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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

 

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My Tiny Presidential Pile On

I’m not going to post about the election because it feels way too cliché. Just kidding! Friends, consider me infected with the political bug. This addition to the infinity already written is only to engage like-minded spirits (and survivors)–and to vent like the red-haired vixen that I am. First, some housekeeping: I won’t argue with anyone on this site and will delete hateful comments against my candidate or me. If you don’t like what I’m posting, I encourage you to move on. Until WordPress charges me money, this is my territory. Unless you’re a hacker. Maybe I should rethink this.

Well, here goes. My name is Patience and I’m addicted to the news coverage of this damn election. It’s been at level 11 since last June. No one in this household is happy with my channel choices, least of all me. I can’t even watch Housewives or The Voice (boycotting Mark Burnett shows, sorry Blake Shelton).  Not to worry, this addiction won’t last past November 9, but until then, I’m clocked in, baby. This election feels way too important and if I watch, I’m convinced it will go the right way. Like on a plane, if I fall asleep, the plane will crash. But seriously, big moments in our history warrant our attention*.

Here comes the boring part, my history with history. Feel free to skip to the final rant. After college, I watched a lot of news because it made me feel like a grownup. What was there to watch? Oh, the Anita Hill hearings, the William Kennedy Smith coverage, then the O.J. Simpson trial. I remember them clearly, which politician/lawyer asked horrible questions–ones still around and now beloved–and who got away with abuse of women in some form. I remember how the guys at my work cheered when O.J. was acquitted. That one teacher who touched me far too casually and said, “I guess I shouldn’t touch you because of Anita Hill.” Once I saw William Kennedy Smith drive by me on my way to work. I couldn’t sleep for days afterwards because he suddenly had moved nearby, in my small-ish city in the middle of the last place you would think he would live. These events kind of merged in my 20-something, new adult head as I went through the aftermath of a sexual assault–where statistics put me six feet under–and brutal criminal court experience, less than a year after my graduation. Twenty-six years later, I think about it a lot and experience it in some form every day.

My mind was made up before the release of those tapes–and yes, I know about my candidate’s baggage (about that, too, and that) and I still like her, a lot. But those tapes made what we’ve already witnessed so obviously indefensible and grotesque–enough that a few lunkheads finally smelled the foul odor and walked slowly in the other direction. Many remain firmly behind the grabber. What does that candidate have to do, dismember someone and hang her from a flag pole? It’s sad to see that savagery may not change anything. But it does change me and how I react to him and his followers.

It’s this simple: I can’t bear to be around anyone who would vote for him. It’s a vote against any woman who’s been assaulted. It’s a vote against women, period. You can’t separate this violence from a candidate. To add to these tapes, he is grotesque enough to parade a former president’s victims (alleged or not, they are victims) to rattle the opposition, opposition very prepared for all kinds of horror. Even with the escalating ugliness of this campaign, there are people walking the earth who think it’s okay to be hateful. It’s “telling it like it is,” meaning it’s okay to be a total jerk. Some people I know support him. How is this possible?

I’ve had friends from every party and I thoroughly appreciate the differences between us. While I’m passionate about my candidate, I’m more passionate that you should vote for whomever. I understand conservatives, moderates, libertarians, the green party, and progressives. They should co-exist.  This time is different, though. I can’t accept anyone in my life who believes that what happened to me and millions of women (and men) is no big deal, locker room talk. Going in that direction sets women back at least a thousand years…or sadly, twenty.

Peace be with us all. And now, I’m going to crawl back into the rabbit hole and stay quiet until I can blog about other things. Once I think what those things might be.

 

*Unless you’re really sick of the coverage, which I totally understand.

 

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When You Meet the Editor…

bitmoji-20160708104323We’re getting into serious conference season. You’re about to sign up to do a pitch, meet a publishing person for coffee, or a planned walk-by in the hall? Here are some incredibly easy ways to make this go smoothly:

Present your best self. There is no law saying you have to appear a certain way for an editor, but I notice things: a kind smile, general friendliness, cool nailpolish, maybe jewelry traits that make the writer uniquely herself. The overall package makes an impression. The best impression you can make is if you are fully yourself, open to the entire process, and ready to bring your story out into the world.

Nerves are okay. A compassionate editor will understand and guide you if your mind goes blank. We’ve been there oh so many times.  Hello, wobbly knees and shaking hands. When it’s really bad, I do as Ralph Fiennes does in Maid in Manhattan and demolish a paper clip or napkin as I’m speaking. This doesn’t happen as much anymore because of practice. When you pitch a lot, it gets easier.

Memorize the following to where it’s a mantra: My novel, _____, is a _____ word romance/thriller/contemporary novel, targeted for your ______ imprint. It’s the story of _______.  From there, you can relax. The details of your story should flow. And if they don’t, fret not! Pitching is still not the most frightening thing in the world. My cooking. That’s way scarier.

Know your publisher and editor (a bonus). The more research you do, the more prepared you’ll feel. Follow us on Twitter or whatever platform we prefer.

Have the goods. It’s one thing to be a great pitcher. It’s another to finish the book. Having a project ready to present will boost your confidence. Want even more confidence? Have that second proposal waiting in the wings.

Be friendly. Unless you get a weird vibe from one of us (it does happen), you can banter with the editor, though given the time limit, you want to get to the point.

Impress me with questions about what I do. This can help your nerves and you will show your engagement.

Spoiler: I will probably ask to read your manuscript unless it’s wildly outside the bounds of our publishing programs.

Now isn’t that easy? One calming last thought is the knowledge that editors are human. You will find us messing with our hair in the bathroom, knocking over people to get to the dessert bar (okay, that’s just me, I think), and obsessing about a book. Next week, I’ll be at a conference and I’m ready to meet some writers.

Are you ready for us?

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Snapchat. Because I Should Be Folding Laundry…

If Snapchat were to go away, I don’t know what I would do. How else to torment my brother with crazy faces? Give/receive newsy messages from my BFF as things happen? Or express facially my extreme anxiety? Or have a halo, zombie face, or a cat on my head? You too could partake in such silliness.

Behold, the Gallery of Snapchat Narcissism. And this ain’t everything! I won’t show you the one where I switch faces with Simon Le Bon…

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