Home Fires

So it has been a quiet week on the blog, but not a quiet week in real life. After a great day at Politics & Prose, I zipped down to Mississippi to wrap up my book launch with readings at Square Books in Oxford (you can see a full video here) and Lemuria in Jackson. Then I promptly returned to DC to tape an hour of live conversation on The Diane Rehm show this morning for NPR & WAMU (archival recording here)--which was such a thrill. I remember hearing an American University MFA professor, Kermit Moyer, wax poetic on her show many a morning. 

Oh: my book was picked as a "Great Nonfiction Read" in the August 8 issue of PEOPLE. Doesn't get much more surreal. Amy Winehouse is on the cover, for goodness sakes.

But if you asked me what I spent the last week doing, here's what I'd say: I was tending the home fires. Because while this book launch is a thrill, the roller coaster ride to end sometime. (Uh...ignore the mixing of those two metaphors.) If you haven't put some time into developing real connections with real people, you're going to end up at the amusement park alone after closing time. And that's a lonely place. 

Here's what tending the home fires looks like...

Cooking dinner for new friends and adored ones. Menu: lemon chicken with olives, parsley, and red onion, herbed couscous with stir-friend portobello mushrooms and spinach, carrots glazed in ginger ale & chile powder, and fresh fruit with peanut brittle (the only store-bought indulgence) for dessert.

Adding a day to my return drive to DC by first driving down to Jackson, Mississippi, to see my beloved former boss Mary Lynn Kotz receive an award at the Mississippi Museum of Art for her contributions to the arts (among other things, she wrote an incredible biography of Robert Rauschenberg).
Finding this package leaned against my door in DC, sent by a young woman I met at my Lemuria reading. Now, by all standard accounts that was the least successful of my launch readings--teeny-tiny crowd. But that meant I had time to connect and really talk with Rachel, a talented teenager who at first claimed she came only to get out of family cleaning chores at home. But her attentive questions made me suspect otherwise. So I bought  her a copy of Don't Kill the Birthday Girl. And receiving one sincere thank-you makes the reading worth more than 50 books sold.
Opening my package to discover a copy of her school's literary journal, which she had a hand in editing. Editors of little journals, unite! I particularly love how she signed the masthead page.

...and discovering that she, like me, is fascinated by the Orpheus & Eurydice myth (I have several poems that reference it in my first collection, Theories of Falling). Editor and poet. Go, Rachel, go!
...As for today, a confession: what I should have done, after The Diane Rehm Show, was rally for a high-powered happy hour downtown with literary types. But I was exhausted. So you know what I did instead? Curled up in bed with Molly Birnbaum's book Season to Taste--a memoir about being a chef-in-training, then losing one's sense of smell in a freak accident--which I have loved for its smart writing, vivid imagery, and sensitive blend of memoir and science. I finished the book. And I took a nap. I am tending the home fires. I am tending to my heart first, my career second.