Pizza and… the SUPER BOWL!

This weekend’s Pizza Toppings at Corner Pizza:

  • Chicken
  • Bacon
  • Ham

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That’s right – no movie this weekend! 😦

We planned to go see The Revenant, and we still do. But since the showtime at our favorite theater was a bit early, we decided to relax and enjoy our “meat-lovers” pizza instead.*  We won’t be eating pizza this evening while watching the Panthers and the Broncos (Carolina vs. Denver, in Super Bowl L – “50”). But since tomorrow is my husband’s birthday, we’ll have sandwiches, chips, and cake.

I can’t wait to watch the game (and the commercials!), and no matter who wins, I hope it’s a good one. In honor of it, here’s an (amusing) short excerpt of an article about it that we discussed in my French conversation class this week. I’ll quote this (simple) explanation of the game in French, and then give you the English translation, even though you can probably figure it out, with so many vrais amis (similar words). Words in parentheses are included for extra clarification:

“Sur un terrain de près de 91 mètres sur 49, deux équipes de 11 joueurs se disputent et galopent derrière un ballon ovale. Celui-ci est flanqué d’un lacet de fermeture, qui permet aux joueurs de lui donner un mouvement rotatif indispensable pour stabiliser sa trajectoire…”

“On a field of about 91 by 49 meters [100 by 53 yards], 2 teams of 11 players battle (contend, argue, dispute) and gallop (dash) behind an oval ball. The ball is locked/held together by a (shoe)lace, which permits the players to give it an indispensable rotating (rotary) movement, to stabilize its flight path (trajectory)…”

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*Meat-lover’s, since Lent begins on Wednesday. So, for the next 6 weeks, we’ll be eating vegetarian pizzas on Fridays.

 

 

Rendez-vous in the Big Apple

My husband and I spent a few days in New York City earlier this month, in between two bouts of record low temperatures up there, and (fortunately) days before snow fell in Manhattan.

As we walked from our hotel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the “Met”) one day, I tried to picture Candace Morgan’s apartment. Candace is the main character in my Suspense novel UNDERWATER, and she lives in Atlanta and New York. Undoubtedly, her place in the Upper East Side is tiny compared to the luxury penthouse condominium she owns down south. But it works, because she’s a minimalist – sort of.

In UNDERWATER, Candace spends most of her time in the city I know better, Atlanta (though she jets off to two exotic locations, only one of which I’ve visited).  Relatively few of the story’s scenes take place up north, none during the winter; however, unlike me, Candace knows her way around “the City.”

So, why did my husband and I schedule a trip there, with no thought to the January weather possibilities? Parce que we recently reconnected with an old friend from our college days in Chapel Hill, whom we hadn’t seen in decades. That friend and we decided to rendez-vous in New York (she lives in Boston), and she and we contacted three other UNC friends who live in and around New York and asked them to join us.

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The Old Well on the campus of UNC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina:

We’d seen one of these friends a few times in recent years (although she, the Boston woman, hadn’t seen him since college), but we hadn’t seen or talked to the rest in over thirty years. Pourquoi? Because we had moved to Texas right after graduation and had simply lost contact. We hadn’t known their parents’ addresses or phone numbers  – pretty much the only way, back then, to find each other.

But now, thanks to technology, social networks and just plain serendipity – well, I’m going to credit serendipity too, because it just felt like it was a factor – all but one of us met on a Saturday at a Greek restaurant on 7th Avenue. We caught up over lunch at a round table, then continued to share memories and news at a nearby Irish Pub. That night, it was a smaller group at dinner at an Italian restaurant on 51st Street.

The one who couldn’t attend that Saturday had previously scheduled a weekend trip. But – serendipitously – we had arrived on Thursday, and she happened to be free for dinner that night, so we met at a fabulous midtown restaurant. It was a wonderful kickoff to a great weekend.

It was a  little weird to see each other again after so long and compare memories. On the other hand, it was somehow comfortable. We had all become friends without the benefit of instant and easy communication, and with the aid of serendipity. (Perhaps because we never did anything like it in college, exchanging emails and texts before and after our “reunion” in NYC felt a little odd – but only a little.)

