Damned if you do, damned if you don't

If you wear a skirt or dress to work, you are guaranteed to get sexually harassed on the way to work, or at least, treated differently. Okay, by "you" I mean, "me," because I always pass a few small-time construction operations during my short commute. Usually construction guys working on a street-level restaurant. But it's not really sexual harassment all the time; sometimes it's just a construction guy saying "Hi!" or "Good morning!", but I know the same one ignores me if I am not wearing a skirt.

It's really not a big deal. But anyway, the reason I mention this is that today, I passed two construction guys working on a corner bar, and one of them yelled at me, "Nice dress!"

But I was wearing pants.

I guess he wishes I was wearing a dress so he could be rude. Oh well. I ignored the remark and continued on my merry way.

You just can't win! (And by "you" I mean "me".)


Circling around New York

Even though we live here, it was very worthwhile to take the Circle Line's three-hour tour of NYC, which the Boy and I did this weekend. I saw parts of the city more scenic than I could have imagined, and learned many useful facts.

Did you know that railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt started out when he was 12 by taking his father's boat and ferrying passengers from NYC to Staten Island for money, which was the forerunner of the Staten Island ferry? I did not know that!

Our three-hour tour was conducted by award-winning tour guide Malachy Murray, who is also an author and actor, according to a Google search. He does look like a dark-haired Val Kilmer, doesn't 'e?

Here are some photos. (I'll spare the major touristy things...well, some of them.)

When the immigrants arrived in these waters, they didn't view this string of residential towers by Donald Trump.

Queensboro bridge looks a little rusty.

Riverside church, largest church in the world.

Columbia rowing team painted that. Doesn't even look like it's in NYC, does it?

A former smallpox hospital on Roosevelt Island (formerly Welfare Island). If you look closely, the architecture is pretty intricate. But it's going to be torn down soon. Waaa! (Clicking on any of these photos makes them bigger, by the way.)

One of the last area companies to still use the local waters for shipping. But it closed down not long ago.

Can I ass you a question? (These colorful specimens were sitting in front of us.)

Okay, I have to put in one touristy thing, but a very important one. Beautiful, isn't she?? To quote Henry Roth in the great immigration novel Call It Sleep, "I hear you can go up inside her for a quarter." Well, not anymore, but anyway.
So in short, if you are a tourist or a native, I suggest you take the tour. Good suggestion by the Boy!


Humbling experience

Sometimes you get so busy that you forget to step back and realize how lucky you are, and how each person with whom you deal with in your job (or on a daily basis in general) may really depend on you.

I get a lot of calls from public relations people pitching things to the publication I work for (which shall remain nameless).

Sometimes I am busy and try to handle a call quickly if it's something that has nothing to do with our readership and is out of our jurisdiction.

But anyway, a few days ago a man called and I sensed something was different.

He was talking very slowly. He started off, "Hiii...my name iiiis...Herbert..."

He took a breath and added, "aaaaand...I've written a book."

"What is your book about?" I asked.

"It's about living with a head injury," he said.

Anyway, he doesn't live in our area, so it's not something we would cover. However, we did have the chance to help him, and to help people who might benefit from reading the book. I didn't want him to waste one of his review copies on us, but I said he should send us a press release. After all, we could probably put a short listing in our health section about how to find the book.

When I got the release, it turned out he wrote the book with his mother, who is from one of the towns we cover. So it actually is something we would write about!

The guy was in an accident when he was 19. I wonder how that changed him, what kind of guy he was before, and what his life is like now. I wonder if he looks back at his boyhood when he could dance and play without a care in the world.

Anyway, it was a refreshing reminder of one of the things I do in my job, the people out there who have so many challenges to overcome, and how lucky I am.


Quick notes

Last night, I saw TWO commercials on TV that mentioned "back to school," and one that used the Monday Night Football jingle as its background. I guess it's about six weeks until both things start again. Amazing, huh?

For those of you who saw the documentary "Capturing the Friedmans," here is an important update.

And if you're really a fan, you can see Jesse Friedman celebrating his freed-man status with his new wife.


Talkin' Baseball

The boy and I went to another Brooklyn Cyclones game in Coney Island this weekend, along with some lovely friends. It was fun. The Cyclones defeated the Tri-City Valley Cats of Troy, NY 7-3.

We didn't get there early enough to get a free Don Newcombe bobblehead, but someone was kind enough to give theirs to The Boy. It's okay for boys to have dolls, isn't it?

Anyway, as The Boy explained, the Cyclones are an "A" team, and a good player may progress to AA, AAA, or even the majors. It's nice to see guys there trying to follow their dreams, even though they don't really make much money until the big leagues, if they are lucky enough to get there. We are going to a different minor league ballpark next month.

No photos from this weekend. Think back to how it looked two weeks ago. It's still a lot like that.

I have a lot of writing to do this week, so probably posting will be light for the rest of the week.

By the way, what's up with these nor'easters that they don't predict until like 12 hours before? Two days ago, the weather report said it would be sunny all week. Weird.

