Cue head exploding

Have you ever had so much go on within a short span of time that you feel like your head is just going to pop like a party balloon? That’s how I feel right now. Don’t worry, I’m self-medicating with some Chinese food. I’m on top of this.

Yesterday and this morning involved a lot of back and forth over jacket flap copy for AUT, which is exciting but also nerve-wracking. Has anyone else noticed that it’s really hard to describe your own book? As the person who spent six years writing it, I feel like everything is important, and I don’t know how to boil it down to the essentials without frying all my circuits. Thank God for agents and editors, right? I’m so tired.

That might have a little to do with being out so late last night, though. One of the reasons I’m super lucky to be living in New York is that I have so many good friends here, and they’re all cool and interesting and into a hundred different things. I’ve managed over the course of a few months to pick up several guy friends who are amateur stand-up comedians, but until last night I’d never seen any of them up on stage. Me, Cambria and Nikki headed over to Gotham after work (short pit stop at Dallas BBQ for margaritas and chicken fingers, OBVS, as it’s right there) and were able to see our friends David and Brian (both incredibly funny) perform. There were a lot of funny people, and it was nice to see some lady comics, because when Bri and I went to Gutbucket a few weeks ago there was only one and she was…fine.

Speaking of Gutbucket, one of my favorite comics from that show performed at Gotham last night. His name is Luke Cunningham and I think he’s hilarious, that’s all.

Afterwards we went to Trailer Park, which is just down the street. It’s a kitschy little bar made up to resemble (what else?) a trailer park. I personally think it’s a little too expensive to live up to its name ($5 PBR? That’s highway robbery, that is) but the atmosphere is pretty great and the tater tots are to die for. We hung around with David, Brian, and a bunch of other comedians after the show, including one of the ladies, who I’m pretty sure I gave some material to, although quite honestly it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before on Sex and the City, so whatevs. MD also joined us after her date, bringing the party as always.

I got home around midnight, but then of course stayed up until one to finish Wintergirls, which is so wonderful and traumatizing. Some people don’t like sad, emotionally eviscerating books, but those are my favorite kinds, and Wintergirls is the perfect example. In short, I loved it, Laurie Halse Anderson is a rock star.

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2008 wrap-up

2008 was, in many ways, the best year of my life so far. I guess it’s pretty apparent as to why. It didn’t start off so great, or at least it started off a little “meh” as far as my life was concerned. I’d just gotten a rejection on the full of AUT on Christmas Eve, and I was back in New York after spending the holidays with my family in Chicago, which always sort of depresses me, 1. because I love my family and miss them when we’re apart and B. because I only like living in New York, like, 30% of the time. So. I had a job, I had an apartment, I had my best friend right there with me in the city, but everything was new, cold, and a little bit “what now?”

Then Joanna emailed me and I told her about AUT and she asked for the full and then offered me representation. Boom! I remember walking to Cambria’s apartment with her from the train and saying, “If Joanna offers me representation, this could change my life.” And it did! Three much needed revisions of AUT later and we’d sold it in a two-book deal, in a pre-empt, to Francoise Bui at Delacorte! It was a very exciting moment for me, and when I think about how unmoored and listless I felt last year at this time, I’m so grateful for (and amazed by) what happened this year.

2008 held all kinds of wonderful surprises. I made way more awesome friends in New York, including most of my coworkers who are angels sent from the Lord above, I introduced one of my California best friends to one of my New York best friends and they started seriously dating, two of my good California friends got engaged (not to each other, to their respective boyfriends), Kim and Jenny came to visit (Jenny, the girl half of the aforementioned couple, came three times this year!), Carmen and Tim (one of the aforementioned engaged couples) came this year, my mother came several times, my sister was here for three weeks for a film camp and I got to see her a bunch, my aunt Kika and cousin Emma came, my aunt Irene and cousin Michelle came, and I’m sure I’m missing visitors and other fun things, but my brain is not capable of remembering how great this year was in one fell swoop. I have to do it in chunks.

I read 72 books. That’s 8 below my goal, but maybe next year.

Professionally (aside from the book deal), I finished MB (well, the first draft anyway) and joined the Tenners, which is such a great community I can’t even begin to tell you (holla!). In my day job, I got a little promotion, which was grand.
I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’m proud of myself, I’m still excited about writing and reading, I’m still addicted to the Internet and Gossip Girl (and GG on the Internet). I think I only had the two fake boyfriends (Rob Pattinson and Ed Westwick) and one fake husband (That James McAvoy) this year, which means I’m starting to settle down!

You know how I celebrated the New Year? I mean, before going to Jenny’s NYE party? I SENT THE FINISHED AUT MANUSCRIPT TO MY EDITOR. Sure, it was New Year’s Eve and she wasn’t in the office, but it said December 31 on my contract, so I sent the manuscript in on December 31. I hope it’s finished. I won’t be upset to do more revisions, but I always like to make the best effort possible so I hope that at least the manuscript accomplishes what I wanted it to accomplish (it’s the new sections that make me a little bit nervous; other than that I think the MS is fine). We’ll see later in January. Until then, the rest of my MB revisions so I can send that manuscript to my editor. And THEN I can start working on new stuff! New stuff! I can’t believe it! I have a feeling it’ll involve proposals, but still!

