Thursday, August 26, 2010

Away in Vermont

I am sitting at a very old, very beautiful dining room table in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont half-listening to a story on NPR about butterflies. Someone has figured out a way to tag and track butterflies, the same way they tag eagles or sharks, but I didn’t hear all the details of the story—the how the do the tagging, and what the tag physically is—because I am working on some new writing projects which I came here to hopefully finish, and those are taking most of my attention. Some of the butterflies which were tagged in Vermont ended up at the Connecticut shore. Some of them ended up in Mexico, where they usually go for the winter months. To me this made the butterflies sound like retirees.

Moments ago, the 21 year-old son of the friends that I am staying with came into the kitchen to tell his father, my host whose dinner table I am sitting at, what kind of noises that his car is making. “Angry grinding noises,” he says, and then he makes the noise for all of us—a loud, angry grinding sound which makes all of us laugh. This is a perfect moment, and it rivals the joy of feeding the forty chickens in the backyard, which I did this morning. “I’m not good at laundry,” the kid says, when he is asked to help. “I am good at my own, but I always mess up if I have to do someone else’s.”

My novel will be released on Tuesday. So I am here for a few days of brain rest and rejuvenation before that experience begins. I have no idea what to expect, but I am expecting to feel a lot, to have a lot of reactions. And I want to be in the kind of mental place where I can take it all in. I was reading an article in Vanity Fair about Angelina Jolie by Rich Cohen who wrote: “I noticed everything…as you notice everything in a video game: because who knows what you’ll need, what will mean your advancement, what will be your demise.” I realize when I read this that this is why I have come to Vermont: to ready my brain like September is a video game. I’m doing a lot of events.

On the way up here, I stopped to get gas at the same exit where I was in March of 2009 when my agent called to tell me that someone was about to make an offer on the novel. I figured it was a lucky place, so I bought four scratch-off lottery tickets. The lady who sold them to me asked me which kind I wanted, and she pointed to the big acrylic case where all the rolls of tickets were held. “Red?” she asked. “These red ones are the most popular.” This is when I became suspicious of her motives, perhaps wrongly-so, because I went against her recommendation and bought the blue kind—Sparkling Diamonds—and ended up not winning. Four dollars, goodbye. Oh well. I still win: my novel comes out on Tuesday.

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