Monday, May 17, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Today's Lists

Things That Annoy Me More
Than They Probably Should

1. Doing laundry [specifically- folding and storing fitted sheets, trying to stuff my fluffy down comforter into the comforter cover, and when people take your not yet dry clothes out of the machine (especially when other machine are empty!)]

3. When I get something stuck in between my teeth and I don't have any dental floss.

4. When someone puts sugar in my coffee even though I say, "light, no sugar."

Things That Make Me Happier
Than They Probably Should

1. This commercial! Not only am I a huge fan of the product, but the song makes me laugh!

2. Caramel sauce

3. When you think you have lost an earring but it turns out to be stuck to your scarf.

4. Receiving a good old fashioned letter in the mail.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hey batter batter batter...

The literary agent Nathan Bransford has some good advice about the author's pitch up on his blog.

"My feeling: get it all out of the way at once. Save yourself the headache and come up with a one sentence, one paragraph, and two paragraph pitch before you even start to query. Then: practice and memorize your pitches. You never know when you're going to need them."

He then proceeds to give an example of the one sentence, one paragraph and two paragraph pitch for his own novel. Check it out!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Today I turned a corner in the 4th floor computer lab and ran right into my dear friend Benjamin Andrew Moore. And yes folks, he is indeed someone who should always be called by his full name, because he is most certainly three names worth of awesome. So, said awesome friend of three names worth of awesome took some time out of his busy day to show me his supremely awesome website which is called Worthless Online. I figured I would pass this gem along to the rest of you so you could be supremely jealous that I am friends with my awesome friend of three names worth of awesome and so you could read his comics and reviews and articles and short stories and watch his great videos and try and figure out what the hell is up with that creepy Jorge Jackson guy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Reviews

The Sky is Everywhere
by Jandy Nelson
(5 scoops)
Man, oh man. This book is good. So good.
This book should be required reading.
Not required for any particular class, just required for life.

Out of the Pocket
by Bill Konisberg
(3.5 scoops)
An honest, heart warming presentation of a unique coming out story. The author made me really care about Bobby and his friends and family and many of the book's passages moved me deeply. The sports writing and the titular "out of the pocket" metaphor were also handled well. Unfortunately, there were some very glaring errors, which should have been caught by an editor, that momentarily stalled my reading and made it hard to fall head over heals in love with this book. In the first chapter the senior boys on the football team all shave their heads, but in chapter five, only a few weeks later, there is mention of someone's dirty blond hair falling in wisps over his forehead. There is no way his hair would have grown back. Then there is the scene where Bobby and his best friend Austin are outside and Austin puts chew in his mouth, which Bobby is disgusted and seems shocked by. They then walk indoors and sit on the couch in the living room and have a very important conversation, but at no point is there any mention of Austin spitting or negotiating the chew. Another time Bobby is in a restaurant looking at his menu, and a few lines later he is wondering where his food is and then it arrives- but he never ordered! You can't include some of these details and not others or your reader will stop trusting you. I kept feeling like I had skipped a page or something! It's a shame that these easily fixable errors weren't caught before the book went to print because Konisberg is clearly a talented and heartfelt writer.

Pure Talent

This kid is amazing!
So talented!
So calm and confident.
He's only 12 years old! 12!
At 12 I was just trying to color inside the lines!

Friday, May 7, 2010


The good part about having gone through graduate school is the obligatory, soul-searching adventure that one must go on the summer after receiving one's degree! I am currently trying to plan some sort of an adventure with a fried of mine and it got me thinking about all the other adventures I have had the good fortune of going on.

In high school I spent each academic year working at the golf course and doing odd jobs in order to save up enough money so that I could go on a two week summer volunteer retreat with my youth group. The summer after 9th grade I went to Tijuana to work at a day care center in the city and make and distribute food to those people who were living in the local garbage dump- most significant experience in my entire life. The following summer I rode the train from California through Nevada and Utah to get to Denver, where we did some volunteer work, and then went to Colorado Springs for some relaxation and white water rafting. The next summer we spent a few weeks on the White River Apache Reservation in Arizona learning about Apache traditions and helping to build a community center. We also got to see the Grand Canyon and hike the Canyon de Chelly. The following summer I found myself in Juneau and then taking a small plane and then a boat to get to Sitka, Alaska where we helped to maintain a college campus and I ran through the woods like a speckled sprite! So many amazing memories!

While in high school I went on other trips too. I spent time in both Eugene and Portland, Oregon with my sister, hiked in Yosemite, went to Lake Tahoe and the surrounding areas for countless camping and ski trips with friends, and to Kansas City for a wedding. I took a road trip with my parents through Nevada and Idaho to get to a family reunion in Montana and then we explored Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Oh, and of course I spent several weekends running around Disneyland!

In college there were various road trips and bizarro adventures: a Route 66 cross-country drive with two of the loudest, craziest dudes I know (complete with a near death experience involving an overturned semi and icy roads); drives from the Bay Area to Arcata to hang out with friends; Fung Wah bus rides to Boston; a bus trip to Washington DC for the final exhibition of the AIDS quilt in its entirety and my one and only march on Washington to date; an epic Greyhound ride down to New Orleans, so I could hang out with friends, drink on the street, stay in a youth hostel, and rent a car to drive to Florida to get fake nails and eat a seafood supper; the foolhardy trip to Graceland for the 20th anniversary of Elvis's death that entailed our car/hotel being stolen and the four of us never actually getting to see the inside of Graceland because we were too busy drowning our sorrows in free alcohol at a casino in a nearby town!

