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.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

25 Things

Those of you who share my Facebook obsession will have seen this, since that's where I got it, but I had so much fun writing it I decided to share anyway. And hey--who am I kidding--easy blog entry to ease me back into writing.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged . You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. I can do algebra in my head, and on long car drives by myself I make up equations: If I’ve gone x miles in 45 minutes, how many miles should I have gone by this time? My high school math teacher Mrs. Dubois would be proud.

2. The Lord & Taylor on 5th Ave in Manhattan is my happy place, and can fix almost any problem in my life. Dealing with a breakup? Visit the shoe department. Need a last-minute dress for a wedding? They’ve got me covered. Add in the beautiful architecture, and the gorgeous window displays, and the cathedral ceilings, and well, it’s just about perfect.

3. On my list of things I want to buy but keep convincing myself are unnecessary expenditures are laser hair removal, a GPS for my car, and a new living room carpet. I still have the hand-me-down braided rug my sister gave me when I moved to New York, and it’s hideous.

4. My high school guidance counselor changed my life. She knew my family couldn’t afford college, so she told me about Hofstra, and that they gave academic-based scholarships pretty liberally. I got a full scholarship and a room for all four years, majored in the only undergraduate publishing program in the country, pledged a sorority, and fell in love with New York. The rest, as they say, is history.

5. My first concert was Tiffany, with New Kids on the Block opening for her. I had never heard of them, and when they came on stage I was surprised, because I thought they were Black. I never did get on board with the New Kids obsession.

6. I had all sorts of existential angst about whether there really was more than one path to happiness, and whether I could be happy without kids, and whether I’d regret not having them if I didn’t, and then my goddaughter was born. And none of that crap mattered anymore.

7. I feel like I need to defend my decision to remain Catholic, because I think educated people think it makes me either less smart than they are, or sheep.

8. I hate moving, and therefore have lived in exactly 3 places my whole life: my parents’ house, Hofstra University dorms, and my current apartment. My kitchen has a bug problem in the summer months, but the apartment is huge and rent-stabilized and it will pretty much take dynamite to get me to give it up.

9. My oldest sister and I are nineteen years apart, and I became an aunt at 4 and a great-aunt at 33. When my niece got engaged, people kept making comments about my niece being married before I was like they felt bad for me. I was fine with it. I thought they were weird.

10. I love Christmas. The music, the decorations, the gift-giving, the parties. Just love everything about it. One of my friends calls me Chrissy Christmas around this time of year.

11. I’m a member of MENSA. So when I do something funny or stupid or silly and say “I’m kind of a genius,” I actually am.

12. I have a lifelong soft spot for anyone I’ve ever been close to. I’m always happy to hear from ex-boyfriends, I still wonder what ever happened to my best friend from third grade, and it took me somewhere in the vicinity of a decade to get over my first love. I still occasionally dream about a high school friend I lost touch with.

13. I still consider Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure to be my all-time favorite song, with Candy by Iggy Pop and Kate Peirson a close second.

14. The coolest publishing experience I’ve ever had was for the Steinbeck anniversary, when I got to hang out with his son and hear him talk about his dad, how he used to live in my neighborhood, which of his books was his favorite. Arthur Miller and Studs Terkel were there too. It defies words.

15. I have an almost pathological fear of sharks, and will only swim in the ocean if one person stays out deeper than me at all times as bait. I will explain to them, with no embarrassment, exactly why they must stay out deeper. Despite this, I once snorkeled in a shark tank, because the only thing worse for me than being afraid is letting that fear stop me.

16. My first job was doing take-out and bussing tables at a Chinese restaurant. I hated every second of it.

17. I truly don’t understand why anyone who’s not a millionaire and has any interest in social justice would vote Republican. I try to respect others’ views, but I just can’t.

18. I have more than 500 people in my Blackberry contacts. I kind of collect friends.

19. I didn’t hate high school. Those were far from my glory days, and there’s not enough money in the world to make me go through all that teen angst or live under my dad’s thumb again, but mostly I remember it being a fun time.

20. I love coffee. Way too much. I usually limit myself to one cup a day, but every time I pass a Starbucks, I spend a little bit of energy convincing myself I don’t need to go in. Even at inappropriate times like 10 pm.

21. One of my sisters had a falling out with the rest of them, and my family hasn’t all been in the same place in 8 years. It breaks my heart.

22. My friends are breeders. Between my biological nieces and nephews, and the children of just my very closest friends, I have 21 nieces and nephews, with another on the way. The amount of Christmas wrapping I do is insane.

23. When I moved to New York, I had my first publishing job but no permanent place to live, only $200 in my bank account, and brought only the essentials I could fit into my parents’ borrowed Chevy—clothes, shoes, books, a stereo, and CDs. Eleven years later I still haven’t decided if that was incredibly brave or incredibly stupid.

24. I got my belly button pierced on the dock outside Fat Tuesdays in Cancun after a Tequila booze cruise during spring break senior year. I didn’t have enough money with me, so a Merchant Marine paid for it. I decided that since it was an American doing the piercing and I saw her open the needle, it was okay.

25. I have my dream job. I’m a marketing manager for a major book publisher. Sometimes I get antsy or start thinking about leaving the industry for more money. But then I remember that there’s nothing in the world I want to do more than what I do.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Girl Is Back

So I heard the word is on the street that I've been missing. Evidently, a girl disappears for 2 months without calling, emailing, or blogging, and people begin to worry. Sheesh. Some people are so oversensitive...

For those of you who have asked, no, nothing's wrong. As a matter of fact things are fabulous. Fabulouser than they've been in a very long time. But if I make up a story about grave illness and personal tragedy, will that make you less mad at me? Because I'm not above that.

For now, though, I'll bribe you with pictures. I scored not just one but TWO yummy new nieces this summer. Comet, one of my closest friends/sorority sisters gave birth to little Miss Catie, who not only is adorable but is also the first baby in my New York crew. The first baby within drop-by distance?? Can you say spoiled??? The fact that she's gorgeous and the sweetest, happiest baby ever just clinched the deal.

