The other day, a well-meaning acquaintance asked if I was “still on vacation.” And I was, all, ha! Vacation! Yes, that’s exactly what this is...a veritable spa getaway! You can enjoy it, too, even if you don't have a seven-week-old handy. Just sit around your house in drawstring pants writing thank-you notes and, every two or three hours, arrange for someone to come over and scream at the top of his/her lungs, then attach a clothespin to your tender bits and leave it there for twenty minutes. Repeat indefinitely.

Not that I’m complaining. Phoebe is the kind of baby who lulls you into a sense of competence and mastery suggesting that you are good at this baby-having thing. In the middle of the night, as she stares adoringly at your forehead, you will think to yourself that you could even have ANOTHER baby if you wanted one (ha!)

She is happy to hang out in her stroller or her sling, at home or out on the town. She sleeps in restaurants and coffee shop and through Patriots games. She cries when she’s hungry. Otherwise, she’s content to lie in her basket or bouncy seat, gazing thoughtfully at the light fixture and belching, which is more or less how I spent my junior year of college.

Also, she likes it when you sing “Bicycle Built for Two” or “You Are My Sunshine.”

The good news is, in between “Rock of Love” marathons and thank-you note writing, I’ve been getting a fair amount of reading done.

Sue Miller has a new book out that I do not recommend for new mothers. My shelfmate Joseph Weisberg has a new book out, too – I have no idea whether it's good for new mothers, but it looks interesting. Max Apple has a funny/sad collection of short stories that I would recommend highly to new mothers and everyone else even if we weren’t related (it's called The Jew of Home Depot, which may be the best title ever).

Alice Munro’s old book has a new cover that is generating some discussion.

Stephen King’s new book should be here today (I pre-ordered). And doesn't this book look an awful lot like that book?

I am slooowly making my way through Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth – yes, I know, another Oprah-anointed dude, but at least he’s not among the critically-beloved brethren whose books I’ve read already, and I’m liking it so far.

And I’m even writing a little bit, here and there. When you’ve got a book to promote, you go to magazines and say, “Want to write about my book?” And the editors say, “We have an even better idea. How about you write something for us, and we’ll mention the book at the end of it?"

I’m working on magazine pieces about friendship, about being competitive, about why you should not sleep with your boyfriend in high school. The problem is, all of the magazines want you to have epiphanies, so that your essay can end with a pithy assessment of the Life Lessons I Have Learned From my friend, or my competitive nature, or my high-school boyfriend.

Needless to say, life does not always provide a tidy, print-ready lesson. But I’m trying.

Jen