What I'm Reading

Stardust by Joseph Kanon
Coming out in the fall, the next novel by the author of The Good German. It's so good I kinda want to lick the pages.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's My Party

My college friends and I generally complain that we don't see each other enough. Then the holidays come, and you have weeks like last one, where we saw each other four times. My friend's husband asked us, "By the end of the week, are you going to have anything left to talk about?" Never underestimate the power of women's ability to chat. He's probably one of those men who also doesn't understand why we talk to each other on our cell phones while we're on our way to meet. Sheesh.

Monday night was our 8th annual "Christmas on Crack" theme party. Now to understand this, you need to know that my friends love to create traditions. Even better if it's a crazy tradition. And eight years ago, our friend Anthony planned a drinks night at Rolf's, this restaurant that had totally over-the-top Christmas decorations.

We all crammed into this teeny bar area, pissing off everyone waiting for tables, and drank ourselves silly on German beer. At one point, someone made a comment along the lines of, "Dude! This place looks like Christmas on Crack!" (Except the words were probably slurred.) And just like that, the tradition was born. A year or two later, Schnapps sent around an email with this funny PowerPoint presentation and a comment that it would be great if we made t-shirts. Since one of our friends does marketing promotions for a career, we all showed up in shirts to surprise her. And thus was born tradition #2--the annual matching shirts.

On Friday night was my friends Doug and Joe's annual party, the highlight of which was the most honest invitation I've ever seen:

It's that time of year again to cram a shit load of people into a 600 square foot apartment. Free food and drinks will be served to those individuals willing to go nip-to-nip with their fellow man and woman! We'll start the festivities off at 7:00 so feel free to swing by for 10 minutes on your way home from work, or stay the whole night!
We look forward to seeing you all soon!

In contrast to my "early garage style" decorating mode, their apartment is what I like to refer to as "Gay Pottery Barn." My favorite picture of the night was taken several drinks in. This is Schnapps and me talking to Comet, our pregnant friend,'s belly (which she refers to as Poppyseed, since that was the approximate size of the baby when they found out). Schnapps was telling Poppy that (s)he had to come a few days late, on June 12th, since Schnapps would be on a business trip until the 10th. I was telling Poppy how much fun we were going to have and promising to tell her/him embarrassing stories about Comet.

Saturday night was Christmas dinner with the friends in my supper club. We do a Secret Santa at this party, and I don't want to imply that we're getting older or anything, but Ronnie got a food processor and was absolutely thrilled. Anthony pulled De's name this year, and her card said "ho ho ho to my little ho. Love, Sexy Santa." She opened it in front of her husband, and no one even batted an eye. I really love my friends.

Then Sunday, the grand finale of our Christmas weekend, was my annual Christmas party. (Well, sort of annual. I had to skip the last 2 years due to the black "paying off my credit card debt" period we don't like to talk about.) I cooked for two days in an effort to make everything perfect, and Louise declared me the "hostess with the mostest" so I guess I pulled it off. Phew. There was a big storm, and a bunch of people cancelled at the last minute (including Sarah, who told me "I really want to be there, but I don't want me and the girls to get dead," an arguement I couldn't disagree with), but we still had about 25 people in my apartment, which was enough to be fun, but not so many that other people's sweat was wiping off on you. Which is always nice. After the initial period of making sure everyone had drinks and walking appetizers in and out of the kitchen, I realized everyone was having fun, everyone was taken care of, and I got to actually enjoy the party. And even though it was an afternoon event, there may have been just a little bit of drinking going on.

I'm sure in a few weeks I'll be complaining again that I don't see them often enough. But for right now, I've had all the togetherness my liver can handle.

p.s. My nativity set has absolutely nothing to do with this story, but Comet took a picture of it, and I really love it, and it was a gift from my sisters. So I'm going to show it off a little.

p.p.s. She also took a picture of the infamous tree.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Monkey Wrap

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a columnist for one of the local Woonsocket papers, and when I lived there I always loved reading her columns. They're very real, very "a day in the life," and often very funny. My mom reads it, and a few years ago there was my all-time favorite column. It was about that great bane of my existence--Christmas wrapping. Ugh.

Ms. Powers's theory is that people all fall into different categories of wrappers. There are the Martha Stewart wrappers, where every package is a work of art. The precision wrappers, whose edges are folded with military precision. The average Joe wrappers, whose packages are unexceptional. And then way down at the bottom, the monkey wrappers, so named because their packages look like they were wrapped by a monkey.

Now when this column ran, I had long since moved to New York, but my mom cut it out of the paper, saved it, and stuck it on the fridge with a cow magnet. Every time one of my sisters came over, she'd make her read the article. And the day I got home for Christmas break, she handed it to me and said, "This is for you. You're a monkey wrapper." Now, another girl might have been insulted by that. But I know the truth. And the truth is that she's absolutely right. My wrapping is atrocious. I have actually given packages where I ran out of wrapping and the piece I had didn't quite wrap all the way around the present, so I cut off a strip from the end and just taped it in between. Somehow, even when I actually try to make my wrapping decent, it still always ends up baggy. And I have gotten out of wrapping countless birthday presents by telling my nephews "You can have it now, in the bag it came in, or I can wrap it. But then you're going to have to wait for it." (For the record, that one works every time. Foolproof.)

So monkey wrap became a standard expression in the Bookgirl family lexicon. And over the years, we've expanded it to fit other activites that require patience and/or manual dexterity. My sister Denise, for example, in addition to being a monkey wrapper, monkey folds laundry and is a monkey texter. (I know the buttons on the phone are little, and it's easy to make mistakes, but I have to regularly respond to her messages with, "I don't know what that means" or simply "monkey text," in which case she knows to try again.

With Christmas coming, I was really wishing I had the original article to share with everyone, so I sent a letter (typed even) to the the author, asking her if she might consider rerunning the article, or at least emailing it to me so I could pass it around. Not only did she rerun it AND email it to me, I even got a shout out in her column. Made me happy, I tell you.

Note: Today’s column, previously seen in 2001, is appearing again by popular demand. Well, actually, one woman named Bookgirl, formerly of Woonsocket but currently living in Jackson Heights, N.Y., wrote and asked if I could rerun it, and since I’m up to my eyeball in Adopt-a-Family stuff and have no time to write from scratch, it seemed like a good idea.

Monkey Wrapping
Rhea Bouchard Powers

I have long maintained that the gift-giving world is made up of those who hard-wrap and those who soft-wrap. Those who feel that every item of clothing should be placed in a tissue paper-lined box prior to being wrapped, and those who feel that boxing is superfluous and that paper alone should suffice.
I had never really given it any thought until several years ago when I volunteered to help wrap gifts at Adopt-a-Family.
There was a winter coat waiting to be wrapped, so I unrolled a length of paper and placed the neatly folded coat on it.
“Aren’t you going to put it in a box? Bobbie asked.
“No,” I replied. “I think boxes are a waste of money.”
“But they look so much neater,” she persisted.
“Soft-wrapping takes less time and less paper. Besides, soft-wrapped packages pack a lot more easily,” I countered. The good-natured debate has gone on throughout the ensuing years with neither of us changing our mind.
I also believe that the world can be further subdivided into various styles of wrappers.
For instance, there are those to whom wrapping is an art form. The Martha Stewarts of the world who see each box as a blank canvas just waiting to be turned into a masterpiece and whose gift wrapping almost qualifies as a gift on its own. You know the ones I mean. They’re the ones that have people “oohing” and “aahing” before they even see what’s inside the package.
Then you have the precision wrappers. They’re the ones whose packages never have a raw edge showing. Their seams are double folded. Their ends are neatly trimmed. All their folds are sharply creased and their corners as neatly mitered as well-made hospital beds. These are the people who, if they were in the army, would have quarters bounced on their beds.
Next in the hierarchy are your average Joes, gift-wrappers whose packages are unexceptional. They’re neat but not militarily so. Their work attracts little or no attention. It’s just gift-wrap.
Last but not least, at the bottom of the feeding chain, so to speak, you have the category my family refers to as monkey wrappers (the group into which my sister Bev and I fall), so called because the finished product invariably looks like it was wrapped by a monkey. The more gifts there are to be wrapped, the more monkeyesque it gets. Get Bev and me wrapping together and the quality slips even further.
When we wrap in tandem, Bev usually does the cutting because she’s the only one who can get the scissorless paper cutter to work. She cuts, I tape. The only time we’re particular about trimming the paper to fit the gift is when paper is running short or we need the trimmings to wrap smaller gifts. Otherwise we just fold it all up and tape it in place. Paper a tad too short? Not a problem. We’ll bridge the gap with tape. Running a little low on tape? That’s okay. We’ll put the peel-and-stick gift tags to double use holding the main seam together. Crude, perhaps, but it works.
When it comes to bulky or oddly shaped items we employ the “bunch and tape” method whereby you wrap the paper around the widest part and anchor it with a piece of tape. Then you bunch the paper up and tape it all together as best you can. Again, it may not be pretty but it gets the job done.
We have been doing this for years I have to tell you truthfully, we’ve never had a single complaint. Kids, especially, don’t care how their gifts are wrapped. All they want to know is what’s inside the paper.
It works for me.

