A few people have given me nice comments on the dating entry. I know writing about dating is interesting, but I have to be careful not to get personal. I will probably share a few more thoughts on it in general on Valentine's Day or the day before.
A related topic that came up at dinner with friends was "deal-breakers." The following were suggested by my college associates (two females and a male) as deal-breakers among a potential girl/boyfriend:
-Being a Republican (modified by one person as "Depending on why") (and no, this one was not, believe it or not, submitted by me first.)
-Ragging on Philadelphia and/or its sports teams.
-Having a dog (this one was DEFINITELY not submitted by me).
Last night I had dinner w/college friends. It occurred to me as we dissected each other's social lives that the people I know deal with dating in either of two ways: Some go on a lot of dates, trying really hard to meet the person of their dreams, and some have gotten tired of that and are doing whatever makes them happy without worrying about it -- and this latter group might even go an entire year without a date. And you know what? Often, the results end up the same. I do think there are ways you can put yourself in an environment to meet more people, but I guess dating binges don't work for some people. Part of the reason is that -- and the people I had dinner with are a testament to this -- you don't necessarily know what you're looking for until you find him/her (it's a cliche, I know, but...) Several of the people I know have had their best relationships with people who they would NEVER have picked out in a profile on the web, or met in a hobby-related group. They happened to meet them in some other environment, got to know them, and were hooked. So, okay, those relationships didn't always work out, but I think the bottom line is that intangibles play a lot into attraction. There are definite things we all look for, and no one should give up on them -- but the rest is somewhere in the ether.
All right. I gotta get off the internet and get some writing done.
I'll be working on Book 3 today, even if it takes another year to finish. (How can something take another year if I have 350 pages written? Because it has to be better...better...better...)
An author e-mailed me to tell me she said something kind about my book. Hey, thanks.
Amanda writes: Caren, I'd just heard that about tomatoes - leaving them out on the counter rather than putting them in the fridge. I left one out and it spoiled much faster.
Sorry, Amanda. And apparently, I've ruined not one but two lives:
Almost 10:00 A.M. and not a single snowflake! I bet my friend 1,000,000 Kopkas, my camel and my young daughter's virginity all because of Mook! I will very much miss my 1,000,000 Kopkas and my camel! -- Mickey
Sitting on the edge, sitting on the ledge of the world...
This is unrelated to Newark, but here is a convo we had in the car:
MY DAD (to me): Do you have a cell phone?
ME: No. Stop asking me that.
MY UNCLE: I tell ya. I was on the road the other day and I got a flat. If I didn't have a cell phone, I would have been in trouble.
ME: I don't have a car.
MY DAD (TO ME): Do you buy tomatoes?
MY DAD: Do you buy tomatoes, ever?
MY DAD: Do you put them in the refrigerator?
MY DAD: They lose their nutrients. I heard it on the radio. Now I don't put them in there.
ME: Oh. (Pause.) Do you turn down your thermostat before you go to work?
MY DAD: I hadn't been doing that, but I did it the other day.
YOUNG HALF-SISTER (Age 11): Since we're all sharing tips...if you're peeling an onion, and you don't want to cry, chew gum. (Pause) Uncle ___, do you have a tip?
UNCLE: On what?
HALF-SISTER: We're sharing food tips. Except for Caren's air conditioning tip.
UNCLE: Oh. I forgot to stop and see Martha Stewart on the way here.
"I don't think they exist," David Kay said Sunday. "The fact that we found so far the weapons do not exist — we've got to deal with that difference and understand why."
Both the New York Post and the Daily News have the Atkins/Bloomberg flap on their covers.
Mook the Meteorologist was right...it's going to snow overnight Sunday into Monday. He's always right. I should buy him dinner.
I met some interesting bloggers at the bash. Here are just some examples. A lot of people these days get to know each other better electronically before they meet in person. While there are advantages to this, I also think that it means you find out about someone is what they want you to find out, but depending on what they write, you don't always know the most important thing about them, which is how they treat other people (and animals). So it was good to meet them. I guess it depends on the blog. For my part, I don't always put my sweetest or most personal thoughts here. Some personal thoughts go in my journal (on paper). Some of them go in e-mails to friends. Funny thoughts go into my novels, screenplays and essays. But I do like having this outlet.
