Friday, September 30, 2011


Skunks have invaded my upper Manhattan neighborhood and I love it.  If you are out at night up here and the moon is high and you are returning from the Associated with organic milk at 9:00 for the kids' breakfast in the morning, you might see one or two skulking about between parked cars or through the co-op on the corner's bushes.

Photo by fieldsbh

They are totally cute.  Because of the Wild Kratts, I know that they are related (cousins, actually) of the weasel and badger.

When we got to the subway elevator (yes, I live in a magical land!) it smelled of: Skunk.  And the kids and I loved it and it kind of made my day and the attendant smiled and said,  "yeah they were in here."

I love skunks.  I love the smell of skunk and also the smell of gasoline.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Freaking Fire!

"Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire."
 -- Arnold H. Glasow


My Day
At 7:30 a.m. I drag the 5 year old to the kindergarten at the highest point in Manhattan and then drag the little one to his daycare at the bottom of the hill and I go half way back up a kind of hill and wait for the BX7 bus.  On the bus I try and get a seat, the solo kind in the front, and check my email on my iphone. 30 minutes later (around 8:30a.m.) I wind up at this cafe in Inwood which is like any awesome cafe in Brooklyn but closer to where I live. 

I go to the bathroom and put lipstick on.
I get a coffee, sometimes with a little cow.

Sometimes not.

I find a table either by the window or in the corner by the kitchen.
I take a picture of my coffee and tweet it.
I open up my Macintosh device collection of iphone, ipod touch, and the laptop that will not die.
I find a good station on Pandora- Lou Reed or David Bowie (they fit this book best so far).

I ass around for half an hour.
Then I meditate a bit.
Then I write.
Three hours later I pack up, and take the bus home.
I make dinner at 3pm or so.
Pick up the kids at 4:30/5:00.


Voila!  This is my life!

And I love it but whoa. I left a LOT out (laundry, reading series curating, bathing, yoga, sleep, laundry laundry laundry, lunch with agent, readings, blogging, facebook, mom dad, Wild Kratts, Halloween costume planning, soccer, NCTE planning, John Green meeting nerves, haircut, hair dye, pedicure, finding the one umbrella that isn't broken that is in the way back of the closet and then it didn't even rain this morning, Big Bird doll for the baby or he won't take a nap at day care, gluten free cooking for fun and profit.  I could go on but I don't want to BORE you...)

Why not follow me on twitter?  @ArlainaT

New look for blog soon.


Friday, September 23, 2011

And now a word about Scotland...

My husband is from Scotland and I love it there.  I also love how much the Scots love books and reading.  My father in law reads about 5 newspapers a day and their libraries are busy and not because homeless people are living in them, either.  My mother in law is a huge murder-mystery fan and my brother-in-law reads a book a day practically.  My husband?  Well, is a political/history of whiskey/cultural criticism of the health care system for 10 minutes before bed type of guy. At least he's reading! 

Here is a smashing photo of my handsome brother in law reading And Then Things Fall Apart on the glistening greens of St. Andrews.  Thanks to him and my other family there, my sales numbers show a spike in Scotland.  

This a short list of my favorite Scottish writers:

J.K. Rowling
Iain Banks
Irvine Welsh
Ali Smith
James Kelman
Robert Louis Stevenson
Ian Rankin
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Alasdair Grey
A.L. Kennedy
Muriel Spark
Alan Warner (The Sopranos and Morvern Callar)

But what I'm getting at here is that the Scots seem to still be in a passionate love affair with books.  Events as the Edinburgh Book Festival SELL OUT.  There's like, people scalping tickets to see some woman in glasses talk about her BOOK for half an hour. And then there was some artist leaving mysterious book sculptures in libraries, little gifts that said "I love you, books," all over Edinburgh.

I'm still waiting for this kind of thing at my local library, which I am slowly, despite the lack of mysterious book sculptures, falling in love with all over again.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Hey there.  So my real life grandma is 88 years old.  My other real life grandma is 90.  I did some kind of weird Frankenstein monster sewing up of the best and weirdest parts of both of them and added a lot of made up stuff to create the Gram character in And Then Things Fall Apart.