So in what can only be described as true irony, a project came up last week. We (and in this case we, said by anyone, means me) should send our key bookstore buyers copies of our big new release as holiday presents. Oh, and they should be wrapped. And again, since marketing translates loosely into "anything that doesn't fall clearly into someone's else job description" that left me with a giant roll of gift wrap, a handy paper dispenser, and 100 books. Now, I've never minded being bad at wrapping. It's not an aspirational talent for me. Anyone lucky enough to be getting a gift from me loves me for many reasons that have nothing to do with my ability to fold and tape. So I've always happily monkey wrapped, cringing just a little at the final product.

But these were going to VIPs. With my publisher's name on them. Shaming myself is one thing. Shaming her was something else entirely. So I wrapped a few, and then went for a second opinion. I called one of my colleagues to come take a look. Were they really that bad??

The look on his face was priceless. I'm not sure if he was more appalled as a gay man or as my Advertising and Promotions Director, someone whose whole job it is to make things look good, but all he could say to me was, "What are you? Six? Those look like they were wrapped by a child." At which point he made me sit down with him, gave me a step by step tutorial, and then made me do a couple while he watched, critiquing my every move. Now again, another girl might have been insulted. But I was just too grateful that my packages were less pathetic to take too much umbrage. Just in case he started thinking that insulting me was okay though, I waited until he left for the night and covered his office with rolled up gift wrap scraps. Yeah, that showed him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On Grapefruit

I got my annual delivery of Christmas grapefruit from The Dol today. How excited am I?!?!?

The Dol is Polly Poppins's West Coast best friend. And despite Mr Poppins's not-so-secret dream that we might some day have a rap-style East Coast vs. West Coast rumble, we really like one another. It's a good thing, too, because if Polly had made me slide over and make room on my pedastal for someone I didn't like, I'd be PISSED.

The Dol's husband is from Texas originally, and that's how they knew about Red Cooper Orange-Sweet grapefruit. They're ruby red grapefruit, that are somehow absolutely perfect and completely addictive. Since The Dol is smart and well-connected and loves to read and talk about books, she's found her way onto my big-mouth mailing list over the years. So when they ordered their holiday grapefruit a few years ago, she added me on to the distribution. It was love at first bite.

Once Polly found out about my new addiction, she got in on the action too, and sent me a couple of boxes. Mostly because she eats vegetables only because she has to, and thinks the fact that I can get truly excited about produce is adorable. For years, she would try to trick me into admitting that I didn't really like salad and was just eating it to be healthy. Also, she likes spoiling me. I love that about her.

So my girls spoil me horribly, I love every second of it, and grapefruit came to join apple loaf on the list of foods about which I've written bad poetry.

On Grapefruit
I love grapefruit, this I know
Because my tastebuds tell me so

Too much work for breakfast, but perfect for lunch
It's my #1 choice when I want to munch

I keep them in my office
And the refrigerator door
And just when I ran out,
My best friend sent me more!

They're oh so sweet
and nice and juicy
Since they're only 2 points,
Now my pants are loosey

Red Cooper rocks
Polly and Dol too
I love them more
than Winnie the Pooh

p.s. Don't worry. I'm not quitting my day job any time soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Mantra in Town

Peter Walsh, author of It's All Too Much, is an expert on organizing. On getting rid of clutter, ditching unwanted baggage, and simplifying your life. He's also the man who (indirectly) introduced me to my new mantra.

I'm a word person. I read. I write. I have whole files of quotes I just had to save. I love words. So it makes sense that the idea of a mantra would appeal to me. Words you can say to change your mood, make you think of something in a differnt way, to help you make a decision.

There are a lot that I like. Sarah's favorite yoga mantra is "I am." The mantra Denise learned from her pastor and passed on to me is "All will be well. All will be well. All manner of things will be well." The one I adopted from The Secret is "I'm so happy and grateful." Does it even matter what you're grateful for when you feel so much better just by the act of expressing gratitude?

A few weeks ago, Oprah called Peter Walsh in to help a woman who was a hoarder. Her house had been reduced to about 200 square feet of livable space, because the rest was taken up by stuff. Just all sorts of stuff. And in coaching her on how to get out from under that monkey, he told her that she needed to ask herself two questions about each piece of clutter: Does this help me get the life I want? Or does it keep me from having the life I want? Now, I didn't actually watch Oprah, since, well, I have a job. But someone who takes another Weight Watchers class with my leader saw it, and she repeated it to Courtney, who repeated it to my group. And just like that, Peter Walsh (twice removed, three times if you count Oprah) changed my life.

Because doesn't that just simplify every difficult decision you have to make? Don't most things do one or the other? Bring you closer to the life you want or farther away? It's perfect for Weight Watchers. Going to a fancy dinner with my friends, and then having dessert? It might be a lot of calories, but it's worth it. I want to be the girl who can go out, let go of the reigns a little bit, and just enjoy myself. That's totally helping me have the life I want. But the chips and onion dip I have a tendency to buy at the supermarket and then gorge on sitting on my couch, feeling bad about myself the whole time? Not so much. The week I adopted this new mantra, I lost 4 pounds. I love this man. Seriously. I LOVE this man.

I sat with him by chance at a dinner party six months ago, and it's a good thing I didn't know about this whole mantra thing back then. I might have embarrassed myself. It's bad enought that I gave him an honest estimate about how many pairs of shoes I own. He seems to think I don't actually need that many shoes. Silly man. I won't hold it against him, though. Nobody's perfect, right?

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Those of you who are new to my world may not know this, but I love Christmas. I really love it. At this time of year, my friend Nancy calls me “Chrissy Christmas.” (Aside #1: I know I usually switch things to Bookgirl in this blog for consistency, but Bookgirl Christmas doesn’t have the same ring to it. Aside #2: Just because Nancy calls me Chrissy doesn’t mean you can too. The list of people allowed to call me Chrissy is short. If you’re not sure if you’re on it, you’re probably not.)

But back to the topic at hand. I love Christmas. And everyone who knows me knows that. So every Christmas people buy me more ornaments and decorations and Christmas-themed housewares. Friday night, I purposely didn’t make plans. I went home after work to unpack my Christmas boxes and take stock of what I had. Out came the boxes. And boxes. And boxes. And I realized something. I am not okay. I am the poster child for conspicuous consumption. I counted, and if you count anything large enough to stay in its original box as its own box, I have 11 boxes of Christmas decorations. Eleven. I have three decorative Christmas pillows. Twenty-five Christmas CDs. Three boxes of onrnaments. Christmas dishes. Christmas glasses. Christmas wine charms. Pot holders and dish towels, place mats and cloth napkins. Napkin holders, spoon rests, salt and pepper shakers, and sugar bowls. It’s shocking, and a little bit embarrassing. But it sure is pretty. I like to think that I try to keep my decorations tasteful, and that all those tiny white twinkle lights all over my living room give everything a soft touch. Deep down I suspect that it might just look like Christmas threw up in my apartment, but I’m okay with that too.

On Saturday, my sister Denise and I had our annual Christmas shopping and feel-good movie day. Every year we meet at the Connecticut outlets in the morning (about an hour and a half drive for each of us), shop all morning, have soup and sandwiches at the same little café for lunch, shop a little more, see a movie, shop the rest of the day, and then go to Friendly’s for dinner. We somehow even get the same waitress every year. We’re creatures of habit, Denise and I. I got a ton of shopping done, totally loved the movie Enchanted, and even found these two great sweaters that fit perfectly and will show up under the tree on Christmas Eve to me from Den. (She has such great taste. I don’t know how she knew I wanted them. It might have something to do with my picking them out, trying them on, and then handing them to her and saying “Merry Christmas to me, from you.” Oh, and it turns out that on open highway with no traffic, my beautiful new car can go 90 without even shimmying. Um, not that I tried it or anything….

