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please remember me, happily

I don’t know what to say about 2011.

This year was too full to be easily condensed into a December 31st blog post.

Everything looks different than it did this time last year, and only partially because I have new contact lenses.

I have a new life, in so many new ways.

I’m still adjusting.

Only one star in my hair this year. That’s as much as I can handle at the moment, though I also have the moon around my neck.

(I suppose now I have some sort of tradition of New Year’s Eve webcam photos in which I don’t look at the camera.)

I thought a lot about what the song of the year was, but in the end there wasn’t any competition.

 

It was an almost-ten-minute-long song kind of year. An angel kissin’ on a sinner kind of year.

A frightened trapeze swinger kind of year.

Apparently safety nets are overrated.

So, hello, 2012. I hear you’re supposed to be the end of the world.

Strange how endings feel so much like beginnings.

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flax-golden tales: a year of you

a year of you

This year required a lot of bottles. I’m not sure how many, I didn’t count. More than last year, but I didn’t know you last year, which still seems strange.

I needed a very large one for tears cried. More than most years, but the whispered adorations bottle is almost as substantial, and I’ve never needed a whole bottle for unexpected moments of bliss before. It balances, I think.

It was a multitude of bottles sort of year, varied in shape and size and contents.

Now they’re all sealed and catalogued, ready to be stored on their shelf.

I have plenty of empty ones for whatever next year will bring.

I wonder how many of them you’ll be in.


About flax-golden tales
. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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belated post-tour musings & photos

I am always surprised by these last days of the year. They sneak up on me, hiding behind the holidays with a brand new year in tow. I think, “wait, what?” and then it’s January. Every time.

This year is probably worse than most, though, since the last few months have been so busy, though the fall tour is already seeming like a dream in these dwindling days of 2011. I know there are stories that I meant to share that never made it onto the blog (I had such grand plans to do a blog post per tour stop, I really did) but I suppose this will have to do, a late December post of camera-caught images and a few already gone moments in between.

Being on a book tour is a travel tease, you get to see cities from car windows and rarely if ever have proper time to explore. I found this particularly frustrating since I haven’t traveled much, but at the same time it’s like having a little sampler platter of cities. During my second trip to Toronto I had some free time and actually got to see the city from very high up:

One of many views from the CN Tower. I did get to see a fair amount of the city from the ground as well, including a lot of really good food, but it was the only city where I got to have a proper very high view.

Also falling into the interesting view category, on my second very short trip to London, this was the view from my hotel room window:

For those of you playing along, that is St Pancras station, and I was staying at the hotel that is the former Midland Grand, both of which appear in The Night Circus. Also I don’t believe I mentioned before that during that 24 hour trip to London I unexpectedly met Audrey Niffenegger because we both happened to be having lunch in the same teeny tiny restaurant and this is apparently the kind of thing that happens in my life now and also she is delightful & lovely.

I thought about doing book tour hotel superlatives, like Yummiest Room Service Breakfast (Raphael Hotel in Kansas City: portobello & goat cheese omelet with a parmesan potato cake!) or Largest Hotel Bathroom (the Alexis Hotel in Seattle, I have lived in apartments smaller than that bathroom) but then there were too many lovely hotels and I got into weird categories like Most Swoon-worthy Elevator Doors:

The Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee, all fabulously art deco and you have to pull open those doors, of course. I have a thing for art deco anyway, I think the desk lady thought I was weird when I kept taking photos of the elevators and the light fixtures.

Also while in Milwaukee (in Oconomowoc, technically) I had an event I can’t say was Best or Favorite but it was a particularly nice, something extra thoughtful in the post-reading discussion, maybe I was in a thoughtful mood because I’d found out that Steve Jobs died just before we started (The Night Circus was written on several different Apple computers) and I don’t even remember everything I talked about but it stands out in my memory nonetheless.

There are so many things it seems like too much to have occurred in such a comparatively short amount of time. So many wonderful booksellers and red scarves and readers, it is still so strange to me that people can visit a place that existed in my head for so long, and it is so many people in so many different places. Maybe that’s why I am still dizzy from everything despite the fact that I’ve been post-tour for a while now, though the holidays are always dizzying in their own sugar plum way.

I took this photo in Austin, Texas:

I think perhaps it’s my favorite photo of the tour, for a lot of reasons but mostly because of that “so much” added in different handwriting. That’s what the tour was, really. That’s why it’s difficult to capture in words and pictures after the fact, because it was so much. So much. People and places and airplanes and books and wine and chocolate mice and love.

So much.

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flax-golden tales: holiday cheer of the reluctant variety

holiday cheer of the reluctant variety

I despise the holidays, consumerism and plastered-on merriment wrapped in festive ribbons and shoved down my throat before I’ve even taken my Hallowe’en costume off.

