Introducing Cleo

It was the expression on her face that did it. She was the only cat with that particular intelligent expression, the mixture of curiosity and seriousness – her mouth almost pursed – which made me think this is my cat. The description of her was that of an affectionate special needs cat; she was diabetic and would need insulin shots twice a day. I was not particularly disturbed by that at all. So I made an appointment to come in and meet her.

It took approximately a millisecond before I knew I would be taking her home with me. A more affectionate cat you’ve never seen. Also: chatty. She talks, chirps, meows, mews, purrs, trills, and wheedles. It is like living with a feline version of The View.

I have to give her two insulin shots a day. Today was the first day where I am 100% sure I did it correctly. She even purred through-out it.

I never realized how much of a cat person I am. She’s really wonderful. This is Cleo:

My Personal Facts About The Olympics

Today is the opening of the Olympics. I’m psyched about the Games and thought I’d share a couple of quick thoughts about them and about my own personal history with the Olympics.

1. My sports (meaning the ones I always watch) are gymnastics and the 5k and 10k. Some years, I can also get really jazzed up about diving.

2. You can read about my encounter with the graceful and beautiful Mary Lou Retton here.

3. I once dated an Olympic athlete. He was a douche.

4. I wrote Godspeed during the Olympics of 2000. The Games were in Sydney that year, and I was obsessed. The story of the missing Olympian had been marinating for a while, but it was that period, while watching the competitions, that I wrote the story. I held it back for all these years because it just never really felt like the right time to put it into the world. Well now it feels like a good time.

5. I met Bill Bowerman right before he died. I’ve also met Bill Dellinger. If you know who these people are, you’re obviously as into Oregon track as I am.

6. I still feel amazing pride when a US athlete wins the gold.

7. I hope the US team DOES NOT dip the flag in the opening ceremonies. The Games are not political. That kind of statement violates the spirit of the games.

8. There are a lot of good Olympics ads right now. So far, this is one of my faves:

Godspeed

My new mystery, Godspeed, is now available on Amazon!

It isn’t actually a “new” book. I began writing it in 2000 and put it away for a long time. As I was editing it, I could see things that now I would have written differently, but I left it for the most part exactly as it was. I wanted it to have its weird, sharp edges. Here’s the blurb:

Natalie Bratton is an international track star, just weeks from fulfilling her dream of competing in the Olympics when she suddenly vanishes. The few clues left in her wake are ambiguous. Police suspect she’s dead while Natalie’s husband, architect Sean Beckwith, believes she’s vanished to protect a shocking secret. Determined to find her, Sean plunges into an investigation that will reveal new discoveries about his wife — someone he barely knew at all.

Faced with the opportunity to protect her secret if it means never seeing her again, Sean must decide what are the limits of love and how far he will go to unravel a decades-old conspiracy.

Sylvia Plath Found In England

We were in a small picturesque town – Petersfield – where I’d just had my first proper English cream tea. He suggested we stop into the used bookstore. It was undergoing a renovation and chaos reigned with huge unordered stacks of books all over the place:

I busied myself looking at old maps:

As we left, he handed me something. I held in my hand a tiny volume of Sylvia Plath poems:

Delight! Joy! Even awe!

I opened it to find an intriguing bit of marginalia:

It is now one of my most prized possessions.

Godspeed

[This is the prologue to a novel I wrote many years ago titled Godspeed. I never published it anywhere, but since it is to do with the Olympics, I might just edit it and put it on Amazon. Maybe.]

I am running on the edges of sheer cliffs where cairns are touched by red tendrils of a dying sun, a last goodbye until tomorrow. My shadows against the sunset atop wave-and-wind buffeted cliffs look like frozen images of monks and priests and samurai facing uncertain destinies. This is the stuff of soap-opera title sequences. Of dreams.

Only it isn’t really a dream, exactly. More like a memory. A memory superimposed over the great bloody red sky. I am running, but it feels like flying. I’m no longer on the cliffs of Malibu, but racing on the track, where I come off the backswing and fly through the straightaway. I’m making the crowd levitate: they are on their feet, shouting my name.

The landscape is a blur but I can see the finish line with absolute precision. My vision narrows: space and time have contracted to this, the love of the game, these last few seconds. The love and the terror collide inside my heart and the climax comes just as I cross the yellow finish line. Just in time.

Maybe it’s like a dream for you too. To have been an American girl in this, the last year of our century. Maybe you barricaded yourself up in your bedroom with your best girlfriends, watching the news on television while outside your windows and down the street police and rescue workers searched for some trace of evidence, some bit of cloth or skin. Even years later, you remember the throngs of volunteer teams in orange windbreakers searching up and down the Hollywood Hills, blocking traffic at peak hours. Day after day, the airplanes and search helicopters buzz in the air, droning endlessly as they hold siege over Los Angeles like big predatory insects. Maybe you watched the debates on television that lasted all night long. Maybe you even took a side: those who waited for a ransom demand an those who waited for a body.

Searching her out, desperate for any mention of her name. How many candle-light vigils at the UCLA track can you attend like a pilgrimage for a forsaken saint until you just give up? Or: finding yourself in Tower Records buying CDs in the middle of the day and suddenly it occurs to you she is still part of this city, and that you should maybe pay a bit more attention to the crowd. It’s foolish, you know, but you’re like that sometimes, thinking maybe she will snap into focus from a reel of pedestrian foreheads. You try and scan the crowds long enough to pick out a nose or set of eyes, some mark of individuality.

No Natalie though. Just a glint in the mirrors of salvation on what should be an Ordinary Day, leaving just a thought-shadow where she should be.

I know. Of course I know.

My name is Natalie. I’m the one you’re looking for.

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