And my niece had her baby a couple of weeks ago, and named her Abigail Muriel, after my mother. (Mrs. Bookgirl's name is Muriel). So she had the first baby in our family in 13 years, the first girl in 29 years, and named her after my mom. As my sister Michelle put it, she has won so many points with my mother that no one will ever catch up. The race for favorite is over...

And just in case all that yummy girl-baby-ness is somehow not enough to melt your cold, cold hearts and you're still mad, I'm throwing in a bonus picture. Ella took this delightful self-portrait. Yes, that's my goddaughter. Sarah had no way of knowing what an apt pairing that would turn out to be...

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Maybe Baby wrote a blog about stupid injuries and asked people to write in with their own stories. Now, as you all know, I am the clumsiest person on earth. But while my embarrassing injuries are too numerous to count, one stands out above the others. I was originally going to just email him the story, but I realized I never shared it with all of you. And you know how I love offering up my personal humiliation for your amusement.

About 5 years ago, before Polly Poppins had Secret Lulu, she decided that before she had kids of her own she wanted to be a good godmother and take her six-year-old goddaughter to Disney World. Mr. Poppins, having a highly developed sense of self-preservation, wanted no part of that. She was on her own. So she convinced me that I should take my godson Jeremy, who was eight at the time, and we'd make a trip out of it. Okay, so it actually took no convincing. My sister Michelle didn't have grandkids yet, so she was still putting up stiff competition for the "cool aunt" title, and I had something to prove. Also, I have a deep-seated love for Epcot that completely baffles Polly. But that's another story.

The time came for the trip, we both headed back to Rhode Island to pick up the kids (who, by the way, had only one thing in common: they were both notoriously difficult) and we were on our way. Through the combined efforts of flight delays and really bad directions that got us hopelessly lost, we didn't make it to the hotel until 2 in the morning. So the next morning, we're rarin' to go. All we've seen of Orlando is the rental car, that same tollboth we accidentally went through four times, and our hotel rooms. We've got a full day at the Magic Kingdom ahead of us.

And that's when it happened. I had just gotten out of the shower, and I was putting on sunscreen in the bathroom. Now, until this point, I had always thought that my body was incapable of doing a split. But it turns out that's not entirely true. See, if my legs start to slide in opposite directions on the bathroom floor, and my hands are slippery so I can't grab onto the counter, it turns out that I can go all the way down into a full straddle. It's not a good idea, mind you, and there were noises that can only be described as popping and tearing, but it's possible. I know it sounds terrible, but believe me when I tell you that the pain was far, far worse than it sounds. Even now, I get queasy just thinking about it.

So now I'm sprawled on the bathroom floor, completely naked, in excruciating pain, and I can't get up. I'm stuck there. I can just reach a hand towel, which I use to cover my juicy bits, and I yell for Jeremy to "go get Polly. Tell her it's very important that she come immediately." She, thank God, had the foresight to get us adjoining rooms. So Polly comes to check on me, but she can only open the door a couple of inches, because it's bumping up against the top of my head. And oh, right, I can't move. I explain what happened, and Polly, ever the pragmatist, tells me, "Look, here's the deal. Normally I would call an ambulance. But since you're naked, I'm going to let you make that call..."

I blessedly have blocked out the details on exactly how we got me off the floor, but I do remember Polly putting my underwear on for me the first few days of the trip. I could only lift my feet, when sitting, about an inch and a half off the floor, and only one at a time, so she had to hook the underwear around my feet, and then, since I couldn't bend, pull them up above my knees so I could reach them to pull them the rest of the way up. Jeremy had to put on my socks and shoes for me, because my feet were so out of reach they may as well have been in another zip code. With the help of a heavy-duty prescription painkiller Polly just so happened to have in her bag, and enough Tylenol Arthritis Relief to cause permanent liver damage, I managed to make it to Disney that day. But it wasn't pretty. And well, let's just say Polly and Jeremy were kind enough to take turns pushing the wheelchair...

I had to move so slowly that a full week later, after I was back in New York, I was heading to the subway one morning and an old woman with a cane, I kid you not, cruised right past me. Injury, here's insult. Nice to meet you.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Immortals After Dark

The kindest thing a person can do for me is this:
Write a book. Write it well. Give it a setting that's so fully formed and well-described that I can picture it. People it with characters who are witty and interesting, who make me feel their pain and laugh at their jokes. Make me want more. Enthrall me so that when I get to the end I'm sad that it's over. Then turn that book into a series, so I can keep coming back and visiting. So I can't wait for the next book.

That's the kindest thing a person can do for me. And it's why the Immortals After Dark series has made Kresley Cole my new best friend, even though we've never met.

It all started out with Playing Easy to Get. I picked the book up because it had a novella by Sherrilyn Kenyon, whose Bureau of American Defense series I had recently discovered. (Bad-ass crimefighters kick terrorist ass as part of a secret governemnt agency. In between they have really hot sex. A concept made in Bookgirl heaven.) And there, at the end of that collection, was "The Warlord Wants Forever," a novella about Myst, a Valkyrie (an immortal born of a female warrior who dies in battle), who falls in love with Nikolai, a vampire. She had me at hello. The stories are set in the Lore, a world where "creatures that are not human [are] united... coexisting with, yet secret from, man." Brilliant, laugh-out-loud funny dialogue; great battle scenes; even better bedroom scenes. Imagine my joy when I found out there was already a full-length novel in the works.

Cue A Hunger Like No Other. Our heroine Emmaline, half-Valkyrie, half vampire, falls in love with Lachlan, a Lykae (a type of werewolf), even though vampires and werewolves are sworn enemies. As one character puts it, "Vampires, Valyrie, and Lykae, oh my--the fucking monster mash." (Two years later, and that line still makes me bitterly jealous I didn't write it.