Every day a sale and fighting to find the best deals and the biggest tree and Santa Claus on soda cans, though I suppose that one is proper historical tradition by now and not just seasonal marketing.

Still, once it gets down to the dark days of December, there’s that something in the chill air. Something quiet during the longest nights of the year.

With twinkling lights on strings.

And eggnog lattes.

Hot chocolate and candy canes and that horribly intoxicating evergreen tree scent that’s practically mind-altering and the damned Vince Guaraldi Trio and their perfect Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack.

And a well-timed snowfall.

It makes it difficult to Bah Humbug.

Dammit.

 

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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coffee table/books

This is my coffee table. My coffee table has not been this clear since before the book tour. I am far too pleased about the clearing of the coffee table, even though it quite possibly involved cluttering other tables not pictured.

I am having one of those days where I have a lot to do so I am procrastinating by cleaning off my coffee table and eating chocolate very seriously as though by treating the chocolate eating as something important it becomes a more productive activity.

Anyway, on to something somewhat productive, I have been meaning to do a post of my favorite books of 2011. Note that they are favorites and not bests. I shall break them in to categories.

 

Favorite book published in 2011. (This one is a tie.)

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I lived in this book for a good month, because it is three books and a total of nearly 1,000 pages. I had a very battered galley copy by the end and now my gorgeous hardcover is sitting next to it on the shelf. I was worried that I wouldn’t be satisfied with the ending after so much time and so many pages but  I really was. It’s hard to explain, it’s like 1984 but different. It’s surreal but in a realistic way. It’s a book to live in for a while, sometimes stopping and looking up at the sky to count the number of moons.

Habibi by Craig Thompson. This book is gorgeous. Gorgeous. It is a book to pet and “oooh” over before you even get to the story within it that is equally beautiful. The lines of Craig Thompson’s artwork make me weak in the knees and the lines of the art in this book are so fluid they almost seem to move, as though the ink has yet to dry and wants to stay in motion. Calling it a graphic novel doesn’t properly express what it is, it’s a work of art. Also, Craig himself is lovely and huggable. I know because I’ve hugged him and the fact that I have hugged the person who created this lovely thing amazes me.

Favorite book published in 2011 that I have not technically read. (Though it is on the aforementioned coffee table.)

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton. Okay, so I haven’t read the book but I have read and loved it in internet form (harkavagrant.com) so I know what kind of brilliance is contained within these pages. I have two book tour regrets and they both involve not meeting people despite being in meetable proximity, one of those people is Ron Charles and the other is Kate Beaton, I know she was at IFOA in Toronto at some point but our paths did not cross which is probably good because I might have fangirled all over her.

Favorite book I read in 2011 that was published in a year other than 2011.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. This book had been on my to-read radar (hadn’t even made it to the to-read shelf) and when I was in Mississippi I happened to have enough time to browse books at Turnrow Book Company and found this lovely little edition that happened to be signed and since it was small enough to fit in my bag I had to get it. It then became travel reading and I loved it to bits, for a book that is so much about music it feels like music, soaring and heartbreaking, grand and intimate all at the same time.

Other favorites published in 2011 that I will not elaborate upon to save space:

The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Other favorite books read this year but published in years other than 2011:

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Every novel ever written by Dashiell Hammett.

That’s the list, though I didn’t read much that I disliked this year. Fables should have some sort of honorable mention even though I’m still working my way through, and I’ll be surprised if Angelmaker doesn’t make the list next year since I’ll be finishing it as 2011 turns into 2012. And now you probably have a better understanding of what I mean when I say my taste in books is eclectic.

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flax-golden tales: beautiful uncertainties

beautiful uncertainties

“Why do you do that?” he asks me, while I’m rinsing off my brushes.

“Why do I do what?”

“Why do you write things you don’t believe on the tables?”

“I believe some of them,” I say after a moment, watching the blue and red paint-tinged water circle the drain in almost-purple swirls.

“You don’t believe that one,” he says, balancing a tray full of empty teacups on one hand so he can point at the still-damp letters.

find the beauty and adventure in uncertainty and you will be free

“I’d like to.” I can’t look him in the eye so I focus on my paintbrushes instead before adding “Maybe someone will read it and think whoever wrote it must have believed it and that will help them believe it, too.”

“I wish you’d just believe it yourself,” he says.

When I look up he’s already taken his teacups and walked away.

 

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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merry & bright in new york

Spent the beginning of the week in NYC, having lunches and meetings and wandering around looking at twinkly lights. Part pseudo-business trip, part getting out of my apartment for a little while. My train down was subjected to zombie shenanigans, though Amtrak claimed it was “tree branches” knocking out “power” on the tracks. Got to New York about five hours late and had to change a lunch to a next-day breakfast but other than that everything was lovely. My first trip to Manhattan in about five years was almost a year ago, just post-holiday rather than pre-holiday though everything was still twinkly-lit. That was the first time I’d met my agent and my editor and September and real book things still felt very far off. What a difference almost a year makes.