I hope everybody’s having a great New Year’s Day morning (my brother’s had better, but I’m fine, if probably more tired than I feel). I think maybe later I’ll head back to Jenny’s to help clean up and then up to Cambria’s dad’s house to watch the Rose Bowl? We’ll see if I can tear myself away from my bed.

Charmin Bathrooms NYC: the full report

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That’s right ladies and germs, last night I made my first (of many, I hope, although it won’t be around much longer so I’d better take advantage while I have the opportunity) foray to the Charmin Bathrooms this year. If possible, it was actually better than last year. Yes! I know, how is that possible you ask. Well, it’s simple. The decorations were better, there was a Duracell station on the third level where I got to play Nintendo Wii for the first time, and there was a disco ball in my bathroom. Also, they took this picture and gave us a copy for free, and a website and code to download it onto our computers–again for free! The only thing that sucks about this picture is that there’s a spotlight above the sleigh and it makes Jenny, Cambria and I look like a trio of washed-out ghosts or something, and Eric is conspicuously in the shadows, which is just weird. Also, it’s hard to see the giant Charmin bear in the back of the sleigh behind our fatheads, but he’s there, trust me.

Cha-cha-cha, as the song goes

There are a lot of things I don’t like about living in New York, and if you asked me I could list them off to you by memory. Like how sometimes it’s the early morning and you’re on the train headed to work and you’ve finally gotten a seat and then suddenly a voice comes over the loud speaker and says that the local train you’re on, the one you ride EVERY MORNING, for some reason (it’s always “train traffic,” the vaguest explanation ever) is going to start going express from 72nd to Chambers. Because your office isn’t anywhere near an express stop, you have to get off, and wait on the other end of the platform for yet another local train to take you to work. This might not seem like a big deal in the context of, like, a global financial crisis or anything, but it is very, very annoying and, really, the last thing you need. The MTA is whackadoo today, people. I guess they’re just practicing their incompetence for the holidays.

BUT, there are some things I love about New York. Central Park. Dallas BBQ. Cupcakes. Convenient public transportation (MOST of the time). And, once a year, at that magical time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, THE CHARMIN BATHROOMS.

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For those of you who don’t know, last year Charmin (the toilet paper people) opened a giant public restroom in Times Square. This place is amazing. It’s two stories and there’s, like, 20 private bathrooms. When I say “private” I mean that it’s as if you’re using the powder room in your parents’ house–they’re real rooms with doors that have knobs, not stalls. The lighting is fantastic, it’s perfectly spotless inside, you have your own sink, and six different kinds of toilet paper to choose from (they like you to vote on your favorite type after you’re finished with your business, and then you get coupons!).

There is a merchandise counter (I picked up a nice comfy Charmin t-shirt last year…which reminds me, I need to find that thing), sledding bears you can have your picture taken with (OH WE DID), charming and friendly personnel, pre-stamped postcards you can send to your friends and family (most of my peeps threw them out because they thought they were junk mail, but it’s the thought that counts, and the postcard also has a coupon), and a dance video they play on a loop which is catchy, but awesomely so. They have people outside dressed like toilets saying things like, “You know you gotta go!” but not in an annoyingly heckling manner like some of the other sales people yelling at you in Times Square.

I have some pictures of us at the Charmin Bathrooms last year, but I just checked and, yup, I look awful in them. Hopefully this year I’ll be more photogenic. Until then…

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Moo-hattan*

*Probably the lamest blog post title ever. My deepest apologies.

It seems that winter has arrived in dear old NYC, because the temperature is in the low thirties (feels like mid-twenties, says the barely helpful weather website I use) and I’ve brought out my ugly black winter coat which, despite being ugly, is pretty warm and has lots of pockets for hiding things like gloves, ear muffs, receipts, movie tickets and even an old cough drop or two.

I can already kind of feel my body and mind going into hibernation. After an active summer in which I lost weight and got a lot done, I’m starting to slow down, eat more carbs, and opt to watch episodes of The West Wing instead of finish revisions of MB or write anything new. My apartment hasn’t reached the sauna-like levels we experienced last February yet (I’m sure that’s coming, though), but it is nice and warm, and the coziness helps with the laziness.

This cannot continue. I’m hoping to shake myself out of this malaise after Thanksgiving and get some serious stuff accomplished by Christmas. As always, inability to work corresponds with inability to move in my bedroom due to laundry and shoes everywhere and not putting things in their place. Organization always helps me get back on track, so because there are no football games to watch this weekend (at least, not any of my teams) and my only current obligation is a viewing of Twilight (!!!11!!1) on Friday night, I can do laundry, go to Trader Joe’s, read, and finish my MB revisions so that I can start my AUT revisions. Lots to do, lots to do!

