Monday, March 30, 2009

Needful Things

In times like these, some fashion items cross over from accessory to necessity. Like this this,for instance.* There was a time where I was going to make a necklace out of my wisdom teeth dipped in bronze, but it turned out that making it was far more work than just acting like I was going to do it until the novelty wore off in my mind.

In other news, I have lost my voice for what is now the second day. The first (yesterday), it was this little cracking, off-key, in and out honking voice that rasped up at the end of each sentence, making them all seem like questions which made it sound like I was an undergrown goose with a cold.

Today, it's so bad it's a whisper. I never have lost my voice before, but I remember being twelve and wanting to, because I thought it sounded sexy. It, as it turns out, sounds like emphysema, which is decidedly un-sexy. Luckily any jobs I have require me to write, not speak, and now that I'm working from a variety of coffeeshops and living rooms, I can just tap all day. I need that computer voice so that I can communicate with people. You know the one.**

*Thanks for sending, CD!

**How do I use that? I'm pretty inept at computer programs but assert that because I have a Mac, the option's got to be on here. I mean, I could record play the guitar on this thing, or so says some icon at the bottom of this screen that I'm not cool enough to click on.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Poster on Gawker Sums It Up Best...

About this AIG mess from today's Gawker comments:

"I'm sure there are individual bankers who did their job, did it well, and probably deserve some extra compensation. But the notion that these bonuses are somehow promised compensation is absurd. Every employer I've ever worked for that offered bonuses took great pain to specify that bonuses are just that - an add-on to your salary. They've also taken great pains to specify that the terms of the bonus can change almost without notice.

I don't begrudge (some) people in the financial services industry their money; they do a job that, in many cases, I don't understand or comprehend. But the notion that hundreds of millions of dollars are required to retain "top talent" - in many cases, talent that oversaw the actions that got us into this damn mess to begin with - is absolutely absurd, and not in keeping with, you know, the overwhelming majority of Americans. Regardless your level of employment, if you work for a firm that was required to take bailout cash to continue functioning as an organization, I'd say that pride in your organization is misplaced (regardless of what area you work in). I work in support operations, and if our marketing group does an awful job conceptualizing or releasing a product, the product is a failure regardless of whether the support operations are solid or not.

In short, fuck them."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Minetta Tavern: Crispy Pork Trotters, Lamb Saddle and Grand Marnier Souffle...

Sure it's the most impossible reservation to get in town, but that didn't stop my more-than-lovely friend Emily from inviting me to be her date to Minetta Tavern's opening week. It helps to have friends from the food world...

From FOOD & WINE and my darling friend, who described what we ate better than I ever could:

"Even better, chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson (who, as alums of Balthazar and Pastis, are used to running popular restaurants) are already turning out some great dishes, including tender Berkshire pig's trotter mixed with mushroom duxelles and pork forcemeat that’s deep-fried and crispy. It’s a classic French dish that fits seamlessly with the bubbling cafĂ© vibe. Juicy lamb saddle with belly meat intact is excellent, and so is a bright, billowy Grand Marnier soufflĂ© flecked with orange sections."

Check out the rest of the article here and tell her she did a great job!

Everyone is Pregnant

Is there something* in the air? No less than four of my good friends are pregnant. Of course these fine young women are off married in other states. Is this a suburban** vs. city thing? Or is it just the whole world against NYC thing?

Are we all destined to continue a prolonged adolescence in New York where we don't want to get married until 30 if even then or have babies until 35+?

So many questions remain unanswered. Like how they're figuring out to pay for school for their unborn, and how I'm trying to figure out how to pay for school***...for myself****.

*My choice not to use "semen" instead of "something" proves that I am actually mature.

**My choice to use "suburban" even those these lovely girls live in Seattle, Philly and Jersey proves that I have finally succumbed to the wave of pretension around me, and therefore am not mature, and am simply, a pompous jackass who thinks NYC is the end-all be-all of the world.

***My choice to apply to schools everywhere except New York proves that I am less of a jackass than previously thought.

****Less of a jackass, maybe. But no less selfish....hey no one's going to make my life cool for me. It's up to me to do that now. And you know, I promise when I have a baby I'll spoil it rotten. Until then, there are plenty (about to be) around to teach me how.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life Plan, Here We Go

I'm unemployed on a regular basis.

