As of today, April 1, 2011, my blog and web site are up and running! Ready for visitors!
Visit: www.kristinbairokeeffe.com OR www.writerhead.com
See you there!
As of today, April 1, 2011, my blog and web site are up and running! Ready for visitors!
Visit: www.kristinbairokeeffe.com OR www.writerhead.com
See you there!
Hey y'all. I know, I know...it looks like I'm neglecting this blog once again. And I suppose I am, but now it's for a terrific reason. I'm putting together a brand-spanking-new website and blog!
I am so excited about this. I want to reveal it all to you today...but can't. Still a secret.
So hold tight and keep checking in. Sometime in the next few weeks I'll be directing you to a new blog.
Posted at 12:38 PM in Books, China, Craft, Expats, Fiction, Memoir, Path to Publishing, Reading, Shanghai, Social Media, Thirsty, the novel, United States, Writing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: author, blog, China, expat, Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, repatriation, Shanghai, Thirsty, writing
A few weeks ago, my husband, daughter, and I were eating lunch at my favorite diner in Newburyport, and things were going along nicely--great eggs and sausage, happy chatter with our almost-three-year-old, back in our old stomping ground, no major tantrums, etc. Then halfway through the meal, two women and an elevenish-year-old girl sat down at the table next to us, and almost immediately, the older, blondish woman initiated what I call the "inquisitive stare" stage of trying to make sense of our family dynamic.
First, she took a long look at Tully, our daughter from Vietnam, and then an even loooonnngggger look at me and my husband, two folks quite obviously not from Vietnam. After assessing things for about seven minutes (enough time for me to finish one-half of my most-delicious grilled English muffin), the woman started doing the thing that almost always annoys the piss out of me...trying to meet my eyes because now that she'd gathered enough information and assessed the situation, she had something to say or ask.
But I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to eat the other half of my most-delicious grilled English muffin, enjoy the time with my family, and do my best to keep Tully's chocolate milk from spilling all over the table.
Unfortunately, the woman would have none of that. Eventually she wedged her way into our meal with casual comments about Tully: "She's darling." (Thank you.) "She really likes pancakes." (Yep.) "Is she going to eat all that bacon?" (Yes, indeed she is.)
And so on.
Thankfully, the woman had enough smarts to keep her real question to herself until my husband and daughter headed for the door ahead of me, but as soon as they were, she swooped in like an osprey going after a trout...talons first.
"When did you get her?" she said.
"Excuse me?" I said, delaying the inevitable.
"When did you get her?" she repeated, this time wagging her thumb at the door through which my husband and daughter had thankfully disappeared.
When did I GET my daughter? GET her? Seriously?
As I took a deep breath, I silently asked myself how wrong it would be to pour what remained of my daughter's chocolate milk over this woman's head. Very wrong? A little bit wrong? Not so wrong at all?
"Our daughter," I said, modeling adoption-friendly language in the same way I model proper sentence construction for my daughter, "came home when she was eight months old."
Then I turned my back and left, deciding that very wrong was the right answer to the chocolate milk question.
I kept my answer to this woman's question short, but here's the long version for anyone who's wondering:
You do not GET a child.
You get bangs.
You get taller.
You get an appointment.
You get a dog.
You get laid.
You get lucky.
You get UGG boots.
You get a new job.
You get a "B" on a test.
You get thirsty.
You get hungry.
You get pepperoni on your pizza.
You get here.
You get there.
You get a pogo stick for your birthday.
You get paid.
You get on a plane.
You get on a train.
You get in a car.
You get a margarita.
You get a glass of wine.
You get calls from telemarketers.
You get an engagement ring.
You get a foot of snow.
You get email.
You get the flu.
You get the common cold.
You get mad.
But you do not GET a child.
Photo by Liz Noffsinger / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you're a regular here at "My Far-Flung Life," you know that I haven't been getting much work done since late last summer when my family got news that we would be moving back to the U.S. from China (after nearly 5 years in Shanghai). At that point, my writing/work life pretty much came to a screeching/hollering/ba-ba-ba-banging halt.
Since then, instead of hunkering down at my desk every day, I've been "transitioning"--me, my daughter, my husband, our stuff, our life, our grocery store purchases, our snow boot supply, our...(you get the picture).
But today--January 3, 2011--my almost-three-year-old started preschool and I once again have a handful of sacred, silent hours to work.
Aaaahhhh! Sweet writing/working time.
