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.

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Epic day of FAIL

Blurgh. Yesterday? Such a FAIL day. Nothing appeared to be going my way. I have to admit, I don’t really get in a funk that often. I mean, things bother me all the time–people being stupid on the subway, long lines at the bank, emails telling my bank account has dipped below $50 a week before payday–but I never seem to get down about them for too long. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m grumpy all the time, but I don’t feel like I am. Usually, I feel like, if you asked me to rate my life on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being THE WORST and 10 being TOTALLY AWESOME, I would probably put myself in the 5-6-7-8 range on an average day. Which isn’t too shabby.

But yesterday, oh my, for some reason, even though the things that happened weren’t that big of a deal, I just got so down about it.

First, my iPod is broken. Actually, it’s been broken for about a year now. I distinctly remember the headphone jack starting to crap out when I was in California last October on an extended unemployment holiday. I was taking my dog, Val, for a walk and then the audio on my iPod started going in and out. I thought it was the headphones, which were those cheap gummy kind JVC makes in a frillion different jelly bean colors that I hated that I ended up buying AGAIN about six months ago because they were $10, so I threw them out. It was not the headphones. It was the audio jack on the iPod. Eventually, it just settled on being broken so that I couldn’t hear out of the right headphone. That’s the way it’s been for a year until a few weeks ago, when it started getting crappy again, this time in both ears, and I’ve had to really jam the headphones in there to even get any sound out and I have to carry it very carefully so that the audio doesn’t kaput on me.

Okay, broken iPod. So, I let the Internet convince me that I could fix the problem myself–just order a new headphone jack/hold switch online, pop open the iPod, install the new jack, problem solved. NOT SO, my friends, not so.

A. Who knew an iPod was so damn hard to open? It’s a Herculean task. My friend Sunil finally got it open with the help of about three of those green “non-marring pry tools” they sent me (i.e. little green plastic things that are supposed to help you open it but have no leverage because they are made out of soft plastic that is supposed to not damage your iPod but instead prevents them from doing their job).

B. Immediately when we opened the iPod, two tiny black screws fell out. I would later discover that those screws are supposed to hold in the audio jack. So, who wants to be that my problem isn’t the jack, it’s the fact that the screws had come undone? But I bought the new jack, you know I was going to use it.

C. Trying to replace your iPod’s screen (like my friend Mary did herself) is one thing; futzing around with the intestines of your iPod is probs not a good idea for a rank amateur. I don’t THINK I caused any damage, but there’s really no way of knowing. I followed the instructions, that’s all I can say.

D. I got the headphone jack removed and went to put the new one in and…it’s defective! Excitement. On the 30G iPod video 5G, the headphone jack and hold switch come in one piece, so you have to replace them together. Fine, whatever, except the one I had ordered didn’t come with a hold switch. So I couldn’t even fix the iPod yesterday and it’s sitting in my desk drawer at work in pieces and that made me feel really pathetic and small for some reason. The place I ordered it from promised to ship me a new one yesterday, but I probably won’t get it until tomorrow.

Okay, so if that wasn’t FAIL enough, I went home and decided to make some pasta for dinner. Except that I have a very tiny kitchen, so my strainer, which has a long handle like a saucepan instead of two handles, one on each side, like a reasonable strainer, sits on my stove in a frying pan when it’s not in use. I was boiling water right in front of the strainer and the metal handle got too close to the steam rising up from the boiling water and of course, because it is METAL, it heated up and so when I went to pick up the strainer to put it over the sink of course it was very very hot and I burned my hand. I ALWAYS DO THIS WHY WON’T I LEARN. Man.

And then–you guys, this is not over, the FAILing–I was cleaning a wine glass and it broke because it’s from IKEA and made from glass as thin as fairy wings, apparently, and a jagged shard sliced up my hand. And I was bleeding so much and had to put on several Band-Aids, one-handed, to cover the cut up and after I’d doused it in anti-bacterial wash (Band-Aid makes a really great ouch-free kind, BTW) and afixed all the bandages I just wanted to sit down on the floor of my bedroom and cry and cry and cry.

But I didn’t. I went into the kitchen, threw away the wine glass, took the trash out, went to the store to buy toilet paper because we were out, came home and called a friend to share this EDoF. Seriously, she answered the phone and it all came tumbling out, “My iPod’s broken and I burned myself making dinner and I sliced my hand open on a broken wine glass…and I can’t figure out what comes next in my new book!”

