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May 2011

The Boy Reads The Book

Unknown The Boy returned home after college graduation yesterday. Now that he has some down time from academia, he has a stack of books he wants to read. So  I was immensely flattered - and just a little nervous - when he said the first thing on his list was my book. Over the years, I have read The Boy passages, run quotes by him, talked about ideas or chapter concepts, etc. But he has not actually read it. (Actually, only a handful of people have. After all, it is still in manuscript form.)

Last night I printed out several chapters. He says he liked the Introduction and Chapter One.  When I went to bed I handed him Chapters 2 and 3. The book is not about him, of course, it's about mother-son relationships in a more general sense. It features interviews with dozens of moms and sons. But of course he is in it, and the whole concept sprang from our relationship, so naturally, I am anxious to get his reaction.

In other news, graduation was beautiful, and The Baby is still biding its time and has yet to make his/her entrance into the world.

The Boy's Graduation

Images Friday is usually "Mother-Son Quote of The Week" but today I am heading to The Boy's college graduation, so I must break with tradition. Graduation day itself is Sunday, but there is a weekend of festivities around commencement. 

So many mixed emotions! First, I know I will cry the moment I hear the first bars of "Pomp and Circumstance" play. I will probably cry when I see The Boy walk across the stage and get his diploma. I have already cried twice this week. Once was when I was in the car and the song "I Got You Babe" came on the radio. This is the song that was playing in the operating room (he was a c-section) the minute The Boy was born. I also cried when The Boy called yesterday to tell me he had just taken his last college class, and then recalled "the duck bus" that used to pick him up for kindergarten. (In our district, the kindergartners had half days, and the mini-busses that did the transport were named for farm animals.) 7

The Boy does have a job (do I hear cries of joy?) - more on that later - but happily for me, he will be home for some time this summer before it starts. Meanwhile, on Baby Watch, I would now prefer the baby to wait until Sunday to make his/her arrival, but I suspect the little one is on its own time table. And I will try to refrain to using phrases like "in the blink of an eye" with my niece, because if all goes well, in a short 21 years, she too, will be watching her baby graduate. 

Where's That Baby?

Images The whole family is in full-fledged Baby Watch mode. My poor niece keeps answering the phone/email/texts/g-chats, etc. saying, "No, not yet." We're not trying to bug her - we are just so excited.  This is the first baby of the next generation. Compounding the excitement is that the parents-to-be have done it the old fashion way - we don't know what the baby's sex is, and we don't know what names they are considering. (Withholding the names is a smart move on the part of my niece, because in this family, we would all be weighing in with our opinions and trying to influence the outcome.) 

One very nice side-effect of Baby Watch is that my own kids  now return my calls promptly. "Mom - you just called. Is the baby here?" Of course, once I admit I am just calling to say hi, they very politely tell me they are in the middle of something. But never mind - it's all good.

Needless to say, I am in a lull period with the book. Just some back and forth with the publisher's lawyers about release forms from the folks I've quoted. (Most moms are referred to just by first name, or the names have been changed, so they don't need to sign them.) 

Hey, speaking of names, I wonder what the baby will be called. And when he/she is arriving.  It's warm and sunny today - a pretty day to enter the world. 

Uh Oh - Gun Fun

Target This weekend, I went to a party at a private club that offered an unusual party game - a turn at a rifle range, which was located in the basement of this New York City establishment in Greenwich Village. When I heard there would be guns, I was not enthusiastic. I hadn't even held a gun since I took riflery at summer camp as a child.

But I went along with it, and a funny thing happened when I had that gun in my hand. It felt great. There was an instructor there, who explained how to hold the rifle, how to use the scope, how to pull the trigger, slowly and gently. But gentle or not, the feeling of the bullets leaving that 22 was powerful. I picked this target on the left of a menacing looking guy. If you look carefully, you can see I plugged him in the eye, ear, chin, and smack in the middle of his gun. On my first try.

I do not want to own a gun, let alone have one sitting around the house. I know that I am much more likely to be killed by my own gun than ever use it to protect myself. And it's one thing taking pride in some small, well-placed holes on a piece of paper, and another to think about shooting a human being. But for a few minutes there, I sure felt the power.

Mother-Son Quote of The Week

Images "A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us; when troubles thicken around us, still she will cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness and cause peace to return to our hearts."

-Washington Irving

Taking Notes on Public Speaking

Man-giving-speech-3 At some point I will be called upon to talk about my book. It could be to three people - probably friends - who show up at some self-arranged book signing. Or - in my wildest dreams - it could be on a national TV show with an enormous audience where I sit and chat with the host. More likely there will be events in between - where I'm addressing multiple smaller groups.

In any case, I sure hope I know what I'm doing. Last night I was at an event, and the keynote speaker was dreadful. The only part of his speech I remember came in the opening remarks, and that was only memorable because it was a man thanking his mother, a topic that I am obviously  highly attuned to these days. But he droned on and on, reading his prepared remarks, never looking up, never changing his tone or register, and never noticing that as the speech dragged on, more and more folks in the audience were pulling out their blackberries and iPhones to check their messages, and in the case of one gentleman at my table, to play a round of "Angry Birds."

Cautionary tale. Know your audience and what they want. Stay animated. Be aware if you have lost them and readjust your comments.

I am really angry at this guy this morning, because dessert was served during his speech, and it was three different kinds of cakes on one plate. Normally, I would have just eaten one, but out of sheer boredom I plowed through all three of them. I feel bloated this morning. Clearly I bear no responsibility for my own eating - it is all the fault of The Bad Public Speaker.