Back in Boston now, trying desperately to manage the pre-holiday to-do list and wondering why all the blog comments from the last two weeks seem to have disappeared. Hrm. I shall try to tackle that mystery at some point, in between everything else on the list. In the meantime, here are some festive photos from New York.

 

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flax-golden tales: the way home

the way home

I am tiring of paths that lead to walls.

I know each wall will have a door, but they’re difficult to find and even more difficult to open, and it takes up so much time.

They’re roadblocks. Pathblocks, since there are no proper roads.

Sometimes it feels like I’m looking for a place that doesn’t exist.

Or if it does, it doesn’t want to be found.

At least, not yet.

I wonder how long I should keep going.

I wonder if I have a choice.

I wonder if I’ll recognize it when I get there.


About flax-golden tales
. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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stars

Since a few people have asked, for the origami stars I followed these instructions. They’re pretty easy, the only complicated part is cutting properly sized paper. Sometimes the edges are hard to squish evenly, but that makes for slightly lopsided stars that look rather endearing in their lopsidedness.

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you used to write magnificent.

I get a lot of spam comments on the blog. Like a lot a lot, so I apologize if real comments get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish real comments from spam, like this morning there was this one:

Hello, you used to write magnificent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your tremendous writings.

Which made me feel sad until I noticed all the other information just wanted to sell me an iPhone 4s, and I already have one. It has a fabulous Leontine Greenberg GelaSkin and everything:

But yeah, I miss my tremendous writings, too. Not that I’m certain I ever wrote magnificent (or magnificently), but I used to be able to write vaguely thoughtful things and I’m sorry that I haven’t in a while to the point where I feel sad about spam comments trying to sell me things I already have. Though usually they’re trying to sell me Zunes, which I do not have and do not want. Also a lot of them lately are about babies and escort services. Not usually at the same time.

I am working on two other blog posts, one is a belated tour catch-up with photos that I did manage to get off of my old phone. And there shall be an epic post about Writing and Publishing because I keep getting asked for Advice and I figured I should try to cover some of it here. (A forewarning: it will be more Thoughts and Personal Experience than Advice.)

But this post is not about those things. This post is an attempt to get back to posting about what’s going on with me because the heart of any blog is narcissism. And cats, but we’ll save the cats for later.

On Thursday I was given less than 24 hours to write a piece about NaNoWriMo for NPR and I very nearly said no but then decided since NaNo is about writing under a daunting sort of deadline it was absurd to decline just on principle so I wrote it and sent it and thought that would be that. Friday I got a call at noon that they liked it so much they wanted me to record it for All Things Considered that afternoon. I got this call while I was still in my pajamas doing my laundry. So my Friday afternoon was more interesting than I’d anticipated, and you can read & listen to my quickly-written rambling over here.

This weekend I read several volumes worth of Fables, which I am loving like a lovey thing and will likely curl up with again later today. I’ve been meaning to get into it for a while and finally read volume one about a week ago after it had been sitting on my shelf for ages and immediately ordered several more volumes.  (In non-graphic novel reading I am working my way very slowly through Nick Harkaway’s upcoming Angelmaker). I also ate a lot of good food and did a lot of laundry and taught myself how to make origami stars.

I’m not very good at them yet, but I’m making them with laser printer paper since that’s all I have on hand at the moment and it doesn’t make for the most elegant origami. I like them, though, they’re fairly easy and they turn out all poofy with lots of personality, even if most of them are somewhat lopsided.

Also this weekend I finally got to see The Muppets, which I have been giddily excited about for ages. I grew up on Muppets. I saw The Great Muppet Caper in the theater when I was about four years old and I think it’s the reason why I am still obsessive about sitting through the credits at any movie because my dad and I were the only ones left when Gonzo takes a photograph of the audience at the end. I’d had high hopes for this film since it seemed like it was aiming to capture a very classic Muppet tone and I wasn’t disappointed. I was actually so wrapped in a glorious nostalgia-hug that I teared up a few times, I cry easily and have been particularly emotionally fragile lately but I’m certain I would have gotten verklempt anyway. And laughing and crying at the same film seems rather appropriate right now.

I’m still in post-tour recovery mode, though I’m feeling slightly more alive. Maybe too alive. I’m a mess of nostalgia and fear of the future and I’m not sure how to be me anymore because my life has changed and expanded so much in the last year or so. I’m not sure I should even tell the internet such things, but old habits die hard.

For now I am trying to adjust to my life as it is right now and making poofy little paper stars. Wondering how, exactly, to write magnificent.

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