I bounce: between countries, between days, between states of mind. Write. Travel. Parent. Host. Play. Edit. I don’t know stasis, nor routine. My steady state is lost. There is only movement, change, bounce.
If I was a techie, I’d create a color-coded chart showing all the activity I’ve had since July. 10 cities. 4 countries. Weeks of full-time childcare duty or full-time entertaining of house-guests. After we arrived in Reykjavik and I got both kids enrolled in schools and after-school activities, I sketched out a comprehensive calendar that allowed me 25 hours a week to myself. Then miraculously I added another 3 hours to my schedule. 28 hours! With that kind of time, I really could do it all—grow Ever After Studio, revise the novel, exercise in earnest. But that would be too simple. Flat.
In mid-October, I said goodbye to our houseguest, a dear friend, and immediately packed my own bags. Three days later, I flew to San Francisco. I met with A, my biz partner, to talk about current and future projects for Ever After Studio, our children’s book production company (www.EverAfterStudio.com). Then I moved over to Fort Mason for the Algonkian Writer’s Conference. For five days, a small group of writers sat in a workshop and revised our pitches, listened to speakers and lectures, and met with agents. It was an impressive group of novelists with some real talent. I left inspired, invigorated, and with clear marching orders for exactly what I need to do next to revise and then find a home for my novel. Evenings were crammed with conference homework and connecting with old friends: my sister flew up for two nights, I met S’s brand new baby, ate and drank with the BOX (Cal friends), the Obrunis (Univ of Ghana friends), and the Craft (Chronicle friends). I even ran into my high school dean at a friend’s book reading in North Beach. Luckily it was an amusing and productive action-packed week and it wasn’t, as I started to fear, my life flashing before my eyes.
On my return to Reykjavik, I said hello then goodbye to Mr. Green, as it was his turn for a week-long conference in the US. He left and my mama arrived, then my dad. Their two-week visit was full of touring: introductions to the schools, the sites around town, places to play with kids, museums and group outings, a handful of Halloween celebrations, a magnificent symphony concert in the new Harpa Concert Hall and failed efforts at spotting the northern lights. I’ve really only seen them once or twice.
As soon as my parents left, we paused for a few days before the Green family headed out en masse to London. Mr. Green had use-it-or-lose-it vacation days and with London only a three-hour flight away, and in the same time zone even, it was hard to pass up. Oh, how I love London. Not just the unbelievable homes we stayed in and old friends we saw, but the charming tree-lined streets, the great shopping, the millions of cultures and languages and people wandering the streets. We saw dinosaurs come to life in the Natural History museum, we rode Captain Hook’s ship in the amazing playground in Kensington, we walked through the enchanted palace exhibit in Kensington and the maze in Hampton Court. We donned costumes in the V&A and rode double decker buses, tubes, trains, taxis, and the Eye. We walked for millions of miles. We toured the Tower of London and bought trinkets at Harrods and handfuls at H&M. We watched penguins and jellyfish at the aquarium and then ate fish and chips and pastries, and Asian and American and African and everything-in-between food—there were treats at every turn.
We returned again to Reykjavik a few days ago. But what about my writing? My 28 hours each week to grow the business, work on the novel? With all the jumping, my schedule was scrapped and work happened in evenings, or in stolen hours, in moments between. But only work for Ever After Studio. Happily, for EAS I’m writing two new stories that have a publisher. And two new projects are in the works. The current projects are also moving along, new designs, new interest, new formats, all very promising. But the novel? That sits in a pile on my desk. Almost near the top. Now and again I open the folder, make a note about next steps, leaf through the conference notebook, read a page and close it. Not today. Soon.
We hope to go to California in the new year. We’ve promised the family. But that is months away. For now, we have no travel planned. No visitors. Just my precious schedule and my desire to settle. Slow. To relax and really exist in Reykjavik. And write and edit, and live for moments with only a little bit of a bounce.