Health post followup

[NOTE: For any new readers, this blog is generally dedicated to the weirdness of the world, as well as my writing schedule, but sometimes we get onto other things. Like baby carrots.]

A reader writes:

I tried the baby carrots a couple of years ago. Too much of a good thing is possible. I ate about 14 every day throughout the day at work. Trouble is that everything I like is full of vitamin A, cantaloupe, spinach, prunes, etc. On top of that I was taking a multivitamin every day. I ended up with an overdose. It's a fat soluble vitamin and excess amounts are stored in the liver.

I had what felt like palpitations. I was alone that night and when I went to sleep I was fearful that I'd never wake up. Clearly I did. Anyway I changed my habits. I read that it takes about 3 months to clear out the liver.


A friend writes:

"Why did the media stop demanding a death toll in Katrina? Why did the government stop searching the attics? Why was it so easy for us, after a week of horror, to put it aside for the next piddling story just because the next hurricane came and uneventfully went? Why the f--- doesn’t anyone care?"

Hmmm, but usually people harp on the media for exaggerating, sensationalizing and focusing on tragedies. Guess people are starting to understand why...
My post is working already...

This morning I got an e-mail from an acquaintance, and a .JPG was attached. The e-mail said:
C: Please help me with this issue. Is she wearing a Timex or a more expensive watch? I can’t quite see what the brand is.

I e-mailed him back and said, "Is this a snow penis? Did you read my post?"

He e-mailed back: "I must have missed the post. I just want to know whether it's a Timex."

So I e-mailed him my blog post of a few days ago. He sent this back:

O.K. thanks got it. It was a picture of a babe with really big boobs. She just happens to be wearing a watch. I thought that it was funny. I expected that you would reply by saying something like, yes it's a Timex and simply ignore the fact that she has huge boobs. Oh well. Yes I agree that it would not be good to have it on a worplace computer.

Secrets of dieting

Few blogs are being updated today, so I might as well contribute something instead of whining about it.

Here's a secret weight loss tip for the new year.

Bring things to nosh on at work that are low in calories. Right now, I'm eating baby carrots. They'll make me full 'til at least lunch, and satisfy my need to chomp.

I've also discovered the fun of virgin Maries. Get some tomato juice (like 50 cal a glass). Pour a bunch of coarse ground black pepper at work, a dash of Worcester and Tobasco, and voila (or wah-la, as one of my reporters once wrote), a lil' cocktail to sip on. Yes, I keep the ingredients at work.

Fresh peas are a delicious snack in the summer, harder to find in the winter. I also keep apples around, nice soft Macintoshes. I'm not much of a fan of hard apples.

That said, I'm probably eating pizza for dinner tonight while I revise my book, just because it's a madcap revising weekend. So...at least I'll have a little room to grow.


Frohes neues Jahr!

I have a German phrase-a-day calendar for the new year. Phrases for the first week include:

Jan 1: Frohes neues Jahr! (Happy new year!)
Jan. 2: Ich habe zu viel Champagner getrunken! (I drank too much champagne!)
Jan. 4: Eine Frau braucht ein kleines schwarzes. (A woman needs a little black dress.)
Jan. 5: Benimm dich deinem Alter entsprechend! (Act your age!)

What's up with that?!


Gimmie one reason

Another reason to stay in during my writing/hibernation period is this: when writing, My schedule has to be fluid...for instance, one day I was on a roll and stayed up until 3 a.m. writing, then slept late the next day, then woke to do more work, then took another nap from 4-8, etc. During those long periods, having to stop what I'm doing and get ready to go somewhere, that'd mess things up. I don't even like knowing I'm going to stop at a certain time, or wake up at a certain time.

Again, maybe if I was writing full-time this would change, but I have to take my few free days and make them count.

Mean junkmail subject head of the day




My friend Jodi is an excellent writer, and finally started a blog.