I am terribly lucky to have both my grandmothers alive and relatively healthy.  But one of them (the brunette) fell and broke her leg last week and it's freaking me out.  Distracting me really.  I'm not near her and can't visit really and am just thinking about the meaning of life, and time, and death and all kinds of other cheery things that are totally depressing me. She's OK- however OK an 88 year old woman with a broken and pinned together thigh can be.

SIGH SIGH SIGH it's all I'm doing lately.

Booklist had a little heart attack of love over And Then Things Fall Apart which is insanely good news. They even liked Keek's poetry. Shocking, I know!  And I have some awesome and rabid Keek fans out there who have made themselves known to me through the magic of the internet.  Which is also good news. (MWAH! You know who you are...)

I'm going to a fancy conference in November with the loves of my life, English Teachers, and I'm planning not one but two birthday parties for those lovable and scrappy tykes of mine. And oh I'm supposed to be writing a book and I kind of am but not in the way I would like.  But I'm doing it in a fashion... and will sputter along until it clunks into my brain properly and then writes itself.

And here we are. Fall is upon us, pumpkin spiced lattes are on offer at various latte bars around the city and school is in full swing.  My 4.75 year old loves to play chess (!) on my iphone (?!) after school, when his homework is complete (?!).  SIGH SIGH SIGH!  The other one says please and thank you and fits into a spiffy pair of flannel pyjamas from Scotland.

So below is a sensational little book trailer for And Then Things Fall Apart  that someone other than me made.  I came upon it quite on accident and I think it is totally cool!  I might try and make one myself on animoto.  Or maybe on imovie, or I dunno.  I didn't think I needed one but I think it might me kind of fun to actually make one!  And I will do anything except write a new book so.  There was some acclaimed writer of note whose name I don't remember who famously outfitted his writing chair with a seatbelt and would STRAP HIMSELF IN to write.  It's not that I don't love writing. Oh- we are in love, writing and I- it's just--- well.  Stay tuned...

And remember: A man a plan a canal, Panama!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Evidence That I am the Geekiest Girl in the World

I love stamps, OK.

I'm like, INTO them and if I were a little different I would collect them.  I would store them in elaborate leather bound albums that I would occasionally drag out of cold storage only to gaze at each frame adoringly through a magnifying glass with a mother-of-pearl handle. I'm one of those annoying people in front of you at the post office who ask the desk clerk --"got anything interesting back there?" while you are late for work and just need a money order to pay your landlord since your checks ran out.  I still swoon over the effing GRETA GARBO stamps from a few years back, the Ronald Reagan stamps that my ultra-liberal pals used as postage on their annual holiday newsletter, the Marilyn Monroe and Elvis stamps that have never been separated from each other and nestle like lovers in glassine envelopes in my office drawer.

I don't use the "good stamps"  (yes there's good stamps and so-so stamps and bad stamps- I'm looking at you, "forever" liberty bell) to post the cable and electric bill.  You know I like you if you get oversized artsy stamps or better yet, an eclectic mix of squash blossom 1 centers, GRETA GARBO,  Tito Puente and whatever else tickled my fancy that morning- an insane collection of geekdom in the upper right hand corner.

So, dear reader, imagine my surprise and delight to learn about my beloved and beleaguered US Postal Service's latest offering (er for next year, if they are still in business):

And yes of course, Sylvia's included, much to my delight.  And Cummings,  Brooks, Bishop, and Levertov!  Of course, the USPS adores writers- we spend millions of dollars a year on postage of manuscripts, blog giveaways,  editor gifts, bookmark peddling, agent love letters and etc.  I'm there at least four times a month and each time EVERY TIME I spend 40 bucks a pop on fancy stamps I don't really need... because I have a serious stamp problem and when I say problem I'm not kidding.

But I can't support the whole operation alone, people.  Go.  Write a letter.  Send your mom a gift, why not send every 5 year old you know a Good Luck in Kindergarten card?  Your post office NEEDS you!

I'm going there tomorrow.   Can I get you anything?