And in the same breath...uuuuuuuggghhhhhhhh! Holy *#(!, I have way too much work to catch up on, like:
But honestly, after such a long hiatus, I've got no rhythm. I'm sitting here at my desk staring at the shadows the sun is making on the wall and getting absolutely nothing done. All of which got me thinking about what boosts my productivity and gets me working. Surprise, surprise, I got a list:
Stop Photo Credit: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Go Photo Credit: Scott Chan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Posted at 12:20 PM in China, Cool Things in Shanghai, Craft, Expats, Family, Motherhood, Path to Publishing, Reading, Shanghai, Social Media, Travel, Tulliver, United States, Writing | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: author, back-to-work strategies, China, expat, Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, motherhood, preschool, repatriation, Shanghai, Thirsty
Today (the delightful 1.1.11) I'm giving a nod to Chris Brogan and Susan Murphy (a.k.a. SuzeMuse) for sharing the New Year's non-resolution these-are-not-goals 3-word strategy. I love the idea of setting forth three words that don't represent specific goals, but that express the energy and direction of all I want to accomplish in 2011.
So with no more than a few moments of thought behind my three words, here goes:
TAKE ROOT-- (yeah, two words, I know...but one thought) -- Since receiving news of our recent repatriation from China to the U.S. (way back in late summer 2009), I've disengaged...a lot. I had to; for me, there was no other way to move my family from one side of the world to another AND manage all the emotional, geographical, physical, financial, and career changes that accompanied it. But as my family slowly begins to take root in our new town and our old-new country, I'm feeling the urge to once again reach out and engage...take root myself.
THRIVE -- "to grow vigorously : flourish : to gain in wealth or possessions : prosper : to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances" (pretty self-explanatory, yeah?)
CONSTRUCT -- Just what it implies. I'm a'building this year. Dreaming. Drawing. Seeing. Constructing. Inhabiting. Taking risks. Changing the skyline. Inviting. Sharing what gets built.
And you? Three words?
Posted at 08:24 PM in China, Cool Things in Shanghai, Craft, Dreams, Expats, Family, Motherhood, Path to Publishing, Shanghai, Social Media, Thirsty, the novel, Travel, United States, Weird Stuff in China, Writing | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 2011, 3-words, author, China, Chris Brogan, expat, Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, resolutions, Shanghai, Thirsty
It's early morning. My daughter and husband are still sleeping. Our sea shipment arrived from China a few days ago so in the early morning light I can see our happy chair, our giant-beautiful Chinese wedding cabinet, Tully's English/Chinese books (shoe/xiezi, mouth/zuiba), and a photo of the three of us in Shanghai. Despite the sudden presence of these very concrete objects, China feels very far away, as if it were a dream, not a city/country where I spent the last five years of my life. As a writer/human who develops and depends on visceral connections to place, I admit that I have been knocked off my game by this tectonic life shift. I'm doing a lot of thinking/dreaming/wondering/pondering about how to proceed from here...how to incorporate all that I learned/absorbed/witnessed/questioned during my life in China...and how that is going to inform my writing, my teaching, and my life back in the U.S.
That's where I am today. Stay tuned.
Posted at 07:12 AM in China, Cool Things in Shanghai, Craft, Expats, Family, Motherhood, Path to Publishing, Shanghai, Travel, Tulliver, United States, Writing | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: change, China, expat, Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, life shifts, Massachusetts, repatriation, Shanghai, U.S., writer
It's Thanksgiving (well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving). And we're here in the U.S for turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, zofric peas, family, giving thanks...THE WORKS. Here in the U.S. for the first time since 2005. That's a long time without a home-grown American Thanksgiving with family. (Sure, we did our best every year in Shanghai to celebrate and we did good, but there's no place like home.)
I know, I know. I have been neglecting this blog. But I've also been neglecting my writing, my friends, my hair, my husband, my nails, my clothes (who cares if there's a giant black spot on my shirt over my left boob and a rancid stain on my jeans?), my accumulating stacks of paper, my workouts, and more (Did I say my hair? Definitely been neglecting my bird's nest hair.)
The only thing I haven't been neglecting? Tully. This transition has been confusing and a little tough on her, but she and I have been spending every waking (and many sleeping) moments together...and it's lovely. We love the library in our new town! We love the free snacks at Whole Foods!
So I'd keep writing, but guess what? Tully is a hollering from her room.
Happy Thanksgiving! I promise, this blog will be back up to speed soon, soon, soon!
Tags: China, expat, fiction, Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, novel, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Shanghai, Thanksgiving, Thirsty, United States, writer
At this time last year, I was celebrating the publication of my novel THIRSTY. I was still living in China, but was in the U.S. promoting the book...joyfully running from event to event. It's hard to believe an entire year has gone by.
