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MEET ME AT THE PLAYGROUND, my novel in progress, is a story of a woman who loses her mind and in the process finds herself again.
Meet Me at the Playground is a Hero's Journey tale of Kate McDruben, born and raised in the university town of Circletown, Ohio--home of the World Tractor Pulling Championship. As the fitness editor at You, Only Much Much Better! magazine, where she learns the art of alliteration and brainstorming catchy coverlines (7 Minutes to Fab Abs: The Laughing Workout and Fidgeting in Your Sleep: Blast 500 Calories Overnight!) But that was before: Before she got dumped by her boyfriend He Who Shall Not Be Named, the Rad Or Bad columnist at Cycling Today magazine, in favor of the yoga-pant editor at Namaste magazine. Which is how she finds herself on the eve of the new millennium, in the middle of a snowstorm with her Honduran neighbor Jose and Larry the Ice Cream Truck Driver, in the back of a bodega drinking tequila, wondering if this indeed was the end of the world as we know it.
She decides that night to move to her dream city of Portland, Oregon. And things go well for a while--writing her Boost Your Booty articles and writing matchmaking profiles for site Seek.com, where she concocts her own criteria list (number-one criteria: Thou Shalt Not Wear Peach Pants). But that was before: Before the recession forces her to take a copywriting job at Pratt PR, where frightened 20-somethings teeter around in high heels and speak in hushed tones about billable hours and leveraging results. Amid the Devil Wears Prada-like atmosphere at work, coupled with the Portlandia explosion that had turned her once nirvana town into a circus of ironic hipsters and clowns, Kate experiences her second existential crisis: Who am I and where do I belong?
They say that help comes in unlikely forms. A New Age Bookstore owner, a communal dog, and a woodchopping, Carhardt-wearing stranger help Kate start to unravel everything she thought she was. Which is how she finds herself on the top of Mount Tabor in the back of a cop car, trying to explain that no, she wasn't trying to break into the water tower, she was just canoeing with The Three Wise Men is all. A short stint in the loony bin later, where she plays a dysfunctional game of bingo and learns to make a mean egg-salad sandwich with her buddy Rob, and Kate finds herself feeling back at square one: home.
Meet Me at the Playground is a story of letting go and coming back to your true self. And if it feels like you lost your mind, don't worry--you won't miss it.
Painting by Katie Marelli.
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