So I get to be lazy (between futile job searches and freelancing assignments and classes, that is).

BUT, not lazy in a usual sense. Systematically choosing new MFA programs to apply to has occupied my time (if at first you don't succeed, try try again--I'm looking at you 2006, the worst year of my life: Dad got cancer, my long-term live-in relationship ended, I changed into a horrible job and I was an absolute mess because my boss from the last job took me with her to the new and she hated it, I applied to schools because I liked how they sounded so far away, and I got in to some...with no financial aid, and decided that running off to Hawaii was not the answer to solving my problems, it was staying and facing them. It was hard, it was ugly and it was my finest moment. )

I'm inspired again (you know how I get that way) because my new book is just fun in a way that my old one isn't (God I'm sick of those old characters!). But I'm inspired by those around me, friends getting into spectacular programs: top ten in social work, top five in marketing, top everything. These are my friends, this is my group. I've got to hold up my end of the bargain.

So back to the flurry. I've enrolled in a Stanford writing course on Voice in Fiction, which (fingers crossed!) I will get an A in and then squeeze out some info from the prof on applying to Stanford's writing program (here's a hint, it's impossible to get into, ugh). I've enlisted an amazing editor to take a long hard look at my first novel about how to turn nearly good into definitely great (meaning I'm frantically changing things starting TONIGHT so that I can get it to him by April 10th). I've also tracked down some really prestigious writers who I want to get advisement on choosing the right programs for me, and the right writing sample--(I've got hundreds of pages to choose from and it's impossible to pick what's right). Oh yeah and I'm writing the children's book and hoping to get it to agents this summer.

Writing to come tomorrow, today I'm planning out my schedule and begging NYU to send me my transcripts from the ONE Tisch class I took which apparently all grad schools require the grade I received: B plus, damnit.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Excerpt from my newest book...for kids (some adult themes are explored, btw)...

Today I turned ten and guess what I got? A cake full of mayonnaise, that’s what.

Mom’s gone on another site dig, so Dad had to make the cake and let me tell you, he’s basically the worst at cooking. Whoever said the greatest chefs were men never met my lunch. When Dad makes my sandwiches there’s never any mayonnaise, just the baloney and the bread. So what’s with the mayonnaise in the cake, I say when I blow out the candles. He says try it.

Henry makes a face and takes a pretend bite when Dad’s watching me cause when it’s your birthday everyone pays you too much attention and stares when you eat. Henry’s too old to warrant Dad making a sandwich. Henry gets money instead. He’s in seventh grade so he’s at middle school. He gets to have a really big locker that he’s always forgetting the combination to. I’d never do that.

“Mmmm,” I say and just lick the frosting. Trails of smoke from the candles are swimming all around Dad’s face. I must have blown them to the side.

“You didn’t try it,” Dad says, and sighs.

So I take a bite. It doesn’t taste like mayonnaise. It tastes like cake. Maybe a little burnt, but it’s chocolate so it’s hard to tell. “Where’d it go?”

Dad beams like he’s won the lottery and we can all go live in Hawaii. “We were out of eggs and then I thought, what’s mayonnaise except oil and eggs? Two ingredients on the back of the cake box are oil and eggs, and here I had both, already mixed!”

I want to interrupt that my birthday was no time to play around, this was the most important thing I’ll eat all day, but I don’t. Dad’s a biomedical engineer, which is just a fancy label for scientist, and he loves breaking down and building up things. He thinks didactically. I forget what it means, but I suppose it’s an answer to some question I never asked.

So here I am, eating the cake and still Henry won’t take a bite. He doesn’t like what he can’t see. Dad loves that about Henry, says it means he’s a verifiable brain-in-training. I said Henry’s an idiot, and my supporting evidence was people can’t see planets moving or see evolution. That’s just a leap of faith. Henry said I got it backwards, as usual, and waved a book in my face, The Beak of the Finch. He said Charles Darwin saw it because he was patient, unlike me. I go, I’d read that book myself just to shove it in Henry’s face if it weren’t so freakin’ boring.

