Tonight I saw some leaves fall, the first of the season, and I tucked myself deeper into my jacket and laughed out my excitement. It's autumn, my favorite precursor to my favorite season. Everyone gets back to business this month; everyone tries to remember what it is they're paid to do. Everyone lets the laziness linger as long as possible, sure, but there's no escaping the lost sunlight, the passing of time, the packed agendas. I had a board meeting tonight and during it I had to remind myself being present is a choice; good ideas sprout from listening. When I came up with something well-received it was like digging up a grave I'd forgotten was buried; a hand reaching up through the dirt. My mom once asked me if I spent my days in meetings, wonder lacing through her words, and when I told her yes, and some nights too, she sighed and said she was jealous; my mom, whose work taxes her muscles and forces a diet of Advil and early bedtimes.

So fall is ringing the bell, and this weekend I'll spend one last weekend on the beach, only it'll be a different beach, in a stunning house with my closest friends for my bachelorette party. In three weeks I'm getting married and I can't wait. I can't wait for the day and I can't wait for my life and I can't wait, honestly, for it all to be over so life can be normal again, so life can be about what's for dinner and who paid the cable bill and where are we going for Thanksgiving and what's on TV instead of crossing things off a spreadsheet. When fall finally settles in here in New York, I'll be away, chasing the sun down south, clinging on to what's left of summer, and I'll return in end-October with a new season of my own.

On this rainy Friday

I dreamt of lying on benches, waiting for trains, with quotes circling the air like thought bubbles I could reach out and touch. I fell asleep feeling guilty about how the days pass so quickly; sometimes it will be dinnertime before I know it, and I've spent an entire day only talking about work, and there are never enough hours to call my mom. But I woke up to rain and a new attitude, humming the Demi Lovato song I haven't been able to get out of my head. Several months ago I told my sister about a book she should read, only I got the title wrong -- I was supposed to say The Age of Desire and instead I said The Age of Miracles. And it's a good thing I forget titles as often as I do, because she then read The Age of Miracles and said, "Morg, it's not about Edith Wharton like you said it was, but I think you should read it anyway."

I finished it last night on the train home, savoring every moment. (And then I read the acknowledgements, where the author thanks people I know, and I was reminded again how small this planet is.)

Writing utensils

Two or three years ago for Christmas, I asked for a particular kind of pencil. I was writing my first manuscript at the time, and my friend, a writer herself, had gone crazy for this pencil and told everyone she knew that it was the best writer's tool ever.

And I wanted to be like her, so I asked for it, since my family is always asking me what I want for holidays and I never know what to tell them, since I have everything I could ever need. (Except a popcorn popper. But that's on my birthday list this year.)

I am here to announce I barely use this pencil.

Tonight I'm writing a chapter that's due Friday and I'm deep into it, sitting at my desk, the sirens and music of Hoboken leaking through my open window. It is warm out, y'all. Warm and the kind of sticky that makes me kick off the sheets in bed and wake up with a damp hairline. (Or perhaps I am just sensitive to heat, as I've been told.) And I'm alternating between writing in Scrivener and reading this synopsis I have and I went to grab a highlighter and noticed the pencil, the infamous Christmas pencil, instead. And here I am, clicking it to lengthen the lead, and drawing a tentative line with it, and realizing the truth of it all is that I just don't use a lot of writing utenstils of any kind, let alone the lead kind.

The other truth of it all is that I have the most incredible mother, who asks me what I want for Christmas and then listens to my answers, and keeps a meticulous list of what she spends on each of her four children and one son-in-law and evens it all out to the penny because she is so concerned with equal distribution of presents.

I went down to my parents' house this past weekend for Mother's Day, and on Saturday night I finally had dinner with my mom alone, just the two of us, which we never get to do anymore. I admitted to her that I still hadn't gotten her her Mother's Day gift yet. The clock was ticking -- literally, there were mere hours until the day itself, and if you know my hometown, you know there's not much in the way of boutiques there. I hadn't even gotten her a card.

And my mom, the champ she is, pulled into the Walgreens on our way back to her house, laughing the whole time, where I ran in and joined the dozen other slackers in the card aisle, and picked out the best card I could find. It played music and had a fairy with wings that really flapped on the inside, which made it a winner.

She's a winner, too. She's the biggest winner I know.

This pencil, however, is not. (Sorry, Sarah. I know you love it.)

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My love for General Hospital is not really a secret, but it's also not something I bring up in everyday conversation.

That's partly because, let's face it, it's kind of a guilty pleasure. There's a reason I watch soaps (ABC only please, thanks): I have vivid memories of my mom watching them while I'd be playing in the bedroom with my sisters; they would often gang up on me (ah, sisters) so I'd escape to the couch and curl up into my mom for some comfort. Then, in middle school, somehow All My Children became the show to watch (Tad was back, which was a big deal in the early 90s); I got into One Live to Live when Marty's rape trial started in the mid-90s (thanks, mom-mom!); but by my high school  years, it was all GH, all the time. Truly, talking about GH was a bonding routine for me and several of my friends and classmates. There was even some sort of long song/limerick that I *wish* someone had thought to keep.

I lost the thread sometime in college, when classes and clubs and life intervened; and then, working my first "real" job didn't leave any time for soaps. (Also, this was pre-Tivo, so.) But then, magically, I got back into it a few years ago. It still makes up a solid 5% of conversations with my family, since we all watch.

Anyway, for a writer, watching soap operas can be infuriating. The plot meanders--some episodes are tight and enticing, others are redundant and boring, and still others simply make no sense in the context of the show's history--and the dialogue can sometimes be so overbearing and silly. I mean, not on GH, but definitely on those other soaps ;)

But being a close watcher of soaps has helped me with my writing, I would argue. It's shown me that there are protocols any script must follow; that characterization, pacing, and plot are all equally important; and that mostly, the storylines and the sub-storylines need to fit into the larger concept of the show's theme. General Hospital, for example, because of its name, can never get rid of its hospital scenes, which means some portion of the main characters must always be either a. working doctors or nurses or b. continually getting shot, afflicted with amnesia, or undergoing psychiatric evaluations.

Sometimes GH fails, spectacularly. But at least I'm always learning from it, even if it's just what not to do.