March 30, 2018
I woke up groggy at 8 a.m., too sleepy to want to get out of bed, but too awake to fall back asleep. I was up until 2:30 a.m. the night before; writing until 1:30 a.m., and then too wired and stressed to fall asleep for a while. I’m in the midst of working on revisions for my second book (out in September), writing the first draft of what will hopefully be my third book, and oh yeah, still promoting my first book that came out two months ago. Doing all of this book stuff, attempting to remain a functioning member of society, and not completely losing my mind is a bit of a challenge.
My sister was up in the East Bay from her place in the South Bay for the holiday weekend, and her dog—a middle-aged German Shepherd named Lucy—was staying with me. The both wonderful and terrible thing about having a dog around is that you have to start your day by going for a walk outside. So I threw on a caftan that can sort of pass for outside the house clothes, and took Lucy for a walk.
I checked my phone when I got home to see a flurry of emails from people at my publisher, most of which were in response to the flurry of emails I sent them late the night before. I clicked over to Twitter, and had one of those moments of complete confusion that happens on Twitter at least once a day. I tend to tweet about books, cooking, makeup, and politics, with some pop culture tossed into the mix, which is why I had no idea why my mentions were full of people talking about basketball. Finally I realized that I’d retweeted something about LeBron James the night before, and so now people were having a very boring LeBron vs. Michael Jordan conversation in my mentions. I ignored the bulk of them.
I went into the kitchen to make coffee and wash my dishes. A few days before I’d made a batch of brownies for a friend, but I’d reserved the four corner pieces for myself, and I had the last one along with my coffee for first breakfast. I turned my computer on and replied to a bunch of emails. Eventually I made myself breakfast tacos (with eggs, cheese, soyrizo, and green salsa) for a real breakfast.
It was Good Friday, and I wasn’t working at my day job, so I had a pretty leisurely morning. I should have taken the opportunity to get writing work done that isn’t the email/social media part of the job, but mornings have never been my strong point, so I didn’t even try.
I did, however, take the time to put one of those clay masks on both my face and my armpits. Why my armpits? Obviously because I read an article on the internet telling me to do so. There are always people talking about how skin care is stupid, as are the women who do it, and blah blah it doesn’t do anything but just make you stop and relax anyway. And to that I say: who the fuck cares? It’s fun and silly to smear a clay and vinegar combination on my skin, and we’re living in a terrifying dystopian world people should grab joy wherever they find it.
Once the clay had dried, I jumped in the shower to wash it all off, and got ready for church. My Catholicism is an important part of my identity, but maybe not in the way many people say. Both sides of my family are originally from Louisiana, and my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were all Black Catholics. There are quite a few Black Catholic churches in Oakland, because so many black people moved from Louisiana to Oakland during the Great Migration (read The Warmth of Other Suns for more on this, and because it’s an amazing book). Despite all of the many terrible things the Catholic church has done and continues to do, it’s part of me, and I continue to go. Anyway, most of the loud Catholics out there in the world are white dudes who are so loudly resentful about women and people of color that we now have a pope who is neither, but I’m pretty good at being loud too, in the other direction.
I met my mom at church at noon (ish). I managed to get there before she did (we were both late, I was just less late). The church we now go to is St. Columba, which has a Black Lives Matter banner hanging outside, and puts crosses in the front garden for every homicide victim in Oakland. My great-grandfather was an architect and worked on this church soon after he moved here from Louisiana. The current pastor is a white Irish priest who is a firebrand in all of the best possible ways. The first time I went to church there after he became priest there was on a Mother’s Day, and his whole homily was about how the Catholic Church doesn’t treat women well enough. He’s only gotten better from there. Good Friday isn’t a mass (which means priests don’t have to be the one to lead it), so every year he has the women of the church lead Good Friday services, and arranges for special guest speakers, who are always women. Here’s the only problem with that: Good Friday services take a long time already, and by 1:45 p.m. I was reaching my church limit. I committed a venial sin and checked my phone in church, only to see an email that stressed me out, which was obviously God telling me not to check my phone in church.
Eventually mom and I left (before church was over, there’s only so much we can take) and on the way to my car I saw I had missed a call from my agent. I sat in my car and called her back, and God bless her, she took the full brunt of the stress that had been building up in me for two days, and managed to talk me down.
Mom and I have a Good Friday tradition of going to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants after church, which is not exactly in line with fasting and prayer during the hours that Jesus was hanging on the cross, but hey, it works for us. My sister came this year, and we mapped out Easter dinner while drinking delicious gin and grapefruit shrub cocktails and eating French fries.
On the way home I went to the post office, which gave me enormous amounts of gratitude and empathy for the people who work there. I had to send in my passport renewal, and the post office lady noticed that I’d signed it in blue, instead of black ink, which meant I had to redo the entire thing. While doing so, I had the opportunity to witness two of the worst kinds of post office patrons. First there was the woman who saw an entire line of people, walked up to the front, and said, “I just need to pick up a package, do I need to stand in that line?” The amazing thing was that she clearly thought she was going to get sympathy from all of the people standing in said line; I hope all of our death glares after the post office staff waved her to the back of the line helped disabuse her of this notion. Then there was the man who had a very long and very repetitive conversation with the post office staff, where they kept saying the same thing to each other, just louder and in slightly different words. Anyway, by the time I made it out of the post office, I was ready to collapse.
I got home and took the dog for another walk, and the combination of how warm it was that day, my poor sleep of the night before, and oh yeah, those gin cocktails, all contributed to the unintentional and very satisfying nap I had. I’d intended to go into San Francisco that evening for a book event, but I woke up without enough time to get there, so instead I picked up sushi from my favorite place for dinner.
I spent a few hours writing, first figuring out some key changes to the book I’m revising, and then working on my new draft. The other day a friend asked me how the draft was going, and I said “Good! I mean, it’s terrible and I hate the whole thing, but I’m still excited about it,” which I think (hope) is normal for a first draft.
After writing, I got into the bathtub with a book. I try to avoid reading the same genre I’m writing in while I’m in the midst of a first draft, so I ignored the pile of new books in my home and on my Kindle, and started rereading a Ngaio Marsh mystery I’ve read a million times.
Before bed, I did yoga in my living room, which is always a comedy of errors with a large dog around. When I roll out my yoga mat, she thinks it’s for her to sit on. Once I sit on the mat, she thinks I’m sitting on the floor in order to scratch her belly. As soon as I start doing yoga, she walks directly behind me to where her food and water is set up on my floor and starts eating her dinner, which has been sitting in her bowl being ignored for at least the past four hours. And then when I do a shoulder stand, she comes to lick my face, which makes me giggle and almost fall down. I love dogs so much.