I was glad the weather cooperated while we were there, and I’m thankful we dodged the snow and freezing temperatures (though ours down south have been pareil, lately). Next weekend, as I watch the Super Bowl, if it’s extremely cold (or worse) up there, I’ll be thinking of my northern friends.

With warm thoughts.

7 ways Football helps (me) avoid Writer’s Block

The Super Bowl is hours away, and although my beloved Atlanta Falcons aren’t in it (despite coming pretty close, after a FANTASTIC season), I can’t wait to watch le match (and, of course, les publicités – the ads). I haven’t decided whether I want the Ravens or the 49ers to win, and I’m sure both teams have been working very hard – physically and mentally – to prepare. I was also working hard – mentally – last week, adding over 3,000 words (about 12 pages), to my work-in-progress, a Suspense novel.

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Writing a novel is nothing like playing football, but there are certain parallels. For example, as a writer, there are times when you might get stuck  not know what to write next  wonder if you should just toss the whole thing out  experience writer’s block. In football, I imagine, there are times when you aren’t sure what to do next  can’t get into the end zone  want to give up  are so far behind, coming back seems impossible.

I started to understand love the game of football about the same time I started writing my Romance novel, MAKE THAT DEUX. Though sometimes I’ve struggled to keep going as a writer, I don’t believe in writer’s block. At least, I try my best to avoid it. I think what I’ve learned about football has helped.

But before I tell you why, a (necessary) backstory. About a week ago, my husband and I were guests at a “hands-on” dinner party: The kind where each couple has gets to help with the cooking. As the evening began, five couples sat at the table drinking wine while Professional Chef Rosemary described the recipes and the process ahead. Each couple would choose a dish to prepare, and with the help of an assistant chef (and pre-measured ingredients), create a contribution to the meal.

Mon mari, being a wonderful cook and très intelligent, listened carefully. When the signal was given, he bolted over to the dessert station, pulling me along with whispered assurances that it would be the easiest dish. He also explained that it had the extra benefit of allowing the two of us time to relax and have another glass of vin while our his creation*  was in the oven.

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Initially, I helped hovered stressfully around him, and soon our assistant realized it was him that she would be teaching  guiding standing by to watch. As they were discussing the pros and cons of metal versus plastic lemon juicers (she liked plastic), I slipped away. Relieved of duty, I hung out closeby, talking to the other husbands as their wives stirred and sautéed.

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The metal lemon juicer we have à la maison

We talked a little about football, and then one of the men told the others I was an author and had published a novel. We chatted about my book and then about the one I’m currently working on. When dinner was ready, we all sat down together to a delicious meal.

Afterward, I was asked to speak to the group for a few minutes about writing and answer some questions. One person said he would like to write a book too, and asked me how I overcome writer’s block. I said that if when I come to a point where I can’t continue a project, I work on something else: research, a blog post, marketing MAKE THAT DEUX, or just rereading (and revising) what I’ve written. Then, after a time (hopefully short), I know exactly what comes next in my novel.

Which brings me to football, and my list of ways that it helps me avoid writer’s block:

1. The objective is to advance the ball (or story). Sometimes you don’t get it very far, but if you can just keep making first downs, you’ll get there – and you don’t have to make a first down on every play. But if you give up, or if you’re three-and-out, you’ll have to punt. Not fun.

2. If you’re confused, take a time-out. Then get your head together and come back with a plan.

3. Be open to changing your strategy. Be flexible. What you thought would work may not. If something you’re doing doesn’t help advance the  ball  story, change it. There’s no reason to hold on to a plan that won’t work.

4. You have to work hard, and you can’t let up. You have to work at it, every day (and every play). Well, almost every day. You need some rest days.

5. Be ready to take advantage of opportunities. The unanticipated can happen. When it does, you have to be ready. If you work hard (see #4), you will be.

6. Be patient. Serendipity will find you. Sometimes you get an unexpected break. If you fumble, pick yourself up and keep trying.

7. Never lose sight of the goal. You want to succeed, no matter what is thrown at you (or away from you). Keep working, and it will happen. “Never, never, never give up!”

Go Falcons!

* “Gingerbread with Lemon Curd Cream” – it tasted much better than it sounds!

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