Saturday, December 24, 2011

Swimming, Winning, Sinning, Whining, and New Beginnings.

Considering this is me (photo left, with my sister),
terrified by a 5 degree angle,
I'd say I'm doing pretty winning at life these days. ;)
In an oh-too-predictible microcosm of that old macrocosm of Time, 2011 flew by in a blink of an eye.

Damn you, Time. I wish the days would slow down.

I did my best to seize them, to make the most of the hours, some days more successfully than others.

In this, my 47th year, it seems essential to seize every moment, or at least to try, as they blur past me, out the windows.

Here are some of the highlights, the good, the bad and the naughty:

That's me in the middle, finding my religion. . . and, yes, we swam on Christmas Eve day,
me sans Santa hat, but I did don my monkey hat after.

Swimming. My family fills me, my writing sustains me, but my swimming? My swimming saves me.

As I get older, the water keeps me young, keeps me pushing to achieve new goals. Frustratingly, I did not accomplish last year's resolution to complete a five-mile swim this summer (mostly due to logistics), but I am signed up for one this coming summer. Luckily, I did push myself in new ways, including by swimming faster, harder, in more challenging conditions, and through December. Good enough. I'll take it.

I am endlessly blessed to have found The West Neck Pod (here's the official blog of the Pod, if you are interested).

And here I am swimming today, on 12/24/11 with the other amazing nutjobs of the West Neck Polar Pod ;))

Winning. I've had some winning experiences this year, both family and book-related. My kids don't love it when I blog about them, so suffice it to say, both my boys are wonderful kids who are having some awesome and hard-fought-for successes, and I'm proud of them. This is my younger son, having one such moment (yes, that is his name they are chanting ;)). They say you're only as happy as your most unhappy child, and I can tell you that this is true.

As for winning book news, some of the many highlights were:

the Dolphin Bookshop reading in October 

the high schools that have picked up The Pull of Gravity into their curriculum (!), my Skype visits with Mr. Hankins' class and especially the boys of Room 407, and with the 9th graders of Clio High School thanks to Mrs. Sarah Andersen,

and, the winning-most things of all: the confirmation that I will be going to PAPERBACK (!!! Winter 2013) and    
my shiny, wonderful, and oh-so-geekily meaningful 2011 Nerdies Award in Young Adult fiction bestowed by the amazing teachers and educators who run the Nerdy Book Club. (Thanks again to all who voted in the final phase!)

Sinning. Oh, come on! I've been pretty good. What's nice without a little naughty? 

My "private" facebook page continues to be a silly, ridiculous playground for me to connect with my writer (and other!) friends around the country, one such friend being the deliriously sexy and, yes, slightly naughty, Amber Grayson Vayle.    

I've known Amber as a writer for a long time, but recently she has branched out to this sexier persona, and a few months back, while I was appearing on her non-naughty show, we unwittingly named her new late-night Saturday radio show on Shark Radio, The Naughty Slot (10 pm, Saturdays ;)). Gotta love a little double entendre. Since then, it's taken off  and is, I admit, one of my favorite, guilty, grown-up pleasures on an otherwise-quiet Saturday night. Sometimes, it's even a little too hot for me to handle, but most the time it's a fun, sexy and, most-impressively, loving and supportive place to *ahem* blow off some steam (or work some up, I suppose ;)). One of the things I love best there is that most of the women are either tipping 40, or have galloped over it, and each one is a sexy, smart, gorgeous person inside and out. A little titillating fun to spice up the cold nights of winter. ;)

Btw, if you are under 19 and reading this, or easily offended by ridiculousness but still want to interact with me for some reason, please seek me out on my author facebook page HERE, rather than my private one. :)

Whining. I am out on SUBMISSION. Need I say more? (If I do, you can read this blog post, or this one to learn more). Also, my old lady, bum hip still hurts despite months of Physical Therapy, and then there was the night I passed out and broke my nose on the bathroom floor. Also, my freaking house is a mess and I have zero desire to clean it. There. That should do it. That wasn't too bad, was it?

New Beginnings

So, there you have it. And, now, here it is, a New Year.

