Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion

Weekend at Williams College

I’m a firm believer that leaving the house is a good thing. Two weeks ago, at Williams College, I sp18033806_1841392116120242_235358556887425489_noke about my employer’s global marketing program at a conference about romance. Following this, I signed my book at Water Street Books, a lovely bookstore that is too friendly to be your typical college bookstore. Where were the shotglasses and school banners? Maybe they were there, but I was too focused on the wall to wall books.

Given my new fearless status when it comes to travel, this whole trip was a labor of love: hopping on a train and getting into a car with like-minded romance-aholics. I had the pleasure of talking with stars of the genre: Eloisa James, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Sonali Dev who writes Bollywood in a romance novel, Katy Regnery, Radclyffe of Bold Strokes Books, Alison Case who is a professor at Williams (and fellow Oberlin alumna!) to name a few. We had a blast, and not because of the constant Dunkin’ Donuts outside the lecture hall.

And now I’m packing for the RT conference in Atlanta. This is my first time going. Except, of course, I have three emergency edits to do. Is it me or are work and Crazy Life Events falling from the sky all at once? Well, this just means it’s time for chocolate and dessert.

 

Uncategorized, Whining

Still in the Rabbit Hole

I should be writing about writing or even editing but I confess to a one-track mind, as depicted on the most recent Real Housewives of New York City. 100% of the time, my life bears no resemblance to a housewife’s but this season, I feel Carole Radziwill‘s pain. In the first episode, she recounts going down the rabbit hole during the presidential campaign (and I assume afterwards since I check her twitter constantly). Friends, I’m still there, just like Carole. It’s hard to wean myself off news, especially with the Constant Chaos. And all the damn bombs! It’s like high school again, only the chubby psychopath* is launching missiles instead of dissecting a fetal pig in Biology class.

My self-destructive days are over, and I’m determined to climb out. Here is what I’ve done so far:

  • I went through all my shoes and threw out 7 pairs I haven’t worn in years. And bags. So many bags. Sad bags–gone.
  • You know that button that needs sewing on the shirt you never wear? Did that.
  • Volunteered for another project at work. It’s really dumb how I keep raising my hand and, sometimes, I regret it the instant my hand comes down. Work is a fabulous distraction–and it lasts longer than Designated Survivor. I figure that after twenty years, I sort of know what I’m doing no matter what the mental state. And this time, while I’m meeting deadlines, I actually feel good about being plugged in to the world.
  • I’ve cooked three meals since November. That’s better than 0, which was my score for most of 2009-2016 (i.e. the second Sam darkened my door). You know I’m desperate if I go to the grocery store and offer to make dinner. The pork chops were inedible. Still, overachieving in the food department.
  • I text and Snapchat my brother and high school friend Nici all the time now. Stupid stuff. Usually, I keep to myself. They must think I’m crazy.
  • The little things help every day: going to the gym, checking my Google alerts on Gwen & Blake’s relationship, watching/listening to Sam talk to his brother on the phone, bugging my mother,  a new fountain pen

And there’s the fact that I wrote my first blog post in three months. That’s another step forward (or backward if you’re reading this).  Here’s hoping for some peace and quiet in the world soon. And if not, I am ready–eyes and ears open. If you have any good tips on how to cope with current events, please share! Except giving up sugar is not an option….

*There is more than one, isn’t there?

Uncategorized

Happy 6th Anniversary to Us!

I never t10154130_1420895221503269_7061014535412761438_nhought I would meet the right person. By my early forties, I got tired of hearing, “It’ll happen when you least expect it.” I hate to say it, but this wound up being true! And I would add: My mind was blown by the surprise identity of my groom. You never know, and because this applies to many aspects of life, I have hope even as the world seems to be crumbling around us.

So Happy Anniversary to serendipity, the person you don’t see around the corner, persistence, the fight, and of course, to the fun and healing properties of l’amour.

I love you, Sammy from Miami, King of Hope and Joy.

Romantic Life Lessons, Writing Tips

Will Schwalbe Delivers Book and Life Inspiration at B&N Reading

I love going to readings. Last Thursday, I attended Will Schwalbe’s reading/signing for Books for Living, which will be a keeper on my shelf. What made this such a happy event was not only the author’s joyous energy, but also the communal love of books. There are few things more sublime than being surrounded by carefully put-together book nerds. The array of fashionable eyewear alone was impressive.

The author opened his talk with his nightmare: being at an airport on his way to Perth (far away) and not having a book to read. I might have suggested an Ambien to help with the panic, but I totally get it. Books are an intimate connection to multiple factions: words, the author, the author’s world, and yourself. It is an eternal relationship that goes from one mind to the next and becomes a collective affection.

He addressed several of his life-altering books, including The Odyssey and the subject of mediocrity. I mean, Odysseus wasn’t so great about getting home. You get it.

