SOS
Sunday, January 01, 2006
  Sometimes I like to do a little update as a reward for those faithful -- or bored -- enough to give the old Gazette a hit. I'm writing from Hastings, my dad's office, in a state of high excitement. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I last wrote. When I signed off, it was with the vague intention, as you know, of attending the publishing course in New York and then pursuing some desultory course of action until I got my act together. All I can say is...well!

First, the course: it consists of about a hundred students from all over the country + 2 Canadians and an Australian. I and maybe three other girls (the ratio's 80/20 and let's just say the odds are good for straight men) live off-campus; the rest are in a dorm. The program starts with three weeks on books and ends with three on magazines. We have lectures thrice daily from various luminaries in the publishing world, hobnob with them at sherry hours and receive lots of free books -- it's all excellent fun.

The book portion of things ends with "the book workshop," in which ten groups of ten are formed into pretend "presses" and are given a week to put together a Fall list of six titles. I was editor in the "Independent press," Boldface Books. The way it works is, you come up with lots of book ideas, and then various industry pros approve them or not. You contact possible authors for the hypothetical projects, obtain their real-life consent and get an estimate. Then we put together tip-sheets, covers, P&L sheets etc. etc. I am not ashamed to reveal that my press's final list was described as the best our evaluators had ever seen -- even though it meant a week of sleepless nights and the hatred of all our peers. (Incidentally, we were the only group with no infighting -- a boring but eminently satosfactory state of affairs. We even had a congratulatory dinner at the Saigon Grill Thursday night. I had the appetizer sampler.)

Here's where it gets exciting -- for me, anyway. I had a book idea that garnered a lot of attention, for a Professor-and-the-Madman-style literary treasure hunt and a famous English eccentric and bibliophile (you'll recall I was reading A Book of English Eccentrics last year?) We titled it In Sir Thomas's Library and our designer did a wonderful cover. I spent hours on the descriptive copy.

One of the finales of the project was a book auction with the real-life head buyer for Barnes and Noble, who loved the idea and bought out our entire print run (you'd have to have been immersed in the publoshing world for three weeks to find this exciting, I realize.) Afterwards, the publisher of a VERY respectable imprint approached me and asked, would I like to write this book?

Upon hearing this, the program head, eager to keep me in publishing, called me with a very good offer for a high-up job in a great house.
"Just do me a favor and interview," she said. "I've told them you're the one to hire."

The upshot is, I have interviews for both -- job and book -- tomorrow afternoon. The job means security and benefits in a lovely, congenial, literary world of long standing. The book means tons of research and a move to England. Either way, someone's feeling will be hurt and I'm frightfully nervous. By tomoroow evening, my future will be set.

I bought some interview gear today. A gray pencil skirt, black v-neck top and light pink d'orsay pumps.With these I'll sport my rose suede purse, coral earrings and my new, uber-cool feathered hairdo.

I've been so sick with nerves an indecision these last few days that I found it necessary to sit around doing nothing -- in lieu, mind you, of Rock and Rollerskate at Office OPs in East Williamsburg! This involves roller-skating around new bands, who play in a cage, with a lot of hipsters. Excellent fun. Said one friend when I described it to her, "How much do I love this city?" My sentiments exactly.

Following my group's dinner Thursday, I decided to go be by myself. I took the 1 downtown to Christopher street with the intention of getting a cupcake at the Magnolia Bakery, but on the spur of the moment, I went to a fortune-teller. Here is what she saw:

-Long life.
-Three kids, maybe twins.
-An illness in the family, hospital, no death.

Love:
-A man in my life who cares for me, but making career a priority. Ready for committment in one year's time.
-Another man in love with me from afar (Unlikely -Ed.)

Career:
-A foreign move with good results.
-Recognition and fame.

I think there was something in there about yoga, too, but I can't remember fo r sure.

Anyway, in the evening's spirit of spontanaiety, I got a banana pudding instead of a cupcake. I was deep in thought, let me tell you! The hipsters at the Magnolia -- there are always about ten standing around doing nothing, or maybe idly frosting something while all the Mexicans labor away at the actual baking -- were jerks, per usual, and were listening to Donovan.

I've been eating hamburgers like a mad thing. THis weekend alone, I ate at Prime Burger, Burger Heaven and Sassy's Sliders. They all score high -- the latter in particular for its movie-eating-ability. This week I think I'm due for a Corner Bistro bacon-cheeseburger. Maybe following interviews. Also may see Love Story at Bryant Park and go to Tiki Monday at the Shrunken Head, or else Punk-Metal Karaoke at Arlene Grocery...how much do I love this city? 
Monday, July 19, 2004
  So- I took the book job.  Both interviews went well -- I love interviewing, anyway -- and I was offered the publishing job, but after talking with the publisher at some length, in Boerum Hill, I couldn't say no.  Less security, sure -- but I think I'd regret it if I said no.  I liked the publishing job, too -- the boss was nice and the atmosphere was collegial and serene.  Then too, there's a little something to be said for security and health insurance.  Here's what's to be said about them at my age: not worth giving up your dreams.  One could certainly argue that my dreams have never really included writing a lengthy non-fiction research book, but I like to think they've acquired some flexibility in their old age.
 
