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My doctor told me that I have a Vitamin D deficiency so now that we’re back to Normal [Daylight Savings] Time I’m soaking up the sunshine of these fine early Spring days.

Meaning that when I make my afternoon G&T I take it outside and sit out in the backyard for the 11 minutes it takes for me to drain it. Sitting in the sun makes a cocktail healthy. It’s a fact.

I’m all about restoring the mind-and-body on this second week of vacation. My other mentally and spiritually healthy activities include catching up on my reading, taking long walks through the neighborhood, treating myself to a fine tea-time pastry (sometimes those last two things are one and the same:)

I also try to go to my Happy Place as often as possible, the place where I feel safe and calm and rejuvenated.

I go to Ikea.

Specifically, I go to the Ikea House, the 600-square-foot fake home that my local Ikea has installed on its main floor as an example of the pristine Ikea lifestyle.

It’s like walking into a Scandanavian vision of domestic perfection where there’s a place for everything and, most importantly, everything is in its place.

Clean lines, blond woods, small-scale sense of what it takes to be complete.

This would be my work room. I would thrive in such simplicity. I can see me having only one thought at a time here, no room for conflicting or competing ideas, no debris from non-sensical or overly-complicated notions about life, art, self, or DoG. I could be pure in this room.

I find great comfort in imagining my life in the Ikea House, limiting my intellectual and emotional baggage to just what I could stash into Scandinavian closet space. The Ikea House would fit in half the downstairs of my dusty, cluttered, cat-infested 100-year-old-house on the Long Island Sound. The rationality of living the Ikea Way comforts me against the baffling stupidity of modern life.

The latest pop cultural dope-slap to my sanity is a book titled 50 Shades of Gray. Have you heard of it? It’s a monster: selling in the hundreds of thousands as an e-book, it’s just been bought by a mainstream New York publishing house for 7 figures. Now, I don’t begrudge any author’s success (which is not true; I begrudge the success of any and every author who is not me) but this soft-core porn/romance novel is a piece of shit from page one.

But it’s what hundreds of thousands of women around the world (the book is Australian) want to read.

Really? Really???

So, faced with the utter futility of my writing career, filled as it is with non-porn notions of what makes a book worth reading, of course I want to crawl into the security and rationality of the 600-square-foot Ikea House.

Except when I want to quicken my pulse with Ikea-esque porn. Which is this:

The 315-square-foot Ikea Apartment.

Getting back to the title of this post, I want to ask my dear readers: Do you know what is up with Boston? I’ve never sold many books in Beantown, or in all of New England, really – I’m too Pacific Northwest for the entire East Coast is what I tell myself — but all of a sudden When Wanderers Cease to Roam is selling like Red Sox T-shirts at the Cheers bar in Boston. It started last month and is still going strong: Boston is outselling (outbuying?) every other part of the country combined. No one at Bloomsbury can explain it, and Amazon only gives me raw data (and a spiffy map of the U.S. with Massachusettes lit up like an Xmas tree). Are readers there using the Wanderers dust cover to hide their copies of 50 Shades of Gray?  

Can anyone tell me why Boston has recently become one of my favorite cities in America? Yes, dear readers: Boston is my new Happy Place.

Where is your Happy Place, and is it cocktail hour there yet?

P.S. I forgot to tell you all that I’m speaking at The Writers Salon at Hofstra University on Monday, April 2, 2012. Here’s the info:

Hofstra Continuing Education is proud to host monthly “Writers Salons” that feature guest speakers, faculty and student readings, on- and off-campus field trips, and the opportunity to network with fellow writers. The Writers Salons take place on the first Monday of every month (except June, July and August), and are free and open to the public. For more information, visit, email or call 516-463-7200.

Save the date for thisupcoming Writers Salon:

7-8:30 p.m.

Monday, April 2

  • Author/adventurer/illustrator Vivian Swift will be speaking at the next Hofstra CE Writer’s Salon on April 2 at 7 p.m. to inspire writers and art journalers to take their work to the next level. A former jewelry historian and Faberge expert at Christie’s auction house in New York, Ms. Swift is the author of two illustrated travel memoirs, When Wanderers Cease to Roam and Le Road Trip and has been called “my favorite travel writer” by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Ms. Swift will discuss her unlikely career path as a writer and offer her tips on getting real, getting down to business, and getting published. The Salon is free and open to the public. You may register online, or by calling 516-463-7200.