The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang became increasingly magical as Schwalbe relayed how this book affected his life, where he was when he read it and the lessons he learned.

There was a lovely bit of shade thrown at the tech obsessed. He mentions 1984 and how Orwell hadn’t foreseen that one big screen could become a million little screens and that we’d all be carrying them. We are the ones depriving ourselves of the pleasure of living.

After his fabulous talk, we got our books signed. Rocco DiSpirito was there, and he got to cut in line because he’s cute and famous. The big moral of this story is that I deviated from my routine and it fed the soul.

Many many raves and congratulations to Will Schwalbe and his new book which I can’t wait to read after I’m done with The Exorcist–don’t ask. For those who feel depressed by the state of the world, writers and readings are a way out of the rabbit hole. I left very inspired and recommitted to put new energy into loving books.

Writing Tips

Time Management is BS in 2017

146Who has time for Time Management? No one, because if you’ve attended meditation classes at the Shambhala Center, you understand that time is as ephemeral as harmonious interaction between Real Housewives. I prefer to think of Time Management as an exercise in “Orgasmic Sharpie Worship.”

We all know that the best part about “time management” is crossing that thing off your list. It’s more official if you use a black Sharpie. You lift off the cap, take a whiff–a medium one–and make that dark line through the task. There are so many books about time management (notice I’m not capitalizing it anymore), but should I state the obvious about that?

I’ve read several of these books and have decided to face my ever-dwindling minutes and overflowing assignments with pleasure, silliness, and just a touch of violence. We’re all going to die. Why not leave a bigger legacy behind?

While creating an exhaustive list is pointless, it can be a pleasure to see how important you are. You have a list–and you can mostly spell the things on it. As I do this, I think, how fabulous that I’m such a busy person! The longer the list, the less I’m likely to accomplish but it completes my daily self-sabotaging routine. Plus, some days I surprise myself.

The second pleasure is knocking out those easy things, like: waking up. Done!

Seriously, though, I am not so fatalistic, at least not before Thursday. I do have a real system that adds complexity and a sense of accomplishment to my day. I call it my Guerrilla Day. Since I’m five, I’ve used the term “Guerrilla warfare” without knowing what it means but it sounds cool, the way “literally” used to before the flood of literallys (with vocal fry) killed it. Lest I offend someone when I’m forty-eight, I looked up Guerrilla warfare and, indeed, I’ve been using it correctly. My MO is an irregular way to work, but I do sort of attack the day in a way that is both invigorating and exhausting. I’ve vowed to get more done this year. No gentle-ing of the work process or strategizing on how to be more productive. I just get stuff done, period.

My GD starts by marking down the hours I’m awake. Next to each hour, I put down three tasks to finish in that hour. I go down the list, leaving a one-hour break here and there. An hour will look something like this:

9:00 am:

  • Answer 5 more difficult work emails
  • Edit 30 pages
  • Iron 3 shirts

And so on until about 8pm. It’s a race, one I check over when the day is done. I leave two-hour blocks for meals, which helps me catch up when I fall short. Quality is not compromised, but the key is to make good use of the sun’s journey (I keep forgetting time doesn’t exist). Notice that I combine work with household tasks. And yes, I like to iron shirts, so that’s a pleasure.

It’s a fatiguing day considering that no one really works a full eight-hour day, much less an eleven-hour one*. You do need time to agonize over the state of your nails. But on some days, I don’t know about you, but I really need to get stuff done more desperately and this kind of insane day does it for me. On a GD, I will drink a lot of coffee, get myself to the gym during one of the breaks, and forge ahead without lingering in front of the TV. It helps me make deadlines and create better work habits.

One thing to note: Every day should not be like this. Only for those times when one needs to produce. And there are even times when GD moves even faster. After this, I take time to smell the roses.

Now, how did this veer away from Sharpie worship?

*Unless you’re really, really important.

Uncategorized

Show Me What You’ve Got, 2017

The way to bring good energy into this year is to flirt with it. 2017, your numbers are so attractive. 2+1+7 = 10, which translates into a 1. You’re a winner, 2017.

And a winner would let the following occur:

Keep these celebrities alive: Duran Duran, Helen Mirren, Chic, Blake & Gwen, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, basically anyone–and their children. Seriously, if you touch Simon, Nick, John, and Roger, we are done.

Be nice to my family and friends. There are a few who have tested the gods and are still breathing due to sheer will. Allow them to prosper.

Help me get off the couch and turn off the TV. I don’t need to be Oprah and have a “Year of Adventure.” Just more nights out with Sam, who enjoys the Pâté de Campagne at Le Singe Vert and, to be honest, their Manhattans are really good.

Encourage me to work smarter. I already work hard. Show me what I could do and what is just more nonsense.

Let there be a constant supply of earplugs at Duane Reade. The plugs block out someone’s snoring.

