapter between two old.

11:21 a.m. The longest minute ever staring at the blinking cursor on the page.

11:22 a.m. I pick a cuticle.

11:23 a.m. I sip my tea and wonder if it needs more sweetener.

11:24 a.m. I put my mouse over my email postage stamp and nearly click it. No, no, I tell myself. You’re procrastinating.

11:25 a.m. I read through the ending of the last chapter, searching for my character’s voice. Come, talk to me, I think. I’m caffeinated and sugar-loaded. I’m ready with my fingers on the keyboard. Come on.

11:27 a.m. I finally hear it. The muses. Thank God. I’m swept into the zone and write without interruption for the next three hours, aided and abetted by snacks I keep hidden in my desk drawer.

1 p.m. My cell phone goes off a couple times, but I can’t stop writing. If I stop the flow, I may not get it back. I type on.

2:30 p.m. My stomach growls. I need lunch. All the sugar and caffeine has crested and fallen miserably low. I’m starting to resent my characters, my bad hair day, my husband who isn’t even home so how is he to blame. I get this way when I’m hungry—bitchy.


2:33 p.m.
I pull out my Nigella Lawson cookbook and throw leftover chicken and vegetables together, nibbling this or that as I go. I make the recipe amount (serves 4) and eat my finished masterpiece standing at the counter on the phone with my contractor, Javier, who’s supposed to come install my new over-the-range microwave. The old one blew its magnetron. (Yes, this is actually a part and not an 80s weapon of destruction. I’m very proud that I know this term). I’m a big microwave chef. On the phone, I’m eating and talking fast. Before I know it, I’ve consumed every last morsel in the pan. I’ve been over-served. Eyes bigger than stomach.

3:15 p.m. I throw Gatsby another ice cube and waddle back up to my desk. I check the missed calls on my cell phone: a New York City number, my agent friend. I call him back to chat. He makes me happy and I hang up with a big smile.

3:45 p.m. Javier has one of his workers coming at 4 p.m. Too little time to do any real writing. So I check out the blogosphere: The Paris Review Daily. Maud Newton makes me laugh. I’m doing what she terms “online grazing” when I move over to Jacket Copy and read of Barbara Kingsolver’s Orange Prize win. I have yet to read The Poisonwood Bible and now her The Lacuna is being lauded too. I make a note to buy both, then look at the stack of unread books on my desk hutch and sigh. Onward to non-literary news: World Cup preparations and Kyron Horman’s disappearance.

4:20 p.m. The contract worker shows up: One man who tells me he’s got a musical degree from UTEP. He’s an expert on the flute. My new microwave weighs 60 lbs and he’s planning to install it solo. I’m a little dubious. I stick around to make sure he doesn’t fall off the stool or break a finger. He needs those for his fluting.

5 p.m. Microwave is installed, and I am doing pirouettes in my kitchen. It’s been almost two months since our old one smoked itself. We’ve been using a mini $29.99 Wal-mart version on the counter. I let Gatsby out and toss his ball a couple of times, talking like a crazy woman all the while: “We got a new microwave, Gatsby! Isn’t that great! Good boy! Good boy!”

5:15 p.m. Back to work. I finish the new chapter and revise old ones for the next couple hours.

7:47 p.m. I toss dinner in the oven and chop a side salad. My husband and I debate what constitutes a “salad.” I say if it’s lettuce it’s a salad. He argues a salad must consist of lettuce plus other garden items. So I oblige him with sliced mushrooms, a quartered tomato and a sprinkle of Parm. Though in my mind, lettuce + dressing is just as much a salad as this.

8:00 p.m. My husband walks in the door. He played soccer with his local league after work so he smells like a gym sock and looks like a saltlick. He asks for a hug and I shoot him a look that says, I’ll kill you, shower first.

8:20 p.m. Dinner with my clean husband. We sit at the kitchen table and chat about his day and mine. He admires our new kitchen upgrade, Miz Microwave. I show him how the vent automatically opens and closes like a Jetson’s episode. He feigns great awe.

8:55 p.m. I go up to my office and save everything for the night, write a couple more emails, and make a To Do list for tomorrow. Even though it’s Friday.

9:15 p.m. On the couch with the hubs. He’s studying for ortho cases the next day, so I get to watch whatever I want: the DVR-ed “Real Housewives of NYC” reunion. I like Bethenny Frankel. I can’t help it. I think she’d be fun to have nibbles and drinks with on a rainy Saturday afternoon–and there are very few people I can say that about. My husband just shakes his head. I do laundry while I watch, pausing the DVR to switch loads from the washer to the dryer.

9:22 p.m. After Jill Zarin cries the first time, the hubs goes upstairs to watch preliminary World Cup stuff on the bedroom TV.

10:45 p.m. I let Gatsby out and standing by the back door, I realize I’m tired. How is that possible when I woke up late? I tell myself to go to bed early so I can get a jumpstart on revisions tomorrow. I lug folded piles upstairs and leave them on top of our dresser.

11:30 p.m. I’m in bed beside my husband who’s lightly snoring, but I can’t sleep. I’m thinking about the characters in my third book, plotting, hearing conversations, and watching unwritten scenes in my head. I wonder if I oughtn’t get up and write. But the air-conditioning has kicked down to 68 degrees, and I’m cold outside the covers. I’ll remember. Remember to remember, I tell myself.

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Responses

  1. I loved reading your Day in the Week! Thanks for sharing a piece of your life with all. You are an amazing communicator!


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