Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanks to my friend Susan Ito's blog, I discovered, a web site where you can both test your vocabulary and help end hunger all at one (for every correct answer, they donate 10 grains of rice through the United Nations World Food Program.) What a cool, fun way to combine literacy and human rights!
Some fun news--I learned that Target has chosen Self Storage as a "Breakout Book" for the month of February (when the paperback comes out) and will feature it on their "Bookmarked" shelves around the country. I love me some Tar-jay!

Friday, November 16, 2007

This is a picture of what was once Bransky's Hall, the aforementioned ice cream shop owned by my great grandfather in Baltimore (which I learned was also a confectionery and a place to buy coal. The Branksys lived there, too--I imagine on the upper levels.) It was very exciting to learn the address, to find more about the place through the archives at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Driving to the place itself was quite a terrifying adventure--the neighborhood is very economically depressed now, and I guess I looked like a target in my shiny rental car; I had to do some scary and illegal maneuvers to get away from a beat up van that was trailing me, and I had to race away from a couple of women chasing my car on foot. My finger is in this cell phone photo because the picture was taken in great haste. I wish I could have gotten out of the car, examined the building, touched the original brick that still edges one wall, but I'm so happy to just be able to place the building geographically, to begin to visualize it as it once must have been.

My trip was wonderful--beautiful family togetherness, amazing food (including one of the best new pickles ever at Attman's Delicatessen, which has been around since 1915 and has some fun menu listings, a "Gay Liver-ation" sandwich among them), kick ass bookstores (including a progressive one, and a totally free one), a quick trip to the CODEPINK house in DC, and a stop at the American Visionary Art Museum, which houses one of the most wild and awe-inspiring collections I have seen. My time at Cecil College was a lot of fun, too--I surprised both myself and the audience by singing a bit from Annie Get Your Gun during my talk (I wasn't expecting to do that at all, but the talk was on a stage that was set for a play, and it just triggered something in me.) I'm grateful for the warm welcome there, for the time spent with my sisters, for the time spent reconnecting with my roots, even for the time spent running for my life. Re-entry into my life here has been a bit discombobulating--I got home late Wednesday, taught all day Thursday, and my daughter had her tonsils out this morning--but I am grateful for all of that, as well (especially the fact that Hannah is recovering so beautifully! I wish Bransky's Hall was still around so I could give her some ice cream made by her great-great-grandfather to soothe her aching throat...)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Good luck to everyone who signed up for NaNoWriMo this year! Like a fool, I signed up, myself, fully intending to fall wayyyyy short of the 50,000 word mark. I'm already ridiculously behind. I just wanted to give myself some inspiration to move forward with my novel this month, even in the midst of total life chaos, plus I love the camaraderie of NaNo. Hopefully I'll spill a few words before December.

This Friday, I leave for Baltimore. If you happen to be in the area, I will be speaking at Cecil College on Nov. 13, talking about art and activism. You can find more info here. I'm so excited. My father's family landed in Baltimore after fleeing Russia, and stayed for many years, my great great grandfather funding college education for his 10 children through his ice cream store (which began as a shaved ice cart.) I've never been there myself and am eager to explore my roots and visit relatives who live in the area (as well as my sister who is flying in from Toronto). Speaking of family, please send good thoughts to my brother's liver. He just got a new one today.