Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Big Plunge: National Novel Writing Month

This year I swear I'm doing it: writing an entire novel between November 1 and 30. And by posting about it now I'm relying on all of you to call me a big fat loser if I don't complete 50,000 words in 30 days. Hopefully this little endeavor will knock the bitchy over-critical Editor-MinervaJane right out of my head. Because how can it possibly be any good if I spill words at that rate? So: can I write a shitty meandering novel in that amount of time? You bet I can.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Happiness Is: Planning A New Trip

I think I've mentioned this before, but next March Rod and I will celebrate ten years together. Not ten years of marriage (we only tied the knot back in '04) but of couple-hood. Which, in our eyes, is just as big a milestone.

So we've decided we're going to do something special to celebrate. Something like a big fat vacation to someplace cool.

On the list of possible candidates so far:

Costa Rica for hiking & beach excursions
Sardinia or Crete for archaeological site visiting & wine tasting
Baja for Low-key Beach Writing Retreat

I'm so excited about all the reading & research I'm going to have to do!

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yoga To The People

Last night I went to a yoga class for the first time at the yoga-for-everyone studio Yoga To The People. $10 got me a space in the crowded hall for what turned out to be a Power Vinyasa class ala Brian Krest. This meant a lot of extra pushes from chaturanga to plank and a whole slew of ab moves at the end that usually aren’t a part of the vinyasa choreography. (My upper arms are shot, by the way.)

I loved being a part of such a large crowd—there were about 50 of us—and we were scrunched so close together my feet and fingers brushed my neighbors as I moved in and out of poses. He encouraged us to breath loudly, to sigh, to let a big “Ahhhhhh” out as we groaned and moved along our mats. There was something liberating about that release. I'm usually pretty quiet, but last night I found myself moaning as loud as I could with the rest of them. It felt good to let go that way. By the end of class all the windows were steamed up and everybody was drenched in sweat.

I won’t lie: I needed to push out all those bad feelings I’d been having yesterday. Needed to wring myself out like a damp towel, all that angst dripping out pose by pose.

But I have to admit I really missed the spirituality side of it all. I go to yoga for meditation and movement wedded to something higher, a feeling like I’m a part of a tradition and a truth more ancient than myself. I’m not a particularly religious person and I haven’t gone to church since I graduated from my chi-chi religious high school, but yoga has become something half-way between fitness and a sermon for me. And while I enjoyed the YTTP class and will probably go back from time to time (a $10 yoga class in NYC?!), I can’t imagine that type of yoga ever becoming my main focus.

A few oms before we begin moving and a constant focus on the spirit within, on the goal of yoking body to mind, is what I need at this stage in my life in this city in this body.

So: Namaste, y'all.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Some Days When I Close My Eyes

I can just see the life I've been imagining for myself all along: filled with color and art and giggling babies and boisterous friends, scented with flowers and cooking food and the growing earth.

I've been wishing so hard for so long I'm not sure I know how to just be anymore.

Maybe I'll be ready to share more on that next week, but for now I just need to marinate on how to get back to a place of balance. How to not want so much that I can't see what's in front of me.

Ah, the cryptic nature of Minerva Jane shines through once more.

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Best Advice Ever

Arrived in my InBox today, in the form of Real Simple's Daily Thoughts.

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. - Mark Twain."

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why I Love Time Out NY

I'm going to quote an entry in the Oct 18-24 edition of Time Out NY in its entirety because its just too good.

From page 78, under Travel:

"Comedy-Improv and Yoga retreat

Leon Trotsky--founder of the Red Army and influential Soviet demagogue--was born on Nov 7 1879 and was assassinated by Stalinist agents in Mexico in 1940. As fortune would have it, this comedy-improve and yoga retreat begins on Trotsky's birthday and is situated six miles from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. What are the chances? The retreat runs from Nov 7 to 11, and attendees will experience breathtaking views, holistic health and spa services, artisanal cuisine and a comedy workshop--all free from the terrors of Communist hit men. Price does not include airfare. For more info, go to or call 323-924-5950. $1,160-$1,460."

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Eerie Accuracy Of My Google Homepage Add-ons

I’m pretty much convinced that the folks over at Google either have a T3 to God himself or are somehow psychically eavesdropping on my life.

As if Google Earth and Google Reader weren’t enough, they now have Beta versions of Google Transit and Google Mars (which is going to be TOTALLY useful).