Next came No Rest for the Wicked. This time our heroine is another Valkyrie, Kaderin, who's part of what can best be described as The Amazing Race for immortals, where everyone from witches to sirens to "killer gnomes" battles it out across the world on a giant scavenger hunt. Along the way, of course, she falls in love with Nikolai's brother Sebastian, also a vampire. (Which means we get to visit our friends Myst and Nikolai from the first book. Hurrah!)

Then Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night. Bowen (part of the same clan of werewolves as Lachlan) falls in love with Mari, a witch "from the shady New Orleans coven, the slacker Animal House of witches." The story is so good that I don't even mind not having a Valkyrie as a heroine for the first time.

Next came Dark Needs at Night's Edge. Conrad, the third vampire brother, falls in love with Neomi, a ghost. I find myself hoping maybe the remaining fourth brother will fall in love with me. I realize I've officially lost my mind. And maybe I'm getting a little too into these books...

And now, just out, Dark Desires After Dusk. I haven't read it yet, because I decided I wanted to savor instead of gulp, so I'm rereading the series leading up to the new one. The only series I've ever done that with is Harry Potter. Yes, they're that good.

I demand a lot of my books. I like them smart and funny, entertaining and well-written. I want to curl up and lose myself in the story, and forget everything going on around me. When I find one book that hits the mark, it's exciting. When I find a whole series, well that's about as good as it gets.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Name Game

I know you've been waiting patiently for a new blog. And since it's taken me so long to post, you were expecting something insightful and fabulous. This isn't it...

You know how much I love silly names. And I found this on Big Girl Underoos, a blog I recently discovered courtesy of Polly. She has a great voice, and "put on your big girl pants and deal with it" is an expression I use all the time. So I'm already a fan. Also, she uses the same blog template I do, so she must have fabulous taste.

I had to use Book Girl for my first and last name, since the ones involving combining names had way too many consonants with my real name, rendering them unpronouncable and no fun at all. And you know what they say--If Bookgirl aint't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Okay, no one says that. But they should...

1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (Mother and Father's middle name): Therese Joseph
(no, my family's not Catholic or anything...)

2. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad): William Wilfred (that sounds more like an actor than a driver)

3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name): Girbo

4. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal): Red Panda

5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born): Ann Providence

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fave color, fave drink, add "THE" to the beginning): The Pink Margarita (what would my super powers be??)

7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 3 letters of your last name): Boirl

8. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet's name, current street name): None 35 (That could totally be a band)

9. STRIPPER NAME: (name of your fave perfume/cologne, fave candy): Allure Truffle

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet's name, street you grew up on): Goldie Bernon (but you've all heard that one before)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wow Me

We’re taking a break from our normal programming. This blog is usually the Bookgirl Channel (all me, all the time), but some of my peoples are doing some pretty amazing things right now. And they’re just too cool not to share.

You know how every so often someone in your life wows you? Just pulls something out of their bag of tricks that you had no idea they had in there? Well, my friend Chris did that this week.

Chris and I have been friends since we were teenagers. (Or, at least I was. I can never remember what our age difference is.) I was a freshman in high school, and he was going to Northeastern. He was home on break and came to a CYO meeting at our church. I remember thinking he was an "older man" and very cool. And cute. We've been friends ever since.

Chris is from another one of those huge, multi-generational, 8-million cousins, French-Canadian families from Woonsocket. I grew up next door to one set of his cousins and a few blocks from another set. His sister-in-law is my sister's best friend. Our moms were in the Ladies' Guild together. We have the same first name. We were pretty much destined to be friends.

Since he was living in Boston when we met, and I moved to New York the fall after I graduated high school, we've really never lived in the same state for more than a summer at a time. But we always had a blast when we were together. He's the one who taught me about football and started my obsession with the Patriots. And even though we never dated, I'm not sure my mother ever entirely got over the fact that I didn't end up marrying him.

He got married a couple of years ago (sorry, mom) to a woman I really like, and they're expecting their first baby in a few weeks.
And this is where we get back to him wowing me. Because he sent me pictures of the nursery he painted for their baby.
My first impulse was, "Oh, wow." My second was pure jealousy that he could do something like that.

My third was back to "Oh, wow."

That's one seriously lucky baby.

And his wife didn't do too badly for herself either...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Springtime in New York

Maybe it's arrogant, but I can't help it. It happens every year. Spring makes me feel bad for anyone who doesn't live in New York. Right now, the city is at its absolute best. It's gorgeous out, the weather is perfect, the flowers are in bloom.

And I know some of you (Polly) will brag that you always have nice weather, but I truly believe that this is still better. Because we appreciate it more. After another long, cold, snowy winter (okay, not so snowy this year, but whatever), we have EARNED the spring. We're all so grateful for the warmth and the sun that everyone's a little nicer, a little happier, a little more alive.

I wanted to be outside on Saturday, but didn't want to have to go somewhere (Oh, how I wish I had a backyard), so I got my first pedicure of the season, threw on some flip flops, and just wandered around my neighborhood like a homeless person. I walked aimlessly, stopping into stores where I didn't buy anything, window shopped. It was lovely.

I've already had my first margarita at the restuarant with the best outdoor seating. (When in doubt, if it's between the months of April and October and you can't find me, check there.) And today, I got to wear the favorite of all Bookgirl wardrobe items--open-toed shoes. Sigh. My little toesies were so happy to be free again. It's good to be me this week, my friends. Very, very good to be me.

p.s. Liz, I know how happy the view from my office makes you, so I took the photo from a different angle today so you could see a little of Times Square. Who loves ya, baby?

p.p.s. I know there hasn't been a Weight Watchers update in months, but that's because the numbers were going in the wrong direction. Not exactly brag-worthy. But I weighed in today for the first time in a couple of weeks and lost 4.8 pounds. Did I mention how much I love spring?!?!?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

At the Disco

I don't have memories of playing with my sisters when we were kids the way other people do with their siblings, mainly because we weren't kids at the same time. My oldest sister started college when I was a few months old, and the next two were married and out of the house by the time I was six. Even Countrygirl, who's the next one up, got married when I was in the 8th grade. But don't feel bad for me just yet. Because I had my cousins.