So yesterday was the big day—decorating day. I left my apartment, all bundled up, pushing my little rolling cart through the gently falling snow, off to get a Christmas tree. An hour later I came back to my apartment, cold, wet, and treeless, and said to my roommate, “You know those things I do, that will be really funny when I’m writing about them later?”

I’m not sure how people get Christmas trees in other cities, but every neighborhood in New York has at least one Christmas tree stand set up on the sidewalk. These nice people come down from Quebec with their trees and live out of their vans for the month of December. So I walked (4 streets and 2 very long avenues, this will be important later) to get my tree. Sure, I have a car, but why take it out in the snow when I have my trusty cart that’s served me so well in past years? I got there and explained specifically what I wanted—6 or 7 feet high, it had to be very fat and very round, and it had to have the stiff needles. No wussy soft needles for me. (It turns out that the technical term for what I want is balsam. I’ll forget it by next year, but good to know.) They go digging into their stash and come up with The Tree And I come up with the perfect solution to the whole “struggling to put the tree in the stand” torture I go through every year. I’m just going to throw some money at it. So I tell the nice Canuck. “I already have a tree stand at home. But I’ll buy one of yours if you put the tree in it for me.” He gets more money, my roommate and I don’t have to fight over whether or not it’s straight. Everybody wins. So far so good.

But now it’s time to pay for it. And this is where the problems start. I have $3 in cash, and I lost my ATM card. Again. I know this would be a big deal for someone more organized than I am, but I lose it pretty regularly, and it usually shows up, so I’m not all that worried. I had taken my American Express card so I could take a cash advance against it. Yes, I knew I’d have to pay a fee, but today was the day I was putting up my Christmas tree, dammit. I refused to let a little thing like service fees get in my way. So I leave the pretty tree and go into the drugstore to get money from the ATM. Transaction Denied. Shit.

But wait. The ATM had a weird message when I got there, and it made me wait while it loaded. It’s obviously the machine. I go across the street to the bakery and try again. Transaction Denied at this Terminal. Ah, that’s it! American Express won’t let me take a cash advance at a store ATM for my safety. That’s so nice of them. I need to go to a bank! Great. So I walk 3 long avenues and 3 streets to the nearest bank. I’m good. I’m getting my money. Transaction denied. Okay, now I’m in trouble. They already cut the tree for me, put it in the stand. I can’t just not go back, because I left my cart with them. Besides, this is decorating day, dammit

So I head back to my apartment (one long avenue, 1 street) and show up (cold, wet, and treeless) to explain to my roommate that this will all be very funny later, but right now I need her to give me her ATM card so I can go get cash to pay for the tree. I walk to her bank (2 long avenues, 1 street) and back to fetch the tree (4 long avenues, 3 streets). I’m in business. I’ve got my tree. It’s in the stand. I’m ready to go. But oh, one little detail. See the stand is too big to fit in my cart so they’ve had to tie the tree across the cart. Which means I now have to make it home (4 streets, 2 long avenues) with a 7-foot wingspan. In the snow. In New York City. I wish someone had been there to see me. Tilting the cart to get around trees, just giving up at some points and pushing my cart down the middle of the street like a homeless person. And of course, giggling out loud, because even I can see how ridiculous I look. Anyone who saw me had to think I was insane.

So finally. Finally!!!! I get home. I push my cart up to the ramp that leads to my side door and all I have to do is get the tree off the cart and I’m home free. But did I mention that it’s tied on? Really tightly? I try sawing through the rope with my house key. This is going to take forever. I try just standing the tree up and holding it, with the cart still tied on, sticking off the front like a three-foot tumor. There’s no way I can get it inside without killing myself. Now I’m screwed. My super is out there shoveling, but he’s conspicuously ignoring me and avoiding eye contact. I’m going to have to leave my tree outside, unattended, and go inside for scissors. My beautiful, beautiful tree that I have now worked REALLY hard for.

Just then, one of my neighbors comes to my rescue. He has nothing to cut with either, but that’s okay, because his window is right above where we’re standing. And he calls his wife and has her (I couldn’t make this shit up) drop a steak knife out of their kitchen window down to us so he can cut the rope for me.

So my beautiful tree made it inside my apartment, I got a workout, I made friends with my neighbor (and his wife, who I met when I returned the knife) and my apartment is totally decorated. I still love Christmas, but right now I’m glad it only comes once a year.

p.s. For those of you who remember the Fourth of July Lost Key Debacle, I still haven’t found my ATM card, but while I was looking for it, I found the key to my dad’s car. It had somehow fallen between the head of the bed and the wall, and gotten stuck under there. Because I evidently took my car keys to bed with me the night before?? For those of you who were with me, just how much tequila did I drink that night??

Friday, November 30, 2007

Where Do You Live?

You all know how to figure out your porn star names, right? Combine the name of your first pet with the street you grew up on. That would make me Goldie Bernon, which you have to admit is a GREAT porn star name. (I wasn’t allowed to have real pets, so after a while I stopped even naming the goldfish. They were just all Goldie.)

And there are a million games out there where you can use your real name to figure out different nicknames. You can get your Gangsta name. Mine is Purple-Headed Monkey Smuggla, but you can call me Purp for short. If you want a silly name, Captain Underpants can give you one. There, I’m Buttercup Bubble Fanny. I’ve always loved that one. And when the Ya-Ya movie came out and Polly, Diosa, and I went to see it together, smuggling in alcohol, we even got to figure out our own Ya-Ya names. I’m Princess Road Rage. (No comments, please, from anyone who’s ever driven with me…)

Plus there are the million nicknames my friends have for me, or any of my sisters’ names, all of which I’ll respond to. (Someone saw me at the mall last weekend with my mom and thought I was Celeste. She’s aged remarkably well, but seriously?? Did you think she just magically stopped aging sixteen years ago???)

So with all these made-up ways to identify myself, you’d think I’d be happy. And I was, for a while. But then those AT&T ads popped up, the ones that show people calling all the places they do business or their loved ones are, and making up a name for where they live, based on those places. And suddenly the made-up names weren’t enough. I wanted a made-up place too, dammit. So I got to thinking (way more than is normal, given the task at hand) and came up with the perfect one for me.

I love in New York, my family is in Rhode Island, and my best friends are in Massachusetts and San Diego. So I need a phone that works where I live, a place I call New Rhosachusiego. Thanks, AT&T. While I have no intention of switching to your network, I sure am enjoying your ad campaign.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hold the Frankincense

It's official. My mother is not going to be the Messiah's grandmother. Phew.

Okay, maybe I should explain. See, this may be an overshare, but a few months ago, I just stopped getting my period. Entirely. No period. My friends told me I should go to the doctor, but I said, "Nah. It's probably just a fluke. It'll come next month." Then October came, and not so much. No period.

Now, there was a time in my life that 2 missed periods in a row would have sent me crying, big, gulping sobs, into the nearest drugstore to buy a stick I could pee on. But this is not one of those times. And as Polly says, "Miracle no happen."

So I made an appointment to see my doctor to find out what was going on. And when I told my mother about it, I said, "I may be pregnant. But if I am, they're going to be talking about it in church for centuries. Just think! You could be the Messiah's Memere! Wouldn't that be cool??"

Mom: "No." She's a great lady, my mother, but she doesn't always appreciate my sense of humor.

So it turns out everything is fine, and occasionally a woman who's been on the pill for a while will just stop getting her period. And it's totally normal. No baby. No period. Kind of the best of both worlds, no?

My mom's next question, because yes, Virginia, she really is that naive, was "What were you put on the pill for in the first place?" There is a time and a place for honesty. This was not that time. And generally speaking, anywhere my mother is is not that place. She knows about the blog. I've shown it to her. I've read entries to her. But she doesn't read it, because she prefers her impressions of my life to come filtered and modified into a version rated M for Mom. So I did the only kind thing I could under the circumstances. I lied. I think she would have wanted it that way.

p.s. There was a moment when I was seriously tempted to answer that question with "Hope springs eternal." But I had a feeling that was another one of those jokes she just wouldn't appreciate...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I'm leaving tomorrow for Thanksgiving in Rhode Island, and I am so... freaking... excited. I haven't seen my parents since Labor Day, and for this mommy's girl, that is WAY too long. Yes, I've got my annual fall case of the "miss my moms." And this weekend will be chock full of Mrs. Bookgirl. In addition to the holiday on Thursday, we're spending the day together on Friday for our annual Christmas shopping day. When I was in college and didn't have a car, my mom started taking me shopping the day after Thanksgiving so I could do all my shopping, and she could see what I liked. And even though she's not a big fan of the tradition, I just flat-out refuse to let it go. As one of a pack of kids, one on one mom time is rare. I'm not giving up a guaranteed mommy day without a fight. I did offer her an out this year. "I know you don't love shopping the day after Thanksgiving. I want to go, but if you really don't want to, I guess I can find someone else to come with me." Shocking that she agreed to come, isn't it? He he he. I learned guilt at the knee of the master. I'll bet she never realized I'd turn it back on her some day. Saturday the girls (and dad) are going into Providence to walk around and go out to eat for mom's birthday. (She's turning 73, but don't tell her I told you.) So I'll get a nice, full dose of mommy time. That should be more than enough to tide me over until Christmas.