After graduating from college I started teaching high school in the South Bronx and had the opportunity to spend the summer in North Carolina with a group of my students at the Outward Bound school. We went hiking, rock climbing, and white water rafting and wrote a lot of poems.

Two summers after graduating college I took the backpack-through-Europe trip of my dreams. I started in Barcelona with my best friend, and then we traveled to Madrid, Bilbao, and San Sebastian before we parted ways- her to meet up with her brother, and me to join my cousin in Switzerland where I windsurfed over the Alps and almost killed myself and a cute elderly couple when I was riding a bicycle a million miles an hour straight down a dusty, gravelly path. Then I went solo, took a train to Paris and spent a week not talking, napping in museums, writing in my journal, and eating bread with lots of butter. After that I found myself in Brussels for a few days before I headed off to Amsterdam. I had a friend who was house sitting in a small town outside the city, so I spent the last few days of my two month trip hanging out with him in a fully hooked up mansion surrounded by tulip fields.

After my Europe trip I went back to teaching, which meant I had winter breaks, spring breaks, mid-winter recesses and summers free for more exploring! On one such break I spent a ridiculous week at Club Med Cancun but luckily managed to escape for a day to go to Chichen Itza and climb the Pyramid of Kukulkan.

Somewhere in there I spent a weekend in Chicago with a friend who was interviewing for graduate schools. Later, I went to Philadelphia to visit that same friend when she was in graduate school. And later still made the trip to see her in Iowa City where she was actually teaching graduate students!

Once I took a ten day trip to Rome with a colleague. There were lots of cats.

My best friend from high school and I spent a week in Athens and then we met up with my parents and explored the surrounding areas for another week or so. Another time she and I rented a truck and took a road trip from NYC to Tennessee to whoop it up at Dollywood, a Dolly Parton themed amusement park. Perhaps I should say "the" because I can't imagine there ever being another one.

I spent a month one summer, supported by an NEH grant, studying Shakespeare in Ashland Oregon, drinking unprecedented amounts of Pinot Gris and singing songs about dead birds. For about a year after that I dated a guy who lived in Seattle and so I went to visit him in that fine city several times. We went on a road trip up to Vancouver.

I've been on short trips to various cities between NYC and Manchester, New Hampshire such as Cairo and Hyde Park in The Hudson Valley, and Cape Cod and North Hampton in Massachusetts.

Another time I went exploring Austria and Hungary with four fabulous friends. We drank a lot of wine. Ferf!

And one of those fine ladies even decided that she wanted to travel with me again. And Again! We spent two weeks touring China. We started in Beijing and walked The Great Wall, went to Xi'an and hung out with the Terra Cotta Warriors, ventured to gorgeousness that is Lhasa, Tibet, and then on to Chongqing for a cruise down the Yangtze River which brought us to Shanghai. After two weeks of eating the same four or five vegetarian options the tour provided me I was never so happy to eat Pizza Hut as I was in the hotel in Shanghai! I think it took us less than two minutes to eat an entire large pizza!

The following year that same lovely lady and I hiked the pristine mountains of Peru along the Lares Trek and explored Macchu Picchu. Apparently some sort of Peruvian bacteria was also on vacation that week, exploring my gastrointestinal tract. I have never been so sick in my entire life! But it was still an amazing trip.

Wow, that's a lot of adventures! No wonder I feel so old! But, I wouldn't trade a single one of them! So, I'm taking suggestions; anyone been anywhere they'd recommend?

Lights up on Washington Heights!

Those of you who know me know that I am always complaining about my apartment- it's loud and dark, the sink clogs, the boiler always needs repairs, and a couple weeks ago the ceiling opened up and a hot, steamy, bleachy waterfall poured through from the upstairs neighbor's washing machine- but what you might not know is that, despite my apartment agita, sometimes I really do love this hood. Like today. I left the house looking for a cup of coffee and a place to read my new book and wound up shopping up a storm! I spent less than $40 dollars and made out like a bandit! No wonder my closets can barely contain all of my crap. Here's the breakdown:

1 fedora ($1)
1 NY Giants t-shirt ($4)
1 fabulous swing coat ($12)
1 pair pink sneakers ($5)
1 pair of rock n roll print sneakers ($5)
1 pair gray and white canvas flats ($4)
1 black maxi dress ($10)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Keep an eye out for...

the first round of A Lil Sumpin' Sumpin' Interviews!

Yes, thats right, in the next few weeks I am going to be interviewing my fellow MFAers. Together we just went through an amazing, overwhelming experience and I am curious about what sort of insights about writing and living the life of a writer that each of us has walked away with.

There is a lot out there on the world wide web about the horrors of the MFA program, but all in all, I had an extremely positive experience. (Look at that verb tense! So weird! Technically I don't have my diploma in hand, but it still feels over. Aaaack!) I was nurtured, challenged, pushed, poked, and prodded, and most of all, encouraged. And I am grateful for it.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'm Back

In case you've been wondering where I am, I've been toiling away on my grad school thesis! It is close to done and I am slowly starting to rejoin the real world. That means fun things like going to movies and talking to my friends, but it also means mundane things like doing a million loads of laundry and cleaning the fridge. This semester has been very difficult but in the end I am grateful for all of the struggle. I feel prepared to live the life of the writer.