Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Remembering Maya Angelou

Thinking of the loss of Maya Angelou today. I had the privilege of meeting her ten years ago when I worked for the Democratic National Convention. It is not often in this life I have the confidence or boldness to push my way forward and speak up but I travelled the long hallways of the convention center to find her and ask her assistant if I could shake her hand. I remember her assistant was fiercely protective, reluctant, annoyed. She asked me what I might say, reminded me to call her Dr., not Miss, or Ms., or Mrs., but Dr. Angelou, warned I could not speak to her for very long. 

The feeling of actually meeting her was much different than my encounter with her handler. The woman who stood before me had a mild, calm, yet almost regal presence. I told her that I admired her work very much and asked to shake her hand. I remember that she waited for me to say more. Not knowing what else to say, I only smiled. She did not shake my hand but, instead, enveloped both of her hands around mine and held them there.

The moment was brief and quiet. Yet profound. I will remember, as she so famously quoted, how it felt to be around someone whose manner was so gentle, elegant, and assured.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Melissa Blog

I've missed being in this space in recent months. I miss the creativity it has allowed, the friendships it has forged, and I miss cataloging the days.

I recently read this post about 'getting personal' from my beautiful friend Allison Renner and it helped me understand why I haven't been here all that often. Contrary to popular belief, it is not because of lack of time. Since Little O's birth, I have found small pockets of time for the important things I love to do whether in the late hours or on weekends or while Little O naps or plays quietly by himself. And, I have discovered, small pockets of time add up to long stretches, and, so, progress is made slow and steady.

The real problem is that I have never really known what this blog was meant to be, especially as life flip-flopped and changed so drastically with the birth of my son. It never felt like the place for me to post 'bump updates' during my pregnancy or to chronicle my journey into motherhood. It does not feel like a space to post photographs of his monthly progress.

And yet...

Those are my days. That is my life.

My love of books and writing are, often, why I come here but the observations, the feeling of the days, the look of the sky, the reflections of who I am, have always been the posts I most love to write. And it seems readers of this blog (though this is an unscientific study) engage most with those reflections.

In this space, I have struggled to understand who I am as a reader and a writer, as a person of the world, but now that I add 'mother' to this list, it is a new study in person-hood. It has changed the minutes and hours of who I am and so it changes this virtual space.

As with everything, perhaps, I've been too encumbered by labels. Having to call this a 'writing' blog, a 'book' blog, a 'personal' blog, a 'mommy' blog, it has tripped me up and made me fall silent. I've never fit neatly into any category because I've never wanted to.

At the end of the day, this is nothing but a Melissa blog. It shifts and changes as I do and I'm just grateful to have a space to reflect on it all. So, I appreciate your patience as I continue Melissa-ing, the only messy, made-up verb I know how to be.

Monday, May 5, 2014


I've always meant to join in on the currently posts, to journal about the right-nows. Let's try this.


I don't have a lot of time for television these days but Tyler and I are making our way through Lost on Netflix. I know. I know. Where have we been? We're so 2000s.

We are in it's second season and I can tell that this show is going to have many winding storylines that may never find their ends. But, right now, I am impressed with the duality of each character. As a writer, I am excited about and, in a strange way, jealous of the never-ending plot engine. The possibilities for story are endless. I wonder, as the show progresses, if that will become a problem.

As I nurse Little O, I watch reruns of Gilmore Girls. I have never watched this show straight through and I have to admit that I've become slightly obsessive about it. The other day, I told Tyler that I'm starting to daydream about Stars Hollow. Sometimes, I think I live there and can pop into Luke's.


I just started Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

I recently finished a beautiful story, A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux


To records, NPR, and baby coos. Some nights, I listen to baby's breath and it is a bit like the flower, soft, milky fragrant, new.


Stories, as always, and, now that I'm on leave from work, as often as I can. I'm working on a few projects. 6000 words into a new novel. Completing revisions to an old novel that, with gentle and assured guidance from my agent, feels new. And there's a travel story I'm writing for a contest, as a way to stretch myself.


I'm a little lonely these days but I'm also at peace. I have moments of new-mother euphoria when I believe that I'm the happiest I've ever been. But happy is a tricky feeling. So I say, instead, at peace.


I have no plans.


Spring. Sky. The feeling I can wear dresses again soon. Little O peeking his head up because he's curious about the world over my shoulder. His head's at my chin and his eyes dart like train-window flickers. He wants to see it all.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We Need Diverse Books Campaign

Have you all heard about the We Need Diverse Books Campaign?

Information here. I've been following the hashtag on twitter and reading the tumblr with great interest. 

Join the cause.