My family celebrates Thanksgiving at my cousin Lisa's house. One year her son decided we all needed to announce what we were thankful for, and yet another family tradition was born. We're a mushy bunch, so the girls have always been thankful for all the basics--family, each other. The men, well, they're a different story. That first year Mike, Lisa's husband, was thankful that Woonsocket had gotten a home repair superstore. His brother-in-law was thankful that Detroit was covering the spread. As time went on, though, even they got into the spirit. The year that Mike beat his terminal cancer diagnosis and was there with us at Thanksgiving, well, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. And he had a lot more than Lowes to be thankful for.

Since you're my online family, I thought I'd share my Thankful list with you all this year.
1. You, naturally. I've been looking for a creative outlet for years. Knitting, jewelry design, drawing, you name it. But nothing has made me as happy as writing this blog has. And the fact that you guys actually come back to hear what I have to say, that you give me your time and attention, that you respond and weigh in. Well, it's humbling. From the bottom of my heart, thanks.

2. My family. Even my rotten nephew David, who last Thanksgiving said he was thankful for his mother, his grandmother, and his girlfriend. Do you hear my name in there? No? Me neither.

3. That my problems aren't real problems. Before Polly was a mom, she was a full-time writer with no day job AND a cleaning lady (you can take a minute to be jealous, she would want it that way). When she would call me to complain about something, she would always preface it with "I know my problems aren't real problems." And I try to remember that sentiment. Sure, we all have things we bitch and whine about. But I'm healthy, I'm happy, I have a job to go to, a place to live, food to eat, people to love. No one I love is deathly ill or in grave danger. My problems are not real problems.

4. Ella. 'Nuff said.

5. My new suede purse (I can't include a picture because my cell phone battery is low, but I'll try to add one later), and my leopard-print shoes. Yes, it's shallow. But I'm thankful for them. I really am.

Hope you all have a fabulous holiday. And if you want to chime in with your own thankful lists, I'd love to hear them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shoe Slut

I've been looking all over for the perfect pair of close-toed black shoes. I was wearing my sandals up until 2 weeks ago, and it was time to transition.

There was a long list of requirements to qualify a pair of shoes as The Shoes. They had to be cute, and versatile enough to go with pants or casual skirts. I wanted a chunky heel, so I can walk down the street without having to do the subway grate avoidance dance to not get my heel caught. They need to be comfortable enough that I can stand on my feet all night. I love a Mary Jane-style shoe, so I was looking for something with a strap or buckle on top. Everything I tried on was too expensive or uncomfortable, or too high a heel. So imagine my excitement when I found these. They were EXACTLY what I wanted. You know where I found them? In my office, underneath my desk. I bought them last winter and left them there over the summer.

I think I might officially have a problem.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Prettiest Girl in the World

Hanging out with girlfriends recently, the talk turned, as it always does, to body image. I complain about my weight. A friend who weighs 80 pounds less than I do refers to herself as a “fat bastard.” Another friend cringes every time she sees herself in a picture. It’s a rare woman who’s completely happy with how she looks, who looks at herself in a mirror without noticing the faults first.

I remember being at an aerobics class with my sister when I was in junior high and telling her that I would give anything to look like the instructor—thin and conventionally pretty. Michelle reminded me that I was most likely both far smarter and a much better person than her, but at that age none of that mattered. I would have gladly traded in my genius IQ for a size 6 body and a face that wasn’t perfectly round. It’s a damn good thing God doesn’t answer all our adolescent prayers, because you all would be reading someone else’s blog right now, and I’d be admiring myself in a mirror somewhere.

While I’ve long since lost the willingness to give up what I am to look different, I’m not going to lie. I never outgrew the longing to experience, just for a little while, what it’s like to be pretty. To see my looks open doors, to feel what’s it like when you turn heads. Remember the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces with Barbra Streisand? She plays a plain-looking woman whose mother and sister are both gorgeous, while she has to come to terms with never being the pretty one. I saw it in the theater with my niece, who is the pretty one, and I cried for five hours afterward. It hit a little too close to home.

All of this female dissatisfaction is heartbreaking, and it terrifies me for my nieces. All those perfect little girls, with their round cheeks and smooth skin and chubby bellies, are some day going to see themselves with unkind eyes. They’re going to compare themselves with models and actresses and with their friends who are more thin or more pretty or more something, and feel they don’t measure up. They’re going to devalue themselves and demand less than they deserve from others, and it’s easy to meet a woman’s requirements when she sets the bar that low.

And that, my friends, is where we come in. Because can’t we make a difference? If we start now, can’t we teach them what they’re worth? Those little girls are clay, waiting to be molded. So why can’t we mold them not in our own images, but in the images we want them to have? My friend Kerri knows this woman, G. I first met her years ago, and although G was on the heavy side, she seemed to suffer from none of those crippling insecurities the rest of us were writhing under. I asked Kerri about it once, and she explained that it was simple. G’s family, the whole time she was growing up, had reminded her constantly that she was beautiful, she was fabulous, she could do anything she wanted to. And hearing it over and over, she believed it.

What if it’s that simple? I mean sure, it’s not a proven solution, but it could be part of it. Maybe if we’re positive about ourselves instead of talking about our faults, if we focus on what we like about ourselves instead of what we don’t, and if we remind them every chance we get how fabulous they are, we can raise our daughters and nieces to be different than we were. To love themselves, to love their bodies, to not get caught up in those same destructive cycles we did.

As soon as my goddaughter was old enough to listen to me and pay attention to what I was saying, I made up The Ella Song. “There once was a girl named Ella, and she was the prettiest girl in the world. There once was a girl named Ella, and she had the prettiest nose in the world.” One by one I go through her body parts—eyes, ears, mouth, arms, belly, legs, touching each of them, telling her how pretty they are, how pretty she is. I’ll hold her close when I sing to her, and she’ll stare into my eyes the whole time, moving her head back and forth to my singing. Just recently, she started directing me. “You forgot dis one,” she’ll say, and hand me her arm. Or I’ll tell her how pretty her left hand is, and she’ll hand me the right one and say “Dis one too.” Sarah told me after Ella and I are together, she’ll hear her playing, singing the song to herself.

I’m not naïve enough to think a silly made-up song will somehow save her from heartbreak, or keep her from teenage angst. But when’s the last time you saw a girl suffering from too much self-esteem? Yeah, me neither.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Let the Good Times Begin

Today's the day!! Liz and Diosa are coming to New York to stay with me for the weekend. (There so better be a blog from each of them on this next week, or they're dead meat.) Polly was invited too, in a sort of backhanded "You can come if you really want to, but I'd rather you didn't" way. It's not that I don't want to see her. I ALWAYS want to see her. But if she's finally going to come visit me after 10 years, I want it to be when I haven't already run out of vacation time. And I want to be able to tailor it completely around what I know she'll love. This is the "Liz's first trip to New York" trip, so this one's planned around her. (And yes, Polly, I know you've technically seen me in New York, but slotting in a few hours with me in between other activities does not count as visiting me. I want quality time, dammit.)

I love playing tour guide. And I've been told I'm good at it, which of course makes me like it even more. I've worked up a whole itinerary--activities, restaurants, the whole deal. I hope those girls weren't expecting a laid-back, relaxing weekend...

Although Diosa and I have been friends since the first grade, this is the first time we meet Liz. So of course the obvious choice was to invite her to stay on my couch. Duh. My "personal safety" friends (the ones who worry about things like this) are of course completely freaked out. But I'm just excited. Even Polly, normally one of my PS worriers, thinks it's a great idea. Evidently Liz and I are the same type. And that type doesn't tend to be a threat.

Liz and I kept joking when we were first planning the trip that it would be great, as long as neither of us was secretly an axe murderer. I had a brief fantasy of borrowing my dad's chainsaw and leaving it conspicously out in my living room for her arrival, but that felt like way too much work to go through for a prank. Once I rejected the idea I told Liz about it, and she said she'd laugh her ass off. And then check into a hotel.

