You don’t have to be an alien to be mystified by life on Earth

It’s a weird time for me right now. In less than two weeks, my new book will be out, and I’ll be on book tour, stress-sleeping in hotels and smiling in front of what I hope will be rooms of people, drawing cartoons in people’s books with my special felt signing pen. I will hopefully go to Grand Central Market in LA and have a cup of coffee while trying to scam a seat where I can eat sticky rice and chicken. I hope to meet my six-month-old niece in Seattle.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the middle space of where I am now, how I know that—soon—my emotional world will be split open, like I am a piece of fruit and someone has stuck their fingers underneath my skin to pull me apart, fresh from the tree. (This metaphor works both because the fruit is living out its destiny, and because it’s a little grotesque.) I know this, and yet I am also in the time before, when things are relatively peaceful. I can’t yet access the full force of that stress, the thrumming of possibility and hope that will digest me piece by piece.

How can it be so close and yet not here? How can I be calm, and yet already  insane enough to write the above paragraph in all sincerity?

Now, in late May, Tucson has been enduring temperatures in the high 90s/low 100s for a couple of weeks, and I’m able to fool myself, as I do every year, into thinking the weather won’t get more intense. If it was just this it wouldn’t be so bad; I could live with this. Cool mornings, occasional wind. The garden is still growing, not yet sapped and exhausted by the sun. Heat is just a force, right now, not yet a weapon.

Sunflowers are opening. They’re already so tall.

INVITATION TO A BONFIRE is getting great pre-publication notice, good reviews, and I am watching nervously because I want so much, and it’s all out of my control now. Everything is rolling downhill towards me, and I am getting ready to meet it, to leap up and embrace it with my arms thrown wide. There will be good things, there will be bad things. There will be sun and wind and rain.

If nothing else I can always look at pictures of Cate Blanchett on the internet and feel the icy breath of her style, her hair piled high and her neckline plunged low, and it will soothe me.