Joyce Hinnefeld


Friday, November 28, 2008

Finding My Place among the Slow Bloggers

Once again, a few things have happened since I last posted on this blog. An election, for instance. That was a happy, happy occasion in our house. We drank champagne with fellow Obama supporters in our neighborhood, and we brought along sparkling juice for the kids, who took turns sporting Anna’s “Yes we can!” banner.

On November 16 I did a reading at yet another wonderful independent bookstore: Politics and Prose in Washington, DC ( I’d been looking ahead to this reading throughout the fall, wondering how it was going to feel to be in Washington twelve days after the election, feeling like I hardly dared to hope that it would feel good. But look at how it all turned out—pure joy to be walking those streets. (At our local Quaker meeting on the Sunday after the election, our friend Donna Hartman showed up in a “Proud to Be an American” t-shirt, and I found myself wishing for a shirt like that too. Imagine!) In the morning before the reading, Jim, Anna, and I peered through the gates at the White House. If only Anna could have gotten to know Sasha in the past . . . . We joined her in sighing with regret. All those missed White House sleepovers!

Carla Cohen makes Politics and Prose feel like a big, warm home for book lovers. Maybe it’s because I’m writing a guest blog on motherhood and In Hovering Flight, but I do keep thinking of Carla as this warm, wonderful, motherly presence. It was a good reading, and great to connect with old and new friends in Washington that weekend. More pleasure in the rich life of an independent bookstore—in this case, one that’s been operating or 25 years.

And more again on November 24, in New York, when I joined Unbridled author Erica Abeel ( for a reading at McNally Jackson Books ( Thanks to Jessica Stockton Bagnulo from McNally Jackson for arranging this event, and to Libby Jordan from Unbridled for being there to give Erica and me such a gracious introduction. This really was old home night for me: friends from so many parts of my past—all the way from my own days as a college student through my recent years of teaching at Moravian. I’m grateful to all of these dear friends who showed up to support me, but I have to put in a special word for my beautiful and brilliant friends Eva and Todd. Honestly, you too haven’t aged a bit in the (dare I say this) twenty-five years I’ve known you! And such scintillating conversationalists!

Okay, E. and T.: How was that? That’s more play on my blog than anyone’s gotten, I believe (with the possible exception of my daughter).

One last note: I was so pleased to discover that I’m not, as I’d been feeling, a negligent blogger. Rather, I am part of what the November 23 Style section of The New York Times calls the “slow blogging” movement (

Actually, I would like to write more about the whole blogging thing (including my constant, nagging sense that I’m failing at it) sometime. Maybe when the grading for this semester is all done. Also my nephew Andy’s wedding, and the Christmas shopping. And the guest blogging and chatting. And some non-digital writing that I’d really like to be doing.

I suspect I’ll always be among the slowest of the slow.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Overdue Thanks—and Why We Write

It’s been too long since I’ve posted something here; too much student work to read and respond to, too much traveling, and now, too much nervous—and also exhilarated—anticipation of the election tomorrow.

I had a wonderful visit in the Midwest from Oct. 24 through Oct. 29—terrific events at the lovely Joseph Beth Booksellers store in Cincinnati and at my alma mater, Hanover College in Indiana. It was great to connect with family and old friends. Lots of time spent sitting at kitchen tables, talking politics. I came back to more of that in our house here in Bethlehem, at a little Halloween party for our daughter and some friends and their parents, last Friday night. I can’t recall an election with this much energy and this much, well, hope in the air.

Thanks Mom and Dad, Stu and Susan, Rita and Kirk for hosting me in Indiana and Cincinnati. Thanks to dear old friends and relatives who traveled to Cincinnati and Hanover to see me. Thanks to Barb and Micheal at Joseph Beth and to Rhonda Burch and Jon Smith at Hanover for making all these things happen.

And thanks to Charles at The Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, where I signed more First Edition Club copies of IHF this past weekend, and to the wonderful Ramey family for hosting me, for taking me to the sumptuous Red Square for dinner, and for giving me one remarkable view of the Rockies Sunday morning before breaking all records to get me to the Denver Airport on time.

Okay yes, this is starting to sound like my acceptance speech, so I’ll stop thanking people now. One other quick note about going home—in my case to southern Indiana. Every time I return there, every morning jog seems to remind me of why I write. This time it was jogging past the old paper mill in Brownstown, my home town, where I worked in the office one summer, between my freshman and sophomore years of college. It’s abandoned now, and grass and shrubs are taking over the parking lot and the office entrance. I used to come home from that job reeking of cigarette smoke (remember when people smoked in offices?), but I loved the hard-smoking, hard-living people I worked with there—people who’d been way too tough and way too cool for me to have known them well in high school.

Jogging by that parking lot on a gray Monday morning, suddenly, for a moment, I was right back in that summer. I wanted to remember every single detail; it all seemed so important at that moment. It was a cold, gray morning, there was nothing else in that quiet end of town but a couple bars and an insurance company office with one lone woman working inside, and I felt desperate to hold on to all of it. I don’t know why that mattered so much to me.

My dad says the company recently paid some back taxes, so there’s speculation that the paper mill might open up again one of these days. Who knows? Things are changing everywhere. Driving west from Brownstown to Cincinnati, I saw over a dozen Obama/Biden signs. Things are most definitely changing