I have a fresh slate and a chance to do better. To be a better friend, to be a more patient parent, to let go of old wounds and find a way to embrace the unknown without so much angst and distraction. And to spend less time wasting time, and more time writing and doing.

This is what I've learned: the more I do, the less I long for all the things I didn't do. Simple, right?

I have books to write, friends to spend time with, a family that I love, and that deserves to have me not just there for them, but fully present.

I am grateful for all the good that has come to me in 2011, and I hope you know how much your readership, and friendship, mean to me.

Especially to those who inspire me, who swim with me, and to my classmates in the Class of 2K11 who got me through this first author year, a very heartfelt thank you.


- gae


Monday, December 5, 2011

Swimmin' Wimmin of the Polar Pod, Sans Arms (on behalf of the water-blog)

Can you find where water meets air?
Despite a morning of dense fog that had Carole playing"Where's Waldo" with the water (see, photo left), at shortly after noon, three intrepid members of the Polar Pod -- Cathy, Carole and I -- suited up and met for another unbelieveable, stolen December swim.

The air temperature -- a balmy 58 -- was warm enough that I was sweating as I pulled on my sundry layers of swim caps, booties and gloves, and we pondered how the same global warming that's so desperately bad for the real polar bears and universe, was giving us such an unforgettable winter gift.

Despite the unseasonably warm air, wading into the water was another story.

Last night's cold temps seemed to have lowered the water a degree or two, and we felt the cold rush in right through our booties (though not into our impermeable Psycho gloves ;)). But, as always, once we got swimming, it was business as usual -- or as usual as it could be swimming without our right (Carol Moore) and left (Annmarie Kearny-Wood) arms.

A brisk swim to the yellow sign felt totally doable as our faces and bodies acclimated, and we even stopped and chatted and aqua-jogged in place there for a while, admiring the scenery and marvelling at our great good luck to be out yet another day, before swimming somewhat reluctantly back toward the dock and home. 
Another fine Pod hat on display.

Back on shore we agreed that swimming right through December seems more and more possible (and necessary) with each passing day.

- gae

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Swimming Through Angstarctica

I love my Psycho gloves so much that, yes, I want to marry them.
I've been saying for a long time -- before I'd even discovered the bliss and exhilaration of the open water -- that I was hoping one day my wetsuit would turn me into a super hero.

Today, I got one step closer.

Thanks to my dear friend (and lovely, adorable, fellow-lunatic), Annmarie, who delivered an early Christmas present, I am now the proud owner of new, improved swim booties, and, more importantly, a pair of 5mm Psycho gloves.

The name says it all. They're the ones in the photo that look like they belong to Iron Man. And they are the Swim God's gift to womankind.

Despite 47- 49 degree temps in the Sound today, we swam 40+ minutes and, even then, I wasn't ready to get out.

It was crazy!

It was delirium!

It was likely this winter's salvation.

Because December is here. The crush of the holidays (I'm a Jew, you know, we just don't get all that excited). The cold, dark days. The oppressive weight of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

For the past few winters, I've barely made it through.

But, now I've got a plan. And my plan now seems attainable. Thanks to an early Christmas present, from a dear friend who seems to need the bliss of the open water just as badly as I do.

Thanksgiving Day. That's me in the center. Losing my religion. (Annmarie, photo left)
Plus, the other hardies of the West Neck Pod.
Btw, if you want to read more about our open water swims, go here to the Water-blog.

Together, with Psycho gloves, we're gonna swim right on through it. We're swimming through Angstarctica. We're swimming till we meet the shores of spring.

So, don't worry about me. Because the water will buoy me, and my fingers won't feel a thing. <3

- gae

p.s. This just in:
Me, with my PSYCHO GLOVES today!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How Red (Cold? Blue?) Can You Go?

If my hair is any indicator, very, and likely proof that I am frantically staving off  (another) mid-life crisis.

It started as a strand or two, and now look, it's taken over my head. What's worse is that I'm eyeing bottles of green, and orange and purple.

At least my kids think this version of insanity is cool. Only when they're older will they realize. . .

