Monthly Archives: May 2016

On… Disco

I have two little boys, aged two and four. They like cars and trucks and airplanes and fire engines and police cars and ambulances and baseball. And manicures and disco.

I know. I know. But they just do. They don’t have any preconceived ideas of gender or whateveryouwannacallitIthoughtwedidnthavelabelsanymore. They just like what they like. Errol’s favorite color is ‘red glitter’. Ned’s favorite color is ‘bloooooo’ but that might only be because it’s the only color he can say. (Both kids were/are late talkers. It’s all grunts and clicks around here for the first few years, like a tiny ginger version of The Gods Must Be Crazy.) And the only music they like is disco. Full on, shake your groove thang, point at the sky DISCO.

Now, Fox and I are ever-lasting fans of all music of the indie-rock persuasion, so this discovery has been tough on us. We used to be able to play the Lumineers basically on repeat and they didn’t really protest, because, you know, they were too tiny and helpless. But for the past year or so, if we played the Lumineers (or Jet or the Kaiser Chiefs or The Cure or Passion Pit or LCD Soundsystem or Mass Gothic or Sleigh Bells or Hozier or Bastille or anything else), they both would put their fingers in their ears and yell “NOooooooooOOO” until we turned it off. For a long time the only – the ONLY – song Errol liked was ‘Everything Is Awesome’ and it would STILL be his favorite song if I hadn’t told him that my iPhone lost it. I could get him to dance to my favorite song, but only by giving him chocolate when he did, in a sort of Pavlovian training effort, but Ned still hated it. So – and THIS is tragic – we just didn’t listen to music until they were in bed.

But then a few weeks ago, during my little Everybody Wants Some binge, I played Bad Girls by Donna Summer. And they LOVED it. Errol sang it to himself all day afterwards, while playing with firetrucks. It was so adorably camp.

So then I played Daddy Cool by Boney M.

Then Macho Man by The Village People.

Then Hot Stuff by Donna Summer.

Then It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls.

Then Angel Eyes by Roxy Music, which might not be strictly disco, but I got away with it.

Then I remembered The Last Days Of Disco, which is a fantastic movie (my friend Caroline will read this and text me ‘that is a TERRIBLE MOVIE what are you TALKING ABOUT PUT DOWN THE CRACK PIPE’, but she is incorrect and I am not even HOLDING my crack pipe), and I played More More More by Andrea True.

And then Love Train by The O’Jays.

And then Oogum Boogum by Brenton Wood.

And everybody was happy.

 

On… sharing an office

Fox and I share an office in our New York apartment. Literally share it: a small room, adjoining our living room, with two crappy desks from Overstock pushed up against each other, and two big huge flatscreen monitors blocking our views of each other’s faces. In other words, unless one of us is at the gym, we are probably within 15 feet of each other at EVERY MOMENT OF THE DAMN DAY.

This feels completely normal to me now, in the way that having him traveling two or three weeks every month with his last job, and living our entire marriage on WhatsApp, used to feel completely normal. People would make pained faces when I said how much time we spent apart. Especially when I had a tiny baby or two. I could see people thinking: ‘these guys are doomed, and she is NOT going to clean up on Tinder if there are breastmilk stains and babies in her profile pics’. But now, when people hear that we share an office at home and that we have a two-year-old and a four-year-old, they just scream “WHAT THE FUH HOW ARE YOU NOT KILLING HIM?”

So here is the big secret to sharing an office with your spouse:

Ignore each other.

Fox is not a writer. He works in start-up finance. No, I don’t really know what that means. He does a lot of reading and modeling (not that kind of modeling, the demand for 38-year-old red-headed Irishmen isn’t what it should be) and calls. I, obviously, AM a writer, so I just sit there and tap away furiously for hours, and frown and swear and get up and make tea and then taptaptaptaptap furiously some more. Sometimes I stare into space for a long time. Sometimes I stand up and say ‘I can’t do this anymore, this is a fucking RIDICULOUS story and I hate it’ and I go half-assedly Kon Mari my wardrobe or put on red lipstick or eat some chocolate standing up in the kitchen. Sometimes I go play with the boys if their laughter/screaming penetrates my writing trance, but they’re out most of the time. Mostly, I just sit there and sweat and fume and tap, and Fox sits there and thinks and calls and taps, and sometimes goes to the gym, or goes for a walk to think his way through a work issue, and we ignore each other.