I was thinking today about the predictions that we made about the future when we were kids. In school, teachers suggested that some day, we'd all be reading newspapers on computers and not on paper. As a media fan, I didn't like this idea. I still think we'll always want to be able to pick up and take along a newspaper ON paper. Reading things on a screen is painful after a while. But when you see people on the bus Monday morning reading the news on their Palm Pilots, think about how that might have been just a futuristic vision back in the late '70s. It happens slowly, but all of a sudden, you can look around and realize that we're partially into the future that we predicted. It's just, we don't have those flying cars.
Speaking of absences, Mook the Meteorologist makes his triumphant return today. He said that the reason he was away so long was to test how much I'd miss him. Here's his report: Looks like a good sticking snow coming late this weekend into the first part of the week. Even though it's early, he predicts a few inches Sunday night into Monday. And anyone who has read this in the past knows that Mook is pretty good.
"They've been trying to get him to talk all day, but he's not saying much," said Sylvia Martin, who manages Heathfield Nurseries where parrot Charlie has lived for the last 12 years.
Charlie, who kept Churchill company during World War II, was famous for occasionally squawking four-letter obscenities about Hitler."
Revising your book is sort of like making microwave popcorn. When you're at the point when you're getting only a few pops once in a while, then you know it's ready. But when it's still popping a lot, you have to let it keep going.
Dawn's essay today is about not fitting in in high school and taking refuge in punk music, so of course I have to link to it. Not-fitting-in-in-school essays my favorites. (So are not-fitting-in characters...)
She actually includes a photo of her SAT scores, a nearly verbotten topic after your freshman year of college (just like how cool it was that you were president of Future Farmers of America). It's funny, though...just yesterday I got into an argument with a brainy H'vard grad over the word "equivocate" and we both jokingly used our test scores to defend why we were right. Nerdy!
In which I discuss a chick-lit forum, and then move on to the Style Court screening of "Nerd vs. Nerd" (and I knew both nerds!)
First off, it is right balmy in New York City right now. I can't walk down the street without seeing someone's face pointed toward the sun, their tanning oil sinking softly into their pores.
Tonight I went to a forum run by the Women's National Book Association on the "chick-lit" phenomenon. Since I run into people nearly every day who still don't know what I'm talking about, a brief explanation: "Chick-lit" books have been the most profitable publishing trend lately. They're books about young single women trying to find satisfaction in their careers, relationships, or both. After Bridget Jones' Diary and similar books took off, a few people realized that there was a big market in women's literature. Young women buy books.
A company called Red Dress Ink formed in NYC in 2001 specifically to publish one "chick lit" book a month. People said at the time that the market was already saturated -- but to their surprise, RDI's books really took off. Since then, companies like Simon & Schuster have also started "chick lit" lines. This past summer, the books exploded. Nowadays, they have to evolve and grow a little bit from what they were -- they can't keep being about the same exact thing. A new trend, for instance, is "Mommy Lit." There's also male "Lad Lit."
Okay. So the WNBA (not basetball) ran this forum on chick lit and the direction in which it's going. Panelists included book-buyers, an agent, a sales guy at Kensington Books (which has both a chick lit line and a more erotic-type chick lit line) and author Jennifer Weiner, who has a well-read blog and wrote Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, considered among the most popular American chick lit books. (Good in Bed is set to be an HBO series.)
It was pretty much established that in order to be chick lit, the books have to be about women who have to grow or overcome some dilemma, and they generally have some humor. They're different from romance in that the main character can be happy whether she finds a man or not...but it's always nice if she does.
I promised a few chick-lit authors who couldn't attend that I would recap the forum. I won't go over the stuff that's kind of old news. So here are some highlights:
1. The panelists think that, despite backlashes against chick lit (particularly in Britain, where it's an older trend), it hasn't reached its peak yet. (Of course, no one there was going to be negative and say it HAS, but anyway.)
