A few notes from what I was writing in my journal this weekend (in this blazing heat) (so forgive me if I sound delirious):
I played softball when I was a kid. I was terrible at it, but I think I enjoyed having somewhere to go on a regular basis, especially because I didn’t have a lot of friends. I had no physical gifts, and I was overweight and couldn’t move as quickly as the other kids. I got stuck playing in right field a lot. But I liked it when the coach said, “Let’s see some hustle out there.” This was always accompanied by an enthusiastic clapping of hands.
Let’s see some hustle.
I have a lot of hustle even now. I’m not a hustler – this isn’t a con, of course, and I’m not faking it – but I hustle. I’ll slow down when there’s nowhere left to run to. But as long as I live the life of the mind, there’s always going to be somewhere new to go. A new hustle.
Pete Rose’s nickname was “Charlie Hustle.” He ended up being a gambler. He just couldn’t help himself.
My mom was also on a softball team (because she was the real athlete in the family) with a bunch of other teachers from the school where she subbed, and we used to go watch her play at the park district baseball fields. Sometimes I would get bored and wander off to the creek that ran against the park. The creek was dimly lit – there was a thin shield of trees between it and the the bright lights of the baseball fields. I would squat on the ground next to it and run my fingers through the water, hoping to capture a frog. Once I was wearing new white jeans and I somehow tipped over into the creek. I ruined the jeans and had to walk around the rest of the night damp and muddy. I remember being devastated. I might have cried. There was definitely some sort of scene.
I was always ruining nice things when I was a child because of my physical awkwardness. I broke bones, I still do. My body will probably always be a complete mystery to me.
I looked at the creek on a map, to see if it had a name that I just couldn’t recall anymore, but there was nothing there but a thin, wavy blue line.
I got a starred Publishers Weekly review for The Middlesteins. I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to skim my reviews, just look at the first and last sentence, but I will admit I enjoyed that the first five words of the review are, “A panoply of neurotic characters.” That sounds about right.
Nice things are happening for the book. My publisher threw a press luncheon for me and the extremely tall and wonderful Rhoda Janzen at Bergdorf-Goodman’s last week, a store I have been in exactly once. (I do most of my shopping at the very popular and exclusive Goodwill’s department store chain, perhaps you are familiar with it?) Bergdorf’s was gorgeous. Man, does it smell like money in there. For lunch they served us lobster salad with avocado, which would be the only two food groups if I had my way. Then I had to make a speech. On the one hand, I will always feel ridiculous making a speech, because I am a person who hides behind her words first and foremost. On the other hand, I will talk about this book forever if you let me.
(Please don’t let me. Seriously, tell me to shut up.)
Anyway, every time something good happens for the book I feel like I am getting a present. Just the fact that the book is getting published at all is enough for me – trust me – but then someone buys me a lobster salad too? Is it my birthday or something?
And someday I’ll tell that story, the story of how I didn’t think I would ever get published again. But today I’ll just be happy instead.