new new york.

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An impromptu trip to New York in June (it feels like this summer is nothing except one impromptu trip to the East Coast) to visit my farthest-away niece. Family photographs and familiar places made unfamiliar with the passing of time. New museums and old museums in the span of a few quick days. At the end of this week I’ll make the trip again, this time to the farthest point, from one water to another, and not one niece this time but two.

This summer’s slipped away and lasted forever. It’s been the most productive block of time I’ve had in years. It’s been everything a summer should be. I feel the pieces falling into place—all the pieces I’ve been struggling to catch! All finally within my grasp!—and I’m trying to just to let them go where they will. I’m trying not to catch every one before it falls, examine it to death, overthink it until it’s meaningless.

An email from a friend overseas:

Do you think part of your anxiety might be panicking that everything’s so good, it feels like you’ve got a lot to lose?

I repeated this to myself that night, the next morning, all through the following week. I wrote it down and wondered how much truth there was to it. I wrapped birthday presents and tied bows and photographed a baby shower in the hills of Studio City and all the while her words bounced around in my brain until they settled down and made sense.

I haven’t written her back yet, but I will soon, and I’ll say: Yes. Yes, I think that’s exactly right. I think you’re exactly right. Thank you for putting it into words.

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what comes next.

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Yesterday my car was struck in a hit & run, two weeks ago my cat had surgery from which he may or may not recover, and today I finished a read-through of a first draft of a new book and sent it to my agent.

It’s weird, isn’t it, the patterns of anxiety, the slow creep of stress. Sometimes you dodge it and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you have a pretty good Greek salad for lunch and you think, OK. I can do this. I can handle this and whatever else.

Sometimes you just know you’ll be fine in a little while. Give or take whatever may come next.

one year since.

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Last year today we were going out to dinner to celebrate the release of my first book, The Half Life of Molly Pierce and today the morning is grey and I am working on a new book, one without a title, one almost done after weeks of doing nothing else but writing- until I feel like my brain is filled with sludge.

It’s been an absolute joy to be back in this place again, this swamp of writing, pulling weeds up to find a spot of dry land firm enough to sit down with my computer. That is exactly what it feels like. I’ve been moody, tired, sleepless, messy, unkempt. I’ve been inspired by something I have yet to name. I’ve been dreaming of a vacation in the middle of the desert when I’m done, a reward, just me and the first read-through after the first draft, which can reveal so many things. Oh, this is good! or Oh my, what was I thinking.

My two year anniversary of moving to Los Angeles passed recently and of course now I love it here, of course now when I leave and come back, my plane dipping over neighborhoods spreading and multiplying for miles and miles, I feel relaxed. I feel at home. I feel like all the decisions I made, so long ago and so far away, were the right ones.

My next book will come out in one year, give or take. The Lost & Found. I wrote it here, at this desk, on this blue chair, with this stained coffee mug next to my laptop. I wrote it in one summer, a summer where everything changed rapidly and I felt truly depressed again for the first time in years. It comes and goes like it’s always come and gone, a sense of hopelessness and whatthefuckamidoing and why why why whywhy.

I’ve written 36,000 words in fourteen days. I can’t remember the last time I felt this tired. Or this happy. Or this tired.

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great room.

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Sometimes, waking early before the others, wandering the rooms wrapped in a blanket or drinking my tea in the empty kitchen, I had that most rare of feelings, the sense that the world, so consistently overwhelming and incomprehensible, in fact has an order, oblique as it may seem, and I a place within it. 

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photographs taken in Long Beach, California

text from Great Room by Nicole Krauss

new headshot.

new headshot, new book, new ‘tude.

I worked so hard on my second book (a new standalone) and couldn’t be happier that it’s been accepted for publication. Summer ’16! Many more details to come, but for now here’s my new headshot. Feels good to have a little update. Photo cred: Jaimee Dormer

small

 

old friends.

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I forgot how nice it is to know someone for so long that you can’t really remember a time you didn’t know them. My ninth birthday party, on video, me with hair so long it reached my butt, perpetually uncombed and snarled and hers matching in every respect except for how much darker it was. Constantly searching for the portal to Narnia on her parents’ expansive acreage, choking on oversized Valentine’s Day candy, always being just a little too terrified to feed carrots to the horses in her grandparents’ stables. Losing touch for no reason but reconnecting unexpectedly, my third college and the one I would stick to, albeit begrudgingly. A ten year mystery solved and her calling me on the phone to tell me everything. Her first trip to California and the three of us—her husband, her, me—drove through Mulholland and walked aimlessly around Runyon Canyon and ended up at the Getty, peering through the telescope to see Jupiter, the last ones let in for the night. Disneyland and Point Dume and a beach filled with dead sea lions, babies and adults, some half-decomposed and some that could have been sleeping. A trio of dolphins and a grey whale that followed us half a mile along the shore, coming up every few minutes to breathe.

