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.

Shout out!

I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to my very very very good friend Kim, who recently started a new blog and is looking for readers! (Yes, this is a blatant request for people to read her blog because I love her and she is awesome. So what?) Kim often talks about cooking and books and movies and television, so if that’s your thing, head on over. Like I said, she’s pretty awesome.

It’s my birthday!

(It is not my birthday.) (Anymore.)

So anyway, last night I saw my friend Nikki and she gave me a birthday present. Rather than tell you about it, first I’m just going to show it to you in the order in which I unwrapped it.

This was the card:

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To be sure. Inside it says “You’re growing up and getting older! Happy 25th, Nikki”. And then there’s a sweet little note about how awesome I am, but I won’t make you read that–I tell you how awesome I am enough as it is! But, seriously, look at this thing. It is a masterpiece unlike any that I have ever before laid eyes on. Truly beautiful. I think I might frame it.

Then I took off the wrapping paper and look what I found!

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And! Wait for it…

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Now, I believe I’ve yammered at length about how much I love the Gosselins. Oh, yup, there it is. But, while I might like watching them less, I am equally if not more fascinated by the Duggar family. Yeah, that’s their website I just linked you to. Welcome to a black hole of “WTF?” I got home sorta late last night so I wasn’t able to adequately peruse either of these two books, we did notice that the Duggar one contains recipes for things like tater tot casserole for TWENTY PEOPLE. Also, floor plans of their house, just in case I wanted to head on down to Arkansas and infiltrate the compound. (I have no current plans to do so.)

I’m pretty much the opposite of the Duggar family–I’m one person, who eats for one person and cooks for one person and lives in a room the size of…no, you know what, there’s no place in the Duggar house that isn’t ginormous, so I can’t even make a comparison there. Maybe the size of Jordyn-Grace Makiya’s crib. That’s their new infant, for people who don’t devote every waking second to thinking about whether “Jessica” is too normal a name to bet on in their New Duggar Naming Pool.

Bygones. The point is, Nikki is the best. Great friends are better than book deals. This is something I’ve learned.

Of course, book deals are nice, too. So are agents…and I get to have lunch with mine tomorrow! Although, “dangerous wind chills” are expected to approach -25 degrees F. This is bad news bears for my extremities. I’d better bundle up.

Revise, reassess, rearrange

I had a joint birthday party with my roommate this weekend and it was super fun but also super dramz at the end of the night, although thankfully nobody was around to witness it except for Cambria and Nikki and poor Jeff the bartender. Whatevs!

I’ve started to notice that I have this problem that isn’t really a problem except when it is, and that is that I’m constant (you know, like Blair Waldorf)–I just don’t give up on things and people very easily. I actually think being constant is a good quality, but it can veer over into self-destructive territory when the thing you can’t let go of is getting bigger and bigger (in your head, of course, not in real life, where none of this matters at all) until finally it explodes like a bomb and blows your head to smithereens. So! My idea is to cut the problem off at the source. It’s working pretty well so far.

Just like a book, a life sometimes needs to be revised, and since I’m such an expert now it makes sense that I’m changing some stuff. I joined a gym and am starting to swim regularly (okay, I’ve gone once, but I joined the gym on Saturday and it’s Monday so give me a break, I plan to swim regularly). I love the quiet of the pool and the feeling of muscle memory kicking in when I’m working on my strokes and the way you can be alone underwater in a way you can’t be alone anywhere else, especially New York.

I also invested in a soft, warm, green duvet that I can’t wait to cuddle up to every night. The experience of buying it was pretty interesting. The man at Pottery Barn Kids was either on drugs or not listening to me, but he did seem to be sincerely trying to help so I’m going to give him points. I might need to get a queen-sized comforter, though, because my full one doesn’t seem to be big enough–it makes the duvet look baggy.

Speaking of working, it’s been twelve days since I sent my revisions into my editor. I haven’t heard anything back yet, and the only way I can stave off impatience is to work on something else. Lucky for me, I have an almost-done manuscript just sitting there ready to be finished, and it’s something I really love and am proud of, so it’s back to MB for me for the time being. I don’t think there’s a lot to do on it, but I’m having fun just reading it again.

I’m also starting to think about the Next Book. I reread what I had of GR so far a couple of days ago and liked it, and tonight I’m going to check back in with SM and see how much I like the pages I have for that. (We’re talking, like, ten pages here. I do not have a cache of almost-finished novels…YET.) I also have this weird…trilogy? Maybe? That I’m thinking about trying to write. I don’t know. All the ideas I have are so odd to me, they’re not easy to explain or categorize, and I’m not even sure if this one will work. Hell, I’m not even sure GR will work–it’s pretty weird, too. A quasi-apocalyptic pseudo-mystery, as I’ve taken to calling it? WHAT IS THAT EVEN?