A request

Sometimes people think they're doing me a favor by sending a funny photo that takes four minutes to download, a funny cartoon that takes four minutes to download, or worse. And they try to be coy by saying nothing in the e-mail about what it's about, so I don't know if it's important or not. They take time to download, and time to look at and time to delete. If you are one of those people that sends me one every other day, I appreciate your thinking of me, but please resist a bit. If you do it once in a while, I will trust your taste, but in the two seconds it takes you to send it to me with nothing in the e-mail other than "Look at this! It's really funny!," and then I save it at work and open it up and it's a picture of some kids building a snow-penis, I do not appreciate it.

From now on, I'm going to take the same two seconds back to write, "Hey, that was funny! Thanks!" because I am a polite, kind person. You'll never know if I opened it, and I won't know if it was actually something important (like a missing poster of my long-lost sister), but how about STOP BEING SO COY and actually say in the e-mail what it is that I am going to be downloading, if it's important? I know it kinda ruins the joke. If it's that original a joke, send it, but otherwise use some discretion.

If it's important, please tell me that it's important. If it's Frosty the Snow Tool, please stifle yourself. I don't want frozen genitals on my work computer.


Okay, I guess I came off as kind of mean up there. I'm sorry. I'm glad any of you talk to me, and are kind enough to send me icy putzes. I just get behind on opening them. So please wait for the really really big ones. Thanks.



I just caught up on about 60 e-mails. I'd responded to them all at one point but hoped to respond more when I had time. Sometimes they just pile up while I'm at work.

When I started the novel that I've been working on for five years, it was a pretty original idea. However, each week makes it a little less likely to be original.

Luckily, it's pretty detailed and doesn't just rely on gimmicks and stuff, but it's all the more reason that it has to get done by Feb. 15.


I had a delightful Xmas eve dinner of sushi with a few friends, down the street from me. My new sushi discovery is seaweed salad, which is really sort of spaghetti-thin strands bathed in sweet sesame sauce and it isn't anything like seaweed. Probably isn't very diet-friendly, either, but quite tasty.

Still working on my writing. It's now or never. Self-imposed deadline: Mid-February.

I watched the first season of Desperate Housewives on DVD. I think the per capita murder rate on Wisteria Lane is higher than in New York.

The gas man came and adjusted my heater. He told me he graduated from high school with Kevin Smith. Since I have a worry-free contract, the adjustment AND the Kevin Smith stories were FREE!


Happy holidays

And thanks for reading.

There's a short story I've made notes for over the last two years but never just sat down and pulled it all together.

This morning I got up with the express purpose of writing it, or a lot of it. I'd thought of some good twists last night and was inspired. So I wrote it today -- 26 pages! Just a first draft, because there will be blanks to fill in, and I'm sure things to change. I will put it aside a bit, then revise it someday. It feels good to have finally gotten it out. Whew.


Hooked on phonics did not work for the MTA.

23rd Street station

Read about Val's five-mile walk to work.

I don't know what everyone's so upset about. Yesterday, after work, I hopped on the PATH train to 23rd Street, walked a block to Monster Sushi, and enjoyed a delicious Dragon Roll. Mmmm-hmmm. But that one-block walk in New York was cooooold.


Transit strike

So I hear that across the river, there's a transit strike and a lot of N'Yorkers can't get to work. WALK IT, YOU SISSIES. Walk those 30 blocks from the Upper East Side to midtown in the cold. You pick on me for living in Jersey, but our ferries, trains and buses to the Big Apple are still running, so walk and we'll meet ya there.

UPDATE: Read all about Phil's commute.



Yesterday there was a story in the New York Times Book Review about how writers can use special blog search engines to find out what bloggers are saying about their books. So, you know what I had to do today.

I used the Google blog search engine and read some delightful compliments. One girl wrote:

"I usually hate Red Dress Ink books, but my writing teacher says it's the only good one."

Hahaha! Well, there are some other good ones, but hopefully your teacher will assign it.