My Other Self

Images Due to a technical glitch, every time I go to the gym, I am "Rob Hallwell." I have a coded membership card which I swipe, and for some reason this fellow's photo and profile pops up. They have readjusted the code twice, and can't seem to fix this issue. The only solution appears to be giving me a new card altogether, but I was running late yesterday, so didn't want to deal with it.

Anyway, I hope Rob enjoyed his workout on the elliptical machine, and the sit ups and light weights we did afterwards. Today we are going to Pilates. Meanwhile, I wonder if he is signing in as me, and what he has me doing. I sure hope he's burning up a lot of calories on my behalf.

A World Away

The Adirondacks are in New York State, but sometimes they feel a world away from Westchester, let alone Manhattan. This weekend The Weatherman and I were up in Long Lake, where it was cool and rainy. But - big excitement - we made a purchase we have been mulling for more than a year: two kayaks! Sunday wasn't exactly boating weather, but just walking around got us inspired to get on the water. Check out these scenes:

Pretty church in mist
Woods and water horizontal

Book Cover!

Images Yesterday there was an express mail envelope from my publisher sitting at my front step. Inside was a mock-up of the book cover, pasted on cardboard. Oh, I wish I could show it to you. It is a thing of great beauty! And of course it is such tangible proof - this book is really going to happen. 

It's a bold color scheme - orange and blue. And there in big letters: The Mama's Boy Myth. The subtitle: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger.

I feel like this project has had the gestation period of an elephant times three. I'm looking at the cover and still the book won't be out until winter. But I must be patient, because obviously the process is chugging along.

Finished - Round Two!

Images-1 Yesterday I sent in my revised manuscript. I spent five weeks making the changes the editor requested. When I edit, I use "track changes" so I can see what I've added and what I've cut. You should see this thing - it is a sea of red, especially in the final two chapters. I do think the book has gotten a lot stronger and I hope my editor agrees. Images

I am really exhausted and honestly don't think I could have looked at that manuscript for one more minute. I need a break. Don't know how long I will get before the next step, at which point I assume the editor sends it back with her feedback on the latest revisions. 

Meanwhile last night I attended the book signing of another author who just published a book on boy's friendships. I interviewed her for my book and she interviewed me for hers. It was a large gathering and as I watched her read from the podium, I was imagining being in her place by next winter.

Wait....Still One More Interview

Images Last week I blogged that I had one final interview to complete before finishing my book revisions. I spoke too soon. On Friday I got an email from the author of a study I refer to in the book, and she said  she would be glad to chat with me about her work. Anytime you can get a professor to talk about their research instead of just using their statistics is helpful - it makes not only for a richer understanding of the material, but also generates good quotes.

The fun thing about writing on mothers and sons is the variety of folks I get to talk to. Today's interview is with a woman who studied marriage patterns. The part of her research I'm interested in is the extent to which men marry women like their mothers. Last week, I got to talk to the mother of an NFL quarterback.

And next week I will be done with revisions. In fact, once I shoehorn in this woman's quotes today, I expect to send in the revised manuscript. Stay tuned....

New Title!

Images Hooray! We have a new book title! My original title was "Oedipus Wrecks." I thought this was clever but my agent, and more important, my publisher, didn't like it too much. You might think that an author can title her own book, but no, the title is in the hands of the publisher, and evidently it has much to do with the marketing plan.

After they rejected "Oedipus Wrecks" the publisher came back with "Mothers and Sons." This didn't do much for me - it seems a bit blah, and didn't tell you much about what the book was about. The subtitle was: "Strengthening the Ties, Defending the Bond." Eh. I expressed my lack of enthusiasm for this one and my editor and I agreed to brain storm for better ideas.

I was working on the revisions when I came to one of my chapter titles - "The Mama's Boy Myth." It suddenly struck me that this would be a great title. I ran it by my editor who ran it by the sales team who loved it. So, a new title is born. "The Mama's Boy Myth" it will be! Now, we are working on subtitles. I like, "Keeping Our Sons Close, Raising Healthy Men." But stay tuned....


Food Fax

Fax-machine This is a million dollar idea. Can someone please invent the Food Fax? On Sunday I hosted a birthday party for my Dad. As usual I had way too much food, so there were plenty of left overs. Food rarely goes wasted in this house, and what remained of the chicken, burgers, potato salad, baked beans, guacamole, chocolate cake, ETC, was parceled out to various family members in attendance. I was particularly happy to send My Daughter off with some goodies to bring back to her apartment in Brooklyn. Images-1

But I wish I could have shared some of the feast with The Boy, who is finishing up his last semester of college. Thus my idea of the Food Fax. Just dial the number, feed in the fried chicken, and voila! It arrives, ready to eat.

Images This idea has endless possibilities. For starters, you arrange with fellow cooks to coordinate on the meals. I could make all the lamb chops, another friend could prepare lots of asparagus, still another a nice rice dish, and then you just fax your part to your friends, and everyone has a nice, balanced meal. 

If those IBM geniuses could invent Watson, do you think they could come up with FoodFax?


Why Don't I Feel Like Celebrating?


 Of course I'm glad they caught - and killed - Osama bin Laden. And I'm glad they got him before the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. But I can not relate to the jubilant crowds dancing in the streets with happiness and excitement. To me, it is  reminiscent of the people who supported bin Laden and cheered and danced when the towers came down. Global terrorism is not a sporting event.

I see Osama's death as a day of remembrance for the people who died on September 11, and in the other attacks that he masterminded. It's a sober day, not a day of gleeful vengeance.