Of course, if I never blog again, then you'll know that Liz's whole "happy-go-lucky mother of two" online persona was just an act. I hope you'll miss me.

p.s. The Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree went up today, the red cups arrived at Starbucks yesterday, and this morning I had my first Eggnog Latte. So I couldn't resist. Christmas music season began this morning in my office. How much do my coworkers hate me?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Quick Hits

A few schizophrenic and totally unrelated thoughts...

On Halloween night I was on the E train, and I saw two friends dressed up as an Arab and a Jew. And the costumes were PERFECT. The one had on the red-checked head covering, the white robe, thick black mustache, the shiny, reflective sunglasses. The other was dressed all in black, had the sidelock curls, the black hat with the brim. Just perfect. And I was overtired, and punchy, and couldn't stop laughing. I'd get myself under control, and look at them out of the corner of my eye, and start giggling all over again. I heard someone compliment their costumes, and the Arab responded, totally deadpan, with, "Oh, this is real." Cue additional giggling. I came very close to asking if I could take a picture of them for my blog. But then I remembered this is New York, and we don't do that. They absolutely made my night. Well, them and the teeny Donald Duck in the stroller who was so tired he was head-bobbing.

I called my mom when I got home from Florida to tell her I was back in New York, and she told me she didn't know I was away and had to hear about it from her sister, who heard from my sister.
Me: "I called before I left and told dad all about it. We had a long conversation. Didn't he tell you?
Mom: Long Pause. "No."
Me: "When I call the house to tell you guys something and I get Daddy, do I have to actually specify to him that he needs to tell you?
Mom: "Evidently, yes."
Good job, Dad. The thing about my dad is that his phone behavior is completly dependent on what he was doing, and therefore what you pulled him away from, when you called. Some days I'm dying to talk to my mother and he's feeling chatty. Other days I get a perfunctory half-attention, and then when my mother gets close enough to pass off the phone he cuts me off no matter where I am in my story to say, "Here's your mother," regardless of which one of them I actually called to talk to.

While fall may have officially arrived in September, the weather around these parts only got on board recently. But it's here. Which means that today was the first day totally conducive to all my favorite things about fall: I'm wearing my red boots that zip up the sides, I had a pumpkin space latte this morning at breakfast, I have on a brand-new sweater I bought this weekend, I'm still feeling the afterglow of yesterday's big Pats win, and I got to wear my pink coat, which is my very favorite piece of clothing. It's like a perfect storm of things that make me happy.

Oh, and I got these pictures from Sarah. They sure do have pretty fall decorations at her house. All I've got at mine is a felt pumpkin...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

It's Our Anniversary

My Beloved New York City,

You know what today is, don't you? Of course you do. It's our anniversary. Ten years ago today, I gave up my old life to move here and be with you. It wasn't easy at first. There were a lot of tears (all mine) and some cruel tricks (those would be yours).

While I knew Woonsocket and I weren't meant to be together forever, giving up my old love for you was still tough. W might have been all wrong for me, but he was comfortable. And you, well, you challenged me. W never left me stranded on a platform because I wasn't aggresive enough to push my way onto a crowded train. He never dumped me off in Harlem because I was reading a book and didn't notice I was on the wrong subway. That trick you played, New York, the one where I was all dressed up and lost one shoe on your subway, and ended up at work in a velvet dress, blazer, and sneakers, with no shoes to change into? Not cool. And that same day, when that cheap black velvet dress dyed my entire body purple? You laughed, I know you did. And that was all just the first month we were together. You're lucky you shaped up, New York, because I'm not sure how long I could have kept going like that.

But let's not rehash the way you hurt me. Let's focus instead on the good times. And in our ten years together, we sure have had some. There was the cocktail party you made it possible for me to attend, with Arthur Miller and Studs Terkel. The one where I had a whole conversation about John Steinbeck, my all-time favorite author, with his son. It took me weeks to be able to talk about that without giggling like a little girl.

There were nights walking your streets, and mornings when it was already light out as I left the club from the night before. That one time, when you threw in the early-morning snow for dramatic effect--I really appreciated that. There were drunken cab rides, going over the 59th Street bridge, looking at the lights below me, while I dangled my feet out of the cab window and giggled on my cell phone. There have been Broadway shows, perfect days walking along your rivers or sitting in your parks, and more opportunity than I ever could have dreamed of finding with another city.

I don't know what I'd do withhout the people you introduced me to. The friends who taught me that the expression "urban family" is more than just an expression. The roommates who were far better spirited about me coming home late at night and getting into bed with them than I had any right to expect. The road trip friends, and the dancing friends, and the party friends, and the playing Scrabble in a coffee shop friends, and the comfort me when I'm sad friends, and the watch football and eat wings together friends.

New York, for a relationship that I first thought was only temporary, we've sure been through a lot together. You taught me and stretched me, and made me grow up in a way I never would have in that cozy cocoon I was in before you. And I'd like to think that even just a little bit, I've made you better too. Or at least a little bit brighter and filled with a little more laughter.

Happy Anniversary, New York. Love you. Mean it.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. That's the sound of me drowning.

I've got worked piled up so high I've started having avalanches in my office, I still haven't mailed my godkids' Halloween presents, and I'm leaving tonight for vacation. I'll be in Florida until Wednesday with 3 of my college friends, celebrating my friend Vicki's birthday. She's one of my favorite vacation buddies, and her parents have a house on Marco Island. I love that about her.

But have no fear. I'm bringing my trusty laptop. With any luck, I'll come back on Thursday tan, rested, re-energized, and with lots of great blog fodder.

Miss me!

p.s. I LOVE kids in costumes. I usually come home early on Halloween, wander around the neighborhood baby-watching (there are literally THOUSANDS of kids in my neighborhood), and then when the little ones start to fall aslleep, go home and post a note in the hallway saying that trick-or-treaters are welcome in my apartment. But since I'm flying in on Halloween night, I'm missing my tradition. So help a girl out. If you've got kids, send me their Halloween pictures please.

p.p.s. In the pre-Ella days, I used to have fierce baby envy at Halloween, but now I just buy her costume. This year, when all the other little girls are going as fairies and princesses, she's going as a linebacker, in her Tedy Bruschi jersey. That's my girl...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Guest Blogger: On Matters of Baseball and Religion

The Red Sox are in the World Series, and I was debating what to say, when my roommate Jodie sent this to me. I hate admitting that someone may be smarter than me, but well, she is. Also, funnier. Hell on my ego, I tell you. And really, there is nothing I can write that can even compare with this. So she's today's guest blogger.

Ok, so I've always been somewhat ambivalent about the Red Sox. Having grown up in Kansas City, an (admittedly pathetic) American League city, I gravitate to American League teams, which, having lived in NYC for the last five years, means the Yankees.

And, if you like the Yankees, you basically have to hate the Red Sox as a matter of course. So the Yankees are (sort of) my adopted team (especially because, no matter what anyone says about him being boring and/or possibly having herpes, I think Derek Jeter is pretty), but the Red Sox do have those cute little red socks on their hats (as a girl who actually likes sports, I'm a little embarrassed that these are actual criteria, but they are). On the other hand, since breaking the infamous "curse," the Red Sox do seem to whine more than any other deep-pocketed winning team, but I get most of my Sox news from the NY press so perhaps it's clouded.

My point: ambivalence. I was unsure who to root for in the world series until last night.

I had heard rumblings that the Rockies had a lot of Christians on their team and they were guided by God or whatever, and, it does seem to a casual observer that God does really like the Rockies, allowing them to win 21 of their last 23 games or something and sweep the NLDS and the NLCS and then take a nice relaxing 8-day vacation (I actually wish God loved me enough to give me an 8-day vacation, but there are a couple of frat parties from college that pretty much guarantee that's just not going to happen).

But, the scuttlebutt at this dinner party last night had it that the Rockies-God connection might be a little more than casual, and, by a little more, I mean A LOT more. So, this morning I googled it and found this:

And, I'm disturbed. I am not against people believing in God or anything like that but when USA Today, which is probably the most middlebrow, innocuous paper in the country, can basically imply that you are recruiting a God squad of what you call players with "character" ( i.e. Christians only, and only two, quite possibly accidental, blacks) then you know the situation is probably even scarier than it comes across on paper. Now, I know that the Rockies aren't the only fundamentalists in baseball. And I also know that not all fundamentalists are batshit crazy (or not all the time? Actually, I don't know that much about fundamentalists). I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm all for religious tolerance except that this article makes the Rockies sound like they are promoting a form of religious intolerance that I just find ridiculous and completely offensive. I don't know why but I'm just floored by this institutionalizing of religion in sports and the fact that no one is calling them on this (or suing their asses off for religious discrimination, frankly). Am I overreacting?