2. Chick lit WILL have to evolve to stay viable. Jennifer Weiner (hereafter referred to as JW) noted that her next book is a Mommy lit (she is, indeed, a mommy now). She also mentioned marriage and dealing with aging parents as possible issues for future chick lit. She noted that a next step for the "Bridezilla"/wedding books is to look at what happens to the brides AFTER the wedding.
3. Guys tend to get more respect for their books. JW noted that the male trend seems to be addiction memoirs. (Actually, the most oft-mentioned 'lad lit' author seems to be Nick Hornby, since he writes about singlehood sometimes.)
4. Some of the panelists said it's not good when a previously-serious novelist is slapped with a pink cover in order to get in on the chick lit trend, because then readers buy the book, open it, and are peeved that the cover didn't represent the book.
5. Girls who grew up reading Judy Blume didn't really have anything after that. (A good point -- when we were little, we always knew we could go to the young adult shelf and get a Judy Blume book about a kid like us dealing with problems like ours.) I've always said that one key to chick lit is that its buyers know, at least a little bit, what they're getting. When you're about to get on a plane for four hours, sometimes you want a little guarantee.
6. Social reasons for chick lit: Women have more choices, we're children of divorce and saw our moms figuring out how to live without a man, so all of this affects us. Also, it's more socially acceptable to screw up a little bit now, what with two stock market crashes in the last 15/16 yrs.
7. One of the best questions asked is, is there value to chick lit besides entertainment? Jen Weiner said there definitely is. She noted that the books are about more than frivolity...they're about women dealing with really important issues. (I'd add to that that not all chick lit books are the same...for instance, Riding with the Queen brings in issues of dealing with a mentally ill parent, etc., all in a riveting read.) There's a lot of variety in chick lit, and hopefully there will continue to be.
So hope that's helpful to anyone who is interested in publishing trends. I went up to Jennifer Weiner afterwards, covered my nametag, and said, "Can I have your agent's address?" Actually, we have a mutual friend, so I wanted to say hi. She was quite nice. She said she read my book and actually liked it. She also said I looked shorter than in my photo. Usually people just tell me the photo looks too serious (well, sorry, folks!) She also has read this blog, and as proof, she recited, "Woke up, got dressed, went to work." Geez, maybe I should write something important here if famous Philadelphians are going to read it... I liked Good in Bed, too.
Ron Hogan also recapped this at his literary website. Also, since it hides inconspicuously at the upper right corner, here's a link to my homepage in which I link to a short article I wrote on chick-lit once, and have details on my first novel (Carrie Pilby) and the second one, Starting from Square Two, coming this March 1. There's also a ditty on how to get published.
After the forum ended, I took the F train downtown (that's not meant to be a euphemism) and arrived just in time for a very special screening of "Style Court" in which I knew both plaintiff and defendant. Style Court is a show in which someone takes an acquaintance to court for their bad fashion sense, and a nutty judge rules on whether the person will get a makeover or not. Michael Malice and Todd Seavey hosted the event, in which they played a video tape of their recent appearance on the cable show. Malice was the accuser and Seavey was the accused. Malice, who has pretty good fashion sense for a geek, was accusing Todd of still dressing like a nerd. The judge had a field day asking which one of them was actually the nerd. But Todd was purposely dressed in an exaggerated manner with giant glasses, his blonde hair licked forward, and a tight shirt. Malice, who used to do standup, was quick-witted and sharp-tongued and explained that he himself used to dress like a nerd until a co-worker set him straight. Todd responded by saying that he was a nerd and that he was proud of who he was. At one point, Malice's answers to the judge (and accusations against Todd) were so quick that the judge's mouth was hanging open.
After the judge lashed Mr. Malice for alleged superficiality and asked Todd why it was important to him to be a nerd, His Honor asked Todd to approach a circle and stand in a beam of light. Todd quipped, "Just like Star Trek." (This was a total ad lib, which is evidence that Todd is really a nerd.)
