Using or Losing Vacation Days

Woman in swimming poolMost years, I use up my vacation days by December 31st. This past year, I economized and saved five days for this year. Sadly, I don’t travel much because I’m lazy, destination vacations are expensive, not always a vacation, my husband has different scheduling needs, and I need to work up to a trip psychologically. Since I had to use up my extra week by the end of the month, I found myself in a rare position (don’t hate me) of needing to take days before they disappeared. I didn’t realize this until the last minute–sort of like forgetting to eat lunch. These last 2 and 1/2 days I’ve been “stay-cationing” but still doing what I usually do — editing, checking email, updating my lists. It’s tempting to post pictures of an editor’s exotic time off: reading More magazine, staring at the face serums I’ve amassed in the last year, my FitBit data, and screen-grabs of my web-surfing (TMZ, DListed, Anthropologie). Because my work/life situation is often unbalanced, I forced myself to step away from the computer this afternoon. I did the dishes, made the bed, ironed everything, caught up on Scandal (who knew Scott Foley could be so mean?). Now it’s the weekend.

I’m still not sure what to do. This is why people go away for vacation.

Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion

Vanishers and Resurfacers

Young man congratulates his girlfriendThis topic isn’t at all pertinent to my work. In fact, it is the anti-thesis of romance. I only bring it up because some readers have relayed similar “vanishing” and “resurfacing” stories. In Romance Is My Day Job, I discuss my experience with Vanishers and Resurfacers, those love interests that disappear without warning and months later show up again to throw you back into a tizzy. This happens a lot with dating in Manhattan–and I’m sure everywhere else!

Vanishers are so common and easier to get over because they’re just…gone (Berger on Sex and the City–big Vanisher). Sometimes, your Vanisher will vanish even before that first getting-to-know-you coffee date. My favorite Vanisher was Mr. Spinach. He seemed really nice, took a long train ride in for our first date in the city. During dinner, I made the mistake of telling him that he had spinach in his teeth. Gone like the wind! The most preposterous Vanisher had to cancel our first date twice. Then, on the third attempt, his car broke down on the way into Manhattan. I said to my Vanisher, “This isn’t happening.” He protested a little but then vanished. No tears were shed.

Resurfacers were always the most confounding to me because I never knew when an ex would resurface or which ex it would be–The Wordsmith, The Finance Guy or An Old Flame I’d Forgotten About. For a good twenty years, I was deeply flattered by resurfacing flames (there weren’t many, Mom–I swear). Resurfacing resembled a reunion romance, in how the hero has second thoughts and really does want you. But Resurfacers really, usually don’t want you back–they’re just bored. Yes, I spent many hours consulting my older brother, my girlfriends and my Tarot cards over this silliness. I tracked Resurfacers’ reappearances, calculating that they tended to bing* between October and January 1st–time better spent buying not-lame presents for my relatives. As the years passed, I could almost predict the email a week before Thanksgiving, when one might feel sentimental about the past: What’s up, Paysh?  This effortless reaching out would make me as giddy as flashing Christmas lights, bring me back to that sad cycle of high expectations and inevitable deflation. Sadly, I’ve been guilty of both vanishing and resurfacing, which is why when the favor was returned, it really stung. I knew it all meant nothing.

In the 80s, with a lot of time on my hands, I resurfaced through letter-writing, an ancient form of texting–with a 0% success rate. In the 90s, because I had a car, I could accidentally show up where he was–50% success rate depending on whether he was onto my devious “surprise run-in” plan. Even better in its subtlety, with old email systems, I’d “forget” to remove him from my distribution list when I wanted to send around what is now a Buzzfeed quiz or Someecard snarky quote. New email correspondence would ensue, back together, and then realize it’s the same old pits. Moving to Manhattan and discovering the dating scene put V&R into overdrive. With advanced technology, V&R-ing can happen at the press of a button (though Googling exes never makes you feel better). It is now such a tidy, fast way to enter and exit a person’s life without fuss, just to see if there’s hope for a quick fix before another adieu. Finally, in my late thirties, I grew absolutely tired of Vanishers and Resurfacers and had no desire to reconnect with the past…or anyone who wasn’t fantastic. The delete button has been my good friend ever since.

Now that I’m married, this whole issue is moot, but I do get the occasional email: Hey, Freckles. Whatcha up to? And then I tell Sam about it–and then I tell the Resurfacer about Sam. Usually, this causes immediate flight, and I feel sad, only because I know the feelings behind resurfacing (loneliness, boredom). One guy came up to me and said, “I just resurfaced the other day! I don’t know why. I just did it. I wrote to her out of the blue, ‘Hey baby, what’s up?’ I’m a total Resurfacer!”

Looking back, I see my efforts as a big waste of a brain and heart. Instead of reaching out or entertaining a DOA reunion romance, I should have read more books, worked harder, taken up crocheting. But, what can I do? I’m just grateful that I don’t care about any of this now!

*an official term my friend Joe and I use to mean “surprise visit.”

Shameless Promotion

Romance Is My Day Job in the New York Post

Romance novel editor found her love story after ditching datingHere’s the picture and link that goes along with the article in today’s New York Post. We are tickled. Though now am rethinking the background. My obsession with puzzles and knickknacks is far too evident! Also behind me are many untouched cookbooks. And a little Herodotus, which I only bought because he’s mentioned so much in The English Patient. This goes well with John Taylor’s autobiography In the Pleasure Groove and Montaigne.