I thought this might amuse some people. I got a package from my aunt last night full of all sorts of goodies–batteries for my cell phone, which was a very welcome gift because it’s gotten to the point where my phone is near death within hours of being charged (so far the new battery I put in works great), and even better, copies of my cousin Emma’s senior photos, her brother’s school photo from this year, and an extra special bonus picture of me that I’m guessing my aunt stumbled across in her house recently. Here’s the picture:

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Now, I have no idea what’s going on in this picture, and I’ve actually given it some thought. My guess is that I’m around three or four here, and I can’t judge by the facial expression whether I’m crying (possible, I was very sensitive as a young child) or just squinting into the sun and talking to whoever was taking the picture. My shirt says “Manhattan” on it (which is probably why my aunt sent it to me in the first place, other than that it’s sort of funny), but it has what at first I thought was a dog but now I’m pretty sure is a cow on it. Why would a shirt that says “Manhattan” on it have a cow on it? There are no cows in Manhattan, I live here, I know. I plan on calling my aunt on Thursday, so I’m sure I’ll get the full story then. I’d love to give this thing the LOLCat treatment, but I can’t think of a funny caption. Any suggestions?

Jobiversary

Today is my one-year jobiversary, or, if you prefer not to use ridiculous portmanteaus for every single thing in your life, my one-year anniversary of being at my job. This is very exciting because it occurs to me, outside of the job I had in college, which I had for four years but doesn’t really count because it consisted of sitting at a residence hall reception desk for three hours at a time, that I’ve never been at a job for a year before. This isn’t because of fickleness, but rather my first job, as an editorial assistant at a textbook publisher, ended at eleven months because I was going to graduate school, and since then, before this job, I’ve only had internships, which have an obvious expiration date. So good for me, I’m finally an adult, or some reasonable facsimile thereof.

Last week (November 2, actually) also marked my one-year anniversary of living in New York. This is a much greater accomplishment than being at a job for a year. Living in New York is hard, yo.

Happy Halloween or…something, whatever

I already talked about how I don’t like Halloween, and I don’t, but there’s no reason why other people shouldn’t like Halloween, so Happy Halloween everybody out there in blog land!

I celebrated Halloween yesterday, kinda, by going with some of my awesome coworkers to Roosevelt Island, where my friend Erin lives in this super cool apartment building that has its own rumpus room or whatever. For those of you not familiar with New York geography, Roosevelt Island is this skinny little island in the East River, between Manhattan and Queens along the Upper East Side and Midtown East. There are only two ways to get there–subway (the F has a station on the island) or tram. Yes, TRAM. Like the ones in Disneyland. That’s how we got to the island, although I’m not quite sure why we did that rather than take the subway, but whatever. It was fun, and the view was amazing, but also terrifying. I’m not acrophobic, but being suspended above the earth makes me nervous, which is the reason I don’t like riding in elevators very much, and I usually spend most of my energy in that sort of situation feverishly imagining plunging to my death. Nevertheless, it was really cool to get a different look at Manhattan. Oftentimes, when you live here or stay here for a while, you start having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees, and what should really amaze you just doesn’t anymore. It becomes too familiar, too everyday, for you to truly appreciate it for what it is. So standing on Roosevelt Island, with the Queensboro Bridge looming to my left and all of Manhattan stretched out and sparkling in front of me, was very striking, because it was different, but no less beautiful. Now I understand why Erin calls Roosevelt Island “my island”, because it really does seem like a tiny, private paradise in the midst of all the hubbub of the city.

Anyway, enough schmoopy stuff. For the pre-Halloween festivities we brought three brands of pumpkin ale (Post Road, Smutty Nose, and Shipyard, for conoisseurs), a bunch of pumpkins, and ordered pizza. The security guard in the building was this older woman who was really afraid we were going to throw a frat party or something, that she was going to come in at 11:00 and find somebody crawling up the curtains. We were like, “Yeah, we have to work tomorrow, so…”

We ate the pizza and chatted while The Rocky Horror Picture Show played in the background, then we got down to the business of carving pumpkins. Now, I did not carve my own pumpkin, because I am lazy and didn’t want to carry it all the way back to Morningside Heights, so instead I just “consulted” on Erin’s pumpkin. Really, I just helped everybody scoop out the insides of their pumpkins, which is my favorite part of the whole process. Alex’s pumpkin was an amazing likeness of Jack Skellington, from Tim Burton’s claymation masterpiece The Nightmare Before Christmas (the one aspect of Halloween I can TOTALLY GET BEHIND–I might actually go pick it up at Best Buy on my way home). Mary’s was a cat, complete with ears. Sunil’s and Erin’s were traditional jack-o-lanterns, and Nicole and Vicky’s were cute, small pumpkins; Nicole’s looked like a mischievous little boy, and Vicky’s looked like a light socket, in a really awesome way.

This morning, Erin came in with a batch of still-warm, incredibly delicious baked pumpkin seeds (okay, another part of Halloween I can totally get behind), Marisa brought in candy corn (fine, a third thing), we listened to the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, and I realized how incredibly lucky I am to have coworkers I love to spend time with, at work and outside of work. They really are the best.