All of which was sort of big brotherish and strange enough until I started noticing something funny about my Google Homepage add-ons.I have customized it just the way I want it: Daily Einstein quotes, Quotes of the Day, Horoscope, Buddhist Thought of the Day, Weather, Recipe of the Day. Yada yada yada.

All good add-ons great for a few minutes of diversion while I transition from morning blah to powerhouse Minerva Jane.

The weird thing is over the last few days the content of these add-ons have all strangely coincided with the tenor and current of my life.

An example? Last night I write an email to my friend, long known to readers of this blog as SFMark, about the fact that I want to make apple pie during our Friends Thanksgiving next month in the Catskills and what should the recipe o’ the day be this morning? Apple pie.

But wait. It gets stranger. More complicated even.

My horoscope today said, among other things: “You stand to gain much in your casual relationships now, but you'll have to go out of your way to be a part of the group, rather than remaining outside of the castle.” Now I have a long history of letting my shyness and naturally reserved nature isolate me. And since we moved to NYC I’ve made a few friends, but not a whole lot. We’ve got our own media company, headquarted on the sofa with satellite offices in local coffee shops like Tazza, Tea Lounge and Think. It’s been great and business is actually growing at a pace we never thought possible, but it means no real colleagues and office friendships. Rod, since he grew up on Long Island, has a ton of family and friends and while I love them all, they’re still a part of
his past, his world. I need my own realm so to speak. And it’s just been pretty hard for me to move outside my comfort zone.

Saturday afternoon on our hike in the woods back behind their Virginia farm, my Dad and I talked about this at length. About how I tend to hang back. About how that might not be good for me in the long run. And then, this morning, on my Google home page, there’s that prediction:
you'll have to go out of your way to be a part of the group.


But the clincher was the Quote of the Day, as follows: “When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package. - John Ruskin” Which was exactly the point I’d gotten myself to by the time I opened up my laptop and clicked on the Firefox icon. All this talk of confidence and introverts versus extroverts and social networks and feeling isolated and wishing I was more—I don’t know—
more some how had tornadoed in my brain to something more intense than it ought to be and I was feeling more than a little obsessed with my own schtick . But that quote snapped me back. In the end, being wrapped up in yourself is worse than being a little shy and feeling a little lonely in a city as vast as NY.

The bottom line? I need to get over myself. That and chill the fuck out. Easier said than done, but there you go.

A complete existential crisis resolved in the course of a few minutes, courtesy of Google.

Which begs the question: who the hell are these guys?

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Monday, October 22, 2007

The List
Last year I started a running list of things I want to do during my lifetime. Just about once a month I read over this list--adding new goals, altering details, or deleting items. And every time I edit The List I spend a good deal of time daydreaming about how each task might unfold. I figure if I keep up my healthy eating & exercise routine I have a good 66 more years to accomplish my goals. (I'm being conservative and aiming for 100...)

And oddly enough, most of the list involves travel.

Take a look. Then tell me: what's on your list?

1. Be an extra in a movie or television show.
2. Take trapeze lessons.
3. Travel across Virginia in the end of October in a hot air balloon. (The fall colors!)
4. Take tango dancing lessons.
5. Go trekking in Nepal.
6. Spend the winter in Costa Rica writing.
7. Have a professional photo shoot in a field with wildflowers. (I know. Such a cheese.)
8. Learn to flip an omelet perfectly.
9. Get fitted for a bra at a fancy schmancy lingerie shop.
10. Go on a yoga-adventure vacation (hiking or kayaking) in South or Central America.
11. Go hiking in Cinque Terre, Italy.
12. Visit Australia and/or New Zealand.
13. Take a yoga class every day for one month.
14. Go camping at Big Sur for a week.
15. Take a tantric yoga class.
16. Finish writing that second novel.
17. Write a screenplay.
18. Become a certified yoga teacher and develop a yoga for creativity class.
19. Go to the Denali National Park.
20. Write a book of travel essays.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday Scribbling: My First Act as Queen of the World

So I've decided to participate in this online writing group. Each week they post a writing prompt and on Sunday you post your responses and link back to the site.

This weeks is "My first act as Queen/ King of the World will be..."

And here's my first response. Whoo-hoo!

