Even pale people visit the beach

I spent yesterday at the Jersey Shore, Sea Isle City, to be precise. Instead of a traditional graduation party, Mer wanted to hang at the shore with her parents and some friends. Her dad and step-mom graciously offered the use of their house. Her dad took the Sat. night shift, and I turned up for the day yesterday. And yes, we had a blast – lots of laughs and food.

The weird thing was – I sat on the beach for several hours.

Why is this a big deal?

I am a survivor of melanoma. That is the really icky skin cancer that will kill you, if you don’t catch it early. I was lucky – I caught it early, which is why I am typing this instead of rotting in the earth. I was diagnosed in July 2002 and had the two icky pieces removed a few weeks later. I am now a vampire, afraid of the sun, sticking always to the shadows. This can be depressing. I’m always worried about being in the sun. I don’t swim in outdoor pools, or go for walks after 8 am. I garden on the shady side of the house.

Why did I get this? Nobody knows. I’m a fairly pale person – mostly English and Irish descent. I was never a sun worshipper because I burn easily. I did have a number of nasty, blistering, peeling sunburns as a kid. Doctors suspect that may have something to do with the development of the disease. The paler you are, the greater your chances of getting melanoma. And melanoma is the number one cause of cancer deaths of women ages 25-30. But anyone can get melanoma, even people of African descent. Please learn about this disease – information is power.

Like most everything else, it’s all about attitude. Since we took most of our kids with us on our honeymoon last year, we went to Universal Studios in Florida (I love roller coasters). A melanoma survivor in Florida in July?! It’s possible. I wore lightweight long pants, an incredibly dorky hat, and a special cover-up jacket, along with 40SPF sunscreen on my face and the backs of my hands. I hate having to dress up like the mummy to go outside and I really dislike gooping on sunscreen on hot, humid days, but those are cards I’ve been dealt.

And my beach day yesterday? The weather cooperated. It was cool and windy, so I was comfortable in jeans, sneakers, and a sweatshirt. And I wore a hat (hopefully not too dorky). Sunscreen was on my face and hands. Thank you slightly crappy weather for the great day!!

Some famous advice about life and sunscreen.

I missed it!

I can’t believe I missed Bloomsday yesterday! Gah! I’m an idiot. I love the writing of James Joyce. No, he’s not a beach read. He’s a challenge (at least for me). But he made the English language sing. If I ever write something that is one-ten-thousandanth as good as what he writes, I’ll be a happy camper.

Speaking of writing, that’s what I did all day. My WIP draft is maybe 20% done. Complications are begin to pile up nicely for my main character. While I have a vague sense of direction, surprising things pop up and that keeps it interesting for me. It helped that the temp is way down and I was able to turn off the air conditioning for the first time in weeks. The windows are all open and the apartment is comfortable for a change. If summer was always 75 degrees, I might like it.

Thanks everybody who wrote in with cover thoughts. It was fascinating to read them. I’ve also been reading Vonnegut, as someone suggested. I’ve chewed through three of his novels so far and I’m enjoying them.

Oooh! Oooh! I had another James Joyce thought. If you visit Philly this summer (which you should, except maybe not on July 2nd), be sure to visit the Rosenbach Museum so you can see this.

More on cover art

First – my walk. On my walk this morning I saw young starlings, goldfinches, house sparrows, and mockingbirds learning how to fly. They weren’t all learning together, though it would have been cooler if they had – you know, what with the economy and all, more and more bird parents having to put their toddlers in day care while they go off to hunt for worms and the like, so you’d see all the birds in these big schools (no – that’s fish), in these big fledgling flocks doing baby bird stuff. I also saw a red-winged blackbird chasing two cardinals. Have no idea what was up with that. Maybe a dispute about rent.

I was thinking about the pacing in my WIP as well. Right now it is set up to unfold over a 10-week period. Last night I almost convinced myself it should actually cover four months. This morning I came to my senses. I’m going to stick with the program until this draft is finished.

Yesterday’s comments about the book covers were fascinating. I keep thinking about what dirrtypop1 said, that she buys used CDs all the time based on the album art. So here is my question: do you ever buy CDs (used or new) based on the album art? Has it worked out? Do you buy books based on the covers? Are there any books you have not bought (or read) because you hated the covers?


Maybe when I finish my novel, I’ll apply for this guy’s job.

BH is driving back North today, so I am a little blue. We had dinner last night at a friend’s house, one of those awesome dinners filled with hours of good food and great conversation. Wound up staying much later than I thought we would, so I’m dragging a little today. I still don’t feel like my mind has clicked into gear.

I am too lazy to dust off the scanner, so here’s a link to the British version of PROM. (Ignore the word “audiobook” this is what the paperback looks like there.) You can also look at the British version of Fever 1793 and Speak.

What do you think of these across the pond covers?


Image hosted by TinyPic.com

Meredith marching in! (Guy on the right is a total stranger.)

The graduation was wonderful, simply wonderful.

Bad weather forced the ceremony into the auditorium. Because of that, only Greg (Mer’s dad) and I were able to see the actual event. But because Hatboro-Horsham in awesome, they televised the ceremony live on a local cable channel. So while we fought back the tears in the auditorium, the rest of the family: stepparents, various and sundry siblings, and friends, watched the TV and ate pizza in our apartment. One amusing note: I did not see a single person (not including the graduates) in the auditorium who was not carrying some kind of still or video camera. The amount of money spent on all those cameras probably exceeds the GDP of many small nations.

Image hosted by TinyPic.com Rowdy parents on the balcony.

I was wrong about the final size of the graduating class. It is 424 kids.

The students were nearly unrecognizable in their caps and gowns, which was fitting, because they left their high school bodies when they were handed their diplomas. Now they have to figure out how to fit into their new skin. There were many rounds of picture-taking after the event was over.

Image hosted by TinyPic.com Her pals (Mer is on the far right)

I did well, if I do say so myself. I limited my boo-hoos to about five minutes, and I think I managed not to embarrass my kid. We had a festive romp back at the apartment with the family and friends after the ceremony. We ate cheesecake, which I consider nearly a sacrament. A great day, all around!

Here’s to life, in the full fruit of its poignancy, here’s to love and to loss and to growth and to change.

Carpe diem, my friends: seize the day.