Okay, follow this if you can. My mom's sister Simone is only 2 years younger than she is, and my grandmother's rule was that they weren't allowed to go anywhere the other wasn't invited. So they were pretty much inseperable.

My dad has a cousin a year older than him, and while my dad grew up in a house full of kids, Marcel was an only child, so the two of them were best friends. They were pretty much inseperable.

My parents grew up, met, fell in love, and got married. But Marcel was away with the navy at the time of the wedding and couldn't get leave, and someone else had to stand in as best man, so Marcel and Simone didn't meet. At the wedding, Marcel's mother kept telling Simone how perfect she would be for her son. Simone jokingly began referring to her as her mother-in-law. Hilarity all around. So imagine her surprise much later when a boy she meets at a dance brings her home to meet his parents, and she finds... you guessed it. My great-aunt. Yes, my mother's sister and my dad's cousin met independently of them, fell in love, and got married two years after my parents. The couples were pretty much inseperable.

My parents started having kids right away, and had 3 in five years. Simone and Marcel, much to their unhappiness, weren't able to have kids of their own. So Simone set out to be the most fun aunt EVER. It's from her that I learned so many of my cool aunt tricks. She's also the woman who used to encourage my sisters, when one of them wanted to do something my mom wouldn't allow, to "Cry. Cry and maybe she'll let you." Yeah, I'll bet that won big points with mom.

But wait. There's more. My mom took 6 years off from having kids (I'm sure her uterus thanked her), and then had Countrygirl. You can imagine everyone's surprise when after all those years of trying, Simone got pregnant at the same time. They had daughters 4 months apart. The 2 families were... say it with me now... pretty much inseperable. Fast forward eight years to the blessed event that was the unplanned birth of me. (My mommy says I wasn't an accident, just a pleasant surprise. She thought I was the beginning of menopause. Surprise!!) A year later to the month, 9 years after her first child, my aunt had Missy. So now you've got best friends marrying best friends, 2 sets of matching daughters (distinguished as the "big girls" and "little girls") and 2 families that were pretty much inseperable. We did everything together--holidays, weekends, vacations... we bought campers, parked them near one another at the same campground, and spent all summer together every summer until we were grown. Along the way my aunt and uncle adopted Missy's best friend Christina, who was 5 months younger than Missy, and that was it.

Pretty much every memory I have from childhood involves the two of them. We rode bikes and swam and rollerskated. We played house and school. We spied on the big girls. But my favorite game, the one I remember most vividly, was Disco. They had a long living room the entire width of their house, and on weekend nights it was ours to play in while the grown-ups sat in the dining room, chatting, the men playing cards. We'd shut off the lights, and that room was transformed. We were grown-up sisters, very sophisticated and beautiful, and we owned the coolest disco in town. (Yes, I know I'm dating myself. But this was the early 80s. It wasn't a club. It was a disco.) We would go early to set up, and bring our kids with us. Our Cabbage Patch kids would be lined up on the couch, and our imaginary older kids would play on their own. (I always had like seven of them...) But that was just for set-up. Because when it was time for the disco to open, our husbands would come get the kids to take them home and watch them, and we would work the disco. I'm so proud of our little liberated selves, I could just burst. How many little girls' fantasies involved being working mothers with stay-at-home dads??

Our disco played one album, and one album only. REO Speedwagon's Hi Infidelity on vinyl, borrowed from the girls' older sister.

To this day, that album still makes my all-time list of "If I were stranded on a desert island" CDs. And either Keep on Loving You or Take it On the Run would make my all-time favorite songs list, but which one depends on the day. Missy and Christina even had a whole dance rountine worked out to Follow My Heart. And make no mistake. Our disco was the place to be, and the floor was packed with dancers, but those imaginary party-goers cleared the floor to watch the girls strut their stuff.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Grandma, What Big Needles You Have

Since the fall, I've been seeing a chiropractor for lower back pain. It got better for a while, and then much, much worse, and nothing he did was making a difference. So my doctor decided to pull out the big guns (or needles, as the case may be.) He sent me for acupuncture.

Last week was my first appointment. Since the pain is in my extreme lower back, the doctor had me take off my pants and cover with a towel, kind of like when you go for a massage. Now, in his defense, before he had me take them off, he asked if I was wearing underwear. And I said yes. But what I was really thinking was "sorta." (Yes, it's another blog about my underwear. Deal with it.) As previously mentioned, my underwear don't have a lot of "there" there.

So he did his thing with the needles, and it was all good. But then he had me move over onto my back for stretches. And this, my friends, is where the situation got awkward. See, in addition to being essentially a triangle of fabric and some string, my underwear are also older than Ella. So the elastic situation, it's not what it used to be. The days when they stayed put without any wiggle room are only a memory. This man who I've just met has my legs up in the air, flexing and stretching them. And all I can think is "you SO better be looking at my face." I believe in some cultures, this might mean we're engaged. But just in case we're not, I dug up some underwear with more coverage for tomorrow's appointment...

p.s. I finally did laundry, and got to try out the new underwear, and they're lovely. Thanks for asking.

p.p.s. My sister Michelle, who was P.J.'s mom, decided she was ready for a new puppy. She's picking him up this weekend. I'm totally in love.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Why I Love My Job

I know we all get bogged down sometimes in what we don't like about our jobs, but I love the little reminders of what's great about mine.

Overheard this morning
A woman having a conversation with her (very high-ranking) boss:
Boss: Just how drunk were you last night?
Girl: My eyeballs hurt.

Overheard at the copy machine:
Motherfucker!!!!! (Screamed at the top of someone's lungs)
Is this normal behavior at other people's offices?

When bad spellcheck happens to good people:
I was reading a manuscript this week for an erotica collection. (Yes, I work on smut) and throughout one whole story, a certain piece of female anatomy was referred to as the colitis. In that same story, the heroine also had a virginia. That's not going to stop being funny for me any time this decade.