Dad said don’t say freakin’, it’s unladylike. Another thing Henry gets to do that I don’t. I’m supposed to become a lady and he gets to be a man, which aside from not being able to cook seems a lot better because you don’t have to wear lipstick and no one judges you by how big your bra is. Dad says talking about a bra before I need one is also unladylike.

You’re exasperating, I said to Dad, because he always says it to me. He said don’t push it, so I didn’t because, you know, he was making that face. He was making that same face to Henry about the cake so Henry took a bite really fast.

“Hey this isn’t half bad,” he says, and with his mouth full too. And then he keeps eating, just wouldn’t stop eating it. His piece was gone in like, a millisecond, I swear. I count in my head. At that rate, the whole thing would be gone in one point two minutes.

“Don’t pig out! Leave some, I want to eat this all week!” I tell him.

I’m starting to regret that my birthday party isn’t until next Saturday. You can’t have a party on Sunday night, not with your friends cause no one will come, so we’re having our little party as a family. Plus the bowling alley would be more fun on the weekends. Rachel and Andrea and Sammy have never eaten a mayonnaise cake, to my recollection. They would have told me if they did.

“I can make more,” Dad says, probably as a cue for us to pipe down.

So we all keep eating it and I don’t say out loud how I wished Mom were here to try it. She’s missed my birthday before—she’s an archeologist and is basically always gone—but I guess I thought she’d be here for my graduation into double digits, since today I turned ten. That’s a big number, especially now that I’m in fifth grade, the last grade before middle school. It seems important to have your mom around for that kind of a thing. But then again, I wouldn’t have had a mayonnaise cake if she were here. So I didn’t say anything about Mom missing the cake out loud. If she were here, it couldn’t have been mayonnaise cake at all. That’s what Dad calls an impossibility.

Lesson Learned?

So remember when I took the huge artistic stand? And was preparing to get fired from the publication? Well turns out, acting like a man about it (this is my theory, when I act assertive and full of confidence and like I don't accept something less than what's a little bit more than I'm worth, I'm not a bitch, I'm acting like a man...this gives me some sort of Oprah-esque boost where I prance around in unflattering pants and go "I'm FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABulous!") actually worked! (So far, I can be proven wrong at any given moment).

Throwing my theoretical balls out on the table showed everyone I wouldn't accept less than, pointing out the mistakes made in a non-threatening, non-emotional and somewhat authoritative way actually showed that I was a professional (mwah, hah, hah, they'll never know the truth) and I got respect in return! I mean, no one's asked me to write a feature or come on staff there or anything (pssst, I'm totes available to fill a position there, please please please?).

So uh, I'm worth it? Coincidentally which is also some sort of makeup commercial I think. Maybe she earned it? Maybe it's Maybelline!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Oh Brain, Where Art Thou?

Pardon me, I've been away,
Where exactly I can't quite say,
Burning bridges, Just about
Stamping career embers out....

Yes, about that. So there comes a time in every youngish-getting-old-as-hell writer's life when he/she is faced with a job opportunity which would essentially be managing person on a very large editing project but that is not offered full-time, nor permanent and would interfere with other projects that writer has going, so she has to turn it down. Fine.

But does that very same youngish-getting old as hell writer have to take an artistic integrity stand on another little project, one with a magazine she actually loves and hardly ever gets work from?

Because she spent so much time crafting a *fair and subtly balanced profile that was oh so nuanced (hey, we all think we're geniuses--zing!)* that after a revision became something she wasn't so happy to put her name on (PS Yes, said writer knows that she is an absolute nobody and does not have clout to flex) ?

With a bulleted email, no less, because the edit doesn't do the subject matter justice even though said writer kinda disliked the thing said writer was profiling? Bulleted in such a way so that the incensed email pointed out where the new director had not only substantive errors, but stylistic? Did said writer have to point out to editor, and by proxy, new director where they had made grammatical, fact-checking, and, by God, punctuation errors just to make a point?

In this economy, with this writer, the answer is yes. In the words of Homer Simpson, "I wish, I wish, I hadn't killed that fish."

SH*T. Guess I'm not getting hired there anymore. Hey, at least I fought the power...right? Right. Back to the children's book, which by the way is going seriously, it's pretty awesome.