When they left Tuesday night I was exhausted and suddenly alone. I spent hours on S’s couch playing Mario Brothers and drinking our new favorite wine, bought by the case and stacked neatly next to the TV. I was ready for bed by 9 and I slept late the next day, waking up to skin sun burned and tingling, hair messy and full of salt. I worked yesterday from my bed, cross-legged and chugging water, finally feeling more settled with the work I’m doing. Finally feeling more settled with a lot of things, probably.

Yesterday S hid a cheese plate in an empty cardboard box and we drank martinis and he put a record on and we tried to stay awake to watch Letterman’s final show but couldn’t. I woke up to a city cold and grey—Los Angeles’s two months of resolute gloom—and a welcome email from my agent. Clean sheets and laundry hanging to dry and my apartment still just a little too small and a little too messy. But mine, anyway, and empty, and quiet, and nice.

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new.

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So many things new. New job. Old friends newly relocated to my city. New book approved for publication (book 2!). New, cold air. New rain. New pain. A new (old) cherry red suitcase and a new (old) map of a city I’ve never been. A new decade entered into with more and more certainty, more and more confidence. A new (old) hobby picked up again and new (old) places to explore.

The other week Jaimee and I went to the Huntington Library and spent four brutally hot hours in the sun, burning the tops of our feet and hiding under our almost-identical straw hats. I shot photographs for Jaimee’s vintage store and we took turns arguing who was sweating the most under the desert sky. I bought two waters and held one in each hand as we wandered around, lost for quite a while until we found the koi pond.

I’ve been making presents: my nieces’ upcoming first birthdays, my best friend’s thirtieth, my father’s birthday, Mother’s Day. Making them by hand, hours spent quiet and still. I’ve watched a lot of old movies I always said I’d watch, making my way through them one after the other in rapid succession. I’ve been writing something new, something fragile and too big to comprehend.

On Sunday I’ll drive up to San Francisco, almost welcoming the six hours on the road, the quiet, the hypnosis. That, too, will be new: I’ve never done the drive by myself before and my time in cars lately has been limited to twenty minutes there, twenty minutes here.

But it will be fine. I think all the newness is doing me good.

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magic.

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Last week my mother and I went on vacation together, something we’ve done every year since I was a kid. Back then it was camping in Massachusetts and now it’s usually Florida, where this year the heat was oppressive and the humidity unavoidable. We found air-conditioned buildings to squat in and spent one long hour waiting out a thunderstorm underneath a deserted awning. It’s been years since I’ve seen it rain so hard and for so long. In LA it’s usually the lightest of rains, the faintest impression of a shower.

I’m reminded again and again the greatest lesson my parents ever taught me: to be myself with such conviction that no one can ever question it. It seems like such a simple concept but it’s one I hold onto those days when everything seems a little harder. When writing becomes laborious or editing seems impossible and finishing a book feels like the most unreachable goal you could have set for yourself. Where summer 2016 feels both a hundred years away and just around the corner, too close to finish everything you have to finish.

We spent one day wandering around the newly opened addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it made me remember why I do what I do, why I write what I write. Why I’ve steered my life in the direction of long, computer-filled days and blank notebooks and a permanent callous on the inside of my ring finger from always holding a pen. If I could write something half as great as this, I kept thinking—a quarter as memorable, a tenth as permanent…

Love what you love, I write on a new blank page. Love it a lot and fuck anyone who wants to question it.

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photographs taken, of course, at the wizarding world of harry potter

grip.

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Last night a friend texted late and asked if she could come over and we sat on my bed for a few hours watching lip sync battles on Youtube and wondering why some people can never seem to get a fucking grip. I guess you could say that’s been the focus of my time recently: to get a fucking grip. It’s an appealing concept but some days it’s easier than others.

It’s been a busy few days, a weekend of concerts and comedy shows and resting and resetting. S comes back from Coachella today and I leave tomorrow night for a week-long vacation with my mom, something I’ve been counting down the days to for months.

I’m realizing that I unexpectedly love this place more the longer I live here. It’s the kind of love that sneaks up on you when you aren’t looking, that only becomes obvious when you’re faced with getting on an airplane and leaving it.

Be careful, she said last night as she skipped away from my front door, an hour or so after an earthquake that felt exactly like someone drove a truck into my building. Be careful, please, she said, and I didn’t have time to ask her what she meant before she was gone.

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photographs taken at an antique store somewhere outside Lancaster, CA.

 

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