Some days it's not too bad, but the rain this week doesn't help.

Nor the fact that I'm out on submission (writer speak for praying an editor will freaking just please take my book!). And, despite an amazing, competent new agent, who believes in me, it's this market that's killing my confidence...

Also, NOT helping? The fact that the open water season is going to end one day soon, like, say, yesterday, maybe, or at best, this Saturday. Because the novelty of swimming in 40-degree water is quickly wearing off. Been there. Done that. Thrice, as they say.

Then, it's six months in the (fucking) cholorinated pool.

Plus, there's my eyesight: yep, I need reading glasses . . . and, even still, I can't see shit. My last trip to the eye doctor nearly made me pass out. It's the light they shine in your eyes while they describe how you're slowly losing focus. . .

Oh, and  my "bum" hip which, no, has not gotten better despite all I've done to ignore it *coughs*. I mean, bursitis???? What the fuck?!)

And, suddenly, I realize I never made the five-mile swim this summer I was counting on -- okay, I realized sooner, but suddenly the weight of it is hitting me hard, and bumming me out big time.

I know, I know. There's always next summer. But I wanted to do it this one.


So, yeah, I'm feeling angsty and blue and fearful of the cold days looming ahead. So maybe it just doesn't matter how red I go. Maybe no red is quite red enough.

Maybe I need to go blue . . .

(You know, as in, 
5. blue - adj. - suggestive of sexual impropriety; "a blue movie"; "blue jokes"; "he skips asterisks and gives you the gamy details"; "a juicy scandal"; "a naughty wink"; "naughty words"; "racy anecdotes"; "a risque story"; "spicy gossip")

This is my writer-friend, cum girl crush, Tami Sue Snow.  (yes, people, that is a totally business-like and respectable way to use the word cum. You know nothing):

Yeah, I said girl crush. I mean, seriously, can you blame me? 


I didn't think so.

Anyway. Tami hosts an erotic radio show on Shark Radio called The Naughty Slot (*curtseys because she helped her name it*) and, as sexy as she is, she is also sweet and talented and adorable, and suddenly I find myself rushing home on Saturday nights at 10 pm EST (if, miracles of miracles, i am even out in the first place) to chime in on the chat room delirium that takes place in the sidebar, along with my new VBFF (and very funny counterpart) Heidi (she's a peach!), as if we are silly school girls.

Silly, blue school girls staving off an emotional breakdown...

Me, flaunting my blueness on a recent Saturday night....

I would have thought that all this girl-on-girl (and totally in-fun) debauchery would actually be more entertaining to my husband -- who would usually only dream of such things -- but mostly he just seems to shake his head at me. 

Maybe it's the combo of red, cold, AND blue, that's freaking him out just a bit.

And, the fact that it's only November.

But that's what marriage is for, right? To roll our eyes while the other spouse isn't quite looking, then nod supportively when we realize they are.

*nods enthusiastically*


It's gonna be an interesting winter.

- gae

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Writing Life: Chutes and Ladders

I've been thinking lately how much the whole 'publishing thing' is like a game of Chutes and Ladders.

I mean,
maybe all of life is like a game of Chutes & Ladders and that's why it has
remained such a classic
(or maybe it's just that it's so dang fun to slide the little colorful pegs up and down the curly slides), but, certainly, my publishing journey has felt a lot like playing this game.

Here, I'll show you what I mean.

Imagine my first attempt at writing a manuscript in 1998 as the Start Space, and the completion of the first rough draft of THE JETTY (4+ years) as Space #4.

Up, I go to Space #14 where there's a yummy cake waiting for me. Yay, cake! You know how I love a good cake.

Perhaps at space #15, I submit to my first round of agents, which all come back rejections. Space #16, down I go! But at Space #9, I get a bite, my first agent request for a look at a partial or full.

Woohoo, I'm off and running on Space #31!

At Space #36, THE JETTY makes it to the Semi-finals of the first-ever Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, but at Space #47, I'm eliminated (luckily, I land in water).  

Space #28 is totally elusive for most of us -- there's a forcefield around it or something -- but it's back to Space #36 again, where I get my first real NYC literary agent who loves THE JETTY and my writing and is convinced we will get a six-figure deal.

