And now, with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe and to those
who have read this before, a poem I wrote several years ago ...
"THE RAVING" A Mother's Chilling Post-Holiday Tale By Ellen Meister
Once upon an evening dreary, while I toiled, weak and weary Over many a desperate dirty dishrag and forgotten chore, While I leaned down limply lugging toys from off the carpet rugging Suddenly there came a tugging, tugging at the skirt I wore. "'Tis some little kid," I muttered, smoothing out the skirt I wore, "Only this and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December, Action dolls not yet dismembered lay across the playroom floor. Each new toy was still unbroken, yet the child still was pokin' And the only word there spoken was the whining more, "S'more." This he whispered then his sister murmured back the word, "S'more." Only this they did implore.
Then the silly, sad, incessant clangor of the season's presents Chilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now to still the beating of my heart I stood repeating, "Darling children, I am pleading, let's return some to the store-- Darling children, I'm entreating, let us give some to the poor." Still they said, "We want s'more."
"You still want more?" I blurted feeling slightly dizzy, my head reeling, "Get thee back into the playroom where your playthings line the floor! Go before I need to yank you! Go before I want to spank you! Leave my kitchen and I'll thank you not to ask for any more. Take thy sighs from out my sight and thy form from off my door!" Quoth the child, "I want more."
And the child, so demanding, still is standing, still is standing Near a portion of my pantry just beside the kitchen door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming Sights of toys and trinkets gleaming on the shelves of every store. Unaffected with respect to his demands for even more, Quoth I, the mother, "Never more!
Didn't post last Friday because it was just too crazy here. Emma turned 12 and had a sleepover party. I learned that 6th grade girls have as much to say to each other at 2 am as they do at any other time of day.
In other news ...
• Had Mike's family over for latkes last weekend. Next year I'll try to invite the rest of you. False modesty aside, everyone should experience my latkes at least once.
• Health issues plaguing one of my darlings continue to be a problem. I'm filled with fury and curse God daily. That's no joke. Still, I don't know how to live without focusing on hope, so that's what I do.
• I do manage to work and write, and I think that's going okay. As I've mentioned before, it's a big, high concept idea, so I need to keep it under wraps for now.
Just some random thoughts on small things that perplex me ...
• Sourdough bread - If I'm not in the mood for something as simple and delicious as bread, I'll have something else that tastes good, not bread that tastes bad.
• Adam Sandler - Am I missing the clever? In my world, saying silly things in a baby voice is the opposite of funny. But it must be a generational thing, because perfectly reasonable people I know who are a decade or so younger than me think he's hilarious.
• Juicy Couture - I suppose there are people who will be impressed that you spent $158 on a little girl's hoodie. Don't count me among them.
• Men who wax - I support a man's desire to be as metrosexual as he pleases out there in the big, bad world. But in my bed, where there's only room for one girly type, body hair=masculine and vanity=feminine. I'll take my man hairy and unselfconscious, please. • Dental bling - I'm still trying to figure this one out. I guess nose-piercing isn't ugly enough?
• "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" - I'm not alone here, right? I have to assume that anyone who's smart enough to put on their own pants doesn't find this song amusing.
• Hummers - The automobile. What did you think I meant?
• Mad Men - I'm as enamored of the golden age of advertising as I am fascinated by the cultural differences between the 1960s and our PC times. So I should love this show. Indeed, I want to love this show. But it's so underwritten I feel like whacking the writers over the head with a rolled up script. Damn it, people, it's your job to decide how the characters feel. Otherwise you just leave the actors standing there looking inscrutable, which is not a substitute for writing.
• White Chocolate - This is not chocolate. This is what's left over when you extract the chocolate from chocolate. It's kind of like selling sugar water and marketing it as clear orange juice.
• Most important update this week is that my kid who had been ill is stabilized and feeling 100% better. Hooray for appetite!
