2006: I turn 49

For the past few years and for a few more to come, I don’t remember what music I was listening to, and I wonder why that is. I’m sure Dave Matthews still, and Jackson Browne always. James Taylor always. And the Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over. Sting’s Mercury Falling I will add to 1996 and 1997. Still, for the most part, during these years there’s no particular song or album associated with a particular year.


2006: I will read 48 books this year–a reread of Madame Bovary topping the list. Bobby is the star of the school musical Li’l Abner. On May 14th, the last episode of The West Wing airs, and afterwards we rent more DVDs from Netflix. (I now remember the Friday visits to Blockbuster when the kids were little.) Bobby graduates, and in the fall, we’ll take him to St. Andrews. I return to the New York State Summer Writers Institute, again in Mary Gordon and Marilynne Robinson’s workshop. Adam Braver reads my entire manuscript. I know I’ve already been to a summer workshop, but when I read this description of the class and add to it that scrap of paper from 1992, I use all of my resources to make the second workshop happen. We will focus on what I believe to be the real artistry of fiction: the translation of the emotional stakes of the story onto the physical landscape… We will be aiming for stories in which the language is always working in at least two ways at once, where metaphors dance between meanings like beads of water on a too-hot grill. In August, I go to Provincetown for the first time to take a workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center with Pam Houston.

11 days to 60


She sees that she has before her an important task: to understand that all the things that happened in her life happened to her. That she is the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, and now she is old. That there is some line running through her body like a wick.
Mary Gordon, The Rest of Life


4 thoughts on “2006: I turn 49

  1. Ha. That scrap of paper is a moment I always remembered, but it’s linked now to that first workshop with Pam rather than the year it happened. Memory is fascinating. It was such fun to tell Pam about it too.

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  2. Oh, that quote from Pam Houston is just wonderful.

    I’m impressed by how much music you DO remember. Maybe as writing took more root, you were listening more to your own thoughts and the storylines unraveling in your brain, and that’s why you don’t remember music so much during this time?

    I miss renting videos. It felt like an occasion not entirely unlike going to the movie theater. Sigh.

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  3. I think as music became less albums and CDs and more something else, there was no visual to lock in a memory…

    Those Friday after school trips to Blockbuster always seemed to add sparkle to the weekend. Everybody had something to look forward to.

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