Up late last night…

After watching American Idol (go Elliott!), I’d planned to get to sleep early — big night with Joe today. But the new novel wouldn’t let me. So I put on some tea and some classical music and dug into the previously-marinating manuscript. It focuses on the letters my great-uncles sent home from World War 2, as juxtaposed with the kinds of letters that men write now. The curl of handwriting, the scent of the cedar box the real-life letters are in, the feel of a blue velvet ribbon, and that one special letter at the bottom of the box that sends my main character into a new life’s purpose. I haven’t named her yet. My niece likes the name Violet, but that reminds me of one of the bunnies in “Watership Down,” so I’ll have to keep thinking. The first chapter is done, but it needed extra sensory details and a subplot came out of nowhere. I do my best fiction work at night, so I’m pretty sure my muse is on London time.

Speaking of time zones, I had the most terrific conversation with my niece Madison last night. We’re chatting up ideas for their weeklong visit here in July. So far, we’ll be doing cha-cha lessons (so that we can dance at my brother’s wedding), going to the town pool for waterslides, making my parents a surprise dinner, and she and I are going clothes shopping at the mall. This is the first time the request wasn’t about the toy store. It’s all about fashion now. Where is my Barbie girl? And when we talked about my birthday coming up — I will be 37, an age she can’t even fathom, clearly by her response of “Whoa…Aunt Shashie, that’s a big number!” — she said that I’m two years younger than my sister. “It must be great to have a big sister,” she said. “I don’t have one.” My response: “Well, you have an Aunt Shashie instead.” Her response: “Yeah, it’s like you’re my big sister, but better.” The child has earned a big shopping spree at Limited Too. My nephew Kevin will get the same amount at his video game shop for replying “37? That’s not so bad. Daddy’s 42.” I adore my little munchkins, although the clock is ticking until they refuse to be known as such, and they stop calling me Aunt Shashie.

Joe has planned a romantic getaway for my birthday. In two weeks. I am all smiles. Both from the thrill of that gift and in anticipation of what he has planned for tonight…how am I going to get any work done today? I’m glad I work alone so that no one can see me just start giggling out of nowhere when I think about something he’s said…

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