To writers

I'm on a chick lit loop, and one writer just sold her book and posted this:

And I have to add, to everyone getting rejections and feeling discouraged right now, don't give up! My "practice" novel got 60+ agent rejections. There were many times that I felt I'd never get published. But I kept writing, and here I am! Take care everyone!

So there you have it. I imagine she did a lot of revising over that time. No one sends to 60 agents at once, nor 60 editors...ever. The first few give you feedback and you do more work. It's a process.


Oh, great.

I've run out of dopey blogs to read...now I actually have to work on my book.


Mess transit

If the NYC transit union heads decide to strike tonight, how will they get home?


Picture THIS!

Why is it that otherwise reasonable friends of mine think it's a good thing to tell me they dislike my author photos? First off, they were selected by showing them to a lot of people, and those were the ones that came out best. Some people really liked them. Some did not. Photos, and a person's appearance in general, strike everyone differently. That's why some people think you look like a certain actress, and other people can't see it at all. It's also part of why some people are more attracted to you than others. If my author photo is already on my book by the time you've seen it, that means it's on at least 30,000 copies. Telling me how ugly it is when it's already there does me no good. If you can't think of something nice to say...

The odd thing is that people tell me I look "too serious." Author photos are usually thoughtful or serious; they're not modeling portraits. Look at Melissa Bank's photo for the Wonder Spot. This is a perfectly good author photo. If you stare at it a while, of course, she looks angry. And she is not smiling. But it's a typical author photo.

A few people have told me I looked angry in one or the other of my photos. I really wasn't, but thanks for notifying me. Other people think I look like I'm smiling (which I was in at least one), and some just see them as neutral (which they are).

So get off my back!!!



Someone e-mailed me regarding my hibernation post:

Want to go to the Hoboken Cafe happy hour kinda thing tomorrow night?


Do you have an unexplained headache this morning? Want to know how I know? (Note: It has nothing to do with my other post.)

I was in my office popping popping-paper today, and someone who was still recovering from last night's Xmas party came in and asked me to please stop.



I am scared of getting old, and equally scared of my generation getting old. When I was a kid, my brother and I and cousin would be in our great-aunt's house listening to our relatives talk about the '50s, referencing early TV shows and commercials like "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." The fifties were what I considered the Old Days.

I don't think I can come to terms with MY childhood being the Old Days. I hate it when someone reminds me that the mid-'80s were twenty years ago. I know that some day, I'll tell my kids about how I grew up with only three TV networks, and it used to take our television a minute to "warm up." But I still want the fifties to be the Old Days.

There was a line in the Wonder Spot in which the main character notes that her mother once told her that when she was young, girls used to say, "We don't smoke and we don't chew, and we don't go with boys who do." That cracks me up. That's something people would have said back in the Old Days, and that my own mother would have told me about.

There was no equivalent in my generation. And I doubt there's an equivalent now, except maybe "Use a condom."

Anyhoo, I'm getting off track. Sometimes I co-host trivia, and if there's a song from the '70s or '80s in the audio round, some early Gen Y twentysomething in the audience will say, "Oh, that was in Shrek." My half-sister's favorite movie is "Moulin Rouge," and I can guess why - it was probably her first time hearing those David Bowie and Elton John songs. That'd blow me away if I didn't know those tunes already, too.

Anyway, my point is, my childhood is slowly becoming a thing of lore, like the '50s. I hope it doesn't happen too soon. Were the '80s innocent, like the '50s always seeeeem to be? Yes and know. Honestly, I remember them as a wonderful time, even though my family life was a mess and I got picked on at school. I still managed to keep my nose in Mad Magazine and my ears on American Top 40. I don't know if I can admit that those things are old-fashioned. Well, maybe when I'm fifty I will.

