Showing posts from December, 2008

books and bikes for '09

Oof . Time to dust off the ol ' blog, huh? Sorry to be away a while, but chances are you were too. I have been experiencing the Human Fishbowl Time Effect, which means that my stuff-to-do grows to fit my day. A regular workday might (occasionally) find me writing, working out, mentoring and getting groceries (and, granted, I'd probably be kind of sleep deprived and grumpy the next day). But while on vacation, a whole day can be devoted to going to the ATM and microwaving some soup. Actually, I can't think about soup too much right now because it was the last thing I ate a few days ago before getting slammed ( again ) with the stomach flu. You would think that at least I'd be very skinny by now, but unfortunately a little thing called Christmas, a.k.a. Cookie Season, happened between flues , so they more or less canceled each other out. And now we arrive at Resolution Season, which is as appealing and dangerous to the OCD brain as a plate full of cookies. As soon as y

the most wonderful time of the year…

…for armchair-critic geeks like me is when we get to make our top-ten(-ish) lists. Same qualifiers as last year : These aren’t necessarily the best-with-a-capital-B, just my favorites, and the books aren’t necessarily ones published in ‘08, just ones I read this year. Top ten books I read in 2008: 1. Tie: The Second World by Parag Khanna and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. The former rocked my paradigm and the latter reminded me of how humanity plays out in that new paradigm. 3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Post-colonialism can be sly and funny. 4. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Lifted me up when I really needed it. 5. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. Once again, he tied it all together. 6. The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty. Kind of like Prep for poor girls. 7. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. I didn’t want to like it as much as I did, but few voices have stuck with me as much. 8. Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender. These short stories are like 15


I have this problem where, when someone has a pattern of behavior I don’t like, I don’t know how to call them on it. My ex-girlfriend would interject here and say, “Of course. That’s because you’re a doormat.” But that’s only, like, 14 percent of the story. I am only 14 percent doormat. The other part of the problem is that I have to make sure it’s a pattern before I speak up, and I like to be really, really thorough in my research. For example, it took me three years to realize that my office landlord probably could have fixed the heating system by now if he’d really tried. That just aiming his temperature-measuring radar-gun thingy at our vents once a week wasn’t cutting it. But by this point, I’d established myself as The Nice But Shivering Girl At The End Of The Hall and it just seemed weird to get all in his face. And when I did get in his face, which I eventually sort of did, he…well, he told me I was a “smart girl” in a way that you might tell your dog he was smart for fetch

and now for a little self-promotion

Places I can be found online: 1. the excellent blog of tracy lynn kaply Those of you who read Kaply, Inc. know that Tracy Lynn is angry, funny and regularly uses words like “tit-punch.” But that doesn’t mean she’s above holiday traditions. For the second year in a row, I am a proud member of her Twelve Guests of Christmas guest-blogging festival. Scroll down to Dec. 14 to read my thoughts on the economy, JFK and holiday coupon books. 2. the emerging writers network A man named Dan Wickett is excited to read my book in 2009! In an email he sent out to writers on his list, he warned us that he might end up hating our books, and we might therefore hate him by the end of 2009. But for now Dan rocks! Scroll down about a third of the way to see the cover of Lilac Mines —I think this is its internet debut. 3. jane’s stories press They e-interviewed me. I waxed on. I had a great time hearing the sound of my own keyboard.

three catholic cheers for meehan!

