There’s an old I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel bet Ricky and Fred that they couldn’t manage without modern conveniences. Although the episode is really funny, I loved it for the actual doing of things, like baking bread and churning butter. I doubt I’d want to do that on a regular basis, but once in a while chores like that have a certain charm. Things take the time they take.
I love books that don’t feed me every tidbit of information but allow me to discover the meaning as I read. Or not. Some things I need to look up after. And that’s okay.
M. H. Boroson’s The Girl with Ghost Eyes is an urban fantasy that’s intriguing and serious, with magic and humor added to the mix. The many layers in this tale weave itself into a complicated tapestry that’s both old and new. Set in nineteenth-century San Francisco, it covers its history well regarding Chinese immigration and how women were treated. Add in magic (magic that doesn’t make those problems disappear) and it’s a fascinating story that doesn’t take the easy way out.
I live in New York City, a city bustling with five boroughs of different temperaments all merged together to form a ball of energy.
But when someone asked me recently for the name of a good local restaurant, I paused. “I guess when I’m in my neighborhood, I just go home and cook.”
It’s when friends and family from out of town come to visit that I see my city through different eyes. I take them to my favorite spots and we explore places I’d always meant to go to but never did.
Tourist attractions with a guest are a completely different experience. I’m having too much fun looking through my guests’ eyes to pay attention to the fact that it’s, you know, a tourist attraction.
But yes, I know I live in a city where there are hundreds of thousands of places to see. What if I didn’t? I once lived in a small (well, small to me) city, population: 50,000. They had landmark signs tucked along the roads that I loved to follow. The locals no longer paid attention in the same way I no longer pay attention to the Statue of Liberty. And I loved those landmark signs and what they depicted.
So, go on! Invite someone from out of town and let them show you the sights. They’ll show you a place filled with detail and life. And in the process, your writing will light up with rich description and what ifs and—dare I say it? Magic.
In Natalie Goldberg’s essay “Emergency Case,” from her book Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, she arranged a time and place to meet a friend to write but didn’t want to know if her friend was going to show up. The point was, she herself would be there and writing. This essay stuck in my head for so long, I decided to do it with a twist.
Let’s meet at the Invisible Café for one hour and write. If you can’t make it, don’t tell me, I’ll be there and writing. I think Wednesdays are good but feel free to schedule another day. Time? I’m thinking 10 am this week. If you get there a little early (or late), that’s fine.
Where is it? It’s wherever you are. Can’t make that hour? Just try to make it that day, there will be writers flowing in and out at all hours. The chairs and couches are comfy (the chairs come in a wide range of styles) and the lighting is perfect. There’s only the barest hum of outside traffic and the waitstaff are patient and encouraging with their smiles as they serve you. (Don’t forget to tip nicely, they work hard.)
They’re open twenty-four hours a day. The ambiance at night is just as comfortable, but there’s also a spark of energy among the others sitting there that prevents me from falling asleep.
The important thing is that we’re meeting to write, surrounded by fellow writers.
Oh, and try the croissants.