For now, let's let the '50s stay the Old Days, and the '80s seem like Just Yesterday.
Staying in

Some have doubted my vow to hibernate this winter. Well, of course I leave my house once in a while, but I really am making my best effort to avoid doing it every night. It's easier to write when I don't have to wake up or leave work knowing I have to rush somewhere else right away. It's getting darker earlier. And it's cold out.

I made major writing progress yesterday and today. I have a new project to finish by March.



O wicked, wanton, noontime sun
Why must you come out
and ruin my fun
The Wonder Spot

I started reading Melissa Bank's 'The Wonder Spot' and now I want to stay up and finish it. It's 2:16 a.m., though.

I can never answer when people ask "What are you reading?" because if I really like something, I want to read the whole thing right away. I could very well finish this book by 5 a.m. (just because I read fast if I like something) and then sleep three hours until time for work. But maybe I'll just keep myself in suspense until the weekend.

So far, this book doesn't feel like "chick lit," but it all depends on what the definition of chick lit is. Sometimes, it just acts as a marketing term to sell women's writing, and, well, I gotta be all for that.

2 p.m. update

I eventually did read a lot more, although I haven't finished yet. I am blown away by the writing in this book. It's not the specific language so much, but the way she is so dead on with her dialogue and depiction of the relationships between characters. There are a lot of similarities to The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing; the main character in these interconnected stories is again Jewish, young, has an odd Carson McCullers-esque hope/envy relationship to her brother's girlfriend(s), and eventually winds up in publishing. So why am I so newly impressed? It's still such a compelling story and so different from chick lit, too. What is it that makes the difference?

Again, it's not the language. Perhaps it's the pacing. This book is slower and not as goal-oriented as some chick lit. Right away, a lot of "chick lit" books begin with a goal (like finding a good relationship), and the main character then rapidly sets off to meet it (NOTE: in any of these comments, I am not excluding myself or anything I've written, nor am I complaining about chick lit, just trying to figure out why Wonder Spot feels different from it).

The first story has the main character, Sophie, at the age of 12...and her comments, her friends' comments, and their actions place me right in the mind of an edge-of-innocence mid-80s adolescent. And even though I remember a lot of what happened back then, I don't think I could be as dead-on in my dialogue and description as Melissa Bank. Just the scene where an eighth grade boy asks Sophie, "Are you going out with anybody" reminds me exactly of the way kids used to talk back then. I don't know if kids use the term "going out" anymore, or it's been replaced by "hooking up" or something else, but the sense of innocent kids trying to be not-so-innocent places me dead in that time. The school's "cool girl" is alternately aloof and unreachable but then says things to Sophie like "see you 'round, basset hound." Cracks me up.

Melissa Bank, by the way, hates the term 'chick lit.' I consider it a marketing term, but she doesn't really need that kind of help.

And now back to rejoicing over the snow.


A different kind of terror victim

This is sad.

The man [who claimed to have a bomb], identified as a 44-year-old U.S. citizen, was gunned down on a jetway just before the American Airlines plane was about to leave for Orlando.
...According to a witness, the man frantically ran down the aisle of the Boeing 757, flailing his arms, while his wife tried to explain that he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication.
The arts are hard, Part MMCCXXXIII

This week's New York magazine says that Jennifer Jason Leigh "continues to write screenplays -- though she recently shelved a project when a studio balked at the budget."



I'm going to this, 'cause my friend is debating:

"Is Dating Tougher for Men or Women?" The Anonymous Blogger vs. Hillery Borton (Moderator: Evanchik; Host: Seavey), at Lolita bar on Broome and Allen, Wed. Dec. 7, 8pm.


Happy December

Thanks to those who came to my reading tonight. It was nice to see y'all there. A little audience debate erupted over what men like to read vs. what women like to read. Fun stuff!

On tap for this month: Revise, revise, revise...


If I had a lot of money

If I had a lot of money, I would buy one of those $1,500 defibrillators, and I'd carry it around. Then, if someone went into cardiac arrest, I would charge them $2,000 per minute to borrow it.