Friday, November 28, 2008

Bored in the Hamptons

I didn't think I'd be blogging this week, but frankly, I'm bored out here. My kids are out building a fort and my husband surprise here...on his BlackBerry. We are spending the holidays with my parents in Southampton, NY. I can hear hunters shooting ducks nearby, but that's about it for action. Our house is near the Peconic Bay, north (a.k.a. the wrong side) of the highway. I like our area--it's a little more rural, a little less posh than our ocean-side neighbors. 

My mom's friend came over yesterday, bearing a pot of pig's feet. You heard me--pig's feet. Want some? Both she and my dad were raised on farms where the motto apparently was Don't Waste No Matter How Gross. So she had him in mind when she cooked up the feet. She threatened to bring chitlins as well, (which are, as I understand it, fried pieces of chopped pig intestine) but she must have changed her mind. 

I haven't yet tried the feet. Not sure I will.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of her. She's actually someone I most admire because of her outlook on life despite her difficult upbringing. She was raised in the deep South (she's African-American) and had a tough childhood. But she managed to raise five kids by herself and every one of them are successful. Besides that, she's fun to be around and my parents adore her.

Perhaps people sitting around shootin' ducks and eatin' feet doesn't fit your mental image of the fabulous Hamptons, but there you have it.

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


You probably all saw this bit of crappy news, so I'm not going to dwell on it. It's just too depressing. And if you haven't, sorry for ruining your day.

I'll be taking off tomorrow for Thanksgiving break and I doubt I'll have much time for blogging. We'll be visiting my parents, so I'm off the hook for cooking the Big Meal again this year.

My job is to pick up the turkey. The poor thing probably meets his death sometime today. He's been picked out at the turkey farm down the road from my parent's house. It's kind of sad to drive by and see the turkeys grow from cute little chicks into adult turkeys strutting around the yard, all full of confidence. Then one day--*poof*-- gone.

Don't worry, though, I've viewed the Sarah Palin Turkey Massacre and I know what to expect. It's almost enough to make you go vegan. Almost.

Have a happy Thanksgiving! Any big plans?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It was just that kind of weekend

It's freezing on the East Coast, so all I did all weekend was watch movies. One was an all-time favorite, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Which, incidentally, I'm pretty sure I saw in the theater when I was 11 years old. It was rated R, so that means my mother probably dropped me off at the mall and my friends and I bought movie tickets for Black Stallion Returns. Then sneaked into Fast Times.* Masturbation! Teenage sex! Drugs! How appropriate!

I read about a book coming out soon called Free Range Kids--that pretty much describes my childhood. And somehow I survived.

Anyway, not the point. I noticed something about the teenage actresses from movies in the 80s: no one looked pin-thin, like many today. Everyone looked, well...healthy.


Jennifer Jason Leigh, how cute was she back then? And who didn't want to be Madonna? This is a much better look then, say, this:

Or this:
I'm hungry.

We also watched Beetlejuice (with the kids, who loved it, although I didn't remember quite so much cursing when I saw it last. Oh well.) and a really bleak thing I ordered from Netflix called Half Nelson (most assuredly WITHOUT the kids, since it's all about drug addiction.) Can't say I recommend the latter.
So, how was your weekend?

*Sorry, mom! It's true!

Friday, November 21, 2008

While I was researching...

...I found this dude's great blog and I thought I'd share it with you. I haven't seen it linked to the blogs I visit. Anyway, enjoy.

And have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If writing causes mental illness, I'm in serious trouble

Or maybe it's that one has to already BE mentally ill to write (or, more specifically, attempt to become published.) I dunno. But lately I've been experiencing symptoms that MUST be like what manic/depressives go through.

There are days when I walk around thinking I am a GREAT writer! Soon, fame and fortune will be mine...ALL MINE!* I even allow myself to think about who might be a good actress to play my MC in the movie version of my wildly-successful book. (If I can convince Phoebe Cates to come out of retirement, she'd be perfect. She runs a store down the street from me and she still looks fantastic.) I know that's not really how it works, but indulge me here.

And then there are the Why Bother days. Eeyore and I would be great pals (well, if he wasn't just a drawing.) No one cares! Get a real job!

Anyway, as many of you know, I'm in the process of trying to get an agent. Which is not so easy, turns out. I'm happy with my query letter and it's received a good response. My query letter stats are impressive. I have some partials and fulls out, some with agents I would kill to have represent me. But all that means bupkis without an offer. Bupkis!

I guess all these wild ups and downs are still better than just the flat nothing of not trying. And you all will come visit me in the institution, right?