Today I dropped off a revised manuscript for my agent, who intends to send it out. I was revising it to the point where I would change things, then realize they were better the way they were, and change them back. Time to wrap it up!


E-mail received this morning


I hate you for getting me hooked on "Scott Baio is 45 and Single."
Just so you know.

Well, sorry, but someone has to watch it. And The Boy will probably never let me watch it again.

By the way, everyone, someone (ahem) informed me yesterday that tonight's Mets game starts at 10:40 p.m. Yes, you read that right.


Scott Baio on VH-1

ME: "Oh good. We can watch 'Scott Baio is 45 and Single.' "
THE BOY: "If we have to watch that, YOU'RE going to be 45 and single."

The Boy is funny.

But actually, we ended up watching it. It was pretty interesting. Scott is scared that he is going to die alone. But he simply can't commit. He says he just gets bored with women after a while. When they wake up in the morning and "look like men," it's hard for him to be attracted. His type is blonde with a "big rack." He's very honest in this show. So he has this "life coach" who made him stop seeing his current girlfriend for two months. Instead, he has to go find every other girl he's been with and figure out what went wrong in the relationship. (Usually, he cheated with some Playmate or other).

Important things I learned:

-He lost his virginity to Erin Moran.
-One of his good friends is Jason Hervey (Wayne from "Wonder Years.")

So thank you to The Boy for letting me watch this. I am usually annoyed by reality shows, but I can't help it - this one amused me so!!


On another note, Google informed me that this girl spoke well of my book on her blog.


Random photo from my album

Too busy to post much, but I found this recently. Cute, huh? My dog in 1985.

I'll use any excuse to post a PUPPY!

Update: No, those are not my legs, but thanks for asking.



The Boy was kind enough to take me to Wildwood this weekend. We met up with some of his friends.

Wildwood was just as beautiful as I remembered it - the sand was extra fine, the air was cool, the motels looked kitschy, the water was calm, and there were vendors and rides galore, including lots and lots of fudge shops.

If you want to go, the best article on Wildwood was written by a terrific writer.

Anyway, here are some photos.



Just hours after I posted a blog post about waiting for my agent, she e-mailed me and said she read the new version of the book! (And no, she doesn't read this, to my knowledge. Although ya never know). She had taken it with her on a much-needed vacation.

She said she is ready to sell the book, which is a huge relief. But since I haven't looked at it since I gave it to her in April, I have to take another quick last look to see if any little things need to be changed.

After I hand it in, she'll be giving it to editors over the next few months. My work will be over.

Writing, Part II

The other day, I read this post in a chick-lit writing newsgroup I'm part of. It reminds me again how lucky I am to have been published. And that it always takes patience...

A woman wrote:

I was agented and ended up with two unsold mss. My agent and I parted ways back in September and I'm still looking for a new one (I have 3 mss I've written since and am wrapping up a fourth very soon). It's a bit daunting to try to find someone who is willing to A. sign me in this tight market and B. take on this backlist I'm accumulating. I never imagined it would be this hard to find another agent. Although I never imagined ANY of this (other than the actual writing) would be this hard.

When I started querying the first time over 4 years ago, I never imagined I'd be no closer to publication 4 years later. It is heartbreaking when you add up all the blood, sweat,tears and the time we've poured into our work to be no closer. Sure, I've learned a lot and improved my writing over the years, but I feel like I'm not any closer to selling a book.

My only consolation is knowing it's not just me; there are a lot oftalented writers out there in the same boat. We'll get there; what makes us true writers is the chutzpah to put our work out there and stick it out until something catches. I take heart in knowing the market WILL turn. It has to. Period.

And finally

I should note that today is Friday the 13th. Beware of black cats! You all have a great weekend. We'll be enjoying the sun.


Some summer reading

For those who haven't read Joyce Maynard's gripping memoir At Home in the World yet, here's a recent published essay by her that kind of speaks to what it's about. It's called "A Good Girl Gone Bad."

I'm curious about that movie "The Astronaut Farmer." How many astronauts do you think he farmed?


New words, and writing update

I'm always kind of interested in how certain words come to be. Centuries ago, who made them up, and how did they change through different languages and regions?

The fact that new words are still being created today sort of sheds light on the process.

Today's news brings us the bulletin that "ginormous" has been added to Webster's dictionary. Obviously, it started off as slang, but you can tell right away what it means, right? It's also kind of a combonym.

There is a lot of slanguage (a combonym in itself!) that gets made up today whose meaning is pretty obvious just from the sound of the word. A "stank" is a stink. "Va-jay-jay" seems to be gaining in popularity. "Ho" gained popularity in the last 15-20 years, it seems.

I just find it interesting that we still make up new words, and that we find a need for them.

Writing update

Haven't done one of these lately, so here it is.

Someone posted a New Amazon review of Carrie Pilby recently, the first one in a while. It's now been out for four years, and it's still nice that people still pick it up. Even though it mostly appeals to confused young people, this person is a mom, so that's nice!

I'd like for the book to sell out and for my publisher to print some more, but I don't know if it'll happen. I'm still grateful for how many they put out initially.