My first Act as Queen of the World would be to dole out one free wish to every person in the world. They’d be free to spend this wish anyway they’d like at any point in their lives. Some would spend it right away, on frivolous or poorly considered whims. Others might hoard it for years, only in later life spending it on selfless and noble endeavors or long-nurtured dreams and aspirations. Or any combination of the above. The only catch would be that once the wish was spent they’d have to describe in detail to me how and why they chose what they chose and if the wish did what they hoped it would or if it changed their lives in ways unanticipated or anticipated, unwelcome or welcome.

Because as a writer, I’m nothing if not a voyeur. And I find the things people long for endlessly interesting.

If you have a few moments, check out the Sunday Scribblings website as well as a list of other contributors.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tomatoes In October

I’m down in Charlottesville, VA visiting my parents for the weekend—my Mom’s 64th birthday and a Monday board meeting for the cancer foundation they started a few years back. It’s 80 degrees, same as Brooklyn. Warm and humid. But it didn’t really strike me just how weird this weather has been until I went on an afternoon walk with my father and saw their garden: several peppers and tomatoes still ripening on each plant. In late October. Red and gold and brown leaves sparkling in the trees along the edge of the back field all the same. It was the most surreal thing I’ve seen in a while.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Things That Make Me Snort In Laughter

You heard me. Snort. An unattractive habit but there you go. (According to Rod I also have a hyena-like laugh when tiggled for extended periods of time.

But something I just snorted at is this blog:

The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks

Please please please go check it out.

(And now that I think about it someone should create a blog with covertly-taken cell phone images of folks doing the "air" quotation marks as they speak. People from all over the world could contribute!)

Now. Back to work.

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Technology Rocks

I'm on an Amtrak train working on my laptop, posting to various blogs via our brand spanking new AirCard 875U.

And yes, I still covet the iPhone. But it doesn't change my happiness in any way in this moment.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

There'll be days like this...

Yesterday was a doozy for me. Insomnia the night before, stressed for no fucking good reason and, well, you get the picture. Then someone send me a link to this today and it made me both jump out of my seat and crack up.

Good thing, too, because I was two seconds away from shoplifting some dental floss. (Just kidding!)
Doris Lessing Rocks

That's been true for a while. But now that she's won the Nobel Prize, hopefully more people will discover her.

If you haven't read The Fifth Child, pick up a copy ASAP. I'm also a fan of her classic The Golden Notebook and the Canopus In Argos series.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stress Shoplifting

I heard a crazy story last week. This woman told me a co-worker confessed that when he got really stressed out he'd go to a local drugstore and shoplift dental floss as a way to relax.

Dental floss. I mean, you'd think you'd just grab whatever was most accessible: a pack of gum one week, floss the next, maybe a barrette.

I've been thinking about it for days and I think there are three things that kill me about this one: 1) the obsession with dental floss, which in itself is weird; 2) wouldn't shoplifting cause stress rather than relieve it? And most of all: isn't this the type of thing you'd wanna hide from a coworker rather than brag about?

But I'm totally using the detail in a story. Way too good to pass up.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Paul Giamatti At Noodle Pudding; George Clooney & Brad Pitt Film In Brooklyn Heights

We sat next to Paul Giamatti last night at Noodle Pudding here in Brooklyn Heights. He was with his wife and kid and I have to say it was so sweet watching them interact. He's a great father. He also ordered the same dish as me: lamb with roasted squash and arugula. Which was good, albeit a little underdone.

And earlier in the week they were filming some movie with Brad Pitt and George Clooney back behind our street. (They changed the street signs on Clinton & State to 30th &M NW so something tells me this was supposed to be DC. Which--given all the brownstones--isn't so far-fetched.) All the stunt trailers were parked along Atlantic Ave. Boy do those guys get shafted. Some of them were so friggin small I can't imagine there was enough room to do more than change your clothes.

But damn do I love my 'hood! Always something going on.

And the people are super nice. One local resident even let Brad Pitt use her toilet when he had to go in the middle of shooting. I'm not kidding: read the Brooklyn Heights blog if you don't believe me.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Elizabeth Gilbert's A Fucking Genius

This quote from "Thoughts On Writing" on her website is one of the most honest things I think I've ever heard another writer say.

"As for discipline – it’s important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck. When I was writing “Eat, Pray, Love”, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows."



Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Message From The Universe?

There's something wrong with my laptop's battery. Every time it drains to 40% the whole system just crashes. And when I restart? The date and time mysteriously resets to December 31, 1969 at 7:48:38 pm.

Every freaking time.

Weird, huh?

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