And it is thus that I discovered my real problem.

4S of July!

Whoa, where the hell have I been? The answer: right where you left me, in temperate (really! I have been far more comfortable walking the streets of this city recently than I was a few weeks ago) New York City. I was playing hostess to my super-best-friends Kim and Jenny, numerous photos of whom you can see on Flickr. We had tons o’ fun! To make it easily digestible, let me break it down for you:

  • Tuesday: The girls got into town. I met up with some former classmates from the University of Chicago at a place called Grassroots on St. Mark’s, where we caught up (our last get-together was in January–February? Whatever, a long time ago) and drank Brooklyn Lager (thumbs down, in case you care, but my taste in beer is pretty low-brow…I actually find Pabst Blue Ribbon palatable, and not ironically). I left around nine and went to Bri’s place in Williamsburg; the girls got in around 10:15, and since we were all starving and ready to drink we cruised around Lorimer for a while until we found a weird little joint called the Alligator Lounge where they comp you a personal-sized pizza when you order a drink! What a wonderful, not to mention delicious, way to lure booze hounds into your bar. After a drink and a pizza I went home because I had to work in the morning. The girls stayed with Bri in Williamsburg.
  • Wednesday: Kim and Jenny met me for lunch. We picked up food at the Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center, then went to the park to eat. I dragged them back to my office to fetch my subway map, where a fateful meeting occurred in the break room (more on that in a hot minute!). After work, Kim and Jenny met me and Bri and Katie and Eric, a coworker of mine, at Dempsey’s for trivia. We won…for something? We don’t know, but we ended up with the soundtrack to Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, which I put up on Muxtape for funs. Prepare to have your head blown open. Anyway, after trivia we went to National Underground, a fun cheap old man-type bar that has a nice jazz band on Wednesdays, where we contended with a couple of characters Bri met at Dempsey’s and invited out with us: Trevor, a really big douchebag of the “I’m a genius, I make lots of money, let me impress you with my arrogance and self-centeredness” variety, and his friend Mike, who tried to convince me that democracy is the same as mob rule, which it isn’t. Anyway, Mike was sweet enough but they were both pretty annoying, and Eric, as the only other guy in the group, was very, VERY irritated. He and my friend Jenny hit it off very well, to say the least. The girls went back to Brooklyn and I went home.
  • Thursday: I had a half-day of work, after which I headed down to Union Square for lunch with Katie, Bri, Jenny, and Kim at the Heartland Brewery. Eric and my boss met us afterwards, and we went to Petco to look at the kittens, Bri’s favorite activity, before hitting up a bar on University for happy hour and telling embarrassing stories about each other to my coworkers. The girls went to Brooklyn and I went home; we changed and ate separately, then met at Fat Black, in the Village. Oh, the characters we met there. Two older gentlemen, old enough to be our father’s most definitely, approached us and bought us drinks and talked to us for what seemed like hours, even going so far as to invite us to go sailing with them on the 4th. We had plans with Eric, plus none of us can sail, so we declined, but they were nice (and foreign!) and entertaining. I went home, the girls went back to Brooklyn, and we made plans for the morning
  • Friday (4th of July!): The girls took a car to my place on the Upper West Side and got settled. They went to the liquor store and grocery to get some snack food and, naturally, booze. Eric was supposed to join us in the city for the holiday, but then he texted me and asked if we wanted to go out to his friend Matt’s house in New Jersey, promising food and booze and fireworks (real ones, not, like, Roman candles in someone’s backyard, which Cambria was sure to make sure of before agreeing to go). So to New Jersey we went! It was really a foregone conclusion as soon as I got the TM, because it was so obvious that sparks were flying between Jenny and Eric that even though I told him I had to check with the girls before agreeing, I was all, “Damn, now we have to go to Jersey.” It was so fun, though! The trip out was a nightmare, and the trip home in a cab was expensive, but the food was great, Eric’s friends were so gracious and a genuine blast, and the fireworks were so close! Best line of the night: Eric picked us up from the PATH station in Newark, I get into the front seat and go, “Are you wearing madras shorts?” He was. (Oh, and not to overshare, but the 4th went very well for our lovebirds.)