Up to Space #44. Look how tall I feel now!

At Space #51, I finish the revisions she's asked for and we begin to send the manuscript out to publishers. At Spaces #53 - 63, the, "we love this, but. . ." rejections from said publishers start to roll in.

At Space #64, while at work on a new middle grade manuscript, I fall and break my arm.

No, really. I fell and broke my arm. Totally lost all mojo on that manuscript. It still sits half-finished somewhere.

Instead, on Spaces #61 - 79, I begin work on my second to-be-completed women's fiction manuscript, SWIM BACK TO ME and, at Space #80, it's ready to be submitted.

I land on Space #87. What more can I say?

For a while, I see stars (no, really, I'm telling you, I'm pretty sure I saw stars), but by Space #31 I'm off and running again. This time, it's a young adult manuscript, THE PULL OF GRAVITY.

At Space #36, I get an amazing editor at fsg interested, and at Space #51 she loves it!
Look at me just sweeping up over there.

But at Space #56, another in-house editor says, "Not so much," and sends me sneezing back to Space #53.

I engage in rewrites, my agent newly-confident in the manuscript and on space #71, the editor calls us back to say she misses the manuscript and, voila! I have a book deal.

It's a book deal, peeps. I eat an entire ice cream sundae!!! (Though I am careful to put my bib on.)

After 18 months of Space #91 glee and nerves and joy and revisions and line edits, the book comes out to very good reviews.

Woo hoo!

Good reviews!!!

*looks for ladder space*

Er. Um.


What? You say there there are no ladders here? Only more potential chutes? Ah, my TPoG cover hasn't made the Macmillan catalogue (most bookstores buy at least partially based on cover appeal), and, as a non-lead title, I receive only mininum marketing support from my publisher.

At Space #93, I scribble profanities all over the walls of facebook and start to slide down.
Days and nights turn into endless self-marketing ventures instead of writing ones, trying to get word of my title out there. I also work on what I think will be my "option" book -- an upper YA called JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME, which I finish in rough draft and my new agent loves.

Oops, might have left out some chutes and ladders, didn't I? As a result of a layoff at an inopportune time, I split with my first agent and am quickly taken on by a new one who is ready to pitch SWIM again after deep revisions. She also loves JACK KEROUAC, but I've started a second "option" effort, called FRANKIE SKY, which she loves too, and we agree to submit that for my option.

At Space #93 (what is it with that space, I ask you?) my editor rejects FRANKIE SKY as too commercial, but loves a new manuscript I've also started called IN SIGHT OF STARS. At Space 94 she's taking it up to the exec board, but unforseen objects sometimes have a trajectory of their own, and, at Space #95 she rejects it. At the same time, new shiny agent #2 -- not so new or shiny anymore -- loses steam with everything, becomes unresponsive to anything to do with my career, and we part ways somewhat less than amicably.

What day is it?

What year is it?


At Space #80 -- aw, come on, you didn't really think I would land on Space #80...

At Space #79, I get a shiny, new agent -- one who comes highly recommended by a writer-friend, and in whom I have lots of faith. He takes me on for FRANKIE SKY but asks for revisions which are (gratefully) made. At Space #96 I kick ass (avoiding that damned broken window) and my revisions get approved.

There are just three spaces left that stand between me and a second book deal.





one chute. 

*stares at dice in hand, and tries not to pull any cat tails.*

 - gae

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weather, Whims, and Waiting

Washington Square Park, NYC 10/28
sleet and roses
<-------- that, my friends, is sleet.

It snowed the other day in New York.

Not in Alaska, mind you.
Not even upstate, northern New York.
But on Long Island and New York City.

It snowed wet, cold, slushy stuff that rained down on my head, soaked my jeans through to my legs, coated the streets of NYC with just the kind of hazardous, slick, gray sludge a person like me can kill herself on.

I cursed the weather gods, as I ran from the LIRR to the subways, to Washington Square Park, trying to get my kid and his friend to their Saturday NYU math class* on time.