Make me even more aware of how spectacular my husband is–if it’s possible–and if I’ve reached that cap, guide me toward how to make him happier and healthier. He deserves every good thing.

This might be a big ask, 2017. It’s not crucial, but one of those problems that accumulates over time. Find it in your heart to re-introduce me to Sweet Morpheus. We have not been in sync since before 9/11.

During the editing process, give me the discipline to avoid starting sentences with “and” or “but,” as I do above.

Show me how to let loose, as in a new drinking game every time someone says, “actually,” “really,” or “literally” on The Voice and Chopped.

Let it sink in that a compliment followed by a “but” is bullcrap.

Nudge me when I use “so” too much. I’m not 15 anymore.

Of course, I welcome a return to graphomania. This is no time to be quiet…about anything!

Put a potion in Sam’s drink so that he’ll say yes to a kitten. We don’t have children. A fluffy kitten won’t hurt anyone. Yes, the litter smells but there are sophisticated new blends that will make our apartment smell like Chanel No. 5.

And lastly, because Salieri’s rant in Amadeus sticks with me, show me how to rise above mediocrity. It’s so easy to coast in that lane, especially with a giant peanut butter Lenny & Larry cookie and a Lt. Joe Kenda marathon on ID. As 2016 has shown has, there doesn’t seem to be much time left. Why not go for it?

I’m counting on you, 2017, to show me the way. I want to smile like these jackasses* all year long.

*Did I mention how much I love a good jackass?

Uncategorized

Goodbye to 2016, the Year of No Fear

My year started with a celebration: 25 years of extra life. I didn’t say anything except quiet wishes to my friend (sister) who was with me one horrible night in early January. We are both thriving now, but it took a while, at least for me.

Then, I had a long flight for work, one I’d been sweating. Like Guinness, I don’t travel well and lose my bubbles. But when your boss shows confidence in you by sending you places, you say yes. Meeting with writers is fun for me. They feed you cheesecake and regale you with stories. All I have to do is get on the damn plane.

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We went to my thirtieth high school reunion in May, which was nice, low key, and I felt very fat. I thought that red dress would be roomier, but it wasn’t. More on my inexplicable weight gain from eating cookies below. %*$&%*! As you can see in the pic below, I’m half in love with my friend Di, who is mentioned in my book. She is a gifted artist and so full of the same warmth, moxie, and wisdom. Plus, she is rocking some serious braids. I wish she lived next door.

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I threw a surprise party for my darling husband, Sam. He had no idea what was coming and it blew him away. Maybe my favorite moment of the year, watching him walk in and see us. This whole marriage thing is pretty cool.img_1968

Sam–a French prof–decided it would be great to take students to Paris. Sure, you do that. Okay, so I managed to get on that plane again (thank you, Delta, for the amazing service). I went to France because when your husband turns 50 in Paris, you get on the damn plane to meet him there. We had an amazing time. The butter!!!

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I flew three more times after that. My fear of travel is now gone. It happened gradually until one travel day, as I strapped myself in the seat, I thought, “Oh this again.” No big deal. I ditched the tranquilizers and now just listen to music and knit. I’ll go anywhere. Except on a boat. Or a prop plane. Hate those.

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My childhood friend got hitched and I love her and her family. I rediscovered that warm fuzzy of seeing someone again and remembering deep bonds and memories. Here are some flowers from her big day.fullsizerender-003

This year, I rediscovered food. It’s weird, but food tastes good again after 25 years of not caring (and being thin). What happened? Were my tastebuds released from jail? Long story too long, I gained 15 pounds. I’m so startled not to fit in most of my clothes that I’ve upped my running. Love handles on me are not okay!

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Part III. August. As you get older, lifting weights becomes more important. Plus, I couldn’t open a jar of pickles, so I signed up with a trainer. On good days and bad days, M kicks my butt and I always feel better afterwards. (I’m not James Corden, btw)mgid-ao-image-mtv-com-207885It all seemed to be going okay, until…do I have to say it?

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On November 9, the fear came rushing back. The embodiment of my nightmares will be in office. How did that happen? I feel sick just seeing his face or hearing him talk–and I’m so so so angry. You can’t tell this broad to move on or accept the outcome. It runs too deep for many of us. I like that people think differently but this election was different–and not in a way that celebrates our differences.

It would be easy to stay indoors and sleep through the next four years. I’ve thought about it. What a waste, though. We can be a community of survivors, right? I will start by bidding au revoir to 2016. You’ve put us through a lot and I’m grateful for the lessons. Maybe not grateful in a gratitude way, but I get why things happened and how I can learn from them. But did you have to kill Prince, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and David Bowie?

Sam and I are ending the year with a nasty bug that has left us bed-ridden and watching The Sopranos. We will recover from all upsets, sinus, stomach or the caustic Orange kind, and 2017 will be about badassery and La Resistance. Stay tuned.