Not work-related, but still funny:
I was talking to my sister this morning, telling her that I'm going to a Mensa event on Sunday. There's a social group for us twenty- and thirty-somethings, and we're going to the movies.
Den: Will there be a discussion after, or just the film?
Me: We're going to dinner after, but it's not like we're seeing Apocalypse Now. It's Leatherheads.
Insert her laughing to the point where she can't speak.
Everyone really does think we sit around at Mensa events and talk about Quantum Physics or Philosophy, don't they? Sigh...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Be a Dancer

The world is made up of dancers and critics, and I'm more committed than ever to being one of the dancers.

See, I just got back from this weekend workshop. Or training. Or class. Or retreat, depending on who I was talking to and what I felt like calling it. But it was a life-changing, eye-opening, kick-in-the-ass, make-me-look-at-the-whole-world differently experience.

The weekend was designed, among other things,to help me figure out what it is that I really, in my heart, want most out of life. And just a hint? Me, little miss I live in my office, my job is my whole world? It turns out that having my career be my whole life isn't it. Surprise!

Midge did the Momentum training last year, and has been trying to convince me to do it ever since. My response, of course, was something along the lines of "not so much." But in February, when I was in that funk and felt like I was drowning, she tried once more. And I grabbed on like someone had thrown me a life raft. A month later, when it came time to actually go, however, it was a totally different story. She kept emailing me to ask if I was excited. I ignored her emails. Because seriously, how was this something to be excited about?? Finally she called me the day my training was set to start, and I couldn't avoid the question anymore. No, I was not excited. What I really was was nauseated. What if I hated it? What if it was stupid? What if I didn't like the other people? What if they didn't like me? What if? What if? What if?

I was wrong. She was right. There, I'm saying it. In print even. Because I am not the same person I was when I walked in that door on Thursday. I learned about how I feel, how I look at the world. I made new friends, I made peace with with crap I've been carrying for a decade. I opened up and let go and learned about myself. And more important than anything else, I came face to face with the way I treat other people, and how very differently I treat myself. It seems that just about the only person in my life who didn't think I was fabulous was me. Yeah, I'm working on that...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I've got a problem. A personal problem. An underwear problem.

See, my approach to underclothes can be best summed up as "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This is going to sound way more like Polly Poppins than what you would expect from me, but I channel her every once in a while.

With few exceptions, I own one style of bra, one style of underwear, and 2 styles of socks. Period. My bras are all the same style, except in different colors and patterns. Some have lace. Ditto for the underwear.

(For the record, those aren't my boobs. That's an underwear model who happens to be wearing my most recent bra purchase.)

My work socks are all from the same store. They each have a little picture embroidered on the ankle. Do I want leopard-print purses today? High-heeled shoes? No one else can see the embroidery, but they make me happy. My gym socks are from the same store. (Oh, and p.s. The store is in Connecticut. Nowhere near where I live.) They're white, with different embroidered patterns. (Flip flops? Beach chairs?)

When the underwire pops on a bra or the socks get a hole, I throw them out, go back to the same store, and buy more. They're always comfortable, they're always what I want. No muss, no fuss, no thinking about it. I like it that way.

But lately I've had what could only adequately be described as an underwear meltdown. See, the store where I buy them stopped making my style. So I stopped getting new ones. I've had the same undies for years. I don't put them in the dryer, so they've held up. Until now. I noticed a few weeks ago that a pair had a hole. So I threw them out. Then I threw out another pair the week before last. And two more last week. It seems if you buy your underwear all at the same time, they wear out all at the same time. Crap.

Now, I know it sounds easy. Just find a new brand. But see, that's not as simple as it sounds:
First of all, I'm plus-sized. Clothes shopping in general is never easy for me. Think of all the stores where you normally shop. Now imagine that out of all those places, only one carries your size. Maybe two if you're lucky. And those places, well, their selection can be dismal. I'm under 60, so that rules out about 75% of everything that comes in my size.
Second, they must be cotton. I am unwilling to negotiate on this point.
Third, and I know this is a shocker, I'm a little particular about my underwear. They should not come up to my bra. I cannot emphasize that point enough. (See earlier "I'm under 60" comment). I should not feel like I'm wearing my bathing suit under my clothes. Panty lines are not sexy. I cannot feel pretty in underwear I can imagine my mother wearing. If there's anyone from the lingerie world reading this, here is what I want you to take away from this blog: "Chubby girls need thongs too."

So I went shopping yesterday, and I found one store that had what I was looking for--the elusive plus-sized, 100% cotton thong. They had just gotten them in, so I bought everything they had in my size. (I really hate doing laundry.) If they fit well, I'll go back and buy more. But I'm seriously concerned I might be heading for a Rain Man-esque "Definitely not my underwear" freakout until I get used to them. I hate when that happens....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shoe Slut

These shoes were part of my "new job" purchases when I started this job. Not because I needed new shoes for work, but because my default reaction to any situation in which I get a new job or a promotion is "buy shoes." Of course that's also my reaction to happy news, sad news, a bonus, and my tax return. But that's another story.

Now, I know what you're wondering. "How many pairs of pink shoes can one girl own?" and "Are those even comfortable?" And the answer is more pairs than I'm comfortable admitting to publicly. And no, not even a little bit. They hurt like a bitch, almost to the point of tears. I can only wear them to work, and even then sometimes not the whole day. But as long as I don't limp, I sure do look cute.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I'm warning you all up front. I'm writing this blog from my soapbox.

I went to mass Sunday morning (sadly, yes, my attendance is sporadic enough that it's worth mention). There's a point in the mass where the congregation present their petitions to God. The lector reads aloud a list of specific causes or requests, and after each one everyone responds with "Lord, hear our prayer." One of the petitions they've been doing every Sunday for, sadly, years now is a special prayer for the servicewomen and men of our parish who are fighting in Iraq.

I've talked about my neighborhood here before. It's in the midst of being gentrified, but Jackson Heights is primarily a working-class to lower-middle-class neighborhood, mostly families, largely immigrants. And my church has eleven soldiers in Iraq right now. ELEVEN. The first time I heard the list, I thought "It's lovely that they do that." And then the list just went on and on.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that there's not one church in any wealthy suburb in America that has eleven kids fighting in Iraq. That when our politicians go back to their posh homes in their tony neighborhoods, their neighbors are not the ones getting shipped off and shot at.