My main conclusion, though, is this: if God really has the time/inclination to concern himself with the World Series, then I hope he favors Boston. And whereas before I would probably only be a casual observer of the proceedings, I am now wholly invested in their victory. G-O S-O-X!

Dear God,
I know, it's been awhile. I've been busy. Also, I don't quite believe in you. But, let's focus. You love all your creatures, right? And I've never really asked you for much and the things I have asked were more of the trivial, please-get-me-out-of-this-type requests that I know you don't pay any attention to normally (although, that one time, after the broken condom, if that was you . . . sincerely, THANKS). Ok, so back to me and my (small) request. I won't get into the fact that there are fires raging in Southern California, soldiers (and Iraqi civilians!) dying in Iraq, genocide in Sudan, yada, yada, yada, and how you probably have more important things on your mind. I know that's just something non-believers say to deny your infinite power. You totally have time for all that plus touchdown passes, and making sure people sing well enough to win Grammys and getting people to the pit stops first on The Amazing Race. So, we're on the same page, is what I'm saying. And I know you've been helping the Rockies out. This isn't inside knowledge, they tell everyone (is that allowed?). Well, anyway, I know. And I'm here to ask you if you could, maybe, switch teams? Not permanently. Seven games at the MOST. Now, I know the Red Sox might not all seem like they are totally "on board," but Curt Schilling definitely is, and I'm sure when Manny said that if the Sox didn't win the ALCS it wouldn't really matter, he added, "because it's God's will." That was just cut out by the sports reporters who are basically Godless heathens anyway. Or he may have mumbled. He does that sometimes. So, what I'm saying is that even though some of the Red Sox might keep copies of Playboy in their lockers, and a few of them, occasionally as baseball players sometimes do, might accidentally find their penises in an unidentified groupie or two, that I know that they love you and even though they may not be asking for it quite as loudly, they really, really want you on their side. And you're supposed to help people who can't help themselves, right? Sorry, I'm a little rusty on this stuff. Is that right? I'm going to assume it is. From everything I've heard, you're one helpful lady. Ok, so we're clear. I'm asking you to help the Sox win the World Series. I know if you do this, you probably won't hear the end of it for several months. From what I hear, the Rockies are incredibly diligent in their communication with you. But, I think you should know, I don't think the Rockies are doing the right things with your love. And, sure, right now it's just a little garden-variety (practically harmless) religious discrimination. But you never know. People do some crazy things when they think you are on their side 100% of the time 24/7. So, not to overstate the case or anything, but a Red Sox win might just mean a victory for civilization. Or mankind. Or both. No pressure.

Ok. That's all, God. I'm actually really glad we had this little chat. I promise not to bother you again for a really long time. The Amazing Race starts again on November 4th, so I know you'll be busy.

Your friend,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Operation Match

Ok, guys. It's dire. Everything I always feared about online dating. Except worse.

The profile went live Thursday, and I've taken Polly's advice. Rather than reading guys' profiles in depth, therefore getting my heart set on them, I'm emailing anyone who looks like potential with the subject line: Maybe a match?
And this email:
It looks like we might be a match. If you're interested, I'd love to hear from you.

Simple, direct, and totally ineffective. I've heard back from only two guys, one to tell me he was seeing someone, but just staying on Match until his membership expires (Translated loosely: in case I find someone better). And one guy who is both locationally undesirable and has a kid (which would be fine in someone I was crazy about, but not someone who's on the fence already.)

One of the things you can do is "wink" at people, and I've gotten a few, and responded to them with a wink of my own, expecting them to take the lead on actual conversation. One did. And that turned out to be unfortunate.

Him: Good Afternoon! Hope you are having a great day! I am in the Bergen Beach area of Brooklyn! I look forward to hearing from you! Ciao! (his name, which I'll leave out)

Me: (4 days later, but there was a weekend in there, and I have a life):
Hi! It was great to get your message. I'm in Queens--Jackson Heights.
What do you like to do for fun?

Him: It couldn't of been too great, it took you long enough to respond, you didn't even leave a name??

Um, check please... so yes, my great dating adventure is off to a slow start.

I did, however, go to my first Mensa Singles event last night. Two of my friends (they're comediennes, those girls) were emailing today with their guess of how the night went. I'll share their conversation:

V: Did you have fun? Did you meet anyone? And I’m so curious, where does Mensa meet?

K: prob at a library or museum or something :oD

V: Well, I picture it in two ways. The first is in a large auditorium, maybe chess boards set up in one corner. The second is in a study with old Elizabethan furniture; couches, chests, etc.

K: the second. and it's hazy with pipe smoke.

V: And I picture Bookgirl sitting on the arm of the couch, martini in hand, chatting it up with a guy who is seated next to her.

K: and the guy is wearing a cardigan with elbow patches.

Me: How did you know? Were you guys spying???

Actually, we met for dinner at Tao, a trendy, upscale restaurant in midtown. There were eight of us, and three were men, which is almost a slam dunk when it comes to the New York City female to straight male ratio. Short of a sporting event, those are the best odds you're going to get.

The guys were good-looking and very nice, and conversation was vibrant all around. No numbers were exchanged, but we all promised to do another event soon, so who knows?

After having been deliberately out of the dating scene for so long, I thought that putting myself back on the market was going to open a floodgate of possibilities from the universe. But right now, I'm just hoping for a trickle.

p.s. I've gotten a few sympathetic emails, so I'd just like to state for the record that I'm not feeling at all sorry for myself. If that post sounded at all dejected or whiny to you, please go back and reread it with my "I find this all really amusing" voice. There, that's better.

Friday, October 19, 2007


My friends Kris and Chris (yes, really) got married on Saturday, and it was one of those magical days that I wish I could save in a snow globe so I could shake it up and revisit it whenever I wanted to.

About 15 of my sorority sisters were there, plus significant others, some additional friends, and all our best gays. Throw in an open bar into the mix, and seriously, what more can a girl ask for? From the time we got there until the last song ended, unless the DJ specifically told us to sit down, we were on the dance floor in a big pack. And we're all so free and easy with one another that the lines behind us seem to blur at those moments. It's totally natural to just grab whoerever's closest and start dancing up against them--guy, girl, whatever. At one point, I looked around. I was dancing with one of the boys, M was kissing A's husband on the cheek, another girl was dancing with T's husband. And it occured to me: this is what love looks like. This is proof positive that yes, sometimes you can pick your own family.

The bride is a couple of years yearger than me, so while my whole crew was there, she also had a bunch of younger girls from the sorority, who pledged after I graduated. They're just as close as we are, and it made me feel like we had to have done something right in choosing who we passed the sorority on to, because they found the same things we found, share the same bond we share. And isn't that what it's all about?

I'm not an Ashlee Simpson fan. I find her vapid and largely untalented, and I think her career wouldn't exist if it weren't for an agressive father and famous sister. But there's this one song of hers that they play in my gym, and I can't help liking it despite myself. I was going to post to the lyrics, but in print they sound even more mindless, so here are the important ones:


I'm talkin' bout love
All my girls stand in a circle and clap your hands. This is for you.
Ups and downs, highs and lows.
No matter what, you see me through
All my girls, we're in a circle and nobody's gonna break through.

And isn't that what friendship really is? Whether you're on the dance floor, or sitting around a table eating dinner, or emailing from hundreds or thousands of miles away, your friends are the ones who form that tight little circle with you, who help you block out anything you don't want in. And the beauty of circles is that it's always easy to to let one more link in and make it just a little bit bigger, a little stronger.

p.s. I'd post pictures, but none of my friends sent theirs around yet, and when I was bringing things into my apartment from the car the other day, I threw the camera and the half a cup of coffee into the same bag. Because I'm a moron.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gauntlet Thrown

Polly Poppins likes to think of herself as a matchmaker. She prides herself on the fact that she even fixed her West Coast best friend up with her husband. But seriously? How hard could that have been? The Dol is petite and adorable, smart and funny, and unencumbered by my irrational terror of commitment. So I decided it was time to present Polly with a real challange.