It's summer, time off from writing. I'm still waiting for my agent to get back to me on the teen book I turned in a few months ago, so I can make a few final revisions. I'd like her to send it out in September, which is the perfect time for it. Depending on what she feels needs to be done, it shouldn't take long to do a quick final revision, but I have to wait for her pronouncements. So we'll see.

I have a few short stories I like, but I haven't done much with them. There's nothing really to do with short stories except a) send out a mass mailing to a lot of literary reviews or mags, hope your story is accepted, then hope it gets into Best American Short Stories; b) hope someone will ask you to contribute to an anthology (like This Is Chick Lit); c) sell a book of your short stories (only works if you're very well-known), or d) just kinda keep them around and enjoy them. For now, I'm keeping mine around, but maybe some day I'll send out a few of the best ones.

And of course, I have other novel ideas here and there.

I don't have any major publications coming up - my essay in the New Jersey collection was the last one. Hopefully some new work will be generated eventually.

Anyway, that's the writing update.


I'm not linked

A few years ago, someone invited me to join this job connection website called "linkedin," which I guess is sort of like a professional Friendster. For no special reason, I said yes and put in that I was a journalist. That was about it.

Since then, I've gotten 12 or 13 requests to link people, but didn't even feel like logging in in order to do it. I didn't even remember my password.

Today I got an email saying I had about 15 unread messages and things. So I logged in, emailed people to say they could e-mail me, and sent something to Linkedin asking to delete my entry.

So hopefully it will be gone in a matter of hours. In any case, if you asked to "link" to me, I don't hate you; I just don't want to deal with that site. So don't take offense!


Reader mail

Blogfan Sam writes:

Your picture of your shadows in Coney Island are very telling. I can tell, for instance, "The Boy" is wearing parachute pants, and you are wearing bell bottoms. An interesting mix of nostalgia if you ask me. You are also carrying a giant bag (handbag, purse, or shopping bag?) and that "The Boy must be very mean to make you carry all that stuff. I can also tell you're both very tall, and "the Boy" must be at least 8' tall, but is a good head taller than you (so you must be 7' 5 or so). You're both also bald. Yes, the shadow can tell an awful lot about a person.

Actually, Sam, I am 7'9"...lucky I found an 8-foot man to be with!

Coney Island

(Me & The Boy)
Monday, Monday again

Wasn't it just Monday last week?

The Boy and I went to Coney Island on Saturday and saw a Cyclones game. A few photos of Coney Isle to come.

Meanwhile, here's some reader mail regarding the hanging groundhog:

It sounds like a possible suicide to me. I have on many occasions had a groundhog run out in front of my car in an attempt, sometimes successful, to kill themselves. I have to admit that I have never seen a groundhog off itself by hanging.

By the way, a groundhog is referred to as a woodchuck, in the summertime. Perhaps it had just watched Groundhog Day and become depressed.

Interesting. Here's something from Dictionary.com: "The woodchuck goes by several names in the United States. The most famous of these is groundhog, under which name all the legends about the animal's hibernation have accrued. In the Appalachian Mountains the woodchuck is known as a whistle pig."



Looks like it's getting hot again.

Meg used to deal with it like this.



From the AP:

SPARTA, N.J. - The Humane Society is offering a $2,500 reward in the case of a groundhog who was found hanging from a tree. Spokeswoman Samantha Mullen told the New Jersey Herald of Newton the killing appears to be part of "a hideous, malicious prank."
The animal's body was discovered last month by a homeowner who emerged to find it about 12 feet off the ground with a wire around its neck. The other end was attached to a wooden stake in a higher branch.

I have a suspect...and his name...is Bill Murray!


Reader mail

A reader out West writes:

It's funny that you mentioned that in your blog, because a week or two ago, I was talking about how it would be cool to watch a game where only pitchers were hitting, and only hitters would pitch. Or they could have a game that's like the All-Star game, but it's the worst players in the league.
We are going to see the Rockies play the Mets tomorrow night. I live about two blocks from the stadium here, so I have been trying to go to as many games as they can. And living in New York for so long makes all of the food prices seem affordable!

Thank you. Now, please never mention those atrocious Rockies/Mets games again.


Happy July 4!


* * *


* (cheap fireworks)


Unsilent Bob

Kevin Smith weighs in (and that's a lot to weigh) with a nice tribute to Joel Siegel. He takes the high ground even though the two had a big brouhaha a year ago.


Dear cassette tapes,

We don't spend that much time together these days, you and I.

But you really got me through high school, and some college studying. I remember the excitement of hearing a song on the radio and not knowing who it was by, but rushing to tape some of it. There was no internet to look up song lyrics, and sometimes it would take me years to figure out whose song it was. The mystery was always intriguing.

I named one tape "Wise Fool" because I made it during my sophomore year in college. Other tapes remind me of other tumultuous times in my youth. I can look at them fondly and remember.

Some tapes have my brother and me hamming it up, or trying to pretend we were DJ's. I have a friend on one or two doing song parodies.

Tapes, even though you and I don't spend much time together, I know you're there. So thanks for having provided a soundtrack to my growing up - or attempts to do so, anyway.