By the time we got back on the LIRR to go home, my jacket was soaked and frozen, and my toes were all but numb.

I don't remember a time when it snowed in New York in October. And I'll be happy if I never see such time again.

And, yet.

This morning, still October, the car thermometer reads 33, and the lawns are covered in a definitive blanket of white frost.

In another world, in another lifetime, that might be pretty. But, for me, in my world, it means only one terrible thing:

there will be no more open water this season.

suited up, mid-october at
West Neck Beach
I can do waves and wind and water at 53 degrees, if I can emerge to sunshine and temps above 45 on dry land. But I cannot do wind and water at 48 (the last reported temp before the snow and frost of this weekend) and emerging to dry land temps below 40 degrees.

I wish I could, but I cannot.

That means, for this season, I am out.**

I knew it was coming. I tried to brace myself.

In an effort to release land-based endorphins, I may have even bought some bright red hair dye on impulse and worked it through my hair.

Don't kid yourselves about it; I'm not sorry.

Even if I know, perhaps, I should be.

My hot-cherry red hair is making me very, very happy.

As happy as I can be on dry land.

So it's likely not going anywhere soon.

And, yes, fine, we'll see what color it turns when the chlorine starts mixing in.

In the meantime, I'm back to waiting. My Frankie Sky revisions are with my agent. He said he would have feedback to me soon. Then, if approved, we go back to the other waiting. The harder waiting.
Waiting for the editors to say yay or nay.

And, don't I know how often the nays have it.

But, really, what choice do I have?

So until then, me n' my hot-cherry red hair will be here, on dry land, or immersing myself in the chlorine. Waiting for good news. Waiting for spring. Waiting for another open water season to begin.

*please note that my son is taking said class at HIS request. I would NEVER suggest anyone take a math class on a Saturday. ;)

** hope looms eternal: as I finished typing this blog post, an email from my swim buddy appeared in my inbox promising temps back up near sixty this week. Could one more open water swim be  possible . . .?    ;)

- gae

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Riff (Sugar Rush)

Me, last night, with the treat my sweet hubby delivered
Reeling from a sugar high (after weeks of not eating any) and inspired by a copy of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven (reprinted way below) that serendipitously arrived in my email box this morning, I penned my own version of some early Halloween terror.

I invite you to join me in the comments and create a little Halloween homage of your own.

Definitely treat over trick.

- gae

Once upon a Tuesday, teeming, with the thought that I was dreaming,
when consuming pounds of creamy, malted chocolate balls galore,
should my sugar-coated teeth, my growing thighs felt underneath,
this memory, now, so vague and brief, it barely lingers at my core. . .
“Tis only fair, you see,” I muttered, “to mix some sweet amidst the bore,”
only this: a sugar fix, and nothing more.
Ah, distinctly (I was sober), it was in the bleak October,
sent my husband like a gopher, to the aisle in the store. . .

Eagerly, no, not a Spartan, sent him for the whole damned carton
Tried to cease, but played my part on, part on asking, yes, for more --
Now, the fear of scale uncertain, holes in teeth will soon be hurtin’,
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating, of my heart, I stand repeating,
"'Tis some minor weakness leaving, exiting through every pore,
Calories to soon be leaving, through my every pore.
Twas only candy, nothing more.”

The Raven
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
-Edgar Allen Poe

Friday, October 21, 2011


Gae at West Neck Beach 10 21
Despite high winds and chilly air hovering
only around 55 (not counting the wind chill),
and a marineforcast reporting 3 ft waves and
a small craft advisory, a few lucky Pod members and I
snuck away at 10:30 this morning for
an open water swim. 

The wind gusts in the parking lot were so intense
they snapped our car doors shut as we tried to emerge,
so we opted for stretching on our wetsuits on the alee side, before even attempting to venture to our usual changing spot at the lifeguard station, to get our swim caps and goggles and remaining supplies on.
Carol Moore changing at her car
The waves (and white caps) were kicking. Just trying to get my hair conditioned and under my swim cap, left my fingers numb. We fretted aloud about the water temperatures.