I had big plans for this anniversary (balloons, giveaways, blog posts, etc.), but instead I've spent the month of October repatriating to the United States after almost 5 years in China. There's been little time for anything else.
But in the few moments between plane rides and packing and trying to get our two-year-old settled into a routine, I've been quietly re-celebrating the fact that my novel THIRSTY is out in the world for readers to find.
Now...back to the repatriation thing.
Posted at 04:02 PM in Books, China, Cool Things in Shanghai, Craft, Domestic violence, Expats, Family, Fiction, Path to Publishing, Reading, Shanghai, Social Media, Thirsty, the novel, Travel, United States, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: China, domestic violence, expat, Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Shanghai, Thirsty, travel, writer
October 13 or so
The (very tired, jetlagged, wornout, but good, healthy, and happy) eagle (a.k.a. me) has landed. As of very, very late Monday night (which was actually very, very early in the morning on Tuesday), I'm back in the U.S.
Sorry it's been so long since my last post. Of course, I'd planned to blog during our 10 days in Ireland, but--ah-hem--it didn't happen. Too much life going on to pause for the written word. (Actually I just typed "written world," which is some type of perhaps-not-Freudian-but-maybe-Freudian slip.)
So I'm here. And the sky outside is that crispy blue that blesses New England on perfect days in the autumn. The leaves are deliciously crimsony-buttery-ochre and although I had to force myself out of bed this morning, I did & was rewarded with a perfect sunrise during my walk/run/walk/run/mostly walk with a little running.
Been thinking about tons of stuff while I haven't been writing:
A Few Days Later
I'm thinking about China a lot. As expected. Today, Andrew, Tully, and I took a mile-long marsh walk in the woods. It was symbolic of everything I missed so much when I was in China. Trees and grass and sky and clean air and quiet and crunch-under-foot and the smear of colors and THAT smell and so on. I hugged trees, said hello to rocks, introduced Tully to various bugs, and waved to the ocean.
One thing I did manage to do during the past few weeks was read Jonathan Franzen's FREEDOM, and although I was bored and annoyed for the first 100 pages or so, by the halfway mark, I was hooked. And gobsmacked. It's pretty darn good. One of the first comments I started making early on in the book was "It is SO American." And that feeling got stronger and stronger as I read...the characters are SOOOOOO American. Perhaps this stood out so much to me since I'm in the process of repatriating to the United States after almost five years in China (or perhaps other readers were aware of it as much?).
During my time in China, I became acutely aware of what others think of Americans...how we're viewed...the positives and negatives. This is a complicated topic of which I'm barely scratching the surface...so bear with me. One of the things that hit me hard while reading FREEDOM is that in the U.S. we have the privilege of passion. In other words, we get to be passionate about any damn tiny thing we want to be passionate about (like Walter and his token bird) and we're allowed (for the most part) to act like nutcases about it. (more later)
And A Few Days Later Than A Few Days Later
Earlier this week, I got sick. Really sick. Like with a fever and everything. I felt like the stuff buried under the filthiest sludge in the world. I was in a daze and could barely function. I'm surprised and not surprised that this happened in the midst of this repatriation. Physically and emotionally, I'm spent.
A week ago (pre-fever), I got ambitious and attempted to do a bit of rewriting on the novel. That surge of creative energy lasted all of 35 seconds, but I tell you what, in that 35 seconds I finally rewrote a sentence that has been bugging me for months. And all it took was one word. One simple word: windy. So even though the surge was shortlived, it was successful. (At this rate, I could finish writing the novel by 2083.)
OMG...I love crispy green seedless grapes. F'in awesome. I missed them.
Signing off now. This surge is subsiding too.
Posted at 02:33 PM in China, Cool Things in Shanghai, Craft, Expats, Family, Fiction, Ireland, Motherhood, Path to Publishing, Reading, Shanghai, Travel, Tulliver, United States, Weird Stuff in China, Writing | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: China, expat, family, Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, repatriation, Shanghai, Thirsty, travel, United States, writer
You know what I'm thinking after re-reading my blog posts from the last 4.5 years? Good gracious Mavis...I've been in China for a good long time. I've seen a lot. I've done a lot. I've explored a lot. And now? Some days I feel like I know something about China; other days I'm pretty sure I don't have a clue.
Posted at 02:44 AM in Adoption, Books, China, Cool Things in Shanghai, Craft, Dreams, Expats, Family, Fiction, Motherhood, Path to Publishing, Reading, Shanghai, Social Media, Thirsty, the novel, Travel, Tulliver, United States, Weird Stuff in China, Writing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: adoption, China, expat, family, fiction, gender, Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, novel, Shanghai, tea, Thirsty, travel, writer