Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Good Ship

I write fiction that celebrates the power of friendship. Although my novels are very different from one another in form, style, and setting, that is the one constant.

In my collection of essays, "Pitching My Tent: On Marriage, Motherhood, Friendship, and Other Leaps of Faith" the subtitle elevates friendship to the level of family. And whenever I speak about the way that popular culture denigrates women's friendships (mean girls, frenemies, bitchy bosses) and say, "That's what sells, I suppose. But the nasty exceptions miss the most important point: women friends keep each other sane!" The audience smiles and nods a collective head.

So it's nice to see that as of today, the most forwarded article in the New York Times details the health benefits of friendship -- especially among women. The article, "What Are Friends For?" ran in the Science section, and reports the obvious: Friendships are good for you. (The second half of that headline: "A Longer Life.")

Mostly, the story focuses on women's friendships and a book called "The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a 40-year Friendship." But it also included citations from a few scientific studies that show reduced rates of heart disease and even head colds among those who tend to their buddies. And then there's this:

Last year, researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone.

The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.

Pass it on.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Site meter

My in-house information technology staff (that would be Jim, my husband) just set up a site meter/counter on this blog. And now I find myself checking it compulsively. Sort of the way I used to check my books' Amazon rankings. And the way I used to play computer Solitaire.

I'm not proud of this, and maybe this is too much information and I shouldn't be telling you. But I'm fascinated to see that someone from Australia dropped by. And Tennessee, and North Carolina, Illinois ... and down the block.

Of course, my most frequent visitor is me -- because I can't stay away.

As with my other computer compulsions, I know this one will fade. But for now, Hello out there, wherever you are!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Chatting on the phone with Steve, cherished writing partner and Ukelele guru, we covered the usual topics (movies, books, gossip) and then he asked, "Feeling a little rootless?"

"Yeah," I answered, glibly.

He knew that I had shipped the copy edited manuscript of my novel back to the publisher about a week ago. Ever since, I've been cleaning my office, filing stuff, purging the bookshelves of college texts (did I really think I'd read Horace ever again? and if I want to, there's the library...)Sure, Passover kept me occupied for a while there but, the chasm yawns. What next?

S. and I shared a laugh.

Either we're miserable and writing, or else we're not-writing and shuddering with anxiety about what to write next.