Luckily, the sky was too pretty to turn back, so we waded in tentatively, our girly screams and f-bombs peppering the air as the cold swept into our wetsuits. Then, as always, we put our heads down and started to swim.

It was one of the most exhilarating swims I've had to date. When we'd swum our day's course, it was hard to force ourselves out. My wetsuit drying on my stoop makes me happy to have seized the day. As always, I am never ever sorry I went in.

Here are just a few reasons why:

convinced yet?


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Pieces of Me

Some days I feel frantic, others lucky, to try to push myself to do more, be more, than I originally thought I could be.

I am acutely aware of time ticking.

Of days passing me by.

Of seasons changing from summer to fall
to winter once again.

I want to grasp life -- to embrace it and make more of it -- but some days I just don't really know how.

I try not to say no out of fear.

I want to take in the small moments, make them indelible, hold them captive, tiny photographs in my brain,

while grabbing the huge moments with gusto, a big, shiny, sturdy brass ring.

I swim.

I write.

Now, I even teach.

I lawyer. I parent. I wife. I love.

Sometimes none of it feels like enough.

Sometimes, all of it feels like too much.

I am so many pieces. I am exhilarted. I am lacking. I am fulfilled. I am numb.

I let the waves embrace me.
I hold on for dear life.

I let go as much as I can.

I am acutely aware of time ticking
and the days passing me by.

- gae

Monday, October 3, 2011


Girls of October
( photo: Carol Moore)
I'm feeling it this morning: the cold, harsh reality that summer cannot --

will not --

hold on.

I see my breath in the air.
(Cannot, will not, hold on).

I know this. And yet I keep trying.

Why do I try, when I know there's no holding on?

I need acceptance. I just need to breathe and transition to the chlorine.
And, yet.
The open water has become more and more my Prozac. I don't want to transition. It feels like such a damned metaphor.

It's Monday. It's October. It's cold.

And, I can see my damned breath in the air.

And all I want is to swim.

I want the bright hues of summer. I want to run my toes in the sand, to feel the sun on my face, to stroke under blue skies, through the waves, through the bliss, through the promise.

But this morning, there's no promise. Only cold, gray skies. And no mistaking my vaporous breath in the air.

- gae

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Late-Season Firsts, Kamikaze Flies, and Joye of Joys!

Joye, headed to the water
In honor of Carol who was not here this a.m., I make this post on behalf of the Water-blog:

Karen, Bonnie, and some hunky guys
Under gray skies that began to part upon our

arrival, a small group of hardy Poddites (Gae, Karen, Bonnie, Ken, and Rob Ripp) were thrilled to arrive at the beach to find a long-absent
Joye Brown - missing since mid-July due to a severe ankle fracture that required multiple pins, rods and PT --
pulling into theWest Neck Beach parking lot .

After hugs and greetings, we set out in crystal clear water amidst fish jumping, some of us for a short swim to the South Buoy, others continuing on to the North.

Despite an abundance of what could only be described as Kamikaze flies that littered the surface of the water, the Pod enjoyed an otherwise-pristine swim to the South Buoy under breathtaking skies.

As Karen and Rob set off toward the North buoy, Ken started a graceful backstroke back toward the beach. Bonnie and I decided to follow suit for as long as we were able, and, despite thinking we'd only last for a few hundred yards or so, we, too, backstroked the entire way back to the lifeguard station. So, new firsts, even this late in the season.

All in all, another glorious swim, though the Carol(e)s, etc. were sorely missed!

- gae

Friday, September 23, 2011

I'm Swinging!


I meant literally.*

You got excited for details, didn't you?

But let me tell you, this kind of swinging is the next best thing. If any of you could come put a swing like this up in my backyard, I would be your BFF forever. Yes, I know the forever is redundant.

If you want to read more about me and my swinging, you can switch to my YA blog entry here: Or you can just watch me swing and listen to me "scream like a girl," a bit more.


- gae

*with thanks to Carol Moore, our Fairy POD Mother for the swing and the video! If you want to know what a POD is, you can click here: OR here:!/pages/West-Neck-Pod/128827940504281 .

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


The view toward south buoy just a mere few days ago...
My older son headed off to his junior year of high school this morning.