The last time Polly fixed me up was the summer between high school and college. And it worked out well, except for the fact that I had to explain all the big words to him. You might think that would be a deal breaker, but not so much. We liked them big and dumb back them. We had a great summer fling and he was added to the list of men who almost took my virginity, before I lost my nerve at the last moment. (That's a story for another blog, but I'd like to take this opportunity anyway to apologize. I was that Catholic girl who liked to pretend she was edgy and wild. But just wasn't. And I'm sure that really sucked.)

Since that was the last time Polly and I lived within 200 miles of one another, future fix-ups were difficult. Sure, there was the Marine in Georgia on spring break, and the cute banker in New Orleans at Mardi Gras, and the trust fund guy on that one beach vacation, but they hardly even count. She's been dying to get her hands on my love life for years.

So this is it. The gauntlet has been thrown down. I plunked my credit card down for a three-month membership on Match. com, let her set up a profile, and let her say anything she wanted about me. I've agreed to take her advice, go out with anyone she tells me to. My romantic destiny is putty in her hands.

I figure she has to do a better job with my love life than I've been doing, since I tend to alternate between impulsive bad choices and a vibe that can only be described as "back away slowly."

p.s. By popular demand, her's the text from the profile, and the picture I have posted. Anything where my response is something that totally doesn't sound like me, like "No way" or "Keep it healthy" was a multiple choice. Feel free to critique.

Click here for keys to the universe...

32-year-old woman
Flushing, New York, United States
seeking men 30-45
within 25 miles of Flushing, New York, United States
Relationships: Never Married

Have kids: None
Want kids: Not sure
Ethnicity: White / Caucasian
Body type: Full-figured
Height: 5'5" (165cms)

Religion: Christian / Catholic
Smoke: No Way
Drink: Regularly

In my own words
for fun:
I go. All week long: career, gym, play, dinner with friends, drinks, and coffee. I stop only for football on Sunday, and then I crash on the couch, in my pajamas, with the phone set to go straight to voicemail. Nothing comes between me and my boys.

my job:
I work in marketing for a major publishing house, where there's always a new book (or twelve) to keep things interesting. I love what I do and I'm proud to be good at it, but pretend I didn't say that because I'm painfully modest.

my ethnicity:
I'm of French Canadian descent, although I occasionally pass for Betty Boop. I come from a large extended family with a ton of Quebecois idiosychrasies and an almost accidental sense of humor.

my religion:
While I don't attend mass regularly, I like having a faith and ties to a greater community. There's something reassuring about being in a churchfull of people I love for a baptism, first communion, or wedding. I like the sense of history.

my education:
I went to Hofstra, which is what brought me to New York. I have an English degree (like pretty much everyone else I work with).

favorite hot spots:
One of the reasons I'm so busy is I can't walk past a chance to try something new. I've gone to London for breakfast because I could. I took up kayaking this summer just because I've never done it before. I don't want to miss anything.

favorite things:
My favorite things are Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes; having my friends miss me when I'm gone; shoes; white wine; and the Pats' 6-0 record. If that's not enough, I love beach combing, a good book, and having too many choices.

last read:
Never Give Up by Tedy Bruschi

About my life and what I'm looking for:
You know, if you had asked me this time last year, I would have said my perfect match was Tom Brady but now, I think I'd like someone closer to home. I've got a strong sense of self and a lot of friends, so my life is full and happy, but I'd like someone to snuggle up with on the couch on Sundays.

My best friend says my ideal match is a retired pro-football player turned airline pilot, and while I think that's going a bit far, I would like to be with someone who is independent enough to keep the relationship interesting but available enough to indulge in the romance of late Saturday night dinners and leisurely Sunday mornings.

I'd like to be with someone who's funnier than he thinks he is, who laughs more than he complains, and who thinks my head-in-the-clouds tendency to walk into walls is endearing.

I love to spoil and I love to entertain but at the end of the day, I want someone else to do the dishes.

About me Hair: Dark brown
Eyes: Brown
Best Feature: Chest
Body art: Strategically placed tattoo, Pierced ear(s)
Sports and exercise: No answer
Exercise habits: Exercise 3-4 times per week
Daily diet: Keep it healthy
Interests Book club/Discussion,
Coffee and conversation,
Dining out,
Watching sports

Education: Bachelors degree
Occupation: Sales / Marketing
Income: $50,001 to $75,000
Languages: English
Politics: Liberal
Sign: Pisces
My Place: Live with roommate(s)

Pets I have: No answer
Pets I like: No answer

About my date
Hair: Any
Eyes: Any
Height: 5'7" (170cms) to
8'0" (243cms)

Body type: A few extra pounds,
About average,
Athletic and toned,

Languages: Any
Ethnicity: Any
Faith: Any
Education: Any
Job: Any
Income: Any
Smoke: No Way,
Cigar aficionado

Drink: Social drinker, maybe one or two,

Relationships: Any
Have kids: Any
Want kids: Any
Turn-ons: Boldness / Assertiveness,

Turn-offs: Body piercings

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ode to Apple Loaf, A Poem

Sunday was our annual girls-only trip upstate to go apple picking. My friend Adriana, who we call Schnapps, makes this thing called Apple Loaf. It's like heaven and apples baked together into loafy goodness. I can't describe it, except to say that it's like crack, and no one but her makes it.

Every year with our picked apples, she makes these amazing loaves, and I get some. Except for the year that her thieving husband, John, ate mine because I didn't make it over to get it quickly enough, and he found it in the fridge. That bastatrd. I'm still bitter.

But anyway, I wrote this special poem for her last year, as a thank you for both the apple loaf and for hiding my piece from John. I think the poem has held up well over time....

Ode to Apple Loaf
How do I love thee, apple loaf?
Let me count the ways

I love that you're moist and squishy,
while maintaining a breadlike consistency
I love that I got a piece of you
before you ended up all in John's belly

I love that you're perfect for dinner
when I'm too tired to cook
I love that you're there at breakfast
In a house, you'd go in that nook

I love that you're a reminder
Of how much my Schnappses loves me
I'll bet you that if I fell down,
You'd be better even than a kiss on the knee

So thank you, apple loaf
And thanks to my friend
I'll be singing your praises,loafie
Right till the end

p.s. Yes, I was stone sober when I wrote this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Say Nice Things to Me

I'm baack! Sorry I've been missing. But don't worry. I got yelleded at. There were emails. I got a stern talking to from my friend Tracie. One person even delurked just to yell at me. But I'm back now. Thanks, everyone, for the kick in the ass.

I had a crappy week last week, and it wasn't crap I could blog about (hugs and kisses to all my coworkers who I told about the blog, forgetting that I may some day want to bitch about people they work for). So I couldn't rant, and I didn't have the energy to do anything else.

The highlight of my week was the day that a complete stranger walking behind me on the subway platform called me a whale on my way to work. Actually, he said to his friend, "Why do I have to be stuck in front of this whale, son?" The fact that he was a grown man who a) doesn't seem to know the difference between in front and behind and b) still uses the word "son" in 2007 softened the blow considerably, I must admit. But wait, there's more. I had a morning incident I can't blog about (but I'd like to take this opportunity to tell that person "I really hate you.") and then an afternoon incident I can't blog about, with someone I hate considerably less. Which all culminated in my closing my door and and crying. Me, little Miss "I Cry Twice a Year" crying at work. I know. It's an outrage! You hate the people too, don't you? Don't you? You should.

So I left work that day, went directly to the gym, and then headed home, picking up comfort foods on the way: steamed dumplings at the Chinese restaurant; A bottle of Reisling from the liquor store; cauliflower from the vegetable stand; and oatmeal and bananas for the next morning's breakfast. (Yes, cauliflower is my comfort food. Yes, I know it's weird.) And then I shook it off. That's one of the things I have going for me. I bounce back fast.

We have an expression in my family: "say nice things to me."
My oldest sister was sick or sad (I don't remember which), and she said to her son, "Say nice things to me." So without missing a beat, he responded with "Backhoe, bulldozer, front end loader." Because if you're a 4-year-old boy, those are nice things...

So ever since then, whenever things get tough, one of my sisters will send me a list of nice thngs. They usually involve at least one of the following: the beach, shoes, Ella, ice cream. So for me, since I've been bummed, and you, since you had to listen to me whine, I'm signing off with a list of nice things:

Starbucks Nonfat Pumpkin Spice lattes
Having you guys miss me when I go MIA
Cold white wine
The Pats' 6-0 record

What are your "nice things"?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Shoe Slut

Behold today's shoes. They're another vacation purchase. I picked them up in Florida when we did a girls' trip to my friend's house on Marco Island for her birthday one year. (I'd tell you which birthday, but it dates me.)

