Friday, April 18, 2008

Place of Meeting

Sometimes you don’t feel like writing. Sometimes, for weeks, the only thing you really feel like doing is taking a walk in the woods. To me writing has always been about -- in whatever form, whatever context -- inching a little closer to the truth. But sometimes you don’t want to know.

A speech in Fremont, a classroom in New Haven, a reunion on Nantucket, a library fundraiser in the long ballroom at the Trump Golf Course, dripping chandeliers like a moonless sky drips stars.

A student at Yale says, “Mr. Swiller, I had the opportunity to live in Losotho. There, every man had three interests and three interests only: sex, beer, and cattle. My question to you, Mr. Swiller, is: In your book, where is the cattle?”

Good question.

At the Trump course, I ask the grandmother sitting next to me whether she thinks the emcee, a television news mega-star, feels nervous before giving speeches. “No,” she says. “But only because he’s got so much botox in his face he can’t feel anything.”

Good point.

And then I stand up and tell a story to the four hundred assembled guests. As I shuffle my notes, through the enormous twenty foot-floor to ceiling windows, I see golfers loading their clubs unto electric carts, smearing on sunscreen, tightening spikes. Beyond them: a breathtaking view of an enormous rolling valley of fairways, grass so green it glows. I’m telling a story about children dying for lack of clean water, as several dozen waiters make sure our own water glasses are never empty. Afterwards, in the bathroom, a man turns on the sink taps for me so I don’t have to bend down too far.

So, some days, it feels like such discrepancy is the signature of a broken world. And I don’t feel like writing. I go to the woods. And they say: ah-ha don't you remember? the day is exactly as it needs to be. We are the sum total of everything before us (our lives are the reckoning of our lives), and we are also the grace that untouched observes it all (our lives are not our lives).

A dog jumps in a mud puddle. Three teenage boys run along a cliff, spraying each other with supersoakers. In Philadelphia, the future of the free and unfree worlds is decided by fibs and flag pins. Blogger after blogger writes that my candidate is the one true candidate and yours just doesn’t get what the game is – failing to understand that word and world are not separate – you create the vision, and the facts will always fit. To be a politician is to see each day as a battlefield. To be a Buddha is to see all things as Buddha. Which world do you want to live in?

“Do you love America? Do you really, really love America?” the debate moderator is asking one candidate. “Really? Real-leeeeeee?”

I feel embarrassed.

I’m no saint. I’ve made mistakes. Racked up debts. Injured love. But I can go to the woods.

Meet me there.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Every morning Otis and I drive to Saxon Woods and go for a run on the trails. The woods are hilly and the air has a real chill.

Thoughts come and go with the hills. What I refuse or don’t know how to deal with comes to me in disguise.

Our lives are the reckoning on our lives. But our lives are not our lives.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Note: Mistake on Website...

On the Website appearances page it says that the reading at the NYU School of Social work is at 6pm today (April 7th). That reading is tomorrow, the 8th, at 6:30. Please don't come on the wrong day! Thanks

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Gray day and chill, with a tricky wind that finds every crevice. I take Otis to the forest. It’s still bare from winter, the trees like memories of themselves. Leaves carpet the ground, achy from all the rains. Pairs of birds arrive from the south and flirt through the skies. I’d seen John Adams the night before and wonder now if General Washington will appear over that next rise. We start to run. A mile up we reach the golf course and turn East and this step, this very step right here…

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Upcoming Appearances

Hi Everyone...having a little trouble getting the appearances page on the website updated. Here are some upcoming events:

April 3, PBS Cable Channel
A half-hour interview on "Connie Martinson's Talks Books"
Check local listings for channel and time. Rebroadcast on April 26.
(note: doesn’t seem to be on in the NYC area. You can watch it on her website.)

April 8, 6:30pm, New York, NY
A reading at the NYU School of Social Work in Washington Square.

April 17, 12 noon, Westchester, NY
A speech at the Westchester Library Systems 17th Annual Book & Author
Luncheon; Trump National Golf Club in Braircliff Manor, NY.
Click here for more.

April 21, Time TBA, New Haven, CT
A Tea and Reading at Yale University's Silliman College.

April 26-27, Time and Place TBA, Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Festival of Books, the largest in the nation -- check out the author list! -- held at UCLA.
(I will be participating in a panel on memoir writing.)

April 29th, Time TBA, Los Angeles
Evening reading and discussion at the John Tracy Center

May 21st, 7:00pm, St. Louis, MO
Fontbonne University, Symposium on Deaf Education

June 13, 11:00am, Northampton, MA
Commencement Ceremonies at the Clarke School for the Deaf

June 27-30, Milwaukee, WI
Alexander Graham Bell Association National Convention
(Speaking engagement and book club discussion)

Other exciting stuff in the works...will have more updates soon.