I'm in Dutch at the course for turning that job down, though.  Oh well, c'est la vie.  My book has caused a minor sensation in the course and I must say it'll be nice to be back in Old Limey.  I have leads on several excellent people there (to say nothing of Guyon) with whom to break bread.  Thinking: a three-four month stint in London, subletting.  Then I'll spring for a Brooklyn studio and live the bachelorette life for a year or so. 
 
Re: my high school reunion -- an unqualified triumph!  I wore: my hankerchief hem teal jersey skirt, strappy sandals, a black tank and no glasses.  Remarks were made re: beauty.  By "unqualified triumph" I mean a bit of a bore, I suppose, but there are certainly worse things. 
 
Gosh, what a little braggart.  I'll stubble it. 
 
This past weekend, I saw Taylor Meade at the Bowery Poetry Club.  The event consisted of approximately me, Taylor Meade and three other people.  The Warhol Cohort and NYC institution sat on a stage and regaled us for 45 minutes with bitter screeds, pornographic poetry and occasional emissions from an ancient radio. 
 
Following this, I hightailed it to Veselka, the venerable 24-hr Ukrainian on 2nd Avenue, where I met my friend Mary and her boyfriend for a Peirogi dinner.  THen and only then did I proceed to Bayard Street in Chinatown for a night of superlative karaoke with about fifteen friends.  I opened with "Georgy Girl" and ended with a bravura "I Want You to Want Me" -- think wild dancing, head-banging, air guitar -- the works.  Everyone was great -- there wasn't a shrinking violet in the bunch.  Highlights included "Billie Jean," "Living on a Prayer" and provocative dancing with a Chinese guy who worked there -- not by me.  The magic was there -- karaoke will never again be as much fun.  The place?  Tillie's -- a Chinese-owned wood-paneled dive with a great list and red horsehoe banquettes. 
 
Saturday involved a visit to Coney Island and the indie rock Siren Fest with about five chums.  Kids in the course are fantastic -- really game. 
 
Now we're on the "magazine workshop" part of things.  I'm editor in chief for the shelter mag, Nook, and so far, so good.  Hours are rather more reasonable than those of the book version.  I have every hope of getting out of Dodge pre-midnight.  But then, hope does spring eternal you-know-where. 
 
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
  Chums-

So, at the exorbitant cost of $150, my publishing packet was dispatched and received. It came as an unwelcome shock. Seems that by 6/14 I have to have submitted five assignments -- a manuscript review; an assignment on book promotion (book included); some kind of tricked-out resume; a "sales" assigment that involves visiting ten different bookstores and an idea for a book and its promotion -- except each of these has five explanatory pages. It did seem to me that this was a lot to do in a week already chock ablock with packing and traveling on cheap airlines (I'm assuming the non-expats have had it a good week longer) esp. considering the fact that there's another five due the following Monday, on magazines.

I panicked briefly, then thought, well, SOS, you're always jawing on about what an accomplished hack you are -- get to! So I did. It was the work of a moment to read the manuscript (only 300 pp, double-spaced) and jot off a negative review (hackneyed message, unconvincing dialogue, confusing genre-mixing, insufficient character development). It pained me to reject that much typed matter, but knowing it's probably already been accepted or rejected made me feel less guilty. I did a draft of the resume accpording to their criteria (a crap job -- this kind of thing -- the precision of fonts and spacing -- is my weak point. Precision, generally, you could say.) I started the second book, The Love Wife so as to have it despatched by flight time and be unencumbered to read trash. And then I produced a brilliant proposal for an original nonfiction title: The Crackpot Manifesto: An Eccentric's Guide to Life. As this was a well-developed idea, I was able to outline my notions pretty thoroughly: the chapter ideas, the historical snippets about oddballs through the ages, venues for citing eccentrics, eccentric types...) The rub is that now I'm supposed to propose a writer for it. The best writer would be, evidement, me, but Guyon said that would be a bad move so I'm going to find some pop-culture prof on the internet and stick his name on. That's what they want -- someone unaffiliated.

My magazine idea is for a children's cooking rag. Bad on advertising, I've been told, but still a nifty concept, I think. The best part is that the prof grading that assignment is CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL! Christopher Kimball! Only the editor of Cook's Illustrated -- only the head of Boston Common Press -- only the author of The Dessert Bible!!!!!

