I'm going to be a New York City-produced playwright!




Nylon Fusion Theatre Company has accepted my play STOP ME IF YOU THINK YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE BEFORE (named after The Smiths's song by the same title) for their upcoming "This Round's On Us: The Redacted Play Festival: the F Word," February 24th and 25th in New York.

Academy Award-winning writer John Patrick Shanley (author of OUTSIDE MULLINGAR), and one of the advisory board members of Nylon Fusion, says:

"Nylon Fusion Theatre Company is exactly the right kind of theatre for New York City now. It is young, multicultural, fearless. It provides an open door, inviting unrecognized talent on to the stage, providing entry, excitement, recklessness, candor and comedy, in a joyous atmosphere. There are new actors, directors, and playwrights in abundance. You will discover artists here. You will experience the rush of seeing them first. That's what New York is all about. Discovery!" 

As you might imagine, I'm absolutely thrilled! And hey, if you live in New York and see the show, drop me a line and send me a picture, will you?!

http://www.nylonfusion.org/
Happy Thanksgiving!  Today we celebrate the anniversary of the feast in which Native Americans helped the first immigrants survive in their new land. This week we've seen Native Americans brutally attacked for defending their right to clean water, while many Americans are being yelled at to "Go back to where you came from!" Of course this only makes us more determined to celebrate our diversity and come together as Americans, whether our families have always been here, or whether they came came here on the Mayflower, on slave ships, steamships, rafts, or airplanes. I'd love to hear about your "coming to America/always been in America" stories; I'd love to hear what you're especially thankful for (if you want to comment below)... Hope you have a happy holiday, everyone, with good company, good food, and good conversation: may your only fighting be over the wishbone!

Pictured is my great-grandfather, Alec Sherman, who emigrated from Kaunas, Lithuania, to New York, in the early 1900s, to escape enscription into the Russian army and to enjoy religious freedom--which he indeed found in America. He married my great-grandmother, Jenny Melkiur, who was from Latvia, and they moved to Los Angeles, where they spent the rest of their lives with their eight children, including my grandmother Sarah. My father's family came from Cork County, Ireland. I am thankful that all of my great-grandparents made the arduous journey to America, and that all of my ancestors lives intersected in such a way that I was born and am writing this today....


Anastasia the Romanian Snake Countess is not a major character in my book; I would hardly even call her a minor one. But she comes up now and again, and so I've been doing a little research on "lady snake charmers" of the circus. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, these female snake charmers seem to have special relationships with snakes. They can communicate with them, dance with them, "hypnotize" them, and hold them. At a time when women's bathing suits consisted of bloomers and baggy blouses, these women's outfits were downright sexy. My character Anastasia died in a circus fire when her daughter was only 12. But I like to think of her, a young mother, charming snakes and wearing glitzy outfits, making her daughter proud.

It's been over a year since my car accident, and I've just gotten back to working on my novel. Although I still get headaches if I spend too much time at the computer, I can't tell you how good it feels to be thinking clearly and writing creatively once more...



I've been back from Europe for a couple of weeks now. I was there for two months, and had a fantastic time, living and teaching in Scotland and traveling to Dublin, London, and Prague on the weekends. (And having very few headaches!--I think due to lack of screen time, though I'd like to think it was the fresh Scottish air...)  Being home has been a mix of happiness (I'm home! With my family! And pug! And friends!) and sadness (I miss Scotland and my friends there, too).

But I am so glad that I was home when my beloved dog Rosie got sick. I took her to the emergency veterinarian in Madison and learned that she had bladder stones; the next day she had surgery from our veterinarian here in Baraboo. They removed two very large (walnut size) bladder stones and about 20 small ones. Poor Rosie! But they took very good care of her and now she is resting at home, on the mend.

The experience reminded me how much I love Rosie, how much we humans love our pets. Rosie is sweet, happy, funny, and kind--and she doesn't speak in words. For someone who works with words all day--my own, my college students', other writers', professional writers'--having a companion who communicates in wagging tails and big eyes is a beautiful, comforting balm.

I miss Scotland, I miss Europe. But I am very glad to be home.

I've been back from Europe for a couple of weeks now. I was there for two months, and had a fantastic time, living and teaching in Scotland and traveling to Dublin, London, and Prague on the weekends. Being home has been a mix of happiness (I'm home! With my family! And pug! And friends!) and sadness (I miss Scotland and my friends there, too).

But I am so glad that I was home when my beloved dog Rosie got sick. I took her to the emergency veterinarian in Madison and learned that she had bladder stones; the next day she had surgery from our veterinarian here in Baraboo. They removed two very large (walnut size) bladder stones and about 20 small ones. Poor Rosie! But they took very good care of her and now she is resting at home, on the mend.

The experience reminded me how much I love Rosie, how much we humans love our pets. Rosie is sweet, happy, funny, and kind--and she doesn't speak in words. For someone who works with words all day--my own, my college students', other writers', professional writers'--having a companion who communicates in wagging tails and big eyes is a beautiful, comforting balm.

I miss Scotland, I miss Europe. But I am very glad to be home.

I've been in Scotland for a week now, living in Dalkeith House, which is a 17th century palace built upon a 12th century castle. It is amazing to be living in a place with so much history. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here, as did Bonnie Prince Charlie and James IV, who was married here. The attic and top floor held quartered Polish soldiers during World War II. The house has been owned by the Buccleuch family for hundreds of years; the Duke has leased the house to the University of Wisconsin system since 1986, when the first study abroad students arrived, which is what brings me here: I am teaching two classes to undergraduate students, mostly from the UW-system: "Wish You Were Here: The Art and Craft of Travel Writing" and "British Ghost Stories: Landscape as Inspiration." My first class starts tomorrow, and I can't wait!

Yes, the house I'm staying in has its own wikipedia page!:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalkeith_Palace



     I had a difficult fall semester. I was hit by a car in August, and the attendant concussion made it difficult for me to read, write, think, and speak. Since I make my living by reading, writing, thinking, and speaking, this was a challenging and disturbing time for me, and I spent a few months not feeling at all like myself. My doctor prescribed preventive headache medication, and that, along with time, and rest, helped. By the end of December/early January, I was feeling more like myself again, and by the time the spring semester began again in early February, I was about 80% back to normal. I could speak well during classes. I could read on paper and on screens. I was even able to write a bit again, especially nonfiction/travel stories. And my headaches were just about gone.
     On March 20th, I got a severe headache that has ebbed and flowed but has not yet left me completely, as of today, May 4th. I have seen my doctor, and am seeing a chiropractor, getting regular cranial massages, and staying away from the computer for long periods of time, all of which is helping, but is not "curing" my headache.
     This is painful, and also, annoying. For a couple of years ago I was delighted to learn that my application to teach in the "Experience Scotland" program for University of Wisconsin-system students had been approved, and I would be teaching "Wish You Were Here: The Art & Craft of Travel Writing" and "Landscape as Inspiration: British Ghost Stories" outside Edinburgh this summer. I leave in about 10 days. I am getting so excited I can hardly sleep! But I am also worried that my headache will accompany me to Scotland.
     I am hoping the fresh air will do me good. I have other hopes as well: I am hoping that I am able to share my passion for literature, for travel, for Scotland, and for writing with my students. I am hoping that I'll be able to write some travel stories myself. I am hoping that my students return home transformed, that their world is bigger than it was. I am hoping (knock on wood) that all of us are healthy, that we overcome whatever difficulties we face, and that we learn a lot and have a blast.
     Whether or not you travel this summer (and will you? where to?), I wish the same for you!--that you learn a lot and have a blast. Isn't that what summer--and life--are all about?
   
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