  • Saturday: Saturday we woke up and went to Times Square to the TKTS booth to get half-priced theater tickets. It was so ridiculous. That place is super organized until you get to the actual place where you can buy the tickets–then it’s chaos. Somebody actually cut Kim in line, some seventeen-year-old blond touristy girl, and Kim was all, “I believe I was first.” She ignored Kim, so this obviously local woman behind Kim started going off on the girl. The girl’s grandmother stepped in and was all, “This is my granddaughter! I’m buying these tickets, this is my granddaughter!” It made little to no sense, and all of them (even though I really appreciated the local woman’s willingness to go to bat for Kim, although technically she was being cut, too, so…) were crazy. It didn’t matter, Jenny got to the front of her line and got us four tickets to Young Frankenstein. Wait, did I say four? I meant five. Yes, they gave us an extra ticket, which we didn’t pay for. Yes, it’s sort of unethical to keep it, but were we seriously going to get back in line and wait for four hours again just to give it back? No. We didn’t scalp it, though. We invited my roommate, who was putting up with having us all in our tiny two-bedroom apartment. Before the show we went to Dallas BBQ which, if you like to drink and you’ve never been, hie ye to the nearest one (there are five Manhattan locations and one in Brooklyn) as soon as you next come here. The drinks are enormous and frozen and delicious, and the food’s not half bad, although Nikki, who’s from Texas, claims it has nothing on real bbq–she’s probs right. Anyway, the show was so fun! Sure, Megan Mulally basically played Karen Walker, but she has an excellent voice and a brilliant stage presence and, as Bri put it, “That’s what the people want.” After the show we went to Carmine’s for a delicious, HUGE after-theater dinner. Then we went home and laid around like cobras.
  • Sunday: Sunday, Jenny and Eric had a date (squee!) so Kim and Bri and I went to Pinch and S’Mac, a really great pizza/gourmet mac and cheese place near the American Museum of Natural History, for lunch and then wandered down the Upper West Side buying things like typewriter-key-pendants and Russian wedding rings and chair earrings. Then we went down to Rockefeller Center; we’d planned to go to the Top of the Rock, but it was expensive and we’re lazy. Instead we perused the NBC Store where I found that they’d ripped off my t-shirt idea, then went to Dean & Deluca for confections and J.Crew, where I bought two skirts on sale for a grand total of less than $60! And to think, I’d been whining about going. Then we headed uptown back to my ‘hood to Jake’s Dilemma, where we met Jenny and Eric and drank like kings on very little cash (Jake’s has a really nice happy hour deal), and then up to my apartment where we drank some more. After Eric left, we played a TV trivia game (I couldn’t find my Phase 10 cards, sadly) and then went to bed.
  • Monday: I had to go back to work, but the girls met me and Eric for lunch. We had sushi, which I’d been craving for a while, at East, a chain with a restaurant near my work that’s never crowded at lunch. I ate there with Katie, Brigitte and the MN crew when they were in town for the City Breathing concert. After work, Eric and I met Cambria down on the LES; we had planned to go to Happy Ending, but they’re closed on Monday nights, as is EVERY SINGLE FUN BAR ON THE LES. So we ended up going to drag queen bingo night at Bowery Poetry Club, where Cambria won a tickety-tack wall clock and Kim and Jenny met us. I was one card away from winning the whole damn pot of money! Then we got a slice of pizza and went to the only open bar on the LES, apparently, Welcome to the Johnson’s, which is this really tacky (in a good way) dive bar that looks like a living room from the ’60s. $2 PBR, people! And a working jukebox. The cute couple said a sad good-bye, but they’ll see each other again soon so it’s okay, and we cabbed it up to my apartment (note to people who party on the LES but live on the UWS–have your cab driver take the FDR to 96th and the transverse across the park–it’s cheaper than having them take the West Side Highway, I have now learned this from experience). Then we crashed. It was a long weekend.
  • Tuesday: I woke up and said goodbye to the girls, then went to work. I think they went to the Met, then to LaGuardia for a nightmare flight home. I miss them so much already. Thanksgiving in SD!

And that’s what I’ve been doing that has prevented me from blogging, writing, reading, eating properly, drinking moderately, cleaning my apartment and doing laundry. Now it’s back to business as usual–I’m reading The Likeness, the follow-up to that Tana French novel, In the Woods, that I adored so much, trying to get back into the writing rhythm, sleeping (not enough, because I’m still bushed every single night), working, and cooking healthy meals for myself. It might be more productive and better for me, but it’s WAY less fun. (Except reading and writing–I like that.)

No new news on the book front as yet. I hope to hear something soon!