The truth is that I'm going to be way outclassed, precision and detail-wise, by a lot of those types who always did the most elaborate science projects. There's a lot of scope for that sort of thing, and I'm absolute rubbish at it, being naturally slapdash. However, I have confidence in my ideas, and couldn't really care less about lying about liking Pinter or anything, and so all will be well. Anyway, I'll probably just knock off eventually and write the Crackpot Manifesto. This will all be tremendous fun.

Zounds, do I hate hot weather! I always forget how much. I always look slightly more like a wilted lettuce leaf than anyone else on the planet, too -- red-faced, frizzy-haired, miserable. There must be some cooling mechanism I can employ. I've heard about cooling moisturizers and stuff. Sounds rubbish, but possibly worth looking into.

I'm taking an afternoon off for souvenir purposes. Tomorrow, after all, is my last full day. The Cathedral gave me a lovely copy of the Junior Guild Cookbook and a video tape about the place -- "narrated by Miss Olivia de Havilland!" I can't wait to watch it.

Gotta scoot -- writing on v expemsive borrowed time! 
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
  By Popular Demand, an update.

So: while Guyon's old friend Jamie was visiting with us, he, my brother Charlie and I got locked out of the apartment one day. Jamie promptly took it into his head to scale the walls and push through the skylight onto the roof, from which point he could climb through an open window into the apartment. He did this in impressively short order, although with, perhaps, more expenditure of effort than might have been occasioned ny a visit to the gardienne for the spare key.

The next day, our neighbor knocked on our door for the first time and asked, had I seen those marks all over the walls and ceiling? No, I said, panicked. Well, she said, I was young, and a renter, so I probably wasn't as attentive to these things. She had spent a long time cleaning off the marks and was concerned a burglar was prowling. She would speak to the gardienne about it.

Well, I thought, at least the evidence has been expunged. I recounted the tale to the boys. Guyon, jokingly, scrawled a little "x" over our door with his key as he walked out of the apartment.

The next day, our neighbor reappeared, saying had I seen this "x?" That it was clearly a sign that our apartment had been cased by burglars, and that she's called the police, and was having all the building's codes changed. Also, would I go to the police station and file a report in person, as she had to work?

Well, this morning, I did, and was laughed out of the station by a bunch of flics. The whole thing is ridiculous and very uncomfortable. But plus ca change...

The Plan
Mark your calendars: June 23rd I get dressed up and slap someone, once, across the face in the East Village. This is an act of revenge five years in the making and one that will very likely result in my looking ridiculous and possibly being called up on charges of aggravated assault. Don't think I particularly relish the prospect, either -- but it must be done. It's a Sicilian thing. That's all I can tell you.

So many secrets! But they aren't mine to tell...

New Faces
Met a couple of femmes who are launching a salon in NYC next year. I'm in. I think the idea is that we all speak French and recreate Parisian ambiance. I don't think we're expected to be wits or anything. Once I was in a salon, briefly, that fell very flat. I had been invited as an eminent wit, but found the other wits to be a bunch of role-playing gamers. Trust this'll be a step up.

 
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
  No, actually it's finished now. Thanks for reading.  
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
  Yes, yes -- I'll write until June 10th. This has been an aberration, and an unworthy one. I'll try to log a few hours later today after my family leaves. We have houseguests as well, so v difficult. But I do think I owe you an account of yesterday's Shakespeare and Company reading, no? Here's a teaser: it was ghastly.

Oh, the exercise regimen has kind of gone by the boards (surprise, surprise) althought I'll try to leap back on the horse starting today.

Okay. Enough. 
  Yes, yes -- I'll write until June 10th. This has been an aberration, and an unworthy one. I'll try to log a few hours later today after my family leaves. We have houseguests as well, so v difficult. But I do think I owe you an account of yesterday's Shakespeare and Company reading, no? Here's a teaser: it was ghastly.

Oh, the exercise regimen has kind of gone by the boards (surprise, surprise) althought I'll try to leap back on the horse starting today.

Okay. Enough. 
Friday, May 21, 2004
  I think this weblog has about run its course, don't you? It can't go on indefinitely and I think my departure date in June would be a logical endpoint. One can't deny that there's something of vanity publishing about the whole thing, anyway -- if one wants to write, better to do it and not mess around with this sort of nonsense, right? It's useful for me to organize my thoughts and keep my hand in, and it's nice to have a journal of my time here. I like keeping grandparents etc. in the loop, too, but otherwise there's no reason to keep up, as I've always kept a nearly-identical private journal anyway. Maybe if I embark on another adventure, it'll be one thing...but I don't see any in the near future.

That's what I think, anyway.  
An Exercise in Narcissism, Sort Of

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