You heard me.


Seriously. Vastly. Unfathomable.

I know, I use that word a lot. But, I mean it. There are things in this world I just can't wrap my brain around. And one of them is how quickly my life with my children is passing.

I want to slow it down, but there are things you can't hold onto.

Well, really, there is nothing you can hold on to.

According to Mirriam-Webster, a fathom is a unit of measure used especially to determine the depth of water. Maybe that's what I'm doing there -- in the water -- all the time. I'm trying to grasp hold of a concept I won't ever be able to hold onto.

It was "just the other day" we came home with him. A little bundle of brilliance in a blue and pink striped cap. He was uncharted territory. He was trouble. He was bliss. He's been heartache. He's been a lesson in strength and patience, and bottomless, chest-busting love. But, honestly, it's all just a blur.

This is him. My bigger blur.
And now he's off to his junior year of high school. I already know it's going to fly. I'm already trying to slow it down by sheer will and the rhythm of my own fleeting breath.

There will be SAT's and driving permits. Maybe there will even be girls. Certainly, there will be more heartache and more love. And all of it will be unfathomable.

So, I'm off in my bathingsuit and towel, where else, but to swim.

Fall means less open water and more chlorine, less wide expanse and more treading.

But there I'll go anyway, in my endless effort to wade in and grasp

what I never can.


- gae

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fucking Peter Gabriel

er, that's not how it sounded, but I wish.
okay, no I don't. Jon Hamm, maybe. Or these days, Adam Levine. But anyway.

I blame Peter Gabriel for my angst this morning. Like a Pavlovian trigger, In Your Eyes, took less than two minutes to take a sunny day and turn it angsty. Or maybe I've been hovering there all week. It's the whole end of summer/time flying thing. There are days I can't take it. There are meds for that, I know. Maybe I could use some.

Trust me on this: It's hard to get older. To see the days flashing by. To watch your face and body change no matter what you try to do to hold it suspended in your youth. Life is hard. Then you die. Someone famous once said.

And, I'm not fishing for compliments. I know I look pretty good for 47. Still, it aint no 25. Thanks anyway, though.

I sound gloomy, I know. Apologies. It's that fucking Peter Gabriel song that gets me every time.

I've had two unrequited "loves" in my lifetime. It's amazing how those stick with you no matter how many years pass. In both cases, the boys (men, whatever they were) pursued me, then dropped me without warning, and without a willingness to remain friendly or ever basically speak to me again. When I think of either of those people, it still hurts -- or worse, brings me back to this intense place of longing. Is there anything more angsty than longing?

A few years ago I read (in the New York Times) about a study that demonstrated that, when we remember something painful, it triggers a chemical or a spot (forgive me on the technical details) in our brains that actually momentarily behaves as if we are reliving the pain at that moment. Ah, then there's a science behind it. This makes me feel less crazy.

At any rate, Peter Gabriel just brings me back there. And so he did this morning. Luckily, there's water in my back yard and a bathing suit right over there.

- gae

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Me, underwater.
This is me. In the water. Like you know I like it.

Over the past three years, I've become a fairly obsessive swimmer. I've done some things I'm pretty proud of, like became an open water swimmer at age 45, swam a 5K (against current), and made a second 3.2 mile swim with a friend. Like plunged into waters not much more than 53 degrees, swam with jellyfish and bunkerfish and other such unmentionables that got stuck down my bathingsuit and stung up my back. I'm not the bravest girl in the world (check out my first few open water swim posts, here if you want to see how far I've come:,,,, but I've pushed myself in ways I never thought I could. I was never much of an athlete, now I sort of am.

Me, center, coming out of the water
with the girls.
My goal this summer is still to swim 5 miles. It may be this summer, it may be next, depending on who I can get to go with me (and finding a boat-safe route).

I've been relatively proud of myself. I mean, after all, these are pretty cool things. 

But, man oh man, how we push ourselves is all relative. A few weeks ago, a fellow POD member sent us an email about Diana Nyad. If you don't know who she is, you should. I've become pretty obsessed with her, if you must know. Especially if you're over the age of 40, you should spend a minute checking her out, because I'm telling you right now, she can change how you view middle age.