The idea that we're fighting a war that's seemingly without end, that we entered under false pretenses, makes me sick. The fact that men and women are dying every day makes me sick. The fact that there's such a complete disconnect between the people calling the shots and those paying the consequences makes me sick.

One of my cousins spent some time in Iraq, and while he was one of the soldiers who was lucky enough to come home, he'll never be the same again. We're hoping that some day he'll be okay. And even that feels like a stretch right now. We've never been close, but I wrote to him while he was over there. And the letters he wrote back were haunting and horrific. I support our troops completely. But I support bringing them home. This mess is our burden, our resposibility, and our shame. And I'm ashamed.

Friday, March 7, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday

Yes, it's true. I turned 33 last weekend. Polly keeps telling me that it officially makes me a grown-up hobbit. But I like to refer to it as my "Jesus year." (For those of you not versed in Christian history, the Bible says Jesus was 33 when he was crucified.) I can never come close when it comes to influence or importance. But I am hoping my year ends better than his did. Execution for a crime I didn't commit is so not on my to-do list.

That said, I had a fabulous birthday. I stopped at the bookstore on my way home from work on Friday and bought myself some purely indulgent, mindless reads. And then I spent most of the weekend reading like it was my job. I made it through two and a half books by the time I went back to work on Monday. One of them was poking out of my bag on Saturday (Bookgirl fashion rule #22: when taking the subway by yourself on your way to a night out, always carry the sequined purse that's big enough to hold a paperback) and my friend Mary asked me, "Is that one of your trashy romance novels?" My response? "Even better. Vampire romance."

I was showered with attention all day: phone calls and singing and emails and texts and one very special "Happy Birfday" message from the girl. A small group of my closest friends took me out to dinner for my birthday, and I was reminded all over again of why they're my best friends. One of the boys nonchalantly text messaged me from the other side of the table during dinner. The message said "You look adorable." I'm pretty positive there were hearts coming out of my eyes like Pepe le Peu in those old cartoons. I swear I'd fight his boyfriend for him if I thought I could win.

And let's not forget the Venti skim toffee nut latte from Starbucks. Oh, the latte. See, every year for Lent I give up the same thing--chocolate. It's the hardest thing I can give up and still stick to. (One year I gave up potatoes AND pasta, and chocolate was still tougher.) But since I've been giving up chocolate since junior high, I started giving something else up along with it. This year it was lattes. I couldn't give up coffee entirely, because that just wasn't fair to the people who have to be around me every day. (To my coworkers, you're welcome.) For me, lattes are the good stuff. Coffee is just utilitarian.

After Lent began, a Starbucks opened up in my neighborhood. Two blocks from my apartment. I've lived in this neighborhood for 10 years. That's a full decade of serving hard time, waiting for Jackson Heights to finally get a Starbucks. And once we finally did, I couldn't go. Heartbreaking. But I have one caveat to my Lenten sacrifices, and it's this: they don't count on my birthday. No, Jesus did not come out of the desert for my birthday, but without this rule I would have never in my entire life had a birthday cake worth eating. And I just don't believe a just God would want that to happen in his name. So I got the biggest latte they sell at Starbucks, a medium-sized bag of Cadbury mini eggs, and went. to. town.

The night before my birthday I was a little sad (also a little tipsy, thus the sad), thinking that I was starting a new year with all the same issues I always swear I'm going to change about myself. I'm still broke, still overweight, still not entirely sure what's next for me. But when I woke up the next morning, that was all gone. I was just utterly grateful. Maybe I'll never be rich or thin or have it all together, but I'm loved. Utterly, completely loved. And what else do I really need?

p.s. For those of you thinking, "I thought Bookgirl was going to blog more often now that she has the new laptop??" all I can say is, so did I. But every night this week, I would put on the laptop and the television, intending to write while I was cleaning out the DVR. And it turns out that while I'm an ace multitasker, and there are a zillion things I can do while watching television, being creative and witty is NOT one of them. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm Okay. Really.

For those of you who have called, emailed, texted, or commented to ask, the following all apply.
Yes, I'm okay.
No, I'm not mad at you.
Yes, I'm really okay, not just saying I am.
No, we're not in a secret fight.
No, Polly. We didn't break up. You should still buy me a birthday present.

Sorry I fell off the planet for a couple of weeks, but for you Ya-Ya fans, to quote Vivi, I dropped my basket. I got some news a couple of weeks ago that threw me for a loop and I just shut down. After a week of nearly continuous meltdowns, I shook it off and got back to normal. (Thank you, Prozac, for the recuperative powers you offer. If this happened a couple of years ago, the meltdown might still be going on. There was no "shaking it off" pre-medication.) So I had to spend all of last week doing all the things I didn't do the week before, when I was coming home from work and going directly to sleep. But I'm back in my groove now. Which means you all once again are a captive audience to my babbling.

The weekend before last, I went back to Woonsocket. The spontaneous tears stopped the day I knew I was going to see my mom. A coincidence? I think not. I swear, that women has some kind of old-world healing magic she's not aware of. (Either that, or I've been reading too many Nora Roberts trilogies lately, and I want to believe my life has magic too. Odds are, it's the latter.) I parked myself in my parents' house for 3 days, and left only to go to mass, Target, and to see Ella (my holy trinity of feel-good outings).

We had a joint birthday party for me and my godson, who turned thirteen.

And by joint party, I mean he got to choose what we were eating, he got all the cards and presents, and I couldn't eat the ice cream cake because it was chocolate, so I had to make my own.

In my family's defense, I didn't get presents because my birthday isn't for another couple of days and they didn't want me to have nothing for my actual birthday, the food Jeremy chose was exactly what I would have picked, and I made my own cake because I had something specific in mind and wanted to see if I could figure out how to make it. But still...

