Showing posts from January, 2014

wishing on salt

This weekend marked my last P&W event—after a week of “lasts” that included my last trip to the Westwood Petco for kitty litter—and I felt acutely how much I’ll miss being in a room full of friendly writers who instantly get me. I know I’ll be in other rooms full of writers, but not in quite the same way. Then one of them told me she could never take a job as a grant writer, because it would be too tedious for her creative mind. She also complained to our intern about the smallness of P&W’s grants. Apparently, she would like more money but is above asking for it. So at the end of the day, I was thinking about how I’d miss eleven out of twelve people in that room. We spent half the day on writing prompts, one of which was “If you were granted three wishes, what would they be?” The writer who brought it led us in a guided visualization exercise, in which we encountered a genie at a garage sale. Here’s what I came up with. You can't wish for more wishes, but you can wi

a big thing (that is not baby-, book- or cancer-related)

I’ve worked at Poets & Writers (usually referred to on this blog as “my org”) for eleven years. Setting aside the continuously mind-boggling fact of how old I actually am, this also means that I’ve only had one job since grad school. It’s only my second professional job (if you can call writing about TV for a startup that has a video game station in the office “professional”). Sometimes I think about the story my mom told me once, about how my Aunt Vanessa once raised ducklings in a cardboard box, and by the time they were grown, their tail feathers veered to one side because the box was so small. Duck in a box. Having one job for nearly a third of your life feels a little bit like that, except imagine that the cardboard box was cozy and home to other kind, understanding ducks and often visited by famous and fascinating ducks, and that there were only three other cardboard boxes in your whole field, and you’d heard that two of them were totally dysfunctional. All of w

the establishment and the institutions

1. down-to-earth takedown I’m about halfway through the New Yorker profile of Jennifer Weiner , and it’s kind of grossing me out. Summary: Jennifer Weiner is a writer of smart-skewing chick lit (which I have not read) who publicly gives the literary establishment a hard time for ignoring popular literature, especially popular literature by women. I think she and Jonathan Franzen have gotten into some kind of Twitter war without Franzen even being on Twitter. Rebecca Mead’s article raises some legitimate points—namely that the literary establishment honors many women writers, but it rightly favors those who create more complex characters than Weiner does. OMG, she is clearly wearing a coral top because she's a bitter shrew who wants you to like her. But the article takes Weiner down using the kind of petty, snobby, sexist digs that drive home Weiner’s point about how non-edgy female writers are treated. Mead compares Weiner’s outfit at a speaking engagement to something a

curiouser and curiouser

I recently saw a headline that said Why A New Year’s Theme Works Better Than a Resolution. My first thought was Fuck. I failed at my resolutions just by making them? My second thought was I needed a theme for 2014. The Kleins like a theme. My mom always let my sister and I pick out our friends’ birthday gifts, but she strongly discouraged two-parters composed of discordant parts. Pound Puppy + Barbie outfit? Nope. Pound Puppy +   paw print stationery? Thumbs up from Mom. Pound Puppy + Pound Purry: another acceptable combination. Speaking of my mom, I’ve decided that my theme for 2014 is going to be CURIOSITY. She was a librarian, relentlessly curious to the point that she may have over-helped me with research papers, creating a shoemaker’s-child situation. Instead of learning how to do my own research, I married a girl who thrives off meticulously planning trips, and who reads six articles about any movie she sees before she sees it (and another five after). So I continue

the resolutions of a recovering resolver

I’m against resolutions, mostly because I find them so appealing. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I spent Monday making up titles for a series of anti-self-help books that decrease stress by telling you you’re fine how you are (sample title: How to Be an Unlikeable Female Protagonist ). But I did this while I was scrubbing the vegetable drawers in my fridge, striving for internal and external cleanliness. So therein lie my contradictions. I'm pretty sure this mermaid has fake boobs too. (Illustration by Cindy McClure.) What I really want is to be a mermaid in a sea of barnacles. I want to convince everyone else that self-improvement is bullshit so that I can secretly go off and improve. What usually happens is that I feel like a barnacle in a sea of mermaids. That’s what I get for trying to be the best. I struggle with my mermaid friends, who seem to use their free time to make mermaid babies and write mermaid books; whose confidence looks all too much li