At 61, Diana is poised to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida through shark and poisonous jellyfish infested waters. Without a wetsuit, without a shark cage and without rest. At least, she's poised to try. That's 60+ hours in the ocean. Not the little harbor off the cozy Long Island Sound where I swim, people! That's a whole different roiling ball of water.

I swim for an hour or two,
then have a nice little shower.

By the end of the swim, her tongue will be swollen, her skin will be salted and stung raw, and she will be suffering pretty badly from hypothermia. And, of course, that doesn't factor the sharks. . .

To "warm up" for the swim (which is about to start any day -- she's waiting for water temperatures to settle at 86 degrees) she did a 24-hr ocean swim. She's set records before. All her life. She doesn't need to do this again. But she wants to keep pushing herself to try.

For her sake, I hope she makes it all the way; for my sake, it doesn't matter at all. Finish or not, she's already inspired me. With every stroke I take, with every mostly-innocuous jellyfish that slips through my fingers as I swim.

Cheering you on, Diana! Thank you.

- gae

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I went with the hot pink photo
in honor of Laura & Lisa's
Liar Society
Yeah, yeah, you were hoping I said undies (I do suppose I heart undies too...).

Speaking of indies with an I, the fabulous Lisa and Laura Roecker (authors of The Liar Society) have declared May 31st I <3 Indies Bookstore Day, and have asked those of us willing to give a quick blog shout out to our favorites.

I have a few. So, here goes:

First and foremost, there's the wonderful Book Revue, in Huntington, NY, a landmark of sorts in Huntington Village. The best of the best have been there, from Alice Hoffman to Elmore Leonard, from Bill Clinton, to -- ahem -- me. That's right, Book Revue was kind enough to host my Pull of Gravity launch party and you'd better believe I love them for it. 
Signing books, assisted by the lovely Anne Davidson of
Book Revue
Of course, there are a few other Indies I love and would be remiss if I didn't give them a shout out today, too.

The Strand Bookstore. The Strand is a definite NYC landmark on 12th Street and Broadway.

In my twenties, I lived in NYC and was probably inside the Strand at least twice a week.

The Strand is books. Walking in, you feel as though you've entered the belly of a book. It just smells, breathes, lives books.

Me, in the Strand Bookstore on 5/10/11
in front of the shelf bearing TPoG

As it is still primarily known for its used books, I was actually shocked and honored when they ordered TEN copies of The Pull of Gravity in, and, indeed, I chose the Strand as the place to spend the quiet

Stack of signed copies now residing in
the Strand.

morning of my actual book launch day signing a few copies and marvelling that I had, somehow, made it in there. . .

Books of Wonder. BOW was one of two magical Indies that hosted The Class of 2K11 in and about NYC
last week.

Books of Wonder is really just that: a bookstore
of wonder.

If you take a trip inside you'll see why. It is a beautiful, beautiful bookstore. There, we read to a packed house (they even ran out of chairs!).

My dear friend, Amy Fellner Dominy
author of OyMG, in front of the fabulous
display welcoming us on 5/25
The place is enchanting and I hear they have cupcakes to die for in the connected Cupcake Cafe. BOW is often voted the Best Bookstore in NYC, and, trust me on this, there's a very good reason why.

The Voracious Reader.

And, last but not least, if you happen up to Larchmont, you must stop in and meet the lovely Francine (and Rose!) of The Voracious Reader there.

Her bookstore is a beautiful, cozy haven for children, teens and grown-ups alike! And, soon it will include the addition of a tea shop.

Class of 2K11 books on display at Voracious Reader

From l -r: Alissa Gross, Amy Holder, me, Geoff Herbach and Angie Smibert
after our readings at Voracious Reader.
Tell me Herbach wouldn't look just spiffy in an apron
serving tea. :)
(Without permission) I have already promised her the assistance of Geoff Herbach (Stupid Fast) in an apron, because what better way to be served tea? 

And there you have it. A few of my favorite indies. I'd love you to share a few of yours!

- gae