Stephanie Burgis
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street music and macaroni joy
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I love working in a city center. On my way to and from the opera house, I walk up the busiest shopping street in Leeds, a pedestrian-only zone. In the morning, as I walk up towards work, it's relatively empty - mostly just people on their way to work, like me, are there, just a few stores are open, and I savor the emptiness, often accompanied the sound of a single steel drum being played on a street corner. In the afternoon when I get off work, the street is packed and heaving with people - not just throngs of shoppers, but street stands, people handing out free samples of strange products, and most of all, street musicians everywhere - on my way down that single street, I can pass up to six different music acts, from traditional Scottish bagpipers to really excellent Spanish flamenco guitarists, to some college kid soulfully crooning a Green Day song to an enthusiastic audience. It's all so vibrant, it makes me happy just to walk through it.

And when I got home today, there was a fabulous surprise to make me even more happy - wonderful Jenn had sent me the book Macaroni & Cheese: 52 Recipes, from Simple to Sublime. Talk about total comfort! I'm already salivating over the recipes. This weekend there will be much cheese cooking in our oven. Now the only question is, where to start...

And I'm starting to see things a bit more clearly with the Congress of Shadows revisions, for the first time in quite a while. The consensus among everyone who's read it so far is that the first 50 pages (roughly) just aren't grabbing, for whatever reason. (One of the things I need to figure out is exactly why they aren't, since so far everyone has a different angle on that. They're probably all correct - I just need to figure out how to mesh them all together.) On the other hand, so far, everyone who's read the whole thing thinks it gets much better, grabbier and more fun, after those 50 pages. So now I need to look really hard at the opening of the book to see how I can make it work. It's a biggish project, but it feels least when I'm looking at a book of macaroni & cheese recipes and still hearing flamenco in my head. What's not do-able, with comfort food and good music on your side?

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