When my niece got to my mom's house, I was completely fascinated by her teeny little baby belly. Evidently, I was a lot less subtle than I thought, because after a minute or so, my mom said, "If you're done staring at Jenn's stomach now, I could use some help." Um, oops.

Then on the way back to New York, I stopped in Connecticut to visit one of my sorority sisters and her new daughter, Anna. She snuggled up on me and slept pretty much the whole time. Yeah, I hated every second of it.

So I think we've got the formula down. If you've got a sad Bookgirl on your hands, add downtime, family, and a healthy dose of baby love. The rest will take care of itself.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Great Aunt Bookgirl

Big news, kids. I'm going to be a great aunt. Now, I know what you're thinking. "We've heard the stories. Bookgirl already IS a great aunt." And yes, yes I am. Thanks for noticing. But we're talking geneology here, not quality. My niece is pregnant.

Since the youngest in my immediate family is my godson Jeremy, who's thirteen, it's been a long wait for a new little pumpkin at Casa Bookgirl. Couple that with the fact that Jenn is the only girl in the next generation (my other sisters all had boys), and has been trying for a long time to get pregnant, and this is, like I said, big news.

If I had a magic wand, and I could make one wish come true, it would have been this one. I wanted this for Jenn more even than anything I wanted for myself. I was out with my girlfriends the night Jenn called to tell me, and one of them showed up just as I hung up with her, to find me standing in the street with tears rolling down my face. "What's wrong? What happened?" I kept opening and closing my mouth, not able to get the words out.

I was only 4 when Jenn was born, and as kids, we fought like sisters. Or I guess technically I fought with her, and she had no choice but to fight back. You've all seen what happens when a family gets its first grandchild, right? It's like the sun rises and sets over that kid. Then add in the fact that she was gorgeous, and well, who would blame me for hating her? But by the time we were teenagers, I would drive her friends around. In my early twenties, I chaperoned Jenn's parties so she wouldn't have to have her parents there. Around the time she graduated college, she skidded right past me and became the more mature one.

And along the way, she became a really amazing person. She's a pediatrics nurse in a children's hospital, she took one of the babies from the hospital under her wing and years later still takes her for weekends and vacations. She spontaneously stops by my mom's house with flowers. Sometimes good things do happen to good people. It's nice when those people are the ones I love.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Yes, kids. I know I've been a bad, bad blogger. I've been yelled at. But I can't go online at home, and I've been either working late every night or leaving here to be somewhere else at a specific time, neither of which puts me at my computer after hours with some free time. But there's a great big yellow light at the end of the tunnel, and this is what it looks like.

I bought myself a laptop. A shiny, new, bright-yellow-to-lend-itself-to-creativy laptop. One that has wireless internet that actually works, unlike my old laptop which got a virus because a friend used it to download gay porn (seriously) and then I kept forgetting to have it fixed until my warranty ran out. I'm not making any promises, but there might even be some shirt fiction coming your way. That's how excited I am about this computer.

But while I haven't been blogging, I've learned some valuable lessons:
1) At a home with toddlers, always lock the door when you're in the bathroom. I slept at my friend Kerri's last weekend, and my 3-year-old niece came barreling in when I was in the shower because she had to go potty. Which is fine. I grew up in a house with five girls and one bathroom. I'm used to sharing. But she then proceeded to watch my entire shower, asking questions. "Whatcha doin' Auntie Bookgirl?" "What's that?" "Why did you do that?" "Is that your soap?" "Did you bring it from home?" "Why are you putting lotion on your legs?" "Are those your undies?" "Why is that towel on your head?" It's shocking that she doesn't ever pass out from lack of oxygen.

2) When your team loses in the Super Bowl against the team that plays where you live, you learn who your friends are. Most people were sympathetic. Tons of people asked me how I was doing. Even the friend who really hates my team and whose trash talk tends to get mean managed to limit her comments to one "Holy crap!" text message. But there was one guy, just one, my friend's husband, who sent taunting emails. And he will forever more have a black mark next to his name as far as I'm concerned. For the record, though, no. Believe it or not, I wasn't that upset. As much as I love football, it's a game. And not even a game I was playing in. Plus, I'm a firm believer in the five-year rule. After your team wins the Big Game, you're not allowed to bitch about anything they do for five years. Get caught cheating? Oh well. Lose in the Super Bowl after an undefeated season? Meh. No complaining allowed.

3) The Secret might actually work. After circling my neighborhood for 40 minutes at 2 in the morning with no parking spots anywhere, I started to get desperate and began repeating "Parking spots come easily and often." Swear to God, I found one within 60 seconds, two blocks from my apartment. I've decided to start keeping a gratitude journal. I'll keep you posted on how that works out for me.

4) Keeping secrets is no fun. Someone very close to me has news. Big, big news. News she's not willing to share with the world at large until she's had it for, say, 12 weeks. And I've kept from blogging about it. But it's KILLING me. Killing me, people. (By the way, if you're reading this and thinking, "But Bookgirl told me this news already" that's because you don't know her, there was no way of it getting back to her, and you couldn't possibly ask her about it if something goes wrong. Therefore you're safe.)

5) I now understand why it's so easy to become addicted to prescription drugs. It's because I wasn't taking the right kind. I had this horrible back pain yesterday that I described as "feeling like all the muscles and nerves in my lower back were in a vise and shooting pain down through my hips and legs." Good times, I tell you. And I remembered that somewhere in my medicine chest (and by chest I mean gallon-size Ziploc bag) I had muscle relaxers left from a previous back pain. I took one, and then either fell asleep or lost conciousness (I'm not really sure which) at 7 pm and except for a brief stumble from the couch to bed slept through the night. The bad news is that was my last pill. The good news is that was my last pill.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shoe Slut

It was raining when I left this morning, so I got to wear the pretty new boots I got for Christmas. I've been wanting a pair of rain boots for forever. Walking to work in the morning in the rain, my feet get wet, and then I have damp socks the rest of the day. Ick.

