East Side, West Side, All Around the…World

This crazy, wonderful summer! I turned 64 in early July and, yes, I’ve been doing the garden and digging up weeds, but even though I agree that one could not ask for more, the universe has somehow decided to give me lots more anyway. There was the Vermont Studio Center residency in early July. Then, a few weeks later, in non-A Reunion of Ghosts related activities, Don and I spent 10 days in beautiful Ecuador, 7 of those days exploring the mind-blowing Galapagos islands. Here’s a picture from your average morning in the islands:

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But turning to book-related travel, a week ago I read in the Scribblers on the Roof reading series at Ansche Chesed, the Upper Westside synagogue, where, to my delight and amazement (it was a hot August evening in NYC, after all) the place was packed. The horrible heat and humidity of the prior days had broken and there was a gentle breeze as first the smart and witty Janice Weizman and then I read from our respective novels. After each reading the audience asked intelligent and illuminating questions. There was even homemade chocolate cake. (Happy birthday, event coordinator Josh Hanft!)

13995530_10153637746241246_4494351262501133145_o (1)And to make things even better, a classmate from my Bethpage High School days, Ira Temchin, was sweet enough to take the A train down to see me. There is such a strong connection among my BHS crew–stronger in some cases now than it was back in the day. We have a different perspective at this point in our lives: we see our similarities rather than the silly differences that can keep short-sighted kids apart and cliquish. The blessing/curse that is Facebook is at its blessingest when it comes to my high school classmates, facilitating connections and allowing us to feel physically closer than we are in reality. I truly turn into a sentimental puddle when it comes to this particular community of fellow 64-year-olds, so seeing Ira was deeply meaningful. Anyway, enough of that! Here’s a picture that Ira took of me reading.

There was no time to linger in the city, though. The morning after my reading, I zipped right back home. The next morning I spoke by phone to the members of the Marlboro Public Library’s book club who’d read Reunion this month. Thanks to Monmouth County, NJ librarian Robyn Miller for selecting the book and her unwavering enthusiasm for it. Her questions were smart and probing, making me think about my own work in new ways.

And now, after a week at home catching up on school work, I’m preparing to travel to Scotland for 10 days. I’ll be flying out on Friday, reading at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Sunday, and meeting with the Edinburgh Jewish Women’s Book Group on Monday. Info about both events, the former public and the latter private, are here.

IMG_0733After Edinburgh, I–I should say “we” because Don is coming too–will be traveling to Glasgow and then taking a couple of days to explore the west highlands, ancestral home of this little person, my west highland white terrier Josie, who, I sense, has a tartan neckerchief in her near future.

So–yes, what a crazy, busy, happy summer filled with blessings galore. And if this post were to have an acknowledgments section the way a novel does, then I’d be acknowledging Clare Juddson Kagel, a reader who befriended me and snagged me the Ansche Chesed invite, the aforementioned Josh Hanft and Robyn Miller, author and erstwhile kid sister Jessamyn Hope for connecting me with the Edinburgh book club, my publicity team at 4th Estate in London, and the University of Wisconsin’s Art Institute for awarding me its 2015 Emily Mead Baldwin-Bascom Prize, which helps pay for the parts of all this travel that are writing-related. I am so incredibly fortunate.