• Met with my agents on Monday to pitch a new idea I have for a novel. It's something I'm very excited about and was hoping they would catch the fever. Good news--they did! They loved it for all the right reasons and had some insightful comments that really help me focus. So I put The Cousins' Club on the backburner for now to work on this new one. I won't be talking about the idea until (unless?) it's sold, because it's very high concept. I'm not usually paranoid about getting ripped off, but this feels like a very marketable idea. In fact, I feel a little rushed--like if I don't do it soon, someone else will beat me to it. So ... I'm off and running. • My pal Michael Palmer, bestselling author of medical thrillers, just got a fabulous early review from Booklist on his forthcoming novel, THE LAST SURGEON (St. Martin's Press/Feb. 2010). I was thrilled to see this because I read an early copy of the book and loved it. You can read the review here.
• Another kid home today with a sore throat. Feel better, schmoo-schmoo!
• What I'm reading right now: THE BLUE ZONE by Andrew Gross. It's not new but it's a wow. Utterly gripping. I love the way this guy writes.
• My brother, Stephen Meister, continues to feel the love on Fox:
Wendy Nelson Tokunaga has done it again, delivering a wonderful novel exploring issues of love while examining what it means to be a stranger in strange land. Her latest is the critically-acclaimed LOVE IN TRANSLATION.
Here's the press release summary of the intriguing story:
For anyone who’s ever dreamt of finding love and family in an unexpected place...
After receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysterious family heirlooms, 33-year-old fledgling singer Celeste Duncan is off to Japan to search for a long, lost relative who could hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. Once there she stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems—a land with an inexplicable fascination with foreigners, karaoke boxes, and unbearably perky TV stars.
With little knowledge of Japanese, Celeste finds a friend in her English-speaking homestay brother, Takuya, and comes to depend on him for all variety of translation, travel and investigatory needs. As they cross the country following a trail after Celeste's relatives, she discovers she's developing "more-than-sisterly" feelings for him, although his mother seems to have other plans for her son. But it is when Celeste learns a Japanese song called “The Wishing Star” that things begin to change for her in ways she never expected, leading her to ask, what is the true meaning of family? And what does it mean to discover your own voice?
Sounds great doesn't it? No wonder bestselling author Michelle Richmond said, “A delightful novel about love, identity, and what it means to be adrift in a strange land. This story of a search has an Alice in Wonderland vibe; when Celeste climbs down the rabbit hole, one can't help but follow along.”
Wendy was good enough to answer my interview questions. Check it out:
Love in Translation is my cockeyed valentine to Japan, which is a place I’ve both loved and loathed, a place that has fueled both fascination and frustration. And it is also a place that has had a huge impact on my life and writing. I also wanted to explore what it means to be a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan and the benefits and downsides of that status and what happens when a gaijin sings in Japanese. I also am fascinated by the concept of the homestay, (something I never experienced), and how that would impact someone as an adult who grew up in foster homes and who never experienced a real family.
Is there a story behind the title of this book?
The original title I was using was “Wishing on a Kira-Kira Star.” Kira-kira means “shining” or “twinkling” in Japanese. I knew my editor probably wouldn’t want to stick with this title and she didn’t. And that was fine with me as I wasn’t too attached to it, but I couldn’t think of an alternative. Then she came up with “Love in Translation,” which I really like. Obviously it’s a play on the title of that great movie “Lost in Translation,” but it also evokes several other meanings that I think tie in nicely with the book. I’m very pleased with the way things turned out.
You have such a beautiful cover. Did you have any input it, and are you happy with the finished product?
I had no input on the cover, but I couldn’t be more pleased with it. And it’s so different from the cover of my first book, “Midori by Moonlight,” which had a cartoon character and a glossy finish. “Love in Translation” has a matte cover and an illustration that looks more like a photograph. And I just love the scenery of Tokyo in the backdrop. My hat is off to the designer, Olga Grlic.
What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?
That when I was growing up my ambition was to be a rock star, not a writer.
What are you reading now?
“Juliet, Naked” by Nick Hornby. Other books on my TBR list are: “The Tricking of Freya” by Christina Sunley, “Americans in Space” by Mary E. Mitchell and “How to Buy a Love of Reading” by Tanya Egan Gibson.