I love them. But they rub in the exact same spot as yesterday's shoes, leaving me in so much pain that I was reduced, when no one was looking, to hobbling along like I was crippled. On my floor, I just kicked them off and walked around barefoot. But when I had to travel for meetings, I was screwed. While yes, I do have seventeen other pairs under my desk, none of them matched. And well, you know how I feel about matching. In the interest of full disclosure, there actually was one pair that matched perfectly, but they were the square-toed loafer variety that is only acceptable under pants. With a dress they make me look Amish. Also, they make my calves look fat. My lower legs are the only thin body part I possess. I try not to mess with that.

I have a launch party tonight for the new Gawker book. Which left me with a difficult decision. Either skip the party, go with the thick-calved Amish look, or run out and buy a new pair to wear. The choice was clear. An excuse to go shoe-shopping!! Yes!!The new pair are fabulous. I'd show them to you, but then I'd lose a quickie blog topic for another day. And why make more work for myself?

But wait! There's more! While I was in the store, I got to do a good deed. I was trying on this lovely pair of patterned pumps when the woman next to me started squealing over them. We were the same size, so I let her try them on while her salesperson was busy. Then came the news. They were the last pair in our size. She gave them back, albeit reluctantly, because by all rules of shopping etiquette they were mine. And I let her buy them. Yes, I did a shoe mitzvah. My mom would be so proud, if she knew what a mitzvah was.

p.s. They were on sale, too. That has to earn me extra good person points, right??

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Mischief Managed

Third time's the charm. I finally have an NFL Burger King Pats jersey for my car. Who's excited?? I am!!!

I got home from the gym at almost 9 last Wednesday, and still had to go to the supermarket for my book club the next day. (Because why would I actually plan ahead, just because I was making dinner for 6?) I was exhausted and starving, and limited to things I could eat while driving. So I decided to give it one more try.

The guy behind the counter went to the back and dug through the spare boxes. He returned with handfuls of jerseys, and dumped them on the counter.
"We have everything else. But not that the Patriots."
I was sad, dejected, almost ready to give up the fight. Then I spotted the Pats jersey in the pile.
"That's it," I told him.
"Are you sure? Isn't that a Pirates jersey?"
"Yes, for that nonexistent NFL team called the Pirates. Jackass."
(Okay, I just thought that last part.)
What I really said was, "No, that's the Richard Seymour jersey." And was instantly morified at how geeky I sounded, since he clearly knew nothing about football and cared even less.

So I got my jersey. And I was in such a good mood I even threw out the french fries that came with the kids' meal. A giant thank you to everyone who ate fast food (or forced their kids to) in a valiant effort to earn me a cheap toy. I thank you. My neuroses thank you. My love of a good challenge thanks you. And your future cardiologist thanks you, since his kids will some day have to go to college.

p.s. Despite the fact that I only came up with a menu at 10:00 the night before, the book club dinner was actually a hit. I did a fall theme--spinach salad with cranberries, cheese, and pecans; tortellini with roasted butternut squash; and an apple pumpkin pie. I may do everything last minute, but that doesn't mean I don't do it well.

p.p.s. My mother has told me I couldn't pay her to come to one of my parties. It stems from the time I had a Christmas party for 30 and only came up with the menu the day before, based on what I could find at the market. Evidently, that makes her nervous. She's funny that way.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Party Like a Rock Star... Sorta

Sarah decided she missed me, and she had the weekend off from the hospital, so she threw the two babies in the van, made her oldest son come along to babysit, and headed down to new York on Saturday for some Bookgirl lovin'.

Her brother-in-law's cousins own Manor, a club downtown, so we decided to do it up big. Phone calls were made, the owners knew we were coming, and VIP status was promised. We slutted Sarah up with my make-up and my roommate's clothes, and we were off.

No velvet ropes for us. We made a phone call when we got out of the cab, and Anthony came out to meet us. After air kisses all around, he brought us to the hostess and made sure she knew that we were special. The hostess got us a waitress. Our importance was reiterated. The waitress brought us to a table right off the dance floor. The tables, of course, were bottle service only, so she set us up with our bottle of Kettle One, our mixers, and left us to have our fun.

The big group next to us thought we were infringing on their space and were none too happy. The drunken suburban asshole who appeared to be their ringleader started with us, letting us know that he "had paid $5,000 to reserve these tables and we should shoo." Proving that he was not only an asshole, he also needed to find something better to do with his money, a charity perhaps. The bouncer got involved and tried to kick us out, until someone told him who we were, at which point he came over to shake our hands and apologize to each of us personally.

Now if the story just ended there, we sound like such rock stars, right? But alas, this was me, Sarah, and Jodie. So the story, well, it doesn't end there. Three intelligent women might have recognized that even though they had a full bottle of vodka, it was not necessarily a good idea to drink it all. But not us. No, we finished it off. And that's where the night took a turn for the sloppy.

I, of course, fell down. Because that's what I do. Jodie made out with a strange Israeli man. And Sarah, well, let's just say I had to undress her when we got home, since she decided to take a shower. Fully clothed. And then couldn't get her clothes off.

But wait. There's more. Sarah's sister has been trying to fix me up with one of the aforementioned cousins. Except he didn't know it. And we were going to do it all subtle-like. But when drunk, our Bookgirl is a talker. I'll tell anyone anything that's on my mind. And while I blessedly don't remember the details, I have a faint recollection of filling him in on the plan. In what I'm sure was a really sexy slur. Classy... Sarah's bit of the memory was him looking at us and saying, repeatedly. "Go home. Just go home." (Sarah, If you remember anything else, or hear anything at a later date from your sister, you're not allowed to tell me. The pool of shame I'm swimming is deep enough, thank you very much.)

So yes, while our big glamorous night may not have ended entirely the way we planned, and my fantasies of spending a happy life together with Cousin James and his Hamptons House are now out of the question, we got to be VIPs for the night. We drank, we laughed, we danced. We partied like rock stars. Sorta.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Pulling a Bookgirl

Sarah called me today to tell me she "pulled a me." Any time one of my friends starts a conversation with "I pulled a you" it means one thing and one thing only. That they fell, publicly, while people were there to see it, in some spectacularly embarrassing way.

It might have something to do with the fact that I fall down. A lot. And that if I can break it, lose it, spill it, or hurt myself with it, I will do just that. Those of you who don't know me well might think I'm exaggerating. I'm not.

My falls take one of two forms: there are the slow falls, the ones where I start going down, and know it's coming but can't stop myself. I usually start giggling before I even hit the ground, and I'm told that I look almost graceful, since I've perfected the art of kind of gliding down to minimize the impact. I once was in a coffee shop in SoHo on a snowy day and slid on the wet floor. I hit the floor, got back up, and didn't even spill a drop of my latte. That was one of my prouder moments. If I had to choose, I like those falls the best. They make people laugh, because I'm laughing so hard. And as long as folks are laughing with me, not at me, we're all good.

The second kind of fall, though, well they just suck. Those are the ones I don't see coming. My friends describe it as "one second you're there, and then you're just gone." I'll be cruising along, not paying attention to where I'm going, and I just go down like a brick. The next thing I know I'm face down on the ground surrounded by onlookers with expressions of horror. Inevitably, someone will try to be helpful and assist me up before I'm ready, and will not let go of my arm. So now I'm floundering on the ground with a complete stranger gripping me, adding insult to the injury. Next time you try to help someone up and they say "I'm fine" what they really mean is "Please, for the love of God, go away so I can start pretending this didn't happen." Those falls are embarrassing. Also, they really hurt. And usually leave me dirty. I hate being dirty.

I was at Polly's once and I spilled coffee, and she said, without irony, "That's okay. We purposely waited until after your visit to have the carpets cleaned." I have one earring and one glove from almost every pair I've ever owned. I once spent all of Mardi Gras with a giant bruise on my head from where I fell out of a bathtub our first night there, and I've seen Disney World from the vantage point of a wheelchair.

Yes, I'm clumsy. And I've resigned myself to the fact that embarrassing and potentially painful experiences are the ones people most closely identify with me. But just once, wouldn't it be nice if someone did something kind, or thoughtful, and referred to it as "pulling a Bookgirl?"

My sister Jean, in a moment of kindness, told me I had to outgrow the clumsiness eventually. But we both knew she was lying. I'm just like our sister Denise. And Denise is in her 50s, still falling on a pretty regular basis. She's had more broken bones then some NFL career starters. It's okay, though. We both have excellent insurance. And a well-developed ability to laugh at ourselves.