Playtime with strangers
and other ways to make miserable things seem okay
Greetings all you kids that are too old for the playground,
(you’re never too old, but keep reading anyway)
So for two weeks I have been set upon by monstrous hard things. A dearly beloved and very close relative is not in the best health, and there have been many hospital visits and difficult conversations. A dearly beloved pet is also in and out of the hospital, on the exact same schedule almost, which is both funny and horrifying.
Meanwhile, I have been subsumed in the most tedious parts of work (spreadsheets have “cells” for a reason) and technology has not been my friend (apologies again to my out-of-town guests that had to sit in the weirdest place because I made our lunch reservation for Thursday instead of Wednesday) as well as those who got a link that didn’t work for my son’s graduation announcement.
But that said, there have also been high points.
Some rarely-seen relatives have come to visit and I have had some amazing reunions with very old friends (though my ability to make restaurant reservations is suspect). Authors have come out of the woodwork to volunteer on behalf of my book (more on this later) and it is all very-very-very exciting. I am planning a killer launch party for A FLASH OF DARKNESS which is actually ending up a little bit more “show” than “business"….(more on that later too…actually, they’re related)
And all of this goes to show you that theater makes everything better.
Really. I owe it all to taking a night off and going to the theater.
With my family, I went to see Peter Pan Goes Wrong which is likely the goofiest and least “important” play that is anywhere near Broadway right now, and it was just the ticket.
As Nietzsche accidentally suggested, to feel less burdened, I just needed to take myself, my job, my plans, my situation, my goals, and all the calamitous world news a little less seriously.
Note to self: I am allowed enjoy good moments even though there is suffering in the world. It is okay to have a laugh while your heart is breaking. My fleeting joy might help those friends who are suffering catch a little break.
This was never so clear as when I finally broke down and told a stranger (we have a lot of friendly strangers in NYC) about the litany of stuff that wasn’t going right (we have all had those days where things just get too hard) and this stranger then turned around and told me how much worse HER life was.
(It empirically wasn’t, but I didn’t have the emotional space to take on her cat’s mild skin condition AND her fear that a formerly close friend posted something that might be making fun of her, “maybe, or maybe I’m just overreacting.” For her, this was “just too much” - and okay. That was her capacity.)
What is showed me was this: when my own bleak emotions were mirrored back to me, it was impossible to get out of my own head. I wanted to let go, but instead I found myself competing with a stranger over whose troubles were worse (I had the grace not to do this aloud. I let her have her say and then went back to my phone.) I wonder if I would have felt better had she empathetically said, “wow, you’re having a rough week,” and then dredged up some weird or funny little anecdote to attempt to cheer me up. We’ll never know. The algorithm feeds us more of what a formula believes that we want.
When I went to see this play, it was interesting, distracting and funny. And for 90+ minutes I relaxed, laughed, and thought about nothing more serious than Peter Pan. It was like brain yoga: I shut off all the problem-solving parts and just laughed.
Afterward, I felt much better and more capable of taking on my unsolvable problems. And some of them got solved.
And that was my week. That, plus seeing my son’s 8 minute film (his Senior Thesis) and going on five college tours with my daughter. That’s right. If the news hasn’t reached you yet in some other way, ManChild is graduating next week, and LadyTeen is shopping for colleges.
So: even though my only Mother’s Day wishes have come from corporate entities, my mom, my mother-in-law, my husband, and lots and lots of you guys (thanks for your texts, but truly: remember your own moms & in-laws & if you have energy left over after that, light a candle for the maternals from whom you descended & if that doesn’t completely drain you, light another for any future maternals you may have engendered)…. motherhood is some powerful stuff!
First of all, exciting moves forward on the anthology that includes my short story “ALL CLEAR” which is not in my current story collection.
If you’ve already finished A FLASH OF DARKNESS and left a review on Amazon and are looking for more of my work, you might check out this collection which is coming out on the Summer Solstice.
I also just recorded an episode of “Between the Covers” with Stephanie Larkin, of Red Penguin Books. It was a fun conversation and I got a lot of air time to discuss Pen Parentis and my new story collection. It should air this coming Wednesday, here.
Also I just wrapped up another Pen Parentis Literary Salon and you can watch the replay here if you like (it’s free & the authors were amazing: Marcy Dermansky, Kevin Chong & David Mura, moderated by me & Pen Parentis curator, Christina Chiu)
Okay okay… I know what you want to know.
When’s the Book Party???
Haha. The answer is….drumroll please….
Thursday June 8th! 7PM!!
The RSVP list is coming very soon. There will be 50 tickets, and it is free, though I hope you will buy my book and bring it (I will have copies there to buy as well) — it is going to be SUPER FUN and very much to my taste (you guys get to come along for the ride).
The main event will feature a reading of a short piece by Kafka followed by a reading of the story of mine in the collection that was directly inspired by this piece—and then, because that might be very depressing (are you sitting down?) Victor LaValle is going to interview me!
Yes!! THIS guy:
In addition to Victor, who needs no additions, there will be more stuff (because I am the queen of excess!) so mark your calendars, the “KAFKA CAFE: a celebration of the debut collection of M. M. De Voe” will be a night to remember. June 8. East Village. 7pm. Get those calendars ready: this is going to be like registering for summer camp, you’ll have to click fast once the link is available to the public (I may send you a special newsletter midweek this week so you will be the first to get the link)—watch for it. (for those of you who are not moms, this is what moms do every single time their kid wants to get into something, from ballet lessons to circus camp, violin to STEM tutoring—we are like Jeopardy champs with the google forms and sign up links). If this sounds appalling, send your mom an extra note and thank her (especially if she was of the generation where this had to be done by driving the station wagon to a location to sign up on a form).
Random Final Thought:
My brother went to Dubai and all he brought back was a photograph of a man and his dog.
May all your greetings on this day be from your offspring or made to your own progenitors.