If any of you have come to one of my bookstore events, you’ve probably heard the story of my wedding dress. I won’t give the whole thing right now, but the general idea is that it is a magical dress that not only conforms to the wearer-whatever her shape-but also transforms her and connects her to the women, before and after, who have worn it. Does this sound familiar at all?I wore it when I got married 14 years ago. Then my sister-in-law Kirsten wore it when she married my older brother. Then my sister-in-law Katrina wore it when she married my younger brother. Then by my life-long friend Beth wore it at her wedding. Now my youngest brother Ben is getting married and there was some suspense as to whether his fiance, Kate, would wear it. Well, guess what? She’s wearing it. (I didn’t pressure her, I swear).
Kate emailed me a couple of days ago to say that a woman (I think a co-worker) asked her what she was wearing to her wedding. Kate explained the great history of The Wedding Dress and all of its wearers. The co-worker said, “That’s just like the Traveling Pants.” And Kate explained that, in fact, I, her sister-in-law to be was not only the originator of the dress, but also wrote the Traveling Pants. According to Kate, the woman was “gobsmacked.” I love that expression, but do not feel entitled to use it in regular speech, because I am not British. Kate is British, so it sounds just right from her.
Well, I think Warner Brothers is really making a sequel to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie. I think this because my phone rang from a place called Sisterhood, Inc. I was quite confused until the very nice woman on the other end told me she was calling from the production office of the new movie. “Does that mean it’s really happening?” I asked. She laughed at me. In a kind way. They start shooting in less than two weeks.
It turns out the prop guy wants to call my husband about using his paintings (or maybe his students’ paintings) for the scenes of Lena in art school. How about that? I think it shows good taste on their part. Which brings me to the spousal plug: you can see my husband’s beautiful paintings on his website Jacobcollinspaintings.com. I’m so subtle
My brother is a lawyer. (One of my brothers. I’ve got three in total.) His job is intense and he works really, really hard. He works for a firm here in NYC and his area of specialty is called Private Equity. I throw this term about with the slight fear that someone will ever ask me what it means. Recently my brother was coming up for partner in his firm, and when he made it, I congratulated him. I was excited for him not only because he’s such a dern bigshot, but because I thought it meant he would get a break. I figured he’d paid his dues and now he’d get to hang out more with his family and play hockey. (He loves hockey.)
My brother explained, though, that that’s not quite how it works. Apparently there is a oft-quoted analogy among lawyers involving pie: Becoming a partner is like winning a pie-eating contest, and the reward for it is . . . more pie.
This got me thinking about pie, which I love, and winning in general, which I admit I also like. I think it’s also true of my job-and probably most jobs-that the reward for success is getting to do more of what you already do. The better I do at writing the more writing I get to do. Which is a lucky thing because I love to write. (Except for the times when I hate it.) If I liked winning more than I liked writing, then the winning would be hollow indeed. As would be the writing, I suppose.
So my thought for the day is this: whatever contest we enter, we should do it not because we love winning, but because we love pie.
I should add that my brother is funny and nice and a great lawyer, so if you are ever having trouble with your, er, Private Equity, you should give him a call.
I had an insight about our dog, Finny. (His actual name is Phinneas. That sounds very fancy, doesn’t it?) Finny does not quite consider me his mother or even his owner. Though well-meaning and sweet, he doesn’t listen to a thing I say. He drags me around by his leash when we take a so-called walk. In the Finny hierarchy, my husband, Jacob, is alone at the top and the rest of us are down here duking it out.
A couple of days ago, my husband came home from a trip. He reached out to hug me hello, and Finny jumped up right between us, put his paws on Jacob’s shoulders, and attempted to stick his tongue in Jacob’s mouth. Meanwhile I stumbled backward, recognizing that in my marriage, Finny is the other woman.
When Jacob goes to bed first, Finny lies next to him in my spot with the covers up to his shoulders. When Jacob drives, Finny likes to sit proudly in the front passenger seat. I picture the two of them motoring off together in a convertible-Finny’s ears tied back in a flowered kerchief. Finny is attentive and loyal, desiring only the glory of Jacob’s presence. His goodbyes are sorrowful. His greetings are ecstatic. In so many ways, he is the perfect wife.
It’s not that Finny doesn’t love me too. When Jacob’s not around he gives me commiserating looks, like we’re two girls left in the harem.
And when it’s time for dinner and then dish-washing, Finny knows who the sucker is. For that one hour of the day he loves me first and best.
I am kind of excited because this is my first blog entry. I don’t know if anyone will actually read it, but it is fun to sit here and write it.
To begin with I am a writer. I live in New York City with my husband and my three kids and a large sweet dog named Finny, and a hamster named Moonbeam, who bites. The first book I wrote was called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. My newest book is featured on my profile. It’s called The Last Summer (of You and Me) and it will be published on June 5. My main hobbies are running and eating, which sort of cancel each other out. I don’t have a TV and I don’t have a drivers license. That makes me kind of odd, I know. And very unsuccessful in carpools and pop culture trivia quizzes. I do have a movie projector.
I love to read. I guess that’s not shocking. The most recent book I read was called Lonesome Dove, the hugely great and famous novel by Larry McMurtry. It was amazing and I loved it. Now I go around saying “dern” a lot-as in “put your dern cereal bowl in the dern sink.” Also, I have fallen in love with Gus McCrae. I miss him when I’m not reading about him. My husband might be jealous except that Gus is fictional. It’s not the first time I’ve fallen in love with a fictional character.
In my ardor for the book, I couldn’t help renting the movie of it-or TV miniseries to be more accurate-from Netflix. This is never a good idea. You must wait for your ardor to die down before you rent the movie. And even then it’s not usually a good idea. Not because it wasn’t a fine movie. It really was. Robert Duvall is one of my favorite actors. But he is not Gus McCrae. Movies and books are completely separate experiences-each potentially enjoyable, but not to be compared. As a reader, I feel like Gus belongs to me in a way that Robert Duvall up there on the screen in my living room never will. Robert Duvall is an actual person and not subject to my beliefs or hopes as Gus is. Gus, you see, has become a collaboration of sorts between Larry McMurtry and me. (Larry McMurtry may not see it that way.)
I do believe that characters in novels belong to their writers and their readers pretty equally. I’ve learned a lot of things about the characters I write from people who read about them. Readers expand them in ways I don’t think of and take them to places I can’t go. That’s partly why it’s fun to sit down and write this dern blog with the hope that I’m connecting with a few readers. We’ve got a lot of people in common.
On a different and completely irrelevant note, I love sour gummy candy-in the shape of worms, fruits, kids, whatever. I love it.