The other question people always have is: don’t the boys drive us nuts? And well, not really. Other people’s children would, obviously – in London we lived on Colville Terrace and our bedroom, where I wrote, overlooked a school playground, and I hated each and every one of those screaming little bastards. But when it’s YOUR kids, it’s different. It’s harder for Fox, who is accustomed to the serene space of a finance office, but as I’ve probably said before in my adorably repetitious way, I used to work in advertising agencies and those places are fucking zoos. Good training for working from home with very small children. And of course, we have an amazing and wonderful and lovely nanny, who makes it possible. Ned plays, and eats, and naps, and plays, and then they pick up Errol from preschool at 3pm, and then they all go to the playground for a little while. And I normally stop working around 4pm or 430pm or so, and bake a cake with them or do a puzzle or play Lego or firetrucks or whatever. A couple of times a week I take Neddles for to the playground alone, or take Errol for after-school cake or a manicure (fact: four-year-old boys love glittery nail polish only slightly less than they love airplanes and Paw Patrol), just because it’s nice to have solo hang time with them. Then it’s dinner time and bath time and story time and bedtime for the boys. Then the day is over and we collapse in a heap, exhausted.

And there’s the rub.

Because at this point in the day, you have to NOT ignore each other. You have to talk, ackshuary liderellah talk, not just put on The Night Manager or Silicon Valley or Veep or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend or Younger or Amy Schumer or any of the other shows you both love. Talk about your day, and what happened with your work (which the other person genuinely isn’t aware of even though it happened just inches from his or her damn face). Talk about stuff in the news and what’s happening with our extended family and our friends and that article he read and that idea I had and that thing I’m worried about and you know, stuff. Conversation.

I find adult conversation ASTONISHINGLY hard after a day of making shit up in my head.

Not just hard. Impossible. It’s like there’s a wild, hilarious party in a room in my brain, and I just want to go back to that room rather than exist in the real world. You’re right: it’s probably not healthy.

Kid conversation is different. I’ll talk to Errol about volcanos and space and puppies (he is obsessed with them all) or play hide and seek with Ned, or make papier mache bowls or do watercolor painting with both of them, no problem. That’s easy, because it’s almost meditative. (Sometimes I cheat, and part of my brain is still thinking about a story while we’re drawing quietly, and then I have to grab the Crayola marker and write an idea out on the paper before I forget it.) The moment they’re in bed, I just want to go back to that party room in my brain and let my imagination do its thing.

But I can’t. I have to close the door to that room, remind myself that I can write tomorrow, turn my brain outward to face the real world and actually talk to my real husband. As soon as I do, I’m glad I did, because he’s hilarious and interesting, and reader, that’s why I married him.

In summation: if you’re sharing an office with your spouse: ignore them. And then don’t ignore them. Repeat.

 

On… Sunday’s On The Phone To Monday

A few months ago I met Christine Reilly, a new author whose book, Sunday’s On The Phone To Monday, just came out. We chatted about writing and publishers and novels and copyedits, all the usual author stuff, and she’s just the loveliest woman ever.

She was kind enough to offer me an advance copy of her first book, read it, LOVED it, decided to blog about it, procrastinated as I have mild blogphobia and most of my posts take me a month to review and then in the end I don’t post them anyway, wrote a little review, decided to wait a week or two to review my review because writing is rewriting and I hate reviews that give you the whole plot of the book and also blogphobia, and now here we are.

Sunday’s On The Phone To Monday is AMAZING. And you will love it.

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This an incredibly beautiful and thoughtful novel about family and sisters and music and growing up and – most of all - love. All kinds of love. It gave me that thoughtful dreamy feeling afterwards. I felt peaceful and happy and nostalgic for a New York City childhood that wasn’t even mine. I adored it.

I also adored the soundtrack to the book. Sunday’s On The Phone To Monday’s playlist punctuates specific moments in the story perfectly, and puts your brain in the right year at the right time – from Tracy Chapman and Tom Waits and Elton John and even The Beatles. Such a nice touch.

Please check it out, not just because you’ll love the book, but because you’ll also love Christine – she is funny and charming and stunning, a born novelist with a sharp-but-thoughtful writing style that makes you simultaneously relax into, and engage with, the story. This book is going to be a huge hit, and she has a giant career ahead of her…