Thursday, December 14, 2006

Guest blogger Kimberly Stuart

Captain’s Log, Supplemental

Today, I have mom-lit author Kimberly Stuart!

Kimberly's latest novel is Balancing Act

With her baby on one side and her career on the other, what’s a girl to do?

As maternity leave comes to an end for Heidi Elliott so does virtually everything she thought she knew. The substitute filling in for her high school Spanish classes has made a complete mess—not just with her students, but perhaps in way far more personal. Her husband has made a habit of going out of his way to help a beautiful, wealthy, thin client and to further complicate things, an old boyfriend has moved back to the neighborhood.

Fiercely independent, Heidi has never been one for group activities, much less church chats and teas. Pushed into accepting an invitation to the Wednesday night Mom’s Group, she finds herself in a sea of polyester, polka dots, big hair and, surprisingly, strong women, who just might hold the lifeline she didn’t think she needed.

And now, here’s Kimberly!

I like my marriage. I love my husband, he loves me, we coexist peacefully. My husband is a good man. He laughs at my jokes and buys me pedicures. He changes the raunchiest of diapers. He still finds me sexually attractive after birthing two children, or at least is smart enough to lie about it. But Marc does have one serious flaw that is contaminating our Eden: He can’t understand his wife’s fixation with books.

There were signs early on in our relationship. After the initial period of wanting only to drink in the heady pleasure of one another’s company, the fog cleared and we set about being normal people again. We went to movies, ordered take-out, and resumed interest in our hobbies. My hobby: reading. Marc’s hobby: badgering me until I stopped reading and played Frisbee. Our conversations went something like this:

Marc: Kim?

Kim: Mm? (Doesn’t look up from Plainsong, by Kent Haruf)

Marc: Are you going to be reading for a long time?

Kim: Likely.

Marc: Like, for how many more minutes?

Kim: Don’t know.

Marc: Wanna go ______ (for a walk? to the mall? to the world table tennis championships?)?

Kim remains silent in hopes that Marc will pick up woodworking.

Marc: Kim?... Honey?...

It isn’t that Marc is opposed to reading. He has two advanced degrees and has put in his time before the written word. This might very well be the reason for his aversion. For so long, reading was a means to an end, whereas for me, reading is the end. Bookstores and libraries beckon to me when I should be engaging in more practical activities like grocery shopping or memorizing the Bill of Rights. A roaring fire in the fireplace has little to do with listening to jazz or engaging in quiet conversation over a hot toddy, but it has everything to do with the new Barbara Kingsolver or another indulgent dip into Nick Hornby. The same is true for airport delays, road trips, waiting rooms, porch swings, dog walking and subway rides.

There have been a few sweet occasions when I’ve convinced Marc to read a novel. I can think of three within the last seven years, so we need to work on our annual average, but I will say he’s loved all three. So much so that he is insistent that everyone within his sphere of influence read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, and my own novel, Balancing Act. (There were some shady motivations involving his look at that last title, including a not-so-casual perusal of the Acknowledgements and sharing a bed with the author, but let’s assume the best.)

He still chuckles about Owen Meany and his squeaky voice. He has gifted numerous copies of the Enger book to all the males in our family, I suppose with the assumption that there’s a chromosomal aspect to its literary power. And he’s like a bulldog in social settings, working the room like Don Ho as he does PR for his wife and her writing.

I’ve concluded, then, that my husband is able to get sucked into a story and be changed by it. While he’ll probably always try to lure me away from my curled perch under the lamp and will never understand how I can choose books over sleep, I have reason to hope. In my heart of hearts I must believe that, on an afternoon ripe for badminton, Marc will look at me and say, “Babe, let’s just stay in and read.”

“What a splendid idea!” I’ll cry, letting him draw me into a heart-stopping embrace before jumping onto the couch, under a shared blanket, and into our books, gleeful on our shortcut back to Eden.

Camy here: Thanks, Kimberly!

Wish I could say the same for my S.O. He has yet to read a single book in the 9 (almost 10) years I’ve known him. Isn’t that sad? He’s currently trying to slog through my manuscript (yeah, the one that sold and is bringing in income to the family coffers).