The judge and the jury found Todd not guilty, their rationale being that what's REALLY important is the person inside. Thus, he didn't get the $350 in free clothes. And that's what you call winning?
I hope this description of my night was entertaining...but mostly it's been read by the people who were involved, and that's o...kaaaay.
"I was reading Pamie's blog about what you said in your blog about her blog and I thought I would pick up your book. Please don't hate me; I checked
it out of the library, so no royalties for you. But, you might be glad to hear that they had six copies of your book and there was a waiting list for
them. I really enjoyed your book. I can relate to Carrie in that I never really learned how to be comfortable in social situations and tend to
prefer staying home with my cats. I'm working on it, just not as fast as she did. I look forward to your second book, and promise to buy it this time!"
When I got home from work tonight, I was tired, but I had to do trivia. After trivia, it was cold and windy -- perfect writing weather. I decided to make popcorn and stay up tonight. Now it's 1:54 a.m. and I revised pages 1-100 of Book 3 (all I do is revise these days), so I'm going to sleep.
the hospital to the car as it was snowing!"
You know what? Maybe it WAS yesterday that he was carrying me from the hospital to the car...
Tonight's winning trivia team name was "Bush wants to go to Mars, but the twins just want Uranus."
I ordered Pamela Ribon's book Why Girls Are Weird, since she was kind enough to mention my book on her blog and send a few hundred people my way. Plus, with that title, I'm bound to love it. And she's a good writer.
I'm going to be playing a lot of team trivia this week.
.... why am I getting sucked into this?!?! LOL (Editor's note: you?!)
1. Why do helicopters flying over the Hudson River need to refuel midair- especially if there are three of them?
2. Did Barclay essentially say "It's on the internet, so it must be true?"- Didn’t a Google search just prove that the word Trivolous exists? Does he really think you saw helicopters from 1966 in 2004?
3. Who told Z they were HC 130s?
4. What Male co-worker may have meant was not that we KNOW they're guns because we're guys, but that we ASSUME or PRETEND they're guns because we're guys.... I mean they obviously weren't breasts!
... heh heh, sorry 'bout that last one!
Z says: Sorry, Caren. . . but "Mickey" is wrong. My sister (and her husband) pilot HC-130s, and one of their primary operations is to refuel helicopters midair.
Dave writes: Here’s an interpretation of that little discussion:
Male Co worker: Those are guns.
Barclay: Those aren’t guns. You’re just compensating. My brain’s bigger than yours.
Mickey: No it isn’t. Mine is.
...Doesn’t a refueling probe sound like more of a phallic symbol than a cannon, by the way?
1010 WINS reports: "Repeating the current temperature, 2, going up to 15 in midtown."
I invented a new word and had to hop out of bed to see if it actually exists. The word is TRIVOLOUS. Frivolous and trivial. But there were about 20 instances of it when I Googled it, some as mistakes, and one from a girl's blog in which she also mentions the "morph word" frivial -- so I'm not the first (damn that internet!)
Hey - I get a chuckle at some of your blogged insights. Kudos.
Moving right along, I just saw a free advance screening of Ashton Kutcher's Butterfly Effect. It was a very entertaining suspense flick. There were a few dopey things in it, as always, but I imagine people will be highly entertained. Now I have to wait quietly so people can see it and we can talk about the ending.
MALE CO-WORKER: Whoa! Cool!
ME: What are they?
MALE: Gun ships.
ME: Are those guns sticking out of the front of them?
MALE: Those are cannons.
ME: How do guys always know all this stuff?
MALE: 'Cause we're guys.
For my main page, click here. For Amazon info on Carrie Pilby, click here. My next novel, STARTING FROM SQUARE TWO, will be out March 1. It's about someone who loses her college sweetheart at the age of 29 and has to start dating for the first time in NYC. Her bitter friends drag her out. Maybe I should have called it "Rude Awakening."
