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.

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...