I have organized and reorganized my desk. My paperclips are in perfect color-coded order, my pencils are all evenly sharpened and lined up precisely. Until full-day Kindergarten starts (yay!) next week, I still have only a few hours in the day for my writing, reading, and the rest of life.

I have no shortage of inspiration and am finally starting to collect these ideas in actual files for later use rather than relying on my memory.

I also managed to forage through my parents’ attic, and I’ve rescued a small but fascinating collection of family photographs, documents, newspaper clippings, and letters. In addition to getting back to writing, I’ve embarked on a family genealogy project. This project is everything I love rolled up into one activity: mystery, research, and forgotten stories.

My favorite picture of Aunt Bea

I’m perhaps most intrigued by the story of my maternal grandmother’s cousin, Beatrice Tolnai (born 1909, Hungary). Aunt Bea had all the qualities of a Hollywood heroine. She refused to live by conventions. She always wore sunglasses indoors and impossibly high heels. Bea was undeniably beautiful, bold, had an incredible thick European accent, and seemingly lived entirely on her terms. It was as if she wrote the screenplay of her own life. Incidentally, she was an actual screenplay writer for United Artists as well as a translator of fiction (Hungarian to English) and a reviewer in the Saturday Review.

I have written a draft of a Creative Non-Fiction piece about her as I work on uncovering more about her most extraordinary life.