She writes: "Worst cover ever. I'm reading it in manuscript form, and it must be good, as this copy is so over photocopied that most of the punctuation is gone, and I'm still swept up in the story."
Thanks! In case some of you readers don't get the 'over-photocopied' bit, I guess that's a "slipped" copy that got through script readers. I'll explain sometime.
Speed-Dating for Agents
The Women’s National Book Association will host a three-hour "Speed Dating for Agents Event" on Sunday morning, February 15. Part of the proceeds will go to charity. About a dozen agents from New York, Los Angeles and the Bay Area will each talk about themselves. Then each agent will sit at a table and authors will line up to talk to them one on one for three minutes. To save time, we will assign you a number when you register and pay the Speed Dating Fee of $25. You may meet with as many agents as you have time for during the three-hour period understanding that you will have to wait in line for each agent. We will be posting names and descriptions of the agents shortly. Each agent will have 48 slots. We will assign writers their meeting time with the agent and that number will be waiting for you with your sign-in packet on Friday, February 13.
Anyway, first we were regaled by Whitney Pastorek on her acoustic guitar. She played three '80s songs and included the lyrics "Something something something" in Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine," which made me happy because here I was thinking I didn't know the words. After that, "Girlbomb" Erlbaum read about one of her experiences, as did Ames. Both were quite funny.
Then Glass went up there. He was described as "the infamous, notorious Steve Glass" by host Amanda Stern. She read his bio, including "former journalist," which brought titters from the crowd.
Then, Mr. Glass went up to the microphone. His hair was delightfullly wavy, and he looked so warm and cuddly that I couldn't see how anyone wouldn't want to hug him and make him chicken soup. Very endearing.
True to form, he started off with a self-deprecating joke.
He read a funny passage from The Fabulist about Hebrew school. Everyone was laughing at all the right moments, clapping at others. And as I watched him read, I couldn't help but wonder: Was he thinking, "I wish all this was happening without my having screwed up...I wish I was just in New York reading my writing to a crowd that only knows one thing about me: that I'm a good writer."
Bacon doesn't make me fat!
Dr. Atkins told me that!
I'm just gonna lose a ton
eating burgers sans the bun!
Bananas are real bad for me
I believe everything I read!
Give me fried duck as a snack
'Cause I'm a big fan of the quack!
Disclaimer: The above is meant as a joke. The Atkins (R) Diet plan in no way tells people that bacon won't make them fat. Additionally, researchers at the U. of Penn and other places have found that the diet can have beneficial health benefits. Thank you.
I find this interesting (no sarcasm; I'm honestly glad they were working hard to catch everything...):
>>Based more on experts' belief that al-Qaeda might attempt to set off a dirty bomb during the end-of-year celebrations than real information, the Department of Energy sent scores of nuclear scientists with detection equipment to five major cities, The Washington Post reported.
Only in Las Vegas did the needles spike inside a storage unit on December 29. The radiation, it turned out, came from a cigar-size radium pellet -- used to treat cancer -- that a homeless man had found and stashed away among his meager belongings, the officials said.
The homeless man, whose identity was not disclosed, assisted authorities in their search and was not arrested.
I had a dream last night that I met M. Lewinsky, and I told her that since Mr. Clinton is so irresistable, by doing what she did, she probably stopped some other intern from ending up doing it, so she probably did a good thing - because inevitably, some other girl would have gotten in trouble. This is the logic that comes to us in our dreams.
I just saw a great indie film called Pieces of April about a young woman trying to put together a decent Thanksgiving celebration for her arguing family. It was very well done.
Last night, someone told me he thought I looked 22. Thanks!
I should write about New Year's resolutions, but I haven't had a chance to think about mine yet. I spend so much time analyzing my life that it's not like I need a holiday to do it. Resolutions would probably be similar to last year: Be a better person, eat more healthily, volunteer more. I don't have to include "publish a book" anymore, thank God.
On the positive side, I had quite a nice night, and I wish everyone a great 2004. As they say in Boogie Nights, "Nineteen fu**king [snort] eighty!!!!" Well, it's not 1980, but whatever.