Romantic Life Lessons

Let’s Be Happy

iStock_000016870614SmallThis has been a rough year for many people and it’s only March. I’m spending a lot of time wallowing in sorrow that isn’t directly mine–the missing Malaysian flight, L’Wren Scott’s suicide, whatever is happening in Ukraine, the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the baby gorilla who’s taken a turn for the worst. While I count my blessings–my family, friends, and having my first book published–this long winter has been  gloomy the last few weeks.

In my own life, I’ve decided to take action with small deeds, at least until the end of the month to perk myself up. My willpower may not last, but I’ll be doing something positive instead of weeping at CNN:

1. Watching this always helps makes me smile. He makes everyone smile–it’s cliché!

2. Instead of following the housewives (it might be too late for me to stop), I’ll spend more time with actual friends face-to-face.

3. Will seriously consider turning lifelong avoidance of Bono into appreciation of a band’s immense talent. Just because I hate the sunglasses and that he weirdly got on his knees during his song at the Oscars, doesn’t mean I can’t learn to love U2. They are kind of great and it’s the law.

4. Give up daily intake of pie/cake/cookies for a few days–yes, even ginger ale and Sprite. Sugar is so last century tho delicious.

5. Stop nagging husband about things that don’t matter. Who is this person who gripes about stupid stuff?

6. Avoid number crunching unless I can pass it off to someone else. That’s just common sense.

7. Watching this helps, too.

8. Never give up chance to see a beloved superstar in person, even if you’re not into crowds and don’t often venture to the UES of Manhattan.

9. Doesn’t this dog help a little? (Sam–please can we get a pet?)

9. When in doubt, read a book.

Romantic Life Lessons, Writing Tips

My Writing Process

9780525954385HI’m part of an actual blog tour, thanks to writer Shannon Morgan! She is an editor and a food and travel writer working on her first novel. You can check out her post on her own writing process here. I feel as if I should do more than answer these questions. Maybe I could begin with a dance sequence? Or I’ll give you a Facebook link to my dinner of crackers and Sprite grilled dry-rubbed pork ribs with a warm lentil salad (which I’m about to order from Westville). No?

Okay, without further ado, here are my questions and answers:

What are you working on?

After I finished Romance Is My Day Job, my imagination went in four different directions. So, yeah, I’m working on four different stories, which is chaotic. The one project I’m focusing on is a secret. Here are the four, in no particular order: 1. A steamy office romance 2. an After Happily Ever After sequel to RIMDJ (I left out about half the story) 3. a sweet YA novel set in a boarding school and 4. a dating guide written by a romance novel heroine. In addition to this, I edit books and write blog posts specific to the world of romance novels (if you need one, call me).

 How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My memoir might differ from others because it’s my life. That might be the only difference, really. I’m told it reads like a novel, which was intentional. Years of inspiration from romance reading helped me stay on a certain storytelling path.  There needed to be juicy conflict, romantic tension, a strong hero, emotional baggage on both sides, and a cool, yet dorky heroine (in this case, me).

Why do you write what you do?

I’ve always written–kept diaries, spewed bad poetry (no one will find it), penned the atrocious Great American Novel*, a romance novel, a library of chick lit, years of blogging, and twenty screenplays. Writing my memoir was a divine accident. I never thought I’d write non-fiction beyond blogging and my diaries. And the idea of writing about my life for public consumption seemed absurd. I understand that the person most interested in my life is me. Then again, when I told the story of how Sam and I reconnected, I kept getting a big reaction. And some of the circumstances leading up to “I do” were spectacular. So I did it!

What’s your writing process?

I write erratically because of my full-time job and, usually, the last thing I want to do when I get home is look at a screen. But I do my best, writing snippets at night and more on the weekend. There’s also the fact that I live in a small New York apartment with someone who often walks by my desk and peeks over my shoulder. I try to psych myself up for a writing jag, use a timer for bursts of prose, then a candy bar at the end. I wish I were more disciplined, especially when I don’t have a specific deadline to meet. Chocolate really does motivate me.

Here are other authors to check out:

Karen of Time Crafted

YA Author Kelly Fiore

Bestselling Author Jessica Anya Blau

*It’s 500 pages long, written right after college. A retelling of Sleeping Beauty (how original is THAT?) with a long opening dream sequence, which I thought was SO cool twenty years ago.


Romantic Life Lessons

Winter, You’re Not Getting a Rose

iStock_000000058540SmallThis season is now the visitor who’s overstayed her welcome. When winter usually arrives, I’m relieved and ready for the chill. More layers? No problem! We have special hats for this weather, some of which I’ve knitted. The snowstorms are an unexpected bonus that transport me to childhood. I used to live in the thick of blizzard country in Brockport, New York (near Rochester) and remember the storm of 1977 (I watched King Kong). Sam loves to take selfies in front of snowbanks–I have a whole album of his snow selfies. Now the cold has become a PITA. I fell in a nasty, cold puddle. My scarves are wearing scarves–every day for months. There’s nothing like the dry heat in New York apartments, where you wake up feeling as if you drank sawdust all night. Our apartment is already a dark cave, so three months of dim lighting and cold have eroded our spirits. This weekend, at last, there was sun, so Sam and I went for a walk. It didn’t matter where–turns out he needed spices for the lasagna he wanted to make–as long as we stayed outside. The more sun-drenching, the more we were smiling again.

Speaking of not getting a rose, any guesses on who’s taking home the prize that is Juan Pablo on tonight’s Bachelor?