In more boring news, the DVD player on my new MacBook is, I don’t know, misprogrammed or something. The DVD player thinks it’s a different region than it is? I guess I have to take it to the Apple store. On the other hand, Cambria and I watched the Golden Globes last night and all four hours were worth it because of five things:

1. Drew Barrymore’s outfit

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Direct quote from Cambria: “It’s like Drew Barrymore came to the Golden Globes dressed as Katherine Heigl.”

2. Tracy Morgan’s acceptance speech for 30 Rock‘s Best Television Show (Comedy) included the phrase, “Deal with it, Cate Blanchett!” This is my new catchphrase. It’s super funny if you consider it proof that backstage at 30 Rock is no different than on stage at 30 Rock. Tracy’s just got a different last name. And Jane Krakowski was way more excited for Tina Fey than Jenna would’ve been for Liz.

3. Liz Lemon’s Tina Fey’s acceptance speech for her win for Best Actress (Comedy). “Babs from Lacrosse you can suck it, DianeFan you can suck it, CougarLetter you can really suck it, you’ve been after me all year.”

4. Kate Winslet. Just, all of her. Being awesome. She’s really the only actress in the world I care about.

5. Renee Zellweger’s outfit.

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Direct quote from Cambria: “She looks toe-UP. I don’t even use that phrase very often because I don’t know what it means, but I feel like it’s appropriate here.”

I’ll leave you with that.

Highlights from my trip to California

When my family first moved to California eight and a half (oh God, really?) years ago, I volleyed between despondent and massively pissed off. I was a senior in high school and had lived practically my entire life in one house in Chicago’s north suburbs, fifteen minutes away from my aunt and cousins and half an hour away from my grandmother. I had lots of friends at my giant, award-winning, nationally respected high school, I was on a very hardcore swim team and a State-winning water polo team, and I was taking all these advanced classes. Then we moved to the Tri-Valley, clear halfway across the country, where I was enrolled in a tiny (by my standards) public school with no water polo team and only a handful of AP classes. I basically resigned myself to just pushing through that last year; I didn’t really feel confident about making friends or forgiving my parents for depositing me unceremoniously in that hell hole, so I figured I’d just get through it as best I could and then go back to Chicago for college.

As with many preconceived notions, mine were dashed when I met probably the most important people in my life besides my family. I ended up making some amazing friends that year, and these girls are not only still my best friends in the whole wide universe, they’re pretty much my sisters. Anyway, usually my family goes to Chicago for Christmas for about two weeks, but this year my mother, who has been doing a lot of international traveling for her job, pretty much said “Enough planes already!’ and instead of all of us convening in Chicago, I flew out to the Bay Area for Christmas. Lucky for me, my best friends (whose families also still live in the Tri-Valley) were there as well, and we spent ten days hanging out, during which a lot of really fun stuff happened. Here is a partial list:

  • Christmas Eve brunch: I went out for breakfast with my friend Kim, her sister Jennifer, Jennifer’s boyfriend (of like five or six years who for some reason I’d never met) Steve, my friend Cambria, and my brother JJ. IHOP (I know, we so classy) was really crowded, so we went to this ancient breakfast place that I’d never actually been to and ate our fill of greasy food. The best part of that morning was going to our old high school (where my sister’s still a student), which is being razed to the ground and rebuilt. It was like exploring the ruins of Rome, except not as pretty–seriously, there were walls torn down and we saw a mural that we’d never seen before in our collective nine years of attending school there because it was in the teacher’s lounge. The new building was sleek and cool and we were all super jealous because we had to attend class in dark, cramped buildings from the seventies.
  • Christmas Eve: My mom cooked a full Wigilia dinner (delish!) and we opened presents. It was fun and low-key and I wore a kick-ass Blair Waldorf flower headband but I seem to have misplaced my camera and so the only pictures are on my parents’ ancient digital, good luck to me getting a hold of them. That’s actually the theme of this whole vacation–ten days and I have no pictures to show for it.
  • Town Dive Bars: We spent many of our nights exploring the limited number of bars in the valley, because we usually just go to one and, fun as it is, we thought we might have a better time at the others. Pretty much they were all let-downs, because let’s be honest: this is a suburb, and we all live in real cities. Still, the Bud Light is dirt cheap and the company was amazing.
  • Jenny’s birthday/mustache party: Jenny had been talking about having a mustache party for her birthday ever since she came to New York in October, probably, or at least since Th4nkSgiving. Anywiz, as luck would have it I received stylish mustaches in the office White Elephant game, so we wore them to one of the aforementioned dive bars one night. Let me tell you, it was amazing. Cambria’s mustache made her look just like her father, which pretty much creeped us all out. There were a couple of guys with us, but they were all clean-shaven, which made it all the funnier. These pictures are so hilarious, you guys, and if I ever get them I will defs share them on the blog (knowing Jenny and her current lack of any sort of computorial apparatus, it may be a while…possibly June). The best part of the whole night, though, happened before the party, at my parents’ house while my brother and I were getting ready to go out. My mother saw the mustaches on the kitchen table and asked, “What are those for?” I told her about the plan–wear the mustaches to the bar–and she gave me a huge hug and said, “I’m so glad I’m not young anymore.”
  • Harry Potter Clue: At the risk of sounding like a huge nerd here, Harry Potter Clue is THE MOST AMAZING GAME ON THE PLANET. It’s SO MUCH BETTER than regular Clue, which I find sort of boring. The board MOVES, with secret passages appearing and disappearing and doors opening and closing. Also, there are spells and Dark Marks and the whole thing is a Harry Potter fan’s dream. I even won once! I almost never win at games, and since Cambria has been playing Clue ever since she was a small child, and Kim is a veteran board gamer, I was pretty proud of myself to have beaten them. Oddly, we didn’t play Apples to Apples or Phase 10 this time, which are our staple games. (Someday I’ll blog about how Phase 10 is the answer to life, the universe and everything. It really is.)
  • Eating: Time at home with friends is usually our excuse to pig out. There’s a lot of great restaurants in the Yay* that we just don’t have in New York and even San Diego, so we try to do a nice sampler any time we’re home together. I went to Pasta Pomodoro, Jack in the Box, Red Robin, In ‘N Out, Zachary’s, and Fuzio, and the only reason that list isn’t longer is that I had of lot of dinners at home with my family, on purpose, because I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible.
  • Santa Clara: While I was home I went out to Mountain View to visit Carmen, my best friend from college. We had dinner at this lovely Mexican restaurant in the Pruneyard, El Burro, where the service was terrible but the food was delicious, and I saw an old acquaintance from college, Celeste, who was the editor of our literary review, the Santa Clara Review, when I was the fiction editor.** On our way back to Carmen’s house, where my car was parked, I asked her to drive us past Santa Clara, and I oohed and ahhed at the new fancy business school (Carmen was an accounting major, so she’s impressed by/slightly bitter about it) and the BRAND! NEW! BIG! LIBRARY! Because even though there was a whole article about it in the alumni magazine I inexplicably receive at work, there were no pictures, which is the dumbest thing ever. Anyway, our old library was a HOLE, totally inconsistent with the gorgeous mission-style architecture of the school, dark and ugly and pretty useless. They destroyed that monstrosity and put up this stucco-and-glass beauty. Direct quote from me: “Maybe if that had been the library when we were going to school, I would’ve used it more than once or twice a year.” On the way home I got slightly lost and ended up going past Santa Clara again (because I knew how to get home from there, curse the badly marked 101/237 junction), taking the long way to gaze at it one more time. Nostalgia has such a powerful influence on me; I sort of miss that place, and I can’t believe that my life now isn’t one long summer vacation and that I’ll never go back for another year there. Sad.
  • New Year’s Eve: Actually, this was sort of a weird night for me. Not bad, really, but I did end up going to sleep on the floor, freezing cold***, stone sober, at around five thirty in the morning, far after everybody else went to sleep, so…weird.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Kim and I went to see this film super late one night, and let me tell you, I thought it was great. Anyone who knows me knows I couldn’t care less about Brad Pitt, but I loved the movie. It was long, yes, but the pace was leisurely rather than plodding, which added to the supple Southern feel, the story was beautiful and heartbreaking, and the CGI was terrif (I don’t agree with some reviews that it veers into the territory of the Uncanny Valley, because these weren’t CGI people, they were live actors)–I mean, when Cate Blanchett was supposed to be eighteen, she looked eighteen. I really thought for the longest time that they’d found a young girl who looked exactly like Cate Blanchett before realizing they’d done fancy computer stuff to her face. I cried about eighty-five times. People are complaining about how the plot has very little to do with Fitzgerald’s short story, which, come ON! You really couldn’t film that short story; the premise is great, but it’s ripe for a tragic love story and you don’t get that from Fitzgerald.

I’m sure I’ve missed some things, but those are the highlights. I really wish I had pictures of that mustache party. I think y’all would really enjoy them. Sigh. Someday. Related: I should find my camera before my birthday party on Saturday night. That I’m sure I’ll want pictures of.

*You’ve got to check out the Urban Dictionary page for “Yay.” It’s fantastic.

**Actually, that day was what I’m calling the Day of Randoms. I went to the mall with my mom and sister and we ended up seeing the mother of one of my sister’s friends, a family that my sister used to carpool to school with, my friends Kim and Jenny, and a girl my sister goes to high school with. Then we went to another mall and we saw our dentist. Then I saw Celeste. It was so so weird. I didn’t run into a single other random person while I was there. Curious.

***Actually, I was cold the whole time I was home. I don’t think I was ever really warm once. I didn’t bring a coat because I’m an idiot and ended up having to wear my old high school letterman’s jacket just so I didn’t freeze to death outside. People, listen to me: Just because it’s California doesn’t mean it’s going to be warm in January. Take it from me. I should’ve known better, I’ve lived through those winters. I thought all I would need was a rain coat. I was dead wrong.

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.