I've been looking at and trying on boots for more than a year. But there were, of course, very strict requirements. I know you're shocked. They had to be fun and colorful and pretty. There was the money issue--I couldn't bring myself to spend a lot of money on a pair of boots I wasn't going to get to wear that often. And after I found pairs I liked and that suited my thriftiness (I get weirdly cheap about some purchases--this was one of them) I had some serious Goldilocks syndrome going on. Every pair I tried on was too big or too small, too soft or too hard (okay, not really, but I had to extend the analogy).

My niece found these and sold them to my mom as part of my Christmas present. And they were just right.

p.s. I know the background looks like a cheesy photographer's backdrop, but it's actually the view from my office at night. Or, you know, any time after 4:00 in winter...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cats and Dogs

I had similar conversation recently with both Countrygirl and Polly Poppins, and what it comes down to is this. There are two kinds of kids in this world. There are your puppy kids—the ones who clamor all over you looking for attention and affection and will do just about anything to get it. And there are your cat kids—the ones who might, if you’re lucky, deign to cuddle with you. But it’s on their terms, when they feel like it, and only after you’ve passed their rigorous selection process.

Let’s take my nieces for example. Last time I was at their house, Emilie kept following me around the house, giving me her most winning smile, looking hopefully up at me and saying, “Mama?” with her arms outstretched so I’d pick her up. She’s willing to go through her whole bag of tricks, simultaneously if necessary, to get you to love her. My sister had this dog, and if you took out a treat, she’d go through every trick she knew until you gave it to her. You didn’t have to say a word. She’d roll over, sit, and beg in rapid succession, figuring one of those had to be what you were looking for, and going through them all would get her the treat faster. That’s Emilie. She gives it away for free. We’re hoping she’ll outgrow that tendency before puberty, but that’s another story.

And then you have Ella. I love my Ella. You all know that. But she’s got enough attitude for the entire cast of Mean Girls. None of her uncles are allowed to touch her. Not one. They can talk to her, but she’s not going to respond. Or even acknowledge that they’re speaking. I’m one of her favorite people, and she just flat-out refused to say my name until she was 2. When she met my roommate, I told her, “This is Jodie. Can you say Jodie?” She looked at me and said, “Jodie. Jodie. Jodie.” And then kissed her. The little bitch. She’s a total cat.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What's It Worth to You?

On New Years Day I was having brunch with the boys, and we were talking about all our hopes and dreams and goals and wishes for the new year. “But,” I added at the end of the conversation, “I’d give everything up to get a Democrat in the White House.”

“Would you give up sex?” Anthony asked me. “Wait. That’s not a good one.”

Asking the celibate girl if she’d give up sex is much like asking the vegan to give up pork. Not exactly a huge sacrifice. But he was off from there. Even though by “everything” I had meant all my other goals, this was a fun game.

“Would you give up chocolate?”

Yes, yes, and yes. And I realized that there’s precious little I wouldn’t give up to see a Democrat elected in November, I’d give up Diet Coke. I’d give up my car. I’d give up shopping. I’d give up pleasure reading. I’d give up television. As long as we’re just talking from here through the election, I’d give up my friends. And my family. I’d even, wait for it, give up Ella. Now you know how serious I am.

If someone waved a magic wand, and told me that my sacrifices could guarantee a Democratic win, could make sure that our party would get a chance to fix what’s broken in this country, the list of what I would give up encompasses basically everything except my job, my apartment, enough food to eat, and enough clothing to cover me. (Yes, I’d even give up the leopard-print shoes.)

I’m not pretending the Democratic candidates are perfect, or even ideal, but they’re ours, dammit. And they certainly can’t make things worse. There’s a great conversation over at Left Side of the Moon on the Democratic candidates, and I already blathered on there, so I won’t do it again, but if you’re interested, check it out. Warning, if you’re NOT voting Democratic, don’t bother. It’s a viciously anti-Republican crowd over there, and we like it that way.

So now all that said, there is no magic wand. And the only sacrifices I can make that will make a bit of difference to the election are time, energy, and money, all of which I fully intend to pitch in to the cause. So thankfully, I won’t have to give up my lattes, my loved ones, or my favorite shoes. But I would if I had to. I swear.

p.s. This bumper sticker is hanging in Grand Central. God, I love New York.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Why I Hate Facebook

So being in marketing, I’m always looking for a new way to market my books. I need to understand where people are going to talk, to exchange ideas, to swap stories. And of course, a big part of that happens online. I’ve got MySpace down. I have a Friendster profile left over from before that was passé. I’ve been on Gather, because they’re an especially book-friendly site. I’ve logged onto Second Life, but haven’t been able to go so far as creating an avatar. And of course, the site everyone’s talking about these days—Facebook.

But I’ve got a confession to make. And it’s not pretty. Facebook makes me feel old. I just… don’t… get… it. At first I made excuses. It’s just because I’m new to it. It’ll all make sense. But it’s been a while. And it still doesn’t. Stuff shows up on my profile, and I can’t figure out why. People email me things that I have to sign up for. And at first I just said no to everything. No, no, no. But then I realized I wasn’t learning anything that way. So I started accepting these requests. And they’re confusing. Worse, they’re not grammatically correct. I got this message today:
”Added you to one of circles. Which circle do you want to put in?”
Seriously, that’s not English!! It looks like something my barely literate super would post on a sign in our laundry room.

I’m not happy, my friends. I feel the way my mom must have felt back when I was trying to teach her how to program the VCR. It gives me sensory overload, that same slightly panicked, out-of-control, I’m-out-of-my-element feeling I get in Best Buy and Home Depot. I briefly considered begging one of my friends for a tutorial, but then I realized that would officially make me pathetic. And that’s not an admission I’m willing to make yet.

I’ve heard that you have two choices in life: to master that which intimidates you, or to have it master you. But I disagree. I think there’s also a third option. To abandon the attempt entirely and pretend that it never mattered to you in the first place. And right now, that option is looking VERY attractive.
p.s. If you didn't click on the link to my MySpace profile, go do it. Now. My profile song would make my top songs of all times list. But that's another blog...