Monday, May 28, 2007


Town House, originally uploaded by patryfrancis.

They call it a reading; and yeah, when we get together in New York tomorrow night, Tish Cohen and I are probably going to do some of that. But mostly, we're going to talk informally about life, writing, and friendship.

Lies (the downfall of my characters) and phobias (the torment of hers) may also come up.

If you've ever read anything Tish has written--from her fabulous new novel, Town House, to a blog post over at The Debutante Ball or even a laundry list, you have some idea just how funny and wise and all round wonderful she is.

When: May 29th, 7 p.m.

Where: Borders, Park Avenue, New York

Why: Talking to each other is fun, but tomorrow night Tish and I want to talk with you.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


"Hank", originally uploaded by patryfrancis.

It's mother's day, and it seems, I have a grandson. His name is Hank David Richard Francis after various family members, but you can just call him Hank.

I was nineteen when my first son was born, and so inexperienced that I didn't dare remove his sweater when I brought him home for fear that I'd break one of those twig-like arms. Sometimes it seems like a miracle that we both survived.

But one of my most closely guarded secrets is that even after four children, I still feel like that when I handle an infant. I can't resist a baby once they have weight and solidity and can laugh and play, but a fragile newborn? Were my own really THAT small?

I can no longer remember how to wrap a baby in a receiving blanket, and I was a total failure at getting Hank to burp, but I absolutly love talking to newly born humans. And for at least an hour, that's what I did. I talked to Hank.

emma's communion

I told him about all the things I hoped he and I would do together someday. I resurrected the old stories I'd made up for the other beloved children in my life. I pointed out the open fields and the the light came through the trees behind us, and the sound of the children whose play he would soon share, mingling with the river that runs behind his Uncle Josh's house.

And I wished for him a world that would always be as good and abundant and full of love as the one in which he found himself yesterday, blinking and beset with new hungers, but already listening. Already eager to hear and learn and know.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


a concrete block, originally uploaded by Ozyman.

I'd like to say I've been suffering from Blogger's Block, a real and serious condition worthy of capitalization, and maybe even a listing in Wiki. But unfortunately, I don't believe it exists.

Even its more famed and deadly cousin, Writer's Block, seems to me like a dressed-up name for fear. Or laziness. Or procrastination.

Or maybe it just means you really don't want to write at all. You want to think about writing--a much less taxing activity, that has never taken the life of a tree, or bored a single reader.

So no, I haven't had Blogger's Block. Instead, I've been conducting an unplanned (and highly successful!) experiment on the principle of Inertia.

So much of what I learned in grade school is lost forever, as I first learned when I tried to help my kids with their third grade math homework. Division of fractions? Huh? Did I ever do that? And how about diagramming a sentence? I'm sure there's a good reason to learn to do it, but I never knew what it was.

But I can still remember the morose Mrs. M. (who tippled in the paper closet,) teaching us that:
A body in motion remains in motion,
while a body at rest remains at rest
until acted upon by an outside force.

It has the kind of sing-song rhythm that made it memorable for those of us more inclined to poetry than science. If, say, the theory of relativity could have been encapsulated in a similarly catchy phrase, I might actually understand it.

But back to the scientific principle of Inertia. In life, it means something like 'if you don't begin your diet or your novel or your exercise program today, you're even less likely to begin it tomorrow...' And if you ignore your blog for five days or more, it soon becomes "a body at rest," stuck indefinitely on a poem about a bad mood.

Very interesting, no? I think it was Picasso who said that he painted every day because if he took a day off, he might never do it again.

There's a lesson in that, and now that I'm in motion again (I think), I just might take it.

Tomorrow: Changing Light