Meehan has a flare for finding snazzy places to live. In L.A., she hosted bimonthly FROG salons in her Furnished Room Over Garage. And when she moved to Santa Barbara, it only seemed right that she host some kind of 30th birthday extravaganza in her new place, which, we discovered this weekend, is kind of like a Tucson spa, with looottts of natural wood, a jacuzzi, Navajo Persian rugs (apparently there is such a thing) and some kind of crazy jungle fern that eats banana peels. Because Meehan is very brave, and not like other people, she invited her dad's band, Dave and the Droolers, to perform. He sang some pretty catchy songs with titles like "Communist Girl" and "Asshole the Cat." I proudly performed backup as a Catholic cheerleader for his song "Catholic Cheerleader." Because Meehan is very brave, and not like other people, she performed at her party. She's been taking a songwriting class, because apparently being a lawyer and a fiction write

a day without a gay is like a cookie without baking soda

I’m at home today because it’s A Day Without A Gay . Not that my workplace is remotely anti-gay (it’s the kind of organization where the boss sends a “Happy Indigenous People’s Day” email every Columbus Day), but I guess the point is to prove how valuable queers are to the economy. We’re not buying anything, and we’re not, in my case, doing any literary outreach. Take that! So, like the militant dyke that I am, I’m at home baking cookies. I’m using Jamie ’s recipe for ginger cookies, except, as with all my cooking adventures, there have been some substitutions. I went to Trader Joe’s last night for the ingredients, but they didn’t have molasses, and I refused to swing by Fresh and Easy today to get some because I’m not going to Contribute To The Economy (with the possible exception of one little latte if I decide to write later today). Also because I’m lazy. I soon discovered that I didn’t have baking soda either. There must be some kind of Murphy’s Law that says you will inevitabl

ice and figs

I was going to title this post “Supposedly Fun Things I’ll Probably Do Again” after David Foster Wallace ’s essay about cruises, but 1) it seemed a little harsh because I probably liked the supposedly fun elements of my weekend more than DFW liked his cruise, and 2) I’ve never read the essay so I would just be a big poseur. Nevertheless, my ultimately-quite-fun weekend did involve some moments when I thought, “Shouldn’t I be having more fun?” For example: 1. ice skating, or: more proof that i am old [Setting: Pasadena Ice Skating Center, a cavernous rink hidden behind the Pasadena Civic Center. The walls are covered with dirty white tiles. The floor is covered with bumpy white ice. In between are hundreds of teenagers, plus CHERYL and STEPHANIE.] CHERYL: It’s like skating on the freeway. STEPH: Yeah, that’s what happens when the floor gets really worn out. The grooves are so deep that the zamboni doesn’t make a difference. CHERYL: If you want to skate ahead of me and do, l

in no particular order

Things that are bumming me out: 1. The stomach flu 2. A Very Special Episode of Home Improvement I saw at the gym in which Jill discovers she has a fibroid tumor and has to get a hysterectomy 3. Death and the OCD brain that makes me think about it when I watch sitcoms sometimes 4. The fact that I’m almost done (maybe) with novel #3 and am not sure what to do with it 5. The same things that are bumming Noel out 6. The economy, even though I don’t own a home or have any real investments 7. Learning on NPR that cows are bred to be dumb when we could have smart cows, because who wouldn’t rather have smart cows (although not so smart they’d turn against us)? Things that are making me happy: 1. The idea of writing a novel about a traveling circus 2. Strong tea 3. Going to Whole Foods in spite of #6 above because it is so shiny and it makes you feel like you are doing something good for the world just by buying carob-and-chicory coffee substitute 4. The idea of not spending the holidays

small world

One great thing about living in the same 20-mile radius your entire life is that everyone comes to visit you over the holidays. Well, actually they come to visit their families, but you can flatter yourself, and you can usually snag them for a drink or brunch. Hence it was a weekend of many carbs: not just pumpkin pie and dump cake and chocolate chip cookies (which I ate as if they were pretzels while we watched WALL-E ) on Thanksgiving day, but cupcakes and vodka with Jenessa and her cute new-ish boyfriend, tofu scramblings with Meehan, and eggs and home fries with Mike. And I’m surprised that my stomach hurts today? Another thing I love about this time of year is the movies. After the long dry spell of summer blockbusters, the good movies start rolling in and doing their give-me-an-Oscar dance. Milk was great—inspiring, as predicted, and nicely acted by Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch, if a little traditional for Gus Van Sant. But whatever. Recently I’ve also dug Slumdog Millionaire ,