12 comments to What’s up with Boston?

  • August

    I will send you cash in the mail if you write a BDSM novel with watercolor illustrations.

  • Carol

    Good Morning! Barnes and Noble has a very brief slide show of Le Road Trip on their website. The book just looks BEAUTIFUL!! I cannot wait to see it!!!!

  • My happy place is somewhere where the sun is shining, not here in the Great Pacific Great Northwest where it has been raining for a month. You should come here in Spring (AKA the Season of Disappointment) to paint the rain in all its many varieties.

    My home, “Dog End”, is 630sf. It is not simple — it is entirely cluttered with whimsical stuff — and it is most definitely one of my all-time Happy Places.

  • Jen

    Ha! That doughnut! I love finding random stuff while out for my walks. Once I found a pile of baked beans and hot dogs. The next day, the ‘dogs were gone but the beans were still there. That same week I found an unopened package of chicken livers in the ditch.

    My happy place: Diving from the sun-warmed granite boulder that slopes down into Kilburn Pond when no one else is there and I feel like it’s just me and the birds. Otherwise, a long solo car trip. I swear by those as therapy.

  • Jacqui

    I sold my “happy place”,my 1971 VW camper.
    In it we could happily find lots of happy places.
    From reading this, I see that I do need to find another happy place.
    Ugh Ikea places. They look as tho they should be inhabited by Barbie and/or Love Dolls. Or, robots.
    Boston. Gee, it must be their grapevine, social networking over a belated discovery of a must have book that makes a great gift. The Boston Buzz.

  • Shelley

    My happy place is anywhere near a beach (and for now that means the Oregon coast). If I can get sand and salt water on my feet, and smell the sea breeze, I am one happy camper (only my idea of camping these days is a nice cottage or condo with a whirlpool bathtub, lots of comfy chairs, a fireplace, and a king size bed)!

    I agree…ugh to Ikea…it just feels too cold, and sterile, and soul-less to me. I’ll take my funky fixer-upper home, cluttered with books, and candles, and houseplants, and too much stuff, and a couple of cats, and a nice full wine rack, and not a white wall to be found anywhere within.

    Books, cats, wine, and bright colors…now that’s a happy place!

  • Nadine

    August! I’ve missed you!

  • I can lay claim to three of those new book sales in Boston – they were the gals in my workshop last week where I was reading your self-deprecating blog. I’m sure they took my advice and bought a copy when they returned home. We’ve already pre-ordered Le Road Trip! I’ll read it in my studio – my happiest of happy places!

  • janet bellusci

    happy place: the 1851 farmhouse and land i live on now, which makes it very difficult to want to be anywhere else.

  • Happy places
    - Beautiful walkable beaches
    - Comfy sofa with cat on lap (and favorite libation in hand)
    - Indie bookstores that have a cafe & comfy chairs for hours of browsing
    - Beautiful walkable beaches
    - Art museums and their gift shops
    - Flea markets in rural Spain (the best!)
    - Beautiful walkable beaches

  • Deborah

    Although I’ve never been to an Ikea store, I totally get how the sleek and unclutteredness could be soothing. But my happy place store was Nature’s Magic, a store owned by a pharmacist which sold herbs and had all kinds of crystals and new age-y things to look at, very cluttered in a delightful way. I didn’t have to dust it! But it went out of business a year ago, so I’ve lost a happy store place.

    Most happiest place is outdoors, preferably somewhere where there is no traffic noise, or where the bird song almost drowns out the car sounds.

    I burst out laughing at the donut and at Jen’s discoveries — would love to know the stories behind those things. I don’t think I’ve ever found cool stuff like that, and I feel deprived.

  • Jeannie

    My Happy Place is Seaside, Oregon in a 1920 bungalow. I walk into town for wine and chowder. I walk along the beach to refresh the soul. I want rain. I live on the dry side of Washington State. The Seattle side is getting rain/snow. I have sun and cold wind. Soon enough I will be griping because it is too hot, but not yet.
    Bostonians are an odd lot. Who knows what motivates them. Perhaps the Red Sox are playing in Paris and the loyal are using your book to make their travel plans.

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