*I'm exaggerating a little here, if that's not clear. My ego is not quite that large.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

For the Kiddos

I just finished reading aloud the most beautiful book to my daughters. The Miraculous Story of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo was an exquisitely-written, moving story about a china rabbit learning how to love. I know, the plot sounds lame, but trust me--if you have kids between the ages of 6 and oh, say 11 or 12, run out and buy this book.

And just try to read it aloud without crying. I dare you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What are YOU getting for Christmas?

Or Hanukkah. Or Chrismukkah! Well, if you are on MY list, the answer is...a book. That's right, everyone on my Christmas list is getting at least one book this year. It's my little part in helping save the publishing industry.

I went e-shopping last night and bought 17 books. I thought it would be easy--you know, the one stop shopping experience and all. But selecting just the right books were more difficult than I anticipated. Instead of picking a scarf or gloves (again!) I actually had to think about everyone's preferences. For example, Eminem's autobiography might not be the best selection for my literature-loving mother-in-law. And my dad might not adore Chuck Palahniuk's Choke.

But I think I found just the perfect book for everyone, and it gave me the opportunity to really sit and consider what it is that makes all my loved ones tick.

Books. Get ya some.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reading, 'Riting, and...well, that's it.

It's been tough to think of new and exciting topics for ye ole blog, because lately I've been doing this amazing thing called "writing." Not thinking about writing, not talking about writing, not obsessing about seeing my writing in print...but actual, honest-to-God, clicking-the-keyboard writing. On something new, no less! Big deal for me.

And, as always, I'm reading. I recently started The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski because I heard it was a modern take on Hamlet. And, hey, I like Hamlet, so why not? The writing is elegant--poetic, actually, but it's a little slow to start. To be fair, I'm only about 40 pages in and it seems like it's starting to pick up.

What are you reading (or writing) at the moment?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hangover Day

I'm probably going to make a lot of typos today because I am bone dog tired. I've been working for months on a benefit for my kids' school, and last night we actually pulled it off. I was able to speak in front of a crowd without falling or drooling or anything of that nature.

Luckily for the school, one of the current parents is a Big Movie Mogul and he always arranges for a premiere screening in a local theater. (And by premiere, I mean the movie isn't completely finished yet, so NO ONE has seen it. It doesn't even have a release date.) The movie starred Forrest Whittaker and was great--everyone cheered at the end. Hooray! Then the crowd moved on to a seated dinner for 300, whereupon I drank a little too much wine and am paying for it today.

Anyway, that's over, so now I can concentrate on novel-sort-of-in-progress #2 that has been neglected and is screaming for attention. I've finally named my MC, and I'm going to spend some time with her today, trying to figure out exactly what she wants and what is stopping her from getting it. I usually start stories with a character in mind, or sometimes a setting or plot, but this time I started with an idea for a climax and now have to fill in the rest. It feels odd for me. How do you usually start?


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Things I like

1. The Ramones

2. Aloo Gobi Punjabi

3. Our new President-Elect!

And the fact that the election is over. Hooray.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yet another blog about voting. Yawn.

So I'll make it short. My husband and I took out daughters to vote today. They had a half day at school, so we went around noon, fully expecting a looooooong wait. Not so! Only a few people were ahead of us. New York still has the old school voting booths with the giant lever that makes the satisfying KER-CHUNK when you finish.

Did you vote? How'd it go for you?

Oh, and if you are in the hellish querying process like me, be sure to check out Jessica Faust's blog entry today.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween, Manhattan-style

Over the years, I've had many people ask me how the whole trick-or-treating situation works in a big city like New York. It makes much more sense if you knew my neighborhood. Visitors come to Manhattan and see Times Square and Midtown and can be under the impression that we all live in crowded chaos.

I live on the Upper East Side in an area called Carnegie Hill, which is very residential. And, since there seem to be roughly 10,000 schools in a 20-block area, it's also full of families. The traffic isn't bad, but at certain times of the day we have stroller gridlock.

So yeah, Halloween. Most people live in apartment buildings. Often the staff puts on parties in the lobby and the residents sign up if they want to give out candy as well. All the trick-or-treaters get a list and go apartment to apartment, taking the elevator to the top and working down. Sometimes the halls are decorated (I spent about 2 hours yesterday doing mine.) All well and good, but I'd rather go outside. So we did.

The townhouses in the neighborhood go nuts with decorations -- on some blocks, every townhouse is covered with ghouls and spiderwebs. I took my kids up Madison (the stores all give out candy) and we wound our way up several of the better side streets, hitting the townhouses and buildings one by one. HUNDREDS of kids were out, many of whom we knew. Some streets blocked off traffic. One of the owners was holding a giant bag of candy and asked her how many she had to buy. "About thirty," she said.

We went home after about 2 1/2 hours of non-stop candy-grubbing.

How was your Halloween?